Smart, Mouthy Women


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20140414104238_00043A20140414104238_00023AI’ve been thinking a lot about family lately. We had a small family gathering/reunion a couple weeks ago. My dad’s siblings all came, along with spouses, a few of my cousins and my “little” brother.

Nancy, my Uncle Charles’s wife, had had hundreds of family photos scanned. Thank you, Nancy!

We spread the originals on coffee tables and pulled out a magnifying glass to examine the old photos. But we also went new tech and plugged a thumb drive into the TV. My dad argued with his brothers and sister about who was who and who wasn’t. We never could get them to agree on a few people, and those were the ones we could at least begin to guess who the people pictured were. Was that Dad or Uncle Charles? Was that really Grandpa? (Bonnie & Clyde!)

I now have nearly a thousand photos of people in Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma, family, but people I don’t know.

I know a handful of family names: Sims, Clenney, Freeze …

I can guess that we have more in common than I might want to admit. I was one of three oldest girls cousins at the gathering. We hadn’t seen each other in years. We couldn’t even identify the last time we three had been together. But we discovered in each other traits we recognize in ourselves. We are smart, mouthy women. We have quick tempers, but we will defend those who can’t defend themselves. We love intensely, passionately.

I bet that description fits a lot of the women in those photos. The photos show men and women in love, playful, stern. They show children, many, many baby pictures. Brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents. The photos show hard-working people. I don’t see evidence of riches, except in the family ties and traits we share.

I’m proud to be a part of this history, this family. I hope to identify these family members and learn our connections. 20140414104238_00003A 20140414104238_00005A 20140414104238_00011A 20140414104238_00026A 20140414104238_00036A  20140414111339_00006A 20140414111339_00002A


Good Help Is Hard to Find: EMS Workforce


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EMS Workforce Agenda for the Future in the Spotlight

The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that demand for EMS practitioners will grow 33% by 2020, making EMS among the top 10 fastest growing jobs over the next 10 years.

The ability of an EMS system to deliver high-quality prehospital emergency care depends on a qualified and capable workforce. “Several years ago, members of the EMS community expressed concern about the state of the EMS workforce, especially with regard to recruitment and retention and worker safety and health,” says EMS Specialist Gamunu “Gam” Wijetunge, with the NHTSA Office of EMS.

So how does an EMS agency go about finding and hiring that workforce?

This is one of the freelance projects I was working on recently. Read more in the EMS Update newsletter.

Remembering the Heroes of 9/11



Thinking of Cecilia Lillo and Ginny Quinn today. Carlos and Ricardo are among the heroes of 9/11. We won’t forget.

Three hundred and forty-three FDNY firefighters and officers died in the line of duty on Sept. 11 while responding to the World Trade Center attacks. Carlos Lillo and Ricardo Quinn were the two FDNY paramedics who died when the South Tower collapsed.

I will never forget you!

According to Buddha …

A family is a place where minds come in contact with one another. If these minds love one another, the home will be as beautiful as a flower garden. But if these minds get out of harmony with one another, it is like a storm that plays havoc with the garden. If discord arises within one’s family, one should not blame others but should examine one’s own mind and follow a right path.
—The Joy of Mixology: The Consummate Guide to the Bartender’s Craft
by Gary Regan

Yes, I get my philosophy from drinking books!

Sunday Review


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I like Sundays. Sundays are for sleeping late, a big cup of coffee, CBS Sunday Morning, the farmers market, music, baseball, a cat playing nearby, my husband reading in the chair next to me and a good book. Today’s book was Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I like Gaiman’s way with words.

“There was still a monster in my house, … The dread had not left my soul. But there was a kitten on my pillow, and it was purring in my face and vibrating gently with every purr, and very soon, I slept.”

To tell you what this book is about would do it an injustice. It’s a story with depth beyond any synopsis I might give. In this book, you look inside the soul of a person, remembering, living. It must be read. I will read it again.

And again.

And again.

Taste for the Day


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I don’t cook much, but I do have a few specialties. One is my pecan patty recipe. Of course, saying it’s mine is only true in the sense that I’ve stolen my mom’s recipe and adapted it to John’s and my tastes. Thanks, Mom (Judy Sims):

Pecan Patties
This recipe is more feel than exact. You can substitute items, add to or subtract from it. The key is to ensure you’ve got enough herbs and spices to add the flavor you like. You can also make these vegan, but they don’t stick together nearly as well. If the eggs are large, you’ll need fewer. There’s a vegan variation at the end. Makes about 12-18 patties and takes about 20 minutes.

  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped fine (you can add in some chopped cashews if you’d like). If you like the flavor of walnuts better, you can replace the pecans with walnuts.
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (French bread or white works best) and/or cracker crumbs (I usually combine them), chopped fine
  • 1/2 onion (white or red OK), chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup chopped mushrooms, optional (Mom never adds these; I do for John and me)
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley flakes (fresh is better if you’ve got it; again, chopped fine; use more of the fresh than of the dried)
  • A dash of cayenne pepper
  • A couple of shakes of paprika (smoked is really nice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt or powder
  • A splash of soy sauce
  • Any other herbs or spices you have on hand; oregano, basil, cumin are all nice to add.
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 2 or 3 eggs, well beaten
  • Mix well.
  • Take a big spoonful (the mixture should stick together and form a ball easily) and drop into a frying pan with hot oil (don’t be stingy on the oil; you don’t want to deep fry these, but you need to do more than just moisten the pan). Flatten down slightly to form a patty. The heat should be on medium. Cook until golden brown. Flip and cook on other side. Remove from pan and place on paper towels to drain slightly. Quickly move to dry surface of a plate or casserole dish. Serve immediately.

    You can also cover with tomato sauce and grated cheese, any type of gravy, barbecue sauce, put in the oven to keep warm and serve.

    You can refrigerate overnight, reheat in the oven and serve.

    Vary the nuts, herbs and spices to achieve the flavor you like. My mom always adds cheese.

    Vegan Variation
    The key point is to leave out the eggs, but you still need the patties to stick together. Dissolving a little corn starch in cold water — about a teaspoon of cornstarch in about a 1/4 cup of water — should work as a substitute. It won’t stick together well, no matter what, and you’ll probably come up with something more like pecan patty crumbles, but it will still taste good. The crumbles would work well in a tomato sauce with pasta. Treat like a meat sauce.