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Showing posts from November, 2013

Before The Parade Passes By

There are few things that clearly define Thanksgiving for me. 

There's football-particularly high school football.  From the time I was young, there was always some cousin, brother or son playing somewhere.  Games played on crisp autumn mornings with moms and cheerleaders wearing big pompom chrysanthemum corsages while turkeys roasted at home. The most popular members of the senior class being elected Homecoming King, Queen and their royal court.  In the blink of an eye, I went from wishing I was in high school, to being there, to ruefully looking back on those days. And it ticks me off that the big corsages went out of style before I ever got to wear one. 

There's the turkey of course. I remember the one my aunt dropped on the kitchen floor right out of the oven. My Mom blamed it on too many Pina Coladas until an MRI the following month showed an inoperable brain tumor. Her roast turkey recipe has remained, but we've added deep fried to the menu as well.

There are TV cla…

Holiday Procrastination


Dog park. Dog barks.


Computer noodling.

Help hapless knitter decrease a hat.

Talk to the nice tree crew and beg for mulch.

Shopping. Brussels sprouts, thank the gods. Corn starch. There will be berry pie.

Home - hey, there's mulch! Now I can shovel mulch.

Clean kitchen.

Drink tea.

Roll pie crust.

Make more pie crust.

Wrap pies.

Shovel mulch.

Sand trim.

Make dinner.

Goof around.

Good thing I'm pretty mellow about holidays - oh, shoot. I forgot to get knucklebones for the doggy knuckleheads for Thursday. I may have to go on a bike ride for that.

Transportable skills

Frosting cakes and repairing old damaged woodwork aren't all that different, fortunately. Tomorrow, I sand.

And roll pie crust, make more pie crust, and make and freeze pies and stuffing.

Maybe I'll buy a turkey, too.

Last one of the year

Life isn't always easy when you're the only boy in a family of girls. Add in being the last birthday of the year, after the excitement of Halloween and your always-dramatic only two years older sister's birthday, and Tor's birthday can sometimes feel a little ad-hoc.

Add in an aversion to chocolate in its purest forms, and well. . . what are you going to do?

Fortunately, this year boys from his class were available to play video games at a new arcade, his dad was willing to do party duty while I ran off to Oregon, and Smitten Kitchen can be counted on for fantastic cakes.

The Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake is a huge hit, because somehow the presence of peanut butter makes chocolate go from an "eeew" to a "yay!" The ganache was easy and fun, and it's a pretty cake. Lots of bang for a moderate effort, my kind of late in the year birthday effect.

With this one turned 12, only one more child still in single digits -- the time seems to be moving on pretty …

What Will Be Will Be

So next week starts my favorite time of the year.  Even though Thanksgiving isn't "my holiday" meaning I'm not hosting, cooking or decorating, it is the prelim for Christmas and all that is good about the shortest, coldest days of the year. Family.  Friends.  Carols.  Cooking and Baking.  Gifts for those I love.  I've already got the new replacement decorations lined up for changing from the brown and orange fall decor to greens, silvers and golds. Let the fun begin.

Wingman loved Thanksgiving because he loved good food and lots of it, but would turn into Ebenezer Scrooge the day after. I should have figured that the man who gave me a frying pan our first Christmas really didn't like the holidays the way I did. His only concession to enjoyment was watching Charlie Brown's Christmas once a season.  Last year, Thanksgiving was only four months after his passing.  I had Thanksgiving dinner with my parents, but wasn't asked to join the in-laws: everyone wa…

Rikki, Don't Lose That Number

I have a love/hate relationship with my phones. I admit it. And, of course, by "phones," I mean that one of them is a device that allows me to speak to and text friends and family, read and send emails instantly, and search the web for answers to any question that might pop into my mind. I don’t ever have to wait to get back to someone, while I check my Facebook and Pinterest pages or my blog stats on Blogspot. It’s all very convenient. Very efficient. Very cool. The other one just lets me talk which is, well...boring.

I am old enough to remember my Mom talking on the phone and yelling "Get off the line-I hate when you listen in on my calls!" referring to the little old Italian lady across the highway who we shared a party line with. Back then, the only time the phone was used was for emergencies and ordering a pizza on Friday nights.

Enter technology.  A private line and a phone cord so long I could close myself in the hall closet so my brothers and sister couldn&#…

In Matters of Dirt, Dirt Matters

The planting bed out front has purchased "garden soil" in it. It gets the same kind of watering as the back. It had broccoli and kale planted in it right about the same time as the back yard.

I think they look pretty anemic. While I'm sad about that, the plants in the back are giving me cause for optimism. Even though I routinely gripe about my colander garden soil, the work I've put in seems to have paid off. The back yard cole crops, in three different beds, look greener and larger.

Another interesting point is that the back yard plants have had some insect predation (just look at those broccoli leaves below) but they appear to be "fighting back" effectively, outgrowing the chewing of the cabbage moth caterpillars.

What I Did For Love

I am no different than every mother I know in what I've done-normal and not so normal-for my kids.  Let's pass over the stomach stretch marks that look like the road map of Cleveland I got in three pregnancies, especially from son #2 who weighed in at a whopping 10 pounds, 12 ounces at birth.  Forget the sagging breasts obtained nursing them.  Disregard the facial wrinkles and gray hair from worrying over every illness from jaundice at birth, bronchitis, scarlet fever, allergies and pneumonia, to the more serious Esophagitis, Appendicitis and Juvenile Diabetes.

I've done everything from being a school Room Mother, Art Mother and Cub Scout Den Mother to being a CCD teacher to save their moral souls. To let the youngest play soccer as a kindergartener, I signed up to be the assistant coach, and was subsequently harassed by a mother who yelled at me and once chased me off the field. (I never coached after that.)   I taught son #1 to drive a stick shift and #3 how to sneak out …

Long Term Decisions

A long time ago, I told myself that having birthdays in the family between Halloween and Thanksgiving would be "no big deal," and better certainly than between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Turns out, since Halloween is like the high holidays here, it isn't terrible, but it's also not super easy.

Until this year, when my OACAH (oldest available child at home) decided that a nice dinner out with her family would be a good way to celebrate. Less pressure, lots of fun, and that freed me up to concentrate on the parts of birthday celebrating I do enjoy.


Cake is the part I like.

Not just making cake, but looking up new cake recipes and considering them, and trying them out, and testing them, and everything else. So these late in the year birthdays are all about the cake. This one is The Celebration Cake from Bake it Like you Mean it, by Gesine Bullock-Prado.

I had help, too. Not just from the youngest child, who licked beaters, and the dogs, who tried to get at it, but my …

Our House is a Very, Very, Very Fine House

Last Saturday night, I held my first "dinner party" since Wingman died.  I only invited a few relatives, friends and neighbors.  The majority of my guest list was contractors, carpenters, painters and plumbers.  Any and all of the people that helped put my house back together after Sandy.  It was exactly one year ago that we started deconstructing the house, so it only seemed fitting that Saturday should be the day to celebrate the end.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to write about my storm experience.  I read online that people are getting tired of reliving Sandy; that they would prefer to put it all behind them. Honestly, so would I.  My friend and fellow blogger Amy sent me a link to a NY Times article about the stress of being widowed that had me counting up my score on the Holmes Rahe Life Stress Inventory guide. With a 500+ score BEFORE the storm, it said I was a great candidate for a breakdown. Really? Ya think??? Getting that reverse 911 call the day before Sandy about…