Neither a *Luddite Nor a Techie

My mother always proudly said that she was a *Luddite and wanted nothing to do with modern technology. She and Dad had a regular land line phone, and each of them grudgingly got flip-phones. But that’s as much technology as they could stand. Mom would often call me to look something up on my “damn computer” for her. This way she could get the information she needed without touching a computer. (Well played, Mom!)

I think of her right now since a dear old friend of mine drove all the way up to Exeter from Webster, MA to show me how to get into Facebook. Honestly, I never thought that I would want that in my life, but after a day and a half I have to admit it’s pretty neat. I religiously wrote down everything my friend told me, and behold and lo—I actually am getting used to it! I still can’t figure out how to get my pictures from my phone to put on Facebook (I would just love to brag about my trip to Hawaii this past spring!), though.

Last Christmas my wonderful step-daughter had gifted the Crankee Yankee and I with a “Skylight.” She recently showed us how to use it (surprisingly, not a big deal—we were just too embarrassed to tell her that we couldn’t **figure it out on our own!). It’s pretty neat: once you upload the pictures from your phone (where all my nice Hawaii pictures are), you can add them into the Skylight and hang it up. It becomes a screen that runs the pictures one by one. Pretty cool, huh?

So, now I’m guessing that I can do the same thing on my computer; hook it up with my phone pictures or somehow sucking them out of the Skylight. You see what an idiot I am. And here’s the funny part: the Skylight had a perfectly clear technical manual that explained everything, but did we read it? Nooooo. Funnier still is the fact that I made my living as a technical writer and wrote manuals for years. But let me get a new doo-dad, and will I read the manual? Nope.

So I inch along in technology, much like that turtle on TV who likes the old ways and ends the commercial with “not my thing.” However, I do need to make it a “thing” for me so that 1) I am not always lugging the computer to the tech gods for them to figure out what kind of booberry I did with it, or 2) trying to figure out what I should have done (which gives me a massive headache), or 3) just shutting the damn thing down and let it go until morning.

So there you have it; I am neither Luddite nor a Techie. Let’s just call it “OPT” (Old People Technology).





*From Merriam Webster: Luddites could be considered the first victims of corporate downsizing. The Luddite movement began in the vicinity of Nottingham, England, toward the end of 1811 when textile mill workers rioted for the destruction of the new machinery that was slowly replacing them. Their name is of uncertain origin, but it may be connected to a (probably mythical) person known as Ned Ludd. According to an unsubstantiated account in George Pellew’s Life of Lord Sidmouth (1847), Ned Ludd was a Leicestershire villager of the late 1700s who, in a fit of insane rage, rushed into a stocking weaver’s house and destroyed his equipment. From then on, his name was proverbially connected with the destruction of machinery. With the onset of the information age, Luddite gained a broader sense describing anyone who shuns new technology.



The Pond Walk in Fall

Recently I took a much-needed walk around the pond. While it is always beautiful and uplifting, there’s something special about the pond in the fall. The sky is richly blue with beautiful white clouds that look like trailing angel robes. The air is crisp with a warning snap of cold, and the pond is full of ripples. There are no ducks, geese, turtles or any pond life to be seen. Now and then there will be a lone blue heron, but most of the wild life has moved to warmer places. The turtles and frogs are already tucked down in the mud, sleeping until Spring comes to wake them.

Still, it’s a lovely walk. The reeds have turned from green to silver and brown, all the milkweed fluff has dispersed into the wind, and the pink rambler roses and orange jewel weed have dropped their flowers and are ready for the cold siege. Seagulls wheel overhead, cawing as they go. If you are very lucky, sometimes a bald eagle will soar overhead; that’s quite a sight.

It was my grandmother who taught me about the birds and animals and their habits. She especially loved birds (except for blue jays and grackles; she saw them as the thieves and plunderers they were), and made sure that they had plenty to eat in the cold weather. I always think of her when the Crankee Yankee and I fill up our bird feeder and, in winter, suet trays.

