Friday, June 27, 2014

CHANGE



Change. You either love it or you hate it.

We love it if it is our idea. We hate it when it's not our idea. And sometimes, we hate it even when it IS our idea. The hard fact remains that change is the only thing in our life that stays the same. Everything around us and in us is in a constant state of change.

Planet Earth changes. The scientists study it, the scholars write about it, the Chicken Little’s warn us about The End coming any day now. They chronicle earthquakes and volcanic explosions with great alarm, like this was the first time EVER this has happened, and are genuinely shocked that it does, and “what can we do to stop this terrible thing”. Droughts come and go, as do rainy seasons. Rivers flood, change paths, and dry up completely. Pretty much the only thing that stays the same on this planet is the wind blowing in the Panhandle of Texas, but even then the dirt it is blowing in changes--sometimes it is Colorado dirt, sometimes it is New Mexico dirt. (Insert theme song from "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" in your mind here.) Fact is, this planet is in constant flux and always has been, always will be. It is a growing, changing, expanding piece of the galaxy, and there is speculation that in a few hundred million years our Sun will implode and Earth will forever be gone. As much as I try to watch my health, I don’t think I will be around to see it, so I am not concerning myself too much with this fact.





Technology changes. I deal daily with computers. They are truly both a blessing and a curse—love them when they work, hate ‘em when they don’t. The software constantly needs updating, and then you can’t find a blinking thing on your desktop anymore, and there are all new symbols and a jillion new options, most of which you will never have the time to learn to use...all part of the culture. However, for all their pitfalls, I would never go back to the “old way” of doing things, and quite honestly don’t think anyone else wants to, either. Notebooks, ledgers, file boxes, filing cabinets, snail mail…no thanks. But please, let’s all stop reminiscing about how easy Windows XP was to use and move on. Everything is stored in the cloud now, you can access anything from anywhere—the convenience this brings has quickly advanced our culture and lives. Can it be a pain in the butt? Absolutely, but only if you let it.



Jobs change. If you are one of the bazillion of us out here who make up the working sector, you know the challenge of change in the workplace. New programs, new equipment, new insurance, new employees, new owners, new brand of toilet paper in the restroom—the list of “new” goes on and on. I have never understood why people will leave a job they know well and have done for years because of changes within the company, and go to a completely new job. The fact is, there is more change involved in that move than there is in tweaking the one they have! But it goes back to my first line—if it is not our idea to change, we are usually going to resist it. If we choose to change jobs, it is a choice we make, and therefore embrace it. Aren’t we humans funny?



Our bodies change. They grow, evolve and age. First we grow from a child to an adult, then revert in many ways to being childlike again. We gain weight, and we lose weight. We get “in shape”, and we get “out of shape”. Our hair changes color, either with help or on it’s own. Parts get wrinkled and saggy, joints quit working like they used to, and some of our "innards" do too, even on a healthy body. We can fight these physical changes, but they come on steady and sure. There are a plethora of solutions from creams, to supplements, to surgery, but at the end of the day, improvement is still change, and believe me, I am all for improvement.


Our minds change. And no, I don't mean that whimsical "I changed my mind about what shoes to wear" kind of change. Our thoughts and opinions mature through the years, with accumulated experiences and attitude affecting change. Well, most of us do anyway.  There are those who are so unsure of themselves that they refuse to grow and increase their knowledge and experiences because they feel safe doing things the same way they always have--change frightens them.  Some of us expand ourselves, sometimes learning from the past, sometimes learning from repeating it.  Our perception of the world and those around us changes with every life experience.  A choice few embrace change, loving the challenge new ideas bring, excited to step out into the unknown and gain new knowledge. People are born, people die, disasters happen. Disease and other physical ailments plague us. Our bodies wear out. Our spirits can go from the dungeon to the stars in an instant. Every day changes us—more on some days than others. It’s what life was meant to be.

