Darrin Stephens was the worst husband ever! Sadder even was Samantha’s complete acquiescence to his demanding and irrational behavior toward who and what she was.
Sadly, when I was a child I failed to grasp the subtle messages inherent in the Bewitched series, one of the more popular television shows of its era. Television was our social media and our influencers were the characters on our favorite shows each week. No wonder we bought the hype of the times and in the end paid a price.
Oh sure Darrin came off as a long suffering mortal with a witch of a mother-in-law, but who was really the villain in this scenario? And didn’t Endora have good reason to despise her misogynistic son-in-law?
Samantha’s desire to live within the rules set by her tyrant of a husband still leave me speechless.
In one episode she is cleaning the oven when Endora enters the kitchen and is quite perturbed to see her daughter doing housework.
Endora’s disgust is totally understandable, but Samantha’s contentment with her housewifely duties is also quite shocking.
If one sees her behavior as a lark and enjoying living the life of a mortal woman, well okay, I imagine we can all understand that mindset. We can also understand that any woman in her right mind would be thrilled to twitch her nose and a second later witness a sparkling house with no effort. Now I don’t know about you but if I could zap my stove clean, scrub the floors or have the dirty laundry show up clean and folded in the drawers, I’d opt for that solution in a New York minute.
However, the fact the real theme of Bewitched is not that Darrin Stephens married a witch, but that he was constantly and angrily forcing her to abandon her nature and behave as a mortal is what frosts my cookies. His constant reminders that he is the “King” of his castle are enough to make a modern woman puke and cast him as one of the most reprehensible characters in television history.
Unless of course her magic suits his purposes and then it is welcomed. Can you say hypocrite?
The message here goes much deeper than simply Samantha choosing to live a mortal life.
It is a man dominating a woman and forbidding her to be who she is. Simply perpetrating the myth that women are subservient to men.
Sounds like the fifties to me.
Darrin’s constant rants about being the head of the household and demanding she stop using witchcraft, becomes more egregious when his daughter is born a witch and he then outlaws her nature as well. Sadly, it is hard to watch for it takes me back to a time when women were expected to do the bidding of their husbands and act as society deemed a proper wife should, cleaning, cooking and childcare.
I am absolutely not saying those are not wonderfully virtuous aspects of a woman’s life, but it should be her choice. No one should diminish any choice a woman makes that will fulfill her and make her happy.
Samantha was a witch and as such she was privy to powers and abilities far greater than ordinary women could imagine.
Yet Darrin insisted over and over in a rather screeching tone by the way, she not use her powers or simply put, just be who she is.
At this point I must stress that I am well aware it was a comedy and make believe, and no I don’t believe in witches, but of course Tinkerbell is another issue.
Yet the theme of the show, husband against wife or witch, his power over her powers and her inability to be herself and have to sneak around just to be her true self, is yet another reason women of the fifties were brainwashed into such behavior. Of course there is always Lucy who wants to be in Ricky’s show and need I say more?
This is not comedy to women who were raised in a time when their opportunities were limited to what society and their father’s felt was appropriate for women. Raised in a home where women were expected to be no more than wives and mothers and a daughter’s duty was to get her MRS degree and provide her parents with grandchildren and a successful husband I can speak firsthand of the damage these attitudes can inflict.
A man demanding we be something other than what we were, denying our visions or dreams for ourselves and having to bow to the male order sentenced too many women to failure to live up to their potential and achieve their dreams.
Watching reruns of this show I wince at his very vocal demands that Samantha bend to his will.
Perhaps even sadder is the fact Samantha continues to use her powers behind Darrin’s back. That he hates his mother-in-law because she simply wants her daughter to be who she truly is and have the life she was raised to enjoy is selfish and petty.
Samantha’s desire to live mortally feels hollow in that she continues to use her powers and thus has not truly committed to a life without witchcraft. Is a good marriage one that has both partners hiding and sneaking around to do the things they enjoy, but the other forbids?
Using her abilities proves she is comfortable with her own self and is only bowing to his demands to please him. This is even sadder that a woman would deny herself to appease a man.
During the fifties and early sixties women in sitcoms were powerless and had to resort to sneaky tactics to achieve their will. I believe “Father Knows Best” says it all.
This lesson was never lost on young girls watching and believing the husband rules and women must be clever and hide their true self.
It was the Darrin Stephens of the world that set the women’s movement back by years. Watching a woman as attractive as Elizabeth Montgomery married to a dork like Dick York is tough enough to buy, but the fact she is capable of twitching her nose to improve her life and change the world and is forbidden to do so is just sad.
Darrin Stephens is just representative of how women were held back and chained to a paradigm that forbade them freedom of choice over their own lives.
Young women today would never tolerate such weakness in their role models. Although the women’s movement made a great first effort, it failed to take into account the fact that some women did choose to be housewives and mothers and this was their prerogative as well. Whatever lifestyle a woman wants she should be able to select for herself.
Women have shown time and again they are very capable of multi tasking their lives. Of course one’s priorities should be in the right places and hopefully the things that truly matter will always be in the forefront. Yet it is not fair to tell a woman how to live, what to choose or what she is capable of in this world. No one should be a Darrin Stephens and dictate who one should be.
Unconditional love and acceptance is what we strive to find in this life and I can definitely tell you it didn’t exist on Bewitched.
Sound Bites from Memory Hell and NBC
Wally Cleaver died!
Wally who you ask? Well if you did and you are a Baby Boomer you either grew up without a television or lived on Mars.
Anyone who existed before the advent of color TV knows Wally was the Beaver’s brother, or as some may also know him, Eddie Haskell’s best friend.
Tony Dow was only 77 years old, and no I can’t believe I would ever put the word only in front of 77 years old, and he’s certainly left me feeling mortal. Yet incredibly nostalgic for the great old shows I loved as a kid.
When I remember childhood so much excitement and comfort existed within the confines of that box in the living room playing moving pictures. This new and awesome friend became the babysitter, entertainer and object of amazement as we sat, eyes glued and sucking in the wonder.
The shock of growing older is stifled by the amazing ability we humans have to live in a permanent state of denial about aging. Unless we are faced with an-in-your-face situation like illness or we trip over our own boob when we remove our bra, we can pretty much go along believing we are still in our thirties and all life lies ahead.
Please do not for one moment think I’m surprised a celebrity could die. I do not labor under the delusion that because you’ve been on television or starred on the big screen you are immortal. Although, actually in a crazy sense you are and our favorite shows provide a sense of that earth-standing-still mentality. Characters and plots, always constant offer some feeling of assurance things haven’t really changed despite the reality that exists when we turn away from our television screen.
So many programs have casts now gone to celebrity heaven. Their only problem is there are no agents in heaven and therefore no multi million-dollar deals. Too sad, yet residuals aside I’m certain we’d all be happy to know that Samantha is still tweaking her nose, The Golden Girls are still listening to Rose’s St. Olaf stories and Roy Rogers and Trigger are still catching the bad guys.
Soupy Sales is throwing pies at the angels, Granny Clampett is still swimming in the ceement pond and Barney Fyfe is screwing up and getting haircuts from Floyd the Barber. Ozzie Nelson never leaves the house to go to work, Perry Mason always has the killer on the stand five minutes before the end of the show, Ben Cartwright has four grown, unmarried sons living with him on the Ponderosa, The Twilight Zone is creeping everyone out and Groucho Marks is still smoking a cigar and waiting for the duck to drop down. Oh yes, Father Knows Best, Jack Benny is playing that violin and The Real McCoys still are. Maverick is playing poker and looking damn good, Donna Reed is making oatmeal at eight in the morning in a silk shirtwaist, heels and pearls. (Yeah, like that ever happened in real life. My mother was still in her nightgown when I got home from school).
Dobie Gillis is chasing women and Maynard G. Krebs is still allergic to work. Dick Clark is at the bandstand looking twenty-five, never aging and introducing Frankie Avalon. Danny Thomas is hoping to Make Room for Daddy, Death Valley still is, Bugs Bunny is dressing up with a mop on his head and lipstick to entice the Tasmanian Devil and the Naked City never got dressed. Wagon Train is heading west and Chester is limping on Gunsmoke while Miss Kitty wears those feather boas around her neck. Jack Webb is getting “just the facts, Mam” on Dragnet, Ralph Cramden is driving a bus and Norton is addressing the ball on The Honeymooners. We always love Lucy although she still has some splainin to do.
The Flying Nun hasn’t landed, and believe it or not the professor can figure out how to make a radio, but not how to fix the boat so they all remain on Gilligan’s Island.
That Girl lives in an expensive New York apartment and dresses in couture while working part time, and Hogan’s Heroes are outwitting the Germans because Shultz “knows nothing.”
Jeannie walks around with her navel uncovered and sleeps in a bottle, Mission Impossible still is and on Green Acres Eva Gabor dresses every day for an inaugural ball and possessed the first Glam Squad. Get Smart is hanging out in the cone of silence and Petticoat Junction is well, yeah, right. Colombo, like every real-life detective figures out the killer in the first two minutes and Beep Beep Rosie is cleaning The Jetsons’ house. And when is she coming to clean mine already?
Sky King is flying around heaven and Uncle Miltie is dressing up as a woman and making us all laugh. Buddy Sorrell is insulting Mel Cooley while Laura Petrie is yelling, “Oh Rob”.
The Brady Bunch is surrounded by avocado green appliances and wood paneled rooms, My Favorite Martian is living with Bill Bixby and moving his head antenna up and down unable to leave earth. Lassie is saving Timmy and Lois Lane hasn’t figured out the guy she’s in love with is really Clark Kent. Sid Caesar does the best fake accents anywhere on Your Show of Shows and Gracie Allen is a lovable airhead while George just smokes his cigar and patiently grins. Red Skelton is still Clem Kadiddlehopper, Our Miss Brooks is unsuccessfully lusting after Mr. Boynton and Abbot and Costello are asking, “Who’s on first?”
My Little Margie is driving her dad Charlie Farrell and his boss Mr. Honeywell crazy which is why Farrell went on to open The Racket Club in Palm Springs when land there was five dollars an acre. December Bride is living with her children while they search to find her a husband and Liberace is still in the closet sporting a candelabra for some additional class.
Ernie Kovacs’ wackiness and brilliance remains greatly missed by all and I Married Joan introduced Jim Backus who went on be Mr. Magoo and Thurston Howell the III. Mr. Peepers is a shy science professor who’s not as scatterbrained as people think, and Fury is still a magnificent black stallion.
Red Buttons is singing Hidiho and F Troop can’t find their way out of a paper bag. The Life of Riley still is and Ann Southern continues to be a very Private Secretary. Topper remains plagued with ghosts and an alcoholic St. Bernard and The Millionaire’s Michael Anthony refuses to drop off my check.
Yo Rinty! Need I add more?
The Bob Cummings Show has Alice B. Davis madly in love with her boss but getting nowhere, which is probably why she left and became Alice on The Brady Bunch.
Sgt. Bilko is the best con man in any man’s army and actually managed to get a monkey, Harry Speak Up inducted. Lest we ever forget Sheena Queen of the Jungle or how no week could ever begin properly without The Ed Sullivan Show?
But of course no list of great shows could ever be complete without the Mouse. I had my ears ready every day while Jimmy Dodd and Big Roy led the Mouseketeers through the theme of that day’s show. My favorite was Friday when Spin and Marty at the Double R Bar Ranch, Annette and all fun series were featured. Although, Anything-Can-Happen Day on Wednesdays was pretty damn good stuff too.
I know I’ve left some oldies but goodies out so you could fill in your favorites. Please send me any I’ve forgotten and your thoughts on those shows. Hey! Why do I have to do all the work here? Just kidding, I love remembering all the happy moments these shows brought into my life as a kid and even today. I hope I just brought some new smiles to you.
Getting Old Sucks!
No, I don’t want to hear anyone say, “Sure, but it’s better than the alternative.”
Excuse me, but no one really knows that for sure do they? For all we know the alternative could be Wonkaland or a hut over the water in Bora Bora. Or maybe a massage every day throughout eternity and then a buffet filled with your favorite foods minus calories. Or surrounded by the people you love all the time and they aren’t allowed to criticize you or get on your nerves.
So now that we’ve put the whole best alternative myth to rest let’s get real shall we?
I seem to spend most of my time lately between doctor visits and healing from surgeries to replace broken parts, talking about the past.
Friends and I commiserate about the good old days when childhood was simple, and how we actually walked back and forth to school, alone. In winter we’d wrap up in ten layers of jackets, undershirts (which my father insisted I wear over my bra) then march out into the cold snowy day alongside a friend.
I still have a difficult time reconciling how I walked so much as a kid, even home for lunches, played outside, yet still was fat. What’s up with that? I guess I’m over the exercise-keeps-you-thin theories.
I read a study years ago that because Baby Boomers were so active as kids it is easier for us to get back into shape again, than for our children to get into shape in the first place.
Supposedly our muscle memory is still there waiting in the wings for us to run a marathon or walk miles.
Excuse me? As a friend reminded me when hearing that piece of information, her muscle memory now has dementia. I found it hard to argue with that diagnosis. When I call upon my body to pick its flabby ass up off the couch and walk the miles through Costco, it answers me with some incredibly salty language I choose not to repeat.
“Hello, Norma to muscle memory. Wake up and come on down.”
I never knew a muscle was capable of giving someone the finger.
I totally understand why our memories can instantly remember over fifty years ago yet forget last week. Thinking about the wonderful times with friends and family when we were young in a far easier world is a special kind of comfort. One usually reserved for a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie or that first bite of turkey and stuffing on Thanksgiving.
There is definite pleasure in recalling happy moments when we were carefree, and remembering to come in the house when the streetlights came on was our only responsibility.
Of course everyone knows that old age is challenging and some seem to coast through while others have to schlep along. Is the difference good genes, attitude, sheer luck or perhaps something else?
I think it may be a combination of all with a hefty dose of genetics thrown in for good measure.
To me it seems those who truly cope well are those who’ve lightened their load.
No, I don’t mean weight, at least not in the sense you might think.
I’m referring to lightening the heavy burden of regrets, hurts, anger and sadness we all carry with us attached to our hearts in an invisible sack.
Should we, how could we, had we, why didn’t we, are the words that still haunt and drag us down every time we say or think them.
If I had only, how could I have thought, etc. are the banes of our existence when we are older.
So many times we forget what a negative effect they impart, and so many times those negative feelings can actually manifest into actual physical symptoms and illnesses.
We get loaded down and then suddenly the world seems hopeless. Our immune system is crying out for help under the weight of all the useless baggage and life becomes a bit overwhelming and disappointing.
Not all of us give in to those feelings but many do, and they seem to be the ones that suffer most and have less fun.
I have a friend that finds it almost impossible to let go of anything in her closet. Those forty pairs of black pants are an absolute necessity for her.
Too many are the same way with their emotional pants. Letting go is hard whether it be a favorite jacket, an old piece of furniture or the regrets and pain of the past.
Sometimes it’s easier just accepting the impossibility of getting through life without screwing up something somewhere. Yet I wonder what we’d all change if we had the opportunity?
The Butterfly Effect where one change in the past can set a whole different outcome into motion is a powerful deterrent.
I like to think if we look around we can all find at least ten things every day to be grateful for and happy about. Okay so we don’t always look, including me, but we should.
So in the end I guess it’s about focus. Recalling happy times in the past is fun and comforting as long as we spend just as much time enjoying the present. Planning fun and interesting things to do in this moment.
Is it easy to get bored? You bet! Yet with very little effort we can all pull out that bucket list and find something fun we haven’t yet done or accomplished and set out to do it immediately.
I’ve heard so many people say that happiness is a choice and to some extent it is. Sure there are going to be tough times when you can’t fool yourself into thinking there is any way to find any good in your situation.
Perhaps that’s why we must be happy right now, so if the bad times come (hopefully not) at least we know that someday after the bad the good can return once more.
Yep, getting old can suck, but it can also be a pretty great time, even though maybe not all the time.
A Special Thank You to Old Friends
It’s been quite a shockeroo getting older. Although I’m grateful to still be at the party, my feet really hurt from dancing. I’ve gained a bit of experience good and bad and that has led to many truths I now embrace.
One of the realizations I’ve come to is that despite time and distance, we need to care about and keep in touch with old friends.
The laugh laugh golden years are as scary a place to enter as the New York subway,. We seek comfort in this new uncharted world and one sure place to which we can turn for help is old friends.
Memories become so fickle when your brain becomes the arbiter of what we are able to remember.
“Excuse me, brain what did I do last week?”
“Sorry, can’t compute right now. However do you remember when you were in high school and you went to that concert with your friends and drove to Canada and…?”
“No, Brain. I’m trying to recall what I did last Thursday not a hundred years ago.”
“Bossy bossy, don’t push your luck here. Take what you can get. Your request will take a few minutes to pull up, meanwhile here’s a fun gem from your sorority initiation.”