After a walk around the pond, any problems, worries or upsets I had when I started my walk; all are gone, and I am left with a feeling of peace. Nature has a lovely way of calming and soothing us. We can learn a lot from the seasons, the birds, the animals and the pond itself. Nature gives us the gift of serenity, change and appreciation. I never walk back home in a bad mood; Nature has already soothed me.


When Vegans Get Pushy

I am not a vegan myself, but I do admire vegans’ dedication to their beliefs. If it’s better for them health-wise, more power to them. I know a few people who are vegans, and, except for one person I worked with years ago, they are nice people. That one person I worked with was, quite frankly; a pain in the patooty. She was one of those people hell-bent on reforming other people to stop their evil meat-eating ways and become vegan.

I don’t know about you, but the second I hear someone trying to push me toward something I have zero interest in, the party’s over. As I always say, to each his/her own. I do not appreciate diatribes from anyone who thinks that they can live my life better for me than I can live my life. But that’s just me.

This gal I worked with was an absolute annoying twit. Every converstation always revolved around veganism, and that was just about as exciting to me as sports is, and I really don’t care for sports. This gal was determined to shove me into becoming a vegan, saying I would feel so much better, I wouldn’t be endangering animals (the meaty ones), and the real kicker, this: “you would certainly lose weight, too.”

Um, excuse me? What sensible, minding-their-own-business person wants to hear that? And, was it her way of telling me that I was FAT?! While that presumption hurt my feelings, I had to dismiss it because after all, that gal was not only pushy but downright rude, and I always walk away from rude people.

She was also the kind of person who talked non-stop about herself. One day when I was in a pretty good mood, I walked by her desk, and noticed that she was wearing a very pretty amethyst ring. I complimented her on it, and she said smugly “size FOUR!” Well, whoopdie freakin’ do, I thought to myself; aren’t you a precious teenie tiny little thing. I just smiled and walked away.

Look, if you’re a vegan, good on you. Who am I to judge anyone’s life-style? I just don’t care for it to be shoved down my meat-loving throat. Then there are those who embrace veganism for themselves AND THEIR PETS! Dogs and cats need the protein from meat; they are carnivores. *Ask any vet and he/she will tell you that giving your dogs and cats only vegetables can seriously hurt their health and well-being.

This post is not a punch to the tiny bellies of vegans; not at all. Again, I admire anyone who follows a lifestyle that suits them. What I don’t admire is some zealot trying to convert me to anything I’m not interested in. By all means, be who you are and embrace it.

But just remember, “no means NO.”

*From Web MD: “Lew Olson, PhD, author of Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs, makes this analogy: “Trying to feed a cat a vegan diet would be like me feeding my horses meat. You’re taking a whole species of animal and trying to force it to eat something that it isn’t designed to handle.”

Potential Problems

The risks of feeding dogs or cats vegetarian or vegan diet include:

  • Inadequate total protein intake (less than the 25 grams per 1,000 calories recommended)
  • Imbalance of the certain amino acids, such as taurine and L-carnitine (dogs and cats) or essential fatty acids arachidonic acid (cats only), in particular
  • Deficiency in vitamins and minerals (such as B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, and iron) that are obtained ideally, or only, through meat or other animal products

If allowed to continue long enough, these dietary problems can lead to serious and sometimes irreversible medical conditions. The one veterinarians mention most often is taurine-related dilated cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart with weak contractions and poor pumping ability). Low taurine can also lead to reproductive failures, growth failures, and eye problems.




The Aftermath of Grief

People our age have usually lost one or both parents. Grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles; they are gone as well. Sometimes we lose some of our friends to illness or accident. You go through a sort of “grief/relief” process; grief because they are your people and you love and miss them, and relief because they are no longer suffering.

While it’s never easy to watch one of our loved ones get old and infirm; we understand that this is part of life. Both my parents were in Hospice care at the end, and I was grateful for their help and kindness.

My parents were very accepting of death. As Mom slowly but graciously declined, she would get impatient now and then and drum her fingers on the sheets. I’d be sitting with her, and ask her what was going on. Her answer? “Let’s GO already! I’m ready to go!” Then we would laugh. I told her that even all of her bossiness could not speed up time, and to just relax and let things happen as they would.

