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Posts Tagged ‘Mummy’

Well, yesterday was a glorious day.  Yim and I had Prantl’s burnt almond torte for breakfast with coffee.  It was left over from Yim‘s birthday celebration on Tuesday.  After breakfast we ran a couple of errands together.  We went to Home Depot for anchors and to Market District for lunch meat, rolls, Gerolsteiner and . . . Kennywood tickets!  (Yimmy loves it when I refer to Giant Eagle as Market District!  But, hey, my friend Alyssa calls it Hot Man Mecca!)

While I made a picnic lunch for us, Yimmy re-mounted my mailbox on the front of the house.  I’d given the mailbox a shiny new coat of black paint.  Incidentally, the mail has already come today, and the mailman opened the screen door and dropped the mail inside again, without any notice whatsoever of my newly painted and mounted box.

Once the chores were done and the picnic lunch was packed, Yim and I headed out to Kennywood.  The weather was phenomenal; clear, bright blue sky, dry warmth under the sun with wispy high clouds up above and a cool air circulating just enough so that one never felt uncomfortably hot.  The occasion was Yim‘s boy’s school Kennywood day and all three of his boys went there with their mother.  We shared the responsibility with her, trading off between the older and the younger so that everyone had the opportunity to ride.

Throughout the day Yim and I were prone to our own memories of childhood days spent running the park, from ride to ride, with our friends.  We didn’t leave until the park closed at 10pm and when we got home I collapsed on my bed, feeling the same satisfied exhaustion as I did at the end of a day back when I was 9 years old and had spent the hours running, laughing, riding and eating funnel cakes with Elisabeth.  I fell to sleep fast, with physical heaviness but mental levity, dreaming of all good things.

And so it was a great day, but there is more!

Yesterday marked the last day in the house of the Earth sign Taurus, which, other than my own Capricornian sign, I love the most.  It seems that so many of my favorite people have been born under the sign of the Bull:  Zia, Lord Mycol, Yim, and my brother, Rock.  If you follow the philosophy of the stars, it’s no wonder why.  Consider the following:

The Taurus and Capricorn combination is considered to be one of the best astrological combinations. When they unite there is a union of similar and positive creative forces and a subtle but powerful physical attraction. They understand each other’s weaknesses and strengths perfectly and act accordingly. Since both require a certain amount of acknowledgment of their positive qualities they do the same for each other. They fulfill each other emotionally, physically, intellectually and financially. Saturn and Venus the ruling planet of Capricorn and Taurus respectively complement each other. Taurus loves money and Capricorn wants security and sees financial stability as a way of security. Both are practical, sensual and calculative. They believe in hard work and success. So nothing can be better than this!!

Also, yesterday was, indeed, Rock’s birthday.

Before I get into wishing Rock a belated birthday I’d like to point out that I seem to have developed a habit of birthday posting, which puts a new kind of pressure on a person.  I no longer merely have to remember to check the calendar and get a card off in the mail, but now I must come up with some sort of brilliant tribute to the ones I love, lest any of them feel jilted.  This all started with a ridiculously fun post I wrote, a roast post, if you will, for the birthday of Elisabeth’s husband Dag.  It was one of the easiest and most fun things I’ve written to date.  On that day my blog stats reached their highest rating.  This created a two-fold reason to continue writing birthday blogs: 1) so as not to offend the others, hahaha, and 2) to strive towards beating my personal best where my stats are concerned (I’m talking about daily readership, folks).  This week I won some and lost some.  Let me put it to you this way; I beat my personal best on Tuesday, May 18th with “Feelin’ Good”.  That’s right, Dag, my post for Yim surpassed my post for you!  If I were a statistician I’d tell you by what percent.  On the other hand, I failed to put up a post for one of my most cherished Taureans, my brother Rock.  And so, short and late as it may be, without further adieu . . .

