Grandmas Need Hugs to Survive

 

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This new normal is an exercise in self control personified.

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

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

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

This quarantine, although necessary has been difficult for grandparents.

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

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

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

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

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

So what will be the response of our grandchildren?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing Old in Captivity

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time doesn’t creep it pounces.

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

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

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

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

And it isn’t pretty.

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

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

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

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

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

Without movement, we have little defense.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Why I’m Voting for Jed Bartlet for President

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Why I’m Voting For Jed Bartlet for President

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Could you ever see that happening today?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Two Great Reasons to Hate American Politics

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Two Great Reasons to Hate American Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Great Reasons to Hate American Politics

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Fat Are You? 110 Pounds Thinner, Thank You

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How Fat Are You?

110 Pounds Thinner, Thank You

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

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

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

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

I merely feel it’s time for someone who has been there and done that to speak out.

Losing weight is not a war one ever wins. It’s a series of battles and many we unfortunately lose.

Every day in human existence is fraught with land mines waiting to explode under our feet.

No matter how we start our day, we have no guarantee how it will end.

We may think, today I’m going to eat healthy, and then suddenly a friend calls and says, “I’m picking you up in twenty minutes; I have reservations at that fabulous new restaurant we’ve been dying to try.”

Resolve or no resolve, you’re going down. No one is going to go to a restaurant that makes the most phenomenal pizza outside of Naples, Italy and have a chef’s salad.

But if there’s anything I’ve learned in this life it’s that there is no black and white, only gray.

Why should we be torn with guilt if we have the pizza?

Shouldn’t we be jubilant at the prospects of enjoying something new with a friend?

I want to say right now I’m not espousing eating pizza and not following whatever it takes to stay healthy, and I know there are many schools of thought about this. I am strictly talking about guilt related to food. I have already designated pizza as my last meal so I’m not objective here.

Not any conscious decision to eat plant based, vegan, keto or any of the other new age versions of a healthy diet may change your relationship with food. Unless you are dead set on doing so.

This is all about you, your snickers bar and the relationship you share.

How does one lose weight really? Is it a combination of foods? Many would have us believe that if you eat a certain food with another they become best friends and attack your fat together.

Okay whatever! I’ve never found two foods that would gang up to attack fat. In my body it’s every man for himself and it’s been my experience that everyone has a different body.

I have a friend whose doctor told her that she has the metabolism of a corpse.

Some people run and are incredibly active all day. Others sit at their desk and write, some try to get in a bit of walking when they can. The point is we are all different and our calorie count should reflect these differences.

I could never eat what an athlete can. I have to allow for the fact that some days I’m sitting and writing, or reading or pitifully inactive.

I can’t eat much on those days or my metabolism laughs at me and starts building new fat condos in my midsection. I can hear the construction noises as I go through the day.

I also know that certain foods love me too much. So much in fact, once I eat them they never want to leave. Like that guest at the party that keeps talking even as your eyes are closing. These would be the carbohydrate family.

Oh you all know them; the breads, chips, cookies, cakes, brownies, candy and potatoes clan. They are so in love with me I think the fat under my right arm is all from the onion rings I ate at Big Boy when I was sixteen years old.

They love to snuggle in the smaller crevices of my body and expand to fit their needs.

Chocolate is my biggest nemesis because it knows it owns me. So once I have one piece of Sees candy it keeps screaming for more knowing full well I haven’t the power to say no.

I have found however that eating these carb foods earlier in the day does give my poor, old tired metabolism a bit of extra time to face them head on. There may be casualties, but not as many.

The sad part about loving food is it’s an affair that never ends. Not until the doctor says you must stop eating those foods or die do you give any consideration to a break up.

Sadder still is that so many are not swayed by such threats and continue eating until the inevitable result.

However there are those that keep eating, are overweight and can’t get through a door and seem to keep on keeping on even as skinny people die.

Go figure? I can’t.

There is one silver lining to getting older. You can’t eat as much. Hence the sharing of a sandwich by couples at the deli and the early bird special.

So what can one do to fight against the cravings and love we all feel for our foodie favorites?

I can only say what has worked for me and I must add not all the time, but a battle or two.

I eat 90% of my food early in the day. I find it prevents me from gaining. Even when I treat myself to pizza I can diminish the damage by giving my body the whole day to work its magic.

I don’t eat at night for two reasons, I gain weight and I’m up all night feeling full and yucky. Yucky referring to a term used to describe bloated and full from that chocolate cake I shouldn’t have eaten before bed.

If I’m craving a certain food I make a plan to eat it beforehand.

Say I want a chocolate brownie, which I guess would be most days actually. Anyhow I say to myself, okay I’m going to the mall on such a day. I will go early and walk around for an extra hour to work off my brownie. That way I don’t feel as guilty.

No one should diet. That is the key. Everyone should find their sweet spot of maintenance and eat that many calories every day. Then we can treat ourselves to something wonderful once a week.

I literally think about what would make me happy in my cravings closet and plan for the moment. Surprisingly there are many weeks you don’t need to, or if you put off the craving it dissipates and disappears.

One of the worst things I used to do was get a craving for example Oreos, but there were none in the house. So I would try every food in my kitchen to alleviate the need for that Oreo taste. Results, no Oreos and a weight gain at the end of the day. Just learn delayed gratification and you’ll find it a good friend for life. Many nights I’d think of a food I want to eat and say okay I’ll eat it tomorrow and by the morning I didn’t want it anymore.

I’ve found it helps when you crave a cookie or piece of candy to buy a single serving not bake or buy a whole package. One cookie probably won’t hurt, a whole package loosen your belt time.

If you’re a crunchaholic and need to hear your food being eaten from a mile away, I won’t suggest an apple even though it could work for you.

Although apples are the better choice, I know when the potato chip or popcorn craving comes a calling one must open that door.

Still there are many great options today. Tasty low calorie choices so you don’t have to do the damage to your waist you once did. You can also change your favorite recipes to be a bit healthier and calorie lighter.

We all have good and bad days watching our weight. One bad choice doesn’t lose the war. You needn’t go crazy binging because you feel guilty over that Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. Just eat and enjoy, then move on making healthier choices afterward.

I know all the things I’ve told you aren’t new or different than what you’ve heard before, but surprisingly most people revert back to old habits where food is concerned. I have to take each day as a different foodie challenge and deal with it accordingly.

Fat cells are little gorilla warriors just hiding inside your body waiting for you to slip up and then they attack.

I admit I eat much healthier now, far less food and treat myself less frequently; although I have been known to lose many battles to chocolate gummy bears and paid a hefty price.

The most important thing is to like yourself, stay healthy, be proud of every battle you win and never wear elastic waist pants.

Weight loss is a difficult opponent and if you win, the prize is feeling and looking good.

Wishing you luck and just write me if you need any support. No war was ever won by a single battle or a single soldier, so go out and win, win, win!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Queen Elizabeth, All Americans Aren’t Meghan

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No, Queen Elizabeth, All Americans Aren’t Meghan

With so much attention these days on the royal family and no millennials, I’m not talking about the Kardashians; I’m feeling immense sympathy for Queen Elizabeth. Why you ask, would Norma Zager feel sorry for the Queen?

With very good reason actually. She is a queen it’s true, but she is also a grandmother. Incidentally a very involved one since Harry and William lost their mother so young and it fell to her to become the female authority figure in their young lives. It must be very difficult for her to watch her grandsons unhappy or making bad decisions, just as any grandmother would.

William seems to have towed the party line. Despite his enormous pain at the loss of his mother, he rose to the occasion and selected and fell in love with a woman who in all aspects reflects a royal demeanor. Kate not only won William’s heart but she succeeded to win over the English people and the world. Her grace, refinement and charm have succeeded in creating a mate for the Prince that most deem highly appropriate and positive for a future queen.

Harry as we all have seen, has not dealt well with his position and tragic history. The loss of his mother took a large chunk out of his soul that he has been unable to repair and of course could never replace.

His behavior has been erratic, embarrassing and decidedly un-royal, but the public forgives his weaknesses and trespasses because he is loved.

Enter Meghan Markle. Oops! Now we have a new wrinkle in the royal laundry.

From all accounts the Queen Grandmother seemed to be welcoming because as we all know, what makes our children and grandchildren happy, is fine with us.

Yet, things quickly took a negative turn when Meghan’s family exhibited the signs of, how shall we put it, less than classy and talked to a hungry press about their dirty family secrets.

However, instead of placing the blame where it belonged with the Markle clan, she chose to deride the royals. Poor pitiful Meghan no one stood up for her as she was being attacked by her own family.

I’m sure it hurt in fact I know it does, but what was her reaction to this unpleasant piece of Markle business?

She became defensive instead of understanding that it would never do for the Queen or Prince Charles to come out swinging at anyone.

It is simply not done.

Meghan believed that because she is an American, she can open her big American mouth, as we all do and state her opinions. So sorry Honey, but you’re not in Kansas anymore.

Perhaps the press might have reacted more favorably toward you had you not been so obvious in your distain toward all things royal. It is what it is, get over it.

The royal family lives by a far different standard. Oh, of course they are well compensated for their lack of ability to speak their minds at all times, but sweetie get a grip. A crown is not free and comes with a cost.

Obviously Kate understood this truth and it’s why she’s a beloved member of the royal family.

While poor Meghan was crying into her Hermes handkerchief, she was also slathering her negativity upon Harry. Hasn’t he been through enough? And hasn’t the Queen?

Few people can resist the pomp and circumstance of the royal family. They are the reality television of England and watching their foibles and fashions is a guilty pleasure shared by countless Americans.

The viewing audience for the Kate and Wills’ wedding was astronomical and of course we all sat transfixed to the screen as yet another Windsor regaled us with the possibility of an English happily ever after, despite the grave feast of disappointment offered up by Charles and Diana.

Americans were nostalgic at how much Kate reminded us of our own royal Princess Grace, and aside from the gowns and uproarious chapeaus donned copiously on that royal day, I was struck by something perhaps most overlooked.

Of course as a grandmother, I see things differently and through the lens of all things grandchildren and

I was surprised to witness the fact the Queen of England seems to feel the same way.

Although the wedding was beautiful I managed to escape teary moments, romance aside, until for one split second I found myself face to face with a grandmother’s love and then the tears flowed like water.

Yes, right there in St. Paul’s Cathedral as William and Kate stopped after their nuptials to bow in respect as they headed back up the aisle, the Queen bowed her head and I saw the Grandma lip quiver as clear as day.

Oh she caught herself of course as any self-respecting and quite contained royal would do. Elizabeth more than most is dedicated to composure as the monarch, yet for one brief second she couldn’t contain her grandmother’s love for her grandson.

Her lip quivered and she looked down to hide the rush of emotion only a grandma could feel watching her beloved grandchild heading out into life, a married man, a new wife and a new life.

I imagined it must have been especially difficult for her as perhaps a fleeting memory of William’s pain at losing his mother washed over her and forced her to stand staunch against the tide of emotion attacking from all sides.

And of course Elizabeth in her well-practiced and inimitable way retained composure and caught that tear before it escaped her eye to fall onto a careworn cheek.

Yes, despite all of our differences at that moment we bonded as grandmothers, and I knew for certain Elizabeth is quite human after all. She has her weaknesses and one of them is William.

Her façade, her inner strength, her public persona all fell away when faced with the emotions of grandma love.

Shame on me for my utter surprise when so many of her grandchildren have praised her devotion. Princess Eugenie for example recounts how, “Granny would take us raspberry picking, and we’d have the raspberry jam that we picked that day on the table for tea.”

Kate first meeting her was surprised to learn the Queen played video games.

And yes part of my surprise does relate to the reputation of the English for being more affectionate with their dogs than their children.

I now know I was wrong and proven so by a quivering lip.

Imagine my surprise when I realized that indeed the Queen of England and I, an American cousin, have so much in common.

We are both no more than grandmas and that is a powerful and positive bond no matter who or what you are.

Now as her new great grandson, Archie, is removed to a country far away I’m certain she is saddened. A face-time chat is only second best to holding your grandchildren and great grandchildren in your arms and coochy-cooing them in person.

Since we can’t always choose our loved ones’ partners, even royalty, it’s more evident than ever to me that life doesn’t always turn out as we planned for any of us, even if you’re the Queen of England.

 

 

 

 

Chewbacca has Left The Building

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Chewbacca has Left the Building

Peter Mayhew AKA Chewbacca, Chewy, Han Solo’s BFF and iconic sidekick died this year without the usual fanfare accorded a superstar.

There were no news breaks, day and night and even weekly coverage like a Kobe or a Michael, just a sense of loss on so many levels from Star Wars fans.

Not to denigrate from others’ greatness, but if you cut us do we not bleed?

To a Star Wars geek the loss of Chewy is a giant blow, pun intended. He was able while wearing a costume to evoke emotions some actors can’t do while the camera is staring right at their face. He also suffered physical pain and difficulties while creating an iconic character and handled it all with class and professionalism.

Chewy was lovable, loyal, funny, protective and smart. His utterances transcended words and fans loved the character and appreciated that the man who played him hit exactly the right notes.

I want to know who decides. Who says this person is more important and deserves more coverage than another? Who in the entertainment business speaks for us all?

Watching the Academy Awards, while hoping my gag reflex didn’t fail me I was shocked that Kirk Douglas’s death wasn’t mentioned the entire night until the pictures of the dead rolled on the giant screen. Kirk Douglas is just one of the throng? Really? Seriously?

I know that most of old Hollywood was either dead or missing in action at the awards ceremonies, proving the theory that old people are not welcome, but to not even mention a man like Kirk Douglas, an icon, and a legitimate legend.

At one point in the “festivities” Tom Hanks who was speaking about AMPAS, ended with “I am Spartacus,” alluding to Kirk Douglas’s iconic words in Spartacus.

That was it. A shout out to Hanks, but can’t the academy do better?

Not a single actor acknowledged him in any way. No “we lost a legend a few days ago” speech, nod or comment on a man that so contributed to Hollywood’s reputation. Just a cavalier, “another one bites the dust,” kind of attitude.

Tom Hanks was the only one who felt compelled to honor a legend? How sad.

What are the Academy Awards anyway? The entire industry takes itself so damn seriously, but it is that one night a year we are most reminded of their ego.

The fashion is no longer as entertaining as when Joan Rivers mocked and trashed the celebs parading across the red carpet. The movies are many no one has even seen or heard of anymore. Heaven forbid a movie that actually rakes in billions should be given a shout out. Hello Avengers, Star Wars, etc.

A place where Hollywood goes to convince itself it’s more than all that and stars become political commentators while everyone pats everyone else on the back because they finally caught one of the bad guys, Harvey Weinstein; with no help from Hollywood, by the way.

A show where the best acting is done by the losers who pretend to be happy for those who just beat them out for the award.

Shouldn’t there be a category for the Peter Mayhews who must act beneath ten tons of makeup and a confining costume. For someone who can create a character that is beloved by hundreds of millions across the globe.

Chewy didn’t need no stinkin’ subtitles to create a legend.

I’m not equating Kirk Douglas and Mayhew. They were far different actors, yet both excelled at their craft.

If numbers are the judge Chewy had as many fans as Michael Jackson or Kobe Bryant.

If character is the criteria, Mayhew and Harrison Ford created a more iconic and world renown team than Abbot and Costello.

Perhaps it’s because the geek in me was fired up when Chewy and Kirk Douglas’s deaths went so unheralded by the news and their own colleagues.

Douglas was part of a time when Hollywood was golden and stars were stars, and the big screen held magic and wonder because movies were played on giant screens instead of an iphone. One escaped into the world of make believe not into the palm of their own hand for escape.

Douglas was a true gentleman and an artist. I met him and I can say that first hand.

Mayhew was part of a franchise so gigantic that only something as huge as the mouse AKA Disney could take over and be trusted to carry on its greatness.

Unfortunately, I should be more surprised than I am by the slight, but in the end I, with all my fellow fans salute two Hollywood greats, along with many others that left the building this year.

The Hollywood sign outside my window is looking just a little rustier and older than before.

No Beverly Hills plastic surgeon can cover the mark they both left on the entertainment world.

RIP Kirk and Chewy, you will never be forgotten.

 

 

 

Meeting an Old Friend for Lunch

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Meeting an Old Friend for Lunch

“In a better world we will find our young years and our old friends Jean Antoine Petit-Senn

Yesterday I met an old friend for lunch. As happens in life Carole Montgomery’s comedy career led her to different states to reside and as time passed and career and raising a family took her back to New York, our daily lives encroached upon our friendship. We stayed in touch through social media and occasional phone calls, but life and time can separate even those with whom one shares a true affinity for fun and a cache of happy memories.
Carole and I became friends during my time as a stand-up comic. Since we both worked in Las Vegas a great deal, she was the opening comic for a show called Crazy Girls at the Riviera and I was a regular at the Improv located in the hotel, we saw each other a lot. We also had much in common sort of, I couldn’t gamble and she knew all about it, so she taught me. She was from New York and incredibly street smart and I was a protected Jewish princess from Detroit. She was calm and cool in a time of chaos, while I was an hysterical crazy person.

Okay, so you’re wondering why we were friends, it was just a no brainer. We liked each other and enjoyed one another’s sense of humor. I thought Carole was hysterical. I laughed out loud at her jokes and respected her guts and fearlessness. She was my female Lenny Bruce. She worked blue and I came off like a Jewish mother. I guess it was the difference in our styles that made it so easy to appreciate each other. Whatever it was we remained in touch and yesterday we met for lunch.

Carole is out in Los Angeles for work and to promote her new Showtime Special More Funny Women of a Certain Age premiering Saturday, March 14th.

It had been as though no time had passed, as is so often the case when old friends meet. Like hearing a favorite old song on the radio that conjures up a treasured memory.

We ordered and then caught up. Being as we only had a lunchtime we prioritized and shared the highest items on our friends-need-to-know-priority list, family, work, future, new goals and projects and tomatoes or tater tots with our omelets. We compromised and shared both.

After saying goodbye I spent a good part of the day recalling life events we’d shared, show business insanity, our kid’s successes and the birth of her son, now of course grown and a force of his own. It seems our children inherited both our determination and senses of humor.

Of course as one ages it becomes apparent that people move in and out of our lives for reasons unknown. Yet, it’s also true that as people move away from us new ones come in.

I must ask why this is so. Why can’t we have everyone in our lives all the time?

Good question, but no answer.

Perhaps there is no room. Can’t say I agree with that one because our hearts are big enough to embrace the entire world. Even though people may physically leave our lives, they don’t leave our hearts.

I realized that fact yesterday over lunch with Carole. Although we’d been apart I still felt that sense of friendship. I wanted her to succeed and help her, although she is doing just great without any help from me.

Whether or not old friends are near or far away we never seem to stop wanting the best for them.

How many times have you heard something regarding a childhood friend and been moved by either joy or sadness at the news?

Friendship is a bond that connects us to one another, but can distance break that bond? Or does it simply stretch like elastic until it can be lax again?

In my experience the evidence is clear. Although we may find ourselves separated from old friends, once the connection is reset the bond is strong.

I’m certain there were times in your life you’ve thought of someone and suddenly wanted to hear their voice. Perhaps an old song, place you visit or picture someone shares on social media conjures up a memory.

It may be over Facebook or other social media, maybe an old-school phone call works best, but whatever the means the outcome is the same. As a result of the outreach we are filled with happy memories and good feelings about wonderful times shared.

I think old friends are a kind of medicine we can easily afford and with no scary side effects.

On a blue day instead of hitting the chocolate maybe a phone call to an old friend might do more to elevate your mood.

If you are remembering someone that has left your life simply pick up a phone and call to say hello or drop a message on Facebook or Instagram. Rekindle a happy time and share joyful thoughts. They may have been thinking of you, too.

Just because life has taken you to new places and experiences doesn’t mean we have to lose the older, good parts of ourselves forever.

Many times there are reasons we must part, but perhaps there are also good reasons to reconnect.

So make two people happy today and reach out to an old friend. It’s a great way to brighten two lives.

 

 

Maj at the Mall

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Maj Jong at the Mall

Every week five friends play maj jong at the mall. The first question from those who hear of our location is, “Where at the mall?”

I answer, “In the food court of course,” and they shake their head nodding it makes sense.

And it does. Aside from the fact it takes Karen ten minutes to find a table that doesn’t wobble, or text us to, then disinfect it we have found the perfect location.

Maj is a total snacks game. There are usually nuts of some kind, m and ms, chocolate gummy bears, (we should never have discovered those), chips, cut up veggies for the diet conscious, drinks, coffee and for the more adventurous even lunch.

So it always falls to the hostess to plan the eats and it can be tedious and a great deal of work.

Problem solved at the mall.

Everyone can eat what they want, drink the best coffees and of course we still sneak in chocolates for those of us with absolutely no self-control.

(I’m raising my hand here but you can’t see it of course.)

Even if I begin the day with a healthy mindset vowing not to eat junk food, a lot can happen to change my resolve before I sit down in front of those tiles. Perhaps the son of a bitch who cut me off in traffic created the need for a handful of m and ms to calm me down. Yes, I’m a chocoholic and I admit it freely.

Yes, it’s well known that will power is not an absolute. One’s need for chocolate can change in a millisecond depending on circumstances. Is this a good hair day or are my locks determined to have a mind of their own? Why does my make up look like I just turned into a raccoon? I know these damn jeans fit yesterday what’s going on here with this muffin top situation?

Get me the damn Sees Candy! Where once Shakespeare advised Ophelia, “Get thee to a nunnery,” I say get thee to Godiva.

The real fun about the mall is the little community that assembles there, and they are quite a cast of characters.

There are always other tables of maj players as well. Now there is even a table of rummicubers.

Next to our usual table is a group of older men from Israel. There are probably ten of them and they eat, talk, tell stories and love to flirt with us. Sometimes they bring baked goods and offer them up to us.

The security guard always stops by to say hello and ask who’s winning then stays to chat.

Of course there is also the assortment of customers that come and go with their various dishes and sometimes screaming children.

Another group comes in after five to have dinner. Among the five o’clockers are Virginia, now 99 and Francis, now 92 along with their male friends that make sure they have what they need. Virginia’s boyfriend bought her a gorgeous watch for Christmas.

The same people show up every week and if someone isn’t there everyone else notices.

After the maj game is over Randi, Deb and I shop for a while and Janet buys dinner to take home. Karen meets her husband Mark for dinner and after shopping we stop by to chat with Virginia and her friends to show off our new purchases before we leave.

It’s rare that we go through a day without a friend of one of ours walking up to the table to say hello. Or people stopping by to ask, what is that game you’re playing.

Obviously we don’t play as many games as we would were we at someone’s home. Nor is it as quiet.

So you ask, if you’re serious maj players why do you play at the mall with all the distractions?

That’s the point. We love the distractions. Okay occasionally it can get a bit raucous at the retired men’s table and yes the screaming kids bother some more than others.

Our maj game has become a highlight of our week. We have not only all become great friends, but we have added so many interesting people to our lives.

We all can’t wait to get there on Fridays to see everyone and hear about one another’s week. What’s the latest news or just saying hello and meeting and greeting everyone?

So thank you for bearing with me because I do have a point here. Malls are dying and that is terribly sad.

In a world where people are watching a techie toy more than each other, the mall is one of the last bastions of community left.

It’s not just that we all enjoy ourselves it’s also about the kids. You see them hanging out, having lunch, talking laughing and interacting with one another. If the mall goes away will kids ever look at anything ever again besides Instagram or have any sense of what if feels like to be part of a community?

Man was not created to be alone. Just like wolves we travel in packs and are happier to do so. Even the Romans gathered together in the coliseum to feed the lions.

The mall offers a place that is completely inter generational and a safe place to gather and share happy moments.

The sad part of what’s occurring is that malls are closing because the stores can’t compete with online business. Yet a mall is so much more and the loss would be incredibly damaging to social interaction.

The day Amazon can provide me with interesting people to meet, greet and play maj with will be a cold day in California. I have to believe that for now maj at the mall will be a safe haven for everyone, for a long time to come.

 

 

 

 

Riding the Guilt Train at a Senior Discount

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Riding the Guilt Train at a Senior Discount

Why do I feel guilty for doing nothing? By doing nothing I don’t mean doing nothing to feel guilty about, I mean nothing in the purest sense of the world.

Like sitting like a couch potato staring at the television and eating a nacho kind of nothing.

I can’t seem to reconcile getting through a day without accomplishing something. I’m not quite certain if it’s my type A personality or just the DNA in my bloodstream from years of Jewish guilt.

Whatever the case I can’t go to bed at night feeling good without knowing what tasks I undertook and succeeded at that day.

So I imagine the question would be: what is an accomplishment?

Aha. There’s the rub, for at various stages of our lives the word task morphs into far different meanings.

When young a task might be doing homework, making your bed or taking out the garbage. We never considered reading a book, playing outside until the streetlights came on or buying a new comic book part of the task category. Those things were the fun things we did, the parts of our lives we felt total control over.

Then we became older and a task was far more defined. In college we did our homework, studied for exams, did philanthropic activities with our sororities and left ourselves time for the fun stuff like catching up with our favorite soap opera, partying, watching Charlie Brown specials and listening to music while we danced around the dorm. There was a definite disconnection between fun and work and we felt the difference as we accomplished both.

