Sunday, August 28, 2016

Bees Joined the Party

Image result for bees or wasps

I do not know if those pesty, yellow and black beasties flying around were bees or wasps but they circled around trying to taste the delicious food brought by the Young At Heart for the annual picnic. They loved pop and beer but as far as I know, no one was stung. Two large roasters full of Sloppy Joe ingredients sent an spicy aroma wafting through the park.

On another table, every kind of salad and side dish imaginable covered the whole table. Pasta, watermelon, green leaf, corn and beans were among the many dishes. The dessert table had a variety of sweets; cinnamon rolls, cookies, brownies, pies, cakes, shortcakes, etc.  If there had been a contest, I know which dessert would have taken first place. Small pastries filled with fruit and displayed like a large flower. The lady that baked the dessert brought baggies thinking that there would be some left over, and she said to me, "They disappeared and there weren't any left so no one got to take any home!"

There were around eighty-five persons enjoying companionship and food before the June, July and August birthdays were called to get their Hershey bar. This was something new because in the past, the summer birthdays are skipped over. I do believe that the summer babies were happy to have Happy Birthday sung to them at the picnic.
Bingo games were fun and two lucky persons won twice while some never won! Games were straight lines, four corners, an X, and black out. Winners received an envelope with money. The lady that used to call the numbers passed away last year and I missed her. Two new persons did the calling with loud strong voices.
 I enjoyed the festivity by going around and talking to people I knew and also introducing myself to those I did not know. Young At Heart is an active and great group and it is fun seeing everyone enjoying themselves.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Jail Time

After being in some of the cells at the Outlaw and Lawmen Museum in Cripple Creek, Colorado, I never want to do anything that might put me behind bars. The docent opened a box on the wall that I thought was a safe for rifles but happened to be handles to open the steel barred cells. The noise of the cell doors clanking open or shut is a depressing sound. The cells are not very big yet sometimes three prisoners would be in the tiny rooms sleeping in hammocks. Some had a cell for themselves but this even looked uncomfortable.  Rooms on the second floor were for solitaire confinement and also where the women were held. Some of the women jailed were prostitutes.

A friend and I had fun putting on black and white tops and pretending we were prisoners. Back in the day there were laws for spitting in public or if your dog was out after eight at night the dog could be shot and killed. The jail was used from 1901 until 1992.

"I don't like jail,
they got the wrong
kind of bars in there."
Charles Bukowski

My Kind of Cripple Creek Gambling

On August 26, 2016, a busload of forty-one persons from the Arvada area arrived at Cripple Creek, Colorado. Casinos on both sides of the street, a District Museum at one end of the street and about eight blocks toward the opposite end of town there is the Outlaw and Lawmen Jail Museum, plus restaurants in between.

After the bus unloaded in front of Bronco Billy's everyone went in search of breakfast, a good machine, and card tables while a friend and I went to the District Museum. We were taken back in time with the antiques displayed from another era. I was surprised to see the Kerosene glass lamps, the flowered wall paper, and lace curtains that I remember having in my home when I was growing up!

The museum has three floors and is housed in the original train station. Every so often, we could hear the piercing train whistle which also brought back memories of when trains were popular. I saw mining equipment, medical equipment, collections of rocks and fool's gold, many photographs of people who had lived in the area, a wagon, and rooms as they used to be for persons living in
that era.  A six foot Indian and trapper (very realistic) slot machines welcome visitors with the slots situated in their tummies. We were told that the machines were illegal to play until 1991 when gambling became legal in Cripple Creek. Now they are a part of the museum.

My favorite area was the third floor where the Victorian rooms were located. It seemed like such a peaceful time though I am sure it was not. Beds, dolls, dishes, tablecloths, curtains, dress, and books are from that early era. I find museums to be interesting because they give us a view of what life might have been like in the 1890's.

In the Assay Office with equipment of the time, I found my perfect place to gamble!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Five Stories in One

I purchased a book because I used to read the author years ago. Joyce Carol Oates used to be one of my favorite authors, yet I had lost track of what she was writing because there were so many other good writers. A few weeks ago, Amazon advertised Middle Age; A Romance by Oates and I purchased it. The book had been published around 2001 but I had not read it. The story begins by a dead man recounting how he died. The first pages made me wonder if I would even enjoy the story; I wondered if the author had lost her touch.

