Mine’s Blue

July 22, 2011

There is still time to get into the running for this fabulous ice cream maker. Mine’s blue but if you win, you can select a brand new one from a wide variety of colors: orange, red, plum, lime, black, white and, of course, blue like mine.

All you have to do to win is tell me what  your favorite ice cream flavor is. That’s it. Just post under “contests and giveaways” – You Scream – I Scream.

Then go ahead and subscribe because you’ll never know what you might miss. Gardening tips, mouth-watering recipes, great summer reading picks and quite possibly another contest or two! After posting, click on to home site (top left corner) and you’ll see the subscribe box.

Entries for the ice cream maker will be accepted until midnight July 31 and a winner will be picked at random (even you, Tammy Coker Smith, who is the number one post will have a chance). Invite your friends to join the contest and who knows, they might invite you over for some dessert. One comment per person please.

I’ll reveal the winner on August 1st.

I love my ice cream maker – I’m sure you’ll love it too!

Did the Catholic Church steal my brother?

July 11, 2014

I have a tradition I share with my three sisters. Every Mother’s Day we get together for a long weekend to catch up, share stories, laugh, cry, explore, and take a moment to stop in a bar. We order a Stinger Blended Up in honor of our mom who passed away in 2006. It was her favorite cocktail and not one that every bartender knows about so it’s always fun to see how they turn out.

Our last Sisters/Mother’s Day weekend in Charleston, South Carolina, we sat down to watch the movie “Philomena.”  We were stunned.

If you’ve never seen this movie, here’s a synopsis: A true story about a young Irish woman who gives birth in a Catholic home for unwed mothers. When her little boy was two years old, the nuns adopted him out – without permission or knowledge by the mother. Philomena didn’t speak about her son with anyone until years later when her daughter asked her about it. Apparently Philomena secretly celebrated her son’s birthday every year and her daughter happen to catch her at a tender moment. And so the search for the son begins.

I am from a big Irish Catholic family – five brothers and three sisters. We like to say there are  9 of us – just like the Kennedy’s without all the money. But that’s not entirely true. We do have another brother we believe is somewhere out there. Although we’ve never met him, we are deeply suspicious he was stolen from the hospital right after his birth.

Here’s our story:

My parents met and married while living outside of Chicago in the early 40s. In 1946 they had their first child – a girl – my sister Barbara Ann. Shortly after that, my parents moved west, eventually settling in the Los Angeles area. In 1950, when my mom was pregnant with her second child, her father dies suddenly at the age of 50. It devastated my mom. Two months later, she goes into labor. Full term and with no insurance, my mom is given a drug to “put her out”  (common practice for birth back then) and when she finally wakes, the hospital staff tells her the baby was dead. Stillborn.

According to the stories from my mom, it was at this point my grandmother, Cecelia Agnes McCann, walks in and demands to see the body. The hospital staff tells her it’s too late – he’s already been cremated. No body. No baptism. No burial.

birth1950

Here’s the kicker: Cremation was a mortal sin in 1950. That’s the big one. No Heaven. No Purgatory. No second chance. Just straight to Hell.

Fast forward many years. My mom and dad go on to have eight more children. Some time in the early 90s my five brothers go on a popular game show called “Family Feud.” They were on every night for five days straight – the Rogers Brothers: Bill, Russ, John, Pat and Mike. They had fun and made some money. That’s them below:

familyfeud

Several months (maybe a year, I’m not sure) my mom receives a letter from the studio that produced Family Feud. They forwarded a note from a lady, I believe from the Chicago area, who said her husband looks just like the Rogers brothers and since he was adopted, he always wondered where he came from.

I’m not sure what happened to that letter. There must have not been a phone number and there was no internet back then. My mom might have called information but even that I can’t be sure of.

Here’s the thing about my mom – She never lived in the past or worried about the future. She lived in the present. She didn’t question authority – the church, doctors, or priests. Some things, though, she must have kept deep down inside of her because every once in a while something would pop  to the surface – like her comment about believing one day she would  be walking down a street and pass a young man and know, just know, that was her son she lost on that September day in 1950.

