Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!/ Islands and Figs by Jack Gilbert

Not a New Year's poem per se, but it does speak of endings.




Islands and Figs

The sky
on and on,
stone.
The Mediterranean
down the cliff,
stone.
These fields,
rock.
Dead weeds
everywhere.
And the weight
of sun.
In the weeds
an old woman
lifting off
snails.
Near
two trees
of ripe figs.
The heart
never fits
the journey.
Always
one ends
first.


Photo note: That's an olive tree not a fig tree. You can see it for yourself: http://www.astragreece.com/writing.html

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dear Monin, You just might change my life



My mother is not an alcoholic in the way that we normally define alcoholism. She rises at a proper hour. Has her un-spiked coffee. Prowls around in her p.j.s a bit. Tidies the kitchen, maybe folds a little laundry, feeds the cat, reads the paper. Throughout the day we discuss the news, perhaps go to a doctor's appointment, take a walk, chat about birds, or what photos family and friends have put up on Facebook. It's a reasonably productive day for an 88-year-old who's got a laundry list of maladies.

If I had a cuckoo clock, those five cuckoos would send me running in Hitchcockian terror. Five o'clock is martini time. She pre-mixes her brew. Keeps it in an old Gordon's bottle in the fridge. It's ready to pour. And pour. And pour. I schedule nothing for myself after 5 p.m. A short walk around the block for sanity just after dinner if I really feel that I'm about to go out of my fucking mind from enduring the previous 21/2 hours of word-slurring, nonsense, tipping, and careening.

Oh, yes. I've asked her to cut back. Talked about the ancient liver not metabolizing. The neurologist told her that her biggest fear should be trauma--i.e. falling. I've reiterated. But, no doubt, one day she will fall. And I will bet you a million dollars it will be after 5:00 p.m.

There. I've had my little rant.
Now, has anyone out there in cyber-martini-land tried the Monin gin syrup? It's non alcoholic. Can I get away with thinning out the Gordon's with this stuff? Mind you, this is a woman who does not want her martini shaken over ice. She wants to taste the gin.
Oh--and how can I get it from England for a reasonable price? It doesn't seem to be marketed here. Maybe Monin has plans for Coors syrup in the U.S., but that's not going to help me.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

HUGE


2012 was stuffed with big things. Sold a house. Bought a house. Left the haunted city of my marriage, but moved 60-some miles from the man who loves me. Applied to four grad programs. Got rejected from four grad programs. Gave up my volunteer job walking Human Society dogs. Gave up my volunteer job tutoring at the Downtown Women's Center. And took on my 88-year-old mother. I cook dinner every night. I walk on the beach every morning. I have a regular Tai Chi Chih practice and a regular yoga practice. I eat less salad. Juice less. Bake more. I see my daughter M almost every weekend. The drive between my son's house and my new place is at least 90 minutes longer. Daughter C now has a room in my new place after months of sleeping on my couch last year--but now doesn't live here. I still have my ancient cat. And I am thrilled by the birds we see here on the water.

While I sit here on the couch with my cat, I listen for the call of the blue heron. While the man who loves me plays a gig I can't attend, I listen to the sound of my mom coughing and the hiss of her oxygen machine. I'm another year out from the end of my marriage. My grandchildren are taller and stronger and smarter. My children continue to reveal new aspects of themselves to intrigue me. I've entered the decade of my 60s.

Some of last year's resolutions never got off the ground--pedometer, Joe's goals. But I have new ones. Kayaking. Homemade yogurt. Homemade sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables. This is how it goes. Failures. Successes. Trade-offs. New projects. Abandoned old ones.

What do I want now, I ask myself--because I am always wanting something. I want more than one night a week with the man who loves me. I want a lighter heart in my day-to-day dealings with my mother.

And then there is this escapist fantasy. But do I really want that? Not really. Not unless I could take everyone I love with me.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Oh Come, Oh Come, More Hours of Daylight


Christmas Supper

blush Champagne
smoked salmon
brie
havarti
olives 
sourdough
cookies

And a sunset walk to the store with the man who loves me to procure them.

These delicious things bring light, too.


My mom and my camera could not quite find their moment, but the photo seems apt anyway.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Christmas to Everyone


Oh--and beware of the mutant zombie gingerbread people.


The spice cake turned out much prettier.


