Archive for October, 2007

An unthinkable tragedy….
October 30, 2007

What a horrifying tragedy at that beach house in North Carolina….house full of bright, promising college students with their whole future in front of them…bright futures from the look of it. Young people of means, attractive, sorority and fraternity kids, some of whose parents have houses at the beach. And then this happens. Lives lost, hearts broken. It sadly reminds me of the recent house fire on the Eastern shore, where several college students lost their lives in a eerily similar tragedy…two from one family alone. I cannot comprehend their loss. No one can.
But here is what no has mentioned….the distinct possibility of alcohol being involved when something awful like this happens.
Now let’s get this straight. I don’t know any of these people, and I have no idea what happened with these fires. But I have a son who’s been through college and one daughter in college. And I know very well what many kids do when they go to resort houses, or anywhere for the weekend when they’re alone. They party. And many of them drink, sometimes a lot.
Back in the day, kids would have never been allowed to use a house without parental supervision. Never. Because parents feared that kids would get into trouble and do things they don’t want them to do. And the truth is, that’s exactly what they often do.
They drink, they smoke, they go to bed with stoves and grills unattended, with candles burning, they do all kinds of things that a parent there, might find and avert a potential tragedy.

We give our youngsters a lot of freedom these days…and I’ve been as guilty as the next person. We treat them like adults when really, they are not, not quite yet. We allow them privileges that we as kids, would not have had, because we’re modern parents, right? We want our kids to like us…something my parents never worried about. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with our kids liking us, as long as we remember that on occasion, we also have to make the unpopular decision. Too much responsibility conferred too early, can lead to tragedy.

What would you take?
October 24, 2007

I got up early this morning to see what was going on in Southern California…turned on MSNBC and got a Cup of Joe…evidently a program where Joe Scarborough and a pretty lady with long legs show you the front of newspapers. Hmmmm, if that’s what I wanted, I’d just go read the newspaper….on to CNN…Bingo…they’re live in CA.
But the whole horrible Armageddon scene makes you think about what you’d take with you, given a very short, frenzied time to get the hell out of your house before it burns down.
I heard one evacuee say, “All I had time to do was get my daughter and wife, and get out. We really didn’t have time to think about it.”

What would I grab? I guess as many family pictures as I could quickly get my hands on, and they aren’t together in nice neat books, like my sister has. My kitties, if I could get them. Cats aren’t like dogs in that regard, if they’re scared, they hide…not good in this situation. My Mom’s silver? Maybe….I do treasure it, and I know where it is. Honestly, I’m not sure what else I’d take. The truth is most of it could be replaced in some fashion….it’s just stuff, after all, the detritus of life that we sweep along with us.
Watching the dramatic pictures of the flames is almost mesmerizing…I heard one reporter say last night how pretty they are…and while it sounds awful I know what he meant.

I remember some years ago a work trip to California, staying in a hotel, down the coast from Malibu, sitting alone in my hotel room I could see down the coastline a blazing fire in the hills. Far enough away not to be alarming, and it was beautiful. But you know that terrible beauty may be the destruction of someones life memories and belongings…not so beautiful.
Let’s just hope the weather plays ball with the firefighters today, before more lives are destroyed.

You big tofurkey!!
October 24, 2007

I’ve told you I get some strange things in the mail…..this time it’s Tofurkey….that’s right, soy made to supposedly taste and look(?)like turkey.
I suppose if I took this slice of tofurky out of it’s pouch and plated it, it might look a little like turkey, but I’m not so sure. And I haven’t tried it yet, so I can’t tell you what it tastes like. But I can tell you it’s made from soy, and it’s organic.

And evidently, some families serve Tofurkey at Thanksgiving…look, here they are right here! But I don’t know them. Even a family of pretty dedicated vegetarians I know, who bring soy burgers to cookouts, make an exception for turkey at Thanksgiving. But I’m gonna give the Tofurkey a chance….maybe serve it and call it something else…like Turkeywerky….Turkeynomore….Turkalicious….I don’t know, I’ll think of something.

