Sunday, June 27, 2010

Grandma and the Iron Curtin

A recent sibling weekend brought to mind how differently you remember your childhood. Those nearest and dearest are happy to burst your bubble, usually in front of your husband and children and recount those discrepancies with glee. Of course Mommy never broke curfew, why she even came home early so as not to worry her own dear parents. Underage drinking? She wouldn’t think of it, that would have just been so wrong.

When I was in 4th grade, my Aunt passed away suddenly. Overnight we went from a family of four to a family of eleven. My parents adopted my five cousins and brought in my grandparents for reinforcements. We moved into the biggest house in a nearby town with a small separate apartment. Grandma and Grandpa moved into the apartment and put the two littlest boys in the connecting dining room.

My folks were young adults in the sixties, let’s just say they had a pretty laid back approach to kids. The innocent grandparents never knew what hit them. As retired schoolteachers they expected us to use our indoor voices, never run in the house and clean our plates. We of course behaved like we were raised by wolves playing wild made up games involving danger. The favorite was Dark House, a warped game of hide and seek. You’d turn off every light in the house and wait to be found. Best hiding places, the top shelf of the linen closet, and the built in clothes hamper, that is if the seeker didn’t lose interest after the first hour. Those spaces seem impossibly small now, I have no idea how we squeezed in.

If we wanted to go over to the inner sanctum of their side we had to knock politely and wait to be invited in. We referred to this as going behind the Iron Curtin. We had to show our passports and our clean hands in order to cross the border. The little boys seemed impossibly polite and tidy, the five oldest looked like we’d been running wild in the neighborhood, playing in the creek and rolling in mud. Likely we had been. My grandparents had to protect them from those hooligans, hmmmm….I think they mean us. It goes to show it nurture versus nature. The boys have grown up into fine sensitive men, essentially ads for

Grandma baked fresh bread every week for the family. My parents didn’t do dessert, but the grandparents liked a little sweet after dinner.

Grandma’s Apple Crumble
Fill a shallow, buttered baking dish with thinly sliced apples. Blueberries, peaches are other fruit may be used instead. Sprinkle lightly with a tablespoon brown sugar mixed with a dash of cinnamon. Combine:
½ cup flour
½ cup sugar
½ quick oats uncooked
1/3 cup butter.

Mix until crumbly and spread over fruit. Bake at 350 degrees until apples are tender. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Blueberries, peaches are other fruit may be used instead.

But we know they loved us, admired our crummy art projects, came to our off key choral concerts, made sure we didn’t burn down the house when our parents were at work. Taught us that thank you notes and hard work will take you everywhere. So thank you Grandma and Grandpa for being just the way you are.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What's The Skinny

Now that I’m officially the parent of an adult I’ve begun to notice a very ugly body issue that can only be contained by high waisted jeans. In my head I still feel like the slim waif of decades past, so when I drift by a full length mirror I think, there must be a body pod around with my real self. With Sheldon off a college it was time to take matters into my own hands.

I’d never used the gym membership provided by my office, I didn’t want to sweat with the people I worked with but it was after all free. Who would I possibly see at 6 AM? Just Hitler’s girlfriend, Eva Braun, the resident personal trainer? Ve vell vork out this morning no? Um sure…..the first work left my arms dangling at my sides. I couldn’t raise my limbs to blow dry my bangs and had to resort to using the hand dryer leaving me with more of a Lassie look. Where’s that darn Timmy when you need him.

The following is a true accounting of our company quarter group hug. Just as I sat down with my free sub sandwich and a Dr. Pepper, Eva strolled past 80 people, walked right up to me and asked, “What are you drinking, if you swallow that I’m going to make you regret it.” Uh oh. Apparently Gyms R Us was showing the exercise benefits to the troops.

The problem with diet cookbooks is by the time you’ve added a few innocent things to make it stop tasting like cardboard it’s no longer low cal.

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil (so okay the original recipe called for cooking spray, off to a bad start already)
1 medium onion chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
2 stalks celery chopped
1 green pepper chopped (you could substitute yellow or red)
2/3 cup uncooked rice
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 pound Italian sausage cooked (are you seeing a substitute trend)
1 ½ cups cooked chicken
16 ounce stewed tomatoes
1 ½ cups frozen shrimp (that is of course if there is any left after the BP oil spill)
1 tablespoon jalapeƱo Tabasco sauce (it’s a bit more mild)

Cook onion, garlic, celery and pepper in olive oil until tender. Stir in remaining ingredients except for the shrimp. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Add frozen shrimp and cook additional 5 minutes or until rice is done. The joy of this meal is it cooks in a single oversized skillet. If you cook it without the sausage, in theory, it’s less than 300 calories.

I thought this past week she’d tortured me so much I was having a heart attack. I even went so far as to drive myself to the doctor when the chest pains didn’t back down after the diet lunch. After telling me I was putting on weight nicely for a woman my age, with a little giggle told me I’d just pulled a muscle in my chest. I’ve decided if my double A bra could be revised to a double D, my stomach would look flatter since they would stick out further. I’m thinking it would just be easier to get a boob job.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sangria and the Stand Up Comedienne

Statistics are still sucking, big time. Spent an amusing time with my main homies this weekend between reckless study sessions so once again, a repost based on my girls.

My girlfriends call me the funniest person they ever met. The question becomes is that a compliment or a criticism, you be the judge. Maybe it’s the because I was scarred as the middle child of seven with only an eight year difference from the youngest to oldest . Perhaps resulting in snappy one liners that make them scream with laughter so as not to be ignored. My parents, in addition to raising a tribe of comics, breed standard poodles, not those yappy future coyote bait pups, but the great big ones. The trouble with poodles is that if they do something funny and you laugh they will do it continually to the point it is no longer amusing, I am Fifi, hear me roar.

Periodically, the Big Tuna gets tired of my endless babbling and encourages me to have a Girls Weekend in order to wear out my sharp tongue. I went this past weekend to a cabin with the usual suspects, naturally Bebe, Lady Godiva who cuts all of our hair and the Sitter, who not only watched our children growing up, but now keeps us under control so we don’t run with scissors. The more we drink the more outrageous things spew out of my mouth. I keep thinking , this will be the thing that makes them gasp in horror, but it never happens. The only quiet they got from me was on the forced nature walk/death march and that was primarily to keep from tripping over a rock by not paying attention.

It all starts with an innocent glass of wine, but Sangria, oh so much smoother going down.

1 Bottle White Wine
½ Cup Peach Schnapps
2 Tablespoons Orange Liquor
2 Tablespoons Sugar
2 Cinnamon Sticks
1 Lemon Sliced
1 Orange Sliced
1 Peach Sliced
20 Ounces Club Soda
1 Tray Ice Cubes

You can substitute other fruit for the peach, I’ve used strawberries or even blueberries. Perfect drink on the deck overlooking the wilderness. A few glasses and we all got a bit giddy. I’d heard from Sheldon that if you take shots from above it makes you look thinner, standing on top of the deck railing taking downward shots is filled with its own peril. I also did a fine imitation of Helga, the yoga instructor, “you there, tall girl, have you never taken a yoga class before? Widen your flamingo legs and get closer to the floor”.

Just remember, “What happens at girl’s camp stays at girl’s camp”. That is of course until I post it on my blog.