Preparing for St. Paddy’s Day

While grocery shopping yesterday,  as  the world would be honoring St. Patrick in one day, I bought corned beef and red potatoes and cabbage. I told my family it would be Irish fare on the 17th, and so my husband picked-up a special horse radish cream he loves with corned beef while driving home from work. What would make the meal perfect? I had already bought the rye bread, but for me, St. Paddy’s Day is perfect with Irish soda bread. Last year I brought home a loaf from the local market’s bakery, but it was disappointing. I can make it. I figured I had flour, so I bought a new baking soda while shopping. Somewhere in the recesses of my brain I pulled-out “buttermilk” but dismissed it, so I paid for my items and left the store.

Once home, my son put away the groceries for me and I pulled out my Irish cook book and immediately realized that the little voice in my head was right. I did need buttermilk. I cooked all day yesterday afternoon, not only making my St. Paddy’s day feast with corned beef and red potatoes and carrots and cabbage, but I also made a chicken dish with medium-grain sticky rice and more carrots and stock and fresh sage leaves from my garden. I pan-grilled fresh green beans, and made a double batch of my chocolate brownies to be given as gifts to friends this week.

This morning, after a quick cup of coffee, and after feeding and playing with our freshly-shaven, gussied up dog, I took off for the market. I came home with the buttermilk. I was measuring out the fourth cup of flour, and I was so happy that I had just enough, when I saw a speck of what looked like a tiny piece of packaging in the flour. Hmmmm.

On closer inspection with my magnifying glass, I decided I had better buy some fresh flour. So I tossed the just-measured four cups of flour, baking soda, salt and sugar from my orange mixing bowl into the waste basket. I also discarded the remaining flour package (which I had stored in a zip-lock plastic bag in my pantry). Grabbing my keys and purse, I let my husband know I was off to the store again.

“Why don’t you pick up a loaf of soda bread at Whole Foods?” “Oh,” I answered. “I don’t want to drive to Campbell.” He looks at me and laughs. “Whole Foods is down the street.”

O-H-H-H-H! Right! It opened recently and I toured the market before it opened. They gave each of us a great bag of goodies, too. It’s close enough to walk. He’s chuckling. I’m chuckling.

Not to be deterred, one more run to the store, and now I have new flour – not wrapped in paper, but already sealed in a zip-locked bag, and a fresh sugar.

Four more measured cups of new flour into my washed and dried orange bowl, a teaspoon of baking soda, the sugar, salt, and the baking powder. Baking powder? In a soda bread? Gee, that’s weird. But it’s not a lot, so oh, well.

Wait. Now they want me to add whole wheat flour? They also want me to use rolled oats? I’m perplexed.

My son walks in and I tell him how weird this recipe is.

“Are you sure you’re looking at the right recipe?”

Well, on the left page is a recipe for Irish brown bread. On the right side, bottom, is my recipe for “Nora’s Best Soda Bread.” Oh well. It’s an honest enough mistake. I’ll just forget that I added baking powder and keep making the bread. At least I don’t have to run to the store for whole wheat flour.

My son looks at me. “Did you get enough sleep last night, Mom?” “Yes! I feel great!” My husband steps into the kitchen and realizes I’ve goofed. He says to our son, “She forgot that Whole Foods is down the street!” We’re all laughing now.

The loaf came out pretty well, but you can taste it’s not a pure soda bread. What the heck; I have more buttermilk and flour and everything.

In addition to cooking and running to the store today, I’ve been submitting Hal Roach Irish jokes to my Facebook page. There’s this one Hal Roach joke that really makes me laugh. I’ve been hearing it in my head all day, while walking around the house, and driving, and tossing ingredients into the trash, and walking through the aisles of my grocery store, and waving to the staff who have seen a lot of me these past two days. I’ve been laughing and chuckling all day.

The widow had her husband laid out for the wake, and he had the biggest smile on his face that was ever seen in Ireland. I said to her, “I never saw a corpse with a smile like that. What happened to him?” “Ah, dear God,” she said. “Twas terrible. He was struck eight times by lightning, and he thought he was having his photograph taken.”

“He was struck eight times by lightning, and he thought he was having his photograph taken”? HA! I’m positively guffawing.

So now as I’m waiting for my next loaf of Irish soda bread to come out of the oven, I’m thinking of the punch line, and I can see and hear my husband and son laughing, sure, at my expense, but it was pretty funny, and I’m remembering how the staff at the grocery store looked surprised when they saw me yet again this morning, and I can’t believe I’ve just spent hours making a loaf of bread that I could have picked up down the street and that my whole morning and a chunk of my afternoon has been a fiasco, and I realize that I really do have the luck of the Irish today. I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time.

And besides, I can “gift” the first loaf along with the brownies. Who’s gonna know?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Kathleen O’Galagan (Just for today!)

March 17, 2015

Online Dating a/k/a “So, You Wanna Date?”

A few friends of mine and I were chatting over dinner the other night. Several told the group their experiences in the online dating scene. After many stories, laughs, a couple of bottles of wine and a round of hugs, I walked to my car silently cheering that I am happily married. Thank God I don’t have to handle the online dating angst; I don’t think I could do it!

For starters, my friends exclaimed that people in the dating pool absolutely do respond to their profiles and bios. Nine times out of ten, they told me, interested persons write scintillating missives such as: “Are you interested in me?” and “Do you want to date?”

