Category: Randomness

New Book Out

Following on the heels of the first book. I’ve put together the first of the Sixtoe stories, it is no longer tucked away on odd bits of notes or in my imagination.


Is now up over at Smashword, and just like the first book I’ve set up a coupon for it.

Promotional price: $0.00
Coupon Code: US68T
Expires: May 14, 2014

The coupon won’t work at Amazon, so my apologies to the international community. However as with the first book, if you have Amazon Prime you can barrow a copy for free. Once the Amazon link is available I’ll add it.


We have an odd bit of a gap in our rules as a society. In most states , but not all {New Jersey gets murky for example}, we tell our young People that once they turn 18 they are adults. As young adults we tell them that they are legally responsible for their actions. That should they run a fowl of the law we will try them as adults. Additionally in most states we tell parents that they are no longer required to provide child support for young adults once they turn 18.

We tell them that at 17 and 1/2 years of age to get a drivers license {varies from state to state} they must follow the restriction placed on teens, but at 18 and 0 days they may get the unrestricted adult license. We allow our 18 year old young adults to marry whom they choose without parental input, yet at 17 and 364 days of age if a young adult wished to marry they would need parental consent and counseling programs before getting the marriage license. What change is there in that one day, besides the fact that the young adult in question is now chronologically and biologically 18 years of age? None, there is no magic switch in the brain that alters their thinking, if anything their brains are still not fully developed and won’t be until they are 25 years of age, or at least that’s what scientists and the medical community have told us.

We tell them that even though they might still be in high school that if they are foster youth or wards of the state, that they are no longer supported** by the foster system or state. This has led to the homelessness of many former foster youth and other state wards as they were turned out of foster and/or group homes in which they had been living because of lack of funding. On the flip side of that, most school districts tell these same young adults that while enrolled in high school their parents or guardians have to sign off on their absences unless a special form has been filled out, signed, and returned to the school. Yet another conflict within the schools is if a young adult chooses to drop one school and sign up for another school without parent or guardian consent, they are allowed to because we have deemed 18+ to be legally an adult.

We tell them that they may sign contracts and may sign up for the military without the signature of their parents or legal guardians. We tell them that they may receive credit cards and loans. Many banks used to actively run sign-up campaign’s on college campuses to increase their card holder numbers.

Yet, we have medical insurance programs that tell young people, including married young adults, that if one or both parties are bellow the age of 21 they must look to their individual parents for medical support. Even when the young married couple lives out on their own in their own home and at least one of them works full time.

State and federal programs are not necessarily any better. At ages 18 to 21, should a young adult still live at home with their parents, but not able to be carried on their parents medical because

• The parent/guardians medical was through a state/federal aid program
• The young adult is not a student, even now with ACA in place some insurers still require the young adult to be a student
• The young adult is employed, but has no medical through their job, and files their own taxes and is not a dependent of their parents/guardians
• Young adult is self employed and if they were 21 or older would have no problems signing up for medical through ACA

The exception to the above is if the young adult is 18 or up and pregnant, or in the military. Even that isn’t guaranteed anymore as exampled by state federal laws that require 18 year old single parents to live with their parents to receive aid, and the experience of at least one soldier discovered when he tried to get a hotel room for a night.

The examples listed above are examples that I have either witnessed or heard about, that others are experiencing. There are probably more, examples of how we have an odd gap in our laws concerning medical insurance out there, and I welcome readers to share their experiences in the comments. Please note comments are monitored.

The second way we fail our young adults and send them conflicting messages, is through college funding.

Should a young adult live on their own and work with a steady income, unless they are above the age of 25*, they must have their parents tax information and income information when filling out FAFSA and other college financial aid forms. It doesn’t matter if the young adult has been on their own for at least two or more years and fully independent, most college financial aid offices will require the parents information. Except for in the following cases

• The young adult in question was a ward of the state
• An orphan, but not necessarily a ward of the state
• 18 or older with a child
• A soldier active duty or not

As you can see with the situations above we are constantly sending our young adults conflicting messages, on the one hand we tell them they are adults but on the other we tell them that they are the responsibility of their parents. Yet we also tell them that if they are pregnant or fighting for us only then will we treat them in full as an adult.

