Monday, April 25, 2011

The Way It Was

Growing up in a large Catholic/Slovak family, holidays were big and religious holidays were even bigger. Easter meant Church, family and food. Man, was there food.

Every Holy Saturday would find a representative from each Catholic/Slovak family in Church with our Easter baskets full of good food for Easter Sunday. If I recall correctly, we didn't eat meat on Holy Saturday, but Mom cooked up a storm getting everything ready for the blessing on Saturday afternoon. You took your good basket (ours was the industrial size, due to the large family!) and the good linens and doilies. In the basket would be a sampling of all the food you would serve on Easter Sunday. There would be a healthy chunk of ham, sliced up Polish sausage and Italian sausage, a salt shaker, butter in Mom's good cup with the ducks on it, hard boiled eggs, a fresh jar of horse radish (I have NO idea why as I think only my sister Barb ate it), fresh home made Easter bread and a hunk of cetetz.

Ok, that last one is spelled phonetically, not correctly, I think. It's pronounced like see'tetz. I can pronounce it in Slovak but I have no idea how to spell it! But, on Good Friday evening, you take a couple of dozen eggs and put them in your dutch oven and cook over a low flame with sugar and milk until it's a scrambled egg consistency. Then, you put it in a cheese cloth and form a ball while you squeeze the juice out of it. Then, you tie the cheese cloth tight to a wooden spoon, forming a ball with your cetetz, and jamb that wooden spoon into the handle on the cupboard leaving it hanging there over a sauce pan to catch the drippings over night. Hey, for real! This is how it was done! In the morning, you take this ball out of the cheese cloth, put it on a cookie sheet (maybe?) and put it in the oven until the top is lightly browned.

You slice this delicacy in thin slices, like bread and chow down! Some of us liked it with a little salt, some just eat it plain. Being allergic to eggs, this is one thing I'd eat every year and get sick as a dog on it. But man oh man was it worth it!

Anyway, a hunk of cetetz would be in the basket. Whatever was going to make its way to your dinner table had a sampling of it in this basket. I'm sure I'm forgetting a bunch of stuff, but you get the idea.

The Church I grew up in had a couple of services on Holy Saturday for the blessing of the food. Everyone would sit on each side of the big center aisle with all of the baskets placed in the center aisle. The baskets would have their linens and doilies folded back exposing the food. Church never smelled so good! Monsignor would come out, say a few prayers and then walk up and down the aisle with the holy water blessing all of the food. The entire process took maybe 10 minutes. Everyone would close up their baskets and head home.

Once the Holy Saturday evening Mass was over, when you got home, all the food was up for grabs! That's when our Easter Sunday celebrations would start and man, what a feast.

To take the basket to Church was Dad's chore every year. I remember going with him as this was one of the fun "chores" to be done before a family gathering. It beat the heck out of cleaning the house!

I remember when I moved to Houston, I had joined a Church in my neighborhood. I was so excited that for the first time, I would get to present MY basket at Church for the blessing! This felt like such a rite of passage, even though I was over 30 years old! I was searching for just the right basket, as I already had my linens and doilies picked out. Palm Sunday came and there was no mention in the bulletin as to what time the blessing of the food would be the following Saturday! Surely this had to be a mistake!

I called my pastor during the week to ask what time I should be there for the blessing of the food. Ok, my Church was predominately Hispanic and Vietnamese. He had never HEARD of the blessing of the food baskets! Holy crap, what a let down! I immediately called my Mom in a panic! My Church wasn't blessing baskets! It took me that long to find out that was a Slovak tradition, not a Catholic tradition! Who knew?? I was totally crushed. That was a hard tradition to let go of.

Now, I've been away from family and traditions for a long time. I've made my own traditions for some holidays, but to be honest, some holidays are just harder to get through than others.

Mike called me during the day to wish me a Happy Easter. He said what he wouldn't give for a piece of Mom's cetetz. Wow, me too. Then, I talked to Cathie and we talked about that cup with the ducks on it. I don't remember Mom ever using that cup for anything other than putting butter in to be blessed. When I talked to Jim, he talked about how Aunt Mary, the Matriarch of our family now, is up in years and not able to put together the basket any longer for the Easter blessing. This year, her son Marty was taking care of that chore. Wow, another pang. I spent most of yesterday being very homesick.

I guess I can run from traditions but I can't hide. I can't bring back the past but some days it seems that I just need a hug to get through a day. And, not just any hug - I don't care how old you are; some days you just need your Mom.

I miss you, Mom.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

PhotoPhun: Signs Of Spring

I think I have finally shoveled my last shovel full of snow for the season! Thursday after work, I cut the grass for the first time this year. Hang on people! Shortly I'll be complaining about having to mow! It's so hard being a woman since complaining is built into our DNA! You know how the saying goes: women don't fart and we don't burp. Therefore, we must bitch or we'll blow up! That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

Anyway, this week's challenge is Signs of Spring! Thank goodness! This was a perfect challenge for this beautiful Easter morning! So, here are signs of spring in my neighborhood.

