Lord, thank You for my big brother. Not only is he older than I am (yay!) but he fashioned walnut wood from his acres into a lovely bowl for me. At one point, it was filled with yummy chocolate. But OMG, both You and he knew that wouldn’t last long. …
Tag Archives: Chocolate
Classic Post: Soda Fountain Magic
This post first appeared on June 20, 2018.
Entering Zaharako’s soda fountain as a preschooler, I knew magic was for real.
I spotted curlicue iron tables and chairs my size. Glass cases held hundreds of chocolates, hard candies and jelly beans. Had I reached Heaven early? The adult friend who brought me confirmed this with ice cream I didn’t have to share.
I pattered across the gleaming, black-and-white floor to the counter’s red stools. They spun round and round! My friend’s objection didn’t surprise me. Even if stools were designed to twirl, grown-ups said you shouldn’t.
A 1908 orchestrion — a self-playing pipe organ with drums, cymbals and triangles — fascinated me. Did jolly ghosts fill the high-ceilinged room with music?
Occasionally, Mama took us to Zaharako’s. How I longed for that pile of roasted cashews! But even a small packet cost too much.
My mother’s generation had frequented the place during their teens, so we cool adolescents of the 1960s avoided the fountain as if radioactive. Still, celebrating my first job, I treated my little sister at Zaharako’s.
I said grandly, “Order whatever you want.”
We ate huge sundaes. I played the orchestrion and bought cashews, toasty and delicious beyond belief.
Later, I chose fabulous Zaharako’s candies for my future in-laws’ Christmas gift.
Fast-forward several years to my mother’s visit. Adulting had drained away my coolness, so we visited Zaharako’s. The mirrors gleamed, but the near-empty soda fountain’s stained counter, dull woodwork and damaged tin-patterned ceiling didn’t brighten our day.
“Everyone came here after school. ‘Meet you at the Greek’s!’ we’d say.” Mom gazed at the broken orchestrion. “The fountain’s dated now. I guess I am, too.”
Decades later, I shared a similar feeling when I stopped for a treat, but Zaharako’s, a landmark since 1900, had closed. The orchestrion? Sold to a California collector.
Not long afterward, though, as I traveled past my childhood hometown, something sent me off the interstate.
Miracles do happen.
Inside Zaharako’s, red stools flanked gleaming counters, and mirrors glimmered amid rich woodwork. Pint-sized curlicue tables and chairs again held little diners. The original orchestrion played, grand as ever.
I sent yummy chocolates to my mother.
She couldn’t remember events of five minutes before, but she recalled Zaharako’s.
The soda fountain had worked sweet magic once again.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite soda fountain treat?
OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Lovin’ My Neighbors!
Father, so glad You gave us the idea for our neighborhood S’Mores Night. What a joy, to share each other’s lives on a starry night! Will there be s’mores in heaven? Not sure, but OMG, the evening was a teensy taste of friendship we’ll savor with You and Your children. Every. Starry. Night.
OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: No-Temptation Birthday Cake
OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: No-Temptation Birthday Cake. O Lord, thank You that this pineapple upside-down cake turned out well for my husband’s birthday. And OMG, thank You that though it is his favorite, I can walk away from this cake without a pang.
But if it were chocolate. …
“Nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth person always lies.” —Unknown
In case you didn’t collide with card, candy, and teddy bear displays, I’ll inform you: Valentine’s Day was Monday. Think in terms of a major apology gift. Half-price chocolates save money, but will they impress your lady?
Perhaps I can suggest tips for future reference.
At all costs, avoid the “I-love-you-every-day-why-should-I-give-you-a-gift-now?” defense. Like the adage, “It doesn’t matter who wins or loses,” it contains elements of truth. But you’ll lose, big time. Unless you think sleeping on the couch — or driveway — is fun.
Fortunately, my husband figured this out. He’s come a long way since our first Valentine’s Day, when he gave me a history book. No, I’m not making that up.
After 47 years, though, he’s a master gift giver. Hubby should offer lessons on finding cards that make a wife’s heart sing. However, he faced a common February quandary: I adore chocolate, but I’m dieting. Should he give me only a card?
Some men bypass the obvious solution: flowers. Instead, they buy their ladies lingerie.
Seriously? When women are hating mirrors, are suffering from starvation, and are pushed around by skinny exercise gurus wearing Spandex?
Admittedly, it’s a cruel dilemma — only one of thousands women inflict on men.
Guys should blame marketing geniuses of the late 1800s and early 1900s who married chocolate and Valentine’s Day.
During the 1860s, beverage manufacturer Richard Cadbury discovered the answer to his own dilemma: how to use cocoa butter that remained after processing chocolate drinks. Before his descendants manufactured the eggs associated with his name, Cadbury marketed valentine candies in beautiful boxes he designed himself.
Milton Hershey reinforced the Valentine’s Day-chocolate connection when he began selling tear-dropped chocolate “kisses” named for smoochy sounds chocolate made during processing.
