Thursday, September 29, 2005

have been really busy getting ready for Gina's fortieth birthday party on Saturday night. We had an assembly line making meatballs last night and that was a lot of fun. Tom Bullock stopped by and helped empty a few bottles of wine along with Tom Bags, Catherine, Jo and Lynne. I enjoyed it. Today Lynne came by and I made a vat of gravy. It's simmering right now and it smellls outrageously good.

My aunt Rita died on Saturday night and tomorrow is her funeral. I feel like all I do lately is attend funerals. It's spooky.

I had a great lunch with one of my favorite Munich people, Lisa Bartmann, who has relocated back to South Jersey with her husband and family. She's a lot of fun, easy to talk to and we spent a few hours just catching up and laughing. I am hoping to see a lot more of her. We would love to see them move to Haddonfield, but I'm not so sure they are leaning in that direction! In any case, it's nice to have folks around who shared the Munich experience.

Chris has been in D.C. all week and I really miss him. How we survived that first year when we were having a long distance relationship is beyond me. Now I miss him after a day or two. I'll be happy to see him tomorrow and I am fairly sure his traveling schedule will be lighter next week.

News Flash: Chris is now a fully licensed New Jersey driver! Wahey!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

6:30 a.m. Haddonfield and the small town is coming to life with walkers, runners, people on bikes and dogs. Everyone smiles or says hello which is something I missed terribly in Munich where there wasn't much casual interaction between folks on the street. Europeans love to smugly say how phony Americans are, always asking "How are you?" or telling someone to have "a good day" without caring about the response. Who knows, maybe it is fake, but I am as happy as hell to back in this little town and smiling at people!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Tuesday Ten

10 Great Love Songs

There are a ton out there, but here's a few that come to no particular order.

1) "A Case of You" - Joni Mitchell - I have loved this song since the day I heard it when I was. Joni's a goddess in my book.
2) "Building a Mystery" - Sarah McLauchlan - this song meant a lot to me a long time ago when I was in love with someone else and I think of him every time I hear it, mystery that he was.
3) "Yellow" - Coldplay
4) "With or Without You" - U2 - a great, great song
5) "Romeo and Juliet" - Dire Straits, one of the best songs EVER, by ANYONE, of ANY TYPE!
6) "Everything's Different Now" - Til Tuesday - This is how I feel about Chris.
7) "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of" - Carly Simon, beautiful and real.
8) "Nothing Compares 2U" - Prince wrote it, but Sinead O'Connor's version is my favorite and the entire CD of "I Do Not Want What I Have Not Got" was in my changer for about six months straight once.
9) "Marble Halls" - a old and beautifuyl song written by Michael Balfe for an opera called The Bohemian Girl, in 1843, but the version I absolutely adore was done by Enya and is featured in one of my favorite movies ever, The Age of Innocence.
10) "One" - U2 - makes me cry, reminds me of the same guy from item 2 in this list. Thank heaven he's in the past, love doesn't need to be torture!
We had a fairly enjoyable weekend. Friday night was nice because we went to a movie, The Constant Gardener, which was fairly good and out for a few drinks and a sandwich at Cork, which was extremely good. Cork got a shitty review in the Philadelphia Inquirer, but I like it. I think the food is great and the atmosphere quite nice. It needs some more life, but I really think it has great potential.

Saturday morning was Marilyn's mass and memorial service which was packed to the gills. Everyone loved Marilyn and it was nice to see so many people come out for such a beautiful event. I cried my eyes out and laughed out loud at parts. There was a part at the end in which they played songs and flashed huge photographs of Marilyn throughout her life. I was honored that one of them was with me. It made me cry. But it was lovely. It still seems so unreal to me. She was fine when I left for Germany, kicking up her heels at my goodbye party, and now she's gone after such intense suffering. As it said in the memorial booklet, she's dancing somewhere!

Saturday night we went out with Gina and John for some Indian and I got dead drunk like I haven't been in ages. I have no idea why it hit me so hard. Yuk. I do not like feeling that way.

