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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Spring Cleaning for the Heart and Soul


風鈴 Wind chimes, display in street in front of ...

風鈴 Wind chimes, display in street in front of shop, Nagano, Japan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For me Winter is a time to pull back from outside activity. With traditional holidays behind me, shopping, decorating, rounds of parties and eating, January is welcomed and  I settle into a semi hibernation.  I do it well and could probably give bears some instruction on the art of hibernation.

At first it’s so great. Snuggling down into the couch, under the old crocheted blanket, steaming coffee resting on the end table at my side, cooking casseroles and hearty soups, this urban minded woman turns her suburban home into a cabin in the woods.
My cabin in the woods has HD TV and Internet.  All the creature comforts one could ask for.  Yes, I keep in touch with the outside world, but as the weeks go by my own company, opinions, and eccentricities become the norm. To some extent, this is ok.  But eventually without the stimulation of face to face friends and real-time adventures I become static and stale.  I long for Spring.

To remove that Houseatosis from my surroundings I wait for that first fifty degree day in order to turn down the heat, and throw open the windows, even for just a little while.  I want that promising  fresh wind to blow through the house and bring with it the promise of a new season.  It’s a joy to see the curtains sway and the wind chimes sing with each breeze.  It awakens me.

Just as I revel in the annual Spring ritual of cleaning up and out, the act reminds me to remove the cobwebs from my mind.  Seek out the dusky corners for petty grudges and dated ideas.  Review all the habits I developed during the long winter and toss away those that do not work in advancing the betterment of my life and loves.  Its time to reestablish those connections with all the people I call friends.  Stop waiting for a phone call and punch in their numbers on my own cell.

As I turn up my face to catch the March sun I feel not only the warmth, but the exuberance it bathes me in.  I want to greet the Spring with a smile and a bounce in my step.  I want to write, sing and do the Harlem Shake.  It really is time for rebirth of my Heart and Soul.

I need to wrap this up now and get about the elation of Spring Cleaning.

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Posted by on March 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Living Up To My Potential


Dream girl

Dream girl (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

You hear the phrase, “Living up to your potential”, all the time from teachers.  They say it to their students and change it a bit when speaking to the parents of said students.  It’s an important alteration, “She is not working up to her potential”.  What does it mean?  She is not performing up to the standard that the teacher, instructor, boss, believes that she is capable of.  She can certainly do a lot better.  Perhaps, they seem to have made that student or employee a study.

I am well passed the stage that I am expected to perform up to anyone’s idea of what I can and cannot do.  Anyone but me that is.  I do have certain expectations of myself.  The difficulty is, I don’t know if I have set my standards too high or too low.  How does one judge what one’s current capabilities are?  What ruler do we use?

You surely can not compare to another person of your age and similar physical traits.  They are coming from a different time and place.  Perhaps they began their journey with a higher mental acuity, natural strength, inherited talent.  You can only be as good as you can be.  The heights you reach are determined by the limitations you came into this world with.  Is that true?  I don’t think so.

To use the old cliché, tell the bumble bee that he can’t fly because his wings are too small.  We are limited only by our own self-doubt.

So to get back to my dilemma, do I expect too little or too much of myself?  Do I change my life’s desires because of the length of my years?  Are hopes and dreams only for the young?  No way!!  I believe I will keep having those dreams and strive toward achieving them.  I am going to keep that bar very high and continue to get annoyed on the days I don’t achieve the height I have set for that day.  After all, I need to live up to my potential and that is, well …… the sky’s the limit.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Papal Conclave – More Than a Mystery


emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Fr...

emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Français : emblème pontifical Italiano: emblema del Papato Português: Emblema papal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Pope retiring has not been a consideration for more than six hundred years, yet it has happened in 2013. The huge amount of television coverage has captured the attention of the world, and closer to home, given me pause to evaluate how I feel about this, and my relationship with Catholicism.

I had long ago disengaged myself from the Catholic Church for many reasons, none of which had to do with the number of scandals highlighted in recent years. I separated from the church for personal reasons, not the least of them being Sunday morning laziness. Over the years my reasons and excuses grew because of genuine dissatisfaction with how things were run. It was never about the teachings of Jesus Christ or the believing in God, but often about the interpretation as defined by mortals.

Spirituality has always been a part of my life and I am a basically good person. Less good than some, more good than others. I would not believe you if you told me otherwise. At this moment in time, I am totally engrossed in the election of the newest Pope and the current events in Vatican City. I find I am loving the rituals and traditions of choosing a new Pope.

I feel invested in the decision and pray that this college of Cardinals get it right. The rumors surrounding the event are many and I have heard the mutterings that it should be a Pope for the modern world. Someone who is a good manager. Even someone who knows how to tweet. To me, these requirements are nice, but not so important.

While I doubt I will ever be a practicing Catholic once again, I know what and who would feed my spiritual needs. He would have to be someone who is truly good, who isn’t afraid to break with tradition, who recognizes that Women are essential in the teachings and running of the church, who could and should be Priests, and who might someday become Pope.

The new Pope should embrace the leaders of all faiths, agnostics and atheists as well. What good is someone who only has the strength to preach to the choir? He should take his staff and drive out from the leadership of the church the pedophiles, and the money changers, as did one good man before him. The new Pope needs to be a true Spiritual leader who rails out against injustice, teaches love and forgiveness, and is not politically involved. He needs to be someone who garners respect, not for his title, but for who he is – A Good and Holy Man.

I sincerely pray that Divine Intervention will visit the current Conclave and bestow upon the gathering there the wisdom and courage to install the right man. The World can surely use an explosion of Light and Hope.

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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A Warm Puppy


Considering the title of this blog it will be extremely difficult to keep it from becoming soppy and/or insipid.  I will do my best, but no promises.rocky

Just about one and a half years ago we realized it was time to let our beautiful, golden Pomeranian, Teddy, go to sleep for the final time.  He had given us eighteen years of joy and it was a difficult decision.

Jim and I determined that we would not bring another pet into our home.  We were now free to leave the house at a moment’s notice.  We could vacation and do it impulsively without finding someone to puppy sit.  So we purchased a new carpet (Teddy’s last year had done it some damage) and we settled into our new lifestyle.

Things went along fairly well for over a year and then we began to notice we were coveting other people’s pets.  We checked out all the dogs and cats on Facebook and didn’t fast forward through any television commercial featuring a puppy or adult dog.  The realization hit us like a banana cream pie smack in the face, we wanted a new puppy.

Teddy was perfect for us therefore we didn’t want another pom.  It would be unfair to the pup always being compared to our long-term companion.  But we did want small and small is what we got.  An adorable black and white ten week old chihuahua.

Rocky is now four months old.  We arranged our life around him, getting up early everyday to play with him and watch his antics.  He is fun and affectionate.  The grandkids love him to death.  Yes, the one year old carpet has been christened a few times, but take it from me, carpeting cannot compare to a warm puppy.

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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The Automat or I Love Mac and Cheese


 As my sophomore year at Immaculata High School wound to a close I was nicely asked to not return in the Fall.

Automat

Automat (Photo credit: rsfrd)

This did not come as a big surprise.  I had logged more days at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Staten Island Ferry than I did in a class room.  The last two years of my High School experience were done at Central Commercial, located on 42nd Street in Manhattan.  One of the first co-ed schools, it offered classes in business training.

One of the perks of this school was that it was nestled majestically between the News building on Second Avenue and Horn and Hardart‘s Automat on the corner of Third Avenue and 42nd Street.  For those of you who don’t remember automats, they were cafeteria style restaurants where the food was displayed behind small glass doors.  To purchase a sandwich or entrée you would put coins (yes I said coins) into the slot, which released the locked glass door, and you were able to remove your food.

My favorite was the macaroni and cheese.  They made it like nothing I had ever eaten.  My Italian Grandmother did all the cooking in our house and macaroni was either done with a red gravy or garlic and oil.  The automat’s mac and cheese was a creamy white concoction and ooh so delicious.

As time will, it flew by quickly from then until now, filled with all of life’s rites, pleasures and woes, but every once in a while I thought about that mac and cheese and the delight it brought.  I don’t really know if it was a culinary treat, or the memories surrounding that time in my life.

Over the years I made my own macaroni and cheese but it was never the same, or even close to it.  I once purchased a Horn and Hardart’s frozen entrée, but, nope, something was wrong.  I gave up hope.

Yesterday, the weather was terrible.  A good day to cook.  Out came the iPad to scan all kinds of recipes and suddenly the automat came to mind.  On a whim I looked up Horn and Hardart’s Macaroni and Cheese.  Much to my surprise and delight up came about ten links to it.  I haven’t made it yet, but you can bet I will.

Following I have put the recipe and history of the dish.  If and when you give it a try, please let me know what you think.

Horn & Hardart’s Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 2 or 3
Horn & Hardart was a Philadephia and New York restaurant chain that also had stores specializing in take-out. With the TV and radio advertising motto “Less work

for mother,” they actually pioneered the concept of prepared foods to eat at home. The restaurants were called Automats because, besides a cafeteria line,

they featured food behind tiny glass windows that was accessed by putting a few nickels in the slots. The last Automat — on Third Ave. and 42nd St

. — closed only about 10 years ago. It’s now a GAP. But New Yorkers and Philadephians old enough to have experienced Horn & Hardart have deep

nostalgia for many of its specialties. The mac and cheese is probably prime among them.

1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
11/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons light cream (see note)
1 packed cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup crushed tomatoes (I used Pomi, you can use any canned product)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Dash cayenne pepper

(I used several dashes)

Dash white pepper
1/2 pound small elbow

macaroni, cooked until

barely done

    1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter   over low heat, blend in flour and cook about 2 minutes.2. Beat in the milk, then the cream and

cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes   to the boil and thickens. Remove from heat.

3. Stir in the cheese until melted, then   the crushed tomatoes, sugar and two peppers.

4. Stir in the macaroni.

5. Pour into a shallow, buttered baking   dish and bake in a preheated 400-degree oven until the surface browns,   25 to 30 minutes.

NOTE: This recipe   must have been broken down from one that made an enormous quantity,   which explains the small amount of light cream.

If you don’t want   to purchase a half-pint container of light cream just for two tablespoons,   simply add two tablespoons more milk.

You’ll never know the difference.   I also think it needs a little salt, which is not called for in   the recipe.

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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