Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Epic Fail!

We were having friends over for supper and I was making an easy meal I've made many times - a mushroom main dish, fruit salad and pumpkin pudding.

Things were not going well.  I had managed to use more dishes prepping than normal so the counter was covered with dirty pots and pans, utensils, and the like.  Grease had splattered all over the stove and walls when I was sautéing the onions, so the entire kitchen was a dirty, grimy disaster.  There would need to be a massive clean up to be guest-ready. 

Then I scorched the milk for the pudding.  This meal was turning into more drama than seemed necessary.  I realized a lot of the stress I was feeling was self-generated so I took a deep breath.

I started over - which seriously threw my timing off - and I could almost hear the countdown in my head. Apparently that deep breath had just wasted precious time.  It was becoming obvious that the kitchen was not going to be pretty when the doorbell rang. Oh, well.  What are ya gonna do, right?

I was whipping the egg yolks to finish the pudding when Jerry arrived home from work.  He tasted the entree - one of his favorites - and announced that it was "too spicy to eat." That was happy news.  Not. 


Those words were chasing each other around in my mind when I poured the eggs into the warm milk too fast and they instantly curdled, turning scrambled before my very eyes. I didn't have enough milk to attempt pudding for a third time. For a split second, I wondered if I could strain the lumps out - seriously, there was less than five minutes before Dick and Lee were to arrive.  

Then a miracle occurred!  Lee texted me that she had burned the green beans that she was bringing as a side dish.

I believe in divine guidance and I know it when I see it.

Ten minutes later, we were all sitting in a booth at our neighborhood Italian restaurant, ordering dinner.   

The food was excellent.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


I just saw this pic of a friend on Facebook:  
Greg in his gear.  Practically invisible.

He is decked out in his camos - I think there might even be feathers involved - his face looks like it's smeared with black shoe polish, and he is hiding in a tree

News flash!  All that effort is not necessary.  There's an easier way.  

Just come to my house, get a cold drink and a plate of food and sit on the deck.   When you look up from your first bite, you will see a deer wander up and begin eating birdseed out of the feeder which is inches away from you.  A second will be ambling up the stairs - why walk through the brush when you can just use a staircase?  Most likely there will be a third who will be dining nearby on the flower heads of chrysanthemums.  

Don't think you will scare them either, because you won't.  Nothing you can do or say will convince them to move on.  Nothing.  Not banging on a pan, not shouting, not running around waving your arms.  Believe me, I've tried. Occasionally they will make eye contact, but it's more to taunt me than anything else.   

My dad told me once that when he was young he went to Michigan's Upper Peninsula to deer hunt, "because there weren't deer in lower Michigan."  

Times have changed.  We live fifteen hours south of the U.P. and sometimes there will be ten deer in our front yard at once.

Hunters are searching for deer in the wrong place.  The deer obviously have all moved to the city.


Friday, October 9, 2015

My Dinner Companion

This week I am in beautiful Banff, a national park in Canada, accompanying my husband to an AHTD conference.  Although one guy told me it means, "Acquired Hyper-tension Disease," AHTD actually stands for "Association for High Tech Distributors." These affairs are old-hat for Jerry but it's a rare pleasure for me to join him.  Yes, I am totally out of my element here.  Meaningful conversation with the attendees will not be happening but I totally can socialize with the other spouses and we are staying in a castle in the mountains.  This luxury is not the normal world I inhabit but I am willing to adapt.

Beautiful Lake Louise
Photo courtesy of
Kathy Golubski

Last evening I found myself at dinner in a noisy restaurant sitting with a table full of strangers.  I was nervous because, as I said, I rarely attend these events and I'm totally clueless about almost any topic which they might discuss.  It's going to be a long, long night, fraught with mine-fields of dangerous opportunities in which I might unintentionally embarrass my significant other.  

The tension mounts.

I choose to forgo the cocktail and I get teased.  I stick to my guns.  I need my wits about me.

There are two other spouses at this table, but I am not sitting beside either one of them.  I am between Jerry and a gorgeous younger woman named Rhonda whom I initially thought was the host's wife.  Of course I didn't keep this assumption to myself.  The very first thing I said to her was, "How long have you and your husband been here?"  to which she chuckled and replied, "He's not my husband; he's my boss."

