Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Fragments

A miscellany of items from my Facebook, both personal and my husbands as well, this week.

I have been blessed in my life, in so many ways. I have seen manatees in the St. Lucie River in Florida, swans in Sodus Bay in New York. I have fed days old orphaned lambs in Virginia, and watched pygmy goats being born in North Carolina. I have watched fireflies dance in late May and seen black waves of starlings drift in graceful ballet through late afternoon skies in August. I have held wee babes, and the translucent hands of the elderly. I have cried until I slept, and laughed until I cried. I have been blessed in my life, in so many ways.

Three years ago I wrote this, upon news of the shooting in Aurora CO. There have been multiple shootings in the past three years, and these words still resonate. Today they are in honor of four Marines and a Sailor, as well as nine who gathered to worship in peace and love. This is being such a tumultuous Summer already.
Events occur that shatter the false sense of invincibility we wear a great deal of the time. Life is fragile, like a bubble shimmering in the air, caressed by rainbows. We truly are ephemeral and fleeting in our presence in this life. Let yourself love, give in to your tears when they pool in your soul, dance your joy, and taste all that life offers. Brightest Blessings to each and every person who reads this.

A memory that goes back a half a century or more ...

My mother's parents lived on a farm just outside Bluefield VA, in a small community known as Bluestone. MawMaw used feed sacks as yard goods on a regular basis - ( I believe each feed sack was a yard of either 36 or 45 inch material ) One manner in which this was used was to hem all four sides and make a cloth to cover the center of the dining table. Always in the center of the table was a small crock with spoons in it, covered dishes of honey, molasses, ground cherry preserves, apple butter or some other "sweet" to slather on biscuits and/or cornbread, salt and pepper, and if you were lucky a small saucer with ham, sausage, bacon or such on it left over from breakfast. Once the table was cleared and the dishes washed, the items were all gathered to the center of the table and the cloth was gently draped over them, to keep the dust and occasional fly out of everything. Lovely memory.

Just read a post by Jason​ about misadventures in online ordering from Pizza Hut and it reminded me of an incident that had to have happened over five years ago, when I was a customer service rep at an AT&T call center. 
To appreciate the humor here, you have to be from the extremely rural and mountainous section of Virginia I call home. 
Several other reps and I decided we wanted to go to the Lebanon Pizza Hut for lunch. After deciding what we wanted to eat, one of the other ladies searched for Pizza on her iPhone and called in an order, about 30 minutes before we were due to go to lunch. When we got to the Pizza Hut we told the waitress we were waiting for our food to be prepared and she brought salad plates for those of us wanting to eat from the salad bar, as well as our drinks, 
After waiting for about 15 minutes and no food showing up, the co-worker who had called went to check on the status of the food.
They had no record she had called in an order.
There is a local pizza chain named Pizza Plus and she had called their number in error, and it was for the location in Haysi, If you Google a drive from Haysi to Lebanon, you will see that it is a 43 mile drive that is estimated to take an hour.

Needless to say, we did not get our pizzas and I imagine Pizza Plus in Haysi had several extra on hand that day.

This is a bit of Junk Mail art by Roger. Oscar was his nephew, whose 39th Birthday would have been July 23. Oscar passed away from cancer just before Roger and I met. Mr. Gregory was actually a toy of McGruff the Crime Fighting Dog, a stuffed toy. Mr. Gregory was named after a neighbor of the Apple's in Hampton who Oscar was able to connect with at an early age. The cupcake would have been butter pound cake with chocolate frosting. 

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

We Are The Dreamers

We are the dreamers -
The unrepentant schemers.
The readers of palms and cards -
Finders of stones in overgrown yards.

Dancers in fairy rings,
Believers in magical things -
Wishing on transient shooting stars
And storing up treasure in mason jars.

