Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

Baby it’s cold outside this morning. Brrrrr. I forgot to take the trash to the curb last night, so had to rush out early to get it out there before the truck came by. The gardeners, such as they are, filled the compostable bin to the brim with leaves, then it rained. Sigh. The bin felt like it weighed about two hundred pounds. I’m not a very big being, as I’ve mentioned previously, so it took a serious amount of huffing, puffing, and general physical prowess to wrestle the darn thing down the driveway. Such things you begin to notice, when you lose the man in your life. Some chores you just need a man to help you with. Hard for me to admit here because I like to think I am the mistress of my own domain, but true is true. I do miss my man.

Last week I had to break down boxes, which was a job Dale always took care of for me. He had some sort of handy dandy tool (a box cutter I would suppose), that broke down the cardboard nicely. I had an old steak knife, not nearly as handy dandy. I remember the first time I was single, many moons ago, the only tool I had in my toolbox was a kitchen knife. I swear I could have built a Mars landing craft with that dull old blade. Seriously. That knife was used to take screws off the bottom of the vacuum, assemble furniture, ward off marauders, you name it. I must admit I had to add a Phillips head screwdriver and a hammer to the mix to get the job done effectively after a while, but until I got married again, those three tools served me well.

I took a swing at the gardeners in my first paragraph, because using the term to describe the three men who show up in my yard ever other week really is overreach. They swoop down like buzzards on a fresh carcass, blow the leaves off the yard into a pile by the fence which returns as soon as the wind picks up to form it’s original blanket on my lawn. They cut an uneven swath over the front and back areas of green and are in and out in less than fifteen minutes. Once I asked them to trim the weeds in the front and when I went out to see what they had done there wasn’t a plant standing in my garden. Pitiful. They are my landlords choice. Since I have little control other than constructive input, I deal with them, but never again asked them to trim the weeds.

The yard is a really nice yard, have to say. The back yard is large, with a small cement patio and deck. There are lovely trees placed here and there about the property providing much needed shade during the summer. Unfortunately, the two large shade trees in the back yard were cut down by PG&E because they were interfering with the power lines. I miss the lovely umbrella they provided during the hot summer months, but certainly don’t want anything resembling kindling that close to my little house.

Yesterday I went with a friend to visit a psychic. I see you shaking your head. I went after Rick passed away as well. This lady appears to have an actual gift for seeing beyond our normal borders. I told her nothing and provided no useful information for her to build on. Letting her lean on her own resources, she once again provided a really interesting reading for my yankee dollars. For those of you who view this as total nonsense or a sort of shell game, I say “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it”. Not all professing to have such a gift actually do, of course. As with everything, there are those who are just in it to relieve you of your money. This lady always delivers, not only on being spot on on so many things she has to say but on the entertainment value. Both she and the lady who writes a horoscope I read at the beginning of each month are saying the coming year is going to be a stellar one. “Yay”, says I. I am really ready to get in line for something uplifting and soul changing. Sign me up, please and don’t hold the mayo.

I am dragging a bit this morning. Had a restless night. Sometimes my dreams are soooooo real and decidedly unsettling. Perhaps this is the side effect of an overly active mind. Last night I was in a big city. I somehow perceived it as San Francisco, though it looked nothing like my favorite California city. First, I was lost in an office building. I couldn’t seem to get out of the elevator, at one point zooming up to the penthouse where the occupants weren’t particularly pleased to find me there. When I finally did get off in the lobby, I had no idea what street I was on, and couldn’t remember where on earth I’d parked my car. Apparently, I finally located it because next I was speeding down dark and unfamiliar streets with no idea where I was going or how to get home. Next, I was in a massive shopping mall. While struggling to find an exit, I apparently won a new house filled with furniture. I stood in front of a crowd in the center of the mall with a family I did not recognize to receive my bounty. I remember willing myself to wake up. When I did, I was in a bog for an hour before I again felt familiar with my surroundings. What a strange mind I have. Sometimes it worries me. Perhaps someone will take the time to study it when I’m no longer using it and let me know what’s up with that. Was I to analyze it, employing no dream analyzing skills whatsoever, I could see easily I’m feeling a bit lost and not sure where to go from here. Who the strange family was standing in the mall with me, is your best guess.

I am trying to get my outside errands done today, and visit with my mom tomorrow, before we finally are to be entertaining some winter weather here in Northern California. For those of you born with ski poles in your hands this will be welcome news. For me, I will be tucked inside with my tree lights glowing in the background, watching my Christmas movies, downing an eggnog latte and wrapping presents.

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I promised myself to imbue a little light into my next post. This is me doing exactly that. I made it. I made it through Halloween, and not only made it through my birthday, but I pulled a rabbit out of the hat and probably enjoyed the most heart warming birthday day I’ve ever had. Who knew? Yesterday, I added another candle to the cake. Pretty soon, I’m going to need to add another cake to support the candles. At any rate, I had no expectations of anything special heading my way when I opened my eyes in the morning. I had plans for lunch and shopping, but the rest of the day I was to manage by myself. Keeping busy is my way of coping. However, you cannot keep too busy as to avoid being in touch with your feelings or go through the process of grieving, or you will not do your work and complete the process. The morning was filled with catching up on paperwork and pulling together some graphic designs for a local charity I’ve been working with for about eight years. The phone began ringing about 8:00 and I am here to tell you that device never stopped until my head hit the pillow last night. What lovely pops of bright sunny colors on a day destined to be filled with hues of purples and greys. Texts arrived with lovely warm messages of support and love, people posted on my social media pages, and as I said the phone earned it’s keep for the full time I was awake. You don’t know, unless you are the receiver of it, how very important that kind of contact is to a person feeling especially fragile and vulnerable. If they could bottle that, therapists would have to hang up their shingles.

My son and his family gifted me an hour and half massage at a local spa. I have never had a massage, or let me clarify, I have never paid to go to a facility to receive one. My first reaction when reading the gift certificate was “hmmmm”. This keeps coming up in my life of late. When Dale’s daughter and her husband were here they both made appointments to get some “body work done”, as they put it. When I said casually I had never been to a massage therapist they seemed shocked. What? I never had a pedicure until I was over forty. Apparently I am not a high maintenance girl. Once I did have a pedicure, I have routinely gotten them since. I think before the actual experience I hesitated because I felt sorry for people who were tasked with washing other people’s feet. I’ve seen mine, and even I don’t like to wash them. Recently I had to go to the podiatrist for what they call a planters wart. I apologized before removing my socks, to which after seeing my feet, the doctor replied “Your feet are great. You should see the feet that I do ever day.” “Really. My feet are great”? This is Rick’s fault. He liked to tease me. For some reason he targeted my feet early on in our relationship, referring to them as UGHS. He used to tell me to cover them up, I was scaring small children. Who’s the child, I ask you?

