every girl needs a greek chorus

a blog about hope


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Queen of All I See

I tend to swear a lot when I drive alone in my car.  Other drivers aggravate me when they tailgate, drive too slow, drive too fast, fail to signal, abruptly cross lanes of traffic to exit, stop in the middle of the road, drive without headlights, come at me with their high beams, don’t clear the snow off their windshields, play music too loud, park too close to my car, bang my car with their doors, park in restricted spaces without authorization, and on and on.

However, I am a lady.  It would never occur to me to set their car on fire.  Or smash their windshield with a baseball bat.

Instead of a bat, I want a magic wand.  I would wave my glittering wand in their direction and POOF!  The offender would disappear instantly, transported to their final destination — their earthly destination, that is — so that they couldn’t endanger anyone else.

When an inconsiderate fool with 20 items gets into the express lane for 15 items and under, instead of shoving my cart into their backside, I would wave my wand and POOF!  They would be transported to the end of the longest line in the store.  While they wait contentedly, they could enjoy the tabloid headlines: Sleep your Fat Away, Baking Wedding Cakes with Three Common Household Ingredients, Self-Mowing Lawns, etc., etc., etc.

When a clerk talks on her cellphone while waiting on me, instead of slapping it away from her ear, I would use my wand to send her on a break and replace her with one of the wacky characters from the British television classic Are You Being Served?  We customers would be gently amused and served tea out of fine bone china while our purchases are wrapped in discreet packages with elegant ribbon.

When my flight is delayed for mechanical issues, instead of ranting and raving to the gate agent, I would wave my wand and POOF!  I would be transported with my loved ones to a private beach on my own private island — in a comfy chair under a shady palm tree with an infinite supply of good books — and a cooler full of iced beverages — and nothing to do all day — forever.  No jerks.  No fools.  No swearing.  Queen for Eternity.

With a private chef.  My idea of heaven includes a skinny me eating all my favorite foods, guilt-free, no fat, no calories, no carcinogens, and food that I didn’t even know existed.  Ambrosia.  The Nectar of the Gods.  All that crazy good stuff.  Transports of delight.  Even food that I can’t stand.

IMG_5067When I was a child, I ate three vegetables, corn, green beans, and potatoes.  It’s a wonder that I survived, isn’t it?  When I learned to cook, I discovered a whole new world of earthly delights.  For example, asparagus.  I always hated asparagus when I was a kid, because it came in a can and was a slimy, drab olive green.  It smelled bad and tasted like the can.

What a treat to find out that the real thing, properly prepared, tastes almost sweet, especially when garden-fresh.  I look for stalks that are a uniform diameter, either all tiny or no bigger than ½” in diameter.  I look for heads with tight “petals,” preferably almost purple.  If I’m not preparing it immediately, I cut off the bottoms to even them up and stand them in ½” of water.   When ready to cook, I break off the tough bottoms by flexing the stalk until it snaps.  (It actually does the work for you.)  If they’re larger than ½”, I scrape them with a vegetable peeler.

IMG_5073Don’t be intimidated by asparagus steamers.  Even I, the collector of obscure cooking equipment don’t have one.  Just follow these super-easy directions:

In a skillet large enough to lay the asparagus in one layer, bring 1” of water to a boil.  Gently lay the prepared stalks in the boiling water.  Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes or until a bright green, never drab green.  If your stalks are under ½” in diameter, reduce cooking time to 2 minutes.  Turn off heat, remove skillet, and carefully drain the stalks.  Return stalks to the hot skillet and roll in 2 Tablespoons of butter and 1/8 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg.  If desired, sprinkle with freshly squeezed lemon juice and sea salt to taste.  Serve immediately.

After 40 years, I’ve learned what asparagus smells like when it’s properly cooked.  When it’s overcooked, it smells like that stuff in the can.  Of course, asparagus is one of those foods whose fragrance returns to haunt you a few hours after dinner, if you know what I mean.  Of course, I’m a lady and wouldn’t dare use the “p” word…wink, wink.

