In Honor of the Armistice

Veterans Day, poppies, Mamacita, Scheiss WeeklyMamacita 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, 2014, marks the 97th anniversary of Armistice Day.

(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.

Perhaps you have wondered why veterans often wear a poppy in their lapel on this day?  Let me introduce you to Flanders Fields:

Flanders Fields, Veterans Day, Scheiss Weekly

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.

i wonder how many of YOU realized that Anne of Green Gables is the first of a series?  Run, don’t walk, to the library THIS MINUTE.  Or click and go to Amazon.  You need these books in your home.


Monday, November 11, 2013.  On this day, let us honor the men and women ArmisticeDaywho keep us safe, both past and present.

There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America. — Bill Clinton

The issues of the world must be met and met squarely. The forces of evil do not disdain 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.  — Calvin Coolidge

This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave. — Elmer Davis

When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep? –George Canning 

Armistice Day, veterans, poppy, remembrance

How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!  –Maya Angelou

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.

Yard Sale

It's over.  Whew.

It’s over. Whew.

Mamacita says:  I had a yard sale today, and I have come to the following conclusions:

1.  People who bring $20 bills to yard sales are jerks.

2.  Many things I considered valuable mean nothing to other people.

3.  Many things I considered valueless mean a lot to other people.

4.  One person’s junk really is another person’s treasure.

5.  I need to rephrase #4.

6.  It was actually kind of hard to watch a stranger walk away with a toy Rock "Em Sock "Em Robotsmy children had loved.

7.  People need to teach their children how to behave at a yard sale, which is, of course, how to behave at someone else’s home.  Then again, I have witnessed small children behaving just like this in stores, eg, running wild and considering unpaid-for items to be their own.  Bad parenting.

8.  Yard sales are more work than they’re worth, although I know some people’s trash actually IS treasure which is certainly more than could be said for most of mine.

9.  I will always be shocked at the number of people who do not read for fun.  It’s incomprehensible to me.  “You shore do got a lot o’books thar. Got inny flickers?”  To which I replied, “A few.”  To which she replied, “I ain’t never HEARD of inny o’them thar flickers!”  To which I thought to myself, “I dare say.”  Sorry.  No Honey Boo Boo or Big Momma’s House here.

10.  Having a yard sale was fun, now that it’s over.  It was hard work but I’m glad to get rid of all that stuff.  I’m glad other people who needed what I no longer needed were able to buy it for a quarter.

Having a yard sale confirmed my belief that most people are good, courteous, and intelligent.  I wish the universe had more time to give to them instead of having to give so much time to people who are not.

A quarter is a good price for something good and usable that one person no longer needs but which another person sorely needs.  Or wants.  My best wishes and good memories go with what you took from my home, dear people.

Except for you three who brought $20 bills to a yard sale and spent fifty cents.  I hope the bird of paradise flies up all three of your noses.

Literature Quiz: Children & YA

Children's, YA literature, Madeleine L'Engle Mamacita says: How well do you know children’s and young adult literature?  Can you give me the author and title from whence the following quotations are taken?  Some of them are quite obvious if you’re any kind of reader, while others might require the assistance of an actual child or young adult. Some are fiction; some are non-fiction.  Some are quite old; some are quite recent.  Some are from novels; some are from other genres.  It’s an eclectic mix.  Google is your second resort.  Memory is your first.

1.  Enjoy is not the word I’d use. I got by.  I kept my head down and they left me alone, more or less.  I suppose that’s always been my trouble.  I’ve kept my head down when, occasionally, I should have put it up.

2  He wasn’t exaggerating; they’d been big on old-fashioned morals during World War I.

3.  Because honestly, is it trashy to want something so bad you go for it even if it might kill you?  My opinion?  It’s judging that’s trashy.

4.  To die will be an awfully big adventure.

5.  Everything’s got a moral, if only you can find it.

6.  And people laugh at me because I use big words.  But if you have big ideas you have to use big words to express them, haven’t you?

7.  Often, the less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it.

8.  In the jungle, life and food depend on keeping your temper.

9.  No matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful.

10.  There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth.

11.  There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast it is all a sham. .  . .

12.  Violence does, in truth, recoil upon the violent, and the schemer falls into the pit which he digs for another.

13.  Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education; they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.

14.  I never wanted to go away, and the hard part now is the leaving you all.  I’m not afraid, but it seems as if I should be homesick for you even in heaven.

15.  Instead of always harping on a man’s faults, tell him of his virtues.  Try to pull him out of his rut of bad habits.  Hold up to him his better self, his REAL self that can dare and do and win out!

16.  It was a woman, red and white, hating and loving, that called him with the voice of his hopes.

17.  One of the things people began to find out in the last century was that thoughts – just mere thoughts – are as powerful as electric batteries – as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison.

18.  If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.

19.  If enough people think of a thing and work hard enough at it, I guess it’s pretty nearly bound to happen, wind and weather permitting.

20.  He needed to save his energy for the people who counted.

21.  Laugh and fear not, creatures.  Now that you are no longer dumb and witless, you need not always be grave.   For jokes as well as justice come in with speech.

22.  Don’t you know what breakfast cereal is made of?  It’s made of all those little curly wooden shavings you find in pencil sharpeners!

23.  She was a girl who could not wait.  Life was so interesting she had to find out what happened next.

24.  People can tell you to keep your mouth shut, but that doesn’t stop you from having your own opinion.

25.  Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read.  One does not love breathing.

26.  Well, he certainly is very agreeable, and I give you leave to like him.  You have liked many a stupider person.

27.  Once you begin being naughty, it is easier to go on and on, and sooner or later something dreadful happens.

28.  We’re all human, aren’t we?  Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.

29.  It’s a good thing most people bleed on the inside or this would be a gory, blood-smeared earth.

30.  Memory is the happiness of being alone.

Answer in the comments, please.


Watching Duck Dynasty:More Things I Haven’t Done Yet. . . .

a round tuit, scheiss weekly Mamacita says: Watching Duck Dynasty might be number one, but there are still a lot of things I haven’t done.  I didn’t realize how many things I’ve never done compared to the number of things I HAVE done. Then again, that’s a ridiculous comparison. Nobody does more things than they don’t do.

1.  I have never watched Duck Dynasty.  I find those people repulsive Duck Dynasty in almost every possible way.  Rich society golf-playing men pretending to be rednecks to lure in a redneck viewership stupid enough to fall for their idiocy.  It’s an act, like any show, but it represents a lifestyle I find repellent.  I know most people watch it to laugh at it, but it’s too awful to laugh at because I know there are actual people who think this is a viable lifestyle.

2.  I have never learned to be patient with people who are in line and are absolutely unprepared.  People at the post office who bring bags of things and pack them at the counter, constantly asking for tape and markers, or who buy stamps at the counter and stand there putting them on each envelope.  People at the grocery store who wait until everything is bagged before even opening a purse or wallet.  I think the reason I have no patience with these people is that they deserve no patience.

3.  I  will never have either patience or liking for people who go through a fast food drive-through during meal-time rush hour with images (2)special orders.  I can feel the venom course through my veins.  Drive-through lines are for fast, simple orders – otherwise, it’s SLOW food, which nice people go inside to order.  If going inside is too difficult for you, wait until rush hour is over and THEN go through the drive-through.  If you can’t wait that long, go home and fix something.

skunk4.  I have never learned to like sauerkraut.  It’s too much like a big wad of dormitory shower drain hair.

5.  I always assume that people who lay the cologne on so thickly they’re giving off fumes are trying to mask other odors too personal and horrific to mention.  I haven’t yet learned how to NOT look repulsed, and it’s more because of my imagination than how they actually smell.

6.  I have never learned to like peas, and I like them even less with potatoes mixed into them.  Even as a child, I picked the peas out of my soup.

7.  Casseroles are not my thing, unless I know for sure they don’t contain kraut, onions, or peas.

8.  I have never been a breakfast person, even as a child.  I like breakfast food sometimes, but only really late at night.  The very thought of eating anything early in the morning is horrible.shouting woman

9.  I have never and will never be able to endure people who yell a lot. Yelling scares me. Yelling people scare me. Yelling people terrify me, in fact. When I’m with people who yell, I sit in suspense, waiting for it.  It’s like sitting with a lit fuse, and you’re not sure exactly when it’s going to explode; you only know that it’s going to and that it’s going to be awful.

ignorant redneck guy10. I will never learn to understand people for whom constant, never-ending learning is not a vital part of their lives.  Then again, that’s who Duck Dynasty was made for.

Sometimes I suspect that I’ve got a good-sized mean streak.  Other times I’m sure of it.

What’s that?  You’ve got one, too?  Come sit right here by me.

Overcoming the Odds

Mamacita says:  So many of my students are overcoming tremendous odds to be in school right now. They’ve got families and mortgages and spouses/partners, some of whom disapprove of the whole “college” thing; they’ve got needy parents and in-laws and overdue bills and a sad lack of daycare options. On top of it all, most of my students have no job right now, and the defunct factories and Workforce are both being poopy about promises they’d previously made concerning tuition and books and actually coming through with things because education is the key to the future and you can count on us to back you up.

And yet, most of them show up, day after day or night after night, homework done, papers David beat Goliath.  You can, too.written, knowing exactly which page we’re on and ready to begin again.

The majority of my students are fine, hardworking, upstanding people who genuinely want to better themselves: not just so they might get a better job at some future time, but also just so they’ll be, well, BETTER.

Sure, there are some clunkers. In any group there will always be losers. But the vast majority of my students this semester are prime. In their prime, and prime.

Follow your dreamsI love a mixed-age group in an academic setting.  The young have so much to offer the older, especially older students who are not responsible for raising them.  The older students have so much to offer the younger students, especially since (see above).  I firmly believe that all young people need older people to be mentors, people who are not related and who demonstrate love and friendship and genuine liking that are not required by blood.

There is no shame in working a low-end, minimum-wage service believe in yourselfsector job – don’t misunderstand me.  NO SHAME in that.  But I do hope my students, many of whom are working such jobs, understand that this college degree, even more than many four-year university degrees, will open the door to better jobs.

The community college is one of the best things that has ever happened to education.  I will fight you on this one.  I will win.

I will win, because it is true.



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 C 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.)

1/2 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) (margarine works, but butter is better)

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 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.