The Cold War: Cliff’s Notes for millennials

As always, Mr. Kelley is very insightful and spot on accurate. I’m betting you can put names to each persona type from each era.

The 'Lancer

If you came of age after 1990, I’m not sure what the Cold War (traditionally 1946-1990) means to you. I can speculate:

  • A past period in which people somehow got by and had fun (if one can call it that without computers and cell phones) in spite of knowing that, at any minute, everyone might learn that their world could have twenty minutes to live.
  • A weird time full of fallout shelters, black-and-white duck-and-cover films in school, conscription (which means when you turn 18, it’s either go to college and be in the military later, or just get it over with now), and anti-Communist hysteria.
  • Nothing at all, since it’s before your time, and history is boring.

In fact, it is your time. Control of nuclear weapons technology is looser than it was during the Cold War. The threat of nuclear mines is greater than ever. The bomb doesn’t have to…

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From the guest’s point of view

I have been to more weddings in the last calendar year than in the previous five years combined.  They have either been young folks; children of friends, getting on the carousel for the first time, or dear friends getting back up on the horse for another try.

I, of course, was one of them and being that I’m an old, experience, been-around-the-block-already bride, not some nuptial n00b who’s “Been dreaming about this day since I was little.”, and when I hear that, all I have to say is “Wow”.  I had no idea that you two had known each other that long.  Oh.  You haven’t?  I get it, we already know it’s all about you, not the two of you or your impending commitment.  What is wrong with these young women?

Oh, I know, nowadays it’s about the excessive pageantry and how much money you can either guilt your parents to blow out of their 401k or how much debt you intend to rack up because that’s the perfect platform on which to launch a lifetime of love and happiness.  No thanks.  The older I get the more I’d rather see digits on the bank statement then stuff I have to take care of.  So now I get to make some comments with my cranky pants on because this is my blog and I’ll do as I darn well please.  Yes Ma’am.

Tip #1:  If you must speak of it, speak well.

It’s your wedding.  Do what you want.  Don’t do what you don’t want to do.  Especially don’t whine or complain on Twitter or Facebook.  In the event that your guests are also your social media pals, it’s really nerve wracking for us, who then anticipate the horror that you are making this event out to be.  If your wedding planning is turning into a nightmare, then cancel it and go to City Hall.  You won’t get quite the haul of loot, but I for one would then send a gift anyway in gratitude just to not have to see your willyjabbering updates.

Tip #2:  Have a reasonable number of attendants.

Here in the great state of the mighty MO, each Marriage License must be witnessed by two people.  That is an indication of how many attendants you really need.  Blame for over staffing the Altar goes both ways.  Either a sweet Bride that doesn’t want anyone upset and says yes to everyone who says “Oh!  I want to be in the wedding!”  Well, that’s nice.  You will be in the wedding.  As a guest.  How about that?

The flip side is the ridiculousness of this Bridemaids Fail.  Eighty maids of Honor?  Are you shitting me?  If you know 80 females that will be butt hurt if you don’t ask them to be part of the wedding party, then you need about 78 new friends.  Talk about peer pressure.  Which one of these girls and/or their parents could say ‘no’ and be the only one left out?  Is the Bride so vain that she needs the equivalent of the cast of a Broadway show to feel special?  I’m guessing yes.

The old rule of thumb still applies;  After the Best Man and the Maid of Honor, one additional attendant on each side per fifty guests.  Besides, if you really knew the origins for attendants at weddings, you wouldn’t have any.

Tip #3:  Behave during the ceremony.

You are on the altar of a church.  Act like it.  You and your beloved are standing up before God and all declaring your intention of maintaining a lifelong commitment to each other.  Pay attention to the Officiant FFS.  It’s aggravating to your guests when they are trying to pay attention and you are being disrespectful to the Preacher who spent his time preparing for your ceremony when you lean in, giggling and talking to each other instead of focusing on what you are doing!

As far as that goes, don’t get too cute departing either.  It will most likely not appear to your guests as cute as you thought it would in your head. Remember, you are still in a Church, people.  You trying to twerk or your newly minted husband donning sunglasses and throwing gang signs as you exit the altar just makes people think, “OMG, these two are way too immature to be getting married.”

