Another New Year

So….2016 is careening to the start line with the speed of water finally boiling in a pot. I’m still in “two weeks before Christmas mode”, so to know that New Year’s Eve and Day are so close is a little mind-boggling. I just want to know HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN SO FAST? lol

At any rate, New Year’s Eve will be friends and merriment again, just a week after Christmas Eve (also full of friends and merriment). You never can get enough of that. But growing up, with just my mom, grandma and I, the festivities were more sedate and tranquil. I was always told I could stay up to midnight (mom and grandma knew fully well I’d last maybe, until 9:00). Grandma had a couple of friends from the “old country” that would stop by, and mom would have friends from General Telephone where she was a ship-to-shore operator come over (if we were living in California on that particular New Year’s Eve). The alcohol of choice was a good bottle of Manischewitz wine and a few bottles of Miller High Life beer (the Champagne of beers, dontcha know). Our much loved, little black and white 10 inch screen Admiral TV would be tuned to our traditional New Year’s Eve show….Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians filmed at the Waldorf Astoria in NY….(oh how grandma coveted that guy LOL) playing all the happy dance music that brought you into the holiday mood. The ladies made many comments about what the women on the screen were wearing in New York at that time (“she looks like a cow in that thing”…”what is she wearing???”…”oh that’s so lovely, wonder if we can find that here???”….”look at her date, very handsome…looks too good for her!”….and grandma’s “ach himmel!! Shikza!” (and mind you, we weren’t Jewish, but mom and grandma were Czech Catholic with many Jewish friends, and lots of Jewish terms were also Czech and Polish terms too, so grandma made her points by using Yiddish words for impact lol) Then the channel would be switched to the Lawrence Welk New Year’s Eve Dance Party, which was filmed not to far from us in Santa Monica at the Aragon Ballroom in Venice Beach. Once Lawrence was on, all talk went to how people danced “look at her ankles! How does she stand upright?” to “Look! She’s leading! HAHHHAHH!!!” At that point grandma would grab her friend, Angela, and the two would dance into the kitchen as we laughed and sang and had a great “girls New Year’s Eve”. I was soon out like a light, waking up in my bed first thing in the morning. The apartment was quiet except for grandma putting together our New Year’s Day meal in the kitchen, and mom leafing through page after page of her “movie magazines”, Photoplay and Silver Screen. Soon the aroma of onions and garlic on a thick and juicy pork roast wafted throughout the place, promising another fantastic holiday meal from grandma. The pork roast was (and still is) traditional on New Year’s Day for us, and this year I’m going one step further and making Semmelknoedel (bread dumplings) to go with the rich, pork gravy and sauteed, sweet/sour red cabbage.

Amazing how food represents milestones and memories, family and friends. It truly is nourishment for the body and the soul as well. The preparation is work…but work well spent. Happy New Year!

Turkeys are Comin’ HoorayHooray

Thanksgiving 2015 is coming so fast I don’t want to blink!  I might find myself waking up to a Christmas morning!  It will be here next week, and while I have most of the things ready for guests, there are still some ‘must-haves’ we’ll get over the weekend.  I’m lucky to have a daughter-in-law who is a wonderful cook.  I’ll be doing the bird and stuffing, a pie, some other goodies, and she’ll do all the vegetable sides and in-between knoshes.  Found the baster, know where the huge electric roaster is (such a huge help when you only have one oven!)  On the day before Turkey Day, I’ll do the baking and dice the celery, onions and prepare the giblets that will make up the age-old sage stuffing recipe I grew up with.  The aroma of turkey…it’s right up there with the fresh scent of a Christmas tree brought in for the first evening of the Christmas holiday.

I was raised by my mom and grandma since my dad was an Army career man.  He’d come home on leave, than after a few days, off he’d go.  But even so, I had a wonderful childhood, all thanks to the two women who loved me to pieces.

