...Continued from yesterday:
Christmas day started off, as most days do for my mother, with 8 am Mass,
...after which we returned home to prepare for what in our family is the highlight of the the day, Christmas breakfast. Or, as we call it, The Feast.
At home The Feast involves everyone pitching in to get the food made and on the table. At my mom's the tradition continued, as the kitchen became a beehive of activity,
...while I oversaw the general preparations,
Finally The Feast was on the table,
...cinnamon rolls warm from the oven and mini-pastries.
After breakfast clean-up we returned to the living room,
...which is not to say that the day was without its treats for the adults,
...and a couple of piano lessons,
When dinner time rolled around, though there were plenty of left-overs in the fridge, my mother said, "Oh, forget the left-overs! Let's go out to the Stargate!"
And very good Christmas dinners they were.
...and some of us were in the mood for dinner,
Happy Holidays to all,
...Continued from yesterday:
On Sunday, Christmas Eve morning, after 8:00 Mass at my mother's church, Our Lady Of Lourdes, the altar of which was decked out in Christmas poinsettias,
...we headed over to the Stargate Diner for breakfast where, once again, though the restaurant was crowded with the Sunday morning post-church crowd, the ten of us were immediately seated in the back section full of pushed-together tables,
It was generally agreed that our breakfasts were superior.
We all concurred that the Stargate breakfast was a cut above the PK's breakfast (see yesterday's post) and that in future visits the Stargate would be our go-to breakfast choice.
The Iranian family who owns and runs the Stargate is so nice.
After breakfast, all of us feeling more motivated than the day before (see yesterday's post), my mom and I went to Walmart to snag some more groceries, Maria drove to Salisbury, Maryland to find an art supplies store,
As soon as my mom and I returned home from our shopping I lit the bayberry candle that I'd ordered online and brought with me.
...Continued from yesterday:
On Saturday morning I suggested we start the day with breakfast at another popular Seaford, Delaware, spot,
...where we ate the night before (see yesterday's post) and would be destined, before our visit was over, to eat again. And again.
But this morning it was to be PK's,
In retrospect, I found it quite amazing that we, a party of ten, were able to walk into a restaurant at 10 am on a Saturday morning and be immediately seated,
Such phenomena would be unknown in Columbus, Ohio.
And in Chicago and Los Angeles where my daughters live? Fuggedaboudit!
But this is how it was over the Christmas weekend in Seaford, Delaware, for which we were much grateful.
And it's not even that people in Seaford don't go out to eat; I mean, going out to eat is about the only thing there is to do in Seaford. Besides going to Walmart. And I mean no disparagement to the town; I mean only to point out that Seaford is a very small town. With numerous eating establishments for its size. And that these establishments seem to be extraordinarily well-equipped to seat big parties, even on holiday weekends.
Anyway, after brunch we returned home,
...while the children, who were delighted with the bar in the corner of the living room,
As the afternoon wore on into evening it occurred to me that it would be nice to have some pie.
So I hauled myself up and over to Walmart to buy some pie fixins, and a few other provisions.
...while I had been intending to work on my signature Cherry Almond Streusel pie (see post from 12/12/2016), but instead of buying almonds I accidentally picked up a bag of pecan halves. So I worked on a Cherry Pecan Streusel pie (which, frankly, I was not happy about having to do, but, having messed up on the almonds, what choice had I?).
We all came to the consensus that some take-out pizza from Sal's,
...would be a splendid idea for dinner, so Claire and Miguel went out to pick us up some Sal's pizzas,
After our very satisfying and gratifying dinner, we repaired to the living room,
We spent Christmas 2017 in Seaford, Delaware with my 97-year-old mother,
When Tom and I made the decision to spend Christmas with my mom I felt more than a twinge of sadness that we wouldn’t be at home to share Christmas with our children and our two granddaughters who always fly in from Los Angeles with their parents for Christmas.
We decided that next year we'd all be together somehow. If the fates allow.
So Tom, Tommy and I set out on the morning of Thursday, December 21 on the 10-hour drive from Columbus to Seaford, stopping at our perennial favorite place along the way for lunch just outside West Virginia ,
When we arrived at my mother’s around 9 pm she greeted us with some sweet snacks,
My mom’s house looked cozy and nice as always,
Maria, Justin and the girls were also flying from Los Angeles into Baltimore that day and renting a car for the 2-hour drive to Seaford. However their plane was delayed and they didn’t arrive at my mom’s until after 3 a.m., for which arrival I was the designated greeter.
As my daughter and son-in-law carried their sleeping children into the house and plopped them into the king-sized bed that they were sharing with me, my daughter whispered to me, “All the girls have been talking about the whole trip is making ginger bread houses. Please tell me you brought the ginger bread houses!”
The following morning the girls sprung out of bed having no idea where they were, knowing only that they wanted to make their gingerbread houses.
