Political Correctness-Political Reality-the Real World Part One

As a person with a background in journalism, I have always tried to write in an unbiased way when it came to NEWS. I make no bones about it when I am expressing an opinion, but in trying to report the facts, I try to do just that.

In this day and age, when reporting the news is more about who can be the first to disseminate the information, facts are sometimes secondary; you can always submit a retraction! OR, the other thing that is done, is reporting half the news because it fits your agenda; only share half the quote, present facts that are not relevant to this day and time. I have had this blog rolling around in my head for a long time. I could never have it gel into a readable prose so I opted to let it keep spinning and spinning and spinning. It just didn’t seem that I would ever be able to put my thoughts down-until today! This may still become a rambling but I hope you will bear with me as I try to help us make sense of this insane world. And I will try to do my best to stay on topic. (That is the nice thing about blogging, I can always edit and let it sit before I publish. But it will be my words and I will research facts. The best of both worlds, news and editorials!)

Even is this world of social media, worldwide connections and instant news, people in the United States are still pretty naive about other countries. Today I blog about immigration, the law and the reality.

My research showed that the United States has some of the most lax laws when it comes to immigration. For example:

In Mexico, you must  speak Spanish and must be a professional who is useful to the Mexican society.  All government publications are done in English. If you are a foreign business, you must pay your workers higher than a Mexican based company. (Article 32). If one wants to live in Mexico, proof must be shown that there are enough necessary funds to support themselves and their dependents.

When my family lived in Spain, we found that some of those same rules applied. I do not know if the laws have been amended, but when we were there, a foreigner had to show proof of funds to live and could not be in the country to work in a job that could be filled by a native. One of the cooks at the restaurant where we frequented was actually a doctor from Russia. She told us that it was better for her to cook (her husband owned the bar) than to practice in the Barcelona area. In Cataluna, you were required to be sufficient in Catalan, as you needed to be able to treat natives in their native tongue. She said that the requirements were too strict for her, as an immigrant, to practice medicine. (It was lucky that the company for which my husband worked was a worldwide country, so he could do business in English. He did learn Catalan and I learned Spanish though.)

The Guardian, a newspaper of England, in 2015, reported that a law will go into effect that…’Non-EU migrants who have spent more than five years working in the country will be required to earn £35,000 per year or else face deportation, according to a policy that comes into effect in April next year.’ That is over $49,300 a year in American dollars.

To immigrate to Canada, there is a point system. You get points based on your work experience, your education, your language, age and adaptability to Canadian life (Yes, that is on the point structure) “The Canadian government also takes adaptability into account when evaluating any applicant. The adaptability category addresses a potential applicant’s perceived ability to adapt quickly to life in Canada. The Canadian Government will award any applicant who has relatives in Canada or has spent time in Canada working or studying.”
Read more at http://www.canadavisa.com/canadian-immigration-requirements.html#kFxD70dGg7AwKJTo.99 http://www.canadavisa.com/canadian-immigration-requirements.html The United States does not have an adaptability requirement that I could find.

Speaking English is not a requirement to apply for a Visa to live and work in the United States. In Mexico and Canada, you need to speak their language (for Canada it is English and/or French) Whether that actually happens, I do not know, but that is their law.

The United States requires that proof be shown that the new immigrant will not live in poverty. But it states that if the sponsoring company or family cannot provide proper documentation for income, the sponsoring entity can go to other sources and have them provide supporting documentation and it can include property, bank accounts, assets that can be liquidated within the year. So the US is bending over backwards to help people meet the financial requirement. (I mean can you imagine a sponsoring families extended family selling their home to provide you income, say a cousin of the sponsor? That cousin could be one an additional sponsor and use their home as proof of necessary funds) https://www.uscis.gov/green-card/green-card-processes-and-procedures/affidavit-support

There are those who want our borders opened for all. Really? We don’t want to know who is coming into our land? We don’t want to weed out the thieves, murderers, mortally ill, those dependent on their native governments for assistance (which means when they come here, they are dependent on our government). Do we want un-skilled laborers who will need government assistance to live here? It doesn’t make sense to me that there are people out there who don’t care about those things.

I pay my taxes; I donate my time to non-profit organizations; I donate to our food bank and give clothes (new and gently worn) to our local business, run  by our ministerial association. (It is the equivalent to the Goodwill or Salvation Army.) But I have limited resources. Believe it or not, our country has limited resources.

