Archive for April, 2014

Liaisons versus Relationships

April 27, 2014

I was reflecting this morning about the state of my relationships with men.
The last real relationship I had was for nine months in 2008-9 with the Coach. We professed love for each other. I’m not sure I felt that strongly but I trusted him. Yeah! I finally trusted a man again! He brought me flowers every week accompanied by poems he’d composed about how wonderful I was. Then he dumped me, over the phone, for no given reason. I guess I’m not very good at choosing someone to trust.
Since then I’ve had long-term liaisons. It’s not nameless sex or one-night stands. I truly enjoy the man’s company. I went out with the Train Man for three summers and we had lot of fun. Unfortunately that ended badly too but I wasn’t heart-broken, just perplexed.
I’m now in a liaison with The Roadie. I’ve been seeing him weekly for about three or four months. He’s an interesting fellow. We’ve shared some of our family stories and we talk about our “week in review.” He cooks me dinner: steak, pork chops, Beef Bourguignon, stew, and mashed potatoes made from scratch. It’s not a relationship in that I don’t think of him very often when we’re not together (and I doubt he does me either) but we have fun and naughty times together.
These liaisons do remind me a bit of my relationship with my dogs. When I’m with them they often have my undivided attention. When I’m away during the day I rarely think about them. They have their water and food out all the time and a doggie door. I walk them when I feel like it.
My deep relationships are with my friends. I speak to them often, think about them when we’re apart, spill my guts to them, listen with empathy and give advice when asked, and consider them vital to my life. What’s the difference?
I’ve had a few friends over the years disappoint me and I have cut ties with them. Almost all of my friends have been loyal, loving, and forgive my shortcomings. None of my friends has ever betrayed me, although I’m not sure what that would look like. If we have a disagreement, we talk it out. I wonder why I can’t find a man whom I can trust to do the same.

An Unobservant Jew Does Passover

April 22, 2014

It’s Passover. My sister and brother live back East and I am the only Jew left in my immediate family. My stepchildren and their children are Christian. My youngest son, who had his bar mitzvah, has eschewed Judaism for a form of Christianity he found while he was in jail. I want to carry on the tradition and the kids and grandkids are happy to indulge me.
This year Susan, my best friend of over fifty years, came to visit. She is on the board of her temple in California. Elissa, another good friend, decided to join the fun. She’s the director of her temple’s religious school in the Valley. When we discussed the menu, I suggested noodle kugel. Kugel is a pudding.
Elissa gave me an odd look and said, “You can’t eat noodles for Passover!”
She would have gone nuts at one of my mother’s Seders when she served roast pork.
We decided who would cook each item on the menu. I went to the store to buy the brisket. I expected twelve people. The brisket came in five and a half pound packages. Would one be enough? The Jewish Mother lives in me. Better too much food than not enough. I bought two. I planned to do the meat in the crockpot so I had to borrow one from Joan, who was coming to the Seder. (Put one package of brisket in the crockpot. Sprinkle an envelope of Knorr vegetable soup. Pour a bottle of beer over that and cook on low for ten to twelve hours.)
I also got an email from Elissa with 25 matzo recipes which included one for matzo kugel. I bought the ingredients and prepared it two days ahead of time. I tasted it as it was cooling. Not very good, but I decided to keep it and serve it anyway.
On the day of the Seder Susan made the tangy chicken soup before my housecleaner Diane came. Susan squawked when she saw I bought Lipton’s, not Manishewitz, matzo ball mix. We called Elissa and she volunteered to make the matzo balls from scratch, amazed that we would consider anything else.
When Elissa arrived and stowed her goodies, we went out to lunch while Diane did her magic. When we got back to my house it was spotless. I set the table. I pulled out my copies of a children’s Haggadah (the book needed to conduct the Passover service) and set one at each place. Elissa volunteered to lead the dinner.
Over ninety degrees was forecast so I didn’t want to heat up my small place by putting anything in the oven. I fired up my electric barbeque that uses wood pellets and cooked the potatoes, asparagus and re-heated the matzo kugel in it. Perfect. I also put the air conditioning down to seventy-two degrees a few hours before my guests were to arrive.
My oldest son and his family arrived first. His three year-old and seven year-old daughters are beautiful, smart, and well-behaved. They squealed with delight to see their Granny Annie. As people arrived we mingled in the living room. The food was already prepared and just waiting to be served.
I asked everyone to get themselves whatever they wanted to drink for dinner while I poured the wine. The granddaughters were tickled pink to be trusted to imbibe their grape juice from wine glasses.
Since there were so many non-Jews, Elissa did a marvelous job of explaining the Seder plate and the story of Passover. It took a while. Luckily my three year-old granddaughter loved matzo. She munched away and managed to down three while Elissa talked. The granddaughters ate the hard-boiled eggs with gusto, asking for seconds and thirds.

Nick and Savy look on as Elissa explains the Seder plate.

Nick and Savy look on as Elissa explains the Seder plate.

The food was brought out to oohs and aahs. Everything was delicious. A few people even like the matzo kugel. We ate and we ate and we ate. The desserts, fruit salad, chocolate-covered matzo and matzo brittle, were savored by my guests.
My older granddaughter found the afikomen, the part of a matzo that I hid during the Seder. The younger one cried and the older one decided to share her prize with her sister. Such good kids!
Everyone helped to clear the table. I was happy I’d hired Diane to come back the next day for an hour to clean the kitchen and dining room.
After everyone left, Susan and I loaded the dishwasher and put away the food. We sank our bodies into the living room loveseats and let the Passover glow envelop us.

Taco Tuesday and Immortality

April 8, 2014

Every Tuesday Filiberto’s (not to be confused with the copycats Rigoberto’s or Juliberto’s) offers beef or chicken tacos for 99 cents each. I’ve taken advantage of this special for many years, feeding young adult appetites as well as my own. These days my neighbor Donna and I go most Tuesday nights
That’s not going to happen in the near future. Donna and her son have started the Station Two diet. In four weeks she’ll be a vegan. I applaud her effort although I declined to join her. Her son is concerned she won’t be around to enjoy her grandson. She currently babysits for said one year old grandson once a week for a twelve hour shift and enjoys it immensely. Although exhausting, it has invigorated her life. Almost daily she shows me videos of what he’s up to and brags about how cute, strong, and smart he is. (In other words she’s a normal doting grandmother.)
I also treasure the time I spend with my granddaughters. I’m the “projects” granny. Last week I we played with air-dry clay and made presents for their parents for Mother’s and Father’s Day. Abby, seven, made a coil pot for her mother. Savannah, three, made coasters with initial puzzle pieces.
I often text my son and his wife to find out if they’d like a date night. They think I’m being generous to babysit so often. Au contraire. I’m being selfish and getting my grandchildren alone for hours.
I have no desire for immortality or even a very long life. I’m in good health, have mental acuity, enough money and work part-time out of choice, am lucky enough to own two homes so I can enjoy the weather year-round, and have great friends and family.
I’m starting to get the aches and pains that go with being in one’s sixties. I dabble at a healthy lifestyle although butter and chocolate are still important ingredients in my diet. I have no wish to die but I accept that it’s a natural part of life. I, like most people, wish to die quickly, avoiding the painful lingering illnesses. I’m considering getting a “DNR” (Do Not Resuscitate) tattoo over my heart so it will be impossible to ignore.
Meanwhile I’ll continue to enjoy Taco Tuesday. I have no problem eating out by myself.

Check out my book, Reinvented Lives, available on, my
website at