Grandma cooked and cleaned our apartment while mom worked her Ship-to-Shore operator position at General Telephone.  I remember when grandma would take over the turkey roasting. She’d unwrap the meat grinder like it was a prized possession. We didn’t use it all the time.  But when she did, it was taken apart, scoured and cleaned, air dried, then wrapped in a couple of linen towels and put away. It always looked like new. Grandma had been the lead chef in the Hotel Prague a couple of years before Hitler’s advancement into  Czechoslovakia.  When an opportunity came to leave Prague and take my mother (then only 5 or 6) to the Bavarian Alps, she took it with her when she left.  So it was a real treasure to her. I laugh now when I think back about how I would sit up on the kitchen chair, get close, and watch all the giblet “sausage” stuff come out the end.  I’d watch her put the grinding mechanisms together and bolt it onto the end of the kitchen table.  Out of nowhere would come the shout “geh weg!! dostat se pryč!!!!” Get away in German had to be followed by Get Away in Czech since she didn’t think I’d get it the first time and I spoke both languages.  What’s so funny is….if she could see me stick my finger into the smasher, wouldn’t she know enough to stop turning the crank??  It was all manual…no techno stuff in those days!  Now I plug in my little Ninja chopper, fill the cup a few times, screw on the lid, and pulse away to lovely diced bits of giblet.  Grandma would be so jealous.

But still….nothing could compare to the golden brown behemoths she’d roast and worry over all day long.  They say you remember things that seem better, bigger, tastier and more fragrant as you get older.  I don’t think so.  I know they were.  Happy Thanksgiving all!

When It Doesn’t Mean Zero Guns

So…why is it that the US is constantly doing things to make them the laughing stock of the world? Take gun reform…please. Now, first let me say, that most of us who are anti-guns are not….I repeat NOT…wanting gun lovers to never again be able to pull a trigger. After all, you never know when our country will be over run with space aliens or a military coup, or our homes broken into by whatever bad guy that guns are meant to protect us from (never mind that an intelligent gun owner will have his weapon locked away, in which case they would hope the miscreant would allow them time to get out of bed….run to the cabinet, find the keys or try to remember the combination, bring out the weapon and load it, then aim and hopefully not shoot the wife, husband or the family dog). Just what is it that makes the NRA and gun owners in general SO freakin’ afraid of stricter gun laws??? Is it that they’re afraid they won’t pass stringent background checks that will cover mental health issues? I can hear it now..”dang, I need that Glock! I can’t help it if I committed a felony because the voices in my head said to do that!” Are they worried they’ll have to wait the 60 or 90 days to find out if they can own a gun (as in European and Asian countries that enjoy a minimal amount of shootings)? Is it that employers, spouses, family members and neighbors would be notified that you now own a gun as in Japan? Oh wait….could it be because you resent being told on what size and type of weapon you want to own? You see…to kill an intruder you need to use an AK something or other that has the ability to dump 200 rounds into maybe, a 180 lb frame. It takes a special kind of idiot who will leave weapons where children can find them, and unfortunately, use them with pretty decent accuracy…so it must be the fear of knowing mandatory inspections of your home must be done yearly to make sure you’re still able to own that gun of yours (done in some European countries). There was recently a situation where a young woman woke to find some idiot straddling her as she slept in her bed (warm night and she had left her window open…uh, ok…get a fan). She managed to frighten him off after a struggle, but some reader had posted ‘he wouldn’t do that again if she had a gun…’ REALLY?!?!?? So…picture this scenario…”uhm, hey, hold that thought a minute, and could you scootch over while I try to reach my drawer knob to grab my gun?”….or….”sir? Lift yourself up a bit so I can slide over and shove my hand under my mattress and get my daddy’s big gun out from underneath…..” Macho gun lovers all want to make you believe that in the heat of the moment, we will all be able to subdue the adrenaline rush, point and shoot with the accuracy of Annie Oakley. Doesn’t happen. Not unless you’re LE, practice routinely and operate in the real environment of that profession. I can see Mary Lou having baked her cookies all day, driving up to Safeway for more butter, meeting some asshole who grabs her car keys and she nails him like Deadeye Dick and stops him in his tracks. Doesn’t happen.

