Archive for January, 2014

Making it work wherever we are
January 31, 2014

Here’s a trick that’ll help keep you healthy, wealthy and wise: make it work wherever you are.

There are times, it seems, when everything seems to be falling apart at the same time. You set priorities, right? But what’s at the top of the list of priorities today, is at the bottom of the list tomorrow. The car has  a hitch in its get-along, the wind dropped a  branch on the roof and you’ve loaned the ladder to a friend who’s out of town- and which you shouldn’t be climbing up in, anyway-and your handy man, men do come in handy, has the sniffles and a headache….

….on and on and on and on. You know the drill.

My approach to such chaos used to be: run in circles, scream and shout, tear my hair and flounce about.  Exhausting and a  waste of time. I took up solving the problem slowly. I don’t know about you, but I’m running a bit slower these days- darned if I’ll blame the years-so I took up skipping, lowered my voice, patted my hair and gave up flouncing. Flouncing  around in smelly sweats and mucky barn boots is  silly.  Flouncing was the first to go. Good riddance.

That skipping junk? Forget it. How do you skip in circles? Skipping out. Bye bye.

I’ll admit- once upon a lifetime- I used to kick the tires when the car misbehaved. Take that. And that.  Then I stubbed my toe.

That worked.   A comfy chair, a goof with  a view, bird chirps, and a hot cup of tea. Comfort that toe. “Have a long talk with  yourself,” I said. And a cookie. I’m  a cookie monster. As I sat there, the first time I tried this approach, the world- surprise, surprise- didn’t come to an end.The problems didn’t go away but the stress did. That hidden human dimension which bugs us all. How to deal with stress? Take a deep breath and make up your mind to have fun with it.

“Fun?’

Seriously. What is stress ? ‘To subject to physical or mental pressure, tension or strain.’ A useless pastime. Solves nothing. Just contributes to the problem. It’s that boogie man under the bed that, as a kid, you learned to get after with a broom.

Actually, the way it worked out, I decided to have fun solving the problem. It was, as it should have been along, a fun thing to do.

“Yeah? Well you’re broke,” my mind grumbled.”What’s the fun in that?”

“My Scottish blood loves to pinch pennies,” I answered.

“Pinch my foot.”

“Been there done that. Money problems are the worst…”

“You can say that again.”

“Money problems are the worst.”

“Are you trying to be funny?”

“Yep.”

“You’re not succeeding.”

“Have a cookie.”

“These are  crackers.”

“Crackers are funny.”

“Crackers are funny?”

“Crackers are funny.”

“You’re repeating yourself.”

“I ‘m talking to myself.”

“You can say that again.”

“I’m talking to myself.”

“You win,” small chuckle.

We made it work. It never fails.

Success
January 25, 2014

“Who are all those people?”

I shrugged. “Don’t know.”

“You don’t know?”

“That’s what I said.”

“Your house is filled with people you don’t know?”

I looked around, “I recognize some of them. Maybe they brought  friends.”

“Better they brought  libation, you’re gonna run out.”

” Got plenty of cheese and crackers,” I smiled at a cute couple of guys with six packs in hand. “Loaves and fishes…”

“…and wine to water.”

“That’s water to wine, dunce. Don’t get her started. Heard that story a dozen time.”

“Wanna hear it again?”

“No.Nope. Negative.  I suspect  they’re here to celebrate her success,” that was my Editor. The one with the dog who was dancing with my grown up puppy, Boots.

“Success. I truly despise that word. ”

“Why?”

“It’s so sibilant. It hisses. It’s reptilian.”

“Tell that to Madonna.”

“That’s what I mean.  Look around at so many of the people who are successful today and hold your nose.”

“Whatever. Isn’t this supposed to be a happy, healthy occasion?”

“Well, one must, on occasion, consider the ‘dark’ side in order  to take pleasure, be happy and healthy, on  the light side.”

I smiled at this young woman- a fellow writer- who was traveling the long hard road to publication and whispered. “I couldn’t have said it better. There’s some good cold Chardonnay  in that round black table- looking thing that’s really an ice chest. Cork’s popped. Grab an opaque plastic glass and pour under cover.”

