How The Hell Did I Get This Old?

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How The Hell Did I Get This Old?

If I ever get my hands on Father Time he’ll pay big time for schlepping me kicking and screaming into the so-called Golden Years.

Did you ever notice that life is like a roll of toilet paper? The closer you get to the end the faster it goes. So you’re asking yourself if I’m comparing life to toilet paper, which would be the obvious conclusion and yet you’d be wrong. Life is far more complex than paper and the ability to explain or analyze it as a phenomenon is for wiser minds than mine.

However that said, life isn’t without its moments of perplexing and insufferable crap, but I shall choose the high road and say that as one nears the end of the journey we are left with a conundrum…if we were given the chance for a do over, would we?

So as we face the goldest part of our golden years filled with wisdom, experience and a sheer and flagrant who-gives-a-damn-anymore attitude are we truly prepared to jump back on for another ride on the scariest merry go round of all, youth?

Of course most agree that another shot at life would be counterproductive if we couldn’t do the do over with the information we’ve garnered from this ride, so I’d probably wonder if it were worth making that journey without benefit of what I’ve learned and even a few lifeline calls to a friend along the way.

Not sure I’d want to go through natural childbirth again, but I hope next time around I’d opt for an epidural from their conception until they finish high school.

Ah, but would I, you see that’s the rub, because who’s to say one wouldn’t make even worse decisions than before and find an even more challenging life waiting as we begin again?

And of course what a journey it is and the trite and misguided belief that we’d do things differently given the chance doesn’t hold much water for the simple reason most of us never do when we are given the chance every day.

That’s the catch of course. We wake up each morning more wise and experienced than the day before, at least that’s the theory, and yet most of us cling to the same paradigms and behaviors that have created our lives.

Larry David one of the most gifted and out-there comic minds of my generation took on this topic on Seinfeld in the fifth season. Entitled The Opposite, Jerry proposes the theory to George Costanza, “If every instinct you have is wrong than the opposite would have to be right.”

In simplicity there is genius. Of course when he enacts this new mindset his life changes for the better and all is well for George.

Yet, although this seems like a great solution done in a comic forum, we actually are faced with this choice each day. In the end it can work to a degree, but the problem may be that just doing the opposite is not always an option.

Not every choice in life is black and white, up or down, yes or no. So many of the decisions we make are sideways and complex, requiring so much more than a simplistic way of thinking.

Doing the opposite doesn’t mean choosing one thing over another because it can also pertain to behavior choices.

If you walk down the street with your head down, perhaps you might try lifting it up, saying hello and smiling at passersby. I’m not certain that would change your life, but because someone may have needed your smile that day to make a life changing decision of their own it was a good decision. May even garner you a few positive karma points.

So in the end often what we do doesn’t just affect us alone.

If we have the chance for a do over every day of our lives how many actually embrace the opportunity? Since I can’t find any study done on the issue I’ll surmise not many.

Every experience in our lives is the opportunity for change and growth. A lesson learned either to be embraced or discarded and we make that choice constantly.

The answer to whether or not you’d live your life over isn’t yes or no, it’s have you been doing that already.

I’m a firm believer in instinct. That little feeling or whisper in the pit of your stomach that tells you when something isn’t kosher. Of course so many of us just tell the voice saying, “don’t do it,” to shut up and go blindly ahead only to regret our decision later.

What in the world would ever make us think that simply coming back into the world starting anew would be different, whether or not we had prior knowledge?

I’ve heard people say, “so and so has great instincts.” So begs the question did they actually hone them or were they some sort of cosmic gift to allow them to make better choices. Perhaps it’s a bit of both in the end, but I do believe that it’s never too late to change.

I as many others have made some pretty pretty bad choices in my life and of course we all pay a price. Very few of us escape unscathed from our own bad decisions yet too many continue to act on instincts that have proven unwise in the past.

I needn’t list them because I have neither the time nor enough memory in my computer, but we all have our own little box of bad choices to rummage through.

Since I’m actually so much older than I ever thought possible I’ve decided to use my situation for the best. From now on I’m opposite Norma and I shall indulge myself in a bit of an experiment. When faced with a choice I’ll simply ask what would I usually do and create an option quite out of character. Will it work? Who knows, because in the end I believe some choices are made for us somewhere in some cosmic storehouse that contains the road map for our life. Yes we have free will, or do we? That’s a question neither old Norma nor opposite Norma would even attempt to answer.

So because getting old allows for a what-the-hell attitude toward life, I’m game for most things now. Although there’s tons of new scary stuff out there in this crazy world I have to remind myself it’s no different for any generation.

We are all born into one world and wind up leaving another.

So have fun and try something new or choose not to, your choice.

Getting old has many benefits, not the least of which is not giving a damn what anyone says and doing exactly as you choose. We fear no one and we ain’t afraid of no ghosts.

Just don’t tell your children what you’re up to and have a ball.

 

 

 

 

I’m Speechless So I Guess Hell Froze Over

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I’m Speechless So I Guess Hell Froze Over

For those who know me and would never have fathomed I’d ever run out of things to say, I must announce that the day is finally here. Hell froze over and I’m speechless, dumbfounded and can’t even think of anything to write about.

This of course is no surprise because in order to find new and interesting things to say you need to live your life out in the world. Since that is something I can’t do right now thanks to COVID, what is new and exciting to report?

The world is an interesting place when you’re in it, but since we’re forbidden from venturing forth into the outside climes, well I have to admit it’s a bit boring.

Sure I could watch television and moan about the people going out sans mask, partying and spreading the virus to innocent people. Freedom schmeedom, because we’re free can we explode a bomb in a crowded theater? I think not.

Or perhaps I could bitch about the fact that the geniuses that run the states and cities are letting criminals out of jail so they can go on killing, raping and committing crimes in a safer environment. Should I sleep better at night knowing that someone who raped ten women is not in danger of catching the virus?

Maybe we can talk about the fact my hair looks awful, my nails are non-existent and my roots are growing faster than a politician’s lies.

We could talk about these things I suppose, but why? Life is depressing enough right now.

I’m well aware sitting home, watching television and eating isn’t a hardship, although most men would be far happier if their television schedule included sports. Sorry about that, guys. There are worse things than staying at home, sitting on the patio reading a book, feeding the squirrels and zooming with your grandchildren all day.

Yet, I’m afraid these activities don’t really make for very interesting conversation.

How many times can you ask a friend, “So what did you eat for lunch?” I sound like my father who felt monitoring his children’s caloric intake was akin to brushing your teeth each day.

I imagine one could ask, “So what did you buy online today?” Yet truly having Amazon deliver a box of Softsoap isn’t the most sparkling topic.

Besides who needs to shop when were all in our pajamas and sweats?

Okay, so here’s the deal…I’m making up a pretend life. After all I’m a writer and should have a vivid imagination so now’s my time to prove it. I’m going to tell you about the week I wish I’d had, but couldn’t because I can’t leave the damn house!

So in my imagination I’m in Roma. Italy, not Ohio. I didn’t need a plane to fly there because I took a magic carpet that I borrowed from a friend down the street who just returned from her pretend trip to Istanbul. Maybe I’ll fly there next week, no masks and lots of empty seats beside me on the rug.

Anyway we’re back in Rome and I’m walking toward the Spanish Steps. Boy, those are high and my feet are already complaining. I decide to sit for a moment observing all the thousands of people walking about in the square hurrying toward their next destination or favorite outdoor café for the world’s most delicious pasta.

Ahead of me is the Via del Corso, the premiere shopping area in Rome and women rush about carrying bags labeled Fendi, Gucci and Dior as their heels clackity clack on the cobblestone streets.

In the distance are the hills of Rome; magical and legendary like a painting by an old master.

Two kids walk by eating cones with gelato dripping down the sides, their mother wiping their hands as they struggle to keep licking their precious treat.

Four young men are standing at the base of the steps speaking Italian, smoking, laughing and checking out women as they pass. Italian men, gotta love ‘em. Some women pretend not to notice, but smile as they walk past flattered to be noticed and admired. I think how nice it would be to be young again as I pull out my phone and check Vatican tour times.

I grab a cab and head to St. Peter’s Basilica to see the impressive statue of St. Peter, his feet shiny and worn from all the pilgrims who’ve rubbed them in a desperate attempt to garner his blessings and help.

I stare up at the magnificent dome created by Michelangelo and I’m stunned by the way it catches the light filling the space with color.

To my left is a small alter containing two confessionals of dark, ancient wood. As I get closer I notice the worn steps at their entrances where so many have entered to ask forgiveness and a blessing.

I’m in line to enter the Sistine Chapel and look around at the unbelievable splendor of St. Peter’s Square filled with tourists, priests, nuns and worshippers from all over the world.

Some obese guy I’m guessing from New Jersey by his accent, in Bermudas and Adidas bumps into me and almost pushes me over as a bird poops on my shoulder. Damn, I just had this pashmina cleaned and I search for a Kleenex in my purse.

Ecstasy returns in the chapel as I’m instantly stunned by the sheer magnificence of the space. My eyes hardly know where to focus first. I sit on a bench and look up confused about what side to stare at and my eyes become glued to Adam and God nearly touching. I sit transfixed until I hear a loud clap accompanied by a loud shush. I return to earth and notice the room is still and wonder what’s happening. I continue to stare and in another twenty minutes the clap and shush once again.

I inquire about this strange incident to a nearby observer and I’m told it’s the Sistine Chapel shusher who regularly claps and shushes to reduce the noise level. I decide to apply for that plum job as soon as I leave and remain staring upward until my aching neck insists it’s had enough of all this magnificence.

I head out to an inviting restaurant in Rome’s ancient, Jewish ghetto to experience another Roman culinary masterpiece. My fat self is praying they have good stuffed squash blossoms as taxis and people whiz by me on the busy streets, overflowing with bougainvillea and the sound of clinking glasses and murmurs of “chin chin.”

