Monday, December 3, 2012

Happy Holidays

“Happy Holidays” is a politically correct term that makes me physically sick.  It has arrived in the American vernacular in an attempt to offend no one.  Oh how it deeply offends me.  I’m a Christian.  Christmas is about the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  I have Jewish friends.  Their holiday, Hanukkah/Chanukah, is about the Maccabean Revolt against the Greeks in 2nd century BC.  They spend eight days commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple.  Are either one of these events so insignificant to warrant summarization as “Happy Holidays?” 

Yes, I have also heard, “We must include the ‘holiday’ of Ramadan in our ‘Happy Holidays’ politically correct dialogue.”  This year the Islamic celebration of Ramadan took place from July 19th through August 18th.  Obviously, it is not even applicable, under these two umbrella words, for this time of year.

I wish my Jewish friends Happy Chanukah.  They wish me a Merry Christmas.  We survive this exchange.  The world does not end and a war does not break out.  We accept that each of us observe differently and we wish each other well.  And if they had given me Chanukah greetings, I given them Christmas greetings, we still would have simply been wishing each other well.

I do not know who the “they” are, who every year cause further division among us and get headlines.  “They” do not and cannot speak for me. 

So to one and all, I wish you each Happy Chanukah and each a Merry Christmas.  Most of all, I wish you the opportunity to spend time with those you love and to celebrate the reasons for the seasons.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dr. John and The Blind Boys of Alabama

On October 16th, Tim and I went to see the afore mentioned musicians at The Smith Center, Las Vegas' new Carnegie Hall.

 I've been a big fan of Dr. John since the 70's, and unlike so many rock stars from "back in my day," (please say those words with an authoritative voice, perhaps one that sounds like your dad's) he brought "it" and them some to the stage.  Each member of his band is a talent in their own right too.  I particularly enjoyed Sara Morrow playing the trombone.  Typically guitar, piano, sax and many other instruments spring to mind before the trombone, but she just may be the one to change that thinking, as she makes her instrument sexy.

Sadly, so many rock musicians from the 70's perform loooooong, self-serving riffs, in an attempt to disguise the fact that their talent is gone.  This show was about entertaining the people who paid to see a legend that sounded better than he did when I was a kid.

Until that night, I'd not had the privilege of being entertained by the other headliner, "The Blind Boys of Alabama."  I must say that gratefully that has changed.  Dr. John played for a while and then four of the members of my new found friends came on stage and announced something along the lines of, they were not in the habit of playing for conservative audiences and they didn't plan to start.  Well it wasn't long before everyone was on their feet hootin', stompin' and clapin'.  I don't generally enjoy when, "Amazing Grace," is sung in any other way then the original form, but they sang my favorite hymn to the music of, "House of the Rising Sun," and it was genuinely AMAZING.

Dr. John's band played for them, let's call it Act 2, and in Act 3, he finished up the concert and even plucked a guitar for one melody (a gunshot wound to the hand decades ago forced him to stop playing the guitar and so he turned to the piano).  The finally brought the "Blind Boys," back out and if your spirit was not higher than ninety minutes ago when you walked into the center, well, you were probably dead.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

How to Have A Happy Marriage - Really

Today my husband and I have been married for eighteen years.  When I tell folks this, the first question is, “What’s your secret?”  I answer, “Be friends first.”  My husband and I spend most of our time together and genuinely enjoy each other’s company.  I love him more every day.  Yes, of course, we’ve had a few not so great moments, but for the most part, it’s been easy and whatever the next right step should be, has come naturally to us as a couple.

I like to read Op-ed pieces and essays.  “How to Have A Great Marriage,” is a frequent topic, and most of these articles make me ill.  What their title promises the reader, their content betrays.  I read one author who suggested that it was a good idea to make new friends of the opposite sex.  Not!  Really bad idea.  If you have friends of the opposite sex before marriage, that’s something different, and an essay in itself.  Here’s a few good tips from my POV.

Pick the right partner - This really is an almost impossible task.  I know, “Don’t sugar coat things on your account.”  I think it’s so hard because she acts like who she is not so that she can find a he who’s acting like who he is not.  They get married, move in together and the fireworks begin.  Or prior to marriage, she starts to see some traits she hates, but once they’re married, she’ll love him into changing (I hate to say this, but this does seem to be more of a female habit).  He’s not going to change.  She’s not going to change.  It’s only going to get worse - much worse.

