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September 15, 2014, 3:36 pmCooking With LL--Apple Hill Cake!!
About 40 miles away from me there's this wonderful little town called Apple Hill.
And it's known for everything --you guessed it--apple! There are about 40 farms you can go between. Some have orchards where you can pick your own. Some are bigger than others and sell baked goods and candy. Some you can even go to and cut down your own Christmas tree.
Open Labor day through Christmas Eve I usually take a run up there at least once to get my pies for the holidays. Pumpkin/apple (yum!), cherry/apple, apple crisp,apple donuts,apple struedel,apple cidar, apple and pumpkin butter, apple cinnamon rolls...you name it,they got it.
One of my favorites is the Apple Cake. They sell booklets with recipes and this one I'm going to share with you. Makes the house smell delish!
And pretty simple to put together.
The recipe calls for:
4 cups diced apples (It doesn't say to peel them but I do) You should probably start by placing these at the bottom of your mixing bowl and dump everything on top. This recipe is not exactly very clear with some of the instructions.
Now Combine Together:
2 cups sugar (this time I used 1 1/2 cup reg. sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar. I advise to just use reg. sug)
1/2 cup oil (used Canola)
2 eggs (used just the whites but it's up to you :)
Now it says to:
Add,sifted together. (To sift or not to sift! I never do. Maybe I should start?)
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. baking soda
Add to apple mixture. Pour into a 9x13 greased cake pan and bake at 350 for 1 hour.
Serve hot,warm or cold. Plain,frosted or with whip cream.
This is what it looked like before going in the oven. I think I screwed up because I dumped the sugars and oil together and while I was taking pictures the sugar really soaked up the oil making it kind of lumpy and not so smooth. It's very important to make sure you combine the oil/sugar and eggs and stir them immediately together.
And don't use brown sugar like I showed in the photo. It just doesn't mix well in the cake.
I must sound like a horrible baker,lol. But just sharing my mistakes.
Note: If you can find it, Saigon cinnamon is cinnamon at it's best! Much more cinnamon-y than regular cinnamon. So flavorful!
My end product was not what I wanted. I've made this several times before with perfect results. It was because of that sugar/oil thingy mentioned above that really ruined it.
My biggest suggestion is if you are going to be showing folks how to do a step by step recipe...hire a photographer!! LoL.
August 3, 2014, 8:37 pmAll This Time I Never Knew I Was Riding In Starsky's Car!
Lately I find myself addicted to "Starsky and Hutch". I bought the first 2 seasons quite a few years ago but just recently purchased the rest of the series.
I was probably about 10 when the show first came on and never watched it. Watching the opening credits brought me back to my high school days and my first boyfriend. (He was no Starsky,tho!)
But yes,he had a Gran Torino. And it was red! LOL.
Unfortunately it didn't have the white stripe. But when I see the interior shots they show of the dashboard on the show it brings me right back to 1984. It all looks very familiar.
I spent a lot of time in that car,lol. It seems to me that most of the time it was in need of some repair. It ran rough.
Paul Michael Glaser hated that car,I've read. He used to be really rough on it during the shooting of the show...stopping fast and bumping into things. He said it was so hard to maneuver. I just watched an episode where he was braking and banged right into a forklift looking tractor.
How cool was that show,wow. Oh yes,of course...it was silly at times. You could always make out the stuntmen doing the fight scenes. Some shots of the car driving by on their way to a crime scene were shown again and again and again. The budget must have been on the cheap with a clothes and makeup allowance an afterthought.
The music was so funky I find myself listening to the opening credits for every episode! Lovin it :)
The creator of the show,William Blinn, said he had originally written the script with a green Camero in mind because he had one years before. But when the show was finally going to be shot,Ford was providing the transportation so that went out the window.
Who knew the Gran Torino would become a star in its own right? Even today it looks flashy on the screen. With 2 hot guys in the front seat,how could they miss?
I guess what people really loved about the show was the friendship between the 2 cops. Paul and David have more chemistry then most male and female actors you see nowadays!
Take me back to those "feather hair days" with Ditto jeans and Lip Smacker's lip gloss. And long haired boys with flared cords and a brush in their back pocket.
Oh how I miss them.
But as for the Gran Torino? Hmmmm. Now maybe if it had a white stripe on it and the real Starsky at the wheel, I wouldn't think twice about jumping in,lol.....
Last Edited: August 3, 2014, 8:49 pm
July 23, 2014, 10:44 pmThe Plot Thickens...
Now I find out that "Mimsy" is a HE not a she. Also turns out the other neighbor who brought him to the vet is one I've known for years. He DOES know who the owner is. And here I spent all day Saturday networking trying to find out who this person was and I can see his house from my front window!
The neighbor went over and talked to this owner. He said he looked visibly shocked that the cat is in as bad as shape as he is. WHAT???? Is he blind? My neighbor said that the owner told him he will call the vet and see what his options are and that he will take care of it.
Well...guess who showed up on my front doorstep yesterday evening? Good old Mimsy. I gave him some milk and he just lapped it up. I petted his bony neck and cried. This cat just breaks my heart,I want to "cat-nap" him so bad. But there's nothing I can do.
Didn't see Mimsy today. Hopefully the owner did the right thing. I will be calling the vet to see if he really DID call and if I can find out anything. Yes, I am nosy. Yes,I am the animal police of the neighborhood,lol.
