Tell Me It Isn’t So

(Photo by Gaelle Marcel-Unsplash)

So a few days ago, I’m at the post office mailing three packages. The twenty-plus-year-old behind the counter asks the usual question. “Anything perishable, fragile, etc. etc.?”

“Nope. Only books,” I say.

She stops and looks at the size of the packages, then the addresses, asking with a confused face, “How many books?”

“Five different books in each package.”

“Really? Going all over the U.S.?”

“Yes. Is that a problem?”

“No. No.” She continues weighing and smacking boxes with stickers and tallying my fees. “It’s just that you’re sending so many books, and I didn’t even read a book cover-to-cover until I was twenty-five years old.”

I try to keep my face under control. “How did you get through—”

She doesn’t even let me finish the question. “Movies. I learned real quick to only use the original version of a movie. Those new versions—they’ve added stuff, then the teacher knew.”

“Okay,” I say, “I’ve got to know, what was the book that finally got you to the last page?”

“Oh, I don’t remember the title. It was just something lying around my Grandmother’s house. I was working at a distribution company, and our work was done by noon. I had to sit there the rest of the day with nothing to do. So I found a book at her house. I picked it because of the red cover. The only reason I read it was because I was bored to death.”

I ask if she remembers the plot. She does. It was a historical murder mystery. She enjoyed it.

“So now you’re a fan of murder mysteries?”

“No. I haven’t read a book since.”

The young man in line behind me edges close, clearly wanting to join the conversation. He butts in, “I know just what you mean. I never read a book until I was twenty-eight.”

Oh, tell me this isn’t so. Again, I’m trying to hold my face in neutral. He’s in a dress shirt and slacks. Both of these folks are native English-speakers and appear to have jobs in which reading is a necessity . Two people in the same afternoon? How common is this non-reading thing? So, I ask him the same question. “What was the book you finally read cover-to-cover?”

“Game of Thrones. I watched the TV series and just had to read the books.”

Two days later and I’m still flabbergasted by this exchange. How could these young folks have gotten to their late twenties never reading a whole book?

And I ask myself, “Well, when did you read your first “real” book? Nine—ten? I spent hours in our local library, waiting for Mom to get off work and helping The Boxcar Children survive another mystery. I still love doing research for novels, meandering among the stacks, sitting on tile floors to inspect the spines on the bottom row, hoping to find a long-forgotten treasure. Maybe my interests would’ve turned out differently if I’d had a phone to distract me back then instead of a book. Who knows?

The month of May kicks off The Great American Read program sponsored by Public Broadcasting.  Across our nation, folks will vote on their most beloved book. I hope you’ll vote, too. I think it might help our country if we encouraged reading more than tweets, texts, and facebook.

Consider Making Reading YOUR THING this month

  • Give books for Mother’s Day.
  • Gift a special book for graduation
  • Pick out your summer reading now, so it’s on your shelf, waiting for your free moments.
  • Revisit old favorites you love. They’re even better the second time around.

Change the world. Encourage reading. (photo by Ben White-Unsplash)

Perhaps I shouldn’t draw conclusions about young people and reading based on such a small data sample. But I left the post office, asking both of  the twenty-somethings to keep searching for that next book, telling them, “There’s a book out there that’ll change your world.”

I truly believe that.

Thanks for reading!!!!!!

What was the first book that made an impact on you?

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Posted in Appreciation, Change, Choices, Life, Literature, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

How To Take A Viking River Cruise: Part 2

OR…Do A Grouch A Favor

Yes, I’m in the middle of a story. If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.

Refresh your memory, then come back because, you need to know that in the U.S. February 16th is “Do A Grouch A Favor Day.”

Keep this in mind because I was in a grousing mood when I left Amsterdam and began cruising the Danube in a Viking ship. It didn’t take long for me to start bellyaching about the “confined” feeling of the ship. Occasionally we got off to traipse around a castle, and then we resumed floating past many, many more castles. I was trapped, listening to the stories of somebody’s brother’s health problems, or Aunt Whowho’s cake decorating business, or tales of “my son, the successful doctor.” (Shoot me now.)

Escape was difficult. The exercise deck was flattened. (Literally). Chairs, railings, and posts had been folded, hugging the top-deck so the ship could pass under low bridges and locks. You could sit (or pace like I did–inside) and watch the world go by.

