You don't know where you are going. You don't know how to get there. And you arrive just the same. Ghanaian saying

Haiku: Breakfast of Amateurs

Eggs over easy
The flipping an act of faith
Sometime yokes on me


Haiku-esque: Old Time Wisdom

Fleeing icy cold
Sneaked through leaky window cracks
Hoped to share my warmth

Small black flying specks
Orbit space around lamplight
Whizzing past my book

Who are my strange guests?
I am told they are fruit flies
Given remedy

Novel entrapment
Apple cider vinegar
Should snare invaders

Though it does not work
I find the scent delicious
I’ll settle for that

In Response to Daily Prompt: Profusion


Communication: Reblogged from Merging Traffic

Merging Traffic

Genuine communication
can only occur
when the need
to be right
has been checked
at the door.

© 2017 Dennis Ference

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Resurrecting a Christmas Recipe: P.S. It Was Wonderful

The other day I saw a neighbor in my apartment building carrying a box with a fruit cake inside. My mother made a fruit cake for Christmas every summer and soaked it with whisky once a month until Christmas Day. It became a strong Christmas tradition. My neighbor said that her mother also made a Christmas fruit cake and now she was using the family recipe to bake her holiday dessert.

I tried to think what I made for my family’s Christmas dessert and could only recall baking chocolate chip cookies. Surely I made something fancier. I asked my sons what our Christmas dessert was. All three responded instantly “cranberry jewel”. Then I remembered. It was a recipe I had clipped from the newspaper or a magazine and no longer had in my recipe file. My son Donovan told me he had a handwritten copy of the recipe that I had mailed him years ago. He emailed it to me. The following is our email dialogue on the subject of the recipe for cranberry jewel.

Original message from Donovan to me, Dec.15. Subject:cranberry jewel.
2 cups oatmeal
2/3 cup nuts
2/3 stick butter
1/3 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cup white sugar
8 oz cream cheese
3 cups cranberry
1 8 oz pin
1 cup whip cream
bake nut mix at 350; leave for the top

That’s what I have. I don’t know what a pin is. Could it be condensed milk?

Mom’s Reply: Dec. 16
Donovan, it doesn’t give the baking time for the oatmeal crust/topping?

Donovan: Dec.18. 3:32 PM: Subject: Pin = Pineapple!

Mom: Dec.18. 6 PM
I like that! Do you remember tasting pineapple in the dessert? I think it would taste good and that does make sense.

Donovan: Dec.18. 11:22 PM: Re: Pin = Pineapple!
Yes, I do remember it. Though I did range through a few more recipes before I could remember that.

Mom: Dec.19. 8:05 AM
I think I remember toasting the chopped walnuts and oatmeal on a bread pan then mixing it with softened butter and brown sugar. Then lining my rectangular glass dish with foil and patting the crust/topping mixture in the dish and freezing it – saving a portion for a topping. Figuring out cranberry jewel is like reverse archaeology.

Donovan: Dec.20. 3:23 PM Subject: Re:Pin = Pineapple! UPDATE
I hate to over analyze this but I think it’s foil on the bottom and the nut mix on the top. I know the recipe states the nut mix is “topping” but I have some memory of a nutty crust, so that’s what I said to you yesterday morning.

If you find out the timing on baking the nuts from your friend, plz let me know!.

Mom: Dec.20. 6:28 PM
Well it does say “topping”. That makes sense, especially if the ingredients turn out to make only a small portion. I asked a neighbor, whose hand mixer I am borrowing to whip the whip cream, about how long to toast the oatmeal/nuts in the oven. She said only a short time. If I over-cook it I can start over. I have lots of nuts and a whole box of oatmeal. I will put the mixture of cranberries, cream cheese, etc. in the foil-lined pan, the topping on top, and freeze everything at once. I think I remember doing that. I’ll let you know how long to bake the nuts and oatmeal after I experiment.

P.S.The hand mixer I ordered from Amazon was junk so I returned it.