If you are looking at me cross-eyed now and think that I am insane, let’s take this home, literally! Think of your home, would you leave your doors wide open for anyone to walk into your home? What if you have a one-bedroom apartment, would you want 4 or 5 living with you? Are you willing to pay for all of their expenses because as a sponsor, you are supposed to guarantee it. Yes, the majority of the time, you might be okay and safe. But we have locks on our doors, to keep our loved ones safe from harm. We have security passwords for our bank and credit card accounts to ensure that our finances are safe from dishonest people.

That is all I ask, that we look at what we can do, and do it, but realize that there is a reason for vetting immigrants. It is for the safety of our country; it is for the safety of our loved ones. I was an immigrant in a foreign country. It was not an easy process, but we went through all of the steps because that is what was required. And look outside our borders when people become so judgmental of our process; every country has immigration policies and many are stricter that the United States.

If you are so adamant about immigration but would not be willing to sponsor an immigrant to this country and guarantee the 125% funds that are required to secure an immigrant, then you are just words. I believe in controlled immigration.

I am grateful, as a third generation American, that my great grandparents came to this country. I am grateful that they went through the proper channels that I am a U.S. citizen.

I will continue on this venue. I will write next on how things have changed and we can’t treat immigrants in 2016 like our ancestors were treated. I will relate a communication that spurned me to write.

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Hearing God in the Wind and the Waves

A totally different world, that is the best way to describe it. Living in the United States, we have no concept of structures that are 500-1000 years old. But there we were, driving through a city in which you can be in a modern office building and walk across the street to a Gothic Cathedral or an ancient Roman wall that was built before the Spanish Inquisition. Imagine seeing a wall still standing that was built-in the 1300’s or a Cathedral that still holds mass and has been standing for 563 years. That would be our life for almost a year as my husband took a job implementing a software system near Barcelona, Spain.

I will never forget the day we left. Our children were 3-years and 5-years old at the time. It was the Saturday before Easter and we were getting ready for the biggest, most daring adventure that we could imagine. We tried to keep everything a normal as possible for the children. We took them to the annual Easter Egg Hunt in our community and then came home for lunch. Our bags were already packed, two per person and our carry-on bags. It was an overnight flight with hopes that the children would sleep through the majority of the trek overseas. The children got a bubble bath with bubbles overflowing and then put in clothes that were comfortable enough to sleep.

We would need to be at the airport by 5:00 pm for our 6:00 pm flight. Needing to leave home by 4:15 pm, my nerves were starting to show and I felt jittery all over. Would we be able to adapt to living in a foreign country? Would I find any friends? Would the children fit in to their new surroundings? I took French in college, would I be able to learn Spanish and communicate well? These were just a few of many questions I had. But there was no way that I would outwardly show my fear. I needed to be strong…

As we drove through the downtown area of Barcelona, tall buildings towering over us (we made a wrong turn and were lost), we drove past statues celebrating, or in memoriam, of someone or something. We would eventually have the time to learn about all of those statues but that night, we just wanted to get to the flat. We had left home 19 hours earlier and we were dealing with a seven hour time difference. As we drove past the Barcelona Zoo, I remember thinking how appropriate it was that this adventure begins on our 12th anniversary, the other great adventure of my life.

Finally we arrived to our flat. It was beautiful, the 5th floor of a six floor apartment building. We would live across the street from a high school on one side, a garden nursery on another side and the Mediterranean Sea was our balcony view. In fact, we were only 200 meters from the sea. In the evening we could sit out and look at the cruise ship lights in the distance and hear the crash of the waves. (This becomes significant in my story.)

Because we knew that our stay in Spain was temporary, we took as much free time as we could to visit the sights, see all we could see. My husband worked long hours and many times he left before the children were awake and home after they were in bed. As we would arrive in the spring, the children and I would have adventures during the day or go to the beach or pool and many trips to the zoo. They would eventually go to an English/Catalan school but the spring/summer was ours.

Poor man’s coffee connoisseur

I love coffee! I love good coffee! But I cannot afford Starbucks’ or Scooter’s or Jidders’ Coffee House coffee for two reasons: 1) I live out-of-town and do not go into town every day and 2) while Jidders, a local coffee establishment, has reasonably priced coffee, it would still cost me over $35.00 a week, with tip and that over 52 weeks totals $1800+.  I know that I can think of more ways to spend $1800.00 than in someone else making me coffee.

SO….I needed to find a way to create that same coffee, whenever I wanted it, at a reasonable price. Having lived in Spain made the first step to my solution simple. When living in Spain our family adopted the philosophy that we needed to become Spanish and live as the Spanish. While I had purchased an auto-drip coffee maker, I decided that since the Spanish thought American coffee as ‘dirty water’, I needed to invest in a more proper coffee maker.