I’d like to tell you all the truth about how I feel about my brother.  I used to wish he was a sister!  I remember telling my mother that I wanted a playmate.  In my recollection of the past, like she’d waved a magic wand to grant my wish, the next thing I knew was that she’d gotten herself pregnant with a playmate exclusively for my sake.  Imagine my utter horror when, after months of giddy anticipation, she came home from the hospital with a boy-child!  What had gone wrong?  It went down like this:

One day my mother was so swollen with pregnancy that she could not find the energy to play with me.  I had no one else to play with at all.  I played imaginary games all by myself with my wooden farm set on the coffee table while she lie big on the sofa with heavy eyelids.  Then, in the dark of night in the middle of a spring rain, we had to leave the house.  There was a mild urgency – do you understand that? From the back seat on the way to my grandparents’ house I peered at blurry street lights through the rain drops on the windshield, glowing white, red, yellow, green, intermittently through the slash of the wipers.

It was likely 4 days later when Mummy returned from the hospital.  It was a sunny spring afternoon.  My grandparents lived in a 3 story large Victorian house and my mother came in through the back door to the sun-lit kitchen carrying the swaddled babe.  The excitement and joy expressed by those around me could not befog the circumstance.  There’d been a dirty trick played and this was not my requested playmate.  As I ran up the dramatic staircase in the entry hall, I stopped two-thirds of the way up, stuck my little head over the banister and screamed past the chandelier, “Why didn’t you tell the doctor we wanted a girl?!”

Oh, the follies of youth.  I’d like to tell you now that I would have it no other way than to have my playmate be my brother Rock.  Despite a fight here and there we got along marvelously.  I love him so much.

In the winter time when we were confined to playing indoors a lot, we used to take his crib mattress and prop it against the bedroom wall.  We mimicked Muhammed Ali and Leon Spinks, sparring with the mattress, fancy-footing around the room and sticking our faces in the mist from the humidifier for the dramatic effect of profuse sweating.

We have been playing together since he could walk and talk and the fun has never come to an end.  There is only one person in the world who really understands what my childhood experience was all about and that is him.  And vice versa.

Still, I did dress him up as a girl and call him Rebecca for about 4 years, until Mummy made me stop.  There is photographic evidence to support this claim.  I suppose you’re wondering which years, as from 12 to 16 would be rather strange, huh?  Don’t worry, he was hardly big enough to defend himself.

I called my brother yesterday and wished him a Happy Birthday and he told me it was his second best to date, the first best being the day he was actually born.  I am so glad his wishes came true.  He met one of his idols, Dave Matthews, who, ironically, shares his birthday with mine.  You see how Taureans and Capricorns love each other?  Rock and his wife, Luvy, were granted a backstage audience (with photos) with Dave, Tim Reynolds and Jane Goodall before enjoying the show up close.  An ecstatic experience for my brother and I am happy for him.

Happy Birthday, Rock!  I love you, brother!

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3 Little Brown Eggs

I am sitting here at my desk listening to a morning dove coo outside my window.  The windows are shut because even thought the sun is shining brightly, it is extremely cold outside.  I am eating leftover jelly beans from Easter because I am starving and there is nothing already made to eat in the house and I don’t feel much like cooking.  I just ate a pear flavored jelly bean and that is my absolute favorite flavor.  Lord Mycol has left for work and the house is empty, quiet.  I am daydreaming about my ideal situation.  Where the blog is concerned, I’d ideally like to log in to my account and see that nearly everyone has left a comment for me.  It’s validating.  Most days, though, I struggle to get more people to visit in the first place, let alone comment.  Of all the visitors that click by, how do I even know how many of them actually read the article I posted?  Sometimes the truth is just that I am tired of coming up with new and interesting things to write about.  Any suggestions?

My Zia has told me that when I was a little baby she held me sitting on her lap.  In those ancient times babies were still wearing diapers made from natural fibers, like cotton.  Mothers had to wash them and dry them every time they were soiled.  Children were potty trained nearly as soon as they could walk.  So there I sat in Zia’s lap without a diaper at all.  When she picked me up she saw that I had laid 3 little brown eggs in her lap.