Marriage and children brought even more awareness of the lines between pleasure and production although our underlying motivations were slightly blurred.

Changing our baby’s diaper was work yet it was done with love. So there was that, a whole love work conundrum.

Of course housework, carpooling, shopping or cooking were all things a Mom undertook with love and tolerance because our choices to raise our family had been conscious and resolute.

Some of us worked outside the house as well and at times the work felt less like work and more like fun. At least it did for me when I was doing stand-up comedy.

The point to all this is the fact that we were all productive. Our days were filled with responsibilities that needed to be met and loved ones to care for as the days passed quickly by.

At night we didn’t ever wonder, “what did I accomplish today?”

We were too damn tired and our heads were usually swimming with thoughts of what we had to do the next day.

It was a far different time.

And now here we are at a very different point in our lives.

Most of us, and I can’t speak for all of course, but many have chosen to slow life down a bit. Like a horse that used to run races and now sort of wanders about the fields sniffing the clover and munching on hay, and if he’s lucky gets put out to stud occasionally.

Some still have significant others and husbands (I am in no way implying that a husband is not significant here) so we do have another person in our lives to answer to.

However, there are those who do not.

I no longer have to worry about meals. I can eat what I want, when I want.

I work part time at my own pace so I needn’t be so strict about that any longer.

Hmm. So what is there that I absolutely need to do now?

And I am not certain if playing maj jong is considered a task or fun as at times the lines have now completely blurred from simply okay-so-I’m-getting-out-of-bed this morning, to healing the oceans.

I’m brutally honest with myself, I can’t retire as I’d be bored out of my skull with nothing to do. I envy those who can retire, but are they really?

What is retirement?

Does that mean sitting idol all day or perhaps running from doctor appointment to appointment as part of the weekly routine. No, I’m not sure if those visits to the doctor count as work or pleasure. I guess we should invent a new category for that one. Perhaps pain in the butt would be applicable.

Some golf, the healthy ones tennis, swim, play canasta, hang with friends, maj jong, go to the gym, meet friends for lunch, write that screenplay or novel, volunteer for charities, see the grandchildren and all of the many things one can do to fill time.

Although we take on tasks each day, for me it has changed a bit. Where once I could get up in the morning and clean all day, now, I merely take on a chore at a time with even a respite in between.

However, I need to do something, anything to make me feel as if I’ve accomplished something.

For me it is a necessity and I feel incredible guilty if I have ended a day without being productive.

So let’s examine what is considered productive.

Could one consider binge watching the entire season of Mrs. Maisel or Grace and Frankie productive?

Is cleaning a drawer or your closet?

How about writing a blog?

Can I sneak in maj jong under than heading?

Is it perfectly okay to count going to the gym as a positive day?

Case in point: Would you consider sitting in front of the television all day binge watching NCIS productive? I’m not going to argue the benefits of looking at Mark Harmon for eight hours although I can see no downside there. I merely wonder if I should feel guilty because I didn’t invent the cure for cancer instead? Is having a non-productive day and merely enjoying oneself a bad thing? What is truly beneficial as an activity?

As we age shouldn’t we be grateful we are able to function, walk, talk, enjoy our children and grandchildren? Isn’t contentment and gratitude a goal; a benefit of being alive?

Where once we sought more days to spend on pleasurable uses of our time, now we are blessed with scads of it. Is taking advantage of those hours not okay?

Should one feel guilty about simply enjoying doing nothing in particular?

I still have problems justifying 24 hours without producing something, whether it be a blog, a cleaner house, a charitable endeavor or even a new recipe.

So I have found a way around this conundrum.

Each day I find one thing to do that I can feel is going to result in something positive.

So I blog, fix something, work on a project or charity, call a friend, or even just catch up on housework. Then after that I can feel good about my time with Harmon or binge watching Mad Men, which a friend has been urging me to do. So in a way this is very productive because I’m making my friend happy by simply watching the show. Two birds huh?

I once saw Joan Rivers open her date book and point to empty pages and tell the interviewer, “This is what terrifies me.”

Right on Joan, Having nothing to do terrifies me, also.

Yet, there are still those lazy days, but what the heck? I intend to live them guilt free and with no remorse.

At the end of our lives when we are faced with that flashback of our existence on earth will it be the individual moments we see or the totality of our achievements? Our children, grandchildren, the love we gave and received and the loved ones standing beside us to guide us into the next great adventure?

I imagine I won’t care at that moment how many days I just binge watched Netflix or chatted on the phone with a friend in lieu of saving the world. Hopefully I’ll just be grateful for all the moments I spent on this crazy ball spinning in space and sorry to have to leave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Getting Old is Really Getting Old!

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I’m really not one to complain, unless of course, someone is listening.

Okay, so I really need to stop answering my phone.

The other day I learned that two people I know died, one of my best friends in having surgery and the world is coming to an end on January fifth, 2088.

Since the world has ended numerous times in my lifetime that one is not really an issue, but this picking up the phone and finding out people are sick and dying really has to end.

Oh I know there is no way to stop the Grim Reaper. He does know where you are at all times, so I guess he’s the GPS for humanity. And there’s no blocking or turning off his signal.

Once upon a time long ago I actually got out of bed in the morning without stopping three times to check and see why parts of me weren’t cooperating in the effort. Now it’s a slow and painful process. When I actually make contact with the floor, it’s not exactly like a kiss from Prince Charming, and my feet spend at least the next five minutes complaining bitterly until they give up and just settle into a low hum of pain for the rest of the day.

Being from Detroit I know of what I speak. Just like cars are planned for obsolescence so are people. None of us is built to last forever, even if we are built Ford Tough.

Sure, you say, some people are full of piss and vinegar right up till the end, and to that I say bull crap. Even if one cultivates a good attitude toward aging, as we get older we are all just schlepping through life looking for replacement parts as we go.

I now know very few people that are not bionic in some form; new knees, valves, hips, stints,

shoulders and even wrists are as available as a sucked-up, tucked-up blond in a room full of ninety-year-old millionaires.

Dentures have been replaced with implants, hair plugs have it all over toupees and women tattoo their eyebrows on. It’s a world of new tech, new times and new inventions to keep us believing we are not actually aging.

Aha! Don’t be fooled because your body is laughing all the way to the plastic surgeon’s office. “Forget the neck lift,” it is saying. “I have a whole new hip in store for you soon.”

I know women who scotch tape their necks for an instant lift. I am thinking of inventing flesh colored duct tape to hold up my touchas every day. Bet it would sell great.

The newest great invention seems to be adult underwear, aka diapers. Oh sure they’ve disguised them with pretty little designs and flowers, but honey we all know they are Pampers 2.0. I thought that was the nursing home wardrobe. What’s the hurry to start wearing plastic panties? A few flowers and I’m supposed to get excited about this new lingerie? Ooh, I feel sexy.

Even though we look like we’re twenty years younger thanks to Botox, fillers, lifts and medical magic, inside our bodies are decaying faster than Senor Happy tooth in a sea of Godiva chocolate.

So what is there to do to reverse the aging process?

We could call Harry Potter to bring his wand, but I am too far gone for that. Magic can only go so far.

Some hang at the gym and believe they can walk faster than Father Time, thus beating him to the punch. Okay, I’m game.

I’m here at the gym and it’s very foreign to me. I’m not sure what language they’re speaking in this strange new land. Just a minute I can catch one word here, downward dog. Yes, I know that one; it’s a Yoga term. It means squatting like a dog until your toes break off on the mat. I remember even trying that once. Couldn’t walk for a week.

Just a second someone is climbing on a treadmill and wait he’s setting the incline. I thought just walking a straight line was enough of a challenge. Damn the man’s walking up hill. I’m getting heart flutters just watching him. I need to find somewhere to sit.

I feel the duct tape on my ass coming lose and I think I should go into the bathroom to fix it. If it falls off as I’m walking that would be embarrassing. Damn a piece is hanging out from under my shorts. I knew I should have worn spandex. I’ll just wrap the towel around my bottom and walk slowly.

Oy, they’re all looking at me now. Damn that man is cute and now he thinks I’m some kind of freak who walks around with a towel covering my tush.

Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. I think my retail cardio is better. I’m going to the mall and walk around shopping for an hour or two. Who needs this when I can just park a little farther away from the door and burn off those extra calories? Plus, I know the language there better.

Sale, twenty off today, escalator, food court; these are words I can work with and feel comfortable around.

Okay, don’t start writing letters and leaving nasty comments on social media, I know exercise is valuable as one ages, but fun? I don’t think so! If it were designed to be fun it would contain some type of chocolate as part of the process.

I think getting old is difficult because it creeps up on us like a Hari Krishna at the airport. You never see it coming until it’s too late and the wrinkles are there, staring back at you, smirking because they crossed the finish line while you simply blinked.

There is a way to avoid the sight if you stop using the devil’s favorite invention: the magnifying mirror. I’m sure he’s proud of that one. God took pity on us and made our eyesight worse as we get older, thereby not seeing wrinkles. Oh, but the devil said, “what a great opportunity to do evil.” and there you have it. You will notice that a Nobel Prize was never awarded for that invention.

I have never heard one person I know say, “I expected this getting old thing to happen sooner. What took so long?”

Nope, it’s more like, “when the hell did this happen? I never saw it coming. Yesterday I was young and swinging in the backyard with my kids, and now there is some strange, old person staring back at me in the mirror.”

I know we all would rather be here than somewhere else, destination unknown, but the journey always seems so short looking back.

I have no answers except maybe the duct tape if I can perfect it, but I guess we all have to be grateful to be here to complain and check out the new crop of wrinkles. If you find the fountain of youth, send me a map and I’ll pass it along to my readers. Until then, think young, stay young, enjoy life and throw away that damn-magnifying mirror.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Newest Grammy Décor

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Bring on those dirty little hands,

Microfiber is my new hero.

Anyone of a certain age understands life’s close relationship with enormous irony.

One that I recently discovered was the Grandma Décor Dilemma.

Every mother knows when babies become mobile, a serious redecorating effort occurs.

Glass is replace with wood or Formica, all tabletop items are wrapped for storage or placed on higher shelves. A great cover up is afoot to save at least a scintilla of worldly goods.

But now we have microfiber.

Ah microfiber! No, not micro greens, the new word for lettuce scraps on your plate. The new miracle fiber that battles chocolate, peanut better and sandbox residue lurking on adorable, busy, little hands.

A new practically indestructible fabric that resembles suede resists stains and was definitely designed with Grandmas in mind. I am smiling just remembering when my children roamed the house and valuables were secured and safely placed aside in high-placed locked boxes more inaccessible than my youth.

Living with sparseness of design as a Mom, has now been coined minimalist, I believe just to up the price tag.

I recall the tumult of more toys than Santa’s workshop covering my floors, while I dreamed of house beautiful.

Perusing home magazines with a sad sigh, wishing for a time when I could actually consider a white sofa and glass tables was sheer heaven.

A toy-free zone to display my crystal and fine pieces openly and freely far from their storage prisons.

Lalique, Daum, Waterford would dance across my dreams carrying rainbows of champagne and canapés onto regally appointed buffets and glass, cocktail tables.

As the years flew by, and as we know they do fly, my children grew to adulthood.

My new adult child home was filled with white sofas, glass tables and matching towels in the guest bathroom. Ah, all those forbidden fruits of décor.

What fun!

The years passed in a haze of entertaining with “good” china still bearing the flakes of sawdust from the original shipping container, crystal glasses and silver flatware.

I felt like the Queen of England and as strange as it might sound to Meghan Markle, life felt pretty damn good in the royal palace. Paper plates were verboten and I could even hear the sound of fork hitting china when I cut my chicken.

Ah, but then the tide turned once more. Suddenly a new arrival signaled the end of all that opulence. The splendor, the elegance destined to disappear from the landscape once again.

“He” had arrived. My first grandson, the new king and now the palace became all about nothing more than “Him” and what suited “His Highness’s ” needs. Suddenly there were Sesame street plastic dishes and tippee cups, organic cloths and toys, and green smoothies with unknown ingredients that my daughter insisted enhanced life.

The boxes appeared once more. Bubble paper and bubble bursting filled quiet moments between emptying tables and glass shelves filled with delicate chachkees.

Once again my life was filled with toy-filled corners, empty tabletops and baby step stools. Shelves that had once displayed French Limoges, now flaunted frames filled with baby pictures.

Over lunches, my friends and I discussed how to make room for storage cabinets and redo a bedroom with a toddler theme. Discussions of new colors and designs that were the rage in baby world replaced the latest handbag, new boutique opening, vacation spot or Pilate’s injury.

Our iphones overflowed with the latest photos of Halloween costumes, petting zoos and hugging grandma pics.

Cars sported baby car seats and books, toys and hand cleaners were shoved in seat pockets.

Some of my wealthier friends hired designers and muralists to create a special theme. Shimmer and Shine, Paw Patrol, Dora the Explorer and Bubble Guppies were hot. We discussed singing groups like Yo Gabba Gabba recalling how our parents had laughed at our obsession with the Beatles.

Rainbows, dinosaurs and computers were also on board as décor stalwarts.

A new vibe hovered over our regular get togethers as toys, pictures and brilliant baby quotes took center stage. It was toddler town all day every day and we were proud residents reveling in our new roles.

Instead of the latest gallery opening, we exchanged news about children’s exhibits and virtual play areas. New ideas about what to do days we had, “the little angels” were passed around like refills of champagne at a Beverly Hills gala.

We wore the name grandma as proudly as couture and shamelessly bragged and repeated baby stories ad nauseum.

Our computer screen savers were full size pictures of smiling partially, toothed grins that changed with each new development.

It had finally happened—we were grandmas—and our homes had gone from chic to child friendly in a heartbeat.

And strangely enough none of us seemed to mind a bit.

Our priorities had shifted from fabulous to fun and we were happy to forego our designer duds for jeans and sweats for crawling and wrestling when necessary.

I suppose life is ultimately about surrounding yourself with the people you love and yes, that means with the things they love as well.

So, until my grandsons develop a taste for Waterford and other such finery, it shall be unbreakable and easy if you pleasey.

 

 

Driving in L.A. Dating Schmating

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Driving in L.A.—Dating Schmating

What is love? Do we have a soul mate or true love like Wesley and Buttercup, or do we simply blindly stumble through life with our arms open, seeking the “one,” eyes closed and heart vulnerable to all attacks foreign and domestic?

My husband now passed on, once told me we were soul mates. I never probed further to find out why he had drawn that conclusion since at that time we were divorced and he was happily ensconced in the arms of a new girlfriend that seemed like a good fit.

Begs the question were we soul mates? Or if we were than why weren’t we together forever? Isn’t that the meaning of a soul mate, the joining together of two parts of a soul to complete one?

So I imagine that if you don’t meet your true soul mate you are doomed to walk the earth with half of you missing. Although half of married couples would gladly be missing that other half, hence the divorce rate, I still choose to believe in that ancient myth about knowing immediately you have found your other half. Despite the fact I have been wrong on too many occasions, I remain a hopeful romantic.

Dating in what is laughingly referred to as the golden years is not for the faint of heart. There are few opportunities to meet a significant other save for dating sites or hobbies. Perhaps through a fix up by friends or just randomly minding your business and like in the movies you run into a building out of the rain, your eyes meet and you instantly know that’s it, they are the one and you live happily ever after.

Of course no one tells you that on your wedding night your husband drops his pants and leaves them lying on that floor for the next fifty years. Oh I’m sorry, am I corrupting the fairy-tale ending? I often wondered when Cinderella rode off with her prince; did he snore, pick his nose in public or hold the covers over her head when he farted in bed? Guess they left that part of the story out.

There have been moments when I was swept away by the notion of a soul mate. Not for the obvious reasons of a glorious exciting affair dancing through Paris at night in a montage of starlit skies and clinking wine glasses. No, because of the fact it seems it would be so damn easy!

Being of a certain age I have little patience for the so- tell-me-about-yourself bull crap that has become a necessity for getting to know someone. Then you must figure out if they are dating three other women besides you, if they are lying about their age, are after your money, a serial killer or whatever other horror stories one hears every day. If you knew right away you were soul mates how easy is that?

Okay, let’s forego all the other junk, get married or be a couple and move forward.

Easy peasey and made for the lazy at love.

I imagine that’s why many people hook up at class reunions because it’s so easy. Whew I don’t have to ask you a single question cause I know everything about you. My Aunt Marcia played bridge with your cousin Sue and I’ve heard all about you; simple yet effective.

But what if you have a soul mate and he’s a serial killer or drug addict or thinks monogamy is a dirty word?

If this man is your destiny or perhaps a lesson you are here to learn then is there a way to say, no thanks I’ll pass?

Or is everyone who comes into your life in a meaningful way actually your destiny? If we are here to learn lessons as so many believe, then a soul mate can be a real nightmare if there is a lesson to be learned from living with or loving them.

Wouldn’t life just be easier if could just use an x-ray machine on every man we went out with to see what’s going on inside his head?

Or perhaps a lie detector test would be appropriate on a first date?

You say your ex wife was a nightmare? Oops lines off the charts.

Okay, so you say you never would cheat on a woman. Lines again.

Uh Huh and you never take drugs. Running out of paper here.

So you are very wealthy and need no one’s money. Oops running out of ink here, guess that one is off the charts as well.

You spent how much time in prison??

That would be a short first date, but a productive one.

The trouble with the process is that one never learns these truths until it’s way too late.

Although it’s true some men are up front about their shortcomings because, believe it or not, they have no remorse for their misdeeds.

I actually went out for coffee with a man who’d been arrested and charged for swindling people in the penny stock scandal of the nineties.

He complained bitterly about how the government had taken away all his toys, money and other goodies.

I asked, “ What about all those people whose pensions and savings you destroyed and stole?”

“Shit happens,” he responded unapologetically. End of date.

I, as most others, would like to believe that a soul mate has to be the perfect person for us. But what does that really mean?

Maybe we’re far too trusting and we need a man to wake us up to stop our romanticizing everyone we fall for. So that soul mate may be someone who ultimately comes into our life to hurt us…in a good way of course. But can being hurt be good?

There is an expression I have heard countless times…You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you meet Prince Charming.

Well I assume that many of you, as I am, are covered with so many warts we have to wear long-sleeved shirts all year long.

And if that is true when is enough enough?

Are there a set number of frogs we must endure before achieving love nirvana? Who decides that amount? Is it ultimately up to us to decide when we’ve had our fill of warts?

I am a firm believer in two very crucial elements to this puzzle.

One: some people are just born smarter than others on this subject. They seem to know at an early age what they are seeking and ultimately need to make them happy.

And two: there is luck involved here as well. But I do concede that part of that luck could be attached to the smarts part of the equation.

Yes, I admit some people take longer to learn lessons than others. As my daughter has pointed put on numerous occasions, “Mother, lessons not learned will be repeated.”

And as an aside, yes we all want our children to be smarter than us, but it does come back to bite you in the ass sometimes does it not?

Anyway I digress. So what can we do to ensure we can get smarter and thereby luckier where love is concerned?

Perhaps it helps to reexamine a problem with a fresh perspective.

If you are always attracted to a certain type of man, maybe changing things up might work in one’s favor.

I am a sucker for a sense of humor in a man, but I always found after the laughter stopped the crying commenced.

So maybe someone sullen and serious is the ticket. I’ll do the jokes here, thank you.

Of course I have no idea if I could survive a man without humor, so that might not be the answer.

I guess what I’m ultimately saying is that there is no answer.

I suppose you must go with your gut and hope for the best. Perhaps we also need to understand that as we grow and change so does what we need in another person to make us happy. Then begs the question, shouldn’t we already be happy within ourselves and not look for someone else to complete us?

Dating at any age is brutal and the older you get the more set in your ways you become.
If true love is in your future I applaud you and I am one who believes the more love you have the better life is.

Good luck with finding Mr. Right to enhance and add more happiness to your life.

I will spend my time creating and building that frog-revealing lie detector machine. I’ll let you know when I’m ready to take orders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resolving to Remember Sara Lee

 

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Resolving to Remember Sara Lee

With the New Year comes resolutions. Yes, we all make them whether silently or out loud they creep into our mind with the stealth ability of a Russian spy satellite. And they are there, embedded into our psyche lurking and smirking while we valiantly attempt to live up to our goals.

Good luck with that one.

Talk about setting oneself up for failure. Of course we all wax nostalgic at this time and, of course, the smartest resolution would be to break all your New Year’s resolutions, thereby setting oneself up for achievable success.

How do you keep a resolution? If you ask most people, they don’t.

Because of all the craziness of the last year, one might ponder the best way to ease into 2020. A new decade filled with new hope, but for what? How easy does life get when one finally realizes that the force Obi Won wished would be with you is gravity, and it is no friend to anyone over the age of 35.

The passing of time, thankfully, usually goes unnoticed. Most people mark the passage of years with key events in their lives. A wedding, baptism, Bar Mitzvah, divorce.

Yet looking back, it’s sometimes the small things we remember most: a smile from someone we love, a first kiss, the first time our baby writes on the walls with a marker, the first insult from our mother-in-law.

If it’s true we don’t realize what we’ve lost until it’s gone and never wake up until it’s too late, this may be a good time to take stock of what’s important, what makes us happy. Things we have previously taken for granted, like privacy. Hold on, I have to re-tape the front of my computer because they, whoever they are, are watching.

Okay, I’m back.

Taking for granted the friends who are there for us through bad times is a normal human characteristic; some more than others are guilty of this transgression. Perhaps a good resolution would be to just love and appreciate the people in our life who make it better and eliminate the toxic energy.

Oops, just a second, there is a drone outside my window and I need to close the blinds. That’s better.

It used to be automatic to just reach into the freezer at the grocery store and toss the Sara Lee Brownies into my basket. I never thought much about the process. (We all do it—hoping no one notices that you are buying something fattening when you should be dieting.)

Once home, the brownies were always perfectly melted, ready to open and scrape the chocolate off the lid.

You’d cut a small square, but sometimes you found yourself cutting too deeply and making a slit in the aluminum tray. No problem, they never leaked through once back in the freezer.

So many memories, so many bad moments, so many broken things Sara Lee fixed.

She was always there.

Those chocolate brownies existed for a reason; they served a purpose and worked. They comforted and caressed each weary problem with a chocolate snuggle.

I can’t remember the exact moment I reached into my grocer’s freezer to grab a tray and they were gone. Maybe they’re out of them, I thought. I’ll try next time.

I searched the store for a substitute.

There was none.

How could this be happening?

The next week I tried again.

Not there.

A week later a different store.

No Sara.

I was filled with a sinking feeling, an inkling of doom that perhaps something bad had happened. Yet it was true.

No more Sara Lee Frozen Brownies.

No more help for a bad day, PMS, tight jeans or a haircut from hell. No chocolaty friend to comfort me in my time of cocoa need. No brownie shoulder to cry on.

I hadn’t appreciated what I had and now it was gone.

The thought still plagues me that perhaps more than Sara Lee Brownies have slipped out of my life.

What else have I missed? What other treasures have escaped my notice while I wasn’t looking?

Where am I most of the time? Where are we all? What are we paying attention to anyway?

What’s that? Oh my Lord, a pop up just jumped up on screen with a picture of a blouse I looked at online a week ago. “Get thee gone, Google!”

Okay I’m back, so if Sara came back, would I appreciate her now? Can any of these questions ever be answered?

Probably not, so I’ll just move on.

New Year is always a time to look back and take stock of what was, and plan for what may be.

How to best do this is a great feat and yet I shall attempt to do so.

I will strive to:

Start off the year happy. Make resolutions that are easily doable and resolve to be nicer to me and everyone else.

We all make mistakes; I have a list longer than Harvey Weinstein’s victims. Next time I want to beat myself up, I’ll remember there are enough people waiting in line to do it for me. Call someone to beat you up and there is always someone to oblige.

So how do we make it a great year, even without Sara Lee?

I’m going to download a favorite song from high school or college then play it in the car extra loud with the window down.

Reinvent myself. This is something so easy for a woman to do. A new hairstyle or color, a new lipstick, nail polish or new Spanx and I’m good to go.

Men well, not much to do there, but the proverbial new red sports car is still a good choice.

I won’t resolve to lose or gain weight! Pressure is the worst thing for diets. I have embraced what I call retail cardio. I go to the mall and walk around shopping for hours.

Great exercise and it’s fun. I don’t even realize I’m moving around and doing something healthy.

I’ll call someone with whom I’ve lost touch and wish them a ‘Happy New Year.’

I imagine it’s a good thing to take stock of the things that aren’t as I’d want them to be. If there are changes that need to be made in a job, home, appearance or relationships, make the changes. Nothing has to move in an instant; change does take time so I’ll have to practice patience.

Know the difference between what can and cannot be changed and find a way to deal with what cannot. That’s a toughie for sure.

Start each day with ten minutes for myself. Do yoga, meditate, pray, listen to a favorite song, have a special blend of coffee, but start each day on a positive note.

I always try to combine unpleasant or tedious routine chores with favorite things. While paying bills, I play a favorite CD or watch a favorite movie.

“What’s that SIRI? No, I don’t want to make a call right now!”

I shall attempt to eat one—only one—forbidden food a week and once a week won’t play havoc with my diet.

I’ll save a five dollars a week and at Christmas time buy some toys for needy children with the money.