Tip #4:  Skip the “Wedding favor”

Seriously, we don’t need a wedding favor.  I won’t plant the seed packet you give me, or use the single initialed and dated plastic flute you filled with colorful confetti and that monogrammed package of tissues that you found at Hobby Lobby and used your weekly 40% off coupon; it will go in the back of a drawer to be tossed sometime in the next ten years.  You send thank you notes afterwards for a reason.  We don’t need a prize for showing up to eat your food and drink your booze.  Give me a decent meal and some cake.  That’s all I ask.

Tip #5:  And speaking of the food.

That’s what I’ll remember.  I won’t remember your handwritten vows that you agonized over because even with the Pastor ‘miced up’, I can barely hear what you said anyway.  I won’t remember your bouquet or shoes, what the Maids wore (unless it was especially horrific), whether you had an aisle runner, what the DJ played or your centerpieces.

I will remember what you did or did not serve at the reception.  Doesn’t need to be fancy.  Actually, please keep it simple, fancy almost always turns out poorly.  I don’t care who you are, when you are cooking for 100+, at least one batch is not going to turn out right.  If the scallops on my plate are tough, the lobster rubbery or the beef is underdone, the caterer was in over their head and you’ve paid for bad food.  No refunds.  Boo!

One of the best receptions I attended this year was catered by a local grocery store and knowing the Bride’s father like I do, I know he didn’t go over $10 a head.  I will remember that pork loin for a long time, it was delicious.  Keep it simple and pick something that’s hard to mess up.

The last word on food is have a cake.  I’m not joking.  I go to a wedding and I expect a good white cake.  I don’t want a cupcake that I have to scrape most of the frosting off in order to eat it.  I’m all about getting a very nice two-tier cake for show; cut the bottom layer for the bride and groom and family, save the top to eat all freezer burnt next year.  I’m 100% okay with having a good sheet cake cut and served next to the fancy one.  Don’t serve a cookie buffet instead either.  That’s just tacky and everyone knows you did it to because you didn’t budget well and spent too much elsewhere.  Let us eat cake!

TIp #6: Greet your guests.

Yes, each and every one.  I don’t know how this bit of etiquette got lost, but it’s just rude if you don’t and no, the receiving line does NOT count.  I agree that this is a party and everyone, including the Bride and Groom should have a good time, but when I see you both getting a head start on getting hammered in a little clique with your friends instead of circulating among your guests between the toasts and the first dance, it really gets my panties in a knot.

Respect the fact that people who had better things to do have given up a substantial part of their day to celebrate with you.  Show them that you give a rats behind by saying hello and thanking them personally.  Go table to table early, as soon as you finish your meal and spending just a minute or two on the 8-10 people seated at each table and you will cover your butt.   Ten tables at two minutes each is twenty minutes, you can do this!  Your Great Aunt Mable, Cousin Alfred and his family will appreciate it.

Tip #7: Don’t disappear.

Grandpa’s second cousin may need to leave early because his oxygen tank is running out, so be visible and available until most of the older, and by older I mean anyone over 40 or with small children, have left.

I understand a bathroom break will take a few extra minutes for you, new Mrs., what with having to find someone to hold your dress and then wrestling your Spanx back up and making sure no part of your bustle or train hit the bowl or got tucked in anywhere inappropriate.  If your guests need to leave, they shouldn’t have to wait more than 10 minutes for you to reappear.  When you disappear and Junior is getting cranky because it’s past his bedtime and your guests can’t find you, we end up leaving anyway after thirty minutes of looking and then WE feel rude because we ghosted on you.  Not nice.

Finally, your wedding day is not a ‘me’ day, it’s an ‘us’ day.  ‘Us’ is you and your man.  ‘Us’ is you and your family.  ‘Us’ is you and your guests.  Only you can take the joy out of the day.  Don’t take yourself too seriously.  Remember, it’s a few hours out of one day of your entire life and things may or may not be perfect, but you’ll be the only one who knows whether it was or not.

Third Time Lucky

Not the Foghat song, no.  It’s a pretty cool song and I like it, but here it is meant in the context of believing that if you manage to get a second do-over, hopefully you’ve learned enough in the previous two attempts to get it right, or at least to have learned what not to do again.

So, Mr. Man and I got hitched a few Sundays ago.  Third time for both of us.  After two years of dating and then a year of shacking up, once we made the ultimate financial plunge and purchased real estate together, well, it was just time.

