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Saturday, September 30, 2017

**REVIEW** Black Tea 4 brands

A bit about tea

I always knew how to choose my coffee to get the strongest brews. I would look for a Dark Roast and avoid Breakfast or Medium and Mild roasts. With tea, I have only gotten as far as knowing that a good Breakfast blend is what I like best. I only recently learned to avoid Earl Grey blends (because of the bergamot), but I'm still getting the hang of tea. If you're in the same boat, check out this article to get started. If you just want to get some basic facts and quick-glance info, you want to go here.

I get my tea online or at a local grocery, but I did find this website that has reasonable prices. If you don't want to buy there, you can at sort and define what types of tea you might like. I will probably check out some of their offerings. If I do, I will let you know how it goes.

Don't forget to check out my reviews of Lapsang Souchong (smoked) tea. You can find the series here:


Teas I reviewed:

I finished trying out the Lapsang Souchong teas I was given to try. It was fun, but I'm glad to be back to my non-smoked black teas.

Because black tea is something I drink on a regular basis, I already had 2 brands around when I was thinking of doing this review. When it was time to replenish my tea pantry, I tried 2 other brands so that I would have more to review.

Before I even get going, let me mention that I love doing reviews. A while back I was offered a chance to try a cast iron teapot - a Tetsubin. I'd never heard of such a thing and, when I did some quick research, I was really interested in the offer, but... Ha. Being me, I wanted one that wasn't enameled. I didn't get a choice in anything except the color so I went ahead and accepted one that had interior enamel. Here it is, in case you are like me and had never heard of these before. I will do a review on it later.



Anyway, back to the tea!

There are some very important things for me to consider when choosing a tea:
  • Flavor I hate a weak tea more than I hate weak coffee.
  • Price/Value (That should have been the first on this list!)
  • Availability
I reviewed the following teas:
  • Tetley 80 count for $3.18 (or 0.04 per serving)
  • PG Tips 40 count for $.4.28 (0.11 per serving)
  • Bigelow 20 count for $2.48 (0.12 per serving)
  • Great Value/Walmart 100 count for $1.94 (0.02 per serving)
I was introduced to tea when I was married to a Brit and living on his turf in England. At the time, I never gave tea (or the husband) a real chance. I mostly bitched and moaned about how hard it was to find a decent grind of coffee. It wasn't until I moved away from Alaska back in June that I began drinking so much tea. I still have my coffee pot, a can of Cafe Bustelo and some Green Mountain pods, all getting dusty. Tea is cheaper. At least, it is if you find the right brand. And here we go...

Tetley 

"Tetley" just sounds so veddy British, doesn't it? Anyway, you could go over and read the little backstory about the two brothers who started the brand if you want. I just want to talk about how I love the tea.
In case you go looking for it at the store
I give this tea an A++ for flavor and aroma.

If you sniff a bag, this tea doesn't seem like it's going to be any different from any other decent brand. That's what I thought. But there really is something about that bag design that makes a great cup of tea!

I only noticed it when I was using the tea for the first time, but I didn't give it much thought. Until I saw how the bag sort of helped the infusion of tea into the hot water. Then I tasted the tea and was blown away. Now, remember, Bigelow has been my preferred tea for all this time. Tetley certainly gives Bigelow a run for the money. (Also, I think it's cool that Tetley is part of the Ethical Tea Partnership.

The one thing I don't like is that the bags are not individually sealed and the box just has a normal closing type lid. For freshness, I put the bags into a sandwich baggie.

An 80-count box is $3.18 (.04 per serving) online at Walmart. Also, I tested how well the bag did when I re-used it. It passed with flying colors. I didn't make a full cup with the used bag but it made a good half cup of tea. (Hey, you never know when you're going to get low on fresh tea!)

As far as availability, I had trouble finding it in most of the local stores that carry a decent variety of teas. On the other hand, I was able to get it at that great price via Walmart.com.

Flavor ★★★★★
Price ★★★★★
Availability ★★★★☆


PG Tips


This is a tea that I was only vaguely familiar with. Once I saw the box, it seemed like I should know the brand but I don't recall ever having had it. Oh well, it's apparently a pretty popular tea according to customer reviews at the Amazon and Walmart sites.