The big gun holidays are looming on the horizon. Not sure if my brain is wired at the moment for all the chaos associated with shopping, crowds, decorations, parties, etc. No matter what, I always put up my Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving. Was I confined to a hospital bed with tubes attached to 50% of my body, I would figure out how to do this remotely. As ritualistic as I am about the date they go up, they also have to come down the day after Christmas. Decorating is a happy and time consuming process I look forward to every holiday season. I love the first twinkle of lights on the tree, and watching as the pile of wrapped presents grows beneath it’s decorated boughs. I used to be somewhat of a fresh tree snob. I admit it. Never could understand why anyone would go artificial. Over the years, my stringent holding on to one view over another has eased considerably. These days I find myself a rather mellow being who puts less importance in having to do something my way or the highway, and am wide open to many points of view. That being said, my artificial tree is residing in a zippered plastic bag in my shed waiting to be gloriously adorned yet another year. Yay.

Today I am heading out for a walk and lunch with a friend. We’re going to walk downtown and browse through the shops. I am looking forward to getting out in the lovely fall weather and stretching my legs. I have been in the house quite a bit over the past year and feeling a little guilty pleasure at the thought of being outside in the fresh air. When you are the “survivor” there is a lot of guilt to go around. I try not to dip my ladle in that pot too often. It can can be habit forming. Though intellectually I know it is not my “fault” I am still here, there is part of me still feeling guilty for being so. When grieving it is hard not to feel guilty if you laugh at a joke, or enjoy the scenery, or sit down to a delicious meal without your partner, friend, spouse, parent, being there to enjoy it with you. I would consider this a very natural reaction. I had a lovely day with my friend yesterday, first at lunch and then dropping a dime or two at Home Goods. This does not mean I don’t miss Dale with all my heart, or am not feeling the tremendous loss of his presence. We go on, and that is the way we are structured. Those of us participating in this dimension are like flotsum caught up in the waves. We bob and weave with the currents and move along as the days move forward on the calendar. If you stop and do nothing but allow yourself to be consumed by grief and loss, there is always the danger you will remain firmly rooted in the spot where you are standing. That, is not healthy for anyone. I know when my time is here I hope my loved ones celebrate my passing with jokes and silly stories. That they sorely miss my presence in their lives, but go on to enjoy full and rich lives that I will always be a small part of. This does not mean I don’t allow the tears to flow when they brim at the ridges of my eyes, or feel the my stomach pinch when the memories begin to stream across my mind. There are times when the loneliness washes over me chilling me like a rush of cold frigid air and then recedes. This is all part of our life process, and death and change are right up there with living in what we have to deal with.

So for today I will take my melancholy mood for a walk in the crisp air and allow myself to be thankful for all I have, all I have had, and all I will have. Have a blessed and full day. Remember to tell those you love how important they are to you every chance you get. Dale used to tell me, “I will never apologize for telling you often how much I love you”, and he did tell me often. Those sweet words and all the lovely verbal gifts he gave me are tucked away in my mind to be pulled out as needed on my journey.

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My heart goes out to those overworked healthcare care workers practically begging us not to travel to friends and family over the holidays. Good news, all but 84 million of us paid attention to the warnings. Sigh. We really can’t deny ourselves. Even with the vaccine on it’s way to relieve some of the stress the virus has placed on our country, people will do what people want to do.

Aside from all the Covid saturating the news, the less than peaceful transition of power looms heavy in the headlines. For those of you who have ever ridden a jet ski and fallen off, that’s what the end of this year with our government feels like to me. No rider at the controls and everybody going around in circles. “Jet ski”, you say? A jet ski, is essentially a water motorcycle. Not all, but some, manufacturers have a built in function wherein if the driver falls off while the jet ski is in the water the vehicle will turn to the right and circle so the rider can swim to retrieve it. Just so you know.

Speaking for myself, I’m starting to believe we should do a clean sweep in Washington and start from scratch when it comes to our legislators. Some of these old dogs need to be moved out to allow room for some new blood and fresh ideas to take their place. The government, like my house after my taking a month off to recover from the virus, is in need a serious deep cleaning.

I am steadily regaining my pre-Covid stamina and my brain fog seems to be lifting. Always I have been a being of high energy and having lost that for a while was disconcerting. I seem to find myself in the kitchen a lot these days. After Rick passed, hard to believe it was two and a half years ago, I lost interest in cooking. However, my enthusiasm has been rekindled since finding myself restricted the house for so long during 2020. My size 2 pants gathering dust in my closet, will testify to the fact I haven’t been missing any meals of late.

Too many people out there are struggling this holiday season. I feel immensely grateful to be here celebrating the passing of another year and to have leftovers in my refrigerator from my Christmas dinner, and a roof above my head to keep the rain off.

Over my lifetime like most people, I have experienced times of peaks and times of valleys. At the time they felt more like insurmountable peaks and bottomless crevices than blips in the road. Always though, when it was darkest, the clouds parted allowing shards of sunlight to shine through. This year has definitely been a deep dip on the chart, but I hold on to the knowledge at some point somewhere down the road life will be bright again. Spring with all its glorious rebirth and rejuvenation has always followed a brutally cold winter.

Someone asked me the other day why there has to be so much human suffering. Why anyone might suppose I hold the key to this door I can’t imagine. The answer, or one I’ve heard proposed often, is without suffering how would we recognize bliss? Yin and yang. Balance in all things in nature. I try not to stay too long on that train of thought, because once I hop on board, I find it difficult to see a destination in sight. There are so many unanswered questions in this world. I would hazard a guess after populating this planet for hundreds of years the things we don’t know still vastly outweigh what we do. If you wade too deeply into this pool, you will end up under water. There is no Alex Trabeck standing by the board to reveal the answer once you have posed the question. Sadly, there is no Alex Trabeck in the picture at all, at least in his physical being. I shall miss him.

There are many questions I would ask at the end of this eventful year. For example, why are our highest elected officials (and I emphasize the word elected here- serving at the will if the people) out on the golf course whining about their lot in life while so many citizens across the country are going to bed hungry? I liken it to while watching your house burn to the ground while you draw your 9 iron out of your bag and hit it to the green. Lack of understanding as to why you put in a place of high authority in the first place. Basically, to PROTECT and SERVE, and this does not mean yourself. Nero had nothing on these folks with his fiddling while Rome incinerated. At least he was crazy, although that piece of the puzzle may fit in some instances in this puzzle as well. It does seem a bit like the world has gone mad. I’m just saying.

