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Perfectly Awful & Awfully Perfect May 31, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Food & Drink, Humor.
50 comments

I met someone perfectly awful at the potluck last night.

She reminded me of Dale Carnegie . . . if he had an alter-ego or an evil twin.

Her unauthorized biography will be titled, How to Lose Friends and Annoy People.

In her mid-70′s, wearing a skimpy halter-topped dress (which left little of her sun-toasted and roasted skin to the imagination), she referred to her weight throughout the evening . . . as she sneered over her sunglasses at people for eating the buns on burgers, the pasta in salad, and the delectable homemade strawberry ice cream.

Guzzling wine like water, she pronounced with an imperious wave, “I never eat white bread.  Or sugar.  Or pasta.  Or ice cream.”

Hmm . . . I guess she prefers her carbohydrates in liquid form.

Wikipedia ~ Strawberry Sundae (in Public Domain)

Offered a small dish of ice cream, she screeched in horror!

Not mock horror.

Actual horror.

Waving her tanned hands down her trim facade, she shrieked, “I can’t eat THAT if I want to look like THIS.”

No doubt mistaking my gaping mouth as admiration for her will power and self-restraint, she leaned in to share her secrets with a captive, though not entirely captivated, audience.

“I walk.  Every morning.  Eight miles.  And I play tennis.  Every day.  And I volunteer.   Every week.  At six different places.  I believe in giving back.  The world would be a better place if we had more people like me!”

Then, sniffing in my general direction, she lifted her chin in challenge, “WHERE do YOU volunteer?”

“I’m on the mangrove committee.”

“The mangrove committee?  Here?  In the neighborhood?  That doesn’t count.”

“It doesn’t?”

“Of course not.  It’s in the neighborhood.  You NEED to volunteer OUTSIDE the neighborhood if you want to give back.”

“Oh, I didn’t know that.”

170px-alice_par_john_tenniel_30Rolling her eyes at my obvious ineptitude, she said, “You NEED to volunteer at Robinson Preserve.  At least one day a week.  For at least four hours.”

“Really?  Why is that?”

“So you can learn about the native plants in the area.”

“Oh, right.  Plants.  Actually, that’s why I volunteered for the mangrove committee . . . to learn about the plants.”

Ignoring me, “I’ll tell you WHO to contact about volunteering at Robinson.”

“Oh, I know quite a few of the volunteers and rangers at Robinson . . .”

Glaring at me, “YOU?!  WHO?!  Who do YOU know at Robinson?”

“Katharine and Mike, Aiden, Melis . . .”

Scoffing audibly, “Katharine and Mike?!  THEY’VE only volunteered there for THREE years.  I’ve been there for SIX!”

“Well, I guess I better get started if I’m ever going to catch up with you.”

As I said, she was perfectly awful . . . or maybe just awfully perfect.  I wonder if she and Wonder Woman’s Evil Twin are related.

Related post:  Granny’s Sodden Sunday  . . . The Irony of Dying Healthy

Better Than Bush Baked Beans May 30, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Special Events, Vegetarian Recipes.
Tags: , ,
34 comments

Medieval_kitchenYou’ve been lounging around all weekend.  Later today,  you’re planning to attend a Memorial Day Potluck to honor War Veterans who have served our nation.

Ack! What should I make?
I don’t know what to take
I don’t have much bread
And I feel half dead
I know . . . let them eat cake

As you scan the pantry, you spot a lone can of baked beans hidden behind three boxes of stale cereal.

Perfect!

No.  Not the stale cereal . . . the beans.

Better Than Bush Baked Beans

1 28 oz. can of Bush Vegetarian Baked Beans (or your favorite)
1 Tbsp. leftover black coffee
1-2 Tbsp. Heinz ketchup
1-2 Tbsp. chopped onion
1-2 Tbsp. finely chopped green pepper
1-2 Tbsp. Vermont Maple Syrup (or brown sugar)
1 tsp. minced garlic (or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder)
1-2 tsp. mustard
dash of Worcestershire sauce

Pour baked beans into an oven-proof casserole dish.  Stir in any of the other ingredients that you have on hand.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-60 minutes until bubbling.

Baked beans are an inexpensive way to get some healthy and delicious fiber into your diet!  They go great with almost anything that comes off the grill, and pair nicely with grilled cheese sandwiches or subs.