When I brewed this for the first time, I noticed that the inside of the bag gets really foamy while steeping.


See what I mean? That's a cup of Tetley brewing on the left. You can see how foamy the PG Tips bag is The bag is more a pyramid design than a regular paper tea bag.


Of course, because it's paper, the bag doesn't hold shape as well as some of the other pyramid bags I've seen, but I like that it is paper.

It didn't seem to affect the flavor, but I thought the PG Tips would be stronger in the end. It wasn't. It brews slightly less robust than the Tetley, but it still makes a great cup of tea.

I like the Tetley better just because it brews stronger with less steeping time. I didn't even bother trying to re-use this one.


So, while I enjoyed this tea and wouldn't be unhappy if it was the only choice, I can't rave as much about the flavor or the price.

Like with the other teas, it was easily found online but not so much in our local stores.

A 40-count box was $4.28 (0.11/serving) at Walmart.com.
Flavor ★★★★☆
Price ★★★☆☆
Availability ★★★★☆



Bigelow

This has been a favorite since I started seriously drinking tea. It is so flavorful and I like that the bags are individually packaged. It's the one tea on this list that I can find at almost every local store.


make sure to read the history on the box panel

I have to be careful when I go out to buy this tea. Once, I accidentally got the wrong flavor and I hated it.


 The one on the left - the blue one - is the one I love. That other one, in silver, that one has oil of bergamot in it. I do love bergamot - as a scent and as a hair and skin treatment, but not in my tea!

So, this one is the one I love.



 Here's the thing, Bigelow is the priciest of the bunch. It's right up there behind PG Tips. Tetley tastes just as good - maybe even better - and it's one of the lower priced of the teas I tried. A 20 count box of Bigelow cost me $2.48 (0.12/serving). The one thing that might tempt me to buy Bigelow instead of Tetley is that I can find Bigelow in the local stores. I don't have to drive 8 miles to Walmart either - or order online - because the store 5 blocks away keeps it in stock.

I will get Bigelow in a pinch, but I plan to be smart and always have some of the better priced Tetley on hand.

Flavor ★★★★★
Price ★★☆☆☆
Availability ★★★★★

Great Value
(Walmart) Brand

Okay, folks, you know that I had to try this one. First, it is a Walmart brand and Walmart is I take my broke behind to do most of my shopping. Second, I had always seen this in the stores but never picked up a box. I don't know why. Maybe because I was so much more into coffee then.

I know that some people look down their noses at Walmart items, but I usually like the Great Value brand. The coffee is almost as good as the Yuban I used to favor and I will often save some pennies by opting for the GV brand of cleaners and other miscellaneous products. I figured the tea would be a decent as the coffee.

Anyway, you can see that this comes in a large quantity:


100 bags of tea.

Yeah. When it was delivered with the other teas, it took up most of the space. Or maybe that's because I decided it would be thrifty to stock up on such a great value...It wasn't.

 There's a reason the tea is priced so cheap. When this tea is steeping, there is zero aroma. The taste was so flat and bland that I had to spit it out. Since there were 100 bags to a box (and since I ordered four boxes... ~sigh~) I tried using two bags. Well, that didn't help. All I got was twice the blandness.

After I slapped myself for over-ordering this tea, I had an idea. Guess what? The one way this tea can be used it for an iced beverage. I tested this out by steeping a couple of bags for as long as possible - to suck out as much, um, flavor as possible - and still ended up with a very light brew that was perfect for pouring over ice. The only problem is, I'm not an iced tea drinker. I ended up giving all this tea to my brother and his family. They love iced tea.



Even the bags are cheaply made. Just about every time I tried to pull a bag from the envelope, either the tag tore loose or the string came off. Ugh. I finally managed to get a bag loose to get the photo.

I was so unimpressed with this tea that I wanted to double check that it actually was tea. 

Whatever.

The 100 count was $1.94 (0.02/serving), but the lack of flavor and the fact that even doubling up on the bags didn't help... Well, this one was a failure.

