Fluffy Got A Brazilian

Throughout history, hair has gotten a lot of attention. Entire books have been devoted to the subject, it is the stuff of legends and lore (Lady Godiva or Samson, anyone?) and pretty much every American parent has made a big deal of their child’s first haircut.Norman Rockwell's First Trip To The Beauty Shop

My own daughter’s first trim was at the hands of a five-year-old boy who lived across the street. I still have the curls and the story (which I might tell you some other time).

Certain religions and cultures have extremely strict rules about whether locks can be shown or shorn. In fact, fringe groups have used hair as a means to commit hate crimes on others – such as the scandalous and bizarre Amish haircutting attacks in Ohio.

There are some pretty weird old wives’ tales about hair, too: Never cut your hair when you’re pregnant. Eating bread crust will make your hair curly. Redheads are a handful! (Full disclosure: I think that one might have some merit, although you can’t believe everything you read about Lindsay Lohan or Prince Harry.)

So with all this import placed on hair, it stands to reason that, when we find good hairdressers, we stick with them. My own stylist, Frederic, was fresh from Paris when I met him. In fact, he could barely speak English and I was one of his very first clients in the United States. I remained faithful to him for over 14 years, even though I knew he was regularly running his fingers through other women’s hair. We no longer see each other because, somewhere along the line, he became a huge success. His haircuts, which I thought were steep at $65 back in the 1990’s, gradually escalated to cost many hundreds of dollars. I do love my hair, and Frederic, but a girl’s gotta draw the line somewhere. So I bravely put my head in others’ hands until I found love again (thank you Amy & Barbara!).

I feel the same way about my dog’s groomer. Donna loves Fluffy and is wonderful with her. Fluffy adores Donna, too and her dog Santos. Her romantic attachment to Santos is an added perk to being primped. So, when Fluffy needs sprucing, Donna is our go-to gal.

However, once while on vacation, Fluffy had a grooming emergency. I won’t embarrass her by giving away the details, but let’s just say there was an “incident” that may, or may not, have involved another dog…a much, much taller dog…with either the very best or the very worst aim imaginable (depending on your perspective). Anyway, we had to take care of our girl and time was of the essence. So we took her to a pet store chain that offers salon services.

When we arrived, they provided us with a list of options. We sprung for the “full-service,” which included bath, cut, blow-dry, nail trimming, and ear cleaning. Nowhere, nowhere on that list did the words Bikini Wax appear! And why should they? In the first place, dogs don’t wear bikinis.

In the second place, I can’t imagine, for the life of me, how one would execute such a treatment on a canine. Yet when we retrieved her, her poor little hoo-hah was completely bare-nekked. And I mean completely. Having never been so denuded before, she was unaccustomed to the feeling of air whooshing around her private puppy parts. It was traumatizing for her. As a result, she did not want to walk, stand, or assume any position that allowed her nethers to be exposed to the elements.

Until things got back to normal, we had to take her for “carries” rather than walks. Thank goodness her hair grows fast.

That misadventure taught us a few lessons that I will share with you now:

  1. Buyer beware! Always ask specifically what you’re getting when visiting a groomer.
  1. When you find a groomer whom both you and your pup are comfortable with, do not go exploring for greener grass — which brings us to…
  1. That grass over there by that Great Dane may seem greener, but don’t go anywhere near there. Trust me.

Does this haircut make my head look big?

 

Three Little Words

In a recent burst of culinary enthusiasm, I decided to unleash my inner Latina by whipping up a Mexican fiesta, complete with fresh guacamole, salsa, fish tacos, refried beans and a sweet, slippery flan. (Ancestral Disclaimer: I possess not a drop of Hispanic blood, but I believe there is a sexy Chicana residing deep within my soul. Her name is Velvita Montecombo).

Compiling the selected recipes from Epicurious, I added all the ingredients to my weekly shopping list. There were some exotic components that I’d never heard of before so, while I’m familiar with almost everything in the produce department, I wouldn’t know a tomatillo from a Tommy Mattola.  It was clear I’d need some professional help on this expedition. With list in hand, I drove to the supermarket.

While perusing the peppers, I recognized bells, jalapeños, and pepperoncini…but beyond that, I was out of my depth. It was then that I sought out the produce manager.

“Excuse me,” I said, “Can you tell me where the habaneros and tomatillos are?”

He pointed, in a vague way, toward the bulk vegetable section. Now, right off the bat, I could tell we were going to have a rocky relationship. You see, unless I’m asking an Irish Setter where the ducks are, I expect words in response to my queries, not pointing.

“Over there?” I asked, giving him another opportunity to articulate.

He nodded his head in the affirmative, still remaining silent (although he may have grunted – I’m not sure).

Walking to where he gestured, I discovered a small cardboard box filled with a hodgepodge of peppers. There were round red ones, long green ones, short green ones, long red ones, round green ones…you get the picture.

 

Peter Piper Picked A Peck Of These

Peter Piper Picked A Peck Of These

“These?” I called to him. He ignored me, which got me (and Velvita) feeling caliente – and not in a good way. I sashayed up to him (Velvita sashays) and asked, “Can you come over here for a minute, please?”

He looked put out, but followed me nonetheless.

“Are any of these tomatillos?” I asked again.

“The green ones.” It speaks!

There were no fewer than three completely distinctive varieties of green vegetables in there.

“Which green ones?” I pressed. “They’re all different.”

“The green ones,” he repeated.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, our uncooperative produce manager was finding it impossible to utter those three little words: I. Don’t. Know.

Funny thing about the phrase I don’t know…it’s like a multi-purpose magic wand. Not only is it a free pass for getting out of answering questions (lawyers hate it, because where can you go from “I don’t know”?); but it’s also a valuable time-saver for the person on the receiving end (unless you enjoy a spirited wild goose chase now and again).

Rather than tango any further with Mr. Nohelpatall, I turned to my trusty iPhone and searched Google images for “habanero and tomatillo.” Voila! Not only did it immediately solve my problem, it taught me two things: 1) Habaneros are the same things as Scotch bonnets and 2) one day it will be necessary for computers to replace humans. Otherwise, salsa will become extinct.

I showed him my phone and said, “In case you’re interested, these are what they look like!” Velvita can be a little bitchy.

I bagged my peppers, shot him a derisive glare and huffed off.  He couldn’t have cared less.

Next stop, the aisle dedicated to garbage bags, plastic wrap, and cleaning supplies. I had recycling bags on my list, but couldn’t find any. Since I’m a glutton for punishment, but also an eternal optimist, I enlisted the help of another store employee.

