September 30, 2012

Making Sandwiches with Doughnuts, Not Bread?



You gotta be crazy!

 It’s afternoon. The children are famished. ‘Burgers are on the menu—the patties are prepared and cooking. The tomatoes, shredded lettuce, mayonnaise are laid out on the table. Suddenly you realize you neglected to get the ‘burger buns from the refrigerator.

You open the refrigerator door and look in. Nowhere are there any buns. What to do? ‘Burgers require bread.

On the counter there are six glazed doughnuts in a white bakery box with red lettering. Your husband bought a dozen of them this morning.

I recall recently reading the online magazine New England Travel from Kim Knox Beckius. In this particular issue she reported about the Craz-E Burger1, a hamburger sandwich made with glazed doughnuts instead of ‘burger buns.

Yes, I considered it crazy, but desperate times call for desperate measures, as the cliché goes. I wondered if it wasn’t a similar situation that the influenced the creator of the Craz-E Burger to consider substituting glazed doughnuts for bread when making creating the his ‘burger. Kim Knox Beckius wrote the following:

The Craz-E Burger was the gooiest, craziest, most decadent dish at the 2009 Big E…Want to know the truth? It’s pretty tasty.

To try this bacon cheeseburger on a glazed donut bun for yourself, head to the Big E, which runs September 14 through 30, 2012, in West Springfield, Massachusetts.1

The post had jiggled my imagination. Were there other sandwiches out there that substituted glazed—or any other kind of doughnut or breakfast treat—for bread?

Yup—I found more. First there was the Doughnut (more…)

September 27, 2012

I’m Angry at My Adult Daughter



In August my daughter Sandy did something that made me angry. And I may never forgive her.

Like most mothers, there have been times my child has made me angry.  Not often but it has happened. At least, I think it’s happened. I can’t recall an instance of being angry with her. She wasn’t perfect, but when something happened we dealt with it and moved on.

Sandy, now at the beginning of her fourth decade, is mother to an upcoming fifteen-year-old. They live around the corner from me, and we get along just fine. If I need something, she shares. If she needs something, I share. It’s a healthy relationship that’s becoming richer as we age. But as I am the older generation, I tell her I am better and wiser.

One of my para-professional interests is photography. When I worked at the Fay-West (Tribune-Review weekly insert) newspaper they had a feature photo on the front page. There were times I would trump my photographer/editor’s photo. He once told me that someone at the main office asked him who the new photographer was.  I’d like to think I’m a decent photographer.

I’ve taken thousands of pictures, although I haven’t entered them in competitions. This August I decided I would enter some in the Westmoreland Fair (Greensburg, Pennsylvania). Sandy had just returned from a vacation to Boston (which didn’t help the later situation any since we unhappily decided to postpone our New England trip this year) and decided to enter a photograph she took at Cheers Bar (again, this didn’t help because one of my favorite programs is Cheers and I’ve never been to the bar).

Since she had plans I offered to take her single photograph, along with my eight photographs, to the fair on entry day. However, I gave her a caveat: her “back and white thing” category photo wasn’t to trump my photo entered in that same category.

When my husband and I went to the fair several days later we checked out the photo competition. Of my eight photos I pulled a third place (black and white animals), two fifths (color animals and place), and one honorable mention (place).

And (more…)

September 25, 2012

How Volunteerism Impacted My Life



     My husband Monte and I recently spent a weekend in Lancaster, New York. On Sunday morning we decided to attend University Methodist Church on Bailey Avenue in Buffalo, not far from the State University of New York. Monte was a professor there when we met, and I was a non-traditional student. We attended this church our marriage.

     After the service we drove along Bailey Avenue, which passed between the University and the Veteran’s Hospital. During my years as a student at Kensington High School I volunteered there, spending my time washing test tubes at a sink at the end of a laboratory counter. I don’t recall how long I did this.

My next volunteer job was at the Roswell Park Memorial Institute patient library. I rolled a cart to patient rooms and helped the patient choose reading material. I also sat in the library to serve patrons, both patient, visitors, and staff.

This job coincided with the volunteer work I performed at the Kensington High School library, where I put into service my knowledge of the Dewey Decimal System and learned about library functions.

This volunteer work made a difference in my life.

In my junior year of high school I applied for a high school summer fellowship at Roswell Park Memorial Institute. My resume—of course, short, due to my short life—included these volunteer positions.

It also included a reference from Mr. Militello, my physics teacher (isn’t it ironic that I ended up wed to (more…)

September 23, 2012

Writing About Controversial Topics



Knowing how to write about topics that are controversial without offending people or getting into trouble is an essential skill for the contemporary writer. If you can write about these subject, you can write about everything.2

Controversial articles can be opinion, personal essay, persuasive. News reports are different in that they report happenings, and are not op-ed.

Writing helps clarify and/or alter our own viewpoints: I’ve often felt I could argue a point, but when I sit down to write about the issue, I discover my thinking is fuzzy

Why write about controversial topics? The issue needs to be addressed. Addressing it can be (more…)

September 20, 2012

Ancient Roses



In my novel it is May 1791. Madame Rosalie de Leval, the main character, arrived from France and explored Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Along the way her daughter Saraphine, about ten, spotted some flowers growing at the home of William and Ann Willings Bingham. What should these roses be?

Ancient roses are varieties of rose bushes that were known to be in existence prior to 1867 when modern hybridization techniques were introduced and began to gain momentum. These beautiful roses fell out of favor in the 20th century but are quickly regaining popularity as people discover that  old rose varieties are easy to grow and elegant.2

I discovered an Internet site listing old roses and made a list of those introduced to the United States prior to the 1790s—ten varieties. Next, I researched whether the roses bloomed in the Philadelphia gardening zone, if they roses bloomed in May, and if they required sun or shade..

All the roses on my list grow in zones 4-9.

My search for the zone qualification was surprisingly challenging. I recall once seeing a simple zone map with temperatures listed.. Now there are planting zones, climate zones, and hardiness zones.

Zone maps are tools that show where various permanent landscape plants can (more…)

September 18, 2012

First Impressions Are the Most Lasting



…first impressions are the most lasting. But be assured that I will put the best face on every appearance. No exertion of mine shall be wanting… — Gen. Henry Jackson wrote to Gen. Henry Knox in 17911

First impressions do count.

My family’s latest “house guest” keeps telling me I’m disorganized.

Who? Me?

Just because I promised my mother I’d send her something immediately and now it’s four days later and I’m just sending it (at least it’s not two weeks later.). Just because I cannot keep track who to pick up or take where and when? Just because I cannot keep up with the clutter, dishes, laundry and mail?2

Yes, first impressions do count.

This was clear when our family lived in Stone Mountain, an Atlanta, Georgia suburb. We lived there during the three years my husband Monte attended Emory University’s Candler School of Theology.

While thereI discovered that people in big cities make prejudgments. They do so, I believe, because they are bombarded with so many persons each day that they need a quick way to evaluate these contacts, which they seemed to do by asking three questions:

  • Where do you live?
  • What does your husband do?
  • What do you do?

After identifying the ins and outs of the prejudgment game I began testing my hypotheses that I could manipulate people’s response to me by the way I answered the questions. This was easy to do because there were multiple ways I could answer each question honestly.

Where do you live? Note: We lived in the only apartment complex on our suburban street.

  • We live on Central Drive. Eyes open, alert, inviting next question. (assumes we own our own home)
  • We live in  the Vineyard Apartments. Eyes look down, seeking for a way to escape

What does your husband do?

  • He’s a      retired college professor. Eyes open, alert, inviting next question
  • He’s a      student at Emory University. Eyes look down, looking for a way to escape.

What do you do?

  • I have a craft business (never mind that I usually cleared less than $100 a month). Eyes open, alert, inviting next question.
  • I’m a stay-at-home mother. Eyes look down,      looking for a way to escape.


Can you see where the game becomes fun? I began to mix and match my responses while watching the eyes of the questioner.

If I gave all the Eyes open, alert, inviting next question answers I was well accepted by the person or group. If I gave all the Eyes look down, looking for a way to escape answers I’d find myself standing alone in the crowd. And if I gave a mix of answers—my degree of acceptability as a person was equal to the number of Eyes open, alert, inviting next question answers.


Small towns operate differently. People are prejudiced in a different manner (that’s for another post). Relationships are usually very family-tied, and it’s difficult to break in. The responses to the above three questions are not quite as important as they are in a big city because fewer new people cross their paths.


Either way, Gen. Jackson makes a valid point: First impressions are the most lasting…

I was concerned about first impressions when my newly discovered sister P. offered to visit our family home, which, at the time, looked almost like the homes featured on the television program (more…)

September 16, 2012

Questions to Ask Before Resolving to Lose Weight



Summer is easing into autumn. The season change encourages changes in lifestyle—hopefully, changes for the best.

