Friday Food. Nostalgia.

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How many times do you smell something cooking or take that first bite of something and you’re transported back in time to a special occasion or your childhood, Grandma’s house or getting a quick bite before a doctor’s appointment?

Whenever we have baked sweet potatoes, pools of melted butter mixing in with the soft, sweet flesh I always think back to when I was sick. I was sitting up in my parents’ bed and on my lap was a plate with a hot sweet potato, butter melting as I mashed it in the skin with a fork. It is the best tasting thing in the world, and it makes me feel calm and better.

Speaking of food when you’re sick, chicken noodle soup is known by some as Jewish penicillin and the ingredients blend together to make the common cold disappear or at least wave away the symptoms so sleep will come.

Chicken Noodle Soup.
(c)2021

Other of my comfort food favorites include:

The perfect grilled cheese. Two to three slices of cheese depending on their thickness. Instead of buttering the bread, I put the butter in the pan as if I was doing French toast. Before flipping, I add more butter. I cover the sandwich with a pan lid until the cheese is perfectly melty. I have also used ghee instead of butter, and this is an excellent substitute.

Perfect Grilled Cheese.
(c)2021

Matzo ball soup. I use a box mix, which says to simmer for twenty minutes. I let it simmer for an hour, at least, sometimes longer. After the first half an hour, I’ll add baby carrots (fresh or frozen), some chives, and leave it until dinner time. Delicious.

Matzo Ball Soup.
(c)2021

Macaroni and Cheese. Kraft. The blue box. (The 7oz. one.) I use butter and not margarine and add milk for creaminess. I could eat this all day, every day, and I am the only one in my house who makes it right. (That’s not me saying it; that’s the rest of them.)

Macaroni and Cheese.
(c)2021

Fruit and Sour Cream. I don’t know when in childhood I started eating this, but it is delicious, and healthy, and comfort food at its best. I cut fresh fruit into pieces and put in a bowl, add sour cream, and that’s it! No sugar, no granola, no nothing; just fruit and sour cream. My favorite fruits to use are: bananas, strawberries, blueberries, peaches. It can be all or some, but the bananas are a must. (I have no idea why!)

Fresh Fruit with Sour Cream.
(c)2021

Prompt – Childhood or Neighborhood Drug Store

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What was really great about this prompt when it was suggested in my reading group was how quickly everyone had something to say as a brainstorm. We weren’t sure this was enough of a topic, but after five minutes of all of us unintentionally spitballing, it was clear that we had a winner.

I believe my initial first draft was over one thousand words and when I go back to edit it for public sharing, there will be more memories that I will want to include and it will continue to grow orgnaically.

I’d love to see what you come up with.

A Tribute to Yvonne Craig (1937-2015)

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It’s taken me all day to be able to sit down and try to put my thoughts to paper, as it were. Growing up I think I was pretty typical in that I wanted to be EVERYTHING: doctor, lawyer, Indian chief as the saying went back then; nurse, cowboy, librarian, space explorer, writer, journalist, astronaut, superhero.

The 1970s were a time of change and women were moving into the forefront of jobs and careers, taking on more mainstream male oriented jobs, getting involved in politics and becoming more seen and heard. In Queens, where I grew up, we had Liz Holtzman and Bella Abzug and Geraldine Ferrarro.

Being born in 1966, as with Star Trek, I wasn’t able to watch the original airings of Batman, but I lived through their reruns.
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I loved Batman and Robin but I especially loved Batgirl. Quiet, mild-mannered librarian, pull a lever or push a button, her vanity rotates and she’s Batgirl, fighting crime alongside the guys. In fact, sometimes, a lot of the time saving their bacon in the nick of time.

Last week for gishwhes, I cosplayed as Batgirl. She was the only one who could get me into a costume in public. I’m so glad I was able to do that before she passed away.

Yvonne Craig was gorgeous, and she was not only a pretty face. She rode the motorcycle on and off screen and did her own stunts. I would hazard to say she didn’t get paid extra for that either.
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She began in ballet, and shared the screen in two films with Elvis Presley. After television and movies, she had other very successful careers, one as a real estate broker and another in the prepaid phone card business among other ventures. She spent time attending conventions and wrote a memoir, From Ballet to the Batcave and Beyond. Most recently before her illness, she was the voice of Olivia’s grandmother on the animated children’s series of the same name.

She was a hero of mine. Her hair was dark and short like mine. She played with the boys like I did. She was kind and smart and thoughtful and she was the perfect role model to look up to.

