A Pause for the comma

I believe I suffer from comma phobia. You heard me right. I have a sincere wish to avoid the little rascals altogether. They frighten me.

Unknown   I think it started when I proofread school papers for my daughter, and she would get downgraded from my removal of her commas.

This was then exacerbated when my best friend, Gail, a former college professor, raised her eyebrows at my journalistic use of commas, far sparser than her academic comma usage.

Let me also tell you, it is a point of honor for me that I scored 99th percentile in punctuation and grammar on my high school achievement tests. Every year. It is the only academic area where I can say that–except for my ability to recognize and name every instrument in the orchestra. But, that’s irrelevant here. I could diagram sentences with the best of them; I rarely got below A+ on any English grammar, spelling or punctuation test.    Unknown-1

So it rattles me that I am insecure in my use of the innocent comma.  I think some of the confusion stems from the transition from high school and college writing to journalism, where different expectations for comma usage exist, as I have already said.

Unknown-2   But, something inside tells me it is more than that. Lately I find myself insecurely adding commas where commas have never gone before. It’s a mixture of respect for Gail and her ilk, and fear of seeing them furrow their brows at my dearth of commas. I can almost hear the clicking tongues of the schoolteachers as they read my well-thought out commas.

I am no longer sure whether or not my meaning is clear without them; I end up giving the comma the benefit of the doubt, then I subject myself to more pain and suffering by re-reading my text and wrestling over whether to remove many of them.

I realize I cannot have this conversation with just any Tom, Jane or Sally, but  I know you care. I implore you to consider how much anguish we writers endure for the sake of clarity versus creativity, and accuracy versus enjoyable reading. Therein is the real problem: for some, enjoyment has nothing to do with accuracy; for others it is the very rock on which they stumble when their rules are not followed, and they cannot, for the sake of incorrect grammar, allow themselves to enjoy even an artistic sentence or phrase. It’s the old chalkboard squeak or the symphonic dissonance that they just cannot bear.

Much of the dilemma has become clearer to me in the readinUnknowng of Lynne Truss’s delightful book, Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, where she devotes an entire chapter to the worthy, small, but mighty, comma. (Truthfully, she is mostly an apostrophe kind of gal, but she does wax humorous in the comma chapter). Since the title of her book belies her disdain for misuse of the comma, I guess those little dears are important to her too. I mean, in case you haven’t figured it out, her title refers to Pandas who eat shoots and leaves. But, if the comma is erroneously inserted where it doesn’t belong, you will think the Panda has visited an eatery, had some dinner, shot the patrons, and exited. All because of a comma. Imagine!

Truss carefully explains that where the college student (or professor) might write: red, white, and blue, the journalist, me, would likely (definitely) spare you the “third degree” and write: red, white and blue. Actually, I get as frowny over Gail’s excessive use as she does my lack of. It seems to me that Gail and her colleagues simply insert commas, willy-nilly; I pride myself on deciding whether inserting that comma will better clarify the meaning of the sentence or not. If not, I restrain myself. I consider that a virtue.

The most illuminating part of Truss’s explanation is the origin of the little mark, and how it was used as much to allow the reader the proper tone, like in music, where pauses become part of the joy of reading aloud, as it was for clarity. She points out that the whole problem began when we started reading silently. So, now, I really get it.   Unknown

This is the pith of the matter: I write for audio–always have. My stuff is meant for radio, bedtime sharing, reading aloud to one’s self.

UnknownI think audio. Maybe that is why I need to be alone to write. I can’t have other noises around, or I don’t know what my words will sound like.

There you have it. I am giving myself permission to place commas only where they will “sound right.” I will know. Hopefully, you will agree. Not sure I will persuade Gail though.