Sunday was good too. Chris went off to watch the Eagles game with John MacMinn and Jo and I did errands and made a nice meal of steak, Mirai corn ad tomato salad. Mmmmm....

Now Chris is in DC. I am going over to Mary Margaret's to divide some of her perennials. She's extremely generous and letting me take some. I like her. We're quite different, but she's a doll and a real quality person!

Friday, September 16, 2005

7 Things...

7 Things That keep me going

1. Chris
2. My Family
3. My Friends
4. Henry
5. Chris
6. My Family
7. Henry

7 Things That Scare Me

1. Death of loved ones
2. Loss of health
3. Poverty in old age
4. Flying, but I am getting over this
5. Spiders
6. Fires
7. My own dark moods

7 Things I Like Most

1. Spending time with Chris and Henry in our home
2. Having a meal with my family and Chris at my Mom's house
3. Cooking for the people I love
4. Having some solitary time
5. Going to new places and sharing them with Chris
6. Reading
7. Having coffee most mornings with the same folks I've had coffee with for years

7 Important Things in My Room

1. Chris
2. Henry
3. An awesome mattress
4. Books
5. Angel perfume
6. Some nice photographs
7. Chris

7 Random Facts About Me

1. I get in blue funks
2. I am struggling with aging, but working on it
3. I can be a lot of fun
4. I have legions of friends
5. I love soap operas
6. My idea of heaven is Chris, Henry, a cup of coffee and the Sunday papers
7. I love making food and sharing it with my loved ones

7 Things I Plan To Do Before I Die

1. Try to make amends for the wrongs I have committed
2. Take another safari
3. Learn to cook a real Hyderabadi biryani
4. Have an amazing garden
5. Help rid our country of right wing extremists
6. Get married
7. Finish knitting Justine's poncho

7 Things I Can Do

1. Make people laugh
2. Knit
3. Cook
4. Forgive
5. Feel real empathy
6. Read a complicated knitting pattern
7. Love

7 Thing I Can't Do

1. Drive in the UK
2. Go to bed angry
3. Anything with my left hand
4. Lie convincingly so I have given up on it altogether
5. Paint a wall
6. Sing
7. Drink like Hollow Leg Peg in her heyday

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

One of the blogs which I read regularly, Yellow Snapdragons, poses the following question:

“Where would you be, or what would you be doing right now, or how would your life be different if you had had the perfect childhood?”

I didn’t have the perfect childhood, but I had a very good childhood, felt loved and secure and knew that my parents loved and respected each other, which was a huge gift to us, a sort of primer on how to have a healthy relationship. Thank you Mommy and Daddy. I’m happy where I am and feel that every step I have taken in my life has led me to this moment. That I am able to feel this way is remarkable to me. No doubt, I have taken the circuitous route to this time of real happiness and satisfaction, but I like to think I have come away from every life experience a bit richer and certainly wiser, though I still have miles to go.

Mary Margaret and I had a lovely chat in the car this morning about striving to live better and do good every day of your life. I do battle with myself constantly, find that I must work to keep my sarcasm and wickedness in check, but so far it’s working. I’ll never be perfect and I don’t want to be, but I do want to be aware of my actions and my reactions and how they affect others.

Dear heavens, am I growing up! (shrieks!)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Two people I loved died yesterday. My good old friend John Joyce's grandmom died. She was old and in failing health and her death was not unexpected, but it was still sad. A benign, sweet old Irish lady, she gave me a lot of pleasure and laughter over the years and I will miss her. Her family cared for with love and tenderness and I admire them all greatly, especially John's mom, who was her daughter.

Marilyn died too yesterday and her death was also not unexpected. She had ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease as it is often known, and though her battle was short in duration, it was long in guts. Marilyn and her partner Diane were among the Plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought against the State of New Jersey to allow them the right to marry. Sadly, this case has been sent down several times and is due again to be heard in the State Supreme Court. To me, not allowing them and other same sex couples the rights the rest of us have as heterosexuals is unjust, wrong and a sad comment on our society. Diane was unable to sign the papers to donate Marilyn's body to science for research. One of her grown children had to do it. That was, in Diane's words, "a slap in the face" and exactly what they were fighting for.

Marilyn was great. She was fun loving, full of life and laughter and truly a good woman, mother, friend and partner. I never heard her utter a bad word about anyone. I saw her giggle and guffaw a few times when others did, but she was kind, compassionate and giving. She was a lactation consultant and brought so much to so many people that it is inconceivable to me that she is gone. We had a lot of fun over these past years. Marilyn and Diane were both so happy for me when I met Chris and moved to Germany. They were so encouraging to me and truly happy that I had found something lasting and meaningful. It's a testament to the strength of their union that they were so supportive of mine.

A bright light has truly gone out. I loved her and I'll miss her.

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Di and Marilyn. Marilyn is on the right in the glasses.

If you are interested, here's an article on Marilyn in the Courier Post.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Yesterday we had a very mellow Labor Day celebration at my family's house. It was just us, and my brother-in-law John's brother Brian, who is family! I made the following chocolate cake from a recipe I found on Epicurious, and which my good friend John Joyce has been making for years. It came out perfectly in our new oven!


3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla
a 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. and butter and flour a 3-quart bundt pan, knocking out excess flour.

In a bowl whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda.

In another bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, and beat in sour cream and vanilla until combined well. With mixer on low speed gradually beat in flour mixture until just combined.

Pour about half of batter into prepared pan and sprinkle about half of chocolate chips and walnuts over batter. Pour remaining batter over walnut mixture, spreading evenly, and sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips and walnuts. Bake cake in middle of oven 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean, and cool in pan on a rack 1 hour. Invert cake onto rack and cool completely.

Your friends and family will love this cake! It is yummy!

One rant: In the past, Nestle made a 12 oz. bag of chocolate chips, which was exactly 2 cups. Now they have cut down the size of the bag to 11.5 oz. It's another way of raising their prices. I resent the sneakiness involved --- how dumb do they think we consumers are? I used Ghirardelli chips instead, which are absolutely delicious. Screw you, Nestle!
We had a lot of fun over the weekend entertained and being entertained. We bought a new gas grill on Saturday and tried it out on Lisa and Mike on Sunday night. I made some Incredibly Good Hamburgers.

2 lbs. good quality ground beef (I like ground chuck as it is juicier)
5 shallots, minced
2 T. capers, chopped
2 T. green peppercorns, minced
4 T. grainy dijon mustard
a liberal dash of salt
a very liberal splash of worcestershire sauce
8 tablespoon size pieces of gorgonzola cheese

Make 8 1/4 lb. burgers combining the first 7 ingredients and then make a well in the middle of each burger and put the gorgonzola hunks in and cover it up well with the rest of the burger.

Grill 3-4 minutes per side. Serve on a good roll. If you are so inclined, you can make the following recipe and serve it on the burgers.

Caramelized Red Onions

8 large red onions, sliced thinly
1/2 stick butter
2 or 3 T. brown sugar
1/8 - 1/4 C. balsamic vinegar

Melt the butter over medium heat and add the onions. Add brown sugar and balsamic vinegar and saute until caramelized and very tender. Serve at room temperature. Recipe from my dear friend, Lise Farrell, in Munich.

Friday, September 02, 2005

I am so ashamed of my country and our government's ineffectual response to the misery in New Orleans, which is absolutely beyond the pale. The level of suffering is so high and our government is moving at a snail's pace. Why the hell can't we do more? Lots of folks have been discussing the race and class issues and I have to wonder whether they might be right about both. These are poor blacks with absolutely nothing, expendable in the eyes of many. We're sitting up here in our beautiful homes in well tended neighborhoods assuaging our guilt by giving money to the Red Cross , but we have no idea of the reality of the situation. It's awful. Our government needs to swing into serious action NOW.