Monday, December 29, 2014

THE CHRISTMAS COLD

The main reason I fell behind in blogging is this wicked cold.


I am so tired and stuffy and crabby, I locked myself in my room yesterday.  All day.  The kids brought in food and liquids but that's it.  I do feel a bit better.  I don't think I caught it from my neighbor's dinner party.  Most likely from being trapped on an airplane with lots of coughing people and a small air supply, twice during the past two weeks.

Hard to believe I'm heading to Maui on Wednesday morning!  I'm gonna miss all of this happy chaos ... but just for a short time.  I'm flying back for Deacon's first birthday (March 5).  Then returning to Maui until May.

Back to bed for me .....

TEETH WHITENING for WIDOWS

I spent my first morning in Oregon at the dentist.  Three hours worth!  Thankfully I had coffee on the way over.

First, I had my teeth cleaned so the whitening would have a good base.  It was so comfortable I almost fell asleep!  Headphones with classical music, a blanket and a neck pillow certainly helped.  

Despite having my mouth open with a dam inserted, it was not the least bit uncomfortable or painful.  As predicted, my teeth were a bit sensitive the rest of that day but then back to normal.

They seem to be about four shades lighter.  Enough for me to notice but for others to simply think I don't drink coffee or red wine.

Now ... if I can do weekly at home sessions, I don't think I would need to invest $200 in another year or two.  But if I don't keep up with it, I think it was really worth it!


Excuse the wild hair and no make up ....



CHRISTMAS DAY

We had to wake Braeden at 10:00 am to open gifts!

And gosh were there gifts to open!  We have our own toy store here.  It was fun to watch the excitement, including simply ripping open the packages (Deacon's favorite thing).

I had made overnight cinnamon rolls and that is all the cooking I did that day.  Jesse baked sweet potatoes, made stuffing with fresh herbs, stuffed the bird with lemon and herbs and carrots and made a fabulous cranberry/blueberry sauce.  Needless to say, I was still in my jammies when his Mom and Grandma came.  


My dinner plans were not until 5:00 pm, with Mary Beth and Gary and their friend Fred, so I nibbled a little with the kidults at lunch.  Very very tasty!  The two Moms had a glass of wine and did a bit of chatting.  I try to keep my distance from her because she is very negative and voices her opinions out loud.  I have opinions on every topic imaginable, of course, especially the kidults and the grands but I would never utter them aloud, in front of company.  Even if asked.



Fade into Christmas Night dinner ... smoked prime rib, scalloped potatoes, salad, oven roasted root vegetables with fennel and lemon, followed by apple galette.  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  We talked, we laughed, we overate.  I felt bad leaving at 9:30!!  I'm liking these new traditions.  Although I wavered a bit when Jesse's Mom didn't let him know until noon that they were coming ....

CHRISTMAS EVE

I know, I know.  I've not been putting this blog as a priority.  Life just happens sometimes.

Every year for the past ten years, Jesse's paternal side of the family has a big get together.  I made plans with neighbors to go over for dinner.  That day I find out that there isn't going to be a Booth get together.  And for some reason, his Mom is being very pouty even though they invited her over on Christmas Eve night.

She texted me to ask if I knew "I" was hosting Christmas Eve AND Christmas Dad (including her Mom).  I said I didn't know about the second one but we were celebrating the day after so the kids are welcome to do whatever.  I was tired of the last minute stuff.  Turns out she had a fight with her oldest son, where everyone goes for Christmas day.

Apparently, that angered her (???) so she threw a little fit with all the drama of "I guess I'll just be alone for Christmas from now on"  despite Jesse inviting both his Mom and his Grandma over for a full fledged turkey dinner.

I headed over to dinner only to be greeted by the hostess flushing with a full on fever and her husband half dead with the same cold.  Two other widows were also invited over and even though we ALL suggested we go home and return in a few days to enjoy the dinner ... she insisted.

Life happens!

Monday, December 22, 2014

MONDAY, December 22, 2014

It's hard to believe just three more nights til Christmas morning.  

As usual, I don't know what Kate and her little family have planned.  I've been invited for dinner on Christmas Eve with a condo friend and her family.  And another invitation for Christmas dinner with condo friend and her boyfriend ... and a long time friend of theirs.

