Author’s Thoughts

Chicken Broth Options

If you’re in need of chicken broth, here are two options for you:

In a 5- 6 quart slow cooker, combine the carcasses and skin from two 2 ½ pound purchased roasted chickens or 1/1/2 pounds chicken wings and backs; 4 large carrots, chopped, 1 onion coarsely chopped, 1 stalk celery with leaves, chopped; ½ cup loosely packed coarsely snipped fresh Italian parsley with stems; 3 sprigs fresh thyme; 3 cloves garlic, smashed; ½ teaspoon salt; and 10 whole black peppercorns. Add cold water, cover and cook on low for 12 hours. Strain broth through a large colander lined with damp cheesecloth; discard solids. Cover broth chill overnight. Before using, lift off lid and discard fat layer. Makes about 8 cups of broth.


While you’re at the store, instead of buying the two 2 ½ pound roasted chickens, the 4 carrots, the onion, the bunch of celery, the fresh Italian parsley, the sprigs of thyme, cloves of garlic, salt, peppercorns and the cheesecloth, go to the soup aisle and buy Swanson’s Chicken broth, 100% fat free $1.19 for a 14 oz. can! Voila!


Is It Human Nature?

Fox News says they got it wrong. They apologized this week to millions of viewers here and across the globe for inaccurate, prejudicial statements either they or their guests made in the wake of terrorist attacks in Eastern Europe. They reported that there were ‘no-go-zones’ in Europe where ‘Islamic law supersedes local law’ and they said ‘Birmingham, England is a totally Muslim city where non-Muslims don’t go…’ Further they stated that the ‘EU poll shows that 69% of Muslims in France support ISIS…’ an inaccurate comment designed to terrify all of Europe. Their reports went on to vilify, exaggerate and yes, insult Muslims and non-Muslims across the globe. But here’s the thing. We all do the same thing. Not on the air but in our homes and jobs and minds. We cast aspersions on those we don’t know, make judgments, quote and re-quote inaccurate information and build the foundation for hatred. And we do it every day.

In Iraq we have ISIS capturing and killing Yazidis, (OK they released 250 of them mostly children and the elderly, thanks for that). But then we ask why. What is it about the Yazidis that would make anyone want to kill them? They are one of Iraq’s smallest minority populations, whose religion is considered a pre-Islamic sect that draws from Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism.  That sounds innocent enough but according to CNN, they have been persecuted because many Muslims see them as ‘devil worshippers.’ Doesn’t that translate to ‘they’re different’? And so, what if they are? Aren’t we all? How many kinds of Christian churches are there? How many different types of Jewish synagogues are there? How many religions are there? Look in the Yellow pages!  Read a book on World Religions!



Deck the Halls

Every year about this time many people, especially in the northern states, have a tradition of driving around at night to admire their neighbors’ Christmas decorations. For some people, preparing for Christmas is a simple matter of tastefully decorating a tree that sits in front of their living room window. For others, it’s the decorated tree and nice little candles sitting on their window sills. For others, it’s the decorated tree, the nice little candles and string of white lights wound around their bushes. For others, it’s the decorated tree, the nice little candles, the string of white lights and a backlit nativity scene on the front lawn.

For still others, it’s the tree, the candles, the string of lights, the nativity scene and a huge inflated snowman surrounded by colored lights. For others, it’s the tree, the candles, the lights, the nativity scene, the inflated snowman and a cheerful animated Santa waving merrily as his reindeer team readies for flight. For still others, it’s the tree, the candles, the string of lights, the nativity scene, the inflated snowman, the animated Santa and his reindeer and eight robotic elves working at their workbench.

For still others, it’s the decorated tree, the candles in the windows, the string of lights, the nativity scene, the inflated snowman, the cheerful Santa and his reindeer, the robotic elves and 18 foot high letters that dance across the lawn spelling out MERRY CHRISTMAS. And in the background Dean Martin serenades onlookers with a deafening rendition of “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” on continuous loop.

I Guess “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot like Christmas!”


Another one bites the dust

Our icons are falling one after the other. Most recent among our fallen heroes is Bill Cosby, a man we’ve known and loved since his hallmark role in I SPY in the mid-60’s (that’s 19… BTW). When he co-starred with Robert Culp on weeknight TV in the first spy series of its kind, he became the first black man to have a starring role on a TV series and brought his character Scotty into the limelight. As Scotty he was funny, warm, stable, rather shy and generally understated. He was focused on the job and not on the seductive women who were always getting Kelly Robinson (a world class tennis player) in trouble.  From there, Bill Cosby went on to star in and be loved for other roles as through the years he became someone we all, but especially young minority men looked up to, a leader, a funny man, a wise man.