But in Melk, Austria, the ship’s tour director arranged a treat for me and Dallas-Cowboy-Fan. A company close to the docks rented bikes. We checked in on-line, and the company sent us the combination of the bike locks. We unleashed our sturdy wheels and off we rode.  Our mission was to beat the ship to Krems, twenty-five miles away.

Now…a word about these bikes…when I say sturdy…I mean…like tanks.  Each bike weighed 40 pounds, had 3 gears with only back-pedaling to stop. But I was glad to be free, doing something, exercising, exploring. (Yahoo!!!!)

We took off like children at recess. About 4 miles out of town we pushed our wheeled-freighters up a hill to a bike-bridge over the Danube.

A group of cyclists we’d seen in town passed us, laughing about our WWII era bikes. It was the first of many snickers about our rentals. But I was glad to have the sturdy steed beneath me as we rushed down the concrete bike bridge, 3/4 mile long, picking up speed until we were flying over the Danube around 30 m.p.h. My stocking cap, which was in the front basket flew out, and I snatched it mid-air, petrified I’d somersault into the river and die if I took my hands off the handlebars again.

Orchards and Vineyards of Wachau Valley. Danube in the background

We should’ve taken pictures from the bridge, but neither of us were sure our gears wouldn’t strip if we tried to stop. The path turned into a winding trail through miles of countryside. Shrines of The Madonna or Jesus stood in vineyards or at the entrances/exits of tiny villages (prayers for a good harvest and blessings.) People were friendly, except the two old fraus in leggings who looked at us as though we were riding dead chickens.

The boat had already docked by the time we reached Krems. As I pushed my bike past it, a man asked me to take his picture in front of the boat. I told him, “Ich spreche kein Deutche.” (I don’t speak German). He cocked his head, confused.  “Keiner?”  (None?) I shook my head and continued looking for the kiosk where we could  self-check-in our bikes and stop the clock ticking up the fee of 5 Euro an hour). (It had taken us 4 hours. Okay…we stopped and ate and drank a little along the way.)

In 5 minutes, we got back to the ship. The man was still there, admiring the boat. I felt like a donkeybutt for being unkind after such a glorious ride. “Willst ein foto?” (Want a photo?) I asked him. “Ja wirklich?” (Really?) he asked.

I nodded and he handed me his camera and began waving and calling people sitting on the benches. Aunts, uncles, grandma, kids…ten people hurriedly assembled in front of the gangplank, with the red Viking banners proudly waving on either side of them.

And that’s when the trip changed.

I’d been pacing, walking hallways, wanting to get off that ship. In front of me were ten people, hoping, dreaming that someday, they’d get on that ship and go somewhere else. Until then a picture would have to do. It would sustain their hope of someday.

And then they gave me a kindness. I asked for their story, and they shared it. They told of their time of living in eastern Europe, of bananas as birthday presents (because they were rare), of cotton shortages and only polyester clothing, of Levis that were 2 week’s wages on the black market. When the wall fell, they made it out. Life was better—GOOD!  But someday…

My grouchiness died right there with the dawning that I was blessed. Fortunately, that gift has mostly stayed with me.  When I have too much to do, or hate our politics, or don’t want to cook another frickin’ meal, I’m back standing on that dock, seeing the world through their eyes.

So … how do you take a Viking cruise (or any journey)?

Yep, I’m going back out with Viking and try it again. A different river. Different countries. Different attitude. Instead of clothes, I’ll worry about being be more alert, watching, looking for how we’re all different or the same. I’ll write stories when I can’t exercise. Maybe I can ditch my expectations  (connections, weather, and grumpy peeves I drag around).  And heaven help me, I’ll learn to listen, especially when I hear  Auntie Whoever say, “my daughter, the successful banker….” (but honestly, I’ve already got a list of topic-changing questions in my pocket).

And if my attitude fails?

That’s where you come in. Remember, “Do A Grouch A Favor” Day?  February 16th? There’s no reason it can’t be extended. Nothing kicks butt out of a bad attitude like receiving a kindness. If you run into someone cranky like me, please take a moment to be kind. Sure, the person doesn’t deserve it, but your small gentleness will help the healing. (Trust me). And….who knows what changes will come? That grouch may carry the thought of you with them for months and perhaps over an ocean miles way.

Practice grace, everyday.

But especially on Feb 16th. Please come back and tell me what you did for a grouch.

And we continue the journey….