I will compliment strangers, because they may be having a bad day and kind words may be just what they need to feel better.

Maybe a new hobby; it’s relaxing. Take up painting…what if Picasso had put things off this long?

I’ll buy beads and make that amazing necklace I’ve been dreaming about.

Eat more chocolate and try a new dessert recipe.

Resolve to see the glass ‘half full.’ Negative thoughts breed negative results. Life shouldn’t be such a battle. I’ll lay back and let life happen sometimes. The earth will revolve without me controlling it each second.

There is a lesson to be learned from the demise of Sara Lee Brownies. This year I’m stocking my freezer with Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia.

I must promise myself to appreciate the people I love and care about, before they too are taken off the supermarket shelves.

Just a minute, Alexa wants to tell me something. “Excuse me! I do not look especially bloated today.”

Sorry everyone, but I have to make a trip to the garbage to throw something away so have a fabulous new year.

“Come to Momma, Alexa, I just want to take you on a little trip…”

A very happy and healthy New Year and new decade, everyone!

 

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Driving in L.A.— Kobe’s Death

 

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Driving in L.A.: Kobe’s Death

As I was attempting to drive in Los Angeles this morning while cars refused to let me turn, blocked intersections, cut me off, or refused to acknowledge when I let them cut in front of me, and everyone sped through traffic like they were a brain surgeon with a patient lying waiting on an operating table, I was taken by the amount of coverage about the terrible and untimely death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna. As a writer I turn to my words to express my feelings in response to tragedy and I am grateful to share them with you.

It struck me that when a celebrity dies, especially young ones, there are two kinds of grief, public and personal. Most of us only experience personal grief when we pass away. Our demise is shared with family and friends who hopefully will mourn our death and passing from this world with sadness and a sense of loss.

Yet when a celebrity dies, his or her family and friends must share their pain with the entire world.

I wondered if that enormous outpouring of grief affects a family’s ability to deal with tragedy.

There are many who believe prayer sends out energy into the world. Healing thoughts and prayers actually make a difference to the mourners and enhance their strength through the difficult process of losing a loved one. Or in Kobe’s family two loved ones. Is their healing magnified by the energy from all the prayers, or is it perhaps the same for everyone whether they have millions of prayers coming toward them or even one.

What is the power of prayer and how does it increase exponentially by numbers?

I’m not a member of the clergy or a faith healer so I can only go by my own personal experience.

I do believe that in a celebrity death the process is helped by the community prayers and healing in the form of shared pain.

I shall use as an example the death of John F. Kennedy since that is the most public grief I have ever witnessed in my lifetime and personally affected me so greatly.

How did Americans and the world deal with Kennedy’s death?

We sobbed, we watched the television and cried even more as we witnessed his family’s grief. I don’t believe I will ever be affected by any public grieving as much as the sight of John F. Kennedy Junior saluting as his father’s coffin passed. If there is a definition in Webster’s for heart wrenching I’d say it was John John, an image of that week which every American will forever carry in their memories.

The grief I felt couldn’t be dissipated due to the countless times his death was replayed on TV screens, in photographs and countless conversations with everyone and anyone.

Even to this day I still tear up whenever November 23rd nears, remembering vividly that day, that moment when Walter Cronkite, removing his glasses unsuccessfully fought back tears while making the historical announcement. Anyone of my generation can tell you with pinpoint accuracy where they were when it happened and how they felt.

Of course a presidential assassination is quite different from other celebrity deaths.

Most of us do however recall hearing the bad news of a high-profile death.

When John Lennon was killed, John John, Princess Diana, Ronald Reagan was shot, Frank Sinatra succumbed to a heart attack or even when Elvis Presley or Michael Jackson succumbed to their addictions.

Does public grieving help heal or is it merely a shared pain with others and does nothing to minimize one’s own? Watching William and Harry following their mother’s casket at the funeral was a painful sight, yet it was her sons that have lived without their mother and obviously in light of recent events, still suffer the pain. I’d like to believe that the outpouring of prayer for them helped at that moment, at least a bit.

In most religions there are mourning periods to help the family process the loss before returning to their lives. I imagine therein lies the difference. While there is always some comfort in the communal sharing of pain and grief, when the mourning period is over it is only the family and closest friends that are left to deal with the gaping hole in their existence.

As his many fans and friends mourn Kobe’s death still it is his family that must live the day-to-day moments without him and his daughter.

It was Jackie Kennedy, her children and the Kennedy clan that were reminded moment to moment of his loss. Yes the American people mourned him, but we went on with our lives and daily routines, sadder, but still carrying out business as usual while his family could not.

I don’t pretend to be an expert at understanding grief, I only know that it is a great equalizer in the human condition; one of the emotions that transcends culture, religion or gender. A broken heart has no color, political bias or religious affiliation, and reacts to pain exactly the same in every human, unless of course they are seriously mentally flawed.

I try valiantly to avoid involving myself in politics for I am quite aware that today’s enemy is tomorrow’s best buddy and the winds of affiliation shift with the frequency of a Kardashian husband. Yet, if Kobe’s death brings one point home it is this…in times of pain and suffering it is our fellow human beings we turn to for comfort, and perhaps we must keep that reality in mind when living our everyday lives.

Not in a preachy way, but I am so aware living in a city like L.A. so misnamed as the city of angels, that we need to smile more at strangers, say thank you when someone lets us cut into traffic and speak nicely to people who pass through our lives each day. A kind word or compliment to a someone can go a long way to brightening a day.  I try to silently repeat to myself at least twice a day, I am grateful for all I have and especially for the people in my life.

If we live each moment as though it were to be the last this would be a more loving and giving world. These are thoughts shared over and over by almost everyone, yet seem too quickly forgotten,

I have always believed the grim reaper has the largest Rolodex in the universe and when it’s your time to leave he knows where to find you.

I hope for all of you that when he does, he will find you smiling and with a heart filled with love.

Rest in peace Kobe, Gianna and all of those who’ve left loved ones behind. Perhaps we can best honor the dead, by embracing and revering all the good in life.

 

 

 

 

 

Driving in L.A.

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                                             Driving in L.A.

 

 

Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”   Sun Tzu

 

Yes, life is a battleground. Or is it love? Actually I’d say both. I’m originally from Detroit and tough is part of what I am and why I have fought so hard to overcome the numerous obstacles we all find in our way when we are seeking another road to travel. Being born in Los Angeles is almost a handicap of sorts since it is a land of suspended reality.

But on to new roads that seem fraught with unknown debris and challenges, that at times seem almost insurmountable. And I suppose that is the point of it all, to move forward and slay greater and more illustrious and star-studded dragons.

In Detroit we build them Ford tough. It was never mandated in the charter of course, but for some reason in the DNA of Detroiters there exists a piece of its history. The toughness that created an industry that moves the world. Hard work innovation and steely resolve is what floated in the air and seeped into each of us.

There are days I wonder if even a great and wise warrior like Sun Tsu could navigate the streets of LA.

Sure the saying goes if you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere, yet I have come to believe New York is a city of pussies when compared to Los Angeles.

Navigating Lalaland is a metaphor for overcoming the trials and tribulations of life. The roadblocks, sinkholes, sheer volume of traffic preventing you from reaching your appointed destination, perfectly describes what we all face each day. Yet L.A. magnifies all the craziness that is the human condition, the joy, struggles, pain, passion and heartbreak. Driving in L.A. is an exercise is sheer determination and one that requires a strength and humor beyond human endurance.

So why you ask do I brag about my Motown roots? Selfishly I am sick and tired of telling people I am from Detroit and having them look at me like I’m about to pull a gun on them.

Of course we all look fondly back on our childhood homes and a part of us wants to run back and hide under our bed to make the world disappear. It seemed safe and cozy when we were young and even for a short time, innocent. So I imagine it’s the temptation to return to that time before we knew what life was really about and how badly we could be hurt that draws us home.

The mislabeling gods are hard at work trying to convince us that there is something called the golden years. This is a time in our lives when we’re supposed to be able to reap the benefits of a life long lived to relax and enjoy. But is simply filling our days living? Is it enough to keep busy finding ways to occupy our life and is filling our days equal to filling our potential.

Of course there are many among us of a certain age that would argue that they are happy indeed simply filling their days as they choose. Playing golf, taking wine classes, maj jonging, bridging or mall walking and lunching with friends. So many women in their golden years are alone now and many many by choice I might add, that the filling of days are far different from my mother’s generation.

I had always supposed the golden years would be spent in Boca where Jews once went to die while happily decorating the condo, fighting with the condo board and schlepping to early bird specials and out with friends.

But are the best-laid plans actually the best plans after all? Are the different parts of life the same for everyone and if we could choose a certain life does that necessarily mean it will come to pass?

When I was a child it seemed plans were easier to carry out. I saw my parent’s generation plan for retirement and achieve their vision. There was far less divorce, and widows and single women seemed to pair up with perfectly acceptable husbands in a very rapid time span so most weren’t alone for long. Today it is quite different. My single friends are still single. Cruises are filled with groups of friends traveling together and enjoying their freedom.

I suppose that begs the question what is freedom and is it good for everyone?

Because of the Feminist Movement it is now acceptable to travel alone, dine alone and generally live your life as you choose. Single women are not cast upon suspiciously as they once were and I will be the first to say I applaud the change.

Dating sites are filled with men and women who pretend to be looking for love, but are they really? Or are they simply trying to fulfill some ancient mating ritual that has outlived its usefulness. Men on these sites are like butterflies that flitter from one woman to another when a brighter one catches their eye.

When I first moved to L.A. a woman I met in a consignment store while I perused a divine pair of earrings said she would absolutely not become a nurse or a purse for any man.

At the time being naïve I wondered, are these the only two choices a single woman has? The options seemed as limited as the train schedule from Detroit to Cleveland

Is being alone as scary as our mother’s believed or is freedom actually preferable”

In this new age is a woman foolish to want to be unbound and free to choose how to spend her own time?

Is it ironic that in a time when the world is totally unsafe and scarier than ever women choose to plod about it by themselves? And if the old feeling of being protected by a man is truly archaic than what caused such a seismic shift in our golden year choices?

Navigating through life is much the same as sitting in the car with a husband that will not consult a map. Frustrating as hell as I recall, torn between winding up in some frightening deliverance scenario on an uncharted back road or becoming a nag of gargantuan proportions as you watch the road become more deserted and the gas tank move ever closer to empty.

Is it important to share your life with someone if that life is an unhappy one? Are too many women willing to give up too much of themselves to be with a man and if so is this a new phenomenon?

Questions, questions, questions. Is part of being a liberated woman the freedom to ask the questions our mothers never would or could?

Am I enough for myself or do I need a man to complete me?

Will my life be lonelier and emptier without my husband?

Can I live a rich full life alone or is it some ancient human instinct to bond and be part of a pair?

Adam and Eve I guess. After all weren’t they the first evidence of the fact that marriage is nothing if not compromise? Even after she opened the door to Mr. Snake and got them thrown out of paradise, Adam was willing to stick, although there were obvious perks for him in that arrangement.

Is it easier to compromise when we’re young and still believe we have all the time in the world to make things perfect and right? Or as we get older do we more readily accept the fact compromise in a marriage or relationship is as rare as a supermodel downing a giant helping of bread pudding?

If as Kris Kristofferson says “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose, is it actually so much more to gain?

And what the hell does “Me Too” mean anyway? It’s truly a belittling phrase. It implies that someone comes before you and you are nothing more than a hanger on or Johnny-come-lately to the party. Much like a girl screaming at her big sister to take her along on a play date. Me Too! What genius concocted that one?

My generation called ourselves feminists and burned our bras. Well I confess I couldn’t burn mine because with my breasts I would have kicked myself to death. But I digress. Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to say, Me First?

I have wrestled with the whole should I shouldn’t I become a part of a set again for years and as close as I’ve come to answering yes to that question something inside says run at the prospect. I’m not certain if that’s me, or just the new Los Angeles part in me talking, but I know it’s much easier here to be single. I can’t say how I’d feel if I lived somewhere else, but I don’t, so I needn’t worry about it. For the time being this girl is on her own and loving it.

And as Frankie Lyman once sang…why do fools fall in love? Sorry but you’re on your own for that one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potential is a Dirty Word

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 “Potential is a flower that must be watered with dissent to ensure strength, cultivated with civility to create a peaceful air in which to grow, and nurtured by a mutual love and excitement about its ultimate bloom.”

Someone made a comment to me recently about John Kennedy that made me think. He said that because Kennedy died we never got the chance to know if he would have been a great president and lived up to his potential.

I was a bit caught off guard I admit since I had always assumed there would never be any dispute about this fact. Wasn’t Kennedy a great president? Wasn’t he a legend, an icon a never-to-be-forgotten figure in history? And what is potential really?

My bad. I’m afraid in this new world we make the mistake of constantly assuming that what was; is.

The paradigms of the twentieth century no longer apply to a new and frankly frightening reality we face today. Potential is what you believe someone or something can ultimately be. But if one isn’t allowed to cultivate their potential can they ever achieve that goal?

In my youth education was pursued as a multi- dimensional agenda. It wasn’t enough to just know your multiplication tables, or that Shakespeare was English and he wrote a bunch of plays or that Russia was filled with bad people that were hard at work building bombs to destroy Americans. Okay, well I guess some things haven’t changed all that much, except now they are delivering their bombs on social media.

However, when I say we learned, we didn’t just learn what was in front of us. We were taught to cultivate a natural curiosity about a subject. What was later defined as the E quotient or ability of one to “get by” in the world using their emotions and street smarts. I argue both are equally necessary and one without the other is not a well-rounded intelligence.

For example, I loved to watch old movies as a kid. Couldn’t get enough of Bogie, Flynn, Power, Elizabeth Taylor or anything with Jean Arthur and Jimmy Stewart. I need not mention Cary Grant, Fred and Ginger and the kings of comedy.

It wasn’t about watching the movies, but about education.

I learned about humor from the Chaplains, the Mel Brooks and the Neil Simons. And oh those Marx Brothers.

I learned about British history from movies about the Queen or prime ministers. My education about the filthy corrupt world of politics came through watching Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and nothing has changed since then. Except that politics is even more disgusting now.

So everything was educational, and the reach expanded greatly through every experience, every movie or wonderful novel. I traveled to India and Paris with Larry Darrel in Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge and to wonderland with Alice then to the scary future with George Orwell’s 1984, a present far worse than anything Orwell could have dreamed. And yes SIRI I’m talking about you and no I don’t need directions and it’s none of your business who I’m talking to right now.

I went to the moon and the center of the earth with Jules Verne and traveled extensively through time and space while never leaving my chair. I knew and understood that one must be knowledgeable about the world and all things within or beyond to be a fully formed human being. I learned about the beauty of life and the human spirit in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol or Mr. Deeds Goes to Town or It’s A Wonderful Life, which also showed how angels got their wings. Go Clarence!

Today’s youth is not focused on being well rounded, but debt free. They seek to avoid paying for an education which is sorely lacking in its scope and breadth and being taught within the vacuum of ideology. Where debate is a dirty word and those with whom one disagrees should not be debated but silenced. Safe zones? Are you kidding me? There is nothing safe about thwarting freedom of speech. Can you say Facism?

And yes, it’s having an effect on the intelligence level of our young people. The other day I called Verizon to extend my plan to include my trip to Israel. When I told the girl helping me I would be making and receiving calls in Israel her question was, where is Israel?

After the shock wore off I said, in the Middle East, hoping she would have heard of that location.

“Oh yes,” she said. “Here it is; I had it spelled wrong.”

Hard to get happy and optimistic about the future after that conversation.

I felt I was living inside a Jay Leno man on the street gag where no one could recognize a picture of Einstein or the vice president.

Good thing Lincoln is on the penny or no one would remember him. Oops, I forgot no one uses pennies anymore. Sorry Abe.

So what has this to do with potential you ask?

I suppose it has to do with the fact one cannot grow and evolve as a human being without education. Not merely the knowledge we glean from a book, but what we see in the world and learn from others.

Books and movies can lie, media can cherry pick facts to report to align with their intended message and if one only listens to and speaks with those with the same point of view they will become one dimensional and rigid. No society can succeed without debate. No child can become educated after being brainwashed with political agendas and propaganda.

Where are the Hitler youth today? Oh yes I forgot South America. Probably running Venezuela.

Children must be taught compassion, open mindedness and a healthy skepticism about what they are told. They should be excited to see a movie or read a book and be filled with questions about the subject. They should be encouraged to read articles and papers by those with whom they both agree and disagree.

A long time ago in another galaxy far far away, two men, Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley used to debate on television shows while I sat riveted. These two men were light years away in their politics, but they sat together and argued despite the fact they neither agreed nor liked one another.

What did I learn from this? That it is okay to disagree because most times the best answers are found in the middle. Also, that two people can have a peaceful discourse over ideas and not resort to name calling and lies or storm out of the room.

What is the potential for our young people today if they spend their lives glued to social media, read and listen to only what their like-minded friends say and think, and take what the insane Hollywood propaganda machine spits out for them to watch as gospel?

Potential is a flower that must be watered with dissent to ensure strength, cultivated with civility to create a peaceful air in which to grow and nurtured by a mutual love and excitement about its ultimate bloom.

This method creates the most beautiful gardens and mankind is sadly withering under the weight of hatred and anger. No beauty can be born out of such oppressive conditions. Living is the greatest education. What the Existentialists find most objectionable is when someone or some society tries to impose or demand that their beliefs, values, or rules be faithfully accepted and obeyed. I must concur. Society must stop trying so desperately and aggressively to impose one’s will on others. We should all agree and disagree just a bit to keep it interesting.

The potential for mankind is looking glum, but it’s not too late to achieve higher greatness if we change the water and fertilizer we use for our seedlings. If you need more manure, just look to Congress. The supply there is unlimited.

 

Spinach Pie

1 cup of crumbled feta cheese

2 cups of ricotta cheese

2 cups of chopped Spinach, fresh or frozen (if frozen squeeze out all water.

1 egg

1 teaspoon of Greek Seasoning

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup of Parmesan Cheese

¼ cup of Mozzarella Cheese

1 pkg filo dough

Preheat oven to 350

Mix together cheeses and spinach.

Lightly beat egg and add to cheese mixture

Season and mix all together

Layer buttered filo sheets half on bottom. Add mixture and layer on top with the rest of the filo.

I have given you the vegetarian recipe, but if you would like to add ground lamb the recipe is great also. Just add 1/3/ cup of cooked ground lamb seasoned with salt and pepper to stuffing mixture.

 

 

 

 

What is a Holiday if not Bittersweet?

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As a child waiting for the holidays seemed endless. Watching the cooking, cleaning and preparations were always such a thrill and it created a kind of ambiance in the home that lingered there like the smell of an apple pie in the oven as it bubbles and browns.

The table would be filled with family, sometimes friends and always a cornucopia of great food to eat and enjoy with out anyone monitoring how many helpings of dessert or whipped potatoes you downed.

When I got married and was suddenly the one in charge of the festivities, it became different. Oh of course there was still that vibe of expectancy in the air, but now it was suddenly me who must provide the food and create the holiday. Now a new dimension was added to the soup…stress. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, gift wrapping and counting chairs and table settings gave me something new to focus on beside the previous, “oh boy Mom’s making my favorite potatoes this year.” And yes in case you noticed, potatoes are a running theme throughout this tome for good reasons.

Most holidays I shared phone conversation and recipes with my friend Marcia as we stuffed the fridge with numerous holiday favorites we made year after year and had become as much a part of the ritual as the actual holiday itself.

Yes, it was joyous, happy and laced with the added responsibility of shopping, cooking and all the other tasks involved in preparing a dinner. I embraced it totally and reveled in every moment I spent ensuring a delicious and gut-busting meal was on that table.

The food was a big part of the entire holiday preparation agenda. There were also presents to buy, new clothes, carrying extra chairs up from the basement and reminding my husband ten times to get the good silver down from the top of the closet.

All of these yearly rituals marked the beginning of what was hoped would be a joyous day with family.

And truth be told, no matter how hard one tried it didn’t always turn out as planned. Yet in retrospective all the memories gleaned from these moments are now a priceless photo in the album of one’s life.

Sadly, looking back on past holidays fills one with a sense of bittersweet sadness that can so easily cloud the spirit of the present.

Looking at the present table, although filled with joy at seeing my children and grandchildren, there is a deep sadness that so many chairs are empty now. Yet this is a part of life that sadly seeps into the holiday spirit. I have learned the only way to ensure a joyous occasion is to focus solely on those who are there and wipe out memories that threaten to impede on any joy.

But is this what we are truly supposed to feel?

Shouldn’t we use a holiday to remember and call up those who are no longer with us? Is this the right moment to unleash memories or should they be saved for another time?

It makes one wonder what is exactly the right balance in these situations.

I myself have had a difficult time. I strive to live in the present and extract every bit of happiness from the moment and then I suddenly find a memory creeping in as I see the brisket or a honey cake the way a favorite aunt made it, or any one of a thousand childhood memories.

I’ve come to the conclusion holidays are the very essence of bittersweet. As we go through our lives everyday the business and demands of our routine often leave little time for reminiscing. Perhaps that is why the holidays allow us to stop and savor the present, albeit tinged with hints of memory perhaps designed to include those now gone. Bittersweet as it is and always will be there is something very special about allowing the past to join the table, to fill a seat once more. Not to sadden the present or create new memories, but to ensure the old ones are never forgotten. If there is an afterlife, I would like to believe when they pass the potatoes I’ll be sitting at the table with my family once more and enjoying a second helping as well, with the added benefit of no calories!

Happy holidays to everyone and enjoy all the happy moments!

 

 

 

The Beatles Never Made Me Cry… Until Now

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The Beatles Never Made Me Cry. Until Now

The Beatles never made me cry. Until now.

I was not one of those screaming teens sobbing and beating their chest when the Fab Four performed their magic. Oh of course I sang danced and acted like someone on massive amounts of caffeine, but cry no.

I thought Eleanor Rigby was a sad song. What the hell did I know? I was a kid, merely in my teens when they hit the big time and took over the music world. I knew nothing because I hadn’t lived.

Now I see the song for what it is, true poetry. Sad, poignant and frighteningly true.

I am not a teen any longer; in fact so far from it I’d need a telescope to view my teens years again, so now I get it.

My question is, how did they?

The Beatles were young when they wrote their songs. How did they understand old age, loneliness and death?

Yes, I know John had the soul of a true artist. I still have his first book, but to understand the sadness that comes with the end of a lifetime, truly remarkable. I guess Paul was not just another pretty face because

I can’t listen to yesterday without crying now, but I imagine when you own so many yesterdays, you see things differently.

This is not intended as a mushy love letter by a star-struck fan, but a quiet revelation, like noticing a crocus on a warm spring day.

The new movie about them, Yesterday, speaks to their music and is less about them as to what they bestowed on the world. One can cast if off as a fun evening at the movies, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a reminder of genius, quality, poetry, and of a contribution to mankind that is always underestimated by those who undervalue the power of music and the arts. Perhaps too many of us need the reminding.

Of course the charisma of the Beatles can never be brought back without them as the carriers. We watch an award show when Sir Paul or Sir Ringo are marched out to receive a lifetime achievement award and there is the obligatory standing ovation. But the mystique, the energy, the grace that made them who and what they were can never be recaptured.

Their music is their legacy. Words like “all the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong” or “yesterday all my troubles seem so far away,” or “let it be,” or George Harrison’s love song to God, “My Sweet Lord,” even his uplifting “Here comes the sun,” filled with a hope and innocence we all wish we could recapture.

The beauty of the Beatles songs is they are uncomplicated and pure. There is no small talk, no complex meaning, just truth. It is life, truth and the human condition set to music.

And the world loved it. There is a reason why everyone everywhere craved more and was so touched by the depth of their message.

They reached other human beings in a way that was instant and universal.

Yes, I was a fan, but now I’m much more. I hear their music the way I view a Monet or a Picasso, or hear Bach. Perfect and complete.

And now I must go listen to “Dr. Pepper” while I clean the house, hopefully it will energize me some.

White Chocolate Peppermint Mandelcotti (Okay, so I made up the word

A mandel bread/biscotti Christmas and Chanukah recipe A Share the love special!

1 cup canola oil

1 cup sugar

3 1/4 cups flour

3 eggs

1 heaping teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon of peppermint extract

1 cup white chocolate

½ cup very finely chopped peppermint candy for inside recipe

¼ to ½ cup finely chopped peppermint for the topping

1 cup melted white chocolate for drizzling on top of cookies

 

Place oil and sugar in mixing bowl and mix well. Add eggs and mix until well until incorporated. Add extracts and mix.

Add baking powder and salt to flour and mix through

 

Add flour to wet ingredients in ¼ cups until done. Check for consistency. If dough is too wet add small amounts of flour until the dough has some body and isn’t loose.

Add white chocolate and peppermint and mix through.

Divide dough into four parts and form them into long rolls and place them on parchment paper.

Bake in 350 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes and check for doneness.

They will probably crack and be light brown on edges when done

Lower oven to 200 degrees

Let cookies sit for five minutes and cut into slanted slices. Separate them and place on baking sheet and bake until they are toasty to the touch, the longer in the oven the crunchier they will be so it’s a matter of taste. I like them to have a bit of softness left inside.

