Tendencies

Over thirteen years ago my husband and I met. He’d gotten into dot-com and had just been dot-bombed. The board of a 60 person corporation met and left their agenda on a white board for all staff to see. The final item was lay off 1/3 of the staff.

Of course he was one of the last 20 hired so he hung around a couple of weeks, looking for work, but knew it was unlikely to find as fellow dot-coms were sinking as well. That’s when we met.

Two weeks later I visited his “man cave” knowing he’d have to go back to family to reassess his opportunities. I immediately ended the clean pile/dirty pile laundry “system” and washed and dried and organized everything. Come on, the only things in his frig were individually wrapped string cheese and a 72 oz. Dr. Pepper. The freezer held one store-bought microwave lasagne left by his mother three months earlier.

Yes, the string cheese wrappers were on the rug from the frig to his home-built dual-brained computer, in front of blackout shades because the man cave was five feet from the mail boxes looking out on a parking lot and he liked to work in his underwear.

A few days later I helped him pack, everything was organized so it was easy. Then after he left me forever I paid money I didn’t have to give for maid service so he’d receive his deposit. He returned to me in two weeks with a job in town. When a neighbor asked why he came back, my husband of nearly 12 years said, “her.”

We now have views wherever we live, nice furniture and artworks, and have been able to keep a dog alive and happy for nearly eleven years. Plants, not so much.

As we hit another crossroads I must say that I went on strike shortly after we moved in. My husband was urged to take the larger place and move all of our furnishings out of three years in storage halfway across the country. Shortly after we moved in, things changed but that’s another story.

He is in a good situation and I am emptying boxes and discarding, donating, storing or shredding. Also taking art off the floor, that has been covered in towels, and placing it on the walls.

He says I’m “nesting.” I say I’m getting stuff off the floor. What I see, I can pack. Same as 13 years ago when I helped you move away from me forever, but now we’re married.

Two pieces have made me at home during his absence due to a contract in another state. Ten years ago I was told about a consignment store in Texas and looked at a piece of furniture that might have been suitable for bedroom or dining room. I opened the top drawer to see if the joints were dovetailed and lo and behold, there are two lithographs of Tuscan sites. Two dollars a piece. I took them home immediately, the lithos, not the furniture. A $4 find.

After $250 of matting and framing as of last week they are on the wall next to our bed. Two years with a white primer-ed wall, several months without a husband and they close the room in a bit and make me feel safe.

Tonight my husband made sure I have reservations at a hotel en route to see him and his family for Thanksgiving. I’m bringing a lot of food and gifts and looking forward to seeing everyone. Dog Zoe has an excellent sitter, and my standards for her care are high. I expect that she’ll come to the door, turn around and lie down and mumble, “Glad you’re home, Mom, I’m going to nap now.” That’s how my grandfather would have said “Yeah, I missed you but had a great time.”

Lots of stuff to do before I hit the road and my hotel. Dog food, cleaning, packing, dog bath, remembering all the frozen food. And loading the car without the dog knowing I’m leaving. Hmmmm. Any ideas? Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Dee

Birds

I wanted to title this “Game Birds” but Jim Schiltz would not allow me to do so. I just got off the phone with him in a fascinating interview in which I learned many things about….. birds.

Who is Jim Schiltz? Only the head of Schiltz Foods, Inc. and Schiltz Goose Farm, Inc. He knows his birds. He told me geese were domesticated about the same time as dogs and cattle. My research on dogs says up to 40,000 years. I’d have to check my father-in-law, the rancher and former dairyman, on cattle.

For those of you who know me from the past, yes, I still want a capon and have spent years finding one. While I’ll be at Nanny’s for my 13th Thanksgiving with my husband’s family and am only allowed to bring table snacks, sides and a dessert, Christmas is a different story, to be told later.

One of my favorite girlie movies is the one where the Aussie/Canadian girl learns to fly and takes the geese, from the eggs she found, south for the winter. Fly Away Home, with Anna Pacquin and Jeff Daniels and Dana Delaney. These must be different geese.

The farm began in 1944 and Jim was added to the gaggle in 1962. After tastiness, they had to breed for white feathers because everywhere but France, where the infamous Toulouse geese live and die, people want white down pillows, not grey ones.

Jim said he’d heard of an 82 year-old goose, and that many can live to 25 or even 40, but after maturity they usually go to dog food. Lucky dogs! Mine eats frozen raw rabbit, lamb, turkey, and venison, but I’ll have to check out goose.

Which brings me to capon. It was always a special meal in our home and widely available, even in rural neighborhoods like the one I grew up in. On my birthday I got to choose my cake (Viennese Chocolate Pecan Torte) and dinner, which was capon.

