True stories with a twist!


Are you a gourmet? An oenophile? A coffee expert?

Gourmets describe food as, “Succulent,” ”Tender” or “Light.”

Oenophiles describe wine as, “Oaky,” “Fruity,” or Fragrant.images.jpeg

Coffee experts describe coffee as “Robust,” “Full Roasted, or “Bitter.”

But tea specialists don’t have a roster of adjectives for tea. Tea specialists don’t even have a name.

Lately, tea folks sound as if they are competing with wine experts.  images-2.jpeg

What there is to describe about tea? Tea is just tea. It’s what you drink with a teaspoon of honey when you have a sore throat! Are there really enough differences between brands that we need an entire new profession to describe them? As I look though the latest tea catalogue from a respected company, I am amazed to read the qualities regarding types of tea they offer.

Their new selection of teas from Columbia is unique because of “the rich volcanic soil in which they are grown,” states the company. It claims that the soil adds a special flavor to the tea. If volcanic soil could improve tea plants, I wonder if it would add a unique flavor to my Rutgers “Early Girl” tomatoes this summer? If so, where can I get some?

Would a new business importing volcanic ash from Columbia win support from any  “Shark Tank” investors?

Teas are often described as having “Good Mouth Feel.” My mouth feels fine, thank you, except for the canker sore I developed because of eating or drinking something too hot. Could have been the hot tea?

The catalogue goes on to discuss Bold tea. Is “Bold” a characteristic that leads to  “Aggressive?” Or “Powerful ?”

Or am I confusing tea tasting terminology with the “Me Too” movement?

After that possibility, it is clear that there is a need for comfort and calm. So the catalogue changes the pace and introduces a lovely fragrant tea with a toasty aroma. All I need is my slippers, a warm lap blanket and a fire in the fireplace and I’ll be ready to sip.

Don’t you love statements about flavors that “linger into the finish.” Are we discussing the Olympics again; which candidates finish, and who wins the gold?

All this talk about teas is very confusing and keeps mixing metaphors.

And I have never been able to detect characteristics such as “hints of spring flowers,” notes of pineapple and a hint of honey.” My taste buds are not sophisticated enough to appreciate these exotic qualities.

What is wrong with a good old fashioned cup of tea made from a Lipton teabag?

Mapuche Woman

It was a singular experience, unlike any I had ever had seen before. We were in Chile, and were invited to visit a Mapuche woman in her own home. Through an interpreter, she told us about the proud history of her people, and how they fared today.

At one time the tribe was isolated from other nearby cultures because of a wide river that separated them. Once a bridge was constructed the Mapuche were drawn into the educational system and wider cultural opportunities of the Chileans.

Our hostess, Sayen, (meaning “sweet woman”) welcomed us into her home. She was cheerful, friendly and warm, and, through a translator, spoke of her tribal history.2018-02-12 16.38.38Sayen, her husband and seven children lived in this one room structure, where they slept, cooked and ate their meals. Sayen spun cloth out of sheep’s wool, dyed it with berries and plant dyes, and wove the family’s clothes. Here you can see the dyed wool being stretched on the loom, the logs prepared to cook the next meal and the ponchos hanging on the wall. Children walked barefoot until they entered adolescence. The roof had to be replaced approximately once in twenty years. On top of the structure was an opening that drew smoke out of the dwelling.

Sayen invited group members to dress in Mapuche gear.2018-02-12 17.20.352018-02-12 17.25.17-1

Each Mapuche family was given its own piece of land for growing crops. As each child reached maturity he was also given a small plot of land for his family.

Medical care was administered by a local healer, who relied on herbal medicines and tales of healing techniques handed down from Mapuche history.

2018-02-12 17.30.25Here Sayen demonstrated the instrument used for tribal ceremonies. She blew through the ram’s horn attached to hosing covered with colorful woolen strands of thread, while drumming on a tautly pulled sheep skin secured to a basket.

The Mapuche fought the Spaniards for land. Mapuche fighters were renowned as brave and clever warriors, finding ways to ambush and defeat the enemy for many years.

Sayen invited us to a home prepared meal of herbal tea, fresh baked bread, a spread made of mashed beans, and a dessert of lemon pie. It was a feast!

We had a meaningful day, unlike any we had witnessed before. We all felt respect and affection for the Mapuche.

