Tuesday, March 8, 2016

What is it about hair?

Is it only a girl thing? I don’t think so. Why are we so obsessed with our hair? All of you who grew up with the hair of the moment—shiny, straight, swingy, perfect, wow, were you lucky.
Not me. I grew up in the fifties. Can you imagine what it was like to have curls in the fifties? Brains didn’t trump curls.  We ironed, we pulled, we straightened, we lost sleep, we suffered. And to top it all off, my hair was the color of mud.
When one of my mother’s friends accosted her in the supermarket when I was in high school, indignantly asking her if she saw what her daughter had done to her hair, she responded,” I did it for her.” Life did change a bit after mud changed to yellow, but the curls still won the war every day.
My mother did have her idiosyncrasies—she made me clean her damned ashtrays, but, the good part was that I never did smoke. When Liz, my middle child, was very small, I remember her saying “Nanny, you’re going to die tomorrow.” But my mother encouraged my love of the theater—we skipped school on Wednesday afternoons to sneak into NYC for matinees. Sorry, Miami, you’ll never measure up.
Growing up in our somewhat out of synch house was fun. My father taught us to be color blind. We never knew what color our dinner guests would be. I’m not sure my mother was as accepting as he was, but I sure do wish he were still alive to experience our first black President—finally. If the circle could be completed this year with our first woman in the White House, even my mother would be contented.
But what is it about hair? Life does come full circle. I meet people at meetings and they swear they already know me. No, I try to explain, it’s not me they recognize, it’s the hair. Most of them have seen pictures on Facebook or Twitter or my websites and all they see is the hair.
People ask me over and over what I do to mine. First, believe it or not, I do it all myself. When my husband looks askance at yet another Coach bag or pair of shoes, I try to calculate for him the amount of money I’ve saved by doing my own hair—cutting, coloring, conditioning—for the last 40 years. He still gives me ugly looks, but I feel better.
Stop reading this now if you don’t care about maintaining curly yellow hair.
Wanna hear the recipes for maintaining curly hair? Some of it is thanks to my go to book, Curly Girl by Lorraine Massey. You may not want to believe it, but shampoo should never touch curly hair. We curly girls call it “no poo.” Shampoo is too strong, too harsh. Even baby shampoo is too harsh. You’d probably be better off with shampoo that’s safe for your dog, but, you really don’t need shampoo. I wash my hair with conditioner, any kind that’s safe for colored hair. I use huge handfuls of it, and then I don’t even rinse it out. No my hair doesn’t smell, it’s not dirty, it’s not oily, and, best of all, it’s not frizzy. Every six months or so, if I decide to frost my hair, I have to use shampoo to wash the frosting out, but that’s the only time
Now to the color, and this is my own recipe. Permanent hair color is too strong for curly hair. Semi-permanent does nothing, but demi-permanent is a good compromise. BUT…the demi-permanent calls for 10 volume peroxide, not strong enough to touch my almost totally grey hair. So I use 20 volume peroxide, an off label use, a no no in everyone’s book, but it works. I use it as if it were permanent color, only on the roots, then use gobs of conditioner on the rest of it, cover it with a shower cap, leave it for 45 minutes, and am left with perfectly-colored yellow hair in really good condition.
So there you have it. Advice from Peter Pan. I’ll never look or act my age. I’ll never have grey hair or, perish the thought, I’ll never look like some of my contemporaries who sport beautifully coiffed “blue” hair and would never wear a motorcycle helmet or ride in a convertible with us. I apologize to my Facebook friends for boring you with my recently changing profile pictures, but I’ve been at the scissors again and every time I cut more, the look changes. I might as well use a picture that renders me somewhat recognizable.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

To eat like a child

Caesar salad at ten in the morning? Pizza and ice cream for breakfast on a cruise with Sarah? Key lime shakes at home? Finally figured that one out.  Where would I be without my Vitamix?

We laugh about the day we were taken in by the $400 blender. It was the first day that it appeared in Costco. We concluded that we had reached the age of insanity, or was it maturity, when we actually bought it. And we haven’t been sorry, not for one day.