Oops.  Strike one.

In fairness to me, my husband's chosen career is male dominated so it was an honest mistake.  When you do come across a woman in this field though, you can bet your paycheck that she will be hard-working and as sharp as the blade of a well-honed knife.  Women who succeed in this industry are uber competent and dedicated; there is no express elevator to the top.  Because I know this, I am even more nervous than usual.

The guys were talking about football, or baseball or basketball - some sport.  I have nothing to contribute to this conversation so I'm only half-listening when this gal leans in my direction and says, "Do you like cocaine?"


To say that I was blindsided would be dramatic understatement. My mind froze. Where there was once brains, there are now just icicles.  I could feel the color drain out of my face.  How do I respond to this?  I knew - I just knew - that no matter what I said, it was going to be the wrong answer.

This is beyond awkward. 

After a pause that was far too long, I rose to the occasion.  I may not be in my element, but I have been a mother for almost forty years.  Within this timespan, there have been more than a few uncomfortable conversations.  I prepared for another.

Falling back on hard-won skills that parenthood has taught me, I looked her square in the face and, without flinching, I said, "Do I like cocaine?"

She burst out laughing.

"I'm from Kentucky," she said, "I said, 'Do you like UK?'"

The evening got a lot easier after that.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Crystal Clear Instructions

My cousin Nancy had this lovely ginger jar for many years before she looked inside it.

When she did, she found these directions:

While I'm the first to admit that I am not the sharpest crayon in the box when it comes to putting things together, even I feel that this might be overkill.  On the plus side, both steps are easy to understand.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

New-fangled gadgets!

Last week, Jerry and I were in Denver visiting my cousins and their families.  We had a blast - because vacationing is fun and because the Denver cousins are good hosts.
Ride 'em Cowboy!
Orange and purple cauliflower.  Who knew?  

This story is even funnier because it totally could have been me and either of my daughters would have responded exactly the way Nancy's daughter Sarah did. 

We were riding in the car on the way to visit Aunt Mary, Nancy in the backseat so I could sit up front while her daughter Sarah drove us.

Sarah, Aunt Mary and Nancy
The phone rang.

The car is equipped with blue tooth which means it rang within the car.  I get that this is a new-fangled way to have hands-free conversations while at the wheel, but I was still caught up in the thrill of it. (I don't get out much...)

The car's backup screen lit up with the name 'Alan.'  Of course, you do have to read the screen and touch it to accept the call, so it's not exactly risk-free but it sure is easier than juggling a phone while you're steering.  Plus when you get a call this way, it's automatically on speaker so it's much easier to hear.    

Sarah moved to answer the call from her Uncle Alan but before she actually touched the screen, her mother pressed the green button on her iPhone, which automatically transfers the call from the car to her phone, which she was holding at arm's length.

"Alan," Nancy said.  "I'm in the car....

...I don't know what's wrong, but....

I can't hear you very well..."

Sarah sighed.  

"Put the phone to your ear, Mom," she said.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

At Three

This is the exact conversation I had with my favorite three-year-old:

Grayson:  "Levi is funny."

Me:  "Does Levi make you laugh?"

Grayson:  "No."

Me:  "Then why do you think he's funny?"

Grayson:  "Because he is."

He recently informed me that his
pre-school teacher, Miss Sandy, is his new best friend.  I protested.  

Me:  "I want to be your new best friend!"

Grayson:  "No.  Miss Sandy is."

I could talk to that kid all day long and never get bored.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A Day at the Beach

For anyone out there in the great, big world who doesn't yet realize that I, Chris Zimmerman, am married to a superhero, here's a true story:

On Saturday we were at the beach and I was jumping around in the waves in knee-deep water while Jerry was out farther playing on a boogie board.  All of the sudden, a monster white cap came crashing in and, at that instant, I was underwater.  It carried me to shore and when I stood up, both my hat and my prescription sunglasses had been swept away.  

Someone on the beach called that they had grabbed my hat and I wandered away to retrieve it.  After I got it, I realized that, by moving, I'd dramatically reduced my odds of finding my sunglasses.  Ever.    

