I’m Speechless So I Guess Hell Froze Over

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I’m Speechless So I Guess Hell Froze Over

For those who know me and would never have fathomed I’d ever run out of things to say, I must announce that the day is finally here. Hell froze over and I’m speechless, dumbfounded and can’t even think of anything to write about.

This of course is no surprise because in order to find new and interesting things to say you need to live your life out in the world. Since that is something I can’t do right now thanks to COVID, what is new and exciting to report?

The world is an interesting place when you’re in it, but since we’re forbidden from venturing forth into the outside climes, well I have to admit it’s a bit boring.

Sure I could watch television and moan about the people going out sans mask, partying and spreading the virus to innocent people. Freedom schmeedom, because we’re free can we explode a bomb in a crowded theater? I think not.

Or perhaps I could bitch about the fact that the geniuses that run the states and cities are letting criminals out of jail so they can go on killing, raping and committing crimes in a safer environment. Should I sleep better at night knowing that someone who raped ten women is not in danger of catching the virus?

Maybe we can talk about the fact my hair looks awful, my nails are non-existent and my roots are growing faster than a politician’s lies.

We could talk about these things I suppose, but why? Life is depressing enough right now.

I’m well aware sitting home, watching television and eating isn’t a hardship, although most men would be far happier if their television schedule included sports. Sorry about that, guys. There are worse things than staying at home, sitting on the patio reading a book, feeding the squirrels and zooming with your grandchildren all day.

Yet, I’m afraid these activities don’t really make for very interesting conversation.

How many times can you ask a friend, “So what did you eat for lunch?” I sound like my father who felt monitoring his children’s caloric intake was akin to brushing your teeth each day.

I imagine one could ask, “So what did you buy online today?” Yet truly having Amazon deliver a box of Softsoap isn’t the most sparkling topic.

Besides who needs to shop when were all in our pajamas and sweats?

Okay, so here’s the deal…I’m making up a pretend life. After all I’m a writer and should have a vivid imagination so now’s my time to prove it. I’m going to tell you about the week I wish I’d had, but couldn’t because I can’t leave the damn house!

So in my imagination I’m in Roma. Italy, not Ohio. I didn’t need a plane to fly there because I took a magic carpet that I borrowed from a friend down the street who just returned from her pretend trip to Istanbul. Maybe I’ll fly there next week, no masks and lots of empty seats beside me on the rug.

Anyway we’re back in Rome and I’m walking toward the Spanish Steps. Boy, those are high and my feet are already complaining. I decide to sit for a moment observing all the thousands of people walking about in the square hurrying toward their next destination or favorite outdoor café for the world’s most delicious pasta.

Ahead of me is the Via del Corso, the premiere shopping area in Rome and women rush about carrying bags labeled Fendi, Gucci and Dior as their heels clackity clack on the cobblestone streets.

In the distance are the hills of Rome; magical and legendary like a painting by an old master.

Two kids walk by eating cones with gelato dripping down the sides, their mother wiping their hands as they struggle to keep licking their precious treat.

Four young men are standing at the base of the steps speaking Italian, smoking, laughing and checking out women as they pass. Italian men, gotta love ‘em. Some women pretend not to notice, but smile as they walk past flattered to be noticed and admired. I think how nice it would be to be young again as I pull out my phone and check Vatican tour times.

I grab a cab and head to St. Peter’s Basilica to see the impressive statue of St. Peter, his feet shiny and worn from all the pilgrims who’ve rubbed them in a desperate attempt to garner his blessings and help.

I stare up at the magnificent dome created by Michelangelo and I’m stunned by the way it catches the light filling the space with color.

To my left is a small alter containing two confessionals of dark, ancient wood. As I get closer I notice the worn steps at their entrances where so many have entered to ask forgiveness and a blessing.

I’m in line to enter the Sistine Chapel and look around at the unbelievable splendor of St. Peter’s Square filled with tourists, priests, nuns and worshippers from all over the world.

Some obese guy I’m guessing from New Jersey by his accent, in Bermudas and Adidas bumps into me and almost pushes me over as a bird poops on my shoulder. Damn, I just had this pashmina cleaned and I search for a Kleenex in my purse.

Ecstasy returns in the chapel as I’m instantly stunned by the sheer magnificence of the space. My eyes hardly know where to focus first. I sit on a bench and look up confused about what side to stare at and my eyes become glued to Adam and God nearly touching. I sit transfixed until I hear a loud clap accompanied by a loud shush. I return to earth and notice the room is still and wonder what’s happening. I continue to stare and in another twenty minutes the clap and shush once again.

I inquire about this strange incident to a nearby observer and I’m told it’s the Sistine Chapel shusher who regularly claps and shushes to reduce the noise level. I decide to apply for that plum job as soon as I leave and remain staring upward until my aching neck insists it’s had enough of all this magnificence.

I head out to an inviting restaurant in Rome’s ancient, Jewish ghetto to experience another Roman culinary masterpiece. My fat self is praying they have good stuffed squash blossoms as taxis and people whiz by me on the busy streets, overflowing with bougainvillea and the sound of clinking glasses and murmurs of “chin chin.”

I’ve left Rome and now I’m back from my adventure sitting on my couch, typing in my jammies and wondering if there are any of those yummy zucchini chips left over.

I’m wishing to see Rome again someday when all this craziness is only a horrible memory and life returns to whatever it will be. As long as Rome is still there, I’m good.

Happy travels on your own magic carpet, everyone.

 

Spinach Ricotta Balls

 

1 package 32 ounces of ricotta cheese.

1 package of spinach fresh or 2 boxes of frozen (if frozen squeezed out well)

Salt

½ cup of Parmesan Reggiano

A pinch of nutmeg

2 eggs

1 tablespoon flour

Spaghetti sauce (optional)

 

Drain the ricotta cheese in cheesecloth over a bowl until dry

Pour the ricotta into a bowl and add spinach.

Mix two eggs in a separate bowl. Add salt and at this point you may add a dash of your favorite Italian seasoning like basil or oregano to the eggs. This is your choice.

Add eggs to the ricotta and spinach and mix then add flour and mix until just incorporated.

Form into balls

At this point you may do a few things as you choose.

First add the balls to boiling water and cook until done and floating. Then serve them with sauce of your choice. May be tomato or make a sauce of brown butter and sage by melting butter in a pan with fresh sage leaves until the butter turns a golden color and smells nutty.

Second you may cook the balls in tomato sauce in the oven sprinkled with cheese. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Sinatra Gave Us “Cool”

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Sinatra Gave Us “Cool”

So we’ve all had lots of time to watch Netflix and all the rest of the streaming services that have little by little replaced network television in our hearts.

One of the things I love so much about this new entertainment chapter is the seemingly endless supply of new and interesting programming available any time night or day.

Last night at 9:30 as I crawled into bed, plumped my pillows and pulled the comfy quilt up underneath my chin, I began the flipping process hoping to land on something new and wonderful to capture my attention and escape the unpleasant reality of our COVID-covered world.

And there it was, right up front on Netflix, Sinatra, All or Nothing at all.

If there are two things my generation never seems to tire of it’s waxing nostalgic and Frank Sinatra.

So of course I began the journey of his life from birth to the end and although I had heard most of it thousands of times, I was transfixed once again.

After I’d finished watching the two-part series in tears of course, I wondered what it was about this man that so captivates and sustains our interest.

Oh yes of course we’ve had numerous superstar singers in our lifetimes, Elvis, John Lennon, Barbra, Mathis, Sammy Davis Jr. and they’ve all managed to attain legendary status.

But they just weren’t Sinatra, he was truly an original.

So why was he different? There are many reasons he’s been set apart, but one I think stands out for me…he bridges the gap between our childhoods, our rebellious teen years and our coming-of-age adulthood. His highly publicized ups and downs were out there to see and learn from.

Frank followed us through every stage of Baby Boomer life. It’s as if he arrived first to set the stage and then set the bar for cool.

Sinatra created cool. He was the very embodiment of the word and everything he touched absorbed the “coolness” from him. He and the Rat Pack even made a tacky place like Las Vegas cool. So much so that as a comedian playing Vegas for the first time I cried when I looked up and saw my name under Dean Martin’s on the marquis on the Strip.

Despite the fact he was our parents’ age, we still liked him, watched his movies and bought his records. Of course at the time we didn’t realize that one of the reasons we would not only embrace him as an artist and come to respect him as a person was that he had conquered life on his own terms.

He’d been repelled by racism and done something about it, he’d shown unbelievable loyalty to his friends, many of whom didn’t show up for him during the bad times, he’d been flawed and filled with faults, but compensated by possessing an incredible human side too endearing to ignore. He was simply his own man and no one owned or controlled him.

He didn’t worry about social norms, other’s insecurities or allowing anyone to set his limitations. He was in a word, Sinatra, and that word became a verb for our generation.

Despite mistakes he fought his way back to the top achieving even greater success and sang about high hopes and that little ant that could move a rubber tree plant. We believed him because why wouldn’t we, he was Sinatra? The man was a legend and yet just a regular Joe from Hoboken.

An ordinary guy who now hung with the 400 Newport set. He’d been at the forefront of Jack Kennedy’s election, a president we idolized. He could walk the streets of Harlem and relate to the people struggling to make it out and his humanity always shown through.

He was a strong force and didn’t need Facebook or Twitter to broadcast his message or retain fame. We didn’t have social media to point out all the shortcomings of our heroes and I’m thinking we were much the better for that.

He showed us another side of entertainers we loved like Sammy, Dean or Peter. If you hung with Sinatra and had his blessing, you had ours.

He lived the way so many wished they could. While most of us got up, went to work, raised our families, clipped coupons and wondered how actresses stayed so thin, he was Sinatraing his way through life. Dating beautiful women, hopping on planes to exciting destinations at a moment’s notice, hobnobbing with the most interesting and glamorous people in the world while doing the work he loved. He was living the Hefner dream, and men salivated while women found a strange, dreamy escape just hearing his voice.

Sinatra made no apologies, yet he acknowledged his mistakes and regrets, and like all of us he was incredibly human while creating the impression he wasn’t at all.

In the age of Superman who disguised as Clark Kent could leap tall buildings in a single bound, Sinatra leapt over convention and life’s obstacles to “do it his way.”

We never had any illusions about being Superman and those who attempted flying wound up in hospital emergency rooms with broken limbs. Yet somewhere deep inside we all believed we could be Sinatra. Cool, persistent, and able to leap over life’s insurmountable hurdles, while remaining hip and happening no matter what life threw our way. He wasn’t politically correct and shamelessly adored women and called them “dolls,” but that was a different era and he was a man of his times.

I was never lucky or perhaps unlucky enough to meet him, (that whole taboo about meeting our idols) but when I was the editor of the newspaper in Beverly Hills I attended a party after he was gone that Barbara Sinatra threw at his home in Palm Springs. I stood in the billiard room scanning the photos of the Rat Pack and others who’d held one of the pool cues lined up on the wall, glazed over like someone in a room filled with famous ghosts.

A final point, I was with friends in Miami when I was twenty-one years old. One night we went to Jilly’s hoping to catch a glimpse of Frank and his friends at one of their favorite haunts.

No we didn’t see The Voice or any members of the Rat Pack that night, but I had the best Egg Foo Young I’ve ever eaten. Yes, for those who know me, and how much I love food I reiterate, best anywhere anytime!

All I can say is leave it to Frank Sinatra to know where to get the best Egg Foo Young. But of course when you’re that cool, you would, right?

Crispy Chocolate Egg Foo Young

 

6 eggs

1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1 cup almonds

1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

1 cup chocolate chips (may use semi sweet, milk, dark or white as you prefer)

Beat eggs and add all ingredients. Pour into ¼ inch canola oil mixed with 1 tablespoon butter. Fry until crispy on both sides.

Serve with melted chocolate sauce.

Melted chocolate sauce

1 cup semi sweet chocolate morsels

½ cup milk chocolate morsels or block form

1 cup cream

1 teaspoon of rum flavoring or champagne whatever you choose. This is optional if you want it family friendly.

Heat cream until hot, but not boiling and pour over chocolate then mix until melted. Add liquor of your choice, and mix.

Pour over chocolate Egg Foo Young or any dessert you wish.

 

 

 

 

 

Are We There Yet, Mommy? Are We There Yet, Daddy?

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Are We There Yet, Mommy?

Are We There Yet, Daddy?

As every parent knows, the most annoying question bar none is, “are we there yet?”

How many of us have had to sit in the car and listen to that question ad nauseum from their children?

Okay my turn…Are we there yet, is COVID gone?

I am sooo over this whole hanging-in-the-house thing. I’ve been patient, stayed put watching Netflix, ate healthy and took walks.

Now I’ve morphed into shoveling in chocolate chip cookies and popcorn and spend more time flipping channels than watching programs.

Although I know the vaccine will be here in October, what will that mean?

The older generation won’t be running out to get stuck until they watch to see if anyone drops dead.

We’re too old to be guinea pigs and we’d rather watch from the sidelines than jump into the game. Besides jumping isn’t an option when you need a walker or cane and are still doing physical therapy for your new knee or hip.

So how will we ever get back to normal?

Aha! That’s the rub because even when we get out of lockdown, captivity or self-imposed quarantine the world we once knew is no longer there.

I feel like Burgess Meredith in the Twilight Zone episode when after a nuclear war he finally had all the time in the world to read his books unencumbered and he broke his glasses.

The pre-COVID world was a different place and especially senior citizens will have to accept that the world they knew is gone.

So what will replace the old world?

Well, COVID is not the lynchpin that created the changes, it only intensified what was already transforming.

Ever since 9/11 we’ve had to face the fact that the freedom of movement we’ve always enjoyed since the advent of air travel has been severely restricted.

Terrorism impeded our ability to run amuck along with our own aging bodies.

Sure we figured out a way to get that new hip, but we haven’t figured out a way to see London Bridge without a lunatic running up and stabbing people. Or walking through a German Christmas market without crazies attacking, attending a concert or sightseeing in Madrid or Nice or any number of insane events we’ve witnessed.

I haven’t mentioned Israel because terrorism is a way of life for them and something one accepts when they head there for a visit.

Yet impediments aside we’ve grabbed our passports, packed our carry on and bitten the bullet. We’ve become the “oh-well-what-will-be-will-be” generation and decided that our priority was to live, travel and see the world despite the obvious risks.

So what’s changed? Plenty.

We once believed that after those trips to London, Rome, Vienna or Prague, visits to Singapore, China or Viet Nam we’d return home to our safe perch in America.

Sure, crime existed, but we felt safe and secure in front of our televisions watching baseball and munching on chips and guacamole while running outside to check the ribs on the grill.

Guess that’s over. America is not the same country now.

After COVID most assume we’ll just go back to business as usual, unscathed and unafraid.

Sorry, we need a reality check here. Cities are burning, law and order is in flux and familiar sights and sounds in our communities are gone.

Neighbors who once disagreed over which football team would prevail now refuse to talk to one another over politics.

Families have separated, friendships been destroyed, cities are in chaos, favorite businesses closed, entire sections of communities burned and boarded up.

It’s like walking out of your house after a nuclear holocaust and into a city in ruins.

Am I exaggerating? Actually I’m not sure, but I hope I am. I’m also from Detroit where it took 53 years to bring back a city torn to shreds and resembling London after the blitz, so there’s that.

So many people I know have said they are through traveling and will be staying closer to home.

Yes, cocooning is the new norm. People will entertain in their houses, man caves and she sheds will become palatial and so well appointed the Four Seasons will pale by comparison.

Media rooms will be enhanced and back yards will feature the same elements as the most fabulous five star resorts.

Lush landscaping, pools and recreational games will fill what once was a grass-filled area.

In case anyone doubts that things have changed just do an attitude check on your own friends.

Everybody is just a little bit crankier than they were four months ago. Oh sure everyone is trying to be so brave and double chins up (that would be as a result of the COVID 15 pound gain) but we all know we’re totally over this and ready to break out.

Actually, that’s the irony. After the initial run outside to our cars, faster than a racer at the Indy 500 I’m sure, and that visit or two to the mall, lunch with friends and dinner out on Saturday night, one news story about a rise in crime and we’ll all be hanging in the man cave watching football and sucking down beers like it’s Superbowl Sunday every weekend.

I’ve promised myself I’ll travel more and have my destinations all picked out, but will my will be diminished by a new terrorist attack or perhaps a few new cases of the virus popping up? Or maybe by China unleashing some new plague from some bat they’ve been harboring in a lab somewhere?

The world has changed dramatically and although we all want to believe that once we can hit the ground running we will, our habits have changed and we may not.

We now order Amazon and watch Netflix on that new 80-inch smart TV, we love that new patio furniture and those plans for an outdoor kitchen like our best friends just installed.

Whether we’ve realized it or not we’re now conditioned to staying close to home where we feel safe and secure against an onslaught of insanity that permeates the outside world.

When the virus is gone, that will be gone, but it won’t take with it the other tragic changes we’ve witnessed in our communities and that is what will ultimately define our new lifestyles.

Are we there yet? Perhaps soon, but where we’ll be when we get there, now that remains to be seen.

   Champagne Grape and Almond Chicken

4 chicken breasts or boneless thighs

flour for dusting

½ cup of champagne

½ cup seedless red grapes

½ cup seedless green grapes

½ cup sliced almonds

½ cup of chopped celery or bok choy

1 ½ cups of heavy cream

½ teaspoon of tarragon

salt and pepper

Season chicken with salt and pepper and dust with flour

Sauté chicken in a mix of butter and oil until done

Add celery or bok choy or both and sauté for a few minutes, but keep the crunch in the vegetables

Remove chicken and set aside

Add champagne and deglaze pan then add cream, grapes, tarragon and salt and pepper to taste.

Lower heat and simmer until cream coats back of a spoon. High heat will break the cream and ruin the dish. Always thicken cream sauces on a low heat and never boil.

Add back chicken and reheat then serve immediately with almonds on the top.

 

 

 

 

 

We Need to Watch Blazing Saddles Daily

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We Need to Watch Blazing Saddles Daily

“Look at Jewish history. Unrelieved lamenting would be intolerable. So for every ten Jews beating their breasts, God designated one to be crazy and amuse the breast beaters. By the time I was five I knew I was that one…” Mel Brooks

I was about ten or so and I knew I was the crazy one when my fellow campers nicknamed me Giggles. I was often reminded of this designation by my father’s constant inquiries about my remarks and behavior when he asked, “What are you, some kind of comedian?”

Yep, Dad I guess I was. I learned at a young age that the only escape from the unpleasantness of life was Milton Berle, Sid Caesar and Jackie Gleason.

My escape always included someone saying or doing something stupidly funny. Milton Berle in a dress, Sid Caesar spouting some outrageous accent, or Jackie Gleason and Art Carney exhibiting their brand of the sublimely ridiculous week after week. Stupid equals funny always worked for me.

“Does anyone of our generation not laugh when they remember Art Carney’s attempt at addressing a golf ball, “Hello, Ball.” Or Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks as the 2000-year-old man or Jack Benny’s alleged stinginess? Perhaps you had your own favorite comedian on The Ed Sullivan Show; Myron Cohen, Richard Pryor, Jackie Mason, Flip Wilson, Jack Carter, Totie Fields, Henny Youngman, Senor Wences, Jack Benny, Godfrey Cambridge, George Burns, Bob Newhart, George Carlin and so many many more.

One could count on little in life except that there would be one of the world’s great comics performing on Ed Sullivan each week.

I’ve been asked countless times why so many Jewish people are comedians and the answer is not all comics are Jewish, perhaps they are just more obvious. Maybe their pain is more palpable than others. While many comics of that era observed the times, Jewish comics observed their own circumstances.

Laughing at their own existence is what made life bearable in a strange new world where so many struggled to feed their families.

For example Melvin Kominsky, AKA Mel Brooks was two years old when his father died leaving his mother with four young boys to feed. She worked tirelessly and suffered for her children and it would be impossible for Mel not to have been affected by his mother’s plight.

So many young Jewish comedians of that era found their release in laughter.

I can’t honestly remember any Rockefellers or Carnegie’s stepping on stage to tell jokes to the masses, can you? Not too many comedy clubs in Newport or Palm Beach back then.

Humor comes from pain and the greater the suffering the higher form the humor.

There is a legacy of suffering in Europe and throughout time that has forced Jewish people to look toward laughter to lighten their load. Humor is one of life’s greatest gifts that can be had for free.

The ability to destroy one’s enemies with a joke is an art that has been cultivated for centuries by Jewish and all people and must continue to be embraced in these harrowing times.

I won’t even get into the fact that anti-Semitism has had a great resurgence, suffice it to say we need our senses of humor now more than ever.

Yet, that is the conundrum we now face as a people.

The Jewish people have throughout time been credited for two healing discoveries aside from their other numerous accomplishments, chicken soup AKA Jewish penicillin and their sense of humor. I’m willing to bet the king’s jesters were the Cohens and Goldbergs in the kingdoms.

If nothing else the Jewish people discovered that laughter is the best coping and defense mechanism and have honed comedy as a method of survival. Sadly, today many lack understanding of the power of humor to heal and restore.

Great comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and others have lamented the fact they can no longer work on college campuses because young people are too politically correct and according to Jerry, “Don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.”

This lack of a sense of humor and understanding the true essence of how to do funny has been seriously corrupted.

Today too many comics bring the mean in lieu of the mirth. There is an art to humor and just insults and mean spirited attacks do not “bring the funny” but only add to the anger filling up space. There is a way to punch a hole in what one feels compelled to destroy and letting the air out of a negative balloon.

Being critical and destructive is no substitute for humor. There is a path to hilarity in every unhappy situation in the human condition and true comedians can find and exploit it with wit and skill.

Despots possess no sense of humor but have honed the art of ridicule. Humor should never emulate criticism laced with cruelty and far too many comic posers can no longer discern the difference.

Aside from Mel Brooks, one of the comedians capable of taking someone to the distant outposts of discomfort is Larry David.

Yes, some of Larry’s humor can make you squirm, but if you get his joke it can also make you laugh harder than anything. Great humor must occasionally broach thorny subjects to achieve its goals, but without that bravery humor is only a superficial laugh and no more.

Great jokes dig deep down into your soul where pain lives and exorcise that ache to rid it from your life.

At times winning a war is not always enough to destroy residual pain.

Case in point, “Springtime for Hitler.” Come on, is there anything funnier than a bunch of Nazis singing and dancing about their attempts to take over the world with chorus girls dressed as beer and pretzels? Mel Brooks is the master at doing Hitler but he is not alone.

Charlie Chaplin created the little tramp character to imitate the most evil man on the planet and reduce him to an object of ridicule, and he succeeded beautifully.

Laughing at or mimicking someone plunges a knife into their bubble of evil and contempt  puncturing the harmful effects and deflating the injury.

No one can be taken seriously when we are doubled up with laughter at his antics. Not too hard to figure out why becoming the class clown was preferable to becoming the class punching bag.

That’s why kids today miss the point. They mistakenly believe that by not mentioning it they can destroy the bugaboo. They are patently wrong. Hate cannot be eradicated by ignoring or legislating it out of existence.

If there is one thing I’ve noticed over the years it’s that comedy clubs are the great equalizer. People who are laughing together are not shooting one another.

No one screaming in pain at a joke is spouting hateful remarks toward others. Humor creates camaraderie among all people and bonds them in their suffering.

No society can exist without laughter and more than anything else I’m witnessing today that must give one pause is that the lack of humor is palpable. Laughing at our fears diminishes them while anger elevates. Everyone is allowing rage to fill his or her spaces in lieu of hearty laughs.

We need to chuckle together to solve many of the world’s problems, to seek out the tenth crazy among us to entertain with hilarity and we must chill out and let it all go. More than ever it’s imperative comedians bring the mirth not the malicious.

Every laugh lowers the level of hatred and pain, so laugh your asses off daily and encourage everyone else you know to do the same.

Watch Blazing Saddles, The Producers or your favorite comedy or comic and roar hysterically until you’re writhing in pain. If you do this I guarantee you’ll consume less calories and live a far happier and more positive life.

Puffy Chicken Apple Cheddar Bake

6 boneless breasts pounded until thin

Grated cheddar cheese

6 thin apple slices

3 strips of cooked bacon

1 box of puff pastry

Salt and Pepper to taste

½ tsp. Paprika

1 cup of heavy cream

Season chicken and place 1 slice apple, cheese and ½ slice of bacon on top and place inside square of puff pastry. Place egg wash around the square edges and cover with another square. Crimp the edges together with a fork. Brush with melted butter or if you prefer an egg wash and place on cookie sheet and bake according to the package instructions. Before serving pour cheese sauce over the top and sprinkle with grated apples.

Apple Cheese sauce

2 cups of cream

Grated cheddar

Salt and pepper

1 Teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

½ tsp. paprika

Grated apple

Mix together and pour over pastry or serve on the side.

 

 

From Clarabell to COVID-19. Have Baby Boomers Come Full Circle?

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From Clarabell to COVID-19.

Have Baby Boomers Come Full Circle?

As a child, Wednesday was my favorite day. Why? Well as any Baby Boomer knows that was “Anything Could Happen Day.”

This piece of information means little to anyone under seventy of course, but to my generation not privy to the wonders of Alexa and Instagram, “Anything Can Happen Day” meant mystery, excitement and something unique was about to enter our unsophisticated worlds.

For those of you who don’t remember and I’m sure you’re few, “Anything Can Happen Day” was the weekday on the Mickey Mouse Club when we could be surprised by a guest, adventure or anything out of the ordinary.

The other days we pretty much knew what to expect. Monday was “Fun With Music” Tuesday was the guest star, Thursday was “Circus” and Friday was “Talent Round Up.” We were also treated to serials like Spin and Marty, Corky and White Shadow, Annette, The Hardy Boys, all shows we anticipated and watched faithfully? Okay, why?

Was it merely because we secretly longed to be Mouseketeers or Meesketeers like Cubby and Karen? Were the Mooseketeers, Roy and Jimmy with his “mouseguitar” so appealing? Beats me, but I’d love to hear some thoughts and opinions about why we were so dedicated to those mouse ears.

As you probably guessed I have some theories or I wouldn’t have brought this up in the first place.

I think it was partly the thrill of belonging to something that was not only featured on that great new innovation that possessed us called television, but also that these kids were our age.

Our worlds back in the fifties were very small and protected. Most families had one car and we walked to school. Our friends were in our own neighborhoods and within walking distance, which is why we socialized with kids on our block.

Suddenly there was this new great invention that took us to worlds far away with people outside our sphere.

We became interested in their lives and adventures and felt a part of some strange new unique planet we could reach by simply turning a knob.

The Mickey Mouse ears were a symbol of something beyond ourselves and outside our comfort zones that made us feel energized and curious.

We were joiners back then, Soupy Sales had his Birdbath Club with its membership card and we could also buy and wear our own mouse ears.

We were cub, brownies, girl and boy scouts and this belonging seemed to come natural to us.

The delight in the assurance the world was far larger than our small corner made us hunger for more.

After we outgrew the Mouse, and I’m not certain we ever really did because Disney has remained a big part of all our lives, it was all about American Bandstand.

We rushed home from school to watch ABC’s daily dose of teen addiction as all the regulars danced their way through the show. There was a guest singing and chatting with Dick Clark or as I refer to him, the Dorian Gray of our generation. That man never aged and although he was a nice man I’m sure he had a picture in the attic somewhere that was growing old while he stayed young.

Just like the Mickey Mouse years we reveled in the feeling of being a part of the Bandstand phenomenon and bought magazines to keep up with the lives of regulars like Pat Molittieri, Justine Carrelli, Bob Clayton, Arlene Sullivan, Kenny Rossi and Carole Scaldeferri.

Wow! I’m freaking out right now that I remembered those names without having to look them up. Please don’t ask me what I had for lunch yesterday but fifty years ago, no problem. Actually the sixties are much clearer to me now than when I lived them.

But I digress.

What does it say about our generation that we were so willing to leap on the bandwagon and embrace Howdy Doody, Soupy, Micky and Bandstand?

Can we judge it as negative or was it truly one of the most positive things we ever encountered?

Okay, I’m going with positive here and not just because all my readers know how I feel about Black Tooth and White Fang.

Those early shows actually shaped our characters more than we knew and the lessons were subliminally woven through the fabric of our lives.

First, we became eager participants in society. Our experiences with these shows or the clubs they offered were positive reinforcement for the importance of being a part of something greater that existed outside oneself.

Second, it provided a better sense of the vastness of the universe. Our worlds were small and contained, but we were suddenly able to travel to distant lands and observe places that offered us new adventures in addition to reading. Sure, we had the cardboard spaceship of Flash Gordon, but no one was buying that whole flying-through-space-on-that-primitive- paper-cutout were they?

Third, it taught us that knowledge could be obtained anywhere. Outside of the schoolroom we continued to learn and grow as individuals.

And perhaps one of the most hidden and obscure subliminal messages came from Clarabell, Howdy’s favorite clown. No, I haven’t lost what’s left of my mind. Although he could only honk his horn to converse we realized that speech isn’t the only path to understanding and communication, and often we need to listen with our ears, instincts and at times our hearts.

We also discovered that “Anything Can Happen Day” is not only a metaphor for life because each day is unknown, but something we should embrace and if we’re open to the unexpected many amazing journeys await us.

There was nothing overt about these lessons and they seeped into our souls without our awareness they’d found a home. Yet they colored our lives, helped create the people we became and still today remain part of whom we are.

So by now you’re wondering how COVID-19 enters into this discussion. Well sadly it seems to have brought us full circle.

All the lessons of our childhoods that propelled us out into the world to travel, socialize and absorb are now stifled by this horrible invader that has us locked down. Once again we are watchers in front of the television and sadly at a time when most of us are free and able to move about in the world.

Okay, so it’s a flat screen nowadays and a great deal larger than the twelve-inch RCA black and white, but we’ve returned to living vicariously once again.

We must be content with travelogues instead of that trip to Tuscany we planned. We watch that chef prepare his special lobster bisque instead of visiting his restaurant in New York to taste it first hand.

We watch the Disney channel to keep up with our grandchildren’s favorite new shows, talk about coming full circle that damn mouse never left.

Sure, we’re back in front of the television again and of course there are far more options than the couple of channels we had as kids, but we’re prohibited from socializing, traveling or seeking those adventures we were programmed to undertake and embrace.

So life has changed and I know I’m not the only one anxious to get back out and live.

So please Clarabell, honk your horn for a cure for COVID so we can hear, see, love, live and engage without the need for Netflix.

Spaghetti Pie

1 generous serving of spaghetti cooked

2 eggs

1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup of spaghetti sauce

6 Meatballs broken up

1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese

1-8 ounce package of cream cheese

1 tablespoon of chives dried or fresh

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Salt and pepper

Place your cooked spaghetti in a bowl and add Parmesan cheese and 2 eggs and mix together well. Spray a 10-inch pie pan and place spaghetti inside pushing it up the sides to form a piecrust.

Place in a 350 degree oven and cook for 10 minutes until partially set. Set aside

Mix together your cream cheese and chives.

Scatter meatballs in a layer over spaghetti crust. Cover with a layer of sauce. Dollop the cream cheese on top and sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top.

Roll out piecrust to fit over top of pie pan with enough to tuck edge of crust under rim.

Cut in pie slices and serve hot. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Must Tell Our Grandchildren

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We Must Tell Our Grandchildren

Embracing evil and negativity cannot lead to a positive outcome, but only weave a fabric of unhappiness. We as grandparents need to ensconce our grandchildren in a cloak of optimism and love woven from the memories of our childhoods.

We all really enjoy sharing happy times with one another, but in these turbulent times it seems imperative we leave a memoir behind with our grandchildren for safekeeping.

Words of those who seek to bring down America can’t provide the solutions we need at this moment to achieve that more “perfect union.” Our generation opened the door to freedom and justice and the next can finish what we began.

Now indeed answers are essential, but should be offered up on a platter of peaceful dissent and positive dialogue. Perhaps we can never be the same America, but we can be an improved one. Our grandchildren can build a more perfect union only by using past positives as a framework.

I believe this is an excellent time to be reminded that history is not always spread most effectively through books, but also by stories and memories handed down through generations. Tales told by parents and grandparents become an integral part of our values and color our lives.

Now more than ever I feel compelled to tell my grandsons about what it meant to grow up in 1950s and 60s post-war America.

With so much negative energy spewing about at this moment I’m horrified to think children are engulfed in an atmosphere of incivility and rage thereby believing this is the true measure of our nation.

Although so many young people today assume baby- boomer America can no longer exist as a feasible entity, I submit that without a clear understanding of the past, our grandchildren cannot imagine a blissful future. Is the vision of an America providing a peaceful, happy environment now a dinosaur or an impossible dream?

If you don’t understand history, you can’t relive the best of times or create new, improved ones.

Living in this moment when all that is spoken about this country is disparaging and critical, our real soul and DNA is being buried under a sea of resentment and despair.

I’m sad that our grandchildren are hearing appalling stories about who we are as a people when it’s simply not true. Incivility and injustice are a cancer, but one that can be cured.

I can only compare current times to a divorced couple where one parent assumes control and only espouses hateful and cruel things about the other. The children will eventually absorb only a dark portrait of a parent, who although flawed might also possess good qualities worth emulating. Perhaps a talent never unearthed under a barrage of angry ranting and hated. If those children had known about their inherited potential it may have enhanced their success and future happiness. Thus it is with America.

