Better Bend Your Butter

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Better Bend Your Butter

I have to make a cake for a 70th birthday party tomorrow.  I was the baker of the cake at the 30th, 40th, the 50th, and the 60th, so I have a tradition to uphold.  I have all the ingredients laid out on the counter.  Usually, I just throw in whatever I want, neglecting to measure anything for fear of making a mess.  This time I have to painstakingly measure out each ingredient.  Each has its time to go into the bowl.  Not a minute before or after.  The main ingredient that needs the most special care is the butter.  You absolutely must have the butter at room temperature when you cream it.  I know that this for a fact.  If it is too cold the cake will be flat and will not crumb properly.  If it is too warm it lumps up and does not allow the cake to bake evenly.  The sides cook too rapidly causing the middle to bulge up into a peak.  If you are going to frost the cake you must expertly slice the bulge off making a smooth surface for frosting and layering.  If the butter is too cold it will break into pieces.  If the butter is exactly at room temperature you can bend it beautifully.  If you can bend your butter, you will have a well-crumbed cake.  Well-crumbed cakes are important.  Aren’t they?  I am telling you about bending your butter because my mother used to walk the floors of our home with an Emily Post’s book open to just the right page for everything we were doing.  She had special cookbooks that told you what to do each step of the way.  She had an oven door that gave the correct temperatures, the correct measurements and all of the things you needed to know when you cook.  I don’t know any of those things today and just put handfuls sometimes, or a palm full here, a palm full there, plus some sprinkles of things into a pot or bowl and it all comes out delicious.  Well usually, but there are those very few occasions when I bomb.  Now, my mother would never have allowed herself the leeway to fail.  Perfection was my mother’s motto.  It must have worked because after all she has the perfect daughter.  Oh sure. But seriously, my mother is the only person who could make chocolate chip cookies, brownies, cakes and anything else she made more than once come out exactly the way it had the first time.  I have her recipe file and I can tell you I have never, ever been able to make the dish, cake, cookie or brownie, made previously come out anything even like that former dish or baked goods. Here is to the perfectionist, bravo. Here is to all of  us who may be on the way, bravo to us, too.

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THE WEARING OF MY MOTHER’S CONSOLATION RING

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What does consolation mean?  It means a source of comfort to someone who is upset or has been disappointed.  In this light, my mothers ring, the ring I now wear to honor her, is what I call her consolation ring because I believe it gave her comfort in her disappointment of not receiving the ring she thought was going to be hers.  In spelling out the details I may reveal too much and I would not want to do that at all.  So the ring she was to receive will remain a mystery, but the one she did received as her comfort, made her feel proud and important.

My mother was a woman of strong character in the respect that she would never hurt anyone, she would always smooth over the truth to make all things right. She loved openly, honestly, fiercely and was a true friend to everyone. When my father recognized my mother’s disappointment in the alternate ring giving, he wanted to consol her, but she wanted to console him even more.   She told him things that relieved his besieged mind and let him know that she had already won the prize. The prize in her mind was my father and all that he represented in her life. She told him that she was gloriously happy being his wife, having his children, living their lives together and there was not a ring in the world that could change her love for him and her happiness being with him. My mother never made trouble for anyone and she stayed constant and quiet about the events revolving around the ring. She said no more about it. She was convinced it was all over.

My father on the other hand, decided that my mother, since she was not offered the ring I have discussed, should have the ring of her choice. He made an appointment at Donovan & Seamans Jewelers in Beverly Hills, the finest jewelry store on the west coast at that time. At the initial ring meeting, my father had in attendance, the store’s top designer ready to work with my mother to design something especially for her and something that would express her ideas of what her ring would encompass. At the meetings hence, the designer and my mother worked together to produce the consolation ring, which now has become a symbol of my mother and father’s love and respect for each other.

Each diamond in the ring represented an idea my mother had and wanted the ring to convey.  I know my mother wanted something to represent eternity, something never-ending, and the ongoing relationship of a couple’s love and union. She wanted her ring to be a reminder of their commitment. She asked that there be an element of magical powers worked into the design, and she believed that it should be round with no beginning and no end showing wholeness and a completeness to her life. She wanted the ring to embody strength, health, and willingness in all things presented, plus she wanted the ring to show the esteem in which it was designed and given to the wearer. She insisted that her ring carry the power of protection and peace. She wanted the designing and the wearing of her consolation ring to symbolize love, unity and the bonding together of people on their journeys through life with an abundance of tranquility and harmony.

