Saturday, August 24, 2013

Peanut Butter is My Friend for Life...Best Sandwich...Peanut Butter, Mayonnaise, and Banana. YUM!!

If someone asked me what my favorite food is, I might say broccoli, but even though I do love this wonderfully healthy vegetable, I must say that my favorite food of all time has to be peanut butter. If there is nothing else in the house to eat but peanut butter and bread, I'm fine with it. If bread is not available, crackers will do. If crackers are not available, a big ol' spoonful of the stuff will do. Peanut butter is my comfort food. Peanut butter is my friend for life.

I'm not sure when I first tasted this wonderfully delicious spread, but I'll bet my daddy gave me a taste of it when I was a baby. He loved peanut butter just about as much as I do. Back in my day, Sunbeam or Wonder Bread were the choices of those who were bread connoisseurs. These breads were white, soft, and fluffy and what I called "gushy." Unlike the sliced white bread of today, it seemed to have some taste, and never ever had a "purchase by this date" stamped on it. Bread was delivered to the stores fresh from the bakery and once they were a day old, they were sent to the day old store. Now breads have purchase dates of up to two or three weeks from the actual purchase. God knows what they have added to these loaves to keep them fresh. Probably some unpronounceable chemical. 

Anyway, Mom or Dad would make me a peanut butter sandwich slathered on that white bread, and I would squish it almost flat before I ate it. Of course, if it had some of Daddy's homemade blackberry jelly, I didn't mess with the sandwich. I just ate it with relish, more than likely finishing with peanut butter and jelly on my face almost up to my cheeks. I was not a neat eater. In fact my mom could always guess what I had for my school lunches just about every day. "Oh, I see you had chili today," as she looked at me with that all knowing smile. One time I told her, "No, I had soup." But she knew better. "No, no, young lady. You most certainly did not. That's definitely chili with a bit of peanut butter sandwich smeared on that shirt." I never could fool her.

My after school snack was usually something with peanut butter. I never tired of it. In fact, I have never, to this day, tired of it. As I got a bit older, I began to experiment with what went well with peanut butter in a sandwich. Of course, jelly was a favorite, but then I also loved crisp crunchy lettuce on the sandwich and still eat a peanut butter and lettuce sandwich on occasion. Do you think this is odd? Well, people eat peanut butter on celery. I see very little difference.

I also liked to put potato chips with peanut butter, but later just ate a plain ol' potato chip sandwich. I still sneak that every so often, and I feel really guilty about eating something that bad for me. But I do eat it on Honey Wheat bread with no high fructose corn syrup. That should count for something. I also liked a peanut butter and butter sandwich. Boy, I was a really skinny kid. You'd think with all the peanut butter and my concoctions I had as a steady diet, I would have been pudgier. Never was.

My favorite sandwich of all time is peanut butter, mayonnaise, and banana. My late great sister-in-law, Mollie, and I used to eat those things all the time. They were luscious. Still are, for that matter. Yes, I do eat one every so often. I don't fry it in butter like Elvis did, but I understand why he liked the combination. Just recently, Mollie's grandson announced that his son loved peanut butter, mayonnaise, and banana sandwiches. Mollie would be so happy about that. She probably knows anyway.

On facebook, a good friend of mine had a picture of a box of the newly introduced cereal...Peanut Butter Toast Crunch. My daughter wrote on the post..."Don't show this to my mother!" But it was too late. I'd already seen it and my mouth was already watering. My daughter beseechingly wrote..."STEP AWAY, MOM. STEP AWAY.

It's too late. My keys are in my hand. I'm headed out to the grocery store.

Oh wait. I need to go back and get my snack...peanut butter and crackers. Is there anything else?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Harvard Classics, Jr. Classics, School Annuals--A Journey Through My Wonder Years

Today, my plans were to clear off a bookshelf upstairs that was full of old books. As I set about my task, a dusty one that reaffirmed that I have never been a domestic goddess, I carefully took down my "Harvard Classics." This was a set of books that my parents bought us kids years ago so that we would be up on English and American classic literature, poetry, Shakespeare, you name it.

