Staying safe in Dangerous Times:  A Primer for boys and sexual assault

kavanaugh trumpPresident Trump put it all too well – “It’s a very scary time for young men in America.”

And he’s right. He’s so right. How frightening it must be to know that you could be sitting there at a party, chilling with your best buds, having a large time, and then, the next thing you know, some 20 or 30 years later, that errant hug, friendly wrestling match or slipping kiss will turn out to have offended someone.

Go figure.

And it is a scary thing to know that you could be on the top of your game and have something innocuous take you down, just like the President said. “”You could be somebody that was perfect your entire life and somebody could accuse you of something.” You know… like Brett Kavanaugh.

We women fell for you. Honestly, we know where you’re coming from… we’ve been there. And now that all of our sexual assault worries are over, we thought we’d give you a few tips on how to survive these dangerous times.

  1. guys drinking beerBe careful how much you drink. You know, we know that EVERYONE drinks in high school and college, but really, when you put yourself in a situation and you have more than a drink or, at the outset, two, you put yourself at risk of making it look like you were asking for it. If you’re not completely in control of yourself, then you probably deserved whatever you got.
  2. popped collarsThink about what you’re wearing. Do you really need to look THAT cool? Would it hurt you to maybe not look so cute? You really don’t want anyone to notice you, let alone think you’re attractive. They might remember you and even step over to talk to you. That’s step one in identifying someone as a possible sexual assault perpetrator.
  3. signs-hes-flirtingDon’t flirt too much. Again, you don’t want anyone to think that you might even have been thinking about sex. Flirting with women is like putting a target on your back that says “I’m a sexual predator!”
  4. Make sure someone knows where you are; travel in twos and threes; don’t go to the bathroom alone. If you’re alone, a woman can just pop out of nowhere and say you were somewhere doing something you shouldn’t have been doing. saults happen in private. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you don’t have someone else there to have your back or protect you.
  5. guys group of threePay close attention to your surroundings. Look around you. Is someone paying too much attention to you? Could that person potentially have not so innocent thoughts about you? Better not risk embarrassment years from now. Ensure you know who you’re with and whether or not you’re safe.
  6. Designate a party dad or a sober party goer. When you go out in a group, take turns being the designated party dad. Someone really needs to be sober, so they can keep everyone else out of trouble, or come up with the alibi that will stand up in court.
  7. Carry your cell phone with you always, and make sure you can contact your friends in case of an emergency. If you’re ever faced with a situation where you don’t trust yourself, or the person you’re with, make sure you can call a friend to come help you. Whether it’s getting you out of potentially assault-y type scenario, or you just don’t feel like you’re with someone you can trust, have someone who’s got your back on speed dial.
  8. partyStay away from those parties in the first place. Let’s be honest. Nice guys don’t really go to parties like that in the first place. The kind of guys who aren’t going to get accused of sexual assault are the kind of guys who aren’t putting themselves in harm’s way by going to those types of parties. You really can do yourself a huge favor by just keeping yourself out of those kinds of get-togethers. It’s just safer for you, you know?

It may seem like a lot to think about just to protect yourself from being accused of sexual assault, but an ounce of prevention goes a long way in ensuring your credibility and preventing anyone from being able to permanently damage your reputation. We know. We’ve been doing these same things for decades, all in the name of protecting ourselves.

But enough about us. It’s a dangerous time out there for guys. We women have literally hundreds of thousands of stories we’ve stored up about men behaving badly, and all because those guys didn’t take the time to protect themselves. What were we thinking, being so narrow minded and obtuse? It’s time we step up and do what we can to protect men. We’re glad to help.

If it will keep just one guy safe from a decades old accusation someday in the future, well… then… it’s worth it, isn’t it?

 

Copyright Liz Carey, LLC 2018

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You can go home again

Years ago – a lifetime ago really – I left Versailles, KY with the idea that I’d never look back.

In fact, I swore, I would never come back to a high school reunion until I was rich, skinny and successful. I guess one out of three ain’t too bad…

As I drove away, I saw myself living in a city, in the middle of the action, scurrying about from one important meeting to the next being a busy, busy boss lady.

Versailles was slow. Versailles was country. Versailles meant horses and hardware stores and home cookin’.

Not that I didn’t love all of that, but I had spent much of my time growing up in our local library reading books about how magical everywhere else was. It made Versailles seem so much “less” than everywhere else.

So I left. And I lived in the city. And I made new friends. And I rushed around like my hair was on fire doing everything I could to squeeze in all that life had to offer me.