Before long, I could not put the book down. Adam Berendt, the dead man, opens the story by telling us his story and how he died.  Who would have known that in one book I would be reading five or six different stories.  Maybe more! The story moves from character to character making each person come to life with a compact vision into their lives. Each character could have been a story on its own. Somehow, all the people in her book had come in contact with the dead man while he was alive and how he affected them.

Wealthy, middle-age persons and each has something to say about Adam, the dead man. 1) Marina Troy, a friend who is left property by Adams; 2) Roger Cavanagh, Adams attorney; 3) Abigail Des Pres, described in the book as: "lovely, sexually, rapacious, neurotic divorcee"; 4) Lionel Hoffman leaves wife to have an affair with a conniving, dishonest younger woman; while his wife, Camille Hoffman  becomes an animal advocate; 5) and Augusta Cutler, disappears on purpose leaving her husband, Owen Cutler devastated. Love, hate, misunderstandings, lies, longings and wishful thinking is interwoven through their lives. Descriptions of homes, places and people leave nothing to the imagination. I felt as if I was in the middle of the town known as Salthill-on-Hudson, a suburb of Manhattan.

Somehow, each character is developed until the reader knows their innermost thoughts and feelings. The people are not handsome or beautiful but middle age with older faces and bodies. The surprising thing is how each character is connected to the dead man, Adam. He somehow managed to be every one's friend or confidant. One surprising part was a nanny from Guatemala named Herlinda!

Once I got into the story, I could not put the book down. Joyce Carol Oates has not lost her touch as an award winning writer.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Friends and Food

There are times when I see friends and they give me some goody they have prepared. I appreciate their thoughtfulness and enjoy eating food prepared by loving hands. An Italian lady prepares different dishes and never sends me home empty handed. Her last offering was sopapilla type Italian bread.  "Dip them in honey," she said, "and you will see how good they taste." I could not wait to get home for the honey and opened the baggie as I drove home. The small pillows were delicious.

Another friend who I met at a movie theater, said: "After the movie, remind me to give you something I fixed. I hope you will like the zucchini bars and a cherry dessert."

Sure enough, after the movie she handed me a small gift bag. She explained that she meets other
"cooks" at the Standley Library and suggestions are given to them as to what to cook.

The zucchini bars had a delicious coating of bread crumbs. Anyway, I think the zucchini was wrapped in bread crumbs but since I am not a connoisseur of food I am not sure. My mother used to make mashed potato patties dipped in egg and to this day I can not get the egg to stay on the potatoes. The egg usually ends up stuck in the pan!

The dessert had dark cherries and was like a fruity tart. The delicious food hit the spot. I have figured that important ingredients in my life are food and friends!

A Singing Voice

"Oh, hijita, you are off  key," or "you sound a bit flat." This is what I heard as I was growing up. It didn't matter that I sang in a choir, that I had been in a musical in high school and had to sing in front of an audience, or that I loved to sing around the house. It seemed as if my father always had a negative comment about my singing. And I believed him. I didn't think he had a good voice but I never told him what I thought. Doubt began to enter my mind when one time while singing in the church choir, he said, "I could hear you, and you sounded off key." I had not uttered one word that day because I had a cold. It made me wonder who else in the choir was as flat as I was!

When I saw the movie Florence Foster Jenkins I wished I had been surrounded by people that made me feel as if I could sing, even if I couldn't. My mother, who sang or whistled while she worked around the house, never said a thing when she heard me singing. To this day I do not know if I can sing or not. I do have a complex and in church when we sing our responses, I sing in a low voice. If there is a strong singer next to me, I believe I am singing right along with that person. But I will never know because evidently people cannot hear how their voices sound. I slowly stopped singing around my family and find that the only place I feel comfortable singing is in my car when I am alone.