I have to say, and I do this in a non bragging way, that I have read just about everything in those books back in my childhood and teen years. It was and still is good stuff....interesting literature written by the Masters. Beowulf is one of my favorite stories. It's supposedly the oldest epic poem, but it's like all the types of stories I like to read. It's about good versus evil, and it has a big bad monster in it. I love most Shakespeare. Truth be told, I love to read. It was instilled in us (my sister, brother, and me) from the time we were very young. Being an Air Force family, we traveled a lot. In every place we traveled, my mother found the library and took us there. I loved the library in New York City. It had that distinct smell of books along with wood and oil soap. If I close my eyes, I can smell it now.

But I digress. I took the books off the shelf, dusted them one at a time and put them in a box. We didn't need those old books. I took the Jr. Classics off the shelf, dusted them and put them in the box with the Harvard Classics. No one had opened any of those books in years. My children are all grown. They read them back in the day, but then technology came along and much more complex research could be found on the internet After I boxed those books, I went toward some larger books and discovered school annuals, my annuals. Much to my delight, I found an annual from Waller Elementary School in Bossier City, Louisiana. It was from 1956 and I was in the 3rd grade. I had forgotten I even owned that book.

Without so much as a thought to continuing the task of cleaning that shelf, I gathered up all my annuals and carried them downstairs to go through them. The next hour and a half brought giggle inducing reminiscences of a childhood now long gone.  I smiled when I saw the faces of Carol and Nancy Wilson, twins who were my best friends at Waller. I saw Denise Caruzzi and thought about how much I wanted cute little sandals like hers, but I had to wear corrective high top ugly brown shoes because I was pigeon toed.

 I opened the pages of an annual dated 1960, and, at first, had no idea what school it was. Lo and behold, it was from Salina Jr. High School in Salina, Kansas. My family was stationed at Schilling Air Force Base, and I loved it there. My best friend was Marga Lee and we had just the most fun times together. This annual was from my 7th grade and there I was smiling at the end of row two in my black corduroy jumper with a white blouse and a black velvet ribbon tied at my throat. I can remember that outfit like it was yesterday. I also had a gray full skirt with a pink poodle on it. Boy, did I love that skirt.

I remember my math teacher was Mrs. Morrison, and almost every Friday, she and I would have a multiplication speed contest at the board. Now, I have to admit to being able to multiply really quickly. I beat her a few times when we had these really long problems on the board. The kids in the room would just go nuts. Thinking back, I wonder if she let me win. She was that kind of teacher..all knowing and just great.

I didn't have anything from the 8th grade at Smithwood Elementary in Knoxville, Tennessee. My daddy had retired from the Air Force at 37 years old for some reason. I think it had something to do with his girls and Airmen and the Vietnam War. Anyway, I went from a junior high to an elementary school, and it was a culture shock for me. Just about all the kids grew up together and no one had been out of the United States...a lot not even out of the state. I was pretty miserable that year, not because the kids weren't nice. They were. I just missed talking with kids who had traveled like me. I survived with the help of books. I immersed myself in Trixie Belden books. The Bobbsey Twin sagas were too young for me by then. Funny thing is, I never got into Nancy Drew books, but I liked "The Hardy Boys" anything.

I went through my Holston High School annuals one by one. The first day I met three girls who would become my friends all through high school...Hilda, Gwen, and Marlene. I scoured those annuals for pictures of us and noticed what a gawdawful picture my junior year was. When I was 15, I read "Gone With the Wind" in three days straight. I don't think I slept much. Mama fretted about me staying up, but she mostly left me alone.  It was a glorious experience. I also read "1984" by George Orwell and it changed my way of thinking. I read the book in 1962 so 1984 was still pretty far away, but I thought about it.

I went on to my college annuals from Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee. It was a Baptist college and had some pretty strict rules when I first got there, rules I wasn't used to. I thought many of them were silly like not letting women wear pants except hidden under a raincoat or not allowing women to be out later than guys and that sort of thing. I was a women's libber way before there were women's libbers, but I had a ball at that college. I didn't let rules define me. I was a drama person, so I was going to hell in a hand basket anyway. I loved my drama teacher, John Lee Weldon, and I still follow his guidance to this day when I'm in the local productions at our little theater. The rules changed by my junior year anyway.

It brought back so many memories to see some of my best friends in college. My roommate, Cheryl Bostic, and I were two of a kind. We were best buddies and still keep in touch. I also keep in touch with Jo Glover Donahoo. The summer I graduated Jo, Sandy French, Bryn Weirman and I were members of the Glover Girls. We didn't do much of anything, but our theme song was "Sweet Caroline" for some reason.

It was at Carson-Newman that my short story professor, Dr. Pettigrew, told me that I would be a writer some day. To a college junior who loved to write more than anything, those were sweet words I have never forgotten. He asked me to read my short story to the class for my final. I had balled it up in my pocket thinking it was not worthy, but on hand just in case. I remember as I struggled to read the wadded up paper that he had a grin on his face and a sparkle in his eyes. What a dear man he was.

It was a journey for me...going through those annuals. Those books told a lot about my life...who my friends were, what I did, what people thought of me with their autographs and paragraphs within the pages. I evidently was a "sweet girl with a great personality." I had to snicker when some guy said something about my Irish temper and flashing Irish eyes. Lordy, that was a long time ago in a different world.

I didn't get the rest of the book shelf cleaned off. I decided to dust that shelf and replace the books I put in a box. Those books are old and worn, but no longer dusty. I think I had great parents to get us books that meant something...that were/are timeless. I may just have to start with the first Harvard classic and read the whole set again. Or I may just take comfort in the fact that those old books, books from my growing up years, my wonder years, are still with me, settled on a comfortable shelf stay.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Honey Boo Boo, Duck Dynasty, and the CEE Ment Pond

I live in the South. I love it here despite the fact some of the population comes across as dimwitted ignoramuses, a favorite word of my late great mother-in-law, Evelyn Hatcher Brooks Causby born and raised in lower Alabama. I don't watch Honey Boo Boo, but, in truth, I don't much care if people do or not. It's entertainment....just not entertaining to me. That doesn't mean that anyone who watches...shouldn't. I just can't imagine why someone would think that a little girl whose behavior is questionable and her mama's behavior is...well, just not worth watching. I think people like to see people acting dysfunctional so that they can justify their behavior...which is better than Honey Boo Boo's mama....oh, and daddy. Truthfully, I know they love their little girl, and let's face it, they are making money acting a fool (as we say in the South).

Then, there is Duck Dynasty. This is about a family that has made gazillions off duck hunting and such paraphernalia. I have to admit that I've watched this and have laughed myself silly. The thing is, this is a savvy family of intelligent, some college educated people who know how to work the public. They have perfect comedic timing, know when to have a stoney expression, and generally look like they're having fun in the process. I'm sure this show is adding to their coffers, and as long as Uncle Si does his thing, people will watch. I don't watch it all the time because I just can't take such a steady dose of unkempt looking men and some of the family religiosity, but it's okay to laugh at these people every so often.

I have always had a real problem with TV and movies that depict southerners in a negative or unintelligent light. Truth be told, many people believe that everyone, and I do mean everyone, who lives in the South is like Honey Boo Boo's mama and daddy. I remember when The Beverly Hillbillies hit the air waves. All the Clampetts on that show was depicted as unintelligent, uniformed people who didn't even know what a swimming pool was. It was called a cee ment pond. As a teen-ager, I couldn't stand the show. Strangely enough, my daddy, who was born in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains, loved it. It was his favorite show. I just couldn't understand this. It made folks from the mountains appear to be backward doofusses and my daddy was neither backward or a doofus. But the Pa Clampett and granny did give out some sage advice sometimes.

It's kind of like how some folks believe that all Native Americans, as shown in old westerns, smoke peace pipes, live in teepees, hunt wild game on horseback, kill people traveling in covered wagons (?) and greet everyone with their right palm up while saying, "How." People tend to like to classify other people who are unlike them and don't live in their area.

When I was visiting out West one time, our family stopped at a Denny's to eat breakfast as we made our way to Vancouver, Canada. Now, I love grits. I always have; however, grits is not part of the Northwestern diet, so imagine my delight when I saw that grits was on the menu. I immediately ordered them along with my eggs and toast. Eagerly scooping my spoon into the bowl, I knew almost instantly that what I was about to put in my mouth wasn't grits. Sure enough, it was cream of wheat. Now, I like cream of wheat...with butter and sugar, a little cream, maybe some cinnamon. BUT, grits is made from corn and corn only. A purist puts butter and salt on it, maybe a little pepper. Silly restaurant. It tried to pull a number on me, but it didn't. So if you're a southerner traveling west of the Mississippi River, watch out for restaurants trying to foist cream of wheat on unknowing customers who have ordered grits. And by the way, grits is singular.

I have traveled all over this country first because I was the daughter of an Air Force officer and later as a person married to a person who likes to take road trips.Truth be told, other than accents, I have found that most people are pretty much a like. They are friendly (mostly) and most love where they live. So, we folks from the South might talk a little slower and move through life a little more laid back, but we are not ignoramuses, and not all our children are like Honey Boo Boo. Some like to swim in a cee ment pond and say "Yee doggies!"

Monday, August 12, 2013

Retirement...A new Beginning

It has been a really long time since I've posted anything on this blog. It's like I get all enthusiastic, and then I just lose steam or creative juices or something. Anyway, I'm really going to try and post my writings a lot more. I do write a short blog of sorts on facebook every morning. It's my "good morning" musings to give folks a kind of uplifting beginning to their day. This blog could have some things in it that aren't all that uplifting all the time. It could have something controversial or not to your political liking, but more than likely, it will be general musings and such.

Since my last blog on this site, I have retired. I put in over 40 years, give or take a few to educating people from preschool to adults. Most wanted to be educated, especially the little ones. Little kids love to learn; then somewhere around the 3rd grade, some lose that quest for knowledge. I've often wondered why. Some of my middle school and high schoolers really wanted to learn; some did not. This was the way it was with my adults also. Those that wrapped their arms around learning generally went on to bigger and better things. Those that didn't, but wanted the easy way out every time, are still floundering around. This has been especially true in Adult Education, the form of education that I have been involved with over 20 years. I have seen so many triumphs with the adults who have pulled themselves up by the bootstraps, dug their heels in, and overcame many obstacles to reach their personal goals. These are the adults that never gave an excuse for anything. They just did it. The heartache in my job was that there were (and still are) those adults who so desperately want to achieve, but simply can't get over some hurdle. These are the ones who haunt me almost every day.

Some people think that retiring is coping out. Really?? I have worked at a paying job since I was 15. I'm 66 now. That's 51 years. That's enough for me except when it comes to my writing. I still am a feature writer for "Calhoun Magazine", and since 2008, I've looked at it as my second job. Now, it is my first job. Plus, I want to write more. I want to get a book together. I want some publisher to really like it because self publishing is just not in my budget. I also am savvy enough to know that it is really really difficult these days to publish anything for mass market.

I am enjoying retirement. It's nice, no, it's great not to set an alarm every night. It's wonderful to wake up at my usual 5 AM and realize that I don't have to get up if I don't want to...and sometimes, I don't. One morning, I slept past 7:30 after waking at 5, and saying to myself, "Nope, I'm going back to sleep." I think that was a mistake. I felt like my whole morning was off. I felt drugged. So now I get up pretty quickly after I wake up. It's getting closer to 6 AM now, though, and I'm okay with this.

So, I've begun a new beginning in my life. I have no regrets. Except, I still haven't fulfilled my dream of being a star on Broadway or of being a best selling author. I think there's still time. I'm an optimist.