The accusations being shouted in no way reflect a country filled with good and charitable people who spend their lives working hard, caring for their families and neighbors, and feel fortunate to have been born or emigrated here.

Back when our grandparents or great grandparents came to this country the phrase one heard so often was “the streets of America are paved with gold.” Now they are paved with fury, exaggerations and too many seeking to harm this nation in irreparable ways.

Our grandchildren can only visualize and achieve a greater future if we inform them about the best of the past. To dispute the naysayers we can regale them with tales of a childhood filled with fun, laughter and innocence.

I’m well aware that innocence will be difficult to achieve with the Internet and non-stop television news constantly pointing out our faults and flaws, and yes, of course there are problems to fix. Yet far too many want to throw out the baby with the bathwater and ignore what is good. We have corrected our flaws before and can again. The information highway our grandchildren travel flows two ways and blame is not the vehicle to drive.

Am I being a bit idealistic in your eyes? Perhaps, but that is the result of growing up with access to idealism, something we are withholding from our children. How can one achieve greatness without witnessing and recognizing its true nature?

How can our grandchildren aspire without champions to emulate?

Can they believe all is achievable when only bombarded with allegations that America is no longer the land of opportunity?

Can they feel safe if we succumb to lawlessness and no longer possess respect or regard for authority or those who teach them?

This is not a political issue, but one of character and the ability to live one’s best life. This goal should be important to everyone no matter the politics, color or religion.

Growing up in Detroit I saw things from both sides. When young there was such a sense of safety and security fear was a stranger. Then came the new normal when crime became bigger than life, and trepidation was a constant companion.

I personally felt the impact when I lost a member of my family to street violence, so I know first hand the horror.

Negativity and condemnation won’t allow our children to build a kinder and gentler nation.

Nothing born in such fury can come to good and embracing hate is a recipe for disaster.

Of course out of chaos can come order, but who restores that order is now of major concern.

We lived in a positive and happy time despite discourse, why shouldn’t future generations?

Although our childhoods consisted of numerous negative events, we could learn, grow and move on. Today negativity has woven itself into the fabric of our reality and seems inescapable. I guess I’m calling for all of us who have been fortunate to rip away that cloth and reweave it with love and peace for our children and grandchildren.

When we leave our historical memories will be buried and never spoken again.

We cannot go gently into that good night and take all the good with us. Sharing our childhoods and swimming in the comfortable sea of nostalgia has been cathartic, but why stop with just us if these precious reminiscences inspire our loved ones to achieve wonderful lives?

Telling our stories to those little faces we love so dearly is the greatest inheritance we can pass on and one that will remain to always warm their hearts.

Caramel Make Me Happy Surprises

This easy treat will help cure those Pandemic Blues!

1 bag (approximately) of any flavor of Hershey’s kisses unwrapped

1 bag of Kraft caramels (you can make your own if you wish)

Melt caramels in the microwave or in a double boiler and pour caramel out on a sheet of parchment paper or a cookie sheet until slightly cooled and pliable. Cut the caramel into squares and place a kiss on each. Enfold the kiss inside the caramel and create a ball shape. Roll in chopped nuts or coconut and drizzle with melted white or dark chocolate.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Time Travel? Quick, Book Me a Ticket!

 

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Time Travel? Quick, Book Me a Ticket!

I watched a program last night, (yes I admit I watch a great deal more television now and my IQ is lower I’m sure) on the making of the movie Back to the Future. My family has always been huge Steven Spielberg fans and attended the opening day of every movie. Aside from the good memories, the program prompted the realization no one has been able to conquer time travel and that made me quite sad.

I’ve always believed that Napoleon Hill’s quote, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe the mind can achieve,” is valid. Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Da Vinci, Tesla all dreamed dreams far ahead of their time and ultimately time caught up with and surpassed their visions.

Throughout time someone, somewhere sees the future and acts on its creation. Every new invention that ever arrived on the scene seemed to have the ability to be used for good or evil. Case in point Einstein splitting the atom or the Internet.

I guess I’m wondering if and when man ever masters time travel whether it will be too dangerous a genie to let out of the bottle.

At this moment in Bern, Switzerland the Hadron Collider, a humongous machine designed to smash particles and could conceivably create time travel is operating non-stop. Some critics have suggested it’s so powerful it could even destroy earth, (get in line).

What would happen if we could travel backward in time? Who would have the ability and what would it be used for?

Therein lies the conundrum.

If I could change time what would I do and where would I go?

Could I as one person truly affect history and prevent evil events like World War II from happening? When Hitler arose there were many powerful people who saw through him and his agenda. These were leaders with loud significant voices and yet did the world listen to the warnings? I think we all know the answer to that question.

If I personally through some crazy fluke woke up one morning and found a time travel machine in my living room, could I truly be the catalyst to prevent a world-shattering event?

So I’d put on my seat belt and check out the gears on the dashboard then realize I don’t have a clue how to work the damn thing and not even Alexa can talk to it. So I just start pushing buttons until something moves or starts to whir. If I get it started where would I go? I immediately decide to start with 1929 before the stock market crashes thinking that’s a no brainer. Off I go whirring through space and time and wondering if there was something a little sketchy in my last blood pressure prescription as the years fly by.

I land on the corner of Wall and Broad Streets in Manhattan outside the New York Stock Exchange.

So there I am standing on the street as the sea of people pass me and I take a beat and

walk into the exchange. I’m greeted by a receptionist who asks me the usual questions and I answer I want to see the guy in charge. She is now eyeing my sweats with enormous suspicion, but directs me to the sixteenth floor.

I’m wondering what I’ll say to someone that doesn’t even have computers yet, who I’m about to tell I’m from the future. Good luck to me.

When I arrive at the president’s office, Edward Simmons, his receptionist does the grilling and I’m desperately trying to avoid stating my real cause for being there.

She picks up the phone to call security and I rush through the door of Simmons’ office where he sits behind a desk reading. He removes his glasses and looks me up and down skeptically.

The secretary rushes in and tells him security is on the way and I know I’m running out of time.

“I’m here from the future and I want to warn you that the stock market is about to crash and everyone will run on the banks and it’ will be chaos and there will be people jumping out of windows and the country will go into a terrible depression for years until World War II and…”

He is standing and looking at me with fear and pity in his eyes. Convinced I’m a nut and certain he needs to get me out quickly.

“You’ll have to leave…”

I’m pleading now. “You have to believe me, I’ve come from the future and I know what’s going to happen. It’s terrible and you can stop it if you just suspend reality and hear me. There weren’t airplanes once but now there are and soon we’ll be on the moon.”

Two guards are dragging me out as he smiles and thinks, Boy, wait till the guys at lunch hear this one. I’ll call her the crazy Moon Lady, yeah they’ll love it.

I head back to my time machine parked in the alley and find two policemen watching the guy load it on a truck. I run to it and they grab me, and now I’m stuck in New York City just before the stock market crash, on my own and possessing only a story that ensures I’ll wind up in Bellevue Psychiatric Ward.

I’d have been better off traveling back to the day Jeff Bezos took Amazon public then borrowed and used every nickel I could get my hands on to buy the stock.

Do we all wish we could go back and change time? Sure. I’d have gone back to before World War II to save my grandmother and aunt from the concentration camps. Pearl Harbor or to prevent Kennedy from driving down that street in Dallas, and all the bad stuff I could think of personal or public. Would anyone pay attention to or believe my rantings?

Of course not.

So what’s the point of time travel?

I imagine on an individual level it might be great; or would it?

I myself would want to go back to growing up in my old neighborhood and revisit the things I’m nostalgic for today. I guess changing anything is off the table because of the butterfly effect, where if you alter one little thing it can cause unforeseen consequences.

Still, I’d love to spend time in the corner drug store at the comic book rack that turned filled with Superman and Archie comics. The soda fountain where the cutest guy in school and the neighborhood heartthrob turned out the best cherry cokes.

The smell of leaves burning at the curb in Autumn or Friday night dances at school then pizza afterward.

Going to Northland Mall on Saturdays and eating a Maurice Salad at Hudson’s, or buying my first lipstick at Kresge’s. Fishing in the everglades with my grandfather, walking on the porch of the Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island, or spending summers at camp in Northern Michigan.

Especially, I’d want to celebrate one more holiday with my parents and grandparents.

Yet, although I feel pulled by my heartstrings to go there, if I could how often would I?

And therein lies the rub because ultimately I may be spending more time in the past than in the present.

In today’s world the scary, sad events we witness make us want to escape into safer, easier times.

Think how much we’d use that time travel machine to transport back to those simpler days filled with innocence and hope for the future.

So I guess it’s a good thing no one has cracked that code in Switzerland or I’d sign up immediately. Bet I’d be meeting a whole lot of my friends on that highway heading backwards.

So for now I’ll have to be content to just share my thoughts on my blog and create all new happy memories I can hopefully look back on and want to return to in the future.

 

Marcy F’s Magic Quiche

 

1 egg

¾ cup flour

1 cup milk

1 cup grated cheese (muenster or jack)

¼ cup finely chopped onion

½ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine all ingredients except ½ c milk and one cup of cheese. Beat until smooth and then blend in remaining ingredients.

Pour into well-greased muffin tins.

Bake in a 425-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes until set.

My friend Marcy made these all the time and everyone just gobbled them up. You can also add some broccoli, mushrooms or bacon to these to make these even more special and varied for a party.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlie Tuna’s Bait and Switch and is This Our New Reality?

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Charlie Tuna’s Bait and Switch and is This Our New Reality?

If anyone wonders why one would think of Charlie Tuna at a time when the world is in chaos it seems very reasonable to me. I’m not sure if it’s the chocolate binges that have led me to these crazy, out-there theories and ramblings, but take the ride with me. What the heck? What else do we have to do after binge watching Ozark?

Right now most of us seem possessed with escaping from the turmoil of the outside world and building a safe harbor within our homes and minds.

Although too many are cavalier about the imminent dangers surrounding us at every turn, many have sought refuge in the past and the refrigerator, although not necessarily in that order.

I’ve been surprised and delighted lately at how many have responded positively and vocally to my waxing nostalgic about my youth in Detroit and desire to recall as many wonderful memories as I can from what seems to me now, a magical time in our history. A time when streets were safe, life was innocent and children were in awe of a puppet or seeing the peacock’s feathers in color on a television set. When everyone on the block rushed to see the first color TV, listened for the good humor man and compared collections of 45 records as though they were gold coins worth a fortune. Life made sense.

When the new Hi Fi was delivered I wondered how I’d ever learn to work this new state-of-the-art device. I was so happy when I learned to stick the plastic middle piece into my forty fives to make them fit over the spindle thingy on the turntable without breaking the record. Pretty high tech stuff huh? Now I wrestle with megabytes and artificial intelligence.

No, I’m not digressing from the whole Charlie Tuna headline at all, just merely leading up to a point I wish to convey. Perhaps Charlie Tuna had it right after all. If the whole world was looking for tunas “wit good taste,” Charlie would produce artwork or whatever he needed to do to prove himself. However, as he was reminded in the commercial, “Star-Kist don’t want tunas wit good taste, they want tunas that taste good.”

Yes, we all remember the old commercials where Charlie struggles to be selected by Star-Kist, a company so picky they thumbed their nose at Charlie, an obvious star and continued to reject his constant advances.

And how did we react to his dilemma? We loved Charlie and although we sympathized with his rejection, we were torn by the thought of the company relenting and putting him in a can on our supermarket shelf.

As I’ve said before, we were very innocent. But Charlie’s quandary seemed to teach him a valuable lesson that now goes unnoticed; distraction will save your ass.

Yes, without noticing, Charlie pulled the greatest bait and switch, pun intended, in history. Have you ever wondered why all anyone can talk about nowadays is salmon?

It’s all about the salmon. How healthy and full of good omegas they are. How sustainable they can be raised. How you can’t go to a damn dinner party and not find a slab of pink fish in front of you.

I for one dislike salmon unless it is dressed up like Cinderella for the ball or on a bagel loaded with cream cheese, and have struggled with why we have recently experienced this great love for salmon.

So because I have little to do except check the refrigerator for new food that may have snuck in while I wasn’t looking, I gave it some thought.

I’m convinced this is a plot hatched up by some undercover Charlie Tuna with the help of the Mossad (I have to infer that any food-related plots would defer to Israel) to distract people and turn them off tuna and onto salmon.

Why you ask would Charlie do this when he has always been a big proponent of tuna? Simple, pressure from a tuna mafia that simply got tired of having their tush chased all over the ocean.

Distraction is the perfect vehicle. It allows anyone with an agenda to perform under a cover of whatever they wish and we are easily fooled.

So the big boy tunas sat down with Charlie and laid it on the line, “Stop pushing the tuna or we’ll push you back hard.”

So Charlie possessing a desire for survival decided to secretly exploit a salmon agenda in an increasingly health-conscious society that believes salmon is the filet mignon of the fish world.

Smart move, Charlie. Salmon is now king and the poor fish is dead in the water, literally. Sad after all that work to swim upstream.

If this seems like a long way to go to make a point, it’s not so far as you’d think.

We are inundated today with distractions and being force-fed a steady diet of craziness, fear and distrust.

We are stressed over the news that changes hourly from one extreme to another. Masks, no masks, ventilators bad, no good, who knows anymore, you can catch COVID19 if your neighbor sneezes two blocks away, wait that’s six feet, lock down, go out, occupy the streets, take back our streets, police or no police, I guess if you’re in trouble you can call Rin Tin Tin to save you. Is Joe Biden still alive in the basement or is it a hologram? Is Trump self destructing on purpose or does he have some devious plan? Did Lincoln free the slaves or was he a racist? Is Congress as useless as an old girdle without any elastic left? Oh sorry that one is a no brainer, yes, Congress is useless, no quandary there.

No wonder people are hiding in their homes eating themselves into oblivion. Is all this craziness an attempt to distract us from what’s really happening and if so they’re doing a hellava job, because I don’t have a clue.

We’ve all lived through crazy times before. Viet Nam, the Cold War, Watergate, Bill Clinton’s women, Tiananmen Square, 9/11, the list goes on, but this is different, a complete switch from tuna to salmon.

This is a whole new breed of chaos and even the strongest of us have no idea what to make of it all.

Our generation is tough, but where once there were answers that made even a little sense, now there are none, and it’s a scary place to be.

So now that they’ve switched us off tuna and onto salmon I have two questions; first, what is behind this salmon switch and second, who is the real Charlie Tuna and what is he ultimately up to?

Yes, it’s unsettling and I feel like I’m living through an episode of The Twilight Zone.

And I think I hear Rod Serling’s voice now: “For your consideration, a world that once made sense now filled with strange happenings that cannot be explained. Is this truly reality or has the present descended into what these people will soon awaken to and find makes perfect sense in the new world within the Twilight Zone?”

Anyone for a tuna sandwich on whole wheat with chips in a little paper cup? I thought so. And tell ‘em Charlie sent ya.

Chicken Stuffed Portobello

4 large Portobello mushrooms cleaned

1 large or two small chicken breasts

1/4 cup celery chopped

1 cup grated Fontina cheese

1 cup shredded Parmesan Reggiano cheese

½ cup heavy cream

½ cup mayo

½ cup sliced almonds

1 heaping tablespoon of Panko crumbs

2 tablespoons of chopped sweet onions, sautéed with the celery

Salt and pepper

Cook and season chicken breast until soft. You can poach it in broth or water and wine. After shredding chicken breast combine with all other ingredients except Parmesan Reggiano.

Salt and pepper to taste

Fill the mushroom caps with chicken mixture and cover with Parmesan Reggiano. You may add sautéed spinach or tomatoes if you’d like.

Place on a greased baking sheet and bake at 350 for 20 minutes until warmed through and cheese is melted on top. Serve with soup and salad for a great easy supper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Get Off Howdy Doody’s Back

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Just Get Off Howdy Doody’s Back

I never dreamed I’d have to defend Howdy, but I find it beyond endurance to tolerate the smears and snarky comments leveled in the direction of my beloved friend Howdy Doody. Sure it’s easy to just cast aside these slights as ignorance, but that’s how these things get out of hand. So just “say kids, what time is it? It’s Howdy Doody time” and stand up to take a side.

It’s not just Howdy who has been so maligned but all puppets everywhere, and it must end right here and now for us citizens of Doodyville who’d have gladly given up our collections of Archie annuals for a chance to sit in the Peanut Gallery.

I’m not certain when the slight on puppets actually began, but gradually without noticing the word has taken on a negative connotation. It’s an insult to call anyone a puppet and infers someone without a mind or will of their own, dependent on a puppet master to pull the strings and do their thinking and talking for them.

Well, I never! Can you imagine that we are seeing this shift against our beloved puppet friends?

What did Farfel the Dog ever do to anyone besides tell us that Nestle’s makes the very best chocolate? And he wasn’t wrong. I can’t think of anyone I know who’d throw a Nestle’s Crunch Bar out of bed.

Puppet, yes, mindless, I think not.

Shall we even begin to think less of Lamb Chop because she enjoyed such a dependent relationship with Shari Lewis and was such a girly lamb? Don’t even get me started on Rootie Kazootie.

Puppets were a big part of our childhood and brought us enormous enjoyment. Okay, so I could see Howdy’s strings sometimes, but his show brought us hours of great fun characters to enjoy like Buffalo Bob, Princess Summerfall Winterspring, Clarabell or Mr. Bluster, also a puppet.

Would anyone like to say anything negative about Topo Gigio, Eddie Eddie Sullivan’s favorite Italian mouse? I dare you.

Shall we malign Kukla, Fran and Ollie or The Swedish Chef? In case you didn’t know, there was no script for the Kuklapolitans and they ad-libbed on every show. I’d like to see any of today’s human stars open their mouths and sound smart without a writer to tell them what to say. Charlie McCarthy dressed better and was smarter than a great many people tweeting today.

Lest we forget a certain puppet named Senor Wences and his puppet Johnny (actually his hand) that taught us that everything was “all right” and was one of our favorite parts of The Ed Sullivan Show.

Mr. Rogers used puppets, which he created and worked because of a low budget, to teach children about kindness and how to be good people.

Puppets have been entertainers and teachers for centuries, even Punch and Judy, which I guess wouldn’t be considered politically correct today.

No discussion of puppets would ever be complete without the Muppets. Of course Jim Henson’s crew were more my children’s generation, but we watched them as a family and adults got the “inside” jokes. The characters were brilliantly drawn and fleshed out so well they took on a truly human quality.

Miss Piggy taught girls not to underestimate their own strength and abilities, and never take a backseat to anyone.

Kermit was the ringmaster of the circus and as lovable a frog as there ever could be, although let’s face it, it isn’t easy being green.

Now people bandy about the phrase “he’s or she’s a puppet” as some type of universal insult implying a lack of intelligence, will or character.

So by now you’re probably thinking, “What’s your point, Norma?”

I think something needs to be done to protect the good names of our string-attached or hand-dependent friends.

A union would be a perfect solution. The Puppet Union of America or as it would say on our jackets, the PU of A. Being from Detroit, a big union town, my mind just went there immediately. I’m nominating Triumph the Insult Comic Dog as the president and Statler and Waldorf as the Board of Directors. The PU of A would file grievances against those who took the name of Howdy or Cookie Monster in vain and negotiate contracts, collective bargain, plus stage walkouts. Well, I guess walkouts would be a bit tricky but you get the point.

They need to be protected against the slanderous insults of those who have forgotten their glorious past, present and future.

How much less fun the world would be without the Kermies, Mr. Blusters or Kuklas. Without the Topo Gigios how would we ever know how adorable an Italian mouse could be or how strong and tough a woman could be without Piggy?

If the world wants to infer a lack of intelligence, will and character on anyone I suggest they use the word politician. Now that makes much more sense to me. Has a politician ever opened their mouth and said anything smart? Think about it.

And if you don’t believe a puppet can influence the entire world—ever hear of a Jedi Master named Yoda?

Apple Veal Chops in Cream Sauce

6 veal chop tenderloins or chops with bone in can also be used, but cooking time will increase.

2 apples (your choice) peeled, cored and sliced

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper

1 ½ cups panko crumbs

1 ½ cups dried apple chips ground up well

1 tbsp butter

1 tablespoon of oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Season veal with salt and pepper and set aside

Put apple chips in the food processor and ground up well, but not too fine. Combine with panko crumbs.

Melt butter and oil in frying pan and dip veal into flour and pat off excess. Dip chops into beaten egg then into panko/apple mixture.

Add to frying pan and sear until golden brown. Remove from pan and place in oven at 350 degrees until internal temperature of 145 degrees is reached.

Add apples and cider to frying pan and sauté apples until fork tender and then add cream. Heat over low heat until cream reduces by one third. Taste sauce and add salt and pepper if necessary.

Add veal back into frying pan and cover with cream sauce and heat through two more minutes until all is combined and warm. Let dish rest for three minutes before serving.

Serve over any pasta, rice or with a mashed potato. Pork may be substituted for veal in this recipe as well.

 

 

 

 

What I Learned From Lunch With Soupy Sales

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What I Learned From Lunch With Soupy Sales

It wasn’t a fancy lunch at the Polo Lounge or Spago, but mostly peanut butter and jelly, lots of Jello that went boing, boing, boing or some tuna fish, but they were the best lunches I’ve ever had. The menu for the next day’s lunch was posted on the blackboard so we could entreat our mother to provide it as well.

I’ve been really fortunate in my life to meet and dine with some pretty incredible people, but I’ll take my memories with Soupy Sales, White Fang, Black Tooth, Willie da Worm, and Pookie over anything. The knowledge I gleaned from the words of wisdom written on the blackboard under the title Soupy Sez were invaluable. Such gems as; “Be true to your teeth or they’ll be false to you,” “Over the teeth and through the gums, look out stomach here it comes,” “When a man writes a song in his automobile, it’s called a cartoon,” “You show me a man who puts his parakeet in the blender and I’ll show you a man who makes shredded tweet,” “Birds are really something to crow about, but a bird in the hand can be a mess,” “Show me a woman who has misplaced her handbag and I’ll show you a tote-all loss,” “Show me a novel caught in a wind storm and I’ll show you a book gone with the wind,” or “Show me a midget king and I’ll show you a twelve-inch ruler.”

Or such informational weather reports on his ancient radio as, “there will be a volcano eruption today so for your own safety learn the words to lava come back to me.”

Add to that learning to dance The Mouse and the Soupy Shuffle and our aerobics were included with lunch.

It wasn’t just learning the skill of taking a pie to the face or being made aware how careful you need to be before opening a door unless you knew the pointed finger or arm waiting on the other side, and in later years a celebrity waiting to get a pie in the face, but the interaction between friends that taught me so much. The pranks, including one infamous time Soupy opened the door to a naked woman we never saw as he fell apart, are still part of the show’s mystique.

Of course White Fang and Black Tooth were the experts at getting one’s point across without the use of intellectual phrases or complex sentences. Just a few shakes of the paw and a couple of familiar grunts were all I needed to get the message and laugh uncontrollably. To this day an imitation of the two extremely vocal hounds can send me into fits of laughter. Perhaps I can credit them with my editing abilities. Thanks guys for jump starting my journalism career.

Of course Willie da Worm as Soupy called him, was a great life lesson as well. Prone to sneezing fits and health issues and the moniker of the sickest worm in all of Detroit, he made me wonder how many other sick worms there were in Motown. The way Soupy delivered his sympathetic offerings to the poor little ailing creature taught me true compassion. It’s one thing to offer empathy to another human being, but the idea of opening my heart to a worm, I have to confess it opened my eyes.

Or constantly telling Black Tooth, the biggest sweetest doggy in the United States, “don’t kiss” as he attempted to untangle himself from her hugs or advising her to drink lots of milk because it gives the cows something to do.

I could double up in hysterics faster at a puppet hand that made noises than at people.

Now Pookie, that was one cute little lion. Always referring to Soupy as Boobie it’s no wonder I love cats so much. And that cat could scat or put on a wig and sing like Petula Clark, okay so sing really badly. I was actually grateful something existed with a voice worse than mine.

White Fang, the biggest, meanest dog in the United States was not only mean, but oh so clever and conniving he never failed to put one over on Soupy. Guess it should have taught me to beware of cute dogs or men with bad intentions.

The guys in the studio snickered at all the puns and bad jokes and sometimes you weren’t quite sure about what. So I also learned the meaning of an inside joke.

Between the insane news reports and future guest stars like Moshe Dyan Canon and Belly Savalas, it was non-stop insanity. Yet, more than anything from watching the interaction between Soupy and the gang, we noticed how Soupy, befuddled look on his face actually listened. Maybe that’s where we learned how.

Yes, the humor was bad shtick and craziness was the order of the day, but we laughed and loved every minute. Half the humor we got, half not so much, but we heard the guys in the studio chuckling so we smiled along. The point is we had a side order of giggles with our lunch. It wasn’t politically correct and it didn’t have the artful writing of a Neil Simon, but it lightened our day and sent us back to school with a full stomach, a full heart and Soupy throwing us a big kiss.

Rustic Onion Galette

6 medium onions sliced

¼ cup of sliced leeks

1½ cups of heavy cream

1 small package (4 oz.) cream cheese

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

½ tea thyme

Pastry large enough for a tart shell puff or regular

½ stick of butter

Olive oil

Add olive oil and butter to frying pan and heat

Add onions, leeks and seasonings and sauté on medium heat until onions are just turning brown and beginning to caramelize. Add cream cheese and cream and continue cooking until cream reduces a little and cream cheese melts through well. Taste and add seasoning if necessary. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in microwave and add 1 tablespoon of flour. Mix together and add to cream mixture until thickened.

When done place on pastry and fold sides up leaving a small opening at the top. There is no wrong way to fold a galette just as long as all the sides are folded around the filling. It’s a perfect recipe to be creative. Place it in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or until pastry is cooked.

You may also use this recipe for tiny tarts for hors d’oeuvres or add mushrooms to onion sauté and extra half and half or milk and make a delicious soup. Also great with some goat cheese or Gruyere sprinkled on top when warm.

 

 

 

 

 

Is COVID a Scary Glimpse Into and Preparation For The Future?

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Is COVID a Scary Glimpse Into and Preparation For The Future?

Cocooning: staying inside one’s home insulated from perceived danger.

Faith Popcorn, the trends and futurist guru coined the term cocooning in 1981 predicting a trend toward staying at home in lieu of interacting with an increasingly uncertain world. I always thought her theories were fascinating and right on, this one has to be not merely predictive, but downright psychic.

So what does this mean to us as individuals if we prefer to stay inside and interact less with what transpires outside our domain? Will it create a world of hermits living in fur-lined, customized caves? How will it affect what we manufacture, purchase, create and invent? Especially the way we communicate with one another.

Or can we let go of others and forego human interaction for that great new series on Netflix?

According to Popcorn, the places we live will become more minimal with movable multi-use furniture. We won’t even need television screens any longer thanks to Microsoft’s Hololens and other new ways of delivering images directly to our brain. Sales of tiny houses in the US are up 67% already and designers are building new and more interactive homes every day.

The last phase Popcorn mentions is the regenerative phase of cocooning or living in a pod that is wired to anticipate our needs. It’s transportable and can be taken with us wherever we go. Mercedes has already envisioned a live/work space that takes us from location to location guided by a robot.

She predicts 50% of work will be freelance and your robotic kitchen will cater to your nutritional and dietary needs. Your bathroom fixtures and mirror will scan your health and transmit it to your medi-bot to make the required changes in your diet or meds. And what if I still want that Sander’s Hot Fudge? Will I have to battle my robot for a sundae?  Is Big Brother my doctor?

Alexa will be there to listen when you’ve had a rough day and provide a robotic shoulder to cry on. Houses will float on water or be underground as rising sea levels affect millions whose homes will be underwater in high tide. Does that mean ocean front property will be selling super cheap?

I could continue but I suggest you read Popcorn’s report at faithpopcorn.com as it is a fascinating, albeit sometimes scary peak into the not-to-distant future.

Yes, I believe these new technologies and inventions exist, but recent events seem to point otherwise. I may not be an expert on trends, but human nature I know something about. After my last blog I received so many responses from people saying how much they treasure their early memories and having others to share them.

So if human beings are so happy to share and interact with others, why are we going out of our way to create a world where we do neither? I’ve always been under the impression there are two kinds of people; those who love wide-open spaces and the second type that enjoys urban living. My generation, once married seemed to gravitate toward homes with large lots and spacious yards for playing, entertaining and creating a comfortable distance with one’s neighbors. Yet, not too far as there seemed to be a genuine need to have other children for playing and parents with whom to socialize.

It seems incredibly foreign to me after being locked in captivity the last three months that this would become a permanent way of life. I certainly don’t see anyone enjoying the solitude and whoever can is running outside faster than Coyote chasing Roadrunner toward that cliff.

Was Barbra wrong when she sang, “people who need people are the luckiest people in the world?”

Or is this a world that will only exist in the memories of those still alive to remember the good old days, when people socialized and interacted with one another?

Recalling a time when we stood in line at crowded movie theaters and at restaurants to dine. When we watched a television show together as a family on that great new, big screen Dad brought home for himself for Mother’s Day?

When we look back it does seem that life has truly changed greatly in the last 75 years since World War II, but the changes to come that are really revolutionary are not that far away now. Tech is moving so quickly one day we’ll blink and that new “modern” kitchen will be as outdated as a Model T Ford.

So I have to ask myself, technology is evolving at warp speed but is mankind? Is there something in all those new gadgets that will alter a human’s need for love, caring and affection? Can we be satisfied with Alexa’s shoulder to lean on when a dream dies, a romance falls apart or we feel hopeless and vulnerable? Is this the way man will evolve, a creature controlled by artificial intelligence sitting in a tiny pod (guess they cure claustrophobia in the future) and having a movie programmed through his brain?

Yipes! I imagine humans will adapt to this new form of existence although I’m glad I won’t have to. I prefer sharing memories with friends, hugging my kids and grandchildren, walking in a beautiful garden and enjoying a meal I’ve prepared with someone special. The future seems awfully lonely and we’ve recently glimpsed into it Zooming, Skyping and Amazoning through today.

I for one will be glad to get out into that scary, unpredictable world once more, because as frightening as it may seem, it beats cocooning, seeking solace from a robot or hiding away forever.

The following is a recipe from a dear friend no longer here. It’s still one of the yummiest. ENJOY!

Malka B’s Strudel

Strudel dough

2 cups flour

½ pound of cream cheese

½ pound butter

½ cup of honey mixed with 2 tablespoons of water

Cream butter and cream cheese and add flour. Knead well

Chill several hours or overnight

Divide into six portions, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate about half and hour before rolling out to 14 or 16 inches.

 

Fillings

1 18 oz jar of apricot preserves

1 small package of sweetened coconut

1 small package of walnuts

1 small package of raisins

1 cup of graham cracker crumbs

 

You can also use fresh apple slices, raisins walnuts and cinnamon and sugar as a filling and for a new kick add some caramel to the mix.

 

Preheat oven to 350

 

Roll out one portion of dough and brush on a thin layer of honey and water mixture

Spread on a layer of preserves

Sprinkle on a light layer of graham cracker crumbs

Add coconut raisins and walnuts and begin rolling from the bottom up. Seal top together with honey water mixture.

 

Score the top into eight pieces and place on a parchment covered cookie sheet.

 

Bake about 45 minutes until lightly browned.

Cut into pieces and sprinkle with powdered sugar when cooled before serving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nostalgia Or Delusion: Was Childhood As Great As All That?

lellis

Nostalgia Or Delusion: Was Childhood As Great As All That?

Okay. I do it too. I remember the past, especially my childhood with enormous longing. Simpler times, great friends, peaceful, unfettered days filled with innocence and fun.

We join groups on Facebook that provide us with a non-stop stream of memories, many long forgotten and we commiserate about the haunts and foods of our youth. Sharing with others that lived the same existence adds a new dimension and warmth to the entire experience. It can also get impassioned when the topic of the best neighborhood pizza arises.

One post and the flow of incoming additions are abundant. I can almost picture the look on everyone’s face as they reminisce about the restaurant where they held their tenth birthday party. Or perhaps a favorite teacher that filled them with confidence or fear.

Yet, although I’m incredibly guilty of these moments of reflection, I wonder if perhaps there is a bit of sugar coating mixed in with the feelings of warmth and longing.

Do we remember the past wearing rose-colored glasses? Is it because we see life back then only in terms of abstracts and happy memories designed to cover up any unhappiness we might have once felt?

I remember growing up in Detroit as idyllic. Not in a fairy-tale manner of course, nor do I believe it was Utopia, but rather a peaceful and vibrant city filled with fun activities, great friends and no lack of great restaurants, movie theaters and tree-lined streets with manicured lawns.

Recalling youthful snippets flashing by like a trailer from a new Hollywood movie, I always choose to recall joyful images.

Going to the movies was a regular occurrence and my favorite was the Mercury Theater on Schaeffer. I’m afraid it spoiled me for other movie houses with its sidewalls lined with light-reflecting murals of the galaxy. Many times I enjoyed staring at the artwork more than the feature and sadly came to expect a great deal from any future movie venues I frequented. I also remember noting a giant banner under the marquis reading “air-conditioned for your comfort.” Bet my grandsons wouldn’t believe there was a time without it. Boy, am I aging myself here.

