Archive by Author | Denise Heinrich

Rich And Denise Heinrich’s 2017 Annual Christmas Letter

What a year! Adventures galore. Stranger things. Where do I start?

Early in the new year, Rich and I found ourselves setting up a refugee camp for excommunicated White House employees. They sought protection, a place of rest and or safety. Displaced persons who fled presidential persecution, harassment or bad treatment for secret meetings with Russians, use of private jets, being too far alt-right, an expletive-ridden phone conversation, in-fighting, the Russian probe,  and beliefs that differed from those of the orange hair persecutor. Or because they didn’t adore the Mango Mussolini with unyielding loyalty no matter what.They wanted to get as far away from Washington as possible but California was too liberal. Humanitarian aid in the urban fringe of Scottsdale, Az.. Our job is to reinforce a sense of civil society. Everyone seems to get along other than arguing with Sean as to what the news of the day really is. The neighbors hope it won’t become a permanent city camp.

It is a small camp. Twenty-two blue tarp shelters around our pool in the backyard. The maze of walkways through the tents is tight. If you spread your arms out, you touch tents on both sides. Our gas barbecue (which also has burners) became the communal kitchen with ice chests everywhere. During the winter months of December and January, hose showers (after the hose heated up in the sun) became the norm. In the warmer months, the pool became the bathhouse.

Like sentries, blue porta-potties guard the back fence. It didn’t take long for political graffiti to appear everywhere. And posters of martyrs lost in battle. Quite the diaspora! Not all refugee camps are equal.

There is high unemployment in this camp. We can only offer two jobs. That of pool boy and tree trimmer of our two palm trees and two fruit trees. Others are forced to become seasonal day laborers picking cotton and fruit. Our collective minivan is their transport. Others reluctantly become Democratic pollsters. Since we only have two Democratic families in the neighborhood, additional transport and security are required. Some of the refugees do receive money from their relatives.

Security is tight. Strict access controls included constant surveillance, required permits to enter and three guard cats. The political background of all visitors is highly scrutinized.

A few refugees have left to live with families elsewhere. Their blue tarp domains were immediately filled with others. In fact, we have a waiting list. Some seek permanent asylum.

We will keep you updated. Donations of any kind are most welcome. Tis the season!

As if the above was not enough to deal with, one of our beloved cats, Babbaluche, joined a cat cult in April! He has always been unsure of himself and has an insatiable appetite for love and attention. If he wasn’t following me around all day like a lost soul, he was sitting four feet away just staring at me. We did our best to be good parents.

Well, then the strange behavior started. He’d leave the house during the day for hours at a time. When asked where he went, he’d just mumble meow some discombobulated story that never, ever made any sense. I never pursued it. You know how teenage cats can be… Then he withdrew even more. From us and his cat brothers. He’d disappear for longer periods including the nighttime. We thought maybe he had a girlfriend. Or had taken up with some unsavory characters in the neighborhood. And then, out of concern, a friend ratted him out. The skullduggery was a cult! We were dumbfounded. A mountain of anguish buried us. Where did we go wrong?  Did we have too many houseguests? Was he not happy with the litter box? Not enough kibbles?

Proper parents would have seen the signs. Cause for concern. Babbaluche had been acting differently. He had started meditating, collected money for bogus charities, had a me-versus-them (us) attitude and displayed reprehensible behavior at times. Like pooping on the bedspread in our guestroom. He never did this before joining the cult. His conversations and mannerisms had become stilted and seemingly programmed. And he quit socializing with his friends Paco and Taco who live directly behind us.

Babbaluche’s family and friends were rallied for an intervention in June. It did not go well. He’d already been brainwashed by the leaders of the cult. Our little boy had no tolerance for questions or critical inquiry. He has an unreasonable fear about the outside world. Impending CATastrophe, evil conspiracies, and persecutions. None of us can convince him to leave the cult. He is extremely obsessed with it and its leaders. Only the leader can provide truth, validation, problem-solving, and solutions. If we dare to question or criticize the leader, it’s persecution.

Rich and I are so sorry to bring this news to you in what is supposed to be a joyful Christmas letter. Right now, our efforts are at a standstill. Professional guidance is being sought to save our boy. We will keep you all posted.