And the bourbon sweet whipped cream was a hit--sort of.

Mother:  This whipped cream is tasteless. Give me some ice cream.
Man Who Loves Me:  Mmmm. You put in more bourbon, didn't you.

Apparently some taste buds only detect gin.
I thought the spice cake and the spiked whipped cream made a nice combo.


Monday, December 24, 2012

Train Crashes into Iceberg


I'm not sure when my personal Polar Express derailed. The train wreck was already unfolding long before the end of my marriage. In the decade before we had children, The Someone and I frequently traveled back to the Midwest to spend the holidays with family. The year that our second child was born delivered the coldest Iowa winter on record. The airlines lost the children's car seats, our winter coats, and all our luggage. It was days before I had anything to wear besides my brother's sweatpants, and The Someone complained for years that the muscle cramps in his back were due to being underdressed while pulling our three-year-old on a sled. But it was probably carrying our hatless, coatless baby inside my shirt from the airport door to the curb and into my brother's drafty truck in sub-zero weather that convinced us we should to create our own Christmas traditions in Los Angeles.

Other than the gingerbread house baked from scratch and the sugar cookies, not much stuck to the free- floating iceberg of our lives away from family. There were a couple years of dad and daughter forays to choose a Christmas tree, several years of big festive dinners with friends. There were a few years at the same favorite restaurant for Christmas Eve dinner A few years of a Christmas carol Mass at the church The Someone attended--for which we routinely forgot to bring the de rigueur gift for needy children. Some years I cooked salmon. Some years I have no idea what we ate. Gifts for our children figured quite prominently into the celebration when they were younger, but The Someone and I never shopped together for them--or even discussed what they might like--that I can recall. Our 1950s division of labor required that I tend to those sorts of errands while he made the money. We bought gifts for one another, of course--in the early years before children, quite lovely sentimental things. Later when there was money he bought me diamond earrings, pearls, a beautiful outfit, or a cashmere sweater. But, in the later years, as the pressures at work pulled The Someone away from us for more and more hours, as our appetites for everything diminished, as our marriage lodged into some kind of permanent solstice, Christmas seemed like a charade.

My gifts from The Someone became more and more impersonal, and the things I chose for him never quite hit the mark. Books remained unread, a scarf stayed in its box, the whimsical choice of a 6 ft. tall farm windmill never went to his office as I thought it might. The daughters stockings were filled with the same lip balm, the same lotions--until we did away with gift-giving all together. No one in our house really needed anything, and if there was something Mr. Ex and I wanted, well, those desires went undetected on our personal radar.

I had my chance to reinvent Christmas when the marriage ended, but I didn't. The daughters were pretty much grown--and Thanksgiving is our day for gathering together. As my son's birthmother, while I'm not regarded by him as superfluous, I am wary of elbowing into the traditions created by the parents who raised him. So each year has been different since 2007. Hawaii, St. Paul, home--which has, itself, changed again this year. The man who loves me and I don't make a big deal out of Christmas either. We'll eat dinner at my place with my mother tonight, and tomorrow he'll go off to his sister's place. But I'm searching for something. Not religion. Not material things. Just something, or some place, or a purpose I can look forward to during the darkest week of the year.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Poem for the End of the World



A poem by Sara Teasdale

There Will Come Soft Rains

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone. 

Do I really think the world is going to end tomorrow? No, I do not.
Do I believe that the world could end at any moment. Why, yes, I do.
Have I ever felt like my world was ending? Yes, I have. And I'll bet you have, too. And, no doubt, there are thousands of people for thousands of reasons feeling that way at any given moment. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Report from Pillville: The neurologist, the geriatric specialist, the ENT


The neurologist loves to talk. Is it his way of gauging how well my mom is listening and comprehending? His way of connecting with me as my mom's advocate? "You're doing great," he told my mom more than once. "You're lucky," he told me. "Good genes." And we heard about how he lost his house, burned to the ground in 2003 in one of southern California's epic fires. I told him about my divorce and how I hated to live alone, and how it's good that my mother is now living with me. We talked about cats, and losing everything and how we like living in our new houses with their boat docks even though we don't want boats. "Get that kayak," he told me. "Good exercise." To my mom he said, "Come back in six months."