Yet it’s so odd that these memories seem to eclipse other more personal ones that were unpleasant. The high school mean girl who singled you out as her victim one day, or a boy you liked asking out a friend. Yep, guess it wasn’t all wine and roses.

Or is it just that at a certain stage of life we refuse to acknowledge time spent unhappily? Is there a great need to embrace those happy moments and hold them close before they may fade forever?

Whenever I tell people I’m from Detroit they look at me as though I’m packing a gun. This image was especially true during the more lawless years when crime was rampant before the rest of the nation caught and far bypassed the motor city. When I replied that Detroit was an awesome city in which to grow up, they were incredulous.

Yet, I’m certain I’m not dreaming when I remember Palmer Park ice skating, Livernois Avenue shopping, turning and seeing Smokey Robinson driving next to you on Outer Drive, downtown Hudson’s, the Eastern Market, great schools, amazing food and crossing the Ambassador Bridge or driving through the tunnel to Windsor. It was always fun to see the flags change between America and Canada on the tiles halfway across.

Now I wonder if it’s just age that makes us long for those simpler days, when the community was small and holidays seemed to be shared by everyone, or you could walk alone to a friend’s house five blocks away or play outside until the street lights came on.

People knew their Sanders, Awry’s or Good Humor deliveryman by name and when we heard the bell we ran into the house to let our mother know great goodies were available curbside.

Perhaps one reason those days seem so unfettered and blissful are the turbulent times we’re living today. So often I feel badly for my grandchildren in such a chaotic world, but will they also look back someday on their childhood with rose-colored glasses?

Is it merely that mankind keeps muddling the waters and the years fill with more chaos as they fly past?

Was it really so Utopian or am I choosing to overlook the cold war and neighbors building fall-out shelters in their back yards?

Forgetting hearing the bell in school as we walked downstairs to the basement of our elementary school to sit next to an asbestos-covered pipe to hide from an atom bomb? I imagine many more people died from that asbestos than an atom bomb, that thank goodness never came.

Am I forgetting the Detroit riots, eating my Frosted Flakes while watching a black girl my age on television being escorted into school by the National Guard, the McCarthy hearings or Viet Nam? Or watching Hitchcock’s Psycho and needing my mother to sit in the bathroom with me until I was, well, I still do, and believing it was all so stress free?

Or is this a result of the fact we are in the midst of true craziness where the world seems upside down?

It was easy when we were children to figure it all out. Good, bad, hard, easy, right, wrong; the lines seem so blurred now.

So I just sit and commiserate with friends about those simpler times when whether or not things were good, we believed they were. When life was less confusing and neighbors sat out on the porch on a summer evening to catch a cool breeze and smoke a cigarette.

When I rushed home from school to watch American Bandstand and we spent the weekends reading Archie, Superman or Katy Keene comics and exchanging movie star pictures cut out of Photoplay or Modern Screen.

After school eating a creamsicle on the porch watching the neighborhood boys play baseball or football in the street. Or jumping on the pile of leaves my father had raked to burn at the curb filling the air with the smell of autumn and visions of Halloween soon to come.

I’d rather focus on those good times than turn on a news report, or think about the fact I have to miss my grandson’s graduation or birthday party because an evil virus has created havoc.

As time goes by the years fly faster and any time not spent in the here and now seems so wasted. Yet if I gain some small modicum of happiness holding on to some pleasant memories where is the harm?

Many may say it’s more important to live your life in the present than dwell on the past, and yes it is. Still in these times when we are not able to create as many happy memories with friends and family I will default to the ones I possess. Someday we may even choose to remember how good it was back then, even in this very turbulent moment in time.

 

Lelli’s Like Minestrone

1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 stick butter
2 cans (16 oz. ea.) Veg-All
2 cans (14 oz. ea.) chicken broth
20 oz. northern white kidney beans
1 can (14 oz.) whole tomatoes, chopped
1/2 pkg. frozen spinach (or fresh)
2 T. tomato paste
2 T. garlic powder
2 T. chopped parsley
1 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 t. basil
1/3 c. cooked small macaroni
1/3 c. heavy whipping cream
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
a small amount of chick peas (optional). I never use these.

  1. Sauté onion and garlic in butter
    2. In a large soup pot, put Veg-All, chicken broth, northern beans, whole tomatoes and all liquids from cans.
    3. Add spinach, tomato paste, garlic powder, parsley, salt, pepper, basil, sautéed onion and garlic.
    4. Cook slowly for 1 1/2 hours.
    5. Take 1/2 of the soup and blend in food processor. I use an immersion blender and it’s so much easier.
    6. Pour it back in the soup pot.
    7. Add macaroni and heavy cream.
    8. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
    9. Stir.
    10. Cook slowly 1/2 hour.

 

 

 

Sanders Hot Fudge Versus COVID-19: Bout Of The Century

ricepudding

Sanders Hot Fudge Versus COVID-19

The Bout Of The Century

My doctor’s office called today to set up a follow-up appointment. The girl asked when I might have time and I laughed out loud. “Well I said, I could make time between walking from the bedroom into the living room and back, if I cut short my trip to the freezer to check it for the fourteenth time that day. I do that regularly just to see if any new Ben and Jerry’s magically appeared since the last time I checked.”

Yes, life is truly fulfilling these days. After all the drawers and closets are organized, clothes color-coded, stuff repaired, new hair colors and styles tried and online shopping, one must pause.

Okay, sure there are books to read, puzzles to do and new movies on Netflix to watch, but let’s face it, this is getting old.

This morning my daughter texted to tell me that there has been an uptick in cases and I must stay at home.

It was a little like hoping for parole and finding out your sentence was extended.

I have friends who are leaving their houses all the time, visiting their kids, shopping, running errands like nothing is going on, so I’ve been thinking perhaps I should lighten up a bit and venture back out into that scary world. Baby steps or something like that. But when the warden called this morning and dashed my hopes of returning to some semblance of normality, well there was no need to ponder any longer.

It’s not the staying home part as there is plenty to do to keep busy. I can’t even say it’s a fear of the virus. It’s simply put, the fact that these scientists don’t know anything! They say something and change it the next day if not the next hour. First we’re in and the virus can creep inside our homes on bags, boxes, shoe bottoms and whatnot. Then they say maybe not so much after all.

Wear a mask, no, yes, maybe, I don’t know.

One can catch it from breathing, sneezing, shaking hands, coming within six feet of someone, HEY! STOP! Could someone make up their mind already? So you say to yourself, I’m done being crazy cause other people are out living their lives. You’re going to defy it and go and you have one foot out the door then boom, the phone call that someone you know has died or is in the hospital and you lock your door close the blinds and hide under the covers again. I swear I saw the virus trying to squeeze through my screen the other day so I immediately shut my window.

Does the damn thing have a Rolodex? Who’s on its list and does it hold a grudge? I visualize it wearing a black hooded robe with a scythe.

If someone has offended it does it come looking for you like a special ops guy crawling through the muck in Afghanistan?

Is it racist, anti Semitic or Islamophobic? Has anyone checked its politics or where it grew up to see how it feels about white privilege? Who’s its family and what do we really know about this thing except that it was made in China?

I’m not complaining because I know our parents went through far worse with depressions, wars and craziness, but really? So COVID-19, protests, rioting and looting, tornadoes, earthquakes and Pelosi dressed as an African on one knee.

What’s next locusts, frogs jumping out of the water, the Pacific turning into blood, hailstones? A Kardashian without make up? Excuse me I have to order some lamb’s blood from Amazon to put around my doorway.

So recently I did what I’ve been trained to do in difficult times and called out the big guns and ordered Sanders hot fudge and profiteroles online. If you’re not from Detroit you couldn’t be expected to know about this unbelievable milk chocolate fudgy delicacy that would have to be labeled the heroin of dessert toppings. The hit you get from it, well I can’t describe, but it has been the go-to cure for everything that plagues Detroiters for as long as I can remember.

We celebrated with it, cried with it, cured all boo boos with it and pretty much used it as a remedy for all the stuff we ran out of answers for. When the ice cream was gone we ate it out of the jar with a spoon.

A bad break up, Sanders hot fudge cream puff, bad grade, mother in law visit, gained weight, it was always there.

I’m not certain if it can hold up to the corona virus but we’ll see.

The very fact I must resort to old cures tells me a great deal.

I’m running out of reasons to stay home and to go out. It’s like stay in or go out are the two questions I can’t even dream up an answer for.

I take a walk to see the sky and assure myself it still exists. I get into my car and go for a curbside pick up to remember how to drive. I Skype and play games with my grandsons and they carry the computer around the house so I can watch them while they play.

I do maj jong online to keep in shape. So I guess this all sounds like a lot to do and it is. Cooking, baking, trying new recipes the days fly by and that’s just it.

Should we all have to work so hard to keep ourselves busy? Doesn’t time fly by fast enough already without trying?

At the end of the day it’s about the freedom to go out and live your life as you wish. Work, take a vacation, visit your kids, see a show, or wear pants without an elastic waist.

Are we being imprisoned or protected? I guess some days it feels like both.

So until my daughter commutes my sentence I’ll be here, writing, cooking, eating and chatting with friends. Stay safe and keep laughing.

Easy Rice Pudding

1 cup uncooked rice

4 ½ cups of milk

2 eggs

1 heaping half cup of sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 pinch of salt

Raisins optional

Pour everything except the eggs in a saucepan and cook covered over a low heat. After about fifteen minutes lightly beat your eggs and temper them, (add some of the hot liquid to the eggs until they are room temperature) then add to rice pudding and continue cooking.

Cook until all the milk is absorbed, approximately 40 minutes and rice is thickened.

Serve with cinnamon and even a little whipped cream if you choose. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doing the COVID Crazy Dance

Doing the COVID Crazy Dance

There’s a new disease in town, COVIDphobia and I’m sad to say I am COVIDphobic. I have a feeling it’s a close cousin to Agoraphobia or the fear of leaving the house. I imagine the difference would be that Agoraphobics are afraid to leave home for numerous reasons and the COVIDphobic has only one—a scary, horrible, evil virus waiting outside your door to kill you.

Okay, I need to take a breath here, but I fear going outside won’t be as easy as I once thought. Cause I’ve discovered something about myself…I’m a big fat chicken.

That’s right; as yellow as a barnyard hen and clucking day and night as I wander about wiping doorknobs, light switches, all surfaces and anything that doesn’t move.

Have I gone COVID crazy? You bet.

Groceries that are delivered must be wiped, removed from their outer wrappings and if they aren’t perishable they don’t enter for at least a week. A precaution just in case there’s a speck of virus sitting on my diet Snapple bottle waiting to jump up and attack me in my sleep.

I feel like I’m in Viet Nam and there are gorilla fighters in every tree and swamp. Apocalypse Now? Perhaps.

So how are we just supposed to leave the house and live our lives as though nothing has happened?

Well I guess millions of people are. I saw the opening of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas and it seems the gambling gene is not affected by COVID cause that place was rocking.

So why am I so convinced that there is a virus lurking outside my door, like a private eye on a stakeout, scarfing down coffee and donuts until I step outside and boom, gotcha?

So besides gambling what else isn’t affected by COVID-19?

Eating seems to be fine and there is no apparent loss of appetite as we sit in our nests awaiting release. Cooking, tasting, drinking, baking, all fine and dandy and totally unaffected by this whole crazy scene.

What else? Protesting. Seems millions of people aren’t concerned with the virus cause apparently it’s a social activist. Marching is one of its talents so no one is deterred.

It also seems it hasn’t affected criminals who see the fact they wear a mask without being singled out as a real benefit to their violent activities.

Watching television hasn’t been impacted at all. In fact it’s been increased during the quarantine.

So yes, I know we can go out now, it’s allowed and I actually have one friend that never stayed home. She has been on the go and outside running around since this whole thing started. There hasn’t been any change at all to her life except the mask.

Why am I having so much trouble believing it’s safe out there in a COVID-ravaged world? Why do I believe it has another trick up its sleeve and is just waiting for the right moment to show its hand and that hand will land on my back? Is my paranoia normal or are others still frightened to take the plunge back into society?

I have spoken to people who know of no one that has had or died from the virus and I’m shocked. I know far too many. So is that a reason I’m hesitant to rejoin the outside world?

Or have I gone totally COVID crazy and believe my children’s constant warnings about rejoining society?

Not much has ever scared me and I’m a pretty fearless bitch as anyone can tell you. Oh sure, the shower and turn-the-rocking-chair-around scenes in Psycho still scare the living- you-know-what out of me, and the sight of Nancy Pelosi without her Botox injections could put me over the edge, but mostly I can hold my own, bravery wise. Yet I can’t find the guts to face off with a teeny-weeny Chinese virus I can’t even see. Shame on me for my cowardice, or am I just being responsible? Color me COVID confused, perhaps another new illness.

I know I’d feel horrible if I ever infected someone and wouldn’t want that on my conscience. To have to live with the idea I needed a chocolate croissant so badly I’d risk my life and the life of others to get one, well how could I?

Sure a chocolate croissant versus death is a tough call, but still the thought of being stuck here for another six months scares me more than a policeman in my rear-view mirror when I’ve been driving five miles over the speed limit.

I have no answers here. Should one throw caution to the wind and just say, “What the hell?” Or should we act like vigilant soldiers at war with a virus?

If there is a happy medium I’d love to hear what it is soon cause I’m really getting sick of this nuttiness.

There doesn’t seem to be an answer, it’s all a risk. If I go out there is always the chance of contacting the virus, but if I stay inside there is always the chance I’ll lose what’s left of my mind. Not far to go on that one either.

So what’s an old broad to do in the meantime while we await vaccines, cures, Houdini to make it disappear or a miracle? As I used to say when walking the floor with my son at three a.m., “this too shall pass.”

Guess as I continue to ponder, I’ll bake. Check out my new recipe for oatmeal caramel cookies. Enjoy and stay safe.

 

Oatmeal Caramel Cookies

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

 

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature,
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • Sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 12 Kraft caramels

Whisk together the flour, cinnamon and baking soda; set aside.

Combine the butter with both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Reduce speed and add the salt, vanilla, and eggs. Beat about 1 minute then add flour mixture.

Unwrap your caramels and cut each of them into four small pieces. Add to mixture before oats and mix them in well.

A small hint here: after cutting the caramels just toss them very lightly in flour and they won’t stick together in the cookie dough.

Stir in the oats, cover and chill dough for one hour to overnight. This is optional as I have baked them without chilling and they turn out great.

Drop onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and I use a tablespoon, but use a small ice cream scooper if you have one. They should be two inches apart because they will spread. Drop a smidge of sea salt on top of each cookie before baking. This step is optional if you’re not a salt fan or watching salt intake.

Bake until cookies are just golden around the edges, but soft in the center. Should take eight to ten minutes, but ovens may vary, so watch.

Cool on baking sheet a minute or two and then transfer to a wire rack. ENJOY!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dueling Doctors; Who to Believe?

chicken

Dueling Doctors: Who to Believe?

My hands screamed up at me chapped and red from washing and cleaning and begged me to stop with the hand sanitizer already. Every day the story changes! Is it living on surfaces or isn’t it? One week no, next week, yes. What’s with these people and why not say we don’t know so just do everything? I am getting more mixed messages here than from the last guy I dated.

Not only do I wear a mask to get the mail in my own lobby, or to pick up a delivery outside my door, but nothing gets inside without being sprayed, wiped and left to sit for days to avoid any live virus germs from escaping and attacking me in my sleep.

I have even toyed with locking my bedroom door in case they can crawl over the floor into the hallway, slip inside and sneak up on me. Can it climb through windows, maybe open doors? How many powers does this thing have? Maybe it should be a new character in the next Avengers movie? It could play the villain with 19 super powers. Maybe the Hulk could take this thing out?

Paranoia gone wild? I think not! They should make a video and film the virus romping on a beach during spring break.

In case you think I’m the only one who is so germ phobic take a look in the mirror at your new designer mask and matching gloves. Now it’s a damn fashion statement. I hear Prada and Chanel are showing a line of masks on the runway and Alexander McQueen is designing plastic body covers next year.

So now that we have all been trained to wear hazmet suits in our homes and check for corona virus germs trying to climb in our windows or be delivered on a food delivery box, we are told maybe they are not as hardy as we were told. Oh, I’m sorry that was yesterday and today they took it back. Guess they’ve been eating their spinach.

Yesterday as I was wiping down every doorknob and light switch in my home I heard the CDC had determined the disease doesn’t live as long as they thought and it takes more than simply passing someone on the other side of street to catch it. Today the germs have recovered their superpowers and are alive and well on every surface of our homes.

So I must ask myself, what’s the truth and if we ease up on worrying and being paranoid will they change their minds again next week. Is it capable of living a hundred years or more and popping back up to say hello from time to time?

I can see it now, the virus laughing and dancing on those surfaces we now feel safe enough to leave unwiped. Sneaking across the floor while we unsuspectedly watch the second season of Shtisel, unaware that the germs are crawling up the sofa legs in pursuit of our unprotected immune system.

So what should we do while we wait for more contradictions?

I’m well aware that scientists and researchers don’t always agree and I know how many people ridiculed and contradicted Jonas Salk on his quest to create the polio vaccine?

He had naysayers and critics galore, yet his persistence paid off and the world was ultimately saved from a disease that scared me as a child even more than corona does now. Public swimming pools were closed to protect children and adults while parents feared taking their kids to crowded places.

I had nightmares about those scary iron lungs and remember the day I received the vaccine in school. We all lined up and one by one we were handed a sugar cube on a paper cupcake holder with pink medicine squirted over the cube, then the nightmares about the iron lungs disappeared.

When scientists are flummoxed it doesn’t help the confidence of the regular people that are afraid to touch their own refrigerator door. Isn’t it enough the calories are lurking out there to attack us as we are held in captivity with junk food calling our name?

So who and what do we believe? I guess since we don’t know, it’s best to proceed with caution. In the meantime I’m cleaning, spraying, masking and holding my breath when I’m not stuffing my face.

Which unfortunately seems to be most of the time lately.

 

Here is my recipe for Garlic Chicken Enjoy!

 

Easy 40 Clove Garlic Chicken

 

4 chicken thighs and 4 drumsticks

40 or so cloves of garlic

1 ½ cups whipping cream

½ stick of butter

1cup chicken bouillon

½ cup white wine

Onion powder

Thyme (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken and garlic cloves in a roasting pan and season. Add liquids except whipping cream and melt butter and pour over chicken and garlic. Roast it in a 325-degree oven for an hour or until chicken is fully cooked through.

When done, remove chicken from the pan and scoop out pan juices and then add whipping cream and mix together. Taste and if it needs salt you may add more at this point. You may strain sauce if you wish or enjoy the garlic whole.

Smashed Sweet Potatoes

1 large Yam

1 Large Sweet Potato

Salt

3 tablespoons of butter

Peal and cut up potatoes and boil in salted water until fork tender.

Remove from water and add butter and salt to potatoes.

Using a fork mash them gently until smooth but still chunky.

Enjoy with the chicken and sauce.

 

 

 

 

Why We Refuse to See The Unseen

thglasses

Why We Refuse to See The Unseen

I’ve never seen a UFO. I thought I heard one outside my window one night, but of course that’s pure conjecture. So no, I have no evidence they either exist or don’t exist. The truth is UFOs have given me a rather interesting perspective on life that I’ve embraced and believe has been greatly responsible for my points of view. Simply, I understand that it’s not so much what we see in life that colors our reality so much as what we won’t see.

The empty space that exists between what is seen and what is not can answer questions, inject wisdom and provide a vital perspective to the answers we seek.

How can a void be so filled with information you ask? Because it’s sometimes the lack of information that is most clear.

Although a simple analogy, most people will tell you that at stressful times like funerals or serious moments in life, human nature may not notice so much who is there as whom is missing. I believe we’ve all felt this during our lives and heard others speak it as well.

So and so wasn’t at the funeral did you notice?

It’s not about being petty, it’s actually about new information that absence or empty space affords us.

We expect the people who show up, to well show up, so there is no surprise when they do. However when one doesn’t, that is new information. If we apply this simple logic to most things in life it becomes apparent. There may be much to see in the abyss.

As a reporter I often made it a habit to look for the non-existence in the room before what was before my eyes. Who might be absent from a crucial meeting? Who was seated far away from a former colleague or someone’s silence in lieu of speaking? I often learned a great deal from observing what wasn’t there.

I’ve come to the conclusion it’s what we refuse to observe that most effects our lives. The obvious cannot surprise or catch us off guard. The silent however is capable of the strangest and most deadly consequences.

Have we all been guilty at times of closing our eyes to what is unseen or our ears to the unspoken?

To be Cleopatra, Queen of Denial instead of facing the silence that literally screamed at us to notice while we covered or averted our eyes.

Are there UFOs, does China have ten more viruses at hand even more deadly and dangerous than COVID19, is Iran on the verge of nuclear power, has the day for robots to take our place already come and we refuse to see? No, I’m not claiming there are UFOs, they are merely a good example of the schism between those who have witnessed them and those who say absolutely not. Perhaps the expression, “I couldn’t believe my own eyes,” may be relevant.

The scariest part of recent events is that in our relationship with China we avoided the space that held the truth. What else are we refusing to see that may come in the night and catch us off guard? When did we ignore the potential of an oppressive regime that had committed atrocities against its own people? The warnings of so many experts, or were we simply no more than a foolish woman who is blinded by a man’s good looks and wealth and ignores his five previous marriages?

These are global examples, but the truth is there is an unseen every day in our lives.

Google is now running the world in the void between sight lines. They are far more dangerous than Big Brother because even Orwell who foresaw the power didn’t see its true extent.

Computers have relegated every area of our lives into a giant open book of data they now possess and use to control us. How we buy, shop, travel, live, eat, work and even love. Yet we shake it off and say “no big deal.”

Artificial intelligence is already baked into the cake we consume each day and yet we don’t see.

Will we awaken one morning as we did to a pandemic and find we have been taken over by robots? Or a terrorist nation with a bomb they’ve handed to one of their proxies to explode in Times Square, or perhaps even aliens among us unseen and close to being unmasked? Is the element of surprise not really a surprise at all?

What might next catch us off guard because we’ve refused to notice, to read between the lines, to avoid those parts of reality we’d rather not observe?

Hamlet said, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Shakespeare acknowledged the determination of human beings to refuse to test reality, to look away from the unseen even when it stares us in the face.

“There is no there there” is probably the most misleading statement in human existence, for if we look into the void we will see there is always a there there. What we won’t see will always ultimately be revealed, so the question we must ask is; will we be prepared when it is?

 

 

 

urgency

No Sense of Urgency

To procrastinate: delay or postpone action; put off doing something

One of the things I’ve found during this crisis is that I have rediscovered and am now channeling my inner procrastinator. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said, “I’ll do it tomorrow in the last few months, well you know”

Yes, that concept we have been taught to avoid because it focuses on short-term happiness and goals seems to be the operative word now.

However, can we be accused of acting hedonistically when short term is all there is to focus on right now? Can we plan our lives even a week from now? Sadly no.

Aside from those that are lucky enough to still be employed and out functioning in the world, the rest of us seem to be busy trying to fill our days in captivity.

Of course there are many productive activities we can and continue doing like working from home, but many hours in the day we filled with more compulsory endeavors are now more discretionary.

I must admit that even I as an avid motion picture fan am growing rather tired of on demand, live streaming and Turner Classic Movies.

Yes, I do keep up with the latest Netflix offerings and read everyone’s comments on Facebook about the Tiger King and Unorthodox so I’m not living under a rock, however it does get old.

So begs the question, is a sense of urgency what’s necessary to cure procrastination? Or are human beings wired to move quickly when probed, like swatting a burro on its hindquarters. Andalay!

Mothers and fathers are now tasked with more to do as so many are working from home and must help teach and plan activities for their children. I know some young Moms who contend when this is over they will feel like they’re on vacation.

Perhaps these days of seeking ways to fill the time have been good and bad in many ways.

One good is obviously the fact so many have now embraced their inner Emeril. Cooks all over the world are drawn into the kitchen to refine their skills and experiment with new recipes and concoctions.

However this trend must be traced back to a primal urge for humans to eat when hungry or many times, bored, aggravated, bathing suit shopping, family dinners, depressed, hating a new hairdo or you run out of Cherry Garcia ice cream; and yes an entire carton is considered one serving.

So, the serge in cooking is actually predicated on the desire to first and foremost eat and second to fill the day. This is a positive outcome of the time in quarantine and will probably translate into new vistas of adventure for many that have never previously left the sofa to order take out.

There are many areas however one can point to and say, “Uh oh, procrastination has sunk in.” For example dressing up.

After all when you’re wearing sweats everyday and walking from the bedroom to the television screen not so much need for wardrobe changes or jewelry.

Although there are those who are exercising regularly outdoors as well, when at home it’s the bare minimum in fashion and the maximum in comfort one seeks.

Hair has become such an issue for some women that they are literally threatening to drive to other states to find a hairdresser to color their roots. Hello, Girlfriend, shampoo in tints, Amazon delivers, and a no brainer that even a baboon can do.

Elastic waists are ruling the roost now allowing room for all the extra cooking and tasting going on.

Where once women that lived alone could argue I put on make up even when I’m home just for myself. Out the window, cause unless you’re zooming not so much grooming.

Americans especially are a nation of urgency junkies. We love to receive a good kick in the behind because that’s what has always worked so well for us in the past.

When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor we were up and running. We even had a theme song, “Over There Over There.” Should be played now, “The Yanks are Coming the Yanks are coming, the drums drum drumming everywhere.” We jump into action and never look back. We’re a country of scrappers and we love a good fight.

When Japan attacked General Motors, we leapt into action once again and fought back. Okay, so Japan won that one, but we did make a heck of an effort.

World Trade Center, we fought, we conquered, we rebuilt. It’s what Americans do.

Human beings need a sense of urgency, which is proven by the way they’re fighting to get businesses reopen although the virus is still out there as strong as ever.

People need a reason to get up in the morning and yes, although a new Netflix movie may be exciting it’s not enough to fill our lives.

I think one example of a positive is the virus has forced us to spend time at home with our families. To cook, eat, watch television, read, exercise, talk and create new activities together. Sadly it may be a boom for divorce lawyers, but I doubt that, last man standing rule and all.

Perhaps there was a sense of urgency to slow down and smell the roses and if anything good comes from all this captivity, I vote for family time. The other side of course is not being able to see family and grandchildren.

The scale tips both ways, but as I’ve said before we rise to the occasion.

Expectations from others and from within ourselves are what drives and propels us to achieve more and greater goals. That sense of urgency we experience every day is what flicks on the light switch within us and forces the electric current into our creative selves.

So if you’ve been home channeling your inner chef, Picasso, Dior, or Hemingway, once life returns to normal it will be a sense of being in the world once more that sparks you up to the next level. New businesses, books, creative outlets will be born from captivity, but sadly one doesn’t have the luxury to plan when right now. Let’s face it, the song doesn’t just say “where”, but also “when” and that’s a big factor in giving one impetus to move ahead with life, dreams and goals. Perhaps there was a sense of urgency for you to delve into your inner dreams.

Much will change in this new normal we face, but one fact remains the same, every so often we all need to slow down, relax and procrastinate just a little. Get in touch with parts of oneself forgotten or ignored. But I think everyone will agree, enough already!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Shop Therefore I am Please Save The Malls!

shopping

I Shop Therefore I am

Please Save The Malls!

There is a point when things get out of hand. When lines are crossed and deeds done that can’t be undone.

This damn virus has now placed all ten toes across my damn line!

Death, suffering, sickness, house arrest, not being able to see my children and grandchildren up close and personal, people losing everything they have, no parties, movies, events, concerts and Lord knows all the sacrifices we’ve all had to make for this curse from the east, but now I find out malls want us to pull up and curbside pick up. What?

The stores that will be left standing and I can’t even speak about such icons of the retail world as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus going under, the pain is too great, but curbside pick up?

I heard other malls are toying with the idea of giving out numbers in the parking lot to tell you when you can enter the stores. In the meantime coffee shops and restaurants will call you in your car to offer you food while you’re waiting.

Now men may be fine with this brave new shopping world because most don’t like to shop anyway, (have you ever tried to get your husband away from the football game to shop for new shirts?) but women? Listen up retailers. Women must use their shopping gene or it will damage our psyche.

Okay universe you’ve had your fun, now honestly stop threatening to close malls. My heart can’t take anymore.

Amazon is fine when you’re bored, in quarantine, need something in a hurry, lazy or can’t find what you’re looking for in the stores.

It’s a perfect shopping distraction when you’re on the phone listening to someone bore your ass off, but is it a substitute for actual shopping? I think not.

Women need retail therapy. It’s like the air we breathe. Feeling clothing, trying on shoes until you make a shoe salesperson cry, these are rites of passage for a female. Age, race, economic circumstances, career woman or mom, size, education, married or single, it matters not. Shopping is the great equalizer for my gender. It’s like Spanx because every woman can find a size to fit her.

Racks of blouses, jeans, dresses or sweats are not just fabric to us; they are mother’s milk, endearing and special. We need to see these choices up close and become one with them. Their fabric and prints call to us and we bond.

We crave a sale sign that says 50% off. This is serious stuff here, these experiences comfort and soothe us.

There are consequences for a woman when she is unable to walk through a store, reject the perfume sprayer and salivate over the shoe department. We could develop terrible diseases like high blood pressure, anxiety or even have a mental collapse. We’re built to shop and if we can’t it’s a shock to our nervous systems.

There is a special feeling when the Mac girl offers to do your make up and that new eye shadow is simply perfect. Or Benefits opens an eyebrow bar and you finally find a color that doesn’t make you look like Groucho Marx.

Does any man understand what it does to a woman’s blood pressure when she spies that fabulous black cashmere sweater she has been salivating over at half off?

Yoga is fine to relieve stress but a 75% off sale adds years back to a woman’s life.

For women shopping is therapy.

Only at the mall can a woman pick up a pound of chocolate covered gummy bears and find the leather jacket of her dreams in one place. Plus, there’s always a place to sit and calm down after a session of trying on bathing suits.

Malls are healing and they make us happy after the world has collapsed. When your mother in law has spent the weekend visiting…a new sweater.

When your husband refuses to clean the garage after six months of begging…new shoes. Your boss asks you to make him coffee…a new handbag. When your perfect angel uses your freshly painted walls as a canvas for his latest Picasso… another pound of chocolate gummies, please.

I have a theory that Stonehenge is actually the remnants of a parking structure for the first mall in England.

Women meet at the mall to shop, eat lunch, play cards or maj jong and hunt for the perfect new piece for their wardrobe. Can you check out online how your ass looks in those skinny jeans?

It’s serious to a woman and a need that can’t be filled by any parking lot waiting, curbside picking up or online perusing. These are all nice sides to the meal but the real star of dinner is the filet mignon…the mall!

We shop, we forget. We seek, we relax, we hunt, we feel pride, we score a bargain, and we brag to every friend who will listen.

You can’t take shopping away from a woman and not cause severe psychological damage. Like backing up in a parking lot and blowing out your tires.

Shopping is calming and soothes the savage breast to bring us to an enlightened state. Does any woman not know the joy of unearthing that perfect accessory to complete an outfit?

We share the experience with friends, “Deb, this black blouse is perfect for that wedding in January. Randi, you so need this rhinestone encrusted sweater to go with those new jeans. Guys is this not the perfect jacket to go with my new pants?” “Janet, get out of your comfort zone and try on this blouse. Karen, you need to return ten pairs of those shoes you ordered!”

We don’t just shop for ourselves, but for all women, it’s a bonding experience, we pursue, we track, we discover, then we celebrate.

Women share coupons. It’s not just important for us to save on that new outfit, but for our friends as well.

Would a man reach into his purse at the cashier and say, “Here take this 20% off coupon, I don’t need it?”

Oh some may mock and point fingers, but has anyone ever gone home empty handed from a Tupperware party?

Malls are group think, a herd mentality when the thrill of the hunt is heightened by the sheer fact there is competition for the prize. We need to get to those shoes on the sale rack before that woman eyeing them on my left.

You may think I’m exaggerating a bit, but think of how much you’ve missed the mall. After your hairdresser and manicurist, it’s our first stop.

Don’t take away our malls; women need a place to escape to when overloaded by our busy lives and empty closets. Men have sports, we have shopping.

Small or large, strip or giant they are one part of our lives we need to fight to protect. Otherwise we will turn around one day and just like our youth, they will we gone.

 

 

 

 

 

Is Quarantine in Italy More Fattening?

pizzagram

Is Quarantine in Italy More Fattening?

I have noticed while perusing Facebook and Instagram that most posts have something to do with food. People who never made anything but reservations are now suddenly future cooking show stars as they prepare new dishes for their families.

I applaud everyone setting out on their new kitchen journey, but for me it does beg the question—is the quarantine food better in Italy or France?

Perhaps I should be asking, why is it all about food?”

Of course there are great chefs and great food in America and I don’t wish to infer anything different, but hey being stuck in a home in Tuscany with an Italian grandma cooking, well come on let’s get real.

Homemade pasta, pizzas, minestrone, cannoli, tiramisu. Just a minute my mouth is watering here.

Okay I’m back.