“Excuse me, do you sell recycling bags? I don’t see them.”

“Yes,” he said. Words! I was hopeful. “They’re over there.” He pointed to an enclosed section at the front of the store. The sign above the door read, “Recycling Center.” It’s where people redeem their bottles and cans.  Hmm…

“Are you telling me that’s where you stock recycling bags for purchase?”

A blank stare on his part. A heavy sigh on mine. Here we go again, I thought.

“Um, yeah?” Haltingly answering my question with a question did not come across as certainty.

Even though I knew better, I went to the recycling center. Of course, there is nothing for purchase in the recycling center, ever.  Google couldn’t help me out with that one, so it was Amazon Prime to the rescue.

It’s so refreshing to know that I can go to Google, Epicurious or Amazon, with complete confidence. I’ve never searched for a brisket recipe and had Epicurious answer me with one for quiche. If Google doesn’t have what I’ve typed, it will help out by asking, “Do you mean gobbledygook?” And Amazon will help me narrow down my search by suggesting “gobbledygook in All Departments? In Music? In Books? Etc.” And if I ask for something they can’t find, they will tell me in no uncertain terms.

Why don’t (won’t) humans do that?

I don’t know.

Not A Clue

Not A Clue

 

Dirty Green

Eco-friendly living can’t be fluffed off as a passing fancy anymore. These days, it is considered a full-on lifestyle. There are, however, different levels of commitment to green living. From my experience, there seem to be three categories that most people fall into. Since it’s Earth Day, let’s have a look, shall we?

Light Green:

Light Green people are those who haven’t fully committed to green living, but they feel they’re making an effort, and a difference.

Light Greens drive hybrid cars, they recycle and they won’t run a dishwasher unless it’s full. However, their kids leave lights on all over the house and their air conditioning runs without interruption from May to September.

My family is Light Green. I’ve tried to make us greener, but some things just won’t fly. For example, I put a moratorium on paper towel use. Everybody had a fit, but I remained steadfast. I bought a boatload of ShamWow cloths (as seen on TV) and instructed my family to use them in place of paper towels. Then one day, my husband hired a cleaning company to give the inside of our barn a good going over. When the crew arrived, they explained that they didn’t bring rags (I know, it’s a head-scratcher). So my husband gave them all of my ShamWows and they never gave them back. I think the whole thing was a set-up, but I’ve never been able to prove it.

Deep Green:

Deep Green people are serious about the eco-friendly lifestyle. They do it properly and without fanfare.

My friends Christian and Debra exemplify the Deep Green couple. They both drive hybrids (hers plugs in), they built their house with sustainable materials, chose a floor plan designed to maximize the efficiency of their heating and cooling systems, they have solar panels on their the roof (I’ve watched their electric meter run backwards as they add energy to the grid) and they belong to an organic food co-op. Incidentally, they are both very attractive (which may or may not have anything to do with their lifestyle, but I just thought I’d mention it).

Here’s the best part about Debra and Christian: they don’t cram their philosophy down anybody else’s throat and they don’t think being green makes them “special.” It’s just the way they live. If you want to ask them about it, they will happily discuss how and why they do what they do. Otherwise, they have plenty of other interesting things to talk about.

Dirty Green

Perhaps the most confounding of all green groups are those I classify as Dirty Green.

Dirty Greens are the most vocal about pollution, filth and the decay of our environment. Yet, their homes are smelly, sticky, greasy and grimy. Why? They don’t “believe” in cleaning products. Huh? They also do not “believe” in shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste. Who knew there was dogma attached to shampoo?

Dirty Greens are to be avoided at social gatherings and are never to be invited as houseguests. At parties, they will take time out from harassing the hostess about using disposable tableware, to corner you with a  lecture about global warming. The first thing they’ll do is ask you what you drive. Unless you say “a horse and buggy” or “I walk everywhere – barefoot,” you will play right into their clammy hands. Then they’ll grill you about your eco-related habits, and wince as you pop a pig-in-a-blanket in your mouth. “Do you have any idea what industrial pig farming is doing to the planet? Have you ever stopped to think about the sewage generated by a pig farm?! Do you have any idea what that thing is doing to your body? Don’t you care about consuming something so toxic to the environment?…”  Their comments, opinions, know-it-all-isms and unsolicited advice will be endless.

If a Dirty Green waylays you, here are two exit strategies: 1) Look at your watch and excuse yourself because it’s time to take your digestive enzymes, or 2) Pretend you don’t speak their language (which probably isn’t too far from the truth, in a manner of speaking).

As houseguests, they are a nightmare. They will bring their dog without asking. They will let it soil your lawn but not clean it up because “it’s good for the environment.” They do not flush toilets. They will bring their own food and refuse to eat any of your pasteurized, processed or farmed-raised groceries (basically everything you’ve bought in anticipation of their arrival). No matter how hard you try please them, you’ll be a loser. That quiche you whipped up, with organic cage-free eggs and whole-wheat crust, will fall short because you prepared the dough with hydrogenated Crisco. And you can forget about serving those gluten-free bagels unless you have wild-caught Pacific coast lox and dairy-free cream cheese (an oxymoron, if ever there was one).

Under the guise of a benevolent gesture, they will offer to do the cooking. Don’t fall into that trap, or you’ll be eating a mixture of brown rice, seaweed and beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with kale juice to choke it all down. There is not enough Beano on the planet to handle the “pollution” that menu will produce.

Dirty Greens are full of beans!

Dirty Greens are full of beans!

By the time they go home, three things will have transpired: you will hate yourself for “poisoning” your children with name brand breakfast cereals; you will feel single-handedly responsible for punching a hole in the ozone because you dust with Pledge; you will be bloated.

I have a suspicion about the Dirty Greens. Does it seem to anybody else that they use ecology as a cover-up for bizarre food quirks, poor personal hygiene, and zero interest in housework? If they’re so concerned about cleaning up the environment, may I suggest they start with their own hair?

If you’re Light Green or Dirty Green, we’ve got plenty of room for improvement. Here are some tips…

–       Cleaning Products: There are hundreds of eco-friendly solutions on the market to make your house sparkle naturally. I like Mrs. Meyers Clean Day products. They come in 13 fresh fragrances, are Earth-friendly, and are not tested on animals. Another great brand is Method. Both are reasonably priced and available at most supermarkets.