~ Ellen Apple 07/22/2015

Photograph by Steve Slade

Friday, July 17, 2015

Just Resting on a Star

We grieve 
We weep
We eat 
We sleep
Then in 
From space
So desolate
A still
Sweet sound
From above
Floats down
The sobs
Which solace
"I've not gone
That far
Just resting
On a star"

~Ellen Apple 07/17/2015

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Flying Off With Angel Wings

Hearts in shock and sorrow meet
Spanning shore to shore
Flying off with angel wings
She'll suffer no more

Love and comfort freely flow
All across the land
Giving space and time to grieve
Touched by unseen hand

For thus has often been said
I believe this, too
What is remembered yet lives
We'll not forget you

Hail and farewell, tender soul
May comfort and peace you find
Ever you shall be with those 
Who think they are left behind

~ Ellen Apple 07-11-2015

I belong to an online Writing Group. We lost a member, and Roger drew this in response to the news. He says so much, just with a no.2 pencil and a Sharpie applied the the back of a piece of junk mail.

Catching a ride on a comet's tail, off to see the universe from which you came - because we are all of stardust made. What an adventure!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I penned a poem

I penned a poem
So deep and true
Each word a gift from ...
Scribbles on a paper scrap
My soul in rhyme
Was it even
Paper lying on a shelf
Casually to ignore
Where lived my heart
Rain through open window
Benediction to the day
Indiscriminate baptism -
My soul fades in inky smear
Too cryptic to translate
A hunger never to
~Ellen Apple 07/07/2015

Saturday, July 4, 2015

We can be better, do better

It is going to be a wet day here in the Appalachian Mountains of southwest Virginia, which I suppose is a spanner in the works of the plans of many, but not the Apple household. We do not grill out. But Roger will have hot dogs, while I have chili buns because I do not eat wieners, just do not like the things. I am making cole slaw, though, and macaroni salad. We have a couple of fresh tomatoes I picked up at the farmer's market on Wednesday and along with onion, oven fried yellow squash and sliced cucumber I think we shall eat well. I worked yesterday, and from the volume of items rolling out the doors of our friendly local Wal-Mart store, I dare say most of the county will be eating well. 

But this day is not just about what we are eating. For those of us who live in the States, this day is about celebrating this country, in all of her foibles and glory. I hope that each of you is able to do that today. A group of brave and visionary men hammered out what is known as The Bill of Rights, which were ratified as such on December 15, 1791. They are as follows:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment VII

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The fact that there were amendments to the Constitution tells us something important, and is a legacy we need to remember. Our system works as well as it does because of discourse, and though not always polite and even-toned, discourse is in my opinion still the best way for consensus to be reached. Consensus means not that you or I always wins but that we reach agreement. Consensus means that conflict, difference of opinion, is resolved without physical harm to others or property. Consensus means that we accept the result, even though it may not be exactly what we may have wanted originally. 

These have been turbulent times for our country recently, times of violence and bloodshed. There have been polarizing events that have driven a wedge between friends and relatives. We are so accustomed to our freedoms here, and so fortunate to be able to utilize our first amendment rights, that we forget that - as the saying goes - the knife cuts both ways.

Just because I have a different opinion, or lifestyle, or heritage than you does not mean either of us is right or wrong. No, no, no! It means we are different. That is all. 

To ascribe to entire segments of our population motivation or intent based on the actions or words of a few (or even just ONE) is not fair, nor just.

To assume that if everyone does not follow your particular path, belief system or religion that they are wrong and you are right is not fair, or just.

Wars have been waged, won and lost, and the same problems still plague our society. Lives have been lost, homes destroyed, families broken, the environment ravaged and the same problems still plague our society.

Maybe, just maybe, it is time to look back at the Bill of Rights and how it came to be. Though the war was waged with England, it was not the bloodshed that was the triumph. The triumph was in the ability of a group of brave men to reach consensus through discourse, and implement the results. 

I keep writing, and saying, that we can be better, do better, as a people. So let me repeat, for emphasis:

We can be better, do better

Monday, June 29, 2015

End of the Month Miscellany

A mixture of this and that from my Facebook page over the past week. The second Item was from a year ago. 

I. I am sickened as well by many events over the past days, weeks, month ... Just when it looks like a storm has passed, another larger one forms. I fear for our land, because a negative energy has built and is sweeping across the plains and mountains, When there are respite moments, times when we could individually and collectively rest, renew, there always seems to be more vitriol waiting to be unleashed ... lines from an old song come to mind - "It's time for a cool change."