There is no doubt Italian food is high on the list of everyone’s favorites and to be locked in with fresh pastas cooking daily, oh my. How fat can you get?

Who could say no to all the luscious foods being catered morning till night with a pot of Sunday gravy (sauce) constantly simmering on the stove? Not me.

They would have to roll me out the door at the end of this whole adventure because I would be stuffing food into my mouth non-stop. The only exercise I’m sure I’d get would be walking from the table to the stove or pizza oven to refill my plate.

I don’t mean to sound as though I’m playing favorites so let’s examine being quarantined in France.

Oh boy, chocolate croissants for breakfast, beurre blanc sauces and luscious creamy éclairs with a side of macrons.

The delicate touch of French cooking would not do much to prevent me from packing on the pounds. I would have to get up extra early to ensure I get to the croissants when they first came out of the oven.

I believe it’s almost impossible to be at home for such a length of time and not focus way too much on food. It’s a well-known fact when we’re all busy and productive our appetites take a back seat while boredom leads them into the forefront.

Okay, I just finished the first season of Fauda, what’s for lunch?

Now let me see, I’ll just watch another season of Shitt’s Creek and then have dinner. Wait, what should I have for dinner? Hmmm, let me check the freezer. You stand in front of the freezer watching your Hagen Daz melt as you scan the food and come up empty.

You check the refrigerator to get a feel for what might be appealing and you are left cold, literally with what catches your eye. So you wonder, should I order in? What can I get that I’ve been craving?

You spend another ten minutes trying to figure out what looks good for dinner and since you’re basically still full from lunch, your appetite isn’t really responding as you’d hoped and the signal is a bit hazy.

So you go back to the television and click back onto Netflix and in a few hours you’re starting to feel hungry and your attention shifts back to food.

This has now become a search for the most appealing dinner and you realize what you want for dinner isn’t available in your kitchen so you settle for cereal.

Now if that Italian Grandma had been busy cooking all day you would sit down to a dinner of homemade pasta, delicious meatballs and a tiramisu for dessert.

See? Fattening!

Captivity is not a conducive atmosphere for dieting.

When politicians mention the dangers of being quarantined in your homes, stress, depression, suicide, etc, they don’t mention the biggest danger—FAT!

Yes, this is good for the economy. Let’s face it when we get out again none of our clothes will fit so we’ll need to buy new things to wear. That’s positive for retailers, yet the negative is the extra pounds. Positive is more business for the gyms when they reopen. Negative is diabetes, heart disease, etc.

So there doesn’t seem to be a good answer for everyone here.

As a serious foodaholic being locked in with a refrigerator and access to food delivery to my door is making my fat cells dance for joy. They have been waiting my whole life for instant food on a whim and not even have to get in the car to shop.

I remember how I celebrated pizza delivery. That was the first step on the road to extra calories in an instant. Now whatever you want is available too quickly and too easily. Step number two on that road was elastic-waist pants.

Oh sure, all good news for my fat cells but bad for my diet.

So what can I do, fly to Italy and search Tuscany for my Italian grandmother who died many, many, many years ago?

It’s just me, Amazon, and my better angels screaming at me to stop carbo-loading and suck up the kale. Who will win? So far I’m holding my own, but chocolate is a formidable foe.

Am I glad I’m not in Italy or France? You bet I am. Excuse me I have a pot of sauce simmering on the stove. I remembered I’m part Italian grandma so bye bye cereal and hello minestrone. It ain’t Tuscany, but good pasta is worth its weight in gold anywhere on earth.

 

 

 

 

 

I Need an Exit Plan Here!!

hotdoglady

Can I Get an Expiration Date on all this Fun and Frivolity?

This was an unusual Mother’s Day. Where most are spent with children and grandchildren brunching, lunching or supping, this one was spent Zooming or Facetiming by far too many families.

Okay, I’ll say it, it sucks, but yes I’m grateful for the technology that allows us to see our families albeit from a distance.

This Brave New World that we all now inhabit courtesy of the Chinese Communist Party has not come cheap. So much for the economic benefits of manufacturing in China.

It has cost us all dearly and I for one need to know there is an end to this madness.

I have heard too many times lately that although the quarantine may end for those under sixty, the older folks, and sadly I must count myself among that group, although I have absolutely no idea how I got this old, will not be able to run amuck so quickly.

One of my friends confessed between sobs she was so lonesome for her children and grandchildren she admitted this is “getting to her.” An understatement of gargantuan proportions.

I feel her pain and I’m sure most of the rest of the world does as well.

While there are many whose children will allow visitation rights in this climate, many won’t. My children would feel better if they could shackle my leg to the couch, but I have behaved and stayed indoors except for the occasional walk around the neighborhood. My daughter, bless her heart, texts after my walk to see if I made it home okay. I imagine my children fear that a giant corona virus is lurking outside just to attack older people that can’t outrun it.

And yes, it’s a warm and fuzzy feeling to know my children are concerned about my welfare and very protective yet it does beg the question, “When the hell can I get out of here?”

That seems to be the dilemma for most of my friends. There isn’t a light at the end of this tunnel.

It’s far easier to except the inevitable when the inevitable has an expiration date. At this point in time no one can say with any certainty when this plague will be gone. Is it a month or a year or never?

Tough to get happy thinking we may never be able to step into the light unencumbered by the threat of sickness or death once again.

Yes, I know as my son has pointed out to make me feel better, that the greatest minds in the world are focused on only one thing, killing this viral sucker, and that does help.

After all, we do live in a world of impressive innovation.

There are cures for diseases, electric cars, reservations for recreational space travel, which by the way is looking real good right now, Alexa (or as I like to refer to her, Big Brother’s little sister), Downton Abbey, Cherry Garcia ice cream, magnetic false eyelashes, umbrellas that close upside down, air fryers, Amazon, and the Real Housewives of anywhere and everywhere, although they don’t resemble anyone I’ve ever known, in any house anywhere.

Yes, while great minds are at work 24/7 I’ve noticed some things conspicuously missing as I pondered why I’m having trouble finding certain pieces of my jigsaw puzzles.

Did you know for instance there are no television shows where old stars can go to remain semi relevant. And no, Dancing with the Stars doesn’t count. No Love Boats to watch as the characters we grew up with parade around the Lido Deck and order cocktails from Isaac.

I’ve also seriously questioned my intelligence while viewing reruns of That Girl on METV wondering how the hell Marlo Thomas afforded an apartment in New York and couture clothes working as a part-time actress?

As I watch the old shows I ask myself, “Was I dumb enough to buy into this horse shit?” As if Ann Marie and Donald weren’t sleeping together, yeah right!

And don’t even start me on Jeannie and Larry Hagman. Like any red-blooded American male wouldn’t wish for one thing first, last and always when he has a half-naked blond living on his coffee table.

Donna Reed with her perfect make up, wearing high heels, silk shirtwaist and pearls in the morning to make oatmeal. Really, seriously? No wonder I was so screwed up. My mother didn’t get out of bed until at least nine and when I returned home from school was still in her nightgown. Pearls and oatmeal were never a thing in our house. It was pretty much Tony the Tiger or my Dad’s special eggs, which were actually eggs scrambled in the pan that were breakfast fare most mornings.

As I’ve said before, I have way too much time on my hands now that I can’t play Maj Jong.

Thinking this much is over rated and so was the new Netflix series, Hollywood, but it served as a nice distraction for a few hours.

I saw on the news that a drive-in movie just opened somewhere in Texas. I was so excited thinking of being outside on a summer night and watching the drink cups, ice cream bars, popcorn and hot dogs singing and dancing across the screen, “Let’s all go to the lobby to get ourselves a treat!” Now that was entertainment.

Some old stuff is looking pretty good right now, although I can’t say I am with no haircut and roots as long as a politician’s arrest record.

Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank has reintroduced carhops. Great, now we don’t even have to get a bit of exercise by walking into the restaurant. Calories on a tray hand delivered to your car. Is that innovation or a step back into lazy land?

Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy some down time like everyone else. There are puzzles to do, shows to watch, new recipes to try and some crafty things I can now find time for, but I need an end date on all this fun and frivolity. I’m burning out on relaxation.

No matter how many times we turn off the news we are all still aware, especially on a holiday, that these are scary times and somewhere in the back of our minds that fear lingers like the aroma of cheap drugstore perfume.

I have a new and profound respect for animals at the zoo. No wonder they look pissed off. I guess those monkey bars can get old pretty fast. I know mine are. So until we can once more overpay for a ticket to a mediocre movie and ten dollar tubs of popcorn I wish you all happy days filled with fun and interesting diversions.

Stay safe everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ponder, Ponder, Ponder Get Me Outta Here

ponder.jpg

Ponder, Ponder, Ponder…Get Me Outta Here

Ponder: to think carefully about something, especially for a noticeable length of time.

I have way too much time on my hands right now to ponder. Yes ponder. No good can come of pondering. Thinking leads to allowing things into our minds that we have successfully been able to lock out for years. And then suddenly we are pondering and all the stuff we are trying to avoid comes back like Cadbury eggs at Easter time. Among today’s ponderings one stood out I knew I must share, since many have been the victim of its relentless convoluted logic. So here is one of the most obnoxious forms of guilt and manipulation on the planet.

I give you the plea, “I know their wrong, but you give in and be the bigger person.”

I’m sure if we had a dollar for every time we heard that phrase we’d be rich as Rockefeller. I know I would.

So I will now bust this myth wide open by saying simply. When you strive to be the bigger person, you only succeed in making yourself the bigger target.

Why do you say this Norma? Why shouldn’t everyone attempt to be bigger and more magnanimous? How can it be negative in any way?

I shall splain, Lucy.

In most cases the plea for one to be the bigger person always comes when someone is acting like a giant jerk and you are the one chosen to keep the peace.

One must ask why you are the one being asked to succumb to the idiotic or selfish ramblings of others. Is it because those beseeching you believe you are the bigger person? Or do they really believe you are the weaker one, or perhaps even more prideful?

I believe it’s true especially with parents that understand when we are very young which child is the weakest of the herd. Whom can they most easily manipulate and lead about through the use of many methods, including guilt.

Thus when the most spoiled and stubborn of the group acts up they immediately know which to approach to give in and end the stand off.

The weakest one of course, the one that will most easily succumb to the guilt, praise and downright lies.

It’s usually the one doing the acting up or out that’s the favored one, the most loved and revered and not to be messed with. So because they are the most prized everyone must give in to their ridiculous and selfish behavior.

I am merely pondering here, but I believe I’m on the money.

After one gives in to a spoiled obnoxious person there is a period of praise from others and pride in being the bigger person.

Sucker!!!

Nothing is ever gained by backing down and letting others walk over you. Oh sure there is momentary peace. Yet all it accomplishes is to set a pattern of behavior where you give in to those who in many instances, will never change, grow or become better people.

You will never have established healthy boundaries with this type of person and they will continue throughout life to take advantage of the fact they can emotionally bully you.

Eventually the day will come when you will grow tired of the dynamic and walk away. So what has been gained?

Being the bigger person is not always predicated on giving in. Nor is it dependent on the desire to always be right. We should agree that many times we must let others be right even when we believed we were, and sometimes when they may not be.

In retrospect as we all look back on our mistakes, failures and successes there have been many times we would change our behavior to affect the outcome. This is a necessary lesson in human relationships.

Giving in to appease others to believe we’re the bigger person is an exercise in futility and pride. It’s like winning the booby prize. Sure someone else won the argument, but I know I’m the bigger person. As if that counts for anything.

I think there are two ways to be the bigger person in these encounters. One is to walk away and ignore the entire situation. Rise above it altogether and don’t engage.

Second is to avoid people in your life that back you against a wall and encourage disputes and unpleasantness. Being the bigger person may be nothing more than being the wiser one.

In the end none of it matters anyway. Arguments are futile because most people don’t really change their opinions. Hostility is unhealthy and should be avoided at all costs. As one ages we all realize that very little matters except love and family. So being the so-called bigger person always has and always will come to naught in the end.

I think we are all the bigger person for knowing what is really important for bigger, as we know, is not always better.

So in my pondering I have decided that what matters most is to seek love, forgive easily and embrace laughter. And I don’t need anything bigger than that.

 

 

 

Grandmas Need Hugs to Survive

 

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This new normal is an exercise in self control personified.

Grandparents have now been relegated to seeing their grandchildren via Face time or Zoom, neither of which is conducive to this Grammy’s needs.

Sure I can see my grandsons as they carry the phone around with them through their activities and I can pseudo join them in their daily routine for a short time. I applaud the technology that allows us access in these dangerous times.

However, let me say loud and clear, iphones are no substitute for smelling your grandson’s hair and hugging him until he says Grammy you’re squeezing me so hard I can’t breathe.

This quarantine, although necessary has been difficult for grandparents.

We are told by our children, “make sure you walk and stay active.” I say you can’t watch Netflix and lump all your other activities together. All multi tasking aside it’s truly difficult to relax while you’re trying to use your foot pedal bike, shove Cherry Garcia into your mouth, do a jigsaw puzzle and watch Grace and Frankie at the same time.

When this is over I will not be able to sit still and simply relax without feeling I must be doing a million different things to avoid my hardening arteries from turning to stone.

There are so many things one must not do. No news on television lest we want to hang ourselves. No cooking unless one wants to become so fat that when we are allowed out the door we will not be able to fit through the door. Nothing will feel as good as breathing the stale air in a mall, eating the greasy over-spiced food in a food court or shopping a sale.

Yet with all the things we miss in our daily routine, Grandmas need kisses and hugs and the scent of their grandchildren to stay alive.

I almost feel sorry for my grandsons because I have months to make up for. There will be retroactive hugs and kisses to secure and that will take extra time.

So what will be the response of our grandchildren?

Will they allow all that extra affection? Will they allow those long stares and proud smiles? Will they be annoyed and say, Grammy, stop staring at me?

Will there be a backlash? Will our grandchildren rebel and say no more? Will we have to live with cuddling cutbacks if we come on too strong? And how can we not come on too strong when we are let out of quarantine jail and allowed to get within hugging distance again?

We’ve had months of withdrawal. We are chomping at the bit to see those little faces we love up close and personal. Who can blame us for a little overdoing? Am I perhaps a bit melodramatic? Well staring at the damn walls and reruns of the West Wing have created more than just a little desperation here!

Hopefully our grandchildren will understand how excited we are to make up for lost time.

Okay, so I know self-control will have to be the rule of the day when I am allowed near my grandsons once more.

I shall practice restraint and time my hugs to be just short of annoying.

My staring at their adorable faces will have to be monitored and shortened although I’m afraid I won’t be able to take my eyes off them.

These are hard Grammy times and I’m feeling the burn here.

It’s more than an exercise in self-control, it’s an exercise in the pain of withdrawal from a perfectly acceptable drug—my grandchildren. I’m addicted and I’m not ashamed to speak it out loud.

I also know I’m not the only grandparent out there who is hurting. There is something about being in the company of your grandchildren that lowers blood pressure, allows one’s tired old heart to beat with a renewed sense of joy and youth, and the sheer act of smiling so hard at the sight of them takes years off one’s face.

What is one to do when separated from the most powerful youth drug on the planet? I can’t imagine I’ll have enough time to catch up on my dosage once this is over.

Grandchildren are the fountains of youth. Their smiles contain all the secrets of the universe and they are the sun to my planet.

So I must say to all grandparents, hang in there and double up on your dosage when we are allowed to return to the universe that keeps us young and excited about life. Until then please stay safe and healthy and hopeful about the future. That sense of hope and optimism is something we all can pass down to our offspring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing Old in Captivity

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Being old in captivity brings a whole new set of problems. Each age group has faced unique challenges in the face of this horrific world attack by an evil virus and the world has now seen the ravages of biological warfare on a global scale.

Much has been learned or one can hope, but each age group has had to face different and scary trials.

I have witnessed the tests younger people including my own children and grandchildren have faced.

It is however my own that I can speak to most clearly.

Did I fully appreciate Amazon before, probably not? Do I now? Have I completely embraced the whole let my fingers do the walking routine online? You bet. Will I be excited to run through a mall again and feel and touch the merchandise? You bet I will! Is chocolate still a panacea, it is indeed.

Busy brings distraction. Growing old is difficult and most of my generation have learned to use denial and distraction as the prevalent tools in their arsenal to battle back against the reality of old age.

Time doesn’t creep it pounces.

We look in the mirror and our close-up vision is compromised by time.

We compensate by using magnified mirrors that are probably the work of the devil, but we insist on a true glimpse into the ravages of time.

We battle back with plastic surgery, Botox, creams, treatments whatever we can unearth to slow the process.

Yet what I have discovered in the last few months is that the greatest tool in our arsenal is indeed distraction and without that we must come face to face with our own mortality.

And it isn’t pretty.

In the pre-covid 19 days I would see a new wrinkle and meet a friend for lunch, do some shopping, play Maj Jong, visit my grandsons, or any one of a million other activities, including work related to distract from the truth that stared me in the face, I am growing old. I am now the oldest generation, and time is winning.

The last few months have brought many deaths, some from covid, some from natural causes, but many I grew up with and around are suddenly gone.

Once I would hear about a death of an old friend and busy myself with trivial activities to ignore the fact that time was racing past. Distraction was king, and I say long live the king!

Now I have no such luxury. Binge watching Shitt’s Creek is not the same as being with family or friends. It isn’t working. It may provide a moment’s distraction, but our lifestyle is the ultimate defense against reality. Celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, important life events and holidays with family and friends cannot be discounted.

We hear bad news, we move, we see a gray hair we move, we feel the ravages of time on our bodies, we move.

Without movement, we have little defense.

We need as Streisand said, “People”. We need interaction, even those among us who once considered ourselves a bit of an introvert. We’ve all realized we are part of the world and we use this world to our advantage to deal with the fears and issues we face each day.

Without interaction we are forced to see life for what is it is and that can be very painful for one who is moving into old age. It even sounds sad, but once I wouldn’t have cared. I could laugh with friends, celebrate life and keep going.

Stopping is not an option. The challenge has been to keep busy and relevant now that the world has closed up shop.

Soon we will all enter a new world, a new normal; we can’t yet predict or foresee and we will have to move even further away from the world we once knew.

This is a painful exercise even in the best of times so how we will approach these good byes now.

Part of growing older are the memories we embrace, our childhoods, our parenting years and remembering those who are now gone.

I know my generation is up to this as we have overcome before, we will again. I am forcibly optimistic and choose to be.

So to all my friends I can only say what I have been saying to myself,

More than ever it is imperative we make the most of every moment. Live fully and excitedly each day and dwell only in the present. Had we ever forgotten those rules and I have many times, we cannot again.

Happy new world coming and may it be the best years of your lives.

 

 

 

Why I’m Voting for Jed Bartlet for President

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Why I’m Voting For Jed Bartlet for President

I never discuss politics on social media. In this political climate, no matter what your political affiliation the wrath of Satan will come at you from the other side. There is no civil discourse and I find it incredibly disheartening and tragic that we as Americans can’t simply have an opinion and not be sought out for pain and suffering for our beliefs.

However, this election I have decided to take a stand. I will be casting my vote for Josiah (Jed) Bartlet and I’m praying he once again picks Tim Matheson for his Veep. Any guy who could handle the guys in Animal House should be able to handle Congress. Well maybe.

Watching the West Wing reruns, which I do regularly, makes me long for the good old days when politicians hated one another, but were polite when they stuck the knives in someone’s back.

There have been times lately when I truly believe America will be totally fine in their battle against the coronavirus because the toxic atmosphere of politics today will take down the virus. No match.

People are so angry and aggressive we have become a nation of pitbulls and there seems to be no limit to the mean. Racism and anti- Semitism are fair game and hate has become an overt pastime that comes with no price to pay.

Friendships, family relationships and businesses have all felt the wrath of this new normal.

Jed Bartlet is the only man who can calm the waters and restore peace.

No one would dare call C.J. Craig fat at a White House press dinner.

Who could ever accuse Josh Lyman, Toby Zeigler or Sam Seaborn of inappropriate behavior? Leo McGarry was even coerced by Jed to hire a Republican, Ainsley Hayes in the White House.

Could you ever see that happening today?

Okay I know, you’re thinking Norma, hello, this wasn’t real life. The West Wing was a television program so you need to come back to reality. Politicians like Bartlet don’t really exist and never could.

I know I know, I’m very well aware of what politicians are, probably more than most since I’m a journalist and possess the anti-politician gene.

I’m dog they are cat, born to be at odds. I get it.

So here is my solution. Since Jed was created by genius Aaron Sorkin, perhaps he should run.

In West Wingland life was good, people were human and the politics were admirable. Crises were averted without name calling and shaming one another.

Since Sorkin imagined this political utopia let’s give him a shot at bringing it into the real world.

So Mr. S, I’m throwing your hat into the political ring whether or not you care to be there.

America needs you and it’s your duty to serve your country. To paraphrase a line from one of the episodes, “we’ve all been down that hole now and you know the way out.”

I’m volunteering to be your press secretary and Matheson for your vice president. Look out Congress the Belushi tamer is coming your way.

Sure I’m kidding, sort of, well maybe kinda, but the point is life imitates art or vice versa. In these times of anger, pure mean and contempt toward one another, perhaps this is the solution.

I for one can think of no other so I’ll throw my hands in the air and shout Bartlet’s campaign slogan, “Make America Nice Again.”

Stay healthy everyone and take heart, if you run out of toilet paper you can always use your ballot for the upcoming election.

 

 

 

 

 

Two Great Reasons to Hate American Politics

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Two Great Reasons to Hate American Politics

I find it difficult to narrow down my distaste for American politics in so few reasons. I am certain if I let myself I’d find hundreds more. Case in point, Congress, there’s 535 damn good reasons right there. But I’ve promised two and I shall stick to that number. After recent threatening remarks by Senator Charles Schumer on the steps of the Supreme Court I realized that Dorothy was in Kansas no longer. No one would have ever dared disrespect and threaten the court when I was young; it was simply unacceptable let alone ever considered. I have watched as politics in this country have devolved into the evilest and most horrifying experience since the shower scene in Psycho. Make no mistake it is on both sides of the aisle.

The first and probably most offensive reason to me is the plain old-fashioned meanness of the whole process. The political arena has the aura of the wicked witch’s candy-coated house in Hansel and Gretel. Oh sure there’s candy in freedom, but inside awaits the horrible oven where she cooked children. I say this with true regret as I relate the tale of what was a true disappointment in my youth the first time I cast my vote.

I was over-the-moon excited. As a Baby Boomer I had lived through tumultuous times, the 1968 Democratic Convention, Martin Luther King, John, and Robert Kennedy assassinations, the Chicago Seven, Watergate, Elvis going into the army, two Darrens on Bewitched, mini skirts and the sheer unattainable skinniness of Twiggy. I was patriotic and excited to become a true member of the club, a voting American about to make my voice heard. I considered it a privilege and an honor, and still do.

I waited in line at the firehouse on my corner and signed my paper to receive my ballot. Back then in primitive times there was paper. I wasn’t certain about how to do it correctly so I asked the woman who’d handed me my ballot for help. She smiled and I pointed to Hubert Humphrey and said, “Do I mark here to vote for him?”

Her face soured immediately and with a chill in her voice that would put an instant end to global warming answered, “If that’s what you want, than I suppose.”

The air immediately left the patriotic balloon I was riding and I fell to earth with a thud. Her tone and look changed the moment from exuberance into ugly and my joy at voting was now colored with negativity.

Oh sure you may say, you were too sensitive. Yes perhaps, but at that time in America I was still foolish enough to believe that we had a right to free speech, free thought and to vote for whomever we pleased without suffering the malice of others. I think that’s why we have the first amendment because our forefathers understood without this freedom there could be no freedom.

Sadly that experience is a Sunday school picnic by today’s standards. A look, a snide remark pale by comparison to what one may suffer today. One may get beaten or worse for their political views now and it seems to be getting worse each day.

Friends and family members have become alienated and people are afraid to exercise free speech. On our college campuses students believe they have the right to silence those with whom they disagree and tragically some turn to violence to exercise that pitiful point of view.

The meanness is palpable and has turned what once was a country where people left their doors unlocked into one where neighbors lock out those with whom they politically disagree. We may not have shared the same points of view, but it never escalated into hatred and violence.

I always thought a healthy discourse between Americans what was made this country so great. We were allowed to argue about what candidate was best, why we thought so and why we believed they deserved our vote. I felt incredibly grateful to be able to speak out when I looked at the Berlin Wall and how oppressive and frightening it was to live under a totalitarianism regime.

The negativity and sheer disrespect for others displayed not only by Americans, but also by our elected representatives has shifted the karma of this country from one where the streets are paved with gold to the old west where shooting someone for interfering with your enjoyment of a beer was acceptable.

Have we become that egocentric that we believe our intellect so far exceeds those with whom we share the common bond of citizenship?

Reason number two deals with something quite different, the right to like or dislike whom we please. I know it may sound a bit simplistic at first, but in reality it truly is not. Human beings are emotional creatures and until the robots take over and the world becomes solely intellectual we will continue to allow our subjective experiences to guide us.

Hence when we vote our emotions play a part. What one finds reprehensible in one politician may seem endearing to another.

It’s how we’re built and we could no longer change this part of ourselves than find a gas station charging twenty cents a gallon.

We bring our biases into every decision we make. We decide what we like, whom we like and how we will live our life based on previous life experience accumulated through years of living. It’s who and what we are.

If we had a friend we liked and she always wore a certain color red sweater perhaps we’ll be receptive to that shade of red our entire life. Happy memories color our decisions as well as bad ones.

It’s for this reason we may choose to shun someone or take an instant dislike or embrace someone at first meeting. It happens all the time. I am certain this is also true of politicians. Why we may like or dislike them.

Does one perhaps remind you of a teacher you hated in school, a favorite uncle that always showered you with great gifts, or maybe even a neighbor that passed out the best Halloween candy. We have long forgotten the why of our bias, but it has become so engrained in us, it’s unconscious.

If someone chooses to vote or not vote for a politician we like they may have good reason for their decision. The choice may even be an emotionally driven one of which they aren’t even aware. On an emotional level it’s pointless to argue and that level so many times is far more powerful than intellect.

Hating someone for their feelings or bias based on their experience is foolish. It’s like saying I hate you because you’re too educated. That is so un-American. The diversity of this country is what makes it so unique and special. Remember the whole melting pot analogy?

We are all special, and as Americans entitled to think and speak as we please, unless of course that speech may bring harm to others. We are a charitable country that always reaches out to those in times of need.

During Katrina did anyone say I want my donations to go only to a democrat or republican?

When Kennedy died did anyone care about party affiliation as we sobbed shamelessly on one another’s shoulder?

I guess I’ll sum up this blog with a wonderful story from World War I about what is now referred to as the Christmas Truce of 1914. In his book, Silent Night, by Stanley Weintraub, he recounts the story and the following are excerpts.

“All was jarringly quiet on the Western Front when a British sentry suddenly spied a glistening light on the German parapet, less than 100 yards away. Warned that it might be a trap, Brewer slowly raised his head over the soaked sandbags protecting his position and through the maze of barbed wire saw a sparkling Christmas tree. As the lieutenant gazed down the line of the German trenches, a whole string of small conifers glimmered like beads on a necklace.

“Brewer then noticed the rising of a faint sound that he had never before heard on the battlefield—a Christmas carol. The German words to “Stille Nacht” were not familiar, but the tune—“Silent Night”—certainly was. When the German soldiers finished singing, their foes broke out in cheers. Used to returning fire, the British now replied in song with the English version of the carol.

When dawn broke on Christmas morning, something even more remarkable happened. In sporadic pockets along the 500-mile Western Front, unarmed German and Allied soldiers tentatively emerged from the trenches and cautiously crossed no-man’s-land—the killing fields between the trenches littered with frozen corpses, eviscerated trees and deep craters—to wish each other a Merry Christmas. Political leaders had ignored the call of Pope Benedict XV to cease fighting around Christmas, but soldiers in the trenches decided to stage their own unofficial, spontaneous armistices anyway.

“Not every fighting man, particularly those who had just seen comrades killed in action, felt moved by the Christmas spirit. Gunfire continued to be exchanged in certain locations along the front, and in some unfortunate cases soldiers were killed by enemy fire as they emerged from the trenches in the hope for a day of peace. The unsanctioned truce concerned high-ranking officials, afraid that their men might lose the will to fight, and outraged others, including one young German corporal who would launch the next world war. “Such a thing should not happen in wartime,” Adolf Hitler scolded his fellow soldiers. “Have you no German sense of honor left?”

“As the sun set on Christmas, the fighters retreated to their respective trenches. A few ceasefires held until New Year’s Day. In most locations, however, the war resumed on December 26. At 8:30 a.m. in Houplines, Captain Charles Stockwell of the 2nd Royal Welch Fusiliers fired three shots into the air and raised a flag that read “Merry Christmas.” His German counterpart raised a flag that read “Thank you.” The two men then mounted the parapets, saluted each other and returned to their sodden trenches. Stockwell wrote that his counterpart then “fired two shots in the air—and the war was on again.”

“The guns of World War I did not fall silent again until the signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918. The Christmas Truce, however, provided an unforgettable memory for many such as the British soldier who confessed in a letter the following day, “I wouldn’t have missed the experience of yesterday for the most gorgeous Christmas dinner in England.”

Regrettably, this is a story that probably couldn’t happen in today’s world. The heartfelt yearning for love, home and family these soldiers exhibited exceeded politics and penetrated the very soul and essence of humanity.

How tragic that we, citizens of the greatest country in the world cannot put aside our hate and intolerance to respect the political opinions of others.

I know what my Christmas wish would be this year; that we all find a way back to love and brotherhood in the purest form and stop the ceaseless hate and anger. As Americans we share too much good to turn it all so bad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Great Reasons to Hate American Politics

 

I find it difficult to narrow down my distaste for American politics in so few reasons. I am certain if I let myself I’d find hundreds more. Case in point, Congress, there’s 535 damn good reasons right there. But I’ve promised two and I shall stick to that number. After recent threatening remarks by Senator Charles Schumer on the steps of the Supreme Court I realized that Dorothy was in Kansas no longer. No one would have ever dared disrespect and threaten the court when I was young; it was simply unacceptable let alone ever considered. I have watched as politics in this country have devolved into the evilest and most horrifying experience since the shower scene in Psycho. Make no mistake it is on both sides of the aisle.

The first and probably most offensive reason to me is the plain old-fashioned meanness of the whole process. The political arena has the aura of the wicked witch’s candy-coated house in Hansel and Gretel. Oh sure there’s candy in freedom, but inside awaits the horrible oven where she cooked children. I say this with true regret as I relate the tale of what was a true disappointment in my youth the first time I cast my vote.

I was over-the-moon excited. As a Baby Boomer I had lived through tumultuous times, the 1968 Democratic Convention, Martin Luther King, John, and Robert Kennedy assassinations, the Chicago Seven, Watergate, Elvis going into the army, two Darrens on Bewitched, mini skirts and the sheer unattainable skinniness of Twiggy. I was patriotic and excited to become a true member of the club, a voting American about to make my voice heard. I considered it a privilege and an honor, and still do.

I waited in line at the firehouse on my corner and signed my paper to receive my ballot. Back then in primitive times there was paper. I wasn’t certain about how to do it correctly so I asked the woman who’d handed me my ballot for help. She smiled and I pointed to Hubert Humphrey and said, “Do I mark here to vote for him?”

Her face soured immediately and with a chill in her voice that would put an instant end to global warming answered, “If that’s what you want, than I suppose.”

The air immediately left the patriotic balloon I was riding and I fell to earth with a thud. Her tone and look changed the moment from exuberance into ugly and my joy at voting was now colored with negativity.

Oh sure you may say, you were too sensitive. Yes perhaps, but at that time in America I was still foolish enough to believe that we had a right to free speech, free thought and to vote for whomever we pleased without suffering the malice of others. I think that’s why we have the first amendment because our forefathers understood without this freedom there could be no freedom.

Sadly that experience is a Sunday school picnic by today’s standards. A look, a snide remark pale by comparison to what one may suffer today. One may get beaten or worse for their political views now and it seems to be getting worse each day.

Friends and family members have become alienated and people are afraid to exercise free speech. On our college campuses students believe they have the right to silence those with whom they disagree and tragically some turn to violence to exercise that pitiful point of view.

The meanness is palpable and has turned what once was a country where people left their doors unlocked into one where neighbors lock out those with whom they politically disagree. We may not have shared the same points of view, but it never escalated into hatred and violence.

I always thought a healthy discourse between Americans what was made this country so great. We were allowed to argue about what candidate was best, why we thought so and why we believed they deserved our vote. I felt incredibly grateful to be able to speak out when I looked at the Berlin Wall and how oppressive and frightening it was to live under a totalitarianism regime.

The negativity and sheer disrespect for others displayed not only by Americans, but also by our elected representatives has shifted the karma of this country from one where the streets are paved with gold to the old west where shooting someone for interfering with your enjoyment of a beer was acceptable.

Have we become that egocentric that we believe our intellect so far exceeds those with whom we share the common bond of citizenship?

Reason number two deals with something quite different, the right to like or dislike whom we please. I know it may sound a bit simplistic at first, but in reality it truly is not. Human beings are emotional creatures and until the robots take over and the world becomes solely intellectual we will continue to allow our subjective experiences to guide us.