Soon every day will be a Monday

th  Once upon a time, I did consulting for a workers’ compensation (no it’s not workman’s anymore) insurance company on Wall Street. I was marketing safety services to the utility industry, who were the clients of this insurance company.
I learned that in terms of safety, Mondays were the days when most accidents happened, and during a crisis, where there was high alert, few accidents happened.  th-1
Of course, my plan of action was to make the workers aware that Mondays WERE the crisis days to be aware of.
Recently, one of my print ad sales people sent me an email, which I misread, so my reply was not making sense. He resent the email in large, bold, RED letters. This was on a Monday. That time I got it. More recently, I sent a question, which he thought should have had an attachment, but didn’t. His humor to ask for the attachment was: “Aren’t Mondays wonderful!”

There really wasn’t supposed to be an attachment, so it was Monday for him too.
th-2 That reminded me of a trip to Panera Bread where they employ a lot of seniors. Now, I like seniors–usually. After all, I ARE one.
But, this was beyond funny: The older female person at the counter was literally steering the patron to more healthful choices with, “You really want the turkey with….” just like your mom would.

An older gentleman cashier was taking an order for something another patron wanted “on the side,” which he heard as a “side” salad. When the patron received the wrong order, the order taker cheerfully corrected it. But I had to chuckle that this was all about hearing impairment, and I was imagining the collection of order humor we are about to experience as seniors (read Baby Boomers) multiply in the workforce and hearing diminishes.
So, just think. With the economy tanking, and retirement savings interest and dividends dwindling, these Baby Boomers who already resist aging and the term Senior, are all going to be staying in the work force for another 30 years or so.   th-3
Imagine those customer service phone calls you now make being answered by older, wiser folks, if not the off-shore folks; your sandwiches being prepared by good old Mom–now good old Grandma too; and your goods and services being made and provided by this older generation.
th-4 Add to that most commercials for almost everything are being written and produced by 20-somethings who do not really speak the same language as the Boomers. The Millenniums speak South Park and its ilk. So you can expect to experience a sense of the surreal when you try to match up the ads to the in-store, online or on-the-phone experience you get at the actual point of purchase.

Humorous as this sounds, I predict we will all be having a lot of Mondays.

The Albrecht’s – Grocery wisdom

Very few people I talked to have ever heard of Karl and Theo Albrecht, brothers from Germany who have literally changed the thinking of many a grocery shopper.

th-2When I lived in California, I took for granted that Trader Joe’s ™ would always be a part of my life. Then I moved to a little village in Northern Illinois, and much to my disappointment, no Trader Joe’s ™ in a 60 mile radius.

I don’t drive Interstates, as you regular readers know. So my options were few, so I thought, in getting the special brands I used to thrive on. I felt relegated to the basic grocery store in town, where no Pirate Booty™ existed, nor fresh wild salmon at amazing prices, nor microbrews, nor German chocolates with a deliciousness not found at Hershey’s™, or often even at Ghirardelli’s™. I got used to it, gained 20 pounds (also due to the fact of winter, where walking three miles a day in ice and snow was not likely to happen.)

Then I moved to Connecticut. Also to small town, where, evidently no market was attractive to ™Trader Joe’s, enough to plant a store within 25 miles of my house. Sad. But true.

I was chatting with my California youngest daughter one day, one of the foodies in our family, and she gave me some amazing information:

“Did you know, Ma, that there are two brothers from Germany, who came from an entreprennuerial family, and wealth, but couldn’t agree on their grocery store ambitions for a business model, so they split the business into two, and each did his own business model–one upscale wholesale groceries, the other more basic wholesale, but still specialty groceries, where the emphasis was on affordability.”mk-at857_aldi_g_20090112172432

“No, I did not know that,” I replied. Who are they?

“The Albrecht Brothers.” One started Trader Joe’s (Theo),

and the other (Karl) branded Aldi’s.  th

th-1      Sadly, Karl, at 94, the Aldi’s brother, has now also died, in 2014.

Forbes ranked his net worth at about $26 Billion. Theo, died in 2010, with a net worth of about $16B.

Both stores grew to global popularity, and the brothers also brought the idea of discount grocery to Europe.

But, what I did with my daughter’s information, was to take another look at Aldi’s, which is present both in my Enfield, CT town, and was present close to home, had I realized the offering, in Northern, IL.

After all, if I can’t drive myself to TJ’s, I could at least check out, what I imagined to be the next best thing.

