About Me

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I am a retired English teacher and department head, the mother of three, grand mother of three, and have been married to the same man for 42 years. I subscribe to Dr. PM Forni's concept of Civility. I was born in South Philadelphia and grew up in the 'burbs. I love soft pretzels and cheesesteaks, the Phillies, the Eagles, and San Diego. I love being Mom, Aunt Kathy, Nona Kathy, and Teacher. I spend a lot of time in my gardens in the spring and summer, and in the winter I plan what I'm going to plant. I also am an avid reader and photographer.

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Who Could Possibly Take Issue With Trader Joe's?

In a word:  I.

Given, Trader's is a pleasant, happy even, place to shop.  The employees are generally helpful, congenial, and engaging.  Their products are of quality -- the pizzas and flatbreads, for instance, are excellent and the pricing under Trader Joe's label, is considerably below that of other brands.

Their meats are a great buy; nuts, olive oil, cheeses excellent.  And I could go on and on singing their praises; but that's not my point, is it?

So what's the problem?

1.  The parking lots of every Trader's we've ever been in are tight and ingress/egress poorly designed.  Could it be the same firm?  Perhaps an entire firm of non-drivers?

2.  While of excellent quality, the produce is not local.  I could be wrong about this, but have asked different store personnel and they've concurred.  And while this is not a game changer for me, we do like to shop locally, particularly in our growing season.  And so we do.

3.  THE ISSUE is this:  We try a lot of their products or products they feature.  We get hooked.  We crave.  We buy.  After a few months the products disappear.  Specifically, a decaff green tea we LOVED.  The same with a lavender body wash and hand soap.  (At least I found these on the internet and can buy  in bulk).  

We weren't so lucky with their French roast, decaf coffee-- superior to many expensive brands (we've tried them all) -- rich and flavorful.  And alas, gone. (They still carry the caffeinated version, however).  And the product that prompted this rant:  Trader Joe's frozen arancini (little Italian rice balls filled with cheese).  We love them, our grand daughter loves them, everybody loves them, and they are no more.  Discontinued.  Nada.  Try buying these from Amazon!  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Why I Could Never 'Follow' The Pioneer Woman

When I began blogging  the friend who had initially lighted my interest in blogging suggested I 'follow' Ree Drummond:  The Pioneer Woman.  So I visited her blog.  I really enjoyed what I read and left a comment.  Soon after, however, I knew I would neither return to her site, nor would I ever 'follow' her (subscribe to her read feed (for those non-bloggers who may be reading this)).

Let me begin by saying her blog is well written and informative; her photos beautiful.  I believe we could even be friends.  We'd talk about her lovely, well-behaved children.  She might even laugh when I told her that I feel that sometimes children are a punishment from God.  

Ree and I have much in common as I am a pretty good cook -- actually -- I'm better than 'pretty good'.  Granted, I don't cook for as many as she does, but I have in the past.  I don't use as much garlic or hot sauce as she does, but that's okay -- to each her own!  Her cooking show is informative and entertaining; I could share a lot of my family's Italian recipes and she could tell me what a skirt steak is.

Maybe I could  help with her home-schooled kids' English lessons, since I'm still a certified English teacher.  She could teach me why cowboys don't take their hats off at the table -- I'm sure there's some good reason -- and I could tell her why as a teacher, I slow down when I see prison work crews on the highway looking for past students.  We'd have great fun.

So why won't I 'follow' her?  After I left the classroom I began blogging as a means of meeting people; connecting with others who have similar enjoyments; making friends.  Fellow bloggers understand how thrilling it is to see that someone has left a comment.  And although Ree may want to reach thousands of folks, she has different goals.  I am certain I'll never get a reply to my comment or a blog visit from her.  And that's okay.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

I Am Ground Zero

In light of the 'Serenity Prayer,'


God grant me the Serenity
to accept the things
I cannot change,
the Courage
to change the things
I can, and
the Wisdom to know
the difference,

I've decided  in the hope of maintaining sanity and some peace, I will take the following measures:

I am "Ground Zero".  I will be cognizant of the needs of others; purposefully instigating kindness and compassion wherever I can and will eschew recognition for such.  In other words, doing good for the Heaven of it.  All it takes is one light; one person.

I will ignore all mention of things political -- namely anything involving the candidate for the next four years.  Any mention of that man's name, or that of his family, will be blocked.  Kind of like Voldemort in Harry Potter -- "He who must not be named".  His name, antics, family will not be spoken of in this house.  He is anathema to me.

