Auto-Pilot

There was a time before computers when an airline pilot actually made all the decisions, pushed all the buttons and levers that lifted an airplane from earthly bonds to soar through the skies to distance places and with skillful precision land safely at its designated destination. Before computers human error caused most accidents whether on land, air or sea. Back then, I measured the skill of my airplane captain by the grey hair on his temples, the swagger of his gait or the well-tailored cut of his uniform. I was placing my life into those hands and I was seeking some measure of comfort. Back then I hadn’t flown a lot and I was young and perhaps fearful of what I had no control over. Basically I had to learn to trust.

Fast forward to today. Computers do most of the navigating of airplanes. I’ve flown many times and am at a point in my life where my trust is based less on emotions and more on statistical facts. In a very old detective show called Dragnet, the lead character, Sergeant Joe Friday, was prone to say “Just the facts ma’am”. Facts and truth are comforting, they form a base that is solid, enduring and can be trusted. And that is what I now think we are all seeking in a much divided and torn America.

For all of my adult years, I have always gone to bed at night trusting that at the helm of our nation, the Captain of our ship was up to the job…knowledgeable, informed, dedicated to protect and defend me against all adversaries foreign and domestic. Those days are long gone and for the past 2 years I awaken each morning and check to see what madness may have occurred while I was sleeping, what tweet has perhaps threatened my existence.

With the new revelation that our illegitimate mob boss Pres has, unbeknownst to him, staff scurrying around removing papers from his desk, editing any information he sees, feeding him only small doses of censored material because they are fearful of what he may do that could harm America, I am afraid. Whoever these people are, they were not elected nor do I know their qualifications. So we have mysterious unknowns running a shadow government protecting us from the Captain of our ship. This does not instill trust. Our government is basically running on auto pilot right now. Who will step up and take the controls when, not if, a major catastrophe occurs? We are rudderless. Surely somewhere within the bowels of an inept Congress there might be one patriot, one brave soul who may bring our ship safely home by being the catalyst for the expulsion of the worst excuse for a president our country has ever endured.

May God bless America, watch over us and keep us safe because we are drifting, drifting, drifting with no one at the helm.

 

Exhaustion

I’m tired. Mentally, physically and emotionally. Being tired is a relatively common occurrence and to be expected throughout life based on the busyness of our day, how hard we partied the night before, or from the burdens of juggling a busy life in an attempt to be everything for everyone. Tired can be a rewarding feeling, the result of a job well done. Being “busy” can be an emotional escape from the painful things that disturb our existence…a busyness that leaves us at the end of a day dropping into an exhausted sleep and there to hopefully recharge our battery to be armed for another day.

America has been assaulted for the past two years and beaten into a state of exhaustion as we have watched the “norms” of the Presidency be reduced to a heap of ashes. As I watched the stately and solemn tributes being paid to a true American hero, I found myself weeping for what America has lost. Many times I didn’t agree with John McCain’s position, his hawkish nature, but my admiration of the man and what he stood for, the life he lived doing what he truly believed was right, was an honorable one. What a stark contrast from the self-centered egotistical narcissistic child currently playing grownup in the People’s House. This man-child, who everyday demonstrates his inadequacies and ignorance about basic civic and judicial knowledge, is putting every American at home and abroad at risk.

And then bombshell after bombshell explodes exposing just how unstable this corrupt president is as Bob Woodward’s new book Fear is released and an anonymous source in the New York Times op/ed page trumpets there is an undercover coupe in place within the White House…staff that scurry around trying to secret from the American public just how broken this administration is. For a long time now I have considered anyone who continues to support and facilitate this unhinged corrupt grifter family as being complicit in the craziness and danger that is the whirling dervish encompassing America today. History will not be kind to them.

November is rapidly approaching and if you value some of the basic freedoms of a democracy, then vote! Freedoms that encompass things like being free to love who one chooses, freedom that believes and supports the equality of each person no matter race, color, creed, freedom to enjoy clean air and water, freedom for women to have a choice about what happens to their own bodies. Help register people to vote, drive people to the polls, vote early, vote as if your life depends upon it because it very well may be a life and death issue for many American citizens.

Swamp Things

Mr. Gator

I love swamps. I have traversed various swamps in my day and in each one I enjoyed the beauty of Bald Cypress trees, Tupelo trees, Spanish moss, water lilies, and the slow moving murky waters where a submerged tree stump might be a lurking alligator awaiting his next meal. Best of all though are the magnificent birds that inhabit these scary but beautiful places. Great and Snowy Egrets, Great Blue, Little Blue, Tricolored and Green Herons, Night Herons, Vultures, Osprey, Anhinga to name a few.

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Anhinga

I’ve been in canoes and air boats and no matter what the vehicle, I find these moments with nature to be restorative. They help me remember the permanence of time…how things continue even in adversity, recover from blows that seem to knock the wind from sails only to grow stronger and more beautiful from it all. Forest fires are devastating but the burn gives rise to new growth. A hurricane, tornado or any of the major disasters wipe clean and when the rebuilding comes, it may be superior in many ways.

I’ve only experienced one swamp that I didn’t like, one swamp that made me fearful, unsure of survival. A swamp inhabited by bottom sucking leeches and loathsome creatures that cared naught for the beauty of nature, or clean water or clean air, or the well-being of all who inhabited that piece of real estate. And yes…that swamp is the infamous cesspool that has grown and blossomed like a red tide bringing hardship and adversity to all who abide in America. I don’t believe that all of Washington DC is a swamp, but I certainly do believe that the tRump administration has transformed the People’s House, the White House into a swamp of unimaginable horror.  I’ve watched environmental regulations and animal protections wiped carelessly away, the corruption and misuse of our money, your money, the people’s money being squandered frivolously all to fulfill the whim of unscrupulous appointees.

Swamps tend to be self nurturing…an ecosystem that repairs and fixes itself to restore a natural balance that keeps it healthy. I had hopes that my fears were unjustified and that the men and women of the tRump administration would rise beyond their greed and truly devote themselves to protecting and defending all the good that America personifies. But I have waited in vain. I know that the only cure for the decisiveness that has permeated America today is the sweeping of that giant blue tsunami across America this November. Vote the swamp things out of Congress or in tRump’s words “Drain the Swamp!”

 

 

Bake the Bag

Recently I received an email from King Arthur Flour about a challenge they were promoting called Bake the Bag. The challenge lasts for 9 weeks and the object is to bake an entire bag of their White Whole Wheat Flour over a 9 week period. Of course I decided to accept the challenge!

Best Banana Nut Bread ever!

First up was a recipe for Banana Nut Bread which admittedly is not my favorite food item on the planet but since I needed some ripe bananas, I purchased those and moved to the 2nd week challenge of Chocolate Chip Cookies, a recipe more to my liking. It wasn’t a complicated recipe and the end result was not as good as anticipated. The cook time was off for me even though my oven temp is accurate according to an oven thermometer. So this recipe was a bust for me and all recipes that receive that rating travel promptly to the trash can. I’ll stick to the Toll House recipe on the package of Nestle’s chocolate chips in the future.

The bananas finally ripened enough and as I type this, I can smell the aroma wafting from my kitchen. This recipe had an option of adding chocolate chips or butterscotch chips to the batter. Well, I had peanut butter chips and decided that peanut butter and banana is a favorite food group so in they went.

Delicious, delicious, delicious!!! And this from a person who really doesn’t like banana nut bread.

Next up were Brownies and they certainly didn’t disappoint. From scratch, dark chocolate fudgy goodness that was definitely worthy of being a keeper recipe.

Last Monday I cranked out the weekly challenge of Sticky Buns! And they were extremely good. The only change I would make next time would be to use a brioche or sweet dough using bread flour rather than the white whole wheat flour.

I am enjoying the weekly challenges in “Bake the Bag”. Check it out on the King Arthur Flour web site  https://www.kingarthurflour.com/bake-the-bag/  if you might be interested. Next up…Carrot Cake! My favorite!!!

 

For the Love of Friends

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God gave us memories so we might have roses in December – James M. Barrie

Last week I traveled a relatively short distance to visit my oldest and one of my dearest friends. From second grade, we have shared our lives even over great distances and when she met her husband at age 17 and 3 years later tied the marriage knot, he too became a part of my life. Time passed and, oh so many years ago, we kept in contact by writing letters. With the advent of email, we have stayed in touch and we have never missed the annual ritual of sending a birthday card to each other. We both have two daughters and grandchildren now and have lived out dreams and fulfilled most of our aspirations.

So many wonderful childhood memories and so many lifelong events have shaped our lives. And through those many years we have watched each other grow old and witnessed the inevitable scourges of time…the patterns of wrinkles and fading scars paint a picture of lives well lived.

Bí mật giật mình trong quả sung và nước sốt cà chua
A private message

I cried most of the way home that day because illness and age has ripped a familiar loved one from the person I once knew and twisted him into a shell of his former self. He was there inside that shell yet a light had flickered out somewhere within. My friends epitomize what true and lasting love is. Through good times and bad, fortune, fame, loss and tragedy, they have weathered every storm with grace and dignity…stood by each other and through those years they have woven the fabric of a beautiful family. They have lived what most people eternally seek…days and days filled with love in the Spring, Summer and now Winter of their lives.

Witnessing the changes in people we love brings us face to face with the reality that each of us will one day step through life into death to the unknown beauty of what we hope awaits us. Most everyone at one time or another has heard the analogy of a fetus in utero…safe, warm with all of its needs constantly and fully met and the fear that ensues when the birthing process begins. A fetus is thrust into an unknown world and this is scary, just as we are afraid to face the reality of our own eventual demise.

I am so thankful that my life has been blessed with these special friends and I hope I will have many more days/years with them. There is a peaceful comfort now in just being around old friends. They know me. My strengths, my weaknesses, my very inner self. We have history. I love them both and each time we reconnect, it is as yesterday, nary a missed beat. I think of you both each and every day.

Be well dear friends.

Oh, By The Way… Home Warranty Hell!!

For the past six weeks I have been without a refrigerator. Trust me this is NOT a pleasant experience and if you have experienced it then you know how frustrated I am right now.

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Background…I purchased a home warranty policy for the first time this year because I was worried that my ac was 20 years old and might kick the bucket. Well, so far (and I am holding my breath) the ac is still cranking but my refrigerator conked out. No worries, file a claim with the home warranty company, right? Only a $45.00 service call charge for me and it will be all fixed. In my dreams! Easier said than done.

After a couple of days the first (yes there has been more than one!) service company came out to diagnosis the problem. He determined that the compressor was bad and ordered a new one. One week passed and he came to install the new compressor. Next I received a text from him saying the new compressor blew the mother board and oh by the way it will be two-five weeks before the parts are here. After I flipped out, he said the mother board had to come from China. I yelled that I knew there were planes flying out of China each day and I was willing to pay for overnight shipping. Didn’t happen and the home warranty company said they don’t offer overnight shipping of parts.

So I waited and waited and waited.  After another two weeks, I called the first service person for an update. He told me that the new compressor was in but he was still waiting for the Mother board and oh by the way (starting to get the feeling in my gut that this is a living nightmare and something isn’t just right moment) three different supply places said this compressor is the right one but LG says it isn’t and oh by the way…the home warranty company wants to send out another company for a second opinion. And oh by the way, can first repair person come by and pull the compressor that he put it that blew the Mother board. I said it was inconvenient and no way in hell am I letting him take away what could be evidence that he installed the wrong compressor which caused the mother board to fry!! I don’t know that for a fact, but count me seriously suspicious at this point in time.

