If you’re like me, you have trouble some days getting into the spirit of the conversation. Try spicing up the talk around the office.
At the office today, the topic around the water cooler was: What was the worst meal you have ever eaten?
Without hesitation Susan was the first to chime in. “I’ve had pickled squid” and it tasted just like it sounds.” Dianna admitted to eating alligator and it was not good. Frog legs and she would pass on them again. Duckling and it was horrible. But she loved the escargot.
Ronnie admitted eating groundhog, snapping turtle, quail, goose, opossum, and raccoon. He also said he tried these foods back in his drinking days. He wasn’t sure he would try them sober. Terry admitted eating the rattle snake at Rustler’s Roste in Arizona and he had the t-shirt to prove it..but he wouldn’t eat it again.
“Once, at a Chinese wedding,” Lisa hesitated..…perhaps trying to choose her words carefully. “I tried shark fin soup..it was slimy. Fried duck skin…just the skin, no meat…oh and octopus… that were still moving. When we left the wedding reception we stopped at McDonalds.”
Jim’s answer was simple. “I had a meatloaf made from Special K cereal and it was gross. Pam admitted she has eaten: rabbit, venison, bear, squirrel, frog legs, ostrich and turtle. “But the strangest thing was the sweetbreads which were the pancreas and glands of a calf. All that served in a puffed pastry shell. And it did not taste like chicken.”
The panic look on Betty took us by surprise, “I’ve had nutria meat and I would not recommend it”. To be honest I had to google it after she walked away. Really Betty..…you ate a giant swamp rat?
Yet to the question, “What was the worst meal…. Larry was quick to answer. “Each meal I ever ate at my mother-in-law’s house.”
Now that’s an all together different subject for tomorrow.
As friends relived old times during the course of last evening the subject of nicknames arose. So, I started scribbling them down — which is basically what I intended to build this column around.
I went to school with Carla whose nickname was Hurricane. While in grade school, there was an actual Hurricane that made the headlines in Texas called Hurricane Carla. She brought the newspaper to school and everyone called her Hurricane from then on.
Moose got his nickname while playing high school football. A nickname the coach gave him. What if the coach hadn’t liked his players? What other animals would he have used? A weasel perhaps?
Tiny, was a kid in high school who stood over six feet five inches. Yes he was the tallest kid in school and played center on the basketball team.
One friend has the least original nickname ever. He has natural red hair and his nickname is “Red”. My friend Charlotte goes by the nickname Char. Simple idea really, like we don’t have to use both syllables when we call her name.
At times, nicknames make perfect sense and sometimes they do not.
My cousin’s name is William and he goes by the name Will.
Yet another cousin, Michael, answers to the nickname Ronnie.
The power of 4-H. For those who fall in the category of thinking 4-H is just about agriculture and raising animals, you do not know the whole story. In Indiana, only about thirty percent of the total enrollment comes from farms, the rest from urban areas.
4-H is a chance for youth to handle responsibility, learn new things and work hard to achieve goals. The primary benefits of 4-H are leadership, citizenship and the opportunity for youth to learn things of interest at their own ability level.
Last year’s most popular projects were: Crafts, Foods, Photography, and Clothing. There are over fifty projects ranging from Aerospace to Creative Writing. All projects include hands-on activities and the manuals are being continuously updated.
My nephew opted to take The Horseless Horse Project. This allows him to learn all aspects of the animal, without the tremendous cost that comes with owning and caring for a horse. He attended the Horse Club meetings, did posters and filled out his workbooks. It was an especially great project for him as he couldn’t at this time own a horse. He wants to be a horse racing jockey.
A few years ago—more years than I would like to admit—I was in 4-H and have a few blue ribbons in the closet to prove it. I remember the Action Demonstration Project. It allowed members to compete in a certain category without having to be judged against other entries. I stood and gave my demonstration on the steps required to make a pie, but never actually put the finished pie product in competition. I was judged for the demonstration and not for the pie. Maybe that was a good thing. I doubt if I would have won any ribbons on my pie.
The 4-H program provides a learning environment for the youth of the community. They can test their skills with various projects and animals. Like this year’s motto proclaims, you must experience “The Power of 4-H” for yourself to truly understand.
There is no truth to the rumor that my family is taking bets at how much weight I gained after vacation. However; it is true that there is something about eating at quaint restaurants on the road.
There is no truth to the rumor that when I saw my neighbor coming I said “Here comes the neighbor and she’s bringing more zucchinis”. Yes, one zucchini vine does produce a great deal of the vegetable. Thank you, we have had enough zucchini for this year.
There is truth to the rumor that cucumbers can keep the bees away. At the Greenwood Festival a booth had bowls of sliced cucumbers around and they were never bothered by the bees. Since the bees are extremely bad this year – you can sit outside only if you hold a bowl of cucumbers.
No, I do not believe there is any truths to the rumor that chewing gum will help get rid of gophers or moles. My sister’s back yard is over-wrought with mole mounds. She is busy setting traps while coworkers suggests that chewing gum (and it must be Juicy Fruit) will kill the moles. They say moles can’t digest it and they will die. More than likely the gum gets on their little dentures and they can’t chew any longer.