For a time, chocolate equaled milk chocolate. When I, a second grader, received my first Valentine’s Day chocolates from towheaded Paul Henry, I didn’t nitpick about milk chocolate, dark chocolate, bittersweet, or semisweet. Unlike modern connoisseurs, I didn’t debate whether white or ruby chocolate are true chocolate.
Question free candy? Stupid.
Speaking of stupidity, some gourmets have “diversified” chocolate. They’ve invented a chocolate éclair hot dog. Chocolate and black pepper goat cheese truffles. Even chocolate calamari soup.
I told my love, “While I crave both seafood and chocolate, please don’t get creative on me this Valentine’s Day, okay?”
“Since when have I been creative?”
“By the way,” Hubby continued, “why should I give you chocolates, when you’ve only given me cards?”
However, he, too, has been avoiding seconds at dinner. Toughening up with weights.
Should I give him the ultimate symbol of my love and concern for his health: broccoli dipped in dark chocolate?
Maybe just a card. …
Tune in February 14, 2023, to see if these old lovers learned anything during their chocolate chat.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What does Valentine’s Day look like at your house?
Not on My Bucket List
Have you made a bucket list?
I haven’t. Lists demand thought. Strike-throughs. Check marks.
(Yawn) Sloth — er, contentment — is so much more relaxing.
So is staying in a rut, retort alpha personalities.
Okay, okay. To inspire my grandchildren, I should aspire to higher objectives than counting dust bunnies.
After all, a fascinating world awaits me. Places to go. Things to do. Possibilities swirl through my brain like flocks of starlings. How can I choose a few among thousands of flapping, chirping alternatives?
Finally, I settle on a first step . . . what not to include on my bucket list:
- I will never run for President. I’d spend 90 percent of my term trying to elude the Secret Service. Who wants their President to live in a dumpster? Bad deal for everyone.
- I won’t brush with eggplant-flavored toothpaste.
- I don’t plan to train as a snake milker.
- I’ll never embrace a low-carb diet. Life without spaghetti? Home-baked bread? Surely, you jest.
- Nor am I obsessed with memorizing all 49 Vice Presidents.
- I will never — and no one else had better — line up Metallica to sing “Happy Birthday” to me.
- Many wish to run with the bulls in Spain. Should this mad urge to sprint with bovines overwhelm me, I can always run with cows in Indiana.
- I will never don skinny jeans. You’re welcome.
- I’ve considered visiting England as a for-real bucket-list item. However, I won’t enter the World Worm Charming Championships in Willaston. There, hundreds of participants not only jab with pitchforks, but play ukuleles and clarinets to bring squirmy little friends to the surface. And, no, I am not making this up.
- You will not see me drive in a NASCAR race. Walmart parking lots provide sufficient excitement.
- I will never run a marathon in stilettos.
- I refuse to cultivate Venus flytraps. Plants with teeth give me the willies.
- Nor will I kiss frogs. I like kissing my husband too much. Besides, he’s already a prince.
I will never aspire to:
- Rollerblade down Mount Rainier.
- Chase tornadoes. I also prefer they don’t chase me.
- Join Chocolate Haters of America.
- Finally, though I like eating grits, I’ll never enter the Rolling in the Grits Contest in St. George, South Carolina. There, a contestant weighs, then hops into a kiddie pool filled with 27 cases of grits. The goal: to fill pockets and baggy clothes with the sticky Southern favorite. One champion emerged from the kiddie pool 66 pounds heavier! That alone convinces me it doesn’t belong on my bucket list.
This exercise only cuts my bucket list choices from a gazillion to a billion. But, hey, it’s a beginning.
And (yawn) so relaxing . . .
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you compiled a non-bucket list?
Things Have Changed, and I’m Glad
I finally stopped refusing senior discounts. (Who was I kidding?)
Now, I find it tempting to diss the present and reverence the “good old days.” One morning, a Grouchy Old Gal stared at me from the mirror. Did I really want her to stay?
Instead, I booted her out and listed things I like about 2021. Plus a few I do not miss from the past.
- First, permanent press is a gift from God. My mother spent hours starching and ironing my puff-sleeved dresses, dresses I wore while emptying mud puddles. I iron now only when I can find mine. The best thing about a no-iron worldview? Though manufacturers lie that their clothes don’t require ironing, everyone pretends it’s true.
- In this millennium, we enjoy a whole new excuse for playing hooky: the computers are down.
- Email is cheaper, simpler and faster than snail mail. Unless the computers are down.
- Microwaves, once a figment of sci-fi imaginations, have forever banished the sinking realization: “Ack! I forgot to defrost the meat!” Okay, so they sometimes produce meals the consistency of cement, with comparable nourishment. Still, speedy microwaves helped feed my skinny physician husband at all hours. They removed gunky warm-up pans from my kitchen’s décor. Nowadays, a microwave suits our lifestyle — that of college students without food service.
- Few potlucks still feature 15 kinds of marshmallow-Jell-O salad.
- I’ll take Susan Boyle’s singing, as opposed to Carol Channing’s, anytime. (See YouTube — another current convenience that can take us down Memory Lane, as well as make us glad we don’t live there anymore!)