 

Posted in A Laugh, Appreciation, Change, Choices, Traveling, Worries | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

How To Take a Viking River Cruise–Part 1.

It’s been a while since my last post. We have a bit of catching up to do.

Amsterdam-The Brower Haus built in 1737.

Last Christmas, we decided we’d save our bucks for  anniversary, birthdays, and  Christmas and give ourselves an international  experience in the upcoming year instead.

Okay, we were probably watching too much Public Broadcasting. The beguiling violins and cellos of the Viking Cruise song lured us like sirens … and shoot, darn, heck, who doesn’t want to travel to foreign places to learn to knead bread, make pancakes, and run between the blades of the windmills. (Okay, maybe not that last one.) We signed up.

The Grand European Tour: Amsterdam to Budapest

1. PACK TIGHT:  I’m a small packer, traveling with a carry-on and a backpack. Of course, I look like a charwoman most of the time, but when I’m traveling, I figure I’ll never see these folks again, so why risk a dislocated spine?

But on a river cruise, you DO see these folks. Everyday. Every night. Almost  every meal. Almost every tour. So here’s a travel-secret: Use the JEANS-TECHNIQUE: No one is sure if you’ve previously worn your jeans, OR if you’ve got on a fresh pair…so you could probably do a 15-day trip with 2 pair of jeans.  Unfortunately, my jeans look like they should be made into Raggedy Ann dolls, so I simply packed black clothes. I looked like Johnny Cash with a scarf. The good news is that no one cares what you wear (unless you’re naked). These trips are pretty laid-back.

Keisergracht (Kings Canal) About 15,000 bikes end up in the canals each year.

2. ARRIVE AT YOUR DESTINATION EARLY: I have a lot of talents. Most of them are useless (like counting backward in Pig-Latin or juggling sponges), but my favorite skill is being able to sleep on airplanes. I snap on noise-canceling headphones, a blindfold, warm socks, blanket, air pillows, nearby snacks, water, and Chapstick, and I’m snoozin’ by the time we reach mid-Atlantic ocean. I arrive only slightly less jet-lagged than Dallas Cowboy Fan, who has watched four movies through the overseas flight. HINT: We try to arrive early and soak up sunshine in our new locale; it’s supposed to help the body reset. I don’t know if it works because every time I sit in the sun, I fall asleep like a cat in a warm spot.

3. PREP BEFORE YOU GO:

Yeah, sure, the cruise folks provide local lectures and tours in every town.  But these are

Whaddya mean these are Dutch pancakes??

the usual touristy stuff. If you want to mix it up with the locals, you’ll have to find your own adventures.  And honest-to-Pete, our unplanned forays were some of the best parts of the trip. (See Part 2-coming)

4. TAKE SOMETHING TO DO:

Why?  Because you’ll be spending A LOT of time sitting around, watching the scenery go by.  Yes, most of it is lovely and interspersed with the squeaks of going through 67 locks, but it’s like being at a party for 2 weeks with strangers. People start hauling out cards, board games, dominoes, or telling you about relatives that you may (or may not)  care about.  One experienced traveler brought his taxes to work on; others brought knitting, puzzles, Kindle readers stuffed with books, journals, and several brought work from their offices. (There’s a lot of down-time).

5. SETTLE-IN:

Unpack in your cleverly engineered room. You’ll be pulling up to the food tanks about

Don’t worry about language. This sign means (If you stand on this open air bus, you’ll lose your head.

every 4 hours During this cruise-time, Viking will treat you like a queen or king. So IF your ideal vacation is eating and visiting OR not having to cook, do housework, or laundry, then you’re going to be very very happy. IF you need to be a bit more activity… you’ll need to come up with a plan.

Of course, not all plans turned out like we expected. We’re in a different country, don’t speak the language, and can’t read the signs. What could go wrong? But that creates the great memories of travel.

Merry Christmas…may you have a few surprises among your presents.

“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” 
― Anita Desai

PART 2:

TOURIST OR TRIP WARRIOR?…or

IF IT’S TUESDAY, IT MUST BE—HEY! WHERE ARE WE NOW?

in HOW TO TAKE A VIKING CRUISE

 

 

Posted in A Laugh, Appreciation, Change, Humor, Traveling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

How to Survive Your Spouse’s HighSchool Reunion or “I’m Ready For My Close-Up, Mr. DeMille”

Hey!  Let’s go on a book tour…and add relatives, and people we haven’t seen or kept track of in years and years. Won’t that be fun?

