Friday, December 27, 2013

December 27 2013

Christmas is over with and then the New Year looming in our faces.
So we are in sort of a no mans land of celebrations.
If one does celebrate that is.

I wanted it quiet! I got it!
Poor Sabrina came down with  a bad chest cold and could not come out and contaminate us all.
Especially the old mother with lungs made of ersatz.
Grandson Jim and Rhonda came down and we had a nice quiet dinner out and came home to
play a new game. Jim is good at games and just received one for his birthday.
Poor kid was born on the 23rd, he misses out  a bit in the present departments.
While the trio settled down for the competition I quickly said "Goodnight" and crawled in bed.
That took care of Christmas eve.

Christmas day  I did not budge but our good friend Rand came by , his tradition, and we had a nice couple of hours of conversation including Bob. It was pleasant and we are always having something to share from
past years activities. He lives in D.C. Afraid that we may see him sooner this year , his dad is 91 and has a problem with his heart.  I think his visit with his family may not have been the most cheerful .

Boxing day! I got a new Time magazine and again just sat mostly on the couch reading then a phone call.
I may have tubes and mini computers in my ears , 4 grand worth as a matter of fact but on the telephone I hear next to nothing.
I said Hello a dozen times and finally I heard the voice say: It is Janine.
I repeated her name and she said yes.
I said let me run to my other phone.
That is the phone with supposedly hearing capacity with a booster but that does not mean that it works either. With great hopes and my heart pounding I listened to my cousin for 10 minutes.
I understood: "I have a nice kitchen, love the flowers, and the rest were just words flying around and I had no idea what she was talking about....." At the end she said "is it OK?I said yes" No idea to what is ok.

My cousin is two years older than I. Our mothers were sisters. There were many fight5s between the sisters and the 2 mothers had a way of bringing us into the fight. Our relationship was not always smooth.
In adulthood it got a bit better but we still had such a different life style it was sometimes hard to understand each other. She and her brother was all I have left in Belgium. Her brother is my age and has Alzheimer and has been in a rest home for quite awhile. He knows no one she wrote that to me years ago.
I sent her a necklace and long letter 2 years ago and did not get a reply. I did not know if she did not get the letter or she did not feel like writing me just worried me a lot and annoyed me too.
Then last September I get a short letter from her grandson who lives in France and he said here is Janine's address , she is in a residentie per advice of her doctors. Not a word of her condition. He sent a photo and she did not look very healthy, in fact her one shoulder seemed lower and I had the idea that she had a stroke. I sent her flowers. Then letters and cards and I told her not to worry about writing back (because I thought she was unable) . I figured one day her grandson probably would let me know how she was doing or if she had left us for good. I was very sad about  it all.

I sent her flowers for Christmas but the flower shop said they could not let me know if they had been delivered because they were si swamped and had no record of delivery. I told them no delivery then I want a refund. I slumped into my chair thinking the worse.

You can imagine what it was to hear her talking to me. I was so overwhelmed and so in tears and no doubt she could talk very well and probably did not have a stroke because she rattled on and on.
I cursed my ears, my hearing aid and all the words I had missed. I asked Bob is he could trace her number and he said no but after a few seconds he said something came up but I just do not have any idea if it is hers.
I will ask Brie to check it out. It probably is the number of the jerk who called me and said he was
from Publishers House and I called him a liar and hung up. The call was very unprofessional and I knew in an instant it was a fraud.I do not participate with PB. so the jerk called me back and said: Go to hell you Bitch!and hung up. I am thinking we may have his number and not Jeanine's.

I cried for the rest of the day, just tears of joy to know she was still alive and still could babble like before even if I could not hear like before, it was the greatest gift.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Almost Christmas

How I am beginning to dislike the holidays.
Without Bob it just never becomes excited anymore.
I think I will do a rare thing, I will get drunk Christmas eve.
It does not take much.
We go to the Outback, I have ribs and a Grand Marnier that is all it takes
to fall under the table.
My troops will be there, I will make sure and pay my expensive bill.
Go home with the kids for dessert and crawl in bed.

