Sunday, November 30, 2008

Another NaBloPoMo Completed

Here it is the last day of November and the last day of Thanksgiving weekend, cold and dreary and wet.

Early this morning it was icy and sleeting when the dog had to go out and the newspaper fetched [That is, fetched by me, not the dog. Alas, I have never been able to train any of my dogs to bring in the newspaper].

Now it is cold and raining, so we lit a fire in the fireplace and snuggled in for the day. We had homemade turkey soup with fresh baked rolls for lunch and, having been the recipient of Amish Friendship Bread starter, we baked two loaves with raisins added and they are cooling in the kitchen.

If you aren’t familiar with Amish Friendship Bread, I’ll write about it some day.

Last but not least, it being the last day of November, I am celebrating the end of another successful November - National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo).

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? If a writer writes and no one reads it, then does what he has written matter?

Thank you, readers.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mom's Turkey Carcass Soup, Part 2

When we last visited Mom's Turkey Carcass Soup, I had not yet scored the requisite turkey carcass, but my niece was a willing donor after Thanksgiving dinner, so we moved on.

Friday morning we got everything out of the fridge and ran into our first glitch: the pot. We couldn't find anything big enough and had just decided to split everything between two pots, when my sweetheart remembered some camping equipment that we bought at a Girl Scout garage sale a few months ago.

Sure enough, there was the perfect pot! [See you can count on the Girl Sccouts!]

Now for the actual recipe. We crushed in the carcass, topped it with water, added onion, celery, carrots, bay leaves, peppercorns, and...something still wasn't right. As the concoction started to simmer, I reviewed the four recipes that I had printed from various online sources and noticed they all had thyme in them.

Okay, some digging in the spice cupboard produced dried thyme leaves which I added a scant 1/8 teaspoon at a time. As the leaves began to mix in the boiling water a familiar scent began to fill the air - Mom's Soup!

Aha! As of today I have about 12 cups of Mom's turkey stock in the refrigerator waiting to be skimmed and made into real soup.

Still working on reproducing Mom's recipe, we made a trip over to the produce store this morning to get celery, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, and...and...turnips?

I'm not really sure about the turnips, but I have one on hand just in case.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Not Your Black Friday

Today is Black Friday, named for the day of the year that America’s businesses financially go “into the black” as holiday shoppers open their wallets and spend themselves into oblivion.

It’s also the day that I will point out that it is not your very own personal job to help these businesses with their finances. Your first obligation is to you and your family.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Thanks

Today, for Thanksgiving, I have decided to be thankful that I am frugal. Especially this year.

I am thankful that, years ago, we decided not to get a larger house. We stayed with our original house and put extra money into insulation, upgrading the heat and air conditioning, replacing the windows, and installing low water use faucets and toilets. And, except for one refinance to lower our interest rate, we didn’t mess with our mortgage, but put every dime we could into paying it off early.

I am thankful that we made our cars last 15 or more years and bought small ones with the best gas mileage we could find. We only bought cars that we could afford; the amount of money saved dictated the choices. We got easily maintained cars; could we change the oil ourselves? How expensive were the tires and what was its insurance rate?

I am thankful we kept track of the little things. My dogs have never cared if I was walking them while wearing $9.95 jeans and sweatshirts that I buy at church rummage sales for 50-cents. Speaking of our dogs, all our purebreds have been rescues.

I am thankful that we have only one credit card that we use carefully and pay off every month. And that we ignored all the credit offers and upgrades that were offered to us.

I am thankful that Somerset and Hunterdon Counties have Raritan Valley Community College, top-notch education at affordable prices.

Most of my cookbook collection came via garage sales and fiction I get at the library. Our Internet is $9.95 a month, we have no cell phone, no special cable channels, and a tree always seems to give up a nice-sized limb just about the time we need to beef-up our firewood pile. Our leaves serve as mulch and vegetables are interplanted with our landscaping.

The last few months, as I have watched American’s panic as they realize the outcome of their often careless spending, watched as people are unable to divide their wants from their needs, watched the USA slide into recession, this is definitely the year that I’m thankful for the gift of thrift.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Traditional Thanksgiving?

Being the hostess for Thanksgiving dinner has gotten harder over the last few decades.

Traditionally the cook served a dinner whose menu was established by family mores and American customs that were not to be tampered with: turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, vegetables, rolls, and several pies. This was the meal where real butter was used and the after dinner coffee service had real cream (or at least half-and-half).

The first incursions into this meal were made, probably, in the 1980s when the health of the guests began interfering with the recipes. The use of salt was one of the first things to go as more Americans began fighting high blood pressure and then there were the cholesterol problems that began to plague the guests.

Then there was just plain old dieting; calorie cutting came to the Thanksgiving table. Gone were eggnog, custard pies, and homemade cookies with extra colored sugar sprinkled on top.

Today, on top of all those regular old health considerations, the hostess has to figure out who is allergic to what: peanuts, lactose intolerance, soy sensitivity, and gluten problems. And alternative diet lifestyles such as vegetarianism of various stripes can even do in the turkey and the Aunt Martha’s Jell-O mold.

So what’s left on the holiday table? Cranberry sauce, plain steamed vegetables, and, for dessert, …an apple?

And we haven’t even gotten to how today’s tactful hostess decides the seating chart with the various family combinations…

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Television Holidays

Now that so many of my favorite oldies television shows are on DVD, I have a real opportunity to enjoy entire seasons at a time. The same way that football aficionados watch games for hours, I can spend an entire afternoon with the Andersons or the Cleavers or Lucy or the residents of Mayberry.

And amongst my favorite episodes are the ones that show those familiar TV families celebrating the traditional Thanksgivings and Christmases of their eras. Bewitched had them every year and some of the most memorable Father Knows Best’s were holiday tearjerkers. Of course no one could throw a holiday party like Mary Tyler Moore, although Rhoda didn’t seem to do much celebrating of Hanukkah.

It seems as though I have a vague memory of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson having some holiday episodes, but I’m not sure, and I don’t remember any on I love Lucy, even after Little Ricky came along.

What is really strange is the shows that didn’t celebrate holidays. I don’t remember Mayberry decorating Main Street or Andy and the family around a Christmas tree or carving a Thanksgiving turkey. With Leave It To Beaver being the story of a boy growing up in Middle America, there should have been some major Christmas storylines.

Although I enjoy the holiday stories, as I get older I find myself watching the backgrounds – the sets. I look for familiar clothes, all the dads and sons in suits and ties, the visiting ladies in hats, the Christmas tree ornaments that I remember, the old big-light sets, the traditional Thanksgiving table settings, old kitchens and old telephones.

So, in the end it may not be about the shows, but rekindling memories of my own childhood.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Twice Pink Kitchen

When I was quite young, maybe around 6 or 7 years old, my mother painted the kitchen in our late 1940s Cape Cod glossy pink. A bright clear happy pink, not Pepto-Bismal pink or girl-baby-room pink.

The remainder of the house was more...hmm, I don't want to say dull...more neutral. Why this pink was chosen for the kitchen, I don't know.

Well, anyway, it was a big job that took days. None of today's "dries in an hour."

A day or so after the paint job was complete and the kitchen re-assembled, my older brother was sitting on a stool in the kitchen with an open bottle of Coke. He put his thumb over the bottle top and shook it. He took his thumb off the top and jet-propelled Coca Cola erupted all over the kitchen. Everywhere.

There was shocked silence. I don't even remember any yelling. Maybe my parents couldn't comprehend having a child in high school who would do such a stupid thing.

I do remember the entire sticky kitchen was cleaned and repainted the same color pink. I think my brother was the painter.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Raritan Valley Symphonic Band Concert

Attending the Raritan Valley Symphonic Band concert his afternoon brightened everything. For an hour-and-a-half there was no recession, no work deadlines, no politics, no wars, not even any waiting housework...nothing negative.

There was the joy and serenity of joining a few hundred audience members listening to a band made up of over 70 of our neighbors, neighbors who volunteer their time and their talents and hours of practice to bring us a break from the real world.

There was the music celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah, the all-American marches, and a dose of classics just to keep us on our toes.

And when it was over, we were all ready to go back out there, restored, into the real world.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Where Was I...

Forty-five years ago, on November 22, 1963, I was in junior high school. Halfway through the school day, at lunchtime, we were outside for recess.

I don’t remember why, but we went back inside. What I mean is, I don’t remember if it was just time to go back in or if it was the wrong time to go in but someone told us to.

I do know that we were told to go to our homerooms, not to our regular after-lunch class. When I got to my homeroom there was a radio on and the teacher was sitting on the corner of his desk, leaning into the radio, listening to the announcer who, we finally understood, was talking about the shooting of President Kennedy.

For some reason the teacher sent me to the classroom next door, I don’t remember why: to deliver a note or ask a question? While I was there the radio channel they had on announced that the president had died.

When I returned to my own homeroom seconds later, everyone was still quiet, listening, and it suddenly struck me that I was the only one in the room who actually knew that President Kennedy had died. I didn’t say anything…I was dumbstruck. Then they announced it on the radio station in my homeroom.

I’m sure it was only for fifteen or thirty seconds, but it was the one moment of that day that has always frozen in time for me, that brief interval when no one else in the room knew except me.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Music Soothes

With all the current unsettling events, it is uplifting to receive a postcard announcing this weekend's free Raritan Valley Symphonic Band concert on Sunday November 23 at Bridgewater-Raritan High School, 600 Garretson Road, Brodgewater, at 3p.m.

For more information go to their website:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Where's the Paperboy?

When did newspaper delivery change?

Growing up, the newspaper was delivered by breakfast time by a neighborhood boy on a bicycle [I understand that some places had afternoon papers, but I am not personally familiar with such foreign customs.]

He had a large canvas bag imprinted with the name of the newspaper looped around his handlebars filled with papers folded in thirds with one end tucked inside the other. As he bicycled down your block he threw a newspaper generally toward each customer’s front porch. Many comics and TV shows had funny bits based on the misplacement of the thrown newspapers.

Somewhere along the way women’s lib hit the ranks of newspaper boys when girls also became newspaper carriers. “Leave It to Beaver” even had a show based on the Cleavers having a girl delivering their newspaper.

Every Saturday your carrier would collect the week’s bill; either you put the money outside in a special envelop or he came to the door and collected in person: “Mom, the paperboy’s here for his money!”

I don’t remember when our newspaper carrier morphed into an adult using a car – a rather nice car – to deliver our paper to the foot of our driveway before dawn. It had to do with newspaper delivery becoming too dangerous for children and children being too busy for the job.


I went online looking for the paperboy and found that, according to Wikipedia, in 1984 he became an Atari arcade game where "...The players take on the role of a paperboy who delivers newspapers along a suburban street on his bicycle...".

Another Wikipedia entry also states that: "Today, with the latest child labor laws, paperboys are sometimes referred to as "independent businessmen.'"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mom's Turkey Carcass Soup

Thanksgiving is next week and we have spent almost enough at the grocery store to get our free turkey.

My mother-in-law already got a turkey breast which is being stored in our freezer and we have a large turkey in there from my sister-in-law. Since we are going out to our niece's for the actual big day, it is imperative that we use our free turkey.

My mother, who died in 2007, made a really traditional Thanksgiving dinner, followed up the day after by her turkey soup using the picked-over turkey carcass. Mom probably cooked this not only for financial reasons and because we all loved it, but because we did not waste food in our house!

In the past I have felt guilty throwing out the picked over turkey carcass knowing that I should be making soup with it. About 10 years ago I felt so guilty that I even tried making the soup...unsuccessfully. It was really awful. And what's with the really disgusting scum that developes when you start boiling the carcass? And do I even have a big-enough pot?

With today's recession and us being semi-retired, I have decided that it is time to try again. I have combed through her recipes that I inherited, but to no avail. There is no written Mom's Turkey Carcass Soup instructions.

I went on line, entering "turkey carcass soup", and printed out four recipes whose ingredients sound vaguely familiar.

My sweetheart remembers the last time we tried this and has advised me that although I am welcome to try again, I am on my own.

I'll let you know how it turns out this time...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Type A and T'ai Chi

Due to a recent blood pressure problem, I investigated different ways to keep it under control including diet, exercise, breathing, aromatherapy,and T'ai Chi.

It's the T'ai Chi that has been a source of amusement for my family and my doctor. I had already purchased a beginning practice DVD some time ago, so this week I dusted it off and gave it a try.

Shortly after, a family member stuck his head around the corner after hearing me raising my voice to the TV - "Geez, will you just hurry up and show me the next movement!" He commented that he didn't think that the idea was to hurry.

Today he laughingly repeated the story to the doctor who said that T'Ai Chi was a slow form of meditation and suggested that perhaps that wasn't the best way for me to go.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Saving Money?

Sunday afternoon we made a run over to Beach Camera in Greenbrook to buy a new lens.

On the way we looked for a good price for gas and ended up at Raceway on Route 22 East in Greenbrook: $1.87/ regular unleaded. Even though I'm passing along this great price if you are in that area, it's so important to remember this summer's $4.00+/gallon prices and continue to conserve.

At least the price of the gasoline made me feel better about the price of the new lens.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Explaining Your Insurance Bill

Today's Courier News Police Blotter items included 10 car burglaries in Bridgewater, most of them at the offices of a national insurance company.

The cars involved were late model: a BMW, some Infinities, two Jaguars, a Lincoln Navigator, a Lexus, and an Explorer. The items taken included a pair of $150.00 sunglasses, some navigation units worth $200-and-up, and a $215 roasting pan.

A $215 roasting pan?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

No Newspaper?!?

The general consensus in the business world is that paper newspapers are going the way of the dodo bird; that they no longer have a place in the modern world.

And I find that sad.

I don’t remember a time that there weren’t newspapers in my life, even before I could read. Mysteriously, each day, the newspaper would arrive at our house. The adults would all peruse the headlines then divvy up the sections - dad the sports, grandma the obits, mom the ladies section, the older kids the comics.

Then began the tsk-tsking over the day’s events – the local, the state, the national, and the world. Soon they would be exchanging bits and pieces of stories and then the sections would begin to rotate around, person-to-person, as each family member finished their first choice.

My father always got first crack at the crossword and soon we would look over the television offerings on channels 2 through 13 for that night. Monday through Saturday the kids could take out their crayons, using the daily comics as coloring books.

On Sunday, except for a quick glance at the headlines, the paper had to wait until after church. While my mother and grandmother finished fixing Sunday dinner, the paper kept us busy. After lunch my father would stretch out on the couch, begin reading the paper, and fall asleep with it resting on his chest.

Within a day-or-so of its arrival the paper would be cut apart: the Wednesday paper always had food coupons and good recipes, an idea from the sewing column would be set aside, an obituary or wedding or birth announcement would be tucked into the Bible, an article saved to mail out to a distant relative or a college student.

Sometimes there would be news so earthshaking – the starting and ending of wars, the deaths of presidents, local disasters - that whole newspapers would be put aside in a safe place for future generations to read and understand what had happened in the context of our daily lives.

And this wasn’t the end of the paper. It lined the bottom of the parakeet’s cage, insulated casseroles en route to church suppers, and protected the kitchen table from seasonal projects such as pumpkin carving, Easter egg dying, and fish-cleaning. Our dogs were paper-trained. Newspapers and cardboard boxes were the two things one saved when a move was in the offing.

We spread newspapers on the floor while we emptied the vacuum cleaner’s cloth bag and we crumpled a few in the fireplace under the wood to start the fire going. Ladies could copy or share patterns using newspapers and quilters sometimes used them for paper piecing.

Every gardener knew old newspapers could be used as mulch or as a tent over tender plants in case of frost. They could be used to clean windows.

Commuters use them as umbrellas during sudden rainstorms.

Now that I’m semi-retired I finally have time to peruse the paper from front-to-back over breakfast then start the crossword. This is the way that I pictured retirement and I don’t want to give it up.

Suddenly I want to go find my crayons, the big 64-color box.

"Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." - Thomas Jefferson

Friday, November 14, 2008

Investing in Food

After considering all our investment possibilities, we have decided to put our extra cash into food.

We started this investment plan a few months ago when we got our $1200 economic stimulus check that we were supposed to spend in order to boost the economy.

We took our check to Shop Rite. In exchange for our $1200 check we got four $330 gift cards – a 10% return. We didn’t know where else we could get a guaranteed 10% return, so that was great.

As the price of gas soared and the cost-of-living sky rocketed, food as an investment looked better and better. We already owned several food stocks and bought one more as the market tanked.

We started to stockpile additional food on sale, increasing our savings with the judicious use of double coupons. When Smucker’s Strawberry Jam went on half-price sale and we had a coupon, we bought two jars to store in the pantry. As the weeks passed, we added half-price pickles, ice-tea mix, frozen meatballs, and soap.

These investments have done much better than any others we have, so we’ll just continue on.

And we don’t have to buy toilet paper all winter.

The Wall Street Journal apparently had the same idea in April:

"I don't want to alarm anybody, but maybe it's time for Americans to start stockpiling food..." - WSJ, April 21, 2008, by Brett Arends

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Tomatoes of Autumn

In all the decades of Central Jersey vegetable gardens I have known, there have always been tomato plants and part of the tomato tradition was the neighborly contest to produce the first tomato of the season - preferably before July 4th.

But I can never remember a last tomato of the season competition. It seems as though, in years past, by mid-September gardeners were trying to save a final few green tomatoes before ripping out the plants, but now I find myself brushing aside the fallen leaves of autumn to uncover ripe tomatoes for salads and sandwiches.

We consider this a positive event - but odd.

On the other hand, I also don't remember cutting the lawn as one of the jobs to be done while preparing for Thanksgiving guests.

I'll know that this has become a common phenomena when seed catalogues offer such tomato names as "Late Girl" or "Autumn Red" or "Halloween Special."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

ESP or Conspiracy

I borrowed a Saturday Evening Post from the library this week and one of the first articles I read started with this:

"Okay, so the nation is stuck in the quicksand of a subprime crises, millions are driving away from their split levels, banks are hemorrhaging red ink, the battered stock market is teetering on a free fall, and President Obama's first day as Commander-in-Chief will be focused on declaring war on a full-blown recession." *

I later realized that this was the September/October issue which had arrived at the Library on August 29th.


* The Saturday Evening Post, Sept./Oct. 2008, P. 10

No Wars, No Veterans?

Veteran's Day marks the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I - the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 - 90 years ago today.

World War I was supposed to be the war to end all wars.

Whenever the United States has a political race [like the one we just went through], any contenders who have been in the armed services - especially those having war experience - bring it up.

Can you imagine a time when we had peace for so long that there were no politicians with wartime experience? Would that be good or bad?

Other people have tried to imagine this:

"More than an end to war, we want an end to the beginning of all wars - yes, an end to this brutal, inhuman and thoroughly impractical method of settling the differences between governments." - President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945)

"I have seen enough of one war never to wish to see another." - Thomas Jefferson

"It is well that war is so terrible - otherwise we would grow too fond of it." - Robert E. Lee (1807-1870)

Monday, November 10, 2008

DJIA = Zero?

Watching the American stock market drift further and further down brings up and interesting question: What happens if a major market indicator - for example the Dow Jones Industrial Average - drops down to zero?

Would that mean that buyers would offer to take stock for free? That owners/sellers would offer to give away stock they own for free? That the companies in the index would now be worth nothing?

We recently purchased a food stock that had dropped sufficiently low to get our attention; we had been following it for a long time and people have to eat. But why are the sellers selling? The company is still a good one. Some market pundits have suggested that sellers are panicking. The only reason I can come up with is the sellers owe money - such as a mortgage payment - and have to sell stock to pay their bills

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Extra! Extra!

A newspaper anomaly sprang up again this week when Senator Barack Obama won the presidential race. People all over the world snatched up all the major newspapers they could find with headlines declaring Obama's victory.

A line of people looking for Wednesday's New York Times formed around their building. The NYTs printed more copies. Within hours the election edition appeared on eBay with a $200 price.

Why, when newspaper publishers across the United States are downsizing or even closing due to the lack of readers, does the public demand a solid print copy of the news when there is a major headline?

"Were it left to me to decide whether we should have government without newspapers, or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." - Thomas Jefferson, 1787

“Newspapers cannot be defined by the second word -- paper. They’ve got to be defined by the first word -- news.” - New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberg, Jr.

“Here is the living disproof of the old adage that nothing is as dead as yesterday’s newspaper...This is what really happened, reported by a free press to a free people. It is the raw material of history; it is the story of our own times.” - Henry Steel Commager, historian, 1951

Quotes located at - The World Association of Newspapers

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Baby's Friend in Washington?

Now that Barack Obama has won the White House, his family is ready to look for a family dog, but they haven’t decided on a breed.

It just so happens that last week I finished a book borrowed from the library, A Rare Breed of Love by Jana Kohl, a book about her dog Baby who was a rescue from a puppy mill.

Since adopting Baby, Kohl has made it her mission to enact legislation that would control puppy mills. As part of that undertaking, Kohl and her little three-legged survivor have traveled around the United States meeting with legislators, asking for their support. The book has many pictures of Baby posing with politicians, judges, actors, and anyone else who might help.

And…one of those posing with Baby is Senator Barack Obama.

I hope that he remembers the few minutes he took to meet with this little dog when his family is choosing their companion.

“If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” – attributed to Harry Truman (1884-1972)

“I love a dog. He does nothing for political reasons.” – Will Rogers (1879-1935)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Improved MPG - Guaranteed

I have come up with a sure-fire way for many Hillsborough residents to save money and to increase the miles-per-gallon they get with their current vehicles.

There is a local habit that I have observed repeatedly. Homeowners arrive home, stop at the end of their usually 40-foot driveways, get out of their still-running cars, retrieve the mail from their roadside mailboxes, get back into the still-running cars, sift through the mail while sitting in their still- running cars, and put the car in gear and drive the remaining 25 or 35 feet to their garage where they finally turn off the car.

Now, my radical idea is to drive up the entire length of the driveway. Yes, I am talking about the entire 40 feet. Maybe even into the garage. Then park the car and turn it off. Walk back the entire length of the driveway to the mailbox, get the mail, and walk the entire length of the driveway back to the house.

Voila! Gas saved! Plus the health benefits of the walk up-and-down the driveway and less exhaust fumes.

And if your driveway is longer, even more health benefits and less exhaust fumes.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The "Just Say No" Mortgage

Everyone is acting as though the mortgage mess is something new, something recent, but I personally know that it was decades in the making.

About 20 years ago, when we were house-hunting, we had a pair of mortgage brokers come to our home to review all our finances and assist us with our mortgage application.

We sat down at the dining room table covered with our bills, savings passbooks, checkbooks, income statements, and any other thing that a company offering to lend us mortgage money might like to see.

They opened their attaché cases and pulled out stacks of forms and a pair of calculators. After about an hour they came up with their recommendation.

They proposed that we go for a “no doc” [no documentation for those of you who haven’t been through this agony] loan, tell the mortgage company that we earned $94,000 annually, and – swish –there was an easy loan.

We weren’t happy.

First, they were asking us to lie about our income on forms that were ultimately legal papers; with a “no doc” the mortgage company wouldn’t see our income. If our lies were discovered the mortgage company could call the loan, that is, they could declare that the entire loan amount was due immediately.

Second, there was no reason to lie. We were putting about 60% down on the house and had more than enough income to justify the mortgage we needed.

Third, a “no doc” loan had an interest rate ¼% higher than a documented one. One little thing they neglected to mention.

And one other consideration: did we want to do business with brokers who were proposing – nay, recommending - that we lie?

We “just said no”, sent them on their way, and had no problem getting a mortgage at a good rate which was paid off long ago.

mortgage: Word History:
"The great jurist Sir Edward Coke, who lived from 1552 to 1634, has explained why the term mortgage comes from the Old French words mort, “dead,” and gage, “pledge.” It seemed to him that it had to do with the doubtfulness of whether or not the mortgagor will pay the debt." - American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000).

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Congratulations to President-elect Barack Obama.

For the last few months I was afraid for America as I watched the McCain-Palin ticket open the Pandora's Box that released racism, religious prejudice, taunts and cutting comments about education, condemnation of the importance of a free press in a democracy, and the idea that anyone who didn't support the Republican ticket was anti-American.

Despite Senator McCain's gracious concession speech last night, trying to stuff these hateful, divisive, and un-American opinions back into the box is not easily done. All you have to do is read today's nasty and negative comments about Obama's win and consider the mindset of those who are so bent on wishing him ill that they hope that their own United States will not prosper under his administration.

Good luck to President-elect Obama and the United States of America.

One of my earliest memories of Presidential politics involves what was supposed to be be a scary comment about Catholic candidate John F. Kennedy in (I think) 1960: If Kennedy won the Pope would run America. Today I mentioned that memory to someone who is Catholic and she nodded; she could remember believing that a Catholic would never be president.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Presidential Consolation

A few months ago when I met President Abraham Lincoln at South Bound Brook's Staats House, the current presidential race was very much on my mind. Discussing the dirty politicking going on, I told President Lincoln that I feared for our country.

He said not to worry, that it was always that way - even in his day.

After weeks of stories about the millions of new voters, the number of citizens expected at the polls, and the potential for voting machine problems, I didn't know what to expect. Television news stories showed lines of voters extending for blocks at numerous polling places around the country. People told about long waits.

After all this anticipation, voting today was a real letdown. No parking problem. There was one person in front of me in line and two behind me. I voted. I left.


"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crises. The great point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

Monday, November 3, 2008

Deja Vu: The Economy

While cleaning out an old desk I came across this 1992 editorial cartoon that I had ripped out of the newspaper:

The more things change the more they stay the same.

On the back of the cartoon is an article about Johnny Carson's final appearance as host of The Tonight Show - May, 22, 1992.

"It's like deja vu all over again." - Yogi Berra (B. 1925)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Marathon Time

The New York City Marathon was run today and many commentators said that a lot of runners have been motivated to race while watching past marathons.

I have talked to marathoners and even people who compete in Ironman competitions and I don’t wonder how they do it physically. They have assured me that with enough training and incentive one can accomplish just about anything.

What I wonder is how they get the time, the hours needed, to practice and the time to actually travel to the races.

Today I was going to try to go over to the YMCA and swim laps for an hour, but the obligations of day-to-day life intruded and I never got to do it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A FunTest

I spotted this "little exercise" yesterday on the Time Goes By blog by Ronni Bennett and had so much fun with it that I'm passing it along:

"While sitting at your desk, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles. Now, while doing this draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand. Your foot will change direction and there's nothing you can do about it."

So far three of us have tried it at our house. It's a fun thing for adults and kids.