 

First Stop:  A Texas High School Reunion. (Go Eagles!!)restricted-in-dallas-2015

Now, I’m sure many of you have attended your mate’s/partner’s/good friend’s soirees in which you didn’t know a soul besides the bartender, and that was only because you stood, yakking at the bar all evening and tipped him for listening.

So follow these dandy tips to really enjoy this type of shindig.

  1. DON’T WORRY ABOUT A THING. Everybody has been crammed through the AGE Machine. They’ve been cleverly disguised in layers of lasagna, worry, and hair dyes.  Participants aren’t sure who’s the alum  and who’s the spouse.  Hide your name tag, and tell yourself, you can be anybody you want to be.  Try out a few alternate personalities.

    IMG_1983

    Ha.Ha.Ha. No…this wasn’t one of the personalities I chose, but I rarely get to use this photo, and it’s Christmas…so here it is.

2) HAVE A PLAN. My plan was to talk to anyone sitting alone and photo-bomb as many pictures as I could. Two photographers had been hired to mill through the crowd getting as many “casual” photos as possible of the alums. So using the advice of Rule #1, I tried out my Kim Kardashian personality and stuck my head into every group photo I was close to. Often I dragged whoever I was talking to into the photo also.  (Remember in high school only the cool kids made it into  casual pics throughout the yearbook?)  HA.HA. Well me and my “I-only-had-one-picture-in-the-yearbook” new-friends made it into many photos this time. (I snagged 10 all by myself and I’m sure  the Reunion Planners are saying to themselves right now, “Who in the heck is this? Was that Betty Lukas? “No, I think it was Krissy Bell.”)

3) DON’T FOLLOW ALL THE RULES.  Oh, good grief, you didn’t follow the rules in high school, so why are you acting like an old fart and doing what you’re told now?  Remember, you can legally drink now (but your liver may tell you otherwise). But wait a minute….maybe you were one of those kids who DID follow the rules?  Well, remember RULE #1: You can be anyone you want to be.  So let loose a little.  Ask somebody you don’t know to dance.  Start a card game in the corner.  Talk someone into doing karaoke with you.

4) HAVE OTHER PLANS BESIDES JUST THE REUNION.   Seeing people you haven’t kept up with or even exchanged a Christmas card with is fun for a little while, but don’t make it the center point of your excursion.  Dallas Cowboy’s reunion was a hoot, but if it had turned out to be a flop we still had these exquisite adventures to bookmark our memories.

dallas-highways

Dallas Cowboy Fan and I visited the concrete wonder that is Dallas.  Most of the time we found ourselves parked on the LBJ Freeway amazed at the modern art called, Our Interstate Highway System, and we learned the interesting hand signals Texans use to communicate with each other.

Dallas Cowboy Fan affectionately named our little rental, Gutless. It had the pick-up-and-go of a wisk broom and was quite a joy because it often earned us a few hand signals.

The little Kia Rio made it into EAST Texas and every Sonic Drive-In along the highway.

 

So…it’s true.  You can have great memories of a high school reunion, or any party where you don’t know anyone.

Just remember…for the upcoming year…

You can be anyone you want to be!

Bless Sonic Drive in. In a tiny Texas town they, let me be a carhop for a while.  Unfortuantely, I didn't get to wear one of those ka-ching money changers.

Bless Sonic Drive in. In a tiny Texas town they, let me be a carhop for a while. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to wear one of those ka-ching money changers.

Posted in A Laugh, Change, Choices, Hope, Humor, Life, Satire, Smiles, Traveling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 37 Comments

My Arm Isn’t Long Enough to Get Cell Phone Service

https://unsplash.com/search/luggage?photo=3yzE1SUfbwY

Yeah, let’s just pretend this is me and I’ve got legs like that. (Photo by Amos Bar-Zeev-Unsplash))

We’ve been traveling for the last 30 days.

Two rental cars, 3500 miles, and eight states later, we’re back home, and I’ve got stories of bumfuzzled bathrooms, bad hotels, and bawdy folks we met on the road.

So for the next few months…you’ll be on the blog road with me, looking at how we’re all weird,  wonderful, and different and yet the same in the strangest ways.

It accidentally turned out that some of our traveling buddies were Australians.  We’d run into them in the strangest places. It seems that their summer was just beginning and they joyfully chose to spend it in the largest and smallest towns you can imagine in the U.S.  It was quite a hoot exchanging cooking techniques for grits, okra, and kangaroo.

