Tuesday, October 30, 2018


Even I can't believe it!  Actually, there are two guys I've been seeing a lot this week, one on one.

On Tuesday after school, Braeden asked if we could have some alone time.  We checked it out with the parental unit and got permission to have a couple of hours.  He had been sick all weekend and had cabin fever.  After a little after school snack, we went on a search for a machete (or other killing device) to finish his Jason costume (from Friday the 13th shows).  UGH!  Boys are really into gore and blood.  It took a long time to choose (not too heavy since he has to carry it all night).  Then thought we should get something for brother for his Army outfit.  Mission accomplished.

Of course, Deacon was home sick on Weds, and he asked if we could have a tea party!  This past summer, I bought a little blue tea set, thinking I could bribe them into some quiet time.  

And he wanted "real" tea ... not milk or juice.  I brewed a cup of throat relief blend, used a tiny funnel and filled the tea pot.  We had miniature Vanilla wafers that he put on a tiny platter along with one piece of bubble gum for each of us and a tiny piece of candy.  We used real cream and I put sugar in the sugar bowl.

It was a delight!  He did the pouring and serving (pretty good for a 4.5 year old!).  We talked about school and what he liked about it.  And did not want to have brubba join us when he got home from school.  He helped me make a snack plate for Braeden so we could continue our party.  (Fortunately, B's friend came over and they went outside to play, so no feelings were hurt in the making of this tea party). I washed the dishes and he put everything back in the little basket.

I just love alone time with EACH of these guys.

There was no school on Friday, and Deacon came in with his froggy little throat, Gramma?  Wanna go on a date with me?  I wasn't even done with with my morning coffee!  Well, of course!

He got out his leather dress shoes and some dress pants and had Dadda get him a "cool" shirt to wear.  He combed his own hair (I wish I had a photo!).  We put on our jackets and he brought an umbrella and said "let's go to the Clubhouse".  Beaming from ear to ear, he unlocked the door (mostly on his own) and went around turning on the lights as well as the gas fireplace.  Our library has a few games and every time I had to take one of them with me for a meeting, the box of dominoes kept them entertained.

So we played dominoes!  Building towers, matching numbers, playing "war" where whoever had the most dots won the battle.

He got to sit in the "big boy" car seat so I could drive through the post office then stop at our Adult Center to drop off some papers.  He came in with me and was the delight of the afternoon.  He shook hands, spoke his name clearly and loved when I told people he was my date.

And he always will be!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018


I suppose it comes with my age.  I have quite a few family and friends who have recently died and still a few with hospice or 24/7 Medicaid care. 

Having new people around to help care for you is hard work for the sick and/or elderly.   Especially as a lot of the low level stuff is done by people who don't speak English very well.  Which would make me get a Nanny Cam for sure.  How do we know they are getting the right medicine at the right time ... can these folks read English?  So much to be concerned about, especially money.

Though it seems easier for me to talk with these folks, after having Mr. Ralph go through a rather short term time of pain and suffering, it is still something I need to bolster myself up to go visit.  One friend is no longer eating and hasn't been awake for visitors for over a week.  Last week I visited.  Non responsive.  I patted her shoulder, rubbed her arms, massaged her head.  She would smile but not open her eyes or speak.  I consider myself a chatterbox but it's hard work to have a one way talk.  Exhausting.  I'm glad I made time during the past 6 months to visit and chat and even take her to Dr appointments and lunch while she was still able to enjoy.

My sister-in-law is a Hospice nurse and has been for almost 40 years.  What angels these people are!  Mr. Ralph's hospice nurse still keeps in touch via Facebook.  They are ALL about the client.  And they taught me as well.  Get the person's attention.  If I talked with Mr. Ralph and he was reading email, chances are he would not even hear me.  Set a positive mood for interaction. For me, getting him to take medication was not easy.  I'd phrase it "where would you like to go for a drive after you take your meds this morning?"

State your message clearly. Ask simple, answerable questions, while holding hands or looking into his eyes. 