–       Household Supplies: The ideal is to create as little waste as possible, but if you haven’t mastered that yet, at least you can use the most biodegradable and recyclable products you can find. As part of their extensive, eco-friendly line, Seventh Generation offers recycled paper products like toilet paper, napkins, paper towel and trash bags.

–       Pet Care: You can pick up your dog’s poo (to the relief of your neighbors) and be green at the same time, with biodegradable dog waste bags. There are many brands available and they’re easy to find online. If you’d like your dog’s “business” to make a statement, PetOutSide makes waste bags in a variety of snazzy colors and jazzy prints. After all, why be dull?

–       Personal Care: If minimal packaging is what you’re looking for, a multi-tasking cleansing bar might be just the ticket. You can use it to wash yourself from head to toe. J.R. Liggett’s offers a variety of bars (including one for your dog!). Looking for a product that does even more? Nobody beats Dr. Bronner’s Organic Pure Castile soaps that will wash you hair, body, bathroom, laundry, car, etc. As for natural and organic deodorants and toothpastes, they are available at any health food store or pharmacy. Please, go explore those (I’m talking to you Dirty Greens).

This is just a short list of options to help you achieve a Deep Green lifestyle, without much ado or breaking your budget. And remember to recycle! If you’re unsure of your town’s recycling policies, call your local sanitation department. For general recycling guidelines, visit Recycle Now for lots of information and ideas.

Since today is designated to celebrate the mother ship, I hope you’ll take this opportunity to review your own efforts to respect and care for her. Leave a comment below and tell me: What shade of green are you?

A Perfect Pairing

Recently, my husband and I celebrated out 22nd wedding anniversary.  When people learn we’ve been married that long, they carry on with like we’ve just discovered the cure for psoriasis or something.  But to us, 22 years doesn’t seem like a big deal.  In fact, by our families’ standards, we are rookies.  Hubby’s paternal grandparents (who both lived into their 90’s)  celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary.  My own parents have been united (unified?  unionized?) for just over 60 years.

My parents on their wedding day.

That’s a long time.  Can you imagine owning the same pair of gloves for over 60 years?  Now imagine belonging to another human being for that length of a time.

Lower those hackles, people!  I know, you winced at my use of the words “owning” and “belonging,” but just what do you think marriage is anyway?  I’ll explain: it is a contract…a binding one.  Breaking that contract is usually very difficult and extremely expensive.  If it weren’t such a big deal, it would be as easy to extricate oneself from a marriage as, say, a gym membership.  Oh, wait a minute…

Ok, let me rephrase that:  Even though it is easier to “uncouple” from your spouse than it was for me to part company with Equinox Fitness (a maddening story for another time), you should consider yourself “locked in” like a long-term mortgage.  And I mean this in the best of ways!

To celebrate our 22 years together, Hubby and I invited our friends Jonas and Vanessa to join us for dinner at a restaurant called Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

What’s that you say?  You’ve never heard of it?  Those in the know simply refer to it as Stone Barns.  It’s one of those farm-to-table joints, and practically everything they serve comes from the fields, and the coops, or the pens.  There are no menus.  Instead, you’re given a little Field and Pasture booklet, which lists the things that are in season for every given month.  Then, you are offered two meal choices: “Grazing, Pecking and Rooting” which consists of many little plates (and I do mean many), or the “Farmer’s Feast,” which offers the same amount of food on fewer plates but with larger portions.   Both are designed around that day’s harvest.  Both selections can be ordered with food alone, or with wine pairings.

While mulling over our choices (the whole table must agree to have the same plan), Jonas and I ordered cocktails.  He wanted a cucumber martini, but was told cucumbers were out of season (they’re not faking it at Stone Barns).  I wished I had brought one with me.  Is that a cucumber in your evening bag, or are you just happy to order a martini?

After a brief confab, the four of us decided to be grazing peckers.  Since Jonas and I were already working on our cocktails, we two opted to graze with wine.  Then we nominated Hubby & Vanessa to be our designated drivers.  They agreed, and so our culinary adventure began.

While taking in the beautiful dining room, our first course arrived.  We were served, what looked like, four little maroon buttons.  Four.  Each one was about the size of a quarter.  They turned out to be beet jerky.  No, that is not a typo.  It was jerky made of beets, not beef. And it was delicious.  If you’re not a beet fan, well, too bad for you because beets are in season and we were served lots of them, in many different forms.  Jonas is not a great lover of beets (or he would have ordered a beet martini), but he still liked them…pretty much.  Vanessa is an accomplished cook.  In fact she has her own catering business.  So she could probably figure out how to make beet jerky, but I don’t think Jonas will be requesting it anytime soon.

While we were enjoying our “buttons,” the sommelier gave Jonas and I our first pairing.  Now, I’ve ordered wine pairings before and I know the drill: savor that pour, ‘cuz you ain’t gettin’ no more!  Not so at Stone Barns, my friends.  Jonas emptied his glass before the course was over and somebody was there lickity split to refill it.

Following the jerky, we munched on kale and cabbage chips, suspended in this weird contraption that looked like a tree.  Yum!

Kale & Cabbage Sitting In A Tree...

Kale & Cabbage Sitting In A Tree…

After that, the vino kept flowing and the plates kept coming. And everything was incredible.

At one point, our server came to our table and brightly suggested, “Let’s take a walk.”

I immediately assumed I had been talking loudly enough to warrant removal from the premises – like I said, they were not being stingy with the wine.  I stared blankly, first at the server and then at Vanessa, who just shrugged.  Hubby informed us that we were being relocated to dine in the kitchen for a course or two.  Sweet!  Why were we invited to go into the kitchen?  Who cares?!  I’ve learned never to question those little perks life occasionally throws your way.

The kitchen was buzzing like Grand Central Station.  It looked like something out of a stylized, swanky movie – shiny and bright, filled with young, good-looking people (and not just because I was sporting a pair of wine goggles).

There was so much food and it was all incredibly delectable, but I knew I’d never be able to remember it all.  So, I wrote some of it down.  We had:

 

Pig's Liver with Chocolate and Mini Beet Burgers

Pig’s Liver with Chocolate and Mini Beet Burgers

  • Pig’s liver with chocolate (Seriously!  And seriously awesome.)

 

  • Teeny tiny beet burgers (with the smallest sesame buns you’ve ever seen)

 

  • Schpeck fresh pea puree with lime (I don’t know what this means either, but it’s what I typed into my iPhone.)

