Monthly Archives: March 2017

Short Thought 184 (dressing your age)

I look at what other people wear, men and women alike. There’s an older woman I don’t know but saw occasionally. She was spirited and in great shape but I thought to myself that she dressed “too young” for her age. Then I learned her actual age. It was decidedly older than I’d have guessed, one that by the books is undeniably senior citizen territory. My judgment evaporated. If she looks like that at that age, I thought, she has earned the right to wear pink tutus and Hello Kitty barrettes or purple glitter nail polish and beanies with spinner propellers if that’s what she wants to do.

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Fun with nature!

Did you know this? I discovered it by accident several years ago when I decided to wash a dusty pine cone. The cone had been on a shelf for years and I dunked it in water as I did again yesterday.

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See how it’s open

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But look what happens after it sits out on the counter overnight!

How did I not know this?! A pine cone, even one long parted from its original tree, closes up when it gets wet. After it dries out, it returns to the original open state. I don’t know about you, but I was very impressed with this bit of magic! I mean that’s the sort of thing which would have fascinated me as a child, had I known. After the first time I washed this pine cone I started noticing that random pine cones on the ground outside did the same thing. Huh!

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Back to normal

 

 

 

Easy Kale chips

The word kale used to make me shudder. The way my mother served it when I was a child was to blame. My memory of it was a bitter, boiled, unseasoned soggy mess that pooled discolored water on your dinner plate which floated over and infiltrated the other foods, a further insult to trying gag the vegetable down. It was a LONG time before I went near the stuff again. It’s good I did because kale is nutrient packed (high in fiber, Vitamins A, C and K with lesser amounts of protein, Vitamin B6, calcium, folate, magnesium, copper, potassium and iron) and it does not have to be disgusting!

Kale is a cool-weather annual and tastes best in season. My opinion is that kale grown in warmer weather is more likely to be(come) tough and bitter. It should be a beautiful deep green. If it’s yellowing it’s old.

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I took a kale chip recipe and simplified it. I am ALL for short cuts in cooking. First I wash the kale. I use my salad spinner and break it up into roughly bite-size pieces, tearing off the toughest, thickest stems closest to the bottom. If you want an extra step, you can first put the kale pieces in a mixing bowl but I put them directly onto a large cookie sheet. I add a capful of canola oil, a capful of cider vinegar, a bit of cayenne pepper and a little coarse sea salt and mix them up so that all the kale is coated. Adjust the seasonings to your taste; I love spicy/hot but if that’s not for you, just eliminate the cayenne. I’ve just discovered the easiest way to mix is by hand (it keeps the kale from leaping off the cookie sheet) but a spatula works too.

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I cook the kale in a 400° oven for about 15 minutes, stirring a few times. The goal is crispy but not burnt so it’s important to keep an eye on it. A higher oven temp speeds things along but necessitates more stirring as we aren’t aiming for carcinogenic kale chips.

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Kale clearly has high water content  – see how much it cooks down (and don’t look at my discolored pan)

Now I’m not gonna kid you. These aren’t anything like potato chips but they DO have a delicate, satisfying crunch. Completely different from steamed kale, say. This is now my favorite way to cook kale.

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Isn’t that pretty? And nothing is floating around!

 

Stories I’d rather not hear

He was a middle aged man I talked to occasionally when I saw him here or there, but we didn’t have a social relationship. I had on several occasions listened to his stories.He was very smart and a bit eccentric. This one day I ran into him and he started telling me about visiting a woman friend and her 18 year old daughter. Then he told me about how the young woman had taken something of his and he had wanted it back. So he said, he had to “beat her up a little bit” to get it. I assumed he was just joking, using a turn of phrase to illustrate a story. I didn’t react. But then he made a point to repeat it, to say just that phrase again, that he’d had to “beat her up a little bit.” Now I was listening differently. I could tell he wanted a reaction from me – hence the repetition – and that he was kind of pleased with himself.

I was appalled. I suddenly had a visual of this solidly built man strong-arming a young woman. Frightening her, maybe even hurting her. The scene went from inconsequential to alarming in my mind’s eye. I’d never challenged him before, not seriously, but this couldn’t pass. “If you put your hands on an 18-year old girl for any reason that is a reflection on you,” I said levelly. He immediately became defensive. Clearly, my reaction was unexpected. He became agitated, raising his voice, insisting to me he wasn’t going to let someone take something of his.  I know an argumentative tactic when I hear one. I’ve been listening to men say things like this all my life; the what-else-could-I-do excuse. As now, they get mad at you for pointing out they did wrong.

I was uncomfortable but kept my voice the same and repeated exactly what I’d already said. Instead of backing down, he clung to his position. I knew far better than to say things like “You could have called the police” or “You could have taken her to Small Claims Court.” People in this mode aren’t interested in solutions. They feel called out, embarrassed possibly, especially because a story meant to amuse you, their listener, or to at least get a positive response, has backfired.