So why am I writing about all this now? Philomena for one. Another is my brother’s birth certificate  that I recently came across while looking through a file. My older sister had sent away for it back in 1999 and gave it to my mom to follow-up. I guess she never did. But she did put it in a file.

My brothers and sisters believe there are actually 10 of us. Did the Catholic Church steal my brother? Who would have ever guessed they would take a child from a young mother and just give him away? Apparently they did. Just ask Philomena.

So our search continues. I’m not sure what we will find but I’m putting it out there.

And here’s the last kicker: My mother was one of 10 children herself. When she was in her 70s, a cousin of mine had been researching the family tree and came across someone whose father never knew his real dad but he had the same last name as my mom (they were the Partridge family believe it or not). Anyway, through many phone calls and internet searches we come to discover my grandfather was married before he married my grandmother. He had a son named Earl. He left that family and hooked up with my grandmother never to mention the first family EVER.

Turns out old Earl, raised as an only child, at 80 years of age found out he had 10 half brothers and sisters.

 

 

 

 

guilt trip

May 30, 2014
M24: GUILT

guilt – it’s really not about the donuts

A friend once told me that Jews and Catholics make the best comedians because they have the market cornered on guilt. Being raised Catholic, I have to agree. My mom was a pro and from what she told me, her mom was pretty good at it too.

 

My boys also know when the Catholic guilt trip is coming. They know they can’t win.

 

But guilt isn’t limited to one or two religious organizations. We all feel our fair share  of guilt whether it’s the inability to say no to a favor or the heavy feeling you drag around with you when you do. It’s draining. It’s hangs over you during the day and invades your sleep at night.

 

Just last night I woke up in a cold sweat, my heart pounding. I remember the dream and boy was it real. I’m sitting in a meeting. The speaker is someone I know and she’s having a hard time presenting her case. She suddenly asks the audience if anyone has Xanax to help her calm down. I do, I say ,as I dig frantically in my bag (Of course I do. Why wouldn’t I be carrying around an arsenal of pharmaceuticals in my purse?). But I can’t find it. I feel bad for her. I volunteer to run home and get her some ASAP.

 

My friend sitting next to me wants to come along and bring her 7-year-old. He wants ice cream. Can’t I stop on my way home to buy him some? Of course I can. And while were in the store, would I mind if she picked up some groceries? Why not?

 

Along the way we run into several people we know who want to talk. All I can think about is getting home to get the drugs. Finally I make it to my house and up pulls a van with some former neighbors who are so glad to see me. When I explain I’m just running in to get something out of the house for a friend, they are aghast. What? I don’t have time to talk to them?

 

At this point, I sit up straight in bed. My heart is pounding. I’m still thinking about the friend who needed me at the meeting. She must be wondering where the heck I am.

 

Now I’m wide awake and really do need that Xanax.

 

By 6 a.m. I drinking my first cup of coffee of the day.

 

Guilt. It will rob you of your sleep. It will pop into your head during the day. It is not a good feeling.

 

So how does one get rid of guilt? I’m not sure. Guilt does have a way of making you do the right thing. For example, if you RSVP yes for a party, you’d better go. Those people are counting on you for conversation and the price of a meal. If you volunteer for a job, you are expected to follow through or someone else will have to pick up your slack. And if you promise to help someone out, they need you.

 

There are some guidelines however. Learn how to say no. Realize your shortcomings with time and money. And be honest about it. It’s hard and it may hurt, but you don’t have to do everything. Heck, I’m feeling guilty just taking up my whole morning writing this because I’m sure there is something more useful I could be doing.

 

But if all else fails, become a comedian. You might just find there is a whole audience out there who feels the same way you do when it comes to guilt. Sometimes we just have to live with it.

 

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airport 14

May 22, 2014
Cover of "Airport (Full Screen Edition)"

Cover of Airport (Full Screen Edition)

My husband loves to travel.

Me. Not so much.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy visiting other places but most of the ones I want to see involve air travel and I’ve gotten to despise the whole airport/airplane scene.

It’s not the fear of flying, the ticket prices, the long flights, the lay-overs, the bad food, or the TSA, which everyone knows are a given – it’s more the people involved in air travel. And I’m talking everyone from the airline/airport employees to my fellow travelers.

