THE SOLACE OF FRESH FLOWERS

Are you tired of dreary winter days?  Do you remember the song, ” Hello Walls?”  Yes, you’re looking at those same walls, and windows and ceilings, day after day,  You wonder if you can hang on until Spring without having a minor meltdown.  Cheer up!   There is one thing you can do to brighten your life right now.  You can go to the store and buy a bunch of daffodils or daisies, and enjoy the solace of fresh flowers.

Fresh Flowers can boost your mood if you're winter weary
SCIENTIFIC STUDIES SHOW THAT FRESH FLOWERS CAN BRIGHTEN YOUR MOOD

Many years ago, we visited East Germany right after the Berlin Wall had come down.  It was shocking to see evidence of bombings from World War II still intact—broken out windows, shattered buildings.  Those people were just coming out of a very dark period in their history. And yet, everywhere you looked, you saw men and women walking along the streets with bouquets of fresh flowers.  That sent me a message I’ve never forgotten.  When times are tough, take the time to stop and smell the roses.

You may think of flowers as a luxury or an extravagance.  I suppose they are, since they will start to wilt in  in a few days.  But so what?  By then, they’ve done their job of boosting your mood every time you gaze at them, and smell their lovely fragrance.

Several scientific studies have proven the health benefits of fresh flowers.

The Journal of Evolutionary Psychology reported that women who received fresh flowers felt happier for up to three days, and that flowers given to elderly people boosted their memory.

Another study showed that hospital patients who had fresh flowers in their room recovered faster, and felt less pain, anxiety and stress.

In  Tokyo  a Japanese study offered proof that office workers felt more positive and relaxed after just four minutes of looking at a bouquet  of roses.  The effect on their mood was similar to the positive feelings you experience while walking in a beautiful park.

If you’re sick of winter and looking to boost your mood, flowers are a better investment that chocolate or wine.  They last longer, and don’t have any calories.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,

Old Time is still a-flying;

And this same flower that smiles today

To-morrow will be dying.

Robert Herrick , 1647

OSCARS 2019: The Good, Bad & Strange

Every year,  I say I won’t  watch the Academy Awards Ceremony–and yet when my husband turns on the television, I find I’m sitting there with him.  This year promised to be better because they made some changes in the overall format.  The show was less boring than usual, but not great. The way it looks from here:  Oscars 2019: The Good,  Bad, and Strange.

The Good:

Who needs a Master Of Ceremonies at the Oscars: It was better this year without one.
THE ACADEMY AWARDS SHOW WAS BETTER THIS YEAR WITHOUT A MASTER OF CEREMONIES

Winners were advised they could only use up 90 seconds in their acceptance speeches.  I think a lot of them exceeded the limit, but they did get off the stage pretty quickly.

No Master of Ceremonies.  Hooray!  I can remember so many cringe worthy moments from past shows. Like the time David Letterman kept repeating Uma, Uma, over and over again.  Worse yet, they turned it into a forum to spout  their political beliefs.  Who wants to hear about politics when you’re watching movie stars?

Clips of nominated movies.  This is the best part of the show, and helps you decide which movies you want to see in the next few months.

The Bad:

I held my breath each time a woman with a long, flowing gown and  stiletto heels managed to make it up those stairs  to the stage without teetering over.  Safety Issue: guard rails needed.

Award winner read her acceptance speech from an i phone..  We had to wait for her to find the app.  After a few fumbles, she rattled  off a bunch of thank yous to numerous people whose names I couldn’t decipher, and had never heard of.

What do they have against Glenn Close?  Awards  are puzzling, and seem to be based on biases and internal politics rather than talent.

The Strange:

Male winners wearing stocking caps on stage.

Female presenters with big shoulder pads.  This fashion has been in an out of style every ten years since I can remember.  Is it supposed the make a woman look more powerful?  I think this just makes them look weird.

Stiff female hairdos that looked like they’d been painted  with shellac.  Hit them with a hammer and they might crack. Whatever happened to soft , fluffy  tresses?

Bill Porter in his tuxedo/gown.

Finally, There is still a huge difference in dress standards for men and women.  Except for Bill Porter, most men can  get away with  any old tuxedo, and look  like every  other man in the place.  Black, white, ho mum.  But ye gads.  Women must spend thousands of dollars to appear in a designer dress.  Glenn Close confided that her gown weighed 42 pounds! In comparison,  how much does a man’s tuxedo weigh?  Yep, there’s definitely a double standard for the men and the women.

But that’s Hollywood.

SHOULD YOU TAKE A DNA TEST?

A few years ago, my children decided that all of us should take a DNA test.  I really didn’t want to know if I had a marker for some serious disease , but just to please them, I forced some spit out of my dry mouth into a test tube. The results left me wondering: should you take a DNA test?

DNA TESTING IS NOT AN EXACT SCIENCE

My test , the first of its kind,  cost my kids $150.  Now, several  DNA testing companies have gotten in on the act.  You can spend anywhere from $90 to $190 for a DNA analysis. Someone had a Christmas special for $59 which apparently pulled in some big bucks. About half the young people I know had received one as a  Christmas present.   What are they hoping to find when they get the results?  The TV ads picture a person who thought he was mostly German and turned out to be half Spanish.  So how will that new found knowledge change his life or make him any happier?

