Monday, January 29, 2007

The World is Not With Me

Sometimes it’s good to take a break from worldly matters that could be blogged about and escape to another place free from thoughts and concerns of war injuries and deaths, child abductions, political aspirations, silly and trivial entertainment and other matters too numerous to mention. In fact, I believe it was Dr. Andrew Weil who said taking a hiatus from watching television was good for your health.

If you don’t hear from me for a few days, it’s not because I’m sick. I’m focused on so many projects that I am simply overwhelmed. See you soon with details of what I’ve been up to. Wax on. Wax off.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Helicopter Parent Learns a Lesson

From November, 2006

Parenting Advice From Stan the Handyman

I just got the best parenting advice I’ve had in a long time, and it was from an unlikely source. Stan has been doing some repair work around our house out of the goodness of his heart since we had trouble finding a reliable person. Anyway, Stan and I were talking about our children before he got started the other day. He told me about his son going away to college and not studying. He said he finally went up to the school and collected the son and told him, “I’m not paying for you to do this.” The son came home and got a manual labor job. When the son’s car ran low on oil and the son didn’t add more, the engine was damaged and had to be replaced. Stan told the son he couldn’t borrow his car, but that if the son bought the parts to do the repairs, Stan would do the labor. Stan said, “I just took my time. I wasn’t in no hurry.”

I told Stan that I was frustrated over an issue with my high school senior not getting himself awake in the mornings and that I had been yelling at him after his alarm clock went off. That’s why I was so fascinated by the Sonic Boom Alarm Clock and bed shaker when I came across it last week. I swear no one is paying me for this, but I think this is the answer. Regular readers will know I am worried about Rip Van Winkle (RVW) son when he goes to college next year.

I blew up again this morning and said some words that ladies shouldn’t say. I told RVW, “I have had it. You are on your own. If you are late, so be it.” When he came downstairs, we had a little conversation. “I’m sorry, Mom,” he said, “you are right.” We talked about how he would truly be on his own and that by me waking him up every morning, he was not learning to be self-sufficient. Then he asked, “How about getting me one those alarm clocks you were telling me about last week for Christmas?”

Well, faint and fall out. We both learned something. Santa, there’s a revision in the Wish List: one Sonic Boom Alarm Clock and Bed Vibrator for RVW. He’s been good.

p.s. In case you are wondering, Stan's son returned to college and will complete his degree in the spring.

January 25, 2007 Update: I haven’t blown up again. We are making progress, but we haven’t reached perfection. A second alarm clock is now involved. More later.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Let the Wild Rumpus Start

With at least 18 people interested in running for president, I feel much like Max in Where the Wild Things Are when he says, "And now," cried Max, "let the wild rumpus start!"

I suppose this is good. Confusing, but good.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Don’t Bother

If you listen to the media anchors, hosts, pundits and know-it-alls, we might as well just forget our election process. It’s down to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and maybe John Edwards if he can do okay in Iowa. You others don’t bother. Wes and Bill don’t waste the time or money.

I’m so mad I could spit. I’m so mad I may just quit watching television except for 24, Friday Night Lights, the Office, Ugly Betty, Prison Break, Heroes, American Idol. Oh what the heck, I’m not going to quit watching TV. But I’m mad.

This morning I heard NBC’s Tim Russett say something like it’s all going to be over after Iowa and three other states. This is what was so disturbing after the last election to me. Here in Alabama our primary was in June and we were just an after thought. I wish we could have a national primary day where we all voted much like we do for the general election. The candidates then would be on a more even footing.

My desperate hope for the Democratic Party is that we will put forth a candidate who can win this time. A candidate who can bridge the gap between party loyalists and independents, not a candidate who burns bridges. A candidate with a vision that unifies Americans, not a candidate who divides us and forces factions to dig in their heals. A candidate who shoots straight, not one who sways with the slightest breeze or fluctuation in focus-group opinion.

Please, Democratic Party. Listen. I am not alone in my feelings. Let's keep our options and minds open. Let the people speak. Not the money.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Red Velvet Cake

It took me a while to warm up to Publix grocery stores. The reason is so strange I hardly want to admit it, but here goes. When a new store opened in our area a year or so ago, as I walked along I kept getting one of those little shocks every time I touched something metal. In the winter, I’m quite a sight as I try to open store doors without incurring the shocks. I have been known to wait until another braver soul comes along and to quickly scoot in afterwards. Well, I’ve conquered the shock factor, and I haven’t experienced this phenomenon since for whatever reason.

And, I love shopping at Publix for the good products and customer service found there. As a designer, I note things like packaging, and Publix products have garnered design attention from the likes of Communication Arts Magazine.

What does all of this have to do with Red Velvet Cake dear gentle readers? Well, yesterday I noticed that Publix now has a Red Velvet Cake flavor of its premium ice cream. I long to try it especially after hearing it’s good according to a fellow blogger who felt so strongly about it that he wrote a letter to Publix. But, I’m trying to avoid sugar and instead opted for the Blue Bell No Sugar ice cream which is tasty enough to please my teenage son.

In the South, Red Velvet Cake is a traditional dessert well worth the calories and the red food coloring. Over Christmas I made one to celebrate my daughter-in-law Natalie’s birthday. Now, I do not usually make cakes from scratch, choosing instead to buy the Duncan Hines (they make a Red Velvet version too). But I thought Martha Stewart’s recipe sounded good, and I gave it a shot. I even took a photograph just to prove I could make a homemade cake.

With Valentine’s Day coming up, I think the Red Velvet Cake ice cream would be a great treat to end a Valentine’s meal if it’s as good as I think it is and if you are not up to baking a cake.

Note: This little Valentine to Publix is entirely without compensation although I would accept a coupon for some of the Red Velvet ice cream.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

American Idol: It’s Baaaack!

Was Lisa de Moraes from the Washington Post watching the same American Idol (AI) as I was last night? She writes in Idol’s Trying Times, “. . . Abdul appears to be all sober and normal and obeying the Geneva Conventions.”

de Moraes is referring, of course, to AI judge Paula Abdul who has captured recent media attention again for some rather strange behavior on interviews promoting the new season of America’s favorite guilty pleasure.

I hate to admit it, but I like this show, at least the shows after the first two or three episodes where Fox proceeds to give nutty wannabes a chance at making fools of themselves on national television. I’m not talking about the sincerely honest performers who seem to have some talent. I’m referring to those contestants who for whatever reason, appear to have thrown together an “act” in hopes of making it big.

Yes, the American Dream is a powerful concept. But people, it is founded on either having or learning some talent or skill and then capturing attention and accolades. It just doesn’t mean you throw yourself and whatever dignity you ought to have out there and hope it sticks. Are you that desperate? Spend the time and money you spent auditioning on education for goodness sakes.

Back to Abdul. About a year and half ago, USA Today had a story on her where she said she was suffering from a medical condition condition called complex regional pain syndrome. If she’s on some kind of medication for this problem, I hope it works. But, despite de Moraes opinion, I don’t think she looked normal last night. Not unless loopy is normal.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Melon Ballers & Cherry Pitters

Is your kitchen cluttered with gadgets and gizmos that seem to be overtaking every available inch? I have drawer upon drawer stuffed with hardly ever-used stuff. When my son Jeff visited at Christmas time and needed a melon baller to scoop out the middle of some pears, he asked, “Mom, do you have a melon baller?” Of course, if I did, I wouldn’t have known where it was. Instead, he used my set of stainless steel measuring spoons which worked just fine in my humble opinion. So, you see when forced to improvise, we find we really don’t need all those gadgets and gizmos after all. I would, however, like to keep my cherry pitter.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement

Living in Montgomery has been at times a strange experience. You know from my introduction that I lived away from the area for many years. When I returned, it was refreshing to see the city embracing its history now rather than slinking away from it like a dog with its tail between its legs who knows it’s angered the master.

I was downtown this week and stopped by the Civil Rights Memorial. Designer Maya Lin, who also designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at age 21, says of her work, “This is not a monument to suffering; it is a memorial to hope.” The black granite wall with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous quote is flanked by a circular slab of granite carrying the names of both martyrs and those who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and who crossed paths with those determined to end the Civil Rights Movement.

Some of the names are very familiar like Emmett Louis Till, a Chicago teen murdered in Mississippi, and the four little girls killed in Birmingham when a bomb exploded at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Others like Willie Edwards Jr. of Montgomery, forced by four Klansmen to jump off a bridge and into the Alabama River, are random victims and lesser known perhaps. The Rev. James Reeb, a Unitarian minister from Boston, lost his life on a Selma street after marchers were turned away from the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Sadly, random, but no less deserving of remembrance.

On the eve of a day devoted to remembering Dr. King and those he led and inspired, I am reminded that those who love justice cannot rest easy. We must continue the movement for we are not yet there on our journey to Equality.

photo ©2007 by Sheila Noblitt

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Standing the Test of Time

I’m throwing out about 200-300 VHS tapes. It’s funny how technology changes, and today’s entertainment necessity is tomorrow’s trash. Bill had recorded hundreds of movies from HBO and cable over the years. I did find a couple of tapes that I held back as the labels indicated they contained a movie I hadn’t seen in a while. There was Kramer vs. Kramer and now that Meryl Streep is hot again maybe it would be interesting to see one of her early movies. And Ordinary People is another one I haven’t seen in a long time. Both of these movies are hard to watch, but I remember liking them for their intense relationships. While they are not movies I’d care to buy a DVD of, I will see if they hold the test of time as we approach the season of the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Skip the Breakfast Fast Food

This morning I noticed a link to Self Magazine's Jump Start Diet. The magazine has tips on how you can begin to lose weight. I found most of them pretty good, but the one about eggs was especially interesting to me in light of the Christmas present I received from Scottie. Eggs have been in, out and now in again apparently. Just don't eat too many of them. I found eating an egg with a piece of Canadian bacon filled me up when I started the South Beach Diet (SBD) a few months ago. With my new Back to Basics Egg & Muffin Toaster, I can put in a piece of whole-grain bread (which is allowed after the initial SBD period), spray the egg cooker thingy with Pam, crack the egg, slap the precooked Canadian bacon on the steamer tray and in about three minutes, I have a hot breakfast.

I swear this isn't an ad for anything. Scottie works at Kohl's and this is where he found my present which I love, Scottie.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

People Will Talk

When I used to hear people talking to themselves, I thought maybe the person had some mental condition like schizophrenia. But these days you really have to be careful and look for the telltale signs of a wireless cell-talker. They are, you know, those people who wander around speaking to what appears to be to themselves. They have, at times, caught me thinking they were speaking to me, and I’d say, “Hello,” only to get a strange look. So, I’ve learned to look ear-ward for the gizmo, often so tiny it could be a rather large hearing aid.

How nice it used to be when we could actually get out of the office. Now, business folks bring it along wherever they go. I suppose they are happy to always be in touch. Not me. I’d rather be free from the electronic beck and call we call progress.

Monday, January 08, 2007

A Journey Northward

This year will bring some changes for my family and yours too, I'm sure. Change is the third consistency, if that's possible, along with death and taxes. Is that an oxymoron? While it's hard to want to embrace some changes, others I approach as an adventure. I'm about to undertake a rather interesting adventure, and in the coming months you'll learn more about it and travel along with me if you care to. I'd love to have advice too. So, E-mail me and make a comment if you are so inclined.

Okay, should I let the cat out of the bag or try to string you along a bit more? Oh, heck, I strive for honesty. I'm going to have to think up another name because the Alabama Kitchen Sink will be relocating later on this year. Moving is a big adventure. Moving to a part of the country you are unfamiliar with is an even greater adventure. I'm a go-with-the-flow sort of person and I have to tell you, dear gentle readers, that I look forward to learning more about Pennsylvania and Pennsylvanians.

I'll write more later,but today I'll write about my first impressions. You know the old saying, first impressions matter. It's a beautiful state! The drive up here was a remarkable feast for the eyes with mountains all along the way. Not your Rocky Mountains mountains, but the lovely older beauties. And, so far, the people are wonderfully friendly.

For example, I'll tell you about our encounter with Denny outside a gas/convenience store chain called Sheetz (Bill and I wondered about that name). Our wiper blades were shot, leaving the most annoying and dangerous smear every time they swung across the windshield. We stopped at Wal-Mart, purchased new blades and searched for a gas station with cover since it was pouring. There, outside the Sheetz station, Bill proceeded to replace the blades which were not cooperating. In comes Denny, short-sleeved and in flip-flops no less. "Having trouble?" he asked. He said, "They should just snap on." Well, they weren't, but after consulting the instructions, Denny figured it out and we were on our way after thanking him. So, Denny in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, I want to publicly thank you again. You were a dear and kind soul to take the time to help two Southerners on a cold and wet evening.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

John Edwards: A Democrat Worthy of the Presidency

"John Edwards is running for president because he wants to build an America that lives up to its promise -- one where we all share in prosperity at home and one that shows real moral leadership around the world.

The next president faces tremendous challenges -- from poverty and lack of health care, to energy and global warming, to fixing the mess in Iraq.

We cannot wait until the next president is elected to begin to address these challenges. If we want to live in a moral and just America tomorrow, we must act today.

We're going to reach out to millions of people to let them know it's still okay to dream big dreams, and do everything we can to make them real -- because that's what America is all about. If you're ready to change our country, please join us."

Regular readers know I’m a strong Democrat, and while I know it’s a little early to be thinking ahead to the next presidential election, I am ready to get started. My guy, John Edwards, made it official recently. What he says he’s about really hasn’t changed from the day his message captured my attention during the last presidential election when Edwards was saddled with poor old John Kerry as a campaign partner.

You see, I’m one of those Democrats who happens to think our party has gotten side-tracked, and I think John Edwards is just the person to help steer America in the right direction again. America has always, in my heart, been full of promise, but as John says, America has a ways to go to live up to that promise. I’ll be writing more, but if we want to see change happen we can’t sit idly by and hope someone else will do it.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Consequences of War

Perhaps you’ve already read it. When Bill said, “You should read this,“ I knew I wasn’t ready yet. You see, I knew the ending and is there any point in reading a story if you know how it is going to end? Well, in this case, yes.

The story is one that has been E-mailed and blogged about. What I have to say can’t match the eloquent words of the man the story is about. You see, From Father to Son, Last Words to Live By, is a story about a 200-page journal left by First Sgt. Charles Monroe King to his young son, Jordan. Jordan’s mom, Dana Canedy wrote about this gift on January 1, in the New York Times. On a day devoted to new beginnings, it was fitting to be reminded of the tremendous sacrifices of our servicemen and women whose lives have been cut short.

Canedy writes,
“He had tucked a message to me in the front of Jordan’s journal. This is the letter every soldier should write, he said. For us, life will move on through Jordan. He will be an extension of us and hopefully everything that we stand for. ... I would like to see him grow up to be a man, but only God knows what the future holds.”

First Sgt. King was a brave and honorable man dedicated to serving America in whatever way he was asked. I hate that our government is asking our soldiers to fight this war in Iraq. Every story such as First Sgt. King’s reminds me that when one soldier dies, a part of a child, wife, girlfriend, mother, father also dies. Jordan will have this journal, but he won’t have his loving father’s hands to guide him on that rocky path to adulthood.

First Sgt. King wrote about himself--what he liked to eat and his favorite football team, but he shared advice like “Never be ashamed to cry. No man is too good to get on his knee and humble himself to God. Follow your heart and look for the strength of a woman.”


“The 18th was a long, solemn night, he wrote in Jordan’s journal. We had a memorial for two soldiers who were killed by an improvised explosive device. None of my soldiers went to the memorial. Their excuse was that they didn’t want to go because it was depressing. I told them it was selfish of them not to pay their respects to two men who were selfless in giving their lives for their country.

Things may not always be easy or pleasant for you, that’s life, but always pay your respects for the way people lived and what they stood for. It’s the honorable thing to do.”

We all want to think our time here on earth amounts to something significant. Maybe we won’t find a cure for a disease or score a touchdown in the Super Bowl or write the great American novel. But as First Sgt. King wrote, “life will move on” through our children. This is really our greatest accomplishment.