But first…let’s talk about cell phone service.

You Need To Know This If You’re Traveling Soon

I don’t care how many color-spotted maps flash across your TV screen, let me tell you, there are LOTS of places in the U.S. which show NO SERVICE or limp around with one puny bar.  Many, many times on the trip, I scanned the countryside like Custer checking for silhouettes on the horizon.

“STOP!!!” I’d scream at Dallas Cowboy Fan, if I saw a tower and a signal bar appear for a brief moment as we topped a hill.I’d stand outside the car, which Dallas Cowboy Fan nicknamed “Gutless” and wave my phone over my head. If I was lucky, I could call a motel. If I wasn’t lucky, we’d find ourselves at the local Burro Inn for the night.

Sometimes I couldn’t spot a cell tower anywhere.  But then I discovered why.  There’s a new trend to hide those ugly ol’ towers. I only looked for towers that appeared as poles with panels on the top. If they appeared like any of the ones below, I missed them (and so did my phone).

Photo via J.Drew on Reddit

Tucson Tower (Photo via J.Drew on Reddit

Photograph by Aggie Phil at Waymarking.com

College Station, TX (Photograph by Aggie Phil at Waymarking.com)

Epiphany Lutheran Church, Lake Worth FL (Photo by It1224-Wiki)

Epiphany Lutheran Church, Lake Worth FL (Photo by It1224-Wiki)

Photograph by Robert Voit (Amazing Planet)

I’m not sure where this is, but it isn’t fooling anybody. (Photograph by Robert Voit (Amazing Planet)

So if you see me beside the road waving my phone at

  • a palm tree
  • a billboard for a buffalo ranch
  • a pile of rocks

Just know that I’m not completely crazy. I’m trying to beat all the Australians to a hotel reservation for the night.

More next month on our adventures with Gutless

Posted in A Laugh | 25 Comments

Put on Your Flying Pants

For a change…(You know how I like to discuss change)…instead of  ramping up this month with darkness, black cats and all things creepy.

I thought I’d hold up one example of the beauty of our nights.

Of course, you’ll have to put on your flying pants…but NASA has made that easy.

Sit back, watch, and when things get dark in my life, I try to remember it’s all a matter of perspective.

Look for:  Green-Northern Lights
White-Lightning

Thank You NASA

Images: http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/
Music: ‘Freedom Fighters’ by Two Steps from Hell

Posted in A Laugh | 18 Comments

Frankly My Dear….Put on Your Bloomers and Get to Work

Stuff you can live without, but might buy anyway. (Photo by Sebastian Dooris)Speaking of change…(which I do often),  a couple times a month I work at an adventure clothing store. Mostly I chitter-chat,  and listen to others’ tales.  It’s a writer’s haven for character studies.

But every now and then, there are days that I’d rather be in the sunshine than caged in a store. In other words. I don’t want to work that day. Last Tuesday  as I trudged and groused to work, I passed a poster of Rosie the Riveter and blamed her. After all, it was the stalwart women of WWII  who changed the workforce of America.

EXCEPT…THEY WEREN’T THE FIRST

What??? This is like discovering the earth isn’t flat, or objects aren’t made out of particles. (They’re made out of wave packets).

Frances Clayton fought as Frances Clalin (Library of Congress)

Well…it turns out … it was the women of the Civil War who were the first adapters of getting off the ol’ plantation and into the workforce. Because both North and the South thought the skirmish would end quickly, men signed up in droves. If they didn’t, young ladies in Texas handed out hoopskirts and bonnets to men who didn’t enlist.

And women did their duty, too.  It’s estimated that around 400 women disguised themselves and signed up to fight. Some enlisted so they could stay with their husbands. Others worked as spies and nurses.

That left the rest of the women  to keep the farm/plantation and home fires running.

AND THEN REALITY SET IN

Arlington by Mike Boswell

Arlington by Mike Boswell

Homes were shelled. Farms and foods were taken over by the military. Over 200,000 women and children were forced to move as the Union worked their way south. The early Rah-Rah-Rah of patriotism stuttered to a halt. Attitudes CHANGED! Many Southern women now felt the war was a betrayal by the men who’d left them.

Eventually, these gals did what  steel magnolia do…went to work. Goodbye hoopskirts and fancy hair. (Because there were no slaves to yank corsets tight and pin up tresses.)

