Well Fed. Well Said.

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Happy Thanksgiving weekend, friends! We traveled to my hometown for turkey dinner and visiting with my family. We had a great meal together at the local Cracker Barrel restaurant. However, I did experience “the empty chair,” since my dad is no longer present at the table. Others have a different sense of longing, after surviving one of the California fires. The empty chair can be a symbol for many situations.

A high school friend shared this blog on her Facebook feed and I would like to feature it in my blog for this week. I could not have said it any better. Well written, sweet truth, and many of us will relate to it. To quote my friend, Lynette, “We all have empty chairs.” I hope, if you have an empty chair in your life, you find this an encouragement.

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Holidays and Empty Chairs

I hope your Thanksgiving was filled with blessings, even if peppered with a sense of longing, of missing. I give myself time and permission feel both, and that’s OK.

Stay charming, my friends. And stay real.

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Uberize Me

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Uber Post - Where to

I am grateful there are strangers with clean cars, who drive responsibly, and want to take me places. For a fee. But I don’t mind the fee.

I am also always a little wary of crawling into a car with someone I do not know, trusting them to get me where I need to be. The other side of that coin. There is the tension to be managed.

Although recovery from my summer breakation is going well, I am not yet driving. My ankle will be able to tolerate it one day soon, but this is not that day. So I am dependent on family and friends to play taxi service. And God bless them for their generosity in that practical piece of support!

I don’t miss driving in our Los Angeles area. I rather enjoy being the passenger. But it becomes rather inconvenient and impractical to not be able to drive. It’s a short season, and for that, Uber has been a good resource.

Uber Post - Uber App

Most of my Uber rides have been great, pleasant, and comfortable.

  • Only one car had squeaky breaks, to which the driver commented, “I’ve been meaning to get that fixed.” To which I thought, “As long as they hold until you drop me off, I won’t panic.”
  • Only one commented, “It’s telling me my one tire is low on air. It seems to be losing air. I think I have a nail. I’ll have it checked once I drop you off.” We were two minutes away from my destination, and we hit a rough patch of road at the exact moment he shared that news. The thump-thump-thump-thump sound of the tires did get my attention, but it passed quickly, once we got on smoother road.
  • Only a few seemed to lack confidence in speaking English. We got along fine. However, giving directions from the back seat in English didn’t work so well. I ended up leaning into the front seat to wave “left turn” or “right turn.” The Uber map system, whatever GPS system they are using, directs them to use a road to get to work that has no entrance any longer.
  • That same map system directs them to pick me up in the alley behind our home. I circumvent that with a quick text message while I wait for the driver to arrive.
  • Only one was blasting a certain genre of rock music that was too loud and too metal for my taste, raised in a James Taylor and Doobie Brothers era. But I changed my attitude and head banged to Heart’s Crazy on You as we traveled together. The young female driver deserved a good sport in the back seat. Windows down. Hair in the air like I just didn’t care. It’s all good. Can I borrow your comb?

Uber arrives quickly after I place a request. No money is exchanged. The driver is identified by name, car description, rating by other customers, and number of rides given. That’s helpful. They don’t get paid until they complete the ride. I like these features.

It is fun to watch the app on my phone. It shows a map with a tiny car approaching your pick-up destination and communicates how long it will be until they will arrive. Helpful.

Uber Post - Ants on the Road

See the little ants on the map pictures above? Those are Uber drivers in my area when I took that screen shot of the app.

I’ve Ubered a lot in the last few weeks. It’s worked well for me and those who have been helping with transportation when they can. I hope to be driving again soon, but in the meantime, I’m grateful for Uber. It’s not cheap. But neither is owning and operating your own car. It’s a service I need right now.

Uber Post - My Trips

Let me also give a shout out to the great friends and family who have pitched in with transportation over these last months. I couldn’t have made it this far without you! Thank you.

Stay charming, my friends! I hope you get where you’re going this week!

Weekends Are for New Recipes

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Sometimes a slow Saturday is perfect for slow cooking. And fall is always a good time for a hearty stew. Weekends sometimes bring a break in busy schedules affording time to prep, cook, clean-up, and the energy to do it. So I took the time and had some fun on a recent Saturday afternoon chopping, measuring, and prepping our dinner to try a new stew recipe.

