Saturday Smile: Vroom

My brand shiny new Kitchenaid Pro 600 (vroom, vroom) arrived yesterday in one piece. It arrived too late for me to make anything yummy with it, but today is another day…..

The mixer’s arrival made me smile, but not as much as the safe arrival of my brother and his wife last night. They will stay until Tuesday.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Book Whimsy: The Lions of Fifth Avenue

I love to learn things while reading an enjoyable novel. I have learned more about some of the landmarks of New York City from author Fiona Davis than I would have if I had read a history book on the magnificent city. Did you know, for example, that there was once an art school in Grand Central Station? I learned that in The Masterpiece, by the same author. Did you know that cattle used to graze outside of the Dakota Apartments, home to many famous people? You would if you had read The Address.

I certainly had no idea that there was once an apartment inside the enormous New York City Public Library where the superintendent of the library could reside with the family. The apartment still exists, in fact, though it is apparently no longer used as an apartment.

NYC’s main library is located on Fifth Avenue and guarded by the famous sculpted lions. In 1913, Laura Lyons and her family move to New York City from their quiet home in the country where her husband is the superintendent. His job allows them to live in the apartment hidden deep within the library. It’s a big change for the family, but not as big as the one that Laura seeks. She dreams of attending the Columbia School of Journalism and becoming a journalist.

With the help of family and friends, she manages to come up with the money for the year-long program. She not only learns how to investigate and write a story, she learns that there are women who have so much more freedom than she ever has. Laura gets caught up in the excitement, and it changes her life — and the lives of her family — immensely.

At the same time, some priceless books and manuscripts go missing, and everything points to her husband being the culprit. Laura knows this can’t be true, but is too caught up in her new life to take it as seriously as she might.

In the back-and-forth style so popular these days, the author also introduces us to Laura’s granddaughter Sadie, who is also a librarian at the same library in 1993. Ironically, she must also deal with books and manuscripts that are going missing, and she is a prime suspect. While trying to figure out what’s going on, she learns that a similar thing happened to her grandfather. Could the two things be related?

I will admit that this was not my favorite of Fiona Davis’ novels. That prize goes to The Chelsea Girls, a novel about the McCarthy hearings. But as a lover of books, and a HUGE fan of libraries, I found the book references interesting, and the clear love of literature shown by the main characters heart-warming.

Part mystery, part romance, part women’s fiction, The Lions of Fifth Avenue makes for a decent read.

Here is a link to the book.


Thursday Thoughts

Beating the Price
I got up yesterday morning, and checked to see if my new Kitchenaid Pro 600 mixer had been shipped yet. No sign that it was making its way towards me. I was curious, however, to see if the bowl was as big or bigger than that of my existing bowl, so I went online to check. To my surprise, the mixer — the very same one — was on sale at Crate & Barrel — the very place from which I purchased mine — for $150 less. Yikes. As soon as the stores opened, I called our local Crate & Barrel, and they told me that yes, indeed, it was on sale, but sorry, no, we can’t help you. You have to contact the online folks. She gave me the phone number. I called the number, made my selection of the area to which I wanted to be forwarded, and waited. And waited and waited and waited. A full 30 minutes on hold. Finally, I did what the recorded voice kept begging me to do: I left a text message. Some hours later, I got a response. The situation was handled without a problem. The difference was refunded onto my credit card within 15 minutes. And I’m supposed to get my mixer tomorrow. Oy vey. Such a lot of angst over an appliance.

Meanwhile, Back on the Farm 
Bill likes a good challenge. So while I was dealing with the folks at Crate & Barrel, he began taking apart my Old Faithful Kitchenaid. Within an hour, he had figured out what was wrong, found a place to buy the part, and had ordered the part. When it arrives, he will undoubtedly fix it, making it worth more on the selling market. And yes, I will break down and clean it….