I mis-spoke earlier when I said this was my 13th Thanksgiving at Nanny’s. My husband worked for an online retailer years ago and they wouldn’t let him off for Black Friday so we had to forgo the trip. A month earlier I went to Whole Foods and asked for a capon. No. I asked why? No reason. I asked customer service. No answer. I called HQ. I don’t know why they won’t let me order a capon.

Look up capon on this site. I’ve done my research. Wapsie Farms had capon. Marc and Jim struck up a friendship at industry events and now Schiltz farms has a capon enterprise as well, and you can order from them at http://www.roastgoose.com.

My husband has been off for several months on a consulting contract but of course we’re meeting at his Nanny’s for Thanksgiving. Christmas we’ll have on our own. I’m getting a goose, a capon and a container of goose fat to make Pommes Anna and keep in the frig for good stuff. Jim even told me how to cook a goose (recipes are on the site) but they do have a goose for ‘fraidy cats. Get it frozen and heat it up in an hour. Your family and guests will never know and you can make side dishes instead of basting!

I do shop at Whole Foods Market and everyone is nice to me at this store, but I may have to keep moving around the country to keep that the case when I bring up capon. The store’s protein rules are strict and arbitrary. My father-in-law would love to get his registered Angus cattle into the butcher’s case, and so would raisers of geese and capons.

Principles, not solely marketing, should be the driving force in a market, and that market could be anything from Wall Street to Main Street. The holier-than-thou attitude of Whole Foods Market looks down on anyone not wearing espadrilles and carrying in ten bags then asking if you want to donate a dollar for using the bags you already bought from them, and if you want to donate to their charity of the month.

GIVE ME CAPON! For heaven’s sake, is that too much to ask? Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving. I’m making spicy almonds and cashews, marinated Kalamata olives, cranberry chutney, brussels sprouts and cauliflower gratin, and mincemeat tarts. And driving 1,500 miles to get there.

Many thanks and happy holidays to the Schiltz’s and the Wapsies, who both hail from Iowa. I won’t hit that state or SD en route but got a bunch of quarters to get through the Oklahoma Territory as I messed up and put a dollar bill in the machine two years ago. Oops, almost got a warrant on that one. Caponly yours, Dee

Improved Posting Experience

Now you, WordPress, are harassing me to sign in again to not get your Improved Posting Experience.

You reject my password repeatedly and will not allow me access. I’ve a number of readers around the world and they may not like the fact that you’re shutting me out as a writer. I may not make it to the head of a rope line these days but there are minds at stake here.

When I began years ago you championed writers. Now you go with flash and not substance. If I was 20 and clubbing you’d be with me, instead I’ve experience and a mind and a willingness and ability to write and all you do is ask for my password and dismiss me.

Readers, this month I turned 57 and you like my recipes and stories. Please ask WordPress to let me back in. Cheers! Dee

Clarity

I don’t actually see things. I just know our path when it’s right. Right now I know what we are supposed to leave in our wake but am still confused as to our future. My lack of clarity, argued and won by my significant other, has caused stress in the past.

Around 12:25 a.m. my husband showed up. He’s been away for over four months on a job, visiting for only 30 hours over Labor Day weekend. January will mark 12 years of marriage.

Building blocks. Perhaps I’ve an inner architect. I can tell you that a young organizer helped me motor through a few boxes and turn Boxlandia into a Tuscan Retreat just yesterday. We’re on a time warp here so Zoe and I got up at what would be 4:30 a.m. his time. He’s back asleep.

I’m hoping that the clues he gives me during his brief stay will bring us together and make his requested spaghetti and meat balls even better. I’m making the meatballs Swedish-style Kottbullar but using fresh bread crumbs in milk, then 1/2 pork and 1/2 beef plus onions and garlic. Yes, neighbor G direct from Sweden taught me how to make meatballs, the softest and tastiest I’ve ever had. Now I’ve a final exam to take. Perhaps I’ll give him a meatball from tonight’s dinner. If I pass, he has to learn to make real Pedernales Texas chili. Then G will take my final chili exam. Remember, there are no beans in Texas chili.

Neighbors are wonderful. One is a retired architect who always has a flower theme, very avant garde. He drew us a welcome sign to place outside the door to greet my husband. when he arrived early this morning.

Keeping quiet in our home is difficult as I want to cook and do dishes and the dog wants to tag team us so no-one leaves her. Herding instincts. So I’m writing and don’t think he can hear the keys tick behind a closed door. I didn’t really figure in the time difference but as he’s on his way from central to eastern I should get him used to it. perhaps noon.

Sorry to say I’m starting a Honey-Do list. Don’t worry, it’ll only take 1/2 hour.

Right now I don’t want to make noise. Zoe is on the bed sleeping, with the door open so she can come out to see me. He’s been gone for a long time so she doesn’t know if he’s staying. He is not. I will drive his car 1,200 miles to Thanksgiving and he will take it another 1,500 miles to save on a thousand dollars a month in rental cars.

The future will be in my heart and mind soon. Right now I have to make meatballs. Also what someone calls “corn quiche” which is a corn custard with chorizo and mushrooms.” Google it.

I was single for a long time. Being single again while being married for nearly 12 years is not something we wish to continue. I can’t walk down the street with our dog, holding hands, through a phone call or email. Let us look forward to good times and good food. Cheers! Dee

Thanksgiving and Family

Now that Ebola is out of our hospitals please let us keep it in mind. We will need to fight it better than we did AIDS, that denial will hurt us forever.

Now I can stop watching the faux news which only hits on whether Black Friday or Cyber Monday is the best shopping day. Now they all say it’s Thanksgiving Day.

Sorry, Nanny, thanks for the turkey, I don’t have time for dessert as the mall is calling and these are the best deals of the season. Retailers, you’re spoiling perhaps the one day a year when families get together and share a meal.

Hey, folks, instead of going to the mall, how about leaving the table after dessert and clean-up and instead of watching football, help plant trees or build a home. Or just stay home and play outdoor Qube, as we do.

I plan to be at my in-laws at least three days before Thanksgiving, to cook and visit family before my husband arrives. That’s what we do every year. I would never get up from Nanny’s table mid-meal and leave to go shopping.

Shop for what? My husband and I do not celebrate birthdays, holidays or anniversaries. Why buy extra stuff we don’t need? Before we married I made him promise not to buy me little things, Hummell¬† figurines or dogs, cats or angels. I mistakenly told a relative the other day, and it was agreed that it’s just more s*** to dust.

We’re on our own and not even together right now due to a contract. The most important thing we can give to our familes is enjoying time together. To me, that’s way more important than a great deal on that sweater or a pair of Jimmy Choo’s. Hug your family this holiday season. Dee

Corn “Quiche”

Speaking of dreaming, I dreamed up a corn bread pudding that is different than one I’ve made before. All I have to do now is make it and give some to my favorite corn pudding taster for a test drive. Later this week, much to do. Cheers, Dee

Sleep

Thank goodness I can’t see myself sleep. I have it on good authority from my husband of many years that I do snore and sometimes mumble in REM sleep.

He does as well and awakens me. At least he did. Now he’s off on a contract for months. If he’s stressed I just place my hand on his back and he goes right into deep sleep, which he needs because he works hard and is always problem-solving while awake or sleeping. I know about problem-solving as it’s my job as well.

Now that he’s been gone for a while I’ve something to say to scientists who say that dogs do not dream, and that they don’t remember anything or anyone after forty minutes.

While I’m up writing this, Zoe’s gotten off the bed to make sure I’m OK and still here for her. She’s had three REM sleeps, I don’t know if she caught the ball, squirrel or bunny. The only one she’s had awake success with is a ball.

I put a hand on her back and she went back to sleep. Now, I will, too. Zoe has taken over the sofa. Back to bed, dear. Yes, I’ll lift you. Bath tomorrow, you always like that. Dee

Corporate Care

I awaken at or about 3:00 in the morning. It used to be the time I wrote my best ideas, left them on a pad on my nightstand, and went back to sleep with my cats at my feet.

Oh, those warm fuzzies. Now it’s more nightmare time. Our hipless wonder dog jumps off the bed as soon as she sees sunlight or I turn on the television. She burrows underneath the bed, beneath my pillow, so I cannot go anywhere without her knowledge and approval. TV on, I only see ads to send one’s elderly parents to “caring” facilities that may or may not accept Medicare.

Today I’ve a private pet-sitter who will take good care of our dog. I also have a vet and other contacts for emergency information and care. Then I went to a corporate pet day care and overnight operation. Their questions are intrusive. They require a trainer-conducted supervisory visit then say anything that happens is my and my dog’s fault.

What ever happened to customer service? I lease an expensive apartment and they tell me what to do. I have a maid and she tells me what she’ll do and how she needs to be paid. I’ve a vet assistant who tells me to follow my dog around with a ladle, catch her pee and refrigerate it then take it in within 24 hours to be scanned, and don’t worry, I don’t have to bother the vet. Bother my vet? Please.

I’m hiring you. I tell you what I want and pay you for it. If I want the walls green, please don’t paint them blue then tell me to get out of the house for 12 hours and pay you cash for what you did wrong.

People around here like us and our old dog. We don’t ask much of anyone, although I would love to go back to the days when we never locked the house or cars, and dogs could run after a ball or stick without a $290 ticket.

Forgive me if I’d rather deal with individuals than corporations. Yes, I may be hurt from time to time but tend to be a good judge of character. When I hire someone, individual or corporation, I set the rules. Dee

Thanksgiving

is different this year. My husband has been gone for nearly four months on a contract consulting gig across the country. I’m holding down the fort.

