Macro Monday: Salty Pop

 

macro pop

My husband and I have popcorn making down to a science of deliciousness, using an electric popper that stirs the kernels as they pop in extra light olive oil. We have tried sesame oil as well. Either oil does the trick for flavor and eliminates the need for butter. As it sits steaming in its clear plastic bowl, I add the salt.

Popcorn has been my snack of choice for decades. Last week a fresh batch caught the setting sun streaming into the kitchen…resulting in an impromptu photo session.

We were preparing for an evening of entertainment…stay-at-home pandemic style. One of many such evenings since March. First on the list was catching up on movies we had meant to see before the Academy Awards broadcast in February. Movies such as Bombshell and Richard Jewell, which feature nominated actresses. Both films were excellent.

We also discovered an amazing documentary from 2015: The Wrecking Crew. And checked out a movie released right before movie theaters closed…The Way Back.

Who knows when we will be able to enter a movie theater again the “old way.” Without worrying about our health and safety. Local theaters are opening this week but with new rules and procedures. I’m not sure when I will feel comfortable trusting that those sitting nearby will follow those rules. In the meantime, we have our own homestyle theater which works just fine. Along with the best popcorn around.

 

Ragtag Daily Prompt: SALTY

Covid Push

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #101: Decisions

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dark clouds

I’m done two weeks from tomorrow!

My friend of over 30 years called a few days ago with the news. She had made the decision to “retire” after 35+ years from her job in outpatient healthcare at a physician’s office owned by a local hospital. I put quotation marks with retire because her decision was made out of desperation. It was not made easily. It wasn’t what she had planned.

It’s the Covid push.

I had not heard the term before, but she mentioned it as an afterthought. We’d had many conversations over the last few months about the challenges she endured at work. The powers that be prioritized her schedule to include in-person visits throughout the entire pandemic. She has been terrified. At high risk herself, she was also counseling high risk patients. One after the other…when tele-health video visits would easily have sufficed.

Let’s remember, however, that insurance companies reimburse health care providers the most for in-person patient visits. Then there’s tele-health video…and the lowest reimbursement? Telephone counseling. It’s all about the money…don’t get me started.

My friend is an excellent practitioner and educator. Caring, thorough and the ultimate professional. She is also hoping to be around for her adult daughters and grandchildren for many more years to come.

It’s just not worth it anymore. I can’t do it.

I had never heard those words from her before. But there they were. Her husband, a teacher with the same risk factors, had been teaching at a public high school. He also “retired.”

They scrambled to restructure finances and find other health care options. But for the first time in many months, I heard relief in her voice.

The decision had…finally…been made.

Fandango’s Friday Flashback: June 26

Inspired by Fandango’s Friday Flashback: June 26

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year….Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year?

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This post was originally published on June 26, 2018. I am thrilled that this week’s flashback challenge coincides with the post I wrote in memory of my maternal grandfather.

Opa was a constant loving presence in my life…especially during childhood…and, as I remember it, always my biggest fan.

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Happy Birthday Opa

Beefeater’s martini straight up. No ice. Lemon peel on the side – if I wanted lemonade I would have ordered it. 

That’s how Opa ordered his drink – the first order in the first round of drinks – when he took our family out to dinner when I was growing up. It sounds kind of rude, but I would imagine if time after time he got the lemon peel in the drink…well, he ran out of patience. I would wait with great curiosity to see what the waiter or waitress would bring. The fancy stemmed glass filled with a clear liquid served on a small plate…where a few slices of lemon peel hopefully (!) would rest. I don’t remember where the olive was supposed to go. Worst case scenario: a glass filled with ice AND lemon peel AND the gin. High drama for us kids.

Next up was ordering off the menu. We could all order what we wanted. No children’s menu. I always felt so grown up learning the fine art of “find out what goes with the dinner.”

Split and toasted!