                                                                        


Our daily life changes. Our reluctance to change really becomes apparent when it comes to our "stuff". I can move the furniture and paint the walls, and the hubbs will be like, "Wow. You changed things. OK, I will get used to this." But move the man's remote control to another drawer and watch what happens. Switch his sock drawer with his underwear drawer, and stand back, it can be drama for days--because his "stuff" isn't where he is used to it being. Now, I have to admit, I wouldn't like him moving my "stuff" around either, but let's face it, sometimes re-organizing is necessary--no matter how traumatic. And yes, I am that person who will look for something "where I used to keep it" 10 times before the change sticks. But then sometimes I think I could hide my own Easter eggs, so that isn't new.


Change. The bottom line is, you can make it EASY or you can make it HARD. It’s all up to you. But if you stop and consider for one moment that the main thing God asks of us is to trust in His plan for us, what really is the big deal? Why do we let our egos get "too big for their britches" and have all control? In the Bible, it was called "pride", and was a block to entering God's kingdom. I have a sweet friend whose father has had some serious ongoing medical problems, and her mother uses the phrase in her updates, "I am holding on to the hem of His garment in faith" to describe her trust in God concerning her husband's recovery. What a perfect description of what we all do when we trust our faith! Whatever change is handed us, is always manageable with faith--all we have to do is hang on.




So now,  I guess we need to make another "change" to our thinking, because "hanging on"  really means "letting go" doesn't it?  

Peace, friends.




(Want to listen to the theme song to the movie, "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly"?  Listen here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFa1-kciCb4 )

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Flying



As a child I dreamt I could fly 



Soar at dawn across the sky 




Gazing down on the houses below 




Seeing things I couldn't possibly know 




The fading street lights, the shadowed yards 




The old dirt school yard where I played so hard 




The tiny churches where I learned to pray 




Never thinking I'd grow up some day 




Above the elevator, I'd fly so high 




With no fear that I might fall from the sky 




The dusty old fields, the tractors at rest 




As for dreams, this one was the best 




Again and again it would come in the night 




And while I slept I would take flight 




I'd awake in the morning, wishing it wouldn't end 




But I never told anyone, not even a friend 




"They'll think I'm crazy" is what I always thought 




But the freedom of that dream was constantly sought 




I wish I could dream it again to this day 




But I grew up somewhere along the way 




I still believe one day my soul will take flight 




And fly again over those houses at night 






Like ·  · 

When the Stars Go to Sleep

I love early mornings, it's my favorite time of day

When it's cool and dark, before the sky begins to grey

From the sun coming up to illuminate this globe

But you have to have the constitution of Job

To make yourself calm down, clear out your head

The night before, and just get your butt into bed

So you can breathe fresh air early, when you arise

And get out and enjoy all your daily exercise

I love being out there, by myself, all alone

To sort out my thoughts about work, life, and home

But there is something magic that happens each morning

I try to watch for it, it comes without warning

The stars go to sleep, but I never seem to catch them

When they close their eyes, and I've tried to see when

They twinkle out, it seems they are VERY sneaky

Like they are shy, don't want me peeking

One minute it's dark, and they are shining brightly

Next minute they are gone, and they do it again nightly

I swear, they are here, and then they are gone

Hidden by the glory of the breaking dawn

My morning date, with the stars I will keep

And keep trying to catch them when they go to sleep



Sunday, April 27, 2014

Food, Glorious Food



I am a foodie. Love to cook it, love to eat it, love to talk about it. I am a walking, talking officially certified foodie. Food is such an interesting, broad subject, and I find that most people are fairly opinionated about their food. We all know food is a very personal connection we have to home, family, and our childhood.  Our likes and dislikes all started when we took that first nibble of gooey rice baby cereal. The ensuing personal path we each chose differs from person to person. Some kids use food as a tool in a power game with their parents; others sometimes don’t eat at all. Apparently my brothers and I "bellied up to the table" every time we were called, regardless of what was served. There was none of this nonsense that if we did not like the meal, a better option would appear; there were no options. Eat what was here and be grateful for it, or leave the table. 

