Confessions on Potato Salad

10844_tart_cranberry_pieI do not have a sophisticated palate; I’m far from a gourmand.  Both of my grandmothers were excellent cooks; they prepared rural, regional cuisines.  My paternal grandmother was the family legend of baking: pies, donuts, blueberry muffins, and cinnamon rolls were her forte.  I knew I’d never learn to make pie crust or breads like hers.

Thus, given my upbringing I never discovered delectable Italian dishes until I went to elementary school.  In fact, I have vivid memories of sitting next to a girl in the lunch room who was eating what appeared to be some variation of bread slathered with tomato sauce and meat.  “What is that?  It’s smells wonderful.”


“You don’t know?  It’s pizza.  Want to try some?”

“Sure.  I’ll trade you one of my Mom’s chocolate chip cookies for it.”  My adoration of Italian food began.


Then, horrors of horrors!  I was asked to bring potato salad to a party.  Me?  Every time I tried to make it, it was not edible.  I knew I couldn’t go to the deli and buy it, for those places are rife with creepy diseases.  The last thing I wanted was to be the cause of Montezuma’s revenge!

I fired up the computer and searched the net.  Finally, I found a recipe that even I might put in my mouth.  Of course, I made a “dry run” and served it to my kid.  Both she and I pronounced it the best we’d ever eaten! In case, you want to try my tweaked concoction:

  1. Peel, cube, and boil potatoes.  Remove and drain when still rather firm.  Drizzle one and one-half teaspoons of white vinegar over potatoes and let sit.
  2. Chop celery, one or to two green onions, and one hard-boiled egg.
  3. In mixing bowl, blend equal parts of Miracle Whip, Mayonnaise, with a squirt of mustard and celery salt or celery seed. (The combo of Miracle Whip and Mayo is key!)
  4. Toss and stir everything together and let stand in refrigerator for at least two hours.

Trust me.  It’s a winner!




On Being 105


According to folklore, dog years are multiplied by 7.  Thus, I have a part pomeranian, part yorkie who recently had her fifteen birthday in people years or 105 dog years.  Meet Tessa Marie Jenkins, the centenarian!

Tessa was her original name, but over time, Marie and Jenkins were added.  Why? I don’t know.  In her early years, she was an active, friendly little dog, but then she became a recluse.  She spent the majority of her time under the bed.  So much so, that many of our family and friends asked, “Who’s that elusive dog of which I caught a glimpse?”  She kept her distance even from me.  She ran and hid if I tried to pet her.  I had to feed her in a separate room, as she wouldn’t eat in front of the others.  My kids called her a diva.  “She’s too good for our company.  Such a high-maintenance snob!”


Then miraculously, two years ago Tessa Marie came out from under the bed.  She ate with my other dogs, and she even came to parties.  I took her to the vet for her innoculations and check-up, and the vet said she was in wonderful condition.  “Sue, you must have just had her teeth cleaned.  Her teeth are immaculate.”  I only nodded–little did he know her teeth had never been cleaned.  (I’m not a fan of routinely putting dogs to sleep for teeth cleaning, unless infection threatens their health.)

These days Tessa is a spry, active and very demanding 105 year-old.  She barks and barks until she gets a dog biscuit or three.  I can’t tell her “no” because she is stone deaf.  Yet, when her internal clock goes off, she barks until her dinner is served.  She barks when she needs to patrol the backyard, and she barks when she sees someone at the front door.


Tessa has lived in my house for 15 years and has never gone near the swimming pool.  However, this week, during a romp, she fell in the deep end.  I was in shock!  She’s freaking old; she’ll have a heart attack and plummet ten feet down.  No.  She swam to the side, where my cabana boy rescued her.  Though I was sure she’d have some type of injury or side effect, she shook herself off as we towel-dried her.  She sprinted around the yard; I imagined her singing: Hey, now.  I’m a Rock Star!  I was amazed at her energy.

I guess I need to add this to my daily, dietary intake:






It Pays to Advertise

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Most of us are bombarded with advertising.  All with promises of the best car, the best detergent, the most energy efficient car or appliance.  Oh, dear God, yes, I’ve been sucked into these claims of years.

I’ve bought miracle cleansers guaranteed to make my shower sparkle.  I bought wrinkle-free clothing, five-minute meals, and solar pool covers.  None of those products delivered their false promises.  Yet, I kept on buying–searching for the one.


As time and age reduced me into a shar pei, which I could not bear to look at in a bathroom mirror, let alone a full-length mirror, I searched for hope.  And with simple clicks on my computer, I bought beauty creams, make up, oils, and elixirs all guaranteed to forestall my aging process.  Sadly, not one of them worked.

Finally, I just gave up.  I chose to no longer be a victim of a publisher’s clearinghouse subscription, nor a free week at a Maui timeshare.  I solved my problem.  Then, I spied this:

Really?  You want to move me?  Do realize how much stuff I have?  A Ford Focus?  Not to mention, how many muscular men could sit in a car of that size! I almost rolled over the sidewalk laughing in hysteria.

