Category Archives: Daily Prompt

One Word I Cannot Stand To Hear

I love the English language. And I’m fairly certain that I can say the same for anyone who loves to write as much as I do. There’s just something about the ability of being able to string words together to form sentences and putting sentences together to form paragraphs and then to arrange those very same paragraphs so that they form a story that has always thrilled me.

I can still remember the sense of wonder and excitement I felt when I first began to learn how to read. It seemed almost magical to me – that the books I read had the ability to transport me into other people’s lives, different lands and adventures beyond my imagination. It was as though I had unlocked a door to a whole new world and once I stepped through that door, I never wanted to leave.

Because of my love for reading, I must admit that I was a good student, especially when it came to the subject of English. I enjoyed learning about nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns, predicates, adverbs, etc. I think I have a fairly good command of the correct usage of the language, although I must admit that sometimes I do get hung up on our friend the “comma” and I do tend to use more commas than I should!

I also must tell you that when our children were growing up, I did correct them on their proper use of the English language. And I am proud to say that today they are very well-spoken young adults.

So, what word would I permanently ban from general usage? Well, let me say that there is one word that you would have never heard spoken in our household. As a matter of fact, I even hesitate to type it, but I will, for the sake of this writing, and that is the word “ain’t”. How I abhor that word. As a matter of fact, every time I hear someone utter that word, it makes my toes cringe. I’ve even heard people say things like “I ain’t got no time to do that.” And I think, “There’s that awful word – and a double negative with it! My poor ears!”

This word is supposedly a contraction for “am not,” “are not,” or “is not,” but its usage is generally considered non-standard by dictionaries and style guides except when used for rhetorical effect, and it is rarely found in formal written works. There’s a reason for a that. Because it is non-standard. There is absolutely no reason to use this word. We have words like “aren’t” and “isn’t” instead. We don’t need to use the word “ain’t.”

Now I realize that there have been some exceptions throughout history that have used this word quite successfully. There have been famous recordings such as “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” and “Ain’t That a Shame,” but these are examples of song lyrics, not everyday language. This word has also been used in both speech and writing to catch attention and to give emphasis, as in “Ain’t that a crying shame,” or “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

But the above examples are exceptions to the rule, not the norm.

Now let’s get back to that last phrase: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In this case – why don’t we fix it? Let’s just eliminate this one word from the English language. It’s such a lovely language. Why don’t we keep it that way?

 

School Days

appleSchool days, school days,
Dear old Golden Rule days!
Reading and ‘riting and ‘rithmetic
Taught to the tune of a hick’ry stick.

I loved being a student, from the time I was in kindergarten. I never minded it when it was time to wake up early in the morning and go off to school, even in the middle of the cold Minnesota winters. And there were no school buses to transport us to our elementary school. Yes – we had to walk six blocks, even in what was sometimes 30 degree below windchill temperatures! My mother would bundle us up to ward off the freezing temperatures, and to me it was worth it.

I enjoyed learning everything, from art to science. And the year that I began to learn how to read – now that was banner year for me. I remember how excited I was to learn that if you put together letters in a certain way then you could form words and those words could form sentences and that this was the key to reading. And from there you could write. Yes, reading opened up a whole new world for me.

I’ll admit that I was a good student and learning did come easily to me. My mind was always hungry for new knowledge and I soaked up any new knowledge like a sponge. I was receptive to any and all teaching. Maybe that’s why I was a good student. And when report card time came, I was always proud to bring it home to show my parents how well I had done. We were never rewarded with anything but praise for a job well done. And I was content with that.

I’ve always valued a good education and believe that it is the foundation for a good future. My husband and I instilled this value of a good education into our children as they were growing up. While they were in school, we always told them that they needed to do their best, and if their best was a “C” at report card time, that was okay. We never rewarded our children monetarily for their grades. And they always did their best. I’m proud to say that all three of our children graduated from college with bachelor’s degrees. And they all worked their way through college, too. Not only that, but our youngest daughter just completed her first year pursuing her master’s degree in music performance on the cello.

