The Way I See It
The Way I See It: Everything tastes better late at night
- Monday, 27 May 2013
By John Burns, Contributing Columnist:
Are you like me? Late at night, long after I should not even think of having something to eat, I will search for food as if I had not had anything to eat all day. I have been known to stand for several minutes just holding the refrigerator door open, staring inside as if something will suddenly jump out and say: “Try me, try me."
And the way I see it is, for whatever reason, everything seems to taste better late at night. I say this because I have been known to eat things during these forages that I would probably not eat at any other time. As an example, a few nights ago I wrapped a cold hot dog with a piece of cheese and wolfed it down. You are probably saying to yourself: “Yuk!" But it didn’t taste all that bad. (Of course the mustard I dipped it in helped.)
Why do I eat such stuff? I wish I knew. I have wondered if it had something to do with the moon. Could there be some sort of lunar spell that gives me a sudden desire for strange things to eat? Probably not.
To me a much more plausible theory is that my late night hunger forays are closely intertwined with watching television. I am not sure if this happens to you, but when I sit down to watch a movie or late night television show along about the first commercial I start to get hungry?
Why does this happen? After extensive research I have developed this theory. It is the commercials.
If you care to count them you will find that after ten o’clock at night three out of five television commercials have something to do with food. In case you are wondering, the others are pretty evenly spread between car sales and pills for us men of age that are aimed at….how shall I say this…rekindling certain urges.
My downfall is the food commercials. They make me hungry. And this brought-on-by-food-commercials-hunger makes food that I would not other-wise eat that late, or for that matter at all, seem downright irresistible.
That’s what led me to the hot dog wrapped in cheese.
A commercial came on about cheese burgers and chili dogs. I know we have nothing like that in the house so that was as close as I could get to what I just saw advertised.
Another commercial led me to finishing off most of a container of pimento cheese and about half a box of snack crackers.
Now you might think that makes sense. Pimento cheese on a cracker is a great snack. And you are right, that is if you like pimento cheese. I usually don’t. But that night you would have thought it was my favorite food of all time.
Of course, the next morning I paid the price for that particular foray. I woke up to my stomach saying: “You ate what? The whole container full? And you expect me to act normal? Not a chance.”
And as if the digestive pain I am in is not enough then come the questions.
"Why did you eat all the pimento cheese?", the LSW (Long Suffering Wife) asked. "You don’t even like it."
You see pimento cheese is her favorite thing to make a sandwich from to take to work.
"Why would you eat the Pimento Cheese? There is so much other stuff in the refrigerator to choose from," she continued.
The best I can do is wave my hand in the air in a sort of apologetic way as I lay in the pre-natal position on the bed, wondering why I can’t die when I really want to.
Why do I eat things on these late night binges that I would not usually eat?
The only answer I can come up with is that, for whatever reason, everything seems to taste better late at night. Maybe my taste buds go to sleep around nine o’clock. I don’t know. Certainly my common sense does.
Take last night for instance. I enjoyed some very tasty home made oatmeal raisin cookies with a glass of white wine. The optimum words are “last night I enjoyed”. Today….not so much.
But there is hope for me and my “everything tastes better late at night” cravings. I think I might have found a way to kick this habit or at least get it under control.
I have made this solemn vow which I think of as like adding an 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt not eat anything while watching late night television no matter how tempting the food commercials are.”
Only time will tell how good I am at keeping this one. If my track record on the original ten is any indication, I have some work to do.
More from John Burns on the Tribune:
The Way I See It: Things that make you ask 'Why?'
- Friday, 17 May 2013
By John Burns, Contributing Columnist:
The way I see it, there are things that happen to all of us from time to time that make us ask the question: “Why?” I am sure we all have several we could name, but for me there is one that has been troubling me for some time now. And that question is: “Wherever I park my pick-up, why do others park right next to me?”
You may be thinking: “So what’s the question? Parking lots are made to park in and the fact others park beside your vehicle is no big deal.”
And you would be right except for one little thing. I seldom park close to where I am going. And no matter how many parking spaces are open around me, others decide that the space right next to mine is where they need to park.
Now for a while I thought there must be some sort of a magnetic field around my pickup that drew other vehicles to it. For even if I park as far away from a store as I can get, nine times out of ten when I come out, in the space right next to mine is a vehicle.
If I parked right in front of a store or in a parking space that is near to a store that would be an expected thing. Others are going to want to park in these kind of “prime” spaces as well. And when I do, I expect to come out of the store and have other vehicles parked beside me.
But it is when I park way out in a lot nowhere near the best parking space and nowhere near the front of the store only to come out and find someone parked in the very space beside me is when I begin to ask the question: “Why?”
This has been happening to me for some time now. Take this weekend for example.
