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Sue Spitulnik

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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Drinks

Make Mine Decaf

Coffee has been around a long time. The earliest evidence of it appears in the middle of the 15th century in the Sufi monasteries around Mokha in Yemen.  It was there coffee seeds were first roasted and brewed. Yemeni traders brought coffee back to their homeland from Ethiopia and began to cultivate the seed. Continue reading “Make Mine Decaf”

Let’s Party

If you look at the National Day of Calendar for today it will let you know you should not be at work, you should be at a party. It is National Chili Dog Day, National Scotch Day, National Refreshment Day, National Crème Brulee Day, and National New Jersey Day, hence the party should be on the Jersey shore.  Wouldn’t that be fun, to have the time and money to drop everything and head to the Atlantic Ocean because a calendar gives you the idea to do so. I’ve got the time, who has the money? Continue reading “Let’s Party”

Better When Shared

It’s National Have a Coke Day. If you haven’t had one in a while, or if you live in one of those cities that has added a huge tax to a sugary drink, I suggest you live a little today and have one for old times sake.

When I was a kid, my girlfriends and I would collect some change, or empty pop bottles and go to the corner store to buy some Cokes and a bag of M&M’s. At the time, a Coke, in a bottle, was 10 cents, plus 2 cents deposit. I think a bag of M&M’s was 5 cents. We had to go to the kitchen to open the Cokes with a bottle opener. Then we would go out and sit on the porch to split the M&M’s and drop them one by one in the pop bottle. You couldn’t do it quickly, because each one made the drink fizz. Then we would swish the bottle until all the color had come off the M&M’s. The drink was now a muddy color and not very cold but what a treat. We ate the chocolate last, tipping the bottles upside down into our mouths and thumping on the end to get the morsels to fall. No one ever chipped a tooth, but I think that was just luck.

I don’t think it would be near the fun today because Coke now comes in cans or plastic with screw-off tops. Back then it was a process, a labor of love almost. Sometimes my mother or sisters would see our concoction and with a sneer, ask what we were drinking. I miss the innocence of childhood when such little things made us giggle. I think I would do it even today if my grandson joined me. But he’s a thinker. I can hear him saying, “Grandma, why would you do that?” I guess I won’t ask him if he wants to.

Now days I have Coke in the fridge as a mixer for my adult beverages. I like my whiskey and bourbon mixed with Coke. I know, it’s fattening, but the beverage just doesn’t taste the same mixed with anything else and by itself it is too strong and doesn’t last near as long.

Whether a child putting chocolate in a Coke, or as an adult, adding some adult beverage, it always seems to taste better when shared with a friend.

Unmanly?

It’s National Skip the Straw Day. My husband rarely uses a straw. When we first met, I was working part-time at a local restaurant. One of the other servers said to him, “I never date a guy that uses a straw. It’s so unmanly, and childish.” He has never forgotten that statement. To this day, when he picks up a straw to open, he says, “Sorry, Chrissy.”

This designation has some interesting history.  The Coral Keepers, students at Whitehall Middle School in Whitehall, MI, along with their advisor, Susan Tate, founded National Skip the Straw Day in 2017 to encourage Americans to give up the straw habit and help spread awareness about the damage caused by disposable plastics.

If Marvin Stone (the inventor of the first paper straw in 1888) were alive today, he might be shocked to know of the five large areas of the ocean, called gyres, where plastic garbage collects. The sea’s currents create vortexes trapping plastics, and in the collection are plastic drinking straws.

Straws and other plastics cause harm to marine life in many ways.  Birds, fish and other sea life consume plastics accidentally or when they mistake it for food. Plastics don’t biodegrade.  They break down into smaller and finer, microscopic pieces. When plastics break down, they produce bisphenol A (BPA) which interferes with reproductive systems in marine life. It also produces styrene monomer which is a suspected carcinogen.

According to the National Park Service, Americans use 500 million drinking straws daily! So, on National Skip the Straw Day that’s potentially 500 million fewer straws that don’t end up in landfills or the ocean.

I am spending the day with a quilting friend. We will be visiting four quilt shops, and having lunch some place new.  I’ll be sure to skip using the straw in my drink.