So there I was at ten this morning. There was a big container of Caesar dressing that I had whipped up in my Vitamix two days ago. It was sitting just above some fresh romaine lettuce, and it was beckoning to me, so I answered its call. Is Caesar salad for breakfast less bad for you than cotton candy?

When the company named the Vitamix, I think they had the word vitamin in mind. They demonstrate all these yucky shakes with vegetables and fruits with the skin and seeds, of course. They add some evil-looking powder and let you taste it. It scares me because I have to read the ingredients on everything I eat, lest there be some migraine-making-monster hidden in the list. So I never try their stuff. I stand there and keep muttering about my key lime shakes. Really healthy stuff: ice, sweetened condensed milk, and key lime juice (I live in Florida, so it’s available at the corner store.).

So what went into the Caesar dressing? Unfortunately, you really do need a Vitamix to make it because it's so powerful that it heats the eggs to kill whatever bacteria might be lurking Otherwise, you have to warm the eggs some other way. 

I start with an egg or two (I’m terrible at giving out recipes—my way is taste it to try it.) Let it whirl until the eggs are warm, just short of cooked. They dump in a can of anchovies with the olive oil, a clove of garlic, the juice of a lemon or two, and drizzle in some olive oil until the dressing looks like mayonnaise. On top of it all goes a hefty amount of Parmesan and some pepper (no salt—anchovies are salty enough). The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for a week or two. Serve it with Romaine lettuce and some croutons. It was a really good breakfast. 

To a real restaurant, like Keen’s Chop House in NYC, where the Caesar salad has been legendary, my method is a sacrilege. They start tableside with a big wooden bowl. They rub it with garlic and add a raw egg, then the lemon and the anchovies and olive oil, mashing like mad with a wooden spoon. In goes the Romaine, that they claim they tear (Romaine is never supposed to go near a knife.) and then the Parmesan. It’s really good, but costs a small fortune. About now my mouth is watering for the mutton chop dinner. If you haven’t been there, you won’t understand.

But back to my Vitamix: If the Caesar dressing looks like mayonnaise, it’s because mayonnaise is made from nothing but eggs, lemon, and oil. Try making your own with really good olive oil: Hellmann’s beware. The same emulsion method works for Hollandaise sauce, but you use less lemon and butter instead of all. The trick is the Vitamix. I never could make it work with the Cuisinart. I guess it just doesn’t spin fast enough.

Oh no, it’s lunch time. May I have some more Caesar salad?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Maybe the world has really changed

Has the world changed? Where have all the thoughtful people gone? Is morality a dirty word? 

My husband gleefully said “I told you so.” His harping back to his small town roots where they used to leave the keys in the car because they knew no one would take it, even for a joyride, has been getting on my nerves for the last 53 years. 

I hate people who live in the past. I want to think about today, about tomorrow. I want to live in the moment. The incidents of last few days have begun to change my mind. 

We spent the weekend at John Pennekamp State Park. On the way down, we stopped to try to fix the hitch that was carrying our motor scooter. The road between Florida City and Key Largo consists of two lanes, one in each direction, except for an occasional passing zone. It was built in the Everglades on the swamp and not very stable, with deep dips. 

I guess we should have done better when we engineered the hitch because we watched the bike fly up about three feet and come down, luckily intact and without tearing the mirror from its mooring. So there we were, fixing the connections in the 90 plus degree sunshine on the side of the road—no one, not a soul stopped to offer assistance.

We made it to Pennekamp and  got the thing back to Florida City on its own wheels—our son came down to visit and rode it back. More engineering and welding are on the agenda for this week before we return to Pennekamp. Either that or I’ll have to, heaven forbid, drive a car down there.  A 40 foot bus is a bit cumbersome when it’s your only mode of transportation in the Keys.

We returned to Florida City sans motor scooter, parked the bus, and found that we had new neighbors. Our half hour ritual of plugging and attaching and connecting yielded no satellite service. I plugged and unplugged and couldn’t zero in on this week’s issue (Last time it was a bad connection, but this error message was different.) 

