Recalcitrant

This was in the header for a NYTimes article about North Korea. When I was a kid, grade school, I read that the Grey Lady wrote at a sixth-grade level.

Recalcitrant should have been in our spelling bee before that age. It is, however, appropriate now.  Stubbornly refusing to obey rules or orders, says Merriam-Webster’s dictionary.

Look the word up in another dictionary and it would have both my and my husband’s name on the definition. It’s been tough being away from each other for months. We lose the connection when he walks in the door, sees the dog’s tail wagging, hugs and kisses me and gets changed to eat his favorite meal, spaghetti and my homemade meatballs. A genius who wants simple food from a great cook.

Now I and Zoe are leaving without a place to go as his client is asking he travel halfway around the globe next month, the entire month. That leaves me to pack, move, drive alone across the country with the dog and have no-where to live because he hasn’t done it and I’ve never had boots on the ground to do what I do best. I’ve moved all my life. Now I need notebooks. I call them Outgoing and Incoming. Years ago someone added a box called Too Hard, I like that.

I’m doing my best to plan, box, and also make Christmas dinner for guests so am kind of busy. If he goes away for a month for work, I need more time at home with a roof over Zoe’s and my head before the long trip to wherever.

At the destination, living in my car is not an option (I recently drove his car to him for 2,000 miles), simply because the dog has a 4″ orthopedic bed in back and she’d have better digs than me and I’d have my head on the passenger seat because the back seat would be packed to the limit.

Recalcitrant. Look me up. I’m much nicer to my friends around the world than is North Korea’s head, and he is described as recalcitrant, word of the day. Cheers, Dee

Weather Report

I’m supposed to drive two hours each way to pick up my husband Christmas eve. Of course the local weather predicted devastating snow storms that would paralyze all the major airports east of the Mississippi. Yes, I was a spelling champion in grade school.

They do this for ratings, because they don’t have anything else to report but murder, arson, protesters stopping traffic and really bad weather.

I got my own report today. The geese told me something’s brewing. Great gaggles gathered (alliteration) near shore. They did not speak. They’re all feeding to hunker down for a killer storm. Also strange little black birds, like the crazy ones in Texas that sit on the power lines, not Grackles, have been by. We already have alternate plans, train or hotel and he’ll be home for Christmas dinner.

When the squirrels are up in their tree apartments (I saw one that had a plastic grocery bag atop, a nuisance to humans but the only waterproof squirrel apartment I’ve ever seen) we need to see to roads and sidewalks, heat and enough food and water to get us through.

We’re hurricane-proof, see my blogs through Ike, a storm like I’ve never seen that my husband and dog slept through and I blogged through. Every other loft was damaged. Not ours. Our hurricane gear is a block away and I’ve enough coats, hats, gloves and winter boots to get me there on foot to retrieve The Hurricane Box. Yes, we even have a hand-powered radio.

I may have a purpose in this life and may have lived it and may be living it still. I’ve saved people and animals, someone must have a use for me to be here. The bird (capon) has landed and is in the freezer until 12/23, my husband’s birthday. Saving a capon is not my life’s goal, as we and our guests are going to eat it. It’s Christmas here with a tree and everything magical. Dee

Lists

I’ve two fancy notebooks now, one for Outgoing as in leaving, and one for Incoming as in going wherever else we’re going. Each will have sections and dividers and even spaces for keys. All I have to do is check off each item, master list and sub.

I outlined Outgoing today, Incoming with no destination tomorrow, but first on the list is dog food. We’re going to the only store that carries her food, will load her up with frozen raw food to up her points and get a free one, and same dry raw food for the road. Also, some treats for the other dogs here.

That’s all part of organization. Minimize, organize, pack and ship. I’m working on the first two and have a short time frame in which to do so.

Once the lists are done we’ll know where to change address or cut utility, hire  a mover, pay at the other end. And make sure the dog gets her shots.

Several things are in progress, like the dog’s vet appointment, also I got my main car checked out, drove our other car which was also safety checked before taking it most of the way across the country and have updated that registration. That and five hours on the phone trying to renew AAA. It’s supposed to be a national organization but each of its member states fight for the money so with moving, I was switched from state to state and finally said I’d be a member here and a member there next year and placed my phone back on the charger.

Moving is exhausting and I’ve only processed about too many stuff-purging boxes for me so far and need to find the best box store in town to pack the rest. Most of the time has been organizing things and a vast amount of time on the phone with idiots trying to get things moved or in position or in transition or cancelled.

Yes, I’m the advance man. I’ll be prepared with everything in order. Except electronics. It’s called division of labor. My husband does electronics and deals with movers. He’s 6’4″ and won’t take any guff. I won’t, either, but they take him seriously especially when the leashed dog I’m holding is licking the mover’s leg.

Lists, boxes, organization, I’ll have it in place when he gets here if the snow doesn’t stop planes from coming in. If we’re not snowed in, Santa arrives here in time for Christmas. Cheers! Dee

 

Sobbing

Yes, it happens once a year. Always in the car, usually driving from my husband’s folks home with hubby dear in the passenger seat, snoozing.

It’s the Thanksgiving trip which is exhausting at least for the women who do all the planning, shopping, prep, cooking, serving, and cleaning, twice. Of course the men are tired from eating and watching football.

The first one was about Maria who couldn’t afford the pretty bird so got the beat-up cage with a nightingale inside. We all know the end of that story. I was in tears. I do not like most Christmas music, especially things like a grandmother being trampled by reindeer.

This year I was alone on the road driving from St. Louis to Tulsa and there was this song about a poor kid who wanted shoes for his mother on Christmas Eve and a stranger gave him the extra money to buy them because the kid’s mother is going to see Jesus tonight.

Waterworks in the car. Truckers had to be laughing out loud. My husband, if he’s awake in the car when it happens on the radio between religious and country music, will affirm that it only happens once a year.

My favorite songs of the season include but are not limited to:  Silent Night; White Christmas; Burl Ives’ Rudolph; Greensleeves; The Little Drummer Boy; Gloria in Exelsius Deo; and O Tannenbaum.

So why don’t you make us some figgy pudding and bring some right here. Yes, I’m making “figgy pudding” as a tart with ricotta salata. We’ll see how it goes with our guests. As Bing Crosby (look him up) said in White Christmas the movie: If you’re worried and you can’t sleep, count your blessings instead of sheep, and you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings. I do every day. Dee

The Bird Arrived

Yes, a capon. I put it right in the freezer, in which I carved space today. I don’t know its weight but it should be between 7-9 lbs. I’ll take it to the frig on the 23rd to thaw.

I’m changing the menu. Too much bread. I remember holiday meals when everything had bread as a component and I don’t want my guests to fill up on carbs.

I’ll start with my marinated Kalamata olives and a Greek/Italian cheese plate with grapes and other fruit my heart goes pitter-pat for at the store.

It’ll be Mom’s basic stuffing, with the liver. No apple-sausage dressing. The gratin stays the same but I’ll add either a sauteed spinach or arugula.

I have to keep the cheddar-bacon biscuits in memory of Jane Grigson. Having never made them before I hope I can do them well and just place them on the table to nosh.

Mashed potatoes are still on the list but I may add additional root vegetables to the puree. Note: do not ever place rutabagas through a ricer. They will break your fingers, wrists and perhaps elbows.

I cannot find mincemeat to save my life, even Amazon can only have it to me by February at the earliest. Interesting I wrote here about it years ago and was contacted by someone who desperately needed mincemeat for tarts to bring to his father’s for Christmas.

Who was that person? My own brother. He’d never seen my blog and was taking mincemeat to Dad’s for Christmas. I ordered two large jars from Amazon as a gift and sent them directly to Dad’s. Oh, I also gave him Mom’s pie dough recipe which my mother-in-law also uses.

What are we doing for dessert this year? In the spirit of the great US of A and Europe I’m creating a fig and ricotta salata mini-turnover, plus a fruit dish, probably with lemon curd (I found some today) and whipped cream or Greek yogurt.

What can I say? This menu is a work in progress. Next year I may even try prime rib and Yorkshire pudding…. Permit me to tackle the capon first. Cheers! Dee

Christmas Dinner

It’s almost here and I’ve so much to do. My husband finally snagged a flight that gets in Christmas Eve. The airport is two hours away but he got a good deal.

We’re having a few folks over for dinner. After years of looking I finally found a capon at http://www.roastgoose.com and ordered it yesterday before I lost out. This is not a monetized site, dear readers. I just loved capon for special occasions when I was a little girl.

So far, the menu is:

Christmas Dinner 2014

 

Toasts with Capon Liver/Apple/Walnut Pate, Flambeed with Cognac

Shiltz/Wapsie Roasted Capon, with Herbs and Butter

Mom’s Stuffing

Dee’s Pork Sausage & Apple Dressing (one guest does not eat pork)

Cauliflower, Brussels Sprout and Carrot Gratin with Parmigiano Reggiano and Toasted Pine Nuts

Spinachi aglio e olio (garlic and olive oil) or Green Beans with Indonesian Soy Sauce and Sesame Seeds

Mashed Potatoes with Pan Gravy

English Trifle with Lemon Cream and Berries Galore and Pomegranate Seeds

Mincemeat Tarts

***End***

I drew from experience and lack thereof. I was looking for a play of tastes, textures and color on the plate. Because I’ve lovely hand-made Italian serving dishes and Lenox china to pack right after Christmas I think we’ll serve family-style.

There are no recipes nor have I ever cooked a capon. I trust I can do the menu. It’s a matter of what I can do ahead, what is available to me (no lemon curd, no mincemeat). And getting back here near midnight Christmas Eve from the airport with everything in flux, makes me more flustered because I’m supposed to be in moving, not cooking mode.

It is important to have guests for Christmas because we’ve no family here, I cook and we like interesting conversation. It is essential to bring evidence of our lives into my cooking, as a requested item in TX is my gratin, three years running. Cheers and happy holidays, Dee

Firebird/Christmas Roses

I created an event in 1994. One night, 3:00 in the morning I awakened and wrote down ideas. Revolutionary ideas that were fought against tooth and nail by the powers that be.

It worked. Yesterday I put up a small tabletop tree with white lights and favorite ornaments. Three were tag board from my Kids for Kids event. Two from children and one that simply says “Friend” from a friend who donated to and helped with the event.

The children’s school at a local theater was lacking students. My plan was to buy out the theater at full price, have the local press print FREE tickets with gift of food or clothing for a local orphanage. The kids did a performance of The Firebird and the Christmas Roses that brought tears to my eyes. The house was packed and the school got new students.

The box office manager had a friend draw a gorgeous Firebird and he designed the Playbook. We had a tree donated and the orphans drew ornaments. Two wonderful ladies sewed gingerbread person ornaments that we cut out of used grocery bags and filled with cotton batting to be decorated by more kids. Phew!

We had a tree, menorah (electric, as you don’t want someone yelling FIRE in a crowded theater) and everything by and for kids. It took a lot of time and effort.

Today, I’ve three ornaments from these kids who are now living life, on my little tree. I also have a framed Playbill with the donors (memorials to some), and my name is on it but more importantly, the Director and Cast all signed it for me and it’s my Christmas centerpiece. We’re having “orphans” again this year from nearby, as I love to do. I’ve a menu to share next time. Cheers, I’ve got to wrangle a printer! From Jessica, age 10 who drew a cat for me. She must be 30 now, oh my, Dee

 

New Office

I moved everything over, the toughest was the 24″ monitor. I lemon-oiled my 100 year old desk/English oak gateleg table and now it hosts a 3′ holiday tree for my husband that includes ornaments that celebrate our 13 years together.

The monitor was heavy. Nothing like the printer. I had to ask for help with that as I could not lift it out of the box. I opened the box and got the packaging to one-minute place on new desk status.