Meanwhile Jerry, who had seen what had happened, swam over and I waded out a bit to meet him.  As I was telling him that they were lost for good, my husband reached into the Atlantic Ocean and pulled out my sunglasses.  I repeat:  I lost my sunglasses in the ocean and my husband found them.  Only a superhero could do that!  I'm still amazed.

That man should be wearing a costume with a cape.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

My Pets

Toby, my pet SCOBY

This is Toby.  He's alive.  I know that Toby looks like a placenta but he's actually a SCOBY - a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast - and he's alive.   I think of him as my pet.  

Although Toby likes to eat, he's as picky as a toddler.  All he wants is one thing: sweet tea.  Toby floats in about a gallon of sweet tea which I refresh every seven to ten days.  If Toby were a cat, you'd change his litter that often, wouldn't you? So my pet doesn't take any more maintenance than your cat or dog.  And, I don't have to walk him.  Totally a plus.

What Toby does, and does well, far better than your pets - even if you have gerbils or mice, is procreate.  He breeds faster than a rabbit! Every week when I change his tea, I take Old Toby, who is now lying below Baby Toby and remove him, allowing Toby Junior (the clone) to bask in the sweetness of the new batch of tea all alone.  Papa Toby goes into my SCOBY hotel, a resting place for Toby, Toby Senior, Grandpa Toby, Great Gramps and so on.  
The SCOBY Hotel

I could just pitch Old Toby onto my compost pile or eat him like gummy candy but I prefer to "put him out to pasture" in the friendly gallon jar with his family.  That way, if something happens to my current Toby, I have one in reserve.  Or two.  Or ten...  

Another, happier, alternative for me is that I can give Old Toby to YOU.  YOU take Old Toby, put him in a jar full of sweet tea with a cup or two of his fermented tea and then you have your own cute pet.  

What's that?  You don't think Old Toby is cute?  Didn't your mother ever teach you that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything?  Maybe I don't think your pet is that cute either, but you don't hear me announcing it to the world.

You could buy yourself your own Toby online.  Tobys there cost $50.  Makes my gift idea seem more generous, right?

Toby can sit on the counter, all but ignored, for several weeks, just happily floating in his sugared tea water and growing more SCOBYS but the longer he sits without fresh food, the more sour his pool water becomes.  Ultimately, Toby will be swimming in vinegar - lovely if you want to use it for salad dressing, but pretty tough to drink.  


Yes, that's right.  The byproduct of Toby's sweet tooth is KOMBUCHA, a fermented tea that's chock full of probiotics, 38 - 43 strains of those little buggers, all just waiting to improve my gut health when I swig down a drink. And swig I do.  

When I put Baby Toby into his new tea (again, with a cup or two of old tea, just to keep it acidic), I bottle his used-up pool water which is now Kombucha, add flavoring and let the tea sit on my counter for a day or so.  Then I put the bottles into my fridge.   

Because I like the taste of Kombucha, which is like a sparkling apple cider with a champagne-like fizz, I also change the SCOBY hotel once a week and bottle that tea, too.  My fridge is filled with fermented-tea-in-beer-bottles at all times and usually more is just a day away.  I am happy to let guests who wander down taste test the current flavors.  Usually there's one that's a standout and we chug down that bottle immediately.  The rest will improve as they age.

Kombucha sells everywhere these days.  Somebody told me you can even buy it at WalMart.  I have never seen it sold for less than $2.50 on sale and some brands sell for nearly $4.00 each.  Mine costs me $.50 a gallon.

Now that you know that, I don't seem to be one cat shy of crazy anymore, do I?

* * *

This is Karen.  She's alive.  Karen is a Water Kefir Grain.....

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Circus

Summer colds are the worst and mine was a doozy.   Monday morning I was scheduled for the first appointment of the day with my dentist.  Since I couldn't reach the office over the weekend to reschedule and I didn't want to be one of "those people" who cancel at the last minute, I decided to go and let them hear me for themselves.  Cough.  Cough.  Cough.  I knew that nobody in their right mind would want me within six feet of them.

Although I was hacking while talking to the receptionist, she didn't seem too concerned. Even though I know the dentist wears a mask and plastic gloves, I was still shocked when he didn't think my coughing was a big deal either.  I, on the other hand, didn't even want to be in the same room with me.

My view from the dental chair.
They led me back to the chair, clipped my bib on and the circus began.  First, Sidekick Sam put a mini-trampoline in the front of my mouth, which may have shielded them somewhat from gross-ocity but I believe it's designated function was to keep my jaws wide open.  Then, the dentist crammed both his hands and part of his arm into my mouth and began baton twirling with tiny silver instruments, an act that he himself said he never perfected in any classroom during dental school.  I started to laugh, which made me cough, which made him stop and raise the mechanical chair to an upright position.  Every time he lowered the chair, he would say something funny which would make me laugh, which would make me cough.  This was going to be a long morning.

Somewhere in the middle of the hilarity, Sidekick Sam, who is the Princess of Compassion, says, "I don't mean to frighten you, but...."

I ask you, does it even matter what she says next?  I mean, I'm already alarmed based upon her introductory statement.  This, apparently, was the wild animal portion of the show because I have turned into a dragon and plumes of smoke are billowing out of my mouth. Sam is just trying to reassure me that this is normal.  Normal.  Really?

Guess what?  My eyes had been closed.  Before she mentioned it, I thought there was a pot of chili burning somewhere.  Now I have arrived at the painful conclusion that my mouth is on fire.  That's okay though, because it's normal.

Years ago, my dentist made me a queen when he inserted a permanent crown of gold into my mouth.  I have behaved regally ever since; sometimes I even wear a tiara. Now these two are trying to one-up that guy by making me the winner of a prestigious sporting event:  The Triple Crown.  I am short enough to be a jockey, but I'm not crazy about that outfit.

When the dust settled - or, in this case, when the temporary crown was glued into place, three hours had elapsed.  The trampoline was removed.   The whole side of my face was achy and sore but I was floating on air I was so elated.  Why?  

No, I hadn't been sucking in the nitrous oxide!  Who would even think I would do that? Well, it does make your voice sound squeaky and funny, so it would fit into the circus theme. 

But that was not the source of my glee.  I was delighted BECAUSE IT'S OFFICIAL! After he finished, my dentist told me I have an extremely tiny mouth.

 My dentist is a professional and he says I have an extremely tiny mouth.  It must be true then.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

My Questionable Cleaning Style

Kitchen Horror!
My lovely Motel 6 bedroom

I have made a hideous mess of my kitchen while elevating our bedroom to "cleanest ever" status.  
If you are asking yourself what a cake dish and two punch bowls were doing in the bedroom in the first place, you don't know me well.

Last week four of my all-time favorite friends came to visit and the first couple arrived six hours before I expected them.  The sheets were in the dryer and I was at the tail-end of my weekly kombucha bottling session so the kitchen was a wreck, but other than that things weren't as gruesome as they could have been. These were "self-cleaning" guests and after a week of fun - including Indian cooking lessons - they departed, leaving the house cleaner than they found it.  I must mention that the guys prepared all the meals and cleaned up afterward too. I swear, I could soooo love communal living!
Learning in Santhoshi's Kitchen.  Yum.

Guess which guest chef is left-handed?
Maybe depression at their departure inspired the current cleaning binge?

Yesterday I ripped everything out of all the closets, cabinets and drawers of the master bath and bedroom and took everything that didn't belong to the kitchen. It took all day but I knew Jerry was going to work late so I had extra time to get everything straightened back up.  What I forgot to factor in was that Kate was coming over.

"Oh my God, what happened here?" was her entry line.  Things only deteriorated from there.  Before the evening was over, I had emptied drawers and shelves in the kitchen too.  When Jerry got home, he didn't even comment.  He's used to these upheavals and knows that they usually abate on the third day.  It also helped that he could see that the boudoir was Holiday Inn clean.  
Vanilla in its infancy

Today I got up to face the explosion in the kitchen and ended up arranging my spices which led directly to infusing vodka with vanilla beans.  When I was done with that, I whipped up a batch of my homemade deodorant and made laundry soap - all in a kitchen that would have caused social services to remove my child from the home had they had occasion to visit.   (She's twenty-six.  I wonder where they would place her?)  Then, instead of picking it all up, I decided to write this blog.

