Dilly Eggs

It was 1997 maybe 96, I’m not sure which. The past is divided by location more than time. We were in the upstairs apartment on Parkman, no pets allowed, when a sister and her husband came over for lunch. They raved about my cooking, helped theirselves to more. That was the last time that she ever walked through my door.

Two moves and a cat later, I made a beef spread using my great-grandmother’s recipe, macaroni salad with baby shrimps, and dilly eggs for a family picnic in a park.

Yes, we used to have family gatherings. I have four sisters, each with families of their own. The oldest lived out of state then, but the others were there. I forget the occasion. The weather was mild, easy to maintain chilled temperatures for food safety, so it might have been in late Spring.

Potluck-style family gatherings were occasions when I could tap my culinary experience to create foods that looked as good as they taste. Dilly eggs are just a variation of deviled eggs, with a little yellow mustard and dill added for flavor. I always add extra yolks, use a star tip to pipe the filling into the whites, and garnish for a beautiful presentation. My other dishes were also garnished.

The first clue that sometimes was up was the stern look a sister gave her husband just as he was about to help himself to some of the macaroni salad. After a moment of silence, he lowered the serving spoon back into the bowl. Okay, maybe he’s allergic to shellfish. Then I saw another sister shake her head “no” when a child reached for an egg.

That’s when I started to pay attention. Eighteen people in attendance and the ONLY person who would eat anything that I made was my dad. He went out of his way to praise my dishes and talked about how much the beef spread brought back memories of his grandmother. It was obvious that some of the guys wanted to try it, but no one did. It was the first time ever that I came home from a family function with full containers.

My sisters, being how they are, were not satisfied with by my reaction. Or should I say, lack of reaction?

Pretending to be oblivious must have zapped the joy out of their orchestrated attempt to hurt my feelings. That’s the only way to win at messed up sister games – don’t give them the satisfaction of a reaction.

Of course, their next move was to have someone call to tell me that my sisters told everyone not to eat my food because it’s laced with cat hair and cigarette ashes.

Talk about overactive imaginations! That’s just cartoon stupid. It’s a wonder they didn’t throw in snot for good measure.

Picture this… cartoon chef in a cartoon kitchen stirring at the stove with a cartoon cigarette dangling out of his mouth, ashes falling into the pot, with cartoon cats up on counters slicing cartoon veggies with their very sharp claws… yes, I laughed.

I assured the caller that I don’t smoke while cooking and cats are not allowed on kitchen counters. Ironically, the sister who has not been in my home since before I got a cat was blamed for starting the rumor.

I hope she reported back that I laughed and said the whole thing was so stupid, it’s comical. What I didn’t tell her was that I had already vowed to never cook for those people again.

I kept that vow for over 20 years, showing up at family gatherings with obviously purchased foods in sealed packaging and always with a joke, like pull out a package of Oreos and say, “I baked cookies.”

And that’s how I earned the reputation of “Nancy doesn’t cook, she has to dust her stove.”

I do cook. If I had some dill, I’d make some dilly eggs just to snap a photo. As an alternative, here’s a photo that I snapped to show my cousin when he asked what I was making for lunch.

It’s just little bits of leftovers, sliced steak and chili beans, on street taco tortillas with toppings… drats! Forgot to add cat hairs and ashes, lol.

Thanks for reading!

Christmas 2021

I gave myself permission to break traditions. I don’t have to do everything. Or anything.

People kind of freak out about that. What? No tree? Am I okay? Is something wrong? Sad face, hugs and care emoticons.  Sheez. Can’t imagine being ME?

Okay, I will admit that slapping a wreath upon the door without decorating the interior of your home is ye equivalent to hiding depression behind a smile, but can we normalize being “alone” on holidays?

I’m tired of pretending life is a Hallmark movie fantasy, of silently letting others assume that I might have plans, that God forbid I wake up “alone” on Christmas morn just the same as I do on the 364 other days of the year.

Side note:  “alone” is in quotation marks because the word is defined differently by those who thrive in solitude than those who find being alone with their own self for any length of time to be unbearable misery.

Permission extends to all aspects of holiday prep. Do I need to bake cookies in all those varieties? No… one batch with grandchildren, sent home with the boys. That’s enough. I made Chex Mix with only my favorite ingredients, heavy on the peanuts.

My sweet treat for company this year will be a special pie baked in a rectangular dish, which I’ve yet to bake as I don’t know when my daughter plans to stop by, might not be until Boxing Day. She’s got her own traditions started… making memories with her children. They snuggle in for a family movie night on Christmas Eve. I suggested getting together on the 26th as their 25th is already a full day, better to enjoy a relaxed visit than a pop in and out, on to the next.

That’s part of it, letting go of old ways to make way for the new, the next generation takes the stage, does things their own way. It is a letting go of preconceived notions, of letting things just be, and being open to my own next. This is the space in-between.

Thanks for reading!

BTW, I decorated in Fishdom. It’s the only game I play, much to my grandson’s amazement. Grandma’s on level… what?

Screenshot of grandma’s game, lol.

Blink Poetry

A few words to the wind, as soft as a whisper. My first ebook was quietly published on October 15th. It’s a secret… just like this blog. Out there, as public as can be, yet most of the people in my everyday life don’t know that I write anywhere about anything.

