Category Archives: Family

What’s In a Name?

Permit me to expand on the theme of the state of women in the US of A. I was forty when I met my husband. After leaving home at age 17, the only roommates I had were in college and for a few years thereafter so I was used to being on my own and making my own decisions. Where to live, what to eat for dinner, whether to adopt yet another rescue animal (I hear you, I never had more than three at a time).

Two weeks ago, we celebrated twenty years of marriage. I’ve no beef on this issue with my husband and am thrilled to have met him by chance and married my best friend of all time. But everything changed around me. When he “popped the question” I said yes. We decided together to elope, that week. Returning from our weekend honeymoon, I asked if I should keep my name. He was devastated.

Deciding to take his name I had to change everything from bank accounts to, well, everything. I felt for the first time that I was losing myself. I insisted, whenever we moved, to have certain utilities in my name and some in his. All our cars, residences, and things we had to register are jointly owned. Our business is equally held, even though I don’t work in it, except as an unpaid advisor. We’re still working out wills and end-of-life decision paperwork, but know what we want in that regard.

Two weeks ago I scraped the passenger side of my car coming up a narrow ramp in the grocery store I’ve driven by hundreds of times without incident. Oops. I drove home, assessed the damage and told my husband, then filed a claim with our insurance company. No, I did not call the police as I lightly scraped a concrete bollard designed for that purpose that had been scraped thousands of times by other cars making my same error.

The insurance adjuster called and asked for my husband. You can talk to me, I said. It’s my car and I was in the accident. Next time the insurance company called they asked me how my husband was. I said fine. He wasn’t in the car. I was. Me and the dog. Finally I think it’s straightened out. We’ll find out soon, as my husband will be out of town on business when the car is fixed and who knows if they expect him to drop off the car and get the rental, et al.

I can understand health rules and HIPAA constraints, but if banks, insurance companies and businesses in general refuse to deal with “just the wife” we’re in trouble as a country. That’s why I believe that all these questions concerning a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body have little to do with abortion, but about the state’s desire to control women.

It took until the 1960’s for a woman to be able to open a bank account in her own name. I did so shortly after that was a possibility, and I don’t want to go back. I love being Mrs. X, but I am a person in my own right. Once my legitimacy as a person is questioned, it makes it easier for those who would have control of my life, to get it.

Think about that next time the mechanic calls and asks for your husband to discuss the repairs to your car. When we recently moved, the electric company told me our address doesn’t exist. It took two days to work it out (it included a hyphen no-one knew about) but in our household that’s my job, doing the bills, so I dealt with it.

When I got in an accident a few years ago and was in a long-term coma, my husband became my legal guardian. Finally home from the hospital, a lawyer called for a court hearing that had been scheduled for a few days hence, unbeknownst to us. My husband was out of town on business. They had to speak with my husband about his wife’s continued care and whether the State would become her guardian. My guardian. The lawyer came to visit, pronounced me sane and able to care for myself, and the court hearing was cancelled. It was the most consequential day of my life, and I handled the situation, without my husband. He was proud of me. As a matter of fact, I believe he handed me back bill-paying duties that day. C’est la vie!

Be your own person. Stand up for your rights, and don’t mess with the rights of others. That’s my motto. Cheers! Dee


Conundrums, Copyrights and Spinach

Thank you US, Canada, France and New Zealand, Scotland, Korea and everyone who has read this blog. Let’s start with spinach. My husband arrived last night after a long weekend with his family. I was to ill to go with, so stayed home with the dog.

I made a wonderful dinner and asked if he wanted spinach. No. I took two endives out of the frig, sauced them with his favorite, bottled ranch dressing (I would have made another vinaigrette from scratch). He loved it. The conundrum (word of the day) is why would one not like spinach cooked briefly in olive oil and garlic and topped with parm, and like raw endive? It’s a stronger vegetable, probably better for him but not according to Popeye.

We have a shootout at the Not OK Corral this week. Both want a new Sheriff in town. Both want sole rights to everything the new Sheriff has done before. It’s called intellectual property. Forever, birth to death even with a short-term contract. That’s a no go for me. Been there, done that, and I’m his Annie Oakley, word-wise sharp with a pen, not a gun.

I’m a smart gal and know that if the Sheriff has offered to share ownership of his prior published work that’s a great deal for the client because he has 100% ownership rights now, and a book that has been published. It is printed and bound and on the table. Before they hire him they want the rights.

I have one word, copyright.

We’re in the holiday season and things shut down, People talk about giving thanks, but they leave people who have gone through their rigamarole for months at risk of him leaving for a better offer. One can hire the smart guy but not hijack or harness his mind.

I learned in high school not to date the cute guy, or the jock, just date the fellow smart one. It took years of my inner geek to find my soul mate. He arrived last night, and walked the dog while I finished dinner. No spinach. Marrying the smart guy means we can have lifelong conversation. Over sixteen years, fifteenth wedding anniversary soon. Cheers! Dee



That goes in the arena of culinary mishaps. I’ve made a few major gaffes, especially before I got a culinary degree.