Dear sweet Mimsy. I knew you were in bad shape but not as bad as all that. Enlarged spleen,a mass on his stomach and shrinking kidneys. Plus the vet thinks he has a hyperthyroid condition because he just devours food but never gains weight. Whatever they could do for him would be just to "maintain" his condition the vet said.
He was also a "pound" cat who probably has had a really rough life. I wonder what the message is in all this. When I was outside talking to him he'd just look at me and meow. Once in a while he'd reach his paw out and touch my knee gently. Was he asking for help? Did he just need a pet? I petted him as much as I could. His matted fur made it hard and the bones underneath made me so sad.
But I love him. How could you not? The story hasn't ended yet until I find out what happened.
It finally (almost) happened. I really thought I had a new friend.
July 21, 2014, 4:35 pmCat Fight!
Here is an update on "Mimsy" the stray cat. I now call her "Misty".
A lot has happened since Friday when I first saw her. This morning I took her to the vet. Guess what they told me? Someone else had brought her in last week! To the same place.
So she'd already been examined. Turns out she is over 10 years old and her prognosis is "not good". That's all they could tell me.
To make a long story short I am not able to put this poor cat down. The other good samaritan who brought her in to the vet apparently lives down the street from me. The vet told me the man who brought her in might know who the owner is so I had to give the vet permission to give the neighbor my phone number. Spoke to him earlier and he's going to call me back.
Somehow we have to get permission from this so called "owner" to put Mimsy out of her mim-sery! And what if it turns out the person he THINKS is the owner ISN'T?
I've never been in a situation like this before. Guess it's sort of like trying to get custody of your kids,lol. Obviously this "owner" abandoned this cat but legally it's still his. My only other options are to take it to the pound or take her to another vet and say I just found this poor cat and it looks sick...can you please put her down?
Let's just say I won't take her to the pound. I want to be by her side when she crosses the rainbow bridge.
I suppose I can understand. I don't like it but I understand. Being on this side it's easier but if that were MY cat and someone had her put her to sleep without my knowing then of course you'd be mad.
But when you try and try to get ahold of someone and they don't answer? (And not just me...2 vets also!) Then I don't think I need your permission for anything,really. Especially if your animal is sick and in discomfort.
She doesn't seem like she's in pain but cats are tough. She has been curled up on my back door step since we returned from the vet 2 hours ago. God Bless little Mimsy. She is microchipped we found out but only registered to some cat rescue group. The person who adopted her never registered. WHAT DOES THAT TELL YA???
This whole thing is heartbreaking. I've never been in a cat fight but now I can honestly say I have! NOT FUN
July 19, 2014, 11:54 amIt Finally Happened!
As I came back from my walk yesterday morning I noticed a cat sitting on the porch of my neighbor's house across the street. They don't have a cat so I was kind of wondering where it came from. It looked over at me and I said,"Hi kitty". It ambled across the street slowly purring a sad croaky meow. It had a tag hanging from a collar. A rather large tag.
The cat followed me into the backyard still croaking away. It sounded like it was 100 years old. The fur was long and when I touched it,it was clumpy and full of matted hair. It seemed friendly enough so I grabbed onto the tag and saw a phone number.
Immediately I called. Perhaps this was someone's beloved cat but just by looking at it you could tell it was missing for a long long time. I petted "it" again and could feel nothing but bones. Luckily I always keep a fresh can of cat and dog food for occasions like this. It doesn't happen often in my neighborhood. It's rare to see a stray animal. But somehow if there is one,they always find their way to me,lol.
No one answered. The message said something like the number wasn't available and it's been transferred to another service. I left a message but so far nothing.
I looked at the tag again. Up above the phone number there was a man's name and "Mimsy". Ah ha! So we have lady kitty here.
I spent all day yesterday on the phone and internet trying to find the owner. Finally around 6 PM after exhausting all possibilities,I thought I'd give it one last shot and started calling vets to see if this cat had ever been to one.
Jackpot! Finally found out the cat had been seen at a PetSmart vet. No,they couldn't tell me any information at all. Not even when the cat had been seen last. The lady was hesitant to even tell me it's age but she gave in and said about 4 years. Even though the voice sounded old,I could see the teeth were very white and looked pretty clean.
She told me she'd leave a message for the owner and even though I repeated the phone number on the tag she STILL couldn't tell me if it was the same number she was going to call. It's a wonder ANY missing animal is reunited with their owner with this type of security,lol.
About 15 minutes later she called back to my surprise. She said she could tell he was ignoring her message. I don't know how she could tell,lol,but anyway,it doesn't seem like this person wants their cat back.
I've never seen a cat's face light up the way she did when I opened a can of food. Her eyes were round as saucers and she practically screamed. For joy,I hope. She devoured it pretty quick then laid down on my little carpet by the back door.
She's too weak to jump over fences but later on she somehow managed to squeeze under the fence through a chewed hole my very first dog made about 30 years ago,lol. She went wandering off across the street and stretched out on another neighbor's porch,the one on the corner. Later on she came back and I gave her a little more food.
In the evening I clicked my teeth and she came from somewhere out of the dark and had another whole can of food.
I washed out BusterBrat's old igloo house and put a nice new blanket inside. This morning I sort of guided her in to see if she liked it but you know cats. She turned around and came back out. Buster did the same thing when first shown the house. A few weeks later you couldn't get him out of it if you tried!
