Why Didn’t Samantha Divorce Darrin? What Was She Thinking?



Darrin Stephens was the worst husband ever! Sadder even was Samantha’s complete acquiescence to his demanding and irrational behavior toward who and what she was.

Sadly, when I was a child I failed to grasp the subtle messages inherent in the Bewitched series, one of the more popular television shows of its era. Television was our social media and our influencers were the characters on our favorite shows each week. No wonder we bought the hype of the times and in the end paid a price.

Oh sure Darrin came off as a long suffering mortal with a witch of a mother-in-law, but who was really the villain in this scenario? And didn’t Endora have good reason to despise her misogynistic son-in-law?

Samantha’s desire to live within the rules set by her tyrant of a husband still leave me speechless.

In one episode she is cleaning the oven when Endora enters the kitchen and is quite perturbed to see her daughter doing housework.

Endora’s disgust is totally understandable, but Samantha’s contentment with her housewifely duties is also quite shocking.

If one sees her behavior as a lark and enjoying living the life of a mortal woman, well okay, I imagine we can all understand that mindset. We can also understand that any woman in her right mind would be thrilled to twitch her nose and a second later witness a sparkling house with no effort. Now I don’t know about you but if I could zap my stove clean, scrub the floors or have the dirty laundry show up clean and folded in the drawers, I’d opt for that solution in a New York minute.

However, the fact the real theme of Bewitched is not that Darrin Stephens married a witch, but that he was constantly and angrily forcing her to abandon her nature and behave as a mortal is what frosts my cookies. His constant reminders that he is the “King” of his castle are enough to make a modern woman puke and cast him as one of the most reprehensible characters in television history.

Unless of course her magic suits his purposes and then it is welcomed. Can you say hypocrite?

The message here goes much deeper than simply Samantha choosing to live a mortal life.

It is a man dominating a woman and forbidding her to be who she is. Simply perpetrating the myth that women are subservient to men.

Sounds like the fifties to me.

Darrin’s constant rants about being the head of the household and demanding she stop using witchcraft, becomes more egregious when his daughter is born a witch and he then outlaws her nature as well. Sadly, it is hard to watch for it takes me back to a time when women were expected to do the bidding of their husbands and act as society deemed a proper wife should, cleaning, cooking and childcare. 

I am absolutely not saying those are not wonderfully virtuous aspects of a woman’s life, but it should be her choice. No one should diminish any choice a woman makes that will fulfill her and make her happy.

Samantha was a witch and as such she was privy to powers and abilities far greater than ordinary women could imagine.

Yet Darrin insisted over and over in a rather screeching tone by the way, she not use her powers or simply put, just be who she is.

At this point I must stress that I am well aware it was a comedy and make believe, and no I don’t believe in witches, but of course Tinkerbell is another issue.

Yet the theme of the show, husband against wife or witch, his power over her powers and her inability to be herself and have to sneak around just to be her true self, is yet another reason women of the fifties were brainwashed into such behavior. Of course there is always Lucy who wants to be in Ricky’s show and need I say more?

This is not comedy to women who were raised in a time when their opportunities were limited to what society and their father’s felt was appropriate for women. Raised in a home where women were expected to be no more than wives and mothers and a daughter’s duty was to get her MRS degree and provide her parents with grandchildren and a successful husband I can speak firsthand of the damage these attitudes can inflict.

A man demanding we be something other than what we were, denying our visions or dreams for ourselves and having to bow to the male order sentenced too many women to failure to live up to their potential and achieve their dreams. 

Watching reruns of this show I wince at his very vocal demands that Samantha bend to his will.

Perhaps even sadder is the fact Samantha continues to use her powers behind Darrin’s back. That he hates his mother-in-law because she simply wants her daughter to be who she truly is and have the life she was raised to enjoy is selfish and petty.

Samantha’s desire to live mortally feels hollow in that she continues to use her powers and thus has not truly committed to a life without witchcraft. Is a good marriage one that has both partners hiding and sneaking around to do the things they enjoy, but the other forbids? 

Using her abilities proves she is comfortable with her own self and is only bowing to his demands to please him. This is even sadder that a woman would deny herself to appease a man.