Hence when we vote our emotions play a part. What one finds reprehensible in one politician may seem endearing to another.

It’s how we’re built and we could no longer change this part of ourselves than find a gas station charging twenty cents a gallon.

We bring our biases into every decision we make. We decide what we like, whom we like and how we will live our life based on previous life experience accumulated through years of living. It’s who and what we are.

If we had a friend we liked and she always wore a certain color red sweater perhaps we’ll be receptive to that shade of red our entire life. Happy memories color our decisions as well as bad ones.

It’s for this reason we may choose to shun someone or take an instant dislike or embrace someone at first meeting. It happens all the time. I am certain this is also true of politicians. Why we may like or dislike them.

Does one perhaps remind you of a teacher you hated in school, a favorite uncle that always showered you with great gifts, or maybe even a neighbor that passed out the best Halloween candy. We have long forgotten the why of our bias, but it has become so engrained in us, it’s unconscious.

If someone chooses to vote or not vote for a politician we like they may have good reason for their decision. The choice may even be an emotionally driven one of which they aren’t even aware. On an emotional level it’s pointless to argue and that level so many times is far more powerful than intellect.

Hating someone for their feelings or bias based on their experience is foolish. It’s like saying I hate you because you’re too educated. That is so un-American. The diversity of this country is what makes it so unique and special. Remember the whole melting pot analogy?

We are all special, and as Americans entitled to think and speak as we please, unless of course that speech may bring harm to others. We are a charitable country that always reaches out to those in times of need.

During Katrina did anyone say I want my donations to go only to a democrat or republican?

When Kennedy died did anyone care about party affiliation as we sobbed shamelessly on one another’s shoulder?

I guess I’ll sum up this blog with a wonderful story from World War I about what is now referred to as the Christmas Truce of 1914. In his book, Silent Night, by Stanley Weintraub, he recounts the story and the following are excerpts.

“All was jarringly quiet on the Western Front when a British sentry suddenly spied a glistening light on the German parapet, less than 100 yards away. Warned that it might be a trap, Brewer slowly raised his head over the soaked sandbags protecting his position and through the maze of barbed wire saw a sparkling Christmas tree. As the lieutenant gazed down the line of the German trenches, a whole string of small conifers glimmered like beads on a necklace.

“Brewer then noticed the rising of a faint sound that he had never before heard on the battlefield—a Christmas carol. The German words to “Stille Nacht” were not familiar, but the tune—“Silent Night”—certainly was. When the German soldiers finished singing, their foes broke out in cheers. Used to returning fire, the British now replied in song with the English version of the carol.

When dawn broke on Christmas morning, something even more remarkable happened. In sporadic pockets along the 500-mile Western Front, unarmed German and Allied soldiers tentatively emerged from the trenches and cautiously crossed no-man’s-land—the killing fields between the trenches littered with frozen corpses, eviscerated trees and deep craters—to wish each other a Merry Christmas. Political leaders had ignored the call of Pope Benedict XV to cease fighting around Christmas, but soldiers in the trenches decided to stage their own unofficial, spontaneous armistices anyway.

“Not every fighting man, particularly those who had just seen comrades killed in action, felt moved by the Christmas spirit. Gunfire continued to be exchanged in certain locations along the front, and in some unfortunate cases soldiers were killed by enemy fire as they emerged from the trenches in the hope for a day of peace. The unsanctioned truce concerned high-ranking officials, afraid that their men might lose the will to fight, and outraged others, including one young German corporal who would launch the next world war. “Such a thing should not happen in wartime,” Adolf Hitler scolded his fellow soldiers. “Have you no German sense of honor left?”

“As the sun set on Christmas, the fighters retreated to their respective trenches. A few ceasefires held until New Year’s Day. In most locations, however, the war resumed on December 26. At 8:30 a.m. in Houplines, Captain Charles Stockwell of the 2nd Royal Welch Fusiliers fired three shots into the air and raised a flag that read “Merry Christmas.” His German counterpart raised a flag that read “Thank you.” The two men then mounted the parapets, saluted each other and returned to their sodden trenches. Stockwell wrote that his counterpart then “fired two shots in the air—and the war was on again.”

“The guns of World War I did not fall silent again until the signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918. The Christmas Truce, however, provided an unforgettable memory for many such as the British soldier who confessed in a letter the following day, “I wouldn’t have missed the experience of yesterday for the most gorgeous Christmas dinner in England.”

Regrettably, this is a story that probably couldn’t happen in today’s world. The heartfelt yearning for love, home and family these soldiers exhibited exceeded politics and penetrated the very soul and essence of humanity.

How tragic that we, citizens of the greatest country in the world cannot put aside our hate and intolerance to respect the political opinions of others.

I know what my Christmas wish would be this year; that we all find a way back to love and brotherhood in the purest form and stop the ceaseless hate and anger. As Americans we share too much good to turn it all so bad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Fat Are You? 110 Pounds Thinner, Thank You

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How Fat Are You?

110 Pounds Thinner, Thank You

I haven’t really ever taken on weight as a subject, but I feel it’s time to impart my take on the whole food/weight thing. There are so many opinions in this area the lights of Broadway dim by comparison.

Many of those opinions lack the true knowledge of living in a fat world and what it means to be bursting out of your clothes and not see your feet for years.

I lost 110 pounds twenty six years ago and have managed through daily battles to keep it off. No applause please; just throw money.

This is not a tome to brag about my weight loss or have everyone cluck his or her tongue and say, “Well she’s not really that thin, just how fat was she?”

I merely feel it’s time for someone who has been there and done that to speak out.

Losing weight is not a war one ever wins. It’s a series of battles and many we unfortunately lose.

Every day in human existence is fraught with land mines waiting to explode under our feet.

No matter how we start our day, we have no guarantee how it will end.

We may think, today I’m going to eat healthy, and then suddenly a friend calls and says, “I’m picking you up in twenty minutes; I have reservations at that fabulous new restaurant we’ve been dying to try.”

Resolve or no resolve, you’re going down. No one is going to go to a restaurant that makes the most phenomenal pizza outside of Naples, Italy and have a chef’s salad.

But if there’s anything I’ve learned in this life it’s that there is no black and white, only gray.

Why should we be torn with guilt if we have the pizza?

Shouldn’t we be jubilant at the prospects of enjoying something new with a friend?

I want to say right now I’m not espousing eating pizza and not following whatever it takes to stay healthy, and I know there are many schools of thought about this. I am strictly talking about guilt related to food. I have already designated pizza as my last meal so I’m not objective here.

Not any conscious decision to eat plant based, vegan, keto or any of the other new age versions of a healthy diet may change your relationship with food. Unless you are dead set on doing so.

This is all about you, your snickers bar and the relationship you share.

How does one lose weight really? Is it a combination of foods? Many would have us believe that if you eat a certain food with another they become best friends and attack your fat together.

Okay whatever! I’ve never found two foods that would gang up to attack fat. In my body it’s every man for himself and it’s been my experience that everyone has a different body.

I have a friend whose doctor told her that she has the metabolism of a corpse.

Some people run and are incredibly active all day. Others sit at their desk and write, some try to get in a bit of walking when they can. The point is we are all different and our calorie count should reflect these differences.

I could never eat what an athlete can. I have to allow for the fact that some days I’m sitting and writing, or reading or pitifully inactive.

I can’t eat much on those days or my metabolism laughs at me and starts building new fat condos in my midsection. I can hear the construction noises as I go through the day.

I also know that certain foods love me too much. So much in fact, once I eat them they never want to leave. Like that guest at the party that keeps talking even as your eyes are closing. These would be the carbohydrate family.

Oh you all know them; the breads, chips, cookies, cakes, brownies, candy and potatoes clan. They are so in love with me I think the fat under my right arm is all from the onion rings I ate at Big Boy when I was sixteen years old.

They love to snuggle in the smaller crevices of my body and expand to fit their needs.

Chocolate is my biggest nemesis because it knows it owns me. So once I have one piece of Sees candy it keeps screaming for more knowing full well I haven’t the power to say no.

I have found however that eating these carb foods earlier in the day does give my poor, old tired metabolism a bit of extra time to face them head on. There may be casualties, but not as many.

The sad part about loving food is it’s an affair that never ends. Not until the doctor says you must stop eating those foods or die do you give any consideration to a break up.

Sadder still is that so many are not swayed by such threats and continue eating until the inevitable result.

However there are those that keep eating, are overweight and can’t get through a door and seem to keep on keeping on even as skinny people die.

Go figure? I can’t.

There is one silver lining to getting older. You can’t eat as much. Hence the sharing of a sandwich by couples at the deli and the early bird special.

So what can one do to fight against the cravings and love we all feel for our foodie favorites?

I can only say what has worked for me and I must add not all the time, but a battle or two.

I eat 90% of my food early in the day. I find it prevents me from gaining. Even when I treat myself to pizza I can diminish the damage by giving my body the whole day to work its magic.

I don’t eat at night for two reasons, I gain weight and I’m up all night feeling full and yucky. Yucky referring to a term used to describe bloated and full from that chocolate cake I shouldn’t have eaten before bed.

If I’m craving a certain food I make a plan to eat it beforehand.

Say I want a chocolate brownie, which I guess would be most days actually. Anyhow I say to myself, okay I’m going to the mall on such a day. I will go early and walk around for an extra hour to work off my brownie. That way I don’t feel as guilty.

No one should diet. That is the key. Everyone should find their sweet spot of maintenance and eat that many calories every day. Then we can treat ourselves to something wonderful once a week.

I literally think about what would make me happy in my cravings closet and plan for the moment. Surprisingly there are many weeks you don’t need to, or if you put off the craving it dissipates and disappears.

One of the worst things I used to do was get a craving for example Oreos, but there were none in the house. So I would try every food in my kitchen to alleviate the need for that Oreo taste. Results, no Oreos and a weight gain at the end of the day. Just learn delayed gratification and you’ll find it a good friend for life. Many nights I’d think of a food I want to eat and say okay I’ll eat it tomorrow and by the morning I didn’t want it anymore.

I’ve found it helps when you crave a cookie or piece of candy to buy a single serving not bake or buy a whole package. One cookie probably won’t hurt, a whole package loosen your belt time.

If you’re a crunchaholic and need to hear your food being eaten from a mile away, I won’t suggest an apple even though it could work for you.

Although apples are the better choice, I know when the potato chip or popcorn craving comes a calling one must open that door.

Still there are many great options today. Tasty low calorie choices so you don’t have to do the damage to your waist you once did. You can also change your favorite recipes to be a bit healthier and calorie lighter.

We all have good and bad days watching our weight. One bad choice doesn’t lose the war. You needn’t go crazy binging because you feel guilty over that Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. Just eat and enjoy, then move on making healthier choices afterward.

I know all the things I’ve told you aren’t new or different than what you’ve heard before, but surprisingly most people revert back to old habits where food is concerned. I have to take each day as a different foodie challenge and deal with it accordingly.

Fat cells are little gorilla warriors just hiding inside your body waiting for you to slip up and then they attack.

I admit I eat much healthier now, far less food and treat myself less frequently; although I have been known to lose many battles to chocolate gummy bears and paid a hefty price.

The most important thing is to like yourself, stay healthy, be proud of every battle you win and never wear elastic waist pants.

Weight loss is a difficult opponent and if you win, the prize is feeling and looking good.

Wishing you luck and just write me if you need any support. No war was ever won by a single battle or a single soldier, so go out and win, win, win!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Queen Elizabeth, All Americans Aren’t Meghan

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No, Queen Elizabeth, All Americans Aren’t Meghan

With so much attention these days on the royal family and no millennials, I’m not talking about the Kardashians; I’m feeling immense sympathy for Queen Elizabeth. Why you ask, would Norma Zager feel sorry for the Queen?

With very good reason actually. She is a queen it’s true, but she is also a grandmother. Incidentally a very involved one since Harry and William lost their mother so young and it fell to her to become the female authority figure in their young lives. It must be very difficult for her to watch her grandsons unhappy or making bad decisions, just as any grandmother would.

William seems to have towed the party line. Despite his enormous pain at the loss of his mother, he rose to the occasion and selected and fell in love with a woman who in all aspects reflects a royal demeanor. Kate not only won William’s heart but she succeeded to win over the English people and the world. Her grace, refinement and charm have succeeded in creating a mate for the Prince that most deem highly appropriate and positive for a future queen.

Harry as we all have seen, has not dealt well with his position and tragic history. The loss of his mother took a large chunk out of his soul that he has been unable to repair and of course could never replace.

His behavior has been erratic, embarrassing and decidedly un-royal, but the public forgives his weaknesses and trespasses because he is loved.

Enter Meghan Markle. Oops! Now we have a new wrinkle in the royal laundry.

From all accounts the Queen Grandmother seemed to be welcoming because as we all know, what makes our children and grandchildren happy, is fine with us.

Yet, things quickly took a negative turn when Meghan’s family exhibited the signs of, how shall we put it, less than classy and talked to a hungry press about their dirty family secrets.

However, instead of placing the blame where it belonged with the Markle clan, she chose to deride the royals. Poor pitiful Meghan no one stood up for her as she was being attacked by her own family.

I’m sure it hurt in fact I know it does, but what was her reaction to this unpleasant piece of Markle business?

She became defensive instead of understanding that it would never do for the Queen or Prince Charles to come out swinging at anyone.

It is simply not done.

Meghan believed that because she is an American, she can open her big American mouth, as we all do and state her opinions. So sorry Honey, but you’re not in Kansas anymore.

Perhaps the press might have reacted more favorably toward you had you not been so obvious in your distain toward all things royal. It is what it is, get over it.

The royal family lives by a far different standard. Oh, of course they are well compensated for their lack of ability to speak their minds at all times, but sweetie get a grip. A crown is not free and comes with a cost.

Obviously Kate understood this truth and it’s why she’s a beloved member of the royal family.

While poor Meghan was crying into her Hermes handkerchief, she was also slathering her negativity upon Harry. Hasn’t he been through enough? And hasn’t the Queen?

Few people can resist the pomp and circumstance of the royal family. They are the reality television of England and watching their foibles and fashions is a guilty pleasure shared by countless Americans.

The viewing audience for the Kate and Wills’ wedding was astronomical and of course we all sat transfixed to the screen as yet another Windsor regaled us with the possibility of an English happily ever after, despite the grave feast of disappointment offered up by Charles and Diana.

Americans were nostalgic at how much Kate reminded us of our own royal Princess Grace, and aside from the gowns and uproarious chapeaus donned copiously on that royal day, I was struck by something perhaps most overlooked.

Of course as a grandmother, I see things differently and through the lens of all things grandchildren and

I was surprised to witness the fact the Queen of England seems to feel the same way.

Although the wedding was beautiful I managed to escape teary moments, romance aside, until for one split second I found myself face to face with a grandmother’s love and then the tears flowed like water.

Yes, right there in St. Paul’s Cathedral as William and Kate stopped after their nuptials to bow in respect as they headed back up the aisle, the Queen bowed her head and I saw the Grandma lip quiver as clear as day.

Oh she caught herself of course as any self-respecting and quite contained royal would do. Elizabeth more than most is dedicated to composure as the monarch, yet for one brief second she couldn’t contain her grandmother’s love for her grandson.

Her lip quivered and she looked down to hide the rush of emotion only a grandma could feel watching her beloved grandchild heading out into life, a married man, a new wife and a new life.

I imagined it must have been especially difficult for her as perhaps a fleeting memory of William’s pain at losing his mother washed over her and forced her to stand staunch against the tide of emotion attacking from all sides.

And of course Elizabeth in her well-practiced and inimitable way retained composure and caught that tear before it escaped her eye to fall onto a careworn cheek.

Yes, despite all of our differences at that moment we bonded as grandmothers, and I knew for certain Elizabeth is quite human after all. She has her weaknesses and one of them is William.

Her façade, her inner strength, her public persona all fell away when faced with the emotions of grandma love.

Shame on me for my utter surprise when so many of her grandchildren have praised her devotion. Princess Eugenie for example recounts how, “Granny would take us raspberry picking, and we’d have the raspberry jam that we picked that day on the table for tea.”

Kate first meeting her was surprised to learn the Queen played video games.

And yes part of my surprise does relate to the reputation of the English for being more affectionate with their dogs than their children.

I now know I was wrong and proven so by a quivering lip.

Imagine my surprise when I realized that indeed the Queen of England and I, an American cousin, have so much in common.

We are both no more than grandmas and that is a powerful and positive bond no matter who or what you are.

Now as her new great grandson, Archie, is removed to a country far away I’m certain she is saddened. A face-time chat is only second best to holding your grandchildren and great grandchildren in your arms and coochy-cooing them in person.

Since we can’t always choose our loved ones’ partners, even royalty, it’s more evident than ever to me that life doesn’t always turn out as we planned for any of us, even if you’re the Queen of England.

 

 

 

 

Chewbacca has Left The Building

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Chewbacca has Left the Building

Peter Mayhew AKA Chewbacca, Chewy, Han Solo’s BFF and iconic sidekick died this year without the usual fanfare accorded a superstar.

There were no news breaks, day and night and even weekly coverage like a Kobe or a Michael, just a sense of loss on so many levels from Star Wars fans.

Not to denigrate from others’ greatness, but if you cut us do we not bleed?

To a Star Wars geek the loss of Chewy is a giant blow, pun intended. He was able while wearing a costume to evoke emotions some actors can’t do while the camera is staring right at their face. He also suffered physical pain and difficulties while creating an iconic character and handled it all with class and professionalism.

Chewy was lovable, loyal, funny, protective and smart. His utterances transcended words and fans loved the character and appreciated that the man who played him hit exactly the right notes.

I want to know who decides. Who says this person is more important and deserves more coverage than another? Who in the entertainment business speaks for us all?

Watching the Academy Awards, while hoping my gag reflex didn’t fail me I was shocked that Kirk Douglas’s death wasn’t mentioned the entire night until the pictures of the dead rolled on the giant screen. Kirk Douglas is just one of the throng? Really? Seriously?

I know that most of old Hollywood was either dead or missing in action at the awards ceremonies, proving the theory that old people are not welcome, but to not even mention a man like Kirk Douglas, an icon, and a legitimate legend.

At one point in the “festivities” Tom Hanks who was speaking about AMPAS, ended with “I am Spartacus,” alluding to Kirk Douglas’s iconic words in Spartacus.

That was it. A shout out to Hanks, but can’t the academy do better?

Not a single actor acknowledged him in any way. No “we lost a legend a few days ago” speech, nod or comment on a man that so contributed to Hollywood’s reputation. Just a cavalier, “another one bites the dust,” kind of attitude.

Tom Hanks was the only one who felt compelled to honor a legend? How sad.

What are the Academy Awards anyway? The entire industry takes itself so damn seriously, but it is that one night a year we are most reminded of their ego.

The fashion is no longer as entertaining as when Joan Rivers mocked and trashed the celebs parading across the red carpet. The movies are many no one has even seen or heard of anymore. Heaven forbid a movie that actually rakes in billions should be given a shout out. Hello Avengers, Star Wars, etc.

A place where Hollywood goes to convince itself it’s more than all that and stars become political commentators while everyone pats everyone else on the back because they finally caught one of the bad guys, Harvey Weinstein; with no help from Hollywood, by the way.

A show where the best acting is done by the losers who pretend to be happy for those who just beat them out for the award.

Shouldn’t there be a category for the Peter Mayhews who must act beneath ten tons of makeup and a confining costume. For someone who can create a character that is beloved by hundreds of millions across the globe.

Chewy didn’t need no stinkin’ subtitles to create a legend.

I’m not equating Kirk Douglas and Mayhew. They were far different actors, yet both excelled at their craft.

If numbers are the judge Chewy had as many fans as Michael Jackson or Kobe Bryant.

If character is the criteria, Mayhew and Harrison Ford created a more iconic and world renown team than Abbot and Costello.

Perhaps it’s because the geek in me was fired up when Chewy and Kirk Douglas’s deaths went so unheralded by the news and their own colleagues.

Douglas was part of a time when Hollywood was golden and stars were stars, and the big screen held magic and wonder because movies were played on giant screens instead of an iphone. One escaped into the world of make believe not into the palm of their own hand for escape.

Douglas was a true gentleman and an artist. I met him and I can say that first hand.

Mayhew was part of a franchise so gigantic that only something as huge as the mouse AKA Disney could take over and be trusted to carry on its greatness.

Unfortunately, I should be more surprised than I am by the slight, but in the end I, with all my fellow fans salute two Hollywood greats, along with many others that left the building this year.

The Hollywood sign outside my window is looking just a little rustier and older than before.

No Beverly Hills plastic surgeon can cover the mark they both left on the entertainment world.

RIP Kirk and Chewy, you will never be forgotten.

 

 

 

Meeting an Old Friend for Lunch

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Meeting an Old Friend for Lunch

“In a better world we will find our young years and our old friends Jean Antoine Petit-Senn

Yesterday I met an old friend for lunch. As happens in life Carole Montgomery’s comedy career led her to different states to reside and as time passed and career and raising a family took her back to New York, our daily lives encroached upon our friendship. We stayed in touch through social media and occasional phone calls, but life and time can separate even those with whom one shares a true affinity for fun and a cache of happy memories.
Carole and I became friends during my time as a stand-up comic. Since we both worked in Las Vegas a great deal, she was the opening comic for a show called Crazy Girls at the Riviera and I was a regular at the Improv located in the hotel, we saw each other a lot. We also had much in common sort of, I couldn’t gamble and she knew all about it, so she taught me. She was from New York and incredibly street smart and I was a protected Jewish princess from Detroit. She was calm and cool in a time of chaos, while I was an hysterical crazy person.

Okay, so you’re wondering why we were friends, it was just a no brainer. We liked each other and enjoyed one another’s sense of humor. I thought Carole was hysterical. I laughed out loud at her jokes and respected her guts and fearlessness. She was my female Lenny Bruce. She worked blue and I came off like a Jewish mother. I guess it was the difference in our styles that made it so easy to appreciate each other. Whatever it was we remained in touch and yesterday we met for lunch.

Carole is out in Los Angeles for work and to promote her new Showtime Special More Funny Women of a Certain Age premiering Saturday, March 14th.

It had been as though no time had passed, as is so often the case when old friends meet. Like hearing a favorite old song on the radio that conjures up a treasured memory.

We ordered and then caught up. Being as we only had a lunchtime we prioritized and shared the highest items on our friends-need-to-know-priority list, family, work, future, new goals and projects and tomatoes or tater tots with our omelets. We compromised and shared both.

After saying goodbye I spent a good part of the day recalling life events we’d shared, show business insanity, our kid’s successes and the birth of her son, now of course grown and a force of his own. It seems our children inherited both our determination and senses of humor.

Of course as one ages it becomes apparent that people move in and out of our lives for reasons unknown. Yet, it’s also true that as people move away from us new ones come in.

I must ask why this is so. Why can’t we have everyone in our lives all the time?

Good question, but no answer.

Perhaps there is no room. Can’t say I agree with that one because our hearts are big enough to embrace the entire world. Even though people may physically leave our lives, they don’t leave our hearts.

I realized that fact yesterday over lunch with Carole. Although we’d been apart I still felt that sense of friendship. I wanted her to succeed and help her, although she is doing just great without any help from me.

Whether or not old friends are near or far away we never seem to stop wanting the best for them.

How many times have you heard something regarding a childhood friend and been moved by either joy or sadness at the news?

Friendship is a bond that connects us to one another, but can distance break that bond? Or does it simply stretch like elastic until it can be lax again?

In my experience the evidence is clear. Although we may find ourselves separated from old friends, once the connection is reset the bond is strong.

I’m certain there were times in your life you’ve thought of someone and suddenly wanted to hear their voice. Perhaps an old song, place you visit or picture someone shares on social media conjures up a memory.

It may be over Facebook or other social media, maybe an old-school phone call works best, but whatever the means the outcome is the same. As a result of the outreach we are filled with happy memories and good feelings about wonderful times shared.

I think old friends are a kind of medicine we can easily afford and with no scary side effects.

On a blue day instead of hitting the chocolate maybe a phone call to an old friend might do more to elevate your mood.

If you are remembering someone that has left your life simply pick up a phone and call to say hello or drop a message on Facebook or Instagram. Rekindle a happy time and share joyful thoughts. They may have been thinking of you, too.

Just because life has taken you to new places and experiences doesn’t mean we have to lose the older, good parts of ourselves forever.

Many times there are reasons we must part, but perhaps there are also good reasons to reconnect.

So make two people happy today and reach out to an old friend. It’s a great way to brighten two lives.

 

 

Maj at the Mall

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Maj Jong at the Mall

Every week five friends play maj jong at the mall. The first question from those who hear of our location is, “Where at the mall?”

I answer, “In the food court of course,” and they shake their head nodding it makes sense.

And it does. Aside from the fact it takes Karen ten minutes to find a table that doesn’t wobble, or text us to, then disinfect it we have found the perfect location.

Maj is a total snacks game. There are usually nuts of some kind, m and ms, chocolate gummy bears, (we should never have discovered those), chips, cut up veggies for the diet conscious, drinks, coffee and for the more adventurous even lunch.

So it always falls to the hostess to plan the eats and it can be tedious and a great deal of work.

Problem solved at the mall.

Everyone can eat what they want, drink the best coffees and of course we still sneak in chocolates for those of us with absolutely no self-control.

(I’m raising my hand here but you can’t see it of course.)

Even if I begin the day with a healthy mindset vowing not to eat junk food, a lot can happen to change my resolve before I sit down in front of those tiles. Perhaps the son of a bitch who cut me off in traffic created the need for a handful of m and ms to calm me down. Yes, I’m a chocoholic and I admit it freely.

Yes, it’s well known that will power is not an absolute. One’s need for chocolate can change in a millisecond depending on circumstances. Is this a good hair day or are my locks determined to have a mind of their own? Why does my make up look like I just turned into a raccoon? I know these damn jeans fit yesterday what’s going on here with this muffin top situation?

Get me the damn Sees Candy! Where once Shakespeare advised Ophelia, “Get thee to a nunnery,” I say get thee to Godiva.

The real fun about the mall is the little community that assembles there, and they are quite a cast of characters.

There are always other tables of maj players as well. Now there is even a table of rummicubers.

Next to our usual table is a group of older men from Israel. There are probably ten of them and they eat, talk, tell stories and love to flirt with us. Sometimes they bring baked goods and offer them up to us.

The security guard always stops by to say hello and ask who’s winning then stays to chat.

Of course there is also the assortment of customers that come and go with their various dishes and sometimes screaming children.

Another group comes in after five to have dinner. Among the five o’clockers are Virginia, now 99 and Francis, now 92 along with their male friends that make sure they have what they need. Virginia’s boyfriend bought her a gorgeous watch for Christmas.

The same people show up every week and if someone isn’t there everyone else notices.

After the maj game is over Randi, Deb and I shop for a while and Janet buys dinner to take home. Karen meets her husband Mark for dinner and after shopping we stop by to chat with Virginia and her friends to show off our new purchases before we leave.

It’s rare that we go through a day without a friend of one of ours walking up to the table to say hello. Or people stopping by to ask, what is that game you’re playing.

Obviously we don’t play as many games as we would were we at someone’s home. Nor is it as quiet.

So you ask, if you’re serious maj players why do you play at the mall with all the distractions?

That’s the point. We love the distractions. Okay occasionally it can get a bit raucous at the retired men’s table and yes the screaming kids bother some more than others.

Our maj game has become a highlight of our week. We have not only all become great friends, but we have added so many interesting people to our lives.

We all can’t wait to get there on Fridays to see everyone and hear about one another’s week. What’s the latest news or just saying hello and meeting and greeting everyone?

So thank you for bearing with me because I do have a point here. Malls are dying and that is terribly sad.

In a world where people are watching a techie toy more than each other, the mall is one of the last bastions of community left.

It’s not just that we all enjoy ourselves it’s also about the kids. You see them hanging out, having lunch, talking laughing and interacting with one another. If the mall goes away will kids ever look at anything ever again besides Instagram or have any sense of what if feels like to be part of a community?

Man was not created to be alone. Just like wolves we travel in packs and are happier to do so. Even the Romans gathered together in the coliseum to feed the lions.

The mall offers a place that is completely inter generational and a safe place to gather and share happy moments.

The sad part of what’s occurring is that malls are closing because the stores can’t compete with online business. Yet a mall is so much more and the loss would be incredibly damaging to social interaction.

The day Amazon can provide me with interesting people to meet, greet and play maj with will be a cold day in California. I have to believe that for now maj at the mall will be a safe haven for everyone, for a long time to come.

 

 

 

 

Riding the Guilt Train at a Senior Discount

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Riding the Guilt Train at a Senior Discount

Why do I feel guilty for doing nothing? By doing nothing I don’t mean doing nothing to feel guilty about, I mean nothing in the purest sense of the world.

Like sitting like a couch potato staring at the television and eating a nacho kind of nothing.

I can’t seem to reconcile getting through a day without accomplishing something. I’m not quite certain if it’s my type A personality or just the DNA in my bloodstream from years of Jewish guilt.

Whatever the case I can’t go to bed at night feeling good without knowing what tasks I undertook and succeeded at that day.

So I imagine the question would be: what is an accomplishment?

Aha. There’s the rub, for at various stages of our lives the word task morphs into far different meanings.

When young a task might be doing homework, making your bed or taking out the garbage. We never considered reading a book, playing outside until the streetlights came on or buying a new comic book part of the task category. Those things were the fun things we did, the parts of our lives we felt total control over.

Then we became older and a task was far more defined. In college we did our homework, studied for exams, did philanthropic activities with our sororities and left ourselves time for the fun stuff like catching up with our favorite soap opera, partying, watching Charlie Brown specials and listening to music while we danced around the dorm. There was a definite disconnection between fun and work and we felt the difference as we accomplished both.

Marriage and children brought even more awareness of the lines between pleasure and production although our underlying motivations were slightly blurred.

Changing our baby’s diaper was work yet it was done with love. So there was that, a whole love work conundrum.

Of course housework, carpooling, shopping or cooking were all things a Mom undertook with love and tolerance because our choices to raise our family had been conscious and resolute.

Some of us worked outside the house as well and at times the work felt less like work and more like fun. At least it did for me when I was doing stand-up comedy.

The point to all this is the fact that we were all productive. Our days were filled with responsibilities that needed to be met and loved ones to care for as the days passed quickly by.

At night we didn’t ever wonder, “what did I accomplish today?”

We were too damn tired and our heads were usually swimming with thoughts of what we had to do the next day.

It was a far different time.

And now here we are at a very different point in our lives.

Most of us, and I can’t speak for all of course, but many have chosen to slow life down a bit. Like a horse that used to run races and now sort of wanders about the fields sniffing the clover and munching on hay, and if he’s lucky gets put out to stud occasionally.

Some still have significant others and husbands (I am in no way implying that a husband is not significant here) so we do have another person in our lives to answer to.

However, there are those who do not.

I no longer have to worry about meals. I can eat what I want, when I want.

I work part time at my own pace so I needn’t be so strict about that any longer.

Hmm. So what is there that I absolutely need to do now?

And I am not certain if playing maj jong is considered a task or fun as at times the lines have now completely blurred from simply okay-so-I’m-getting-out-of-bed this morning, to healing the oceans.

I’m brutally honest with myself, I can’t retire as I’d be bored out of my skull with nothing to do. I envy those who can retire, but are they really?

What is retirement?

Does that mean sitting idol all day or perhaps running from doctor appointment to appointment as part of the weekly routine. No, I’m not sure if those visits to the doctor count as work or pleasure. I guess we should invent a new category for that one. Perhaps pain in the butt would be applicable.

Some golf, the healthy ones tennis, swim, play canasta, hang with friends, maj jong, go to the gym, meet friends for lunch, write that screenplay or novel, volunteer for charities, see the grandchildren and all of the many things one can do to fill time.

Although we take on tasks each day, for me it has changed a bit. Where once I could get up in the morning and clean all day, now, I merely take on a chore at a time with even a respite in between.

However, I need to do something, anything to make me feel as if I’ve accomplished something.

For me it is a necessity and I feel incredible guilty if I have ended a day without being productive.

So let’s examine what is considered productive.

Could one consider binge watching the entire season of Mrs. Maisel or Grace and Frankie productive?

Is cleaning a drawer or your closet?

How about writing a blog?

Can I sneak in maj jong under than heading?

Is it perfectly okay to count going to the gym as a positive day?

Case in point: Would you consider sitting in front of the television all day binge watching NCIS productive? I’m not going to argue the benefits of looking at Mark Harmon for eight hours although I can see no downside there. I merely wonder if I should feel guilty because I didn’t invent the cure for cancer instead? Is having a non-productive day and merely enjoying oneself a bad thing? What is truly beneficial as an activity?

As we age shouldn’t we be grateful we are able to function, walk, talk, enjoy our children and grandchildren? Isn’t contentment and gratitude a goal; a benefit of being alive?

Where once we sought more days to spend on pleasurable uses of our time, now we are blessed with scads of it. Is taking advantage of those hours not okay?

Should one feel guilty about simply enjoying doing nothing in particular?

I still have problems justifying 24 hours without producing something, whether it be a blog, a cleaner house, a charitable endeavor or even a new recipe.