However, there was, alas, first breakfast to be made,
Then finally it was time to start the gingerbread houses,
…then left to dry for an hour before the roofs could be attached. I suggested to the girls that they go and play for a while,
…but they wanted to stand by and watch the houses while the icing dried.
…except that the instructions said that now we had to wait another four hours for the roof to dry before we could start decorating!
Early in the evening Claire and Miguel arrived from Washington D.C.,
...to where they’d arrived from Chicago earlier in the day then spent the day sight-seeing.
And by then dinner time had rolled around, so we went to everybody’s favorite Seaford spot,
…and great food at inexpensive prices.
Among our selections:
When we returned home after dinner the gingerbread houses were finally ready to be decorated,
…while the other grown-ups did some karaoke, the music and lyrics provided by their cells phones,
Last Saturday night there was, for a change, a smorgasbord of critically acclaimed movies on the menu at theaters in the Columbus area:
Like much of the country, I was feeling in sore need of a laugh. And some cheer. And some heart.
...the story of three stressed-out young working moms who weren’t making the grade in the expectations held up for “good” mothers,
The plotline of “Bad Moms” follows the chain of events that unwinds when the harried Everymoms decide to chuck it all and be Bad Moms who start indulging in such disreputable maternal negligence as serving their kids cold cereal for breakfast, making their kids fix their own lunches, letting the laundry pile up and bringing store-bought cookies for the school bake sale.
Such a great laugh did I – and all the other moms who filled the theater the evening I saw the movie - get from “Bad Moms” that I yearned to relive the laughter in the sequel.
In this second episode (of what I hope will turn into a long-lived franchise) of the saga of the Bad Moms, the Moms are frazzled, exhausted and maxed-out trying to make the perfect Christmas for their families,
Once again at the end of their collective rope, the Moms decide to pitch the holiday-hoopla, relax,
And so the hilarious tension rises as the characters act out in the funniest way the push/pull of need, guilt, aggravation, and ultimately love that defines the mother - adult daughter relationship - especially during holiday gatherings.
And though, as one who’s been on both sides of that equation I could definitely relate to the mother – daughter dynamic, one doesn’t have to be a mother or a daughter to get a kick out of the comedy the script and these actresses provide.
So my advice this season is to put the deep, cerebral, intellectually challenging film critics-choices on hold ‘til the new year. What the world really needs for Christmas is a good laugh.
For a number of years the Christmas season began for me on the first weekend in December with a performance of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra Holiday Pops.
Actually, four performances.
That was back when my daughter Theresa was a member of the Columbus Children's Choir.
Christmas was back then - and I assume, still is - a busy time for the Choir, especially the most advanced section of the choir, the red-coated New World Singers, as, on top of the standard twice-weekly two-hour practices, they performed at holiday festivities around the city, such as the lighting of the Columbus Zoo lights, the lighting of the City Hall Christmas tree, several city and corporate events, and, always the highlight of the season for the Choir, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra Holiday Pops.
The Holiday Pops is a festive yearly holiday program of classical pieces, Hanukkah and Christmas songs and ballet interpretations of Christmas themes performed in downtown Columbus at the Ohio Theater by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra with the Symphony Chorus, members of Columbus Ballet Met, a singing Santa and Mrs. Claus, And the Columbus Children's Choir, all under the direction of CSO Chorus Director Ron Jenkins.
There are four performances over the first weekend in December and when Theresa was part of the Holiday Pops I'd watch all four performances since parents of members of the Children's Choir could get discounted (or maybe free, I don't exactly remember now) tickets.
The Holiday Pops is a long haul for the Choir kids, with a Friday night performance, Saturday matinee and evening performances, and a another Sunday matinee.
And yet my daughter and her Choir friends loved the excitement of the Holiday Pops, especially the Saturday performances.
...where the young Choir members would snack, hang out, and sometimes gigglingly sneak an ice cream (dairy and soda being verboten to the singers before a performance) between the matinee and evening performances,
I always thought it added to the holiday cheer and color of the City Center at that time of year to see the red-coated youngsters strolling the mall that day between the Holiday Pops performances.
Much as I used to love the Holiday Pops during those years when Theresa sang with the Columbus Children's Choir, after she left the Choir in high school I never went to another Holiday Pops performance.
Until this year.
This year for some reason I had a hankering after a 15-year gap to go see the Holiday Pops again.
So a couple of Saturdays ago Tom accommodated my wish,
...though this theater is such a neat old place in and of itself even without added adornment.
Before the main performance a group of singers from the Santa Maria section of the Children's Choir sang Christmas Carols in beautiful harmony, getting us all in the Christmas spirit,
The first half of the Holiday Pops program was, as usual, a mix of lovely instrumental, choral, and dance pieces,
...the music provided by the orchestra and chorus, everyone accessorized with a splash of holiday red.
