Bubbles and Sparks on the Fourth of July

Bubbles and Sparks on the Fourth of July

Five Ideas, One Menu, 15 Movies and  a Couple of Other Odds and Ends You Can Do (No Kids Required)

Celebrate the Fourth of JulyI wasn’t happy when I realized that the Fourth of July this year falls on a Wednesday.

I don’t know about you, but I think the greatest decision of the late 20th century was the one that turned holidays like Washington’s Birthday and Memorial Day into 3-day weekends. It is unfortunate they did not make a similar decision with Independence Day. I suppose “First Monday in July” is just not as much fun as “Fourth of July.”

At any rate, it can be challenging to entertain on the Fourth in years when it falls on a Wednesday “hump day.” Most people I know are hanging around town rather than taking extra days off from work. What will you do? If you want simple, but good ideas (kids optional), read below. If you want really creative time consuming ideas, go to Pinterest.

The Fireworks

This is the first thing that comes to mind for most of us when we think of this holiday. (What? The Declaration of Independence? Who are you people?)

If you live each year for the fireworks, you’ll want to either take advantage of a big display in your community OR blow some up in your front yard (but only if it’s legal – unless you crave the extra excitement and flashing lights that come from breaking local laws).

This is a true American way of literally letting your money go up in smoke –  and who doesn’t love that?

I always make sure there are at least a few whistlers in my fireworks package. The reason is practical: For years, my son used the 4th of July fireworks to blow up fruit and vegetables. This bit was a hit with the other neighborhood kids. Now that he’s all grown up and isn’t home on the 4th, our fruit is relatively safe — but I admit to missing the chaos and excitement that always came with this holiday.

Food and Drink

We’re lucky to live in an area where ”safe and sane” fireworks are legal to set off in the street, and our street always makes a big show of it. I’ve discovered that you can buy your way into your neighbors’ hearts by bringing out some sparkling wine to share with them. (The other way is to make sure you pick up your dog’s poop on their lawns. Better yet, mow their lawn once in a while.)

Be sure to purchase a couple of extra bottles of bubbles and some $1.92 champagne flutes to share. You can’t go wrong.

Most large cities and many smaller ones have their own large fireworks displays. This usually means getting in the car and driving to a park with a lot of people. Meet your friends there, bring a picnic dinner (don’t forget the bubbly) and enjoy the show.

To make it even more festive, you can add a hibiscus flower to the bottom of the glass for a very pretty look. I like adding four or five pomegranate seeds to bounce in the glass as I drink.

Invite your friends for an early dinner/BBQ. with the fireworks as the grand finale (which also works as a hint that it’s time to go home — DO make sure you serve your dessert before the fireworks).

SIMPLE MENU for Midweek Fourth of July BBQ

(This is especially easy if you have to work Tuesday and Thursday.) It is so easy, yet satifsying, you’ll actually be able to enjoy yourself and everyone will be happy:

  • Your favorite protein to BBQ (chicken, steak, salmon, etc.)
  • Cut up vegetables for grilling in a basket (cauliflower, mushrooms, squash, onion). Marinate in some olive oil and seasoned salt.
  • Small red potatoes, cut in half, seasoned with olive oil, crushed garlic, and seasoned salt. Grill in a basket.
  • Edamame salad: One bag frozen shelled edamame, one bag frozen corn, red chopped red onion to taste,  a lot of cilantro, and your choice of dressing (I use a Trader Joe’s cilantro salad dressing).
  • Egg salad with tarragon (keep mayo to a minimum, add some salt to taste)
  • Good bread
  • Purchased cake and berries, and/or ice cream

Watch a Movie

With scorching July temperatures, people clamor for a place where they can chill for a while – like an air conditioned theater. So it’s no wonder that the studios release blockbuster movies for Independence Day.  I’m more of a stay-at-home-on the-holidays kind of person, so binging on movies at home is good for me. Here are some patriotic movie suggestions for the holiday:

CH-AR-GE IT!

Go shopping – I hear that is a patriotic thing to do! Purchase a flag if you don’t have one or if yours is in bad shape. Check out the traditional patriotic shirts that are sold every year at Old Navy. There’s also this red, white and blue heart shaped necklace that is fun, or this very cool Sunnydaze hammock you can buy online.