On my shopping trip with my new, more appreciative eye, I did, indeed, discover things I had not discerned before I was armed with knowledge.

Aldi’s™ prices, for one thing, are not just about affordability, they are also about offering high quality at wholesale prices. Gourmet cheeses, produce, cereals, and that amazing German chocolate are there. The chocolate bars, for instance, are $1.99, where the same type of American bar sells for at least $2.50 on a good day, and $3.00 typically. Produce, like pineapple’s are $1.39 rather than the $2.99-$3.99 even at Costco, which I love.

Before I had just written off the store as a warehouse grocery, without anything special to offer.

But, now I saw that the variety and the number of specialty items, though not what you find at TJ’s, is pretty special.

Aldi’s™ gives consumers these great deals by cutting costs on consumer amenities, charging for shopping carts, shopping bags, and not taking credit cards. (They do accept debits.)

So if you need the luxury accoutrement with your luxury foods, this isn’t the idea at Aldi’s.

But if you want deeply discounted goat cheese, and you bring your own bag, you will be very happy.  300x300px-LS-847cbdbc_1209646410_Ai_FWLNCAAE4MU3.jpg-large

Not sure if the business models will continue to thrive, with the passing of the two founders, but I hope so. These men, who began all of this post-WWII, made a big impression on American and European shoppers.

I don’t plan to ever move back to California, now that we have our wonderful River House. And, on my semi-annual trips to Calif., to see the kids and grands, I really didn’t like stuffing my already sparse luggage space, with goodies from my favorite California store.

Now I don’t have to.

TLC at the DMV

th-3   Avoidance of the dreaded DMV visit had to end. After all, legally, our transfer from Illinois to Connecticut should have happened in 30 days. But, that didn’t take into consideration hotel life for 17 months, the not-sale of our IL home, and the continued “temporary living” status we enjoyed for most of 2008 and 2009.
But it was time. So on our first 80 degree day in April, the air-conditioned DMV seemed like a good place to escape the heat. 🙂 Right?

My first DMV line happily placed me next to older teens who knew a lot more than I about DMV lines. They must have noticed my old-lady lost look, and they took pity, telling me I really didn’t have to do this particular line, and could go directly to kiosk (GO)–although no mention was made about collecting any salary–and in fact, the kiosk wanted me to swipe a card, get my picture taken (not for the license–who knows for what!) and obtain a receipt which would allow me the joy of skipping over to the inching centipede–thousand-legger line on the other side of the building. This line was for those wishing a CT drivers license, update, driving or eye test, or replacement license.

Thank you teenagers! The pre-kiosk line had only cost me an initial ten minutes, rather than an additional hour.  th

But, this was still an hour and a half until my turn at the desk where I had to show ID, an address with my name on it, and surrender my passport and Illinois license. Didn’t know I needed a proof of address. Raced to my car, tore off a cardboard box address label that thank God was still in my car, raced back to the desk and presented it.

Noooooo. It was NOT a piece of mail.

“Oh come on!” I mistakenly called it a UPS box, instead of the legitimate USPS. They sound so similar, and after calling on an officer of the law to accept this–which he would not as UPS, but okayed as USPS I heaved a “whew!!” I was in.

I sat back down in the eye-test waiting area and listened in on various conversations–parents and teens, new residents, disgruntled people who didn’t think it was a good idea to waste April’s first 80 degree day.
My turn at the eye test. I was really stressing out the binoculars. We already know from my trip to Holyoke that I have challenges with my amblyopic situation. My testing officer was a dear man, about my age. Don’t these police people have crimes to solve? Never been to a DMV that used police officers for eye tests.

Unknown
“Um. Can’t do the binocular thing,” I confessed. “Which eye would you like me to use first?” I think my innocence was a plus.

“Left eye, please,” he said. “Okay, then.” Numbers, not letters–aced it.

Then the dreaded right eye, which is yellowing, according to my optometrist, but not enough for cataract surgery yet. 🙁 “I slipped on prescription sunglasses.) Aced this one too.

Then he said, “Which sign is closer?”