What we need to do, is come up with a single common age limit of when a young adult is to be considered a full adult in their own right. What the right age definition should be is hard to say. Should we go old school or retro and throw the rules back to the early 1700’s when a young person was not considered an adult until they reached their majority at age 25. Yet society married them off, at least the young ladies, as early as 16 back then; and we encouraged the young men to seek military jobs or apprenticeships as young as 15 and 16. Perhaps we should make 18 the universal age of adult hood, but then we will have to readdress the drinking age, which while once was around 18 almost nation wide is now 21. Unless, you live in a state that has thumbed it’s nose at Federal Highway and Safety Money, which is tied to the drinking age. Maybe we can look to our neighbors and allies across the Atlantic {or the pond if you prefer ;)} and allow our young adults full adult citizenship at the tender age of 16 without having to go to court to get emancipation. I don’t know that it fully happens that way, but I have heard of some as young as 16 being out on their own aka emancipated. Or perhaps 21 the current drinking age in most areas would be the better ‘magic’ age to declare our young adults as adults now legally responsible for themselves. Then we must answer the questions of ‘what of those already out should there be a grandfather clause’ and what of the families, i.e. the parents who
will then be considered responsible for all of these young adults. What does an additional 1 to 7 years do their sanity, budget, retirement potential?

While I haven’t watched it the Will Ferrell movie Step Brothers comes to mind. In which the promo spots portray the chaos, frustration, and purported comedy^ that ensues when two adults in their 50’s to 60’s get married yet still have their grown adult sons living with them. The visions of millions of households across the nation suddenly dealing with the turmoil that ensues from being required to take back their young as we suddenly declare our young adults no longer adults but rather once again wards of their parents and revoke their adult privileges.

© Melinda Dawn Garren April 8th, 2014

**Some states have changed their laws and now support foster youth and other state wards until high school graduation, and in some cases may provide additional support for college.
*25 is what I and others have encountered on most financial aid forms, for some it might be as low as 21.
^ I use the phrase I do because {A} as stated I haven’t seen the movie {B} I’m not a fan of Mr. Ferrell’s comedy style.

Ugh! Just hate it when

I’m trying to build my sculpture the way I want it to look.

This morning I tried flipping it over, so I could work on the inside and the whole bottom fell off :p . So now I have to start over, this time I’m going to just work from the inside out. Trial & Error, a learning process.


bleh :p :p

Take two no good, stucco is not working out for me. I need to come up with a whole new medium, sigh!

This is my review of the day and of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

On October 18th, 2011 I was able to take part in a trip to see San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art, or MOMA for short. For me this day felt like an extra special treat for two reasons: first as a working parent and partner I haven’t had the time I would like for such outings; secondly I had been extremely stressed out the day before handling a crisis income tax situation. Our bus arrived about thirty minutes before the MOMA was scheduled to open, which left me with some time to burn.

Across from the entrance to the MOMA are the grounds of the Yerba Buena Gardens. I chose to explore the gardens, and was not disappointed with what I found. I found in the midst of a large city, surrounded on all sides by concrete and steel, a lush and varied landscape to ease the weary soul. As I wandered through and around the park my eyes were constantly met with the beauty of the vibrant plant life. My ears were caressed by the sounds of hushed conversations, children laughing and birds chirping. To my perception the focal point of the gardens is a beautiful two to three story tall waterfall that has walkways around and over it. At the uppermost level of the waterfall is a series of water ways and a smaller waterfall and pool that many birds were drinking from and bathing in. Upon finding that my path of travel had brought me back to where I had started from I found myself in a very relaxed and calmed state of mind. The garden had been the very balm for my soul that I was unaware of needing. The state of relaxation I was then in was as near a perfect state of calm that anyone could hope for and felt to me the perfect state to enter the MOMA in, thus I crossed the street and got my ticket.

Upon entering the MOMA, I was greeted by a vast cavernous space. Within the center of that space is a stair way of striped tile and wood that beckons you to climb, whilst at the same time hiding from sight the treasures to be found on the upper levels. As this was my first trip to the MOMA I chose to let the stairs guide me all the way to the upper most reaches of the building, knowing that I would have to follow the stairs again to the ground floor later. For several flights the stairs continued to be the same cool tile and wood stripes and at points creating an Escher like illusion where the ceiling of the upper stairs meets the tile stripes of the wall. The last set of stairs up were an austere white spiral that felt as if they had been pulled from an old church.

At the very upper reaches I discovered many things to hold my attention and interest. Beautiful sculptures of steel, nylon, wood, and many other pieces of art in a wide variety of mediums on display. Perhaps the quirkiest of all the sculptures that I saw on the upper level was not in the MOMA itself, but viewable from the walkway and rooftop garden. They were two statues of the story book character Waldo. While finding Waldo at the MOMA made me laugh, they reminded me of the hours with the ‘Where’s Waldo’ books and our eldest daughter.  The fascination with the ‘Waldo’ images wore off fast, compared to other pieces of art that drew me back for repeated viewings. There were two pieces in particular that I did go back to view again before leaving the upper floor. The first being ‘A Sac of Rooms All Day Long’ By Alex Schweden, composed of vinyl and electrical components. The second piece that held me in such thrall, with such intensity, that I pushed myself to cross an open expanse in spite of my intense fear of heights, was ‘Sonic Shadows’ by Bill Fontana.