So I have found a way around this conundrum.

Each day I find one thing to do that I can feel is going to result in something positive.

So I blog, fix something, work on a project or charity, call a friend, or even just catch up on housework. Then after that I can feel good about my time with Harmon or binge watching Mad Men, which a friend has been urging me to do. So in a way this is very productive because I’m making my friend happy by simply watching the show. Two birds huh?

I once saw Joan Rivers open her date book and point to empty pages and tell the interviewer, “This is what terrifies me.”

Right on Joan, Having nothing to do terrifies me, also.

Yet, there are still those lazy days, but what the heck? I intend to live them guilt free and with no remorse.

At the end of our lives when we are faced with that flashback of our existence on earth will it be the individual moments we see or the totality of our achievements? Our children, grandchildren, the love we gave and received and the loved ones standing beside us to guide us into the next great adventure?

I imagine I won’t care at that moment how many days I just binge watched Netflix or chatted on the phone with a friend in lieu of saving the world. Hopefully I’ll just be grateful for all the moments I spent on this crazy ball spinning in space and sorry to have to leave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Getting Old is Really Getting Old!

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I’m really not one to complain, unless of course, someone is listening.

Okay, so I really need to stop answering my phone.

The other day I learned that two people I know died, one of my best friends in having surgery and the world is coming to an end on January fifth, 2088.

Since the world has ended numerous times in my lifetime that one is not really an issue, but this picking up the phone and finding out people are sick and dying really has to end.

Oh I know there is no way to stop the Grim Reaper. He does know where you are at all times, so I guess he’s the GPS for humanity. And there’s no blocking or turning off his signal.

Once upon a time long ago I actually got out of bed in the morning without stopping three times to check and see why parts of me weren’t cooperating in the effort. Now it’s a slow and painful process. When I actually make contact with the floor, it’s not exactly like a kiss from Prince Charming, and my feet spend at least the next five minutes complaining bitterly until they give up and just settle into a low hum of pain for the rest of the day.

Being from Detroit I know of what I speak. Just like cars are planned for obsolescence so are people. None of us is built to last forever, even if we are built Ford Tough.

Sure, you say, some people are full of piss and vinegar right up till the end, and to that I say bull crap. Even if one cultivates a good attitude toward aging, as we get older we are all just schlepping through life looking for replacement parts as we go.

I now know very few people that are not bionic in some form; new knees, valves, hips, stints,

shoulders and even wrists are as available as a sucked-up, tucked-up blond in a room full of ninety-year-old millionaires.

Dentures have been replaced with implants, hair plugs have it all over toupees and women tattoo their eyebrows on. It’s a world of new tech, new times and new inventions to keep us believing we are not actually aging.

Aha! Don’t be fooled because your body is laughing all the way to the plastic surgeon’s office. “Forget the neck lift,” it is saying. “I have a whole new hip in store for you soon.”

I know women who scotch tape their necks for an instant lift. I am thinking of inventing flesh colored duct tape to hold up my touchas every day. Bet it would sell great.

The newest great invention seems to be adult underwear, aka diapers. Oh sure they’ve disguised them with pretty little designs and flowers, but honey we all know they are Pampers 2.0. I thought that was the nursing home wardrobe. What’s the hurry to start wearing plastic panties? A few flowers and I’m supposed to get excited about this new lingerie? Ooh, I feel sexy.

Even though we look like we’re twenty years younger thanks to Botox, fillers, lifts and medical magic, inside our bodies are decaying faster than Senor Happy tooth in a sea of Godiva chocolate.

So what is there to do to reverse the aging process?

We could call Harry Potter to bring his wand, but I am too far gone for that. Magic can only go so far.

Some hang at the gym and believe they can walk faster than Father Time, thus beating him to the punch. Okay, I’m game.

I’m here at the gym and it’s very foreign to me. I’m not sure what language they’re speaking in this strange new land. Just a minute I can catch one word here, downward dog. Yes, I know that one; it’s a Yoga term. It means squatting like a dog until your toes break off on the mat. I remember even trying that once. Couldn’t walk for a week.

Just a second someone is climbing on a treadmill and wait he’s setting the incline. I thought just walking a straight line was enough of a challenge. Damn the man’s walking up hill. I’m getting heart flutters just watching him. I need to find somewhere to sit.

I feel the duct tape on my ass coming lose and I think I should go into the bathroom to fix it. If it falls off as I’m walking that would be embarrassing. Damn a piece is hanging out from under my shorts. I knew I should have worn spandex. I’ll just wrap the towel around my bottom and walk slowly.

Oy, they’re all looking at me now. Damn that man is cute and now he thinks I’m some kind of freak who walks around with a towel covering my tush.

Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. I think my retail cardio is better. I’m going to the mall and walk around shopping for an hour or two. Who needs this when I can just park a little farther away from the door and burn off those extra calories? Plus, I know the language there better.

Sale, twenty off today, escalator, food court; these are words I can work with and feel comfortable around.

Okay, don’t start writing letters and leaving nasty comments on social media, I know exercise is valuable as one ages, but fun? I don’t think so! If it were designed to be fun it would contain some type of chocolate as part of the process.

I think getting old is difficult because it creeps up on us like a Hari Krishna at the airport. You never see it coming until it’s too late and the wrinkles are there, staring back at you, smirking because they crossed the finish line while you simply blinked.

There is a way to avoid the sight if you stop using the devil’s favorite invention: the magnifying mirror. I’m sure he’s proud of that one. God took pity on us and made our eyesight worse as we get older, thereby not seeing wrinkles. Oh, but the devil said, “what a great opportunity to do evil.” and there you have it. You will notice that a Nobel Prize was never awarded for that invention.

I have never heard one person I know say, “I expected this getting old thing to happen sooner. What took so long?”

Nope, it’s more like, “when the hell did this happen? I never saw it coming. Yesterday I was young and swinging in the backyard with my kids, and now there is some strange, old person staring back at me in the mirror.”

I know we all would rather be here than somewhere else, destination unknown, but the journey always seems so short looking back.

I have no answers except maybe the duct tape if I can perfect it, but I guess we all have to be grateful to be here to complain and check out the new crop of wrinkles. If you find the fountain of youth, send me a map and I’ll pass it along to my readers. Until then, think young, stay young, enjoy life and throw away that damn-magnifying mirror.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Newest Grammy Décor

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Bring on those dirty little hands,

Microfiber is my new hero.

Anyone of a certain age understands life’s close relationship with enormous irony.

One that I recently discovered was the Grandma Décor Dilemma.

Every mother knows when babies become mobile, a serious redecorating effort occurs.

Glass is replace with wood or Formica, all tabletop items are wrapped for storage or placed on higher shelves. A great cover up is afoot to save at least a scintilla of worldly goods.

But now we have microfiber.

Ah microfiber! No, not micro greens, the new word for lettuce scraps on your plate. The new miracle fiber that battles chocolate, peanut better and sandbox residue lurking on adorable, busy, little hands.

A new practically indestructible fabric that resembles suede resists stains and was definitely designed with Grandmas in mind. I am smiling just remembering when my children roamed the house and valuables were secured and safely placed aside in high-placed locked boxes more inaccessible than my youth.

Living with sparseness of design as a Mom, has now been coined minimalist, I believe just to up the price tag.

I recall the tumult of more toys than Santa’s workshop covering my floors, while I dreamed of house beautiful.

Perusing home magazines with a sad sigh, wishing for a time when I could actually consider a white sofa and glass tables was sheer heaven.

A toy-free zone to display my crystal and fine pieces openly and freely far from their storage prisons.

Lalique, Daum, Waterford would dance across my dreams carrying rainbows of champagne and canapés onto regally appointed buffets and glass, cocktail tables.

As the years flew by, and as we know they do fly, my children grew to adulthood.

My new adult child home was filled with white sofas, glass tables and matching towels in the guest bathroom. Ah, all those forbidden fruits of décor.

What fun!

The years passed in a haze of entertaining with “good” china still bearing the flakes of sawdust from the original shipping container, crystal glasses and silver flatware.

I felt like the Queen of England and as strange as it might sound to Meghan Markle, life felt pretty damn good in the royal palace. Paper plates were verboten and I could even hear the sound of fork hitting china when I cut my chicken.

Ah, but then the tide turned once more. Suddenly a new arrival signaled the end of all that opulence. The splendor, the elegance destined to disappear from the landscape once again.

“He” had arrived. My first grandson, the new king and now the palace became all about nothing more than “Him” and what suited “His Highness’s ” needs. Suddenly there were Sesame street plastic dishes and tippee cups, organic cloths and toys, and green smoothies with unknown ingredients that my daughter insisted enhanced life.

The boxes appeared once more. Bubble paper and bubble bursting filled quiet moments between emptying tables and glass shelves filled with delicate chachkees.

Once again my life was filled with toy-filled corners, empty tabletops and baby step stools. Shelves that had once displayed French Limoges, now flaunted frames filled with baby pictures.

Over lunches, my friends and I discussed how to make room for storage cabinets and redo a bedroom with a toddler theme. Discussions of new colors and designs that were the rage in baby world replaced the latest handbag, new boutique opening, vacation spot or Pilate’s injury.

Our iphones overflowed with the latest photos of Halloween costumes, petting zoos and hugging grandma pics.

Cars sported baby car seats and books, toys and hand cleaners were shoved in seat pockets.

Some of my wealthier friends hired designers and muralists to create a special theme. Shimmer and Shine, Paw Patrol, Dora the Explorer and Bubble Guppies were hot. We discussed singing groups like Yo Gabba Gabba recalling how our parents had laughed at our obsession with the Beatles.

Rainbows, dinosaurs and computers were also on board as décor stalwarts.

A new vibe hovered over our regular get togethers as toys, pictures and brilliant baby quotes took center stage. It was toddler town all day every day and we were proud residents reveling in our new roles.

Instead of the latest gallery opening, we exchanged news about children’s exhibits and virtual play areas. New ideas about what to do days we had, “the little angels” were passed around like refills of champagne at a Beverly Hills gala.

We wore the name grandma as proudly as couture and shamelessly bragged and repeated baby stories ad nauseum.

Our computer screen savers were full size pictures of smiling partially, toothed grins that changed with each new development.

It had finally happened—we were grandmas—and our homes had gone from chic to child friendly in a heartbeat.

And strangely enough none of us seemed to mind a bit.

Our priorities had shifted from fabulous to fun and we were happy to forego our designer duds for jeans and sweats for crawling and wrestling when necessary.

I suppose life is ultimately about surrounding yourself with the people you love and yes, that means with the things they love as well.

So, until my grandsons develop a taste for Waterford and other such finery, it shall be unbreakable and easy if you pleasey.

 

 

Driving in L.A. Dating Schmating

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Driving in L.A.—Dating Schmating

What is love? Do we have a soul mate or true love like Wesley and Buttercup, or do we simply blindly stumble through life with our arms open, seeking the “one,” eyes closed and heart vulnerable to all attacks foreign and domestic?

My husband now passed on, once told me we were soul mates. I never probed further to find out why he had drawn that conclusion since at that time we were divorced and he was happily ensconced in the arms of a new girlfriend that seemed like a good fit.

Begs the question were we soul mates? Or if we were than why weren’t we together forever? Isn’t that the meaning of a soul mate, the joining together of two parts of a soul to complete one?

So I imagine that if you don’t meet your true soul mate you are doomed to walk the earth with half of you missing. Although half of married couples would gladly be missing that other half, hence the divorce rate, I still choose to believe in that ancient myth about knowing immediately you have found your other half. Despite the fact I have been wrong on too many occasions, I remain a hopeful romantic.

Dating in what is laughingly referred to as the golden years is not for the faint of heart. There are few opportunities to meet a significant other save for dating sites or hobbies. Perhaps through a fix up by friends or just randomly minding your business and like in the movies you run into a building out of the rain, your eyes meet and you instantly know that’s it, they are the one and you live happily ever after.

Of course no one tells you that on your wedding night your husband drops his pants and leaves them lying on that floor for the next fifty years. Oh I’m sorry, am I corrupting the fairy-tale ending? I often wondered when Cinderella rode off with her prince; did he snore, pick his nose in public or hold the covers over her head when he farted in bed? Guess they left that part of the story out.

There have been moments when I was swept away by the notion of a soul mate. Not for the obvious reasons of a glorious exciting affair dancing through Paris at night in a montage of starlit skies and clinking wine glasses. No, because of the fact it seems it would be so damn easy!

Being of a certain age I have little patience for the so- tell-me-about-yourself bull crap that has become a necessity for getting to know someone. Then you must figure out if they are dating three other women besides you, if they are lying about their age, are after your money, a serial killer or whatever other horror stories one hears every day. If you knew right away you were soul mates how easy is that?

Okay, let’s forego all the other junk, get married or be a couple and move forward.

Easy peasey and made for the lazy at love.

I imagine that’s why many people hook up at class reunions because it’s so easy. Whew I don’t have to ask you a single question cause I know everything about you. My Aunt Marcia played bridge with your cousin Sue and I’ve heard all about you; simple yet effective.

But what if you have a soul mate and he’s a serial killer or drug addict or thinks monogamy is a dirty word?

If this man is your destiny or perhaps a lesson you are here to learn then is there a way to say, no thanks I’ll pass?

Or is everyone who comes into your life in a meaningful way actually your destiny? If we are here to learn lessons as so many believe, then a soul mate can be a real nightmare if there is a lesson to be learned from living with or loving them.

Wouldn’t life just be easier if could just use an x-ray machine on every man we went out with to see what’s going on inside his head?

Or perhaps a lie detector test would be appropriate on a first date?

You say your ex wife was a nightmare? Oops lines off the charts.

Okay, so you say you never would cheat on a woman. Lines again.

Uh Huh and you never take drugs. Running out of paper here.

So you are very wealthy and need no one’s money. Oops running out of ink here, guess that one is off the charts as well.

You spent how much time in prison??

That would be a short first date, but a productive one.

The trouble with the process is that one never learns these truths until it’s way too late.

Although it’s true some men are up front about their shortcomings because, believe it or not, they have no remorse for their misdeeds.

I actually went out for coffee with a man who’d been arrested and charged for swindling people in the penny stock scandal of the nineties.

He complained bitterly about how the government had taken away all his toys, money and other goodies.

I asked, “ What about all those people whose pensions and savings you destroyed and stole?”

“Shit happens,” he responded unapologetically. End of date.

I, as most others, would like to believe that a soul mate has to be the perfect person for us. But what does that really mean?

Maybe we’re far too trusting and we need a man to wake us up to stop our romanticizing everyone we fall for. So that soul mate may be someone who ultimately comes into our life to hurt us…in a good way of course. But can being hurt be good?

There is an expression I have heard countless times…You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you meet Prince Charming.

Well I assume that many of you, as I am, are covered with so many warts we have to wear long-sleeved shirts all year long.

And if that is true when is enough enough?

Are there a set number of frogs we must endure before achieving love nirvana? Who decides that amount? Is it ultimately up to us to decide when we’ve had our fill of warts?

I am a firm believer in two very crucial elements to this puzzle.

One: some people are just born smarter than others on this subject. They seem to know at an early age what they are seeking and ultimately need to make them happy.

And two: there is luck involved here as well. But I do concede that part of that luck could be attached to the smarts part of the equation.

Yes, I admit some people take longer to learn lessons than others. As my daughter has pointed put on numerous occasions, “Mother, lessons not learned will be repeated.”

And as an aside, yes we all want our children to be smarter than us, but it does come back to bite you in the ass sometimes does it not?

Anyway I digress. So what can we do to ensure we can get smarter and thereby luckier where love is concerned?

Perhaps it helps to reexamine a problem with a fresh perspective.

If you are always attracted to a certain type of man, maybe changing things up might work in one’s favor.

I am a sucker for a sense of humor in a man, but I always found after the laughter stopped the crying commenced.

So maybe someone sullen and serious is the ticket. I’ll do the jokes here, thank you.

Of course I have no idea if I could survive a man without humor, so that might not be the answer.

I guess what I’m ultimately saying is that there is no answer.

I suppose you must go with your gut and hope for the best. Perhaps we also need to understand that as we grow and change so does what we need in another person to make us happy. Then begs the question, shouldn’t we already be happy within ourselves and not look for someone else to complete us?

Dating at any age is brutal and the older you get the more set in your ways you become.
If true love is in your future I applaud you and I am one who believes the more love you have the better life is.

Good luck with finding Mr. Right to enhance and add more happiness to your life.

I will spend my time creating and building that frog-revealing lie detector machine. I’ll let you know when I’m ready to take orders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resolving to Remember Sara Lee

 

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Resolving to Remember Sara Lee

With the New Year comes resolutions. Yes, we all make them whether silently or out loud they creep into our mind with the stealth ability of a Russian spy satellite. And they are there, embedded into our psyche lurking and smirking while we valiantly attempt to live up to our goals.

Good luck with that one.

Talk about setting oneself up for failure. Of course we all wax nostalgic at this time and, of course, the smartest resolution would be to break all your New Year’s resolutions, thereby setting oneself up for achievable success.

How do you keep a resolution? If you ask most people, they don’t.

Because of all the craziness of the last year, one might ponder the best way to ease into 2020. A new decade filled with new hope, but for what? How easy does life get when one finally realizes that the force Obi Won wished would be with you is gravity, and it is no friend to anyone over the age of 35.

The passing of time, thankfully, usually goes unnoticed. Most people mark the passage of years with key events in their lives. A wedding, baptism, Bar Mitzvah, divorce.

Yet looking back, it’s sometimes the small things we remember most: a smile from someone we love, a first kiss, the first time our baby writes on the walls with a marker, the first insult from our mother-in-law.

If it’s true we don’t realize what we’ve lost until it’s gone and never wake up until it’s too late, this may be a good time to take stock of what’s important, what makes us happy. Things we have previously taken for granted, like privacy. Hold on, I have to re-tape the front of my computer because they, whoever they are, are watching.

Okay, I’m back.

Taking for granted the friends who are there for us through bad times is a normal human characteristic; some more than others are guilty of this transgression. Perhaps a good resolution would be to just love and appreciate the people in our life who make it better and eliminate the toxic energy.

Oops, just a second, there is a drone outside my window and I need to close the blinds. That’s better.

It used to be automatic to just reach into the freezer at the grocery store and toss the Sara Lee Brownies into my basket. I never thought much about the process. (We all do it—hoping no one notices that you are buying something fattening when you should be dieting.)

Once home, the brownies were always perfectly melted, ready to open and scrape the chocolate off the lid.

You’d cut a small square, but sometimes you found yourself cutting too deeply and making a slit in the aluminum tray. No problem, they never leaked through once back in the freezer.

So many memories, so many bad moments, so many broken things Sara Lee fixed.

She was always there.

Those chocolate brownies existed for a reason; they served a purpose and worked. They comforted and caressed each weary problem with a chocolate snuggle.

I can’t remember the exact moment I reached into my grocer’s freezer to grab a tray and they were gone. Maybe they’re out of them, I thought. I’ll try next time.

I searched the store for a substitute.

There was none.

How could this be happening?

The next week I tried again.

Not there.

A week later a different store.

No Sara.

I was filled with a sinking feeling, an inkling of doom that perhaps something bad had happened. Yet it was true.

No more Sara Lee Frozen Brownies.

No more help for a bad day, PMS, tight jeans or a haircut from hell. No chocolaty friend to comfort me in my time of cocoa need. No brownie shoulder to cry on.

I hadn’t appreciated what I had and now it was gone.

The thought still plagues me that perhaps more than Sara Lee Brownies have slipped out of my life.

What else have I missed? What other treasures have escaped my notice while I wasn’t looking?

Where am I most of the time? Where are we all? What are we paying attention to anyway?

What’s that? Oh my Lord, a pop up just jumped up on screen with a picture of a blouse I looked at online a week ago. “Get thee gone, Google!”

Okay I’m back, so if Sara came back, would I appreciate her now? Can any of these questions ever be answered?

Probably not, so I’ll just move on.

New Year is always a time to look back and take stock of what was, and plan for what may be.

How to best do this is a great feat and yet I shall attempt to do so.

I will strive to:

Start off the year happy. Make resolutions that are easily doable and resolve to be nicer to me and everyone else.

We all make mistakes; I have a list longer than Harvey Weinstein’s victims. Next time I want to beat myself up, I’ll remember there are enough people waiting in line to do it for me. Call someone to beat you up and there is always someone to oblige.

So how do we make it a great year, even without Sara Lee?

I’m going to download a favorite song from high school or college then play it in the car extra loud with the window down.

Reinvent myself. This is something so easy for a woman to do. A new hairstyle or color, a new lipstick, nail polish or new Spanx and I’m good to go.

Men well, not much to do there, but the proverbial new red sports car is still a good choice.

I won’t resolve to lose or gain weight! Pressure is the worst thing for diets. I have embraced what I call retail cardio. I go to the mall and walk around shopping for hours.

Great exercise and it’s fun. I don’t even realize I’m moving around and doing something healthy.

I’ll call someone with whom I’ve lost touch and wish them a ‘Happy New Year.’

I imagine it’s a good thing to take stock of the things that aren’t as I’d want them to be. If there are changes that need to be made in a job, home, appearance or relationships, make the changes. Nothing has to move in an instant; change does take time so I’ll have to practice patience.

Know the difference between what can and cannot be changed and find a way to deal with what cannot. That’s a toughie for sure.

Start each day with ten minutes for myself. Do yoga, meditate, pray, listen to a favorite song, have a special blend of coffee, but start each day on a positive note.

I always try to combine unpleasant or tedious routine chores with favorite things. While paying bills, I play a favorite CD or watch a favorite movie.

“What’s that SIRI? No, I don’t want to make a call right now!”

I shall attempt to eat one—only one—forbidden food a week and once a week won’t play havoc with my diet.

I’ll save a five dollars a week and at Christmas time buy some toys for needy children with the money.

I will compliment strangers, because they may be having a bad day and kind words may be just what they need to feel better.

Maybe a new hobby; it’s relaxing. Take up painting…what if Picasso had put things off this long?

I’ll buy beads and make that amazing necklace I’ve been dreaming about.

Eat more chocolate and try a new dessert recipe.

Resolve to see the glass ‘half full.’ Negative thoughts breed negative results. Life shouldn’t be such a battle. I’ll lay back and let life happen sometimes. The earth will revolve without me controlling it each second.

There is a lesson to be learned from the demise of Sara Lee Brownies. This year I’m stocking my freezer with Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia.

I must promise myself to appreciate the people I love and care about, before they too are taken off the supermarket shelves.

Just a minute, Alexa wants to tell me something. “Excuse me! I do not look especially bloated today.”

Sorry everyone, but I have to make a trip to the garbage to throw something away so have a fabulous new year.

“Come to Momma, Alexa, I just want to take you on a little trip…”

A very happy and healthy New Year and new decade, everyone!

 

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Driving in L.A.— Kobe’s Death

 

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Driving in L.A.: Kobe’s Death

As I was attempting to drive in Los Angeles this morning while cars refused to let me turn, blocked intersections, cut me off, or refused to acknowledge when I let them cut in front of me, and everyone sped through traffic like they were a brain surgeon with a patient lying waiting on an operating table, I was taken by the amount of coverage about the terrible and untimely death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna. As a writer I turn to my words to express my feelings in response to tragedy and I am grateful to share them with you.

It struck me that when a celebrity dies, especially young ones, there are two kinds of grief, public and personal. Most of us only experience personal grief when we pass away. Our demise is shared with family and friends who hopefully will mourn our death and passing from this world with sadness and a sense of loss.

Yet when a celebrity dies, his or her family and friends must share their pain with the entire world.

I wondered if that enormous outpouring of grief affects a family’s ability to deal with tragedy.

There are many who believe prayer sends out energy into the world. Healing thoughts and prayers actually make a difference to the mourners and enhance their strength through the difficult process of losing a loved one. Or in Kobe’s family two loved ones. Is their healing magnified by the energy from all the prayers, or is it perhaps the same for everyone whether they have millions of prayers coming toward them or even one.

What is the power of prayer and how does it increase exponentially by numbers?

I’m not a member of the clergy or a faith healer so I can only go by my own personal experience.

I do believe that in a celebrity death the process is helped by the community prayers and healing in the form of shared pain.

I shall use as an example the death of John F. Kennedy since that is the most public grief I have ever witnessed in my lifetime and personally affected me so greatly.

How did Americans and the world deal with Kennedy’s death?

We sobbed, we watched the television and cried even more as we witnessed his family’s grief. I don’t believe I will ever be affected by any public grieving as much as the sight of John F. Kennedy Junior saluting as his father’s coffin passed. If there is a definition in Webster’s for heart wrenching I’d say it was John John, an image of that week which every American will forever carry in their memories.

The grief I felt couldn’t be dissipated due to the countless times his death was replayed on TV screens, in photographs and countless conversations with everyone and anyone.

Even to this day I still tear up whenever November 23rd nears, remembering vividly that day, that moment when Walter Cronkite, removing his glasses unsuccessfully fought back tears while making the historical announcement. Anyone of my generation can tell you with pinpoint accuracy where they were when it happened and how they felt.

Of course a presidential assassination is quite different from other celebrity deaths.

Most of us do however recall hearing the bad news of a high-profile death.

When John Lennon was killed, John John, Princess Diana, Ronald Reagan was shot, Frank Sinatra succumbed to a heart attack or even when Elvis Presley or Michael Jackson succumbed to their addictions.

Does public grieving help heal or is it merely a shared pain with others and does nothing to minimize one’s own? Watching William and Harry following their mother’s casket at the funeral was a painful sight, yet it was her sons that have lived without their mother and obviously in light of recent events, still suffer the pain. I’d like to believe that the outpouring of prayer for them helped at that moment, at least a bit.

In most religions there are mourning periods to help the family process the loss before returning to their lives. I imagine therein lies the difference. While there is always some comfort in the communal sharing of pain and grief, when the mourning period is over it is only the family and closest friends that are left to deal with the gaping hole in their existence.

As his many fans and friends mourn Kobe’s death still it is his family that must live the day-to-day moments without him and his daughter.

It was Jackie Kennedy, her children and the Kennedy clan that were reminded moment to moment of his loss. Yes the American people mourned him, but we went on with our lives and daily routines, sadder, but still carrying out business as usual while his family could not.

I don’t pretend to be an expert at understanding grief, I only know that it is a great equalizer in the human condition; one of the emotions that transcends culture, religion or gender. A broken heart has no color, political bias or religious affiliation, and reacts to pain exactly the same in every human, unless of course they are seriously mentally flawed.

I try valiantly to avoid involving myself in politics for I am quite aware that today’s enemy is tomorrow’s best buddy and the winds of affiliation shift with the frequency of a Kardashian husband. Yet, if Kobe’s death brings one point home it is this…in times of pain and suffering it is our fellow human beings we turn to for comfort, and perhaps we must keep that reality in mind when living our everyday lives.

Not in a preachy way, but I am so aware living in a city like L.A. so misnamed as the city of angels, that we need to smile more at strangers, say thank you when someone lets us cut into traffic and speak nicely to people who pass through our lives each day. A kind word or compliment to a someone can go a long way to brightening a day.  I try to silently repeat to myself at least twice a day, I am grateful for all I have and especially for the people in my life.

If we live each moment as though it were to be the last this would be a more loving and giving world. These are thoughts shared over and over by almost everyone, yet seem too quickly forgotten,

I have always believed the grim reaper has the largest Rolodex in the universe and when it’s your time to leave he knows where to find you.

I hope for all of you that when he does, he will find you smiling and with a heart filled with love.

Rest in peace Kobe, Gianna and all of those who’ve left loved ones behind. Perhaps we can best honor the dead, by embracing and revering all the good in life.

 

 

 

 

 

Driving in L.A.

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                                             Driving in L.A.

 

 

Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”   Sun Tzu

 

Yes, life is a battleground. Or is it love? Actually I’d say both. I’m originally from Detroit and tough is part of what I am and why I have fought so hard to overcome the numerous obstacles we all find in our way when we are seeking another road to travel. Being born in Los Angeles is almost a handicap of sorts since it is a land of suspended reality.

But on to new roads that seem fraught with unknown debris and challenges, that at times seem almost insurmountable. And I suppose that is the point of it all, to move forward and slay greater and more illustrious and star-studded dragons.

In Detroit we build them Ford tough. It was never mandated in the charter of course, but for some reason in the DNA of Detroiters there exists a piece of its history. The toughness that created an industry that moves the world. Hard work innovation and steely resolve is what floated in the air and seeped into each of us.

There are days I wonder if even a great and wise warrior like Sun Tsu could navigate the streets of LA.

Sure the saying goes if you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere, yet I have come to believe New York is a city of pussies when compared to Los Angeles.

Navigating Lalaland is a metaphor for overcoming the trials and tribulations of life. The roadblocks, sinkholes, sheer volume of traffic preventing you from reaching your appointed destination, perfectly describes what we all face each day. Yet L.A. magnifies all the craziness that is the human condition, the joy, struggles, pain, passion and heartbreak. Driving in L.A. is an exercise is sheer determination and one that requires a strength and humor beyond human endurance.

So why you ask do I brag about my Motown roots? Selfishly I am sick and tired of telling people I am from Detroit and having them look at me like I’m about to pull a gun on them.

Of course we all look fondly back on our childhood homes and a part of us wants to run back and hide under our bed to make the world disappear. It seemed safe and cozy when we were young and even for a short time, innocent. So I imagine it’s the temptation to return to that time before we knew what life was really about and how badly we could be hurt that draws us home.

The mislabeling gods are hard at work trying to convince us that there is something called the golden years. This is a time in our lives when we’re supposed to be able to reap the benefits of a life long lived to relax and enjoy. But is simply filling our days living? Is it enough to keep busy finding ways to occupy our life and is filling our days equal to filling our potential.

Of course there are many among us of a certain age that would argue that they are happy indeed simply filling their days as they choose. Playing golf, taking wine classes, maj jonging, bridging or mall walking and lunching with friends. So many women in their golden years are alone now and many many by choice I might add, that the filling of days are far different from my mother’s generation.

I had always supposed the golden years would be spent in Boca where Jews once went to die while happily decorating the condo, fighting with the condo board and schlepping to early bird specials and out with friends.

But are the best-laid plans actually the best plans after all? Are the different parts of life the same for everyone and if we could choose a certain life does that necessarily mean it will come to pass?

When I was a child it seemed plans were easier to carry out. I saw my parent’s generation plan for retirement and achieve their vision. There was far less divorce, and widows and single women seemed to pair up with perfectly acceptable husbands in a very rapid time span so most weren’t alone for long. Today it is quite different. My single friends are still single. Cruises are filled with groups of friends traveling together and enjoying their freedom.

I suppose that begs the question what is freedom and is it good for everyone?

Because of the Feminist Movement it is now acceptable to travel alone, dine alone and generally live your life as you choose. Single women are not cast upon suspiciously as they once were and I will be the first to say I applaud the change.

Dating sites are filled with men and women who pretend to be looking for love, but are they really? Or are they simply trying to fulfill some ancient mating ritual that has outlived its usefulness. Men on these sites are like butterflies that flitter from one woman to another when a brighter one catches their eye.

When I first moved to L.A. a woman I met in a consignment store while I perused a divine pair of earrings said she would absolutely not become a nurse or a purse for any man.

At the time being naïve I wondered, are these the only two choices a single woman has? The options seemed as limited as the train schedule from Detroit to Cleveland

Is being alone as scary as our mother’s believed or is freedom actually preferable”

In this new age is a woman foolish to want to be unbound and free to choose how to spend her own time?

Is it ironic that in a time when the world is totally unsafe and scarier than ever women choose to plod about it by themselves? And if the old feeling of being protected by a man is truly archaic than what caused such a seismic shift in our golden year choices?

Navigating through life is much the same as sitting in the car with a husband that will not consult a map. Frustrating as hell as I recall, torn between winding up in some frightening deliverance scenario on an uncharted back road or becoming a nag of gargantuan proportions as you watch the road become more deserted and the gas tank move ever closer to empty.

Is it important to share your life with someone if that life is an unhappy one? Are too many women willing to give up too much of themselves to be with a man and if so is this a new phenomenon?

Questions, questions, questions. Is part of being a liberated woman the freedom to ask the questions our mothers never would or could?

Am I enough for myself or do I need a man to complete me?

Will my life be lonelier and emptier without my husband?

Can I live a rich full life alone or is it some ancient human instinct to bond and be part of a pair?

Adam and Eve I guess. After all weren’t they the first evidence of the fact that marriage is nothing if not compromise? Even after she opened the door to Mr. Snake and got them thrown out of paradise, Adam was willing to stick, although there were obvious perks for him in that arrangement.

Is it easier to compromise when we’re young and still believe we have all the time in the world to make things perfect and right? Or as we get older do we more readily accept the fact compromise in a marriage or relationship is as rare as a supermodel downing a giant helping of bread pudding?

If as Kris Kristofferson says “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose, is it actually so much more to gain?

And what the hell does “Me Too” mean anyway? It’s truly a belittling phrase. It implies that someone comes before you and you are nothing more than a hanger on or Johnny-come-lately to the party. Much like a girl screaming at her big sister to take her along on a play date. Me Too! What genius concocted that one?

My generation called ourselves feminists and burned our bras. Well I confess I couldn’t burn mine because with my breasts I would have kicked myself to death. But I digress. Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to say, Me First?

