Red Leaves

Celia 1 She stepped off the train in Atchison, weary and vaguely conscious of stares as she made her way to the station, maintaining a firm hold on the well-worn carpet bag she’d inherited from her mother.  The long trip out from New York had sapped her energy and optimism — just getting as far as Chicago had been a daunting challenge in itself — and she wanted nothing more than to find her boardinghouse and sleep for a week, not that she’d be afforded that luxury.

During the layover while arrangements were being made for continuing to Kansas on the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad, she had given serious thought to staying put.  Chicago in 1905, after all, was a place of substance — diverse, full of life and no doubt abundant opportunity.  But she’d made a commitment and when the time came she set her jaw for the Jayhawker state.

In 1887 the state of Kansas had opened the Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home in Atchison, and when St. Patrick’s Catholic Church wrote to the East Coast dioceses some years later appealing for young women of integrity to care for the children, our girl saw an opportunity.  Celia Miller (neé Mianovskis) desperately wanted out of the tenement flat on the edge of a New York ghetto that she shared with her father and two of her five brothers.  She was almost eighteen and beginning to picture herself as an old maid, and she didn’t appreciate the slightly breathless feeling that gave her.  As the baby of the family, whose mother had died as a result of her birth, she’d been spoiled and coddled by her father and brothers, gruff as they all were.  She’d been allowed to avail herself of the bits and pieces of education that were accessible, to ask questions about the world, to dream … now she needed to try her wings but there was no ladder in place for a lower-class girl with ambition.  The Orphans’ Home, ironically, offered freedom, independence, and excitement, three things notably missing in her life to date, and all she had to do to reap those rewards was  travel halfway across the United States, giving up everything she’d ever known.

Her father had told her stories of Lithuania, and her brothers, too, as if they hadn’t been born in America just like she was.  Proud and feeling unfairly disenfranchised by their first-generation foreignness, they pretended to remember, as their father did, a Lithuania before the Tsar, before all the strife, before hunger and relentless hardship.  Their bravado and inventiveness became an important part of the protective shield they tried to form around their small sister.  The brothers thought, and managed to articulate among themselves after a fashion, that if she had a “real” country to believe in, a “real” history to cling to, her own slightly alien persona would matter less to her, and thus come across in a more pleasing way to the people she met.  So their stories were wide-ranging and sometimes fanciful, but always with a lesson underneath.  For instance in Lithuania, they said, there grew something called a tallow tree, with heart-shaped leaves that turned bright red in the fall.  It was a temperamental tree, but once established it was difficult to uproot or control, and tended to eventually overtake the surrounding area.  That one they especially liked, and savoring their cleverness they repeated it to her over the years until it was part of her DNA.  There were other stories, most all of them about being brave, strong, and determined.  She was a lucky girl, our Celia — other brothers in their circumstances might have counseled a fey coyness, a manipulative sort of avoidance, a safe and chaste route through life.  And just so is a life determined.

Papa Mianovskis, baffled from the first hour by his tiny daughter and more so with each year that passed, was anxious to do right by her.  He loved her in his own way and didn’t want her to leave, but life had made him a realist — he knew he had nothing of worth to offer her, not even his continued protection.  He thought she might be beautiful, and he hoped that might somehow save her.  Thus confused, well-meaning, feeling slightly broken by all that had transpired since he last saw his homeland, he blessed her, and with a sob in his throat gave her more money than he could spare, wrapped in a handkerchief from the Old Country, along with his mother’s rosary.  Her two brothers were equally generous, not only with cash earned from prized American jobs, but also with small food bundles and bear hugs.  Her three eldest brothers were long out of the house, living by their wits like everyone else, and Celia knew it was unlikely she would ever see them again.  She wondered if Papa would hug her — he had never done so — but of course he simply patted her lightly on the shoulder, sniffed, cleared his throat, and took out his hankie, swiping it across his mustache before walking resolutely to the door.  It was time for him to go to work, and for Celia’s brothers to get her to the train station by hook or crook and still make it back for their own shifts.

As Celia’s various trains wended their way cross-country toward an entirely new life, she found herself watching for glimpses of red along embankments and in tree copses of every sort.  She was thankful for the benevolence of St. Patrick’s in providing funds for the trip to Kansas, that she would earn a small stipend for her work at the Orphans’ Home, that she would be provided room and board, at least in the beginning, and most of all that her heritage and the caring of family, haphazard as it may have been, had prepared her for life.  She sincerely hoped that was true, as she could only imagine the obstacles and challenges to be faced in an orphanage.  And Atchison — would it be anything like New York?  A red-leafed tree along the way would be just the thing for easing anxieties.  She knew her own heart, she knew she’d been strong under certain circumstances … but what more was life bringing?

