Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Partial Playlist - bob marley - jammin

Partial Playlist - Holiday House Party with Dan Zanes and Friends

Partial Playlist - Banana Phone - By Raffi

Partial Playlist - Harry Nilsson - Coconut (1971)

Partial Playlist

Thanks for the positive feedback on my little project. If you might be thinking of doing something similar, I would just like to suggest the little Shuffle as the way to go if you have something to plug it into. It holds 250 songs and is just $49. It's too small, however, to plug into a regular I-Pod docking station or speaker system. It's meant to be used with headphones. By the time you add all the things you need to get it to work with a speaker system, you might as well buy the Nano, which fits most everything that will fit an I-Pod. If you have a working stereo, however, the little Shuffle will work with some additional wiring, or so they said. I wanted to keep the system simple, as I have found busy parents don't always have time, or remember to charge things, or turn them on for that matter, if they're a hassle. It's just the way it is when you have a million things to do in a day. So while this Easter gift is a bit expensive, I believe the benefit will outweigh the cost. Now for the partial playlist:

Nursery rhymes - There were several that I used but Baby Genius seemed to have the clarity of sound that I wanted for a toddler. The music was pretty and simple, the pace slow, for a toddler to learn the words. My First Album had beautiful rhymes with full orchestra behind the singing. Lovely to listen to, especially when children's rhymes are so repetitive. I added all the rhymes I could find that were preschool age.

Classical - I love Mozart, so I added some from Mental Mozart. Smart Baby had some selections using the London Orchestra. I added a number by Chopin, Vivaldi and Beethoven that I found on Baby Genius. (Could the names of these cd's be any more pretentious?)

Sing-a-long - This was the majority of my playlist. Raffi is wonderful and I had several selections by him. Dan Zanes is also very good. This music is fun and the songs are learnable, but not the sing-song of nursery rhymes. I added two that were suggested by one of you by Renee & Jeremy. Thanks for the tip!

Jazz - I love jazz, so while these selections are geared toward children, I will add my own music as he gets older. Baby Loves Jazz had several selections that I liked. George Benson actually had some children's music, and I selected one by him.

Rock - Railroad Earth is his favorite. It must be because his aunt (my youngest) always dances with him to this band, and ends up putting him to sleep. All I know is, if he is fussy, all you have to do is put on Railroad Earth! Love Of My Life, by Carly Simon was a must. But I also threw in an old Dell Viking number. What's a playlist without a little rock-n-roll? Also, the Coconut song by Harry Nilsson, for a little cool vibe...

African - He received a drum for his birthday from his parents. They are not very hep on plastic toys. So we needed some African drum music. African Savannah Morning by Baby Genius was terrific. 

Reggae - He lives in Portland, Oregon - need I say more? Jammin by Bob Marley!

The rest of the playlist includes songs by Peter, Paul, & Mary, that my husband sang to our daughters at bedtime, Disney Classics from all the favorite movies, and anything else that struck my fancy. Over the Rainbow by Judy Garland is a must for bedtime, don't you think? It was fun to do this, and I would highly recommend it for grandchildren. You can never underestimate the power of passive learning.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Nano

I have had time to do some things over the last couple of days. My husband is with family taking care of details, and his mother, after the death of his father. Since he needed to be on a plane that day, I stayed home with Lucy. His father did not want a funeral, and asked that his ashes be spread over Crown Mountain in Montana, where they had a cabin for many years. My husband will make this journey and hike, when the weather mellows.

In the meantime, I have been wanting to put together music for my grandson. Like all grandmothers, I believe him to be very bright and talented. He loves music! From day one, he could be soothed with music or just singing to him. He now sings to himself, with his current favorite being row, row, row your boat. He walks around singing "row, row", or "hap birrr day". Music can influence us in so many ways. My daughter and son-in-law do not currently have a working stereo, so the only music he hears is from the television. From a developmental point of view, this has been bothering me. We know that certain connections for music are made before age ten, with an explosion of connections in the brain by age two. 

