When was the Last Time You Heard This??

Now, before we get to the 70’s music, look what I found on TV!  It’s fantastic–every night at 5:30 on the Rural Channel (the Rural Channel??) The Mary Tyler Moore Show comes on, and then at 6 it’s The Bob Newhart Show.  It’s still so good, still so funny!  Tonight’s Bob Newhart was a Christmas episode, from 1972 no less, and Carol (you know, the receptionist that Jerry the Orthodontist and Bob share?) was drinking eggnog out of the water cooler, and she was, she confessed to Bob, swakked.   At 9:00 in the morning.  Oh, the good old days.

Speaking of which, here are some excellent, really old songs that don’t seem to turn up very often on oldie radio stations, but that will definitely take you back to your misspent youth as soon as you hear them.  AM radio, station wagons, mood rings…well, cuddle up with your pet rock, click on the links, take a listen (skip those damn ads!), and see some interesting sartorial choices from the 1970s.

In the Summertime (Mungo Jerry)  I don’t even know what to say about those sideburns. I don’t think we should discuss the mesh shirt, either.

Spill the Wine (Eric Burdon)   When I was a little kid I wanted to be in a band and play that ridged wooden fish instrument that you drag a stick along.  Apparently it’s called a guiro.  I used to play air guiro.  And perhaps I still do when I hear this song.

Wild World (Cat Stevens)  Obviously pre-Yusuf Islam.  I’m guessing he doesn’t do too many frivolous love songs anymore.

Sweet

Love is Like Oxygen (Sweet)  When I hear this, I am immediately back at a junior high school dance.  Despite that traumatic experience, I still love this song.

Moonlight Feels Right (Starbuck)  Take a gander at the drummer’s hair.  And who doesn’t love a xylophone solo performed in a zip-up jumpsuit? (Sorry about the Julio’s Costa Rican ad–it was the best version.)

Candy’s Room (Bruce Springsteen)  Never really been a Springsteen fan, besides this and Born to Run.  But I sure do love this song.

Hot Chocolate

Every 1’s a Winner (Hot Chocolate)  Do young black men ever play guitar in bands anymore?  And those stripey pants! Well!

Dreamboat Annie (Heart)  This type of song is not usually my bag, but this is beautiful. Those Wilson sisters were so young! And so thin!

How great was that??  I hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane, back to a simpler time when your parents worried about things like fiscal cliffs and deficits and tax increases, and all you worried about was how well your hair was feathered and if your Angels Flights looked good.  Sigh.

What, Me Worry?

What could I possibly worry about with four more years of this administration?  How about, say, the rather large drop the stock market took this morning, for starters?  How about Iran? And Russia.  And China.  And paying for the boondoggle known as Obamacare.  And space!  I’m actually worried about space.  And the military. Oh yeah, I’m worried. I blogged back in January 2011 that Facebook was on the downhill slide, overrated.  And you see how that worked out.  So, while perhaps not in the same league as my snotty Facebook comments, let’s just say that I think we should all be worried.  Not just me.

Of course I usually cling to my guns and my religion for succor, but right now I’ll turn to what comforts me most of all.  My family, my friends, my home, my books, my music.   As such, I just finished J. K. Rowling‘s new book, coincidentally about a dirty political campaign, The Casual Vacancy.  I really, really liked it.  After the third Harry Potter book, I was kind of done with Rowling.  The books became overly long, and I got the impression she was being paid by the word, the books were so verbose.  In this book for adults (in which there are no witches or magic or anything–please don’t ask), Rowling’s talent really shines.

In the Harry Potter books, Harry lived with his aunt and uncle, the Dursleys, who were suburban, objectionable, self-satisfied, and just generally awful.  Of course, they get their comeuppance in every book.  The Casual Vacancy tells the story of people very much like the Dursleys. It’s the tale of a small town called Pagford, and its town council.  One of the councilors dies unexpectedly (a “casual vacancy”), and there is a rushed election to fill the empty seat. Pagford is divided by those who feel the council housing (like Section 8 housing), known as The Fields, should be detached from Pagford, and those who feel it should be embraced. There is also a drug treatment facility in The Fields that would be shuttered if detached from Pagford.  Whoever fills the empty seat will dictate how the town proceeds.  Obviously, drama ensues.

I wonder if Rowling, when she was on the dole and jobless, was treated harshly by her suburban neighbors.  She has a penchant for skewering the mildly successful, and making them seem ridiculous. The characters and the setting of The Casual Vacancy is very English, which I think is probably why it hasn’t received glowing reviews in the U.S.  Along with the councilors, there  are the computer-hacking, sex-having kids, from both Pagford and The Fields, that attend the local school.  There are drug addicts and their children.  It’s not a feel-good story, not at all, and I wouldn’t say just anybody across the board would enjoy it.  But I was completely absorbed.  I would love for Rowling to write a follow-up, to see what happens to the little citizens of Pagford.