I promised myself that Christmas day I will read and not budge
I may not even do dishes or in the freezer.

Lets get on with this show.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


I am anti war.
I hate it to think that we get involved in so many countries as peacemakers, war makers, nuclear weapons police and on and on. Yet I was liberated in 1945 in Europe ending a brutal war.
I just do not see it all in the whole picture.

BUT...I met a 20 year old the other day.
His mother wanted him to join the army ASAP, he did, not too many choices for this kid,
he came back with a bullet in the shoulder. He was in Afganistan. I bet when he boarded that plane he had no idea where it was located.
I could not help it but admire him.
How do you feel when you are "forced" into a war situation.
How do you feel when suddenly you have to kill or be killed.
By the age of 20 how messed up are you?
Or do you have a clean slate in front of you to have a great life now?

There are thousands of them out there and my heart is very heavy for every one of them.

Friday, December 13, 2013


What You Missed: Vice President Biden Answers Your Questions on Immigration Reform
This week, Vice President Biden and Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the Domestic Policy Council, sat down to answer your questions on immigration during a live Skype event. "At its core, we’re a nation of immigrants,” said the Vice President:
"What we’ve been a rational policy to allow these 11 million people to come out of the shadows and have an opportunity to earn the right to gain their citizenship. And it is not only the morally right thing to do, it’s not only in our interest, it’s a thing that would allow us to continue to grow. And it will save us billions and billions of dollars."

I am an immigrant. I cant to the USA 1955.
I became an American citizen in 1967
I am still a Belgian in my heart. Hard to give up the feeling of the culture I was living in for 21 years.
So how do I feel about Immigration Reform?

I am sure there must have been quite a few "reforms" since 1955.
In 1953 my husband and I had a family ready to sponsor us in the USA.
What did a sponsor do?
They promised to take care of the immigrants in case of financial or legal problems.
It was quite a duty.
We never abused it or ever had to ask for help.
You had to have healthy lungs, no TB.
If you had TB you could NOT enter the USA.
If you had even been talking about communism there was not a chance in hell to get in the USA.
Someone even asked questions to our political status from people who knew us in our hometown.

I had pleurisi whenI was a child and the scars on my lungs almost got me excused from entry till another doctor took a second look at the Xray and affirmed I only had scars from pleurisi.

We went first to Montreal, at that time anyone could get in Canada, they were almost begging for more immigrants. We waited 2 years in Montreal before we did get notice that we could  apply as there were x number of available visas for each country. Italy had the most possible entries then, Belgium very few, (it's a very small country). So we started our journey to and fro the Consulate in Montreal for forms, exams and more forms till we finally received the coveted visa.

How much of this ritual is changed? In our time we did not hear from illegal entries ,perhaps they were here but we did not know about them and would not have tried that route anyway.

Why does a person want to come here?
For me it was all about a dream to be in America. Ever since the GI's came and liberated us I would
talk about nothing else but going to America. I had a steady job with chances of advancement in the same office were my Mom was a bookkeeper. My new husband had work in the firm with his parents.
We had an apartment , a dog and enough left over for a movie or a dance. We were young and dreams for us both still was to live in the USA.

I can well understand that in today's situation, some people want to come here hoping to make a better living, or have more freedom, or various reason. I no longer know how the system works. I do not know how the "legal" way works. Do they still have numbers for every country?

I wanted American children, I have 3, I have 6 grandsons , all are respectable people and I am very proud of them.
I am hoping that people who are here no longer have to hide with false papers, that they can get jobs, drivers licenses, learn the language but not forget their own.
I am hoping that we can all stop seeing colors, religions and respect one other for who we are, human beings.
My son in law can be a stick in the mud about politics but I love what he writes on forms in answer to the question :"what race are you?" He always answers: Human race.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013



In Brussels at the St Nicholas church there is still a shop or two cemented against the church, the way it was eons ago. They tell us the shops were built all against the church at one time. I should Google that and verify but the guide told me that. If I did not tip him enough he probably told me a story.