When the inevitable basket of dinner rolls arrived to keep us fed while waiting for the meals to arrive, Opa would send it back to the kitchen. Please have these rolls split and toasted! And they did and they were amazing and warm and crunchy with butter melting all over.

The bunny!

While we crunched on warm, toasty rolls, Opa made magic happen with his white cloth napkin. He turned, napkin hidden, to the side – carefully rolled, then twisted the cloth and…turned back to face us. And there in the crook of his left arm was a napkin “bunny” – that kept “hopping” up his arm as he patted it with his right hand. All the while he would be talking to it and to us. We’d stare and stare. Wow. That’s entertainment.

The bra!

As we got a bit older, the bunny didn’t capture our attention like Opa’s napkin bra could. He’d quick fold up his napkin, pull the corners and briefly hold it up in front of his tie and pressed suit jacket. Ta Da! Opa had a bra! Hysterical and ridiculous every time. This napkin trick embarrassed my mother immensely but thoroughly entertained his grandchildren. How did he do this? Simple (but I didn’t figure it out for a long time):

  1. Fold napkin so that the 2 sides meet in the middle.
  2. Fold the opposite way so the open edges are on the outside.
  3. Grab left corners with left hand and right corners with right hand and pull.

 

Sparklers!

When it was someone’s birthday, there was a cake brought out to the birthday girl or boy. A cake with a lit sparkler! The cake could be seen from across the dining room shooting sparks into the air.  As it was set before you everybody sang Happy Birthday to You, You Belong in a Zoo….

***

I am honoring my Opa’s memory on June 26th – what would have been his 112th birthday – by sharing his restaurant tricks & talents. Valuable hints for grandparents everywhere. How to continue embarrassing your children and endearing you to your grandchildren forever.

Happy Birthday Opa!

opa&me

 

Lens-Artists Challenge: A Quiet Moment

Lens-Artists Challenge #102: A Quiet Moment

This week, we are challenging you to capture “A Quiet Moment.”  Maybe it’s a walk early in the morning or the time you sit down with a book and a cup of coffee.  Include shots captured at home or in your neighborhood, or from a trip to a faraway place months or years ago. It’s totally up to you.

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There have been many quiet moments in the last 3 months. More than usual.

Much of the time those moments were also peaceful, particularly during solitary walks around the neighborhood next to mine. The winding street was usually empty. Cars remained parked in garages or driveways. People staying-at-home indoors, except for a few dog walkers.

There is a pond tucked in a bend in the road – which (I assume) holds water for irrigation and firefighting purposes. I usually pause for a moment when I pass by and captured this moment a few weeks ago.

cupalo and bench
June 2020

However…6 months ago…quiet moments were few and far between at my daughter’s house during the hectic holiday season. What with a talkative 3 year old whirlwind, parents and grandparents everywhere you’d turn, it was a home filled with happy noise. Music! Making cookies! Telling stories! Playing games! Time to eat! Grandma come!

There were also two sweet family dogs trying to adapt to all this fun craziness. At least that’s what I sensed. One was a friendly brown and white rescue named Taco, who was visiting for several weeks. He actually belongs to my son and his girlfriend, who traveled to Europe for the holidays. And there was Lutra (the resident pet!), a friendly black rescue dog, who belongs to my daughter and her family.

I was fascinated by the dynamic between the two pups. Taco made himself at home immediately. Lying on the couch. Napping in Lutra’s bed. Chewing on her toys. Lutra would immediately leave the area when Taco entered…and then stare at him from under the kitchen table in the next room.

However, something was apparently resolved during a loud barking session between the two in the backyard shortly after my husband and I arrived for our visit. Lutra was (I assume) communicating an important dog message. Perhaps establishing something along the lines of packs and boundaries and this is my house. I’m obviously just guessing here. But after their noisy discussion they came back into the house…entered the living room and chose seats. And that was that.

Thankfully, the Singing Santa had mercifully stopped its journey across the rug.

Neither one of them moved during the many shots I took.