DATE UPDATE:

Things have been really sloooow.  100 men (I assume they were all men) viewed my profile last week.  I like to reset my view counter each week to see how many men I have frightened away.  Of the 100 potential suitors (that sounds idiotic, even to me), several were brave enough to wink, like, or favorite me.

An attractive man winked at me, so I returned a wink, but he did not respond, so I still don’t understand the purpose of winking.  Maybe he was winking at someone else.  If he winked at me in public, I would have made eye contact and smiled.  If he turned away, I would have looked around to see if he was winking at someone else.  You know, that embarrassing moment when you realize that someone is not waving at you, as you wave back at them? Maybe it was a pity wink.

I received another message from match.com about a different attractive man that read, “So-and-So is interested in you.”  He only lives 15 minutes from me, so I read his profile and, thinking that I should have written to the other guy instead of just returning a wink, I commented on a photo of him on a sailboat, asking where he was when the photo was taken.  That was three days ago. My email box says the message hasn’t been read.  Does that mean that it was deleted or just not read? Maybe I shouldn’t have commented?

No one tells you these things.  I googled “Online Dating Etiquette” and found conflicting information.  Maybe he didn’t read it (match says he’s been online every day).  Maybe he deleted it (no way of knowing).  The “experts” say that I should just move on to the next guy because the more that I look and the more that I answer the more chance I have that the next guy who is interested or winks or shows up in my “Daily Matches” could be THE one.

I’m having my doubts.

More from the “experts”:  Guys who wink instead of writing are “players.”  Guys who wink instead of writing are just shy.  Guys who click “interested” without writing are just shopping.  Guys who click “interested” fear rejection.  Guys who are still married say they’re “currently separated.”  Guys want confident women who write to them first (ha!).  Guys of a certain age don’t like women who initiate contact.

You should answer every email, even if you aren’t interested.  It’s ok to ignore email from guys you don’t like.  Send a second email, if the guy doesn’t respond.  Never send a second email, if the guy doesn’t respond.  Don’t lie about your age.  It is expected that everyone shaves a couple years off their age.  Contact guys who want much younger women because much younger women don’t want them, anyway.  Don’t contact guys who want much younger women because they’re delusional.

Where’s Emily Post when you need her?  This is why manners are de rigueur to me.  We all understand the rules of the game when we follow proper etiquette.  Hey!  Guys!  How about just being honest?  If you don’t intend to start a conversation, DON’T DO ANYTHING.  If you’re married, talk to your wife!  Why frustrate two women?

In browsing what the site calls “Matches,” there was a 63-year old guy about 30 miles from me who said he’s a veterinarian.  I looked at all of his photos but didn’t recognize him.  Okay.  So, maybe I don’t know every veterinarian in Maryland (could be industry or government), but I know most of them.  And, yes, he didn’t want a woman older than 55 (wth is with these old guys?).  I wrote to him anyway, saying that my late husband had been an avian veterinarian and asking if he was in private practice.  As a divorced man, I guess he doesn’t want another long-suffering veterinarian’s wife, because I ain’t heard from him, either.  Silly me. I’m only one year younger than he is.  My email box says the message hasn’t been read, either, whatever that means.

On Sunday, I received a first email from a man inviting me to a “music circle” at his brother’s house on “Friday night” at which I “wouldn’t be expected to sing or anything” with a “group of men with guitars.” That sounds like the plot of a slasher flick.  No, thanks.

You may be amused to hear that the widower who doesn’t like the French emailed me that I am geographically undesirable.  For once, distance worked in my favor.  I didn’t need to bring out the wand and make him disappear, 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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Happy Easter to all my Peeps!

Peeps!

Peeps!

Spring may or may not be upon us, but Peeps have been in my kitchen for about a month.  I remember when Peeps came in one shape (chicken) and one color (yellow).  On their website, the Peeps folks offer a year-round explosion of squishy rabbits, ghosts, pumpkins, reindeer, snowmen, Strawberry crème hearts, and sour watermelon and blue raspberry flavors, in colors like turquoise and lavender.

