The Almighty Dollar

My weekly allowance was fifty cents. For that I had to work for several hours on our country property (no, not a vacation property, our home).

Under age ten, I was the eldest so when my parents had to attend a dinner event for work I was hired to babysit my sisters and brother. That was fifty cents per hour, not per week. Soon I began buying my own “tennies” and jeans.

For me it was not the money, it was being respected and appreciated for what I could contribute to the cause, back then it was my parents and family.

It still is, and should be, along with my own family. Yesterday I made a recipe from a Canadian cookbook, a pepper steak my cousin made 20 years ago and I bought the book. I gave my husband three pages from three different cookbooks yesterday. He chose the pepper steak (I used skirt steak) and loved it.

He won’t be around much longer and I’ll do simpler things for just me. No, he’s not dying or anything, just going away for work and should be back every week or so. I just can’t justify dirtying many pots and pans for me. I’ll do an organic mac & cheese in the microwave and not have to do dishes.

This is going to be a good weekend. He wants to see Star Wars. If he’s going to be eating burgers every night I want to make three great dinners that he’ll remember. Tonight is vegetarian lasagne, (see my 10-minute lasagne) but with a twist. A pesto of basil and arugula integrated into the ricotta and mozzarella or as a separate layer. I’m thinking separate. It’ll be tasty. Dee


Clearing the Decks

In more ways than one. First, there is a story. Achieving goals is my husband’s premise. Now he is trying to cook a few things I’m teaching him. He gets the goal but leaves it to his teacher and minion, the dog, to clean up after he uses every pot, pan and dish in the kitchen! Yes, has had staff.

In the end it is my kitchen to keep and keep up. He is very tall so does not get to the lower cabinets very easily. I do not get to the upper cabinets so it’s a match made over 14 years ago, in heaven.

When I get ready to prep, cook and clean up, it’s time to clear the decks. The Navy Captain, a gent who married us 13 years ago would agree, wholeheartedly. We flew to his burial at Annapolis, where I’m invited to visit any time. I would worry if he ever got into his lovely wife’s kitchen.

Anything drying on a dish mat, anything in the sink, run the dishwasher, do hand wash of knives and others. He wants a meal. I work to make it happen but do clear the decks completely before I prepare food. That may even mean placing tea towels and dish mats in the laundry and running that as well. Both take forever.

That said, I’ve been trying to change up our menu these nights. Last night I cleaned and cut up a pork tenderloin and submerged in salt and pepper, and hard apple cider for an hour then cooked it on the stove with roasted red potatoes and a salad I’d pre-made with a lemon vinaigrette I poured on at the last minute.

The other night I made Acorn-fed pork ribs, sort of St. Louis style, with a rub of salt, pepper, Ancho chile powder and smoked Paprika, and a pinch of sugar. 1.5 hours in a 325 degree oven covered in foil then I slathered on some Rufus Teague bbq sauce and my husband placed it on the grill for five minutes, served with baked potatoes.

Tonight I may go back to an old favorite we haven’t had in a couple of years. I just need some chicken, prosciutto and Fontina d’Aosta. I have butter, bread crumbs, potatoes and garlic with which to saute the remainder of the arugula. Who knew I could become an Italian grandmother? Certainly not our German, Swiss, Scottish ancestry.

Cheers and have a great day. Dee

What Will I Do?

Of course I would be there. I’ve only had four rescued pets over the past 20 years. One was sent to me as a “surprise” that fell off the 7′ shelf upon which he was born. My brother smuggled him 3,000 miles away and I had to learn how to take care of a cat. He was a Burmese mix, a talker, and always got the last word in until heart disease and pneumonia had me hold him while he got the pink needle.

My Chani was a fighter. She’d bled out, a tile man helped me lift this 90 lb. dog to the back of my Jeep and she stood up five times. We were tougher at the shelter then home for  ten years while she learned to trust children and man. The clinic was great and has buttons to push and now a separate wing for dying animals.

