every girl needs a greek chorus

a blog about hope


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A Sweet Little Fishy Story

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Caramelized Salmon

When we adopted The Daughter, we were old.  I’m not kidding.  We were 47, which is pretty old to adopt your first child, an 8-year old.  As My Mother said, “At least she’s housebroken and has all her shots.”  We learned that there’s a perfectly good reason that young people have children; you need a lot of stamina and patience, which certainly diminishes over time.

We all had a lot of adjusting to do.  Some of it was easy.  The Veterinarian covered fixing breakfast for her every morning at the ungodly hour of 6 am, an hour when I’m not sure who I am, much less where the kitchen is located.  Our long-awaited princess would wake up to his special omelets or French toast or garnished oatmeal.  None of that oatmeal out of an envelope.  This stuff was cooked and sweetened and spiced and bathed in warm milk.  I don’t think he ever prepared himself for one of our “date nights” as well as he prepared breakfast for her.  My responsibilities included lunch, dinner, laundry, and chauffeur, the same things I’d been doing for him for 27 years.

In the beginning, the kid never grumbled about the food she was served, once we weaned her from chicken nuggets, which we did immediately.  She loved to try new foods.  A week after her arrival, we traveled with her to New Orleans on a business trip, where she told the waiter at Commander’s Palace that the Parmesan cheese being grated, tableside, onto her salad smelled like “throw up.”  Being N’Awlins, the waiter laughed and said, “It sure does, honey.”  She scarfed it down.  A month later, we knew we were in BIG trouble when we took her to the Cheesecake Factory, and she told the waiter, “I’ll have the grilled chicken Caesar with freshly grated Parmesan, please.”

We persevered in introducing her to new foods.

“Do you eat fish?”

“Uh-huh,” she shook her blond head up and down, blue eyes peering out of her little wire-rimmed glasses.  She bore an uncanny resemblance to Felicity, the American Girl doll, with her dimpled arms and cheeks.

“Do you like fresh salmon?  It’s not like that stuff in a can.  I’m going to coat it with sugar and sauté it in a hot skillet.  You’ll like it.”

Her head bobbed.

She was more than willing to eat caramelized salmon, asparagus in nutmeg butter, and herbed rice with toasted pine nuts.  I thought I was a genius.  Surely, there were few households with an 8-year old eating gourmet cuisine.

At Christmas that year, our family was invited to a “casual-chic” Christmas party at the swanky home of some benevolent friends.  She was introduced to the host’s little nephew, and the two trotted off into the big house, while we headed to greet the roast pig that was lounging on the dining room table.  About 20 minutes later, one of the guests came up to us.

“Are you with the little blond girl with the glasses?”

“Uh, yes,” The Veterinarian and I looked at each other in panic.

“I’ve never seen a child that young eat so many raw oysters.  How’d you get her to eat them?”

“She’s eating raw oysters?”

“She and a little boy are on the deck slurping them down as fast as they’re shucked.  It’s pretty funny, actually.”

We hurried outside to find her surrounded by a crowd of amused adults, poking at shellfish on a gas grill.  In 20 minutes without us, our host had taught her to eat raw oysters and steam mussels on the grill.

“These are really good,” she giggled.

“How many have you eaten?”  Pictures of partially digested shellfish reappearing on the backseat of our car swam before my eyes.  She shrugged.  “Ok, kiddo, let’s go have some potatoes or bread.  How about some bread?  Lots and lots of bread.”

As the months passed, she started to exhibit food preferences.  Food she was willing to eat when she came to live with us was suddenly unacceptable.  In the spring of her first year with us, her school’s PTA solicited favorite family recipes. Thinking I was the Best Mother Ever, I dutifully contributed our family’s favorite meal, caramelized salmon, asparagus with nutmeg butter, and herbed rice with toasted pine nuts.

“Ha!  No pasta salad recipe from this family,” I smugly typed up my contributions.  No boring cereal-based snack mix.  No crescent roll-wrapped wienie chunks.  No sirree.  We might be older than any of the other parents, but with age comes knowledge and sophistication, the kind of sophistication that can be useful to a child.  I’ll show you how to parent, you snarky people.  You won’t make room for my kid in your scout troop?  (“Your daughter should have started in first grade,” I was told, “because our troops don’t have any room for newcomers.  Maybe you should start your own troop.”)  Ha!  We don’t need your stupid scouts and your stupid cookies and dorky crafts.  Our kid plays the cello and eats fish that isn’t chopped up into “stix.”

In September, the family cookbooks were distributed and came home in The Daughter’s backpack.

“Oh, look,” I squealed like a — like a — well, like a little pig, “here’s our recipe!”  The Daughter looked over my shoulder and screwed up her face.

“Caramelized salmon?”  she asked.

“What?”

“I hate that stuff,” she shuddered.

“What do you mean you hate that stuff?  It’s our family’s favorite meal,” I protested.

“No, it isn’t.  Steak is my favorite meal.  Steak with Béarnaise and garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli.  Or spinach soufflé.”

“You don’t like asparagus with nutmeg butter?”

“Blech,” she spit out her tongue.

“What about the rice?” I asked timidly.

“I hate those nut things.”

“You mean the toasted pine nuts?”

“Whatever.  They’re like bugs.”

“You eat smoked salmon.”

“That’s different.  I love smoked salmon.”

“But — but — you always clean your plate.”

“Yeah, well, I know it means a lot to you, so I ate it, but I’m never eating it again.”

The honeymoon was over.  I had been hoodwinked by an 8-year old, but I took heart; one of her favorite foods was broccoli, and she knew the word Béarnaise.  I flipped through the cookbook.  Actually, I didn’t know if I could explain to the other mothers that my kid ate raw oysters and escargots and real sushi (not California roll) and all kinds of mushrooms, when I wasn’t sure it was acceptable in our community to have mothered an under-age foodie.

Now that The Daughter lives on her own, she has rediscovered cooked salmon (she’ll eat it pan-roasted with an aged balsamic garnish, but still not caramelized) and asparagus and rice (without nuts), so, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!

CARAMELIZED SALMON

Sugar coat

Sugar coat

This may seem a little tricky, but it’s deceptively easy to make.  The sugar doesn’t really sweeten the fish but adds a glossy coating.  If you aren’t familiar with cooking sugar at high temperatures, here are some very simple points to remember.

