Funny Peculiar? Or Funny Ha Ha?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pistachio Fig Mandalcotti

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of oil

3 eggs

1 tablespoon of vanilla

1 teaspoon of baking powder

½ teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of cinnamon

3 ¼ cups of flour

1 ½ cups of chopped figs

1 ½ cups of chopped shelled pistachio nuts

Preheat oven to 350

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

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

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

Add figs and nuts

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

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

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

 

 

Eating for Two and Lazy Grammy Bobka Hack

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you going to finish that sandwich and fries?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lazy Grammy Bobka Hack

This is great to make with your grandchildren!

Yields two Bobkas

2 loaves of frozen Challah

Two fillings you can use either

First filling instant hazelnut spread or chocolate spread.

Second option homemade chocolate filling

Filling ingredients

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

½ cup of unsweetened cocoa

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

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon of butter or margarine

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

1 egg and water for wash

Grease bread loaf pan or cookie sheet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENJOY and prepare to be amazed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Chakras are Loose From all the Shaking in LA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is so typical of California.

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

Fires ready to go?”

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

A friend’s husband said he saw homeless people flying into people’s homes and the homeowners flying out.

Nothing would surprise me in this state.

So that brings us back to chakras and the need for a realigning.

I lived my entire life with my chakras happy where they were and now I find myself with chakras that are loose, out of whack and in desperate need of regrounding. And since they come in colors there was a problem with the whole hue thing as well. And have you seen the prices in California for chakra realignments. Highest in the nation! Bummer.

I am completely expecting that next time I have to take my car in for a smog check the DMV will include a notice that I can’t drive again until I have evidence of my chakra realignment.

Sure, anything to make a buck off the taxpayers in this state.

So by now you might be asking, as I did by the way, what the heck is a chakra and how do you line and color them? According to whoever is the authority of everything on Google, the seven chakras are the centers in our bodies that energy flows through. Blocked energy in our seven chakras can often lead to illness, so it’s important to understand what each chakra represents and what we can do to keep this energy flowing freely. They come in colors like red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and white. It’s sort of a rainbow happening inside where each color is a type of vibration or frequency. Colors may vary but the rainbow thing is set in stone.

 

Now here’s the thing, I haven’t a clue. I think from what I’ve been told they exist in your body and ground you to the earth.

Sort of like an invisible deadbolt that prevents you from flying off into space or something.

But I guess they are pretty serious stuff because if they are off, so are you. Like when Mercury is in retrograde and you may as well hide until it unretrogrades.

The world starts to feel yucky and out of sorts and you are all over the place and most importantly your peace of mind goes to pieces.

And that explains a great deal. No wonder this state is so nuts with chakras flying around and coming undone all the time. I totally expect even more so in Sacramento than anywhere else. Aha, crazy California politics makes more sense to me now. Their brains are scrambled from all the movement and coming unfastened. I don’t think there are enough clamps in the universe to fasten the brains of a Sacramento politician.

Sure my chakras are shot, but what the heck since I’m the only one affected by the problem, but the other crazies, well that’s a chakra of a different color.

So before you travel to the Golden State, perhaps a good chakra check would be in order. You don’t want to be floating free in LA. Someone may be filming.

I checked Yelp and there is no category for chakra alignments so it’s hard to know what the ratings would be or where to go for the best deals or service.

When I was young before I was aware that my life was dependent on a rainbow of colors inside, we called people who were a little off, well, a little off actually.

If we’d known they could get a simple realignment it would have explained a great deal about crazy Aunt Esther or unhinged Uncle Max.

But whatever the reason for loose chakras it seems fixing them is far more important than we thought.

So I wish you all an organized rainbow and now I have to go duct tape my chakras to the floor because I’m feeling a bit of rolling here.

 

Apple Cheddar Chicken Soup

 

1 chicken breast

2 apples gala or Fuji or your preference

1 cup carrot chopped

1 cup shredded cheddar

2 cups chicken bouillon

1 cup of heavy cream

1 tablespoon butter

1 chopped carrot for garnish

1 cup bacon for garnish

Salt and pepper

Core and peel apples and sauté in butter with the carrots until soft. Season with salt and pepper and cook chicken until soft, shred and set aside.

Add bouillon to apples and carrots and simmer for ten minutes on low. Add cream and then cheddar and melt in and then taste for salt and pepper. Add shredded chicken and heat all together, on low for three minutes. Do not boil.

Serve with some carrots and bacon on top for garnish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bring on those dirty little Hands—Microfiber is the new plastic cover

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           “Bring on those dirty little Hands—Microfiber is the new plastic cover.”