I've worried for months that no one is connecting the dots. Neurologist, cardiologist, pulmonologist, primary care, vascular surgeon, podiatrist. A laundry list of medications, and still there are niggling  problems that have not been addressed. This is the guy, I thought. A board certified geriatric specialist. His office jammed with teetering stacks of files, his cheeks so chubby that is eyes appeared crowded, too, an annoying front desk receptionist calling everyone "Honey." Is he looking at us....or not? He studied the list of medications. Expressed no concerns. Sent us next door to the ENT who happened to have an opening.

Maybe the coughing fits are a result of 70 years of smoking, the ENT said. Maybe allergies, but there's nothing seriously wrong, he assured. Try menthol throat lozenges. Try Claritin.

Five hours. Three doctors. A drive home along the ocean, the sky giving up its last bit of red. It was 6:00 when we got home. An hour past martini time. I diced and sliced my way into dinner. Cabbage, onions, apples sauteed in butter and wine. Roasted carrots. The last of the sausage procured for the Thanksgiving stuffing, biding its time in the freezer  waiting for a winter night like this one.

The wind is blowing here in Margaritaville. Water rippling. Christmas lights twinkling. My mom's oxygen machine breathing like a benevolent Darth Vader. Me, staring out at the glistening black water.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

In Which Three Generations, Two Hearing Aids, and an Oxygen Machine Go on a Roadtrip

Deja vu, right? Yes, except that this time we were driving east and the trip was a mere 400 hundred and some miles.

We attended a ballet recital.


And a birthday party.


Sat around the dining room table and talked and talked and talked, marveling at luck and love.
Lost a hearing aid. Found a hearing aid.
Almost had, not one, but two car crashes.


Tilted at windmills.
Saw a rainbow.


Dropped M at the airport.


Drove the PCH for the last leg of the trip.


Home.


photo credit for PCH photo: jhandleman.blogspot.com. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Rules



My marriage ended cruelly. 
Months of unproductive silence ensued. 
Segued into years of unproductive wrangling. As if we'd both taken an oath to never agree. 
Nothing happened except more hurt. More money wasted on attorney bills. More depression. More anxiety. More gin.
Then one day I called him and he answered the phone. We went to mediation. And there were rules.
Something like this: no eye rolling, no sighing, no combative or demeaning gestures or body language.
At the first session we were instructed to prepare a statement of appreciation about one another or our shared past. 
And then, at long last, after the no eye rolling, no sighing, no combative or demeaning gestures or body language, after we delivered our statements of appreciation, after we sat at the table together, we agreed. 
It was over. We went forward.
Maybe if the TV pundits and talking heads, the news bloggers, spokespeople, the Democrats and the Republicans, congressmen and women, and senators followed same rules, a reasonable compromise on gun control might be reached.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Report from Pillville: the vascular surgeon, the pulmonologist, the cardiologist, the endodontist

Chill. It's pretty much good news.

 I might have busted out a bottle of champagne tonight after the crown fell off of my mom's tooth that has the root canal in progress. No pain is always a reason for celebration, right? I did call the dentist (the regular dentist and not the endodontist) and explain to him that we'd just finished dinner --which meant that I'd polished off two glasses of wine and  could not drive the 20 miles to the endodontist--even if he would see us. No worries, the regular dentist said. She's not in pain because the nerve on the root canal tooth is out of commission so, call us at 8:00 a.m. and we'll work her in tomorrow and cement the crown back on.

Earlier today we had a post-carotid artery, post-echocardiogram follow-up with the cardiologist. Yes, there's a slight amount of plaque in the carotid. Yes, there's a bit of leakage in two heart valves. Blood pressure and heart rate are fab. All over condition is summed up as stable. Hooray for not smoking.

At some point this week (geez, is it only Wednesday?) we also had a follow-up with the vascular surgeon. He's happy with the outcome of the procedure my mom had on Nov. 1. Her feet and legs look better and feel better. She's walking better. The ultrasound shows increased circulation.  Hooray for not smoking.

I have no fucking idea when, exactly, but sometime very recently we also went to the pulmonologist--who, himself, is 80 years old. A charming man. The office is housed in a quirky cottage with office staff so nice that I feel like I should show up with donuts or a fruit basket or a tray of Starbucks peppermint mochas with extra whipped cream. Her lungs sound fine. Better even. Hooray for not smoking.