Flavor ★☆☆☆☆
Price ★★☆☆☆
Availability ★★★★★

This got the 1 star for flavor since it can be used (by some people) as an iced tea. I can't give any better rating to the price because Tetley is one one of my top faves for flavor and is also only slightly more expensive.

Bottom Line

I think that Tetley is my new all-time favorite. It tastes great, the price is perfect, and I can keep stocked up if I order up online before I'm almost out. Bigelow is my next favorite, but that price has to come down.

Just to give you a last look:

The winner, once again, is Tetley. 

This was a fun review to do. I was already drinking tea so I just had to switch them up cup by cup. Also, this was a nice break from working on the book. I will come back and do updates on any health benefits I'm experiencing but I already think that I am losing weight due to tea. My blood pressure has been so good lately that it's scared me! Don't know yet if that due to the tea or just a change in lifestyle and the lower stress levels. At any rate, I hope you like the review and maybe learned a little something about tea.

By the way, if there are any tea drinkers out there who are reading this, please let me know if you have favorite black tea. I'd love to try new ones.

Peace
--Free

**REVIEW** Lapsang Souchong Tea (Pt 1 Twinings Brand)

When I first heard of "smoked" teas, I wasn't sure what to expect. It just sounds like such an interesting idea for a tea to be smoke flavored, doesn't it? And it's not just the flavor either, these teas are actually infused with smoke. Part of the tea-drying process is done over a pinewood fire. Honestly though, when I was sampling these teas, I couldn't tell it was pinewood, just that it was smoky.

individual packaging is nice


Twinings brand flavor and aroma:

This one was actually the stronger brew of the three smoked teas I tried. The aroma was not the strongest or weakest of the 3. That was nice because, to me, the smoky scent can be off-putting when strong.. I did prefer the aroma strength of another brand.

Another thing I noticed with this one over the other 2 brands is that it had a smoother feel on the tongue and the taste lingered in a not-unpleasant way.

One thing I personally didn't like is the appearance. After adding my cream, it looked weak (it wasn't) and more like a watery coffee from than a good black tea. I'm so influenced by visuals that this put a damper on the experience.







Bottom line:

 This wasn't bad. I give it 3 of 5 stars. I can put it right smack in the middle of the 3 teas I tried. I wouldn't run out to buy this one again, but I wouldn't mind if it's the one smoked tea I had on hand.









By the way, I gave my brother some Lapsang to try and he fell in love with the smell. Different strokes, I guess. I will end up giving him most of the rest of these teas when I finish the reviews.

Peace
--Free

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

**Upcoming REVIEWS** Lapsang Souchong (and other) Tea


Bye Coffee Why

Long-time readers of this blog know that I love coffee. In the past few months, though, I've been loving it too much so I decided to cut back a lot. I'm having problems with anxiety and restlessness and drinking so much coffee doesn't help. Also, since I don't smoke like I used to, coffee is the enemy because drinking coffee makes me think of cigarettes!

Anyway, instead of coffee, coffee, coffee, I've switched almost completely over to black tea. I'm finding that, even though tea can be highly caffeinated, it doesn't trigger my nerves. It actually seems to calm me down a bit.

My all-time favorite tea is...

but not the kind with bergamot oil! Ugh!
                                                       
I big-a-love my Bigelow! (Minus the bergamot. Not so crazy about that.)

I love this tea so much that I can sometimes drink it without any kind of sweetener. Sometimes. I do love to add my own creamer-sweetener (see below to recipe), but that's because I need my sugar! The thing is, Bigelow's can be out of my budget sometimes and I have to use a store brand. What I find is that store brand tea is usually weak and flavorless. Ugh.

I recently got the chance to try a new (to me) kind of tea called Lapsang Souchong. (Yeah, I had to copy/paste that one!)

So, what is Lapsang Souchong?

My brain is lazy today so...
There ya go

I will refer to this tea as L.S.

I read several stories about how this tea came to be. One is that while some warrior and his crew were  in the middle of a battle, they brewed tea one night around a campfire. The teas became flavore by the smoke from the fire and... voila. There a other stories I won't go into, but it's aslo said that this particular tea is the first black tea in history.