The new recipe I wanted to try was Hearty Pork & Ale Stew, from Midwest Living magazine. It’s described as “This main-dish stew celebrates autumn with assorted root vegetables, apples, and tomatoes simmered with melt-in-your-mouth pork sirloin.

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Hearty Pork & Ale Stew Recipe

Slow cooking can be so relaxing. It’s definitely rewarding. I love combining ingredients, smelling the aroma while cooking, and then tasting the result. All that work to feed people you love good food brings a feeling of satisfaction. Not to mention the fun suspense of trying a new recipe. Would it come out right? Would we both like it?

The challenge was this. After sitting around for three months during broken ankle and surgery recovery, would I have the stamina? I did. It went well. I had a good time. We enjoyed a delicious stew for dinner on a lovely fall (91 degrees) evening, while watching Purdue University (I’m a graduate and fan) surprise undefeated Ohio State (I’m a Buckeye fan by birth) with an upset.

Back to the stew…I found the recipe in the book Seasons of the Heartland. I’ve provided the link to the online recipe in the beginning of the blog. (Just click on Hearty Pork & Ale Stew above.)

 

Pork & Ale Stew Dijon Mustard 10-20-18

I typically overlook one ingredient when checking to make sure I have everything. This time it was Dijon mustard. I discovered we were out as I was browning the meat. I was sure we had it, but didn’t check in advance. My husband to the rescue! He dashed to the store and was back just in time for me to add it in. Practical love.

One of the interesting things about this recipe for me was the inclusion of Granny Smith apples and tomatoes. Tomatoes are common in soups, but tomatoes and tart apples seemed unusual to me. Plus, I’d never had apples in a stew. It was interesting and delicious.

A fun afternoon. Lots to clean up because, as usual, I dirty plenty of bowls, cutting boards, spoons, knives, and measuring spoons and fill the entire counter. My husband, who cleans as he goes (he’s a good cook!), hasn’t been able to break me of this habit. That’s why when I cook, I clean. When he cooks, he cleans. Marriage rule from the early days.

The stew was delicious and offered a variety of interesting flavors and textures. I plan to make it again. Looki leftovers – another gift of slow cooking.

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Stay charming, my friends! And eat well in this season.

 

 

Good Old Dog Days

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Puppies - Sam's Litter

Samson 2 was born in March 2004, the same month our previous dog, Samson, passed away. Some of his brothers and sisters are pictured above in a photo the breeder sent prior to picking him out. We brought him home from the breeder in April 2004 at about six-weeks old. We began raising a puppy, a challenging time with great reward. I had no idea how much time and consistency it would take to help him grow healthy, happy, and well-behaved. He’s been our best beast ever since. His breed, the Labrador Retriever, is known for their amazing and loving temperament, and he was no exception.

Sam - Bringing Home Sam 2

I got to hold Sam on the car ride home.

When we got home, we introduced him to Ashley, our mature black lab. We had adopted her years earlier from another home. She helped train and entertain puppy Sam, as transition dogs do. She granted us time off from playing. He would climb over her and bug her. She’d look at us as if she were thinking, “What have you done?” Raising a puppy demanded time and energy from all of us.

The video below, taken on an old flip phone – pardon the low quality, demonstrates the energy Sam brought to our home. I think Ashley is safely in the background, and you can barely see her. He was a crazy spinning dog, and eventually out grew that tendency. We were grateful.

 

When he was new to us, he was so tiny in his crate which he soon grew to fill.

Sam - Baby in the Crate

We took him to puppy training school. So many friends post photos of back-to-school moments. I was happy to capture one of Sam.

Sam - Puppy School

Our young grand-nieces, Brianna (in blue) and Abby (in pink), enjoyed visiting Sam.

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Sam with Abby

Fast forward to now, Sam 2 is fourteen years and seven months old, outlasting the life expectancy of labs which is supposedly twelve to fourteen years. He is in his late eighties in dog years. That is old. He still eats and drinks well, shows interest in people, moves around the house and the yard, but he struggles.

Samson on Bed - Sitting Up

At this point, he cannot hear very well. We still talk to him in complete sentences and repeat commands. Like that will work. It doesn’t, but we forget and try anyway. Getting up is difficult, more difficult some days than others, but he never gives up and works at it. That may actually keep some muscles stronger.