An old high school friend of mine commented on my blog yesterday in support of Kitchenaid mixers. He then mentioned that he was on a quest to learn how to make a good kolache. Now, my dad didn’t make kolaches because they are part of the Czech and Polish cultures and not German. But, I happen to have the recipe from the housekeeper of one of my high school friends, and she made a mean kolache. I remember asking her for the recipe around the time I left for college. She looked at me, very puzzled, and told me she didn’t have a recipe. She learned it from her mom who learned it from her mom, and made it from memory. She did, however, write down a recipe for me, and I shared it with my other friend. Now I’m determined to make that one of the first things using my new mixer. And I wish him luck!

Egging Me On 
We go through a fair number of eggs. My favorite eggs are from Whole Foods. However, most of the time I buy King Soopers eggs because that’s where I mostly shop. I always buy large brown eggs. I know there is no difference in taste between brown and white eggs, but I just think they are so pretty. Yesterday I decided to make a poached egg for breakfast. I opened the box of eggs, and was surprised to see that out of the six or so eggs that remained, one was considerably larger than the rest. I chose that large egg, and it was delicious. I don’t know if an extra large egg snuck into the egg carton, and I don’t care. I enjoyed my poached egg…..

Yesterday was my mother’s birthday. She would have been 94. It’s hard to believe that she has been in heaven for nearly 25 years. Happy birthday in heaven Mom!…..


Took a Beating

I love to bake. It might be in my veins since my dad was a professional baker. It’s certainly in my brother’s veins, since he followed in Dad’s footsteps.

During this COVID situation, while others were busily making fancy gourmet meals, I was throwing a chicken thigh on the grill and opening a bag of salad for dinner. But I could often offer Bill a yummy sweet baked treat for afterwards. And since he could live on sweets, he was a happy recipient. You’ve heard of the Freshman 15? We had our COVID 10. Well, to be honest, I had my COVID 10. Since Bill never stops moving, he burns more calories. I have learned the sadly, you can’t get in shape by simply watching exercise videos on your iPad.

Because I love to bake, my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer is my very favorite appliance. Dishwasher is a very close second. Shortly after we got married, Bill gave me my Kitchenaid for Christmas. It is not one of those that are cheerily colorful. It is white. It gets used nearly every day. Well, it DID get used nearly every single day. Last week, it threw in the flag.

About a year-and-a-half ago, the problem began. The mixer I have in Denver is a lift stand as opposed to a tilt stand (which is like the one I have in AZ). Lift stands are supposed to be sturdier, and indeed, this one worked like the devil. But then the lift started not working. The Kitchenaid would be mixing my batter and suddenly the lift would give up and the bowl would crash down. I figured out that if I gave the lift handle a little extra oomph when I hitched up the bowl, it would hold it most of the time. Last week, however, I gave it the little boost, and it never caught. Suddenly I was rotating the handle like the steering wheel on a tractor!

Kitchenaid stand mixers are supposedly built to last forever. I know people who inherited them from their grandmothers. When a part breaks, you buy a new part and repair it. But as I began thinking about figuring out the part, trying to find a place that repairs mixers, carrying the extremely heavy and unwieldy mixer to the car and then to the repair shop and then back to the car and then into my home a month or so later, I made a quick decision. I ordered a new Kitchenaid stand mixer. Mine was dirty anyway. (Oh, just kidding. Well, not about it being dirty, but about getting rid of it for being dirty.) Farewell my friend. You were a hard-working companion…..

And if was going to get a new Kitchenaid, I was going to go big or go home; hence, the Kitchenaid Pro 600. In my defense, I could have gone bigger. But the Pro 600 was recommended by Consumer Reports for the average person who likes to bake. That’s me.

Now I just have to sit back and wait until it arrives. If the little boy in The Music Man could wait for the Wells Fargo wagon, I can wait for Crate and Barrel to send me my brand spanking new mixer.

In the meantime, Bill is making noises about trying to fix my old mixer so we can sell it on Ebay. Best of luck. But it’s still dirty.

Two Brains

From the first time that my parents met Bill, my mother always said, “That man is a genius.” She called him a genius until the day she died. She was not speaking in generalities; she truly believed him to be a genius.