“Great, thanks, brain. Just what I need to cheer me up, a visual of me at twenty.”
As these older memories become more prevalent, old friends rise to the forefront of our minds. It somehow feels good to recall happy, carefree times and the friends with whom we shared them.
As we’re making an appointment for our knee surgery, it’s comforting to call an old friend that has survived that battle. And while you’re chatting good memories surface to dispel the unpleasantness of reality.
I never thought I would have anything in common with Lindsey Wagner except being female, but now it seems we are both bionic.
The last few years have been brutal for most of us occupying planet earth. Locked down, shut in and unable to travel or see grandchildren has taken a toll on the happiness factor to which we all aspire.
Even the most optimistic of us can’t ignore or rebuff the realities of growing older. Taking ten minutes to straighten up from a chair when once we jumped up and ran. Marching into surgery centers to get replacement parts that are done with such automated precision General Motors is envious. Finding fat where muscle once occupied space in our bodies becomes apparent when a good wind perfectly directed at our underarms can turn us into the Flying Nun. The fun amusement park of growing older has more rides than Hunter Biden has drugs.
A friend admitted recently that she is now perfectly content to be home more. Where once she would seek to be active and out in the world she is content to be safe in her cocoon and needn’t travail the outside world as often. I could relate.
Yet when we are home, despite all efforts to keep our minds busy with activities like, streaming, reading, cooking, chatting on the phone with friends, and how we failed to save the world for democracy, we have more time to think about “the good old days,” and those with whom we traveled that road.
Shared memories can lighten the load of a difficult day. Remembering happy times brightens what might be a sad time when you learn a friend is ill or you lose someone. For just a moment while we are talking we become young once more and still filled with those awe-and-wonder feelings of youth.
Of course we all determine to keep busy and active. To make the most of every minute and live in a state of gratitude, thankful for our blessings, but when life throws us a curveball old friends are there to catch it before it hits you in the head.
I’m not in any way suggesting we live in the past, but let’s be real; the past contains a lot of years and a lot of memories. Moments that make us feel warm and cozy and contain laughter and the joys of youth. What a great feeling if even for a few minutes that young and carefree shared happiness returns and brightens our lives.
So many of us now leave the holiday cooking to our daughters or daughters in law to achieve. Standing in the kitchen has become a chore not so easily accomplished and we’re happy to pass the torch to our children.
Still those pre-holiday times remain a time of joyous memories. My friend Marsha and I would talk on the phone while preparing mashed potato dumplings. Chatting and laughing made the time pass quicker, and the task of cooking for thirty people less tedious. Now at holiday time speaking to Marcia brings back the happy feeling of the family all together again, parents, in laws and even husbands that are no longer here. For even a brief conversation everyone is once again alive and sharing a holiday meal.
Old friends can give this gift to us, the remembrance of a time when those who’ve left are once again at the forefront of our happiest memories. Places we haunted as kids, schools we attended and old neighborhood foods and faces return.
The challenges of getting older seem easier when shared. As any difficult task many hands make quick work and it’s comforting to know those whom you trust have the audacity to face Father Time head on.
Putting up a sukkah with friends was quite an occasion each year and now the feel of autumn while talking to Yolanda brings those memories close. An over abundance of food, the smell of the branches, watching in my mind’s eye as my children, now young again, place the leaves on the walls as the crisp autumn air encircles them in a blanket of laughter and love.
I was lucky to have so many friends I cared and still care about. Although my childhood friend Nancy is in Florida a Facetime call brings her into the same room to laugh and gossip about our crowd. Okay, and good practice at ignoring the now-evident wrinkles.
I suppose I’m the overly sentimental type but I know when I speak to old friends time slips away like a curtain and pictures of wonderful times reappear.
I imagine we all wonder what it would be like to pick one moment to relive once again, yet all of these times are available by simply sharing them through a phone call or Facetime. Perhaps this is the universe’s gift to us and as far as I can see it seems to be working just fine.
No Yin to Soften the Yang
Maybe America Needs a Royal Family
Life is a process and must possess a delicate balance. The Chinese expression yin and yang has always referred to the state of being that creates a fulfilling and stable life.
Sadly in today’s world chaos and insanity are out of proportion and out of control.
So what does this mean for individuals that seek happiness and contentment, that long for equilibrium?
Well one could look to England for inspiration. Just go with me here for a minute.
In 1960 the United States found itself in a new position. That young family in the White House was not simply the first couple, but for the first time the closest thing to royalty in United States history. Now of course our forefathers, who in their infinite wisdom foresaw the dangers of a monarchy were probably correct. Even George Washington was loath to be President because he thought it might too closely resemble a kingship. Okay, so they gave us Uncle Sam as a consolation prize and he’s a favorite, unless he’s been cancelled, I’m not sure.
Yet look at the facts. The Kennedy dynasty’s indiscretions, with a patriarch far less than noble, were pretty much kept under wraps. With no Internet information access was in quite a different state. The Kennedy brothers’ reputations as womanizers weren’t acknowledged and American people only saw a young, elegant and beautiful couple to admire and hold in high esteem.
When Jackie went to France and captivated the French by speaking their language then enthralled De Gaulle and Khrushchev, we watched proudly. This was our first lady and probably the closest thing to a queen America would ever know. Ah, Camelot was alive and well in D.C..
Americans felt a deep sense of pride over the Kennedys. Her sophistication, elegance and style rubbed off and every woman wanted a pillbox hat or a Jackie style suit. Women copied her hairstyle and men were in awe of her beauty; women by her grace and femininity. We were thrilled to be able to say, “That’s our President and First Lady.” They rivaled any stars in Hollywood and of course we weren’t aware he was sleeping with one.
Of course we all know things have changed dramatically. We no longer view politicians as anything but subhuman and we hold no illusions. Our repulsion returns each November when we are forced to cast a vote for either bad or horrible and those of us who remember the age of innocence are saddened. Oh to be dumb once more.
So I imagine that’s why many Americans are so possessed with the British Royal family. Yes, I’ll say it, “they look to the Queen as their rock and their comfort and in bad times she is there.” She’s the Mom of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, strong, tough and never veers off course. No matter what chaos reigns around her she steadfastly faces it down. She’s the Queen and they are her loyal subjects.
She brings some stability even when their politicians behave like, well politicians, and act reprehensively and corruptly. They have the Queen to fall back on. It is Her Majesty’s government after all.
Who can Americans look to when our politicians make us sicker to our stomachs than a night of binge drinking and downing tacos? No one! We can’t look to our Queen to reassure us all is well in the kingdom when it is far from that.
So we are forced to face this new reality alone without a monarch.
Horrifying suicide rates, rising crime, inflation and having to sell your house to fill your gas tank. What does this do to a person’s psyche?
When I was younger life seemed easier. Despite difficult times one could look forward to a happy occasion or event to take the edge off. There were weddings, confirmations, sweet sixteens, holiday gatherings and other upbeat events to allow one to forget the sadness of the week.
The last three years in the world there has been an overabundance of yang with no ying to soften the blow.
We have been cut off from the world and even now attending parties or events comes at a risk.
The world is always changing and yet humans could cope by depending on the comfort of a happy time to ease the difficulty of a crisis. We need more joy, more parties, perhaps although it will never happen, our own Queen.
Many have ventured out into the world deciding against allowing the forces of evil to impede their ability to live a full life. This has worked out well for some and not so much for others, but risk assessment is an individual’s prerogative.
So I guess we’re on our own here in the USA. By the way there is a rumor Uncle Sam has COVID so we may be out of luck there, too.
“Cinderella is proof a new pair of shoes can change your life”
The other day I was watching one of the home shopping channels and it was Christmas in July, definitely one of the more brilliant marketing ploys in modern times. Who isn’t dreaming of Christmas while you’re sweating by the pool? Well, there I am watching twinkle lights, artificial trees and gold colored bells and lights at twenty times the price as the dollar store.
So why do people buy all this stuff and these networks make billions?
Infomercials aside, and yes Cindy Crawford is gorgeous and if I thought I would look like her I’d buy her face creams all day long, the home shopping channels have cornered the market on couch potato spending. And let’s not forget the pandemic’s contribution to all this. Point and click and ten pounds of cookies can be yours.
I shall now divulge their secrets, not that it will in any way deter us from falling into their highly effective sales traps. They are good and we are hooked.
In case one hasn’t noticed every celebrity and their mother now has a product on these stations. I saw the Pope last week hawking cinnamon communion wafers and it was the daily special! Such a deal! There are over a billion Catholics in the world so you do the math. You could also buy them on auto ship, another incredible sales ploy.
So why do we buy all this stuff we don’t need? Aside from the fact our favorite celebrities are selling it there is another reason. They pound every product into your head until you’re certain if you don’t buy that new drain cleaner your house will flood, no man will ever look at you again unless you’re wearing that new magic formula make up and yes, this new beauty cream is guaranteed to make you look ten years younger so why spend money on plastic surgery. It’s a damn public service they’re doing.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen them present a new product and I shook my head and said to myself, who in their right mind would buy that? By the end of the show I am convinced I need those scissors with the built in hedge clipper and rush to call in before it’s sold out. And I don’t even have any hedges!
Can anyone live without the most comfortable bras, the most gorgeous Christmas twinkling lights in a set of three colors or a house cleaner that does everything and even doubles as a mixer with vodka after you’re through cleaning.
A very important component to these channels is they fill in the lonely hours for many people who become attached to the hosts.
Regular viewers call in with comments and the hosts recognize the names, whether they actually do or not they react that way. Listeners happily tell the host they just bought four pairs of Diamonique earrings for Christmas gifts as though they’d just won the lottery.
Shopping becomes personal despite the fact you’re doing it with millions of other people. The late Joan Rivers realized very quickly that her customers translated into more fans at her comedy performances and she mastered the art of forming relationships that added more cha ching to her whole bank thing.
One downside to the experience is the number of times products arrive and are far from what you expect. Luckily returns are a no brainer and customers do have the option of leaving reviews about everything that’s sold. Just a tip here, it’s a damn good idea to check these out before making that call.
They have made it so easy to buy all you need to do is dial the number and you are immediately recognized. Hello sucker (fill in name here) are you calling for item number 123456? What color, how many and do you want a flexible payment method?
That’s the best! You can buy some fifty-dollar piece of crap and take three years without interest to pay it off. Who can resist, it’s like free? Hey wait do I need a fifth air fryer? Well damn it is only five dollars a month so why not?
No wonder the retail stores are in trouble. When you walk through Macy’s there is merchandise on a rack, an occasional mannequin and good luck even finding a salesperson anymore. I wonder what would happen if salespeople started grabbing you and talking up products until you buy. Can you say lawsuit?
On these shows there is a very well-trained host or hostess selling selling selling until you finally give in and purchase that fart filter for your husband even though he’s been dead ten years.
Like a barker at a carnival the hosts go after you convincing you this or that is a necessity you can’t live without and you buy.
Doctors show up with their own pills or make up or creams and that home liposuction kit will eliminate that midriff bulge in twenty minutes.
Even celebrity chefs spend hours on the channel hawking cookware until you’re convinced your eggs could never taste good again unless they’re fried in that chef’s non-stick pan. Even popular hosts sell their own products, have cookbooks of their own recipes and have garnered millions of fans to serve their own retail agenda.
There is nothing you can’t buy on television. Furniture, clothing, food, tools, dishes, toys and I’m waiting for a daily special on a car before trading in my old one.
This is the epitome of American ingenuity and marketing so a big bravo to them. Capitalism is alive and well on television and reigns supreme.
Well I have to go perfect a piece of junk I’m working on to sell to one of the channels, so see you on TV. Oh wait, is that an earwax candle kit? Wow that definitely takes recycling to a whole new level. Happy shopping, everyone!
“Innocent sleep. Sleep that soothes away all our worries. Sleep that puts each day to rest. Sleep that relieves the weary laborer and heals hurt minds. Sleep, the main course in life’s feast, and the most nourishing.” Macbeth.
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie and Please Teach Me How
Like getting older doesn’t bring enough fun surprises; little things appearing on your body from who knows where, foods you always enjoyed determined to go ten rounds with your digestive ability and always losing your glasses to the top of your head. Now sleep depravation is a new wrinkle with which to contend.
It’s hard to believe now that I was never a great sleeper. As a child I fought sleep with every particle of my being, frightened I would miss something of cosmic importance while my head was ensconced in my fluffy pillow. Of course now I realize at this age such events would be a good thing to miss.
I would do everything to avoid my bedtime using pleas of “one more show, please, I didn’t see Uncle Miltie yet, can’t I watch the fights with Grandpa or I hear the Northern Lights are heading toward Michigan and I want to see if they show up.”
These excuses fell on deaf ears so I contented myself to lie in bed listening to my Zenith clock radio until midnight when my favorite show Lee Allen on the Horn closed with Frank Sinatra’s classic I Can’t Get Started With You. Then I would succumb to dreamland unsure as to whether or not I had missed some earth-shattering event.
This all changed when I hit the teen years and discovered sleeping until noon was a luxury I could definitely get behind and endorse. Many a time I greeted my friends on a Sunday afternoon still in my pajamas while we sat on my bed listening to records and exchanging the latest tidbits of gossip. Sounds rather frivolous now looking back at how we probably should have been discussing how to change the world or learning about how to end political corruption. But I digress.
After I was blessed with children I realized how valuable a few moments of sleep could be. I would have traded everything I had to close my eyes for even fifteen minutes and know blissful sleep once again. A Porsche, no thanks, but can you watch the kids for half and hour so I can get some ZZZs, please?
There was a short time between toddler and teen when I was blessed with trips to dreamland and happily crawled into bed at the end of a long and fun-filled day of cooking cleaning, laundry, shopping and attempting to close my zippers over my ever-expanding waistline.
Then I once again found myself lacking sleep when my children secured a driver’s license and I couldn’t enter dreamland until the garage door opened and I was certain they were safely in the house.
Different stages of life require various amounts of sleep. I am surprised at how I functioned with so little sleep when my kids were babies and teenagers and how much I seemed to need as a teen. And therein lies the rub, because now that I have all the time in the world to snooze, a good night’s sleep seems as out of reach as a face free of wrinkles or thighs that don’t shake like Los Angeles when I walk.
I know I’m not alone in my attempts to sleep through the night as many friends have also shared their stories. Tales abound of how their trips to the bathroom each night find them wide-awake and searching for the remote to continue the Frasier or Golden Girls marathon. I myself find that falling asleep even for two minutes in the middle of a show constitutes a nap to my old confused body and I’m up and good for a few hours more as I flip around and settle on Netflix at three in the morning.
No matter how many times I try to tell my addled mind that two minutes do not a night’s sleep make, I am not getting through and only with the help of a good antihistamine can I accomplish this goal. As one who would rather not depend on drugs to do the trick I have conversations before bed with my subconscious about the benefits of sleep and how we must be nice to us. Yet it all falls on deaf ears and there I am once again at five thirty in the morning staring at the screen and wondering how in the world I am going to awaken for that doctor appointment at eight o’ clock and function on less than three hours sleep.
Well, that’s the point; I can’t. The next day I sleepwalk through my responsibilities until I sit down at three o’clock or so, turn on the television and quickly pass out.
Of course this lovely afternoon nap is a precursor to another night of eyes wide open staring at a Frasier rerun or The Birdcage viewing. I fight desperately to avoid some anxiety producing reality, but once awake my mind runs through all the stressful situations with which I am currently faced like a scanner on steroids.
So I turn once again to Sophia calling Blanche a slut and wonder how I could have ever taken sleep for granted.
Of course one wonders how much sleep is the optimum amount for someone in the laugh laugh golden years? I’d have to say enough to get through the day, but not too little to add to the ever increasing bags under your eyes.
I’ve always believed seven hours was my minimum but I have learned I can get by on six. In a pinch five, but less than five is iffy. I had three one night last week and my grandson had to wake me in the middle of our binge watching The Good Place.
Not to be maudlin but do you think your subconscious is trying to tell you, “lay off the sleep so much, you’ll get plenty of sleep soon?”
Yipes, that makes me want to stay up all night.
So reading into that Macbeth quote perhaps Shakespeare was hoping for a good night’s sleep also, and those complimentary words are his way of kissing up to the sleep gods.
At this point I’m a firm believer whatever it takes to get some ZZZs I’ll do, even if it means missing out on some world-changing event. As we’ve all learned, despite Shakespeare’s optimistic view of sleep, life will still be waiting for you in the morning. Sleep well, Readers.
We’re All Human and Other Lies
I can’t count how many times in my life I’ve heard someone say, “We’re all human.”
I am now compelled after a lifetime of experience with these so-called humans to question seriously that assumption.
The most basic question I ask is in what regard do we refer to Homo sapiens as human. They are classified as the “wise human” and include man.
Is it a biological classification or a psychological one?
This I would stress is the ultimate question of that assessment and I seriously question the whole “wise” definition here.
