MJ’s Musings: Rituals from My Childhood

My mom had Saturday night rituals for us that I haven’t thought about in years. I have no idea why I stopped doing these things. Maybe modern materials don’t require as much care as things did back in day. Maybe we took better care of our belongings because we had to make them last.

We polished, then buffed our shoes every Saturday night. There were three or four colors of shoe polish and/or paste on the upper shelf in the bathroom. My dad had a large shoe brush. According to Amazon, shoe brushes are still a thing.

The other thing we did every Saturday without fail was wash our combs and hairbrushes. I can still smell the Prell shampoo we used. My mom had a dedicated fingernail brush we used to get between the teeth on our combs.  I sometimes used a toothpick.

Yes, I still clean the hair from my brush, but my comb isn’t dirty. Is my scalp cleaner than it was when I was child because I wash my hair more often? 

Do you have childhood rituals you abandoned?

 

MJ Monday: MJ’s Movies-Lars & The Real Girl

Lars and the Real Girl is one of those quirky movies a person either loves or hates.  I loved it; one of my critique partners loathed it and found it disturbing. But we frequently disagree on movies.

Ryan Gosling stars as a young man in a northern Minnesota town who is searching for true love. He’s also battling his way out of depression. He orders a blow-up sex doll on line and introduces her around town as his girlfriend, Bianca, a wheelchair-bound missionary.

As I said: quirky.

But not kinky. There’s no sex involved. Lars is deeply religious and Bianca is a missionary. Lars’s depression isolates him from human interaction. Once his brother and sister-in-law get on board with treating Bianca as “real”, the rest of the town follows suit . How the townspeople react to and accept Bianca helps Lars connect to others and heal.

I found it very sweet.

Perhaps I liked the story because the town in which I grew up looked after a family of intellectually disabled people.  Maybe outsiders didn’t understand why Henry/Hank  (depending on which side of town you lived) was allowed to wear out the grass under the big tree on the corner outside the Presbyterian church, but he sat there for years, being social. Some folks called him the mayor.  And Eddie was a particular favorite of the children who visited his grandfather’s front porch to purchase penny candy.

If you like offbeat and sweet, try Lars & the Real Girl.

 

 

MJ’s Musings-Thursday Thought: SEP-FIRST LADY

This month’s Susan Elizabeth Phillips book review is one of my top three favorite SEP books: FIRST LADY. My paper copy is in the process of disintegrating, which means  an e-copy is in my future.

Again, this story is not part of her Chicago Stars football series. It does introduce a character who becomes a heroine in her own book.. I’ve seen it classified as part of her Wynette, Texas series, but the connection doesn’t happen until a couple of books later, so I believe that’s a stretch.

This book manages to wring my emotions each time I read it. The major romance trope is on-the-road.  NEELY (Nell) is the widow of the assassinated president of the United States who was coerced into continuing the job after her husband’s death. She manages to escape the White House and goes “undercover,” where she runs into  MAT, a disillusioned and discredited journalist trying to find the big story in order to reclaim his career.  They each have secrets, although Neely’s are the major ones. Mat’s big internal conflict is family. The primary issue between them, however, is trust.

The book was published in 2000, which means one or two things have changed since then, but the gist of the story rings true.

There is no secondary romance in this story, which is unusual in an SEP book. The on-the-road aspect of the story doesn’t leave room for that kind of subplot. There are plenty of wonderful characters in the novel, though, and one of them–Lucy, who grows up to be the heroine of another SEP novel–will shred your heart.

If I were to give out stars on a 1 to 5 scale, FIRST LADY would receive five.

MJ Monday-Meals: Meatloaf and Roasted Butternut Squash

One of my favorite wintertime meals is meatloaf with roasted butternut squash. I’m very lucky in that my supermarket sells cut and peeled butternut squash. If they didn’t I’d probably never eat it.

Preheat oven to 375F

Add a package of the precut squash to a baking dish, along with a chopped red onion. Drizzle with seasoned basting oil (another goody from my supermarket).

Place the squash in the oven and begin assembling the meatloaf.

I have many meatloaf recipes. Lately, this is my go-to:

  • 1.5 pounds ground beef
  • 1 slice whole grain bread
  • minced garlic to taste
  • 1/4 cup Egg Beaters
  • 1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup Mix.

Mix well and pat into loaf pan.

Place meatloaf in oven next to squash. Set a timer for 40 minutes.

It’s dinner!

MJ’s Musings: An Observation on “Healthy” Food

Many of my friends and most of my extended family have dietary restrictions. One person recently made a “cookie” she shared. I would never hurt her feelings, and I understand completely why this cookie met her food requirements, but I did not want another one.

When I’m grocery shopping, there are frequently people pushing free samples at the customers. The most recent one was a cookie in the health food department. Or maybe it was a “power bar”.

All I know is I stopped eating sawdust when I was about 3. Yeah, we used it as a “cooking ingredient” when we played house when I was an older child. But we also cooked with mud, gravel, and milkweed pods. Oh, and there was that disastrous experiment trying to make the cat eat a combo of Snowy Bleach and Oxydol. But like the cat, we never actually put the stuff in our mouths. (OK, we smoked cattails behind the barn, but that was different.)

So why does so much modern, “healthy” food remind me of my extreme childhood, sawdust-eating days? Particularly the sawdust part?