I’m a traditionalist.  Mine are yellow, and they are chickens.  Of course, they’re chickens, they’re Peeps!  Did you ever hear a rabbit “peep?”   Mine are purchased far enough in advance (and on sale the day after Easter) to become dry and crispy on the edges.  Of course, you can speed up the drying process by slightly slitting open the package.  Unfortunately, then I can hear them peeping at me.

Last week, I posted this on Facebook:

“OH, NO!  The package of Peeps has been opened!  Why did I do that?”

30 of my crazy friends wrote to agree with me.  Well, not all 30 are crazy.  I was surprised to find that even my most staid friends agree that the best Peeps are aged Peeps.  But, as my cousin said,

“Some are always willing to be eaten before their time.”

I’m a woman who has eaten in many Michelin-starred restaurants (for lunch, when it’s cheaper and seems incredibly more chic to be indulging in a leisurely lunch and a bottle of wine at mid-day), but a finely aged, sugar-coated, airy confection rivals the finest meringues, and I do love meringues.

I once had dinner with about eight veterinarians at the now-shuttered Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia.  My friend, a Philadelphia native and holder of multiple graduate degrees, had been intimidated to eat there, but, she thought, if she could get the globe-trotting Veterinarian and me to go with her and her delightful husband, she could cross it off her bucket list.  As we were in town for a conference, she started adding people to the reservation, telling them (as you sometimes must do with veterinarians),

“You have to wear a jacket and tie, cowboy boots are ok.  It’s going to be expensive, but you can afford it, and I don’t want to hear any complaining, because this means a lot to me.”

(I love her.  She’s as direct as I am.)

We had a riotous time from the get-go.  In that elegant bastion of Frenchness in the wilds of urban America, where the menu was entirely in French, the maître d’ was gracious and accommodating and, by the end of the evening, was telling us jokes.  At the end of a dinner made excellent by the company of friends and great service, the dessert trolley rolled up to the table, boasting every manner of sweet imaginable, and about six different meringue-based confections.  I asked the waiter,

“Which meringue do you recommend that I have?”

“I recommend that Madame has one of each.”

And I did.  It rivals the time I was served 10 different chocolate desserts at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago and the pistachio nougat on a pool of dark chocolate that the waiter in Dijon referred to as “dessert before dessert.”  (We had pre-ordered the Grand Marnier soufflé, which followed the nougat and preceded the petits fours which preceded the chocolate truffles.)

So, yes, I know my food.  And I know my Peeps.  They should be served aged, slightly crispy, and eaten rapidly.  A friend of mine says they’re great toasted over an open fire, but I don’t think I could bear to see my little friends go up in flames.

DATE UPDATE:

Let’s play match.com’s daily dating game “Which Do You Like?”Match game

The guy with a woman draped around his neck or the guy propped up on bed pillows.  Skip.

The guy in funky, Elton John eye wear with Rip Taylor hair or the unshaven guy taking a selfie of himself in a mirror but staring at the ceiling.  Skip.

The cute guy with a profile that could have been written by a four-year old or the serial killer squinting at the camera.  Hmmm.  This is a tough one.  The cute guy would be nice to look at for a couple hours, but I fear that his 12-year old self would monopolize the conversation.  Or, worse, that it’s a scammer.  Oh, well, let’s go with Cute Guy.  He won’t respond, anyway.

There are no winners in this game.  Of the many times that I have looked at a photo, made my choice, and written to someone, only two have responded.  One guy said, “We are not a match,” and the other said, “I am cruising on my sailboat and out of the country for the next two months.”  As the “experts” recommend, I am always polite and brief and ask a knowledgeable question about one of their interests that requires more than a “yes” or “no” answer.

For example, if you say you are a wine aficionado, I might ask, “Which wine do you like with turkey?“ because there are a lot of acceptable variables.  Could be a white.  Could be a red.  He could be a traditionalist or could be thinking out of the box (not of wine, I hope).  And wouldn’t I be an interesting date with whom to talk about wine?  Or food?

