Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Tuesday-Panties Mind-Set

            When my daughter was a preteen, one of her favorite movies was Big Business, a feel-good comedy with a plot that revolves around mistaken identities. In one of the scenes, small-town resident Rose walks through the office of a big, New York company where the employees mistake her for a major shareholder. All the workers greet her profusely, inquiring as to her health and asking about her family. To the suspicious Rose, they seem way too interested in and know way too much about her. She responds to their friendly overtures with “I’m fine...fine. Wearing my Tuesday panties, too...but I guess you already know that.”
(No, these aren't mine. I'd feel
a little weird posting a picture
of my own underwear.)
            You’re probably wondering where all this is going, so I’ll get to the point. Whenever I go to my favorite grocery store--Crest Foods in Edmond--that movie scene comes to my mind. Crest Foods is a “Tuesday-panties” kind of place. No, I don’t suspect ulterior motives or think they have inside information on my underwear. But every time I go there, they make me feel important. From the shopping cart handler to the sacker, no fewer than five people greet me with a smile and a good word--like they're really glad I came.
            Grocery shopping is not a chore I enjoy. But the employees at Crest make the task much more pleasant. In fact, they make it worth my while to drive two extra miles to shop there.
            Maybe their enthusiasm is just a result of excellent training, but I don’t care. It works. Even if they’re not really all that excited to see me, they at least make me think they are. And that’s what matters, right?
            My experience with Crest convinced me to start incorporating a little more Tuesday-panties attitude in my life. Nothing major, just making more of an effort to notice people I casually interact with--asking a sales clerk how her day is going, telling a waitress I appreciate her attentiveness, complimenting a receptionist on her smile.
            As the holiday season hits full tilt in the coming weeks and people become busier and more stressed, maybe a Tuesday-panties mind-set would be a good thing for all of us to foster. And you don't have to limit it to Tuesdays!
            I would really, really like to know some of your favorite Tuesday-panties places (or people). Please share them either in the comments below or on Facebook.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

"Ears" to Making New Friends

            A confession: Having lived my entire life in the Bible Belt, I’ve always harbored a slight wariness of those living outside it. This skepticism arises not so much from differing religious practices or views as it does from cultural discrepancies in general. But since much of my extended family now lives in the Northwest, I lately find myself having to step out of my comfort zone and, if not exactly embracing, at least accepting some of their rather strange customs. Customs such as considering plaid flannel appropriate for formal occasions or refusing to recognize y’all as a perfectly good word.
As evidenced by this picture, my fondness
for corn on the cob, began at an early age.
            Last week my niece Amy sent me a link to Miss Writerly Crankypants. It reminded me if people truly search with open minds and hearts, they can find a common bond or two with fellow humans regardless of differing theologies or politics or style preferences. Although Miss CP lives in the Northwest, I feel as though I have found a new BFF, as she and I share a deep and abiding love of ...corn on the cob. Reading her post made me want to reach across the proverbial aisle and give her a big ol’ Bible Belt hug. After all, war-time alliances have been formed between countries with less in common.
            With her permission, I’m providing this link. If you click on it, you can save yourself potential credit card woes, and you’ll definitely have a LOL read.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Late-Sung Heroes of WWII

            In 2009, I visited the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. An unenthusiastic visitor at first, I quickly became captivated by the history which surrounded me. I think I learned more about WWII in that place than in all my history classes combined. I know I gained a greater appreciation for the men who served in it.
            While wandering through the museum, I happened upon the U.S. Merchant Marines exhibit. It intrigued me because Joseph Fink, my dad, served as a Merchant Marine during the war. To be honest, I’d never given much thought to that period in my dad’s life. Yes, in our house there was a picture of him looking proud and handsome in his uniform. And I’d heard bits and pieces about his travels and had often perused his scrapbook collection of postcards gathered from all over the world. But like many veterans, he spoke very little about wartime experiences, so I never gave them much consideration...until that day in the museum, when I grew so proud.
            All the information I learned about Merchant Marines is too extensive to include in this post, but if this time in history and this area of the service interests you, you can read more at American Merchant Marine at War. Below are a few fascinating facts from this site and from the museum site:
·        In WWII, it took from 7 to 15 tons of supplies to support ONE American soldier for one year.