I am currently taking an online course called:  Focus and Concentration.  I wonder if they have a money-back guarantee?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Choosing Glasses

Two years ago, Jerry made a major faux pas when he went to get an eye exam and came home with new (unapproved) glasses. Glasses are a fashion statement that demand careful consideration. Just grabbing a pair and buying them without (my) scrutiny is such a ….guy thing.

Over time I got used to them but apparently Jer felt the sting of censure because last Monday morning he called me from work. He appeared to be inviting me to lunch but he had an ulterior motive. He slid in a plea for me to help him choose a suitable pair of glasses, since we would be out anyway.

We arrived at the optical side of the eye doctor's practice at 11:30. Jer commenced trying on frames. A rep was standing off to the side and I asked him what frames were “in” in Europe. (This matters because European eyewear arrives in the US a couple of seasons later. If you don't mind looking like a dweeb for a few months, you will be totally stylin' for the rest of the time you wear your glasses.)


Harrison Ford?
Jerry modeled frame after frame after frame but neither of us could make a definitive decision. The rep even chose a few pairs for Jer to try on. Neither of us liked his choices either.


Finally we winnowed down the selections. We took pictures of the top contenders and sent them to our daughter Kate for her opinion. Then, for fun, Jer began to try on sunglasses:

Sophia Loren?
About now the technician began giving us her input and I had this feeling that the selection process had dragged on too long and maybe we should leave so she could close for lunch.  

The decision was difficult but finally the group achieved consensus, the glasses were ordered and we went on our merry way.

Three days later, we were sitting together at dinner when Kate said, “Are those your new glasses, Dad? I like them.”

I looked up. I agreed. The temples had this interesting shape and were made of dark brushed metal. Very classy. “Me too,” I said. “Great choice.”

Jerry said, “No. These are still my old ones. I pick up the new pair tomorrow.”

My husband always has been on the cutting edge of fashion. It took me two years this time, but I finally caught up!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Beat the Heat!

When it's a hundred outside, how does this northern girl - a self-professed shade loving mammal - beat the heat?

(Of course we have air conditioning...which I keep at 80 degrees during the summer.   If I'm outside in über hot weather, going inside to 80 degrees feels wonderful.  Today I went wild and turned the a/c down to 79, but that's mostly for emotional reasons.

Usually one of the following tricks cools me down enough for me to be comfortable:

First, I get a bandanna wet and then wear it around my neck.  This serves a dual purpose.  It cools me, sure, and that's important. But I'm also in my sixties so any legitimate reason to cover my scary neck is a plus.

Next, I make myself a big glass of ice water, adding thinly sliced cucumbers and mint from the garden.  The floating mint and cukes don't make the water any colder, but the glass sure looks classy.  Presentation is everything!

While I'm in the kitchen, a quick trip to the freezer scores me a handful of frozen grapes.  (I also like frozen mango chunks.  Frozen chocolate covered raspberries are my very favorite, but they disappear immediately after I dip them.  They rarely even make it to the freezer, they are that awesome.)  Of course, ice cream would work too, but that goes without saying, right?

I take these icy snacks down to my basement where it's naturally cooler because it's underground.  Then I set up a box fan to blow air on me.  This is the summer equivalent to a space heater in the winter.  I only care about my immediate environment, not the entire house.   I also have a lovely handheld black feathered fan I can use.  It may be 80 degree air, but air in motion feels cooler to me.  

Usually those couple ideas are enough to make me feel comfortable, but some days when it's really, really humid, I might need to take my game to the next level.  

When this happens, I will plunge my feet into a dishpan that's filled with cool water.   This immediately cools me off.  My friend Elaine, who taught me this trick, calls this a "redneck swimming pool" but I jazz it up a little. By adding Epsom salts to the water, I can pretend I'm at a spa.  

Hydrotherapy also works in the form of a quick cold shower.  Style points to those who keep their hair wet.  Blow drying your hair in summer seems so wrong to me.