Or, if your profile photo is taken in front of the Eiffel Tower, “What is your favorite museum in Paris?” because I’m not wasting time with someone who would go all the way to France and not step into one of its many fine museums.  And wouldn’t I be an interesting date with whom to talk about art?  Or Paris?

Or, if you claim to be a pilot, I will ask, “Which airport has the best $100 hamburger?” because every general aviation pilot knows the joke about spending $100 in gas to fly to an airport to have a hamburger.   And wouldn’t I be an interesting date with whom to talk about aviation?  Or hamburgers?

Hmmm…maybe I should try dumber questions.  I bet these are guaranteed to get me a date.

To the guy who’s a homebody and likes to snuggle in front of a fire, “Would you like to take a nap on my comfy sofa while I clean the kitchen after I fix you a four-course dinner?”

To the guy in his alma mater’s sweatshirt holding a football, “Would you tell me all about that winning touchdown you made in high school?”

To the shirtless guy in swim trunks on a beach, “Want to compare tan lines?”

Finally, I have a word of advice for a particular gentleman who wasted my time for nearly three weeks:

If you initiate contact with me by commenting on my profile photos like a man besotted, writing “I would love to meet you” and “You are beautiful; let’s share a bottle of wine” and “You and your dog are beautiful; I could kiss you both” and you IM and email me multiple times with extensive information about yourself and your children and how compatible we are, and if I should respond favorably to all of this, and if you set up a future date with me, and if you subsequently never write to me again to confirm the date that YOU offered and don’t respond to my very brief inquiry (“Which wine should I have with my pizza, or should I look elsewhere?”) and if I google you and find out that you were lying about your age and, I suspect, your marital status, just know that the soft, warm breath of my dear friend, Karma, is breathing down your neck.

And with Karma for a friend, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!


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How Many Donuts Can One Little Woman Eat?

If you have to eat breakfast, eat donuts!

If you have to eat breakfast, eat donuts!

I don’t know what possessed me, but I bought a half dozen Dunkin’ Donuts last Friday.  You see, I was about to go on vacation and had run out of my usual Eggo’s homestyle waffles, which I eat every morning with a cup of extra-strong PG Tips tea.

I hate breakfast.  I don’t get it.  You really can’t drink wine with it, so, what’s the point?  I don’t like eggs.  I don’t like food doused in cold milk, so cereal is out.  I don’t eat yogurt or fruit, not even orange juice with sparkling wine.  Blech.

I do love bacon, but, unfortunately, I have hypertension. My Mother has it, too, all 4’10” and 90 pounds of her. (5’1” and 118 pounds of me, for full disclosure). It’s a genetic, old age thing, my internist tells me.  I was diagnosed with it right after The Veterinarian died suddenly and my Legal Problems started.  (Yes, I anthropomorphize my Legal Problems as an evil Disney character with me as the forlorn Disney princess.  And we know how Disney fairy tales turn out, don’t we?  I mean, why does the witch even bother?  Am I right?)

I even took a nuclear stress test, which showed that blood was rushing unimpeded throughout my body.  I did the treadmill test for the full 10 minutes without keeling over (although my bp was something like 200 at the end and dropped to 140 within five minutes).  I think they figured if that didn’t kill me, nothing would, so they’re covering their butts with the beta blocker.  Anyway, it’s supposed to slow my heart rate from that of a hummingbird to a tortoise.  It’s probably more like that of the BFF chasing deer into the woods than that of a normal human being.  The beta blocker has to be taken in the morning with food.  Blech.

For the first two years, I made myself eat a piece of white or whole wheat toast with peanut butter every single morning.  Then, I discovered that I could eat a plain waffle (no chocolate chips, no blueberries, no syrup) every morning.  It’s sort of like feeding The BFF, who will eat anything you give her at 6:30 am, or any other time, for that matter.  I eat two waffles.  They meet my requirements for food that must be eaten:  hot and tasteless.  Not slimy or slippery.  Not musty, tangy, or stinky.