During the fifties and early sixties women in sitcoms were powerless and had to resort to sneaky tactics to achieve their will. I believe “Father Knows Best” says it all.

This lesson was never lost on young girls watching and believing the husband rules and women must be clever and hide their true self.

It was the Darrin Stephens of the world that set the women’s movement back by years. Watching a woman as attractive as Elizabeth Montgomery married to a dork like Dick York is tough enough to buy, but the fact she is capable of twitching her nose to improve her life and change the world and is forbidden to do so is just sad.

Darrin Stephens is just representative of how women were held back and chained to a paradigm that forbade them freedom of choice over their own lives.

Young women today would never tolerate such weakness in their role models. Although the women’s movement made a great first effort, it failed to take into account the fact that some women did choose to be housewives and mothers and this was their prerogative as well. Whatever lifestyle a woman wants she should be able to select for herself.

Women have shown time and again they are very capable of multi tasking their lives. Of course one’s priorities should be in the right places and hopefully the things that truly matter will always be in the forefront. Yet it is not fair to tell a woman how to live, what to choose or what she is capable of in this world. No one should be a Darrin Stephens and dictate who one should be.

Unconditional love and acceptance is what we strive to find in this life and I can definitely tell you it didn’t exist on Bewitched

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Sound Bites from Memory Hell and NBC

      Sound Bites from Memory Hell and NBC

Wally Cleaver died!

Wally who you ask? Well if you did and you are a Baby Boomer you either grew up without a television or lived on Mars.

Anyone who existed before the advent of color TV knows Wally was the Beaver’s brother, or as some may also know him, Eddie Haskell’s best friend.

Tony Dow was only 77 years old, and no I can’t believe I would ever put the word only in front of 77 years old, and he’s certainly left me feeling mortal. Yet incredibly nostalgic for the great old shows I loved as a kid.

When I remember childhood so much excitement and comfort existed within the confines of that box in the living room playing moving pictures. This new and awesome friend became the babysitter, entertainer and object of amazement as we sat, eyes glued and sucking in the wonder.

The shock of growing older is stifled by the amazing ability we humans have to live in a permanent state of denial about aging. Unless we are faced with an-in-your-face situation like illness or we trip over our own boob when we remove our bra, we can pretty much go along believing we are still in our thirties and all life lies ahead.

Please do not for one moment think I’m surprised a celebrity could die. I do not labor under the delusion that because you’ve been on television or starred on the big screen you are immortal. Although, actually in a crazy sense you are and our favorite shows provide a sense of that earth-standing-still mentality. Characters and plots, always constant offer some feeling of assurance things haven’t really changed despite the reality that exists when we turn away from our television screen.

So many programs have casts now gone to celebrity heaven. Their only problem is there are no agents in heaven and therefore no multi million-dollar deals. Too sad, yet residuals aside I’m certain we’d all be happy to know that Samantha is still tweaking her nose, The Golden Girls are still listening to Rose’s St. Olaf stories and Roy Rogers and Trigger are still catching the bad guys.

Soupy Sales is throwing pies at the angels, Granny Clampett is still swimming in the ceement pond and Barney Fyfe is screwing up and getting haircuts from Floyd the Barber. Ozzie Nelson never leaves the house to go to work, Perry Mason always has the killer on the stand five minutes before the end of the show, Ben Cartwright has four grown, unmarried sons living with him on the Ponderosa, The Twilight Zone is creeping everyone out and Groucho Marks is still smoking a cigar and waiting for the duck to drop down. Oh yes, Father Knows Best, Jack Benny is playing that violin and The Real McCoys still are. Maverick is playing poker and looking damn good, Donna Reed is making oatmeal at eight in the morning in a silk shirtwaist, heels and pearls. (Yeah, like that ever happened in real life. My mother was still in her nightgown when I got home from school). 

Dobie Gillis is chasing women and Maynard G. Krebs is still allergic to work. Dick Clark is at the bandstand looking twenty-five, never aging and introducing Frankie Avalon. Danny Thomas is hoping to Make Room for DaddyDeath Valley still is, Bugs Bunny is dressing up with a mop on his head and lipstick to entice the Tasmanian Devil and the Naked City never got dressed. Wagon Train is heading west and Chester is limping on Gunsmoke while Miss Kitty wears those feather boas around her neck. Jack Webb is getting “just the facts, Mam” on Dragnet, Ralph Cramden is driving a bus and Norton is addressing the ball on The Honeymooners. We always love Lucy although she still has some splainin to do.