So after looking at different ways of producing the types of music for him that I think is important, I decided a little Apple Nano will fill the bill. My daughter has an I-Pod stand with speakers. So yesterday I filled an entire day choosing just the right combination of music that I think he will enjoy, and learn from. I tried to include music from as many genres as possible. We have jazz, classical, rock, soul, African, American Indian flute, reggae, pop, and show tunes, all for children. Who knew the choices for each song would be so vast! And since I wanted each one to produce a certain "sound", i.e., the nursery rhyme songs to be clear and easy, and the lullabies to be varied between classical music and songs sung very softly, it required me to listen to all the different variations and musicians. It took all day to find 100 songs! But I am now satisfied that he will have his "own" music, carefully selected, to keep him company as he plays, or is going to sleep. Included is a selection by Taj Mahal aptly titled "Ask Grandma".

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Stew Update

I have been  remiss in my stew making. We were in Portland for about 11 days and then right after returning home, my father-in-law passed. I wanted to do Ina Garten's "Parker's Stew" in her barefoot contessta "Back to Basics" cookbook before doing a finale.

She marinates the meat overnight in red wine, garlic, and bay leaves. My marinade ended up going for two days, so it might taste a bit different. One of my friends came up to spend the night, so she had Ina's stew and really liked it. I thought it could use some more veggies, so the end stew recipe will probably have more than potatoes and carrots. But it was really good. She bakes her stew, instead of stove-top. She also throws in a fresh rosemary branch, which adds lots of flavor. The meat was very tender and the flavor was wonderful. I think the bacon added a nice touch, but she browned her meat and the onions in the bacon grease, which tastes great but adds saturated fat to the dish. 

I wish I had a picture, but my husband borrowed my pocket camera to take with him to take Flat Stanley pictures. More about Flat Stanley later.

So now it's time to use your ideas for the perfect stew, and you had some wonderful ones, use my own, and incorporate a few of Ina's. Final stew recipe coming soon!

Thursday, March 26, 2009


My father-in-law passed away last night. He was 94 years old and went to bed with his 96 year old wife and didn't wake up. I can't think of a better way to go, can you?

He was a tough old bird. Right to the end. He got dressed every day of his life - no lying in bed for him. Just last week he told his wife he would get something down for her that required getting up on a chair! My husband assured him that he would be happy to do that for him.

He was a doctor. He was a founding physician of nuclear medicine. We have a magazine with his face on the cover. We can thank him for some of our cancer treatments. When we packed him up a few years ago, for their last down-sizing, his daughter and I had to find a place for three doctor bags. You remember those, don't you? Maybe not, it's been many years since doctors made house calls. He was the kind of doctor that stayed in the hospital all night if one of his patients was dying. A rare breed. A man from very humble beginnings. He remembers only one chair in his Kentucky home as a child. They all shared that chair. Feelings of hunger, I'm sure. Can you imagine what it took to not only go to college, but medical school?

We are not sad for him. He had a life well-lived. He was an honorable man, and he never had to leave his wife, something he disliked, even for short periods.

He had a near-death-experience, I think, a year or so ago. One of the few hospitalizations he had to have, a blood transfusion, and he and his wife both woke and had the "feeling" of the other beside them in the bed. They both knew they were awake and not dreaming. But the same feeling, at the same time. He in his hospital bed, she in their bed at home. He was different after that. More loving and warm, considering the fact he was born in an era where you did not show such feelings. He told family he loved them. Something he had not done before. He wanted to hold our grandson, he smiled more.

So here's to a life well-lived, and a much deserved rest. God speed, Kearney!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Risky Testosterone - Boiler Room Trailer

Risky Testosterone

In my last blog, Hapless Hobnobbing, I looked at social climbers. Now I want to look at the role of testosterone in the banking debacle. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a layer of our society that believe they are better, smarter, and therefore entitled, to the senior positions in our government, corporations, and banking industry by virtue of their birth and education. These people usually come into the world with certain advantages that put them in positions of power. It is the people they know, the schools they attend, the money they are born with. Of course, not all privileged people believe they are better than everyone else, nor are all the people in power born with a silver spoon. But we are talking about a layer that has an advantage by birth, and inherently believe they are more shrewd and better qualified to make decisions for the rest of us. The specific departments in the investment banks that made such a debacle of our economy maintain only a small part of the overall banking system. But we now know, that part had the capacity to end our world as we know it. The gambling that went on with other people's money is unbelievable, except if you really look at the people who did it.