Growing up during the 1960's, our house was served typical country food—fried chicken, meatloaf, ham, roast, potatoes with gravy, green beans, corn, lettuce salad—basic menus.  Oh, and that ever-present pot of pinto beans. Growing up with limited resources for my parents meant you boiled that little smoked ham hock in with your pinto beans, and served it with a heap of homemade chow chow, chopped onion and crispy scratch made cornbread. (Pintos are not my favorite bean, so I always piled on the chow chow and ate lots of cornbread.) There was rarely steak and never fish. We seldom ate at a restaurant, and when we did it might be a burger at Myrtle Armstrong’s cafĂ© or The “Y” cafe. A “fancy” meal out would be at Meyer’s Fried Chicken in Amarillo. I always wanted to eat something exotic like pizza or Chinese food, but never got to.  (I have to say however, I would kill right now for some of that yellow gravy from Meyer’s over some mashed taters….)

See? Just thinking about those times at the dinner table as a kid has taken me back to that very moment when I could dig into my mother’s fantastic cooking. Mmmmm. But I have come to realize that every person has their own version of that memory. My husband’s family never ate black-eyed peas in Iowa, so he does not share my fond memories of a big, steaming bowl of those things cooked with salt pork and served with a big slab of cornbread. (And that was after I spent the morning picking them and the afternoon with a newspaper in my lap shelling those little boogers.) Like my dad’s biscuits and bacon gravy for breakfast and epic Thanksgiving dressing, every household has their family food legacies. I have some Hispanic friends who get all swoony talking about their mother’s menudo. (Gag, gag, shudder.) Or the friend who talks about her family’s traditional Russian meals with names that I don’t understand.  And even the friends whose mothers did not cook remember the pancakes or bacon-egg sandwich that their dads used to make.



When I think back to those days, Hartley had a tiny grocery that had a small meat market, and a few rows of staples. We did not have these massive grocery stores that we enjoy now. Our grocery trips were pretty simple, because at our house we had the four basic food groups: Miracle Whip, Velveeta, Spam and the garden. We had huge gardens and canned almost everything imaginable. My grandmother had a good two acre plot full of fruit trees and we planted that to vegetables too. My mother made jellies, relishes, pickles, canned green beans and tomatoes, froze corn and fruit. That is when I honed my sous-chef skills peeling, chopping, seeding, shelling and dicing.

My mother always had a plan for her meals—she said you needed a meat, a vegetable, and a starch at every meal. Desserts were for special occasions.  We always had a slice of bread and butter with our meal.  Various salads were common—carrot-raisin, waldorf, cabbage-apple, and at least a thousand variations of Jello salads containing fruit or vegetables. You could always count on knowing what the holiday meals were going to consist of. Thanksgiving: Turkey, Daddy’s dressing, mashed potatoes and giblet gravy, candied sweet potatoes, green beans, corn, a cranberry Jello salad and cranberry jelly, and a huge relish tray and homemade bread. Pumpkin chiffon pie with Cool Whip or fresh pecan pie followed. Christmas and Easter:  ham, mashed potatoes, ham gravy, candied sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, green beans, corn, a fruit salad, a jello salad, rolls, and that ever-present relish tray and loaves of delicious freshly baked bread. Dessert was usually homemade pecan pie, apple pie, and occasionally a chess pie. If everyone was home, they would have both ham and turkey, with all the above. Occasionally, she might make baked beans instead of potatoes to have with the ham, or occasionally throw in a broccoli rice casserole. The amount of food was ridiculous--we ate on platters instead of plates.  But we were young, and usually all "made a hand" at this table of plenty.