Getting the Wrinkles Out…..Ironing maniacs…
October 23, 2007

OK, someone I work with (and have no fear you shall remain nameless, my little ironing maniac) just came up to me and said, “Oh my goodness, I’m so glad there’s someone out there who irons their sheets. Only this particular (and clearly she IS particular) person, irons the entire sheet set, including the bottom sheet. Wow, that makes me feel like a slacker.
And this woman also used to iron her underwear, though she’s given that up, but she will still iron say, a slip if she has to wear one.
Famous people love to have their sheets ironed….I remember on Oprah one day, the actual subject was how to avoid dust mites and the like, and this doctor explained the importance of changing your sheets, say, once a week. Oprah said, “Oh, I like mine changed every two days…”
The doctor gently replied, “Well, Oprah, that isn’t really practical for everyone.”
I think this embarrassed her a little, and it’s true, if you don’t have someone to change your sheets for you all the time, you won’t do it quite that often.
I remember reading about Jackie Kennedy Onassis….while married to Aristotle Onassis, and thus had LOADS of help, her sheets were changed twice a day believe it or not. Freshly ironed sheets were put on after her daily nap, and after she arose in the morning.
That must have been one busy laundry on board the Onassis yacht, The Christina. And I can only imagine what the laundresses had to say about Mrs. O behind her back, as they changed the sheets…..yet again.
I have a book at home called Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson…..I actually bought it as a wedding gift years ago, but never gave it away. She has this to say about ironing sheets….
Untreated all-cotton and linen woven sheets wrinkle considerably. Traditionally, therefore, they were always ironed. Sleeping on fresh, ironed sheets is one of life’s treats, but ironed sheets are not necessary to health or comfort. If you are hard-pressed for time or have better things to do, feel free to laugh loudly at the thought. Certainly giving your guest ironed sheets is gracious. Giving them to yourself for special nights, or anytime you particularly need rest or simply feel like making your room look especially good, is pleasant too.”

The Trouble with Figs
October 22, 2007

The trouble with figs is….I can’t grow them. OK, not can’t, exactly…more like haven’t tried. I’ve always wanted a fig tree, ’cause I love figs, and if you’ve ever seen them in the supermarket, you know they’re like little pieces of gold…probably because they are somewhat delicate and hard to transport.
This summer I’ve been inspired by two people I have met on story shoots who have figs trees.Recognizing the paddle shaped leaves immediately, I always try too get as much information about growing them as possible. What I get is usually, “Oh they’re really easy to grow.”
But figs don’t grow well in colder climates, do they?….According to a Fig Interest Group website I found, you can “overwinter figs”. here’s what they suggest….a fighouse!
He built a winter fighouse by setting pressure-treated posts in the ground around his tree. As winter approaches he attaches plywood to the posts to form walls and a roof. Additional protection is given by several 55-gallon drums stationed in the fighouse and filled with water. The water in the drums stores an enormous amount of heat energy that is released as temperatures fall below freezing.”

Sure. Someone gave me the cutting from a fig tree you see in the picture, and I’m waiting for it grow just a bit of a root system before I pot it. I;m sorry to say it doesn’t as nearly as healthy right now as in this picture. It’s down to one leaf, which is yellowing, and I fear I’m killing the cutting. Maybe I should pot it now before it’s down to a stick?

Postscript: Lost the last leaf this morning, and the water in the bottle was a stinky mess..through the whole thing out. No fig tree for me this year.

Guilty Pleasure or Drudgery?
October 21, 2007

I was talking to my Mom a week or so ago, and we somehow got onto the subject of ironing. I admitted to her that I iron pillowcases and parts of the top sheet…the part that shows anyway. She was incredulous…maybe even aghast.
Why on earth do you do that?”, she asked…and I expected the question. Most people would say the same thing.
This ironing of linens, a creation of labor really, is something so unnecessary, so oddball, that there is I think, a secret society of ironing freaks out there. Like me.
Why do I iron? Partly it is frugal..I’d rather iron one of my shirts (that the cleaners insist on treating like a dry cleaning item, so that they charge me $3.99 instead of the $.99 charge a man’s shirt gets), rather than pay the 4 bucks. There’s some sanity in that.
What is the reason for the ironed sheets? Let me assure you I did not grow up with ironed sheets. Before we had a clothes dryer, we spent quality time together, my sisters and I, hanging sheets and everything else from the laundry, on long iron clothes lines, which had to be wiped off before each use, as they might have a little rust on them.
This necessary exercise was done in all sorts of weather, so even if it was really cold, you hung the wet laundry with frozen fingers, and sheets were a special challenge. And the sheets almost had a crunch to them when you took them down.
As my Mom had to iron almost everything we wore, in the days before permanent press,the sheets had about as much chance of being ironed as I had of sleeping late on a Sunday. Iron the sheets? Fat chance.
And while I love the feeling and the look of ironed sheets…they are so lovely in their smoothness, it’s more than that. I find ironing, relaxing and soothing somehow.
I found an article in The Independent, written by a man named Simon Carr(who is clearly part of my secret society), and his words capture it all perfectly.
The iron is hot and glides along on a cushion of high-pressure steam. It leaves behind an advertisement for domestic work. The cloth is pristine. It’s what immaculate means. And it smells nice. That’s an important thing about life, it doesn’t always smell as pleasant as it should. Yes, ironing restores the soul, and sometimes a little more. As it smooths the outside, so it helps smooth the inside – and that’s something we all need as time goes on. “
I think I would have made a fine upstairs maid, in another age and another day.
Very fine ideed.

Through the Red Door….
October 19, 2007

Guess what this week is? No, guess again….the answer, Spa Week!
I’m not sure a lot of people know that, but I got an email about it from Spa Week National some time ago. Basically, it means that spas that choose to join in(only about 4 in our area), offer treatments for $50. Things like facials and massages that cost a lot more. So I was more than happy to support the movement by traipsing through the Red Door.
The Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa at Cross Keys is the closest participating spa to me, so after work yesterday, I booked it, straight to an appointment for a shea butter body melt. Honestly, I had no idea what it was, but figured it couldn’t be anything but relaxing.

