My Secret Passion

I believe it would very much surprise many of the people who know me to discover what my secret passion is. They could take guesses, but most times they would be wrong.  Even those friends who know me well.

Of course, there are many sides to my personality and over the years different aspects of who I am forges forward to dominate. When these distinct and different urges rumble, I give them the lead and allow them to show themselves to the world, be it painting, writing, fashion, music or whatever want rises forth for recognition.

When something is a secret passion it is usually not known by others, or acknowledged by even ourselves. Hence the word secret.  As a matter of fact, there are times when even we ourselves don’t know that it is a true passion until something triggers the awareness.  Today that happened to me.

I was speaking with my husband, Jim, about Thanksgiving.  My daughter and her husband generously invited us to her house for the day and the Thanksgiving day feast.  We accepted and look forward to the day with the family, however, something nagged at me.  It dawned on me, I would not be cooking a turkey, she would.  That takes something out of the holiday for me.  It leaves it almost two-dimensional.

Not that I love doing all the work it takes to putting together a holiday dinner.  Believe me over some 50 years I have cooked and orchestrated more than three hundred holiday meals for small or large crowds.  I know what it takes, and its exhausting to do it with a flair.  But I realized, and here is where I divulge the secret passion, I love cooking big.  Oh, not all the sides and salads, but a huge turkey, ham, pasta, gravy (sauce for American born), or anything that weighs a ton.

I love cooking a thirty pound ham or turkey that will feed a crowd, even when I need a strong person to help me pick it up.  My passion is that I loveeeee to cook big.  Put that fresh ham on a low heat and bake for six hours.  Baste that turkey every half hour all day and watch it go from a sickly white to a beautiful golden brown.

I am not going to try to psychoanalyze this passion.  I am just going to own it, enjoy it and find a reason to cook a humongous roast.

Buena Appetite!

Easter Mystery

Why is it that I only permit myself the luxury of eating egg salad at Easter, or for a few days beyond Easter Sunday? I had it today and enjoyed it on a toasted roll.

Since I was about fifteen years old until present day I have performed the egg coloring ritual. That is every year except one when I decided it was silly since I had no children living at home. Truly, that year was a disaster. I felt incomplete, so much so that I never made that foolish mistake again. Not so easy to give up lifelong tradition. Besides no egg salad.

Sure, it doesn’t have to be Easter to make egg salad, but there is something special about that sandwich speckled with pretty pink, purple, teal, and emerald hues that enhances the culinary experience. Some may think the colors make it gross, but not so.  I love it!

There are a few rules that come along with my egg salad. You only eat it with close family. No unnecessary ingredients, ie celery, should not be added.The crunch could be mistaken for a shell, heaven forbid. If you are sitting across from someone, don’t look at their face while enjoying your fare. If they are not aware of the rules you are permitted to sit with your back to the table while indulging in your own sandwich. No drinking from an open glass while you have food in your mouth. And finally, never ever share a bite. I am certain that anyone who has been in the company of a sloppy egg salad eater will appreciate my rules.  Perhaps these rules should be in every egg carton from the month before the Holiday right up until the day.

I am pleased to have shared these words of wisdom with you all. Hope you have had a Happy Easter, Happy Passover, and your Spring is delicious.

Let it Go, Let it Go!

The Brown Thomas Department Store in Dublin - ...
The Brown Thomas Department Store in Dublin – 08/11/2009 – The Brasserie on the third floor! Beautiful service, good value and relaxing athmosphere! All agree, please! Well done! (Photo credit: || UggBoy♥UggGirl || PHOTO || WORLD || TRAVEL ||)

We recently were invited to a friend’s new home for a Holiday Party.  The invitation arrived from dear friends and we looked forward to spending the evening with them as well as the other guests.

As I had expected their new house was fabulous, warm, inviting, as are the couple.  Their new condo was freshly painted, and uncluttered.  Uncluttered being the definitive word.  It was a space you could breath in, stretch out your arms without knocking over a trinket, yet it still had personality and style.  A space that promoted a sense of ease and comfort.