My mother’s consolation ring continues to divulge lessons and give inspirations that have caught my attention time and time again.  The lessons have changed my viewpoint on the life affirming secrets revealed as I gaze into the consolation ring.

This ring is all and more than my mother, my father and the designer hoped. When I am gone, I bequeath all that this ring is and can be to the new receiver with my love and the blessings of your predecessors.

THE MEANING OF THE PUNCH BOWL, THE EIGHT CUPS, THE LADLE, AND THE ACT OF HATE

After fifty-one years of married collecting, we have begun to give away some of the long saved acquisitions we have amassed. It is easy seeing bags of interview suits, of long ago fashions, of clothes with sizes belonging to another time and place bagged and headed for the charity shop, but to see the little antique treasures all boxed ready to go isn’t so bad if you think your kids will take them. Most items get passed over and no one wants them. I digress a bit, but found some handkerchiefs from generations and generations ago. So, I ironed them up and put them in envelopes and sent them to my descendants. Hope they enjoy the gift of antiquity…each got 5 or 6 absolutely gorgeous old time handkerchiefs, more beautiful and stitched beyond anything of today.

Are we moving, downsizing to go to a one-story house, no, just cleaning up before the real clean up, the real downsize, the real end.

Today was a lucky day. Our son came over and actually said yes to the boxed, never opened, never used punch bowl set. Oh happy day. He wanted to open the box and enjoy the beautiful set in our presence. When he opened the box and began to unpack it, nearly instantaneously, he realized something did not look right. He noticed a small hole drilled in the bottom of the bowl and upon further inspection he noticed a small, precisely drilled hole in each cup and on the ladle as well. The perpetrator left no surface untouched, or should I say hole free. This act of hate took a long time and a great amount of deliberation.

Before I discuss my take on this, let me tell you how we were able to figured out how we became in possession of such awfulness. Skip worked for a liquor distributor a long while ago, and when they would have sales meetings they would have perk parties. You would draw a number and when the number was called the gift was yours. We figured Skip’s number produced the boxed punch bowl set as the prize. The way we figured this out was because his old boss’s name was written on the bottom of the box.  Had we not been able to see a name, we would have been in the dark as to where, how and why we came to own this gift of horror and hate.

Was the boss such a horrible person, and what could he have done to promote this intensely and passionately hostile act?  Whoever perpetrated this had such deep emotional dislikes directed into each precisely drilled hole. Not one hole, two or three, but one into each piece to be used in the set. Thank goodness we were able to piece together the name and to whom this act was against or it would have plagued us forever. Free from the blame or the designation, we took the damaged punch bowl set to recycling so it can become some benefit in its new form. Hopefully in the melting down process and during the rebirth of this set, the new item will be infused with liberty, independence, affection, autonomy, self-determination, responsibility, trustworthiness accountability, most definitely love, and the right to live free from doubt and fear.  From the depth of hate, and hostility there is hope in renewal.

They Say You Can’t Go Home, but YOU CAN GO BACK: Huntington Park, California

I decided to make my workday consist of enjoying the sights and sounds of my hometown Huntington Park, California, USA. There are many others who call Huntington Park their hometown, so I am not alone. None of the people in my memories are here, only the physical structures on which I BASE MY MEMORIES still reside here.  I am sure what I remember is accurate.  I once remembered out loud, at a reunion,  something that occurred in a gym class at Huntington Park High School, and a former classmate informed me that I was under an illusion.  I pondered her comments, her recollections and her demands that I remember things as she does.  I came to the conclusions that my memory still stands as one of my strong suits and I do not want my memories to take a back seat to anyone else’s which, while they may be perfectly true for them, are not true for me.

Now, please join me on my journey down memory lane.

First, we drove to Huntington Park from our home in the San Fernando Valley over the hill from Los Angeles.

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As you continue on the 101 Freeway, your off ramp is Soto Street. Continue on Soto Street and you will see the old Sears building. You are heading in the right direction (south)

Soon you will be approaching Farmer John’s located in Vernon just north of Huntington Park at Farmer John
3049 E. Vernon Avenue Vernon, CA 90058.  As you will see from the photos, there is a mural painted on the exterior of the Farmer John’s slaughterhouse and meat packing plant. This mural has been here since 1957 when Les Grimes began his work here. Since 2000, extensive restorations have been made. The animals have changed a bit from time to time as each new artist lends his or her hand to the work. This mural will certainly get your attention and I have photographed small portions of it for you to see.