Once someone starts raising their voice (to me), they are not listening. Moreover, once someone starts raising their voice to me, my time with them is over. I moved along that day and haven’t stopped to talk with him since. He revealed something about himself to me in that conversation that I wanted no part of. Putting his hands on the young woman was bad enough but repeating it to another woman he ostensibly liked – assuming I’d see his point or take his side – compounded it. He had an opportunity to reconsider when I challenged him, but instead he chose to defend his position and in doing, alienated me.

 

A trip to the fire house yard sale

On the weekend I went to a big indoor yard sale with many sellers at the local firehouse. They’ve been holding these for a couple years and I’ve found nice things in the past. I am increasingly particular about what I buy, new or not. I try to stay focused on things I truly need or want not just buy “okay-this-will-do items” or buy something so I don’t come away empty-handed. My commitment to de-cluttering and having things that add to my life is genuine.

Some of the sellers were aggressive (at these sorts of things I find that men and women and alike can be pushy or even rude) but I never let someone cajole or harass me into a purchase. I know they think if they can engage you in a conversation, even about an item you’ve shown no interest in, that you might feel obligated to buy it. (This technique may be geared more toward women buyers, I don’t know). If somebody rubs me wrong, I lose interest in ALL their merchandise and move on. There’s nothing I need that badly.

(One year in the fall, after I’d politely declined her baked goods for sale, an unpleasant woman waved some kind of brownie on a toothpick in my face and said snarkily and apropos of nothing to no one in particular, “she must not want to ruin her figure for the holidays.” I thought of many comebacks but it wasn’t worth the trouble. That said, I was ready for her this time when she snarked yet again in different circumstances.)

A word on the firehouse. It may seem an odd location for events but they have a large hall that is used for many functions. That said, I was carrying an item to the ladies’ room to try it on when the fire bell on the wall above my head went off. I jumped around like a sitcom character, then realized what the atrocious sound was, collected myself and moved on (but kind of hoped nobody had seen me).

I found this sweater, new with tags. Marked as $3, it fit me, but since I liked it but didn’t loooovvvve it , I asked the nice woman if she’d take $2 and she readily agreed. It is hard for me to ask for things (I was going to say “like that” but in reality it’s anything – but I’m improving) and her easy reply surprised me.

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I got this cookbook for a quarter. It has stunning photos and for that alone it was worth getting. I can always donate it later.

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On getting it home, I noticed something a bit different in the writing like this recipe for Minestrone which calls for a “swede.”

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Never saw THAT before. I hunted around and discovered the cookbook was Australian.

I happened upon the table of a pleasant woman I’d bought beautiful earrings from at a prior sale. She had many watches for $2 AND she’d put batteries in them too! I got this Milan one. I’m sorry the photo doesn’t quite show the detail. It even has the date, a feature I’ve never had. And I never know what the darn date is. My “system” typically involves figuring out the last time I knew the date for certain and counting forward. This is a sucky system.

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I made the rounds of the tables a second time in a more leisurely way as the first rush of shoppers thinned. The watch lady appeared with more watches from her car so I returned to take another look. I mean $2?! For a working watch? Splurge time! So glad I did. I found the most unusual watch I’ve ever seen. It’s like a little piece of art. The brand is Shiffon which meant nothing to me (a later Google search wasn’t very helpful, only suggestive of it being vintage – their word not mine). Look at this thing! The gray rectangle is metal and the small openings on two corners are cutouts. The right knob adjusts the time but the lower left one is decorative (I think).

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The ladies said it could be a “conversation starter”  but I’m not trying to start conversations; this just suits me

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I’m sorry it isn’t clearer but even the second hand is art – a bright yellow zig-zag line with an arrow on the end

As I wrote this I felt like I was forgetting something. I was – so I’m adding this after publishing the post. It’s a small metal wall shelf I got for a dollar. It’s about one foot across and 6″ deep. I’m not sure where I’m going to put it so I just stuck it on the wall to show it to you. Initially I figured I’d paint it but now I’m not sure.

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As you can see it is hollow and has two places to attach screws.

Short Thought 182 (Getting over)

She’s a get-over girl who taught her son to be a get-over boy. She knows how to spin, my god, can she spin. Her talent is convincing people that things are not as bad as they seem and that there’s an alternative way to look at them (one that suits her purposes). It buys her time, it gets people off her back. She’s done it so long it’s like a second language, maybe even a first. He’s watched and learned. He can throw a few phrases around but it all starts to fall apart after that. Because unlike her, he doesn’t see, or more importantly care, how things look to other people, and why one might need to commit to convincing them things are not as crappy as they appear. Her way, sadly, works in the world. His does not.