Friday, February 7, 2014

Myrtle Marie -- The Heart of the Family

My grandmother Marie in her Easter Sunday finest - the broad front porch -- with the all-important porch glider -- behind.
Last year, my cousin Tim sent me a wonderful gift -- a CD of old family photos that he had scanned.  It was an absolutely delightful and thoughtful thing to do.  Looking through the photos brought back a flood of childhood memories.  

At the time, I wanted to thank him for his thoughtfulness. I started a thank-you email that soon became a bit of a memoir of my childhood, recalling my Grandparent's home and some wonderful times. Sadly, the house that was the centerpiece of all these wonderful memories is now in a deplorable state of disrepair. Sold by my Grandmother in the early '70s after my Grandfather's death, the current owners either wouldn't or couldn't make the investment of keeping it up. But when I was a child, it was a seemingly enormous, pristinely well-kept, whitewashed brick family home suited for a very large family -- exactly what my grandparents needed for their six children and their children's rather large extended family.  Thank you again Tim!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Twas ever thus...

Once again, we are empty nesters.  Our over-achieving roller coaster that is our daughter has taken off, spreading her wings towards parts north (150 miles to be exact) as she prepares to enter her first year of medical school.  Once again, I am at loose ends -- adrift as I try to figure out how to handle the empty, now oh so quiet room across the hall . Empty room, hole in my heart -- twas ever thus. The same thing. It does not change with age. It does not get easier.  Off she goes, taking my heart, my peace of mind -- leaving behind a void that will take time to fill with the fluff of nothing important. An impossible void.  An un-fillable vacuum.

Only children have it rough. They are the sole focus of a parent's attention from the moment of their first indrawn breath -- from the first moment a parent is aware of their existence actually. Now, rather than staring at the crib to see the small movements that mark a baby's shallow breathing, I focus on my own deep breath and the knot in the pit of my stomach.  Rather than hers?  Something I am once again not used to doing...

Throughout this past gap year in my daughter's academic schedule, I have grown used to having her around. I've been lulled into somnolence -- having her in the house, coming and going, hopping around the house, dancing in her room, playing her music, laughing loudly as she reads something funny on the internet, plopping down between us on the sofa to watch a film, helping with dinner.

Throughout this 400 day idyll, the three of us have lived through the agonizing roller-coaster that is the medical school application process.  The initial exciting anticipation followed by seemingly interminable waiting, interviews, more waiting, more interviews, insecurity, frustration, disappointment, anger. Then comes the icing on the cake -- joy, excitement and pride followed by the fly in the ointment -- that inevitable final preparation until her car backs down the driveway towards her own life -- this time as a medical student.

And so, the cycle begins anew.  It's another sunny Sunday in August -- and she's gone again on her own life's journey.

My husband says that we have done our job well. We have raised an intelligent, thoughtful, independent, yet loving young woman who lives her life, loves her freedom, yet calls us every day. She does her thing but still lets us know that she loves us -- that we matter. We let her know the same.  We are connected and will be -- I hope -- throughout our lifetimes.

Twas ever thus...

Friday, February 8, 2013

Oh no! He didn't!


Look at this face. It's a happy face... A playful face... This smiling face dreams of squirrels, rabbits, cookies,  squeaky toys, a well thrown tennis ball -- and rides in the car.  It is face full of joy -- and mischief. It's the mischief I want to discuss today.

Meet Beau Beau. Beau (aka Bo Bo, Pupcicle, Stink-pot, Bud, and Bubbie) is the four-footed companion of my life. He is sweet, he is charming, he is well-mannered --  most of the time. He is pound-puppy extraordinaire. And generally a very good boy.

The Great White Westie-Hunter
During the day he is great white hunter-- ruling the backgard domaine with constant vigilance -- patrolling with energy and interest in any and all.  He seeks out the dead and rotton in which to roll, particularly after he has just had a bath. He barks incessantly as the squirrels jump from tree to tree, just out of reach. 

When he wishes to go out, he speaks (more a low glutteral growl). When he comes back in, he lays down by the door and presents all four feet  to be cleaned -- usually with some disgusting goo smeared all over his nice white shoulders.  