Anyway St Nicholas dressed as a Bishop comes with Zwarte Piet, a little black boy.
Must research that too.....

I was totally immersed in his being the one who came with his donkey and gave us oranges and sometimes toys depending what financial state we were in.
We left him cookies or bread and a carrot for the donkey, I think we forgot about Zwarte Piet.

I must have been about 4 or 5 when I went to visit him at the Innovation. They had done a superb display made walls look like an ice tunnel, I loved it and my mother would not shut up about all the work they had done. So I looked a bit more intently.
Mother had a thing about dirty clothing, a good thing she did not have a boy. She knitted all my clothing and I had to be always neat or what would people think.
So that afternoon I had my beige knitted coat on with a french beret (knitted) which had a large ponpon on top. I slowly watched st Nicholas talking to the kids and became a bit confused about all the angels around him, angels with lipstick. I know my mother did not wear lipstick so this was odd.
Angels I knew also made St Nicholas 's bed and when they shook it too much then it snowed. Sometimes it was God making his bed, mother did get confused about that issue.

I gingerly crawled on st Nicks lap and gave him a good look and I felt I needed to tell him and my mother that his white gloves were dirty. I do not remember what he answered but I know the angels quickly took me to the place where I could get a gift. I was proud of myself because I thought he should know that his gloves would upset my Mama and I better warn him.


I was 14 3/4 , tall, blonde, and still having the shape of an ironing board for which my mother was very happy. I was all legs and thought I was truly an ugly duck. But slowly I noticed boys looking in my direction in town where I had started to work in a fabric shop and going to evening school. All the boys in our small village knew me so that did not mean anything when they looked but city boys was another matter.
So one day there was to be a st Nicholas parade. I stood in the center of town , corner of Veldstraat and the Koornmarkt and waited for the action to begin. Little brats all around me trying to push me out of the way as they felt I no longer belonged there. I stood my ground. I knew a secret. I had been told by friends that the University guys were all going to be dressed up as St Nick and ruin the parade with their dancing and yelling and whatever they had in mind. I knew this was going to be fun. One float with Mayor passed by and flag people and then about 50 St Nicholas guys with baskets of oranges and chocolates. They came running towards me ignoring the little kids and filled my pockets and arms with goodies. I could feel my cheeks exploding  like they were on fire, I must have been beet red. The Mom's around me shouting to the guys and here I stood. I even had a few kisses.
What fun it was to work downtown, I ran into my store and shared with the owners. They had watched me from across the street and could not wait to tell my mother.
I was in another world at least for a few hours.
By January 1st my mother managed to get me hired in her office, well under her control and eye sight!

My first Christmas away from my Belgian home.

Montreal 1953 Christmas time.

We are here since August.
Made friends with another Belgian couple.
They like us, my ex and I, speak French and Flemish intermixed, we get along.

We found an apartment, a "sous terrain"!
What does that mean?
It means that you do have windows but you only see shoes , dogs, a dandelion in the summer and snow for a whole long time in the winter.
You are the basement.
It is the cheapest apartment in all the buildings.

We do not have furniture.
We bought a mattress and put it on the lovely wood floor.
We loved it.
We found heavy crates somewhere and they were our chairs.
Ex made a table with a sheet of plywood on top of some round gadget he found somewhere. I did not ask questions.
Kitchen had built-in cabinets (new to us) a fridge and a stove!!!!
We were in America, albeit North America. We were en route.

We invited our friends for Christmas eve dinner.
She said: lets play it up big.
I have a lovely gown and you do too lets wear that with pearls.
The men laughed out loud but that we did.
I sat with caution on the wood crate not to get the tulle stuck onto it.

My main attraction was my turkey.
I never made a turkey.
We never talked turkey in Belgium it was always chicken or duck.
Turkey's only lived in America I thought.
I called my adopted Aunt J. and asked what to do with it.
I followed all her directions and of course I was going to make french fries with it.
I had with me my good trustworthy frying pot, I would not leave without it.
It was grey enamel inside and red outside, heavy to lift but I was young then.
I was 21. The pot, fresh oil. and the fries done for the first run were all set in the kitchen.
I figured in an hour the turkey would be done, as per instructions.