Today I can hopefully get her to a vet. And the groomer is next. Struggling whether to keep her or not. My "worry" genes have calmed down after BusterBrat was sent to heaven and I forgot about them. But they kicked right up this morning... was worried if she made it through the night...was worried she was hungry. I'm worried right now if she has any pain.
I'm worried about what's going to happen now that it's finally happened! Yes,another stray on my doorstep. Almost 19 years since my BusterBrat the cat arrived. Hard to believe he's been gone almost 2 years now. Seems only yesterday.
Taking her to the pound would be suicide. The way she looks? Yikes. No one would take this straggly lumpy bumpy bag of bones. Perhaps I'm already starting to love her. No,not perhaps.
It finally happened. Again. She had me from the first "worry".
Last Edited: July 19, 2014, 3:31 pm
June 12, 2014, 1:34 pmSan Francisco Summers
My aunt always wonders where my father got his talent for art.
This seems to puzzle her to no end.
"No one else in the family could draw."
She says the same thing when a family member becomes afflicted with a medical problem.
"Gee,no one else in the family had allergies."
Some things just aren't inherited.
So who really knows when or where my father got his passion for art?
I always call San Francisco "my second home". I was being dragged to museums there before I could talk. There are photos of me sleeping in my mother's arms as she is walking and perusing art on the walls in many of those "tombs" I used to call them. Dad was always the photographer capturing everything. If he didn't have a paintbrush in his hand he had the Rolleiflex camera around his neck.
My father went to college in San Francisco. To study art,natch.
One of his teachers was Wayne Thiebaud. You may not recognize his name but you may recognize some of his art. He had a very distinctive style as you can see below and is still living. Born in 1920,he's 93 now.
Dad mostly did still life and landscapes. But never with any people in them. My taste runs to portraits. I feel paintings or photos gotta have a heart in them somewhere. When I look at some of his paintings of apples and pears on a dish with a knife next to them...well,they make me feel...still,I guess. Perhaps that's why they're called that,lol. I don't feel a pulse,something living. Maybe I'm so used to seeing them that the "deeper meaning" is lost.
After my father died I went to pick up some of his work that he had showing in a small gallery downtown. The lady there told me that "your father painted like the old masters." This was suiting because I never felt there was anything "young" about him. He always seemed so old to me even though he wasn't. I even used to call him grandpa sometimes.
Every year after school was out we'd pack up the Rambler station wagon and go on our summer vacation for 2 weeks. The first stop was always San Francisco. There usually was some art retrospective showing that my father had to see. Edward Hopper was his favorite artist and I see his influence in my father's paintings.
My sister and I would groan all the way there because we wanted to get to Marriott's Great America! Who wanted to see some old paintings in a dark dismal museum? Oh,how we dreaded it!
It's too bad my sis and I didn't appreciate art because we saw a lot of famous work back in the day. Who? I haven't the slightest clue. Have to confer with my mom on that one but seeing as she was about as interested as we were,she might have forgotten too.
My father always liked to drive us by the place he lived in during his college days. We'd pull up in front of one of those tall skinny San Francisco houses that look like they are glued and leaning together side by side. He and a roomate lived on the third floor.
"There was a car mechanic who lived under us. When we'd go to use the shower there was always a ring of grease around the tub." he told us.
Then we'd have to go visit his cousin Russell who owned a shoe shop on Balboa street. The shop was old and looked like it was filled with shoes from the 1930's. Russell would be talk talk talking,typical Italian,lol. "I think he does more talking then selling shoes." my mother always used to say out of the side of her mouth. He also repaired them.
Quite a few years ago I took my cousin to San Francisco and we stopped by to say hi to Russell. The shoe shop is no longer in business and he is retired. He looks like he hasn't aged a day since those long ago summers. And he was still talking!
"Let-a-me change-a my shirt and we go into the city." he greeted us. He went into his bedroom and we could still hear him talking to us through the door. Twenty minutes later he finally emerged. We figured if it took him this long just to "change-a his shirt" this would turn into an all day affair and we didn't have the time since we had other plans like walking across the Golden Gate bridge.
He had a painting or two of my father's hanging on the wall. Just about every relative has one. We are my father's personal art gallery.
We finally decided Russell would take us over to some farmer's market instead. He volunteered to take us since he knew the way. My cousin sat in front. I got in the back of his gray 1980's looking sedan.
More talking ensued as we made our way down the streets. Suddenly we were on a busy boulevard surrounded by cars on either side of us. We were stopped in the middle lane.
Russell turns around in the driver's seat and starts leaning towards me with his arm up like he's waving to someone out my window.
"You see-a...we need-a to get in the right hand-a lane and the blink-a light is out-a. Have to get it fix-a. But if I wave-a sometimes the people-a they let me in." he said very seriously.
Then his face broke into a "bigg-a" smile as he started waving to the cars and soon one let him in,lol.
When we got back to his place later on we started saying our goodbyes. Oh,but we "couldn't-a leave-a yet-a"! He had boxes stacked up in his kitchen full of stuff. As he dug around he pulled out a bottle of wine and cookies. We didn't get out the door until he'd given us pretty much everything he owned,lol.
Going off the track a little there but you know how one memory can lead to another,lol.
Looking back,it was always exciting nearing San Francisco even though we knew we'd be stuck in a museum for half the day. First you felt the air turn cool. The sky was always enveloped in fog. Then you waited to see the "junk art" alongside the freeway next to the water. It no longer exists but it was fun looking at the different sculptures. I actually found an article about them today....so glad someone remembers!!