Listen with your ears, eyes, and heart.  When the going gets tough, distract and redirect.  I was pretty much a pro here!  Most importantly, keep your sense of humor.  It goes a long, long way.

Saturday, October 20, 2018


Kids pick up on everything.  Sometimes I suggest that we not have the news on around them.  I went in the boys room the other day to see what Deacon was up to ... he ordered "don't come in here, Gramma!  We are evacuating because of hurricane flooding".  Four and a half.

The kidults have a busy day today so I volunteered to take Braeden (almost 8!) and his fragile cereal box creation to school today. 

As my reward, I stopped by Starbucks and got myself a coffee and brought Deacon a warm vanilla steamer and a giant bagel.  I reminded him to take a small sip to be sure it wasn't toooo hot.  "Can you please bring me a icicle to cool dis off, Gramma?"
Braeden's favorite phrase (of Second Grade) "You don't have to remind me, Gramma, I'm not a baby anymore"  This kid practically gets himself up and off to the bus by 7:30.  Takes a shower every morning (it wakes me up!)  The parents now have morning school duty and lunch packing.  I just don't want to get up that early!  I treat once a week for lunch when there is something that he thinks he will like ($3.50!)  The school puts out the menu every month.  His favorite is breakfast for lunch.

Deacon needed to use the bathroom after I had finished and apparently I didn't smell like a rose that morning.  "What dat tinky mell?" I told him.  "Make bacon, Gramma!"  Since he had just had breakfast I asked "are you still hungry and want bacon?"  "No!  Make bacon and our whole house mell good!"

Following that, Braeden showed me that I should light a match!  Others in this family do that. Living close together .... no secrets!

My most favorite so far was last night.  Braeden wanted to get some of his money to buy something from the School Store.  I have a safe in my room, so I got his envelope for him.  He decided on $3 and then asked "can I give some of my money to the poor people" "did you know some kids are not as lucky as me?"

My heart melted.

Thursday, October 18, 2018


Our pool just closed a week ago.  Our weather is in  the high 70's with lots and lots of sunshine.  The leaves are changing, right on schedule.  Mother Nature does share some wonderful things (as well as hurricanes and floods and wildfires and tsunami and ...)  But really?  Where does the time go?

I found an app for my phone called "Christmas Countdown" which tells me how many days (and hours and minutes) til the big day.  It creeps up faster and faster every year.

Speaking of creeping ... or creepy!  Halloween with boys is a whole other story.  One wants to be Jason, the creepy killer from the Friday the 13th series.  Gruesome.  The other wants to be a zombie with "lotsa lotsa blood."  Mom has done a few craft projects that are cute but honestly, they just want to make things creepy.

(From Pinterest ... I can't get a good picture of hours)

Ping pong balls with battery powered tea light inside.  They had great fun making them.  And then shooting them with nerf guns. 

I love this one.  String around a balloon.  We have a lamp that it sits on so it looks like it is lit up.

Last but not least ...

A spider eating a baby doll.  They are going to rip off one limb and add blood.

Monday, October 15, 2018


I lost my booklet outlining the wedding ceremony.  My sister graciously sent me the English version to clarify a few things for me (she obviously reads this blog).  Thank goodness for technology!!

The original booklet had both Hebrew and English.  This is what she sent ~


Kippah/Yarmulke  Please feel free to wear a kippah during the wedding ceremony. It’s a sign of respect, and also a lovely memento of this special day!

Pre-Wedding Ceremony Ceremonies
While you’ve been busy finding your seats and putting on a kippah, the bride and groom have been conducting a Chinese tea ceremony to honor their families as they become relatives of each other.

After that, they read and sign their ketubah, a traditional Jewish marriage contract. This has beautiful words and art that they will see in their home every day to remind them of their love and connection.

Most of the wedding ceremony occurs under a chuppah, or marriage canopy.  The chuppah represents the shelter and privacy of the home that the bride & groom will create together, with the open sides representing hospitality to their guests.

The groom is escorted by his parents to the chuppah.

The Maid of Honor, Best Man, bridesmaids and groomsmen now proceed to the chuppah to be witnesses to today’s simcha (joyous event).

