Jan 29, 2013

Eight Chickens and a Date

I could have bought eight chickens with the amount of money that Glenn was willing to pay for just the meat as I glanced at the prices on the menu. The baked potato was seven dollars and the salad another ten. I closed the menu and looked at Glenn and said, “You don’t have to pay this much money for dinner.  I like you already, there’s no need to spend this kind of money.” Very firmly and in a low voice, Glenn assured me that he eats in restaurants like this all of the time. He just doesn’t know that I can prepare meals far more elaborate and delicious than what we were about to have. If he only knew that I am a good cook. 

I met Glenn in a chat room shortly before I was divorced.  We talked for a few months, and then he begged me to meet him. He lived in southern Indiana near Louisville and I live in the Northern portion of the state. We decided to meet half way in Indianapolis and make a day of it while we were there. It was really too soon for me to be dating someone. The divorce knocked the wind out of me, and I desperately needed to know that someone else would find me attractive.  

Glenn is a Native American from the Lumbee tribe, with short salt and pepper hair, dark brown eyes, perfect pearly white teeth, and is not a whole lot taller than I am.  He drove up in a silver car that resembled one from the 40’s with narrow windows that the gangsters used to shoot their guns out of in the movies.  He arrived, wearing jeans, a light blue dress shirt, and cowboy boots.  The boots were a golden color, almost yellow, with about an inch or so heel. He said that they were alligator. I’ve never seen a yellow alligator.  They looked so out of place with his ensemble, but strangely right for him.  Draped around his neck was a gold chain and his hands were adorned with rings.  He was dressed to impress. Glenn spoke with the most wonderful Southern drawl. I was quickly drawn in. Although, I found it odd that an Indian would succumb to speaking like the rest of the Southerners but was delighted that he gave in it.

Our day started with breakfast at a quaint little diner in the heart of the city.  We ate and chatted for a long time.  He told me stories about his family. Like me, he grew up poor.  Living in North Carolina with his mother and brothers, they grew tobacco in order to survive. Growing up on the reservation proved to be difficult, with lack of opportunities, and no prospects on the horizon.  In the middle of their one room shack was a pot belly stove that provided hot meals and warmth for their home. Their father left when Glenn was a child. His mother loved them all very much and administered strict discipline on her fatherless children as often as she saw fit, which means in Southern terms he got a lot of whoopings. He eventually worked hard enough to get an electricians degree and makes a good living.

After breakfast, we made our way to the White River Canal. I guess it is a well known tourist spot in Indianapolis. In a way it reminded me of pictures of Italy.  Shops lined both sides of the canal and one could stop off and have a cold drink or a bite to eat while strolling along. Quaint little bridges crossed the canal and I expected to see a gondola go by at any time. 

The next stop was at the Indian Museum and then on to the Children’s Museum. We spent hours looking at paintings, sculptures, and glass ceilings.  We walked and talked until near exhaustion. Around 4 o’clock we were starving. Glenn suggested that I choose a place to eat.  He expressed that he really wanted to eat steak.  I had only been to Indianapolis a few times and didn’t know where many restaurants were.  We were told that there were a lot of good places to eat in the area.  We were given a map and I picked Ruth Cris not knowing anything about the establishment. This restaurant is much like Eddie Merlot’s in Fort Wayne. When we arrived it was lavish on the inside. The lights were dim and the tables had white tablecloths with all of the finery that one expects in such a high class place.  I was not dressed well enough to dine there and felt out of place because I was wearing jeans and gym shoes. Glenn insisted that we give it a try.  We were shown a table right away and given menus.  The prices were extravagant for just everyday food.  I would have much rather ate at the Texas Roadhouse than to blow money in such a way.  We talked for a long time after dinner. Then we made our way back to my car.  We hugged each other and said goodbye, then each one headed back to their home.  He promised to call, but I knew that I wasn’t ready yet to put my heart out there again. I still loved my husband. I thought about him while driving back home. The tears welled in my eyes and spilled over onto my cheeks.  Why can’t love be easy? 

Jan 25, 2013

So, my life begins...

