India during COVID-19

This year it wasn’t snow or icy roads that closed schools, shut down businesses and kept folks at home. No, COVID-19 did all that with a vengeance. Grandchildren stayed home. Some parents went to work, others waited for the unemployment and stimulus checks.

On Sundays we watched the weekly church service from our lounge chairs and visited over Zoom. In the store, we stared at empty shelves once filled with paper products and signs rationing the sale of soup.

It was not the best of times.

It was not the worst of times. Not from my secure corner of retirement with plenty of food in the pantry and a working vehicle.

It was not the worst of times for most folks in America. Definitely not after I read a report from a couple who work in India with Youth with a Mission. They wrote, “When India entered a state of lockdown on March 24 (the largest lockdown in the world) more than 100 million men and women who had migrated from their rural towns and villages to look for work in big cities and slums such as Dharavi were suddenly left jobless.” Since many sleep where they work, they also were suddenly homeless.

“For these millions it was not simply facing an economic crisis but an existential one as they struggle to put food on their tables. These are the people who earn daily wages, work on a contract basis and have no safety net or personal insurance of any kind. They may not succomb to COVID-19, but they will succomb to lack of access to food and health care.”

In India the government lockdown included the trains many workers used to get home. Stranded, sometimes hundreds of miles from home, with no job and no place to stay, many simply began walking.

Images from across India started to emerge of a mass exodus of people walking hundreds of miles under the scorching sun to reach their hometowns. Lack of public transportation (because it was either unaffordable for many or closed due to the pandemic) forced parents to carry their children or tow them behind on carts or even luggage cases. Stories began to circulate of children dying due to exhaustion and starvation and of fatigued migrants falling asleep on railway tracks and being run over by trains. Others died in road accidents and from extreme exhaustion.

The YWAM people sent pictures of food distribution points set up along the main roads or at the bus stops. Yes, America saw lines forming for food distribution. But it was people waiting in cars to insure social distancing, not folks standing in line after a long day of walking.

Social distancing makes sense and seems easy until I read that many of these Indians live in apartment complexes with whole families crammed into one-room apartments. Locally folks express shock and dismay when they are buying groceries and encounter a maskless person who sneezes.

Consider life in Dharavi, India – one of the largest slums in the world. One million folks live within eight-tenths of a square mile. It is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Disease runs rampant in the confined, unsanitary conditions. Social distancing to avoid COVID-19 would be impossible in their already tenuous life.

For millions in India, every day is the worst of all times. Catching just a glimpse of the effect of the lockdown for COVID-19 in India really puts the past months into perspective. It really wasn’t the best of all times for us, but it definitely was not the worst of all times.

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Comfort food in isolation

“I had the strangest dream last night,” my husband said one morning (well actually he says that most mornings). “I dreamed about goulash. That sounds so good.”

“Hmm. I haven’t made that in a long time,” I replied. For some reason I had been thinking about goulash. My mother used to make it often: a cheap, easy, filling meal. I could not remember exactly how to make it.

The Internet yielded several ideas that I combined. I added special seasoning to cooked hamburger and sausage before adding heaps of chopped and sauteed onions, celery, broccoli, green peppers, cooked pasta shells and spaghetti sauce. It was not the way my mom used to prepare it. It was much more complicated. It smelled and tasted fantastic.

We each scarfed it up a large serving, considered seconds and decided we shouldn’t. With mandated social isolation on top of six weeks of home recovery from hip replacement, we had eaten more than our share of comfort food to remind us of happier days. We didn’t need extra servings.

We both liked it so much that I posted on Facebook, “Made goulash for the first time in a while. Tasty supper.”

My darling daughter replied, “I am not a picky eater AT ALL…. but goulash is by far my least favorite dish.”

And my little brother wrote, “I agree.” Humph, and I used to cook supper for him.

Okay so goulash did not make their favorite foods list. Still, it served as my comfort food that day. I define comfort food as, “I don’t care how many calories it has, I’m unhappy and I want this food. I will feel happier if I eat it.”

Evidently during social isolation I have needed comfort food. At least, that’s my explanation for the baking spree in the kitchen. First, I made chocolate cake with vanilla frosting like my mom made. Then, I made a spice cake with penuche frosting, just like Mom made. I cooked brown sugar with butter and milk in a saucepan over heat. I stirred until it thickened then quickly added confectionery sugar and vanilla to create a delightful, caramel fudge frosting. I wanted to eat all the frosting. I controlled myself and smoothed the frosting over the cake. I did make sure I left enough in the bowl to satisfy me. I also swiped a few spoonfuls from around the edge of the cake.

Seeking more comfort, I pulled a couple of pie shells from the chest freezer and decided it was time to use those peeled and frozen apples to make a Dutch apple pie. I enjoyed every bite I didn’t have to share with hubby.

The other crust I reserved for lemon pie. I couldn’t find a lemon pudding mix at the store. So I pulled out the old Betty Crocker cookbook and began measuring sugar, lemon, cornstarch and water to heat in a pan. I stirred, brought the mixture to a boil and poured it in the baked shell. I whipped the egg whites to shiny peaks and baked the meringue to a perfect brown top.

My pride in the perfect pie almost kept me from eating it. It only took one delightful bite to erase that silly notion.

I do like my carbs and desserts. Which probably explains why as a child I needed clothes sized for a chubby girl. Fortunately my baking spree of comfort foods ceased abruptly. Our oven stopped heating in the middle of baking the cornbread I really wanted for supper. About that same time strict social isolation ended. I’m not complaining, any more comfort food and I would have needed chubby old lady clothes.

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Hello, Grandma!

We love to hear from our family, but rarely do the grandchildren call us. So I was a bit surprised when I answered the phone to hear, “Hi, Grandma. I have been in an accident. I need some help with cash to get home.”

The caller sort of sounded like my grandson, but I usually just talk with his father.

“Hi,” I said hesitantly and asked, “Who is this calling?”

“Johnny.”

“Wrong name, Johnny. Good-bye.”

Later, I called my son and asked to speak with my grandson, “I need to be able to recognize his voice over the phone,” I explained the situation before chatting with the teen.

I wondered, “How do people get tricked by such calls?”

“Many would answer, ‘Hi, Johnny. How are you?’ and the caller has a grandchild’s name,” my friend explained.

I researched fake calls to grandparents on the Internet. I learned that in 2018, the Federal Trade Commission reported that folks 70 and older sent an average of $9,000 to fraudulent callers. That is significantly more than the average of $2,000 sent by younger people responding to imposter calls. Imposters trick them by saying, “the IRS wants back taxes paid with a gift card or a wire transfer.”

Remember, the IRS never operates that way.

Forwarned, my husband had a ready response when another imposter called. “Hi Grandpa. I need some cash. Can you wire it to me? Don’t tell Mom and Dad, please.”

Grandpa grinned and looked across the room at me. He had his own questions.

“How old are you?”
“24.” (We have no grandsons who are 24.)

“How old do you think I am?” he asked.

“90.”

“How about 27? And if I am 27, I can’t have a grandson who is 24.”

The caller hung up.

That caller obviously had not trolled my social media for information before calling. Some scam artists do and have a lot of information before they pose as a grandchild in trouble.

After asking, “Are you ok? Were you hurt?” some grandparents observe, “It does not sound like you.” Of course the imposter has an explanation. “I broke my nose in the accident,” or “I have been crying.”

Ask for more information, “Where are you calling from? What are you doing there?”

Give yourself time to think before sending money, “Give me your number. I will see what I can do and call back.”

If the caller says, “I have been arrested and need money for bail.” Do not simply use the number the caller gives you. Do not believe the ‘officer’ who takes the phone and validates the need for bail money. Get the name of the town and google information for the local police phone number.

Before sending money, no matter how desperate the caller sounded, call the parents or anyone else who would know whether the grandchild is traveling, at school or at home.

Once cash is wired, more pleas for cash will likely follow. Sometimes the caller wants a gift card.

Big box retailers like Walmart or Target direct requests for expensive gift cards to the office. There trained clerks should ask, “Did you receive a call from a family member who just had an acccident, was arrested or had some other crisis? This is often a scam to get your money.”

If you send funds using Western Union and before realizing it’s a scam, the transaction may be stopped by contacting the Western Union Fraud hotline at 1-800-448-1492.

Avoid being scammed, and call your real grandchild and have a real conversation with them.

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Cousin camp 2020

Last week we held a cousin camp with seven grandchidlren ages 4 to 13. Enough children for everyone to have a playmate.

The first day I said, “Those dolls in the bedroom need to be dressed for donation.” For the next couple of hours the girls combed the dolls’ hair and tried on outfits. “This is kinda fun,” Sophie, 12, declared.

Daisy, 9, picked out fabric to make blankets that coordinated with the outfits they wore. Every day, she also gathered dirty clothes and towels and kept the washing machine and dryer humming.

“I like doing laundry here. It’s fun.” she said holding a neatly folded stack of towels.

Every day, Eli, 13, nudged awake Sam, almost 10. “Come on, let’s go for a walk.”

The third day, Sam groaned, “Not today.”

“Come on. It’s more fun with you.”

“Okay.” Sam never refused again.

Chefs varied, “I’ll fix dinner, “ said Sophie, *** looking at the row of boxes of Hamburger Helper mixes and mac and cheese.

Caroline, 11, asked, “Do you have any chocolate chips? I want to make cookies.”

“I do,” I pulled out the chocolate chips. She climbed on the counter, examined the cupboard and found the ingredients. The cousins scarfed up the cookies. I helped clean the kitchen. Usually the cousins loaded, unloaded the dishwasher and cleaned counters.

One afternoon, Henry, 7, helped prepare snack bags. As he counted M&Ms he cheefully said, “This is fun. I like doing this.”

We mandated they memorize Bible verses and read books. Henry discovered The DogMan books and sat up late reading. Sophie finished reading the Hunger Games series and Caroline began reading it.

“Hurry up and read more,” Sophie urged her, “I want to gossip about the book with you.” Caroline, a voracious reader, zoomed through the book and had a good book gossip.

Henry, 7, and Katie, 4, gossiped about “The Twelve Days of Christmas” which expanded to “Twelve Days of Thanksgiving” and “Twelve Days of Halloween.”

Through the week the noise level in our house soared. One day I looked at the loudest child and said, “Okay, for the next hour, you whisper.” That child made even a whisper sound loud.

One night a child prayed, “Help us not to fight. And if we hit that it won’t hurt too much.”

I am not sure when they fought. Mostly they played including organizing business schemes in the sewing room. Several declared, “I’m the boss.” Even little Katie stood on the chair with a big grin and sweetly announced, “I am the boss. You have to do what I say.”

They ignored her as she had them. The big girls learned how to thread the machine, snarl the bobbin thread and call me when everything failed. Oh yes, and they made little stuffed creatures and blankets.

Sam and Henry spent hours sorting and asembling our Legos or their transformer parts. Forget the instructions books, they preferred to make their own contraptions. When Sam found an electric circuit kit he told me, “I think I know how to do it. Can I?” I nodded and within minutes he had the lights shining.

Eli mowed the lawn, picked blueberries and with Grandpa and Sam changed the oil filter. We often heard, “It is fun here.” It probably helped that we had a stair-step crew of cousins, a cupboard full of toys, overflowing bookshelves and a grandpa who hoisted the ladder so they could fly toy airplanes off the roof.

The last day one asked, “what are you going to do after we leave?”

I thought about quiet days with afternoon naps and said, “What we always do, putter around.” Mentally I added, “and plan another cousin camp.”

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reading the old newspapers, seeing prejudice

One of my first assignments at the El Dorado News-Times required me to read the old newspapers to find tidbits for “Today in History in El Dorado.” Since I am no longer in the office, I only have my impressions of articles and comments I read. I am unable to provide specic dates, but the following reflects my impressions of how racism touched the pages of newspapers through the first half of the 20th century.

For instance, around the 1900s, prior to an election, a writer urged his fellow party members to court the black population of the community in order to keep them from voting with the opposition. The writer acknowledged his adverse attitude towards the black community whom he wanted to vote for his party’s candidate while also acknowledging the party’s need for their votes. Prejudices and racism glared blatantly as I turned the brittle, aging pages of those huge, hard bound copies of old newspapers, I did not have to read between the lines to recognize the prevailing, accepted segregation and prejudices of the time.

The newspaper’s stories obviously emphasized racial differences by noting an arrested individual’s race. Black sports and activities clearly received much less coverage.

In the pre-World War I era, lynchings tarnished the country’s image. The vast majority of lynching victims were black, but they were not the only ones lynched prior to World War I, at least not according to the statistics I found one January. The story reported the national statistics on lynchings including how many died from each race or ethnic group. I studied the list. The lynchings involved many African-Americans with a scattering of Caucasians and Hispanics, and one man described as “Italian.” Such reports began the fueled a campaign against lynch mobs.

According to a biography about President Harry Truman, during his years in the Senate, Congress proposed laws to prosecute those who participated in lynch mobs. It failed to pass, as have 200 other proposed bills in the past 100 years. In the 1940s, after the federal government began prosecuting those involved, the lynchings began to decline.

One comment made at a school board meeting during segregation in the late 1930s caught my attention. The board looked at the yearly budget and raised the teacher’s salaries in the white schools but not the salaries in the black schools. One board member said he was sorry they did not have the funds to pay the black teachers. He really wished they had had the funds. I read that statement, yet in my mind I heard my husband saying, “People find money for what they think is important.”

Reading the El Dorado newspapers from the turbulent 1960s, I never saw any reports on the national unrest, riots, protests or sit downs. The local newspapers were silent about racial unrest while protests filled the land.

Another folder of papers, crossed my desk: The list of black and white schools’ superintendents and teachers before and after local school integration. A former black teachers summarized those lists best, “None of the administrators from the black schools retained their position.” All were demoted. Integration happened in the classrooms, not in the board room.

For some families, lessons regarding segregation began early. Twenty years ago, through my job, I met and interviewed a 70 year-old man who had lived in a logging camp back in the woods as a boy. Few children lived in the logging camp where he lived. One day he went to play with some black children in the camp. His parents’ reaction and discipline seared him forever. They would not tolerate that. Decades later, pain etched his voice as he told me his story. Things have changed in many ways since that man’s childhood. Still, racism remains an issue we must address with our attitudes, actions and willingness to think differently in how we will live together.

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So you have been missing church

For months quarantine has closed the church doors. We mailed letters and activity sheets to Sunday School students and never saw their responses. We have listened to sermons over the Internet, sung from our lounge chairs and dropped our offering in the mailbox. We have missed fellowship. Fellowship involves personal interaction like I experienced last week in a parking lot.

It began when I collected some old Sunday School literature from my daughter’s church. I offered them free on Facebook. Two women immediately wanted them. I split up the materials and set times to meet.

The first woman drove away just as my daughter sent me a message that I had taken one too many boxes. I had taken her new curriculum.

Oh.

I sent a message to the first woman. We set a time to meet again.

I pulled out the “bring it back” curriculum before I met the second person, the mother of an elementary student, “My daughter misses Sunday School so much. She loves Jesus. She will be so excited to have this. I will pass along what we don’t use,” she said.

I loved hearing that, and I do like gathering unwanted literature and re-homing it. Most of the Christian literature and Bibles I gather goes to Love Packages in Butler, Illinois where materials are shipped to third world countries that speak English. Sometimes I ask locally if anyone needs the materials.