·        The Merchant Marines carried a staggering amount of supplies all over the world, transporting from 1941 to 1944 over 270 million tons of cargo.

·         One out of every twenty-six American mariners died while in service, the highest percentage of deaths suffered by any service branch during WWII.

·         On May 22, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt proclaimed, “The American people have reason to be proud of the heroism and patriotism of the officers and seamen of their Victory fleet. During these dangerous days and nights on the sea lanes of the world, with danger lurking above, below, and on the surface, they do not falter in the performance of their duty. Hundreds of them render service far beyond the call of duty. It is gratifying that the Congress has recognized such heroism and authorized the bestowal of proper awards to these men of the sea, who are just as vital to our ultimate victory as the men in the armed forces.”

·         General McArthur stated, “I hold no branch in higher esteem than the Merchant Marine Services.”

·        Many argue that without merchant seamen’s valuable contribution, an Allied victory wouldn’t have happened. Sadly, however, Merchant Marines could not receive any benefits for their service until President Ronald Reagan signed a bill granting them veteran status in 1988.
            In 1989, my dad received a form letter and a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty and an Honorable Discharge Certificate. That same letter informed him, “The enclosed documents establish your status as a veteran.” At that time, he was 68 years old—too old to take advantage of the GI Bill or a VA mortgage. He could have received VA medical benefits, but at that point he was on Medicare and a supplemental health plan and saw no reason to change.
            Daddy wasn’t a man to harbor regrets orresentments about the past, and I’m not writing this post to complain. But I am asking you to remember this often forgotten branch of service in your observance of this day. Their recognition as veterans in 1988 was long overdue. Joseph Fink and all Merchant Marines who served in WWII were veterans of that war from the day it ended, whether  two government documents “establish” it or not.  

My heart-felt gratitude goes out to all veterans this Veterans Day!



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Circle of Friends: The Light Between Oceans

            Last week I had a lot to blab blog about so I limited my information about book club to  theme and decorations. This week I’m going to follow my own advice about partying, only I’m applying it to blogging. This is my “portmanteau” post, built on the one that precedes it.
            The book choice for this month’s Circle of Friends meeting was The Light BetweenOceans, M. L. Stedman’s debut novel. It might be understatement to say I loved this book, and the Friends were unanimous in their admiration of it.  

            I know just enough about Greek tragedy to recognize certain elements of it in modern literature. In tragedy, a decision is made in a moment of human weakness—a decision which will have wide-spread, far-reaching, and devastating consequences. Early in this story, protagonist Tom Sherbourne makes such a decision, and at that point, I almost stopped reading, sure that the ending would be depressing. But, with a sense of dread, I persevered. Passages of lyrical beauty made the expected dismal ending worth the read. Among those passages are ones where Stedman so knowingly describes a young couple’s intimacy and connection with their baby; passages which depict the natural majesty of Janus Rock; passages which contain eternal truths such as “You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day.” And the sentiments are delivered through exquisite writing: “The rain is falling more heavily, and in the distance, thunder grumbles at being left behind by the lightning.” 

            (A small spoiler alert, here.) To my great relief, the ending didn’t follow the traditional pattern of a tragedy. Not a doom-and-gloom ending, but a satisfying and hopeful one. And that’s my favorite kind.

            It’s a time-worn—but nevertheless true—adage: A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Had I let my knowledge of tragedy discourage me from finishing this story, I would have missed out on a sparkling gem of a book.   

            Now in an abrupt change of gears, let’s get to food. The Friends outdid themselves this time. One dish that got RAVE reviews was Paula’s Reuben dip. If you have a tailgate or football viewing party—or any kind of party—in your future, this is the perfect dish!

Reuben's Hot Pot

12 oz. cream cheese

1/2 cup milk

2 cups shredded Swiss cheese (1/2 #)

1 cup sour cream

15 oz. pkg. sliced corned beef (or 1# from deli)

1 cup sauerkraut, drained

Soften cream cheese briefly in microwave. Slowly stir in milk, mixing until well blended. Tear corned beef into small pieces. Combine all ingredients in a 2 quart casserole and bake 1 hour at 350.

Serve in a casserole or chafing dish with party rye/rye bagel chips, or Fritos, or celery sticks. OR carve out a round rye bread to put dip into and use the rye bread cubes/pieces for dipping (not too small of course).