Thursday, May 09, 2013

Barbara Cram Was Bored

Barbara Cram died in 2009, but this story is about a few years earlier in her life --- those few years after she retired from her part-time job at a women's homeless shelter in downtown Seattle.
She had been working at the shelter for several years and loving it, not being in charge of anything, just being useful. Then she retired with no pension at age 70, just her social security check. She had worked at Nordstrom's many years ago, and been a social worker for some years. She had long experience as the founder and director of Friendship House, the homeless shelter in Mount Vernon, but she scarcely got paid for that work, and nothing went into her social security account.
All that was past when she retired in 2005 -- I think that was the year. Just a SS check every month and glad for it too. She had a lovely home in the Mount Baker neighborhood. She and Pat Simpson lived together there, along with Pat's two daughters who were almost grown.
But she was bored. She didn't like being retired, not enough to do. She watched the baseball game every day -- she loved her Mariners. And she was always reading a book.
Her principle activity was making an old-fashioned sit-down meat-and-potatoes dinner every night. It was awesome. Barbara did better cooking in those few years than anyone in Seattle. I can't even describe the gravy, from a pork roast, ladled over garlic mashed potatoes, with a side of fresh cooked green beans, then a glass of wine or the beer of your choice, and baked apples for dessert. My O My.
I should mention that I was a frequent overnight guest during those years. I did the yard work under Barbara's direction, and I got the sit-down dinner for a daily reward.

In the garden, Barb was her total bossy self. She never actually went in the garden, she just leaned over the rail of the deck and barked orders at me while I pruned the grape vines. "That branch, no, no, the one higher up, that branch."
Time for another cigarette. Barb was a ferocious smoker. You didn't dare tell her otherwise. She and Pat had the last house in Seattle with ash trays where you could just light up at the dinner table, after the dishes were cleared.
Barb was happy during those years but she was a little bored. The trouble was she didn't have any money, just enough for the groceries and household expenses and gas for the car. Not enough for traveling. Not enough for eating out at any decent restaurant, or for clothes. She said she disdained fashion, but I wonder -- she had all those years at Nordstrom's and she surely had a good eye for a fine line in a dress, and might have wanted to shop, to buy, to own .... something.

My Religion Is Better Than Your Religion

My religion is better than your religion. You should join my religion, you'll be glad if you do.

That's terrible. All religions are equally good. One religion cannot possibly be better than the others.

Says who? You just made up a rule that all religions are equally valid, but they're not. My religion is true and the other religions are not.

Whatever, I don't want to argue.

Me neither.

Florida Orange Juice is Juicier

Coca-Cola will spend $2 billion to support the planting of 25,000 acres of oranges groves in Florida. Coca-Cola owns Minute Maid and other juice brands. It's not the evil empire and their orange juice is good for you.
I bought a carton of fresh Florida orange juice at the supermarket in California.

California grows oranges for eating and Florida grows oranges for juice. That drives the locavores crazy. Orange juice from concentrate probably comes from Brazil which is the world's largest juice producer..

There's a reason behind all this. Florida's climate is far more humid than the Central Valley in California, so Florida oranges are juicier. On top of that Florida oranges are hard to peel and they don't look pretty, so they're better for juice.

California oranges look better. Actually, we are all just prettier in California, but especially the oranges. And easier to peel.

Add in the economy of large-scale production and you end up with a freight train speeding across the continent carrying fresh California navel oranges to Atlanta, while another train brings the juice from Florida to San Diego.

Food miles! Carbon emissions! Agribusiness!

Calm down, take it easy. We can change it.

It might be better if we could grow some juice oranges right here in California, ya think?

Heck, we have orange trees growing in the back yard here in Santa Barbara, ripe and ready to eat or to make juice with.

Orange Buying Tips. Don't buy oranges or any other fruit just by appearance. Sometimes the funny-looking guys are the best-tasting. And only buy Ruby Red grapefruits from Texas.
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Fred Owens
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