Later, she couldn’t recall the details connected to locating her boardinghouse, or exactly how she got there.  She remembered being thankful that she had only the one bag, an ancient Persian once cherished by her dead mother, to safeguard.  She knew she’d had some soup — delicious! — and a night’s sleep on a feather mattress.  And then it was morning, with its eastern Kansas sunrise, and time to see what reality looked like this far from New York.

An officious-looking man collected her from the boardinghouse and trotted her to the orphanage forthwith, speaking not a word on the way.  She tried to think of ways to start a conversation, but the ride was jouncey and her head seemed to still be sleeping after the long journey.  It scarcely mattered, the distance was short and the destination in sight before she could fully get her wits about her.  Atchison, it turned out, was nothing like New York.

Her escort deposited her on the lawn stretching in front of the orphanage and she could only assume she was to present herself at the front door, so she set out on the curving sidewalk, looking around her as she went.  An imposing red brick building, along with others of the same description, how many she couldn’t tell, loomed in front of her.  She shored up her courage once again and had just rounded a shapely hedge when she saw it, ten feet from the main doors — a small tallow tree, its heart-shaped leaves turning from green to shades of red.  Celia Miller caught her breath, paused, and strode forward into her new life, looking for all the world like Papa.  She could not know then that she would marry well, bear children, and live a life of genuine service … but she was on her way, with a small red leaf tucked up her sleeve. tallow leaves                                                             ******************************************************************

**Author’s note:  The preceding is fiction, made up out of whole cloth, based on the photograph of Celia Miller, found while sorting through boxes of family pictures with my two sisters.  The only thing I know about Celia is her name.  Correction, two things:  she was beautiful.  She was clearly connected with Kansas and my family line in some way, and much of my Dierking/Fuhrmann family settled around Atchison, so it wasn’t a stretch to imagine a story for her.  I’ve grown to love her and need to know more …

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Rainy days and holidays …

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The rain … on the plain … leads cruelly to pain … (think Bob Dylan) … but I’m fatally attracted, I’ll never not love rain.  We’ve had buckets of it this spring and summer and our rivers are flowing full and beyond.  The trees are glorious!  Everything’s green and blooming and couldn’t feel more conducive to smiling and laughing and cavorting outside and taking naps.  What is it about an accidental, or entirely on purpose, nap on a soft sunny day that tells us we’ve been kind to ourselves and it’s more than okay?

Yesterday was full of family, food, and fireworks.  Oh, yours too?  And did you have the feeling all day that you could easily nod off and not miss a thing because it would all go right on swirling around you and soaking into your DNA for yet another year?  Yeah, works every time.  All that rain did its thing and produced a perfect day here — blue skies, quiet beauty, and peace, other than the astounding amount of ordnance being detonated all around us especially after dark.  Like true American warriors, we assimilated the audio into our psyches and marched on … through a mountain of burgers and brats, potato salad, baked beans, pasta salad, deviled eggs, guac & chips, an array of cold liquids, and homemade Butterfinger ice cream.  (Not a complete list.)

Little girls lighting pastel-colored smoke bombs with Papa, sets of sisters in three generations being goofy together, bros bro-ing, beer chilling before swilling, everything easy-going and sweet-feeling.  Turns out the America we grew up in … and were pretty sure we remembered … still exists and is way worth saving.  The friends who friend us, the family who love us, the times spent just being together, are still the real stuff, and there are days when you know you’d lay down your life for it.

Happy July 4th, America.  Thank you for your patience and long-suffering while we try to solve the puzzle of being human.  You’re a Good Girl.

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8 Things Way More Deadly Than Marijuana

Judy Smith:

Miss Snarky always nails it in hilarious form.

Originally posted on Miss Snarky Pants:

Marijuana: I'm Not The Monster You Think I Am! Marijuana: I’m Not The Monster You Think I Am!

