Hairtofore

I pledge never to complain about a bad hair day again.  Even a bad hair day is better than a no hair day. Have you ever not had hair?  Not having hair is pretty all consuming, affecting what you do but mostly what you don’t do.  Who knew it would be this hard?  But even a naked head wouldn’t be so bad if those ears weren’t so darn big.  It’s all about the ears and who knew mine were this big?   Where did your hair go you might ask?

Chemotherapy will take it right away.  The nurse was saying at my first infusion  “Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones, whose hair doesn’t fall out.  Even so, it won’t come all out until sometime after the second infusion.”  As she was talking, I could feel my hair falling out and before the second infusion, it was all gone.  Being diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time in your life is sobering and this time, it had already spread.  I was in trouble.  I focused on hair.

I got a wig which looked fine in the shop and then when I went to wear it, of course I hated it.  I can’t tie a scarf so went for something I didn’t have to tie.  A hat, a cap,  I hate most all of them too.  I took the wig back and they cut and restyled it and I like it better, but now it’s summer and wigs are hot.

However,  there is good news surrounding no hair.  It takes me so much less time to get ready in the morning, I don’t have to shave those legs, think of the money I’m saving on haircuts, shampoo, conditioner and highlights.  With all those positives, why does it bother me so much?  Much more than it should.  Why can’t I be like most of the other women at the infusion center who don’t seem to be bothered by their hairless heads?  I wear my wig to the infusion center.  I’m hoping people don’t realize I’m sick and want to  present a normal face to the world outside of that room. So who has the problem, me who cares too much or those women that don’t seem to care at all?

Why don’t you try those cold caps you might ask.  I did that the last time and they worked but they were quite the pain. Penguin Cold Caps had to be at a temperature below freezing and a home freezer isn’t cold enough. If your infusion center is not equipped with a cold cap freezer which ours wasn’t, you needed a huge cooler with dry ice which we had to pack each time.  The cooler had to be a certain size to fit 8 caps and we needed 80 pounds of dry ice each time. The caps had to be changed every 20 minutes, so I needed a team.

My husband Tom of course was one of the team and a very good friend, Kinyon, volunteered to be his helper.  Mostly Kinyon was used for comic relief and the nurses at the center hated comic relief.  They were hostile.  My team seemed to be having too much fun and that is apparently not good at the infusion center.  I was having these huge caps, -20 degrees C on my head, changed every 20 minutes to keep them that temperature which was quite the distraction for me.  Four hours at the center, and four more hours at home which meant I went home with a cap on my head.  Then you couldn’t wash your hair for 2 days before the treatment and 2 days after, no standing under the shower, you had to use a cup to pour water over your hair, special shampoo and all in all it was a pain.  So that wasn’t an option this time.

You haven’t lived until your husband shaves your head!

Advice??

My Favorite Memory of Mom

 

At the time, I was mortified, wishing the floor would open up and swallow me.

The occasion was my graduation from United Airlines Stewardess School in Chicago, August, 1972.  My Aunt Dotty, mom’s sister lived in Chicago and mom flew out from Blue Earth, MN for the event.  I was excited to graduate and have mom and Aunt Dotty there.

I was thrilled and so proud that I had made it through our 8 weeks of training and now I was about to graduate and then start my flying career.  I had rented an apartment with 2 other friends and we were beyond excited.  Parents, Aunts, Uncles, boyfriends, girlfriends and grandparents had come to watch our graduation.  My mom was to pin my wings on me.

Our class filed in and took our seats.  I didn’t see mom and Aunt Dotty but I knew they were there.  My name was called to get my wings.  I walked up to the stage, mom got up and came toward the stage.  I thought I would have a heart attack.  She had on a short skirt and white Go Go boots, hair piled high on her head, black horn rimmed glasses and some kind of short jacket.  I was mortified.  How could she? Go Go boots?!  Oh how I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me.

But those Go Go Boots are my favorite memory of mom.  She was from small town Minnesota and she was so proud of me.  She wanted to be hip.  The 70’s were the era of Go Go Boots.  She must have agonized over her outfit.  She thought she looked great. And you know what?  She looked wonderful and in my heart, when I think of her that day, I am overwhelmed with love.

My mother was a terrible cook.  But the one thing she made that we all loved was pork chops.  I have wondered for years how she made them but I have a sneaking suspicion this is how she did it:

Put bone-in, thin cut pork chops in a roasting pan.

Pour two cans of Cream of Mushroom Soup over them

Turn the oven on to 350 degrees and cook for one hour.

After one hour the chops would have been inedible but that Cream of Mushroom soup melted into them and crusted up.

We all thought they were delicious which may give you a clue as to what our everyday fare was like.

This memory and pork chop recipe will go in the family cookbook.  What memory do you have of your mom that brings a smile to your face now?

My Favorite Memory of Dad

I’ve been silent for awhile.  You’ve heard about bumps in the road of life, and I’ve encountered a big one.  However, I have not given up on our family cookbook/memoir.  In fact, I have been quite busy with it.  Have you ever done one?  It’s a project, especially when you are involving several families and lots of stories and pictures.  But the more I do it, the more excited I get about it.  On that note, I am going to ask each person for their favorite memory of their mom and dad.  I can’t wait to read the responses.

Below is my favorite memory of my dad.

 

My dad was a complex person.  Life of the party, jokester, tough guy, disciplinarian, generous and scary.  I didn’t realize until after he died, that he was a big softie, just that he hid it very well.

Letter from dad 

I remember his letters.  Oh how we dreaded those letters.  You knew you were in big trouble if you got one.  I only saved a couple of them and I so wish I had saved them all.  They were a big window into his personality.  If you click on the letter from dad above, you’ll see what I mean.

However, my favorite memory is “America the Beautiful.”  Dad was a patriotic guy.  When Tom and I decided to get married,( much to my dad’s undying gratitude, as I was 27 and he was sure I would be an Old Maid and he’d have to take care of me the rest of his life), his one request was that we play “America the Beautiful” at our wedding.  I was stunned.  I said no.  Who has “America the Beautiful” sung at their wedding? How he pouted.  Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and my mom and I secretly arranged for the soloist to sing it.  A surprise for dad.  The big day came.  I vividly remember dad walking up and down the halls of our home with an oxygen mask on before the service, as he was more nervous about the day than I was.  We were married in the Catholic Church in town and of course my parents had insisted on a High Mass.  That’s the long version of the regular Mass.  It took over two hours.  I can’t imagine that today!  In the middle of the service, the soloist sang “America the Beautiful.”  I stole a glance at dad who was sobbing.  The reception was at my parent’s house where we had a pig roast and at least 200 people, several of whom weren’t invited.  The best man’s brother came down from Minneapolis (he wasn’t invited) with three of his buddies.  The day was the most fun and the happiest day of my life and maybe the happiest of my dad’s life.

I remember dad’s wine roast which he would make often on Sunday’s.  However, it wasn’t my favorite.  He was very proud of it but my favorite was his rotisserie chicken.  That was incredible.  This is how I think he made the wine roast:

Put a beef top round roast in a pan. Poke some holes in it. Pour a bottle of the cheapest red wine you can find over it. Marinate for a few hours while everyone is in church. Cook until well done.

Make your kids eat it.

What would your favorite memory of your dad be?

 

Stiff Peaks

By now you’ve finished all your after Christmas shopping and broken all your New Year’s resolutions.  Now what?  It’s February and there’s not a lot going on.  Except for of course Valentine’s Day.  Remember when Valentine’s Day was a big deal?  What would he get me?  Jewelry, candy, flowers?  It was so exciting.  Me, I’d take candy over jewelry any day.  It was a given you’d go out for a romantic dinner. Since it was on my mind I thought I’d ask Tom if he’d thought about it.

Me ( with hope in my voice)  “What have you thought about doing for Valentine’s Day?”

Tom:  “Oh yeah,   Valentine’s Day.  Why don’t you make those lamb chops we like and for sure the Coeur a la Creme, I love that and you only make it on Valentine’s Day.”   Another hope dashed… However, Tom has made this dessert once before and the instruction to whip that cream to stiff peaks had him very confused.  But not as confused as the time he made another dessert as a surprise for me.  That instruction read:  whip egg whites until stiff but not dry.  He still talks about  “That crazy instruction!  What the heck does not dry mean, do egg whites get dry and what does that look like?”  You get the picture.

There are other things to do in February like get a head start on Spring cleaning; invite those friends of yours who didn’t escape to a sunnier place over for dinner.  I am going to turn on the fireplace and curl up on the couch with the golf balls I got for Christmas and dream of a lower handicap.  Speaking of golf balls, have you seen those new matte colored balls?  They are really cool, so that’s what I asked for.  I had only seen the deep red and orange ones, so didn’t even know there were other colors.  Sure enough, there are.  I got a box of the Volvik pastels.  Do you think I will be noticed on the golf course with these colors?  I think so!

