Plastic Magic

“I don’t believe you.”  I think I said this a million times.

“It’s true,” my mother, obviously exasperated with my disbelief, replied again and again.

“Are you sure? Are you really sure?”

“Yes. Yes, I’m sure – I wouldn’t lie to you about this.” Again she answered to my disbelief.

“As many as I want?”  I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was a flaw some place in her statement.

“Yes, as many as you want. You can get as many as you want.”  We went around and around again.

Even at age 6, I couldn’t believe I was allowed to get as many books as I wanted from the library.  AS MANY AS I WANTED. I don’t think there was another instance in my life where I was allowed an unlimited amount of something I wanted (we’re excluding peas here because, well I wanted to limit those from day one).  Could that little plastic card really give me access to ANYTHING I WANTED IN THE LIBRARY?  I was quite stunned. I stood there in our small village library with my arms filled up with books – all sorts of books. Picture books, Snoopy books, chapter books.  I wasn’t sure how all this worked – all I knew was that I could feed this ravenous monster inside me with books. As many books as I wanted….and when they were all read, someone would take me back to this magical place and let me get MORE books.  FOR FREE. It seemed the only thing I had to do was read and return them before the date stamped on the little rectangular piece of paper attached to the inside cover.  Since I had no concept of time, that wasn’t even a bother for me.

All I could think of was “What an amazing world I live in.”


“As many as I want?” My son couldn’t seem to grasp the idea.

“Yes,” I replied,”as many as you want.”

“We rent them? Does it cost as much as at the video rental store?” He asked.

“No, we don’t ‘rent’ them. We ‘borrow’ them. It means we check them out and then promise to bring them back after a certain amount of time.”  I think I had explained this a million times.

“Are you sure? That doesn’t seem right.” Argued my precocious 6 year old. “Are you saying I can get as many books as I want for free from this place and all you do is show them a plastic card?”

“Yes,” I explained, “that’s how a library works.”

He shook his head in disbelief as he approached the counter with his arms filled with books.  Picture books, Snoopy books, chapter books.  He conveyed to the librarian his disbelief and she assured him I was not telling tales out of school.

Another generation stunned by the magic of a piece of plastic.

Posted in Childhood, Education, Family, Humor, Language, Librarian, love, Parenting, Random Thoughts, Reading, Relationships, Story, Words | Tagged , , , , , | 55 Comments


Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher:

I want to share this on behalf of my dear friend. But also because I briefly knew Punky when I was just 15 years old, and saw with my own eyes how someone’s life can spiral out of control yet they still try to hold-on. Living with mental illness in a time when resources were more scarce and stigma was strong. She grew up too soon and left this earth too soon, and at times for her, it was not soon enough. I hope she finally finds some peace. She showed love in the best way she knew how and that is how she should be remembered.

Much love to you all

Originally posted on Mended Musings:


My sister, the year I was born.

I felt too tethered to the earth last week. I walked through each day with a sense that something was coming, or maybe more like something was happening but I didn’t know what. It was like that time I had a dream about the woman who adopted my cat. I only met her once but we became Facebook friends so that we could see pictures of Moo-Moo. I had a dream that her friends were stuck in a basement with a raging fire above them and they were screaming her name. The next morning, I saw on Facebook that she lost 5 of her friends in a fire.

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The Most Awesome Thing My Mom Did for Me

Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher:

My kid, age 12, is starting to like Nancy Drew graphic novels – which is so excellent as I loved Nancy Drew when I was his age. So I thought I’d reblog a favorite story in honor of reading.

Originally posted on The Mercenary Researcher:

When I was growing up I read quite a bit. I could spend literally 8 hours straight reading. Not to say I didn’t do other things- but when I was interested in a book – it engulfed me.

My favorite thing about a book was that it I would be immersed in that world. The longer the story the better. I would become slightly depressed when the book ended (ok-sometimes I mooned around for days). I was that kind of reader.

Anyway – my favorite thing to do in the winter or right before it rained in cold weather was be outside reading. It might seem counter-intuitive to be outside in the rain reading but that’s where mom came in.