One by one, as states legalize medical marijuana and/or decriminalize the possession of weed, more and more studies are being conducted and published which support the argument that pot is the very least of our worries, particularly when compared to the scions of legal addiction: alcohol, tobacco and Game of Thrones. In fact, a recent study published in Scientific Reports found that alcohol, in particular, is more lethal than heroin, cocaine, MDMA and crystal meth. This doesn’t mean you should stock up on Sudafed, don your Walter White hat and whip up a batch of Blue Sky. Meth still makes you look like this:

While Less Deadly Than Alcohol, Crystal Meth Won't Land You A Skincare Contract Crystal Meth Won’t Land You A Skincare Contract

However, you may want to consider a move to, oh, I don’t know, Denver. Why? Because in states like Chillin’ Colorado and Wasted Washington, both of which legalized…

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Forget throwbacks …

Throwback Thursday offends my sense of independence so here’s one for Friday — the house where my paternal grandpa was born, near Corydon, Indiana.  In the picture are my great-grandparents George and Salome (Sally) Wagner, my grandpa John, his sister Annie and brother Otto, and their half-sister Teena (always called Teenie, although she never was).  I’d heard stories about the house “all my life,” and when I was in college I drove my grandma there as part of a road trip to visit relatives in several states.  Grandpa had died several years earlier, and on her own after more than 60 years married, Grandma was in want of an adventure.  On the Indiana leg of our trip we took our time locating the house, and found it beautifully cared for by its current owners, much to my grandma’s relief.  The descriptions and tales from my relatives made the yard and outbuildings feel sweetly familiar to me, and the cistern at the bottom of the slope out front where my Wagner kindred stored their perishables was still being fed by the same ice-cold spring.

We humans are so connected to our roots.  Whether we understand it or not, there’s a longing for where and what we came from. Other than not having Grandpa in the car with us, the trip with my grandma was a full-circle experience.  And driving her cross-country broadened my knowledge of her, her life, and her family relationships.  This was highly beneficial for a college girl who didn’t know quite everything yet.

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Memorial Day Reflections

A comment today reminded me of this … I imported it two years ago from my original blog, and I don’t know its age at the time. Suffice it to say that it was written in another time frame and mindset, but I’ve chosen not to edit it … leaving it as is.

A nostalgia piece in honor of Memorial Day …

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During a recent nursery visit to replace trees and plants lost to our western Kansas drought and heat, the greenhouse owner snapped off a king-sized rose bloom and handed it to me. Magically, as soon as I caught its scent, my grandma was there beside me and an entire era presented itself for review.

We grew up across a gravel driveway from my paternal grandparents, on a sweet little farm in the middle of a great expanse of wheat fields and pastures. There were cows and chickens and a big barn populated by sleepy cats, but the best part of the farm was Grandma and Grandpa’s garden. It spanned acres, and included nearly anything organic you could name — potatoes, carrots, onions, radishes, rhubarb, asparagus, sweet corn, peas, green beans, turnips (yucky), strawberries and tomatoes (both of which we were allowed to eat straight off the vine and warm from the sun, taking advantage of the salt shaker Grandma thoughtfully tucked under the leaves); fruit trees including apple, cherry, and peach — and every kind of flowering thing. Peonies, mock orange, baby’s breath, tulips, daisies, columbine, cosmos, daffodils, lilies, phlox, snapdragons … and roses. That list is by no means complete.

All of this was surrounded by hedges that my grandpa kept trimmed and orderly — a tall one across the back, with openings into the orchard beyond, and shorter hedges along the front and sides, with shaped entryways into the three main sections of the garden. Back in a corner, close to the cattle pens, grew watermelons and cantaloupe, sweet and succulent. And a half-mile away, next to an irrigation engine, was a colossal watermelon patch (which became infamous in its own right — a story for another day) that produced enough for all summer and into the fall, including a rollicking annual community watermelon feed.

Outside the confines of the hedges sat my grandparents’ imposing two-story farmhouse, filled with antiques and decades of living, surrounded by a cool green yard with a hammock stretched between two huge cottonwood trees and a rope swing hung from a sturdy branch. The clotheslines where we helped Grandma “hang out a nice wash,” as she invariably declared it to be, stretched across the lush grass.

There was a cement and brick milk house where our dad and grandpa filtered the milk from the cows, skimmed off the heavy cream, and left it all in glass jars to cool in troughs of fresh running water brought up by the windmill anchored next to the building. A battered tin cup hung on a pipe so anyone needing a quick pick-me-up could pump a fresh drink of water any time. That water was life-giving to the farmer coming in off the tractor, the farm wife with an apron full of freshly-picked veggies, or the farm kid tired and sweaty from a hot game of hide-and-seek in the yard. We (my sisters and brother and I, along with cousins and neighbor kids) spent long hours in that yard and garden, held countless tea parties under the towering twin conifers set in the middle of the garden proper, and built more than one fort among the acres of fruit trees and evergreens out back. And on occasion, we worked.

