On the Third Day of his Presidency, Trump Sent to Us . . .

yet another lie.


How can the lies continue to stand and how can the evidence of delusion continue to be ignored?

Trump, so far, has lied about the size of the crowd at his inauguration and Time magazine covers; about illegal immigrants voting for Hillary, and about environmental awards.

The first lie was the CIA which should — if the CIA is what it is rumored to be — have known better. The second was to Congress, but, hey, we know how easily Congress can be bought, so he gets a pass on that one. The third is an exaggeration as one of his golf courses received an environmental award a decade ago.

There are people “making long fingers” at the democrats and the left for “not courting” the working class, but, I think trump and the sycophants with which he surrounds himself exploited and abused the working class. Some of those people blaming the left and the democrats are academics and people who call themselves liberals.

This election was irrational. Consider that this is a man who brags about his Versailles-like apartment. Add to that his first act as president which is to make it more difficult for his followers to purchase homes.

Consider that among the rambling, nearly incoherent sentences spoken at his declaration of candidacy to a claque in his own building was, “I am rich.” Right. If I were a coal miner or a laid off factory worker, I would want to vote for someone who brags about what he has and then a few weeks later says that wages are too high.

Then there is kellyanne. The republicans brag that she is the first woman to have masterminded a successful presidential campaign. She was the third person helming that campaign. Rumor has it that the trump kids — or at least the three that he is willing to bother with — are said to have wanted corey lewandowski out because he was becoming too intimate with their father.

Now, kellyanne complains that suspicious packages are being sent to her. Well, those packages probably contain conditioner, a hair product she seems to be unfamiliar with.

The media, kellyanne, is not portraying you badly. When you speak to legitimate news people in your artificial voice meant to control and annoy, when you lie faster than a speeding bullet, when you use ridiculous phrases like “alternative facts,” you portray yourself as a person without morals, without standards, without truth.

Like your boss, you should not expect respect.

I am a reluctant senior citizen.  Next month, I will be 69 and one/half but I do not look that old and I certainly do not feel that old.  I began receiving Social Security this summer.  With my sharply reduced income, which is one half of the income I earned as an adjunct professor, so many of my readers will know how bad it is, I decided to sign up for the monthly Senior Citizen Brown Bag from a local food bank.