A friend who happened to hear me sing said, "You have a nice voice." I told him I didn't like to sing because I never knew if  I was on key or not. He said, "Anyone can sing, you just have to find your own pitch." He boosted my confidence a wee bit.

In the movie Florence Foster Jenkins, everyone catered to Florence; her husband, her voice coach, and those who loved her. They encouraged her and praised her. I thought for sure that at one point she would sing on tune, but it never happened while she was alive. She never seemed to realize she did not have a voice and that some persons laughed at her. My favorite quote from the movie was when she says, "Some may say I can't sing, but no one can say I didn't sing!"

Maybe I will begin singing again and whether on or off key, I will enjoy singing along with my favorite singers!


Addendum: By pure chance I received my Netflix choice called Marguerite. The story takes place around 1921 and is about a rich lady who loves singing. Her flaw is that she sings off key. A blurb on the envelope states: Marguerite has been living her passion in her own bubble, and the hypocrite audience, always coming in for a good laugh and acting as if she is the diva she believes she is.

In some ways the two movies are similar by her off-key singing at a large concert hall and wearing feathery wings. The plot differs with her servant photographing her at the beginning and ending with her last photo when she hears herself sing, The movie has funny parts, sad parts and lots of bad singing! Two different movies with sort of similar plots but entirely different stories!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Before You Know It

My father used to tell me, "Love your children now because they will soon be gone." I had no idea what he meant. Where were they going? My son was four and my daughter was two so where were they going to go?

Many fond memories come to mind as I remember pre-school, kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, high school and college. There were many teacher conferences and sitting in bleachers at soccer fields. The pain of seeing them as one by one they left home. One driving a big rig across the United States and the other in Guatemala as a Peace Corps volunteer. Yet, they still came home.

And then they were gone for good. At this point I finally understood Dad's comment. I often found myself repeating it to my children. Last night my phone buzzed to let me know I had a text message. It was my daughter letting me know my granddaughter's new address. My granddaughter had moved to a dorm to begin classes miles away from her family nest.

"You don't have to be great to start,
but you have to start to be great!"
Joe Sabah

Where had the time gone? How could it have moved so fast? My grandbaby who I remember spending time with her and watching her grow up, was going away to school. I watched as she developed into a beautiful young lady and seeing her filled me with pride. Now she was entering another phase in her life and so were her parents!

"Have no fear of moving into the unknown."
Pope John Paul II

Friday, August 19, 2016

Cripple Creek Gambling

"Why don't you ever take a bus to Cripple Creek?" I was asked by some of my monthly gamblers that go to Blackhawk. "I don't know," I said, "I have never done it but I can plan a trip if you want to go."
About forty persons said they were interested in going to gamble in Cripple Creek.

The Internet was my first stop. I learned that Cripple Creek is a former gold mining camp at the base of Pikes Peak. The town is about 50 miles from Colorado Springs. Now, visitors try their luck at gambling instead of digging for gold.

My first call was to gather information about the casinos in the quaint mountain town. I inquired about promotions they might have for a group of about fifty persons. After getting information from the casinos I contacted a few bus companies. The lowest price  would cost about $27 per person if I had fifty passengers.

I began advertising the trip in the bulletin and by word of mouth. Then the bad news. Many of who said they would go began cancelling.  I put a blurb in the church bulletin that the trip would be cancelled if not enough persons signed up. What frustrations! Some would sign up, some would cancel, some wanted to go but thought it was too far, some could not sit for such a long trip and no money was coming in.

Those that wanted to go and paid their money began praying that the trip would be a go. My friends would talk about the trip to their friends. I even spent time after mass inviting people and telling them about the trip. I began to think that I might need to cancel the trip.

In the meantime I called other bus companies and found one for less money. I would now need less persons and once again I became excited.  I decided that I would pay the remainder of the money from my own pocket if I did not get enough persons. A friend, who really wanted to go, said she would split the cost if we did not get enough passengers. I hated disappointing those that were ready to go.

Slowly, people began to get interested. One day I got four persons who paid and signed up.  Calls started to come in and when I had a few persons over my quota, that made me happy!

