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Sue Spitulnik

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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family

Comfort Food

 Junk foods by definition are usually high in fats, sugars, salt and calories and contain very little nutritional value. That makes me wonder why we like them so much. For me, it is because the salt and sugar put my taste buds into over drive and I think I’m being comforted, except my hips and belly hang on to that comfort for all the world to see! Continue reading “Comfort Food”

I Love Onions

It’s National Onion Rings Day. One of my best memories of onions in my youth came about when I stayed overnight with my oldest sister and her new husband. I think I was eleven. People did a lot more cooking at home back then. We got some really big sweet onions at the grocery store. G. cut them into 3/4 inch slices, dipped them in batter and fried them in a single layer in an electric frying pan that held boiling oil. They were soooo good. The onion still had lots of flavor, the batter was light, and we ate them as each batch was ready. It was a long slow process, but doing it together and getting our fill is part of why it’s so memorable. I also remember thinking it was a lot of work and quite messy.

These days when you order onion rings in a restaurant, they are mostly breading, very little onion and cooked to death. I guess I’ll never find a ring that lives up to the memory of the home made ones I shared with my sister.

I have always been an onion lover. There is a family story that my father went to get the box of onion sets to plant the garden when I was four and the box was gone. He wasn’t happy. The explanation goes, my babysitter had peeled them and I had eaten them all. That I don’t remember doing, but I wouldn’t doubt it.

I attended my 25th high school reunion and one of my classmates said to me, “You know what I remember about you? Onion sandwiches.” She was right. I ate an onion sandwich most days before I got on the bus to go to the afternoon session of kindergarten. I wonder if all the onions I have eaten have helped me stay healthy over the years.

Another time I ate all the onions was when I had lunch out with my aunt. There was a jar of chopped onions on every table because it was summer and people ate them like relish on their hot dogs and burgers. This particular jar was so sweet with just the right amount of tang, that my aunt and I ate them with a spoon. We were surprised when at the end of the meal, the jar was empty. We felt a little guilty.

If you love onions like I do may I suggest you make your own onion rings at least once. While eating them picture the idolized big sister making them for her little sister. I bet they’ll be the best you have ever had.

You Choose Each Other

Today is National Best Friends Day. What do you consider a best friend? My definition includes things like loyal, accepting, someone I could travel with, someone to share secrets with and best of all, you choose each other because it’s fun and comfortable to spend time together. If your best friend is also a blood relative, you are even luckier.

I am very fortunate. I have best friends in different aspects of my life. I have M.B. who I went all through school with and have stayed in close contact with to this day. We know each others personal life secrets and don’t tell. I have 90-year-old V.B. and 76-year-old K.K. who are older women I can bounce life’s challenges off; they have more experience than I do and can share different view points with me. I have my sewing buddies; three ladies who had very similar childhoods to mine. We talk about current events, our families, and quilting— mostly quilting. We laugh a lot together. I also have a lady friend, J.G., who can often explain other people’s actions to me. And then I have my Blog supporters, N.G., K.P., and R.C.. I’ve never met R.C. but she has a blog and is an author and baker. I’m sure if we had a chance to share a cup of tea or coffee, we could talk for hours about our like interests and hug each other at the end of our visit. I also have three older sisters who I am close to. We can actually travel together and enjoy it. I am truly blessed to have so many close female friends. And let’s not leave out my children, who I can complain to and share the joy of the milestones we all accomplish.

The list wouldn’t be complete without including my husband. When we first met he said, “I don’t care about your past. I am interested in the person you have become because of it.” He has always stuck to that, never questioning or berating me for mistakes or decisions I made before I met him. He is my most loyal supporter and because of his acceptance I have been able to grow as a person. He deserves my trust and loyalty because he treats me the way I need to be treated, not the way he thinks I should be and he let’s me be me.

As I write, or sew, or cook, I have another best friend. My cat, Useless. He is my constant companion, will listen to anything I have to say, warms my lap while I nap or read, and doesn’t argue. He can be a pain about wanting to go out and come back in so many times in an evening, but I never come home to an empty house with him here to greet me. He has a bed in my sewing studio and shares my chair with me, or takes it over is more like it. He’s fourteen now and starting to show his age. That makes me sad.

Today would be a good day to tell your best friend(s) how much they mean to you. Life sure would be empty if we didn’t have our favorite humans to share it with.

 

 

Can You Yo-Yo?

Today is National Yo-Yo Day. It is believed that the yo-yo was first invented in ancient Greece because there is a Greek vase painting, from 500 BC, that shows a boy playing with one.  It was made popular in America when Donald F. Duncan, Sr. manufactured the Duncan Yo-Yo in the early 1900s. It’s name was first registered as a trademark in 1932. In 1999, the Duncan Yo-Yo was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong in Rochester, New York and there is a National Yo-Yo Museum in Chico, California.

