It’s that time of the summer, folks. Have any of you caught sight of people putting zucchinis on neighbors porches in the dark of night and running away? There’s only a finite number of things one can do with zucchini before resorting to something almost criminal. A few years ago I wrote about my forgettable introduction to growing those quasi cucumbers. Seemed it would fun to reprint most of it. Hope you enjoy my past pathetic plight.
“With the growing season morphing into harvest time, I thought I’d share one of my horticultural horrors.
What gardener does not have a zucchini story? Here’s mine. Full disclosure, the closest I had ever come to gardening was buying fruits and vegetables from a farmer’s market. Consequently, during my first bona fide gardening experience, I learned, the hard way, the zucchini principle: Never plant more than one zucchini seed, ever ever ever. Of course, in my exhuberant ignorance, I planted the entire packet. There was a song from the 50’s or 60’s about the eggplant that ate Chicago. Then there was some grade B sci-fi movie about killer tomatoes. We had the zucchini that swarmed Centerville. Zucchini vines traversed the entire garden terrorizing all the other vegetables. They wound their way down an incline leading away from the garden, under the clothesline nearly reaching the main road ravaging everything in their path. The zucchini regenerated as quickly as they were picked. The more you picked them, the more prolific they became. Why keep picking them, you ask? If you don’t they just grow larger until they reach the size of torpedoes or small ballistic missiles. Then you need a forklift (or the military) to clear them out. That was my plight.
There are numerous recipes calling for zucchini and a myriad of ways to disguise them in other foods. We ate as much as was humanly possible. When the eating became humanly impossible, we tried giving them away. Of course, no one in their right mind (or left mind) would take any. When I tried to slip some to the pig. She looked at me grunting. Her grunts sounded like, “Are you insane? What, do you think I am bereft of a discerning palate? Get real.”
It was time for Plan B. Okay, I didn’t have a Plan B. Before long, I got the brilliant idea to stack a cord of zucchini in amongst the wood pile. They seemed to blend in very nicely . Hopefully, no one would notice. Ultimately, the beneficiary was the compost, which before long gave the impression of Vermont’s fifth mountain range being formed
FYI. It’s been said that if you are driving through Vermont in the summer, be sure to keep your windows closed. If you don’t, people will throw zucchinis into your car as you drive by.”
Comments are welcome.
Two weekends ago I got a phone call from a very good friend. She informed me that she and 2 other good friends were going to take me out to dinner for my birthday. Say what? It was not my birthday. I told K that my birthday was a few weeks away. She thought it was the next day. Oops. She talked with J and D and they all decided they still wanted to take me out. It felt awkward to me, but it was a very thoughtful, sweet, kind gesture regardless.
Off we went. This was my first dinner out with friends since Covid. It felt both odd and normal at the same time. A very Happy Unbirthday, indeed.
A few days later I was on the phone with a customer service person from my tech provider. As we finished up he said that since he likely would not be speaking to me again he wished me an early Happy Birthday. This has been most unusual. Here I am celebrating unbirthdays. I hope someone remembers when it is my actual birthday.
Thinking about unbirthdays brought me to Alice in Wonderland attending a very merry unbirthday party with the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Dormouse a la Disney. I decided to search the actual unbirthday origin.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published in 1865. However, the unbirthday didn’t appear until 1871 in Through The Looking Glass. It was Humpty Dumpty that schooled Alice in unbirthdays. Here is that conversation:
Humpty Dumpty introduces Alice to the concept of unbirthdays, remarking when she compliments his cravat, “It’s a present from the White King and Queen. … They gave it to me—for an un-birthday present.”
Alice, confused, asks, “What is an un-birthday present?”, to which Humpty Dumpty replies, “A present given when it isn’t your birthday, of course.” However, Alice remains unconvinced, noting, “I like birthday presents best,” prompting the following exchange to occur:
“You don’t know what you’re talking about!” cried Humpty Dumpty. “How many days are there in a year?”
“Three hundred and sixty-five,” said Alice.
“And how many birthdays have you?”
“And if you take one from three hundred and sixty-five, what remains?”
“Three hundred and sixty-four, of course.”
Therefore, remarks Humpty, “There are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents … and only one for birthday presents, you know. There’s glory for you!”
To all of you who are not celebrating an actual birthday, I wish you all a very merry unbirthday. Have presents and cake even if you provide them yourself. You deserve it.