Bill is a very smart man. I have no idea whether or not he’s a genius because I don’t know his IQ. What I do know, however, is that he is a quick thinker, patient, calm, can quickly analyze a situation, and can figure out how to do just about anything if you give him time. Nowadays, Google helps.

I, on the other hand, am decidedly NOT a genius. In fact, I had to look up how spell the word GENIUS, because spellcheck kept telling me — quite correctly — that GENIOUS was incorrect. I would be embarrassed to tell you how many times I retyped the word incorrectly because I was so sure I was spelling it right. I am impatient, scatterbrained, and whatever word is the polar opposite of calm. And while I can analyze a situation if given enough time, I am not especially good at thinking on my feet. I do, however, have a pretty good memory. Ask me, for example, the words to any song from the 1960s. Or my childhood telephone number or that of my friend’s. I remember all of the birthdays in our family. I am a good speller (except for GENIOUS genius). I can balance a checkbook and manage pretty well on a computer.

I have told Bill said these words many times in our married life: Between the two of us, we have one good working brain. As we age, that becomes more and more #TRUTH.

On somewhat of an impulse, Bill and I combined our brain power and decided to drive to Fort Collins on Sunday to cook a birthday dinner for my sister Jen and my nephew BJ. We had a wonderful time. Bill even got the chance to play golf with BJ, where — shockingly — he made a friend. Bill makes friends wherever he goes. His new friends don’t always have Parkinson’s but this friend did. Small world.

Anyhoo, we left yesterday morning after Jen went to a doctor’s appointment. We gathered up our things and took off for Denver around10:30. We decided to take a slower, but much calmer and considerably more scenic route than I-25. We had driven for about 45 minutes, when Bill’s phone rang. It was Jen. She told him that I had forgotten my purse. You know, my purse in which I have my billfold with all of my credit cards and my drivers’ license, and my cell phone.

As we sped down the highway, Bill and I began troubleshooting our options. We could ask her to take 45 minutes out of her work day to drive to FedEx with my purse and have it overnighted to me. Not only would that put a burden on her, it would cost in the neighborhood of a hundred bucks. Or I could try to live without my purse until Saturday when she was coming to Denver to see our brother. I probably could live without my billfold, BUT MY PHONE??? Or I could turn around and head back.

We chose option 3. What the heck? We’re retired.

We turned left and headed to the very route we had tried to avoid: I-25. As we drove, I told Bill that he could choose a place to have lunch since he was being so patient and, well, calm. He chose Jim’s Wings, a Fort Collins family favorite……

We enjoyed our lunch, and headed for home.

As we neared Denver, he said to me, “Why don’t we stop at Home Depot so I can pick up blabbity blabbity blabbity blah?” (He actually said words, but my brain stops paying attention as soon as I know hardware is involved.) “We can also stop at Duluth Trading to buy me some pants.” We took what he thought was the correct exit, only it wasn’t. He agreed to go to Home Depot later. We found a frontage road and drove back about three miles to Duluth Trading, where he found his pants (after much sorting through the ten trillion men’s pants they have).

And then we spotted Home Depot. Again, remembering his patience, I drove to the HD parking lot. He ran in and got some more blabbity blabbity blahs.. And then we got confused coming out of the parking lot. I figured it out. That was when I reminded him for the 3000th time that between the two of us, we have one brain. 

As we drove past downtown, I said to Bill, “Dang, we’re going to drive right past Mile High Stadium. The Broncos play tonight. We’re going to be stuck in traffic.” Bill answered, “We’ll only run into traffic if paper cutouts drive cars.” Oh, right. COVID. Well, he’s the genius, not me.

Forgive and Forget

I think a lot about forgiveness.

When I think about forgiveness, I realize that I’m blessed to have almost no one to forgive. At least for big things. I’m human, so there are, of course, a couple with whom I struggle. But for the most part, I have been pretty lucky in my life when it comes to relationships.

Most people are good.