Only two people knew about this ebook project until one of them (my bold and brazen daughter) found Blink Poetry at Barnes & Noble and just had to share a link on social media. She restricted her share to omit family, but I still await the backlash.

So, why am I so paranoid? It’s just bad poetry representing 40 years of raw and real emotions. Some poems reveal too much.

In some ways, putting this collection together was just tidying up the past, end of chapter, turn the page. Blink and it’s gone… time to move on.

The second purpose was purely technical. It was a practice in formatting my written words for ebook publication. Perhaps poetry was a bad choice for a first go… it’s so not perfect. Some of my formatting morphed a bit, lost my larger font size for titles and a couple poems with lines that indented visually on an angle all came in plain and straight. Nothing major, just little things that make me wonder how to make it survive the process in tack, but not enough to go on a revision quest seeking perfection. Yeah, it would be easy to get bogged down instead of moving on to the next project.

(SEE UPDATE BELOW)

I am considering an audio book version, on my daughter’s suggestion. She gave me the greatest compliment, said my poems “come alive” when I read them out loud. Maybe I should practice on street corners again. That was always fun, so doing an audio book might be fun, too. It will take awhile, of course, because I will have to learn how.

If you would like to check out my ebook, you can find Blink Poetry at Smashwords. It is rated for adults due to content and language. Yeah, six of the poems do contain profanity and some of the topics are not kid friendly. Or, parent friendly… as in my own.

Oh my gosh, the dreads hit me hard yesterday. I seriously thought about pulling it. Yeah, here I am, 59 years old, thinking about hiding my own words. And, for what? To protect other people’s fragile feelings?

Nah, it’s a bit more complicated. There are reasons why I cannot live in the same town as my family. I love them dearly, but they think everything I do or say somehow reflects on them. The pressure to conform, to toe the line is very real. Surely, if my family reads Blink Poetry, I will be shunned.

Straight up, I broke the rules.

Little girls are supposed to grow up, get married, and live happily ever after. Divorce is not an option. If a marriage fails, if the man sets her aside, the woman is supposed to maintain the highest fortitude of moral propriety until she marries again. In other words, my family believes that sex (correction, marital relations and anything that might lead up to marital relations) is for married people only. My husband left me in 1987. I was supposed to live by the rules, remarry or spend the remainder of my days without ever being touched, as if I had taken a vow of celibacy.

So you see, poems like “Sex with Neighbors” will not go over very well.

The title does sound slutty as hell, but in my defense, it was just one neighbor, the same man who practically lived with me for a couple years after I bought this house. I wrote the poem when we both lived in the same apartment building, when I wasn’t sure if we had enough in common to make a go of anything. My family knew that he stayed here. It was kind of obvious, with his clothes and stuff. Mom flat out asked if we shared a bed. She wanted to know if we intended to marry. I told her I’m like Aunt Betty, figured that would explain it in a nutshell and stop her questions.

Ye gads, that proved to be more true than not. My dad’s sister had a special friend for the last decade of her life and she couldn’t live with him either. That’s me and the Vet, but as just friends now.

There’s also a possibility that the Vet will disapprove of Blink Poetry, too, mostly because he would think that some poems should have been ripped up and tossed out long ago. But, I’m not shredding my words for someone who can’t even tell HIS delusional wannabee girlfriend to stop posting hearts and stickers asserting her fantasy relationship with him on Facebook. He knows I don’t believe his “I’m not messing with that woman, it’s all in her head” BS and has gone from total defense to just rolling his eyes now when I mention anything about his girlfriend. Bottom line, as he’s told me so many times, he can’t control what that woman does… well, ditto.

Thanks for reading!

UPDATE 14 NOV 2019: I’m on a perfection quest, almost done revising the ebook to eliminate that one blank page and some other odd things. I will update again when the revised version replaces the original. Blink Poetry will be released as a paperback soon, since several people have asked me for a hard copy. As for an audio book, that can wait as I don’t have access to equipment capable of doing that myself (or know how to use it) and the audio book service I checked into hires people to read so odds are, they wouldn’t read my poems exactly as I would. But, who knows? Maybe they could read my poems better than I do. Doesn’t matter… I don’t have money to do that anyway.

UPDATE 28 NOV 2019: Just deleted some links and edited the paragraph containing the links because I just opted out of global distributed to ensure compliance with the fine print for global distribution of the paperback. I get it… totally not cool to have the same book available from two different sources at the same retailers, even if they are in different formats with their own ISBN. I kept the Smashwords link because the ebook version there is the Smashwords edition, same poems, different back matter, etc. By opting out of global distribution, the Smashwords edition will ONLY be available ON the Smashwords website. In time, there will be an ebook version of the paperback so readers can choose… right now, I’m waiting on my second proof copy to arrive in the mail. Yeah, I rejected the first proof… my own screw-up, had the cover image too far off center and found a missing punctuation mark, plus a couple other little things. I absolutely LOVE the fact that the author must purchase a printed copy of their own book, see it with their own eyes and hold it with their own hands, before it can be approved for distribution. That extra step makes good sense to me.

BTW, sister Jai… I went ahead and ordered extra copies with this second proof as I expect to be pleased with the results. Yes, one is for you.