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The Thanksgiving I will always remember
We didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Europe where I grew up, so my very first Thanksgiving dinner in the US could have been a total disaster. We invited friends, and Uncle Joe and Aunt Alice from California had invited themselves because they couldn’t attend our June wedding. Uncle Joe called and simply informed us that they’d be arriving the day before Thanksgiving and staying with us for five days.
I was petrified because I never cooked a holiday dinner, and my husband having been single for so many years, either. So, I asked my neighbor for advice and recipes. Everything seemed to be going fine. The day before Thanksgiving, while hubby drove to the airport, I baked pumpkin and sweet potato pies, cooked cranberry sauce, and the turkey was half-thawed in the fridge.
When our guest arrived, Uncle Joe warned us about Aunt Alice’s declining mental status due to Alzheimer’s. She seemed lucid when Uncle Joe was in the room and her long-term memory still functioned, but her short-term memory had been greatly affected. When she couldn’t see Joe, Alice became nervous and agitated and asked where he was every two minutes.
On the morning of Thanksgiving, I decorated the dining room, set the dinner table, and did some last-minute cleaning, and then taking a deep breath, I armed myself with the recipes and started peeling the vegetables and preparing the turkey.
Aunt Alice wandered around the apartment, touching, and rearranging everything. She fluffed the throw pillows, straightened the pictures on the mantel and the walls, and constantly asked whose house it was and how did they get there. Uncle Joe, with a patience of a saint, answered the same question every three minutes. After awhile, Alice seemed to be tiring and became agitated. “Alice, why don’t you help Erika in the kitchen?” Joe said to her.
Great! I thought. It’s not enough that I’m nervous about messing up dinner, now I’ll have to watch the old lady too. But I forced a smile, poured a cup of coffee, and invited her to sit by the kitchen table. Alice started chatting about her childhood and the time when she got married, and I caught myself enjoying her stories while I prepared the vegetables, assembled the green bean casserole, and peeled the potatoes for cooking and meshing.
Then I took the turkey out of the fridge, mixed the softened butter with spices, and started stuffing it under the skin of the turkey.
“Why aren’t you mixing the stuffing first?” Alice asked, surprising me because I was sure that she was so absorbed in her memories that she didn’t pay attention, or even comprehend what I was doing.
“I have the recipe, but I didn’t mix it because the bird came with the stuffing,” I replied. “It’s all wrapped up inside the turkey.”
Uncle Joe overhearing our conversation, rushed from the living room. “Did you just say the turkey came with the stuffing?” he asked.
“Yes, it’s wrapped in brown paper, and it’s inside the bird,” I replied, now feeling confused.
“That package contains the gizzards, you silly goose! Take them out of the paper and bake them with the bird.”
“Oh, my God! I thought it was the premade stuffing!” I mumbled, feeling embarrassed.
“I guess Alice just saved the day,” he said, smiling lovingly at his wife for fifty years with tears in his eyes. He wiped his eyes, kissed her forehead, and turned back to me. “Let’s make that stuffing and I’ll show you how Alice always baked it separately in the muffin pan. She hated it when the stuffing got mushy inside the turkey.”
We seasoned the turkey, stuffed the vegetables and gizzards inside the bird, and put it in the oven. When the rest of the guests arrived and dinner was served, everyone complimented the stuffing muffins.
After the delicious dinner, everyone relaxed in the living room, and when Alice followed me to the kitchen, I hugged her and thanked her for saving me from the embarrassment of serving the turkey with the brown paper package baked inside it.
She pushed me away and with a worried expression she asked, “Where is Joe? Joe, where are you?” She shouted.
“I’m here, sweetheart,” came Joe’s calming voice from the living room. Alice’s face lit up with a smile and shuffled to meet her beloved husband.
© Erika M Szabo
I started to write when I was very young. It was more like role playing. I wrote stories and pretended that I was one of the characters. In my wildest dreams I never thought that one day I will become and actual author and see my books in print. It is the most extraordinary feeling in the world. I was fascinated with the possibility of human immortality. As an engineer I always wondered about the probability of longevity. What if? That is a big question that still keeps the scientist looking for answers. I am not going to see that possibility in my lifetime so I decided to make it happen in my books. This may be a long a boring subject for many but not for those that love to see immortality happen at some point and time.
