Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Lasagna Sandwich

A while back somebody somewhere published a book about the telltale signs of the beginning of a civilization’s fall. You know, like the Roman Empire – the biggest “fall” of all. If you read just a little about it you’ll find out all kinds of bad stuff those people did to set the wheels in motion for sure destruction. One of them was their attitude towards food. More specifically, though, was the rise and glorification of celebrity chefs. Right? My eight pound old dictionary says “celebrity” means renown and honor publicly bestowed because of noted character or exploits. Huh. So let me tell you about dinner last  Sunday.

I put out the call early in the week. Join us if you’re able. Baked ziti, Italian sweet sausage, homemade garlic bread (yes, with homemade bread), blueberry pie. Sunday – we’d love to see you. #1 son jumped right one it and volunteered a Caesar Salad (our fall of Rome connection). The food came out well – maybe a  tiny bit of scorch on the garlic bread (stupid broiler – gotta watch that sucker and lay off the Merlot for a second) but otherwise, it was all yummy.

After all our concentrated gorging, when we come up for air and the kids had gone off to the living room, #3 son pipes up. He surveys the glorious leftovers and says “You know what would be good?”  We all politely burp, pat our round tummies and wait.

“A lasagna sandwich.” He says this with attending hand motions and we can almost see the layers going into this astounding creation. Pointing to the remnants of my excellent garlic bread he further illustrates, holding his hands as if in prayer. “Yeah, take two pieces of garlic bread, stuff some lasagna between them and it would make an awesome  sandwich. I’ve always thought that would be great.”

We  smiled, thinking of the glory. Three kinds of cheese, deep red sauce, perfectly cooked noodles, and lots of earthy spices all cozied up between slices of crispy bread dripping with butter, more cheese and garlic. I, of  course, would want to add a sausage or two. And #1 son, the great Caesar Salad maker, would add romaine, salad dressing and a few garlic croutons. A truly stacked sandwich – worthy of decadent Rome even. We all got teary eyed just thinking about it. Why worry about war, famine and pestilence, or the barbarians at the gate for that matter? We had this vision before us. 

The conversation went downhill shortly thereafter as we got off into the weeds with various eating contests we’d heard of and the exploits of the heroes of those sporting  events. Hot dogs, 14 pound hamburgers, row upon row of pies. Speaking of which, we hadn’t had our dessert yet. That blueberry pie  called to us from its place of renown on the big buffet. I abandoned the conversation and waddled over to get it. “I have vanilla ice cream if anyone wants.”

None of us was in any real danger of turning celebrity chef and becoming a contributor to the decay and fall of Western Civilization, but, boy oh boy, wouldn’t it be great to be the owner of a nationwide chain of lasagna sandwich shops? Or, if the barbarians do bust down that gate, maybe a lasagna sandwich will be what they’re after and not our heads. One can hope.

PS: Garlic bread recipe upon request

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, February 26, 2018

Only 22 Days Away

This is a re-run, but it reminds me of a season that’s coming – Spring. We’ve had a few hints of it this February and as of today it’s officially only 22 days away. Yay! I’m not getting too excited yet because we usually get one doozy snow storm in March, but, but, it’s on its way! So, in honor of the upcoming season here’s one of my favorite poems from “A Child’s Garden of Verses.”

The Swing
By Robert Louis Stevenson

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside –

Till I look down on the garden green,
Till I look down on the roof so brown –
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

All six of our grandchildren have gone up in the air so blue on the plastic swing hanging from our giant maple tree out back. When it was new it was shiny yellow and red with a t-shaped bar the snapped in place to keep them from flying out. They all loved to be pushed high enough to kick the leaves on one branch that dangles in front of them. And they would, when very little, sometimes fall asleep as they went back and forth, back and forth.

Ah, the pleasant sunny days of childhood. We think they’ll never end when we’re six or seven or eight. But soon enough we look back with longing and can only go there again in brief flashes. Like in Mr. Stevenson’s poem.

Hurry Spring. We need you

Photo: My miniature daffodils from last year

Monday, February 19, 2018

My Olympic Feet - Uh - Feat

Back when I was in my late 30’s, the same year sliced bread was invented, I was an adventuresome kind of gal. We had three kids, boys, full of all kinds of energy, good and bad, and athletic. So, when they asked about going to Haystack, a local skiing destination, I agreed that it would be a way cool family experience. There was only one problem.

I had nothing to wear.

“You can wear my old ski pants and jacket,” said husband. In his youth he’d been a speed skater. Even made it to one Olympic prelim. Medals all over the place. That’s how I met him. He asked me to skate. So I took up his suggestion and donned his vintage, before Gore Tex, ski ensemble. The pants were heavy brown wool and the coat, also wool, was bright blue. When I donned my gray fuzzy hat and black gloves I bore a startling resemblance to the Michelin Man off to his first clown rodeo. But once on the mountain, I was beyond toasty. I felt surrounded by happy children and inspiring winter scenery.

This mountain had an awesome bunny hill and a simple to use T bar. You know, grab the T, hang on and up the little hill you go. You glide up on your skies thus avoiding the possible disaster of plopping off the chairlift and doing a face plant in the snow. Really, looking like a big blue and brown marshmallow was bad enough.


Each of my guys took their turn with me. Once I let go of the T bar, one or the other would ski slowly down beside me to make sure I didn’t fall and become a human snowball. They all knew that Mom Was Not A Skier. Even hubby took a turn.

Under their tutelage I was doing pretty well. Had my “wedge” mastered – kind of. I was well padded, naturally and otherwise. On one of my runs I was feeling that I could go it alone now. This is how all those Olympic types must feel I thought as I breezed on down. I told my guys to go off to the big hill and I’d be okay on my own.

And I was for about two runs. On the third run I stopped at the top of the bunny slope and lined myself up to swoosh down towards the rope line and the T bar. I took a deep breath. I shoved off. I began to pick up a little speed as I went along. I became slightly alarmed but I had that wedge thing going. I could do this.

That’s when I spied her. A delicate little flower of a woman all dressed in perfect white ski garb standing primly in line with  a light wind touching the fur trim on her jacket hood. Just charming. A bunny on the bunny hill. I wanted to be her.

As she  moved slowly towards the T bar, I began to barrel clumsily towards her. I fought for control. Dang wedge! Faster now. I didn’t dare shout and imperil the bit of control I did have. “I’m going to take her out!” My terrified brain screamed. “Look out, Bunny Lady, look out!” I tried mightily to think of how a real Olympic champ would handle this. Nothing came to mind – because they are champs and I am not. A big fat zero would be coming up on that stupid electronic scoreboard for Michelin Girl Rodeo Clown.

As I was imagining profuse apologies and trying to think of what lawyer might take on my case something wonderful happened.

An arm swung out in front of me and stopped me cold just as I was within striking distance of Bunny Lady. My son Eric had seen my distress from afar and and zoomed heroically to my rescue. I heaved a huge sigh and instantly forgave him for all the crazy teen stuff he’d ever done (a lot!) hanging onto his proffered arm for dear life. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

I do wonder, though, if there could ever be an Olympic event where a puffy circus clown and a bunny lady could do a ski ballet kind of thing. Probably not. Thankfully Bunny Lady doesn’t even know I exist.

Image: Free Digital Photos

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

My Downton Abbey Binge

You know what binging is, right? I was pretty sure I did, but I looked it up in my 8 pound  dictionary from-the-last-century anyway. To binge is slang for a drunken spree. OR , and I like this better, to soak. Well, that’s what I’ve been doing on these dark winter nights.  Soaking in Downton Abbey. It’s been three years since the series ended and I’ve purposely not gone back just so I could forget some stuff and really enjoy it again the second time (and believe me – I forget a lot of stuff these days!). In doing so some things have come to light.

Like many of the women who fell in love with DA, I, at first, identified with Lady Mary Crawley. Of course I did. Young, slim, perfect skin, gorgeous dresses and just crammed full of arrogance and her sense of place. Her view of life from way up there felt right somehow. The young, slim and snotty part began to go South, however, shortly into my binge.

So, I moved on to thinking I more identified with Lady Grantham, Mary’s mother. Twenty years longer in the tooth and still slim and elegant, but with some generosity in her soul. She’s lived a little and has an underlying kindness in her attitude towards her husband and children. Yeah, that’s more like me.

But then . . . I took a look at the Dowager Countess, also known as Cousin Violet, Lord Grantham’s mother. She’s a toxic, witty, stubborn, hidden soft side kind of woman. Not wanting life to change that much, but sort of fascinated by the present era. Maybe I’m more like that.

And then the snarky  creeps in.

If Lady Mary stood sideways and stuck out her tongue, she’d look like a zipper (old joke). If you put a whole stick of butter in her mouth, it would take three weeks for it to melt. I’m not a zipper and I love butter. Lady Mary and I have parted ways.

If Lady Grantham said, “Robert” with her head tilted ever so slightly while gazing at her husband one time she said it a thousand. Slightly annoying. And she’s a caver – gives in to everybody. What’s with that? Stand your ground, woman. Looks like I’m no LG, either.


That leaves the Countess. More and more I feel like she’s me. Two maxims come to mind when I think of her. Happy wife, happy life. And. If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. I think my husband and children would be on board here. Plus, when I look in the mirror nowadays I see what cousin Violet sees, I’m sure. Something resembling a noble prune – with pearls.

Well, there you have it. What have  you been binging on lately? And if it’s a dizzying amount of chocolate, wine, or the whole 1,656 episodes of Dallas, send me a private note. Have the butler bring it on a silver tray.

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, January 29, 2018

Let's Hear it for the Sidekick

Ah, the noble sidekick. Don’t you just love them? A few  have been dancing around in my head lately and I thought I’d share.

The first time I even became aware that there was such a thing was way back when the old movie channel would show Laurel and Hardy. As a kid Stan and Ollie could really get me going. Mom didn’t think it was so funny when I’d try some of the head thumping moves I’d learned on my very own sidekicks (aka my sisters), but I had to try. I got just as annoyed at their antics as Ollie did with Stan’s. In my estimation he dealt justly. Heh. 

Next down the line was Vivian Vance who was the comic foil for Lucille Ball in I Love Lucy. Who wouldn’t love to have some wide-eyed alter ego ready to come to our aid no matter what kind of lunacy or hot mess we found ourselves in? Take a look at this.  You can tell they really “needed” each other.

Then there’s good old Eddie Haskell my favorite character in Leave It To Beaver. I often tried to channel him, too, with the same mysteriously hostile results from my sisters. What was the matter with them. Had they no appreciation for sarcasm and creative deception? Every time Eddie came into a scene I was right there laughing myself silly. I had a big crush on Wally, but Eddie had a little piece of my mischievous  heart, too. I’m still not sure I believe that he, Ken Osmond, outgrew the Beaver and went on to become a police office. Watch this. Eddie comes on at 5:14 if you don’t want to watch the whole episode. But it’s typical Eddie. Love that guy.

Now let’s haul this forward a few decades and talk about Kramer that lovable goofball of Seinfeld fame. He captured a whole nation’s attention whenever he burst through his friend Jerry’s apartment door.  When I went to You Tube to search for clips, I found some moments. It’s taken me a little longer to write my blog this morning because I was laughing so hard. But three tissues later, I’m good.

I often put sidekicks in my fiction and I think they can enrich a story and echo what goes on in the lives of ordinary folks. I’ve had the occasional sidekick and have been one, too. 

How about you?

Image: Free Digital Photos 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Book Review Anyone?

Time for some book reviews? I think so. I’ve been on a non-fiction kick lately. So I’ll start with those first.

From Silk to Silicon by Jeffrey Garten – I was always a big fan of his wife’s (Ina Garten) cooking show and now I’m a fan of his, too. He begins in China with Genghis Kahn and ends in China with  Deng Xiaoping.  In between we have such notables as Cyrus Field, John D. Rockefeller and Margaret Thatcher, people who affected your life and maybe you don’t even know it. For instance, Cyrus Field was the tycoon who laid the first trans Atlantic cable making communication across the ocean incredibly fast. And the man failed time after time before he finally accomplished the task in 1866. It took 13 years but he hung in there. Amazing stuff. This is a book I’ll read again. There’ s so much in there that I’ll have to.

The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell – I’m a long time coming to Orwell. Never read Animal Farm or1984 (! I know!) but am well aware of that book and the whole Big Brother is watching thing. This particular book was recommended in a You Tube video of Jordan Peterson that I happened to be watching. Orwell was a Socialist so he had a slant, of course. But he got down in the trenches with the coal miners in Yorkshire and Lancashire, England in the 1930’s and gives us a dire picture of their lives. He draws conclusions and makes recommendations according to his views. The book has pictures which help bring the story home. In this book, too, I learned a lot.

The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg – Oh, Fannie. What a delight you are to read. Just like Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, Miss Fannie takes us through the lives of ordinary people, in ordinary and extraordinary circimstances. We fall in love with the people in Elmwood Springs, Missouri and the family of Lordor Nordstrom, he of Swedish ancestry. You know I’m gonna love that, right? Lordor comes from Sweden in 1889 at the ripe old age of twenty eight and finds a good plot of Missouri land to farm. He rounds up other farmers, gets whole a whole community going, gets a mail order bride, begets children and on it goes. Great fun and her take on what happens in the cemetery Lordor designs is thought provoking. If you read it, let me know if you’d like to, eventually, be a crow or a flower.

There you go. Two non, one fiction. And you are reading? 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Things My Mother Taught Me

I’m self taught on many things. Like baking bread. Once upon a time, many years ago, I found a complete set of instructions for baking bread in a McCall’s magazine article. My little boys were asleep, I was slightly bored and I decided to tackle bread making. Mom played a small part in that she raved about homemade bread that she learned to make in 4H back in the 1930’s. So I did have her in mind that first time I made bread and last week, too, when I made it for the umpteenth time.

But Mom taught me many useful, frugal and stuck-in-my brain things. Like what, you ask?

Make your bed every day. No matter how rushed I am, I do. The Only time I don’t is if I’m sick, down for the count, and laying in it. There’s no excuse otherwise. Besides, who wants to face a bunch of wrinkled sheets and un-plumped pillows at bedtime? Seriously.

Perfume. A dab on the wrists, a touch behind the ears. “Someone should have to be very close to you to smell your perfume.” Um, in other words, Don’t take a bath in the stuff. Mom used Avon’s To A Wild Rose sachet a dab on her wrists at a time. I swear, if I got a whiff of it right now, she’d appear before me.

“Nice girls don’t kiss boys,” was the sum total of the advise I was given to deal with the onslaught of suitors soon to fall prey to my teenage charms. Funny how the suitors disliked that advise. Sex ed has come a long, long way in the past fifty years. Don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. Let me consult with my granddaughters and get back to you.

Never use a paper towel if an old rag will do. If Mom could have, she would have, hung used paper towels out to dry. They were a luxury item around our house and maybe even there on the counter just for show. Kind of like the “guest towels” in the bathroom. On the other hand an old cloth diaper (remember those?) or a carefully cut up tattered and torn tee shirt of dad’s was good enough for most jobs.

And then there was this:

Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak, but He is strong

The thing that has stuck most of all. A child’s introduction to what matters most. A lifelong work on my sorry soul began with these simple lyrics.  

So, Mom, until I can get there say “Hi” to Jesus, the bread of life, for me.

What did your mom teach  you? Would love to know.

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Devil's Hairbrush

As any woman with hair will tell you, the crown is the most defining element of every hair style. Bangs, curls, side or center part, and, if you’re a trendy chick, half shaved / half curled. I don’t recommend that look for anyone over fifteen but it's your hair.

One fine morning, about a month ago, I took a little looky-loo in the mirror and thought my crown needed a little work, some smoothing out.

“Why don’t you dampen the area, twirl your little black brush through your locks just over your eyes there and leave it to dry while you put on your makeup?” Said the Devil.

“Excellent idea,” replied the foolish, foolish woman as she grabbed her brush.

Twenty minutes later, with both eyes lined, lashes swiped, and eyebrows adjusted, I grabbed the handle of the brush to begin the un-twirl.

Hmmm. A bit of resistance there. Did the foolish woman twist the brush a little too tightly? More tugging. More resistance. Ten minutes of this and I was beginning to sweat slightly from the effort.  

Using two hands now and facing the bathroom mirror I tried to calm the building fury by telling myself small comforting things.

Take a photo and post it on Facebook. Give all your friends their laugh for the day.

Call Britain, ask for the royal hat maker and convince him that a dangling hairbrush sort of falling forward from a red velvet beret could well be the next thing every savvy female subject in the land will want for the upcoming royal wedding. I’ll send him the Facebook photo so he’ll have a clear vision of what I mean. I’d even work with him. We have until May.

Stay in the bathroom and have my meals brought up until the hair grows out and I can cut the Devil’s hairbrush away. Three months tops.

Soon I was near tears and calling myself un-Christian names.

Then brilliance struck. I remembered when we had a Springer Spaniel we’d have to cut knots out of her coat. I’d read that sprinkling corn starch on the matted knot will make the hair slippery and easy to untangle. So, guess what I did? Yup. I flew down to the pantry and grabbed a box.

Five minutes later the devil brush was coated with corn starch, my hair looked like I’d developed an epic case of dandruff and the bathroom sink and floor seemed to have come through a snow storm. And there was no further progress in the de-tangle. Gaaaah! Full panic now.

I began blubbering. I cried out to God. I told myself to be calm and reasonable. Others have twirled and twisted their hair in brushes and they didn’t melt into a puddle on the floor. Well, except for that one woman in New Hampshire who now sells small “wigs for fools”. She got over it, moved on and actually monetized her puddle.


At the end, about an hour later, I did calm down. I went to work in earnest and pulled individual strands of hair slowly through the evil bristles working gently towards the middle of the tangle. When I had about half of the hair out I lost patience and got the scissors. Yes I did. I pulled that hairbrush out as far as I could and began snipping close to the bristles, cackling as I stuck it to the devil.

This has been about a month now and I’m still dealing with the little patch of short hairs in my “crown” just over my eyes. But you know what? I beat the Devil. With my fist in the air and a glorious roar I conquered a nightmare hair event and went on to tell about it. I expect women sympathizers to rise up from across the globe to pat me on the back and call for advise - which I may monetize.

How are your plans for 2018 shaping up? Need a wig?

Image: On sale now at Satan’s Stylin’ Salon