In his book Liars Poker, Michael Lewis discusses the twenty-six year old traders that lied, cajoled, begged and basically did whatever it took to make a sale. The fact that someone might loose their life savings was of no consequence. It was all about competition. And who better to compete than twenty-something males? The movie Boiler Room gave us a fictionalized view of what Lewis describes as being very close to reality. He paints a picture, of largely young men, playing hard and fast with the rules.

Vanity Fair's Wall Street on the Tundra by Michael Lewis is an important look at that country's bizarre descent into greedy madness. Fueled by, guess what?  Men - and a society that is so polarized, men and women actually have different political parties. Lewis describes a small country of 300,000 where it is customary for men to push and shove, literally, on the streets and everywhere else. It is a country that had very few women, if any, involved in their descent into investment-banking hell. Many of the players were fisherman, as that was their chief economy before "banking." Lewis describes a people who believe they are special - highly educated, and unique.

My point?

I recently read where some banks are actually discussing the need for more women, often felt to be more risk-averse, to lead in this country. They are obviously entertaining the idea that our investment banks may have an over abundance of highly educated males. Of course not all the bankers responsible were male nor were they young. However, we know that many of our brightest young people have headed to investment banks, at the exclusion of other careers, for the money. Stories abound of bankers making millions before turning thirty. It's obvious that vetting someone for their ability to see the difference between risk that is dangerous, and risk that is detrimental to a company that needs to grow, would need to be evaluated. But having young men, often privileged and entitled, not old enough, or wise enough, given the kind of power that they have been given, is clearly not the direction we need to be going. The frontal lobe, the source of our higher reasoning, is thought not to be even fully developed until the mid twenties. Until then, hormones like testosterone play a far bigger role in decision making than we would like to imagine. And far beyond, it would seem.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Louis Armstrong - High Society

Hapless Hobnobbing

It seems hobnobbing is becoming a dangerous sport for the top 1% of wealthy Americans. Vanity Fair did an article on the dilemma faced by New Yorkers who no longer know who to trust while climbing the social ladder. Vast fortunes have been lost right along with our more meager retirements. It's apparently hard to know with whom to be friends. Since their friendships are based on what that person can do for them, much energy is expended on ferreting out the most influential. Evidently who holds that rarefied air is not as easily distinguishable as it once was. Apparently some are only acting as though they are still wealthy, without actually wielding the influence and authority so ardently sought. Things are still shaking out, leaving fear in it's wake.

I think that's why I'm so fascinated with the television show "Real Housewives in New York". Have you every watched that show? It is a study in banal, cheesy, desperate, social climbing. I feel almost guilty watching it. Voyeuristic, I know. The sad part, is they believe this clambering for "position" is something most people aspire to, or would if they could. That really amazes me. Seriously. They think we want their lives. Now if I was young, beautiful, single and talented, I can't think of any place I would rather live. My husband and I often talk about how fun New York would be if you were in that stage of life. I would definitely be a downtown girl as opposed to an uptown girl. Downtown being much more fun, at least by my standards. 

But the thought of making friends with any of these people, or their counter-parts would just never be on my agenda. It would be so sad to judge friendships that way. Worse - to be judged by what I could do for someone before they would be my friend. I would be friendless. I had a hard enough time just being nice at company dinners to people I didn't care for or about. I have always hated doing social things, if I felt I couldn't be myself. Needless to say, my husband ascended to the position he did on his own merit, without any help from a politically astute wife.

Monday, March 23, 2009

New House Smell

After a rear-numbing ride home from Portland yesterday, we walked in to that new-house smell. After ten days or so in really old homes in a damp city, this smell was of new wood, new carpet, paint. Nice smells.

Until Lucy - who had helped herself to jerky, hidden under numerous coats, sweaters, books, etc., during our only stop where both of us got out of the car. She was able to climb into the front seat from behind, and not leave a trace of her sleuthing. (If I hadn't found some suspicious-looking scraps of plastic wrap back there, she would have gotten away with the caper.) Being the glutton she is, and time constraints, she ate the jerky - plastic and all. Then proceeded to up-chuck her newly eaten kibble all over the new carpet - many, many times once we got home. My husband spent the night sitting up in a chair in the living room. We are worried she has some plastic that is not moving through and will take her to the vet this morning, if the tiny little breakfast we gave her doesn't stay down. He will also follow her around during her "business" to see what is happening there, as well. (Thank Gob for husbands who will do this - no, really, Thank Gob!)

