Life’s Magic

I spent the Fourth of July having lunch with a friend, then responsibly cleaning, doing laundry, and ironing the fat pile of clothes that sits in my room staring at me every day. I could have gone to a party, but decided to stay home and get things accomplished.

If I was any more boring, I would have to be dead. Going out would have been fun, but I told myself the same thing my ex-mother-in-law used to say, “Oh, I’ve seen lots of fireworks in my life, I don’t have to see them tonight.”

As the evening wore on, I ironed, watched a movie and a few episodes of Frankie and Grace, then heard the boom of fireworks  and regretted not going out because no matter how old I get, I never get over the thrill of seeing those cascading sparkles against the navy sky. To let in some cool night air, I flung open the short casement window at the top of the stairs and noticed, that if I stood on my tiptoes, I could see flashes and sparkles in the distance. Continue reading

The Audacity to Bloom

Jamal:name.JPGA few months ago, we had some really windy days –the kind that knock down power lines and blow my casement windows open — and a tragic thing happened. Jamal got knocked off our back stairs.

Jamal is a cactus my daughter bought years ago at Ikea. He’s one hell of a cactus. He sat ignored in my daughter’s room for about a year, then got moved to the outside stairs, where he was even more ignored. Occasionally I watered him when I remembered he was even there. But mostly he was forgotten.

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Jamal’s first bloom!

Until one day when I walked past and he had a glorious yellow bloom bursting from the top of his prickly little head. I couldn’t believe it. I took a picture, told my daughter and we were in awe of him for a few days. Then Jamal’s bloom faded and we went back to forgetting him. Continue reading

The Days of Spatula Licking are Almost Over

This week, I baked cookies because someone at work asked me to. I’m pretty easy. All you have to do is flatter me by telling me my cookies are the best you’ve ever had and I’ll bake for you too.

I also baked because one of my young co-workers lost his dad to a sudden heart attack a few weeks ago and the pain is still so raw for him that it breaks my heart. So, baking his favorite chocolate chip cookies couldn’t hurt.

Miss Milena

She had the whole thing licked clean before I could even take the picture.

As I was in the kitchen baking, my daughter was on the comfy, sage colored couch in the living room working on a paper for school. I was cleaning off the beater, wondering if she’d want to lick it like she used to when she was a kid. I hesitated, thinking she might not go for it, then offered it to her. She happily took it like she did when she was three. Continue reading

Women Always Find the Good in Each Other — Garlic helps

Theresa is the first wife of my ex-husband.

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Fran and Theresa the only two members of a very exclusive club.

She rocks.

But for years I didn’t realize that because I was married to my then husband, and his characterizations may not have been completely accurate because pesky emotion was involved.

I should have known better because the son she and my ex had together is absolutely wonderful. You don’t turn out that great if there isn’t someone molding you, and the master molder was Theresa. We only got Brandon a few weekends a month, so we were assistant molders. And I have to say, that my ex was a good dad to Brandon. He loved him completely, Brandon knew it, and that makes a big difference.

But now that my ex is my ex, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Theresa much better. It all started around the time I was getting divorced. I had the massive realization that there were going to be stories out there about me that might be one-sided, colored by emotion and, therefore possibly, not completely true.

I realized then, that for decades, I’d only been getting half the story about her and their relationship.  Much of it was factual, but much was colored by emotion, and we all know emotion is a lousy gauge for accuracy. Continue reading

Dante vs. Cream of Wheat

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Cream of Wheat with blueberries and candied pecans, drizzled with honey.

I try to be deep, honest I do. I do my best to read classics and ponder life because I aspire to write deep, philosophical blogs. In fact, I’m currently reading Dante’s Inferno — who knew hell could be so icky? But because of the ADHD I keep denying I have, my brain prefers to escape the circles of hell and fixate on something I enjoy more, like food. This week I’m enamored with Cream of Wheat. So,  it’s Philosophy – 0 Food – 1 Continue reading

Saint “Tude” Knocks Me on my Butt…Again.

Dictionary of Saints

This was one of my mom’s books.  I had no idea there were so many saints!

I just consulted my Dictionary of the Saints and there is no Patron Saint of Gratitude listed. Maybe she or he is going incognito, but there is definitely a presence out there because any time I start having one of my self-indulgent, poor-me moments, I am busted by the Patron Saint of Gratitude. I think I’ll call her St. Tude. This happens about once every 1.5 years, like the day I was on my way to the therapist in 2015, and on Valentine’s Day 2014.

Continue reading

EGBOK

A few nights ago I was doing my bedtime ritual of piling pillows around me just the way I like them. I got all nice and cozy, then reached up and turned off my bedside lamp. I waited for sleep to knock me out, which for a Tunno takes about seven seconds. As I lay in the darkness of my bedroom I saw something I hadn’t seen in years.

It’s been like summer here recently with highs in the 90’s, so I sleep with my windows open. There was a little sliver of an opening, where the edge of the window swings away from the window frame and that’s where I saw it. My blazing little star.

The last time I saw it, or its cousin was probably 15 years ago when I was going through the hell that precedes a divorce. I was miserable and either unable to sleep or woke up in the middle of the night.

That night also, I saw the navy sky through the tiny space between the curtain and the window. As I lay there, I could see a small star gyrating wildly, as if it was doing everything it could to get my attention. I watched it flicker and flash for a long time, like a lit fuse. Not only did it make me feel better, but it felt like a message from my mom (a lit fuse of a woman if ever there was one.)

Then in my head, I heard her voice. She told me not to worry, that everything would be OK, and that someday I’d have more money than I knew what to do with. (This was in the midst of some serious financial crap.) I couldn’t imagine things ever getting that much better, but she was always good at making stuff up to make me feel better.

Well the star was back this week, and I waited for her voice, but never heard it. This time the voice came from inside me. It said, Keep working hard and things will turn around, you’ll see. Just keep moving forward. That’s what I’m doing and I think that’s what we all have to do right now.

I’ve talked to so many people in the past few months, who are so discouraged by politics and government and I understand. Politicians on both sides, seem to be playing a game, but to us, this matters. Our daily lives are affected, so everyone wants his or her voice to be heard.  I say write letters, make phone calls and do what you have to do to change what you can. Don’t just complain, do something. I am writing my representatives and asking them to bring back the Fairness Doctrine because I think it will make us less polarized. But we can’t let this stuff make us crazy.

I try to do what my friend Carolyn does. She seeks to understand. She really tries to figure out why people feel the way they do. She may walk away still thinking they’re totally misguided, but it makes her empathetic. And empathy is the gateway to understanding, tolerating and eventually liking others. This is very beneficial since I am the lone Democrat in a family of Republicans I happen to love. Maybe if we just pretend that everyone of the opposite party is family, things could work out.

Plus, here’s some heartening news, Glenn Beck is preaching love and understanding. Check out this article called, Glenn Beck Wants to Heal the America He Divided, One Hug at a Time, and be amazed! If this can happen, what then is not possible?

I’m old enough to know we’ve lived through frightening times before and probably will again and somehow we’ve managed to eke out some progress. I have to believe that with so many smart people in the country wanting to do what’s right, things will even out. So, I’m going to continue to work hard, stay positive and keep an eye out for twinkly stars. I feel fairly certain that if we can all avoid cataclysmic death, everything’s gonna be OK.

Or as they used to say on the Ken and Barkley morning radio show, EGBOK

best egbok

 

What Will Change in a Year?

fish-house

The Fish Shoppe, no Christmas starts without it.

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas. I love it. I love the decorating — filling the house with all my favorite things from Christmases past, laughing and remembering as we put up our ridiculous ornaments, baking, and being with family and friends. But I hate the rushing to try to get everything done and most of all, I hate taking it all down, packing it up and putting it away.

I hate it for a few reasons. Mostly, because it takes time. I’m anal enough to try to wrap each ornament in the same box it came in, if I still have it. I wish I could just be like normal people — throw it all in a box and not worry about it — but I make sure everything is wrapped securely to survive a summer in the heat of a California attic. I also make sure it’s organized so I can easily find things. I sometimes even label the boxes, but not always, because I kind of like the thrill of opening boxes and being surprised at what’s inside. Continue reading

A Day in the Life of a Soldier

Dad with Army Buddies

Dad in front, with Army buddies holding a fish.

My father proudly served in World War II as a medic in Patton’s army. When he came back from the war, he never wanted to talk about it. All he would say was is it was hell.

He did tell me that the Germans used the red crosses on their helmets as targets, and my brother tells me that the medics were eventually armed with guns for self protection.

My dad’s job was to help the wounded after they became injured in battle, so he saw the tragedy and human price of war close-up. By the time he was in his 90’s, more than 65 years after the war, he was finally able to talk about trying to piece bodies together and stop the bleeding.

I hate to even imagine what that must have been like. It affected him so much that he said when he died he wanted people to donate to the Wounded Warrior Project, which they did.

My mom kept some of the letters he sent during the war and this was a page from one of them. The date was July 26, 1945. The war was over in Europe, but Japan had not surrendered yet and there was the possibility that he might be shipped there. Continue reading

Your Mother’s Proud of You, No Matter What You Think – An Election Day Distraction Blog

Today’s election day,  and you’re going to need a distraction. I’ve got a little story about my mom and a good, easy, Italian, comfort food recipe because we’ll all need some comforting today, and probably for a while.

But be sure you vote.  Too many people have risked and lost their lives for freedom in this country for you not to vote.

Now back to the distraction.  I was responding to blog  comments a few days ago about my new job and there was one from George that said, “I am quite sure your mom is proud of you.”

I know it’s kind of crazy to worry if someone who’s been dead for 24 years is proud of you, but of course I went there. Probably because, whether your parents are alive, or dead for decades,  you still hope for their approval.  I wanted it years ago and I still do today.

I remember sitting in my dad’s car with my mom in the Northern Lights shopping center on a gray western Pennsylvania day many years ago and asking her about it. I was the only child who moved away, who pursued something out of the ordinary, who didn’t feel I’d had any particular success at that point, and who didn’t feel quite up to snuff when it came to accomplishments in life. I knew she loved me, but I wondered if she was proud of me, so I got up the nerve and asked her.

Mom and Me

She was proud of me after all!

She got the most horrified look on her face and said, “How couldda you askka such a ting? You done a so much, you went to school, you went outta dare alla by yourself, you work, you’re such a smartta gal…of course I’mma proud offa you! I can’d a believe you would askka me dat!”

I was amazed because I really didn’t think she was proud of me (which says more about me than her). I’m so grateful I asked her, and her response is something I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.

Sometimes that vicious little voice inside you convinces you of all sorts of things. You just have to know that the voice can be a liar and a big jerk. The best thing to do is say thanks for sharing, then tell it to buzz off. And remember this: Your parents are probably far more proud of you than you’ll ever comprehend.

Since I’ve been thinking about my mom I keep hearing  another, much nicer voice in my head that keeps saying, “Hey, make pasta fagiolo,” it was your mom’s favorite comfort food and you’re gonna need it today!  Plus, it’s easy! There’s no arguing with a voice like that.

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Plain Ceci di’ Pasta

My mom used to call it Ceci di’ Pasta, because she used chick peas instead of cannellini beans. It’s delicious, fast, easy,  healthy, and simple to modify! You can whip it together in about 20 minutes then go back to nervously watching election coverage.

You can add vegetables like sauteed spinach or zucchini, or you can make it with just pasta and beans and it’s great!  And now that I’ve made it, I’m certain my mom is even more proud of me.

And hang in there, the election will be a mere memory by the time Thanksgiving rolls around and our country will slowly move forward as it always does.

Ceci di’ Pasta

1/2 lb elbow pasta or whatever kind you like

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Ceci di’ pasta with spinach

1 Tbsp olive oil

5 cloves of garlic

1 medium onion diced

1 can chick peas (do not drain) or canellini beans

1 cup tomato sauce with fresh basil (I can never find sauce with basil, so I buy the canned whole tomatoes with basil, then puree them in my food processor).

(Optional: Sauteed spinach or zucchini or whatever veggie you like. You could even add meat if you want.)

Bring a pan of salted water to boil and when it’s done, add the pasta, cooking till it’s al- dente.  onions-and-garlic

While the water is coming to a boil, saute the chopped onion and garlic.  After 2 to 3 minutes, add the entire can of chick peas liquid and all. Next add the tomato sauce and cook it over low heat.  By now the water should be boiling, so add the pasta.  When the pasta is cooked, drain it and add the pasta to the chickpea and tomato sauce mixture.  Toss the pasta until it’s thoroughly mixed with the sauce and add salt and pepper to taste. Add whatever sauteed vegetable you like, or don’t add any, it will still be great. Serve hot with lots of grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. You may add crushed red pepper also.