"Show me a good pool player and I will show you a wasted youth." That is what my friend Stephanie used to say.

And she was a great pool player. Me, not so much.

I spent my teenage years sitting in Mary's bedroom reproducing album covers ad nauseam.

I mean we would draw for hours. That happy state of affairs when you get so engrossed in the moment and time just flies.

Bruce! We love ya still. Here's one from 1976.

Under Pressure ... but in a good way

Lorna Sass is my culinary hero and Goddess of the pressure cooker. The pressure cooker being the most underused and magnificent cooking implement ever!

Everyone thinks the pressure cooker is an antiquated appliance from the 50s that will blow up at a moments notice and you will be scraping pea soup off the ceiling ... but it simply isn't so. I used to think that, but Lorna taught me otherwise.

The really great thing about pressure cookers is that they are really fast and they keep all those nutrients locked in. I used to wait 40 minutes to have a steamed artichokes ... minutes with a pressure cooker. Mashed potatoes, lentil soup, and steamed puddings in minutes. This should be what we call fast food.

I just googled her and found she has her own site, check it out at and get sucked into the world of healthy cooking with pressure cookers.

Say You Want Rocky Road ... It's Only Polite

Ask for Rocky Road if you want Rocky Road
Not every summer, but almost every summer we would make the long drive from Minnesota, just south of the Twin Cities to Northern Vermont. The Northeast Kingdom was a wild and spookily rural place just on the Canadian border. It was always an event and my father's family would come down from Southern Quebec to visit.

Aunt Evenlyn, my very sweet second Aunt, left the car to pick up two pints of ice cream for dessert. I remember sitting in the car squashed between grownups. Sitting in the middle of the backseat with my feet on the bump she leaned in through the car window and asked for suggestions from the carload of visiting relatives.

After she left, I sighed, "Oh I sure hope she gets Rocky Road." My Dad, very kindly and with sincere appreciation thanked me for not saying anything. I know that he was pleased because I was showing self control and discipline. I was being polite.

Aunt Evelyn came back from the store. I was in luck. She returned with Rocky Road. We giggled at my good fortune and told her that was the flavor I was hoping she would get.

But she asked! 

She asked what we wanted. Why wasn't answering her question okay?

I think about that now. When I ask someone what they want I really want to know. I am trying to find out what they really do want and I don't want politeness I want their answer.

Days of Purple Tights and Tony Lamas

I wanted to say "I too wore purple tights little chickie."
I too wore purple tights little chickie.

Yesterday I was walking the dog. It was Friday night. I saw a girl in purple tights.

My Friday nights are mellow. I love to go to bed right after Ella is all tucked in. I bring a book and I fall asleep with my glasses on and book in my lap. When I wake up bright and early on Saturday morning I slink out and try to find where Darin set my book and glasses so I can come out to the living room and have my quiet time.

But it wasn't always that way.

As I passed a gaggle of girls, starting their Friday night, each with an expectation of their evening and excitement for oncoming adventure. One stuck out. She was wearing purple tights and a skirt that was clearly too short for her comfort as she kept pulling on it, not quite believing that it was covering her "assets."

I took a second look to take in her outfit. Recognizing the 80s being remodeled I wanted to check out what she had put together. She cast me a scolding look as if maybe I disapproved.

I wanted to tell her "Hey Chickie don't be fooled ... I too wore purple tights." Not all your Friday nights are going to look like this.

You too will grow up.

And you just might be surprised at how much more fun life is at 41 in sweatpants walking the dog on a Friday night than being 21 running around looking for .... for whatever it is that we look for.

Oracles Anonymous ... So Punk Are You Feeling Lucky?

"Those with fuzzy dice or bumper stickers are not readily distinguishable from other motorists in terms of accidents or risk-taking behaviors."
Oracles Anonymous was a phrase I coined to wean myself away from horoscopes, magic eight balls and other fortune telling devices. Get on the Oracle Wagon and take charge of your own luck was my battle cry.

As the sole member of my OA group I refuse to read my horoscope, even if for only entertainment purposes, I am simply too suggestible.

I gave astrology a shot. I had my chart done, I learned about rising signs and the Moon phases, in fact I tracked them for an entire year and still found absolutely no correlation to my life.

And so I said STOP! It's madness. I felt it took away my ability, my responsibility to "make my own luck."

Plucking daisies, eenie, meeny, miny, moe, all of it has got to go.

A Lightning House Story

This January I visited my friend Mary. I arrived on her snowy doorstep heartbroken and dearly in need of comfort.

It was three days after my mother died.

I hadn't been to Mary's house in years. But it was filled with so much "Mary-ness" that I felt immediately at home.

Mary told me the story of the "Lightning House." It was a story about a couple who moved into this house, recommended by the wife's father, and after he passed away the most remarkable series of house repairs prompted by lightening strikes occurred. Each time the insurance settlement was the exact amount needed for various emergencies and repairs. The couple was actually so spooked they ended up moving.

Then Mary said ... I wonder what signs you will have from your Mom. I laughed. Honestly, I wasn't ready for any signs and I don't want anything to do with lightning. I just want to get through the day without crying.

I had arrived 30 minutes after her time of death. Flying out from San Diego I had imagined arriving at the Woodridge Nursing Home to sit by her bedside, to set my hand on her pale freckled arm, to have her oooh and ahhh over her sweaters that I had worn for her.

But it wasn't like that. Not at all. I arrived at her room in time to sit by her side, but she was no longer there.

That night I got a Facebook message from a dear childhood friend, Lisa (aka Little Lisa) she had had a dream in which she visited my Mom and I. She said she had a fabulous visit with us in her dream.

I laughed, not cried, I laughed. It was just so typical. Mary and Lisa were lifelong friends. In so many ways my Mom shared my friendship with them, just as I shared her Mom-ness with them. They both loved her and they both understood my loss so completely. It made me feel not quite so alone.

Leaving Vermont on the puddle jumper to our connecting flight out of JFK Darin and I didn't have seats next to each other. I sat next to a woman who shared pictures of her grandson and said she hated to fly. But she was visiting her daughter and nothing would stop her. That sounded like my Mom. She would always say before visiting "I just want to get my hands on you."

Exhausted I leaned against the closed airplane window shade and fell asleep. I didn't wake until we were taxiing to our gate at JFK.

I heard a click click click. I looked over to see pale freckled arms knitting away. The woman was wearing my Mom's shirt. The exact shirt. And she was knitting away.

I shoved my face in my jacket and wept.

But this time I wept because I know now that she's always with me. This time I wept because I just got a little inkling of how much I was loved.

And love doesn't go away.

The Egg of Independence

Easter has passed and there are now 90 days till the Fourth of July.

With plastic grass vacuumed up, singing bunnies tucked back onto the "holiday shelf" and just the remaining candy in homage to the passing holiday my sights are set on the Fourth of July, Independence Day.

What do I want to think about as I watch the fireworks go off over San Clemente Pier?
What do I want to have accomplish in the next 90 days?

Every year the Fourth sneaks up on me. I wait patiently for summer and then before I know it BAM it's the Fourth of July.

Maybe it's because San Clemente is out on a point and our May and Junes can be fogging and overcast. Maybe it's because I get my head stuck in work and don't look up.

Either way it's not happening this year.