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Susan Sleggs

Reflective observations to inspire conversation

Make it Hearty

My husband has quite ordering lasagna in a restaurant because he likes mine so well no others measure up. I take that as a very high compliment. I remember the first time I served it to him. His eyes lit up, he took another bite, and said something like, “I’ve never had lasagna like this before.”  Continue reading “Make it Hearty”

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”

My Favorite Pastime

Brooke's finished

Once again the National Day of Calendar gave me the opportunity to talk about what I want. I finished this t-shirt quilt yesterday. It is my great-niece’s high school graduation gift. It fits nicely into this blog post because I had to thread and rethread the needle on my new mid-arm quilting machine (still free-motion) because it was skipping stitches and the thread kept breaking.  Continue reading “My Favorite Pastime”

Convenience?

Do you use a Drive-Thru when you go for fast food? And do you see it as a convenience or think people that use it are too lazy to get out of their cars? Either way, I won’t judge you. My admission is, I’m not partial to them because I have a tendency to drop my change, or squeeze the soda out of the top of the container, or they get my altered order incorrect and I have to go inside anyway. Actually, even though I love food, I rarely buy the type of fast food that has a drive-thru window. I like to be waited on! Continue reading “Convenience?”

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”

Space Travel

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon’s surface and collected dirt and rocks to bring back to earth while Michael Collins remained in orbit in the mother ship. If you weren’t alive at the time, think about that for a minute. The event is called,  “…the single greatest technological achievement of all time.” Continue reading “Space Travel”

Just Fish Eggs

In simple terms, caviar is Sturgeon fish eggs.  There are several species of Sturgeon fish.  As a result, the caviar produced varies in colors depending on the species.  Caviar is full of protein and vitamins making the delicacy a healthy meal.  The United States was the leading distributor of caviar around the year 1900 producing over 600 tons a year. However, due to the over harvesting of Sturgeon fish for the caviar, a ban was put in place to protect the Sturgeon from becoming extinct.  The population has never recovered sufficiently since the ban, resulting in caviar’s continued status as a luxury item.  (Courtesy-National Day of Calendar)

When I was a kid we had a place on one of the Finger Lakes in New York state. We often ate pan fish, sun-fish and perch, that we caught ourselves. My three older sisters and I learned to clean the fish at an early age. We were taught to carefully slice open the fish to remove the innards and retrieve any egg sacks. The girl who found the egg sack had first dibs on eating it once Dad fried it. We rarely gave one up, unless Mom wanted it. She called it the caviar of the poor.

About ten years ago I went to a very posh wedding in Boston. The tables had eight layers of table cloths and it was hard to pull your chair up to the table because there was so much fabric in the way. How do I know? To my husbands chagrin, I leaned down and counted them. I’m a fabric nut. The hors d’oeuvre table had black caviar on it. Most people, who had never even tried it, stuck their nose up, said “Fish-eggs,” and walked away. I had at least three bites and enjoyed them tremendously. This reception was a total waste of money in my opinion, I would have preferred to have had the cash to put down on a house, but then I’m way to practical for my own good. Side note; the couple is still married and they have four children.

For fun I looked up the price of caviar. You can get a can about the size of a snuff can for anywhere from $400.00 to $1200.00 depending on the type of sturgeon and where it is caught. Thank you, no, I’ll stick to my pan fish type and enjoy every little tiny egg with no salt added.

 

 

Picture-words

Emoji, a Japanese expression, roughly means “picture word” and was developed in 1990 by Shigetaka Kurita. While working for NTT Docomo, a Japanese telecom company, Kurita designed these picture words as a feature on their pagers to make them more appealing to teens. When Apple released the first iPhone in 2007, an emoji keyboard was embedded to nab the Japanese market. While not intended for U.S. users to find, they did and quickly figured out how to use it. (Information from National Day of Calendar)

The last line of the above paragraph gives me pause. “Emojis were not intended for U.S. users to find”. Really? Did they think we wouldn’t understand them or what? If you think about it, humans have been using emojis without calling them that for a very long time. There is a picture floating around Facebook comparing the little guys to hieroglyphics. But I’m thinking more about the symbols that denote a bathroom, you know, one has on a skirt and one has on pants. Or perhaps a deer or duck crossing sign on a road. We even understand the taxi-stand sign in a city. What’s that old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words”. I know I’ve been drawing smiley faces on things for as long as I can remember. When I look at the above picture, it makes me wonder how long the dollar sign has been in use.