Just a quiet evening, sitting on the front porch, drinking beer and listening to the local classic country station when he asks me “What are you thinking about?”  In three years, he has never once asked that question.  Never.  Nor have I.  To quote Frank Kaiser; ” A woman over forty will never wake you in the middle of the night to ask, “What are you thinking?” She doesn’t care what you think.”  Up until that moment, it was my belief that the same applied to men over 50.  Or men period.  Certainly it applied to Mr. Man.

I replied that I was thinking maybe we ought to get married.  Sure enough, he said that he’d been thinking the same thing too.  This coming from a pair of twice divorced folk who agreed during the early dating phase that we disdained marriage as an institution and neither of us had any intentions of doing the legal mambo with another soul ever again.  Friends will attest, and boy did they make a point of reminding us of all the times we swore “Never again!”.

To his quiet affirmation that we were on the same page, drawing the same conclusion as we strolled down the parallel evolving paths of our relationship, I simply said “Are you sure?”  and to his “Yes.  I’m sure.  It’s time.”  I replied “Okay” and so did he.  Not a terribly romantic or impressive story, but certainly a mature one.

Oh, I can hear the groaning disappointment.  No thrills!  No romantic moonlit boat ride or creative YouTube worthy video to share.  Just a couple of old farts making a major life decision over a cold brew in the lingering Sunday twilight of a Memorial day weekend.  Sorry.  Not really.

We've had several folks ask if Wrecks was in the wedding.  No.

We’ve had several folks ask if Wrecks was in the wedding. No.

A House at the Lake

It’s been a long time and I barely got started before I let too many things get in the way and found excuses not to post when I should have been.  I apologize.

Of the many things that got in the way was when Mr. Man and I finally decided last March to take the big step of finally buying a lake home.   We are ‘lake people’.  It’s one of those things that either you are or you’re not.  If you’re not, there is nothing inside of you that can justify why it’s so important.  This Safeco Commercial sums it up beautifully.

Mr. Man and I have been a pair for three years now.  I remember going to ‘the lake’ as a child although my parents did not do so with as much frequency and constancy as his parents did.  Our stomping grounds are the Missouri Ozarks and there are several lakes to choose from; all man made and all created with varying purposes that may or may not have evolved from what was intended to what it has become.

Our lake of choice is tiny Pomme De Terre Lake and before all of you high school french takers say “Potato Lake!  Really?”  No.  There was already a Pomme de Terre river before the lake was ever even dreamed of.  Folks often forget that it was french explorers and traders that settled much of Missouri and therefore named much of what is here in the state.  Local lore insists that the intended meaning of the rivers’ name was ‘Fruit of the Earth’ and that’s their story and they’re sticking to it.  Of course, this meaning as well as the french pronunciations are mostly lost and “Aux Arcs” is now Ozarks just as the town of “Weaubleu” is pronounced wobble-oh.

The first time Mr. Man took me to Pomme for the weekend, I fell in love with three things; the lake, his boat and him, and those are not listed in any particular order, well, maybe a little.  After a year of staying every three or four weeks with friends that had a cabin , we moved up and started renting a motorhome for what became every other weekends at the lake.  In true Ozarks style, that motorhome was sitting in the yard at the house of the Uncle of a friend.  Fifty bucks a weekend and everything worked; a/c, stove, fridge, etc.  Everything but the engine of that motorhome.  It served a purpose while we began the search for our own lake place.

We started looking.  And looking.  And looking.  All through the fall and winter of the first year.  Another season in the motorhome and we kept looking and looking.  We’ve seen everything on that side of the lake that’s for sale.  There is no rhyme or reason for the pricing because there are no comps.  None.  No two homes are the same.  It is a microcosm of the entire housing market.  Much like California, you can have a huge well-kept stick built house priced at $300K next to a single-wide shack from the 1940’s that really needs to be bulldozed but it sits on six nice lots for $40K (which is too much).  Unlike California, no one is going to overpay for a lot that only has two 55 gallon drums for a septic system just because it sits next to a McMansion.  It’s not going to happen.  There’s too much still on the market, especially the secondary home market.