My lilac bush is greening up! Now I KNOW it's only a matter of time until I have lilacs on there!

Of course, with greening up, we have the weeds coming out in my flower beds. Uck.

From what the neighbors have told me, my whole side yard used to be a flower garden at one time. In the middle of the yard in the spring I get this patch where my Resurrection Lilies come up. Appropriate name for Easter time for sure! In the spring, all of the greenery comes up. Then, these leaves will die out and we'll mow them down. In the late summer, early fall, the flowers will come up. They are gorgeous. But since it's spring time, here are the leaves.

This is what we call our rock garden! Other than the Rose of Sharon trees, there are a lot of rocks in this patch. Well, usually some weeds too! But in the spring, this rock garden is full of life. On the far left, my wild garlic is starting to come in. In the top middle, we have more of the Resurrection Lilies and on the right, my Jonquils. Beautiful!

Lastly is my favorite. My Weeping Cherry tree. I had this planted a few years ago. The first spring that our tree bloomed, Ron had been sent to Amsterdam for work. While not a bad gig for him, I spent that week excitedly trying to explain to Ron how gorgeous this tree was in full bloom! Pictures don't do it justice and when he returned a week later, all of the blooms were gone already. It's a fast blooming tree but just so absolutely beautiful. One of my best landscaping decisions!

These are the signs of spring in my neighborhood. Make sure you check out Lisa and Mark's neighborhoods to see what's coming up!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Moon Pictures

I received an email this week that included some fantastic pictures! My first thought was this should be a PhotoPhun challenge. Then I thought this is way beyond my capabilities as a photographer and probably beyond the capabilities of my digital camera.

So, I tried to copy and paste the pictures in emails. That didn't work so I tried to just forward the email to people. That didn't work either! I have to share these pictures since I think they are absolutely fantastic! However, I do not know where the pictures originated nor can I give them proper credit. If anyone knows anything about these pictures, please let me know. This is some wicked talent!

So, in lieu of my emails yesterday, here are the moon pictures.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

That's Just Wrong, Page 23

I don't know what else to title this post, so I'm going with That's Just Wrong!

I was goofing off at lunch today, reading through some of my junk websites. I saw a picture that looked like it was going to be a good joke. An inherent problem in my family is that most of us are color blind. Not one to want to miss a joke, I looked really really hard at it. I saw absolutely nothing.

So I sent it to Ron to look at. He had a good laugh and told me what it supposedly says. Not that I don't trust him but I sent it to my sister Cathie to look at. She had nothing. The next time Mike was in my office, I had him look at it. Nothing.

How funny of a joke can it be? C'mon people. That's Just Wrong!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

PhotoPhun: Urban Macros

This is my take on Urban Macros! You know macros are my absolute favorite PhotoPhun challenges! My fellow PhotoPhunners created a monster when they taught me how to do this!

Unfortunately, all of this decay is just too close to home.

I think I need a new drain pipe.

This is our fire grass that is dormant at the moment. But I thought it made a good picture.

Then, just a collection of pictures from my point of view.

And, my personal favorite picture! I do love how this one came out.

Lastly, a little self serving picture!

Hop on over to Lisa and Mark's places. I know with their mad skills they have some great pictures!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

That Was Ugly

I have been in an emotional tail spin. The cats are NOT getting along and it is absolutely killing me. I know, I'm being ridiculous. But that doesn't change how I feel about the whole thing.

Considering that Penelope has been living on the street for awhile, she seems to have no street sense. Benny chases her, then she gets into a position where Benny can get on top of her or trap her somewhere. Then he wails on her with his front paws and then starts biting her.

I know nothing about nothing about cats, but I don't think he's being malicious, I think he's just being a kitten. The fact that she tries to take refuge somewhere that he can get at her like that kills me. The growls and hisses and screeches that come out of her are heart breaking. When I feel his biting gets to be too much, I grab him away, and then take her to the safety of the basement. I've gone back to locking her in the basement for what is in my mind, her own protection. This is no way for her to live. Everyone tells me that they will work it out, but I just don't know if it can happen fast enough for me. It's been two weeks already for crying out loud.

I know, so much drama and it's all about cats. My life should be so simple, huh? Anyway, the other night it go so bad, Benny got locked in the bathroom until I could get her corralled and back to the basement. Trust me, once he's been after her, she wants nothing to do with any of us! It's like WWIII at our house some days!

Is this my fault for trying to throw them together too quickly? I had their litter boxes side by side in the basement and their food bowls side by side in the dining room. Too much? I really have NO idea what the hell I am doing and some days it is more apparent than others. It's like I need a babysitter to come hold my hand and tell me how to take care of these creatures and what is acceptable behavior for them and what is not. I'm clueless.

All I know is that when I'm here, all hell seems to break loose. When I'm at work, Ron tells me that the cats are getting along pretty well. I think he lies to me! Then he sent me these pictures the other day.

First is Benny, laying in Penelope's place on the window seat.