 

  • Beet tartar with quail egg (I told there were lots of beets)

 

  • Smoked trout with crème fraiche and borscht (more beets anyone?)

 

  • A very special beer that only occurs in nature every 17,000 years!  Apparently the malt grains ferment in the fields because the humidity is only just so every 17,000.  Huh?  How would anyone know what happened 17,000 years ago? But again, mine was not to reason why.  Mine was but to drink that crazy, refreshing beer.

 

  • Kohlrabi tacos with carrot salt (FYI: carrot salt is a game changer)

 

  • Venison
We ate off of bark. I swear to God.

We ate off of bark. I swear to God.

Then, on top of all this, dessert was served.  There were merengue worms, white chocolate eggs filled with something sinfully rich, truffles, honey drizzled ice cream and much more!

Dessert Extravaganza

By the time the meal ended, over five hours later, we were stuffed and I was a wee bit tipsy (and by “tipsy” I mean “blotto”).

Jonas was none the worse for wear and proved it when the check arrived.  With the swift precision of a striking cobra WHOOSH he grabbed it before Hubby knew what happened.  We tried to argue, but our dear friends would not hear of it.  Now, let me tell you, this was far beyond generous.  A meal like that doesn’t come on the cheap.  In fact, to fairly reciprocate on their anniversary, Hubby and I will have to gift Jonas and Vanessa with a vacation home in the south of France.

I look forward to our next visit to Blue Hill at Stone Barns.  Oh yes!  We shall return, but next time, I will skip the cocktail and limit myself to two glasses of their fine wine.  And I will bring a cucumber in my evening bag, just in case they’re out of season.

My parents today. Still belonging to each other.

My parents today. Still belonging to each other.

 

 

Light and Breezy

DSC_0134

Even though the room was spacious, the four of us were huddled near the far wall.  I was literally backed into a corner.  From there, it was tough to get the shots I needed; and if I missed them, I would not get a second opportunity.  Of all the photography jobs I’d ever had, this was, by far, the most challenging.  It was the first time I’d ever been asked to make a photo-journal of a woman’s labor and delivery.

 

Hey fellas, where ya goin?!!  C’mon men, just because the subject of this post is childbirth, that’s no reason to bail out.  If you’ll promise to man-up, I will promise not to bring you to your knees with gory details.  Agreed?  Great.  Let’s continue…

 

Penny* and her husband, Dave, were expecting their second child.

 

When she approached me about taking pictures, Penny told me she hoped to have a water labor, and possibly a water delivery.  She wanted me to photograph all of it.

 

I thought, Hoo boy!  What is with these young mothers and their wacky new-age ideas?  Instead, I said, “Sounds great!”

 

Yes.  I admit it.  I was judging.  And the truth is, I had absolutely no right to (beyond the obvious reasons).  You see, I had some wacky ideas of my own.  When we had our first child, Hubby and I did the Bradley Method.

 

If you’re unfamiliar with Bradley, allow me to share my personal experience: the class was full of tall, graceful “dancers” (yes, every woman in the class claimed to be a dancer – it seems there is no shortage of ballerinas in New York City).  I was short, clumsy and could no longer see my feet.  They all planned to give birth at  home.  I was worried about getting to the hospital in time.  All of them were seeing midwives.  I was the only one being seen by a medical doctor.  They thought my notions about childbirth were quaint.  I thought theirs were crazy.

 

Still, I went along with the classes.  It was something Hubby felt strongly about.  With the Bradley Method, the father serves as the coach and “leads” the delivery; thereby making him a key player.  I appreciated Hubby’s eagerness to participate, but let’s get real here for a minute.  Unless a man is a doctor, he probably don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ babies.  Also, the Bradley Method discourages medication for pain management.  No, you’re supposed to envision your happy place and breathe into that sensation of passing a watermelon through the eye of a needle.  No drugs.  Let me repeat: No drugs!  In my opinion, the Bradley Method is like Lamaze in army boots…hardcore. No drugs, no doctors, no hospitals.  What was I thinking?

 

My Bradley instructor, a mother of three (all of whom she delivered in her apartment, armed with only a bowl of hot water, cellophane tape and a paper towel), told us to put a birthing plan together and to discuss it with our caregiver.  So, I typed up my plan, my ideal birth, and gave it to my doctor.  Here are just a few of the requirements that I thought would make my experience light and breezy:

 

The lights in the room must be kept dim.

Talking is to be done only when necessary and only in whispers.

Soft music will be played.

No pain medication is to be offered.  If I want it, I’ll ask for it.

 

When I handed it to my obstetrician, she smiled the kind of gentle, knowing smile of a woman who has been in the trenches.  “I’ll do my best to fulfill your wishes,” she promised, “but I want you to understand that sometimes the baby’s birth plan doesn’t quite jive with its mommy’s.”

 

Message received.

 

Fast forward to delivery day.  After I had been in labor for 18 hours, my doctor finally said to me, “We’re not giving out trophies today.  Please consider taking an epidural.”

 

Her tone was more forthright than ever before.  She knew something about me that I hadn’t been able to admit to my husband or myself: I felt peer pressure to do this the new old-fashioned way.  Natural childbirth.  Nearly everyone else in my class had already delivered.  While all of them had successful outcomes (healthy babies), several of the women had to be rushed to hospitals or needed some sort of medical intervention.  Our instructor reported those births to us with a quality of regret in her voice, as if needing help to have a baby was some sort of failure.

 

I looked into my doctor’s eyes and thought about the atmosphere of disappointment connected to the women in my class whose plans fell through.  I wondered if I would be disappointed in myself.  And then I decided that the only thing I really cared about was holding my baby in my arms.  I knew I didn’t really give a rat’s ass what anyone else thought.  I whispered, “F*ck it.  Give me the epidural.”

 

In the end, I needed an emergency C-section anyway.  Indeed, my baby had a very different birth plan.

 

With my second child, it was an entirely different ballgame.  For various and necessary reasons, my doctor wanted to induce me.  We were sitting in her office when she gave me the news.  Then she asked, “What day is good for you this weekend?”

 

“I don’t have much going on.  What about you?

 

“Well,” she said, “I’m supposed to go to a dinner party Saturday night.”

 

“OK, then.  Let’s do it on Saturday morning.  And please have the anesthesiologist ready when I get to the hospital,” I said.  That’s how Child Number 2 came into this world.  Nice and easy.  Civilized.  No drama.  No pain.  No shame.  Was it natural childbirth?  Well yes, because when you think about it, all births are natural unless you’ve cloned something in a fish tank.