Everyone within hearing distance giggled and made a dash. I tripped one guy and he dropped a slice of pizza. Boots and Obama, my Editor’s dog, sniffed and ran to snatch it. They shared.

“I’m thinking of Paris Hilton. Her parent spent a fortune hiring some guy to make a celebrity out of her. He said it was not easy. Celebrity equals success? Come on.”

“Success. Celebrity. Success. Celebrity. And all that Hilton money.”

“Well she got successfully hatched into a wealthy family. I’ll take that kind’a success.Next time”

I know now why I never liked this guy.  The one who splattered cheese and pepperoni pizza. “Advantage over. Edge. Upper whip-hand. Ascendancy. Mastery. Expugnation…”

“I really like that word,” said the would- be writer. “‘To erase or strike out’.”

“Go on…”

“…Conquest. Victory. Subdual. Subjugation. Nothing pretty here.”

“Come off well.  Colors flying. Make progress. Surmount. Triumph.”

“Everything Paris Hilton didn’t do.”

“But Madonna did. Wasn’t she great in Evita?”

“I’m gonna stop inviting writers to my parties. You guys are word addicts,” I turned my back and sauntered off to chat with the darling guys with the beer. I hoped they were surfers. They looked like surfers. Long hair. Great bodies. Tan. Maybe they’d share a beer. I propped my shilelagh against the wall, grabbed a platter of organic potato chips and home-grown tomato-Vitamixed-spicey dip. “This is hot,” I smiled.

“You’re hot.”

Whoowhoowhoopie.

“You finished the book? Can we proof read? We’re gonna be writers when we grow up.”

“What’s your take on success?” I sighed.

Romance
January 18, 2014

Romance is such a pretty word, don’t you think?

A pretty idea. Almost lost in the 21st century. Where did it go?

I think it’s another of those wonderful healthy human traits. We can all indulge in a romantic spirit or sentiment, in a romantic aura. Don’t you just love ‘aura’ ? To indulge in fanciful stories or day dreams? I think there’s a time for that. I think we should all make time for that.

We don’t have to go overboard or get lost in romantic pastimes, but to prop yourself in the shade of a comforting tree and find romance in every moment is good for everything that ails you. Birds, I think, are filled with romance. A friend of mind said, “Birds are pure spirits.” I like that, too, and I must remind Duke, my favorite Macaw, when he starts to swear-I didn’t teach him-or turn the air blue, green and purple with screeches to which this entire valley is subject.

I love Duke, he is pure spirit, but he has a Mephistophelean streak as broad as all outdoors. Maybe he envies the sweet romantic bird twitters that ring through the trees in my jungle. But, isn’t it true? We could not enjoy romance if we didn’t have reckless twaddle as balance. Everything must balance.

Balance romantic strawberry shortcake with stewed prunes lying limp in a bowl. Yuck.

I’m not great on romantic novels-they’re a little too sweets for my taste-but tales of heroes and heroines and ‘extraordinary or mysterious’ events can be considered romantic, too. Remember Gone with the Wind and Wuthering Heights? Who in the world could ever forget Heathcliff?

I can remember when war films were not romantic. I remember fondly Romancing the Stone. Jane Wilder was a romance novelist. Such a fun wonderful romantic adventure.

Think of romantic textures. Velvet vs tweed. Silk robes vs Turkish cotton. Hats to be worn at Ascot opening day by beautiful women vs baseball caps slopped backwards.

Shalimar vs sweaty briefs.

Ginger Rogers and Fred Astair vs Madonna and chorus in ugly underwear.

Equestriennes on gorgeous steeds vs whatevers on bikes. No prejudice or intolerance intended.

I think we really need to bring back romance. Grab it by the collar. Haul it in like a trout on a line.

Voluptuate-I think I invented that word-in serious pleasant pastimes. Eat lots’a M & M’s. Drink lots’a ice Chardonnay mit crackers and cheese. Unrestrained pleasure: climb a tree. Sit astride a strong limb. Grand soirees out in the carport with your neighbors and kids and dogs. Cheat and eat a hot dog in a hot dog bun slavered with mustard. And catsup.

Go back to writing with pencil and long yellow legal instead of swearing-hear Duke hear-at screwball computers with attitudes. Mine hates it when I make up words.

