Family Dinner

Tonight was an awful night. I lost my claddagh ring and feel naked without it. Love, friendship and loyalty. I’ll check my shirt and sweaters in sunlight because the crown nicks everything so it’ll probably be on the floor or carpet.

Years ago it was a rule, I was in college (on break) and my siblings were as young as seven, to have dinner together every night. I fear that families do not do that these days. It’s just my husband and me, and the dog, and my husband is usually on his cell phone or texting or on his laptop dealing with other people and not us. Even though he is here writing a book I see the old dog and now Snowflake Deux more than him.

In former years we had to do a “how was your day” routine. One day someone introduced “let’s rate Mom’s meals!” She was devastated. Dad hated her orange chicken and beef stew. They were not things he grew up with in a Teutonic household where he spoke German all his childhood and Grandma taught Mom how to cook. Then a certain someone got her a lifelong subscription to Gourmet magazine and she started making things called “health soup.” And a chicken salad with peaches that she served an honored man known for a geodesic dome for his 86th birthday and their 62nd wedding anniversary.

Dad said afterward that he didn’t like fruit with his meat. Whoops!

Mom’s gone nearly nine years and Dad died over the holiday season last year. I barely knew grandma except she used to sing me Bye, Bye, Blackbird as a lullaby before she passed when I was one year old. Dad was a musician and much more, I’ll have to teach myself that song . I just need the lyrics. Maybe not. I just learned it was a Nazi song.

Don’t worry, even though Mom’s mother died earlier than Dad’s and I do not remember her at all, I’ve another grandmother, my husband’s dear Nanny. Yes, she interviewed me before I married her eldest grandson and she made me an honorary “grand.” It is a pleasure to be the sixth and to watch her “great grands” grow up and marry.

We share food with about 60 people every Thanksgiving at Nanny’s and my m-i-l and everyone cooks and we have good and much food. And now the “greats” provide music as well from time to time, that is when football is not on the television.

I’ve made Orange Chicken twice in two weeks. My husband is a Texas beef and potato guy so it’s taken me years to get him to eat chicken. Mom used to use orange juice concentrate. Here’s my version.

Orange Chicken a Deux (for two)

Two chicken breast cutlets, pounded thin and seasoned

Flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, and zest of an orange from which you will use its’ juice for sauce

Olive oil to  sautee the chicken

When chicken is just cooked remove it to a plate. Add the juice of 1-3 seeded oranges to the pan and reduce. Add a pat of butter, taste for seasoning and place the chicken back in to warm.

I serve it over warm Israeli couscous cooked in chicken broth, and a veg. Last night he made a jicama salad with fresh orange juice and I ate a few heirloom cherry tomatoes. He’s brilliant but not that great in the kitchen in any manner, especially the knife department, I call it “log salad.”

That’s the way it goes in Dee-Land. Nearly 16 years and I got him to eat chicken, Israeli couscous, and jicama? He’s even a cheese snob now, asking whether for day-to-day use on a cracker or toast is three-year or five-year better? Once a year I go back to my childhood taste memories and buy individually wrapped American processed cheese slices. Mom would never allow us individually wrapped. I make grilled cheese on hearty whole wheat bread. I also have ginger ale on hand, for tummy issues and because it was the only soda we were allowed to have as kids.

Never, ever rate your parents’ meals. It is a recipe for disaster. To Orange Chicken and my beef stew (later). Bye, bye blackbird, Dee

 

 

Interior Design

I’m no expert, but I know what I like and have created a home base for us that includes muted furnishing tones, area rugs, and lots of vibrant art.

Our home has sconces in nearly every room. I cannot move them, my husband is very tall and they are below the top of his head. How do I design? I barricade mostly without a literal barricade (like the decorative shoe rack by the coat closet).  Figurative barricades. Thick frames around photos I took on a trip with his parents and chose to frame in the hallway to the master bedroom. I know my husband doesn’t want to destroy my art so will not crack his head open on sconces.

I love designing the framing of art and I’ve a wonderful partner in crime, K. She leads me in choices to make up my mind and I choose. One day she was off work and it was a very important sketch my father got me over 30 years ago, the week before he died last year. It was in a basic “uni-frame” but I had it done in wood, a dark red mat, a fillip to bring out the undulation of the dancers and a large frame that does the same.

Calling K the next day I wanted to ask her to look at it as the owner made me decide everything myself. K answered and I was expecting bad news about my decisions. She said, “what great choices! I look forward to working on this one!” She got it done in 1/3 the time. I love giving her challenges, like family collages she has to cut down and arrange per my specs. Let’s say if I wanted to do an “accent wall” to show Greece, Italy and my father and brother’s works in dance, I’d call her for color ideas and invite her for lunch and of course, pay her for her time.