When heated, sugar changes property significantly.  It melts, browns, and, as it cools, will harden on your utensils and in the pan and affix to anything it touches, like hot glue, and about as dangerous.  Excess sugar will burn in the pan, so turn on your exhaust fan before starting.  Because the caramel hardens to anything it touches, you will need to put each fillet on its individual serving plate.  Not to worry!  Because it’s completely soluble in water, clean up is a breeze.

Ingredients:

Two cups of white, granulated sugar, measured into a pie plate

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 four-ounce skinless salmon fillets, about ½ – ¾ “ thick (Note:  fillet means boneless)

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

Season salmon with salt and pepper to taste, and press one side into the sugar until it is lightly coated.  Carefully turn over and press into sugar.  Leave the fish in the sugar while you prepare the pan.

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat for 30 seconds.  You don’t want the heat to be so high that the sugar caramelizes before the fish cooks.

Caramelizing salmon - don't worry, all that burnt sugar dissolves in water.

Caramelizing salmon – don’t worry, all that burnt sugar dissolves in water.

Carefully place each salmon fillet into the oil.  Cook 1½ minutes without moving, jiggling, swishing, etc.  Then lift one corner of the fillet to peek at the color of the coating.  It should have started to brown but not burn.  (If the fillet browns too quickly, remove the pan from the heat and reduce temperature to medium-low.)  Cook another minute, then carefully lift the fillet.  The sugar coating should have all caramelized; if not, cook another 30 seconds.  Again, you don’t want the sugar to blacken, but a little blackened edge is ok, if you need to get the fish cooked.

When lightly caramelized, turn the fillet over to the other side and cook another 1½ to 2 minutes.  Remove to each individual serving plate.


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The Myth of Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake with Buttercream Frosting

Red Velvet Cake with Buttercream Frosting

There are red velvet cakes, and then there are Red Velvet Cakes.  In the past five years, that staple of Southern cooks has been co-opted by trendy websites, blogs, magazines, chain restaurants, and cooking shows.  Somewhere along the way, the original recipe has permutated.  I, myself, have adapted the recipe that was passed on to me by My Mother, who got it in the 1950s from her sister who lives in Atlanta. Turns out, it may not have originated in the South at all.

As in religion, mythology explains the creation of something.  It doesn’t mean it isn’t true, it only posits a basis for everything that came after.  A search on Google shows as much speculation about Red Velvet’s origins as it does about its ingredients.  Some say it is based on so-called “velvet” cakes of the 19th century, which incorporated a little cocoa or almond flour to soften a cake’s texture.  Some say that the characteristic “red” color began with the redness of the cocoa or that of the brown sugar that was used.  Some say it originated at the Waldorf-Astoria.  Some say it originated at Eaton’s Department store in Toronto.  Some say its current incarnation was promoted by the Adams Extract company in Texas.

As with religion, no one can agree, so I’ll stick with my own lore of what a Red Velvet Cake should be, how it should look, and how it should taste.  I simply NEVER buy one in a bakery or restaurant, because they never correspond with the mythological essence stored in my brain.  I am a Red Velvet connoisseur.  I’ve been eating them for over 50 years.  It is my birthday cake of choice, and a birthday cake should always be exactly what I expect it to be when the fork hits my mouth.

The red color has always been controversial.  Before anyone was talking about carcinogens in food, one of my fourth grade classmates objected to the Red Velvet cupcakes that my mother sent to my class in honor of my 10th birthday, in 1962.

“EWWW!!!”  Teddy Rollo (name changed to protect the innocent) shrieked, after biting into one.  “It’s OX BLOOD!!!”  He dropped it on the floor.

“No, it isn’t!”  I shouted at him, as kids all over the classroom spit out my favorite cake.

“Then, why is it red?”  He stuck his buck-toothed, freckled face in mine.

“It’s food coloring!”  I snapped.

“Oh, for goodness’ sake,” our teacher yelled over the clamor.  “It’s cake!  There’s no blood involved, Teddy.  Settle down, class!”

“It’s just too weird,” one girl said to me apologetically and shrugged.

I was horrified to see half-eaten and uneaten cupcakes dumped in the trash.  What was the matter with these kids?  My mother had slaved over three dozen cupcakes for nothing.  I felt bad for her.  I felt bad for myself, and then I saw several untouched cupcakes left in the box for me, me, me!

Ten years later, the Soviets released a study that concluded that Red Dye No. 2, whose common name is amaranth, was a carcinogen.  Responding to public outcry, the FDA began its own study, which concluded that, in high dosages fed to female rats, there was a significant increase in the number of malignant tumors in the rats.  It was banned in 1976.

Uh-oh.  Would this be the end of Red Velvet Cake?  Nope.  Even though Red Dye No. 4 was eventually also prohibited as a food dye, Red Dye No. 40 continues to be acceptable in the US, despite the fact that it is banned in Europe, which, along with Canada, approves of Red Dye No. 2.  Did you follow that?  I had to google them all several times to make any sense of it.  Long story short, I buy my Red Dye No. 40 in bulk, so you can’t take Red Velvet Cake away from me.  I use two full ounces of it in mine, so that I get that authentic oxblood color.  I see those wimpy pink imposters that only use one ounce.  Tsk-tsk.  smh

Perfection!

Perfection!

I prefer a good French buttercream or my faux French buttercream frosting made with hot milk and granulated sugar, because I’m not a cream cheese frosting fan.  I find that the tang of the cream cheese clashes with the almond flavoring in the cake, and, if the cake is made traditionally with buttermilk and the vinegar-baking soda mixture, it doesn’t need any more tangy-ness.  In my so-called research, I found Red Velvet cupcakes frosted with almond-flavored cream cheese that might be tolerable, but I’d still rather have the frosting that my brain and stomach tell me belongs on Red Velvet cake.  Why mess with perfection?

My Sister made me a Red Velvet Cake for my birthday yesterday because she is The Best Sister Ever.  The cake was soft and tender; the frosting did not have a single crunch of undissolved granulated sugar (my biggest challenge in making that frosting).  And I had a big giant slice of perfection for breakfast this morning, also a family tradition.  After all, there are no calories on your birthday or the morning after, so, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!

