Resolving to Remember Sara Lee

 

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Resolving to Remember Sara Lee

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

Good luck with that one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay, I’m back.

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

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

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

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

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

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

She was always there.

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

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

I searched the store for a substitute.

There was none.

How could this be happening?

The next week I tried again.

Not there.

A week later a different store.

No Sara.

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

No more Sara Lee Frozen Brownies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Probably not, so I’ll just move on.

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

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

I will strive to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eat more chocolate and try a new dessert recipe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts, Now Robots…

mexicorn chowder

I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts! Now Robots…

 

Last night I had a nightmare. No not about monsters or a werewolf that looked remarkably like Michael Landon. It wasn’t even about my last blind date, strange as that may seem.

It was about Google.

And what’s so scary about Google you ask.

It’s watching us. It’s Big Brother come to life. It’s George Orwell’s worst nightmare and now it’s ours.

In my dream I was hiding inside my house while a little Google robot that was mainly eyes was floating outside my windows peering inside. I was crawling on the floor to escape detection but it hovered outside my windows and every time I looked up it was there. I would scream and duck and it continued to float like a headless object outside watching me like a secret service agent watches the crowds.

Grow up you say. It was only a silly dream. But was it really?

In case you’re wondering what brought on this sudden burst of irrational Googlenoia, it started with Siri.

Oh sure innocent enough except that my Siri, which is only supposed to talk when spoken to…I have an older Iphone…has begun taking it upon herself to start a conversation for no apparent reason or prompting on my part. Yet when I ask her a question directly she acts as though I’m speaking a language she’s never even heard of?

“Siri how do I get to 335 Maple Drive?”

“Here are the directions for 772 Elm Street.”

I first noticed her new chatty habit when I was baking one day and pulled a cake out of the oven. “Perfect,” I said to no one in particular.

From the living room I heard a voice say, “thank you for saying that, but I’m not perfect.”

Not only does she speak to me she contradicts me! Is she so neurotic she can’t take a compliment?

“No, I’m not perfect!!”

What’s next, a tirade against her motherboard for her dysfunctional childhood?

Siri’s problems aside I thought it a fluke of nature and found it rather funny. So much so I related the incident to my daughter at her home a few weeks later.

Siri was charging on the kitchen counter and I was telling my daughter about the incident while she looked at me like a child who is thinking she should start looking for a good nursing home for her mother when suddenly Siri decided to join the conversation.

My daughter looked over and said. Oh my gosh, that is so annoying.

Well yes, but at least Siri’s response will keep me on the streets and out of a nursing home a little longer.

“See,” I said. “It’s true she talks to me all the time now.”

My daughter just shook her head in that only-to-my-mother-does-this-happen way she has and I just went back to playing with my grandsons.

Who Siri went on to talk to next I have no idea, nor do I care.

Now it has become a regular thing. When the TV is on Siri will comment on something spoken.

I just agree and move on.

Shortly thereafter my daughter bought one of those Google robots for the home and that lasted less than a week before it went bye bye.

Annoying? Yes, but then why scary?

Because they are listening all the time!

The FBI recommends you put tape over your computer camera screen opening because someone could be watching you.

Well that’s their bad luck because when I’m on the computer I’m usually in my robe and glasses and looking like the wrath of God.

If they are expecting to see Cindy Crawford good luck Mr. Snoopy, not here, not today.

Today’s generation is acclimated to a lack of privacy. They grow up with Iphones, computers and robots in their homes.

I wasn’t. My robot model was Hal in 2001 and that’s not a good thing.

And although the Jetsons painted a rosy future of a robot named Rosy to clean up after us, the world never delivered.

Oh sure Isaac Asimov would have us believe that the three laws of robots precluded them from harming man, but hello! STUFF HAPPENS.

The feeling someone is listening to what I say, hovering above me—welcome to the world of drones on top of everything else literally—and watching what I do, to me is offensive and frightening.

Now I have to worry that drones will be falling from the sky unto my head. Where’s Chicken Little when you need him?

Of course it’s not that I’m plotting to rob the Tower of London or sneak into the subway, it’s that it makes me feel violated and uncomfortable. It’s just plain creepy.

I can’t change overnight just because the new world is so accepting of Big Brother’s presence.

From what I can remember he wasn’t a good thing, right?

So, why is it now so okay to spy on people and collect all my information, personal and otherwise and make it public?

It isn’t, and that’s the point.

Perhaps we are too accepting now. We should rail against this new world where our lives are open for business 24/7 and there is no respect for our private space.

I fear it’s too late now. My computer just winked at me and Siri stuck out her tongue. I suppose I’ll have to accept that next an army of robots will descend upon us, capture us all and make us their slaves.

I think they already have and no one knows yet.

Well I don’t care, I’m not putting on lipstick to sit on my computer so take your chances.

Okay so I ain’t afraid of no ghosts, but robots well that’s a whole other thing.

 

Mexi-Corn Chowder

 

2 cups of chicken bullion

2 cups cream

2 ears of corn roasted

½ cup red peppers

½ cup yellow peppers

½ cup red peppers

¼ cup green chilies

1 small onion chopped

¼ cup chopped jalapeno peppers without the seeds

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon cilantro

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes if you desire more heat.

 

 

Rub about two large ears of corn with butter and a sprinkle of salt. Remove kernels from the cob and set aside.

Sauté onion in butter and when translucent add chopped peppers, chilies, corn and seasonings. When softened add soup and sauté for another ten minutes. Using a hand blender blend together about half the soup. This will thicken it and when done add cream. Stir and simmer for another five minutes on low heat.

Serve with shredded cheese or popcorn on top.