Who didn’t love Bill Cosby? No one! We all did. He was terrific and loveable and spontaneous with his homey self-effacing anecdotes, his tales about his mother in Philadelphia. And what I loved the most about him was how sincerely human and real he seemed. So imagine my shock, no doubt our collective shock, when one woman after another came forward to tell her story about the Bill Cosby she knew.



Free To Be You And Me

I was talking the other day about music that contributed to social change. Thanks to Marlo Thomas and other like-minded progressives who created that marvelous children’s record, we moved forward (resisting the best efforts of conservatives and reactionaries aka right-wing Republicans) marching toward personal, social, racial and sexual freedom. “Free to Be You and Me” not only embodied those changes but was their impetus. That recording sang out musical truths – loud and clear, ringing social truths for all to hear.

Blossoming during social revolution of the 60’s which left “Leave it to Beaver,” “Father Knows Best” and “I Remember Mama” in the dust, a new energy emerged. A brand new social fabric sprang from the words and sounds of a different kind of recording fostering a different kind of TV programming, affecting families, schools, churches and the financial marketplace. Every ‘following generation’ simply takes changes in technology and ideology for granted; doomed forever to the kind of time-blindness that strikes generations and nations alike. ‘You mean you didn’t have smart phones?’

Historians can write and film producers can portray, but no one can know what it was like to be in a world that’s different from the one they live in.  The intrinsic value of first-hand experience simply cannot be underestimated. It is, in fact, one of the key influences affecting every society. Each subsequent generation absorbs the changes from the previous ones: ideas, values, prejudices, hatreds, fears, beliefs, traditions, but never fully understands them. Social change is like a constantly evolving organism that consumes and creates, incorporating, digesting and re-creating. Everything flows from experience generated by time.



Resurgence of Political Ignorance

Although political pundits sorely miss W with his idiotic misstatements like, “Those who enter this country illegally, are breaking the law!” we can rest assured that should Sarah Palin seek public office she will step into that void and provide us with endless hilariousness. Most recently Bill Maher quoted or misquoted her as saying “…my heart goes out to all those people in Ebola.” Well personally I’m glad she’s so sympathetic but it would be better if she knew exactly what, where and to whom her sympathies were being directed! Perhaps she would benefit from a geography lesson that pointed out Angola is not the same as Ebola, one is a country the other a deadly virus. Duh! We can all breathe a sigh of relief that she is not looking for a job with the World Health Organization or the Center for Communicable Diseases, the world has enough trouble without adding her to the mix! And did she really brag that she can kill her dinner before she cooks it?  Let’s imagine this. There she is wearing her latest $2500 Versace creation, slaving over her recently shot goose (or wolf as the case may be) preparing a little Sunday dinner. And perhaps while her goose is cooking, she saunters into her bedroom and peeks out her window at Russia, just to check on how things are going over there, with that Ukrainian problem. And then, she gets this brilliant idea. Why doesn’t she give Putin a call, them being practically neighbors, she’ll invite him over for dinner. He’ll hop on his MasterCraft x46 and zoom right over. To make political capital from her efforts she’ll call the press to take pictures of the little peace conference about to take place at her dining room table. She’ll even ask him to bring along some of his Pro-Russian Ukrainians. They’re his neighbors, so they’re practically her neighbors too. Hell, they could bring along those hungry folks from Ebola too (they’re somewhere south of Ukraine according to her map)!



Where have all the flowers gone??

There is something different about the world today. Something is gone, off in the distance but nonetheless palpable. It’s not often that I eulogize stars; not often that I even think of them or remember their roles or the names of their shows. This time it’s different. This … is one that I remember … almost know or think that I do. There’s always been something emotionally risky about the man, something that drove him up to the edge; something scary I picked up from him in spite of his outstanding humor, talent, supremely challenging roles. He would go too far, put too much of himself into the role. That’s what made him such a fabulous actor, but it’s also what worried me about him. There were insufficient boundaries – no limits to what he would do to fully occupy the role; to fully immerse himself in the persona of the moment. It seemed to me, always the therapist, that he didn’t keep enough of himself for himself.