 

RED VELVET CAKE

Ingredients:

2 oz red color

3 Tablespoons cocoa powder (do not used Dutch-processed)

½ cup vegetable shortening, softened (I use ¼ cup unsalted butter and ¼ cup shortening)

1½ cups sugar

2 eggs

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 teaspoons almond extract

1 Tablespoon vinegar

1 teaspoon baking soda

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Grease three 8” or two 9” cake pans with butter and line the bottoms with buttered parchment paper.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and salt.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, blend food coloring and cocoa to form a paste.  Add the shortening and sugar, and cream thoroughly.  With mixer running, add eggs one at a time until blended.

Mix in ¼ of the sifted flour mixture, alternating with ¼ cup buttermilk.  Stop mixer and scrape bowl and beaters.  Continue adding the remaining flour, alternating with the remaining buttermilk, beating thoroughly and scraping the bowl and beaters after each addition of buttermilk.  It’s important that the flour doesn’t clump into ugly white blobs in your pretty red batter.

Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts.

In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar and baking soda and then stir the mixture into the batter.

Pour batter equally into the prepared cake pans.  To decrease the number of large air bubbles trapped in the batter, run a sharp knife in an “s” shape through the batter in each pan.  Lift each pan about 1” off the counter and let drop onto the counter.  The larger bubbles will rise to the top and either break or can be broken with a toothpick.

Place pans in preheated oven and bake 30 minutes.  Insert a tester (toothpicks work just fine) into the center of each layer.  If it does not come out clean, bake another 5 minutes and retest with a clean tester.  In my oven, an 8” layer is usually done in 30 minutes.  The thicker 9” layers may take an extra 5-10 minutes.  But be careful that the edges of the cake don’t become brown.

When tester comes out clean, remove pans from the oven and place on a wire rack.  Let cake layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes.  You should see the cake’s edges pull away from the pan as it cools.  If not, gently run a plastic knife around the edge and wait 5 more minutes.

Place another cooling rack on top of the pans and flip.  Remove pans from the layers and the parchment from the cake and cool completely.  Frost with your favorite white frosting.

CAUTION:  I always lick the bowl and beaters, because I’ve been doing it for over 50 years, but it makes my mouth really red.  It also might give me salmonella, if the raw eggs in the batter are bad.  I don’t worry too much about it.  The red dye probably will kill me first.


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Twins

geminiAngelina Jolie and I have more in common than you might think.  We are both Gemini and share the same birth date, June 4.  I’m not bragging or anything, but she and I have been incredibly lucky in life.  We’re both fabulous actors.  We both were married to incredibly handsome and accomplished men and adopted beautiful children from exotic locales.  Well, in my case, Denver isn’t that exotic — exciting but not that distant.

Ms. Jolie and I are also missing our uteri.  When she wrote in the NY Times about her hysterectomy at the age of 39, I almost wrote to her to say, “Don’t worry.  It’s a piece of cake.”  I was 24 when I had my hysterectomy, and my life clearly didn’t end. I didn’t shrivel up.  I didn’t grow a beard or start singing bass.  I didn’t gain 50 pounds.  My husband didn’t leave me.  In fact, men still hit on me when he wasn’t around, because they just can’t tell.  You think no one’s going to hit on the beautiful Angelina Jolie because she’s missing a few body parts?

I’ve been without my uterus for almost 40 years and can’t say that I’ve missed it.  So what if I have a little untimely sweating?  It’s a small price to pay to stop menstruating, and pregnancy has never looked like a day at the beach to me.  When I was a little pudgy around the middle a few years ago, a stranger ask me if I was pregnant.  Was I embarrassed?  Heck no!  I was pretty excited that they thought I was young enough to be pregnant.  Woohoo!

Twins

Twins

Strangers frequently comment on how much The Daughter and I look alike.  Coincidentally, we are both short, and the corners of our mouths turn down naturally.  Our hair is the same color, thanks to my hairdresser.  (I have no idea what color mine really is any more, but I suspect it’s mostly white.)  I blame the “Stockholm Syndrome,” where the captive begins to identify with the captor.  There’s a lot more to parenting than passing along your DNA.  If you’re good at it, you pass along your values and instill your child with courage, perseverance, kindness, and hope, the character stuff that hasn’t yet been isolated on a chromosome.

I’ve had a lot of practice making lemonade out of lemons in my almost-63 years, and I’m always amazed at how a miracle pops up to lift me when things seem especially dark.  Why, just last week, it dawned on me that, because I’ve never been pregnant, I don’t have any stretch marks.  It made me laugh out loud, it was such an absurd thought.  On the other hand, find another 63-year old woman who can say that.  Now, I just need to figure out how to work that into my online dating profile.

Happy Birthday, Angelina!

DATE UPDATE:

I decided to give the dating site Zoosk a look-see because it claimed to be free.  Actually, it’s so confusing that I can’t tell what’s free and what isn’t, because now they tell me there’s stuff I can’t see, people I can’t contact, whatever.  Anyway, they have a feature called “Carrousel” where faces flash up, and you’re supposed to click “No”   “Maybe”    or    “Yes”.  You get a gold coin for each “Maybe” or “Yes.”  I have no idea what the coins are for, and I really don’t care.  This isn’t my kind of game.  I’m not a gambler, although online dating is a crap-shoot.

I’m shallow.  I’m a visual person.  I always judge books by their covers, which is probably why I haven’t found a serious date yet.  There seems to be something wrong with every photo that I see.  Again, I can’t stress enough that the fault lies with me, not with what are probably perfectly ideal men for normal, God-fearing, kind, decent, gracious, loving women.  No, I’m persnickety.  For instance, I am not attracted to profile photos of a man who

wears a Crocodile Dundee hat,

a cowboy hat,

a cowboy hat with a string tie and leather vest,

or a straw cowboy hat with a picture of a spitting cobra;

a bad toupee or a woman’s wig, even if it’s part of a Halloween costume;

a sombrero, beret, balaclava, or any kind of headscarf, including bandanas;

a captain’s hat, unless he’s in the Navy or Capt. Stubing;

a baseball cap with a suggestive slogan and especially not a backwards cap;

or a “Steelers” cap.

I don’t want to know anyone whose profile name includes the words “Snake bit” or “Luv,” “Hung,” “Kiss,” “Baby,” “4 U,” “Skin,” “Brst” (regardless of your choice of vowels), or “Steeler.”

