Tag Archives: family

Holidays and Family

I was read by Finland the other day, France yesterday. My husband is correct in that I cannot sit all day on a plane, all night on a train or spend hours in a rental car and cook and for days spend Thanksgiving day with his family given my current condition. I tripped on the pavement outside my favorite grocery store 2.5 weeks ago and still have sore spots and much bruising. Walking and swelling are issues.

There is more paperwork to do and not much time in which to do it. Last night, however, I wanted to do something I always did as a little kid. I hung and decorated a wreath for our front door, and also an evergreen (indoor) tree given by the women in my husband’s family to commemorate my father’s life. At the top is a silver star (no, not military, he left a sergeant in the mid-fifties) but it includes his name and year of birth, and death which was December 1 last year. I’ve yet to visit his grave in another locale but am planning it.

I wanted something old-school and my husband took it away from me to finish it. Cranberries and popcorn. The needle kept breaking the popcorn but he got the hang of something I learned at age four and now am inept. We just placed a 4′ swath along Dad’s tree.

We hung two jingle bell wreaths indoors, one gold, one red and white. Those only involved one of those sticky things that comes right off with no nails.

I mentioned paperwork to be done before morning arrives. The reason we decorated for the holidays is because my husband feels guilty for my being alone for Thanksgiving. I’m not alone, I’ve old dog Zoe and a lot of neighbors.  Know how Welsh Rarebit/Rabbit has no meat? I’m making a chickducken with no duck. Let’s call it a pigchicken. Just a piece of prosciutto and a bit of grated Fontina from the Val d’Aosta, chicken pounded and rolled up with sage, teensy but of salt, and pepper. My husband usually leaves us all week, every week. He just minds us being alone when we could be with his family. If I am to be alone with my feet up on a sofa or bed all weekend I would rather spend it at our home rather than hear family talking and having fun than have them worrying about me. Don’t worry, I’ll make three pigchckens and freeze two for when he returns.

I’ve told you about the mentorships of women including my aunts, my husbands’ mother, grandmother and others. Here are some men and you know all about my husband already. Yes, he is one and I hope I am one for him as well.

S is not doing well, he has cancer and is going in for further tests today. Needless to say the family, especially his mother, our “Nanny” is concerned. My father was my primary influence in life and he died a year ago, I still keep flowers for him every week.

My father-in-law has been an inspirational challenge over many years. He no longer baits me with politics at the dinner table while his two sons remain quiet. I must have passed the test. And no, I did not personally start the Civil War, not what the South calls the War of Northern Aggression to this day. Younger brother-in-law, that was rocky. He now calls me “sis.”

I’ve two on the west coast, work-wise. They’ve been mentors for over 20 years and we keep in touch. Another from the ‘hood, W, gone now, who didn’t have to ever tell me that the Diet Coke and candy bar place down the street sold booze and I should always carry my Diet Coke so people could see it, not in a paper bag, at 8:00 a.m. walking to the office.

My brother, K. was such a challenge as a child. We were raised in different eras. My sister and I were bound to rules from Dad’s Germanic heritage. He and my youngest sister had a lot more leeway. He chose to break from all authority. I used to drive by him skipping Camp. They were sailing. What was he doing? Playing chess with an old guy.

Brother and I both think outside the box. He’s got the math genes and has acquired the artsy and tech ones. I’m good with people and also come up with some great ideas, outside the box to be sure. I don’t know how many peas are in a pod because I’ve not shelled English peas in a while, but I believe we would be there together. Cheers! Happy Thanksgiving. Dee

 

 

Missing

One person is not necessarily missed in a group of up to sixty for Thanksgiving, though I would know, and Nanny would, too. I will miss the big gathering that I’ve attended for 15 of 16 years (the first was when my husband’s employer would not let anyone miss work for Black Friday). Cousins revel in Black Friday sales. I have never gone with them since then. I don’t like shopping, especially for shoes, and hated that day.

My husband does not think I am well enough to take planes and cars and cook with his mother (which I love, but it’s gotten to five days), I’m sending nuts and a gift this year. I can’t even do standing around for ten hours at Nanny’s. I do not wish to carry a foldable cane and lie on a sofa or bed all day. My brain is there but my body is not, yet.

I will miss everyone dearly. As we all get older we marvel at the young ones who’ve grown six inches and want nothing to do with us, and the young adults who are looking towards marriage and family. We also have wise family members who can teach us much about life, love and practical matters.