A Quiet Moment of Dog Detente.

quiet dog moment
December 2019

Macro Monday: Gone to Seed

How many of you used to look for those white puffballs as a kid? Those mysterious used-to-be dandelions with fuzzy heads that mysteriously appeared every year – sprouting up in lawns most everywhere.

I did. I was never disappointed.

I’d gently pick one…carefully…at the base of the stem…and then blow the fluffy hairs all over the place. Or run around and wave it back and forth until the fluff was gone.

If I was really lucky I found a perfect one, all hairy things (as I called them) still attached. It didn’t go over too well with my parents who were trying to rid the yard of dandelions.

Those are the seeds. Stop! Those are the seeds!

OH WELL!

There are plenty of dandelions where I live now and nobody would care if I were to resurrect such rebellious behavior from childhood. I don’t think it is listed as a prohibited activity in the long list of condo Rules and Regulations.

However, now…I have a healthier respect for the natural progression of all things nature – as well as the fact that running through the woods waving an old dandelion would not be nearly as easy and carefree as it used to be.

I’d rather take its picture…

Dandelion gone to seed

It got me thinking…what is a dandelion called when it gets to this stage of life…besides “old dandelion”?

How does it get from yellow petals to white seeds?

Apparently – and unsurprisingly – I’m not the only inquiring mind that wants to know. So for those interested…Ms. Google pointed me to a demonstration of the process on (where else) YouTube.

However, I could not find a consensus about an actual name for this stage except “white seed head”…”sometimes called blowballs or clocks.”

Mmmm…I think I prefer “puffball.” It has a nicer ring to it.

Lens-Artists Challenge: One Single Flower

Lens-Artists Challenge #101: One Single Flower

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: One Single Flower

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #100: Pause (...long enough to quiet the noise…)

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purple iris

I find this to be a congruous set of challenges happening in the same week. In particular, V.J.’s subtext to the topic of Pause…about quieting the noise. There has been way too much noise for me lately – on a personal level – more than I can often handle and process like I did “before.” To focus during the day. To sleep at night.

At the same time, I recognize the need for information, education – and change. All the noise urgently and justifiably vies for our collective public attention simultaneously. Ignited by fear. Anger. Not being heard. Not being properly informed.

I have no answers for any of this. I am just one single person among millions who are worried, tired and anxious. Many have more concerns than I do. Many have less.

raindrop flower

Let’s try to get out of our own heads and pause. Take time to listen and hear and read what others have to say. With open minds. Whether it be the scientists with news about the pandemic and what to do next. Or our fellow citizens protesting for justice and racial equality. Or even the politicians who will shape policy – one way or the other. Let’s reflect. Reach within for empathy. And…again…listen.

And…make a commitment to get out and vote when the time comes.

What does this have to do with One Single Flower?

A mass of flowers draws my attention briefly. After a while they blend in together. In the relative quiet of the walking path.

But the single flower…the one tiny flower among many? That’s what stops me.

yellow flower

The one all alone “out standing in its field” as if to say Look at me! I’m important too!

lone daisy

The one single flower…making itself known.

 

Macro Monday

I look forward to Macro Monday as it is dedicated to getting up close to the endless beauties of nature. I enjoy exploring the woods behind my condo as a source of inspiration, macro camera at the ready.

However, last week I got sidetracked by the bathroom faucets from hell. Both the leaking old and the leaking new.

As a result, this week’s Macro Monday contribution is instead inspired by the past ten days of ridiculousness in my own insignificant small world. One of those home repairs you think is going to be simple…and straightforward…yet it ISN’T. So after three unsuccessful attempts by a professional (yes, three) you fix it yourself. It’s called reading the directions.

I suppose the only silver lining is the diversion it provided from the much more important realities outside my front door. And the feeling of accomplishment in my tiny sliver of the universe.

Before discarding “this” into the trash, I removed any savable parts…and lo and behold…a macro shot for “these days”…

faucet bottom