Now for some exciting, good family news. Motorsports to the moon! A precursor to space tourism. Competitors in this emerging market include Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezo’s Blue Origin. In September, Rich went on a road rally to the moon. A rally with no roads….just craters. An extreme offroad rally with only twelve cars. His boss sponsored him and Elon Musk sponsored the rally. The cars and drivers were transported there by Elon’s private spaceflight company Space X Rockets. Health and fitness tests along with training were required. He prepared by playing the Driver Lunar Rover 4 Offroad Game. And by driving up rocky, dry riverbeds here in his modified Bugeye Sprite Lunar Rover.

According to Rich, there were obstacles to overcome besides craters. With less gravity there, the drivers were forced to go slower as bumps in the terrain wreaked havoc. A rollover was not just a rollover. The driver rolled over and over nonstop until something brought the car to a stop. Like being in a dryer. The lack of streets and street signs made navigation a real challenge. GPS was spotty unless you faced the earth to pick up the satellites. Rich claims that toward the end of the rally, most drivers had improved their skills enough to jump over the craters. The next intergalactic rally, Cars To Mars, will be in 2022. Rich is already designing the over and over and over rover rollover rover!

Since September, things have been pretty quiet. I enjoyed some small accomplishments which included cooking thirty-minute brownies in twenty minutes, memorizing the history of man, reading Anna Karina, Moby Dick and the Bible in one day and still had time to paint the entire house that evening. I also discovered the meaning of life but I forgot to write it down.

The magic of Christmas never ends and its greatest gifts are family and friends. Much love to you all!!!

Twinkles In The Wrinkles

 

Ya know what really grinds my beans? Anti-aging this. Anti-aging that. A tsunami of products that promise eternal youth, sex, and a new Mercedes. The 300 billion dollar pseudoscience beauty business. Firm & lift.Tighten & tone. Rejuvenate & reactivate. Don’t talk to me about free radicals that steal my collagen. Free radicals are protesters just out of jail! You even have complexion analysis machines to give me a skin score on my dubious derma. Or to tell me how poor my pore quality is. I have Grand Canyon pores. Take a hike and take your hope in a jar with you. Gobbledygook. I’m not buying it. You’re either aging or you’re dead. So don’t make me feel bad for staying alive.

Bird poop face cream. Bee venom facial. Leech therapy: snails on your face that deposit mucus containing proteins and antioxidants. Celebrity culture capture.

You promise me less wrinkles. The wrinkles are in your mind. In your attitude. Not on my face. I have lifelines. Just like the one on your hand, curving about the base of the thumb, that reveals facts about a person’s life. Do you really think a frozen face looks better than the evolution of that history? That life. All those smiles, squints, frowns and other common facial expressions. With these lifelines, I’m someone who is called upon in time of need. A source of salvation in a crisis. Why oh why would you want to give that up by injecting poison into your face?

When I came out of the closet by going gray (actually a snowy crown), it was liberating. Nothing to hide. I no longer have to plan my life around root touchups. Or worry about the color fading if I wash my hair ten times a day. Sure, people no longer say, “you don’t look that old.” Now they call me ma’am, hun or sweetie. Forget that. Call me geezer.

And even if I can no longer reproduce, I can produce. This girl is not standing still and stagnating. She’s embracing life and her age. Piano lessons, writing classes, exercise, a blog are only a few things that gobble up my day like the Pac-Man video game from the eighties. No such thing as too late or too old to pursue dreams. And they are not to be replaced by regrets. Don’t tell me you can turn back the clock. Just help me wind it up. Don’t try to prevent old age with all your silly products, help me enjoy it! Good things that are old include wine, friends, authors, cars and not having to worry that you will die young. Forget the facelift. Do a spirit lift. Make products or treatments that make us think, motivate and feel. Give us that lit-from-within glow.

Everybody has some degree of vanity and you prey upon it. Mine is more like the bathroom variety. I’m proud of its tile top appearance, abilities to store stuff and achievements of storing more stuff. The floral drawer pulls are also exceptional. You’re so vain. You probably think this blog is about you. Don’t you?

