Looking Healed

Calmkate posed the following question on her Fun Friday post: “What heals you, brings you back into balance, makes you feel whole and wholesome? Share what repairs your tears, your scars, heals your wounds in photos or creative writing, delve deep to help others!”

To answer Kate’s question I give you this little poem chalk full of alliteration. (because alliteration is too much fun):

When I’m bruised and broken
Buried in bitterness beneath
Burdens too big to bear alone
I pray
When I catch catastrophe
Coming through the chimney
Causing a commotion and confusion
I pray
When I doubt my destiny
And death drums on my door
Destroys dreams and dignity
I pray
When I’m frustrated by failure
And fatigue fans the flames
Of folded friendships that fled
I pray
When I’m gulping gratitude
Greeted with gentle goodness
Am given greatness and grandeur
I pray
For healing and wholeness
Are not ill gotten gains
Fortunes only for the fortunate
Who dodge destruction
By casting cripples and children
As burnt offerings to appease
Their little gods’ little egos
I pray and am restored
Because my God loves
Me individually.

Looking to Perfect the Cachapas

During the height of the shutdown (not that we were shut down near long enough to make a difference), we were getting hungry for some restaurant food. Specifically we wanted some cachapas from Caracas Bistro. This is a Venezuelan restaurant that we really enjoy. But they were not open at all. This caused some serious distress as we were very afraid that they would be permanently closed. With that fear of losing my source for cachapas, I launched an inquiry for making my own. Well, I don’t have any photos. They tasted really good but were not very pretty. I decided to make another attempt. Having learned from my mistakes, and having researching a few other recipes, I was ready to try again.

The first recipe I tried resulted in very runny batter that was impossible to turn over. All the cachapas fell apart and were a mess. A tasty mess, but still not what I was hoping for. That recipe required 2 c. corn, 2 T. corn flour, 2 T. sugar, 1/4 c. milk, 1/2 t. salt, 1 egg, 2 T. melted butter that was dumped into a blender and chopped until it was mixed and semi-smooth. The batter was refrigerated for 20 min. and then poured into a skillet just like a pancake. The batter was too thin and wanted to burn prior to getting firm enough to flip. 😦

The second recipe is better!
4 cups corn (using frozen but if you use canned you must rinse and drain until dry)
2 eggs
1/2 c. corn flour
1/2 t. salt
2 T. bacon grease, rendered chicken fat or butter
The recipe suggested a food processor instead of a blender so that there are corn chunks instead of a smooth puree. Well, I don’t have a food processor so I used my blender on chop.  I mixed all the ingredients together. The batter will be thick.
Place a teaspoon of oil in the skillet on medium-low heat. The temp should not be too hot or it will cook too fast causing the cachapa to burn before it is set enough to turn. Place some batter into the skillet and smooth it out to a uniform thickness and shape.

Be very patient and allow the cachapa to cook undisturbed for 5 whole minutes. Yes 5 minutes! After 5 minutes the top will be a little dryer with bubbles (just like pancakes). Flip it over and cook about 3 min. The cachapa will be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

The filling consists of queso blanco or mozzarella cut into wheels, shredded chicken, beef or pork, Gouda cheese, and shredded mozzarella for the top. Place the cachapa on a plate and arrange a couple slices of mozzarella cheese on one half.

On top of the cheese place the shredded meat. Cover the meat with a slice of Gouda cheese.

Carefully fold the cachapa in half. It may be necessary to use the spatula to assist in the folding.

Once folded, sprinkle the shredded mozzarella on the top. And if you want to be really fancy you can make or buy a cheese sauce to drizzle over the top. It is basically a sour cream and cream cheese blend that is heated and then poured very sparingly over the top of the cachapa. (I wasn’t being that fancy.) Microwave for 13 seconds to melt the cheese. Serve hot!

There are a few hints – to season the meat you can use salsa or a taco seasoning if you want it spicy but it isn’t usually spiced. The mozzarella should be the fresh, soft type as it tastes more authentic…

Looking at Small Joys

I have been tagged for another blogging “list”. These awards/surveys/polls/goofy lists all remind me of the heyday of Xanga where we shared our answers and got to know one another one list at a time. There wasn’t any paranoia hanging thick in the air. We were not overly concerned that some evil entity would use our answers to access our bank accounts. With that in mind I’m going to give you my list of 15 things that bring me joy. Be aware, these answers will not get you access to my private data but they may give you some insights into who I am!

First there are always rules. The official Rules and Regulations of this Tag are as follows:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you. Cherie White tagged me to make this list and I want to sincerely thank her for making me remember the fun of blogging.
2. List fifteen of your small joys.
3. Tag five other blogger friends who bring you joy.

So to start it off here are the 15 small things that bring me joy:

The little things that bring me joys
Are smiles and laughs of little boys
The sound of rain soft and mild
The rush of wind free and wild
The feel of petals just like silk
The taste of ice cold frothy milk
My heart leaps for joy when I hold
A purring kitten or mouse that’s bold
When sun beams pierce a dark gray cloud
And jokes and puns with laughs so loud
With joy I sip hot cocoa from a mug
Or run my toes through a thick pile rug
The sound of dry crisp leaves as I walk
And the fun of  late night girls’ talk
The beauty of butterfly wings
The sound of my mother’s voice when she sings
Frogs and cicadas in chorus nightly
And poetry among all others rightly!

I’m supposed to tag 5 more bloggers whose posts bring me joy. However I’m going to just say that I can’t quite decide on just 5 as you all bring me joy at one time or another. If you want to play along then consider yourselves tagged otherwise I’d love to know if any of my joys are your joys too!

Looking Special

Big thanks to Cupcakecache for nominating me for this award. I have been fascinated reading about her escapades teaching in Korea along with the every day slices of life she posts on her blog.

Of course there are rules and I’m a rule follower (most of the time).
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Answer the questions you are asked (but only if you’re comfortable doing so!)
3. Create 10 questions for the bloggers you’ve nominated.
4. Nominate at least 3 bloggers for the Special Blogger Award.
5. Comment on your nominees most recent blog post to let them know you’ve nominated.
6. Have fun!

Here are my answers to the questions Cupcakecache posed:
1. If you were a cat with another life, where would you be sitting right now? Curled up in my mother’s lap.
2. What is your favorite song in times of challenge? Tubthumping by Chumbawumba. This one got me through some pretty tough times at work.
3. In one sentence, tell us about a time you enjoyed being proven wrong. I was aiming to deliver 50mg, figured I had only given 45 but the scale said I was spot on at 50.00 mg exactly!
4. What is your favorite mode of transportation? Teleportation. It only happens in my dreams or when immersed in a really good story. But when it does – wow!
5. What is your comfort food? Potatoes – mashed, baked, potato latkes, potato kugel…
6. Which is your favorite social media app to use? I only really use WP. I have accounts for FB and Instagram but rarely if ever post on them. They are mostly to keep tabs on relatives far away.
7. If you could name yourself, what name would you chose and why? When I was about 9 I thought that I wanted to change my name to Simone – because it sounded exotic to me. I’ve since outgrown that idea. I did pick my name for Confirmation. I chose Vincent because this saint vowed to serve the poor and made good on it.
8. What news did you hear recently that surprised you? I was pleasantly surprised that Joe Biden selected Kamala Harris to be his VP running mate. A smart choice and a ticket I can get behind!
9. How often do you walk in your neighborhood? At least 2 – 3 time a week. I was walking every evening but now that I’m back to work for a few months (big projects) I’ve easily gotten all my steps in!
10. Are there any writers who influence the writing of your blog? From Xanga I was influenced by Saadia Ali Aschemann to begin writing poetry again. She encouraged me when I was too timid to try. I’ve been influenced by her mother Zakiah Ali as well as she writes wonderful and heart grabbing posts filled with poetry and flowers and all sorts of interesting stuff! On Xanga I tried to write to their standards. I was also influenced by my friend saintvi. She wrote the most clever and funny posts. If only I could get her to write more often on WP!

Now I have questions. These may be odd but I’m sure that inquiring minds want to know:
1. What size shoe do you wear and have you ever crammed your toes into a smaller size, because, you know fashion?
2. What was your most harrowing dental experience?
3. How did you get your latest scar?
4. What was the thing/event that most recently made you laugh out loud (this may have included crying and snorting)?
5. How many cars have you totaled and did any of them result in an ambulance ride?
6. What is your favorite dog breed and why?
7. Name 3 foods that will never ever in a million years pass your lips.
8. You are in charge of developing a new ice cream flavor – what is it called and what is in it?
9. You are a garden/lawn implement – what are you and why?
10. You can have only one candy for the next 2 years – what candy do you choose for yourself and what do you choose for me?

My nominations for the Special Blogger Award:
Judy of judyrutrider because she is a lot of fun.
Mike of theearthspins because I don’t want him to feel left out.
Kimberlee of anotetohuguette because she writes lovely posts.

Looking at the Sunshine Blogger Award

A big thank-you to Cherie White at https://cheriewhite.blog/  for nominating me for this blogging award. Cherie blogs about bullies with a keen insight into how they manipulate their victims and also what makes them tick. It is an interesting and illuminating blog that sheds light on the dark side of  life with a bully. As someone who has been bullied in the workplace, I often find myself agreeing and commiserating on the experiences she discusses.

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are creative, positive and inspiring while spreading sunshine to the blogging community. Now, how does it work and what are the rules?
Thank the blogger who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog. (check)
Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you. (check)
Nominate 11 new blog to receive the award and write them 11 new questions. (check)
List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog. (check)

Here are the questions Cherie posed to me: (I’ll answer them “to the best of my recollection”)
1. How did you get started blogging? I started blogging on Xanga in 2007 as a means to keep in touch with my younger sister and her family and with my mother who she roped into starting a blog.
2. How long have you had your blog? I had to switch to WordPress when Xanga finally bit the dust though there are still few friends who still use that platform. I would be there if they hadn’t made it nearly impossible to pay for my subscription. So all together 13 years – 3 on WP and 10 on Xanga.
3. Are you an animal lover? Hehe! You might say that. As a Registered Veterinary Technician/Veterinary Nurse I have worked with most species of animals. I’ve owned lots of regular pets along with some more “exotic” ones.
4.Dog or cat? I like both. I’m a little partial to cats. But truth be told I prefer rats and mice to cats and dogs. If I could be an animal I’d opt for something that could fly – probably a bat (a flying mouse)!
5. Stephen King or Dean Koontz? Neither? I’m not a big fan of the horror genre. I much prefer a solid Fantasy/SciFi book. It relates to my overactive imagination which fed horror stories makes my dreams into nightmares.
6. Have you written and published a book? Yes. I have a book to my name, though no one on WP has ever read it and I doubt anyone would be interested. The title is “The Laboratory Rabbit” (second addition) I not only wrote half the chapters, I did all the illustrations and took most of the photos! I also did the illustrations for the book “The laboratory Mouse”, again a teaching/reference text that is a very niche market.
7. What would be your favorite vacation spot, the mountains, or the beach? Neither. I’d prefer a geotrail through Ohio or Michigan or even Pennsylvania!
8. Where would you like to retire to? I’ve already retired to it. That is, my current location in Indiana. It is perfect. It is warm in the summer and cold enough in the winter to kill all the bugs. Spring and Fall are beautiful. But best of all – the extended family is right here!
9. What is your dream car? Hmm. This is a tough one. I love the Tesla except there are only 3 charging stations in my area. I also like the Toyota Prius. Since I already drive a Prius C, I’m pretty sure I’d love the slightly larger and fancier Prius!
10. What do you think is the best blog post you’ve ever written? That is a really hard question. I’ve written so many! I have been writing on WP since 2017 and have written 543 posts so far. I was on Xanga for 10 years and wrote 3159 posts. Considering all that according to WP stats my most viewed post was July 29, 2019 but I don’t think that was my best… I’d say Looking in the Window on June 8 of this year – maybe…
11. Music or TV shows? Hmm. How about books with music playing in the background. I remember reading Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy to Dvořák’s  Symphony No. 9 “From the New World”. It was really a great combination! I had the LP and had it on repeat. I nearly wore that record out!

So next are my questions – hold onto your hats!
1. What famous actor/actress would play you in a movie about your life?
2. If you could change your name, what name would you choose?
3. What event in your life would you like to “do over”?
4. If you had a prehensile tail would you keep it or have it amputated?
5. You have just stepped into a time machine, what year in history would you visit and why?
6. What is your favorite comfort food?
7. You can change your eye color (any color(s) at all), what would you choose?
8. You have been granted 3 wishes, what do you wish for? (more wishes is not permitted)
9. Your pet can talk, what do you think they’d say about you?
10. How old were you when you got your “first kiss”?
11. (last but not least) Which would you rather be able to do – tap dance, juggle, or ice skate like an Olympic athlete?

As for nominations, I don’t want to pressure anyone. I would however love to see some of your answers, especially:
p.s. I will not be offended if you don’t want to play along. Life is too short and I’m having too much fun for that kind of nonsense!

Looking Disconnected

I have had an ongoing issue with internet connectivity. I thought at first that it was our modem or router. I was wrong. The internet provider (THE internet provider that has a near monopoly on internet service in my area) is I suspect limiting data. I have come to that conclusion after multiple times having my connection dropped/cut/shut down while Sparky is watching Netflix. I was watching Netflix and Sparky was online at his computer (a mere 2 feet away) when he was kicked off. He was a wee bit peeved (I grossly understate his reaction). This is when we started investigating. Seems that there are several neighbors who have experienced the same thing. Sparky called the service “hotline” which was less than helpful (understatement). In the fine print on a bill a couple months ago they mentioned that if we wanted “faster internet” we should sign up for a more expensive plan. I get that they want to make money. However they didn’t mention that “faster” meant that they were going to slow down and limit the existing plans.

I have to have internet. Well, not really. I do a lot on-line and with the physical distancing it has become an essential means of interaction with the world. I enjoy my online friends. Even if I am busy I like to touch base at least once a day. With a spotty connection that becomes difficult and frustrating. It is also necessary as I must enter my hours worked through an online portal. I want to be paid! It took me nearly 7 hours to enter my time as I kept getting booted just as I was ready to hit the Submit button. This made me angry, angry enough that I’ve been researching the alternatives. So far there just aren’t any feasible alternatives. Perhaps I need to take my laptop and sit in McDonald’s parking lot… And I would too if it weren’t so blazing hot outside!

Looking at the Tides

We were discussing memories of swim lessons with the extended and distanced family on a Sunday as we gathered and consumed individually packaged frozen treats. Some of Sparky’s family never learned to swim while others are natural fish. I personally never achieved swimming proficiency. Every summer my mother signed us up for lessons at the community pool. I finally grew/aged out of the baby pool and was placed in the 3′ deep area. It terrified me since I was only an inch taller than the water was deep. I spent a lot of time hanging onto the edge gasping for breath. In HS I got a B in swimming class but that was because I tried very hard and despite sinking like a rock, never gave up. Sparky took swim lessons too but was much more successful.

We were always sailors
Riding on briny waves
Rocked in the deep dark
Of our mother’s wombs
Suddenly marooned
Still drenched and damp
We search for sea water
Fearlessly wade into oceans
Beg the riptide to take us
Rock us to eternal sleep
Betrayed by the salinity
Rocked on the ebb and flow
We float

Looking Painted

We have lived in this house since February 1990. Although we’ve updated the interior, there hasn’t been much outside maintenance necessary. The house has aluminum siding and wooden shutters. We did replace the windows and repainted the trim about 10 years ago. However it is now time to repaint the house. A little perspective on the prospect of painting.

When we bought our first home it needed to be insulated so they drilled holes in the wooden clapboard siding and blew in the insulation. Then they plugged the holes, sealed them and slapped some paint over the top. The house looked like it has measles. We bought the house for $32,000 and when we got estimates for painting they ranged from $10,000 to $15,000! We almost had apoplexy! We ended up finding an independent contractor to do it for a mere pittance of $5,500. The house was painted and looked wonderful. Fast forward from 1984 to 2020. We decided to have this house painted. We called for an estimate from the “Student Painters”. *sigh* We waited for 3 weeks for them to come out to see the house. We called again and were given an actual appointment time for the estimate. On the appointed day we waited. They called and said that they would be by at ~1:00 pm. They came. They left. They gave us an estimate – $4,550. But that was without painting the shutters or window trim. The updated estimate was more. Sparky wanted to get a second estimate. I wanted to get the house painted.

The second company promptly sent out a young man to give us an estimate. He was professional, efficient, and pleasant. The estimate for the house is $5,091 and includes the trim, soffits and shutters. They have a 2 year guarantee and all their workers are covered under workman’s compensation. There is no danger that we’ll have to file any personal injury claims with our home owner’s insurance. They also pre-power wash the house to make sure the paint goes on smoothly and doesn’t invalidate the paint warranty. I would have thought the price would have been much more allowing for inflation. Not that I’m complaining!

Because of the rainy weather we had to wait for the painting to start. The power washing has been done with only a few casualties – there was a wasps’ nest that was demolished (small moment of panic and some shouting) and a couple of birds that had decided to go into the covered gutters for a snack that got a little soaked (they were “madder than a wet hen”).  Anyway the house is being repainted in the same colors it currently wears. The young man came out and did a neat little trick and paint matched the colors we currently have. According to his little devise, our previous butterscotch will be painted “soft fawn” with the former magma trim redone in “peppercorn”. At least we won’t have any issues with the HOA since the colors are exactly same as the original! Despite numerous delays the painting is completed. They got the front of the house done (because it faces the sun and was dry). We had to rescheduled the back and north side twice due to moisture. They worked on the trim instead and had to tape it off. I took a couple before and after photos but honestly it looks exactly the same. So much so that I wasn’t sure which was which and had to look at the time stamp to tell… so no photos.

The only things left to do are the trim around the garage door and the front bay window. We are supposed to get a new garage door so we didn’t want to paint the trim. The money pit continues to siphon cash from our pockets!

Looking at a Conversation

I’ve had a couple of different interactions lately. One in particular has stuck in my head. I was at the store doing my weekly grocery run. I go very early in the morning to avoid the COVIDiots. There are a large percentage of older, more medically fragile persons shopping and we are all wearing masks. Anyway a woman in a mobility scooter was attempting to lift a watermelon into the basket. I noticed that she was really struggling so I offered to help her. At first she waved me away saying that she didn’t need my help. Her tone was one of frustration and a little exasperation. As her legs were shaking and her grip on the melon was slipping, I walked over and helped her lift. I didn’t say anything and I didn’t stand too close. As I walked back to my shopping cart, I smiled at her. Even with the mask she could tell. Before I took more than 2 steps she started thanking me. She had tears in her eyes. She told me that her husband had passed just before the pandemic struck and that she was having a difficult time driving but didn’t have a choice since there was no one to drive her where she needed to go (and she was afraid to use Uber or Lyft or a regular taxi). She told me that she has a hard time asking for help and that she was going to have to “get over it”. As we parted her scooter died. That was the last straw. She sat there and just cried. I was able to get the people in the bakery to get her another scooter with a full charge and a young man drove it over to her. I switched her groceries into the new one. She was able to slide into the seat and pull away. The willingness of everyone to help her seemed to restore a little something inside that was broken. As she moved away I waved and I could see that she was smiling.

I’m reminded of a song that we learned in music class way back in 7th grade, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me…”

Internal landscape
Manifest joy, hope, and love
Give the world a hug

Looking Flagged

She was standing on the shoulder of the road. The gravel was littered with bits of broken glass and cigarette butts. She kept her eyes cast down to protect them from the glare of the sun. At the sound of approaching tires she’d look up and wave to flag down the passing motorist. She’d already walked 10 miles and her feet were sore. They were so sore that her will to continue was slipping away along with her flagging spirit. There was not a sound to be heard but her quiet breathing. She had to keep reminding herself that the quiet would make it easier to hear an approaching vehicle. She shuffled a few more feet, paused to listen, and took a couple more steps. The limestone cut that the highway made through the hills laid bare the history of the earth. There were wet spots on the rocks where the water was seeping. She leaned against the rock and felt the coolness on her back. She could see the clean lines where the rocks would separate with only a single blow. The memory of the flag stones stacked as a border around the garden rose up in her mind, a red flag warning her that there was danger in that reminiscence. With a start, she heard tires humming on the pavement. She spun to face the oncoming vehicle, a truck waving a large Confederate flag in the truck bed. She hesitated but did her best to flag down a ride. The truck slowed, stopped, and slowly backed up to come even with her. The man behind the wheel looked her over and leaning toward the open window spat a stream of tobacco juice hitting her square on the chest. He gave her a cocky grin showing his yellow stained and rotting teeth, before spinning his tires and speeding away. She did her best to wipe away the spittle but it had soaked into the fabric making a nasty stain on her shirt. As the day ebbed away, she walked away from the road and into the brush along the fence line. This gave way to a lightly wooded area just over a rise. Stepping into the trees she startled a couple of deer. They scattered flashing white flags to warn all the others of the danger approaching. Finding a tree wide enough to lean against, she lowered her body to the ground. She did it slowly, the way you lowered the flag at the end of the day. Folding her body into a compact triangle she resembled nothing more that a folded flag presented to a widow at a military burial – a white shirt, blue shorts, and a red bandanna tying up her hair. That’s how they found her, folded against the tree. The sheriff’s deputy pushed little flags into the ground to mark the positions of the shell casings. They loaded her onto a gurney and covered her with a white sheet, ironic because she had never surrendered and waved the white flag…

This is my little contribution to Calmkate’s Friday Fun – where she asks “get creative about what ‘flag’ mean to you post and add a link back”.

I live in Indiana and our state flag has gold elements on a blue field.
The meaning behind the elements are simple and straightforward: the torch represents liberty and enlightenment; the 13 outer stars represent the original 13 colonies; the inner five stars represent the 14th through 18th states. The largest star above the torch represents, the 19th state, Indiana. – Historic Indiana