It does vary from airport to airport but bottom line, it’s a mind-boggling, time-wasting, downright rude experience.

Having just finished two back-to-back, five-hour one way trips in a one month period, I’m swearing off travel of any kind for a while.

I really, really try to be patient and kind. I’ll help a single mom trying to push a stroller and roll a big piece of luggage. I’ll wait in long car rental lines without going ballistic. I’ll even excuse the snarly flight attendants who are anxious to complete their duties so they can sit in the back and read.

What sets me off, however, are my rude fellow passengers. You know who they are. The guy that has to be the first on and off the plane. The business traveler who never checks his luggage so he can race you to a taxi or parking lot. The gal who is texting or talking on her cell while rolling her luggage and not even aware of her surroundings. The teenagers lounging on the floor of the waiting area, eating hamburgers and not bothering to clean up their mess. And, oh my God, the guy to takes off his shoes and somehow manages to plop his bare feet on the fold down eating tray. UGH!

I am amazed though when I witness the patient car rental manager calming a client who feels he shouldn’t have to wait in line with the rest of us. The older lady who lets a pregnant woman use the bathroom before her. The gentleman who helps a couple with limited English skills find the correct security line. Or the TSA guy who sincerely welcomes you home with a big smile.

I admire them. I envy them. I try my best to be them.

My sister once told me that soon airline travel will be worse than Greyhound bus travel and they only way to beat that is to own your own plane. I am afraid that time has come.

Until we can all travel like Captain Kirk and beam ourselves to our next vacation or business spot, can we all manage to try to get along? I promise to be kind and patient. Can you?

 

 

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side kicks

March 30, 2014

 

My friend Britt is retiring today. He’s also turning 65. The other day he turned in his truck, his keys and his cell phone. He’s been training the “younger” guys, so he feels confident he is leaving his workplace in pretty good hands.

What a strange thing this retirement is. I’m sure there is a sense of loss identity. There is probably a great unknown of what to do now. It’s not like Britt doesn’t have a lot on his plate. He likes to surf as often as he can. He and his wife go camping – usually to places he can surf. And he also has two beautiful daughters he takes care of in a way only a father can.

But how strange is it that he and we are all at this point in our lives? Where did those years go?

Britt is actually my husband’s friend. They’ve known each other since high school. He was just one of a group of guys who I took on when I married Charlie. Britt danced with me at my wedding and just recently he danced with me at my 60th birthday party. I know that we must have shared many other dances in-between those years.

Britt has been coming in and out of my life for 40 years now.  I got to know him much better once our children were grown, but until then he was that guy who was interesting and quiet and cute. I watched his eyes light up at the birth of each of daughters. He went to dance recitals and soccer games (or some other girly activity). Since I had boys, our paths didn’t cross as often but Britt was always there for Charlie. And for that reason alone, he is my best friend too.

We’ve had some great adventures together – boating, camping, eating, drinking, hanging out with all of our dogs, concerts, lakes, beaches. Soo many good times to cherish.

But with those good times, there were some bad ones too. Ones we share right along with him. Britt was diagnosed with melanoma a couple of years ago– a killer of a cancer. All of us had our throat drop to our stomach with that information. I know there were many sleepless nights in his house. After a couple of surgeries, he was enrolled in a clinical trial for a new drug. It wasn’t easy – the drive, the after affects, the waiting. Today, hallelujah! he is cancer free but it’s a disease that just always sticks in the back of your brain.

boat

boat (Photo credit: pupski)

I guess retirement is in all of our futures. Our dad’s did it and now our friends are all doing it. Retirement isn’t what it used to be though. We don’t get a gold watch and retire to a condo in a 55 and older community. Britt will stay busy – whether it’s surfing, camping, looking after his daughters or just being a sidekick for Charlie, because there is one thing about Britt you can’t deny -that guy is ready for anything, and retirement (and turning 65) is just one of those things.

I love you Britt. Happy Birthday and Happy Retirement.

Now let’s go boating!

 

 

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on turning 60

September 22, 2013

I had a big birthday on Friday the 13th. I turned 60 which in itself is really just a number. But I’ve been reflecting on my age, my birthday and my journey so far, and it’s got me to thinking.