...and the Santa Marias sang from the balcony,
...I felt myself getting emotional with memories, seeing in all those young faces, (and seeing Dr. Mathias, Former Director Emerita of the Choir, singing in the row directly behind the children),
...all the performers donned Santa hats and a row of singing, swaying "reindeer" lined up across the front of the stage,
The cheery, upbeat tune "We Need A Little Christmas," with which the singers and orchestra closed the show made me tear up.
But then I guess that's what happens when you come for the memories as much as the music.
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Last Friday night Tom, myself, and our good friends Kevin and Barb went on a Christmas-seeking excursion.
And while there are many Christmas-inducing venues to be found in Columbus, Ohio,
...we opted to seek out some Christmas spirit at Easton Town Center, which we found all seasonably lit up and decked out,
However we decided before taking in the lights and sights to start off the evening at the Easton AMC where we saw the movie "The Man Who Invented Christmas."
...which, in spite of the schmaltzy and somewhat misleading title, was a really great film.
Or so thought I.
The movie tells the story of a moment in the life of Charles Dickens when, following the fame and fortune he achieved from the publication of "Oliver Twist," Dickens had out-spent his income, written three commercial flops and subsequently found himself drowning in debt and on the verge of financial ruin, which, in 19th Century London, could well send a man and his family to one of that city's notorious workhouse prisons.
In the film we see a portrait of Charles Dickens, gripped by writer's block and the demons that still haunted him from his childhood of poverty, hunger and as a child laborer in a sweatshop boot-blacking company, struggling to produce another marketable book.
The movie takes on the feel of a psychological thriller as Dickens, under the gun by publishers, printers, book artists and creditors, paces his office, trolls the streets of London, and wracks his brain searching for inspiration, characters and the bits and pieces of the powerfully moving story of greed, poverty, and redemption that eventually becomes "A Christmas Carol."
After the movie, feeling inspired and uplifted (well, at least I was), we strolled around Easton,
...enjoying the magical displays,
...and talking about the movie (at least I was).
"I think you liked that movie the best of us all," said Tom.
Well, I did love the movie.
...the scenes from Charles' Dickens' childhood and of his life as a father, husband and dutiful son in a large, loving but often chaotic family, the chaos usually of his own making.
But I mostly loved the scenes of Charles Dickens' writing life, his habit of writing down interesting names he'd hear in passing,
...and how the world of stories and characters playing out inside his head was constantly being interrupted by the demands of family life and life in general.
All things that I could identify with, as can all writers.
My favorite line from the movie was from Dickens, crying out in frustration, "My characters won't do what I want them to do!"
Neither will mine.
Looking for something to do tomorrow, Saturday, December 16 at 10 am?
It was around 10:30 last night when I received the text from my daughter Claire who lives in Chicago: "Are you still awake?" the text asked.
Was I still awake? Hecks yes I was, wide awake and doing the happy dance to the sparkly celebratory fireworks shooting off in my brain.
In fact I'd been bounding up the stairs to announce to Tom the latest and last update to the news that we'd both been approach-avoiding all night: the results of the Alabama Senate race,
All night long I'd been telling myself that I wasn't going to spend the night returns-checking just before I'd click over to CNN to check the latest Alabama returns.
"Want to hear the latest?" I'd call out to the kitchen to Tom, who didn't want to hear.
"No, I don't want to hear," he'd call back before meandering into the family room just to have a quick peek at the returns. "Moore's still ahead. Just great," he'd sigh before returning to the kitchen. "Moore's gonna win," he'd then call from the kitchen, "I don't want to know any more."
At 10:00, the last counties - Hale, Dallas and Chambers - still not in (Hale, Dallas, Chambers, Hale Dallas, Chambers, Hale, Dallas, Chambers, I must have checked those counties fifty times in the last half hour of the race), Tom said, "I'm going to bed. I really don't want to know anymore." He popped downstairs only once about 10 minutes later, by which time Dallas was the only unannounced county and the race was tied at Moore 49.5, Jones 49.5.
"Tom, look" I said softly in disbelief, "Dallas County is in the heart of Blue territory. Jones could win this."
"Or Dallas could come in Red. Or it could come in Blue but without enough votes to pull off a definitive win for Jones. I'm really going to bed now."
Over the next twenty minutes the percentage of votes counted in Dallas county ticked up, up, up, until at 10:30 the race was called for Doug Jones. Claire immediately texted me and I called her right back.
"I have to tell Dad," I bubbled to Claire, "then I have to text Tommy and Emily and Theresa and Callie! And Maria in Los Angeles, somebody has to call Maria! Do you want to call your sister?"
"You can call her, Mom," Claire chuckled, graciously ceding to me my right as family Matriarch.
So it was my happy prerogative to share the late-night good news with my loved ones, some of whom already knew it.
