Archive for the ‘Real Life’ Category

I flipped a chocolate chip cookie on the floor tonight.  Blew it off, but then caution or good sense guided me to the trash can where my cookie now lies in repose.  I would like to say my decision was made after careful deliberation for my health and not the fact that I had at least twelve dozen more readily available to me.  The outcome may have been different if it was ― you know what I’m going to tell you…my very last cookie.

A minute later I flipped an entire glob of my favorite, black cherry, jello on the floor – the same spot, I swear.  I said aloud and with more than a little solemnity, “Five second rule?”  Seriously?  For jello?  But, in my defense, the cookie was flat; the jello was globular, ergo a large portion of it was not really touching anything but air.  Is air near the floor dirtier than air at head level?  I’d never had a need to consider this question in all my years of inquisitiveness, and I really would like to know.  I may have to thank God tonight in my prayers for making us bipeds.

Back to the jello, my dilemma was figuring out a way to remove the good jello on top from the bad, germy jello on the bottom.  It is quite squiggly, as you are aware.  Where is an engineer when you need one.  I sighed and gave it up to the garbage disposal.  I had one more serving in the bowl so my ordeal was survivable, albeit much more dire than the cookie situation.

I don’t know about you, but when I get like this, I watch my food extremely closely for the next few hours.  I become obsessively nervous if I am moving about with food in my hands, and my eyes do not waiver from it.  I could trip over the cat or walk into furniture but the edibles will have my full attention.  Transporting soup really freaks me out.



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Santa Claus

It’s time again for my annual reminder to check out http://www.northpole.com

This site is pure magic for little kids and everyone.  All kinds of activities, stories, and games to delight all ages.  Recipes from Mrs. Claus’s kitchen for moms and dads.  Toys and gift ideas, crafts, write to Santa, visit Santa’s reindeer, watch NORAD track Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.  Your little ones will be entertained for hours.

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To many of you, this is a lesson already learned.  The results can be volatile.  We had had our share of conflicts at the table in prior years, but then my mother unwittingly invited two additional liberals which shifted the delicate balance of power.

My aunt had barely finished a lovely grace when it began.  I don’t know who started it, but within five minutes it had escalated to a level of vitriol previously unseen at our holiday repast.  Surprisingly, I stayed out of it which is so unlike me.  I believe I was in awe of the other participants and their enthusiasm.

My mother gently chided everyone at first, which went completely ignored by the entire group.  It was free entertainment to me…like a staged production for which you pay money for dinner and a show.  I prefer musicals, but this was pretty good in its stead.

There was no distracting anyone.  They were heavily invested in their tirades and their completely accurate opinions.  Over the din, as she held the gravy hostage, my mother screamed, “Will you all just shut up and stop talking about politics?”  Finally, in deference to her, my uncle was the first to rise and leave the table, leaving his dinner half eaten.  The exodus quickly continued, lest he be seen as the only one with any bit of manners.  The Republicans departed for the front porch and the Dems to the deck out back.  A good deal of chain smoking was going on, as this was when smokes were still popular.

My mother’s lovely table was half empty…I continued eating.  My mother was an amazing cook.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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“Don’t spray that crap on me again. It stinks, and I’m tired of licking it off.”

“Are you awake? I’m awake. Are you getting up soon? I’m starving and I want to eat three little pieces of food.”

“Watch out. Someone vomited in the dining room. It wasn’t me.”

“Why can’t I lay on you? You let the other girls lay on you. What? I weigh seventeen pounds? Well, whose fault is that?”

“I’m very bored. Play with me.”

“I told you I liked Quaker Cheddar Rice Cakes. Why can’t you ever believe me when I tell you things?”

“I have a headache and need a nap. Don’t try to find me.”

“You’re going out again? You just came home!”

“Turn on the shower for me. And warm it up please.”

“We want to look out the big front window, and you have filled it up with plants. What is wrong with you?”

“Remember that time a bird flew into the house?”

“The neighbor’s cat visited again today. She ate one of your little voles in the backyard. I don’t like her.”

“I know I liked these treats yesterday, but now I don’t.”

“When did I ever tell you I wanted another cat?”

“I stare at unseen objects because I have special vision, and, no, I’m not telling you what is up there.”

“If you try to trim my claws, I will twist myself up like a pretzel. You know I can do it.”

“I would not have run if you hadn’t chased me.”

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Pen Shell on the beach at Sanibel – a beautiful heart for you.


When friends suggested I follow them to Florida in April, I accepted without hesitation.  We were driving to Jacksonville, where we would separate and each go in different directions.  They were attending a wedding in Orlando and I had many friends to visit.  It was an excellent plan.

Preferring night driving, we left at midnight.  At 2:00 am, we made a stop for gas.  I left my car and found myself facing a gas hose that was twisted like some demonically coiled snake – a pet peeve of mine.  After returning the hose to its proper and usable condition and beginning to fill my tank, I then fell over said hose and landed on a concrete curb.  Although I drove the next hour sitting on an ice pack, the result was a 8″x5″ black and blue mark on my sensitive derriere.  I wondered if my bathing suit was going to cover it.

My friends then took some unfathomable remote short-cut? and I wondered if we were about to relive some sort of Deliverance scenario.  Grabbing my cell to inquire if they really meant to take us into some deep, dark netherworld of menacing forested mountains with a plethora of nocturnal wildlife:  Surprise – no cell service.  We crawled along for the next hour to avoid ten (that I counted) herds of deer, and swerved to avoid two skunks locked in a romantic interlude in the middle of the road. The only other thing I remember passing were small cemeteries, which seemed ominous. Upon our return to civilization, I was relieved to learn this was not the way they usually drove to Florida.  It was the only time I have ever made myself carsick while driving.