My middle age now shows around my middle. I guess that Spanx stuff is supposed to push it up to your chest, down to your feet or into your head. Good God almighty. How am I supposed to get all this in there? Having a marshmallow middle isn’t so bad. At least you can breathe.

The turkey neck is a bit distracting. Those muscles are such slackers! Turkeys might find it attractive. I wonder if they are attracted more to double chins or triple chins. I choose to keep my chin up and remain cheerful despite my difficult neck situation. I won’t give up or give in.

Jowls. The meat of the cheeks. Does that only apply to hogs? I’ve had them for a long time. They run in the family. Makes it easy to recognize relatives…that you’ve never met or didn’t know you had. Is liposuction the treatment? Or fat grafting? Is that where they reduce your bum to stuff your slacker cheeks? Voluptuous volume. Look out chipmunks. Competition!

Wrinkles, wobbles, and white hair. That’s me. Don’t try to lure me into your spider web of products with promises to transform me into a hot babe. I’m hot enough. I live in Phoenix.

The Times You Give Yourself A good Talking To

Ok, not a popular topic. But we’ve all been there, right? Those times you had intense dislike or disgust for yourself. Maybe even hatred. Where you give yourself a good talking to over and over and over again. Or you yelled F-bomb me at the top of your lungs. Maybe it was that walk of shame after a one night fling. Or never finishing college. Throwing up out the car window after drinking Boonesberry cheap-ass wine. Forgetting who you had a date with that night. Not attending someone’s wedding that you should have, no matter what. Getting caught with your pants down. No motivation to lose that twenty pounds. Or at least exercise. Going to the wrong ROTC class all semester (true story that may come to light later).

To help you start pondering your own list, here’s what I’ve heard from very reliable sources:

  • Drinking more than three glasses of wine (that decline in energy the next day sucks. Yea, you can crawl your way through the day but someone might step on your hands.
  • Not planning well enough for retirement. Sell shit or die!
  • Under loving someone who deserved a better quality of attention from me. Can’t rectify it with the same person so I will pay it forward.
  • Forgetting to take the kleenex out of pockets before doing the wash. I had a forest of snow-flocked clothes.
  • Leaving town with hubby’s car keys. Motorcycles are not fun in the rain.
  • Not ending a friendship when I should have (like before it started).
  • Letting my mojo come and go. Hang on to that magical, supernatural luck, charm or skill.
  • Not showing gratitude to everyone that I should. Musicians, friends, family, the dog, the cat, strangers. Too late comes too soon.
  • Valuing security in certainty. Uncertainty keeps spontaneity alive.
  • Not jumping at an opportunity. The traffic lights of life give us three colors but the crossing is up to us.
  • Picking my college major because it was easy, not because it was my passion, talent, or calling. Duh!
  • Letting someone make you feel stupid. Just because something is silly, mindless and fluffy-fun doesn’t mean it’s stupid. If you’re attracted to it, it makes you smile and maybe ponder or wonder or think–it’s valid!

Did you ever forgive yourself? If you can’t forgive yourself then you can’t forgive anyone. Terrible way to go through life, isn’t it?

What’s on your list?

Safe Selfie Policy

Waaaaay back, long ago, my friends and I would occasionally squish our faces together and take a photo. Usually after a wild night of being Bacchantes, female devotees of Bacchus. Bacchus is the Roman name for Dionysus, the Greek God of Wine. We called them smoosh shots. Now they’re called selfies. Shouldn’t they be called selfishees because they’re sooooo self-centered?

Selfies are like new aliens that have landed here to take over the world. They have. Or like a big, bad virus that multiplies ad infinitum. Everybody seems to be infected. Is there treatment?

The virus started in the 1980’s with Hiroshi Ueda, an engineer with Minolta and an avid photographer and traveler.  He wanted pictures of him and his wife together. But passers-by were not to be trusted. He asked a child at the Louvre Museum in Paris to take their photo. Instead, the child ran off with the camera. And I thought my hubby was bad. When he’d see a tourist taking a group photo, he’d go stand behind the group. Now it’s called a photo bomb. So Mr. Ueda invented his extender stick. At that time, women were embarrassed to take photos of themselves (say what?) and the quality of the pictures was not good. It didn’t sell well. But it was featured in a 1995 book of “101 Un-Useless Japanese inventions”, aka chindogu. This book included stuff like funnel glasses to guide eye drops and a suitcase scooter. Amazing what people do!