The Flying Nun hasn’t landed, and believe it or not the professor can figure out how to make a radio, but not how to fix the boat so they all remain on Gilligan’s Island.

That Girl lives in an expensive New York apartment and dresses in couture while working part time, and Hogan’s Heroes are outwitting the Germans because Shultz “knows nothing.”

Jeannie walks around with her navel uncovered and sleeps in a bottle, Mission Impossible still is and on Green Acres Eva Gabor dresses every day for an inaugural ball and possessed the first Glam Squad. Get Smart is hanging out in the cone of silence and Petticoat Junction is well, yeah, right. Colombo, like every real-life detective figures out the killer in the first two minutes and Beep Beep Rosie is cleaning The Jetsons’ house. And when is she coming to clean mine already?

Sky King is flying around heaven and Uncle Miltie is dressing up as a woman and making us all laugh. Buddy Sorrell is insulting Mel Cooley while Laura Petrie is yelling, “Oh Rob”.

The Brady Bunch is surrounded by avocado green appliances and wood paneled rooms, My Favorite Martian is living with Bill Bixby and moving his head antenna up and down unable to leave earth. Lassie is saving Timmy and Lois Lane hasn’t figured out the guy she’s in love with is really Clark Kent. Sid Caesar does the best fake accents anywhere on Your Show of Shows and Gracie Allen is a lovable airhead while George just smokes his cigar and patiently grins. Red Skelton is still Clem Kadiddlehopper, Our Miss Brooks is unsuccessfully lusting after Mr. Boynton and Abbot and Costello are asking, “Who’s on first?”

My Little Margie is driving her dad Charlie Farrell and his boss Mr. Honeywell crazy which is why Farrell went on to open The Racket Club in Palm Springs when land there was five dollars an acre. December Bride is living with her children while they search to find her a husband and Liberace is still in the closet sporting a candelabra for some additional class.

Ernie Kovacs’ wackiness and brilliance remains greatly missed by all and  I Married Joan introduced Jim Backus who went on be Mr. Magoo and Thurston Howell the III. Mr. Peepers is a shy science professor who’s not as scatterbrained as people think, and Fury is still a magnificent black stallion.

Red Buttons is singing Hidiho and F Troop can’t find their way out of a paper bag. The Life of Riley still is and Ann Southern continues to be a very Private SecretaryTopper remains plagued with ghosts and an alcoholic St. Bernard and The Millionaire’s Michael Anthony refuses to drop off my check. 

Yo Rinty! Need I add more? 

The Bob Cummings Show has Alice B. Davis madly in love with her boss but getting nowhere, which is probably why she left and became Alice on The Brady Bunch.

Sgt. Bilko is the best con man in any man’s army and actually managed to get a monkey, Harry Speak Up inducted. Lest we ever forget Sheena Queen of the Jungle or how no week could ever begin properly without The Ed Sullivan Show

But of course no list of great shows could ever be complete without the Mouse. I had my ears ready every day while Jimmy Dodd and Big Roy led the Mouseketeers through the theme of that day’s show. My favorite was Friday when Spin and Marty at the Double R Bar RanchAnnette and all fun series were featured. Although, Anything-Can-Happen Day on Wednesdays was pretty damn good stuff too.

I know I’ve left some oldies but goodies out so you could fill in your favorites. Please send me any I’ve forgotten and your thoughts on those shows. Hey! Why do I have to do all the work here? Just kidding, I love remembering all the happy moments these shows brought into my life as a kid and even today. I hope I just brought some new smiles to you.

A Special Thank You to Old Friends

A Special Thank You to Old Friends

It’s been quite a shockeroo getting older. Although I’m grateful to still be at the party, my feet really hurt from dancing. I’ve gained a bit of experience good and bad and that has led to many truths I now embrace.

One of the realizations I’ve come to is that despite time and distance, we need to care about and keep in touch with old friends.

The laugh laugh golden years are as scary a place to enter as the New York subway,. We seek comfort in this new uncharted world and one sure place to which we can turn for help is old friends.

