Everyone has a sick person to take care of at some time – even if it’s themselves. This is a quick, digestible little recipe that only takes 15 or 20 minutes to prepare. It’s great for a sudden hunger pang or when you have less time to make a meal. Included are the recipe and tips for mealtimes for the sick folk in your care. Continue reading
Category Archives: Lagniappe (Little Extras)
The dangers of genealogy websites, or, Where did our privacy go?
This is a step outside my usual post, but I’m concerned. I took a recent tour through a genealogy website looking for an ancestor’s birthplace. It wasn’t there. Mine was. My birth certificate was there. So was my grave. Funny – I don’t feel dead. Then I got even more curious. It turned out you could even get my criminal record for just $4.95. Whoever fell for that one was robbed – I have no criminal record. Well, unless you count that one little teeny speeding ticket…. Then I found my address, the description of my house, the square footage, what it is worth (in case someone wants to know if it’s worth robbing or not, I suppose), and then, for the clincher – a picture of the house taken a few years back after its surgery for a broken water pipe. If I ever have trouble with my memory, I can just look myself up on the internet.
Remember those questions you can choose to ask yourself if you forget your password for the bank? Well, don’t use your mother’s maiden name – that’s on those genealogy websites. Often you will find enough there to reconstruct a large portion of your life. If someone knows your name and has a general idea of where you were born, those sites are an information gold mine. The authors at The Catholic Gene have pointed out that the Catholic Church no longer cooperates with Latter Day Saint information-gathering that would enhance these sites, but it did give out some information until 2008.
Lindsay Ferrier writes in Suburban Turmoil of her attempts to remove her information from various sites. She was apparently successful, but if you read the comments, the information often just pops right back up. It worries me that no one has sounded the alarm about genealogy sites. Most of them ask you to type in the name of your dead ancestor, but if you are up to no good, I can’t see that stopping you. Putting a thief on his honor is a worthless tactic.
One strange thing about these genealogy sites is that the information they contain is often just plain wrong. There are inaccuracies galore. According to one, I share a home with four people I’ve never heard of. One of my great-aunts was called by her nickname, and that is what is on her headstone. I wonder if anyone outside the immediate family realizes that her real name is unknown to those sites. Future genealogists may add an extra person to the family if they run across her true given name.
Findagrave publishes photos of graves with short biographies and an opportunity to leave a virtual flower and note. This is really a lovely idea. Volunteers take a cemetery and photograph all the graves and record the inscriptions. But if someone up to no good knows your mother’s last name, they may very well find out her birth and death dates complete with links to her husband and children, her parents, siblings, etc., etc. This is really a nice website for remembering our loved ones, but information thieves are just too prevalent. Perhaps we should edit the information we provide. This site provides a way to contact the person managing the particular grave information, so you do have an opportunity to ask that certain things be removed.
I ask everyone to check out what they can find on themselves and their families just on genealogy sites. You may be surprised. I refuse to pay any money to find out more than what is available free simply because I don’t want to add to their stash of info by giving them my credit card number.
This may be information everyone already knows. But it bears repeating. We worry about the National Security Agency, identity theft rings, and overseas hackers, but I wonder how many of us realize the dangers in sites that claim to aid in such a seemingly innocent pastime as building a family tree. If you figure out what we can do about it, please let me know.
Good luck – I hope you don’t find a thing!
Hemingway versus the spider – Writing 101, Day 17
The pretty little waitress told him it was there in the bar. A big one. Black. Maybe the hourglass. A black widow.
He hitched up his pants. “I’ll take care of it.” He put his Jose Cuervo down with a solid thud.
“You want a flyswatter?” She looked all woman in that little short dress and tiny apron. It had a ruffle around it. “Drink Up” was the name of the bar. It was stenciled on the back of her shirt.
“I don’t need a flyswatter.” He stood up. “Where is it?”
“Under the last table, in the corner back there.” She pointed. She needed a manicure.
He wondered how he would do it. Just stomp on it? What if it jumped? But it probably wouldn’t.
The corner table was like all the others. Sticky with the remains of the croissant someone had brought over from the bakery next door. He almost turned away. No real man ate croissants. He leaned over and looked under the table. Nothing.
“You sure it was here?”
Her face was pale. “I know it was. I saw it.”
“Where exactly?” He pulled out a chair to get a better look.
“Right about where you’re looking.”
“I don’t see it.”
He wasn’t about to admit he needed glasses. He squinted. “How big did you say?”
“Couple of inches.”
“Would that be including the legs?”
“Yeah. Including the legs.”
He still didn’t see anything. She was probably pulling the helpless female thing to get his attention. It had happened before. During the war. Back in Paris….
“Are you going to just look?” she asked. Exasperation edged her voice.
“Reconnaissance is a big part of any battle. General Patton -”
She jumped back. A trembling finger pointed. That chipped polish again.
He grimaced. “Now what?”
“It’s there, right there.”
“RIGHT BY YOUR FOOT!”
He jumped. It wasn’t because of the spider. She had the voice of a trumpeting water buffalo.
“Dang, woman – I’m not deaf.” He stared all around his feet. Nothing.
A little man came out of the kitchen. A thin man. Small, insignificant. A white towel was tucked into his pants front like a surrender flag. A man who’d obviously never seen action. Probably ate croissants. He stared at them. “What’s going on?”
“It’s a black widow. Right there by his foot,” the girl said. She backed up. Now she was behind the little man with the towel around his waist.
“That could be a Steatoda grossa,” the little man said.
“A what?” He wished this clown would just go back in his kitchen and cut himself on the can opener.
“A false black widow. They can look black in some light, but -”
She shrieked. “It’s going up his pants leg!”
“What!” He jumped and fanned his hand at the general area she was pointing to. Now he was actually feeling something. A crawling sensation. It was there. It looked black to him. He could just make it out, advancing upward. Shiny. Stealthy. Brave. Coming in for the kill.
“Get this thing off of me!” he screamed.
The little man twitched the towel from his belt and snapped it at the spider.
They fell together, man and arachnid.
She knelt beside him. His head was now cradled in her arms. She patted his cheeks. “He’s fainted.”
The small man picked up the limp spider with a swizzle stick. “No, it was the real thing. Black widow. I’ll put it down the disposal.”
The girl looked down into his face. He was beginning to come to. “You okay?”
“Is it – ” he asked.
“Dead and gone. It’s okay now.” She was watching the color come back into his face. “Can you get up now?”
“Sure.” He managed to get up, trying hard not to let her see that he was hanging on to the table. She clung to his arm, just in case.
“It was a flashback. Anzio. I was there again. Back on the beach. It happens to a lot of us.” He settled hard into a chair. He wondered exactly where Anzio was.
The little man came back from the kitchen with a hot croissant and set it in front of him. “On the house. I got it from next door. You want something on it?”
“Got any strawberry jam?”
He couldn’t help it. He loved croissants.
Mother’s Microwave Peach Jam
This doesn’t last as long as regular preserves, but it will probably be eaten quickly! I like to use sterilized jelly jars just on general principles. Be sure to label them for use within two weeks. If you have good peaches, you can leave out all the spices.
2 cups peeled cubed, sliced or chopped peaches (It usually takes me about 5 peaches)
3 tablespoons cane sugar (you may want to add more, depending on your peaches and your personal taste)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
A pinch of salt (if you want it)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
First, get a microwave-proof quart bowl and combine the peeled and chopped peaches, sugar, cornstarch, ginger, allspice, and salt (if you’re going to use it). You want the peaches to come up no more than about a third of the way in the bowl. Microwave on high for 3 minutes without a cover. Keep an eye on it so you’ll know how your microwave cooks this recipe. You’ll be more comfortable knowing whether it might start to boil over or not.
Next, stir it well and give it another 3 or 4 minutes or until it starts to thicken. Remove it from the microwave and use a potato masher or a fork to break up any large pieces. Stir until it is the right consistency for spreading.
Add the lemon juice, stir, and set it aside until it is cooled a bit. At this point cover it and put it in the refrigerator until it thickens. It is best to leave it in overnight or at least for several hours. You can also put it in individual little jelly jars. Label so folks will know it must be used within two weeks.
This recipe gets better as you make it. You get to know just how long to cook it to your taste and just what spices you want (I sometimes use a pinch of ground cloves). Each batch will be better as you experiment.
If you find you enjoy making this recipe, just substitute whatever fruit is in season and change the spices accordingly.