Monday, January 31, 2011

Fun Monday - Novel Idea

Ari has one more topic for us before she retires from Fun Monday hosting duties...
Topic for Jan. 31: Your first novel is published to wide acclaim. What's the title of your novel and what is it about?

I hesitate to participate this week. Not because I don't have an idea for a book but because the premise of this book goes against my religion. I also think a few people may have no idea that I have such a dark and vengeful side.

A little background -in the 1960s, my uncle was killed in a robbery at the bar where he was working. After much diligence and hard work, (a lake was drained to find the murder weapon), two persons were arrested, tried by a jury(ies) of their peers, convicted and sentenced to death.

In 1972, the California Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstititutional. 107 death row inmates were taken off death row and re-sentenced. Not all of them were sentenced to life without parole and some, after serving time, were paroled.

In 1977, the California State legislature re-enacted the death penalty with new sentencing guidelines. Those persons who had been re-sentenced could not, under the cover of double jeopardy, be put back on death row.

There are currently 674 inmates on California's death row. Since 1978, 11 inmates have been executed. 12 inmates have committed suicide. 30 have died of natural causes, including old age.

My Church does not believe in capital punishment. I do. They deem it murder. I do not. I pray about this.

Now - my book, which is titled, with thanks to one of my deputies, "Just Desserts".

My protagonist is a middle aged woman. Let's call her Lucretia. She is an average person; high school graduate, a little college, widowed, grown children, never in trouble with the law. She finds out that she is terminally ill.

Needing both a paycheck and benefits, she lies about her recent diagnosis and goes to work for the State. She gets hired as a cook for the prison system. Making no effort to hide her work, she poisons every inmate on death row.

She is arrested, tried by a jury of her peers, convicted, and sentenced to death row. Her diagnosis turns out to have been a false positive and she dies, on death row, of old age, with all of her medical care having been paid for by the State.

No, go on over to Ari's and read some more uplifting, humorous, and inspirational posts!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fun Monday - Smiley Sounds

Ari at A Prawn of Fate continues her hosting duties for January's Fun Monday (need a February volunteer!) with this question:

What is the most beautiful sound in the whole world? Once you've told us that, give us the flip side, too: What is the sound you dislike the most?

I did not put my children on YouTube when they were cute and cooing so I had to borrow someone else's baby. This is my favorite sound in the world - a baby just discovering it's voice and dropping all those pear-shaped sounds into the day.

Enjoy! and hop on over to Ari's for the rest of the participants.

An Explanation

My daughter asked me today where my Fun Monday post was for this week. The topic was 'songs that make you get out of your chair and dance'. I don't dance but I do get out of my chair - for the Star Spangled Banner.

Intending to participate, I started looking on YouTube for a clip to embed. I went through 17 clips before I finally found one that did not, at some point, make me want to scream at the person singing. I refuse to call some of these folks artists. I finally found a clip that sounded the way I think our National Anthem should sound.

It was sung by the combined choirs of our National Forces - Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, and Coast Guard. It was beautiful. As it was being sung, the camera panned over the crowd, all those folks standing with their hats off and their hands over their hearts or lifted in salute. The camera then panned over the sports personages waiting to play. Not one of them showed any sign of respect for the moment.

I tried again. 6 clips later, I admitted defeat. I was unable to find a single clip that did not make me want to throttle someone. So, instead of posting on Fun Monday, I spent my time writing letters to teams.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Rest in Peace

A gentleman in our town died this week. I was trying, unsuccessfully, to come up with some words of comfort for his wife and children, who are grown.

I passed the store that one of the children owns, along with his wife. The sign out front, which is usually adorned with some philosophical comment or notice of an upcoming event, bore these words:

"He is not dead. He is alive in Christ."

This family was not in need of words from me.

Rest in peace, Ralph.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thankful Thursday 1/13/2011

On Wednesday evenings, I teach a 5th grade religion class. When I was a child, this class was called "Catechism". When my daughter was a child, this class was called "CCD". It is now called "FF" for "Faith First".

I have been teaching this class for a few years now. Most Wednesdays, I start anticipating the 7:00 class sometime in the afternoon. I used the word anticipating because the word dreading has such negative connotations. Most Wednesdays, I come home from class knowing that I learned - or relearned - so much more than the kids did.

Last night is a perfect example. We are learning about the liturgical calendar, the calendar by which the Church orders its' year. We are currently in "Ordinary Time", that time between Christmas and Lent and also between Easter and Advent. It is the time when we learn the most about Jesus' ordinary life - not the huge milestones of His birth or of His death and resurrection - but His life among us.

Towards the end of class, we just sort of devolve into a discussion time, when the kids ask questions about whatever is on their minds. What is on their minds is very rarely what I have just spent 40 minutes talking about. Last night, they wanted to talk about the recent events in Arizona, when Representative Giffords was shot and Christina Green, among others, died. We were discussing praying, for the repose of the souls of those who died, for the healing of those who were hurt, for the skill of their doctors, for the first responders who, as one child pointed out, will have those pictures and memories in their minds forever. I mentioned that we also needed to pray for the young man who committed this horrendous act and especially for his family.

It is easy to pray for the victims. It is much harder to pray for the perpetrators.

It is easy to remember the families of the heroes and to think of their pain. It is much harder to think of the family of the gunman and of their pain.

I am thankful, on this Thursday, that I cannot imagine the pain of the shooter's mother. I am thankful for children who remind me to look further, to look deeper, to pray harder. I am thankful that I live in a country where, amidst all of the chaos and confusion, it is still our first instinct to protect, to shelter, to find the good that is always present.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Luxury? Necessity?