A dear friend of hers kept making Mom her favorite cake (one that her aunts used to make), called “Southern Black Chocolate Cake.” Basically it was a rich chocolate cake in a 9″ square pan topped with marshmallows cut in thirds. When the cake was completely cooled, it was covered in a chocolate frosting that was nearly fudge. It was devine, and Mom couldn’t get enough of it. Her friend kept on baking those cakes for her until the end.

The few times Mom would get a bit depressed about leaving this earth, all any of us had to do was ask her if she wanted a piece of cake. That always perked her right up. Dad and I figured that, after she passed on, she had eaten most of the nine Southern Black Chocolate Cakes herself.

So what about the aftermath of grief? For me anyway, it is being reminded each day that both of my parents had good and full lives; that makes me happy. They lived and loved, and when their time came, they were not afraid, but looked toward the next adventure.

Of course, losing loved ones is hard; we go through a “grief/relief/grief” cycle. It’s normal; we miss them and we feel bad about the relief that we feel. But actually there is nothing bad about it; it’s a natural process. If our people who have gone on could speak directly to us after death, they probably would tell us that they are happy, that they love us always, and that when our own time comes, we will be amazed.

When I get sad and miss my people and pets, I put this thought right out in front of me: amazement. How bad could that be?


One More Damned Batch of Tomato Sauce

When the Crankee Yankee and I planted our garden, I begged him to take it easy on the tomatoes. I would remind him of all the bags of frozen tomatoes in our freezer from last year, not to mention all the containers of frozen tomato sauce in our freezer. But did he listen? No, he did not: we ended up with twelve tomato plants, and each and every one bore loads of tomatoes. At this point, I have lost count of how many containers of sauce I have made (swearing all the way).

But, being the Yankee that I am, I just can’t not pick the tomatoes…it goes against my grain to waste anything. Yesterday morning I started what I devotely hope is my last batch of tomato sauce, and I grumped all the way through it. We have fobbed off as much of the sauce as we possibly can to our friends and neighbors; it’s close to the point where our they all make themselves scarce if they see us coming with a big container of sauce.

But the Crankee Yankee loves spaghetti and sauce (with or without meatballs), so what am I going to do? At least we are ingesting loads *lycopene like no body’s business, so there is that.

So here is what I do (while swearing all the way): I take out our largest pot and splash in some olive oil, then chop up garlic, onions, green peppers (and yes, we also have a ton of pepper plants that also won’t quit producing). While that’s cooking I wash all the tomatoes and chop them up and throw them in the pot. Once everything is bubbling away, I throw in s few basil leaves, rosemary and parsley. I also like to throw in a splash of red wine as well. To give the sauce more “punch” I always add in a can of tomato paste which helps it thicken.

Once everything has boiled and bubbled, I get out my trusty immersible blender (this is one of the best kitchen doo-dads EVER) and blend it all together. And there you have it: thick, delicious and healthy tomato sauce that you can use for spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, and whatever else you like. It freezes well, and is perfect for the old “what will we do about dinner?” situations.

Now, that said, our poor freezer is chock full of containers of sauce. I devotely hope that the batch of sauce I made yesterday is my last for the season. At this rate, we may be eating it on cereal next. Wish me luck!

*From Web MD: Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that may help protect cells from damage. This is why there is a lot of research interest in lycopene’s role, if any, in preventing cancer. Lycopene is a naturally occurring chemical that gives fruits and vegetables a red color. It is one of a number of pigments called carotenoids. Lycopene is found in tomatoes, watermelons, red oranges, pink grapefruits, apricots, rosehips, and guavas. In North America, 85% of dietary lycopene comes from tomato products such as ketchup, tomato juice, sauce, or paste. A serving of fresh tomatoes contains between 4 mg and 10 mg of lycopene, while one cup (240 mL) of tomato juice provides about 20 mg. Processing raw tomatoes using heat (in the making of tomato juice, tomato paste or ketchup, for example) actually changes the lycopene in the raw product into a form that is easier for the body to use. The lycopene in supplements is about as easy for the body to use as lycopene found in food.