We could find nothing that satisfied.  Granted, our scope of search was pretty narrow and we both had some ‘must haves’ on our lists.  Finally, last November, we came upon a place and it spoke to us.  It was in the right place on the lake, the neighborhood we wanted.  Other than that, it met absolutely none of our criteria.  It didn’t matter if we wanted the house.  The house wanted us.  We would put up a good fight, but in the end, it was the house that won.  As houses often do.

The buying process consumed me, consumed us, the seller made the process a hot mess trying to hide the financial nightmare that he was in from the Realtor and the Title Company.  In fact, I had made up my mind to walk away one night and when I called the Title Company the next day to tell her we were out, she greeted me with the good news that she had straightened out all the paperwork with the court (the Sellers had not disclosed, among other things, that they were in Chapter 7) and we would be able to close the next week.


And we did close.  Finally.  A little more than a month later than what was on the original contract.  Each weekend when I get to the front door of that place, my whole being sighs, “home”.  Each day that I spend in the little house I didn’t want, I love it more.  The house wanted us, and it got us.  It had been empty for three years and although it stands alone four days of seven, the other three are full of love and energy and laughter and relaxation and peace and calm and just plain fun and for now, that’s enough.


Ham and Beans

Today, dear friends, we weep.    I have used up, in many delicious and satisfying ways, the glorious 14+ lb. Christmas Ham I bought for Holiday 2012.  Yes, I bought more than fourteen pounds of pure heaven cured pork for just the two of us on Christmas day.  Still, a 14+ pounder?  Yus.  Why?  Leftovers; 5 meals using every single bit of that gigantic hunk of pig ambrosia.  And now it is gone.   And,It.Was.Good.

Did I mention that Mr. Man’s friend since high school is the cop that always pulls inside store duty on Christmas Eve?  I didn’t?  Oh.  Yes, thanks to Mr. Man and his amazing network of friends, I get the hunney-bake-hook-up with a discount that would make all of you weep and gnash your teeth.  Makes my holly-day as I’m trying desperately to hold in my “Squeeee” while still inside the store.

Ham & Beans is just about the easiest thing in the EN-TIRE world to make and it is soooo good and I am surprised at how many folks just don’t know it.  Please.  Do not let yourself to be one of these unfortunates any longer.

Now for the ham in the beans you can use just about any old ham type thing you can find, so never ever throw away a ham-bone from a whole ham. You can freeze the dang thing for close to six months and still use it just fine. In the absence of a particularly fine ham-bone  get some nice meaty ham hocks at the grocery. Now it’s my very own opinion, but having the bone in there makes the richest broth. Now if you’re really in a pinch or just don’t want to fool with fishing out the bones & the fat, then use as much diced ham as you want, but you won’t get the same flavor, just sayin’. It’s all personal preference but I make them like my Grandma from Kentucky (say it “CANE-TUCK-EE) made ’em.


Now that you have some prime pork available, get a 1 lb. bag of either navy beans or great northern beans. Both are nice white beans, navy beans are little, great northern beans are big and I figure that’s why they’re called great northern beans instead of lesser northern beans, although I’m pretty sure they’re isn’t anything called a lesser bean.

Now, you can fool with the beans over night, soaking and rinsing and I’ve done that many times, but for my purpose this day, I decided to use the slow cooker because I decided I needed to eat this during the week.


I thoroughly rinsed and picked the beans over, put them in the pot first, laid that choice pork on top and added the following:

1 Medium Onion, chopped
1 Clove Garlic, chopped or mince
1 teaspoon of Red Pepper Flakes (or pepper to taste if you don’t want a little kick to it)
1 Tablespoon Parsley
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 cup brown sugar
5 cups of water

Stick a lid on it, turn it on low and head out the door for work.

When you get home, you’ll want to pick out the bones and the larger pieces of fat and I do this using tongs but a slotted spoon will work fine to scoop out the shrapnel. Most of the meat should be gone off the bones, floating in your beans, but some might be clinging, so give it a hand & scrape it back into the pot. The meat chunks should break up easily with the back of your spoon.


You don’t have to serve this immediately.  Pop the lid back on and keep it at low or set your cooker on the ‘warm’ setting if you have it.  It makes an awful lot and my own self, personally, I think it’s one of those things that’s even better the 2nd time as leftovers. Heated up beans with ketchup! Yum!

