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

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Are We There Yet, Mommy?

Are We There Yet, Daddy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So how will we ever get back to normal?

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

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

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

So what will replace the old world?

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what’s changed? Plenty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   Champagne Grape and Almond Chicken

4 chicken breasts or boneless thighs

flour for dusting

½ cup of champagne

½ cup seedless red grapes

½ cup seedless green grapes

½ cup sliced almonds

½ cup of chopped celery or bok choy

1 ½ cups of heavy cream

½ teaspoon of tarragon

salt and pepper

Season chicken with salt and pepper and dust with flour

Sauté chicken in a mix of butter and oil until done

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

Remove chicken and set aside

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Lelli’s Like Minestrone

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

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

 

 

 

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.