When I was 3 years old I named one of my baby dolls Diarrhea.

My brother and I used to fight like cats and dogs sometimes.  When he was smaller than me and I would torture him, adults used to warn me that when he grew up the tables would turn.  The tables did turn by the time he was 8 years old.  He was like the Tasmanian Devil when he got mad.  A raging bull.  I would fight with him to a certain point and then it became a game of survival for me.  I had to lock myself in the bathroom, the only room with a locking door, to protect myself.  And his rage lasted for hours!  I got tired of being a bathroom shut-in!  At some point I figured on how to lock him out of the house instead.  When from the other side of the door he told me that he had to go to the bathroom, the very room that used to be my refuge from slaughter, and pleaded with me to let him in to use the toilet, I sympathized and truce-fully opened up.  And I got pummeled.  But then there was the time.  As in, “Remember the time when . . .?”  The time when I locked him out of the house again and he begged me to let him back in to go to the bathroom again.  “Go outside,” I said.  But he said he had to go ‘number 2’.  “So what,” I said, not believing him.  “Go outside!”  And seemingly with no other choice, he did.  We had a fairly private back yard.  Our dog didn’t seem to mind.  But that evening when we sat down to dinner with Mummy, she asked that question that all good children dread to hear; “Okay, which one of you pooped outside?”  And we simultaneously pointed at each other.  Who knew adults could tell the difference between dog and human poop?  Then Mummy made poor Rock go and cover up his mess with dirt, just like a cat!  And that is how we used to fight like cats and dogs.

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Pick Me Up

Two weeks ago I made strawberry tiramisu for Zia’s birthday.  Click the link for the recipe.  It tasted great and I didn’t use any high fructose corn syrup!  Here’s how it looked . . .

The plastic forks were used to hold the plastic wrap above the strawberries.

I know one person who is salivating enviously, but I shall not name any names!  If you think you are the one, let me know in comments and if you are right, I’ll confirm.   😉

Then, for Lord Mycol’s birthday, I made a lemon cloud tart with blackberry compote.

I’ve always loved making desserts.  In fact, I learned to bake before I learned to cook, however, neither of the desserts shown here require any baking!

Maybe you made something yummy for your mummy today?  I hope so!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the dedicated moms in the world today!

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Italian Potato Dumplings

The main event the day before Easter was the gnocchi.  Gnocchi has long been a favorite dish in our family, made ever more desirable by the fact that it takes a day of labor to provide the hungry with about a half an hour of devouring the scrumptious dumplings until they are but a memory one is left longing for until the next time.

(Are you tired of Easter posts already?  Well, life takes precedent over writing a daily journal, uploading photos to share, and organizing said journal and photos into a comprehensive article that can be shared with the interested and dearly loved.  Certainly the dearly loved still anticipate a recap of the holiday, yes?)

Zia got started early at her own place and then UB chauffeured her down to the Estate where she continued to work.

For those who don’t know, gnocchi are Italian potato dumplings.  Here Zia is removing the skins from the boiled potatoes.  It is essential to use a good potato like an Idaho.  Nonna always insisted upon “eee-da-ho patate.”  Speaking of Nonna, all of my life I can remember yearning for her gnocchi, but you know, as with any pasta dish, it is the sauce that makes or breaks it.  Without a good sauce, you cannot clinch the blue ribbon.  Fortunately, Zia mastered the sauce before Nonna died and we are still able to enjoy our traditional Italian dishes just the way she used to make them.  Also, while Zia made the gnocchi we all conversed about Nonna and Tata.  When we are all together and collectively remembering them and talking about them, that is exactly when they are still with us.  And why wouldn’t they be?  In my opinion, that is the meaning of eternal life; i.e., that when you have lived, laughed, and loved well, you will live on as long as the lives you touched are still feeling the effects of your existence.