On Saturday morning, I went to the farmers market here in Travelers Rest. It is at the spot of the old high school and there is a very large parking lot available. As I usually do, I chose a space quite a distance away from where the market was set up.
I have to admit that I counted, and there were sixteen spaces between me and the nearest car on one side, and many more than that on the other. It was like I was parked there not for the farmers market but for some other reason.
I went to the market and walked around, buying a couple of things here and there. I was there maybe a half-hour total. As I walked back to my pickup truck, parked in a space right beside mine, was another pickup truck. I counted again and there were 14 spaces that would have been closer. “Why?”
A little later that same day, I drove to a local supermarket to pick up a few groceries. I parked so far out from the store that it was hard to tell if I was even shopping in any of the businesses there.
When I came out and began the long walk to my pickup there, in a space right beside it, is another pick-up. “Why?”
“Okay,” I am thinking. “Apparently the pickup is what is attracting them. After all, it is red and you know how people are drawn to red vehicles.”
So I decided the next time I headed out to a store, I would take the LSW’s (Long Suffering Wife’s) car.
It is white and really, other than it is paid for and all mine, has nothing very attractive about it. It even looks like a lot of other cars. “Surely,” I said to myself, “it won’t be as attractive to park beside as, apparently, my truck is.”
But as the old saying goes, looks aren’t everything!
On Sunday, I went to Lowe’s to get some things for the garden. I was in the white car and purposefully parked as far away from the store as I can. I counted ten parking spaces between me and the nearest vehicle on one side. I was in the last spot in that row, so there was no place on the other side of me to park.
I was in the store maybe twenty-minutes, and when I come out I couldn’t believe it.
Parked in the space right next to me was another car. There were nine other spots to choose from, all closer to the store, but no. Whoever this was decided they needed to park right next to me. “Why?”
I got home and was telling my LSW about it, wondering out loud as to why this happens to me. She smiled in that way she has and said: “Now, now dear. I think you are just imagining things”.
Yeah, she's like that.
So now I have a dilemma. If it is not the pickup that’s attracting them, then it must be me. So here is what I have decided to do.
Next time this happens I am going to just wait in my vehicle for the person or persons who have decided no matter how far away from the store it might be, the best place for them to park is in the space right next to mine. When they get to their vehicle, I am going to ask them this question: “Not that I really mind or anything, but of all the spaces there were available to park, why would you choose to park right next to mine?”
I will let you know what they say. As for me, I can’t wait to know the answer.
(Photo via stock.xchng.)
The Way I See It: My grandfather’s cabin
- Sunday, 21 April 2013
By John Burns, Contributing Columnist:
The way I see it, most of us have a special place of which we have fond memories. It will be different depending upon where you grew up, but for me, a city boy, it was when I got to go spend time in my grandfather’s cabin.
My grandfather was a builder, a carpenter by trade. I used to marvel at the things he could build. He built the home he lived in as well as most of the furniture that was in the home, and I remember being in awe at the fact that he could build such things. Looking back now, I wish had paid more attention on those times when I got to go with him to his workshop where he would try his best to teach me what he knew.
As a young boy I was so much into sports that if you could not throw, hit or kick it, I wasn’t much interested.
But as great an example of his ability as a craftsman that the house and furniture were, for me the best thing that he ever built was a small cabin that sat on a bluff overlooking a river. Yes, it was just as picturesque as you are thinking. The cabin was just one big room, with beds on one side and a kitchen/dining area on the other.
The bluff behind the cabin was fairly steep, but my grandfather had carved out some steps to help get up and down. And at the bottom of these steps was a dock where he kept a small row boat that he used for fishing. The dock was also a great place to jump into the river. It was where I learned to swim.
When I tell my grandchildren about swimming in the river they say, “but how could you swim in such yukky water”, no doubt thinking of how the Reedy River looks these days. And while I am sure it was not the most pristine of environments, the river, which ran about five or six feet of depth by the dock, was really fairly clear.
Besides, even if the water was a bit murky at times, we didn’t worry as much back then about the kinds of health issues that we get bombarded with today. If we had, then we probably would not have drunk from the tin cup that hung on the pump handle of the well out in the front of the cabin. I am sure that cup had more than just a hint of the “great outdoors” in it, but the water from the well was so cold you never noticed.
The cabin was a little bit of heaven for a young boy growing up. It was a place where you could hunt, fish, swim and hike trails from the time you got up until time the time you went to bed. But it was also a place that taught you a lot about what is important in life. Because if you wanted “it”, then you had to do “it” yourself to make it happen – whatever that “it” might be.
You pumped water to drink, cook and bathe (not the same water, of course). You split wood to feed the cooking stove and, if it got cool at night, the pot-bellied stove that stood in the middle of the cabin to keep warm. Although we always brought groceries with us, you caught fish, hunted rabbit, squirrel, quail and about anything else you could find to eat. You gathered wild berries for a treat.