If you are spending Valentine’s Day at home and making your own romantic dinner, here is the Coeur a la Creme recipe which is now a family heirloom and will be making it into that cookbook I hope to finish in the next 5 years.  By the way, what are you doing for Valentine’s Day?

Uh Oh, Now I’ve done it

The Holiday Season is such a fun heartwarming time of year.  A time of good cheer, not a time of danger to your marriage.  Picking out gifts for family members and friends is creative and fun.  It’s a challenge to find just the right thing and then all of a sudden you have a whole pile of “just the right thing.”  And that pile just gets bigger, but how did that happen?  May the following story be a warning to those of you who are happily married.

Last year we were spending Christmas in California.   First we’d spend Christmas Eve and part of Christmas Day with our daughter and the twins.  Then after gifts were opened, we’d head to our son’s house, four hours away and spend it with our two grandsons.  We were going to drive as I had all the gifts for everyone gathered in the guest room.  I’d had a good time shopping and found all sorts of just perfect gifts which soon became a big pile taking up more space than they should have in the guest room. The night before we left, Tom wanted to pack the car so we could get an early start in the morning.

 

“What is all of this!” he shouted in dismay,           “All of these wouldn’t even fit into Santa’s sleigh!”

Those dreamy blue eyes were full of fury,                I left that room in a great big hurry.

Yes I went overboard a wee tiny bit                             But he didn’t need to throw such a big hissy fit

“We’ll need two cars!” he sputtered and fumed.    But he started carrying gifts from the room.

He got it packed, everything fit,                                    Although we barely had room to sit.

Next year he said, each kid gets just two,                 I’m making a spreadsheet to send to you.

So I said those words he was desperate to hear,   Those two little words, “Yes dear.”

Oh the stress!  Does any of this sound familiar?  It’s really hard to buy just two gifts each for our adorable, deserving grandchildren,  You find the perfect two gifts and buy them and then something even more perfect comes along. Then what do you do? Take a chance on the fury again or just stop.  I stopped at three, which I thought was a perfect compromise.

Has this ever happened to you or am I the only one to bust budgets?  By the way, what budget?  Do you actually have one?  How does that work!

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Nothing is more perfect than a pumpkin chocolate chip cookie. Especially one that is a family tradition.  This recipe will go into the family cookbook that I haven’t worked on since I told you all about it.  I make these cookies in October and all of a sudden it’s November and I forgot all about them since October got completely away from me.  Of course it’s not too late as they are also perfect for November.  I got Bobbie Mae’s recipe out of the Chicago Tribune in the 1970’s, for which she won $10.  I have been making them since.   In making them the other day, I decided for once to follow Bobbie Mae’s recipe exactly.  Wait.  Did I put in four cups or five cups of flour?  I’m sure it was the five I needed but was it? She instructed readers to lightly spoon the flour into a one cup measure and then level off with a spatula.  That is how I lost control of the flour as I doubled the recipe.  How could you lose count of just 5 cups of flour?  Easy.

I decided to experiment.  Usually I bake them as soon as I make the dough.  It’s hard to wait.  This time I decided to bake a few right away, refrigerate some of the dough, and freeze some in my mini muffin pan.  That way I could tell you which way was best.  Let me tell you right now that it didn’t make a darn bit of difference.  The dough was easier to scoop after being refrigerated, but that was about it.  The dough also did not freeze so it was like being refrigerated. I knew almost right away that I had put in 4 and not 5 cups of flour.  Too late for most of the batch.   Gooey dough made really gooey cookies that are impossible to pick up and eat unless you freeze them.  The frozen cookies are all stuck together. When you try to get one, you get at least three. Maybe that’s not all bad.

 

I added a bit of flour to the dough I hadn’t formed yet.  Even if you add the correct amount of flour, I recommend that you don’t put them in a cookie jar because at room temperature, they will still stick together.  Ours are always in the freezer and let me tell you, when you take one out and warm it for a few seconds in the microwave, you are in pumpkin heaven.

The bottom line is:  pay very close attention to your cups!

I wonder if I will need a better photographer than me to take pictures for the cookbook.  What do you think?