18 December 2020

Fifteen Years

I was a bit surprised to realize I started this blog fifteen years ago today: 18 December 2005. I did 19 posts that first year, and a total of 1201 in all these years combined. When this blog began, Facebook was limited to schools and universities; and Twitter and other social media forms did not yet exist.

Over the years, people lost interest in blogs, replacing them in their lives with social media. I think that’s kinda sad as I prefer the longer form platform where I can share a story or a thought. The newer platforms seem best for people with short attention spans, who only want to converse in 140 characters (since expanded to 280 – which seems too short for some politicians).

In the end, what is the point of this post? Nothing much, really; just a desire to observe that I’ve been writing this blog sporadically for one-quarter of my life.

13 December 2020

The Kissing Bug

I was in scouting most of my childhood. We did a lot of activities, including spending weekends in Northern Arizona on nature outings for which my father was sometimes chaperone. During the winter, our troop would sell mistletoe for the season. To do this, our troop and some dads would go up into the Northern Arizona forests and find outcrops of parasitic mistletoe growing on trees. I have no photographs of my involvement in this, but I have lots of memories.

We had long pruning sticks that we would use to cut off bunches of mistletoe (no one was allowed to climb into the towering trees), gather them into bundles and then go home. This took a good part of the day. Next step was getting together to put small bunches of mistletoe into plastic bags. After that, we would pick a series of dates to sit outside grocery stores and sell these bags. I think they were priced at 25-cents each. We donated the proceeds to different charities over the years.

I remember being very enthusiastic about this project. It was fun harvesting the mistletoe, bagging it and selling it. My strongest memory of the project was how sticky my hands would get from the juice of the squished berries.

24 September 2020

The Onion Dance

You know how you go into a fast-food restaurant, order and walk away with your custom-made food in about a minute? It wasn’t always like that. Case in point: in the late 1960s, when I was a kid, we would go to McDonald’s on rare occasions as a very special treat. You might remember, back then, burgers were made, wrapped and slipped down a slot – all day, all night, non-stop. The cashier would grab the first burger in line and give it to the customer – but not when it was a “custom order.”

I have never been able to digest onions; it’s something like an allergy. So, when my mom would order my cheeseburger, she had to ask for it without onions. That seems really simple doesn’t it? It’s easy now; but when my mother uttered those words, “No onions on the cheeseburger,” you could almost hear the food-production line come to a screeching halt.

She paid, and we were directed to stand at the side of the counter. We would wait, and wait, for what must have been five minutes for them to go slaughter a cow, butcher it, grind up some part of it, form it into a patty and then grill it without onions.

My mother stood in the corner, fuming. She wasn’t angry at the delay; she was angry at me for being the only person in the family with food allergies. Gee, sorry mom!

For a long time into adulthood, I resisted going to a fast-food restaurant knowing I would have to do the onion dance. I preferred places like Kentucky Fried Chicken (no onions) Taco Bell (lots of their menu items don’t have onions). Now, however, it seems like a new law has been passed that says every food item has to be made with onions. So, I ask every food-server, every time, if a certain something does or not have onions. It’s very annoying, but I have to do it or risk getting sick.

Just imagine how fun it is when I order it without onions, and it comes with onions, and I ask to have it made over. The production line comes to a screeching halt again while the cook goes out to find a fresh cow.