Heartwings Love Notes 1065: Future Shock Is Real

Heartwings says, “It is not easy to adjust to rising prices as one gets older.”

Some of my older friends may feel as I do: what happened to money? In 1970, a book called Future Shock by Alvin Toffler gained a lot of publicity. Perhaps it ought to be reissued. It describes how persons are affected by changes, especially financial, over time. For instance, when I was a child I could buy a comic book for a dime and an ice cream cone for five cents. When I used to take my little ones for a cone it was a quarter. I don’t have to tell you, times have changed. What is more shocking is by how much any item seems to increase.

When McDonald’s first began to raise its golden arches in New England, there was one near where I took the children for swimming lessons. A dollar bought us a drink, a burger, and fries, with change. Now there are many similar venues and you can’t find anything for a dollar in any of them. Of course, to the twenty-somethings who work and may lunch at a fast-food restaurant, that is business as usual. To families trying to eat healthy meals, it’s an occasional treat, because restaurants cost so much more than they used to.

Not only restaurants but everything costs so much more, most especially to someone like me who grew up licking a five cent ice cream cone. I remember my grandmother would save up her pennies and when they filled her hands, she would give them to me with a simple ritual she had either devised or learned—I never asked her where it came from. Holding her closed hands full of pennies over mine, also closed, she would say, “Hold fast all I give you three times, then open her hands and spill the pennies into mine, held open in expectation. I was delighted with my small hoard and spent it on whatever took my fancy at the time.

Coping with this difference between then and now, has for me become a work in progress. I am a firm believer in the abundance prayer and also in the principle it represents: I will always have enough for what I need. This grows increasingly more difficult. “Reality” in the form of visits to the supermarket, or a meal at a restaurant would seem to contradict this. Yet why should I not believe? My abundance need not falter or fail to keep pace with inflation. The child that treasured her pennies needs reassurance, and only I can give it, which I do.

So, when doubt creeps in and I wonder how to cope, I repeat my prayer ending with the affirmation that all is well for me and likely to remain so. Then I do what I need to do and carry on. So far, it seems to be working, let’s hope it continues.

May you deal creatively with future shock if and when it arises.

Blessings and Best Regards, Tasha Halpert

P.S. Have you experienced this for yourself? How have you coped? If you’d care to share, I would love to hear what you have to say. Let me know at tashahal@gmail.com, I’m hoping to hear.   

Heartwings Love Notes 1064: Thankful for Small Blessings

Heartwings says, “The more thanks we give, the closer we grow to good fortune.”

Is it appropriate to do good for selfish reasons, i.e., to do good for the reward? This thought has been going around in my head recently, and it seems quite a conundrum when you think about it. To do good, altruistically, without expectation of reward is or is said to be, the best of ways to act. Realistically, to do good without a motive, might be said to be an essentially unselfish act.

However, it is also true that what goes around comes around. What you do to or for another person will return to you, often in spades. This seems to me to be a good reason to behave oneself, as well, as I and others were brought up to do. My question is, does the motive matter? If I’m doing a kind act for selfish reasons, because I know I will receive back in some way, is there less of a reward or benefit than if I do it just out of kindness?

Common sense says, it ought not to matter, what goes around comes around, regardless. Besides, life is too short to be concerned with such trivial notions. What really matters is to be thankful, regardless. No one is perfect, nor is any circumstance, at least in the long run. The best anyone can do is the best they can. For instance, I never did enjoy riding a bicycle, no matter how hard I tried. I managed to fall off frequently. Once, after I had a tumble, when a kind stranger brought me and my bike home, my parents thanked him then after he left, berated me for accepting a ride from a stranger. Oh, well, such is life.

My parents did the best they could to protect me from whatever bad thing might happen. I am grateful to them for their caution and for their efforts. I was a friendly child and might well have gotten into some kind of trouble and suffered for it. However, thankfully I didn’t. Of course, I grew up to become a parent who practiced the same caution. Isn’t that always the way? We have one end of the behavior and then the other in order to understand how it all works out for the best.

