For 18 years (and then another 62) we celebrated our birthdays together. Me on May 7 and Grandma on May 8. Some years, like this one, Mother’s Day is also in the mix. Twenty years ago, May 2 became our very own Gotcha Day and thus, with this celebratory triumvirate, John Lac and I continue the long tradition of angel food cake with pink buttercream frosting.
Being part of that generation that took up the mantra to never trust anyone over 30 I had trouble in the weeks leading up to that birthday but Richard (already in his fourth decade) smoothed the rough edges for me. Fifty was fun and 60 even better as I knew retirement was close and within a year I developed a detailed four-year plan outlining major tasks to be accomplished before May 2017. But 70 is being a bit of a mental challenge as I keep wondering how I suddenly got so old. I may just need more pink frosting.
Leave it to Jon Stewart to tackle the tough topics and shed light on injustices. Just as he advocated for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, even going so far as to lambast Congress in a 2019 impassioned testimony on Capitol Hill for a woeful response to health care for emergency personnel, he is now shining a light on the traumatic impact of Burn Pits.
Never heard of Burn Pits? Neither had I.
During Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) government contractors burned TONS of hazardous waste using jet fuel. Think about a micro-minute of annoying smoke when you’re roasting a marshmallow over a campfire and now multiple that irritation by an incalculatable number with acres of fires raging 24/7. Military personnel breathed contaminated air day and night as fires consumed the products of everyday life – plastics, rubber, human waste, all mixed in with war waste – amputated body parts, ammunition, and chemicals. The resulting exposure to this toxic cocktail has wounded thousands of veterans. But just as it took decades for our government to acknowledge the long term effects of Agent Orange, there is only minimal recognition that breathing this bad stuff is bad for your health.
In his new series, The Problem with Jon Stewart, Jon does what he is famous for – shares a hard truth encased in humor to make us think. We hear his opinion but, more importantly, we hear from people impacted by the problem. And, not just “Wendy Whiners” but people offering solutions to affect change. His first episode introduces the viewer to veterans and their families facing life threatening health challenges as a result of Burn Pit exposure.
As we celebrate Veterans Day and Richard’s 75th birthday, on this day commemorating the end of World War I on “the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” and honoring all U.S. military veterans, we are making a contribution to Burn Pit 360, a 501(c)(3) “dedicated to improving post-deployment health outcomes.” Join us in supporting our troops and veterans – for real.
This was a kitchen day from mid-morning to mid-afternoon while prepping Richard’s simple birthday celebration requests.
Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake – Modified from one large springform pan to four small 5-inch silicone & glass bottom pans since there are just the two of us celebrating together in these Covid days. The topping is still to be determined. Do I go with simple fresh whipped cream, the recipe prescribed Amaretto flavored whipped cream, or a decadent chocolate glaze for a chocolate-on-chocolate birthday treat? (Decisions. Decisions.)
Barbecued short ribs – In the slow cooker after modifying Mom’s c. 1940 rib recipe from the Good Housekeeping cookbook she received as a 1945 wedding present.
All to be toasted with Glenlivet 15 Year Old French Oak Reserve, his early morning present. Additional packages mailed to Eau Claire to ensure secrecy will have to wait as we opt back into semi-self-quarantine with Minnesota and Wisconsin experiencing pandemic spikes.