I’ve left Rome and now I’m back from my adventure sitting on my couch, typing in my jammies and wondering if there are any of those yummy zucchini chips left over.

I’m wishing to see Rome again someday when all this craziness is only a horrible memory and life returns to whatever it will be. As long as Rome is still there, I’m good.

Happy travels on your own magic carpet, everyone.

 

Spinach Ricotta Balls

 

1 package 32 ounces of ricotta cheese.

1 package of spinach fresh or 2 boxes of frozen (if frozen squeezed out well)

Salt

½ cup of Parmesan Reggiano

A pinch of nutmeg

2 eggs

1 tablespoon flour

Spaghetti sauce (optional)

 

Drain the ricotta cheese in cheesecloth over a bowl until dry

Pour the ricotta into a bowl and add spinach.

Mix two eggs in a separate bowl. Add salt and at this point you may add a dash of your favorite Italian seasoning like basil or oregano to the eggs. This is your choice.

Add eggs to the ricotta and spinach and mix then add flour and mix until just incorporated.

Form into balls

At this point you may do a few things as you choose.

First add the balls to boiling water and cook until done and floating. Then serve them with sauce of your choice. May be tomato or make a sauce of brown butter and sage by melting butter in a pan with fresh sage leaves until the butter turns a golden color and smells nutty.

Second you may cook the balls in tomato sauce in the oven sprinkled with cheese. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Sinatra Gave Us “Cool”

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Sinatra Gave Us “Cool”

So we’ve all had lots of time to watch Netflix and all the rest of the streaming services that have little by little replaced network television in our hearts.

One of the things I love so much about this new entertainment chapter is the seemingly endless supply of new and interesting programming available any time night or day.

Last night at 9:30 as I crawled into bed, plumped my pillows and pulled the comfy quilt up underneath my chin, I began the flipping process hoping to land on something new and wonderful to capture my attention and escape the unpleasant reality of our COVID-covered world.

And there it was, right up front on Netflix, Sinatra, All or Nothing at all.

If there are two things my generation never seems to tire of it’s waxing nostalgic and Frank Sinatra.

So of course I began the journey of his life from birth to the end and although I had heard most of it thousands of times, I was transfixed once again.

After I’d finished watching the two-part series in tears of course, I wondered what it was about this man that so captivates and sustains our interest.

Oh yes of course we’ve had numerous superstar singers in our lifetimes, Elvis, John Lennon, Barbra, Mathis, Sammy Davis Jr. and they’ve all managed to attain legendary status.

But they just weren’t Sinatra, he was truly an original.

So why was he different? There are many reasons he’s been set apart, but one I think stands out for me…he bridges the gap between our childhoods, our rebellious teen years and our coming-of-age adulthood. His highly publicized ups and downs were out there to see and learn from.

Frank followed us through every stage of Baby Boomer life. It’s as if he arrived first to set the stage and then set the bar for cool.

Sinatra created cool. He was the very embodiment of the word and everything he touched absorbed the “coolness” from him. He and the Rat Pack even made a tacky place like Las Vegas cool. So much so that as a comedian playing Vegas for the first time I cried when I looked up and saw my name under Dean Martin’s on the marquis on the Strip.

Despite the fact he was our parents’ age, we still liked him, watched his movies and bought his records. Of course at the time we didn’t realize that one of the reasons we would not only embrace him as an artist and come to respect him as a person was that he had conquered life on his own terms.

He’d been repelled by racism and done something about it, he’d shown unbelievable loyalty to his friends, many of whom didn’t show up for him during the bad times, he’d been flawed and filled with faults, but compensated by possessing an incredible human side too endearing to ignore. He was simply his own man and no one owned or controlled him.

He didn’t worry about social norms, other’s insecurities or allowing anyone to set his limitations. He was in a word, Sinatra, and that word became a verb for our generation.

Despite mistakes he fought his way back to the top achieving even greater success and sang about high hopes and that little ant that could move a rubber tree plant. We believed him because why wouldn’t we, he was Sinatra? The man was a legend and yet just a regular Joe from Hoboken.

An ordinary guy who now hung with the 400 Newport set. He’d been at the forefront of Jack Kennedy’s election, a president we idolized. He could walk the streets of Harlem and relate to the people struggling to make it out and his humanity always shown through.

He was a strong force and didn’t need Facebook or Twitter to broadcast his message or retain fame. We didn’t have social media to point out all the shortcomings of our heroes and I’m thinking we were much the better for that.

He showed us another side of entertainers we loved like Sammy, Dean or Peter. If you hung with Sinatra and had his blessing, you had ours.

He lived the way so many wished they could. While most of us got up, went to work, raised our families, clipped coupons and wondered how actresses stayed so thin, he was Sinatraing his way through life. Dating beautiful women, hopping on planes to exciting destinations at a moment’s notice, hobnobbing with the most interesting and glamorous people in the world while doing the work he loved. He was living the Hefner dream, and men salivated while women found a strange, dreamy escape just hearing his voice.

Sinatra made no apologies, yet he acknowledged his mistakes and regrets, and like all of us he was incredibly human while creating the impression he wasn’t at all.

In the age of Superman who disguised as Clark Kent could leap tall buildings in a single bound, Sinatra leapt over convention and life’s obstacles to “do it his way.”

We never had any illusions about being Superman and those who attempted flying wound up in hospital emergency rooms with broken limbs. Yet somewhere deep inside we all believed we could be Sinatra. Cool, persistent, and able to leap over life’s insurmountable hurdles, while remaining hip and happening no matter what life threw our way. He wasn’t politically correct and shamelessly adored women and called them “dolls,” but that was a different era and he was a man of his times.

I was never lucky or perhaps unlucky enough to meet him, (that whole taboo about meeting our idols) but when I was the editor of the newspaper in Beverly Hills I attended a party after he was gone that Barbara Sinatra threw at his home in Palm Springs. I stood in the billiard room scanning the photos of the Rat Pack and others who’d held one of the pool cues lined up on the wall, glazed over like someone in a room filled with famous ghosts.

A final point, I was with friends in Miami when I was twenty-one years old. One night we went to Jilly’s hoping to catch a glimpse of Frank and his friends at one of their favorite haunts.

No we didn’t see The Voice or any members of the Rat Pack that night, but I had the best Egg Foo Young I’ve ever eaten. Yes, for those who know me, and how much I love food I reiterate, best anywhere anytime!

All I can say is leave it to Frank Sinatra to know where to get the best Egg Foo Young. But of course when you’re that cool, you would, right?

Crispy Chocolate Egg Foo Young

 

6 eggs

1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1 cup almonds

1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

1 cup chocolate chips (may use semi sweet, milk, dark or white as you prefer)

Beat eggs and add all ingredients. Pour into ¼ inch canola oil mixed with 1 tablespoon butter. Fry until crispy on both sides.

Serve with melted chocolate sauce.

Melted chocolate sauce

1 cup semi sweet chocolate morsels

½ cup milk chocolate morsels or block form

1 cup cream

1 teaspoon of rum flavoring or champagne whatever you choose. This is optional if you want it family friendly.

Heat cream until hot, but not boiling and pour over chocolate then mix until melted. Add liquor of your choice, and mix.

Pour over chocolate Egg Foo Young or any dessert you wish.

 

 

 

 

 

Are We There Yet, Mommy? Are We There Yet, Daddy?

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Are We There Yet, Mommy?

Are We There Yet, Daddy?

As every parent knows, the most annoying question bar none is, “are we there yet?”

How many of us have had to sit in the car and listen to that question ad nauseum from their children?

Okay my turn…Are we there yet, is COVID gone?

I am sooo over this whole hanging-in-the-house thing. I’ve been patient, stayed put watching Netflix, ate healthy and took walks.

Now I’ve morphed into shoveling in chocolate chip cookies and popcorn and spend more time flipping channels than watching programs.

Although I know the vaccine will be here in October, what will that mean?

The older generation won’t be running out to get stuck until they watch to see if anyone drops dead.

We’re too old to be guinea pigs and we’d rather watch from the sidelines than jump into the game. Besides jumping isn’t an option when you need a walker or cane and are still doing physical therapy for your new knee or hip.

So how will we ever get back to normal?

Aha! That’s the rub because even when we get out of lockdown, captivity or self-imposed quarantine the world we once knew is no longer there.

I feel like Burgess Meredith in the Twilight Zone episode when after a nuclear war he finally had all the time in the world to read his books unencumbered and he broke his glasses.

The pre-COVID world was a different place and especially senior citizens will have to accept that the world they knew is gone.

So what will replace the old world?

Well, COVID is not the lynchpin that created the changes, it only intensified what was already transforming.

Ever since 9/11 we’ve had to face the fact that the freedom of movement we’ve always enjoyed since the advent of air travel has been severely restricted.

Terrorism impeded our ability to run amuck along with our own aging bodies.

Sure we figured out a way to get that new hip, but we haven’t figured out a way to see London Bridge without a lunatic running up and stabbing people. Or walking through a German Christmas market without crazies attacking, attending a concert or sightseeing in Madrid or Nice or any number of insane events we’ve witnessed.

I haven’t mentioned Israel because terrorism is a way of life for them and something one accepts when they head there for a visit.

Yet impediments aside we’ve grabbed our passports, packed our carry on and bitten the bullet. We’ve become the “oh-well-what-will-be-will-be” generation and decided that our priority was to live, travel and see the world despite the obvious risks.

So what’s changed? Plenty.

We once believed that after those trips to London, Rome, Vienna or Prague, visits to Singapore, China or Viet Nam we’d return home to our safe perch in America.

Sure, crime existed, but we felt safe and secure in front of our televisions watching baseball and munching on chips and guacamole while running outside to check the ribs on the grill.