On a daily basis I try hard to remember to express my gratitude for the smallest and even the most ordinary of blessings. The reason I do it is because I want to remember to be grateful and to take nothing for granted. In my experience people can disappear from my life without any warning, expected events and opportunities can vanish suddenly. When I have made note of a blessing at least I have acknowledged it. Gratitude is key for us all to have a successful, productive, and happy life regardless of motive.

May your giving of thanks become a constant experience.

Blessings and Best Regards, Tasha Halpert

PS do you remember to express your gratitude often? How is it for you? I do so enjoy your comments and emails. Write me at Tashahal@gmail.com, and for more Love Notes, check out my website at www.Heartwingsandfriends.com

Heartwings Love Notes 1063: A Recipe for Friendship

Heartwings Says, “Food and friendship go together.”

Remember how at one time friends would do a chain letter for the sharing of recipes? This involved typing up 10 copies of a recipe and sharing it with ten friends who were to do the same, and so on. Names were listed and we crossed out the name at the top and substituted one’s own. In addition, we were supposed to share a recipe of our own back to the sender. Theoretically, we were supposed to get back a large number of recipes to enjoy. In practice I don’t know about anyone else, but I got few if any new recipes and those I did get, much to my dismay, were not to my taste.

Once everyone pretty much had computers this changed to sending them out as emails. While this was easier, it still produced the same results for me: One or two recipes back and nothing I could make use of. However, I have often shared recipes with friends and they with me. These I keep in a loose-leaf notebook of pages with clear plastic over them beneath which I can place the written page for preservation.

This unique recipe for a banana cake given me by a dear friend is very special. Banana Lattice Cake: From South America, the recipe is somewhat time consuming, yet fun to make especially if you have a child to help you with the lattice work. Grease a 9X12 baking pan, preheat the oven to 350 or 325 if pan is glass.

Ingredients:

1 egg

1 stick butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 tsp vanilla or almond extract

4 or 5 ripe bananas

Cinnamon to sprinkle

Sugar to sprinkle

Lemon juice to sprinkle

Method: Cream sugar and butter, add egg and vanilla, beat well. Mix in Baking powder and salt, then flour. When mixture is well blended put half of it into baking dish. Press into dish, let sides build up a little. Slice ripe bananas over top and distribute evenly. Sprinkle lemon, sugar and cinnamon over bananas. Take about a teaspoon of dough and roll it into a ball. Then put your hands together as if you were clapping but rub them back and forth so that the dough makes a long roll or strip. Crosshatch the bananas with these strips, placing them on the diagonal. Don’t worry if some are not long enough; just add onto them with shorter pieces. The dough will all glue itself together nicely as it bakes and spread out to make a pretty, puffy appearance. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool before cutting and serving. Delicious! Serves 24 to 36.

Whenever I make this, I think of my friend fondly and wish we could share a piece. My hand written recipes are my most precious and evoke fond memories of the times we spent together.

May you have friends to cook with, and may your recipes turn out well.

Blessings and best Regards, Tasha Halpert

Please write me back with any comments, thoughts or suggestions. I prefer tashahal@gmail.com for now. All blessings, Tasha

Heartwings Love Notes 1061: 3 Soups for Soup Weather

Heartwings says, “Homemade soup warms the heart and the tummy too.”

Growing up, I was accustomed for the most part to think of soup as something that came in cans. Certainly, I didn’t know anything about making it from scratch—not at least for some years as I taught myself to cook. I remember once making a cream of mushroom soup and thinking, what a waste of time, it tastes just like it came from a can.

Chicken soup made from the bones to begin with was one of my first efforts. I must have seen my mother doing it because she was never one to waste anything that could be made into food. She was a very thrifty cook. As time went by, and I was feeding more people, both family and later, friends, I began out of necessity to learn the art of soup making.

 At one time, and especially when I had a garden I fed the scraps to, I even saved my vegetable peelings and tops and boiled them into a tasty broth I used to enhance my homemade soups. This was especially good with vegetable and bean or lentil soup. For some reason I don’t think my mother did much with lentils or beans. Perhaps my father didn’t like them. It was Stephen that got me into lentil soup, something he had enjoyed long before we met. Another of his favorites is onion soup.

After researching a variety of recipes, I crafted my own very simple onion soup. I use 1 ½  to 2 cups thinly sliced onion sauteed slowly in 2 tablespoons butter and 2 of olive oil. When onions are soft and ready, I add 1 quart box low sodium beef broth, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer 30 or so minutes. Serve either plain or with some toasted bread with melted cheese on top. This serves 3 or 4 nicely.

My potato soup is equally simple: I use ½ a large onion, chopped sauteed in 2 tablespoons butter and 2 of olive oil. Peel or don’t 4 medium Maine potatoes, chop and add to onion along with 3 cups water or broth and thyme. Add salt and pepper to taste and cook an hour or so. Serve or store for next day when it is even better. Chopped fresh parsley, though not necessary, will also enhance the taste.

And finally, here is a favorite of mine, using mung beans. Sprouted they are the ubiquitous bean sprouts of oriental foods. In their dried state they are tasty and nutritious. I use ½ cup chopped onion, 1 cup mung beans, 2 cups chopped potato, 1 cup or more sliced carrots, 1 cup or more chopped celery, 1 teaspoon thyme, ¾ teaspoon rosemary, 1 teaspoon curry powder, 1 teaspoon ground garlic, 2 cups beef broth and 4 cups water salt and pepper to taste. Sauté onion and add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil and simmer until tender and tasty—45 minutes to an hour.

May your meals be tasty and nutritious regardless what you prepare.

Blessings and best regards, Tasha Halpert

PS I love it when you share your recipes and make comments or suggestions. Please feel free to write me at tashahal@gmail.com. Your emails make my day. Thanks!

Heartwings Love Notes 1060 Birthdays are Markers on the Highway of Life

Heartwings says, “When you take note of the milestones, you know how far you have traveled.”

I remember my mother when she was in her late eighties shaking her head and saying, “How did I get to be this old?” Now I am celebrating my eighty-seventh birthday and thinking and saying the identical words. Years, decades, days have melted and become one past without much definition. Where did the time go, and how did it pass so quickly? As one friend of mine often says, “Beats me!” It seems as though each day or even week slips into the past and immediately shrinks or dwindles to practically nothing. Perhaps I’ll write a poem about that. I’ve written lots of poetry on the theme of time and all that pertains to it.

 I’ve considered collecting the poems into a chapbook, if I can somehow carve out the time it takes to discover, select, design, and proofread them for the pages. I suppose I could, yet my days are pretty full as it is with cooking, doctor’s visits, and taking care of the needs of the moment. I do no cleaning fortunately, because I have a wonderful person for that. Stephen helps when he can with what he can, for which I am also grateful. These daily doings, the minutiae of life blend themselves into my time so seamlessly I find it difficult to catch hold of any part of a day without using considerable effort.   

Sometimes I try to locate the year such-and-such happened and shake my head and sigh. I can’t find any landmarks to tie it to. There are some important milestones, however that do stick in my memory, and I am grateful for them: My high school graduation, the year Stephen and I met and the year we married, my children’s birthdays and those of other family and friends. I have two Birthday twins though only by date of course. I did mark one recent birthday with a zoom party—my eighty fifth, so people in Italy and those in California could both attend without traveling. I like to celebrate birthdays–mine, and that of others. I believe it is important to mark the years as they pass.

At one time I remember I thought fifty was old. Now someone fifty is to me in the prime of life. I can recall my mother saying “When I was in my fifties, I could do anything.” I could say the same now. The hourglass that marks my time has lots more in the bottom than it did then, and my personal, physical self is commensurably unavailable. Yet I can make the most of whatever time remains to me, and that is my task these days. I will explore the potential for doing that and then at least I may find it easier to mark the milestones on the highway of my days.

May you find many fine milestones to enjoy as your days and years pass.

Blessings and best regards, Tasha Halpert

PS I always enjoy your comments and your questions as well as your suggestions. Please write me at Tashahal@gmail.com. Read more Love Notes at www.heartwingsandfriends.com.

Heartwings Love Note 1059: Feedback

Heartwings says, “What is perceived may alter what is received.”

As a very young child, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I answered, “I want to be married and I want to be famous.” How I knew or even if I knew what these meant is unknown to me now, however it is definitely what I said. I am married, and counting my first time, I have been married for sixty-seven of my nearly 87 years. I am happy to say I have no regrets.

As to the second, being famous, I have to decide what is meant by that. Being recognized in the supermarket as the author of a newspaper column might to some people mean being famous. Having kind things said about that column is equally nice. Being told by a reader that you have been helpful in some way is gratifying to hear. Does it mean I am famous? I don’t know. I can say that these experiences satisfy my initial desire to be famous. In other words, I’m sufficiently famous to suit me.

However, while these are pleasant experiences, something I have learned is not to dwell on feedback from others. My eldest daughter and I had a recent conversation about this. She was saying it was not her habit to base her self-value on feedback. I told her I loved that thought and would steal it, because I agree. I have learned that lesson more than once and have the stories to prove it. As far as I can determine, what people see in anyone else most often depends on the personal filters through which they perceive that person. We all have them; the trick is to be aware of them.

Years ago, I learned that if people praised me, it was because of what they liked about me, or what I had done for them or another. If they criticized me, they probably didn’t approve of what I had done or how they saw me.Their opinion was what influenced their response. I must admit it’s nicer to be praised than blamed, yet both are in the eye of the beholder. This was a new level in detachment for me. I had learned to be detached from possessions, now it was time to be detached from opinions both good and bad. I appreciated that lesson.

I myself must be the judge of how I am doing. I am the only one who really can tell how I am measuring up to my own standards. Being honest with myself, I can see my value to myself as well as to others. When I honor my efforts, recognize my efforts as worthy, and feel good about them, then I will have been successful, regardless of the result. We cannot all win the blue ribbon, but we can all try. And when we do, then we have succeeded.

May you enjoy success in your own eyes, whatever you try to do.

Blessings and best regards, Tasha Halpert

PS I treasure your comments and enjoy your communications. Do let me know what you think; I promise to respond. Please do write to me at Tashahal@gmail.com

Your Way or My Way

Heartwings Love Notes 1058 Your Way or My Way?

Heartwings says, “Deciding which way can be something to ponder.”

Every relationship has its conundrums. Some are fraught with contention, others are not, yet all provide opportunities for participants to learn and grow. For instance, I was brought up to be tidy. I didn’t used to be as a child; are there any children who are naturally so? As of yet, I haven’t heard of any. Some children who are taught to be neat learn to like it, others do not, of course, yet all will one day, most likely find themselves contending with the opposite of their preference.

For instance, I like my bureau drawers to be tidy so I can see what is in them when I want to choose my clothes for the next day. Being fuzzy of mind when I wake up, I prefer not to make any unnecessary decisions. Believing this to be a desirable state for bureau drawers, I used to make sure Stephen’s bureau was tidy too. Toward that end I would periodically refold and replace his sweaters and tee shirts until his bureau drawers were all organized. One day it occurred to me that he didn’t seem to want to keep them this way, and I stopped. He never complained.

I am grateful that he uses our hat rack/clothes pole to hang up his clothing. The fact that it tends to pile up there is none of my concern, or so I have come to understand. What is important for me to remember is that his way and my way do not necessarily have to coincide.  As long as his clothing, no matter how much, is not draped over the furniture or piled on the floor, I’m happy. The decisions that come from preferences are different from those that have to do with circumstances.

We grow up accumulating preferences, habits, and ways to do things. Then we find others differ. This might be an issue or it might not. What matters is that respect and support need to be part of a healthy relationship. Stephen respects my desire not to trip over his garments and I respect his desire to have his drawers the way they are. I support him by not insisting his clothes be hug up in the closet, and he does the same when he does the dishes or hangs the indoor laundry that doesn’t go in the dryer.