Here’s what I’ve learned since turning 60:IMG_0997

My mom always told me I was born on a Friday. I liked that about me. But the internet changed that when I googled my birth date. Seems I was born on a Sunday. To be honest, that makes me sad.

I can’t party like I did in my 20s, 30s, 40s or even 50s. It makes me tired (and the worse part is I look tired!)

I have some great friends, neighbors and family members who still talk to each other. I am grateful for that.

I can’t tell my boys what do anymore. They have wives, girlfriends, kids…. I can only listen and I’m trying to be good.

Wood floors are NOT good for dogs especially 7-year-old Labs who have arthritis.

No matter what I do my hair is dry, my skin is saggy, my arms and face have spots. I refuse to have plastic surgery so I am going to live with it.

People tell me I have good legs so I’m going to embrace that.

I can’t change the world – or at least all that I want to change. I’m going to live by the Serenity Prayer and try to stay sane.

I still love my husband after 37 years of marriage. He makes me laugh, dries my tears with his patient understanding words and he is always ready for an adventure (that part kind of drives me crazy but it’s better than sitting at home).

I really like the Rolling Stones – finally.

I’m no saint but I now embrace the sinner in me. Kind of like that.

I’m hoping to learn more as I go along. My grandmother and my mom both had long, hard lives but they never looked back. One day at a time seems to be the way to go. I’ll try to embrace that too.

Thank you all for the birthday wishes. I’m sure I’ve learned more than I mentioned above. I’ll just have to bring those up later.

tatted up

July 31, 2013
Back tattoo

Back tattoo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shortly after high school, my friend and roommate went out and got a tattoo. Back then the only people you would see with skin art were bikers and old sailors. Her’s was very discreet. Just her name (Alba) inked just below her bikini bottom.

When I asked why, she said one day, when she was an old lady in a nursing home, someone would turn her over and think to oneself, “Wow, she must have been some fun in her days!”

Fast forward forty (cough, cough) years. First there were the Cougars – ladies turning 40 who thought a cute flower near the boob or a gecko on the ankle would be cute. Then the younger girls kicked in and they kicked in big time.

Stomach, arms, lower backs, upper backs and on and on. Sure, it was kind of cute at first, but now it’s called overkill.

Recently I attended a beautiful wedding in the middle of summer and it was HOT, so there were a lot of sundresses – short sundresses with spaghetti straps, strapless, and one arm straps. And just about everyone of the girls were sporting tattoos.

Two problems with these massive tatts – one,it does take away from the beauty of their dress and two, the tatts are fading. Tattoos are expensive and painful but they must be kept up or the girls start looking like those old sailors I mentioned earlier.

I guess it really didn’t hit me until a young girl walked by me in a stunning black, backless dress and she DIDN’T have a tattoo. Her back was BEAUTIFUL!

So girls – if you think you are trend setters, you’re not. And if you like your tatts (and some of them are stunning), do yourself a favor. Spend the time and money to keep them up. You don’t have to add more (remember: more is less), but keep them bright if you want those of us who are looking to enjoy your art.

the gathering

July 16, 2013
Box of Twinkies

childhood

It was a gathering of five. Five friends from parochial school all hovering around the age of 60 now. It would have been six but one friend was getting ready to bury her daughter. Suicide we heard.

I was the oldest but not by much. My 60th birthday was two months away. But this wasn’t a birthday celebration. No, this was to celebrate Mary who had just finished a grueling round of chemo after having undergone a double mastectomy. Mary was the nucleus of this group of friends. Mary and I lived on the same street growing up. Through her I met Linda, Carol, Terry (the one who was burying her daughter) and her little sister Annie.

There could have been many more of us at this gathering but, let’s face it, it’s hard to get people together. Plus we were heading to Phoenix on the hottest weekend of the year – in fact record breaking at 118 degrees. But thanks to time, a little alcohol and bitching about the heat, those other friends were with us in stories, laughter, tears and many old embarrassing moments.

Not only was I the oldest, I was the poor kid of the group. Third of nine children with a blue collar dad, we were always hanging on by a thread – houses, food, bedrooms, space. None of my friends ever made me feel less than them, but I do remember certain looks from the adults.

