Jan
30

A Letter For My Daughter & Her Parents, From Her Birth Mother

Jennifer A. Ray on Jan-30-2016

I am a birth mother, and today is my daughter’s birthday. I have never met her, but I think about her all the time, especially this time of year.

I’ve never doubted that adoption was the best thing for my daughter at the time, although I have frequently wondered what might have been if I hadn’t needed to give her up. I wonder if we would have a relationship as good as the one I have with my own mother? I wonder if we would share similar tastes in music, movies, books, clothes, food… I wonder what she has chosen to do with her life, whether she has found a career that she loves and makes her feel fulfilled. I wonder if she has started her own family yet, if she has children of her own now.

I wonder if she knows about me. I wonder if she knows she is adopted. If she knows how much I loved her then and still do now. I wonder if she’ll ever realize how often I think about her.

I wonder if her parents know how indebted and grateful I am to them for giving her the things I couldn’t. I wonder if they’ve ever been curious about me. I wonder if they’ve ever wanted to contact me.

I don’t regret my decision to choose adoption. I only regret the circumstances of my life at the time that made that the best choice for my daughter and for me.

I hope she feels loved and cherished by her family and friends. I hope she is healthy and happy.

People often ask me why I don’t find her. The answer is simple. I gave up my rights when I gave her up for adoption. She is the one with all the rights now, in my opinion. As she approached her eighteenth birthday some years ago, I hoped with all my heart that she might come looking for me when she came of age. Sure, I’ve thought about looking for her myself just to see how she is doing, but two thoughts plague me every time I even remotely consider it.

First, while I left it open for her family and her to contact me if they ever wanted to, I really have no idea if she knows if she is adopted. I worry that if I found her, something might accidentally slip and cause her pain, which is the last thing I want. If she doesn’t know she is adopted, I don’t want to be the one to reveal that, whether purposely or accidentally.

Second, there is a dark part of my mind that worries if I tried to find her, I’d discover something terrible had happened to her like being killed by a drunk driver or something at a young age. Right now, I can hold on to the hope that her life has been better than it would have been with me. If I found out that wasn’t true, I think it would destroy me.

But if she ever contacted me, I would be so happy to meet her, to get to know her and her family. I want so much to meet her parents. I can’t ever compare to them, could never take their place in her life, but I would love the chance to see her smile, to give her and her parents big hugs, and to hear about their lives together.

May
25

Memorial Day

Jennifer A. Ray on May-25-2015

Thank you to all who have served to protect our country and paid with the ultimate sacrifice.

Charles Kent Purcell II was my mother’s only brother. He wrote the poem “Depressed” about his experience in Vietnam shortly before he was killed there. My Grandparents sent a letter to C Battery with Uncle Kent’s poem. Grandma and Grandpa also sent a copy of the poem to Congressman Sykes of Florida, who read the poem to the full House of Representatives in Washington, DC.

The following was included in the “Congressional Record” in 1969, as Congressman Sykes addressed the House:

“Mr. Speaker, young Charles K. Purcell is dead. He was nineteen. His parents live in Valparaiso in my district. Two weeks before his death he wrote a poem. His Mother gave it to me when she told me that he made the supreme sacrifice for America. This nineteen-year old had a home and a wonderful family. He had a girlfriend, too, and a great many friends, for he was a wholesome American boy. All of them know what he has done and what other nineteen-year olds are doing for their country. Perhaps his poem will help the rest of us to do more – even just a little more – to bring about victory.”

“Depressed”
by Charles K. Purcell II

I’m an American soldier,
My country I protect.
But I fight in Vietnam
Which I did not select
I was happy, I was care-free,
Still young and full of life.
I was torn from my world
To help end this strife.
I didn’t want this war,
I just can’t see the light.
It’s for our homes and families
So I will have to fight.
The Cong is our enemy,
The fight is always near.
But at home the draft card burners
Are attacking from the rear.
At home they pay no notice
They could care less.
“Let the fools go over there,
Heck with the bloody mess
The clergy pray for us,
The Mothers fret and cry.
We lie here and hope and wait,
At home they all just sigh!
“He was a good ole guy,
too bad it had to be.
I know it is a terrible thing,
But better him than me.”
The girl friends drop the soldiers.
They cannot wait for some
Who are fighting to protect them,
But never may come home.
The war continues on,
So I will let it ride.
I can last for just a year,
For God is on our side.