Kindness Counts

I am a fan of Ellen DeGeneres for many reasons, especially her reminder to us all: “be kind to each other.” And why not be kind? It’s a way of showing compassion to others and forgiving others. We can be so quick to judge and quicker still to be hurtful. Obviously we all may not see eye-to-eye, but that’s no reason to not be kind.

For example, I never talk politics with anyone other than the Crankee Yankee. There is so much bad-mouthing going on these days; why should I add more to it? A long time ago I decided to keep my politics to myself. When I vote, I don’t tell anyone who I voted for; it is personal and, quite frankly, it’s no one’s business but mine. Too many times I have seen family and friends break up because of politics, and it’s a real shame.

I understand and respect that others feel differently than I do; we all have our own opinions, and it’s perfectly okay to have them. I have relatives and dear friends who love to talk and argue politics with each other. That’s their business, and I stay out of it, not because I am any better than anyone else, but the arguing makes me sick.

Even if we do not agree with family or friends over something, that’s not a reason to give up on family and friends. Everyone is allowed their own opinions. Speaking just for me, I would rather be kind than try to be “right.” We may never know someone else’s heart or mind, but it is relatively easy to just be kind. I am a flawed human being, but I hope that I can always remember to be kind; kindness does count.


When Mom Started Making Jewelry

Years ago when I lived in Texas, Mom would fly down from New Hampshire to visit me. Usually she would stay for a week and a half, so when I was working, she really didn’t have all that much to do except for cleaning, reading and re-arranging things in my home (which always came out better than I could have done!).

I felt badly that she was alone all day, so I introduced her to my newest hobby; making jewelry with beads. At first she wasn’t at all interested, but as time went on, she tried making a few things, and they came out beautifully. From then on, she was hooked.

After I left Texas and came back to New Hampshire, the Crankee Yankee and I got married, and we lived in Manchester for a few years. I made jewelry; Mom made jewelry, and to her surprise, she made a real business out of it. Her color sense was amazing, and her designs were original and unique. While she sold them out of her house, she also sold them in Meredith, NH and in the White Mountain Hotel.

She and her friends would meet for coffee at the local bookstore in Wolfeboro in the morning, and many times Mom sold the necklace and earrings she was wearing right off her ears and neck! During the holiday season, she would set up a jewelry show in her office downstairs. I would help her set up, and she always had a big crowd for her event. Everyone always had a great time at Mom’s shows.

Mom lived a long and good time despite her breast cancer. When her meds stopped working for her, her doctor gave Mom the choice of chemotherapy or letting Nature take its course. Mom being Mom, took the latter with good grace. Her last jewelry show was in December 2015, and all her friends came. What they didn’t know was that Mom was going to give her friends the jewelry they chose for free; her final gift to them all.

Of course, there were tears and laughter, and more tears. But Mom was so happy to do this for the friends she had loved so long. It was something I will never forget. Mom had the time of her life during that last show, and she loved every minute of it.

When she died, I started taking home a few of her bead boxes each time I went up to visit Dad. I thought that, after her death I would never make jewelry again, but to my surprise I started right in on it. It made me feel closer to Mom and I was surprised at the new designs I made with her beads; in a way, I was connecting with Mom and her exquisite sense of color and design.

It’s amazing when you think of all the changes a person makes in life. What we start out may not be what we end with. Mom was meticulous in keeping her beads and findings in their proper place; she always knew were everything was. Mom’s bead boxes were perfect; each and every bead was in its place. For myself, I sadly do not follow Mom’s good example; just yesterday morning I started clearing up all my bead boxes—what a mess! I could just hear Mom’s “tsk, tsk, tsk” in my ear all the while.

I taught my oldest granddaughter, Ava, how to make earrings, and she really picked it up. She too has a wonderful color sense; I joked with her saying that she somehow picked that up from Mom. Unfortunately, from me she picked up the old ‘I’ll do it later’ habit. She, like me, tosses everything in one or two boxes.

But here’s the thing: you can be organized or messy, just as long as you do what you love. Mom was a beautiful example of genius and efficiency as well as a talented artist. We never know what our talents are until we try something new and different. Never say never, and give new things a try. Who knows where you’ll go from there?