‘A Sac of Rooms All Day Long’ is a fluid sculpture, because the electrical components are constantly changing the shape and dimensions of the sculpture. The main structure is composed of sealed clear vinyl, within the structure is a series of air pumps that rotate to inflate or deflate various parts of the sculpture. When I first stumbled upon this piece it made me think of Do-Ho Suh’s work because the simple outline and suggestion of a home or rooms was being created with minimal detail. As I watched the sculpture deflate and inflate it made me think of the housing crisis and the bubble that has cost many people their homes. Watching longer my thoughts began to turn, and reflect on how fluid time is and how we never truly stay in any place for a long period of time, and how even a room we know intimately will change as time wears on. If a person is willing to spend a fair amount of time, perhaps at least 10 to 15 minutes, to watch this piece it can spark a lot of surreal and deep thoughts, perhaps even some self insights they had not previously consciously thought of.

‘Sonic Shadows’ Is a grated bridge equipped with a network of high-tech vibration sensors, microphones, and speakers that bring all of the hidden sounds a steel bridge across an empty expanse creates into the hearing range of a person. The sound of the bridge as it echoed through the space was not all that held me in utter fascination to the point where I crossed the bridge not once but twice. From the center of the bridge sound is not the only thing that assails the senses. The other stimulus that assails the senses is the visual of the shadows as they transcend their way across a curved, pristine, white wall. As the day progresses the shadows created both by the bridge itself and by the varied steel tubes cutting across the elliptical window above the bridge, in a style reminiscent of the cellular structure of a leaf when viewing the sun through it, create their own shadow paintings on the wall. While the bridge and the steel tubes above the bridge are all man made, it brought to me the same sense of calm as I had encountered earlier in the gardens.

Window above Sonic Shadow

It takes a lot for me to push myself onto a bridge, and yet, with a few sparse pieces of metal, Bill Fontana got me to not only walk out onto a bridge, but to pause on it long enough to take pictures of the upper elements. For this piece that is transcending multiple senses on several levels of awareness I would push myself out onto it yet again should the opportunity arise.

All in all, the trip to San Francisco and the MOMA was wonderful and deeply relaxing. While I enjoyed all aspects of the MOMA, if pressed to say what makes it great, I would have to say the interior architecture of the building itself, with all of the play of straight lines and angles. I would also recommend the wide variety of works on the uppermost floor. My favorite display is ‘Sonic Shadows’, and I would strongly recommend a trip to the MOMA for that interactive piece if for nothing else at all. Perhaps the next viewer will find something different from what I found to spark their soul into a transcended state of calm, relaxation, and a renewed vigor for life.


(This one is super short)

I’d like to say I’ve been super busy. That would only be half right.

Busy yes; work, moving, parenting and all that jazz, but also doing other things that I enjoy doing such as; reading, movies, gaming, cooking, baking, getting involved with a group of like minded folks and having relaxing weekends.

I’m also guilty of putting more updates over on fb than here. However a recent project I just finished doesn’t really fit the fb medium to well so I plan on posting it here.

Been awhile

Life got busy with the return of the work year, didn’t leave much time for blogging.

Recently I wasn’t feeling well, and after 2 weeks things weren’t getting better so I bucked up and made myself an appointment. Doctor said more fiber, drop acidic foods and drop the cheese.  I said “but I already eat more than 8 a day between fruits and veg, and almost all of my starches are whole grain …”. I mentally whimpered, a little selfish mental pouting too, I Love Brie & cheddar…. hitched up my grown-up attitude and followed orders. So for a full week I ended up eating vegan (not hubby & kids), and it worked. I started feeling better, the problem cleared up, I’ve slowly added back in the spicy and acidic foods I love, and stayed away from all dairy.

An interesting side event, although I still eat the same foods, just not any dairy, and eat around the same amount of calories within 5 days my weight dropped 5 lbs. Which leads me to believe that although past allergy tests have not indicated a problem I might be allergic to dairy products.

Which means I really have to make some big adjustments to how and with what I cook. I’ll say this much life is never dull.