Now I just have to wait to see what on earth will happen to us,  the little citizens of America.

Once Is Not Enough?

Well!  The past four years have been so great that we’ve signed up to have more of the same!  I am at a loss.  Most of all I feel  incredulous. And a little ill, frankly. I thought of hurling venomous invective, but I know that would somehow come back to bite me. If you are a small-business person or are in some way connected to the building trades, you know how rotten this recession has been and, now, will continue to be.  I’ve been hoping for a “Dewey Beats Truman” moment, but, sadly, I don’t think it’s coming.  Heaven help us.

I’ve Got the World on a (shoe)String…

Okay, here.  Listen to Frank Sinatra crooning for a mo if you want to, and then come back.  Now, Frank has the actual world on a string, what with sitting on a rainbow and all.  I, on the other hand, have a shoestring.

Belts are extraordinarily tight in this house (and not just because I eat too many carbs).  Times are not so good (like I have to tell you this). If Barack Obama is re-elected, and we continue on this course, the deficit will be up to God knows what by the time he finishes his second term.  That makes me feel the way I feel when I open my credit card bill:  panicky. And horrified.  Yes, it was for stuff we needed (refer back to tight belts, above)–well, mostly anyway, but holy moly, it sure adds up.  I’m pretty sure this is what Mr. Obama says when he gets the deficit bill at the end of the month– “Well, it was for stuff that we needed–well, mostly anyway,  but holy moly, it sure adds up.”  But the problem is, I don’t think Mr. Obama feels my panic. Or my horror.

So maybe ask yourself how you are doing now, compared to four years ago.  Yes, Obama inherited a mess.  But boy oh boy did he make it worse.  Please, please, vote for Mitt Romney.  He’s good at this.  Our country needs a CEO, not a professor.  I feel so strongly about this! Well, okay, that’s the end of my stumping. I’d actually do more stumping if I got to wear a straw boater like Samantha Stephens did when she was trying to get a stop light on Morning Glory Circle.  And a sash.  I need a sash.

Moving on! Now, you know how much I love autumn, and my autumn decorations.  In fact you can read last year’s post on the subject.  It seems like every year (for the last, actually, four or so years) I have had to ramp up my thriftiness.  I have purchased no new fall decorations.  Any recent acquisitions I have I scrounged from nature.  There I was, in the park, a crazy lady picking up acorns from under oak trees.  But you have to see them–they are like little textbook symbols of autumn.  So perfect, and I couldn’t just leave them all there to be lawnmowered into oblivion.

And I love the big seeds from the California buckeye trees.  (By the way, the seeds are toxic, so don’t lick them or anything.)  In autumn, the tree produces this odd, pear-shaped fruit that is really just a husk for the seed.  The seeds look like burnished nubbins of wood. Very fall-y. You can also call the seeds “conkers.” Which we do.

Another natural decor item I’m putting to use are the rose hips from my garden.  I purposely did not deadhead the roses after their last bloom in the summer.  I wanted to see how all the rose hips would look, and they are so pretty!

Rose hips and Michael’s scented pinecones

They are perfect for standing in a vase or scattering in with conkers or acorns or, say, pinecones. In fact, I actually did buy one new autumn decoration, but it was cheap ($2.50!).  In Michaels they have mesh bags of scented pinecones.  I love how they smell, all cinnamony. The first day or two they are rawther pungent, but the scent softens pretty quickly and makes the area around them smell delightfully cozy.

While I was out foraging, feeling like a cross between Martha Stewart and Grizzly Adams, I came across these trees with the most beautiful berryish/seedish/flowerish things on them.  I picked just a few sprigs, came home, plunked them in a vase and, if I may say so myself, perfection!

So that, my friends, is this year’s autumnal decorating on a shoestring.  And I do kind of feel like I’ve got the world on a string when I have beautiful things around me.  And so much the better if my beautiful things were free!

And don’t forget–VOTE.

Why, Exactly, is Mutton Dressed as Lamb?

Do you remember when we were kids, and women aged?  What would happen if hair dye was banned , if low-rise jeans weren’t sold in a size bigger than an 8, and we all cut our hair short?  What if plastic surgery was no longer allowed?  Men haven’t really changed–you can look at pictures from the 19th century, and once you get past the regrettable facial hair choices, men just look like men.  This guy on the left (Frederick Robie, somebody important in Maine) could be someone you work with.  Well, except for that dreadful tuft of beard.  But he looks pretty normal.  Give him a shave, throw a polo shirt on him, and he could be golfing by noon.

Now let’s go to the distaff side of the equation.  Look at this woman from the 19th century. I couldn’t really imagine  taking her,  as-is, and plopping her down in a Starbucks.  Well, I mean, we’d get her in some cuter clothes, but there is no way she could make the transition the way Fred  there could. And she’s much younger than him–I’d say she is about 30.  Woman just don’t “time travel” as well as men.