There is truth to the rumor that I could use another week of vacation. I, along with many Americans, are discovering that there is a name to this post-vacation feeling. It’s called “I need another week to recover syndrome.”
These past winter months, I noticed unusual bits and pieces in my daily life. My knees and sometimes my elbows ache. Some mornings my shoulder blade feels like it is on fire.
I told my husband one morning and he said simply, “Oh, it’s probably arthritis.”
“What?” I said. “My much older sister suffers from arthritis…not me.”
“So what’s your point?” He said with a smile.
I have noticed since last winter that my body has shifted. I have discovered a couple more changes. My hips are getting wider and higher.
I’m being obsessed with my hands. I examine my arms for liver spots. I’m afraid my hands will suddenly look like my great aunt Mona’s. Her hands looked like chopped corn flakes attached to flabby arms.
In the office yesterday, I noticed my toes were doing this strange curl up and spasm. I had to stop, remove my shoe and massage my toes and ankle.
I had a case of spring fever so I went shopping. Standing in front of the dressing room mirror I discovered a couple more changes. I think I’m looking more and more like a peanut covered M & M.
I left, stopping by the local fast food restaurant. Perhaps the afternoon out would do the trick to lift my spirits.
Then it happened suddenly, with no warning whatever! I was minding my own business in the food lane, waiting at the counter for my fries when it happened. The “M” word.
“Here’s your change, Ma’am!” chirped some freckle-face kid who didn’t look old enough to count change, let alone have a job.
For more years than she cares to admit, my neighbor Jan, has slipped into a lacy blouse, ruffled skirt, and frilly petticoat to Do-si-do her partner, then promenade.
She rarely misses square dances. Dancing is a big part of her life. She loads up the car and travels throughout the USA with her square dance partner . . . her hubby.
Square dancing is a type of American folk dancing performed by groups of four or more couples. The couples may dance in a square formation or in a circle. They follow the directions of a caller, who calls out different movements and patterns.
Popular calls include the ‘weave the ring’ or ‘swing your partner’ and ‘for a star’. Main stream square dancing includes more than 100 different calls. All this is done to music provided by fiddles, banjos or guitars.
If you are intimidated by the outfits square dancers wear, you can relax. Some people come in their street clothes, but part of the fun for Jan is dressing up. Women often wear ruffled underwear under wide petticoats and full skirts. The men put on western shirts, sometimes with scarves or bolo ties. Yes, she has multiple pairs of cowboy boots.
A night out dancing usually doesn’t cost anymore than five dollars a person to get into the dance. Square dancers come in all ages from 9 to 90.
“You don’t have to be a dancer to square dance,” she tells me as she tried to convince me to join. Me? I can occasionally confuse my left hand with my right foot
“It’s just good clean fun,” Jan says. “If you can listen and walk fast you can square dance.”
Listen and walk fast? This leaves the blonde lady with dark roots unable to promenade let alone Do-Si-Do.
Christmas begins early. The week before Thanksgiving, boxes are carried down from the attic. Boxes and more boxes filled with generations of memories. My sister once told me “You never can decorate a Christmas tree right. Why is your garland going up and down when it is obviously needs to be wrapped in circles around the tree?”
Where are the rules to decorating a Christmas tree? No two homes decorated for the holidays look alike.
My neighbor in Colonial springs has a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, but she has not one set of Christmas lights on the tree. Red ribbons, red ornament balls, and red bows fill each branch of the tree.
There is a Christmas tree on the south side that has the old fashion bubble lights. More than one tree in Greenwood has miniature blinking lights. There is a tree in Villa Heights with only blue lights. In Oak Meadow there is a house with the larger lights that do not blink at all.
My cousin in New Mexico has a train that runs underneath his Christmas Tree. He placed plywood beneath the Christmas tree skirt. When the Christmas lights are on the train runs continually around and around underneath the tree. He must position each wrapped gift just so or it might derail the train.
In my parents’ home you will find a traditional tree trimmed with pretty heirloom ornaments. Children’s ornaments made at school or church decorates the tree. Saving these treasures to display each year shows visitors how special and wonderful their artwork is to the entire family.
I decorate for the holidays in a haphazard way. I have no master plan when it comes to the Christmas tree. I set a day for family gathering and make it an event. I serve an informal supper and have a tree-trimming party. It is a wonderful way to get some holiday decorating accomplished and have fun at the same time. I keep a pot of soup on the stove and give each one of my nephew’s two boxes of ornaments. We don’t get to eat until the tree is finished.
My husband brings the Christmas boxes down from the attic and my nephews come over to help me decorate the tree. Regardless of my sister’s opinion, once again my garland will be placed in an up and down direction.
One of my nephews did let it slip that his mom can’t understand why I decorate a pine tree when everyone knows it should be a spruce tree.
Just where is this book on Christmas tree rules anyway?