Sunday, July 29, 2012

My Nightly Nest

My mattress becomes part of me
as off to dreamland I go--
comfy from head to toe.
It will cradle me each night
as dark eats up the light.

After twenty some years, I was in need of a new mattress. During my life I have gone from a queen size to a full size and now I will try a twin size mattress. I decided to try a twin because I do not move once I fall asleep.  Also, a twin would be easier to move to vacuum underneath it and I would have more space in my bedroom. I began my search for a new nightly nest by checking the Internet.

The price range was amazing, going from $300 to over $5000.  I read about the "mattress scams" and felt prepared to hit the stores!  The first place was Mattress King and I was overwhelmed with bed after bed, side by side, from king size to twin size mattresses. As I entered the store a lady came from behind a desk to tell me about the many different types of mattresses. Memory foam, coil, latex, spring, pillow-tops, soft, firm, plush and the many sizes. When I managed to get a word in edge wise, I said, "I just want to look around, if I need help I will call you."  She went back to her desk. As I laid down on the different beds I kept in mind that what is in the store may be different than what is delivered. One of the scams is that material used for a purchased mattress may not be the same quality as the showroom models. I tried many beds and decided I liked a Beauty Rest, Ultra Plush Pillow Top.  I let the lady know again that I was just looking and left the store to visit Macy's because they were having a sale on their mattresses. 

At Macy's a very nice clerk waited on me but she was splitting her time between me and another customer. I found a bed similar to the one at the first store yet it had a different cover. It was about $100 less plus there was a  10% discount. I learned that the display beds in the stores have one side  plush and the other side firm. That way I could try both sides of the bed to see which I preferred. I decided to purchase it because I have a Macy's card (which would make it easy) and went looking for the clerk. She was very apologetic about me having to wait (while she talked with another customer) and when she returned to me I asked, "Does the price include delivery?"  "Oh no," she answered, "we only deliver to anything over a certain price and with your 10% discount you would need to pay for delivery." I asked if they supplied the frame and was told I would need to buy the frame for $107. I thanked her and left the store.

Costco was my next stop and they had mattresses piled up in lopsided stacks. The twins were $368 and a frame was marked $37.00. I would have liked to try the mattress to see how comfortable it felt.  I liked the price and it was a brand name but after inquiring I found out that I could not try out the mattress, I needed to put the mattress on a cart, take it through check out, and load it on a truck. Since I had neither the muscle or the truck I walked away.

J.C. Penny mattress department is not very big so I tried the majority of  beds in my price range.  I liked a Beauty Rest by Simmons and after waiting around for 40 minutes and not a one clerk showed up, I asked a person with a name tag if there was anyone working in mattresses. She left and returned later to tell me that the person who worked mattresses had a customer.  I waited about 20 more minutes and left the store.

Back on the Internet I found Mattress Firm and the following day I drove to check out their mattresses.  A salesman asked what I had in mind and showed me the area where the firm beds were located.  When I told him I just wanted to look around, he returned to his desk. I liked that he wasn't an aggressive salesman!  I went from bed to bed spreading out on the different mattresses. My back, my side and my stomach all relaxed on the mattresses.  I did not want to think how many other persons had done the same thing! I found one I liked but still wanted to check Penny's so I told the salesman I would return.

At Penny's, I showed the sales associate a mattress I liked but it looked different than other Simmons. She explained how manufacturers put different covers on their mattresses and give them different names depending on which store is purchasing the mattresses. She said it makes it difficult for customers to compare mattresses between stores. She warned that "remember you get what you pay for!" I showed her the one I liked but when she told me they would deliver but I would have to buy the frame I returned to Mattress Firm.  On the Internet my mattress came up more expensive than the Mattress Firm price. Its features were Super Soft Sealy Foam, CoreSupport Memory Foam Center, SitRight Edge System and 667 Titanium SS coil count. None of that meant anything to me but I did like the comfortable mattress.