Next as you travel down Soto Street, you will soon see the Huntington Park Water tower. I was fascinated with this tower most of my Huntington Park life. It is a symbol of leaving and of coming home.

So, now that we are in Huntington Park, where to go first is the question. Actually, it is not a question; you go home. The house where I used to call home is as beautiful as it was years ago, only it is not home. Memories of my room with its window off to the right hand side of the house, second level and the sights I used to see from it come flooding back. I saw all the neighbors walking by. I saw the Jacaranda tree in full bloom and watched as it transitioned into a purple carpet of fallen blossoms. I loved that tree and now it is gone. My mother had roses lining the walkway to the front door and now there are roses lining the entire yard. Some of the old bushes are still there, but gone are the Camellia bushes. My mother would send bushels of Camellias to my teachers and I was popular on Camellia day.

The little window top right of the house is my bedroom window, my window on the world..

Gone, in reality, are Mom, Dad, Lula, Michael, Ron,  Clarke, John, Carolyn, Anita, Allegra, Helga, Johnny  Wake, and all the other people I remember in reality, but they are still there in my mind, so fresh, that I can see the spittle as they smile and the snot coming out of their noses, the pretty faces, long hair, their strength, their intelligence, and their bright eyes.  Gone is the Apricot and Fig tree. The building on the corner of California and Florence that was once the poultry farm and market is still there, but the squawking and the slaughtering and the poultry are gone. Again, what remains are memories. Once my brothers got a hold of a chicken foot and put it at the end of my bed.  To this day, I check the end of my bed to make sure there is nothing hidden there.

My Elementary school: State Street School

Next we drove down State Street to my elementary school where more than a million memories bombarded my senses. I remember buying 5 ice creams a day for lunch until they caught me and even after they caught me I tried to do it again.  I figured you got 25 cents a day for lunch a rather nasty lunch that smelled like the garbage can.  But you could wisely spend your 25 cents in an abundant way.  Each ice cream was a nickel and even though I did not excel in math, 25 cents bought 5 ice creams a much better deal than lunch. It was hard to stop me, but involving my parents did the trick. Where are you Abby Gratz, Sydney Michel, Sheryl Wriggle, Winnie Mae Miller, Gordon Outhier, Johnny Wilheilm, Terry Cunningham?

Here is the church where I was saved.  I was in the 3rd grade and talked too much in class. The teacher got very angry, dug her nails into my arms and threw me out into the hallway. I was too independent to take that so I ran away down the street. I was running so fast, I tripped and fell right in front of the church. Knee skinned, bleeding and crying I needed help.  The folks in the church came out and helped me inside, washed up my knee and asked me if I wanted to go to heaven.  Who doesn’t? So I answered, “Yes, I do.” After saying a few prayers and reading from the Bible, they drizzled droplets of water on my forehead. I thought it was raining and the roof leaked, but someone just said, “You are saved and you are going to go to heaven.” They are right, I was and I am.  The little lady with the pretty hair and powder blue suit walked me back to the entrance of the schoolyard and I walked back to the hallway in front of my classroom. The teacher came out and invited me back into the classroom.  So you see, major lifetime of experiences can occur between being thrown out of your classroom and being invited back in.


Gage Jr. High.

The years I spent in Gage Jr. High School are a blur except for deciding to wear lipstick and losing an important election.

Lots of things happened in Huntington Park HIgh School.  I remember way too many things I’d rather forget, plus this place was not good for my self-esteem. I never gave up, but I gave in.

One more church that played an important part in my life was the St.Matthias Church on Florence Avenue. I was looking for a sign. My boyfriend at the time wanted me to attend mass at his church so I did. As I entered and took my seat a coolness came over me and I was enveloped in a strong semi-vortex of spiraling spiritual energy.  I remember asking God for a sign.  I told him I was in a difficult place and I needed a sign if I was EVER, EVER going to be a believer. The mass was over and my boyfriend and I headed out of the large double doors to the parking lot where I left my car. My car had moved. I was a relatively new driver and must not have put my car in gear, so it rolled into a tree at the edge of the parking lot. If not for the tree, my car would have rolled into the middle of the street.  I asked for a sign and got a big one. Thanks be to God.