Hello …

  • Wearing Bloomers
  • Wearing Shorter hair
  • Doing Field work (plowing, planting, milking, cooking)
  • Running what was left of the company business (if there was one) (Go get ‘em Scarlett!)
  • Working in Government clerical jobs.
  • Doing piecework for the Confederate Clothing Bureau (Shirts $1 each, Coats $4)
  • Packing cartridges at the arsenal ($1 a day)

And their misery didn’t end with Robert E. Lee’s surrender. A quarter of the men had been killed, a quarter had been wounded and broken.

ATTITUDES CHANGED AGAIN

Now cultural pressures urged Southern women to do their duty by marrying veterans, especially a man who had a missing arm or amputated leg.

North or South, many women found they must now work. Their way of life in which someone took care of them was broken.

 THE WORLD HAD CHANGED.

3806547748_36c13a0c22_m

And if you don’t have the chicken fried and the ironin’ done by the time I get home from work, Rhett, I’m breaking every bottle of your boot-legged beer.

So next time you’re grousing about work, thank the fictional Scarlett O’Hara for putting on  her big-girl bloomers and doing what needed to be done.

(That’s what women have been doing for centuries.)

Resources: America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins.

Posted in Appreciation, Change, Humor, Women, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Ending the Summer with Weird

Here’s another thing you’ll have to explain to me…

By Sergey Zolkin

By Sergey Zolkin

Hair has become the new art medium. I understood why Tom Hanks used his hair to weave a rope in The Castaway , but why….

Are people using their hair to weave hats and coats? Knitters? Weavers? Help me out here.

As much as I hate sending you somewhere else to look at this weirdness … there’s too many pictures of it.

Take a peek then please stagger back here because I really want to know….

How would you feel about wearing a human hair vest?  

Posted in Change, Choices, Enough, Humor, Life, Satire | Tagged , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

A Tube of Tea, please?

I don’t get it.

You’re going to have to explain it to me. Sure, sure, when it comes to a hot day on the beach nothing’s better than a cooler of drinks. You’ll find me head down, bottom up, clawing through layers of chipped ice, looking for a soda.  I used to drink beer, but it just gives me a headache and flabby gut now.

Sometimes I run into bottles of home-brewed root beer  or sparkling peachy ciders. Heavenly Hoopla. Pop the top on that! ! It doesn’t take a huge effort to make home-sodas. You can start a batch of ginger ale tonight and be drinking it by tomorrow evening.

But what in the name of summer holiness is canned tea?  Why would anyone want to can the stuff?

Every time I run across a 99 cent, 23=ounce tube of canned  tea, I scratch my head. For 99 pennies,  I can brew up enough tea juice to satisfy a work gang. It’s not rocket science.

See the great explanation of this stuff at: bubbleteaology.com

I understand you may have to pay more for novelty gunk thrown into tea like: those chewy boba tapioca balls in bubble  tea (which have NO flavor or nutritional value whatsoever).  But that’s still only tea, sugar, cream, and tapioca bobas.  No mystery there—just chewy lumps in your sugared drink.

Dallas Cowboy Fan and I recently went into an artisan tea shop located in a caboose which was curiously parked no where near a train. The lower walls of the train car were stuffed with clear quart jars of “tea debris.” We dutifully smelled and sniffed sticks, leaves, and berries. Then we climbed ladders to sit 6 feet up in tiny booths to enjoy our cups which were 8 oz, $5 each, (which was a bit unnerving, but I think the the zen music was supposed to even out my tea confusion.)

And yet, I’m still befuddled about canned tea. For example, the Arizona tea company reported a billion bucks in sales last year for their fructose/water/tea mixture.

A couple of years ago, the uber-secret recipe was for Coca Cola was published by This American Life who’d found it  inadvertently displayed in a graphic accompanying an old ad. Coke denies it. They still maintain the “current” recipe is in the vault and only 2 executives know the formula and those two people can never travel together.

You can look at the recipe here. It’s rather tedious. I’d just buy a can instead of going through all the work to denature cocoa leaves.

So just for you, dear readers, and for the sake of cookery journalism, I’m going to reveal the ULTRA-X secret recipe of MeeMaw’s Summer Tea

  • Throw  5-8 bags of tea in a gallon jug of water.
  • Screw the lid on so the bugs, wasps,  and muddobbers don’t take a dip.
  • Set in sunshine 3-5 hours (depends on how hot it is. Go by the color).
  • Sweeten to taste.