Things I Learned:

~ In the south, there are businesses that specialize in fire ant control, which momentarily made me question my destination.

~ People hitchhike…with their pitbulls.

~ There are armadillos who rejoice in their ability to rut and destroy manicured lawns.  I am aware of one who met his demise via a golf club by a fellow who preferred his lawn the way he paid for it.

~ You should never put sea shells in your swim suit unless you are positive the original occupant has vacated.  My shell bag was full when I began doing this.  Soon after, I felt and saw something that was black and looked like a giant leech attempting to extricate itself and its shell from my bra.  This is not a creature you want to see traversing your boob.  It was a Fighting Atlantic Conch, and I expeditiously returned him to his underwater world where he belonged.

~ There is an east-west route across Florida called the Florida Cracker Trail.  I was driving late one night, looked at my GPS and discovered my route identified as such.  Being a Yankee, I was slightly disturbed by this and researched it.  After the Civil War, northerners called the people who inhabited this land Florida Crackers and the route was commonly used for horses and livestock.  There is actually a Florida Cracker Trail Association that vows to keep history alive and sponsors an annual horseback ride across this very old trail.

~ The south still has the best grits in the world.  I love them with butter, but I learned many southerners prefer them with gravy. Why can’t my local Perkins serve me grits???

~ White egrets will become extremely tame and daily visitors if you hand feed them raw shrimp from the grocery store…if you have nothing else to do with your cash.


My friends’ friend, Penny, who has a voracious appetite for shrimp.

~ I learned you should never feed these guys…


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Hello My Friends…

It’s been over a month and although you may not have missed me (much), I missed you.  I have been quite busy – mostly being sick.

There is this nasty thing going around which goes by a number of names:  Norwalk Virus; Norovirus; Cruise Ship Virus.  It’s a little like the flu only it can last weeks.  I ended up in the hospital for four days for extreme dehydration.  There is no vaccine for this, although I’m told they are trying to create one, and it is highly contagious.  Before anyone knew what I had, I gifted it to my daughter and she, in turn, shared it with her roommate.  They didn’t thank me.

Although it most often is passed via sick food service people, the virus stays alive for a time on almost any surface.  I had eaten out twice about two days before I got sick.

I hope you will all stay away from anyone who is sick, and, when you do eat out, avoid salads and any uncooked foods if this virus is going around your area.  I had a chef’s salad which I believe was my undoing.  Wash hands thoroughly with soap, although my doctor told me this is no guarantee you won’t contract this.  He also told me anti-bacterial hand cleaners won’t help.

So, just FYI, take care of yourselves.

Now…I have more posts to come.

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For the past few months, I have been ripping through my house on a mission to rid myself of accumulated junk, or as I think of these things – priceless treasures.

I am a collector, but sometimes not a discerning one. This becomes problematic when you begin to feel crowded in a 2,700 square foot house.

One of my weaknesses is books, and particularly, cookbooks. Even though I can find millions of recipes online, I still buy them. When I added on to my laundry room a few years ago, I built floor to ceiling bookcases for these. These shelves quickly overflowed to additional shelves in the nearby pantry, the shelf above my washer/dryer, and the top of the dryer. The washer is a top-loader, thus was off -limits (most of the time).

The fact that I only ever use about ten percent of these culinary tomes did nothing to advance my thinking that I have an excess. When I had to move a pile to turn on my dryer this week, this pushed me over the edge. All four hundred or so cookbooks have now been personally touched by me, reviewed, rearranged and relegated to a box or a new location. Oh, and dusted (cough, cough).

All surfaces not designed for books are now book-free, and I have six full boxes in the garage to donate to the library book sale. I will admit there are still about three dozen cookbooks in a state of limbo (on top of the washer so they don’t become too comfortable there). I intermittently pick them up and peruse them, attempting to make a final determination as to their disposition.

I’m certain, in my remaining three hundred books, I have recipes for every conceivable comestible known to man. I’m aware that, should I find a deficiency, the world wide web can help me. This is my irrational fear:  In the event of a terrorist attack on Gettysburg, the zombie apocalypse (which my friends and I have a plan for), or a simple power outage, the internet will likely be unavailable to me. I may need to know how to kill and gut the squirrels in the yard, and cook them up into a delectable and savory treat. There are deer in my neighborhood.  I may need to locate a recipe for Venison Cheese Chowder or Venison Loins In Bear Swamp Marinade (which has nothing bearish or swampish in it). Thus I had to keep my copy of the North American Hunting Club Wild Game Cookbook and also Wild Game Cooking.  I have given much less consideration as to how I would obtain this wild game I imagine needing to prepare.

Of course, it nearly goes without saying, I had to keep my books on foraging and how to prepare a myriad of plants, nuts, tubers and fungi readily available in my yard. I did sacrifice a book on soufflés to the donate box, but just now I’m thinking I could undoubtedly make one with dandelions and sorrel.

It was easy to get rid of Microwave Cooking because, without power, what good is that? I kept all my bread and cookie cookbooks. I have a wood-burning fireplace, and I’m fairly sure I can improvise a way to bake in an emergency.

Do I feel better now that my laundry room/pantry is tidied up? Yes, but I have to get past these pangs of withdrawal gnawing at me. I do still have voluminous files of additional recipes I have cut and clipped from all kinds of print media over the years. Baby steps.


My initial motivation was a web posting about de-cluttering called 40 Bags In 40 Days. http://www.whitehouseblackshutters.com/40-bags-in-40-days-2014/.  I did this last spring and it makes you feel great. Check out this site…there is a printable chart for you to track your days.

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Elan Mudrow



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