About Me

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I am a retired English teacher and department head, the mother of three grand mother of four, and have been married to the same man for 48 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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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Semper Vigilans

 

It has all become frighteningly clear.  The nod to the Proud Boys: ”Stand proud, stand by”; the 126 from Congress and the Republican governors wanting to reverse Electoral votes already cast, and the death threats against the Electoral College members forcing the need to sequester some of them.  This was an attempted coup.  The United States of America (not some banana republic) – heretofore the epitome of democracy “The land of the free, and the home of the brave” thwarted a subversion of our blessed Constitution.

Our country, the only one founded on the idea that we are born equal under the law, all have a voice in the running of its government, a country where when we work together we overcome great obstacles, clearly yesterday averted a take-over. 

We all must be vigilant; we must recognize threats for what they are, and we must all work together to safeguard and ensure our freedom.  Next time, we may not be as successful.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Okay, It's not your typical Christmas Letter...

 

What began as the ubiquitous Christmas letter to include in our Christmas cards has quickly morphed instead to this, as I found that I could not avoid the insipid and couldn’t even write a tongue-in-cheek missive.  I was not spreading tidings of good cheer.

Projections for deaths due to COVID are as high as 500,000 by January and yet there remains a large part of the population who disavows the virus entirely.  Some recognize it, but claim it is ‘only the flu’.  Our hospitals are crowded and our caregivers over worked and overwhelmed, and still many deny the urgency.  After Governor Larry Hogan’s speech last week cautioning Marylanders about the risks of travel and Thanksgiving gatherings, one person left the comment:  "I am having 20 people over to my house on Thursday, so take THAT, Hogie!!" 

And while I’d like to think that this spiteful, ignorant individual is one of only a few, I suspect with all the outrage expressed by having to wear masks that he is not.  Seems Americans have a horrid case of “you’re not the boss of me” and it is killing us.

Yes, our country was founded on ideas of independence and individuality.  These traits were nurtured by many long after the last shot of the Revolution was fired, and Bostonians could sip their untaxed tea.  Emerson and Thoreau, for instance, called for independence from sameness and following the crowd.  And while these ideas are crucial to a burgeoning democracy, and certainly inspirational, right now they are our most certain demise.

I miss meeting up with our friends.  I miss going to restaurants, attending football games or concerts.  I imagine with inordinate glee walking into a store and shopping regardless of occupancy.  And I adore the idea of being able to see through my glasses without the fog created by a mask.

This country has endured many challenges, but we’ve always come together and worked for the common good.  I’m hoping that with actual leadership from a new administration we can unite to overtake this current threat, but I am frightened and doubtful given the animosity that has festered for the last four years.

 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Walking Kitty or Una Bella Passeggiata

 As I've mentioned before, we've been taking daily walks to make up for not working out at the gym.  It's during these promenades - or passeggiata in Italian - we talk about our kids, what Richard has seen on Morning Joe that day,  what current infamy 45 has committed, and all kinds of things two people who have been together for 51 years talk about.  

We love 'discovering' the little things around us:  native flowers, local fauna, and of course, we have to stop and pet the dogs being walked (with owners' permission, always).  We noted that although not quite fall, subtle changes have already occurred.

A gorgeous day with temperatures that did not make it into the 70s, it was perfect to walk around Lake Kittamaqundi (Kitty), one of the four man-made lakes with great walking paths, in our area.

We walked right by this guy -- until someone called our attention to him.


And then we waited for him to move for a better shot.  We weren't disappointed.



A local bunny feasts on native wingstem.



There were also some neat rock sculptures and of course a great view of Town Center from the other side of the lake.






Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Our Daily Walks

 Many know how much I loved going to the gym.  Because of COVID, however, I have not worked out there since February, and after talking with my doctor, I probably won't be going back for some time.

Instead my husband and I have taken to walking around the four nearby lakes.  We began slowly -- doing maybe a mile or so, and now walk about three miles three or four times a week.

We are really lucky to have these lakes so close.  We see all kinds of wild life -- some we're able to capture in pictures; some not.  The walks have really made a great difference in our attitudes in that we do not feel as isolated.  We also use the time to talk, make decisions, and say hello to others' furry friends.