So when Ueda’s patent expired, a Canadian, named Wayne Fromm, invented the selfie stick again. A “telescopic extender” was born after much-extended research with umbrellas (pun intended). From there, the entire world knocked it off. And the entire world flocked to buy it. And now we have a worldwide nuisance. It’s banned from concerts, stadiums, museums and not enough other places. I so admired the gentleman in Central Park who would sneak up on selfie stick users, destroy the stick with his bolt cutters and then run like the dickens. A modern day hero!

With regard to the term, selfie, an Australian has laid claim to inventing it. He used the word to describe a photograph taken while drunk at a 21st birthday bash. The word was named Word of the Year in 2013 by Oxford Dictionaries.

But beware!

All over the world, people trying to capture that perfect selfie are seriously injured or killed including these situations:

  • A wild herd of elephants crossing the road. The herd attacked.
  • Falling into a geyser: boiled/burned to death.
  • Climbing higher onto the parapet of a 20-story building.
  • Posing with a rattlesnake: bit!
  • Standing too close to speeding trains.
  • Falling out of trains.
  • Standing on top of a train: electrocuted by live wires.
  • Plunging off cliffs trying to capture the magnificent view.
  • Pointing a gun at their face.
  • Group selfie at the beach: swept away by a strong wave.
  • Pulling the pin on a live grenade: boom!
  • Extreme selfie: hanging from a rope from a 9-story building: rope snapped.
  • Gored by a bison at Yellowstone National Park.

In 2015, five different selfie takers provoked bison into attacking them. Bison are photo phobic? From a recent newspaper clipping: “Park officials are reminding visitors to give space to wildlife near trails, boardwalks, and other developed areas. Yellowstone is now asking visitors to adopt its Safe Selfie policy.”

What’s your Safe Selfie policy?

 

 

 

The Stars Among Us

The elderly. Baby boomers. Record number of seniors coming of age. Who is going to take care of them? Do you want to? Many will say no and rely on caregivers whether they are family members or professionals from agencies. And, of course, nobody wants to pay them. Or the very minimal at best. A wage they can’t even live on. Do you realize what they do is so important in so many ways? It’s not just the daily living skills, bathing assistance, and household help they provide. It’s that daily smile, laughs, conversation, companionship, caring or recreational activity. The stuff that feeds one’s soul. Makes them feel alive. Gives them something to look forward to. A reason to live. A reason to smile. Your senior’s well-being depends on them! And how much is that worth???

David the maintenance man: doesn’t just fix stuff. Always with a smile, he engages them in fun, lively,  conversation. He takes care of every single need in their mind. Things we consider unimportant details are like an IRS audit to seniors. Stressful until it’s taken care. David makes a special trip back to bring two batteries for remote light switches. Stress relief. Whether it’s getting their garbage to the curb for pickup, bringing back the picture on the tv, changing a lightbulb, getting the garage door to obey commands, instructions on the tv remote (or adaptations, like tape over some buttons, to meet their cognitive skill level), ensuring that emergency pull cords in the bathrooms will work if they should fall and so on. Nothing left undone. Even if it means several visits a day.

Annie the pet caregiver: doesn’t just complete her tasks and leave. She checks on the seniors to make sure they are safe and their surroundings are safe. Annie takes the time to engage that senior, making them feel special, loved, important, and worthwhile. She doesn’t have to but she does. Even if it puts her way behind schedule. That particular senior is most important at that time. She showers their pets with love, attention, and concern for their health and well-being too. She will haul them off to the vet if necessary. It’s not just the degree in zoology or her past experience working at a zoo that makes her professional. It’s her attitude, conduct and caring.

Angelik the caregiver: always a big smile with a big hug. She is there to meet their needs of the day. Whether it be a bath, grocery shopping, errands, getting that isolated senior out of the house for a meal or entertainment or maybe just listening. Which is just as important. Many seniors are depressed and lonely. Their health and mobility, and that of many friends are compromised. They see dear friends suffer. Or lose their mind. Or die. Caregivers soften those blows. Make life more manageable. Often, they are the only way for your senior to stay in their own comfortable, familiar home. Priceless.

