Ennui To Lunacy

A cute, little lizard-let’s call him “Gizzy”-was sitting on my outdoor rocker.

lizard

I said to him, “I have been gone only a short while and you took it upon yourself to become an imposition.”

“Get off my rocker!”  

Gizzy was quick to respond, “You’ve been off your rocker for many years!”

I then relinquished the rocker to this astute, little fella and quietly slipped inside without an argument—leaving a ‘loose screw’ behind.

Living The Dream

I was sitting with a young lady and an older gentleman in a restaurant. These two were my dining companions.  Looking around, the room was filled to near capacity by patrons and diners. Every table was booked and filled with hungry patrons.  At the bar, with all the stools occupied, a few of the thirsty patrons stood at the bar.

The gentleman, with whom I was dining with, was seemingly trying to “woo” the younger woman, but the young woman was politely distancing herself from him. I could sense her unease by his flirtatious ways.  I was very quiet that night. I didn’t converse with either one of them.

This restaurant was in an old house with many rooms.  I felt like I had dined there before.  I just couldn’t remember where or when.

Sitting in front of an empty plate, I didn’t get a feeling of satisfaction after eating the meal.  I couldn’t tell you if I liked it or not or what it tasted like.  In fact, I don’t remember eating at all.  I must have eaten because, as I said,  I was sitting in front of an empty plate.

Lost in the din, I was not aware that the older gentleman had already paid for the meals. I saw that the bill was settled and placed in the middle of the table.  I looked at it and noticed that there was a big zero with a line through it (a slashed zero) written across the front of the paid check. When I questioned the gentleman about the lined-through zero, he said, “That means that I am not giving the server a tip.”  I looked quizzically at him and waited for a further explanation that never came.  The older gentlemen turned his attention back to the young woman.

I couldn’t leave without giving the waitress compensation for her services.  I went into my purse to get some money from my wallet and found that I didn’t have any money. Looking over towards the bar, I saw my husband standing there.  While the gentlemen and the young lady were engrossed in conversation, I motioned my husband over to the table. In a low voice so that no one could hear, I asked him if he had any money.  Reaching into to his pocket, he handed me four quarters.  As we were getting up to leave, I discreetly placed the four quarter on top of the bill.

The gentlemen, the young lady, and my husband headed for the exits.  Unnoticed, I lagged behind so that I could check my purse (one more time) for some money that I may have thrown into the bottom of my purse.

While rummaging through my purse, I looked up and everyone was gone, my dinner party, my husband, all the patrons and diners.  The place was empty. I was alone.  I was abandoned!  I had to catch up with my party!  The four quarters would have to be enough.

Through the restaurant’s exit door, I entered into an empty, windowless room and then another, and another…

I was feeling my way through a circular, chamber of rooms.

The only light emitting from this labyrinth were these words projected on the walls-

'There's no way out.'

THERE IS NO WAY OUT!

Regardless of The Heat and Humidity

Growing up, my family and I resided on the second floor of a three-story apartment building without benefit of a fan or air-conditioning.

Sleep was challenging, to say the least.

“My Childhood Home”

As a child, in what seemed like many hours of trying to fall asleep in a puddle of my own sweat, I finally fell into a sweltering, unsettled sleep.

During those times, in my young life, I didn’t think about how people in the past lived or survived the summer months.

However, as time progresses and we get a little older, we start to wonder about things. I wondered about people throughout history and how they were able to sleep or cook their meals during the stifling heat of summer.

“Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.” ― Socrates

Regardless of the heat and humidity, they still had to sleep and eat.  For sustenance, they cooked stews, roasted meat, and baked bread, etc.

So how did they endure cooking and baking in the extreme heat of summer?

I learned that meals were cooked and baking was done outdoors until the introduction of the wood-burning cook stove which took preparing meals indoors. Great during the colder months, but in the summer-NOT SO MUCH!

To beat the nagging heat already in the house, some erected “Summer Kitchens”. These structures were detached buildings from the main house where all the baking and cooking took place.

1820 summer kitchenBuilt about 1820-Summer kitchen at the Mordecai Lincoln Farm in Berks County, Pennsylvania. 

Which brings me to yesterday’s supper. We cooked and ate fried ravioli, mini Italian meatballs, a quick-pan marinara and we even baked an Olive & Thyme focaccia.

saturday's supper

While I still reflect upon the distant and not so distant past, I gratefully acknowledged that today we can bake bread and cook meals in air-conditioned comfort or outside on our modern grills, spits, or pits.