First, you’re ushered into a luxe changing room, where you’re given a locker, a robe and slippers. After you change, you are taken into the “relaxation room”….a dimly lit(so dim I couldn’t read the magazines there), with sofas and pillows and throws. There you await the arrival of your technician.
Soon I heard a soft “Donna?”, and Darlene took me back to what looked like a massage room..only there was a plastic sheet on it. Hmmmmm.
Darlene told me to slip under both towels on the table, but on top of the plastic, and she’d be back shortly.Full of faith in Darlene, I do as she tells me.
OK, the body melt was fab. First, the bed is heated…as I’ve had some back issues this week, that was truly welcome….Arms and legs are exfoliated(think, scrubbed briskly), then same arms and legs are rubbed with warm shea butter, then you wrapped in the plastic sheet, kind of like turkey baking in a bag, covered with towels, and you just…melt. Darlene gives an acupressure neck massage while you’re melting.
Did I enjoy it? Ohmigoodness yes. Wish I could have one everyday.

Complaint Free Zone
October 17, 2007

I’m thinking seriously about wearing one of these purple bracelets…Oh no, you say, not another plastic bracelet craze…what’s the cause this week?
I guess it is a cause of sorts, trying to find the cure for a disease that certainly runs rampant around this country…complaining. That is the quest of the book A Complaint Free World. Can you even imagine it?
It involves wearing one of the bracelets, and each time you find yourself complaining about something, which could be, oh I don’t know, several thousand times a day, you must switch the bracelet to the other wrist. I could be a chafing exercise.

Here’s the thing. I actually envision myself as a pretty positive person…takes a lot to get me down, usually look on the bright side, blah, blah, blah. But I’ll bet most of you think you’re the same way. Little Suzie Sunshine, right?
Are we really? Am I really? We might all be in for a surprise.
My theory is that the less we really have to worry about, like where our next meal is coming from, the more we worry and complain about little things….not eating too much of that meal, or it not being the best meal, and my gosh, is that salmon farm raised or wild?
You know what I’m saying. When the author of the book Will Bowen was on The Today Show, Matt Lauer pointed out that at their workplace, complaining had been raised to an art form. Ummm, sounds like my workplace, and probably yours too. Why care about any of this? Here’s the idea on their website, and I’ll admit, it makes sense to me.

“Your thoughts create your world and your words indicate your thoughts. When you eliminate complaining from your life will you enjoy happier relationships, better health and greater prosperity. This simple program helps you set a trap for your own negativity and redirect your mind towards a more positive and rewarding life.”

I like it, and I’m gonna try it. Want to join me?

These shoes are for kids??
October 15, 2007

I was shopping with my daughter a week or so ago, and we saw something in Nordstrom’s(though I’m sure it’s everywhere)that really surprised us both. Grownup shoes for little girls. I don’t mean stilettos, or something that insane, but heels, none the less.
What gives?
Perhaps it just follows that since little girls can buy low slung jeans and crop tops, and look like baby teens, shoes would be next in line.

It must be part of the crazy process to turn our baby girls into women as fast as we can…why let them waste time in childhood, when they could be exposed to all the rigors and problems that come with adulthood? So, let them shave their legs at 7, and let them teeter around on heels at the same time! Bye-bye childhood.
Enough already!

OK, that said, they also had some gorgeous shoes for those of us who are certifiably adults(more than certifiably, more like undeniably)…I bought a pair like these spectators a couple of weeks ago, only grey and black… I just can’t get past the white after Labor Day thing, at least on shoes. My Mother’s teachings are deeply embedded.

And while I didn’t buy these evening shoes…aren’t they pretty? So very, very pretty, but I don’t wear evening shoes often(who does?), so they always seem like the last thing I need. Step away from the shoes department…step away.

October 13, 2007

It’s that time of year when the luscious pomegranate comes into markets….and at the risk of sounding like a grocery store ad, SuperFresh on 41st Street has the red orbs priced at 2 for $5.oo! That’s a pretty good price, ‘cuz the little devils can be pricey.
OK, Pomegranate 101. Lots of people don’t know how to crack them and get the seeds out(which you just eat whole)….here’ the drill.

1. Fill a large bowl with cold water.
2. With the Pom underwater, score the skin all the way around with a knife, just deep enough to get through, maybe 1/4 inch or less.
3. Pull it open. Now with your finger and still underwater(this is important, because the juice really does stain), separate the seeds from the white pith…the pith floats to the top as you see, and the seeds sink to the bottom. Carefully pour off the water and pith, and you have yourself a lovely supply of super healthy pomegranate seeds to eat just as they are, sprinkle over cereal or salads or desserts, or even better, make pomtinis.
Have a great weekend all….