Category Archives: Stories

Turkey, Eggs, & Onions

This past Sunday was an early Thanksgiving Feast, a potluck at our Unitarian Fellowship. Husband is on the planning committee for that, so we ended up roasting two 12# turkeys. There is still some leftover turkey.

The next morning I woke up realizing “Oh, we get to have Turkey, Eggs, and Onions for breakfast!” This is a dish I learned about when married to Wasband, and living in and around New York City. He was from a Russian Jewish tradition, though I suspect this dish is more an East Coast thing than Jewish. (East coasters eat turkey all year round – a good inexpensive fowl to have any time.)

It was quite a learning curve when I arrived in New York with Wasband in 1974. I had absorbed four years’ worth of San Francisco and coastal California culture, and thought of myself as rather worldly. Ha! Within a couple of months I experienced living (briefly) in a household with completely different family dynamics from mine (and a strong Brooklyn accent); a new religion, though they mostly practiced what I call “Holiday Judaism”; and the death of Wasband’s father, with all the rituals and drama that surround that.  

A couple of months later we were living in our own apartment in Brooklyn, and I had found a job being messenger for a typographic firm in midtown Manhattan. As I ferried packages of type from one building to another, I was a pretender to a whole new set of cultural mores – riding the subway up and down Manhattan (from, i.e., Wall Street to Central Park); ordering “kwahfee” or buying a pretzel from a street vendor. At first, Wasband’s friends were my only social circle. Then one woman invited me to join her Ladies Poker Night, so I was able to have some of my own experiences with other “real New Yorkers”.

After two years, I left all that for the more familiar Midwest territory. But I’m very glad I was able to experience these other cultures. And once in a while I’ll do something that reminds me of that time, which makes me smile.

When have you adopted customs of a culture different from the one you grew up with?

What’s your favorite thing to do with Thanksgiving leftovers?

Day of Thanks

It’s Thanksgiving.

  • I’m grateful that thanks to Mother Nature, I don’t have to worry about any more raking for awhile. Or pruning.
  • I’m thankful that although I don’t have a working chimney right now (until repairs in spring – maybe), I do have a working chimney liner, thus heat.
  • I’m grateful that Nonny is still spry and vibrant, and coming to visit in a couple of weeks.
  • I’m thankful that YA’s foot is healing nicely and she can now get around on her own, drive and go back to work.
  • I’m grateful that most of my friends and loved ones afflicted with the big “c” have beat it back with a stick and am thankful that this community was able to surround the friend and loved one who didn’t with caring and support.
  • I’m thankful that I haven’t thrown my new cell phone out the window (yet).
  • I’m grateful that usually once a day a stranger shows me kindness (even if it’s just stopping on Lyndale so I can either pull into or out of my driveway).

Enough about me. Anything good on your grateful list this year?

Ask Me Why

If you asked YA if traditions were important to her, she would emphatically say “No”. So ask me why I am making a whole batch of iced sugar cookies in the shapes of leaves this week (and airbrushed in autumn colors)?  Or trying to find the iconic green bean casserole recipe for Thanksgiving day?  Or why we’re going to get a tree on Black Friday, even though I’m going out of town two days later?

Any traditions you’d like to leave by the wayside?

The Horror!

During the day yesterday, YA called me while I was at work.

YA: Do I need a library card to use the computers at the library?
Me:   I’m not sure.  Did you call to ask them?
YA: I’m there now. I don’t think I have a library card.
Me: I’m sure you do.
(Me rustling in purse)
Me: I have your card right here.  Do you need the number?
YA: No – they gave me a temporary number.

This seemed innocuous enough until the real implications of the phone encounter hit me. I had her library card in my wallet because when she was a toddler and kindergartner, she didn’t have a place to keep her library card, so I held onto it.  After all, back then, we were usually at the library together.

But if I still have her card, that means that since we quit going together (once she hit 2nd or 3rd grade),  SHE HAS NEVER STEPPED FOOT IN A PUBLIC LIBRARY ON HER OWN.

Not having a reader for a child has been a hard pill to swallow. Obviously your children aren’t little models of yourself, but when they differ from you in a treasured part of your life, it takes some getting used to.  I thought I had long ago come to this acceptance but yesterday’s realization was like that proverbial cold bucket of water.  Ouch.  If I was still in therapy we’d have to talk about this at my next appointment!

Any epiphanies recently?  (Good or bad.)

Read It or See It?