I land about 6:30 pm tonight (9:30 body time ...) and tomorrow I'm giving myself a gift ... teeth whitening!  All that coffee and red wine have done a number on my smile.  I'll be interested to see the difference.  I've asked them to take photos before and after!  (They think I'm nuts).  I wonder how long it will last.  This physical upkeep is getting expensive!  It's time to have my eyebrow tattoos darkened.  Also time for blonde-ing my hair and I'm this close to saying let it go grey and give it some shine.  It needs coloring every month.  Some suggest that I use a semipermanent for grey color at home.  Might be worth a try.  Ugh.

So I have a lot of wrapping to do.  Some groceries to buy for my contributions and hopefully, a warm and cozy day some time this weekend with my kidlets!

4% chance of snow in Portland.  Good thing my sister gave me indoor snowballs!!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

TEARS ... AND TALES OF CHRISTMAS

Saturday night all six siblings, and lots of their children, got together for Christmas celebration.   Food, fun, gifts and memories.

We started later than usual so those who work could attend.  But it didn't give me nearly enough time to chat with everyone.  I'm hoping next time we can have a few get togethers ... we didn't get to play any games this time.  Since there are FOUR brothers in the area maybe we could do a progressive weekend!  Food and fun galore.

Janet had to drive me and Tahlia 3.5 hours each way, dropping T off at the Cincinnati airport.  We then had two parties to attend but Dr. J is on call and had to go in.  So we had to miss the first one.  I am kinda melancholy and decided to not attend the winter solstice bonfire.  It's getting a bit harder to keep my tears in check today.

I sure do miss Mr. Ralph during these warm and cozy family times.  Thank goodness for this ....


Friday, December 19, 2014

FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD!

I've led a pretty sheltered life when it comes to food.  Most of my adventures have been led by my sister.  She is a Foodie Extraordinaire.  

Open a kitchen cabinet and you will find a dozen kinds of oil.  More than a dozen kinds of vinegar.  Her cheese drawer has only one commonly noshed cheese ... cheddar which was sent as a gift ... and many others whose names I've only glanced at while walking by the gourmet cheese section.

Mr. Ralph was not a fan of eggplant.  I am becoming a fan.  My first love is baba ganoush, mainly because I can buy it already made.  It is a creamy, smoky flavored concoction that you can use as a spread or a dip.  AND so low calorie!



One day for lunch we went to a Persian restaurant to try Shiraz Eggplant .. a wonderful blend of eggplant, tomato and egg with amazing spices.  Turmeric being the most prominent, I think.  Another eggplant dish that would make a nice dinner.  And guess what?  My next door neighbor is Persian and LOVES to cook so I can get some tips.  We also discovered Persian "Crack" ... a crispy delicious side dish made from the bottoms of the rice pots!  Called Tah Dig it is perfect to dip into ANY of their dishes or just tzatziki (which I also love).

Last night we delved into Indian food.  I'm 62 1/2 and have never had any Indian food, except maybe Naan.  Every dish was good and my two favorites were an eggplant dish called Baingan Bharta and a nice warm gooey spinach dish called Saag Paneer.  And I think I can make them both at home.  May have to buy all the saucy condiments they provided ...

Eggplant is going to be my new best friend.  Goodbye white potato ....

Have I mentioned how much I love my sister?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

JUST SEVEN MORE NIGHTS!

This probably was not the BEST time to be away from home for two weeks.  But I think my Christmas celebration is pretty much together except for wrapping ... and one last thing to pick up.  Thank goodness for online shopping and free delivery.  And a little family at my condo to accept packages.

Tonight here in Louisville we are having a low key, stay in for dinner, enjoy a fire in the fireplace and watch a holiday movie kind of night.  We may even bake a few cookies.  I have a Hanukkah gift to wrap for each of these three for tonight.  Since I won't be here for the final night!

Most of our running around is complete.  We have our ingredients for our Saturday potluck contributions (three hour trek to Columbus) to be with brothers and families for Christmas.  It's been about five years since we have all been together.  Somehow it doesn't seem to be a big deal to the four brothers.  The two sisters communicate almost every day and see each other at least twice a year.  

It just is what it is!  AND ... it's just seven more nights!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

MENORAHS, LATKES and DRIEDELS

I am learning a lot about Hanukkah this year as I observe the celebration with my sister and her family.