It even mentions the Nut Tree which was a favorite place of ours. Actually THAT was the first stop before San Fran. It was like a huge candy store and had a restuarant. It was the first time I ever tasted avocado in my sandwich. There was also a little train you could ride around the whole complex. We always loved that train ride! They had big wooden rocking horses and wooden cut outs that you stuck your head through so your parents could take a picture of you looking like a monkey or some other silly animal. And just before we left we always got to pick out some candy. Once I got this huge lollipop that lasted for the rest of the summer,lol.
You could always feel the underlying current of excitement like you were going some place important as you crossed over the Bay Bridge. The tires going ka-klunk! ka-klunk! as you rode over it for miles and miles it seemed. That sound used to scare me sometimes because I thought the tires were going to pop. Stopping at the toll booth to pay... I always wanted to pay the man but my dad didn't let me. But we knew there were lots of fun things ahead besides the museum like going to the aquarium and the beach to play in the sand while the wind whipped your hair.
I just remember that cool air and having to wear a sweater in the summer! And then after San Fran we were on our way to Monterey and Carmel. Staying at the motels (I don't think my father knew what the word hotel was...besides he was a little on the cheap side,lol) I remember losing my tooth once during a trip and worried that the tooth fairy wouldn't be able to find me. All was well the next morning when I found the quarter under my pillow. She didn't forget me after all :)
My father never drew anything on our summer trips. He turned into the photographer instead. I've got albums full of photos of old houses in neighborhoods I don't recognize. Some of them have shown up in his charcoal drawings. He loved old houses. And trees. And fruit on platters. And wine bottles alongside of fruit platters.
And doodling. I didn't realized how much he doodled until I started cleaning out the studio a few years after he died. Or how much work he had accomplished until I started digging through the stacks of paintings in the cubby holes. And one painting in particular I forgot about.
A portrait of me.
One day he asked me to pose for him. I remember sitting in a chair one afternoon while he worked away behind his easel wearing my favorite black shirt that had sparkly colored thread running through it.
Don't ever remember looking at it after he was done. I wouldn't have even recognized myself if I hadn't seen the black shirt the girl in the painting wore. It didn't really look like me but I knew it was. Maybe his interpretation. Portraits weren't his strong suit. I looked...still. Maybe that's how he saw things or wanted things to be. Inanimate. Quiet. Like he was.
Through the years I haven't been back to my "second home" as much as I'd like to. Last time was to a World Series playoff game back when Barry Bonds played on the Giants. Gee,has it been that long? What the heck year was that?
The best part of that game? When the planes went soaring overhead after the national anthem was sang by LeAnne Rimes,I think. Wow. That was so exciting! Can't remember if that was the Blue Angels or not. But that's the moment that stuck out to me.
Too bad it's so expensive to live there. I'd love waking up to that cool foggy air everyday. Might sound funny coming from a California chick but I'm not a big fan of the sun.
I might have "left my heart in San Francisco" but I can thank my father and the trusty Rolleiflex that provided me with tons of photos of those wonderful times.
Think I'll go crank the air-conditioner up and put on a sweater.
Now if only I could find some sand......
Last Edited: June 12, 2014, 1:56 pm
June 11, 2014, 2:58 pmThe Other Grandma and Grandpa
Sometimes I forget I had another grandma and grandpa. Dad's folks. The Italian grandparents. They were the "other side" of the family.
And what's ironic is that we lived 4 blocks away yet we weren't very close at all.
My Italian grandpa wanted all his children to live close by so my father and his brother both built houses within 8 or so blocks of each other. Only their sister stayed back east with her own family. But she eventually made her way here too.
The language barrier was always a problem. Grandma spoke no English at all even though she lived in this country for decades. I heard she tried to learn once and my grandpa laughed at her and she never spoke it again. And grandpa supposedly spoke 8 different languages though I only heard him speak Italian. And just barely. In a rough whispery gravel. And he never said much.
They were an odd couple,that's for sure. It was an arranged marriage. She was 25,he was 40 and had a good job. That was the only thing that mattered in those days,I guess,lol. My aunt always told me that when grandma first saw him she cried because he wasn't very attractive and had gray hair. Not a great reaction to your future husband,lol. It must have been all downhill from there.
We used to ask my father questions when we were kids about HIS childhood.
"Dad,what did you get for Christmas?"
"Oh, a little truck or something."
"Did you have a Christmas tree?"
"No. We had a red paper bell that hung from the ceiling. Grandma used to tell us Santa Clause was in there."
"Well,where did you put the gifts?"
"Oh,on a chair".
"Were they wrapped?"
We used to giggle when we were kids when he told us this. It was mean but when you're just a child you don't really understand. How depressing,I think now.
That's the word. Depressing. As soon as you stepped into their house you felt the weight.
There would be no warm greetings...no open hugging arms. Grandma would be sitting in her big cushioned chair. Always. She'd look up and kinda nod and say something like "Ehhhh...."
It was always kind of dark in there with heavy old looking furniture. The big 50's looking TV was always covered with a towel. The only time it turned on was Sunday nights for the Lawrence Welk show. They never watched anything else.
There was a lamp next to grandma with a sheet of newspaper clothes-pinned to the shade because the light hurt her eyes. Why bother turning it on then? This is the way I remember her. She was always sitting in that chair.
And grandpa had his on the other side of the room. Same kind of chair. He'd get up and shuffle around. And I mean shuffle. That's the way he walked,never picking his feet up off the ground. I don't think he ever said 2 words to my sister and I.