I always skip photos of men whose eyes are closed, have partially hidden faces, look dazed and confused or Tased or are frowning;

or out of focus;

who are missing all or most of their front teeth  (please, no hate mail);

who wear more jewelry than I do and/or forget to remove their wedding bands (I told you I was persnickety);

who are covered in sweat or standing in a cemetery or using fingers to “shoot” at the camera (yep, I’ve seen ’em all).

I am wary of men whose style-icon is Donald Trump;

who look like they still follow the Dead, with locks longer than mine and carrying AARP cards;

who were stuck all winter in Donner Pass without a razor.

Men, don’t choose photos if your cellphone is visible as you take your selfie;

your computer monitor is reflected in your glasses so your eyes look like they’re glowing;

you’re being hugged/kissed by a woman who clearly isn’t your mother (especially on the mouth—ew!);

your photo shows five men, and you’re……..which?

your photo is date-stamped 2005;

your photo is an actual photo of Jack Lord from the original “Hawaii Five-0” (true);

you have photo-shopped stars and/or hearts on it;

you appear to be choking your dog/cat while restraining it;

you are up to your elbow in the mouth of a catfish;

your motorcycle is bigger than you are;

your car is the most prominent feature in your photo;

your dress shirt is unbuttoned to your belt buckle, exposing things that are best hidden until we know each other better—if ever;

you’re wearing a sleeveless sweatshirt, tank top, or wife beater, even if you have guns of steel.

And, for the love of all that is good and holy, NO SHIRTLESS PHOTOS!!!!

Especially if you’re on a beach in swim trunks with a Crocodile Dundee hat and a Duck Dynasty beard, because nobody, but NOBODY wants to see that.  (Having seen that, I may never be the same again.)

I couldn’t make this stuff up, folks.  It writes itself, so who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!


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Secret Ingredients

I received a wonderful gift for Mother’s Day.  My Mother fixed dinner for us.  We were in shock.  In the TVLand of the 1950s, the stereotypical mother cooked three fabulous meals a day for her grateful family.  Mine did not.  At least once a week, My Dad would walk into the house, note that the stove was empty, and say, “I guess we’re going out to eat.”

Although it seemed like a great treat to have her fix dinner for us, there was some trepidation on our part.  For the past 40 years, I have been the family cook for Important Holidays and Other Significant Occasions.

“She says she’s making roast beef,” My Sister informed me.

“What?!”  I was incredulous.  I’m the succulent beef roaster, served with freshly-grated horseradish root, port-laced au jus, glazed carrots, and crispy Yorkshire Pudding.

“Mm-hmm.”  She muttered.

“But she doesn’t like to cook.  Maybe we should order out Chinese or Italian.”

“I offered, but she said she wanted to make roast beef,” My Sister sighed.

I considered bringing a bottle of red wine, because I can eat anything, even mushrooms, if I gulp them with copious amounts of wine.  My Mother thinks that all meat should be served well-done, which means gray and dry.  After living with The Veterinarian for 42 years, I now eat beef medium-rare and, occasionally, even carpaccio, if the kitchen is trustworthy.

When dining out with My Mother, we pray that she orders fish.  I have seen her fight with waiters over meat that she said was presented still “mooing” and have seen chefs in perfectly fine restaurants refuse to serve her prime rib well-done.    We grovel with the waiter when she orders beef, begging them for an “outside cut.”

It turns out that we needn’t have worried.  She made pot roast, one of  my favorite recipes.  Still, she grumbled.

Secret Ingredient

Secret Ingredient

“I couldn’t find canned French onion soup at any of the grocery stores,” she said, “no Campbell’s, no Progresso, not even a generic store-brand.”

The key to her pot roast is two cans of Campbell’s French Onion soup.  It’s the only soup that I ever cook with, and I only use it to make pot roast, because, well, it tastes like Mom’s.  It isn’t too salty, like that dry soup mix, and it doesn’t have mushrooms.  You simply dredge a piece of lean chuck roast in flour with salt and pepper, brown it on all sides in hot oil and drain on paper towels.  Then, you pour one can of the soup in the bottom of a Dutch oven or slow-cooker, top it with the meat, whole peeled carrots, and celery (with the leaves), pour another can of soup over the top, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to very low and simmer for at least 2-1/2 hours.  Alternatively, you can cook it, covered, in a 325° oven, which My Mother did.  Hence, roast beef.

Of course, a lot of sliced onions and beef broth will give the same effect, but I think that  piece of pseudo Swiss cheese in the soup can makes a richer sauce.  Yes, I’m delusional.  Although I’ve not read the soup can’s label, it’s probably a mess of chemicals, but I just don’t care.  It’s the taste and the memories that make the difference.

My Mother finds gravy a challenge, too, although this time it was nearly perfect.  She strains the broth to remove the vegetables and globs of fat and meat and reheats it in a saucepan.  Then her technique gets a little “dicey,” as she takes her ancient, empty jar of Taster’s Choice instant coffee crystals, into which she places flour and — yikes! — cold water, which she shakes vigorously, increasingly complaining that it won’t smoothly blend.  She stirs this into the hot broth and tries to stir out the inevitable lumps with a spoon.  This produces more grumbling.  I offered to make the gravy, but she wouldn’t let me near the stove.

Let me tell you how to really make gravy.  You start with two tablespoons of hot fat — strained pan drippings or butter — and slowly whisk in two tablespoons of flour, until the mixture is smooth and bubbling.  To make more gravy, use more fat and flour, in equal proportions. Then, and only then, do you slowly whisk in enough hot broth to make a thick gravy.  It’s better to have gravy that’s too thin, because you can always reduce it by simmering (or boiling, if you’re really pressed for time).  If it’s too lumpy, just pass it through a sieve.  No sweat.

With My Mother and My Sister, 1958

With My Mother and My Sister, 1958

All in all, our meal did just what a Mother’s Day dinner should do, evoke memories of family and love, which puts the comfort into food.  No one had to get dressed up or grovel with waiters or dodge the traffic in downtown Baltimore headed to hear the Artist-Once-Again-Known-as-Prince in his “Rally 4 Peace.”