It is true that people like to wait until the last minute because calls are now coming in and the trip is about a week away. A I told those late callers, "Your money is what reserves a seat on the bus, so get it in as soon as possible." I also know that no matter how much we plan, if God has other plans we may not be going. I recall when I was ready to take a group to New Mexico and fell and broke my ankle and could not go.  I now tell everybody I talk to, "I live my live like an alcoholic, one day at a time!"

"In the past you dug for gold
to become rich;
now casinos are the mines
if you get a machine
that is hot and not cold!"
E. Moscoso

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

International Rosary

Sitting next to me a lady prayed the rosary in Spanish, I was saying it in English and the majority of the people in attendance prayed and sang in Italian. I attended the rosary at a home where the traveling Blessed Mother statue was visiting. The large statue goes from home to home and people gather around to sing and pray.  I thought it was a nice touch to have those that wished state their intentions.

The altar had been decorated with many colorful flowers and was the center of attention as twenty women and a few men gathered around to pray. A large angel stood at attention by the altar! The scene brought memories of when I was a small child and happened to visit my grandmother. I tried to stay away around five in the evening because my grandmother, two aunts, three cousins and neighbors would gather in a room that had a large, tall chest of drawers with many holy religious statues. Every saint imaginable would be on top of the dresser and a candle would be flickering in a glass holder. The rosary would be said plus many other prayers. If I began to doze off I would get an elbow in my side. The difference between then and now was that last night we sat in chairs and when I was growing up we knelt!

After prayers were done, it became a loud social hour. I could see that Italians know how to enjoy themselves! Water, lemonade, and coffee along with sweet breads were served. At one point we all held hands, swayed to the music while the majority sang in Italian. The songs sounded happy and lively. When a fast waltz was played one of the men and I danced and everyone applauded. I heard a lady say, "She really likes to dance." And she was right, I do.

I suppose if Our Blessed Mother was looking at the group, she would have been pleased to see so much happiness, love and peace in the group. If only the whole world could get along as the group last night.  It would be such a wonderful world!

"For where two or three
are gathered in my name,
there I am in the midst of them."
Matthew 18:20

Monday, August 15, 2016

Hard to Believe

I am not sure what this means but if  33,000 persons have viewed my blog that is a lot! I enjoy writing and it makes me happy that people are reading my blog. Today I hit the 33,000 mark and by evening it was at 33,026. I do not know if my blog is being read, if just clicking on it racks it up as a page view, or how the total is reached. Yet, on August 15, 2016, these are the numbers of page views on my blog!

One Never Knows

This morning when I woke up I could see my bedroom bright with sunlight. I turned on my side, stretched and breathed deeply. What did this day have in store for me? I could get up and blog, do laundry, water my lawn or go to mass. As I lay in my cozy bed contemplating what I should do I thought that today was a holy day of obligation. Then I remembered the priest saying that because it fell on a Monday it no longer was a day when we had to go to mass.  In the past the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary used to be a holy day of obligation.

I got myself together and drove to the church where the parking lot was filled with cars. It was almost like a Sunday. You see, I told myself, you are not the only one following the old traditions. The chapel had some people but it wasn't overflowing. Why were all those cars in the parking lot? the lady sitting next to me told me that there was a retreat going on in the church and that was why the parking lot was full.

About eight persons walked in and took their place at the front of the chapel. Then, they began to sing. What a wonderful choir and in the small chapel they sounded like a choir of angels. The altos and the sopranos blended their voices to sing praises to Our Blessed Mother.   I got teary eyed because I was so thankful I had decided to come to mass. Otherwise, I would not have heard the beautiful music. Even the priest's vestments of white and red made the mass seem extra special.

Sometimes, well maybe most times, I get the feeling that my life is directed by someone else. Today
Our Blessed Mother had a hand in getting me to mass and starting my day in a good mood.