My friend Mary was from a large family too, four siblings, but her dad had a nice white-collar job. Our moms hung out together mostly through church related events, but when our parents got together on the weekends it was something right out of Mad Men.

Carol was what I considered the “rich” kid. Her dad was a judge and her mom was a beautiful Italian “Sofia Loren” look-alike. But Carol was down to earth. As beautiful as her mom, she was neat as a pin and kind to everyone. She was raised as an only child after her little brother was killed by a drunk driver right in front of her eyes. I couldn’t comprehend that type of tragedy but it never defined Carol. Her parents took her on ritzy vacations to Vegas. I remember thinking “She must like Elvis,” but I think she liked being part of this Rat Pack of scraggly kids from our little hood.

Linda lived several blocks away but she went to school with us. Don’t remember her dad much but I remember her mom and now I see where Linda has inherited her mom’s beautiful brown skin. Linda had a lot of brothers and one sister (I think), but I don’t remember hanging around their house much. Linda was quiet and reserved, a person who didn’t talk much about herself. She reminded me we shared an apartment in our 20s but she didn’t really like living there. Hmmm….

Annie is Mary’s little sister. Two years younger than me, she was actually my partner in crime. Where Mary was cautious, Annie was anything but. Oh, she’ll tell you stories about my clubs where I was always president and to join you either had to jump off the roof or declare your hatred toward someone we just didn’t like at the time. You know, the “I hate Becky Club” or something to that effect. Annie was always ready for an adventure – smoking Pall Malls stolen from my mom’s purse or staying out all night to TP someone’s home.

None of our moms worked outside the home – typical 1950 suburban America. We felt safe and loved. What we found out from our Arizona weekend was how much our lives were different from the one we knew and how much our lives changed after school.

Because Mary was tired from her chemo and the weather was unbearably hot, we spent a lot of time indoors with the air conditioner running full speed. We played card games, drank G&Ts and rum and cokes, cooked pasta dinners and watched a funny movie (I admit my friends don’t share my sense of humor). Mostly we caught up on our lives.

Of the five of us, three graduated from college, three are divorced, and four of us are grandparents. All of our parents have died with the exception of Carol whose dad is still kicking but her mom has Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s, I learned over the weekend, is truly the long goodbye. We would have called it Purgatory in Catholic school.

Only one of the friends still holds strongly onto the Catholic faith (I dabble in it), but we all have opinions on it. We talked about three of our brothers who were altar boys in the 60s. Two of them never married and the one who married never had children. Priest abuse? We’ll never know. Our brothers certainly don’t talk about it.

Mary’s mom wanted her to marry a doctor so she went to college in Oregon for a Bachelor’s in Nursing to find one. She married a hairdresser. Now single, she runs the Women’s Section at a large, well-known hospital.

Carol said her mother put her on diets starting in the second grade. She remembers how the other kids had Twinkies in their lunch bag. She had carrot sticks. (side note: Carol was not and is not overweight.). A film editor by profession, Carol quit her job when she started having kids and only looks back with a slight regret (she was one year short from receiving a pension).

Annie didn’t attend college but moved to Colorado. She married and had four children (a set of twins included). She worked most of her life – always the breadwinner and in a field where she organizes events. That girl is the ultimate multi-tasker. She is her sister’s number one caregiver throughout her breast cancer ordeal.

Linda also left California for college in Arizona. She married and had three daughters. Single again, Linda’s flair for design and color is not only supporting her family but also helping Mary as she settles into her new home. Still reserved and quiet, I get to know Linda just a little bit more every time I see her.

Me – well, I married someone I met in a bar. Still married to that same guy 30-plus years later (sometimes bar pickups work out). I’m probably not the poor kid anymore, but I do carry a deep sense of that childhood with me.

I am amazed that our gathering of five could come together after years of separation and find we never really left that little parochial schoolyard. We remain good friends.

I cherish that.

If life were a football game, we’d all be entering into the fourth quarter. What defined us as children has shaped us into the strong women we’ve become. Although we all have had our ups and downs, we are survivors and I think we are looking forward to this next chapter of our lives. Football games can be won or lost in the fourth quarter and I think we’re winners.