How funny this is, I thought, as we all exulted in the outcome of this election, it's like re-living last year's election, but on the flip side; by this time on November 8 of last year I knew already that Trump had won the election, and an evening that started out with happy expectation ended with numbing shock and despondency. And now this night a year later that began with a dull sense of despondency has ended with a joyful shock of celebration and hope.
"What are you doing?" I asked my daughter Maria who on L.A. time was three hours ahead of us. I could hear the bouncy prattle of my grand children in the background.
"Putting the kids to bed," she said.
"Have you heard the news on the Alabama election?"
"No," she said somberly. "I've avoided looking at the news all day. I figured tomorrow would be soon enough."
"Jones won," I told her.
"No," she replied.
"Yes," said I.
"No!" she cried.
"Yes!" I cried, "Doug Jones won!" The bigoted, homophobic, white supremacist, Bible-thumping, lying, child-molester wouldn't have a seat or a say in the Senate.
"Wow," said my daughter, "wow."
She wanted me to stay on the line while she called my son-in-law, who was still at work, so that we could both surprise him with the election results.
The good news duly shared once again, I said to my daughter, "Now you can get back to putting the kids to bed."
"I was putting the kids to bed," she joked, "but now I have to party!"
Thank you, Alabama. Thank you.
Do you like books? Want to know what to read next?
Or are you an indie author or publisher looking to produce an audio book (or books)?
...a podcast out of suburban Columbus, Ohio that features independent and published authors and connects readers to authors through its podcasts, webcasts and book events in the Columbus area,
I first heard of yourbookmybook.com when I was chosen to be one of the authors interviewed
at the Mid-Ohio Indie Authors Book Expo,
After my interview Miguel and I got to talking and I learned that his podcast has thousands of followers around the world and that on yourbookmybook.com one can listen to interviews with authors from around the country and as far away as India.
I began listening to the yourbookmybook author podcasts,
...and became a Facebook follower of yourbookmybook.com, which was how I heard of the yourbookmybook author event at Dirty Frank’s restaurant.
I contacted Miguel and asked him how an author manages to land a spot at this kind of book event and he told me that though the program was filled, I was welcome to come and MC the event in exchange for which I could have a spot at the book sellers' table.
And so I did,
...with my daughter and son taking turns manning the table for me. (see post from 9/30/2017)
After the Dirty Frank's event Miguel invited me to do a live feature webcast (for the uninitiated, as I was until recently, a webcast is a podcast with video),
After we finished the webcast I asked Miguel a little about himself and he shared that he was born in Honduras, came to the United States when he was twelve, served in the U.S. Army, studied audio visual technology in New York City where he worked for a number of years then, seeking life at a saner pace, moved to Columbus, Ohio, where he created yourbookmybook.com.
"You must really love books," I commented.
"I do," he said, "but what I really love is the podcast production."
...Continued from yesterday:
If one's good friends are the extension of one's family, then chances are one's good friends' dog will be included in that extension. Especially if one is oneself a dog owner.
Thus the dog of the family of one of my grand daughter's good friends became part of our family over the long Thanksgiving weekend while the poochie's family was traveling.
...arrived Thursday morning.
Whether Toby and Pinky hit it off was hard for any of us to tell; the two spent most of their time together in noisy dog-wrestling mode, but we didn't know whether they were playing or fighting, mayhaps because none of us had any expertise in interpreting doggie interaction.
The following day, Friday, my daughter suggested taking the pups on a walk to Hermosa Beach, two-and-a-half miles away.
So we did,
...enjoying the scenery along the way to the beach,
...crowded on this beautiful warm morning with volley ball players,
We walked another half-mile along the southern stretch of The Strand, which is the walking/biking path that runs along the Los Angeles coast line from Santa Monica to Hermosa Beach.
...and all kinds of folks out enjoying the day.
...but also for its canine-friendly ambience, which includes a dog menu; that is, dishes one can order for one's dog.
After brunch we walked a bit around Hermosa Beach,
Then we headed back home.
By the time we arrived home after our 5-plus mile walk both pups were pretty pooped.
Interestingly, during our walk a number of people stopped to admire Toby with his unusual fur coloration and exotic blue eyes.
"Oh, what a beautiful dog," they'd cry, petting Toby and generally fussing over him. Then eventually they'd notice Pinky Poo. "And you're cute, too," they'd add, presumably so as not to hurt Pinky's feelings.
Fortunately, Pinky's self-esteem seemed none the worse for wear.
"Equal and Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it at Amazon http://amzn.to/2xvcgRa
Or Barnes & Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/equal-and-opposite-reactions-patti-liszkay/1126530153?ean=9781612968865
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
The Book Loft
of German Village,
Or check it out at the Columbus Metropolitan Library
I am a traveler just visiting this planet and reporting various and sundry observations,
hopefully of interest to my fellow travelers.