Guess that’s over. America is not the same country now.

After COVID most assume we’ll just go back to business as usual, unscathed and unafraid.

Sorry, we need a reality check here. Cities are burning, law and order is in flux and familiar sights and sounds in our communities are gone.

Neighbors who once disagreed over which football team would prevail now refuse to talk to one another over politics.

Families have separated, friendships been destroyed, cities are in chaos, favorite businesses closed, entire sections of communities burned and boarded up.

It’s like walking out of your house after a nuclear holocaust and into a city in ruins.

Am I exaggerating? Actually I’m not sure, but I hope I am. I’m also from Detroit where it took 53 years to bring back a city torn to shreds and resembling London after the blitz, so there’s that.

So many people I know have said they are through traveling and will be staying closer to home.

Yes, cocooning is the new norm. People will entertain in their houses, man caves and she sheds will become palatial and so well appointed the Four Seasons will pale by comparison.

Media rooms will be enhanced and back yards will feature the same elements as the most fabulous five star resorts.

Lush landscaping, pools and recreational games will fill what once was a grass-filled area.

In case anyone doubts that things have changed just do an attitude check on your own friends.

Everybody is just a little bit crankier than they were four months ago. Oh sure everyone is trying to be so brave and double chins up (that would be as a result of the COVID 15 pound gain) but we all know we’re totally over this and ready to break out.

Actually, that’s the irony. After the initial run outside to our cars, faster than a racer at the Indy 500 I’m sure, and that visit or two to the mall, lunch with friends and dinner out on Saturday night, one news story about a rise in crime and we’ll all be hanging in the man cave watching football and sucking down beers like it’s Superbowl Sunday every weekend.

I’ve promised myself I’ll travel more and have my destinations all picked out, but will my will be diminished by a new terrorist attack or perhaps a few new cases of the virus popping up? Or maybe by China unleashing some new plague from some bat they’ve been harboring in a lab somewhere?

The world has changed dramatically and although we all want to believe that once we can hit the ground running we will, our habits have changed and we may not.

We now order Amazon and watch Netflix on that new 80-inch smart TV, we love that new patio furniture and those plans for an outdoor kitchen like our best friends just installed.

Whether we’ve realized it or not we’re now conditioned to staying close to home where we feel safe and secure against an onslaught of insanity that permeates the outside world.

When the virus is gone, that will be gone, but it won’t take with it the other tragic changes we’ve witnessed in our communities and that is what will ultimately define our new lifestyles.

Are we there yet? Perhaps soon, but where we’ll be when we get there, now that remains to be seen.

   Champagne Grape and Almond Chicken

4 chicken breasts or boneless thighs

flour for dusting

½ cup of champagne

½ cup seedless red grapes

½ cup seedless green grapes

½ cup sliced almonds

½ cup of chopped celery or bok choy

1 ½ cups of heavy cream

½ teaspoon of tarragon

salt and pepper

Season chicken with salt and pepper and dust with flour

Sauté chicken in a mix of butter and oil until done

Add celery or bok choy or both and sauté for a few minutes, but keep the crunch in the vegetables

Remove chicken and set aside

Add champagne and deglaze pan then add cream, grapes, tarragon and salt and pepper to taste.

Lower heat and simmer until cream coats back of a spoon. High heat will break the cream and ruin the dish. Always thicken cream sauces on a low heat and never boil.

Add back chicken and reheat then serve immediately with almonds on the top.

 

 

 

 

 

From Clarabell to COVID-19. Have Baby Boomers Come Full Circle?

spaghettipie

 

 

From Clarabell to COVID-19.

Have Baby Boomers Come Full Circle?

As a child, Wednesday was my favorite day. Why? Well as any Baby Boomer knows that was “Anything Could Happen Day.”

This piece of information means little to anyone under seventy of course, but to my generation not privy to the wonders of Alexa and Instagram, “Anything Can Happen Day” meant mystery, excitement and something unique was about to enter our unsophisticated worlds.

For those of you who don’t remember and I’m sure you’re few, “Anything Can Happen Day” was the weekday on the Mickey Mouse Club when we could be surprised by a guest, adventure or anything out of the ordinary.

The other days we pretty much knew what to expect. Monday was “Fun With Music” Tuesday was the guest star, Thursday was “Circus” and Friday was “Talent Round Up.” We were also treated to serials like Spin and Marty, Corky and White Shadow, Annette, The Hardy Boys, all shows we anticipated and watched faithfully? Okay, why?

Was it merely because we secretly longed to be Mouseketeers or Meesketeers like Cubby and Karen? Were the Mooseketeers, Roy and Jimmy with his “mouseguitar” so appealing? Beats me, but I’d love to hear some thoughts and opinions about why we were so dedicated to those mouse ears.

As you probably guessed I have some theories or I wouldn’t have brought this up in the first place.

I think it was partly the thrill of belonging to something that was not only featured on that great new innovation that possessed us called television, but also that these kids were our age.

Our worlds back in the fifties were very small and protected. Most families had one car and we walked to school. Our friends were in our own neighborhoods and within walking distance, which is why we socialized with kids on our block.

Suddenly there was this new great invention that took us to worlds far away with people outside our sphere.

We became interested in their lives and adventures and felt a part of some strange new unique planet we could reach by simply turning a knob.

The Mickey Mouse ears were a symbol of something beyond ourselves and outside our comfort zones that made us feel energized and curious.

We were joiners back then, Soupy Sales had his Birdbath Club with its membership card and we could also buy and wear our own mouse ears.

We were cub, brownies, girl and boy scouts and this belonging seemed to come natural to us.

The delight in the assurance the world was far larger than our small corner made us hunger for more.

After we outgrew the Mouse, and I’m not certain we ever really did because Disney has remained a big part of all our lives, it was all about American Bandstand.

We rushed home from school to watch ABC’s daily dose of teen addiction as all the regulars danced their way through the show. There was a guest singing and chatting with Dick Clark or as I refer to him, the Dorian Gray of our generation. That man never aged and although he was a nice man I’m sure he had a picture in the attic somewhere that was growing old while he stayed young.

Just like the Mickey Mouse years we reveled in the feeling of being a part of the Bandstand phenomenon and bought magazines to keep up with the lives of regulars like Pat Molittieri, Justine Carrelli, Bob Clayton, Arlene Sullivan, Kenny Rossi and Carole Scaldeferri.

Wow! I’m freaking out right now that I remembered those names without having to look them up. Please don’t ask me what I had for lunch yesterday but fifty years ago, no problem. Actually the sixties are much clearer to me now than when I lived them.

But I digress.

What does it say about our generation that we were so willing to leap on the bandwagon and embrace Howdy Doody, Soupy, Micky and Bandstand?

Can we judge it as negative or was it truly one of the most positive things we ever encountered?

Okay, I’m going with positive here and not just because all my readers know how I feel about Black Tooth and White Fang.

Those early shows actually shaped our characters more than we knew and the lessons were subliminally woven through the fabric of our lives.

First, we became eager participants in society. Our experiences with these shows or the clubs they offered were positive reinforcement for the importance of being a part of something greater that existed outside oneself.

Second, it provided a better sense of the vastness of the universe. Our worlds were small and contained, but we were suddenly able to travel to distant lands and observe places that offered us new adventures in addition to reading. Sure, we had the cardboard spaceship of Flash Gordon, but no one was buying that whole flying-through-space-on-that-primitive- paper-cutout were they?

Third, it taught us that knowledge could be obtained anywhere. Outside of the schoolroom we continued to learn and grow as individuals.

And perhaps one of the most hidden and obscure subliminal messages came from Clarabell, Howdy’s favorite clown. No, I haven’t lost what’s left of my mind. Although he could only honk his horn to converse we realized that speech isn’t the only path to understanding and communication, and often we need to listen with our ears, instincts and at times our hearts.

We also discovered that “Anything Can Happen Day” is not only a metaphor for life because each day is unknown, but something we should embrace and if we’re open to the unexpected many amazing journeys await us.

There was nothing overt about these lessons and they seeped into our souls without our awareness they’d found a home. Yet they colored our lives, helped create the people we became and still today remain part of whom we are.

So by now you’re wondering how COVID-19 enters into this discussion. Well sadly it seems to have brought us full circle.

All the lessons of our childhoods that propelled us out into the world to travel, socialize and absorb are now stifled by this horrible invader that has us locked down. Once again we are watchers in front of the television and sadly at a time when most of us are free and able to move about in the world.

Okay, so it’s a flat screen nowadays and a great deal larger than the twelve-inch RCA black and white, but we’ve returned to living vicariously once again.

We must be content with travelogues instead of that trip to Tuscany we planned. We watch that chef prepare his special lobster bisque instead of visiting his restaurant in New York to taste it first hand.

We watch the Disney channel to keep up with our grandchildren’s favorite new shows, talk about coming full circle that damn mouse never left.

Sure, we’re back in front of the television again and of course there are far more options than the couple of channels we had as kids, but we’re prohibited from socializing, traveling or seeking those adventures we were programmed to undertake and embrace.

So life has changed and I know I’m not the only one anxious to get back out and live.

So please Clarabell, honk your horn for a cure for COVID so we can hear, see, love, live and engage without the need for Netflix.

Spaghetti Pie

1 generous serving of spaghetti cooked

2 eggs

1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup of spaghetti sauce

6 Meatballs broken up

1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese

1-8 ounce package of cream cheese

1 tablespoon of chives dried or fresh

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Salt and pepper

Place your cooked spaghetti in a bowl and add Parmesan cheese and 2 eggs and mix together well. Spray a 10-inch pie pan and place spaghetti inside pushing it up the sides to form a piecrust.

Place in a 350 degree oven and cook for 10 minutes until partially set. Set aside

Mix together your cream cheese and chives.