Sausage, Bean and Apple Bake:  Sauté a pound of Hot or Sweet Italian Sausage with a chopped green pepper and 4-5 chopped apples.  Add the sautéed ingredients to a 28 oz. can of beans.  Bake 1-2 hours at 300 degrees.  Accompany with hot out of the oven Cornbread.

If you prefer a “from scratch” recipe:  Boston Baked Beans (Rufus’ Food & Spirits)

Happiness Resides Within May 29, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Humor, Mindfulness.
Tags: , ,
54 comments

Happiness is the goal behind all goals.  We all desire more happiness and less suffering. 

But, when we look for happiness in “all the wrong places,” we cause unnecessary suffering to ourselves and others. 

Reading this week’s posts reminded me that we will not find lasting happiness:

* In diamond engagement rings . . . costing a whopping $2 million!  

Spending money to buy symbols of status to impress others with our material success may buy “external approval” . . . but it’s apt to evaporate in short order. 

* In portraits with opulent jewels (diamond rings, a diamond necklace, emerald bracelets, a ruby brooch, and a gold Rolex) painted into place.   

Allowing greed and jealousy to blossom will not create lasting happiness.  We cannot add to our happiness by causing suffering in others.

* In judging and condemning others for their addictions and all-too-human frailties, rather than offering kindness and compassion.

People who say and do stupid things are worthy of our compassion.  Their stupidity is what makes them human . . . even if we can’t understand how they ended up “that way.”

* In taking life too seriously and forgetting to laugh.

We do not laugh because we are happy . . . we are happy because we laugh.

* In “righteous indignation” and anger when others don’t say or do what we want and expect them to do.

Anger is a signal.  If we remain mindful, we can choose how best to respond:  (1) observe the anger and do nothing, allowing it to dissipate; (2) share the anger with others in a constructive way; or (3) share the  anger with others in a destructive way.  Sometime we sacrifice our happiness by insisting that we are “right.”

* In failing to accept ourselves as and where we are . . . even when we are having a bad hair day.  

The goal of life is not to be better than anyone else . . . but instead to be better than our previous self.  When we accept who we are right now, we have the energy to become “the best” that we can be. 

* In forgetting to count our blessings.  Simple pleasures are life’s treasures:  getting a good night’s sleep . . . having a house to call “home”. . . our faithful companions . . . the wonders of nature . . . surviving Mother Nature’s wrath . . . life’s miracles and mysteries . . . enjoying freedom of choice.

There is no one-size-fits-all life.  No one can “have it all.”  Every choice we make precludes other choices.  

We alone must decide where our priorities lie.

Look deep. The answers lie within . . . 

As does happiness.

Quote:  It is interesting to me that people don’t see any connection between their misery and their complaints ~ their feeling of being a victim; the feeling that everyone is doing something to them. It’s amazing. How many times has this connection been pointed out in the dharma talks? How many? And yet because of our fear we won’t look.

~ Charlotte Joko Beck, Everyday Zen, Love & Work

For more inspiring quotes like this, visit The Blue Lotus Cafe

No rules.  Just write!

Cold Comfort May 28, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Vegetarian Recipes.
30 comments

Sidey’s theme this weekend is Comfort Food

In South Africa, where Sidey resides, it’s cold right now.   Here, in the Northern Hemisphere, it is not . . . it’s hot.

Her theme got me thinking about how the comfort foods I enjoy change with  the seasons.

During the long winter months, comfort foods warm us up when temperatures take a brisk nose dive.  Meals of heavy, hearty fare (potato rich stews, thick  chowders, steaming lasagna, piping hot casseroles, fragrant fondues, creamy  macaroni and cheese, rich onion soup) insulate us against chilly arctic blasts providing . . . Comfort from the Cold

Comfort foods in summer cool us down when temps rise.  Meals and snacks of lighter, easy-to-digest fare (ice cream cones, frozen slushies, shakes and frosties, ice-cold watermelon, corn-on-the-cob, chilled pasta salads, salty French fries, Sangria sorbets, and red, ripe tomatoes) help us beat the heat, providing . . . Cold Comfort. 

Comfort from the Cold and Cold Comfort . . . food nourishes our bodies, fuels our minds, and sustains our souls.

Perfect Cole Slaw

16 oz. cole slaw mix (shredded carrots and cabbage)
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup Miracle Whip salad dressing or mayonnaise
2 tsp. vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)

Dump the cole slaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots) into a large mixing bowl. 

Combine remaining ingredients and whisk together.  Pour dressing over the cabbage mixture.  Stir to combine and coat vegetables.  