The bride is escorted by her parents to the chuppah where she will join the groom.

The bride and groom each circle the other three times, and then once together.  This makes seven circles, which symbolize the wholeness they build together.  Seven is a powerful number in Judaism, representing creation, good fortune and blessing.

The Ceremony


Blessing over the Wine and first sip from the Kiddush Cup

Shehechiyanu  - a traditional blessing recited the first time you do something each year and to mark joyous occasions.
Ring Ceremony

Seven Blessings
Here’s that special number 7 again! These represent the many joys of creation, including the bride and groom creating a new life together today.

Second Sip of Wine from the Kiddush Cup

Breaking the Glass
As we hear this glass shatter, let it remind us of the power love has to make the world a better place, and to know that the newlyweds’ love will be a positive force in our world.

It’s traditional to shout “Mazel tov!” when you hear the glass break, wishing goodness and congratulations to the newly married couple.

Pronouncement of Marriage
Before the final pronouncement, know that after this happy couple leaves the chuppah, they will share a quiet moment together in a private place. This is called yichud (“seclusion”). They will then join us for cheers and canapés before we’re seated for dinner.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

NYC Tourist

I visited my sister in NYC a few years ago ... with remnants of the stomach flu and two bad knees.  Their co-op is very near Washington Square and there is so much to see and do ... as well as buy ... there.  It was a very short visit and I didn't get to enjoy so much of it, so I vowed to see more if I ever returned.

For the first few days of the Wedding Week I mostly saw restaurants and the inside of Ubers and taxis.  Sunday afternoon I moved into their teeny tiny one bedroom unit along with another friend, as my Brother-in-Law was departing that evening.  We met up with the sister of the groom and her two East Coast buddies and her West Coast bestie and had a gourmet pizza luncheon.  The girls left their luggage at the coop to go play about the City as their flights weren't until 10:30 pm.

The bride and groom came over about 5pm and we shared more Dom Perignon. How they manage to be awake and coherent is beyond me.  Such a cute couple, I have to say.  They have a new age marriage as he left Monday morning for grad school in Philadelphia and she remains in NYC.  He is finished in May and they have had a commuter relationship for more than a year.  It's about a 90 minute train ride.  I think they both want to stay in NYC but it will depend on his job opportunities (he's a little genius and charming and good looking, so anyone will be glad to hire him).

Sunday night another friend of my Sis joined us and we went out for dinner again.  Fortunately, I got a cheese burger that was down to earth delish.  They shared a few desserts and my waitress sold me a HALF glass of wine for my dessert.  Life is good.

Monday morning we went on a two hour pedicab ride through Central Park.  WOW!  Our guide was an amazing wealth of knowledge and knew his history as well.  And he had a bit of gossip on who lives around there and how much the units rent or sell for.

840 acres in the middle of Manhattan.  What used to be a scary place to visit with drugs and drinking and crime everywhere, is now an oasis of green joy.  No trash, no homeless camps, no crime.  Lots of picnics and children playing and folks enjoying their lunch.  This park is now mostly maintained by a privately funded group Central Park Conservatory.  The first tree was planted 160 years ago and now there are 20,000.  It is just awesome.

The Central Park Conservancy is responsible for the management, restoration, and enhancement of Central Park and raises the Park’s nearly $80 million annual operating budget. Since its founding in 1980, the Central Park Conservancy has overseen the investment of more than $1 billion into Central Park.

Our guide pointed out where different movies had scenes filmed.  He explained that originally the space was a marsh and it took FIVE YEARS to dry it out.  Then five more years bringing in soil.  A park.  Who knew?

On the way home, we walked about the chi chi stores, the Lego store, Rockefeller Center and an I ❤️️ NY store to get baseball caps for the boys.

Yep.  Got my 10,000 steps in that day! 

Saturday, October 13, 2018


Friday, September 28, 2018 at 5:30 pm (Ralph and my anniversary!)

(The front of invitation that opened like doors to 8.5 x 11 ... 
can't show you the inside to protect their privacy)

I purposely did not bring my iphone tonight.  I didn't want to be distracted trying to take photos of everything and everyone and every fabulous morsel .... I just wanted to enjoy the whole experience.