So, my life begins. In a small country town, where the inhabitants live nestled between the Tennessee River and several mountain ranges, I was born.  The city is called Jasper and the state is Tennessee.  It is the gateway to the beautiful Sequatchie Valley.  In the year of 1960, my life began.  It was a hot summer day.  My mother’s labor was long and arduous.  But it was nothing compared to the gift my mother was about to receive.   A year and three months later my brother Randall was born. Later in my life, my mother told me that ever since she could remember she always wanted children.
My mother and father were poor growing up.  They ran off to get married when my mom was sixteen and my dad was twenty.  They were children really.  What does one really know about life at such a young age? Both of my parents lost their mothers when they were young children.  They lived with various relatives for a short time until the grieving parent could get a handle on things.  Losing a mother can be a tragic thing for a child.  The rest of their lives they search for a mother’s love.  It’s impossible to replace it with any other kind of love.  However, they tried to find it in each other. 

Tennessee was magical to me.  I remember the smell of the air in the morning.  It was pure, like crystal clear spring water.  The mountains were endless with millions of trees from top to bottom.  Often, I would gaze at the loveliness which surrounded me.  In the back yard, there was a very large honey suckle bush.  I would pull out the stem and lick it, tasting the sweet nectar of the flower while trying to avoid the bees.  In the evening, the lights would flicker like candles on a cake from the various homes scattered across the mountain range.  Oh these were the days of innocence when nothing mattered but candy and toys to a small girl.   

My father tried many ways to make a living for his young family.  In those days, there were a lot of shops where one could buy, sell, or trade items.  They were along side of a road or a highway or even in remote areas.  My father had a shop called, Charlie’s Trading Post.  I remember looking at all of the wonderful items that he would have for sale.  There were leather billfolds, knick knacks, toys, socks, pillows, and a myriad of other items.  I had my eye on a red plastic doctor bag.  The bags were filled with everything that a doctor would need while looking at a patient. I wanted one in the worst way.  I would pick one up, open and close the bag, play with it for a while, then put it back.   Eventually, my brother and I were each given one and we played with them until they fell apart.  Unfortunately, this shop didn’t flourish and my father had to go and find a job at a factory. 

My small family moved back and forth between Tennessee and Indiana from 1963-1968. My father had a hard time finding a stable job.  So, we moved between the states several times.  I went to many schools during that period.  My first recollection of going to school for the first time was in Tennessee.  It was called East Lake Elementary School.  To a five year old, the building was huge but in reality it was a small neighborhood school. It has since been torn down. I remember my kindergarten teacher who had very large upper arms that moved like a flap on a vehicle while travelling at a great speed. Her arms would jiggle as she moved them back and forth.  I cannot remember her name though, just her arms.  In her class, I learned how to tie a shoe, write my name, and memorized the alphabet.  Learning is hard work and I told my mother that often. 

Life was not all joy at school though.  Well, at least it was not joyful one day.  My mother was late coming to get me.  I never walked home by myself.  I waited and waited.   As I looked around, I realized that there wasn’t anyone else there with me. All of the children were gone.   I felt abandoned. The longer I waited the more upset I became. Then, I cried. A teacher felt pity for me and stayed with me until my mother finally arrived.   Once I saw mom, I was relieved and ran into her arms.
I am the third from the left in the front row
While living in Chattanooga in 1967, there was an Easter egg hunt at the park a few blocks from our apartment. The neighborhood children along with their parents got together and we searched the park for the grand prize of a golden egg.  At that time, we lived in a duplex and my Aunt Linda with her husband Leonard and daughter Sherrie lived beside us.  Sherrie is four years younger than I am.  I remember that the morning dew had just lifted and the grass was still wet, but no one cared.  Like the rest of the children, I was eager to find Easter eggs.  After searching for a while, I found the golden egg.  I was thrilled beyond my wildest childhood dreams.  I ran to my mother and showed her what I had found.  Without blinking an eye, my mother told me to give the egg to my cousin because she was so small and couldn’t go out and find the prized egg on her own.  I was devastated.  Why did I have to give Sherrie the prized egg?  It was mine and I found it by myself.  Unwillingly, I gave my cousin the egg.  I don’t remember what was on the inside of that golden egg, but I still remember how I felt to this day.  This is not the only time in my life that I had to give away something to another because “they” were small and needed it more than I did.  I guess my mother wanted to impress her sister. 
In 1968, we moved back to Fort Wayne for the last time.  My father had a hard time finding work yet again.  This time we had to move into government housing.  Not only did we need assistance with housing but surviving in general.  My father, being a proud man, tried very hard to find a job.   In about a year’s time, he found a job at Fruehauf Corporation as a spray painter and stayed with that company until he passed away.  In February of 1970, my parents bought their first house on Elm Street. The day that we moved in, the temperature was 10 degrees below zero.  We had a hard time getting the furnace going, but once we did, it was wonderful and the house was large inside. I had my own room finally. It wasn’t a dream house by no means, but it meant that we were going to stay put for a while, which was okay with me.  