My co-pilot

An angel, you're thinking... and he is most of the time.

But, at night, it can be another story...

Beau is a creature of habit. When I go to bed, he follows me down the hall, ready to hit the crate. Has he been out? Not sure. Should Daddy let him out since he's often the last to retire?  Definitely. Does Daddy forget? Sometimes. Therefore on occasion, there is a nice wet surprise at the side of the bed. Given the location of the accident, I'm sure he's tried to rouse us from sleep. I suspect there is quite the dance before the accident occurs. 

What can one do?  It's our fault for not making sure he goes out at 9:30. No punishment is in order, although I'm sure Beau gets the gist from my exasperated tone of voice. But it's not his fault that Daddy dropped the ball and Mom was too exhausted to be roused from her tourpor.  

Therefore, I offer the link below to the absolute best, bar none, solution for eliminating, no eradicating, dog urine odor and stain from carpet. It is natural.  It is pet friendly.  It is golden!!

Water, white vinegar, baking soda, peroxide. That's it -- go figure!  The list from which clean-smelling dreams are made...

Give it a go. It really works. No more nasty smell. No more stain. No recidivism (hopefully). The trick is to get to it as soon as you can. I have no experience with set in, dried stains as Beau rarely messes up. But, I have heard that this works very well on those old stains. I know it works damn well on the fresh ones.  

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Happy Thanksgiving!

Doubt these will be on anyone's table today. I think wild turkeys are beautiful! Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rhubarb Cake: Sometimes a blind chicken...

Late last summer, I bought a rhubarb plant at the flea market. I have no idea what variety it was -- I picked it up on a whim.  I've tried to plant rhubarb before, with no luck.  By no luck, I mean absolutely no luck.  Bare roots, established plants, seeds -- you name it, I've tried it.  Failure and rhubarb have become synonymous in my gardening lexicon. But, surrounded by milling throngs of bargain hunters on a hot, sunny morning in Indiana, I decided to give rhubarb one more try.  My little last hurrah cost me $2.50.

Poor little plant!  It sat forlornly in it's little nursery pot for several months -- languishing for want of attention and a home of it's own. But, given my poor success with planting rhubarb, I didn't wasn't in a hurry to get it planted let alone established because I wasn't exactly sure where to try to plant this one.  I'd tried many locations in my yard, and even considered planting it in the no-till garden over the winter -- but I wanted to hoop the beds and didn't think that this would be the right environment either.

As the weather grew colder I decided to just heel it into the ground in a fairly sheltered place and move it in spring -- a longshot at best, given my rhubarb track record. I dug a hole between two evergreens, stuck it in the ground, covered it up --  and promptly forgot about it.

During an early spring survey of my garden, I noticed this new plant, that seemed to be flourishing stuck there between two yews.  I knew it was beautiful, knew it was doing well, and from the looks of the earth around it, knew I'd planted it.  But what the heck was it? Then, I noticed the distinctive red-hued stripes on the stalks that held up rather large plate-like leaves and realized that this was my scrawny rhubarb plant from the fall.

It's in partial shade but it seems to love its last-minute home so I think I'll leave it where it is and see how it fares the rest of the season. It may end up living exactly where it is -- slightly off center between two yews, somewhat hidden from view but growing great guns.  What do you know... even a blind chicken finds a kernel of corn once in awhile!

I found this recipe on and decided it was just the perfect rhubarb recipe for my soon to be harvested rhubarb!  Maybe I'll make it for myself for mother's day! To view the recipe just click on the cake image below and it will take you to a link in my  Pinterest feed.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Easter Egg and I

Spring is here -- a little too early perhaps -- but here none-the-less.  On this early Easter morning, I'm strolling down memory lane...

When I was a child my mother believed Easter called for the best attire possible. She made new grass green matching lined wool Easter suits for my sister and I.  My sister and I are four years apart -- a world of age to a child, an instant in time to an adult.  I was thrilled to be dressed like my big sister!  For her, it was probably not such a thrill to have her dopy little sister looking like the other half of a pair of spring green book ends.  Those suites were lovely -- little Chanell-esque fitted numbers (a little pleating in the skirt to make them more girly than Jackie O).  We had little purses and hats with little flowers on the brim --  to match --  and white patent-leather mary-jane shoes over white socks.  We felt absolutely glamorous in our finery.   My brother standing next to us in his suit, his blond hair in a flat top, a bow tie below his grinning face.