Scatter meatballs in a layer over spaghetti crust. Cover with a layer of sauce. Dollop the cream cheese on top and sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top.

Roll out piecrust to fit over top of pie pan with enough to tuck edge of crust under rim.

Cut in pie slices and serve hot. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Must Tell Our Grandchildren

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We Must Tell Our Grandchildren

Embracing evil and negativity cannot lead to a positive outcome, but only weave a fabric of unhappiness. We as grandparents need to ensconce our grandchildren in a cloak of optimism and love woven from the memories of our childhoods.

We all really enjoy sharing happy times with one another, but in these turbulent times it seems imperative we leave a memoir behind with our grandchildren for safekeeping.

Words of those who seek to bring down America can’t provide the solutions we need at this moment to achieve that more “perfect union.” Our generation opened the door to freedom and justice and the next can finish what we began.

Now indeed answers are essential, but should be offered up on a platter of peaceful dissent and positive dialogue. Perhaps we can never be the same America, but we can be an improved one. Our grandchildren can build a more perfect union only by using past positives as a framework.

I believe this is an excellent time to be reminded that history is not always spread most effectively through books, but also by stories and memories handed down through generations. Tales told by parents and grandparents become an integral part of our values and color our lives.

Now more than ever I feel compelled to tell my grandsons about what it meant to grow up in 1950s and 60s post-war America.

With so much negative energy spewing about at this moment I’m horrified to think children are engulfed in an atmosphere of incivility and rage thereby believing this is the true measure of our nation.

Although so many young people today assume baby- boomer America can no longer exist as a feasible entity, I submit that without a clear understanding of the past, our grandchildren cannot imagine a blissful future. Is the vision of an America providing a peaceful, happy environment now a dinosaur or an impossible dream?

If you don’t understand history, you can’t relive the best of times or create new, improved ones.

Living in this moment when all that is spoken about this country is disparaging and critical, our real soul and DNA is being buried under a sea of resentment and despair.

I’m sad that our grandchildren are hearing appalling stories about who we are as a people when it’s simply not true. Incivility and injustice are a cancer, but one that can be cured.

I can only compare current times to a divorced couple where one parent assumes control and only espouses hateful and cruel things about the other. The children will eventually absorb only a dark portrait of a parent, who although flawed might also possess good qualities worth emulating. Perhaps a talent never unearthed under a barrage of angry ranting and hated. If those children had known about their inherited potential it may have enhanced their success and future happiness. Thus it is with America.

The accusations being shouted in no way reflect a country filled with good and charitable people who spend their lives working hard, caring for their families and neighbors, and feel fortunate to have been born or emigrated here.

Back when our grandparents or great grandparents came to this country the phrase one heard so often was “the streets of America are paved with gold.” Now they are paved with fury, exaggerations and too many seeking to harm this nation in irreparable ways.

Our grandchildren can only visualize and achieve a greater future if we inform them about the best of the past. To dispute the naysayers we can regale them with tales of a childhood filled with fun, laughter and innocence.

I’m well aware that innocence will be difficult to achieve with the Internet and non-stop television news constantly pointing out our faults and flaws, and yes, of course there are problems to fix. Yet far too many want to throw out the baby with the bathwater and ignore what is good. We have corrected our flaws before and can again. The information highway our grandchildren travel flows two ways and blame is not the vehicle to drive.

Am I being a bit idealistic in your eyes? Perhaps, but that is the result of growing up with access to idealism, something we are withholding from our children. How can one achieve greatness without witnessing and recognizing its true nature?

How can our grandchildren aspire without champions to emulate?

Can they believe all is achievable when only bombarded with allegations that America is no longer the land of opportunity?

Can they feel safe if we succumb to lawlessness and no longer possess respect or regard for authority or those who teach them?

This is not a political issue, but one of character and the ability to live one’s best life. This goal should be important to everyone no matter the politics, color or religion.

Growing up in Detroit I saw things from both sides. When young there was such a sense of safety and security fear was a stranger. Then came the new normal when crime became bigger than life, and trepidation was a constant companion.

I personally felt the impact when I lost a member of my family to street violence, so I know first hand the horror.

Negativity and condemnation won’t allow our children to build a kinder and gentler nation.

Nothing born in such fury can come to good and embracing hate is a recipe for disaster.

Of course out of chaos can come order, but who restores that order is now of major concern.

We lived in a positive and happy time despite discourse, why shouldn’t future generations?

Although our childhoods consisted of numerous negative events, we could learn, grow and move on. Today negativity has woven itself into the fabric of our reality and seems inescapable. I guess I’m calling for all of us who have been fortunate to rip away that cloth and reweave it with love and peace for our children and grandchildren.

When we leave our historical memories will be buried and never spoken again.

We cannot go gently into that good night and take all the good with us. Sharing our childhoods and swimming in the comfortable sea of nostalgia has been cathartic, but why stop with just us if these precious reminiscences inspire our loved ones to achieve wonderful lives?

Telling our stories to those little faces we love so dearly is the greatest inheritance we can pass on and one that will remain to always warm their hearts.

Caramel Make Me Happy Surprises

This easy treat will help cure those Pandemic Blues!

1 bag (approximately) of any flavor of Hershey’s kisses unwrapped

1 bag of Kraft caramels (you can make your own if you wish)

Melt caramels in the microwave or in a double boiler and pour caramel out on a sheet of parchment paper or a cookie sheet until slightly cooled and pliable. Cut the caramel into squares and place a kiss on each. Enfold the kiss inside the caramel and create a ball shape. Roll in chopped nuts or coconut and drizzle with melted white or dark chocolate.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Time Travel? Quick, Book Me a Ticket!

 

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Time Travel? Quick, Book Me a Ticket!

I watched a program last night, (yes I admit I watch a great deal more television now and my IQ is lower I’m sure) on the making of the movie Back to the Future. My family has always been huge Steven Spielberg fans and attended the opening day of every movie. Aside from the good memories, the program prompted the realization no one has been able to conquer time travel and that made me quite sad.

I’ve always believed that Napoleon Hill’s quote, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe the mind can achieve,” is valid. Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Da Vinci, Tesla all dreamed dreams far ahead of their time and ultimately time caught up with and surpassed their visions.

Throughout time someone, somewhere sees the future and acts on its creation. Every new invention that ever arrived on the scene seemed to have the ability to be used for good or evil. Case in point Einstein splitting the atom or the Internet.

I guess I’m wondering if and when man ever masters time travel whether it will be too dangerous a genie to let out of the bottle.

At this moment in Bern, Switzerland the Hadron Collider, a humongous machine designed to smash particles and could conceivably create time travel is operating non-stop. Some critics have suggested it’s so powerful it could even destroy earth, (get in line).

What would happen if we could travel backward in time? Who would have the ability and what would it be used for?

Therein lies the conundrum.

If I could change time what would I do and where would I go?

Could I as one person truly affect history and prevent evil events like World War II from happening? When Hitler arose there were many powerful people who saw through him and his agenda. These were leaders with loud significant voices and yet did the world listen to the warnings? I think we all know the answer to that question.

If I personally through some crazy fluke woke up one morning and found a time travel machine in my living room, could I truly be the catalyst to prevent a world-shattering event?

So I’d put on my seat belt and check out the gears on the dashboard then realize I don’t have a clue how to work the damn thing and not even Alexa can talk to it. So I just start pushing buttons until something moves or starts to whir. If I get it started where would I go? I immediately decide to start with 1929 before the stock market crashes thinking that’s a no brainer. Off I go whirring through space and time and wondering if there was something a little sketchy in my last blood pressure prescription as the years fly by.

I land on the corner of Wall and Broad Streets in Manhattan outside the New York Stock Exchange.

So there I am standing on the street as the sea of people pass me and I take a beat and

walk into the exchange. I’m greeted by a receptionist who asks me the usual questions and I answer I want to see the guy in charge. She is now eyeing my sweats with enormous suspicion, but directs me to the sixteenth floor.

I’m wondering what I’ll say to someone that doesn’t even have computers yet, who I’m about to tell I’m from the future. Good luck to me.

When I arrive at the president’s office, Edward Simmons, his receptionist does the grilling and I’m desperately trying to avoid stating my real cause for being there.

She picks up the phone to call security and I rush through the door of Simmons’ office where he sits behind a desk reading. He removes his glasses and looks me up and down skeptically.

The secretary rushes in and tells him security is on the way and I know I’m running out of time.

“I’m here from the future and I want to warn you that the stock market is about to crash and everyone will run on the banks and it’ will be chaos and there will be people jumping out of windows and the country will go into a terrible depression for years until World War II and…”

He is standing and looking at me with fear and pity in his eyes. Convinced I’m a nut and certain he needs to get me out quickly.

“You’ll have to leave…”

I’m pleading now. “You have to believe me, I’ve come from the future and I know what’s going to happen. It’s terrible and you can stop it if you just suspend reality and hear me. There weren’t airplanes once but now there are and soon we’ll be on the moon.”

Two guards are dragging me out as he smiles and thinks, Boy, wait till the guys at lunch hear this one. I’ll call her the crazy Moon Lady, yeah they’ll love it.

I head back to my time machine parked in the alley and find two policemen watching the guy load it on a truck. I run to it and they grab me, and now I’m stuck in New York City just before the stock market crash, on my own and possessing only a story that ensures I’ll wind up in Bellevue Psychiatric Ward.

I’d have been better off traveling back to the day Jeff Bezos took Amazon public then borrowed and used every nickel I could get my hands on to buy the stock.

Do we all wish we could go back and change time? Sure. I’d have gone back to before World War II to save my grandmother and aunt from the concentration camps. Pearl Harbor or to prevent Kennedy from driving down that street in Dallas, and all the bad stuff I could think of personal or public. Would anyone pay attention to or believe my rantings?

Of course not.

So what’s the point of time travel?

I imagine on an individual level it might be great; or would it?