Here are the contents of my first bag: Package of Market Street Beef Stew;
Can Butterfield Chicken;
Mother’s Made light red kidney beans and same brand blackeyed peas;
Mission Pride fruit mix;
Algood Peanut butter;
Natural Plus Applesauce cups;
Pasta USA mac and cheese;
Natrel 1% aseptically packaged milk, and
Karlin’s Finest mashed potatoes.
I expected canned goods but I also expected real potatoes.  However, the bag represents a good mix of protein foods and with fruit and milk.
However, the peanut butter contains far too many things that are not necessary for making peanuts into peanut butter. Sugar, honey, three kinds of oil, molasses and salt, to say nothing of monoglycerides. Monoglucerides are fatty acids used both as a sweetener and as humectant.
While peanut butter can be made simply of peanuts (some would insist on adding salt), the use of hydrogenated oils is there allegedly for the convenience of the consumer as it keeps the peanut butter from separating. Well, perhaps, but what about one of those stirring devices that can be purchased and left in each jar so that the product is more easily stirred between uses? And three or four sweeteners when most families make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?
I don’t object to the fruit. Back in the 50s and early 60s when desserts were a constant at our family’s dinner table, a week day dessert was often canned fruit. Fresh fruit was packed in our lunchboxes. I will eat mine with my yogurt or my hot cereal for breakfast.
I can not eat the beans, although I love a family recipe for kidney bean salad and miss it terribly. But, I would guess that some recipients (officially less than 2%) might not be able to eat the mac and cheese as they are observing a gluten free diet.
I will use the chicken in a soup along with the macaroni but I will throw out the cheese packet. So, along with tomatoes from the farm in Greenfield, I can make an inexpensive and nourishing soup.
The most problematic item is the beef stew. When I squeezed the aluminum package, it felt like it contain mayonnaise, There was a colloidial smoothness to the package, which I felt out to have been lumpy. The ingredient’s list said the stew was made from “beef crumbles,” a mix of beef, soy flour and salt.
I left that bag, which I had placed in a canvas tote, on the floor of my kitchen. Despite the heaviness of the aluminum composite bag, the package must have tempted Azmo, who my son describes as “the world’s most aggressive kitten,” to tear into it. Along the bags surface was a zipper obviously made by tiny claws from which an orangey-brown liquid seeped. I cut the bag open and it appeared to contain a dice of potatoes in a gravy.
The final items are the 1% milk and the dehydrated mashed potatoes. My daughter told me that I could make bread with the potatoes. I looked up uses for boxed mashed potatoes and there are many. So, this might prove to be a discovery although I remember that my mother bought a box during the 1950s but only once. Everyone hated the results and our family happily returned to real potatoes.
As for the milk, I will bake bread with it but I really hate any milk that isn’t full fat. And, no, I would not put it in my coffee.
But the contents of this bag, for me, raises many questions.
I suppose that the manufacturers supply food banks with these products as a tax write off. I also suppose that these might be the off price brands made by more established companies. After all, there are only about 10 firms making food in the US with all of the brands being subsidiaries. Even some of the long-standing, so-called natural food makers are owned by conglomerates.
I first raised the question with the peanut butter. Why add unnecessary things — sweeteners and fats — to a product like peanut butter? Some sugar acts a preservative. In fact, reading the label of the mixed fruit can was reassuring: peaches, pears, water, grapes and sugar. Nice.
Another question that I already hinted at is food incompatibilities. Gluten avoidance was the latest food cause and it is true that there are people who can not tolerate gluten. For those people, the recent increase in awareness of their condition and the greater availability of gluten-free products has been a boon. However, several legitimate organizations do point out that only a small percentage of the population is gluten intolerant.
The beans, although an excellent source of protein and fiber, may not be a good food for people over 60 because as many as one in two suffer from diverticulosis,
A good many of the items will be used for baking. I still have doubts about the peanut butter, but, I have to ask: iIf I am unwilling to eat it because of the excessive additives, is it ethical to put it into a food donation bin at the grocery store?
In some ways, this is the bag I expected. In some ways, not.
I can understand not including fresh produce because they are perishable, but that there were no potatoes nor onions surprises me.
Let me address the scope of the operation. This food bank serves the western end of our small state and distributes bags to seniors at 58 locations.
I did want to address the manufacture of bread and school lunches but this piece is already for long.

Blocks and Fairy Tales


Miss C, my three-and-a-half year old granddaughter,  and I were in the playroom, with Sarah and Duck on, building towers with the traditional cubic alphabet blocks.

Emily, my daughter and the mother of Miss C,  is the queen of tag sales, so the bin containing the blocks represents booty from three different sales. Two sales produced the sort of blocks that can be bought at any toy store, fresh and new with painted numbers or letters on two opposing faces, and simple line drawings of various things — from sports equipment, to animals, to plants, to machines — on the remaining four faces.

But some of the blocks are older and larger.   The exposed wood is darkened with time, the paint faded and nicked.  Interestingly, their use is limited to either forming foundations or else they must be used only with themselves as they do not fit in with the newer blocks, which are smaller.

Sarah and Duck is a program that some might not find acceptable. Sarah seems to live alone with her duck. She has friends. John is a Japanese boy with a pet flamingo. The Ribbon sisters wear sunglasses and play with ribbons while plate girl carries a plate with her constantly. Scooter boy never rides his scooter.

Her only adult friend is Scarf lady, a grandmotherly figure who knits constantly.

But not all of  Sarah’s friends are  human. She interacts with inanimate objects, as well as with the moon and a rainbow, food and insects.

The creators tell us that “creativity and friendship” are one of the main themes of the program. Sarah is open to, and reacts kindly toward, all.