Given the current state of our world, this is what pays to advertise.



Gullibility: $



New-Small-Designer-Slim-Women-Red-font-b-Wallet-b-font-Thin-Zipper-font-b-LadiesMe thinks there is a substantial percentage of American consumers, who are so gullible they pay outrageous prices for routine items.  Of course, my daughters are in that group. To me, a handbag or wallet fulfills a need.  To them, it is a fashion statement.  So I ask you: when was the last time you ogled someone’s wallet at the store checkout?  When was the last time you coveted someone’s choice of paper towels or toilet paper?  When was the last time you envied someone’s plastic bottle of water?


This week, I was early to an appointment, so I entered a designer grocery–the kind which caters to folk with more money than sense.  I perused the inflated prices: boneless, chicken breasts at $5.99 a pound, broccoli crowns at $4.99 a pound, and the deli was serving $10 a cup coffee.  I found this curious as the day before I paid $1.47 a pound for boneless chicken breasts.  Obviously, something is seriously wrong with my palate.  Chicken is chicken.  Beef, however, is another matter.  (Ribeye steaks are far superior to round steak.)


Yet, the most outrageous item I saw on my adventure was one, peeled navel orange in a plastic container. It’s price: $6.00!  Had I known folk were so gullible, I would have picked my plentiful oranges, peeled and contained them, and undercut the price by one dollar.  Damn!  I’d be wealthy!  Maybe, next year.


Oh Package! Where Art Thou?


Every year I send navel oranges to friends and family.  Since navels are “Christmas oranges,” I usually mail them before the US Post Office gets overwhelmed with packages. And again, this year I did so on December 11.  The boxes went to New York, Ohio, and to Texas.  Since they were sent priority mail, I had tracking slips.

However, I usually get a text or a call from the recipient long before I get around to checking on them.  I’d heard from New York and from Ohio, but not from my sister in Texas.  Curious.  I texted: Did you get the citrus?  “No” was her reply.  Now, I was involved in a mystery, for according to geography, Texas is much closer to Phoenix than NY or OH. I entered the tracking number to find the lost parcel.  OMG!  I was astounded!  The oranges and limes must have decided to go on adventure!

They fled my sister’s Houston suburb, went to downtown Houston–perhaps to ride the Ferris wheel, and then took off to Dallas.  In Dallas, they were sent back to my local post office–less than five miles from my home.  According to tracking, those bad boys arrived on December 18.  Christmas and New Year’s came and went.  No citrus returned.  Weird.


On January 4, I received a brown envelope from the mailman.  Enclosed was this box top. (Since the original was addressed correctly and neither my sister, nor I want to be deluged with fan mail, I altered the label.)  Also enclosed was a letter, dated December 24 from a Dallas postal facility.  It read:  An empty wrapper with your address was found in the mail and is believed to have been separated from a parcel during handling (see attached portion of the wrapper.) Really?  The package was allegedly in Phoenix on the 18th.  How could the top of a large, flat-rate box been separated from it…unless, someone in the postal service knoshed on oranges and squeezed lime in beer?


Included was a form to file for missing items.  A laborious form that mandated receipts for whatever was in the box, plus serial and model numbers, sex and size of clothing articles, etc.  I tossed the form.  I have better things to do than worry about errant citrus.  However, the next time I send a box to my sister, it will be filled with….




XYZ: Examine Your Zipper


Many will recall the childhood comment: XYZ.  Usually, it was made to a boy, who emerged from the lavatory after those stupid, elementary school bathroom breaks.  Perhaps, you’ve experienced them, where the teacher lined up his/her class at the appointed hour and marched them down the hall.  I referred to this practice as pee on demand.

Though invented in 1851, zippers weren’t used in clothing until the 1930’s.  In the 1937, Battle of Fly, the zipper was declared winner over buttons.  This new tailoring idea in men’s trousers promised to prevent the possibility of embarrassment.

In recent weeks XYZ has morphed into headline stories, graphic dalliances of sexual harassment, even rape, have been exposed.  Certainly, rumors of the “Hollywood casting couch” have been around for years, but both men and women victims remained silent.  Now, it seems to be a pervasive epidemic propagated by those in power over the powerless.  Further, fueled by fear of losing a starring role, a job, or even getting a good grade in a college course.

Finally, victims found their voice.  Unnamed predators are probably suffering from sleepless nights and wobbly knees.  And thankfully, this week voters rejected a known creep, who advertised himself as an upright, moral man.

My advice to the powerful is simply: XYZ.  None of your employees, nor teenagers shopping at the mall are interested in your sausage.  And in this case, it doesn’t pay to advertise.








Arizona is awash with pricks!  Before you get your knickers in a knot, I’m not being bawdy.  The reality is the desert is full of pricks.  Perhaps, piercing needles are the first line of defense for smoldering summers, or perhaps, deadly burrs and barbs help flora survive.  I don’t know.  But Mother Nature early on forced me to employ a landscaper.


