Family

I always wondered why I didn’t really have business mentors, yet they’ve been there all my life. It’s just that they were life mentors, teaching everything one needs to know. As a consultant I sometimes needed an “old white guy” to give me gravitas and make my message as a young professional heard. They may not have said a word but they’ve had my back. They know who they are and I am forever thankful for their presence in my life.

Of course we have immediate family growing up, then husband and for us, a dog who keeps me in check at all times. Then we have others. Like Otis, who has been with me as a dear friend, heart and soul, since the first day of college.

Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers. Two grown men outside my brother call me Sis. I’ve a sister J and a mother J, both the same name. A sister M as in my husband’s mother and V a cousin. And another father, AJ, who married us and wore a nice suit. He told me that a few years back when Alzheimers took a step back and allowed me in. I can visit him anytime, interred at Annapolis, honored by all.

My life is rich with history and childhood memories, current events both political and life-changing. Many people have given me guidance over the years. Mentorship, if you will. Ethics, morals, being smart, kindness, care for beings (thanks St. Francis and OFM Fr Cap and Fr John), good judgment, respect, honor and service to others. Thanks, Auntie L for also teaching me to read the dictionary in the powder room and come out with a word, spell it and use it in a sentence. Yes, she’s a retired English teacher. Cheers! Dee

What is…

something that exhilarates and enervates, provides sustenance when full and frustration when empty? A pantry.

Check out Dee’s Essential Pantry, items plus recipes, free here for the asking. I worked hard getting it together for you, so please use it for you, your family and guests. No-one’s gotten above level One. I urge you to try the rest and you’ll be the envy of the neighborhood.

Now, if one is moving, as I’ve been known to do a few times in my life (stop laughing), she looks at those half-empty pasta boxes and tries to find out what to do with them. Oh, marinated peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, my own marinated Kalamata olives, Parmigiano Reggiano. Now there’s a dish for next week. No-boil lasagne noodles. Buy some Ricotta and we have lasagne.

I’m taking the high road and am starting at the freezer. I decided to throw a Trifle Party for several friends who love my trifle. I’ll change it up a bit but similar flavors. Also on board will be my chicken liver and apple pate, and a couple of pizzas, from scratch of course.

Live a little, learn a lot, don’t move as much. It’s always a balancing act. May as well cook the best stuff for friends and empty the pasta shelf later. Cheers! Dee

A Nation of Dependency

Look north at the left ear, the west coast of the USA. The right ear, the east coast. There is supposed to be a brain in between and Warren Buffett and so many others prove that to be true.

The only information given to those, like Warren Buffett and all of us in between the ears, is what is happening to the ears. Don’t get me wrong. My tonsils were taken out on my fourth birthday because of recurring ear infections. A doctor put a metal probe through my brain at age 12 because of strep throat and an ear infection.

What is important, through my life of always having cotton swabs at the ready to clean out any water in the ears, is what is between those ears.

It is called a brain. Lincoln came from Illinois. Most entrepreneurs came from the brain of this nation. Not the ears. But all the news we hear is from the ears, not the brains.

Fewer farms in the US equal fewer smart, hard-working kids who go to college and make a difference in the world. When I asked my fiancee what he did on Christmas, holiday traditions, he said “milked cows.” That’s middle of nowhere Texas. He chose physics in college and is very successful today. When people know they’ve a former farm boy they know dedication and hard work.

I do care about how the news cycle is so slanted to the coasts that they forget the remainder of the country, the people who ship their wheat, chicken and capon (for you) and turkey, beef, pork and bacon to their shores.

This is not indentured servitude. The media and those swelled with self-importance and as a trader, with perhaps a red Ferrari, neglect the heartland. Heaven forbid the heartland boycotts the coasts. Yes, you could still ship from Japan and Europe but you wouldn’t have bread, beef, chicken, corn, our cheeses,tomatoes, veggies and we could stop the economy cold.

I love thinking outside the box. I don’t plan to do it but it is a cool idea. Dee

Paying for Your Snow

Twelve inches of snow in Boston overnight. Eight states have declared states of emergency.

That means federal dollars come in. Federal troops come in. Our tax dollars are being used to shovel driveways while occupants remain indoors or go to the grocery store and fight for food items.

When I was a kid, this was called a snowstorm. It’ll only last a day. The only reason it is dominating the news cycle is that it hit that sweet spot, the east coast, where people deem themselves more important than anyone who lives anywhere else in the country.

You’ve heard me say it before when I lived in the Rockies. “Snow in the Rockies, this killer storm is headed to Chicago and New York City where it is expected to impact travelers for three minutes, here’s Gilbert Hooks in the middle of the blizzard with color commentary.” No-one gave a darn about what happened to us in the Rockies! They only cared about Chicago and New York.

I’m guessing that Boston has snow plows. If not, those towns in the Rockies do have them, and even lend them via plane, to cities who do not bother to plan ahead for bad weather.

This is not a state of emergency, people. It’s just a 12 hour snowstorm. My parents battled the Blizzard of ’77 in Buffalo, NY. Yes, the family suffered from cabin fever, but that’s just because they were cooped up together for a week. Luckily I was elsewhere.