Upon arriving home, to our own abode, I looked around with a critical eye.  Do we ever really see our own surroundings? Do we become too accustomed to the way things are?   Yep my house has plenty of personality, mine.  Perhaps a little too much of it.  What to do about this dilemma?

I always have a box on hand  filling it with my gently used items, clothing and household things that I no longer want.  Seems to me  after living in the same place for over forty years that box  just might not be a fast enough way to eliminate the unwanted or unnecessary.  I added another sweater to the box, stored the holiday decorations, and let the house cleansing notion slip away even though I was still not content.  My home was not where I wanted it to be at this stage in my life.  I was beginning to see why some people get to a time when they just pick up and move leaving their years of collecting behind.  Some move out-of-state, others just downsize to get away from the stuff and relocate onto the next street.

Fast forward two weeks.  My daughter, Crissy, came to visit.  I mentioned my desire to simplify the look of the house, even before painting or upgrading anything, I needed to discard at a quicker pace.  That’s when she told me about a book that someone had mentioned to her.  (Isn’t communication great) . We never got the title right, but the premise was to discard twenty-seven things a day.  Ok, I realize that sounds crazy but not if you think about your junk draws, everyone has them, your pantry, think about the items that haven’t been touched in five years, and the knick knacks you’ve kept just because your favorite aunt gave it to you ten years ago.  Do you really want to keep it on display?

That’s it, I went on a tear. Garbage, donate, give it to the kids.  While I haven’t kept up with the twenty-seven items a day regiment, I now do not pick up anything only to put it back down without thinking, do I really want to keep this, and if so, where?  I am hoping by Spring there will be a noticeable difference in the appearance of my home.  If nothing else my new hobby will benefit the Good Will Shoppers.

My newest Mantra — Let it Go!!


The Crazed Pitcher

My Crazed Pitcher

Anyone who has ever been to my home, within the last ten years or so, will have seen the floral ceramic pitcher that has decorated different odd corners, in every room, at different times.  Sometimes it holds dried hydrangea, but often it stands alone. One may not notice it, unless drawn to a time when the style was popular.  It is not really unique, however, it has a story like so many of the items I hold dear.

The pitcher stands about 18 to 24 inches tall.  It has a cream color background graced with magenta flowers, and bright green leaves, delicately painted all over it.  The handle has a vine tracing the length of it  painted in the same shade of green as the leaves.  I love this adornment.

How I came to own this odd piece was due to my obnoxious confidence that my sister and her husband loved me  so much and I could say or ask for just about anything.  My wish would be granted.  The same is true in reverse.  They could ask me for anything and if it was in my power they would have it.

One visit at my sister’s house we were discussing Christmas,  and how difficult it was to buy for each other, since our tastes were usually the complete opposite. Clothing was out of the question, if she loved it, I hated it and viser-versa.  So the subject of exchanging gifts was a serious one. We didn’t want to stop exchanging.  No matter that neither of us needed anything special, it was the act of saying I love you with a small gift.  This day she was putting my feet to the fire.  What did I want for Christmas?

While thinking real hard the old crazed pitcher, sitting on her end table, caught my eye.  It sang to me, “I should be yours”.  I knew they had picked it up at a tag sale.  Billy and Christine spent. many a weekend afternoon seeking treasures,.  It was a hobby, and once in a while they found a piece that I liked, but it was the oddity rather than the rule.

“That, I want that,”  I pointed to the pitcher.  Christine was surprised.  “Oh no, Billy loves that pitcher”.  I pouted for a few minutes, and forgot all about it after I said she could give me whatever.

I needn’t tell you that Christmas, when they came to dinner, the pitcher was wrapped splendidly in fabulous paper and bow as only my sister could do.  I was thrilled.  Maybe one of the best presents I ever received.

It is three years and one month since Christine has left us.  I miss her more not less.  But every time I look at that old crazed pitcher, which still calls to me, it brings to mind that day and the laughter that surrounded my wanting that old tag sale pitcher.

Recently, Billy came for one of his rare visits to my house.  It’s hard for him to be at my house since she is gone.  But he was so pleased to see I still have and use the floral pitcher.  You see it was meant to be.

The Haunting of Halloween

Jack-o-lantern (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few days ago the weather did not yet have that Autumn chill in the air.  I wasn’t driven to drag out the cauldron  in order to conjour up  chowders, soups, or hearty stews.  The thought of a sweater and full length pants was still a couple of weeks away.  I was perfectly content and did not feel the need to rummage in the back yard shed where I keep holiday decorations bought and used in seasons past.

Suddenly, while driving around the neighborhood, still donning shorts and tees, I saw smatterings of pumpkins and witches and tombstones. The signs of Goulds and Goblins began popping up. I assumed it was all those perky, pesky, people who are always a month ahead of the season.   Black cats  and flowing ghosts were shadowing behind windows of otherwise normal looking homes.  Scarecrows clung to fences.

I was determined to ignore it.  I clung on to the still warm days, although while annoyed at them, I was beginning to envy those forward-looking folks who got a jump on things.  Then it happened.  While picking the last hearty tomatoes off the now scrawny looking vine I heard sounds coming from the shed.  It was kind of like things being dragged or shifted.  Low gnawing or mumbling.  Perhaps wind through the old wood.  My shed is located conveniently close to the vegetable garden.  It could be mice I thought and sincerely hoped not.  Being the brave soul that I am I retrieved a shovel and threw open the doors of the shed.  Of course I would never smash a mouse with a shovel, but it would serve as a block while I ran yelling for Jim.  After flinging open the doors, I stepped inside and looked around.

Without warning a big green bag containing the Autumn wreath fell off the shelf and right  into my arms.  It was a bit creepy.  I have no idea why it would fall just at that instant, but since I had it in my hands I carried it to the front door and exchanged the tired Summer wreath for this colorful Orange, Gold & Rust one.  While I was at it I put in similar hued grasses and flowers in one of the outside pots.

I was then drawn back to the shed, pulled out the All Hallows Eve Box – pulled out pumpkins, bats, spiders, crows, candles, witch hatted frogs, jack o lanterns and two tall scare crows.  When I began this project it was a dreary day, while working the sun began shinning down on me.  Jim tied the two scare crows in place while I flew around the house decorating for Halloween.  I even baked a pumpkin pie and broom swept the porch.  How apropos to have a broom in my hand.

I never did find out what made that noise in the shed that drew my attention, however, now that all the decorating was done the temperature dropped and I’m so pleased I’m ready for the season.

Now sitting here typing my note to you I looked out the window and just noticed one of my scarecrows which Jim tied facing South is now facing West. Its crazy grin looks a little broader.  Again I wonder, what called me into the shed!




Gimme a Beer!

English: American und Tchech Budweiser in Tray
English: American und Tchech Budweiser in Tray (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, being July 3rd, I was running around the kitchen, up to my elbows in potato peels and egg-shells; boiling salted water, slicing onions, chopping zucchini, and cleaning shrimps.  If doesn’t take a genius to realize that in less than eight hours the 4th of July  will arrive.  Usually arriving with it, hot, humid and noisy.

It really isn’t the least bit necessary that I cook this much.  Besides Jim and I we have invited only three guests.  That fact doesn’t matter in the least.  It’s a holiday, but it won’t register, or be official, unless I cook my brains out.  Truthfully, I love it.  Reminds me of times and people passed. Big family parties and ridiculous, over the top, behavior.

Today, I was put to mind of something else.  Just when I took the last item out of the oven my energy level crashed.  I was thirsty, and it was time to sit down.  I grabbed a frigid, Corona Extra, no lime, poured it in a glass and plunked myself in a kitchen chair. I rarely drink beer.  Not a tea toteler by any means, but beer is not my beverage of choice.  However, there are those moments when nothing else is so cold, refreshing, or tastes so good.

Barely had the first swallow eased its way down my throat when I had one of those flashbacks that cause me to write these slices of my life.

It was about thirty-five years ago.  A warm summer day, much like today.  The kids were all out with Jim and I took the opportunity to give the house a tip to toe scrubbing.  That done, I mowed the lawn and moved a couple of bushes.  I don’t care how young you are, a day like that will kill you.  With the last bit of energy left in my body I dragged myself to the refrigerator, popped open a Bud and went to sit on my front porch.  Reminiscent of a city life I had left behind, and when Budwiser was the cool beer to drink.

I live at the end of a small dead-end street and didn’t expect a soul to come marching down the bumpy gravel road.  Right, I was Wrong.  Not two minutes had gone by when two ladies, PTA mothers in one of the kid’s classes, came strolling down the street and right up my driveway. They were all fresh looking and proper.  I swear, although it was improbable, my embarrassed mind envisioned white gloves and pill-box hats.  They took in my bedraggled appearance, and the can of Budweiser, with one quick, judgemental glance.

“How nice to be able to sit and have a beer in the middle of the day!”

I was busted.  It would be all over the community within the hour.  No use explaining.  The upside was I had never been a PTA kind of gal.  Now I wouldn’t need to make excuses not to be drafted into volunteering.  Still today I laugh on how I had skated on that.

Happy Birthday America and A Safe Fourth of July to All!

English: Downtown Miami on July 4, 2007
English: Downtown Miami on July 4, 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

New Year Resolutions

English: New Year's Resolutions postcard
Image via Wikipedia

Every year I make a few New Year Resolutions.  Three or Four are always carry overs from the prior year’s resolutions.  Since I rarely make a serious attempt at keeping them, sometimes barely start them, I had to examine why I bother to make resolutions at all.  Is this setting myself up for failure?  Am I playing some kind of sick joke on myself?  OK, dare I say it, am I a masochist?

No, no, no. I hate not living up to my own expectations.  I really mean to give it the old New York try!!!  I do want to succeed at these promises to myself.

I am going to lose some weight!  I am going to do some exercise every day!  I am going to get healthy!  These three seem to be the universal resolutions.  Nine out of ten people make these vows every New Year’s Eve.  While they are important I doubt they would change my life all that much.  Still I’m going to try to keep them for however long I remember I have these resolutions.

Just the same, it appears I needed to think about things that I should resolve to do which will make me a complete, happier, and fulfilled person.

Naturally, to write regularly on my blog, and perhaps make time each week for creating fiction (my first love), would qualify as a push forward toward the goal of personal fulfillment.  Keeping up with friends new and old, (I’ve been neglecting this) will surely make me happier.  I have missed them more than I realized.  Sometimes Life just gets in the way of a Good Life.  And last, but not least, I want to learn.  There is too much in life that I don’t know about.  I have a real interest in just about everything, and I don’t want to be taught, I want to experience.  What better way is there to learn than to get out there and experience things?  Completion through experience.

There is so much more to life than my resolutions might indicate, but those things, Love, Empathy, Compassion, Generosity for others, are a part of day-to-day life.   These things we should just do without a conscious thought.  They are what keep us centered.

Ok, now I have written down all my resolutions and this year I am going to keep them.  By January 1, 2013, I will be a skinny, healthy, tread mill walking writer.  I’ll do this while talking with my friends on the phone.  We can make a date and time to meet in person.   Perhaps while chatting I’ll read them an encyclopedia.  In this way  I can also squeeze in my learning, thereby keeping with all my resolutions.

Hope you all do as well with yours.

Year’s End

Postcard celebrating New Year's Day, mailed De...
Image via Wikipedia

It’s just after midnight on the twenty-ninth of December and I’ve been wondering what my final post of 2011 should be about.

I could do my year in review.  I’ve had four really scary health episodes all involving my immediate family, but rather than lament that potential horror, and what could have been, I want to Thank God and rejoice in our blessings.  They, all four of those loved ones, were taken care of, and if not yet back to living their lives as they should, are on the road to full recovery.  I can rest my head easily on the Heaven Sent pillow tonight.

There has also been much pleasure in my life this year.  I’ve successfully completed a mission I began two years ago.  It’s now in the hands of others who will do well. The love of writing and expressing who I am is being fulfilled as often as I wish by my discovery of WordPress and the act of blogging.  Health has improved.  My children are all in loving relationships, and I have the most beautiful, smart and talented grandchildren in the world.  That is not an exaggeration. 

I am continuously in touch with great people, in person, by phone, or on the internet.  Our lives are completed by terrific close friends who I learn from, and who in turn learn from me.  My husband and I continue to make each other laugh everyday (This is Priceless).  He and I have enough love between us that we can share it with others, and that very act continues to enhance our lives. Going to Atlantic City is often on my calendar. (Waiting for the big hit that will surely come some day.)

A multitude of post subjects are swirling through my mind.  What should I write about?  The ideas seem to want to jump from my brain, to my keyboard tapping fingers, only to appear on this screen.  But no. I will save them for 2012.

To All My Friends, Fans, Loved Ones – I wish you all a Grand and Happy New Year, Overflowing with Love, Life, Health and  Good Fortune.  When I raise my glass to toast the New Year, I will be embracing all of you.************

What do I Want for Christmas?

Christmas gifts.
Image via Wikipedia

With the Holidays rapidly approaching several people ask me, “What do you want for Christmas?”    This list of the most common things is long.  New blouses, skirts, slacks, pull on pants, dresses, a new pastel bathrobe.  Then there are shoes, slippers and of course boots.  Remember those boots that have to fit just right?  Oh and don’t forget a good bottle of booze.  Don’t worry I share if there is enough.

That’s the list of the run of the mill items.  Then there is the not so apparent, and a little more costly or time-consuming.  A new desk chair, a lap top, big gold earrings, a paint job for my office, new window treatments, my favorite perfume.  It seems to be running low. 

All of the above can be found on the Christmas/Chanukkah list of almost every adult in middle class America.  Except those Americans that are hoping for the things that are essential to survive.  Those individuals are wanting food, heat, a job, a roof over their heads, and the money to pay bills.

In some Christmas’ past I have been lucky enough to find the things I wished for under my tree.  It was fun to open each gift and maybe slip on the new sweater or try on a crazy hat.  When the kids were young everyone always got new underwear.  It was tradition to pull them over your head and wear them in such a way until all the gifts were opened.

Honestly, it is much more fun, instead of opening your own gifts, rather to watch someone open the gift you purchased for them.  That fog free bathroom mirror/radio combo, or a special jar of pickles, even a neti pot.  One year I was so enthused wrapping presents that I accidentally wrapped hubby’s newly arrived diabetes test kit, and left his real gift in a shopping bag.  Boy was he surprised, but we had the best laugh when we figured out what I had done.  Handing out the gifts that you were sure was going to make someone you cared about so happy, that was more fun than stomping around in the new boots I received.

So this year, what do I want for Christmas?  I had to think long and hard about this.  The common requests roll off my tongue, but what I really want……………….

I want my loved ones to be happy and healthy.  I want the peace and joy you can only have when your bills are paid and you have a little extra money to indulge in life’s material pleasures.  I want an impossible insurance that no one I know or love will ever be hurt, physically or mentally, by age or accident.

I want to be surrounded by good friends to have a relaxed, comfortable laugh together.  And yet I want the time to curl up on the couch during a winter storm, expecting and getting, a loved one to cover me with a blanket.  I want the talent and ability to write and have my words be valuable to some.  I want to feel good.

I want this and I want more.  What I want for Christmas is everything I stated above, and I want it for you too!  Happy Holidays.