When Nonna was alive, she taught me to make gnocchi.  Zia taught Rock to make gnocchi.  But if Zia is around and there is gnocchi to be made, you’ll be lucky if she lets you help.  Yim asked her to teach him for my birthday dinner, but she mainly made him watch!  This time, though, she put Luvy to work.

Once the potatoes have cooled and are peeled, they are pushed through a ricer.

On the night that Luvy went into labor with Rockwell, we were all together at their house.  That day, while Luvy and Rock were at work, Zia, Mummy, and I made gnocchi.  We were sure that baby was going to come sometime soon and we were in a celebratory mood.  By the time Luvy got home from work the table was set with heaping bowls of gnocchi ready to be eaten.  But Luvy went straight to her room to lie down.  By the time Rock got home from work and checked on her, she was moaning in pain.  Rock came out of their bedroom and announced that we’d better eat quick.  That little baby smelled our gnocchi and was trying to push his way out.  Of course Zia let Gnocchi Rocky help, as well.

Once the dumplings were made there was time to relax, regroup, and do the dishes.  Rockwell watched a video while the womenfolks set the table.

The day stretched on towards mealtime and we gathered to the feast.

When Zia and I host an Italian Ladies Social Club get-together, we should make gnocchi.  But half of the members are going dairy-free vegan on me.  I may be forced to serve lettuce and wine.

After dinner the menfolk sat around looking at YouTube while the gals colored Easter eggs with Rockwell.

A late evening banana makes for a good night’s sleep for little Rockwell.

And everyone dreamt of the baskets filled with chocolate goodies the Easter bunny would leave that night.

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Some of you have expressed an interest in hearing about our Easter holiday.  Wearing a polar fleece jacket and looking out my window at the cool and rainy spring day outside, I realize even more what a great holiday it was.

First of all, the rally of kith and kin was much-anticipated, as we’d not been able to muster a complete reunion in over a year’s time.  And most recently it had been a planned, then cancelled, then planned, then cancelled event, mainly due to snow, work schedules, and tons of more snow.  So when the MD crew arrived at the Estate on April Fool’s Day, it was no joke!  We broke out the good stuff!

Once everyone’s luggage was out of the trunk, we headed to the playground for Rockwell’s sake.  He’d been in the car seat a little too long.  Everyone loves the playground, even Grand Mere.  This one is on the property of Lord Mycol’s old elementary school; we’ve spent lots of time having fun there over the years.

Then it was back to the Estate for dinner.  Brother Rock brought up a sack full of Martha’s Vineyard oysters to kick off the weekend of revelry and celebration of the erection!  Er, uh, resurrection.  After all, “Oysters are amatory food,” said Lord Byron.

Get a load of these two shuckers:

Oysters for Easter. . . well, not quite.  Oysters have been cultivated since long before the Christian era.  Just like Roman emperors, we feasted on the fresh bi-valves with a dash of pepper and a drop of lemon juice.  And chew!  He was a bold man that first ate an oyster. — Swift

We ate every last one and I have to admit, I enjoyed them more than I ever had before.

Oysters by Jonathan Swift

Charming oysters I cry:
My masters, come buy,
So plump and so fresh,
So sweet is their flesh,
No Colchester oyster
Is sweeter and moister:
Your stomach they settle,
And rouse up your mettle:
They’ll make you a dad
Of a lass or a lad;
And madam your wife
They’ll please to the life;
Be she barren, be she old,
Be she slut, or be she scold,
Eat my oysters, and lie near her,
She’ll be fruitful, never fear her.

A day later, Good Friday, everyone was full of energy and excited to get out and play in the beautiful weather.  I was anxious to have Rockwell as a guest so that I could share with him some of the fun things Lord Mycol and I used to do when he was young.  I suggested we take Rockwell and his bicycle to the trail at Panther Hollow, where he could race the wind on the open dirt road.  Naturally, it was the one day I left my camera behind and can only tell you in words how he flew fearlessly ahead of his family, seeming to forget for fleeting moments that we existed.