When I think of my grandparents, he shows up in overalls and she’s wearing a homemade housedress and apron, tied at the waist and pinned to the flowery cotton of her dress at the shoulders. And she never went out, hoe in hand, without a handmade sunbonnet. A real lady had creamy white skin, and although Grandma never managed to achieve that standard of beauty, having been born with distinctly olive coloring, she tried. Grandpa, too, protected his head with a well-worn felt cowboy hat that he sweated through in nothing flat.

Thus they went forth every day equipped for work, intent upon it, dedicated to it. Those luscious fruits and vegetables out there in the hot sun were life, and life doesn’t wait. They did their best to corral us, to slow our head-long summer romp through the garden, to foist sunbonnets upon us and thrust hoes and rakes into our grubby little hands. I remember thinking I really should help out more, take more of an interest, learn something while I was at it. But the fork in the big tree behind the milk house was calling my name, my book was still stashed there from the day before, and I was hot and tired and needed a drink of ice cold water from the well …. and I never quite found time to own responsibility and discipline in any discernible way.

There was one time of year, however, when we all pitched in and did our part. I’m ashamed to say, it had a lot to do with the fact that we got paid for our efforts, but, well ….

Every year in the days preceding Memorial Day, my grandparents would cut huge armloads of tightly-budded peonies, wrap them in wet burlap, and store them in crocks of well water in the cool and spacious cement-lined root cellar. Other flowers, too, found their way into crocks, awaiting that early-morning observance at cemeteries around the countryside. Our job as grandchildren was to take old paring knives and snip daisy bouquets in counts of twenty-five, band them and put them into jars in the cellar. It was always a treat to go from the sunny garden to the damp coolness of “the pit,” and Grandma and Grandpa paid us a nickel a bouquet. We were suddenly rich, and Woolworth’s, McClellan’s, and Duckwall’s were a mere twelve miles away.

We somehow gained a sense of having contributed to something very special. The day before Memorial Day, which was known as Decoration Day then, and very early the morning of, neighbors and strangers from surrounding areas started pulling into the drive to collect the big flower baskets and smaller bundles they’d pre-ordered. And many, knowing there was always plenty, stopped by to see what they might pick up. The air had a special freshness about it and people invariably seemed happy and intent on their mission.

I remember feeling proud of my grandma for her ability to grow and arrange flowers into spectacular gifts, and a connectedness to all those people coming to embrace her talents. I felt firmly tied to all the generations being honored on those Memorial weekends, and I still remember snippets of stories from the conversations I overheard.

After all the paying customers had retrieved their floral offerings, Grandma let us kids have the leftover daisy bundles to place on the graves of the nearly-forgotten babies from the 1800s in our small community cemetery a mile from the farm. It always felt like we’d done something amazing by honoring those brief little lives, and the yearly military ceremony conducted by aging war heroes in a sometimes haphazard and ill-fitting assortment of service garb lent added poignancy.

If my grandparents were here now and could somehow read my heart (which I always felt they could), they would be gratified to know how much I actually did learn through their example and the privilege of living in their shadow. Things like hard work, respect for the living and the dead, a certain acceptance that no matter what happens life goes on … these things have stood me in good stead over all the years since Grandma and Grandpa left us.

As with most farmers of that generation they never became wealthy. But the things they passed along to us are beyond price … and well worth consciously appreciating as another Memorial Day rolls around.

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Just give it to me straight …

FACT:  Beneath this happy giving nature is a Selfish Girl.

FACT:  I write almost entirely for Myself.

FACT:  Nevertheless, I’m insatiably curious about who reads what goes out there, and what they like about it, if anything.

FACT:  I would love YOUR feedback, YOU reading this, right now.

FACT:  Not saying I’ll base topic choices on the results of the poll.

FACT:  But I’m genuinely interested in opinions, input, personal feedback, criticisms and witticisms.

FACT:  THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR PARTICIPATION!

Choose up to three categories.

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This is getting ridiculous …

I can’t write, I might as well face it and move on.