Extravagance and Minimalism

As aforementioned, in my postings, I wrote about downsizing, decluttering and purging our accumulated possessions. As retirees, we are striving to live a simpler, basic life.

I cannot say, and I refuse to say, that we are striving towards a “Minimalistic Lifestyle”. Minimalism today, has a different meaning then it did during the time of Henry David Thoreauthe original minimalist.

replica thoreau's cabin
Replica of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin near Walden Pond in Massachusetts.

In 1885, Thoreau wrote the book “Walden”. A book reflecting upon simple living in natural surroundings.  One of his accomplished goals was to-

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify!”

I perceive Minimalism as a multi-billion dollar enterprise. My search to confirm my observations on the excesses of Minimalism, took me to many articles.  One particular article in the New York times, The Oppressive Gospel of ‘Minimalism’, written by

Minimalism traps us into excessive consumerism!

unnecessary purchasing blog

From tiny houses to microapartments to monochromatic clothing to interior-decorating trends — picture white walls interrupted only by succulents — less now goes further than ever. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the minimalism glut, as the word can be applied to just about anything. The nearly four million images tagged #minimalism on Instagram include white sneakers, clouds, the works of Mondrian, neon signs, crumbling brick walls and grassy fields. So long as it’s stylishly austere, it seems, it’s minimalist.

Minimalism attracts the “wealthy, global elites”.  The products sold to today’s ‘wannnabe’ Minimalist are extravagant, nonessential products.

We misinterpret material renunciation, austere aesthetics and blank, emptied spaces as symbols of capitalist absolution, when these trends really just provide us with further ways to serve our impulse to consume more, not less.

On Minimalism-

Two things to keep in mind:

  1.  We are being sold a “lifestyle” by greedy Capitalist preying on our feelings  of inadequacy.
  2.  Minimalism should be perceived though your eyes and thoughts, not  through the eyes or thoughts of some elitist trendsetter.

Quoted from: The Oppressive Gospel of ‘Minimalism’

A Daughter’s Quest

Some time before twilight, I found myself stumbling along an antiquated, cobbled street. There, on both sides of the street, I observed row after row of attached, slate-roofed stone structures.

Torch lamps, poorly illuminating the street, took on a shadowy, gloomy, mysterious aura.

Individuals donning Capuchin robes were scurrying soundless about the cobbles darting in-and-out of opened, arched portals. Their hands were positioned in prayer and their hooded-heads bent downward shielding their identities.

My gaze fixed upon the quiet bustle. I stood motionless trying to comprehend what I was seeing and why I was seeing what I saw.

I searched inside my head as to why I was here. I hearkened back through the day’s events. Finally, I recalled that I was on a mission- a request from my, long ago, departed mother. She had conveyed to me that she was longing for a cup of coffee. Therefore, my mission was to find a cup of coffee.

Aware of the cobbles, cautiously, I headed deeper into the street compelled to find a cup of coffee for my mother. As I continued on, the ‘robed ones’ scurried past and through me as though I were an apparition.

They scuttled into, they scuttled out from, the passageways. As I passed each opening, I peered into each and saw only darkness.

Will my interminable guilt, while on this quest, continue to compel me into these secretive caverns into the abyss of perdition?

Want Versus Need

Many of us have an obsession with consumerism. It has become a way of life.

It is all a mind game that is played on us through commercialism and advertisements. We must have this and we must have that! It will make me a better person, it will make them happy, it will make me happy, it’s bigger than the one I have now, it’s a newer model, it shows I love them…it’s the American Dream!

A countless number of us are drowning in debt and/or material possessions.  Our homes, basements, attics and garages are cluttered with things that now bore us — things whose purpose was to satisfy a whim at the time of purchase.

Many, in order to find more space for their over-consumptive needs, rent storage spaces.

Fibber McGee’s Closet — From the radio show Fibber McGee and Molly

How do we break this cycle of consumer gluttony?  We need to focus on our basic human necessities.

We do not need to give up Capitalism to make a change from consumerism to consumption for satisfying our basic human needs and to “provide for the basic creature comforts of all people.”  Our true needs — safety, shelter, food, clothing, health care, education — are not consumerism, but consumption.

The capitalist economy must be strong enough to provide for the basic creature comforts of all people.”  For this to happen, we all have to remember that “limiting consumption is not a reflection of failure.  Rather, it represents liberation from an obsession.”

We should “focus on… well, what exactly?

It isn’t hard to figure out what is most important in life.

A lesson I wish I had learned in the past.

Source

Gentrification and Obesity

On History Bites, a captioned response to a 1911 *video from the Museum of Modern Art asks,  “And is anybody overweight?