I will admit, however, that I get short-tempered every single day. Particularly, I’m afraid, when I’m driving. Denver drivers test one’s patience. They drive fast and selfishly. They zig and then they zag. They run red lights. (Pet peeve ahead!) When merging, they whiz past everyone else until they get to the point where they must merge.

Who do they think they are?

So, as I was thinking once again about forgiveness, and patting myself on the back for being so near perfect that the need for forgiveness practically eludes me, it occurred to me that part of forgiveness is remembering that we don’t know a thing about the person in the car speeding past me.

Chances are, they are just self-absorbed pains in the butt. But perhaps that man who honks at me when I don’t hit the gas at the exact moment the light turns green just heard that his mother had a stroke and he is trying to get to the hospital. Or maybe the person who speeds past me going 55 in a 30 mph zone is taking his/her wife or sister or best friend to the hospital because she is in labor. It could happen. My niece went into labor with her fourth child and it went so quickly that my nephew barely made it to the hospital in time. He was driving near 100 mph in his effort to allow baby Faith to fall into the hands of a doctor instead of the floor of the car.

What I realize is that forgiveness isn’t just for big things. I should practice forgiveness towards everyone. As I brother always says: Don’t judge until you’ve walked a mile in their moccasins. And not judging is, well, a little bit like forgiving. Not just seven times, but seventy times seven.

Saturday Smile: I’m Freeeeeee!

Exactly two weeks ago today, Bill came downstairs in the morning as usual. He sat down in his usual chair. He poured himself a cup of coffee. Then he looked at me and said, “I’m done.”

“Okay,” I replied. “But….done with what?”

“With the study,” he said. “I’m finished participating in the study.”

Friends and followers of this blog know that Bill has Parkinson’s Disease. Two years ago, he agreed to participate in a research study in which the primary medication used for PD — Carbidopa-Levidopa — would be pumped into his body for the entire time that he is awake. The goal was to determine whether having constant access to this medication would even out a person with Parkinson’s on and off periods.

The study involved him being hooked up to the pump every single day. This meant sticking two small needles into his body — primarily his legs — each day, and connecting the pump to the canula. Every day, he bravely sat as I got him connected to the pump.

The result was that he was perhaps a bit more even; however, another result is that both of his legs are covered with bruises and bumps. He also believed he was losing strength in those legs. Apparently, he had reached his limit. Early on, he said he didn’t believe the process was sustainable, but he stuck it out (no pun intended) for a full two years.

Thursday we had an appointment with his entire research and medical team. I am so happy to say that after they did their examination, they proclaimed that he seemed to be doing fine without the pump, much to their surprise. That was exceptional news.

In fact, the only change his team made to his regular oral medication was adding an extended release C/L tablet during the night should he get up to use the restroom.

My husband continues to amaze me. And now he no longer contends with that damn contraption!

Have a great weekend.

Friday Book Whimsy: Her Last Flight

I love author Beatriz Williams’ books. Most of them feature the Schuyler family, or some subset of that family. It’s fun to follow their paths. While I was fully aware that Her Last Flight would have nothing to do with the Schuyler family, being a fan of historical fiction, I looked forward to reading the author’s newest novel.

While not really historical fiction, the story is loosely related to that of Amelia Earhart’s and her famed last doomed flight. In this novel, it is 1947, and photojournalist Janey Everett arrives in Hawaii after having learned of the location of Irene Foster, the famous woman aviator who was believed lost in her final flight. Irene first denies being the famous aviator, but once Everett tells her that she has confirmed the death of Foster’s beloved friend and lover Sam Mallory, Foster comes clean.

Everett purports to be writing a novel about Mallory, who was believed killed in a Spanish Civil War battle in the late 1930s. Using journalistic skills and perseverance, little by little, Everett learns the truth about Irene, her husband George Morrow, and the man she loved above all others, Sam Mallory. In the process, readers enjoy twists and turns that confuse and delight.

I love Williams’ writing. It is direct, funny, and keeps readers on their toes. The story provided an interesting look at the early days of aviation, and how women developed their own role in the process.

Her Last Flight is one of my favorite Williams’ novels to date.

Here is a link to the book.


Thursday Thoughts

September Surprise
We survived cold weather the past few days. In Denver, we got very little snow, but some nice rain which we desperately needed. Our neighborhood was absolutely silent during the cold front. No one was walking their dogs. There were no children riding their bikes to school. Cars were nowhere to be seen. It was quite eerie. Today will be in the 50s, and I hope it brings folks out of their houses so I can stop feeling like I live in a horror movie.

No Longer Puzzled
Last Thursday I expressed my frustration about the fact that I had completed a puzzle that ended up with one piece missing. Yesterday I ran Rosie the Roomba, and when she was done, I opened her up to empty her contents. Buried deep inside of her I spotted something besides simple dirt. Voila! The puzzle piece.

Off to School
Our last set of grandkids — Joseph and Micah — headed off to school in Vermont this week. Joseph will be in sixth grade and Micah will be in third grade. They will be actually going to a carefully controlled classroom…..

Mylee FaceTimed me yesterday. We chatted for a bit, and I asked her how school was going. (She’s going to live classroom each day.) “We aren’t  doing anything fun,” she said sadly. She listed all the traditional activities for fifth graders that aren’t being done this year because of COVID. The one that seemed to bother her most was the absence of the program in which fifth graders become “buddies” with kindergartners. “I’ve looked forward to being a buddy since I was in kindergarten,” she said. “Maybe you will be able to do it second semester,” I told her. Unfortunately, I bet not.


Hot and Cold

They told us it was coming, but it was still a very strange way to spend Labor Day. There we were, wearing summer attire as we covered plants to protect them from the elements. Not the heat; the cold.

The weather in Colorado has been exceedingly hot over the past weeks. Sunday the temperature in Denver reached over 100 degrees. It cooled down to 95 degrees on Labor Day Monday. The trees haven’t even starting changing colors. School just started. Winter was in a galaxy far, far away.

Except it wasn’t. Because the weather folks told us that sometime during the night on Monday, the temperature was going to drop faster than the coyote’s anvil on the Roadrunner cartoons. While the high reached 95 on Monday, on Tuesday, the high was 36 degrees when I jumped out of bed at 6:30, and continued to drop throughout the day.

It rained in our part of Denver for most of the day, but it changed to snow about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. It stuck to the grass, but the sidewalks were still hot from the 90-some degree temperature of the day before, and so the snowflakes melted as soon as the touched the concrete.

This weather pattern, of course, isn’t terribly unusual. I can’t blame it on 2020, though it being a catastrophic year doesn’t help. In fact, last year in October or November, the weather did the same thing. It happened a year or so before that as well. I know, because when the temperature drops so quickly and to such a degree, the bushes in front of our house get very unhappy. They’re fine if the temperatures drop gradually as they are supposed to, but the Big Drop is a killer.

This spring when we arrived home from AZ, our bushes looked dead dead dead. I gave them no hope. Bill, of course, was a bit more optimistic. Even he, however, began talking about pulling them out and replacing them with something less persnickety. Like the juniper bushes that we pulled out years ago. Nope, I said. Never go backwards.

Our daughter-in-law Jll was the one who said we should be patient. “They’re not such bad little trees,” she said in her best Linus impression. And she was right. It took patience and tender loving care, but they came back strong.

And now, once again, we were facing the Big Drop. So we were out in the 95 degree temperature putting blankets over our trees on Monday. We look like hillbillies…..

…but our hope is that the trees are saved.

We weren’t the only ones covering plants in 95 degree weather. Most of our neighbors had a few plants covered. I was happy to say goodbye to my tomato plants, which, while still giving me tomatoes, was looking very sad. I put my herb pot in the garage.

The neighborhood was deadly quiet yesterday. No dog walkers. No cars driving by. I guess people were busy braising dinner in their ovens and getting ready to take their long winter’s nap.

By the end of next weekend, the temperature will be in the mid-80s.