Shrink this down to a twin and
this becomes my new Nightly Nest!
On Thursday when my mattress is delivered, I hope I get what I purchased. I believe I got a good price which included the box spring, a protectabed (which will protect the mattress for life) a frame, delivery and set up. I asked myself, is this too good to be true?  Would I actually get a mattress like the one in the showroom? Had the salesman conned me? The good thing is that I have 100 days to change my mind if I do not like my mattress!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Expanding My Taste Buds

Not too long ago, my son and I were looking for a place to eat dinner.  I would throw out names like Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Jim's Burger Haven and he suggested Chili's, Red Robin, Los Arcos and we almost settled on Amici's.  Then he said, "Have you ever had Fa?" I said, "What in the world is Fa?" He laughed and said, "I can't believe you have never eaten at Fa, it is so close to your house."
My question was, "Where is it?" He said, "Right near Wadsworth and 65th." I replied, "I know where that restaurant is located.  A few eating places have opened up in that space but the one that is there now is called Pho 65 and it has been there for a while. It is a Vietnamese restaurant and I have never eaten there. Is it any good?"

"It is the best and Pho is pronounced Fa," he answered. We drove to the restaurant to have dinner.  The place is nothing special with a few booths, table and chairs and a couple of flat screen t.v.'s.  A gold Buddha sits on a front counter and I noticed children standing in front of a large aquarium watching the large fish.

I was a bit apprehensive until they brought me a large bowl of steaming broth, white noodles and pieces of  chicken. My son had beef in his bowl.

A paper envelope held chop sticks, a plastic spoon like a small ladle, and a fork. A platter with cilantro, basil, bean sprouts, limes, fresh mint and sliced jalapenos was placed between us.

My son grabbed a handful of the bean sprouts and put them on top of his broth, threw in some of the leafy greens, squeezed lemon juice  over the whole thing but left the jalapenos.  I followed suit but added the peppers which gave my broth a zesty flavor.  On the table were soy sauce, Sriracha red hot chili sauce, and Hoisin sauce (spicy and can be used to marinate meat).  I thought it was funny that the red chili sauce is called a cock sauce until I realized there is a picture of a rooster on the jar.

I enjoyed my first visit to Pho 65 very much because it was tasty, hot, and filling. My second visit I tried a Boba drink. It looked and came in a plastic cup much like a Slurpee. I ordered the banana drink and noticed it had chocolate chips on the bottom of the cup.  Was I surprised when I sipped the drink through a large straw and up came a round brown glob.

The texture was chewy and rubbery with no taste that I could distinguish. I asked the waitress what I was chewing and she, being Vietnamese, could not tell me.  It sounded to me as if she said, caramel ball. The drink comes in many flavors consisting of mango, strawberry, papaya, vanilla, orange, coconut, pineapple, peach or banana.  It was a refreshing drink but the minute I got home I looked on the Internet to find out what I had been chewing.

Boba is also known as Bubble Tea and the things I thought were chocolate chips were Tapioca made into small balls or as they are sometimes called, pearls. It seems that in the 80's the pearls were invented in Taiwan and now it is served in Asian communities.

Yes, my taste buds have expanded to a delicious soup and a different type of drink. I guess I can pat myself on the back for trying something different!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sadness in Colorado

Friday morning when my phone rang, I thought it was either for a lunch or movie date, or just to chat about life. Instead, I heard, "Are you watching t.v.?" "No," I replied.  "Turn it on, a shooting in Aurora, a big one!"  I hung up the phone and turned on the television.  Every channel was reporting on a mass shooting at a theater in Aurora.  It had happened at the midnight showing of the The Dark Knight Rises, a show about batman. For the rest of the day I was glued to the television and the more I watched the sadder I became.

What has happened to this world I live in? Are we ever safe? All my life I have had tiny seeds of discomfort when I see large groups gather.  At Democratic conventions I fear some Republican will do something crazy like plant a bomb or vice-versa at a Republican Convention a Democrat may decide to cause havoc.  When the Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Civic Center or Martin Luther King Day is observed at City Park,  a fear enters my thoughts that there might be a racist that might cause harm. In fact, any large gathering, like sports venues, makes me apprehensive. But never would I have thought that a movie theater could be a place where tragedy would strike! The sayings my grandmother and my parents drilled into my head when I was growing up come to mind:  Always be ready to meet your maker. Try to live your life as if you could die within a few seconds. You never know when it is your time.

I began to see pictures of the persons shot at the theater and they were all so very young. A fun evening had turned into a horrific nightmare.  I imagined those going to see the movie, standing in line to be the first to see the new batman movie, probably kidding around with each other, walking in to the theater and finding seats, sitting in the plush chairs, some eating popcorn or drinking pop, and all excited about the beginning of the movie.

Suddenly, as I have heard reported, a dark figure threw a canister or two into the first few rows and people began to cough and eyes began to sting.  Many thought it was part of an act to make the movie more realistic. Then, they saw flashes of light, heard rat-tat-tat-tats, booms and people falling over. Panic set in and many "hit the floor." It seems that the dark figure moved up the steps and must have shot those on the floor. One lady said she tried to get to an exit but noticed people going down as they tried to flee so she dropped down as if she had been hit. Chaos, screams, moans, frantic calls and shots must have taken over the room. Was the movie still going or did someone turn it off?  Was it still dark or had lights been turned on?

For the past two days the majority of the news has been about the Colorado Massacre. Sunday morning I heard some of the injured tell their story.  I listened to young persons explain what they had endured. Being in the theater with friends or family, the survivors had experienced fear, pain and grief. As I listened to the stories, I felt sadness and anger. Should there be more gun control?  Should more people carry guns? A man made a comment of why didn't someone shoot the shooter?  What did that man think, that everyone should carry a gun and be ready to use it?

This has been a depressing weekend.  Slowly, more information will come out but I do not believe we will ever know what possesses a person to decide to kill. Because I cannot believe that one person can have so much evil, The Manchurian Candidate, a movie about a soldier who is programmed/brainwashed comes to mind--maybe all the mass shootings are under some sinister plot. 

Today, I will attend mass, pray for those who left us and for those left behind; siblings, parents, wives, husbands, children, and friends.  May God watch over us and protect us from harm.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Farewell to Jean DiGiacomo

A member of our book club at Spirit of Christ, Jean Ann DiGiacomo, passed away on July 1, 2012.  She was born on March 22, 1946 and even though I did not know her well, today at mass I remembered when I would see her at Sunday mass and felt a deep loss. During mass I thought of Jean and an idea began to form.  Here are my thoughts.

Farewell to Jean

I don't care what is said,
death is so final.
Those left behind
feel the painful
suffering of loss
while the one gone
disappears and
who knows where she has gone.
Those that believe
picture her in heaven while
those that don't
I did not know
the woman,
met her a few times
at my book club.
She was soft spoken,
seemed concerned
about protecting
the environment.
She was quiet
yet when she spoke
she had a strong
statement to make.
She reminded me of
a flower child of the 70's
filled with love
for man-kind.
I was told
she was letting her
hair grow to
give it to
Locks of Love.
Today, I missed
her at mass.
I pictured her
walking slowly
down the sloping aisle
to receive
a gluten free host,
her gray hair
tucked beneath
a beret type cap.
I did not know her
but I missed her.
At the book club
meeting we will
think about her
wheat-less treats
as well as the
lovely lady
who left us as
she lived, quietly,
and way too soon.

E. Moscoso
July 15, 2012
Jean is sitting down, first one on the left.

On August 12, 2012, I found out that her husband passed away a week ago, a month after Jean passed on.  Made me think of a saying about how she came for him.  From what I hear, they did every thing together and now they are together again!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

I Love Michael Caine

Michael Caine in his youth.
Just saw on television that Michael Caine will be in the The Dark Knight Rises, the Batman movie.  I will go see it just so I can see my favorite actor, Michael Caine. Many years ago, I saw a movie, don't recall the name of the movie, but it was about Michael Caine moving a piano.  The camera moved from his muscular hairy arms to a young woman with a low cut gown.  As the camera traveled up to the woman and down to his arms,  sweat appeared on his arm as his muscles rippled and the hairs on his arm  gleamed.  The camera captured the woman breathing faster, almost gasping, chest heaving. My eyes followed the camera, back and forth from his arms to her bosom and it was one of the sexiest scenes I have ever seen.  That was the moment I fell in love with Michael Caine.

I have tried to see every movie that Michael Caine has appeared in, and some have been great while others not so great. I read that he may have been in about 130 different roles!  His first movie in 1956 was A Hill in Korea where he plays a soldier and I do not remember ever seeing it or ever hearing about it.  I will order it from Netflix so I can complete my list of Michael Caine movies.

 In Zulu he plays a British soldier (1964).  Alfie in 1966 his role is one of a playboy. In the sixties he is thief, criminal or spy; Gambit, Ipcress File, The Italian Job, plus others.  Some are comedies while others are serious. Educating Rita was filmed in 1983, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in 1988, Hannah and Her Sisters in 1986, The Cider House Rules in 1999, The Quiet American in 2002 and his two latest are Journey 2:The Mysterious Island and The Dark Knight Rises in 2012. These are just a few of the movies he has appeared in and I have seen most of them.

Michael Caine at 77
still looks
Some of his movies leave a lot to be desired but I read somewhere that he will take any part as long as it pays his mortgage! Sometimes, I will see him in movies I have never heard about or he will have a small part, like a cameo appearance, in another movie. It doesn't matter to me whether the movie is good or not, long or short, I love to see him and hear him talk. He is now 77 years old but I still find him attractive and hope he continues being in movies so I can enjoy his face and voice as I also grow older!

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Place for Vegans to Eat

A year ago, my California family took me to eat at Native Foods Cafe,  a place where no animal products are served. I ordered a hamburger and thought I was eating a beef pattie but was told it was not meat.  A few days ago while I was in California, we traveled to Tustin, California for me to give the restaurant another try. I ordered a Reuben and to my surprise, what looked and tasted like corn beef was something called Native Seitan (Say-Tahn). I read this in the menu: "Known as wheat meat. A hand-made process initiated 2,000 years ago in the Near East and modernized in our kitchens.  Provides a complete protein with a delicate meaty texture.  We proudly prepare all of our Seitan, including our Original Seitan, Sausage Seitan, Peppered Seitan, Mexican Seitan, Reuben Seitan, Native Chili Meat and Taco Meat.  Made from scratch daily." It looks like corn beef and the "corn beef" is sliced thin with sauerkraut piled on a wheat bread. It was an excellent Reuben.

Other Native Meats are Native Tempeh (Tem-pay) made of cultured soybeans, and millet.  Rich in protein, iron and antioxidants; Native chicken made from free range soy, wheat and pea protein; and Native Bacon consisting of thinly sliced tofu marinated in our Chef's secret smokehouse recipe, then baked to a firm texture.

The restaurant was founded by vegan chef, Tanya Petrovna in 1994 due to her passion for fresh food, animals and the environment. A blurb in the menu: "At Native Foods Cafe, our food is made fresh daily -- from our homemade tempeh and seitan, to our Native cheese, to our sauces and drinks, dressings and desserts. Our entire menu is 100% plant-based as we strive to create a compassionate dining experience serving up home made meals that are good for you, your family and the environment."

They serve nachos,Saigon roll, fries, chicken wings,pizza, salads, Italian sub, burgers, wraps, and many other familiar sounding dishes but not a one is prepared with animal products.  The Native Cheese is blending of cashew, sunflower seeds, and other nuts to create texture from creamy to crumbly.

A wall at Native Foods Cafe
Something I did not know is that there is a Native Foods Cafe in Boulder, Colorado!  If I ever become a true Vegan I know where I can go to eat!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Alcalde Mayor

My Cousin and I at Church Street Cafe
in Albuquerque, New Mexico
We would kill two birds with one stone, as the saying goes, when my cousin and I visited the land of our ancestors in New Mexico. We were attending a seminar on genealogy and we wanted to visit a church with an altar screen that our great, great, great grandfather had donated to San Jose Church in Laguna. He had been an Alcalde in Laguna, Acoma and Cebolla pueblos. (An Alcalde refers to a government official who acts as a judge and settles disputes. Usually referred to as a mayor or chief judicial official of a Spanish town.) We  found our relative named in The Missions of New Mexico by John L. Kessell and Religious Architecture of New Mexico by George Kubler. He was mentioned in other books and articles but this blog is only going to cover the altar screen.

In The Wall Painting of San Esteban Missions, Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico: A Description and Analysis by Barbara B. Mauldin, my relative is also mentioned. Ms. Mauldin's book was difficult to find but I located one of the three copies available in the United States at the University of New Mexico in the Zimmerman Library. In reading her book I found this information: "An inscription on the side indicates that the work was paid for by the alcalde mayor, Don Jose Manuel Aragon. There are many theories as to the identity of the Languna Santero, but most scholars agree he was probably a provincial artist from Mexico who worked in New Mexico for a few years at the turn of the century and then either left or died.  He made several other screens, including the one in the Laguna Church which was also funded by Don Jose Manuel Aragon."