Last night they made latkes which were amazingly tasty.  A mix of white potatoes and sweet potatoes.  As many as we wanted with a huge green salad and a nice glass of red wine.


The Dr. did not get called out so we played a long game of driedel with high end chocolate coins.  It is so much fun, I'm going to bring home some little ones and teach Braeden.  (He is loving games these days)  Since birth, Janet has bought each family member an annual driedel.  Some are works or art!  All of them work to spin.


Hanukkah is not a big holiday yet there are so many components to celebrating.  I love learning the meaning behind each of them.  Last of all, we lit our own menorah ... and let it burn all night!


She also has many menorahs so we each have one to light!

Now if we could simply have peace on earth ....

Sunday, December 14, 2014

AWKWARD VEGAN

My sister is fixing a divine beef tenderloin with roasted root vegetables for dinner tonight.  Two of her friends are joining us and niece Tahlia.

Ordinarily this wouldn't seem like anything blog worthy.  Janet and Jonathan both eat to live, rather than my philosophy of living to EAT!  For years they were vegan (before it was popular).  The past 20+ years vegetarians who also eat fish.  Tahlia who is now 21 has NEVER ever had meat or fish.  

The family enjoys fruits and vegetables that I have only looked at and wondered "who on earth would eat that?"


Rambutan was the latest test taste on my part.  Dr J peeled them for us.  I tried one but it is pretty tasteless and the texture was like a lychee.  Personally, I don't bother to go through the work.  I'm sure this fruit has special magic powers but I'm not there yet.  I still think pomegranates are too much work for too little taste.  (Who eats just the seeds of a fruit???)

I digress.  About a year ago Dr. J had some medical issues similar to Crohn's Disease which his father had and his son does have.  Horrible stuff.  My sister set herself on an internet search to see how life might be altered by diet and other natural means.  Their plan is called Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD).  VERY strict with no grains.  But after just two months, they both noticed a big difference in how they felt and their energy level.  And they made the conscious decision to add flesh to the menu.  Still mostly fish but for Thanksgiving she baked a turkey!  

And tonight a giant piece of beef.

I love how they change their lifestyles to better their health.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

My sister drove me to Birmingham, Alabama to visit a Maui friend who had to move back home for health reasons.  Janet had met Leilani and Gary in Maui also and we all just seem to hit it off.

We had a wonderful visit, a great Italian dinner, played with the cutest kitties (my and Ralph's namesakes) and got caught up on world gossip.  We spent a few hours on Thursday night and a shorter visit on Friday morning.  Leilani is an amazing photographer, just as a hobby.  She specializes in birds and animals but has captured the essence of lots of humans as well.  Especially Mr. Ralph.

They now live on a rustic lake and their new home backs up on the largest State Park in their state!  Luckily for us, she often puts together coffee table books of collections of photos.  This year it was photos of tiny birds at her feeders dudring a snow storm.  Exquisite little guys who puffed up to ten times their normal size to try to stay warm.  I think I may have to buy one of those!

She gave each of us a wonderful photo of a dragonfly, perfectly framed for my new bedroom.  Now I think I am going to plan a trip in late spring or early summer to see the view when the trees block everything!  Just to see HOW she finds these elusive creatures!!!

Friday, December 12, 2014

WHERE IS CUSTOMER SERVICE?

Grrrrrrrrrrr.

Everyone makes mistakes.  I'm human.  I understand.  Sometimes it's even me.  But it bothers me when I dig up all the facts and information to reassure someone I did pay my bill ON TIME, and the continue to say ...  send your payment plus late charge by the 20th.

I belong to an HOA in Maui.  $39/month.  My bank is set up to send a check to arrive on the first of each month for that month.  Late penalty is applied to payments not received by the 20th.

Recently our property management company was purchased by a larger concern and our favorite property manager has moved up the ladder, we now deal with another lady.  My mail is delivered to my Maui address so my friend/neighbor opens everything then asks what I would like forwarded.



Last month the HOA sent a letter saying I was delinquent for the past four months.  I checked my bank and yes, my payments were sent on time.  I double checked the mailing address thinking maybe that had changed and I had not updated.  HOA asked for proof.  I learned that I can't look up and print front/back of electronic checks so I had to call my bank.  Yes, they had all been cashed and they sent me copies.  The HOA then called the next day to say never mind, accounting had straightened everything out.  

This week I got another letter saying I am delinquent!  Again, I checked my bank, the check was cashed on December 2.  Non-customer oriented lady said no, that was for November AND IT WAS LATE and I better pay by the 20th.

My friends are laughing and calling me Deadbeat Widow.  All the while I am emailing this person from my phone as my sister is driving us six hours to Alabama.  Thank goodness for technology again.

Tonight I went online via computer, got a list of every payment to this HOA for the entire year.  Yep.  TWELVE payments all mailed on the 27th or 28th of each month.

I just can't wait until tomorrow ....

Thursday, December 11, 2014

SISTER SWEET SISTER

I feel like I am at an elegant bed and breakfast (and all meals!).  

Last night I arrived at my favorite sister's house in Louisville.  An hour late at 10:30 pm.  Why is traveling so exhausting?  Having her waiting at the curb was wonderful!

My sister is Jewish yet she decorated my bedroom at her home with a tiny Christmas tree, an artistic non-animal gazelle with white Christmas lights and a perfect poinsettia in the bathroom.  A million pillow with a ton of blankets.  She always makes me feel so welcome.  Even a bottle of water and a chocolate on my night stand.



She let me sleep in til 8:30 (5:30 body time) and shared some coffee time chat when we departed to meet her friend for a trip to the outlet mall. This, in itself, is amazing as she hates shopping at big brand name stores.  We spent a couple of hours and had a nice lunch together, followed by a tour of Rhoda's condo (bigger than my old house!).  

I got caught up on Janet's remodel in NYC apartment (what a process!) then she brought out wine and almonds as she prepared Pad Thai for dinner.  Made with spaghetti squash!  FABULOUS!

I want to move in here ....

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

AWKWARD FAN MAIL

I'm SOOOO excited!

Today I got my first piece of fan mail!  This is amazing.  I started this blog because of all the awkward situations that first year of widowhood.  Who knew anyone else would even read the words.  It didn't matter.  It mattered that I got things off my chest.


Somehow blogging is now my hobby.  (Secretly, I always wanted to keep a diary but it never lasted more than two weeks).  Why it is sticking now is beyond my thinking.  I was always encouraged by one of my favorite bloggers, The Misadventures of Widowhood.  She still leaves a comment every day.  Through her I've met a great group of widow bloggers whom I follow and read every day.  I've become friendly with them outside of blogging (email and Facebook and online games).

To receive a complimentary email from a total stranger has just made my day!  My year!!  Nothing short of another grandchild!  Thank you Judy from Venice.  




Tuesday, December 9, 2014

BLOGGING FROM 30,000 FEET

I'm in the air about an hour from my first stop (Dallas) on my journey to the midwest.  Internet from an airplane!

Business people use this service because their company will pay for it.  I decided to splurge just to try it out.  A hi tech Gramma!!!  $20 well invested just for the sheer fun of it!

I land tonight about 9:30 pm Louisville time.  I hate to make people pick me up at the airport that late but it was a great fare and I know my sister will take a nap when she gets old.  Thanks, Janet!

Nothing new to report!  Deacon weighed in at 22 lbs and mesures 31 inches long...at 9 months.  He is so curious about everything within his sight.  He's less cautious than Braeden was at that age ... so he has a few bruises here and there.

More from Kentucky, Alabama and Ohio!


Sunday, December 7, 2014

PAJAMA PARTY

Ooops!  I forgot to post yesterday.

I got busy getting groceries and cooking for a gal pal dinner and overnight visit!  Sharon and I have been friends for over 30 years.  Off and on, as our lives went separate ways.  Her children are older than mine which means carpooling and teenagers were at different times.

I made crockpot chicken with carrots, celery, onions and mushrooms ... and the ubiquitous Campbell's Cream of Chicken soup.  My now "almost famous" loaded smashed potatoes and asparagus.  And a teen tiny lemon bundt cake that I bought at the holiday bazaar that morning.  She drinks white and I drink red.  We each had our own bottle.

We chatted and played with her little pup, Brody, who is a long haired chihuahua with a wonderful personality.  It was a grey grey day and I felt like I could have gone back to bed throughout the day.  So at 10:00 pm, I finally said goodnight.  I had a pile of magazines (recycled from neighbors) to give her and off I went.  She's more of a night owl.