If one is to classify all Homo sapiens as human simply in body function and structure than I suppose I’d have to agree the phrase is accurate.
However if it implies we all have the same psychological and mental qualities I must argue the point strenuously.
And here’s why…because one walks upright and isn’t swinging from a tree doesn’t mean one is in any way a human being.
If we qualify human behavior as acting rationally, kindly and within the limitations of society’s norms, the argument falls flat.
Many four legged creatures are more evolved than many two legged ones and I defy anyone to argue the point.
We are all led to believe that those who commit evil acts are deep down in some way really human beings that have been led astray by their environment or life’s circumstances. So we are supposed to be forgiving of their horrible behavior and acts of terror.
This is a serious misconception on our parts.
So many are brought into this world under devastating and difficult circumstances and rise above to achieve greatness and contribute to mankind.
Others pick up a gun or an axe and kill with no remorse.
Yet there are those who insist they are misunderstood or to be pitied and to this I must argue vehemently that there are only two choices that really count in the end; has one chosen good or evil in their lives?
This is the basis for free will, but I have to add that the concept of free will is somewhat flawed. One doesn’t possess free will if freedom is withdrawn. Too many live in totalitarian regimes or in slavery even in today’s world that inhibits free choice, but when it comes to the soul no one can enslave that which we and we alone possess. Even those who are incarcerated have the choice to seek a higher morality within the confines of prison walls.
I use the word choice because it is truly just that.
It isn’t easy to be a good person all the time. To refrain from feelings of anger, hurt, or to resist grabbing a sale item out of another’s hands at a black Friday sale.
Most people who are honest will tell you they have days when life tests them to the limits of their endurance. Life will do that to us all.
When we see someone walk into a school and kill children and teachers we would all love to get a piece of him, but our better natures prevail because that is our choice. We must allow society to mete out justice lest we fall back into a wild-west mentality despite conjuring up visions of a public stoning. (I must admit I really have a hard time with the stoning thing when politicians blubber on).
Being human is a tough gig. We are all faced with tough and horrific challenges each day. Loss, adversity, sorrow, death, illness, stupidity, incompetence, Congress, the Johnny Depp Amber Herd trial, Harry and Meghan, waiting a year for the next installment of the Mandalorian and how much can anyone take?
Human beings rise to the challenge and do it with compassion and when needed, humor. So what’s a human being to do when life turns on you and tests you to your limits?
However, unfortunately there are some who choose to forego their humanity, become instead animals and choose evil. Should we still call them human or face the reality there are some among us who choose to be otherwise and do not fit the profile?
‘Were all human is merely a designation of a species for it cannot possibly account for those that share only the skeleton with those who are human in a true sense.
Walking upright does not make one a human being, the right choices and a heart that feels love and compassion in lieu of merely beating to deliver blood is what separates us and always will.
Perhaps it is the word human we all have some ambivalence about. There might be a new classification for those who should not be placed in the same species as those who live their lives decently and with honor. Yet the definition of human seems to be up for grabs in many quarters today. Perhaps we must all decide what acting human truly entails.
We may be at odds at times about what classifies one as human, but evil is easily defined. There are no excuses, no reasons, no rhyme for those who commit atrocities, and to assume we are all human may be the first mistake we are making. Species classification is not the measure of a man, deeds and actions are. To be human is an often challenging, yet remarkably satisfying choice too many fail to opt for in today’s world.
We do not have X-ray vision or the ability to look inside another’s soul and see what evil may lurk beneath the surface, but we can see within ourselves.
Our choice to be human is a personal decision we all make each day and we can take pride in knowing it’s the right one.
What To Do When Your Dream Comes True?
What do you do when a dream comes true? Is there more than one way to deal with the realization that something you’ve strived for and sacrificed to accomplish is now in the rearview mirror of life’s highway? Should we be happy, sad, anxious, at peace or feeling a million other emotions jolting through us like electrical charges? To all of the above I say yes.
We all work toward goals that are clearly laid out on the drafting table of our mind’s eye, yet it seems when they finally materialize they are never exactly like the picture we’ve stared at for years. When there is fulfillment of a dream, it almost always is a bit different than we imagined and usually far better than what we’d conjured. Why is that? Shouldn’t it be exactly as we planned? It happened, but why is it different than we envisioned? We never foresaw that part of the dream or that wonderful addition or twist.
We hear the words and we do hear them often, you must never give up on your dreams. Trite clichés like teamwork makes the dream work and quitters never win and winners never quit keep us moving forward in the blind belief we can control the final outcome. And there’s the rub. Because we do get the outcome, but it’s far better than we planned. Shouldn’t it be perfectly perfect in every way? Who changed it and made it even better than we ourselves could ever imagine? What cosmic force interfered and took our dream and colored outside of our lines. Sure the infrastructure is still there, but the building is far more grand and beautiful than our blueprints.
If it’s true that what man can conceive he can achieve shouldn’t we just simply loosen up a bit? Is the reason some feel a certain letdown after realization of a goal because they simply don’t know where they should be heading next? Or have they driven so long in one direction they can’t imagine a different one. If there is some sort of destiny running alongside us in our quest, why must we embrace the burden fully? Perhaps it is for that very reason that fate rides along with us to simply see how dedicated we are and whether or not our dreams should fall short or be far greater than expected.
Is it merely a case of the smaller the dream the fewer enhancements it should be afforded? Or is every dream worthy of the same grand gesture from our better angels? So I pose a simple question: is the amount of effort we put into a dream what determines how much fate contributes to the outcome? Or is the amount of struggle and disappointment the catalyst for all the help? Is the amount destiny contributes a result of other disappointments and failures coming back to add to our joy over this one success? And if that’s the case why do so many people never realize their dreams but are instead thrust onto a totally different life path?
I’m not quite certain about the answers to these questions because it seems certain knowledge can never be made available and although we believe we have it all worked out, we usually don’t. I suppose there are people who achieve a dream and say, “Okay now that’s done so I can relax and play golf.” But there are also others who feel once a dream has been accomplished it only means another one begins. It is in essence a piggyback effect and leads to new chapters and adventures, perhaps never before imagined. We can never be quite certain of where a moment might lead. Small choices that may seem irrelevant to our journey can in fact be the very thing that propels us into the place we’ve struggled to reach.
One hears stories of how a simple act like making a wrong turn or getting into the wrong elevator can create an opportunity to achieve a goal long abandoned. So maybe dreams once dreamt are really never forgotten and are always possible despite our own choices.
When I was a comedian I dreamed of being on the Tonight Show. To receive a visit from the suits at NBC was the goal of every jokester that stood on a stage. Thirty-six years later I got the call and made it to NBC not because of my comedy, but because of an appearance on the Food Network. So was my comedy inconsequential to my journey or only one wheel on the vehicle that would drive me forward to success? It wasn’t the Tonight Show, it wasn’t a sitcom, it wasn’t anything I ever could have imagined and yet all the things I’d done in my life led up to the moment I entered Universal Studios and saw the Peacock emblem.
Was it what I’d imagined, heavens no. It was an experience far greater than my own limited dreams could take me. And now I must try to imagine the next stop on the journey after the detour I’ve just realized. So am I unique, not at all. If I had a dollar, even with the inflation this bad, for every time I heard someone say, “what happened was far beyond my wildest dreams,” I’d be richer than the Kardashians.
So in truth I must admit, it was, far greater that is. Would I still like to have had a moment with Johnny Carson? Of course. We don’t just stop caring about our goals although they’ve been surpassed and turned out differently than imagined. But I know now that it was the quest to be on the Tonight Show that led me to Baking It and the enhanced dream. There are always pitfalls, letdowns and disappointments on the road to achievement , but when success finally arrives it brings with it a sense of wonder and fulfillment far greater than can be imagined.
In the end I suppose one might say the powers that be usually want more for us than we want for ourselves, and in the end they do have the power after all.
Good luck with your dreams and let 2022 be the year you achieve, and believe it can be even greater than you ever imagined.
What We Need to be Real
I believe in Merlin the Magician. Of course believing in the greatest wizard who ever or never lived might seem foolishness personified to some, and cause great disagreement with the Harry Potter fans, but I choose to believe there once was a Merlin and a King Arthur complete with Knights of the Round Table that served their king with bravery and dedication. I’m not the only one so don’t look at me like that, man has been fascinated with the Arthurian legend forever.
Of course many would look at me and say I’m a few ants short of a picnic for this outrageous statement, however I’ve found life is incredibly easier if we give in to our inner child occasionally and treat ourselves to a great fantasy, like a hot fudge sundae with no calories once a month. Okay. So most people don’t wait a whole month, and okay so maybe it’s more like once a week, but my point remains the same. A great happy ending often does more for the soul than chocolate.
Yet, as the year ends I’m forced as so many to take stock and examine the past 365 days to make some type of value judgment on all events. So you might ask of me, why am I fixated on Merlin? Simply in this second year of COVID insanity for me Merlin represents magic, pots of gold at the end of rainbows and unicorns with magic-studded horns. Of mysterious forests filled with wood nymphs and fairies. I choose to believe there is magic in the world and whether or not I see it is irrelevant for it exists beyond my sight. Outside the realm where we must live and deal with the mundane and ordinary is a place filled with all the mystical wonders that escape slowly when mankind most needs to believe.
There is something within us that craves more purity and greatness than what we see with our eyes and can defy the senses. A question I must ask, why is it so easy to believe in the evil that exists beyond the world of the seen and not the good? Is it because wickedness dominates us now?
If one asked a room of people if the devil exists I am certain the answers would come down to three: no, yes he exists and three, wickedness exists so I guess you could call it the devil, in a way. For reasonably if evil exists in the world, and one look at Congress and there can be no argument on the issue, then who is the force behind that malevolence? And please don’t blame voters who are consistently faced with choosing between the lesser of two evils.
So why are we as human beings so smitten by the dark side of man’s nature and cast aside a belief in the mystical so easily? Especially when our souls crave it so. Fire-breathing dragons and monsters that go bump in the night are far more believable than Tinkerbell. And yes I clap because I believe in fairies. There is a war inside all of us between the innocence of our youthful fantasies that embrace the proverbial happy ending, and the pragmatist that cannot deny the wicked side of man’s nature so apparent in our daily lives. Now more than ever our society is faced with the inescapable truth that man’s nature too easily succumbs to its evil intentions. How shall we believe otherwise when each day we are bombarded with proof of the decline of goodness and righteousness?
Shall we blame the media? I, as a member of that once illustrious group must admit there is some truth to that statement. It is certainly a well-known belief among the press that if it bleeds it leads, and that holds true even more so today. How can mainstreaming bad be good? There doesn’t seem to be any positive news any longer so no wonder people are frustrated. This fascination with immorality has overwhelmed them to such a degree we as a society must stand up and cry “No more, please.” We crave less fire-breathing dragons and more angels in our lives.
We can’t go on swimming in the slime of depravity, but must believe that despite Grimm fairy tales there can be a happy ending. Cinderella can live happily after with the prince and damn the divorce statistics, Red Riding Hood saves her grandmother and Beauty and the Beast do live happily after without the need for plastic surgeons. It’s true that if we simply follow the second star to the right and fly straight on until morning we will reach Neverland, and Leprechauns staunchly protect the pots of gold at the end of every rainbow.
The world is too real right now and when that happens in man’s history evil explodes and the human race must cleanse itself to make the earth once again receptive to the light. World War II was followed by a time of peace and joy when the dragon was slain and the doors of Camelot swung open and we rushed inside.
The true sadness in the now is that we are no longer just hearing of iniquity on the news, we are living it in our daily lives. Crime is rampant, lawlessness abounds and people are overwhelmed by all the insanity that has become a daily occurrence. I have no idea what it will take to slay that dragon breathing down our necks, but I am certain that soon heroes will arise and we will cast it out once more.
As we need to believe that although evil succeeds in the short run, good will ultimately prevail. On that victorious day surely we “won’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment, that was known as Camelot.”
Wishing a beautiful and mystical new year to us one and all.
My Grandparents Myself
Reading the tweets on Twitter about the NBC show Baking It on which I was privileged to be a judge, I was really taken by how many favorable responses us granny judges received. Living in the Hollywood area for so many years I’ve been brainwashed to believe that no one wants to see old people on television, or on the streets for that matter. And I must add that in this town old is considered anyone over fifty.
So you can imagine my surprise when young people were writing so many positive things about we judges, and I assure you fifty is well in the rear view mirror for many of us.
Then it dawned on me that perhaps it isn’t really so surprising after all.
Should I assume that I am the only person that adored her grandparents and had an unbelievable relationship with them, especially her grandfather?
My grandfather loved children so as the first grandchild I commanded all of his attention until my brother was born.
When I was a year old he made me an inner tube out of an old truck tire with a seat attached so he could push me around in the ocean. When we were older he took my brother and I fishing in the everglades and I even remember going to the movies to watch Some Like it Hot with him when he wanted to see his old friend George Raft. He made the best dill pickles and his laugh lit up a room, and in every picture together he looked at me like I was a banana split.
Too many of us are castigated for living in the past and told we must be in the present and looking toward the future. Dwelling on the past is a futile effort and waste of time when we could be living in the now…but is it really?
I say poppycock. That’s right. I said, poppycock.
Some days I drive myself to the Santa Monica Pier and sit admiring the ocean remembering the wonderful times with my grandfather.
Do I feel that these moments are a waste of my time? No indeed. In fact it’s rather the opposite. It’s as if I’m back in Miami Beach laughing and kicking my feet as he pushed me along the waves. I can smell the salt air and feel the sun beating down on me and these memories light me up inside even on the darkest days. How can feeling good possibly be bad?
The grandparent/grandchild relationship is incredibly special and to believe that only old people would want to see older people speaks to an inability to connect with the world and see people for who they really are.
I strive constantly to create memories I hope my grandsons will carry with them their entire lives.
When my grandson was four years old and collecting bugs I was on my hands and knees on the sidewalk helping. Although the sight of a bug made me jump five feet into the air under normal circumstances, when he asked me to secure them for him, my fears floated away on a cloud of pure joy at sharing something together. Although now when I ask if he remembers my fearless bug collecting, the recollection seems to have faded.
Yet I know from experience that many of the memories once lost ultimately reappear in time and although I can’t remember for what reason I called a friend by the time I’m finished dialing the number, my earliest memories of Miami Beach as a young child come back into focus whenever I smell the ocean.
So why are these moments of recollection so important as we get older?
In a study at Cambridge University in 2019 researchers found that “recalling specific positive memories and happy life experiences during adolescence may help teens fortify their resilience and reduce the risk of depression later in life.”
All one has to do to verify this thesis is look on Facebook. Every community has pages of memories from their old elementary or high school and the city where they lived as children. These pages are filled with pictures and images and allow users to share stories and reminiscences from their past.
Perhaps it’s simply the innocence we all crave as we get older, the need to believe the world is still that comfy cocoon we once nestled inside filled with play, fun, holidays and grandparents.
Grandparents signify unconditional love, a safe harbor in an often times turbulent ocean. A place to climb back into arms that may not be as toned or strong as they once were, but feel safe against any invader or frightening force.
We need happy memories to ward off the unpleasant ones that have a tendency to surface unwanted and uninvited. A way to reinforce the belief life is beautiful and things do work out in the end; even when they don’t.
Grandparents are the guardians of our memories. They contain all that is good about our youth, a path toward believing and sustaining hope and forcing us to forge ahead even in most difficult times.
It may be as simple as the smell of grandma’s apple pie in the autumn made with fresh apples you picked for her, the sight of your grandfather’s favorite tree you helped him plant or an old television show you watched together. You didn’t get the jokes, but you loved watching him laugh just the same.
So I must offer kudos to the producers of Baking It who truly “get it,” and despite the Hollywood hype about the whole 18 to 49 age restrictions on television and movies, they knew better.
When we can look at television or the movies and see something that makes us feel warm and fuzzy it’s a no brainer we need more of it, and that happily includes all of us grannies.
President Franklin Roosevelt famously said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Those words have persevered throughout the decades and been closely aligned to the difficulties he spoke of facing this great nation when he took office. Yet, is the lack of fear a good thing and is a fear of fear merely another fear we embrace? Then if we fear fearing isn’t that actually experiencing fear of fear? I’m confused, and what else is new? Sure, Yoda said fear leads to the dark side, but can’t a total lack of it sometimes lead to disaster? I bring up this quandary at this moment in time because of the fact we are living in incredibly scary times. There is so much craziness in our existence it would be practically impossible to be a Pollyanna. COVID19, global warming, rising crime rates, racism, Antisemitism, Congress (Ooh, that one really makes my blood run cold!) and all sorts of scary things that go bump in the night and threaten our sleep. So I pose a simple question, when is it okay to be fearful?