My favorite way to spend an afternoon was all wrapped up in a chaise lounge in my own cocoon world. I would get a poncho (it was a Sear’s poncho…

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Am I barmy – hee hee…

Hi All,

I’ve been off  the blog-train for a bit, but see that now there’s a new interface for the editor… however, I cannot figure out how to post YouTube content. I switched to “Classic Mode” (and promptly lost my post – boo hoo)…and I used that to put in the URL for my video in yesterday’s post, but alas, on some browsers it just shows up as a link instead of a video.  Does anyone know what’s going on? Is that feature no longer available on the free version of WordPress?

Any insight would be fabbo or just ducky!


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What are you on about? And other Excellent Phrases and Words I wish I could use

The following is a small list of English words & phrases that I wish would/could catch on in the States:

(most are probably a mixture of dialect and colloquialisms…which someone of a more linguistic bent could probably distinguish the difference)


  • Rubbish….as in “That is…” or “That is complete…”   – I like the addition of ‘complete’ for emphasis.  I’m all about the emphasis
  • What are you on about? This one reminds me of Monty Python. Whenever I come across it in a book, I hear it in my head as Michael Palin’s voice.
  • I quite like, as in “I quite like the addition of that is at the end of sentence when used to emphasize the subject matter as in ‘that’s a right nice piece of spotted dick, that is’ (and now it’s the Americans sniggling at the use of ‘spotted dick’).”  I think ‘I quite like‘ is doable, however, ‘…that is‘ might be crossing the line towards silly on our part. We’ll just enjoy it from afar. It would be like Brits adopting Gomer Pyle-esque speech patterns.
    (  – in case it’s not working)
  • Have a go. Just a more interesting way to say ‘give it try/take a turn’.  I’m bored with our way of saying it.
  • Bollocks - it’s obvious why this is a winner.
  • Tosser, Prat, Wanker, Sod  – pretty much all of the insult-words are pretty fabbo.
  • Spot on – that’s an addendum – I had forgotten how much I LOVE that expression.

And thank you to those that pointed out that my spelling of “Bollocks” was rubbish – the U is gone… and the O is here!

 So that’s the list to start – let’s see if we can get the ball rolling.  However, please feel free to keep most of the English foods in England. I’m completely baffled by a Yorkshire pudding. It’s not pudding nor  does it seem to even be a dessert.  Same goes for black pudding.  I’ll take the lemon curd, however. Yummmmm

Posted in Humor, Language, Random Thoughts, Uncategorized, Words | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 50 Comments

Labeling the Crazy Part II

Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher:

Obviously I’m lacking for content right now – so here’s a blast from the past …2012 to be exact. Enjoy my word-aversion-crazy.

Originally posted on The Mercenary Researcher:

Aversion:  a feeling of repugnance toward something with a desire to avoid or turn from it

I’m convinced that once you’ve divulged to the world – or at least the 50 people that read my last post -that you have a phobia to buttons, it’s not too much of a leap to talk about another aversion. Possibly even more obscure.

Word Aversion – yes, word aversion.  Well, it’s more like a combination of letters together that make me cringe.  Such words are rarely used in my lexicon.  Most people that know me, know I abhor certain kinds of words. Like koumpounophobia, it’s very amusing and makes for fun times around the table.

I hate words that have double ‘OO’s – especially with an “L” near it…or with an “L” and a “Y” ending.  ‘Smelly’,’ Belly’, ‘Jelly’… I feel unsettled even TYPING THEM.  Any Residents fans out there will…

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Memories of Mujadara

Some moments in time are perfect.

When everything around you was just so; understanding, even then, that you are most likely going remember the time for eternity.  It doesn’t have to be anything dramatic or even noteworthy, it’s just a time when everything was ‘right’ – and you felt like you were where you should be.  I don’t know how else to describe it and I don’t even know if it will translate to paper, but I guess I won’t know until I try, eh?

Mujadara brings it back to me, every time.  This simple dish of lentils, rice, and caramelized onion spiced with salt pepper and cumin, is, for me, laced with memories of an ideal moment during my life (and delicious to boot – in a way that I never expected with just lentils & rice but it’s the caramelized onion that does it).

It’s Sunday morning at the restaurant. Winter is just starting to nudge you a bit and let you know of its coming. The back room, bakery, where we bake and prep is warmed from the huge double hearth ovens, yet the bakery still has an invigorating chill from the big open windows.

