The Round Tuit: Things I Haven’t Done, Even Yet

I'll get around to it.

I’ll get around to it.

Mamacita says: Here are some more things I still haven’t done yet, but I’ll get a round tuit:

1. I have never been to Ikea.

2.  I have never seen the movie “Titanic.”

3.  I still have never watched a reality show, with the exception of the “Amy’s Baking Company” segment of Kitchen Nightmares, which I watched online because who could resist that huge a trainwreck?.

4.  I have never been able to like many movies most other people adore, such as Mrs. Doubtfire, any of the Bridget Jones films, or A Christmas Story.

5.  I have yet to find a film re-make that holds a candle to the original.

6.  I’m not sure I will ever be able to accept the demise of the big traditional department store with any semblance of grace.  Gimbel’s.  Hudson’s.  FAO Schwartz.  Lazarus.  Wasson’s.  Filene’s.  The May Company.  Block’s.  Ayres. Marshall Field’s. And all the others.  The huge department store was a microcosmic city unto itself, complete with tea rooms.

Gimbel's Department Store

7.  I still haven’t developed the strength of mind to sit through a genuinely scary movie or book.  I just can’t do frightening, overly suspenseful, bloody, gory stuff.  Not on the big screen, not on TV, not in books. . . .

8.  I have never learned to like sushi.  It just looks too much like bait.

Sushi or bait?

Sushi or bait?

9.  I still haven’t used an ATM machine, except when I was following directions from a passenger in my car who needed to withdraw some money.  I understand having money in an account is necessary before one tries to withdraw any.  Always a catch.

10.  I have never had a dog of my own.  This never concerned me until I started seeing all those adorable dog pictures and videos on Facebook.  Fortunately, there are just as many adorable cat pictures and videos.

The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month

Mamacita says:  This day used to be known as Armistice Day, in honor of the armistice that was signed on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”.  This year, 2015, marks the 98th anniversary of Armistice Day.

People wear poppies on Veterans’ Day.  Do you know why?

This term also refers to the fact that back in ancient times, a worker who was hired at the eleventh hour of a twelve-hour workday was paid the same as those who had worked all twelve hours.

After World War II, Armistice Day was changed to Veterans’ Day.  Many people do not realize that this is an international holiday, observed by many other nations as well as by the United States.

Schools do not teach students much about World War I, and I have never really understood why.  Most social studies classes, unless it’s a specialized elective, study the Civil War (Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn) and then make a giant leap over everything else so they can briefly mention World War II (Hitler was bad) and then leap again and remind students that JFK was assassinated (“I am the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris”) (“I am a jelly doughnut!”)  all just in time for summer vacation.  I learned most of what I know about World War I from reading L.M. Montgomery’s Rilla of Ingleside, and yes, it’s another Anne book; this one is mostly about Anne and Gilbert’s daughter Rilla. I cry every time I read it, even though I know what’s going to happen.  You’ll cry, too.  This book was written eighteen years before Anne of Ingleside, which takes place when the children are very young and was was sort of “inserted” into the list of Anne books, but that’s all right.  I would imagine, though, that at the time the books were being written and published, that might have been confusing to readers.  Anne of Ingleside has an ominous vision in it, that comes true in Rilla of Ingleside.  I have not been able to re-read Anne of Ingleside ever since I realized this.

L.M. Montgomery is one of my favorite authors.  Can you tell?

Which of her characters are you?  I’m, ironically, Jane of Lantern Hill, which is another of my favorite books.  If you aren’t familiar with these titles, my goodness, get yourself to the library right away.  This is unacceptable!  Anne might be Montgomery’s best-known heroine, but there are many others!  I think my ultimate favorite Montgomery heroine is Emily; her story is told in a lovely trilogy that thrills me to the core.

Ahem.  Sorry.  In any lesson, often the tangents are more interesting and teach us more than the actual lesson.

On this day, let us honor the men and women who keep us safe, both past and present.

I’m not a Clinton fan, neither him nor her, but I do like this quotation by him: There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”

I also like this one by Calvin Coolidge:  “The issues of the world must be met and met squarely. The forces of evil do not distain preparation, they are always prepared and always preparing… The welfare of America, the cause of civilization will forever require the contribution, of some part of the life, of all our citizens, to the natural, the necessary, and the inevitable demand for the defense of the right and the truth.”

And I’ll end this post with this one, by FDR:  “When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until he has struck before you crush him.”

God bless America.

This Is Hallowe’en

Mamacita says:  It’s Hallowe’en!  I’m diabetic so I can’t safely eat any kind of candy but I’m a sucker – not for suckers, unless I’m in the French Lick office with Carol and we’re seeing how many licks it takes to completely expose the chocolatey center of a Tootsie Roll Pop – but for Snickers and Mounds and Almond Joys and Three Musketeers.  This is why I buy other kinds of candy for the Trick-Or-Treating children who come to the door.  I don’t give out health food or carrot sticks or raisins because I am not an evil child-hating sadist, but I don’t give out candy I personally like.  It’s strictly a health thing.  Strictly.  Oh, hush.

Candy corn - yuck!

This isn’t Hallowe’en; this is paraffin. Candy corn – yuck!

There are a lot of great Hallowe’en movies out there, too.  The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of my favorites.

Jack and Sally from "The Nightmare Before Christmas"

Jack and Sally from “The Nightmare Before Christmas”




In case you are wondering, the word “Hallowe’en” is SUPPOSED to have an apostrophe in it. It’s an old spelling, but I like it so I use it. I think you should, too. It would help us all remember what the word actually means.

Fie on you know-nothings who assume Hallowe’en is a satanic holiday.  Please do some research on your own before you succumb to someone else’s unresearched beliefs.  Pffff.

I learned about this from the literature book my mother used when she was in the third grade. I loved that book as a child, and I still do. Wonder of wonders – and oh MY, how veddy, veddy politically incorrect – that book contained actual, honest-to-pete LITERATURE! Yes, actual literature, not those stupid, insipid, limited-vocabulary travesties some teachers call “literature;” heck, I wouldn’t even call that stuff “stories.” It’s most certainly not literature.

But that third grade book had excerpts from Peter Pan, and Les Miserables, and Little House in the Big Woods, all unabridged.. That little schoolbook is why I ran to the library to get and read those novels when I was in lower elementary school.

Back then, schoolbooks were purchased, not rented, and Mom loved that book so much, she kept it, and re-read it many times. Once I learned to read, so did I.

I don’t think I ever had a Language Arts book I liked well enough to want to keep, even if it had been permitted. Watered-down abridgements are the devil, and I mean that in a truly satanic way. And you really don’t want to get me started on “limited vocabulary” selections. Kids learn new words by exposure to new words. No exposure = no new words added to one’s vocabulary.

No wonder so many of our kids today aren’t interested in reading for pleasure. Our schools don’t give them anything worth reading. Some of them graduate – or don’t – without ever having been exposed to a single interesting, challenging thing worth reading.

And this from someone who actually liked Silas Marner.

We seldom carve turnips these days, but pumpkins are versatile and fun, aren’t they.  Don’t forget to toast the seeds.  Oh, and are you still carving pumpkin faces the usual way?  Amateurs.. .

Watch Steve Spangler carve a jack-o-lantern.  (Another word with an interesting etymology. . . .)

Steve Spangler knows how to knock your socks off, if you’re wearing socks.  If you’re not, his stuff will curl your toes. If you have no toes, well, I cried because I had no shoes.

If you go thou and do likewise, don’t forget your goggles.

I hope to see you and your kids Halloween night.  My house is the one that’s wailing.  If strobes give you seizures, you might want to skip my house and go on to the plain quiet house next door.  However, they’re giving out Smarties and I’ve got the good stuff and vampire teeth.  Your call.

Also:  the young hot Tim Curry as Dr. Frank N. Furter.  Be still my heart.

Tim Curry as Dr. Frank N. Furter

Tim Curry as Dr. Frank N. Furter makes Hallowe’en complete for me.


Hoosier Persimmon Pudding

Mamacita says: Autumn is officially here, and it’s time to make persimmon pudding.  Most of you don’t live where there are persimmons, and I’m betting that many of you don’t even know what a persimmon is. That’s probably not your fault, because persimmons don’t grow in too many places; however, southern Indiana is a persimmon tree’s favorite home, and the trees grow healthy and prolific here. In this community, most people pick the persimmons 

Jane Goodwin, Scheiss Weekly, Mamacitaoff the ground and run them through a special grinder to make the pulp. We can also buy commercially frozen pulp at any grocery store here, but it’s not fit to eat that way, and it’s best to use pulp you made, yourself, or that someone else just made. It keeps in the freezer for several years. My fantastic and generous Cousin Carol gives me persimmon pulp, fresh from her parents’ back yard, and I make homemade bread for her family.  I think I get the better part of the deal.

That’s right.  In southern Indiana we just go out in somebody’s back yard and pick persimmons up out of the dirt.  They’re best that way, and we rinse them off before we grind them up.

You pays your money and you takes your chances.

Hoosiers use persimmon pulp for many delightful things, but the favorite by far is Jane Goodwin, Hoosier Persimmon Puddingpersimmon pudding. It’s a specialty. . . a delicacy, as it were, that you’ll seldom find outside the Midwest, and in southern Indiana, you’ll find the best of the best.

Hint: Don’t EVER taste a green persimmon, unless you like the sensation a blast of raw alum gives to your lips and tongue. Persimmons must be ripe before they can be used. VERY ripe. Asking someone you’re mad at to just “touch your tongue to this green persimmon for a second” is a fun, albeit cruel (depending on the age of the taster) trick to play on someone. Raw alum on the tongue. Yum. It’s a sensation vaguely akin to being turned inside out by the tongue.

On second thought, everybody should try that at least once. How else can you appreciate the fun of doing it to someone else?  It’s scientific.  Besides, until you try it, you won’t believe the sensation.  It’s really not easily describable.

By request (ask, and ye shall receive) here is my very own tried-and-true persimmon pudding recipe again. I’ve tweaked it over the years until it became perfection in a pan.

Hoosiers can be very protective and possessive of their persimmon pudding recipes, but I’m not. People always ask me for it, so here it is:

Jane’s Persimmon Puddingpersimmons

First of all, preheat your oven to 325 degrees. NO HOTTER.

Get out a very large bowl.

Put the following ingredients in it:

2 C. persimmon pulp (Use fresh or frozen; the canned stuff is terrible.)

1/4 cup sour cream

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 C sugar (I use Truvia)

1 C brown sugar (don’t use fake)  (It’s brown sugar, so there are no calories.)  (Shut up.)

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt (don’t leave it out!!!!) (don’t use fake salt, either.)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

2 C flour

2 1/2 C evaporated milk (not sweetened milk)

1/4 cup butter (not oil)

Put everything in that large bowl and mix thoroughly. Use an electric mixer if you don’t think you can get it blended by hand. Get the lumps out.

Pour mixture into a large buttered baking pan.

Put the pan in the preheated oven. Set your timer for 60 minutes.

After the timer goes off, stick a toothpick in the center of the pudding. Clean? It’s done.

Let it cool just enough to slice. Most people like to top it with whipped cream. Non-Hoosiers often sprinkle nuts on it.

You can also add coconut or pecans or cocoa to the mixture, but then it’s not Hoosier Persimmon Pudding. Your call.

A spoon means lots of snow. A fork means not so much.

A spoon means lots of snow. A fork means not so much.

Oh, and by the way. . . the persimmon seeds are saying that we’ll get a lot of snow this winter.

Be sure you put your snow shovel where you can grab it quickly.  Make sure everybody has warm coats and gloves.  If you put salt on your driveway or sidewalks, buy it now before the snow starts and the prices go up.  It’s also a good idea to make sure everybody at the office or factory or school or restaurant or whatever your place of business might be, knows the snow day policies.  I tell my students that if the weather conditions are dangerous, to stay home, no matter what the radio announcer is telling them the official stance is.  Nothing is worth a life.

However, if a student calls me at home and asks, I will always say “yes, come to class.”  Because they’ve been told how to find out and I didn’t take them to raise.  I also develop a mean streak when there’s a blizzard out there and someone phones me at 6 a.m. to ask me something that’s all over the radio AND on the syllabus AND was part of the lecture last week.

Oh, okay, I don’t really tell them that.  But I do snarl.

“It’s The Equinoctial Storm,” said Ma.

Mamacita says: When the rains began today, the words “equinoctial storm” crossed my mind, and I thought about Caroline Ingalls – she was Laura’s Ma, you know – because the rains came down hard and steady.  Torrential rain.  No thunder or lightning, just rain, but still.  In Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter, Chapter 3, page 27 (hardbound), she tells us that

       For three days and nights the rain fell steadily, slow, weepy rain, running down the            windowpanes and pattering on the roof.

