Saturday Smile: Can’t Keep ‘Em Down

A week ago this past Thursday, a perfect storm of weather and climatic elements aligned to create historic flooding in parts of the Midwest, the bread basket of the United States. One of the areas hardest hit was my hometown of Columbus, Nebraska. Obviously the fact that there was a tremendous loss in property and even lives did not (and does not) make me smile. But the resilience of the affected people, the stories of strangers helping one another, the anecdotes and comments I read on Facebook indicating gratitude and generosity make me proud to be a Nebraskan, and that makes me smile.

Heck, even comedian Larry the Cable Guy —a Nebraska native himself — generously agreed to donate the proceeds from his March 27 show in Lincoln to the Nebraska Red Cross for rebuilding efforts.

Larry the Cable Guy

Have a great weekend.

Friday Book Whimsy: Whiskey in a Teacup

I have a THING for cookbooks. Well, at least I USED to have a thing for cookbooks. Now I have a thing for Pinterest and cooking shows with recipes that I can save to Pinterest and read from my iPad. Still and all, the Joy of Cooking cookbook that my mother-in-law gave me many years ago remains one of my most precious possessions. Why, it even tells me how to dress a deer (and I don’t mean dress as in put it in knickers and a cardigan sweater and call it ready for church).

I rarely make it into bookstores these days, but when I visited a bookstore recently with a friend, I found myself wandering through the cookbook section. One of the cookbooks reached out to me: Kris, your southern roots are calling your name, it said.

I have no southern roots, but just as I would like to like to garden, I would love to love my southern roots. Unfortunately, I have never lived south of the Mason-Dixon line. At least not in this life. I am convinced, however, that I was a southern belle in a previous existence.

The book that caught my attention was Whiskey in a Teacup, with the unexpected author being Reese Witherspoon. Witherspoon, of course, is best know for being an actor, with my favorite of her movies being Walk the Line. What can I tell you? My southern roots from a different life.

In her introduction, Witherspoon says that her grandmother Dorothea always said that women’s combination of beauty and strength made them “whiskey in a teacup.” I love that description, and I equally love that title for the cookbook.

The cookbook does actually have a fair number of recipes; in fact, there is one or two in nearly every chapter of the book. Good southern recipes, in fact; recipes I’d like to try. But the book is more of a combination of nostalgia and common sense advice on handling an uncivilized world in a gracious manner. Knowing how to make a room beautiful or how to set a pretty table doesn’t make a person incapable of making strong business decisions. Beauty and strenth: whiskey in a teacup.

While I may not feel the need to monogram anything that isn’t moving, I agree that knowing and using (and teaching your children and grandchildren) good manners will make the world a nicer place.  I loved Witherspoon’s memories of growing up, her stories of bringing up children with good manners and a kind spirit, and even her suggested playlists for different occasions.

I enjoyed Whiskey in a Teacup, and plan to rent Walk the Line sometime soon.

Here is a link to the book.

Thursday Thoughts

Waste Not, Want Not
Here’s a crazy thing about me: There are some things I don’t think twice about wasting (time being one that comes to mind immediately). If there is a dab of food left from, say, a casserole, both of my sisters will bring out a little empty chicken bouillon jar or a tiny plastic container that once held sour cream and scoop that minuscule dab into the vessel for tomorrow’s meal (that wouldn’t fill up a mouse). Not me. If it’s not enough to fill me up for lunch, it’s history. But I can’t waste fruit or eggs. So what can you do with overripe fruit and eggs that are dangerously close to expiring? Make bread! So yesterday afternoon I peeled and chopped two lone apples that had been ignored in our fridge (because I keep forgetting that I don’t particularly like uncooked apples), and made apple fritter bread…..

Spring Has Sprung
Within a span of a few days, we went from turning on the heat in the morning to thinking seriously about turning on the air conditioner the past few afternoons. Couldn’t do it, though. And I’m not complaining, believe me. We have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of warm weather. I can now open up the doors in the morning and hear the birds sing. That makes me happy.

Play Ball
Because of our cool weather, Bill and I have been avoiding Spring Training. But on Monday the weather promised to be warm and sunny, so we took ourselves out to the ballgame. The Cincinnati Reds played the Rockies. We miscalculated a bit and spent the entire game in the sun, something that makes me happy but makes Bill, well, hot…..