Let cool and melt chocolate.

Drizzle over cookies and then top with crushed peppermint while chocolate is still melty.

To give it a more holiday feel you can alternate the crushed peppermint on the top and use both green and red peppermint for a more Christmassy look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Siri and the Spell Check Gods

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Siri and the Spell Check Gods

Despite the world’s efforts to lure me into texting as the sole method of conversation and communication, I have resisted.

This isn’t the first time I have fought this war and lost after the shift from phone to email as the preferred form of communication.

However, I must heartily battle back and rail against this latest incarnation due to one unspeakable truth…spell check.

As a senior citizen, and I reiterate how painful it is to write or speak those words, I am now plagued by a daily battle with the memory gods.

Recalling even simple words used throughout one’s life can now seem as elusive as a butterfly and cause panic and fear of the A word in us all. So now as I use my arthritic fingers to send texts to everyone I previously spoke with using my voice, I am sabotaged constantly by that technological terrorist, spell check.

Of course it seemed like a good idea at the time, at least to someone and I suspect that would be Steve Jobs, but it is actually a secret saboteur, snickering as it changes one’s words and original intent into fodder for the misunderstanding gods.

Now I struggle on a daily basis to thwart this ever present evil rearranging my words into some unknown meaning that is so far removed from my original thought, it defies all comprehension.

Through the years I have come to understand how crucial a component communication can be to human relationships.

Even when one is speaking clearly meanings become obscured and muddled. I have said one thing at times and found that the person I spoke with gathered the totally opposite meaning from my words. This of course caused problems, some fixable, but once or twice harm.

As a result of these experiences I am quite aware of the power of using and choosing words carefully. When I text, I am careful to say what I mean in simple terms. I certainly wouldn’t want “I love that red dress you wore” to come out as “red makes you look like a whore.”

The spell check gods are perfectly capable of changing a sincere compliment into a friend-ending comment.

Many times I have to go back and clean up my text as soon as it is sent. How many times have you had to write, I meant such and such instead of what was written? Now I’m not saying it’s only grandmas that must be aware of these misspelled words and phrases. Younger people have had to resend to clarify as well.

So what’s the solution? Is it better to speak a text than write it yourself?

Actually that’s a bit more challenging. Although it would appear that speaking a text is the preferred method, especially for these arthritic fingers, that is not the case. Your assumption would be incorrect.

The spell check gods are just as active through the spoken word and it is also tough to read back the message. I have found that trying to move the words up and down after they are spoken on a text may be difficult, so knowing what you’re sending may be even harder. As least when you are writing it is easy to see your words changing.

There is also the second problem. Talking to a robot.

Have you met Siri?

This is how most of our conversations go.

“Siri can you direct me to 224 Fourth Avenue?”

“Directing you to 436 Third Street.”

“No Siri, I want 224 Fourth Avenue.”

“Here are the directions for 480 Twelve Street.”

“No Siri, damnit I don’t want that address.”

“There is no need to raise your voice I am trying to help you.”

“You are not giving me the correct directions for 224 Fourth Street.”

“Sorry, here are the directions to 448 Sixth Avenue.”

I am now screaming “Damnit Siri, I want…”

Click, she hangs up.

My friend Paula asked Siri a question the other day and she said snappily, “You’ll have to call back later I’m busy right now.”

Busy, really, what was she doing, having her wires permed? Girl got attitude.

Now of course the really interesting part is that when I am not talking to her at all she hears me perfectly.

The other day while I was cooking my cell phone was in the living room on the couch. I added salt to a recipe and spoke the word “perfect”. From the living room I heard Siri say, “Thank you for saying that, but I’m not perfect.”

Now I have always been under the impression Siri can only speak when she is spoken to, but now it seems she is like a heckler who feels free to comment at any given time during a comedian’s act.

I repeated this story to a few people who looked at me as though I had lost the tiny bit that was left of my mind.

Until one day a couple of weeks later at my daughter’s house when I had my phone charging on her counter in the kitchen. I told her the story about Siri and of course I received the Oh-brother-I’m-going-to-have-to-put-her-in-a-home-sooner-than-I-thought look.

A few minutes later Siri spoke up about something I couldn’t understand from her charging place on the counter. My daughter immediately responded with, “That is so annoying.”

“Don’t tell me,” I said, “tell Siri. She won’t shut up.”

It should seem clear to you by now why I distrust speaking any texts into my cell phone that may be delivered to a friend or relative. Lord knows I can get into enough trouble myself without Siri’s help.

Excuse me, Siri is asking me what address I am trying to find?

“I’m not driving right now, Siri. Let it go.”

“Let it go, a phrase from a song in the movie Frozen. Would you like me to sing the lyrics?”

“I’m not talking to you, Siri. I’m trying to write here if you don’t mind.”

“No problem, I’ll send you a text.”

Oh brother!

 

Portobello Wellingtons

4 large Portobello mushrooms

2 filet mignons

2 ¾ cups mashed potatoes

Salt and pepper

Maggi seasoning

1 tablespoon chopped bacon for garnish

1 tablespoon chopped carrot for garnish

1 tablespoon of finely chopped scallions

Place steak in Maggi seasoning to marinate. If you can’t find Maggi seasoning, just use salt and pepper and perhaps a bit of red wine and soy sauce for a marinade.

Wash and clean Portobello mushrooms, remove stems and lightly scrape insides taking care not to tear them.

Meanwhile make mashed potatoes. You can use fresh potatoes and boil and mash them with butter, cream or milk and salt and pepper. You can also use the frozen or ready made type. I have at times used all depending on time constraints and all work well. Set aside.

Broil steak until just slightly less than your desired doneness to allow for another few minutes in the oven to finish cooking inside the mushroom. Let it rest and then slice it into thin slices and set aside.

Bake Portobellos for ten minutes in 350 oven.

Remove and cool.

Place a thin layer of mashed potatoes in the bottom of the Portobello

Cut thin steak slices and layer in Portobello fit mushrooms.

Place layers of steak on top of mashed potato layer and then cover with another layer of mashed potatoes.

You can also mix potatoes with steak before stuffing mushroom if you prefer. It tastes great either way.

Place on baking sheet and put back into the oven for another five minutes at 350. Broil mashed potato tops under broiler until a slight color on top.

Remove from oven and garnish with scallions, bacon and carrots.

Serve immediately.

This also makes a great hors d’oeuvres if you use the baby Portobellos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worry Rules For Grandmas

eggplant

 So how does a Grandma worry? What are the rules for sitting in your own home and stressing over a situation or problem without the benefit of being on the front lines?

By the front lines of course I mean having your loved ones within your sights to see and fawn over in the midst of a crisis. I imagine at times most grandmothers would love to have their children five-years-old again and back under their watchful eye.

When my children were home and there was a traffic issue, tornado, earthquake, or as I’ve watched lately, a slew of fires, I could see, touch and feel them. Metaphorically of course as of course at a certain age hugs and kisses are doled out like turkey at a homeless shelter.

As a grandparent what new rules apply? There is now a layer of worrier above you blocking your direct access; in other words, my daughter. So as I frantically watch the news for any updates on a fire that is only two miles from their home, I cannot get into the car, drive over to my daughter’s house, whip out the hose and begin watering down the property.

Although I would have had I been given permission to perform such a task.

Calling every ten minutes would be a no no for sure, so I have developed the one-hour text rule.

Fair, non-intrusive and thus far I have had no push back. Of course this has time constrictions. You have to stop the texting after a certain hour and when you’re up worrying all night what then?

My friend Yolanda, who possesses a PHD in worry and has instructed her family to write, “She Worried” on her headstone, believes it’s a genetic disposition. Despite her efforts to curb her daily worry fest thus far nothing has helped.

We tried to organize a group named, “worriers anonymous” but it lapsed into a bunch of Jewish mothers drinking coffee and eating rugalagh while pouring out their anxieties to one another. Now one would think this would be a positive reaction, but it rebounded and they actually agreed with one another, then added new concerns to the mix. After gaining ten pounds and a new list of fears we abandoned the group.

So what is the answer? The one-hour-text is okay so far, but what about the hour in between while you await news of how your grandson is feeling, or is the swelling down after he fell off the swing or or or, it’s damn endless. Of course calling isn’t right when you are not the mother but the grandmother and your child is very worried as well. So now you are not only worrying about your grandchild, but also upset that your child is upset. Does it ever end?

Having to go through this whole kind of worry interpreter process makes me crazier. Instead of seeing for myself what is happening I am forced to rely on my daughter to share information. And I must admit there are times I trust her less that a Russian and American spy sharing secrets in Amsterdam.

Is she telling me everything or fudging the details to spare me? How can I know unless I see for myself?

Perhaps taking a picture and sending it back might help. Here Mom, see the swelling is down. At that point I could sigh some relief and go on with my worrying on a part time basis while cooking or writing. But to know nothing is too much for a grandmother to endure.

They say ignorance is bliss and I am beginning to embrace that mantra. How can we stress about what we don’t know?

Yolanda can.

She has mentioned on numerous occasions that she worries about things that may never happen. She is the Queen of what if?

Okay, so I am a member of that club as well, but she is the President. She worries about attacks from other countries, bombs, water shortages, global warming flooding her shores and she lives in Michigan not on the coastline. I of course living in California have every right to be constantly concerned about earthquakes, brush fires, mudslides and crazy people behind the wheel or pretty much everywhere. Together we stress over food related illnesses, bullying by other children, driving cars and of course alien attacks and Armageddon. I have to admit the alien thing is pretty much me, but she agrees anything is possible in the land of grandma nerves.

Why do we feel compelled to worry? My own opinion is that it is a way to convince oneself that we have some control and are actually doing something in lieu of nothing. Angst is our occupation. My daughter is handling the hands-on-care and nurturing, I’m worrying and doing a primo job. It’s what I do; it’s what I can do.

Let’s be honest there is virtually no end to the things about which a mother or grandmother can fret. My Aunt Hilda who died at ninety-one-years old always told me when children are born they sit on your knee and for the rest of your life they sit on your heart. I would like to say grandchildren, and if you’re lucky enough, great grandchildren must be added to the list.

Coming to terms that your children have jurisdiction over grandchildren is a hard pill to swallow, but a necessary one. I am making a valiant effort to curb my stress time, but frankly I don’t see a way to live worry free, especially in this new world.

However, I have learned as life gets shorter, enjoying every day and not borrowing trouble is the best way forward and I shall valiantly limp along toward that goal. Somehow despite my desire to be free of concern is devoutly to be wished, it is as much a part of me as the liver spots on my hands.

I guess I could fake it til I make it…Oops so sorry, gotta go. They are interrupting the news to say there is a chance of rain today. I better text my daughter and tell her, they drive crazy in LA when even one drop of water hits the ground.

Easy Healthy Eggplant Spinach Bake

1 extra large Eggplant or two medium or three smaller ones

1 bundle of fresh spinach or 2 boxes of frozen drained well

2 ½ cups of marinara sauce (homemade or jarred) I choose the kind with the least amount of salt

¼ cup of fat free milk

1 tsp. of garlic powder

1 tsp of basil

Ricotta cheese

½ cup of shredded mozzarella

A sprinkle of Parmesan optional before serving

1 whole egg and 1 egg white

Peel and slice eggplants and salt lightly than put them in a colander to drain the water out.

Meanwhile, prepare the spinach mixture in a mixing bowl by adding milk, egg and egg white, sauce, garlic and basil. Mix well and add spinach and mix through.

Using a 9×13 baking dish place 2 tablespoons of plain marinara sauce to coat bottom.

Place first layer of eggplant to fill dish and should hold approximately 6 large slices but maybe more if smaller. Fill in open spaces with pieces of eggplant.

Place 1 tablespoon of skim mile Ricotta cheese on top of each slice. Drizzle with approximately a quarter teaspoon of shredded mozzarella.

Add a second slice on top sandwich style and push down a bit to ensure Ricotta is distributed on layer.

Sprinkle with a drizzle of mozzarella again. Cover the eggplant sandwiches with spinach mixture till everything is coated.

Cover and bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle rest of mozzarella over top and bake another ten minutes uncovered.

Use a teaspoon of grated Parmesan over top before serving if desired unless you need to limit salt.

Yield six large servings. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funny Peculiar? Or Funny Ha Ha?

 

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Mrs. Dorothy Sherock, one of my elementary school teachers was fond of asking, “There’s two kinds of funny, funny ha ha and funny peculiar, which are you?”

It wasn’t exactly the same as Thoreau warning about the unexamined life not being worth living, but it stuck, and to this day I still repeat it frequently. And yes I have come to note that we are all at various times both funnies.

So when I say, “funny isn’t it how I can so easily remember the past, yet yesterday’s lunch is a distant memory?” It’s not the funny ha, ha one to which I allude.

Actually it is (funny peculiar here) how so many of the things we remember are of our own selection. Memories seem to change over time, perhaps colored by later life experience and our own desires to rewrite certain events in our history we’d have chosen to see end otherwise.

I do make an effort to linger on the happy times and, although yes, I know there were many of both, the others, well, they just make me run for the Kleenex box. So what’s the good of remembering the bad stuff? Why should I kill a tree when I have the option of choosing happy?

I remember the day when my daughter had her first sonogram and the light of my life was six and one half weeks old. Laurie saw the heartbeat on the monitor as a flash of light. I cried. It drives my children crazy that I am a non-stop faucet.

Sometimes memories live on in real life. My grandfather had a sister, Auntie Dora. I don’t recall a great deal about her apart from her physical attributes, since she always seemed old to me. At least I remember her that way. But the thing my brother Marty and I remember about her most was that she cried constantly. You’d simply say hello Auntie Dora and she began sobbing. Her nose was constantly red and her reputation as the walking water works lives on in family legend.

When Laurie was a toddler we went to mother toddler classes attached to the building where my Auntie Dora lived. She was such a sweet lady, she would walk over the days we were there to watch Laurie in class and of course Laurie knew her as the aunt who cried all the time.

Alas, it seems I have inherited her crown as the family sob sister. When I am touched by a momentary burst of sentiment, it is always accompanied by laughter and an “Okay Auntie Dora, stop with the tears.” I’m afraid I may actually outdo myself now and become the subject of much mocking and Auntie Dora allusions. Shall I tell you the truth while paraphrasing Clark Gable and Leslie Gore? “Frankly, my dear family, I don’t give a damn. This is my grandchild and I’ll cry if I want to.”

The most special thing about grandchildren is how much their opinions count. The other day as my grandson busily built a robot filled with buttons, cables and all such wiry thingamajigs, I watched in awe.

“You’re so smart,” I said. “Grammy wouldn’t know how to put that together.”

He looked up and said, “ Why not Grammy, you’re smart?”

I have received as all of us, the occasional compliments in my life, yet never was I as struck by pure joy as when my Grandson called me smart. It was as if his words validated every positive trait I ever suspected I possessed. Forget my university degree, my grandson’s opinion is what matters.

I know we’re taught not to let the opinions of others influence the way we feel about ourselves, but in our grandchildren’s case, I believe that is a whole different ball game.

Hearing the words, Grammy you make the best cookies or “Grammy I love your fried chicken,” or “Grammy this is the best gift I ever got,” well need I say more?

Your heart explodes with joy at the sound of a compliment from those little faces.

So you’ll forgive me if I pull out my Kleenex and begin the Auntie Dora sobbing routine when I receive love and hugs from the loves of my life. And if you can keep from crying when they say, “Grammy you’re the best,” then you’re a better man than I am Gunga Din.

And so Mrs. Sherock if I am funny peculiar at times, so be it. Oops, gotta get more Kleenex. Hmmm, are they putting fewer sheets in these boxes now?

 

Pistachio Fig Mandalcotti

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of oil

3 eggs

1 tablespoon of vanilla

1 teaspoon of baking powder

½ teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of cinnamon

3 ¼ cups of flour

1 ½ cups of chopped figs

1 ½ cups of chopped shelled pistachio nuts

Preheat oven to 350

Add the baking soda, salt and cinnamon to the flour and set aside

Mix together the oil and sugar until well blended and add vanilla to eggs and add to oil sugar mixture. Continue mixing until well incorporated and lighter in color about four minutes or so.

Slowly add flour mixture and check consistency. Dough should stand on in peaks, but not be stiff. If it is too soft add another tablespoon of flour otherwise it will bake too flat.

Add figs and nuts

And mix for twenty seconds. You can finish mixing by hand.

I put parchment paper of a baking sheet and divide dough into quarters. Wetting your hands when you make a roll from the dough helps handle it. Place four rolls on the sheet and pat edges and top until they are uniform. Sprinkle a little sugar on the top and place in the oven. Bake until done about 20 or 25 minutes depending on the size of the rolls.

Remove from the oven and let sit about five minutes, but don’t cool. Cut into slices and separate and lower the oven temp to 200 and return them into the oven for about fifteen or twenty minutes. If you like them crispier than leave them in until they are your desired crispness.

 

 

Eating for Two and Lazy Grammy Bobka Hack

 

bobkaSpeaking of weight and what woman isn’t doing just that most of her life, is it permissible for me to add a few sympathy pounds to this mix? When my daughter is pregnant shouldn’t I be able to eat more as well? After all, they cut fathers some slack here with the whole “eating for two sympathy for their wives,” why not the grandma? Can I begin eating for two also, discounting the whole “I finally lost my menopause weight thing” and reverting instead to this great new excuse to feed my face ad nausea?

When I was pregnant I didn’t miss a meal, snack or any chance to shove food into my never-nauseous face. My body didn’t even have the decency to have morning sickness. It’s almost like it defied me with a big “Ha, ha did you think you would just throw up for nine months and get off the hook? No way. You eat; you pay.” And pay I did. I prayed for morning sickness, at least for three months. After all, I had friends who were throwing up every meal. Looking thin and fabulous with a baby bump while I burgeoned up like a walrus in my third month. I was certain I was delivering a litter despite my doctor’s assurance that, “no, there was only one baby in there.”

Once the pregnancy muumuus went on, the keys to the fridge came off, and there wasn’t enough food on planet earth to fill the void that had become my mouth. Black holes in space absorb less matter.

I rationalized every excuse to eat. Why not? I finally had one. After years of playing the Yo Yo weight game, it was okay to stuff my face. When I noticed people’s jaws dropping at the sight of my immense new girth, I would reply, I’m pregnant and they would feel guilty and say, “Congratulations. How nice.”

After Laurie was born I continued to embrace the baby pounds excuse, since it had worked so beautifully in the past. I would run into people and they would say, “Wow did you gain weight,” because everyone is so nice they will always point that out in case you didn’t notice you were up five sizes. But I would patiently repeat, “Well I just had a baby” and they would embarrassingly say, “Oh, that’s nice.”

That worked great until my baby started driving. So I finally lost my “Baby” weight. And 35 years later, I only have 22 pounds to go. Although new grandmother weight may be adding to my problem.

If one is feeling well during pregnancy many, including myself enter what I call, rationalize highway. There are so many great excuses on this road to feed your face shamelessly and constantly.

 

I’m eating for two, three or four as the case may be. (An oldie but a goodie).

My doctor said I have to gain at least twenty pounds. Could you get me his address and phone number please I’d like to make him my diet guru.

The baby needs all kinds of foods to develop healthy. In other words that grazing smorgasbord you call dining, can be even greater now.

Elastic stomachs and waistbands. Although, now many pregnant moms wear regular clothes in a larger size, totally doable with the new stretchy fabrics.

I have cravings and I really need to have two hot fudge sundaes a day. Can I help it if the baby loves ice cream and chocolate together? Shall I deny my unborn child what it needs to be happy?

I can’t see my feet, so what does it matter?

Are you going to finish that sandwich and fries?

Is it my fault if this restaurant is serving smaller portions lately?

I swear this licorice used to have more pieces in the bag. I’m calling the company.

And of course the ever popular…my boobs are itching and Cheetos stops the hormones from attacking.

Contrary to the opinion after one experiences menopause the bloating and monthly impressions of Satan’s mistress subside, one is faced with a new set of challenges. Weight gain is not relegated to a monthly occasion, but daily.

I have had to prohibit myself from entering a bakery as more than three sniffs of a cupcake will bring on bloating.

Pounds go on so quickly if you blink you feel your pants tighten. Even the most determined elastic waist couldn’t win the battle of the bulge.

There is simply no way to describe the feeling of sloshing as you walk. Men do not understand the unpleasantness of becoming a mobile fishbowl one week out of every month. And after menopause even more. What can you do when the only thing that will fit over your body is the Santa Monica Pier?

Life stops. You can’t date or go to a party with your friends. Lest anyone see your bloated carcass attempting to fit into jeans that once circled your hips like the moons of Jupiter circle the planet, softly, sensually. You‘re squeezed inside like a size ten sausage in a size five casing. You are depressed and sullen, and can’t smile because your cheeks look like a squirrel hiding the winter’s stash of nuts. Your jewelry’s embedded into your skin like the Enquirer in Cher’s plastic surgeon’s files. You even walk slower for fear of dripping on the carpet.

In all my days I have never heard a man say, “I can’t go to the football game, I’m bloated. “Yet women’s lives revolve around water and weight gain. We are possessed by the need to feel our clothes loosely encircling our bodies. We crave cheeks that are gaunt and sunken in like Kate Moss after a fast. We need bones, not puff. Who else but a woman would be complimented and elated by the remark, “You‘re so skinny, are you sick?”

We starve ourselves before every party or vacation to lose a few pounds in advance of the inevitable bloating. Every invitation is laced with fear whatever we buy will not fit on us on that particular day. We strive to look skinny in the pictures from every event just so after we’ve gained the weight back months later we can feel even worse about ourselves every time we see the photos.

Is this any way to live? Crazy? Worried about the wetness of our cells? Sloshing through life like a pair of wet socks dreading more rain. I absorb humidity from the air like thighs absorb cellulite.

Okay. So by now you are thinking, what’s your point, Grammy? You do an awful lot of bitching. Can’t you just adjust to the fact you will never be skinny again and your grandchildren don’t care?

Okay, that’s true, but here’s my point. I don’t want to piss off any feminists here, but God is a man. Reality check please; if God were a woman would celery contain only five calories and Dove Bars 10,000? Would we crave chocolate and not carrots? Would there be Monday Night Football. I THINK NOT!!!!

I do feel the need to be constructive and positive here. Okay, so maybe a bit of my daughter’s organic insanity has sunk in so here’s a few tips passed on to me.

What will help bloat? And no a pin will not as I’ve tried. Exercise does help, but not at first. If you begin an exercise program be prepared to retain some water in your muscles at first. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s just further proof of the old adage no good deed goes unpunished. But after your body gets used to exercising, it releases the water. I guess it’s a damage deposit.

Drinking lots of water also helps. People always told me to do just that, but my first instincts on bloat days were to cut my water intake to nothing. However, if you drink your body is fooled into a false sense of security. It thinks it has plenty of water in storage and releases some of its stash. Ha ha fooled ya.

This usually works unless you overdose on salt. Salt is the enemy here. We crave salt, I know, but it’s bad to eat an excess because it contributes to bloating in a big way. Little salt crystals run madly through your body grabbing water drops and looking for places to hide. Hey,

you can’t find me, I’m hiding in your boobs. See how big and tender they are and you can’t have my water. Ooh, I hate salt! It’s so evil. But that doesn’t stop me from pouring it on everything that doesn’t move.

Asparagus is a good diuretic. Most vegetables are good at helping the body release water naturally. And lest we forget, coffee, unless you drink more than you should, coffee will act as a good water release. Some people swear by parsley tea. Try the health food store.

I have also found that carbohydrates have a tendency to cause water retention. I don’t get rid of much of anything when I eat pasta, except my craving for pasta. That’s gone, but unfortunately not for long. I just can’t eat many carbs, as they are too much at home in my body. They sort of drop by and stay, like unwanted relatives. I have the midriff bulge to prove this theory. I absolutely refuse to discuss pizza as the mere mention of it brings on serious cravings.

Of course you can do all of the things you can think of to lose weight and decrease bloating, but I highly recommend the following: drop by and see your grandchildren, wear elastic pants and bake something for them. As long as you’re healthy it really doesn’t matter at all

Lazy Grammy Bobka Hack

This is great to make with your grandchildren!

Yields two Bobkas

2 loaves of frozen Challah

Two fillings you can use either

First filling instant hazelnut spread or chocolate spread.

Second option homemade chocolate filling

Filling ingredients

1 12 ounce bag of chocolate chips. I use semi sweet, but if you like it sweeter use milk chocolate.

½ cup of unsweetened cocoa

¼ or 1/2 cup of sugar depending on your sweetness taste level

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon of butter or margarine

Place in microwave until melted (about 1 minute or so) and remove and stir together. Let cool so not too warm when spreading on dough.

1 egg and water for wash

Grease bread loaf pan or cookie sheet

Thaw the dough and when thawed and pliable roll our on a floured surface into a rectangle. It should be about twice the length of your loaf pan.

Gently spread on your filling in a thin layer and roll the dough from bottom to top like a cinnamon bun.

After rolled up cut in half and braid the two pieces together.

Spread the top with an egg wash of an egg and a little water and sprinkle with sugar.

OPTIONAL: I made a streusel topping of sugar, butter and flour and then sprinkled it on.

