Something New

I took my own bags to the grocery store today.  I have a ginormous IKEA bag made out of the blue tarp material. 

When I was in Maine, I was impressed that the majority of shoppers brought their own bags. “I could do this,” I thought. I don’t like waste anymore than the next person, and those flimsy plastic bags often don’t even make it home unbroken.

The key, I’ve learned, is keeping the bags in the car. 

I actually felt shy about giving the checker my bag; I needed to explain that this was something new for me.  “Cool!” was her response.  Perhaps the next time I can just smile and hand the checker my bag. 


Can You Cut Up A Chicken?

Another getting to know you post.

While I was in Maine our small town/small university hosted Joel Salatin as keynote speaker of the Oregon Rural Action Annual Convention.  Several friends went and I’m soaking up their reactions.  Katie, an honorary member of our family, typed up her notes and sent them to me. 

This bit grabbed me:

50 years ago, all the mothers knew how to cut up a chicken —
now 50% of them don’t know that chickens have BONES!

It took me back to an afternoon (I was probably 11 or 12) when my father patiently taught me how to cut up a chicken. Sharp knife and all.  I remember having to feel for the joints between the leg and body and the joints between the thigh and drumstick.  The hardest part to master, as I remember, was cutting down the middle to divide the back from the breast.  You had to honk down kind of hard to cut through the bone.


Who knows how to cut up a chicken? (I have to admit, none of my children learned from me since we started eating boneless breasts.)  Note to myself: teach youngest son how to cut up a chicken.

How did you learn? 

Any stories out there?

Do tell!


No Dancing in Waltzing Matilda

File this under: “You Learn Something New Every Day.” 

I’m catching up on People and Places itching to get out of the “A” countries and into the “Bs”.  But the section on Australia is HUGE.

And next thing you know, I’m disabused of the notion that Waltzing Matilda is a nice woman on the outback.  Oh no! A waltzing matilda is an Australian hobo. 


A matilda is a blanket roll; to waltz matilda is to tramp the roads. 

The who knew? questions burns in my brain.  Tell me truly, did y’all know this already?

How Do You Hug?

I’m still processing our trip to Southern California.  It was both a wedding celebration and a mini family reunion, including the colorful Croatian characters (she said fondly) who are our family-by-extension. 

There were hugs in abundance.

And I was always a bit off, don’t you know.  Out of sync. 

When I hug, I head straight for the shoulder.

But their first destination is the cheek, for the preliminary kiss just before the hug.

It made me think.

How many styles of hugs are there? (Caveat: I’m strictly talking about hugs between friends, not between lovers.)

•  The man hug – with the double triple pat on the back.

•  The handshake/hug which perhaps starts as a handshake and ends as a hug.

•  The bear hug.

•  The side hug.

•  The cheek kiss/hug.

•  The double cheek kiss/hug.  Vive la France!

•  The air kiss/hug.

•  The litle peck kiss/hug. 

Sooooo — how do you hug?

A hug is like a boomerang – you get it back right away.
~ Bill Keane

Hugs are the universal medicine.

~ Author unknown

Funny story:  years ago, some friends were leaving on a trip and as Jan and I hugged each other, I–for some odd reason–got my wires crossed and kissed her.  On the eye.  Whatever sadness we had at parting evaporated into giggles.

Politics, Just This Once

I stumbled onto this quote last week from a man for whom I have little admiration.  I’m not making a specific application of the quote, but I couldn’t resist posting it.

“He knows nothing,
and he thinks he knows everything.
That points clearly to a political career.”

  ~  George Bernard Shaw

A Confession

I love to play with matches.

I love to:
    1.    light one match (preferably wooden “light anywhere”), and with that flame light a second match;    
    2.    blow the first one out (watch the smoke curlicue), light it with the second’s flame;
    3.   blow the second one out (fascinated by the smoke curlicue), light it with the first’s flame;
    4.   repeat 2. and 3. until the only place left to hold the match is the previously burned part.

The whole point about creating a lot a curlicue smoke is to cover, ahem, unpleasant odors. 

One day, years ago, our middle son casually announced at the dinner table that he discovered that Lysol is flammable.  On a visit to my sister’s house he was playing with matches, experimenting by extinguishing a match with Lysol.  To his surprise and delight, the flame flared.  He dropped the match in the toilet, filed the new fact about flammability in his head, and forgot it for a few months until it surfaced while we ate dinner.  My sister’s house never burned down. The mercy of the Lord never ceases…

After that revelation, we replaced all the matches in our bathrooms with air freshener.

Now that the same pyromaniac son has been gone from our home for five years, and we are looking for economy in every corner, the matches have re-appeared.  And I have re-discovered the simple (no longer) secret joy of playing with matches.   

The Narrative of Ephemera

Last weekend we had a last hurrah with our dear friends Jack and Lisa.  They moved to North Carolina last summer, but didn’t sell their house in the Northwest until recently.  They were back to pack; we went up to send them off. 

Lisa is a master of organization.  Normally, her refrigerator has charts, lists and menus on the sides which are beautiful in their order.  This trip I had to be content with reading all the notes to the movers and watching her execute her moving plan. 

The last battle to conquer was the garage.  One section had empty boxes which had been reserved for potential use, but not needed after all.  We got to work breaking them down for the recycle center. 

Now boxes are boxes, right?  Empty containers to be re-used.

Ah, my friend; so many boxes held a story in the empty spaces. 

Lisa held up a box that had my brother Danny’s return address.  She remembered what was sent in the box, a gift for the girls (obviously my sister-in-law Valeri was behind that). 

The one that delighted me was a box which had contained a case of baby formula.  The box had my name on the top right hand corner, with a notation “No Charge” on the side.  Fourteen years ago, Safeway had a drawing for a case of baby formula.  I phoned Lisa and asked which brand she preferred for her two  newly adopted daughters.  I entered the drawing and won! 

A bucket of matches from various restaurants (do they still give those away?) took us back to our college days.

Isn’t it amazing how a bit of cardboard glued together can evoke such memories? 

Do you save boxes? 

I used to love shoe boxes, but they’ve flimsified.

Boot boxes make great mailing containers at Christmas.

I love boxes.

I really like Lang note card boxes – strong and pretty for small gifts.

Paper boxes are wonderful: uniform, nice lids, great containers.

What are your favorite boxes to save?