Looking to Consume

Everyone’s selling, it’s understood
That a profit margin is deemed good
A desirable product at reasonable cost
Flood the market and all is lost
We create demand by choking supply
Advertise it so people will buy
They line up to purchase the few in stock
When they run out the doors they’ll lock
A hew and a cry and a riot or two
For a must have item I’ll eschew
Wait until supply exceeds demand
Then buy on sale or an off brand

For me it was the Cabbage Patch Kids that were the hot item that caused people to lose their minds. That was the first product that entered my vision as a strange fad and dangerous consumer anarchy. I was married that year and fortunately had no interest in that doll. People were trampled. People would camp out so that they could be the first inside when the doors were finally unlocked. The consumer became unhinged. Several years later it was Tickle Me Elmo, then the Furby and then Beanie Babies. I was at the Goodwill and happened to stroll down the toy aisle. They had a big bin filled with former must have Barbie® dolls. Their hair was a mess and most had lost their clothes. These were toys that had been played with and had been out grown and were now waiting for a new child.
    Spied at Goodwill
This brings me back to Cabbage Patch Kids. I remember a woman at the clinic I worked at, who clawed her way to one of the dolls, managed to purchase it, and get to the safety of her car. She ended up with a black eye. But she was so happy to have scored one of those dolls. She didn’t have any kids. She wanted it for herself – as a “collectable” and as an investment. Every once in awhile I see one at a garage sale. Some are filthy and look like they’ve been dragged to hell and back. Others are pristine, still in the original box. I just shake my head and think – nah, not worth it.

Looking at Familiar Foods

Son#2 was locked in his house awaiting results from his COVID-19 test. He had been exposed at work by a coworker. So while he was stuck at home he sent a message to us: “Can you go pick-up food if I call it in? I need nutrients.” I had just put dinner in the oven and suggested we could drop off a plate. It just so happened the be a favorite meal that I hadn’t made in a long time. His response was “YES! Tasty food!”

   

This is my Cranberry Turkey Loaf
1/2 can whole cranberry sauce
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 lbs ground turkey
2 eggs
2 T. catsup
3/4 c. cracker crumbs (I use Wheat Thins Tomato Basil flavor)
2 T. dehydrated diced onion
2 t. Italian seasonings
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. onion powder
3 T. dried parsley
1/4 t. dried basil

Place the brown sugar in the bottom of a glass loaf pan. Place the cranberry sauce over the sugar in an even layer. Mix the remaining ingredients and carefully spoon into the loaf pan trying not to push the cranberry sauce into an uneven layer. Place the loaf pan on a cookie sheet to catch any boil over. Bake 50 minutes at 350 degrees F. When done, allow the loaf to stand until the liquid stops boiling. Then invert onto a platter to serve.

Comfort in the familiar smells
A cloying sweetness blooms and swells
From the kitchen bananas over ripe
A boiling kettle of cut up tripe
Each culture has its foods
And every childhood includes
Mother’s recipes that signal home
We carry with us where ere we roam
For some its pasta or stir-fry with curry
Others remember PB&J made in a hurry
That comfort food that makes us calm
Or when sick is a healing balm
No matter age or state in life
We recall home with fork and knife

Looking for Lilacs

What the lilac lacks in longevity
Its beauty makes up with brevity
The fragrance is sweet as heaven
But gone by the month we call seven
The lavender flowers in profusion
Throw my memory into confusion
I recall my grandmother’s vase
Displayed on the table a show case
All purple hues spilling over the edge
The result of trimming the lilac hedge
The delicate flowers fade far too fast
Until they are spent at last
Plucked from the water and tossed
My memory ever fresh is not lost
And with a deep breath I can recall
Each lilac made of flowers so small
My grandmother whistling a bird song
Trying to teach me to whistle along

My father’s mother was a small woman. She loved to whistle. She could imitate birds, tunes from the radio, and even classical compositions. For several summers I would visit for a week or so and she would try to teach me to whistle. She would encourage me as I practiced even though I didn’t make much progress. I still can’t make anything more than a faint, moist, hiss.

She lived in apartments most of her life but I recall a house they rented when I was in second grade. That summer we visited and there were lilacs. Her favorite color was purple and it is no surprise that the lilac was her favorite flower (beating out the violet due to the wonderful scent). When I went into the house there were vases of lilacs everywhere! I went into her bedroom and her curtains and bedspread were decorated in a lilac print.

