Monthly Archives: November 2011

Meow-Meow and the Boys

Standard

Meow-Meow (in front as usual!) with Colin

As a child I was very allergic to cats, so I never much cared for them because of the physical discomfort they caused me.  They seemed aloof anyway and seemed to distance themselves, probably because I would never allow them to come close to me.  In fact, I avoided them like the plague.  But when our family moved to the country, a cute little calico cat started hanging around the backyard. She was friendly and affectionate, running to me like a dog when she saw me.  She nibbled at breadcrumbs I threw out for the birds until I, the old softie, provided her with her very own cat food and a little dog house for her to sleep in under our deck. I went door to door in the neighborhood, trying to see if anyone owned her, but nobody claimed her.

 I finally named her Meow-Meow and made an appointment at a veterinarian’s office for shots and spaying. When it was time to capture her for her visit, she ran and hid, nowhere to be found. I did locate her the next morning curled up in her little house on her cozy blanket…along with her four newborn kittens. I was in awe, fascinated by Meow-Meow’s unrelenting commitment to motherhood as she protected and cared for these tiny little balls of fluff. My fondness grew as well, watching with delight as these little beings matured into amusing creatures with diverse personalities.
 

Eight years later Meow-Meow and two of her sons, Colin and Booie, are now indoor cats and much-valued members of the household. My brother adopted her other two sons, Bailey and Brindle, and they are spoiled rotten! My immune system seems to have readjusted because I am no longer allergic to them.  And, I have become a lover of cats.  Go figure.

                                                                            

Advertisements

Be Careful What You Wish For

Standard

In the 1960’s women stepped out of the box.  Gloria Steinem gained national attention as a feminist leader and spokeswoman for women. It had been a slow and arduous climb since our suffrage victory to vote on August 26, 1920, but the sixties would change all that.  The sixties proved to be a time when women acquired the “freedom” to go out and work.  No longer were they required to stay at home and “just” be a housewife and a mother.  They could pursue their dreams and not have to feel guilty about wanting to work instead of staying home and raising a family.  Go, Gloria Steinem!  Go equal rights for women!  YEAH!

So, in the sixties women tore off their June Cleaver apron and joined the workforce.  Now women were bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan!  But most weren’t prepared – most didn’t have a prestigious college degree or the tools they needed to earn a higher salary. Many women like my mother went to work in retail and factories doing menial tasks for little pay.  My mom made $2.00 an hour in the shipping and receiving room of a department store. I can remember her rejoicing because she got a 10 cent raise.  And although at the time she went back to work my brother and I were old enough to fend for ourselves, I remember missing her when I got home from school.  She worked a long day, took the bus into the city because she didn’t drive and then arrived home well after 6:00.  She was always tired.

By the seventies women were preparing themselves for the workforce by going to college to get that degree to get better jobs so they could make a better salary.  A lot of my classmates who had the choice and luxury to go to college studied nursing and teaching because that is what girls did at that time.  Those who didn’t continue on to college became secretaries and bank tellers and store clerks.  Women were still not making the salaries they deserved, but at least they had a career.  Besides, the thinking at the time was that they were going to get married anyway and their husbands would become the main bread winner.

Champagne wishes and caviar dreams led the mindset of the eighties as a “got to have it” consumerist generation.  It was becoming a necessity for women to work, and moreover, it was now expected. Many women struggled with juggling work and family. It was exhausting.  Most men had not transitioned into helping around the house.  It was not considered macho to cook and clean and do grocery shopping – a throw back from those who were born in the fifties and had the Ward Cleaver mind set. By then, with the economy changing, it became a luxury for women to stay at home.  Either way, it was a woman’s responsibility to run the household and take care of the family whether she worked or not.  Now we had to work a full-time job and then go home to our second shift of running a home and raising a family.

“Show me the money” was more than a movie catch phrase in the nineties.  Our nation was entrenched in consumerism. Most women were choosing their direction in higher education, studying a broader scope of careers.  Men were finally seeing the light and taking more responsibility for sharing the household chores and family responsibilities.  We even have some Mr. Mom’s staying home while the wife goes out and works.   We are working our way to equal partnerships.

Onto the new millennium with an economy plummeting into the toilet, and here we are both husband and wife having to work and still having trouble making ends meet.  Kids go to day care; people who make enough money have nannies raising their kids.  For the most part men are sharing the household responsibilities – the newer generation of men, that is. A lot of men will just never get it. Being a stay-at-home mom is a luxury and not a choice, and it’s sad for those who would really like to just be a mom, but that’s not a job, is it?!  I see young women heartbroken when their maternity leave ends knowing they have to go back to work and leave their infant in the care of others. Now we get to work, have someone else raise our kids, struggle to make ends meet and try to keep up with the other responsibilities of running a household.  This is liberation! But it’s what we wanted and what we fought for. Or is it? 