Recently I experienced a strange moment while dining at a restaurant with a friend and sitting outdoors waiting for a table. Usually I’m double masked just to ensure some slippery little COVID bug doesn’t slip through that cotton protective gear that has now become part of my face, but I felt a bit bold and obviously too comfortable in my environment on such a beautiful day. The sky was blue, the temperature perfection and the fresh air enticing so I removed the mask and presented naked faced to the world around me.Was this bold or stupid? I’m still pondering that decision because of what happened next. A couple sitting nearby told us they had driven an hour and a half and always enjoyed this particular restaurant when in the area. We began speaking and the husband said he was a chiropractor and bragged he had never caught COVID although his choice was to forego a mask or receive the vaccine. Has this man never heard of the Jewish fear of bragging about something, what Jewish people call a Kenahora or instant bad luck? Such foolish arrogance may lead to disaster if the devil happens to be listening to your conversation at that moment and sees an opportunity for a bit of fun at your expense by deciding to make a liar out of you?
Of course my hand immediately went toward my face to give coverage, but since I didn’t want to appear overly paranoid I didn’t re-don my mask. In retrospect I probably should have sprinted out of there like Jesse Owens being chased by Hitler. When they got up to go to their table she walked up to me, stood above my chair and leaned in closer to wish me a good day. It was so fast I couldn’t react and when they left My friend turned to me and said, “Sure, have a good day if you’re still alive.”
Okay, we laughed but in my mind I was writing my will. Of course I’m vaccinated but due to receive a booster this week. To say I’m feeling more vulnerable would be an understatement.
Let me be clear here that I am not an advocate of telling others how to live their lives.If someone chooses not to receive the vaccine it is entirely their own decision to make and none of my business. I made a choice to have it, but others are certainly entitled to make their own. Having said that I must also add that although one is free to forego the vaccine or mask, that doesn’t free them from something called human decency and responsibility toward others by acting as a good citizen. Behaving in a reckless manner to endanger other’s health is quite another kettle of fish and a stinky one to boot. Since no one can be certain about that tricky little virus called COVID and now so many who are even vaccinated are coming down with breakthrough cases, to be aloof would to me seem inconsiderate and thoughtless toward others. To be unmindful of personal space and the fact others may actually want to go on living and not have you be the one to choose their time of death is inexcusable.
I totally respect someone’s decision to be unvaccinated and unmasked, but Bitch keep your germs outta my face!
So I now return to my original question, is fear really the boogieman some make it out to be? Or is a little fear a necessary and smart thing to possess as a barrier to chaos? I have a friend who lives with so much fear that on her tombstone it must be added. “She Worried.”
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the phrase, “you can’t live your life in fear.” So I don’t, but who’s the crazy one here?
Shouldn’t I have been more fearful around strangers and continued wearing my mask although outside that restaurant?Was letting my guard down a good idea in this instance? Is fear getting a bad rap? Do we too often equate fear with common sense and self-preservation? So where is the line between fearful and paranoid? And can we be certain in these times that line still exists? I truly believe we can only do so many stupid things in our life before one catches up with us. Still, we all know people who have done more than their share of stupid and are thriving pretty well.
So what’s the answer to how much fear is okay to fear? Or something like that. In a word or three, I don’t know. What I do know is in today’s world perhaps it’s okay to examine how keeping some fear on the menu isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
It’s a matter of semantics really. Some will fudge the issue by saying, “No Norma you shouldn’t be fearful, simply exercise a bit of caution.” To that I answer “Bullpucky?” Caution is just the acceptable form of fear that is politically correct and easily justified. Being a cautious person evokes intelligence and responsibility, traits to be applauded. Being fearful evokes “she’s a paranoid nutcase and needs to get a grip.”
And yet they are the same thing after all. For what is caution but fear put into action? If I had worn my mask would I be acting out of fear or caution? Put that one in your Meerschaum pipe and smoke it.
I guess I’m tired of being seen as a nut because I’m scared. Does this sense of foreboding stop me from living my life, laughing hysterically at Larry David or choosing to eat salmon once in a blue moon instead of an entire Hershey bar with almonds? No way. I feel very confident that I can multitask and be scared while still enjoying my life. Perhaps even a bit more knowing I’m making “cautious” decisions.
So if I survive that thoughtless woman’s germs, you’ll hear from me again soon. Stay safe, not so much from COVID, but from the crazies out there. Caution is good choice when dealing with the masses nowadays.
Norma Zager, The Hollywood Grammy, COVID19, Yoda, Fear itself, Franklin Roosevelt, Larry David, Congress, masks, vaccine, bitch
Murder and Mortadella
I gained five pounds re-watching The Sopranos. You may scoff but my body has a way of inhaling calories, whether walking by a bakery, sniffing homemade cookies or merely watching a commercial for Dunkin Donuts. And would it be hospitable to let the Soprano family eat alone? Being part Italian I have a special place in my heart for all things pasta and if you pay close attention not five minutes goes by on The Sopranos where they are not eating. Let’s go take someone out. Okay, but have the mortadella ready when I get back. And it always is. Every scene is laced with food or violence and Edie Falco spends almost every scene in the kitchen serving up something with a tomato base.
I’m not complaining mind you because re-watching The Sopranos was actually better than the first time. How many things in life can top itself after achieving perfection initially? Very few I’d venture. I was inspired to re-watch after HBO recently released its Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark starring James Gandolfini’s actual son, Michael. Of course the fact he looked so much like his father and brought him to life so beautifully only served as catnip to a cat craving a good fix of my Sopranos addiction. Okay, yes we all know it can never happen again with Gandolfini gone and supposedly murdered at the end, I’m still smarting from that one by the way. To a true fan there is always that small shred of hope maybe we were wrong and it was just his daughter he lifted his head to see at the end. Yes, to a Sopranos fan hope springs eternal. I felt the need to re-watch it although it took a couple of weeks of sitting on the couch eating pizza to accomplish my mission.
Between inhaling the calories off the screen and shoving Italian goodies in my mouth I didn’t stand a chance. It wasn’t exactly like watching Richard Simmons dancing to the oldies.Yet despite the fact I’d seen it before I was mesmerized. I saw new moments, caught lines, read expressions I’d totally missed the first time around. The more I watched the more I took pleasure in every morsel, like eating chocolate after a ten-week diet. I savored each second especially Gandolfini knowing I’d never be able to witness his genius anew. I was completely impressed with Edie Falco’s cooking skills and Paulie Walnuts’ total ability to be a giant asshole and yet survive it all. So surprising because I felt sure someone was going to nail his miserable ass any minute. Every character brought a whole new appreciation as I watched Nancy Marchand play the mother from hell, Uncle Junior evil as Satan and Tony’s sister, his kids and nephew Michael Imperioli really bring the term dysfunctional family to life. Why should I be surprised when most fans can watch The Godfather, one and two, of course, over and over. I’ve stopped counting how many times I’ve see those movies but when I see them playing I’m drawn toward that channel like a shopaholic to a Black Friday sale. Why does it seem like evil is far more interesting than goodness? I don’t know anyone personally who has re-watched Touched by an Angel episodes over fifty times. That is not to say it is lacking as a show and undermine its feel good effect, but let’s face it, there is something so intriguing about evil characters. Tony Soprano was a mass of contradiction, a lovable teddy bear one minute and then beating the life out of someone the next. The Angel and Devil on his shoulder effect was incredibly magnetic.
Why are we so fascinated by that behavior?The complexity of the nature of a Michael Corleone or Tony Soprano, has I’m certain, been studied ad nauseum, but it might just be very simple; perhaps there is a bit of them within us all. It’s pretty basic I guess, we all have free choice to be good or evil, or both. That’s the concept isn’t it? Yet is it true? Does a sociopath really have free choice or are they a prisoner to the evil dominating their nature. Not to make any excuses of course for perpetrators of unconscionable deeds. Still, that is what mystifies me most. If given the choice would Tony Soprano choose only to be good? Obviously not, but a small part of us wishes Lorraine Bracco, his long suffering and optimistic psychiatrist could’ve succeeded and he’d seen the error of his ways allowing nice Tony to overcome. Is that insight into our own characters instead of his? I guess I’m inclined to believe it is.
Watching Marlon Brando die in that tomato garden playing with his grandson showed him to be very human, yet we all know his prevailing nature wasn’t. So why are we drawn to such complex characters? Maybe it’s the need in us to hope and believe good will overcome evil. Or for many women that a man will change and his dark side or bad boy inside will disappear. Or perhaps it’s simply the battle between good and evil in one soul is a potent cocktail to watch.
Ever since Jimmy Cagney yelled “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!” as he unloaded his gun and was shot to death in White Heat, we’ve witnessed a genre in movies and literature that has drawn and fascinated us without fail. Whether Tony Soprano, Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, Stephen King or Hitchcock these creations and creators knew the secret to keeping a reader or viewer caught up and totally hooked.
With The Sopranos of course it was all that and so very much more, including the eggplant parmigiana.
What a Great Day to be a Geek and Thank You Sir Richard
The dictionary defines a Geek as… “A peculiar person, especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual, unfashionable, or socially awkward….”I say what a great day to be a Geek. Say it loud and say it proud, this is Geek Day on planet earth.Sir Richard Branson’s trip to the edge of space today was one of the greatest advancements toward us regular folk strapping in and successfully achieving the dream of joining Kirk, Spock and Flash Gordon above the bounds of earth.
Yes, I happily admit I am one of those people; the ones who dreamed of escaping this planet and seeking adventures among the stars. My first story at the age of eight was about space travel so it started early in this Geek. Although no one has ever referred to me by that particular designation, I believe it’s because there is actually a bit of Geek in most of us. Oh sure we seek coolness in our manner and pretend to be aloof when someone talks about this or that particular episode of Twilight Zone. However is it a coincidence whenever you mention the episode To Serve Man, everyone is familiar and can tell you the end where we find out it’s a cookbook. Deny if you will, but no one was untouched or unexcited when Neil Armstrong hopped down that ladder and touched the moon. When John Glenn orbited the earth or now when Richard Branson unclasped his seat belt and flew weightless for four minutes to the edge of space.
Are we perhaps now a bit jaded by all these accomplishments? I imagine we are, after all we are living in the world of AI and robotics and everything has changed except for the contempt and disgust we feel for politicians, but I doubt that would be any different on any planet. So why am I so pumped about Branson’s flight, when at my age I wouldn’t even be a candidate for a quick ride myself? Simply put this is the culmination of a dream held since childhood. Going from watcher to doer. Actually being able to participate in space travel is as exciting to me as watching Babe Ruth hit that record breaking ball was to New York fans.
This is not the end, but the beginning and now that the barrier has been broken it will continue to move quickly toward ever more exciting new efforts and achievements. Oh yes, there is one small caveat of course. A seat on the Concorde was 12,000 dollars. A seat to fly to the edge of space is now $200,000. A bit out of the reach of most Geeks, unless of course you’re Bill Gates or Elon Musk or were lucky enough to sell your app to one of the big guys for a billion or so. Although I’d love to suit up for an adventure I’ve been dreaming of since my childhood I’m afraid it will probably be my grandchildren that are flying around, planet hopping and if I’m lucky they’ll be able to regale me with their stories of Mars and other such exciting destinations.
Sir Richard Branson was the first billionaire into space and won the race even beating Jeff Bezos who probably should have called Amazon to deliver him and might have gotten there quicker. I suppose for now it’s a rich man’s travel package, one that most of us earthlings can’t avail ourselves of at this time. But like all new discoveries and inventions, the price will come down. In the 1980s we paid upwards of 5000 dollars for a big screen television, now on Black Friday you can get one for a hundred if you’re willing to risk a few broken bones to get into the store.
So will we find space to be Lost in Space or Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey? Will it be filled with odd creatures that populate the Mos Eisley Cantina on Tatooine? What is waiting for us up there in the star-filled blackness of space and will we be glad we ventured forth into this new frontier? I hope I’m able to get some of those answers in my lifetime. Although some may believe this is business as usual in space travel, I have to admit I’m a pretty happy Geek today and relatively certain there are a whole lot more of us today thanks to Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic .
Amazon is the Devil
Any foodaholic can attest to the fact very little can stop a craving until it is satiated.
I for one can verify that on more than one occasion I’ve driven to a 7/11 in the dead of night for a snickers bar and I’m not ashamed to admit neither hell nor high water could stop me when the need for chocolate burned inside my cocoa-addicted anatomy.
Nothing less than a full-blown snow or ice emergency could keep me from the chocolaty goodness I sought, and although I later learned to satisfy my cravings in less caloric ways, the memory lingers.
I spent the last thirty years of my life wrestling with ways to address my food addiction and actually had a handle on curbing those binges that would leave me bloated and guilt ridden.
I earned my thirty year chip and although there were the occasional set backs along my road to recovery, I managed to find a level of moderation between my snickers intake and starvation diets.
My love for food and all things chocolate never changed but I had come to grips with the reality that my metabolism was born to be my greatest adversary and I had to exercise restraint in my daily eating patterns.
I felt quite certain I’d accomplished this achievement and hadn’t even ventured out at night to fulfill any cravings and then it happened. The mother of all horrible events in the life of a foodie, the pandemic hit.
And it had to be Chinese which meant like Chinese food I was hungry an hour later for 24 hours a day.
Locked up in the germ-free COVID-safe bosom of my home I could neither venture out (my children would have literally chained me to the sofa had I disregarded their orders) as I fought to find ways to deal with the lockdown, as we all did.
Let’s see, what will make me feel better about being a prisoner in my own home?
Jigsaw puzzles helped and of course Netflix came to the rescue of most of us with a non-stop array of new features to binge watch and chat about with friends.
Yet there was something lurking in the background, a voice sneaking into my conscience slowly and growing ever louder by the day.
Without the need to dress, wear make up or even dye my roots vanity took a back seat to finding ways to soothe the growing need to escape my bonds.
Yes I succumbed to those demons that had controlled my destiny in the past. That had brought me comfort and solace in times of sorrow and unhappiness or sheer frustration. But for the first time I didn’t have to venture out to seek what I craved, the devil delivered it to my door in the form of an Amazon delivery person.
This was something I never needed to know. This was a way to feed my addiction easily and constantly and I slipped.
Yes, I sold my soul for Hershey’s kisses. Oh the humanity!
I even discovered I could buy my favorite hot fudge online and ordered a giant coffee can full of the heavenly decadent favorite to luxuriate on my kitchen counter with a spoon kept nearby for frequent tastes and mood building moments when necessary.
And oh yes it became necessary more and more.
Having the luxury of Amazon was the best and worst thing that could happen to a foodie.
The true yin and yang of the calorically addicted for there in an instant I could place an order for all those foods I had fought to eliminate from my life forever and welcome them back to nurture and sooth my COVID-hating soul.
And they made it so damn easy. Jeff Bezos is the Devil. Just swipe and wait and someone shows up at your door with candy, cake and carbs enough to fatten a room full of anorexics.
For the first time in years I had candy dishes filled with M&Ms, a freezer full of Hagen Daz and homemade pies and breads with the aroma of heaven daily.
Seriously can anything cheer the spirit like the smell of apple pie or chocolate chip cookies or hot bread in the oven?
I think not which is why in between streaming television, jigsaw puzzles and a book or two my daily exercise consisted of walking back and forth to the kitchen to check what was in the oven.
I was in heaven. No waistlines, buttons or hair blowers to contend with. Like everyone else in America confined to their home I had only my next meal to look forward to, and watching the news did little to curb my need for food compensation.
Chocolate and I were a team again and I embraced the relationship. Like returning to the man who’d consistently broken your heart and you’d sworn off a million times only to run back when he summoned.
Twelve pounds later I came face to face with my worst enemy, the scale. At the doctor weighed and scolded I had to examine my life choices once more.
My doctor looked at me with that you-know-better grin and all I could say was, “but Amazon was there tempting me all day every day. Blame Bezos not me. They kept coming and bringing food and what could I do? After I ordered all those goodies I couldn’t very well throw them out, it wouldn’t be right. It was Amazon, damnit!
He looked at me as pathetically as I deserved and urged me to exercise and gain control.
I promised I would and I headed home to my kitchen to face the music.
There was the refrigerator filled with remnants of my lapse back into foodaholicism and I knew I had to deal and start over. I needed to mend fences with my now too-tight clothes and the double chin that taunted me in the mirror when I dared look.
It was time to fess up and fress (eat in Yiddish) less and pay my diet dues once more.
I now have a handle on my love handles and have managed to lose most of the weight.
I always reread my Amazon order before swiping and am gratefully out and about more so clothes and waistlines matter again.
I burned the contract for my soul I’d gladly signed with Amazon and now I’ve gained back control of the online relationship that had overtaken my life.
I still must take it a day at a time because after all Oreos always lurk on my iPod calling to me, but I just turn up the television and start a new binge watch.
Wouldn’t it be funny of it turned out the virus came from Amazon?
Hell who knows what virus Bezos might pick up on that upcoming moon flight.
Years ago in Venice, Italy with my family, we had the misfortune of arriving in that iconic city during Carnival.