Next thing you know, if someone who thinks he/she is important and gets a hangnail or stubs a toe, it will require federal funds and troops to fix the situation. As a kid, I took off my shoes at home in April to get ready for summer, and left them off until school started up again. I scrambled up and down cliffs, rocks, and caught crayfish down in the creek and snakes on the path.

I must say that the best winter day of the year was when, in mountains of the white stuff, the school district called a snow day and we could play outside all day, sledding et al. But they never declared a state of emergency, got taxpayer money and troops. Our driveway was unpaved and 1/4 mile long and we payed to have it plowed. That’s how things were done back in the day. Dee

“Thanks, Dee,

you’re the best.” That’s what I like to hear.

Dog Zoe and I have guests coming Wednesday. Oh, no, I have to clean! Every day, again, dog fur. Luckily they’re used to dogs. I have to clean out the pantry and have good stuff for one last trifle, which they love. We’ll pair it with heavy appetizers and a bit of vino.

Tonight I had an experiment. Cornbread bread pudding with smoked sausage. It could have used a spicier sausage, and more pudding and Gruyere cheese, plus an undercurrent of shallots and garlic. It was a last minute thing, placing this mixture in a bit of bacon fat in the oven in a cast iron skillet. It could have really used some hash brown potatoes, then it would be a perfect tasty and not really pretty brunch dish, or dinner for a busy couple.

But it’s not often I’m told “Thanks, Dee, you’re the best.” And it was from my recipe taster. My husband didn’t even say that on our 12th anniversary yesterday. He didn’t remember the date even though he had me inscribe it into his wedding ring. Here’s to new recipe creations, Dee

Service, USPS Style

Let’s put it this way. Their www site doesn’t help with anything. I’ve been scammed by an Amazon seller who lied to Amazon that my purchase price has been sent back to us. I’ve been trying to get in touch for mail fraud but no one will answer the phone.

I’ve had to plug in my phone and headset because they were both dying on the wait for USPS to answer the phone. I am calling because their priority mail process failed. I couldn’t print the label except a 1/2 inch sliver of it. I’m not going to keep paying $11.30 every time I try to print out a darn label for a little package for family.

The fraud deals with a seller taking my money for a book, calling USPS and getting a tracking number, and never taking it to his/her local post office. It’s been supposedly sitting there since December 23. Amazon never showed it in transit. I am not allowed to download USPS tracking software because my computer is manufactured by Apple.

The seller says he/she refunded my account. Nothing shows two months back. I think they trick USPS, Amazon and cheat customers by phoning in and getting tracking numbers prior to USPS receiving the items for shipping. Then customers get upset with USPS or Amazon and forget that the seller cheated them in the first place.

Watch your online purchases. Neither Amazon nor USPS will help me (it’s been about five hours over the last few days with USPS, luckily I can write as I listen to their drivel on hold) and all Amazon says is that the purchase price from the seller for this out-of-print book has been refunded. It has not. Dee

 

Luggage

Yes, I found a $500 TUMI three-suiter bag at recycling. It cost us $3 for a screw to fix the handle for a bit of black paint for said screw to put this new bag back together as my husband’s “go to” travel bag.

A few weeks ago at recycling I found a huge bag. Everything these days is called “packing materials.” It would be great, brand new as well, for comforters and pillows.

Thirty years ago I bought a mason’s bag that was great for short trips. My husband “stole” it for an extra set of clothing and toilet items in case of blizzards. It’s in his trunk across the country.

I bought another, for the dog. If we need to drive together cross-country, I’d like to have her food, water, bowls, treats, and travel pillow (yes, she’s not spoiled) all in one place in the back seat. She’ll be in the way back on her 4″ orthopedic bed.

In terms of bags, we have many. I have many. Italian leather purses. My canvas bag from the Gucci Museo in Florence. Best story is my Harrod’s bag. I bought three, two as gifts back home. I never went to Harrod’s. I ordered them online from London.

When we moved here all our stuff had been in air-conditioned storage for three years. We got rid of a lot, and I found a bag with rice and such in it with bugs. My husband trashed it. I asked him what bag he threw away. “My Harrod’s bag?” He went after it, God bless him, and I still have it today.

Today I received an interestingly shaped box with Zoe’s new suitcase, the Mason’s bag, in it. It’s vertical and while going to break it down and take it to recycling, I realized it would be useful for packing pictures. Chalk it down to packing materials. Cheers! Dee

Dogs and Cats

“Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.” Ghostbusters, Bill Murray

My dogs and cats lived together. My first rescue dog, 1991, joined my cat, a Burmese mix, also a rescue, from 1987. They were never close, just slept in the same position two feet from one another for years.

The second rescue cat crawled into that dog’s bed and stayed for a year. The cats never got along, separate litter boxes and food, but dogs would run away from home to see my younger cat, Mick, Mickey, Mick Dundee. Neighbor dogs would wrestle with him. He eventually went to live with a Corgi who would place Mickey’s head in his mouth. He loved dogs.

