Solutions

That’s what I do. Years ago a “marginal” came to me. Basically someone who won an election with a small margin is attacked by the other party so said party can re-gain the seat. The party I worked for is tasked to pretty much do anything a “marginal” asks for.

This guy asked for a lot. A constituent, a father wanted his son to be able to participate in Revolutionary War re-enactments and his 12 year-old son wished to do so.

The problem is that the law states that one must be of age (18) to participate as by doing so one might be conscripted into the State Militia. If 9/11 had happened back then this pre-teen would be in Afghanistan and I wouldn’t allow that.

Some of my fellow analysts would just go down to the lawyers in bill drafting and say, how about a bill to up the fines on such and such. I used bill drafting just to OK printing of the bill and to fine-tune if there were any glitches. Let’s just say I was a better writer of legislation than they were and I’m not a lawyer (but I play one on TV). I always wanted to say that! It’s not true. I do not play one on TV.

One of my legendary 3:00 a.m. epiphanies occurred and I awoke and re-wrote the entire section of the state’s UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice), handed it to bill drafting when I got to work and they said it was brilliant.

I was seated next to the “marginal” on the floor when it passed and handed him a tin soldier I’d bought. He’d made my life miserable for three weeks complaining about how I couldn’t do a quick fix but in the end, it all worked out (it’s a miracle) and both constituents, father and son, were pleased.

That’s how things roll here. Dee

ps At the end of legislative session everything goes ’round the clock but is agreed to by both parties. That doesn’t stop a party for attacking a marginal in committee even though they know the bill is a done deal with both houses and the governor. This was a small land sale. As an analyst/legislative liaison I called the office of government services top attorney and asked if the land was for sale, if the survey was correct and if the government wished to sell the land. Yes to all three. It was a short bill, four pages. This marginal was being beat up and the opposing party asked “exactly how large is this property?” I touched my Chairman’s arm to say I could handle this. I took 30 seconds and went through surveyors measurements to which I haven’t a clue. I just made them wait. Then I responded. “Four pages.” Everyone laughed and it was passed along party lines. Solutions. That’s what my husband and I are on this earth to do. People ask why we’re together. This is why. I’m right-brained, he’s left-brained, a physicist. He’s methodical, and I guess I am as well. We provide solutions to complex problems. It is our life, not just a job.Dee

Framing

I like to think of challenges as a whole and figure out a way to get there. That is how my husband thinks of his consulting engagements. Framing.

Over the years I have also framed art and look at the colors and matting and frames as a job as well, one that I enjoy. My husband just thinks they’re pictures on our walls but then, his mind doesn’t go there as he’s concerned with other things.

My father took up painting at age 80 and I’ve three of his works, beautifully framed by his eldest child. I’m writing my will and giving these three to my dear brother. He is a framer of art, of ballet, and will care for them when I’m gone.

There are several more to do. An original work from Dad 30 years ago by an art student at a prestigious school. Four works from Dad on seasons that I’d like to do as a large piece if possible. They will go alongside a quilt my m-i-l made in the 70’s that we “framed” into a seasonal quartet.

Framing our lives is something I do every day. It’s not having a light yellow over a slight red with a particular wood frame. It is our lives. They are changing and I hope to frame them well.

Cheers and good morning! Dee

Army/Navy

I miss the battle.

Two guys, one West Point and one Annapolis, bet an under $10 bottle of wine on the game every year. The bottle came to the winner with a black ribbon.

Both men are gone now, one at West Point and one at Annapolis. This Memorial Day I honor them for their service to our country.

Honors to AJ and Buck. D, J and Z

Memorial Day

Over 12 years ago my now husband and I requested an appointment with a retired Navy Captain and his wife, the Admiral as he called her. We said we had decided to marry, in five days and found a way for the Captain to become Deputy Marriage Commissioner for a day and marry us. We asked his dear wife, my other mother, to be a witness on the marriage certificate.

The Captain took a moment to think about it and said yes. Mom insisted on buying my bouquet, which was very simple and elegant. I bought roses for the gals and French tulips as boutonnieres for the gents. We had a lovely luncheon and went off to a very strange honeymoon, I think I already wrote about that.

