National Root Beer Float Day

I had “a day”. Had a morning of meetings then scrambled home to do a couple quick chores; wash and dry a load of towels, pay a few bills, then back out to be with Mama.

I had asked my dear cousin, JK, to meet me at an exit off of the highway on her way home and bring Mama to me. The screen on Mama’s cell phone (old fashioned flip phone) had become completely blank.  She was able to receive calls, though it was impossible to identify the caller, and it was very difficult for her to make a call. We needed a visit to the phone store. 

On the way to meet them, I (wrongly) assumed I could quickly swing by the bank drive-thru and make a deposit. I waited at the drive-thru for 11 minutes. I considered backing out and pulling back around the front to just run inside. As Murphy’s law normally flows, I felt sure that the moment I backed out, the car ahead of me would have completed her transaction. Nevertheless, I did it.

I went inside only to discover three people in line ahead of me. There was one, ONE man serving the drive-thru window, the inside counter and a telephone that would not stop ringing. Through a glass pane I could see a woman sitting at her desk poking around on her computer. Another man was tapping his fingers on his desk as if he were bored. I waited and waited and debated. My neck was beginning to feel hot. I calmly but firmly said out loud “Is there anyone else who can help here?”  Finally, the tapping man came out and said “Oh, Jerry (chicken-with-head-cut-off man) will be with you soon. I was losing my cool. I knew that dear JK and Mama were waiting for me.

When you are 60 years old and in these situations, you begin to question yourself. Am I just crabby today or is something seriously wrong here? Do I say something and look like a cranky “older” woman or do I continue to sweat into the collar of my Gap pink gingham shirt? Am I simply saying what everyone else is thinking? I’m sure I got a few eye-rolls after I finally got my deposit made and quietly announced that this was the most inefficient bank visit I have ever had. When do you speak truth and when do you just roll with it and accept the injustice?

Well, since it is National Root Beer Float Day, Mama and I had to indulge. My hot neck and sassy mouth most definitely needed a cool down and the deliciously decadent root beer float did the trick.



National Cheesecake Day

Cheesecake, shmeesecake. What’s the big deal?

When I was a girl, then a teenager, and even a young married woman, I knew very little about cheesecake. I’m actually not sure I had had cheesecake.

Cheesecake is one of those words that for me had negative connotations. I liked cake and I liked cheese but I could never marry the two in my mind. All I could envision was a slice of American cheese somehow inserted into sweet cake. It felt incongruent. It just didn’t jive.

When I discovered the truth about cheesecake and ate cheesecake, well, it all made sense. 

The first “cheese cake” may have been created on the Greek island of Samos. Anthropologists excavated cheese molds there which were dated circa 2,000 B.C. Cheese and cheese products had most likely been around for thousands of years before this. 

In Greece, cheesecake was considered to be a good source of energy and there is evidence that it was served to the athletes during the first Olympic Games in 776 B.C. Greek brides and grooms were also known to use cheesecake as a wedding cake. The simple ingredients of flour, wheat, honey, and cheese were formed into a cake and baked—a far cry from the complicated recipes today.

A little history about the cream cheese. In 1872, a New York dairy farmer was attempting to replicate the soft, French cheese Neufchâtel. He instead accidentally came up with an “unripened cheese” that was heavier and creamier. Thus, modern commercial American cream cheese was developed. Three years later, cream cheese was packed in foil and distributed to local stores under the Philadelphia Cream Cheese brand. 

Of course, no story about cheesecake would be complete without talking about the New York style cheesecake. The classic New York style is served with just the cake – no fruit, chocolate or caramel is served on the top or on the side. This famously smooth cheesecake gets its signature flavor from extra egg yolks in the cream cheese cake mix. 

As much as I like New York things, I do not want New York style cheesecake. If there is something that can be added, then add it, baby. A couple of my oh so favorites are raspberry swirl chocolate cheesecake, dulce de leche caramel cheesecake, and chocolate hazelnut crunch cheesecake. Have mercy. 

As divine as those sound, and are, no cheesecake is complete unless accompanied by a steaming cup of coffee with cream. If I can’t get the coffee, I will pass on the cheesecake. That is truth. 

When my boys were young and we made chocolate chip cookies at home, they would always make sure we had plenty of cold milk in the refrigerator. If not, they didn’t want the cookies. 

Once you’ve experienced the perfect complement, nothing else will do. 

Elevator Alleviator

The last Friday in July is designated National Talk in an Elevator Day. 