Now I walk down the street with the Hipless Wonder Dog Zoe, who will be eleven years old next week and people pick up their purse pets and turn away to keep them away from that “big dog.” Zoe is 35 pounds, an Australian Shepherd mix and if a two year-old child grabbed food from her dish she’d look up at me and ask if she could have some more.

Zoe’s idea of danger is sleeping on her bed with view of bedrooms, kitchen and front door so I can’t leave, even to take out trash or recycling, without her knowledge.

Just so you know the full story, when Zoe was a pup a cat, Meow Meow, used to hang out outside our home. We didn’t feed her for a few months, and found out she hung out at a number of places. We were special. Zoe was young and out walking 8X per day. MM took advantage of that because a certain mockingbird was after her. We were a parade. Me, Zoe, Meow Meow and the mockingbird. Zoe and I were MM’s protection detail, to keep the neighborhood bully from stealing her lunch money.

Zoe loves cats. They can’t run from her or they’re prey. Dashiell was a great cat, a Maine Coon Cat. They’re very dog-like and owner-specific. Luckily he got Lillian to keep him company, see a theme here?

So, I can’t have a cat unless I live in the country and they visit me outside. I have a dog that loves cats and a husband who is allergic to them. I can’t live in the country because my husband does city work. And ’round and ’round it goes. You wonder why I didn’t choose math as a specialty. A+B doesn’t always =C. But you still get… Cheers, from Dee

Fourteen Visits

We met at TGI Fridays, over 13 years ago. Talked a few weeks after 9/11 when every American was reaching out to strangers as I did, stranded for over a week in Italy because they wouldn’t let me fly home.

We ended up in a group around a late lunch and then there were only the two of us, three hours later. I had to go home to feed my cat, so we shook hands and exchanged phone numbers.

He called me the next night to go to a movie. He opened the car door for me, took my hand and never let go. Sunday it’ll be 12 years of marriage. We’re apart by miles but still together.

We eloped because I didn’t want my divorced parents in the same room together with a small party of friends. A Navy Captain married us and there were eight, including us, at the wedding and the reception, a luncheon we hosted for the Captain and “Admiral” (his wife) and several friends.

We stick together and are still in touch with the “Admiral” whose husband passed a few years ago and we flew to Annapolis for his burial. Their sons are my brothers and I’m “sis.”

I’m also “sis” with my husband’s younger brother, who took a long time to like me. But this is about my husband.

Our first weekend together, I was taking care of several neighborhood friends pets. Feeding birds, cats, walking dogs. He did 14 visits with me then asked “what’s next?” I was exhausted. He took me to Pane e Tulipane (he hates movies with subtitles) and I fell asleep on his shoulder. I still haven’t seen that film.

And Tweety and Moccasin, Coppertop and Dave and Gus and everyone welcomed him to the family. The next month I was walking a dog in the neighborhood, he joined me and we found him a house a thousand feet from mine. We married a year later. He tried to come over for dinner, desperately allergic to cats. He bought a gas mask and wore it for ten minutes, sounding like Darth Vader. Luke, I am your father.

We went out to dinner and married a year later. The cat went to live with the Corgi he loved, for several years, dog of very nice neighbors. He’s gone, along with the others, and we got a dog a year into our marriage who is getting old. She’s very healthy but I don’t want to see her go.

My husband wrote me from afar that he needed to be desperate for me to love and marry me. That took all of three weeks. It was another year before he took me to the family interrogation and married me.

This guy went with me on 14 pet visits in one weekend. Do you think he was just playing hard to get??? Happy anniversary Jim, from your wife Dee

The Best Things

The best things we do often involve sacrifice of a sort. Sitting by one’s mother at hospice for a week. Helping euthanize loved pets when they needed it.

Ones we love come with a price. Either they go, or we go, and I’m at that age when things are happening with us and with more elderly family members.

I’m not really good at this. I learned that early on with a field trip to a hospital with a colleague, he was great with the patients, all I wanted to do was cry. Same with organizing carol singing at a local hospital, where I hung back and sang and tried to control tears. I’m better with animals and have helped others, and two of mine, go to their final reward.

I do take solace in St. Francis, and my favorite priest. I worry about my dad and want to see him, even wrote him a blues song and sang it on his voice mail today. I know my pets are OK with me, and need to plan for Zoe when the time comes and make certain my husband is there with us. Again, I can deal with animals humanely, people who are sick or dying require more fortitude and stamina on my part to make them feel comfortable and at ease with their condition and future.

We’ll be married 12 years on Sunday and are across the country from one another. Our dog Zoe will be eleven. Mom would have been 79. Zoe has a gift, in that she has little past and no future plans except the next walk or meal. She doesn’t remember that cousin Val took out her hips at six and nine-months of age, and just loves Val.

I sometimes wish it was that simple for human beings. Then again, my past has allowed me to change things in order to shape the present and the future. That’s where it gets complicated.

Today, I wish all our older family members a great day, weekend, week, year, years, decades. Family or family pets, be there. Let them know you love them. Dee