Good to know!  Yes!  We each finished our bottle!

Friday, December 5, 2014

AS OF TODAY, NINE MONTHS OF BLISS

Wow.  Another mile marker this week.  Sheer bliss.


Deacon Lee Booth is officially nine months old today!  Happy fun little baby with his own distinct personality.  He is eating people food but still getting all his nutrition from Mother's Milk.  Kate exclusively pumps for bottle feeding (because he was a lazy latcher!) and any excess is frozen for the future.  They even bought a small freezer just for milk!  He probably has enough to last until college!

We've been practicing using FaceTime so he will see me and hear me once a week while I am away.  It does my little old heart good to see him light up when he hears my voice!

If only Poppa was here ....



Thursday, December 4, 2014

MY NEW MEANING OF CHRISTMAS

Yesterday I had to sit back and gain perspective on my first world problems.  It helped.  I think most of us do this automatically ... because our lives are really just not that bad.  Yeh, we have financial worries.  Yep, arthritis is a big bother.  Eating healthy is ALWAYS an option (that sometimes we do not take).

There's an ad on Craigslist in Maui.  A young college student is asking for help for her four younger brothers to have a bit of Christmas.  Single Mom and she is working fulltime to pay for her studies.  She was looking for gently used games and trucks.

And then I saw this post on a friend's Facebook page.



Sums it all up, doesn't it?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS

Two nights ago my movable bed FROZE in the reading position.




I was pretty mad as I just purchased this in March!  I changed batteries in the remote.  I unplugged the unit for an hour.  Then I called the retail outlet who said to call the manufacturer.  I left a message there with no response.  Then I sent an email.  It's hard to coordinate repairs when I am leaving next Tuesday.  The kids will have to live here (which they love!).

It's pretty cold here which made me wish I had purchased the next car package UP from what I bought ... so I could have a heated steering wheel.  And remote start so the van would be warm when I got in.

At dinner, I wanted something other than what I have on hand.  And that's when it hit me.  These are all first world problems.

I have always had a bed (to myself unless I wanted to share).  Some families sleep on the ground.  Or many to a bed.

I have never gone hungry (except on purpose).  And some families are so grateful for $50/month to feed their family of four.

I have always had reliable transportation and the money to put gasoline in it.  I can't even imagine walking and carrying water on my shoulders.

Today I am prayerful.  First world problems are not really problems at all.  Minor blips in an upper middle class world.  At worst.  I am thankful.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

DEATH DAY ANNIVERSARY

December 2, 2014.

I allow myself a lot of remembering and a little crying.  Nineteen months and counting.  That's progress, I guess, as I am not counting the days any more.

He would be in his glory during the holidays.  The food.  The festivities.  The Christmas movies.  The Christmas commercials!  The older he got, the more sentimental.  Kate and I would tease him ... "Dad!  Come quick ... here's an aluminum foil commercial for the holidays"  Ha ha ha!!  Back in the day, those AT&T commercials and Hallmark commercials got him every time.

Last night I was invited for dinner and made his famous (only) dessert.  This couple had never met him ... but based on eating the dessert (after a FABULOUS turkey left over Shepherd's Pie) wish they would have!


Famous Chocolate Wafer Icebox Cake.  It just wasn't as wonderful as when he would make it ...

Monday, December 1, 2014

DECEMBER ALREADY???

Yikes!  The Christmas season is coming on so fast.  Why on earth did I decide to take two weeks out of state?  It's really December already????


Thank goodness for technology.  The hardest part of gift giving is deciding WHAT to give.  So that part is finished.  Today I just went online to Amazon and got 'er done.  Gifts for my sibling gift exchange and for my Hanukkah visit with my sister were shipped directly to her house.  Hopefully arriving before I need them.

The other stuff is heading this way and the kids will live at the condo while I am away, so they can bring them in and hide the boxes.

They spent the night last night as Jesse wanted to put together my three Ikea pieces for my bedroom.  They look just perfect.  Now to organize my stuff and two rooms will be finished.

Braeden spent a lot of today rearranging my Christmas knick knacks.  And when Dad put together the shelves, he had to move a few in there.  It looks rather nice!

My whole day was devoted to simply playing with the little ones while they were here.  Now that my shopping is finished .... time for a glass of wine!