If you are not absolutely frigid after trying these suggestions, you can employ my number one secret weapon for beating the heat.  This will work, guaranteed! Drop everything and drive to the library.  Reading a magazine in the cool, cool library is a perfect thing to do in the heat of a Carolina summer day.  

Remember to take a sweater.  Oh, and save a seat for me.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Baby

Sunday evening the grands and their parents came over for supper.  After the meal was done, the boys went outside to play with their Dad and Grampy.  Jessica tagged along to watch.  

This was the opportunity I'd been waiting for!  I scooped up the baby and asked permission to take him to our next-door neighbor Mary Ann's.  She, of course, was delighted to have a six-week-old visitor and I was in "Grammy Heaven" showing him off.  He's sooooo cute!  

We were having a blast with the little guy when Jerry arrived and told us it was time for the kids to go home.  We helped get them all strapped into their car seats and they left.

Later Jer told me that when Jessica and Brent began gathering up their things to leave - baby paraphernalia, left-overs, kids' crocks, and so on - Brent asked her, "Do we have everything? ...Have we forgotten anything?"  Jessica, whose arms were overflowing, said, "I've got OUR stuff, have YOU forgotten anything?" 

At this point, the two-year-old chimed in. "THE BABY!"

Brody, who had been quietly observing in the background said nonchalantly, "I already told them that."

Lucky Parker!  Both his older brothers have "got his back."

Baby Parker on the go

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Dancing in the Moonlight

In his youth, Allen Palmer had the body of a Greek God and when he aged he was kick-ass cool, bright and amusing.  Allen's death was a loss to the entire neighborhood (and beyond) and so we had a Caribbean themed “Celebration of Life” party. Of course we did.

Allen Palmer, circa 1961
Shot during the filming of  "The Teahouse of the August Moon"

The place was jam packed with friends and family who wanted to pay their respects and remember their friend.  As the night wore on, people began grabbing the mike from the steel drummer and telling Allen stories. Many of them had known him their whole lives so they had lots of fond memories to recount. I had a story too, but mine remained untold. Until now.

Shortly after I met Allen, I added him to my bucket list. That was the day that I discovered he had been an instructor at Arthur Murray Dance Studios, the Cadillac of dance institutions. I vowed on the spot to dance with him. I didn't know where, I didn't know when, but I knew. It WOULD happen.  

Jerry and I are extremely compatible in many ways, but as a couple we are lousy at dancing. Secretly, I've always blamed him.  It's not that we haven't tried - we have taken so many dancing lessons over the years that we should be the Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire of our time. I yearn to be that couple on the dance floor that performs so beautifully that everyone else stops in awe and watches their dazzling footwork. Clearly, I needed to dance with Allen Palmer.

And then, it happened. I will never forget that night. We were all at an outdoor concert at the clubhouse and people were dancing on the grass in front of the band. Suddenly, Becky Palmer materialized out of the darkness. “Please go dance with Allen!” she begged. “I'm exhausted.”

She didn't have to ask twice. It was a shining moment which will live forever in my memory. I floated over the lawn to the dance area just as a slow song started. And then Allen took me in his arms. 

God has a wicked sense of humor and this was the longest song of my life, spent stepping all over poor Allen's feet. At one point, I think I may have even kicked him in the shins. It was mortifying. People were looking at us, but not for the reason I had imagined. Turns out that it's me, not Jerry, that is rhythm impaired.

Armed with this insight, I have started my “Afterlife Bucket List” - things to do after I die. First on my list? “Take dancing lessons from Allen Palmer.”

P.S. Jerry, this post is your public apology and the only one you'll ever get so if you don't read it, it's not my fault.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I Quit Sugar!

I quit sugar!

Sure I did. In my dreams. I am eating a lot, lot less of it these days but if you live in America and eat out ever, you are gonna eat sugar - salad dressing, marinara sauce, soup, ketchup.  Oh it's there.  Hiding in everything.  Virtually all processed foods also include the white stuff.

The first thing that happens when I go cold turkey is that I get a headache. It lasts for three days. I realize that this is withdrawal but that doesn't make me feel better.  Headaches are no fun at all.  