 

Now, back to Penny and Dave.  I arrived at the hospital, as Penny’s contractions were getting intense.  A whirlpool bath was prepared for her and as she eased herself into it, its soothing warmth wash the tension from her body.  Her sister, Carole, started dabbing Penny with lavender oil to relax her while Penny’s mother “lit” some flameless candles.  There was gauzy music playing softly in the background.  Any minute now, I thought, a masseuse is going to tiptoe in and offer up some cucumber water and organic almonds.  But the spa atmosphere was actually working.  Penny’s contractions became much more manageable and far less painful.  I will be a naysayer of water labor no more.

 

About half an hour later, Penny got out of the tub and had a quiet conversation with one of the nurses.  She had changed her mind about giving birth in water and decided to take an epidural instead.  Her contractions were picking up steam.  At one point, in the throes of a whopper, she turned to me and groaned, “Make me laugh.  Tell me a joke to distract me.”

 

Seriously?  I wanted to say, “Look lady.  I’m just here to take pictures.  If you’re looking for comedy, you should have asked Jerry Seinfeld to be your photographer.”  Instead, it was the panicked look on my face that gave her the giggles.

 

Within minutes, the most popular man in the maternity ward walked in.  He was very tall, very handsome, and delightfully cheerful.  But he is best-loved because he is the anesthesiologist.  After he gave Penny the goods, we turned down the lights and all of us settled in for a nap.

 

Four hours later, the midwife examined Penny’s progress.  She announced that the main event was about to start, then left to get the nurse.  Penny sat up, turned the lights on over her bed and switched the music from sultry spa favorites to her “pushing” playlist of pulsating party tunes.  Dave, Carole, Penny’s mother and I all stood up and started stretching to shake off our sleep.  Then we started dancing.  Yes, that’s right.  We were dancing to pump up the energy in the room (and who’s kidding whom?  We were suddenly filled with an overabundance of nervous energy).

disco-ball1

In came the midwife and the nurse.  They saw us getting down and getting funky, so they briefly joined in.  This was not what I expected the experience to be like.  It was way better!

 

With our heads cleared and our mom-to-be ready for action, it was time to get down to business.  I grabbed my camera and moved to the head of the bed, Penny’s mother beside me.  On the other side of the bed stood Dave and Carole.

 

Penny took a deep breath and became as focused as a laser beam.  We all fell silent while she took her first push.  The midwife and the nurse did the cheerleading.  The rest of us intuitively knew to keep our mouths shut.  During the resting phases between pushes, Penny became relaxed and chatty.  We were all giddy and smiling.  There was laughter and conversation.  But when it was time to push again, a hush fell over the room and Penny immediately became the laser beam once more.  It was the most fascinating display of maternal instinct, as Penny worked to bring her beautiful healthy boy into the world.

 

I’ll give no further details because the rest was so exquisite and amazing, that it feels too sacred to share.  And, also, I don’t want to make any of my more squeamish readers pass out.  Suffice it to say, I got the shots I needed even though the lighting was problematic, the angles I had to shoot from were not optimal and focusing was a near impossibility with all those joy tears in my eyes.

*All names have been changed.

Springing Out Of Hibernation

With the exception of a few small grimy piles of snow, winter has finally loosened its death grip on Westchester County.  As if Mother Nature were preening for the Spring Equinox, she took a shower last night that lasted long enough to wash away the filthy gray film of rock salt left lingering on our streets for months. 

While walking Fluffy this morning, I noticed that the air actually had the qualities of a living thing.  Yes, it was windy, but there was something else going on.  It was vibrant, energized.  And when I looked up, it seemed to me that the sky was higher than it’s been in a very long time.  Now I know that’s impossible, but I swear to you, that dark and dreary winter sky hung so low I could have reached up and touched it.  Not today.  No sir!  Those big billowy clouds were whiter than a pair of ’60’s go-go boots and soared well beyond my grasp, into the bright blue heavens above.  That might be because it’s the first time since November that I’ve been outside without a hat pulled down to my chin or it may be because I have finally come out of hibernation.

I’m no wimp, but friends I must tell you, this winter damn near killed me.  For starters, I have never been a fan of the cold, but having grown up in the northeastern U.S., it just comes with the territory, literally.  In fact (Warning: big brag alert) the day I was born was the coldest on record and remained so for over 40 years.  With that auspicious beginning, you’d kind of expect me to be something of a natural born ice princess.  Wrong-o!  I hate it and this year was worse than I’ve ever remembered it.  Maybe that’s because, in addition to inhumanely cold temperatures, we also had about 400 feet of snow.  That shouldn’t seem like such a big deal either for a New York girl, but let me assure you, I have long lost my enthusiasm for snow forts, snowball fights, snowmen…I could even go the rest of my life without a Sno-Cone.

I don’t ski anymore either.  Nor do I skate.  So really, what’s there to like about snow and ice?  Yes, it is pretty.  In fact, I would even go so far as to say it is gorgeous.  To look at.  From inside the house.  By the fireplace.  In my sweater and cushy slippers.  With the thermostat jacked up to 75°.  Cradling a steaming cup of coffee in my hands.

Invariably, such picturesque moments would be interrupted by Fluffy, looking up at me with those big brown eyes to say, “My tank is full, Mommy.  I have to go out.”  That’s when my big brown eyes start scanning the house, looking for someone else to walk her.  Most of the time, though, it’s just the two of us.  And so we’d begin our winter reverse striptease.

Me first, then her.

I’d start by pulling pants over the pants I’d already be wearing.  Then I’d wrestle on an extra pair of socks, a fleece vest over my sweater yet under my hoodie, the aforementioned hat over the hood, a scarf, my puffy down jacket (its hood over both the hoodie hood and the hat), boots and, finally gloves.  Then, with the same mobility as a fully bedecked astronaut in zero gravity, I’d dress Fluffy in her harness, faux shearling coat (which she hates), wax her four paws with Musher’s Secret (which I do with my gloved hand inside a baggie – don’t ask), clip on her leash, say a silent prayer (plus a few audible obscenities) and off we’d go into the frigid world.  It would take us almost as long to dress as it would to walk the walk.  And, God forbid, if she took her sweet time, I’d start “encouraging” her: C’mon, baby dog.  Focus.  Let’s go, baby.  Hurry up.  Mommy’s cold.  Go potty, sweet girl!  C’mon.  Hurry up!  GO ALREADY! 

