Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Joys of Coming and Going at Will

You know that saying, the grass is always greener on the other side of the mountain, or over the septic tank or other place; well that is usually only a cliche. There are times when moving can’t be avoided and you will have to live with it. When you yearn to go to a place because it seems....., well, after you get there it could certainly be a downer.

I have been bellyaching about the city and wanting to move out to a saner, orderly, and perhaps even quieter locale but I would want all of the comforts and conveniences that I have now. I am not sure that they exist in the same way in other places but I am looking around. Being able to get where you want to go, when you want to go is truly priceless and is an obvious lure to this city.

I met a woman at the bus station last week-end waiting for the bus to Philadelphia. I arrived about half an hour before the scheduled departure and she was already on line. I struck up a conversation, complementing her on her dress. She was wearing a lovely green linen skirt set – avocado green, very nice. We then talked about this and that, to pass the time. As we talked, she remarked that she wants to settle down in New York City. She apparently commutes often to Philadelphia, shuttling between family members in the two cities. She didn’t mind the travel, but her desire to remain in NYC is fueled by her perceived loss of independence while in Philadelphia; the independence to come and go at will.

The word independence means governing or not requiring or relying on something or someone else; not subject to control by others, according to Merriam Webster Dictionary. When we use the word, the implication is varied and depending on when or what or who is involved in the conversation, it could mean or imply just freedom of movement, the ability to get from place to place by your self or by your own means. You may drive a vehicle, ride a bicycle, pay for mass transit, walk, run, but traveling as you desire or choose.

The mass transit system or public transportation system is not good in the area where she is staying, she said. She is therefore dependent on family members while in Philadelphia to get around. In NYC she has several modes of public transportation and easy access to them. She can come and go as she pleases and for a reasonable sum of money. This limitation to her movement or inability to go to the stores for example causes her some amount of stress and unhappiness. She otherwise enjoys the quiet, easy pace of life there but the lack of means to move around kills her interest to settle there, at least in the area that she knows.

I understood her plight thoroughly and had some flashbacks of my own encounters. I remember being in places where I had to rely on a set schedule to get out and back 'home.' I didn’t like the confinement and loss of freedom to move at will. This loss takes a toll on the psyche and creates a longing for places and times when access and freedom to move at will was/is the order of the day! So despite all of the issues and concerns and dislikes we have about living in this city, somethings are not negotiable. The joys of being able to come and going at will is priceless.

Independence: what does it mean to you?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Back to College Moving and Storage Made Easy


As I unwind from the college road trip to move-in for the '09-'10 year, I have some news to share. I think everyone should know about this and have the option to make the move-out/move-in experience less harrowing. Of course an elevator building also helps, but that is a bit more challenging. I have to give the biggest shout out to SMARTBOX Portable Storage!

Let me tell you, they are g-r-e-a-t! It is the smartest way to move and store your stuff. We used them for the first time at the end of last semester and it is well worth it. The process was so simple and reasonably priced. The staff is very pleasant and helpful. We placed the call to request the service, paid the fee and the box was delivered as arranged. The SMARTBOX came with all of the necessary packing tools and materials - boxes, tape, etc. We had more than enough supplies for the super duper load that my daughter managed to accumulate. The SMARTBOX itself was huge.

Just like the pick up, the drop off was a breeze. We called Dave and requested delivery, gave the location, (you know my pet peeve with the annual move) and when we arrived on campus, voila! the SMARTBOX was there and intact. Everything was there with minor shift of the stuff inside the container. What a joy! Nothing was broken, nothing was missing or damaged. SMARTBOX, you can count on my business any day. As their slogan goes; convenient, flexible and affordable. I can tell you they deliver. You order what you need and pay for what you use. Amen to that too!

So, I am very happy that we got this move under the belt and with such finesse and joy. I am not that happy about the bucks we spent at the malls, but I am happy that my daughter is set up nicely, and she is, and we made the round trip safely - although it was an escapade to get home, we made it back safely.

I have one more kid to get ready for college this year but luckily, the travel will be way less than this one, and I am hoping that the purchases will also be less. But as I said earlier, there is something funny about going back to school and the lure of those merchants.

I wish all you students good health, good friends, much success, peace and Gods grace in this New Year!

Thanks SMARTBOX, you're the best!

It's The Back to School Trip Day

So, sadly, it's that time of year again. The back to school trip time.

As the summer draws to a close it beckons a new beginning; not just the fall or Autumn but the beginning of a new school year. New school year's always occupy and engages the entire family. The merchants in that cottage industry are well pleased. I guess for us moms with college aged children especially, that is a blessing and a curse.

It is a blessing because we can easily find the stuff the kids want and the things you think they ought to have for your comfort sake. It is a curse because the shopping and collecting stuff breaks the bank every time. It seems that no matter how you prepare throughout the summer and plan to recycle etc, you still end up spending way more that you imagined or wanted to.

Sadly, this is an ongoing saga through out the school year but certainly not to the same degree as getting set up. Just expect to be shelling out the bucks for something else as the year goes by. But that being said, on move-in day, you will walk away feeling that your student is well prepared with all of the desired creature features and is ready to dig in to the program ahead.

This is the first year that the move-in day experience was a relative breeze on our brawn, but not the purse. Yay for the housing lottery system, it was merciful. A step or two got us onto the platform leading to the doorway of a building with an elevator! woohoooo!

We drove back home feeling really good for this stroke of luck. We were too thrilled that our muscles were so relaxed ater the exercise. We did not have to climb stairs or lift boxes up xxx number of flights of stairs. It was a lift on and off the hand trucks. It's amazing! I could do this again tomorrow with no problem, if I had to. Yay for the housing lottery this year. The dorm is lovely!

I guess it gets better with time. More details will follow on this trip.

How was your back to school trip this year?!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Creating a Mindset of Positive Attitude

I was away from home this weekend so I visited a local church for Sunday Service. This was my first time attending that church. It was a small congregation but a friendly, welcoming group. It was an interesting experience. I am sharing this story because of the connection to something I have been thinking about recently; Mindset.

The message for the service was changing mindset to create positive attitude.

You may know that I follow Breaking Mindset blog. I enjoy the posts and appreciate the insights there. The Title of the blog caught my attention and got me to think about how mindset affect or impact what we do or say. I have been very alert to issues or concerns of mindset lately as a result.

While I was in the bookstore last week shopping for the book The Third Chapter, I came across a book about mindset. Oh wow! Hmmm. I stopped and perused the book. I didn't buy it but I looked through it. Now, about a week later, I went to this little church, over 100 miles away and the sermon was on changing mindset! Naturally, I have to say something here.

The focus of the sermon was what else; how our mindset dictates our behavior and if left unchecked can be dangerous to self and others. The Minister reminded us that our frame of mind or mindset determines the thoughts and actions that we usually unleash on others. Some of these actions are evil, and can be damaging. The Minister continued that he has encountered people with negative mindset that lead to devastating behavior toward co-workers or neighbors. It is therefore something for us to pay attention to.

The take home message here was that everyone needs to make a concerted effort to change their mindset to make it a positive one. The Minister sent us out to remember that it is important to keep our eyes on our mindset and take the time to examine ourselves and make adjustments so that we maintain a positive attitude and behavior. This he says will make the world a better place.

What do you think? Is it our mindset that is negative or the circumstance of our environmental situation? Is there a difference between the two?
Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Team Work Makes the Hero

Yes We Can
The current buz word of the day is Yes we can. It was the political catch phrase of the recent presidential election. It was also a slogan for previous political campaigns. We made a big deal out of it during this campaign as if it were a novel idea or a new discovery. The issue or the point here is not on the yes we can, but on the celebrations of heroes. This rant is the result of reading TVChurch Blog recently. They had a post on the topic and it got me cheering. We have to remember that the WE should get some public acclaim because it is the essential ingredient that leads to the success.

The reality is this. Everything we do or accomplish is a result of yes WE can. Even if we are remotely connected, or connected from afar. The contribution or input of the manufacturer, the seamstress, dishwasher, typewriter/word processor, farmer, teacher, etc., is major in the final product. WE can do more than ME even when ME takes the credit more often than not, disregarding or not acknowledging the contribution of others in the success or production. WE that contribute to the final product - can and does make it happen even if the 'front guy/gal' is a single person. Believe it or not we all have limitations of some kind and is therefore dependent on or need the involvement or contribution of others or things.

You know the old saying, 'behind every successful man is a woman'; sadly it is the men who usually take the credit. But I guess we all know better. Let's take our heroes. Name your favorite hero. The behavior or the results will likely be the same. There is one person or individual in front as THE hero, the wise guy, the star! Yeah, they may take the biggest risk, put their name on something. I am here to tell you that they have a side kick, a crew, scientists, the look out man, the work horse, the finisher, proof reader, the writers etc. Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippin, Koby had Shaq or Shaq had Kobe. Johnny Carson had EdMcMahon, James Bond had Ms Moneypenny and the scientists. Need I go on? Afterall, the Lone Ranger had Tonto!

Ok, so we hear about Bonnie and Clyde, but that's different.

So yes WE can, is a social marketing theme but it is the way we achieve. It is important and necessary that WE share in the work and WE are acknowledged as part of the team. Our President not only says Yes We Can because it is a catchy phrase, for example, but because WE all need to work together to achieve the goals and the changes for prosperity. Remember another popular slogan; united we stand divided we fall.

Yes WE can! because the hero and the Lone Ranger is a vital part of the team with their supporters or side kick. Hooray for the side kicks, the credit goes to you too.

This time your acknowledgement is in the public eye!!
Thanks for all that you do so that we can celebrate our heroes.

19 Things a Woman Should Never Apologize For

As I stroll the blogosphere today, I visited Tips, Thoughts and More blog. I went through the Tips pages and the Thought pages and found some really good and important information or your health and wellbeing. Several of the posts really grabbed my attention.

I really liked the one below and I thought you guys would also appreciate it so here goes. Enjoy! Thanks, Tips, Thoughts and More for posting it.

19 Things Not to Apologize for

1. Never apologize for pursuing what makes you happy. Even if you need to quit your job, transfer schools, or move across country, always do what you really want.

2. Never apologize for crying. Wear waterproof mascara and express yourself

3. Never apologize for being successful. Only haters want to keep you at their level.

4. Never apologize for ten pounds you need to lose. People who truly care about you will accept you as you are.

5. Never apologize for wearing a weave or braids. You bought it so it's yours.

6. Never apologize for being frugal. Just because you save your money instead of blowing it on the latest fashion emergency doesn't mean you're cheap.

7. Never apologize for treating yourself to something special. Sometimes you have to show yourself some appreciation.

8. Never apologize for demanding respect. You are to always be treated as a queen.

9. Never apologize for leaving an abusive relationship. Your safety should always be a priority.

10. Never apologize for keeping the ring even if you did not get married.

11. Never apologize for setting high standards in a relationship. You know what you can tolerate and what simply gets on your nerves.

12. Never apologize for dating outside your race. Just because you found Mr. Right across the color line doesn't mean you don't love your brothas.

13. Never apologize to your new friends about old friends. There's a reason she's been your girl from day one.

14. Never apologize for ordering dessert or more than one dessert.

15. Don't apologize for being a single Mom. Babies are a blessing.

16. Never apologize for saying NO.

17. Never apologize for not knowing how to cook. Even if you can't burn like Grandma you know how to order good take out. (Right Girl!)

18. Never apologize for making more money than your man, you work hard and you deserve to get paid.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Versatile June Plum

The Plaza Chronicle - Mystery Fruit episode

Well, I have a treat for you. Today, for the first time I saw June Plums in the Plaza. Do you know what a June Plum is? Well, the proper name for it is ambarella spondias dulcis ambere. It is a Caribbean fruit and is found in Jamaica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and several other countries. Depending on who you ask or where they come from, Ambarella Spondias is called by different names. Jamaica, I was told is the only country that calls it June Plum. In Trinidad for example it is called Pommecythere, in Barbados it is Golden Apple and there are still other names in other countries.

Like the other fruits I wrote about in The Plaza Chronicles, the June Plum is very versatile and nutritious. It boasts vitamin C, potassium and Iron. It is also said to have medicinal value for treating high blood pressure, diabetes, heart conditions and urinary troubles. The fruit is sweet when ripen to a golden yellow color. The unripened fruit can also be eaten but they are mainly used in a variety of cooked dishes.

The leaves of the June Plum tree is also edible and is commonly eaten in South East Asia.
I bought 4 June plums; two yellow, a second partially yellow and the other one green skinned. I washed the yellow June Plum first and worked my way to the others. It was very firm. I peeled very close to the skin because it is a small fruit, I didn't want to waste too much.

It has a very light yellowish to white tinge flesh. You can't cut through it because it has a prickly core. The spikes or pricks, I am not sure what to call them, comes about half way through the flesh of the plum. It has a very lovely smell, very inviting. I was able to bite into the plum, and got close to the spikes but they were soft. I understand that the pricks can be hard and could cause some damage to your gums. The plum was sweet with a potato like texture.

I ate all around to get the flesh off. Out of curiosity, I bit into the core, very gingerly, no harm done. In fact I was able to get some more flesh from within it. I quite enjoyed the June Plum. Not bad at all. It could become a favorite. but I am not so sure that they are plentiful or available in these parts. I peeled the slightly yellow one and went through the same steps. It was more tart or acidic than the very yellow one but still good. The very green one was really tart. They needed some salt or sugar to go down. I guess those are indeed best for cooking

The green plums are used for salsa, salads, chutney, pickled, Jellies, drinks and other recipes.

I guess I could buy the prepared ones to enjoy when I want.

This has really been a very eventful and educational summer strolling through The Plaza. Let's see what's next to discover!

Please share your thoughts and experiences with June Plums with us. If you havent tried them, go out and get some!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Confessional Moments that Transform Your Life

Bill Moyers Journal
Well here is an interesting piece for those of you who have been pondering ,"who am I" and "what's next for me" or some similiar question. This is targeted to the middle aged or 50 something group. I think, from what I heard, and hope to learn from reading the book, there will be some strategies that could be useful for all age groups.

I was channel surfing the other night, as I often do, and came across this piece. I happened upon Bill Moyer's Journal on PBS and got stuck for the segment. Bill Moyer's Journal is a weekly show on PBS. He stated that the show this week was a special show for the PBS annual fundraiser period. I hope you will consider contributing to your local PBS station.

Anyway this is the story and why it got my attention. The Third Chapter by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot is a book about the mid-stage of life and how people prepare and go through the period. The book includes reports from 40 interviews of people in what she referred to as the penultimate stage of their lives. During this stage, adults contemplate their value, worth or future through what she termed confessional moments. The Third Chapter provides insights from the interviewees on their transformative process and the wisdom they discover and beauty that comes with aging.

The discussion on the Journal centered around some of the people interviewed for the book and their confessional moments. We heard about some of their adventures and passion and introspection that revealed their resourcefulness and capacity to innovate leading them to more fulilled lives and satisfying new careers. We also got an insight into Lawrence-Lightfoot's family and works.