Epilogue: Mary returned to work after one more week of recuperating in Arizona. She lost most of her hair, but has wigs and a beautiful new short haircut. I’m sure all of us will be facing major medical situations in the coming years. I have a feeling we will come together to share a few laughs and help make this time of our lives one for the books.

breaking the FB habit

May 17, 2013
facebook engancha

I’m watching you …

I’ve been off Facebook for over a week now and I have to admit there were withdrawal symptoms. Like any habit, I knew this one wasn’t going to be easy to break. I liked looking at posts from my friends – how their family is growing, where they’ve been, beautiful photos from gardens and trips, and even the occasional check-in. And I liked to add things to my timeline so my friends could keep up with my adventures.

I was somewhat annoyed at political and religious comments that, God forbid, you may not agree with and if you decide to actually post a different point of view, watch out. You can loose friends quickly. How about those who like to tell you about their great cup of coffee and bowel movement – every morning! Okay, I may have gotten a little to personal myself,  but these were easy enough to scroll through and ignore.

What I couldn’t ignore, however, was stalking. I don’t mean weird “I’m going to follow every movement you make” type stalking, I mean the ones from people you don’t even know who now seem to have every opportunity to keep up with your everyday life.

Oh, I know the chant … change your security settings. I did. Friends Only. But that didn’t seem to stop strangers from peeking under my skirt.

It all started innocently enough when I happened to comment on a post from one of my friends which started a chain reaction of more posts. All of the sudden, a guy, who I don’t know and don’t want to know, mentioned how my comment came from Amsterdam. Yes, I was in Amsterdam but you wouldn’t know that unless you could see my page. So this guy must have visited my page and got a birds-eye view of everything I had ever posted.

How could that happen? I never “friended” this guy. So I started an experiment and randomly clicked on people I never met. Sure enough, I could see their entire timeline, photographs of their family, political point of views and so on. It was a little creepy.

Facebook started innocently enough. You had to invite people into your life back in 2006. Today, the world can see your every move. Don’t be fooled, my friends, with security settings. Something you posted will come back and bite you in the butt. You won’t know where or when, but once you’re out there, you’re out there. And so are your kids (because we all know we can’t hold back from talking about our kids).

Yes, I admit I was a FB junkie and I miss hearing about all that you’ve been up to. I guess I could create a new page, a new identity and not really post anything private about myself. I can just look at your life. But if I don’t share my life with you, wouldn’t I just be a stalker?

As hard as it is to break any habit, I’m going to do my best and try to stay away from Facebook. It get’s easier every day and I’m actually more productive.

Until then, if I want to hear about your life or you want to know about mine, we’ll just have to pick up the phone and call each other.

St. Paddy’s Day ~ it’s not all about green beer and corned beef

March 16, 2013

Four leaf clover

I love St. Patrick’s Day. He is, of course, my patron saint and I love how he is known for driving the snakes out of Ireland and I always like how everyone is Irish that one day each year.

My Welsh Irish heritage gives me a slight advantage when claiming that culture and I like to celebrate that part of me with my family. Not that any of my four boys were big fans of corned beef and cabbage (but they did latch on to the beer drinking part as they got older). In an effort to somehow “punch up” the bland menu I’ve tried adding several other dishes to the plate over the years. My one experiment with asparagus was a disaster and I believed turned all of the men in my life away from one of my favorite vegetables.

So this year the corned beef will be center at my dinner table along with a fabulous halibut dish my husband creates but I found a fabulous website from an Irish American gal in Kentucky who has a couple of great recipes I will be trying. A few green decorations placed about the house and I’m ready to go. Oh… and I’ll be asking someone else to bring the Guinness.

Ingredients for Cookbook:1-2-3-4 Cake. From le...

Ingredients for Cookbook:1-2-3-4 Cake. From left: Plain flour, eggs, milk, butter, sugar, baking powder. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

IRISH SODA BREAD – 

5 C all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting kneading surface)

1/2 t salt

1 t baking soda

2 t baking powder

4oz butter (1 stick)

3 T white sugar

1 c cranraisins

1 egg

1 1/2 c buttermilk

1/2 c plain yogurt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Sift flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter or clean fingers rub the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Add the sugar and cranraisins and stir to distribute throughout the flour mixture.