We found the city cold, unfriendly, shopkeepers evil and unwelcoming and the entire experience extraordinarily horrifying.
The hotel was filled with crowds of scary partiers in masks like a scene out of a Nicole Kidman horror movie. The hotel was filled with Freddy Krueger in ball gowns.
We got the hell out of dodge as soon as possible and caught the train for Rome to a safer and more inviting clime.
Now after a year relegated to a life confined to masks I find myself reliving too many unpleasant memories of the past.
Venice aside, I harbor unfortunate recollections of the early days of anesthetics when a small mask was placed over one’s nose and ether poured on slowly until unconsciousness ensued. Recollections of awaking after surgery to a mask-wearing doctor aren’t something I choose to dwell upon.
Neither of these mask memories fill me with a warm fuzzy feeling or a desire to spend the upcoming years in a face covering and yet, we are told we must.
We’re suddenly living in a mask-wearing-virus-filled existence and no one can predict how long this new normal will remain.
Faced with this new addition to my wardrobe I am trying valiantly to conjure up more pleasant mask memories and I must admit a few come with questions I’ve never before considered.
Why did the Lone Ranger wear a mask? Supposedly it was to hide his identity, which in my opinion it did very poorly. If one is doing good deeds why the need to hide? I imagine if you’re afraid of getting caught robbing a bank a mask would be an asset, but the Lone Ranger, I’m not seeing it.
Now Batman, that was a mask. If you’re going to go to the trouble of wearing a mask why not cover your entire face and add bat ears? Bruce Wayne always did things in a big way and that made Batman one of the coolest villains. I’m even willing to overlook the whole George Clooney nippled costume thing.
I don’t mind wearing a mask except for the obvious social setbacks.
How might one smile at anyone when walking down the street? One of my favorite habits has always been nodding and saying hello to everyone I pass as I move through my day. Without the smile it loses some of its cache and is far less friendly.
I see it as a civic duty to spread a bit of good cheer to the strangers I meet in my travels. How can I fulfill my promise to spread happiness like a Jewish Santa Claus minus the red suit and bag of goodies?
Oh sure the mask will come in handy for many things. Postponing a nose job or facelift, or the new double chin from the COVID 19 weight gain. Perhaps you can put off the teeth whitening a while longer and of course no need for lip plumpers anymore.
Still I’d rather see and be seen and the mask is a cover up of giant proportions.
You can be mad, glad, sad or blah and who’s to know. What could be better than a mask for masking our pain?
Your moods are covered up by a piece of cloth and unfathomable to others.
So because man is creative we now have all types of personality masks.
Designer initials and patterns, even some with smiling faces; happy masks or sad, heavy and light ones from all kinds of materials. There are masks with logos and ads or pictures of your favorite characters. Okay, so I admit I have a Baby Yoda mask. Get over it.
For evening there are pearls and sequins and some even dripping with fake diamonds.
From the looks of it masks are here to stay by virtue of the enormous investment we all seem to be making for a way to exhibit at least a modicum of personality in this new faceless world.
As optimistic as I’d like to be I find something reprehensible about masks.
Our world is plagued by a lack of social interaction with the advent of the Internet. A place where human beings hide behind a screen to chat, message and communicate. Unfortunately masks will become just one more way to prevent us from seeing one another and bonding with our fellow earthlings.
We must also consider that this covering will make it easy for space visitors to roam about freely where before one might have noticed their presence. Gee that gray guy with the mask has enormous eyes.
If you were beginning to understand how torn I am about protecting us from one another you’d be correct.
I know we need to wear them and I’m all for trying to do it in an attractive way, yet I’m really quite sad that this is yet one more layer between humans to separate us even further.
Nothing in this world is a better communicative tool than a smile. It shouts volumes to others whether friend or stranger. It says you matter to me enough that I am happy to see you. You’re important and worthy of a happy face.
It wishes the recipient a good day and sends positive vibes out into the universe.
Each smile drops a bit of joy onto the earth to attach itself to those passing by.
Where will these little bits of joy come from now without smiles to create them?
There is no doubt we will have to make more of an effort to reach out to others while our smiles are imprisoned in masks. More calls, more stopping to say hello, yes even more text messages with lots of smiley faces. It may not be the real thing but it’s the next best until the masks come off.
I imagine it’s my challenge to find happiness in my covered days. I can look back happily to that year I finished writing the book I’d been procrastinating for so long. I guess it’s true the best way to get a writer to write is to place them in captivity. Worked for me, but hopefully I’ll be able to discipline myself in the future since no one wants another year in lockdown.
We all need more smiles and a kind word never hurt anyone either.
Sabbath dinner isn’t an accident. On Friday nights in the Jewish faith when families sit down to a stuff fest of meats, chicken soup, salads, starches and desserts there is a grand design afoot. When a group of relations is in one place long enough it will not be long before the temperature rises and old wounds like where Aunt Rose was forced to sit at the wedding and why Uncle Sol didn’t come to cousin Lilli’s funeral will surface. God looked down at the first Sabbath dinner and in his infinite wisdom figured out that the more carbs he stuffs into his people the less strength they will have for bloodshed. And so the tradition was born. Not just in Jewish homes, but all religions where food is a necessity at family gatherings. Granted the Jews and Italians have elevated over feeding to an art form, but it has definitely caught on in a big way. It has thus occurred to me at numerous times in my life the way world leaders look when they sit down to negotiate. Hungry and cranky like a small baby whose bottle is a few minutes late in arriving. Sitting in their high chair with cross little looks on their faces, lips quivering and pouting close to tears as they await feeding. Perhaps little Vladimir needs his borscht fix. Would a big boiled potato and some sour cream make it all better for little Vlad? If he is stuffing his face perhaps he will stop attacking other countries. I am never more aware that there is world hunger than when I see world leaders sit down to “talk.” Honestly Boris, I know the British are not big foodies, but maybe a good meal of fish and chips before chatting about terrorism? Of course the Chinese are a challenge. By the time they finish eating and walk to the bargaining table they are hungry again. No wonder Xi made such a deal about the chocolate cake. Angela Angela, maybe lay off so much sauerbraten at lunchtime. A nice green salad and fruit perhaps? If you look at some of these meetings you will see that of everyone, Bibi Netanyahu is usually the most smiley, which is truly ironic since not a day goes by that Israel is not condemned, maligned, attacked or threatened. So why should Bibi smile? Simply, because he is probably the most well fed of the bunch. I am sure the Mossad has a special detail to ensure that he is never without a hot meal, a snack and some of his grandmother’s mandal bread. If you look at Congress today you can tell in one minute who is not eating. Obviously no one from California as eating anything but micro greens is against state law. If Nancy Pelosi would spend as much time stuffing her face with chocolate as she does Botox the country would be a far better place. Chuck Chuck Chuckala. You’re a New York Jew. Stop with the crying and kvetching and EAT!!! Mitch you’re looking thin, how about a nice Filet Mignon with garlic-mashed potatoes and green beans? Elizabeth Warren, oh Lord where do I begin? Perhaps some corn chowder and Maine Lobster. Nope, I think a roll in the hay is required when someone is that damn sour. Marco before you vote try the flan, it’s to die for. Bernie Bernie Bernie. I know you’re not a Jew anymore, but maybe a taste of your mother’s chicken soup with kreplach will put a smile on that miserable puss. It is important to remember that when someone is hungry their blood sugar drops. If you don’t believe that physical circumstances can affect a person’s personality perhaps you’ve never met a woman PMSing and driving to a 7/11 at two in the morning for a Hershey bar. Oh that’s right, that was me. In order for the world to be a safer place we need better catering. I have seen pictures of leaders in discussion and when there is a plate of food on the table it’s usually only cookies or donuts. This is nourishment? I think not. Sugar rush, blood levels peak and fall. Not good for a long time peace process. Bust out a basket of bagels, lox, cream cheese and cut up veggies. A platter of cheeses and some scrambled eggs and then we’ll talk. Tough to say hostile things when you’re chewing an everything bagel wit a schmear. I guarantee the state of the world would alter immediately if the meals improved. There is no doubt in my mind that if President Biden invited Chuck and Mitch to the White House and they sat down to a big Sabbath dinner, unbuttoned their pants and had an extra piece of rugalach, much more would get done. Many believe the Jewish people have survived because of their senses of humor. Perhaps that’s a big part, but I claim it’s the food. The family that eats together grows together in more ways than one. If the world would only take my advice I guarantee the conversation would go like this: Biden and Vlad stuffed to the gills on brisket, borscht, bobka and cheesecake all catered by New York’s famous Katz’s Deli. Biden, unbuttoning his pants. “ Come on Vlad, I’m so over Assad. He is causing such problems in the Middle East. Do me a solid here and let’s find a new guy who’ll work with both of us, and dump the butcher.” Vlad, loosening the tie on his sweat pants “ But I need that port, you know I can’t be without such a strategic waterway. Joe, you know I love the power.” “Vlad Vlad Vlad, I’ve got a guy, a cousin of my baker says he knows a guy in Syria that will let you keep the port and also work with our partners in the Middle East. You give a little, we give a little; we can do this. More strawberries on your cheesecake?” “Just a spoonful. You think this guy knows what he’s talking about?” “You’ve had three pieces of his cheesecake, would he lie?” “No, this guy knows his stuff. Tell you what, I’ll meet with him, but I need this recipe?” “I can make that happen. Now lets talk about little rocket man.” “Please Joe, I’m eating, don’t ruin my meal here. We’ll discuss him tomorrow at brunch. Maybe you’ll serve those delicious cronuts?” Peace for our time so much better than Chamberlain. But of course the British have never gotten the whole food thing.
Seagulls are interesting creatures. I often believe they are merely the squirrels of the beach, yet they are lacking the adorable bushy tales that would endear one to love and feed them.
In all honesty the sound of a seagull is not relaxing or Zen. Unlike the chirping of a robin emitting an almost hypnotic morning song, seagulls loud cawing squawk is dare I say annoying at best. Their cries don’t exactly lull one to sleep on a sandy, sun-filled beach but announce their presence in a hawkish fashion.
So I must ask why my penchant for constantly feeding and nurturing such a discordant bird? Is it merely the fact they own the skies at the beach and their existence is some sort of proof we are at a place of calm and solitude?
Are they the landlords of the water’s edge and thus entitled to be cared for by us, mere interlopers on their terrain and is this some sort of pay off for allowing us to curl up on the sand and luxuriate in the sun’s healing rays?
Try as I might to understand my need to nurture them I remain simply stumped. My insane desire to feed squirrels is at least understandable by virtue of their adorable faces and precious puffy tales, but seagulls? I can’t even claim they are beautiful birds but a drab gray color that does nothing to inspire the senses as say the brilliant red of a cardinal or winged gymnastics of a hummingbird.
Yet there I am tearing off parts of a sandwich to feed them as they walk closer to me to ensure their place in the cafeteria line and chase off their brethren.
I can’t seem to help myself. Up close when they shoot me a cock of the head or an eyeball in my direction I find myself wishing I’d brought more food and wondering where to secure extra. I balk at the fact I’ll run out and suffer their scorn when I no longer possess any crusts of bread.
What is my problem? I’m certain I’m not the only one that falls under their spell when beachcombing. They seem to have a sense of those who will instantly succumb to their charms and begin throwing edibles. Is it written on my face…come here for food?
Of course they are cute in their way, but pandas they are not, yet I can’t seem to deny them.
After much self-reflection, I’ve come to believe it’s the sound of seagulls that endears them to me. If my eyes are closed and I feel a warm glow over my entire body and hear the sound of seagulls circling overhead, it is a certainty I am at the beach.
A place filled with happy childhood memories of floating in the Atlantic in an inner tube with a seat created by my grandfather. The times spent on the beach with him can never be erased although when I’m busy living life it leaves little time for those coveted childhood moments.
Thus my love for seagulls for they instantly return me to that time and place where I shared happy days by the ocean with my beloved grandfather. Despite a bite by a Man o’ War, a near drowning or any mishap the times at the beach were magical. Now as I reflect back on my life I see my grandfather’s face, feel the sand in my toes and hear the cawing of the seagulls above. It’s no wonder I seek them out and wish to have them near.
Too many scenes of our childhoods seem to get caught between the crevices of our minds and lost with time. A sound, taste or smell can suddenly reawaken those hidden moments and allow us to relive them instantly.
As I’ve entered a new phase of my life I seem to find a great deal of solace in those forgotten memories and fight to revive them as much as possible.
Times and experiences of childhood are now long gone and cannot be recaptured, so it’s more important then ever to retain their happiness and refuse to let them fade.
The sound of a seagull at the beach, the smell of burning leaves in autumn, the taste of your mother’s delicious soup you’ve tried in vain to recreate or the hot chocolate that warmed you through when ice skating with your father on a wintery Sunday afternoon.
One can never quite predict when a memory will resurface or what can spark its return. Whenever one does I force myself to hold onto to it as long as possible before allowing it to retreat back into an obscure corner of my mind.
Perhaps we underestimate the beauty of a memory because we have so many, and the number grows larger as we age.
I’ve decided to embrace every moment that adds happiness to my life; whether it be now or in the past it must be counted.
A new year will bring new memories, but I shall always be happy sitting on the beach, curling my toes in the sand, hearing the waves trickle onto the shore and feeding the seagulls. So they aren’t the most beautiful bird, but the recollections they conjure up are for me some of the best of my life.
Memories die with us and we will live on in those whose lives we’ve touched. They will also live on in those with whom we’ve shared them.
If you see me sitting on the beach surrounded by seagulls don’t think me eccentric, join me and we can relive some wonderful recollections together. I’ll even bring extra bread for you.
The Smell of Burning Leaves
If one mentions the word Trigger it quickly calls to my mind a picture of a golden horse with a white patch responding to its owner Roy Rogers. Different strokes I guess.
The brain is a strange little computer. We respond to the senses and a smell, taste, sound or a glimpse can evoke the most intense memory and catch us completely off guard.
One smell that induces the most extreme reaction for me is the smell of burning leaves. If there was a candle that smelled like burning leaves I may be tempted to keep it lit all day.
Occasionally I’ll smell something that reminds me of a fresh spring day after a rain and feel that sense of contentment spring brings, but it’s the burning leaves that stoke my flame of happy memories.
Growing up in the Midwest, autumn was such a happy time filled with sights, sounds and moments captured by one scent—burning leaves. It doesn’t induce a single recollection, but a torrent of memories, happy and heartwarming that bring me to a moment in childhood special and revered.
Autumn meant the beginning of school, new clothes and clean saddle shoes. A trip on the first day of school to the corner drugstore to pick out supplies, including a new loose leaf, pencils and a clean eraser. The excitement of a new school bag complete with clear, zippered pencil case and a fresh box of Crayolas, tips sharp and shiny.
Coming home after school and changing into play clothes then going outside to play with friends and watch the neighborhood boys play football in the street.
I can still picture a leaf gently falling and covering the green grass after turning the most exquisite shades of reds, oranges and yellows. The pure joy of crunching the leaves while walking to school and then jumping in them after my father raked them to the curb. Of hearing him grumble because I messed them up and he had to redo them, yet he was never really angry. I always suspected he wanted to do the same himself.
For me it also meant the Jewish holidays were near and I looked forward to meeting friends at synagogue then walking to the bagel factory after services. The fun of Halloween and choosing a costume, begging for candy and rushing home to look through and see what wonderful delights the treat bag held.
The smell of burning leaves promised Thanksgiving and turkey roasting in the oven while we watched the Macy’s parade on television. Then soon came Christmas, Hanukah and the smell of latkes would arrive with vacation time.
No mention of autumn could be complete without invoking the smell of freshly crushed apples at the Cider Mill. The giant wheel mashing apples into submission as they released their delicious juices then paired with hot cinnamon donuts in a grease-laden paper bag. Followed by a ride on a hay wagon into the orchard to soak up the autumn colors or climb ladders to pick the ripe fruit off their trees. No memory would be complete without the crunch of a caramel dipped apple on Halloween.
Yes, that’s a lot to put on a single smell, but that’s why burning leaves are so powerful. I’m certain if you ask any Baby Boomer what smell evokes autumn for them it will be the same.
There’s a certain comfort in memories now. When younger I never thought much about the past because I was too busy living in the present, and of course when one is young there is very little past to recall.
This past year when I’ve been forced to come face to face with my own mortality and had little ability to move my life forward as I’d have wished, the past seems so suddenly important. It’s as if I pulled out an old scrapbook filled with pictures and suddenly recalled how precious each snapshot has become.
Nostalgia has been a big part of how I’ve coped with this captivity because although I wasn’t free to travel outward, I could travel backward at my leisure. I could reflect at will upon those memories that had settled into the nooks and crannies of my brain and become hidden from view. Whenever a scent or sight drew them out of hiding I luxuriated in their warmth.