When I was told about this tea having a "smoky" flavor, I almost passed on it. Every Google search came up with that same general description. I just wasn't that tempted. I thought that saying that my tea would be "smoky" is like saying my coffee would be "buttery".

Wait a minute. I do LOVE buttery coffee, right? When I first heard of buttered coffee back when I learned about the Keto diet, I had the same reservations.

Once I decided I might try this tea variety, I still wanted to know more about it - especially whether or not it would be any better for me than regular black tea.

Possible health benefits...

I gathered these bits and pieces from around the web. Sorry for not tracking my sources.
  • Immune sytem booster This is one of the big draws for me. I've always heard about tea being good for you. This L.S. is supposed to be some kind of super booster. This could help you fight off colds and other nastiness. Hopefully. 
  • Caffeine alternative.  You get caffeine, like with coffee, but this tea has less and is supposed to release into your system all through the day instead of with one big bang. This is exactly what I was looking for.
  • Helps in weight loss I just heard cheers going up all over! I myself have quit banking on anything for weight loss except for calorie cut back. However, I know that some things can help suppress appetite. L.S. is supposed to help the metabolism work faster and better. 
  • High in antioxidants & heart healthy We have all heard about antioxidants protecting against cancer. This tea (and maybe most others) has a combo of antioxidants that can help (they say) protect your DNA from the damage of free radicals.The antioxidants also help with evening out blood sugar and lowering blood pressure. That sounds good to me!
  • Has nutrients and minerals that are good for lowering bad cholesterol. Yay.
  • Relaxing and energizing? L.S. good source of L-Theanine which helps reduce stress levels. Of course, there's also caffeine. Apparently, when the caffeine is combined with the Theanine, there is the effect of relaxation and mental alertness and energy. ~shrug~ Okay.
Because I got to try more than one brand, I decided to review them separately. The brands are:
  1. Twinings
  2. Taylors
  3. Choice Organic


By the way, I learned that some cooks like to use a smoked tea as a rub for the pot roasts and other meats.

Other Tea

Image result for teaFor those who aren't adventurous and just want to enjoy a plain, old, good cup of tea, there's black tea. I already pointed out that Bigelow is a favorite of mine. I also pointed out that it can be pricey. Still, I will do a single post review on black tea from Bigelow Earl Grey (with and without bergamot), Tetley, and PG Tips.






Benefits of Black (and green) Tea

I was surprised to read that black tea can be just as healthful as green tea. All this time, I've been hearing more about green tea benefits. I like green tea on occasion but, to paraphrase someone, I'm not a son of gun about it.
Image result for black tea vs green tea

Here is some of the info I scoured when looking at the benefits and other news about tea:

From Organic Facts:

    Image result for black tea vs green tea
  • Treats Diarrhea. Black tea has a healing effect on intestinal disorders due to the presence of tannins. It is advisable for all diarrhea patients to sip plain, black tea slowly for maximum benefits. (I actually remembered hearing this during my younger years when elders discussed natural remedies.)
  • Improves Digestion because black tea is rich in abundant tannins and other chemicals that have a positive and relaxing effect on the digestive system of human body. This anti-inflammatory quality of black tea is also helpful for curing digestive disorders. (This must be why my British former mother-in-law could eat so heartily and keep a nice figure.)
  • Prevents Breast Cancer. Drinking tea, either black or green (my emphasis) varieties, aids women in preventing cancerous growth in the breasts, especially women in the pre-menopausal phase. Tea assists in raising the level of globulin hormones during the female menstrual cycle periods. The presence of theaflavins in black tea destroys abnormal cells in the body before they cause any major damage or change into cancerous cells.
  • And more pros for plain black tea it is...  rich in antioxidants known as polyphenols and also has minimal contents of sodium, proteins, and carbohydrates. According to Boston’s School of Medicine, it reverses the abnormal functioning of blood vessels, which may lead to strokes and other cardiovascular conditions. (I haven't gotten to the stage of drinking my black tea "plain black" yet, so...)
  • Here is a warning about drinking too much tea: Black tea is also known to cause acidity issues in the stomach. Therefore, do not get addicted to black tea. Furthermore, avoid drinking tea after lunch or dinner, as it may lead to poor digestion, whereas at other points in the day, it can promote healthy digestion.