We managed to pull Christmas out of the hat at our house in spite of the many roadblocks. One after one, all the splinter groups in our family checked in virtually. We shared present opening and some much needed laughs. Though unspoken, I think all of us were missing being able to reach out to one another for a hug or two, but at least we were as to together as the situation safely allowed. I pared down my usual prime rib to filet mignon served with sautéed mushrooms, twice baked potatoes, hercot verts and cheddar and apple pie for dessert. It was delish, if I do say so myself, and apparently I just did. So many families were facing an empty chair at their holiday tables, so I will be thankful again and again all my faces were accounted for.

One thing of note about these trying times I have noticed, has been the kindness and generosity people have extended to one another. Even on a personal level, I have seen this over and over and heard similar stories from friends and loved ones of simple acts of kindness. It is heartwarming. Truly, or sadly depending on your point of view, we humans are at our best when at our worst.

I hope your Christmas was a success. One more week and we can put 2020 officially to bed, yay. That, is definitely a reason to break out the fireworks!!

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Contracting this damnable virus has put my life on hold for the past two weeks. Accomplishing even normal tasks such as doing a few dishes in the sink or picking up clutter feel like monumental tasks. I am so grateful I’m not in a hospital somewhere hooked up to a machine to guarantee my next breath, but have to admit it’s difficult for a neatnik such as myself to deal with watching my house getting totally out of control. My dust bunnies have their own little garden to play in under my kitchen table and Miss Boo has gone completely rogue and has distributed her rather large family of stuffed mice all over the living room carpet. Let’s don’t even discuss the lovely layer of accumulated dust now decorating every surface. Seriously, let’s don’t discuss it.

I bought a turkey in spite of being ill. According to the directions it wouldn’t be cooking itself. Too bad, this year I would have paid extra for that. I ordered a very small bird – 10-12 pounds, but because people are leaning towards smaller gatherings this year there aren’t many small birds to go around. Consequently, I got a very large bird who’s drumsticks provided enough meat for myself and my roomie alone not taking into account the rest of the meat on the bird. I can see turkey soup, turkey casserole, and turkey sandwiches looming in my future. Truth is my appetite is not what it could be right now. Thankfully, my sense of taste and smell is beginning to slowly return to normal. For an old foodie like me, this is a happy situation.

People are traveling this holiday in spite of dire predictions of what is to come if they do. The urge to be with our families I guess supercedes good sense. Perhaps, if I hadn’t just gone through this siege with COVID, I might have been more inclined myself. For me, having experienced it first hand, giving this to someone I love would be inexcusable. That being said, I will content myself knowing they are out there and they love me. For this year, this will have to be enough.

I have so many years of turkey day memories to lean on should I get lonely. Our family get togethers are always peppered with the usual holiday horror stories like when our cocker spaniel, Ginger, stole the bird right off the bread board while twenty-five of us were seated at the table eating our Thanksgiving dinner. Also, like many of you who have related similar tales of woe, there was the year I cooked the bag of giblets in the turkey. When it was discovered while carving I got very upset insisting I had never put anything in the bird before cooking it. Who knew? In my defense it was my first turkey, and my first large dinner party. My mother, a wonderful cook, was a working mother and there wasn’t much time in her schedule for cooking lessons. When I got married at nineteen I knew how to cook scrambled eggs, toast and cold cereal. Amazingly, we didn’t die of malnutrition that first year. I credit In ‘n Out and Arby’s with providing what food did show up on our plates in those early days. Finally, stepping into our second year together armed with The Joy of Cooking, a Christmas gift from my then father-in-law, I embarked on the quest to learn about recipes and seasoning.

I’m still trying to get the hang of virtual grocery shopping. I ordered a pound of bananas and when the order arrived I found one large banana in the bag. Next time to ensure I got enough of what I needed I ordered three pounds of Brussels sprouts which arrived in what looked like a 33 gallon trash bag. We will be enjoying the petit chou for every meal for the next two weeks. Sigh. There are “personal shoppers” selecting your items. Some are very good I find. They are supposed to always check with you before making a substitution. Sorry gentlemen, but my experience has been the ladies out shop the men every time particularly when it comes to substitutions. One man, when I had requested a pound of ground beef sent me a package of frozen White Castle burgers, where another one substituted frozen broccoli and cauliflower for the meat I had ordered. No matter how hard I try I cannot make a burger out of frozen vegetables. Now I either check “no substitutions” when I place the order or make sure I’m vigilant while the shopper is in the store so I don’t end up with a box of SOS when I asked for graham crackers.

I’m glad Thanksgiving is done now. I did it, we ate, the turkey got cooked, and I am currently over it. Thank you, thank you very much. As usual I did not get through the day without a disaster of sorts. This one really chaps my hide. I didn’t realize I had given my daughter all of my roasting pans. I guess when I moved in here Rick had just passed away and somehow in my grief stricken mind I decided I wouldn’t be celebrating the holidays. Now here I sat with a huge bird and nothing to cook it in. I would happily have gone to the store and picked up a roaster but I am currently quarantined. When I looked into having one delivered I discovered I could have a $3.99 tossable roasting pan delivered for a mere $42.00. Not. I’d make one myself before doing that. So I came up with a genius idea. Yup, I’m full of them. I used my largest glass casserole. The bird actually fit in the pan but the legs stuck over the end. Another light bulb went off in my brain. I would create a tin foil structure under the glass pan to catch any drippings. Also, just in case of excess dripping I laid a piece of tin foil on the bottom of the oven. Now, some of you who know what a novice move this was are shaking your head right about now. You’ve either done this or know better than to do it. At some point the drippings made it to the lower lining of tin foil and when I went to take it off the bottom of the oven and toss it, it wouldn’t come off. Oh-oh. Finally I got the majority of it off leaving about eight small squares still adhering to the metal. Darn. Leaning into the oven I noticed writing towards the front of the bottom. It read, “Do Not Place Aluminum Foil on Bottom of Oven”. Swell. So, I decided to clean the oven in the hopes it would come off. It did not. I went on the Internet, because it has all the answers. I found several sites where other stupid people who had done the same thing had posted suggestions on how to remedy the situation. First thing they all said is do not use the self-clean. Insert expletive here. I am so careful with this house. My grandma always taught me you take better care of other people’s things than you do your own. My landlords bought this new oven the beginning of summer to replace the original one which went south. Sigh. I’m going to chock this disaster up to not feeling well. Sometimes you just have to accept what is and get over yourself. Hasta la vista cleaning deposit. Ach.

