Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Potato Salad - because I can

It's summer and therefore potato salad season. Here is my sought-after recipe for the best potato salad ever (uhm, I have not given it this moniker. I'm too modest. It's just effing potato salad for crying out loud.) But it amused me to blog this. And this is...allaboutme.

If you were to use a whole 10lb bag of potatoes (which I do if its a large party), I peel maybe 60% of the skin off the potatoes. I like the color and texture of the skin in the salad. Boil them, let them cool.

I'd boil between 8 - 12 eggs, you know the drill, let cool and peel. I then take either a wire wisk or a pastry cutter and I cut those eggs up into little tiny tiny bits (because I hate egg and I HATE getting a jiggly mouthful of egg white. Blech.) I do NOT want to know egg is there. That's just me. I'm just telling you what I do. :)

4-5 stalks of celery, one red onion (you can use any kind of onion you want or have, I like the red ones because they are a little sweeter).

After chopping and prepping, I mix all that up in a big bowl or pan. Don't be afraid to be stern with your mixing! I like to have sort of a very lumpy mashed potato consistency. Square chunks of potato, while nice for some cooks, just isn't my style. I will add some salt and pepper at this point and, if I have it, some celery seed. Not a lot of any of it.

I then squirt in some mustard. Just a good stiff squirt. Mayonnaise is a little trickier; I mostly just add until everything is moistened. Sometimes I add too much; its a crap shoot. Once I'm committed though, I mix it all up, taste it, add salt and pepper to taste, (have Meg try if I'm not sure) put in a pretty bowl, sprinkle with paprika and cross my fingers.

You can add sweet pickle relish, ham chunks, and a variety of other spices. I would for myself, but when for a bunch-o-people, I keep it simple. That seems to work best. Some people have a crazy aversion to sweet pickles. Imagine!

Enter summer event, plop bowl on table. Oh, and if it comes out particularly well, save a small bowl for yourself to have in the fridge for leftovers. You don't want to take the bowl home from the party. You don't know what spoons got in there.

Monday, May 28, 2007


"Home is where your family is together." So spake Noah Bennett to his daughter Claire on the season finale of "Heroes".

Necessity has required that I drive to New York three times in the last two months. It is a six hour drive from where I live to where one of my younger sisters live in upstate NY - just under 800 miles round trip. I always wind up driving another 800 - 1000 miles while I'm in New York going here and there. Visiting Mom, other siblings, friends and relatives in an effort to make sure that those who are important to me know it. It makes me sad when I can't see everyone I want to.

In April, my older sister was hospitalized with symptoms of a heart attack. We have gotten closer since my divorce; united sometimes in pain over our ex-husbands, sometimes in frustration over our children, always laughing at our aging bodies and minds. It was important that I be there.

In May, my future daughter in law was being showered with gifts to start her new life married to my son. A different trip; laced with the joy of new things. New dishes, new microwave, new home, new beginnings. It was appropriate, I thought, that this was held the weekend of Mothers' Day. It was important that I be there.

This last week, my second cousin, Val, a 53 year old mother of two passed away, taken too young and too soon by cancer. To be honest, I didn't know Val well at all. She was in my Mom's wedding back in 1961 and I had seen her at various gatherings of my Mom's side of the family growing up. She was the daughter of my Aunt Winnie and Uncle Roy; two of the finest people to ever live. I imagine that at some point one has to feel that they've lived too long, having to bury a beloved only daughter. It was important that I be there.

AWinnie and URoy. As I said, two of the finest people on the planet. Uncle Roy, now at 81, was our mailman forever until he retired to work on the family dairy concern and care for his horses. A practical joker with ever a smile on his face. Aunt Winnie, my Gramma's sister, now 78, always ready with a smile and to pitch in to help. After my Dad passed, they were always there for my Mom ~ helping with my ailing Gramma, sometimes in the background, but if any of us needed anything, they were there. You could always count on them. I could do little, but just wanted them to know how sorry I was that they had lost their daughter and how much I loved them.

So we talked and talked. We had a wonderful visit. I spent three hours with them listening about Val, and when they were done they wanted to hear about my children and my life. Then I drove home.

But talking about old times I passed some major landmarks of my youth. I passed Gramma's house that Grampa had built for her. The weeping willow tree that we spent so many hours under ("It's a full ten degrees cooler under there!" ~ Gramma) swinging, dancing, climbing, playing, singing, stealing the cigarette butts Grampa threw away. We dashed behind her trunk and "smoked". I imagine the willow loved cradling us in her arms and listening to our laughter, cooling us in the summer heat, sheltering us from rain, protecting us as we slept on cots outside. The tree has since been thoughtlessly chopped down by the heathen owners of Gramma's house who didn't know that that tree was as much a part of the family as any person.