Am I bragging? I guess maybe I am. But as a mother I just can’t help it. I’m so proud of all of my children. I’m proud that I was able to pass on my love of school to all of them and that it shows. And I know that my children will pass that love on to their children.

And this is one of my greatest accomplishments.

So what do I miss about being in school? Everything.

 

 

Grandma’s Lilacs

Our sense of smell is our most powerful sense and smell and memory are closely linked, probably more so than any of our other senses. Those with full olfactory function may be able to think of smells that evoke particular memories; the scent of an orchard in blossom conjuring up recollections of a childhood picnic, for example. This can often happen spontaneously, with a smell acting as a trigger in recalling a long-forgotten event or experience. This is because the olfactory nerve is located very close to the area of the brain that is connected to the experience of emotion as well as emotional memory. In addition, the olfactory nerve is very close to the hippocampus, which is associated with memory; thus, the experience of the sense of smell evoking a memory. In addition to being the sense most closely linked to memory, smell is also highly emotive. The perfume industry is built around this connection, with perfumers developing fragrances that seek to convey a vast array of emotions and feelings; from desire to power, vitality to relaxation.

lilacs

As for myself, whenever I catch the scent of lilacs blooming in the spring, it reminds me of my Grandma Kramlinger. Grandma kept a beautiful garden, and her lilac bushes were her pride and joy. She not only had lilac-colored bushes, but also white, blue, dark purple, lavender, and pink. The blossoms were fragrant and cheerful, and as soon as you came upon her house, the aroma would drift all around you, assailing your senses with the sweet smell of springtime.

I have such lovely childhood memories of Sundays when she would arrive at our house for Sunday dinner. Her arms would be laden with lilac blossoms, and she’d say to my mother, “Here’s something to grace the table.” Mom would take the lilac flowers and fashion them into a lovely bouquet, put them into a vase filled with water and place them in the center of our dinner table. And there they would stay throughout the week, a reminder of Grandma, until the next Sunday when she came to visit again with fresh lilacs to replace them.

Now whenever I catch the scent of lilacs in the springtime, I wonder if the lilac bushes still bloom in her garden, and if the people who live in her house now are still appreciating their cheerful blossoms and simple beauty and enjoying their sweet fragrance.

 

The First Half of 2015

How is my year shaping up so far? When 2015 rolled around, I decided that the only New Year’s resolution I’d make would be that I’d try to take life a little less seriously. I have a habit of becoming stressed out pretty easily, which may partially explain my high blood pressure. My husband and children are constantly telling me: “Chill out. Calm down. don't stressRelax.” And of course, all this does is only get me more upset. But I have been making a more concentrated effort to not get so stressed out about the unimportant things in life. I’ve decided to save it for real life emergencies like the house burning down. So far, I’m making pretty good progress. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m getting only slightly panicked when I have a bad hair day.

As far as my biggest achievements thus far for the year are concerned, I am proud to say that I have now been taking piano lessons for the last sixteen months. That’s not bad, considering that I just began taking piano lessons at the age of piano 50058. It has been a lifelong dream which was finally realized. And I can honestly say that it has been everything that I had hoped and dreamed that it would be and more.

I love playing the piano. It makes me feel as though I’ve finally found that piece of myself that I’ve been missing all my life. I’ve always had a profound love of music and have always been able to express that love through singing. But now I can do the same thing when I play the piano, which brings me even greater joy.

I practice every day, sometimes twice or even three times a day. Most of the time I practice for at least an hour or even longer if my back will allow me to do so. I have problems with low back pain, so sometimes I am limited in the amount of time that I can sit at the piano. Even an hour is too long at times, which is when I will actually wear a back brace so that I can sit at the piano longer. This is how much I love to play. I am willing to suffer to be able to play the piano.

I know that I will never be a great pianist. I know that I’ll never get to the point where I’ll be able to be an accompanist at our church. But that doesn’t matter to me. I play for myself and if no one ever hears me play, I don’t really care. All that matters to me is that I am able to play.

My other accomplishment is that I have begun to go out and get some exercise, which I truly needed, and it came in a form that was totally unexpected but very enjoyable. I have become a pickleball player. Have you ever heard of pickleball? It’s a great game which is a combination of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. It’s played with a paddle and apickleball 2 wiffle ball on a short court, which is great for me because it means you don’t have to run as far as you would if you were playing tennis, which I’ve tried before and did not succeed at doing.

I’ve been playing mostly with my three sisters and we play what we call a “friendly” game, meaning that if someone doesn’t get the serve right the first time, we allow a second, third, or even fourth serve. We’re just beginners, after all. And we’ve been having so much fun playing together. But I’ve decided that I’m going to join a local pickleball club which meets three mornings out of the week because I could use some coaching. Yes, that’s how much I love this new game! All I can say is: “Watch out, Sisters! Before the summer’s out, I’m going to be the best pickleball player ever!”

All in all, I think the first half of 2015 has gone pretty well for me. Granted, there have been bumps in the road with unexpected twists and turns, but I think I’ve navigated them okay so far.

Now if I could just get my sewing room cleaned out like I promised myself I would . . .

 

A Thief in the Night

I’ve discovered that the older I’ve become, the more vulnerable I’ve become to the monster who creeps in the night and tries at all costs to rob me of one of my most valuable and precious commodities – sleep. I’ve come to call this monster “The Sleep Thief.” You may know it as “insomnia.” This is a truly horrible experience that I would not wish even on my worst enemy.insomnia2

Is the image on the right familiar to you?  If the answer is yes, then you, too, are familiar with this selfish monster, and the chances are very good that it has also robbed you of precious hours of sleep.

This awful creature held me hostage last night, and the same old tired (pardon the pun) story played itself out again. I was so upset that I even resented my poor husband, who was resting so peacefully on his side of the bed, deep in the throes of his own pleasant dreams. To tell you the truth, what I really wanted to do was hit him with my pillow so that he would wake up – after all, misery loves company!

But no matter how much I pleaded, I could not coax Mr. Sandman to sprinkle his magic sleeping dust over me so that I could obtain the blessed relief of slumber. I tried counting sheep, but even that did not help.

counting-sheepI found myself watching the clock as each second of every single minute of all the hours ticked slowly by.

So I thought I would get up in the hopes that I might fall asleep in front of some late night television program, but to no avail. I tried reading a book – the most boring book I could find – but even that could not lull me into slumber. By this time, I was getting desperate. A glass of warm milk, which normally I despise and under no circumstances would even think of consuming, did nothing to persuade my now-wide awake body to fall into the dearly desired land of dreams.

Then I came up with the brilliant idea of taking a long soak in a warm bubble bath. This always helps to soothe my nerves and makes me sleepy by the time I’m finished. So as I soaked my tired body, there were aromatherapy candles flickering on the vanity, while I listened to my favorite relaxing melodies. After a soothing twenty minutes in the bathtub, the lovely sleepy feeling that I had been yearning for all night long was finally taking its gentle hold upon my body.

I dressed myself in my pajamas and was just about to climb back into bed next to my sleeping husband when our little toy poodle Lucy awakened to go outside for her usual morning routine. And guess who had to take care of her? You guessed it. Yours truly.  And then the alarm went off. It figures.

At least there’s a bright side to my visit from the“thief in the night.” It gave me something to write about in my blog today. Thank God for small favors.

QUOTE FOR TODAY:“Oh sleep! It is a gentle thing, beloved from pole to pole.”Samuel Taylor Coleridge ~

My Best Event

My Best Event

A Special Treat

If I ever became famous enough that a restaurant would name a dish after me, that would be one of those red-letter days that I would never have expected to occur in my lifetime, that’s for sure.

I have never wished for fame or fortune, because I believe that they are but fleeting commodities. As far as fortune is concerned, I believe that it’s not having “things” in life that makes a person happy. The “things” that you possess grow old and worn out, but it’s your loved ones who are your greatest treasure. Their love for you will never fade and it will shine brighter as time goes on. And fame? Many times a person only gets their fifteen minutes of fame. As for me, I truly love the people who I know and who know and love me – my family and my friends. They’re the ones who matter to me, not the entire world. And they will know and love me for the rest of my life, not just fifteen minutes.

But . . . if a restaurant did name a dish after me, it would not be a sandwich. I’m just not a sandwich person. So, if they came to me and asked me what kind of dish I’d like them to prepare in my honor and name after me, I would say: “Make it a dessert!” Oh yes, definitely – dessert! And on second thought, make it a chocolate dessert!” Because anyone who Cindy's Chocolate Truffle Treatknows me knows that I love chocolate!

This dessert would have plenty of rich velvety chocolate truffles, ooey-gooey caramel sauce, finely crushed walnuts, all served over two scoops of French vanilla ice cream with chocolate sprinkles, with two cherries on top, and hot fudge sauce on the side.

And as for the name – Cindy’s Chocolate Truffle Treat.

I know the dessert that I described sounds rather simple. It’s really not that fancy. After all, there’s no stirring, no whipping, no cooking, no frying, and no baking. It’s very easy to make. As a matter of fact, you could make this at home very easily.

And that’s the whole point. After all, I don’t care about fame or fortune. I’m happy just being me. And if some day a little fame comes way, that’s fine. But if not, I won’t miss it. Because I already have what I need right here and now.

Mmm . . .  I think I’m going to make my own little chocolate treat . . .

QUOTE OF THE DAY: What is fame? The advantage of being known by people of whom you yourself know nothing, and for whom you care as little.” ~ Lord Byron

There’s Nothing Like Mom’s Home Cooking

To me one of the best things in life is to sit down and enjoy a wonderful meal, and the best part of a wonderful meal is if you are sharing it with family.

family eating 10I grew up as the middle child of seven children, and we never failed to sit down to dinner together as an entire family every single day. It was an expectation. As a matter of fact, it was a rule that if the telephone rang during the dinner hour, it was never answered so that we could eat our meal uninterrupted by the outside world. And we never ate our meals in front of the television set. That would be absolutely unthinkable! Instead, we shared the details of our lives, which later became the model for me and my husband’s dinner rules when raising our own children.

When I consider what my favorite meal is, it’s one that my mother used to prepare as I was growing up: chicken and dumplings. My mom made the best chicken and dumplings I’ve ever had the pleasure to taste (naturally, I’m probably biased). And my favorite part of the meal were the potato dumplings.

My mother was full-blooded German, and her mother taught her how to make those delicious potato dumplings that I loved so much. I remember that whenever I learned that we were going to have chicken and dumplings for supper, I’d look forward to it for the rest of the day, and could hardly wait for supper to arrive, just so I could eat those dumplings! And eventually I figured out that whenever we had leftover mashed potatoes after Sunday dinner that the next night was the time we’d have the potato dumplings, because the mashed potatoes were the main ingredient for the dumplings. She’d mix the mashed potatoes with flour and I think she used milk and then she’d dumplingsdrop them into the boiling water. Now these dumplings weren’t your spoon-sized dumplings. They were indeed the size of potatoes, and once they had chicken gravy ladled over them, they were so tasty.

After I was married, I tried to make those potato dumplings, but they’d never turn out the same as my mother’s. I’d call her and say, “Mom, the dumplings didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to. What did I do wrong?” She’d just laugh and say, “Cindy, it just takes practice, that’s all.” Of course, she didn’t have a “recipe” for them. She just made them the way any good cook does – by memory and instinct. I never have been able to duplicate them to this very day.

And her baked chicken was always the juiciest, moistest, most tender chicken you’ve ever had. It makes my mouth water to think of it. Those two things, (the chicken and dumplings) together with some corn on the cob and hot rolls and butter makes the perfect meal.

I only wish my mom were still here to share a meal with our entire family, but knowing that she’s watching over us and that some day we will see her again makes me smile.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child?”   ~ Lin Yutang

 

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