Refrigerate, covered, for several hours to let flavors meld.  Stir before serving.

The dressing is also delicious on Broccoli-Raisin Salad & Carrot-Raisin Slaw. 

For Broccoli-Raisin Salad, fresh or frozen broccoli will work as a base.  If using fresh, blanche the florets and chill in an ice bath to preserve color.  Drain and chill before adding raisins and dressing.

No rules.  Just write!

What about you? 

What are your favorite Comfort Foods ~ in winter, in summer, in sickness, and in health? 

Related posts:  Comfort Food (The Only Cin) * Comfort Food (Go Between Flames) * Eat, Drink, and Be Merry (I’m Not A Verse) * Comfort Food (Mangetout & Other Stories) * Comfort Food (View from the Side)

Photo Challenge ~ Water May 27, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Nature, Sustainable Living.
Tags: , ,
35 comments

Water

Water

Everywhere

But not a drop . . .

To drink . . .

Thoughts to Ponder:  A Bucket Is Filled Drop By Drop . . . please Be Water Wise.

No rules.  Just write!

Aerial photo courtesy of Andy Price (via Nicole Hancock)

Related posts:  Weekly Photo Challenge:  Water * Water (Inspiration) * Water (Flying Gma’s Blog) * Water (Passionate About Pets) * Water, please!  (Reflections) * Water (Mangetout & Other Stories) * Water (Random Thoughts From Midlife) * Water (Turtle Memoirs) * Water (Pseu’s Blog) * Water (Tilly)

The Lazy Bartender’s Bloody Mary May 27, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Travel & Leisure, Vegetarian Recipes.
Tags: , , , ,
33 comments

Wikipedia ~ V-8 (Fair Use)

I enjoy the occasional Bloody Mary (or two) but seldom feel like fussing with 15 different ingredients to make one.

The Bloody Mary has been called the world’s most complex cocktail by bartenders who garnish the drink with shrimp, crab claws, pickled beans, beef ribs, Scotch Eggs, cold cuts, and/or the kitchen sink.

That’s about to change.  Less is More.

After a tough day, who has the time or patience to assemble Vodka, Tomato Juice, Worcestershire Sauce, Tabasco Sauce, Celery Salt, Black Pepper, Cayenne, Horseradish, Shrimp, Celery, Carrots, Cocktail Onions, Crab Claws, Lemon Juice, Olives, and Salt to make a drink?

Not me.  I’m a Lazy Bartender. 

Now, just in time for weekend celebrations  including the Memorial Day holiday in the States, here’s the . . .

Mickey-Ta-DaaaLazy Bartender’s Bloody Mary

* 3 parts Spicy Hot V-8 Juice
* 1 part Smirnoff Citrus Vodka

Pour.  Stir.  Add ice.  Enjoy.

And, of course, repeat as necessary.

Related post:  TGIF ~ Candy Land For Adults * Toolbox Anxiety (The Only Cin)

What’s Up? May 26, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, People, Word Play.
Tags: ,
62 comments

The-Pink-PantherNot long ago, I attended a Potluck Supper for our street. BFF stayed home with a “stomach bug.”

(Yeah, right.)

Overall, a pleasant evening with a good turn-out and yummy food (even for vegetarians) but I noticed something alarming:

What’s up with people starting conversations by saying . . . What’s up? 

All night long, people in their 60′s and up, who’ve had a lifetime to perfect the art of conversing over cocktails, would wander over, smile, and attempt to shift the burden for the conversation to me:

* What’s up?

* What have you been up to?

* How’s it hanging?  (Well, not really, but they might have . . .)

* What have you been doing? 

Seriously.  Every conversation, of more than a baker’s dozen, started with  What’s up? . . . or a variant thereof.  

Donald-Duck-BaseballWhat a subtle and insidious way to put immediate pressure on the addressee (in this case, ME!) to come up with an interesting topic for conversation rather than assuming responsibility for getting the conversation started by sharing some interesting insight into life, love, and the pursuit of happiness.

What’s up with that?

I understand that starting conversations with a generic question is safer than launching directly into a potentially treacherous debate amid the life-threatening minefields of politics, religion, or global warming, but still . . .

What about opening with your delight that the world is still revolving on its axis, or how you (or your darling grandkids) plan to spend the summer holidays, or by sharing a chuckle about  how your New Year’s Resolution to become a better conversationalist has fallen by the wayside?

Oh, my responses? 

After I realized the lay of the land, I just started throwing the ball right back into their court:

* Not much!  How ’bout with you?