Donuts are great, but I’m really liking my new abs and want to keep them.  If I could eat anything, I would eat a pain au chocolat or an almond croissant or even a plain croissant, as long as it was made with real butter, with a caffe latte (café au lait, in desperation), every single day.  Of course, after two days, the coffee would be killing my stomach, which is why I also take an omeprazole and why I drink strong black tea with milk and sweetener in the morning.

The reason that I bought six donuts, was that I had run out of frozen waffles and decided to treat myself to donuts on the three days before I left on vacation.  Why buy waffles that are just going to sit in the freezer while I’m gone?  Yes, I realize that three days means that three donuts would have been sufficient, but it seems sort of chintzy to just buy three donuts, when you could be saying, “I’ll take half a dozen, please.”  So, I got two chocolate frosted for Saturday, two chocolate glazed for Sunday, and two plain for Monday, my travel day.  The plain wouldn’t upset my stomach, you see, and I wouldn’t risk getting chocolate on my new pants.

My flight was leaving at 8:50 am, a relatively moderate departure time, given that the last time I flew, my departure was 5:53 am, which means we were told to be at the airport two hours early, but the freaking airport didn’t open until 4:30, so what was up with that?  A sick joke, if you ask me.  You show up at 3:53, and the agent tells about 100 sleep-deprived people, “Oh, well, you’ll just have to stand here with your eyes glazed over, because we don’t really open the counter or the self-serve kiosks until 4:30.”  Really?  The computerized self-service kiosk is on a break?  Really?  Is that a union rule?

I checked in at home and just needed to check my bag.  There were three agents standing around doing absolutely nothing at the US Airways counter, except telling people that they weren’t open.  So, what were the agents being paid to do?  I want a job like that.  No, really, I don’t.  Who wants to be at an airport at 3:53 in the morning repeatedly explaining things to irritated passengers?

This, my friends, is why no one dresses up to fly any more and why passengers get crazy when they finally board the aircraft.  Of course, they aren’t listening to the safety announcement.  They are so exhausted when they finally get wedged into their seats that they pass out.  The airlines should treat them to donuts and coffee, if they want civility in the formerly friendly skies.

And when said passenger is waiting to take her beta blocker until she can obtain food from one of the unopened concessions, mayhem very well may ensue.  Nope, not even Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts is open for the weary traveler at that hour.

That’s the last time I had a donut — two months ago.  Maybe I should eat donuts more often, so I wouldn’t be tempted to binge on them.  Of course, that would jeopardize my other health issue, high cholesterol, which I also share with My Little Mother.  The way I see it, I don’t really have high cholesterol.  I understand my medical condition like this:  the total cholesterol number is around 200, which is not so good, UNLESS you are me.  My bad cholesterol is within normal limits (wnl, as we say in the medical biz).  My good cholesterol is way above normal limits (I don’t know how we say that).  My triglycerides are whatever they’re supposed to be.  Put them all together, you get what looks to be a disaster, so, yet again, the docs are covering their butts, and I take a statin.

The irony?  I lost 20 pounds last summer, yet my blood pressure didn’t drop a single point, and my cholesterol is unchanged.  I would feel cheated, but my goal was to see my waist again before I die, so I’m pretty happy with the whole situation.  Bring on the donuts! If I die of either hypertension or blocked arteries, I will be a good-looking corpse with a smile on her face and chocolate smudges on her clothes.  So, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!

DATE UPDATE:

I just saw an eHarmony commercial, where Beth, a pretty young blonde woman, tells the founder of eHarmony that she “just doesn’t have the time to answer all those eHarmony questions.”  Dr. Founder asks her, “Beth, do you want fast or forever?  Only eHarmony.com takes the time to find you that perfect someone.”  First of all, why is Beth sitting across the desk from a psychologist?  Is she mental, as Ed Grimley would say?  Is Dr. Founder a family friend?  Poor Beth.  The commercial makes her look like a shallow nitwit who doesn’t have the stamina or brains to answer 20 minutes of questions about the complexities of life.  Yet he is encouraging her to join, so she must be the ideal eHarmony woman.  And, of course, we know that I am not.  [See Why I am a Proud eHarmony Reject]