Cardiologist and pulmonologist follow-ups are in four months. We don't see the vascular surgeon until June. Holy shit. I'm going to have to start writing again. I mean like really writing and sending work out because now I'm actually going to have time to read those rejection letters. I've decided that henceforth all of my mom's appointments are going to be scheduled for Mondays and Wednesdays. Preferably these will also be the days when teeth fall out, and hearing aids get lost, and we run out of gin. Because I'm going to try to remember how to write--and I'll need Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays to figure that shit out.

photo credit: Sam Kunz

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Treasure, I tell you, treasure!


This morning's beach glass haul


A peak inside the big glass bowl where I deposit my beach treasures


To lay the metaphor at your feet seems too obvious. But there really is treasure everywhere. Some buried. Some glinting like morning neon begging to be dropped into your empty coffee cup and carried home.

Scream. Laugh. Scream. Laugh.



Life in Margaritaville had a few days where it felt like we were on a tightrope affixed to a seesaw on a pitching ship.

The trip to the endodontist seemed like a good thing last Thursday since the tooth had been wanting some attention for a while. My mom was full of novocain Thursday evening. It was after 6:00 when we arrived back home. She had a little leftover homemade cream of celery soup and a martini and called it dinner. Her mouth was so numb that chewing anything at all seemed like asking for trouble. She went to bed. I slept with my door open, fearing that moment when the anesthetic finally wears off.

She looked rather peaked in the morning, her jaw on the affected side a purple golf ball, but she had already mushed through a donut soaked in coffee by the time I got downstairs. Her tooth was definitely hurting, she said, but she'd taken her arthritis acetaminophen. She wasn't great, she said, but she was okay. I went to T'ai Chi Chih.

I thought the howling might be the neighbor's dog. I could hear it from the garage as soon as I opened my car door. My mom was in her room hovering around her pill boxes, hands to face like Edvard Munch's screamer. "I can't take it, Millie," she said. "I can't take the pain, Millie." I am not Millie. Millie is her twin sister who lives in a nursing home in Maryland. I  called the dentist immediately. Got a prescription for vicodin. Gave my mom an ice pack. Ascertained that she was in her right mind despite the ache in her jaw. Checked to see if she had a fever. And proceeded to suddenly feel my own weird array of aches and pains swirling with a large dose of anxiety as I headed for that state of omygodwhaddoido.

The doorbell rang then. M was here earlier than usual for the weekend. When I told her what was going on, she threw open her arms and said, "Well, I'm glad I'm here then!" In the surreal movie version of this story, the camera would pan back to her and there she'd be in tall boots and a super-hero cape.

M and I went to the pharmacy and got the pain meds. Vicodin. Which my mom can't take. But forgot-- until the next morning when she woke up with the dry heaves. "I know I can't be pregnant," she said. "But I sure feel like it." But by noon on Saturday, she was almost feeling like herself. We got dressed up Saturday night and went out to the yacht club buffet and watched the boats float by festooned with Christmas lights. Shortly after we got back the man who loves me arrived. He and I sat at the kitchen island drinking wine while my mom stood across from us with her martini (so much better than the one she had at the club) and we laughed and talked about I don't know what. But we were laughing, which is the best pain killer ever.  Oh--and we were feasting on the cookies my mom had made off with from the dessert platter. She swiped a big linen napkin and tied them up like a present. Feeling like herself again. There are still a couple of those cookies left. I'm going to go have one.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmastime in Margaritaville

When the lights and decorations started going up in my neighborhood Thanksgiving weekend, my mom gave me nearly hourly updates:
Now there's a Santa.
He's been working all day on those lights.
That star in the window across the street is magnificent.
That guy still isn't done with those lights!
The balcony across the water has lights and a lighted wreath!

So my mother and I wrapped the dead tree in my yard with lights. Hung a wreath on the front door. I set out the very few things that I brought with me from Divorceville.

Perhaps a little half-heartedly, at first.



The plastic pots are kinda half-assed, too. But the trees are real, and my mom loves the figurines.


Especially the girl in the red hat. She's really singing her heart out, my mom says.


I made the snow people some years back.


And the deer, which my mom comments on nearly every night, I found in a second-hand store eons ago. "They're so much bigger than the deer in Iowa!"
        "They're reindeer, Mom."