Grouchy pup hates her coat

Perhaps I should mention that when the snow is completely over her head (as it was for most of this winter), Fluffy gets a little nervous.  And when it’s that cold, all the dogs’ pee, that’s been peed before hers, freezes.  That means she can’t smell the smells she needs for “inspiration.”  Therefore, my cheerleading has always done about as much good as telling her to balance my checkbook.  Anyway, I never lose my temper, but I have gotten sort of whiny and I may have even cried a time or two since this winter’s first blizzard.

It was after just such a foray that I received an email from one of my loving neighbors.  Sandra dropped me a line to ask if everything was “alright,” having observed me looking mighty miserable out there.  Well, Sandra, everything’s all right now…because Spring has sprung!  I’m alive again!  I’m down to just two layers of clothing and I’m ready to start writing again!

I think I speak for Spring, as well as for myself, when I say, “Sorry to have been away for so long.  It’s good to be back.”

Youthing

We are constantly being bombarded with anti-aging propaganda and the products to go along with it.  There are anti-aging body lotions, anti-aging brain games…there’s even anti-aging shampoo.  Shampoo?  Unless we’re talking about growing gray, I can’t really grasp the concept of old hair.  How old could a head of hair possibly be anyway?  If we’re striving for baby fine, let me remind you: babies are not known for their fabulous locks.

Fabulous baby hair

Fabulous baby hair

In general, I have a problem with the phrase “anti-aging.”   It sounds so negative, as if aging were a bad thing.  I prefer to say “youthing.”  Doesn’t that sound better?  But none of it really matters because the fact is…and you may want to sit down for this…we are all getting older.

This week, I celebrate another birthday.  I’d be lying if I said I’m unfazed.  The truth is, it’s the first time my number has gotten a little under my skin…my youthing cream-slathered skin.

It doesn’t make any sense because I’ve never felt better (pretty much).  Yes, there was a time when I’d go for a run, followed by a nice long swim.  Now, I don’t see that happening unless a mugger chases me off the side of a cruise ship.  Skipping?  I used to skip down stairs, up stairs, everywhere.  I can still skip, but I don’t look quite as comely doing it as I did when I was 7, so I refrain.  Ok, so everything isn’t exactly what it used to be.  Hell, everything’s not even where it used to be.  But I’m doing great (all things considered).

Thus far, I’ve held my ground and not taken the bait to youthenize myself.  I have no Botox or fillers in my face; nothing has been lifted, or nipped or tucked.  I color my hair, but for the record, I’m barely gray.  Rather, I have a distinct Bride of Frankenstein streak. It doesn’t look any better on me than hers did on her, so who needs it?  My only minor lapse was treating myself to eyelash enhancers.  I loved them until my husband said they weren’t “age appropriate.”  Ouch!  It’s one thing to see yourself as getting older; it’s another to have your loved ones see it…and say it out loud.

When women had little more than cosmetics and hair dye in their youthing arsenal, I think they looked better.  At the very least, they looked like themselves.  These days, when I glance around at women my age, I often see only parts of faces, rather than the whole picture – overblown lips, sculptured noses, and foreheads smooth enough to skate upon.  Everyone is beginning to look weirdly alike.  And women aren’t the only culprits.  Remember how handsome Mickey Rourke and Bruce Jenner used to be?

Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman

Meg Ryan

Meg Ryan

Audrey Hepburn once said, “The beauty of a woman, with passing years, only grows.”  Photos of her, taken later in life, show she was right.  It is encouraging to see other famous woman (and men: think  Denzel Washington and George Clooney) following this philosophy by forgoing the surgeon’s blade.  When you start out looking like Audrey, you’re already way ahead of the game.  Messing up that masterpiece would be like giving the Mona Lisa a brow lift (if she had eyebrows, of course).

Emma Thompson

Emma Thompson

Annette Bening

Annette Bening

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn

Now, I’m no Audrey Hepburn, but I’m still afraid to tinker with what I’ve got.  Does this mean I’m throwing in the towel?  No way.  I still exercise, play tennis, dance, get gussied up, and coat myself in sunscreen every single day.  I try to eat right (the occasional cocktail and dessert notwithstanding) and get plenty of rest because a good night’s sleep is a better friend than diamonds.   Will I ever get a tweak, or have something done?  I’m not sure.  I’ve considered it, and I just might go in for a little tune-up somewhere down the road.  But for now, I’m holding off.

So, until then, let it come.  Let the laugh lines show that I’ve laughed until I’ve cried.  Let the speckles and spots remind me that I had my day in the sun.

I admit it – I am aging.   Accepting that is the gift I’m giving to myself this year.  Happy birthday to me.

Me: Day 1

Me: Day 1

Me: Day 19,345. Better with age?

Me: Day 19,345. Better with age?

Fibs, Lies and Chinese Turkey Rolls

The stuff of dreams.

New parents can be pretty amusing as they rattle off all the things they will never do with their children.  Some declarations are honorable: I’ll never serve fast food to my kids!  Some are sensible but unrealistic: I’ll never let them stay up past ten o’clock on a school night!  Some are control-freaky and horrible: Unless they get straight A’s in high school, I won’t help pay for college!  And then there’s my personal favorite, the sweet: I will never lie to my kids! 

Inside, I chuckle.  After all, how cute that they have such high ideals.  It’s like a four-year-old announcing she’ll invent a time machine when she grows up.  You wouldn’t tell her that time travel isn’t possible because why disabuse someone of a lofty goal?  Also, who knows?  If a kindergartener, back in 1960, told you that you’d be reading this on an all-purpose electronic device that also makes visual phone calls, sends mail, plays movies, and puts all the world’s knowledge at your fingertips, you might have dismissed him with, “That’s very nice, Stevie.  Now go clean your room.”  But he would have been right.

So, I just smile when I hear these assertions that they won’t lie to their kids, because I know that this is actually the very first lie of many, and these parents are telling it to themselves.  For example, somebody bought all those Elf On The Shelf toys last December.  What’s that you say?  You don’t consider that lying?  It’s just a playful fib?  Oh.  I see.

I’m not judging you.  Oh no, no, no!  I just want to give you a teensy little reality check.  And I don’t mean to be a spoilsport.  The truth is, I don’t see anything wrong with traditions that lead children to imaginative play, like believing in magical candy-bearing bunnies, or fairies bartering cash for teeth.  In fact, I love them.  And I concede that there’s certainly a distinction between a fib:  Keep making that face and it will freeze that way, a white lie: The supermarket was completely out of ice cream, and a downright whopper: Your real father is an exiled prince.  For his own safety, and ours, I can’t tell you who he is.