DATE UPDATE:

I had two dates with a mostly pleasant widower a couple of weeks ago.  I don’t think I’ll hear from him again, which is ok.  We disagreed about voting (I do; he hasn’t for 20 years), current events (he doesn’t pay attention to the news; I do), and the hospitality of the French.  I have never had a bad time in France.  He hates the French.  That’s a quote, not a paraphrase.  He said that the French are only nice to me because I speak French.  I pointed out that The Veterinarian didn’t speak French at all.  I pointed out several occasions when the French have been extremely gracious to me, my family, or my friends, but he wasn’t convinced.

I told him about a train trip in France where some young people made rude remarks about Americans.  Two middle-aged Frenchmen sitting in front of us got up and chewed the kids out.  On their way back to their seats, the men came to us and apologized in English.  I replied in my choppy but intelligible French with beaucoup smiles.  Graciousness when traveling goes a long way to effective communication with others.

My date remained unconvinced, and in the end, I didn’t see myself traveling any place with him, much less through the remainder of my life.  Oh, yeah!  And he doesn’t drink wine.  Maybe that’s why he doesn’t like France.  Maybe that’s why I don’t like him.

I received an email from a man who said he was a medical researcher and teacher with a PhD.  He wrote to me, “Hi!  Cute photo!”  I read his profile essay, which said he was born in Canada, and skimmed his other profile information, noting that he had traveled a lot and lived abroad.

I thanked him for his compliment and said, “I grew up in Detroit.  Where in Canada were you born?”

His response?  “Hmmm.  I guess you didn’t really read my profile…”

Mystified, I re-read his profile, which still only said that he was born in Canada, but down below, under the notes section, where I noticed again that he refused to comment on his “Faith,” that he speaks English and French, and then, near the bottom, under “Favorite Hot Spots,” between “Love NYC and San Francisco” and “lived in Tel Aviv” that he was born in Montreal.  Oops!  My bad.  That’s why I was a better English major than chemistry major, failure to note the minutiae.

I replied, “Sorry.  I did read your profile, but the items under “Hot Spots” didn’t stick in my memory.  Bonne chance! [Good luck]”  I wanted to say, “Sorry, Professor, I read your profile but didn’t realize there would be a quiz.”  Yes, I made a mistake, but a little graciousness on his part would have been nice.

Yesterday, a man who lives 50 miles away in Washington, DC and whose profile claims to only be interested in women within 40 miles, asked me to Skype him.  I know how lame I sounded telling him that I don’t have access to the internet except through cellular data.  I told him I would be happy to correspond by email, citing my geographic undesirability.  Of course, he hasn’t responded.

Then, there was this guy, whose grammar is questionable: “Oh boy do I love the sarcasm.  I am that way as well.  Your profile is a great read & in person I bet it’s a million times better.  Now that I am retired I had made several considerations.  I opted out on all of them except for going to hell in a hand basket.  I haven’t been there yet.  Oh wait, I’ve got that covered.  I use [sic] to live in New Jersey…”

“Do I sound that wacky in my profile?”  I fretted.  I reconsidered myself and rewrote my profile to sound more gracious; sweet, gentle, kind, patient, forgiving, loving, tolerant, demure, meek, etc., etc., etc., a ruse that I have tried in the past without success.

Today, I received this from a man in Pennsylvania, “I enjoyed reading your profile.  It was clear, direct plain … and positive.  I do not seek a reply.  You have a very interesting personality.”

I translated this as:  “For God’s sake, don’t write to me, crazy lady!”

By the way, My Mother, who isn’t crazy about France, either, loved the blouse that I bought for her birthday last October and then lost and didn’t find in time for Christmas and finally gave her for Mother’s Day.  She gave me a giant Tootsie Roll, my favorite childhood candy.  We shared love and comfort on Mother’s Day, so, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!


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Éirinn go Brách

From the daughter of Maggie Begley, the great-granddaughter of Maggie Doherty Tincher, and the great-great-granddaughter of Maggie Hegarty

From the daughter of Maggie Begley, the great-granddaughter of Maggie Doherty Tincher, and the great-great-granddaughter of Maggie Hegarty Doherty/Daugherty/Dougherty

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Like most Americans, I’m a mutt.  My biological ancestors came from various parts of Europe.  Through oral tradition, my maternal grandmother could recite the family tree all the way back to 18th century America.  She bequeathed the family Bible to my mother along with bits and pieces of legal and anecdotal records.  From eastern Kentucky, she claimed that we had descended from Daniel Boone, which I always doubted, because, apparently, everyone in Kentucky claims to be descended from the man in the coonskin cap.  She also said that her grandfather, Francis “Frank” Daugherty (alternately spelled “Doherty” and “Dougherty” and pronounced “darty”), had emigrated from Ireland.  Francis passed along that his mother was Maggie Hegarty, a name he bestowed on my great-grandmother.  My grandmother named my mother “Maggie” after her.

Now, my mother will tell you that she despises her name because, according to her, it sounds like the name of a “washer woman” or laundress. I realize that the Irish (as with my paternal Italian forebears) were held in low esteem in the 19th and early 20th century.  So, too, were my mother’s ancestors in the hills of Appalachia.  You’ve seen “The Beverly Hillbillies”, right?  Therefore, using the system of reasoning that I did not comprehend in 10th grade geometry, does it make sense that she gave me “Maggie” as my middle name?  “Suzanne Maggie” doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue.  It has neither an “Anglo-Saxon” nor Gallic (“Suzanne” is French for “Susannah”) ring to it.  At any rate, I am Maggie times four.  At least.  Who knows how many are buried on the ould sod?

Worse yet, when I was a child, St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated in all its green glory.  I learned in my Catholic catechism class that green represented the Catholic Irish who rebelled against the evil English government, which was “protestant.”  My Mother was confirmed in a Lutheran church (can’t be more protestant than Martin Luther), when her family moved to Detroit, but I never knew them to belong to a church of any denomination.  I was a little ashamed to be descended from those quarrelsome protestant Irish, so I wore neither green nor orange.

About 20 years ago, on a trip to a conference in Nashville, My Mother and I stopped in the tiny Appalachian town where she was born.  On this trip to Kentucky, we visited with every surviving relative that she knew.  One of them, my grandmother’s first cousin, had a house full of Catholic artifacts that she had rescued from the local Catholic church when it was closed.  Why?  Because she was Catholic!  “Was her late husband Catholic?” I asked.  “Oh, no,” she replied and explained her family’s religious affiliation. Apparently, the sons of my great-great-grandfather Frank had remained Catholic.  The daughters, who married protestant men, became protestants.  Faith and begorrah!