In ye olden days, the LGMS was my radio anchor, beginning at home through my morning drive time. After the show’s demise, I did Trial Balloon at home and in the morning hours of work.  But since then, I haven’t really found a radio show that strikes my fancy and have drifted away from radio to…  I know this will be shocking for some of you… books.  The first hour or so in the morning, I listen to an audiobook and then in the car, books on CDs.  I sometimes run out of books on CDs and so spend some time browsing the audio shelves at the library.  This leads to some interesting results, sometimes fabulous, sometimes not so much.

I’ve admitted here before that I like the Hallmark Mystery Movies, so last week, while browsing, my eye was caught by the first Aurora Teagarden mystery sitting on the audio shelf. I had been a little curious about the books, especially since my favorite character left the series; I was curious if the movies were true to the books.   So I was a little surprised right off the bat that while most of the characters bear the same names, most of them did not bear the description or personalities.  The most disappointing was the main character, Ro.  In the book she doesn’t have any drive to solve the mysteries and in the final chapters is rescued by the men in the story.  This is completely different from the movies, in which Ro is rabid about solving the mystery and it is her ingenuity that not only solves the crimes but saves her life (and often the man’s) in the end.

This made me think about the few instances in which the movie better than the book.  So rare.  Princess Bride, Romancing the Stone, Julie & Julia, Clue, Bladerunner.

There might be more but for my determination not to see movies when I have adored the book. I don’t want Hollywood messing with the pictures in my mind’s eye (Wrinkle in Time, The Martian, Uprooted, ANY of the Louise Penny books).  And, of course, the number of movies much worse than their books is legend.  Including Legend!

When were you last surprised about how a book turned out when adapted to the big screen?

Decisions, Decisions

It has been my experience that where decisions are concerned, there are two kinds of people in the world: those who make snap decisions and those who don’t. Those who don’t like to spend time looking at every single facet of the decision, the possible consequences and the consequences of those consequences.  These folks usually make very good decisions, however when they don’t, it is terrible for them and they take it very personally.  Snap decision makers do a quick analysis, maybe think about a few of the consequences and then leap.  Not as many very good decisions are made this way, but then the snap decision makers don’t beat themselves up as much. Both of my wasbands were not quick decision-makers and this drove me crazy.

When we lived in Milwaukee, first wasband and I decided we wanted to purchase a stereo. Wasband #1 spent a few months scouring the resources, reading reviews, checking out issues of Consumer Reports from the library and mulling.  A lot of mulling.  He finally decided and then found a place to purchase said stereo system.  Unfortunately it was in a little strip mall in north Milwaukee and we didn’t have a car; being new to Milwaukee, we hadn’t cultivated any friends to borrow a car from either.  The little strip mall was on the bus line, although it was two transfers from our apartment.  So there we were with our several big boxes, lugging them on and off buses.  It took the better part of five hours for this project.  It was a very nice stereo but I know that left to my own devices, I would have bought something more quickly and from a company that delivered.

Second wasband was the same kind of decision-maker. For his birthday one year, his grandmother sent him a nice check and he decided that he needed to use it to purchase a saw.  But what kind of saw, you say?  There’s the rub.  He thought of himself as a handy person and wanted either a band saw or a circular saw.  Like Wasband #1, he researched and reviewed and mulled.  And mulled some more.  Three years later when we separately, he still had not purchased a saw.  Sigh.

Now that I’ve had a lot of experience, I can tell a muller from a snapper fairly easily. I should probably apply it as a metric to any future romantic entanglements.  Forget whether you’re tall, good looking, well-read and rich – how fast can you make an important decision?

What was your last big decision?

Obsession

I feel like I haven’t been very present on the trail the last week or so.

The egg table is up.

I have a love/hate relationship with my Ukrainian egg (pysanky) hobby. I love the quiet, steady progress of the craft and I love the outcome.  However I hate that I tend to get a little carried away; once I sit down and start to work, it’s hard for me to stop.  Just one more color, one more pass of wax, just finish this batch of six.  And I’m a little obsessive about cleaning everything up after each session.  This means I stay up too late and don’t get enough sleep when the egg table is up.  Chores go undone.  Relationships get neglected.

It’s the same with jigsaw puzzles. I adore doing jigsaw puzzles, but I can’t quite leave the puzzle alone until it’s finished.  Just a “couple more pieces” and suddenly its midnight and my back and neck are stiff!  It’s the main reason I don’t do large, complicated puzzles – those are rabbit holes I’m afraid to go down.

What obsession can sidetrack you?