About This Journal

Hello and welcome to my Blog on LIVEJOURNAL.COM. This is the place I hang out at the most and comment on the most. I've been on Livejournal since 1999, but this journal is one I've had since 2001.

If you have a Livejournal account you can friend me, you can also watch my journal, and anyone can RSS feed my entries. If you do not have an account you cannot read private posts, but you can get an account for free by simply signing up.

You can post a comment even without being a Livejournal member. You can login with multiple identity accounts, such as Facebook, and reply to my entries. I cover a lot of ground here, from movies, to TV, to personal, to wine, to social commentary, and more. I am not a one trick pony, not at all.

So, welcome to my Blog and enjoy!


We do what we can

That is basically it: We do what we can.

We either do it, try to do it, fail to do it, or refuse to do it - because we just can't manage it for whatever reason. We do what we can.

I do what I can to become healthier. I know I will never again be healthy-healthy, but I can probably manage some form of better health. I eat right most of the time, exercise when I am able, try my best not to get hypnotized by the computer or Netflix and binge those things from dawn until... umm... the next dawn. I manage to do that most of the time. Not always, though. *wink*

We do what we can. We should not feel bad for not being able to do some things on some days, or feel bad even about refusing to do some things that could and probably will damage us in some way, physically or mentally. For example, if someone needs help moving a couch you can refuse that for many reasons. Or if that certain family member, the toxic one who drives your anxiety and blood pressure to absurd levels, asks you for financial help or a ride to an appointment or procedure, you can say NO and not be a bad person. That is no easy task when it comes to family. It did take me a long while to be able to do that and not feel bad, or get nudged or bugged into doing it anyway. Eventually, thankfully for me, that one straw did fall in the right place on the poor damaged camels back and... well, you know how the saying goes.

We do what we can. If we can move mountains, we move them, unless we are some lazy SOB who can't be bothered because we are too busy fingering the hole in the back, digging around for loose stool. Most of us try our best to do things when we can do them. Sometimes that is an eventual thing we do, because we eventually got around to doing it. But! We did do it. Eventually. *smiles*

The thing is, you have to proactive, if not always productive. Not everything works out or comes together just right, but the effort needs to be there. You need to do your due diligence and find solutions, or even partial solutions, ones that do not fix it, but mend it, kind of like duct taping the thing so it will work better. It probably won't last forever, so you will need to find a different solution. Eventually.

I might not always be able to fix or mend or duct tape my issues and problems today, but being proactive, I can probably manage to finish it tomorrow, or at least be on the road to it tomorrow. And I might not be able to fix it totally, completely, or even eventually, yet I'll be much farther down the road than I would be if I didn't at least try. I'll have covered more miles, you see. Lasted longer. Lived longer. Saw more things, learned more things, and lived more things. That is how I treat my health and mental well-being. I do what I can... to get farther along the road that is life.

Sure, one day I will come face to face with a road block that I won't be able to jump over, but that too is fine. I'll just adjust, adapt, and take off down a smaller side road to some destination unknown. I'll be proactive for a long as I am active. I will live for as long as I can live, as well as I can live, and get someplace down the road where I can see something on the horizon that I won't feel the need to get to. That's where I will stop. But that is a long way off.

I do what I can, as I can, and for as long as I can. I am sure, and I do hope, that every single one of you does that too.

Everyone, that is, except those of you with that one dirty finger. ;P


Go Paperless! Save the Planet! (NOT)

Ok. Every single one of you who changed your various contracts for services to "go paperless" ... turn that off and go back to paper billing. Get the bill and the statements in the mail. Until these companies actually give you a discounted rate for going paperless, don't go. THEY are saving money, not you, but also are costing the postal service money and jobs, and paper producers and other industries as well.

You are NOT "saving the planet" by going paperless. What you are doing is putting people out of work and stuffing more money into the pockets of top executives who are laughing behind your back because you are so simple-minded and easy to lead.

Ever hear of recycling? Hmm?

Go back to paper... sheep. ;P


Life and times and age and a wonky leg

3 days awake. Little more than a hour or two drowsing each day. Sitting up I want to go to bed, but going to bed I am wide awake. It is some form of psychophysiological insomnia, probably. I finally did manage to get 7 hours of solid sleep this afternoon, though. I took a pill, shut off all the phone ringers, and escaped to a needful sleep. But...

I woke up to find 14 voicemails. My father had lost his car keys at the movie theater and was stranded. He had been calling me for hours. He didn't think to call someone else to bring him home before the apartment complex office closed so they could let him into the apartment. He could have banged on my window too. Etc., Etc., Etc., and blah blah blah, of what he could and should have done. He did get to see a second movie for free, courtesy of the movie theater staff.

He is 84 so I must give him a slight pass on logical thinking. *winks*

So! I woke up, heard the messages, called him, ran out the door to go take him another set of car keys. He is lucky I could come at all because my car battery was down this morning. It took some hours to get that fixed. But I did go and I fought the traffic, my stress level high, grumbling under my breath. I arrived, handed him the keys, looked under and inside his car and trunk, and then came home. I was once again exhausted. It was if I had not slept at all. Still am, in fact.

By the by, I don't want or need advice from absentee family members on how I should have been awake, how I should have been prepared for this kind of thing, or should have done this or that or the other thing... that they are not, and never are, there to do themselves;

Advice is cheap - especially when it does not cost the giver anything. Should 'uh, would 'uh, could 'uh... but you didn't... so... shaddup. 😜

I did lay back down because I was so very tired, but immediately was fully awake again, until I sat up. I did try sleep in a chair but once I begin to relax, there goes my back and here comes the jimmy leg. Hahaha. *sighs*

Ah well. Life at almost 55.


Dairy Company recalling MANY grocery store brand ice cream products

--- News Story ---
Ice cream bars sold at Kroger, Meijer, Wallmart, Dollar Tree, Aldi and other stores are being recalled for listeria concerns. A dairy company is voluntarily recalling ice cream bars sold at Kroger, Jewel, Aldi and dozens of other store chains in the U.S. and Puerto Rico due to possible listeria contamination.

At issue are are orange cream bars, raspberry cream bars, chocolate-coated vanilla ice cream bars and variety packs including those flavors, made in 2017 at Fieldbrook Foods' Dunkirk, N.Y. plant on the Hoyer 1 Line.

Routine testing discovered Listeria monocytogenes in a few ice cream bars and during subsequent sampling, according to the company. Production and distribution of all items manufactured on that line have been halted.

Listeria may cause serious or fatal infections in young children, the elderly and people who have weakened immune systems, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The organism may cause high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea in otherwise healthy people and miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women.

Here is a link to some more information: Here


I first heard about this by checking my receipt from Kroger after an alert came up on the self check out screen the other day. I had purchased some low sugar and low fat ice cream bars last month on whim because they were on sale and were a "close out" item (meaning, my Kroger location was not going to be restocking them anymore). I remember now that there were a lot of Kroger "store" brand ice cream products on sale and on close out.

Kroger Recall

Hmmmm... makes me wonder. On sale and close out and then a month later most (if not all) of those products are being recalled for possible Listeria contamination. A MONTH later, after families had probably finished them off over the holidays, they get recalled.

I'm sorry, but that is too much of a coincidence for me. Kroger discontinues selling its own "store" brand range of similar products, puts them all on sale and "close out", waits a month so that most of what was sold gets eaten up, then the recall hits and they passively do the recall by putting a notice on customer receipts. It kind of looks to me like Kroger had an inkling in advance that recalls were coming and they rushed to sell as many boxes as they could quickly.

The next time I see a store brand on sale and on "close out"... I am passing on that deal.

Have you looked at your receipt from your major grocery store lately? It is cluttered with gas/credit card ads, survey invites, reward point information, and on the back it is all coupon after coupon. You might just miss the recall notice of a product you "might have" or "might not have" purchased at some time in the past few months or so. If you use a store rewards card they have your address, phone number, and know what you bought. They manage to mail you coupons monthly, but they can't seem to remember to send out recall notices to your home address telling you "Stop! Don't eat that! Bring it back now! Your health might be in danger, your elderly parent might die, or you could lose your baby!" ... They can't seem to manage that, but they can send you a packet of coupons monthly to your home for items that you sometimes buy (targeted coupons based on your shopping habits). *shakes my head*

At least now we know that "store brands" are all the same product, from the same producers, sold to many different companies, just put in different company-specific packages. It is not that Kroger has a corporate kitchen where they come up with their store brand recipes, developing, and testing, tasting, and perfecting. It is not at all how they suggest on the store brand package, that THEY created, and THEY assure quality and taste and safety. The reality is that the same 12 count store brand ice cream bars you go to your major grocery store to buy for $3.99 is the exact same ice cream bars that they sell at Dollar Tree for... a dollar. Exactly the same product, just in a different box, made by a dairy company in a small town in New York State that sits snugly on the banks of the highly polluted Lake Erie.

Let's be real here. Store label brands are nothing more than what was once the white box generic No Name brands with black lettering from the past, just updated with more graphics, color, and expense to the buyer. The only reason they don't sell it that way anymore is because in our image conscious country people were embarrassed about having a shopping cart full of white label items and having those plain white boxes and cans filling their pantry shelves. BUT, it is the same product, just now with a little black label that reads, Private Selection, on it, or, Store Name Brand.

No Name Brand

There is nothing wrong with generic brands. You know how many name brands have had food recalls over the year few years? Dozens. You prefer Dole? Dole is no safer. They have had more recalls than know, and they probably knew about the Listeria contamination in the salad recall a few years ago but kept on producing and shipping until they were caught. Read about it HERE.

Generic or name brand, we are just sheep getting the short grass at the cliff edge every time we go food shopping. We know that it can happen, that food producers or local packaging plants sometimes skip on the rules and regulations and keep pushing out their product even though potentially it is not safe for consumers. It happens. It happens all the time, more than you know. But, now we know, or at least I personally strongly suspect, that grocery stores do it to us too. We are the sheep and they are the lonely shepherd who suddenly notices that no one else is around and checking up on him.

I think Kroger knew that the recall was coming and sold out their stock of ALL Kroger Brand Ice Cream products produced by that dairy company in that small town in Upstate New York on the banks of Lake Erie as fast as they could. I am guessing their next Kroger Label brand of ice cream will be showing up on the freezer shelves any day now, all with new packaging, and probably produced by a small dairy company on the banks of the Hudson River in a small town in New Jersey.

Jersey Cows. How perfect! They come from New Jersey, right? *winks*

The last line above is compliments of Tony Soprano.

Bada Bing, you sheep, youse.



Love at first sight, not right

Love at first sight, is only true in hindsight, after many years together. At the time, in the moment, it is no more than physical attraction, because that "love" is sight, not knowledge of persona or personality from interacting with them. It is the moment of chemicals and hormones, not souls joining in everlasting connection. It it romanticized writing in a book, not on the end of year tax statement. *grins*


Don't be a Springer, if you don't want to be

I tell people often these days: If you don't like the Jerry Springer show, never watched it, then do not permit anyone to make you live it, live. I don't care if it is a friend, a family member, a spouse, a parent, your own child or children, or even your family pet that wants to include you in that live show... don't let them. Change the channel... on your own life. It is yours, not theirs;

Look: If those people change their lives away from the Jerry Springer life... you can turn the channel back to include that new show. You won't miss anything except years of bad memories... and possibly jail time. *winks*


Happy New Year everyone. Have a great rest of the year!


Poetry - Those Creative Few

I was in the mood so I took pen to paper, or rather keyboard to computer, and spent some time forming and formulating the following poem. It is about those who create and those who criticize or discourage those who create and their creations. I am fairly sure it is a completed work, but I might read it in the future and decide to change it, or gut it, or evolved it into a poem about butterflies. Who knows! The creative mind is a good thing sometimes, and other times it is a curse. *chuckles*

Those Creative Few - M.W. Van Dyke

The creative mind is more often than not,
Assailed by those who have not the mind to even try,
And by those who have tried, but failed.

Critics criticize both major and minor,
Professionally or personally, or both.
They themselves do not create;
They disembowel and pick bones clean,
Spilling the blood and tearing out the sinew,
Discounting, disregarding, and dismissing the soul within.

Soulless and empty, bereft of concept and creativity,
Flawed and pedestrian, themselves ignorant of it,
They require and demand flawless postulation,
And seamless construction of a standardized derivation...
That is in itself an underivative work of genius!

The impossible perfection designed singularly for each and every person, everywhere.

Those who can create, create.
Those who cannot create, destroy.
Yet, that destruction is a creation too,
Of nicely turned words, polite phrases,
Colorful and engaging,
Soliloquies, both light and heavy handed,
Written or spoken, or both.

Opinions offered up to all by a lesser mind,
By those who cannot understand that subtle or gross imperfection is art.
It is birth. It is Life. It is soul. It is real.
And it is Truth.

It is the artist, the poet, the writer, and the sculptor,
And all those who create that which is tangible and intangible,
Creation that touches and moves the heart and soul and mind of a few of the many,
Or even a single one of the multitudes;

Yes! Even a single one forever moved, that is enough.
That is the person, that is the creative mind, and the soul,
And a name or a thing that will survive history.

The reviewer, evaluator, analyst, judge, family authority, and critic,
Those self-obsessed dismissive connoisseurs of other people's talents and art,
Their words and works fade quickly, lost or bargain-binned, discounted,
Forgotten, or set into achieves that no one will ever access, or discover,
Or even see;

Destroyed! In name and reputation and immortality.

Critics are never remembered,
But the creative and creations, the very few, they endure.
Beyond the critics, modern or in generations to come,
Always and in all times, criticized and analyzed,
Still, they endure.

Immortal... for as long as they can be.

Those Creative Few.

Those Creative Few - Copyright May 13, 2017 M.W. Van Dyke
All Rights Reserved.


Simple Vegetable Stew

My eldest sister, who is a pain in the rear, thinks she knows how to cook well. She does not. She never did. She sometimes tries to insult me by telling people who I am having a conversation with about cooking or recipes in front of her (that she is not a part of) that "He cooks from cans!" - which I admit I do from time to time. Not always, but sometimes I do for some things. Most everyone cooks from cans in this country and in many other countries to some extent. Very few people cook everything from complete scratch each and every time. If you make your own pasta sauce and use canned tomato paste, err, umm, you did not make the entire thing from scratch. And if you are making a tomato based pasta sauce and do not use tomato paste, it is probably not really a sauce. ;P

Tomato paste can be made from scratch. It is just a long, arduous, wasteful, and who-has-time-for-that-and-where-is-that-stupid-sieve process. Just use the canned tomato paste, for God's sake! It is probably better than most of your batches of homemade anyway - unless you make it frequently, which most of us do not do.

My Simple Vegetable Stew is an easy make. It is simple, very inexpensive to make, perfect for those who are frugal or on a fixed income, and is healthy. It covers most, if not all, of your nutritional needs. And yes, it is a stew, not a soup, but it could easily be a soup if one just adds more liquid. It could also be a vegetable beef stew or vegetable beef soup, or a variation of both or something else. It is in essence the base from which many other recipes can be built upon. Or, just leave it be and it is good by itself for the main course or as a side dish.

By the way, the ingredients for this recipe are all, or in part, from a can. Actually, from lots of cans. *chuckle*

If you can afford to make it (and have the free time to) from all fresh ingredients, more power to you! Go for it. I'd love to see you make it and taste it too. Invite me over. You'll probably have to provide the air-fare, but you'd be proving a point to me, so it might be worth it. ;P

The Basic Ingredients You Will Need

28 oz cans (or larger):

1 Diced Tomatoes in Tomato Juice (not sauce)
1 Seasoned Mixed Greens (Or Collard, etc..)

15.2 oz cans of:

1 Corn (white or yellow or mixed)
1 French Cut Green Beans (or regular)
2 Peas and Carrots (or 1 can of each)
1 Butter Beans (Or Cannellini or whatever type you like)
1 Northern Beans

3 Tbsp of Mrs. Dash Original (or your favorite Mrs. Dash type)

1/4 Jar (16 oz) of Herndez Tomatillo Verde Mexican Cooking Sauce

... or add some Tabasco sauce to add flavor instead, or other sauce seasoning that you already use and like. Do not simply add something you are not familiar with because you think it will be the same as what you are used to. Most brands of hot sauce, mixes, flavor ups, are nothing alike and some actually are just nasty tasting when you add them to certain kinds of foods or recipes. If you cannot use Tabasco or the Herndez, use something kind of like it. I use it because it adds a very slight heat and tang to the recipe. Add more or less depending on your taste, but wait until the next day to add more after you've tasted it again.

I learned the hard way not to use Chili Sauce in this recipe. It works great when I am making a meat dish in the crockpot, but it is not as good by far when I added it to this vegetable stew recipe instead of the Herndez or Tobasco. At least, it did not taste all that great to me. I also tried it with an unknown to me brand of Mexican Hot Sauce that made me throw the entire pot of ruined stew into the garbage. *bleh*

You can also add a small onion and some chopped peppers (green and red) , and sliced mushrooms (which is really nice), all canned or fresh or frozen, if you want, but these ingredients are really for added taste, texture, and flavor depending on your likes and dislikes. You can make it more plain with just the canned ingredients above one time and then make it more enhanced the next time. Alternate! Then you will never get tired of it and can make it every week slightly (or majorly) a different way. Going with just the canned goods, it is a very inexpensive pot that will last you days or for an entire week.

What about all of that dreaded sodium in the canned veggies? To handle most of that what you do it open each can, drain it, then put the contents of all the cans into a big bowl - all except the canned diced tomato in tomato juice and seasoned greens. Then, fill the big bowl with cold water all the way to the top. Let those de-canned veggies sit there soaking in that bowl for 20 minutes or more and then pour it out into a colander and rinse with more cold water. That gets most of the sodium and preservatives out of the canned product. I do this each and every time I make this recipe as I need to keep my sodium intake as low as possible.

But, I digress. Sorry about that. On with the cooking!

In a large pot (with a lid) put in the canned diced tomatoes in tomato sauce, the seasoned greens, the onions, peppers, and mushrooms (if you are adding them), and the Herndez Sauce and Mrs. Dash. Bring that mixture up to a simmer and then add in the contents of the colander. Cover and bring back up to a simmer and then turn the temperature down to medium-low (about 2 1/2 to 3 on an electric stovetop). Stir occasionally. It will take 3 hours or so without onions, peppers, or mushrooms (unless you've cooked them in a sauce pan prior to adding them to the stew). 4 hours if those added ingredients are fresh or frozen and uncooked.

When the 3 or 4 hours is up, turn the burner off and let the pot sit there and cool down for an hour or so with the lid on. Or, you can eat it now, or put it in a container to continue to cool off. When it is cooled down a lot you can stick it in the refrigerator. Let it sit overnight or until that night or even eat it right then and there. It does not matter, except that...

It will taste a lot different the next day after sitting in the refrigerator overnight - so please do not over-season it while cooking or after the first meal on the same day. It can taste a little bland when tasting it during the cooking process. It will turn out very different in the end. Better to under-season than over-season. You can always add seasoning to each serving but you can never take seasoning out unless you water it down, which kind of ruins it.

I recommend trying it out with just the canned goods to start. Make it simple. But the collard greens or mixed greens are essential, even if they are not seasoned or canned. Buy them frozen and add them frozen right into the first mix. And, the beans are essential too. Pick out your 2 favorite types and add them instead of the Northern and Butter Beans. One type should be small and the other a large bean. That adds a diversity of texture and flavor.

From this very basic recipe you can add, subtract, adjust, to fit your needs and taste. If you want to make more of a beef stew, do the meat separate, dice it up, and add it to the pot in the last hour or so. Alternatively, make the meat and keep it separate and then add some chunks to each serving. That way you are not locked into a whole lot of beef stew sitting there in your refrigerator.

That's all it takes. You could also do this recipe in a crockpot. Set it up, go to work (or to sleep) and it is done (or mostly done) when you get home, wake up, or stand up from binge-watching a TV series on Netflix after 4-6 hours. *cough*

If you wanted to know why my eldest sister, as I mentioned in the beginning of this blog entry, says to people that I cook from cans, it is all because I did one thing during a holiday dinner that I made by myself for my entire family and visiting family. Everything else, even the cranberry sauce and stuffing I made from scratch. The one dish I did not make from scratch was a nice little spur-of-the-moment addition of canned small whole white potatoes put into a pan, drizzled with oil olive, and lightly seasoned, and baked in the oven. They came out very nice, slightly crispy on the outside, and everyone except my sister loved them. When my sister sat down at the table (after arriving late, as usual, and slightly drunk) she made a point to exclaim out loud to everyone, and with a sneering expression on her face, that I had obviously used canned potatoes for that dish. Everyone else at the table, more or less, told her to shut the f*** up.

Ever since that time she has remembered only that one dish and delights in telling people that I cook from cans. Well, yes I do, sometimes. And so does she on a daily and holiday basis. One has to laugh at that kind of hypocrisy.

I do. Daily.


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