Yes, I am all for equal rights for women – that’s a no-brainer, but I feel that women have been forced into leading stressed out, overworked, underpaid, got to get out there and just do it all lives whether they asked for it or not. Our world has put us into a position wherein if you don’t do it all you are lazy and not stepping up to the challenge of what our suffragette sisters fought for so long ago. It’s not a free choice. It’s survival. As far as I’m concerned, it didn’t turn out exactly as planned.

Be careful what you wish for because what you get is not always what you want.

Baby, I Was Born to Dream

Standard

Thought for the day:  Dreams can take you anywhere you want to go.

Bruce Springsteen smiled at me last night…in my dream, that is.  In this episode he made an unexpected personal appearance at a charity event I was working at to deliver “Springsteen” tee shirts. Everyone was wild with excitement at seeing the icon, not the least of which was me!  He handed me a shirt, smiled and lingered for a moment.  I stared at him – speechless – smitten. This was just one of many crush dream episodes I have had over the years starring Bruce as my favorite not-for-real fantasy guy.

Truth be told, many years ago, when I was battling a particularly bad case of boredom, I almost threw it all in to go in search of Bruce. As I sat on my back porch one hot summer afternoon watching my kids play, I got lost in a daydream of packing them into the mini-van and taking a road trip to Rumson.  I’d somehow miraculously find his house, knock on his door and say…say…what?  What would I say?!  That was the dilemma. “Hi, Bruce, here I am, the love of your life, and these are my kids.  You’re gonna love us!”  I envisioned him immediately leaving his current supermodel girlfriend for plain, old me. (Sure, might happen, right?!) Of course, I never got that far; I never even got into the car, although I did locate Rumson on a New Jersey map.

Many years have passed since that day.  My kids are grown.  Ironically, the oldest is a teacher at a school located in Rumson near Bruce’s estate.  I now have a pretty good idea of where he lives.  Don’t worry, I’m not a stalker.  I’ve lost the brazen fearlessness I had some 25 odd years ago.  I am neither hip nor cool, nor do I resemble a supermodel whatsoever, so what would be the point?

Bottom line is when your life is located in Snoresville, USA, its fun to daydream about being caught up in a glamorous lifestyle with a famous rock superstar.  Who doesn’t do this from time to time? (Am I right, ladies?!?) But its even nicer (no harm; no foul) to have that rock star fade in and out of  your dreams every now and again to  jump start your heart with a smile…heavy sigh….

Counting My Blessings

Standard

Measurement of a truly rich life is not attained from inanimate objects, expensive trinkets, career success or position in the community. Riches are made out of flesh and blood, hearts that pulse and souls that faithfully surround you with love.

So on this Thanksgiving I would like to take the liberty to express my thankfulness for each of my blessings and to God for providing every one of them. I am truly blessed.

For faith in my generous, loving God Who sees me through every challenge and joy, providing all that I need and always in His perfect timing.

For my daughters Katie and Megan, who have taught me how to be a mother, who love and encourage me and make my heart gush with pride at the women they’ve become.  They are the reason why my life has meaning.

For my wonderful brother Ken, a kind and generous soul, who is always there for me, going over and above the threshold of true giving and caring.

For my sons-in-law to be Blake and Matt – there are no finer gentlemen and husbands for my daughters then them.

For my dear Aunt Joan who is my hero, showering me with love and kindness, and demonstrating how to live your life your way.

For so many friends who push me through to the next day with their love and encouragement.

For my band of pets who take turns providing laughter and entertainment in this three-ring circus called my life.

For food to eat, clothes to wear and a safe, warm place to live.

For the opportunity to serve others who need a hand up.

For the gift of spending time with my family on this special day.

For holding close in my heart those who live too far to be with me.

For those who have passed…Mom and Dad who raised me to be a woman with a soft heart and a strong will.  Aunt Vi, my generous godmother, who always kept me laughing, toasting every Thanksgiving Day with a pretty strong egg nog and gravy so thick it ate like a meal. Mr. Murphy, my mentor and lifelong friend – always and forever in my heart. For Bob who treated me like a daughter from the very start. My grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends who will never be forgotten.

 Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Humbling My Heart

Standard

I was on my way to help with Thanksgiving food box deliveries for people who had no means of transportation. 

When I arrived at the auditorium, the room was bustling with good-hearted people busily packing boxes.  Mountain of all types of food was stacked high on tables as far as the eye could see. I immediately jumped in and helped, then loaded my car with the deliveries.

My first stop was at an apartment complex inhabited by the elderly.  The lobby was filled with white-haired women very curious as to who I was and what I was doing there.  I made my way to the fourth floor where a tiny, fragile-looking woman in a worn quilted robe opened the door.  She smiled weakly as I entered her small, cramped apartment.  I noticed portable oxygen tanks on the floor and a walker propped in the corner. Her bent frame shuffled along showing me the way to a table on which to place the groceries. Her voice was no more than a whisper as she thanked me and mentioned her son might come over later for a visit.  I hoped that he would.

My second stop was at a worn, low income apartment complex. I was making two deliveries there, and as I entered the lobby, two women with apparent health issues met me in the lobby with portable shopping carts ready and waiting.  I had only one of the deliveries in my hands, and the woman receiving them protested that I should have food for her friend as well.  I looked at the sad face of the other woman and assured her that hers was in my car, and she would be next.  When I came back into the lobby, the woman smiled broadly and eagerly took the food from my hands.  She thanked me profusely and wished me a good day as she happily wheeled her groceries onto the elevator.

Stop three was in another apartment complex along a desolate country road.  I drove to the back where the woman had directed me, saying she would be working but her sixteen year old son would be home to accept the delivery.  The overweight boy came out in bare feet – his hair cut into a Mohawk, tattoos up his arms and silver rings in his ears.  I couldn’t help but question what the future would hold for him.  He took the box looking at the contents curiously.  I wondered what would be left by the time his mom came home from work, but I wished him well and hoped he would enjoy. 

My last stop was to a run-down trailer park.  In a word, it was shabby, and I don’t mean to be unkind.  A petite, dark-haired woman in her forties answered the door and eagerly took the box.  She questioned me about whether my organization could provide transportation for her since epilepsy prevented her from driving.  I told her I would have the counselor contact her to answer her questions.  I got into my car and drove off wishing I could have done more for h

I reflected on the gifts God has given me as I drove home. Although my finances were not great, I was driving my own car.  I had my health, a warm home to go to, food in the pantry and my family to love. I passed a church along the way with a marquee that said, “Whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.”   I may have delivered food today to people in need, but they, in fact, did something greater for me by humbling my heart.

Be Who You Must

Standard

Thought for the day:  Be who you must – that’s a part of the plan.

Dan Fogelberg

Many years ago, when I was trying to figure out the rest of my life, I did a lot of soul searching and a lot of traveling.  During that time a new artist named Dan Fogelberg had just released his first big hit – “Part of the Plan.”  This song spoke to my soul and became my road song as I drove cross country to California trying to find myself.  Everyone seemed to be traveling to California in those days, as if it were some kind of promised land. I don’t think I ever really did – find myself, that is.  I’m still searching and still finding hope in this song. 

I have these moments

All steady and strong

I’m feeling so holy and humble

The next thing I know

I’m all worried and weak

And I feel myself

Starting to crumble

 

The meaning gets lost

And the teachings get tossed

And I don’t know what I’m going to do next

I wait for the sun, but it never quite comes

Some kind of message comes through to me

Some kind of message comes through

 

And it says:

Love when you can

Cry when you have to

Be who you must

That’s a part of the plan

Await your arrival

With simple survival

And one day we’ll all understand

When I start to worry (and I’ve been doing a lot of that lately), I make a conscious effort to choose faith over fear.  It’s only then that I become steady and strong.

P.S.  Thanks, Dan

 

Holy Guacamole!

Standard

Megan at Rocco’s with the ultimate guacamole!

I had the undisputable pleasure of visiting Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, during a recent visit.  If you’re ever in the area, you’ve got to check it out.  The food was estupendo, and the guacamole, prepared fresh at your table, was mucho magnífico!!!  Add a pitcher of prickly pear margaritas and you’re good to go!

I’ve been experimenting with guacamole ingredients ever since my return and have concocted one I think is pretty close.  Give it a shot and let me know.  Until I get back to Rocco’s again, this will have to do – in the meantime, all I can say is olé!

 ½ cup finely chopped red onion

2 cloves garlic finely chopped

2 Roma tomatoes diced

1 lime freshly squeezed

(Mix the above ingredients together and set aside.)

4 ripe Hass avocados peeled and seeded (cut in half – take out seed – scoop out flesh)

1 tbsp. salt

1 tsp. ground pepper

¼ cup firmly-packed chopped fresh cilantro

8 dashes hot sauce (Texas Pete)

(Mash avocados and add salt, pepper and cilantro and hot sauce.)

Mix chopped mixture into mashed mixture.  Add more salt if needed to your taste. Also, if you like it hotter, add more sauce or you can chop up a chili pepper (I didn’t use a chili pepper because I’m not a hotty :))

Let set a few minutes then serve with fresh chips. Store tightly covered but not for too long – it turns brown quickly.

Recipe by:  Mamasita Susezit