I purchased a stove top espresso maker. In Spain it is just called a coffee maker because they do not categorize their coffee as espresso; you can purchase cafe’con leche, cortado, cafe’ solo or carajillo (coffee with milk,  coffee with less milk, coffee with no milk and coffee with brandy). In Spain all coffee is based on what we would call espresso. My 24 oz. coffee mug is unheard of and the largest cup would be 8 oz.

When we moved home I wanted to continue on with my Spanish coffee style. The stove top coffee maker moved home with us and my auto-drip coffee maker was relegated into storage.

For years, I would make my coffee, add milk and sugar but still head to the coffee shops for my latte’ fix. Now I had owned an espresso/frother machine in the past but I really liked the stove top method and decided against purchasing a new espresso machine. But I needed a solution to my coffee predicament.

As I was walking through a Target Store one day, I saw a hand frother and new that I was on my way to becoming independent. I purchased the frother and then got about to testing  the heating of milk to the proper temperature in my microwave. I determined that 2 minutes gave me the proper heat and frothing ability. I did discover that freshly opened milk froths better than milk that has been opened for a couple of days.

I was disappointed this week when I was reading a magazine and there was a quote about swapping out those unwanted, useless gadgets, ‘like the frother you received from Uncle Fred‘! I love my frother and would not exchange it for the world. It saves me money and helps start my day right.

The last step was to find syrups that were sugar-free and reasonably priced. I went to the internet and searched and searched and searched and found  http://www.lollicupstore.com. This website has a great variety of sugar-free syrups and when you add in the shipping,  it might average out to $8.00 per bottle of syrup (a guess). The bottles range from $4.50-4.85 a bottle. Shipping is expensive, but worth it because of the variety and it is delivered UPS to your door. I usually stock up once or twice a year and order 12-15 bottles at a time. It is definitely less expensive than $1800.00 a year and the sugar-free varieties are greater in my home coffee shoppe than any coffee shoppe I have ever visited.

I am not a coffee expert but I like good coffee and a great latte’. People who know me, know that I carry my Mickey Mouse Mug where ever I am in the morning. I have approximately 13 oz. of coffee and 8 oz. of frothed milk. My variety ranges from ‘Almond Joy‘ to ‘Bing’ candy bar to caramel pumpkin to Peach Melba.

My new discovery is added syrup to the milk prior to frothing. I add sugar-free vanilla syrup. It adds another layer of complexity to the coffee and it reminds me of homemade vanilla ice cream as I sip through the froth to get to the coffee.

While this system may not be for everyone, if you like a good coffee but don’t like the expense, I would invest in my system and enjoy what you like, when you want it and not worry about needing to get out of your automobile or sitting in a drive-thru.

It definitely works for me and it makes me, not a poor man’s coffee connoisseur but an economical alternative to the expensive coffee shoppes.

ENJOY! Today was Caramel Pumpkin Latte’ with Vanilla Bean Froth. I am getting ready to make my second up.

I am a Foodie/Am I a Foodie?

I am a foodie. Or am I? Food evokes wonderful memories for me. Everything about food fascinates me. I relish in learning how foods are prepared, the background/history of a recipe and the experience of a new taste. I also am a food snob sometimes. I hate it when a person tries to place their recipe or restaurant in a category that just doesn’t fit. But….they think that some are not well-educated and they think they can get away with their deceit (that explanation later).

I am in no way a gourmet but I do appreciate the finer foods of life. When I have people over for dinner, I try to make a meal that will be memorable for them. I do try to stay away from traditional Midwest cooking, the standard rump roast with potatoes and carrots or chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes. While those are foods I will make for my family, I try to be more creative with guests.

This propensity may come from my upbringing. My grandmother and mother were/are great cooks. New recipes were always just a meal away. When my grandmother died, I was chosen to be in charge of all of her cookbooks. I now have hundreds of cookbooks in my home just waiting for me to peruse. I am to look through them to make sure there are no side bar notes in recipes or loose leaf recipes in the pages. My problem is I want to look at every recipe and see which ones I want to keep.

Family dinners were always something to which I looked forward.  In my family, there were certain foods that were only made during certain holidays. We only get creamed pearl onions on Thanksgiving. Same for mashed sweet potatoes with pineapple. A full turkey was only roasted at Thanksgiving and “real” ham (bone in smoked) was only done at Christmas. Pumpkin pie…only at Thanksgiving.

When I became an adult and was married, my husband and I began our own food traditions. Some from my childhood were gone away. Others were created. For instance, we usually purchase more than one turkey at Thanksgiving so we have one in the freezer for a later roast (or smoke), likewise with ham. No one time a year, for us. Same goes for pumpkin pie, we have it when we want. There are just some foods that are too good to have only once a year. If my family like creamed onions, I would make them. As it is, I have made them only once in the eleven years that we have celebrated Thanksgiving in our home. My husband likes sweet potatoes whole with brown sugar and butter only. No fancy, mashed with pineapple, sweet potato for him. That is fine. While I do like what I grew up eating, I am also fine with undoctored sweet potatoes.

When we were first married, we split our fall/winter holidays. If we spent Thanksgiving with one side of family, we spent Christmas with the other. Our small family started celebrating Thanksgiving with just us when we lived in Spain. We liked the time together and found that, after moving home, we missed not having that intimate time to celebrate in our own home. While we have never limited the number of guests in our home at Thanksgiving, we do not go to someone else’s home. There are some years when there are just four of us. Other years may find 8-10 celebrating.

Now I get back to my food snob designation. We lived in Spain just under a year. But in that time, our life was greatly impacted and changed forever. I cannot speak for my other family members, but I found that I am truly a Spaniard at heart. When I am here, I long to live in Spain. When I am in Spain, I do not long to be back here. I often tell my husband that if he dies before me, I will move to Spain.

We immersed ourselves in the Spanish life. Our children went to a local, private school, not an American school. We lived in a Spanish community, learned the language, ate the native food, ate fast food only rarely and learned as much as we could about the history of Spain while we lived there. For all intense purposes, I became Spanish. I actually have a hard time saying Spanish, because we lived in Catalunya where the language is Catalan and it is rather different from most of Spain. (for those of you who do not know, Barcelona is in Catalunya. We lived about 26 km up the coast from Barcelona)

When we moved home, we looked for Spanish wine, Spanish food, anything Spanish and it was not to be found. As the years passed from our life there, Spanish things began to show up in our area. We were so excited when a Spanish restaurant opened in Omaha. We went there one night and found out that the owner had an uncle that owned a restaurant in Catalunya. In fact, my husband would eat there every week on the day they served paella. We had a wonderful time. It was so good that when friends, who lived an hour away from Omaha, came to visit, we made reservations.

We made early reservations so they could get home to their young children at a decent hour. About an hour before we were to arrive at the restaurant, someone calls and says that we had reservations but that we would have to give up our table after an hour! That is unheard of in Spain! Once you are at a table, for the most part, it is yours. In Spain, an evening meal will last up to 4 hours and we had less than an hour to eat (taking into consideration the time to prep the food). I explained to the person that was not the Spanish way and how could they expect us to enjoy a traditional Spanish meal in an hour. They said they didn’t care and we would have to relinquish our table after an hour. I got know where with the manager either, so needless to say, we did not honor that reservation and never went back with that owner. We went back under new ownership and the food was just not that good so now we have never been back.

Years after that fiasco, a lounge opened that touted that they served tapas. My anticipation for a true tapas bar was dashed when I went online and looked at their menu. Now if you say tapas, you should think Spanish, just like when you see an Italian restaurant, you would think pasta. Not the case, this “tapas” bar had french fries, nachos, chicken wings on their tapas menu. Those are not tapas, those are appetizers. As someone who lived in Spain, I can tell you that I never went to a tapas bar that had nachos or chicken wings on their menu. Their menu would have pan con tomate (bread with tomato), aceitunas (olives) almendras (almonds), numerous types of fish/seafood but not nachos! I really was concerned that people in the area would actually think that what they were getting was tapas. Their definition of tapas did not give a proper representation of the true experience. I frankly, was offended.

That is how I knew that I had become a food snob. I believe that if you say that you represent a certain ethnic food, you should be loyal to that country. If you are Mexican, serve Mexican, not Tex-Mex. If you serve Tex-Mex, say so. You can have other items on the menu to appeal to the masses, but don’t say you are one thing and then not have it on the menu.

Maybe that is one reason why I have so many cookbooks because I want to be an informed cook. I would not say that I am a purest because there are many times that I make a modified ethnic food. My daughter says she loves my refrigerator Chinese. That is where I open the refrigerator and see what I have that is fresh and then stir fry it with rice, definitely not authentic Chinese. But I do not represent it as anything other than what it is, using what I have in the frig before it goes bad.

I think I have gotten myself into a food blog mindset so keep checking back for other thoughts on food or foods of thought. I already have streaming in my head thoughts of food from Spain, my “mini’s” theme on a Progressive Dinner in which I had the first course, cookies and oh the list could go on….

Latte’ for the day has no name. I combined some end of the bottle flavorings and ended up with chocolate, white chocolate, toasted marshmallow and coconut. Pretty tasty!