Stir the beaten egg, yogurt and buttermilk together in another bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the liquid ingredients. Mix together with a wooden spoon to form a dough. Using your hand, lightly dusted with flour, gently knead the dough into a ball.

Transfer to dough to a lightly floured surface and knead gently into a round form about 9 includes in diameter. Do not over knead. This creates a tough bread.

Transfer to a lightly greased 9 inch baking pan. Score the top of the loaf with a cross shape to create four distinct quarters. Bake in a 400 degree F oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes more. The loaf is baked when the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. If the bread starts to brown too much early in the cooking process, cover it with a tent of aluminium foil.

Remove the bread from the oven and the baking pan. Wrap the bread in a clean dish towel and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Served sliced with butter.

IRISH (SPONGE) CAKE- made easy with a touch of California 

Prepare a yellow cake according to directions on the box. Use two slightly dusted 9-inch round baking pans. Once baked, set cakes on wire rack to cool.

Whip 1 cup heavy whipping cream until thick. Add 1 T of confectioners’ sugar to sweeten if desired. Spread strawberry jam on the inner surface of each cake. Place one layer on a plate, spreading cream over the jam. Sandwich the cream with the upper cake.

Decorate by sifting a fine layer of confectioner’s sugar on top and add sliced strawberries. Slice to serve.

Spring ~ a Season for Change

March 12, 2013
emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Fr...

emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Français : emblème pontifical Italiano: emblema del Papato Português: Emblema papal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did you hear we are getting a new pope?

Benedict made it what…. 8 years? He did have a hard act to follow with John XXIII changing things the way he did in the sixties with Vatican II. Then came Paul and the two John Pauls. Not counting the first John Paul who went out early the way most popes do by dying after only serving 30 days, JP II kind of brought back the dynamic in the pope-hood.

Of course, the Catholic Church has been riding some pretty rough tides lately that even JPII couldn’t have calmed. There has always been grumblings about the church and its money and its power, but all that is nothing compared to the priests and child abuse charges that started surfacing some decades back.

Disgusting, contemptible, unbelievable, shameful, heartbreaking, life-altering ~ I can’t think of enough adjectives to describe my feelings. But I’m not here to debate the handling of that mess. My brother and many of the boys in my neighborhood were altar boys. They say nothing happened to them. There are those who are fighting this fight. I support them.

But what of the Church now, in the 21st century? Is it time for a Vatican 3?

I have debated this subject with family, friends and even the parish priest and I have to say I am torn. I never considered myself, or anyone in my family, one of the “good” Catholics. Sure, we went to church on Sunday, attended parochial school and received all the Sacraments. With nine children, my Catholic mom and non-Catholic father did their best to pay for the schooling and keep us in line with its teachings. But we never said grace at meals, we never really had any religious statues or a crucifix in our home, we even stopped going to Mass on Christmas and Easter because my mom said it was too crowded.

But I always loved the traditions, the celebrations, the music, and the mystery surrounding the church. Vatican II changed some of those traditions by taking away Latin Masses, dressing down the nuns, turning the altar around so we could see what the priests were doing during the service, and even allowing non-priests (lay people) to give us Communion and girls to become altar servers. Big changes for the traditionalist in all of us.

So do we now let priests get married and allow women to take on this traditionally male role? Do we build stadiums with flat screens and coffee bars instead of cathedrals?

There is probably room for some much-needed changes and hopefully this new pope can turn things around but from me, this “not so great” Catholic, I can’t say the church needs to get with the times because times will always change. There will always be that new religion right around the corner designing itself to please the masses. And that’s okay because if it makes you a better person, that’s good for all of us.

But I think there is a reason the Catholic Church is still here and getting a new pope is big news. And although I do not attend mass on a regular basis, I know when I do it’s a safe and comfortable environment for me.

Bottom line is I think we really need to look deep into our souls and ask ourselves what we need to fill our spirit and live a good life because it’s all pretty basic ~ treat all with love and respect.

All the rest is just trimming.


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