There was no “indoor plumbing”. It was about 20-yards to the outhouse, and you learned quickly to open the door carefully just to be sure you would be the only occupant. There was no electricity, but there were oil lamps. If you wanted to keep something cold you either tied it to a piece of fishing line and kept it in the river or lowered it down into the well. A bath consisted of warming some water in a bucket and pouring it over your self.
On those trips to my grandfather’s cabin I learned a lot. Maybe more than learning to appreciate what I did not have, I learned to appreciate what I did have at the cabin. And what I did have were lessons for living a full and enjoyable life.
For it was at the cabin that I began to understand what it meant to be self-reliant. I began to learn the value of being alone with your thoughts and to appreciate the gift of solitude. I developed an appreciation for the quietness of hikes through the woods and taking the row boat out on the river. But maybe most important, I began to understand that the work I put in each day to have such basic’s as water to drink and food to eat was well worth the time spent doing it.
Of all the memories, one of my favorite is when it rained. The front porch was covered with a tin roof ,and I will never forget the sound the rain made. My grandfather and I would just sit and rock and listen. I loved those moments. And to this day, when it is raining, I can still hear that sound the rain drops made.
The cabin is long gone now. The river it sat just above is but a trickle of what it once was. And yet, if you look closely, you can still see some of the dock that was my jumping-off spot to swim. The last time I saw it, I smiled.
I began this column by saying that most of us have enjoyed special places in our lives. And though at times they may seem long gone, if we look closely, there is usually something of them still there for us to enjoy.
That piece of dock reminded me of that. For as I stood there looking at it, the memories came flooding back, and my grandfather’s cabin was once again the special place it had always been.
(Photo via stock.xchng.)
The Way I See It: A game called 'Trust'
- Friday, 03 May 2013
By John Burns, Contributing Columnist:
The way I see it is, if we allow ourselves to take the time to do so, we can learn a lot from watching children at play. That was never more apparent than on a recent visit with our daughter's “Fab-Five” as I call them.
They played a game called “Trust”, and here is how it is played. It can be played by two, but three or more is a better number. The rules are simple and easy to follow.
One of the children goes into a room, usually the living room or family room, and sets up the room with obstacles. They can be whatever is in that room normally, such as chairs, sofas, end tables, coffee tables and ottomans. All pieces are moved and set up so as to form sort of a maze to be navigated through.
Once the room is set up and having not seen it before hand, one of the other children is blindfolded and a third is selected to lead the blindfolded one through the maze.
You are probably saying: “Well, that will not be that hard to do.” Under normal circumstances maybe, but in this game the one leading can only give commands. They cannot take the hand of the one who is blindfolded or in any way guide them through the maze, except by verbal commands.
These commands can be such things as: “Take two steps forward then stop. Now, turn to your left and take three steps forward then stop. Turn back to your right and take two small steps to your right and stop. Now take four side-steps to your left and stop. Now turn to your right and take three small steps and stop.”
The simpler the commands that are given the better.
It took a little time for the two children to develop commands that were easily understood to get around the obstacles, but after a few missteps and some trial and error, the blindfolded child was led successfully through the maze.
And as I watched, the key to this success became very clear to me. Since neither person had seen the room after it was set up, both had to trust each other. The one blindfolded had to trust that whatever obstacles might be there, the commands they were being given would take them safely through. The one giving the commands had to do so in a way that gave the blindfolded person confidence they were being guided safely around and through these unseen obstacles.
Now I know it might sound like it would be fun to allow the blindfolded person to fall over an ottoman or bump into the back of a sofa. As I watched the game unfold, my sense of humor allowed such thoughts to occur to me. But when that happens, the trust factor becomes less and less to the one who cannot see. Instead of following the commands, they become hesitant or start reaching out to feel their way.
And that pretty much defeats the purpose of the game. So the one hard and fast rule became that you never purposefully guided the one blindfolded into an obstacle. The lesson learned was that the only way trust can be earned is by doing the right thing and getting them through the maze safely.
As I watched the game progress I began to realize that “Trust” is a game that is not only fun to play, but it's also a game that teaches some wonderful life lessons. Three that came to my mind were:
1. How to follow directions without question.
2. How to lead someone who is totally dependent upon you.
3. How to rely on someone besides yourself.
At their age, really at any age, these are good lessons to learn.
And there is a great side benefit. To really be good at the game you need to know how the person you are guiding reacts. For example, how far is a step to them?
In giving the person you are guiding directions if you say “small steps” or “regular steps”, do the steps they take follow your commands or all they all the same length? It took a few trials and errors for that to happen, but once it did, guiding them through became easier for both individuals involved.