I like to use emojis when I text. They add a bit of humor, or love, or emotion as they were intended. The thumbs-up and hearts are the ones I use most. I haven’t been sucked into trying to write a whole thought in emojis. I can write the word car, for example, faster than I can scroll through a bunch of tiny little pictures to find one. There is probably a trick to finding it quickly I will need my grandson to show me. I know the picture comes up after you have typed the word, but then what use is it. I like to do things in one step, not two.

Anyway, emojis can be used to display all types of emotions, convey many different meanings and add a little something to our printed communication. We should take a moment to thank their inventor today and use a bunch of them.

 

What Size It?

It’s National Tape Measure Day. As I look at the above picture I realize almost everything we touch, use, or like, has something to do with size. The tape measure, according to whether it is made of flexible metal, plastic or cloth, can tell us the of size a whole lot of things.

People need to know their measurements in order to buy clothing, especially out of a catalog. Men want to know ladies measurements to see if they “measure-up” to their ideal dream lady. Now that’s a sexist comment, but the truth. Ladies want to know how men “measure-up” in all sorts of situations. I’m not sure you can measure those situations with a tape measure, it has more to do with manners and sensitivities.

Builders have to know All the measurements in any building they build, whether it be the size of the doors to be used or the square footage of a closet. Everything has a measurement in the basic planning stages to figure out how much the planned building will cost to build. I know that because that is what my husband does at work. It’s detailed and exact.

I live in potato growing country and machines with varying size screens on conveyor belts are utilized to sort the potatoes. They don’t measure the potatoes individually, but the screens have specific measurements so the smallest fall through first, and then the next size, etc. Different sizes are used for different things.

Being a quilter, I measure the repeat of the design on a fabric. Some patterns call for a specific number of repeats to cut pieces to make a new pictorial. I also have to figure out exact measurements when I put a t-shirt quilt together because all the logos on the shirts are different sizes. In order to make an eye-pleasing mosaic it takes knowledge of the formulas of triangles and patience to get it right. I like the challenge.

brooke's quilt

This is my great-niece’s high school graduation gift. It’s not yet quilted. You can see the pieces are not all the same size or shape. Rulers help me with all the math, and a tape measure tells me how big the finished quilt is. Yes, I use all that “useless” math I learned in high school. In my life, a tape measure is a must.

 

Everyone’s Favorite

It’s National French Fry Day. I can’t think of a single person in my circle that doesn’t like the finger shaped deep fried potatoes. I do know a few people that choose not to eat them because they are greasy and all carbohydrates, but those people have more will-power than I do.

In the early 1970’s as a young military wife, I had the privilege of living in England for three years. The first time I heard talk of going to the “Chippy” I thought they were talking about the flat slivers of deep fried potatoes. You find out what a big world it is when the same words have different meanings. Of course, they were talking about French Fries. I have fond memories of the Rock fish and chips wrapped in the large sheets of paper that looked like the paper you pack your dishes in when you move. I can still smell the aroma that was noticeable a few buildings from the shop.

When I moved to Washington state in 1979, I had another lesson in how to eat fer-fer’s as my son called them when he was little. It was very common in the restaurant I worked at to be asked for tarter sauce to dip fries in. I couldn’t see dipping something greasy in more fat, but once I tried it I was hooked.