Some people aren’t pleased with the results. One friend, upon discovering that he was one fourth Jewish,  concluded that his maternal grandmother, who was an actress, must have had an affair with her Jewish director.  It didn’t occur to him that 100 years ago, many Jewish immigrants  changed their surname to avoid the discrimination that was so widespread at the time.  And what does it matter now?

As I said before, many companies have jumped in on the DNA Testing cash cow. According to a reporter from Science News,  you can get tests from at least five different organizations, and get five different results.  Why are the results so different? Because DNA testing is a very inexact science.

My results didn’t tell me much. I always knew I came from French, German, English and Irish ancestry.  The DNA analysis told me I was of “Northern European” heritage, which means absolutely nothing at all.  Europeans from every part of that continent have roamed around the globe for thousands of years, starting wars, intermarrying, raping the conquered, and traveling to find better opportunities.

One important aspect of the test purported to show genetic “markers” for various diseases.   It did show that I don’t have the Alzheimer’s marker, but even if I had, it didn’t mean I was going to get the disease. To tell the truth, at this age, I don’t want to know that I might or might not  come down with.  If and when that happens, I will deal with it at the time. I certainly don’t want to spend the rest of my life waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Children who were adopted, or perhaps in foster care, might  benefit from DNA testing.  They might even find some siblings if they, too, had submitted their spit to a DNA testing company.  Other than that, it seems to me it’s much ado about nothing.

EASY ASPARAGUS PIMENTO SALAD

Are you tired of serving tossed salad every night? Looking for something fresh and different?  As a senior fixing dinner for two, I don’t want fancy recipes that take too many ingredients.  I’ve been making  easy asparagus pimento salad for years, especially in the springtime when asparagus is plentiful.

Five ingredients are all that’s needed:

Looking for an alternative to tossed salad? Try asparagus pimento salad.
Asparagus Salad needs only 5 ingredients and it’s super easy to assemble

Lettuce leaf

Half a pound  asparagus

Two teaspoons diced pimentos,

Bottle of 1,000 island dressing,

One sliced, hard boiled egg.

Preparation  takes only a few minutes:

Wash the asparagus, then trim off tough ends. I use about five spears for each individual salad .  Don’t bother steaming or boiling; just place the asparagus in a shallow bowl  with a little water.  Cook in microwave for about 3 minutes or when asparagus is crisp/tender. Run under cold water. Pat until dry..

On two salad plates, arrange  lettuce leaves topped with asparagus spears.

Sprinkle about one teaspoon of diced red pimento over spears.

Top with egg slices.

Provide a bottle of 1,000 island dressing, and let each person help themselves, according to their taste.

The salad itself is a mere 20 calories.  1,000 island dressing adds extra calories, depending on the serving size.

If you want something a little more unusual , you can find many asparagus pimento salad recipes on the internet.

For a healthy meal, serve with baked salmon and new potatoes.

Enjoy!

6 REASONS TO DISLIKE SPRING

No matter where I’ve been this week, someone has complained about the cold weather.  Everyone is getting sick of Winter and longing for Spring.  But wait a minute.  Here are 6 reasons to dislike Spring:

1. Mosquito bites

In my state of Indiana, mosquito season starts in early March.  This means I’ll have to slather myself with bug spray if I walk in the park.  Some people, aren’t especially bothered by mosquito bites, but they can make me miserable.  Mosquito bites can also be dangerous, causing serious diseases like West Nile virus.  Note to self: stock up on anti-itch salve and bug spray before the season begins

2. Bee Stlngs:

Bee stings can be deadly.
Bee’s start pollinating in the Spring. If you get in their way, they will sting.

Starting in April, bees get busy pollinating.  If you get in their way, you’ll get stung.  Bee venom causes pain and swelling around the sting area that  doesn’t stop for a couple of days.   Many people are allergic to bee stings, which can cause severe immune reactions, and even death.  If you get dizzy and sick, or have trouble breathing after  a bee sting, call 911..

3. Tornadoes

While tornadoes can occur anytime, anywhere, they’re most apt to occur in March or April.  I lived through a tornado once on April 4, and it was terrifying.  First, you hear a sound like a freight train. That’s when you dive for cover in the basement or the Southwest corner of your house, or the bathroom.  When it was over, and our house was spared, we saw that the tornado had zigzagged around the neighborhood, totally destroying houses at random.  Luckily, no one was hurt.

4. Road Construction

Watch out for road construction in early March.
Road construction begins in early March.
Drivers and riders are often killed when someone doesn’t slow down or stop.

The season starts in March and last through November. How many times have you set out on a road trip, only to get stuck in a traffic stall due to road construction?   We don’t travel much anymore, but when we did, we were prepared with urinal devices if we had to stop at an inconvenient time.

Warm weather months bring major road projects, and a  lot of danger for drivers and workers. More than four out of five people killed in constructions areas are riders and drivers. A four lane road that’s reduced to two lanes increases the chances of a head on collision. Rear-end collisions  can happen when a careless driver rushes into a work zone and hits someone who is stopped or obeying the reduced speed limit.

5. Yard Work

In our city, homeowners typically start mowing their lawns in early April.  Some people enjoy  mowing  their lawns, but most  don’t.  If you’re one of those people who hires a lawn service, you monthly expenses are going to increase between now and late fall And if you opt to mow your own lawn, be prepared for frequent mower breakdowns, which can be frustrating and  costly.

6. Taxes

Spring is tax time.
Even if you hope for a refund, filing your tax returns can be a headache.

Even if you’re hoping for a refund, preparing a tax return is a hassle.  Gathering the proper forms and documents is time consuming and nerve wracking.  Many people have their taxes done by an accountant, but that doesn’t save you from assembling the necessary paperwork.  Even worse, you may still owe more taxes!

And if you’re a homeowner, you’ll probably be getting a bill for your property taxes.

And so, my friends, don’t look out the window and long for Spring.  Enjoy the benefits of Winter  for just a little while longer.

WHAT ARE THEY HIDING?

When I see a car with dark, tinted windows, it makes me wonder: what are they hiding? Are they naked? Do they have a backseat full of guns or stolen goods? Are they on the run from the law and hope to avoid being recognized?

Today, when coming out of Walmart, I saw a man holding a little boy while trying to load his trunk. A white car with very dark windows whirled around them. If that father had moved an inch– he would have been run over. By then, the car was coming toward me. I tried to make eye contact with the driver, but it was impossible. And so, I stood stock still, hoping he wouldn’t knock me down.

The car turned into a parking place. Two men and a woman emerged with hats pulled down on their forehead, looking neither to the right or left, and hurried into the store. You had to wonder what was in that car that they didn’t want anyone to see. Or, maybe, they just thought they were being cool.

Blacked out cars pose a safety hazard to drivers and pedestrians, alike
It’s illegal to have darkly tinted car  windows, but the law is seldom enforced

Car window tinting has been a controversial issue for many years. It makes sense, in some cases. . Light tinting reduces glare, and controls the temperature inside the car. However, there are laws regarding the darker tints. The law allows a maximum tint of 30% on vehicle windows.

Pedestrians and  drivers need to see other drivers and make eye contact when on the road or in parking lots. . Whether it’s to wave another car into traffic, or let a pedestrian know it’s safe to cross because the car is stopping, eye contact can be as effective as turn signals.

Heavy tints obstruct the work of police and rescue workers in accidents and criminal pursuit. In addition, other drivers may be intimidated by a fully blacked out car. Nevertheless, many people defy the law and tint their windows much darker than what’s allowed..

Safety experts estimate more than 10 percent of vehicles have illegal window tinting. But do they get stopped by police and ticketed.? No, they don’t. The law is mostly ignored because the cops say they’re too busy chasing speeders and other driving violations.

In a country with so many road deaths, eliminating the use of illegal window tints ought to be a priority. Instead of dark tinting, drivers can wear sunglasses to avoid glare, and dress more modestly. Air conditioning will cool a car that’s been parked in the sun. The law , which provides for a fine and 30-day confiscation of the vehicle, should be enforced. Businesses that offer illegal tinting services should be penalized, too.

Meanwhile, watch out for dark tinted cars. Let them get ahead of you on the highway, and stop if they’re coming toward you on a crosswalk. Blacked out cars are a safety hazard.

A RARE SIGN OF LOVE

Remember that line  from the song Chicago?  “I saw a man, he danced with his wife.”  Yesterday, I saw a  man helping  his wife with her coat, and opening the door for her as they walked out of a restaurant. You don’t often see men doing things like that anymore. Chivalry is a rare sign of love.

They were a middle aged couple, both a bit overweight.  But the woman was attractive, with high heels, carefully groomed blonde hair, and stylish clothes.  She didn’t mind being treated with love and respect, and her husband obviously enjoyed treating her like a lady.  Is there something wrong with this picture? Apparently so.

Modern feminist researchers call this type of behavior “benevolent sexism.”  They say that treating a woman like this shows that he considers his wife weak, and in need of protection.  That doesn’t sound so bad to this old lady.  Even though women are just as smart as men, it’s a biological fact that they aren’t as physically strong..

MOST WOMEN APPRECIATE A MAN WHO TREATS THEM LIKE A LADY. VIVE LA DIFFERENCE!

Believe it or not, when I was dating in the 50’s and 60’s, you waited until a man came to your door to pick you up for a date.  You would have felt insulted if a guy asked you to meet him somewhere..  But now, in big cities, a woman is expected to meet her date,  and get there on her own.    Everyone is equal.

We go to brunch occasionally at a college hangout.  I have never seen a young man holding a door open for his date.  Typically, one of them has their head down looking at their smart phones as they come and go.   Supposedly, a young feminist would consider it a put down if a guy treated her like a lady.

On Valentine’s Day, I propose the return of romance in a relationship.  What in the world is wrong  with “vive la difference” as the French say?   I feel loved and cherished on a cold winter day when my husband backs the car out of the garage and warms it up for a few minutes before I climb inside.  I’m not sure a feminist would enjoy that, but I do.

Happy Valentine’s Day↑