I do not love elevators. I mentioned that in a previous post. I mostly do not like to ride alone. Here is the thinking. If the elevator gets stuck, I want there to be another person on whom shoulders I can climb in order to crash through the ceiling lights to reach the escape door. I have seen Mission Impossible movies. I know there is one in every elevator. Right?

In the pre everyone-has-a-smartphone days, when riding an elevator with other people, the standard code was to stare up at the lighted numbers in silence. Now, the phone is a perfect prop to eliminate any possibility of eye contact. We’ve all done it.

What would we say anyway? Most likely these are people we will never cross paths with again so why bother with niceties? 

There may be a reason—human interaction. It is the same reason we choose the grocery line with a live person at the cash register. And to that point, do not be on your phone unless it is an emergency. It is entirely rude. I have witnessed far too many people going through the grocery store line, throwing their items onto the belt, yakking it up with someone about what they are wearing to the party tonight and not make one moment of eye contact with the cashier. It is crushing to witness.

The elevator conversation does not need to be soul searching questions about the meaning of life. It may be as benign as “That is a beautiful scarf you are wearing” or “It’s great to be out of the rain” or “Your baby has a lovely face” or a simple hello and then “Have a good day” when stepping out. Even one authentic smile can awaken the endorphins in another person and change their day. 

A couple of weeks ago I was visiting a person in a retirement home. When the elevator door opened, there was one small, frail-looking woman in her 80s. I quickly assessed the situation as to whether or not I could climb onto her shoulders to make the escape. I decided that was a no then gave her a kind smile and told her I needed the exercise and would take the stairs. 

Yep, I have my issues. As do all of us. 

The next time you are in an elevator, take a step of boldness. Don’t look at your phone or the lighted numbers at the top, make a connection with another person. Sure, it’s a risk. This action has the potential to be interpreted in another way, but the risk may be worth the endorphin spike you both may feel. 

Vanilla is a Dark Horse

Vanilla Ice-cream gets a bap rap. I have been guilty, in the past, of participating in the bad rapping. 

My husband is a picky eater. A few months ago we went out to a wonderful Italian restaurant. It took me 15 minutes to submit my order because I could not decide between the three entrees I had narrowed down. When I order food, it is like being at the NFL Draft. 

When the server asked my husband what he would like, he ordered four sides of mashed potatoes. Yes, really. I was a bit frustrated by that, which I really should not have been. But, OMG, how can you order a plate full of mashed potatoes with all of these ridiculously delicious Italian food offerings?!

He also is the one to order a vanilla ice-cream cone at the top ice-cream spot in the city. That kind of thinking is so beyond my comprehension that I am befuddled.  

But I have learned, through time (why must wisdom always involve aging?), that it is perfectly okay to be “a plate of mashed potatoes and vanilla ice-cream cone kind of guy”.

Today I have spent some time thinking about vanilla ice-cream. That is not a statement you often hear. 

Vanilla ice-cream is actually pretty amazing. Here is why. 

It is simple. It has fewer ingredients than other ice-cream, which in the food world, is a good thing. So it is great all by itself. 

However, the really great part is that it can be dressed up. Vanilla ice-cream is like a fresh sheet of paper or an artist’s blank canvas. How fun is it to pour chocolate syrup into vanilla ice-cream and stir it up? I used to do that as a kid. 

And how fun is it to make a trifle in a beautiful glass bowl with layers of pure white vanilla ice-cream, layers of brownie chunks, layers of beautiful red strawberries and layers of whipped cream with chopped pecans?! And truly, it is nothing but delightful to drizzle caramel topping over mountains of vanilla ice-cream. 

If I had to classify myself as ice-cream, I have come to the conclusion that I do not want to be mocha chip (one of my favorites), or rocky road or moose tracks or peachy crunch, I want to be vanilla. 

Vanilla is flexible and knows how to adapt. Vanilla can be an introvert or an extrovert. Vanilla knows it is amazing all on its own and has weathered the storm. It can handle anything and still remain true to its roots, literally.  

Vanilla ice-cream knows how to be a classic yet also knows how to doll it up for a night on the town. 

Yep, I want to be vanilla.

Jello Stories

So it is National Eat your Jello Day. I have three stories associated with Jello. 

The first one is my personal memory of Jello. Several times I have written about the way we ate as a family growing up; simple, home-cooked, delicious meals around the kitchen table. We did not have dessert every evening but when we did it was pudding or a made-from-scratch cake or Jello. It was often red Jello. My mama would add a can of fruit cocktail so it was full of fun, chunky, varied pieces of fruit. It was so good! 