I will work quietly and definitely for the greater good, supporting those individuals and agencies that provide relief and quality of life for others both nationally and worldwide.

I will pray for our evolution from this myopic, ego-centered, hypocritical, and ignorant society to one that recognizes goodness, decency, and worth in all of us.

Monday, December 12, 2016

It's Going to Take Some Time

I'm foregoing a Christmas letter this year.  Maybe because it would read like a page from the Book of Job.

It has been a terrible year:  full of trauma and loss.  I know that we're not the only ones and my prayers go out to all the others who are finding the Christmas joy, still beautiful, still awesome, but a bit contradictory to the way we feel.

And just to clarify, there are still Blessings to be counted:  a wonderful marriage and husband; three gorgeous and kind children (two of whom have WONDERFUL mates) and four grands who are all doing well (my mouth to God's ear), a successful family business, fantastic brothers, and the kindness of many around us.

Yet, the losses are substantial:  my mother three weeks ago; my friend and next door neighbor two weeks ago; and about 13 extended family/close friends before that.  

We managed to decorate the outside of the house, but have skipped the inside...is this a metaphor or what!?   I just don't have time to heal before Christmas.

Monday, September 19, 2016

♫ I see Trees of Green; Red Roses, Too..♫

It was been a very, very trying summer for us, not totally without joy, but we have really taken quite a few gut-wrenching  hits.  

Two of the hardest ones -- our four-year old grandson tripped and fell onto a fire pit.  Although our son quickly grabbed him and got him to cool water almost immediately, Tyler suffered second and third degree burns on his face, neck, and hands.  He was air-lifted to Bloomberg's Johns Hopkins Children's Hospital where he remained for several weeks under the care of angels in the form of nurses.  He continues to improve, and believe it or not, his scars are minimal. He's quite a trooper.

Then, the first week of June, my mother had a stroke which has left her, a woman who still took care of her own finances -- and did so expertly, who walked three times a day and still argued politics and discussed current events  -- needing assisted living.  She can walk with assistance, but does not have the use of her arm.  Cognitively she is good.  Now we are faced with some very big changes that we will make regardless of our readiness, regardless of our liking.  

Since June we have lost more than several close friends.  It's just been one of those times.

These times of intense difficulty and grief occur in all our lives.  And in spite of them, we must continue to find the joys; they are always there even though we must sometimes search for them -- the laughter of children, the kindness of strangers,  conversations with friends, "the bright blessed day, the dark sacred night..."


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Life's Bowl of...

Things are not great here.  They're not horrid, either, but life lately has not been easy.  As with all of us, there are good times and not so good.

Not everything is bad, though.  We've met with friends, visited with a brother who lives in Mississippi, and are enjoying our hot Maryland weather.  On Thursday I celebrated a birthday and received a new iPad which was a dual-edged sword because it won't let me into my usual sites or accept any of the passwords I provide.  

Okay -- enough whining -- here is the good.  
The gardens are in bloom.  And these bring me great joy.

















Tomorrow, I go for a root canal.  

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Jigsaw Philosphy

I've always loved puzzles.  From the little plastic thingies with the little silver balls to get into the slots to the daily crossword puzzles in the paper.  I suppose that my favorite puzzles involve language and vocabulary, but I must admit there is no challenge to me like a 1000-piece jigsaw.

Some time ago I 'subscribed' to Jigsaw World on Facebook.  One can choose to buy puzzles, but I have never done that, opting for trading in my accrued points for more puzzles.  There are frequent competitions on this site and the winners are those who have finished the featured puzzle the fastest.  I am far from being a winner -- and am not in the competition to do so.  I just love doing the puzzles.  (I also think some of these folks are cheating, but cannot for the life of me determine how).  My friend Sharron and I usually take about three times as long as the 'winners' to complete the puzzles.  She thinks they're cheating, too.

Competitions aside, there are a few things I've learned from jigsaws - some more obvious than others:

1.  I have great success when I pay close attention to the little details like color variation and pattern.

2.  Patience is REALLY important -- not usually my strong suit, and sometimes trial and error is the only way to success.

3.  The more pieces in place; the more understanding of the big picture.

3.  And most importantly -- as in life, a piece may seem to be perfect -- the correct color or shape, but if it doesn't fit -- move on.  I can try to 'pound it in', but do so in vain.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Simple Gifts

Today -- about 24 hours after disembarking The Emerald Princess in Port Everglades.  I'm still rocking.  Haven't yet gotten my 'land ears' back.

