Monday, January 30, 2012

Serendipity ~ BFF 163


When I saw the BFF topic for Monday Madness, I had an immediate flashback to a point in time we all will remember for as long as we live. That moment in time was September 11, 2001.

Actually, my serendipity moment occurred before the attack…by mere hours. I was on my computer late at night September 10, 2001. As I was about to shut down, a thought flashed through my mind and I acted upon that thought immediately, and then shut down my computer for the night.

Just a little back story is necessary… I had a retirement fund that had been quite prosperous during the Clinton administration. It multiplied like a bunch of happy bunnies. Then shortly before Bush took office, my chosen funds began to fluctuate. Over the next several months, my funds lost money. I tried to be a good trooper and ride out the storm, but the fact was that I had no confidence that the market would come back anytime soon.

So…back to just minutes away from midnight, September 10, 2001… I had a sudden thought, which was this: “I am sick and tired of losing money…” I logged into my retirement fund, and then moved every penny into a fixed income account. Confidant that I had stopped my retirement funds from flowing down the drain, I went to bed and slept like a baby. In the morning, like most of the citizens of our great nation, I greeted a beautiful day with not a clue of what was to come.

The stock market was shut down that day and for a few days. During that lull in market activity, there was a public plea for people to not remove their funds from the market. I did not want to be an ugly American, so I called my financial institution to see if my transaction could be reversed before the market opened again. I was transferred to a financial counselor who asked me how close I was to retirement. When I told him, he told me that he was advising that I let the transaction go through as I intended before this horrible national tragedy. He advised that, in his opinion, I would not be working long enough to recover the losses this terrorist attack would most likely generate. He also said my small amount would not make much difference when the stock market reopened.  So, it was decided to let all my funds go into the fixed account as soon as the financial market opened again. And so it did. I had many friends close to retirement who took a beating, financially, as soon as the market opened again. I did not lose a penny!

Lest anyone think I am wealthy, I will clarify that I didn’t have enough in that account that I could afford to lose any more than I had already lost, which over several months was in the neighborhood of $500. That loss was a significant amount compared to what was in the account at that time. Nor have I moved any funds back to the stock market since that time. I am retired now for 3 ½ years. I don’t have money to play with….

I like to think that the Lord was watching out for me. What do you think?


Darlene Cirinna

January 30, 2012

Sunday, January 29, 2012



Photo found on Photobucket

The old woman tidied up her living room for about the fifth time and adjusted the arrangement of field flowers in the Mason jar while peeking out the window for her company.  Not here yet!  Where are they?

After pacing the room once again, she sat on the sofa and lovingly looked around the room.  She let her eyes rest on the woodwork as she often thought about the love that went into every detail of the house.  Her great grandfather built the house.  The wood in every door frame, window frame and baseboard was lovingly hand planed by her great grandfather.  The wainscoting in the dining room – real 1800’s wainscoting – now covered with many coats of paint.  Once again, she thought about stripping the paint off the wainscoting, making a mental note to pick up the materials needed to restore the wood to its original state.

Satisfied that everything was neat and ready for company, she fluffed the sofa pillow one more time before checking on the blackberry cobbler in the old iron stove in the kitchen.  The floor boards were uneven and creaked as she walked across the kitchen.  She did not notice.

The old woman let her mind drift back into time.  This is the house she grew up in.  Her Dad had an overstuffed arm chair he favored.  It is old and threadbare, but she could not part with the chair…and it sits as it has always sat for the past 60 years in the corner of the parlor.  But, she does not notice its sad condition.  The parlor is where her grandparents had been laid out in repose before burial – same as their parents and siblings before them.  But, today, she would not think of them because she would have company soon.

Remembering, she went to the window to look out once more.  No one arrived yet.  She hoped the blackberry cobbler would still be good by the time her company arrived.  She peeked into the stone cold oven and saw that it was baking nicely. 

Wandering back into the dining room, she decided that on wash day, she would wash, starch and iron the lace panels hanging in the windows.  She did not notice the dry rot and state of disrepair.  No…she did not notice.

Hearing a car, she hurried to the front door, pausing just a moment in front of the mirror in the hallway to give her hair a quick pat.  As she opened the door, she saw that the “company” was her own daughter who only stops in to badger her.  She set her lips in a firm line and braced herself for what she knew would come.


I walked into the house, allowing my eyes to wander around the room in disbelief once again.  Mom was seriously in need of some mental health care.  She does not notice that the windows are broken, the roof is caving in and the floors sag. I worry about her because plaster is falling off the walls and ceilings in chunks large enough to injure her.  The furniture is ruined from age and debris from a house that is literally rotting away.  It is cold, damp and smells of decay and rat droppings.  I know she does not notice.

“Mom” I say, gently, “Let’s go for a ride!  It’s a lovely day for a drive!  We’ll ride along the river and you can tell me about when the horses walked alongside the towpath to tow the barges down river.  And, I’d love to hear that story about when the train tracks didn’t meet after tunneling through the mountain and about how the workers had that ax fight up in Tunnel.  How did that story go again?” 

Mom likes to tell stories.  Of course I have heard them all many, many times, but it will take her mind off of the old house and on to other things.  If I can distract her long enough to get her to the car, I can engage the child lock and get her back home safely.  And after I get her home, I will call that taxi company and tell them that this is their final warning…if any of their drivers EVER take a pick-up call from my Mother again, I will file charges.  They, as well as the whole town, know that Mom is in early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.  Though lucid much of the time still, she is beginning to have delusional episodes.  During those times, she thinks this old house is the house she grew up in.  Mom never lived here and I don’t know why she has attached herself to this house on her bad days.

I sigh and hope this is the last time I have to come to this place to retrieve Mom.  As I buckle her seat belt, once again I thank God that she did not fall on the broken steps or get injured by any one of several hazards.  And as an afterthought, I ask God to please cause destruction of this house before Mom or some curious children get hurt. 

I drive off saying “Please, please, please God?”


Darlene Cirinna

January 9, 2010

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Christmas Epiphany ~ BFF 160

The bar room was nearly void of customers, jukebox silent, the stink of stale cigarettes and booze heavy in the air. Katie did not notice. She settled at a table far away from the bar. A lonely Christmas Eve has driven Katie out into a cold night to seek relief from her pain.

The bartender, without a word, brought Katie her usual whiskey and water with a twist of lemon. Katie took a long slow draw from the glass and waited for the euphoria, temporal at best, but necessary for just this one night ~ lying to herself again.

Katie stared at the scarred tabletop as she considered her failed marriage and the source of her pain. “It takes two to tango…” Her Mom’s words echoed accusingly in her mind. Katie knew she was not faultless in the failure of her marriage. She also knew that Joe was not a good match. There were communication problems seriously magnified by alcohol. Both were functional alcoholics, which was really the only thing they had in common. Still, even while drinking, they were polar opposites. She was a happy, funny drunk while alcohol only served to feed his many grievances. It was a volatile mixture, but she loved Joe nonetheless.

As the alcohol began to take effect, Katie turned her attention to the other three silent customers. She knew each of the men by reputation ~ all having lost their families, jobs and reputations long ago. The fact that Katie was the only woman in the lounge did not escape her attention.

Suddenly Katie had an epiphany. She knew instantly that she was seeing her future if she did not change her ways. Without finishing her drink, she got up from her chair and walked out of the bar forever.

Darlene Cirinna
January 25, 2012

Saturday, January 21, 2012



I made my own laundry detergent today. The photo in yesterday’s blog showed Ivory soap. I decided I would use Zote soap instead. If you are not familiar with Zote, it is a laundry soap found in the grocery store on the laundry aisle.  It’s pink and soft and smells wonderful!

The recipe for the homemade laundry detergent calls for 2 cups of grated soap, which is approximately 1/3 of one bar of Zote. Zote is a really soft soap, so easily cut into thirds and grated by hand.

First, I used my trusty old (and I do mean old) grater. I was not happy with how large the pieces were, so I changed to another grater that I use for hard cheese.


Perfect! It took under 5 minutes to grate 2 cups by hand.


After the Zote soap was ready, I put it in a bowl with 1 cup of Borax and 1 cup of Arm & Hammer washing soda. 


That’s it… Now all I have to do is stir.


According to another blog that I read, you keep stirring and the soap will dry further with the other two ingredients and break down. Well, I am an impatient sort and all that stirring was making me tired, so I took my bowl and my blender stick to the garage and further broke down the soap pieces.


So…here’s my first batch of homemade laundry detergent. I only need 2 tablespoons of this mixture for one load of laundry. I found a small scoop in my junk drawer. The little scoop in the photo contains 2 tablespoons of detergent.  Perfect!


Just as soon as I finished making my detergent, I headed to the laundry room to try it out. I washed a load of whites first. I was thrilled with how clean everything came out. Next, I washed a load of blacks to see if any white remained in the black fabric. Nope! Another perfectly clean load of laundry. I am over the moon with this project.

But…If you know me, you know that I will do it someone else’s way once, then the next time will be my way. Also, if you know me, you know that I am all about easy… When I worked, I supervised a lot of people. I never turned new duties over to my staff until I found the best and easiest way to do a task. I practice the same way in my home. So, tomorrow I plan to experiment a little. This time, I will be experimenting in my garage because I’m going to use my Cuisinart to both shred my soap and blend. There might be a lot of soap floating around in the air….

As soon as I find the easiest, fastest way to make the detergent, I will share in another blog.


Darlene Cirinna

January 21, 2012

Friday, January 20, 2012


2009-05-12 22-41-44.902 
Just a little information about me… I LOVE TO SAVE MONEY!!!
A couple of days ago, I was tooling around between blogs when I read a blog where “homemade laundry detergent” was mentioned. That piqued my curiosity, so my next stop was my trusty friend, Mr. Google… I am both amazed and delighted at all the sites I visited. This is exciting and very doable!
It might help the reader to understand me and why I would be so excited so as to blog about it. You see….I was raised by a very thrifty woman. My Mom taught me how to squeeze a penny until it squealed. Ok….maybe that was a little exaggeration, but you can thank my Dad for the expression… Bottom line is that I have lived a lifetime of thriftiness. I use products up, don’t buy every fad that comes along and just generally use my head with my finances. But, mostly, I hate waste and love to save money. This attitude has seen me through some tough times.
My husband told me yesterday that we can afford to buy laundry detergent. Pfffttt…. He will never understand me…
So then…. Here is what I learned yesterday:
First of all, I learned that I can wash a load of clothes for 1-2 cents! YES…I said $ .02. “A penny saved is a penny earned”…blah, blah, blah. Shut-up…I love stuff like this…
Second, I read rave reviews from people who have been doing this for a long time already. I saw the words “clean” and “fresh smelling” repeatedly. Those are my two criteria for my laundry PLUS, whites must come out white...
I learned that there are many, many “recipes” out there, both dry and liquid and varying according to the ingredients used. I choose dry because I really don’t want a bucket of gook in my washroom. Plus, dry looks easier. I’ve always been all about easy…
The “recipe” I finally settled upon is very simple. I only need three ingredients. So… Yesterday, I shopped for supplies.
The washing soda cost $2.50 and the Borax $4.59. I “shopped “my hall closest for the soap. I have no idea what I paid for the soap, but you can bet it was on sale… My guess is that my total “cost” is likely to be around $10.
Because I only need one or two TABLESPOONS full of the finished product per wash load, this might be all I need to do my laundry for several months and maybe a year. We will see.
I am making my laundry detergent later today. I plan to document the process in another blog, then after using the product, I will report back with results to anyone who is interested.
Stay tuned….

Darlene Cirinna

January 20, 2012

Sunday, January 15, 2012



The topic for GBE2 this week is “Pet Peeves”. Already feeling peevish about a certain subject lately, this was an easy one for me.

My pet peeve is captchas. On a particularly peevish day (we all have them); I just want to leave as soon as the captcha pops up...”

I hesitated a moment because Beth wrote such a clever and sweet blog about captchas just about 2 weeks ago. I don’t like to be redundant, but…

My biggest peeve is the use of both captchas and comment approval settings. I’ve had a silent rebellion going on in my spirit for quite some time. Part of me says “I’m just going to move on” but another part of me refuses to be peevish or rude.

I feel peevish because I spent time reading a blog, writing a comment, and then jumped through the captcha hoop. Then the comment doesn't post because it is set for approval. That is when I think....WHAT THE HECK??? Why not just set it to approval and deal with any spam that might land in the approval folder???  Why put people through the hassle of a captcha if the comment is going to require approval anyway???  I don’t get it.  I just want to yell…”CHOOSE ONE AND GO WITH IT!!!”

Not only are captchas annoying, but often I simply can’t read them… Can I have a translator please?


Sometimes I try to hear the audio captcha, but that is worst. That “white noise” makes it hard for me to sort one sound from another. *sigh*

So…I don't use captcha's because ~ well ~ I hate them!!!

Blogger is really good at catching the spammer comments, so they go straight to the spam folder. I haven't had any spam land on even one of my blogs. That’s because they are all languishing in the spam folder – never to be approved. In my experience the spammers only spam the older blogs. My solution and as an extra step, just in case, I set my comments for approval for any of my blogs over 14 days old. Still...I do not use a captcha because I don't want to annoy my readers. I figure if I am that annoyed, then maybe the comment controls annoy other people.

Mostly, I don’t say anything, but I did let a friend know that she was set up with captcha and then the comment required approval. She was not aware that her settings caused that effect. She quickly changed her settings to simply approve all comments.

Though I understand the frustration to discover a less than desirable comment on a blog, I do not censure words of others. If the comment is not obscene, I leave it stand because I believe in free speech. When faced with an obscene comment…well then…I know where to find my delete button…


I often wonder why such control over a blog is necessary. I understand that some may possibly want to approve, and then answer the comment so that everything is nice and neat. That’s okay with me…really. Just skip the captcha… If it is fear of what someone might say in a comment, I just want to say that words are only words. Don’t like the comment? Delete it, but don’t expect your readers to hang around. Nobody likes to take the time to comment on a blog, then return to see their comment gone. We are a nation of free speech and I am not a fan of stifling that right.

Did you ever notice that the bloggers with lots of readers rarely ever use captchas? And the fact that only a very few require approval of a comment? Think about it. Then, if you are controlling your comments, I hope you will visit your settings and make some changes.

There you have it… Captcha immediately followed with comment approval notification is my biggest pet peeve, followed closely by the captcha alone. I can live with the comment approval notification alone, but I’m not a fan. It just leaves me wondering what is there to be afraid of?



Darlene Cirinna

January 15, 2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


So…this is it? Rose stood in the stubble of hay, staring in disbelief at the shell of an old house. This is my inheritance? Her thoughts were already running rampant at her stupidity to have let her apartment go and then to move here sight unseen. Distress was growing… What have I done??? Well…at least the roof looks okay…

Her cousin, Gary, lived on the adjoining farm. At the reading of the will, Gary assured her that he would keep the lawn mowed until she could get there. But, he neglected to mention that the “grass” was actually “hay”. At the same time, he did tell her that the house needed “some repairs”… Apparently, THAT was the understatement of the year. She was quickly learning that her cousin was a master at understatements.

Rose had grown weary of city life long, long ago. When she learned that she had inherited a farm, she began to dream again. She saw herself tending a garden and canning the produce. Her home would welcome visitors with the delightful smell of yummy baked goods. She wanted her kitchen to be all hues of yellow and gold – happy and bright colors, in her opinion.

While preparing for her move to the country, Rose imagined each room one by one. Her living room would have overstuffed furniture and lots of pillows. Earth tones suited her, but she would allow her pillows to add a punch of color here and there. She would find just the right area rug for the middle of the room. In her mind’s eye, she could see it as a replica of an old rug – faded in color and hues of earth and dusty roses. She would have a small footstool with a needlepoint cover of her own design and crafted by her own hands. In her imagination, she was very comfortable, as would be any guests that drop by for a visit.