Do Your Part

Research your community to see where volunteers are needed, either for clean-up, helping with a large event, or donations of food. If your parent is in a senior living residence, check to see if they need  Fourth of July help (or any other day). Giving to others in our community is one of the most patriotic activities we can perform.

Please leave any other ideas you have for how to spend the Fourth of July on a Wednesday. And remember, two drinks away is a good place to be.

A Good Day’s Work May Never End

A Good Day’s Work May Never End

Boy_I_Sure_Did_a_Good_Days_Work_WW_II_United_StatesI kind of hope I’ll always work. Let me clarify. I hope I’ll always want to work and be healthy to work as long as I want.

The idea of working forever, or at least a long time, has always appealed to me and makes a lot of sense. Of course, it’s always nicer if you have the option to work rather than need to work because of finances. Delayed retirement has grown significantly as described in this article from the NY Times, Of Retirement Age, but Remaining in the Work Force.

Work doesn’t have to mean a paycheck. Organizations of all interests are available if one wants to volunteer their time. Helping your own family with tasks such babysitting and taking care of elderly parents, qualifies as “work” in that it is productive and serves a need. Taking care of one’s family not only strengthens the family, but also strengthens society.

So, keep your fingers crossed for me and I’ll keep them for you however you want to live your life in retirement, or maybe no retirement.

 

The Grief Comes in Waves

The Grief Comes in Waves

Mom

Our mom ca. 1962. 26-years-old.

I think it’s safe to say that my relationship with our mother was complicated. She wasn’t easy. By the time I had settled into the life of an adult (which took me longer than most people), we had settled into a mostly peaceful routine with each other – but I think that has less to do with maturity on my part than the fact that they moved up to Sacramento to be near my sister and her growing family. So she wasn’t a day-to-day presence in my life.

There was some degree of comfort in knowing that she and my dad were up there and had each other (as well as my sister and her kids). And with her passing in December, our family is trying to adjust to what my dad keeps calling “our new reality.” Obviously, for him it is an adjustment he struggles with every day. And because Linda is the one who is there, the loss of our mom has greatly impacted her life, too.

But for me, the loss manifests itself more subtly, I think. The grief comes in waves, usually triggered by a thought of something that reminds me she’s gone: A TV show she liked. An idiotic remark by a politician (Donald Trump has been a regular fountain of these). And of course, a holiday or special occasion.

Because our mom died suddenly in December and we went through the winter holidays in a state of shock, Passover was the first holiday where we really felt her loss. It hit me about a week before, while I was driving to a doctor’s appointment. I arrived there feeling weepy – which led the doctor to write a note that I needed to be monitored for depression. I told her I wasn’t depressed – I was merely having a bad day. And as it turned out, our actual Passover seder wasn’t sad. Mama was missed – but the holiday was good.

Today I’m bracing myself for another round of tears. For the last several years, I commemorated Mother’s Day by sending my mom flowers and this year, I realized I didn’t have anyone to send them to. I briefly thought about ordering some for my sister, but then I concluded that she would just find that weird. And then I thought about buying them for myself – but one of the reasons I like sending flowers is that it’s the kind of thing that people appreciate, but never do for themselves. So this year, no flowers. And today I feel sad.

I expect I’ll be back on an even keel when Mother’s Day is over. I have to: I’m seeing that doctor again on Wednesday.

A New Mother’s Day

A New Mother’s Day

Last December, our mother died. It was a short illness, started with flu-like symptoms, ended in sepsis. I knew it was very serious, but really never believed she’d die. She was 79, which doesn’t seem old anymore.

Mom was a shopper and she loved clothes. Nice clothes. Before she died, she had taken much of her very expensive wardrobe to a consignment store from where my father is still receiving checks in the mail. We bagged up most everything else and donated it. Some items are left in the closet for the granddaughters to rummage through, as they are the only ones who can fit into her small-sized clothes.