When I walk the grocery aisles now, I can get overwhelmed by the thousands of products available.  All of that pre-cooked, ready-to-eat stuff contains ingredients that have more letters than the VIN number on my car. I can avoid whole aisles, as they don’t have anything we eat on them. I don’t cook anything remotely like the way my mother did these days as it is not prudent for our health. (Mother’s food was usually delicious thanks to butter, salt, bacon/bacon grease, or sugar.) These days I just throw a piece of meat, chicken or fish on the grill, roast some fresh vegetables in the oven, chop up a salad, and call it. I really look forward to having company to cook for, as most recipes make more than a party of two can eat. That is when I might make a good chicken fried steak and potatoes or huevos rancheros for breakfast. I have my mother’s recipe book with all her wacky hand-written recipes on napkins, waitress tickets, grocery receipts, and more. I love my old Hartley Cookbook, and the Dalhart Community Cookbook, and my Beta Sigma Phi cookbooks.  Donna Bryant’s “Thumbprint Cookies” recipe, and Karen Brown’s “Chicketti Cassarole” recipe from the Hartley Cookbook are both favorites.  Helen Summerour’s “Snickerdoodle” cookie recipe from the Dalhart Community Cookbook is the best ones I have found. I have adopted Opal Baker's oatmeal coconut cookies recipe as my own.  It is kind of sad that I have most of my recipes on the computer or pulled from online these days, cookbooks may soon be a thing of the past—heck, at the rate we seem to going, COOKING may be a thing of the past!





I wonder about parents now, feeding their kiddos fast food meals and fruit drinks that aren’t really fruit, all the while complaining about the GMO foods, and demanding free range chicken. Some kids eat more meals in the back seat of the car than they ever do at a table. They don’t consider that all our non-GMO vegetables were bathed in pesticides to be able to make a crop, and  I wonder how people would react if they knew that “organic” veggies and fruits they are eating were probably fertilized with cow or chicken poop. I am sure there would be an outcry, spreading poop on the fields would be outlawed, and we would be left with mountains of poop sitting around to deal with. 

The bigger picture is that the only real bonding time for a busy family is often at mealtime. We always turned the TV off and sat at the table to eat. Even until my girls were grown and left home, we tried to eat together at least once a day. With school and sports, at times it was just a rushed lunch--but it was a little window to talk with each other. It really doesn’t matter so much what the food is, it’s about the love and connections we make while eating it. What are some of your favorite family food traditions? Are you continuing your family traditions? Leave me a comment below.


Peace friends--






Friday, March 14, 2014

Happy Friday Feast For My Fish Friday Friends! (Try Saying That Really Fast)

I LOVE fish tacos. I love them fried. I love them grilled. I love shrimp tacos.

Oh, wait, that would be a different recipe.

I have previously posted a recipe for Spicy Jalapeno Horseradish Coleslaw in 2011--http://donnalenz.blogspot.com/2011/12/spicy-jalapeno-horseradish-coleslaw.html

It just happens that I love that stuff on fish tacos. This time I did it a little different, to mixed reviews at my house.

Chuck liked the creamy sauce mixed into the cabbage. I liked it separate.

When eating at restaurants, I have had the fish tacos in many different forms. The one below reflects my personal taste. If you want to mix the creamy sauce in with the vinegary slaw (as in the original recipe), call Chuck over for dinner.

FISH TACOS WITH SPICY COLESLAW AND CREAMY HORSERADISH SAUCE

6 mild fish fillets, cooked  (if breaded—baked. If raw, either grilled or pan seared.)
6 corn tortillas, browned in skillet
Spicy Horseradish Coleslaw

I did the first step in the coleslaw recipe, which was mix ¼  cup vinegar, ¼ cup sugar, dash of salt and pepper and pour over 1 bag of chopped coleslaw mix, ¼ cup chopped onion and one seeded diced jalapeno. I let this marinate for 30 minutes.

I mixed the 3 Tbls. mayo, 3 Tbls. horseradish, 1 Tbls. mustard, and added 1-2 tsp of habanero sauce (not in original coleslaw recipe, see photo of product below) and mixed well. I spooned into a zipper snack bag and let set for 30 min.