Not to be outdone, we have Penelope laying on Benny's (actually, Ron's!) chair.

They look so calm, so cool. Then I come home and look out! Time to fight! Then, after an evening of chasing Penelope around the house, here is Benny. He is not stretching, he is sleeping along my leg, just laying there all out. It's a tough day for the poor guy after all.

The thought came to mind the other day that maybe this is not meant to be. I didn't rescue her just to have her live her life in fear and agony. That's not fair. So I started the process of finding another home for Penelope, putting the word out to family and friends to see if any one could take her in. I have the number for the Friendship APL (a no-kill shelter) in my back pocket, I just can't bring myself to call them yet.

Every time I think of getting rid of one of them, I totally lose it. I have cried more this week than I have in a looooong time. Yes, over cats. Cats. Stray cats. I am an emotional wreck!

So, last night, I said to Ron that he needs to take me out and get me drunk! For real, THIS is the time he picks to listen to ME!

We went to Mezcal Tequila over by the Midway Mall. People, people, this place is fantastic! Their food is more TexMex, not authentic Mexican. That is why I like it more than most Mexican places we go. Plus, their margaritas are to die for! I feel like I'm dying today, but whatever!

We ate and I drank. And, drank. And, I think I drank some more. There is nothing uglier than a drunk woman but man o' man, that was me last night. Thanks to Ron for taking care of me and getting me to and from the car and into the house last night. I can't remember the last time I drank and today I remember all too well why I don't do it more often!

First, I need to thank Ron again for helping me through last night. Then, I need to apologize to my friends, David and Edna, for all of the drunk texting/calling/emailing that was going on last night! I'm sorry! Nothing uglier than a drunk woman!

Other than being hung over, I still don't have the answers. I absolutely love those two little pests and do not want to give either one of them up. But, how can we live happily ever after with a male kitten and an adult female? Can it happen? Will we get through this? Will I get through this? I can't keep looking to tequila for the answers, but I honestly don't know what to do. Am I doing the right thing by them?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fifty One-derful!!

Someone asked Ron how old he was during his family birthday lunch on Saturday and that was his answer! Fifty one-derful! How can I argue with that? I can't!! He IS fifty one-derful!!

I messed up getting this posted on time, as Monday was his actual birthday. Sorry honey!!

As I said, family and friends got together on Saturday for a birthday celebration at Sokolowski's University Inn over in Tremont. Hey, when it's your birthday, you get to choose where you want to go and this is one of Ron's favorite places. I gotta tell you though, if you're planning on going over there, now is a good time and a bad time to do that. It's good because business has been slow due to construction in the area. It's bad because of the construction in the area! Holy crap, even with the Garmin, I'm glad I wasn't driving! It's a crazy area to begin with but with the construction and the rebuilding of the Innerbelt Bridge, it's a freakin' mess over there. But, the food is SO worth it!

We had Ron's brother Wes and his wife Bev

and every one's favorite cousin Tom and his wife Margie!

Thanks to all of you for making the drive all the way up here to come celebrate with us! It's never a party without y'all!!

Then, we had Phil who even wore his party shirt for the occasion! Too bad you can't really see the shirt in this picture. It's his ghost riders on Harley's shirt! Who knew the old guy had "cool" in him!!

We had Larry and Virginia

and Linda and Alexis.

Do you notice who we're missing? The birthday boy!!! I suck some days!!!

The way the table was, I was stuck in my seat. I'd have to get two people to get up to let me out, unless I wanted to crawl under the table! So, my young friend Alexis helped me with camera duty. I handed over my camera and she took the pictures for me that I asked for. I just forgot to ask for pictures of me and the birthday boy!

Sorry, honey!

We had a blast at dinner! You know how we feel about birthdays! We are trying to celebrate the whole month of April for him. It's all about the birthday!

Picture or no picture, happy birthday honey! Everyone needs to call, text, email or smoke signal him. It's not every year someone is FIFTY ONE-DERFUL!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

PhotoPhun: Numbers

Things never turn out exactly how I want them to, but that doesn't mean I'm not happy with the results!

This week's challenge was my call and I called NUMBERS. You can't get away from them, they are everywhere!

For example, they are right down the street from Ziggy's in Amherst!

When we got back into Ron's car, I saw the same numbers and thought it must be meant to be. Too bad I was in the back seat and didn't work the zoom well!

Saturday we had Ron's birthday lunch over at Sokolowski's University Inn in Cleveland. Hey, when it's your birthday, you get to choose where you want to go! So this was from Sokolowski's sign. Be warned - if you're thinking about heading down there, the area is a mess with construction. Make sure you map out the streets around Sokolowski's. What a mess. More on that tomorrow!

This is the best I could do out of my skinny ass wallet! I was hoping for a bigger number but whatever!

And, just because this is my fifth picture, here is a picture of my pack of gum!

Ok, wasn't what I had planned, but I am happy with the results! Please go over and see Lisa and Mark's blogs to see how they fared!