Better yet, she should try to join beautifulpeople.com where the members vote on who is beautiful enough to join them as desperate losers on a dating site where the average age appears to be 32.  I saw a beautiful blonde model on one of the magazine shows talking about how they rejected her, so I checked it out.  Lots of average-looking young people pretending to be hipsters, like a reality show.  On the reality shows, they also appear to have Big Bucks (you can tell, because the women clutch small ugly dogs and always have red-soled shoes — maybe Louboutins, maybe not — red paint is cheap), but, within two seasons, they are filing for bankruptcy or going to jail or getting divorced and losing their Bentleys (probably leased).  No more eyebrow threading, back to tweezing.   No more Birkin bags, back to Coach.  No more knockdown drag out fights in restaurants, back to — I don’t know.  Where do has-been reality stars go?  What a shame to give up such a glamorous, classy existence.

And their husbands always look like some of these guys on the dating sites.  Five o’clock shadows, pudgy waistlines, loud sport coats.  (I take back that last comment.  A loud sport coat would be an improvement worn over a wifebeater.)  If a guy like that can spend enough on a woman to make her look like a million dollars, then an online dater should be happy with just about anything with a pulse.  Ahhh… now I get it.  When a guy says he wants someone 18-105, he knows he could play Henry Higgins and get himself a fixer-upper.  I thought they were just looking for something to cover with a burka.

Hmmm…  I wish the following guy had been required to take a test before he emailed me.  Of course, he probably would have passed, and there ain’t enough Hermès in the world to get me to date him.

I became suspicious immediately because his description didn’t match his photo (He said he had blue eyes, but the photo clearly showed brown.  “Teacher?”  I thought not.  I decided to ask him about it.  This is our written conversation in its entirety.

May have a nose longer than a telephone wire.

May have a nose longer than a telephone wire.


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How I became a carb junkie

French Bliss

French Bliss

My name is Suzanne, and I’m a carb junkie.

Following a serious two month schedule of abdominal crunches that I found on Facebook, I read that you will never see your newly-toned abs, if you don’t get rid of the flab that covers them.  Well, duh!  Smack me upside the head!  Then, I saw the comedienne Rosanne Barr on The Talk explaining a device that tracks activity and realized that I needed to get off the couch, away from the internet and silly talk shows, and get moving.

Giving the internet a chance to redeem itself, I searched Google and Amazon for a similar tracking device, and, having no sit-com residuals to fuel my spending, I chose a cheap little device called a “Fitbit.”  Fitbit clips to a pocket or to my bra and not only tracks my steps and activity but also my eating habits.  Uh-oh.  I discovered that I consume too many carbohydrates.  A lifetime of comfort has caught up with me.

When I was a kid, I was a picky eater, so carbs were a safe choice, not too spicy, but filling, with rich, complex flavors primarily derived from sugar, fat, and salt.  When my high school friends snacked on apples from the apple machine, I enjoyed ice cream sandwiches and Tootsie Rolls from the school store.  By the grace of God and youth, I weighed about 95 pounds.  Ahhh…those were the days…

I craved potatoes fried in cast iron skillets or mashed with butter and whole milk or boiled and topped with melted butter; crispy hashed browns from the Nugget diner on Southfield Road; and, of course, any restaurant’s French fries. My Mother cooked real vegetables, made fresh salads, offered a variety of fresh fruit in season, but I wouldn’t touch them.  I was a meat-and-potatoes girl.

In my multi-cultural neighborhood in suburban Detroit, I could make a meal of  Italian bread with sesame seeds from Marino’s bakery on Allen Road, chrusciki (aka Angel Wings, powdered sugar-dusted, deep-fried Polish wisps of pastry) from Briggs’ Bakery on Park Avenue, or the Delray Baking Company’s Hungarian half-rye bread, which I ate toasted for breakfast.  My southern grandma made the best cornbread in her mother’s cast iron pans, which she also used for her thin, crispy-edged pancakes.  Her dumplings, rolled into thin, light strips and simmered in golden chicken broth or long-simmered pinto beans, remain unequaled.