How will our world end? "Not with a bang but with a whimper," wrote the American poet T.S. Eliot regarding the end of the world. But if you want a more definite response, you'll find that physicists have spent countless hours turning this question over in their minds, and have neatly fit the most plausible hypotheses into a few categories. What if Immortality could be achieved? Then the end of the universe would mean absolutely nothing to the ones with eternal life. They will move on to another world.
The love of life and the fear of death. These are the two primary motivations that fuel humanity’s quest for immortality. Since time immemorial, countless generations have sought to understand the secret to long life and by extension, immortality. Ancient alchemists were obsessed with finding the elixir of life. Spanish explorer Ponce de Leòn set out to Florida in the 16th century to discover the “Fountain of Youth.”
Fast forward to today, massive advancements in science and technology have enabled scientists to understand life to its core; the cellular, and genetic levels. Consequently, life expectancy has progressed steadily indicating that scientific interventions are significantly capable of prolonging human life. As science continues to unravel the mysteries of human life, one important question arises: Futurists have widely popularized the notion that we don’t need a body to exist.
The plan is to develop a brain-computer interface to counter the limitations of our physical bodies. A BCI having the contents of your brain and your personality can operate from a robotic body. This will prolong the human lifespan by hundreds of years if not indefinitely. It sure sound crazy not something that most people would like to do. If you are human, you are going to die. This isn't the most comforting thought, but death is the inevitable price we must pay for being alive. Humans are, however, getting better at pushing back our expiration date, as our medicines and technologies advance.
If the human life span continues to stretch, could we one day become immortal? The answer depends on what you think it means to be an immortal human.
"I don't think when people are even asking about immortality they really mean true immortality, unless they believe in something like a soul," Susan Schneider, a philosopher and founding director of the Center for the Future Mind at Florida Atlantic University, told Live Science. "If someone was, say, to upgrade their brain and body to live a really long time, they would still not be able to live beyond the end of the universe."
Certain scientist, futurists, and philosophers have theorized about the immortality of the human body, with some suggesting that human immortality may be achievable in the first few decades of the 21st century. Other advocates believe that life extension is a more achievable goal in the short term, with immortality awaiting further research breakthroughs. The absence of aging would provide humans with biological immortality, but not invulnerability to death by disease or injury. Whether the process of internal immortality is delivered within the upcoming years depends chiefly on research (and in neuron research in the case of internal immortality through an immortalized cell line) in the former view and perhaps is an awaited goal in the latter case.
Physical immortality is a state of life that allows a person to avoid death and maintain conscious thought. It can mean the unending existence of a person from a physical source other than organic life, such as a computer.
Life defined as biologically immortal is still susceptible to causes of death besides aging.
If human beings were to achieve immortality, there would most likely be a change in the world's social structures. Sociologists argue that human beings' awareness of their own mortality shapes their behavior. With the advancements in medical technology in extending human life, there may need to be serious considerations made about future social structures. The world is already experiencing a global demographic shift of increasingly ageing populations with lower replacement rates. The social changes that are made to accommodate this new population shift may be able to offer insight on the possibility of an immortal society.
© Lilian Roberts
Stevie Wonder had a hit song back in the early seventies called Superstition and it was a huge hit!
A few of the lyrics included:
When you believe in things you don’t understand
Then you suffer
Superstition ain’t the way.
Well, it may not be the way for most folks, but many still are superstitious and have superstitions which they may have inherited from their ancestors or a certain culture.
A superstition is a belief considered by non -practitioners to be of irrational behavior or that of the supernatural, attributed to magic or fear of the unknown. And these date back to thousands of years. Be it a defense mechanism to ward off bad luck or a practice to draw better luck, many cultures still practice varied forms of their own superstitions. In this post I will be focusing on some of the superstitions common with the Italian culture.