Info from WebMD:

  • I found this very interesting: Green tea, black tea, oolong tea -- they all come from the same tea plant, Camellia sinensis. The leaves are simply processed differently, explains Weisburger (82-year-old John Weisburger, PhD, senior researcher at the Institute for Cancer Prevention in Valhalla, N.Y.) Green tea leaves are not fermented; they are withered and steamed. Black tea and oolong tea leaves undergo a crushing and fermenting process.
  • "In my lab, we found that green and black tea had identical amounts of polyphenols," he (Weisburger)tells WebMD. "We found that both types of tea blocked DNA damage associated with tobacco and other toxic chemicals. In animal studies, tea-drinking rats have less cancer."
Bottom Line

Moderation really is the key - whether you are doing something that is either good or bad for your health. I hope that you stick around for the reviews I will be posting. 

Peace
--Free

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Writing About Writing

As you may have noticed, I spend a lot of time posting updates about the collection of stories I'm working on. I call it "writing about writing". It's not the most productive way to spend my time when I'm trying to get the collection done, but posting gives me a break from the hard work of writing fiction.

I was talking to my best friend today and had to tell her how I am almost literally eating and sleeping this book. Well, at least I sleep with it...

Presenting the "boudoir-office":

I don't like my living room messy so...

Seriously. I can't risk jump starting my brain back to task every day so I just leave my notes and copies of the manuscript in place every night. Last week, after taking my meds, I almost got sick on one of my notebooks. That was an especially bad day. Still, I sleep with my work spread out from one day to the next.

See, I have this cognitive issue that make it hard for me to focus. When I am able to focus on a task, I struggle with a lot of fatigue and confusion. The first draft of my book was done to the point of polishing up a proof copy. There were major problems with that proof though so I ended up almost reworking the entire manuscript. And then my move happened.

When you have almost constant "brain fog", it's hard to work on any project. With fiction writing there is the issue of continuity. When I was moving to this new location, I had to shelve the book. Once I got settled in the new place, my laptop went into a coma. Ask me how fun it's been to retrieve files from my online storage cloud. None of my work is as familiar to me as it should be.

Long story short (or shortened), I am back working on the collection. What I mean by that is, I am piecing all my completed files together and trying to flesh out a couple of unfinished stories. Sometimes, I feel like I'm swimming through an avalanche of words. There are days when I have cried and wanted to give up on the whole project. But I won't because my writing is the one good and uplifting thing going on in my life.

So.

I am going to finish this book if it kills me. And it might,

Peace
--Free

Monday, September 11, 2017

Cookbooks and Memories

It is said that smells trigger memories. I believe that. I can smell a fresh-baked cinnamon roll and I instantly transport back to primary school days. We were staying temporarily near family in Arkansas while Daddy was overseas. One of my aunties worked in the school cafeteria and (this is back when they served a great breakfast in schools) she made sure that I always got a cinnamon roll and the chocolate milk.

Certain sights can also send me back into my vault of memories. This can sometimes work in a strange way. If I see an elderly woman posturing in a particular way - holding her purse just so, or fanning her face with a piece of paper - I think of all the church ladies from my childhood. Don't even let me see some old lady wearing a bad wig! I immediately remember a specific church sister who I'll leave unnamed.

My biggest memory tweaks come from food and cooking. My mother was a wonderful cook. She was a natural in the kitchen. I don't think I ever saw Mama measure anything. Many years back, one of my sisters-in-law decided that she was going to write down Mama's recipes. The only way she managed to do so was to wait until Mama visited. My sister-in-law would stand by with pen and paper while Mama cooked just so she could eyeball the measurements Mom used in her dishes. Thankfully, my sister-in-law did get down a lot of the recipes and I have a copy that I left behind with the nieces in Anchorage. I'm going to need them to send me another copy!

I was thinking of my mother the other day when I unpacked a cookbook I bought a long while back. I had to order another copy because I want to share it with some relatives. Going through this cookbook is like flipping through a mental photo album of memories.


 I tell people that this is not just a cookbook for African Americans but a cookbook, history course, and cultural gem for all people. The collection is from the Tuskegee Institute and there are a lot of historical photos and little anecdotes included. But it's the recipes that stir my memories...



My mother was from Texas and she and her Mexican friends would joke about the blacks and Mexicans boosting the rice economy every time they shopped. I myself preferred (and still do) pinto beans and rice.


I love neck bones. I can skip the rest of a  meal and just eat some neck bones. When I was in Anchorage, I'd pick some up at least once ever couple of weeks. It was such a habit of mine that whenever I took my little nephew  DJ with me to the store, he'd ask if we were going to get my neck bones! 
 Salmon croquettes was never a favorite of mine, but all the rest of my family really likes them. You can bet that the Alaska fam makes croquettes whenever they snag some fresh salmon.



 I have tasted pickled pig. Can't remember if it was a foot, tail, or toe, but I did taste it. I'm not a fan, but I have an uncle who will make a sandwich with pickled pig parts. Ugh.




The whole "Aunt Bay Bay" thing made me do my Jeff Foxworthy imitation. "If you've got relatives named Bay Bay, Peaches, or Skint, then you might be a black Southerner." I'm being silly, but I bet that barbecue sauce is the business though!

One of my favorite "Mama dishes" was navy beans served with hot water cornbread. Another was smothered potatoes and onions with hoe cake. I know how to make the navy beans and hot water cornbread, but trying to find a hoe cake recipe made the way mom did it is driving me crazy. Most recipes I've seen use cornmeal or cornmeal and flour. Mama's bread was made with flour, no cornmeal. Basically, Mama's cakes were similar to Naan only a bit heavier. I don't ever remember eating a cold hoe cake; Mama always served them warm right out of the skillet. As a child, I ate hoe cake with those potatoes or with gravy or even with just some butter and syrup.

Probably good, but it's not
 my mama's recipe...
Mama's hoe cake recipe was simple, from what I recall. Just flour, water, and some lard. I always thought they should have been called "Po' Cakes" as in cakes for poor people. Here's a fact about military families of the past: a lot of us were just as poor as some civilian families.

My mother was truly a genius at feeding 6 kids and 2 adults. We ate a lot of greens - collard, turnip, mustard - and potatoes fixed in more ways than you could imagine. I remember a lot or meals where the main dish was cabbage or one of the "greens" and a ham hock or smoked neck-bone was the only meat. When we did eat meat, it was mostly chicken - smothered, fried, baked, or boiled with some dumplings. I do not remember eating very many hamburgers unless we were having a backyard cookout. (I also didn't eat McDonald's until I was in my mid-teens. What-a-Burger was my childhood "fast food" treat.)

Anyway, I was going through that cookbook and feeling all emotional until I remembered that it had no recipe for my mama's style of hoe cakes. (The one thing it does get right is the way hoe cakes got their name.)

Just like my mama told me


I've recently ordered a vintage cookbook and it's taking 2 days short of forever to get here.  I don't mind the wait though because I snatched up a spiral-bound first printing copy for $17. One day, you won't be able to get near a copy for under around $100-$150, I bet. I don't even want it for the potential future value. The first reason I wanted it was because the cover photo reminds me of my aunt (the one with the cinnamon rolls and chocolate milk!).


The other reason is because of the title. I remember my mother saying something similar - not about food, but life and people in general: "Be of a good heart and a light hand."

My best and favorite memories of my mother are those of her in the kitchen. If she wasn't cooking, she was sitting at the table, sometimes with friends, having coffee. Or she'd be reading her Bible while waiting for a cake or pie to come out of the oven. I used to tell people that my mother's Christian ministry was in feeding people. She would feed anyone. As poor as we sometimes were, my mother could stretch a meal. It would seem she had just enough food for us until someone dropped by, then she could feed twice as many people. I don't know how she did it.