I myself would want to go back to growing up in my old neighborhood and revisit the things I’m nostalgic for today. I guess changing anything is off the table because of the butterfly effect, where if you alter one little thing it can cause unforeseen consequences.

Still, I’d love to spend time in the corner drug store at the comic book rack that turned filled with Superman and Archie comics. The soda fountain where the cutest guy in school and the neighborhood heartthrob turned out the best cherry cokes.

The smell of leaves burning at the curb in Autumn or Friday night dances at school then pizza afterward.

Going to Northland Mall on Saturdays and eating a Maurice Salad at Hudson’s, or buying my first lipstick at Kresge’s. Fishing in the everglades with my grandfather, walking on the porch of the Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island, or spending summers at camp in Northern Michigan.

Especially, I’d want to celebrate one more holiday with my parents and grandparents.

Yet, although I feel pulled by my heartstrings to go there, if I could how often would I?

And therein lies the rub because ultimately I may be spending more time in the past than in the present.

In today’s world the scary, sad events we witness make us want to escape into safer, easier times.

Think how much we’d use that time travel machine to transport back to those simpler days filled with innocence and hope for the future.

So I guess it’s a good thing no one has cracked that code in Switzerland or I’d sign up immediately. Bet I’d be meeting a whole lot of my friends on that highway heading backwards.

So for now I’ll have to be content to just share my thoughts on my blog and create all new happy memories I can hopefully look back on and want to return to in the future.

 

Marcy F’s Magic Quiche

 

1 egg

¾ cup flour

1 cup milk

1 cup grated cheese (muenster or jack)

¼ cup finely chopped onion

½ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine all ingredients except ½ c milk and one cup of cheese. Beat until smooth and then blend in remaining ingredients.

Pour into well-greased muffin tins.

Bake in a 425-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes until set.

My friend Marcy made these all the time and everyone just gobbled them up. You can also add some broccoli, mushrooms or bacon to these to make these even more special and varied for a party.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Get Off Howdy Doody’s Back

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Just Get Off Howdy Doody’s Back

I never dreamed I’d have to defend Howdy, but I find it beyond endurance to tolerate the smears and snarky comments leveled in the direction of my beloved friend Howdy Doody. Sure it’s easy to just cast aside these slights as ignorance, but that’s how these things get out of hand. So just “say kids, what time is it? It’s Howdy Doody time” and stand up to take a side.

It’s not just Howdy who has been so maligned but all puppets everywhere, and it must end right here and now for us citizens of Doodyville who’d have gladly given up our collections of Archie annuals for a chance to sit in the Peanut Gallery.

I’m not certain when the slight on puppets actually began, but gradually without noticing the word has taken on a negative connotation. It’s an insult to call anyone a puppet and infers someone without a mind or will of their own, dependent on a puppet master to pull the strings and do their thinking and talking for them.

Well, I never! Can you imagine that we are seeing this shift against our beloved puppet friends?

What did Farfel the Dog ever do to anyone besides tell us that Nestle’s makes the very best chocolate? And he wasn’t wrong. I can’t think of anyone I know who’d throw a Nestle’s Crunch Bar out of bed.

Puppet, yes, mindless, I think not.

Shall we even begin to think less of Lamb Chop because she enjoyed such a dependent relationship with Shari Lewis and was such a girly lamb? Don’t even get me started on Rootie Kazootie.

Puppets were a big part of our childhood and brought us enormous enjoyment. Okay, so I could see Howdy’s strings sometimes, but his show brought us hours of great fun characters to enjoy like Buffalo Bob, Princess Summerfall Winterspring, Clarabell or Mr. Bluster, also a puppet.

Would anyone like to say anything negative about Topo Gigio, Eddie Eddie Sullivan’s favorite Italian mouse? I dare you.

Shall we malign Kukla, Fran and Ollie or The Swedish Chef? In case you didn’t know, there was no script for the Kuklapolitans and they ad-libbed on every show. I’d like to see any of today’s human stars open their mouths and sound smart without a writer to tell them what to say. Charlie McCarthy dressed better and was smarter than a great many people tweeting today.

Lest we forget a certain puppet named Senor Wences and his puppet Johnny (actually his hand) that taught us that everything was “all right” and was one of our favorite parts of The Ed Sullivan Show.

Mr. Rogers used puppets, which he created and worked because of a low budget, to teach children about kindness and how to be good people.

Puppets have been entertainers and teachers for centuries, even Punch and Judy, which I guess wouldn’t be considered politically correct today.

No discussion of puppets would ever be complete without the Muppets. Of course Jim Henson’s crew were more my children’s generation, but we watched them as a family and adults got the “inside” jokes. The characters were brilliantly drawn and fleshed out so well they took on a truly human quality.

Miss Piggy taught girls not to underestimate their own strength and abilities, and never take a backseat to anyone.

Kermit was the ringmaster of the circus and as lovable a frog as there ever could be, although let’s face it, it isn’t easy being green.

Now people bandy about the phrase “he’s or she’s a puppet” as some type of universal insult implying a lack of intelligence, will or character.

So by now you’re probably thinking, “What’s your point, Norma?”

I think something needs to be done to protect the good names of our string-attached or hand-dependent friends.

A union would be a perfect solution. The Puppet Union of America or as it would say on our jackets, the PU of A. Being from Detroit, a big union town, my mind just went there immediately. I’m nominating Triumph the Insult Comic Dog as the president and Statler and Waldorf as the Board of Directors. The PU of A would file grievances against those who took the name of Howdy or Cookie Monster in vain and negotiate contracts, collective bargain, plus stage walkouts. Well, I guess walkouts would be a bit tricky but you get the point.

They need to be protected against the slanderous insults of those who have forgotten their glorious past, present and future.

How much less fun the world would be without the Kermies, Mr. Blusters or Kuklas. Without the Topo Gigios how would we ever know how adorable an Italian mouse could be or how strong and tough a woman could be without Piggy?

If the world wants to infer a lack of intelligence, will and character on anyone I suggest they use the word politician. Now that makes much more sense to me. Has a politician ever opened their mouth and said anything smart? Think about it.

And if you don’t believe a puppet can influence the entire world—ever hear of a Jedi Master named Yoda?

Apple Veal Chops in Cream Sauce

6 veal chop tenderloins or chops with bone in can also be used, but cooking time will increase.

2 apples (your choice) peeled, cored and sliced

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper

1 ½ cups panko crumbs

1 ½ cups dried apple chips ground up well

1 tbsp butter

1 tablespoon of oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Season veal with salt and pepper and set aside

Put apple chips in the food processor and ground up well, but not too fine. Combine with panko crumbs.

Melt butter and oil in frying pan and dip veal into flour and pat off excess. Dip chops into beaten egg then into panko/apple mixture.

Add to frying pan and sear until golden brown. Remove from pan and place in oven at 350 degrees until internal temperature of 145 degrees is reached.

Add apples and cider to frying pan and sauté apples until fork tender and then add cream. Heat over low heat until cream reduces by one third. Taste sauce and add salt and pepper if necessary.

Add veal back into frying pan and cover with cream sauce and heat through two more minutes until all is combined and warm. Let dish rest for three minutes before serving.

Serve over any pasta, rice or with a mashed potato. Pork may be substituted for veal in this recipe as well.

 

 

 

 

What I Learned From Lunch With Soupy Sales

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What I Learned From Lunch With Soupy Sales

It wasn’t a fancy lunch at the Polo Lounge or Spago, but mostly peanut butter and jelly, lots of Jello that went boing, boing, boing or some tuna fish, but they were the best lunches I’ve ever had. The menu for the next day’s lunch was posted on the blackboard so we could entreat our mother to provide it as well.

I’ve been really fortunate in my life to meet and dine with some pretty incredible people, but I’ll take my memories with Soupy Sales, White Fang, Black Tooth, Willie da Worm, and Pookie over anything. The knowledge I gleaned from the words of wisdom written on the blackboard under the title Soupy Sez were invaluable. Such gems as; “Be true to your teeth or they’ll be false to you,” “Over the teeth and through the gums, look out stomach here it comes,” “When a man writes a song in his automobile, it’s called a cartoon,” “You show me a man who puts his parakeet in the blender and I’ll show you a man who makes shredded tweet,” “Birds are really something to crow about, but a bird in the hand can be a mess,” “Show me a woman who has misplaced her handbag and I’ll show you a tote-all loss,” “Show me a novel caught in a wind storm and I’ll show you a book gone with the wind,” or “Show me a midget king and I’ll show you a twelve-inch ruler.”

Or such informational weather reports on his ancient radio as, “there will be a volcano eruption today so for your own safety learn the words to lava come back to me.”

Add to that learning to dance The Mouse and the Soupy Shuffle and our aerobics were included with lunch.

It wasn’t just learning the skill of taking a pie to the face or being made aware how careful you need to be before opening a door unless you knew the pointed finger or arm waiting on the other side, and in later years a celebrity waiting to get a pie in the face, but the interaction between friends that taught me so much. The pranks, including one infamous time Soupy opened the door to a naked woman we never saw as he fell apart, are still part of the show’s mystique.

Of course White Fang and Black Tooth were the experts at getting one’s point across without the use of intellectual phrases or complex sentences. Just a few shakes of the paw and a couple of familiar grunts were all I needed to get the message and laugh uncontrollably. To this day an imitation of the two extremely vocal hounds can send me into fits of laughter. Perhaps I can credit them with my editing abilities. Thanks guys for jump starting my journalism career.

Of course Willie da Worm as Soupy called him, was a great life lesson as well. Prone to sneezing fits and health issues and the moniker of the sickest worm in all of Detroit, he made me wonder how many other sick worms there were in Motown. The way Soupy delivered his sympathetic offerings to the poor little ailing creature taught me true compassion. It’s one thing to offer empathy to another human being, but the idea of opening my heart to a worm, I have to confess it opened my eyes.