The day began cool and grey.  It was to be an outdoor wedding.  Guests were shuttled from Manhattan to Tarrytown (about a two hour drive).  Fortunately, they didn't serve alcohol on the bus ride!

At exactly 5:30, the clouds disappeared and the sun came out!  It was a Jewish ceremony with the groom's Dad officiating.  So classic and refined.  And yes, the groom stomped on the glass!  (I still don't know why this happens and why the ceremony takes place in a chuppah)

The ceremony was brief and we were ushered inside (and out) for canapes and Dom Perignon ... and any cocktail or fine wine of your choice.

Two of my brothers (and wives) and a nephew (and wife) drove 10 hours to attend.  It was like a little family reunion.  And we were seated together which was very fun. 

This is the walkway into our dining area ....

(I was seated at the round table on the left of this photo)

I had such fun!  All of the toasts.  One little person on China time fell asleep at her table.  Then the BEST dancing band ever.  Lots of 80's songs and yes, they got me up on the dance floor.  As we left for the evening, some of the Bride's relatives handed out small paper lanterns with a battery powered tea light for the Chinese part of the celebration!  We waved them in figure 8 (Chinese good luck) and each lantern represented our wish for the couple.

Then the newlyweds walked between two long rows of well wishers, she dressed in a beautiful red Chinese gown, handing out candies.

What a wedding!  I'm so glad I got to attend ... and was invited to all the other festivities before and after.

P.S.  As we were boarding the return bus, we were given a beautiful bride-designed box with a bride designed coffee cup filled with a tiny pineapple cake and I can't remember what else.  WOW

Thursday, October 11, 2018


Thursday evening of the Wedding Week was the rehearsal dinner.  My Sis and Hubby hosted it at The Modern, a two Michelin-starred, contemporary American restaurant at the Museum of Modern Art.  Wowza!  The whole wedding party (and most of the guests) are Foodies and I, for one, was not disappointed.

We were in the private dining area which was an oasis in itself.  This was not our setting, we had flowers and the tables were staggered and it just felt very intimate.

CANAPÉS (passed and described as serving)

Crispy Arancini with Zucchini, Crescenza-Stracchino and Saffron Aioli

Peekytoe Crab on a Fried Green Tomato

Salmon Tartare with Korean Chili on Crispy Rice

Horseradish Steak Tartare on Potato Gaufrette 

Mini Tarte Flambé with Burrata and Bacon


Tuna Crudo Padrón Crema and Shaved Radish


Artichoke in Barigoule White Polenta and Parmesan

Maine Scallops Fregola and Roasted Sunchokes       
Seared Duck Breast Red Cabbage, Apples and Sauce Meurette

Roasted Pear Almond Tart Chèvre Chantilly and Ginger Ice Cream


Petits Fours

I had to look up most of these preparations or ingredients.  Everything was totally amazing, beautiful and delicious.

Best of all, after toasts and free flowing champagne and wine, was a short video the bride's brother put together.  Lots of photos of each throughout their childhood ... in so similar settings.  (of course, I started tearing up seeing them at birth!).  He found photos of them making the same silly faces.  Then fast forward to six years of dating.  I was blubbering at the end.  Luckily he shared it with my sister so we watched a few more times later in the week.

Monday, October 8, 2018


Now a little highlight of the most magical wedding I've ever attended.  It started with this:

Kim is an amazing watercolor (and other medium) artist and she designed and produced this Save the Date card. When I received my "Save the Date" for Kim and Isaac, I was awestruck. All the beauty, color and perfection. I knew she put a lot of meaning in there as well. So Janet asked her …

In Chinese culture, some of the images have really good meaning in general, but also specifically for marriage.
The urns have the character for double happiness on it - a Chinese symbol for marriage. Orange trees symbolize luck and prosperity, plums for love, and lotus blossoms for endurance and growth.
Isaac and I both love owls so I put them in! We also love turtles, moons, and anemone flowers! I put them in as well!
NOW you know the story behind the art!!!