And once you do it a few times and really begin to know each other, you can go through most any maze without ever touching any of the obstacles. Because the first time or two you go through it, there will be the occasional “your other left”, which means the person blindfolded turned right by mistake. Or you tell them to take two small steps forward and they take bigger steps then you had envisioned.
But as one of the children said: “When this happens you can always yell out STOP!”
We can, indeed, learn a lot from children. As I watched them play “Trust”, I saw so much more than children playing nice together. I saw a bond begin to form in their relationships with each other that I know will carry over to other times when trust is needed in their lives.
So, how about it? Are you ready to play? On that next rainy day, when the kids have “nothing to do”, set up a room, give the rules and try it. It won’t go perfect the first time or two, but if you work at it, something special will happen.
You will find, as I did, that a game called “Trust” more than lives up to its name.
The Way I See It: Accepting each other 'as is'
- Friday, 29 March 2013
By John Burns, Contributing Columnist:
The way I see it is, the key to developing a lasting relationship with one another is to learn to accept each other “as is”. It's not that easy to do at times. And as an example, consider the dilemma of the porcupine.
The North American porcupine is not what you would classify among your top-ten cuddly animals. In fact, its Latin name, which I think is pronounced “stickus-ouches” means “the irritable back”. What makes the porcupine hard to love is that it has around 30,000 quills that are attached to its body. There is no way to pick it up or hold it without getting hurt.
For this reason the porcupine is generally not regarded as a loveable animal. Not many stores carry stuffed porcupines for children to buy and play with or cuddle up to at nap time. And they get no respect at all. There have been books written and movies made about dogs, horses, pigs, bears, dolphins, killer whales and spiders. Even the skunk has a loveable cartoon character.
But sadly, there is no book or movie that has a porcupine as its hero. If only Peter Parker had been zapped by a porcupine rather than a spider we could have had “Porcupine Man”. “Stop thief, don’t make me turn my back on you.” But, alas, it's not so, and so the porcupine is pretty much ignored.
While the quills on the porcupine’s back are there for protection, they also create some relationship problems. One reason is that the porcupine has just two methods for handling relationships: attack or retreat. They either stick out their quills or head for the nearest tree to climb. As a result, they have few friends and are pretty much loners.
And yet, like all of us, they don’t always want to be alone. In the late autumn of the year a young porcupine’s thoughts turn to romance. But finding love turns out to be kind of tricky and more than a bit risky.
Female porcupines are open for dinner, a movie and a good bottle of wine only once a year. For the male porcupine, his window of opportunity if you will, closes pretty quickly, and the female’s “not tonight” is maybe the ultimate turndown of all the animal world.
This, then, is the porcupine’s dilemma. How to develop a relationship, even with another porcupine, without getting hurt.
And this is our dilemma as well. Those we want to develop a relationship with may not have quills we can see, but they are there nonetheless.
So in this column I want to suggest a way to minimize the risk and at least have the opportunity to start a relationship. It is harder to do then it sounds. We have to work at it, but anything worth achieving has a little risk involved.
For me there are two words that make a relationship work. They are small words but very powerful words. Those two words are: “as is”.
Warts and all become acceptable when we are willing to take each other “as is”.
We have all shopped at stores that have a section of merchandise marked down. There is something irregular about them – a flaw, a missing part, a zipper that won’t zip, something that isn’t perfect. And here is the tricky part. The store won’t tell you what it is. You have to look for yourself, and it is sometimes not until you get it home that you find what isn’t perfect.
We face the same kind of section in our everyday lives. When we meet others, we are in the “as is” section of our world. If you think about it, most everyone we know is what you might call “slightly irregular”. Most of you ladies reading this column are nodding your heads about now as they think of who they married.
But don’t nod too long or too hard. All of us, you see, are somewhat irregular. That is why we need to accept those we spend time with, whether at work, at play or at home, just as they come.
When we reach that “as is” level of expectations with others, then we are on the right track for something good to happen. And then miracle of miracles, relationships begin to form. We suddenly find that we have so much in common that we would have never known had we not accepted the other person “as is”.
This can happen for us if we allow it to happen. It can even for a porcupine.
We left our quilled friend alone and in need of companionship, so let me share with those who are wondering how that story ends.
Every now and then a porcupine will share space with another and become friends. They keep their barbs to themselves and figure out a way to get together at least long enough to make sure there is another generation. They stand on their hind-feet and touch paws in the so-called “dance of the porcupines”. They pull in their quills, accept each other “as is”, and therein begin a close relationship.
What works for the lonely porcupine can also work for us. When we pull in our quills, keep our barbs to ourselves and stop looking for perfection, it is amazing what happens.
And that amazing thing is we discover the delight in accepting each other “as is”.
More from John Burns on the Tribune:
(Photo via Wikipedia.)