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

One that I recently discovered was the Grandma Décor Dilemma.

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

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

But now we have microfiber.

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

A new practically indestructible fabric that vaguely resembles suede, resists stains and was definitely designed with Grandmas in mind.

I am smiling just remembering the past when valuables were secured and safely ensconced in high-placed locked boxes more inaccessible than a Kardashian’s IQ.

The more mobile the baby, the greater the makeover. Toddlers reaching for tabletop items can be swift and sure and move like lightening. As is often the case you hear the crash before you see the move. The living room becomes an urban jungle fraught with danger at every turn.

Sure that crystal dish looked innocent enough when Aunt Rosie gave it to you for your wedding shower, but now it is suddenly a sparkly missile crashing toward earth as two innocent little eyes delight in the power they possess to make that “funny” crashing sound.

Minimalist décor became the code word for “oops there are babies in the house, better clear those spaces and prepare for the charge.”

I recall the tumult of more toys than Santa’s workshop covering every inch of floor space, while I daydreamed of house beautiful.

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

A place when I could display my crystal and fine pieces openly and free them from their storage prisons.

Lalique, Daum, Waterford would dance across my dreams carrying rainbows of champagne and canapés onto regally appointed tablescapes.

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

My first post little-ones-on-board home was filled with white sofas, glass tables and matching towels in the guest bathroom. Ah, all those forbidden fruits of décor. What fun!

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

Ah, but then the tide turned once more. Suddenly a new arrival signaled the end of all that opulence, splendor and elegance.

“He” had arrived, my first precious grandson. Suddenly it was all about Sesame Street plastic dishes and tippee cups, organic cloths and toys, and green smoothies with unknown ingredients for a healthier lifestyle.

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

Once again my life was rife with toy-filled corners, empty tabletops and baby stepstools.

My friends and I now discussed how to make room for storage cabinets and redo a bedroom with a toddler theme. New colors and design that were the rage in babyville replaced the latest fashion, new boutique opening, vacation spot or Pilates injury.

Our Iphones overflowed with the latest photos of smiling faces in Halloween pumpkin costumes, petting zoos and hugging grandma pics.

Our car backseats sported baby car seats and books and toys were shoved into seat pockets.

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

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

A new vibe was apparent at our regular lunches.

Toys, pictures and brilliant baby quotes took center stage and things had definitely changed. It was toddler town now and we were all proud residents reveling in our new roles.

We wore the name grandma as proudly as a woman wears couture and shamelessly bragged while repeating baby stories ad nauseum.

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

It had finally happened—we were grandmas—and our homes had gone from high style to safety zones.

I found a few fun tips for decorating a grandchild’s room I‘d like to share.

 

Since storage is not as crucial, there is more room to be creative with space.

Painted dressers in themes can be made from unfinished furniture cabinets or an old chest found in a resale store. Two or three smaller cabinets can be put together and painted on the front.

Pop-up books opened and attached in a line make great cornices over a blind. Or they also can be used in shadow boxes to hang as pictures.

Garage sales glean an endless assortment of toys to fill a toy box or use as décor.

Fabric stores often offer the latest cartoon or television characters in fabric that can be used to sew on bath towels or sheets for a personalized flair.

Wrapping paper can be a great source for the latest pop art characters.

Cutting cartoon figures out of the paper and hanging them on the wall as a mural or border is an inexpensive and fun way to add your grandchild’s favorites to the décor.

In the end it’s all about making our little darlings feel safe and comfortable at Grandma’s house. And isn’t that what every Grammy wants?

So until the day I can once again pull out the good china and glass nick knacks from their bubble wrapped boxes, I shall be quite content to fill my world with the joys of childhood once more.

 

 

 

 

Asian Chicken Soup

 

4 cups of chicken broth

2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

½ teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup chopped chicken or chicken drumettes

1 cup uncooked shrimp shelled

1 can sliced water chestnuts

1 cup cut up fresh bok choy

½ cup bean sprouts

½ cup mushrooms (optional)

 

Add chicken to broth and cook until tender

Add rest of ingredients except shrimp and cook until veggies are slightly softened

When everything is cooked through add shrimp and cook a few minutes longer until shrimp turns pink and is done.

Serve over crunchy noodles or crunchy fried brown rice and enjoy!

To get crunchy fried rice, place rice in a hot frying pan with oil. Flatten rice so it is in a single layer and fry on one side until crispy then turn and fry other side.

 

 

 

Marking Grammy’s Territory

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I get the whole changing world thing and all, but could someone slow it down enough to tell me where Grandma fits in these days?

When I was young, back in the dark ages it seems, there was a specific role that Grandparents filled and it was exclusive to them.

Grandma cooked your favorite foods, even if she was a lousy cook like my Grandmother. Who cared? To this day I can’t see a bowl of lumpy cream of wheat or greasy hamburger without getting all misty for my grandma.

Grandma told stories, she bought you things your parents would not and most simply grandparents got to look at you like you were a banana split and created the unfortunate misconception that someone someday would look at you that same loving way again. I am still waiting.

You watched the Wednesday night fights with your Grandpa even if you had no idea what they were about and they were bloody and gross. You knew Milton Berle was funny when he dressed up as a woman and tripped all over himself in high heels because you heard your grandparents in hysterics. You knew that they would take you anywhere you wanted to see anything you wanted, because they loved you in a very special otherworldly way.

They attended all recitals and clapped the loudest.

My favorite story about my Grandfather was when I was taking dancing lessons as a child.

Our recital number that year was witch doctors.

My grandfather couldn’t wait to come and see me dance… and talked about it for weeks. I had to show him my steps and he watched while I practiced.

Caveat was that as witch doctors they dressed us in black and painted our faces with glow in the dark paint and feathers on our heads.

When our number began they turned out the lights and all you could see were lights and feathers moving about on stage.

My poor grandfather kept asking my mother, which one is Norma, which one is she? Can you see her?

Poor Grandpa, I so hated to disappoint him.

My grandfather also took my brother Marty and I fishing in the everglades, my grandmother let us keep the catfish we caught in the bathtub until after a day that wore thin. Every day we spent with them was filled with fun and adventures.

Fast forward to today’s grandparent.

Ah, the Baby Boomer generation.

We are busy, active and creating new lives in our golden years.

We have to because our grandchildren don’t need us in the same way anymore.

The unkindest cut of all?

The other day my daughter informed me the Nanny had noticed they all had colds and made chicken soup for the house!

Et Tu Jewish penicillin?

Of course there are some parents who still rely on grandparental help, but it’s all so different now it seems.

Well, why wouldn’t it be when my five-year-old grandson is teaching me how to move forward on the levels of Angry Birds.

Kids today are better-fed, no greasy chicken schmaltz for them, they have Nannies, they eat gluten free and vegan and did you know dairy is evil? I didn’t until my daughter told me. After all those Howard Johnson’s ice cream cones I ate as a kid it’s a wonder I’m still here.

Meat is very minimal and organic, cold pressed juices are a staple and no don’t ask me the difference between cold pressed and hot, and organic and free range is the goal of all food products.

For someone who was still eating gribenes (chicken fat and skins with onions cooked until crunchy) up to five years ago, what do I know?

So what can we contribute to our grandchildren’s lives?

Shopping?

My daughter buys organic clothing.

Toys? Do not spoil is the watchword today.

Television? Sorry, highly limited.

And to their credit field trips to the zoo, apple picking, concerts and theater are reserved for parents.

So for Grandma and Grandpa what is left?

Well, I read stories, play games, draw pictures and watch Paw Patrol and the list of approved programming. I have played Bugopoly (the kids version of Monopoly) until my own eyes bugged out.

Grandma must delve deep into her inner child to create fun and exciting adventures.

We take walks, check out trees and flowers and I actually help my grandson collect bugs.

UGH!

The only buggy experience I shared with my children was when they called me in their rooms to get rid of one.

I have learned you will do things for and with your grandchildren never dreamed of in your imagination, Horatio.

No matter how things change there will always be one thing that doesn’t.

The banana split look on every grandparent’s face when they look at their grandchildren will survive the generations. The love between the two, no matter what activities come before, will never diminish.

And this is what we must put our faith in. That while playing golf, starting new businesses and traveling the world, there is still our anchor on the other side of the Face time on your phone even when you are five thousand miles away visiting far away regions and river cruising.

I wouldn’t trade one “hi grandma” for a million tours of the Taj Mahal or visits to the Tuscan countryside.

All points point to those little faces that light up when they see you, and that no matter the times, places or circumstances, will never change!

Greek Noodle Pudding

2 cups of egg noodles

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup feta cheese

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup mozzarella cheese shredded

6 large eggs

1 cup of onion sautéed

¼ cup of chopped pitted Greek olives if desired. This is optional for those who like olives.

2 tablespoons of melted butter

1 teaspoon of Greek seasoning

Salt to taste

 

Boil noodles, drain and set aside

Sauté onion until translucent

Beat eggs and add seasoning

Add cheeses, melted butter, olives and onions to eggs

Fold in noodles and pour mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish

Place in preheated 350-degree oven and bake for one hour or until set.

Serve with lamb for a real flavor of Greece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!!!