This Mom took care of my husband while I prepared for our elopement with hair, dress (rented) et al. Dad wrote the vows personally and I typed them up in big print for him to read. It was beautiful.

We sneaked into a eucalyptus grove overlooking the Pacific ocean and were married in two minutes. Eight of us. Lunch on us, then we went to our new home and called our parents.

To me, Memorial Day means that a good man is back home at Annapolis after many years of service. His family moved from here to there, everywhere and landed where we met, through our dogs. Three years ago my husband and I flew in for his final move with ceremony. His family is my family. Their three sons call me “sis.”

He never told me about his service but his son did at his burial ceremony and he had a storied career and was a hero. That is what I think of on Memorial Day. So put down the burger and the beer and think of what Memorial Day means to you.

Please have a wonderful weekend and think of those who have served. Dee

ps I had to tell the Captain he couldn’t go around town willy nilly marrying anyone he chose, he was committed to us! D

Frustration

I’ve been working with a major tax preparer online, had to file an extension for one day due to misinformation from said preparer and got the federal refund in two weeks. Now two states are dismissing large refunds because the preparer missed a line in the 1040 and has acknowledged their error.

These states do not want to pay us moneys the Feds say are due because of an error on a line that was not my fault. I put in all the information and TurboTax failed to submit it to two states.

The preparer will not give me a human on the phone even though they admit they erred. They made me stay on hold for 90 minutes, it was another 90 minutes with us online and my husband, a software guy, updating their stuff for free.

Then they scheduled a phone appointment this morning. As of now they’re 7 1/2 hours late for that call. I am on deck for another for four hours. Also have a complaint in because we paid for a premium package and my husband, last night, a software genius, probably saved them millions by detecting the problem and solving it for them. I still can not get a person on the phone to solve a simple problem that they acknowledge is their fault.

We’re missing several thousand dollars in refunds from two states and cannot get them because this company will not solve the problem that they caused. My husband even paid $44 more yesterday to fix this. He claims we’ll get $30 back. We’ll see if that ever happens.

The IRS OK’d our return and we got our refund in two weeks. We paid prime prices for a service that does not perform. It does not properly fill out state returns and will not even tell us they’ve been approved, including Federal, which we received over two weeks ago. I tried the phone again and got in line but no-one will call back.

I’m hopping mad and did not even make dinner. My husband is out getting a burrito, and a taco bowl for me. I put on a down coat to walk with him but it was too cold without hat and gloves for me to take the dog with us. Imagine that, in late May. Might it be winter again?

Tomorrow I need to run errands, clean, make three meals, pay bills and provide moral support to my family plus give out “assignments.” Mine is to get on the phone with TurboTax no matter how many hours it takes. It’s a lot of money to lose for a missed number on one line of a 1040. Dee

Greyhound Stories

Years ago I was a leader in a volunteer organization and I began and led a weekly project with my volunteers guided by their own leader. The organization is Greyhound Pets of America. They take “retired” racing and other hounds from racetracks mostly, fix them up, and take great care adopting them to good homes. It keeps them from being shot when they lose a race or can’t make any more puppies.

I met a gal today at a specialty pet store where we get Zoe’s food. She’s currently volunteering for a local GPA, has a Grey from there and is fostering another, a Greyhound/Coonhound mix. The Coon people wanted a Grey to make faster hunters. He saw a raccoon and ran away so they wanted to shoot the dog. This brave lady intervened. The guys just wanted faster hunters and out here, y’all shoot the ones who don’t make the cut.

While I was volunteer leader at a GPA weekly “turnout” when they take the dogs out to exercise and socialize and eliminate, they had 32 dogs in individual crates. The track dogs felt comfortable there as it was their experience as they’d known no other. They were turned out three times per day.

One came in that was an AKC (show) dog and the dogs didn’t like him for that. Also, he’d been raised with show Rottweilers so thought he was, you get it, a Rottie. I had to take him alone, across the street to a fenced yard and let him go. Man, it was a treat to see that dog run. As a joke I suggested subliminal tapes at night that said “I am a Greyhound, not a Rottweiler.”