At the pond, Rockwell became an explorer, hopped off his bike, carelessly abandoned it, and walked under the stone foot bridge to throw pebbles in the moving creek below.  I believe that Lord Mycol was with me, daydreaming of a time when he, too, was small enough to explore the trail, creek, and woods with wonder.

We finished the day gathered at the table dining on the freshest halibut you could possibly imagine, compliments of brother Rock, who also did the preparations.  Sadly, no pictures exist of our Good Friday, but I assure you, it was Good!  On the other hand, I have loads of shots from the rest of the weekend, so stay tuned.

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Ahh, I see you are wondering what has happened to the three Santucci’s. Well, I won’t tell you just yet. For now, let’s get back to business.
We left Coronado and San Diego on August 10th. Some stress had begun to build up since Las Vegas. Did I mention how civilization slapped us in the face like a rude SOB? The traffic, the pollution, the crowds. The natural world is EASY to get used to. A week away from all the chaos of city life had me hooked. Even though I’ve always considered myself a city girl. Which makes me wonder, how long would I actually last if I changed things up and became a woodswoman? The point is, driving into Vegas there was a lot of construction, it was late, it was dark, I was tired. We were all tired. And from there we went to San Diego. Paradise, sure, but not exactly relaxing enough. Now, from San Diego our trek was to take us up the coast to Oakland, where we’d stay with Mummy’s friend Jenny. We had to pass by Los Angeles and Mummy thought she’d like to stop in for a short visit with some of her friends from the firm she used to work for. They have a showroom in Santa Monica, I think. Well, it was Friday and I don’t think it even matters what time we left because it seems that rush hour lasts just about all day between San Diego and L.A., especially on a Friday! So what SHOULD take 3 hours ended up taking 7!!!! I had definitely noticed the increased number of tourists in Coronado when I was there, and I certainly don’t remember this kind of traffic 13 years ago. But that said, we did not make it in time for Mummy to visit her friends at the showroom. And she was audibly upset about it. By that I mean I got the silent treatment from her and I could hear the serated edge of the knife cutting through the tension in the air. And once again we found ourselves driving late into the night, tired, no room at the inns we first sought out, necessary to go another 30 mintues north and keep our fingers crossed. We stayed just north of Magic Mountain and headed to Jenny’s the next day. And this is what I first noticed in Jenny’s guest room, where I went directly for a nap after the delicious luncheon she prepared for our arrival:

Okay, I think George Clooney is absolutely gorgeous. But that’s not why I picked up the magazine and took it to show Mummy. The reason is because George Clooney has an uncanny resemblance to my grandmother. Hey, don’t get the wrong idea! My grandmother was a beautiful woman. Seriously, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL woman in her hometown in Italy. And everybody knew it. Just imagine George in a feminine way. Cross him with Salma Hayek and you’ll get the picture. So, I show my mom that a sign from Nonna was waiting in the guest room at Jenny’s and she reminds me that the day before, August 10th, was the 2 year anniversary of Nonna’s death. AND I HAD FORGOTTEN! And THAT was what was REALLY bothering Mummy all day. I felt soo bad. But she said she didn’t want to mention it because it was better not to get sad. We think of her all the time, everyday, when we aren’t on vacation. She knows we love her and miss her. See, I’m getting sad anyway. So…..
Jenny’s granddaughters were performing that night in an obon festival. It was serendipitous.

The 13th through 16th of August is called obon in Japan. Obon is a Buddhist event and is one of the most important traditions for Japanese people. It is the period of praying for the repose of the souls of one’s ancestors. People believe that their ancestors’ spirits come back to their homes to be reunited with their family during obon.
People clean their houses and offer a variety of food such as vegetables and fruits to the spirits of ancestors in front of butsudan (Buddhist families altar). Butsudan is decorated with flower and chouchin (paper lanterns). On the 13th, chouchin are lit inside houses, and people go to their family’s graves to call their ancestors’ spirits back home. It’s called mukaebon. In some regions, fires called mukaebi are lit at the entrances to homes to guide the ancestor’s spirits.
Hey, is that the Karate Kid or Matt Lu?