Awake in the middle of the night, I get up, close the door for my family’s sake and try to keep quiet. Of late I’ve been on Netflix and The Mind of a Chef. Edward Lee, for whom I cheered on Top Chef a few years ago, said in show filmed in 2014 and I paraphrase, that he likes to learn something new and teach something new every week.

This is what wise people do, pass down knowledge that they have gained through success and errors. Another mentor said life was about “goods and betters,” what we could do better the next time around. There are no failures.

My husband and I are at that stage, and I know that I’ve had mentors all my life and have been one to younger children even when I was just a kid. Learn from books, learn ethics and fairness and non-discrimination and you’re on your way. Know that caring for others is a way of life that must be embraced. If one does not care about a life, that’s how sociopaths and serial killers are made.

While I learned through arts and literature, work, volunteerism; my husband learned from math, science and hard work on a farm. He is a wonderful mentor, teacher, and a premier software resource for some of the best companies in the world. I just went back to Edward Lee and changed the text from “who I cheered for” to “for whom I cheered.” That was for mentor Aunt L, the retired English teacher. I can see her reading this and actually stopping her knitting hats and booties for the preemies at the hospital to which I was sent as an infant. Yes, she’s a volunteer and buys all the yarn, too. Cheers! Dee

Talking About…

Food. Yes, food.I was eight. All my younger siblings and cousins were doing cannonballs off the diving board at mid-point, to be determined, between our residences.

I was with the adult ladies discussing what to do for the next meal and who would prepare what dish.

Years later, Dad said “all you wanted to talk about was food.” “Dad, all you wanted to talk about was work.”

Why food? I met a lady this morning who grew up along the Mississippi River and ate whole hog, shrimp & grits, corn and potatoes and she has kin up north who keep up the hog fest up to this day in the yard.

Food brings people together. It solidifies families and makes new friends. Yes, if someone purposely treats me badly, I can have an acid tongue for a moment but that passes. I would rather bring folks together than tear them apart. Many years ago I and my boss were voted last to be by the punch bowl at the end of an office party. It was my punch bowl! Of 62 people on staff I was the only one with a punch bowl and ladle.

I had to dispense of the punch in the restroom sink, rinse the bowl and trek it home to wash. Why? because it made my extended work family feel like family. When not planning or doing, I feel like a geek at these events because I’m new and don’t know anyone in the room. Having a family atmosphere makes everyone feel comfortable.

Our living complex includes a revolving door. It is, for residents. Someone you met last week may be gone this week. We have pro athletes, doctors, et al. They have parties to reward us for being residents. Staff wear name pins. I’ve asked for cheap name tags for first names because I can’t remember the lady I met once while picking up a package.

Better yet, if you’ve a dog, add that as well. I’m more than likely to remember the dog’s name. “Sandra/Buddy” would work for me.  Dee/Zoe says “Oh, Zoe loves Buddy!”

Dad never understood my preoccupation with food, thought it foolish. I never did. In later years he did learn to cook Italian food and took pleasure in it. I did other things with my life, used my brain to help others instead of brain and hands. My husband was quite thin when I met and married him. His grandmother was worried about him in the hands of another woman. A year later, she saw him and said “I see you’re being fed well.” He can make spaghetti and meatballs but still not a grilled cheese sandwich “Oh, so that’s how you do it!” Really? Cheers! Dee

Loving You

That was an old song I never cared for. I do care for my family, for this piece just my immediate family with whom I live, day in and day out.

My husband is brilliant, and knows everything including physics, software development, farm equipment and wood-splitting. He is kind but not effusive, hard-working and hard headed and not likely to say he’s sorry for anything, but he spoils our old dog like crazy.

Speaking of Zoe, she is kind to all (including cats that do not run) and wants to be next to us and herd us or play fetch with Precious, her only toy that is indestructible. She does not wish to sit on our laps but wants to be a couple of feet away so we can’t go anywhere without her knowledge. Yes, an old herder, though years ago she became afraid of two baby goats!

I have been accepted into my husband’s growing family, as has Zoe in a farming culture that does not allow dogs in the house. Now she is a member of their loving family as well, and stands on my father-in-law’s place on the sofa awaiting his return from feeding the cattle. She also picks up anything that drops on the floor during my mother-in-law’s and my cooking marathon for days before every Thanksgiving.

When we drive there as I turn on the long road to the Ranch she pops her head up from her 4″ orthopedic bed and knows our destination. Food and family.