We went into was the living room and us girls sat with great gestures onto our boxes while the men sat on the floor and we had a glass of wine, all very nice and civil like. Our mothers back home would be proud of us. (Maybe not mine). Our fun was stopped suddenly with faces in the window, grouched on their knees were 2 firemen and then I heard banging on the door.
Firemen came in and ran for the kitchen door.
Smoke came billowing out in dark, dark clouds.
I freaked out . One man opened the oven door and it looked like the oven became a flame, he quickly covered it with something and took out the turkey.
I remember him saying: Madame votre diner.
Then the sous terrain was filled with Montreal fire department.
My first thought was "how much is this going to cost?"
the first thought of these men must have been about these dames sitting in billowing silks and tulle and not a couch or chair in the joint.
They just all made fun of us and told me that the turkey was ok and just smoked now.
My mistake I had put it on a cookie sheet , the fat had run over the sheet and started to burn in the oven.
Aunt J. forgot to tell me to put in a deep pan and I did not have the brains to figure out that the turkey
might be fat!

The fire chief said they wanted to stay for dinner but other crazy people were putting their trees on fire and they had a lot of work ahead. Their service was free.

They opened the windows and let the smoke out , checked all the rooms and the oven (still able to work)
hugged us girls and ran up the steps to the first floor were richer folk lived.

How could I ever forget my first Christmas away from home. For a short while I was embarrassed then we just turned it into something to laugh about for many years.

Solutions are always available.

I said I will not cook Christmas eve. Period.
I said : " kids you bring whatever you want to eat"
Kids said: OK MOM

rind ring ring.....

Don't you think it would be a good idea if we all go to the Outback?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Macaroni and cheese

Frank said: That was some terrific macaroni and cheese, ask your Mom for the ingredients.

Mom said: Yup, a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
Frank, I love gravies and I try different ones quite often.
I make my white sauce and start from there.
Since I had made such a large pan of macaroni I truly was watching volume so I started my white sauce with a cup of butter, I mixed my milk with cream (like in whipping cream) I kept stirring and then added 2 cups of shredded cheese , mixed, it did not look good enough so I added more cheeses and then I was afraid I would not have enough so added more milk and cream. I had to keep stirring.
I have no idea about recipes. I do by smell, taste and use good stuff!
I could not believe how much of it was gone.
In case you do not make white sauce I make mine with cornstarch or potato starch.
That is how my mother made hers.

I did all this while I was a wreck cause it was the last thing I had to do before I started on the fries and the kitchen was full with man folk.


BOB puts up the tree while I was shopping

Saturday, December 7, 2013

OCD in my house:

Son wrote on Facebook:
Oh good. Red wrapping paper. Not like there's going to be white lines from where you fold it or anything.

It's an OCD xmas.

Artesiana ?

I am not sure how to define this much used name , too lazy to look it up.
For me it is not about the bread or sauces it has to sound of something you make
yourself from scratch and enjoy.

Stop thinking about bread!!!!

I am thinking having sheep on your land, sheering, spinning, dying, knitting.

How much closer can you get to Mother Earth.

Such a lady exists in the UK and I am sure we have them here too (before I get emails with complaints) .
I happen to know about Sue and I am wearing her gloves and now became the price winner of a gorgeous blue shawl, almost a cape, just fabulous, Christmas present.

It is all connected to a lady I will never see in "real" life but has become a friend via the internet for several years. She spoils me with Sue's creation.