-Peace, and happy holidays

The other day I had a mini vent, about the kids helping around the house or more to the fact that they don’t for the most part or more specifically not as much as I would like them to, or think they should. That night I went to bed thinking about entitlement, and have been thinking about it every day since then, and am giving myself some much needed down time to write on the topic. Or as much down time as can be had when one has responsibilities, and that is a whole other topic. For the purpose of this post I will be using the following names, mainly because they were the main ones in English primers in the 70’s classroom, as generics for all children (including ours)/adults; Jane, Dick, Harry, Tom, and Sally. All of my examples come either from pure fiction/Hollywood or from snippets of family behavior I see around me. Before I get to much further into this, I am not a perfect parent, I have tried my best, and fully expect our kids to write some type of ‘mommy dearest’ memoir later in life. So there it is out in the open I am not the best, and I could never pass for June Cleaver.

Let’s start with the definition according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

M-W: Definition of ENTITLEMENT
1 a : the state or condition of being entitled : right
b : a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract
2: a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group; also : funds supporting or distributed by such a
3: belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges

How does one have the right to be entitled to anything, just because Dick was born to an affluent family while maybe Tom was born to a very poor hard working family, does this automatically entitle Dick to be considered better or more deserving of special privileges. Dick and his family might think so, and perhaps some of their peers. What happens then at school say they both attend a very exclusive school, Tom works hard in all of his subjects and the teachers only give him grades in the B range because they don’t think he is capable of better. Meanwhile Dick feels that he doesn’t have to do his work and hires someone, maybe even Tom to do all his work for him, yet he never earns anything lower than an A- even though they, the teachers, know he did not do the work. We all know from reading this hypothesis that Dick is not entitled to those grades, we also know that this is a popular fiction topic for Hollywood teen movies. Yet there are some people who are born into family’s that are very affluent who have behaved in this fashion, or more currently we see this attitude portrayed by select athletes in various sports. Who for whatever reason got it into their head that because they are big names all of a sudden they can do whatever they want.

How does this pertain to my vent/rant of the other day. Our children, Harry and Jane, were born into a modern era when there are tv’s, phones, cell phones, computers, and video games in almost every home. In an era where in spite of almost 68,000 parenting offerings on Amazon and popular TV shows like Super Nanny there seems to be a general lower expectation on children at home and an ever growing trend towards keeping them children longer, and therefore in my ever so unprofessional opinion it seems like todays children and teens have an attitude of entitlement towards having/receiving almost everything they think they need.

In some cases it’s parents unsure of how to raise children because they grew up in a home where both parents worked or raised by a single parent who worked full time. Some of these former children may have been latch key children and practically raised themselves. So they do the best they can, and raise their children either the same way they were raised or in some other fashion that they think is best. While others from this group, may have gone to a daycare/after school program/relatives home and therefore been supervised and had continuous adult role models of some type around. This group of parent is not necessarily any better or worse off than any other type of parent, they just had a few more role models +/- to learn from.

In other cases parents grew up in lower income family’s were everyone including the children had to work hard to help support the family, these parents usually go one of 3 directions; a) they make their children earn everything, they are always being tough their children; b)the b parent goes in the total opposite direction, they give their children almost everything because they want their kids to have happy childhood memories and to not have to work or worry like they did; c) my last parent type in this speculation is the parent who has come the closest to blending the previous two types, they give their children more, but they also make their children earn a certain amount of what they get.

In the end it doesn’t really matter the parenting style or early life influences. You ask any parent and they all say the same thing “we’re just trying to do what we think is right/best” another popular phrase I hear a lot is “we’re just trying to provide a better life for our children”. Were someone to time travel they would probably hear those same 2 sentences uttered through out history.

Getting back to our, Harry and Jane, DH & I are a small mix of several different parenting types who quite literally are trying to do our best to raise our kids in a rapidly changing world, trying to prepare them for a future that we know nothing about. Just as our parents did the best they could while trying their best to prepare us to live in a world/future that they knew nothing about.

I guess what I’m saying is that if our children seem to have a certain sense of entitlement about them, perhaps it is because we as parents have unwittingly set the stage for it.

Well at least how I am channeling my inner housekeeper. Lets face it when the universe was handing out the instincts for keeping a house clean at all times, I must have been out hiking. Housekeeping is my achilles heal when it comes to domestic life. Thankfully due to the modern invention of the internet there is help for someone like me. Some of my favorite mentoring/tutoring sites for when/how to keep house are; FlyLady, zen habits, Clean House| Organized Home, and Sidetracked Home Executives – S.H.E.. Are there more sites out there, with out a doubt yes, but these 4 are my corner stones where I turn every time I feel like I’m getting stuck. Do they work for everyone, no. There are possibly twice as many housekeeping books as there are websites, so websites are not the only resource for the cleaning challenged.

The trick I figured out early on, is play with the advice they are offering on the sites, or in books, see what works for you and what doesn’t. I found that trying something consistently for at least a week (if it’s tried every day) to a month (if it’s not being tried every day) the way the author describes helps me figure out what does and does not work for me, and where I can tweak something, and where I can honestly say ‘nope this step/style is not for me’.

My newest self discovery in the how to keep me motivated category, came in the form of a mini ah-ha moment. I’ve been almost wishing that the Doll House, or that Matrix style brain uploads were real so I could program my brain permanently for keeping a nice house, either that or hit the lotto (and I don’t play so you figure the odds on that one {grin}) and hire a housekeeper. My mind keeps turning to old sitcoms, Leave it to Beaver, Brady Bunch, Bewitched, and I dream of Jeannie. Of course they had a real advantage that no mortal house wife could ever have, there homes were Hollywood studio sets, if mine was ever a set it’s a cross between Roseanne’s and a Mad Max set. Well ok not as bad as Mad Max, sometimes though it feels like it. Back to my ah-ha, and it’s something that FlyLady has touched on, what to wear when cleaning, pearls and heels are out for me, nor am I going to wear a uniform like a janitorial service. I did figure mine out at least partially, a head band, a pair of hot pink shoes, a touch of gloss (the only time I wear any), the apron my Grandma made me, and a necklace.

Today was my first day playing with the “uniform” concept, the difference mentally was nice, swapped shoes and put on the accessories and things just clicked into place. Sometimes I can use music to help motivate and other times it’s just not enough.

From here down it’s more of a vent/rant, and not strongly related to the first part of the post.

Continue reading

Ever have one of those technology moments where you do something and just totally undo hours of hard work? 😯

Yeah, me too and today was one of them, editing picture in the cooking photo album, went to delete 1 … just 1 picture and accidentally wiped out all pictures in the album, mumble.. 😳 ..mumble, so now I wait while they all get re-uploaded, and then I’m going to have to back and fix links , bleep. According to the up loader it’s going to take about 40 minutes 😦

So while I’m waiting I’m going to add some links to some of my favorite cooking/recipe related you tube videos. Enjoy 🙂

  • Flour Tortillas
  • I love watching this woman cook tortillas, very old school.
  • Bread Making recipes
  • more to come …..

    …….. sorry was watching hectorfergo’s video again, for like the millionth time, did I mention I love watching her cook.
    Pictures are almost done re-up loading, yay. Here are some more video’s for your viewing pleasure.

  • Indian cooking – vahchef
  • more old school ❤

  • Nana’s Homeade Cavatelli – Part 1
  • Nana’s Homeade Cavatelli – Part 2
  • Nana’s Homeade Cavatelli – Part 3
  • Nana’s Homeade Cavatelli – Part 4 (footnote)
  • Watching the old school videos, makes me wish that video could have been shot back in the 70’s when I helped Grandma make apple butter from scratch…… sigh ….. to everyone on you tube who has taken the time to video and upload our older generation cooking from scratch, Thank You, for helping to preserve small bits of our history and different cultures.

    Well the picture are done uploading off to edit the photo album ……. again.

    You know how there are some folks out there that have everything planned out weeks in advance, well I’m not one of them, I tend to be a fly by the seat of my pants sort. It’s not to say that I can’t plan anything in advance and have it come out great, I just have to make myself work a little harder and remember to get everything organized in advance. What does this have to do with cooking? I can almost hear you asking since I categorized this post under cooking.

    Menu planning, not my strong suit by a long shot, however I have worked out a system that works for me through a lot of trial and error. Some families have themed nights like pizza, Mexican, etc., you get the idea I trust. That didn’t work well for me, I tried, it just didn’t work. What I have found that works for me is to assign a particular protein source to each day, and then plan my menu’s that way. It works, and works wonderfully for me. So in our house the days of the week are as follows:

  • Sunday, pork/ham and occasionally bacon
  • Monday, beef (DH’s favorite day of the week :D, next to the last work day of each week)
  • Tuesday, turkey
  • Wednesday, fish (my least favorite day:P)
  • Thursday, chicken
  • Friday, vegetarian all the way baby 😀
  • Saturday, leftovers/FYO – fix your own
  • Sometimes I will use Saturdays as a day to experiment with recipe’s that use alcohol as ingredients, but that’s pretty rare.

    With the main protein, in mind I flip through the cookbooks and pick a recipe at least 2/3 days in advance. If I need an ingredient I have time to swing by the store and pick it up, it gets used within a day or two, and helps eliminate the scary unused foods from the fridge.