Margaritaville even has a real tree. Just the right size for showing off my mom's hand-crocheted snowflakes.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Father, Son, and Holy Toast


My mother was searching for a word, but it refused to be found. At last night's dinner table she told M and me how she often fainted at Mass as a girl. The word she couldn't quite muster was "Communion," or perhaps "host." Her eyes flutter at these moments, as if the blinking might cause the word to materialize, writ in front of her. But, no. This word, like others, had somehow sifted itself into the dustbin of her 88-year-old brain. "You know," she said, "when they put the toast in your mouth." We knew exactly what she meant--and she went on to tell us that she fainted every Sunday at Communion time. Too many people milling around, she theorized. Too much heat.

It seems, sometimes, that my mother has reached a point where her first and only language is becoming, by small increments, foreign to her. After her pre-dinner martini, she often speaks English the way I speak French. Creatively. Through a roundabout back door, where you are forced to explain the more sophisticated concepts or ideas with words that you know compensating for the words you don't know.

I also wonder if these teen-age fainting spells prefigured her mid-life diagnosis of narcolepsy and sleep apnea. These days if the conversation lulls at dinner, her eyes close, and she sometimes lists to one side.  "Mom," I say, "You're falling asleep." Or, "Mom, don't fall off your chair." Her eyes might flutter open then, or she might speak to me with them still closed.

"I'm awake," she'll say. "Awake, but far away." She never says where she's been exactly. But maybe she's in church, fainting--there in the company of her long-dead mother. There with her sisters, smelling the incense, feeling the heat, and falling to the ground.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Bloodletting




I awoke to the insistent beep-beep-beeping of my alarm this morning, certain that I had been lying there annoyed and trying to get back to sleep but failing. A sure sign that I'm going to be deceiving myself all day. My body is still feeling slightly tweaked from an almost-fall off a ladder on Saturday, and my spirit/psyche/soul is most definitely out of whack. For hours I've been telling myself that the weird annoyed restlessness I'm feeling might be dehydration, but I have yet to take a drink of water. In the midst of typing the previous sentence I stopped, got up, and moved my water from my bedside to my desk, but I really don't want to have anything to do with it. So far everyone I've encountered today has gotten on my last nerve. My mother with her "the Christmas tree needs water." The bossy yoga woman with her "move your mat just a smidge." The yoga teacher who is probably 20 with the body of a lithe 12-year-old, and who has no fucking idea what it's like to be dragging a 60-year-old body around with a surgically fused spine and hips that will be forever seeking their lost swivel.

This piece in the New York Times might have made me jump for joy since I plan to get no closer to matrimony than I would to a coiled viper. Instead I found myself spitefully wishing with all my heart that the Someone's marriage is already in its death spiral. Yes! That is the one thing that would make me happy, Santa. Oh, I know that hate just hurts the hater, blah, blah, blah, and no doubt by the end of the day I will have come back to some sort of almost-center. But meanwhile, dear blogosphere, you are the leech draining away the poison.

Namasté.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

So......A Woman Walks into a Bar


"It's their birthday," the woman said, righting herself after stumbling through the restaurant's patio gate. The waitress greeted her and the three nearly identical golden retrievers without any fanfare. As if triplet birthday dogs dined on the patio every day. "I wouldn't be opposed to a doggy birthday treat," the woman said, and then ordered herself a house Chardonnay. The wine appeared almost instantaneously, and a minute later the waitress brought a dish of some sort of grilled meat skewered with birthday candles. I expected singing, but the woman carried the dish of meat to an empty table in the corner while the dogs morphed into a good-natured Cerberus, their bodies moving as one as they followed her. The woman, her reddish blond hair the same shade as the dogs, dipped her fingers into the dish and fed each of them by turn. When the waitress returned to the patio to bring my wine, she paused at the birthday table. "They ate the dish," the woman said. Then she laughed and gestured toward the table in the corner.  "Would you like the dogs to sing to you?" she asked the waitress as she  fished her phone out of her pocket.  Cyndi Lauper's "Time after Time" seemed to make little or no impression on the dogs, but the woman did a fair impression of what a dog might sound like if it wanted to sing along with Cyndi Lauper. "C'mon," she said, starting the song again. The canine chorus remained silent.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Things You May Not Know About Living With An Octogenarian: the first in a series

with carpeting 

When was the last time you watched an 80-something-year-old walk? Okay. Now, when was the last time you listened to an 80-something-year-old walk? Hear that? Schrrrritch. Schrrrritch. Scrrritch. Scrrrritch. That's the sound of someone not picking up their feet.