So I wait again for the second company to come and diagnosis the problem. And oh by the way, please pay this company another $45.00 service call fee.This one unscrewed the plates behind the refrigerator looked at it (no diagnostic tools) replaced cover plates and left and I haven’t heard from him since. And oh by the way…he isn’t authorized to work on LG products. Question??? Then why did said home warranty company send him out to diagnosis it??

So I wait and eventually fire off another angry email to people on the other end of cyberspace and receive a notice that a third company will be coming out a week from now to diagnose the problem. And oh by the way…that will be another $45.00 please. By this time I am blowing a gasket and am at my “breaking point”. And oh by the way the name of the third company scheduled for next week is…wait for it…Breaking Point!!! Is this kharma or what???

I called and eventually get hold of a manager who only succeeded in making me angrier if that is even possible. And adding insult to an already old, tired, frustrated, angry woman, she had the audacity to offer me $389.00 to resolve the whole issue. This on a refrigerator that originally cost $3000. She must have though I was brain-dead or just maybe this is the run around scam that they pull on everyone. I have no way of knowing, but count myself wiser and more knowledgeable at this point in time after digging further on the internet into this company. Turns out that all those glowing reviews that enticed me to choose this home warranty company may have been falsely secured by them offering incentives to previous customers to write nice things. At least that is what the BBB and a judge determined when they fined this company over $800,000 in a class action lawsuit for a breach of rules that clearly state you can’t solicit new customers with lies from previous customers.

So I am waiting. Waiting for my refrigerator to be fixed, waiting for a company to do the responsible good faith thing, basically waiting for hell to freeze over in Texas on a 102 degree day. And oh by the way, I never paid a second or third service fee!  And on the plus side…I have become the refrigerator police and now know that I can manage with very little and not starve to death.

I think I’ll have a cup of tea and try to zen my way to being more tranquil. It appears I am at the mercy of powers of which I have no control, so Ommmmmm.

Addenda: Finally reached the owner of said company and we settled with them giving me $1000.00 for a new refrigerator and as Lady Luck finally returned, the one I want was on sale for $999.99! I am finally free of refrigerator hell!! I’m chilling now!!!

Keep your cool!!!

 

The Great American Read

Image result for pbs logoPBS offers some spectacular programs of great interest and of tremendous educational value. It recently launched a summer program designed to encourage reading as a summer activity. Yes good old-fashioned reading. Through a national survey, they selected America’s top 100 favorite books as voted by readers just like you and me, placed them on a list and encouraged watchers to vote for the book that they believe should be crowned the Best American Read.

My lifetime romance and love of books led me to watch this special and I was delighted to discover some books that I had not yet read as well as some books that were so intriguing that I just had to read them now! Books give me comfort. Books are my crack cocaine. I can’t get enough of them, I am addicted to them and my love extends beyond the words written on pages…words that paint magnificent pictures of colorful characters, intriguing places, and roller coaster adventures in far away places. I am a hopeless Bibliophile who gets a rush from the texture and feel of the paper used within a book, the graphics of the book jacket, the smell of the ink on the paper, the feel of the book in my hands and their sheer presence in my world. A bookcase stuffed with books, a bed with novels resting haphazardly within the folds of a comforter, or a stack of books placed close at hand on an end table, take me back to my childhood where books were some of my best friends, a way to travel and have great adventures within the security of home sweet home.

PBS is encouraging us to vote for the book that each of us believes should hold the distinct honor of being the #1 best American read out of the listed one hundred. And there are no limits on how many times or how many books you can choose as your #1.

So take a moment and check out this PBS special summer attraction at (http://www.pbs.org/the-great-american-read) and you may be surprised to find some old book familiars and excited to discover some new biblio friends.

What is your Number 1? Vote!!!

And VOTE again in November!!! Your rights and freedoms depend on it!