Category Archives: family

My heart is a potato

A belligerent refusal to stand down, even when others’ well-being was at stake. She couldn’t be wrong. Everyone else was wrong —wrong! — including the experts.

Sound like my sister?

Yes, yes it does, but I’m describing Typhoid Mary aka Mary Mallon. People died because Mary Mallon couldn’t be wrong. Such a tale of misdeeds, makes me think belligerent homicide should be a thing.

I’ll be goddamned, I thought reading about her for the first time years back. We must be related.

I might be thinking about family — about our particular pathologies, the Irish quirks of mind — because of this potato. I’m not kidding.

My heart is a potato

It’s a little silly, maybe even hilarious — my heart is a potato — but it also strikes me as some of the truest words I’ve ever written.

Potato leek soup and Irish soda bread on a plate that was my mother’s

As I fling myself about in search of a new writing topic, it’s clear that this time I’d like to draw from my own history.

I know so little. I said to my cousin Ginny recently that everything I know about the Mallons could fit into two paragraphs. I’ve heard a bit more about my mother’s side, but because of one particularly unreliable aunt (talk about personality disorders!), I don’t know how much is even true.

Not that it matters for writing fiction.

My mother, on the right, was the middle of three girls.

Glorious sun and pansies

Life goal met — there are pansies on the property! Last year we waited too long and there were none to be had. My mother loved pansies too.

For Easter, we used to hide treasure-filled plastic eggs in the yard, pack baskets with glorious chocolates and jelly beans, and serve up a special dinner for extended family. One year I made a batch of chow-chow to dress the asparagus. Another year I made carrots out of marzipan for the top of the carrot cake.

This year, I am making a carrot cake. That’s it. No marzipan. No company.

The space created by a less-populated social calendar continues to feel more blessing than not. I like my friends, I like my relatives, and still this is true.

On a related note, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about K’s absence as he trudged back to the office and I’m still not sure, but this morning the quiet is glorious.

Have I really used the word glorious twice in one post? What besides chocolate and silence can be glorious?

Soft scarves, dry socks, insight, a welcome email, a piece of writing, a hot bath.

Also: Indictments. Perp walks. Lost law licenses. Exclusion from holding public office. Tarnished reputations. Huge fines. Ankle bracelets. Media bans and gag orders. Jail time.

Kushner is in the news again. If the beltway press wasn’t so hopelessly tied to GOP talking points, the Kushner news would be loud and pervasive. And of course, had a Democrat’s son-in-law done anything remotely this corrupt or dangerous to national security, the coverage on Fox would be nonstop with belligerent threats of hearings should leadership in the House change.

The building could have a 666 on it but I suppose that would be overkill.

So as not to end on such a vile note, the photo from Assisi (below) showcases an Easter bread, blessed by a priest two days earlier and served in an olive grove.

Indecision about travel

Trying to decide whether to move or cancel a family trip to the Rockies. It’s scheduled for mid- to late-January and is meant to be our Christmas gathering with the boys. The Airbnb has a strict cancellation policy.

I’m having all kinds of feelings about this, mostly aggravated worry sliding into outrage. As my husband likes to point out, I go from zero to ten rather quickly. (At least he pointed out that I laugh easily too).

But here’s the thing: when members of a family have different tolerances for risk, whose gets to govern?

And, if we cancelled because a million cases are predicted for next week and oh, by the way, our airline keeps canceling hundreds of flights due to sick personnel, why should we be penalized? This is Act of God-level interference.

Frankly, if no money was involved, I’d have made a unilateral decision two days ago and cancelled.

Nicolle Wallace on Deadline Whitehouse yesterday: I just assume I’m gonna get it. Everyone I know has it. She doesn’t usually indulge in that level of hyperbole, but there you have it.

As I said to Airbnb hostess, I don’t care about getting a breakthrough case. It’s long Covid I worry about, for all of us. Can you imagine, for instance, living out your days without a sense of taste?

