I thought I had forgotten how to cook… This really bothered me.
There was a certain peace I derived from cooking for my family or friends, but the last few times I made my surefire dishes, it was a total failure. They weren’t cooked long enough, slightly burnt, lacked flavor, or just simply not good. Bob would say “I’m just not hungry,” but I knew he was. We had gotten into the habit of bringing in, taking out, late lunches, scrambled eggs, a cooked chicken from the market, or a turkey sandwich that would suffice for dinner.
I realize that the joy of cooking a satisfying meal was a leftover from when my kids were young and would say “great meal, Mom,” and I would feel that all’s right with the world. My mothering was intact!
Let’s face it, Bob did not marry me for my cooking, but when I would make him a meatloaf, chicken or brisket and he would say “I’m in heaven,” it gave me that great “mother knows best” kind-of-feeling again. I liked it! When those meals failed, I thought maybe my cooking days are over. Maybe it was the electric stove or that my timing was just… “off.” I didn’t know. I said to myself: that’s it. I’m through. Maybe, I just forgot until…
But first, a little back story. Two days ago, I noticed Bob hadn’t been eating a lot lately; he looked thin, and not only was that unhealthy, but I felt guilty! I said to him, “I’m going to make you a meatloaf tomorrow. Enough of these catch-as-catch-can dinners. I’m going to try one more time.
…We went to the market together, bought the ingredients together, and today, while he tried to remember how to play golf, I tried to remember how to cook… a meatloaf.
Okay, Alexa. Play some Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars, and let’s go! As I peeled the potatoes, onions and carrots, I was singing and dancing. A girlfriend stopped by and we continued dancing as I was cooking. I had a good feeling about the whole thing! I took down my white and blue roasting pan with a top-cover (like the one we all had a million years ago), threw in my secret ingredients, and put it in the oven at 350. Game on.
My Student-Assistant came over to help with some mysterious things I can’t do on the computer, and we worked for a couple of hours while Bob was watching a baseball game in the other room. Meanwhile, I kept checking on my meatloaf. I basted once or twice, and it looked good, but it did before, too…so you never know. There was a lot riding on this one. My Assistant left and I went to go see if dinner was done. It was. I told Alexa to play Tony Bennet and called Bob in to eat. I put the meatloaf, carrots, potatoes, onions and gravy on the plates, added a little applesauce, (always a must with meatloaf), and set the plates on the table.
Bob took a bite and I held my breath. “I’m in heaven,” he said. “Maybe your best effort yet!” You can imagine how happy that made me. He cleaned his plate, BTW…
Maybe I can still cook, if only for a night. I realized what cooking meant though; it’s more than a meal. It’s really a love note, and then you get a thank you note back. It’s a nurturing kind-of-thing that makes both parties feel good. I felt wifely, in a good kind-of-way.
Tonight, it doesn’t matter what the news has to say. In our home, “all’s right with the world.”
And so it begins. This wonderful adventure I never dreamed would happen. It's all about books I wrote that were not best sellers, a TEDxTalk I gave that was not in the millions, times I've gone to speak and thought no one knew about it. Those kinds of things. Someone was watching! I'm getting an award tomorrow night with my son, husband, granddaughter, and two friends in attendance. We're on our way to Washington D.C. where the award will be given from the Alliance For Aging Research. The email came like a bolt in the blue inviting me to accept this award. I couldn't be more excited. It was given at a dinner function in front of 300 people. I will receive my award along side three other award-winners and then me––I will close the evening. It will be torture to wait throughout the whole evening, but oh, what an honor.
Tomorrow we are having a small brunch at Martin's Tavern, and then naps, and then maybe hair... maybe not. I'm wearing a black tux-jacket, full pants, a white shell under the jacket, and of course: high heels, but not too high. Six o'clock festivities begin. I will go on at 8:45. After Washington, we will go on the train to New York for a few days. I will continue this on the train: think good thoughts. I think I have my speech down... TBC...
We are now on the plane on our way home from New York. I didn't write on the train. I talked all the way in a quiet car, and enjoyed myself after two exhilarating, thrilling,nerve-racking, tiring days I will never forget. The Washington weather was just leaving summer but not quite. A warm, lovely sun with a little breeze fell on our shoulders. We all went on the same plane the day before and all arrived like Alice did in Wonderland.
Washington is different. Even though it was a Bipartisan affair, they speak a different language here and think different thoughts. They are not concerned who wins the Emmy's or who was nominated for an Oscar. We checked into the Watergate Hotel, where we were generously put, dumped our clothes in the room, and all ran to the rooftop bar to beg for food from the managers (who had just shut down food services). But the show was the view. The river, the moonlit buildings, it was breathtaking. My son Jim prevailed and a plate of cheese and crackers showed up. We had a drink, toasted each other, and off to bed. The next morning, Bob had a brunch for our multi-generational group. We ranged in ages from 21 to 85 all taking place at Martin's Tavern, a quintessential Washington eatery. All the while, there were butterflies in my stomach. Would I mess up my speech? Could I stand to be the last one awarded? I didn't have a choice. These were the thoughts running around in my head.
The group went shopping after brunch in Georgetown, and Bob and I went back for a nap where I could practice my speech for the zillionth time. Should I let this hair salon do my hair? Mine wasn't that bad... I settled for a comb-out. Before I knew it, it was time to get dressed and go. OMG. I was so nervous. First there was a reception where we could meet each other. They were all senators, congressmen, health-workers,People interested in health and aging. and They were all very friendly: Congressman James E. Clyburn (D-SC), recipient of the Claude Pepper Award for Advancing Healthy Aging; Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), recipient of the Distinguished Public Service Award; John F. Tisdale, M.D., recipient of the Silver Innovator Award; and VADM Jerome M. Adams, M.D., M.P.H.,The Surgeon General of the United States! recipient of the Daniel Perry Founder’s Award.
I was proud of my family and friends. My speech wasn't my only worry. My husband was not quite up to par health-wise and had fallen twice during the last few days before we left. I was on high alert for him at all times. I had two and a half hours to go before my speech. The building, Institute of Peace, and the room itself were breathtaking. As each person spoke, I was floored by how important they were, what they had to say, and what a thrill it was to be put in this group.
Calvin Schmidt, the Vice chairman of Johnson and Johnson, introduced me and I was on. I thanked him and was in the zone. I did well. I had it memorized and luckily didn't forget anything. I received a standing ovation. What a thrill.! then It was over. They handed me The 2019 Perennial Hero Of Health Award. Photos were taken. I met some wonderful people. .
And now, the next day, we went on the train to New York for some R&R with our friend, Bobbi. My husband did so well on the entire trip. We ate good food, saw a couple of plays, and the talk insists on still going round and round in my brain.
If I had the choice, I'd do it all over again.
Thank you Alliance for Aging Research.
What is a Joust? Why would we go there? And would it be fun?
The answer is yes to all of the above. Bob and I went back to Capri for our last time (ha ha...how many times have I said that). Who knows, but we did manage to cut through all the "should we" or "shouldn't we," and when my son, daughter-in-law, and our grandsons decided to go, it was a synch yes.
Capri was heavenly. Gorgeous weather, great friends from all over the world, our favorite hotel: the Scalinatella (owned by the Morgano family)... it was all how we remembered it. And yes, the rack was up in my bedroom with clothes hanging on it for ten days or so, seeing what would make the cut. Of course I only needed half the amount I ended up taking.
We stayed in Capri 10 days, longer than ever. We took a boat to our beloved Lo Scolio for lunch to start celebrating my birthday. We took our friends, Joseph Klaus and Jane. It was a happy, happy day. We then celebrated again at Aurora with a huge party and the restaurant waiters and chefs singing tante agura a te! Love Italy! Clothes shopping? oh yes. Eating and drinking rosé, oh yes! Being in Capri is a fantasy: you can do anything you want. You are Ava Gardner. You are Lana Turner. You are Jackie O'. Ordinary life goes away and this feeling of fantasy is everywhere. We met a lovely couple in the piazza. I went out to dinner with them and she was one of the most remarkable women I have met in my lifetime. Bob and I both fell in love with her. She was a warm, fascinating, and powerful woman. She was an Italian living in Australia and was Australia's leading designer. Only on a trip do you meet people so easily like that.