* We’ve been hibernating to stay out of the sun.  How ’bout you?

* Just goofin’ off.  How ’bout you?

* You know, same ol’, same ol’ ~ how ’bout you?

Wait!  I’ve got an idea!

150px-Carlo_Crivelli_052Next time someone asks me What’s Up?, I’ll say I’m writing a book ~ The Art of Conversation for Dummies

I’ll ask for tips on:

* Conversation Starters

* Conversations Gone Bad

* Extricating Foot from Mouth

* Ill-timed Toasts (with an introduction by President Obama)

* The Idiot’s Guide to Terminating Conversations with Dummies

Paula’s already got just the cover:  Just For Nancy!

So . . . what’s up with you guys?

No rules.  Just write!

* * * * *

And, now, without further ado, I give you . . . Thursday’s Teasers and Tips:

* Check out Perfect Casting by PTC ~ and cast your thoughts into the mix.

* Alarmed by the Shocking Moral Decay around us?  Read Greg’s thoughts.

* Need a creative boost?  Visit Rosa’s Picks to see amazing artwork like this:

Yes . . . that’s a painting, not a photograph!  Paintings by Oriana Kacicek 

* Want a “unique” Vegetarian Recipe for Memorial Day?   Visit The Anvil.

* Love to laugh?  Visit The Laughing Housewife and enjoy her daily jokes.

* Still not smiling?  Banana School by Carl D’Agostino will make you LOL!

Freshly Pressed Blogging Stats May 25, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Blogs & Blogging, Word Play, Writing & Writers.
Tags: , ,
84 comments

According to Freshly Pressed, there are 387,398 bloggers on WordPress this morning who, when last I checked, had posted 469,443 new posts. 

Those stats, as impressive as they are, don’t surprise me in the least. 

Millions of bloggers on WordPress (and elsewhere) want to share their thoughts and insights with the CyberWorld ~ interacting with others as compensation for their efforts.   

You may be one of them.  

We want to post pieces that elicit reaction from fellow writers and readers.  We want to interact with others.  If we didn’t want to interact, we would hide in our offices, locked away from the world, tapping on keyboards while twirling around in fancy executive chairs pretending to be important.

If we didn’t want to interact with others, we would be writing on our stand-alone PCs in  Word, rather than posting our words in CyberSpace for the world to see.   We would be sending private missives and queries to publishers . . . and licking our wounds after each rejection . . . all behind closed doors.   

Some of us wouldn’t even bother with queries.  Instead, we would shove completed manuscripts in our desk drawers for posthumous publication.

We are blogging because we have something to say that we want the world to hear.  We enjoy exchanging ideas with others.   

After we press “Publish,” we want to hear what others think about our thoughts and insights, especially if a “Here!  Here!” . . . a “LOL” . . . or a “Bravo” is tossed into the mix.

Some of us didn’t fit in with the playground crowd, or the cliques in school, or the folks hanging around the water cooler.  We watched from the sidelines,  observed interactions, and took notes, filing our thoughts away for future reference.  Now, at last, we have a forum, a platform, a podium, where we can have our cake and eat it too ~ we can sit in the safety of our offices, twirling around in our fancy executive chairs, while sharing our thoughts and words  with the world through the relative anonymity of the Internet.

Sweet!

That’s why the number of bloggers and new posts doesn’t surprise me. 

What does surprise me is that, at last tally, there were 469,443 new posts and only 443,574 new comments. 

Where’s the FUN in that?

No rules.  Just write!

Give and Take with Senator Marco Rubio May 24, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Nature, Politics, Sustainable Living.
Tags: , , , ,
46 comments
220px-Alice_par_John_Tenniel_27

Here’s my 47th e-mail (give or take a few dozen) to Senator Marco Rubio ~ all sent since he took office two years ago.

The first 46 politely disagreed with his blatant disregard of this precious planet and our shared environment.

This one is a bit more contentious:

Dear Senator Rubio:

What the hell is your problem?

Why would you vote AGAINST legislation to end billions in tax breaks to Big Oil (S. 940) and FOR a bill to fast-track expansion of reckless drilling in some of America’s most fragile waters (S. 953).

Is your head up your ass?

What kind of world do you plan to leave to your kids???

There is nothing more important than creating a sustainable future for this planet.  If you don’t watch out for the world, why should anyone vote for you in the next election?

* Stop catering to lobbyists!

* Stand up to Big Oil.

* Protect sea turtles, polar bears and other wildlife.