Sam does seem confused at times. He doesn’t always get outside to do his “business.” Almost daily we go on an “Easter egg hunt” to see where those indoor dog logs have been laid. We are comfortable with that now. It is what it is. We keep our clean-up supplies around the house: rolls of paper towels and Thieves cleaning solution in a spray bottle. We limit the rooms where he can wander. We are grateful it is usually solid waste.

We feel privileged to have shared life with this dog for so many years. He is still good company.  He’s shared his gentle ways with our toddler guests. We hope he will make it very clear to us when he’s done with his work here, and then we will grant him rest. Many of you know this path we are on. You can appreciate the dread of the pending loss of man’s best friend and the heartache that will follow. We are in the good company of friends and we’ve shared those days in the past for many beloved dogs gone on.

Our young housemate, Oliver, also enjoyed time with Sam.

Oliver with Sam

 

Oliver in Jammies with Sam

 

One of our earlier housemates, Pete, often played with Sam, as shown in this video.

 

In the meantime, we will enjoy him every day. We will smile when he seems to be running free in his sleep. We will giggle at his old man snoring. We will envy him for all the naps he takes. We will pet him, feed him, thank him, and make his days the best they can be. What a grand gift a good dog is to living life well! Of course when you risk loving, you risk loss. That’s OK. It’s still worth it. Good dogs are forever in our hearts.

Cindi (feet) and Sam on Porch Side-by-Side

Samson Close Up w Tongue - 8-2018

Stay charming, my friends! Cheers for life with good pets!

Who Loves Fall?

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October 2018 Calendar

Welcome Fall

I know I’m not alone when it comes to enjoying the season of autumn. Days become shorter. Sunsets seem more stunning. Temperatures start to cool off. Well, around here, there is no real guarantee of that, unless we are in the mountains. But you know what I mean. For me, fall means we are heading into some holidays that I really enjoy, too.

Fall Flavors & Cooking

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Pumpkin Pie with Peanut Brittle Topping

Do you have favorite recipes that come to mind and start your cravings when your calendar turns to October? Perhaps something with butternut squash or a pork loin roasted with sage? I have to give a nod to all things pumpkin, too. Although I’m not a pumpkin latte fan, I accept that many of you are. But slice up a homemade pumpkin pie, add a little fresh whip cream, and I’m ready with my fork. My mom always sprinkled the whip cream with small chunks of peanut brittle. Delicious! I continue that tradition in our home, though not everyone is as interested in that as I am.

Fall Color & Decor

I live in Southern California, so we have to create our own fall. Some trees near our home are changing color. Pink. They have large pink blossoms during this season. What? That always makes me laugh.

Pink Trees

The trees along one street in our neighborhood all bloom in bright pink blossoms in the fall. I took this photo at sunset. Though they kind of look orange, I assure you they are pink! Not a fall color in my mind.

The Japanese maples in our town will turn to beautiful fall colors, more orange and red, but not until December. That’s OK. I still like to see the bright colors. This year, I purchased a maple leaf garland that reminds me of Midwest leaves floating in the breeze to the ground. It’s a colorful addition to our den.

I recently purchased some table runners for our large dining table to set a fall mood. This is part of simplifying seasonal decorations, to have simpler storage when not in use. It is fun at add simple visual hints of the season or holiday. Table runners are perfect to fold and put away until next time.

In addition, I create some focal points, like many of you do as well, with tiny pumpkins from Trader Joe’s around the house for a pop of fall color. Those can be tossed at the end of the season. No storage needed. Sometimes I toss them in a field to feed some critters. I like to fill a small glass vase with candy corn. That decoration seems to disappear by the time trick-or-treating is over. And, of course, faux candles with timers warm the home with light. Candles can be used all year.

 

Fall Books & Ideas

The beautiful books and magazines that feature fall photography, recipes, and decor ideas are fun to read. That helps get in the fall spirit out here in California. I grew up in the Midwest, so I’ve experienced the full fall tree colors, authentic hay rides, a reason to own sweaters, and chili suppers that do not include jalapenos. Here are two of my favorite seasonal books: Autumn, by Susan Branch, and Seasons of the Heartland, by Midwest Living.

 

Home for the Holiday

Although the leaves will have fallen to the ground by late November, I’m looking forward to a Thanksgiving visit to my hometown in northeastern Ohio to get a sense of autumn, similar to my growing up years. It will be cool weather, and we may even see some light snow.