I gotta go. My mind is bending. Romantically. I’m getting carries away.

Mashed Potatoes
January 15, 2014

“When I was a little girl,” I said, “the serving ladies at school called me ‘mashed potatoes’. ‘Get ready here comes  mashed potatoes,’ was the cry down  line.

“I loved mashed potatoes and, I guess,  ’cause I was little and skinny, they decided to fatten me up. I’d leave the counter with a tray almost too heavy for a runt to carry.”

“Oh gawd, it’s gonna be a story.”

“Shut up and munch.”

“Ten to one she’ll divulge a recipe,” he munched.

“You’re on,” another muncher munched. “Good thing. They’re delicious.”

‘When was the last time you baked anything?”

“That’s why I brought  this beautiful lady.”

His beautiful lady rolled her eyes. “That and uncorking the wine and making the bed and cleaning  house. I like red better

than white with these things. Can I call a Cab?”

“Of course. Potatoes go good with red. It’s a color thing. I love potatoes. They’re versatile. Thank you Walter Raleigh and mother earth. Think of the versatility! You can make potato soup, potato salad, casseroles. You can roast’em, bake’em, slice and dice’em in omelets or fritatas. Hash’em. You can dress ’em up, dress ’em down, disguise ’em and you can eat’em for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks , happy hour. Soirees. They’re vegetable. Remember them? A staple. They keep well. They’re abundant. Easy to grow.  Not that expensive. They’re  also very nourishing and  they’re not fattening. A medium size baked potato, grown in rich soil, contains about a hundred calories, 2 grams of protein, 22 grams of carbohydrate, .5  grams of fiber, a trace of fat, no saturated fat,  3 mg iron, 60 mg. of calcium, 180 grams of potassium, 420 mg of sodium,   a trace of B1 and B 2, 3.2 mg of Niacin, 15 mg. of C.”

“Did anybody get that down?”

“I recorded it. She likes to hear her own voice.”

“I like’er better when she does the Alice B Toklas thing. When do we get to the hash?”

“Alice B Who?”

“Peasant.”

“This ignorant younger generation.”

“Alice  did fudge. Not potatoes. Don’t get this one  riled or you’ll get that shillelagh on your noggin.”

“I never turn my back on’er when she’s got that shillelagh in her hand.”

“Do you want the recipe or not? There’s also a beauty secret exposed here.”

‘I love beauty secrets.”

“It isn’t original – the beauty part is- use russet potatoes cut into 1/2 inch size. Extra virgin olive oil. Always. Don’t peel. The skin’s most nutritious.  Salt. Pepper. Oh, yeah, heat the oven to 450F first.

Soak the potatoes in ice water for about 15 or 20 minutes. Stick’em in a non stick tray in the oven. Pat dry. Bake for 15 or 20 minutes. Turn and bake for another 20 minutes, turning once in a while or until they’re crisp and golden.That’s  tricky.  Little more salt and pepper.  Serve fast. You can also toss ’em in Parmesan cheese. Minced garlic.  Chopped parsley.”

“The beauty?”

” Snowdon. State secret divulged.”

“All that olive oil on your hands.? Don’t wipe it off, rub it on your face.”

Food for thought
January 3, 2014

This will be different from what you thought it would be. I’m not piqueing your mind’s ability to think, I’m saying  this: if you are not properly fed- nourished-your mind, forget your IQ, will not function properly. It cannot.

Food feeds the mind as well as the body.

A healthy mind in a healthy body is surely pretty much at the top of the list of goals humans must pursue. Or should.

What do you know about nutrition?

Stiff da’mouth, swell’da belly, chomp, wolf, swallow?

Not.

Recently I read an article stating that Vitamins could not assure good health. Or something like that.

Well, let me tell you this, a Vitamin deficiency can sure ruin your whole day.

The word, Vitamin, mean necessary to life. And they are.

A Vitamin B deficiency-exteneded- beyond beyond-can result in pellagra, the four D’s:dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia and death. Look around, you’ll see a lot of dermatitis. Bad skin. Who remembers what beautiful skin looked like? What do you know about vitamin B? Probably nothing. Start here. It’s a complex. There are many B Vitamins. Unless ordered by a doctor, never take one B. It can mess up the entire complex. So where  in the world do you get the entire B?