I passed "Robbie the Robot" - an electrically wired pylon or whatever it was that we named as children and one year when all of us were together, decided it was a good idea to try to climb it. The stupid adults yelled at us and made us get down. Fortunately they caught us before Shaun was killed (having been the swiftest climber) but still...stupid parents...they were so lame.

Then I passed a convenience store where the first true love of my life had gotten into a gang fight and was arrested...on television...it made the news. I watched every single news cast that night and it was on every single time. *Sigh. How I loved Trace. I was all of 15.

I passed the farms, assailed by the scent of upstate New York farmland in summer. Uncle Roy apologized to me for smelling like a barn. I smiled; "No. I like it. You smell like my Dad. I miss that." I hugged him again and breathed in deeply.

I worried briefly that my life was in essence passing before my eyes - perhaps a bad omen. Naaaahhhhhhh. I go again to New York in June for the wedding. Beginnings. Middles. Ends. It's important that I be there.

"Home is where your family is together." So say I too.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Watching Them Go

Two thirds of my children are living on their own.

It's been the normal progression really and it has all been right and good. But somehow nothing quite moves a mom to tears more than the prospect of watching her son take the hand of a beautiful woman in marriage.

Joshua, is getting married to Stephanie on June 9th. I could not be happier. But driving home tonight, a song came on the radio that made me cry. I'll be honest, it made me cry when the kids were babies, but now....oooooof. I started to remember the day Josh was born. It was November, he was a month early, and I had 21 hours of labor (only the last 18 were hard). I remember Mom and Dad coming in my hospital room. They must have seen the hole in my sock; without saying a word, Dad walked out and came back with a package of new socks for me to wear. They waited. Then Rob's Mom, Dad and Grandmother came down. They waited. The Giants must have been playing on the television because I distinctly remember telling Rob that a contraction was coming and he said, "Hold on. They are in the middle of a play." So I waited. Rob will, of course, deny this if you ask him. (Adam was born during baseball season, Yankees were playing...you do the math).

The pushing was the worst and I remember thinking mid screeAAAAMMM was that my parents, my in laws and my 70 year old grandmother-in-law could all hear me. What must they think? How mortifying. At the end of it I had a 6 lb 7 oz son in my arms and Rob ran out of the room to our parents (and his Mainer Grandmother) and shouted "I DID IT!"

Holding Joshua in the recovery room was the only time I felt a true surge of physical euphoria.

I look back on it and we were both so young. Neither one of us knew what we were in for. We tried so hard and we did our best. But you wish at that second that you hold them as you wish always that you do the right things for your children. You worry, Did I yell too much? Did I yell too little? Will they remember what I told them? Will they be good people? Will they be happy? Did I screw them up completely? And you just want to tell them, I love you. I love you. I love you. You are never alone. No matter what, no matter if you are good or bad, fat or thin, rich or poor, virtuous or hose bag, I love you. Call me if you can. Only if you feel like it. Are you ok? Can you pay your bills? You need money? Will you tell me if you need something? Please don't hurt, please God don't ever let them hurt. Oh God, I can't keep them from hurting anymore.

So sometimes I cry and all times I miss them, but I am so proud of my three children. Proud of the fine people they are. I think I am most proud that they've never ever been afraid to tell their Dad and I that they love us. Even during the difficult teenage years, dropping them off at school, in full view of God and country, they'd hug us good bye and tell us they loved us. I know Robbie and I did good.

Forever Young (R. Stewart/J. Cregan/K. Savigar)

May the good lord be with you
Down every road you roam
And may sunshine and happiness
Surround you when youre far from home
And may you grow to be proud
Dignified and true
And do unto others
As you'd have done to you
Be courageous and be brave
And in my heart youll always stay
Forever young, forever young
Forever young, forever young

May good fortune be with you
May your guiding light be strong
Build a stairway to heaven
With a prince or a vagabond

And may you never love in vain
And in my heart you will remain
Forever young, forever young
Forever young, forever young
Forever young
Forever young

And when you finally fly away
Ill be hoping that I served you well
For all the wisdom of a lifetime
No one can ever tell

But whatever road you choose
I'm right behind you, win or lose
Forever young, forever young
Forever young ,forever young
Forever young, forever young
For, forever young, forever young

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