We would sit on the couch and listen to my father speak Italian to them. In high school, I took Italian for 3 years. When I tried practicing with my father he said,"Oh,you're speaking the high class Italian." So that was the end of practice,lol.
During these "duty call" visits,every so often my dad would ask us a question and translate it to my grandma or she would ask a question and back and forth the translating went. It was just boring old things about school or if we wanted something to drink. Nothing personal really.
After awhile we'd start fidgeting. At the end of the "visits" my father would tell us to go give grandma a kiss. I remember her cheek and how soft it was, her skin color always looked like she was sun-tanned. Her face was very wrinkly for her age. She always seemed like she was a hundred even though she was only in her 70's. And she never kissed back.
I suppose she had reason to be miserable. Leaving Italy and coming to a new country with an "old man" that you now had to live in marital harmony with. They lived in Niagara Falls before coming west to California. But a new state didn't seem to help their disposition any.
They never had a car.
Grandpa's the one that used to walk up to Lucky's to do the shopping. He'd shuffle his way all the way there with his suspenders holding up his pants. And when he came home grandma would yell at him for forgetting something or other.
Grandma hardly ever left the house. Once in a great while she'd come out to a restaurant with us but never grandpa. I remember her getting into the backseat of the Rambler with us. It was the only time I saw her wear shoes...tiny heeled pumps instead of the usual felt slippers that were her normal attire. She would practically hug the door and didn't say much. A far cry from when my "real" grandma rode all the way with us to Disneyland with my head in her lap.
Grandpa died when I was in 6th grade. Can't say that I missed him much. Now grandma was alone and my aunt was summoned to California from Niagara Falls to take care of her. She moved her whole family here and managed to find a house just a few blocks down from grandma's for rent.
My aunt used to come here just about every summer for 3 months with my cousin's to stay when grandpa was alive. My oldest cousin hated it. He remembers arriving in California and the heat. Then my uncle picking them up at the train station in the huge Pontiac with no air conditioning. My uncle always had the windows all rolled up and they'd have to hurry to roll them down before they passed out,lol.
Grandma must not have been much for kids. She'd shoo them out of the house with a broom. My cousin said they spent every day at the park,all day long. He and grandpa got into a tiff one time and my cousin sprayed him with the hose. That was a story that got told time and time again through the years,lol.
That and when he came into the house one day after being at the park. My aunt was helping my grandmother wash up in a sink out in the laundry room and when my cousin opened the door to come in they screamed! Grandma was naked from the waist up bent over the sink. She never wore a bra so let's just say,she was kind of "saggy".
"Her boobs were hanging to her knees," he described. "It scarred me for life!!" he used to joke.
So now that grandma was alone,she needed babysitters. There was nothing wrong with that woman. She was the healthiest person I've ever known. But my aunt cooked for her and washed her clothes and was over there practically every minute. Except when my uncle stepped in for his turn. And my father. His nights were Tuesday and Sunday from 7PM to 9PM. My mother used to squawk when he had to go on Sunday. That used to burn her up that he had to go on the weekend.
Grandma didn't like the smell of cooking in the house anymore. So many times I'd see my aunt out in the garage cooking on a hot plate! What??? It was always some greens boiling in a pot. They had a garden and practically everything she ate came out of it.
She enjoyed the royal treatment. My aunt neglected her own family to stay with Ma. I wonder how much she really appreciated it. That whole family waited on her hand and foot. They were respectful. Even though my father had a huge bump on his head that he eventually had to have cut out from when grandma hit him with a hairbrush as a kid ...they were still respectful of their parents.
I really can't understand sometimes,especially when grandma and grandpa never went to any of their children's weddings. They just never accepted outsiders. Must have done wonders for my mother and her parents at the wedding! You can guess my mother was never too fond of "that side of the family."
Grandma died at the ripe old age of 97. I remember being by the grave,the priest saying some final words and turning to leave. All of a sudden I heard my aunt's voice behind me. She suddenly started crying and going,"Ma! Ma!" and tapping the casket with her fingers.
It must have finally hit her. Ma was gone.
The house has stayed in the family. My uncle keeps it up. I go visit him over there quite often these days. It is still depressing.
The same old couch I used to sit and fidget on is still there. In fact I just sat on it last week and wondered what kind of creepy crawlies were making their way into my clothes,lol.
The lamp is still there though the newspaper is down. The same clock still sits on the mantle. It is if time stood still and I smell the must in the air. I see my squinty eyed grandma rocking in her chair and exactly the way her hands looked.
My father had those hands. So do his brother and sister. They are in their 80's now like my father would have been had he lived. They are both slowly morphing into Ma as the years pass. Ma's face lives on in theirs.
I have a big photo of Ma here at the house. It is a gorgeously taken black and white matte photo taken by my uncle many years go. But it is not hanging on my wall or sitting framed on a shelf. It is tucked away in the closet.
Occasionally I take it down to look at it. This Italian matriarch that I lived 4 blocks from all my life and never really knew.
She is smiling (or trying to smile) but you can honestly see the smile never reached her eyes.
I look down at my hands. I have my mother's hands. No traces of Ma.
But her blood runs through me somewhere. Just a little trickle left. And I will think of her next time I'm over at her house visiting my uncle and hear her saying the only English she ever spoke as she offered me a dish.
"Ice-a Scream-a?" she said and I could see the gap where she had a tooth missing.