The printer is so big it makes my monitor, laptop and cordless keyboard look like children’s toys. It’s my husband’s dream low cost printer that will do ledger paper et al. So far I’ve found five slots for paper and a space for scanning.

If I was OK with having the power cord across my lap and power right next to me, I could have been fine. But the extension cord has to go at the bottom of the power strip and it’s dark in here and by pulling out everything to reset it will be black in here and I can’t do that.

After I configure the gargantuan printer (I’ve found five paper slots but not where printer cartridges go to test it – and from which drawer?). It’s supposed to have instructions and a video. There are none. So far. Who knows how many more slots it has?

It takes over not only my new desk, but the entire room. After it is set up and operational it will move to the floor. The very nice guy who lifted it out of the box said it was the biggest home printer he’d ever seen.

Again, it’s dark in here and while I found paper tray spaces and the way to plug in the power cord I’ve no way or reason to network or fax (we have no land line) and in the dark I’ve no way of even finding the way to place the ink.

Printer. Paper. Ink. It was easy on the old broken one. Please don’t tell my dear husband that the stapler has been broken for a year. I’d hate to see him get a bigger printer with a built-in stapler, Dee

Dogs in Heaven

My path took me to a Franciscan college before I knew it. I believed in St. Francis of Assisi as a child growing up in the HRC church. Of course there is a place for our loved ones where we’re destined to go.

Pope Francis told a young boy whose dog had died that there was that place. My first cat Nathan (gift from God) never let me get the last word in even as he took his last breath in my arms. He said “I can’t believe they let dogs in.”

Not too soon, but I look forward to seeing my dear friends when I go. Oh, both Nathan and Mick loved dogs. Chani, my first rescue dog, loved cats and raised Mickey; as does our Zoe (Greek for life). Cheers! Dee

One View

I will not miss. For most of the past 13 years I’ve been blessed with constant views of parks, wildlife, mountains, skyscrapers or ever-changing lakes.

There is a rehabilitation facility up the street that I can see from our windows. People there say they occasionally admit a young person who has been in a catastrophic automobile accident, but mainly it is an “old folks home.”

I’m known to get up in the middle of the night and read the news or write. Tonight is different. Not only is my husband two thousand miles away, I’ve moved my office to another room, one that I’ve rarely spent more than a few moments in to dust or vacuum or make up the futon for guests.

A short while ago lights awakened me in our bedroom. Three ambulances with flashing lights were just up the street. Then there was one. No flashing lights. Right by the ambulance bay. All is quiet, then they roll out the body and the last ambulance leaves. It is sad to think that someone with little or no family remaining has passed.

Sad, as well, to walk by en route to the grocery store and see a bevy of nurses outside, smoking. Yes, nurses, smoking and chatting. And the residents have a “tent” out in the parking lot, each with their respective chair they brought from whatever home they may have had, for smoking.

My elders used to discourage my great aunt from smoking. She refused until she was nearly 100 years old to go to a nursing home. When they realized how much of her pension was going to cigarettes, as soon as we turned 18 when we crossed the border to Canada to visit we were urged to use our adult status to get her cigarettes for 1/4 the price, as well as alcohol for the family reunion at a similar discount.  Way back then the US dollar was much stronger than Canada’s.

Mom was Canadian but finally got a Green Card. She kept citizenship there probably to make sure my brother never had to be conscripted for war duty. No, she never smoked. But I sat in her room and watched her for an entire week at hospice. She died over six years ago. I spent time with her alive, barely, there was no funeral, and my gift at her death was to assure that before cremation, her corneas were donated at her behest.

When I see these ambulances I think of people, not parts. I hope they have family and friends who care and will remember them and their stories. My father went in this week to have two cancerous tumors removed. It reminds me to go see him as soon as possible (he wouldn’t let me come and cook right away) and hear and write down as many stories as I can.

He is a human being, not a set of parts. I will not miss the ambulances. I will miss the view, of an ever-changing lake and feeding one set of ice fishers each year who let me get the closest I ever will to walking on water. Cheers from my temporary new space! We’ll set up the new printer today and I’ll be on the move. Dee