Easter was often spent at the home of my maternal grandparents -- Czechoslovakian by birth -- Slovak to be specific. They came to the United States -- bringing their Holiday traditions to the new world along with their few possessions.  Settling in a small coal-mining community in Eastern Ohio, they raised a large family and tried to make every Holiday special -- steeped in their European traditions and a bit of mystery -- at least to my young eyes. 

Easter was a very high holiday in my grandmother's home and, in true Easter fashion, eggs played a very central role.  Each Easter eve, my grandmother would fix an enormous basket of food to take to the church to be blessed.  I remember the large wicker basked stuffed with giant-sized whole hams, hard-boiled eggs (colored of course -- eggs in waiting for the next day's Easter egg hunt), wonderful fragrant kielbasa, and a sort of solid egg custard made with eggs, milk, sugar, raisins that was cooked until it formed curds, then gathered tightly into a clean dish towel, and hung from the knob of a kitchen cabinet until it cooled and solidified into an golden egg shape.  It was sliced -- with bits of raisins here and there -- and I adored this egg custard, although I don't think my sister was such a fan.  

At the top of this literal mountain of food were dozens of hot-crossed buns and several beautiful dense 12-inch round loves of egg-rich Easter bread, also speckled with raisins. That golden colored bread made the most wonderful left over ham sandwiches and breakfast toast -- especially when slathered with dripping warm butter!  One loaf always had a braided cross on top,  the other encircled with a braided crown.  The crown was supposed to represent the crown of Christ but I thought it was just like the braided crown of beautiful soft grey hair that encircled my grandmother's head.  

One of my uncles would lug this hefty basket into a waiting car and it was driven to the church to be blessed for the Easter meal.  Then home it came and the women of the house went into high gear as they prepared for the next day's feast.  In my family, the women did the cooking but the men did the clean up.  There are wonderful photos of my father and all my uncles -- jackets off,  in their baggy Sunday best suit pants, stiff white shirt sleeves rolled up, ties tucked into the front of their shirts, towels tucked around their waists -- standing at the sink, another towel in hand -- doing the dishes.  They all seemed to be having a great time.  A good time undoubtedly fueled by several glasses of dinner wine.

The night before Easter, we kids would play outside until dark, while our parents dressed to go out on the town. The brothers and sisters, spouses in tow,  enjoyed getting together as couples and it was fascinating to see our plain-old parents transform themselves into beautifully coiffed, dapper strangers as the women's high heels clicked through the house, the men adjusting their ties in the mirror by the front door as they headed out to the waiting cars and drove away, the mixed scents of perfumes and after shaves wafting through the air in their wake.

My absolute favorite anticipation of Easter (I was one of the youngest children in this large extended family) was the lamb-shaped cake my Aunt Betty (my God Mother) always brought to the feast.  She had no daughters of her own and made me feel like she'd made that cake just for me.  Always a yellow cake, it was baked in a two part mold and glued together with icing, covered with more fluffy white icing, and pressed all over with shredded, sweetened coconut wool.  It always had a black jelly bean nose and blue jelly-bean eyes.  Those blue eyes beckoned relentlessly  -- en tolling my often grubby little fingers to swipe a bit of icing.  I always obliged the lamb. 

I think I'll call my God Mother today!  Happy Easter!  Happy Spring!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Lentil Soup for a Small Planet

Lentil Soup topped with melted Swiss Cheese - in this case a reduced fat Lorraine.

I've been cranking out a lot of soup lately - partly because it's so darn cold, and partly because Dave is a soup junkie. If you give him an option, during the winter months, he'll pick soup first. If you ask him for suggestions as to what he'd like for dinner, he pops up with soup as first choice - invariably.

Copyright Info

©Tasting Out Loud, 2011. All images ©Equimage Media. All rights reserved. No Tasting Out Loud content may be reproduced without permission. Please ask first.