Her cotton print housedresses.
Those blue felt slippers.
The apron. Always the apron.
And the jeweled combs in her hair.
Last Edited: June 12, 2014, 1:31 am
June 4, 2014, 2:30 amMoth Bawl
Moths. Those pesky little critters. Have you ever seen one up close? I did. Tonight. They're kinda cute.
Ah...the world of bugs. It's never ending. Once in awhile a spider crawls unsuspecting through the crack of my screen door. Everyone's first reaction is to kill it!! Mine is to save it!! Put it back where it belongs.
So I grab a plastic cup and gently sweep it up and take it back outside.
One night I saw this furry little thing crawling on the floor. Upon closer inspection I could see it was some kind of bug caught up in a web. I had to laugh when I finally saw that it was a spider! How's that for irony? I took the broom and tried to help him get untangled. That little guy was really entwined and it took a few minutes before I could disengage him from the ball of web. But finally he got free and started running so I caught him quickly and put him outside in the dirt.
Same thing happened with a moth I saw outside. He was by the garbage can and fluttering wildly but not going anywhere. Another web victim!! I took the broom and helped him out. And boy,did he take off strongly! I felt good after that save. I could tell he was going to be alright.
Tonight a little moth I tried to save wasn't so lucky. I found him fluttering around in a web around the frame of the back door. He was very small and fragile looking. After I came to his rescue with (what else?) the broom,he clutched onto the top of the handle and didn't want to get off. I put him on the porch and he was still twitching around but I thought perhaps he was all worn out and just needed a rest. Have no idea how long he'd been caught before I saw him.
Got a plastic cup and dug a little dirt to put in the bottom along with some leaves. Then with a piece of paper I lifted him inside. I didn't want to put him on the ground,that seemed cruel,or even in the dirt where other bugs or spiders could maybe prey on him. I left him in there for a couple of hours. I could see he was just still barely moving. Think I read somewhere that you're never supposed to touch a moth's wings because it hurts them or makes it so they can't fly or something. This poor little thing just looked pathetic. Something told me it was time so I put him out of his misery with a tear in my eye.
When I see bugs I think about what it's like to be one. It's a breathing little thing. Im sure it feels pain. Watching that little moth struggling tonight made me feel sure of that. I try to imagine being that small and how huge everything must look. Yes,most bugs are annoying but they're all here for a reason. They all help the environment in some small way.
You might think I live in a haunted house. I mean all this talk of spider webs and (witchy) brooms,lol. The hot weather brings them all out as I'm sure you know. Where do bugs go in the winter? That I'd like to know.
Probably the only bug I don't mind killing is a mosquito. I'm itching just thinking about them. Or probably a black widow if I ever saw one. Or a recluse spider. Those can be real nasty. I'm sure there are tons of other more venomous ones too but luckily we are mostly inundated with the usual normal bugs. (But no bed bugs!! LOL) Believe me,when I stay at a hotel I check online first to see if there have been any bed bug reports and bring my gloves and flashlight. Those are some bugs that keep on buggin I've heard and that's the last thing you need,right? Now it's MY turn to say EWWWWWW.
Well,it's cooling down tonight and I can sleep peacefully knowing that the little moth is in bug heaven and doesnt have to worry about being eaten ever again in his bug eat bug world. I wouldn't have been able to sleep a wink knowing he was out there all night in pain or just suffering however a bug suffers.
My broom is next to the door and the night's still young.
I'm ready to help the next insect if it arrives.
I don't mind at all. It never bugs me :)
May 31, 2014, 10:32 amI Miss Grandma
Wondered why I've been thinking of grandma lately. Then remembered she passed away around this time of year... in June.... many moons ago. 1995. I sleep with her worn out quilt on my bed most every night. Still have the stuffed bunny she bought me at the five-and-dime.
Can it really be that long ago? Time flies and all of that. Went to visit her grave a few months ago for the first time since the funeral. Grandpa's right next to her. I didn't feel their presence. I do at their house, though, which is still in the family and where I lived for 5 years before moving back to the house I grew up in.
One day in the kitchen there I REALLY felt a presence. Don't know who it was exactly but it was "something". Was washing dishes at the sink and took a step backwards. It felt like I had bumped into someone. When I turned to look behind me I saw the dishrag hanging on the oven handle sway back and forth like someone had brushed against it as they walked past. I was no where near that dishrag. I hadn't touched it once since starting the dishes. There were no windows open to create a breeze to move it. And there was no one else in the house at the time. Just me. And "it". (Grandma? Grandpa?)
My cousin claimed he smelled perfume in the dining room a couple of times. I never wear perfume. Smelled it once myself. I didn't recognize the scent but felt it must be grandma because she used to have quite a few bottles of perfume on her dresser.
Grandma was born in New Orleans. Found this out just recently when my mother came to visit last time.
"Gimme some suga" she'd always say when I was a kid and ran to kiss her. She never lost her accent and always called me "dahlin". Short little Swedish,Irish,German grandma with her curly perm and Cobbie Cuddlers. LoL. She always wore that style of shoe because she had a hammertoe. She had them in every color to match with her polyester pant suits.
Grandma and Grandpa lived out in the "country". Well,not really but she used to call her house "the ranch". It's about 7 miles from the city in the more "rural" part which can't be called that anymore since everything is built up around it now. But back in the 70's,riding in the Rambler station wagon to grandma's WAS like taking a ride to the country. It seemed so FAR,lol,even though it takes about 20 minutes if you catch all the lights. But what a difference a few miles makes. It was so open. There were fields. There were horses. And when you sat on the couch outside you would see nothing but wide open space and could watch the sun set.