–House Congressional Record
22 May 1969

Feb
06

Lashonda & the Cable Guy

Jennifer A. Ray on Feb-6-2015

I nearly split my side laughing when I heard this one!

This is an audio file – click the play button below to listen to it.

Feb
06

Dickens’ Cider

Jennifer A. Ray on Feb-6-2015

This just never stops being funny…

This is an audio file – click the play button below to start it.

Feb
06

True Optimism

Jennifer A. Ray on Feb-6-2015

True Optimism..

A couple has twin boys of five or six. Worried that the boys had developed extreme personalities — one was a total pessimist, the other a total optimist — the parents took them to a psychiatrist.

First the psychiatrist treated the pessimist. Trying to brighten his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with brand-new toys. But instead of yelping with delight, the little boy burst into tears.

“What’s the matter?” the psychiatrist asked, baffled. “Don’t you want to play with any of the toys?”

“Yes,” the little boy bawled, “but if I did I’d only break them.”

Next the psychiatrist treated the optimist. Trying to dampen his out look, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with horse manure. But instead of wrinkling his nose in disgust, the optimist emitted just the yelp of delight the psychiatrist had been hoping to hear from his brother, the pessimist. Then he clambered to the top of the pile, dropped to his knees, and began gleefully digging out scoop after scoop with his bare hands.

“What do you think you’re doing?” the psychiatrist asked, just as baffled by the optimist as he had been by the pessimist.

“With all this manure,” the little boy replied, beaming, “there must be a pony in here somewhere!”

Feb
06

Mary at Home Depot

Jennifer A. Ray on Feb-6-2015

Charlie was fixing a door and found that he needed a new hinge, so he sent his wife Mary to Home Depot.

At Home Depot, Mary saw a beautiful bathroom faucet while she was waiting for Walt, the manager, to finish waiting on a customer.

When Walt was finished, Mary asked “How much for that faucet?”

Walt replied, “That’s pewter and it costs $300.”

“My goodness, that sure is a lot of money!” Mary exclaimed. Then she proceeded to describe the hinge that Charlie had sent her to buy, and Walt went to the back room to find it.

From the back room Walt yelled, “Mary, you wanna screw for that hinge?”

Mary replied, “No, but I will for the faucet.”

This is why you shouldn’t send a woman to Home Depot.

Feb
06

Roger & Elaine

Jennifer A. Ray on Feb-6-2015

Whenever I read this, I’m torn between laughing out loud at its hilarity and shaking my head at the truth in it.  🙂

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Let’s say a guy named Roger is attracted to a woman named Elaine.

He asks her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a pretty good time. A few nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else.

And then, one evening when they’re driving home, a thought occurs to Elaine, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud: ”Do you realize that, as of tonight, we’ve been seeing each other for exactly six months?”

And then there is silence in the car. To Elaine, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: Gee, I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he’s been feeling confined by our relationship; maybe he thinks I’m trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn’t want, or isn’t sure of.

And Roger is thinking: Gosh. Six months.

And Elaine is thinking: But, hey, I’m not so sure I want this kind of relationship, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I’d have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily toward . . . I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?

And Roger is thinking: . . . so that means it was . . . let’s see. … February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer’s, which means . . . lemme check the odometer . . . Whoa! I am way overdue for an oil change here.

And Elaine is thinking: He’s upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I’m reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed — even before I sensed it — that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that’s it. That’s why he’s so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He’s afraid of being rejected.

And Roger is thinking: And I’m gonna have them look at the transmission again. I don’t care what those morons say, it’s still not shifting right. And they better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What cold weather? It’s 87 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves $600.

And Elaine is thinking: He’s angry. And I don’t blame him. I’d be angry, too. I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can’t help the way I feel. I’m just not sure.

And Roger is thinking: They’ll probably say it’s only a 90-day warranty. That’s exactly what they’re gonna say, the rats.

And Elaine is thinking: maybe I’m just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse, when I’m sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly do care about, a person who seems to truly care about me. A person who is in pain because of my self-centered, schoolgirl romantic fantasy.

And Roger is thinking: Warranty? They want a warranty? I’ll give them a warranty. I’ll take their warranty and stick it right up their….

”Roger,” Elaine says aloud.