Respect for one another’s beliefs as well as habits is also vital within all relationships. The divisions within our current world view are not healthy for our society because all too often there is a lack of that respect. When we support one another’s ways, it may be possible for us to live in peace. May it one day be so.

May you find good ways to resolve personal differences.

Blessings and best regards, Tasha Halpert

PS, please write to me with any comments or suggestions. It is my great joy to hear from readers with their thoughts and opinions. Please do. My email is tashahal@gmail.com. For more Love Notes, visit me at my web site at http://www.heartwingsandfriends.com

The Beauty of Fall

Heartwings Love Notes 1057 The Beauty of Fall

Heartwings says, “When your eyes are open to beauty, your heart is too.”

Driving the country roads of New England is a nice experience most times of the year, but the fall presents an especially glorious season to do so. I was reflecting on this thought recently, as I drove Stephen and me to a town not far from our home in North Grafton, for our Covid Booster shots.

It was a bright, clear sunny day. We traveled on roads lined with trees expressing their fall exuberance. The noontime light shone through the brilliance of their red and yellow leaves. It was heartstoppingly beautiful. After we’d had our shots, I decided it would be fun to not go straight home but to have a meander—what I call a wandering adventure, in further traveling the lovely roads.

Though I hadn’t been on these streets before, knowing the area sufficiently, I didn’t fear getting lost. We drove down one astonishingly bright, curving tree lined road after another, marveling at the sights that unfolded. Both of us were enthralled with what we saw. I sent up a little prayer of gratitude. It was so peaceful, yet so exciting!

For a moment in time that stretched on and on, I had no thought for the troubles of the world, what we’d have for lunch, or anything beyond the present moment. As I drove, from time to time I’d point out an especially wonderful tree or vista. It was easy to keep my eyes on the road because that was where the action was anyway. Fortunately, there was no one behind me to grow annoyed at my somewhat slow pace. If there had been, I would have pulled over and let them pass. I was in no hurry to get anywhere. 

Fall has always been my favorite time of year. I cherish it, not only for its beauty but also for its interesting weather. Like spring it is a back-and-forth time of year. Cold alternates with warm as the season progresses. It’s coats one day and shorts the next. Having been born in the fall may have something to do with it. Also, there are the holidays to look forward to. Furthermore, as an adult I enjoy the opportunity to sleep better and longer as the dark hours take over from the light.

That night as we got ready for bed we talked about the glorious vistas, as well as splendid individual trees we had seen on our drive. I reflected how thankful I was for the opportunity to take the time to do the trip. Experiences like those are precious. Those of us who are fortunate to live where they are frequent are especially blessed. I hope to keep New England as my forever home.

May you find delight in the fall wherever you dwell.

Blessings and best regards, Tasha Halpert

PS Are you having a nice fall? Do you welcome it? If not, or if so, tell me why, I so appreciate readers’ comments. Let me know what you think, I am eager to hear. Write to me at Tashahal@gmail.com. Go to www.Heartwingsandfriends.com for more Love Notes.

Heartwings Love Notes: Lentil Soup and Kitchen Hints

Heartwings says, “Experimenting in the kitchen leads to useful results.”

I have always enjoyed cooking. I even did when I never knew how many would be sitting down for dinner. And I even enjoyed it many years ago when certain children, imitating their father, would turn up their noses at whatever was on their plates. Be that as it may, it’s true I didn’t inherit this love of cooking from anyone in the family. My mother was of the “food is just for nourishment” school of thought. One grandmother cooked for her dog, but for herself, rarely. The other hired cooks for the household and guests.

Once I married, I had more freedom to cook and eat as I wished. Of course, when my children entered the picture and joined the family dinner table, I was no longer as free. Enlisting their help as they grew more competent was a treat and even of real help. I taught every one of them to cook, even the boys. I used to listen to NPR’s Reading Aloud, I think it was called, with my son as we prepared food. Later, I focused on staying within a limited budget, attempting nutritious family meals on little money. Like now, eh?