After the longest travel day I can remember, I arrived at the Marlton Hotel.

The teeniest, tiniest hotel room ever.  Chosen because it is very close to my Sister's co-op in case they needed any help.  The room was 10x10 and had everything I needed and especially location, location, location.  Two blocks to Washington Square!

At least there was room for my humongous suitcase and my carry-on!  Here's the view from the front door

The bathroom door wouldn't even open the entire way.  The "closet" was an armoire at the foot of the bed.  And half of that was minibar, safe, etc.

The exorbitant price included breakfast and coffee.  I had avocado on toast with tomato slices and two perfectly hard boiled eggs and a wonderful kale salad with lemon.  Every day!  I need to make that at home.  So satisfying and lasted all morning.

I awoke to a text from my Sis asking if I could run an errand for her.  Since water to our block was OFF from 8:30 until 2:30, I had breakfast and hired an Uber to take me to the Jewish Museum about five miles from hotel.  UNfortunately, the UN was in session and traffic was ten times worse than you would expect.  My drive became a tour guide.  He took me along the East River (pointing out police boats with machine gun armed officers on deck) as well as lots of nannies wheeling prams and an equal number of dog walkers.  Luckily he waited for me and my 5 minute stop and he brought me home a different way, right through downtown Manhattan.  It was a fun way to help out even though the 10 mile round trip took two hours!

It's a bit more expensive to use Uber (or Lyft) than a taxi but it's a lot easier to get a ride.

Next ... the Rehearsal Dinner!

Friday, October 5, 2018


Last Wednesday I left Portland, Oregon to travel to New York City for my youngest nephew's wedding.

Luckily I had miles to spend instead of cash and splurged to go First Class.  I'm one of those people who plan ahead as far as possible, so I made reservations in March.  There were no nonstop flights but I was just happy that Alaska Air could get me there!   We were routed through Dallas with just one hour between connections, which makes me nervous because that is one big airport!  This would be one eventful trip.

In June Alaska emailed me to say there had been a schedule change ... now I had a FOUR HOUR layover and instead of arriving during daylight hours (5:00 pm) I would arrive at 9:34 pm.  Somehow it's just scarier doing the unknown in the dark. 

The trip started off on an odd note.  We had to walk outside for a block or two (it was covered and not raining), then up a switchback ramp.  I haven't not had a jet bridge since I flew on a private plane 25 years ago.  It was an unnerving way to begin my 7:00 am flight.

The plane was way smaller than I was expecting.  A commuter jet size holding just 56 people plus crew.  For the first time, the airline enforced it's rule on two pieces of carry on.  So many had to check their bag at the plane.  (Or maybe that was the fliers' goal ... free checked bag and first bags off?)   First class was one seat on one side and two seats on the other.  The carry-on storage on my side was too small to hold my suitcase but fortunately, there was room across the aisle. Luckily it was a smooth flight but gosh did I feel for the attendants.  Not much room to maneuver!  

It was not first class food or utensils.  No champagne or mimosa offered.  Clear plastic cups and plastic fork and knife.  I had to ask for a napkin.  Who would pay that extra $$$ to fly First Class?  After traveling Business Class several times with Mr. Ralph, this failed to fulfill my expectations.  

We got to Dallas whereupon I learned it was NOT the big Dallas Ft Worth airport but the Dallas Love Field.  Small.  And Alaska must be new to the airport as they had just a few gates.  We had to sit on our plane for 45 minutes waiting on one.  While waiting, the a/c system snowed on us everyone once in a while.

As my four hour wait was ending, Alaska announced a delay in departure.  One hour.  Then another.  Then another.  I went to Starbucks to drown my sorrows ... they were out of blueberry scones...when I got more indulgent and ordered a chocolate chip cookie ... they were also out.  By now I'm tired and crankier than normal.  Hmpphhhh.

Finally arrived at LaGuardia after midnight, cabbed into Manhattan (without being mugged or being a victim of SVU) and actually fit my two bags into my tiny palace and was asleep by 3:00 am local time.

Oh yeh.  The glamour of travel.