My second thought about Jello is from one of my favorite movies, My Best Friend’s Wedding. I am not completely sure why I love this movie. It does not have a 100% happy ending, but there are sweet parts and funny parts and sad parts and the music is wonderful.

In one scene, Julia Roberts’ character, who is a food critic by profession, is telling Cameron Diaz’s character that she is creme brûlée and when you are creme brûlée, you cannot be Jello. Diaz’s character is upset, crying that she wants to be Jello. Roberts’ character forcibly tells her that she will NEVER be Jello.

Who knew being Jello was such a great thing? You have to see the movie, trust me. 

And third, today, while driving home from running errands, I heard a woman on the radio talking about the importance of instilling values into your very young children. She stated that it is not too far fetched to say that what a child is at age seven, is the adult he or she will be. Wow. No pressure.

She went on to say that as a young mother, she would often take her children to the mall early in the day to walk the little ones in the stroller and let the bigger ones walk along side and look at all the stores. One day when she was there, she saw a large sign hanging from the ceiling of the mall which stated this:

A child’s mind is like Jello. Put the good things in before it sets.”

That impacted her greatly. She realized the major importance of being with her children from day to day to day and teaching them strong values and lessons.

I could not agree more. My little ones are all grown up into wonderful adults. I am so grateful for them; their love and care and their friendship. They are very dear to me. 

There are, however, days that I would love to do it all over again, to be better at it. But in spite of my shortcomings, and by God’s grace and mercy, the good things were put in before they were “set”. 

But really, we are all, regardless of age, still ‘setting’ to some degree. We can still put good things in, even if we wobble and jiggle just a bit. 

National Clerihew Day

I am a tad disappointed in myself. I am a writer and did not know the word clerihew. Shameful!

Perhaps I was out sick the day of school when my creative writing class teacher taught about clerihews. Or maybe I was distracted by trying to impress the handsome poet that sat three seats behind me. Either way, I missed the lesson.

A clerihew is a whimsical, four-line biographical poem invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley. The first line is the name of the poem’s subject, usually a famous person put in an absurd light, or revealing something unknown or misleading about them. The rhyme sequence is AABB, and the rhymes are often forced. The line length and metre are irregular. Bentley invented the clerihew in school and then popularized it in books. One of his best known is this, written in 1905:

Sir Christoper Wren

Said, “I am going to dine with some men.

If anyone calls

Say I am designing St. Paul’s”

Not earth-shattering. Not soul-search provoking. Not heart-crushing or heart-lifting. But cute, clever, and obviously it “took” since I am here, 113 years later, writing about National Clerihew Day. Go figure. 

I decided to give it a shot.

Rebecca, nearing sixty-one

believes that she may still be cool and fun

But little does she know

It may all be quite a big show

These clerihews are for the birds! I’m going back to Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

National Meteor Watch Day

I love meteor showers. I have, many times, set my alarm for 3:00 a.m. and stood on my front porch hoping to catch the fleeting light of a brightly burning comet. I have seen a few and it is truly spectacular. 

Meteor is defined as the visible passage of a glowing meteoroid, micrometeoroid or asteroid through Earth’s atmosphere, after being heated to incandescence by collisions with air molecules in the upper atmosphere, creating a streak of light via its rapid motion and sometimes also by shedding glowing material in its wake. 

That is scientifically correct, but I so much prefer the romantic name shooting star or falling star and all that connotes. 

Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket

Never let it fade away

Catch a falling star and it in your pocket

Save it for a rainy day

Tonight I did not see a meteor shower. However, I did see some amazingly beautiful fireworks. They were top-notch, crème-de-la-crème, professional fireworks. But that is not the amazing part. 

The amazing part is the love by which these fireworks were presented. The amazing part is the heart of three humans, hearts so good and caring and giving that these fireworks are nothing but a labor of love, love, love. And it shows.

I will continue to look for meteors and be moved by their beauty. But the brightest comets I ever hope to see pale in comparison to the light in the eyes and hearts of these three dear ones. They are incandescent through and through. 

National Sunglasses Day

I believe I may have always been a bit star-struck, even though, I cannot stress strongly enough that being star-struck was not a part of my growing up environment or mentality.

We were a very humble family; not poor, not rich. We knew we had adequate housing and clothing. I have never known what it is like to go hungry. For that, I am thankful.

There were never fashion magazines sitting around my house. Magazine subscriptions were indeed not on the family budget. So perhaps, growing up, I noticed some Good Housekeeping or Vogue magazines in the grocery checkout line. I’m not really sure, but somewhere along the way, I fell hard into loving accessories; bracelets and rings, earrings, hair bands and bows and barrettes, purses and shoes, makeup, and sunglasses.

