The Power of Soup

The Crankee Yankee and I have agreed that our most favorite food these days is soup. Our favorites are the ones we concoct from leftovers or vegetables from our gardens, or, as we call it; “this and that soup.” Last year we had a gracious plenty of really good leeks, so I froze them. Just yesterday I thawed them out and paired them with some butternut squash, garlic, thyme, butter, olive oil, salt and pepper, some grated Cheddar cheese, oregano, some leftover half-and-half and beef broth.

Once everything was simmering and sending out drool-making scents, it was time to eat. We had the soup with some leftover rolls and it was the perfect supper. Soup is always warm and accomodating; it’s the meal that satisfies and comforts.

Ever since I started making soups from scratch, I can never throw out a chicken or a turkey carcass. Once I’ve picked the bones clean, I throw them into a pot of water along with onions, garlic, a few stalks of celery and some carrots, herbs and any other vegetables I may have. Once everything is boiled down, I strain out all the played-out bones and vegetables, and keep the broth.

After that I can add anything to it; chunks of chicken, turkey, chopped vegetables, a can of corn niblets plus herbs and viola: soup!

When you think about it, soup is a great healer of body, mind and soul. Had a bad day? Soup helps. Had an argument you regret? Soup helps. Had a close call on the road? Soup helps. Not feeling well? Soup helps. We have a saying in our house about soup: “it couldn’t hurt.”

I know that it sounds funny, but some people and pets are remarkably like soup; some are sharp and spicy, some are laid-back and mellow, some are exotic and stimulating, some are simply comfortable and home-y. All together, they make a savory collection of family and friends.

The same goes for soup; it may start as a “this and that” deal, but when the spoon meets the bowl, it’s all good.

 

 

 

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In Praise of Getting Older

Getting older is not a bad thing at all. In fact, it turns out that, as we age, we are more likely to laugh more, love more, enjoy ourselves more, and best all; appreciate who we are as we are. 

Just recently I was watching a program with lots of wonderful people in their 70s, 80s and 90s. They talked about how they feel so much more comfortable in their own skins. The women especially rejoiced their wrinkles and silver hair; they said that they feel that they are finally accepting themselves. One woman in her mid-80s was actually a model.

Both men and women say that they laugh more and feel almost like children in that they feel so much joy in little daily things. They also say that they take themselves much less seriously than they used to. They don’t let things upset them as much as they used to, and they find happiness in things that they might have ignored years ago.

I copied the following from the Huff Post. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did:

1. Two words. Senior discounts.

2. Not worrying as much about things will “turn out.”

 

3. More mature relationships (hopefully). 

4. You’ve carved out a career.

 

5. Looks aren’t everything. 

 

6. There’s nothing wrong with a 9:30 PM bedtime. 

 

7. You stop caring what others think. 

 

8. Fewer major life decisions to make.

10. It’s ok to be an old soul. 

 

11. Dressing for comfort, first and foremost. 

 

12. More stable friendships. 

 

13. Retirement. Enough said.

 

 

14. To stop having to keep up with technology. 

 

15. It’s perfectly acceptable to sit at concerts.

 

16. Moving less frequently. 

 

17. Buh-bye PMS.

Where Babies Come From—Maybe

A few years ago, we were visiting our granddaughter Ava. This was before her little sister, Juliette, was born. We were all sitting around together, laughing and talking, when out of the clear blue, Ava asked her father where she came from. All of us adults looked at each other as if to say, ‘uh-oh—is it already time for the talk?

But her wonderful dad, who was born in South Africa, sat her down and told her that he and her mother had decided that they wanted a baby very much. Ava looked a bit confused, and said “but how did I get here?”

Her dad said, “we went into the jungle in with a big cage. We filled it up with chocolate and butter [Note: Ava loves butter nearly as much as she loves chocolate]. Then we went back into the bushes to wait and watch.”

“All of a sudden, a little monkey ran right into the cage and started eating the butter and chocolate! So we closed the door quickly so that she wouldn’t get away, and we took her home, and that was you!”

Ava gave her father one of those ‘are you kidding me?’ looks. She said, “well, what happened to my tail?”

Her father replied, “We had to take it off because you can’t have a tail in school.” As you can imagine, we were all killing ourselves laughing, including Ava.

So if your kiddo asks you where babies come from, and you feel that you are not quite ready to haul out the charts and pointer, a young monkey in a cage full of butter and chocolate may work.

Letting Go and Speaking Out

Despite what we may hear on the news or watch on television or our devices, there are plenty of good and decent men in our country. The past few weeks have been terrible with allegations flung far and wide to the point where people have become pretty uncivilized. I am not going to get into details here, just suffice it to say that our nation is devolving into a massive mud-slinging fest where no one wins.

Yes, there are men who have been and are predators. Yes, there have been dreadful things done to innocent people that have ruined their lives. Yes, there are men who feel that anything and anyone that they want are fair game and that they have a right to do whatever they want.