“Oh-oh,” said I. “Also a binocular question. I have no idea.”

“Try again,” he prodded, not able to process my dilemma.

“Um. Ok. But, they all look the same.”

He gave me one of the most tender looks I have ever seen, even outside of a DMV. Well I have actually never seen a kind look inside a DMV until this day.

“But, then how do you see which car is closer?” he asked, totally genuine, concerned for my welfare (which we all know is well-placed concern. See Finding My Way–scroll back).

“Well, I compensate,” I told him. “And, I don’t drive at night, and I don’t do Interstates, and I don’t put myself in situations where this might be a problem,” to which he gave me a look of incredulity but still kind.   th-1

“I probably don’t see it as well as you do,” I offered, hoping ego-boosting (for him, not me) would help my case.
In the meantime, dear Jay decided this was a good time to check in, and my cell phone blared Santa Baby by Eartha. Now the sign at the desk clearly says no one can have a cell phone on. I forgot to turn mine off. Santa Baby played its whole theme because I wasn’t audacious enough to answer it, or even reach to turn it off.
The USPS approver walked through our eye test area, leaned in, and exclaimed, “You have just made my day. I love that song.”
I was so happy to have made someone’s day!! Christmas in April. Who knew? Santa Baby on a contraband cell phone!! At the DMV!

My officer was writing some things on his paper, winding up my test report, when he threw me another curve (which I could see).

“Were you using prescription glasses?”   Unknown-1

“Um. Only on my right eye. I assure you, I use my left eye more. So pleeeeease don’t put ‘Needs correction’ on that paper. I haven’t had an accident that was my fault in 40 years of driving,” I said, hoping this too would comfort him. (After leaving the DMV, I realized I have been driving a tad longer than 40 years. Oh well. I didn’t get the math genes. And, that made me sound younger.)

He sighed. I wasn’t sure what he wrote, so I pushed my luck.

“You aren’t writing glasses on that, right? Cause, really, I mostly use my left eye.” I don’t think that had been a sigh of relief, but rather of resignation.

“No,” he said, shaking his head, and still that look of, “I hope she’ll be alright.”

I took my seat for another wait–this time the real picture. Only two hours and I was more than half way through–so I imagined.

It only took a half hour to get to the picture–and these people are nice.

“You’re way too nice to work at a DMV,” I said to my final desk gal. “How do you explain them letting you work here?”

“They let us drink,” she said straight-faced.

“Nice, and a sense of humor!” Unbelievable.

It took six tries to get my picture with the hopes my left eye wouldn’t turn in, as it does when I am tired. The two hour wait wore me down. I was tired. My left eye turned in. 🙁

th-1
“So I have to wait till the renewal for a new picture?” I asked. “2016?”

She smiled. She had tried. I couldn’t ask for portrait quality, even from this obviously caring soul after her six tries to get my eye right.

Oh well. Only a final half hour to request the procedure for me saving Jay from this two and a half hours of waiting, which another very nice desk person explained and gathered forms for.

Armed with power of attorney, registration forms for two cars, a motorcycle, and a temporary registration for getting the motorcycle from Massachusetts to Connecticut for its real registration, all that remained was getting insurance on the vehicles, and double-checking the list of must-haves: copies of Jay’s license, address proofs that matched each vehicle, and bank checks in the names of all participating registerees. Sounds easy, easy as pie, right? But, then it’s the DMV, which I have to say was not as odious a visit as I had anticipated, but still not the way I usually spend the first 80 degree day in April.

NOTE: This post originally appeared in April, 2010 on www.spinningstrawintogold.blogspot.com. It is reposted here by request.

A pause for the comma

I believe I suffer from comma phobia. You heard me right. I have a sincere wish to avoid the little rascals altogether. They frighten me. I think it started when I proofread school papers for my daughter, and she would get downgraded from my removal of her commas. This was then exacerbated when my best friend, Gail, a former college professor, raised her eyebrows at my journalistic use of commas, far sparser than her academic comma usage.

th
Let me also tell you, it is a point of honor for me that I scored 99th percentile in punctuation and grammar on my high school achievement tests. Every year. It is the only academic area where I can say that–except for my ability to recognize and name every instrument in the orchestra. But, that’s irrelevant here. I could diagram sentences with the best of them; I rarely got below A+ on any English grammar, spelling or punctuation test.

So it rattles me that I am insecure in my use of the innocent comma.
I think some of the confusion stems from the transition from high school and college writing to journalism, where different expectations for comma usage exist, as I have already said. But, something inside tells me it is more than that.

th
Lately I find myself insecurely adding commas where commas have never gone before. It’s a mixture of respect for Gail and her ilk, and fear of seeing them furrow their brows at my dearth of commas. I can almost hear the clicking tongues of the schoolteachers as they read my well-thought out commas.  th
th-1 I am no longer sure whether or not my meaning is clear without them; I end up giving the comma the benefit of the doubt, then I subject myself to more pain and suffering by re-reading my text and wrestling over whether to remove many of them.
I realize I cannot have this conversation with just any Tom, Jane or Sally, but I know you care. I implore you to consider how much anguish we writers endure for the sake of clarity versus creativity, and accuracy versus enjoyable reading. Therein is the real problem: for some, enjoyment has nothing to do with accuracy; for others it is the very rock on which they stumble when their rules are not followed, and they cannot, for the sake of incorrect grammar, allow themselves to enjoy even an artistic sentence or phrase. It’s the old chalkboard squeak or the symphonic dissonance that they just cannot bear.
th-2Much of the dilemma has become clearer to me in the reading of Lynne Truss’s delightful book, Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, where she devotes an entire chapter to the worthy, small, but mighty, comma. (Truthfully, she is mostly an apostrophe kind of gal, but she does wax humorous in the comma chapter). Since the title of her book belies her disdain for misuse of the comma, I guess those little dears are important to her too. I mean, in case you haven’t figured it out, her title refers to Pandas who eat shoots and leaves. But, if the comma is erroneously inserted where it doesn’t belong, you will think the Panda has visited an eatery, had some dinner, shot the patrons, and exited. All because of a comma. Imagine!
Truss carefully explains that where the college student (or professor) might write: red, white, and blue, the journalist, me, would likely (definitely) spare you the “third degree” and write: red, white and blue. Actually, I get as frowny over Gail’s excessive use as she does my lack of. It seems to me that Gail and her colleagues simply insert commas, willy-nilly; I pride myself on deciding whether inserting that comma will better clarify the meaning of the sentence or not. If not, I restrain myself. I consider that a virtue.
The most illuminating part of Truss’s explanation is the origin of the little mark, and how it was used as much to allow the reader the proper tone, like in music, where pauses became part of the joy of reading aloud, as much as it was used for clarity. She points out that the whole problem began when we started reading silently.
th-3   So, now, I really get it. This is the pith of the matter: I write for audio–always have. My stuff is meant for radio, bedtime sharing, reading aloud to one’s self. I think audio. Maybe that is why I need to be alone to write. I can’t have other noises around, or I don’t know what my words will sound like.
There you have it. I am giving myself permission to place commas only where they will “sound right.” I will know. Hopefully, you will agree. Not sure I will persuade Gail though.

LG

LIFE IS GOOD!

On the river, there is an ever changing view, each day, each week, each month, each season, and really each hour. It’s like God has given us a dynamic art gallery, right in our backyard.

Often in the early morning the sepia tones give the river an artistic quality that almost cries out for a watercolor rendition.  Attachment-1

Then as the sun lifts higher in the sky, the river turns whatever color the day is bringing.

IMG_1838  Lately that is a muddy blue because the refuse of winter is collecting.  IMG_1734

 

 

 

 

Only a couple of days ago, the remaining pieces of ice were flowing

downriver, but now they are not to be seen.

The ice blue beauty is on its way, IMG_1698

and soon the trees will sprout their green against that amazing blue. By evening, the monochromes are back, but the wintry whites, not the browns of morning.

IMG_1608

But, whatever the view, we are so blessed to have this beauty to drink in every single day we are here.

It almost deters a person from touring the world, because, truly, we have a resort-like picturesqueness to enjoy, with no travel expenses.   DSCN0815

Spring always brings new hope, a refreshment from the long. cold. winter. And this past one was a doozy. Our heating bill just went from $798 to $520–YAY!, among other things to celebrate about spring.   th

 

Tomorrow is Easter. He is risen, in my heart, in reality.

I am so thankful to God for arranging the universe to let us have our river house, and all of the joy it brings.

From nuts to heaters and buckwheat to gifts

I have to admit it. I am an AmazonLLC addict. And, I am not apologizing!

I remember reading a New York Times story a few years ago about a woman in New York City who was a GrouponTM addict. She bought so many Groupons that she ran out of time to use them all before their expiration dates. That gave me fair warning and I immediately cut down on my ordering, learned to put them on my calendar right away to view the number of coupons and the expiration dates, and generally became a sensible saver, mostly for dining, massages and home decor products.

No such warning occurred for ordering from AmazonLLC. Truthfully, no such warning would get through to me. What happens is I go to a store to find a product, and often they don’t have my color or my size.

Or I go to the store to buy food, and then have to lug it home. So, I began to compare and price these items on Amazon LLC, and much to my surprise, there was almost nothing I was buying anywhere that wasn’t readily available on with free shipping (I am a Member) and two-day delivery.

That meant I could order my Tax software,  

my bedroom slippers, my canned goods, my bulk nuts and organic flours (often from Bob’s Red Mill),

and a wide variety of other things–even toilet paper. A little note here about Bob’s Red Mill. I thought I was ordering Buckwheat Groats for homemade muesli, but instead ordered Creamy Buckwheat cereal. So I called Bob’s Red Mill to ask about toasting the flakes and not using water to hydrate them. Not only were they helpful, I felt like I was calling family. They were friendly, and we had quite a little discussion about my question. I ended up being happy I had mistakenly gotten the flakes, because they are better for toasting and the muesli will be softer, so we don’t break a tooth on the groats if they are not hydrated. So happy to be their customer.                                                                                           

I could buy toys and gifts for my four children and eight grandchildren and have it shipped free to them in California. Way better than going to a store, wrapping the gift, mailing it myself. I have sent Legos, chess boards,  comic books, jewelry, books and gift cards to them, and there’s been no hassle.

The only product I have had trouble with has been the Mocking Jay necklace I have now ordered twice for my granddaughter. The first one never arrived, and the second attempt, if it does arrive, will be here after her birthday, even though I ordered it a month ahead of time. This one is not from AmazonLLC direct, but from a third-party vendor. That can be a problem, but has not been a problem with their own merchandise.

I began to, just for the fun of it, compare even things I would have never expected to find on Amazon: like the tankless water heater for our river house renovation, which was the same price as from the manufacturer’s site, and the bathroom fan and light,
but came to us in two days.

Once I realized I could order my organic almonds, coconut sugar, organic rolled oats, and tankless water heater in the same order, I became a little nuts about this system. I also learned about their subscription program for groceries. So now, although I am still a Costco TM member, I can purchase many grocery items at a 15% discount (if I have five products on order), and space them however I wish on the program, and then have them delivered to my door, so no lugging. I’m telling you, this is just too easy.

I can’t really find a disadvantage to this shopping site, except maybe clicking “add to my cart” is a little too easy. But, I guess that’s really what’s it’s all about. It so easy and convenient, and most of the time, I was going to buy these things anyway, that I just enjoy having it all ordered from one place.

This online company has brought one-stop shopping to a new level–and I like that. For those of you who have to see and touch before ordering, I recommend going out and seeing and touching and then coming home and finding it all. Returns are also easy. What a company! I was already sold on Kindle and ebooks. And, I love my Membership for Movies and Videos, especially their original programming like their original shows. And I love my music, although this needs a little work, because they haven’t really streamlined it yet for things like Sonos speakers ( also bought my
wireless Sonos from. This has to be one of my favorite all time purchases. I can stream radio and music throughout my whole house.

So, since almost everything I buy is on Amazon LLC (I mean is there anything Amazon LLC doesn’t sell?), and since I usually pay no shipping, and since I usually find what I need exactly in right size and color, why not use this convenience for everything I can?

 

Are you ready?

Are you ready? It seems, lately, if you listen to radio, that everyone from Homeland Security to FEMA to various other agencies, is using their PSAs (Public Service Announcements) to warn the public about impending disasters.  shazam_slide

So do they know something we don’t know?

I thought our President was confident that everything is under control.

So why the non-stop ads to tell us: “Winging it is not an emergency plan.”

I see it on billboards too, as I drive down the Interstate. (Okay, I mean as I ride. You all know if I drove Interstates, I would need a different kind of emergency plan).

Now let me be clear, even though every time I do this many readers attack me as though I had not been clear: I DO THINK EVERYONE NEEDS AN EMERGENCY PLAN!

11525668303_1d31cbfe08_q    However, I can’t remember hearing these ads in such preponderance, even in the early years following the September 11 crisis, when we were supposedly on high alert.

And, along with these dire warnings, masked as advertising campaigns to help us, we also have never seen so many major retailers selling emergency food supply at the level we have seen in the last five or six years. And even if we don’t spend hundreds on a year’s supply of dehydrated food, we certainly do pause in the canned goods aisles of the grocery, more than we ever have.

So what is this really about?

Could it be that our government is trying to warn us, in a more subtle manner than “late, breaking news,” and that by running these “be prepared” ads, daily, they are really trying to let us know there is an imminent problem?

440px-Apocalypse_vasnetsov   So many apocalyptical conditions are falling into place around the world. For those of us who believe the Bible predicts end times events, it would certainly seem we have never seen conditions line up at the level they do now.

We Biblical folks though, also believe that we do not know the times or the seasons for these events, and that we have a God who is in charge of our future, and the future of the world. Actually, the state of mind we are to be in is not fear, but readiness, no matter when it is going to happen. And, that readiness is not just about food. It is about readiness of the soul.

That said, either way, the government is letting you and me know that we must be prepared, and soon. We need to do several things:

Get a Go Kit together

Arrange a meeting place for the family

Store supplies like food, flashlights, water to last for weeks, and have

Can opener

Tools to turn off utilities

First aid kit     th

Dust mask

Flashlights

Local maps

Battery powered radio

Cell phones with solar powered chargers

Towelettes, garbage bags

Personal hygiene supplies

And, don’t forget a whistle–this is to call for help

I feel a bit of apprehension just typing up the list.

In the old days, we added a rope and rope ladder to escape a fire. I think the new ads are warning of way more scary things than escaping a fire.

I hope you are ready. I hope you are safe. I wish you faith and peace in all of this.

Because I believe we may be entering a time where you may need more than your Go Kit.

th-1For what it’s worth: Believing you’re in control of the universe is not an end-times plan. It’s kind of like “winging it” without the wings.

Figs vs. Food Assassins

OK, warning: this is a rant about food assassins!

IMG_1614    My ranting could be because, beautiful as it is on the river, it is brrr-cold and windy and even the river seems to bubble its complaints. You can see its ripples and almost a tide stretching out from the bank to its middle. The ducks aren’t playing, or even flying overhead. My toes are cold, the radiant heat is working hard, where in this 30 degrees F feels like 15 degrees F, it has to heat the floor to 82 degrees F to get us 65 degrees F.

That being said, it has nothing to do with the actual rant I intend. It’s just that cold brings out the guttural response to stuff. After two weeks in less than warmish, but sunny California, where the nearest “good” produce is blocks away, not an hour away, like in Enfield, CT, I got used to having good-for-you produce, and delicious, albeit, largely vegan food at my daughter’s house.    orange-beauty-smoothie-copy

Unknown-8     So returning to the cold weather, chain store produce, and temptation to eat packaged, processed food (which is less tempting when going out for treats requires facing frigid temps and strong winds outside), I, instead, reached for my dried figs, rehydrated them, and am munching on this amazing sweet treat with all kinds of goodness resident, like fiber, minerals, vitamins, anti-oxidents, lowering blood sugar, helping with weight loss, enough tryptophan to induce sleep, and enough calcium to ward off bone loss.

