I’m Speechless So I Guess Hell Froze Over

spinahricottaballs

I’m Speechless So I Guess Hell Froze Over

For those who know me and would never have fathomed I’d ever run out of things to say, I must announce that the day is finally here. Hell froze over and I’m speechless, dumbfounded and can’t even think of anything to write about.

This of course is no surprise because in order to find new and interesting things to say you need to live your life out in the world. Since that is something I can’t do right now thanks to COVID, what is new and exciting to report?

The world is an interesting place when you’re in it, but since we’re forbidden from venturing forth into the outside climes, well I have to admit it’s a bit boring.

Sure I could watch television and moan about the people going out sans mask, partying and spreading the virus to innocent people. Freedom schmeedom, because we’re free can we explode a bomb in a crowded theater? I think not.

Or perhaps I could bitch about the fact that the geniuses that run the states and cities are letting criminals out of jail so they can go on killing, raping and committing crimes in a safer environment. Should I sleep better at night knowing that someone who raped ten women is not in danger of catching the virus?

Maybe we can talk about the fact my hair looks awful, my nails are non-existent and my roots are growing faster than a politician’s lies.

We could talk about these things I suppose, but why? Life is depressing enough right now.

I’m well aware sitting home, watching television and eating isn’t a hardship, although most men would be far happier if their television schedule included sports. Sorry about that, guys. There are worse things than staying at home, sitting on the patio reading a book, feeding the squirrels and zooming with your grandchildren all day.

Yet, I’m afraid these activities don’t really make for very interesting conversation.

How many times can you ask a friend, “So what did you eat for lunch?” I sound like my father who felt monitoring his children’s caloric intake was akin to brushing your teeth each day.

I imagine one could ask, “So what did you buy online today?” Yet truly having Amazon deliver a box of Softsoap isn’t the most sparkling topic.

Besides who needs to shop when were all in our pajamas and sweats?

Okay, so here’s the deal…I’m making up a pretend life. After all I’m a writer and should have a vivid imagination so now’s my time to prove it. I’m going to tell you about the week I wish I’d had, but couldn’t because I can’t leave the damn house!

So in my imagination I’m in Roma. Italy, not Ohio. I didn’t need a plane to fly there because I took a magic carpet that I borrowed from a friend down the street who just returned from her pretend trip to Istanbul. Maybe I’ll fly there next week, no masks and lots of empty seats beside me on the rug.

Anyway we’re back in Rome and I’m walking toward the Spanish Steps. Boy, those are high and my feet are already complaining. I decide to sit for a moment observing all the thousands of people walking about in the square hurrying toward their next destination or favorite outdoor café for the world’s most delicious pasta.

Ahead of me is the Via del Corso, the premiere shopping area in Rome and women rush about carrying bags labeled Fendi, Gucci and Dior as their heels clackity clack on the cobblestone streets.

In the distance are the hills of Rome; magical and legendary like a painting by an old master.

Two kids walk by eating cones with gelato dripping down the sides, their mother wiping their hands as they struggle to keep licking their precious treat.

Four young men are standing at the base of the steps speaking Italian, smoking, laughing and checking out women as they pass. Italian men, gotta love ‘em. Some women pretend not to notice, but smile as they walk past flattered to be noticed and admired. I think how nice it would be to be young again as I pull out my phone and check Vatican tour times.

I grab a cab and head to St. Peter’s Basilica to see the impressive statue of St. Peter, his feet shiny and worn from all the pilgrims who’ve rubbed them in a desperate attempt to garner his blessings and help.

I stare up at the magnificent dome created by Michelangelo and I’m stunned by the way it catches the light filling the space with color.

To my left is a small alter containing two confessionals of dark, ancient wood. As I get closer I notice the worn steps at their entrances where so many have entered to ask forgiveness and a blessing.

I’m in line to enter the Sistine Chapel and look around at the unbelievable splendor of St. Peter’s Square filled with tourists, priests, nuns and worshippers from all over the world.

Some obese guy I’m guessing from New Jersey by his accent, in Bermudas and Adidas bumps into me and almost pushes me over as a bird poops on my shoulder. Damn, I just had this pashmina cleaned and I search for a Kleenex in my purse.

Ecstasy returns in the chapel as I’m instantly stunned by the sheer magnificence of the space. My eyes hardly know where to focus first. I sit on a bench and look up confused about what side to stare at and my eyes become glued to Adam and God nearly touching. I sit transfixed until I hear a loud clap accompanied by a loud shush. I return to earth and notice the room is still and wonder what’s happening. I continue to stare and in another twenty minutes the clap and shush once again.

I inquire about this strange incident to a nearby observer and I’m told it’s the Sistine Chapel shusher who regularly claps and shushes to reduce the noise level. I decide to apply for that plum job as soon as I leave and remain staring upward until my aching neck insists it’s had enough of all this magnificence.

I head out to an inviting restaurant in Rome’s ancient, Jewish ghetto to experience another Roman culinary masterpiece. My fat self is praying they have good stuffed squash blossoms as taxis and people whiz by me on the busy streets, overflowing with bougainvillea and the sound of clinking glasses and murmurs of “chin chin.”

I’ve left Rome and now I’m back from my adventure sitting on my couch, typing in my jammies and wondering if there are any of those yummy zucchini chips left over.

I’m wishing to see Rome again someday when all this craziness is only a horrible memory and life returns to whatever it will be. As long as Rome is still there, I’m good.

Happy travels on your own magic carpet, everyone.

 

Spinach Ricotta Balls

 

1 package 32 ounces of ricotta cheese.

1 package of spinach fresh or 2 boxes of frozen (if frozen squeezed out well)

Salt

½ cup of Parmesan Reggiano

A pinch of nutmeg

2 eggs

1 tablespoon flour

Spaghetti sauce (optional)

 

Drain the ricotta cheese in cheesecloth over a bowl until dry

Pour the ricotta into a bowl and add spinach.

Mix two eggs in a separate bowl. Add salt and at this point you may add a dash of your favorite Italian seasoning like basil or oregano to the eggs. This is your choice.

Add eggs to the ricotta and spinach and mix then add flour and mix until just incorporated.

Form into balls

At this point you may do a few things as you choose.

First add the balls to boiling water and cook until done and floating. Then serve them with sauce of your choice. May be tomato or make a sauce of brown butter and sage by melting butter in a pan with fresh sage leaves until the butter turns a golden color and smells nutty.

Second you may cook the balls in tomato sauce in the oven sprinkled with cheese. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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Are We There Yet, Mommy?

Are We There Yet, Daddy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So how will we ever get back to normal?

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

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

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

So what will replace the old world?

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what’s changed? Plenty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   Champagne Grape and Almond Chicken

4 chicken breasts or boneless thighs

flour for dusting

½ cup of champagne

½ cup seedless red grapes

½ cup seedless green grapes

½ cup sliced almonds

½ cup of chopped celery or bok choy

1 ½ cups of heavy cream

½ teaspoon of tarragon

salt and pepper

Season chicken with salt and pepper and dust with flour

Sauté chicken in a mix of butter and oil until done

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

Remove chicken and set aside

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

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

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