Sorry canned tea companies if I put you out of business. It’s just that some changes (like canned tea) will have to be explained to me.

‘Fess up!! How many of you are tubed-tea-drinkers?

Posted in A Laugh, Cooking, Humor, Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

A Man’s Candy Bar

In addition to graduations and strange U.S. national holidays: National Bubba Day (June 2nd), National Moonshine Day (June 5th), and National Paul Bunyon Day (June 28th), the month of June hosts Father’s Day(always the third Sunday in June).

So, I decided to get Dallas Cowboy Fan and Scout some sweet snacks, but it has to be manly candy. The stuff they can stick in a golf bag/ backpack/toolbelt/ fishing vest/ coveralls/ spacesuit and eat when it darn well pleases them.

I scanned candy sales and man-blogs. Here’s what men are chomping after their beer and BBQ.

wasabi kit cat

A wasabi-flavored Kit Kat

5: Kit Kat
A worker at Rowntree’s York factory suggested the company produce a “snack a man could take to work in his pack.” The bar was born in 1935 “as the best companion to a cup of tea.” It went through name changes and packaging changes, but after WWII settled on the present-day red wrapper and branding. If you live in Japan, you’ll be familiar with over 200 flavors of KitKats: ginger ale, soy sauce, and banana, etc. They are often bought as good luck gifts because “Kit Kat” sounds close to the Japanese phrase “Kitto Katsu” (a knock off of “sure to win”)

Source: KitKat.com, TheHersheyCompany.com, SymphonyIRI Group

 

Number 4: Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar

Thank Milton Hershey for wanting everyone (not just the rich) to enjoy chocolate. In 1894 he set up his factory in Pennsylvania and charged a nickel for a bar. It helped that he had a contract with the U.S. Army, sending 30 pound blocks to the troops overseas. Soldiers continued buying the nickel bars after they returned home.  (SideNote: Hershey’s also makes Kisses, allegedly so-named because that’s the sound the machine made when smooching out chocolate blobs during manufacturing).

Resource: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hershey_Company

Number 3. Snickers

Introduced in 1930, it was named after a favorite horse in the Mars family. High in protein with dairy and at least 16 peanuts, it’s gained notoriety lately by being a deep-fried treat in Scottish fish and chip shops and U.S. state fairs. Celebrity chef, Antony Thompson, created a Snicker’s pie, containing 5 of the candy bars and each slice providing over 1,250 calories.
Resource:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snickers

Number 2. Reese’s Peanutbutter Cups

Harry Reese was actually a shipping foreman for Mr. Hershey, but here’s another reason it’s a Man-Candy. Ol’ Harry said, “Well, heck, I can make candy and millions, too. He followed his dream, working out of his basement in 1923. In 1963, after he’d gone to the great chocolate factory in the sky, his six boys took stock shares in leiu of cash and merged into a subsidiary of Hershey’s. In 2013 after 50 years of stock splits, the original shares are valued in excess of a billion, kicking out $31 million annually in cash dividends. (Way to celebrate Father’s day, huh?)

Resource: Wiki-Reese. Photo-Hersheys.com

Number 1.    M&Ms

Most folks know the story. The candy was copied from British-made Smarties (chocolate pellets surrounded by “hard panning” to prevent the chocolate from melting in soldiers’ pockets during the Spanish Civil War. The son of Mars Co. (Frank Mars) and the son of the prsident of Hershey Choc. Co.,  William Murrie, combined forces hence the M and M.  The agreement used Hershey chocolate which was advantageous because Hershey had control of the rationed chocolate during 1930. Brand Marketing is quite aggressive with the “spokescandies” turning up everywhere, so it’s fun to note one very important missed opportunity.

In 1982 the company rejected the opportunity to be in a new Steven Spielberg movie, E.T., so Hershey’s took a chance with their Reese’s pieces. It’s estimated that Reeses’sales increased 300% due to blockbuster exposure.

Resource: wiki M&Ms

You know I write about change

… and obviously June holidays have changed, but whether you’re celebrating, National Onion Ring Day, (June 22nd) or National Sunglasses day (June 27th) get the guy nearest you a candy bar and tell them one of these stories.

Photo by Liane Metzler

Photo by Liane Metzler

Posted in A Laugh, Appreciation, Change, Choices, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments