This and That

Musings on Being a Writer and My Life
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Baking for Fun and Frustration?

  • May 30, 2017 3:13 am

 

Every now and then I decide to amaze visitors to my home with my baking skills. My Book Club members were the latest witnesses to my baking “skills.”

Now, before I relate this story, I should preface it by saying that I have been cooking since I was a little kid—around the age of 7. I remember lighting our gas stove  when I was in second grade and making eggs for my sister and me. One of my specialties back then was eggs that had “crispy” edges (read slightly burned).  To this day, my sister likes her eggs cooked really well, for which I would like to take credit.

Well, many years have passed, and I’m happy to say that I can cook eggs really well now—I make great omelets and poached eggs among other delectable dishes.

But, I have to admit that baking has never been my forte.

So—my Book Club was coming to my house for the first time recently—and I wanted to make it special. I decide that I wanted to serve artisanal cheeses, fruit and mini-quiche. Yummy!

I scoured the supermarket for those tasty frozen mini-quiches that you just pop in the oven and voila—serve your guests as they o-h-h and a-h-h. They were nowhere to be found.  Then I spied packages of fluted (fluted!!) phyllo dough mini-quiche shells. Wow! I was delighted!

I took them home and then searched for quiche recipes. (I’ve made quiche many times before—but I was looking for the “easy” version.)

The night of the meeting, I was busy mixing and stirring and filling the fluted mini shells with what I hoped would be a delectable quiche mixture.

Soon after placing them in the oven, I realized that something was wrong. When I checked their progress, I noticed that the quiche shells were flattening out and the filling was running out of them onto the pan.  Oh, I forgot to mention that I used my favorite pan—a round pizza pan with holes in it which usually produces perfect cookies. Not only was the filling running out of the previously fluted phyllo shells, it was dripping through the perforations in the pan. My hope and dreams of presenting beautiful little quiches to my new Book Club were dashed! I removed the pan from the oven, and attempted to salvage at least a few of the darling little things—only to realize that they were completely tasteless—apparently I didn’t season them enough.  Most of them were flat circles with the remnants of a bland eggy mixture.

The next day, my friend Susan called me and said that she woke up in the middle of the night and realized what I had done wrong. It seems that the adorable fluted mini-quiche shells should be baked in a mini-muffin pan—not on a flat surfaced pizza pan!

I may never be able to test that theory.

Mini-quiche and I are parting ways. It’s an amicable breakup—we just realize that we can never be friends.

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The few almost edible mini-quiche

 

 

It’s Always Something

  • November 20, 2015 2:33 am
Kathy Joyce Glascott

  It’s always something: Something to celebrate, something to mourn, something to regret, something to attend to. I miss my husband. Because it is always something: a phone call or three; a doctor’s appointment; walking the dog; visiting friends, laundry; cleaning; the list is endless. I do it all alone. Alone. If I need help,…

Chasing a Dream

  • October 9, 2015 2:48 am

dreams-not-your-life-881020_1280

It’s hard to chase a dream. Dreams are ephemeral and unpredictable. They’re illogical. They don’t follow the rules of physics.

Dreams can make you feel elated or leave you empty and confused.

When you wake from a dream, it can be a hard landing back to reality.

I feel like I am chasing a dream right now as I face the most difficult part of having my latest book, Elvis Saves a Marriage…published: trying to foster interest in it.

It’s an intricate ballet of pushing the book a little here and there and exhausting people. You don’t want your efforts at promoting the book to feel like forcing people to watch a never-ending telethon.

But it is a necessary step in being an author. Even mid-list authors have to promote their books—through personal appearances, radio interviews, and book signings. The only ones who are somewhat exempt are A-listers who are a sure sell. And they have staffs to plan their promotion campaigns—and get to travel to exciting places and be on TV interview shows.

Writers like me are the author and promoter all wrapped up into one person. It can feel daunting.

From the time I was old enough to envision a future, I knew deep in my heart that I wanted to spend my life writing. I describe myself now as a writer who was disguised as a teacher for many years.

But I am a dream chaser. And no matter how upside down, how illogical, or how difficult it is, I will continue to follow this dream.

 

Graphic courtesy of Pixabay

 

     Real Estate

  • August 23, 2015 11:43 pm

boat ride

Some friends and I had a wonderful day out today. We went to nearby Winter Park, a chi-chi destination in the Orlando area. We took the iconic Winter Park Boat Ride—an attraction (for want of a better word) that has been around for decades.

An open boat powered by an outboard motor cruises through three of the Winter Park-Maitland chain of lakes. It’s a pleasant ride featuring views of beautiful homes, scenery, and parts of Rollins College.

The tour guide was a man who probably helped launch the business 40+ years ago. He pointed out all of the historic sights, and commented on the beautiful homes that ringed the lakes. I don’t need to tell you that the homes were enormous—some as large as 20,000 square feet! He also entertained us by telling us that purchasing a lot on the lake would cost at least a million dollars.

When I lived in Western New York, my husband and his brother co-owned an outboard motor boat. We loved to go out on Lake Erie and ogle the mansions that lined the lake shore.

We’ve also been to Ft. Lauderdale where there is a boat ride that travels through the canals that crisscross that city. And, needless to say, part of the cruise takes you past big, expensive mansions, and yachts that have their own swimming pools and helicopter pads!

It occurred to me at one time that these cruises had one odd thing in common—taking middle class folks past homes they could never afford to own. It’s almost like a tease—“See what rich folks have—that you will NEVER have!”  It reminds me of a song from Camelot, “What Do the Simple Folk Do?,” only in reverse.

There I was again today, ogling the unattainable real estate—and loving every minute of it!

 

Picture courtesy of Pixabay

 

 

I Feel Blessed

  • July 10, 2015 3:35 am

 

 

I feel blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful people.

Trite? Maybe.Friendship chinese-676654__180 Pixababy

But consider this: my life took a drastic left turn on August 25, 2012 at 10 p.m.

My husband died.

I thought I was ready—six months of watching him die in bits and pieces should have prepared me. But it didn’t.

I went through the motions, appearing to be in control for several weeks.

Then I laid down on the couch and stayed there for months.

What dragged me out of my monumental funk?

Family and friends.

First it was my sister and sister-in-law who made me accomplish the important tasks necessary when someone dies.

I joined two key groups—a Widows Club and the Singles Club. These were the people who got it; the people who understood my pain and let me talk. I continued to participate in my Writing Group: a gathering of intelligent, vital, and interesting women who shared my passion for writing. Through that group I had opportunities to express my creative self.

The next three years brought challenges I couldn’t imagine: three surgeries, two bouts with MRSA, and then cancer, the deaths of my beloved brother and sister, in addition to several friends and other relatives.

My life raft through all this turmoil was family (of course) and the friends who stepped in and became a safety net.

Yes, I feel blessed.

 

 

The Widow’s Club

  • June 29, 2015 2:49 am

 

It’s not a club I clamored to join. In fact, none of the members wanted to join it.

We were recruited in the harshest of all possible ways.

The initiation was almost as difficult as any street gang’s—we had to experience the death of the person most of us would call “our best friend, lover and life partner”—our husbands.

My inaugural date is coming on its third anniversary this August—the day Dan died.

I now know  that joining this club has helped me to make sense of all that happened in the eight months preceding my husband’s death. I’ve had many opportunities to share stories and memories, and I’ve received empathy and sympathy, but never pity, from the other women.  Knowing these women who have experienced what I did, and have continued to thrive, encourages me.

I see the common threads that are woven through all of our experiences: the feelings of loss, of being adrift, the anger, the sadness, and the confusion that follows the death of a spouse or partner.

Through the sharing, I’ve felt a lot less alone than I did before.

And on a more upbeat note, I’ve had some fun with my widow friends. We socialize, enjoy one another’s company, and have bonded individually and as a group. I’ve even learned to laugh again.

Losing my husband was a trauma. But I am grateful that the Widow’s Club was here, so when I went into my

woman-511849__180 Pixabay free fall, there was a safety net.

 

 

Picture courtesy of Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Unwelcome Visitor

  • June 6, 2015 4:48 pm

 

 

The most unwelcome of all visitors called on me recently.

This visitor is never welcomed and usually not greeted with any enthusiasm.

If fact, when you, your friends, and family find that it has called upon you, they, like you, are worried concerned and fearful.

The visitor was cancer. The “Big C.”

It intruded into my life sometime in late January with the “incidental” discovery of a (thankfully) small tumor in my right kidney. Unbeknownst to me, it had been there for two years—but recently had started to grow.

I felt overwhelmed at first with the myriad decisions I had to make. Where to seek treatment? Should I go back to where my family is (now that I am a widow) in Buffalo? Stay here in Florida and lean heavily on my circle of friends? Could I still go on my much anticipated trip to Hawai’i? Would I survive? What would be the financial and emotional cost to me, my daughter, family and friends?

I finally came up with a plan—and after much consultation, thought, and prayer, I decided to stay in Florida and seek treatment at the Moffitt Cancer Center in nearby Tampa.

Happily, my surgeon Okayed my Hawai’i trip and I blissfully spent some magical time there.

My friends have rallied around me, doing all of the things I need. My family supported me in my decisions—and best of all, the surgery was a great success—so far.

I still have weeks of recovery to look forward to, but I’m trying to do more and more every day.

Writing this blog post is a huge breakthrough for me. Up till now, I’ve kept the “news” of my cancer limited to family and friends. I did make a onetime status update on Facebook as a courtesy to those who correspond with me on that venue.

Sometimes I wonder why I was  so reluctant to go public (as it were) with my cancer diagnosis.

I wonder if by not announcing it, I’ve made it less real to myself. Or if I was  trying to fool myself.

No matter what, I’m looking forward to being a cancer “thriver”—which is what my many friends who have looked this unwanted intruder right in the eye, and stared it down–call it.

 

 

 

 

Is Nothing Sacred?

  • March 27, 2015 2:13 am

 

 

In the last two years, my life has been turned upside down by the death of my husband and then my brother.

These deaths affected everyone in my family—including my brothers and sisters.

Shortly after my brother passed away, one of my other brothers was “zinged” (his word) by a Face Book “friend” over the death of our brother.

Which leads to the question, is nothing sacred?

My first reaction to my brother’s posts about forgiveness and kindness were to want to beat this woman up—and I am a pacifist. I was utterly astounded that anyone could be that insensitive. Making a joke about our beloved brother’s death was beyond comprehension.

But, is that what’s happening? Is nothing sacred?

I wonder. Religion is fair game and tradition is fair game. Does this lead to less civility?

I’m not sure. I do know this.

Some things are sacred.

Death. The loss of a loved one is a heart-wrenching experience. Memories are all that’s left. And the ones left behind are alone, lonely, and sometimes frightened. They need kindness, understanding and solace, not a lame joke about death.

Religion. A person’s religious beliefs should be sacred, no matter your own feelings about religion. I casually mentioned that I pray every day when I was out with friends a while ago. While they were respectful, they were incredulous. The idea of a mature adult praying struck them as somewhat odd.

Confidences. The secrets people share shouldn’t be fodder for gossip. I once knew someone who would worm her way into someone’s life, become that person’s confidant. and then regale everyone with the secrets her victim had shared. I admit that this is an extreme example, but gossiping is just as devastating—just on a smaller scale.

Being kind and caring in an increasing cynical and angry society isn’t easy. Personally, I’d rather be the exception than find myself mired in the muck of cruelty and insensitivity.

 

 

Happy Valentines Day

  • February 14, 2015 3:31 pm

 

Valentine’s Day—a day devoted to purchasing flowers, candy and jewelry and maybe something a little naughty for your significant other. Many folks feel it’s overrated as a holiday. It’s too commercialized, and benefits only the florists and candy makers, and of course, Hallmark and American Greetings.

I disagree. To me Valentine’s Day is a day set aside to celebrate love and all that means in our lives. It’s really not about cards, candy and flowers, although there’s nothing wrong with any of that! To me Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to stop and think about all of the people we love. It’s the perfect opportunity to tell others that we love them, appreciate them, and that they make our lives better.

Does that require flowers, candy or trinkets? Not really. It does require extending good wishes for a happy day to the special people in our lives.

All of our holidays are over commercialized, in my opinion. So using that as a reason to shun Valentine’s Day seems quite lame.

Think of how much better our lives would be if we celebrated Valentine’s Day every month; if we took the time to appreciate, love and cherish others.

Valentine heart

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Picture credit: www.2littlehooligans.com

A Taste of Home

  • August 1, 2014 3:25 pm

I think everyone who moves away from home nostalgically remembers foods they loved and can’t get anymore.

New Yorkers wax poetically about bagels, pizza and well, just about everything else. Those of us from Buffalo have a soft place in our hearts for chicken wings (notice I did not say Buffalo wings), beef on weck, Ted’s hot dogs  and the Friday Fish Fry , to say nothing about Anderson’s ice cream.

When I go back to Buffalo, I look forward to these delicacies. This last trip was no exception, of course. On my way to the hotel after I arrived in Buffalo, I stopped at Danny’s, a landmark restaurant, and indulged in the “Taste of Buffalo Platter” which included a small beef on weck with horseradish, and four delectable chicken wings. Weck, by the way, is a crusty roll with rye seeds and kosher salt on top.  Delicious!

The next night, I had dinner with some family members—and I ordered a traditional Buffalo fish fry. If you’re from the Midwest or many places in New York State, you know what a fish fry is: a huge piece of fried fish served with macaroni salad (notice it’s not pasta salad—that’s for you fancy types), potato salad and Cole slaw. It’s not Weight Watcher’s food—but it’s yummy.

These local delicacies are not found in chain restaurants or upscale restaurants. This is comfort food and is found in bars, which usually have a back room which serves as a restaurant.

Is there anything better than the taste of home?