      “Well, we must expect it,” Ma said.  “It’s the equinoctial storm.”

      “Yes,” Pa agreed, but uneasily.  “There’s a weather change, all right.  A fellow can feel it in  his bones.”

Now, an equinoctial storm is a storm of violent winds and rain, occurring at or near the time of an equinox, either spring or fall.  The 2015 Fall Equinox was back in September, but, you know, close enough.

Laura’s storm occurred just before the Long Winter blizzards began, and if you remember (and of course you do!) that those blizzards that began in October didn’t let up until May, you’ll understand why this storm kind of creeped me out.

The forecast for the coming winter is harsh, according to all the woodland creatures and persimmon seeds, and those things know.

Persimmons. In Indiana, they're everywhere.

Persimmons. In Indiana, they’re everywhere.

I love the chapter, still in The Long Winter, where Pa explains to Laura about the wild things knowing what kind of weather is coming, and why humans don’t have the same instincts about such things as animals do.  It’s in Chapter One, if you’re curious, and on pages. 12 and 13 if you want to turn right to it.

Here in southern Indiana, we like to predict our winters with persimmon seeds.  Cut the seed of a ripe persimmon in half and look at the image on the inside: If the image is spoon-shaped, expect a lot of heavy snow; if the image inside the seed is fork-shaped, expect a mild winter; if the image is knife-shaped, expect icy, cutting winds.

So far, most reports have been spoons.

Uh oh . . I'm pretty sure that's a spoon.

Uh oh . . I’m pretty sure that’s a spoon.

Persimmons are good for pudding, too.  If you’ve never had persimmon pudding, you’re missing out big time.

But I digress, which is something I’m very good at.

I’m expecting a cold, snowy winter.  Or, as I prefer to think of it, a white Christmas.


Forbidden Fruit

Forbidden fruit by any other name. . . .

Forbidden fruit by any other name. . . .

Mamacita says:  There are all kinds of forbidden fruit, you know.  When I was in high school, our public library had a waiting list for The Canterbury Tales. Can you imagine? The Canterbury Tales!   Do you know why?

Because we were forbidden to read it in its entirety in school. It was too racy. Unquote.  Not all of it, of course.  Some of it was in our literature anthology – just not the good parts.  “I do not want to see any of you students with this unabridged book in your possession.  If I do, it will be confiscated at once, and your parents notified.”  Challenge accepted, school.  Everybody loves forbidden fruit.  The Miller and the senior class spent some time together after that; the first time we read it, we couldn’t believe it.  It took two or three readings to comprehend what was going on.  If you don’t know, you need to read it, too.  “The Miller’s Tale.”  Raciness is nothing new.

Between "The Miller's Tale" and "The Song of Solomon," my teen years were full of hormones....

Between “The Miller’s Tale” and “The Song of Solomon,” my teen years were full of hormones….

There was also a waiting list for “Flowers for Algernon” and “Catcher in the Rye.”

The only reason I read those, and many others, as a kid, was because the school forbade it. We were given a list of forbidden books every year, and we had to sign a pledge promising that we would NOT read these dirty books.  Every year, the administration turned legitimate literature into forbidden fruit

If they were really smart, they would have given us a list of books they WANTED us to read and told us they were forbidden.

Stupid schools.

And then there was my church. . . .they liked to participate in book banning, too.

Holy rolling

Holy rolling

We were forbidden to read the “Song of Solomon” in Baptist Youth Group. That’s why we took flashlights to church and read it in the dark basement – we were driven to it. There’s really not a lot of difference, plot-wise, between “The Miller’s Tale” from The Canterbury Tales, and “The Song of Solomon” from the Holy Bible.  Both chapters are graphic – really graphic.  One is graphically vulgar and the other is graphically lovely, but when you’re a teenager, graphics is graphics. The intentions may have differed, but the activities were much the same.

There may also have been some serious making out going on down in that gloomy church basement; the braver kids took turns reading Solomon out loud, but we shyer kids were too scared we’d get caught, and read it to ourselves.  A Bible with a bookmark in “The Song of Solomon” was enough to get a girl grounded back then.

Bible with bookmark? Uh oh.

Bible with bookmark? Uh oh.

So yep.  Lots of making out in the church basement to the accompaniment of the older, braver teens reading “Song of Solomon” out loud to each other.

Not that I would personally know.  But for years, that’s what I thought “Holy Roller” meant.