Great news is that he’ll be home in a few days, briefly, then meet me at Nanny’s 1,500 miles away for Thanksgiving. Sadly, I’m driving his car there and he’ll take it the rest of the way. He flies in, I fly home.

There is something to say for strategic planning. I’m not good at cards or picture puzzles but give me a problem and I’ll think about it and find ten ways to do it then awaken at 3 a.m. and have it down. Outside the box.

Interestingly my husband and I often come up to the same or very similar conclusion even though we go through very different mental processes to get there. He’s left brain/physics and I’m right brain/liberal arts. Yes, I’m sinistre and he’s dextrous, as handwriting is concerned.

The puzzle is that I can bring anything I want to Thanksgiving in the car and take as little as possible back on a plane or planes. My husband’s task is to take as little on a plane as possible to me at our shared destination while having enough casual clothing for Nanny’s, then driving with everything I think he needs for the next few months (simple things like a winter jacket and perhaps some corduroy trousers for weekends).

We bought my mother-in-law a 1957 Necchi sewing machine, gorgeous, all metal. It’s in the car. So is 25 pounds of food. There’s another wrinkle to this puzzle. The dog can’t know I’m leaving so I’m taking one thing out at a time. Yes, she will have a responsible young woman staying here with her but gets upset when my husband and I leave with suitcases.

Thanksgiving has led me to many thoughts of food, as I started 12 years ago as a girlfriend who brought some spiced almonds and cashews to place on Nanny’s kitchen table for noshing. I’m a northerner in southern territory and would not even think to make a side dish or dessert and compete with the southern ladies.

Now there are at least 35 desserts but as a 12 year wife I get to bring up to seven dishes, melding the war of northern aggression with the south that will rise again. M-I-L and I literally dance around the kitchen for days cooking.

This year, I’m just getting started: spicy almonds and cashews (Epicurious); boursin and toasts; Dee’s marinated Kalamata olives; cranberry spread; brussels sprout and cauliflower gratin; corn and chorizo casserole; and mincemeat tarts.

There’s always a lot of meat at these gatherings and as we all age some of us and younger generations want to be at least part-time vegetarians. I help out in that regard. No, I do not put a sprig of parsley on a meaty plate. Nor do I place naked broccoli on a platter. With sixty guests there are vegetarians and I like to provide something satisfactory. It may not be the healthiest meal in the world but it’ll be tasty and perhaps have some toasted pine nuts in/on it and some Parm.

There are gifts in the offing as well, but I cannot tell of that, as I look forward to our annual family gathering. Cheers! Dee

ps I went to the bank and got $20 in quarters. Last time I went through this stretch of road there were no people, I’d run out of quarters so threw the toll booth a dollar bill. Their receipts added up at the end of the day but for two years I’ve kept the receipt in case there’s a warrant out for my arrest.

pps Italian change purse from Dad. $20 in quarters for toll booths. In the car. I’ll keep secretly packing from the dog, another week and a half. D

 

 

Food and Care and Writing

Yes, I’ve been remiss on the latter. So much so an old friend called me the other day because I’d missed a few days of blogs.¬† I’ve been ill and no-one was here to help me out because we’ve agreed for my husband to take a consulting contract elsewhere for a short term.

Food has always been a key ingredient in my existence and I realize its potential for sustenance, health, fun, entertaining and creativity. Care is something I’ve always specialized in, something that always lets me know that I’m making a worthwhile effort.

I made killer chicken wings the other day and sent a few out for taste tests. Now I only have to find my “seat of the pants” recipe for all y’all. It included soy sauce, Indonesian (sweet) soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, chili and garlic paste, sriracha and honey. Plus finely grated garlic and ginger. Proportions, I know.

The wings were marinated in the frig for a day, extra wing discarded and big two separated. Oven to 375, place wings on sprayed foil on cookie sheet(s). Cook for 30 minutes while you reduce marinade to a syrupy glaze. Glaze the wings, ten more minutes in the oven and you’ve juicy, tasty wings.

Now all I have to do for you it test it a number of times and give you both the exact marinade/glaze and one that accounts for if you don’t have Indonesian soy sauce. I’ll get to it but you may want to try your own, with salty, sweet, hot flavors.

There’s a lot going on here. I’m not cooking as much, or writing. I miss my husband, who I haven’t seen in two months. Let’s hope that will be corrected very soon. Cheers, Dee

ps Thank you old friend, for checking in on me. I’m glad you and our buddies are doing well. You protected me the first night of college orientation and you’re still with me decades later. I believe the rule is that if there are no bars toward women in your fraternity via articles and bylaws, when certain women have married in or achieved exalted status they should become honorary members at age 50. No shaving of heads, no paddles. Think about it.