Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Making Stuff Up

Not fake news, if that’s what you’re thinking this is about. I believe fake news is created by malicious, evil people. Such stories, like the so-called Pizzagate conspiracy theory – about Hillary Clinton  being involved in child trafficking in a Washington, D.C. pizzeria – are manufactured by an evil person’s sick mind, a person who wishes to harm others.

Nope, I like to make things up in the kitchen. The only harm that can possibly do is to ruin someone’s dinner. Usually I make things up when I haven’t planned a meal and have to make do with the materials on hand.  Although such meals turn out so-so – edible but certainly not memorable – once in a blue moon one turns out to be a family favorite, and that’s the one this is about.

This made-up dish is called Kielbasa Stir-Fry. It is best served with mashed potatoes, but rice also works. Everybody loves it and people sometimes comment how the flavors all complement each other. It has only three ingredients and, once everything is chopped, it's easy to make.

Kielbasas Stir Fry

For each kielbasa use two onions and two sweet red peppers. I use half a kielbasa, one onion, and one red pepper to feed two people.

Cut the onions into quarter-inch half moons. Cut the red pepper into quarter-inch slices. Heat a skillet or wok over medium heat with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chopped ingredients to the hot oil and stir to coat them. Cover with a lid. Remove the lid and stir the ingredients every 3 minutes or so. When the vegetables are soft and the sausage slices begin to brown, it’s done.

Make the mashed potatoes and serve it up.

P.S. The photo misrepresents the ratio of sausage to vegetables. Sorry I don't have a more representative batch to photograph.

Copyright 2017 by Shirley Domer

Sunday, June 18, 2017


Remember that hokey movie device where calendar pages flit away to show the passage of time? Recently I’ve had a recurring mental image of that same device going in reverse – pages rapidly reattaching to the calendar.

And that’s how I feel now, as if my life were going backwards to a much earlier decade in our country. Laws and regulations are abolished so rapidly my head swims. If the House of Representatives has its way, there will be no restraints on making a buck when it hurts masses of other people. Dodd-Frank will be down the tubes. Discrimination in our schools – that’s okay now. Mandatory sentencing will be enforced! We must keep our private prisons operating at capacity. Is a big hunk of Antarctica’s ice shelf about to break completely off and float away like a giant ice cube? Gosh, maybe someone can make a profit on that.

The list could go on, but I’m sick of thinking of all of the daily insults to our common sense and the common good, I want Bernie, a true man of the people, and a dammed smart one. When I think of his campaign, I get pissed off all over again. Why didn’t our major newspapers and other media give him decent coverage? The truth ­– and Bernie tells it – is that millions of ordinary people are being massively ripped off by our wealthiest citizens.

All of this has made me extremely cranky and outspoken. I don’t know what might save me, but my hope is that the Millennials will wake up, speak up, and vote! Without their participation, all of our rights will be lost. The calendar is rapidly flying backwards.

*Perpetually Pissed-Off.

Copyright 2017 by Shirley Domer

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Along the Country Roads

This journal isn’t about my personal life, but I must offer a brief explanation of my absence. We arrived back in Kansas the second week in April, but I’ve been occupied with reconnecting with doctors, dentists, and friends. I’ve also had cataracts removed from both eyes. Then, when I was all set to write, I carelessly downloaded malmare. I had to shut the machine down and wait several days for the technician to clean it up.

While waiting, I started giving the house a thorough dusting. I felt quite virtuous  and was about to start working in the living room when Dennis suggested a Sunday afternoon drive. I dropped my dust cloth like a hot potato and set out on the road that exits our rural subdivision.

Then we headed along the country roads south of out house. We sit atop one of the many ridges that stretch north and south of Lawrence, home to forests that snake along hillsides and creek valleys as well as what must have been prairie before settlers disrupted the landscape with plows and fences.

Our meandering route took us past a local landmark: the quarter-house.

About fifty years ago a man from Kansas City bought this piece of land, built a garage and put up a tool shed, and then started building a house as a surprise for his wife. When he showed it to her, she declared, “I will never live here.” Somewhat daunted but determined, he finished the part he had started and declared it his weekend getaway. Both he and his wife have no doubt passed on, but here the quarter-house stands today a testament to their story.

Soon, we came upon an Angus bull and his harem. When we stopped, he threatened us by lowering his head, snorting, and pawing the ground. He didn’t seem to care that a fence separated us, nor that his butt was covered with his own poop.

The next bull and his harem behaved quite differently. They simply turned away and moved farther into their wooded pasture. Different breed, different temperament, I assume.

Atop the next ridge we found prairie phlox and  antelope horn milkweed blooming next to a fence made with Osage orange fence posts. The posts have been there for decades and will last many more.

The climax of our drive was seeing a 40-acre prairie remnant abloom with thousands of prairie phlox and a few scattered white penstemon. This photo gives just a hint of its scope.

Life in the country is good and it's good to be back.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Be Back Soon

I’ve been in Tucson for more than two weeks now. Arizona and Kansas are so different in many ways for me. In Kansas I am rather isolated in the country, while here I am in mid-town Tucson, part of a four-person intergenerational family. In Kansas the nearest grocery store is twenty minutes away, but here I can get to Sprouts Farmers Market in just three minutes. Although a million people live in this area, midtown gives me access to everything I need within the neighborhood. There’s even a crematorium not far from our house, just in case.

I can’t write in my Chicken Creek Journal while I’m in Tucson because the two places are so radically different. Today I’m switching to my other journal, Tucson Off and On, to record my alternate reality. I hope to be back here in April 2017, assuming I won't need to patronize the neighborhood crematorium in the meantime.

Before we left Kansas, Dennis hung old quilts over our uncurtained front windows. 

Copyright 2016 by Shirley Domer

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Be Here Now, in Peace

All through November I meant to write in my journal about peppers, but it didn’t happen. I was preoccupied with attempting to weave my way through the maze of arranging for an infusion of my rheumatoid arthritis drug in Tucson on November 23. The treatment must be administered every eight weeks, so if that

We had planned to leave Kansas for Tucson on November 1. Having started packing in mid-October, we were living with half-packed banker’s boxes in every room. I was buying just enough fresh produce for a day at a time.

After numerous phone calls spread out through three weeks to both of my rheumatologists – one in Topeka, one in Tucson – I finally admitted defeat and delayed departure until I could get an infusion in Topeka.

This preoccupation with the future kept me from living in the moment. If only I had been able to follow that old Hippie slogan “be here now” (a principle shared with Buddhism and other peaceful, meditative religious) I would have written about the marvel of having thriving pepper plants on October 31, laden with ripening peppers. Our average freeze date is much earlier than that.

Finally, on November 13, we harvested the peppers after a freeze the night before.

I loved looking at the various shapes and colors. They are all peppers, but they vary in characteristics that define them as pimento, yellow bell, jalapeno, and so on.  Sometimes those of us who save seeds for next year find a few surprises when we discover that two varieties have crossed to produce a different pepper altogether.

People are like peppers. Some of us have dark skins, some light; some hold to one religion while some have other beliefs. We vary in many ways, but we are all people, easily distinguishable from apes and kangaroos. Sometimes people of different varieties cross, and produce a beautiful child. 

I wish we could just all get along, like the pepper plants in our garden, happily co-existing.

Copyright 2016 by Shirley Domer