Or constantly telling Black Tooth, the biggest sweetest doggy in the United States, “don’t kiss” as he attempted to untangle himself from her hugs or advising her to drink lots of milk because it gives the cows something to do.

I could double up in hysterics faster at a puppet hand that made noises than at people.

Now Pookie, that was one cute little lion. Always referring to Soupy as Boobie it’s no wonder I love cats so much. And that cat could scat or put on a wig and sing like Petula Clark, okay so sing really badly. I was actually grateful something existed with a voice worse than mine.

White Fang, the biggest, meanest dog in the United States was not only mean, but oh so clever and conniving he never failed to put one over on Soupy. Guess it should have taught me to beware of cute dogs or men with bad intentions.

The guys in the studio snickered at all the puns and bad jokes and sometimes you weren’t quite sure about what. So I also learned the meaning of an inside joke.

Between the insane news reports and future guest stars like Moshe Dyan Canon and Belly Savalas, it was non-stop insanity. Yet, more than anything from watching the interaction between Soupy and the gang, we noticed how Soupy, befuddled look on his face actually listened. Maybe that’s where we learned how.

Yes, the humor was bad shtick and craziness was the order of the day, but we laughed and loved every minute. Half the humor we got, half not so much, but we heard the guys in the studio chuckling so we smiled along. The point is we had a side order of giggles with our lunch. It wasn’t politically correct and it didn’t have the artful writing of a Neil Simon, but it lightened our day and sent us back to school with a full stomach, a full heart and Soupy throwing us a big kiss.

Rustic Onion Galette

6 medium onions sliced

¼ cup of sliced leeks

1½ cups of heavy cream

1 small package (4 oz.) cream cheese

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

½ tea thyme

Pastry large enough for a tart shell puff or regular

½ stick of butter

Olive oil

Add olive oil and butter to frying pan and heat

Add onions, leeks and seasonings and sauté on medium heat until onions are just turning brown and beginning to caramelize. Add cream cheese and cream and continue cooking until cream reduces a little and cream cheese melts through well. Taste and add seasoning if necessary. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in microwave and add 1 tablespoon of flour. Mix together and add to cream mixture until thickened.

When done place on pastry and fold sides up leaving a small opening at the top. There is no wrong way to fold a galette just as long as all the sides are folded around the filling. It’s a perfect recipe to be creative. Place it in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or until pastry is cooked.

You may also use this recipe for tiny tarts for hors d’oeuvres or add mushrooms to onion sauté and extra half and half or milk and make a delicious soup. Also great with some goat cheese or Gruyere sprinkled on top when warm.

 

 

 

 

 

Is COVID a Scary Glimpse Into and Preparation For The Future?

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Is COVID a Scary Glimpse Into and Preparation For The Future?

Cocooning: staying inside one’s home insulated from perceived danger.

Faith Popcorn, the trends and futurist guru coined the term cocooning in 1981 predicting a trend toward staying at home in lieu of interacting with an increasingly uncertain world. I always thought her theories were fascinating and right on, this one has to be not merely predictive, but downright psychic.

So what does this mean to us as individuals if we prefer to stay inside and interact less with what transpires outside our domain? Will it create a world of hermits living in fur-lined, customized caves? How will it affect what we manufacture, purchase, create and invent? Especially the way we communicate with one another.

Or can we let go of others and forego human interaction for that great new series on Netflix?

According to Popcorn, the places we live will become more minimal with movable multi-use furniture. We won’t even need television screens any longer thanks to Microsoft’s Hololens and other new ways of delivering images directly to our brain. Sales of tiny houses in the US are up 67% already and designers are building new and more interactive homes every day.

The last phase Popcorn mentions is the regenerative phase of cocooning or living in a pod that is wired to anticipate our needs. It’s transportable and can be taken with us wherever we go. Mercedes has already envisioned a live/work space that takes us from location to location guided by a robot.

She predicts 50% of work will be freelance and your robotic kitchen will cater to your nutritional and dietary needs. Your bathroom fixtures and mirror will scan your health and transmit it to your medi-bot to make the required changes in your diet or meds. And what if I still want that Sander’s Hot Fudge? Will I have to battle my robot for a sundae?  Is Big Brother my doctor?

Alexa will be there to listen when you’ve had a rough day and provide a robotic shoulder to cry on. Houses will float on water or be underground as rising sea levels affect millions whose homes will be underwater in high tide. Does that mean ocean front property will be selling super cheap?

I could continue but I suggest you read Popcorn’s report at faithpopcorn.com as it is a fascinating, albeit sometimes scary peak into the not-to-distant future.

Yes, I believe these new technologies and inventions exist, but recent events seem to point otherwise. I may not be an expert on trends, but human nature I know something about. After my last blog I received so many responses from people saying how much they treasure their early memories and having others to share them.

So if human beings are so happy to share and interact with others, why are we going out of our way to create a world where we do neither? I’ve always been under the impression there are two kinds of people; those who love wide-open spaces and the second type that enjoys urban living. My generation, once married seemed to gravitate toward homes with large lots and spacious yards for playing, entertaining and creating a comfortable distance with one’s neighbors. Yet, not too far as there seemed to be a genuine need to have other children for playing and parents with whom to socialize.

It seems incredibly foreign to me after being locked in captivity the last three months that this would become a permanent way of life. I certainly don’t see anyone enjoying the solitude and whoever can is running outside faster than Coyote chasing Roadrunner toward that cliff.

Was Barbra wrong when she sang, “people who need people are the luckiest people in the world?”

Or is this a world that will only exist in the memories of those still alive to remember the good old days, when people socialized and interacted with one another?

Recalling a time when we stood in line at crowded movie theaters and at restaurants to dine. When we watched a television show together as a family on that great new, big screen Dad brought home for himself for Mother’s Day?

When we look back it does seem that life has truly changed greatly in the last 75 years since World War II, but the changes to come that are really revolutionary are not that far away now. Tech is moving so quickly one day we’ll blink and that new “modern” kitchen will be as outdated as a Model T Ford.

So I have to ask myself, technology is evolving at warp speed but is mankind? Is there something in all those new gadgets that will alter a human’s need for love, caring and affection? Can we be satisfied with Alexa’s shoulder to lean on when a dream dies, a romance falls apart or we feel hopeless and vulnerable? Is this the way man will evolve, a creature controlled by artificial intelligence sitting in a tiny pod (guess they cure claustrophobia in the future) and having a movie programmed through his brain?

Yipes! I imagine humans will adapt to this new form of existence although I’m glad I won’t have to. I prefer sharing memories with friends, hugging my kids and grandchildren, walking in a beautiful garden and enjoying a meal I’ve prepared with someone special. The future seems awfully lonely and we’ve recently glimpsed into it Zooming, Skyping and Amazoning through today.

I for one will be glad to get out into that scary, unpredictable world once more, because as frightening as it may seem, it beats cocooning, seeking solace from a robot or hiding away forever.

The following is a recipe from a dear friend no longer here. It’s still one of the yummiest. ENJOY!

Malka B’s Strudel

Strudel dough

2 cups flour

½ pound of cream cheese

½ pound butter

½ cup of honey mixed with 2 tablespoons of water

Cream butter and cream cheese and add flour. Knead well

Chill several hours or overnight

Divide into six portions, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate about half and hour before rolling out to 14 or 16 inches.

 

Fillings

1 18 oz jar of apricot preserves

1 small package of sweetened coconut

1 small package of walnuts

1 small package of raisins

1 cup of graham cracker crumbs

 

You can also use fresh apple slices, raisins walnuts and cinnamon and sugar as a filling and for a new kick add some caramel to the mix.

 

Preheat oven to 350

 

Roll out one portion of dough and brush on a thin layer of honey and water mixture

Spread on a layer of preserves

Sprinkle on a light layer of graham cracker crumbs

Add coconut raisins and walnuts and begin rolling from the bottom up. Seal top together with honey water mixture.

 

Score the top into eight pieces and place on a parchment covered cookie sheet.

 

Bake about 45 minutes until lightly browned.

Cut into pieces and sprinkle with powdered sugar when cooled before serving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dueling Doctors; Who to Believe?

chicken

Dueling Doctors: Who to Believe?

My hands screamed up at me chapped and red from washing and cleaning and begged me to stop with the hand sanitizer already. Every day the story changes! Is it living on surfaces or isn’t it? One week no, next week, yes. What’s with these people and why not say we don’t know so just do everything? I am getting more mixed messages here than from the last guy I dated.

Not only do I wear a mask to get the mail in my own lobby, or to pick up a delivery outside my door, but nothing gets inside without being sprayed, wiped and left to sit for days to avoid any live virus germs from escaping and attacking me in my sleep.

I have even toyed with locking my bedroom door in case they can crawl over the floor into the hallway, slip inside and sneak up on me. Can it climb through windows, maybe open doors? How many powers does this thing have? Maybe it should be a new character in the next Avengers movie? It could play the villain with 19 super powers. Maybe the Hulk could take this thing out?

Paranoia gone wild? I think not! They should make a video and film the virus romping on a beach during spring break.

In case you think I’m the only one who is so germ phobic take a look in the mirror at your new designer mask and matching gloves. Now it’s a damn fashion statement. I hear Prada and Chanel are showing a line of masks on the runway and Alexander McQueen is designing plastic body covers next year.

So now that we have all been trained to wear hazmet suits in our homes and check for corona virus germs trying to climb in our windows or be delivered on a food delivery box, we are told maybe they are not as hardy as we were told. Oh, I’m sorry that was yesterday and today they took it back. Guess they’ve been eating their spinach.

Yesterday as I was wiping down every doorknob and light switch in my home I heard the CDC had determined the disease doesn’t live as long as they thought and it takes more than simply passing someone on the other side of street to catch it. Today the germs have recovered their superpowers and are alive and well on every surface of our homes.