That’s how we roll. I cooked some St. Louis style ribs last night, Alton Brown style, with a rub inspired by Jeanne Voltz, with salt, pepper, sugar and smoked paprika. My dear husband grilled the ribs for five minutes after I cooked them covered in a low oven for 90 minutes and I brushed on a hint of BBQ sauce that had a bit of bourbon in it. I also made a fresh radicchio salad with an organic ranch-style sauce, and we had a few root veggie chips.

I love my family! Dee

 

Slowing Down

I have due to arthritis, now our dog is doing so as well. Her right front leg is getting a tiny bit lame or shaky during a long walk. My hips are worse so I miss those long walks she takes with my husband when he is home.

Don’t worry, I am not anywhere near to a having a disabled parking spot! I try and do walk seven blocks to my grocery store, 14 total blocks, three times per week. The more I walk, the better I am, even though my legs hurt and I have to lie down for 20 minutes. I can take Zoe around the block early morning when it’s cooler and we enjoy the walk.

My parents are gone and I’m the eldest and most frail so I am next. College friends, professors and mentors have gone. Do I wish to go? Absolutely not. I’ve work to do here and a little arthritis isn’t going to get me down. An old chiropractor marveled at my tolerance for pain… he’s the one that when I said I had a new car wanted to go out to the lot and see it. He wouldn’t let me tell him what it was and guessed it would be a fancy car and picked out a couple of cars. No, it was a new Army Jeep, 4WD, stick.

He was so excited and surprised at me, he asked if he could drive it, “of course!” My tolerance for pain came in when I needed to drive it to a client 100 miles away and back, same day. No A/C, hot weather, plastic windows and nothing with which to cushion my back or butt. Now that hurt. Plus my hair got messed up for a client meeting that usually lasted three hours before I could drive home.

Dad recently died and spent several years flying to cities that had facilities for his cancers. He spent most of his time at doctor appointments and scans and surgeries and other invasive procedures. I do not wish to start this now, or ever. I am young and strong and have work to do. Please, let me do it. Dee

 

Two Incidents

Forget that, let’s make it three. My dog of nearly 12 years ate dinner off my plate while I was eating. That is unacceptable.

Then a neighbor tried to give back a collar from a teething pup I’ve taken care of and I’ve bite marks and blood all over my arms and hands.

Then I saw a huge dog that has grown at least 6″ taller and 20 lbs. bigger since a couple of days before Christmas. I want to send a silly note about what was done with the dog I once knew because he’s HUGE!

He saw “Aunt Dee” in the elevator, laid down on his side and gave me his tummy to pet. Sir W is a patriot, a gentleman, and an all-around good dog. Bully for his owners. They’ve a lifetime of grooming ahead of them but that’s OK. Our neighbor is younger and needs a bit more training to stop biting Aunt Dee. It’s OK, they’re working on it.

We’ll be married a long time this month and I hope to have an understated event next anniversary because we eloped. My husband asked about kids and I said we had to get a dog first to find out how bad he is. We got Zoe 12 years ago, he was so bad, spoiling as he would with a daughter before she started dating. I was unable to have children so it’s just us and Zoe. That’s the way it is, as would Walter Cronkite say after giving the Vietnam war death toll each day. My father-in-law was in the service at the time and disputes those numbers because he saw the coffins. He doesn’t talk about it. I am not in a place to ask. Cheers, hail to the people who keep us safe from harm. Dee

 

 

Dinner

This is what I thank my parents for, a family tradition. Dinner at the table every evening. A square meal with a home-made dessert.

Everyone told about their day and what we learned. Dinner began about ten minutes after Dad walked in the door and got changed. In high school I got in trouble because gymnastics practice sometimes took three hours after school and I was late. I had to stay. I was the captain, after all.

We always had to ask to be excused from the table to do homework. Dad always had funny excuses when we were little, like “No, you can’t put your teddy bear in the oven!”

It was not scripted, but it was. A family eating one meal a day with each other, sharing stories. Perhaps that is why I share stories with you. When my husband is in town we share breakfast and dinner every day. Not necessarily at a table. At some point we avoid work and budget discussions and talk about other things.

Last night I made a roast chicken, nearly 4 pounds, with salt, pepper, thyme. Around it were wedges of Yukon Gold potatoes with garlic and herbs, nearly the last of my in-home garden. Also sauteed arugula. It was good and half the chicken is left for today. Perhaps it will become an arugula, chicken and apple or Satsuma tangerine salad. We’ll see. I’m always open to suggestions. Oh, perhaps the last of the sun-dried tomatoes from the Italian shop down the way.