The bakery is typically populated with two bakers, one prep cook, and the bakery prep cook (to this day I don’t know where this title came from – that person made soups, quiche, lasagna, salsa & cut fruit – which in no way benefited us bakers). Sundays were a little magical.  Sundays were the days when a couple of the line cooks came back to our area to make cheese sauce and fry tortillas.  The best Sundays featured a visit from Kamil and Osama.  Both men hailed form the Gaza strip in Palestine and we benefited not only from their wisdom but their mad cooking skills.

Kamil was a very gentle, soft spoken man; slender in build, dark skin, dark eyes, dark hair (what was left of it anyway) and the sweetest smile going.  His heavy, but beautiful accent and soft voice required an extra attentive ear.  Osama was an altogether different package, sturdily built, light caramel skin and sea green eyes.  Yes, sea green eyes.  He had more of an Egyptian look to him, but he was fiercely Palestinian and missed his family in Gaza.  His name means “Lion” and t’was apt for him.  He was a man of extreme emotions at times. Ninety-nine percent of the time he was mellow, with a smile and laugh, but on the rare occasions when he was angry, he was fierce. Not violent, just passionate.

On this particular Sunday, Kamil decided to make us all some STRONG Turkish coffee (as if there’s another intensity for Turkish coffee). He set about with his small metal cezve 

The magic happens in this small metal container

The magic happens in this small metal container

making us each our own coffee served in beautiful demitasse cups he’d brought with him from his homeland.  And after we each had one cup, he made us another and possibly another.  It was so delicious and we were so hopped up on coffee.  We buzzed around like little bees – all of us laughing and enjoying each other’s company.  While Kamil made cheese sauce and coffee, Osama had put on two pots of water to boil, getting ready to make some Mujadara for our lunch.

It was the first time he’d made us this particular dish. He told us, that day, he was homesick for his mother and that Mujadara was one of the typical day-to-day dishes she’d prepare for his family. He told us that it was not an entrée you’d see on a menu in a typical Middle Eastern restaurant as it was a very ‘peasant-y’ dish – not much to look at.  To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much – I’m not a fan of rice and lentils have to be highly spiced for me to enjoy them. SURPRISE – it was fabulous.  Those three main ingredients had a lot to offer.

When the Mujadara was prepared, Osama plated up a portion for each of us, warmed up some flat bread and we all ate together.  It was a perfect Sunday. I felt like I was in the right place at the right time – surrounded by people that I cared for very deeply all sharing in a meal made with love and warm memories.

After we gorged ourselves and the caffeine wore off, I think we were all ready for a nap.  We crashed hard.

And that, my friends, was a perfect moment in my life.

And this, my friends, is the recipe for Mujadara, prepared in the manner of my friend Osama’s mother.



  • Ingredients:
    • 1 cup uncooked rice – I prefer basmati – choose your favorite kind
    • 1 cup uncooked lentils – green variety is the best, red will dissipate
    • Enough water to make both rice and lentils
    • 2 large Onions – red or vidalia are best – sliced in half moons and somewhat wide (in other words not thinly sliced)
    • Olive Oil
    • Cumin
    • Salt
    • Pepper

To Prepare:

    • Cook both the rice and lentils according to the package directions (I actually will cook them both together because I’m lazy)


    • Whilst the rice/lentils are cooking heat up the olive oil in a large heavy cast iron pan or a deep sauce pot (you need enough room to add the rice/lentils later on) – Medium heat


    • To caramelize onions: add the sliced onions and begin to sauté them on low heat for 20-25 minutes, until the onions have turned a deep brown.  Stir the onions around during the process


    • For the last 10 minutes of the caramelizing, add the cumin, salt & pepper (I have no measurements to offer – you want them highly spiced but not too salty). I also like to add a little water to the onions and cook it down – this helps to soften them and it will also deglaze the pan adding to the rich flavor of the caramelized onions.


    • Once the lentils and rice are cooked, add them to the onions. Mix well on low heat.  taste and re-season as necessary.


  • Serve warm. A little plain Greek Yogurt is delightful.   Some people like a squeeze of lemon as well.

    Looks blandiola, tastes like heaven.

    Looks blandiola, tastes like heaven.


And that is all there is to it.  Mujadara tastes even better the 2nd day, after all the spices have infused in the rice and lentils.

Posted in Baking, Cooking, Eating, Family, Food, Humor, love, Recipes, Relationships, Vegetarian, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments