Friday, May 29, 2009

When you really need chutney...

Over the last two years I have become a vocal fan of shopping online. After a particularly successful foray into internet shopping, I can be heard telling all my friends how they must give up the brick and mortar stores and head for their laptops if they want to find exactly what they are looking for.

This is becoming even more true of grocery and food items when you are looking for anything a little out of the ordinary. Sure, the supermarkets have some sections devoted to ethnic foods, but many times they are just your standard label food manufacturers trying their hand at some exotic item and not really knowing how to get it right.

If you are looking for authentic ethnic foods however, and you like to shop online, then you have to go with an online grocery store like Finding the right food item online is a lot more convenient than trudging up and down the aisles at your local store, only to find out that no one has ever even heard of the product you want, let alone stocked it.

We have some special tastes in my own family, and finding some items on grocery store shelves is just impossible. Finding authentic curry, chutney and water crackers in a regular store just isn't possible. For some items you might find a bland imitation but they are always disappointing.

EfoodDepot has an amazing array of specialty ethnic food items from countries all over the world, including huge selection of foods from Japan, China, India, Middle Eastern countries, and African Countries.

Usually, one of the major drawbacks about ordering anything online is the shipping cost. But you really can't beat eFoodDepot's flat rate shipping - only $4.99 anywhere in the USA.

For some things, finding a local version is just fine but there are some cravings that can only be satisfied by the real thing. I found a few products that I haven't found elsewhere and I like the fact that eFoodDepot let's you suggest new products.

A 1/4 Milestone

Today, I took that giant leap of faith. The one I have been avoiding for several months. The one that was so traumatic, I am actually writing about it. Today, I let The Boy walk to school without anyone walking with him, crossing him over the street, or watching him walk to make sure he gets there.

The school is about six houses away, down the street. It's a quiet neighborhood, with many other children being walked to school each day. But, as close as the school is, I can't see it from here. This makes me crazy.

Every child needs to find a new level of independence at each age. Crawling was an act of independence, walking even more so. But what mother doesn't try to cushion the possible side-effects of learning these new skills?

The learning curve seems to be the child's, but in fact, it may be a shared experience. The child learns new skills, gains confidence, and with each independent move sharpens the line of separation. They become persons, individuals in their own rights. The parent learns that to allow that independence, to let those apron strings get erased and of course, the worst lesson - letting go.

There are gains for the parent, to be sure. There is a freeing-up of the time that used to be spent on things like diapering and spoon-feeding. I can have a coffee table without worrying that some child with an unsteady gait will crash head-long into it (The Boy may still do this, but he's a boy). We don't have to buy only melamine plates and plastic cups, we can have real china.

But even with all those gains, I still wonder if I wasn't better off with the 2 month old who couldn't go anywhere without me and would always be right where I put him. It saves a lot of worrying when he doesn't have to cross the street.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

That's Entertainment

Many people think their television entertainment choices are limited to the local cable company. While it's true that you probably only have one choice if you want cable, it's not true that cable is the only choice.

At my last address I canceled the cable and lived without television for a couple of years until I saw an ad for directtv. In no time they came to my house, hooked me up and we had great reception and service the whole time I lived there. It's no wonder that they have a higher rate of customer satisfaction than cable.

If you're less than satisfied with the entertainment value of your cable company, or if you've just decided it's time to try satellite, you probably won't find a better time to check out Direct tv. They have great deals on packages, some of which give you movie channels free for three months.

Television becomes a better entertainment value when you add Direct TV service. Movies and specials on demand, sports, and all the best channels and programs can be found at the touch of a remote. Now that's progress.

Boo Hoo, Boo Boo

Children, with their bouncy gaits and inattention to safety concerns are just accidents waiting to happen, and they happen frequently. Every mother will apply numerous kisses to heal the inevitable boo-boos during their children's younger years. Well, every mother but me.

The Girl was my first baby. Having read that coffee tables are a top source of injuries to babies learning to walk, I removed the coffee table from the livingroom as soon as she started to crawl. When she was two years old, I put the coffee table back, assuming she had gained some balance and coordination. Within a few days she had managed to topple off the sofa onto the table where she received her first bump on the head. I tossed the coffee table into the trash the very next day. This was her only major accident in her toddlerhood. The Girl was naturally careful and concerned for her own safety and rarely suffered any serious boo-boos needing attention. I am not sure that to this day she has ever truly experienced pain. She has made it her life's ambition to avoid pain at all costs.

The Boy, on the other hand, was born already programmed to self-destruct. He found new and interesting ways to hurt himself, or at least to try to hurt himself - a good portion of the time I was able to thwart his plans. So this should have afforded me ample opportunities to try out my boo-boo kissing and other make-it-all-better techniques. But it was not to be.

The Boy had a different approach to getting hurt. Getting his finger caught in the door jamb didn't make him cry, it made him hide his finger from me so I wouldn't see that he was hurt. He would react angrily to my solicitous questions about his general well-being. I quickly learned that the question "are you alright?" and outstretched arms never resulted in his running to me for comfort. Instead,he would pace about and mutter; returning to me only after the pain had ceased at which time he would relate the somewhat horrifying details of the incident.

In some ways The Girl's caution and The Boy's stoicism saved me from a lot of unnecessary panic over minor cuts and scrapes. But you have to admit, I have missed out on practicing the healing arts of motherhood. Therefore, I am unskilled in this particular area of nurturing. It's one reason I can't risk having any more children, the next one might be normal.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day - in remembrance

Memorial Day is just another holiday to most of us who have never had to say goodbye to a father, son or brother as he was deployed in his nation's service. Those of us who never had a gravesite to visit, or lay flowers upon, have a vague sense of the meaning of the day, but ultimately its importance is that of every three-day weekend. The day means cookouts and family fun, or an extra day to relax or do chores. I confess that, over the years, this attitude has crept in upon me as well. Strangely, I was more aware of the day when I was young.

Every Memorial Day was parade day in my little hometown. My friends and I would walk or ride our bikes downtown to watch the mix of veterans, policemen, firemen, boy and girl scouts and nearly anyone in uniform march to the often painful insistence of the high school marching band. There were baton twirlers and flag bearers, all of whom practiced throughout the school year for this, their shining moment in the sun.

A punctuating moment in each parade was when the members of the Historical Society, dressed in colonial garb, fired a 21-gun salute with their muskets in the town center by the American flag. A fife and drum accompanied their solemn marching, and though they were a rag-tag bunch, the effect was profound.

The final destination for the parade was the Town Hall, where the marchers joined the spectators and one audience was formed as the names of hometown heroes who had fallen was read. The brave men who were lost in battle, and the old men who, having returned from war, used to march in the parade. Men who, just the year before, stood here among us, silently honoring their comrades and brothers, men whose names were now on that same list.

Our hometown parade was a small and amateurish affair, but its purpose shone through as brilliantly as the sun striking the gleam of those brass band instruments. It taught me how to value life and freedom. It taught me how to mourn those I did not know, simply because their lives were worthy and their absence worthy of note.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Of Lilacs and Memories

Although my childhood is far behind me, although my childhood home has long been passed on to the hands of new owners and although my parents have been gone for several years, now and again I will see or experience something that takes me right back there. I suddenly become the child I was, and the flood of memories overwhelms me.

Yesterday, while looking out of the window, searching for The Boy who was visiting a friend, I just happened to notice a lilac tree peeking out from behind the corner of a house across the street. Suddenly my senses yearned for the delicate scent of lilacs and apple blossoms on a warm, spring breeze.

Immediately upon sighting that lilac tree, I was transported back to my childhood home. All that I was and all that I had came to me and wrapped itself around me like a soft, worn blanket. But these moments bring a second wave of emotion that is without comfort. A moment of longing, nostalgia and loss.

This morning when I opened the window, a familiar fragrance wafted through on the morning air. A faint scent of lilac entered and assured me that all that I was, is all that I am; and though out of reach, my parents and my childhood are not forever lost to me. As long as I exist, they exist still in some way. As long as the lilacs bloom in spring, their lovely perfume will bring me home.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Ice Cream Truck Memories

One of the nicest things about where we live is that there is a park just down the street. The Girl, who is now a teen, uses the park only as a central point where she and her friends can meet up before setting off on their teen destination. But The Boy has been enjoying the park to its fullest extent.

The first thing that attracted him to the park, and which still remains one of its most important features, is the daily visit by The Ice Cream Truck. It doesn't matter that the ice cream truck also drives right by his house and will stop if he is out there waiting for it. There's something very special about being at the park, money in your pocket and conducting the important business of purchasing a frozen delight all by yourself.

I haven't lived where there was a neighborhood ice cream truck since I was a kid. I remember how all the kids came running out from yards and forts and dropped bicycles in the street when the first to spot the carrier of creamy confections yelled "Ice Cream Truck"!

Of course, in those days the cost of the cheapest frozen product was a lot less than it is today. A quarter would get you something cold and sweet and delicious. Summer days were made that much more special by that brief ingestion of cold on a hot, sunny day.

And although I sometimes catch myself singing "Do Your Ears Hang Low?" for days at a time, and although it's costing me no small amount of pocket change, I am happy that The Boy can experience the simple joy that fills the heart of a child when that white truck with the circus music appears.