I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM….

What’ll it be? Strawberry, salty caramel nut, cookies and cream, kiwi mango, chocolate mint, peach? Maybe your taste runs to the classics of plain chocolate or the all time favorite, vanilla. My husband preferred vanilla most of the time, however after one of his surgeries he wanted nothing but homemade orange crush ice cream, and in the months before he passed away he was on a Wendy’s chocolate Frosty kick.

Perhaps you tend to the more exotic flavors or even sorbet or gelato. My mother had a penchant for orange sherbet and I remember flagging down the ice cream truck in our neighborhood many times to get her an Orange Pushup. I usually prefer the hand dipped variety over soft ice cream, my all time favorite being Jamoca Almond Fudge, but here lately I’ve been craving a thick malt or ‘blast’ of some kind. I’m not usually one to care one way or the other about having ice cream, unlike my father who had to have his daily bowl [or two] of the frozen confection, but something about this near 100 degree Texas weather has me thinking along these lines.

I remember the excitement of making ice cream as a child in our hand cranked freezer; we each ‘got’ to turn the crank which was part of the charm and novelty of making and eating it. This was a summer activity that took place outdoors under a shade tree. Of course we always had boxes of ice cream in our freezer but somehow it tasted better when we made it ourselves. When we lived in Alaska and had our food flown in once a month we always got two or three flavors in five gallon buckets…my father wasn’t going to chance running out and he loved it even in minus forty degree weather.

I remember when the hand cranked freezer gave way to the electric model. How upscale we felt, and how much easier and quicker it was to have homemade ice cream. A few years after that an electric model which didn’t require the addition of ice or salt, only the freezing of the ingredient bowl came on the market. At one time we even had a refrigerator with an ice cream making attachment in the freezer where after adding the desired ingredients, all the work was done automatically sight unseen. It was a tragic event when lightning struck our refrigerator and rendered it useless along with the magic ice cream maker.

In the summer months when I struggled to find things to keep my small children busy and happy, making ice cream in a rolling can was always a hit. All one has to do is fill a # 10 can with ice and salt after inserting a smaller can filled with the ice cream makings, put a lid on both cans and let the children roll the can back and forth to each other. It’s fun for them as well as a, literally, cool activity. When they get tired of rolling it around, the ice cream is ready to enjoy.

Ice cream’s origins reach as far back as the second century B.C. Alexander The Great enjoyed snow flavored with honey and nectar. During the Roman Empire Nero Claudius Caesar [A.D. 54-86] frequently sent runners into the mountains for snow, which was then flavored with fruits and juices.

A thousand years later Marco Polo returned from the Far East with a recipe that resembled what we now call sherbet. England seemed to have discovered ice cream at the same time as the Italians. “Cream Ice” as it was called was enjoyed regularly by the royalty. It wasn’t until 1660 that ice cream was made available to the general public.

The first official account of ice cream in the New World was at the table of Maryland Governor, William Bladen. The first advertisement for ice cream appeared in The New York Gazette on May 12, 1777. George Washington spent $200 for ice cream during the summer of 1790.  A frozen strawberry confection was served at President Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration and he had his own special vanilla ice cream recipe.

It wasn’t until 1851 that ice cream could be enjoyed by more than the elite because of technological innovations of making, storing and distribution. Ice cream became an edible morale symbol during World War Two. In 1945 the first ‘floating ice cream parlor’ was built for sailors in the western Pacific and commanders of different troops tried to outdo each other in offering their troops more flavors than the others. When the war ended and restrictions of dairy products was lifted, America celebrated its victory with ice cream. In 1946 an average of 20 quarts per person was consumed. Today the amount Americans consume exceeds 1.6 billion gallons annually.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. So what’ll it be, what’s your poison…er favorite? And how will you enjoy it…in a bowl, in a cone, on a stick, between two cookies, blended in a cup, in a float, on a piece of pie, with sprinkles or just…plain? The flavors are as endless as my memories of this sweet frozen treat. Go ahead, what are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present to indulge your passion for ice cream, it’s summer….and that about sums it up, nothing else needs saying.

ARE YOU A SNEAKERHEAD?

What is it about women and shoes? They seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly or bread and butter. No matter how old we become, nothing can cheer us like a new pair of shoes [except chocolate]. As for myself, I’ve long since given up spike heels, but oh I do remember those glory days! I don’t wear shoes with much of a heel anymore unless it’s a good pair of medium wedge heels which give me stability as well as a modicum of comfort.

But we have so many different kinds of foot wear to choose from these days that no one blinks an eye if we wear flats, sandals or boots instead of heels to most any event. I heard this morning of a place in Europe though that turns away a woman if she isn’t wearing heels…how ridiculous is that! Why do women wear heels anyway, is it for themselves or to catch the attention of the opposite sex? Possibly both. Heels certainly aren’t comfortable and worn on a daily basis they cause foot injury. I have to admit there was a time I voted for looks over comfort but those days are gone with my youth.

Like most women, I do love shoes and one or two pair simply aren’t enough. We need a pair to match each outfit as well as an array of seasonal shoes,. I’m always on the lookout for attractive, comfortable shoes which aren’t as easy to find as one might suppose, so sometimes finding a good pair is through trial and error….I shudder to think of all the errors I’ve made.

I’ve long labored under the notion that a shoe fetish was the sole [pun intended] domain of females but my teenage grandson recently informed me that’s not the case anymore. He said that these days guys like a variety shoes as much as girls do and that their closets boast an astonishing number of them. I guess that should come as no surprise, in fact it was inevitable; as the old saying goes, ‘what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander’. 

Originally shoes were tied to function only but today many are valued for their esthetics. They vary from sandals with only a thin sole and simple strap to high fashion shoes made of expensive materials costing thousands of dollars. Other shoes are made for a specific purpose such as hiking, climbing, mountaineering, boating, golfing, dancing, running, wrestling, basketball, water sports, etc.

Traditionally shoes have been made from leather, wood or canvas but are increasingly made from rubber, plastics, and other petrochemical-derived materials. It’s been noted that some of these shoes take on average 20 years to degrade in a landfill…kinda makes one think, doesn’t it?

The earliest shoes are sandals dating from 7,000 or 8,000 BCE, found in the Fort Rock Cave in Oregon in 1938. The world’s earliest leather shoes was found in 2008 in Armenia, dating to 3,500 B.C. Thong sandals, the precursor of the modern flip-flop, dates to 4,000 B.C. in ancient Egypt.

Until the 19th century shoemaking was a traditional handicraft, but by the century’s end, the process was almost completely mechanized with production occurring in large factories. In 2012 the shoe industry had an overall market of $122.9 billion with The Peoples Republic of China holding 63 percent of the production. It wasn’t until 1818 that the right shoe was invented in Philadelphia. Until that time no distinction was made between the left or right foot. Sounds a mite uncomfortable, doesn’t it?

Shoes have found their way into our culture, folk-lore, literature and art. In urban subculture a sneakerhead is a person who owns multiple pairs of shoes as a form of collection or fashion. How many of us must plead guilty to that?

During the 16th century women began wearing extremely high heels, they were so high they needed servants to help them walk. In Venice stilt shoes were invented and a law was enforced limiting the size of heels on women’s shoes because women would fall to their death off their shoes. In 2010 a ten inch heel, known as the Armadillo heel, was made for a fashion show but models wisely refused to wear them because of the danger they posed on the runway….duh, you think?

If you ever get to Toronto, Canada you can visit the only shoe museum in North America, showcasing shoes spanning 4,500 years.

While most of us own several pairs of shoes, we’ve left behind the traditions of many cultures involving them such as a groom drinking a toast from the bride’s shoe; or a couple tossing the brides red shoe from a rooftop for good luck; or the ceremony of a father giving the groom-to-be a pair of shoes symbolizing the giving of his authority over his daughter to his new son-in-law. Sometimes old traditions are slow to die, other times people can’t wait to see the departing dust.

If you’re a sneakerhead you might as well enjoy it since it’s unlikely your status quo will change. Once in a while I get rid of a pair of shoes but it’s awfully hard to do even if they aren’t very comfortable. At least I have the satisfaction of knowing none of my shoes were made with two left feet; I can’t even imagine the agony that would cause, no wonder people preferred going barefoot for so long!  I just got a new pair of leopard print wedge heel Sketchers sandals that are as cute as they are comfortable, so here’s to you my fellow sneakerheads, here’s to you!

BIRTHDAY

It’s almost time for another birthday [yea, yea, I know I said I’d have no more, but at this point each additional birthday is like acquiring another gold star on my forehead and who can resist that?] and the ‘old’ jokes have already begun. I was speaking to my youngest son the other morning and mentioned that I hadn’t felt up to par this week but didn’t know what was wrong. Without missing a beat he said, “I know what’s wrong, you’re getting old!” How dare he have the audacity to mention my getting old when he’s on the north side of thirty-five himself. But I guess he’s right, I am getting old, old enough that I can get away with blaming any and everything on being old; come to think of it that might actually have some advantages. For instance if I’m getting forgetful, it’s because I’m old. Garrulous? I’m old; Hard of hearing? I’m old; Flatulent? I’m old; Bad eating habits? I’m old; Poor hygiene? I’m old; Nosey? I’m old; Anti-social? I’m old. See how this works? It’s like I have a ‘get out of jail free’ card for every situation and isn’t that golden? That must be why they call these the Golden Years.

My quarterly Dr. appointment last week showed that I’m in good shape [for the shape I’m in]. My A1C is in the normal range and my cholesterol and triglycerides are all good. Nevertheless I know I need to increase my activity level. I know this because I’m told this repeadly. Both my sons here in Wylie have gym memberships and have suggested they add me, so what’s my excuse? Well, you see, umm, ah, cough, uh, I guess I don’t really have one….unless it’s that I’m too old.

Yes, that’s it! I’m just too old. Or as my husband was so fond of saying,”old as dirt.” But in this case, I don’t think that excuse is gonna work. As long as I can hobble around I need to keep on hobbling [so they tell me]. It’s possible that if I actually went to the gym I might come to like it [yea, when pigs fly] or at the very least, go long enough for it to become a habit. I mean, after all, lots of people have bad habits, right?

Anyway, I’m thinking [key word here…thinking] seriously about going to the gym two or three times a week. I really believe I will…..unless it’s raining, or windy, or hot, or cold, or sunny, or cloudy or, well you get the picture of what I’m facing. I really don’t know what I have against exercise; I need someone to just take charge of that part of my life and make me do it because I’m too old to make myself do it.

am thinking about it though and that’s the first step toward accomplishing any goal. I wonder how long I can safely think about it before deciding not to? Maybe I’ll just go shopping more often and walk around the store a couple of extra times. At least that way I can fool myself into thinking it’s not exercise. Hold on, what was I just speaking of? I can’t seem to remember….oh well, it probably wasn’t important anyway.

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ODD OR JUST PLAIN SMART?

Have you ever noticed that almost every one you meet is just a little…’odd’, if not downright weird? Most of the time it’s easy to overlook the oddness of others because it’s those differences that make people interesting and worth knowing, but sometimes…

We knew a man in Alaska who had a new set of china dishes flown in each month on the commissary plane. As he used each dish he threw it away rather than washing it. When all the dishes were gone he started on a new set. No paper plates or cheap dishes for him, they had to be good china ones. Odd? Well maybe not if you liked using good china and didn’t like washing dishes.

I knew a woman who loved her dogs more than anything, even more than her husband it seemed. She refused to cook for her husband but regularly cooked full meals for her dogs. Those dogs ate better than most folks do and what’s more her husband didn’t seem to mind. Odd? Evidently that couple didn’t think so…or else he didn’t like her cooking.

Then there was the woman who cleaned her house in the nude. Now I’m not knocking that, whatever floats your boat I say, especially if you wind up with sparkling windows and floors. But I can’t help wondering if she kept a robe handy for answering the door.

When I was a teen I knew someone who wouldn’t eat in front of anyone. This person took his food to a secluded place and consumed it in solitude. Then there are those that don’t want different types of food to touch each other on the plate and they eat one food completely before going on to another. Again, nothing wrong with this, it’s just different from the way I do things…odd as I mentioned.

My maternal grandfather had an odd way of getting rid of unwanted visitors, especially his daughter’s suitors. He’d start undressing for bed in their presence; I’m told it worked like a charm. Another odd thing he did was to pour his hot coffee from his cup into a saucer before drinking it. Why even bother with a cup?

My own mother had a few quirks of her own, though I’m sure she’d say there was nothing odd about eating chow-chow or pepper relish on her morning biscuits and gravy or catsup on her eggs, but by my standards…

And then there was the man who was seen on more than one occasion bailing water from his front yard with a bucket….during a rain storm. Now it might be considered just a little odd to do that at any time but during a rain storm is nothing short of weird, at least in my opinion.

We’ve all met people who regularly talk to themselves but last week I met someone who also answers herself. As she explained to me unapologetically, when she wants an intelligent conversation no one can fill the bill as well as herself. Odd or just plain smart?

Of course I’m totally without quirks. I’m as normal as apple pie and vanilla ice cream, though my dear departed husband used to say to me, “everyone is weird except for me and thee, and I sometimes wonder about thee.” My sentiments exactly. And I guess the crux of the matter is simply this; if anyone does things differently than we ourselves do them we deem it to be odd. So I’ll excuse your oddness if you’ll excuse mine. It’s said that variety is the spice of life and I say that variety also brings a few chuckles.

COWBOY BOOTS AND STETSON HATS

At the time of my birth, my parents lived in San Antonio, Texas but my mother was visiting relatives in Arkansas so I’ve never quite known if I’m a native Texan or a native Arkansan. Anyway, after all these years I’ve come full circle; I’m now a true bona-fide Texan. I’ve established my residency by living here a year and I’ve given up my Arkansas license plate and driver’s license to obtain new ones for Texas. It almost seems a sacrilege to do so after hanging onto them for fifty years but as they say, out with the old, in with the new. I never thought I’d say that in conjunction with this particular subject, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that a person must never say never for life has a way of making one eat crow…and sometimes even like it.

Texas is not a bad place to live, in fact I rather like it. I can’t help but wonder if Bruce was still living if we’d ended up here anyway. But I’m afraid he was too set in his ways to make the change…though a total change was what ultimately decided me to make the move, that and the fact three of my children live here.

I’ve lived in many states and visited many others and I’ve noticed that universally people seem to be very proud of their home state, as well they should be. However, Texans seem to be inordinately proud of theirs; their pride in Texas is as big as Texas itself. Even transplants share some of that pride. And why not? We might as well jump on the band wagon and get in the swing of things with cowboy boots and Stetson hats too, nothing wrong with that. These accoutrements were a necessity in early days to protect the individual from rattle snake bites and sun stroke, though these days they are mostly worn as a fashion statement. Except, of course, on real working ranches which still abound in plenty.

The sunsets here are magnificent, the wild flowers stupendous, the lightning storms brilliant, and the air more often than not is warm…hot. As long as I buy sun screen by the gallon and limit my outdoor activities to early morning and early evening I can truly enjoy my new status of being a Texan. I mean, after all I may actually be a native Texan. And when I buy some cowboy boots and a Stetson hat, I’ll say the transition is complete.
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FLY ZAPPER

House flies have been around since time began and they have always been a nuisance. When I was a child we always had several fly swatters handy and in a pinch we could use a rolled up newspaper with almost the same efficiency. Before DDT was known to be harmful and was banned from use, my father would spray it on the porches and around the house to cut down on the number of flies. Back in those days, many persons living in the country didn’t even have screens on their windows so flies were a real problem. As far as I can remember we always had window screens but they zoomed in each time the door was opened and with several children in the house the doors were opened way too often. Many persons also sprinkled lime around to keep flies, and odors, in check.

If the flies were really bad, sometimes my parents would pay us a penny for each fly we annihilated inside the house. In those days when one could buy a candy bar or a coke for five pennies, killing two or three dozen flies was on par with winning the lottery. My cousins had the same deal going with their parents until it was discovered they were ushering the flies inside before killing them. Oops! So much for their easy money.

Flies haven’t been so bad in recent years even in the country. Where we lived in Arkansas, surrounded by farms on all sides with all manner of animals, we didn’t have to contend with many most of the time. Here in my apartment in Texas, the windows have safety locks so they can only be raised an inch or two at the most. That’s good except when fresh air is desired inside the house for I must then leave the door to my patio open and it doesn’t have a screen. So sometimes I get a fly indoors along with the fresh air.

One of my daughters-in-law got me a fly zapper. I don’t know how many are familiar with this contraption but it was new to me. It looks somewhat like a tennis racket with criss crossing wires. It has a battery and one must hold the on button while swinging the zapper through the air. When it connects with a fly there is a slight pop and viola, a dead fly! Quite an improvement over the simple but effective fly swatter. Don’t you know we children would have racked up the pennies with this handy device….and had lots of fun doing it! Oh my, what’s next in the name of progress?

A RELUCTANT SPENDER

I’ve just come to the realization that I need a new chair. The one that I consider ‘mine’ and that I gravitate to on a daily basis has become less than comfortable. My lower back has been giving me problems but it never dawned on me that my chair might be the culprit…until last week. The chair still looks good [that’s what comes of buying a quality article to begin with] and it’s still usable so I’m very reluctant to spend the money for a new chair. Afterall it’s only 20 years old, barely used, right? Besides it was a birthday gift from my husband.

I guess I’m a reluctant spender. I think, ponder, fret, reconsider, and reconsider again before I finally decide to purchase an expensive article and then nine times out of ten I talk myself out of it. It must be the Scottish heritage in my makeup that causes this phenomenon. My husband was by no means frivolous, he always had two or three savings accounts plus cash stashed in different places around the house but if I wanted something he made sure that I got it despite my objections; I had to be careful about even letting him know I wanted something.

Now that he’s no longer with me I’m finding it extremely hard to make a large purchase. My children tell me to spend my money and be comfortable without thought of leaving any for them but it’s hard to break old habits and overcome the ‘frugal’ gene. I’m not sure that’s even possible or that I even want to.

Anyway, I’m in a quandary now, should I or shouldn’t I? It wouldn’t take much to talk myself out of it. What would I do with my old chair…the one that still looks good? How would I get my new chair home? Alright, I do know about deliveries so that’s not an argument. But there’s the matter of looking for and finding just the right one…the right size, color, fit, etc. It seems more of a chore than I’d like to embark on by myself so the matter is settled. I won’t buy one right now but I’ll continue to think about it, until my back gets a lot worse and then I’ll…..reconsider.

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