Language, Thought, Wisdom

I was always told I’d be a teacher.  No, I’ve never been a school teacher but have many educators that have taught me language, thought and wisdom. Yes, I am a teacher in other ways.

When I was a little kid I had to look at a dictionary when I used the “loo” and say and spell a word, say it was a noun and use it in a sentence.

My dear neighbor G, a genius, taught me psychoses and other words. My favorite has always been fear of the number thirteen. Look it up.

Between my family and neighbors I was blessed with an education my school could never provide. The good Fathers blessed me with rounding out that education with art and history.

I read The Diary of Anne Frank and Death Be Not Proud when I was seven and taught my little sister how to read. Reading is not all of it, when put together by mentors, mine are mostly gone now, you learn how to think.

Thinking, learning, pasting things together in one’s mind may lead to a body of knowledge. That may lead to wisdom and perhaps, vision. My father is a visionary. He is an optimist, as is his eldest daughter. Dee


I know I’m a good cook but no-one has called my ten-minute lasagna (recipe on this site) sublime, before now.

Dear neighbors of five years moved last week, several blocks away. I made them a dinner they could pop in the oven and be sustained when they were exhausted from unpacking boxes.

So, I got a call telling me my dish was “sublime” and that they’d had it twice. Well, it did weigh a couple of pounds. We walked to see their new home and gave them the dish.

They offered us a teachers’ desk from a nunnery. It is gorgeous, old, oak and my husband fought it. I’ve figured out how to get it.

My husband has come around, saying if I want this desk so badly, I should have it. The saddest thing is that I asked only to borrow the desk until the older couple has room for it. E said “you never go back.”

That is for my home(s) as well. I could try to tell you how many times I’ve moved in my entire lifetime but it wouldn’t be worth the effort. What we have, we move. I’ll replace a plastic foldable “suitcase” desk with my 1910 English oak gate leg table for my husband’s desk. That space with a view will have the nunnery desk and “altar to food.”

I don’t know that I’ll have much time or access to cook for my father, who just turned 85 and has cancer. We haven’t seen each other in a while but are solidifying plans to travel there in a couple of weeks. I’ve a few things of his here that are close to my heart.

Over 20 years ago Dad bought a pencil drawing of dancers that won a student award at a college for American art. He is now a founder of a dance company and has led one before he retired.

Three of his paintings (he took up painting at age 80) are beautifully framed and on our walls. I think of him every day. No, I see him in his art every day. When I take down the dog’s leash five times a day I see dance, Tuscany, and images of Aboriginal art.

As to the nunnery table, my father is Lutheran but was hired as president of a Catholic college with much vitriol. Then he went to a Protestant place as president and received hate mail about my mother, who was Catholic. So now we’ll have a nunnery desk. What goes around, comes around.

Around age seven my little sister and I left school every week to go to CCD, Catholic doctrine taught by nuns, you know, joyful and sorrowful mysteries to memorize. One day the Sister passed out envelopes from St. Joseph’s, 52 weeks, with our names on them so they knew we went to Mass there every week and could count our donations.

My sister declined, several times. Sister finally asked why. My little sister said “we go to St. Matthews.” Have you ever seen a nun looking like a deer in the headlights? A seven year-old girl sent her there.

I do think we know where the nun’s teaching table will be placed. Now, I must alter this altar to food to include a trip to the hardware store for a proper ruler, just in case there are errant students who need discipline. This is a long one, but worthwhile, Dee



No, not toys. It’s something of consequence I’ve been making for a while and I just got a slant on it that would make a great difference, especially for home cooks.

I love having a cook-fest with M, my husband’s mother. We began with half a day and have stretched to nearly four. It has become a kitchen dance and we missed last year. The we includes the dog, and I plan to drive her all the way there just to lick up the crumbs. She’s been missed.

People who come from long distances are not supposed to bring anything to Thanksgiving, but they do anyways. M and I cook for days, I’ve a corn “quiche” that would knock your socks off but will do a riff on it this year. You’ll know about the corn debacle first-hand after it is tasted tomorrow.

I’ve become the Thanksgiving veggie gal so I bring brussels sprouts and cauliflower to the dinner, also mincemeat tarts. I love coming up with my best ideas in the middle of the night. Here’s to Fresno and jalapeno peppers. Dee

ps I always bring boursin cheese and almonds and cashews as well, all homemade. It’s a long drive, I’m not really slacking.



Home is just something you do, we always moved so I made it. Of course you have your birth family but soon you meet another, such as a potential spouse. In my case parental supervision was entailed. After being asked by two others, I took the hand of my husband on our first date and he never let me go. We’ll be married 14 years very soon.

He is home. My father and brother are home, when I see them. My in-laws are home whenever we want, emotionally and physically. After 15 years of us together they even want our dog to come visit!

We always try to have a view or something, even soft mats to keep me in the kitchen, cooking. That makes a home. So do people who care for us, especially when we can return the good deed.

Years ago when I met my husband’s brother, he wasn’t interested in getting to know me. It took a while but now he calls me “sis.” That’s family. That is home.

When I was being interviewed as a potential wife by Nanny, I was asked to promise that my potential husband would take a job for 40 years and get a gold watch at the end. I said, no, he’s in software. There are no gold watches or long-term deals. I cannot promise you this. She made me an honorary grand-daughter anyway. That is home.

I told Nanny that I could take care of him. She said he was too skinny, and last week she told me he’s put on too much weight! In the middle she always told me, as she agreed to be my Nanny too as I never knew my own, that she knew her grandson was doing well because he was fed well by his wife. That would be me. That’s family, and a home I look to seeing very soon as Nanny hosts Thanksgiving for at least 50 guests.

When I drive long distances with the dog she sleeps, unless there’s an off-ramp or stop sign. At Thanksgiving, when I drive her over fifteen hundred miles, when we turn on to the five mile road to the family ranch, she knows it’s home. Her head pops up and she knows where she goes every year, nearly all of her many years. She stands on J’s sofa and watches for him to come back from feeding cattle. He ignores her, so she loves him even more.

M loves to have Zoe around because we have a three-day cooking extravaganza, and Zoe eats crumbs off the floor. Our parents and dog are home.

Someone is leaving here, a guy who has helped us over the years. He will be missed. One day he ate a piece of corn custard I made for someone else. There was he!! to pay. Since then I made it for him. He is leaving us and I’m making him a final farewell dish. Why? When I told my husband he was leaving he said, “well, you’ll have to cook him something.”

That’s home. Dee



Old and New

It is my goal to keep in touch with old neighbors as much as possible. Yesterday my husband and I walked and delivered lasagna to our “old” neighbors. They offered us a gorgeous desk from a nunnery.

My husband doesn’t want the desk because we have a flimsy table in our bedroom he never uses for his laptop and thinks he’ll have to do all the work. The table can be folded up and placed back in storage and take no space at all.

What I’d like to do is all the work myself/hired out and surprise my husband with a new, clean, lemon-oiled desk as a loaner, until our neighbors move to a place with room for it. It is a special piece.

Speaking of special things, one knock on our front door last night and we got to meet our newest neighbor, G. We were the first non-family folks who got to meet him as they returned late last night from the hospital. Sleepy, good weight, healthy. We’re happy for all. No, he’s not a dog. He’s a baby! Sheesh!

As to old and new I like to keep both in my thoughts and deeds. Old neighbors (in the neighborhood longer than us) tried to give us gifts, a plant, artsy paper flowers and a couple of books. I said the best gift I could have was to keep in touch and see them now and then. They also like my chili and don’t cook for themselves.

As for the new one, his mother probably doesn’t want chili, even mild chili, right now. I’ll have to perhaps make another lasagna. What goes around, comes around. Our dog Zoe will enjoy having their blind dog B around here for bits and pieces while they get used to the wee bairn. Oh, and how much stuff they have to carry around. It’s like me taking luggage to the airport but with diapers, clothing, milk, etc. and they have to take it all on a walk around the block! Oy vey, says this agnostic Catholic! Here’s to old and new. Dee


Home Improvement

My husband buys expensive dress shoes. I have folded “dog towels” in the entry-way for shoes.

Years ago I told a property owner that people in northern climates have no closet space. They need room for coats, boots, hats, gloves, scarves and there is nothing.

I just made our own space. It cost less than 10% of one pair of his dress shoes. For years I’ve been using folded “dog towels” and I didn’t want to do that anymore. I’ve no option but for guests to see shoes and boots on a rack but anything looks better than dog towels, which even dog Zoe doesn’t use. She has her own towels, perfectly hotel-rolled in a basket next to her/my shower and bath. They’re nicer than our towels.

In the end I may use one clean towel under the shoe showcase in case of rain, ice, snow or mud. Getting rid of stuff and boxes and paper et al is an inspiration. My husband is appreciative and apprehensive, the dog thinks we’re moving so is at my heels every moment. That’s a herder! Dee


It’s tough for anyone. Both of our next door neighbors came by to say goodbye. One with a six-pound daughter. I’d seen him on move-in day and years later on move-out day. In between he’d run a “hotel” service for paying clients and none of us thought highly of that.

Our other neighbors are due a lasagna to place in their new oven for a free and easy dinner tonight. It is my ten minute lasagna recipe on this site. I helped them pack for two days and tweaked an ankle injury I received 25 years ago walking my first dog on a craggy road. I was looking at flower gardens, not where my feet were going, and sprained my ankle. Anytime I over-do it, it tweaks a bit but is much better now.

I’ll call this morning and arrange to drop off their lasagna with cooking instructions. They called us here, to our current home, without either of us knowing it and were here five years, arrived shortly before we did. We always had fun together, and they always checked in on me when my husband was away on business.

Two neighbors have left but another is expecting a new arrival. I plan to give them a ready-to-go dinner when they return. For them. The baby will get it second-hand so it won’t be Texas chili. Other neighbors wish to get a dog over the holidays. We’re now the anchors, ambassadors and our dog Zoe protects them and their homes.

I need to go and make Beef Carbonnade for dinner. Beef, onions, bacon and beer cooked for hours. Cheers! Dee