Okay, now let’s check out the 1950s. See this man on the left?  I’m pretty sure no one would look twice at him, wandering around Nugget.  Except for the hat.  We’d have to lose the hat.  So how about this woman, below?  Look–she’s got gray hair.   I remember when women who were over 50 looked over 50. Women don’t look like this anymore.  And I’m not sure why.

I was  in Walnut Creek one day, walking behind a slim young woman with long, perfectly highlighted hair, low-rise jeans, and very high heels.  She looked great and I felt a bit schlumpy.  And then she stopped to look in a store window, and happened to turn to face me.  Ack!  She was 62 if she was a day.  It was very, very weird.  Mutton dressed as lamb at its worst.

I don’t have any insights.  I was just pondering the whole situation. I’m not sure why this happens–you can trot out that older woman are dismissed, or that youth prevails, or…I don’t know.  Is it for men?  If you are 56, why would you want to be with a man who wants you to look, say, 35? And even if you do somehow manage to look that young, odds are you’ll still lose out to an actual 35-year-old.  I mean, ask Demi Moore how it all worked out for her. Personally, I don’t want to look like a girl.  I’m not a girl.  I used to be one, but now I’m all grown up.  We should be striving for grace, elegance, dignity.  Trust me, I’m certainly not saying I’m graceful, elegant, or dignified, but I strive to be those things.  It’s no good striving to be a 30-year-old,  ’cause that ain’t gonna happen.

Embarrassingly Delicious Cookies

I’ve been awfully busy lately, what with bringing home the bacon AND frying it up in a pan.  I don’t have as much time for baking, which bums me out.  A lot.   I came across this recipe in an old Pillsbury cookbooklet (they used to sell them at the grocery checkout stand, by the TV Guide–whoa! how old am I??) and it turns out these cookies are absolutely delicious.  Well, they are delicious if you like chocolate and peanut butter. The embarrassing part comes in when you read that the whole recipe hinges on cake mix!  Maybe I am dabbling in the dark arts here, what with a sort of semi-homemade kind of a thing,  but I will definitely make these again.  They are certainly not chic, delicate little biscuits, but if you are in a hurry, and want something that looks fall-y, and Halloween-y, these cookies will be right up your alley.

Peanutty Chocolate Cookies    makes 3 dozen

1 (18.25 oz.) pkg. chocolate fudge cake mix (I used Betty Crocker)

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

1 (15 0z.) pkg. Reese’s Pieces

1 cup coarsely chopped salted peanuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease cookie sheets with Pam, or line with a Silpat.  In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, butter, and eggs; beat at low speed just until moistened. Stir in Reese’s Pieces and peanuts (this make take some doing, but be patient and keep at it).  Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and just barely press down, arranging 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 7 to 10 minutes (I did mine for about 11 minutes–all depends on your oven).  Let cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes, then move to rack to cool. Eat three in a row.

I Can’t Sleep!

Neither can I.  Partly due to age, partly due to worry, but I just don’t sleep that well anymore. Well, I used to not be able to sleep.

A couple of months ago I read an article in First magazine about insomnia. One of the recommendations was to take magnesium, which helps not only with insomnia, but also with restless legs (yep, I had those too, hitting right at 9:00 every night) and night sweats (don’t have those yet, but I’m sure they are coming.  Yay perimenopause!).  Apparently magnesium deficiency is a big cause of insomnia, restless legs, etc.  Who knew?

The product recommended is Natural Vitality Natural Calm.  I like the orange flavor. Follow the directions on the package, just mixing the powder into water a couple of times a day (actually, I’ve found that once a day, about 2 p.m., works well for me). The flavor is just slightly citrusy, and it’s fizzy like Alka-Seltzer.  Using a water soluble powder works well to help your body absorb the magnesium. There is also another benefit besides insomnia help:  it keeps everything, uh, moving.  If you know what I mean. And I think you do.

I bought my Natural Calm on Amazon, and the first time I took it, I slept all night for the first time in I don’t know how long.  I don’t care if it was a placebo effect.  I’m just glad that it works quickly (I am a teensy bit impatient), and that it keeps working.  I’m on my second package.  It’s not cheap, but an 8 oz. container lasts me about a month.  50 cents a night for good sleep?  Sold!

So I still have all my worries, it’s just that I don’t lie awake at 3:30 a.m. (unless things are really really bad) doing math (and it’s always subtraction…) in my head, ruminating on the state of my finances, my life, my family, the world.  I save it for when I’m awake, which is better (no, really) because things always seem much worse in the middle of the night. And I feel like I’m a bit calmer during the day now (which would be why they call it the “anti-stress drink” on the label).  Now I can sleep almost every night, for most of the night.  Perhaps I wake up for a few minutes here and there, but I usually don’t have the endless mind-racing, tossing-turning, panic-inducing insomnia that has been plaguing me for a very long time.   Give Natural Vitality Natural Calm a whirl.

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