Jan 22, 2013

Writing My Memoirs

Me, my brother, and sister
As if I am not busy enough, I decided to take a class writing my memoirs.  For the next six weeks, I am going to be a writing fool.  When I write things in my journal it is an easy task.  I have something in mind to write about and everything is over and done with in about 30 minutes. I have called my brother twice already for the first assignment. As you can see, trying to remember my childhood has proven to be difficult.  I only remember bits and pieces. If my brother or sister tells me their version of the story then it might jar my memory of the event.  Randall, Donna, and I like to talk about the past when we get together.  Both of our parents have been gone for a long time. When together, we laugh, we cry, and most of all remember. So, by sharing our side of a story helps to keep their memory alive in us.  You know, we should all write our story down so that those after us might get to know us better through our writing.  There has been many times that I referred back to my journal for details about something.  Don't think that your life is not worth writing about, because it really is.  You are a unique person.  Your DNA belongs to you alone.  So, therefore, your story is just as special.  Come on...write something down about yourself, because your life is worth remembering.

Jan 18, 2013

There's nothing like children and a good belly laugh

We have been working so much lately that it has been hard trying to keep up with everything.  On top of that, when it is gloomy out it affects my mood.   I feel just as blah as the weather is outside.  This week, I was in a training class for work.  The instructor showed us a short video of children as the speakers but grownups are doing the acting.  They are called Kid Snippets.  This one that I am going to share is two kids trying to understand subtraction.  I am terrible in math, so this spoke to me very clearly.  I laughed so hard that I cried. 

A new video comes out on YouTube every Monday.  I watched a lot of these and they are so funny.  Tell me what you think.

Jan 15, 2013

A generation without a signature

Cursive writing is being considered an obsolete form of writing since everything we do is via electronic device.  Our school system is seriously thinking about not teaching the children how to write in cursive.Our penmanship is one of the many things about us, as individuals, that is uniquely our own.  It is like our DNA or a fingerprint, only in the writing sense. As one who loves to journal, writing my thoughts down on paper has been of great help to me. Its about the flow of thought from ones mind through to the page. Printing every letter would be a monotonous task for those of us who love to write.

 I work at a hospital. If a doctor prescribes medicine or a procedure without a signature on the paper then it is not valid. This can apply to many areas of life in general that has to do with legal documents or personal writings.  So, think about it.  Do you want the next generation not to have a signature? I don't.

Jan 13, 2013

Martian rock found in Morocco

It is hard for me to imagine that a rock from another planet somehow landed on Earth. The one found recently in the Saharan Desert was about the size of a baseball. But not just one rock but around 65 have been found in Morocco and in Antarctica of late. Inside this meteorite was water. If there is water then there must be life, don't you think? It is selfish to think that we are the only life "out there". The age of the meteorite was estimated about 2 billion years ago. Researchers performed a battery of test on the meteorite and based on its chemical signature confirmed that it came from Mars.  More test are under way to see how long it was in the Saraha and how long it was floating in space.  Very interesting stuff, I must say.

Jan 11, 2013

Green Onion Paratha Flat Bread

Paratha (pronounced pa rat ha) is a flat bread from India that is very thin and crispy.  It is good for breakfast with eggs or in the evening with soup or curry.  I really like this bread and eat it a lot.  The key to this recipe is that it needs to be thin so that it will be flaky and crispy. 


2 cups of bread flour or all purpose flour
2 tbs butter, melted
about 1 cup of warm water, enough to knead the dough
1 tsp salt

1 bunch of green onions, chopped
melted butter

In a medium bowl combine the flour, salt,  and melted butter.  The flour will be like biscuit dough when you cut in the butter or shortening.  Pour in enough water to moisten the dough and knead until it is smooth and elastic.  About 5 minutes will be enough.  Put the dough in a bowl and cover with a moist cloth so that it doesn't dry out.  Let the dough rest for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, chop the green onions and melt about 2-3 tbs of butter. 