At least I took the ornaments off the tree. It’ll be on the curb by mid afternoon.

I’m off to make mushroom soup for lunch. A friend is coming over and we’re going to watch Being the Ricardos.

Early Christmas gifts

After traveling to Los Angeles to see my brother and returning home yesterday, I have a number of early Christmas gifts to share. In no particular order.

One early gift was a negative Covid test today. I know, I know — perhaps not reliable and maybe I should test again tomorrow, but I’ll take that single pink stripe! Second gift was that our local drug stores’ shelves were well-stocked with the kits.

Another early gift was being bumped up to first class yesterday. Wahoo! A window seat no less. We’re talking Belgian waffles. We’re talking elbow room. I watched a movie and I watched the clouds.

With dismay, we’re watching my husband’s frequent flier miles diminish. For years we floated a balance of about a million miles (I kid you not). But naturally with COVID he hasn’t traveled in roughly two years. It looks like he’ll retire before there’s time to accrue more benefits.

Boo-hoo me, I guess, having to pay for airline tickets like the rest of the world. It’s not just the miles though. As a Global Premium customer you get speedy, white-glove check in (a glass-enclosed cubby at LAX, a dedicated lane at Logan, a private room in Denver). No waiting ever. And then because I don’t have TSA pre-check, one of the clerks walks me over to security and cuts to the top of the line. Again, I kid you not.

After security, one can enjoy the premium lounge which is less crowded than the general areas and also offers free food and coffee. This benefit was especially a gift this week since my brother watches a lot of CNN and all the coverage about omicron induced a mild panic about traveling. JEE-sus!

More early gifts: I got to watch my brother walk! He’s really working hard to become mobile again and it’s within reach. Also, twice he cracked such hilarious jokes I nearly wet myself. No, I will not share.

Got to see my older son and he seems so good. Without prompting, he offered to drive me to the airport at 5:30 in the morning. What a sweetheart!

Coming home is always a gift but yesterday it was amplified and I’m not sure why since the pall cast over Christmas by Covid is worse than last year.

I think I was moved by the comfort of the familiar. I struggled with my brother’s things — the can opener with a weird switch, the non-compliant bathtub drain, overheating hand-beaters, the lack of a secure stool in a tall person’s kitchen, FOUR TV remotes, none of which make sense to me. You get the idea.

K and I snuggled on the couch with Finn, clicked on a fire, ate Indian take out, and watched the finale of Shetland. It doesn’t get much better than that if you ask me.

3.9 quake and rain

I was lying in bed in Echo Park when it came. A rumble and a jiggle jiggle. Not very dramatic and I wasn’t sure, so I got on Twitter and sure enough, lots of Angelinos were reporting the same. A 3.9 earthquake. Or as some locals put it, an alarm clock.

It’s our last day here and grey. I’m childishly wishing we could teleport back. You know — close our eyes, nod, and whoosh! It’s another early flight, but at least it’s direct.

These might be the same birds that Nancy photographed recently? (Just kidding)

I’m not glad that the Dodgers lost last night, but since we’re staying pretty close to the stadium, it made our evening trip back to Echo Park simpler. Even though the game was in Atlanta, the revelry might’ve spilled out into Sunset Boulevard.

C. came for dinner and the game last night. It was so nice and also bittersweet knowing we won’t see him again until January. But we have plans for January, as of a half hour ago!

My brother’s condition is much, much improved. Confined to a chair for the most part, but interested in company, in food, in sports, and so much more. There was a long stretch where that was not the case.

His East Los Angeles home is situated on Mount Washington and feels like a sanctuary. So, so lovely and quiet! I can think of worse places to be stuck, I said. He agreed.

P.S. It’s not lost on me that my suburban neighborhood is noisier. Living where I do is to be assaulted by relentless, invasive, nerve-grinding noise on very nearly a daily basis. It’s so much quieter here! In Los Angeles.

I’ll end with a little eye candy.

Love this