In other words, Sarah is much like a child from fairy tale, one of the most traditional literary forms. The characters are as fantastic as any found in traditional tales, from Beauty’s Beast to Baba Yaga. Sarah’s talking shallots are no more unusual than Jack’s magic beans, or the animal guides or magic objects found in traditional children’s literature.

What Sarah and Duck does is clothe the fairy tale, or what the Brothers Grimm called household tales, in modern dress.

The show is innovation based on tradition.

As are the little wooden cubes. Children love to build, to pile objects upon each other to create towers. And while the more contemporary blocks might not fit with the older blocks, so, too, older ideas sometimes must sometimes be replaced by newer ones, unless, of course, like the blocks themselves, they form a strong foundation.

And so Miss C and I watch and listen to Sarah as she solves problems and explores possibilities, while we work on how to make a tall tower that will not fall down.

Retail, Management, Employees and More

There is something about the thoughts I have while making my morning coffee that can be either inspiring or painful.

I have worked in retail for years, either as a second job or as a means of earning an income while I looked for full-time work.

This morning, I thought of a man I worked with at Williams-Sonoma. He was then in his early 40s, tallish (5′ 11″ ?), handsome in a Ronald Coleman-early film-style way, outgoing and capable. I started working there in November, 1997 and he came a few months later.

Upper management finally realized that having someone full time in the stockroom was a good idea and he was hired. Now, the man I described does not sound like the usual stockboy.

I was 50 when I began working there. The manager was a pretty woman a few years older than me who seemed to be cursed. Her test pilot husband had died in a plane crash. She was also the most accident prone person I had ever met. In fact, not long after I was hired, she slipped on ice in the parking lot and broke a vertebra in her back.

One day, she asked me if I thought the stockboy had been in prison. What??? She said why would a man like that accept this kind of work? The economy was booming at the time. In fact, Williams-Sonoma’s chief competitor, Crate and Barrel, was drowning in business that Christmas and had called a television station to ask for a human interest/economics piece about how difficult it was to find people to work just for Christmas.

I had just handed in my thesis and knew I needed work and thought a Christmas job while I switched out of thesis writing to resume writing would be perfect. In other words, I wasn’t the sort of woman who would work retail, or, so one would think.

And, as my situation was irregular, I just assumed his was as well. I told the manager that I would guess he was between jobs and this was a filler while he sent out paper.

As things turned out, Corporate headquarters took notice of him and he was asked to move from the suburban store for the busier store in Boston, steps from the Freedom Trail.

Oh, The Joys of Internet . . . in any form

Stephen Colbert once did a small piece on LinkedIn when he was still on Comedy Central. He said he receives invitations to join, and, as soon as he finds out what it does, he will join.

I joined a few years back and I feel the same way. What does it do other than waste my time?

Granted, I have enjoyed a forum of Medievalists sponsored by Linkedin but is it worth maintaining a subscription for a single forum when there are other online sites through which I can chat with Medievalists?

I occasionally receive postings about jobs, none of which am I qualified for.

Today, the service sent me a list of 95 people I might know. I did know some. One person was formerly in my writing group. Another was my son whose last name is different than mine.

Interestingly, there were two people I encountered before through a different form of internet communication, dating sites.

I was active in the predecessor of online dating sites, print media personals, just after my divorce, 23 years ago. For about six months, I met men for coffee, occasionally for dinner. I had between one and three of these meetings a week.

I never wanted to see any of them a second time and always left the cafe or restaurant at a run.

After a six year relationship that began with a face-to-face encounter at a Cajun dance session at the late, lamented Johnny D’s, I tried the internet version of the personals.

I actually agreed to meet a man a second time. He was physically attractive, educated, intelligent and articulate. He was also a widower.

Both times, the conversation flowed easily. But the second time sent up a signal flair. I had suggested we meet at Tower Hill Botanical Garden. He called me and asked that I meet him instead at a hotel in Sudbury, MA. He begged off because of the heat but I wondered if he had weighed the price of admission.

Now, meeting at hotel does not automatically set off alarms because hotels have lounges where people can sit for hours undisturbed.