Except for her yellow kitchen, the earth tones and dusty rose would follow throughout her house, continually repeated in quilts, curtains and pillows. Her personality would be lovingly stitched into every handicraft that would make the house her home. It would be the home she always dreamed of…

Testing the strength of the old wooden porch floor first, Rose stepped gingerly up from the last step. Surprisingly, the porch felt solid and without any sway that she had anticipated. More hopeful than she had been minutes earlier, she continued, stepping carefully over the threshold and into the living room. Stunned, she was greatly encouraged to see the wonderfully comfortable living room of her dreams. Turning to look at Gary, Rose explained that she anticipated water damaged walls, mold and rodent droppings. How could the interior of the house remain in such good condition when the exterior was so bad???

Gary chuckled as he explained… When Rose told him that she would be moving to their grandparent’s farm, Gary planned to surprise her with new siding on the house. Having already stripped off the old siding, original boards remained. Just that morning, he tore off some rotted boards to replace so that the nails for the new siding would anchor in the wood as they should. The work crew would return after lunch. Rose’s sigh of relief was audible… Gary went on to explain that his farm hands would be along in a few days to put the yard right. He allowed it to grow up in hay while Rose prepared for her move. Gary apologized for that.

As Rose wandered through her new home, she was quick to note that not only did she inherit a home, but she inherited a history. Old photographs hung on the walls and smaller ones graced the mantle. A very old family Bible sat side by side with a thick photo album – pages yellowed with age. Rose glanced at Gary with questions in her eyes. Gary smiled as he told Rose about the family history. They settled onto the overstuffed sofa as Gary opened first the Family Bible where every birth, marriage and death had been recorded over the past two centuries, then the photo album which contained only one photo from Europe, one photo of the ship that brought them to America and hundreds of photos that documented marriages, births and an ever growing American family. Gary explained that their Great-Great-Great Grandfather had homesteaded many acres of land – indeed miles. Gary’s farm was part of the legacy, as was every farm adjacent to her new home. The surrounding farms were rich in new relatives that Rose had never met because Rose’s Mother had run off to the big city to never return to the farm. Her Mom had died shortly after giving birth. Her Father was in Vietnam at the time of Rose’s birth, but he never returned. Rose had been raised by her Father’s family. The farm had been willed to Rose’s Mother. The detective hired during probate brought the sad news home to her remaining family that Rose’s Mother was deceased, but the good news that there was an heir.

Rose basked in the revelation that she came from such a wonderfully strong line of pioneers and a heretofore unknown family who loved her sight unseen. Her Father had also been an only child and now with her paternal Grandparents both gone, she had been alone in the world until the detective’s knock on her door. Now, she is welcomed by a huge family! Marveling at her good fortune, Rose caught the scent of fresh coffee in the air. Following her nose, she quickly located the kitchen. Stopping dead in her tracks and completely slack jawed; Rose took in the sight of her new kitchen. The sunshine streamed through the window into a wonderful yellow kitchen. Could anything be more perfect than this?

Rose smiled hugely as she said in a whisper ~ “Welcome home, Rose”.

A work of FICTION By Darlene Cirinna

© January 10, 2012

All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Tasty Tuesday ~ 1/10/12


I’ve been in the mood for fresh baked goods lately.  One day last week, I made cloverleaf rolls from scratch.  They were a big hit on the supper table.  We had pizza from scratch on both Christmas and New Year’s Days. 


There is something therapeutic for me to make bread dough.  Perhaps it is the creating or maybe it is kneading…  I can’t tell you which or why.  I just love getting my hands into some good bread dough.

So…yesterday…I had the urge again.  We were having spaghetti for supper and I decided that some garlic knots would be a wonderful addition to the meal.  Because I rarely measure anything, I threw my dough together quickly, then let it rise.   I really didn’t intend to make so much dough…it just happened.   So, in addition to the garlic knots, I made some cinnamon rolls with lots and lots of pecans.  Yummy…

Jan 10 2012 015

The garlic knots were even better…


image not available

BECAUSE WE ATE THEM ALL.  LOL… Sometimes I crack me up!!!

But, here’s a pic I stole from the internet:

Single Garlic Knot

Now you see why they are all gone?   Mmmmmm….


If you want a recipe, don’t ask me because, as stated earlier, I don’t measure.  After some 50 years or so in a kitchen, I have little use for measuring tools unless I’m trying a new recipe.  There are some wonderful recipe sites on the internet…  Just do a Google search…