In those days, carbs were delivered to your door.  Not only did milk, egg, and produce deliveries appear, but Awry’s bakery came twice a week, offering bread, rolls, cakes, and cookies.  Charles Chips and Q-Man (in the blue can) came weekly with chips, pretzels, and popcorn.

Thanks to The Joy of Cooking and Julia Child, I met pâté choux, formed into cheesy gougères and profiteroles, which, I was surprised to discover, I had eaten since childhood as Sanders’ “Hot Fudge Cream Puff.”   When I finally got to Europe, I stuffed myself with pains au chocolat, baguettes jambon beurre, crispy tapas, risotto reminiscent of my Italian granny’s, baklava, scones slathered with Devonshire cream, Yorkshire pudding with roast beef, and Scottish shortbread.  No truffles, foie gras, sweetbreads, or stinky cheese for me!

Closer to home I discovered jambalaya and pralines in New Orleans and tortillas, fry bread, and beans and rice in the Southwest and in Central and South America.  Elsewhere in my travels, when I felt stumped by a culture’s cuisine, there was always some version of rice, couscous, or naan or something breaded and fried.

A little turkey, a few Brussels sprouts, and a whole lotta carbs

A little turkey, a few Brussels sprouts, and a whole lotta carbs, including cornbread

Unfortunately, I passed my habits on to the Daughter, who reminded me that on “snow days,” I baked homemade bread and “Snow Cakes,” devil’s food cake baked in a sheet pan and topped with my buttercream frosting.  Oh, yes, and every Wednesday, on our way to her cello lesson, we stopped at Dairy Queen.  And, oh, yes, every Friday night, the Veterinarian picked her up from swim practice with a pizza.  Every holiday was carb-overload.  Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

So, here I am, six decades later, struggling to wipe carbs from my memory and my abs, following Julia Child’s advice, “Everything in moderation…including moderation.”  The other day, I persuaded the Daughter to give me a couple of her McDonald’s fries—ok, ok, I ate six—maybe eight, but not an entire order.   I accompanied My Mother to our local “authentic” Mexican restaurant and ordered the tacos de carne asada, grilled steak wrapped in corn tortillas.  I ate the steak and nibbled on the tortillas, but, how many carbs were in that 14-ounce Margarita?

Keep the kale and sprouts, juice cleanses, tofu, yogurt, and sashimi.  Give me the food of my life, the occasional pancake or cornbread from those same cast iron skillets, a slice of pizza or maybe pasta on a Sunday.  [You know that there aren’t any calories on Sundays and holidays, don’t you?]

Daily, I’ll keep myself carb-happy with one slice of whole wheat toast in the morning or a dry, toasted frozen waffle.  I’ll carefully measure croutons for my salads and count out a safe number of mini sesame bread sticks to munch with my six ounces of dry white wine or a handful of nuts instead of potato chips with my daily 64 ounces of water.  Sigh.  Homemade hot cocoa instead of chocolate soufflé.  Yummy.

While I’m not earning many “badges” for my vigorous exercise regimen, my Fitbit sends me cheerful memos when I’m “In the Zone” at the end of the day (meaning my “Calories Out” exceed my “Calories In”), and I’m slowly and happily, dropping the lbs.  It’s going to be a long trek to see my abs, but I’m on my way.  So, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!

My Hot Cocoa

1 Tablespoon best quality cocoa (I use Pernigotti)

2 Tablespoons sugar or sweetener equivalent

Pinch of salt

2 Tablespoons + 6 ounces skim milk

Mix dry ingredients in large mug.  Slowly mix in two tablespoons of milk until smooth (a miniature whisk is great for this).  Microwave on high for one minute.  Stir out any lumps.  Slowly mix in remaining 6 ounces of milk, stirring until smooth.  Heat until warm, stirring occasionally.  If you don’t use a microwave, heat the milk first and add to the cocoa mix, but I’m just waaayyyy too lazy for that.