That all being said, don’t verbally abuse us who don’t want you taken from your big, macho toys but instead are advocating for stricter gun laws so more innocent people don’t lose their lives. With all the caterwauling about it, it seems like there are many out there who have things to be ashamed of that need hiding. Sounds to me that they should be behind bars instead of a counter in a gun store.

Good Night Moochie….

I’m sure not many of you will remember Kevin Corcoran, but he was a Disney fixture all the years I was growing up. Old Yeller, Adventures of Spin and Marty…Swiss Family Robinson…anyway…he passed away today. Sad to see those who are the same age as you are, leave this world. I lived in Santa Monica, CA growing up (among many other places), and I went to St. Monica’s Catholic School, a huge educational complex frequented by children of Hollywood stars. It cost a bundle to send me, but mom and grandma did it (thank you guys:). The Corcoran children were a large Catholic-Irish family who all went to the school (there was a kindergarten, grades 1 thru 8, and the high school, the Brother’s house, the Nun’s residence, Monsignor’s home and the huge cathedral, all occupying several city blocks, not far from Ocean Ave.) Us younger kids had “monitors” who watched over us as we played during recess, and one of the Corcoran’s was a sweet, round faced, very-Irish looking girl about 5 years older than I…Noreen Corcoran. She and her 6 siblings (one of which was Kevin), all had movie careers, although Noreen and Kevin (and Kevin in particular) were the two who made a real business out of it. Noreen had become quite the celebrity during that time playing the daughter to John Forsyth’s father on the hit series, Bachelor Father. She would sometimes practice her lines (not all star kids went to studio schools) and we would watch as if she were some princess or something. If you remember watching The Lawrence Welk show growing up, you’ll remember the Lennon Sisters, all of whom attended St. Monica’s too. That family was so large, there were several Lennon’s in each grade LOL Three of the Lennon girls would also monitor us, and when Noreen was thrown into the mix, it was always a fun recess !  At any rate, it was a fun and interesting time. I do remember Noreen clocking Kevin once (lord only knows why, but I suspect it was a normal thing in their family…the Corcoran’s were a rowdy bunch 🙂

RIP Moochie..you did good~

New Math (sorta)…..

Happy Labor Day Weekend to all! Summer is over…on to fall and Halloween and the other good stuff that comes along!

Have any of you been messed with (when it comes to prices) whenever you’ve ordered something from a store that now has an online “catalog”? I decided to purchase a new ::ahem:: undergarment, found exactly what I wanted, and saw that it cost $30.00, but was on sale for 25% off and stated that S/H was free. Nice deal I thought. So...I went and placed the order, but when it came time to input the “sale code”, the price (including the 25% off) was shown as $25.50. Now, unless the rules of math have changed, 25% of $30.00 is $22.50 ($7.50 off), clearly a difference of $3.00. $3.00 is not a huge amount, but it’s not what the price should be.  And I wasn’t about to pay it just “because”.

So I put in a complaint and asked why the play with figures? I got a response with a Snippet of my order showing the price of $30.00 (highlighted with a line thru it)…quantity box of 2 (I had ordered only one)…and showing that each item would cost me $16.88, and with the addition of the $5.00 for S/H (which is supposed to be free)…the total came to $38.76. At this point I was totally in the dark and my little calculator was smoking.

I returned with a response to please explain how she got her figures and that I ordered only one….where did the $16.88 come from and what happened to the free S/H, and this is her response:

Hi Suzan,
The price for one with shipping is $27.50. The reason is because the 25% off of the $30 bra is $22.50 and the shipping is $5. (But it said shipping was free!!)

For two, however, there is a buy one get one half sale. That is why the bras are only about $16.88 each plus the $5 shipping. That is why it appears as though each bra comes out to only $19.38 each. ( “only”?  “about”?  Buy one is $30.00…by the other at half price is $15.00….that totals $45.00 {IF I WAS BUYING TWO!} …where does this $16.88 come in?????  I need another martini….)

