Monthly Archives: September 2014

“FOOD for the family with young children” (1961 style)

Several years back, I found a couple old pamphlets while rummaging around a book sale. They amused me. It’s fun to look at outdated information to see how things used to be. This government publication from 1961 is one of my finds.


Here we’re introduced to the Wright family.

Note the "jolly, lively youngsters"

Note the “jolly, lively youngsters”

Two adults get 1.5 lbs of fats & oils, and 2.5 lbs of sugars & sweets a week. Milk, cheese & ice cream none too shabby either. Hot diggity, 1961 here I come!

Two adults get 1.5 lbs of fats & oils, and 2.5 lbs of sugars & sweets a week. Milk, cheese & ice cream none too shabby either. Hot diggity, 1961 here I come!

Let's hit the grocery store and load up on pertaters and lard.

Let’s hit the grocery store and load up on pertaters and lard.

"Mrs. Wright, thank you so kindly for inviting me to supper. More mashed potatoes? Don't mind if I do! Say, what's for dessert?"

“Mrs. Wright, thank you so kindly for inviting me to supper. More mashed potatoes? Don’t mind if I do! Say, what’s for dessert tonight?”

50 Shades of You Lost Me

I started to read 50 Shades of Grey when it was big news but couldn’t get all the way through it. I knew I wasn’t having the appropriate response. It wasn’t the kinky S&M sex I took issue with – the book started kinda hot. As I kept reading though, despite having a nonviolent nature, I wanted to smack the dominant male protagonist, Christian. And not in a sexy way either.

The relationship with the less experienced Ana, begins consensually, but when he truly hurts her – beats her really – without her consent, I was done. I stopped reading. The kink-capades lost their sizzle.

I believe that the pair goes on to attempt a more mainstream relationship in a following book(s) while addressing his “issues.” I don’t give a flip about his issues. Work your problems out with a nice therapist, not sexually on a gullible young woman. I’m of an age and experience where instead of relating to Ana and living vicariously through her, I felt protective toward her. I’m not the target audience, not when I feel like popping Christian upside the head.

Not sure if I’ll see the upcoming movie. I know I won’t see it in the theater but maybe later. However, I might well get to the non-consensual beating scene and no further.

Chipmunk visits the Bird Bath and Squirrel Drinking Station

This is a cruddy photo I know, but I had to move quick to capture the chipmunk drinking out of my Dollar Tree dog bowl/bird bath. The chipmunk coming around now, unlike some I’ve known, is very skittish. It is just too odd seeing him perched up on the edge like that. (I figured if he fell in, it’s not all that deep.)

You too can have a blog! (well, maybe)

Before I started this blog I was kind of intimidated. Blogs and websites seemed mysterious. What did they look like behind the scenes?? Could a regular person understand? I didn’t really know anyone to ask. I also don’t think of myself as very tech savvy and I heard a bunch of words associated with them that meant zippo to me. Who wants to learn THAT? Booorring!

I feel, in the months since I’ve been here, like I’ve gone behind the curtain. Ohhhh. So this is what they look like. Let me show you around a little.

WordPress – the only blogging platform I’ve seen – is fairly user-friendly. I am going to guess that over time it and other similar sites, have become more so, which is fortunate for the likes of non-techie people. Behind-the-scenes is not as pretty, or colorful as I might like but it’s not bad. The posts themselves are written in a word processing form, with options to do things like insert links or italicize, assign to a category, etc. Thankfully, drafts can be saved and/or revised. There’s even a “Preview” button! Yay!

The main area in WordPress, the command central if you will, is called the Dashboard. I love that, the word itself. This may sound peculiar, but I have good associations with dashboards. It probably goes back to childhood and the mysterious lights and numbers and buttons that captivated a child (but couldn’t be touched). I also have good memories of sitting in a car talking – let’s go with talking for these purposes – listening to the radio and staring transfixed at the dash. I’ve always found them visually appealing. Sadly, the “dashboard” in WordPress looks nothing like the dashboard on a car [insert sad face].