It's a fact that our joints begin to stiffen and ache as we age. Those essential moving parts become a little less flexible. At the age of 60 I find that some mornings I bound (okay, slight exaggeration) out of bed, while other days I wake up a bit stiff and scrrritch-scrrrritch my way to the bathroom. My mom does a flat-footed shuffle pretty much all of the time. What this means is that she is essentially wiping her feet from  one end of my house to the other.

Carpeting is vile stuff, in my opinion. Expensive crap that forces consumers to spend even more money to keep it clean. I pulled up the carpeting myself in my first L.A. apartment. There was a layer of silt beneath it deep enough to grow radishes. I knew the carpeting in this place would have to go, and it was one of the first projects, but I left the carpet in my mom's room. I had it professionally shampooed, and it turned out pretty close to pristine. Carpeting would be warmer, I reasoned. The room would be cozier, and the surface softer. A couple months later two black tracks traced a path from doorway to bed, doorway to chair, and doorway to desk.

Yesterday, the man who loves me sent his crew up here from L.A. A long drive, a long day--and while the baseboard did not get installed, and couple of floor boards still need to be glued down, it's a vast improvement even in its unfinished state.

with the new wood floor

Friday, November 30, 2012

Pillville: The Quarterly Report



Background: My mom moved in with me near the end of August. As the first quarter of our first year of living together draws to a close, here are the numbers---

Medical and dental appointments including hearing aid adjustments, eye glasses, and lab work: Approximately 30.

Number of surgical procedures: 1

Number of trips to the pharmacy: Around 10

Number of days since she quit smoking: 30

Number of times I think she's secretly had a quick puff: Maybe a half-dozen. Maybe none at all.

Number of times we've marveled together at the birds who perch on our boat dock: Scores.

Number of nights I've cooked a "real" dinner: Approximately 115.

Number of nights I've spent with the man who loves me: Not enough.

Number of times I've regretted this change in my lifestyle: 0

Number of times I've fantasized about traveling to a faraway place: Dozens.

Number of contradictions in this post: Who's counting?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Insult of Azaleas


I was prepared for ruin. Prepared for flower beds obliterated by neglect. This is what I would find, I feared, and knew how to cushions the blows.

I drove C and her husband to The Someone's house this morning to spare them hours of circling through L.A.s inefficient labyrinth of suburban mass transit. I pulled to the curb in front of the house next door, my view of the house where I once lived blocked by its garage. If I kept my gaze close, fixed on the people I was hugging good-bye, I wouldn't see rose bushes turned feral or thirsty trees beseeching the sky.

But what caught me off guard were clouds of white azaleas spreading over the once tidy walls, pure beauty, bright and startling, insulting me with how they've thrived in my absence.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Leftovers Day 3: Eat it, freeze it, or toss it.

Saturday I made turkey chili--which was mostly devoured. The turkey carcass is already frozen for  soup at some point in the future when turkey sounds like something fresh and fabulous. The stuffing didn't make it past day two.

Last night I made shepherd's pie which consumed the leftover stir-fried vegetables, gravy, and most of the mashed potatoes. I added apple sausage. It was delicious. And some of the birthday dessert cranberries were turned into cranberry sauce. Also delicious. 


The leftover sweet potatoes were transformed into a sweet potato coconut tart with an almond crust.


Crazy, crazy good.

I hope to return to my vegetarian and fresh juice ways in a day or two.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanks EVERYONE--for the cards, emails, phone calls, singing voice mails, Facebook birthday wishes, flowers, gifts, dessert, champagne, phone messages, hugs, kisses, and all around sweetness!


Yup. That's exactly how I feel. Really.


Pretty, huh?


Notice a theme?


That's wine being poured into cranberries....


That's the cranberry stuff being spooned into homemade meringues made by my son-in-law.
At which point, I believe, the man who loves me clicked on a merengue instructional video on his iPad and began to dance with my mother.


The birthday dessert. Tart and sweet. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

We Gathered



And, of course, there was food, friends, and family.