The lady and I have five things in common. Of course we love dogs and volunteer. We save/adopt/foster orphans and strays. We appreciate the Greyhound for all its glory. We feed our pets best quality food. We abhor animal cruelty.

Here’s another. Martingale collars that were born to fit dogs like Greys, Silken Windhounds, Collies, anyone who can slip a collar easily. I have two from this great company, all Asian silk and hand-sewn. A Martingale is a two-looped collar with no buckle that offers added control. They have them in the store and can order. Now that is a specialty store. Write in if you want more info.

I put one of my two with a 3/4″ braided leather collar. I’ve arthritis since 25 and often there’s ice on the sidewalks so between the 1.5″ collar and flexible 6′ leash it gives me control. Their shop has a relationship with this growing company and our conversation began with her admiring Zoe’s unique collar, asian silk, emerald green with dogwood flowers and brass trim. I love Greyhound stories!

Must go. Dog went to the vet today for a heartworm test and she’s lethargic. Ate dinner but needs to go “you know where.” Cheers! Here’s to GPA and Greyhound Rescue. Dee

 

St. Louis Style Ribs

Here’s what I concocted for dinner last night:

Dee’s St. Louis Style Ribs

I will never make baby back ribs again! My butcher put on sale St. Louis style ribs yesterday and I was up for the challenge, having never made them before.

First ingredient is a large roasting pan. Smaller is OK if you need to cut ribs in half. You will need higher sides than a sheet pan, however.

1 rack St. Louis style ribs

Rub made from equal parts salt, pepper, smoked paprika (pimenton) and 1/3 the amount of sugar (make a lot and keep the rest in a jar, you’ll at least need 1.5 tsp/1/2 tsp. for this rack alone.

Place in roasting pan (cut in half if you must, to fit).

I added ¼ inch of Crispin Hard Apple Cider to the bottom of the pan. Strongbow is one I’ve used in the past with pork roasts.

Cover with foil and bake in a 325 degree oven for at least two hours.

Check on it. I usually do three hours as my husband was on a business call and not ready for dinner.

Make a glaze. I used about 1T each of peach jam, soy sauce, sriracha and a little less honey,  adding a touch of the Crispin to thin it out, the rest to marinate something today. Pour it on and use a brush to get it to every corner.

Keep off the foil to use just in case you have leftovers! Again, my husband was unavailable and I would have liked him to grill it for a few minutes so I could finish up everything else but just took off the foil and left it in the oven for another 30 minutes.

The meat was falling off the bone. It was delicious. I served it with steamed broccoli with soy and red pepper flakes, and a baked potato we split.

Thank you, butchers, for that deal. Now they want my recipe. Cheers! Dee

Thank You

Please is the most important, hello, good morning, good evening, good night, where is the nearest hotel, restaurant. Can I find a restroom as I’ve been on a bus all day. Today I’ll concentrate on thank you and please, as that’s even more important:

Gracias  or di nada- Mexico, please is por favor

Obrigado (men) or Obrigada (women) -Portugal…. por favor

Merci – France, please is s’il vous plait

Danke -Germany, please is bitte

Spasiba – Russia, I don’t think that there a please.Believe me, I’ve looked.

Separakallo for please, I never knew that until now, Epharisto for I don’t know any more and Parakalo for decades for thanks to the Greek people

Prego – Italian, Grazie or grazi mille which means a thousand thanks for a really great meal or service, I don’t know the rules.

The most important item before you get to this is learn please, thank you and your family are welcome to visit our country in English, Spanish, German or whatever language the hosts speak. They do not feel at home in our country sometimes, but we always must be made welcome in theirs. Yes, visitors may actually come here, even with TSA, to see New York or a university.

When visiting anywhere in your town or all over the world please learn the words PLEASE , excuse me, directions and follow up any kindness with a Thank You. We’ll all get a better reputation if Americans don’t rush in saying that everyone must speak our (not Brit) English.

This is the beginning, as we Americans must say please and thank you, at the very least, to our world neighbors when they visit our country, if one would prefer to skip learning a few words of the local language while asking for the route to the nearest restaurant or even more importantly, restroom facilities, you might want to reconsider those few words or just not travel and demand it of them.

Sorry, but as far as I am concerned the lady with the pink umbrella, parasol or brolly leading you off the bus visiting another country is one who will never actually be useful as she will never allow you to see the country you’re paying through the nose to see or let you even have lunch on your own. There will always be that umbrella, herding you. And it’s always attached to the person who peaked in high school, has a high voice and probably was a wanna-be cheerleader. Sorry, I don’t want to go on a trip with her. I leave my dog at home when we’re away with a sitter, I don’t need be herded for a week or two.

Reach out. Of course contact the State Department to find out what nations not to visit at any day. Then fly on your own and you’ll be free to find destinations other than London, Paris and Rome. As the venerable character Mame would say, “Live.” Do it yourself and have a great time. I have on my own with family and husband and work and it can be wonderful.

Go to an art gallery first and look at how many visions these local/worldwide artists had for their environs and for the world. Then go to your local restaurant (with patrons seated and the restaurant not empty) and ask for their local specialties. Look at my reviews on TripAdvisor! Share plates with your spouse. Back to the ship down the Danube or your car or train or tour bus and go.

Make sure to have dessert! And at least another three days because there are more museums to see, Dee

ps What, the ship sailed? Not ours. There are still art museums to see and mechanical and strange medical museums for my husband to attend. All we can do is see how it goes. We don’t mind splitting up for a few hours a day and meeting for dinner. Dee

Country and Blues

Rest in peace, BB King. I listened to classical music as a kid, my dad is a violinist. Then came Tony Bennett. Elvis was before my time as well as others but I was on my way to music. Frank Sinatra, sorry, Come Fly With Me worked in many ways, telling me I wanted to be educated and be able to go wherever I wished to go.

Blues artists always know that one cannot get every thing or everyone one wants. Without failures, what is success?

I never moved to the south until I was over 40. All that was on the radio en route were country songs about my wife leaving me, my dog ran away and my truck died. And gospel lectures.

As someone who spent a lifetime above the Mason-Dixon Line, except for tw0 years where I had to take a course as a rifler because every Southern lady must know how to shoot, no to a shooting exercise. Sorry, young friend. I told my 12 year-old nephew last year I couldn’t shoot a hole in their hay barn if it was 20 feet away with a bb gun. I got an F when I was 13 but had another shot at it (pun intended) and brought it up to D so I never even failed a gun course or any course in my life.

Nephew, you’re on this year! If I fail, we’ll fix the bet before we begin with Grandpa Joe as the judge of timing and ideas. The family will then judge our efforts.

If I win, you’ll make a fresh sweet bread with cranberries or blueberries with me for breakfast day after Thanksgiving. Or whatever Grandma Margie says about timetables. If I miss a hay barn, of course he’s never going to let me shoot at that precious barn but if he tries to make me to lose by choosing a jar on a fence post I just won’t do it. It’s against the environment and might cut a kid’s foot. OK, I’d never hit it anyway so would forfeit.

I think we may settle this by just offering me a shooting session (you’ll be 13 and know more about rifles than I ever will) and in exchange we will make up a bread the night before for family. It’ll be 13 that week and a great young man but my point is that at some time in college he’ll have to feed himself and if he wants to impress a girl, Dee is just one old lady to ask how to do so. Flowers AND dinner? For The Right Girl that will be wonderful. Just wait 14 years after college graduation to marry. Promise?

***

We did not respect country music up north as teens, only cared about Rock ‘n Roll and then I liked a lot of new people, so learned to love folk and favorite artists like Dylan, Mason, Baez, Stones, Taylor, Zeppelin and many others. BC, Before Cash.