Comments are welcomed.
A soft, buttery shade of yellow that was both vibrant and calming at the same time. That was the color I saw in my mind’s eye when I thought about hope the other day.
There is much turmoil and uncertainty on so many levels in the world these days. Still there is hope because there are those doing whatever they can to bring goodness and restore stability. We have choices. We always have choices. Even when we stand immobile and do nothing, that is a choice. Is that what we want, succumbing to our challenges, not making waves, believing there is nothing we can do? Hope can be the source of what keeps us going rather than the end result. When we choose hope, there are no limits to possibility.
What has kept your hope alive during this pandemic?? What color, sound, smell, music, picture makes you think of hope? If you were to choose a symbol for hope that you could carry around with you, what would it be?
“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there's no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.” Laini Taylor
Comments are welcomed.
Ever since I can remember summer was my least favorite season. The opposite is true, I believe, for most people. Even my birthday is in summer which ought to mean something positive. A birthday is positive any time of the year. So of course, it’s meaningful, but it’s only one day out of 365.
Due to the conditions of the pandemic and being home more than usual, I’ve had lots of time to ponder how this summer might go. As I considered the possibilities, something popped into my mind. The something was a recollection of a children’s book by Judith Viorst entitled The Tenth Good Thing About Barney. I read the book to my daughter when she was young. It was a wonderful story about helping a child deal with the death of a beloved pet. What does this have to do with summer, you ask? I will tell you.
Instead of rehashing and ruminating on the miseries of summers gone by, I thought, “Why not come up with 10 good things about summer instead?” It seemed that focusing on the good things just might establish a template for having a better summer. As I’ve written before, recalling joyful experiences increases well being.
I posted this list last summer. As I’ve been especially bothered by the heat this year, I was looking for some positives. The list still holds true.
10. Reliving some of my childhood rituals with my grandkids like making chains from Dandelion stems and holding Buttercups under our chins to determine if we like butter. Seems I like butter. But then, who doesn’t?
Okay. Those 10 good things are still true this year. However, I must add number 11 which might be number 1 for many. The 11th good thing about this summer is that the lock-down is over and we are gradually returning to normalcy. Even the Blue Jays will finally be back home on the 30th. Whether you are a sports fan or any other kind of fan , let’s not blow this.
Comments are welcomed.
Do you remember the old nursery rhyme, "Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names will never hurt you?" The truth is that words an cause us great pain which can last longer than it takes for a broken bone to heal. In current times this is more true than ever before. In fact, there has been a proliferation of unkind, unsavory, reprehensible words, phrases, ropes thrown around and at people. here is an old Jewish folktale that illustrates the harm of unkind words and gossip.
"The words we use can hurt as well as heal... yet there is more to kind speech than saying nice things.
There was once a man who loved to gossip. He loved the attention it brought him, and could not stop himself from speaking about others, sometimes sharing the good they did, but most often sharing the mistakes they made.
In time, however, he realized the harm his speech was causing, and he sought to make amends. He went to his rabbi and explained the situation and asked how he could make amends.
The rabbi thought for a moment and instructed the man to go to the marketplace and purchase two of the finest feather pillows he could find. He should then take his pillows to the top of the mountain overlooking the village, tear them open, and spill the feathers into the wind.
The man was surprised and pleased at the rabbi's advice. He thought repentance would be much harder than this. So, he ran to the marketplace, purchased his pillows, and within an hour had scattered their feathers into the wind.
He returned to the rabbi all aglow. he was ready to be forgiven for his gossiping. Not just yet, the rabbi told him. there was one more thing to do. he had to return to the mountain and repack the pillows with the feathers he had scattered.
"But that's impossible," the man said. "Those feathers have gone everywhere, there is no way I can take them back now."
The rabbi nodded solemnly and said, "What is true of feathers is true of words. Once spoken they can never be retrieved. The harm caused by gossip cannot be undone."
What is the antidote? One idea that I recently read about involved going back over our lives and making note of everyone that helped us, was kind to us, cared for us. With that acknowledgement we give thanks to each one. This can create a perspective shift to focusing on others' good qualities and helps us let go or ease some of those 'word hurts.' For our own part it might help us to keep the feathers inside the pillow casing.
Comments are welcomed.
