29 December 2011

Ketchup or Catsup or Catch Up?

When I was a child, there was only one kind of red tomato stuff in our house: Heinz Ketchup. True, we did live north of Pittsburgh so we might be a little biased. After all, the Heinz Factory was a compulsatory field trip for every elementary school in the entire Western Pennsylvania region and everyone had one of those "pickle pins" by age twelve, but their ketchup was the best. (Still is, in my humble opinion.)

When I was very young, I thought catsup was "cat soup" and I wouldn't touch it. Now according to a number of sources on the Internet, there is no discernible difference between ketchup and catsup. Both are made from tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, and other spices. But there is a difference in taste, at least to my mind: catsup always seemed more watery, tasted more vinegary, and never stayed on fries well enough to not drip down your shirt.
Oh and by the way, what's the best way to release ketchup faster from the glass bottle?
Apply a firm tap to the sweet spot on the neck of the bottle— the cicle with "57." Only 11% of people know this secret (from Heinz.com).

What's all this got to do with anything? Playing catch up at the end of the year always reminds me of ketchup, ketchup reminds me it's not made of cats, and Soup is wonderful to have for dinner in cold weather because it can cook all day in a crock pot, allowing you to catch up on all the stuff you've put off till now. See? Full circle.

To catch up with the month is a tough assignment this year. I'm closing my office after thirty years of chiropractic practice on Tucson's southside. Oh, I'll still see patients on occasion--by appointment only, please--but I'm slowing things down to slide into semi-retirement. It's rather depressing to see an empty office. Friday, December 30 is the last open day and we've been moving things out all month. My extra bedroom looks almost ready to be featured in an episode of Hoarders with all the artwork, reference books, shelves, filing cabinets, and furniture we've crammed in there--with more to come with the final haul on Saturday. Plus the usual holiday bustle, company, baking, etc, has me more than a little frazzled.

So thank you for your patience, Dear Readers, and I hope to blog more regularly in the new year. May 2012 be a good one for us all, even if the Mayans are right. (Personally, I think they just ended their calendar on December 21, 2012 because they figured people would know how to extrapolate future dates by then!)

Celebrate safely, responsibly, and enjoy ketchup on some tasty fries!

05 December 2011

As the Light Fails

It's the last month of the year and while it's not unusual (Tom Jones' voice is now ringing in my head...) to be busy, I'm frazzled and it's only the fifth. Could use a fifth, but that's another blog.

Is it the waning daylight that makes everyone in the Northern Hemisphere feel so rushed? Less daylight so less time to get things done "in a day." There are still twenty-four hours in one, so you really still have the same amount of actual tick-tocks. Waking at the normal six a.m. feels forced, a chore to drag one's self out of the cozy warm bed while the sun remains below the horizon. Working the nine-to-five, it's dark as you're driving home, wanting to hurry to get into your Snugglie and light the fire logs. In contrast, during the "lazy days" of summer the light lingers and we enjoy our leisure until the last few hours before midnight.

Or is it the media rush with the "End of Year Extravaganza" of sales pitches and "last minute deals"? "Hurry and buy before it's all gone!" We're pushed and prodded earlier each year to skip right to the Holiday Rush. "Black Friday" started the week before Thanksgiving this year. Watch out--next year the stores will likely start the madness on Halloween!

Can't we linger and enjoy the end of the year a little? The Celts celebrated Yule as the end of the shortening of days, knowing each day would hold the light a little bit longer from the winter solstice onward. It's a happy time, knowing the dark won't last forever--though when that alarm goes off at six a.m. and you can't find the bathroom light switch, it certainly seems like it will.

We also pack the last month of each year with BIG expectations. Family gatherings should be Norman Rockwell Perfect even if your biological units definitely put the funk in dysfunctional. The perfect gift alludes us, giving or receiving, and depression rears its ugly visage at this time like no other.

Everything deadlines on the last day of the last month of the year. Paperwork has to be finished, inventories taken, tax receipts and donations documented. Doesn't mean you have to file, mind you, so why get all hyper about it?

Physician, heal thyself, as my friend the EMT is fond of quoting to me. (Yes Rogue, this means you.) I'm as guilty as the next person of getting into a tizzy this time of year. But after this week, after Saturday in fact, my calendar empties out just a bit and I've promised myself not to fill it up. I have an office move to complete, and company coming for the holidays, so I'm cutting back on other things. My house won't be as brightly lit, and I may not have every room decorated, but as long as the furnace works and we have food to eat, who cares? My days will be shared with family and friends--and those trump decor every time.
We should slow down, not dive headlong into the blitz. Take a moment to enjoy being with the people you love during the festivities that abound this time of year. Don't fret so much about buying "stuff"--give a gift of your time. It doesn't have to be right now this minute, but give a certificate for an afternoon chat, a matinee movie, a coffee and scones break. Then choose a date and mark it on your calendar and just do it. What memories you make can last a lifetime, far longer than anything that requires batteries.

Pink Floyd (Mason, Waters, Wright, Gilmour) said it best in their song "Time":
Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time.
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines ...

Time is the most precious commodity of all. Don't be afraid to use it to create wonderful gifts: happy memories of laughter and stories shared.

Happy Holidays,