I have mentioned in previous posts, that my mother was a seamstress. She made most of my high school wardrobe. I so enjoyed going with her to the fabric store and choosing material for my clothes. One of my favorite parts of those trips, though, was looking through the giant books of patterns—so many dresses and hairstyles and sunglasses wearing models.

Family members reading this blog, you may remember Aunt Lois Anne always wearing sunglasses to the family picnics. I remember thinking she must be cool. My mama never wore sunglasses when I was a girl or teen or even adult. She will wear them now, in the car to shield the brightness, when I find an extra pair in the console. 

I am rarely without sunglasses. In fact, I probably own about six pair. I have my daily faves plus a couple sports types for walking/running. 

With some certainty, I can state that in my younger years I may have worn sunglasses for the ‘cool’ affect but within the last five to 10 years, I have worn sunglasses for cosmetic reasons. I do not want to keep squinting at the sun and creating deeper crows feet than I have already.

I have a few sunglasses-looks that I love. One is Kelly McGillis in Top Gun. Totally cool. Also, Trinity in The Matrix, donning the Blinde brand. What a stud. And of course Audrey Hepburn flaunting her black Manhattan wayfarer-style in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The coolest of cool. 

An additional benefit to sunglasses-wearing is that others can’t see how old you really are. Not to sound vain, but I have had a few ‘glances’ from guys passing me in a car while wearing my Tom Cruise aviators. It makes me smile because in a three second car pass-by, they cannot know that beneath these sunglasses are significant laugh lines and dark circles from too little sleep, and that my baseball cap is worn simply to cover up my way-overdue hair “conditioning” appointment. 

Yep, sunglasses are the bomb. 

Cookies and Other Things

I had the distinct pleasure to spend a truly lovely evening with a dear cousin of mine, JK. On a side note, she is one of my loyal blog readers, for which I am very grateful.

JK spends two weekends a month with Mama. She is an incredible help to our family and Mama loves her completely. JK is a gem. She is authentic and kind and loving and fun. Mama once told her she is a goddess. Mama has never called me a goddess, but maybe someday. 

I am so glad that Mama loves her. Though, Mama has always loved her. JK is the youngest of three daughters born to my Mama’s closest sister, Jane. JK and her sisters pretty much grew up with my siblings and me. We were like one big family, living next door to each other for a while and after that, moved only one street away. 

This evening we grilled burgers then sat on the deck to eat and talk and laugh. JK said she was surprised that I did not write about a national day yesterday, being Saturday. I asked her what day it was that was being observed. She told it was National No Underwear Day. I laughed and told her that I did not know. I utilize a website called National Day Calendar. I checked that website tonight but it was not listed.

I decided to “Google it” to see what I could find. 

Upon research, I discovered a website which stated that June 23 was indeed No Panty Day. This is not to be confused with National Underwear Day on August 5. 

As you can imagine, I am a bit befuddled to write a blog about No Panty Day. My writing mind is bare as I am unsure how to undress this subject.

However, I did find it interesting that No Panty Day  coincided with these other national remembering days ~ National Hydration Day, National Pecan Sandies Day and National Pink Day.

And on that note, I will bid goodnight and leave the rest up to your imagination. 

National Donut Day

Donuts have become a problem. It used to be there were only a few varieties; glazed, cake, chocolate and maybe in specific seasons there would be a specialty one like pumpkin.

But wow, has the donut world changed. Now, donut shopping is a little like buying shampoo. There are so many choices! The colors and names pull you in…”buy me, buy me”, they beg.

This morning I hit Holtman’s Donuts, a true donut-lovers dream. A line of people led to the door from the parking lot. And they just kept coming. Holtman’s have the typical donuts but they also have chocolate bacon donuts and Crunch Berries topped donuts and Fruit Loops donuts and one of my personal favorites, red velvet donuts. I had one of those this morning. I could have eaten six more. 

National Donut Day started in 1938 as a fundraiser for Chicago’s The Salvation Army. Their goal was to help those in need during the Great Depression, and to honor The Salvation Army “Lassies” of World War I who served donuts to the soldiers. 

In Chicago and other cities, National Donut Day is still a fundraiser for The Salvation Army. In 2017, the organization joined with Russ’s Market, Super Saver, LaMar’s Donuts, Hurts Donuts and Krispy Kreme to raise funds. 

The bottom line is that buying, and most definitely, eating a donut today is your patriotic responsibility. It is the right thing to do.

National Donut Day. Finally a day I can really sink my teeth into.