"Let us enter this week in deep prayer
to Our Blessed Mother, who serves us
with her motherly mediation and advocacy.
She is our Queen Mother."
From the Internet

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Behind the Scenes

During the summer, I enjoy going to various Bazaars held by Catholic churches for their annual fund raisers. It helps the parish plus  lots of fun! Yesterday I happened to enter the kitchen of the church to find my friend preparing Mexican food for her booth. I was shocked at the three crock pots filled with cheese for nachos, two huge kettles with beans, dishes with chopped onions and tomatoes.
Green and red salsa in large plastic containers that would
be poured into typical Mexican dishware. She had two elderly men taking the large pots to the booth which was situated about one half block away. The circumference of the metal pots looked to be about thirty inches while the height looked about two feet tall so I know they had to be heavy.

While I watched her work to prepare the food, the phone would ring. More cheese was needed or the booth was running out of meat or salsa or whatever was necessary for the Mexican dishes. "Where are your helpers," I asked. She shrugged her shoulders and I said, "Do you want me to help?" As she started to tell me what she needed for me to do, two women arrived and began chopping and cutting. I told her since she now had help I was going to attend the bazaar. She said, "I do have one favor to ask you, would you take pictures of the booths, from all angles?"

I told her I did not have my camera but I would use my phone. Strange that I always have my camera and the one time I should have had my camera, I had forgotten to put it in my purse. As I walked to the grounds where the bazaar was being held, the two men were returning to the kitchen to pick up more food. It seemed like a constant picking up food and taking it to the booth. One man, who must have walked back and forth many times, told me he was eighty-one years old!

Looking at the bazaar with all the booths, no one would guess the hard work being carried out behind the scenes. The sausage sandwich which is popular at the functions was a matter of putting the patties on the grill. It looked like forty at a time were grilled to keep up with the line of customers.

After yesterday's bazaar I now have an awareness of how much work goes into making a bazaar a success!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Yerba Buena

One of the ingredients for a watermelon salad I made was Mint leaves. The minute I smelled it, memories began rushing in and making me remember those Yerba Buena (hierbabuena) moments.

My grandmother would put two mint leaves on her temples to ease a headache. I remember when she would hug me I would smell the pungent sweet odor.

My mother would make a tea that tasted like mint. I do not know if she boiled the leaves to make the tea or if she just added the leaves later. However she did it, the smell was over bearing.

I remember plants growing like weeds along a fence by our home and I liked to rub the leaves and smell my hands.

When someone had a cold, Yerba Buena was given to us to drink. Upset stomachs could be helped with Yerba Buena.

Who would have thought that in English, Yerba Buena is called Mint. A friend from Mexico commented on my Facebook page that Mint and hierbabuena are two different herbs. I checked on the Internet and she is right but in the United States the green plant is put under the category of Mint.

An article about  Mint in the Internet I read that: " A bouquet of fresh mint can scent the kitchen when you pluck fresh leaves for teas and cooking." Sounds like a handy herb to have around this plant called Yerba Buena.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Watermelon Woes

How do you pick a good watermelon? I read somewhere that there should be a yellow area somewhere on the watermelon and that would make for a juicy, sweet watermelon. Not true. I purchased a watermelon at Heines Market and it was pinkish in color, tasteless and not good at all.
I returned the melon to the market and I told the sales clerk how horrible the watermelon tasted and asked, "How does one pick a ripe watermelon?" He called a young female worker over and said, "This lady would like for you to pick a good watermelon for her." She went to the bin and lifted one large melon and shook it, rolled it around in her hands and said, "This is a good one. I will cut it for you and you decide whether you like it or not."

The two halves were a deep red and looked good so I took them in place of the bad one. I asked her, "How do you know which are good?" Her answer was, "Practice and it should sound right when you shake it." She was busy so I did not get any more information from her. I got home I cut into the melon and it was delicious. I wondered if when a watermelon is shaken should I hear water sloshing, seeds rattling, or nothing at all.

Now that I had two large halves, I decided to make a Watermelon Salad that I had seen on the Internet. Olives, red onion, lime, olive oil, mint, watermelon and feta cheese. It sounded easy enough and after I prepared the salad I took it to a movie night with friends so they could give me a thumbs up or down.  They liked it and commented that it is a tasty salad and refreshing on a hot summer day. The movie,Young Victoria, was good also!