Not anymore. Leave it to contractor's to destroy everything. Now there are homes built all in the back and fences surrounding the yard. I felt sad a lot when I lived there. Even with 1/2 acre it still felt so closed in.
My sister and I always spent 2 weeks there in the summer. What fun we had drawing and swimming in our little plastic pool and playing "Operation",that old game. My grandma used to play Chinese Checkers with me. And grandpa always laid down on the floor and had me walk across his back. He had back troubles and I guess that helped. I don't remember too much about him. He died when I was 9.
My grandma was raised by her grandma. I don't know why her mother sent her away but when she was 5 she got ahold of some matches and set herself on fire. Her hair and eyelashes got burnt off. Her lashes never really grew back very long,they were always short from what I remember. And her forearms always had these shiny white scars.
When she was 19 she saw my grandpa at a dance and told the friend she was with that he was the one she was going to marry. And she did,lol. I always remember her saying that grandpa told her that the scars didn't bother him. That must have been what clenched the deal!
Grandpa was a cook in the navy. He was at Pearl Harbor the day it happened but managed to stay alive. I have 2 scrapbooks of his that he kept during the war. When I look through them it's like he was a whole different person that I never knew. There are also letters from my grandmother to grandpa while he was away (and he was away a lot!) It's obvious that she loved and missed him dearly. Both my mother and her sister were born while he was out at sea. They moved all around the country for most of their childhood.
It's not Thanksgiving without grandpa's stuffing. We've made it every holiday as long as I can remember. I still have the recipe written in grandma's handwriting in my drawer. It's so delicious. Too bad he didn't write a cookbook!
Grandma didn't drive so when I got my license I turned into her personal chauffeur. Doctor's appointments,grocery store,you name it. So glad I got to spend time with her. She always made me dinner. Chicken and baked macaroni and cheese. And always an Eskimo Pie for dessert.
Grandma always stayed at our house for Christmas and Easter. Thanksgiving was always at hers. Oh,how we couldn't wait to go pick her up on Christmas Eve. After "suga" kisses and hugs,we knew the coffee cans full of her fresh baked cookies would be waiting for us. Chocolate chip,oatmeal raisin,snickerdoodle,molasses and persimmon. They were the same every year and we never tired of them. Ever since she's been gone,Christmas is kind of over for me. Grandma WAS Christmas,I realize that now. Her presence at the dinner table. Her cute little jammies when we tucked her in on the couch. Her smiles as we opened her presents on Christmas morning. Those were the days,my friend!
Sigh. My insomnia is getting the better of me,lol. Too much time to think. Is that a good thing?
So many memories. And they live on...in me. Where else could I have gotten my scrappiness from but grandma? And my love of animals but from grandpa? It's funny the traits you inherit. Sometimes it's not exactly from your parents. Sometimes you have to look a little further back.
Grandma's and Grandpa's are very special people.
If yours are still alive,go hug them today.
Make a memory.
Last Edited: May 31, 2014, 2:27 pm
May 29, 2014, 10:13 amSome Things Never Change
Was going through a drawer last night and came upon some of my old school papers. Wish I had kept more of them but over the years when the "cleaning bug" strikes I tend to throw out things.
One of the funniest things I read was an old "My Autobiography" essay that must have been required of us. The year stated 1976.
"I live at (my address)." I stopped and laughed. Because (my address) is the exact same today as I live in my childhood home.
"My favorite T.V. show is "The Six Million Dollar Man". This kind of surprised me. And as I looked up on my DVD shelf what did I see? The Six Million Dollar Man complete series!
I found several notes that my sister had written to my father.
"Dad,you can have this candy because I don't like it. By"
"Dad,I found your shoes in the familee room here thay ar"
"Dear Dad,How are you? Don't you wish we had a tape recorder? You cant keep this letter in your file because I want to keep it in a little box. So I can remeber it too. Maybe I can coppy it and give you one just like it. I will write mom tomaroo or maybe today. Don't let brenda see this letter or she will lagph about my spelling and I don't like it so by by! I might let you keep it in your file. byby!"
My father had a filing cabinet and would always file our drawings or little things like this,lol. I didn't remember laughing at my sister's spelling back then...what a mean little sister I must have been :)
Found quite a few "Santa" and "Easter Bunny" letters my parents kept.
Plese leav us some games and crafts and toys and plese fill our stockings full to the top. And Santa dont forget we have some guddys for you when you go out. And you can help yourself if you are hungngry but you dont have to eat. And we may have some cind of a drink for you. If you have room in the sley bring some cokies for Mrs. Santa."
Guess you can figure out who wrote that,lol.
A trip down memory lane is fun once in awhile.
As June approaches I am reminded of the 2 bulging binders full of notes and letters my sister and I used to write to each other during the long summers. I mean,here we were in the same house but we used to like to type on my mom's old Underwood typewriter. We'd each take turns and then read each other's letters and laugh. Or we'd go out in my father's art studio and spend hours making puppets and things out of construction paper. Then we'd bring it all inside and try to sell it to my mom and dad,lol.
My father had an old AM radio out there and many times we'd be out there with him working at our little table while he was in front of the easel. "Saturdays With Sinatra" would be playing. It was like a scene out of the 50's,lol,though it was the 70's. We've always been 20 years behind!