(An aha! moment. After I wrote the texts of the emails between my son and me I realized what Donovan was saying under the subject: Pin=pineapple! UPDATE. The “topping” goes in the foil-lined glass dish first as a bottom crust. I wonder if I freeze the crust? Then the cream cheese, cranberries, crushed pineapple etc. mixture goes on top of the crust. Finally I crumble some of the oatmeal/nut mixture on top of that and store the cranberry jewel in the refrigerator freezer.)

Happy Holidays!

P.S. After experimenting with different sized pans, deciding to combine the oatmeal and walnuts with the melted butter and brown sugar, how long to keep the oatmeal, walnut, butter and brown sugar mixture in the oven (ten minutes), and being afraid that I had forgotten how to whip the whip cream (I hadn’t) the finished product of my cranberry jewel dessert was fabulous!


AHA! Easy Trail to My Book on Amazon

A friendly blogger supplied the way to easily get to my book.


Score One For Mama

This week’s New England Journal of Medicine has an article about a scientific discovery indicating that dust in Amish cow barns is good for preventing childhood asthma. It seems to have something to do with a healthy immune system. My mother could have told them that seventy-five years ago.

When I was two years old I developed asthma that kept both Mama and me up at night with my wheezing. This went on for several years until my pediatrician suggested that I get tested for allergies. The test revealed that I was allergic to house dust and grasses. The doctor told my mother to remove curtains and rugs from my bedroom. He allowed no pets. Mama’s reaction was “bosh and tommyrot”, her favorite term for ideas she considered ridiculous. She believed if I were kept in an environment free of normal dust and pets I would never build up a resistance to asthma and outgrow it.

She saw to it that my bedroom had curtains and scatter rugs. It was no more dust-free than the rest of the house. On my sixth birthday I was given a puppy that I named Fuzzy after my favorite cousin’s dog. I played with my neighbor’s guinea pigs. I remember being taken to a rodeo – after all I lived in Houston, Texas. My mother wanted me to wear a surgical mask but I balked at being seen in public wearing one. We compromised by her spraying one of Daddy’s handkerchief’s with what I remembered as chloroform (but surely it was something else) that kept me from breathing in dust when I held it to my nose.

The article I read described asthma as “chronic and frightening”. When I was a child as far as I know children weren’t rushed to the hospital when they had an asthma attack. I do remember a time when Mama and I spent the night in a hotel during an extreme summer hot spell so I could breathe more easily in an air-conditioned room. What I remember best is having breakfast the next morning at the “Toddle House”. To me asthma wasn’t frightening. I never imagined I would die from it. I do think the asthma of today is worse that it was in the 1940’s.

My mother was right thinking that if I was not isolated from ordinary dust and pets I would build up my resistance and outgrow asthma. I don’t know how much science would see cause and effect in my mother’s actions. I do know that I outgrew my asthma when I was in my early twenty’s. Hurrah Mama!


Taking a Break

I’ll be away the next two weeks spending Thanksgiving with family. Best wishes for the holidays.


It’s Not About the Weather

I imagine it is pretty universal to talk about the weather when you don’t have anything else to say. I’ve been writing haiku about nature which in blog language might be comparable. A sea change has been upon me. I can feel it but haven’t verbalized it to myself. So here goes.

After I was physically over-challenged by my trip to Costa Rica in March I made a decision to accept that my body is aging. My strong spirit is leading me in different directions. I’m cloudy about where I’ll end up. I’ve searched for trips to take in 2016 that are less vigorous physically. There is one to Yosemite, a place I have wanted to explore, where I could see the wonders from the window of a van and learn things seated in a room somewhere. That would be a travesty to my wanderlust. No going there. I found a writing class where we will write using our five senses “like Mary Oliver” – and do little walking. This is more like it. I signed on for next May. Air travel is an adventure but not of the fun kind. I’m willing to take that challenge to get myself to the writing class. The trick I’m learning is wanting to do something bad enough to figure out how to manage my physical limitations.