Then there are lies of convenience.  These are the lies we tell to save us time, aggravation, or to avoid an awkward conversation for which we are unprepared.  I knew a mother who, when asked the purpose of a certain feminine hygiene product, told her prepubescent daughter that they were shoe inserts used to prevent sore feet.  Then there was the father who gave such a cursory explanation about the birds and the bees, that his 8-year-old son asked, “Next time mommy lays an egg, can I see it?”

It was one of these convenience lies that sent me on a wild goose chase for nearly 25 years.  Here’s how my odyssey began:

Could you fib to this little face?

When I was a little girl, I wasn’t a terribly fussy eater as long as everything you served me was turkey.  Turkey was my favorite and the only “meat” I’d eat.  No matter where my parents took me, turkey was on the menu (or so they said.  I couldn’t read.).

Once, on a visit to New York City’s Chinatown, we stopped at a restaurant for lunch and my parents ordered for me.  When the food came, I was served a warm, bready, fluffy orb, flat on the bottom, and about the size of a softball.  It was golden brown in color with a delicate sheen to its crust.

“What’s this?” I asked my father.

“Turkey,” he said.

I bit into its soft, chewy exterior to discover the most delicious, sweet, moist turkey I had ever tasted.

Thus began my quest for the elusive Chinese Turkey Roll.

When I became old enough to read, I searched the menu of every Chinese restaurant for turkey rolls.  I never found them.  As an adult, I’d ask waiters, “Do you have those rolls?  You know the ones I mean – they’re soft and kind of shiny?  They have turkey in a sweet sauce inside?”

Waiter: “You mean pork bun.”

Me: “Um, no…not pork.  Turkey.”

Waiter:  “No.  No turkey.  Pork!”

This is how it went every time.  They didn’t have what I wanted, so they’d try to sell me on pork buns.  Even though I’d never had one, I knew pork buns weren’t what I craved.  Give me Chinese turkey rolls or nothing.

I once asked my father if these rolls were some sort of delicacy, or if the restaurant in Chinatown made them as a specialty, or if he remembered the name of the place.

“You want to ask me what we ate for lunch 15 years ago?  I don’t remember what I ate for breakfast today,” was his response.

Fast forward to 1986.  I was working as a research director on Wall Street and living on my own in Brooklyn.  My downstairs neighbor, Olivia, called me one night to invite me for dinner.  When I arrived, a deliciously pungent aroma welcomed me at the door.

Olivia greeted me with a hug, “You’re in for a treat!  I was in Chinatown today and picked up lots of goodies.”

After brewing a nice pot of oolong for us, she served our first course: scallion pancakes.  I’d never had them before, but my taste buds had come a long way since I was little. Now I tried new foods all the time (however, turkey was still my favorite).

The pancakes were crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and had a sweet oniony flavor.  We dipped them in a dark sauce that was salty like soy, but slightly sweet and tangy.  Yum!

Then Olivia brought a platter to the table.  It was piled high with, what looked like, smaller versions of my gastronomic Holy Grail.  But I’d been disappointed before, so I checked my excitement until that first bite.  Gently lifting one to my mouth, and hoping against hope, I took a tentative nibble.  And then I heard the voices of a cherubim’s chorus.

“Olivia!  You have to give me the name of the place where you bought these turkey rolls!”

She tilted her head and gave me a quizzical look, “Turkey rolls?  Those are pork buns.  You can get them anywhere.”

Anywhere?

My ecstasy was tempered by the knowledge that my father’s fiction had deprived me of over two decades’ worth of pork buns.  Add to that the embarrassment I felt replaying all the times I’d grilled restaurant employees about those non-existent rolls (sometimes I did this on dates!).  It’s like going into Home Depot and demanding a flying carpet because you just know they really exist.  And when the salesman tells you there are no such things, you think he’s stupid and he thinks you’re crazy.

So parents, next time you tell that little white lie, please don’t forget to straighten things out somewhere down the road.  Yes, my father fibbed about the turkey.  Was that the end of the world?  No.  Did he inadvertently spare me from years of eating something that, let’s face it, would not have made for the healthiest of diets?  Yes.  And in the grand scheme of things, there are worse outcomes born from parental subterfuge.  I could have been that bride walking down the aisle with panty liners stuffed into her shoes.

I danced all night. Thank you, Stayfree!

I danced all night. Thank you, Stayfree!

My New Lover

I’m going to do some things in today’s post that I’ve never done in this blog before.  For starters, I’m going to tell you what really gets my motor going.  I’m going to get specific.  And I’m going to name names.  Brace.

Women often have to think outside the box to spice things up at home.  Well, I’m no different.  There was something I’d been fantasizing about, craving, and wanting for some time…to bring a pro into our lives.  When I finally got up the nerve to tell my husband, he blanched a little, but ultimately climbed on board and agreed to satisfy my longing.  Of course, I’m referring to the Vitamix Professional Series 750, which I asked Hubby to give me for Christmas.  He balked because it’s a pricey piece of equipment, but you get what you pay for (and, trust me, I am getting my money’s worth).  If you’ve never seen one, well…it’s really sort of a blender, but to call it that diminishes its fabulousness, as far as I’m concerned.

For the record, I’m not hawking this thing or getting paid to mention it.  It’s just that I’m in the mood…to share.

Diamonds, exotic vacations, and fancy cars make some women swoon.  Me?  I go bonkers for scullery gadgets.  I like the aforementioned fine things, too, but gift me with something shiny that plugs into the kitchen, and I get that certain kind of feeling all over.  You would be hard-pressed to come up with a culinary accessory that I don’t own.  I have juicers, stand mixers, pasta machines, espresso makers…all of it.  Oh, and just in case you’re getting ideas, please be advised: I do not share, lend, or otherwise allow the touching of my wares.  So don’t even ask me.

Anywho, before I enter into any committed relationship, I do my research.  I had been lusting after a Vitamix for several years, but since it runs about $700, I really had to want it and want it bad.  What first attracted me was its ability to make things hot (like soup) and cold (like frozen desserts).  How is this even possible?  As part of my investigation, I visited Sur La Table and started poking around.  When approached by the store’s manager, I began pumping him about the Vitamix Pro 750.

“Rather than tell you,” he purred, “Why don’t I show you?”

Uh-oh!  He planned to tantalize me with a demonstration.  Before he even started, I knew I’d be powerless against his seduction.