Closing Thoughts

Two additional notes. Ironically, orange is my least favorite color. Unless it is September, October, and November. And, ironically, fall has other meanings, especially for me this year. I’m not sure any literal fall is happy, unless you fall in love, fall into bed, or fall into a big pile of leaves. See last week’s post for details on a recent fall that was NOT a favorite season. So, happy autumn and enjoy your fall…in the seasonal sense.

Happy Fall - Close Up - Fall 2018

What are the ways you enjoy the fall season? I hope you, too, find joy in the season. Join family or friends for soup and apple crisp sometime soon, or your fall food of choice!

Stay charming, my friends!

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Ankle Reflections

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I twisted my ankle on the evening of June 25, 2018. On June 26th, my birthday, I was informed it was broken, put in a temporary cast, and handed a pair of crutches. (Add moving around on crutches to my description of Hell.)

Ankle Cast & Crutches

On June 27th, I visited my foot doctor and got the temporary cast removed in exchange for a boot, much more tolerable. Next stop was to pick up a knee scooter, the best thing ever invented for staying off your foot, ankle, and leg to comply with your doctor’s “no weight-bearing for four to six weeks” instructions. I settled in for a long summer’s rest.

Ankle Scooter

My scooter…with my companions, the stuffed toy flamingo, Scarlet, and our dog, Samson the 2nd. The flamingo, a.k.a. Gladys, as Glen called her, was my inspiration animal. Flamingos are brilliant at life on one leg. The shoe for my working leg rests on my fluffy knee pad, ready to go when I get up.

In early August, we determined that the ankle did not heal well after six-weeks, so surgery followed on August 15, the day after our wedding anniversary.

Ankle Surgery Drawing

The surgeon trimmed the fragment at the base of the fibula and reattached ligaments.

My housebound scooting life was extended for another five weeks non-weight bearing to heal. I elevated my foot above my head, as directed, for weeks.

Ankle Post-Surgery Boot Elevation

Propped up in the bedroom, looking out to the living room.

And heal I did! [Insert applause and cheers.] I advanced to walking with a walker on September 19, 2018. I was able to retire the walker twelve days later.

On October 1, 2018, I took my first steps on my own. As I write, I’m still in a boot and walking is challenging, but progress is mine! This has been a long journey with many ups and downs.

I have a short list of lessons learned to share with you. I think the list applies to most struggles, so perhaps you will relate to it. Perhaps it will help us find courage together when hard days come. For those of you who express your spirituality differently than I do, thank you for accepting my references to God and my connection to him in this post.

Ankle Reflections

  1. Work toward a healthier weight through healthy eating. When you depend on your upper body to support you in times like this, extra pounds make that harder.
  2. Work toward physical strength, flexibility, and endurance. Take good care of your body so you are better equipped in physical struggles.
  3. Focus on the present and what’s true. When times are hard, it is easy to be negative and fill with fear. Counteract that by staying in the moment and thinking through what is true, shutting down discouraging “what if…” thoughts.
  4. Enjoy the fact that God is with you and goes before you. He loves you.
  5. Priorities can include slow living, developing your gifts, investing in your passions while you are sidelined. Be creative in doing that. Enjoy good people, good moments, good movies, and good meals.
  6. Time with people you love is life-giving. Be grateful for the time you have to visit while you wait to rejoin the hectic life you knew before.
  7. Togetherness with friends and family in your home is meaningful and rich. They do not care what you look like, nor how the house is not as clean as you’d like. Get over it and enjoy the company.
  8. Busy is often a choice that short circuits peace.
  9. Guard against personal idols – things you counted on for happiness that do not keep that promise in hard circumstances.
  10. Be grateful that God meets our needs, even when so much of normal life or how you had it pictured gets stripped away. You still have what you need in the moment, though you may not recognize it until later.
  11. Clutter around the house is a burden when you are limited physically. Clear it out to make moving around the house, reaching what you need, and enjoying your space easier. Having less to take care of when you can’t get around, or even in good health, is a benefit, too.
  12. Combat fear and the desire to control or it will eat you alive.
  13. Watch fear in medical situations dissipate with trusting God in new ways, and having friends or family accompany you to appointments and procedures.
  14. Waiting is an easy difficult practice of high value. Learn to do it well.
  15. Results are often beyond our control, as is timing. Watch for God’s intimate involvement in both, and just do the very next thing you have to do. Don’t think ahead.
  16. Friendship is wealth to the soul. Connection with a local church brings support in ways that melt the scared heart. A hard-working husband and best friend is an amazing gift, and such a loving, caring support in times of physical limits. Let people help and give you time to rest and recover. It’s good for everyone. Lose your desire to pay them back, and commit to helping others when you are able instead.
  17. Develop a living space that is one-level without steps to manage for times when your legs are not doing what they were designed to do.
  18. Slow mornings are a luxury. If you can rest comfortably, don’t wish that away.
  19. If you are comfortable, you will find time to do things you want to do, but never had the time to sit still long enough to do them. Embrace that, but understand that healing sometimes demands all your creative energy, so be patient with yourself when you feel too depleted to be creative with projects and interests.
  20. A lovely view from your resting room is a gift to your soul. Bird feeders, flowers, plants, trees, the sky, if included in your view, are calming to the soul. The activity of birds and butterflies, moving clouds and the breeze, and noises in the neighborhood all help you realize you are not alone.
Ankle London Pastry

A sweet friend sent favorite cinnamon buns from London Pastry, Redmond, Washington to encourage me during this time. Fun friends make hard times better.

Ankle Get Well Flowers

Another friend saw Glen at the grocery store and handed him a big note and a bunch of flowers. This was another of many moments that made this difficult time easier.

Stay charming, friends! In good days, and also, with special blessings, in rough seasons.

New Dishes – A Fun Change

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We got new dishes last week. We are taking the older dishes out to make room. We’ll donate those. I like the new dishes, but moving out the old ones triggered thoughts and emotions, like highlights on a timeline.

Changing Times

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In the late 1970’s, my parents purchased a set of dishes for me when I first moved into my own place after college. The entire J.C. Penney dish set cost about $35 then, and I was thrilled. My mom promised I’d never get tired of these plates because there was no pattern on them. She was right. As usual.

They served me well for years and years. In fact, when we moved into our current home in 1996, I donated most of the set that remained to create space in our cupboards. I have saved one plate, pictured above, for the sweet memory of that early part of my adult story.

This first set of plates reflected a change in status. I had finished college and was going to set up an apartment with a great friend in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. That adventure in independence involved a move eight-hour west, leaving my childhood home, my parents, and life in Akron, Ohio.


 

In 1992, I married Glen. We picked out a set of dishes. Our marriage has lasted twenty-six years, but our plates have not. We have two remaining dinner plates. One is pictured below. It is time to replace them. I remember picking them out when we were engaged and registering for wedding gifts at a local department store, the name I cannot recall, that no longer exists.

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These plates also show a change in status. I was thirty-seven and we were starting our married life. After years of being single, I stepped into sharing life with my husband, learning to love him, and choosing to care every day. We’ve shared many meals and memories with friends and family over the years with these dishes.

Changing Tastes

Through the years, I collected random plates with the common color of blue. I liked the eclectic look of those plates. For me, they reflected diversity and unity around the table. The plates did not match, but they were each beautiful to me. That was a metaphor for those gathered around our table through the years. Each person is unique, yet beautiful. The shared meal represented a sense of unity in that time spent together with good food. This collection will now be donated to make room for the new dishes. They have served us so well, and even started conversations as people asked why they are different and don’t match.

My tastes have changed. Those plates were fun for a season. Currently, I am drawn to certain colors that reflect the earth, sky, and colors of water. I want those echoed in our home as we refresh this 100-year old house for the season ahead.

The dishes below caught my eye online at one of my favorite stores, Crate & Barrel. They came in the colors I wanted. Rather impulsively, I ordered them. The first shipment arrived last week. I love simple design. We washed them and arranged them in our cupboards. And our old plates got bumped out.

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Did you notice they still don’t all match?

Shared Opportunity

It is time to box up and donate the old plates. It surprised me, however, when the moment came to do that, I felt sentimental. Plates and table settings are a form of self-expression and art in the home, as much as they are a practical tool.

I wonder who we will share meals with using the new plates. I look forward to seeing the good food presented on the plates to nourish us, slow us down for conversation, and share time with others. Our small group* met at our house for pizza and encouraging, thoughtful conversation last week. They were the first guests to use the new dishes.

I’ll schedule a pick-up with the Salvation Army. They will drive to my home and get the box of old dishes from my front porch. They can then sell them in their thrift store, support their community efforts, or give them to help others rebuild their lives. I feel happy about that opportunity as I send the dishes off. If someone else will enjoy them in their own home, it is time to share. When more people benefit, everyone wins.