Many years later, when she had a stroke and was dying in a hospital bed, I sat in the waiting area with one of her old friends. We sat and talked about his garden. He knew about her love of lilacs. He told me that he had intended to bring her some but had forgotten when he got the call that she was in the hospital. He went home and cut an armful of blooms. I took them back to her apartment and put them in a vase on the table. It was his gift to her and without knowing a gift to me.

I’m a practical person and rarely if ever purchase cut flowers. I’d much rather plant something that will bloom. But the memory of those lilacs still haunts me in both a sad and happy way. We planted two lilac bushes in the back yard. They’ve never really grown and I don’t think they have bloomed more than twice in the last 20 years. Maybe this will be the year.

post-script: Sparky mentioned casually that he smelled lilacs and lo and behold there were a couple (somewhat anemic) blooms…

Looking at Lies and the Lying Liars that Tell Them*

I love the internet for many reasons and I hate it for just as many. For some reason people have lost the ability to do research and form their own opinions. And to top it off, we as a nation have lost the ability to accept anyone with a different opinion. The level of acrimony surrounding this election cycle coupled with the nastiness that is accompanying the coronavirus has made social isolation much easier to handle. The internet is now the home for anyone with an opinion (that may or may not be based on fact or sound observations) to scream at the top of their lungs. I’m assuming that they have latched onto the liars methodology of repeating a lie often enough that it becomes accepted as truth. Some individuals on the internet disguise their identities and have multiple accounts so that they can appear as a larger group and thus more credible. I’m sure you’ve all heard about business owners that send in multiple reviews (all 5 stars) to make their business look good or maybe better than it really is. I’m not an expert on lies and lying as I really try to avoid that trap. I’ve always felt that honesty is the best policy. There were many times at work that it was obvious that I was being deceived. I became astute in recognizing an untruth. The idea that there was personal integrity present in the workforce was foreign to some people and my modeling it became a beacon for better behavior among my coworkers. I like to think that that is part of my legacy.
* this is a take off on a book my mother enjoyed

This little rant (and I haven’t really let loose in a long time) is the result of the NPM Super Poetry Challenge #9 – Explore your feelings about deceit in a poem. So here is a little poem composed in rhyming couplets…

Do not tell lies my mother said
Deceit is a woven, tangled web
For every untruth that you tell
Is another step toward the door of hell
But what about the little one
To spare tender feelings spun?
Or the lie that isn’t so bad
That keeps others from getting mad?
Telling fibs is a sin of commission
But evading truth is a sin of omission
Damned if you do and damned if you don’t
My personal decision is that I just won’t!

Looking for Clarity

Day breaks and the veil is lifted
Into the darkness light is sifted
With rains the sky is cleansed
I see clearly through a new lens
From a cave I burst into bright day
The blindfold removed as I run away
Leaving behind sorrows and tears
New found courage replaces my fears
I run to the edge and leap for the sky
Confident that truly I can finally fly

There are moments in every life where in an instant you can see clearly. What we do with that truth is the measure of our heart and mind. I was driving to the university and all of a sudden I saw clearly the situation that had been hovering before me. With that clear vision I could also see the path that would lead me away from the confusion and uncertainty. It seemed so simple. However my frustration and even anger had obscured the solution. I was able to let go of all of the roadblocks and deal with problem efficiently.

I know you are all wondering what my problem was. Well, it related to my former work and the expectation by some that I was still responsible for certain tasks. I am now able to chuckle softly and respond with civility. And I’m retired and I don’t work for them and I’m not responsible for their problems… (shakes head and laughs hard in the privacy of my home).