He produced a stalk of celery, snapped it in half and put it in the container.  Then he whipped out the biggest carrot I’d ever seen in my life.  He cut it into three pieces (just three!!) and placed them with the celery, then added about half a cup of apple juice.  Flipping a switch, the contents were reduced to a liquid within seconds.  I actually, audibly gasped.  Then, just to drive the point home, he let it run a little longer.  The contents became hot and steamy.  He gave me a taste.  It was like a soup my husband loves – a soup that normally takes over an hour to make.  I began daydreaming of all the things I wanted to do with that machine.  My reverie was interrupted when I realized a crowd had formed.  Strangers were watching.  I felt my cheeks get hot and flushed.

Already fully enrapt, I nearly collapsed when he showed me how to clean it.  He filled it half-way with warm water and added two drops of dish soap.  Running the pre-programmed cleaning cycle, which takes just one minute, it was sparkling (needing only to have the suds rinsed out).  No dismantling.  No screwing and unscrewing.  Heaven help me, I was a goner.

Since receiving this magnificent piece of machinery, I have used it every single day.  My All-Clad 7-Qt. Deluxe Slow Cooker is starting to get jealous, but I don’t care.  I’m in love.

Now, I’m going to do the second thing I’ve never done in this blog:  I’m going to give you a recipe.  It’s for my Carrot-Orange Soup, based on a recipe from the original Silver Palate Cookbook.  The ingredients are basically the same, but the proportions and method are mine. Here goes…

Anita's Pro 750 Carrot-Orange Soup

Anita’s Pro 750 Carrot-Orange Soup

 1 tablespoon of butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 large Vidalia onion, peeled and cut in half

4 gigantic carrots, peeled and cut into thirds

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (divided)

1 medium orange

1 cup orange juice

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Options:

 ½ cup toasted papitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)

fresh orange zest

2 teaspoons mild curry powder

1” chunk of fresh ginger (peeled)

Method:

In a large saucepan, heat the oil and butter over medium heat.  While waiting for the butter to melt, place half the stock, onion and carrots into the Vitamix  Pro 750 (if you’re using ginger, throw that in there, too).  Turn the dial to “1” and pulse about 5 times to pulverize the onions and carrots (some chunks might remain.  That’s OK).  Add the carrot/onion blend to the oil/butter mixture (if using curry, stir it in now).  Squeeze in the juice of the orange.  Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Pour the whole kit and caboodle back into the Vitamix, add remaining stock, and run the pre-programmed “soup” function.  When the machine stops running, stir in the orange juice by hand and divide into serving bowls.  Garnish with the orange zest and papitas.  I like to serve it with Glutino gluten-free Cheddar crackers. Makes 4 servings.  If you don’t have a Vitamix Professional Series 750, you’ll just have to get one, ‘cuz you can’t borrow mine.

Nobody’s Perfect

Baby, you’ve got tons of potential.

There’s always room for improvement, right?  But I worry about the state of humankind every time January 1st rolls around.  People begin compiling lists of New Year’s resolutions, and that gets me to twitchin’.  Whether or not I’m a little bit psychic is debatable (see: Madame Fortuna Knows All), but I bet I can predict the Top 5 resolutions on most people’s lists, and in order.  Ready?  Here we go:

  1. Lose weight/get in shape/go to the gym (all basically the same thing)
  2. Quit smoking
  3. Get organized
  4. Be the best _______ (parent, spouse, taxidermist, etc.)
  5. Be happier

If you need assistance achieving these goals, should you remain steadfast in your convictions for longer than a week, there are plenty of resources out there.  On Amazon.com, there are no fewer than 214,733 self-help books and 38,311 self-help videos.  At my local Barnes and Noble, the self-help section consists of 3 huge bookcases, 5 shelves each, packed with titles on being better, getting better, having better…  By my count, that’s a total of 100 million-trillion guides for improving ourselves.  [Full disclosure: I’m no math whiz.]

I’m all for good health so, if you want to get in shape or quit smoking, you have my blessing.  As for the rest of those resolutions, I would suggest you ask yourself the following questions before you start sweating over them:

  • “Am I really disorganized, or is my chaos a representation of my under-appreciated whimsical genius?”
  • “Do I really need to be the best ­­­­at everything?  Can’t I just be good enough?”
  • “Do I really need to be happier?  What is happier, anyway?”

Personally, I resent the self-help industry for its relentless badgering.  Aside from my “being” being nobody else’s bee’s wax but mine, all this focus on our shortcomings, and the efforts to correct them, are counter-productive, in my opinion.

For example, let’s say I’ve convinced myself (through the encouragement of lifestyle gurus on the radio and television) that organizing my clutter will make more time for me (me! ME!), thereby allowing a stress-free life with more opportunity for the pursuit of enjoyable and fulfilling activities (such as cooking classes, Pilates, and navel gazing), all of which will add to my overall general bliss.

Now, how am I supposed to be become more organized if I add gym visits, meditations, and Fondue 101 to my schedule? And won’t gooey, melted cheese make my ass fat?  And when will I get around to reading all those other books about everything else that’s wrong with me?  Can you imagine the amount of time and organization it would take to make more time to organize my organizational meditative happiness?  Um…what?! 

We have become so convinced of our hapless under-achieving, that rectifying our faults and foibles is now big business.  Well, I’m not buying.

If “fixing” each and every person would really make the world a better place in which to live, then let me offer ten self-help tips that will truly improve the quality of this life.  They are easy and don’t require any time commitment:

  1. Hold the door for the person behind you.
  2. Treat waiters and waitresses with respect.
  3. Don’t fart in elevators.
  4. Chew with your mouth closed.
  5. Promptly return what you borrow, particularly money.
  6. Use your car’s horn to alert others of danger, and not as a tool to express your negative emotions.
  7. Eat a salad once in a while.
  8. RSVP for cryin’ out loud!!!!
  9. Keep your promises.
  10. Be kinder…to everyone…especially yourself.

I observe these tips and I’m pretty satisfied with the way I am.  Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by expecting more from me.  This is State-of-the-art Anita.

So, I hope you take comfort and joy in knowing that you don’t need to be perfect, your house doesn’t need to look like a page from Architectural Digest and even the Victoria’s Secrets models don’t look like Victoria’s Secrets models.  So, you don’t have bother trying to either.

And as you embark on 2014, here’s wishing you a perfectly adequate New Year.

Happy New Year from SNORK!