But . . .

This was a hotel where he and his late wife would go for weekend retreats. The problem for me is that it was a humdrum place on Route 9 in a town with no particular charm except for the living history museum and they lived in Vermont. Yeah, I always think of fleeing Vermont for Route 9.

We walked over to a bench next to the lake behind the hotel. By this time, I knew to hang my shoulder bad between us on the bench.

He emailed me later the same day to say how much he enjoyed my company and asked for a third meeting. I no longer wanted to wait for the classic “third date death,” although I did not respond for a week. When I did, it was to say no.

The other man, who I contacted years before via the Boston Globe personals, is much older than I am, a retired Harvard professor. In fact, I wonder if he is still alive or if his LinkedIn account simply continues without him.

I never met this man although we exchanged several emails. He, too, is a widower, although his second wife was much younger than he. They had two sons together who attended the high school where I was a permanent sub. He thought had we begun dating , he did not want one of his boys to show up in a class I was assigned for the day. Reasonable, I suppose.

Anyway, during the internet era, I received an email from him. He thought my profile matched the type of woman he sought. Besides, I was, to him, beautiful. I answered that we had had a previous history in which he declined to meet me.

Now, in terms of raw data, either of these men would seem to be “my type.” We were all lefties. We had all worked in education. We all held graduate degrees. They were reasonably attractive and younger in spirit than their respective ages.

But, who is to say what a type is. What about those qualities that are not reflected in personal appearance or on a resume? What happened to not judging a book by its cover?

Of course, I declined to connect, even on a ‘professional level,’ with either man.

As for LinkedIn, is it really professional? I am not trained in any medical field nor do I have an MSW. My resume is posted there. I could, possibly, work in television. But is someone going to hire a 69 year old woman for professional television work? I am seriously thinking of dumping LinkedIn. I receive an average of 150 emails daily. Cutting back on even one source would be a help.

Particularly, like Stephen Colbert, I am still not certain what it does.

There Are Wonderful Things on Your Bookshelf

Yesterday, I looked for a particular book on preparing vegetables in the traditional French manner. I had some Swiss chard, which I love but which is sometimes bitter and I wanted to blanch it in water with a little flour added, a process whose name I can not remember other than the phrase contains the word blanc.
Anyway, I could not find the book, but, in looking through my shelves, I thought of all the great books that I have neglected over the past few years, avoiding cooking because I hate being in my own house because my youngest son is here and because I was working two ill paying jobs to support myself and hadn’t the time to cook. I called my food prep warming although I never bought prepared foods.

How nice some cookbooks are. I still love my first mentors, Elizabeth David and Richard Olney. I loved the casual approach of David and the elegantly simple line drawings of Olney. More to the point, I love the France they evoke, the post war world recovering and rising from devastation. Their books, along with M.F.K. Fisher’s speak of recovery, reclamation, and healing.

There are other, newer cookbooks I love just as much but in different ways for different reasons because they are the products of different times. Ada Boni’s classic Italian recipes, printed like a dictionary without illustrations comes to mind because it so no nonsense, like dictation taken in the kitchen of your (a universal you, and certainly not my grandmother!) talented grandmother.

Donald Trump, Part Three

The point has been made that the opinions of white men do not  matter less but that the opinions of others are — if not rising in importance — being heard more often.

However, I think donald trump is amazingly out of step with who and what America is in terms of remaining relevant in the 21st C. He is a relic from the 1950s, someone who obviously did not participate in the actions, philosophies and contributions his generation made . . . and, without him, will continue to make.

Racist, xenophobic, sexist and immature, trump behaves more like the dark underbelly of the Brokaw’s greatest generation, the people who fought to rescue the world from fascism but came home to work to keep blacks in their place.

However, I do not think Bernie acted out of hubris when he accepted trump’s challenge. Sure, the scenario does sound like a challenge to a duel because it is. I think we should learn from Bernie’s impulse: trump needs to be challenged. He is an empty suit without ideas, education or intelligence.