My sweet daughter drove my Christmas tree over yesterday and left it in my backyard. I’m sure she took a bath in Lysol after she left here and I wouldn’t blame her. Hosting this bug makes you feel a bit like a leper. I peered at her out the window and waved but sure do miss giving my girl a hug and a kiss but life is what it is at the moment and I have to keep reminding myself nothing lasts forever.

So, today I shall decorate my tree and watch holiday movies. That always puts a smile on my face. Hope your holiday was a good one including lots of good food on your table, and if not in person, virtual get togethers with friends and family.

I’m going to begin and finish my holiday shopping this weekend. Have no good idea what to buy for everyone but I shall persevere.

Talk soon. Stay safe.

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Well, another Halloween, and for me another birthday, have been put to bed. Now the big boys of the holiday clan lie ahead, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Trying to get into my grateful mode, which involves being thankful for what I have, not what I am lacking, I am trying to resist sticking out my boo-boo lip at not spending these beloved holidays with my family. Covid has certainly changed the landscape of our world since it’s arrival on the scene, but in the old “if life gives you lemons, make lemonade” line of thinking, if it is just myself, a dear friend, and Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, seated at the table we will proceed in a festive mood.

Watching the trick or treaters come up to the porch Halloween night to grab some candy out of the bowl I left for them on the chair, really served to accent how much has changed this year. To be honest, I was surprised to see any children at all. It felt a bit lonely peeking out at them through my curtain, but it made me happy to hear them giggle as they grabbed their treats and went on down the road to the next house with a welcoming light on.

November 1st was my birthday. Yup, I have gone and added yet another ring around my trunk. I know I’m beginning to be long in the tooth, but truth is, I still feel, and often act, like a kid. I intend to keep that inner child alive and active until I’ve made it to the end of my last mile here. Aging is one thing, but getting old, well, it’s simply not my style. My grandmother told me once when she was in her ninety-second year, “I am a eighteen year old girl, trapped in a ninety-year old body”. For some reason that always stayed with me. She was to remain with us until she was ninety-six. Her vision, hearing and sense of taste and smell were gone at that point and I believe she’d grown tired of her ever diminishing world and was ready to fall in step with my grandfather who’d left us some thirty years before. Sometimes I look at my mother and wonder how she feels about the whole program. Because she’s lost the ability to communicate her feelings succinctly due to the dementia, I suppose I will be left to wonder. I do my best to keep her safe and happy. Modern medicine has extended our time on earth, but not necessarily increased the quality of the extra time we have here.

I had the most unsettling dream several nights ago. In my dream, company was coming for Christmas. My living room was a sea of half opened boxes with ornaments, wreaths, and all manner of holiday decorations scattered around me on the carpet. There were other people in the room and the plan, as I understood it in my dream, was we were going to put up the tree and decorate the house. As I began to unpack the box next to me containing the tree segments, I realized I could not remember how they went together. As the dream continued, I became more and more confused and unable to comprehend how to do even the simplest of tasks such as using a tape dispenser. Though I’m not an expert on interpreting dreams, my best guess here would be this dream allowed me a window through with which to view my mother’s world since dementia took the wheel. Having a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s is like losing them one small piece at a time. Gradually, the person you once knew fades into the background. In my case, my mother is happy and content and can still engage with me in conversation (not how to split the atom, but simple conversation) and knows who I am and recognizes my children every time I visit. For this I am most blessed.

Sometimes I think this generation doesn’t understand the value of the older members of our population. Having lived for a long time, they generally have so much to share about what they have seen and much to contribute by way of wisdom as to what is going on in our world today. They are like old oak trees. When they are sprouts, trees have spindly, unsteady limbs and sparse foliage. As they grow and flourish, they fill out, providing lush shade for those beneath them and shelter for the birds and animals making their homes there.

My grandmother taught me much about the world. I like to think perhaps my grandchildren have learned a little something from me. As our grandchildren get older and become more independent they seem to need us less, but I don’t believe that to be true. What is true, is that when they are young we are super stars in their life but when they reach young adults we are replaced with devices and peers. That is the natural way of things. However, the bond we develop with them when they are youngsters should endure as they mature and grow into adulthood. I know I was still my Gammy’s “dear Little Susan” until the day she passed away.

I think of family a lot lately. It’s like when you’re on a diet and all you can imagine having is a greasy cheeseburger and a big stack of onion rings. Being without them is a life lesson. When having them back within hugging distance, I have promised myself never to take that privilege for granted again.

Another election is also complete, or at least the votes have been counted and a winner declared. Having so many voters show up to the polls with Covid on the move to cast their ballots, is a indication of how strongly citizens of the United States felt about the outcome of this race. Whichever side your allegiances fell, and whether you are pleased or disappointed with the winning ticket, at least it is over and perhaps we can all find some middle ground with which to begin a civil conversation again. I, for one, would like to see us all begin to work for common goals so we can get out of the current pot of stew we are in. Perhaps that is simply too idealistic of a goal, but at least to be able to open our minds to thinking other than our own might be a step in the right direction?

I had the overwhelming urge today to take my shoes off and run across the grass in my bare feet, so I did. Last night I danced with the cat. One must find their joy where they can.

Thanksgiving will not be traditional this year. Rather than whine about it, I will get a turkey and create all the side dishes. A friend of mine will come and we will have a socially distanced dinner with all the trimmings with a dish on the floor for Miss Boo and Maya, my friend’s dog. I will Zoom with my kids and he will with his. Hopefully, we can catch a game or two but there will be no Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade this year to enjoy over coffee. That being said, I’m going to find the original Miracle on 34th Street and get my fix of parade footage there.

So, change is in the air. Someone told me the other day that they found change very disconcerting. For me, change is simply the natural flow of life. Nothing, and I repeat, nothing, remains the same forever. With each wave that rolls into shore, thousands of bits of shells are rearranged into an entirely different pattern. Leaves fall, people move, children are born, and people die. Each day is a state of flux and we are left to drift along in the current and take each turn in the bend as it presents itself to us.

I leave you with my introspective musings and promise to come back with a lighter story on my next writing. Stay safe. Let’s clear the slate and write something new and upbeat on it to carry us forth.

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frozen-colorful-leaves-picture-quote-do-your-best-598pxThis morning I laid in bed and got to thinking about motives. Not the kind of motive such as why Sally stabbed Stan with a butcher knife when she found him with the au pair, but rather the underlying motives guiding our behavior in any given situation. I wonder if these motives are subconsciously driven or if we actually are aware of what we are doing and move forward anyhow.

This line of thought actually developed from a conversation between my hair dresser and myself yesterday. As I mentioned in a previous blog, many a world problem is solved while seated in a salon chair getting your roots retouched.  My hairdresser, Emily, is a lovely young woman in her mid thirties with three children. The oldest, and only girl, is ten. Ten is a tween age, not really a teen as yet but not a little girl. A difficult time when your body is changing and vulnerability is high. Children truly can be the cruelest beings. Many memories haunt me about being teased for being chubby as a child. One such incident, involving an insipid little sixth grader standing behind me in line to sharpen pencils, stands out in particular. While in line I took a step back nearly stepping on his foot. Reacting as if I had, he yelled loudly “Look out, fatso! If you stepped on me you’d squash me flat as a pancake!” Being a true scorpio at heart, I wanted badly to step on him, and step on him real hard. Then, after I had succeeded in squashing him flat as a pancake I would have enjoyed inserting his already pointy little head in the pencil sharpener. That, most likely, is a conversation best left for my therapist. Sharp tongues can wound as deeply as sharp objects, perhaps more deeply.

Emily went on to explain she and her husband are of Italian descent. It is not telling tales out of school I don’t believe to say some Italian’s can lean towards having more hair on their bodies. Why this is I have no clue but I have had Italian friends over the years who have dealt with waxing their upper lips and some, like this young lady, were blessed with dark hair on their legs. After numerous incidents involving teasing about hairy legs leaving her little girl in tears Emily purchased an electric shaver and the girl began to regularly shave her legs. This, thankfully gave the teasers no ammunition with which to arm their tongues causing the teasing to fizzle out. Amazingly though the taunting stopped, Emily was rebuked by other mothers in her circle saying the girl was too young for such a process. Really? Perhaps the issue isn’t whether she’s too young to shave her legs but rather that we as parents aren’t instilling the importance of kindness and respect for others in our offspring? I’m just saying.

Meanness is not reserved for the under twenty set. I have a dear friend who is painfully blunt, bordering on mean at times. One does not always have to say everything entering ones mind, even if it happens to be the truth. For example if asked if a pair of jeans are flattering when they are not might it not be better to reply, “I really like the black ones better, or they are not my favorite” rather than something like “they make your legs look like pier pilings”. There is a difference between being honest and being unkind. The phrase “brutally honest” comes to mind. I prefer being tactful when confronted with such a question.

The other day I took my mother out for lunch and shopping. Dementia, for those not dealing with it, slowly robs the sufferer of their short term memory essentially erasing the memory bank a piece at a time. In my mother’s case she won’t retain something I’ve told her five minutes ago but might remember with incredible clarity something that happened sixty years ago. Boundaries in the brain become blurred and behaviors you would expect to see in a child often begin to surface. In a way, it allows you to grieve slowly. Whether this is less or more painful I’m not sure. However, I am blessed every day to still be able to spend such an afternoon with my mother and grateful for each bit of time I am allotted. After lunch I wheeled her about the parking lot in her wheelchair now a permanent part of our world since her hip fracture. We stopped to look at all the trees some still brightly decked out with fall foliage. She seems to find nature fascinating of late as if seeing everything with fresh eyes. Interesting. I left her smiling and happy at her board and care after a fun day. Arriving home I got a text from her caregiver reading, “sad face emoji, Your mother was sitting at dinner with the other ladies. When asked how her day with her daughter went she replied, ‘I didn’t see my daughter today.’ Isn’t that sad?” I sat there for a moment before responding wondering what on earth was the point of such a message?What I wanted to respond was “Why would you tell me that?”, because I couldn’t imagine the point. Instead of getting angry or allowing it to ruin my precious day I responded, “I am well aware that mother doesn’t hold a memory these days. However, she is there with me in the moment, and I am there with her. Whether she knows I was there or not, I know I was there. I take the memory with me and store it on her behalf. Life is as it is and like a lemon you must squeeze it hard to extract all the juice from it.”

It is important to think about what you are saying or texting. Texting in particular has no “voice” if you will. Sometimes I will reread something I have written quickly and realize it might have “sounded” terse or come across in a way I didn’t mean. Words cannot be taken back whether spoken or written.  Apologies can be offered and accepted but mean spirited intentions tend to hang in the air casting a shadow over future interactions whether forgiven or not.

Yesterday I finished up the last of my holiday shopping. The parking lot at the mall was a flurry of activity when I arrived. Cars lined up along the aisles waiting for parking spots to open up. After circling the wagons for a half an hour I finally snagged a spot about a mile from the store I was going to and was happy to have found it. A lady in a pick up truck with a wreath tied on the fender passed me as I was walking. Another driver going the opposite direction came fairly close to her and the pick up lady shouted a decidedly non-holiday like greeting out her window while offering her a one finger salute.  Horns honked here and there and irritated faces wandered about either looking for their cars in the sea of vehicles or headed into the mall. “Merry Christmas to all”, I was tempted to say but thought somebody might leave tire marks on me so just kept walking.

Inside the store people were milling about. One lady was spread out on the floor opening boxes of glasses and inspecting every one. Her husband, a tired looking man, stood next to her holding her packages and handbag probably with visions of a cold beer and a football game dancing in his head.

Finally getting through the line a lovely lady dressed head to toe like an elf checked me out. Friendly and conversational she wished me the merriest of Christmases complementing me on everything from my hair to the color nail polish I was wearing. Some people just find their niche and tuck themselves in it. Maybe she really was an elf? All things are possible in this marvelous universe.

Soooooo, hope your holidays are going well. Keep of good cheer. It takes more energy to be unpleasant than to create a smile. I don’t know that to be true but would like to think so.

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I got my hair done today in preparation for the holiday. You learn so much while sitting the salon chair. The girl next to me was getting the works done, hair, makeup and nails for her bachelorette party on Friday. The lady behind me had just lost forty pounds and was having her hair dyed in celebration of the weight loss. It’s not that I purposely eavesdrop, but the chairs are huddled together in a circle so conversations sort of hover in the air. Emily, my hair dresser, was telling me she has to attend three Thanksgivings every year. Seems her in-laws parted ways a decade ago in what was a contentious divorce. Each party has since remarried. So, Emily, her husband and three little ones go to dinner at her mother-in-law and her new husband’s home the weekend before Thanksgiving, then have dinner with her father-in-law and his new wife on the big day, followed up by a big celebration with Em’s family at home the weekend after. On Christmas this is repeated only with her family receiving top billing. After listening to her I was exhausted. I hope she has “fat pants” for the occasion. That’s a lot of turkey.

