A General, A Politician, & A Salad?
Quick! If someone says "Julius Caesar," what comes to mind?
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Almost everyone has heard of Julius Caesar, but how many of us really know much about him, or at least that's what Red starts to wonder when she receives the usual flippant, but still accurate, reply from her sister, after feeling very proud that she knew that July was named after the famous Roman.
Which is what got Red to realize, much to her surprise (shock, if truth be told), that even as a straight-A student with a love of history, that when it came to Julius Caesar, a famous historical figure and possibly one of the greatest generals and statesmen of all time, she couldn't tell you dates or battles or anything "historical" associated with him.
Even as a theater major in college, she never read Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," although she knew just enough about the play to know that it was where the fortune teller warned Caesar to "Beware the Ides of March." Instead, her knowledge of Caesar came from her love of movies.
My first, and probably my most enduring, memory is of a brilliant general who not only commanded armies as he conquered lands far from home but was a great statesman who was also involved with one of the world's most beautiful women. And while he was Julius Caesar and the woman was Cleopatra, to me, they'll always be Rex Harrison and Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra, a movie almost as controversial as the general himself.
And Black? Besides knowing that Caesar Salad was invented by a different Caesar, she appreciates Julius Caesar's leadership skills and way with words,
There is much we can learn about leadership from Julius Caesar, whether on the battlefield, in politics, or in business (start small, take risks, communicate well), including what ultimately led to his death (always consider worst-case scenarios, never get complacent or arrogant). Many of his quotes speak (pun intended) to his powerful way with words, and the ability to not only deliver a message but to inspire (and story tell), with my favorite being, "I came, I saw, I conquered."
Today’s a national holiday … for a reason. And although it may be a day of fun, festivities, and maybe even relaxation, it’s important to stop and think about the true meaning of the day …
We all “celebrate” Memorial Day differently, but we all should remember it’s a day to honor those who gave their lives serving this country.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Memorial Day may be the unofficial start of summer, and Red remembers celebrating over the years with family get-togethers, barbeques, and pool parties; whereas Black “celebrates” most holidays by having a quiet day to work uninterrupted, but it’s important never to forget the significance of the holiday.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the festivities, but as a lover of history, I was fascinated to learn the history of Memorial Day goes back to the Civil War. But what’s most important is that we each find a way to remember that Memorial Day honors those men and women who’ve given their lives for this country.While Black believes,
Today is a day to put aside politics and think about patriotism. It is about gratitude. About sacrifice. About honoring those who paid the greatest price for believing in something that is bigger than all of us.
Think about what the day means to you or read the words of others who pay respect to fallen members of the military (here and here). And join us in observing the National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 p.m. local time.
If you’re looking for a reason not to mow, there’s logic behind letting it grow …
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: As is often the case, Red hadn’t heard of the latest trend, “No Mow May,” which is all about lawn maintenance (or the lack of it) until Black started sending her articles about it.
Growing up on Long Island, everyone in our neighborhood wanted a lush, green lawn. It wasn’t until we were older that we realized how much time and money it required to achieve it. That it doesn’t just happen. But now, it has become the latest environmental issue.
At first, Red thought that not cutting your lawn for an entire month might be a joke. But then she read a few articles (here and here) explaining how leaving your yard alone could help Mother Nature by positively impacting bees and other pollinators. Plus, giving your lawn a rest from fertilizers, lawn mowers, and leaf blowers is good for the environment.
It made sense to Red, except right now, she’s been working hard to turn a collection of bare patches in her front yard into an “acceptable” lawn,
My yard’s a mess. Weeds so numerous they look like ground cover, just enough grass to suggest there might be hope, and big, beautiful oak trees that insist on “drinking” all the water. Which means I’m having to deal with my homeowner’s association (HOA) and their “dire” letters of warning. (This isn’t an exaggeration, as anyone who lives under a strict HOA knows all too well.)
Red doubted she could stall the HOA with an environmental excuse, but remembered that when she lived in England, she was struck by how yards seemed more natural vs. “perfectly landscaped” – what she thought of as a carefully planned mess. So, she now wondered if the English were onto something way before “No Mow May” ever came along.
Black admits to having a black thumb (seems rather appropriate) and claims she could kill a silk plant, but that didn’t stop her from wanting to know whether “No Mow May” was as beneficial as it sounded,
Of course, there are pros and cons to “No Mow May.” Interestingly, neither side disputes the importance of the underlying logic behind the first two words (“No Mow”), but as an ongoing approach, not a one-month experiment.
If you’ve never thought about May Day, don’t worry, most of us haven’t.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red appreciates that some holidays have historical significance, some have ancient traditions, and some are opportunities for one of Black’s unexpected, but often amusing and clever, comments, but May Day checks all those boxes.
As soon as Black mentioned pole dancing, Red, a lover of movies, immediately thought of “Hustlers.” No, not “ The Hustler,” the 1961 classic with Paul Newman as a small-time pool hustler. Instead, “Hustlers,” the 2019 release with Jennifer Lopez about pole dancing hustlers that showed it took more than a desire to make money, but skill and athleticism.
But Red had no idea the significance of May Day Maypole dancing. When she lived in England, May Day was a bank holiday, and she knew it had a long history that went back to the Celts, but that’s all she knew. Until recently, when she learned it’s an ancient and festive holiday filled with history and folklore, started by the Celts who thought May 1st was the most important day of the year as it separated the year into light and dark.
Which explains the beginning of a celebration of spring with singing, dancing, and bonfires that still continues. However, it doesn’t explain how in the late 19th century, May Day became known as International Workers’ Day to celebrate workers and promote labor rights.
And what about the Maypoles? Well, as Red discovered,
It was during the Middle Ages when the now famous Maypoles were believed to become popular, not only to welcome in spring but as a symbol of fertility, as the pole symbolized male fertility, with baskets and wreaths symbolizing female fertility.
When Red felt the need to share all this history with Black, her sister couldn’t help but respond with,
Although this has nothing to do with May Day, all I can say is “ Mayday. Mayday.” Which, if you do not speak French, is based on m’aider and means “Help me.”