My cousin will never let me live down the uncooked “roasted” chicken I made him in a tiny apartment stove/oven. The pilot light went out and the skin looked gorgeous but the meat was raw. I re-lit the pilot, carved the chicken and sauteed it until done on the two-burner stove. Decades later he tells my siblings “your sister tried to kill me.”

I was living and working on the east coast and my family moved out west. I went to visit for the holidays and decided to cook them dinner from a very famous cookbook. The Bolognese sauce included 1/8 tsp. of cloves. I served the dinner and everyone said “cloves.” I made up my recipe from then on and have had no complaints, even when I make Moussaka and use cinnamon. Ok, that’s an error as well as I made it for guests so I could make it in advance so we could enjoy said guests. My husband hates eggplant. I’ve not made it since but am thinking of making it with zucchini as the “pasta” layers rather than grilled eggplant.

Mom and I went to a farmers’ market before I was married. I found this lovely little plant called Thai Chili. I was visiting family again and making a chicken chili, still before cooking school. I didn’t have an idea then as to Scoville Units, like Jalapeno is 3,000 – 5,000 and Habanero is about 300,000. Now ghost peppers are way out there.

I used 1/4 of what was in the recipe and no-one could eat it. For the next day or two I put in potatoes, carrots, everything but the kitchen sink but it was inedible. No, I didn’t give it to my former dog, she would have died right then and there.

Given one French and one Italian cooking school, I’ve not made grave errors since. There are actually successes and folks like my food. They actually say “Dee’s a chef.” I wouldn’t go so far, I’m a good cook that likes to cook for my family and entertain sometimes (when my husband doesn’t ask can we have so-and-so come over in 1/2 hour)?

Unless someone he knows and likes regularly comes over to see what I’m making for dinner, that’s a no, dear. I’m known to pick 5-6 cookbooks to open on my bed to come up with a menu. Then there are lists and shopping and prep. No, dear. Cheers and happy cooking! Dee


Nearly 30 years ago I quit my job and went to cooking school, spending my lifetime savings on school, two Henckels knives (10″ chef and 4″ paring) and a Kitchenaid mixer.

A few weeks ago my husband decided to sharpen his favorite knife for cutting apples, the parer. When I used it to cut something for dinner, I sliced open my thumb. Nasty, deep cut. I had a Nexcare bandage on it for weeks while it healed and my skin peeled away in layers from the adhesive.

Guess what? My right thumb is the signature for me to log into my cell phone! I couldn’t get in at all. The other day my husband prompted my phone to re-scan my thumb print. I still can not get in, except via a six digit code.

I never thought this kind of thing could happen, and asked him not to sharpen any of my many knives again. Just to cut an apple a day? Please. I cook three meals per day.

Today is Beef Carbonnade. Beef, onions, bacon and beer. Saute bacon and remove. Saute the onion and remove. Cut up chuck steak and dredge in seasoned flour. Add everything back to the pot. I am using a new local microbrew to come halfway up. Braise on low on the stove or in a slow oven for 1.5 to 3 hours. Serve over egg noodles. Yum. Eat well, Dee


My aunts are retired English teachers. No, we moved before I had them in “class” but I was in class all my life. When I used the “loo” I had to look at the dictionary, find a word I did not know, spell it, define it and use it in a sentence.

Learning to read at age four I read Romeo and Juliet, and Hamlet, at another school but these were the teachers I wanted to be. Second grade (I was a year early) I was reading The Diary of Anne Franke and Death Be Not Proud. It was a hobby, and a mission.

Years ago someone took me to dinner with a psychic. She told me I was going to be a teacher. I was a teacher of non-profit organizations for years, help my husband consulting with huge corporations and do my best with pups in our neighborhood.

I’m not a renowned English teacher that teaches Shakespeare, the Holocaust, or of Native Americans. I am and will always be a teacher. Dee, Retired but still volunteering. D


I would not ever use them on my family or our dog, who is probably the most spoiled canine on the planet. Or cheat on our food, except a frozen Friday Night Pizza from the convenience store so when his plane arrives I can have the oven heating. Flights from the West Coast are notoriously late or cancelled, I make excellent dough and pizza but I’m not going to get up at 11 p.m. to make the dough (Italian OO flour) and prepare the toppings. Dog Zoe and I are in bed by then.

My husband wants to use highways, paid or toll-free, to get everywhere. He says they’re faster but they’re usually clogged with traffic and I don’t normally drive more than two miles a day.

He’s off at work for the day or week or month and I need groceries, his dry cleaning and more. We move to a new city and I have to learn my way around. This was before GPS and what he calls “Google Girl.”

I find back streets to take me to the grocery. He tells me I’m “sneaky.” I show him the way and he takes it! Way to go, Dee!

Don’t tell him, but I also try to add veggies and fiber to his diet. Sneaky, yes. Just clean a pile of radishes or peel a jicama and make a salad with apple and vinaigrette. Those are not really shortcuts.