Oh, & just so you know the baking soda in beans does three things; 1) Makes the broth a bit creamier; 2) keeps the beans from splitting and; 3) reduces the gas making factor of the beans.


Ham and beans makes me wish I was in the North East right now getting whomped by snow!  Not much better when it comes to winter fare; leisurely sopping it up while watching Old Man Winter deliver one of his occasional TKO’s.   Stay warm, stay safe and stay fed!

That’s enough.

On receiving, and ignoring, some not so welcome advice

I had my annual ‘well-woman’ check-up a couple of weeks ago and as I precariously approach the dreaded half century mark, Doc says I’m in good shape but decides I need an enormous amount of blood work done to check not just the regular cholesterol but to break it down into types and particles and absorption and free roaming crap to determine my risk factor to heart disease.  After all, we have all been informed that heart disease is right up there as a woman-killer alongside breast cancer.  So, I’m thinking this is a good thing.

Doc gives me a booklet, not a pamphlet or a leaflet, but an honest-to-gawd 8-1/2 x 11 multi-page booklet outlining the particulars of this detailed and apparently necessary (ohmahgerd!!, everyone should have it done!!!), battery of blood analysis tests along with the standard hormone and thyroid and kidney/liver function tests.  MMMMkay.  Sure.  Why not.  I don’t have even a reasonable expectation of living to 100, figuring that I’m past middle age as well as menopause.

Doc tells me that there is no co-pay for the test.  Even if I get an insurance statement saying it’s not covered and I have a $500 or $600 co-pay, not to worry, I won’t get a bill.  That evening, at the kitchen table, reading glasses perched on my nose, scrutinizing the information, I see that the test is sponsored by a big pharmaceutical company.  Said pharm company happens to produce a number of products to lower my cholesterol.  Not.A.Surprise.

I am healthy, exercise, not overweight, I’m not expecting any drastic news.  Late last week, I get a call from the nurse with the recommendation that I add a few supplements to my diet; Vitamins “D” and “B-12” because I have some deficiencies that are “of concern”.  Fine, that’s probably why I feel so sluggish in winter.  Mild S.A.D.  I can live with that.  Oh, but wait, there’s more!  I need an Omega-3, too.  Too many free-roaming plaque particles.  Really?  All right.  I’m not liking this, but I am thankful that Doc takes a holistic approach and only whips out the prescription pad as a last resort.  I’d rather do this than sign on to some wacky medication that might end up with class action lawsuits advertised on daytime television.  So far, so good.  After a week, my energy has increased by approximately 1/10th.  In January, in the mid-west, I’ll take it.

Today, I get a call from a second(!) nurse whose job it is to really analyze and interpret those test results.  She asks me about my exercise routine.  I walk about two miles every day.  I have two dogs that exist the other 23 hours and 30 minutes of the day for those two miles with me.  Whatever the weather, we three dress appropriately probably 350 out of 365 days of the year and venture out into whatever Mid-West weather happens to be occurring.  Nope.  Not enough.  Okay.  Well, I practice yoga once or twice a week, how about that?  Nope. Not enough.  I need sweaty, aerobic muscle strengthening stuff for an hour, three times a week.  Wait.  What?  Have you ever been to a yoga studio?  It’s not hippie ’60’s transcendental meditation yoga anymore.  I sweat my butt off.  Really?  I hardly have time to comb my hair twice a day and you want me to throw in a couple of Zumba or Jazzercise class?  Whatever nurse 2 got into in Doc’s sample room, I want some, because she’s just high right now.

Oh, and by the way, nurse 2 mentioned I should be eating low carb, high protein, low fat diet.  I should get a smart phone app so I can track my food input everyday.  Now she’s gone too far.  Them’s fightin’ words to this broad.  I may be climbing the hill, but I’m not over it yet.  The facts are that I am 2nd generation Irish on my Mother’s side, 3rd generation German on my Father’s side and come from a long line of pear shaped women.  I can not, nay, will not, give up my bread and booze.  ‘Tis my heritage and my right!  Nurse further illustrates that now fruit counts.    Go easy on the fruit.  When the hell did that happen?  I object!  Strenuously!