II. Very sad to read on the WCYB website of the discovery of the body of an infant near Castlewood on Saturday. For those not from this area, Castlewood is a town in my county of residence. I am sure the end result will be another tragic story. Safe again in the arms of angels a young soul has taken flight. I commented in a group I belong to here on Facebook very recently (paraphrasing myself) that the pain of death is pain for those who remain, because death is release from pain. We mourn the lives that were well lived and well loved. We also mourn the lives that never really had time to learn the sorrow and ecstasy that is life, those who leave so soon. A baby is a sacred responsibility, and the wording of this news story is predicative of a tragic story unfolding. Such sorrowful events happen, and we collectively are lessened in their wake. Sorry for such a meandering post, it has just really upset me to see the headline, Body of Infant Found. How and why was this baby lost? Discarded? Such questions will never have acceptable answers. ( From 2014)

III. The fickle fates are not going to make this week easy for me ... 

IV. Several years ago, Roger and I were in a local grocery store standing in line to check out. Directly in front of us was an older gentleman holding a young girl, she looked to be maybe 18 months old. Riotous blonde curls, big blue eyes, rosebud mouth, porcelain complexion. There was a red balloon tied to a shelving support. She wanted that balloon. She had big crocodile tears, puddling up in her eyes, looked as though they would spill down her cheeks at any minute. She had on hand clasped around the man's neck and was reaching out to the balloon with the other. Her little lip was just quivering and she was saying , "Boon. Boon". Now he was having none of this, he stoically held his ground and paid for their items and left. Rog and I, well were we the grandparents in that situation would probably have bought her a dozen "boons". I do not think that he was being mean, just firm. Not giving in, you know? Because little girls with crocodile tears welling up in their eyes can really work on a person's heart, as can little boys with pouty mouths and soulful looks. 

V. I have a personal friend whose home was bombed in Louisiana by the KKK. That is why I think it is time for the Confederate Battle flag to make a graceful exit from public display. 
I have personal friends who have been shunned in public by complete strangers because they are openly homosexual. That is why I changed my profile to the rainbow of celebration.
If you have a problem with my standing up for my own personal beliefs and opinions on my own personal Facebook page, be you real life friend, online friend, or relative, feel free to unfriend or block me. 

VI. Homemade Banana Pudding
Yes, I did.
With cooked 'from scratch' custard
And real meringue
(And I don't just use vanilla wafers, I make peanut butter vanilla wafer sandwiches and use them instead of the plain cookies)
Oh, yes I did

** This was not on Facebook. I use the recipe that is on the Nilla Vanilla Wafers box. Here it is:

Original Nilla Banana Pudding

Ready in: 60 mins.

Layers of Nilla wafers, creamy pudding and fresh banana slices 
are the stars of this American classic.

3/4 cup sugar, divided 
1/3 cup all-purpose flour 
Dash salt 
3 eggs, separated 
2 cups milk 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
45 NILLA Wafers, divided 
5 ripe bananas, sliced (about 3 1/2 cups), divided 
Additional NILLA Wafers and banana slices, for garnish 

1. Mix 1/2 cup sugar, flour and salt in top of double boiler. 
Blend in 3 egg yolks and milk. Cook, uncovered, over boiling water, 
stirring constantly for 10 to 12 minutes or until thickened. Remove 
from heat; stir in vanilla. 

2. Reserve 10 wafers for garnish. Spread small amount of custard 
on bottom of 1 1/2-quart casserole; cover with a layer of wafers 
and a layer of sliced bananas. Pour about 1/3 of custard over 
bananas. Continue to layer wafers, bananas and custard to make 
a total of 3 layers of each, ending with custard. 

3. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form; gradually add remaining 
1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff but not dry. Spoon on top of 
pudding, spreading evenly to cover entire surface and sealing well 
to edges. 

4. Bake at 350°F in top half of oven for 15 to 20 minutes or 
until browned. Cool slightly or refrigerate. Garnish with 
additional wafers and banana slices just before serving. 

Makes 8 servings

287 calories, 6 g protein, 50 g carbohydrate, 7 g total fat, 
2 g saturated fat, 117 mg cholesterol, 134 mg sodium, 
1 g dietary fiber. 

Preparation Time: 30 mins.
Cook Time: 15 mins.
Cooling Time: 15 mins.
Total Time: 60 mins.