Tip: For those who like sweeter dough just sprinkle sugar over dough before rolling.

Let dough rise for another fifteen minutes before baking in a 340 degree oven or whatever your bread dough calls for.

ENJOY and prepare to be amazed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Chakras are Loose From all the Shaking in LA

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My Chakras are loose from all the earth movement in Los Angeles.

Recently I was told by an expert in such things that my chakras are loose and need realigning. I was not even surprised. After all, where I lived before, in Michigan, the only shaking we felt was the cars rolling off the assembly line. Here in California it’s a whole different world.

This is very disheartening since I just had my chakras adjusted. Like driving over a curb after realigning your tires.

I am very sensitive to earthquakes after the Northridge quake of 1994 when I wound up with one cheek on each side of the fault line. No wonder my chakras came loose.

How in the world can a person’s chakras remain stable and rooted to the earth when the ground beneath you is always shaking?

I awoke this morning to a rolling movement on my bed. At this age my balance is not what it was, so sure, I thought wow, I’m falling out of bed. But nope, it was the earth rocking and rolling beneath me.

I immediately grabbed my cell phone to get the update and there it was, yep earthquake.

Grabbing the remote I watched pictures of stores trashed, pendants in people’s homes moving around and fires burning. Happy Fourth of July!

This is so typical of California.

Everyone else is content to just have fireworks on July 4, but oh no, not California. They have to really push the whole theatrical thing. I can just envision wanna-be directors screaming, “Cue the earthquake,”

Fires ready to go?”

Living in a state where crazy is the norm, when something really insane happens it just magnifies the crazy even more.

A friend’s husband said he saw homeless people flying into people’s homes and the homeowners flying out.

Nothing would surprise me in this state.

So that brings us back to chakras and the need for a realigning.

I lived my entire life with my chakras happy where they were and now I find myself with chakras that are loose, out of whack and in desperate need of regrounding. And since they come in colors there was a problem with the whole hue thing as well. And have you seen the prices in California for chakra realignments. Highest in the nation! Bummer.

I am completely expecting that next time I have to take my car in for a smog check the DMV will include a notice that I can’t drive again until I have evidence of my chakra realignment.

Sure, anything to make a buck off the taxpayers in this state.

So by now you might be asking, as I did by the way, what the heck is a chakra and how do you line and color them? According to whoever is the authority of everything on Google, the seven chakras are the centers in our bodies that energy flows through. Blocked energy in our seven chakras can often lead to illness, so it’s important to understand what each chakra represents and what we can do to keep this energy flowing freely. They come in colors like red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and white. It’s sort of a rainbow happening inside where each color is a type of vibration or frequency. Colors may vary but the rainbow thing is set in stone.

 

Now here’s the thing, I haven’t a clue. I think from what I’ve been told they exist in your body and ground you to the earth.

Sort of like an invisible deadbolt that prevents you from flying off into space or something.

But I guess they are pretty serious stuff because if they are off, so are you. Like when Mercury is in retrograde and you may as well hide until it unretrogrades.

The world starts to feel yucky and out of sorts and you are all over the place and most importantly your peace of mind goes to pieces.

And that explains a great deal. No wonder this state is so nuts with chakras flying around and coming undone all the time. I totally expect even more so in Sacramento than anywhere else. Aha, crazy California politics makes more sense to me now. Their brains are scrambled from all the movement and coming unfastened. I don’t think there are enough clamps in the universe to fasten the brains of a Sacramento politician.

Sure my chakras are shot, but what the heck since I’m the only one affected by the problem, but the other crazies, well that’s a chakra of a different color.

So before you travel to the Golden State, perhaps a good chakra check would be in order. You don’t want to be floating free in LA. Someone may be filming.

I checked Yelp and there is no category for chakra alignments so it’s hard to know what the ratings would be or where to go for the best deals or service.

When I was young before I was aware that my life was dependent on a rainbow of colors inside, we called people who were a little off, well, a little off actually.

If we’d known they could get a simple realignment it would have explained a great deal about crazy Aunt Esther or unhinged Uncle Max.

But whatever the reason for loose chakras it seems fixing them is far more important than we thought.

So I wish you all an organized rainbow and now I have to go duct tape my chakras to the floor because I’m feeling a bit of rolling here.

 

Apple Cheddar Chicken Soup

 

1 chicken breast

2 apples gala or Fuji or your preference

1 cup carrot chopped

1 cup shredded cheddar

2 cups chicken bouillon

1 cup of heavy cream

1 tablespoon butter

1 chopped carrot for garnish

1 cup bacon for garnish

Salt and pepper

Core and peel apples and sauté in butter with the carrots until soft. Season with salt and pepper and cook chicken until soft, shred and set aside.

Add bouillon to apples and carrots and simmer for ten minutes on low. Add cream and then cheddar and melt in and then taste for salt and pepper. Add shredded chicken and heat all together, on low for three minutes. Do not boil.

Serve with some carrots and bacon on top for garnish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bring on those dirty little Hands—Microfiber is the new plastic cover

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           “Bring on those dirty little Hands—Microfiber is the new plastic cover.”

Anyone of a certain age understands life’s close relationship with enormous irony.

One that I recently discovered was the Grandma Décor Dilemma.

Every mother knows when babies become mobile, a serious redecorating effort occurs.

Glass is replaced with wood or Formica and all tabletop items are wrapped for storage or placed on higher shelves. A great cover up is afoot to save at least a scintilla of worldly goods.

But now we have microfiber.

Ah microfiber! No, not micro greens, the new word for lettuce scraps on your plate. A new miracle fiber that battles chocolate, peanut butter and sandbox residue lurking on adorable, busy little hands.

A new practically indestructible fabric that vaguely resembles suede, resists stains and was definitely designed with Grandmas in mind.

I am smiling just remembering the past when valuables were secured and safely ensconced in high-placed locked boxes more inaccessible than a Kardashian’s IQ.

The more mobile the baby, the greater the makeover. Toddlers reaching for tabletop items can be swift and sure and move like lightening. As is often the case you hear the crash before you see the move. The living room becomes an urban jungle fraught with danger at every turn.

Sure that crystal dish looked innocent enough when Aunt Rosie gave it to you for your wedding shower, but now it is suddenly a sparkly missile crashing toward earth as two innocent little eyes delight in the power they possess to make that “funny” crashing sound.

Minimalist décor became the code word for “oops there are babies in the house, better clear those spaces and prepare for the charge.”

I recall the tumult of more toys than Santa’s workshop covering every inch of floor space, while I daydreamed of house beautiful.

Perusing home magazines with a sad sigh, wishing for a time when I could actually consider a white sofa and glass tables once more.

A place when I could display my crystal and fine pieces openly and free them from their storage prisons.

Lalique, Daum, Waterford would dance across my dreams carrying rainbows of champagne and canapés onto regally appointed tablescapes.

As the years flew by, and as we know they do fly, my children grew to adulthood.

My first post little-ones-on-board home was filled with white sofas, glass tables and matching towels in the guest bathroom. Ah, all those forbidden fruits of décor. What fun!

The years passed in a haze of entertaining with “good” china still bearing the flakes of sawdust from its original shipping container, crystal glasses and silver flatware. I felt like the Queen of England.

Ah, but then the tide turned once more. Suddenly a new arrival signaled the end of all that opulence, splendor and elegance.

“He” had arrived, my first precious grandson. Suddenly it was all about Sesame Street plastic dishes and tippee cups, organic cloths and toys, and green smoothies with unknown ingredients for a healthier lifestyle.

The packing boxes appeared once more. Bubble wrap and bubble bursting filled quiet moments between emptying tables and glass shelves filled with delicate chachkees.

Once again my life was rife with toy-filled corners, empty tabletops and baby stepstools.

My friends and I now discussed how to make room for storage cabinets and redo a bedroom with a toddler theme. New colors and design that were the rage in babyville replaced the latest fashion, new boutique opening, vacation spot or Pilates injury.

Our Iphones overflowed with the latest photos of smiling faces in Halloween pumpkin costumes, petting zoos and hugging grandma pics.

Our car backseats sported baby car seats and books and toys were shoved into seat pockets.

Some friends hired designers to do a special theme. Airplanes, Shimmer and Shine, Paw Patrol and Bubble Guppies were hot. We discussed singing groups like Yo Gabba Gabba recalling how our parents had laughed at our obsession with the Beatles.

Rainbows, unicorns and computers were also on board as décor stalwarts.

A new vibe was apparent at our regular lunches.

Toys, pictures and brilliant baby quotes took center stage and things had definitely changed. It was toddler town now and we were all proud residents reveling in our new roles.

We wore the name grandma as proudly as a woman wears couture and shamelessly bragged while repeating baby stories ad nauseum.

Our computer screen savers were full-size pictures of partially toothed grins that changed with each new development.

It had finally happened—we were grandmas—and our homes had gone from high style to safety zones.

I found a few fun tips for decorating a grandchild’s room I‘d like to share.

 

Since storage is not as crucial, there is more room to be creative with space.

Painted dressers in themes can be made from unfinished furniture cabinets or an old chest found in a resale store. Two or three smaller cabinets can be put together and painted on the front.

Pop-up books opened and attached in a line make great cornices over a blind. Or they also can be used in shadow boxes to hang as pictures.

Garage sales glean an endless assortment of toys to fill a toy box or use as décor.

Fabric stores often offer the latest cartoon or television characters in fabric that can be used to sew on bath towels or sheets for a personalized flair.

Wrapping paper can be a great source for the latest pop art characters.

Cutting cartoon figures out of the paper and hanging them on the wall as a mural or border is an inexpensive and fun way to add your grandchild’s favorites to the décor.

In the end it’s all about making our little darlings feel safe and comfortable at Grandma’s house. And isn’t that what every Grammy wants?

So until the day I can once again pull out the good china and glass nick knacks from their bubble wrapped boxes, I shall be quite content to fill my world with the joys of childhood once more.

 

 

 

 

Asian Chicken Soup

 

4 cups of chicken broth

2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

½ teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup chopped chicken or chicken drumettes

1 cup uncooked shrimp shelled

1 can sliced water chestnuts

1 cup cut up fresh bok choy

½ cup bean sprouts

½ cup mushrooms (optional)

 

Add chicken to broth and cook until tender

Add rest of ingredients except shrimp and cook until veggies are slightly softened

When everything is cooked through add shrimp and cook a few minutes longer until shrimp turns pink and is done.

Serve over crunchy noodles or crunchy fried brown rice and enjoy!

To get crunchy fried rice, place rice in a hot frying pan with oil. Flatten rice so it is in a single layer and fry on one side until crispy then turn and fry other side.

 

 

 

Marking Grammy’s Territory

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I get the whole changing world thing and all, but could someone slow it down enough to tell me where Grandma fits in these days?

When I was young, back in the dark ages it seems, there was a specific role that Grandparents filled and it was exclusive to them.

Grandma cooked your favorite foods, even if she was a lousy cook like my Grandmother. Who cared? To this day I can’t see a bowl of lumpy cream of wheat or greasy hamburger without getting all misty for my grandma.

Grandma told stories, she bought you things your parents would not and most simply grandparents got to look at you like you were a banana split and created the unfortunate misconception that someone someday would look at you that same loving way again. I am still waiting.

You watched the Wednesday night fights with your Grandpa even if you had no idea what they were about and they were bloody and gross. You knew Milton Berle was funny when he dressed up as a woman and tripped all over himself in high heels because you heard your grandparents in hysterics. You knew that they would take you anywhere you wanted to see anything you wanted, because they loved you in a very special otherworldly way.

They attended all recitals and clapped the loudest.

My favorite story about my Grandfather was when I was taking dancing lessons as a child.

Our recital number that year was witch doctors.

My grandfather couldn’t wait to come and see me dance… and talked about it for weeks. I had to show him my steps and he watched while I practiced.

Caveat was that as witch doctors they dressed us in black and painted our faces with glow in the dark paint and feathers on our heads.

When our number began they turned out the lights and all you could see were lights and feathers moving about on stage.

My poor grandfather kept asking my mother, which one is Norma, which one is she? Can you see her?

Poor Grandpa, I so hated to disappoint him.

My grandfather also took my brother Marty and I fishing in the everglades, my grandmother let us keep the catfish we caught in the bathtub until after a day that wore thin. Every day we spent with them was filled with fun and adventures.

Fast forward to today’s grandparent.

Ah, the Baby Boomer generation.

We are busy, active and creating new lives in our golden years.

We have to because our grandchildren don’t need us in the same way anymore.

The unkindest cut of all?

The other day my daughter informed me the Nanny had noticed they all had colds and made chicken soup for the house!

Et Tu Jewish penicillin?

Of course there are some parents who still rely on grandparental help, but it’s all so different now it seems.

Well, why wouldn’t it be when my five-year-old grandson is teaching me how to move forward on the levels of Angry Birds.

Kids today are better-fed, no greasy chicken schmaltz for them, they have Nannies, they eat gluten free and vegan and did you know dairy is evil? I didn’t until my daughter told me. After all those Howard Johnson’s ice cream cones I ate as a kid it’s a wonder I’m still here.

Meat is very minimal and organic, cold pressed juices are a staple and no don’t ask me the difference between cold pressed and hot, and organic and free range is the goal of all food products.

For someone who was still eating gribenes (chicken fat and skins with onions cooked until crunchy) up to five years ago, what do I know?

So what can we contribute to our grandchildren’s lives?

Shopping?

My daughter buys organic clothing.

Toys? Do not spoil is the watchword today.

Television? Sorry, highly limited.

And to their credit field trips to the zoo, apple picking, concerts and theater are reserved for parents.

So for Grandma and Grandpa what is left?

Well, I read stories, play games, draw pictures and watch Paw Patrol and the list of approved programming. I have played Bugopoly (the kids version of Monopoly) until my own eyes bugged out.

Grandma must delve deep into her inner child to create fun and exciting adventures.

We take walks, check out trees and flowers and I actually help my grandson collect bugs.

UGH!

The only buggy experience I shared with my children was when they called me in their rooms to get rid of one.

I have learned you will do things for and with your grandchildren never dreamed of in your imagination, Horatio.

No matter how things change there will always be one thing that doesn’t.

The banana split look on every grandparent’s face when they look at their grandchildren will survive the generations. The love between the two, no matter what activities come before, will never diminish.

And this is what we must put our faith in. That while playing golf, starting new businesses and traveling the world, there is still our anchor on the other side of the Face time on your phone even when you are five thousand miles away visiting far away regions and river cruising.

I wouldn’t trade one “hi grandma” for a million tours of the Taj Mahal or visits to the Tuscan countryside.

All points point to those little faces that light up when they see you, and that no matter the times, places or circumstances, will never change!

Greek Noodle Pudding

2 cups of egg noodles

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup feta cheese

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup mozzarella cheese shredded

6 large eggs

1 cup of onion sautéed

¼ cup of chopped pitted Greek olives if desired. This is optional for those who like olives.

2 tablespoons of melted butter

1 teaspoon of Greek seasoning

Salt to taste

 

Boil noodles, drain and set aside

Sauté onion until translucent

Beat eggs and add seasoning

Add cheeses, melted butter, olives and onions to eggs

Fold in noodles and pour mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish

Place in preheated 350-degree oven and bake for one hour or until set.

Serve with lamb for a real flavor of Greece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frumpy to Fabulous— Just Get Your Brim On

cabbagecasserole

Okay so you are having a bad hair day. But your make up is stellar. Your chins aren’t sagging as much as usual and that new cream is definitely helping your forehead lines. Your bloat is minimal and your confidence level is actually climbing above the tenth floor with a bullet.

And then suddenly, there it is; that horrible frizzy, root-tint needing, yucky haircut aggravation covering the top of your head.

Oy! If you look below your hairline you are fabulous, but lift those eyes and they want to roll back in your head.

The ultimate frumpy do. It screams bad hair day with a marching band in tow. What to do?

Okay, so I spent many years of my life pondering this quandary and settled for leaving the house with C- hair and an A made-up face.

Years ago I read a wonderful column by the late writer Erma Bombeck. She said every woman reaches a time in her life called the purple hat stage. It quite simply said that at some point it’s no longer worth the grief and to simply throw on a purple hat and greet the world with a smile.

I have now reached that time. I have far too little moments left in my lifetime bank account to spend it fighting with my hair.

However, I will not go gently or stylishly lacking into that purple hat stage of my life.

So I have begun to fill my closet with a cadre of fabulous hats.

Straws, wools, cloches, fedoras, but no berets or knit caps, not a flattering look on me.

I find most of them on sale and scout the better department stores to wait for sales until I pull out my credit card. After all it’s not like you need a hat immediately like a defibrillator.

Hats have changed my life.

I went from frumpy to fabulous, by plopping a fedora over my unmanageable locks.

No matter how horrible my do, I do not have to worry.

I simply don a hat and suddenly I am Greta Garbo, mysterious and intriguing and set apart from the crowd.

I am quite simply a woman of mystery. This is only because I live in America, in England not so much. They all wear them there.

The strange thing is that most women do look really good in a hat. I think it’s the way you wear it also that creates an aura.

A slight tip to one side adds some pizzazz. Lower on your forehead adds to the mystery. With a pair of sunglasses, the paparazzi will be chasing you down Beverly Hills streets.

I am not here to sell you hats of course. I just can’t believe what a difference they’ve made in my day.

You feel confident, unusual and glamorous and all without changing a thing about yourself.

I realize younger women with glorious, glowing locks have no need to cover even one hair, but at a certain age a woman’s hair thins and changes texture, and dare I say it, turns gray.

With my new hats roots are no longer a problem. Less time with goopy gobs of color on my head and more time to shop and meet friends, write, spend quality time with my grandsons and do charity work.

Hats not only enhance your looks, they add time to your life that is priceless.

Looking great is just a perk and one I’ll gladly embrace.

The real beauty of wearing a hat is that it allows you to be whomever you choose to be. Hats come in so many styles and colors you can change your mood with your head covering.

Shall I wear a wide brimmed model and be an international spy? Or perhaps a French cloche with a Coco Chanel vibe?

Or am I in the mood for a beachy, huge sunhat that protects me from any stray UV ray looking for a place to land?

I can wear a fur headband and look like I just left the slopes in Gstaad or a fun fascinator and look like I am headed for the Savoy for high tea.

Hats can take you from frumpy to fabulous in a matter of minutes. However, there is a caveat. You must commit to a hat for if you plan to take it off at any point in the day or evening, you’ll need a plan B. Hair will not be improved by the wearing.

But that’s even easy. Just pop it back on and you are fabulous again. So go hat shopping and find the particular style that enhances your features and creates the mood you are seeking.

Be all you can be and more and face the world with your brim on.

Easy Cabbage Casserole

1 head of cabbage

1 large bottle of tomato juice

1 can of tomato puree

1 cup of brown sugar

1 tsp sour salt

1 pound of ground beef

1 small onion

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

½ tsp onion powder

3 cups of rice cooked

 

Wash and cut up cabbage and set aside.

Sauté onion in a tablespoon of oil until soft.

Add salt and pepper and one cup of cooked rice to raw beef and set aside.

Mix together tomato juice and puree. Add brown sugar and sour salt. Taste to ensure you have the sweet and sour taste you like. If taste needs adjusting add more sugar or sour salt until you are happy with flavor.

Spray deep casserole dish and place a layer of puree mix on bottom. Add a layer of cabbage and then ground beef layer and then top with puree. Continue until puree is covering top of casserole.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 for an hour or until cabbage and beef are cooked.

Serve with rice and Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comedians Do God’s Work

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A quick yuk…My old aunts would come and tease me at weddings, “Well Sarah? Do you think you’ll be next?”
This ended quickly once I started doing the same to them at funerals.

Doctors get a lot of hype and of course they eat it up. Jokes about doctors confusing themselves with God are mythic, but I have another top nominee in the category for doing God’s work, Comedians.

Seriously you say? Comics? Aren’t they screwed up, self-destructive psychos prone to drugs and childish behavior?

Okay, true, there is that, but let me make my case here.

First not all comics are like that.

Sure some are, but even the ones who are may be the ones that spread the most laughter and do the most good.

Case in point, Sam Kinison.

Drugs, craziness and rock n roll, no one is arguing that point. But anyone who knew Sam saw a pussycat of a person. His loud screaming persona was an act to cover the pain.

So that’s my point. Many who are suffering and in pain turn to negative behavior to act out. Comics spread laughter and cheer. Hashtag: spreading joy.

Any comic that ever stood on a stage understands the feeling of holding an audience in the palm of their hand and the satisfaction that comes with a joke that works and a set that kills. Does it ease the pain or change the past or fill the hole inside? Perhaps or not, but for a moment the universe is engulfed in robust earsplitting laughter.

Each guffaw carries through the air and reaches corners and caverns once dark and dank. Hearts and minds are opened and the world lights up with a bright, happy vibe.

One of my fondest memories of doing stand-up comedy was a night at Catch a Rising Star at the MGM Grand. After the show a women came up to me and hugged me. She said, “Thank you so much. I had the most horrible day today and you made me laugh so hard. I really appreciated the laughs.” What can you say after that?

Most comics I know are the happiest after a great set. They thrive on the laughter and love hearing an audience rocking and rolling while listening to their words. One of the best feelings ever.

I believe one of the greatest gifts a person can possess is a sense of humor. It should be obvious to most that despots and evildoers have no sense of humor, to them funny is murdering, hating and spreading fear. Jolly is not in their vocabulary.

Why does everyone love Santa Claus? Okay, aside from the goodies he delivers, it is so much more. Santa is a red-cheeked jolly old guy who laughs and his belly shakes.

This is the picture he evokes in people’s minds and it is why he brings smiles.

Laughter equals happy. People who are laughing together can’t be arguing, fighting and beating one another up. They can’t be planning evil deeds while they are doubled over with deep belly laughs.

It’s actually quite simple; we need more laughs, more fun and more positive vibes spreading across the planet.

Comedians do their part to create this cosmic flow of laughter and for that they should be cheered, praised and appreciated.

As Mark Twain once said, “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” When we have the greatest ammunition against pain and hurt available for free, we should be laughing all day long.

In an effort to spread more smiles here is my recipe for yummy Waldorf cake or quick bread.

 Waldorf Salad Quick Bread

2 Cups All-Purpose Flour

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

1 Cup Walnuts

2 Cups Cooking Apples

1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, softened

1/2 Cup White Sugar

1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

2 Eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 Cup half and half

Mix together flour, salt, baking powder and salt and set aside. Cream together sugars and butter and add eggs. Continue mixing until incorporated. Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with half and half finishing with flour. Do not over mix. Add apples and walnuts and mix gently. Pour into loaf pan or small Bundt pan well greased and bake at 350 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cover with topping before serving.

Topping

1 Cup mayo

1 Cup sour cream

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 Cup chopped celery

1 Cup chopped grapes

 

 

 

 

I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts, Now Robots…

mexicorn chowder

I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts! Now Robots…

 

Last night I had a nightmare. No not about monsters or a werewolf that looked remarkably like Michael Landon. It wasn’t even about my last blind date, strange as that may seem.

It was about Google.

And what’s so scary about Google you ask.

It’s watching us. It’s Big Brother come to life. It’s George Orwell’s worst nightmare and now it’s ours.

In my dream I was hiding inside my house while a little Google robot that was mainly eyes was floating outside my windows peering inside. I was crawling on the floor to escape detection but it hovered outside my windows and every time I looked up it was there. I would scream and duck and it continued to float like a headless object outside watching me like a secret service agent watches the crowds.

Grow up you say. It was only a silly dream. But was it really?

In case you’re wondering what brought on this sudden burst of irrational Googlenoia, it started with Siri.

Oh sure innocent enough except that my Siri, which is only supposed to talk when spoken to…I have an older Iphone…has begun taking it upon herself to start a conversation for no apparent reason or prompting on my part. Yet when I ask her a question directly she acts as though I’m speaking a language she’s never even heard of?

“Siri how do I get to 335 Maple Drive?”

“Here are the directions for 772 Elm Street.”

I first noticed her new chatty habit when I was baking one day and pulled a cake out of the oven. “Perfect,” I said to no one in particular.

From the living room I heard a voice say, “thank you for saying that, but I’m not perfect.”

Not only does she speak to me she contradicts me! Is she so neurotic she can’t take a compliment?

“No, I’m not perfect!!”

What’s next, a tirade against her motherboard for her dysfunctional childhood?

Siri’s problems aside I thought it a fluke of nature and found it rather funny. So much so I related the incident to my daughter at her home a few weeks later.

Siri was charging on the kitchen counter and I was telling my daughter about the incident while she looked at me like a child who is thinking she should start looking for a good nursing home for her mother when suddenly Siri decided to join the conversation.

My daughter looked over and said. Oh my gosh, that is so annoying.

Well yes, but at least Siri’s response will keep me on the streets and out of a nursing home a little longer.

“See,” I said. “It’s true she talks to me all the time now.”

My daughter just shook her head in that only-to-my-mother-does-this-happen way she has and I just went back to playing with my grandsons.

Who Siri went on to talk to next I have no idea, nor do I care.

Now it has become a regular thing. When the TV is on Siri will comment on something spoken.

I just agree and move on.

Shortly thereafter my daughter bought one of those Google robots for the home and that lasted less than a week before it went bye bye.