Mary Shutes-Crosby met us on the shady side of the store parking lot.

“I will use these supplies to teach,” she said as she looked at the lesson packets.

“What do you need?” my husband asked. He had just packed our van with 18 boxes of literature for Love Packages.

“Devotionals, Bibles, Sunday School lessons,” she said. “We have to do what we can to teach them the Word.”

He helpfully found some of each and said, “Before you go, I want to tell you about a testimony I heard. I went to a funeral of a man I worked with years ago. He was rough around the edges – not a Christian. I attended his funeral recently. I was astounded to hear the pastor praise his faith. The pastor explained that 10 years ago, his granddaughter had said, ‘Grandpa I want you to be in heaven when I go.’ That touched this man. He became a believer, and his life changed.”

As he pulled another stack of books, my husband said, “That encouraged me. If a grandchild can pray for her grandfather and see God change his life, this grandfather can pray for grandchildren and see God change their lives.”

He turned to close the van door when another vehicle pulled up and Arthur Primm hopped out. Arthur wanted to share a testimony of God’s healing. I first met Arthur many years ago when I interviewed him after Guillain Barre Syndrome paralyzed him. This rare disorder comes, paralyzes and usually recedes. Primm had survived that. Recently cancer invaded his body. He had just had his lab reports and praised God that the numbers were down.

“God is not finished with me yet. I have more to do here.” He smiled broadly. He made sure that I heard how God had blessed him again.

I thanked him for his testimony. As I closed the van door, I realized that for the first time in weeks I had fellowshipped with believers. No sermon, no songs, no Bible reading. Simply sharing God’s impact on us. In time, we will slowly return to organized group Bible studies, songs and sermons. For now we encourage one another as we share our God moments with each other.

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Jean sews through social isolation

The orders to stay home during the pandemic shut down the sewing group at Marrable Hill Chapel as it did at many others. Stacks of fabric, boxes of thread, bags of lace, rick-rack and bias tape sat idle on shelves. A few members of the Thursday afternoon sewing group had taken home projects to finish before the next week’s sewing. The quarantine kept us from going back.

That did not bother Jean Tedford. She pulled fabric from her own stash and kept on stitching.

When I talked with her, she had finished sewing a few pairs of shorts and wanted to sew little dresses to put in the Operation Christmas Child boxes. Considering her health conditions, I went to church, pulled fabric for dresses and grabbed lace and trim to deliver to her to supplement her fabric.

It wasn’t enough. That woman sewed up a storm! Every time I talked with her, she said she needed more rick-rack, fabric and lace. She turned simple sun dresses into party dresses.

Every dress had coordinating borders, ruffled lace and/or rick-rack. “I am running out of these colors of rick-rack,” she said after she finished 20 dresses.

I sorted through my notions and those at the church. It wasn’t enough. I checked at the fabric section in town. No sewing machines, racks of thread yawned with empty spaces. Fabric included Halloween leftovers at full price. The demand for homemade face masks and other medical sewing projects had cleared the shelves.

Back at church I pulled more fabric. The Union County Extension Office and El Dorado Connections received fabric donations for volunteer projects such as the face masks. I collected bundles of fabric and shared them with masks makers who sewed and donated masks. I looked hard and long at some beautiful yardage. “Would it be okay if we used some of this to make dresses to give through Operation Christmas Child boxes?”

Yes.”

By the time I delivered the fabric, Jean had completed 35 dresses. Her eyes glowed with pleasure. “Oh my!” she said and began matching strips of complimentary colors with the bigger pieces. “I need more rick rack. I don’t have these colors.”

Maybe not the colors but she did have a heap of dresses in various sizes covering her couch.

Desperate, I put out a plea for more rick rack on Facebook. Debbie Langford and others pulled a pile of rick rack from their stashes.

Jean sighed happily and sorted colors.

I packed up the 52 dresses to take to church until we packed OCC boxes.

A week later, we chatted, “So how many dresses have you finished now?”

