30 July, 2015

Eating my way through New Orleans

Heading off to The Big Easy to meet up with my Mom and a bunch of her first cousins and their kids. So...my cousins too. Just a lot of them are cousins I have not met yet.

Not a lot of advanced planning. I think some of us are taking a Segway Tour of the City, and maybe a bus tour. My Mom cannot walk long distances, so both of those things will be fun for her.

A lot of my goals for the trip are gustatory. I intend to try:

A biegnet
A muffuletto sandwich
A real New Orleans praline

And with this crowd, there will definitely be a few adult beverages put away. The thing about this trip is that we are getting together just to have fun, rather than getting together at a funeral...which is where we have seen each other these past 10 years or so. And so we are celebrating family, rather than the loss of family.

And that makes me glad.

27 July, 2015

Hey, hey, hey - Fat Albert wouldn't do that, would he?

Do you remember the cartoon Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids? It showed on Saturday morning when I was a kid. It was about a bunch of kids in inner-city Philadelphia, who ran into trouble each week, but then learned some lesson about how to a better friend or a kinder, stronger person. Fat Albert (voiced by Bill Cosby) was the moral compass of the group, and he always helped people stand up to the bully, ask for help from a responsible adult, and do the right thing. He taught kids to be kind.

I really loved it when I was a kid. I looked it up and the show started when I was in 3nd grade and went off the air after I graduated from high school, so it had a good run.

I'll be honest, it has been a hard couple of months. Last month was the one year anniversary of my friend Toni's death. She is never far from my thoughts. Earlier this spring, a friend's young wife, in the midst of a terrible depression, took her own life, leaving a shattered husband and a young daughter behind. The news is full of murder and mayhem. I was pulled over by a police officer today for a broken taillight, and my thoughts went immediately to my brothers and sisters who might reasonably fear that this could be the traffic stop that lead to their incarceration or death just for having brown skin. I am a mess.

Yesterday I read the horribly disturbing article in New York magazine that Bill Cosby, who in real life was NO Fat Albert, in between making movies, starring in tv shows, doing comedy tours, and making Jello commercials, was also giving women drugs and raping them. I'll never think about Fat Albert in the same way again. Dr. Huxtable, with all those young daughters, now seems creepily suspect.

I am trying to hold on to the words of Mr. Rogers, another person who tried to help kids be kind:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

But some days, it is hard to see the helpers when it seems like the world is mad and getting madder.

08 April, 2015


I don't even know what "Begorra" means, other than it seems to be used as an all-purpose expression of gentle surprise. Or maybe it means "Nonsense" - just don't know.

But here is the table of delights that Jim (mostly)  made for our St. Patrick's coffee hour at church.

Shamrock sugar cookies, Irish cream brownies, Irish potato candy, soda bread muffins, and cheese and fruit in the colors of the Irish flag. Also, little cups of snack mix for the kids, made with Lucky Charms, m&m candy, and peanuts.

24 January, 2015

Weeks late...

Better late than never, here is my report on What I Did on Christmas Vacation:

We left Maryland on Christmas day on a direct flight to the Minneapolis area. Parents and a 9 year old greeted us at the airport and whisked us back to my sister’s house, where we were given:
  1. Presents (We also passed out our presents that we brought with us.)
  2. Wine
  3. Snacks. Really good ones like smoked turkey, pita and hummus, chips and salsa and cheese olives. Frango chocolates. I love Christmas snacks.
We played Apples to Apples, a new game that we gifted to the kids. Then I sat down with Gran and the nieces and learned how to play Bunco. Yes, we broke out the dice on Christmas Day, what can I say, that’s the way we roll.
The 26th was another important family day, with visits from my brother-in-law’s family, including his parents and sister/sister’s husband and their two children. The kids roamed around playing and shrieking at the top of their lungs.
In the end, most of the adults wound up in the kitchen slicing veggies, bread, and cheese for our Raclette feast. Raclette is a Swiss meal that involves melting some delicious strong cheese and eating it over foods like bread, roasted potatoes, broccoli, mushrooms, cornichon, pickled onions, and grilled onions. It takes a while to do and you get to prepare it just the way you like it – perfect holiday feast meal.
Other high points of the trip were a trip to the local rock-climbing wall facility (which was called Horizontal Terror, or Slanted Exertion, or Vertical Expressions, or some such silliness), a visit to the NordicWare outlet, and a visit to the meal/show at Benihana with all 14 of the extended clan.
We went to the gym one day. I rowed for ten minutes, learned how to do a kettlebell swing, punched a weight bag, and played basketball with Thing 2 and her dad. I had not touched a basketball for years, but it came back to me, and we enjoyed futzing around, shooting and screaming, “She shoots, she MISSES!” at each other. The young men around us in the gym were slightly bewildered, but we thought it was hilarious. We tried out some Harlem Globetrotter-esque shots, but sadly, Meadowlark Lemon doesn’t have anything to worry about.
There was also a lot of sitting around, doing crafts, drinking wine, and watching silly movies. We played Scrabble, and Bunco, and Apples to Apples and trivia. We sorted through books, and took a trip to the Goodwill to drop off old books and toys. We visited brother-in-law's new office and got to eat at a fun restaurant/bar in downtown Minneapolis. It was a good trip, just the perfect amount of time that everyone had fun and no one had a chance to get tired of each other!

23 November, 2014

Giving thanks

I will see this lovely, large, somewhat vulgar peach next weekend as I drive from SC to MD. It's in Gaffney, SC. Doesn't it look somewhat like a large bottom in the sky, from a certain angle?

We are going to SC for Thanksgiving with the whole family. I love Thanksgiving, it is my favorite, uncomplicated holiday. We just have to fix a nice meal, and for a while, focus on the things we are thankful for.

Here are things I am thankful for:
the whole family
Mocha, Sparky, and Punkin
good health
the public library (and books in general!)
that my foot has healed so well