Here are Jenny’s beautiful granddaughters:

The festival was so neat, I couldn’t stop taking pictures. The traditional dresses were so colorful and the dancers ranged in age probably from 2 to 85.

Afterwards, we went out to dinner with Jenny, her son, and his girlfriend.
One thing we really hadn’t had a lot of on the road was good food. Between Pittsburgh and San Diego the best thing we ate was bought from the grocery store in Colorado at a Safeway. We bought hard rolls, turkey and the BEST EVER salami from the deli and had picnic sandwiches with mayonnaise. I’m tellin’ you, the BEST EVER salami! In San Diego, Mycol and I had a great breakfast downtown around the corner from the hotel. He had a sausage omelet and I had one with mushrooms and squash blossoms. Both were served with a side of refried black beans in a corn tortilla shell. Mummy missed out on that one, but we brought her some leftovers. So Jenny’s luncheon was the first excellent home-cooked meal we had. She served soup with fish and shrimp, and a lentil salad. And a nice red wine from Trader Joe’s that I should remember the name of, oh wait, she called it something like “ol’ Chuck” as a joke. So eating out after the festival at a chinese restaurant was our second good meal in 48 hours after searching the expanse of the country for something good to eat in a restaurant. (Oh, shit, I’m lying! The lunch I had at the Highway Restaurant in Albia, Illinois was pretty good. Standard BLT and a cup of excellent soup of the day, something with beef and cabbage in it. And of course, we avoided fine dining across the country to save money). When Jenny took us into Berkeley the next day to have my oil changed, shop at REI, and eat lunch at ANOTHER good place to eat, it almost overwhelmed us. We started to remember the good things about city life all over again. We had lunch at an Indian restaurant and filled up on curry, nan, saag, etc.

That’s Jenny with Mycol and me. The name of the restaurant reminded me of my friend Raj. His little girl’s name is Priya.

At REI I bought a sleeping pad and a sleeping bag for Mycol. I wanted our next night in the elements to be WARMER. Jenny knows all about that, she camps a lot! We had a great time at her place, very comfortable. It was fantastic to stay with a friend for the first time in a week. Life on the road can be tough. But we had to move on. Stay tuned for our next stop. Northern California, here we come!

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Coronado

The following post comes to you from in front of my tepee on the Continental Divide! We are in Glen, Montana tonight and ABSOLUTELY LOVING IT!!!!
(Pictures to follow)




For those of you who don’t know or remember, once upon a time I lived in Coronado, which is an island across the bay from downtown San Diego. I was stationed at North Island, a Naval station on Coronado. That’s where I fixed the electrical components of helicopters and aircraft attached to the base. Mycol was born in Balboa Naval Hospital and our first home was on Coronado. Coronado is an upscale community and we lived in a duplex behind one of the bigger houses on H Street. Mycol hasn’t been back to see his origins since he was 2 years old, so it was great to show him around.
Here’s Mummy’s new car:

This is the surf shop we used to go to. I bought Mycol some new gear in there, plus a shirt for me.

Here’s the front entrance to our old place. I knocked on the door because it seemed like someone was home, but nobody answered. I really wanted to go in and show Mycol the apartment.

Here’s our upstairs neighbor, Connie! I was so glad to see that she’s still there. Her and her daughter, Kirsten, who was 12 at the time, used to babysit Mycol for me sometimes. Kirsten made a cross-stitch for Mycol with his name on it that he still has in his bedroom!

We had to walk up between the houses to the street side to get our mail. Our address was 829 1/2 H Street.

This is across the street from us. Our neighborhood, where I used to walk Mycol up and down in the stroller.

Here’s the liquor store my ex-husband financed.

The Hotel Del Coronado was right down the street from our apartment. We used to walk to the beach.


And here is where you can STILL get a GREAT carne asado!! We loved it!

So, the BIG QUESTION IS: WHY DID WE EVER LEAVE????????
Stay tuned……next stop, Oakland, CA.

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