Next I have strong cravings. I crave lots of different foods but what they all have in common is sweetness. This is excruciating because a stalk of celery is not satisfying when what you really want a big bowl full of Breyers and I can't even put peanut butter on it because - you guessed it - mine has sugar in it.

It takes three full weeks before I realize something amazing is happening. My food now tastes delicious and flavorful. Fruit tastes sweet. Really sweet.  Some foods taste saltier too.  Really salty.  I didn't expect that.

Finally, I understand when people eat a bite of dessert and say, “It's too sweet to eat.” I always thought that these people were twisted show-offs needing attention. I now realize I was probably born addicted. I feel liberated.

But this is America. Here we celebrate with junk food. Halloween comes. I eat three mini-Snickers and a Butterfingers. I try not to beat myself up. The next morning I don't feel so good. Hmmm....

I'm a slow learner.  Thanksgiving comes. Pie.

Airport candy bowl

Christmas is THE WORST. My sister comes and makes homemade peanut brittle. I cave.  

Summer's here.  The holidays are long gone. I've been back on the wagon a while but lately I've been eating a piece of very dark chocolate after meals for its “health benefits." Still, it's only one piece.  And it's supposedly healthy for you.  See how easily I can rationalize?  It's a talent, really.

Dove came out with a dark chocolate dipped dried cherry. I bought a bag at WalMart. I told myself I'd only eat one piece a day after a meal.

In the parking lot, I ripped open the bag. I ate three pieces. The next day, I look at the nutritional information on the side of the bag. It says there are four servings inside. I look inside the bag. There is one cherry left and a few chocolate shards.

So much for quitting sugar.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Welcome, Baby!

According to my sister, mother of five boys, it's the third child that is the game changer.  "Because you only have two hands," she says simply.  

On Sunday at 10:52 am, Jessica's game changer, Parker David, made his grand entrance into this world.  Weighing in at precisely seven pounds, he was an impressive twenty-one inches long.  And cute.  Need I even mention that?  (Was there any doubt?)  

We're crazy in love with him already!

On Sunday afternoon, Jerry and I took the boys to meet their newest brother.  They were suitably impressed - especially because he brought gifts for them.  The boys thoroughly enjoyed their afternoon, spent alternately admiring the baby and playing with their new Ironman Smashers with accessories.

When it was finally time to go, Brody turned to Grayson and said, "Don't leave any pieces at the doctor hotel."  Then, after a moment of thought he turned to Grampy and said, "This IS a hotel, isn't it?"

Just three more boys and Jessica could bump my sister off the top of the "number of offspring list" and seize the family record for most sons as well.  I'm totally in favor of that but, with boys now ages four, two and zero, it might be difficult to sell my daughter on the obvious merit of the idea.  

Maybe I'll wait a few weeks before I mention my plan.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Embarrassing Moment, Number 33,756

My sister shortened the straps on this cami for me
 - but obviously not enough!

THIS is what I saw when I walked by my mirror on Monday afternoon ~ AFTER I'd finished entertaining a new friend, spent about a half an hour talking with two neighbor guys (how could they keep a straight face?) AND waved at several friends who were driving by.
MADONNA meant to show off HER bra, but I was totally clueless.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

You be the Judge

My daughter says I write too many stories about my grandsons. I say it's a miracle I write about anything else, I'm so crazy-in-love with them.

This week when they came to visit, Grayson, the two-year-old, arrived in his full Spiderman regalia, including, but not limited to, a red nylon hat with an eye shaped mask attached.  Soon Brody and I began to feel our wardrobe choices for the day were lacking, so we decided to remedy that by taking a trip to the costume treasure chest.

Brody, in a regal mood, was busy digging through rainbows of feather boas, looking for a crown. Meanwhile, I chose the monarch butterfly wings. He picked up my twinkly Glinda (the good witch) wand, evaluating whether or not it met his royal criteria.

He looked up for a moment, saw me flapping around the room and said,
“You're beautiful.”

Too many grandson stories? I think not!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Cooking Class

“I cracked the coconut earlier today and removed the meat,” said Santhoshi, the young Indian woman who was to teach our cooking class. Michelle and I were the first two pupils in her first class and she was sweating she was so nervous.
“Really?” Said I. “How'd you do that?” I asked. She indicated a large mortar and pestle sitting on her counter. 