In the 19th century, Catholic priests rarely visited the isolated community, until it grew enough to raise up a Catholic parish.  Francis married a local girl (Marticia Cole — and that name’s a story for another day) from a protestant family, and their daughter, Maggie Daugherty, married William Tincher, a protestant of Irish origins stretching back into the 17th century in the colonies.  My grandmother married a “Begley,” also an Irish name but a protestant family. Were they ever Catholic?  Who knows?  My Mother the Lutheran married My Dad the Italian Catholic, and now I, their daughter, who was raised a Catholic, is an Episcopalian (technically, a reformed Catholic, not a protestant).  I guess I can wear whatever the hell I want to.  Talk about mutts…

Thanks to Ancestry.com, I have been able to corroborate my grandmother’s anecdotal information on her family’s history.  Other than her grandfather, all of the family with Irish surnames who emigrated to the colonies were born in England.  The rest of  the hardy souls had English names.   Among them, Ancestry also corroborated that we do descend directly from Daniel Boone through his youngest daughter, Levina, not once, but twice, which would be kind of incestuous if the generations weren’t spread out so far.  Yet another story for another day.

Today, I’ll be Irish.  After all, St. Patrick was a mutt himself.  He was born in what was probably modern-day Scotland to British parents, who were Roman citizens, and kidnapped by Irish pirates into slavery and taken to Ireland.

Because I’m a mutt, I prefer my corned beef on rye, Champagne to Guinness, and garlic toast to soda bread.   I will salute the sainted Padraig with a verse from the prayer attributed to him, St. Patrick’s Breastplate:

I bind unto myself today
the virtues of the starlit heaven
the glorious sun’s life-giving ray,
the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free,
the whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth, the deep salt sea,
around the old eternal rocks.

DATE UPDATE:

I’m on vacation this week and experienced almost three days without wifi.  Horrors!  When I was able to reconnect, I was met with the usual scammers.  Maybe it’s the sun.  Maybe it’s the rum.  Maybe it’s the companionship of old friends and the safety of being several thousand miles from home, but I decided to confront the scammers.

I received an email from someone who had obviously stolen a well-written profile.  He/she (because who knows who’s behind this stuff) wrote an ungrammatical email.  I thought I would be helpful and responded:

“Helpful hint:  When stealing a person’s photo and profile, it would be a good idea to write in the grammatical style of the original profile, if you wish to be successful at scamming.”

I’ve had no reply.

A 62-year old legitimate prospect emailed me, questioning what he called my “diatribe” about grammar and spelling, which I’ve included in my profile.  I replied, explaining that I receive emails from 3-5 scammers each day and was hoping to weed them out.  He responded that he hears occasionally from 20-30 year old women but had not heard from any scammers.  I’m sure you join me in my amusement that a 62-year old man with a full white beard thinks that 20-30 year old women aren’t scammers.

I had a guy, without a profile photo, IM me.  Bored, I asked him why he didn’t have a photo.  He gave me the typical, grammatically garbled explanation about not knowing how to upload photos.  I told him to go away and stop wasting my time.  I wanted to say, “If you aren’t smart enough to figure out how to upload a photo, you aren’t smart enough to date me.”

Finally, I had a delusional moment.  THE sweetest 41-year old man emailed me,

“What does a stunning woman need with a dating site? I can’t imagine you have difficulty meeting someone. In fact, I’d assume you have suitors lined up for miles waiting for their opportunity to approach you.”

After I picked myself up off the floor, I wrote back,

“Assuming that you are serious, I’m going to respond to one of the few real emails that I have received in almost eight months of online dating… currently, there are no available attractive, intelligent, sophisticated gentlemen in my age bracket within a 50 mile radius of Baltimore (consider that includes DC, Frederick, the Eastern Shore, southern PA, and Wilmington). Well, apparently, there are a few, but they all want women who are considerably younger than I. The ones who are 50-70 and look like my grandfather want someone 35-45…”

His adorable reply,

“Yes, I am sincere and I’m sorry that you’ve had nothing but disappointment and despair with online dating. Yes, sadly, there are a lot of people online who are fakes or just looking for sex but they don’t make up the majority.

If there are none of those types of men in your age bracket, then I suggest opening up your age range to someone much younger than yourself. There are many like me who are seeking a mature woman for dating and not for the cliche reasons: sex, money, etc.”

Well, my goodness gracious, pass this old lady the smelling salts!  If things don’t pick up here, I may expand that age bracket to 40-60.  I just might be a cougar, after all.  Bring on the tight leopard-print capris!  The false eyelashes!  The platform heels!  (No, wait, that’s how I broke my patella three years ago.)

OMG!  Could I really date someone young enough to be my son?  Even I am not that delusional.  Maybe I could fix him up with The Daughter…So, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria! 


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First World Problems

First World Problem:  The sand is too rough on your feet.

First World Problem: The sand is too rough on your feet.

Would you buy a 72” flat-screen television just to watch the Super Bowl and return it for a refund the next day?  I didn’t think so, because we’re not that crazy, but, apparently, some people are.  What kind of people think that their television screen isn’t big enough on which to watch a football game once a year?  First World People, that’s who.  Who are these sorry folks?  I hate to tell you this, but we are.

If you grew up in the US in the 1950s, you undoubtedly were scolded by a parent, who survived the Great Depression, for not eating your peas/liver and onions/prunes with “There are children starving in Europe/Africa/China who would love to have it.”  If you were smart, you gritted your teeth to restrain the words, “Then, send it over to them” from leaving your lips.  Duly admonished, however, the guilt probably sank in a little, because there wasn’t much that a 9-year old in Eisenhower’s America could do about world famine other than to fret, briefly, on the possibility that there was a world beyond what was shown to us on television.

My father also used to remind us that “Everything is relative” and “This, too, shall pass.” Throughout my life, I’ve tried to temper my frustrations and sorrows by putting them in perspective.  Is this surmountable?  How do I make this better?  Is this really as bad as I think it is?  Sometimes, it is, so I have also learned to deal with it humorously.

For example, when my father died after a devastating two years of ALS (remember last summer’s ice bucket challenge?), My Mother and I, accompanied by my uncle, stood with the funeral director looking at caskets and vaults.

“In this end, we place a time capsule with the deceased’s name, place and date of birth, and place and date of death.”