This morning I realized that someone had run into the tripod and bent the leg, knocking the dish out of position. Nice new neighbors. I’d better stay away from them. You can’t hit the thing so hard that you bend it without knowing it. So no TV until Tuesday afternoon when the Dish repair person can come to fix it.

This morning was for errands. I parked in a wide spot away from everyone. When I came back to my car, my white bumper had been scraped beyond repair by a black something. And that was the bumper that was supposed to have been painted after the last Good Samaritan scraped it. Does it pay? Maybe we should all have cars that are scraped and banged and dented and use them for shopping, while we keep the pristine ones parked for driving around and showing off.

My last stop was Walmart. I was too lazy to calculate the number of items in my basket, so I chose a line with someone with a large order, followed by a young man who had only a can of soda. I was about to tell him that if he wasn’t already in front of me, I would let him go ahead, when his wife appeared with her basket filled to the top.

Years ago, when I let someone ahead of me in Walmart, the very senior citizen behind me grumbled so loudly that I asked him “What are you in such a hurry to do, die?”

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Vacation: a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity (dictionary.com)

We’re headed off to Long Key State Park for 11, count them eleven, days of…nothing, nada, peace, quiet. Where is Long Key State Park? It’s in the Florida Keys at mile marker 67.5. That means it’s about 67 miles from Key West and 40 miles from Key Largo, the first sign of civilization you encounter when you venture south from the mainland.

Florida has much to recommend it: climate, history, architecture, beaches, waterways, theme parks, people from all over the world, and best of all, the state parks. The parks in the Florida Keys are so popular that you must reserve camping spots months in advance. For holiday weekends, I mark my calendar 11 months ahead, according to the rules, and grab the reservations. Planning isn’t my strong point, so this takes discipline.

Long Key is like a trip to nowhere. Since we have a motor home and our only other transportation is a motor scooter with two wheels in front (We call it Screwie because it's so strange looking.), proximity to stuff is problematic at best. It’s 13 miles to the nearest supermarket, 10 miles to the nearest laundromat, and places to eat, not so many and very expensive. 

Cell phone service in the Keys is so spotty that we’re lucky when we can connect to the internet at all. We don’t take our satellite dish, so the only TV we’ll have is what we’ve recorded in advance.
Fortunately, we do have Kindles that we assiduously load on a daily basis, so we’re never at a loss for words.

So what will we do for eleven days? We ask ourselves the day before we leave, but, while we're reluctantly packing up to return to our semi-civilized lives, we ask what exactly did we do or how can we steal an extra day or two?  

Vacation: a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Why do people think they have rights over other people's lives?


Why did this happen to a brilliant high school senior?  (click for link to article)

      What makes me say what I say? This one should be obvious to everyone who knows me and my family. We have been facing gay rights for a very long time and trying to come to grips with all the errors we made as our daughter grew up.

     She was born in 1968, the dark ages when it came to understanding mental health and gay issues. She was the second of three children, born 15 months after her older brother and three years before her younger sister.  When she taught herself to read before entering pre-school and taught herself to count backwards from 100 before that, we didn’t really think anything was amiss.

      Her poor older brother’s intellect sat on the back burner until he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, when one of his friends remarked, “It’s about time he figured out how smart we all knew he was.” That was what it was like to grow up in her house.

     She hid from all of us the eating disorder she struggled with throughout her childhood--that’s how clever she was. It finally came to a head when she was a freshman in college, and one of her high school friends, at his wits end, dropped her at a hospital known for their eating disorder program. The hospital alerted us.

     In and out of treatment programs, in and out of therapeutic centers, and we were stymied. The most intelligent line I heard through all the years came from a friend whose answer, when faced with my question: “Could she be gay?” was “So what if she is.”

     That was so many years ago. I mourn the wasted years but celebrate the good years. It could have been as much her fault as mine: She should have sought the help she needed to open the closet door. But opening that door was her right, her choice, to be done on her terms.

     The principal of the school didn’t have the right to open the door. It wasn’t his closet. It wasn’t his family. It wasn’t his door to open.