(Pea)Nuts to You!

3 03 2021

Ah, March – the Lucy Van Pelt of months. We all know she’s quite windy and abrasive but every year, she marshals up just enough warm sunshine to get you to relax into the feeling that spring’s just about here.

Then, WHAM, just like poor old Charlie Brown every time he believes Lucy will let him actually kick the football, you’re flat on your back, laid low by some wicked weather witchery that freezes your fingers and your flower buds.

Charles Schulz never explained why Lucy was such an irascible, erratic, belligerent little girl.  I’m guessing she was born in March – the month named for the god of rage, destruction, and war – and took Mars’s passions as her own personal mission statement. Whatever the reason, it’s wise not to trust Lucy or March.  Both can flash sweetness and light, but both are always within arm’s reach of knocking the wind out of you.

Spring WILL come, but don’t trust those pretty little moments in March.  Keep your mittens handy and your marigolds indoors!





Shallowness Is Its Own Reward

24 02 2021

A friend shared this morning musing:

I read an article this morning about an expedition to explore a mountain top jungle in Africa. There were 23 people on the team. It sounded amazing! Many of us will never experience that kind of adventure, but that doesn’t mean we can’t create adventure in our own lives in our own ways. Right now my expedition is more inward, exploring my own self. It doesn’t require as large a group of people but I still need my support crew – family, friends, etc. I am ever so grateful for my support team!

It sent me down an odd old memory path. When I was about 20 years old, I wrote a (very bad) song called Shallowness Is Its Own Reward. It was a snarky response to Carly Simon’s The Carter Family https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lx7d060q6FM. I was madly suspicious of her introspection and self-scolding for mistakes of superficiality.  I was terrified that I would make those mistakes, so I did my best immature effort to discount any deep thinking as a waste of a good time.

I flung myself into making decisions based on all the wrong things, dug myself out of a thousand messes, and – although I still do very stupid things – finally have begun to appreciate more than the look of a thing. Don’t misunderstand. I still love to look at exotic cars, beautiful houses, and beautiful people; I just know that I can enjoy the visual without having to pay for the rest of it. (For example: cars that are so low to the ground, I would break a hip getting in and out of; houses whose heating bills would bankrupt me; or people who might be mean, dull, or not smell nice.) Nothing like almost fifty years of life after 20 to make one aware of just what some 20-year-olds don’t know!

An ascerbic friend once observed of one of my acquaintances, “I’ve stepped in deeper puddles.” I am very glad that I now need more than just ankle boots to plumb my own depths!

Beauty found in a deeper look. Click the image, if you’re not sure. My marco photograph of hemerocallis ‘Woodside Romance’ after a rain.





Food and Drug Ad . . .

17 02 2021

My darling husband is a DVR virtuoso. We never miss a moment of our favorite entertainment and, when he’s in control of the remote control, we never ever watch commercials.

Now, I am an early riser, and he is more of a night owl, so while I am making coffee and feeding the birds, I just let the network morning news channel do its thing. (Husband shudders at the thought.) This morning, the voice of comedian Brad Garrett caught my ear, so I glanced up just in time to catch the end of an ad for a sandwich chain that prides itself on the cold cuts it piles onto mayo-slathered white bread rolls.

Okay, that was interesting enough before breakfast, but the very next commercial – the one that followed right on the heels of that purveyor of half-a-day’s-calories-on-a-bun – was for a HEART DISEASE DRUG!!!

Do you love giant sodium-laced calorie-bombs on buns?  You should visit Brad Garrett’s boss’s joint and THEN, you should ask your doctor about this cholesterol drug with no vowels, three x’s a z and two q’s.

Now, that’s targeted marketing at its best!

Don’t get me wrong.  I love a fresh baked roll stuffed with delicious cured meats, cheeses, and all the trimmings my favorite pizzeria (Anile’s Ristorante) loads onto it.  I also take my blood pressure medicine like clockwork.  My point is that, while these two things are not mutually exclusive (more likely beautifully codependent), the nationally televised juxtaposition of potential cause and expensive effect just struck me funny.

I am happy to find myself easily amused today, as life has not been rosy lately, so I hope you will accept my sideways marketing thesis in the spirit in which it’s written.

I have only one serious bit for you this week:

Please buy your favorite bad-for-you (and good-for-you) comestibles from your LOCAL restaurant.  It’s always tastier and, regardless of the fat and calories, it’s 100% good for your neighborhood!

Yes, they recognize my voice at Anile’s!




Feathers!

10 02 2021

As usual, February is proving to be Febru-weary for me. There are so many reasons to feel glum this year –  even more than the usual gray skies, bitter cold, and no football or baseball.  I am choosing to ignore them all, as I can do nothing to change all that stuff.

In dire need of something brighter than the weather and the news, I decided to watch my backyard birds. What I saw was exactly what I needed to see and what I wish everyone could see.

Scarlet red cardinals.

Noisy blue jays.

Brown Carolina wrens.

Grackles, starlings, juncos, titmouses, sparrows, little yellow finches, black-capped chickadees, nuthatches . . .

and a few furry ones, too.

And doves.

All these differently colored, sized, and shaped birds shared a meal at my window feeder. There were some spirited chats, almost always among the same kind of birds, but everyone had their turns. They are all frequent visitors, knowing where the good seeds show up daily.

While we are in the throes of some seriously strange, sad, and terrible news, there is still goodness in our world.  I will look to my bird-brained backyard buddies for knowing how to peacefully coexist, even in the darkest time.

Birds of many different feathers. Thank you, Nature, for the lesson in harmonious color. Thank you Chewy.com for keeping me in birdseed and debt.





Remedial Recipe?

3 02 2021

I was cruising around Pinterest this afternoon when I saw a Pin that looked so stupid I HAD to click on it.  I was not disappointed.  What does it say about our collective (in)ability to know not to poke a kitchen knife into a wall socket when there’s (apparently) a need for a recipe for a grilled cheese sandwich? Now, I’m not talking the gussied up concoctions like the fab one I will share at the end of this post;  I’m talking about 2 slices of bread, some pre-sliced cheese, something greasy, and a pan!! 

I am not kidding, people. Here’s the recipe:

Easy Grilled Cheese*

          Cook time: 0 hours 10 minutes

          Servings: 1 serving

          You will need:

            Two pieces of bread

            A slice of pepper Jack cheese

            A slice of American cheese

            Butter spread

            Frying pan

            Serrated knife

            Stove

* I really wish I had access to Comic Sans for this – would be the perfect font for it, don’t you think?

But wait, there’s more . . . “Easy Grilled Cheese” includes a VIDEO!!! The most interesting/disturbing thing about this is the lack of proper instruction for the clearly clueless person who would need such a recipe. 

Wait. What do I do with this stuff?  Which cheese goes first or does the bread go first? What’s the knife for if my cheese and bread are already sliced? Does “butter spread” require a serrated knife? This looks too complicated. I’d better order delivery.

Folks, we either need to reinstitute some form of Home Ec as a required-to-graduate-high-school course or we need to buy loads of stock in fast food! 

Here, from my collection of recipes, is a grilled cheese of another stripe. This delicious appetizer is courtesy of my former work colleague Mary Lee, who got it in an advanced cooking class. Yes, this is a real recipe. Yes, it has several steps. Yes, it is full of fatty goodness. Yes, you should make it!

Smoked Gouda and Caramelized Onion Quesadilla              6 appetizer servings      

2T  unsalted butter

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2T  brown sugar

½ t  white wine vinegar

1 ½ c  shredded smoked Gouda

4  10” flour tortillas

2 oz  prosciutto, chopped

2T butter, melted

Melt 2T butter in skillet over medium heat. Add onion, brown sugar, and vinegar and sauté until onion is golden brown, stirring frequently, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Oven to 350º. Divide cheese, onions, and prosciutto evenly over 2 tortillas.  Top with remaining tortillas. Brush with melted butter. Cook quesadillas in skillet, lightly brushed with butter, over medium high about 2 minutes per side. Transfer sautéed quesadillas to parchment-lined baking sheet and bake about 5 minutes to fully melt cheese, until tortillas are golden.

Cut each into wedges. Serve hot.

In case you wonder whether I really cook.




Hard-Headed Woman

27 01 2021

My mother came home from the hospital this morning. She did not know she was in the hospital, did not process the ambulance ride, and does not know she’s resting in my sister’s dining room, converted in two hours to a hospice room.

I’m not quite sure how I can write about anything else today, so I beg your indulgence.

In the last few months, my mother, who is about 45 days from her 91st birthday, has suffered several falls, nosebleeds that required E/R treatment, and at least two heart attacks, one of them within the last 48 hours.  She was alert and aware until yesterday morning, when something – likely a stroke – changed and she is now unresponsive to stimuli.  Her heart, beating at 150 per minute since Monday, still soldiers on. Her breaths are easy and regular. She has every right to finally rest. Something, however, is driving her not to go just yet.

Those of you who know her, know Mad Mildred (as I have called her with the greatest respect and admiration for years) is probably the most stubborn woman ever to walk this earth.  My sister and I, after being called to the hospital yesterday, expecting to arrive to find her gone, have surrendered to speculating what is keeping Mom going.  We’ve narrowed it down to a few possibilities, but the likeliest is that she’s challenged herself to having the most heartbeats of anyone ever, so the speediness of her heart is probably a source of pride within her spirit. She has never been able to turn down a challenge!

The reality of this is that we know we will soon lose her to the next big thing. It is also a reality that she’s given us the very best mothering anyone could imagine. She’s given us strong backbones, strong minds, and strong family bonds. We could not ask for more. That is why, whenever it is that she finally has had enough of this life, we will not mourn her passing; we will celebrate her fine, long, on-her-terms life.

My sister and my brother and I wish everyone could have a Mad Mildred in your life.

Spring 2019 – This about sums her up!
1950 – Same determined look!

UPDATE: Mildred’s race is won. She crossed her finish line with calm and peace.





What’s Cooking?

20 01 2021

Well, friends, today will be one for the history books, regardless of whether you see it written as the first chapter of a fairy tale come true, a horror novel, a sweeping epic, a droll farce, or just another boring bit of “will this be on the test” in a few years.

I, ever the optimist, sometimes borderline fool, am hoping that we’re writing a cookbook. 

Wouldn’t it be lovely to create one of those community potluck recipe collection-style volumes – you know, the kind with the plastic comb binding that is as much about reading what the neighbors are like as it is about cooking.  We could have chapters on preparing plates for better (financial, physical, emotional, civic) health; enjoying new-to-us ingredients; and – importantly – properly regulating our own oven temperature.

That’s my coffee-fueled reverie this Inauguration Day morning. May we enjoy our big American community, in spite of and BECAUSE of our differences.

I’ll bring dessert!  Have a big piece – peace.

If coconut’s not your thing, I’ll bring chocolate!




We’ll Do Better Next Week

13 01 2021

What a time. I have no words of wit or wisdom to offer, just a simple plea:

Don’t hurt yourself and don’t hurt anyone else.

This beautiful sky and ancient tree (The road should help you sense its massive size) do not care whether we are democrats or republicans or martians. They exist and, if we pay attention, they humble and delight us.

We’ll talk next week. Peace.





6 01 2021

New Year’s Res – Nah!

I trust we are all agreed that to make even an attempt at New Year’s resolutions would be beyond foolish, but I feel the need to make some sort of list to replace the one usually made this season – you know, the (to want to, but not enough) To Do List.

I realize it’s early days, but I’m pretty sure we’ve seen a big part of its personality already, so I’m going to forge ahead with some suggestions for 2021.

Top Ten Things to Do in 2021

10. Have a neighborhood beard-growing contest (special class for post-menopausal women like me).

9.   Make a working robot with only the contents of the kitchen junk drawer.

8.   Count the cars that drive past your house on the seventeenth Tuesday of the year.

7.   See how long you can yodel before the police are called.

6.    Catfish your “favorite” politician.

5.    Write love notes to your delivery people.

4.    Stay away from crowds – I mean it!

3.    Visit your ice cream parlor more regularly – helping small business is so important!

2.    Be grateful for the troubles you don’t have.

And the NUMBER ONE THING TO DO IN 2021:

Be nice, please!

p.s. I hope next Wednesday is less fraught than this one! Peace.





Anticipation – Better than Impatience

30 12 2020

While I am one who is more than happy to blame our lame duck president for lots of stuff, I fear – after doing a little more reading than this Facebook post – that the USPS is simply buried by all of us, who, in spite of Covid, insist on “having Christmas,” which means we are buying remotely and sending gifts instead of trekking to stores and homes.

WE have done this.

Now, I am not saying that we had much of a choice.  Who could be expected to just skip the holiday traditions altogether?  There had to be presents. There had to be cards. There had to be SO MUCH STUFF sent through the mail!

Yes, I KNOW it was frustrating not to have the perfect thingamabob for Aunt Thelma, your bestie’s handmade card, the stuff you ordered for yourself because, hey, it’s the holidays, arrive before Christmas.  I get it that your sense of Christmas-ness has been offended by the failure of Santa (Uncle) Sam’s little postal service elves (very hardworking regular folks with families also missing holiday deliveries – and them!) to deliver the goodies. Know what? They’re disappointed, too. They’re also overworked, staying on the job in the face of a health crisis, and helpless to fix this thing.

I’ve decided that, unless it’s life-altering medicine that can’t be gotten by a local physician, I don’t care if packages are late this year. Seriously, we have nothing better to do than be patient – no gift exchange parties where we were the only ones without gifts in hand! 

Matter of fact, this is kind of what we’ve wished for in (normal) years past.

“Christmastime goes by so fast. It’s such a festive time; wish it lasted longer.” How many of you have said something like that?

Well . . .

Relax and remember, when it comes to gifts delayed, as with all gifts, it’s the thought that counts and, this year, we get the sweetness of the thought and then, when it’s least expected, we get SURPRISE – the real gift shows up on the doorstep! I think opening presents, drinking wassail, and caroling will be grand in February! How about you?

Happy New Year, Everyone!