coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Fly home, little bird

When I wrote this (before the holiday), my granddaughter E was in the air making her way home for Thanksgiving.  It was the first time she flew alone. She is 18. Her first flight left at 6:00 am. I was up at 5:30 to text and make sure she made that early damn flight, because I'm a worry wart and an anxious freak. She did, no problems. 

It reminds me of my first solo air travel. I was also 18, making my way from Chicago to San Francisco. My friends picked me up in South Bend and drove me to O'Hare airport in Chicago. When I said goodbye to my mother, I clung to her and cried. All it would have taken for me to stay was for her to ask me to. But instead, in her greater wisdom she said "This is what you want, go do it." So I did.  

Me in San Francisco, 1970, turning 19

Friday, November 25, 2022

Murray the Cat: Hide and Seek

Grandson N came over after school today. The first thing we did was play hide and seek out back. I was it. I counted to 20. When I opened my eyes and walked out to look for N and Tom, I saw Murray the Cat sitting at the edge of the large split leaf philodendron, sniffing and crying. I walked over and spied N behind it. I tagged him. Then I said, “Murray, where is Tom?”  

First he jumped up in the air with pure joy. Then he slowly walked to the opposite part of the yard where he stopped in front of a large needle palm, behind which I could see Tom’s back end sticking out. Tagged him, too. Thank you, Murray. Good boy.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Birthright? part II

How many people see creativity is their birthright? Who assumes it is forbidden fruit, out of reach, not there for people like them? Who feels a creative moment must be stolen when no one's looking, especially when no one's looking?

I think creativity IS our birthright. There are so many ways to be creative, not just the arts. We all have certain gifts. Some lucky dogs have the means to develop those gifts. Some poor souls don't, unless by some inexplicable act of cosmic grace they are presented with an opportunity and run with it. This is the stuff of legend. 

Others do not get an opportunity, for an infinite variety of reasons. Then there are people who have the means but waste their talents.  Why? 

You say with blinding arrogance "Why didn't they pick themselves up by their own bootstraps?" Really? You know that's physically impossible, right? Show me a successful person and I'll show you a person who had some sort of help along the way. Even if it was only a teacher who encouraged you, an employer who took a chance and hired you, a grandmother who whispered affirmations in your ear. Or maybe you're one of those lucky dogs who ran smack dab into that inexplicable freaking opportunity referred to above? 

Still, I'm writing from privilege, aren't I? There are places where hope has no home. Try to imagine. Little wonder that there are so many angry, bitter people. What a sinful waste of talent exists in a world of haves and have nots.  

Is it naive to hope for a world where each and every one of us could expect to reach our creative potential? Of course it is. But still, I hope for that better world. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Birthright? part I

I'm in the midst of a New Yorker article about Emma Thompson and I need to come up for air. It's one of those articles so dense and chewy you never want it to end. 

Thompson has had a full life, complete with joy and sorrow. She's bright, articulate, hard working, funny, creative; absolutely amazing, really. What strikes me is how matter-of-fact she is. What she is missing is anxiety, the absence of which is stunning. 

Emma's had bad things happen, everyone has. She reacts appropriately to any given situation, then moves on. I could be wrong, but I don't think she has spent significant time cowering in the recesses of her psyche, damaged and anticipating the worst. How did she escape that? Or does she just do a good job of hiding that part of herself? 

Perhaps it's that she was born into a family of actors? She had parents who valued intelligent expression, encouraged an appreciation of comedy, and were of reasonably comfortable means. They were supportive of her. Having "enough" money helps. Knowing one will have the means to achieve a dream IF one has the talent must be comforting. Creativity would seem like your birthright. My shoulders relax just imagining.  

And I begin to think.

Thursday, November 10, 2022


Another ridiculously heartbreaking Florida election cycle, and then a late season hurricane two days later.  Need I say more?  

Monday, November 7, 2022

Hungarian Goulash!

My brother, Big D, came for dinner last night.  He was on a business trip and stopped over to visit. We grew up in a super ethnic enclave in South Bend, Indiana, with a Hungarian bakery, businesses, etc. Our church was Our Lady of Hungary, which offered the early morning mass in Hungarian. My four younger siblings went to Our Lady's parochial school. Although we are not that ethnicity, growing up there introduced us to an amazing Eastern European cuisine. Of course I made Hungarian Goulash for dinner. It was fabulous.  Here's the recipe:


3 pounds beef, I use thick cut of lean beef, like round

1 onion, sliced

2 – 3 cloves of garlic, split in two

3 Tablespoons paprika (Hungarian sweet style - see photo)

1 small can of tomato paste (6 oz equals 170 g)

4 - 5 potatoes, peeled. Cut into 1 ½ - 2 inch chunks

5 carrots, scraped and cut about an inch thick

bay leaf

hot water - almost to a boil

salt, pepper


Cut excessive fat off meat and cut meat into 1 ½  to 2 inches cubes.*  

Roll meat cubes in mix of flour, salt, and pepper to coat. Brown meat in skillet. Transfer browned meat to slow cooker.  

While browning, put a  3 qt. (2.8 liter) pot of water on stove to heat. 

After removing meat, pour some heated water to the skillet, and stir in a bit of salt/pepper/paprika to flavor the juice in the pan.  

Add 2/3 can of tomato paste to the rest of the water left in the heated pot, and stir. Add salt/pepper/paprika.

Add both skillet juice and tomato paste/hot water over the meat in the slow cooker - enough to fully cover the meat and make it soupy.  

Add sliced onion, bay leaf, and split garlic pieces. Add another tablespoon of Hungarian paprika. Then cover and simmer on low for 6 hours in slow cooker.  

Add carrot pieces about an hour after you put the meat in the cooker.  

Add potatoes about an hour after you add the carrots. 

Salt and pepper to taste.

I confess I probably use more than 3 TBS