- Thanks to technology, we no longer miss favorite programs or movies. We need not suffer withdrawal symptoms when leaving before finding out whodunit.
- Being a grandma is way more fun than being a mom.
- In a related thought, little boys’ clothes today are much cuter than those in 1970. This grandma lauds that aspect of gender equality, as I have six grandsons.
- In a somewhat related thought, I appreciate bicycle helmets. Seat belts. Even kids’ car seats that demand an engineering degree and an acrobat’s body to buckle.
- Few people drive Pintos anymore.
- Blow-dryers and curling irons have replaced the overnight torture of brush rollers and orange juice cans. Guys, if you don’t “get” the orange juice cans, ask your wives how they prettied up for Saturday night during the 1960s. Check online photos — if you dare.
- Men rarely get permanents today. During the ’70s, much of the male population appeared to have been replaced by alien poodles. Wearing leisure suits. And platform shoes.
- Cigarette commercials now feature cancer victims rather than cool cowboys. In restaurants, puffing and blowing occur only when your food’s too hot.
- I applaud painless antiseptics that soothe cuts, as opposed to this-is-gonna-make-you-scream Mercurochrome.
- Experts now assert that chocolate and coffee are good for us.
- I hate to admit it, but cell phones do keep us safe on the road. Also, if not for cell phones, thousands of husbands might still be wandering Meijer’s aisles, seeking the correct brand of pickles.
- No more waiting for photos to develop. No more paying for them, either.
- We now realize God can say both “you” and “thee.”
- Homemade, homegrown and handcrafted items — food, clothing, even coffins — have become special again.
- Using an effortless stain stick beats scrubbing grass stains with an old toothbrush. Just ask my kids.
- Finally, no one sings about yummy love in their tummies anymore.
That last extinction alone brightens the 2021 landscape.
My late father, who loved classical music, would have agreed.
Perhaps I inherited my outlook from Dad. He disliked many modern trends, but he also declared the “good old days” a myth. Dad plowed too many fields behind a mean mule to romanticize the past. Riding a John Deere mower was way better.
Recalling Jim Crow laws in the South — written and unwritten — he celebrated dining with both white and African-American friends without fear.
Occasionally, Dad allowed Grouchy Old Guy to stick around.
I sometimes hang out with Grouchy Old Gal.
But mostly, I celebrate life here and now.
And welcome all the senior discounts.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What don’t you miss from the “good old days,” and what are you thankful for now?
OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Busted
OMG, I suppose it doesn’t do any good to pretend I didn’t lick the brownie bowl? (Or, um … eat half the pan?)
OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Even Better in January
O Lord, Thank You for our thoughtful children and their spouses, who together gave us this firepit for Christmas. Maybe they thought we would wait until summer before making s’mores? OMG, You know better.
Vive la Différence!
Throughout human history, we have observed one inevitable truth: men and women are different.
Even our newborn who mistook Daddy’s shirt-pocketed beeper for breakfast recognized that fact.
So why does our culture try to convince us otherwise?
Take, for example, the five senses: sight, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching.
Everyone possesses a pair of eyes. Yet women can spot cute shoes on sale from the interstate. Men see such shoes only if their spouses add this 207th pair to their closets.
Women mostly see dirt and germs in a negative light. Perhaps because God made Adam from mud pies, guys see dirt in a positive light, whether in a slide into home plate or a monster truck’s foray into mud bogs. They acknowledge germs only if their work requires they eradicate them in patients or grow them in petri dishes.
Gender differences also pervade our hearing. A husband may wonder, “Why bother with baby monitors?”
When Mommy and Daddy are on a second honeymoon, two hundred miles away, she still hears their infant. Monitor or no monitor, he only hears their baby at night when accompanied by his wife’s elbow, kick, and/or water pistol.
This female hyper-hearing also applies to nighttime burglars and moments when children are too quiet. In either case, men experience a strictly limited audible range. How can she have expected him to do something, when he never heard it?
However, males hear “funny noises” in vehicles. My husband can detect an imperfect cup holder — even if it rattles in the third car behind him.
Women and men even smell smoke in contrasting ways. Women call 911 or, if company’s coming, clean ovens. Men smell bonfires, barbecues and fireworks. The smell of smoke equals a party!
The sense of taste also highlights gender differences. For men, taste generally involves sufficient quantity — unless you’re talking broccoli. Women are all about haute cuisine, artistic presentation and half servings — unless you’re talking chocolate. Then, bring it on by the semi load.
Finally, the sexes experience touch in unique ways. Women hug to celebrate engagements, new babies, expanded closet space. We hug to console each other when evil extra pounds refuse to be evicted.
Men, on the other hand, hug at key life events: weddings, funerals, or ball games. If their team wins.
Why did the Creator design us so differently? We may not understand that mystery until Heaven. Still, acknowledging He knew what He was doing seems reasonable.
Actually, it’s the only scenario that makes sense.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How do you sense your world differently from men/women?