And what about the family caregiver? It’s always just one child that steps up to the plate to take on this responsibility. The others sorta dance around it and have such great excuses for not being more involved. To you, I say: at least give your sibling regular respites of varying lengths. That’s the least you can do. Unless you have actually been there as a caregiver, you have no idea how exhausting, stressful and frustrating it can be. 24/7 worry is part of it. It chases you in your dreams.

David, Annie, and Angelik are only a few examples of the rays of sunshine that lucky seniors receive. They are stars in the sky. Breaths of fresh air. Highpoints of the day. They empower the seniors (ever so important since they have lost so much control over their own lives not to mention the uncertainty of their future).

Their job is not easy. It requires a lot of skill and knowledge to understand seniors, to have the required patience, to recognize their individual cognitive skill levels to meet their needs accordingly. And to tolerate the abuse that inherently comes with the decline in mental processes of perception, memory, judgment, and reasoning. To remain calm when they want to scream. They care for people and then find a way to care a little more.

Your seniors need these people. And so do you. More than you realize. Treat them accordingly. Value them. Honor them. Reward them. Respect them. Help them. They are to be cherished.

 

Looking At Cooking

It was burned beyond recognition. She kicked open the front door and threw the dinner (with the pan) as far as she could out into the four-foot snow. The next Spring, the pan was found clean as a whistle. This old figure of speech describes the whistling sound of a sword as it swishes through the air to decapitate someone. If dinner guests were present, she might have done that. Her anger/frustration was at level red: severe risk threat level.

And then there was the time she had eighteen Thanksgiving dinner guests. She had recently moved into this house with one office chair and a double bed. The previous home was a sailboat. Not having enough silverware or dishes to pull this off was nothing compared to the dining room construction zone that hubby created one week prior to the event. Of course. That’s what guys do. A wall was knocked out with heavy, clear plastic hanging on both sides to contain the plaster radio-active fall-out. Such a nice backdrop to the feast. She was hoping the flowers would catch the attention of her guests instead. Big flowers! It gets better. The 1957 oven with a broken door hanging by one hinge was so small that only the turkey would fit. This complicated the cooking. The cook did not need complications. Figuring out the menu itself was overwhelming, much less how to cook it. But she persevered and even made homemade cheese garlic rolls. Which she placed in the cabinet above the oven to rise. All said and done, the guests were seated and passing the food around. Soon thereafter, a guest remarks that there’s something in the rolls. The hostess said yes, there is. It’s cheese. The guest responded, “No, I think it’s saran wrap.” It was. Dolly Domestic forgot to remove it prior to baking. She immediately made the rounds with the garbage can to collect any and all well-preserved rolls. Funny? Yes. Embarrassing? Double yes. She hasn’t gotten over it. Last Thanksgiving consisted of no guests, sub sandwiches (made with turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and gravy) and binge TV. Delightful!

Let’s move on to Christmas. Girlfriends flew in to do a holiday bazaar-like baking extravaganza that became bizarre. Like peanut brittle soooooo stuck to the pan that the candy makers were whacking the pans as hard as they could on the counter edge. To no avail. She suggested that we just make the pan as part of the gift. Vetoed.  How about using the pans as baseball bats (brittle ball)? Vetoed. Never again.

Let’s turn up the heat. Guys…you’re supposed to be the masters of the holy grill. Why is it that when something is burned outside, it’s acceptable? Called “blackened”. “He’s great on the grill.” Even though you can’t recognize what you’ve just been served. Granted, grilling IS harder than cooking inside. It’s that intense, conductive heat that is the challenge. But…if she burned something that bad inside, nobody would eat it. Call for pizza!