There are also notifications for whenever someone likes or comments on a post, a list of followers, links to blogs followed, and blog stats. WordPress is decidedly fond of numbers. There’s a business-like feel to most of it, although a few auto-comments from WordPress are goofy and stand out in contrast to the overall vibe. They make me think someone in the 16 to 22 year old range is writing them. If I could, I’d be giving them a withering look in response.

I have no direct interaction with “management” if you will; WordPress doesn’t send me any personal messages. That said, they write articles geared to bloggers with advice or information. Also, they do change things around from time to time, without notice. That’s a little weird. If you preferred the “old way”, tough. For example, when I first started, I could post large photos, but that’s gone away, at least from my blog “theme” (the layout the reader sees that a blogger chooses).

To blog, it helps to have a knack for ferreting out information and solving problems. I generally like a challenge so it suits me. Without that inclination, someone would probably grow frustrated and/or bored with the mechanics of blogging. Luckily, there are forums available to ask questions, and they’re archived. I’ve never needed to ask a current question; when something comes up I Google it and invariably find an old answer.

While I’ve chosen a free blog (with ads I have no say-so over), there are paid options to upgrade, get dot-com added to your site name, or just to add fancier stuff, colors and so forth, to your blog. A blogger is not pressured to cough up cash, so much as reminded it’s a possibility.

The whole kit and kaboodle is definitely a learn-as-you-blog endeavor. For the first two months I wrote this blog I thought a small headshot of me was displayed on it. Come to find out, only I could see it. In the early months, I’d find something, a way to accomplish a task, and later not be able to find it again. The right hand side of my blog, that you, the reader, can see, with its lists of categories, recent posts, and tiny calendar, are all things I selected to put there (from a list of options). They are called widgets, who knows why. I can make ’em disappear too!

I have my limits. I don’t really need or want to become a WordPress savant. I’m here to write above all else. The mechanics are secondary. In the end, the prose is what matters.

Short Thought 62 (old classmates)

I doubt very much I’m the first person to think this about my past, but if you had told me in grade school and high school what might become of some of my classmates, I wouldn’t have believed it. Teenage pregnancies, suicides, prison, heart disease, deaths, divorces, alcoholism, and romantic pairings I’d have never considered. And this is just the stuff I happen to know about.  When I think about old classmates, even if I know them in present day, I still imagine kids. And these sorts of things don’t happen to kids.

Grocery shopping: healthy, healthy, healthy, junky, healthy

Which item doesn't belong?

Which item doesn’t belong?

This is my grocery store receipt from earlier this week: 3 lbs apples, 1 lb lettuce, 1 lb carrots, 1 lb pears, a bag of spinach, almost 2 lbs bananas, almost 2 lbs tomatoes, and… potato chips. Sort of a vegetable, yes?

This list pretty much captures my overarching diet philosophy, that is, mostly healthy with a little bit of junk. Does all the healthy stuff cancel out the occasional junk? I reckon it does, and if not, I am just not willing to never have anything “unhealthy.” How many people get to the end of their life and say, “If only I’d never had any chips. I coulda been somebody?”

I’m not a purist. I get cravings. Mostly I don’t give in, but once in awhile do. To stay honest – and I realize this stickler practice isn’t for most – whenever I have something junky, I jot it on my calendar. That’s how I know this is the second time this year I bought potato chips.

IF chips were healthy, I’d eat them every week. Salty, crunchy, greasy, oh my! A savory trifecta! The chips I got this week were a mixed pack, including two flavored kinds. I can’t say when I last ate a flavored chip (as I’m well aware their ingredient lists are appalling), but when I munched into that first barbecue-flavored chip the other day, my senses flooded with pleasure. Oh man was that good! Potato chips have a secret ingredient that changes an otherwise rational person into a dopamine-filled chip junkie whose only thought is “More, MORE, MORE.”

The bags are labeled in a way that caught my notice.

They're Made from potatoes? Is this anything to be boasting about?

Made from potatoes? Is this anything to be boasting about?

The Nice Girl Diet (and one creepy Landlord)

This story happened years ago and I am different now from when it occurred, no doubt in part, from having had to deal with situations like it. The details remain strong.

When I was in my late 20’s I found myself in an isolated area I didn’t know, without a car, in the hull of a boat with my creepy then-landlord. It was not a good situation – which I belatedly realized all too well once I was in it. I still remember how sickened and alarmed I felt in the moment. What had I done? Very fortunately, nothing happened. I felt as if a bullet had whizzed past my head and that the fates would not likely toss me another free pass should I make that kind of mistake again.

There were certainly warning markers along the path that led me to the boat hull. It wasn’t that I’d missed them. Rather, I hadn’t known had to handle them, but even more so I didn’t know I was allowed to. I was brought up on The Nice Girl Diet, which has probably caused untold numbers of women similar and much worse problems.

I was never taught about personal boundaries, how to stand up for myself or how to safely confront authority figures in the wrong. Be nice. Don’t make other people uncomfortable. Your needs don’t matter.  There was hell to pay for that mindset. That deliriously screwed-up mindset.

Maybe I had just enough innate presence of mind and smarts up to the boat hull incident or maybe I’d just been lucky. For whatever reason, I’d fared okay and usually sidestepped or possibly out-smarted potentially hazardous situations. I could absolutely sense danger or trouble when they were afoot, but the way I handled them was probably awkward at best. So what led to the boat situation where I made these missteps?

I first contacted Landlord Creepy on the phone about his rental, which was described in the ad as a studio apartment in a “mansion.”  A bit ostentatious, but okay. He and his wife lived in a large apartment in the old house they owned, which had been converted into apartments with five more in addition to theirs. When I asked who took care of maintenance, he indignantly shot back with, “What kind of maintenance do you think you’ll need?” which struck me as a peculiar way to answer a legitimate question.

I arranged to meet him at the house but at the appointed time, he wasn’t there. Instead, his wife, who did not seem to be expecting me, showed the efficiency. I loved it. It had a 9′ ceiling and sat on the corner of the 2nd floor of the house, which meant it had extra high windows on two walls, which flooded the space with light – how I love light! The closet was small and the bathtub had no shower but the rent was good. My current roommate was getting married and I needed to get out of her house. I’d never lived alone before. This place was it.

I met Landlord Creepy the day I moved in and in my gut I realized had I met him first, I wouldn’t have taken the rental. He had a kind of wimpy quality combined with faux friendliness, an overly familiar sort who seemed insincere. He felt wrong. In time I’d come to feel he was the kind of person who’d read just enough self-help books and had just enough therapy to be dangerous, as he set about using pabulum to manipulate people. He was not stupid. (I’d later see a book in the basement communal storage area titled, “How to Get People to Do Things” and know with dead certainty it was his.) His wife, a more agreeable individual, albeit with issues of her own, struck me as long-suffering and quite possibly depressed.

My impressions were soon confirmed by Landlord Creepy’s comments and ways. He said how great it was to see a “gorgeous blond” taking her trash out to the bins instead of a “wrinkled, old lady.” I hadn’t known he was watching me and worse, one of his current tenants, the one in the studio across the hall from mine, was an elderly woman. Nice.

He came into my apartment once for a small repair (he did minor repairs, however ineptly and, it turned out, hired cheap, fly-by-night characters for larger house repairs). He exclaimed over my decorating, how my apartment looked like a “New York studio” (even I knew that was a stretch) and asked about what I was cooking for dinner, since it smelled so good. It was an efficiency – there was no other room for me to go into to while he was there. Apparently everything was fair game. In retrospect it’s a wonder he didn’t comment on my cozy bed or personal toiletries.

At one point there was a ladder leaning up against the house uncomfortably close to my second floor window during a time when one of his fly-by-night repair people had been doing something on the house. Landlord Creepy soon appeared hobbling with a cast on his leg. The guy I was dating joked that my landlord had fallen off the ladder trying to see into my apartment. The crack was only sort of funny…

He later did something shittier in regard to that elderly lady across the hall. Granted, she seemed a bit off. I was certain she once vacuumed in the dead of night in the common area outside our doors (there was a visible gap under my door which opened onto the hall and she was literally a matter of feet in distance from where I slept), but when I asked her about it the following day, in terms of making noise, she vehemently denied having done so.

One day after that, I don’t know quite what happened but she suffered a sort of mental break and the rescue squad/fire department showed (I imagine called by Landlord Creepy). It was a weird, ugly scene. I opened my door, which led to a fireman staring into my little apartment and commenting on what he saw – he seemed to be hitting on me indirectly. The other team members were hauling my unwilling neighbor down the short hallway. I tried to speak to her reassuringly and she nastily snapped back at me. They took her away in an ambulance as I and the landlord stood watching inside the front double doors on the first floor. I was genuinely shaken and upset. Landlord Creepy feigned concern. He said it reminded him of when his own mother was taken away in similar circumstances. His mother may have been taken away but I didn’t believe for a minute he cared a whit about his elderly tenant.

But the day wasn’t over. A short while later I saw him, through the wide-opened door to the neighbor’s apartment, rummaging around her belongings, taking things away, such as a clothes iron. He even asked me if there was anything I thought should be removed. I had the wherewithal to question what he was doing. This made him light into me; he wasn’t going to have his safety and the safety of his home endangered by allowing his tenant to keep things he deemed dangerous. He’d talked to a friend of the elderly woman and she’d told him the woman was schizophrenic and had suffered these breaks before. He had every right and so on. I left him there and went back to my apartment. I knew what he was doing had to be illegal. What if one day he decided I shouldn’t have certain things in my apartment?

As it turned out, the elderly woman never returned and her apartment was re-rented. One day, Landlord Creepy asked for my assistance with his boat (which I expect he referred to as a yacht). I no longer recall what it was he said he needed but I agreed (I was young, I was if not stupid, too helpful, too easily cowed). Off we went to the boat yard in his car. On the way, he decided to “reveal” that his sex life wasn’t all that because his wife had been molested as a child. He also told me how he had telephoned his wife’s therapist – about what, I don’t remember – and was now indignant because the therapist (rightly, wisely), had taken him to task about the inappropriateness of the call. He was, I could tell, trying to get me on “his side,” but I wasn’t so young or so easily manipulated as to not see the inappropriateness of his raising these things to me.

At the boat yard, turns out there wasn’t a particular chore we’d come to do (imagine), but something like a not-quite well tied rope which he tightened and about which Landlord Creepy commented that he had been right in his “feeling” that something was amiss. This was the first I was hearing that a “feeling” was the reason for the excursion to the docked boat. I took note.

Landlord Creepy went below deck and bid me to come see it. I tell you, I went a few steps down the rungs, said something like “it’s nice” and turned right back around. My feet never touched the floor. Many years later, I remember that moment, that sickening moment, when I realized I’d been baited, conned, into this jaunt. That wimpy jackass knew that asking for my help was the way to go. Once the supposed “emergency” of something wrong with the boat evaporated, it was something else entirely. His beckoning me to come see the boat below deck was a game, a test. He was a weak-spined weasel at heart; manipulation was his operating procedure. It didn’t work on me, not this time, not with these stakes.

When I didn’t go down those rungs, Landlord Creepy came back above, and we returned to the rental house. After that, I knew what I was dealing with, and did my best to distance myself. Soon thereafter, I found a handwritten note from him with my mail, where he tried to excuse himself with commentary about possibly “over-sharing.” The note felt like yet another level of manipulation and did nothing to make me feel better or change my opinion of him.

Not right way, but after two years total in the rental, I gave notice and moved out of the house and the area. I sat tight till Landlord Creepy returned my security deposit by mail. With it, he included a short hand-written, mocking note, to the effect that I had just “run away” and how interesting and fun this had been to watch! (The exclamation being his.) His narcissistic ego amazed me, how he made my moving out, not only from his rental but from the city, not about my life – which he knew little of and remembered less – but about HIM.

I wrote him a reply where I can happily tell you, I let the weasely conniving toad have it. I said his wife might still be interested to learn that he’d been discussing their sex life – or lack thereof – with tenants. I made reference to his faux caring-n-sharing. I wished upon him “unattractive, non-rent paying tenants” forevermore. Oh yeah I did. He never bothered me again.

I tried occasionally, over the years, to see what became of Landlord Creepy via the internet. The only thing I found was recent, and about the house. The “mansion” has been sold a couple times over. That’s all I got.