And now that we live in Margaritaville, we inaugurated a new tradition of a Thanksgiving eve sunset trip to the beach before the longstanding practice of a super-easy dinner (pizza this year) followed by pumpkin custard.



But with the cranberry sauce already gone, my head is still digesting the conversation. There were plenty of things discussed. Family secrets, the landing of Curiosity on Mars. Classic movies, current movies, and James Bond movies. I think there was a weird joke or two about the Kardashians. And a long discussion of education in America, of the 60s assassinations, election fraud, and just about everything to do with the outcome of the recent election.

I had to do a little research this afternoon just to satisfy my whetted appetite. Here are some leftovers to chew on from The Atlantic Wire. Of course, maybe you already know all this--but I'll bet you're on your third piece of pumpkin pie right about now, so have some more of this, too. And there's more if you follow the link above. More! More pie! More!


Obama got 93 percent of black voters (representing 13 percent of the electorate), 71 percent of Latinos (representing 10 percent), and 60 percent of young voters. Thanks to the GOP's rape apologist caucus among other generally bad for women things, he also not too surprisingly won the female vote, getting 53 percent of women voters. But, other generalized groups of people went for the president that we wouldn't necessarily have expected to go for Obama.

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I'm feeling so thankful that maybe I'll have an inauguration day party. I wonder if my friend Ellen could bring her fabulous wine jello and dye it blue.


Monday, November 19, 2012

House Guests

There's someone sleeping in my garage.

J arrived on Momday evening--in from Minnesota for a conference. I put her up in fine style, at first. Bedroom with a view of the water. The guest bathroom all to herself. On Thursday, the seafaring folks (daughter C and her husband) blew in from the icy blasts of  Lake Michigan. With only one towel bar in the bathroom that they would now share with J, they set to installing a couple of two-pronged towel hooks. This project was preceeded by an expos√© of my neurotic belief that bath towels should not touch one another. My craziness was proclaimed, and C volunteered her towel to co-habitate on a hook with her husband's towel--which I admit, does not seem to be a breach of hygiene.

On Saturday daughter M arrived with her partner (M from her not-so-far-away grad school campus, and S flown in from Minnesota.) It was necessary then to explain our house "sexile" policy which clearly states that those with partners get the private accomodations while singletons are offered the couch or air mattresses in any corner they can find. I should have mentioned that the man who loves me also arrived on Saturday--leaving J clearly in the position of the person to be sexiled.


But I was kind of ready for some high-style sexiled accomodations. The new fancy (relative term) full-height rollaway air bed was unfurled in the garage complete with a hideous million-year-old folding table covered by a tablecloth and bedecked with, not one, but two, battery camping lanterns. As a final welcoming touch, a throw rug (okay, it's more of a doormat) was laid out bedside.

Somewhere in the wee hours of Saturday M's sweetheart discovered she had picked up some food posioning in her travels. The segregation of towels suddenly seemed like a brilliant idea. Antibacterial wipes and Clorox clean-up also took up residence in the guest bath.

The day after tomorrow my friend S will arrive, and we will begin the prep for our Thanksgiving feasting. As I write this paragraph, J has now begun her journey back to the land of ice and snow, so S will enjoy the garage-partment. I believe I invited another friend to sleep over Thanksgiving night. He, too, was once nicely ensconced in a bedroom here while housesitting, but on this visit he will have an air mattress in the living room or dining room. Full disclosure on this arrangement must include that my mother, whose bedroom is downstairs, yells/roars like a bear (not talks--oh no--what she does is not talking) in her sleep. The grandchildren opted for wedging themselves into the upstairs hallway when they were here rather than endure the nightmare inducing bedlam.

So, yes, come to Margaritaville for a visit, dear friends and family. Stay over. But if you come this weekend, I suggest you bring a rope ladder and a very cozy sleeping bag. These things would provide warmth and a private entrance/exit to my balcony where there is a couch.


Or if you arrive in your boat boat, perhaps you could sleep there. Though it's quite possible that you could be awakened by a hungry heron.




Or wait until the crowd departs. No doubt, my mother and I will be lonely when this crew of turkey eaters leaves. Yes, come. I will offer you your own towel hook. I will walk with you on the sand.
I will feed you lemon bars.


 And I swear to god, there will be vermouth. There will always be vermouth.