Good Eats
We like the games, but the other thing we like is driving a few miles further to have lunch before the game at Guido’s Italian Deli. I’ve talked about Guido’s in other blog posts. Their Italian sub is a sandwich even a non-sandwich-eater can love. We enjoyed every drippy bite. Oh, and we might also have gotten a hot dog later that afternoon at the ballgame. Because BASEBALL.


Next Step: A Chip In The Head

In 1987, I started working for the company from which I eventually retired 20 years later. I was part of the communications and marketing department. Using the term department is a tad misleading since the department consisted of my boss and me. My boss — a very convincing salesman — managed to convince the Powers That Be that despite the fact that the entire rest of the company used PCs, we needed to have Macintosh computers (yes, kids, that’s what they used to be called). Honestly, we didn’t need Macs, but he used terms like creative liberties and better design elements and won.

So we each had a fat, squarish box on our desks that was the Macintosh personal computer. If something went wrong, our IT Department (all three of them) would look at our Macintoshes as though they were ET.

Well, I don’t need to tell you about the growth in popularity and general coolness of Apple products. They are user-friendly. No matter which piece of technology you’re using (MacBook, iPod, iPhone, etc.) they all interface. It’s technology for technologically inept people like me.

What I particularly remember about the technology being used when I started working hard for my money was the size of the mainframe. Gotcha kids. Bet you don’t even know what a mainframe is! It was huge. It required its own room that had to be temperature controlled. And then, maybe 15 years later, there was a big to-do when we downsized to a mainframe that was considerably smaller. It was cause for celebration.

And now I’m wearing a computer on my wrist. Go figure.

I am not particularly a spontaneous person. Well, unless I’m in a kitchen store, when I can quickly convince myself that I can’t live without a waffle cone maker. The fact is, I don’t require a whole heck of a lot of fancy things. I buy clothes without even trying them on. I wear only flip flops except for church when I upgrade to black sandals.

But I really wanted an Apple watch, and I can’t really tell you why. My iPhone 7 works like a charm, and I almost always have it with me. The Timex watches that I have worn for years tell satisfactory time and light up in the dark when I press the Indiglo button. Woo-hoo.

But then my sister Jen would check the time on her Apple Watch, and I would be green with envy. Or my daughter-in-law Alyx would read an email on her Apple Watch, and I could bite my lip to keep from tearing up.

But they are so ridiculously expensive that I just couldn’t jusyify the cost. Then my Timex broke and so did my will. I bought it with points (sorry grands, Christmas will be bleak this year), and compromised by buying Series 3…..

Little by little, I’m learning the tricks. In the scheme of things,however, I have scarcely learned much at all. Jen arrives on Thursday, and she will show me everything I need to know. Like why does my watch regularly tell me You are doing great. You have met your walking goal! Because a) I didn’t know I had a walking goal; and b) how on earth could I have met my walking goal when I have been sitting in my chair crocheting all afternoon.

We have come a long way from those square Macintosh computers all the way to computers you wear on your arm. Next stop: computer chips in our brains. You read it here first.

There is No Place Like Nebraska

There is no place like Nebraska
Dear old Nebraska U
Where the girls are the fairest
The boys are the squarest
Of any old place that I knew
There is no place like Nebraska
Where they’re all true blue
We’ll all stick together in all kinds of weather
For dear old Nebraska U.

These are the words to the school song of the University of Nebraska. Just about everyone who lives in that midwestern state knows these words, whether or not they attended that school. While the words refer to the student body of the University, they hold true for most of the people who live in this state from which my family and I hail.

Year after year, Nebraskans have watched hurricanes and volcanoes and tornadoes and floods and human evilness destroy communities in other states. Though it’s true that there have always been disasters (I remember the entire village of Primrose, Nebraska, for example, being destroyed by a tornado), I don’t personally remember anything that came close to the devastating floods that have hit central and eastern Nebraskans of late.

The photos you are (finally) seeing on the national news are of the town where I spent my formative years, and the communities nearby. Last I heard, one could literally not get into Columbus.

One of my cousins, who has a small business in Fremont but lives a few miles away in West Point was appealing to Facebook friends for advice on how to get into Fremont to check on her business. The answer — at least a day or so ago — was to forget about it; it was a no-go.

The photos and videos are horrifying. A lot of the town where I lived is literally under water. And it’s only one of many communities facing the same situation. People have lost their homes and their businesses. Farmers’ fields are under water and any seeds they’ve planted are destroyed.

But the biggest takeaway from this whole situation — at least for me — is how Nebraskans and other midwesterners aren’t whining and crying and waiting for help. They are helping each other. They are evacuating their friends and neighbors and total strangers. They are feeding first responders. They are providing moral support and praying and rescuing animals and comforting others.

Because that’s what Nebraskans do.

I became familiar with what was happening on Thursday via Facebook. By Friday, my sister Jen hadn’t heard a word about it on the national news, whose reporters are still trying to figure where Nebraska is located on the map. Facebook — which often gets a much-deserved bad rap — provided a lifeline to many people trying to find out what was going on in the vacuum that was the national media for several days.

Here is a photo that has gone viral on Facebook. The photo of a man named Craig Sorensen and his scared and shivering pooch Ollie was taken by his wife Julie Sorensen. The photo perfectly captures the sadness and confusion facing thousands of people.

Here is a link to a story about the photo and about the people facing a difficult future with grace.


Stay Awake!

As author Judith Viorst might say, I’m having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Lent. I gave up sweets, and I pretty much eat something sweet every day. I vowed to say a daily rosary. Yep, that’s pretty much hit or miss. I read my daily Lenten email faithfully, but if you asked me to tell you what I read by nightfall, I would likely be unable to do so. In fact, I’m pretty much like St. Peter, only he ended up being a fervent servant of God, and I’m so sure how I’ll end my days on earth.

St. Peter is pretty much my guide for Lent, and really for my entire spiritual life. Frankly, he was just a goofball. He fell asleep when he shouldn’t. He was unfaithful. It’s true, he did do right by his mother-in-law. I think I did too, so there’s that.

This weekend’s gospel was the story of the Transfiguration. I never quite got the Transfiguration. I mean, I know that Jesus’ usually-drab robes turned dazzling white, as if they had been washed with Tide if you are to believe the commercials. But what was God’s purpose for that particular event? Why did Moses and Elijah come visit Jesus as opposed to, say, Abraham and Isaiah, and what were they talking about? How come Peter, James, and John fell asleep instead of praying with Jesus? At least they won’t do that when Jesus is praying prior to his crucifixion. Right?

And then, when they woke up and saw what was happening, Peter wanted to put up three tents. The gospel tells us that God intervened and said from the clouds, “This is my chosen Son. Listen to him.” However, I think what God might have wanted to say was, “Peter, for the love of, well, Me, what are you thinking? My beloved Son, a heavy hitter in the Jewish world, and a popular prophet are standing before you, and your idea is to  build three tents? What are you, an Eagle Scout?”

Well, God is probably a lot more patient than me, and Jesus certainly is. The gospel says that after God spoke, everything went back to normal. I’ll bet, however, Jesus was giving Peter one of those looks like I used to give Court when he was being wiggly in church.

But I identify with Peter because though he reminds me of Gilligan of Gilligan’s Island fame, he has a good heart and great intentions. So do I. I’ll bet if Peter gave up hummus for Lent, he would fail just like me and my apparent inability to give up Golden Spoon frozen yogurt with hot fudge and Heath Bar chips. Quite frankly, I probably couldn’t give up hummus either. I love hummus.

By the way, when I posed questions about the point of the Transfiguration, I’m not like the REAL spiritual bloggers who would provide an answer or at least some things to think about. Instead, I really am wondering what it meant and why it happened. It’s one of the first things I’m going to ask God if/when I get to heaven. That, and why he let the Patriots win so many Super Bowls.

Saturday Smile: Will it Fit?

I caved. I bought an Apple Watch. I swore I wouldn’t but my inexpensive (no, cheap) Timex stopped ticking. Why buy a $40 watch when you can spend hundreds and never have to spend a second away from technology? Well, maybe in the shower.

Anyway, the box was delivered yesterday morning, and when I spotted it on my porch, I was surprised. Really? This is the size box that Amazon felt was appropriate for a watch. Just a watch…..

I will admit to laughing out loud when I saw it.

By the way, my watch telling me to “get moving” every hour or so might get on my last nerve.

Have a great weekend.