Annoying? Yes, but then why scary?

Because they are listening all the time!

The FBI recommends you put tape over your computer camera screen opening because someone could be watching you.

Well that’s their bad luck because when I’m on the computer I’m usually in my robe and glasses and looking like the wrath of God.

If they are expecting to see Cindy Crawford good luck Mr. Snoopy, not here, not today.

Today’s generation is acclimated to a lack of privacy. They grow up with Iphones, computers and robots in their homes.

I wasn’t. My robot model was Hal in 2001 and that’s not a good thing.

And although the Jetsons painted a rosy future of a robot named Rosy to clean up after us, the world never delivered.

Oh sure Isaac Asimov would have us believe that the three laws of robots precluded them from harming man, but hello! STUFF HAPPENS.

The feeling someone is listening to what I say, hovering above me—welcome to the world of drones on top of everything else literally—and watching what I do, to me is offensive and frightening.

Now I have to worry that drones will be falling from the sky unto my head. Where’s Chicken Little when you need him?

Of course it’s not that I’m plotting to rob the Tower of London or sneak into the subway, it’s that it makes me feel violated and uncomfortable. It’s just plain creepy.

I can’t change overnight just because the new world is so accepting of Big Brother’s presence.

From what I can remember he wasn’t a good thing, right?

So, why is it now so okay to spy on people and collect all my information, personal and otherwise and make it public?

It isn’t, and that’s the point.

Perhaps we are too accepting now. We should rail against this new world where our lives are open for business 24/7 and there is no respect for our private space.

I fear it’s too late now. My computer just winked at me and Siri stuck out her tongue. I suppose I’ll have to accept that next an army of robots will descend upon us, capture us all and make us their slaves.

I think they already have and no one knows yet.

Well I don’t care, I’m not putting on lipstick to sit on my computer so take your chances.

Okay so I ain’t afraid of no ghosts, but robots well that’s a whole other thing.

 

Mexi-Corn Chowder

 

2 cups of chicken bullion

2 cups cream

2 ears of corn roasted

½ cup red peppers

½ cup yellow peppers

½ cup red peppers

¼ cup green chilies

1 small onion chopped

¼ cup chopped jalapeno peppers without the seeds

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon cilantro

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes if you desire more heat.

 

 

Rub about two large ears of corn with butter and a sprinkle of salt. Remove kernels from the cob and set aside.

Sauté onion in butter and when translucent add chopped peppers, chilies, corn and seasonings. When softened add soup and sauté for another ten minutes. Using a hand blender blend together about half the soup. This will thicken it and when done add cream. Stir and simmer for another five minutes on low heat.

Serve with shredded cheese or popcorn on top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Bug Grammy!

pasta salad slaw

Don’t Bug Grammy

I hate bugs. Seeing a bug crawling thorough my house makes my skin crawl. First response is immediately to step on it, swat or drown it. If that sounds horrible to those who believe it’s wrong to kill a bug or a spider perhaps they have never awoken from their sleep with a giant spider bite on their face.

I come by this revulsion honestly, after watching The Incredible Shrinking Man as a kid and watching him narrowly escape that giant spider, yuck, I still shiver at the scene.

I totally accept the fact when I am outdoors, bugs rule. It is after all their domain and they are entitled to live and be free, as long as they stay far away from me.

However, in my house, it is a different story. They are unwelcome visitors and as such, well guess I’m calling the shots, huh?

My children never paid much attention to the bug world. My daughter’s reaction was to call out for help when she spotted one in the house.            My son never cared one way or another if they hung around.

And now comes justice.

I feel it may be some karmic reaction to my heavy foot on the anti-spider colonies that has created this newfound world I suddenly find myself within.

My grandson has an inordinate love of bugs.

Yes, that’s correct.

Grandma now plays games about bugs; Bugopoly and Don’t Bug Me are the favs.

Games are fine, it is when he calls me over to see his pet beetle ensconced in its own cage, I balk a bit.

Oh, sure I know I cannot demonstrate my ichiness at seeing these creepy crawlies, so I feign approval and admiration for his “pets.” I have even found myself on my hands and knees helping him catch them outdoors to take home and nourish.

How can this be? I wonder as I am on my hands and knees on the sidewalk using a leaf to catch a bug for his jar.

Who is this person, this grandmother who despite, arthritis, and a disdain for bugginess is now partner to the catching and admiration of bugs?

Oh, of course I have heard that a grandparent will go to any lengths to make their grandchildren happy, that their love is limitless and no task too formidable for them to undertake, but bugs, really? Seriously?

“Oh look Grammy, it’s a black widow spider.”

Instead of grabbing a shoe, I nod my head and compliment him on his ability to discern one from another. No worry then my daughter steps in and steps on the nasty little bugger.

Meanwhile I’m thinking, this damn thing is a killer spider and what if it bites someone?

I once tried to swat a fly buzzing around the kitchen table and he started to cry. So now I merely track its whereabouts and well, if it dare get too close while my grandson is out of the room…

Before you judge me too harshly, I must in my defense say I have come a long way. I admire his lizard pet and even coochy coochy it as it scurries around its cage.

I try not to gag when it is being fed its dinner of live bugs and remark on how cute it is.

Yet, when I am home alone and I see the shadow of a creepy fuzzy spider crawling up my bedroom wall, coochy coo be damned.

I have awakened too many mornings with spider bites from a sneaky monster that attacked me defenseless in the night.

Coochy coo, I think not.

Still, if it makes my grandson happy when I fawn over the little creepy crawlies, than fawn it shall be.

As long as they remain like the Czar in Fiddler on the Roof, I say may bugs live and be well, far away from me.

       Shrimp Crab Meat Pasta Slaw

1 package Shredded cabbage (may use the pre-shredded packages in grocery store)

2 cups Rotini pasta cooked (colored or plain, but I use the colored)

2 cups cooked cut in half Shrimp

2 cups either real or fake crab meat

Salt and pepper

Add all together and toss with mayo dressing

 

Frieda’s Mayonnaise dressing

1 cup of mayo

2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 heaping tablespoon of sugar (artificial sweeteners may be used here instead, but will have to be sweetened to your particular tastes)

Mix together all and toss into slaw mixture. If you like it with more dressing just double the recipe.

Add soup or fruit or both and it’s a great meal.

 

 

 

 

 

Lady Justice, Ho Ho Ho And a Hallmark Movie

lazy latkes

The theory goes justice is blind. I myself have always suspected she merely looked the other way if she found someone attractive. However my opinions aside, justice seems to have left the building in this new reality we are all living.
Yes, blind she was, but now she seems to be conspicuously absent from life on a regular basis.
So what’s a girl to do who is hanging onto the last shred of idealism like a cheating dieter holds on to the last Krispy Krème donut?
I am grasping at straws to believe that there is some justice left on the planet and fighting desperately to fend off cynicism like a tiger protecting its cub.
Enter Christmas movies. Hallmark especially. My heart takes flight as I watch knowing and waiting for the evil landlord that is evicting the whole town at Christmas to get his just desserts in the end. I revel in the knowledge he or she’s gonna get theirs, the town will be saved and the two lovers that broke up fifteen minutes before the end of the movie will reconcile, TV kiss and make up.
And although these movies always stretch credulity to the limits of what any intelligent person could endure, knowing justice will prevail no matter how far over the top they take the plot points, keeps me happy.
Although lately there doesn’t seem to be any retribution doled out to the perpetrators in these movies of evil deeds so I’m only half content in the end. The thought these scrooges never received visits from the three spirits is hard to resolve. But I am pragmatic and at this point I’ll take what I can get.
Besides I am certain that the spirit of Christmas will endure.
Kind of sad you’re thinking that one must wait for Christmas to believe there is still justice left on earth, but I say what better time.
After all isn’t Christmas the time when there is peace on earth and goodwill toward men?
When for one day the lion lies down with the lamb and all is well?
According to Snopes and of course we all know if Snopes says it’s true we can believe them, the following event occurred in 1914.
“During World War I, in the winter of 1914, on the battlefields of Flanders, one of the most unusual events in all of human history took place. The Germans had been in a fierce battle with the British and French. Both sides were dug in, safe in muddy, man-made trenches six to eight feet deep that seemed to stretch forever.
All of a sudden, German troops began to put small Christmas trees, lit with candles, outside of their trenches. Then, they began to sing songs. Across the way, in the “no man’s land” between them, came songs from the British and French troops. Incredibly, many of the Germans, who had worked in England before the war, were able to speak good enough English to propose a “Christmas” truce.
The British and French troops, all along the miles of trenches, accepted. In a few places, allied troops fired at the Germans as they climbed out of their trenches. But the Germans were persistent and Christmas would be celebrated even under the threat of impending death.
According to Stanley Weintraub, who wrote about this event in his book, Silent Night, “signboards arose up and down the trenches in a variety of shapes. They were usually in English, or – from the Germans – in fractured English. Rightly, the Germans assumed that the other side could not read traditional gothic lettering, and that few English understood spoken German. ‘YOU NO FIGHT, WE NO FIGHT’ was the most frequently employed German message. Some British units improvised ‘MERRY CHRISTMAS’ banners and waited for a response. More placards on both sides popped up.”
A spontaneous truce resulted. Soldiers left their trenches, meeting in the middle to shake hands. The first order of business was to bury the dead who had been previously unreachable because of the conflict.
Then, they exchanged gifts, chocolate cake, cognac, postcards, newspapers, tobacco. In a few places, along the trenches, soldiers exchanged rifles for soccer balls and began to play games.
It didn’t last forever. In fact, some of the generals didn’t like it at all and commanded their troops to resume shooting at each other. After all, they were in a war. Soldiers eventually did resume shooting at each other. But only after, in a number of cases, a few days of wasting rounds of ammunition shooting at stars in the sky instead of soldiers in the opposing army across the field.
For a few precious moments there was peace on earth good will toward men. All because the focus was on Christmas. Happens every time. There’s something about Christmas that changes people. It happened over 2000 years ago in a little town called Bethlehem. It’s been happening over and over again down through the years of time.”
I’m tearing up here. So I am a believer in the whole Christmas miracle theory and being Jewish does not dissuade me a bit.
I am well aware that watching or reading the news it becomes more and more difficult to believe in miracles or even good anymore.
It seems every year we must fight harder to find those small miracles we think of as great human-interest stories we sometimes hear at Christmas or on a news channel not afraid to report actual good news.
Thus I am a firm believer we must make our own miracles and take our joy where we can get it every day.
Christmas movies are one way I can stave off the negativity that surrounds our everyday lives.
For those who say be grateful, think positive, look at the glass half full or as Eric Idle sang as he hung from a cross in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, “always look on the bright side of life.”
I take that very seriously, well sort of, and I do seek out special things to remind me that although the news is grim, I am responsible for my own happy mood.
So what can I do besides Hallmark movies?
I turn to the classics and prefer the real hard-core tearjerkers.
Who couldn’t feel great after an hour of sobbing your heart out after watching It’s a Wonderful Life or cheering at the television when Santa Claus wins his court case in Miracle on 34th Street? (Hey if Macy and Gimble can get along so can China and the US.
For big laughs I tune into Ralphie and his father’s stocking covered leg lamp in The Christmas Story and to round out the sob fest the original Christmas Carol. Then I fall on the floor in convulsive sobs before Tiny Tim even finishes his sentence, “God Bless us one and all.” Just a minute I need a Kleenex.
When some complain that Christmas has no place in our American society and Christmas decorations shouldn’t be allowed, I cringe. I am Jewish, but I cannot condone removing something that so brightens the world for shoppers and those enjoying the season.
So what is the season? Religion aside it’s a special energy that only happens once a year.
Malls and cities are filled with those who are focused on the happiness of others.
Toys are collected for children in need, soup kitchens prepare holiday dinners for those who don’t have the means to enjoy the luxury of a good meal, or perhaps any meal, children are filled with joy and excitement dreaming of what they are receiving from Santa and every religion is celebrating the season as well.
Usually Christmas and Chanukah fall around the same time each year so if you add the smell of latkes frying,  briskets cooking and dreydels spinning while chocolate coins are won and lost, it adds to the happy spirit of the season.
The holidays are a time of year when people forget their problems, focus on happy times with family and friends and celebrate. If decorations add to that by reminding the world of the festivities at hand, I say Right on Santa!
There is too much sadness nowadays, but there can never be too much happiness, justice or caring about others.
If watching a Christmas movie or seeing a twinkling Christmas tree in a mall or taking the kids to see Santa can bring more joy it is a good thing. And good things are well just that…good.
Could These Be Any Easier Lazy Latkes?
1 pkg of Simply Potatoes hash browns (Usually found in the section with the eggs or cheeses.)
3 eggs
1 small or half of a large onion chopped and sauté until limp but not browned in a tablespoon of butter
1/4 cup of flour
1½ teaspoons salt you may add more if you like saltier flavor
1 teaspoon of pepper
Oil for frying I prefer canola because it adds no taste
Sauté onions
Lightly beat eggs and add salt and pepper to eggs
Add eggs and onions to potatoes
Use an immersion blender to mix until the desired consistency
I prefer them smooth but with a light sprinkling of potato pieces here and there.
Add to hot oil that is at least 350 degrees.
Fry until edges crisp up and then turn
They should be lightly golden brown on both sides.
Drain on paper towel
I serve them on a platter with sour cream on one side and applesauce on the other.
I also add chopped eggs and caviar if they are for company or bite size.

 

 

 

 

Dieting Becomes Her: And by Her I Mean Grandma

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         Dieting Becomes Her (And By Her I Mean Grandma)

 

Dieting comes as natural to most grandmothers as lying comes to a politician.

I find a small bit of comfort in attempting to discern which of the old wives tales contain a small scintilla of truth, not only for the obvious reasons, but to pass them on to future generations.

Many believe that if you eat standing up, the calories automatically drop to your feet and at worst your size sevens will become a half size larger. Okay, I concur there is a bit of sense in this, gravity and all that. But, try as I may, I can’t get it to work for me. Sure my feet get fatter, but so does everything else. There is definitely something wrong at the very core of this theory.

Eating while standing serves no purpose other than to get less exercise by foregoing pulling out a chair that must work off a few calories. It is also more labor intensive to walk an entire cake to the table than to rationalize standing and eating said cake over the sink. Eating upright leads to the evening off process, leading to the shoveling of more bites into the mouth process, which ultimately leads to the you’re a fat pig result.

I shall explain.

You grab a cake or pie out of the fridge. You must be somewhere in twenty minutes, so you say to yourself, “I have no time to eat. I’m in a hurry! I’ll just grab a piece of this and run. I’m so busy I’ll work these calories off in no time.” (Let me know if any of this sounds familiar).

There is something very strange about eating cake or pie with a fork sans knife. It is difficult to cut perfect pieces. The grooves of the tines seem to stay in the food like fingerprints on a victim’s neck. Screaming SHE ATE CAKE! SHE ATE CAKE! OINK!!!!

My overactive imagination? I think not. Otherwise, why would everyone go to such great lengths evening off the piece they ate. Making certain to cover the fork marks and make the edge smooth to the eye. This eliminates any evidence and usually very little cake or pie for the next person. By the time you cover your tracks, one of two things has happened. Either you’ve eaten an extra five hundred or a thousand calories during the evening off process or there’s so little cake left you’re forced to finish the evidence and tell everyone you had to throw it away because it got moldy or the cat walked across it.

Oh sure the story would stand up in court because who could prove otherwise? Except on the scale and when you are bulging out of your pantyhose. So, if you think I’m telling you not to eat standing up, no way. I know you will, but I guess it’s okay if you’re eating while running around the block three times or jogging cross country or, oh for goodness sake if you’re a jogger, we wouldn’t be having this conversation in the first place!

Of course there are also those who claim eating food from someone else’s plate is best since the calories stay with the initial owner of the food and do not transfer to the interloper. I have yet to prove this theory, but will continue to probe further until satisfied if it be truth or legend.

To add a positive spin to my diatribe, I must admit as we age our appetites do decrease. Ergo the sharing of the sandwich when out to lunch in lieu of a whole one, smaller portions and filling up more quickly. I suppose one must find comfort in this revelation although the fact our metabolism seems to move in a turtle-like fashion must offset this happy occurrence.

I am not one to judge since my metabolism and I have been at odds for years and it is the Rip Van Winkle of the metabolism world.

Or as my friend Yolanda so often points out, she now has the metabolism of a corpse.

So I shall continue to downward dog and Tai Chi my way into some semblance of fitness hoping against hope that my Grammy pants remain loose and I can keep up with my grandsons. This of course is the best form of exercise and I embrace it fully.

 

 

 

Chicken Paprikash Soup

4 large Chicken thighs

1 onion

2 cans chicken broth

2 heaping tablespoons Hungarian paprika (more may be added if your tastes run to spicy)

Salt and pepper

Flour for dusting

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or ½ teaspoon hot sauce

½ cup each of sour cream and half and half

½ cup crumbled crispy bacon for topping (optional)

Season and dust chicken thighs

Sauté chicken in butter and oil mixture (Easy on the fat is okay)

Add chopped onion and sauté until translucent and soft

When chicken is browned drain excess fat and add chicken broth to deglaze the pan

Add paprika and cook until incorporated

Add salt, pepper and cayenne or hot sauce to taste

Temper sour cream until room temperature and begin to slowly add to broth and chicken. When creamy, add half and half.

Finish warming and serve with a dollop of sour cream or crème fraiche or crumbled bacon pieces. Chicken may be served on the side or shredded into the soup and spaetzle may also be added to soup before serving.

 

Cooking to a Soundtrack

breakfast biscuits

I don’t understand how anyone can cook without a soundtrack. After all, the process of creating a recipe can be a sacred moment of art and discovery. Does this not warrant background music as powerful as when Charlton Heston raised his hands and parted the Jell-O?

There is no doubt in my mind that I am far more creative in the kitchen when inspired by a great soundtrack.

How can someone bake holiday cookies without the strains of Nat King Cole’s Christmas Song filling the air, or Chanukah latkes without Adam Sandler’s Chanukah Song or Dreydel Dreydel Dreydel wafting above? Is it possible to bring forth into the world an elegant masterpiece like that soulful soufflé without the strains of Bach or Beethoven?

And who would even attempt a perfect pot roast without the sound of Motown in the background. Not me; that’s the sure!

It isn’t just about setting the mood it’s also about generating a cooking energy. Bopping to the beat lifts and inspires one to greater heights and gets those endorphins geared up.

In the end we all need inspiration and where we acquire it is personal I guess.

Yet, music and food just seem to fit so well. When there is music playing it fills the air with the sounds of another’s genius. This makes me want to be a part of that creative process.

Oh, I know you’re thinking, “Seriously Norma, Bach and a soufflé, can you honestly equate them?” Or even use them in the same sentence actually?

To that I would answer a resounding yes.

Cooking is a form of art after all. How gratified to know your art inspires.

Why I’ll bet Bach’s mother cooked his favorite guinea hen to the melodic strains of the Brandenburg Concertos filling her home. Perhaps it even sped up the process a bit for both of them.

The great thing about cooking is that it is one art form you can eat afterward.

Da Vinci may be a feast for the eyes, but Wolfgang Puck’s lox and cream cheese pizza, need I say more?

Watching a Mel Brooks film delivers great laughter, a crucial component of our existence, but damn a perfect lasagna now that’s art, too. Perhaps a chorus of Springtime for Hitler as we batter our schnitzel?

Or the wonderful and happy sounds of Sammy Davis Jr. singing  The Candy Man while dipping strawberries in chocolate?

I’m just saying that when we create we are usually alone with our Muse, so why not add a divine element to the process by enhancing it with music?

Can you actually make homemade pizza without listening to  Dean Martin and the strains of That’s Amour?

The great Edvard Hagerup Grieg, Norwegian composer once said, “I am sure my music has a taste of codfish in it.” Possibly because his wife or mother cooked codfish as he composed. I’d bet on it.

Obviously I am not the first to see the relationship here.

For me cooking is a major part of the holiday season and enhancing that festive spirit or any day spirit only makes things even better.

So next time you’re even making a peanut butter and banana sandwich prepare it to the sounds of Elvis wailing Jailhouse Rock and see how much better it tastes.

 

Breakfast Biscuit Sandwiches

1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

4 pieces of crispy cooked bacon

Eggs

Salt and pepper

Bisquick mix

1 tablespoon chopped chives or scallions (optional)

 

Make the recipe for drop biscuits on the Bisquick box. I usually double it.

After mixing together add bacon, cheese and scallion or chives.

Form them approximately the size of a baseball

Bake.

When done, fry or scramble an egg

Cut sandwich open and add egg in middle.

I have also added a tomato or cucumber.

It works great for a simple breakfast, or to go. Also a delicious option for brunch.

 

 

People Who Stay in Our Hearts

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I wished a friend happy birthday on Facebook today. I haven’t seen him in eight years. We spoke a few months ago about getting together and I imagine we will sometime in the near future, and I truly look forward to seeing him again.

So begs the question, if you haven’t seen him eight years, why do you love or care about him?

At the risk of sounding like a dunce I will answer, I haven’t a clue why I do, but I know that I will always love and care about him because some people enter our hearts and never leave. They may leave us physically, but they simply become a part of our emotional DNA.

Of course those who know me will conclude I have a few theories about this phenom and I do.

First and foremost I believe it’s those people with whom we form an instant connection that seem to attach themselves the strongest. No one can deny they have met friends and instantly felt a strong gravitational pull toward that person. It’s as if a button has been pushed inside of us and a switch turns on and never turns off again. We may be friends and maintain a friendship that plays out on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, or one that takes us far away from one another and yet remains strong and connected. I must admit I don’t know why these attachments form, but they grow like moss on the side of a tree and the sunshine and rain keeps them viable.

This friend I mentioned is very special to me. He came into my life at a time when I was in the midst of pursuing a favorite dream. I was open and engaged in the world in which he lived and becoming a part of that world as well. But it wasn’t simply the commonality of our paths at that moment in time, it was the joy he brought along.

My son formed a great attachment to him and he responded eagerly as well. He made us both laugh, at times his conversations with my eight-year-old made me cringe, but my son absorbed his off-color humor and language as a lesson in what not to say, so I am grateful.

Whenever we were around him we laughed, we felt joyous and that feeling never changed or ended. The funny thing about my friend is he considers himself incredibly negative and outspoken and his humor reflects those qualities in spades. He is as politically incorrect as one can be, and yet he has no idea the joy he brings into other people’s lives, especially those who see through his gruff exterior, and know the caring and loving individual that lies beneath and beats with a heart of gold.

As most will attest to some people have a way of crawling inside our hearts and never leaving. But why? Many times they do leave, at least physically yet the feelings you harbor for them remain intact. It’s a fact there are those we may not have seen for years and when they call or we see them it’s as though no time at all has passed.

I believe it’s because they become a part of your happy place. Yes there is such a place in us all so don’t make fun of my phrasing.

We all treasure certain moments in our lives when we felt highly charged, happy, fulfilled and at peace with the universe. It may be a special time in our work, family or love life, and those who enter that happy place with us just seem to stay there. Even when the moment has passed, our feelings for that person have not. Seeing them again evokes feelings long buried inside or at times forgotten.

There are also those who have fallen down in life. I have such a friend as well. When he was on top he helped so many people, including my daughter and I. When he fell on hard times as the cliché goes, “ nobody knows you when you’re down and out…”

I try to keep in touch and in my thoughts. It breaks my heart to see how those who owe him so much have forgotten him. When someone has been good to us they deserve a place in our hearts and our minds.

Despite distance we care about these people and want the best for them.

We are happy when we hear they are rising and we cry with them when they suffer sorrow. Our souls are intertwined.

Surprisingly, at times one person may feel much more strongly toward the other, but that is because the reason for your feelings are just simply embedded in more emotional bedrock.

Of course there is also a chance, if you believe in it, that the feelings may stem from a past life. Yes many discount the notion of past lives, but for those who believe, the explanation is viable.

No one I know haven’t experienced that unusual feeling of walking into a room, seeing a total stranger and yet despite never knowing them, you pick up a very strong vibe. Either you want to get closer to them or something is telling you to get the hell away.

Why is that and how can you possibly want to run from someone you have never met and know nothing about? You have never heard them utter a word and yet you feel that if you did you would hate whatever they say immediately.

Kind of weird, huh?

And yet it happens all the time. Why these vibrations are picked up from other human beings I have no idea.

I just know that there are people in my life that I feel close to whether or not I am. When we are together it feels safe and warm and right, and because it does, you want to keep returning to that person and never let go of the feelings they bring with them.

It seems to be the kind of shared experience we can now more easily embrace thanks to social media like Facebook or Instagram where we can keep track of friends so much more easily.

Yes, I know there are parts of this new craze that are problematic like loss of privacy and too many other things to mention, but it does allow us to remain in closer contact with those with whom we have formed bonds and friendships we choose to keep close to our hearts. Perhaps there is one of those special people you want to call today. There’s no time like the present to give yourself a present.

Pumpkin Blueberry Mousse

With Pumpkin Candy Crunch Topping

1 cup pumpkin

1 cup fresh blueberries

7 ounces of cream cheese

1 ½ cups whipped cream

1 cup powdered sugar

1/8/ tsp cloves

1/8 tsp ginger

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

Mix sugar and cream cheese until whipped nicely.