Years later I picked up a guitar (a good one) after my stint on a $99 nylon guitar that I actually used to start a band and sing on stage once, age 12. It was stolen a few years later. Thank you!!! Not a great idea as my 12 year-old pals were all tone deaf and I’d only been learning for a few weeks. Ouch. Let’s just say we didn’t win #1. We were #2. I won’t tell you the songs but still remember them many years later.

At 50, I took private lessons for a few months then we moved. I learned on Johnny Cash, PPM, CSNY and read lyrics and made up chords to what I could play. My tutor’s favorite was American Pie with only a few lyrics to see I could do it. Then I did a teeny riff at the end and my teacher actually awakened and looked surprised, as I’d never been assigned this song and learned it on my own.

Everything that the 50’s rocksters were, were distilled again and again until now. I know that BB King enjoyed working with artists from other styles as I first heard him from Farm Aid. I am sorry I never got to your music deeply. They didn’t play you on the radio, didn’t have your discs and I wasn’t cool enough to get to know the right people to find your music.

My tribute to BB King, much greater than two years ago at Thanksgiving, his restaurant in Memphis our first time there with great food, you allowed us to have our dog leashed to the patio, thanks so much for that! We went to see the Lorraine Motel but it was being restored at the time, on a trip south.

BB King made me wish. I have perfect pitch and never took up the guitar again until I turned fifty. I never took up the violin or piano again except a cheap keyboard to help me with guitar chords when I only have lyrics and fret with the frets and my stubby fingers.

At fifty my goal was to take up guitar to take “home” at holidays to sing with the kids and grandkids. With a household that swells to sixty and many talented young musicians on multiple instruments on holidays it pays me to keep my guitar hydrated at home as I’ve only the simple chords and no children to play music. BB King, so far I have failed you, I could never, ever be as good as you were but you inspired me to even make up from lyrics the chords to John Denver songs that are important to my husband, a country boy.

With much appreciation for your life and love it is that you took the time and energy to explore, with your musical expertise, multiple genres. Thank you for teaching me what I would wish my talent to encompass. You did it all, and for that the world, and I, thank you for your body of work. Many acuities went into your work, mental, physical, spiritual and sir, you will be missed. With love to family and friends, Dee

Decadence

I made my husband promise not to tell his mother about this leftover breakfast because she will not think I am frugal when I am actually using stuff that’s in the frig so it’s basically “free.”

There’s this sausage I tasted the other day at the grocery and there was one left. Husband left to get Dr. Pepper from the other store and picked up some cheese.

I must say I used the wrong pan and it stuck so half came out OK and the other looks more like a hash than an omelet. I used a cast iron skillet. If I were on Top Chef I’d have said I made an omelet “two ways.”

Let’s let the cat out of the bag, M, as I used your cast iron pan and now this blog will be readable by all.

Two eggs, large. 1 T heavy cream. Salt and pepper and mix. Add 2T Bellavitano Merlot cheese and 1/2 truffle sausage. Make your omelet. He’s a happy camper about now because I also gave him a Fuji apple with knife and small cutting board, a cluster of muscat grapes and a fresh glass of ice water.

I know, it’s bad, M. But it was already in the frig and I don’t want to give it to Zoe The Dog! I had 1/4 cup of dust from a box of wheat waffles cereal. We saved money on that.

Note to readers. When I met my husband 14 years ago he only ate individually wrapped string cheese. How did I know? He left the wrappers from the frig to his desk in his man cave.

Now he opines on whether to get a 4-or 5-year old local cheddar or Bellavitano’s merlot cheese. Say it now or forever hold your peace. I have created a food monster. Yes, I acknowledge that fact. Luckily he does as well.

He doesn’t do anything in the kitchen except get ice and water or Dr. Pepper (this is truth and not a monetized site). He opines on every new dish saying I’ll make it better and third time’s a charm. Your four cheese mac and cheese with sun dried tomatoes from the Italian store down the way needed more oomph. Chicken on the bone is too much bother, I want BEEF!

It’s late and there is much to do today. He’s home so I unloaded the dishwasher early and started laundry that is drying now. No loud noises as he’ll be on the phone all day. Life goes on. Cheers! Cook something great today….. Dee