The most important things are that my husband is not hitting his head on low-hanging sconces and we have nicely framed art on the walls.

Next up are his life and family collage, and an echo of the seasonal quilt created and sewed by his mother but not in bright colors, it is of Tuscany or perhaps Puglia and would be hung in another room as an homage to the dear quilt-maker. She has many ideas as to internal and external home design. I’ve learned so much from her over the years.

Her eldest son has some preferences, not many. He is usually away, working. I do what is appropriate at the time to keep the place up so we can spend weekends together with our dear old Zoe, the dog. He’s gotten used to living in hotels.

There are tons of books and papers. I think I need a better shredder. Not for the books as we’ve bookshelves and ones read (not technical in software or cooking) may be good for the box up the street which is for book trading for free. That’s what we did in Europe during backpack days, give a book and get a book. Cheers! Dee

He Tried to Kill Me, Twice

Something happened. After nearly 16 years together my husband made an error, twice. I’ve always joked that a terrorist could get in and detonate a bomb in our bedroom and he would never awaken to hear the terrorist enter our home or bedroom.

This time, it was nearing seven in the morning and I do not know how he was positioned. He decided to throw his down pillow atop my face and lay his head on it. I immediately reacted “NO! Get off!” He did, then two minutes later he did it again.

He has no knowledge of any of these things so I hopped up, threw a denim jacket over my pj’s, slipped on a pair of Crocs and took the dog out then fed her. I’m not going back and usually I lift her up on the bed to co-snore with him on weekends after she eats. Not today. If his mind is in a certain gear or positioning is uncertain, I don’t trust him with our old dog, either, because she will not push him off or yell.

He had no clue where he placed his pillow or that he tried to suffocate me. He will be horrified to hear my story. All he wanted in his deep sleep was to find the most comfortable place for his head to be. Sadly, it was blocking my nose and mouth. Big brain, smart big head. Heavy.

We love him dearly and know he was just very sleepy and trying to get comfortable. I guess that’s what happens when one stays in hotels all week alone for a year. Happy weekend! Is there room service here? Yes, it’s called… Dee

Home

Ask Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. She knew where Glinda The Good Witch of the North and the Wizard would take her, back to Aunty Em and Uncle Henry and the scarecrow, tin man and cowardly lion farm hands. Along with the shady Wizard who flew the balloon back to Kansas.

A man from my husband’s years of growing up died the other day and will be put to rest this morning. We cannot be there but sent a note through my mother-in-law. As for a pallbearer, my father-in-law, he could not have a better friend other than his dear wife, their sons and grandchildren.

I know my home is here with my husband and dog. Both my parents are gone now and there is no land to call home. Dad used to love land, views et al. The “house on the hill” was our masterpiece. It was completely unfinished. At age eight I used a manual miter box and saw to frame the windows. I also had to learn to use both hands standing atop a ladder to place ceiling pieces in the basement. That was really hard for a little kid. A staple gun, really?

The doc who bought the house, still has it. He must be retired by now. I’ve tried to get in touch with him over the years just to say hello, find out how things are going and see that he gets in touch with me before he sells the property. Dad chose well. It does have a great view!

I will have to design my own home if I’m still alive when my husband retires. I’ve ideas. Trying to figure out post and beam. It will be my last home. Dee

Government By Twitter?

“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend Twitter, though not its licensing agreement, help my daughter sell clothing at Macy’s, fire at will any member of my Cabinet who tries to advise me, and perhaps someday actually read the Constitution of the United States and realize why I am sitting behind this desk in an oval office with bulletproof glass and horrific American art.” So help me, Russia.

OK, time to redecorate, everything in 24K gold. Even the Resolute desk. Sell that and re-make it in gold. Who elected me to be here, anyway? I just wanted to say I was President, not do it. What were those morons thinking??? Rubes, the American “people.” Let’s take away their jobs and ability to get health care so a lot of the idiots die. And hire all my kids to Cabinet posts. Put Melania in the kitchen. Wives are just millions per dozen. And what’s happening with my hair?

A Bagel and Irish Lasses

I learned a good bagel in my 20’s as it wasn’t available in the small village in which I was raised. Yet I learned the most from a NY Congressman who was anti-carb but loved bagels so carved a tunnel and filled it with cream cheese. I wonder what his suit size is now…..

Then I worked for the head boss as an analyst and my committee chair (RIP) had an assistant who aimed to please, another Irish lass. Most of our Committee were from NYC, and Jewish.

I had already learned that when I got to work for a 9:00 Committee meeting at six, I didn’t drink coffee and they didn’t know I was up for hours preparing everything for them so I had Diet Coke. I went out and bought a mug, kept it in the Chairman’s office and it looked like coffee. Most stopped razzing me.

Mary wanted to something really nice so went out and bought them “bagels” one morning, and a bagel slicer. Bad choice. Their wives bought or made the bagels and sliced them by hand. They laughed at the slicer.

I asked Mary not to serve the “bagels.” She did, anyway. I said “Mary, these aren’t bagels, they’re rolls with a hole in the middle. This won’t make it in the NYC Jewish community.” She served them anyway as I drank my Diet Coke from a coffee cup.

They were impressed with her enthusiasm and care for them, because no-one ever paid for this extra effort and none of us were paid well. It is just cultural differences I’ve tried to learn for decades and Mary only knew American-Irish. She was a sweet girl.

Before sexual harassment training elected officials would proposition me in the elevators. Not when my friend Tony was around, who operated a manual elevator up to my office and always called me “bella ragazza,” beautiful girl. He was probably Italian special forces and would kill anyone who was rude to me on his elevator. They replaced the mechanical elevators and Tony moved to Security. Hint?

One day I got them back. I was the only single person on my team so Boss would send everyone home. Dee can stay ’til 4:00 a.m., she’s single and has nothing to do and will call you if your bill comes up. Those were not computer days, it was a squawk box and when raises came up they’d say, well E and T each have three kids and a home. You have nothing. We’ll give you an extra hundred a year. Yeah, like that would pay the rent.

The other party had been driving us nuts. It was one of those long, lonely weeks at my desk listening to the awful box. Negotiations on niggly matters (my bailiwick) commenced at the end when everyone agreed, to disagree. I had a land sale by a “marginal,” meaning someone who got in, elected by the shave of his tail and no-one from the other party wanted him to win, anything.

It was a simple land sale of a small property on a river that was agreed to by both parties and the Governor’s Office and OGM, Office of Government Management. When I got a land sale I called OGM’s lawyer (speed dial) and asked if the specs were correct and if the State wanted to sell it. If he said OK I put it on my list.

The other party mounted an obstruction to this bill even though it was on the Speakers end-of-session to-do list agreed to by everyone. They asked my Chairman how large was the State-owned property the State wished to sell. It was four pages of gobbledygook from surveyors. My Chairman did not know what to do. I touched his hand and said “I know what to do. Let me.”

I took the Chairman’s bill, looked at it for a moment, and asked how large is the property? Was that your question? Four pages. They all laughed, voted against and we had more people so we won that day and at least had a shorter meeting. Heaven bless Diet Coke and a coffee mug for getting me through that. And Mary, she was a sweetheart. Dee

Pajamas

We grow up with things from “onesies” to Baby Janes to nightgowns. Now I choose my own. Nightgowns just twisted me up, especially everything knee-length or further. It didn’t matter even if it was pure silk.

Then I started pajamas. No way.

Now I wear silk long johns with an extra large tee shirt, either from FIDO (Fiesta Island Dog Owners, trying to save their legal dog leash free area from commercial development), or a really cool local guitar store. It is very comfortable and I rarely need the comforter.

Years ago when I asked my chiropractor how I should use this pillow to sleep on my stomach, he said, ahem, you cannot sleep on your stomach any more and have your neck straight. I learned to adjust the pillow moving side to side and on my back for a short period of time on a flat bed. In my sleep.

Moving side to side tends to twist up anything loose. Now, in the summer it’s usually shorts and a short top or basic stretch camisole, or the long tee and silk long johns.

If it’s the latter I can just throw on a coat before the sun comes up and take the dog out early morning, feed her and lift her back up on the bed.

There are two things, besides her “pack” made up of my husband and me: eating; and sleeping. I don’t know that Zoe would gain any world records on sleeping or eating but may get one on intensity of the endeavor. She is now sleeping at my feet, under my desk. I’m up at 3 a.m. and she sleeps ’til six. She gets extra points for crawling under the bed to keep from morning light (the shades are down) and get her beauty sleep.

Zoe just wears her fur coat to bed. When one is long-married there is a compromise between being hot under a down comforter or cold atop it. WinterSilks online for silk long underwear, any festival you attend with booths with zesty oversized or crop top t-shirts and you’re ready to sleep. Here’s to FIDO, Dee