We spent nearly a year to get our Zoe to adopt a food and she has, for nearly 14 years. I never take shortcuts on that, except to make sure her tummy can take the raw food dry version for car trips as no-one will sell us dry ice here to keep her frozen raw food good during travel. I usually have it delivered every few weeks. She loves M, who takes it to our door and tells a story while he pets her. Some shortcuts are good! Dee

Processed Cheese Slices

Yes, when Mom cared to make me a sandwich for lunch in grade school a slice was usually my sandwich, with bread. Perhaps there was bologna involved, which I took off.

I was never allowed to have individually wrapped slices because that was a waste of money. Now, decades later, every once in a while I’ve a childhood taste memory for a grilled cheese sandwich with individually wrapped slices of childhood cheese.

Last night we had great burgers on the grill and I said I was going to place a slice of horrible, individually wrapped cheese on top of mine with sliced tomato and baby greens. My husband hates the stuff but loves my childhood memories so asked for a slice of cheese as well. That’s why I love him. He always surprises me. Enjoy the day! Dee


We get to do things for people. Share meals after a prayer. There are five grandchildren, plus me, an honorary. My husband is the eldest male grand and is his father now is the eldest living son. I only say this in an informational context.

I would like, as a perpetrator of the “war of Northern aggression” to retain tradition. No, J, I was not alive in 1860 to wage war on the South. I would like to retain what is now my family and its traditions. Most of my family is gone now, both parents. Yes, we are from the North but our families share roots in Europe.

What do we do? Bring games for the kids who are getting too old to like them. The boys play football now. We don’t set up this outdoor game, measured boundaries, for nothing. I’m there to help, then cheer on the kids. Both sides. That’s what grands do, cheer for great-grands and further. Thank you, Nanny! Dee


Yes, I am female. I do not like shopping. When a girlfriend asks me to go shoe shopping I’ll do it as a friend for her wedding, but that’s it. I have short, wide feet that simply do not fit stilettos or sandals. As I age I believe I’ve 10 pair of Crocs and that is my choice. Wash & wear, like me, until the tread goes. Yes, winter boots, too.

Every five years two families got together for Dad’s birthday. I missed the first in Bali. His 70th was a sailing yacht out of Greece, tracing the steps of Odysseus. My brother used the Roman name because the voyage sounded better as “Chasing Ulysses.” My brother had time to write on board as he was very ill, having punctured an eardrum early on, under water.

I bought swimsuits, one-piece full coverage with wraps, Ralph Lauren et al. I was informed that only rubber-soled shoes were allowed on board. I bought plenty. I didn’t need any. For $4 I bought Greek leather sandals and what everyone did was walk onto the ship, take them off, toss them in a large basket and walk around barefoot. We even learned Greek dancing and I identified and pronounced all of the mezedes (appetizers) at Dad’s birthday party. Everyone was amazed and all I could say was that I’m a cook, that’s how I learn what I do.

I also bought a lot of serapes for $2 apiece which is good because to go to a Greek Orthodox church one must be covered. I brought enough for all the gals (cover your legs, cover your arms, place one over your head) to pass the censor who sits outside the Church and decides who will be allowed to see said church. I dressed appropriately to begin with, as that is what the eldest “child” does.

Back to swimsuits. I spent $500 on two swimsuits, showed up in one with a skirt, a Ralph Lauren, and greeted Dad on the aft deck. Seventy years old. He was wearing a purple bikini Speedo! Yo, Dad!!!

The last one is sad. We were supposed to sail down the Rhine and Mosel rivers from Amsterdam to Basel for his 85th birthday. I bought tour books and a bunch of clothes and Crocs for what would have been a wonderful trip.

Dad was too sick to go. He urged all of us to go anyway and I said “Dad, it’s your birthday, it would not be right to go without you.” He died eight weeks later. I got to see him for four long days and we told stories. He was very ill but his mind was sharp. At one point he asked how it was when my mother died. I never got to finish that story. I think he was awaiting death and learning how to make amends.

Before Thanksgiving I told my brother I was cancelling Nanny and my husband’s parents and coming to see Dad. He said “no, he is no longer the man you knew, the father you knew.”

His funeral was a few days later. I was suitably dressed in black in some of the comfy shirts, pants and Crocs I had purchased for the trip we never took. He still is with me every day, giving me guidance on everything but dog training! He was good at a lot of things, including parenting, but dogs, no way. Cheers, love your family and friends, as all I have are clothes, shoes and memories. Dee

ps Wait, Dad, you’re gone and now my favorite store here has been bought out and de-branded. It was two blocks away, the clothing and people were great and I’d love to have it as a designer loft. How am I to buy clothes and shoes every five years without your birthday? I guess it’s a “save the date” moment.

pps I’ve already designed the loft.


Prior Engagement

I can’t go on a trip with my husband because I’ve a prior commitment. We were looking forward to it. I had my dates wrong.

Dreams of museums swam through my head. He would have no time to spend with me, but I could have seen my brother. I haven’t seen him for over eight months, since Dad’s funeral.

Last night when I told him I couldn’t be there he said it was OK. I told him I wanted to see him and have pastrami and he said no can do. So I’ve researched it and it’s a “can do.” Perhaps if we plan it I can spend two days and we can do our museums and deli. We’ll see, Dee