Memories become so fickle when your brain becomes the arbiter of what we are able to remember. 

“Excuse me, brain what did I do last week?”

“Sorry, can’t compute right now. However do you remember when you were in high school and you went to that concert with your friends and drove to Canada and…?”

“No, Brain. I’m trying to recall what I did last Thursday not a hundred years ago.”

“Bossy bossy, don’t push your luck here. Take what you can get. Your request will take a few minutes to pull up, meanwhile here’s a fun gem from your sorority initiation.”

“Great, thanks, brain. Just what I need to cheer me up, a visual of me at twenty.”

As these older memories become more prevalent, old friends rise to the forefront of our minds. It somehow feels good to recall happy, carefree times and the friends with whom we shared them.

As we’re making an appointment for our knee surgery, it’s comforting to call an old friend that has survived that battle. And while you’re chatting good memories surface to dispel the unpleasantness of reality. 

I never thought I would have anything in common with Lindsey Wagner except being female, but now it seems we are both bionic.

The last few years have been brutal for most of us occupying planet earth. Locked down, shut in and unable to travel or see grandchildren has taken a toll on the happiness factor to which we all aspire.

Even the most optimistic of us can’t ignore or rebuff the realities of growing older. Taking ten minutes to straighten up from a chair when once we jumped up and ran. Marching into surgery centers to get replacement parts that are done with such automated precision General Motors is envious. Finding fat where muscle once occupied space in our bodies becomes apparent when a good wind perfectly directed at our underarms can turn us into the Flying Nun. The fun amusement park of growing older has more rides than Hunter Biden has drugs.

A friend admitted recently that she is now perfectly content to be home more. Where once she would seek to be active and out in the world she is content to be safe in her cocoon and needn’t travail the outside world as often. I could relate. 

Yet when we are home, despite all efforts to keep our minds busy with activities like, streaming, reading, cooking, chatting on the phone with friends, and how we failed to save the world for democracy, we have more time to think about “the good old days,” and those with whom we traveled that road. 

Shared memories can lighten the load of a difficult day. Remembering happy times brightens what might be a sad time when you learn a friend is ill or you lose someone. For just a moment while we are talking we become young once more and still filled with those awe-and-wonder feelings of youth.

Of course we all determine to keep busy and active. To make the most of every minute and live in a state of gratitude, thankful for our blessings, but when life throws us a curveball old friends are there to catch it before it hits you in the head.

I’m not in any way suggesting we live in the past, but let’s be real; the past contains a lot of years and a lot of memories. Moments that make us feel warm and cozy and contain laughter and the joys of youth. What a great feeling if even for a few minutes that young and carefree shared happiness returns and brightens our lives.

So many of us now leave the holiday cooking to our daughters or daughters in law to achieve. Standing in the kitchen has become a chore not so easily accomplished and we’re happy to pass the torch to our children.

Still those pre-holiday times remain a time of joyous memories. My friend Marsha and I would talk on the phone while preparing mashed potato dumplings. Chatting and laughing made the time pass quicker, and the task of cooking for thirty people less tedious. Now at holiday time speaking to Marcia brings back the happy feeling of the family all together again, parents, in laws and even husbands that are no longer here. For even a brief conversation everyone is once again alive and sharing a holiday meal.

Old friends can give this gift to us, the remembrance of a time when those who’ve left are once again at the forefront of our happiest memories. Places we haunted as kids, schools we attended and old neighborhood foods and faces return. 

The challenges of getting older seem easier when shared. As any difficult task many hands make quick work and it’s comforting to know those whom you trust have the audacity to face Father Time head on. 

Putting up a sukkah with friends was quite an occasion each year and now the feel of autumn while talking to Yolanda brings those memories close. An over abundance of food, the smell of the branches, watching in my mind’s eye as my children, now young again, place the leaves on the walls as the crisp autumn air encircles them in a blanket of laughter and love.

I was lucky to have so many friends I cared and still care about. Although my childhood friend Nancy is in Florida a Facetime call brings her into the same room to laugh and gossip about our crowd. Okay, and good practice at ignoring the now-evident wrinkles.

I suppose I’m the overly sentimental type but I know when I speak to old friends time slips away like a curtain and pictures of wonderful times reappear.

I imagine we all wonder what it would be like to pick one moment to relive once again, yet all of these times are available by simply sharing them through a phone call or Facetime. Perhaps this is the universe’s gift to us and as far as I can see it seems to be working just fine. 

No Yin to Soften the Yang; Maybe America Needs a Royal Family


No Yin to Soften the Yang

Maybe America Needs a Royal Family

Life is a process and must possess a delicate balance. The Chinese expression yin and yang has always referred to the state of being that creates a fulfilling and stable life.

Sadly in today’s world chaos and insanity are out of proportion and out of control.

So what does this mean for individuals that seek happiness and contentment, that long for equilibrium?

Well one could look to England for inspiration. Just go with me here for a minute.

In 1960 the United States found itself in a new position. That young family in the White House was not simply the first couple, but for the first time the closest thing to royalty in United States history. Now of course our forefathers, who in their infinite wisdom foresaw the dangers of a monarchy were probably correct. Even George Washington was loath to be President because he thought it might too closely resemble a kingship. Okay, so they gave us Uncle Sam as a consolation prize and he’s a favorite, unless he’s been cancelled, I’m not sure.

Yet look at the facts. The Kennedy dynasty’s indiscretions, with a patriarch far less than noble, were pretty much kept under wraps. With no Internet information access was in quite a different state. The Kennedy brothers’ reputations as womanizers weren’t acknowledged and American people only saw a young, elegant and beautiful couple to admire and hold in high esteem.

When Jackie went to France and captivated the French by speaking their language then enthralled De Gaulle and Khrushchev, we watched proudly. This was our first lady and probably the closest thing to a queen America would ever know. Ah, Camelot was alive and well in D.C..

Americans felt a deep sense of pride over the Kennedys. Her sophistication, elegance and style rubbed off and every woman wanted a pillbox hat or a Jackie style suit. Women copied her hairstyle and men were in awe of her beauty; women by her grace and femininity. We were thrilled to be able to say, “That’s our President and First Lady.” They rivaled any stars in Hollywood and of course we weren’t aware he was sleeping with one.

Of course we all know things have changed dramatically. We no longer view politicians as anything but subhuman and we hold no illusions. Our repulsion returns each November when we are forced to cast a vote for either bad or horrible and those of us who remember the age of innocence are saddened. Oh to be dumb once more.

So I imagine that’s why many Americans are so possessed with the British Royal family. Yes, I’ll say it, “they look to the Queen as their rock and their comfort and in bad times she is there.” She’s the Mom of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, strong, tough and never veers off course. No matter what chaos reigns around her she steadfastly faces it down. She’s the Queen and they are her loyal subjects.

She brings some stability even when their politicians behave like, well politicians, and act reprehensively and corruptly. They have the Queen to fall back on. It is Her Majesty’s government after all. 

Who can Americans look to when our politicians make us sicker to our stomachs than a night of binge drinking and downing tacos? No one! We can’t look to our Queen to reassure us all is well in the kingdom when it is far from that.

So we are forced to face this new reality alone without a monarch. 

Horrifying suicide rates, rising crime, inflation and having to sell your house to fill your gas tank. What does this do to a person’s psyche?

When I was younger life seemed easier. Despite difficult times one could look forward to a happy occasion or event to take the edge off. There were weddings, confirmations, sweet sixteens, holiday gatherings and other upbeat events to allow one to forget the sadness of the week. 

The last three years in the world there has been an overabundance of yang with no ying to soften the blow.

We have been cut off from the world and even now attending parties or events comes at a risk. 

The world is always changing and yet humans could cope by depending on the comfort of a happy time to ease the difficulty of a crisis. We need more joy, more parties, perhaps although it will never happen, our own Queen. 

Many have ventured out into the world deciding against allowing the forces of evil to impede their ability to live a full life. This has worked out well for some and not so much for others, but risk assessment is an individual’s prerogative.

So I guess we’re on our own here in the USA. By the way there is a rumor Uncle Sam has COVID so we may be out of luck there, too.

We’re All Human and Other Lies



            We’re All Human and Other Lies 


I can’t count how many times in my life I’ve heard someone say, “We’re all human.”

I am now compelled after a lifetime of experience with these so-called humans to question seriously that assumption. 

The most basic question I ask is in what regard do we refer to Homo sapiens as human. They are classified as the “wise human” and include man.

Is it a biological classification or a psychological one?

This I would stress is the ultimate question of that assessment and I seriously question the whole “wise” definition here.

If one is to classify all Homo sapiens as human simply in body function and structure than I suppose I’d have to agree the phrase is accurate.

However if it implies we all have the same psychological and mental qualities I must argue the point strenuously.

And here’s why…because one walks upright and isn’t swinging from a tree doesn’t mean one is in any way a human being.

If we qualify human behavior as acting rationally, kindly and within the limitations of society’s norms, the argument falls flat.

Many four legged creatures are more evolved than many two legged ones and I defy anyone to argue the point.

We are all led to believe that those who commit evil acts are deep down in some way really human beings that have been led astray by their environment or life’s circumstances. So we are supposed to be forgiving of their horrible behavior and acts of terror.

This is a serious misconception on our parts.

So many are brought into this world under devastating and difficult circumstances and rise above to achieve greatness and contribute to mankind.

Others pick up a gun or an axe and kill with no remorse.

Yet there are those who insist they are misunderstood or to be pitied and to this I must argue vehemently that there are only two choices that really count in the end; has one chosen good or evil in their lives? 

This is the basis for free will, but I have to add that the concept of free will is somewhat flawed. One doesn’t possess free will if freedom is withdrawn.  Too many live in totalitarian regimes or in slavery even in today’s world that inhibits free choice, but when it comes to the soul no one can enslave that which we and we alone possess. Even those who are incarcerated have the choice to seek a higher morality within the confines of prison walls.

I use the word choice because it is truly just that.

It isn’t easy to be a good person all the time. To refrain from feelings of anger, hurt, or to resist grabbing a sale item out of another’s hands at a black Friday sale.

Most people who are honest will tell you they have days when life tests them to the limits of their endurance. Life will do that to us all.

When we see someone walk into a school and kill children and teachers we would all love to get a piece of him, but our better natures prevail because that is our choice. We must allow society to mete out justice lest we fall back into a wild-west mentality despite conjuring up visions of a public stoning. (I must admit I really have a hard time with the stoning thing when politicians blubber on).

Being human is a tough gig. We are all faced with tough and horrific challenges each day. Loss, adversity, sorrow, death, illness, stupidity, incompetence, Congress, the Johnny Depp Amber Herd trial, Harry and Meghan, waiting a year for the next installment of the Mandalorian and how much can anyone take?

Human beings rise to the challenge and do it with compassion and when needed, humor. So what’s a human being to do when life turns on you and tests you to your limits?

However, unfortunately there are some who choose to forego their humanity, become instead animals and choose evil. Should we still call them human or face the reality there are some among us who choose to be otherwise and do not fit the profile?

‘Were all human is merely a designation of a species for it cannot possibly account for those that share only the skeleton with those who are human in a true sense.

Walking upright does not make one a human being, the right choices and a heart that feels love and compassion in lieu of merely beating to deliver blood is what separates us and always will.

Perhaps it is the word human we all have some ambivalence about. There might be a new classification for those who should not be placed in the same species as those who live their lives decently and with honor. Yet the definition of human seems to be up for grabs in many quarters today. Perhaps we must all decide what acting human truly entails.

We may be at odds at times about what classifies one as human, but evil is easily defined. There are no excuses, no reasons, no rhyme for those who commit atrocities, and to assume we are all human may be the first mistake we are making. Species classification is not the measure of a man, deeds and actions are. To be human is an often challenging, yet remarkably satisfying choice too many fail to opt for in today’s world.

We do not have X-ray vision or the ability to look inside another’s soul and see what evil may lurk beneath the surface, but we can see within ourselves.

Our choice to be human is a personal decision we all make each day and we can take pride in knowing it’s the right one.  

What to do When Your Dream Comes True

What To Do When Your Dream Comes True?

  What do you do when a dream comes true? Is there more than one way to deal with the realization that something you’ve strived for and sacrificed to accomplish is now in the rearview mirror of life’s highway? Should we be happy, sad, anxious, at peace or feeling a million other emotions jolting through us like electrical charges? To all of the above I say yes.

We all work toward goals that are clearly laid out on the drafting table of our mind’s eye, yet it seems when they finally materialize they are never exactly like the picture we’ve stared at for years. When there is fulfillment of a dream, it almost always is a bit different than we imagined and usually far better than what we’d conjured. Why is that? Shouldn’t it be exactly as we planned? It happened, but why is it different than we envisioned? We never foresaw that part of the dream or that wonderful addition or twist.

We hear the words and we do hear them often, you must never give up on your dreams. Trite clichés like teamwork makes the dream work and quitters never win and winners never quit keep us moving forward in the blind belief we can control the final outcome. And there’s the rub. Because we do get the outcome, but it’s far better than we planned. Shouldn’t it be perfectly perfect in every way? Who changed it and made it even better than we ourselves could ever imagine? What cosmic force interfered and took our dream and colored outside of our lines. Sure the infrastructure is still there, but the building is far more grand and beautiful than our blueprints.

If it’s true that what man can conceive he can achieve shouldn’t we just simply loosen up a bit? Is the reason some feel a certain letdown after realization of a goal because they simply don’t know where they should be heading next? Or have they driven so long in one direction they can’t imagine a different one. If there is some sort of destiny running alongside us in our quest, why must we embrace the burden fully? Perhaps it is for that very reason that fate rides along with us to simply see how dedicated we are and whether or not our dreams should fall short or be far greater than expected.

Is it merely a case of the smaller the dream the fewer enhancements it should be afforded? Or is every dream worthy of the same grand gesture from our better angels? So I pose a simple question: is the amount of effort we put into a dream what determines how much fate contributes to the outcome? Or is the amount of struggle and disappointment the catalyst for all the help? Is the amount destiny contributes a result of other disappointments and failures coming back to add to our joy over this one success? And if that’s the case why do so many people never realize their dreams but are instead thrust onto a totally different life path?

I’m not quite certain about the answers to these questions because it seems certain knowledge can never be made available and although we believe we have it all worked out, we usually don’t. I suppose there are people who achieve a dream and say, “Okay now that’s done so I can relax and play golf.” But there are also others who feel once a dream has been accomplished it only means another one begins. It is in essence a piggyback effect and leads to new chapters and adventures, perhaps never before imagined. We can never be quite certain of where a moment might lead. Small choices that may seem irrelevant to our journey can in fact be the very thing that propels us into the place we’ve struggled to reach.

One hears stories of how a simple act like making a wrong turn or getting into the wrong elevator can create an opportunity to achieve a goal long abandoned. So maybe dreams once dreamt are really never forgotten and are always possible despite our own choices.
When I was a comedian I dreamed of being on the Tonight Show. To receive a visit from the suits at NBC was the goal of every jokester that stood on a stage. Thirty-six years later I got the call and made it to NBC not because of my comedy, but because of an appearance on the Food Network. So was my comedy inconsequential to my journey or only one wheel on the vehicle that would drive me forward to success? It wasn’t the Tonight Show, it wasn’t a sitcom, it wasn’t anything I ever could have imagined and yet all the things I’d done in my life led up to the moment I entered Universal Studios and saw the Peacock emblem.

Was it what I’d imagined, heavens no. It was an experience far greater than my own limited dreams could take me. And now I must try to imagine the next stop on the journey after the detour I’ve just realized. So am I unique, not at all. If I had a dollar, even with the inflation this bad, for every time I heard someone say, “what happened was far beyond my wildest dreams,” I’d be richer than the Kardashians.

So in truth I must admit, it was, far greater that is. Would I still like to have had a moment with Johnny Carson? Of course. We don’t just stop caring about our goals although they’ve been surpassed and turned out differently than imagined. But I know now that it was the quest to be on the Tonight Show that led me to Baking It and the enhanced dream. There are always pitfalls, letdowns and disappointments on the road to achievement , but when success finally arrives it brings with it a sense of wonder and fulfillment far greater than can be imagined.

In the end I suppose one might say the powers that be usually want more for us than we want for ourselves, and in the end they do have the power after all.

Good luck with your dreams and let 2022 be the year you achieve, and believe it can be even greater than you ever imagined.  

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reality Versus Me; No Contest

  • cornsouffle

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

     lemondropcookies    

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.