Right then I knew that recreating the Indian meal that she had tailored specifically with my dietary guidelines in mind and was now going to spend the evening teaching me how to make was going to be impossible for me to execute. MY mortar and pestle is the right size to crack a walnut and my first thought was to use a chop saw. How do you get the meat separated from the hull? I have no clue. Maybe it just falls off or maybe you need a pry bar for that.

Santhoshi and Michelle cooking korma
The class continued. Santhoshi also had prepared a paneer dish that had marinated all day. Turns out it wasn't something she usually fed her family because it came from another part of the country. She felt, though, that all Americans expected it with their Indian meals. 

On to korma, the mouth-watering focal point of our Indian dinner. Lots of chopping is involved - it's full of veggies. I estimate the end product, which smelled beyond terrific, takes basically two-and-a-half hours to create - that does not factor in the time it takes to crack the aforementioned coconut or cut and marinate the paneer referenced above.

She also made Jeera - a savory, cumin-flavored rice - plus a sweet milk dessert called payasam. This dish included saffron, that deliciously expensive thread from the crocus flower. I've had a jar of saffron threads for longer than I've lived in South Carolina, but never found occasion to use it. That was about to change.

In our class environment the meal took a bit longer to prepare, largely because I kept butting in and asking irrelevant questions but also because we laughed a lot. Cooking classes can be fun!

Two hours into our class, I realized that neither of the students were helping do any of the work. That probably slowed us down a bit, too. I should have at least offered to chop the onions. I do that all the time at my house. Now it was time to fry the paneer.  I helped by stirring it. It was approaching 8:30 and I usually eat hours before that. Michelle and I began sneaking bits of extra coconut. I never realized how totally yummy raw coconut can be.

The Korma - I call it "heaven in a pot!"
The paneer smelled divine. Santhoshi had made a lot of it - an entire skillet plus some skewers that she put in the oven. We tried it. Then, the two students ATE the entire skillet of fried paneer. Wow! I didn't even think I liked the stuff. What was in that marinade?

Now comes the highlight of the evening. Time to try the meal. Our instructor plated the food with some naan (because naan is the world's best flatbread) and gave us a hearty serving of flavorful rice, about a half cup of korma and some of the oven-baked paneer. I began by sampling the korma and it was just sooooo tasty.  

Santhoshi had left the dining area to get her husband a plate of food (and that's a whole different story, believe me) and I asked Michelle to sneak us each another scoop of the korma. She complied. I ate that. My Lord, that stuff was downright divine! Then, as I was gobbling up the rice and cheese, our teacher left again. This time MICHELLE added more korma to our plates. It was seriously good. We could not get enough of it! I wanted to take home a giant doggy bag and eat nothing but korma for the rest of the month. 

When Santhoshi reappeared, she served us each another heaping cup of korma. Remember - we had already eaten a skillet of cheese and nibbled on coconuts and eaten THREE SERVINGS OF THE STUFF! 

We both ate it all. Every luscious bite. Neither of us were hungry at all now. In fact, by the time we'd finished, I was Thanksgiving full - but it was the best Indian meal I've ever had in my entire life.

I received the recipes in my email but who are we kidding here? Our sweet teacher even invited me to take a road trip to the Indian store to buy the more exotic ingredients. I optimistically bought a coconut from Harris Teeter that's already been scored for easy opening.

I need more instruction, that's what I need! I am thinking I will just enroll in the same Wednesday night class until I feel like I really can do it on my own. (That's code for never.)

Seriously, if you live in my area, take this class! At the end of it, you will eat the best Indian food of your life and that's totally worth the wait. Totally.  And if you learn how to make vegetarian korma, invite me for supper. Often.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Excitement on an Airplane

Last week, I posted a story about going to Ohio to our friend Chris' wedding. Getting there was another story.  Of course we obviously did, so that's a happy ending, but if you've ever flown you can totally sympathize with our angst because of our pilot's lack of bedside manner.

Here are the texts of the actual event.  It's a study in everything a pilot should not say: