So my previous post was about travelling to the Catskills. We also visited my Aunt June in West Hartford sharing good memories of my mom growing up in NY City;  June being on the cover of “Seventeen Magazine” in 1950; visiting our farmhouse; and living in Manhattan. Surely memories are an indulgence. One indulgence I found that I was not to savor and that was a visit with a classmate Keith Olsen. All I had was a P.O. Box with the number and the site “Hilltop House” on it. I let him know I was coming and our phone number. As we got closer, he didn’t pick up his phone and as we traversed the windy mountain roads, we lost the cell phone connection. My husband was kind enough to stop in at a farmhouse where we saw a man working outside to inquire if he knew of Keith. Again, I was under the impression that everyone knew one another. It seemed the owner had just relocated to the house from Manhattan a month ago but she let us use her landline. There was no answer when I called him. So we continued our way and drove back roads through Pennsylvania which were beautiful and eventually made our way slowly back home.

My husband thought the whole incident was strange and thought I should drop him as a friend. I wrote him 2 emails explaining how I felt and how far we had come to visit. He gave me some strange excuse which I realized he has been doing for a long time ever since we both left New York City. He had changed and I let him know that I wasn’t prepared to always be the one reaching out. My husband let me see my pattern of reaching out to my brothers; my friends, etc. And of course, once he pointed it out, then I saw my pattern and have released this chain around my neck. I don’t want to be the second best for a friend, family member, or a job but I deserve to be in the front or by the side. I have much to offer and if they don’t appreciate me, then I need to move on. So, I let Keith know that we drove many miles and I didn’t appreciate his flakiness, intended or unintended and either he reached out or the friendship was over. Ironically, I remembered him visiting our home more often than us visiting his home, so I didn’t know the address. All I retained was a visual image of the location.  There were some unanswered questions but I am prepared to move on and happy with seeing the Catskills.  We rode over so many bridges and passed over lakes, creeks, swamps.

We chewed on homemade jerky and sampled excellent Southern tea in South Carolina; road around the Washington perimeter; drove through lanes of harrowing Baltimore drivers; visited excellent museums of art; rode up and then down Bear Mountain which was absolutely beautiful; noticed all the changes in the small town of which I once knew intimately; and we drove through ten states to arrive at our destination. We also had the opportunity to visit my stepson, Joshua, and see his work as the boss of his area in the Port of Baltimore. That was amazing! He is amazing! We walked and drove up some hills in the Catskills driving past summer camps where groups of Hasidic Jews were still living and working; I saw mosques in New York State which hadn’t been there before; and in one small city, I saw small and scary ghetto-like areas. These were things I didn’t expect to see but the world keeps changing and rolling on revealing new truths.

Seize the day! I am very grateful that my husband and I had the opportunity to take this trip. We may not be able to do this again for awhile, so we are very happy that some questions are now answered for me about my hometown in the Catskills and Michael is happy that I won’t be questioning again, “What does Jeffersonville look like today?”

 

They say “you can’t go home again” and I worried that you might not be able to but my husband and I have just returned from a cross country trip to the Catskills. We visited my stepson Joshua and his wife Katie in Baltimore and then continued on to West Hartford, Connecticut and on to the mountains where I grew up. It was a memory trip. We crossed ten states: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and New York. We walked through the one light town visiting the street where my family owned the ice cream parlor and on to a hardware store passed down by the family to their daughter who was a class ahead of me. The cute pink building was our store and the only thing which hasn’t changed is the auction barn next door still owned by the same couple. There is lots of construction going on as you can see which has something to do with flooding of the creek with the heavy rains. The first place I stepped foot in was the auction barn and of course I heard some gossip about the town.

I photographed the beautiful old church that has stayed the same throughout the years and Mullally’s Pub which is owned by a classmate of my brother’s. My brother is 7 years older than me. It is an unusual situation with the Pub. We had hoped to grab a bite to eat but the pub is now located in the town of Delaware instead of Jeffersonville as it has been re-zoned which means they have to reapply for the liquor license. As we continued to walk the small town with our pug in tow, we met a few people. My husband would ask of the older people, “How long have you lived here?” Some remembered my parents because as one woman stated, “Your mom was an important part of Jeffersonville.” Yes, she was. It was a small town where everyone knew your name and face. It was odd to walk the town and not recognize the faces which passed me by. I left Jeffersonville in 1985 and spent a year in Paris at the Sorbonne working as an au pair and taking classes in French. During this time, my parents sold our business and home and retired touring the country in a rv. My parents were an anomaly in Jeffersonville so many years ago as native New Yorkers relocating to the Catskills. Now they would be one of many who have relocated especially after 9/11. When they bought a business, they became a mainstay of the town.

Can you go home again? As we traversed the back road to my old home and I noticed the license plates from Texas in our driveway (the house had just been sold), and how the property was divided, so instead of our 14 acres, there were houses closer than before and Seibert’s log cabin bar and restaurant was still there but the people working behind the bar just stared at me in confusion as I told them I grew up here and was here when this place was build. They told me that according to New York State law our pug could not eat outside on the porch, so we had to leave. She mentioned that the former owner was leaving in his car. As I watched and realized I didn’t know him, I found out the place had been sold 3 times and the log cabin so sturdily build 40 years ago was still going strong. I imagined snow mobilers still visiting in the wintertime and of course, they have a social media presence with Yelp.

But there no neighbors yelping down the way they knew me when because some had passed away or perhaps moved on. And yet, we were there for a limited time, so we moved on. (To be continued.)

Last night I rushed Michael to the VA Hospital as his blood pressure was too high!I didn’t realize that I was capable of driving so fast under pressure. We spent the evening there and they kept Michael for observation and as a precaution as his pressure started to stabilize. As usual, the VA Tampa was wonderful to both of us. This morning I am waiting for a call and he should be released by the early afternoon.

It is moments like that when you realize what matters: the extra boxes in the shed to give away are not a problem; nor is the hole being dug under the fence next to the side yard or a crazy neighbor down the street or the fact that you need to lose 25 lbs. What matters is the moment. We had planned to visit our friends in Indian Rock Beach and enjoy the beach and the day. I way laid about it and thought maybe I should stay home and finish editing a short story to be send away, and maybe enjoy a rare day alone since the summer vacation just began. I had gone on an interview this week for a full-time teaching job next year and I wasn’t feeling sociable. As I was debating and re-debating, Michael began to complain of tightness in his chest and recheck his pressure which continued to climb. He was in a terrible mood. Now I realize that he was scared as he probably knows his body well and realized that something was off. He had a heart attack while at his finance job in 2008 which was the same summer I was in the hospital having large tumors removed which they discovered were non-cancerous. It was a very stressful time for us.

So I walked the dog this morning, watered all the plants, cleaned up, planned a nice light dinner for us, called his friend, checked my emails to see if I now have a full-time position because life does go on when you least expect it. You can plan and over-plan but sometimes the best solution is “let’s roll.” In the words of Tom Beamer flight 93.

The summer is here and wishes are near and dear. We wish for the ordinary yet we seek out some specialties along the way. It is wonderful to sleep a full sleep without waking up once until you are rested. There is no alarm clock. You have time to find out about repairing your favorite cookbook; checking out some garage sales; getting together stuff for your own sale; exercise at the health club you signed up for 6 months ago; making some recipes you wanted to try; observing all the possibilities of titles and short stories you are interested in writing; finding the time to have coffee with a neighbor who invited you a month ago; reading some more books written by Jane Stanton Hitchcock; going to the beach with your husband; driving leisurely around to finish your chores; bike rides; getting together with friends and family and the list goes on.

The summer is here.Work will start again in August or earlier perhaps but for now there is time. Time perchance to dream and to perform.

The only funny thing I can think of happening is taking a walk and having one of our nearby neighbors approach me and ask, “Are you Russian?” I said, “No, and asked, “are you Russian?” He said “Yes” and continued to stare intently at me. I told my husband and we laughed as I remembered my time in South Korea when I was constantly asked this question. I loved my husband even more when he said, “he probably sees me walking the pug and thinks you are a mail order bride from Russia.He wonders how such a dork could be married to a hot babe like you.”

You have to love a man who makes you laugh. Enjoy the heat and the summer wherever you may be.

The other day I was trolling down Facebook checking out ‘eating light’, ‘recipes for low calorie treats’and seeing what my friends still teaching in the United Arab Emirates were up to. Some of them still were out brunching at elegant hotels or having an outdoor barbecue. I see that Ms. G is still with her new boyfriend as I have watched her switch several times since she first settled in the UAE seven years ago and she is with the same job!Facebook also makes some suggestions for me for friends most of whom I have never seen before. When I get bored, I can peruse different sale sites and contemplate buying some items. It is very addictive but can also be a dangerous medium if taken too seriously. I stop myself when I find myself comparing my situation to my friends in other parts of the country or world.

I say “a dangerous country” because the truth is not always posted on this medium. We post the reality we want others to see which doesn’t include the daily drudgery most of us contemplate daily. For example, this morning I helped my husband with some carpentry so that we will have a cooler home. Well, he performed the carpentry and the measurement of the wall unit while I kneeled holding two pieces of board sitting exactly still and praying he wouldn’t drill through my fingers.In between, I decided to do some dusting as I may not pass this way again for awhile! This reality allows me to improve my listening skills. An example would be when my husband is cleaning the gutters and I must get on the ladder and hand him his blower. I am not good with heights and afraid he will fall off the roof or I will fall off the ladder. When we finally finish the chore, I am happy.But the thing is that you can’t live life on social media. These daily drudgery is necessary to our existence and comfort, I am not going to publish what a selfie, “and here we are on the roof. Look at the view from up here! Holy cow, I can see my neighbor’s chimney.”

The positive thing is after I finish thinking or placing myself at the brunchery with my friend in Abu Dhabi or the possibility of a wonderful vacation that I see friends going on, or contemplate the best drinks for losing weight during the summer is that I am ready to approach reality again. I have noticed that house cleaning is full of lifting, reaching, and bending as is helping my husband with outdoor chores, so all the extra steps taken aren’t going to waste and I am living a healthy life. My husband knows some of these days are tough for both of us and goes to Publix to pick up a fresh fruit salad for breakfast. Life is funny. I often think about what might happen if I had stayed in New York City but then again, as someone recently told me, you could just have well have been in the twin towers on 9/11. And it is true that some Stony Brookers would have been in New York working in the financial district.

We don’t know but the best thing is to get off social media and start living our life. Remember social media is not always pretty but those posting want us to think life is always pretty. Sometimes you just have to get dirty to get a life.Consider yourself lucky if you meet a partner or friend willing to get dirty along with you.

Enjoy your summer. The last day of school is next week.

I was reading about how healthy dark chocolate and coffee are for you and I found this online. The end of the week when summer will soon be here and there will be time to take advantage of the exercise place I signed up for in December once again.

Chef Gigi Gaggero

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 large egg yolks
6 ounces good quality 60-70 % chocolate,finely chopped
6 ounces good quality 80% chocolate 80%,finely chopped, plus shavings for garnish
2 tablespoons sugar
1- 4 inch cinnamon stick
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
1 teaspoon good quality instant espresso powder
Unsweetened whipped cream,for serving


Method:

In a medium saucepan, combine the whole milk with the heavy cream, cinnamon stick and sugar. Bring to a simmer over moderately high heat. Reduce heat add the vanilla, espresso and salt. Stir to combine. Set aside.

In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks until creamy, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in 1/2 – 1 cup of the hot milk, into egg yolks while whisking vigorously; do-not to curdle the eggs. Bring the egg yolks close to the same temperature as the milk. This stage is called: Tempering…

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I have been searching for a manageable way to use prosciutto the next time I visit Mazzaro’s in Saint Pete. I follow this blog and love the recipe. It reminds me of my mom’s cooking and it is something you can experiment with by adding your own sides and using a slight variation of some items.

Maison Travers

IMG_9136The perfect one-dish meal! Poulet Basquaise is a standard plat du jour in many bistros across France and there must be at least a hundred interpretations of this classic dish. It originates in the Basque country and is traditionally made with a little Bayonne ham. The generic term Bayonne applies to any salt-cured ham that is air-dried for five months. You may use any unsmoked ham such as prosciutto or Serrano if you cannot find Bayonne. The difference between poulet basquaise and many other chicken and tomato stews is that here the onions and tomatoes are cooked separately from the chicken and peppers and the cooked chicken is served on a bed of the tomato and onion sauce. Additionally the dish tastes especially good due to the addition of Espelette pepper. It is a mildish pepper with lots of flavour and not much heat. If for some reason you cannot…

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