“The only good source of the B vitamins are liver, yeast, and wheat germ, though meats, seeds, nuts, a few vegetables, and whole grain breads and cereals supply small amounts. Some foods are rich in individual B vitamins.”

How much liver do you eat? Eating liver, today, is pretty risky. Eating liver is sort of an acquired taste-almost forgotten- although it can be really very tasty, I wouldn’t depend on getting it from any cow or chicken , unless you’ve grass-fed them yourself. Even then, I’d wonder. One can only get out of a blade of grass what the soil the grass grows in has. If an animal is grazing on grass that has no B Vitamins, their liver has no  B Vitamin.

A perfectly good example of this are carrots. Carrots, rich in Vitamin A,  help stave off night blindness. Pilots flying at night were often advised to eat a lot of carrots. Unfortunately, we’re growing carrots today that contain no vitamin A. Our soil is depleted.

Anything grown in the soil can only take from the soil that which is in the soil. No source of vitamin  A? No carrot that contains it. If you do suffer from a touch of night blindness, try supplementing  one capsule of 10,000 International Units of Vitamin  A and see what happens. You’ll be surprised.

Here’s another one: if you pick an   avocado, orange or mango grown on an old tree growing in your backyard, it will have more food value than one you buy in a store that’s been packaged, shipped from who knows where. Another factor, the sooner you eat it, the fresher it is, the more nourishment it contains.

Who am I to wax supreme on nutritious knowledge? The proof of the pudding.

Friendlies
January 2, 2014

I hope there are some out there both here and elsewhere. Let me bring you up to date, new readers and responders who don’t live in Hawaii or on Kauai. First of all I am a former Editor and columnist, a homegrown actress-pretty good one, too-an addictive writer to the Forum, the letter writing page in the Garden Island newspaper , a secular humanist, a boat rocker, a tail tweaker  and a galloping octogenarian gadfly. You can go in your search in the Garden Island, which is a pretty neat little hometown rag, with some pretty fine writers and editors. Find the opinion button, read the letters, then punch discussion site and tune into the ‘soul’ of Kauai.

The very lively, sometimes fierce and nasty, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, posts are truly the soul of this island and its people. Hawaii is a blue state, at least sometimes I think so. Economically we’re falling off the end of the world. We’ve lost those waving fields of tall green grass, tourism is down the drain, as is the construction industry. Our largest employer is the military. Many Hawaiians think, quite truthfully, that we are an occupied territory and, of course, Hawaii was-literally-stolen by the missionaries with the help of the US marines and the big time sugar barons who gobbled up the land; but that was a long time ago. My husband used to say, “Yeah? Well I didn’t steal any land and I really do not see Uncle giving it back to the natives.” ‘Course he had the military mindset, but I agree.

I’ll tell you this, though, we’ve sure made a mess of it. Still, it’s the most delightful chain of islands lying at anchor in anybody’s deep blue sea. And what I can do is share with you this beautiful place, and its people, the good and the bad and the ugly. I can get you a ring- side seat to the best black and white fights on the written page, even some spicey commentaries. I can get you to places you may love to be, into places you would rather not be. But that’s entirely up to you. Scroll round and round, go up and down, go sideways, back to front. Have fun.

To start though, you might like to check out Mark Twain. Find and read Mark Twain on Hawaii. A Paradise for all Sorts, and About the Natives. Still pretty true, except the natives today dress just like the rest of us. And, on Kauai, a curious faction, as you might have read in NUDITY,  are having cat fits about the naked body.

Many of the columns address letter to the Forum. Others respond to minds in the discussion bin, if I often seem off base and off the wall, check out letters to the Forum and minds going at it bare buckle knuckle in the loony.

But, truthfully, I think we are a center of sanity and reason in the messed up nation. We CAN be a beacon of light, we are a microcosm. I look at all the red on the map and shudder. We’re still blue. We speak out and talk back. We’re sassy and stupid and silly.

Hope you have a page like this wherever you are.We are great in our diversity and, most of us, anyhow, especially the young, extremely proud of our man in the White House. He really was born in Hawaii, you know.