I was reading a blog by my brother about how things of necessity have become projects of leisure. I started wondering if there is, in fact, anything in the world that was created strictly for pleasure and did not have it's roots in necessity. I couldn't think of anything so I threw it out to my facebook friends for their input.

Thank goodness my friends are better educated or better thinkers than I am.

From my friend, Francie - the phonograph. I cannot imagine life without music and to think that all of our wonderful portable music players began with the phonograph, in itself an offshoot of the telephone and telegraph. Thank you, Mr. Eidson.

From my friend, Pamela - the cigarette rolling machine. This was certainly a luxury and a timesaver for those folks tired of rolling their own.

From my friend, Denise - chocolate. I love chocolate. I did a little, very little, research and, while chocolate was used in religious and social rituals, it was not really a necessity. Thus, it does qualify as a luxury even though I tend to think of it as a necessity.

So, thanks for the input, friends and I look forward to reading more luxuries in the comment section.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fun Monday - Finishing School

Our hostess for this week is Ari.

Topic for 1/10/11: From the mundane to the emotional, from paneling the basement walls to patching it up with the brother in Virginia you haven't spoken to since you voted for Carter and he didn't, unfinished business is something left undone or incomplete. It even can haunt you. What's your unfinished business?

Where to start? There are unfinished craft projects, unfinished scrapbooks, unfinished needlework projects, unfinished home improvement projects, family relationships that I would like to think are not finished, and the list goes on.

What would I really like to finish? What do I stand an actual chance of finishing? Ah yes, college.

I did not finish college. I got married, had a baby, my husband died and I have worked ever since. I have taken courses related to my job(s) and I have done well. I just have never gone to college.

At this stage in my life, I do not necessarily want or need a degree. I just want to learn! I love school, I love books, I love learning. Now that this is in writing, maybe it's time to get off my keister and actually register for a class or two.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

South is a matter of degree

I am sure when these geese found the aquatic center, they thought they were far enough south. After all, they're in Texas, right?

Next week, when our predicited highs are in the single digits, I wonder where they'll be.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thankful Thursday 1/6/2011

I was reminded that this is the first Thursday of the new year and my first chance to participate in Thankful Thursday, started by my friend Julie from Another Chance Ranch.

Having just climbed out of a lovely, long, hot! bath, I am thankful today for my new hot water heater and for my oh-so-handy husband who installed it.

Thanks, hon! and Happy Birthday next week 'cause I'm pretty sure the hot water heater is your gift! Love you.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Fun Monday - Winter Wonderland

Our hostess this week is Ari and this is what she wrote:

Theme for Jan. 3: I live in a climate with a long, cold winters. Over the years, I've built up a supply of clothing and items to keep warm and dry. I think of them as my arsenal for winter combat. What's in your winter weather arsenal? Or, if you don't have tough winters where you live, tell us about something you own that you wouldn't want to be without.

When my husband moved us to Texas 20 years ago, the only thing I knew about Texas was that it was hot. Right? Well, sort of. The part of Texas where I live, the Panhandle, has snow and wind and ice storms and wind and thunder snow and wind and freezing fog and heat. We are very blessed.

I have coats and mufflers and snow boots and de-icer and all of that stuff. My very favorite? Right this week, when the temperature as I left work yesterday was -1 degree?

The remote start on my pickup truck. Thank you, Chevrolet, and whoever specced my truck. I really think it is nicer than the heated seats, although those are my grandson's favorite.

I know there are more essential things but all I do is work and sleep. I get off work, drive home, go to bed, sleep, get up, get dressed, drive to work and walk inside. I am probably exposed to the elements for a total of 10 minutes.

I am also thankful for fenced yards and dogs that do not need to be walked.

Now, hop on over to Ari's and see who else is playing.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year's!

This recipe is my New Year's gift to you. I first made this a couple of years ago after finding the recipe on The Homesick Texan's blog. I made it again yesterday for today and oh, my gosh, it is good. Due to exigent circumstances (laziness), I used the beef stock I had on hand and left out the bacon grease. It still rocked.

A bonus is that whenever a recipe calls for bacon grease, I think of my mom's molasses cookies. She used a little bacon grease in place of some of the shortening and it gave them a wonderful flavor.

New Year’s Day Good Fortune Soup (adapted from Gourmet)
1/2 pound of collard greens, stems removed and chopped
1/2 pound of cooked ham, diced
2 15 oz. cans of black-eyed peas (can use fresh or frozen as well)
1 small onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large carrot, diced
5 chipotle chiles chopped
1 can of Ro-Tel tomatoes
1 teaspoon of thyme
4 cups of chicken broth
2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
A pinch of sugar
2 tablespoons of bacon grease (can use olive oil or vegetable oil if you prefer)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large pot, cook the onion and carrots in the bacon grease on medium-high heat for 10 minutes or until onions start to turn golden. Add the garlic and cook for three more minutes.
2. Add to the pot the collard greens, vinegar, sugar, ham, chicken stock, chipotles, Ro-Tel tomatoes and thyme, and bring pot to a boil and then simmer for half an hour, stirring occasionally.
3. Take one can of black-eyed peas, and roughly mash with a fork. Add these and the other can of black-eyed peas to the pot.
4. Continue to simmer soup for another 45 minutes.
Serves 6-8
Note: If you don’t want to use pork, that’s fine, but don’t replace the pork with chicken if you’re going to eat this on New Year’s Day. Why? Well, they say eating chickens is a no-no since the birds scratch backwards. I know, I know, I’m not really superstitious, but might as well not take any chances!

Shorty says that this is the only black-eyed pea recipe that I have ever made that didn't taste like dirt. Happy New Year's everyone and may God continue to bless us everyone.
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