There has been a great deal of sharing with old friends on the phone and of course Facebook, and recalling time spent in childhood schools, stores and hometown haunts. Remembering my favorite foods makes me long for a local deli, great burgers or pizza, Chinese food on Sunday or a trip to the DQ. The burning leaves seem to be the magic carpet that transports me to the past, flying over childhood and once again absorbing the sights, smells and tastes of my youth. Filling me with the warmth so desperately needed in these cold, scary COVID days.
Even now when I’m walking and come upon a small pile of fallen dried leaves I will crunch them under my feet and feel a sense of satisfaction as the sound hits my ears.
Perhaps it isn’t the COVID that has captured my imagination and yearning for happier times. It may simply be a side effect of baby boomerism. I can’t say for sure what has created this new desire to share memories with those with whom I shared my youth, but it is a heady and incredibly magnetic feeling.
The question “do you remember” could probably be translated as, “oh, how I miss.”
Whatever the reason I shall always love the smell of burning leaves and the wonderful feelings they evoke and in this uncertain world, of that I am certain.
This Too Shall Pass
This morning I received a Facetime call from a good friend in Florida. We’ve known one another forever so I accepted. There are few people I would Facetime with looking as I do.
Of course before picking it up I wondered if the shock of my glasses, ten-foot gray roots and lack of any make up would scare her into some type of cardiac episode, still I relented and answered.
To my relief Nancy was not exactly dressed for the ball either so both of us laughed, shook our heads and chatted. There’s a certain comfort to talking to old friends right now and makes this all seem a bit more bearable.
Aside from the miraculous ability to speak with each other face to face across the country, there was also a sense of wow, here we are two old friends just chatting away no differently than we have all our lives. But of course we aren’t kids anymore.
We’ve been friends since elementary school and now we’re the frogs in the pot of hot water.
Time has wreaked a certain amount of havoc on us and it’s been a slow and methodical advance. Like the frog in the pot of water that doesn’t realize the burner is getting hotter underneath him until it’s at the boiling point and too late to jump out.
Well, friends it’s too late to jump out now. COVID has locked us in with our memories and regrets for company.
My mantra has always been “this too shall pass,” and it’s worked well because most things will and do. At this moment in time, I’m not feeling so certain.
It isn’t as if the corona virus will go away and we’ll all suddenly leave our homes once again young and vital.
Oh sure we’ll once more drag our exhausted carcasses out of bed, slop on the make up, pick a flattering outfit to disguise the COVID ten pound weight gain and join the human race again, but will we be just a bit worse for wear?
Despite the fact a vaccine seems to be in the offing, how will that affect our generation?
Most people I know are not slipping on their sneakers and running out the door to be the first in line to test this new miracle drug.
I’m pretty much in the “let’s wait and see if anyone drops dead before I rush to get poked” camp.
However there will be many of us who’ll say, “I don’t give a damn about the risk, get me the hell outta here already.”
So we’ll get injected in order to kiss our grandchildren, return to our maj or canasta games, get our mani pedi and hit the mall. Or for some go back to work.
But will the vaccine actually be roadrunner and coyote running toward the cliff and be left hanging in mid air situation?
Since our generation has some institutional memory of vaccines and meds like polio and thalidomide we may take a beat before rushing out to offer up our arm. Yet optimism must rule of the day.
Of course as my friend Nancy said today she is not missing having to slather on that make up. So what are the upsides of hanging indoors?
Oh for sure the food must be number one.
Add to the calorie comas the ability to dress in elastic waists, time to cook and Amazon Whole Foods delivery and bingo, I’d call that a Trifecta.
Where once I’d have to eat standing up before any upcoming event to try and force the calories immediately down to my feet, I can now shamelessly eat sitting down. There is no reason to stress about fitting in those new jeans because I don’t have to squeeze into them yet.
Everyone is exchanging recipes and channeling their inner chef in a happy and carefree gorge fest.
Streaming television is now a staple in our homes when once it was just something new and different to try out when we felt in the mood. Not anymore! It is now the go-to means of entertainment with an unlimited supply of series, movies, documentaries and specials to keep us glued to the set with no end of discussions with friends about the content. “Have you seen?” is the new conversation opener between friends as they discuss, review and analyze the latest binge watch.
To appease my grandsons I will be signing up for Disney Plus this week in an effort to binge watch a series called The Mandalorian. I think it’s somehow related to Yoda, so count this Grammy Geek in.
I’ve already watched every episode of West Wing eleven times and actually keep it on when I’m cleaning or cooking for background noise.
You’d honestly think I was studying for an exam or something. Like when I get out of here Martin Sheen will be waiting to test me on season two, episode one.
Of course having the time and inclination to focus on my writing is a great plus. Some of you may know and others may not that distractions are mother’s milk to a writer. Any excuse to avoid sitting in front of the monitor and typing and we’re out the door in a New York minute.
For those who are lazy they’ve invented a pedal bike you can place on the floor in front of you or under a desk or table. Since I’d have to opt for lazy, I’ve been using this bike while I watch television to ease my guilt at sitting on my bony tuchas. Should I be outside exercising, of course, but since the experts are now saying the virus can attach itself to your shoes, I’m jumping on that one as an excuse to avoid the great outdoors.
Life has certainly become different now and for those who are seeing their families and going for rides or walking the streets it’s one way to avoid going insane completely.
This too shall pass, everything does, but I often wonder what will it pass into?
Will we frequent restaurants as much, go to movies or theater, try on clothes in dressing rooms once again and travel to distant lands?
No one seems qualified to say for certain what this brave new world will look like when COVID enters the dustbin of history. I only know that we’ll all be happy I’m sure to escape into the world once more, but what that world will be, I can’t even begin to imagine.
Will I miss streaming, eating and elastic, you bet. Captivity has a certain safe vibe that provides comfort and assurance, but when the doors open and this passes, I’ll run like the wind to escape my COVID bonds.
It’s a well known fact life moves faster than the speed of light and when wisdom arrives it’s already too old to outrun the past. Saying goodbye to the last year I’m shocked I could be so happy to see a year go by at my age. Seriously. I’m never happy to see time pass anymore.
Yet, this year is of course the exception and we are all optimistic and betting 2021 will be a winner and life will once again return to normal.
Reflecting on the last twelve months I’ve come to the conclusion it would be simpler if time moved backward ala Benjamin Button to acquire wisdom we can use throughout our lives.
So many talk about others as an old soul. I imagine they are alluding to knowledge beyond one’s years, but can one actually move beyond their own knowledge without actually living the lessons confronting each of us?
The most effective teacher is experience and there is a limit on the hours we possess each day.
So because I have so much time on my hands now, and it would be wise to use it for something besides opening the refrigerator, I’ve invented something that will revolutionize living.
Ladies and Germs I give you, wait for it…the wisdom clock.
Easy to use and I’m sure the price could be brought down to an affordable number for everyone. I should probably go on Shark Tank to get funding although I’m certain Mr. Wonderful (how misnamed is that guy?) would call me stupid and say it’ll never sell.
I am however equally as sure Lori Greiner would grab it up to promote on QVC and sell millions with very little effort.
So by now you’re wondering what this amazing invention would do for you.
Well step right up ladies and gents and give me a moment of your time to tell you about the greatest cure all since Uncle Billy’s Rheumatism Eraser and Housecleaning Oil.
Simple to operate as one has merely to set the clock ahead to any future time and it will transport you to a lesson you haven’t yet learned.
This goes so far beyond H.G. Wells and his rinky-dink time travel machine, he should be embarrassed.
You just set it and instantly you’re living in that moment and watching your future.
For example you have a date with someone new. You set the clock ahead for one year and it shows you what’s happening on that day.
Okay, I didn’t say it would always be pleasant, but just think how great it would be if you knew in advance someone was going to break your heart six months into the relationship?
You’d simply cancel the date and avoid the mistake.
Our operators are standing by to take your orders.
Or perhaps you’re torn by a decision of whether to take a new job or stay put.
Turn that dial; check out a year from now and voila. It’s all there and either you’ve moved onto a fabulous position or to a terrible state.
You could even check out that new hair color and save yourself the pain. Need I even mention buying Apple at $22.00 a share?
No wondering or stressing about choices now.
This is better than Dial a Psychic and you don’t have to pay by the minute.
Just imagine how much anguish you’d prevent had you known the future.
The wisdom clock, what a concept, step right up no waiting.
To acquire knowledge without enduring the pain that accompanies life lessons is an amazing feat. I’m surprised no one has thought of this before. Forget Facebook or Google schmoogle, the wisdom clock is the bomb.
To eliminate heartache and suffering by merely having the information we all need in advance is a gift.
However, since it may be a while before I get this thing to market what can we do in the meantime to avoid making mistakes?
Without the wisdom clock we’re on our own.
Yet, if we’re honest we’ve always had the power to make good choices had we only heeded the signs. Perhaps we should’ve listened to that little voice inside giving us a stomachache when we were about to embark on a foolish decision?
Thinking back on my life every bad choice I’ve ever made has been accompanied by a sign waving red flags I chose to ignore.
Watching The Crown the other night and it’s extraordinary, I was quite taken by the fact there were so many red flags and roadblocks thrown in Diana’s path before she married Charles. Not even small ones, but Whoopi Goldberg screaming, “Diana you in trouble girl, get the hell out of here!” Alas, perhaps owing to youth, lack of wisdom, some might say destiny, she forged ahead into a doomed marriage.
Yet we are all Diana many times, moving and choosing with sheer abandon situations we sense will not have a happy ending. Still, we talk ourselves into believing it’s okay because we simply want them to be.
Some more than others we are in some ways Cleopatra: Queen of Denial and ignoring that little voice inside screaming, “run like hell.”
So why do some people possess the ability to choose wisely and some just never get it right?
I’ve noticed those who make good choices have good lives, but many stumble into good fortune through no great insight or intelligence of their own.
So maybe the wisdom clock is no more effective than having good instincts and heeding our own warning voice.
Oftentimes the noise in our heads drowns out those better choices and we fall head first into chaos.
It’s so much easier to evoke the “it-was-meant-to-be excuse” than simply admit you screwed up.
I guess that’s how we all get through the day and perhaps that is a special kind of ingenuity in the end.
Realizing that no matter how certain we are we’ve made the right call, sometimes it just turns out the way it’s supposed to, bad or good.
Wisdom doesn’t simply appear with age for I would argue many people learn nothing as they grow older and remain unwise until the end.
In Vegas terms, life is a gamble and our choices are no more than a bet on the poker table and we all must ante up. The stakes can be grossly high or sometimes infinitesimal, but if you’re in the game remember, the house always wins.
May the house be yours in 2021 and all your bets pay off big! Happy New Year, everyone!
There’s a Disturbance in the Force
I imagine it’s inevitable and every writer faces a tragic truth one day. I’d always believed simply sitting in front of a blank sheet of paper or of course now a computer screen would ultimately produce the desired result and emit forth a wealth of plentiful prose. It was simply a matter of time I told myself and the words would flow like money from a drunken gambler at a Las Vegas craps table. Truthfully they always did, until now.
I must face the fact that after the captivity of COVID I’ve run out of things to say.
My mind is clouded by the numbness that grows out of boredom and despite my efforts I can’t find the words, or any words actually.
Yet, of course why would I? Cooped up like a veal my mind has glossed over from too much media and carbohydrates.
What a combo. Although of course this seems to be a teenager’s dream and I’m certain it once was mine, the lack of stimulus has become malignant.
Like everyone I strive to remain relevant and in tune with the universe.
Calls to friends whom like myself feel the need to escape their bonds of virus prison may for a moment lessen the lack of communication with my fellow beings, but this isn’t entirely about conversation.
Perhaps that’s what we’ve forgotten or probably never before knew.
Living is not predicated by simply interacting with others, but with the other.
So what is the other other?
The other is the mere act of living within the world.
COVID has forced us to retreat and that is harmful to what creates the energy we all absorb into our lives.
Of course there are many that still venture out to stores, teach, work over the Internet or meet with friends.
But what of those who choose to remain behind closed doors hopefully safe from COVID’s clutches?
Strangely enough the result is the same for both.
My friends that go out feel equally as stifled and imprisoned as those who hide away.
I couldn’t imagine why and it didn’t seem to make any sense at all.
Yet truly it does.
If we believe there is an energy that permeates the world and enters into each life than the virus has zapped that power whether you’re home or outside.
There is to put it quite simply a disturbance in the force, young Skywalker and everyone feels the interruption.
Of course I’m not the first to speak about life forces and energy and certain I can’t possibly explain it as well as Master Yoda, but I’m actually witnessing the effects with my own eyes. I’m guessing this is something none of us has noticed before.
How many times have you felt something uplifting while just walking down a street looking in windows, or how satisfying it was driving a new car on a gorgeous spring day, listening to music and simply enjoying your freedom? It could be that happy feeling holiday shopping in the mall when everyone is rushing from store to store intent on finding the perfect gift?
Perhaps it is when sitting by the ocean and wiggling your toes in the wet sand on a cool autumn day when the beach is quiet and the waves are your only company that you feel alive and at peace.
These small moments that don’t amount to anything earth shaking like creating world peace, cleansing the oceans or curing cancer seem at times all we need.
There is satisfaction in being part of a world that is in motion, absorbing the essence of life in those around you. The unique connection each human being creates by simply existing in the universe, feeling and contributing to the energy.
This is something else COVID has given us. The frustration and hopelessness humans feel when they are captive and lose their sense of community.
Going for a walk, taking a drive or visiting with friends seems to make things better, and perhaps for a time it works. Still it’s merely a band-aid on a massive wound and why despite how hard we try we can’t stop the bleeding.
We need to see a smile on the person walking toward us, we need to feel the hugs of our family and friends, to travel and absorb the energy of novel places, new sights and active people. There is something palpable about a busy street or airport filled with travelers. Our souls require more than the latest Netflix offering, we crave the other.
Human beings cannot survive behind masks, closed off from the life force that sustains us.
There’s a reason people are suspicious of loners, anti social behavior and shut ins. Most view it as an unnatural and foreign state.
Of course some people are quite content by themselves and most are happy to be alone some of the time. Only it’s in the knowing that life is outside our door for the taking we remain secure and sane.
In our DNA we are social animals and being blocked off from the other has consequences. During this pandemic for the first time we as a human race are seeing these results up close and personal.
So what can one do to create at least a bit of the energy? At this point I suppose it’s the band-aid effect upon which we must rely. Call a friend, social distance, go outside, walk or take a ride. Have a picnic or go to the beach, there is something quite calming about the ocean. It won’t restore all our energy but at least a portion until our tank is once again full.
Without putting a name to it we sense something is missing and the effect on our life force is stifling. So until we are free to experience others and the other as well, I wish you fulfilling days and may the force always be with you.
Life on Planet Looney Tunes
I can’t even believe that Father Time has turned out to be such an abusive bastard.
Is it not awful enough that he sucks the minutes from us like a tornado moving through Kansas? Now he has allowed a pandemic to steal a year from our ever-growing shorter lives.
Thanks Father Time, may the bird of paradise fly up your diaper.
As if it’s not enough we have to contend with living in captivity, the world has literally gone so mad I’m seriously convinced I left the planet and am now residing on Planet Looney Tunes in the That’s-all-Folks galaxy.
Recently, I was watching Bye Bye Birdie and suddenly I thought, hey, wait a minute. This was my life. What happened to innocence, civility, decency, respect and embracing the simple pleasures?
I must be living in a parallel universe where crazy is the law of the land and everything is upside down.
It’s as if we’re reliving the dream of our teenage years, spending our time sitting in front of the television, sleeping in and eating whatever and whenever we choose.
Well at least that was the dream then anyway.
It took years to achieve the freedom to live our lives as we wish and now we’re on a time out in our rooms for something we never did.
The first clue I landed on Planet Looney Tunes was the masses paying thousands for Pelotons that covered the planet as far as the eye could see. People peddling for their life and sweating while some voice yelled at them from the great beyond. Isn’t relaxation supposed to be about quiet time?
I stopped riding bikes when my Schwinn rusted out and my tuchas lost all its fat, flattened out and the bicycle seat became my enemy.
On Looney Tunes, mobs rule, children disrespect their teachers and refuse to put down their cell phones, and anyone who attempts to change lanes while driving gets the universal middle finger signal.
When we were young we weren’t allowed to sit all day and watch television, we were castigated for overeating too many sweets, and were threatened with no television for not finishing our Brussel Sprouts. UGH! I hate those things to this day.
What has happened to our lives?
Every generation has been negatively impacted by the challenges of this craziness foisted upon us. Baby Boomers can’t cruise, tour countries they’ve never seen or play mah jong or canasta.
Children miss attending school with their friends. It’s sad they’re being deprived of their childhoods; attending class, playing outdoors, forming cliques and trying to survive high school.
I’m not saying childhood is perfect by any means, but how will our children cope with life if they’re never allowed to interact with the nice and not so nice?
Every generation faces difficulties, but I’m convinced it’s the way you emerge from challenges that matters. It is a plus that families are spending more time together. Well, for most families anyway.
I can’t even imagine how awful it was for our parents and grandparents during World War II when they endured four years of fears, rationing and the loss of loved ones without Netflix, Amazon or the Internet.
Can you imagine how much worse it would have been for everyone if they could’ve live streamed the Blitz or Pearl Harbor?
Sure this is awful, but four years of wondering if your sons, brothers, husbands, nephews or neighbors would ever return from Europe or the Pacific was bloody awful.
Perhaps our parents were tough because of the war. Perhaps we are powder puffs because aside from 9/11 we’ve had it relatively easy.
No, I’m not forgetting Viet Nam, the Cold War, John Kennedy’s assassination or Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress, but unless you lost someone in Nam, aside from the sadness we felt for those who did, our lives went on.
Aside from all the unnecessary death caused by that war, the saddest memory for me was the way our returning soldiers were treated. They’d been sent to a war for no other reason than to satisfy the egos of powerful men and made to pay a terrible price.
So yes, Viet Nam was a sad, horrible time, but I’m not certain it impacted the world as we are now experiencing.
Now we face another world war and because it’s biological it’s frightening and frustrating. We can’t pick up a rifle and shoot it, we can’t spy on it or run it over with a tank or nuke it with atom bombs. We can’t even force it to watch reruns of Petticoat Junction.
This is a new enemy, more evil than any we’ve seen. It’s as if China bottled the DNA from the most evil Nazi’s, put it in a test tube and loosed it on the world.
We are forced to cower in our caves like our ancestors when a wild boar sought them out. They had no weapons except a club or a rock.
As Albert Einstein was purported to have said, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
I guess somewhere along the way we luckily missed World War III because it seems we’re back to sticks and stones.
At the end of the day when, as all things do this pandemic passes, the better question is; into what kind of world will we return? Will our current struggles propel us forward as better people in a kinder, more civilized society or will we continue to be angry, bitter and volatile toward one another?
Have we learned as in the past after world wars that peace, love and sanity are the very building blocks of happiness or will we continue down a road of divisiveness and conflict?
I for one will be happy to be outside enjoying my life once again, spending my moments out of captivity doing as I wish. I just pray we can all celebrate being together again in a positive way right here on Planet Earth, and create a better world than ever before.
9/11: Is it Just Another Bad Memory?
Life is about mixed messaging. Today, remembering the terrible attack in New York, The Pentagon and Flight 93, the visuals return with every bit of their gruesome horror. Then as we humans have been instructed, they fade once more and are filed away into the back of our minds. Only the loved ones of the victims hold the pain closely with no reprieve.
If there is one truth it’s that evil has no politics, color or creed. Oh, of course many try to equate them, but it’s impossible because evil is found in every political party and in every corner of the planet. It’s an entity onto itself and exists solely within the heart and mind of man. It’s true however that it can be spread like a black river of oil unto a fertile plain or in an ocean among the innocent sea life fatally exposed.
Yet, if we Americans are so affected by evil events like 9/11, Pearl Harbor, the Holocaust, is it productive to sweep them aside until they are marked on a calendar each year?
Can we learn if we’re encouraged to forget? Can evil ever be eradicated if we allow it to fester and thrive as part of history?
We’re taught to live in the present and see those who live in the past encumbering their ability to live a happy life. Yet, the message is startlingly ambiguous when it’s only by remembering the lessons we can forge ahead wiser.
So which is it, recall or move forward?
What is the proper amount of bad memories to dredge up and when does that number cross the line into mental instability?
Pearl Harbor hasn’t been forgotten, yet the enemy that attacked us is now our friend. We no longer cast aspersions on Japan or its people, nor should we, yet the lessons of World War II seem long forgotten. Because the Japanese people are now considered allies does that mean Nazis are as well and we should be electing them to Congress?
Today in the United States Congress Representative James Clayburn of North Carolina, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, demeaned Jewish Holocaust survivors to defend the hateful remarks of one of his America hating, anti-Semitic colleagues, Ilhan Omar.
So are we now to assume that every one who cast a vote for this horrible man or for her abhors Jewish people? I wouldn’t like to think that true, yet why is someone who castigates survivors serving in a country that fought a war to destroy a regime determined to kill all those whom their leaders deemed less worthy to breathe the same air?
Should hate spreaders be allowed to serve in our Congress among those that lost relatives at the hand of evil without censure or a day of reckoning? Their loathing has been exposed on numerous other occasions, yet they are not held accountable for their hate speech. America cannot condone such behavior and elect haters still we continue to do so.
Yes, free speech is the cornerstone of our democracy and without it there is fascism, but should we be electing evil spreaders to make our laws and lead our country? Intolerance is intolerable and yet we foster and nurture it in our own government.
So where do we live? In the past, present or future and which will allow us to improve life by learning from the lessons that cost us so dearly?
If it is healthier to evolve from the past is it also healthy to move on from the memory of foul deeds and events?
I’m mystified by the amount of maliciousness I witness on a daily basis and how perfectly acceptable it has become to overtly express these feelings, no matter how despicable.
The world accepts too easily what it hears and finds it easier to believe what they are told then to fight back. Because evil is proactive and good is reactive the scales are weighted in favor of the aggressor.
The simple truth is that we do indeed forget, because we are trained to do so. Live in the present is the chosen mantra.
Israel and many countries in the Middle East have just entered into a peace deal that will change that area if not the entire world.
Former enemies will now be friends and free to travel, trade and break bread together.
So what lesson must we learn from these shifting world dynamics?
I laugh at the simplicity of my own answer; to err is human to forgive divine.
Yet forgiveness does not mean forgetting. No, we cannot remember everything, but even if relegated to the past they must continue to strengthen our moral code.
If we forget the deaths and lessons of the wars we fought then we’ll be doomed to reelect politicians who espouse divisiveness. If we forget we must be vigilant when dealing with those who’ve proven to exercise evil deeds with no remorse, then we’re doomed to repeat mistakes and be vulnerable to malice.
If a government becomes so indifferent to the vindictive speech and deeds advocated by their leadership then unfortunately we have many examples of the outcome of such folly and its effect on humanity.
One comment should be enough to engage our outrage and battle against darkness. When someone shows you who they are, believe them or suffer the consequences. Can there ever be enough history to accomplish this end?
Yes, life is filled with mixed messages and from where I sit now I’m dubious. However, we must retain hope if we are all to survive and once again remember or even sadly, forget.
Yes, life is filled with mixed messages and from where I sit now I’m dubious. However, we must retain hope if we are all to survive and once again remember or even sadly, forget.
It’s Never Too Late? But For What?
Its never too late is a phrase I’ve learned to hate. It’s a bigger lie than I’ll still respect you in the morning or read my lips no new taxes or no, your ass doesn’t look fat in those pants.
My entire life I bought into the belief that as long as you’re still breathing there is always tomorrow and another opportunity to get it right.
Of late I’ve come to understand there is a point at which when you knock, opportunity says, “sorry, no one’s home.”
The difficult fact to acknowledge is you actually do get to a place when you’re just too damn old to do some of the things you’ve dreamed of doing. Years of garnering wisdom cannot make up for physical prowess, but it can lead you to a different path.
Sure you can point to an Iris Apfel at 96 still hawking her wears on HSN, but she didn’t start that business in her nineties.
Starting over at a certain point is pointless.
The revelation that you’ve reached a time where certain of life’s choices are no longer available is heartbreaking and yet one must come to terms with the fact it’s a stark reality of aging.
There are many who reach the laugh, laugh golden years and are quite happy to hang up their spurs. After a lifetime of hard work and smart investing many seniors are happy to travel and play golf or tennis if health permits.
So you’re asking, what’s so bad about that, Norma? Must you always bitch about this whole getting-old-thing? Why can’t you just shut up and go to a driving range?
Sadly, I’m of the school that believes that there’s so much to do in life I selfishly want to experience more.
When younger I’d read stories about 60-year olds that went to law school or 50-year olds that lost their jobs and started their own businesses and I found it so inspiring.
Now of course I realize these people were not in their seventies. Oops, that smarts.
So what is someone standing at the doorway of old age supposed to do when their spirit and mind says start that business or get that job when opportunity slams the door in their crows-footed face?
Baby Boomers joke with one another constantly about forgetting what they’re saying from one minute to the next. Walking into a room and being unable to even remember why you did and the inability to recall names or familiar words. We all compare what body part needs replacing or aches that particular day and mourn the fact we can’t eat an entire corned beef sandwich without inhaling Tums.
My body is now calling the shots and literally rules my world. I feel like a mummy that walks forward while pieces of wrappings drop off with every step. “Ouch” now describes my athletic prowess.
I do recognize the fact many grow older without as much physical damage, but no one’s body totally seems to escape the ravages of time unless they’re one of the really lucky ones.
In the end of course the truly lucky ones are actually those still alive to complain about the aches and pains.
I had a doctor friend who used to say that if you’re over forty and you wake up in the morning and something doesn’t hurt, you’re dead.
Okay, I’ve kvetched enough, but isn’t there some truth to my bitching? Yep, humor aside, time often robs us of our dreams.
To be realistic most seniors cannot become a country music star at eighty, go back to school and become a doctor at seventy-eight or get an MBA at ninety. Life is what it is and time unfortunately is a cruel dictator. And yes, you can argue that becoming a country star at eighty is doable, but try to come up against the young people running the music and show businesses and see how far you’d get unless you’re a Maggie Smith or Judy Densch.
So what can one do as the years pile up? Plenty, if agenda matches ability. We can take on new goals and let the old pipe dreams fly away on that Spring breeze that carries old desires away to some youth-filled Neverland.
Is it sad to say goodbye to those aspirations so long a part of our soul? Of course, and one of the pains of aging is letting go of the dreams so long inside, much like old friends we’ll never seen again.
When I was sixty I applied for a job at a newspaper that was far below my abilities. The interview went well as the editor knew me by reputation and we’d even met socially on occasion. At the end he asked me, “Would you feel awkward working here among so many young people?”
“Where do you think I’d feel better working, at a nursing home?” I asked.
Needless to say he’d dropped the A Bomb (age bomb) and literally given his prejudices away.
Yes, sadly there seems to be a time when one outlives their usefulness in a youth-oriented culture. When it’s time to leave and despite how much you’d like to stay, the party’s pretty much over.
So as when we were younger and a goal didn’t materialize no matter how hard we tried, we must now bury many of our ambitions and seek new, realistic objectives.
Of course for some it’s easier as they are happy with a retirement filled with easily achievable goals. A hole in one, regular visits to the grandchildren, a riverboat cruise along the Danube, trip to Las Vegas or a Maj Jong tournament, and these are all great ways to spend one’s retirement.
Yet so many of even these aims are dependent on physical or financial health and many times when dream meets reality one falls short.
No, this isn’t intended to depress the hell out of you; it’s just a shout out to perhaps find a new project that inspires your passion.
Especially now when we’re relegated to our homes in hiding from the monster virus it’s easier to feel helpless and hopeless about the future. Now when each minute takes on new meaning and significance a year of our time has been stolen from our lives. For many it will be difficult to tear oneself away from our new berth in front of the big screen and our affair with Netflix and that’s okay, too.
I’m just kind of venting about getting back out into the world and creating a new existence.
Whether it’s resting on one’s laurels or realizing a long held dream, go for it and make it happen knowing what warriors we Baby Boomers truly are.
Accept what you can’t do with grace, create the life you desire and recognize how much you still have within you to achieve.
There’s a reason poet Dylan Thomas wrote, “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
So I’m schlepping myself away from this jigsaw puzzle and checking out my bucket list. For every item I can no longer achieve I’ll add another one I can.
Oy! I think the first one I’ll add is get up off the couch in under five minutes. Hmmm, do you think I can still hitchhike through Italy?
I’d be happy to do a cheer for your goals, but I’m not sure I could lift the pom poms over my head.
Scatter My Ass Over Costco
I recently watched a documentary (what else do I have to do?) entitled Scatter My Ashes Over Bergdorf Goodman. It was late at night when I noticed it on Prime so at first I thought it read scatter my ass over Bergdorf Goodman, which really peaked my curiosity, but I digress.
The place has a fascinating history and supposedly a cartoonist from The New Yorker magazine had coined the phrase years ago.
I began to watch, and of course the store is amazing. Wall to wall materialism all wrapped up in the heady air of if-you-have-to-ask-the-price-you-shouldn’t-be-here.
Quality is king because apparently founder Herman Bergdorf was a tailor so he fixated on the workmanship of the garments allowed into the sacred halls of this palace of yummy, couture creations. The store sits atop the site of the Cornelius Vanderbilt II mansion on Fifth Avenue so perhaps wealth is already in the soil’s DNA.
BG buyers spoke of how they discovered and brought along designers until they were Bergdorf worthy and demanded exclusivity from those lucky enough to make the cut.
Personal shoppers spoke of anonymous clients too famous to mention, like we can’t guess, and of course since they work on commission it was revealed that someone working at Bergdorf could make as much as half a million dollars salary a year.
After seriously rethinking my career choices while inhaling two almond snickers bars, I continued my journey through this capital of couture. It wasn’t so much the fact the store was filled with beautiful and expensive merchandise; it was their method of display.
Even the windows had risen to an art form. I must admit I was more taken with many of the objects their artisans created for Bergdorf’s windows than the Marcel Duchamp’s Urinal Fountain sculpture, so there’s that.
Now begs the question, what qualifies something to be expensive? In real estate it’s of course location location location, but even that changes. Bet you could get a hellava deal right now on a New York condo.
Is it merely the way something is presented that catches the eye of the lover of all things expensive and exotic?
Does Bergdorf have the formula for success that proves entering a world so beautifully appointed it stands to reason everything within must be coveted and desired?
If that’s true we must closely examine Costco.
They as Bergdorf have created their own brand in Kirkland, and like BG have searched for only the best to bestow their own label upon and allow within their hallowed, concrete walls. However, if quality is also measured by design than Costco has quite a way to go.
The whole warehouse ambiance doesn’t quite do it for me. Although it does give one a feeling the bargains stretch on forever.
On the opposite side of the equation, walking into Bergdorf’s one is immediately taken by the rich woods, marble and glass surroundings providing a luxurious atmosphere of wealth and privilege. Although one might surmise this was designed to scare off those whom may recognize the aroma of luxury, but can certainly not afford such opulence, the desire to mingle with money is indeed seductive. It’s Newport on steroids and offers familiarity to coveted customers.
However one story amused me about Mr. Goodman told by his grandson.
It seems a bag lady walked into the fur department one day and admired a coat.
Of course Mr. Goodman was polite but evasive when asked the price, thinking she was unable to afford such luxury.
Now we all know the ending to this one, she reached into her paper bags paid cash and bought the coat, teaching him a valuable lesson about not judging a book by its cover.
I was surprised he had not learned this earlier in his life since I was well aware of its truth early on. My grandparents, who dressed like bag people, once drove from Detroit to Miami in their new Cadillac with 100,000 dollars in my grandmother’s pocketbook to buy an apartment building on the beach. They didn’t trust banks.
Could one have easily mistaken them for the janitor and housekeeper? Absolutely, so this lesson came to me young.
Mr. Goodman’s naïveté aside it’s the policy of BG to be polite to all who enter the perfectly appointed surroundings and even if you are there to simply drool over that six-thousand dollar Bottega Veneta handbag, courtesy will be extended.
This respect isn’t a bad thing; in fact it’s actually very good. Since I’ve noticed that of late many Neiman Marcus sales people treat even those who walk about the store sporting Gucci as though they were the dirt under their Louboutins. Not hard to figure out why the bottom line has reached rock bottom in that retail scenario.
So I must ask myself, is it in the fantasy that the reality of value exists? And do we all crave a small slice of that high-class challah?
BG can no longer demand exclusivity as in the past when Halston was asked to leave when he aligned himself with, wait for it, J.C. Penney. Gasp and clutch the pearls.
If one claims to be the best, are they? Who should challenge a belief system backed up with such confidence? Not me I’ll tell you. Whatever gets you through the day, that’s my mantra.
Yes, if it’s true clothes make the man, it follows that ambiance makes the store.
When one declares, “Scatter my ashes over Bergdorf Goodman,” are they actually saying, “let me luxuriate forever in that air of refinement and sophistication?” I want to spend eternity with Fendi and Dior and can you throw a bit of Alexander McQueen and Prada into the mix? For many there is of course some stability and comfort in knowing that lavish world still exists.
Beats the hell out of a desire to spend one’s eternity fighting off the Christmas rush at Walmart.
Still, I’ve decided that if I’m going to be doing time in some sort of eternal afterlife Costco would be the best choice.
After all, they’ve achieved a great business model, despite their whole cheesy warehouse cache. But on the upside there’s a bakery with a damn good apple pie, samples to munch on while I laze about unnoticed watching those still breathing, and of course if needed they offer a wide variety of underwear, shoes and giant screen televisions from which to choose.
“Hey lady, where did you get those samples of chocolate popcorn?”
No matter where you opt to spend your next foray into some sort of existence one consideration remains apparent if not a bit ironic; your ashes will be swept up a lot faster at Bergdorf Goodman than at Costco where ashes would only enhance the ambiance. So be like Indiana Jones and choose carefully or your whole afterlife could be really, really short.
Gold Dust Cupcakes
1 box yellow cake mix
Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box
2 containers chocolate frosting
1 tablespoon of edible gold luster dust
Heat oven to 350° F (325° F for dark or nonstick pans). Line 24 regular-size muffin cups with gold metallic paper baking cups. Make and bake cupcakes as directed on box. Cool cupcakes completely before frosting.
Transfer frosting to large decorating bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Let cupcakes stand uncovered until frosting is set, about 2 hours. Gently touch-test frosting with fingertip-the outside should be dry to the touch. If frosting is still wet and smears, allow additional drying time.
When frosting is set, load small soft-bristle dry artist’s brush with gold luster dust. Gently brush over frosting portion of a cupcake until a gold sheen is achieved. Repeat with remaining cupcakes. A second coat of luster dust can be applied for intensified golden color.
Store cupcakes loosely covered with plastic wrap or in air-tight plastic cupcake-keeper.
Genius or Madness? You Be The Judge
How do you know when you’ve reached the pinnacle of your game?
How can anyone know when that next thing will be the one thing that takes you over the top and ends your struggle for success?
For a comic it may be the next gig, for an artist that next painting or sculpture, for a businessman that upcoming deal and for everyone just taking the next offer even after you’ve sworn you’re giving up.
So is it the ones that don’t give up that necessarily cross the finish line?
And of course the next question would have to be, how do you know when it’s over and time to throw in the towel? However, unlike others who strive can it ever be over for an artist?
Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime; Red Vineyard at Arles and the rest sat in a prison of anonymity until his death?
So why did that one painting not secure the future of one of the great masters whose paintings now sell in the millions of dollars?
Why couldn’t he cross over into elusive stardom and needlessly suffered pain and frustration until he died? By anyone’s standards Van Gogh wasn’t a failure and yet in his own lifetime he was.
As a student of human nature and life, I as so many others have often sought to explain the randomness of success. Simply put, there is no rhyme or reason for those who are propelled into the illusive land of stardom and those who are forever condemned to a life of unappreciated struggle.
So who decides someone’s fate? Is it some force of destiny sitting behind a desk in a corner of Macy’s New York store behind the Thanksgiving Day balloons? Or is it within oneself to choose the time and arrival of our achievements and no one else?
Too many are quick to say those that crave success enough will discover it, yet I’ve watched countless talented and gifted people struggle and fail for a lifetime. In retrospect I’ve also seen the mediocre rise to the top, receive accolades and praise truly unwarranted by their limited talent.
So where is the cut off between fate, talent and sheer moxie?
Is it no more than an uncanny ability to hear the word no as yes? Or stop as go? To never give up despite all signs pointing to the exit?
Van Gogh never stopped painting and since I’ve never spoken with him, I can’t speak to his true ambitions. Of course I know of his torment and the obvious pain in his soul that led him to cut off his own ear and ultimately commit suicide. Yet if he was so unfulfilled and angst ridden, why go on? Why continue doing what caused such unrelenting pain?
Was it lunacy that drove him? The very definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. So was he mad? Or was he driven by some unknown force, even to him that shouted loudly paint, paint, paint even as the world shouted back, “we don’t want you?”
Is it insanity or optimism and are they the same?
I’m certain many optimists would take umbrage to that comparison, yet isn’t optimism simply seeing only a good result at the end of the day when reality continually proves otherwise?
Telling one to retain hope in a hopeless situation and keep on truckin on even after getting run over on your chosen path is considered good advice by many.
Why would Van Gogh suffer, but Picasso collect accolades and untold wealth for merely expressing their extraordinary gifts? Was one a higher form of genius or producer of masterpieces? The facts prove otherwise?
So asking the burning yet never before answered question, why, I can still offer no answer.
You might ask what is the point in the asking? After all greater scholars and thinkers than I have sought the answer to this ageless enigma…does hard work and perseverance always equal success?
I’m afraid that’s not an answer but merely a conclusion drawn from observing so many successful people.
Yet do we too quickly dismiss those who have adopted that same equation and attained the opposite result?
What separates the frustrated Van Gogh from a successful Picasso? Is it simply a matter of timing? Can some be lost in the trends or mores of their day and reemerge later after becoming the very trend itself, when others defining genius finally see fit to choose them?
Is it only the decision makers that call the shots for art and those with the most cache and clout decide the fate and definition of genius?
Even a Picasso whose brilliance is never doubted will inspire some to stand back and murmur, “I just don’t get it?”
Can anyone say Toulouse Lautrec, Claude Monet and numerous others never recognized during their life are more talented in death?
Franz Kafka, Henry David Thoreau, Edgar Allen Poe, John Keats are all now immortal by today’s standards and yet struggled to achieve respect or fortune during their own lifetime.
So artists and even scientists must many times be satisfied with following their destiny alone and as Thoreau wrote, “live lives of quiet desperation.”
Despite the gift one has received from the universe, a talent they may feel compelled to exhibit, there is still that small part within us all that seeks to be part of the herd, to fit into society and find one’s place.
If we create an imbalance between those two needs, fitting in and the desperate drive to express our art and separate ourselves, we’ll fail to achieve the equilibrium that promotes stability and contentment.
So does it merely come down to luck and timing?
Or having the right power broker smile down on you and your work to achieve success? Without an advocate is Claude Monet any less a genius?
I believe there is a force of destiny at work in the universe, and yet the sheer amount of luck at receiving approval from those with the power to say whom will live and die with their talent cannot be denied.
There must be an originator and an admirer working in tandem to achieve success. Yet there is also much to be said for one’s passion and resolve to express the art within, whether or not anyone ever understands or appreciates its greatness, except its own creator. It’s only this desperation to exorcise one’s gift that compels the artist and in the end that’s as much control as one may expect in a judgmental world.
Lox and Bagel Bites
1 tub whipped cream cheese
1 tablespoon finely chopped sweet onion
½ cup nova lox cut up
1 hard boiled egg optional
Cut cucumbers in 1-inch circles
Hollow out seeds and pat dry and set aside don’t go all the way through the cucumber so filling stays inside.
Mix together lox onions and cream cheese and lighting salt and pepper. Remember lox can be salty so go slow with the seasoning
With a teaspoon or a pastry bag fill cucumber rounds with cream cheese mixture.
Garnish with pieces of bagel chips and if so desired grate some hardboiled egg on top.
Great appetizers for brunch or a snack
Nothin’ Says Lovin’
I can’t claim to know much anymore, but one thing is for sure…after this damn COVID is over I’m done cooking. I feel like my children are young again and I’m spending all day in the kitchen playing chef du jour for my little angels and my husband.
As in the past once again it’s one bite for you one for the garbage disposal, (that was my nickname back in those days). Now I feel like I should have a t-shirt made for myself printed with Insinkerator.
Only problem is there are no kids here to split my food with so it’s all going into the garbage disposal, AKA me.
Last night I dreamed my oven was hiding behind my bedroom door waiting to attack me with a giant spatula. It tied me up and force-fed me zucchini chips while it screamed, “Do you have to make crummy veggies that spend all day in the oven drying out? Don’t I deserve a break? I can’t take anymore I’m a wreck.” Then it broke down and started to cry. It trudged out of the room after handing me a coupon for Dominos and a copy of Shakespeare with a quote about the quality of mercy being strained or something.
Guilt from my oven? What’s next, a letter from the Chinese requesting money for the sick scientists who brought us COVID? Much like the guy who murdered his parents and threw himself on the mercy of the court because he was an orphan.
I can’t even think of a single food that appeals to me anymore. My taste buds are telling me, “No thanks man, I’m good,” and closing down.
I’ve baked, sautéed, fried, stewed, roasted, chopped, sliced and mooshed and nothing even appeals to me anymore. I’ve air-dried and French-fried and I’m fried, period. I’ve even sold my soul for Creole and I’m just plain done.
I’ve eaten every cuisine from here to Outer Mongolia and I’m wondering if the Astronauts have any suggestions.
If you see a flying saucer would you please flag it down and see what they’re serving on board for lunch.
The other day I’d swear I saw a feather growing out of my tuchas from all the chicken I’ve eaten.
No, Charlie Tuna I’m no threat anymore so rest easy.
No more Jiff in a Jiffy no more Burger Kings or Dairy Queens, and Jack can just close his box because I’m not interested.
No Chick Fil A or Chick Fil B for me cause I’m over this whole COVID food thing.
I know I should be grateful to be here in peace and quiet, eating, cooking, baking and answering to no one’s taste buds or food cravings but my own.
Sorry, not feeling it.
If someone else made me a taco would I bite? Maybe, but I won’t guarantee that would work.
I’m just tired and can’t get my taste buds excited about anything anymore.
Eating as a hobby is getting super old and I want to go back to my old life. Retail cardio, now that’s a hobby. I never realized what a thrill it would be to walk down the crowded aisles of a store and just stare at something until I decide to buy or not to buy.
Oh sure, Amazon may pretend to have aisles but they don’t.
When was the last time you stood weighing a buying decision until someone came by with their cart and barked, “Do you mind?” Oh to hear the sound of a rude customer annoyed because I’m blocking her way again.
Or to play Maj Jong and hear the clackity clack of the tiles on the table as I two bam four crack happily along while shoveling in handfuls of chocolate-coated gummy bears.
Lord, I’d even settle for hearing the words “blue light special aisle six,” over the loud speaker.
Cooking doesn’t cut it. Sure for the first few months it was fun to be in the kitchen, now I feel like I’m on the spinning teacups at Magic Mountain when my overwhelming nausea forced me to insist the guy stop the ride so I could get off. (My son doesn’t like me to repeat that story, apparently the embarrassment he suffered was traumatic).
Please let me out of the kitchen so I can get back to living my life, bitching about LA drivers, sitting and fuming in traffic, looking for a parking spot at the mall out of the sun, hanging up on and cursing at robocalls.
Oops, wait a minute those are stressful things that make me want to eat more.
Is there no way I can escape food? Must I be forever attached to my oven and chained to the stove top?
I totally envy those who can use this moment of quarantine for Peloton riding or speed walking about the neighborhood or even exercising in front of the flat screen with some anorexic zealot.
I’m just not one of them.
As a foodie my instincts are for food to fill time as I try to convince myself I’m not bored as hell. Meanwhile I’m chomping at the bit to get the heck out of this place like Seabiscuit at the starting line.
Some days I just want to scream “Help,” out the window as the fitness conscience walkers speed by. Full of themselves and their whole damn healthy outlook while I dip another double stuff Oreo into the milk and toss it into my mouth.
Now I’m in a real conundrum because the joy of shoveling in calories has waned and I’m feeling down, and when I’m down I habitually look toward food to lift me up.
This cannot be good.
So I’m forced to do the unthinkable…find something besides eating to make me happy and fill the hours.
Yes, I know there are millions of things besides consuming edibles, yet I’ve never considered them an appropriate substitute for good old chocolate.
So I shall wrack my brain compiling a list of productive pastimes. Hopefully after a few weeks of practicing a wholesome lifestyle, my taste buds will return to normal and welcome some fried cluck with biscuits or an oink lettuce and tomato sandwich or a fake whopper with real bacon and Burger King’s less than stellar French fries.
After all, one must keep hope alive and in the age of COVID, perhaps that’s the best we can hope for, besides curbside pick up of course.
How The Hell Did I Get This Old?
If I ever get my hands on Father Time he’ll pay big time for schlepping me kicking and screaming into the so-called Golden Years.
Did you ever notice that life is like a roll of toilet paper? The closer you get to the end the faster it goes. So you’re asking yourself if I’m comparing life to toilet paper, which would be the obvious conclusion and yet you’d be wrong. Life is far more complex than paper and the ability to explain or analyze it as a phenomenon is for wiser minds than mine.
However that said, life isn’t without its moments of perplexing and insufferable crap, but I shall choose the high road and say that as one nears the end of the journey we are left with a conundrum…if we were given the chance for a do over, would we?
So as we face the goldest part of our golden years filled with wisdom, experience and a sheer and flagrant who-gives-a-damn-anymore attitude are we truly prepared to jump back on for another ride on the scariest merry go round of all, youth?
Of course most agree that another shot at life would be counterproductive if we couldn’t do the do over with the information we’ve garnered from this ride, so I’d probably wonder if it were worth making that journey without benefit of what I’ve learned and even a few lifeline calls to a friend along the way.
Not sure I’d want to go through natural childbirth again, but I hope next time around I’d opt for an epidural from their conception until they finish high school.
Ah, but would I, you see that’s the rub, because who’s to say one wouldn’t make even worse decisions than before and find an even more challenging life waiting as we begin again?
And of course what a journey it is and the trite and misguided belief that we’d do things differently given the chance doesn’t hold much water for the simple reason most of us never do when we are given the chance every day.
That’s the catch of course. We wake up each morning more wise and experienced than the day before, at least that’s the theory, and yet most of us cling to the same paradigms and behaviors that have created our lives.
Larry David one of the most gifted and out-there comic minds of my generation took on this topic on Seinfeld in the fifth season. Entitled The Opposite, Jerry proposes the theory to George Costanza, “If every instinct you have is wrong than the opposite would have to be right.”
In simplicity there is genius. Of course when he enacts this new mindset his life changes for the better and all is well for George.
Yet, although this seems like a great solution done in a comic forum, we actually are faced with this choice each day. In the end it can work to a degree, but the problem may be that just doing the opposite is not always an option.
Not every choice in life is black and white, up or down, yes or no. So many of the decisions we make are sideways and complex, requiring so much more than a simplistic way of thinking.
Doing the opposite doesn’t mean choosing one thing over another because it can also pertain to behavior choices.
If you walk down the street with your head down, perhaps you might try lifting it up, saying hello and smiling at passersby. I’m not certain that would change your life, but because someone may have needed your smile that day to make a life changing decision of their own it was a good decision. May even garner you a few positive karma points.
So in the end often what we do doesn’t just affect us alone.
If we have the chance for a do over every day of our lives how many actually embrace the opportunity? Since I can’t find any study done on the issue I’ll surmise not many.
Every experience in our lives is the opportunity for change and growth. A lesson learned either to be embraced or discarded and we make that choice constantly.
The answer to whether or not you’d live your life over isn’t yes or no, it’s have you been doing that already.
I’m a firm believer in instinct. That little feeling or whisper in the pit of your stomach that tells you when something isn’t kosher. Of course so many of us just tell the voice saying, “don’t do it,” to shut up and go blindly ahead only to regret our decision later.
What in the world would ever make us think that simply coming back into the world starting anew would be different, whether or not we had prior knowledge?
I’ve heard people say, “so and so has great instincts.” So begs the question did they actually hone them or were they some sort of cosmic gift to allow them to make better choices. Perhaps it’s a bit of both in the end, but I do believe that it’s never too late to change.
I as many others have made some pretty pretty bad choices in my life and of course we all pay a price. Very few of us escape unscathed from our own bad decisions yet too many continue to act on instincts that have proven unwise in the past.
I needn’t list them because I have neither the time nor enough memory in my computer, but we all have our own little box of bad choices to rummage through.
Since I’m actually so much older than I ever thought possible I’ve decided to use my situation for the best. From now on I’m opposite Norma and I shall indulge myself in a bit of an experiment. When faced with a choice I’ll simply ask what would I usually do and create an option quite out of character. Will it work? Who knows, because in the end I believe some choices are made for us somewhere in some cosmic storehouse that contains the road map for our life. Yes we have free will, or do we? That’s a question neither old Norma nor opposite Norma would even attempt to answer.
So because getting old allows for a what-the-hell attitude toward life, I’m game for most things now. Although there’s tons of new scary stuff out there in this crazy world I have to remind myself it’s no different for any generation.
We are all born into one world and wind up leaving another.
So have fun and try something new or choose not to, your choice.
Getting old has many benefits, not the least of which is not giving a damn what anyone says and doing exactly as you choose. We fear no one and we ain’t afraid of no ghosts.
Just don’t tell your children what you’re up to and have a ball.
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)
½ cup of Parmesan Reggiano
A pinch of nutmeg
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”
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
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?
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
“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
Salt and pepper
1 Teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
½ tsp. paprika
Mix together and pour over pastry or serve on the side.
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.
1 generous serving of spaghetti cooked
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
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.
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
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?
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
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
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
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?
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
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.
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?
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.
- 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.
10. Cook slowly 1/2 hour.
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
1 heaping half cup of sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 pinch of salt
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
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?
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
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
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
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?
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!
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?
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.
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.
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: 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.
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.