For the past twenty years I’ve been traveling to Mexico to spend a week at a timeshare my former husband and I bought. In a couple of weeks I’ll go there with my sons and their families – thirteen of us – to celebrate Thanksgiving. This will be a blow-out week. We will also celebrate my youngest son’s twentieth wedding anniversary, my middle son’s fiftieth birthday and my seventy-ninth. We have much to be thankful for. After going to Mexico with so many people I think going alone, as I have done the past few years, seems sad. I had asked my newly widowed sister to join us this year but she declined because she wanted to be with her son and his bride-to-be for Thanksgiving. She called me last week and said she wanted to go with me some time besides Thanksgiving. I jumped at a chance for her company so I booked us for early November next year.

My world is slipping back into focus. For years I have put trips on my calendar and airplane tickets in a drawer reserved for them. It’s like I was casting a line forward that colored the intervening days with expectation. Until this past week the only thing in my “travel drawer” was a confirmation for Thanksgiving from the timeshare resort and my plane tickets. I tried to adjust to a life lived in the present in my home town without much success. I’m not ready to “pack it in” just yet. My drawer now holds the necessities for my 2016 travels and my spirit is at peace. I’m not sure what condition my arthritic knee will be in. I do know that it will not hold me back .


Limerick: Changing My Tune

To me writing poetry is glorious
Sometimes possibly meritorious.
Venturing from my zone
A new skill to hone
I fear I won’t be victorious.

Written in response to The Seeker’s Dungeon Prompt – Stepping Out of Our Comfort Zone


An Unpicturesque American Childhood

When I think of my childhood I remember words and objects in the house that was home to me for my first ten years. I remember the word “Taylor Tot” though I no longer know what it refers to. I Googled the word and sure enough my stroller was a Taylor Tot. I think it is amazing that the word has remained lodged in my mind all these years. My mother wrote in the Baby Book she kept to chart my growth that one of my first spoken words was “book”. My attachment to words began at an early age. I remember the bookcase at the end of the hall that contained my comic book collection (called funny books in those days). I had three years worth of “Loony Tunes and Merry Melodies” which I eventually sold to a boy across the street for $3, a small fortune to me. I remember my copy of Kipling’s Just So Stories my dad gave me when I was three. I remember the old radio that sat on a low shelf by a window in the living room. I listened to “The Lone Ranger” around supper time every night and to “Let’s Pretend” on Saturday mornings.

I remember the ironing board in the kitchen. It was stored in a closet of its own and was pulled down like a folding bed when my mother wanted to iron. I remember the round washing machine, a tub on wheels, that connected by hose to the hot and cold water faucets of the kitchen sink. I think the brand was ABC but didn’t Google that. There was another round tub with a wringer to squeeze the clothes as dry as possible before they were hung on the clothesline in the backyard. I remember the box of Milk Bone Dog Biscuits in the kitchen pantry closet on a shelf I could reach if I stood on a little step stool. I often sneaked one for a snack. I Googled “Milk Bone” and the brand is still in existence. When my siblings and I gathered six decades later to find our old house it was still there. The funny ironing board was just the same, as were other things we collectively remembered. Coming home to 1933 Lexington Avenue was a magical moment.

The scent I remember most from my childhood was the strong, head-clearing smell of Vicks Vaporub. I had serious asthma attacks years before there were inhalers. My mother rubbed my chest with Vicks and hung a flannel square from a ribbon around my neck that covered my chest to prolong the effects of the Vicks. She melted Vicks in a metal measuring cup for me to sniff the fumes. Both were intended to break up congestion. I reeked of Vicks Vaporub but remember the smell with thanksgiving because of the relief it brought me.

My favorite food memory was eating watermelon. My mother put me, along with my sisters, in the bathtub wearing only my underpants so the juices could dribble off my chin without getting on my pinafore. I also remember my mother’s sewing machine and watching her make wonderful dresses for my sisters and me. When she died my sisters said I should have the sewing machine since they both had one. I liked the idea of sewing but gave my mother’s old Singer sewing machine to my son who enjoyed sewing billowy pants like those worn by men in Middle Eastern countries.