Recipe from the Internet:

3/4 c. thinly sliced onion
1 T fresh lime juice
1 1/2 qts cubed watermelon
1/2 c black olives
1 c fresh mint
2T olive oil
3/4 c Feta cheese

Place onion in juice for about 15 min.
Place watermelon, feta cheese, olives, onions with juice, and mint in bowl.
Drizzle olive oil and toss to blend.

Bon Appetit!

Fun Friday

On August 5, 2016, Holy Trinity Parish opened their three day Fun Fest. I decided to go on the first day because two priests I know would be playing in the band called the "Genuflectones." The clouds were grey and stormy looking and everyone prayed that it would not rain. I found out that three priests were playing that evening. Nice to know they can play oldies and current rock tunes and my guess is that they can also play religious music but tonight it was all rock and roll!

When a friend and I arrived there were already people milling around at the many booths. We decided to get a snack before playing games or listening to the music. I had a buttery corn on the cob and she had a sugary sopapilla. As I ordered my corn,  I watched a man put mayonnaise, cheese, chili powder, and salt on his and it reminded me of Mexico where putting those ingredients is a common practice. As I took a bite out of my corn, the grease landed on my leg of my favorite pants. Gee whiz, now I would have to walk around with greasy dark spots on my clothes. What if those spots would not come out?  "When you get home, just put dish water soap and rub the grease away," my friend told me.

Before long I forgot all about the spots on my pants because I began tapping my feet in time to the music. Some people got up and danced to the peppy music.  This is when I miss having a dancing partner. After listening to a few tunes we decided to go play games at our favorite booth; the Country Store. Tickets are purchased and a wheel is spun and if the wheel stops at one of your numbers, you are a winner! Another friend had already won a salami and I put down my $2 for five chances to win and I did win a salami after a few tries.

I went wandering around the booths while
my friend continued playing until she also won a salami and a chunk of cheese. I thought five numbers was a bit much if the church intended to make any money and believe that three numbers is a better money maker. But, what the heck, the five numbers gave more people a chance to win!

What a pleasant surprise when I saw other friends. It was fun chatting with them, enjoying the music as it played in the background, watching people try their luck at Pickles while they enjoyed eating the different foods that were being sold.

The evening was pleasant and it did not rain! I hope that the next two days the Fun Fest will continue to be dry without any rain.

What a wonderful evening seeing people that had recently gone on our journey to Chimayo and being able to reminisce about the trip. I do love these church bazaars!

Monday, August 1, 2016

My Favorite Writer

I guess I should say he is one of my favorite writers because I do have other authors I like. Most of all  I admire their wit. Kurt Vonnegut and Mel Brooks come to mind yet, Woody Allen is probably my all time favorite. Many people do not care for him especially when he married Mia Farrow's adopted daughter and there is a thirty-five year gap between their ages. I looked on the Internet to see if they are still married and it appears that they are still together. Aside from accusations that he molested another one of Mia's adopted daughters and his marriage to a younger woman, I still like his wit.

Café Society is his latest movie and it is amazing at the ideas he writes about and his clever language. There is sadness, humor, and strong emotions in the film. The music is wonderful oldies and I liked the songs in the movie. Some of the critics seem to have liked the movie but mentioned certain aspects of the film they did not like. One was Woody Allen's voice which they called feeble. What do they expect, the man is eighty years old!

The gist of the story is about a young Jewish man (Jesse Eisenberg) who goes to California to work for his uncle, (Steve Carell). He meets Vonney (Kristen Stewart) and falls in love not aware that she is having an affair with his uncle. She has to choose between youth and maturity and picks the uncle. The young man returns to New York, becomes successful in the night club business, meets another Vonney (Blake Lively) and marries her. The first Vonney comes to New York, they both realize how much they still love each other, and I will stop writing in case someone reading this blog will want to go see Café Society.

The movie has plenty of Hollywood glamour, gangster activity, and a Jewish family. Woody Allen has a very creative mind and he wrote and directed the movie. I doubt that he will be nominated for an academy award for this film but I found it to be a fun and enjoyable movie!

"Life doesn't imitate art,
it imitates bad television."
Woody Allen