It isn’t that I can’t write, I know how, but the words have all gone somewhere else.  Things come to me but I don’t make it to the end of the first sentence and the orphaned drafts are starting to rack up bandwidth.    I have pressure behind my eyes from needing to write something that doesn’t suck, but I sit here every day and do nothing but procrastinate.

Yes, I would like some brie with that whine, be right back …

Wrote that a week ago, walked away from it, looked through some old photos that same afternoon and wrote this.  On Facebook.  Just like that, shazott.  Learned something about myself that’s been knocking around in my head all week, and when it settles into a shape and forms sentences, I’ll share.

So from a week ago …

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Did you get the memo saying PLEASE, NO THROWBACK HUMPDAY PHOTOS??  Neither did I.

This one has layers. Start with where the truck is parked. The blue spruce snuggled up to the passenger side was brought from Colorado, by my grandparents, as a seedling back in ought-whenever because that was perfectly legal then. It grew to many, many feet tall and almost as many feet wide at the base until one day in a storm it simply came out of the ground and assumed a horizontal position, landing on and against the house but wreaking minimal havoc. (Back-story: My grandparents’ house is to the right, where we see part of a roof.)

Then there’s the truck, a fixture of my childhood. It was gray and pretty wonderful, and when my dad drove it to town with the first cutting of wheat to test for moisture content, the gray-dust-covered elevator guys motioned him to drive the front wheels onto the lift, because of course there were no hydraulics under the bed … and then they raised the front of the truck high enough for the wheat to pour out the open tailgate in the back. Which was pretty freaking high to a seven-year-old and he only let me stay in the cab with him once, but not because I cried. I’m pretty sure he decided Mother wouldn’t approve.

Which brings us to the watermelons. Big, dark green, full of luscious red fruit, and juice that ran down our chins and made everything stick to our hands. Every summer, a truckload like this and far more came from my grandpa’s big patch in the middle of a section, next to an irrigation engine. The melon patch was raided one night by a couple of carloads of high school kids — the four girls dropped the four guys off and drove around the section (a square mile), stopping to let their boyfriends stash gunny sacks full of melons in the car trunks. My dad, Grandpa, and a couple of the neighbors, alerted by the sudden rash of traffic in the middle of nowhere, ambushed them in mid-haul, blinded them with spotlights, and panic ensued. The girls drove off, the boys lost their shoes in a field covered in Texas Tacks, and the whole thing ended up in court. My grandpa didn’t mind a melon going missing once in a while, but he held a big feed for the whole township every year and it made him mad that these guys had stolen more than thirty of his prize watermelons and deliberately destroyed a goodly number of the rest just for the hell of it. But it infuriated him even more when he asked the ringleader’s name and the kid said “John Wagner.” That was my grandpa’s name and he thought he had a bona fide smart-ass  in front of him. True story, though, and Big Daddy was an attorney — with the same name. I understand it got fairly comical during the hearing but my grandpa never cracked a smile.  Fun and games. Told you. Layers.

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Parmesan Cauliflower Bites

Not guilt-free, but hey, VEGGIES!

BitesParmCaulBitesFrom Damn Delicious:  http://damndelicious.net/2014/04/04/parmesan-cauliflower-bites/

Oh, look, another TBT …

Bit of a rocky week here, but who has time for that, so suffice it to say I had a sinfully delicious one-hour pedi today administered by a new young friend who makes me extra glad I’m alive.  I’m now wearing My Chihuahua Bites on my toes and you can’t touch this.

And after lunch, which I had no time to eat, I saw my surgeon.  As in eye surgeon.  As in he’s finishing the graft on the 22nd, YAY!   And if I celebrate more right now I’ll cry.  Again.  Some more.  But from relief and happiness in this case.

So, not a bad day — which none of them are if you wake up breathing and make it through to the night-time bedgasm.  Not being naughty, it just feels so amazing to lie down on cool sheets and drift off while Kim rubs my back and spins goofy stories.  Even when life feels like it’s crushing the life out of you it’s pretty damn good.

And it’s Throwback Thursday, so here’s Baby Me before all the blistering sunburns which no doubt fomented the nasty little carcinoma.  And don’t we all, when we feel like crying till we can’t cry anymore, wish we could see our moms again and hug it out?  It isn’t about cancer, nor about looking wonky for at least three more weeks, not at all.  Small potatoes.  For the bigger spuds the week unearthed, my mom’s cool hands and soft voice and pillowy lips would help heal a lot of hurts.  So if your mom’s within hugging distance don’t waste opportunities, please.