Jose Manuel Aragon retired as the Alcalde in 1813 and he stated that he had served for twenty years which means he began working as an Alcalde in 1793. I found information that he married Barbara Carmen Duran y Chaves on June 26, 1781 and that he passed away on May 16,1825. One of their children was  Eusebio and Eusebio was the father of Nabor;  Nabor beget Sisto; and Sisto was my mother's father. My cousin is the daughter of Benino, the oldest son of Sisto while my mother was the baby of the family.That is how my lineage is connected to Jose Manuel Aragon. I find it odd that the oldest and youngest of the family died within a month of each other and ended up next to each other (never planned) at Mt. Olivet Cemetery.
Church of San Jose
 at Laguna, New Mexico

My cousin and I drove from Albuquerque to Laguna to see San Jose Church.  They do not allow photographs to be taken inside the church yet I was allowed to take one photo.  When the priest heard our story of Don Jose Manuel Aragon being our great, great, great grandfather he gave us a postcard of the altar screen.  He told us that on the back of the screen there is a notation that Jose Manuel Aragon had given the altar screen to the church.  It is presumed that the screen was painted by the Laguna Santero because of the style of form and color.  From pictures I have seen of the church in the past, every time the church is cleaned and repainted, the old patterns are followed. I liked that what I was looking at was pretty much the way it was when my ancestors lived in the area.

Altar Screen donated
to the church by my ancestor.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

On My Way to Church

On my walk to Mass.
While visiting my daughter and her family in California, I headed to mass on Sunday morning. It is a about a five block walk to St. Angela Merici church and as I hurried along I began to look around.  Beautiful flowers, tall palm trees, nicely landscaped lawns and a peaceful quietness.  God's wonder was all around me. At home I drive everywhere and miss any scenery that might happen to be sprouting up around me.  An orange-pinkish rose seemed to glow with an inner light.  Purple flowers bowed and danced in the cool morning breeze.  A red rose appeared to be velvet.  The closely trimmed grass looked like a carpet of green.
Red Rose

Rose seems to glow with
its inner beauty!
Not sure what this flower is called.
By the time I reached the church, I was giving thanks for my eyes, for my heart, for my life and for my family.  The walk put me in a very spiritual mode as I entered the church. Once inside the church I looked at the large crucifix hanging over the middle of the altar and saw two shadows of Christ hanging on the cross.  My morning could not have been better as God opened my eyes and my heart to what was around me.
Palm Tree seems to touch the sky!

The shadows on the wall made
this a special picture.

"I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us, if only we tune in."
George Washington Carver

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

4th of July

Out came the galvanized tub for my bath, in I went, out I came nice and clean and on came my new clothes. My brother and I always got a new western outfit on the 4th of July--cowboy shirt, scarf around the neck, jeans, holster with two guns and a straw cowboy hat!
Two Buckaroos!
 When we were all decked out we went to the parade. We usually stood near a park in the shade of large trees and watched the many marching bands, horses, clowns, and decorated floats as they made their way along the wide street. Sometimes, my father would pick me up so I could see the exciting parade. The drums seemed to beat in my stomach.

After the parade we sometimes went to a movie to get out of the hot sun. Other times, I remember, going home and my Mother would make hamburgers for lunch.  A few times we went to Island Grove Park where all the amusement park rides were set up and we walked around.  Dad would ride with us but my Mother never did.  She enjoyed watching us and she usually had a big smile on her face.

As we passed the hamburger stands the smell of  of onions and grease wafting around made my mouth water.  When I asked my Father to buy me one he said, "No, they are too expensive.  For what I pay for one hamburger here, the whole family can eat at home."  To this day, my mouth still waters when I smell hamburgers and onions frying! After I was an adult, one of the first things I did was to buy me a hamburger at Island Grove Park for the 4th of July.  I realize that hamburgers sizzling on a grill smell so much better than they taste!

My Mother did not like rodeos and stayed home while my Father took my brother and me to see the Spud rodeo.  Now a days, it is called the Greeley Stampede. We sat in the cheapest seats which meant we were in the sun.  I remember being very hot, getting sunburned, lots of dust, horses, bulls, and cowboys! At night, we returned to the arena to watch the fireworks.  I loved the bursts of lights but did not like the noise.

My grandson at the Greeley Stampede in 2001
After I moved away from Greeley, I tried to return every 4th of July to see the parade. I have taken friends and family with me, depending on who I could get to go with me on any given year.  The parade has grown so much that the last time I attended it lasted three hours. One year I took my grandson to Greeley so he could experience the parade and rodeo. I bought him a cowboy hat and after the parade we went to the rodeo.

 I asked for seats in the shade and the lady said, "All of our seats are covered." I told her about sitting in the sun and she laughed telling me, "It must be a long, long time since you've been to a rodeo here." She was so right!

This year, I will not be going to Greeley to celebrate the 4th of July but I do know that the memories I have of the holiday will always have a special spot in my mind and heart.