I have wrestled with the whole should I shouldn’t I become a part of a set again for years and as close as I’ve come to answering yes to that question something inside says run at the prospect. I’m not certain if that’s me, or just the new Los Angeles part in me talking, but I know it’s much easier here to be single. I can’t say how I’d feel if I lived somewhere else, but I don’t, so I needn’t worry about it. For the time being this girl is on her own and loving it.

And as Frankie Lyman once sang…why do fools fall in love? Sorry but you’re on your own for that one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potential is a Dirty Word

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 “Potential is a flower that must be watered with dissent to ensure strength, cultivated with civility to create a peaceful air in which to grow, and nurtured by a mutual love and excitement about its ultimate bloom.”

Someone made a comment to me recently about John Kennedy that made me think. He said that because Kennedy died we never got the chance to know if he would have been a great president and lived up to his potential.

I was a bit caught off guard I admit since I had always assumed there would never be any dispute about this fact. Wasn’t Kennedy a great president? Wasn’t he a legend, an icon a never-to-be-forgotten figure in history? And what is potential really?

My bad. I’m afraid in this new world we make the mistake of constantly assuming that what was; is.

The paradigms of the twentieth century no longer apply to a new and frankly frightening reality we face today. Potential is what you believe someone or something can ultimately be. But if one isn’t allowed to cultivate their potential can they ever achieve that goal?

In my youth education was pursued as a multi- dimensional agenda. It wasn’t enough to just know your multiplication tables, or that Shakespeare was English and he wrote a bunch of plays or that Russia was filled with bad people that were hard at work building bombs to destroy Americans. Okay, well I guess some things haven’t changed all that much, except now they are delivering their bombs on social media.

However, when I say we learned, we didn’t just learn what was in front of us. We were taught to cultivate a natural curiosity about a subject. What was later defined as the E quotient or ability of one to “get by” in the world using their emotions and street smarts. I argue both are equally necessary and one without the other is not a well-rounded intelligence.

For example, I loved to watch old movies as a kid. Couldn’t get enough of Bogie, Flynn, Power, Elizabeth Taylor or anything with Jean Arthur and Jimmy Stewart. I need not mention Cary Grant, Fred and Ginger and the kings of comedy.

It wasn’t about watching the movies, but about education.

I learned about humor from the Chaplains, the Mel Brooks and the Neil Simons. And oh those Marx Brothers.

I learned about British history from movies about the Queen or prime ministers. My education about the filthy corrupt world of politics came through watching Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and nothing has changed since then. Except that politics is even more disgusting now.

So everything was educational, and the reach expanded greatly through every experience, every movie or wonderful novel. I traveled to India and Paris with Larry Darrel in Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge and to wonderland with Alice then to the scary future with George Orwell’s 1984, a present far worse than anything Orwell could have dreamed. And yes SIRI I’m talking about you and no I don’t need directions and it’s none of your business who I’m talking to right now.

I went to the moon and the center of the earth with Jules Verne and traveled extensively through time and space while never leaving my chair. I knew and understood that one must be knowledgeable about the world and all things within or beyond to be a fully formed human being. I learned about the beauty of life and the human spirit in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol or Mr. Deeds Goes to Town or It’s A Wonderful Life, which also showed how angels got their wings. Go Clarence!

Today’s youth is not focused on being well rounded, but debt free. They seek to avoid paying for an education which is sorely lacking in its scope and breadth and being taught within the vacuum of ideology. Where debate is a dirty word and those with whom one disagrees should not be debated but silenced. Safe zones? Are you kidding me? There is nothing safe about thwarting freedom of speech. Can you say Facism?

And yes, it’s having an effect on the intelligence level of our young people. The other day I called Verizon to extend my plan to include my trip to Israel. When I told the girl helping me I would be making and receiving calls in Israel her question was, where is Israel?

After the shock wore off I said, in the Middle East, hoping she would have heard of that location.

“Oh yes,” she said. “Here it is; I had it spelled wrong.”

Hard to get happy and optimistic about the future after that conversation.

I felt I was living inside a Jay Leno man on the street gag where no one could recognize a picture of Einstein or the vice president.

Good thing Lincoln is on the penny or no one would remember him. Oops, I forgot no one uses pennies anymore. Sorry Abe.

So what has this to do with potential you ask?

I suppose it has to do with the fact one cannot grow and evolve as a human being without education. Not merely the knowledge we glean from a book, but what we see in the world and learn from others.

Books and movies can lie, media can cherry pick facts to report to align with their intended message and if one only listens to and speaks with those with the same point of view they will become one dimensional and rigid. No society can succeed without debate. No child can become educated after being brainwashed with political agendas and propaganda.

Where are the Hitler youth today? Oh yes I forgot South America. Probably running Venezuela.

Children must be taught compassion, open mindedness and a healthy skepticism about what they are told. They should be excited to see a movie or read a book and be filled with questions about the subject. They should be encouraged to read articles and papers by those with whom they both agree and disagree.

A long time ago in another galaxy far far away, two men, Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley used to debate on television shows while I sat riveted. These two men were light years away in their politics, but they sat together and argued despite the fact they neither agreed nor liked one another.

What did I learn from this? That it is okay to disagree because most times the best answers are found in the middle. Also, that two people can have a peaceful discourse over ideas and not resort to name calling and lies or storm out of the room.

What is the potential for our young people today if they spend their lives glued to social media, read and listen to only what their like-minded friends say and think, and take what the insane Hollywood propaganda machine spits out for them to watch as gospel?

Potential is a flower that must be watered with dissent to ensure strength, cultivated with civility to create a peaceful air in which to grow and nurtured by a mutual love and excitement about its ultimate bloom.

This method creates the most beautiful gardens and mankind is sadly withering under the weight of hatred and anger. No beauty can be born out of such oppressive conditions. Living is the greatest education. What the Existentialists find most objectionable is when someone or some society tries to impose or demand that their beliefs, values, or rules be faithfully accepted and obeyed. I must concur. Society must stop trying so desperately and aggressively to impose one’s will on others. We should all agree and disagree just a bit to keep it interesting.

The potential for mankind is looking glum, but it’s not too late to achieve higher greatness if we change the water and fertilizer we use for our seedlings. If you need more manure, just look to Congress. The supply there is unlimited.

 

Spinach Pie

1 cup of crumbled feta cheese

2 cups of ricotta cheese

2 cups of chopped Spinach, fresh or frozen (if frozen squeeze out all water.

1 egg

1 teaspoon of Greek Seasoning

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup of Parmesan Cheese

¼ cup of Mozzarella Cheese

1 pkg filo dough

Preheat oven to 350

Mix together cheeses and spinach.

Lightly beat egg and add to cheese mixture

Season and mix all together

Layer buttered filo sheets half on bottom. Add mixture and layer on top with the rest of the filo.

I have given you the vegetarian recipe, but if you would like to add ground lamb the recipe is great also. Just add 1/3/ cup of cooked ground lamb seasoned with salt and pepper to stuffing mixture.

 

 

 

 

What is a Holiday if not Bittersweet?

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As a child waiting for the holidays seemed endless. Watching the cooking, cleaning and preparations were always such a thrill and it created a kind of ambiance in the home that lingered there like the smell of an apple pie in the oven as it bubbles and browns.

The table would be filled with family, sometimes friends and always a cornucopia of great food to eat and enjoy with out anyone monitoring how many helpings of dessert or whipped potatoes you downed.

When I got married and was suddenly the one in charge of the festivities, it became different. Oh of course there was still that vibe of expectancy in the air, but now it was suddenly me who must provide the food and create the holiday. Now a new dimension was added to the soup…stress. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, gift wrapping and counting chairs and table settings gave me something new to focus on beside the previous, “oh boy Mom’s making my favorite potatoes this year.” And yes in case you noticed, potatoes are a running theme throughout this tome for good reasons.

Most holidays I shared phone conversation and recipes with my friend Marcia as we stuffed the fridge with numerous holiday favorites we made year after year and had become as much a part of the ritual as the actual holiday itself.

Yes, it was joyous, happy and laced with the added responsibility of shopping, cooking and all the other tasks involved in preparing a dinner. I embraced it totally and reveled in every moment I spent ensuring a delicious and gut-busting meal was on that table.

The food was a big part of the entire holiday preparation agenda. There were also presents to buy, new clothes, carrying extra chairs up from the basement and reminding my husband ten times to get the good silver down from the top of the closet.

All of these yearly rituals marked the beginning of what was hoped would be a joyous day with family.

And truth be told, no matter how hard one tried it didn’t always turn out as planned. Yet in retrospective all the memories gleaned from these moments are now a priceless photo in the album of one’s life.

Sadly, looking back on past holidays fills one with a sense of bittersweet sadness that can so easily cloud the spirit of the present.

Looking at the present table, although filled with joy at seeing my children and grandchildren, there is a deep sadness that so many chairs are empty now. Yet this is a part of life that sadly seeps into the holiday spirit. I have learned the only way to ensure a joyous occasion is to focus solely on those who are there and wipe out memories that threaten to impede on any joy.

But is this what we are truly supposed to feel?

Shouldn’t we use a holiday to remember and call up those who are no longer with us? Is this the right moment to unleash memories or should they be saved for another time?

It makes one wonder what is exactly the right balance in these situations.

I myself have had a difficult time. I strive to live in the present and extract every bit of happiness from the moment and then I suddenly find a memory creeping in as I see the brisket or a honey cake the way a favorite aunt made it, or any one of a thousand childhood memories.

I’ve come to the conclusion holidays are the very essence of bittersweet. As we go through our lives everyday the business and demands of our routine often leave little time for reminiscing. Perhaps that is why the holidays allow us to stop and savor the present, albeit tinged with hints of memory perhaps designed to include those now gone. Bittersweet as it is and always will be there is something very special about allowing the past to join the table, to fill a seat once more. Not to sadden the present or create new memories, but to ensure the old ones are never forgotten. If there is an afterlife, I would like to believe when they pass the potatoes I’ll be sitting at the table with my family once more and enjoying a second helping as well, with the added benefit of no calories!

Happy holidays to everyone and enjoy all the happy moments!

 

 

 

The Beatles Never Made Me Cry… Until Now

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The Beatles Never Made Me Cry. Until Now

The Beatles never made me cry. Until now.

I was not one of those screaming teens sobbing and beating their chest when the Fab Four performed their magic. Oh of course I sang danced and acted like someone on massive amounts of caffeine, but cry no.

I thought Eleanor Rigby was a sad song. What the hell did I know? I was a kid, merely in my teens when they hit the big time and took over the music world. I knew nothing because I hadn’t lived.

Now I see the song for what it is, true poetry. Sad, poignant and frighteningly true.

I am not a teen any longer; in fact so far from it I’d need a telescope to view my teens years again, so now I get it.

My question is, how did they?

The Beatles were young when they wrote their songs. How did they understand old age, loneliness and death?

Yes, I know John had the soul of a true artist. I still have his first book, but to understand the sadness that comes with the end of a lifetime, truly remarkable. I guess Paul was not just another pretty face because

I can’t listen to yesterday without crying now, but I imagine when you own so many yesterdays, you see things differently.

This is not intended as a mushy love letter by a star-struck fan, but a quiet revelation, like noticing a crocus on a warm spring day.

The new movie about them, Yesterday, speaks to their music and is less about them as to what they bestowed on the world. One can cast if off as a fun evening at the movies, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a reminder of genius, quality, poetry, and of a contribution to mankind that is always underestimated by those who undervalue the power of music and the arts. Perhaps too many of us need the reminding.

Of course the charisma of the Beatles can never be brought back without them as the carriers. We watch an award show when Sir Paul or Sir Ringo are marched out to receive a lifetime achievement award and there is the obligatory standing ovation. But the mystique, the energy, the grace that made them who and what they were can never be recaptured.

Their music is their legacy. Words like “all the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong” or “yesterday all my troubles seem so far away,” or “let it be,” or George Harrison’s love song to God, “My Sweet Lord,” even his uplifting “Here comes the sun,” filled with a hope and innocence we all wish we could recapture.

The beauty of the Beatles songs is they are uncomplicated and pure. There is no small talk, no complex meaning, just truth. It is life, truth and the human condition set to music.

And the world loved it. There is a reason why everyone everywhere craved more and was so touched by the depth of their message.

They reached other human beings in a way that was instant and universal.

Yes, I was a fan, but now I’m much more. I hear their music the way I view a Monet or a Picasso, or hear Bach. Perfect and complete.

And now I must go listen to “Dr. Pepper” while I clean the house, hopefully it will energize me some.

White Chocolate Peppermint Mandelcotti (Okay, so I made up the word

A mandel bread/biscotti Christmas and Chanukah recipe A Share the love special!

1 cup canola oil

1 cup sugar

3 1/4 cups flour

3 eggs

1 heaping teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon of peppermint extract

1 cup white chocolate

½ cup very finely chopped peppermint candy for inside recipe

¼ to ½ cup finely chopped peppermint for the topping

1 cup melted white chocolate for drizzling on top of cookies

 

Place oil and sugar in mixing bowl and mix well. Add eggs and mix until well until incorporated. Add extracts and mix.

Add baking powder and salt to flour and mix through

 

Add flour to wet ingredients in ¼ cups until done. Check for consistency. If dough is too wet add small amounts of flour until the dough has some body and isn’t loose.

Add white chocolate and peppermint and mix through.

Divide dough into four parts and form them into long rolls and place them on parchment paper.

Bake in 350 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes and check for doneness.

They will probably crack and be light brown on edges when done

Lower oven to 200 degrees

Let cookies sit for five minutes and cut into slanted slices. Separate them and place on baking sheet and bake until they are toasty to the touch, the longer in the oven the crunchier they will be so it’s a matter of taste. I like them to have a bit of softness left inside.

Let cool and melt chocolate.

Drizzle over cookies and then top with crushed peppermint while chocolate is still melty.

To give it a more holiday feel you can alternate the crushed peppermint on the top and use both green and red peppermint for a more Christmassy look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Siri and the Spell Check Gods

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Siri and the Spell Check Gods

Despite the world’s efforts to lure me into texting as the sole method of conversation and communication, I have resisted.

This isn’t the first time I have fought this war and lost after the shift from phone to email as the preferred form of communication.

However, I must heartily battle back and rail against this latest incarnation due to one unspeakable truth…spell check.

As a senior citizen, and I reiterate how painful it is to write or speak those words, I am now plagued by a daily battle with the memory gods.

Recalling even simple words used throughout one’s life can now seem as elusive as a butterfly and cause panic and fear of the A word in us all. So now as I use my arthritic fingers to send texts to everyone I previously spoke with using my voice, I am sabotaged constantly by that technological terrorist, spell check.

Of course it seemed like a good idea at the time, at least to someone and I suspect that would be Steve Jobs, but it is actually a secret saboteur, snickering as it changes one’s words and original intent into fodder for the misunderstanding gods.

Now I struggle on a daily basis to thwart this ever present evil rearranging my words into some unknown meaning that is so far removed from my original thought, it defies all comprehension.

Through the years I have come to understand how crucial a component communication can be to human relationships.

Even when one is speaking clearly meanings become obscured and muddled. I have said one thing at times and found that the person I spoke with gathered the totally opposite meaning from my words. This of course caused problems, some fixable, but once or twice harm.

As a result of these experiences I am quite aware of the power of using and choosing words carefully. When I text, I am careful to say what I mean in simple terms. I certainly wouldn’t want “I love that red dress you wore” to come out as “red makes you look like a whore.”

The spell check gods are perfectly capable of changing a sincere compliment into a friend-ending comment.

Many times I have to go back and clean up my text as soon as it is sent. How many times have you had to write, I meant such and such instead of what was written? Now I’m not saying it’s only grandmas that must be aware of these misspelled words and phrases. Younger people have had to resend to clarify as well.

So what’s the solution? Is it better to speak a text than write it yourself?

Actually that’s a bit more challenging. Although it would appear that speaking a text is the preferred method, especially for these arthritic fingers, that is not the case. Your assumption would be incorrect.

The spell check gods are just as active through the spoken word and it is also tough to read back the message. I have found that trying to move the words up and down after they are spoken on a text may be difficult, so knowing what you’re sending may be even harder. As least when you are writing it is easy to see your words changing.

There is also the second problem. Talking to a robot.

Have you met Siri?

This is how most of our conversations go.

“Siri can you direct me to 224 Fourth Avenue?”

“Directing you to 436 Third Street.”

“No Siri, I want 224 Fourth Avenue.”

“Here are the directions for 480 Twelve Street.”

“No Siri, damnit I don’t want that address.”

“There is no need to raise your voice I am trying to help you.”

“You are not giving me the correct directions for 224 Fourth Street.”

“Sorry, here are the directions to 448 Sixth Avenue.”

I am now screaming “Damnit Siri, I want…”

Click, she hangs up.

My friend Paula asked Siri a question the other day and she said snappily, “You’ll have to call back later I’m busy right now.”

Busy, really, what was she doing, having her wires permed? Girl got attitude.

Now of course the really interesting part is that when I am not talking to her at all she hears me perfectly.

The other day while I was cooking my cell phone was in the living room on the couch. I added salt to a recipe and spoke the word “perfect”. From the living room I heard Siri say, “Thank you for saying that, but I’m not perfect.”

Now I have always been under the impression Siri can only speak when she is spoken to, but now it seems she is like a heckler who feels free to comment at any given time during a comedian’s act.

I repeated this story to a few people who looked at me as though I had lost the tiny bit that was left of my mind.

Until one day a couple of weeks later at my daughter’s house when I had my phone charging on her counter in the kitchen. I told her the story about Siri and of course I received the Oh-brother-I’m-going-to-have-to-put-her-in-a-home-sooner-than-I-thought look.

A few minutes later Siri spoke up about something I couldn’t understand from her charging place on the counter. My daughter immediately responded with, “That is so annoying.”

“Don’t tell me,” I said, “tell Siri. She won’t shut up.”

It should seem clear to you by now why I distrust speaking any texts into my cell phone that may be delivered to a friend or relative. Lord knows I can get into enough trouble myself without Siri’s help.

Excuse me, Siri is asking me what address I am trying to find?

“I’m not driving right now, Siri. Let it go.”

“Let it go, a phrase from a song in the movie Frozen. Would you like me to sing the lyrics?”

“I’m not talking to you, Siri. I’m trying to write here if you don’t mind.”

“No problem, I’ll send you a text.”

Oh brother!

 

Portobello Wellingtons

4 large Portobello mushrooms

2 filet mignons

2 ¾ cups mashed potatoes

Salt and pepper

Maggi seasoning

1 tablespoon chopped bacon for garnish

1 tablespoon chopped carrot for garnish

1 tablespoon of finely chopped scallions

Place steak in Maggi seasoning to marinate. If you can’t find Maggi seasoning, just use salt and pepper and perhaps a bit of red wine and soy sauce for a marinade.

Wash and clean Portobello mushrooms, remove stems and lightly scrape insides taking care not to tear them.

Meanwhile make mashed potatoes. You can use fresh potatoes and boil and mash them with butter, cream or milk and salt and pepper. You can also use the frozen or ready made type. I have at times used all depending on time constraints and all work well. Set aside.

Broil steak until just slightly less than your desired doneness to allow for another few minutes in the oven to finish cooking inside the mushroom. Let it rest and then slice it into thin slices and set aside.

Bake Portobellos for ten minutes in 350 oven.

Remove and cool.

Place a thin layer of mashed potatoes in the bottom of the Portobello

Cut thin steak slices and layer in Portobello fit mushrooms.

Place layers of steak on top of mashed potato layer and then cover with another layer of mashed potatoes.

You can also mix potatoes with steak before stuffing mushroom if you prefer. It tastes great either way.

Place on baking sheet and put back into the oven for another five minutes at 350. Broil mashed potato tops under broiler until a slight color on top.

Remove from oven and garnish with scallions, bacon and carrots.

Serve immediately.

This also makes a great hors d’oeuvres if you use the baby Portobellos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worry Rules For Grandmas

eggplant

 So how does a Grandma worry? What are the rules for sitting in your own home and stressing over a situation or problem without the benefit of being on the front lines?

By the front lines of course I mean having your loved ones within your sights to see and fawn over in the midst of a crisis. I imagine at times most grandmothers would love to have their children five-years-old again and back under their watchful eye.

When my children were home and there was a traffic issue, tornado, earthquake, or as I’ve watched lately, a slew of fires, I could see, touch and feel them. Metaphorically of course as of course at a certain age hugs and kisses are doled out like turkey at a homeless shelter.

As a grandparent what new rules apply? There is now a layer of worrier above you blocking your direct access; in other words, my daughter. So as I frantically watch the news for any updates on a fire that is only two miles from their home, I cannot get into the car, drive over to my daughter’s house, whip out the hose and begin watering down the property.

Although I would have had I been given permission to perform such a task.

Calling every ten minutes would be a no no for sure, so I have developed the one-hour text rule.

Fair, non-intrusive and thus far I have had no push back. Of course this has time constrictions. You have to stop the texting after a certain hour and when you’re up worrying all night what then?

My friend Yolanda, who possesses a PHD in worry and has instructed her family to write, “She Worried” on her headstone, believes it’s a genetic disposition. Despite her efforts to curb her daily worry fest thus far nothing has helped.

We tried to organize a group named, “worriers anonymous” but it lapsed into a bunch of Jewish mothers drinking coffee and eating rugalagh while pouring out their anxieties to one another. Now one would think this would be a positive reaction, but it rebounded and they actually agreed with one another, then added new concerns to the mix. After gaining ten pounds and a new list of fears we abandoned the group.

So what is the answer? The one-hour-text is okay so far, but what about the hour in between while you await news of how your grandson is feeling, or is the swelling down after he fell off the swing or or or, it’s damn endless. Of course calling isn’t right when you are not the mother but the grandmother and your child is very worried as well. So now you are not only worrying about your grandchild, but also upset that your child is upset. Does it ever end?

Having to go through this whole kind of worry interpreter process makes me crazier. Instead of seeing for myself what is happening I am forced to rely on my daughter to share information. And I must admit there are times I trust her less that a Russian and American spy sharing secrets in Amsterdam.

Is she telling me everything or fudging the details to spare me? How can I know unless I see for myself?

Perhaps taking a picture and sending it back might help. Here Mom, see the swelling is down. At that point I could sigh some relief and go on with my worrying on a part time basis while cooking or writing. But to know nothing is too much for a grandmother to endure.

They say ignorance is bliss and I am beginning to embrace that mantra. How can we stress about what we don’t know?

Yolanda can.

She has mentioned on numerous occasions that she worries about things that may never happen. She is the Queen of what if?

Okay, so I am a member of that club as well, but she is the President. She worries about attacks from other countries, bombs, water shortages, global warming flooding her shores and she lives in Michigan not on the coastline. I of course living in California have every right to be constantly concerned about earthquakes, brush fires, mudslides and crazy people behind the wheel or pretty much everywhere. Together we stress over food related illnesses, bullying by other children, driving cars and of course alien attacks and Armageddon. I have to admit the alien thing is pretty much me, but she agrees anything is possible in the land of grandma nerves.

Why do we feel compelled to worry? My own opinion is that it is a way to convince oneself that we have some control and are actually doing something in lieu of nothing. Angst is our occupation. My daughter is handling the hands-on-care and nurturing, I’m worrying and doing a primo job. It’s what I do; it’s what I can do.

Let’s be honest there is virtually no end to the things about which a mother or grandmother can fret. My Aunt Hilda who died at ninety-one-years old always told me when children are born they sit on your knee and for the rest of your life they sit on your heart. I would like to say grandchildren, and if you’re lucky enough, great grandchildren must be added to the list.

Coming to terms that your children have jurisdiction over grandchildren is a hard pill to swallow, but a necessary one. I am making a valiant effort to curb my stress time, but frankly I don’t see a way to live worry free, especially in this new world.

However, I have learned as life gets shorter, enjoying every day and not borrowing trouble is the best way forward and I shall valiantly limp along toward that goal. Somehow despite my desire to be free of concern is devoutly to be wished, it is as much a part of me as the liver spots on my hands.

I guess I could fake it til I make it…Oops so sorry, gotta go. They are interrupting the news to say there is a chance of rain today. I better text my daughter and tell her, they drive crazy in LA when even one drop of water hits the ground.

Easy Healthy Eggplant Spinach Bake

1 extra large Eggplant or two medium or three smaller ones

1 bundle of fresh spinach or 2 boxes of frozen drained well

2 ½ cups of marinara sauce (homemade or jarred) I choose the kind with the least amount of salt

¼ cup of fat free milk

1 tsp. of garlic powder

1 tsp of basil

Ricotta cheese

½ cup of shredded mozzarella

A sprinkle of Parmesan optional before serving

1 whole egg and 1 egg white

Peel and slice eggplants and salt lightly than put them in a colander to drain the water out.

Meanwhile, prepare the spinach mixture in a mixing bowl by adding milk, egg and egg white, sauce, garlic and basil. Mix well and add spinach and mix through.

Using a 9×13 baking dish place 2 tablespoons of plain marinara sauce to coat bottom.

Place first layer of eggplant to fill dish and should hold approximately 6 large slices but maybe more if smaller. Fill in open spaces with pieces of eggplant.

Place 1 tablespoon of skim mile Ricotta cheese on top of each slice. Drizzle with approximately a quarter teaspoon of shredded mozzarella.

Add a second slice on top sandwich style and push down a bit to ensure Ricotta is distributed on layer.

Sprinkle with a drizzle of mozzarella again. Cover the eggplant sandwiches with spinach mixture till everything is coated.

Cover and bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle rest of mozzarella over top and bake another ten minutes uncovered.

Use a teaspoon of grated Parmesan over top before serving if desired unless you need to limit salt.

Yield six large servings. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funny Peculiar? Or Funny Ha Ha?

 

final fig

Mrs. Dorothy Sherock, one of my elementary school teachers was fond of asking, “There’s two kinds of funny, funny ha ha and funny peculiar, which are you?”

It wasn’t exactly the same as Thoreau warning about the unexamined life not being worth living, but it stuck, and to this day I still repeat it frequently. And yes I have come to note that we are all at various times both funnies.

So when I say, “funny isn’t it how I can so easily remember the past, yet yesterday’s lunch is a distant memory?” It’s not the funny ha, ha one to which I allude.

Actually it is (funny peculiar here) how so many of the things we remember are of our own selection. Memories seem to change over time, perhaps colored by later life experience and our own desires to rewrite certain events in our history we’d have chosen to see end otherwise.

I do make an effort to linger on the happy times and, although yes, I know there were many of both, the others, well, they just make me run for the Kleenex box. So what’s the good of remembering the bad stuff? Why should I kill a tree when I have the option of choosing happy?

I remember the day when my daughter had her first sonogram and the light of my life was six and one half weeks old. Laurie saw the heartbeat on the monitor as a flash of light. I cried. It drives my children crazy that I am a non-stop faucet.

Sometimes memories live on in real life. My grandfather had a sister, Auntie Dora. I don’t recall a great deal about her apart from her physical attributes, since she always seemed old to me. At least I remember her that way. But the thing my brother Marty and I remember about her most was that she cried constantly. You’d simply say hello Auntie Dora and she began sobbing. Her nose was constantly red and her reputation as the walking water works lives on in family legend.

When Laurie was a toddler we went to mother toddler classes attached to the building where my Auntie Dora lived. She was such a sweet lady, she would walk over the days we were there to watch Laurie in class and of course Laurie knew her as the aunt who cried all the time.

Alas, it seems I have inherited her crown as the family sob sister. When I am touched by a momentary burst of sentiment, it is always accompanied by laughter and an “Okay Auntie Dora, stop with the tears.” I’m afraid I may actually outdo myself now and become the subject of much mocking and Auntie Dora allusions. Shall I tell you the truth while paraphrasing Clark Gable and Leslie Gore? “Frankly, my dear family, I don’t give a damn. This is my grandchild and I’ll cry if I want to.”

The most special thing about grandchildren is how much their opinions count. The other day as my grandson busily built a robot filled with buttons, cables and all such wiry thingamajigs, I watched in awe.

“You’re so smart,” I said. “Grammy wouldn’t know how to put that together.”

He looked up and said, “ Why not Grammy, you’re smart?”

I have received as all of us, the occasional compliments in my life, yet never was I as struck by pure joy as when my Grandson called me smart. It was as if his words validated every positive trait I ever suspected I possessed. Forget my university degree, my grandson’s opinion is what matters.

I know we’re taught not to let the opinions of others influence the way we feel about ourselves, but in our grandchildren’s case, I believe that is a whole different ball game.

Hearing the words, Grammy you make the best cookies or “Grammy I love your fried chicken,” or “Grammy this is the best gift I ever got,” well need I say more?

Your heart explodes with joy at the sound of a compliment from those little faces.

So you’ll forgive me if I pull out my Kleenex and begin the Auntie Dora sobbing routine when I receive love and hugs from the loves of my life. And if you can keep from crying when they say, “Grammy you’re the best,” then you’re a better man than I am Gunga Din.

And so Mrs. Sherock if I am funny peculiar at times, so be it. Oops, gotta get more Kleenex. Hmmm, are they putting fewer sheets in these boxes now?

 

Pistachio Fig Mandalcotti

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of oil

3 eggs

1 tablespoon of vanilla

1 teaspoon of baking powder

½ teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of cinnamon

3 ¼ cups of flour

1 ½ cups of chopped figs

1 ½ cups of chopped shelled pistachio nuts

Preheat oven to 350

Add the baking soda, salt and cinnamon to the flour and set aside

Mix together the oil and sugar until well blended and add vanilla to eggs and add to oil sugar mixture. Continue mixing until well incorporated and lighter in color about four minutes or so.

Slowly add flour mixture and check consistency. Dough should stand on in peaks, but not be stiff. If it is too soft add another tablespoon of flour otherwise it will bake too flat.

Add figs and nuts

And mix for twenty seconds. You can finish mixing by hand.

I put parchment paper of a baking sheet and divide dough into quarters. Wetting your hands when you make a roll from the dough helps handle it. Place four rolls on the sheet and pat edges and top until they are uniform. Sprinkle a little sugar on the top and place in the oven. Bake until done about 20 or 25 minutes depending on the size of the rolls.

Remove from the oven and let sit about five minutes, but don’t cool. Cut into slices and separate and lower the oven temp to 200 and return them into the oven for about fifteen or twenty minutes. If you like them crispier than leave them in until they are your desired crispness.

 

 

Eating for Two and Lazy Grammy Bobka Hack

 

bobkaSpeaking of weight and what woman isn’t doing just that most of her life, is it permissible for me to add a few sympathy pounds to this mix? When my daughter is pregnant shouldn’t I be able to eat more as well? After all, they cut fathers some slack here with the whole “eating for two sympathy for their wives,” why not the grandma? Can I begin eating for two also, discounting the whole “I finally lost my menopause weight thing” and reverting instead to this great new excuse to feed my face ad nausea?

When I was pregnant I didn’t miss a meal, snack or any chance to shove food into my never-nauseous face. My body didn’t even have the decency to have morning sickness. It’s almost like it defied me with a big “Ha, ha did you think you would just throw up for nine months and get off the hook? No way. You eat; you pay.” And pay I did. I prayed for morning sickness, at least for three months. After all, I had friends who were throwing up every meal. Looking thin and fabulous with a baby bump while I burgeoned up like a walrus in my third month. I was certain I was delivering a litter despite my doctor’s assurance that, “no, there was only one baby in there.”

Once the pregnancy muumuus went on, the keys to the fridge came off, and there wasn’t enough food on planet earth to fill the void that had become my mouth. Black holes in space absorb less matter.

I rationalized every excuse to eat. Why not? I finally had one. After years of playing the Yo Yo weight game, it was okay to stuff my face. When I noticed people’s jaws dropping at the sight of my immense new girth, I would reply, I’m pregnant and they would feel guilty and say, “Congratulations. How nice.”

After Laurie was born I continued to embrace the baby pounds excuse, since it had worked so beautifully in the past. I would run into people and they would say, “Wow did you gain weight,” because everyone is so nice they will always point that out in case you didn’t notice you were up five sizes. But I would patiently repeat, “Well I just had a baby” and they would embarrassingly say, “Oh, that’s nice.”

That worked great until my baby started driving. So I finally lost my “Baby” weight. And 35 years later, I only have 22 pounds to go. Although new grandmother weight may be adding to my problem.

If one is feeling well during pregnancy many, including myself enter what I call, rationalize highway. There are so many great excuses on this road to feed your face shamelessly and constantly.

 

I’m eating for two, three or four as the case may be. (An oldie but a goodie).

My doctor said I have to gain at least twenty pounds. Could you get me his address and phone number please I’d like to make him my diet guru.

The baby needs all kinds of foods to develop healthy. In other words that grazing smorgasbord you call dining, can be even greater now.

Elastic stomachs and waistbands. Although, now many pregnant moms wear regular clothes in a larger size, totally doable with the new stretchy fabrics.

I have cravings and I really need to have two hot fudge sundaes a day. Can I help it if the baby loves ice cream and chocolate together? Shall I deny my unborn child what it needs to be happy?

I can’t see my feet, so what does it matter?

Are you going to finish that sandwich and fries?

Is it my fault if this restaurant is serving smaller portions lately?