That’s what scared me about Robin Williams. I always saw deep sadness, bordering on hopelessness in his eyes, even if they sparkled with laughter. In his quiet moments, in an acting role or in a TV interview, I saw his despair. Many of the things I’ve read about him: his need for an audience, his discomfort with ‘one-on-one’ encounters, his substance abuse, depression, all those things fit my ‘sense’ of him and while I think he was the finest broad spectrum actor I’ve ever seen, he always felt fragile to me. While I enjoyed him, those viewing experiences they were accompanied by my own mental subtext that read ‘this man is in pain.’



Do You Remember My Little Red Keurig?

Well, believe it or not, the time has come! After weeks of deciding and planning and choosing and changing my mind and deciding again, the time has come. New stuff is waiting in a warehouse and soon there will be workers tearing apart my kitchen. Walls, floor, ceiling, lighting, plumbing, cabinets and countertops will all go. Everything has to be packed up and stored elsewhere. After many trips to Goodwill, the kitchen will be empty and waiting for the demolition crew.  My house will be a dust trap for weeks on end…not to mention the noise. The cats will endure the indignity of being boarded, but Daisy has agreed to endure the mess so she can stay at home and supervise the workmen. Yes, I’m sure the end result will be lovely and I can’t wait to get there, but in the meantime we’ll be eating carryout off of paper plates!

I suppose anything good is worth waiting for and I’ve waited for years to renovate my kitchen. Now that the time is here I find myself grimacing rather than grinning. All that work and mess; all that disorder and disorganization, well it doesn’t thrill me. But adapt I shall. Advice has been pouring in from my sister and several friends about things to do and ways to manage. Others have survived such things and I am sure so will I! Probably by the time you read this blog I will be contentedly settled into my brand spanking new kitchen. Say, maybe I’ll even post some pictures of it, Talaverra tiles and all!


OK! I admit it! I have Writer’s Block!

Someone asked me this week why I haven’t been posting to my blog… “You need some new stuff up there,’ she said. “What’s going on, you have writer’s block?” ‘No,’ I smiled, ‘of course not,’ I replied without giving it much thought. “I’ve just been busy.” Well, here I am sitting at the keyboard and guess what? I’m blocked! Well, maybe blocked isn’t quite it – maybe it’s stuck.

There are so many horrible things happening in the world, so many dangerous hotspots, I don’t know where to begin much less pontificate about. Regrettably, I declare myself among the millions of uninformed or barely informed Americans who get by on CNN and online news briefs. But, I am aware enough to be worried … no make that horrified.

First, as examples of international impotence, there are those 200 missing Nigerian girls kidnapped in the middle of the night by the Boka Haram. Despite the huge international outcry and pleas for their return they are still out there somewhere. How can that be with our “eye in the sky” satellites that can detect a wisp of smoke from about a million feet in the air? It doesn’t make sense. They can’t be that hard to find! Where is our international A Team when we need them? Where are our Navy SEALs or Britain’s SAS or Russia’s Spetsnaz? There are specially trained tactical forces all over the place skilled enough to rescue a bunch of girls hidden somewhere. Where is everybody? If it had been government or political officials would we be sitting on our hands? What if the President of Nigeria had been taken? Would his family members be out there with placards crying out for someone to help find him? I think not.



Death March

It’s not that I know much about the world. I have to admit, compared to professors, researchers, academics, covert information gatherers and world leaders, good and bad, I know nearly nothing. History, political science and government are classes I took long ago and probably they have little to do with world conflict today. While I freely admit I have little factual information about the world’s hot spots, I think I may know something about people. I also think I may know a little something about what is or is not reasonable. So when I say I want to make some remarks about the group called ISIS or ISIL, it is with a 100 foot high disclaimer in which my ignorance is duly noted.

What little I know, however, is scary. Damn scary. That a small, determined, hate-filled force can gather so much momentum and attract so many fighters and manage to expertly train those fighters in such a short amount of time is awesome and terrifying. This group has no moral code, not scintilla of doubt about the rightness of their murderous rampage. There are no limits to their destructiveness, their violence, their homicidality. It matters not a whit that they are murdering human beings by the thousands, that those human beings are their brethren or at least are sheltered under ‘Semitic’ people category, referring to their common language base or that they dwell in the same part of the world and labor under the same difficult political, economic and familial circumstances. No, apparently none of that matters. What seems to matter is land…they want more and more land. Why, not to develop peaceful communities where their families can live in peace. NO. They want land so they can control and monopolize the entire region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf. Why?? I’d just be guessing here, but I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s about control. Control of the region, control of the oil in the region, control of every country in the region until, as each nation/government falls before them there will be One Single Arab presence in the world. One Arab Country controlled and led by one ‘duly elected’, though through armed violent takeover, government.



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