Vegetables our way.

Okay.  Call me stubborn.  Old-fashioned.  Caught in a rut. But excuse me.

Aren’t certain rights guaranteed to us as human beings?  Aren’t we free to decide how much is enough and what is worth keeping?

When did the way we choose to cook vegetables become something we have no say over?

It’s bad enough we become used to something and suddenly it’s gone, with no warning.  Or we expect to find a certain size or flavor of something on the shelf and the next time we enter the store, it’s not there.  Or it’s new and “improved”, or the size is different which just means there are now 4 potato chips in the economy size instead of the prior 24.

But the price is the same.

(And you can’t get the package open without a flame thrower and wrench.)

Now, there’s more. Now, you can’t go to the store and buy a package of frozen vegetables and choose for yourself if you want to boil, steam, or microwave them…and you can’t cook just a part of the package.  Because some bored food technician decided that we must be sold a one-size package that must be microwaved all at once.

Excuse me?  

Seriously.  What’s up with this?  A relative told me he thinks It’s because the millenials  don’t know how to cook—or don’t want to.  I hate to believe that.  I know some very capable young cooks.  And I know for many cooks, the idea of buying frozen vegetables instead of fresh is a crime.  Yet research has suggested the nutritional value is about the same (depending upon how it’s prepared.)

But that’s not the point.  The point is … are you freaking kidding me?  Is this 1984 x 2000 and I will be told what I must do—and cannot do—in my kitchen?

It’s a small thing I suppose. Yet it just feels more and more like there’s one big conglomerate out there and they are in control of what we eat, what we watch, and how we think.  We’ve all accepted we buy hot dogs and buns in different quantities. We ignore the “best sold by” dates and consume things in the back of our refrigerators that appear to be edible.  We mutter incoherently as the grocery bagger puts the eggs below the watermelon and hands us the bag.  We bravely decide we’re going to eat eggs/bacon/lard regardless of what the latest government survey says will happen to us if we do.

But I can’t find a regular package of frozen spinach???

If my mother were alive, she would be at the manager’s counter with that look on her face.  And he’d be regretting he didn’t take the day off.  She always insisted on double-bagging.  And she often located the butcher, who might be hiding in the back, so she could get the cut of meat she was looking for.  After all, she was buying food for her family, and it mattered.

Maybe no one cooks anymore…except me and most of my friends.  Maybe we’re the exception.  But I know this:  we probably eat healthier meals than those who don’t.  And I’ll bet we enjoy them more.  And by golly, we should have the freedom to make them any way we choose.

And if this really is a “generational” thing, then consider this:  baby boomers spend the most across all product categories. That includes groceries.  Maybe it’s time we caused a ruckus.

Clean-up on aisle 7? 

You ain’t seen nothing yet.


“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.”

Julia Child






Good News is Hard to Find.

Have you seen “The Post”?  If not, please go as soon as you can.  Encourage everyone you know to go.  Find younger people and tell them they must go or they will be audited by the IRS.  (It might work.)

Why is this movie so important?

Because nothing is more important than the truth, and nothing has come under more attack in the last year.  The passion and convictions of those who dedicate their lives to journalism are vital to our freedom.  Freedom of the press has been a fundamental pillar of the American society since its very beginning.  The founding fathers knew it.  The framers of the Constitution made sure it was included.  Men and women have died over our rights to know what is really going on in our government.

It is in our DNA.  It is who we are.  And anyone—ANYONE—who does not understand this has no business holding public office.

But alas, many people chose reality TV instead, and that’s a mess that will take a few elections to clean up.

Meanwhile, consider the late Ben Bradlee,  a great journalist and former executive editor of The Washington Post.  He’s a central figure in The Post, which revolves around the publishing of The Pentagon Papers, when our government was lying to us about The Vietnam War.  He also was a central figure in the Watergate scandal, when our government was lying to us about just about everything.  I can only imagine what he would say if he were alive today.


Or Edward R. Murrow of CBS, who had the courage and stamina to continue to shine the light on Joseph McCarthy and his bag of lies…lies which destroyed the careers and lives of so many innocent people.  People who actually had read the Constitution.

Imagine them today, having to read and hear what spews from the government…having to be insulted on a regular basis…having their questions dismissed or answered with a sneer…it staggers the mind.

I’m a baby boomer and I studied journalism in college, from at least a few teachers who were former newspapermen. They took a no-nonsense approach to the sacred nature of news. The tenets of journalism. (Yes, there really are tenets of journalism, though these days entire networks seem unaware of this.) My teachers taught us how to ask questions, write a news story, edit wire copy, and lay out pages. It was hard, but it was also rewarding and even fun (at least to me) because you got the sense of how important it was to get the facts—and the story—right.

You understood that if you worked in journalism, you had an obligation to the truth, to the audience, and to the greats who had gone before you.

We did all this on typewriters (non-correcting typewriters). One of my professors enjoyed giving us all the details of a story and then leaving the room, giving us about 15 minutes to write it. Then, just as the class was almost over, he would reappear and update the facts by changing a major detail, which of course meant you ripped the paper out of the typewriter and started rewriting as fast as you could to beat the bell. Many grumbled; some just dropped the class. I loved it. He knew what he was doing. Another professor would read my story and if it didn’t measure up to his standards, he’d rip it down the middle and hand it back to me, without a word.  I learned how to write better first drafts.


I think of the Mary Tyler Moore episode when Mary and Rhoda have been sitting up late updating the station’s obituaries. They get punchy and write a funny obit for a local citizen who is over 100. Unfortunately, the next day that person actually dies and their fake obit is read on the air. Mary is horrified, and crushed when her boss Lou suspends her. He says simply, “Mary, the news is sacred.”

I agree. It’s why it’s hard for me to watch what is happening these days.  Or see how social media posts a half-truth which is repeated so often that it starts being quoted as a news story.

Whatever happened to three sources on a story before publication?

And frankly, whatever happened to questioning things…taking a moment to realize something doesn’t smell right with what you just read on Twitter or Facebook…actually reading more than one news source to get the information…and recognizing the difference between an article and an editorial?

I have to believe there are enough people out there who value the truth, and who can recognize it.  Remember, everyone thought the emperor looked great in his new clothes.  Except for one honest boy.

And he saw the naked truth.


“You never monkey with the truth.”

Ben Bradlee

Mindful, creative living.

There’s a lot of talk about being more mindful these days.

Such as, instead of just going through the motions of a familiar task, we become truly present in that moment, making sure we are doing what we need to, and not misplacing our keys or leaving the refrigerator door open or trying to remember why we entered a room.

Easier said than done it seems, at least for many of us.  There’s just so many things to deal with…even as you age.  You’d think it might get easier, but at least in my experience, it hasn’t.

Harvard social psychology professor Dr. Ellen Langer has written several books on the subject of mindfulness.  Known as the “mother of mindfulness” over her 35+ year career, she has also touched on how tapping into the creative part of ourselves can greatly enhance our ability to be mindful in the moment.

This can be any moment.  Taking a walk. Bathing a grandchild.  Preparing breakfast.  Doing your taxes. Anything that calls for our attention…and our creativity.

In her wonderful book “On Becoming an Artist,” she explores how anyone—truly anyone—can be an artist.  We all have creativity within us, and if we have the courage to get past the fear of someone laughing or being critical of what we create (and often that person is ourselves), we can discover a freedom and joy we’ve never experienced.

Some of her words from “On Becoming An Artist”:

“I believe that our natural, mindful creativity should be the way we experience most, if not all, of our days.  By engaging in some new activity—whether it is art, music, sports, gardening, or cooking—on an ongoing basis, we can being to experience what it is like to be more mindful.  Most of the time mindlessness comes by default, not by design, and when we are mindless we’re oblivious to being so.  We need to find a way to cue us into our mindlessness. We need a bell that will sound for us, signaling that we are acting mindlessly. When we let ourselves fully engage a new task and see how exciting it feels, as soon as we feel otherwise the bell should sound.  If we remove the roadblocks, we can begin to engage ourselves, again.”

Now if you are already saying, “I’m no artist”, Dr. Langer is very persuasive in her belief that you really are—you just haven’t let it come out.  Fear most likely has blocked you, or at some time many years ago, a misguided teacher or supervisor chided you for your attempts.