After 20 minutes, take the dough out of the bowl and knead for a minute or two and divide into 6-8 balls.  Roll one at a time out with a rolling pin. Make sure that the dough is thin.  It should be about 6-8 inches in diameter.  Once it is rolled out, brush some butter on the dough and then sprinkle some chopped onion on top.  Roll it up like you would a carpet.  Then roll it up like a cinnamon roll. Finish rolling up the rest of the dough.

Flatten the paratha again with the rolling pin.  Heat up a griddle or non stick pan.  Brush the pan with some oil or melted butter.  Place the disk in the pan and fry until golden brown on both sides. 

Serve warm with soup or curry.  Enjoy!

Jan 9, 2013

Mexican Marbled Pound Cake: Don't hate me for being yummy

I like to watch a program on PBS called Pati's Mexican Table. Pati and her sister Alisa made a marbled pound cake that looked wonderful.  Anything with chocolate is, well, delicious. So, I found the recipe and tried it.  Don't hate me because it's yummy.  Here is the recipe so that you can make it for yourself.

½ pound of unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 ½ cups of cake flour or all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup hot water
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Confectioner’s sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Butter the sides and bottom of a loaf or bundt pan.
In a mixing bowl, add the butter and sugar.  Beat on medium-high speed until creamy, about 3 minutes.  Pour in the vanilla and continue beating. 
Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.  Break the eggs and put them into another bowl.  Next, add  about ½ cup at a time of the flour to the butter and sugar and beat until smooth. Then add an egg and beat until smooth.  Continue this process until all of the flour and eggs have been used.  Lastly, add the sour cream and beat the mixture until smooth. 
Pour half of the batter into another bowl.  Combine the hot water and cocoa and stir until smooth.  Add to one half of the batter and mix well. 
You have two choices, do you want chocolate on top or bottom of the cake?  Not thinking, I poured the white batter into the bottom of the pan so that I could add the chocolate sauce to the remaining batter.  It really doesn’t matter which way it is done.   It is all a matter of taste.  Pour the batter into the pan. Use a knife or spoon to make swirls in the batter.  Put into the oven.  It will bake for about an hour or until a toothpick is inserted into the cake and it comes out clean.   Remove the cake from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool.  Dust with confectioner’s sugar.  Enjoy! 
Cooks note:  If using a loaf pan, pour the white batter in first, then the chocolate batter.  The chocolate will be on top. 

Jan 6, 2013

A Pot from Mexico

My friend was given an invitation to go to Mexico by her close neighbor.  She felt honored to be invited and was anxious to go. The neighbor's daughter was going to have her 16th birthday party there with all of the pomp and circumstance that goes along with this festive occasion. A promise of bringing back a Mexican pot or plate was given and off she went. 

She ate, she drank, she got sick...They aren't kidding when they say not to drink the water.  Actually, it was some of the food that made her sick.  But this didn't deter Margaret from sightseeing. She hiked and visited various shops and looked around until she found the right pot to bring back home. The pot she brought back for me was only 35 pesos (about $3).  Actually, she brought back two.  One broke and she gave me the one that wasn't broken.  I glanced at her kitchen table and the broken pot was lying there.  I offered to give it back or at least share it. What a sacrifice she made.  She called her Mexican friend and a bean pot is on its way to Margaret's house.  She didn't miss out after all. All I have to do is figure out how to cook in it.  The instructions are on their way back from Mexico. 

Jan 2, 2013

The Route of the Freedom Riders Via Charlotta Janssen

Artist Charlotta Janssen’s Freedom Riders portraits are now on display at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art through January 27th. Janssen brought the Civil Rights Movement back to life by painting mug shots of those people who were taken into custody for not complying with segregation laws. Her portraits consist of paint with collage, each one a study of a moment in that person’s life.

Born in Maine, Charlotta lived at one time in West Berlin and also in Iran. Two places where one had to keep their mouth shut about their rights, especially as a woman and an American.

Photo by Anita Jones
Once Charlotta talked with Freedom Rider Joseph Charles Jones, she felt even more compelled to re-tell their story with pictures. Being from New York she had never experienced the south. “The issue of race is a really sad subject. It’s so unnecessary, but it has deep roots and a deep history and you have to deal with them in order to be able to move on. I think that I can be of help with dealing with a history like that because I’ve had to learn by default to deal with that history by birth—by the fact that I was born German, as well as American.” Janssen’s creation shows riders from all over the country, not just the south. This is her tribute.

Janssen, also produced a collection of portraits from the Great Depression, which is well worth looking at too.