But when I needed a rest, or I wanted some peace, I came back home. I came back to the place where crickets sang me to sleep, and the moon set like a glowing flashlight over horse fields, and the most beautiful site to see was the view from my mom’s back porch.

When I got married, we moved to South Carolina where we could raise our boys in a smaller city that still had that hometown feel. Our kids thrived and grew into adventurous, kind and loving young men who held doors open for their girlfriends (and their mom), and said “yes, sir” and “no, sir” and “Thank you, ma’am”.

But still, when I wanted to feel at ease, we went to Versailles. When the stress got too much, or the pressures of work were overwhelming, or when I wanted to feel grounded, I went back home to the small town where people knew my name, where strangers smiled on the street corners, and where one of the best lunches in the county came from a drug store counter.

In South Carolina, we learned how to eat and talk Southern; how Kentucky wasn’t really part of the South; how hot is “really hot,” and what 3-5 inches of snow in the South really looks like. There were ups and downs transitioning into the Deep South. As a blue dog Democrat, I didn’t really fit into a solidly red state, but somehow I managed. And as a Kentucky girl educated in Ohio, I was placed solidly in that “You’re not from around here, are you?” category from the moment I crossed into the Carolinas.

But recently, I needed a soft place to land when things began to fall apart around me. I came back to the safest place I knew – my mom’s house in Versailles. And although it has been 30 years since I lived here, while nothing seems the same, everything seems familiar. The lightning bugs in June. The smell of fresh mowed hay. The sun that sets across the street from my Mom’s front door.

For a while, it felt like I didn’t I fit in – like I didn’t really belong to anywhere. I didn’t fit in in Cincinnati anymore. I wasn’t a part of South Carolina anymore. I wasn’t sure I’d ever fit in with all these familiar strangers in Versailles.

It wasn’t until I confided in a friend about how out of place I felt that I realized what home really means. She helped me see what a true blessing growing up in a small town like Versailles really is. When I said “I feel like I don’t belong here, like I don’t really fit in anymore,” she replied “You’ll always fit in here. You’re from here. It never left you, you just left it for a while.”

Maybe that’s why it always feels so safe – Versailles never left me. It was always here, waiting for me to come back.

And now, it seems, Versailles is so much “more” than all those places I ran away to.

It’s comforting to me, while my life is in such upheaval. It’s supportive of me. It’s empowering to me. It’s so much more than any place else I’ve ever lived.

And that’s a powerful thing to know, for me. That my hometown is here. That my family and friends are here. That my life as I once knew it is here. That, in truth, my home is here, and never left me, even as I wandered off to find myself in places I’d never been before. It was always here. It never left me.

And, in a way, I guess I never really left it either. It was always with me, no matter how far away I ran. And it always will be here – inside of me.

Damn, it’s good to be home.

Things no Southern cook will ever say

There are some words and phrases you’ll just never hear come out of certain peoples’ mouth.

Like, you’ll never hear from a UK basketball fan “Wow, that was a close game. I like it when the teams are evenly matched like that.” No, what you’ll hear a Kentucky basketball fan say is “What the heck is going on!? They only won by 10! They’re just not the powerhouse team they were back in the day…”

And you’ll never hear them say “Gee, I really miss the Eddie Sutton days.” Or “I totally understand why Rick Patino would want to coach at Louisville, and I totally supported his decision.” And “I didn’t even put UK in my March Madness bracket this year.”

Similarly, you’ll never hear a Cincinnati Bengals fan say “Nah, my Bengals have never let me down.” Or “I’m really surprised they lost that game in the last 10 minutes – never saw THAT coming!” Or “That game had some great refs! They really played like crap, but the refs were spot on when it came to making those calls!”

In that vein, there are things you’ll never hear a Southern cook say either…

  • Honey, I think this has too much bacon in it.
  • Oh, Lord, don’t put so much barbecue sauce on it, you’ll cover up the flavor of the meat.
  • Nah, I don’t have any particular recipe for making collards… I just throw them in the pot and go.Collard-Greens-with-Smoked-Turkey-Wings-Recipe
  • Hmmmm… this probably has too many calories in it already, I’ll just use this low-fat margarine instead of butter.
  • Honestly, there’s really no difference between store bought, homegrown and hothouse tomatoes.
  • You mean people make biscuits that don’t come out of a can?
  • Of course it’s vegan!
  • My mother never cooked that well when we were growing up to be honest.
  • BOILED peanuts? Ewwww.

    boiled peanuts
    So much ewwww.
  • Absolutely, I use measuring cups and measuring spoons! How on earth are you supposed to get the recipe right without them?
  • I think I’ll make steamed veggies tonight.
  • Rats, I’m out of Cajun seasoning…. I guess I’ll just switch to Greek.
  • I think this tea has too much sugar in it… Where’s the mint?
  • I always put cinnamon and cocoa in my chili for a really hip taste.
  • I think we’ll just have sub sandwiches at the tailgate party this weekend.

    Tailgating-19-595
    You know why they don’t have anyone at their tailgate? Because they’re serving subs and they don’t know how to play cornhole, that’s why. Sheesh…
  • I don’t even think I HAVE a recipe that calls for cooking anything more than two hours.
  • Lord, yes, I love my instapot!
  • There’s no art to barbecue, you just throw it on the grill and walk away for a few hours. Easy as pie.
  • You’ve just got to try my new recipe for quinoa flavored with jicama and harissa. It’s just to DIE for….
  • You can’t fry everything…
Skillet-Fried-Chicken_30_frying
To which every good Southern cook says, “The hell you can’t!”

Okay – your turn!

Are there things YOU think no good Southern cook would ever say?

Leave them in the comments below!

Copyright Liz Carey, LLC 2018

Anderson’s Blue Laws

As anyone from Anderson, SC, knows, if you want to throw back a cold one watching the game on Sunday, you better buy your beverage of choice the night before.Blue Laws 1.12.17

Anderson’s “Blue Laws,” prohibiting liquor sales on Sunday, are a throwback to a time when properly observing the Sabbath meant Sunday was a day of rest – for businesses as well as residents.

But did you know that Anderson’s Blue Laws once forbid the sale of another “intoxicating” beverage – Coca Cola?

Continue reading “Anderson’s Blue Laws”

An accidental pussy grabber

So, I was on my way to a meeting the other day, when I inadvertently kidnapped a neighbors’ cat.

Really… it wasn’t my fault.

louisSee, we have this big black cat named Oliver. And Oliver has gotten it into his head lately that he should be able to roam about his domain, namely everything he can see from the window behind my work chair, any time he wants.

Sometimes, the boys let him out in the morning.

And sometimes, he slips out when no one is looking.

Acat-on-a-keyboardnd there are those days when he sits on someone’s keyboard or climbs on the back of their chair in order to attack their hair while they’re typing forcing someone to decide to actually throw him out… but, I digress.

Any who, I was just driving down the street, sort of patting myself on the back for being on time for a change, when I see a couple of guys in a state vehicle, standing on the side of the street with this black cat.

Immediately, it registered with me that it looked like Oliver.

Almost simultaneously, it registered that even government employees don’t deserve that kind of torture.

When I was three blocks away it also registered – “Holy monkey pee, they might actually take the cat with them!”

I mean, it is my youngest son Max’s cat, and for some bizarre reason he actually likes the furry little asshole, despite his tendency to attack Max when he’s trying to sleep.

So, I doubled back and pulled up behind their truck.

“Did I see y’all with a black cat earlier?” I asked them. “I think that’s ours. He likes to get out in the morning and terrorize the neighborhood.”

black-cat-pink-collarThey pointed to the other side of their truck where a black cat with a pink ribbon around its neck was standing.

Naturally, since I was now running late, I grabbed the cat, threw it in the van, thanked the guys for their help and took off.

It wasn’t until I was halfway to the highway that I realized…Oliver doesn’t have a collar.

Looking a little closer at the cat, I realized Oliver doesn’t have as round of a face or such a small body.

Then it hit me – I’d grabbed the wrong cat!

Apparently, you really CAN just grab ‘em, even if you’re not a celebrity. Some of them really do just let you.

There were other indications this wasn’t Oliver, as well… for instance, this cat was nice.

This cat would let you pet it more than three times in a row without feeling the need to attack your hand like it was a mouse bathed in tuna juice.

This cat looked up at you with eyes that said “Love me please!” instead of glaring “Are you planning on feeding me anytime soon, or do you get the claws again?”

This cat was also a girl.

Clearly, I’d made a huge mistake.

I decided to name her LaLa Land.

img_0356-1Barreling down the highway, late to my appointment and talking to LaLa, I tried to figure out what I to do. In response, LaLa decided to curl up in my lap, rest her head on my arm and fall asleep.

Who can resist that?

I briefly considered taking off the collar, putting it on Oliver and switching them out when no one was looking. Hey, if it worked for Patty Duke…

For the next four hours, I talked to LaLa as we ran errands and ate lunch. She curled up in my arm while I was driving and wandered the car when I wasn’t. I shared a bit of my chicken caesar salad with her, and poured her a cupful of water. She purred in contentment and never once nipped at my fingers to protest anything.

Finally, I stopped in front where I’d snatched her from and put her back where she belonged. She alternately clung to me and scrabbled to get away as I took put her on the sidewalk.

I swear she looked back at me with the melancholy gaze of a hostage with Stockholm syndrome.

cat-tongue-catAnd although I briefly thought about grabbing her back up and whisking her away to our house where she could live as my special cuddle cat for the rest of our days… I resisted. Two cats are enough, my husband says. Anything more than that borders on hoarding.

Or so I’m told.

I’m not sure I believe that.

LaLa was a pretty good listener, despite being a catnapping victim, and she was much nicer than Oliver ever had been. She didn’t even mind being in a minivan – which is more than I can say for my other son.

But still, kidnapping someone else’s cat, no matter how nice and accommodating the cat is, is no way to acquire a new pet.

Again, I’ve heard this, but I’m not quite sure I believe it.  Surely there are exceptions … like when a cat really likes you, right?

And even though she was in my life for only a short time, I like to think she was happy… and that she taught me a life lesson I’m not soon to forget – namely, that I am seriously just one bad relationship away from becoming a crazy cat lady…

Copyright (c) Liz Carey 2017

Seven ways to screw up your writing career

When you’re freelance writing, you’ll find there are a million people out there who will tell you how to succeed… provided you give them $49.95 per month for a minimum of the rest of your natural-born life.

But there aren’t a lot of people willing to tell you what you shouldn’t do.

Luckily, I’m here to help.

facebook-image1. Start your morning off with a quick look at Facebook, Twitter or any other social media site. I know… how can you live without seeing the latest incendiary post about the President, or your college roommate’s daughter’s best friend’s new cat video? Perish the thought, right? If you really, REALLY don’t want to succeed, make sure you get into an argument with that friend from elementary school over whether or not people who park in handicapped spots should be shot on sight, and then go out and try to find an amusing cat video to upload.

2. Treat your career like a hobby. Don’t worry about things like Tax ID numbers, bookkeepers, separate checking accounts and income projections. In fact, don’t even keep track of all of your contacts or reach out to them regularly. It’s not like you actually want to make a living, right? The mere thought of being a work-at-home writer is enough. No need to keep track of invoices, receivables, tax information and receipts – that’s all for losers. Besides, everyone else thinks you sit around in your underwear playing solitaire all day so you might as well, right?

3. Forget to find new assignments on a regular basis. If you’re like most people, you “know” you’re a good writer (isn’t everyone?) and what you have to say is much more pajamaseloquent and important than anything anyone else has to say. So, really, people should be coming to you, begging you to write for them, shouldn’t they? Put on those comfy slippers and those flannel pajama bottoms and just wait for them to contact you. Once the word gets out about how great you are, they will come flocking to your door.

4. Don’t market yourself. Nope, nope-ity nope, nope, nope. No need to get a web site, a Facebook page, a blog, a Twitter and Instagram account or business cards. Just be yourself, see above and wait for assignments to come pouring in.

clock-image5. Give top priority to making sure you only work a six or seven hour day. Nothing says success like only having to work four hours a week, right? And if you have to work more than eight hours a day, you must be doing something wrong. No one knows better than you how much more important it is to relax, unwind and keep your reading up, rather than working hard and earning your stripes.

6. Stop trying to learn. Instead of listening to others who work at writing for a living, make sure that you keep yourself above it all. There’s no need to learn about social media marketing, SEO search terms, monetizing your blog or how to craft a sentence. Who needs that stuff? You just need a few articles a month so you can sit back and write the Great American Novel. It’s a no-brainer. Who needs growth and education when you have brilliance behind you?

unprofessional-habits7. Definitely, above all else, don’t be professional. Make sure that you don’t double check your work, keep good notes about sources and their contact information, meet deadlines or work well with other people, like editors and photographers. That just screams “amateur!” You’re a diva. Every word you write is pure genius! Editors should consider themselves lucky that you deigned to allow them to use your prosaic gems.

Granted, I am by no means the most successful freelance writer out there. But I am making a living from it. And I am getting paid for my work. And I have learned a few things in the two years that I’ve been doing this. There’s no guarantee that my experience will be the same as your experience, but I can tell you for a fact, there’s nothing that will kill your freelance career quicker than believing you are above it all. Do the work, the hard work, of building a base of clients and marketing yourself as a writer, and you should be fine.

Copyright (c) Liz Carey 2017

All images remain the property of their owners

No, really, call me nasty

A lot of words have been hurled at angry women voters lately.

My particular favorite is “Nasty Bitch.”

In the words of Inigio Montoya…”You keep using those words. I do not think they mean what you think they mean.”

montoya
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

I was in a meeting a few weeks ago with a woman who was discussing complaining to your congressman.

“You have to be polite to them and deal with them with respect,” she said. “But, the minute you lose your temper or start to get upset, the first thing those guys do is start talking about how you’re a ‘nasty bitch.’”

Nasty. Bitch.

I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, and I guess that’s one of them.

Especially lately.

But I don’t think it has the effect on women that men think it does.

When I was a kid, being called a bitch was far from a compliment. It wasn’t even something you heard everyday.

dynastyMy first recollection was probably from “Dynasty” or an old Bette Davis movie.

It was, at the time, something slung at a woman to diminish her femininity and effectiveness. It meant they were an evil-scheming woman who was willing to do whatever necessary to get what they wanted.

And it was a pretty big blow back then.

One could spit out that word like it was some flaming epithet that could be hurled at someone like an atom bomb, decimating them at the end of an argument, or even the beginning of one.

There was even a time when I think being called a bitch hurt my feelings. It was one of my first jobs, and I was in sales, and I was arguing about whether or not a client was mine instead of another salesperson’s. I was told to stop being such a bitch.

It hurt. It really hurt.

But somewhere along the way, the meaning for that word changed.

At some point, there was a shift and being a bitch stopped being a bad thing. It meant a woman who was willing to stand up for themselves and to fight for what they wanted. It started to mean someone who didn’t care if they made other people uncomfortable with their actions.

It began to be looked at like a compliment.

It started to mean someone who was willing to stand up and take charge.

What’s wrong with that?

I’ve been called a bitch for standing up for myself, for standing up for my family, for standing up for the things that I believe in. I’ve been called a bitch because I argue with people when I think they are wrong. I’ve been called a bitch when I did what I needed to do in order to get things done. I’ve been called a bitch when I didn’t give in to pressure to do something I knew was wrong.

As if any of those are bad things…

hillary-nasty-womanAfter Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton a nasty woman, we all became “nasty women.” And now, as people hurl more insults, we WANT to be “nasty bitches” – because that means we’re being listened to and getting under people’s skin.

The lady at the meeting was in her 70s, I think. I sat there and watched while she discussed her call. You could tell from the twinkle in her eye, this wasn’t her first rodeo as an activist.

You could tell this wasn’t her first fight.

And you could tell, just by looking, that she wasn’t used to backing down.

And then, she said the one thing you probably wouldn’t expect to hear.

“If they think I’m a bitch now, they haven’t seen anything yet,” she said.

That’s the thing, I think.

Some women aren’t up for being shrinking violets anymore, or afraid of being seen in a negative light. They’re ready to take on actions that will help them to fight for what they think is right.

Being called a nasty bitch, just doesn’t mean what you think it means.

It’s a compliment. It’s a motivator. It’s a goal, in some ways.

pinkpussyhatAnd calling us that definitely isn’t going to stop us.

Copyright Liz Carey (c) 2017

Don’t Cook in Your Bikini – a letter to my sons

Today, I was working on my cookbook. It’s a book I’ve been working on for my sons for the past 10 years. First, handwritten, and then entered into the computer and now organized and digitized, it’s almost finished. I’ve got a few more recipes to add, and a few pictures to throw into place, but I think it’s almost done.

If I can just get them to stop asking me to add more recipes…cover-image

But as I was reading and editing, I found this – the introduction to the cookbook (aptly named “Don’t Cook in Your Bikini, and Other Things I’ve Learned in the Kitchen”), a letter to my sons as they turn from boys to men.

I hope they listen.

Dear boys – 

Over the past 30+ years, I’ve spent hours in the kitchen. Probably days or weeks, if you add it all up.

And I’ve learned a lot from all that time sautéing, roasting, spicing, creating and burning… I mean, browning… the meals that y’all have mostly enjoyed. I’ve learned from my successes and I’ve learned from my mistakes.

Mostly, I’ve learned enough to keep you all from sending me on to “Worst Cooks in America.”

If there’s one thing I’ve learned though, it’s  Don’t cook in your bikini.

Why not cook in a bikini?

Well, let’s just say “grease splatters.”

It’s all well and good to think that even though a summer storm has popped up outside, you can still grill burgers inside on your griddle. But, when you decide to keep your bikini on and only cover up with a holey sweater, then you’re not really thinking.

And I wasn’t.

Right up until the moment when some of the grease from the griddle jumped up and splattered burn marks all over my stomach.

Then I started thinking a lot of things, many of which ended with “%$#@!!!”

Not that there are that many people who actually WOULD cook in a bikini, but it occurred to me that if I was stupid enough to do it, then YOU might think it was a good idea too.

Apple. Tree. You get the idea.

It occurred to me, however, that cooking in a bikini was a lot like wearing a three-piece suit to garden in – it’s just not a good idea. For every particular job or activity you’ll do, you’ll  have “appropriate clothing.” And there’s a reason for that clothing. You don’t see chefs wearing bathing suits in the kitchen. You see them in long pants and comfortable shoes, and short-sleeved shirts.

Why?

To protect themselves from spills, or dragging their sleeves through the food, or, you know, catching on fire. Yes, honey, that’s a real thing. And you don’t normally see businessmen in jeans and a t-shirt. Why? Because the formality of their attire matches the air of importance they give to their products and services. It’s simple sales, really.

All that got me to thinking … there are a lot of things that I’ve learned in the kitchen that  apply to other parts of your life.

Little bits go a long way. When you’re seasoning something, the best thing to remember is to add a little at a time, and let it cook for a bit before adding more. Think about it – if you added pepper to something and throw in a full tablespoon of it, you run the risk of having whatever you’re cooking come out way too hot. But if you add a pinch or two at a time, you can get to just the right taste.

And that’s kind of like life too. When you’re adding things to your life, try not to add too much at once. Don’t decide you’re going to start a new job, start playing softball, start dating a new girlfriend and move all in the same month. Pick one, do it for a while and then add another until you feel like you can take on something else. Add too much at one time and you’ll be overwhelmed by it all.

You’re not always going to be able to do that though. Life has a way of looking at all of your well-laid plans and happy little dreams, and saying “HA! You are SO cute when you think things are going to go your way like that…” Sometimes life is going to throw a million things at you at once. The best thing you can do when that happens is to just sit down and eat a little at a time until you’ve cleaned your plate. Then you can take a step back, rest up and get ready for dessert.

Don’t be afraid to try something new or make something up, but be creative with a measure of caution. You really should never be afraid to try new things, seek out new people or combine things you love together. For every goofy idea, there is a great success, as much as there is an abysmal failure. You know, buffalo chicken quesadillas started out as a crazy idea, but it worked! Same with the Skyline Lasagna. You should never be afraid to mix things up – whether it’s with a recipe or in your life.

But, remember… just because you like two things, doesn’t necessary mean they go well together. You may like chicken and you may like bananas, but that doesn’t mean chicken and bananas should ever, under any circumstances, in any part of the world, and in any way, shape or form, be combined in one dish and put on a plate.

Similarly, beer and skiing; steak and strawberries; Chuck E. Cheese and a migraine; lima beans and …well…anything… probably not a good combination. Be careful, but always be brave and try new things.

Know when you can fudge a little. Sometimes in cooking, you have to measure carefully. Sometimes, you can wing it. You just have to know which time is which. For example, in barbecue and pizza, really, there’s not a lot of measuring. In those cases, a little of this, a little of that goes a long way. But when it comes to baking, if the recipe says “1 ½ teaspoons of baking soda” you’d better damn well be sure that you measure out exactly 1 ½ teaspoons of baking soda. I’m not kidding. Exactly.

The same is true in life. You may be able to be to skip sweeping under the coffee table every other day at home, but when it comes to work, you have to do the best and most thorough job you can as quickly as you can. You’ve got to know when it’s okay to wing it, and when it’s important to do your best. It makes a huge difference in how successful you’ll be in the long-run.

Be careful where you put your fingers.  You know, it’s important to know where your fingers are when you’re slicing something. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve told you all to curl up your fingers when you’re holding something to cut, and to be careful with knives and food processors. That applies to burning your fingers in the oven (note my hands some day) and putting stuff in hot grease too.

But it applies to other people’s business as well. You don’t need to go sticking your nose or fingers (or any other body part) into someone else’s business. If they want you to know about something, they’ll tell you. If they want you to get involved, they’ll ask you. If they want your help with something, they’ll let you know. I’m not saying, don’t ask if someone needs your help, but certainly don’t take on someone’s problems if they don’t want you there. Be loving and caring with people, and by all means, let them know you are there for them, but don’t stick your fingers in places they don’t belong.

Quit holding on to your recipes  Everyone has secret recipes and things that are theirs and theirs alone. But it doesn’t do anyone any good to hold on to them too tightly. Sharing your gifts with the world is the only clear way to get something back in return.

If I weren’t to share my recipes with you, either by writing them down for you, or cooking them for you, they’d all sit on a shelf and go to waste. But by sharing them, not only do they get a life of their own, but you give me something in return. Whether it’s “Oh, Mom, this is the bomb,” or “I loved your recipe for chicken bog, did you want my recipe for chocolate cola cake?” you get a little quid pro quo action going. When you give a little of yourself, you get a lot in return.

The things you make with love will always surpass the things you throw together Every time you cook, you should absolutely put your heart into it. And by that I mean, when you are creating something, care about the result, because someone is going to be eating that. Do you want to eat something that someone threw together without caring how it tasted, whether or not it was burnt, what kind of texture it had, whether or not the ingredients were rotten? Of course not. You want to eat something that shows someone took the time to do the best they could just for you.

Would you want something that showed someone took the time and effort to make something really great? Or would you want something that someone threw together without thinking about the end result? Put effort into what you do, care about the result – whether it’s in the kitchen or not – and your results will always be better.

Simple ingredients and simple cooking methods are sometimes the best – Eating at a French restaurant can be an amazing thing. Your Dad and I have always said French cooking is about taking out every ingredient you own and cooking them in every pot you own, cleaning all the pots and using them again to come up with an entrée the size of a walnut. It’s all very expensive and very complex and very beautiful and very tasty.

But none of it compares to a bowl of soup beans, or chicken bog, or a really good fried bologna sandwich. Not everything has to be about microgreens, or vodka-infused something or the other, or even about pan roasting something with black truffle oil and pink Himalayan salt. Sometimes, the good stuff is just about three or four ingredients put together and cooked up in the most simple of ways – strawberries and sugar with whipped cream; bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches; scrambled eggs with cheese. It’s the simple stuff that makes a difference.

And in that same vein, when you’re working, sometimes just having good quality products, without all the bells and whistles and razzle dazzle, is all you need. Got a Powerpoint slide show to do? Just do the presentation and make the information sing. Do you need slides that swoop on to the screen and blast the text from out of nowhere? Not really. Let your work stand on its own without trying to baffle people with bullshit. People know what bullshit looks like, regardless of how much glitter you sprinkle on it. Trust me.

I wish I had some beautiful, lyrical words to tell you about living a great life and making a success of yourself and being happy. I don’t. Because I really don’t know what the secrets are.

But I do know this. You only get one chance at life. Do what you want to do. Be who you want to be. Take the risks that will make you happy. It’s always better, in my mind, to look back with a smile at the end of your life and say “I can’t believe I actually did that” instead of looking back with regret and saying to yourself “I wish I had tried to do that.”

I love you both so much. You have made my life better just by being a part of it. Even when I was screaming and angry or crying and worried, you have been the biggest part of my heart and you always will be. I never knew that I could love someone so much that I would give up anything to make their life better. I know I haven’t been able to give you everything. I know I’ve made mistakes. But I also know that I tried to be the best mom I could be. And I know that no matter what, I will forever keep trying to be that and that I will always be here for you.

Probably will still be asking if you’ve brushed your teeth and done your laundry, but still… I’ll be here.  :-*

Copyright (c) Liz Carey 2017

10 Things I Learned About the Old West from Gunsmoke

For the last few months, I’ve been watching a lot of Gunsmoke.gunsmoke_main_cast_1967

It’s on in the afternoons, and as things begin to wind down, I find myself relaxing in the company of Marshall Matt Dillon, Miss Kitty and Festus.

Secretly, Festus is my favorite.

But, I’ve learned a lot of things I didn’t know about the Old West from Gunsmoke. It wasn’t all wagon trains and cattle rustling you know.

 

  1. GunsmokeMarshall Matt Dillon was the tallest man in the world. No one was ever taller than Matt Dillon in Dodge City. And since, apparently, Dodge City was the center of the known world, it only stands to reason there wasn’t a taller person anywhere out there. There certainly wasn’t in the Old West. I think there was one guy, a bad guy named Deke, who could possibly have been as tall if not taller than Marshall Dillon, but he died inside the first four minutes of the episode, so I’m pretty sure he doesn’t count.

 

  1. festusNo one had spurs that jingle jangle jingled except Festus. The song was wrong. There was only one set of jingly jangly spurs in Dodge City, and Festus wore them. You can hear them jingle jangle every time he walks. And he’s the only one. I don’t know why he needs them – what with him riding a mule and all – but he’s got ‘em and his are the only ones that make a lick of noise.

 

  1. There was a dearth of jobs in the Old West. From the looks of it, no one had anything to do. Every day, there were tons of people just milling about, waiting for something to happen and gawking when a stranger or the stagecoach came in to town. Now you can tell there are stores, and black smith shops and the many saloons, but … there doesn’t seem to be anyone actually doing anything. They sure as heck have a lot of money to eat and drink though.

 

  1. Speaking of which, it’s never too early to drink in the Old West. Breakfast, lunch, dinner – it’s always time for a drink. Beer before breakfast? No problem. Whiskey before 10 a.m.? Why not? Want something to drink with your lunch or dinner? I’ve got two choices for you and neither of them are tea or milk.

 

  1. shoot-out
    Yep, not a drop of blood…

    No one ever bled. Gunshot wound to the neck? Just a schmear of red here and there. Gunshot wound to the gut? Barely a blood stain the size of a hockey puck. The alcohol must have served as a blood blocker. Regardless, a gunshot wound, no matter where, was almost instantaneously fatal. Unless you were one of the main characters. The main characters had the best aim ever and if they shot you from 300 yards away, you would fall down dead where you stood. The plains of Kansas apparently are littered with the bones of dead bad guys and innocent by-standers. And if you were a main character, you would be able to survive a gunshot wound to the spine and not only not be paralyzed, but also be able to fight through the pain to reach a gun, just in the nick of time. Just saying. If you’re gonna be in the Old West, make your way to the inner circle. All those guys wandering around Dodge City might as well have been the guys wearing red shirts on Star Trek.

 

  1. Marshall Dillon, Newly and Festus were the only people in the entirety of the Old West who knew how to use a karate chop on bad guys. They were also the only ones capable of sneaking up on bad guys ninja style to attack them from behind just in the nick of time to save the day. Similarly, Matt Dillon had the ability to ride a horse into the millions of acres of open desert and grassland there in Kansas and be able to stumble across the one person he was looking for right before they stumbled into a heat-stroke induced death. Astounding.

 

  1. Speaking of heat stroke, everyone wore the same thing every day, all three or four
    layers of it, except Miss Kitty. Even the women wore long skirts with petticoats and pantaloons and tops with at least two or three layers. Crazy. No telling when they washed them, or if they even did, but it’s the same outfit, with the same shoes and the same hats every single gosh blamed day. I don’t know how they stood it. The smell in the summer must have been overwhelming… if you could discern it from the horses in the streets and the dead bodies everywhere.

 

  1. miss-kitty
    Miss Kitty

    No matter what happened, nothing could damage Miss Kitty’s Old West make-up and eyeliner. Fall into a stream after being thrown from a stagecoach? Wet clothes, but perfect face and smile. Beaten and bruised by bad guys gunning for Marshall Dillon? Dresses and hair may be messed up and torn, but the eyeliner would be perfect. It didn’t even run when she cried. God, what I wouldn’t give for make-up like that. I wonder if she had some Indian princess tattoo it on her or something….

 

  1. nimoy
    yep…that’s Leonard Nimoy

    If you had the right nose and skin color, you could be any one of sever different ethnicities. It was only through stereotypical clothing and accents that you could tell if someone was American Indian or Jewish. And all the bad guys were easy to identify because they all looked the same. In fact, some of them looked so much alike, you would swear they were twins, if not the exact same person.

 

  1. Everyone in the Old West was concerned with lots of social justice issues. Discrimination, rape, domestic violence, gambling addiction, alcoholism – you name it, they were worried about it. And all of the issues they talked about we’re still talking about now. Have we really not come that far in that long? Course, no one ever brought up Festus’ inability to read, but … there are people in America now who are in positions of power who haven’t the brain of a turnip, so… I guess things haven’t changed much.

 

I guess there are deeper messages that I could learn about life from Gunsmoke, but… I was a child of the 70s. Nothing really gets much deeper than Steve Austin fighting Bigfoot and realizing he was never the real enemy after all. What can Gunsmoke possibly say to top that?

Copyright (c) Liz Carey 2016

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