It may feel scary, but you must quiet those voices and do it anyway.

As she says in her book, “Can you draw a reasonably straight line?  A curved line?  A thick bold line or curve?  A think line or curve?  Can you recognize different colors?  If so, all that is left to be able to draw or paint is to learn how to see.  To play an instrument, all you need to learn is to hear.  It is that simple.”

And I will add, it can be that much fun.  I know in the past few years I”ve left myself get past the “I can’t do this” mindset to just playing with pastel painting.  Sure, most of it I wouldn’t hang in my house.  But I did frame a few of my attempts, not so much because I think they’re exceptional, but because it was fun to do, I surprised myself, and they represent my being okay with my creativity.

Throughout her book, Dr. Langer explores some of the roadblocks that keep us from discovering our creativity, and embracing mindfulness.  Things like social comparison, evaluation, making choices, and how we must individualize our experiences. How we stroll through a museum and just assume that the breathtaking works of art we see just “happened”…that because Rembrandt or Michelangelo or Renoir had so much inborn talent, they didn’t really struggle like we would.  And that “everyone” agrees their work is awesome while whatever we do is frivolous.

Yet if you study these artists, you learn differently.  They worried. They studied. They failed.  But most likely, when they achieved their masterpieces, it was due to truly being mindful…putting all else our of their heads for a period of time and just being present.

Imagine the freedom!

Even if you’re not interested in developing your artistic side, mindfulness could be a wonderful exercise for other parts of your life.  As Dr. Langer says on her online site:

“The simple process of noticing new things is the key to being there. When we notice new things we come to see the world with the excitement of seeing and experiencing it for the first time, but with the comfort that of our previous life experiences brings to the activity.”

Dr. Langer is definitely a boomer who is rocking the wrinkle!

Maybe give it a try….today….take a regular task and really be present in it.  Feel yourself relax into it, breathe a bit more evenly, take care of it and then move on.

And maybe later, notice how the sun sparkles on the snow, or the bird that just landed on the windowsill.  Pick up pencil and sketch it, just for a minute.  Or write a few lines for a poem.  Or take a photograph.

You might like it.


“Where we are is where we’ve never been.”

Dr. Ellen Langer










How will today change you?

Life is busy.  Life is difficult (as Scott Peck reminded us.)

Life is unpredictable. Life is filled with too many lists.

Too many emails.

Too many distractions.

Too many thefts of our time, our minds, our need to actually live the moment. Weeks fly by and we can’t remember what we did. Yesterday goes by in a flash and we aren’t even sure what we had for lunch.mac-glasses

Yet I’m sure in every 24-hour period, there are countless opportunities when we can think of another person. Be kind to a stranger. Refrain from scowling at a bad driver. Actually notice how the sun is reflecting off a flower petal.

Remember that we are alive, we are fragile, and we want every second to count. Especially as we grow older…we boomers and beyond understand how rich life can be if we are present.

Quaker poet Jeanne Lohmann invites us to pause and just be alive in her wonderful poem, “Questions Before Dark”:


“Questions Before Dark”

“Day ends, and before sleep
when the sky dies down,

consider your altered state: 

has this day changed you?  

Are the corners sharper or rounded off? 

 Did you live with death?  

Make decisions that quieted?  

Find one clear word that fit? 

 At the sun’s midpoint did you notice a pitch of absence,
bewilderment that invites the possible? 

 What did you learn from things you dropped

 and picked up and dropped again? 

Did you set a straw parallel to the river, 

let the flow carry you downstream?”

Jeanne Lohmann

So many good things here. We do, especially as boomers and beyond, live with death. Our friends, our families, our own mortality. But I don’t see this as a depressing thing; more as a call to life.

photo - Version 2Especially when she quickly brings up the idea of “bewilderment”.

To me, that’s a wonderful way to describe the natural world around us. So many miracles. Yet unless we make a conscious effort to see them, we walk right past them.

I love the idea of contemplating how each day changes us. As Buddha said, we never enter the same river twice. And there’s a lot to be said for occasionally noting where we are on our journey.


“Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.”

            Parker Palmer

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