That said, there are hundreds of thousands of good, decent men in our country. Hundreds of thousands of men were raised by strong women who let them know that they do not have a right to intimidate, bully, pressure or attack anyone “just because.” There are hundreds of thousands of good men who are horrified that others of their sex prey on the innocent. There are hundreds of thousands of good men who would gladly give their lives to protect their loved ones. There are hundreds of thousands of good men who teach their boys and girls how to respect both themselves and each other.

Speaking as a former victim of sexual abuse at a very young age, I understand how hard it is to talk about it. I get it that it’s a lot easier to just bury those feelings of shame than to bring it all out into the light. Again, speaking only for me, I always felt that it was somehow my fault that those things happened to me. That is the worst of it; that you really believe that you somehow invited these things.

If something has happened to you, no matter how long ago it was, treat yourself kindly. Talk to a therapist or someone else whom you trust. Speaking the words will set you free. It isn’t easy, but it can be done. Know beyond a shadow of doubt that you are worth-while. Know that you did not invite what happened to you. Know that you have been victimized and that you do not need to feel ashamed or worthless.

When you allow yourself to speak the truth, you can finally let out the anger, the hurt and the shame. You will cry, you will be angry, and most of all you will rip off that thick scab that has burdened you for far too long. All of this releases the poison in your soul, and allows you to realize that what happened to you was not your fault.

I promise you that, once you let go and speak out, your life will change in a way that you could never have predicted. You will find solace, safety, comfort and, best of all, you will come to see your own worth. Please do this for all who love and care for you, but most of all, do it for YOU. YOU are worth it.

 

“Ever So Many Years Past Twenty…”

Do you remember Peter Pan? He taught his friend Wendy and her two brothers to fly by means of fairy dust, and took them on an adventure in Neverland. There they met the Lost Boys, Tinkerbell, Princess Tiger Lily and the dreadful Captain Hook.

When the adventure was over and Wendy and her brothers were home again, she begged Peter Pan to return. He promised that he would.

But years passed, Wendy and her brothers grew up, and Peter Pan did not return. One night years later, he came back. He asked Wendy to go away with him again, and she told him that her adventures were over, and that she was “ever so many years past twenty.”

I think of that phrase a lot. I remember what it was like to be twenty; strong, powerful, able to run for miles and do just about anything. I inwardly scoffed at my mother when she would tell me that later in my life I would slow down and would not be able to do all the things I could do then.

But young people have felt this way since, well; always. They never believe that they will get older, lose some of their abilities and slow down. They think that they will always love this, that or the other thing, and that their beautiful young joints will last forever. But time passes and our interests change. While we may mourn our lost youth and abilities, it is good to know that age brings its own gifts that we would not have appreciated when we were young.

When we are young and experiencing our own trip to “Neverland,” we can’t imagine being older. But we do eventually get older; there comes a day when we look at ourselves in the mirror and wonder when the wrinkles and gray hair happened. We look at pictures of ourselves in our youth and shake our heads and smile at how young and innocent we were.

But, when you think about it all, there is a great joy of understanding that, while we are “ever so many years past twenty,” we still have life ahead of us. And who knows what surprises and wonders they may be? Perhaps what we experience is our own Neverland.

Don’t give up; it could happen!

 

 

“Like, Are We, Like, Using “Like” Correctly?”

From the good old Oxford dictionary, here are correct ways in which to use the word “like:”

“Like” can be a preposition, a conjunction, a noun, an adjective, an adverb,. Standard usage of “like” in the sentence ‘he’s behaving like he owns the place,’ like is a conjunction meaning ‘as if’, a usage regarded as incorrect in standard English. Although like has been used as a conjunction in this way since the 15th century by many respected writers, it is still frowned upon and considered unacceptable in formal English, where as if should be used instead.”

The word “like” was never meant to be a pause, or a stand-in for “er,” ‘um,’ ‘hmm,’ and so forth. It has become a social thing and everyone seems to say it all the time.

 

The Crankee Yankee and I were having lunch at a restaurant, and behind us was a table of three young women probably in their mid-20s. I can honestly say that I have never heard so many “likes” in my life. I desperately wanted to ask them to “like, stop using ‘like’ like all the, like, time. It’s like, so overdone, like, you know, like, what I mean?”

When I was student teaching in college, my students were what was then called junior high kids (now it’s “middle school”). The prevailing word for nearly everything was “mental.” Teachers and parents were “mental.” The lunch line at school was mental. Homework was mental. I thought I would lose my mind, listening to “mental, mental, mental” all day long.

But things like this are cultural, just has “like” has become overused and abused. As I get older, things like this seem to grate on my nerves more than ever. It’s a lot like having someone jab you with a sharp pin every two seconds; “like, like, like.”

But that’s how culture goes; some phrases or words become popular and off we go, using them over and over again. Although to my ears it signals a lack of good word usage, but that’s my age talking.

Who knows what the next irritating word or phrase may be; God save us all.