“Oh,” My Mother the history buff quipped, “is that so when they dig us all up in a thousand years, there won’t be any mystery about who we were?  Maybe they’ll confuse us with someone important.”  We snickered together.

The funeral director smiled uncertainly and moved on to the vaults, describing how they were made out of the same material as football helmets.

“Well, that’s perfect for Daddy,” I chimed in.  “He played football in high school and will feel right at home.”  My Mother and I laughed, while the funeral director and my uncle exchanged sympathetic looks of the “Poor-little-women-in-their-grief” variety.

People were equally disconcerted when The Veterinarian died unexpectedly, yet I didn’t go to pieces. (Yes, I saw the looks on the faces of people who don’t know me very well.)  First of all, my faith swooped in and picked me up.  The first thing I did was pray and ask God to take over.  As always, God did.  The second thing I could hear was my beloved husband’s voice say, “Don’t panic.  When you panic, you’ve lost.” In my head, I heard My Mother’s voice say, “Keep going.”  In every way, my life had prepared me for that moment.  And when, within days, I was beset with confounding legal issues and was diagnosed with hypertension, I was able to keep moving forward, when some around me could only react with fear.  I truly felt joy at the outpouring of love from the hundreds of people who offered condolences in person or by mail.  (And that, ladies and gentleman, is how to celebrate a life lived generously.)  The stories that were shared lifted my spirits in ways that no pharmaceutical ever could.

In the first weeks, I found that I couldn’t concentrate enough to read.  I discovered humorous crime novels.  In a matter of weeks, I read every book Janet Evanovich ever wrote.  I read funny “chick lit” from Mary Kay Andrews, Sophie Kinsella, and the wacky vampires of MaryJanice Davidson, stuff I had never read before.  I tuned my satellite radio to the comedy channels.  The sound of laughter, even if it was only my own, was the sound of life.  It balanced the sorrow and stress and misery, while the prayers of so many kept me afloat.  I put my life back in perspective.

In the "Lingerie Tankini" with The Daughter

In the “Lingerie Tankini” with The Daughter

This week, The Daughter and I are on vacation in a delightfully sunny haven.  Mostly sunny, I should say.  Yesterday, we had some clouds and scattered rain as we sat by the pool, reading and contemplating what to have for lunch.  We were aware that, while we were complaining of  only having 3-6 hours of sunshine, back home, 3-6” of snow were forecast.  There wasn’t much that we could do about it other than to fret, briefly, on the possibility that our family and friends were frantically searching grocery stores for MBTp.  Still, the clouds cut into our pool time, so we sighed and compiled some First World Problems.  If any of these are make-or-break problems for you, you need to lighten up!  If we’ve forgotten any, feel free to add them using “Reply.”

First World Problems

You’re the only second grader who doesn’t have a smartphone.

Your Hawaiian vacation rental is garden-view, not oceanfront.

Your dishwasher doesn’t have a stainless steel interior.

Your refrigerator doesn’t have ice in the door.

Your kitchen countertops are Formica.

Your twins share a bedroom.

Your cable plan doesn’t include HBO.

Your new diet doesn’t allow McDonald’s.

Your pre-packaged salad isn’t “organic.”

Your “Parmesan” cheese was made in Wisconsin.

Your Caribbean vacation is 80° and partly cloudy.

You’re forced to stream iTunes, because Pandora doesn’t work outside the US.

Your server gives you an extra cocktail for free.

You have to drive to three different stores to find chipotle-and-lime tortilla chips.

You’re on vacation, and you still have to empty the dishwasher.

 

DATE UPDATE:

Today, The Daughter and I decided that Jane Austen, as broadminded as she was for the early 19th century, would be dumbfounded by the modern world of courtship.  Austen’s heroines find themselves looking for love in all the right places, in their social milieu.  They encounter posers, narcissists, damaged heroes, philanderers, the aristocracy, and ne’er-do-wells.  Luckily for them, they encounter them at church, parties, and dances, in shops or at tea, face-to-face, to size up the character of their romantic prospects through their friends, families, manners, speech, and dress.

Alas, dear Reader, today we encounter them hiding behind fake photos, fake profiles, and false modesty traveling at the speed of light through the Great Unknown to my computer.  I receive at least four to five introductory emails each day that just say, “Textme1235555555,” as if I have been lobotomized and am sitting with cellphone in hand.  Men actually say they are looking for “a lady with benefits,” which is an oxymoron, if I’ve ever heard one.  Their photographic introductions show them bare-chested, in wifebeaters, squinting into their cellphone camera lenses, and one just posted a photo of only his legs and feet.  I don’t want to know why.

Actually, on chemistry*com, probably 85% of the profiles don’t even have a photo, which is really a pig in a poke, if you ask me.  “Ask him for a photo” it says.  Some, like a guy calling himself “mensadoc,” are “Still thinking of something to write,” according to the site.  Really?  You’re a member of Mensa, have a doctoral degree, and can’t put together a photo and 200 words about yourself?  Slacker.

In my new profile on chemistry, I say, “I’m that cute, ladylike-but-sassy girl in your high school English class.”  Someone emailed, “Hey, cute sassy girl!  We can swing through the trees like Tarzan and Jane.”  Excuse me?!   Another man wrote to me and said that in my photos I appear, “cute, patient, and gentle.”  Oh, dear.  I suppose I’ve oversold myself and will have to make it clear that I am only one of the three.  Looks are deceiving on this end of the internet, too.  I read on a website called “online dating tips” that it’s trite to describe yourself as “funny.”  Well, I am funny.  That’s one of my great strengths, n’est-ce pas?  But this, too, shall pass, so, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!

 

 


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How to stuff a not-so-wild bikini

The wildest bathing suit I ever owned, c. 1971

At 100 pounds, in the wildest bathing suit I ever owned, c. 1971  –  The “hippie” glasses had lavender lenses.

I made the mistake of trying on bathing suits yesterday.  I know.  January is not the month for that.  I assumed that it would be a more pleasant experience than in recent years, having lost some weight and rearranged a couple of crucial body parts.  Unfortunately, I forgot that there was pasty white skin lurking beneath my clothes.  I went to a shop that only sells beachwear, so the lighting in the dressing room was forgiving and designed to make skin look pinkish, but it couldn’t disguise either the marks around my waist from my jeans or the elastic from my socks around my calves.