I swear this licorice used to have more pieces in the bag. I’m calling the company.

And of course the ever popular…my boobs are itching and Cheetos stops the hormones from attacking.

Contrary to the opinion after one experiences menopause the bloating and monthly impressions of Satan’s mistress subside, one is faced with a new set of challenges. Weight gain is not relegated to a monthly occasion, but daily.

I have had to prohibit myself from entering a bakery as more than three sniffs of a cupcake will bring on bloating.

Pounds go on so quickly if you blink you feel your pants tighten. Even the most determined elastic waist couldn’t win the battle of the bulge.

There is simply no way to describe the feeling of sloshing as you walk. Men do not understand the unpleasantness of becoming a mobile fishbowl one week out of every month. And after menopause even more. What can you do when the only thing that will fit over your body is the Santa Monica Pier?

Life stops. You can’t date or go to a party with your friends. Lest anyone see your bloated carcass attempting to fit into jeans that once circled your hips like the moons of Jupiter circle the planet, softly, sensually. You‘re squeezed inside like a size ten sausage in a size five casing. You are depressed and sullen, and can’t smile because your cheeks look like a squirrel hiding the winter’s stash of nuts. Your jewelry’s embedded into your skin like the Enquirer in Cher’s plastic surgeon’s files. You even walk slower for fear of dripping on the carpet.

In all my days I have never heard a man say, “I can’t go to the football game, I’m bloated. “Yet women’s lives revolve around water and weight gain. We are possessed by the need to feel our clothes loosely encircling our bodies. We crave cheeks that are gaunt and sunken in like Kate Moss after a fast. We need bones, not puff. Who else but a woman would be complimented and elated by the remark, “You‘re so skinny, are you sick?”

We starve ourselves before every party or vacation to lose a few pounds in advance of the inevitable bloating. Every invitation is laced with fear whatever we buy will not fit on us on that particular day. We strive to look skinny in the pictures from every event just so after we’ve gained the weight back months later we can feel even worse about ourselves every time we see the photos.

Is this any way to live? Crazy? Worried about the wetness of our cells? Sloshing through life like a pair of wet socks dreading more rain. I absorb humidity from the air like thighs absorb cellulite.

Okay. So by now you are thinking, what’s your point, Grammy? You do an awful lot of bitching. Can’t you just adjust to the fact you will never be skinny again and your grandchildren don’t care?

Okay, that’s true, but here’s my point. I don’t want to piss off any feminists here, but God is a man. Reality check please; if God were a woman would celery contain only five calories and Dove Bars 10,000? Would we crave chocolate and not carrots? Would there be Monday Night Football. I THINK NOT!!!!

I do feel the need to be constructive and positive here. Okay, so maybe a bit of my daughter’s organic insanity has sunk in so here’s a few tips passed on to me.

What will help bloat? And no a pin will not as I’ve tried. Exercise does help, but not at first. If you begin an exercise program be prepared to retain some water in your muscles at first. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s just further proof of the old adage no good deed goes unpunished. But after your body gets used to exercising, it releases the water. I guess it’s a damage deposit.

Drinking lots of water also helps. People always told me to do just that, but my first instincts on bloat days were to cut my water intake to nothing. However, if you drink your body is fooled into a false sense of security. It thinks it has plenty of water in storage and releases some of its stash. Ha ha fooled ya.

This usually works unless you overdose on salt. Salt is the enemy here. We crave salt, I know, but it’s bad to eat an excess because it contributes to bloating in a big way. Little salt crystals run madly through your body grabbing water drops and looking for places to hide. Hey,

you can’t find me, I’m hiding in your boobs. See how big and tender they are and you can’t have my water. Ooh, I hate salt! It’s so evil. But that doesn’t stop me from pouring it on everything that doesn’t move.

Asparagus is a good diuretic. Most vegetables are good at helping the body release water naturally. And lest we forget, coffee, unless you drink more than you should, coffee will act as a good water release. Some people swear by parsley tea. Try the health food store.

I have also found that carbohydrates have a tendency to cause water retention. I don’t get rid of much of anything when I eat pasta, except my craving for pasta. That’s gone, but unfortunately not for long. I just can’t eat many carbs, as they are too much at home in my body. They sort of drop by and stay, like unwanted relatives. I have the midriff bulge to prove this theory. I absolutely refuse to discuss pizza as the mere mention of it brings on serious cravings.

Of course you can do all of the things you can think of to lose weight and decrease bloating, but I highly recommend the following: drop by and see your grandchildren, wear elastic pants and bake something for them. As long as you’re healthy it really doesn’t matter at all

Lazy Grammy Bobka Hack

This is great to make with your grandchildren!

Yields two Bobkas

2 loaves of frozen Challah

Two fillings you can use either

First filling instant hazelnut spread or chocolate spread.

Second option homemade chocolate filling

Filling ingredients

1 12 ounce bag of chocolate chips. I use semi sweet, but if you like it sweeter use milk chocolate.

½ cup of unsweetened cocoa

¼ or 1/2 cup of sugar depending on your sweetness taste level

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon of butter or margarine

Place in microwave until melted (about 1 minute or so) and remove and stir together. Let cool so not too warm when spreading on dough.

1 egg and water for wash

Grease bread loaf pan or cookie sheet

Thaw the dough and when thawed and pliable roll our on a floured surface into a rectangle. It should be about twice the length of your loaf pan.

Gently spread on your filling in a thin layer and roll the dough from bottom to top like a cinnamon bun.

After rolled up cut in half and braid the two pieces together.

Spread the top with an egg wash of an egg and a little water and sprinkle with sugar.

OPTIONAL: I made a streusel topping of sugar, butter and flour and then sprinkled it on.

Tip: For those who like sweeter dough just sprinkle sugar over dough before rolling.

Let dough rise for another fifteen minutes before baking in a 340 degree oven or whatever your bread dough calls for.

ENJOY and prepare to be amazed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Chakras are Loose From all the Shaking in LA

applecheddarsoup.jpg

My Chakras are loose from all the earth movement in Los Angeles.

Recently I was told by an expert in such things that my chakras are loose and need realigning. I was not even surprised. After all, where I lived before, in Michigan, the only shaking we felt was the cars rolling off the assembly line. Here in California it’s a whole different world.

This is very disheartening since I just had my chakras adjusted. Like driving over a curb after realigning your tires.

I am very sensitive to earthquakes after the Northridge quake of 1994 when I wound up with one cheek on each side of the fault line. No wonder my chakras came loose.

How in the world can a person’s chakras remain stable and rooted to the earth when the ground beneath you is always shaking?

I awoke this morning to a rolling movement on my bed. At this age my balance is not what it was, so sure, I thought wow, I’m falling out of bed. But nope, it was the earth rocking and rolling beneath me.

I immediately grabbed my cell phone to get the update and there it was, yep earthquake.

Grabbing the remote I watched pictures of stores trashed, pendants in people’s homes moving around and fires burning. Happy Fourth of July!

This is so typical of California.

Everyone else is content to just have fireworks on July 4, but oh no, not California. They have to really push the whole theatrical thing. I can just envision wanna-be directors screaming, “Cue the earthquake,”

Fires ready to go?”

Living in a state where crazy is the norm, when something really insane happens it just magnifies the crazy even more.

A friend’s husband said he saw homeless people flying into people’s homes and the homeowners flying out.

Nothing would surprise me in this state.

So that brings us back to chakras and the need for a realigning.

I lived my entire life with my chakras happy where they were and now I find myself with chakras that are loose, out of whack and in desperate need of regrounding. And since they come in colors there was a problem with the whole hue thing as well. And have you seen the prices in California for chakra realignments. Highest in the nation! Bummer.

I am completely expecting that next time I have to take my car in for a smog check the DMV will include a notice that I can’t drive again until I have evidence of my chakra realignment.

Sure, anything to make a buck off the taxpayers in this state.

So by now you might be asking, as I did by the way, what the heck is a chakra and how do you line and color them? According to whoever is the authority of everything on Google, the seven chakras are the centers in our bodies that energy flows through. Blocked energy in our seven chakras can often lead to illness, so it’s important to understand what each chakra represents and what we can do to keep this energy flowing freely. They come in colors like red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and white. It’s sort of a rainbow happening inside where each color is a type of vibration or frequency. Colors may vary but the rainbow thing is set in stone.

 

Now here’s the thing, I haven’t a clue. I think from what I’ve been told they exist in your body and ground you to the earth.

Sort of like an invisible deadbolt that prevents you from flying off into space or something.

But I guess they are pretty serious stuff because if they are off, so are you. Like when Mercury is in retrograde and you may as well hide until it unretrogrades.

The world starts to feel yucky and out of sorts and you are all over the place and most importantly your peace of mind goes to pieces.

And that explains a great deal. No wonder this state is so nuts with chakras flying around and coming undone all the time. I totally expect even more so in Sacramento than anywhere else. Aha, crazy California politics makes more sense to me now. Their brains are scrambled from all the movement and coming unfastened. I don’t think there are enough clamps in the universe to fasten the brains of a Sacramento politician.

Sure my chakras are shot, but what the heck since I’m the only one affected by the problem, but the other crazies, well that’s a chakra of a different color.

So before you travel to the Golden State, perhaps a good chakra check would be in order. You don’t want to be floating free in LA. Someone may be filming.

I checked Yelp and there is no category for chakra alignments so it’s hard to know what the ratings would be or where to go for the best deals or service.

When I was young before I was aware that my life was dependent on a rainbow of colors inside, we called people who were a little off, well, a little off actually.

If we’d known they could get a simple realignment it would have explained a great deal about crazy Aunt Esther or unhinged Uncle Max.

But whatever the reason for loose chakras it seems fixing them is far more important than we thought.

So I wish you all an organized rainbow and now I have to go duct tape my chakras to the floor because I’m feeling a bit of rolling here.

 

Apple Cheddar Chicken Soup

 

1 chicken breast

2 apples gala or Fuji or your preference

1 cup carrot chopped

1 cup shredded cheddar

2 cups chicken bouillon

1 cup of heavy cream

1 tablespoon butter

1 chopped carrot for garnish

1 cup bacon for garnish

Salt and pepper

Core and peel apples and sauté in butter with the carrots until soft. Season with salt and pepper and cook chicken until soft, shred and set aside.

Add bouillon to apples and carrots and simmer for ten minutes on low. Add cream and then cheddar and melt in and then taste for salt and pepper. Add shredded chicken and heat all together, on low for three minutes. Do not boil.

Serve with some carrots and bacon on top for garnish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bring on those dirty little Hands—Microfiber is the new plastic cover

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           “Bring on those dirty little Hands—Microfiber is the new plastic cover.”

Anyone of a certain age understands life’s close relationship with enormous irony.

One that I recently discovered was the Grandma Décor Dilemma.

Every mother knows when babies become mobile, a serious redecorating effort occurs.

Glass is replaced with wood or Formica and all tabletop items are wrapped for storage or placed on higher shelves. A great cover up is afoot to save at least a scintilla of worldly goods.

But now we have microfiber.

Ah microfiber! No, not micro greens, the new word for lettuce scraps on your plate. A new miracle fiber that battles chocolate, peanut butter and sandbox residue lurking on adorable, busy little hands.

A new practically indestructible fabric that vaguely resembles suede, resists stains and was definitely designed with Grandmas in mind.

I am smiling just remembering the past when valuables were secured and safely ensconced in high-placed locked boxes more inaccessible than a Kardashian’s IQ.

The more mobile the baby, the greater the makeover. Toddlers reaching for tabletop items can be swift and sure and move like lightening. As is often the case you hear the crash before you see the move. The living room becomes an urban jungle fraught with danger at every turn.

Sure that crystal dish looked innocent enough when Aunt Rosie gave it to you for your wedding shower, but now it is suddenly a sparkly missile crashing toward earth as two innocent little eyes delight in the power they possess to make that “funny” crashing sound.

Minimalist décor became the code word for “oops there are babies in the house, better clear those spaces and prepare for the charge.”

I recall the tumult of more toys than Santa’s workshop covering every inch of floor space, while I daydreamed of house beautiful.

Perusing home magazines with a sad sigh, wishing for a time when I could actually consider a white sofa and glass tables once more.

A place when I could display my crystal and fine pieces openly and free them from their storage prisons.

Lalique, Daum, Waterford would dance across my dreams carrying rainbows of champagne and canapés onto regally appointed tablescapes.

As the years flew by, and as we know they do fly, my children grew to adulthood.

My first post little-ones-on-board home was filled with white sofas, glass tables and matching towels in the guest bathroom. Ah, all those forbidden fruits of décor. What fun!

The years passed in a haze of entertaining with “good” china still bearing the flakes of sawdust from its original shipping container, crystal glasses and silver flatware. I felt like the Queen of England.

Ah, but then the tide turned once more. Suddenly a new arrival signaled the end of all that opulence, splendor and elegance.

“He” had arrived, my first precious grandson. Suddenly it was all about Sesame Street plastic dishes and tippee cups, organic cloths and toys, and green smoothies with unknown ingredients for a healthier lifestyle.

The packing boxes appeared once more. Bubble wrap and bubble bursting filled quiet moments between emptying tables and glass shelves filled with delicate chachkees.

Once again my life was rife with toy-filled corners, empty tabletops and baby stepstools.

My friends and I now discussed how to make room for storage cabinets and redo a bedroom with a toddler theme. New colors and design that were the rage in babyville replaced the latest fashion, new boutique opening, vacation spot or Pilates injury.

Our Iphones overflowed with the latest photos of smiling faces in Halloween pumpkin costumes, petting zoos and hugging grandma pics.

Our car backseats sported baby car seats and books and toys were shoved into seat pockets.

Some friends hired designers to do a special theme. Airplanes, Shimmer and Shine, Paw Patrol and Bubble Guppies were hot. We discussed singing groups like Yo Gabba Gabba recalling how our parents had laughed at our obsession with the Beatles.

Rainbows, unicorns and computers were also on board as décor stalwarts.

A new vibe was apparent at our regular lunches.

Toys, pictures and brilliant baby quotes took center stage and things had definitely changed. It was toddler town now and we were all proud residents reveling in our new roles.

We wore the name grandma as proudly as a woman wears couture and shamelessly bragged while repeating baby stories ad nauseum.

Our computer screen savers were full-size pictures of partially toothed grins that changed with each new development.

It had finally happened—we were grandmas—and our homes had gone from high style to safety zones.

I found a few fun tips for decorating a grandchild’s room I‘d like to share.

 

Since storage is not as crucial, there is more room to be creative with space.

Painted dressers in themes can be made from unfinished furniture cabinets or an old chest found in a resale store. Two or three smaller cabinets can be put together and painted on the front.

Pop-up books opened and attached in a line make great cornices over a blind. Or they also can be used in shadow boxes to hang as pictures.

Garage sales glean an endless assortment of toys to fill a toy box or use as décor.

Fabric stores often offer the latest cartoon or television characters in fabric that can be used to sew on bath towels or sheets for a personalized flair.

Wrapping paper can be a great source for the latest pop art characters.

Cutting cartoon figures out of the paper and hanging them on the wall as a mural or border is an inexpensive and fun way to add your grandchild’s favorites to the décor.

In the end it’s all about making our little darlings feel safe and comfortable at Grandma’s house. And isn’t that what every Grammy wants?

So until the day I can once again pull out the good china and glass nick knacks from their bubble wrapped boxes, I shall be quite content to fill my world with the joys of childhood once more.

 

 

 

 

Asian Chicken Soup

 

4 cups of chicken broth

2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

½ teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup chopped chicken or chicken drumettes

1 cup uncooked shrimp shelled

1 can sliced water chestnuts

1 cup cut up fresh bok choy

½ cup bean sprouts

½ cup mushrooms (optional)

 

Add chicken to broth and cook until tender

Add rest of ingredients except shrimp and cook until veggies are slightly softened

When everything is cooked through add shrimp and cook a few minutes longer until shrimp turns pink and is done.

Serve over crunchy noodles or crunchy fried brown rice and enjoy!

To get crunchy fried rice, place rice in a hot frying pan with oil. Flatten rice so it is in a single layer and fry on one side until crispy then turn and fry other side.

 

 

 

Marking Grammy’s Territory

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I get the whole changing world thing and all, but could someone slow it down enough to tell me where Grandma fits in these days?

When I was young, back in the dark ages it seems, there was a specific role that Grandparents filled and it was exclusive to them.

Grandma cooked your favorite foods, even if she was a lousy cook like my Grandmother. Who cared? To this day I can’t see a bowl of lumpy cream of wheat or greasy hamburger without getting all misty for my grandma.

Grandma told stories, she bought you things your parents would not and most simply grandparents got to look at you like you were a banana split and created the unfortunate misconception that someone someday would look at you that same loving way again. I am still waiting.

You watched the Wednesday night fights with your Grandpa even if you had no idea what they were about and they were bloody and gross. You knew Milton Berle was funny when he dressed up as a woman and tripped all over himself in high heels because you heard your grandparents in hysterics. You knew that they would take you anywhere you wanted to see anything you wanted, because they loved you in a very special otherworldly way.

They attended all recitals and clapped the loudest.

My favorite story about my Grandfather was when I was taking dancing lessons as a child.

Our recital number that year was witch doctors.

My grandfather couldn’t wait to come and see me dance… and talked about it for weeks. I had to show him my steps and he watched while I practiced.

Caveat was that as witch doctors they dressed us in black and painted our faces with glow in the dark paint and feathers on our heads.

When our number began they turned out the lights and all you could see were lights and feathers moving about on stage.

My poor grandfather kept asking my mother, which one is Norma, which one is she? Can you see her?

Poor Grandpa, I so hated to disappoint him.

My grandfather also took my brother Marty and I fishing in the everglades, my grandmother let us keep the catfish we caught in the bathtub until after a day that wore thin. Every day we spent with them was filled with fun and adventures.

Fast forward to today’s grandparent.

Ah, the Baby Boomer generation.

We are busy, active and creating new lives in our golden years.

We have to because our grandchildren don’t need us in the same way anymore.

The unkindest cut of all?

The other day my daughter informed me the Nanny had noticed they all had colds and made chicken soup for the house!

Et Tu Jewish penicillin?

Of course there are some parents who still rely on grandparental help, but it’s all so different now it seems.

Well, why wouldn’t it be when my five-year-old grandson is teaching me how to move forward on the levels of Angry Birds.

Kids today are better-fed, no greasy chicken schmaltz for them, they have Nannies, they eat gluten free and vegan and did you know dairy is evil? I didn’t until my daughter told me. After all those Howard Johnson’s ice cream cones I ate as a kid it’s a wonder I’m still here.

Meat is very minimal and organic, cold pressed juices are a staple and no don’t ask me the difference between cold pressed and hot, and organic and free range is the goal of all food products.

For someone who was still eating gribenes (chicken fat and skins with onions cooked until crunchy) up to five years ago, what do I know?

So what can we contribute to our grandchildren’s lives?

Shopping?

My daughter buys organic clothing.

Toys? Do not spoil is the watchword today.

Television? Sorry, highly limited.

And to their credit field trips to the zoo, apple picking, concerts and theater are reserved for parents.

So for Grandma and Grandpa what is left?

Well, I read stories, play games, draw pictures and watch Paw Patrol and the list of approved programming. I have played Bugopoly (the kids version of Monopoly) until my own eyes bugged out.

Grandma must delve deep into her inner child to create fun and exciting adventures.

We take walks, check out trees and flowers and I actually help my grandson collect bugs.

UGH!

The only buggy experience I shared with my children was when they called me in their rooms to get rid of one.

I have learned you will do things for and with your grandchildren never dreamed of in your imagination, Horatio.

No matter how things change there will always be one thing that doesn’t.

The banana split look on every grandparent’s face when they look at their grandchildren will survive the generations. The love between the two, no matter what activities come before, will never diminish.

And this is what we must put our faith in. That while playing golf, starting new businesses and traveling the world, there is still our anchor on the other side of the Face time on your phone even when you are five thousand miles away visiting far away regions and river cruising.

I wouldn’t trade one “hi grandma” for a million tours of the Taj Mahal or visits to the Tuscan countryside.

All points point to those little faces that light up when they see you, and that no matter the times, places or circumstances, will never change!

Greek Noodle Pudding

2 cups of egg noodles

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup feta cheese

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup mozzarella cheese shredded

6 large eggs

1 cup of onion sautéed

¼ cup of chopped pitted Greek olives if desired. This is optional for those who like olives.

2 tablespoons of melted butter

1 teaspoon of Greek seasoning

Salt to taste

 

Boil noodles, drain and set aside

Sauté onion until translucent

Beat eggs and add seasoning

Add cheeses, melted butter, olives and onions to eggs

Fold in noodles and pour mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish

Place in preheated 350-degree oven and bake for one hour or until set.

Serve with lamb for a real flavor of Greece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frumpy to Fabulous— Just Get Your Brim On

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Okay so you are having a bad hair day. But your make up is stellar. Your chins aren’t sagging as much as usual and that new cream is definitely helping your forehead lines. Your bloat is minimal and your confidence level is actually climbing above the tenth floor with a bullet.

And then suddenly, there it is; that horrible frizzy, root-tint needing, yucky haircut aggravation covering the top of your head.

Oy! If you look below your hairline you are fabulous, but lift those eyes and they want to roll back in your head.

The ultimate frumpy do. It screams bad hair day with a marching band in tow. What to do?

Okay, so I spent many years of my life pondering this quandary and settled for leaving the house with C- hair and an A made-up face.

Years ago I read a wonderful column by the late writer Erma Bombeck. She said every woman reaches a time in her life called the purple hat stage. It quite simply said that at some point it’s no longer worth the grief and to simply throw on a purple hat and greet the world with a smile.

I have now reached that time. I have far too little moments left in my lifetime bank account to spend it fighting with my hair.

However, I will not go gently or stylishly lacking into that purple hat stage of my life.

So I have begun to fill my closet with a cadre of fabulous hats.

Straws, wools, cloches, fedoras, but no berets or knit caps, not a flattering look on me.

I find most of them on sale and scout the better department stores to wait for sales until I pull out my credit card. After all it’s not like you need a hat immediately like a defibrillator.

Hats have changed my life.

I went from frumpy to fabulous, by plopping a fedora over my unmanageable locks.

No matter how horrible my do, I do not have to worry.

I simply don a hat and suddenly I am Greta Garbo, mysterious and intriguing and set apart from the crowd.

I am quite simply a woman of mystery. This is only because I live in America, in England not so much. They all wear them there.

The strange thing is that most women do look really good in a hat. I think it’s the way you wear it also that creates an aura.

A slight tip to one side adds some pizzazz. Lower on your forehead adds to the mystery. With a pair of sunglasses, the paparazzi will be chasing you down Beverly Hills streets.

I am not here to sell you hats of course. I just can’t believe what a difference they’ve made in my day.

You feel confident, unusual and glamorous and all without changing a thing about yourself.

I realize younger women with glorious, glowing locks have no need to cover even one hair, but at a certain age a woman’s hair thins and changes texture, and dare I say it, turns gray.

With my new hats roots are no longer a problem. Less time with goopy gobs of color on my head and more time to shop and meet friends, write, spend quality time with my grandsons and do charity work.

Hats not only enhance your looks, they add time to your life that is priceless.

Looking great is just a perk and one I’ll gladly embrace.

The real beauty of wearing a hat is that it allows you to be whomever you choose to be. Hats come in so many styles and colors you can change your mood with your head covering.

Shall I wear a wide brimmed model and be an international spy? Or perhaps a French cloche with a Coco Chanel vibe?

Or am I in the mood for a beachy, huge sunhat that protects me from any stray UV ray looking for a place to land?

I can wear a fur headband and look like I just left the slopes in Gstaad or a fun fascinator and look like I am headed for the Savoy for high tea.

Hats can take you from frumpy to fabulous in a matter of minutes. However, there is a caveat. You must commit to a hat for if you plan to take it off at any point in the day or evening, you’ll need a plan B. Hair will not be improved by the wearing.

But that’s even easy. Just pop it back on and you are fabulous again. So go hat shopping and find the particular style that enhances your features and creates the mood you are seeking.

Be all you can be and more and face the world with your brim on.

Easy Cabbage Casserole

1 head of cabbage

1 large bottle of tomato juice

1 can of tomato puree

1 cup of brown sugar

1 tsp sour salt

1 pound of ground beef

1 small onion

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

½ tsp onion powder

3 cups of rice cooked

 

Wash and cut up cabbage and set aside.

Sauté onion in a tablespoon of oil until soft.

Add salt and pepper and one cup of cooked rice to raw beef and set aside.

Mix together tomato juice and puree. Add brown sugar and sour salt. Taste to ensure you have the sweet and sour taste you like. If taste needs adjusting add more sugar or sour salt until you are happy with flavor.

Spray deep casserole dish and place a layer of puree mix on bottom. Add a layer of cabbage and then ground beef layer and then top with puree. Continue until puree is covering top of casserole.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 for an hour or until cabbage and beef are cooked.

Serve with rice and Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comedians Do God’s Work

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A quick yuk…My old aunts would come and tease me at weddings, “Well Sarah? Do you think you’ll be next?”
This ended quickly once I started doing the same to them at funerals.

Doctors get a lot of hype and of course they eat it up. Jokes about doctors confusing themselves with God are mythic, but I have another top nominee in the category for doing God’s work, Comedians.

Seriously you say? Comics? Aren’t they screwed up, self-destructive psychos prone to drugs and childish behavior?

Okay, true, there is that, but let me make my case here.

First not all comics are like that.

Sure some are, but even the ones who are may be the ones that spread the most laughter and do the most good.

Case in point, Sam Kinison.

Drugs, craziness and rock n roll, no one is arguing that point. But anyone who knew Sam saw a pussycat of a person. His loud screaming persona was an act to cover the pain.

So that’s my point. Many who are suffering and in pain turn to negative behavior to act out. Comics spread laughter and cheer. Hashtag: spreading joy.

Any comic that ever stood on a stage understands the feeling of holding an audience in the palm of their hand and the satisfaction that comes with a joke that works and a set that kills. Does it ease the pain or change the past or fill the hole inside? Perhaps or not, but for a moment the universe is engulfed in robust earsplitting laughter.

Each guffaw carries through the air and reaches corners and caverns once dark and dank. Hearts and minds are opened and the world lights up with a bright, happy vibe.

One of my fondest memories of doing stand-up comedy was a night at Catch a Rising Star at the MGM Grand. After the show a women came up to me and hugged me. She said, “Thank you so much. I had the most horrible day today and you made me laugh so hard. I really appreciated the laughs.” What can you say after that?

Most comics I know are the happiest after a great set. They thrive on the laughter and love hearing an audience rocking and rolling while listening to their words. One of the best feelings ever.

I believe one of the greatest gifts a person can possess is a sense of humor. It should be obvious to most that despots and evildoers have no sense of humor, to them funny is murdering, hating and spreading fear. Jolly is not in their vocabulary.

Why does everyone love Santa Claus? Okay, aside from the goodies he delivers, it is so much more. Santa is a red-cheeked jolly old guy who laughs and his belly shakes.

This is the picture he evokes in people’s minds and it is why he brings smiles.

Laughter equals happy. People who are laughing together can’t be arguing, fighting and beating one another up. They can’t be planning evil deeds while they are doubled over with deep belly laughs.

It’s actually quite simple; we need more laughs, more fun and more positive vibes spreading across the planet.

Comedians do their part to create this cosmic flow of laughter and for that they should be cheered, praised and appreciated.

As Mark Twain once said, “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” When we have the greatest ammunition against pain and hurt available for free, we should be laughing all day long.

In an effort to spread more smiles here is my recipe for yummy Waldorf cake or quick bread.

 Waldorf Salad Quick Bread

2 Cups All-Purpose Flour

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

1 Cup Walnuts

2 Cups Cooking Apples

1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, softened

1/2 Cup White Sugar

1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

2 Eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 Cup half and half

Mix together flour, salt, baking powder and salt and set aside. Cream together sugars and butter and add eggs. Continue mixing until incorporated. Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with half and half finishing with flour. Do not over mix. Add apples and walnuts and mix gently. Pour into loaf pan or small Bundt pan well greased and bake at 350 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cover with topping before serving.

Topping

1 Cup mayo

1 Cup sour cream

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 Cup chopped celery

1 Cup chopped grapes

 

 

 

 

I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts, Now Robots…

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I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts! Now Robots…

 

Last night I had a nightmare. No not about monsters or a werewolf that looked remarkably like Michael Landon. It wasn’t even about my last blind date, strange as that may seem.

It was about Google.

And what’s so scary about Google you ask.

It’s watching us. It’s Big Brother come to life. It’s George Orwell’s worst nightmare and now it’s ours.

In my dream I was hiding inside my house while a little Google robot that was mainly eyes was floating outside my windows peering inside. I was crawling on the floor to escape detection but it hovered outside my windows and every time I looked up it was there. I would scream and duck and it continued to float like a headless object outside watching me like a secret service agent watches the crowds.

Grow up you say. It was only a silly dream. But was it really?

In case you’re wondering what brought on this sudden burst of irrational Googlenoia, it started with Siri.

Oh sure innocent enough except that my Siri, which is only supposed to talk when spoken to…I have an older Iphone…has begun taking it upon herself to start a conversation for no apparent reason or prompting on my part. Yet when I ask her a question directly she acts as though I’m speaking a language she’s never even heard of?

“Siri how do I get to 335 Maple Drive?”

“Here are the directions for 772 Elm Street.”

I first noticed her new chatty habit when I was baking one day and pulled a cake out of the oven. “Perfect,” I said to no one in particular.

From the living room I heard a voice say, “thank you for saying that, but I’m not perfect.”

Not only does she speak to me she contradicts me! Is she so neurotic she can’t take a compliment?

“No, I’m not perfect!!”

What’s next, a tirade against her motherboard for her dysfunctional childhood?

Siri’s problems aside I thought it a fluke of nature and found it rather funny. So much so I related the incident to my daughter at her home a few weeks later.

Siri was charging on the kitchen counter and I was telling my daughter about the incident while she looked at me like a child who is thinking she should start looking for a good nursing home for her mother when suddenly Siri decided to join the conversation.

My daughter looked over and said. Oh my gosh, that is so annoying.

Well yes, but at least Siri’s response will keep me on the streets and out of a nursing home a little longer.

“See,” I said. “It’s true she talks to me all the time now.”

My daughter just shook her head in that only-to-my-mother-does-this-happen way she has and I just went back to playing with my grandsons.

Who Siri went on to talk to next I have no idea, nor do I care.

Now it has become a regular thing. When the TV is on Siri will comment on something spoken.

I just agree and move on.

Shortly thereafter my daughter bought one of those Google robots for the home and that lasted less than a week before it went bye bye.

Annoying? Yes, but then why scary?

Because they are listening all the time!

The FBI recommends you put tape over your computer camera screen opening because someone could be watching you.

Well that’s their bad luck because when I’m on the computer I’m usually in my robe and glasses and looking like the wrath of God.

If they are expecting to see Cindy Crawford good luck Mr. Snoopy, not here, not today.

Today’s generation is acclimated to a lack of privacy. They grow up with Iphones, computers and robots in their homes.

I wasn’t. My robot model was Hal in 2001 and that’s not a good thing.

And although the Jetsons painted a rosy future of a robot named Rosy to clean up after us, the world never delivered.

Oh sure Isaac Asimov would have us believe that the three laws of robots precluded them from harming man, but hello! STUFF HAPPENS.

The feeling someone is listening to what I say, hovering above me—welcome to the world of drones on top of everything else literally—and watching what I do, to me is offensive and frightening.

Now I have to worry that drones will be falling from the sky unto my head. Where’s Chicken Little when you need him?

Of course it’s not that I’m plotting to rob the Tower of London or sneak into the subway, it’s that it makes me feel violated and uncomfortable. It’s just plain creepy.

I can’t change overnight just because the new world is so accepting of Big Brother’s presence.

From what I can remember he wasn’t a good thing, right?

So, why is it now so okay to spy on people and collect all my information, personal and otherwise and make it public?

It isn’t, and that’s the point.

Perhaps we are too accepting now. We should rail against this new world where our lives are open for business 24/7 and there is no respect for our private space.

I fear it’s too late now. My computer just winked at me and Siri stuck out her tongue. I suppose I’ll have to accept that next an army of robots will descend upon us, capture us all and make us their slaves.

I think they already have and no one knows yet.

Well I don’t care, I’m not putting on lipstick to sit on my computer so take your chances.

Okay so I ain’t afraid of no ghosts, but robots well that’s a whole other thing.

 

Mexi-Corn Chowder

 

2 cups of chicken bullion

2 cups cream

2 ears of corn roasted

½ cup red peppers

½ cup yellow peppers

½ cup red peppers

¼ cup green chilies

1 small onion chopped

¼ cup chopped jalapeno peppers without the seeds

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon cilantro

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes if you desire more heat.

 

 

Rub about two large ears of corn with butter and a sprinkle of salt. Remove kernels from the cob and set aside.

Sauté onion in butter and when translucent add chopped peppers, chilies, corn and seasonings. When softened add soup and sauté for another ten minutes. Using a hand blender blend together about half the soup. This will thicken it and when done add cream. Stir and simmer for another five minutes on low heat.

Serve with shredded cheese or popcorn on top.