* Stop polluting the planet and ignoring your constituents. 

We are so tired of getting the exact same canned response from your office ~ promising a more personal reply that is NEVER forthcoming.

You are the worst kind of politician imaginable.  I wouldn’t vote for you if you were running against yourself.

In response, I received the exact same canned response I’ve gotten every time:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me. I have received your message and I welcome the opportunity to address your concerns.

If you’ve attempted to contact my office previously and have not yet received a response, I hope you will accept my sincere apology.

As you await a response, please know that our office is working towards best serving the state of Florida.

I appreciate hearing your views, and I understand how important these issues are to you. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts, and please expect my response in the near future.

If you need immediate assistance with a federal agency, please call (866) 630-7106 toll-free in Florida. You may also contact the Orlando regional office at (407) 254-2573 or the Miami regional office at (305) 418-8553.

Do not mail correspondence to the Washington DC Office as it will delay the response to your request for assistance.

What a load of condescending claptrap and pretentious bullshit!  He couldn’t decide which “sweet nothings” to toss out to concerned citizens . . . so he included them all.

Hey . . .

Marco . . . 

Rubio . . .

Please accept my sincere apology for being blunt:  

You are a consummate politician . . . and a complete and utter jackass!

P.S. I mean that most sincerely.

How ironic that his constituents are told that mailing correspondence to his D.C. office will delay response.

Why is that?

Maybe he’s too busy helping Big Oil rape the planet to pay any attention to us.

No rules.  Just write!

Related posts:  Stop Paying TWICE For Your Gas! * Who Killed The Electric Car? * Ignoring The First Amendment??? * What does BP Stand For?

Monogamy and Infidelity May 23, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Mindfulness, Nature, People, Spirituality & Faith.
Tags: , , , , ,
68 comments

I’m not convinced that humans are hard-wired to be monogamous.

We don’t have just one “friend” and maybe we aren’t meant to have just one “lover.”

Rather than being an aberration of nature, sexual infidelity may be “normal” human behavior.

It’s a question of “nature” vs. “nurture” in my mind.

We are socialized to look outside ourselves for someone to “complete us.”  We are conditioned to believe that, once we walk down the aisle with our mate, we will live “happily ever after” in a committed relationship.

But maybe that image is nothing more than a fairy tale of epic proportions.

Statistics about marriage, divorce, and sexual infidelity tend to disprove the notion that marriage is the pathway to happily ever after.

Moreover, a look at marital and sexual relationships through the ages tends to negate the idea that sexual allegiance to a single partner stems from human nature rather than from social conditioning:

* In matriarchal societies, maternity mattered.  Paternity did not.  Women ruled the roost.  Men were “worker bees” and sperm donors.  It didn’t much matter who fathered whom.

* Over time, matriarchal societies gave way to patriarchal societies and spiritual practices and beliefs gave way to organized religions.  The church played a central role in setting and establishing the “norms” for behavior.

* In early Christian times, the church actively discouraged marriages.  Church leaders didn’t want early Christians to have an allegiance to anyone or anything other than the church.  (They also discouraged direct personal relationships with “God” . . . preferring the role of intermediary in our quest for meaning.)

* Years later, church leaders did a flip-flop, encouraging monogamous relationships between “man” and “wife.”  Societal conditioning followed suit.

As the issue of paternity rose in stature, men who strayed were chastised . . . with a wink.  After all, “boys will be boys.”  In contrast, women who strayed were branded . . . with Scarlet Letters.

The double standard was born.

In the past century, as women have risen in stature, from “chattel” owned by their husbands to individuals in their own right (with rights of their own), society began to frown on the double standard.

What was good for the goose was good for the gander.

If women are to be faithful to their husbands (so that paternity is clear), husbands should reciprocate by cleaving only to one woman.

These days, in many modern societies, we applaud fidelity, loyalty, and committment in marriages under the umbrella of “family values.”  We frown upon sexual infidelity and view “cheating” as a supreme betrayal of trust and allegiance.

Maybe we’re being too hard on ourselves.

Monogamy is socialized human behavior . . . but is it human nature to stray?

No rules.  Just write!

Related posts:  Infidelity (Life’s A Beach Journal) * Monday Morning Musings (View from the Side) * Eat, Pray, Love . . . Tie the Knot? * When God Was A Woman * The Ego of Man (Woman Wielding Words) * Arnold Schwarzenegger Could Face A $200 Million Divorce * Shocking Moral Decay (Greg Camp)

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