Tag Archives: Chocolate

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: 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?

Heroic Hot Chocolate

Image by David Mark from Pixabay.

The words, “hot chocolate,” conjure up rosy-faced children, fresh from sledding, consuming steaming beverages.

Or lady BFFs indulging in chocolaty froth during bonding sessions that have baffled men since forever. 

Speaking of men, when was the last time you saw one order hot chocolate at Starbucks? Or anywhere?

They drink mocha lattes with whipped cream. Perhaps eggnog or hot buttered rum in similar foamy dress.

But hot chocolate?

Perish the frou-frou thought.

Yet throughout centuries, warriors and adventurers have favored chocolate beverages. Made with cacao beans and water, xocolātl was considered sacred by ancient Mayans.

The real chocoholic, though, was an Aztec: Montezuma II. He drank 50 golden goblets of bitter chocolate — often spiked with chili peppers — daily to emphasize his wealth, power and virility. Did Montezuma impress the ladies with his chugging ability?

Maybe. He certainly kept the keepers of the royal chamber pots busy.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay.

Visiting Spaniards decided Montezuma shouldn’t keep this fabulous drink — or his kingdom — to himself. After the conquest, Hernán Cortés recommended Aztec chocolate to European friends. The Spanish, who preferred their chocolate heated (the Aztecs drank it cold), doctored it with cream and spices. Soon, chocolate houses appeared all over Europe.

Chocolate’s strong flavor disguised additives that caught the attention of Inquisition authorities. Associated with witchcraft and seduction, those chocolate scenarios weren’t so sweet.

Hot chocolate’s changeable reputation didn’t detract from its ability to nourish Ninja-types. American soldiers have been issued chocolate/cocoa since the Revolutionary War. Roald Amundsen, not content with freezing his bones in his native Norway, took huge quantities of cocoa to the South Pole. More recently, when American Will Steger and company made the first 4,000-mile dog-sled trip across Antarctica, they consumed 2,000 cups.

Hot-chocolate courage doesn’t always make headlines. Who can deny the heroics of three Washington kids who, with their mighty hot chocolate stand, raised $100 for the hungry?

Image by uknowgayle from Pixabay.

However, hot-chocolate fans occasionally get in trouble. Take, for example, the homeless Oregon man who soaked in someone else’s hot tub. According to The Oregonian, he yelled for towels, a hug and hot chocolate with marshmallows.

The Inquisition would have loved that one.

Fortunately, hot chocolate’s still fun for sledding kids. For women who bond over anything chocolaty and chatty. For men who dare sneak Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa at Starbucks when nobody’s looking.

Heroic for all who scrape icy windshields, shovel driveways — and those of others — then drive icy roads to work. Even for writers who ditch calorie-less black coffee and drink hot chocolate, a truly heroic effort to experience research firsthand.

In the name of bravery, adventure and double whipped cream, hot chocolate warriors, let’s raise our steaming mugs high.

Cheers!

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite hot chocolate recipe?

Popcorn and Me

Not many foods remain friends for life. Chocolate turned traitor during my teen years as I fought the Pimple Wars and later put on pounds. But popcorn has always been there for me.

My family owes its survival to popcorn. Mom faced two snack choices: a bale of hay or a dishpan-sized bowl of popcorn. While she threw handfuls of yellow seeds into a pan, we gathered close, quiet as if attending a theater performance — until the first pop pinged. Suddenly kernels exploded in a mad dance of joyful pop-pop-pops. A few sneaky ones fooled Mom and leaped out when she removed the lid — a punch line we enjoyed as if it had never happened before.

Fresh wonder filled me at seeing hundreds of fluffy white kernels, a miracle that rivaled the Feeding of the Five Thousand. If only candy bars multiplied like that!

As cornfields surrounded our house, I became convinced we were not utilizing a huge, free popcorn resource. My mother disagreed. But I filched an ear from a neighbor’s field and set it on fire anyway. Sadly, Mom was right — again.

Later we grew our own popcorn, including a “strawberry” variety. Hoeing the plants, I imagined the pink strawberry-sucker-flavored popcorn we would savor. At harvest, we shucked wine-colored kernels off little cones and waited breathlessly as Mom popped this amazing new treat. Only red hulls evidenced anything different about strawberry popcorn. After initial disappointment, though, we made a hit at school with our special red-and-white popcorn.

But the popcorn my siblings and I really craved was Jiffy Pop®. On TV commercials, smiling kids watched it rise like a silver Space Age balloon. I was sure the Jetsons ate Jiffy Pop®. Mom, however, vetoed it as too expensive.

When I, too, became a mean mother, plain old popcorn remained my friend. My children gathered as kernels tumbled in the air popper. Like my mother, I poured sizzling butter over theirs. Mine? I ate handfuls that tasted like Styrofoam packing peanuts. But they filled me up and kept me from expanding as much as Jiffy Pop®.

Now, growing older, I still cling to popcorn. Even the Jetsons would envy my microwave method. However, the time saved is used to read popcorn cautionary commandments on every bag, probably more than accompanied the original atomic bomb: HANDLE CAREFULLY: VERY HOT OIL & BAG! THIS SIDE UP! THIS SIDE DOWN! PICK UP HERE! PICK UP FROM OTHER END! OPEN CAREFULLY! HOT! CAUTION! OR YOU WILL DIE VERY, VERY SLOWLY WITH RADIOACTIVE POPCORN UP YOUR NOSE.

Is that any way to talk to a friend?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What are your favorite popcorn memories?

Airport Insecurities

airport-1515448_640-2The more Homeland Security tries to protect me at airports, the less secure I feel.

I appreciate their efforts. But my mother taught me to hang undies on clotheslines behind shirts, not display them to an airport’s entire population.

Some passengers appear comfortable with security procedures. A toddler accompanying Daddy at check-in attempted a striptease.

A young man in a nearby security line entertained a similar viewpoint. Clad only in overalls, he suddenly slid out of them. Grinning as passengers and officials gawked, he ambled through X-ray, wearing skinny shorts he’d concealed underneath.

As if that little surprise weren’t enough, the Weird Wand Committee greeted me for the umpteenth time this year.

Airports never have put me at ease. The hallways always resemble a buffalo stampede. Paying more than air fare for coffee and a muffin made me see red long before Red Level threats ever existed.

peanut-butter-cups-1021876_640However, I can’t escape the worst threat to my security: me. At a newsstand, I heard REESE’S Peanut Butter Cups, like sirens, calling my name. Hypnotized, I answered — then put the candy down, determined not to blow my diet. I bought a newspaper and exited, playing human bumper cars on my way toward Security.

As I searched in my purse for ID and boarding pass, I discovered a REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup!

My evil stomach had bypassed my brain and shoplifted candy.

No alarms sang, rang or buzzed, no lights flashed when I walked out. No steel doors blocked store exits, no iron cages dropped from the ceiling. No soldiers poked bazookas in my back. Where was the FBI? the CIA? Interpol? What kind of security system allows a dangerously unbalanced chocolate/peanut butter klepto to run loose in our nation’s airports?

The peanut butter cup emitted seductive fragrances, and I nearly gave in. But I forced myself back to the store, where I set up surveillance. While the clerk scanned merchandise like a robot, I slithered in and hid behind half-price pink polka-dotted luggage, sneaking candy from my purse. Studying the National Enquirer’s front page (did you know Elvis is one of Donald Trump’s children?), I sneaked the REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup back among its own wicked kind. Then I headed for Security before my degenerate stomach could grab a dozen more.

They haven’t learned how to x-ray consciences yet, have they?

Okay, ’fess up: what’s your least favorite airport story?

 

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: The Day After

Oh, my God, it’s the day after Easter, and the Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs are 50 per cent off. I’m celebrating all over again! But, Jesus, what did you do the day after Easter? Take a day off? You certainly deserved it. Did You surprise Your mom? OMG, what a hug that must have been!