Her name reminds me of an Angel.
Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

it's beginning to look like Christmas

Spring, sweater weather : fabulous
Lunch with my bff at Olive Garden : yummy
homecoming surprise : Christmas tree set up and decorated by son: priceless.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Rejoining society

We lived 4 years in Southern Spain. Our girls in high school our baby age 2 , then we decided it was time to come home again. We arrived in NY greeted by our best friends who lived in NJ.
Our well wishers had 3 teen age children.
Immediately the comparison was being made. What is your favorite singer ?
Rhonda beamed and said Cassidy. Giggles and more giggles ...Cassidy was so passe.
Bob and I felt we were in a new era, and that we were.
A trip to the grocery store had me so overwhelmed I could not see it all and rushed out.
My big joy was to find "throw away diapers".
We had left a very small fishing village, and most ladies there went to the creek to do their laundry.
My mother bought me a small portable wash machine after the baby was born and I thought I was in heaven, the envy of the whole populations.
Appliances were very expensive. Only in our second year there did we buy a refrigerator.
We managed very well , no big problem, I went to the market every day and got fresh veggies and fruit and white fish just fresh from the boat. Eggs direct from the farm had huge tasty orange looking yolks.
We had to cook the milk anyway as it was fresh from the goats so who needed a fridge.
The most shocking to us was the way people had changed the dress code and truck driver language.
We moved to NC and there was yet another shock, this was the South, not native California for my husband who loved his Santa Cruz. In the stores I hardly understood the you'all greetings and they sure did not know what to make of this Belgian with an accent.
Settle we did and we stayed here since 1974.

Now I see my son recuperating. Almost 7 years in total has agoraphobia,  and no, it is not about spiders.
He has been in my house 5 years and most times he could not go across the street.
In the last year with medication and help he is now able to drive his car in a radius of about 2 to 3 miles.
So before he does that he has to set his mind to where he will go ,where he needs to turn,, where to park and then see how far he will get into the store to find his Coca Cola. It takes a lot of planing on his part. A lot of steps to avoid which areas COULD give him an anxiety attack and freeze him in the car for hours.
I go out with him as I then get a chance to see what is happening in our little town.
Last night we managed  to go into 3 stores and drive through BK. When we got to the grocery store I gave him money and asked if he could go alone and get me 3 bananas. He froze, that was not anticipated, yet he knew my back was hurting and getting in and out of the car can be a b....He started to walk away, came back, :"Mom, what kind of banana?Yellow, Green, spots?" Will I have enough money ?
I told him what I needed and yes I gave him plenty for 3 bananas.
He came back smiling like Cheshire cat. He said : I never bought a banana before in my life.
(I hates them) and I have no idea if bananas are 1.00 each or 5.00 a lb? In fact, he said, I have no idea what anything costs in a grocery store. I am so out of "this" world. I know eBay and Amazon and how much my jeans cost. I buy my T shirts on sale on line, usually with something to be read. I know how much my school costs last year. I know my phone price. I just do not know this place anymore. It is scrary!

When I heard him explain every move he did and how much of it had to be examined and accepted within his mind, I remembered how we felt returning from Spain but it was all a new and fun experience, not for him, every move he makes he has to follow steps for his re-entry. At least  every 100 yards he does more
are a victory, every new store he can walk in is another step forward. When he will ever go into a Wallmart or a Mall is up to his negotiations with himself. I am here with him every step of the way.
If you know someone with agoraphobia please have patience to understand him or her.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


While I am happy with most changes this past year, such as Bob's progressive healing but my heart and soul belongs to Zack recuperation and his great health. I can't stop hugging him.
He has more tests tomorrow but this is for skin rash. Or psoriasis.
Having lived with psoriasis since 1968 I know it's a bitch but there are more medicine now.
I refuses to take more meds, I have one kidney left and I need to baby that one.
Zack is fine, strong, and still my baby. Well..grand baby!!!!

Did you go and shop right after the turkey and went with the mob to the stores?

No, I did not, replied Rhonda.

I found a new way for excitement I went to the ER with my son to find out I had shingles.
I made Belgian Truffles and cream puffs for Mom's dinner and son made a big salad.

I had pills and later a salad with a truffle.

Happy Thanksgiving day!!!!!!

Thanksgiving 2013

Memo to myself:

Do not cook for the whole gang again.
repeat this message for 2014 if I am still here.

Next get together every one brings a contribution of some delectable goodies.
 I will sit in my chair watching Judge Judy.

I think I am 60 again and it is not happening.