As I got older, I began to care about calories. Now I like to do what I can to cut out unnecessary ones. My first hint is something I’m quite proud of. When reheating something, prep the frying pan you will be heating your leftover in, with a thin skim of water. Let it start to bubble and add your ingredients. Your tasty odds and ends will not burn and may benefit from added moisture. I often combine smaller portions of left overs from different meals to form new ones. Anything with rice does especially well when you use water. Voila, no additional fat calories.

Lentil soup is an easy and nutritious as well as an economical soup to have on hand. My next hint is this: Save the cooking water from any vegetables you cook except broccoli. It’s too strong a taste to use. When you measure out 6 cups of water for the soup, start with the veggie water. It adds richness and good taste. Add 1 cup of lentils and bring to a boil, reducing to a simmer once it has boiled. Now add around one cup celery, one of onion, using hint #3, scissors to cut celery and even to reduce onion if you rough chopped it and want it smaller. Add carrots if you wish, hint #4 is save time and energy by using carrots cut and peeled and made to look small. (Baby size?)

Next add herbs and spice of your choice to taste: thyme, lemon pepper, ground garlic, some salt, and or cumin, mustard powder (strong, so less of this), ginger, curry, and or your favorites as you wish. Do cook at least an hour, and more is even better. Tastes great next day, and keeps well for additional meals. This serves at least 4 generously, and can be doubled for sure. Bon Appetite!

May your time in the kitchen be joyful and nourishing,

Blessings and best regards, Tasha Halpert

PS I so enjoy hearing from readers . Please email me at Tashahal@gmail.com or comment here. All suggestions, likes, dislikes and comments welcome and I will respond, thanks.

Heartwings Love Notes 1055 Decisions Can Be Tricky

Heartwings says, “Sometimes decisions can change with better information.”

We like where we live now, and we have lived here for eight years. It is convenient and cozy. It holds one good-sized room and a bedroom with a galley kitchen. It tends to get easily cluttered; however, we are accustomed to that and so are those who visit us. What just about everyone comments on is the most difficult aspect of our second-floor dwelling place: our stairs are steep and narrow. Fortunately, there is a strong banister to cling to, which I do. I also suggest to visitors that they do the same.

In the past I simply considered the stairs good exercise. Then I found them getting arduous. Parkinson’s had reduced my mobility, making the stairs more challenging. It became difficult both to go up and to go down. What was worse, I could no longer carry anything more than my cane. Stephen had to lug everything by himself. And the stairs weren’t easy for him either.

We began to seek a ground floor apartment and encountered nothing we either liked or that fit our budget. When we sought help at the Senior Center, we were told about a residence home in Whitinsville. My helpful daughter made an appointment for us both and we went to see it: an independent living situation set within a lovely pre-civil war mansion built by the owner of the original Whitinsville mills.

The amenities for residents included meals, snacks, laundry, electricity, heat, and housekeeping. It seemed ideal; however, the living arrangement consisted of one room only, with a bath. A lovely place to live, with generous rooms for relaxing, dining, and so on, it would mean giving up most of our possessions, or putting them in storage. Also, no one else in the residence was gluten intolerant. I could not ask the kitchen to make meals for just me, plus the danger of cross contamination.

Regardless of that, we said we move in and began preparing. What we didn’t yet know was what the price would be for two, versus one person. Over the next while as we waited for that information, we discussed how we would do this. I found myself filled with regrets on a daily basis for what I’d lose: making our meals, most of my wardrobe to fit the small closet space, the books I could not have with me, and more. Stephen was being stalwart and kind as he coped with what he could not fit into the space.

Then we were given the price. It was more than we had expected or planned for. How much did we really want to do this. This new factor completely altered the perspective. Much conversation ensued. Things changed in our minds. The illusion of leisurely living, with everything taken care of faded when confronted with the reality of what was not physically, mentally and emotionally going to work, so we declined–with a little regret and a big sigh of relief.

May your important decisions be guided by your truth,

Blessings and best regards, Tasha Halpert

PS Tell me about your decisions, and how they have been for you. I love it when readers share their stories. Please write me at tashahal@gmail.com. For more Heartwings, check out www.heartwingsandfriends.com.