I’ve heard writers say
“It just wrote itself…”

and thought how absurd it sounded.

So when I started this post, meaning to tell you all about the exciting trip I just took, the words started pouring out. But they weren’t what I had planned. There were no words about the trip; only words about what happened at home while we we were away.

Emails began splashing across the ocean into the new environment we were experiencing,  forming stories with rather frightening scenerios.

Our house was the scene of an attempted break-in. The police answered the call sent by our alarm system and began investigating the crime scene. Meanwhile, we were thousands of miles away, full of fear and apprehension. “What is happening? What are they not telling us? Should we cut the trip short and go home immediately?”

No matter what we decided to do, it was impossible to get a flight out of Chile during the high season. We had no recourse but to stay where we were, seeing new sights, while constantly searching for new information from our mobile phones, and counting on the professionals back home to manage the crisis.

When we got home several days later, it was time to confront the truth.

This is what we found: luckily, the sliding glass door in the kitchen couldn’t be forced open. The wooden dowel we had previously placed on the track blocked the door from being pushed along the track to open it. Breaking the glass would set off the motion detector, so that option was impractical for criminals who prefer time outside of jail.                                                  2018-02-20 14.01.49.jpg                                                      Failing to gain access through the back kitchen door, the thieves moved to the front of the house and tried to pry the master bedroom window open. They were able to break the window lock 2018-02-20 14.02.50and open the window about two inches: nice going, thieves! But then the alarm went off and scared them away.

We are now in the midst of a police investigation while fielding questions from worried neighbors and learning whatever we can about how to increase security in our homes. Top suggestions so far are increased outdoor lighting and cameras focused on all entries to the house.

Has anyone found other deterrents to keep personal property safe when you are away?






It was just a month ago that everyone was talking about the delectable treats they looked forward to eating during the Holidays. Magazines were stuffed with recipes of all sorts. They tempted their readers to eat ingredients that nobody should put into their bodies: But Would. And Did. And now suffer from “Eaters Remorse.”

Now, in January, a mere one month after the holiday magazine articles appeared, magazines are reversing their stance. Instead of encouraging readers with new fattening recipes, they rant on about how to lose the weight THEY helped you put on by encouraging you to prepare those dishes. Most of us gained weight during the holidays and most are anxious: even desperate, to lose it.

Losing weight is the number one subject of magazine articles.Unknown-1 So many weight shedding techniques abound. I even heard of a hypnotist who advertised that in a few sessions he would help you lose weight by convincing your brain to believe that chocolate tastes like tobacco.

Everybody is getting into the act: there is the “This and This Diet,” the “That and That Diet,” and the “Dr. Such and Such Diet.” Diet experts pen articles, write books, appear on TV talk shows and drop from the sky! You know what I mean;images-1 you’ve seen them yourself.

But I have a technique that is different from the others, specially if you are health conscious in any small way.

Suppose you see a beautiful chocolate layer cake topped with a creamy, delicious looking icing. What its your first reaction? Is it “Yum Yum,” or “No No?” Rather than thinking how marvelous the cake would taste, I propose that you think of the ingredients that go into that cake. Consider what you are willing to put into your body. Your poor, hard working, unappreciated body.

Ask yourself “Would I take a whole stick of butter out of the refrigerator, unwrap it, and gobble it down? Would I pour a cup or two of sugar into a large mug and swallow every bit of it? Maybe not, but that’s what you’re doing if you eat that cake. Now when I see a tempting cake I mentally reconstruct its ingredients and think of them one at a time.

Somehow the cake no longer appeals.

The big advantage of my diet is that you don’t feel deprived. That’s because YOU, not somebody else, made the decision to forego the cake. You chose not to eat it because the individual ingredients didn’t appeal to you, even though you know that the final product tastes so good.

If you like my concept for making cake seem to be unappetizing, just wait until you hear my plan for de-appetizing pot roast!

The Turner Classic Movie channel delights and entertains with memories of old favorite movie stars and their films. I had forgotten some of the films and was delighted to rediscover them.

Unknown-1.jpegBut it is surprising to watch some of those films and realize that “this scene would never work today!” Everything seems to be topsy-turvy.  Things that were once  considered risqué are now accepted as commonplace. Things that once shocked people are no longer shock-worthy. We are accustomed to scenes that could never have been shown a few decades ago.

But some of the tables have been turned. Movies that seemed innocent back as recent as the fifties would be considered practically obscene by the today’s moral standards.

“Father Is A Bachelor,” starring William Holden, is a film from 1950. Holden plays a shiftless man who comes upon a family of five children living alone in a cabin along the Mississippi River. We later learn that their parents were killed in a steamboat accident. Holden’s character befriends the children, who ask him to stay. He agrees to remain for a short time. The youngest child, a girl of about five, sits on his lap and cuddles up. (Oh no; that poor innocent child!) Then she asks him to put her to bed! (uh oh: feeling uncomfortable.) He takes her to her bed (eek: goose bumps rising) and undresses her (grit your teeth!) to prepare her for bedtime. She tells Holden that she has only one dress and asks him to make her a new one. He agrees, and with the four brothers watching, Holden spreads a bolt of cloth on the floor. He then carries the sleeping girl out of her bed and lies her atop the cloth. He begins to cut a pattern around her body. When he gets to her legs he lifts one leg up (eek: violated privacy) and cuts the fabric under the leg. Then he cuts the fabric farther and lifts the other leg to continue cutting the dress under her body (That pervert!).

Of course Holden turns out to have a heart of gold. He pawns his few belongings to buy the children food and supplies to survive alone in the cabin.


I was surprised by my reaction. I must be brainwashed by current events and claims of innocent women being abused by powerful men. But scenes with the child and William Holden that would have seemed “cute” at one time, seemed seedy and unscrupulous by today’s standards. How fickle the public eye is; it seems so easy to turn an entire generation. One decade’s innocence is the next decade’s abuse.







My husband, a confirmed fish hobbyist, is taking off to go to an aquarium store six towns away that has just received a shipment of the rarest collection of aquatic animals of all. So I tag along, without his enthusiasm, but with the hope of finding something interesting to look at. And did I ever! Here is the shop’s prize tank. It was assembled for the customers in the hope that they will be unable to resist setting up a tank of their own.IMG_1306.jpg As I wander through the aisles I see some amazing varieties of fish: it’s like being on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Or in the public aquarium in Monterey, California. I saw a school of yellow tangs breezing by in all their colorful glory.IMG_1302.jpgThe Amazon River Ray that I’ve heard so much about was given its own tank:IMG_1323.jpgThen a regal Conspiculatum Angelfish from Australia swam by calmly, observing everything in it’s kingdom. This fish so very rare! IMG_1322.jpgThe funniest water creature I saw is the cowfish. He wears his skeleton on the outside of his body instead of the inside, where his tankmates wear their’s. This display tells it’s own story of nature’s own underwater kingdom.IMG_1290Another oddball creature is the Boxfish, who can inflate his body into a spiky balloon to keep his enemies from devouring him for dinner.IMG_1312.jpgThe venture to the aquarium was like scuba diving in a sea of beauty.

As much as I love watching old movies, the language that characters use sounds stultifying and dated. Many of the old themes are still viable in our modern world, but the way they are presented grates on the ears.

When an actress says, “Oh, dahling, this is just swell,” We are back in the 1930’s, and  paying more attention to the way she speaks than to the story.

And why does everyone in those old films speak with English accents? When did it become acceptable to sound like an American?

In the 1940’s, if your friend had an idea with which you disagreed, you might say, “You’re all wet.” If he feels wrongfully accused; he had a “Bum Wrap!” But if he’s a coward he is  “chicken.”

By the 50’s everything worthwhile was “cool!” Someone who was very uncool was a “drip.” If that drip makes you angry he was “cruising for a bruising.” Everything that is alright was “copacetic.”  “You dig?” (understand?)

In the 1960s you were told to “chill:” calm down. Have fun and it was “a gas!” If it wasn’t fun, it was a “drag.”

When something in the 70’s was cool or awesome it was “far out!” A really cool person was a “cool cat.”

Michael Jackson turned the 80’s upside down, and declared that “bad” meant “good.” And so on and on we go.

images-2.jpegA college professor of mine studied the evolution of language, and taught us that language was always changing. That’s why dictionaries periodically revise their current editions.

So I’d better be careful about what message I leave you with. Although I offer you a sincere wish for a beautiful week ahead, I’m afraid that by the time your read it, I might be in the “hoosegow”(slang, 1909), for saying it.

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