I am so sad to see her passing.

I’d like to share some links and videos that I remember from my childhood. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Rest in peace, Yvonne.
You will truly be missed and remembered.

Her PSA for Equal Pay, 1974

The Secret Origins of Batgirl

Yvonne Craig’s Official Website
Her family’s statement
Her official obituary

CNN’s Story about Yvonne’s Passing

Heavy Metal’s Picture Tribute

Final Appearance as Batgirl

[All pictures are not mine. I will add copyright info to my new Photo Credits Page when time permits]

Tasty Tuesday. Peanuts

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My Dad used to eat peanuts all the time. He’d get this big bag of peanuts still in their shells. He’d crack them open and go through that bag in one or two days. He’d toss the shells in a paper garbage bag next to his chair, but on occasion he’d miss. Some days before he cleaned it up it looked like the floor of a country bar or a Ground Round in the “old” days of my childhood. I still flashback to my Dad sitting in his blue recliner in our den when I see those big bags of peanuts in the shells.

I used to love Nutter Butter cookies because of him also. And Vienna Fingers. It’s amazing what pops into your head from childhood, especially where food is related.

What is Bullying?

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What is bullying?

According to the Webster’s Online Dictionary, bullying is “the act of intimidating a weaker person to make them do something.” It is also defined as “tending to browbeat others,” and its synonyms include intimidation (noun), domineering, and blustery (adjectives).

In modern vernacular it happens much more than in the schoolyard for some kid’s lunch money or baseball cards. For starters, and not entirely relevant, do people still collect baseball cards?

In addition to school bullying by peers, we have adults and teachers who don’t know the appropriate responses to bullying. Often we blame the person being bullied, trying to get them to change how they do things to avoid the bully and/or the bullying behavior.

We also have the internet which is both the best thing for modern technology and information dissemination, but it is also the best place that feeds the trolls and encourages some aspects of bullying because of its anonymous nature.

Using a made up name with no affiliation to a legal name or location seems to free people’s subconscious to the point that they think their abuse of others is normal and/or okay.

We all know that many bullies have their own problems, whether it is mental illness, chronic abuse by others, or any other reason that they feel validates their abuse and bullying of others.

When I was in middle school, I was told by a girl, same age, same class, her name was Donna and she told me that I couldn’t go on the field trip strawberry picking. I really, really wanted to go strawberry picking. I grew up in the city and the suburbs, which was more city-like than rural, and I had never gone strawberry picking. We barely had a backyard. I really wanted to go.

I think she said they would beat me up.

I went home and cried. I cried a lot.

I also think this is the reason I’ve always wanted a big brother, someone to beat this girl up so I could go on my field trip. This just illustrates the mentality of dealing with a bully; more violence. We know now that this is not the way.

Thinking back on it, she also had two friends with her: it was like Crabbe and Goyle with Malfoy from Harry Potter. She looked like Meg 1.0 from Supernatural, probably one of the reasons I prefer Meg 2.0 to the blond version. The first one always made me uncomfortable and it wasn’t until I started writing this that I realized why.

Anyway, I knew I couldn’t go on the trip. That was obvious; no argument there. I was upset and I’d cry, but no way could I go on the trip.

I also knew I couldn’t make a fuss.

I said I was sick. Very technically, I was sick; sick to my stomach about so many things that I couldn’t understand at eleven or twelve years old. All I knew is that it sucked, and I wasn’t precisely lying; I was truly sick.

I stayed home, and I never forgot it.

Thirty years later, I went to my son’s middle school back to school night. I came home having a panic attack and after spending about two hours talking and crying on the phone, the panic was barely soothed. I was upset for days after, on the verge of other panic attacks.

Bullying never goes away, and so when a fellow Tumblr user began bullying me last week, I became that twelve-year old again.

I tried to talk to the person, to express that I didn’t want to be harassed.

They bullied further.

I shouldn’t admit it for the satisfaction they might get (or others), but I’m in my forties and if it could happen to me, it could happen to the teenagers here who might be less equipped to handle the pressure. I cried. Every time I turned on Tumblr, my tears welled up. It was in the back of my mind at every moment. I stayed after mass and prayed on it.

Tumblr is not supposed to be stressful like this. Tumblr is not supposed to be upsetting. Nothing we do for fun is supposed to be stressful and upsetting.

I’ve taken legal steps to stop this bully from harassing me, but it’s not simple on a public site.

It also shouldn’t be my responsibility to stop this person. They shouldn’t be encouraged by others.

You can’t stop someone from hurting you by hurting someone else.

Sure, I could leave. But why should *I* have to leave? I like it here, and I’ve done nothing wrong. Tumblr is a place of diverse ideas, diverse opinions and people say stuff all of the time that I don’t agree with and don’t like. I don’t jump down all (or even some) of their throats, bully, threaten and harass them because I don’t like what they’re posting.

That is what’s called being an adult.

But it’s more than that.

It’s called respecting that not everyone will agree with you. Not everyone will share the same experience with you. Not everyone will want to follow your tactic. And you feeling that you’re right does not give you the right to bash someone who also thinks that they are right.

I don’t care what their problem is. I don’t care if it’s mental, physical, they’re a victim of abuse, what their political affiliation is, what their gender or orientation is, married with kids or single. I honestly don’t give a fuck.

My empathic nature does have its limits. I try to live my life through Christ, but human nature is at once beautiful and compassionate and it is also selfish and egocentric. Once you crossed the line to threaten me (and this person did), you lost my empathy. I have no need to have direct contact with anyone unless they come to me first; unless they talk about me with the name calling and verbal abuse.

When my first son was born, I remembered the strawberry picking field trip. It is never far from my mind when harassment begins, but when my first son was born, I swore that no one would bully him. I would not leave him to fend for himself.

And a few years ago, I swore again. I promised myself that *I* would not be bullied ever again.

I would not live in fear of some ignorant, arrogant, holier than thou, knows better than me about me person, whether in physical person or online.

So this is me standing up.

I know I’m not the only one this person is harassing. I know I’m not the only one that this person has attacked.

And I won’t be silenced.

Death’s Door

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I’m not a huge fan of death; never have been. Whenever I think of death, I think of my uncle Nathan. His was an open casket, and the only memories I have of him were of cigar smoke and that moment of seeing him in the coffin. I cringed at every funeral after that as a child and well into my adulthood.

I would say that while this is a memory from me as a young child, the two that stand out more abruptly are of both of my grandfathers. They both died when I was five or near about. My first grandfather, my dad’s father was from Canada, and I remember his family there more than I remember him.

The most enduring memory I have is standing in the hospital parking lot looking up to the roof where my grandfather stood. He was wearing a grey bathrobe and I think my grandmother stood next to him. He waved to me and possibly my brother, and we waved back. Well, I waved back because my brother would only have been one or so. I think my father stood with us in the parking lot.

This was 1970 or 1971 and children weren’t allowed in the hospital. It’s kind of like that now, but when my dad was in the hospital, we used to sneak my son in to see him and the nurses would ignore him just so long as he could get past the security guard.

We never would have thought to sneak in back then.

I remember this grandfather from photographs that blend into memory. There is me in a stroller wearing bunny ears, holding a Kodak film box, the recognizable yellow box of the Eastman Company. We are on a street in the Bronx outside of an apartment building. I don’t think this is their apartment building, but nearby there is an asphalt park surrounded by a chain link fence where the older boys played basketball and the girls jumped double-dutch. It was a noisy street with cars driving by, their engines noisy and their horns loud, interspersed with the bouncing of the basketball off the backboard and the handball off of the wall that divided the spaces.

My other grandfather, my Mother’s father died either later that year or early the next year. It was within months of each other. In fact, my grandfathers died within a year and my grandmothers did the same although they waited for many years after that. My parents also died within eighteen months of each other.

The only memory I have of this grandfather was his balding head, sitting with his back to the doorway at the kitchen table eating his dinner when he’d come home late from work. I’m not sure what we would have been doing there so late, but it is the one picture of him in my mind that is consistent.

My mother says that it isn’t true, but I have vivid memories of his death. He had a heart attack in the house, and I remember him lying on the carpet and the paramedics coming in with the stretcher from the ambulance. I would swear that I was there, and my mother would swear I was not, so I don’t know if this is an actual memory that she’s always tried to protect me from or if it is one of those planted memories from other people’s overheard conversations.

He did have a heart attack and died in the house and there are other details that it would seem strange for others to talk about around me, but I don’t know.

These are the three that still stand out to me as an adult, and form my ever fearful phobia of death and dying, although I have mellowed out in the abstract of faith and adulthood. I still occasionally have a recurrence of a childhood dream that I’ve often had of nothingness. If you can’t imagine it, it can’t be explained, but it is the abyss of nothing and it is palpable. It is the dark staring back at you and as much as I try to be calm and rational, the noiseless void can be too much to bear. All I can do is wait for it to pass, and it usually does.