A couple of days ago, I made some chicken and dumplings. I don't even particularly like chicken and dumplings! As the food cooked, I'd take the lid off the pot every now and then just to smell the memories.

Peace
--Free

UPDATE: The other cookbook arrived today (A Good Heart and a Light Hand) and I am so happy I could weep. There are 2 hoe cake recipes: one with flour and one with cornmeal. The flour hoe cake recipe sounds exactly like what my mother used. Others I found would use cold water to make the dough...

 When I cook some, I will be sure to let you all know how they turned out! And, you know what, I 'm going to go ahead and post a photo of the recipe. Couldn't help myself.




The book is a little beat up, but it is a first printing from 1968 (and a from the "Educational Materials Center Tucson Public Schools") so I'm lucky it held up as well as it did. I notice that it was originally meant to be priced at $3. So $17 isn't that bad all these years later. I am going to hold this book precious until the day I die.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Amazon's Prime Wardrobe

If you guys have NOT heard yet, Amazon really is about to take over the world.

Remember back when we were just ordering our books from Amazon? And then they started selling all that other stuff - stuff to use with our cellphones, stuff to get our kids for holidays, stuff to organize and clean our houses, etc.? Remember that?

When I moved here, I actually ordered a bed and mattress from Amazon and a sleeper futon from Walmart. The mattress, by the way, came in a freaking box no bigger that could have fit in the back seat of a mid-sized sedan! You think I'm kidding?

The box
The mattress



THIS mattress, yes

The bed frame
(and my nephew's leg. Don't even ask)

All this - frame, bed, pillow, sheets, comforter - delivered to my front door!

Pretty soon, Amazon is going to be selling tiny houses that come in a box and self-construct...

Just yesterday I was telling my social networks about Amazon's Launchpad service. That's where you can find products from various startup companies. In my opinion, most of it is a bunch of pricey hipster stuff. There was a cool product that was a kind of grow-in-a-can thing for herbs and vegetables. And there's a super tempting kit that lets you build a computer and learn to code. The price is cheap for what's offered but it's still out of my budget. And, speaking of...

I came to post about just how Amazon is trying to make me give Bezo's all my money - not just the dollars I spend on necessities. See the latest Amazon thing is called Prime Wardrobe.

Shut. UP!

Prime Wardrobe lets you pick out some clothing and have it delivered so you can see if it fits (or if you like it). If it doesn't (or you don't), you get to send it back. That is NOT the best part of this. What's so genius is that you don't even pay or the items until you decide you're keeping them!

Oh, and if you decide not to keep the stuff you can have UPS pickup right from your front door.

Do you know how much I need this in my life?

Listen, right now I get pretty much everything I need online: cleaning stuff, eating stuff, drinking stuff... Between Amazon and Walmart, I only have to trek over to a store for my meats and vegetables. I don't have a car yet so this is handy. Winter is coming soon so, even if I have a car by then, guess what? Still handy.

If I end up liking Prime Wardrobe, the only downside is I might get too lazy and never leave my apartment. But at least, I'll be able to order my Plus size clothes in private! (Just kidding. I will still get my exercise where I can.)

So, I'm just passing the word along. If you want to know more, here is a nice non-Amazon link explaining Prime Wardrobe and a link to Launchpad. Now, if you will excuse me, I've got to go look at some jeans...

Peace
--Free

Friday, September 08, 2017

My New Old Neighbors

This new place I'm living in is just fantastic. It's a beautiful hotel-style building that's entry-secure, and clean. Living here, I'm  close to shopping and banking. I can get basic groceries from a store that is literally less than a 5-minute walk away.

If I were a more social person, I could stroll down to a couple of nice bars and restaurants. If I were social! If I could swim, the lake and a beach are a block and half away. Of course, people who know me know that I'm most certainly not a social butterfly. I am a hermit crab of a woman.

So, yes, I love the building I live in.

Except.

Okay, see here's the thing. I live in a building that's for seniors. The minimum age is 55. I'm 56. The median age for the residents currently living here? Oh, I'd say that would be about 75.