So I must ask myself, what’s the truth and if we ease up on worrying and being paranoid will they change their minds again next week. Is it capable of living a hundred years or more and popping back up to say hello from time to time?

I can see it now, the virus laughing and dancing on those surfaces we now feel safe enough to leave unwiped. Sneaking across the floor while we unsuspectedly watch the second season of Shtisel, unaware that the germs are crawling up the sofa legs in pursuit of our unprotected immune system.

So what should we do while we wait for more contradictions?

I’m well aware that scientists and researchers don’t always agree and I know how many people ridiculed and contradicted Jonas Salk on his quest to create the polio vaccine?

He had naysayers and critics galore, yet his persistence paid off and the world was ultimately saved from a disease that scared me as a child even more than corona does now. Public swimming pools were closed to protect children and adults while parents feared taking their kids to crowded places.

I had nightmares about those scary iron lungs and remember the day I received the vaccine in school. We all lined up and one by one we were handed a sugar cube on a paper cupcake holder with pink medicine squirted over the cube, then the nightmares about the iron lungs disappeared.

When scientists are flummoxed it doesn’t help the confidence of the regular people that are afraid to touch their own refrigerator door. Isn’t it enough the calories are lurking out there to attack us as we are held in captivity with junk food calling our name?

So who and what do we believe? I guess since we don’t know, it’s best to proceed with caution. In the meantime I’m cleaning, spraying, masking and holding my breath when I’m not stuffing my face.

Which unfortunately seems to be most of the time lately.

 

Here is my recipe for Garlic Chicken Enjoy!

 

Easy 40 Clove Garlic Chicken

 

4 chicken thighs and 4 drumsticks

40 or so cloves of garlic

1 ½ cups whipping cream

½ stick of butter

1cup chicken bouillon

½ cup white wine

Onion powder

Thyme (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken and garlic cloves in a roasting pan and season. Add liquids except whipping cream and melt butter and pour over chicken and garlic. Roast it in a 325-degree oven for an hour or until chicken is fully cooked through.

When done, remove chicken from the pan and scoop out pan juices and then add whipping cream and mix together. Taste and if it needs salt you may add more at this point. You may strain sauce if you wish or enjoy the garlic whole.

Smashed Sweet Potatoes

1 large Yam

1 Large Sweet Potato

Salt

3 tablespoons of butter

Peal and cut up potatoes and boil in salted water until fork tender.

Remove from water and add butter and salt to potatoes.

Using a fork mash them gently until smooth but still chunky.

Enjoy with the chicken and sauce.

 

 

 

 

Two Great Reasons to Hate American Politics

salute.jpg

Two Great Reasons to Hate American Politics

I find it difficult to narrow down my distaste for American politics in so few reasons. I am certain if I let myself I’d find hundreds more. Case in point, Congress, there’s 535 damn good reasons right there. But I’ve promised two and I shall stick to that number. After recent threatening remarks by Senator Charles Schumer on the steps of the Supreme Court I realized that Dorothy was in Kansas no longer. No one would have ever dared disrespect and threaten the court when I was young; it was simply unacceptable let alone ever considered. I have watched as politics in this country have devolved into the evilest and most horrifying experience since the shower scene in Psycho. Make no mistake it is on both sides of the aisle.

The first and probably most offensive reason to me is the plain old-fashioned meanness of the whole process. The political arena has the aura of the wicked witch’s candy-coated house in Hansel and Gretel. Oh sure there’s candy in freedom, but inside awaits the horrible oven where she cooked children. I say this with true regret as I relate the tale of what was a true disappointment in my youth the first time I cast my vote.

I was over-the-moon excited. As a Baby Boomer I had lived through tumultuous times, the 1968 Democratic Convention, Martin Luther King, John, and Robert Kennedy assassinations, the Chicago Seven, Watergate, Elvis going into the army, two Darrens on Bewitched, mini skirts and the sheer unattainable skinniness of Twiggy. I was patriotic and excited to become a true member of the club, a voting American about to make my voice heard. I considered it a privilege and an honor, and still do.

I waited in line at the firehouse on my corner and signed my paper to receive my ballot. Back then in primitive times there was paper. I wasn’t certain about how to do it correctly so I asked the woman who’d handed me my ballot for help. She smiled and I pointed to Hubert Humphrey and said, “Do I mark here to vote for him?”

Her face soured immediately and with a chill in her voice that would put an instant end to global warming answered, “If that’s what you want, than I suppose.”

The air immediately left the patriotic balloon I was riding and I fell to earth with a thud. Her tone and look changed the moment from exuberance into ugly and my joy at voting was now colored with negativity.

Oh sure you may say, you were too sensitive. Yes perhaps, but at that time in America I was still foolish enough to believe that we had a right to free speech, free thought and to vote for whomever we pleased without suffering the malice of others. I think that’s why we have the first amendment because our forefathers understood without this freedom there could be no freedom.

Sadly that experience is a Sunday school picnic by today’s standards. A look, a snide remark pale by comparison to what one may suffer today. One may get beaten or worse for their political views now and it seems to be getting worse each day.

Friends and family members have become alienated and people are afraid to exercise free speech. On our college campuses students believe they have the right to silence those with whom they disagree and tragically some turn to violence to exercise that pitiful point of view.

The meanness is palpable and has turned what once was a country where people left their doors unlocked into one where neighbors lock out those with whom they politically disagree. We may not have shared the same points of view, but it never escalated into hatred and violence.

I always thought a healthy discourse between Americans what was made this country so great. We were allowed to argue about what candidate was best, why we thought so and why we believed they deserved our vote. I felt incredibly grateful to be able to speak out when I looked at the Berlin Wall and how oppressive and frightening it was to live under a totalitarianism regime.

The negativity and sheer disrespect for others displayed not only by Americans, but also by our elected representatives has shifted the karma of this country from one where the streets are paved with gold to the old west where shooting someone for interfering with your enjoyment of a beer was acceptable.

Have we become that egocentric that we believe our intellect so far exceeds those with whom we share the common bond of citizenship?

Reason number two deals with something quite different, the right to like or dislike whom we please. I know it may sound a bit simplistic at first, but in reality it truly is not. Human beings are emotional creatures and until the robots take over and the world becomes solely intellectual we will continue to allow our subjective experiences to guide us.

Hence when we vote our emotions play a part. What one finds reprehensible in one politician may seem endearing to another.

It’s how we’re built and we could no longer change this part of ourselves than find a gas station charging twenty cents a gallon.

We bring our biases into every decision we make. We decide what we like, whom we like and how we will live our life based on previous life experience accumulated through years of living. It’s who and what we are.

If we had a friend we liked and she always wore a certain color red sweater perhaps we’ll be receptive to that shade of red our entire life. Happy memories color our decisions as well as bad ones.

It’s for this reason we may choose to shun someone or take an instant dislike or embrace someone at first meeting. It happens all the time. I am certain this is also true of politicians. Why we may like or dislike them.

Does one perhaps remind you of a teacher you hated in school, a favorite uncle that always showered you with great gifts, or maybe even a neighbor that passed out the best Halloween candy. We have long forgotten the why of our bias, but it has become so engrained in us, it’s unconscious.

If someone chooses to vote or not vote for a politician we like they may have good reason for their decision. The choice may even be an emotionally driven one of which they aren’t even aware. On an emotional level it’s pointless to argue and that level so many times is far more powerful than intellect.

Hating someone for their feelings or bias based on their experience is foolish. It’s like saying I hate you because you’re too educated. That is so un-American. The diversity of this country is what makes it so unique and special. Remember the whole melting pot analogy?

We are all special, and as Americans entitled to think and speak as we please, unless of course that speech may bring harm to others. We are a charitable country that always reaches out to those in times of need.

During Katrina did anyone say I want my donations to go only to a democrat or republican?

When Kennedy died did anyone care about party affiliation as we sobbed shamelessly on one another’s shoulder?

I guess I’ll sum up this blog with a wonderful story from World War I about what is now referred to as the Christmas Truce of 1914. In his book, Silent Night, by Stanley Weintraub, he recounts the story and the following are excerpts.

“All was jarringly quiet on the Western Front when a British sentry suddenly spied a glistening light on the German parapet, less than 100 yards away. Warned that it might be a trap, Brewer slowly raised his head over the soaked sandbags protecting his position and through the maze of barbed wire saw a sparkling Christmas tree. As the lieutenant gazed down the line of the German trenches, a whole string of small conifers glimmered like beads on a necklace.

“Brewer then noticed the rising of a faint sound that he had never before heard on the battlefield—a Christmas carol. The German words to “Stille Nacht” were not familiar, but the tune—“Silent Night”—certainly was. When the German soldiers finished singing, their foes broke out in cheers. Used to returning fire, the British now replied in song with the English version of the carol.

When dawn broke on Christmas morning, something even more remarkable happened. In sporadic pockets along the 500-mile Western Front, unarmed German and Allied soldiers tentatively emerged from the trenches and cautiously crossed no-man’s-land—the killing fields between the trenches littered with frozen corpses, eviscerated trees and deep craters—to wish each other a Merry Christmas. Political leaders had ignored the call of Pope Benedict XV to cease fighting around Christmas, but soldiers in the trenches decided to stage their own unofficial, spontaneous armistices anyway.

“Not every fighting man, particularly those who had just seen comrades killed in action, felt moved by the Christmas spirit. Gunfire continued to be exchanged in certain locations along the front, and in some unfortunate cases soldiers were killed by enemy fire as they emerged from the trenches in the hope for a day of peace. The unsanctioned truce concerned high-ranking officials, afraid that their men might lose the will to fight, and outraged others, including one young German corporal who would launch the next world war. “Such a thing should not happen in wartime,” Adolf Hitler scolded his fellow soldiers. “Have you no German sense of honor left?”