While sorting papers I came across an article on questions Weight Watchers advises a person to ask before resolving to lose weight, before making a commitment, in order to come to a realistic goal.

Do you realize that you must make long-term, not temporary, changes?

  • If I’m only losing weight to fit into my wedding dress for my forty-seventh anniversary, and am not concerned about after the event, I don’t have to be concerned about making permanent changes. However, if I want permanent weight loss, I need to make permanent changes.  I aim for permanent weight control.

Do you realize that you must make long-term, not temporary, changes in the way you eat?

  • There are not too many changes I need to make in my basic diet, but snacking…cutting      down on popcorn…and taking smaller portions of food are points to work on. I’m cognizant that Moderation, not deprivation, is the key.

Do you realize that you must make long-term, not temporary, changes in how active you are?

  • As for being active…I’m basically a sedentary person who must work (more…)

September 15, 2012

Nancy’s 70th Birthday: 9/15/2012


NANCYS 70th BIRTHDAY: 9/15/2012

Our birthdays are feathers in the broad wing of time. —Jean Paul Richter
 You can only perceive real beauty in a person as they get older. —Anouk Aimee

So you think seventy is old?

How would it feel to be 25,567?

How would it feel to be 613,608?

How would it feel to be (more…)

September 13, 2012

September 15, 1942: People, Events, TV, Music



I’m posting this piece in honor of my sister Nancy’s 70th birthday. Return on September 15th to read my tribute to her. 

There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will have truly defeated age. —Sophia Loren

Nancy, you might want to know…who else was born on YOUR day?

  • 1254 Marco Polo, explorer
  • 1613  Francois, duc de la Rochefoucauld, writer, born in Paris, France. When we cannot find contentment in ourselves it is useless to seek it elsewhere. (d.1680)
  • 1789  James Fenimore Cooper, American novelist, was born. He wrote The Pioneers and Last of the Mohicans., and said The press, like fire, is an excellent servant, but a terrible master. (d.1851)
  • 1857  William H. Taft, 27th United States president.
  • 1890 Agatha Christie, English writer of mystery novels, was born. She wrote (more…)

September 9, 2012

New Centerville’s 60th Farmers & Threshermens Jubilee



NEW HAMPSHIRE—Apple cider was named the official state drink in 2010 based on the suggestion of students from Jaffrey (pop. 5457). The state’s orchards produce several varieties of apples, particularly McIntosh, for cider.1

I wonder if New Hampshire is experiencing the same problems making cider as the New Centerville Fire Department did the first day of their 60th annual New Centerville Farmers & Threshermens Jubilee.

First, they had to double their prices…because the apples were twice as expensive this year than last year:

Second, their cider press broke down…a major part that cuts the apples on the top broke. It cannot be purchased—it needs to be made. Another part was also damaged:

One of the reasons my husband Monte and I wanted to attend the Jubilee was to indulge in its freshly pressed apple cider. However, all the cider made before the equipment breakdown was sold. We were out of luck.

In the days of yore (boy, does that make us sound old) we used to gather apples and take them to an Amish cider press. Ummm…we do miss that luxury.


Another reason we attended the jubilee was for Monte to participate in their apple pie contest. In the wee hours of the morning Monte arose to make an apple-rhubarb pie topped with meringue. It looked scrumptious, with the tips of its meringue peaks browned to perfection.

Aside from the unrest of safely transporting the pie and the lack of fresh pressed cider Monte and I spent a delightful day at the festival, which features farm machinery and celebrates the apple.


It was a gorgeous early autumn day, a robin’s egg blue hue accented by fluffy white clouds. We wandered over to visit the threshing machines, one of which was separating oats from chaff. Something must have been in the air, because the men were having difficulty keeping the threshing machine running.


…and chaff

Monte explained about the corn blower machine, which makes ensilage.

I shot pictures of wheels:

We wandered to the building where cider is made and ham and bean soup is sold. We sat at a picnic table to eat ours (I had the best deal when Monte separated out his ham and gave it to me—he’s vegetarian). We chatted with a couple from Ebensburg while we ate and she told us about an Ebensburg  restaurant (Costa’s), a quilt shop near Wyotech school in Blairsville (peacebypiece on the computer), and online (more…)

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