Please let me know if that doesn’t make sense.
Thank you,

She failed to mention that if the order was placed at the time of a full moon when a herd of zebras was in perfect alignment with the equator at precisely 4am, Mountain Standard Time, my order would come out right. What GLORIOUS ALCHEMY AND MAGIC comes from shopping online!!

So on this weekend that glorifies and pays tribute to working people everywhere, I’d like to say HAPPY LABOR DAY!!! You still have a job although you can’t do math, and I’ve labored quite enough trying to figure out what one LOUSY BRA WILL COST ME! There….I said it.

A Long, Hot, Summer

What an eerie morning.  All the fires have finally sent their smoke and smell. Up until now, it’s been fairly minimal.  A bit more congested and sneezy than usual, and this morning it’s not great. Got up at 7, pulled open the patio door blinds, and the sun was out, but very muted and milky as it filtered thru the smokey haze. The sunlight streaming in is bright red, not the usual yellow gold of the morning sun. It’s like the fire is in here. I can only imagine how horrible it must be for people in the thick of it, and for the firefighters working to stem the tide. As a child, we spent a short time living in Monrovia, CA. We had many days like this when the fires began in the San Bernardino Mountains and the Santa Ana winds would bring down smoke and the smell of burning wood. At night the flames flickered up and down the flanks of the mountains and along the ridges, like burning fireflies. My grandma was such a lover of the forest and wildlife….she would watch with tears in her eyes (she always said it was from the smoke, but I knew better).  A very tough summer.

The Truth about Go Set a Watchman

Well….as my family and friends know, I’m a total book lover.  My dream used to be to have a home big enough where I could have a proper library, with beautiful mahogany cases filled with neatly arranged books, floor to ceiling, and have one of those ladders hooked to a track for easy sliding from one area of books to another.  Didn’t happen.  So it’s not surprising that I pre-ordered Harper Lee’s book, Go Set a Watchman.  To me, To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my most favorite, addicting books I’ve ever owned.  The details of a small town in the South of the 30s…the sibling love and rivalry between a brother and sister….a father who epitomized what a dad should be, compassionate, understanding and knowledgeable on so many levels.  I don’t even remember how many times I’ve read it, nor can I say how many times I’ve seen the movie.  This book calls to me, not because of having lived in the south as a child and I could relate to a few things, but because it’s raw, it’s honest, and a terrifically good read that immerses you in the childhood problems that seem inconsequential when compared to the real issues of that time (and that still go on today).  I tracked my order for Go Set a Watchman, and couldn’t believe my luck when it arrived 2 days before it was supposed to.  Like thousands of others, I was able to read the first chapter online on the NYTimes website a week before release of the book.  I was mesmerized….at last…another book, FINALLY, from my most loved writer.  I put household chores in order so that once I sat down with the book, I could devote my time reading.  I’ve only read to the fourth page of chapter 5.  I put the book down around July 7th and haven’t opened it up since.  A bookstore in Michigan is refunding patrons who bought the book and were sorely disappointed.  Now….it’s everyone’s right to not like a book.  Many reasons…the writing isn’t good, you can’t get into it…the story line is stupid.  Those are personal feelings on why you don’t like a book (or movie), and it shouldn’t mean that anyone feeling like that will get the refund they feel they deserve.  But in this instance, some of those things do apply….and when added to the huge marketing campaign we were all subjected to for the years leading up to the actual sale of the book, I feel safe to say that we feel duped and cheated.  Harper Lee has made a huge impact on the writing world.   When you consider she’s only written 2 books, five articles and assisted Truman Capote on the writing of his In Cold Blood….she can be called a true one hit wonder.  She has told a story about herself and her surroundings in such a way, that Scout and Jem will always be two little kids living in a rapidly changing world that still includes a racial, caste system.  For as disappointing and inconsequential that Go Set a Watchman is, it makes To Kill a Mockingbird all the more outstanding.  It’s still my most loved book, and Harper Lee is to be revered. If anything, this latest offering makes you take a step back and realize that all writers have the ability to create something spectacular, only if once in a lifetime.  And that’s the truth about Go Set a Watchman.