Yesterday I took the meat off some chicken breasts, cut it up and mixed it with mayo and some apple (Kiku) and placed it on toasted wheat bread for my dear.

Family is important. I try to get all my work done so I can spend weekends with my husband. We now enjoy oatmeal for breakfast with low-fat vanilla yogurt and berries. Dinner is whatever my heart desires. No, not surf and turf. It’s skirt steak, pork or chicken. Texas chili, the true stuff, 1962 Pedernales chili (no beans) from LBJ’s ranch, party of 500. My version.

Many families I know get food when they walk in the door, alone. No family dinner. I believe that is a mistake of grand proportions. Yes, I got in trouble for being late for good reason, but we all sat together and it made us better people for doing so. Cheers! Dee

Places

Places I’ve lived, visited, places made and changed my life.

I was born in one state and lived there, except for a few years, until age 29. At least 12 places that included babyhood, childhood, school, college, and work.

Another state with two residences in middle school and high school. Another with two residences as an adult. Another state, two residences with my husband.

Another state for a few years with my husband and dog. Yet another for a few years with both dear ones.

That’s about 20 homes in my life. Oh, I must include one posting overseas. That makes it 21.

Visiting will take longer. I just wrote my grade school principal (they sent an email) and thanked him for the base of my education and my excellent teachers, mainly in music and math, and general education, people who inspired me to be smart and not be shy and sit in the back of the classroom.

I believe it is important to thank the people who shaped your life, parents, teachers, mentors. ‘Tis the season. Dee

ps Years ago I bought this hand-made door hanger with a moose, a bear and an evergreen tree. My husband hates it. This morning I went to storage and found our stockings and two jingle bell wreaths for the inside and outside of our front door. He is so glad I got rid of the moose! (shhhh, it is in our closet awaiting repatriation after Spring and July 4……)

pps It was difficult to be a girl and be seen to be smart those days, or be more successful than a boy in any athletic endeavor. It was probably tough for guys as well as they were A/V and seen as geeks. Small school, everyone tried to fit in. Luckily I had teachers who egged me on, and we keep in touch.

 

Weddings

Fourteen years ago my now husband threw me into his family’s Thanksgiving pool for 12 hours and didn’t come and see me once. There were sixty people and I was bait.

Two ladies came up to me, M and S, and asked if I would go with my boyfriend (fiance but no-one knew because we had to meet all the parents) to a new city. I was wise enough to say, “that depends upon my last name.” I tried to keep my last name but gave in.

M’s eldest daughter is getting married. I remember teaching her and her cousin cooking classes when they were kids. First time we met, her cousin looked at my shoes and said “Nanny has shoes like that.” Sassy. K was shy and kind. I always thought she had big thoughts she didn’t share.

I’ve a beef with the future husband. Two, actually. There will still be 50-60 at Thanksgiving but he hasn’t run the gauntlet I did. Interviews with Nanny and my husband’s parents. And as a guy he’ll never have to make a pie or wash dishes. He’s immune because he’s a guy, so he gets to watch the Game. The Game, Aggies. Well, there’s a third. My husband’s cousins M and S put him down their laundry chute once. I think we have to rent out their old house for an hour and place the new husband down the chute. Come on, the gals who bake, cook, make 100 dishes for Thanksgiving then clear plates and do all the dishes then make you leftovers six hours later and do those dishes deserve something!

Sorry my little M. Bride to be, very soon. I wish you and your husband everything for a wonderful life. And we’ll try to be kind on Thanksgiving. In praise of marrige, its freedoms and restraints. Dee

Fear

My husband was gone over half a year for work last year and our dog Zoe got used to it. Now he’s home and traveling. She doesn’t like the travel part as he’s the “fun guy.”

I took her out mid-day today and when I was in the midst of my medical routine she stared at me. She’d just gone out and done “everything” two hours before. I thought she wanted her toy or my attention.

It seems that my husband’s leaving with a suitcase is “routine” now (she’s a herder, an Aussie mix) and he left tonight with no suitcase. I took some time for myself and was in the tub and when I came out, she’d left a few drops on the floor but peed all over her bed, which is outside and will be at the cleaner’s tomorrow as it’s too large for our washing machine.

There is a lot going on with our family, and us. I need to make sure our dog Zoe does not suffer from any fear and stress. I know she did not have to make a little mess, but she’s a smart, herding dog and is trying to get us all together. There are health issues, work stress et al and she’s just letting us know to do better.

She’s getting older. She doesn’t have #1 “accidents.” She went on her bed on purpose. It was to send us a message. With my love for shelter animals, Dee