So what do you do?  The Great Commandment is Love God.  The Great Commission is to love your neighbor as yourself.  If you don’t love yourself, you’re not going to love your neighbor, or your spouse.  The only way to find the right partner is to really know who you are.  A grueling task, but so worth it.  From there, you can find a person who will grow in happiness with you. 

Don’t Settle - I first heard these words uttered from Susan Sarandon’s mouth in “Thelma and Louise.”  Since I didn’t marry until the tender age of thirty-two, I had plenty of opportunity to settle.  Mr. Wrong was around every corner and the pressure from my friends (and myself) to get married before I became a spinster was great!  Only two things come from settling: divorce and misery if you don’t get divorced.  

You’re enough - I dated quite a few inappropriate fellas just to say to the world, “I’m dating.  I’m a valid person.”  One morning it occurred to me from “no where” that I was the cause for misery in all my relationships.  That to keep from hurting anyones feelings, no matter how very wrong they were for me, I chewed off my own arm, so to speak.  When I decided that I was better off alone than in dumb relationships, my Knight in Shining Armor was not far behind.

Sex is Not Love - I don’t care how good the sex is, if it’s all your relationship is based upon, you won’t make it.  When the hard times come, great sex flies out the window faster than a speeding train (cliche enough?).    You have to have a strong foundation built on God, love and respect.  Along the same lines, if your partner cheats on you while dating, he or she is going to cheat on you when you get married.  Go through the heartache and find a monogamous partner to marry. 

Your Partner is not Your Possession - I’m pretty sure this is self explanatory.  Support each other’s endeavors, don’t be threatened by them.  This goes back to knowing thyself.

Luck, Blessings, Grace, Mercy, whatever you chose to call the unexplained, help greatly, but those are the things we don’t control.  Control what you can, yourself, and leave the rest to The Universe.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Farmer's Market and Sweet Potato Pie

In the last two months, I have discovered what fresh produce should taste like through the downtown Farmer’s Market. (Friday’s from 9am to 2pm).  My favorite fruit, vegetable, cheese and nut stand is the “Intuitive Forager” owned by Kerry Clasby.  She is as terrific as her produce, and if you don’t see what you want there, she’ll happily get it for you.  
I’ve lived in Las Vegas for most of my life, so any produce I’ve consumed has been picked too soon, as not to spoil before coming to market.  The first time I brought home a small basket of $7.00 strawberries from the Forager, my husband, who doesn’t care for strawberries, thought I’d lost my mind.  After he tasted them though, and did not get the usual allergic reaction of a tongue swell, he requested that I go back and get some more.
Also, I’ve discovered Sweet Potatoes.  I’ve never been much of a fan, but the Forager’s taste fresh and sweet and you can feel the beta carotene feeding your cells with each bite.  Serendipitously, I found a recipe of my mom’s for Georgia Sweet Potato Pie.  I offer the recipe here, with healthier alternatives noted next to the original ingredients if you are so inclined.  
2 cups Sweet Potatoes
2 tablespoons butter (I use earth balance natural buttery spread made with olive oil)
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs slightly beaten (you can use four egg whites but you won’t get the benefit of vitamins B12, D, A, E and K that are in the yolks)  
Dash salt (I use Himalayan Salt)
3/4 cup of Sugar (or 1/8 - 1/4 cup of Blue Agave or real Maple Syrup.  If your Sweet Potatoes are from a Farmer’s Market, the lower end of the sweetener range is better.)
Combine and beat until ingredients are well blended.  

Then add:
1 large can of Carnation Evaporated Milk (this is really good, but is not low in the calorie department.  You can substitute with 1 1/2 cups of sweetened soy milk or coconut milk)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Beat again.  Note:  Beating the mixture provides a more pudding like texture.  If you’d prefer a denser texture, you can use a potato masher to mix your ingredients.  
Pour into a 9” pastry shell (I prefer a graham cracker crust)
Bake at 375 until filling is firm and a knife inserted in the center comes back clean.  Approximately 35 to 45 minutes.  Serves six.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


While I was on the elliptical machine this morning, sweating puddles and wishing that the wheels wouldn’t creek so badly, my husband was having breakfast and reading the newspaper.  He told me that James Holmes’ killed twelve people, including a six year old child, and injured fifty-eight.   My thoughts turned to the victims who have lost their lives watching a movie, and to the families who are suffering right at this moment because of it.  To what his mom must be going through and blaming herself for.  It’s difficult for sensitive souls like myself to keep time to the music and just go on with life.  I have no way of knowing how horrible this specific tragedy has effected each of their souls, but I do empathize.
My next thought turns to how can I help.  I can’t.  I can’t change what’s happened.  After a few more minutes, I begin to wonder how it could have been prevented.  To say that we need to take away access to guns is like saying that closing all the fast food restaurants will prevent obesity.  If a mind is set on destruction of others and/or self, that mind is going to do what it sets out to do.
I have to believe that somewhere along the line of Holmes’ life, someone had to notice that this guy was more than eccentric.  He did not wake up on Thursday morning suddenly insane, in a room full of booby-traps and ammunition.  Someone noticed something wasn’t right and chose to mind there own business instead of making a phone call to the local authorities.   It’s not about blame, it’s about a person that just might have gotten help long ago if anyone had taken the initiative to notice that his behavior was psychotic.  
We need is to pay attention to what others are doing around us.  We need to get psychiatric counseling, not just pills, not just drugs, to those who can be helped.  For those who are beyond help, we need to be honest and place those folks in an institution for the criminally insane; permanently.
We await the motives behind Holme’s actions, because we think that if we know why, then we can figure out a way to protect our children, our families, ourselves.  Or so we’ll hope until the next time innocent children, teenagers, women and men are massacred at the hand of someone who’s mind no longer functions within the confines of a civilized society.
My husband went to work.  I finished my workout forgetting about the squeaking wheels.  So irrelevant in the light of my family not being killed in a movie theater yesterday.   Before we close our eyes to sleep this night, we will pray for the victims and families of the shooting tragedy in Aurora, CO.  For those who attended an event that was supposed to be fun, supposed to be entertainment, but instead, once again, has brought a nation in touch with her biggest fear.  Evil itself.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Rest in Peace Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron died, on June 26, 2012, at the age of 71.   We may find out any minute that she left one last book of essays or one last screenplay.  If it’s possible to add humor to illness and death, she’s the artist who would have accomplished it.  I feel like she still had something to say. 
As I read through her list of accomplishments I can’t help but imagine how my obituary might read if I died today.  
Jen started a novel, a teleplay and a stage play.  She wanted to write a screenplay with her husband.  Her computer was filled with roughed out ideas, and a file full of miscellaneous pieces of papers had character sketches on them.  She started a blog with good intentions.  Jen never finished what she started.  The carpeting she ripped from the stairs was never replaced.  Her bedroom was found to be painted in small blocks of color.  Apparently she never decided on one.  
It’s not that she didn’t live; she loved life.  She traveled all over the United States with her best friend, who by sheer gift from God, was also her husband.  She loved people and her family so very much.  Some of the love was not returned, but most was.  She was happy.  She had a bent toward sloth and procrastination.  She didn’t die with regret, not really.  She had it all, almost, but didn’t do everything God put her here to do.
It’s a bittersweet obit.  I want to say I’ll change.  I want to say the time is now, but I’ve said it more than once for many years and for some reason it never sticks.  I believe this.  At 50 it occurs to me that my time on earth is limited.  My mom died young.  Nora Ephron has died young.  I plan to die old, but at best, my life is half over and it went fast.  May my epitaph, read, she finally got it at 50, worked her ass off, and left this world with nothing left to say.

Friday, February 3, 2012

I Think I Will Buy Stock In The Power Company

My adorable, darling husband is genuinely the perfect man for me.  He has less than five faults.  I wake up in the morning, look into his sleepy time face, and say, "Thank You Lord for this man of mine."  I get my coffee, sit at my desk and start my day with the gratitude of how richly I have been blessed.  I have found true love, as I am still crazy about him after almost two decades.

When he kisses me goodbye, birds chirp and the children in the playground sing with glory at the love that emanates from our home.  I finish my Morning Pages (as directed by Julia Cameron's Artist Way,, I skip out of my office and notice that the closet light has been left lit, despite the fact that I have asked this wonderful man to turn off the closet light when he has finished, no less than 4,927 times.  I look down the hall before frolicking down to the kitchen, and find that light in the den is also blazing brightly.

For 19 years I have been asking him to simply turn off a switch when he leaves a room.  I have left funny notes, angry notes, depending on the time of month, we've had conflicts that last days.  He's an Ohio State educated man.  He's very well read.  Logic and he are best of friends.  Why, I ask, can't he turn off a light switch?!

Most of us as children were reprimanded for a similar violation with the statement, "we don't have stock in the power company."  I remember wondering if we did have stock in the power company, would it be okay to leave the lights on?  On this crisp winter day, when I find myself wanting to send an ill-tempered text message to my beloved, I decide to give up my fight and buy stock in the power company.  The dividends alone will fund our next home, the green one.