”What?” says Roger, startled.

”Please don’t torture yourself like this,” she says, her eyes beginning to brim with tears. ”Maybe I should never have . . .  I feel so. . .” (She breaks down, sobbing.)

”What?” says Roger.

”I’m such a fool,” Elaine sobs. ”I mean, I know there’s no knight. I really know that. It’s silly. There’s no knight, and there’s no horse.”

”There’s no horse?” says Roger.

”You think I’m a fool, don’t you?” Elaine says.

”No!” says Roger, glad to finally know the correct answer.

”It’s just that . . .  It’s that I . . .  I need some time,” Elaine says.

(There is a 15-second pause while Roger, thinking as fast as he can, tries to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work.) ”Yes,” he says.

(Elaine, deeply moved, touches his hand.) ”Oh, Roger, do you really feel that way?” she says.

”What way?” says Roger.

”That way about time,” says Elaine.

”Oh,” says Roger. ”Yes.”

(Elaine turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse. At last she speaks.) ”Thank you, Roger,” she says.

”Thank you,” says Roger.

Then he takes her home, and she lies on her bed, a conflicted, tortured soul, and weeps until dawn, whereas when Roger gets back to his place, he opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a tennis match between two Czechs he never heard of. A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he is pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, and so he figures it’s better if he doesn’t think about it. (This is also Roger’s policy regarding world hunger.)

The next day Elaine will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyze everything she said and everything he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression, and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible ramification. They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it, either.

Meanwhile, Roger, while playing racquetball one day with a mutual friend of his and Elaine’s, will pause just before serving, frown, and say: ”Norm, did Elaine ever own a horse?”

Feb
06

Cheese Muffins

Jennifer A. Ray on Feb-6-2015

These delicious cheese muffins have a slightly sweet flavor and a light texture like a muffin rather than the density of a biscuit.

Cheese Muffins

3 cups flour
7/8 tablespoon Baking Powder
1/3 tablespoon Baking Soda
1/4 tablespoon Salt
3/8 cup Sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 pound cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup eggs — approximately 1 1/4 eggs
1 cup buttermilk

Sift dry mix. “Cut” butter into dry mix until you can make clump with handful (like a snowball.)
However, when you touch it, it should “crumble” easily.
Add cheese.

Take eggs and buttermilk and mix well. Pour wet into dry and mix by hand. Mix until consistent.

Spoon into muffin pans and bake at 400 degrees for 8 – 10 minutes.

Yield – 20 muffins

NOTE: Do not over work when cutting butter not dry mix – this will result in tough bread.

Leave mix until at room temp. Do not refrigerate and reuse.

Feb
06

Mexican Macaroni Casserole

Jennifer A. Ray on Feb-6-2015

This is so tasty, and really can serve well as either a side dish or a main dish.

Mexican Macaroni Casserole

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup green onions — sliced
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
14 ounces chicken broth
8 ounces Monterey jack cheese with peppers — shredded
1/2 cup sour cream
8 ounces rotini — cooked and drained

In a 2-quart saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the onions; cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch, cumin, and salt. Gradually stir in the chicken broth until smooth. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over a medium heat and boil one minute. Remove from heat. Stir in the cheese until melted. Stir in the sour cream. Pour over the pasta; stir to coat. Spoon into a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Feb
06

Tiger Butter

Jennifer A. Ray on Feb-6-2015

This stuff is dangerous.  Nothing this tasty and fattening should be so easy to make.

Tiger Butter

6 ounces White chocolate chips
6 ounces Semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter
non-stick cooking spray

Spray cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Melt white chocolate chips in the microwave, according to package directions. Stir in peanut butter, until mixture is smooth. Pour onto cookie sheet, and smooth with a spatula. Don’t worry about getting it too smooth, just smooth it out until it fills the bottom of the pan. Melt semi-sweet chocolate chips in microwave according to package directions. Pour on top of white chip mixture in cookie sheet. Smooth over white chip mixture, to roughly cover it. Swirl with knife. Place in freezer until hard, about 4 hours. Crack into pieces by inserting a knife held perpendicularly to sheet. Makes a various number of pieces, total depending upon how large you want your pieces.

Serving Ideas : VARIATION: Substitute 6 crushed candy canes and 1/8 tsp. Peppermint extract for the peanut butter.

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