The she is me. No more dinner disasters. No more bitching in the kitchen. No more brunch crunch. No more roux without a clue. Ad infinitum. It’s all been replaced with confidence, calm,  good-looking cooking and the joy of cooking. How? http://webcookingclasses.com  Chef Todd Mohr: passionate, hilarious, culinary school instructor whose techniques make you remember what you learned. He makes cooking fun! Lifetime Membership is the only way to go. This is the best investment I’ve ever made. You have to eat. Why not make it exceptional? And fun. I’m talking to the guys here, too. You may outnumber us in this class…

To inspire you, just a few things I learned in the very first class:

  • The only way to cook a recipe with wine is to soak the recipe in wine and burn it.
  • Method cooking versus hit or miss recipe cooking.
  • Don’t guess and gash, use a thermometer.
  • Once you learn the basic saute procedure, you can create your own recipes.
  • Recipe cooking costs more!
  • Fond is the caramelized pan drippings.
  • It’s all about heat control.  150f: gelatinization of starches

                                                  160f: coagulation of protein

        212f: evaporation of moisture

        320f: caramelization of sugars

That’s a lot of potatoes. Hungry for more? Check it out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Left Brain Right Brain Car Strain

So…everyone has heard about the left brain/right brain thing, right? The left brain is our digital brain. The one that is more organized and systematic. That works for us with reading, writing, calculating and logical thinking.

Right brain, the analog brain is more three dimensional. Creative and intuitive. Full of artistic senses.

Which one is more dominant in you? This distinction impacts your personality and decision-making. Or are they sometimes at war with each other? Your emotions are dropping bombs on your logic. Your creative side is launching missiles causing analysis paralysis. Can a truce be declared? Or must the adversaries of the brain duke it out? Neurological warfare.

Leftie knows the words to a song. Rightie knows the tune. Leftie thinks of something in words. Rightie visualizes it. Leftie depends on facts. Rightie relies on feelings. Leftie analyzes it. Rightie imagines it. Rational versus emotional. Analytical versus creative. Logic versus intuition to solve problems. Yin versus Yang.

Examples:

Car guy is at an auction and sees the car of his dreams (or shall we say the latest one). He’s salivating but calculating with caution if he should bid. Analyzing the pros and cons. All his thoughts are rushing together towards the final decision. His wife would kill him. He cannot afford this car. It’s insane to even consider it. It’s over. And then, he starts to sweat. His thoughts diverge. Right brain makes him imagine driving this machine with wild abandon. Self-control goes out the window. His wife doesn’t have to know. This is his new mistress. He’s in love! He has to have her. Sold!

Car guy finds an orphaned Bugeye Sprite looking ever so forlorn and old,  buried halfway down in the dirt alongside a house. It’s been neglected for twenty years. Left brain sees it for the wreck it is. A massive undertaking. Restore or deplore? That’s a no left brainer. Right brain, on the other hand, sees what it could look like, not what it does look like. Visualization. Imagination. Emotions take over. It sees the whole big picture. Left brain, cold and analytical, only saw the parts in minute detail. What a jerk. Or is it the adult and left brain is the child? But then there’s a struggle. Leftie claims to know everything. Rightie tells it you don’t know anything. Later, when car guy looked at a photograph of him sitting in the car, he responded with, “oh my god, look at that thing. What a pile of crap.” But then right brain took control again. He sees a beauty queen in his future. The right brain always wins with this car guy. Right is right.

Ilustration body part,human brain left and right functions, yin and yang, feminine and masculine

How about that guy (which one of you is him?) who has enough car projects for the rest of his natural life? And car parts: so many that he can’t find any! And this is after days of dumpster-diving in his garage, the attic, and every other conceivable haystack. And yet he wonders why he has no time to do ANYthing. Like relaxing for an hour. Loose lug nut whines about it. And then buys another project car. In boxes. What’s with that? Left brain or right brain making that call? Taking him hostage? Messing with his pistons. Left brain says, “now hear this: your blinkers have gone bonkers. You need a tune-up! Your bearings are not straight. Too much junk in your trunk.” Right brain is a free spirit. Right brain sees all this as art with motor skills. The more motors the better. He can move randomly from task to task versus in a sequential order. Too many cars are never a problem.

And here’s a case where left brain kicks down the door after many, many years. This is based on a recent, true conversation that hubby just had. Left brain friend says, “I’m selling stuff. I’m seventy-five years old. What am I going to do with it? I have carburetors, a Bentley, Alfas (several and he just sold two), too many other cars, projects and boxes and boxes of parts. What do you need?” Right brain hubby’s reply: everything that’s not running. Oh boy, I’m in trouble!