First, I had to struggle with size.  What size am I now?  My old suits don’t fit.  The tops stood away from my body, which horrified me that I ever wore such a thing in the first place, not to mention that it fit!  The first tops that I tried on were too small.  I wasn’t sure how to take that.  Should I be happy that I still have some womanly curves or concerned that I still have that pesky “arm pit fat” that I didn’t know I had until the surgeon pointed it out to me?

And I still have hips.  I’ve always had hips, even when I weighed a hundred pounds.  With hope in my heart, I tried on a size “small” bottom, but it dug into my fat — er — skin, so I went with the medium bottom, which I’ve always worn. The more things change, the more they remain the same.  There was a time when I wore real bikinis.  I’m always shocked when I see what I used to wear, but, like most of the fleet, that ship has sailed.

So, what style?  High-waisted bottom?  Skirted?  Low cut top?  Screaming red?  Horizontal stripes?  Metallics?  One piece?  Tankini?  I’ve always worn black and navy, so it would be nice to enliven my color palette (as the magazines say).

I decided on tankinis, those two-piece suits that allow you to cover up your midsection.  Since I never go into the water (except a hot tub or briefly into the pool to cool off), I like their convenience.  I prefer to sit in a lounge chair, basting and turning like a chicken, while I read the latest chick lit and sip on a cold drink.  This can take a few hours, so I usually need to visit the ladies’ room from time to time, and I have no patience with tugging at a one piece.  If the cold drink is an adult beverage, I may not be coordinated enough to manage it.

Timidly, I tried on a black number that was jazzed up with a little crocheted lace trim and a little skirt for the bottom.  I texted a selfie to The Daughter for her opinion.

“Lingerie?”  She jumped in her car and drove to meet me at the mall.  God only knows what kind of senility had overcome her mother.

I tried on another suit with a little ruffle around the bodice and the bottom.  Again, it was conservatively black, although the narrow ruffle was a print, predominately coral.  It had a built-in bra.  Much more appropriate for a 62-year old woman.  Surely, the Daughter would approve.

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about what your daughter thinks,” the kind saleslady advised, as she took away a ghastly horizontally striped two piece in hot pink and navy.  “Age is just a number.”  Yeah, sure.  You just want to make a sale.  I’m the one who’s going to hear about it while we’re on vacation.

For many years, when I was in my 30s, I kept a New Yorker cartoon on my bathroom mirror.  It showed an older woman in a lacy, off-the-shoulder, debutante-style dress with a bow in her hair and a cameo necklace.  The caption read, “Clara never realized that time had passed.”  Of course, 30 years ago, “Clara” was seen through a glass dimly, but I kept it as a reminder.  Unfortunately, I lost that cartoon when we remodeled the bathroom, but, somehow, “Clara” has started appearing in my mirror.

“Maybe it’s the skirted bottom,” the helpful saleslady brought a plain bottom to the dressing room.  “Try this one.  It’s not as busy.”  She was right.  It looked sleeker and less like a tap costume.  Still, there was no bra in the top, and, no matter how perky my recent “rearrangement” left me, I felt a little too exposed.  I sprang for the ruffled suit and asked them to hold the one with the lace for the Daughter’s approval.  I met her outside the store.

“Listen,” I said, “they’re holding that black suit for me that you thought was lingerie.  I’m not sure I should buy it, so, when I show it to you, say you don’t like it.”

“OK,” she agreed.  We walked into the store, and the saleslady produced the suit.

“OMG!” The Daughter exclaimed.  “I love it.  You should buy it.”  Traitor!  I gave her The Look.

“You see,” she explained to the saleslady, “my mother is doing online dating now but doesn’t really present herself all that well.  She needs to be more exciting.  Mom, you should definitely buy that suit, and, if you don’t like it, you should give it to me.”

DATE UPDATE:

I have six weeks left on my Match subscription, and I think I’m done.  I’ve tried everything.  I tried being myself.  I tried being non-offensive.  I tried being someone else for about 24 hours.  Now, I’ve hidden my profile until my membership expires.  The Daughter is concerned that I’m wasting money, but it all seems to have been a money waster from the beginning.  I’ve emailed over 20 men who appeared to be “matches” and only heard from the one who said tersely, “We are not a match.”  I was advised that men like to be the pursuer and are turned off by women who approach them first.  I was advised that it’s a new world and that women shouldn’t wait for a man to approach them.  A Catch-22 situation all around.

Last week, I heard from multiple scammers, including another woman who claimed to be writing for her boss.  I also heard from one of the many inappropriate men on Match.  He was 65, never married, and agnostic with shoulder length hair (!), who described himself as an “underachieving wiseass…looking for a drama free woman.”  He wrote, “Would you take a chance on a hippie who is now attoning [sic] for his misspent youth?”

Oh, you have got to be kidding me.  I’m one of the few people of my generation who has never smoked weed.  I wasn’t a hippie when everyone flirted with being a hippie in the 60s and 70s, not even beads and peace symbols or even macramé plant holders. I still can’t stand the smell of patchouli.

In my Peter Pan collar and box-pleated skirt, sitting on the lawn next to my French instructor with cigarette in her hand.

In my Peter Pan collar and box-pleated skirt, sitting on the lawn next to my French instructor with cigarette in her hand.

My freshman year in college in 1971, I had a French language instructor who owned one pair of ripped jeans, two ribbed turtlenecks (one navy, one mauve), a pair of lace-up moccasins, and a necklace of beaded flowers.  Her fashion sense was to ring her eyes with kohl and plaster her lips with Max Factor Erace (that old grease-stick concealer).  We had a mutual dislike for one another.  I wore skirts and bell-bottomed slacks with real shoes and was the best student in the class.  It drove her nuts.

She also chain-smoked during class, one of those ghastly things that people are no longer allowed to inflict on others.  One day, she finished a cigarette, dropped it on the classroom floor, and, while rubbing it out, ground a hole through the bottom of her moccasin and burned her foot.  You know what they say about Karma…

In answer to your question, sir, “No.  No hippies.  No one of any kind who hasn’t gotten over their misspent youth or even their misspent middle-age.”

Maybe I should just misspend my “Golden Years.” Maybe I’ll keep that little lacy black tankini for myself.  Since the geezers my age think I’m too old for them, I can always blame it on senility, so who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!