I have to tell you that my grandparents would not appreciate seeing their house-in-need-of-paint preserved for posterity.  But life will rip your shorts off if you’re not paying attention, so we’ll call that one small potatoes, too.

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When Easter feels like the pagan festival it is …

The world is a cruel place for dreamers — we tend to be motivated by beauty, kindness, and justice, the biggest pipe-dream of all, and then when the world turns ugly and vicious, as it so frequently does, we don’t even know who to talk to about it.  I mean, I’m as ecumenical as the next person — bunnies and eggs and chocolate and death and whee! so fun how we’ve cleverly combined it all into a little something for everyone!   But when Easter Week coincides with the spectacle of its celebrants disenfranchising an entire chunk of society — people their religion requires them to at least proselytize* if not love — I’m finding it far more honorable to go full-on reality and identify with the original pagans.  I won’t slow you down with the details, so Google is your friend on this one.  I just think those guys didn’t line up good PR, because they actually did a ton of cool stuff and didn’t seem to hate anybody in the process.

So, now I’m seeing “Don’t worry, the Supreme Court will fix it.”  THIS Supreme Court?  You’ve observed them in operation, right?  We’ll leave that right there for now.

And filed under Things That Make Me Go WTF?!  Well, today it’s knowing that a Teabilly with three teeth, one of which is just a baby tooth stuck back in there for luck, who voluntarily smells like a rhinoceros and sleeps with his sister has, as of this week, the legal right to discriminate against, disrespect, disparage, and disgust an intentionally unprotected class of people with whom said Teabilly could not intelligently converse if his or her peapickin’ sorry little life hung by a thread on the success of that very task. And statistically it’s a given that there are gay people within the Tea Party fortress, God help them.  I’m pushing away a thought that maybe they drown them all.

And here’s something we can all file under Things That Count.  Every lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered person covered under this legislation is somebody’s lovey.  Because if I say somebody’s son or daughter you’ll be all “Yeah, yeah, me too, so what?”  No, you heartless jerk, every person on earth deserves to have his or her sweet guts loved out by somebody even if that somebody ends up being solely his or her self.  And more often than sometimes those somebodies are beaten to a pulp and half dead inside, a lot of it self-inflicted, before it’s real that they can love themselves that completely, and if you make a double entendre out of that you officially suck.  This whole thing is so heartbreaking — and so unnecessary for anyone to suffer through.  Once we emerged from the Dark Ages, the question of sexuality should have been a non-issue, so how do we, a supposedly intelligent, enlightened people, find ourselves still looking like frothing idiots?  Never mind, rhetorical.

One more for the Things That Count file.  A bloodbath doesn’t happen overnight, so write this down … homosexuals were among the very first to be harassed in Germany for their “inferiority,” and thousands eventually died in the camps after brutal torture ordered specifically for them.

This one’s a freebie:  If you don’t know what fascism is and you have only so much time, look it up instead of the pagans — they’ll keep.

“If fascism comes, it will not be identified with any ‘shirt’ movement, nor with an insignia, but it will probably be wrapped up in the American flag and heralded as a plea for liberty and preservation of the constitution.” 

James Waterman Wise, 1936 issue of The Christian Century

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*Because if you’re gay you can’t be a Christian, you know.

Spring really is here … right?

Working on a couple of things, but they require me to think so it’s slow going.  Plus spring fever makes me want to sit on my balcony all day drinking various things from coffee to wine while Maddie wanders in and out and sasses the neighborhood.  The Bradford pear trees and forsythia are in bloom, the sun is out, and a Rasta chick just walked down the sidewalk in a barely-there top, skinny jeans, sandals, and a stocking cap over her hip-length dreads.  Rasta chick white.  Cool.  #whymeloveitsomuch

This is Lawrence and how the day feels …

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Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Let’s do a recipe — my kind of recipe …

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Cottage Cheese-Stuffed Potatoes
Serves 4

Ingredients

4 large baking potatoes
1 cup (low-fat) cottage cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Directions

Preheat oven to 425º F and place rack in the center of oven.
Use a fork to prick your potatoes in several places and place directly on oven rack. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until tender.
In a large bowl, mix together cottage cheese and sour cream until combined.
Then add in onions, cheese, dill, chives and garlic powder. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.
Remove potatoes from oven and cut in half lengthwise and across.
Spoon heaping amount of cottage cheese mixture into potato.
Optional: return to oven for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe adapted from Spark Recipes