Of course, I, first, tried to control errant cacti by myself.  Then an inch-long spine impaled my leg.  A jumping  cholla attacked my foot on my way to the mailbox in my flip flops.  An agave ripped open my wrist when I tried to free a lost baby quail.  I was so stupid to think I could trim a palo verde tree and survive–wrong, my arms looked like I’d been in a lion’s den.


Bougainvillea and other gorgeous flower plants also wreck havoc.  When picking grapefruit, oranges, limes, and lemons, as most of the branches have razor-sharp needles.  I’m glad I don’t take blood-thinner.  I would need a transfusion for the amount of times I’ve been stuck.

So if you come to my house for dinner, don’t have one too many and end up with these pricks!



The Cicada and The Tortoise: A Curious Tale

Admittedly, I’m a technological immigrant.  Further, I’m technologically challenged.  I belong in a special class with any 10-year-old teacher.  Even five-year-olds today, know more than me.  My daughters and the school board folk have drug me into this new arena, and I know just enough to be dangerous.  While I enjoy that the world is now just one arrow key away and adore my cell phone convenience, I abhor “auto correct”  and the feature of speaking rather than typing. Lord knows, I sent far too many incoherent messages and emails.  A heinous crime, when the author is an English major!

On the other hand, I laugh uproariously when I receive one of these messages.  This week I received the following:

Scan 2017-9-30 18.21.01

Hmm.  A large cicada, which looks like a desert tortoise.  I was engulfed in laughter.  A family pet?  Even funnier.  Did they clip its wings so it wouldn’t fly off?

Really?  I see no likeness in the least.  Yet, I was sad I have no artistic talent.  Can you imagine the joy of creating such a creature?  I bet Dr. Seuss would have drawn and made millions on this hybrid character.

My neighbor and I had several hilarious conversations discussing the email.  We concluded the sender must be whacked.   Twas, not the case.  Damnable auto correct was at fault.  Behold the sulcata tortoise.


The Act of Kneeling


The flaming hot topic of the week!  Despicable, disrespectful, disgusting, degrading.  Perhaps to some whom haven’t been inside a church in decades, but to those of us who have, kneeling is the antithesis of defiance. In Luke 22:39-41, Jesus prayed on the Mount of Olives: Then, he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed….


Theologian Fr. Seraphim noted kneeling has been one of the “Most potent weapons against pride” for over two thousand years.  He concluded: “To this day, find a humble person, and you will find a person who kneels, regularly and consistently.”


Now folks will continue to disparage every person who fails to stand when the National Anthem is played.  But if the non-standing were dishonoring the American flag and the US military, wouldn’t they have chosen an ostentatious demonstration of disrespect  rather than kneeling?

Believe I’m no fan of professional sports.  I object to the outrageously high ticket prices, merchandise, and salaries.  I resent that TV weekend programming revolves around games.  Yet, hundreds of thousands of Americans avidly support their teams.  So, I, too,  am a protester, Mr. President,  but it has nothing to do with Oh, say can you see.  And with all due respect, sir, perhaps you should try kneeling.





On Wednesday, the 2017-2018, school year commences in our district.  For the next 9.5 months, I’ll receive phone calls and emails from parents and students who complain about homework.

“My kid has to do 25 math problems every night.  Don’t you understand he plays club soccer?”

“Why do I have to conjugate every Spanish verb and use it in a sentence?  I already know how to do it.”


“Really?  You expect my child to read to me every night and require me to initial it happened?  I work full-time and have other responsibilities when I get home.  Ludicrous!”

“Why do we have homework anyway?  It’s such a waste of my free time.  Let’s just stop this silliness.  After all, I’m gifted; I get the message the first time.  I’m not in need of mindless repetition.”


Since I’ve served as a school board member for 17 years, I’ve heard every argument against homework imaginable.  Even in some of my professional journals, I’ve read about the adverse effects of homework.  However, today, it became inimitably clear why school has homework.  Lord, it was a revelation!  Preparation for life.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to go to a casino for dinner and gambling.  True, I do enjoy wagering occasionally.  Yet, I declined.  I had to do homework.  The kitchen floor desperately needed mopped after the monsoon.  My yard’s grass, thanks to the monsoon, would be a foot tall, if I didn’t mow. The swimming pool needed cleaned and nuked with chemicals because of the monsoon.  I had to do homework.


In fact, this past week I’ve been consumed with homework. The condensation drain on an air conditioner clogged and sent water over my floor.  The patio door handle jammed and had to be replaced.  One of my dogs had poopy butt and had to be bathed.  Washing and ironing needed my attention.

And today is Sunday–a day of rest.  The Sunday crossword awaits my participation. But first, I must pay the electric and the water bills, clean out the refrigerator, dump the trash in the garbage cans for early Monday pick-up, and…ad infinitum.

Based on my epiphany about homework, the next complaint which comes across my radar screen will be answered:  Suck it up, dude.  Welcome to life.