Wednesday, April 15, 2015

_The Hancock News_ Column-- April 1, 2015

Life lessons can be learned wherever you are if you just take time to listen.

Last week I took my son to the library to participate in a Minecraft program. If, like me, you are clueless about Minecraft, basically it’s a video game that involves building things, or at least that’s how I understand it. It’s wildly popular, and my children are a bit obsessed with it even though they’ve only played it once.

For the two hours at the library, I had the opportunity to search for books, grade a pile of math papers, and marvel at Miss Ashley’s patience with a never-ending stream of highly repetitive questions from ten youngsters. The librarian answered questions at the rate of one about every 15 seconds while also redirecting less-than-desirable behavior. She never once snapped at a child. It was inspiring.

While listening to all the chatter, it occurred to me that some of the help she gave could be taken out of context and applied to life in general.

“Guys, let’s not set other people’s things on fire.” Inarguably, this is important for people in all walks of life. If only those people in Ferguson, Missouri, had a librarian teach them this important lesson!

I also heard, “Nobody can have the whole world to themselves, so we need to share the space.” This one my children understand; you can’t be in a large family and not learn that space is at a premium. Unfortunately, all you need to do is attempt driving in rush hour traffic to realize many people haven’t had a Miss Ashley in their lives to tell them about sharing the road.

Wisdom wasn’t entirely owned by the librarian, however, and the children came up with a few good ones, too.

My favorite life-saving exclamation came from a highly excited boy:  “Hide from the poison thrower!” While I’m not quite exactly sure how this applies to the real world, I’m certain this is sound advice.

Lastly, one pint-sized sage warned, “If you dig a hole too deep, you can’t get out.” How true that one is! I know I’ve done that before, and if it weren’t for the kindness and help of others, I’d likely be in a hole still.

Too often we adults bristle at the idea of accepting help from others. It hurts our pride when we can’t manage on our own, but, at one time or another, we’re all in that humbling position.

All of those children in the library that day were good role-models for us adults. They were smart enough to ask for help when they needed it and to be thankful when they received it. I hope I learn to be so gracious.


There are times in the kitchen when there are just no extra hands to help. Making a holiday meal all by yourself can be overwhelming. I’ve learned from smart folks to make as many things ahead of time as possible so the big day is less stressful and more enjoyable.

I bummed this recipe off of a friend who has helped me out of a hole more than once. It’s easy, and I plan on using it for a delicious make-ahead salad to free up my hands on Easter Day. There are variations on this that use thawed-out frozen vegetables instead of canned ones, so if that’s what you have on hand, feel free to substitute.

Marinated Vegetable Salad

1- 16 oz. can petite peas
1- 16 oz. can french green beans
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 small jar pimentos
1- 12 oz. can tiny shoepeg corn
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 cup green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup salad oil (like canola)
3/4 cup sugar

Drain and mix together all vegetables in a bowl. Heat the marinade ingredients (vinegar, salt, pepper, oil, and sugar) to a boil. Let the dressing cool to room temperature and combine it with the vegetables. Cover the salad, and let it marinate in the refrigerator 24 hours (or overnight). This will keep for several days in the refrigerator.

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