When Rick was with me we had turkey on Thanksgiving going with an alternate choice for Christmas such as prime rib or lamb. One year we even had lobster, a nod to my Canadian roots, which was totally decadent and delicious. For Rick, like many  people from what I understand, turkey was not at the top of his favorites list. I’m kind of with my mom in that I like turkey but view it more as a vessel for the stuffing to reside in and not the star of the meal. My day after turkey sandwich however, is a show stopper. Mayo, cranberry sauce, stuffing and turkey with a little salt and pepper. Yum and yum.

The tree will come out of the shed this week along with the sea of red and green bins in which all my decorations are housed. Last year being my first Christmas on my own was somewhat less than jolly, but I have regained some of my holiday spirit this year and am looking forward to putting up all my familiar holiday goodies on the day after turkey day. This is tradition for me, and in keeping with my traditions the day after Christmas they will once again be taken down. I know many people keep theirs up until New Years Day but by the time Christmas is in the bag, if you will, I am done with twinkling lights and wrapping paper. By then I am ready to put my feet up, have some hot chocolate, and take a rest before having to look at the upcoming year.  Some people still have their house lights on well into spring.  Others leave them up year round. Can’t decide whether they are just too lazy to take them down or they really, really, really like the holidays. I have one friend who left her tree up until it was nearly time to turn on the air conditioning.

Used to be a time I wouldn’t have entertained the thought of having an artificial tree. Always I insisted on having a fresh tree to have all the piney aromas in my living room. Flocked trees were my favorite, the type with the real clumped snow look to them that leave a trail of white all over your house both coming and going. I used to keep a lint brush by the front door for visitors who dared to venture to close. On several Christmases we took the children to the mountains to the tree farm. There’s something visceral about using an axe to cut the tree down then driving home singing Christmas carols with the tree tied to the roof of your car. Perhaps it’s left over from when our ancestors dragged home a kill to the hungry villagers.

Finally the weather is catching up with the season here in Northern California. People have been running around in shorts and tee shirts up until several days ago. The first snow is due in the mountain areas over the weekend. I am thankful to be down the hill from snow country this year. As beautiful as the world looks when the snowflakes begin to pile up on the tree boughs, driving in the aftermath is a pain and getting out of the steep driveway in my old house was downright dangerous to my well being. I’ve heard where I am in the lower foothills is occasionally dusted. An occasional snowfall is most welcome. The terrain is flat from here to my car where I live now, so I am far less likely to end up on my face. Twice while up in Grass Valley I went out to the car in the morning only to end up on my behind on the front porch. Now I am not against a good dance once and a while, but not before my coffee, in frigid weather, and definitely not when airborne.

Retailers are beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Unbelievably in the stores I found the Halloween 50% sale items on the shelf with Santa and his entourage. Maybe they should just combine the holidays having Santa riding in a pumpkin, eating a turkey leg?  They certainly don’t waste much time. Some of the Black Friday items were already on sale weeks ago. Pretty soon we’ll be celebrating it after Labor Day. I have so far bought one present and December 25th is one month away.  Though I love to be able to give to my loved ones it can be so stressful trying to figure out what to give and traversing the packed stores and endless lines. Most probably most of my shopping will be done on line. This year will be our little guys second Christmas. Viewing all this wonderment through his eyes will be exciting. That experience I am looking forward to the most. Also, we are blessed my mother is still with us. So many things to be thankful for besides what is wrapped under the tree.s

On a side note, I took my first clay modeling class yesterday. I have been trying to get into such a class since 1988. One thing or another always seemed to block my way. The class was three hours. That seemed like a long time when I signed up but have to say it went by so quickly when I was told it was time to hang up my apron for the day I was disappointed. How fun it was to learn something new and get my hands all gooey in the process. I made a snowman and a bowl which I shall show you once they’re glazed and fired.

Have a great day. Take a chance to learn something new or teach someone else something they haven’t experienced.

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Another holiday has surfaced. Bunnies and chocolate eggs line the shelves in the market, and Easter finery has being purchased and pressed to make a good showing in church on Sunday. Rewind a few years and my mother would have been buffing a sparkling shine on my Mary Jane’s and retrieving the obnoxious flower adorned hat from the box in closet. For this reason, and many others I am glad it is 2016.

Growing up in my grandparent’s house, Easter revolved around the three f’s. Faith, family and food. My mother stopped attending services during my formative years. Mainly, I believe, after a test of her faith when my father passed away unexpectedly at the age of twenty-five. My grandmother, however, could be seen seated somewhere towards the front of the church religiously (if you will) every Sunday morning. Always she wore a hat, dress, and hose. Her zippered bible was held tightly in her gloved hands on her lap, her head slightly bent in meditation. On most visits my small being could be seen shuffling and squirming in the seat next to her waiting for the sermon to end so we could get home to whatever delicious piece of whole meat was cooking the oven. The main meal was served at noon on the Sabbath. A light supper followed around 6:00 p.m. after my grandfather finished his rounds at the hospital. Trays were set up in the family room on the second floor in front of the small black and white television set, a recent addition. It got three channels if I recall, and on Sunday nights was tuned into “I Love Lucy” and “Ed Sullivan”, both shows my grandfather never missed unless called in for an emergency.

It seems funny to think of Lucy as prime time at this juncture in my life. I’m sure both grandparents, gone a long time now, would be amazed at the advances in technology since the days when they were first introduced to the boob tube. Certainly there was no DVR, with only 3 channels it would have seemed overkill. All in all a simpler time to live. With World War II a distant memory, life settled into a sort of a steady pace. Certainly there were heinous events to deal with, but not like we see in our headlines today.

I was reminding my grandchildren recently my childhood was not without boogey men. The cold war came into being while I was still in pigtails. Regularly in school we were instructed to get under our desks during a bomb drill. The “Red Menace” overseas was a ghostly presence and spies populated the movies presented on the big screen as well as our neighborhoods and offices. What we’re dealing with now seems far more sinister, somehow. Although any threat to your homeland and well being can be viewed as such. The intention seemed clearer back in the day perhaps or the enemy more distinct. Whatever the case if I was overseas I would light a candle for those we have lost and remember how precious freedom is during this election year. One has to wonder when watching this political campaign what is to become of us after the election in November. Canada is always a good option for me. I’m still on the roster there.

Today, however, I am thinking happy and uplifting thoughts while my potatoes happily boil in anticipation of being thrown in the bowl with the celery, onion, and pickles to become my Grandmother’s Potato Salad. I have the handwritten recipe still in her familiar script, though I rarely refer to it these days having made the potato salad many many times over the years. Often I am asked for the recipe and have shared it, even going so far as to print it out in handout form so I don’t have to repeat it. Each time I hear back it didn’t come out as tasty as my version. Why that is can probably be explained simply by my familiarity with the ingredients or the weight of my cook’s hand over the bowl. Each cook has their own touch with a utensil. Once a lady gave me a look as if to say, “you withheld one of the ingredients, right”? Wrong. I would never do that for several reasons. One, it isn’t very nice, and secondly my name will come up when someone tastes it at a party or gathering when someone whispers “this potato salad sucks”, and someone whispers back “It’s Susie’s recipe”.

This year Easter coincides with my mother’s birthday which falls on the 26th. We will be celebrating with lobster tails and twice baked potatoes. Yummer.

I hope you and yours have a safe and fun Easter as well as the rest of an uneasy world. This is a repost for friend Amy.

These colorful bites add a little color to your table.

Colorful Deviled Eggs

13 large eggs (1 as a spare)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 Tbsp. yellow mustard, prepared
Freshly ground black pepper
Dash of salt
Bread and butter pickles for garnish
4 Food colors

Place eggs in cold water to cover in large saucepan. Bring to boil and remove from heat and cover. Allow to sit for 20 mins. Run under cold water and peel.

Slice each egg in half lengthwise. Scoop yolks into mixing bowl (I use a small spoon to clean them thoroughly). Mash yolks against the side of the bowl with a fork until a coarse crumble.

Add mayonnaise, mustard, pepper and light salt. It is easy to over salt so taste and add sparingly. Set aside.

Fill four bowls 1/2 full with warm water. Place five or so drops of food coloring in each bowl to create four separate colors. Equally distribute the white halves in the bowls and allow to sit until color sets. Remove with slotted spoon and pat dry with paper towels.

Place yolks in pastry bag or cut one diagonal slice off the bottom of a large resealable plastic bag and squeeze decoratively into colored bottoms. Put a small nibble of pickle on top and sprinkle with paprika.

I like to add parsley to the plate for contrast.

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After the past few weeks I believe there should be a Guide to Surviving the holidays lining Barnes and Noble shelves. A simple “how-to” book offering the reader helpful tips to manage their time, their relatives, their kitchen, without leaving hair in the sink and turning to the wine rack for solace. As I don’t drink, or rarely imbibe, I might more likely look to the white box on the entry way table marked “See’s”. Ah yes, the dark chocolate nibble with the sprinkles on top does much my friends to ease a tired mind.

All the little wrinkles and imperfections in a family seem to rise to the surface during the holidays. Perhaps it is because we spend more time together in an excitement fueled party like atmosphere, or just memories of holidays good and bad are revisited, or old wounds or the love we share come to mind. I have no answers as usual, only questions about why this seems to be true.

My mother has determined I should write a book about our family. She feels it would fly off the shelves. Truly, looking back there is definitely some material for a volume or two, but I would have to write it under a pseudonym if I wish to continue living my life in my space.

We made it down to the Bay Area just before Christmas accompanied by many other travelers, and back again with my mother and her roommate in tow. As we age it seems the roles reverse in a way with our parents. Where they once watched over us, we are now tasked with keeping an eye on them. I adore my mother so this is a job I try to approach with much patience and joy. I know some day the memories I make with her now will be what I have to keep moving forward when she is no longer with me.

Getting everyone packed and ready to go was a project. I reminded my mom to grab the garage door opener as they were being picked up at the train station by a shuttle service on the way back and she would need it to get in. Five minutes later I found her standing in front of the open garage trying to close the door with her car keys. Okay. I find myself doing odd things these days myself, so I simply explained that pushing the little button marked “trunk” was never going to achieve the desired result of closing the door to the garage.

People have told me I am a fairly patient being. This is not entirely true. There are times when I want to throw my hands up in the air and run screaming down the street. For the most part I try to remain calm. Losing your temper or getting frustrated doesn’t feed the screaming baby, if you get my drift.

Once everyone was loaded in the car and my mother had gone back in the house her usual two to three times to retrieve items already in the car or check the stove I assured her was off, we got the sideshow on the road. I know it is show on the road, but in our case sideshow just seems more appropriate. The plan was to meet my son and his family on the way north for lunch. They would be coming south on the same freeway returning from a from a pre-holiday ski trip to Lake Tahoe. The idea was that if we left at approximately the same time of day, at some juncture we would pass one another. Wherever that location might be we were to stop and meet for a bite to eat. Now what could possibly go wrong with such a seamless plan as that? It might had been helpful if we’d named a general location. Yes, that definitely would have given us a leg up. At least we planned on leaving on approximately the same time of day. However, we hadn’t factored in the huge snow storm blanketing the Tahoe area, nor my mother checking the house fifty times, nor the road construction and holiday traffic. Nooooo, we didn’t figure that in. Soooooo, where we passed in the middle turned out to be along a line of highway undergoing road construction where you couldn’t exit the freeway. Swell. Thankfully we had cell phone communication so as they flew by us going south, we flew by them going north. None of us familiar with the area it took ten phone conversations and three near misses to finally hook up at Applebee’s for a bit of holiday cheer.

Two of my pre-teen grandchildren were present, both what I would call “picky eaters”. One, as I recall, existed on hot dogs for an entire year, wieners being the only thing the child would consume. I have to admit parenting now as compared to parenting in the Paleozoic area when I was doing it, I would find most confusing. I never asked my children what they would they would like to eat. Rather I presented a meal worth eating and said “eat”. It seemed to work. Not that they liked everything. I would be overstating my amazing parenting skills was I to try to fly that past you. They did, however, have to at least try what was given them and if they loaded their plates were expected to eat what they took. Mom’s Rules. My son loathed peas. It was not that he hadn’t tried them, rather he had tried them often and found them revolting. There was no rhyme or reason to it, the child simply hated the little buggers. My husband decided that he was going to insist my son finish the peas on his plate. I suggested this was a bad idea but my husband persisted with the pea persecution anyhow. This, I felt, was not going to end well. The peas went down finally, but his body apparently had gotten the word from his taste buds that these little green intruders were not welcome. As quickly as they went down they reappeared, this time on my linen tablecloth. Insert “I told you so”, here. Thank you. I handed my husband a wash cloth and excused myself. My work there was done. I think kids should have the option of turning down a food they really cannot tolerate. If I found okra on my plate every night for dinner you would have to get in a large supply of linen tablecloths to handle the traffic. However, I also believe kids need to be exposed to new and different tastes and not limited to canned corn as a vegetable. Just my thoughts for the day.

These oatmeal cookies are crispy on the outside with a chewy yummy middle. They disappear like free money when I make them for visitors.

Hope your year has started out with a roar. Everybody’s in line for the Power Ball drawing as no one won again last night. I’m sure my little ticket has winner written all over it. I understand the odds of winning are as likely as me having identical quintuplets. Hmmm.

Brandy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

12 Tbsp. of butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. brandy
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup raisins
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375

Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla extract, and brandy. Mix until well blended.

In a separate mixing bowl whisk together cinnamon, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture in increments, mixing well with each addition. Add oats, raisins and walnuts and mix well.

Use two spoons to form balls and Place 2″ apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Press down slightly with fork.

Bake for 15 mins. until golden brown.

Allow to rest on cookie sheet for 5 mins. before removing to rack to cool.

Makes a little over two dozen

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Heading toward the downhill slope I have my gifts mostly purchased, partially wrapped, and feel the weight of holiday shopping slowly oozing off my shoulders. As our family has grown, choosing gifts for everyone has become a process. I try to be creative, tucking little hints passed on from loved ones over the year in the storage center in my brain. My mother always proves the most difficult. A woman who is self-described as devoid of patience, if she suggests any items she might want quite often it will already have been purchased before you can retrieve a credit card from your wallet.

Mother and her roommate will be our guests for the holidays this year. I have decorated accordingly, bringing out the extra boxes I often leave untouched when just Rick and I are in attendance.  Turkey is on the menu, as I imagine is the case in a large percentage of American households. We had prime rib for Thanksgiving to satisfy Rick’s need for steed, and now it is on to moist stuffing, fluffy mashed potatoes topped with yummy gravy, and creamed onions. My taste buds are throwing a party as I write this. I will be baking my oft requested apple and cheddar pie, as well as a pumpkin pie for my mother. The apple pie is for Rick, not a fan of pumpkin going so far as to tell me my pumpkin pie candle when burning gives him indigestion. Really?

At last our parched hillsides are being treated to a welcome dose of water. Storms have been passing over with enthusiastically received regularity. Our yard looks like a leaf depository, with not a square inch left uncovered. I’ve given it the good fight but have finally conceded defeat running out of places to tuck the darn things once the “yard refuse” bin has reached it’s capacity. Neighbors have their own healthy supply so there’s no relief there so I accept the leaves as a part of living in the tall trees and move on to more pressing problems to concern myself with.

I have allowed the house to go to ruin until this week busy with a thousand other things. As I’ve aged my need for perfection 24/7 has blurred into the need for a clean house but not always a pristine one. My reasoning with this is that if I spent all last weekend cleaning the house to a sparkling shine, this upcoming weekend would be spent in the same pursuit as dust waits for no man. That being said, I will haul my pile of cleaning products out from under the sink on Thursday and begin the task of making the house suitable for guests (in particular my white-gloved mother). After a thorough cleaning Rick always says he finds himself left with a craving for salad. This probably attributed to the large bottle marked “Vinegar and Water” I carry around with me. Vinegar really is the most amazing substance. It works on windows, grease, certainly helps out oil on lettuce, excellent for cleaning blinds, and a myriad of other handy cleanup uses. I even use it to clean my floors. When you compare the cost of a jug of vinegar to the cost of window cleaner there is no way I’m not going to go for a more natural cleaner achieving the same desired result. Insert end of vinegar infomercial here.

I still have presents sitting downstairs in need of wrapping. Back in the day I was a proficient wrapper. Seriously, I could have been hired at a local department store on their holiday wrapping team. Always I made perfect corners, chose just the right paper and accessorized my gifts with little extras or extravagant bows. These days if the paper is on, secured with tape, and you can’t read what’s written on the box I’m good to go. There just isn’t enough time in the day for all the extras. Whatever did I do when I worked full-time? I’m surprised I found time to sleep. Maybe it is that I don’t move as quickly these days, or perhaps the folds in my brain require a little more effort to release information, I’m not sure. Whatever the case I don’t seem to find the hours for the minute details the way I used to. There was a woman on the news who shared a picture of her tree obscured by three hundred wrapped gifts sitting around it. OMG. My hat is off to her. Number one no way did my children open three hundred gifts but never would I have had the patience to wrap them if they had.

Women, so studies reveal, are the multi taskers of the two sexes. Men, it seems, are more likely to focus on one thing and do that well, while we ladies are able to watch the soup on the stove, do a load of dishes, talk on the phone, and let the cat out while balancing the checking account. Makes me celebrate my femaleness. In a world where I’m assigned numerous tasks, was a left to study them one at a time undoubtedly a meal would only show up once a week.

Sometimes I find myself standing at the stove wondering what I want to create there. So many meals have I prepared over the years it can prove daunting some days to keep it fresh (if you will) and interesting. To this end I read a lot, watch cooking shows, and experiment on an unsuspecting Rick to keep us well nourished and not yawning over our plates. I would like to suggest that while creating puppies in a petri dish perhaps they could come up with something new in the area of edibles. I am running out of surprises with the present assortment of foods and would find it interesting to have a new vegetable or meat source to work with. Where is the suggestion box for that lab? I need to drop them a quick note.

So, I carry on with my quest and offer up my version of an old favorite comfort food. When I was young i often had tomatoey little nuggets show up on my plate. My grandmother served them with a steaming pile of mashed potatoes and a vegetable. I always thought that odd, two starches but in truth can you have too many starches on your plate?

Oven Baked Porcupine Meatballs

1 1/4 lbs. ground chuck
1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice
1 onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup water
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1 tsp. salt
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together ground chuck, rice, onion, 1/2 cup water, egg, pepper, garlic powder, celery salt, and salt. Form into 1 1/2″ meatballs. Brown meatballs in large skillet over med.-high heat. Drain on paper towels.

Put in casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray. Mix together tomato sauce, sugar, water, and parsley. Pour even over meatballs turning them to coat well. Cover with tin foil. Bake for 45 minutes covered. Remove foil and continue cooking for 15 mins.

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