At the end of the segment I got up, walked over to the computer and hit B&N to find the book. They had it. I read the reviews that they listed on the website, they weren't great, but I thought that I would still get the book as I am sorta, kinda trying to figure some things out. So based on the interview with the author, I think I can learn a thing or two. I usually buy from Barnes and Noble on line but I didn't want to wait for the delivery so I check for the nearest store. I went there yesterday to get the book. I will give my two cents about the book later.

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot has several books to her credit and is a very interesting and important person in education and sociology. I enjoyed listening to her and learning about her. Please check out the story on Bill Moyers Journal. I think you will enjoy it too.

Have you read this book, The Third Chapter yet?

What are your thoughts on the book and the topic?
Please share your comments with us.

Thanks Bill, thanks PBS for bringing us such important programming.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Blog Feeds, Design and Layout - Technical difficulties

Right now I am feeling very frustrated and miserable with blog design and layout issues.

Why? Why you ask?! I am glad you ask! This blog thing is giving me grey hairs and ingrown toe nails. You know, grief! But thank God for angels like Vin at BetaBlogger 4 Dummies I have been so pre-occupied with getting the errors corrected, I haven't been able to add new posts. I have been plagued with blog feeds, design and layout technical difficulties.

You know that I have been thinking about and trying to spruce up the ole blog for some time now. It's been the very basic newbie style since I uploaded it. I have been planning to do something with it to make it more appealing and up to par with some of the fabulous pages I've visited and to frankly get it to look more representative. Starting the blog was so easy, I thought I had it figured. Huh, rude awakening!!!

Some folks certainly have the knack, patience and skill on this thing. Some others with the means pay to get what they want, and still others like me, struggle with the DIY system because....! This DIY system has gotten the best of me right now. I must admit that the appearance is not half bad but not where I want it. I have done a few things to it thus far thanks to the help and resources of some of the industry's wizards and gurus. I am learning and you know what?

I think I will pay my experience forward so that others new to the blogosphere and find it a bit challenging and is on the DIY plan, can have a better experience. I will put some handy, helpful tips in one place for them to use. I just have to get this thing the way I want it first. Then I have something to talk about.

I must give a huge shout out to Vin of the Blog Doctor aka Betablogger 4 Dummies for helping me to clean up some of the issues. He is truly a gem. Check out their website it has help for all sorts of issues AND he responds to the emails, promptly. The site is not just searching and help yourself postings of help topics and issues. You can search and ask questions and get an email response.
Wow I tell you, he's been great and wonderful and I am making real progress. Stay with me Vin, I am getting there!

Now if I can just figure out the codes and how to make the main page of the blog wider and how to link pages across the top, like home, about me, xxxxxx etc I'd be good.

All you pro-bloggers and experts out there I welcome and appreciate your help too.
Thanks for keeping me in the game.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Ripe Plantains as Side Dish

Have you ever wondered how accurate the nutritional values that are given for foods are? How about produce; fruits, vegetables,etc? This thought crossed my mind today, well it does on and off but today it sort of stuck with me. I think it's because I am trying to monitor my caloric intake. Yeah, yeah, I am trying to do a diet; monitor what I eat, cut down on the carbs, proteins, etc., etc. I know that I not only eat too much, I eat too much of the high calorie foods and of course I don't burn up enough of it on a regular so it becomes a problem. I know the deal! I am making a conscious effort to change this pattern, again.

Anyway this is the thing. I got a good deal on green plaintains the other day so I bought them. I figured we'd use them over time and then some will become ripe and that will be a change. Well, I didn't cook any of them yet and now they are all ripe. Umm hmm, ripe plantains.
No problem ! I'll just made them as the sides dish for dinner or whatever meal for the family over the next few days. But because I am trying this caloric management thing, I wanted to know how the plantains stocked up nutritionally so I'll have a nice balance.

Well, I went on the hunt for information. Most of what I found, is not the same measure, but they are all close or similiar, which really kept the question live in my mind.