I have seven more done.”

Wow! How many do you do in a day?”

Ohhh, I can make about a dress and a half in a day,” her eyes twinkled.

You must be sewing all day.”

Well I was a bit tired Sunday, so I didn’t do any,” she said regretfully.

It is okay take a Sabbath rest,” I assured her.

She agreed, but her mind focuses on the stacks of fabric laid out, cut and awaiting her. Jean imagines little girls’ happy faces when they receive the pretty dresses. “I wish I could be there and see it,” she sighed.

Marrable Hill Chapel originally had a goal of over 100 dresses for this year’s boxes. I thought the quarantine would kill our goal.

I thought wrong. With no other activities to attend, Jean’s days of avid stitching guarantee we will have enough. Hurrah for Jean and her sewing machine. She is making it happen while staying at home and keeping healthy.

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The hard part of mental illness

My cousin’s first hint of something amiss began with daily long distant phone calls filled with angry rants. The parents on one side of the country looked at each other with astonishment and concern as their son once again dumped his rage on them from his side of the country.

They carefully asked, “have you been taking your medication?”

“I am fine. I don’t need any medicine. I am doing just great.”

They knew better. His postings on Facebook and phone calls validated their concern. He ranted about the police stopping him. He ranted about his pets being removed from his property when he left them untended while he communed with nature for a few days.

“I love my dog,” he protested.

He quarreled with the authorities. He had not crossed the line that made him a danger to others or himself. Not yet, anyway. His parents knew his actions and words threatened his health and his freedom. They could do nothing.

His brother and sister traveled across the nation to bring him home. He was not there. One of his new friends assured them, “He is a great guy. I did not realize this was happening. When I see him, I will try to persuade him to take his medicine.”

The family waited. They prayed. They wished he would renew his daily angry phone calls, “At least then we knew he was alive. He has never been this bad before. He has always said he would take his medicine so he wouldn’t get this bad.”

The hardest part of mental illness have wrapped around my cousin’s family. Mom, dad and siblings might go about their routine life and look normal. They aren’t “normal.” They hurt. They want their loved one safe and in his right mind. They don’t like even the thought of potential encounters with the police who are simply doing their duties of maintaining order. An arrest could be devastating for their son. In the past, doctors said an incarceration could possibly trigger a psychosis so deep that he would never recover – not even with medicine.

It hurt to read my cousin’s Facebook postings. I prayed, and I recalled our own family’s mental health crises. For one of our sons, three hospitalizations in as many months and an arrest for disorderly conduct followed months of insufficient medication. A court order for regular shots of Haldol to calm the mind left him able to hold a job and return to a semblance of normality. It took a couple of years before the doctors again prescribed modern medications. A decade later, with sufficient medication, the doctors made a rare declaration “Your illness is in remission, but keep taking the medicine.”

For another family member, we were stunned when the nurse at the psyche ward said, “We are arranging for a room at a long-term care facility.” She predicted we would visit him about once a month.

We visited and listened befuddled with the word salad he spewed.

Did the doctors really say, “No improvement expected?” My world slumped into discouragement. Modern medication had failed.

Time did not fail. Through the months, his mind calmed and he slowly realized his options. He chose to leave the facility and live closer to family. His choices since then have not always been ideal but he takes his medications and manages.

As I read my cousin’s post, I prayed for my cousin. I prayed for an intervention, a return home and that their son would regain his mental health. I pray that he accept the medicine and realize anew the depth of his family’s love.

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The no sleep night

During quarantine, Mother’s Day looked rather glum until I read my daughter’s Facebook posting. I well remember this test of motherhood on a sleepless night with my youngest child.

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom. Probably the most accurate depiction of the type of mother she is happened when I was a Freshman in college. It was finals week of my spring semester 2000. I was worn out and ready to come home. I had researched for my Comp 2 paper, but I could NOT get words on the page.

I called my mom at 1:30 a.m., crying hysterically. “Mom, this five page paper is due at 9 a.m. I’m never going to get it done. If I don’t turn it in, I’m going to get a ‘C’ in the class.?” She calmly advised, “Start typing. Get the intro. Just start on it. You can type fast. Call me back in 30 minutes, and tell me about your progress.” So I typed through bleary eyes but with a renewed sense of purpose. I didn’t want to disappoint my mother, who is a writer.

At 2 a.m. I called and reported, “I have almost a whole page!” She said, “Great. Keep going. See if you can get to the beginning of page three. Call me in 30 minutes.” I didn’t get all the way to page three, but I called her anyway at 2:30 a.m. The carrot of achievement was JUST out of reach, but I knew I could do it. She was cheering me on 4 hours away, phone in her hand, probably fully awake by now. That went on all night. I would call with a progress report all morning until I had a finished paper. I had a friend help me edit quickly at 8 a.m., and I turned it in by 9 a.m. I didn’t get an “A,” but I got a “B+”… pretty good considering my VERY late start on that essay!

At the time, I went on with my day, and sort of forgot that my mom stayed up all night with me. I told the ridiculous story of how I had stayed up all night to write that paper and still managed to get an “A” in the class. When I look back at that event 20 years ago, I know my mom is the real protagonist: the one who swooped in to save the girl who was stuck, doomed even. My mom was fine with my remembrance of that story. She didn’t correct me. She didn’t need a “thank you” or a huge “shout out.” She was just glad I called her. Her delight is to serve behind the scenes.

This is my mom. She is humble. We are polar opposites, but I STILL want to be her when I grow up. She gave me a strong voice by allowing me to speak freely. She gave me confidence by never/rarely warning me of the “what ifs.” Her attitude was, “of course you can do anything you set your mind to. Keep at it.” She never makes me feel guilty for my failures; she just shrugs and changes the subject after my verbose confessions or sneaky misdeeds. She taught me forgiveness as I watched her learn how to extend forgiveness toward people who had committed heinous acts. She never views anyone as a “throw away person.” If I ask for help, she gives freely, but she rarely insists I do things her way. She waits patiently and is always available.

Mom, I could go on. I won’t. I know you prefer succinctness over rambling thoughts any day. I love you. Happy mother’s day.

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Carrot cake

Carrot Cake recipe from Cook’s Illustrated magazine Jan-Feb. 1998 edition

2 pounds of carrots grated fine (makes about 7 coups … a food processor saves a LOT of time grating and scraping knuckles.)

1 cup plus 2/3 cup granulated sugar

½ cup unsalted butter

1 cup light brown sugar

5 eggs

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

20 ounce can crushed pineapple drained (or if you only have chunks or rings, drain and put them through the food processor.)

¾ cup toasted, chopped pecans or walnuts

¾ cup raisins steamed with a bit of water in microwave (this plumps them up a bit, drain the water.)

Mix separately and set aside:

2 2/3 cups of sifted all purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

Sift and stir all together and set aside.

Toss grated carrots with 1 cup of the granulated sugar in a colander, set it over a large bowl. Drain until one cup of liquid has collected. Takes about 20-30 minutes. I do this first and then proceed.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a skillet over a medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Cook until golden brown. Takes 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and cool 10 minutes.

Whisk in the remaining granulated sugar and brown sugar.

Add eggs one at a time, whisking thoroughly before adding: vanilla, flower mixture and stir until combined.

Mix in the carrots, the drained crushed pineapple, nuts and raisins.

Pour into 2-3 inch pans that are greased and floured. Let the batter rest for 10 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes. Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes. (I like to let the cake settle in the pans, maybe even overnight.. Invert cakes and remove from pans.)

Cool and frost with tangy cream cheese frosting

1 pound softened cream cheese

1 stick butter softened

2 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar

1 tablespoon sour cream

Mix cream cheese and butter completely. Add confectioner’s sugar and sour cream. Beat until smooth and then another 2-3 minutes. Frost cake.

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