Today is the perfect day to get out your yo-yos and try your hand at The Sleeper, Walk the Dog, Shooting the Moon, Around the World or Hop the Fence. For those of you that don’t know, those are specific moves you can do with a yo-yo. I never mastered any of them. I was lucky if I could get the disc to roll back up the string at least once. Even though there was always a yo-yo in the toy cupboard, I don’t recall anyone in my family being good at making it do what they wanted.

According to the National Day of Calendar, this day was founded in 1990 in Arcade, NY by Daniel Volk, the date of Donald F. Duncan’s birth in 1892. Volk once worked for Duncan Toy Company as a talented yo-yo demonstrator from 1976-1978, touring the western part of the United States. As a result, he had the opportunity to impart some of his yo-yoing wisdom to two talented comedians, The Smothers Brothers. In conjunction with National Yo-Yo Day, the Hummingbird Toy Company produced the first of several Smothers Brothers brand yo-yos.

To enjoy some real yo-yo talent, you can go to You-Tube and search for The Smothers Brothers Yo-Yo man videos. There are a few good ones. And if you are too young to remember the Smothers Brothers, they will be a treat to watch for a few minutes. If you are trying to come up with a vacation spot to do something different, I highly recommend The Strong, a museum in my area where you can spend more than a few hours, no matter what age you are.

Use Sunscreen

It’s National Don’t Fry Day. This is another title that got me. I expected something about cooking, good thing I know enough to read further. It’s also National Heat Awareness Day so the days go hand-in-hand. In western New York state this is the long-awaited weekend people go to the lake to open up their summer cottages. If Mother Nature co-operates, the weekend is warm or hot, lots of cobwebs disappear, the beds are made, picnics happen and summer neighbors see their friends.

I remember doing this as a kid. I would sit in the un-air conditioned school room with the sweat dripping under my arms from about the first of May. We couldn’t wait to go to the lake. My summer was spent making a labyrinth of roads on the pebbly beach to “drive” trucks and construction equipment toys around. (We sifted the sand from the pebbles in order to get a smooth surface to make the roads.) We spent hours in the lake, trying to swim above the weeds that felt like monsters trying to grab our legs. We also didn’t step on the muddy lake bottom if possible because we were sure to come out with a leach/bloodsucker attached to our foot. Thinking about picking one off still makes me cringe. Our cottage had no running water or indoor plumbing. There was a pump in the kitchen to get water for washing and cooking and a two-hole outhouse in the woods that I hated to walk to in the dark.  We carried drinking water in jugs from home and did the laundry at a laundromat. Those were the days! Fun for me as a kid, a lot of work for my mother, though I didn’t know it at the time.

I don’t remember using sunscreen as I was never one to get a sunburn. I do remember being so darkly tanned my heritage could be questioned. Thinking back, the city kids tended to use sunscreen, us country kids couldn’t be bothered. I’m lucky to have the gene for good skin. All the hours in the sun haven’t affected my appearance and I’ve been lucky to never have a skin cancer scare. I know other people who have not been so fortunate.

This is the start of Memorial Day weekend in the U. S.. Please take a moment to remember all the fallen military that gave their lives for our country. Freedom isn’t free. And please, if you are going to be out in the sun, do yourself a favor and use sunscreen. Skin cancer kills a lot of people.

 

I’ll Claim Alan

It’s brother’s day. I’m not sure why they picked the picture above. I would have picked a bunch of young people sitting around a picnic table so everyone could identify with it. I envy all of you that have a brother because I didn’t. Sisters are fine, but you can’t go to them and ask how a male thinks. I claimed my friend Mimi’s brother, Alan, as my own. I used to stay overnight at their house and Alan and I would have talks. When I got stressed in school, it was him who I sought out because he knew what to say to unruffle my feathers. When I had questions about other guys, I went to Alan. He would always take time for me.

I have a young man in my life who I call my  bonus-son. The definition of that is someone I claim as a son, but didn’t have to give birth to. I have decided it would be all right to call Alan my bonus-brother; a male I could depend on like a brother and who cared about me like a sister. He was even better than a brother because he never tried to scare me with a snake, put a frog in my bed or steal my Easter candy. He was a really good friend and confidant. Unfortunately Alan died way too young, so I have been without him for the last 17 years. His sister and I still have lunch together once a month, she remains my most trusted secret-keeper, even as old as we now are, both over 60.

I hope you have siblings in your life that you can depend on and talk to. I know sometimes friends are better than siblings so I hope you have a special few you are close to. Brothers and sisters, in lots of cases, can make life so much easier to deal with.

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