The studio has gone quiet now. My father is still there in spirit among his paintings. I rarely go in there anymore. The orange tree that was planted when I was born still stands beside it. I look out in the backyard and can almost see my father in there once again in the window with his gray smock on,the odor of paint and turpentine faintly in the air.
Some things never do change. Especially if you live in the same house.
And I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
April 30, 2014, 4:31 pmHappy Tears Today!!
A few entries down (#78) I wrote about Bubba the special needs dog. Went looking for him again today on the web and saw this updated story. Crying happy tears for this little guy! I fell in love with him back in July when coming across his story. So so happy to see he's with this wonderful family now. This little guy deserves it!!! God Bless the Kubes!! Bubba,I'm smiling and wiggling now too :)
Bubba's Happy Tail
Last Edited: April 30, 2014, 6:22 pm
April 16, 2014, 6:28 pmBurying Memories And A Squirrel
Sad day today. I have lived almost my entire life in the house I grew up in. Across the street there were 2 palm trees that I've watched grow up over the years.
Yesterday they were murdered.
Some guy rang my bell and asked me to move my car because they were going to cut a branch.
A BRANCH! About 20 minutes later the house felt like it lifted off the ground and the windows rattled. I looked out and one of the palms was completely laid flat in the street. My heart leapt in my throat.
About an hour later the other one came down. What took decades to grow all came crashing down in a matter of minutes. With a heavy heart I shut the blinds.
I can barely look out my front window anymore. It's so empty looking. I used to enjoy watching the squirrels run up and down and listening to their chattering in the fronds high high above.
And today I discovered the first tragedy of this invasion.
A poor squirrel lying in the gutter in front of my house. Smashed beyond recognition. The one that didn't get out in time before his whole world and house came tumbling down. (I know just how you feel,little fella) He must have still been up at the top when the last notch was sawed. So heartbreaking. He died for nothing.
Curses to the landlord across the street who took my view! Who stole a squirrel's innocent life and his home.
I guess when you live in one place so long you hate seeing "strangers" invade your neighborhood. I used to know every family on this block but slowly the older folks passed on and houses were sold and resold and now a lot of them are rentals. The man who owns the 2 family house across the street bought the place just a few years ago so I suppose he wouldn't know what those trees meant to this street. Some of the other neighbors have also been commenting about the huge gap left here in our humble little neighborhood.
It really made me feel like a true "Californian" looking out my window and seeing those big palms swaying in the breeze.
Now I feel like I live any ole where!
I'm the only "original" neighbor left here. Without "my" palm trees. Without Mr. Squirrel.
A lifetime of childhood,teenage and adult memories all ground up and swished through a tube and hauled away in the back of a dirty white truck.
I'll never take looking at a tree for granted again.
Last Edited: April 16, 2014, 6:34 pm
March 27, 2014, 12:03 pmA Shackled Elephant Rips My Heart Out
On yahoo yesterday there was a story about an elephant being abused and shackled in India,I believe. Paul McCartney was somehow involved with giving money to help it but it went askew. I cannot express my sorrow at such a thing. I cry my eyes out more times then I'd like to admit over things like this.
Last night was a real water works. Can't you tell? Yes,animals are my soft spot. Why does this poor elephant (or ANY animal) have to suffer so? Why would anyone abuse an animal? I've asked God this a lot. I've screamed it at Him. WHY? WHY? WHY?
So far there's been no answer. There MUST be an answer...a reason. Perhaps one we'll never fully comprehend until we're on the other side of the rainbow bridge. Is it just because there are rotten heartless humans in the world? I always think there's something more to it. You can't be much of a human anyway if you do something like that. I can't even imagine striking an animal. It has eyes,it has a brain,a heart! It has a voice. One that can cry. And,honestly,how could you stand hearing that as you're beating an animal??? You might as well shoot me right now because I would seriously die hearing that.
As we get older aren't we supposed to toughen up? Aren't things not supposed to bother us as much as when we were young? I find the opposite happening to me. And I'm glad. Because I would never want to get numb to the plights of the world (of which there are too many to count)
Any kind of abuse is wrong to anybody or anything. I believe there's a special place for the kinds of monsters who do these acts. And we all know where that is.
I opened my Bible last night hoping I would open to a page of comfort after reading about that beautiful elephant. No luck. No words jumped out at me to soothe me. As the tears streamed down my face, I did feel for a second that God heard me and just for a second I did have some kind of comfort. It didnt last long. How could it? And WHY should it? The animal is still suffering so why should I feel comfort? I want the ELEPHANT to feel comfort. Maybe God was giving some relief to the elephant at that moment?
I hope so. I pray so.
Last Edited: March 27, 2014, 12:51 pm
March 18, 2014, 9:35 pmAnyone Know How To UN protect A Word Doc??
For some reason everytime I go to make a new Word Doc it is protected. This is Office 2007. I never made a password or encrypted it so can't remember how I even MADE them protected. There is no button that says "Stop Protection". I am at my wits end trying to find the answer on the internet.
I am trying to convert a doc to PDF but it won't let me. Is this because it's protected?
Any help greatly appreciated!!!!
March 10, 2014, 8:25 pmLion Cubs Meet Their Daddy...ROAR!!
Absolutely ado"roar" able! Well...maybe not. It looked like any moment he was going to have them for lunch. If you want to see what 500 lbs of cat looks like take a look :)