As for the new house smell? Well, lets just say, I won't wonder when it will go away anymore.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

20/20 Last Night

Did anyone catch 20/20 last night? My husband was begging me to turn it off because it was anxiety producing for him, but for me, and the amateur psychologist in me, it was fascinating. (Mostly because of the ingenuity and creativity of the human being to conquer adversity.) The first segment was about a family where the husband had an MBA, had worked as a broker in a lucrative business, now his house was in foreclosure and he was forced to take a job as a pizza delivery man. It was a very sad situation, no doubt, and I can see how my husband felt anxiety - him being one year into a six month sabbatical from working. Lucky for us, we sold the big money-sucking house in Minneapolis and were able to move to what once was a (small) vacation home (debt free). But for this couple, their savings were sucked up trying to stay in the home that they had raised their children. The man talked about losing his pride along the way, as he took jobs he would never have thought possible. The wife talked about her complete lifestyle change, from country-club dinners to shopping with food stamps.

I am seeing this scenario play out all around me. My brother took a big salary cut last week, his business owner had been the the victim of yet another Ponzi scheme in California. My friend called and said she was just laid off from a job she thought was safe because they were so busy. Other friends are losing homes, businesses going under. 

So what is my point? 

I think we are going through a massive re-ordering of priorities on a global scale. I think what will come out of all this will be better human beings. I think this pain is needed, and our world will never be the same. We are going from a consumer-based, selfish, self-centered human race to one that will be more compassionate, humble, and empathetic. Will there still be greed? Yes. But greed will no longer be as acceptable. 

And I am taking back that cute jacket and shell I found yesterday, that was really too expensive, and not needed. It has changed my world, too. 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Circadian Rythyms

Are you an early morning person or a night owl? Some people hit the ground running in the morning, and some, like me, do better at night. I find my most productive time to be between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. That's when my brain is firing at it's best and my body feels like getting stuff done. My husband is best in the morning. He jumps up and wants to exercise, followed by several hours of work and play. By 7:00 p.m., however, he is starting to think about bedtime. By 8:00 he is in bed and by 9:00 he's asleep. Me, on the other hand, can't even contemplate getting into bed at 8:00 - that would leave four hours in there before I could finally drift off. I must watch John Stewart and Nightline before shutting down for the night. I know you can train yourself to get up and get going in the morning, or to be productive at night, but for the most part we all have a certain circadian rhythm unique to us.

Which brings me to Portland and my babysitting dilemma. My son-in-law's mother gets here bright and early to babysit her four hours. She's here by 9:00 a.m. and gone by 1:00 p.m. when my daughter gets home from her first four hours of work, which is in the office. The second four hours is at home. Usually with a small child hanging on her while she tries to work at the computer. Getting here by 9:00 a.m. is really not difficult, if I plan to have my coffee and breakfast here. But then I started thinking - maybe my daughter could use a little time to get her work done without help from her small child. So I started coming at 10:00 - 10:30 and keeping my grandson throughout the afternoon. Works for me - works for my daughter - but son-in-law was a bit frazzled this morning by the time I got here. In fact, he mentioned that usually his mother is here early so he doesn't have to deal with his son who was being a "Klingon". (Teething issues.) Since he works from home, I can sympathize, but if you are the child's parent, there are going to be some days when you are going to be the only one they want - especially if they can see you. It is part of parenting a small child. You just have to deal with it. In the meantime, maybe I'll try to get here a little earlier tomorrow (my last day), and keep him all afternoon as well. Give them both a break!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hurry Gamie!

I have been remiss in my blog reading over the last week. It is not from a lack of interest, only time. I am busy chasing my fifteen-month old grandson for most of every day. I try to make the most of every moment. He is growing before my very eyes. After experiencing the fleeting childhoods of my own children - I cherish every second with him. He is charming, sweet, smart, happy, loving and sometimes a bit naughty. Like when he head-butted Gamie for saying no to his manipulation of my computer during a downloaded episode of The Backyardigans. One minute he is laughing and dancing, the next we are tussling over the keys on the computer. His other grandmother asked me yesterday how I can stand living so far away from him. The answer is I can't. But we have loads of fun when together. We're off to the Portland Zoo tomorrow - hoping to find some sssssssssnakesssssss.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Please World, Keep An Eye On My Little Girl

She heads out tomorrow with two of her best friends for an adventure away from me. Another country. With backpacks and an itinerary that is whimsical. Out of cell-phone reach. 

I am praying for an eventful and safe trip. I ask the world to watch out for my little girl. She's yours now, even though I remember holding her hand to cross the street like it was yesterday. She couldn't fall asleep without touching me. Every morning started with a long cuddle in my lap, as I read the paper and drank my first cup of coffee. It was how she started her day. 

She still likes some "close time" when I visit. Laying on my bed, sometimes slipping beneath the covers for a short time. Then she is off - to her own room, her own life, her own world. 

Letting go is so hard, sometimes.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

It's Spring Break

(pictures courtesy of http://portlandground.com)
My daughter's house if full. I am in one bedroom, she and her roommate each have one, and the living room is full. It's SPRING BREAK! You remember, when it was time to kill some brain cells that you just might have made over the last term, and hit the road, Jack. The three girls staying here are already on break (from UNR) and my daughter will be leaving, after finals on Tuesday, for Costa Rica. Not a bad life, eh?

I, on the other hand, have heard maybe a wee too much bluegrass, at ear-splitting levels, and sharing one bathroom has been a bit of a trick. But enjoying them, I am. How can you not? They're young, happy, excited about the possibilities of something as wonderful and fleeting as Spring Break.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Keep Portland Weird

(pictures courtesy of: http://www.portlandground.com)

This is the place to live if you are a young person. The nightlife is almost constant with music and art everywhere. I can see why both of my daughters are so happy here. The "vibe" is one of inclusion and tolerance. It's okay to be who you are. One of the blogs I recently read talked about "personas" and how she had changed over time. Somehow the 60's "persona" stuck in Portland. A little hippy, a little weird.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Thanks, Everyone

(This picture is of Hawthorne courtesy of http://www.portlandground.com/archives/2006/08/)

Thanks, everyone, for your words of advice. You had some great ideas. I know I am not the only parent worried about this subject. I wish we didn't have to worry about such things. 

I am hoping whoever walked in last week is long gone...

My daughter has a dog (lab) that was absolutely no help at all. Either she is hard of hearing, having aged some over the last couple of years, or felt it wasn't her responsibility to get rid of the scary man! Her roommate cannot be changed as they have a lease together that is up in June, at which point they will be going their separate ways. My youngest will probably be moving in with her sister and brother-in-law, at least until another roommate can be found. I feel better about that. (Her roommate is a very sweet girl, but as Hillary put it - they are too young to see around that corner...) But in the meantime, she is scheduled for a self-defense class next term. What I am toying with is either a pepper spray or a taser. Neither is lethal. I do worry about it being used against her, but if it was protection when she needed it most, it would be worth the risk. Anyway, still looking at options.

In the meantime, Portland is warming up and we enjoyed a great day today. I am seeing daffodils, and all the trees are budding. By next month the city will be in bloom. I may have to visit again, just to feast my eyes. The shops on Hawthorne were fun and full of artwork. We headed up to "23rd" and continued our little shopping and eating tour. It was great to be with my daughters and grandson. Are we ever completely happy being too far away from our family?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What would you do?

I faced my worst nightmare last week. In fact, now that I am in Portland, and staying in my youngest daughter's home, do I even feel like talking about it. 

My daughter, home sick, had just gone to bed. She had been in bed about twenty minutes when she heard someone enter the house. She called out to her roommate, no answer. She called her roommate's name again. No answer, but she heard footsteps coming down the hall. She entered the hall and there was a man. A tall, gangly man standing in her hall. She screamed out at him something to the effect: "What the hell are you doing in my house?" He turned around and walked out, shutting the door behind him.

Since then, her roommate said she thought she had noticed a man in their backyard a while back, but "thought he was talking to my daughter through her window." (In the middle of the night.) These are college girls. So I am not going to go into what I thought about that statement, or the fact my daughter wasn't quite sure the door was locked before she went to bed. I am beyond amazed. Have I not taught them anything? Have I not emphasized safety, above all else?? Have I not told the story over and over of the peeping tom/stalker I dealt with for months when I was single and living alone? What exactly do I have to do to get them to take living alone seriously in this day and age? (I came home today and opened the unlocked door, walking right in on my daughter's young roommate. She said she thought it was such a pretty day, that it couldn't possibly include an intruder.)

So now what? The locks have been changed, additional door locks added, windows checked, but should I get her something to carry in her purse? Pepper spray, a taser? If anything happened to her, I know I would wish I had done that. So what would you do?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Thank You!

Big thank you to Butternut Squash for the Lemonade Award. If you have a chance, stop by and visit her website. It is inspirational and her stories are wonderful! Please feel free to pass this award on to deserving blogs, if you'd like.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Have you ever met someone, had an immediate connection, and promised to get together at some later date and then didn't follow through? If so, then you and I are much alike. I have had that happen more than once, and because follow-through is not my strong point, I have passed up many times the possibility of making new friends. But last night we had a great evening of talk and dinner with a new couple that we will definitely make time to see again. The woman did my blinds during our remodel and from our very first meeting, I felt as though we had known each other for years. Both married about the same length of time, both with two children, one still in college, both not much into drinking, but love a glass of Grand Marnier, in a warmed glass no-less, after dinner on occasion. I don't think I have ever had a friend that liked that! She thought having one of those, on my deck with the stream as a background, on a summer evening would be heaven. My thoughts exactly! Where did this woman come from? Anyway, she called a couple of days ago, said she and her husband, who is her installer, and as nice as she is, were going to be up this way and would we like to get together? I said yes, lets have dinner at a new Mexican place we found to be really good. After three hours, some ta-kill-ya, wonderful food, we felt like old friends. So next time that happens, I'm going to take the initiative and make the first call. After all, what do we have to lose? And the gain could be serendipity.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sherried Artichoke Chicken

Here is the recipe for my husband's chicken and artichokes, which is his only signature dish.(Except for turkey, which he cooks every Thanksgiving.) He cooks a mean breakfast, but dinner is usually something too fattening, or doesn't have enough of the requisite veggies. Anyway, feel free to play with the ingredients, as it is one of those dishes that could be improved with new ideas. Feel free to share if you happen to do that!

4 whole boned chicken breasts
6 Tbl butter
1 pound can artichoke hearts (frozen might be good, too)
1/4 pound fresh mushroom caps
3 Tbl chopped onions
2 Tbl flour
2/3 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup sherry
1/2 tsp rosemary (we actually use much more - and fresh rosemary is best)
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp  kosher salt

Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, paprika. Dust chicken with flour and brown in (1) Tbl butter, transfer chicken to casserole. Add rest of butter to skillet; add mushrooms and onions; stir in chicken broth, sherry and rosemary. Cook for a few minutes. Add to chicken along with artichokes. Cover and bake at 375 for a minimum of 40 minutes.

Note: Some additional sherry may be added while baking.

If you try this recipe, let me know what you think!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Love those Labs

Three of the couples from last night's dinner have labs. One couple always have two black labs at any one time. One couple always have chocolate labs, and currently has a very young one. And of course, there is our Lucy.

P.S. Will post the artichokes and chicken recipe when my husband sends me the pic he took. I think you might like to try it if you like artichokes and/or chicken.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Dinner for Eight

We are planning a wonderful evenings with guests. Six, old and comfy friends are coming for dinner and I'm having a great time cooking. Here's the menu:
  • Cream cheese w/ "Texas Longhorn Jalapeno Dip Mix"/Crackers (Seriously folks, if you can find this "nectar of the gods", buy a couple of jars - we found it at a little kitchen shop in Truckee, Ca. - it is wonderful on sandwiches or anything you like. It is sort of sweet - almost bread & butter pickle-like but with a bite. Good stuff.)
  • Pomegranate Cosmos - Ina G style - i.e. by the pitcher
  • Red Wine
  • White Wine
  • Roasted Caprese Salad - Ina G style - ubiquitous, I know
  • Artichokes & Chicken - Hubby style  - This is his "signature dish" and he used it to woo me all so long ago. Served over some special pasta.
  • Pan-Roasted Root Vegetables - Ina G style -This is wonderful as it includes turnips, carrots, parsnips, celery root, brussel sprouts, celery and fresh thyme. Perfect winter-time fare.
  • Garlic Ciabatta Bread - Ina G style - warm bread with lots of garlic, parsley, fresh oregano and butter....can you say "breath mint?"
  • Fresh Banana Cake & Fudge Frosting - followed with decaf & tea.
Hope you are all having a wonderful Saturday, as well!

Friday, March 6, 2009


Most people don't believe me when I say this, but... for some reason I can drink a large quantity of tequila without getting drunk. I know, you will say, you just think you're not drunk! But since I was a young woman I can drink way more tequila, if I sip it like a cocktail, all by itself/not mixed with anything sugary, than any other drink. Wine makes me very light-headed after only two glasses, especially at this altitude. Same with an Old Fashioned or any other mixed drink. (I rarely drink anything alcohol any more.) But tequila just doesn't have the same effect. I had a "flight" of three different tequilas tonight with dinner and a shot before, and I feel the same way as if I had one glass of wine. Relaxed, but not really tipsy. (I was shocked at the many, many different tequilas. Some with a "salt" flavor and citrus, some with vanilla, some that were $23 per shot). I passed on the last one.

Any one else out there that loves their tequila, like wine drinkers love their wine? 


This article caught my attention because the topic has come up more than once lately. There seems to be two camps when it comes to grandparenting. Those that want to be fully involved in their grandchildren's lives, and those that only want occasional interaction. I'm not going to attempt to sway one way or the other. I do know that families that share a certain amount of childcare tend to feel less stress. I can remember when my children were young not having anyone to share the load very often. My mother died when I was young, my father not long after the birth of my second child. My in-laws were not the type to want the children for anything other than observing, nothing hands-on. So from a personal point of view, I know how hard it is when you do not have grandparents that want to be with their grandchildren.

My daughter e-mailed me yesterday to ask about a certain week in June. I knew it was not probably something that involved fun with me. No, it was as expected, would we be available to watch our grandson so they could have a get-a-way. Of course, I said yes. One caveat - we wanted him here in our home, not in theirs. That is for two reasons. One, I want him comfortable in our home, since we live so far away. And two, he needs a vacation, too! Children get tired of looking at the same things, playing with the same toys, and need stimulus. My feeling is that we can do things with him here that involve the beach, mountains, and walks in the woods. Since he doesn't sleep in his crib, he can just sleep with us. (Yes, I know, he should sleep in his crib, but since I never was very good at getting my children to do that, I will not lecture.)  In other words, we want hands-on time with him. I guess we're not Glam-mas, or Glam-pas.  What about you? Do you have grandchildren? Which camp are you in?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Some fugue!

How does a young, 23-year-old girl, go out for a jog and end up, three weeks later, being pulled from the water by a Staten Island ferry Captain? And she just remembers going out for the jog. What in the world could have happened to make her mind decide to dump her identity, and go for a little walkabout? 

Dissociative Fugue, not to be confused with amnesia, is a rare, usually short-lived, complex neurological process whereby a person loses all personal identity, memories, and any other personal identifying characteristics of individuality. They often just take off, taking on whole new identities and jobs. They have been known to travel over many miles, countries, even continents. This condition is usually precipitated by something stressful, that is forgotten while in the fugue state, and often never remembered. It is felt the mind creates a defensive personality. 

So what happened to that young girl?

People in this state often show significant distress or impairment, yet she is seen on a security camera logging onto a computer, checking her e-mail, speaking with a male student of Pace University, where she was studying for her masters degree. She'd been all over the news, yet was standing there in shorts and sports bra, just as she was reported to have been wearing when she disappeared. This was weeks later. She said, when asked by the fellow student, that she was not the missing girl...

This type of fugue was made famous by Jason Bourne, of the Bourne Trilogy, written by Robert Ludlum. But is is most often found in war veterans that have experienced trauma. It is considered psychogenic because it involves psychological factors that impinge on the neurological bases of memory retrieval, formed in the hippocampus. The memory loss is reversible, as viewed by her complete surprise in the hospital when her friends and family seemed so excited to see her. It was unclear when, exactly, she retrieved her memory, but she recognized friends and family while there. This type of amnesia is usually undiagnosed until the person recalls their real identity. Until then they just wander about, completely capable of remembering how to do routine tasks, just nothing to do with who they are. What remains a mystery is how she was able to maneuver in a city, (New York), that is not easy when one is in total control. She had no money, wallet, cell-phone, ID, nothing. Yet she ate, slept, walked until the giant blister she had either pushed her to take off her shoes, or, even stranger, to enter the water from a pier, in the night, and swim for hours to a small reef with a lighthouse. It is then believed she spent the day on the rocks around the lighthouse, then entered the water again around 11:00 a.m. the following day. Can you imagine? Entering the water at night? Black, inky, dirty, freezing water, all alone?

When they found her she was face-down in the water, and only showed any sign of life when they lifted her out. She was a mile southwest from the southern tip of Manhattan. A mile from shore, three weeks after disappearing, wearing the shorts and sports bra she wore to go out for a jog! 

Thank You

Thanks to all of you that left stew tips! I will be incorporating them over the next few weeks and will then post my "Ultimate Stew" recipe for all of you to try, change, and (maybe) improve. 

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Ultimate ... Stew!

I am in the process of perfecting my stew. I have been working on it all winter and think I am almost ready to share my recipe. But, I wonder, do any of you have anything that is your secret ingredient that makes your stew special, that you would like to share? I'm happy to give full credit when I publish the recipe. In the meantime, the house smells great

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A ghost story?

After reading Willow's latest post, I had to tell this story.

When my daughter was in high school she met a boy who was one year older. He was in one of her classes and I met him on a field trip to SF for their class. From the very beginning there was something drawing me to this kid. He was just special, that's the only way I can describe it. And it wasn't just the way he looked at my daughter. (Which was with respect, I might add - something not all adolescents use when looking at girls.) Anyway, she had another boyfriend and, while she really liked this boy, didn't break up with the boy she had been going with. Fast forward a year:

It's a normal day, both girls are at school. I hear my daughter's phone ringing in her room. I have this unbelievable urge to answer that phone. It made me anxious when it rings again. It was so weird. I wasn't in the habit of worrying about who was calling my teenage daughter. I go upstairs and listen to the message. It is this boy, he says to call him back. My daughter gets home and I am "bugging" her to call him back! She says no, she'll talk to him later. He was going to baseball practice and she wanted to go work out at our gym. (What I didn't know was he and she had been e-mailing each other and he was trying to convince her to be "with him". And she still hadn't made up her mind.) Now, let me assure you, I wasn't in the habit of pushing my teenager on to boys! Quite the opposite - I tried to watch her and her boyfriend like a hawk. But there was something different about this kid...

My daughter and her father come out of the gym, and there is a terrible accident on the corner. She worries it could be her boyfriend that lives up that way.

She gets home and tries to return the call to the boy. His grandmother doesn't know were he is, but he is supposed to be home. I think she tries again later and no answer. Can you see where this is going? Yep, it was the accident on the corner. He never made it home from baseball practice.

My daughter's boyfriend later told me that he overheard this boy telling another boy that day, that he was going to call my daughter and convince her to break up with him. He heard this at baseball practice. (Both boys were on the same team.)

I'm not going to go into the unbelievable pain and anguish our family, daughter, his family, the whole school went through. The story here is the aftermath. My daughter is not sleeping well, she says she keeps seeing this face (unrecognizable) hovering close to her face in the night. She's terrified. In the meantime, I'm hearing banging going on in her room during the day. I am the only one home. She had mirrored closet doors that were heavy and they would bang into the wall like someone was opening them with great force. Lots of noise - some small bumps, some louder - stuff falling off tables, etc. I do not tell her of these things. And for some reason, I'm not afraid. I finally decide maybe this boy is trying to tell her what he wanted to tell her that day. So I go upstairs and loudly tell him to go away, (that's what I read you are supposed to do in these circumstances),  that he is scaring my daughter, and making her very sad. 

Things begin to settle down, no more banging, daughter beginning to sleep better. So, you tell me, was it his ghost?