Covid versus Corvid

There is no lull in the news concerning the coronavirus referred to as COVID-19 that emerged in the Wuhan area of China. It is spreading throughout the US at an alarming rate. When I left for my road trip there were cases in California, Washington, New York, and Florida. They were supposedly contained. There are now confirmed cases in nearly every state. Those states without confirmed cases just aren’t testing. The states are pretty much on their own since our government has not responded with any clarity or speed. Here in Indiana, the schools have closed and switched to all online learning, all gatherings are cancelled, even my ceramics class has been postponed. Currently there are a few places that continue to operate – Planet Fitness, most restaurants (but they urge you to do carry out). Even the Catholic Church has closed. The Bishop has declared that there will be no Sunday obligation and no public Mass for all of March. All church events have been called off – Feast of St. Joseph dinner, trivia night, youth group, all meetings (even AA), and the soup suppers. It is a scary time. Even so, I won’t lie. When I first saw the headlines proclaiming COVID-19 linked to hundreds of deaths in China, my though was “Dang it! The crows (Corvids) are being blamed again!” Of course they are not the culprits after all. That “R” makes all the difference. I’m relieved because I like crows. They are smart. They are problem solvers and even use tools. They are social and loyal (mating for life) and they believe in family. The knowledge of one generation is passed on to another. It includes what to be afraid of and who is a friend. They will even thank humans who feed them by leaving trinkets. For 27 years I walked into work at the same time every day. Most days the “Crow Boys” as I named them, would caw a greeting from their perches on the roof peaks as I walked to the building. There were three of them and they would fly down to look me over when I’d wear a different hat. They recognized my chipmunk, rabbit and bear hats. One summer I tossed some leftover potato chips into the trash barrel at the entrance to the parking lot. They went wild. For a couple weeks they would swoop down to sit on the fence and the barrel edge as I approached. Most of the time they would be disappointed and it would show in their attitudes and postures. But when I would toss anything edible in they were like kids on Christmas! That is the only part of working that I really miss…

Murder is in the air

Rise and fall of black confetti
Midwestern volcanic ash rains
Too big and black for cinders
Carried on currents chaff from grains

Observe sesame sprinkled clouds
I scan the sky at fading light
They sift earthward soot flakes
Swept away on windy winter night

Looking for a Doctor

National Poetry Month Challenge #11 is to “Channel your inner Doctor (Seuss, Who, Frankenstein, Doolittle, Zhivago, McCoy… your choice)”.

He had the wanderlust
Trod through African dust
Muddy swamp he tromped
East to West he stomped
To convert with missionary zeal
Baptizing for Christ to seal
All the dark tribes in Zambia
All the while sick with malaria
Rivers Congo, Orange and Zambezi
He mapped which wasn’t easy
Found the smoke that thunders
One of nature’s seven wonders
Thought to stem the slave trade
If he could in the Nile’s source wade
He traveled far and wide
In Chief Chitambo’s village died
He from London to Botswana roam
Servants Chuma and Suzi carried home
There remembered, a hero entomb
“Dr. Livingstone, I presume”

The life of Dr. David Livingstone is fascinating. He was a rags to riches man who worked in a mill from the age of 10 (14 hour days) and still found time to go to school. His thirst for knowledge drove him to enter medical school and also to become a missionary. He deplored the African slave trade. He believed that if he could find the source of the Nile River he could stop the enslavement of African peoples. He was not so much a hero as a tragic figure. He made bad decisions. He was an inept leader. He had 6 children (3 died) who didn’t know him because he was off exploring Africa. His wife died of malaria shortly after following him to Africa. He was unfunded and ended up relying on Arab slave traders to save him. Eventually he died in a remote village in the Kingdom of Kazembe (which is in the modern Northern Province of Zambia) of malaria and internal hemorrhage due to dysentery. But to his country of Britain he epitomized the bravery of the intrepid explorer blazing new trails across uncharted territories, the strength of character to speak out against a morally bankrupt practice of slavery, and the fearlessness of the Christian Missionary taking the Gospel to those he considered heathens and pagans in Africa.

I hope this was educational and maybe a little interesting…

Looking to Get Naked

The Michiana striptease begins
No one thinks of it as sins
First the scarf must go
Seeing as there’s no snow
Next you doff the hat
Fluff your hair mashed flat
Then the gloves each one
To work the coat undone
Shed the heavy boots
To spare the new green shoots
Toss the coat aside
Thin sweater doesn’t need to hide
Peel snow pants exposing tights
Winter no longer bites
Then the sweater is shed
Warmer temps ahead
With flair the skirt comes off
And you lose the cough
In leggings and a crop top
Search for the missing flip-flop
Take off these things for shorts
Or maybe colorful skorts
With arms and legs laid bare
Wearing little more than underwear
Dance wildly in the sun
With everything winter done!