“As the sun set on Christmas, the fighters retreated to their respective trenches. A few ceasefires held until New Year’s Day. In most locations, however, the war resumed on December 26. At 8:30 a.m. in Houplines, Captain Charles Stockwell of the 2nd Royal Welch Fusiliers fired three shots into the air and raised a flag that read “Merry Christmas.” His German counterpart raised a flag that read “Thank you.” The two men then mounted the parapets, saluted each other and returned to their sodden trenches. Stockwell wrote that his counterpart then “fired two shots in the air—and the war was on again.”

“The guns of World War I did not fall silent again until the signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918. The Christmas Truce, however, provided an unforgettable memory for many such as the British soldier who confessed in a letter the following day, “I wouldn’t have missed the experience of yesterday for the most gorgeous Christmas dinner in England.”

Regrettably, this is a story that probably couldn’t happen in today’s world. The heartfelt yearning for love, home and family these soldiers exhibited exceeded politics and penetrated the very soul and essence of humanity.

How tragic that we, citizens of the greatest country in the world cannot put aside our hate and intolerance to respect the political opinions of others.

I know what my Christmas wish would be this year; that we all find a way back to love and brotherhood in the purest form and stop the ceaseless hate and anger. As Americans we share too much good to turn it all so bad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Great Reasons to Hate American Politics

 

I find it difficult to narrow down my distaste for American politics in so few reasons. I am certain if I let myself I’d find hundreds more. Case in point, Congress, there’s 535 damn good reasons right there. But I’ve promised two and I shall stick to that number. After recent threatening remarks by Senator Charles Schumer on the steps of the Supreme Court I realized that Dorothy was in Kansas no longer. No one would have ever dared disrespect and threaten the court when I was young; it was simply unacceptable let alone ever considered. I have watched as politics in this country have devolved into the evilest and most horrifying experience since the shower scene in Psycho. Make no mistake it is on both sides of the aisle.

The first and probably most offensive reason to me is the plain old-fashioned meanness of the whole process. The political arena has the aura of the wicked witch’s candy-coated house in Hansel and Gretel. Oh sure there’s candy in freedom, but inside awaits the horrible oven where she cooked children. I say this with true regret as I relate the tale of what was a true disappointment in my youth the first time I cast my vote.

I was over-the-moon excited. As a Baby Boomer I had lived through tumultuous times, the 1968 Democratic Convention, Martin Luther King, John, and Robert Kennedy assassinations, the Chicago Seven, Watergate, Elvis going into the army, two Darrens on Bewitched, mini skirts and the sheer unattainable skinniness of Twiggy. I was patriotic and excited to become a true member of the club, a voting American about to make my voice heard. I considered it a privilege and an honor, and still do.

I waited in line at the firehouse on my corner and signed my paper to receive my ballot. Back then in primitive times there was paper. I wasn’t certain about how to do it correctly so I asked the woman who’d handed me my ballot for help. She smiled and I pointed to Hubert Humphrey and said, “Do I mark here to vote for him?”

Her face soured immediately and with a chill in her voice that would put an instant end to global warming answered, “If that’s what you want, than I suppose.”

The air immediately left the patriotic balloon I was riding and I fell to earth with a thud. Her tone and look changed the moment from exuberance into ugly and my joy at voting was now colored with negativity.

Oh sure you may say, you were too sensitive. Yes perhaps, but at that time in America I was still foolish enough to believe that we had a right to free speech, free thought and to vote for whomever we pleased without suffering the malice of others. I think that’s why we have the first amendment because our forefathers understood without this freedom there could be no freedom.

Sadly that experience is a Sunday school picnic by today’s standards. A look, a snide remark pale by comparison to what one may suffer today. One may get beaten or worse for their political views now and it seems to be getting worse each day.

Friends and family members have become alienated and people are afraid to exercise free speech. On our college campuses students believe they have the right to silence those with whom they disagree and tragically some turn to violence to exercise that pitiful point of view.

The meanness is palpable and has turned what once was a country where people left their doors unlocked into one where neighbors lock out those with whom they politically disagree. We may not have shared the same points of view, but it never escalated into hatred and violence.

I always thought a healthy discourse between Americans what was made this country so great. We were allowed to argue about what candidate was best, why we thought so and why we believed they deserved our vote. I felt incredibly grateful to be able to speak out when I looked at the Berlin Wall and how oppressive and frightening it was to live under a totalitarianism regime.

The negativity and sheer disrespect for others displayed not only by Americans, but also by our elected representatives has shifted the karma of this country from one where the streets are paved with gold to the old west where shooting someone for interfering with your enjoyment of a beer was acceptable.

Have we become that egocentric that we believe our intellect so far exceeds those with whom we share the common bond of citizenship?

Reason number two deals with something quite different, the right to like or dislike whom we please. I know it may sound a bit simplistic at first, but in reality it truly is not. Human beings are emotional creatures and until the robots take over and the world becomes solely intellectual we will continue to allow our subjective experiences to guide us.

Hence when we vote our emotions play a part. What one finds reprehensible in one politician may seem endearing to another.

It’s how we’re built and we could no longer change this part of ourselves than find a gas station charging twenty cents a gallon.

We bring our biases into every decision we make. We decide what we like, whom we like and how we will live our life based on previous life experience accumulated through years of living. It’s who and what we are.

If we had a friend we liked and she always wore a certain color red sweater perhaps we’ll be receptive to that shade of red our entire life. Happy memories color our decisions as well as bad ones.

It’s for this reason we may choose to shun someone or take an instant dislike or embrace someone at first meeting. It happens all the time. I am certain this is also true of politicians. Why we may like or dislike them.

Does one perhaps remind you of a teacher you hated in school, a favorite uncle that always showered you with great gifts, or maybe even a neighbor that passed out the best Halloween candy. We have long forgotten the why of our bias, but it has become so engrained in us, it’s unconscious.

If someone chooses to vote or not vote for a politician we like they may have good reason for their decision. The choice may even be an emotionally driven one of which they aren’t even aware. On an emotional level it’s pointless to argue and that level so many times is far more powerful than intellect.

Hating someone for their feelings or bias based on their experience is foolish. It’s like saying I hate you because you’re too educated. That is so un-American. The diversity of this country is what makes it so unique and special. Remember the whole melting pot analogy?

We are all special, and as Americans entitled to think and speak as we please, unless of course that speech may bring harm to others. We are a charitable country that always reaches out to those in times of need.

During Katrina did anyone say I want my donations to go only to a democrat or republican?

When Kennedy died did anyone care about party affiliation as we sobbed shamelessly on one another’s shoulder?

I guess I’ll sum up this blog with a wonderful story from World War I about what is now referred to as the Christmas Truce of 1914. In his book, Silent Night, by Stanley Weintraub, he recounts the story and the following are excerpts.

“All was jarringly quiet on the Western Front when a British sentry suddenly spied a glistening light on the German parapet, less than 100 yards away. Warned that it might be a trap, Brewer slowly raised his head over the soaked sandbags protecting his position and through the maze of barbed wire saw a sparkling Christmas tree. As the lieutenant gazed down the line of the German trenches, a whole string of small conifers glimmered like beads on a necklace.

“Brewer then noticed the rising of a faint sound that he had never before heard on the battlefield—a Christmas carol. The German words to “Stille Nacht” were not familiar, but the tune—“Silent Night”—certainly was. When the German soldiers finished singing, their foes broke out in cheers. Used to returning fire, the British now replied in song with the English version of the carol.

When dawn broke on Christmas morning, something even more remarkable happened. In sporadic pockets along the 500-mile Western Front, unarmed German and Allied soldiers tentatively emerged from the trenches and cautiously crossed no-man’s-land—the killing fields between the trenches littered with frozen corpses, eviscerated trees and deep craters—to wish each other a Merry Christmas. Political leaders had ignored the call of Pope Benedict XV to cease fighting around Christmas, but soldiers in the trenches decided to stage their own unofficial, spontaneous armistices anyway.

“Not every fighting man, particularly those who had just seen comrades killed in action, felt moved by the Christmas spirit. Gunfire continued to be exchanged in certain locations along the front, and in some unfortunate cases soldiers were killed by enemy fire as they emerged from the trenches in the hope for a day of peace. The unsanctioned truce concerned high-ranking officials, afraid that their men might lose the will to fight, and outraged others, including one young German corporal who would launch the next world war. “Such a thing should not happen in wartime,” Adolf Hitler scolded his fellow soldiers. “Have you no German sense of honor left?”

“As the sun set on Christmas, the fighters retreated to their respective trenches. A few ceasefires held until New Year’s Day. In most locations, however, the war resumed on December 26. At 8:30 a.m. in Houplines, Captain Charles Stockwell of the 2nd Royal Welch Fusiliers fired three shots into the air and raised a flag that read “Merry Christmas.” His German counterpart raised a flag that read “Thank you.” The two men then mounted the parapets, saluted each other and returned to their sodden trenches. Stockwell wrote that his counterpart then “fired two shots in the air—and the war was on again.”

“The guns of World War I did not fall silent again until the signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918. The Christmas Truce, however, provided an unforgettable memory for many such as the British soldier who confessed in a letter the following day, “I wouldn’t have missed the experience of yesterday for the most gorgeous Christmas dinner in England.”

Regrettably, this is a story that probably couldn’t happen in today’s world. The heartfelt yearning for love, home and family these soldiers exhibited exceeded politics and penetrated the very soul and essence of humanity.

How tragic that we, citizens of the greatest country in the world cannot put aside our hate and intolerance to respect the political opinions of others.

I know what my Christmas wish would be this year; that we all find a way back to love and brotherhood in the purest form and stop the ceaseless hate and anger. As Americans we share too much good to turn it all so bad.