My other cat loved a Corgi named Ein who recently passed, and I could not marry my husband with a cat, as he is very allergic to the feline species. Mick was about seven and had a back yard and tree house and loved it. I think the coyotes got him as all the neighborhood dogs would run away from home to see him and I’d get phone calls. I’d look out the window and say, yes he’s here!

Now my husband and I, after a year of marriage, went to adopt a dog. She’s an Aussie mix, a herder. She drives us nuts, staring at us for food, going out, her “precious” ball. She is a shelter dog but the first one we got to raise, train and be our own. My husband can’t deal with euthanasia but if we decide she is too ill to live we will need to be there together. He helped raise her, and must be there with me.

Today I pour a cup of water on a tree that was a favorite place for two neighborhood dogs. When my Chani died neighbors bought a tree for the park and we all poured water on it, I can now see it on Google Earth. I bring it flowers.

My dog is getting old and so am I. I don’t know if there’s a “next.” I can’t see it as my mother-in-law always expects Zoe to clean up crumbs and father-in-law doesn’t pay her any mind but knows she always looks out for him and his grandkids. Yes, standing on his place on the sofa, looking out until her herd comes home.

This is for Liam, thanks Wurli for being a good friend, Zoe and Dee

Zoe is 12

Our pup lived a filthy existence before she left her “home” for the shelter before she should have been weaned, or spayed. We met her and asked for her and she had a hold at the shelter by someone else. We met other dogs but no-one like her.

The next morning we were called with a lift on the hold so she could be ours. She had an unfortunate name I’d gone to lengths to correct after we finally adopted her, she jumped out of the box at just six weeks and sat on my lap in the car and looked out the window.

Coccidia, hookworms, done asap, then double hip dysplasia several months later and she had to go through six months of surgery and rehabilitation. Before surgery she would roll down the hill if she felt threatened and just give up her tummy. No-one took it. She is a sweet, beta girl.

We have a herder. She’s still a pup in our eyes. I gave her three little glusamine/chondriotin/sea cucumber bits yesterday atop her food.

Yesterday our Zoe, Greek for life, turned 12 years old. She’s still great with adults, kids and other dogs. Kids call on her. She loves being in my car, and has a 4″ orthopedic bed in there with a net and dog bowls et al. On the highway she sleeps, and only pops her head up at an off-ramp or street light.

We’re going on 14 years of marriage and Zoe took a lot of work but turned into a really great dog. January is always a great month to say what we are grateful for. Dee



What Are You?

I was asked that by Patty S before I was eight years old. I didn’t understand the question. I’m six years old. But what ARE you? I’m a girl in the second grade.

No, what ARE you? I’m XYZ. What are you? Oh, I’m Catholic. It’s the first light bulb that ever went off telling me there were different religions, different anything. It opened up a whole new world, like when I met my first Jewish, and African-American friends after we moved to a larger pond. Early on, when the college students were gone we were a village of 400 people. All white, all Catholic or Protestant. There were a few Jews, sons and daughters of College professors. They went to a different school. I didn’t even know they existed until college, all Italian and Irish Catholics.

When my parents wed, the date would be nearly 60 years ago the Catholic church allowed my mother to marry a Lutheran as long as all children were raised in the Catholic faith. They didn’t make us kids promise anything, and the Lutherans can actually sing a tune.

My husband is from another faith that thrives in the South. It doesn’t derive powers from God via the infallible Pope, but through individual ministries. His parents and family do not like that we eloped for a civil ceremony (13 years last week) and do not practice any religion.

Late at night I was watching an early edition of The Tudors, before England established its own church against the Pope. That was the 1500’s and you know about Ireland.

About eight years ago we lived in Scotland as it had interdependence and its own legislature. Below our flat there was a parade going to an historic soccer match, I won’t tell you the team names but it was basically Catholics vs. Protestants.