Add pumpkin and seasonings

Mix well. Set aside and whip cream until peaked.

Fold all but 1½ into pumpkin mixture. Set aside rest of whipped cream for topping.

Fold in blueberries and pour into parfait glasses or martini glasses. Top with whipped cream. If you don’t want berries you can leave them out.

Place in fridge to set.

Pumpkin Seed Candy Crunch

Place two tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar in non-stick frying pan.

When melted and combined add ½ cup of pumpkin seeds (Not roasted or salted)

Sauté on low heat (watch carefully so they don’t burn) for about five minutes until seeds are nicely coated.

Remove from burner and place in fridge to harden.

When set and butter is hardened remove crunch from pan and chop up into pieces. Not too small but small enough to fit on top of mousse.

Bring mousses back out and top crunchies.

Enjoy!!!

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret is Out! And Please no More Dates!

browniesnap

I was finally given permission today to speak the words “I’m going to be a Grandma” publicly. I wrote emails to some of my friends and a few I spoke to on the phone.

So how did it feel to actually be able to tell the world I am going to be a grandma? Pretty damn terrific, and yet still a bit surreal. After all, it hasn’t really sunk in fully because there are still seven months to go until zero hour.

It’s great to be able to say things like, “when the baby comes,” and “my first grandchild” and “how far in advance does Yale accept early applications?”

I have begun a list of restaurants where my grandchild and I can dine for lunch. I shall parade him/her down the main thoroughfares endlessly until everyone I know and don’t know has cast eyes upon the miracle child. Do you think I’m going overboard here? Nah!

Ten Weeks:

It seems we have a new wrinkle in time as the little mother takes action on a special project of her own. Nausea aside, her survival mode has kicked in full force and the first order of business seems to be getting Grandma out of her hair. To this end she has been eagerly perusing JDate and interviewing potential candidates.

Excuse me while I sing a chorus of “If Mama Were Married,” from “Gypsy.”

Of course after a short time on this mission from hell she realized it takes more than one person acting alone to find someone to contact. The final count 400 readings, two acceptable men to contact.

“Yes, Mother I understand now why you swore never to do this again.”

Ah, I thought, it’s good to be right occasionally.

So it seems she narrowed it down to two candidates. One hasn’t been online for over a month and the other made quite an impression. My daughter and her newly appointed “committee to re elect her mother as a wife,” were duly impressed with their choices and brought them forward for a vote.

I was instructed to send an email thus informing him the path had been cleared toward mutual contact and await an answer. The plans changed and she decided to take the initiative and write him. She told him she was acting for her mother and had selected him as a suitable and interesting candidate.

His response to my daughter was, “tell your mother to send me a picture of herself naked.”

And now a new can of worms has been opened. Not wanting to appear pessimistic about men, I hesitate to reveal my true feelings on the subject of online dating.

I didn’t tell her about the man who claimed to be 61 and was actually 93. Did he think I wouldn’t notice the over thirty-year difference when we met? Exactly where on my profile did it say I was blind? I also omitted the two dates with felons I’d had and the one who had set up a fake charity website to extort money from women. Maybe he should’ve added a phone number and address to that website to make it more believable.

So many of the young and romantic fail to realize that many women of my age are single by choice.

Desiring to be neither a nurse or a purse, I opt to live my life filled with family, friends, fun, work, Maj Jong, travel and above all, freedom. At my tender age I have happily discovered that none of these requires a male companion to achieve. Occasional dating is an acceptable alternative to a lifetime commitment.

After spending countless hours on the Internet dating circuit, I became acutely aware I was sorely wasting valuable time I could never retrieve searching for “the one.”

As great journalist Adela Rogers St. Johns, thrice married, once said and it may be true, “There is so little difference between husbands you may as well keep the first.”

Yet, I remain a cockeyed optimist and I am certain that should that special someone exist in this realm, there is no doubt we shall meet as I attend of the school of predetermination.

After another candidate went south, I was yet again faced with the dilemma of dashing my daughter’s pregnant hopes of finding a husband for mother. Dare I tell her? After all she is pregnant and stress is the enemy now.

So once again she has contacted me about another gem from JDate. This exercise in futility is distracting me from focusing my energy on being “the grandma” I have already envisioned myself rocking and singing and these are hardly romantic thoughts for a potential dater. Still, I am somehow happy with this picture. It fits and is inherently soothing to mind and soul. Perhaps it’s true after all that love and short skirts are for the young.

I only know that like so many other women of my generation, I am extremely content and have a full life. I choose to liken it to a chocolate cake without icing. A great chocolate cake has all the ingredients to make it yummy. If you add terrific icing it can only make it better. However if you add bad icing, you can ruin a perfectly good cake. I’m perfectly content with my bare cake. Besides in seven months, it will be filled with a new ingredient that will taste better than the finest Belgian chocolate panache. It is also at the forefront of my mind that anyone I bring into my life will be a part of “the grandchild’s” as well. How could I ever determine if he is grandpa worthy?

Oh darn, she just sent me another prospect from JDate. “If Mama Were Married, we’d live in a house, as quiet as quiet can be…”

Brownies Napoleon

Super Easy and delicious Brownie dessert fancy enough for company

1 box of brownie mix using chewy recipe on box or your own recipe

1 package instant vanilla pudding

1 cup of frozen whipped topping or homemade whipped cream

Fresh strawberries

Chocolate Ganache

Bake brownies using chewy recipe in a jelly roll pan so they bake up thinner

Prepare vanilla pudding according to box directions and then add 1 cup of whipped topping to the finished pudding. Set aside

When cooled cut brownies into rectangles of like size and scoop out a small amount from each inside with a small melon baller to make an indentation for the pudding mixture.

Place pudding on the top of a brownie and cover with another brownie rectangle forming a sandwich.

Liberally drizzle Ganache over top of brownie to cover and add fresh strawberries or decorate as desired. You can also add thinly sliced strawberries on top of pudding before closing the sandwich and covering with the Ganache.

Chocolate Ganache

8 ounces of semi sweet chocolate

1 cup of heavy cream

1 tablespoon of unsalted butter let it sit before cooking until it reaches room temperature.

Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set aside

Simmer milk in a saucepan on medium heat and pour hot milk over chocolate.

Let sit until chocolate begins to melt and then stir. Add butter and continue stirring until all are smooth and incorporated.

These should be handled gently as not to break brownies. They taste and look great when they’re done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cane I Help You?

cocoalmond chicken

Last year women spent billions of dollars to look younger. Botox, plastic surgery, procedures, creams, miracle lotions and any crazy new fangled product that had the potential to knock off a few years.

I personally only spent hundreds because I am a big believer in Oil of Olay and sleep.

After all the trouble one goes to in order to shave off a few years there is one sure-fire way to add the years back in one fell swoop. A cane.

While doing physical therapy it was strongly suggested I use a cane to improve my balance and posture.

I aged ten years immediately, but I also discovered a great new toy for my grandsons.

They fight over it and the little one wins. He dances around the house like Fred Astaire in his top hat and tails swinging the cane around with Fred’s grace and verve. It’s hilarious.

When we go out he will carry his umbrella to emulate Grammy’s cane and my daughter and I just stand and laugh at his shenanigans.

Both my grandsons imitate me walking and saying ouch and I shudder to think that will be their lasting memory of Grammy.

Now of course although I can’t wait to rid myself of the instant-aging device, I feel almost guilty that he will lose a favorite toy.

I imagine it’s no different than playing with the box a toy came in or using a paper towel roll to lead an imaginary band, kids can have fun with the oddest things.

So is having a cane to entertain your grandchildren a perk of old age?

No way. The cane although it serves a useful purpose is a nuisance. I find myself forgetting, losing and sometimes even stumbling over it clumsily.

I’m thinking a cane may not be such a good idea.

And yet. Okay I admit, at a certain age it’s good for balance and Stop. No! Every time I use it I feel like an old woman. I know I look older, but I also feel older too.

Now of course some people have no choice, they must use it or else risk falling and we don’t even want to go there.

But it’s difficult enough to convince yourself you’re still young without catching a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and thinking, who the hell is that old lady? Oops, it’s me!

Is there some way to lessen the blow?

Perhaps a diamond encrusted cane? Or a clear one you can’t see? Or something cool like one of those rain sticks from Africa that will sound like rainfall every time it hits the ground.

Maybe designer canes from Michael Kors or Chanel made of pearls with CCs hanging off the top. Alexander McQueen could create a cane with skeletons on it to really depress one and remind old people of what lies ahead. It could become quite chic and the in thing. Young skinny models would begin sporting them just to look cool.

Forget purses, the new status symbol would be canes. Of course they would have to be uber expensive to be an effective status symbol.

Human beings are nothing if not adaptable. We accept that gravity is a gigantic weight around our necks, literally, or that our skin now hangs like the smog over Los Angeles. Or even that we can’t eat even half the calories we once ingested without gaining weight.

But despite all the craziness that inflicts our bodies as we age, it is a small price to pay for what we gain. Wisdom. I once saw a talk show where the host asked the audience if they had the opportunity to live their live over if they would.

Most people failed to raise their hands and I was shocked. I thought, why wouldn’t anyone want a second chance to undo their mistakes? Of course I was young then. Now I understand.

For all the wisdom we eventually gain it comes with a price. The lessons aren’t free or easy and take a toll.

Now I get it…one lifetime is more than enough.

Now if someone said you could turn in your body for a new one every twenty years, now that’s an offer I definitely wouldn’t refuse.

Coconut Almond Chicken Chunks

1 package of chicken tenders (You can also use drummettes)

1 cup of sweetened coconut

1 cup sliced almonds chopped well

1 cup of Panko crumbs

1 cup of flour

2 eggs beaten

Canola oil deep enough to deep fry but not totally cover chicken

Salt and pepper

Cut chicken into pieces as desired may be strips or chunks

Salt and pepper chicken

Combine all dry ingredients

Dip chicken into flour, then egg and finally into coconut, Panko and almonds combined.

Drop gently away from you into the 350-degree oil.

Fry until chicken is cooked on both sides, approximately 7 minutes.

Drain and serve with pineapple sauce.

 

Pineapple sauce

1 cup crushed pineapple

1 tablespoon apricot preserves

½ teaspoon of Dijon mustard

Mix together until well combined

 

 

 

 

 

Reality Versus Me; No Contest

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There’s a fine line between delusional and it’s my party.

Okay so here’s the 411, which by the way for those of you who are anything before the year 2000 challenged, means the information. Basically, where does the line between delusion and seeing the world your way become a psychotic thing?

I’m not sure, but I imagine I’ve come really close to that line sometimes judging by other’s reactions to my reactions to situations. If I had a dollar for every time someone has noted with incredulity, “why are you even surprised?” I’d have enough for a butt lift.

I guess you could say I’m actually a closet Pollyanna, wanting to believe that people’s intentions are good, and when someone says they like and care about me, they actually do.

Wow, go figure!

So is reality a choice, a delusion or something based on wish fulfillment?

I have always wanted to believe the best about people. Why is that?

Because it is so much easier to believe people are kind than accept the fact they may just be assholes.

Although sometime long ago I decided the best way to proceed in life was to expect nothing and let people show themselves through their actions, but I kind of never practiced what I preached.

Which is why I now, at this age, look back and must reproach myself for being so damn dumb.

It’s not just that I wanted to believe people didn’t want to hurt me, it’s that even after they had numerous times, I still refused to accept they were anything less than I’d believed.

Right up until the time I lie on the floor bleeding and was forced to admit, gee they weren’t what I thought they were. Stupid!

It’s the whole stupid thing I was trying to avoid here because that is so self-deprecating and yet I truly should have caught on so much sooner, but I chose not to.

But why would I? Why would anyone want to admit a so-called friend didn’t really give a damn about them or a brother would stab you in the back or an agent in Hollywood would lie?

I know, I know that agent thing really is as obvious as a heart attack.

Or that a man you loved would lie to you?

Delusional is looking good here.

After all is said and done what is the best way to handle reality. If we really saw everyone for what they were, warts and all, the world could be a darker and uncozier place.

Isn’t it much safer and happier to believe all is good and unicorns roam the earth and leprechauns are at this very moment guarding your pot of gold at the end of that rainbow?
Would we all be better off to live in a world where we never got hurt or disappointed because at the outset of every relationship we expected the worst or nothing at all from those whom we encounter along our path? If nothing else, from disappointments we must expect greater knowledge and perhaps a lesson learned to put into our backpack as we march along life’s highway. At least I know not to hitchhike.

What is the happy medium here and how do you achieve it when often people don’t expose their true natures until well after you’ve begun to trust and care?

I have often pondered the question of who is at fault when relationships die and why must we be so ready to blame ourselves?

It is human nature to want to be close to other humans, to bond, to create a commonality of goals, of words of deeds with people about whom you care.

So if I must continue being delusional so be it.

I suppose I’ll never learn, because in the end knowingly or unknowingly we also disappoint others. I imagine in a way it’s a cycle of sorts.

Since we do not choose to hurt others, unless we are well that kind of crazy person, I have to believe others don’t intend to set out to hurt us either. And yes although some do, I imagine we just have to sort through the trash and find the treasure in those who are willing to stick it out until the end.

Or until there is really nothing left to be hurt about anymore, because at a certain point everything becomes so unimportant and genuinely silly really.

As my kids always say, “it’s all good” and I guess that means the bad as well.

For me true knowledge comes from realizing our reality is subjective and greatly colored by what has come before. Should we choose to become bitter and immediately assume people will hurt us because some have, at the risk of becoming a bitter, angry human being that dwells in mistrust and suspicion? I think not! Or should we try to embrace that being human is to accept we are all flawed and imperfect.

Or as someone I know says, “we shouldn’t strive for perfection, only progress.”

If we are constantly judging the behavior of those around us we may find ourselves expecting too much or even at times not enough. I guess the secret is to expect nothing and go with the flow.

I guess that’s the best answer since I’m too damn old to swim upstream anymore.

So I choose to be happy when those I care about are loving and kind, and resigned and forgiving when they aren’t. After all, others don’t set your expectations, you do, so why are they responsible for what you put upon them.

Relationships can be confusing and difficult or easy and flowing. I guess it’s up to me to choose.

The choice is made. Oh no, wait I want to choose again. OY! It’s the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man!

Oh well, I do love marshmallows.

 

 

Corn Stuffed Zucchini Boats

 

4 zucchinis cut in half. Scoop out insides until they resemble a boat. Leave edge of zucchini a bit in tact so they prevent the corn from leaking out the sides.

Salt and pepper the zucchini and set aside.

Mix together

2 cups corn can be fresh, frozen or a mix of both

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup half and half

2 eggs

¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

pepper to taste

 

Mix eggs and half and half and add other ingredients. Use immersion blender and mix corn mixture until it mixes together, but some corn is still recognizable.

 

Fill zucchini with corn mixture and sprinkle cheese on top.

Bake approx. 20 to 25 minutes until set.

Sprinkle lightly on top with fresh chopped red pepper

 

 

Having the Sense to Choose a Sense of Humor

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I’ve made many mistakes in my life. Lots of bad calls, bad falls and bad choices. Sometimes, all at the same time. But when I was in heaven pre-birth picking out stuff I made one good choice, I asked the angel in charge of supplies about the sense of humor.

“Okay,” he said, “but that’s a big one, you have to trade in a few of the things you’ve already chosen.”

“Okay, what do I have to give back?

“I’ll need that perfect nose and oh, sorry you won’t be able to keep the all you can eat and not gain weight metabolism.”

“That’s a little harsh isn’t it?”

“No way, a sense of humor is a biggie and worth a lot. Oh, and sorry I need those blue eyes back.”

I grudgingly agreed.

“Just checking your list here and see you took your father’s height. Sorry”

“Wait, you mean I have to do the short and slow metabolism thing of my mother?”

“Yep.”

“I’m not sure a sense of humor is worth all this good stuff.”

“Well it is a choice you know. If you get all the stuff to make you gorgeous and thin, you really don’t need a sense of humor. You will however need it for the short, dumpy, big nosed and slow metabolism you.”

“Uh huh,” I said. “So you mean a sense of humor is really worth all this?”

“More than gold.”

“I don’t understand. Why do I have to give everything back?”

“Because having a great sense of humor will mean so much to you.”

“Doesn’t it mean the same to everyone?”

“Nope, it depends on your life. I see how much you’ll need it, whereas some others won’t as much.”

“Doesn’t everyone need a sense of humor?”
“Of course to a certain extent, but some need a small quantity to get through life, you will need copious amounts.”

“Great, that’s comforting.”

“Hey I’m only telling it like it is. Listen, I don’t want to be mean here so I’ll tell you what, I’ll let you keep your personality. It’s a high end one and it will help you overcome living without the other stuff.”

“You’re all heart. But I’m reconsidering. I mean why do I need such a Cadillac sense of humor?”

“It’s how you’ll overcome the challenges life throws your way.”

“Can’t I just duck and avoid them?”

The angel smiled. “I forgot you haven’t met your mother yet. No the sense of humor you have will be your savior in your life. Trust me on this one.”

“Can I share it with the world?”

“Yes, you could create comedy.”

“What’s comedy?”

“It’s something you do in show business.”

“So I will be in this show business with my sense of humor”

“Yes, and that’s where you’ll need it most.”

“So I need a sense of humor to share my sense of humor in this show business thing?”

“Desperately.”

“Does everyone in show business have a sense of humor?”

“No, that’s why you need to have one.”

“I understand.”

“No you don’t, but you will if you ever see show business up close.”

“Can I pass my sense of humor onto my children and grandchildren?”

“Absolutely, it’s yours to do whatever you want with now.”

“Well at least it makes me feel better that I paid a high price and got the better model. My kids will benefit as well.”

“What exactly does this sense of humor do for me?”

“Allows you to laugh.”

“Can’t everyone laugh?”

“Sadly, no.”

“What does this laughing thing do?”

“Extends your life. Helps you embrace joy.”

“What’s joy?”

“Joy is a feeling of happiness and contentment that transcends.”

“So that’s a good thing right?”

“That’s the best. It also helps you leap over the pits of despair and heartache.”

“Are there a lot of those around?”

“Many I’m afraid. They are parts of the human condition in copious supply. Humor thwarts the damage they can do.”

“What else can it do?”

“It brings you a sense of euphoria.”

“How does that feel?”

“It’s when your brain releases these little things called endorphins that make you feel sublimely happy.”

“I want to feel happy, right?”

“Right.”

“It sounds like this humor thing is the best thing you can have.”

“It is one of the best.”

“Did I get to keep any other good stuff?”

“Well humor usually goes hand in hand with a big heart. So you have that going for you as well.”

“So that’s a good thing right?”

“Yes and no.”

“Why no?”

“Because caring about others can be painful at times. That’s sort of a double edged sword I’m afraid.”

“Like humor, huh?”

“No, humor has no double edge. It’s the one thing that is completely good. It let’s you see the funny side of life even when life is sad and cruel. It opens you up to a way of thinking that you could never understand unless it’s a part of you. It brings only good into your life and the lives of those around you.”

“Sounds to me like it beats out skinny and blue eyes any day.”

The angel laughed. “You can easily survive in life without those things, but without a sense of humor you’d be lost.”

“Thanks for turning me onto it. I’m really glad I chose humor and laughter.”

“It’s the best choice you’ll ever make because it will make all the bad choices bearable. So enjoy!”

“Hey who’s that guy over there with the bright red head of hair?”

“That’s Carrot Top.”

“Did he choose humor and to be funny too?”

The angel shook his head. “That’s a matter of opinion, but that’s a discussion for another day.”

Lemon Drop Cookies

1 and ¾ cup all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 large egg, room temperature preferred

Zest of one lemon (about 1 tablespoon lemon zest)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon extract

2 cups of white chocolate melting discs work best

1 cup of lemon drops crushed

 

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a large mixing bowl using a hand-held mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and mix until well combined. Add in the lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon extract, and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined

Cover tightly and transfer to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to chill the cookie dough.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator and scoop out two tablespoon sized pieces of cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets. I prefer to roll the dough into balls and then gently press them down a little.

Bake in batches at 350°F for 10-12 minutes. The cookies should look done on the outside, but still a little soft on the inside. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Melt white chocolate and spread a coating of chocolate on cookie

Sprinkle with crushed lemon drops let harden before serving.

 

 

 

I am Grandma Hear Me Roar

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Grandmas just know stuff. How? Simply because through the very process of living and problem solving we have become quite creative about solutions. Are we oriented toward inventive fixes? You bet. I am always surprised by the things my friends will do to solve a problem.

Speaking to my friend Harriet today about the grandchildren and how to navigate the unsure waters of the precarious daughter-sea-of-rules and regulations, she surprised me.

Blue jays were busily chomping on birdseed in her yard as we spoke.

“Don’t you have a problem with the squirrels eating all the seed?” I asked, conjuring up memories of squirrels hanging upside down from my constantly empty bird feeders.

“Oh yes,” she said. “But I sprayed Pam on the wire and now they don’t come anymore.”

I laughed out loud picturing squirrels dropping unceremoniously to the ground with a thunk, then climbing back up, sliding and falling again.

“How long did it take them to get the picture?” I asked.

“Don’t know; just know there is no more squirrel problem here.”

I am constantly amazed at how inventive Grandmas and moms can be.

Although our daughters, and I say daughters because no mother-in-law in her right mind would offer anything but money or gifts to a daughter in law, are garnering a lifetime of their own creative solutions and also share the sheer frustration of keeping all the good advice to themselves.

And that brings me to the Grandma dream.

Yes, there is a Grandma dream. Here’s how it goes.

My daughter calls and says, “Mom I need your advice.”

“Yes, Dear, anything,” I answer.

“Mom, you know how you always made us those special sandwiches when we were in school? How did you keep their shapes?”

I answer citing the extra small baggie trick.

“Thanks, Mom,” she says. “You just seem to know everything about these things.”

I hang up gratified a piece of useful information has been passed down.

Not to be lost in the annals of time, floating above the earth, begging to be used and cherished. It shall be committed to memory and praised as a part of a Grandma legacy.

Okay, so it’s a bit over the top and it’s not a cure for the diseases that plague the world, but a dream is a dream.

I am not certain why Grandma’s become more inventive as they age. Perhaps it’s simply that time enhances creativity, Through the process of living we find ourselves faced with more challenge and therefore become more astute at finding solutions more easily and quickly.

I have found a few of my own to be helpful and yet so obvious after you think of them of course.

When buying greeting cards to keep in the house, place the card in the envelope before storing in the drawer. This saves having to check every envelope to see what fits.

Use a mouse pad to open jars, grips great and is sturdy enough to get the job done easily.

Keep sheets inside matching pillowcases when storing and entire set will be easily at hand when changing the beds.

Plastic candy box inserts make great earring holders and they keep your drawer smelling like chocolate. A win win.

Use a spray bottle to oil your salad. You use less and get much better coverage. The spray bottle also works well when spraying any liquor on a cake.

If glasses lose and screw, stick a safety pin or a twist tie (take the paper off and leave the wire) through the hole where the screw was until you have them fixed.

I’m sure you’ve also discovered tons of timesaving tricks. I’d love to hear yours. Please share them with us in the comment portion.

 

Stuffin Muffins

1 Challah

2 small New Yorker onion rolls

1 cup mushrooms

1 medium carrot

1 stalk of celery

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons oil

½ small onion

2 eggs

5 or 6 cups of chicken or turkey stock

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp sage

½ tsp thyme

½ cup of slivered almonds

½ cup of dried cranberries

 

Sauté veggies until soft

Add almonds and cranberries and combine with veggies

Cut up breads and add veggies. Add stock and beaten eggs. Mix well and press down into well-buttered muffin cups.

Place pastry leaf on top of each muffin when serving

Bake on 350 for 25 to 30 minutes until done.

 

Pastry Leaf

Roll out pastry and cut leaves. Bake at 350 until lightly browned.

Color with food coloring. I have also used ground sage to color them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing Old Has Some Compensations

stuffed eggplant.jpgA wise person once said, “Grandchildren are God’s way of compensating us for growing old. ” True words indeed. I should like to add my own thoughts and say that grandchildren are the icing on life’s cake, and calorie free. So it isn’t really so odd that after the initial shock, screams of joy and crying jag that ensued when my daughter informed me she was pregnant, I would immediately attempt to find a way to capture forever my ultimate Hallmark moment.

I was certain it would take the entire nine months to cross over into Grandmaland, just as it had to absorb the reality of my own impending motherhood.

Therefore, these words will serve as my personal contribution to the grandma experience, because, thank goodness, this time it won’t be me screaming obscenities in that delivery room.

Now at long last, I shall share that most precious of all Mommy moments as my grandchildren are embroiled in a full-blown tantrum, I can finally say to my beloved daughter—“Don’t complain, you were worse.”

For I am Baby Boomer Grammy, BBG, the coolest Grammy generation.

Aging gracefully as we rush downward dog into our golden years. We are brazen broads who burned our bras, created friends with benefits, and happily set out on our own when, after given a choice, the remote or me, our husbands opted to remain couch bound.

As most Moms I have waited patiently, quite a feat indeed, as my daughter rolled her eyes or sighed when I reached out to touch or hug her a moment longer. Still, I smiled silently at the knowledge that indeed my day would come.

That moment when, as she stared blinded with love for her offspring, she would finally bite from the tree of parental knowledge and whisper, “Do you mean this is how much you love me?” Ah, at last comes the dawn.

But although my son and daughter are the sun, moon, stars and all the heavens to me, I have decided that this book shall be all about us: the Grandmas and their new loves. Now possessed of all that is joyous and wonderful in a lifetime, “The” child to spoil, hug and kiss to our heart’s content.

A tiny person who will light up when I enter the room, won’t care if my nail polish is too red, I gained five pounds or my new hairdo is “so eighties.” I can do no wrong for I shall be “Grandma.” Giver of unconditional love, teller of fairy tales, baker of the best cookies, a port in the rocky storm of parent/child relationships, and always at the ready with the best chicken soup to cure all ills.

Now, at last I shall finally complete the journey I began as a teenager, when after reading Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge, I envied Larry Darrell as he achieved Nirvana. I shall envy him no more.

Never one to underestimate the volatility of the human psyche, I am certain my current feelings of rapturous joy shall morph into a cornucopia of mood swings that will make menopause seem like a Girl Scout cookie sale.

Even now I am possessed with an aching desire to climb the stairs to my rooftop and scream the news to the world. But alas, the mother-to-be has imposed strict sanctions against my announcing the life-changing information for three months.

This poses a great challenge and some exhaustion as I am literally bursting with this news. The extent of this feat was quite obvious the other evening at a party when my girlfriends all discussed their grandchildren and my lips puffed up like Angelina Jolie’s from biting them so hard.

There is a small modicum of release when driving in traffic as I yell out the window to no one in particular, “I’m going to be a Grandma.” Living in Los Angeles there is certainly no danger anyone will pay the slightest attention to these occasional rants.

Those bits of information that come by way of friends and family we promise not to divulge are, of course, sacrosanct, but when the best of all bests is happening, how shall I ever contain my joy?

I elected a promise from my daughter that she would tell me the second she revealed the news to her brother, hopefully very soon, so that I can experience speaking the words out loud to someone else on this planet. Verbalizing makes it all the more real, don’t you think?

Conversation has become a feat as I seek frivolous, inane subjects that will avoid any temptation to spill the proverbial beans.

I am also wondering if the incidence of phone calls will increase with my daughter’s girth.

Will she call and ask, “Mom how much weight did you gain at this week or that, how long did you crave oranges and what the heck is happening to my belly button?”

The soreness of the boobs, I’m certain will be a premier topic and arise early on.

I am trying desperately to ignore the ongoing shopping spree in my head as I wonder what toys to buy or what colors of clothing to stock in Grandma’s stash. But here’s the cool part, my daughter is going to find out the sex early on. No waiting around and guessing none months for this generation. No generic yellow or green baby rooms or sleepers, and what a joy to know that although the usual taste issues will arise, the color choice will at least be perfect.

I don’t remember the first time I realized the frequency with which I heard the phrase, “when I was little I used to cook with my grandmother.” Yet one day as I watched yet another celebrity chef interview, it hit me like a bolt from the blue how many times I had heard chefs credit their grandmother’s for their interest in cooking.

I was struck by the way they mentioned this fact with the flash of emotion only the most powerful and happy memories can elicit.

It is abundantly clear, “everyone loves their grandma and grandpa, and cooking with them is a treasured memory that lasts a lifetime.

Grandparent love surpasses any other love and blossoms into a safety net woven together with strings of precious childhood memories spent inhaling the sights and wondrous kitchen smells of Grammy.

Their eyes gleam with a special light and they look at you like you are a banana split.

But today is a new world of cold-pressed, organic, environmentally correct child eating and rearing. What is a Baby Boomer who grew up on Hershey Bars, Big Boy onion rings and Dairy Queens to do to pass muster on the kitchen front?

I did attempt to improve my children’s diets in lieu of the free love generation’s desire to return to the earth. My daughter wasn’t allowed soda pop or cookies until she was four years old.

But alas, as with all things life relaxes the rules, and by the time my son was born all bets were off. It became a pizza, Colonel Sanders and Ben and Jerry world.

There was usually a plateful of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies awaiting my children and their friends after school. After all, I grew up watching Ozzie and Harriet and Donna Reed. What did I know about real life, or dieting for that matter? My own weight had ballooned up 100 pounds as I did my daily imitation of a human garbage disposal.

And that is the conundrum, for now I need to get busy learning today’s yeas and nays food wise for new rules now apply.

So, in order to keep the peace and refrain from damaging my precious grandchildren, I have taken it upon myself to “get schooled,” in a healthy lifestyle. I set about to revise and revamp old recipes into new more child-friendly versions.

I am a new grandma in this new world. So as I journey through grandma land, I invite you come along and share the fun, knowledge, tastes and perhaps at times humorous exploits this trip entails.

Okay so this can be made organic and it does include vegetables so I’m getting there!

 

Lamb and Eggplant Bake

 

1 pound of ground lamb

1 cup of brown or white rice

1 ½ cups crumbled feta cheese

1 ½ teaspoons Greek seasoning

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 cup of tomato puree

2 cups chicken broth

4 cups cut up eggplant

1 cup of panko crumbs mixed with 1 teaspoon of Greek seasoning and salt and pepper

 

Spray casserole dish. Salt chopped eggplant and drain in colander until water is out. Season lamb. Mix together puree and chicken stock and add Greek seasoning. Place eggplant, lamb, rice and feta cheese in casserole dish and pour liquid mixture over all. Cover and bake in 350-degree oven for one hour or until rice has absorbed all liquid. Remove cover and sprinkle panko crumbs on top and bake another ten minutes until crumbs brown up. Serve with Greek salad and pita for a delicious lunch or dinner.

 

 

Birthdays vs Mosquitoes

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Getting old sucks. Oh sure there are those joyful Pollyanna’s who run about spouting how grateful they are to be getting older, and I would so like to trip them as they leap along on the happiness trail.

No, I am not saying I don’t want to be here and am not appreciative that each New Year’s eve I am still here to celebrate. It’s just that why do we need all these reminders we are getting older? Is the mirror not enough?

There are many who decry birthdays as a day less than exciting. Still, in the past I always regarded that special day as my special day. But is it really? What message is it actually sending? That we are getting older? That we are only special one day a year? That time is passing faster than a collection plate at a Sunday morning church service?

All of the above I’m afraid.

If age is truly a state of mind, why must it be stated constantly? We are forced to come to grips with another passing year on our birthdays, New Years Eve and when our driver’s license is renewed. And of course don’t forget about how many times a day you are asked to fill out forms including your birth date. My question is, “why is it necessary to face the ravages of time so often?”

We all know we are born. Why must we have a day set aside each year to stuff our faces with sugar-laden carbohydrates like birthday cake, get presents we don’t need, see who gives a damn enough to wish us happy birthday on Facebook and listen to people telling you how good you look for your age?

Shouldn’t one day a year suffice? Choose one please. Is it to be New Year’s or a birthday? One is redundant. Why must we be reminded how old we are when we already have enough evidence of the passing of time?

I can look at my children and know how many years have flown. I can see my grandchildren growing before my eyes and wonder where the years went. I can look at my wedding pictures and tear up over all those no longer here. Is it necessary to rub it in for a whole day each year?

I have come to the conclusion that when the devil made his agreement with God to provide the world with flies and mosquitoes (an added bonus) he also begged for birthdays. God, busy with other important things like creating the world, choosing colors for flowers and placing the calorie count into foods was a bit distracted so he paid little attention when the devil said, let’s have a birthday every year.

God being God and all might have assumed the devil was trying to be nice because he threw in the added bonus of mosquitoes; so old Lucifer was able to pull a fast one.

Let’s let them think birthdays are a good thing, he thought. Presents, cakes, making wishes. Old Satan was in seventh heaven knowing people would completely turn his cruel joke around and think it was intended for good.

So what am I saying here? Am I saying we shouldn’t celebrate being alive? Hell NO! But we should celebrate it every day, not once a year when it is clouded with irrelevant side issues like who forgot your special day? And why you can’t fit in the pants you wore on your birthday last year.

We should get up each day filled with gratitude just to be breathing. Where is it written cake can only be eaten with a candle on top to make someone happy? I know I’m happy any day there’s cake involved in the mix.

Why do we need an excuse to give the people we love gifts or shower them with love? This should be a regular occurrence that requires no special time frame.

When I was younger I would fill with gloom two weeks before every birthday. The skies were cloudy and the earth would seem dark and depressing. I’d walk around like Pigpen with a cloud above my head and then the day would arrive.

It was my birthday. I’d awaken awaiting the earth to open and swallow me, or worse. Then the happy birthdays would come, the cake, the presents and well wishes, and somehow by the end of the day the clouds had lifted and the sky was blue once more.

I always attributed this to the fact I’d survived another year. I now believe it’s that I survived another birthday.

When Satan realized he’d gotten away with the birthday thing, he invented magnifying mirrors to destroy the Lord’s merciful response to the aging process… farsightedness. The less clearly we see the ravages of time, the kinder the universe.

Magnifying mirrors destroyed the illusion we are not seeing wrinkles, sagging jowls and all the other fun things that happen to our faces. So the Lord gave us plastic surgery, fillers and Botox to counteract the devil’s cruel little joke.

But the devil didn’t care cause he still had birthdays.

Every second, we get older by another second. Should we light a candle every second? Who decided one year would be the celebratory marker. Why not every two years or ten?

I know it’s a blessing to be getting older, but I’ve made up my mind that waiting for a birthday to celebrate isn’t sufficient. I need presents, cake and feeling special every day. So I’ve created the anytime I want a birthday birthday and treat myself whenever I wish.

I need some special today so I’m buying a cake and blowing out a candle. Hey, it’s a free country.

Not one to enjoy being one of the crowd I shall create my own way to celebrate my own day whenever and however I choose. Besides, after a certain age they don’t call you crazy but eccentric and I passed that marker a few birthdays ago.

I’m calling my grandsons to celebrate with me today. Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me… Join me, please!

The recipe for this blog I have called Snoozles. Mostly because it is such comfort food, it can put you to sleep.

It’s based on my favorite meal my Grandmother used to prepare for me; greasy hamburger, lumpy mashed potatoes and peas.

My grandmother was a terrible cook, but I loved it when she made anything for me. I created Snoozles to remind me of how wonderful it felt watching her place that greasy hamburger onto my plate. It was a special moment when she prepared food, because I knew it wasn’t her favorite thing to do, so I guess I appreciated it even more knowing that was the case.

This dish operates on two levels, it tastes delicious and it also feels good to eat because it conjures up wonderful memories of my Grandma.

Enjoy!

Snoozles

Two sheets of puff pastry

3 ½ cups mashed potatoes

½ cup peas fresh or frozen

1cup turkey or hamburger ground or chopped

Add peas and turkey to mashed potatoes

Spread evenly on puff pastry sheet

Roll over once and cut Roll over again and cut and repeat this until all cut.

Place in well-buttered muffin tins and place a puff pastry pumpkin on top.

Brush with egg wash.

Bake at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes until puff pastry is cooked.

Design

Cut a design like a flower or anything you’d like out of puff pastry and place on top of Snoozle before placing in oven. When done paint with food coloring or leave plain.

 

 

 

Hollywood is a Grandma-Free Zone

 

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Hollywood is a Grandma-free-zone and no one who is intimidated by the aging process should step foot on Hollywood Blvd.

Last week I saw them dragging a screaming old lady away from Clark Gable’s footsteps at Mann’s Theatre for being old in public. One tourist turned to another and asked, “Who was Clark Gable?”

I’m not sure what was the saddest part of that whole scene.

The newest and most profitable business in Los Angeles is a company that builds boats for people over 49 to be sent out to sea to die. There’s a three-year waiting list already.

If you think I’m imagining this insanity ask any producer or television exec what happens when you mention the word Grandmother. They break out in hives, start to hyperventilate and run from the room in terror.

Exaggeration?

I think not.

A friend and I met with a producer about a show we developed for older women.

His eyes bugged out of his head when he saw the word Grandma in the title.

I quickly covered the word with my hand and said, “It’s okay, calm down, see I made it go away.”

After catching his breath and downing two Xanax he informed us in no uncertain terms no one was interested in women on television over 49.

“And don’t say Betty White either,” he retorted. “She is only on there because she is surrounded by young hotties.”

I never had the heart to tell him that those “hotties” would never see fifty again. Why destroy his illusions?

Forget that one of the most popular and loveable characters on Bravo television was realtor Josh Flagg’s late grandmother, Edith.

Yes, Hollywood is a world-unto-itself. Thank the Lord.

In Europe older women are embraced as sexy, wise and worldly. Men delight in their vast experience and their ageless beauty. Sophia Loren is looked on as a goddess, not an old crone.

I am not certain this is because the men in America have better eyesight or the Europeans are not as fussy about their women. And yes, let us keep in mind French women don’t shave their armpits. Of course Europe is an old country and America a baby so maybe…

In America women over fifty are invisible, unless of course they are walking around half naked with a set of store-bought DDDs stopping traffic on Sunset Boulevard.

If you would think it is a scary state of being, you would be correct. So what is a Grandmother to do?

Throw away her Oil of Olay? Pack and leave town before she brings disgrace on her family? Wear a veil?

Okay, so that does work for Muslim women.

Ah, now I get the whole Burqua thing!

Shall I repair into my golden years in a black dress and sensible shoes like an Italian grandmother? Spending all my time making sauce and rolling pasta dough?

“Come dip my homemade Italian bread in Grandma’s perfect marinara?

Or shall I make Aliyah to an assisted living home where my children may come to visit once a month, if I am lucky?

Or if wealthy enough make a pilgrimage to Boca Raton, where I can spend my time playing maj jong and looking for a man with his own teeth who can still drive at night?

You would think I am embellishing my conundrum, but unfortunately I am not.

Last week the Beverly Hills City Council took up the issue of whether or not the police should give tickets for excessive wrinkling. The measure was, of course supported by all the plastic surgeons and Botox manufacturers. It failed by only one vote.

Isn’t it bad enough the fat police patrol is still at large, suspiciously eyeing anyone at the Krispy Krème drive thru and taking license plate numbers?

So what should one do who feels they still have more to offer the world than good lasagna or mandal bread?

Don’t move to Los Angeles is a damn good start. There is no doubt in my mind as to why there are so many kooks running through the palm-tree laden streets of LA. Why there are so many car chases across its bumper-to-bumper freeways. Why men always look like a cat that just ingested a ten-pound canary.

Simply, it is because young women are in abundance and older women are in hiding. Or, as we refer to these young chicks in over 49 circles the third-wife-to-be.

Yoga classes are filled with fifties and ups stretching and downward dogging their way back to youth. Hair colorists are so abundant you can’t blink without bumping into one and plastic surgeons are so finely honed, that a woman can leave for lunch and arrive back at work looking ten years younger.

Men check women out like Carl Sagan checked out every star in the galaxy. They balk if a woman has one wrinkle too many, reminds them of their mother or simply isn’t the perfect image of beauty they feel they deserve.

Meanwhile, have you taken a look at these aging Lotharios lately?

OY!

They have spray on tans, spray on hair, blue pills bulging from their pockets and a dating profile on those meet-a-felon sites that is filled with more lies and exaggerations than a politician’s resume. Quick dating tip here: orange jump suits are not a turn on!

They examine every woman they date with the precision of a butcher frenching a lamb chop for the Oscar’s Governor’s Ball and their expectations are higher than Keith Richard’s partying with Janis Joplin.

As Bette Davis once opined, “getting old is not for sissies.” It is also not for women. And please don’t ask me, who is Bette Davis!

Men age well. They gain an air of distingue and intrigue. Women gain weight and arm themselves each day for another battle with gravity. A war they ultimately lose.

They Spanx themselves together as best as they can before embarking into the world, ass dragging and boobs searching the sidewalk like they are looking for lost quarters.

No bra too big

No skin too tight to hide the ravages of time.

Good News! There is always a way to cope with these depressing facts of life; grandchildren. One hug from my grandsons and I am immediately as young at heart as a 66-year-old man riding the Seine at midnight with a Paris model.

As one learns quickly in LA, there are certain foods that will arm one best for battle against the aging process and this week’s miracle food is beets. Supposedly it is the nuclear option for battling all the ravages of time. I am of course waiting for the day the Surgeon General announces chocolate as the cure all for all human ailments.

Until that glorious day you can find a good plastic surgeon on your own. But before you do, go hug your grandchildren. I promise it’s cheaper and totally pain free.

Here is my recipe for Garlic Sirloin Egg Rolls. ENJOY!!!!

Garlic Lovers Sirloin Egg Rolls

4 cloves of garlic roasted (or 11/2 cps of the roasted garlic in the grocery store already roasted and peeled. I buy the ones at Whole Foods olive bar)

1 cup of ground sirloin

2 packages of mushrooms

1 cups of onion chopped

1½ cups of heavy cream

½ cup of shredded provolone cheese (optional)

1 tablespoon of butter

2 tablespoons of oil

½ cup of Sherry

2 teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon thyme

Egg roll wrappers

If roasting your own garlic preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unwrap outer cover of garlic leaving heads in tact. Cut off the top portion of the head so a bit of the garlic is exposed. Smear with some olive oil and wrap garlic cloves in foil and roast them in the oven for about 45 minutes. When done, carefully remove foil and squeeze garlic out to use.

Sauté ground sirloin seasoned with salt and pepper and set aside.

Cut up mushrooms and add with onions to oil and butter in frying pan. Season with thyme and salt then sauté until soft. Add sherry and sauté until sherry is reduced about 3 minutes more.

Combine sirloin in pan with mushrooms and onions. Add garlic and mix together on low heat until heated through two minutes or so.

Remove mixture and then add 2 cups of cream to fry pan used for mushroom frying. Warm on low heat until cream thickens and can coat the back of the spoon. Add two tablespoons of roasted garlic to cream mixture and stir in well. Pour through a sieve to remove bits.

Set aside and cover to keep warm.

Spread about 1 heaping tablespoon of garlic on the egg roll wrapper at the pointed edge. This is where you can add the shredded cheese if you’d like. Roll up halfway and fold in sides and continue rolling sealing with water at the end to seal. Do not roll too loose or oil will seep in. Place on wax paper until ready to fry.

Add 1 cup of oil to a ten-inch fry pan and heat to 350.

Place egg rolls in hot oil and fry on all sides until golden brown. Don’t overfill pan of the temperature will drop and the egg rolls will be greasy. Serve hot with cream dipping sauce.

Can be a meal, appetizer or made smaller to use as an hors D’oeuvre. Can be stored by separating them with wax paper so they don’t touch when you place them in freezer.

 

 

 

 

 

Grammys Are the New Black

Grandmas don’t just say “that’s nice”– they reel back and roll their eyes and throw up their hands and smile. You get your money’s worth out of grandmas…Author unknown

I have always found it difficult to understand women who say in a distressed tone, “I can’t believe I’m going to be a grandmother.”

Sure, it’s an absolute sign you are growing older, but will being a grandmother change the passing of years? So, how better to spend those years than with your grandchildren?

Today’s Grammy is a new and improved model, hip, downward dogging and botoxed to the hilt. It is a baby boomer Grammy who rules the roost now. We are not our mothers or grandmothers and certainly don’t look the same.

We have worked, exercised, pursued noble goals and watched television go from Howdy Doody to 24 to the Real Housewives of anywhere you can think of.

We think young, so young in fact we can relate to our precious angels with a new and modern mindset.

We still bake cookies, but they are organic and sugar free.

We still play games with our toddlers, but they are on the smart phone.

We text, turn heads and remain relevant and fabulous.

We are the new black.

So what does a modern Grammy do to ensure she remains in good stead with our au currant and health-conscious children?

After all, somewhere deep inside us there is still a need for that Sara Lee brownie, some French fries and an occasional diet cherry Coke.

Young mothers today follow a set of guidelines so filled with rules and regulations, it makes filling out your income taxes a day at the beach.

Is it sugar free? Organic? Plastic without PBA, grass fed and hormone free, vegan, gluten free? The list is endless and grows by the minute.

What happened to the good old days when Toll House cookies were a necessity following a tough school day?  When a glass of milk with Hershey’s was the drink of choice and Yoo Hoo was revered by chocolate gourmets?

Did we care if our wine was filled with Flavonoids, our flour was enriched, chickens were free range or vegetables organically grown?

Now it is all about organic, environmentally correct and green clothing and toys.

Washing detergents that don’t pollute and some dubious child-rearing methods that don’t compute.

Still, one must look on with a sense of gratitude that their grandchildren are so loved and adored that our own children are putting so much effort into raising them in new ways. Ways that may ultimately create a whole new set of issues and consequences no one ever foretold or saw coming. Hopefully, they will not.

Sadly, our children haven’t yet grasped the “here one day; gone and guilty another theory” of child rearing.

When my daughter was born her pediatrician recommended a certain brand of formula.

I followed all the rules, but being a baby boomer, pseudo hippy I also had some ideas. I delivered all natural, made baby food in a blender and believed I was doing the best I possibly could to raise her in a healthy and caring fashion. After all, we claimed to be tied to the earth.

Bursting with confidence, I entered second child land self-assured.  

I spoke to the doctor about formula for my newborn son and asked if I should continue using the same I’d used for my daughter.

“Oh, no,” he said immediately. “There is way too much fat in that brand, we never recommend it anymore.”

Oops, hello guilt. Confidence just fell to the basement and I am now feeling responsible for every fat cell that may have build a condo in my daughter’s thighs.

I found refuge in the belief my homemade, healthy baby food would somehow repair my folly.

I had only listened to the doctor after all, how was I to know?

Of course my new greatest fear was that the formula I was now feeding my son would also in five years be found sorely lacking.

Motherhood is difficult. There are no manuals, but tons of books with competing methods and, of course the advice from your own parents that everyone takes with a grain of salt. After all, every generation knows better—or does it?

One would think a doctor’s counsel would be paramount in the “this can’t hurt my baby” department, but as every parent learns, medical information changes like the wind and so too the advice that’s offered.

Yet, if raising your own children was challenging, being a grandparent today creates a new set of trials.

Sadly, with aging comes less total recall, at least for some, yet grandparenting foists new rules and regulations on one constantly. My short-term memory has left the building, but I can remember the sixties better now than when I lived them.

I am often guilty of forgetting some new instruction, finding myself in hot water and in, “Mother I told you not to say it that way land.”

This is hard, like studying for finals when your dorm neighbors are partying upstairs.

What to say, how to act, what to feed, wow, there is a great deal of new data, and sadly the computer in my head cannot boot up as quickly.

Our offspring are so serious while we just want to grab our grandchildren and have them all to ourselves.

One friend told me recently she and her husband were at lunch with their grandson.

When Grandpa attempted to feed his pride and joy a piece of cake he was blocked by his daughter’s lecture on the evils of sugar.

He turned to his wife and whispered, “We’ll have him all next week when they’re on vacation then we can feed him whatever we want.”

If this sounds unfair or harsh, let me remind you all that no child ever wanted to rush to grandma’s house for celery? No kid ever bragged that my grandma makes the best quinoa or vegan cupcakes.

Point of fact, one of the joys of childhood is the knowledge that grandparents are exempt from home rules and regulations.

Visiting is entering that special land of “I am the grandchild and anything goes at Grandma’s house.”

An important part of learning about unconditional love is the understanding there is a place on earth where you are ruler of the world. You can do no wrong, and as we all know that place is at Grammy’s.

I imagine that’s why Red Riding Hood was so shocked to see a big bad wolf. No bad stuff could ever happen, because it’s the ultimate “all-about-me zone.”

As an enlightened, yet frequently confused grandmother, I have attempted to live within the guidelines, at least when I could remember them. I have tried to redo my cooking to include more healthy versions of my children’s favorites.

These newly “greened up” recipes help, but don’t you kind of want to occasionally bake that yummy chip filled cookie for your little angels and serve them up a giant glass of cold milk (cows not almonds), read them a Grimm fairy tale then let them watch a Road Runner cartoon with you? 

Today’s kids will grow up shopping at Whole Foods (whole paycheck) and believing you have to sell half your stock portfolio to go to a grocery store.

However, at the end of the day, perhaps this may be a case of the egg teaching the chicken. Our kids do deserve the benefit of the doubt. We did.

Ironic if our grandchildren subsequently offer up a whole new set of rules for our great grandchildren, and wouldn’t it be ironic if it were the old ones we lived by?

Lox and Bagel Bites

2 cucumbers

1 tub whipped cream cheese

1 tablespoon finely chopped sweet onion

½ cup nova lox cut up

Bagel chips

1 hard boiled egg optional

Cut cucumbers in 1-inch circles

Hollow out seeds and pat dry and set aside

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 hard boiled egg and capers on top.

Great appetizers for a brunch or a snack anytime.

Welcome to My World

Thanks for joining me on this journey through the recesses of my crazy life and crazier mind. If I’ve learned anything from living it is that it’s all so much easier if you can take existence with a teaspoon of chocolate and a sense of humor. After all is said and done, I guess life is really easy, but people make it hard. I strive daily to make it easier by laughing at the absurd, feeling compassion for the struggling and opening my heart to humanity. I wish all my readers, love laughter and all their wishes fulfilled.

“The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter…” Mark Twain