After hearing this, the conversation quickly deteriorated as I shifted into ‘I just want to get you off the phone’ mode.  Me saying “Okay.  Sure.  That sounds reasonable.”, because why would I argue with someone who is just doing her job, passing along information and is, by no means, the boss of me?  I couldn’t bear to tell her “Thanks, but no thanks.  I’d rather live a life of quality days than quantity years.”  My attitude is exactly the Maxine cartoon that circulates among the girlfriend set on occasion that exhorts us to live life to the fullest and leave this world with a glass of wine in one hand and a piece of chocolate in the other.  So for now, I’ll just keep doing what I please; cooking and baking, tasting, eating, enjoying, savoring and experimenting.  Open that bottle and pass the butter because  I ain’t skeert.

Enough for now.

Make ’em a sammich!

“A sammich is not just a sandwich, it is not just a meal. Sammich is a term reserved for only the holiest and mightiest of all sandwiches. A sammich is a true work of culinary art; a feast on a bun, if you will.” – Urban DictionaryDSCN0095

Twenty plus years ago, before Al Gore gave us the interwebz, when my Littles were still, well, little, the two best places to find new recipes were in cookbooks at the library or on food packages.  Now I could find hundreds to try in the same 60 minutes it took me to find one or two at the library while the Littles enjoyed Story Hour and I enjoyed the quiet in my own head.  This isn’t one of those, though, I remember that I found the root of what would become the “Mighty Sammich Loaf” on the back of a package of frozen bread dough.

The thing I adore about this recipe, especially now that I’m cooking for just two, is that it’s a sure fire way to use up good cuts of leftover meats.  In this case, it’s the next to last of the Christmas ham, and oh what an awesome hunk of pure porcine pleasure was that hunney of a baked ham!  (Wink! Wink!)

To make this “Mighty Sammich Loaf” you will need:

  • One loaf of frozen bread dough, thawed
  • DSCN00781/4 cup honey mustard salad dressing
  • 8-10 oz ham, chopped
  • 4 oz. baby swiss cheese
  • One egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 T. heavy cream or half and half (optional)
  • 1 T. sesame seeds

The great thing about using frozen bread dough is that you can take the loaf out of the freezer in the morning.  Lay out a piece of plastic wrap, spray it with non-stick cooking spray, wrap it up, stick it in the fridge and it’s perfectly thawed without having risen any by the time that you get home from work!


You will need a parchment lined baking sheet and a rolling pin and some dusting flour.  Roll the thawed dough out to a 14″ x 10″ rectangle.  If you just start rolling the dough length-wise, it will widen perfectly on it’s own.  Stretch corners to maintain the rectangle as best you can.


Transfer the rectangle to the baking sheet and layer the meat, dressing and cheese down the middle.  Using a sharp knife, make 7-8 diagonal slits in the dough from the edge of the filling to the edge of dough.  I fold my ends in a bit to prevent seepage of the filling during baking, but you can cut it off and just seal the ends well.  I love bread, so I always save the extra thick end pieces for myself!


Beat the egg with the whipping cream or half and half, adding the cream isn’t necessary, but I like the extra sealing power. DSCN0090Brush the edges of the dough with the beaten egg and starting at one end, pull the dough strips up and over (don’t be afraid to tug on them) and tuck them under the loaf.  Weave the strips to create a pretty bread and then brush the whole loaf with beaten egg and sprinkle on the sesame seeds.


Pre-heat the oven to 400° while you let the loaf rise about 15 minutes over a hot water pan, OR, because I hate leaving out my besties, lazy and easy, I fill one side of my double sink with hot water and lay the baking sheet over it for an easy-steam.

It won’t get gigantic or rise a bunch, but a brief rest over this tiny hot tub very much improves the texture of the loaf.DSCN0093

Pop it in the oven for about 20 minutes and bake until golden.  Let it rest about 5 minutes before cutting.  You can cut it in 1″ strips for appetizers or big hunks for dinner.  It warms up well the next day if you happen to have even one single piece leftover for lunch.

You can use any combination of meat, dressings and cheeses to create whatever type of loaf you’re craving.  Leftover Sunday roast?  Saute some onions and peppers, and use ranch dressing and Monterrey Jack cheese for a Philly Loaf.  Corned beef plus well drained kraut and 1000 Island and it’s an incredible Reuben Loaf.   Very versatile and no one needs to know it’s the last of the leftovers except you!

Enough for now.DSCN0094