 

Tie One On

Any one that likes to imbibe,  enjoy a happy hour with co-workers or friends or celebrate the start of the long holiday season knows the day before Thanksgiving is the “best drinking day of the year.” Why? Because very few people get up to an alarm on Thanksgiving. Well, if you are driving to Grandma’s you might, but it’s generally only the person putting the turkey in the oven early in the morning (and fixing the rest of the meal, and cleaning the house, and bearing the weight of the day) that has any real responsibility. If you are lucky enough to not be the one in charge of cooking, then why not tie one on, just because you can. Let loose of the stress even before it happens!

Oh wait! Look at the picture! This day is actually about tying on an apron because you are the cook. Darn, I was ready to call my husband and tell him I would meet him out for a cocktail or two.

On any regular week-day, my husband says he can tell when something serious is going on in our kitchen because I have an apron on when he gets home. If I am making a big meal, or fancy desert and moving quickly, I like to wear an apron to preserve my clothing. As was my mother’s habit, I take it off before I sit down at the table, and then of course I dribble something down the front of me. But, a lady never wears an apron to the table.

I have four aprons that I made myself so I can wear the one that matches my outfit….usually blue jeans and a blouse. Like I really need to match….I guess I’m hoping one day my daughter or daughter-in-law will ask if they can wear one. That probably won’t happen either because I have taught them they don’t have to help. I usually do most of the cooking ahead if the family is going to be here, just so I can visit while they are here. My husband helps me clean up the mess when everyone goes home. Our system works well for us.

Whatever role you play in your holiday meals, enjoy yourself and Tie One On.

VFW or Coffee? Why Not Both?

September 29, is National VFW Day and National Coffee Day.  It was hard to choose which to write about, so I decided to do a little of both.

The VFW was established on September 29, 1899, by a group of veterans from the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection. It has since grown to be the nation’s largest group of combat veterans. They continue “to honor the dead by helping the living.” The VFW promote patriotism, good will and youth scholarships. They also provide military assistance and community service programs, promote youth activities and volunteer many hours in their local communities.

VFW membership since its inception has been instrumental in the establishment of the Veterans Administration, the creation of the national cemetery system and passage of the GI Bill. Through the VFW, veterans honor veterans and serve their communities.  On National VFW Day, take a moment to recognize all the VFW does in your community.

I borrowed those two paragraphs from the National Day of calendar because I wanted to share the background of the organization and what it does.  The one common statement I keep hearing in the Veteran’s Writing group I attend is that the military is a brotherhood, in combat you take care of the guy next to you because you have to and he does the same for you.  People that have never served will never understand that brotherhood and when a military person leaves service that is often what they miss most, someone they can talk to that “gets it.”  The VFW provides that unified group working together for the good of others.  The American Legion is another brotherhood of veterans.  They have my utmost respect and you can bet they all stand at attention when the National Anthem is played!

On to coffee…before someone doth protest….American’s are obsessed with coffee, why do you think we have a Starbuck’s, Dunkin Donut’s, and Tim Horton’s on  every other corner. And we all know about McDonald’s extra hot coffee.  Personally, I make mine at home and take it with me.  I’d rather spend five dollars on a single serving of ice cream.  We all have our priorities.

May I suggest, to celebrate VFW Day and Coffee Day, you share a cuppa with a vet and say, thank you.

 

Share A Cold One

In my life, there are a lot of beer drinkers.  A greeting when we visit someone, or they visit our house, is, “Ya wann’ beer?”  Our second fridge in the garage has a few kinds of beer in it.  Some of the new exotic stuff for my daughter and good old-fashioned Budweiser for my husband.  My son has just switched to Miller, and to do away with gluten I have switched to hard cider.  There’s nothing better on a hot steamy day, than a cold refreshing long neck. (For you non beer drinkers, that term refers to the neck on the bottle.)

When my husband and I first started dating, he and his co-workers went our for Friday happy hour without fail.  Sometimes there were just six of us, other times there would be close to twenty.  I would start watching the clock at my job, waiting for the phone call to tell me where everyone was meeting.  That was fifteen years ago and I can still tell you some of the exact conversations that took place and what we laughed about.  The crowd dwindled when one of the young ladies got pregnant, a couple guys decided to loose weight, and others changed jobs. We miss those days, and the closeness of that group.  We have a reunion twice a year just to stay in touch.

We have some very close friends and relatives that have had the opportunity to travel Europe and parts of Asia.  The young men involved rate the countries according to how well they like the beer.  I haven’t heard much about food except the meals in Germany.

My grade school chum and I get together for lunch about every three weeks.  We don’t sit in a chain restaurant with a cup of coffee, we sit in a bar, eat chicken wings or burgers and drink beer.  Yes, there is now gluten-free beer.  We have a lot of laughs, we tell each other our secrets, new and old (which no one else can hear over the music) and we forget our responsibilities for awhile.  We talk about current events and the family members we have buried.  We’ve known each other a long time, she’s my best friend.

And don’t forget it’s football season.  Who in their right mind would watch a football game without a cold beer to go along with the snacks.  I know, a lot of people would, but generally not in my realm.  Go Bills!  (We never lose hope!)

Don’t Miss the Party

Do you remember the very first company Christmas Party you went to?  The one you bought a fancy dress for, also got a new haircut or style, then filed and polished your nails the day before and refused to do anything that might break one.  The one that made you think you were so grown up and mature.  This happened for me when I was a senior in high school.  My “sweetheart” had graduated the year before and was working locally until his draft number came up.

A couple of days before the party he got a bad cold.  Of course he still went to work, but he decided he was too sick to go to the party because he was coughing all the time and had a slight fever.  I had been waiting for that party for over a month and I was devastated by his decision.  Luckily his boss lived across the street from me.  (And his boss’s daughter was a very close friend.)  I went to the neighbors to complain and share my misery.

The boss, Don, was a very understanding man with five kids of his own.  He was also very practical.  His reasoning we should still go to the party went something like this.  “Don’t you still have to eat?  Don’t people sometimes have a little brandy when they have a cold? Don’t a lot of cough drops taste like mint?”  Yes was the answer to all three questions.  The next instruction was, “You tell your boyfriend all of those things, then tell him to drink Stingers at the party.  I’m sure he’ll feel better.”  I had to ask what a Stinger was.  He explained it was a drink made with brandy and crème de menthe.

I went home to make the phone call that included the information and some begging.  We went to the party.  I found out it was just a bunch of people standing around talking, most of whom I didn’t know.  I don’t remember any details about the food or door prizes, but I remember Stingers are a great aid for the common cold.

Footnote: the legal age to consume liquor was 18 at the time in New York state.

It’s Never Too Late to Start

September 7th has five National Days attached to it so we’ll have a little fun, then learn that it’s never too late to start.

It’s Neither Snow, Nor Rain Day referring to having our mail delivered in all sorts of weather. Be appreciative!  After a long cold, rainy day your mail carrier might go to his/her local bar to warm up with some hot Acorn Squash (Day) soup, order a Salami (Day) sandwich, then cool the tongue with a Beer (Lover’s Day).  I know, silly, but you have to admit, it works!  Sort of!  And I know Facebook will probably only recognize the Beer part; maybe the mail carrier.

So let’s look at Grandma Moses;

Anna Mary Robertson Moses (September 7, 1860 – December 13, 1961) is an example to us all of an individual who successfully began a career in the arts at an advanced age. A renowned American folk artist, Grandma Moses first started painting in her 70s after arthritis made it difficult to embroider, her original medium.

Grandma Moses’ exhibitions were so popular during the 1950s that they broke attendance records all over the world.

“A cultural icon, the spry, productive nonagenarian was continually cited as an inspiration for housewives, widows, and retirees. Her images of America’s rural past were transferred to curtains, dresses, cookie jars, and dinnerware, and used to pitch cigarettes, cameras, lipstick and instant coffee.”

  • 1950 – Cited as one of the five most newsworthy women.
  • 1951 – Honored as Woman of the Year by the National Association of House Dress Manufacturers.
  • Age 88 – Mademoiselle Magazine named her “Young Woman of the Year.”
  • Awarded the first honorary doctorate from Philadelphia’s Moore College of Art.
  • 1969 – A United States commemorative stamp was issued in her honor.
  • 2006 – Her work Sugaring Off (1943) became her highest selling work at US $1.2 million.  Sugaring Off was a prime example of the simple rural scenes for which she was well-known.
  • Grandma Moses’ painting, Fourth of July, was given, by Otto Kallir, to the White House where it still hangs today.

g-m-4th

Did you catch that?  She started painting at age 70, and was “Young Woman of the Year” at age 88.  We should be so lucky!

I admire the bloggers I have contact with, some of them are under 30.  I didn’t have enough life experience to write at that age.  Like I said above, it’s never too late to start.

 

 

National Root Beer Float Day

This is another one of those days that there were too many subjects I could write about.   So we’ll start with a couple of sentences enveloping the topics.

After playing disc golf, wiggle your toes through a lunch of a Jamaican Patty with mustard on it while drinking a root beer float.  Then, freshen your breath so you can enjoy a glass of mead later.

It’s interesting when I look at the National Day of ………calendar.  Many of these days have been designated for less than twenty years.  They were created to bring awareness to a specific thing by a specific group; often times for advertising purposes.  Fresh breath is about keeping your teeth/mouth clean.  Mustard Day is an annual festival in Middleton, Wisconsin, where the mustard museum is.  The profits from the festival help organizations in that town.  And just so you know, a Jamaican would probably never put mustard on a meat pastry, but it sounded good in the sentence.  We have a Jamaican friend that owns a roofing business near us.  When he stops into the office my husband works at, he often brings patties.  We enjoy them as a treat for supper.

Disc golf is new on the scene.  One of our cousin’s adult sons is very into this type of fun exercise.  During the seven feet of snow in Boston a couple of years ago, he posted pictures on Facebook of himself and friends throwing Frisbees into garbage cans, from a good distance of course.  They could see no reason to stay indoors when there was a game to be played outdoors.  I hope they had a warm fireplace to wiggle their toes in front of afterwards.  And knowing them there was a little alcohol to celebrate with.  That’s where the mead fits in.  “Mead has been known to be called the “ancestor of all fermented drinks.”

So what happened to the root beer float?  If you are as old as I am, you remember the car hop days when servers on roller skates brought your burger (with mustard), fries, and root beer float to you on a tray that hooked onto your car when the window was rolled down.  Yes, we rolled the window down with a crank handle.  I’m not sure why the root beer float is more common, than say, a coke float, but it is in my neck of the woods.  I find it refreshing, especially on a hot summer day.

National Scotch Day

Scotch whisky, often simply called Scotch, is malt whisky or grain whisky made in Scotland. Scotch whisky must be made in a manner specified by law.  Scotch whisky was originally made from malted barley. Commercial distilleries began introducing whisky made from wheat and rye in the late 18th century. Scotch whisky is divided into five distinct categories: single malt Scotch whisky, single grain Scotch whisky, blended malt Scotch whisky (formerly called “vatted malt” or “pure malt”), blended grain Scotch whisky, and blended Scotch whisky.

All Scotch whisky must be aged in oak barrels for at least three years. Any age statement on a bottle of Scotch whisky, expressed in numerical form, must reflect the age of the youngest whisky used to produce that product. A whisky with an age statement is known as guaranteed-age whisky.

The first written mention of Scotch whisky is in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, 1495. A friar named John Cor was the distiller at Lindores Abbey in the Kingdom of Fife.

Many Scotch whisky drinkers will refer to a unit for drinking as a dram.  Source -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotch_whisky

I included the above because it was information I did not know.  Now to the personal part.

I’m sure you know someone who is not much of a conversationalist until they have had a few drinks.  I’ve never been accused of not having anything to say, but a couple of drinks reduces my fear factor so I might be more apt to divulge inner feelings.

I know lots of people who like to do tastings of Scotch, all the different types listed above.  I also know people that like a Scotch that is so oaky it tastes like you just chewed on the wood itself.  Neither of those apply to me.  I’m much happier with bourbon.

I do have Scott blood.  My great-grandmother was a McIntryre from Perthshire, Scotland.  When I lived in England in the ’70’s I had a beautiful Royal Stewart Tartan coat.  I was stopped on the street one day and asked if I had the legal bloodline to wear it.  That was actually still a valid question at that time.  I happily told the person, “In fact I do!”  My immediate response sent them on their way.  I held my head high whenever I wore that coat.  I was sorry when I wore through the wool.

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