Dad is coping as well as anyone can who lost his wife of 60 years. He also lost his driver’s license earlier in the year, so he’s had a double whammy. Not that one should compare driving to a wife, but there is a loss of independence that comes with not driving anymore. He’s still mourning his car. The family’s focus has turned to him, his physical and emotional well-being, and a new life that he is rebuilding at 82 years old.
We were never allowed to look in the safe my parents had in their home, but I knew it was filled with jewelry, as mom also loved bling. I always called it The Vault to annoy her. “Show me what’s in The Vault,” I would plead. She would always say “next time.” Now I go into The Vault and play with the jewelry like when I was a kid playing with her costume jewelry in her 1960’s jewelry box. Dad tries to recall where each piece came from, but many things are not remembered.
I’m not sure what I’m learning from this experience, but I’m trying to gain something from it. Anything that is this life-changing must bring something to gain. Maybe the best part is that my sister is committed to coming to visit once a month. It makes my dad happy. My mother would approve of that.
So, as Mother’s Day approaches, I think about it and realize I don’t really feel a great loss attached to the day. I feel the loss every day. All kids ask why there isn’t a Children’s Day and all kids get the same answer. I now feel the same about Mother’s Day: Everyday is Mother’s Day, when you don’t have your mother around anymore.
Last Day Alone

Last Day Alone

Well, I’ve certainly done a lousy job writing a post every day.

And, where did the past two weeks go?

Right now I’ve got Philadelphia Story on TV. Kathryn Hepburn was nominated for an Oscar for this film. It’s got Cary Grand and James Stewart. I wonder if young people would enjoy it now. I doubt it. Too much talking of “old” people. Not enough action.

My dad had a couple of lines in Adam’s Rib when he was 15 years old. I guess George Cukor was a distant cousin of my grandmother’s. He gave my aspiring actor father a small role, in which he kept screwing up. Hepburn ended up elbowing him out of the scene.

That isn’t what I was thinking of writing, but I’m trying to let me mind wander as it does when I’m driving. The other night I was driving home from work and multiple ideas popped in my head for posts. They were great thoughts. Brilliant. Of course. What they were, I can’t remember, but they were profound and would have made you realize how clever I am.

So, my husband is at the Lima airport right now and should be on his way home very shortly. It will be about 5 or 6 pm before I see him tomorrow. The travel time is one reason I doubt I’ll see my son in Peru while he is down there, but we are thinking of meeting him kind of halfway in Panama. I have family there and it’s only a 6-7 hour flight from Los Angeles.

I worry very much about my boy, even though if he were described in a newspaper they’d call him a man. He’s 25 going on 26. He’s my boy and will be for a long time.

I’ll have to write again to tell how Peru went, but I can say that from the texts and short phone conversations, I can report that the trip was a huge success. They had a great time and an amazing opportunity to spend some quality father-son time together on a big adventure. Most importantly, I get a new shot glass (and hopefully more)!

So, I have to think long and hard about what I actually did these past two week besides work. Work, by far, took up most of my time. I had the TV on a lot, but it was more to keep me company. I walked the dog on the weekends, but the poor thing has suffered as I did not walk him during the week so he has been stuck in his yard all day and in the house all night.

I’ve done a lot of work on the computer as I started working on a new website. It’ truly in its infancy, so I won’t include a link (at least not at this time). There’s been minimal housecleaning. The only yard work I did was last weekend when I mowed the lawns. Incredibly, as I was getting ready to mow and to yard work as my two friends were over to watch and keep me company, three young girls about 11-12 years old came over with their rakes asking if I was interested in help with the yard. I mowed, which only took about 10-15 minutes, and then sat in the beautiful back yard, with beautiful weather, with my two good friends sipping wine and enjoying the relaxing afternoon. Some things are just meant to be.

Now I’m rambling, but I’m making up for rambling I didn’t do in the past week. I’ll try to write tomorrow. I look forward to seeing the husband and to the weekend.

 

 

Still Alone… Day 9

Still Alone… Day 9

I was born into a family of writers, but a writer I am not. So trying to blog, participate in the NaMaBlo, is difficult. It is frustrating because I have all sorts of thoughts bouncing around in my head, but when I sit down to write, I can’t think of anything.

Forcing me to put thoughts (on paper? Can I use that expression anymore?) forces me to expose the lack of depth of my ideas.

Well, I’m off to work, but maybe I’ll try to write more when I get home. If I remember. That’s another reason I’m not such a good writer. I don’t have that burning urge to communicate. But I wanted to get something posted because I know I have to write a lot to maybe force the writer within to come out. After all, it’s in the genes.