During the wait time for the slaw, I toasted the corn tortillas and baked the fish portions. 





I assembled the tacos this way:
Tortilla
Top with fish
Spoon on coleslaw
Snip the corner of the little baggie and drizzle on the creamy sauce.


What could be easier?  I think having the creamy sauce separate from the cabbage allows you to taste the horseradish better, which I like with fish. If you like, go ahead and blend all the sauces into the cabbage, and it is still mighty tasty!

YUM.  (The only thing that might make these better is chopped fresh cilantro. DOUBLE YUM.)


This is the habanero sauce. Not much flavor to conflict with anything you add it to, just HOT. 


This quantity is enough for two to three people. My original coleslaw recipe will feed an army. Keep in mind, you can cool this recipe down by reducing or leaving out the chopped jalapeno and habanero sauce. I would not recommend leaving out the horseradish, as it is the key flavor. 

Enjoy, my friends. Peace. 








Sunday, March 9, 2014

Life is a Rock, But the Radio Rolled Me



I was pretty young when I figured out that music was something that would be a constant in my life. I remember learning how to do “The Twist” as a very young girl, and moving to the music of the 1960’s. I was too young to faint for Elvis or scream for The Beatles, but they still drove the evolution in music that I became immersed in.



The music of the 60’s went from the chorale sounding groups like Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons (Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You, My Eyes Adore You), the Shangr-Las (Leader of the Pack), into a blues-driven sound of the Isley Brothers (Who’s That Lady, It’s Your Thing) and Wilson Pickett (Mustang Sally). Some of my favorites from that era:

·         Incense And Peppermints                                Strawberry Alarm Clock
·         Venus                                                            Shocking Blue
·         Time of the Season         `                              The Zombies
·         Lightenin’ Strikes                                            Lou Christie
·         Sounds of Silence                                            Simon and Garfunkel
·         To Sir, With Love                                           Lulu
·         Dizzy                                                             Tommy Roe
·         We Gotta Get Out of This Place                       The Animals
·         Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In                           5th Dimension
·         Crimson and Clover                                         Tommy James and the Shondells




The socially conscious era of the Vietnam War and changes here at home had begun to surface in music. Many groups addressed the political and social unrest of that decade through music, creating some of the most powerful songs to date:

·         War                                                                    Edwin Starr
·         Ohio                                                                  Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
·         Paint It Black                                                      The Rolling Stones




The 1970’s moved us into even more of a rock mode. The heavy hitters of the early 70’s were still influenced by the evolving technology of recording. The 60’s were dominated by vinyl records, but there was a new chick in town—the multi-track tape recording.  The 60’s had moved us from 4-track to 8 track recording. Our first car audio system was a 4-track, installed by my brother. It was not long until it progressed to 8-track, and I lugged those cases of tapes all over the country.  I was one of the few who had a quadraphonic stereo at home that simulated surround sound, after purchasing that specific type of 8-track tape.




A few of my 70’s favorite singles:
·         Holdin’ On to Yesterday                                     Ambrosia
·         A Horse With No Name                                      America
·         In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida                                           Iron Butterfly
·         Mama Told Me Not To Come                               Three Dog NIght
·         Dream Weaver                                                 Gary Wright
·         Never Been Any Reason                                     Head East
·         The Rapper                                                      Jaggerz
·         My Sharona                                                      The Knack
·         Bad Motor Scooter                                            Montrose
·         Rock N Roll Hoochie Koo                                   Rick Derringer
·         Reelin’ In the Years                                          Steely Dan
·         Lady                                                               Styx
·         Roundabout                                                     Yes
·         Ride Captain Ride                                            Blues Image
·         Come and Get It                                              Badfinger
·         Hooked on a Feeling                                         Blue Suede




Also, I want to thank pretty much all the biggies: Creedence Clearwater Revival, Kiss, Bad Company, Led Zepplin, The Who, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Boston, The Doobie Brothers, The Eagles, Elton John, The Guess Who, Heart, Jethro Tull, Queen, Seals and Crofts, Rush, Steve Miller Band, and ZZ Top, just to name a few. I knew the words to every song on every album , and you made it heaven on earth for me. Disco made a short visit, and while I loved me some BeeGees and Donna Summer, it was not altogether my favorite. I went to bed listening to KIXZ, Amarillo TX, or KOMA, Oklahoma City, OK. I woke up to the same thing. In Hartley, TX , those two radio stations were the only musical influence I had.




