Category Archives: Musings

[Not] Home for the Holidays

It occurred to me after we returned from our almost spur-of-the-moment trip to Atlanta for Christmas (which was a lot of fun) that we may never again host Christmas/Christmas Eve in our house. It’s pretty clear that Clare won’t be returning for the holidays ever again and Andrew’s fiancé’s folks are quite invested in Christmas, so Andrew and Alex probably won’t be spending the holidays here ever again.

When I made that realization, I was really bummed. I felt sad and a little hurt. After all, we travelled to Illinois every Christmas for at least two decades even though I would have liked to create some Christmas traditions here in Bethesda with our kids.

After thinking about it though, I realized that we did make traditions in our home. It might not be on Christmas day or Christmas Eve (in fact that was a tradition in itself — having our personal Christmas after Christmas) but we still hung stockings on our mantlepiece and unwrapped presents in the morning of the day we designated our “Christmas”.

I don’t know what the future holds for subsequent Christmases — travel probably. Maybe we will go see Clare sometimes. Maybe Dean, Clare and I will rent a house somewhere warm for a Christmas someday. Maybe if A&A have children we’ll all gather wherever they are.

Penzeys Spices Recent Emails

I’ve gotten most of my spices from Penzeys Spices since just after Clare was born. That’s over 30 years! That’s a very long time to be a loyal customer. If you don’t know much about Penzeys Spices, it is a retailer of spices headquartered in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. It operates physical stores as well as mail order and online shopping. The spices are very good.

The owner, Bill Penzey Jr., writes editorials in his emails, on his website and in his catalogs. The editorials are usually about kindness and goodness and how to make life better by cooking, but in recent years they have gotten very political. Over the years I have usually agreed with what Bill Penzey wrote in his editorials but there were a couple of times he and I didn’t see eye-to-eye. One was when he wrote about a cable television program that he loved (John from Cincinnati) that I found very disturbing and stopped watching after seeing a creepy scene between a mother and her teenaged son.

I was 100% behind Bill when he blasted the trumpet and his supporters after the 2016 presidential election. I cheered Bill’s emails when he called for impeaching the trumpet. I was proud to have been such a longtime supporter of Penzeys Spices. My sister-in-law, on the other hand, unsubscribed from Penzeys Spices emails because of what he was saying. She still likes the spices and still uses them and will still buy them, but probably won’t subscribe to his emails again.

Recently Bill sent out an email with the subject: All Republicans are Republicans. I think it was a follow-up to his January 6th email which was about 2021 Capitol Attack. In the email Bill says:

All Republicans are Republicans. There’s a regularly reoccurring email theme I get from seemingly a variety of people that goes along the lines of: Just like all Germans weren’t Nazis, not all Republican voters support what’s happening. Sorry, but nope. If you want to say just like all Germans weren’t Nazis, all Americans aren’t Republicans, sure I’m right there with you. But no one is forcing anyone to be a Republican; as of now it’s still a choice.

Bill Penzey

A few days after the All Republicans are Republicans email Bill sent an email with far more incendiary subject line: All Republicans are Racists.

In this email he says:

And I get it. If you are a Republican voter you are now cheesed off. You were promised that there would never be any accountability for your support of the party of open “textbook” racism. Sorry, but for the betterment of all Americans, you included, we’ve decided to end that rule. And I really don’t care what your race is or how many of your friends “happen to be” whatever. None of that excuses you.

Bill Penzey

So this is when I decided to delete the email rather than read it. It made me uncomfortable that Bill Penzey would do this, especially during the time we should honor Dr. King. And also, I believe that we are all racists on some level and to varying degrees. It’s hard to grow up in a racist society and not be a racist. Yeah, I get what he is saying, but the when and how bothered me.

Over the next few days I received a few more similarly titled emails landed in my inbox and I deleted them too.

The first of the follow-up emails starts with this:

This one has people waking up. Unsubscribing, too, 4/10ths of one percent so far, so it seems worth repeating. I appreciate your emails to my address below, but I’m still working through yesterday’s emails, so you can also click on these Twitter and Facebook page links if you want your comments to reach a wider audience. I am excited for how this leads into the Dr King holiday. Thanks!

Bill Penzey

The second, titled Republicans’ Racism Isn’t a Victimless Crime is a different email entirely and starts:

Not entirely comfortable with our Republicans Are Racists Weekend? Dr. King wrote you a letter from a Birmingham jail just short of sixty years ago addressing exactly what you are feeling and why those feelings aren’t entirely helpful. And I get it. I don’t like tension. I don’t like confrontation. But the reality of life is that Justice and Equality are never won or preserved from inside of our comfort zones.

Bill Penzey

So now, after having read through these formerly deleted emails, how am I feeling? I do get Bill’s point. I see that he wants to be confrontational. Maybe that’s it. I was uncomfortable with the confrontational subject lines. Bill (and Dr. King) are right — this is not the time to back away from confrontation.

I have issues: Part 5 — Using Scissors

It’s been a while since I wrote an I have issues blog post. It’s not that the issues are gone, it’s just that I have not been dwelling on them lately. Just now, and a few days ago, I cut a circle of parchment paper to line a 9-inch circular cake pan. Today, as well as a few days ago, as I cut in jagged snips around the circle I remembered my Mom’s reaction to my use of scissors. I think she asked if anyone had ever taught me to use scissors. While I don’t exactly recall the words she spoke, I can recall how they made me feel.

This was a school assignment and I was to cut something out that was probably printed on paper using the purple lines created by a mimeograph machine. It might have been a bear. This might also have been an assignment I’d not gotten to in class because I was slow in doing my assignments and the teachers often sent unfinished work home with me.

My cutting was jagged and uneven. The finished product looked nothing like what it was supposed to look. Mom scolded me, possibly yelled at me in frustration, then recreated the cutout on fresh paper and cut it out herself. It made me think that I was a failure because I couldn’t cut things out properly.

To this day I avoid cutting things with scissors. Sure, I will use scissors to cut wrapping paper, but who cares about precision in the cut ends of wrapping paper? I bought a paper cutter when I was a volunteer in my daughter’s class and had to cut straight lined things for the students.

Cutting a 9-inch diameter circle to line a cake pan requires precision and when I have to do that I remember my feelings about using scissors as a child. I’m no good and bad at cutting.

Regardless, the cake always turns out fine. I may not be able to cut things out properly, but I can make a damned good cake.