Now, I'm not an ageist. How can I be? I'm 56, which is not young but it's also not exactly "middle age" - unless I expect to live to over a hundred. (I don't, by the way.) The oldest person I've met here is 93. And she's not the only 90 year old here. I bet there are a couple of centenarians. (And I can't believe I had to look that word up!)

One of the things I've learned about this Iowa (or at least the Northern part I live in) is that the people live a looong time. Not only that, these old folk are pretty healthy. There's one woman here (I'll call her Lucy) who usually walks everywhere. Every day. Granted, 'everywhere' is close by like I mentioned before but, still, this woman is ninety. To look at her and the way she gets around, you could guess her age to be somewhere in the early 70's. She moves better than I do.

 Of course, some of my really old neighbors don't get around as well as Lucy. There's one old lady who still drives and that scares the crap out of me. She uses both a cane and a walker. She uses the walker to get to the car. She puts the walker in the trunk, then uses the cane to get to the driver's seat. It then takes her a couple of minutes to get in and get situated. And then the nightmare starts because this slow-moving nonagenarian (yeah, I looked that one up too) drives like she's in a police chase on an L.A. freeway. I've never seen anyone not headed to an emergency back out and take off that fast.

Thankfully Maria Oldretti doesn't drive that often. This town is small enough that most people probably recognize her car and know to get the hell out of the way... I won't even go out into the parking lot when she's anywhere near her car, bless her heart.

There are a lot of benefits to living around the elderly. They are like walking history books. First-hand history at that. I've heard some of them talk about growing up on farms. A few of them come from places outside of Iowa. I don't spend as much time with any of these people as I should - ironically because of my health issues - but I am getting a glimpse of what could possibly be my future.

I was talking to one of the older gentlemen the other day, telling him that I'd be soon looking to get a used vehicle. He said, "I wish I'd met you a month earlier because I just gave my car away." (He is pretty much bound to one of those motorized chairs for his mobility.) I asked why he gave away his car. "They took away my license. I couldn't use the car so someone might as well have it."

The first thing I thought was how nice it was that he gave away car to someone who needed it. Then I saw how sad he looked when he talked about losing his license. (Another resident told me that it was his kids who lobbied for him to lose his driving privileges. I want to know if Maria Oldretti has kids I can contact!)

See, the thing I'm noticing is that we look at the very elderly as if they aren't whole human beings. We sometimes only notice the stooped postures and sagging skin and voices that creak a little. That's all I used to pay attention to. Now I'm learning that no matter how old a person lives to be - 80, 90, or even 100 - they still possess the soul they had from birth to the present. I know for a fact (because I've heard them talking) that some of the old folk are still having, um, intimate relations. All I can say is they are getting more action than I am!

What's sobering to me is that their are younger people who look at me the way I've looked at older people. And I've learned something about myself: I'm not sure how long of a life I want to live. I say that and worry that I'm offending God, so I want to clarify what I mean.

No one wants, I don't think, to be old and lonely and forgotten. That's the one thing I didn't understand when I was married to a pretty decent guy. I think that's why you should get a good mate and hang on for dear life. Some of these people have been married for 60 and 70 years. Then again, some of them have been married for less than a decade.

Then there are the widows and widowers. Those are the ones I feel the most pain for. I can deal with being an old single - because I was a young single - but I don't know what it must be like to lose someone you spent many, many years with.

I'm a loner but don't ever want to get to the point where I feel lonely. Some of my neighbors seem to be forgotten by family and friends. There are a couple of people here who never come out of their apartments. They don't come down and sit on the lanai (or whatever you call our front porch area) or use the common room. For some of them, if it weren't for the personal housekeepers, they'd never have company inside their apartments. And that is very sad to me.


When I was in my teens, I thought anyone over twenty was 'old'. In my thirties, I couldn't imagine being fifty. I'm in my fifties and I look at the 80 and 90 year old people and realize they aren't simply old, they are survivors. I don't know how long I want to be in the battle of being mortal. Then again, every time I attend a funeral, I am always glad to still be alive.

Peace
--Free