I asked myself,  “Why are the obesity rates higher today then they were back then.”

I concluded that most of the blame to the explosive obesity rates, here in the US, rests on gentrification and greedy capitalist.

“When ‘urban renewal’ of lower class neighbourhoods with condos attracts yuppie tenants, driving up rents and driving out long time, lower income residents. It often begins with influxes of local artists looking for a cheap place to live, giving the neighbourhood a bohemian flair. This hip reputation attracts yuppies who want to live in such an atmosphere, driving out the lower income artists and lower income residents, often ethnic/racial minorities, changing the social character of the neighbourhood.”

“It also involves the ‘yuppification’ of local businesses; shops catering to yuppie tastes like sushi restaurants, Starbucks, etc… come to replace local businesses displaced by higher rents.”

The gentrified areas refuse to build affordable housing.  “As a result, local residents—and neighborhood renters in particular—may feel pressured to move to more affordable locations” farther away then their places of employment and roots.

With no ties to the area, professional and gluttonous capitalist have no problem uprooting families who have lived in these areas for generations. Residents are widely dispersed and many neighborhoods are/were decimated.

The United States, as a whole, lacks public transportation and we have to rely heavily on cars.  The working class/lower income residents have to drive long distances to schools and to their, paltry waged, jobs.

Because of these low wages, the working class/lower income individuals rely on the less expensive fast and processed foods for their and their families sustenance.

Jobs are scare in these areas leaving people stranded with little or nothing to do except live a sedentary lifestyle. Hopelessness and boredom kicks-in with a vengeance. It stands to reason why we are a nation of obese people.

Gentrification unites more liberal and progressive beliefs where capitalist glut the expansion into the city. It becomes a class of professional, lacking in affordable housing for the working class/lower income people and longer and longer commutes.

I know from whence I speak.  As I watch, from a vast distance, my hometown (and the surrounding areas) has become a liberal, progressive paradise without remorse for those they plundered and ignored.

“WATCH: Rare and STUNNING footage of New York City in the summer of 1911– newly found video from the Museum of Modern Art.
The way people dressed back then…nearly every man in a suit!  And is anybody overweight?”   —History Bites

*MoMA NEW YORK 1911

This Is What Happens 
A Class Offensive

Watch It Wiggle, See It Jiggle

There was a time, in our recent history of foods, recipes containing gelatin were considered a gastronomic experience.

One of the most recognized brands of gelatin was *Jell-O. In the early part of the 20th century, Jell-O was a revolutionary new product.

In 1897, Pearle Wait, a carpenter in LeRoy, was putting up a cough remedy and laxative tea in his home. He experimented with gelatine and came up with a fruit flavored dessert which his wife, May, named Jell-O. He tried to market his product but he lacked the capital and the experience.

In 1904, Ladies Home Journal launched the printed portion of the first Jell-O “best seller” recipe booklet. Jell-O became a household word with their colored illustrations.

“By 1930, there appeared a vogue in American cuisine for congealed salads, and the company introduced lime-flavored Jell-O to complement the add-ins that cooks across the country were combining in these aspics and salads. Popular Jell-O recipes often included ingredients like cabbage, celery, green peppers, and even cooked pasta”.

And so, the nightmare begins-

A mélange of cottage cheese, vinegar, onions, seafood salad, and  lime Jell-O!

‘Chicken Relish Mold’  combined with pickles and chicken!  To make it more “chickenie” don’t forget the chicken bouillon.

‘Jellied Vegetable Medley’ with vegetable bouillon and mayonnaise.

Sounds like a punishment rather than a meal!

Another gastronomic experience consisting of green beans and pimento suspended in lemon Jell-O.
This ‘Barbecue Salad’ consists of just tomato sauce, vinegar, salt & pepper, and Jell-O.
The ‘Cardinal Salad, consists of beet juice, vinegar, onions, horseradish, cooked beets.

To make sure you get your daily requirement of veggies, we introduce the ‘Vegetable Salad’.  Who would be able to resist a congealed pile of cauliflower, diced tomato, cabbage with the added flavor of grated onion and vinegar suspended in Jell-O.

Mmm, Mmm!

“By the 1950s, salads would become so popular that Jell-O responded with savory and vegetable flavors such as Celery, Italian, Mixed Vegetable and Seasoned Tomato”.

Seasoned Tomato, Italian Salad…!

I am not surprised to find these flavors has since been discontinued.

When I think of Jell-O, I think of dessert.

Do any of these recipes  appeal to you?

*Jell-O is a registered trademark of Kraft Foods.