Most of us are familiar with some common ones such as:
I grew up in a wonderful environment enriched by my mother’s Italian heritage and my father’s Croatian heritage. I can’t say I remember any superstitions on my father’s side, but the Italian influence has been well-remembered and ingrained in my brain. I can honestly say I still practice some of these beliefs to this day.
Superstitions Italian Style
Ever since I was a baby, I wore a small solid gold lucky horn to guard off the “Malocchio” or Evil Eye. The Malocchio is the look of jealousy by others and can do some real damage, such as debilitating headaches or other physical ailments. One can also make the shape of horns with your hand to ward off this curse.
The Olive oil method is well-known among most Italians, but the procedure can be varied depending upon the region you are from in Italy.
As far back as I can remember I can still see myself receiving the Olive Oil Treatment. Anytime I had a bad headache my grandma would have me sit with a bowl on my head as she poured drops of oil into the water and carefully observing how many turned into eye shapes. Those were said to be the sign that one or more people had sent the curse. She’d say a few prayers over the bowl then have me repeat this with her.
The prayers had to be repeated three times. I always wondered what my friends would think if they could see me now. Well anyway for the most part, I have to say it worked. Grandma was taught this method in her small village over in Italy by the village Strega, which is a witch in Italian.
And it wasn’t just me who got the old bowl treatment, but other members of the family. I used to wonder why so many people were giving us this curse?
As I grew older those headaches seemed to disappear, and I wondered if I was no longer a victim of the Evil Eye. After grandma passed, I was sorry I hadn’t learned how to perform this method. It was a tradition. But then again, I didn’t think my children would believe in such a thing. Seems this was regarded by the older generation.
My mother was extremely superstitious, and I remember some of the methods she used to ward of bad spirits. I still carry out some of these traditions to this day.
Some of them were: to salt the perimeter of the house and the front door, wearing a small sachet of herbs pinned to her bra, and placing a brush above the doors. Placing a bush above the doors was said to ward off the witches, as they have to count the bristles and by the time they were done, the witching hour was well over. And anytime you even spoke of witches, you had to cross your legs. And just for the record, my legs are crossed right now writing this post.
I mention the Olive Oil treatment and the Strega in one of my books, Beloved Sacrifice, which is based on true facts my grandma told me about her family while living in the village in Italy.
Those stories stuck with me till this day along with the superstitions. I still have my golden horn but have lost my special sachet of herbs a while back, which I had worn for many years as my mother did. I am researching more about what may have been in those sachets and would love to make a few again. I mean, who couldn’t use better luck?
I haven’t ever in my life planted any bulb in the garden, preferring to them the easy-to-care perennial flowers. This year has been an exception, and I started to consider that my yard, although has a nice variety of flowers, doesn’t see any blooming before the end of May.
For this reason, in September I decided to buy some bulbs, plant them in pots and have them, protected from the winter in the greenhouse. The plan seemed to have no flaws. The bulbs would have the time to develop during the winter in a semi-protected climate and in an environment that wouldn’t have attracted any birds, wild cats, rabbits or so. At the end of October, I went to the greenhouse to clear the ground from the dead tomatoes and cucumber plants and check that the soil of the bulbs was still keeping moisture.
You can certainly imagine my surprise when I noticed very neatly dug holes in the pots where the bulbs were planted.
All the bulbs disappeared: “A thief!” I exclaimed, and I started to search for who could have been responsible. The suspects were:
What I couldn’t consider possible was the action of a mole. There wasn’t any hole in the ground, and it would have not been easy for them to reach the surface, climb the pots dig the holes, and take the bulbs.
The third was the most accredited suspect: The squirrel.
The way the holes were dug, would require a couple of little hands, a thing that only a squirrel had. I was more amused than angry, after all the wild animals needed those bulbs more than I could ever need. Nevertheless, the second batch of bulbs I planted had been protected by nets, a sprinkle of garlic, and chili pepper. So far, no thief has dared to trespass, but I also left some food for the winter to compensate for the fact that the squirrels won’t get access to my garden. I hope they’re satisfied with the arrangement.
The story written by:
© P.J. Mann
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