The good thing is that you could get nutritional information by cup, slices or mashed. I was all about slicing them so this is good. There were some values that was based on size; medium, for example. I find that tricky because it is not that easy to decide on a medium plantain. Like many produce items, determining the size is real tricky and could be miles off in terms of accurate measure.

In any case I was happy to find out that there are many desired nutrients in plantains and the amount of calories they have. So now I know that we can't have a full side dish of plantain every day for the next week if I am going to be true to my plan but I can enjoy them. I guess the rest of the gang will enjoy more of it at each serving since they have a more sensible eating habit and active lifestyle. I guess I will have to reduce the number of slices, one or two less pieces, than what is reported just to be within my plan since each of the report I saw is a little different.

For the value in terms of cost, of this bunch I got, and in terms of the nutritional value it is a good deal, try some! There are mmany tasty recipes for both ripe and green plantains for you to try!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Snapshot of The Plaza

The Plaza Chronicles

I finally remembered to take the camera with me AND actually took some pictures of The Plaza, in the Plaza. Of course, as I told you, this is a very busy spot and especially this time of the day, 12-3pm. This day was no different, people are every where, coming and going. I am not so happy though, because this isn't a very big fruit supply day. My favorite spot isn't as stocked as it usual is but still has a good supply. In any case there are no less that 4 fruit spots in The Plaza and they carry pretty much the same things.

In addition to the fruit vendors there are vendors with a variety of products, dolls, belts, jewellery, luggage, clothes, shoes and other novelty items like magnets for the refrigerators.

I tried to get some photos without people as I didn't want to have to get permission to use their images, not that they would agree, and I didn't have time to work at it. In fact, I was getting all kinds of stares and quizzical looks came my way like "what the hell....?!" and so I got limited shots, and where I couldn't, I 'took out' the people. So here are a few shots of The Plaza as I walk through for the Plaza Chronicles.

This is a long shot of the plaza. The vendors are lines up under these fixtures. Early morning and late evenings they stand empty and almost desolate. But you have a feel of the energy and hustling that goes on during the day.

The seating area by the restaurants or food counters.

Of course you will see my favorite lunch spot and where I sit to eat my lunch. I bring my lunch with me. There is also a shot of the spot I move to if I have to leave prematurely. The food spots are in this area as well. These are small food counters with grills where you can have breakfast items to soups, salads to chicken, fish, hamburgers, tacos, etc, a pretty wide selection.

The spot!!
Ahhhhhh, The Lunch Spot. This is my favorite seating area. I share this spot with folks who buy their lunch from the kiosk. They have a variety of items from hot dogs to enchiladas! You can also buy a container of fruits, ready to eat here. You can see the tree canopy and a bus at the bus stop on the other side of The Plaza.

This is the super fruit kiosk. This is a very 'lean' day for this site, nonetheless, many fruits available. You can see a supply of mangoes, but he has apples, plums, cherries, strawberries, grapes. wow! It holds a wallop.

This is a side view of the super fruit stand. This is the area of my 2nd Lunch seating. I have to leave my fave spot prematurely or if I feel like hanging out in The Plaza for a little while longer. This is a really nice shaded area to sit. Folks would sit here to wait for the bus or eat the fruit bowl or other item that they've purchased from the nearby food counter.

A large fruit area 'created' recently.
This is one area of fruits. This section was created recently. You will notice that there is no cart or kiosk here. A nice variety of fruits is usually available. There is also the occasional vegetables as well at this spot. Interestingly enough, I found the Cactus Plum here.

A sampling of some of the non-food vendors.

Toys and games.

This area is partially empty but you can see toys and games for kids.
Something for everyone in The Plaza!

I hope you enjoyed the snapshots of The Plaza. It is a very interesting and busy place for shopping, sampling a variety of foods, enjoying the weather and people or to just sit and reflect amid the hustle and bustle.

I like it and so I chronicle these days in The Plaza.

Please share your thoughts of The Plaza with me!