But the world was about to change again. Those big bulky 8-tracks were about to be replaced with slim little cassettes. I actually still have my first cassette tape—“American Pie” by Don McLean. This meant those huge tape carriers could be replaced by a much smaller version, and might even fit under the seat. And, I had a little portable player I could cart around! 


As we slid out of the 70’s into the 80’s, things really began to change. August 1, 1981 the way we look at music as well as TV was altered forever. A little channel called MTV (Music Television) debuted with a video of the song, “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles, and the era of the music video was born.  Oh my goodness, this time period was the heyday for magnificently hokey videos. The special effects were not special, the themes were ridiculous, and I loved every second of it. The hair was big, the pants were tight, the sets were crappy, but the music was awesome!  For the first time you had a visual to go with the music. I still remember so many of the videos—they did not really have to have anything to do with the song, but they always made you remember it! I can still hear my girls, at four or five years old singing "The Warrior" by Scandal, and "Sara" by Jefferson Starship.


Some favs:
·         Take On Me                                                            A-HA
·         Girls Just Wanna Have Fun                                       Cindy Lauper
·         Karma Chamelion                                                   Culture Club
·         How Will I Know                                                    Whitney Houston
·         Cradle of Love                                                       Billy Idol
·         Pour Some Sugar On Me                                           Def Leppard
·         Sweet Dreams                                                         Eurythmics
·         I Want A New Drug                                                   Huey Lewis and the News
·         Like a Virgin                                                            Madonna
·         Beat It                                                                    Michael Jackson
·         She Drives Me Crazy                                                Fine Young Cannibals
·         We Got the Beat                                                     The Go-Go’s     
·         Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go                                 Wham



Who can forget Tawny Kitean writhing around on the hood of that car in the video for “Is This Love?” by Whitesnake? Or what ridiculously good dancers Paula Abdul and Janet Jackson were? Or any of Madonna’s or Michael Jackson’s outfits?  How about those gorgeous models in black dresses in Robert Palmer’s video “Addicted to Love”?   Or the chicken dancing in “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel? How about the Thompson Twins’ goofy haircuts?  Was it only me, or were all of Duran Duran and The Car’s videos really odd? 

And then there was Rick Springfield. Oh. My. Goodness.


I still love to watch those old videos.  Somewhere things went awry with the video channels- they started adding regular shows and movies, then reality TV, and then it was no longer about music. I can’t quite figure it out, we have more artists out there now than ever before, but they lost a great platform when MTV and VH1 stopped music video programming 24/7. Youtube is great, but you have to be looking for that particular artist. And let’s face it, the videos today are just not the same. There is not a sequined glove or mullet in sight. No weird costumes, fake space ships, or over-stretched spandex.  No Walking on Sunshine, Dancing in the Dark, Bette Davis Eyes or Sunglasses At Night. 

I have found a couple of Youtube channels that have some good videos. Here is the link for the 70’s one- since videos were not that popular yet, a lot of them are from TV shows, which are just as good-some are just still photos. Either way, it will stir a memory.


If you are lonesome for the 80’s, go check out this video on Youtube. It is 5 hours of 80’s videos in one link. Take a look and enjoy!

If you don't recall these songs I listed above, check them out. They are the building blocks of pop culture for the last 30 years! And, in case you don't remember the song I pulled the title of this post from, listen to it here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15wq1Yg_Ac4


Please comment about the cool bands that were your favorites!  I love remembering good music!
Peace friends!  Rock on!