What is the first response to a news alert about an impending disaster, catastrophe, pandemic or an alien invasion? The numero uno course of action is to jump into cars, don running shoes, fire up devices and head to Cosco, Walmart, supermarkets, Amazon to participate in the toilet paper panic hording games. The origin of this bizarre phenomenon was the result of a joke that ran amuck in 1973. This was not unlike that famous radio broadcast of the reading of the War Of The Worlds when people freaked out thinking they were under an alien attack.
The situation in 1973 began with legitimate concerns that the country might experience a shortage of gas, electricity and onions (Yes, onions). A congressman issued a statement that there could be a shortage of T.P. After reading that statement, Johnny Carson, then the host of the Tonight show did an opening monologue about toilet paper. The snafu was people took him seriously and started to run out to stock up on toilet paper. The Hording Games were on! The higher levels of anxiety and panic, the greater the stockpiling. Those who were slower to react and found empty shelves, must have suffered a different kind of anxiety and panic.
Here we are almost 50 years later having repeated the same madcap behavior with the initial outbreak of Covid 19. Why am I writing about this? A recent poll asking people what they would do if learning aliens were visiting planet earth. The number one answer? You guessed it, stocking up on toilet paper. When I heard that, I went tumbling down a rabbit hole lined with Charmin, Cottonelle, Cascade, et al. I couldn’t help myself. I had to do a deep dive into the wild and wacky world of T.P. brands as well as the psychology of panic buying.
Here is what I learned in 25 words or more. According to psychology, panic buying is, in part, due to need for control. When everything around us is uncertain and chaotic, the tendency is to stockpile proportionately to the perceived disaster. Having assorted stockpiles seems to provide a semblance of control in an untenable situation.
Moving on. One final item. Did you ever wonder what the brand or type of T.P. is best for your bum and the plumbing? If you are like me, the answer is, no. During my research I stumbled upon that information. In another 25 words or more, here are 2 items on the researchers’ check list which determined top tissue. One, was the feel of the stuff on skin. Another important factor for plumbing longevity was how fast the T.P. disintegrated. The bottom line is Charmin Ultra Soft came out on top. You also cannot go wrong with T.P. made from recycled paper, It disintegrates the fastest. And, no worries, the recycled paper is not previously used toilet paper. Okay, now, I’m done. Go out and enjoy some retail therapy.
Comments are welcomed.
The other day I heard someone compare the pandemic to a marathon. Metaphorically speaking there is something to it. The person was a radio talk show host and recently had a conversation with a promoter who sets up marathons throughout North America. Part of their conversation was about those who quit before finishing their run. Let’s take a 27K marathon, for example. Most people who find they have reached their limit are likely to quit around the 20K mark. If they’ve made it to 26K they are not likely to quit. When people can see the finish line they tend to complete the run.
Back to Covid and the pandemic. The longer this goes on the more difficult it gets to hang in. We are all so weary and fatigued from the past 16 months. I know there are people throwing caution and their masks to the wind. Many are finding it harder and harder to stay the course. Yet, this is not the time to go astray. From what we are told, it would seem we are well beyond the 20K mark. The end is beginning to appear on the horizon. If we can get that second or third or fourth wind, continue to follow the science protocols, I do believe we’ll cross that finish line. The grand prize will be reclaiming the lives we once knew. So worth it.
Comments are welcomed.
Are you happy? What if you were just happier? With what the planet and all of us personally have been going through these past 16 months or so, can we be happy? Happiness is not an either/or situation, rather a continuum. We may not be happy, but we can be happier. We can focus on doing what makes things better, what improves our well being.
Let’s look at the happiness paradox. Studies have shown that happiness is good for us. However, those who value and pursue happiness, may actually find themselves worse off. It becomes a matter of pursuing happiness indirectly through it’s elements. For example, we know that looking right at the sun can be harmful. Yet, if we use a prism and see the sun rays refracted into it’s beautiful colors, we can enjoy the sun through those elements. And so it can be with happiness. What are the elements of happiness that can improve our well being and make us happier. That, of course, is for each of us to decide for ourselves. What might make me happier may not be on your top 10 list. We can assess what will improve our mental, physical, emotional, relational, spiritual well being and do those things that will make us happier.
One last optimistic point. As we come out of the pandemic we can experience resilience 2.0. Resilience is often defined as the ability to bounce back after adversity. In the current condition we have the opportunity to bounce back even stronger gaining adaptability, hardiness, hope and purpose.
Comments are welcomed.