Soothing Colors

The plates I selected are the pale green, dark blue, light blue, and white colors in the Hue Dinnerware Collection. These are calming colors to me, from the cool color palette. These colors reflect the sky, grass and trees, and the variant hues in the water found in rivers, oceans, and lakes. I love being outdoors. These colors are one way of bringing the outdoors inside.

We’ve got two each of four colors to mix and a match. I couldn’t decide which color I liked best. So problem solved!

Crate & Barrel dishes

From the Crate & Barrel web page…

Sacred Moments

Meals with loved ones can be sacred moments. For me, it makes me think of God’s provision in my life. The soil, wind, air, water, and sun all contribute to good foods. I Farmers and ranchers work to bring food to market. Having enough to eat is a basic need and I cannot provide all that alone. That turns my heart toward God, who I believe sustains me and food is a gift.

Slowing down around a table to eat, taste, share stories, and connect with another — these are essential moments in the day to sustain our spirits. A good meal engages all the senses – sight, sound, smell, taste, and we feel textures on our tongues. Shared meals are important to love, to community, to acknowledge there is enough, and see how we depend on one another to get food to the table.

For those of you who spend time reading the Bible, you may have noticed how many stories and images center around the table. Even communion with bread and wine, happens at a table with a group gathered for a celebratory meal. I love those images.

So dishes are practical tools, but the life that happens around dishes and meals is not to be missed. It’s time for new dishes and more memories in our home! May your meals be meaningful and enjoyed throughout the days to come!

Stay charming, my friends!


*A small group in this context is a group of eight friends that commit to meet together most weeks for support, friendship, and accountability as we learn to live as better people for a better world using Christ’s example and the story of restoration found in Scripture as our model. Our small group eats dinner together as part of our rhythm of sharing life. We have met together since 2008. This is a high priority for me as I navigate life with others who offer a safe space to talk, question, and grow. And eat!

Life & Logic: Part 2 – Avoiding the Question

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It just bugs me when officials in an interview on something important dodge the question with their answer.* In a time when facts and the truth are not always completely obvious, what do we do to stay sane and alert? Who has time to research everything to find accurate information? That may be why more and more voters vanish on election days from pure exhaustion. So let’s stay in it, and take steps to fight for logic in our political discourse!

*Note: I do understand when leaders are unable to comment due to ethical, legal, or sensitivity limitations. Sometimes we are legitimately not entitled to all the information in the moment. I accept that.

As we continue the series on strengthening our logic skills to recognize and respond to faulty logic, we equip ourselves to better understand facts, truth, and how they relate in reasonable ways. Today’s post looks at ways people avoid a question. These may not be new to you, but I find them interesting. It encourages me to be a careful and savvy listener when it comes to debate on important issues in our society.

Red Herring Fallacy

Saying things that sound like they answer the question, but they don’t. Saying things that are true, at least partially, but they do not answer the actual question. We’ve heard this happen in conversations and interviews. At times it is masterful how some people introduce something unrelated in a way that is hard to detect. Anytime this happens, that is one way of avoiding the question. This is called a red herring.

I recently read that a red herring is called that because it starts to smell like a dead fish. In the book, The Fallacy Detective, the authors tell how dog trainers would create a scent trail of whatever they wanted a dog to follow, say a racoon. Then the trail would become old. That is when the trainers would drag a smelly, old red herring across the trail and off in another direction to throw the dog off the original trail. They work with the dog to stay on the original trail and not get distracted. As defined in the book, here’s how this goes:

  1. A red herring, or irrelevant point, is introduced into an argument or in answer to a question.
  2. The speaker thinks or hopes that listeners will think this proves the point being made, and answers the question.
  3. But it does not.
  4. However, if someone responds simply with saying they do not know the answer, that is not a red herring. It is not irrelevant and is still on topic.

How to Recognize Red Herrings

Responses are often true, yet irrelevant. They can be good arguments, but just do not address the point of the question being asked.

So, to recognize a red herring, follow these steps:

  1. What is the question being asked or argued about?
  2. Did the person address that issue or question and stay on topic?
  3. Is the response true, but off topic?

These critical thinking tools help us determine a red herring and know how to respectfully listen, but not get sidetracked.

Special Pleading Fallacy

Special pleading is a variation of the red herring approach that uses a double standard or an exception that is not justified. These techniques sidestep the issue.

Example: I know I shouldn’t overeat, but I am very hungry.

Special pleading often brings in something that gives an unfair advantage. There are times when an exception to a standard or rule or law is unfair. When we hear those comments that seem unfair, it may be a red herring, distracting from the bigger issue or question.

How to Recognize Special Pleading

To call out a special pleading comment, step back and ask yourself or the person speaking, if you are in the conversation:

  1. Why is this exception relevant?
  2. Is this distracting us from the issue?

Ad Hominem Attack

I think these are easy to recognize because I get a pit in my stomach when listening. If you’ve ever watched a political debate in recent years, you’ve seen this in action. Ad hominem attacks are when one participant attacks the character and/or motives of the other to get us to doubt them and see them as bad or as the enemy. This is done effectively, yet unfairly, at times, if it gets us off the topic at hand. We listen to the participants drag each other through the mud instead of defending their position on an issue being debated.

Ad hominem is Latin for “to the man.”

We must go on alert when someone’s character or motives are attacked, instead of disproving an argument.  In that situation, someone is side stepping the question.

Next time, in the Life & Logic Series: Genetic fallacy, tu quoque, and faulty appeal to authority. What? Exactly why I’m reviewing these techniques that miscommunicate. I hope this is helpful.

Stay charming and logical, my friends!

Note: This is part of a blog series on a logical thinking to strengthen skills as we filter information in coming elections. Being an involved, informed voter is strategic and becoming more vital. Plus, logic exercises the brain. That is a great benefit. I am studying faulty logic, using a book, The Fallacy Detective, by Nathaniel and Hans Bluedorn. You can learn more at www.fallacydetective.com. Let’s work toward more wisdom as citizens and voters together. Our democracy is strong. Let’s keep it that way together.

A Visit to La Monarca, a Local Bakery

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La Monarca Bakery Sign

I recently returned to local bakery that I enjoy, La Monarca. I want to share it with you, in case you also have an interest and find enjoyment in discovering and visiting local bakeries. If you live in Southern California, and have not tried this bakery yet, I have included a link to find the several locations nearby. You’ll see link at the end of this post.

La Monarca is a pleasant place to grab coffee and a sweet, whether meeting friends or going solo. My husband and I have even been known to come here for a hot chocolate break on a busy Saturday in the winter. But more about that later.

I did a little research on the La Monarca website to find out more about this bakery. Here’s what was said to help frame our understanding:

La Monarca Bakery’s founders grew up enjoying the rich variety of cakes, pastries and breads which are household staples in Mexico. They created La Monarca Bakery to bring The Sweet Flavor of Mexico to the U.S. Our products are made with  all-natural fresh ingredients, without the use of lard, frying or artificial preservatives.

There’s a whole lot to like about that! Bakeries with a different cultural tradition are interesting. I learn and become familiar with treats new to me, a Midwest girl. Using “fresh ingredients” appeals to me, too.

I think it is fun to go in, grab a little tray and some tongs, and find your goodness. Scan the display and pick something interesting. Then go to the cashier to order any hot food or coffee.

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Start here!

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La Monarca Pan Dulce Delights

I am exploring the different pastries, new to me, on a quest to find my favorites. This is a long term goal. Currently, my favorite in the Pan Dulce display are the tacos or Taquito de Crema, Guayaba (or guava), or Con Queso (or with cheese). I like any of those three fillings wrapped in a flaky crust. I also like anything with cinnamon.

La Monarca Cinnamon Roll

The Cinnamon Roll

Sometimes I accompany the treat with a more sensible slice of Quiche Rajas, with peppers, corn, and cheese, to balance out with a bit of protein. The peppers are mild, not spicy, at least to me. I am a light weight when it comes to heat. Top it all off with a cup of coffee, and I’m all set to take a seat.

La Monarca Quiche Close-Up

The Quiche Rajas & Salsa

But before I sit down to wait for my hot food, I always carefully peruse the beautiful cakes on display, delightful to look at and no calories! No calories in just looking, that is.

La Monarca Cake Display

Check out the fresh cakes display.

The ambiance at our local La Monarca is fresh and clean, with an exposed brick wall, wooden tables and benches, and industrial steel stools. The music is energetic to add a pleasant Latin flavor. I have not been to other locations yet to compare.

La Monarca Wide Shot

Time to find a seat to enjoy the goodies and some conversation.

La Monarca Latte

Sometimes I get a latte.

I recommend trying their specialty coffee, Cafe de Olla! This coffee is described on their menu as custom Mexican spiced coffee with a blend of spices, brown sugar and organic Oaxacan dark roast coffee. I find the flavor mild and delicious in an interesting way. I do not like flavored coffee. However, I do enjoy this coffee occasionally, since the flavor is tasty and light, complimenting the coffee, not competing.

Also, this bakery supports the Monarch butterfly. We can sign and post a flyer for $1. La Monarca sends all proceeds to their partner ECOLIFE Conservation and the Monarch Butterfly conservation program. This is an important cause since those easily recognizable and majestic butterflies are in trouble, and the numbers have really decreased in recent years.

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Looking through the door to the beautiful outside sky.

Did I mention the hot chocolate? I know it is 91 degrees today where i live, but cooler weather will be here again one day. We need to be ready! They offer Mexican hot chocolate with organic cocoa, brown sugar, and cinnamon, whip cream and a sprinkle of crushed peanuts. They also offer a traditional champurrado, and I have to try that some time this winter. If you know what it is, you’ll probably want to try it, too. If you do not know what that is, maybe you should try it to find out. Doesn’t talking about hot chocolate at least remind you of days with cooler temperatures, even though it has been a hot summer?

 

Do you have any local favorite bakeries to share about in the comments? Please do!

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Order Cafe de Olla here or pick up a bag at one of the La Monarca locations.

Stay charming, my friends!

Sanctuary

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For those experiencing “personal or political heartbreak,” Carrie Newcomer, an artist new to me, composed a song called Sanctuary that may speak to you. I connected with it. I am currently reading Parker Palmer’s life-giving book, On the Brink of Everything. This beautiful song,Sanctuary, is referenced in this book, and that’s how I found it and recently listened to it.

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In the notes for The Beautiful Not Yet album, Carrie wrote this about her song,

This song was written after a conversation with my friend Parker J. Palmer. I asked him, “What can we do when we are personally or politically heartbroken?” He responded, “We take sanctuary. We gather with those we love, in places like Brown Chapel. We remember, we share stories or we sit in silence until we can go on.”

I am in a season of political heartbreak right now, and some personal heartbreak. Maybe you are, too. This song brought to mind people and places that provide sanctuary for me – a good meal shared with loved ones, the beauty of nature and cathedrals, cultivating my faith quietly, the solace I find in God, moments of solitude, and connection in my local church community. I need to be more intentional about taking sanctuary in difficult times, remembering I wasn’t made to do the hard in life alone.

Here are the lyrics. I like to read lyrics. Perhaps you do, too.

Will you be my refuge

My haven in the storm

Will you keep the embers warm

When my fire’s all but gone?

Will you remember

And bring me sprigs of rosemary

Be my sanctuary

’Til I can carry on

Carry on

Carry on

 

This one knocked me to the ground

This one dropped me to my knees

I should have seen it coming

But it surprised me

 

Will you be my refuge

My haven in the storm

Will you keep the embers warm

When my fire’s all but gone?

Will you remember

And bring me sprigs of rosemary

Be my sanctuary

’Til I can carry on

Carry on

Carry on

 

In a state of true believers

On streets called us and them

Its gonna take some time

‘Til the world feels safe again

 

Will you be my refuge

My haven in the storm

Will you keep the embers warm

When my fire’s all but gone?

Will you remember

And bring me sprigs of rosemary

Be my sanctuary

‘Til I can carry on

Carry on

Carry on

 

You can rest here in Brown Chapel

Or with a circle of friends

Or quiet grove of trees

Or between two bookends

 

Will you be my refuge

My haven in the storm

Will you keep the embers warm

When my fire’s all but gone?

Will you remember

And bring me sprigs of rosemary

Be my sanctuary

‘Til I can carry on

Carry on

Carry on

 

Where do you find sanctuary, a place of refuge or safety, when you can’t do it on your own? When the heartbreak makes it tough to get up and go on alone?

If you stop to watch the song video, may it encourage you and strengthen your heart, because maybe – just maybe – you needed this today.

Stay charming, my friends! And find sanctuary on dark days.

 

For more…The Growing Edge with Carrie Newcomer and Parker Palmer