Wait a minute. “Do you want to date?” This is the response you get to the bio that you took great pains to write after engaging in months of deep soul-searching? What, are we in first grade? The best conversation starter a person looking for love can wrap his or her little typing fingers around is, “Let’s go out.”? This is the way to woo a potential special someone? Now, perhaps I’m wrong, but I thought the point of posting a little bio is to provide discerning souls an opportunity to see if there is a commonality of interests. Does the profile author show a sense of humor? Is exercise, or music, or movies or travel important to this person? Do they like books? It doesn’t seem to be that difficult. How can individuals looking to share their life with someone be so bereft of the gift of gab that they can’t respond to any of these points? It’s not like they’re showing up at somebody’s doorstep with flowers for crying out loud.

Or perhaps these responders’ MO is a blanket reply; it’s easy to “Control ‘V’” a “Do you want to date?” one-liner and see where that lands you. I suppose there are calculated odds as to how many of these missives a person looking for a date needs to send out to garner a response. Think of all the time saved when you don’t have to read the bios! Just click on one, reply with your zinger, and move on to the next. It’s not a strategy that embraces discernment, but maybe it will work for a night at the movies, someday. Plus there’s no rejection. Maybe one of my friends should add, “I like to calculate the odds!” on a bio. It might lead to an interesting conversation. Well, whether or not one of my friends might want to start a conversation with anyone who chooses to honor her with a first grade sentence is another thing.

But it wasn’t just the replies to the biographies that got us going. The biggest roars came when people started to open up and state their own personal desires that would make for perfect relationships — but didn’t have the guts to state. Over more laughter, a list of non-negotiables began to appear.

I’m looking forward to sharing a glass of wine with my Sweetie who loves being handy in the kitchen! In fact, I hope my Sweetie is so handy in the kitchen that I’ll never have to step in that room again.

I’m looking forward to wrapping my arms around my special someone who embraces invigorating winter mornings and enthusiastically plunges into the morning chill to collect the paper from a snowy lawn and lovingly scrape ice off both our cars.

I’m looking forward to spending quality time with my true love, a good-natured and caring soul who is not afraid to apply a prescription medicinal cream to my dog’s backside.

I’m looking forward to living my life with my soul mate, that loving someone who is adept at unclogging relationships and toilets.

Kathy Galgano

January 24, 2015

I Woke Up Wanting to Write Again

I woke up wanting to write again. It has been a long time, and I dearly missed my old friend, that part of me that on earlier occasions had multiple pieces all whirling around my head at the same time, taking shape with each spin.  As themes and descriptions and story lines brightened with each mind lap, the hardest part was choosing what not to write. Some pieces would just have to swirl a little longer.

It didn’t happen overnight. It took a matter of weeks and the ideas slowed and I felt tired. I jotted several things down, but didn’t publish. Then I just stopped writing. I even stopped looking at my blog’s Stats page where I follow how many readers look at my site, and from which country they hail. I didn’t have interest in knowing which themes my readers preferred. Yes, I still had a few ideas swirling, but they weren’t taking form.

This lapse, something like a little death, came after a dear friend of mine passed. She had been ill for years, but referred to her illness as “an inconvenience” and stated numerous times, “I don’t do ‘sick’ well.” We saw a lot of each other, including spending a good deal of time in the car driving to and from the hospital. We hung out in clinic rooms together when she received treatments. We laughed a lot, and once in a while grew testy at each other, as good friends sometimes do. We shared stories of our families, our kids, and her grandbabies. How she adored her grandchildren.  After settling into a treatment room, and after a tech had taken vitals and a nurse had visited, my friend would pull out her iPad and we’d watch a new entertaining video of her grandkids. Boy did this make her smile!

At treatments, she and I caught up on TV shows about fashion, and usually we provided our own commentary, verbally ripping apart the garments on the runway and laughing a lot. One time we elected to stay in the clinic an extra ten minutes, after a grueling seven hour treatment day, just so we could see exactly which “whadding dress” (we used to emulate Martin Short’s character, Franck Eggelhoffer, in “Father of the Bride”) the bride-to-be finally chose. We talked about new recipes we cooked up or wanted to try. She brought me up to speed on who is working where and who just moved and who is doing what; it is no surprise that she had more, true, good friends than anyone I have ever known.

We enjoyed the tastiest chocolate chip cookies the hospital bistro served, and in true form, my dainty petite friend savored hers I while I wolfed down mine. We listened to Bill Cosby CDs in the car, and “Noah” and “Ice Cream” and “The Buck Buck Championship of the World” really had us roaring. The nurses and staff looked forward to her appointments and her smile and banter and quick wit. I knew she was well liked; the nurses even hugged me for bringing her.

Recently she had expressed sadness that she couldn’t see some long-time high school friends who were getting together; she had to receive a transfusion that day. She was annoyed. Yet she still acknowledged that while plans for that day weren’t going to gel, she did appreciate that we had become closer friends as a result of all our time in the car and treatment rooms. That was a gift.

And now she has passed and so I grieve. Some days are better than others. That’s normal. Death is a part of life, and what a life! Even on my toughest days I can still smile when I picture my friend laughing, or playing with her grandkids. Her petite frame and giant spirit celebrated life to the fullest. It has been several weeks now since she has passed, and of course, life goes on, although I admit I haven’t felt like participating fully.

But today I woke up wanting to write again. And in so doing, I welcome back a piece of myself that I have sorely missed and truly hoped I would find again soon. In finding this spark, this impulse that I had lost, with the beginnings of a few potential topics starting to swirl in my mind, I hope to bring to my writing the energy, creativity and zest for life my friend brought to her life. I hope to connect with my readers in the way she connected with those in her large circle of family and friends who held her dear. I dedicate this piece to her memory, her spirit, and am grateful for this renewal and connection with my readers again.

Kathy Galgano

February 15, 2014