The temple: Huntington Park Hebrew Congregation which is now the Seventh Day Adventist Church, is flanked by a new motel on one side and a bakery on the other.  When this was the temple, it was my salvation. My life revolved around the activities here and this is the place I received a healthy dose of strong self-worth, until Doomsday. Doomsday for me happened in my 12th year when, the Rabbi called me into his office and told me that I would not be confirmed with the other girls in my Hebrew class. Was he kidding?  No, he was not. I begged, pleaded and then, asked why?  He complimented me on being a very good student, but calmly stated that my birthdate fell 19 days after the cut off for the confirmation exercises and that I would have to come another year for studies.  When I realized that anything I had to say was not being heard, I said, “Shit on you, Rabbi.” I then turned and ran from the temple, never to return. Years and years later, the same Rabbi must have suffered a bit of guilt. My parents told of him of our large family and that I was doing the Seder for the first time. He asked that a package be delivered to me. The gift package contained 20 beautiful brand new sparkling Haggadahs that I have used every year since I received them. Thank You Rabbi Hyman, may you rest in peace.

The best part of my visit home was to witness that Huntington Park is a vital, bustling beautiful vibrant city full of activity and remains an important commercial and industrial area southeast of Los Angeles City Center.

You can never go home, but you can go back, visit, and get your memories in high gear. Isn’t Huntington Park a beautiful city?  May she have continued success and continue to serve her community well.

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Tell Me This is Not the Dreaded “It” Disease: Brain Freeze on Downers. Tell Me

When I realized that there were four jars of Best Foods Real Mayonnaise in my cupboard, I thought to myself, well this is how IT starts.  By IT, I mean the gentle demise of your brain and all of the functions it controls, literally Brain Freeze on Downers. You see, I still cannot mention the name of the disease that does this to basically elderly people because I am terrified.  I’ll bet you thought this is a commercial for Best Foods Real mayonnaise; well it is not. It is a discussion on a disease I must continue to call IT.  My doctors would like to know if I would like to be tested to see if I have the marker for IT.  Since my mother and father both had IT, I don’t need a damn test to tell me I will get IT, someday.  In the meantime, the health care specialists say, let us explore some ways to best help older adults lead happier, healthier lives.  I say this a crock for sure, because as I see it, it is more like let us see how little we can spend on health care for the aging and how to best use them as guinea pigs for new testing to gather results on the future of aging.

The UCLA Division of Geriatrics sends out a newsletter titled: Healthy/Years stating they are helping older adults lead happier, healthier lives. I say this is nonsense because everything I read in their letter and experiences as well about seniors leads to a brick wall.

This newsletter and the articles prepare you to fear for your life and the shoddy scary treatment yet to come. First of all, it states that 45% of all new breast cancer diagnoses is in women over the age of 65. Also stated that the risk of breast cancer does not start to decline until after the age of 85. Yet, they are promoting less mammograms for older women.

Healthy /Years, says what we all know that, the cure rate is early detection and the best way to do that is to have regular mammograms. Yes, I agree, but they have suggested that providing mammograms for women over the age of 70 is something of a debate among the experts.  They also state that mammography for older women depends on life expectancy and whether you would undergo treatment if a tumor were found. Really? This is disgusting. The UCLA Division of Geriatrics is cutting you off so to speak at 70 and if you want to live longer, you should make that known.  How does anyone predict true life expectancy? Maybe a mother, father, or grandparents died younger, but the way modern medicine is contributing to longevity, I expect to be way over 100, don’t you? So, if I know I have the marker for the dreaded brain freeze on downers (IT), then I should not get mammograms, or should I or should I not try to increase my life expectancy with or without the disease? I really do not like to think of these things, but we cannot sit with blinders on our eyes as well as our conscience.

The article in the UCLA Healthy/ Years, also states that in fact being older is actually beneficial when it comes to mammography because they are more sensitive as women get older, because their breast tissue becomes less glandular and more fatty, which makes it easier to detect cancer. Plus it takes less radiation to get excellent quality mammograms in older women, and I know all mammography has not been adjusted to this stated fact. So now that in older women it takes less radiation, is easier to detect, and is important in ladies until they are 85, you, the medical profession has suggested that we actually stop giving mammograms to women over the age of 70 because they might not live very much longer and may not want to receive the cure opportunities.  I say, what a crock.

UCLA Healthy/Years further states in another article titled: Vaccination is Crucial to Ensure a Healthy Winter for seniors.  It is stated that in December 2009 the FDA licensed a high-dose influenza vaccine Fluzone High-Dose, which has four times the amount of each of the three influenza antigens that standard vaccine contains for seniors because producing an antibody response has shown to be diminished in older adults. Nothing was said about receiving four times the amount of preservatives and other particles in this vaccine. Now, seniors it is time to step up to the plate and become a human guinea pig and receive four times the amount of influenza. Gosh almighty, will it stop?  No it will not, and I have it on good authority that it will not stop for a long, long time or even ever.  Where money and expenditures are in the equation, you will get seniors chopped off first and foremost because as stated above, life expectancy. It does not take into consideration the time, money and service you have put into the system. I have always known this fact and here it is quite evident here.  It is not what you have done for me in the past; it is what you can do for the future and us now.