Try getting that from your Twinkies!

Why I call them food assassins

It just gets me thinking of how God created all of these amazing tastes for us, including sweet, sweet fruit, that when dried is even sweeter, and when dried concentrates the benefits, yet we geniuses have decided to discard wholesome snacks like figs, and reach for highly refined white flour, white sugar, no-nutritent, high calorie, high fat, processed snacks that do absolutely no good, and actually do harm.

better-choice-than-american-food-assassin-brands    Even if you do want a processed snack, try comparing a European cookie, for instance, to an American one. A serving for the folks across the pond may be 4 or 5 cookies, to our 1 for the same calories. Why? Why? Why?

I believe it has to be in the ingredients and the processing.

Watching documentaries like FOOD, INC. had me sobbing throughout, with how we are literally killing ourselves, with stupidity and greed, and feeding these obnoxious concoctions we call food to children.  I promise you, you can’t watch this and have no response.  foodincdvd_sm_dvd_image_0

We are usually consuming what the documentary calls “food-like products,” which replace actual food and nutrition. And, the mega-companies make it difficult for us to shop in normal grocery stores and hope to get anything like the whole, delicious foods God intended for us to consume. Even the whole foods that are there, are likely to have been picked and stored for long enough periods of time to decrease any nutrients they could have offered.

So, yes, I know it’s a choice. And, yes, I know a cookie or two, even a Twinkie, isn’t going to kill us. But a lifetime of eating this x&%(*xx@# daily IS going to seriously reduce the quality of our lives and health, and is probably going to shorten our lifespans.

You don’t have to switch to being a vegan or a vegetarian.

You don’t have to give up the tastes you love.

But, for the love of God and your own lives, please, consider taking some baby steps in this new year toward making choices for life.

I promise there isn’t a taste you can’t enjoy, and a processed food you will miss, once you get on the right track.

For starters, have a daily snack of dried figs. You will love them.

And, for some great tips of sharing life-changing, healthful recipes and lifestyle, visit three of my favorite sites: 

Foodscape – Nutritious Bites

Living Lighter with Laura 

www.be-still-farms.com/blogs

 

 

 

 

Ducks and geese

Some of the new sounds in my life are the quacking and honking of ducks and geese. I am learning some of the habits of these creatures, as I see them gather, feed, fly and play on our river. They arrive in this December season about 8 am and then fly away, somewhere, and return around dinner time. I am not sure what they do in between, but their numbers have greatly diminished since fall.

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These little darlings who have stayed around are noisy. If you don’t have to arise before 8am, you could count on their wild honks as an alarm clock. Really, they are that dependable. Not an expert on discerning a quack from a honk yet, but I will get this too, someday.

It seems some of the ducks and, I think mostly geese, flew somewhere else for the winter. I need to get a close up sometime of every type, so I can learn which are geese, which are ducks, and what types they are.  ct-river-ducks

It is all so new and it’s not as easy to tell a duck from a goose as you might think. I mean it’s not like one is white and one is black.  OK. Maybe it’s the neck. Help! I told  you I am blind.

Unknown My husband and I speculate that the local geese fly south, but maybe the Canada geese don’t want such a radical temperature change as the southern winter, and settle for our Connecticut temps for their winter abode. Not really sure if ducks migrate like geese. Again, so much to learn. And, by the way, we used to say Canadian geese, but the correct name, we have now learned, is Canada geese.

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I see black and white water fowl–ducks or geese, not sure which is which–and they seem to arrive at different times. Sometimes, in the day time, some of them, both white and black, seem to return for some frolicking on the river. They dive and immerse and return to river top.

IMG_1529   It also seems they arrive when the river is calmer. Lately, we have had some serious winds and rain, and the ducks duck out for that. Not completely sure. I am new at this duck-watching business. I will keep you posted as I get more informed.