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Moving on …

Life progresses in loops and whorls, never backtracking but occasionally slipping into neutral.  Gearing up again and finishing a few things is always a thrill, so we’re celebrating the fact that after eighteen months and a half-dozen or more 600-mile round-trips, the condo is EMPTY — and if there are still two things there for other people to get, nobody told me about it, I know nothing.  We’ve re-listed the property with a different agency and an agent who from all indications is a winner — selling the heck out of the town in all price ranges and she’s fabulous to work with.  Keep a good thought for us — this is the last piece of the “Move” puzzle and the only one that didn’t drop into place right away, due entirely to the housing market there.

Rainy and chilly today and we’re in recovery mode.  Kim turned gray at one point yesterday while we were hauling stuff up the stairs, and I’m perpetually not much help at all, in fact “if you need to sit down that’s great but you can’t stand there” is mostly what it’s about for me.  An inhaler fixes his problem but not so simple with mine such as they are.  And Madison, for the first time in our experience, got carsick on the drive home.  Riding in her backseat bed, watching the landscape roll by, head on her paws, making eyes at us and smiling … when we turned around again she was curled in a ball looking like a sad bedraggled little weasel.  Luckily we caught a break in that she never did upchuck the googly bits we shouldn’t have been sneaking her from the road-food bags, and happily this morning her lethargy and ennui have passed.  She’s doing tricks for treats again, and she’s had a bath — there was really no choice, she’d picked up so much dust and dirt while she was “helping” she looked radioactive.  The little mop is sleeping it off now, after giving me the stink-eye about the bath — she loves them but didn’t appreciate shivering and considered us hard-hearted, I’m totally sure.

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May ye’ be completely ate up with the luck o’ the Irish!

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Little St. Paddy’s road trip.  May your day be filled with green beer and laughter …

A man stumbles up to the only other patron in a bar and asks if he might buy him a drink.
“Why, of course,” comes the reply.
The first man then asks, “Where you from?”
“Ireland,” replies the second man.
The first man responds, “You don’t say, I’m from Ireland too! Let’s have another round to Ireland.”
“Of course,” replies the second man.
Curious, the first man then asks, “Where in Ireland are you from?”
“Dublin,” comes the reply.
“I can’t believe it,” says the first man. “I’m from Dublin too! Let’s have another drink to Dublin.”
“Of course,” replies the second man.
Curiosity again strikes and the first man asks,”What school did you go to?”
“Saint Mary’s,” replies the second man. “I graduated in ’65.”
“This is unbelievable!” the first man says. “I went to Saint Mary’s and I graduated in ’65, too!”
About that time in comes one of the regulars and sits down at the bar.
“What’s been going on?” he asks the bartender.
“Nuttin’ much,” replies the bartender. “The O’Malley twins are drunk again.”

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Cinnamon Roll Cake!

Yes, since you’ve all been so good about not making note of little inconsistencies in these trying times … other than that original Bad Girl, Miss Snarky Pants, http://paltrymeanderings.com, who for whatever ungodly excuse has yet to tag me in a new post of her own … we’re running a Sunday Bonus.  Kim made this cake yesterday before the KU/Iowa State game and its gooey buttery brown-sugary goodness gave both of us reason to go on after our team’s unfortunate loss.  You in turn are guaranteed to need this recipe before March Madness ends, and I know you’re thanking me: CinnRollCake Cake: 3 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 c. milk
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. butter, melted

Topping:
1 c. butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. cinnamon

Directions: Mix the CAKE ingredients together except for the butter. Slowly stir in the melted butter and pour into a greased 9×13 pan. For the TOPPING, mix all the ingredients together until well combined. Drop evenly over the batter and swirl with a knife. Bake at 350 for 28-32 minutes.

Glaze:
2 c. powdered sugar
enough milk to make a runny glaze, about 6 or 7 tablespoons
1 tsp. vanilla

Drizzle glaze over cake after letting it cool slightly. Top with vanilla bean ice cream and try not to weep at first bite.

{And although the luscious photo up top looks similar to the Honey-Bun Cake Recipe that’s been enjoying a decent run here … not the same, not the same.  Two cakes, each fabulous in its own right.}

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"How did it get so late so soon?" ~Dr. Seuss

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