In Mississippi we ordered potato wedges. They took a baking potato, cut it into four quarters lengthwise and fried those big pieces until the outside was almost crunchy and the inside was hot, fluffy and very white. That’s where I learned to eat my hot fries first and the rest of the meal after because cool fries just aren’t as pleasing to the mouth as hot ones are. There we sprinkled on white vinegar and chased it with ketchup.

Today my grandchildren dunk everything in ranch dressing. I guess dunking French Fries in something has been around as long as French Fries have been. If you want a healthier version you can coat your potatoes in olive oil and bake them, or use sweet potatoes. No matter which form, or what you dunk them in, I think most everyone will agree, hot and fresh is best.

It’s a What?

It’s National Clerihew Day. Don’t feel bad, I had no idea what it was either. Edmund Clerihew Bentley (July 10, 1875 – March 30, 1956) created his first whimsical, four-line biographical poem when he was just 16. He became a well-known English novelist and humorist. I am still wondering why they used his middle name for the day. As with most poetry, the Clerihew is defined by a set of rules.  It must contain four lines, rhyming couplets of AA/BB, a person’s name in the first line, and say something about that person. 

The National Day of Calendar urged me to try to write one myself. I came up with the following:

On this day Susan Sleggs

Is about to go to the list called Craig’s

To find someone to write her query letter

For they could probably do it better

Forgive me, the poem is supposed to be humorous. I don’t do humor very well, I’m not wired that way. Now drama, I can do drama. I digress. As the poem says, I have not been able to write a good query letter. I know the format and I’ve read countless examples. I can’t seem to put 6 1/2 years of a family saga story into a few sentences. There is just too much to tell. I’ve tried lists of high points, I’ve taken a class, I’ve complained to friends, and fellow writers alike. No matter what I write, it falls flat. The last advice I read said to write the letter when you are excited and upbeat about your work. How can I get to that feeling when I’m on number 300 try to get the letter to sound exciting. It isn’t happening.

Way back when, I wanted something very badly. I did everything I knew how to do and still couldn’t attain my desire. Then circumstances changed and I learned what I had wanted wouldn’t have been good for me at all. The lesson I learned was there is always a reason for delay. One might never know what it is, but if you believe in a higher power, you accept it and move on. Perhaps the timing for me to send a query letter to the right agent,for that long novel sitting in a pile on my desk, just isn’t right. (Please don’t tell me to self-publish. I’m not in favor of it.) And just maybe, if I can’t write the query, it’s because my writing isn’t worthy of being published. Don’t despair. I’m not ready to give up just yet. Seems if I can write a Clerihew on a moments notice, a letter should be a piece of cake.

 

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Tis The Season

It’s National Strawberry Sundae Day. In western New York state, we are at the peak of strawberry season. I like to drive by the fields and see the people crouched down to pick their own strawberries. The plants grow very close to the ground so picking them can be as painful as it is rewarding. I admit, we don’t pick our own anymore.

Growing up my family preferred strawberry shortcake. My mother would make a fresh buttermilk biscuit the size of a round cake pan. Once it was cool enough to handle she would flop it into one of her hands, then carefully slice it in half crosswise. The bottom half would go on a large plate. She would slather it with butter then cover it with fresh smashed strawberries. Next she would turn the top of the biscuit upside down on the bottom layer so it too could absorb a layer of butter, then more strawberries would be poured on top of that. We always let it sit while making fresh whipped cream to top it with. The result was a gooey, yummy dessert, only enjoyed when there were fresh strawberries.

Currently my husband and I have a local farm we like to go to. They have a dessert stand and you can get either a strawberry sundae or shortcake. On a summer evening, there is nothing like berries on cold refreshing ice cream. They also have some goats in a pen near the stand, so we take the grandchildren and enjoy watching them pet and feed the goats. Goats also love strawberries but are happy with the long grass we can pick in a nearby ditch.

All too often these National Days have something to do with food, and I like food. I don’t usually think of a strawberry sundae at breakfast time, but I am today. I think Saturday will be a mandatory let’s go get a strawberry sundae event.

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