THE RED DRESS FROM ANOTHER TIME AND PLACE

This red dress was displayed in front of an antique store somewhere in the middle of America. I wish to heaven I could remember where, and perhaps by the time I finish this memory, I will.  The store had placed an empty chair next to the dress (not shown in the picture). I was tired and while the other people in the group busied themselves with the inside of the store, I sat in the chair next to the red dress.

I closed my eyes and felt the sounds of the present melting away giving rise to differing sounds with different tones and noise levels. I was drifting. I felt myself transform in dissolving ways. My mind took on a multitude of tumbling images and finally rested on a scene, which I was not only observing but a participant.   I was walking with someone and in a few moments that someone came into full view.  He was handsome. He was my intimate friend.  We were walking to visit a party at a home where our family had gathered. The home was freshly painted, with fresh fumes wafting and the entryway trees provided shade. I was very happy to be showing off the dress I made for the special party. It fit me perfectly and made me feel comfortable and well.  I recollected that I waited for months to get just the right color and texture cloth for this special dress.

The festivities were in full swing. People were waving; children came running to greet us and hugged us both tightly. Music was playing and the sounds were floating away. Just in those last moments of my reverie, I opened my eyes because someone was calling me into the present.  I know this was a contact, a very strong contact from the past.  I wish there were more recollections to tell, but honestly it was just a snippet in time.

Oh, I can hear you readers on the other end.  This lady is cracked in the head.  I want you to know that I am not, but I do believe that there are pockets of time that are trapped  and when coaxed burst into the present only momentarily. Do I get these bursts often, no, actually I am not lucky enough to get them often. Now that I have lost a good portion of readers, this is for you who are still reading.

When visiting in Poland, my ancestors somewhere in Warsaw contacted me. They followed me to the border of Poland and Russia. They blew wind through my hair, they whispered in my ear, they nudged me in various directions, they told me they were happy I came to visit, they told me to taste the amber I wanted to buy and I did. It had an acrid taste allowing me to know it was real. I tasted others after that encounter and when there was no acrid taste I knew those pieces of amber to be fake.  I wish life were all that easy.  Just taste and know it to be a fake.

A number of years ago, on a hot and humid night with all of the windows in the house open, I was sitting in the living room. Mists and puffs came floating by, which were stuffed with sounds from an old radio show. The announcer, in his rich full- bodied voice was announcing the next program. I was too shocked and a bit too terrified to remember if I made out any of the words that would identify the program. I chalked it off to the fact that it was one of those bubbles of trapped time that exploded in my living room.

I have enjoyed my otherworldly encounters and I hope I have more in the future. I also hope you will share some of yours. We are not alone.

REFER TO PAGE 40 AND STOP WORRYING

This photo is borrowed from the internet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A friend forwarded an article from an online magazine.  He said to “refer to page 40”. After clicking through all of the proceeding pages, I finally came upon a self-help article written by an elite psychologist in Northern California.  She said to concentrate on things in the “present”, instead of worrying about things from the past or in the future. It took about a thousand words to say cut out the worrying because it’s just a waste of time anyway.  So if I ever go off on a worry wrath, stop me and say, refer to page 40. I promise to do the same for you.

So, today I am scheduled to speak and answer questions in my grandson’s class. Am I worried? Not really, since I spent 42 years doing this very thing.  Only when I did it, I was the teacher.  Now I am the grandmother. They’re probably expecting a gray haired, hunched-over, and fragile looking old lady wearing orthopedic shoes to walk in the door.  But honestly I don’t know how to look like the grandmother they’re probably expecting.  I would have to return to the hairdresser and ask for my gray hair back. I would have to relax so much that my back would hunch into a fragile curve.  How do you do that? Orthopedics? Get a grip. I do buy my shoes at the travel store, so I’m already halfway to the grandmother status in the shoe department.  Is my voice supposed to crackle and am I to grunt like they probably expect? Gosh, I guess I really do not know how to be the grandmother they expect. So I’ll just be the grandmother that I am.  I’m nicely dressed, I look great for my age, and they’ll get what they get. I shall quit worrying and refer to page 40. I suggest you do the same.

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