For National Poetry Month Challenge #2 Write a poem about the changing seasons. Here is a little poem in rhyming couplets inspired by a couple of days where the mercury rose to dizzying heights (nearly 47 degrees), briefly. The students on campus nearly went insane. There were girls bare legged in mini skirts and sandals with enough cleavage showing to cause the boys to run into brick buildings. The guys were no better in their shorts and flip-flops. And not a single one was wearing a coat. I suspect that they will be disappointed when we get that final frigid blast of arctic air before Spring is able to finally wrest control from winter…

Looking for the Silver Lining

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray for slumber long and deep
If I find I’m wide awake
A sleeping pill I just might take
Twisted in my flannel sheets
Lulled by steady soft heart beats
Beckon dreams to fill my head
While I snuggle in the bed
Now I rise to take a pee
Stumble cause I’m so sleepy
Stub a toe and choke back tears
Curse hoping no one hears
Back in bed to find the spot
That’s warm but I find it not
Instead I stare into the dark
Listening to dogs that bark
Until a cramp forms in my leg
I gasp and pray and then I beg
To let it pass and give me rest
I want to sleep but I’m distressed
Insomnia has come to visit me
Sleep deprived is what I’ll be

I don’t often have insomnia but boy howdy when I do I really have it bad. This happens maybe once or twice a year. It is usually linked to high levels of stress. And so if I’m not sure I’m under pressure, I’ll get the not so subtle hint via insomnia that I’ve exceeded my stress tolerance. Why insomnia now? Hmm. Lets see if I can make a list (maybe if I give it an airing it will go away or at least be slightly tamed):
I have to work on Saturday (7:30 AM – 10:30 AM?).
I have to work on Christmas Eve (7:30 AM to when we get done – 1:30ish?).
I have to work on Christmas Day (again 7:30 AM – 10:30 AM?).
I haven’t packed for the vacation – leaving on the 26th.
I haven’t gotten the Christmas Day meal finalized (where there won’t be leftovers).
I have laundry that needs to be done.
I still have gifts to wrap.
I have to attend the traditional Christmas Eve Eve breakfast with friends (which is on Sunday but is going to be breakfast for lunch).
I need to arrange for mail and newspaper pick-up.
We have to visit with Sparky’s family for a Christmas celebration on Sunday afternoon and I need to bake a pie or two and make fruit salad….
We need to schedule the master bathroom remodel that hopefully will be done while we are out of town.
I have to plan out some Geocaches to find in Florida while we are there.
There are some more things – like picking up some prescriptions but I’m going to stop. I am yawning and my eyes are getting heavy so maybe I can go to sleep. And stay asleep. For more than 2 hours. Maybe. But because I’m kind I’ve scheduled this to post after 6 AM – hopefully I’ll be asleep when you read this…

Looking for Spring to Arrive – Someday

For the Looking Foolish Scavenger Hunt using prompt# 11 – sneeze, I present an initial rhyme poem. For initial rhymes, all the rhymes occur at the beginning of the sentence instead of at the end, as is more traditional. I made this a little harder in that I decided that I was going to add a monorhyme requirement for the initial rhyme. Then it seem of no consequence to add rhyming couplets at the end of the lines… Yes I’m a glutton for punishment!

Sneeze and a bless you can follow
Wheeze as asthma makes it hard to swallow
Tease when weather sets the stage
Please spring come but the winter winds rage
Freeze our hands, feet and nose
Seize our breath and chill the toes
Keys unlock warmth and blindly we grope
Squeeze from our hearts the last drop of hope
Ease the disappointment of fruit crop frosted
Trees sap reserve is completely exhausted
Knees hit rock hard ground in supplication
Guarantees unconfirmed at prayer’s cessation
Bees are seen to drink from a frozen flower
Degrees all that separate winter from spring’s power

We had snow in APRIL for pity’s sake. I’m pretty sure my daffodils are done for. (no blooms this year) I was keeping an eye on the fruit tree report (I have an inside source as her parents own an orchard) and it looks bad for the cherries. The apple trees hadn’t started to flower so that’s a blessing. So to recap: winter still has a hand on spring’s throat, the cold germs are making everyone sick, and the poor beleaguered bees and robins and fruit trees are struggling to endure this “spring”.