The fantasy continues. When we got to Arezzo, our friend Marjorie and her beau, the mayor of Arezzo, were waiting for us for dinner in this charming little town that reminds me so much of an Italian Montecito. He is a beloved man and has done a tremendous amount for the city. They have a villa in the country and an apartment in the city. They had friends coming from all over for the joust. We stayed in the city, and the bonus was that every night the joust would be practiced under our window. We had horses in costumes, marching bands in costumes, and riders in costumes...the works. The town on the night of the joust went crazy. Picture it being somewhere between the world cup, olympics, and super bowl. The towns people are divided into 4 colors, and the color that eventually went on to win the joust, hadn't won in 12 years. The town went crazy. We all watched it from the windows of the apartment above the entire action. Alessandro, the mayor became the king and the fantasy of the king in the joust. The costumes were amazing and the fantasy grew into a fairy tail because the next night, a beautiful dinner was served at the villa in Tuscany where the guitars played and the food was impeccable. Where my friend and the major announced their love and engagement to be married. It was regal, it was elegant, it was a true fairy tail. An American woman goes to Tuscany and finds live with the mayor of Arezzo.
It was meravigliosa!
Last year at this time we were in this same Palm Springs house as we are now but for different reasons.
1n 2018 we had a fire, a mud slide , many injuries and tragedies in our town of Montecito with evacuations, in many cases for at least a month . That, believe me, is the simplified version.
This year, my new neighbor’s pipe burst and went down two floors, through the walls, into our bathroom and completely took it out, down to the studs!! We are talking walls, ceiling, tiles, floors, everything gone!! Quik Response (that great company} was called right away to make sure there would not be a drop of moisture anywhere. Huge funs were set up everywhere, immediately. My entire condo in one hour was turned into what looked like, a war zone. So there you have it. No master bath. Everything out of my closet All meds and beauty stuff from my bathroom in boxes all over. The house looks like we moved in yesterday, except with plastic taped all over everything because of the dust. I have no idea where anything is. Oh, I’ll just reach for that new cream I bought. Nope, don’t know what box it is in or what room, for that matter.
Meanwhile, having no idea this was going to happen to us , and because we liked this house so much last year in Palm Springs, when we were evacuated ,we had rented it for a few weeks , in January and beginning of Feb. anyway, for this year. So, here we are, back in Palm Springs, in the house we love. Thankfully , we had a place to go to.This time the rest of Montecito is wet but fine , thank God, although they were evacuated a couple of times from heavy rains . It’s a weird bit of a déjà vu trip, I must admit!
We are not waiting for the evacuation to lift, we are waiting for the walls, floors tiles , sinks and shower to all come together again.
Everything is picked out. Now it’s the waiting game and a lot of texts back and forth between, contractor, insurance adjusters , designer, and me. Thank God for AIG and Hoffman Brown. No, this is not a commercial. I mean it ! I think you would call this” an almost vacation”. A little sunshine between rain drops, a little fun between texts.
I have managed to take wonderful walks, great hikes and even a third of a round of golf with Bob. BTW, we both did very well. I’m afraid to play again. It went so smoothly. I’m a bad sport golfer . When I play well, I love it and when I can’t hit the ball , I hate it!
I’ve seen Maureen Dowd interview ex Governor Brown at the Literary Conference and gone on a bus tour to see midcentury homes.
Now it’s raining cats and dogs here like it is in the rest of California. The good news is that I’m working on my new book called “As we Grow Older ” so I don’t mind the record rain and cold.
I have been thinking a lot about how we feel about things as we grow older and have been writing thoughts down as I think of them for about a year.. Here are a few examples. For instance: As I Grow older; “ Because I am thin on patience, I need to fatten up on compassion and empathy”. Or, As I grow older; “I disappoint myself less and forgive myself more”. “I’m getting quotes from everyone I talk to. One friend says, As I grow Older; “I feel younger”. Another says, As I grow Older; “I don’t look in the mirror unless I have to”. You get the idea. Let me hear from you and give me your version of that sentence.
Meanwhile, Bob, Sophia and I are living in the desert, grateful for this great house, feeling a little displaced, but seeing old good friends, We have Montecitans come visit and we are finding our way around new favorite places to eat and hanging out in a town that is an old friend itself.
It’s an interesting interlude in our lives.
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