The parade started with young girls, with a walking police escort, then young boys with mounted police, women had police cars and men following behind had what we call SWAT Teams. Trucks, guns. Everything to help prevent mayhem at the field. We were on the 2nd floor looking down and wondering what our world had become.

That’s when I think of religion, what it has done to the Jews of Russia, actually 20 million people of all religions in Poland, Germany, France, the British Isles, the US and Japan. Then I think that my fear of flying makes TSA take me in for a naked scan, checks my fingerprints for bomb residue all while my husband holds my purse, laptop and shoes. Imagine looking like you’re Muslim.

What am I? I’m an older white woman, happily married to a wonderful husband and owner of an old, terrific dog. We live a quiet life and are nice to family, neighbors and friends. I do not wish to enter a religious debate, but love my favorite priests, Cap and John. RIP, friends. What are you? Dee


Take Nothing

Dad used to say you knew you were in power when you brought nothing to the board room. To this day I do not know why Queen Elizabeth II brings her purse throughout Buckingham Palace. I keep mine on a hook by the door, with the dog’s leashes.

Aside from the thief they caught a couple of weeks ago who was vandalizing our fellow residents, I don’t know why I would sit in our living room with my purse.

I’ll give the Queen some leeway here because she loves her Corgi’s but am certain their leashes are not on a hook by the front door. Nor her handbag of choice that day.

Dad said if you’re in charge you just show up, not with a briefcase or sheaf of papers or laptop.

My husband asked to accompany me to the grocery store yesterday to get out of the house after work. I let him drive my car. Inside the grocery he stared down at his new iPhone and walked down an aisle looking for Indonesian soy sauce, that I can only get on Amazon Prime.

I found what we needed and looked for him and there he was, 100 feet away staring at his phone, looking for Indonesian soy sauce. So much for going outdoors and helping the wife!

My husband has many technical books. He’s a physicist and self-taught software engineer. He used to bring a bunch of books to work and place at his desk. Now they’re all on the shelf. I do cooking recipes and he does numerical recipes. All he brings to the table is himself. No data-filled briefcase, no books or laptop or spreadsheets. It’s just him. Take him or leave him.

I am lucky to have been with him over 14 years, yes I chose the plus column. The physicist and the bleeding-heart non-profit consultant have been together with their dear dog for many years. He says I picked him up in a bar. It was lunch a week after 9/11 and we were all talking over burgers at TGI Friday’s.

We exchanged numbers and I threw his away. He called the next evening, opened his car door and took my hand, that was it. Years later he sold his car to a colleague. When we moved away we had a party and I asked the owner if I could say goodbye to our car. It had a baby seat in the back, definitely not ours. I looked through the window and thought of our life together beginning with him taking my hand and never letting go. I hope that spirit is still with the car…….

Please live your life. I denied mine, embraced it, then settled down after 40. A happy camper I am, would say Yoda. To the table, take trust, Dee


No, it’s not the lottery. I won something once, because I was the only one to answer the deli man’s inquiry to a song. I opined that it was Orpheus in the Underworld by Offenbach. Yes, the Can Can song.

The next day he graciously gave me a sandwich and was amazed that NPR proved me correct. “How did you know that?” Must be Dad and my grade school music teachers.

I’ve played the lottery three times, a dollar with co-workers. My own lottery has turned up well. I grew up in a good family, married into another with an adopted grandmother and have a family of my own with a husband of nearly 14 years and a dog age 12 that we’ve had from six weeks. She has no hips, grew her own from cartilage as a pup. We could have called her Lucky, rather than Zoe, but Zoe is Greek for life so we named her well.

My luck has gotten me two families, a husband, a dog and that’s more than enough for me. I won the lottery from my first day. It’s more than anyone could ask. If I could bet on anything, I’d bet on us. Dee

ps Dad taught us to play poker for match sticks. They’d go back in the box and be used months later to light a candle, the fireplace or another game. Luck. D