But I am joyful.  In spite of and due to torrential rains last week, there are a few mounds of snow left;  the remnants of the blizzard.  And although Maryland does not celebrate the lushness of Florida and the Caribbean, ever-blooming palms, hibiscus and bougainvillea, today is a beautiful day:  close to 65°, beautifully sunny, with a light breeze, and the sliding glass doors on the sun porch are all open, allowing the fresh air to circulate in a house that has been closed up for winter.  

 I am doing laundry -- and yes this is a joy for me -- neatly folding the clean, fresh-smelling clothes after removing them from the dryer.  

Our trip was a good one.  We relaxed, saw beautiful turquoise waters of the Caribbean, met lovely island folks, rode through the Everglades, and were attended to by others.  We even watched excitedly as our ship was called to search and rescue a nearby boat that was taking on water.  

When I slipped into bed last night after a hot shower -- OUR bed, with OUR sheets and 'just right' blankets, I sighed.  It is good to be home.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Something New for New Year's

We spent a quiet New Year's Eve at home.  I read.  The Big Guy surfed the Internet a bit.

I decided a few days ago that I wanted something different for NY's dinner; something that looked good and was satisfying, so I concocted a dish:  au gratin potatoes with a twist.  It was worth every second!




Here's what I did...

KATHY'S NEW YEAR POTATOES

1     lb ground turkey breast
5     shallots, thinly sliced
6     slices of cooked bacon, chopped
1     T onion powder
salt and pepper
2     T  chopped parsley
3     T Garlic infused olive oil

Pour olive oil into large saute pan.  Brown turkey meat and shallots;  add bacon and parsley.  Mix well.  De-glaze pan with water or chicken stock if needed.

4      large Yukon Gold potatoes sliced extremely thin  (I use a mandolin)
2      c heavy cream
1      T dijon mustard
8      oz  shredded Mexican Mix cheese
6      green onions, chopped
paprika

Preheat oven to 350°.
Layer potatoes in a buttered baking dish.  Spread all of meat mixture atop potatoes. Sprinkle on some of the cheese.
Add another layer of potatoes and cheese. 
Add mustard to cream and mix well.  Pour over potatoes and top with cheese, green onions, and paprika.

Bake for 75 minutes or until brown and bubbly.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Kindness of Others

So where have I been?

Life has been a whirlwind, it seems, since Thanksgiving, which was strangely quiet -- just the two of us feasting on crab dip and watching football;  it was luscious!! Perhaps the universe was gifting us because it knew what December would hold.

My 90 year old mom had carpal tunnel release so we drove up to PA to pick her up from the surgery center, do whatever shopping she needed done, take her to lunch (yes, you read correctly -- she wanted a hoagie with everything but hot peppers), get her pain medication for her and settle her back into her apartment in the retirement community where she lives.  We then drove back to Maryland.

We decorated the outside of our house and then worked on the inside.  Everything is done except for our tree which we plan on putting up today.  It's still in the garage in a large bucket of water.


And for the past week or so we've been helping our middle child move from her townhouse to the new home she settled on this week.  We are so proud of her:  a single mom -- her dad's business partner.  She's a very busy girl.  And is totally over the moon with her new home.


Since Thursday, we've been packing up her house and taking over what we can fit in our cars.  I figured if the kitchen were totally packed, moved, and set-up in the new house, she would feed less overwhelmed.  It would make moving day (the movers come tomorrow) a lot easier, and she could at least make herself and helpers a cup of coffee without having to dig through boxes.  So that is what I did yesterday.  With the help of the Big Guy, I packed up the kitchen, drove it over to the new place and unpacked and organized dishes, pots and pans, food, spices, et cetera.  After soaking in the hot tub for an hour, I slept well last night.

What awes me, though, is the fact that so many others are helping her.  Friends gathered last weekend to put a huge dent in packing.  Lisa, a friend of mine, furnished a stack of newsprint to wrap stuff in.  Simon (her adopted uncle and a restauranteur) threw a lunch for us on the day she settled and sent a truck with some guys who work for him to move things the movers wouldn't take without charging her (it's all about weight), like huge planters and outside furniture, and boxes too heavy for us.  Mary, a co-worker and partner in crime has done a yeoman's job of emptying closets and transporting clothing.  When I left yesterday, Mary was busy decorating the outside of the new house for Christmas.  

We are so blessed and thankful for these folks!