Here are some of our favorite shots.  Enjoy these.











Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Side Effects

When I first heard murmurings of a possible virus  last January, I thought of the  initial reports of the then unnamed HIV, of a virus from mosquitoes, of ebolla, and thought like those just mentioned this would be an illness affecting only a particular segment of the population possibly not even in this country...  And, of course, within two months I realized how naive I had been.

But even after the first reports of illnesses I felt pretty confident that most might escape unscathed, AND, I thought -- we have the CDC and a government with safeguards in place.  Little did I know how much COVID  would change everything and I'm just not referring to having to wear masks, stand in line to shop at Trader Joe's, follow the arrows in the grocery store, or wait in the car for the dentist to call us into the office. 

Who knew that a pandemic plan would be completely discarded, that the Center For Disease Control would be castrated, and made a political puppet, that people in these 'United' states were not.  Nor did I expect  how selfish some people are, how oppositional they become when asked to do the simplest of tasks, or how myopic they are; that it is always all about them.  But I know now.

Our lives have changed, and forever.  Soon, we will be able to function without masks.  We will be able to gather, to hug, to dance, to celebrate.  But what will scar us forever, I fear, is the knowledge of ignorance around us.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Kath's Tomato Crostada



Failproof Pie or Crostada Crust

This makes 2 small pie crusts or one large crostada.

    stick butter, cut into small pieces.  Place in freezer.

1/2 c of cream cheese

2    c all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp kosher salt

2    beaten eggs

(If you have no cream cheese, add another 1/2 stick of butter)

Place flour, butter, cream cheese, and salt into a food processor bowl.  Pulse until it resembles corn meal.  Add eggs and pulse just until it forms a ball.  Dump onto floured surface and form into a disc about six inches round.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

After chilled, set out while you prepare the filling.


Tomato-Red Pepper Filling

5     ripe yellow and/or red tomatoes, sliced and salted

Place tomatoes in a colander to drain for at least one hour

2     roasted red peppers, patted dry and chopped

1     small purple onion, sliced

5-6  slices of cooked bacon, cut into 1" pieces

3/4  cup of mayo

2     T of grated Parmesan cheese

1     c grated jack or cheddar

1/2  tsp of freshly, coarsely ground black pepper


When tomatoes have thoroughly drained, place into a large bowl and add remaining ingredients.  Toss completely.

Roll disc to a large round.  Place crust on  parchment-lined baking sheet.

Spoon filling onto crust leaving about two inches of crust.

Fold crust over, and brush generously with egg wash (one beaten egg).

Bake on lower rack in 375° oven for 45 minutes.  Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before slicing.


Thursday, June 18, 2020

MY VERSION OF FLUMENKUCHEN



Our dear friends the Bordases posted that they had this for lunch one day last week.  Bill was using up scapes from his garden.  We, too, had scapes from our CSA package.  We, however, don't really like the lingering smell of garlic, and these babies were STRONG.  So, much to the chagrin of Bill Bordas, into the compost they went.  (Yes, I'm an Italian who can't stand the smell of garlic.  Go figure).

Several folks asked for the recipe so here goes.

Pizza Dough  (I mix mine, initially, in a food processor -- a stand mixer with a dough hook will do, as well)

4   c  tepid water
1   pkg of dried yeast
3   T olive oil
2   T honey  (yeast loves honey!)
2   t salt
2   c  semolina 00 flour  (If you don't have this, bread flour will do, as will 
    all- purpose flour in a pinch)
2   c  bread flour

Mix yeast, water, olive oil, and honey.  Let bloom (get little bubbles).  
Mix dry ingredients in the processor or mixer bowl.  Turn on processor/mixer and add liquid.  Allow to process for 4-5 minutes in food processor or 10 minutes in mixer.

Remove onto floured surface.  Oil your hands and knead for an additional three minutes or so.  Dough should be SLIGHTLY tacky.  If it is hard or too stiff, put it back in the mixer and add a little more water.

Form into a ball that feels smooth (like the proverbial baby's bottom).

Generously oil a large bowl and place dough inside.  (I use a plastic bowl with a lid).  Place in a draft-free area and let rise until doubled.  (I stick it in the microwave).

After doubled in size, remove, punch it down, and separate into two rounds or one big rectangle on oiled pans.  Stretch dough on the pans.

Preheat over to 480°

Topping

1/2   c  creme fraiche
2      c   caramelized onions
6      slices of prosciutto
6      slices of cooked bacon
sprinkling of freshly ground pepper  (optional)

Using the back of a large tablespoon, spread creme fraiche over the dough to coat.  Sprinkle on pepper, onions, prosciutto, and bacon.

Place in oven on middle and lower racks.  If you have to use two racks, switch placement after ten (10) minutes.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until edges are LIGHTLY browned.

Take pictures!!




Monday, April 20, 2020

THE CAT'S ON THE ROOF

A little down today so I'm focusing on some good stuff.

I finished the planning for my gardens and listed and tallied the numbers of the plants I will purchase this week.  We are so very much looking forward to the color, and the warmth and lushness that May brings.  C'MON MAY!!!


Many know I'm a South Philly girl.  Today we ordered cheese steaks from Pat's.  (Sorry Jim's -- Pat's had a better deal.  Buy 4 ('wit' onions and cheese); get four.  The only bad news with this is they won't be delivered until May 20th.  I think Pat is walking them down to Maryland himself.  Now all we need is pretzels from Federal or Bernies!

Marylanders learned about 45 minutes ago, that our governor, Larry Hogan and his wife,  engineered a deal with South Korea for 500,000 testing kits.  The first couple of Maryland met the delivery at BWI Thurgood Marshall this weekend.  The man is a mensch!  I understand the governor of Illinois has done something similar -- he even sent the Illinois National Guard to pick up the delivery.  Both governors had to do end runs around the current administration.  Not cool.

Our youngest daughter send us this today.  Her cat, Leon the Lion, gets pissed with her and goes and sits on the roof.  I'm wondering how I can get up on ours.  Isn't that a punch line to a joke?







Friday, April 10, 2020

A Walk Around Wilde Lake


As are many of us, we are trying to keep active.  At our age, sedentary lifestyles are as bad as or worse than smoking.  And so on this very windy and chilly Good Friday, we drove about a mile from our house, and walked one of the three man-made lakes in Columbia.  Wilde Lake (also the name of the village in Columbia, the high school where I taught within said village, and the name of Laura Lippman's novel about that village and lake) has a lovely path around it that is relatively flat, unlike the path around a few of the other lakes that are extremely hilly and in the woods.  One doesn't want to walk the wooded paths on a day so windy -- at least without protective head gear.

There were a few others out, but all - even the dogs they were walking - kept respectful and safe distances.

We saw an osprey that was too quick for us to get a picture, and a Zumba friend with whom we exchanged "Happy Easter" /"Happy Pesach", a few mallards, and the ubiquitous Canada geese.






Saturday, April 4, 2020

Seemed Funny At the Time...

After breast cancer surgery last May, I began radiation treatments.  As scared as I was, this turned out to be a rather benign (forgive the pun) experience.

Each day I reported to the oncology/radiation center, changed my clothes, and sat in the women's waiting area.  Sometimes there would be other women waiting with me, and other times I sat alone.  On no day did I wait longer than five minutes (they ran a really tight ship) before I was greeted by a tech and asked to 'come back' to the treatment room.  First, however, in an anteroom, and with my picture up on a rather large computer screen I was told to identify myself and state my date of birth.  Every single day by the same people who saw me every single day.  Same protocol.

While all were impressively courteous and competent, some were kinder than others.  There was one tech, who while totally professional, was not as openly responsive as the others.  

Two weeks into treatments and called back once again by this same person to respond to name and date of birth, I said, "Dresilda Flackenbush".  No smile; just, "No, you are not."

The next day she called me back, asked me my name and date of birth.  This time I replied, "Bernadetta Mangiacavalle." (translated from Italian: Bernadette the horse eater).  No laugh; no smile; and then it hit me:  I was provoking her and she could kill me.