Pride Goes Before the Fall

Yesterday didn’t go quite as planned.  It had rained all night but was a pretty morning.  I was feeling really good since I had a new haircut, dressed for the day and for visiting with friends in the afternoon, even put on make-up.  I was proud of having cleaned out the fireplace, changed linens, and was ready to sit and relax.  Then the guilt set in.  Being the child of Jewish and Italian Catholic parents, I get the best of all guilt worlds!  Sydney was looking longingly at her leash and, while I had already decided not to take her for a walk because the leaves were deep and wet and slippery, and very large acorns are all over the place (a bit of foreshadowing here!), I felt quite virtuous as we headed up the stairs for a short walk.

Fall Leaves on Ground --- Image by © Robert Llewellyn/Corbis

Not a quarter through the walk, I was thinking to myself how proud I was to be getting exercise when I really didn’t want to, how much Sydney was enjoying all the good sniffs, and how I looked pretty good having dressed for the day.  In a second, I was on the ground, my head stopping my fall, and sitting in the middle of the street bleeding.  What a mess!  I saw a van coming my way and scooted out of the middle of the road — two lovely young women stopped to help and were just terrific.  Calling my neighbor on my cell, I waited for her to get there — only made it a couple of houses away so I could have walked home I guess.  The white van women stayed until Barbara and Mike arrived and of course I had given them the wrong information about where I was!  As the white van got ready to leave, she apologized for having run over my sunglasses (talk about adding insult to injury!) which was the icing on the cake!

I went home, cleaned up a bit, and decided that it would be best to have a professional (not a Ph.D.) look at my head so Barbara drove me to Milford Urgent Care.  You can only imagine my embarrassment when the receptionist there wrote on the explanation part of the form, “slipped on leaves and acorns and hit her head!”  I felt like an idiot of course and, by this time, Barbara and I were laughing a lot.  A couple of stitches, some glue and a tetanus shot later, I emerged with instructions not to wash my hair, not to do this or that, and (haha!) not to think I could be as agile as a squirrel.  Doctor humor I suppose.

Here I am today with a very large bump on my head, a mess under my hair — thank goodness for the new haircut — and still feeling very foolish.  Many times I have reflected on the vulnerability of people living alone and on the beauty of having neighbors for friends.  Always being the one who helps others, takes responsibility for things, and supposedly is the one in charge, it is difficult to ask for help.  I could have handled it on my own (at least that’s what I keep telling myself) but it sure was nice to have a friend with whom to commiserate and laugh.  So, pride did go before the fall quite literally.  No more walks on slippery roads for me for a while!

Back to Blogging

I cannot believe I haven’t blogged since July. So much has happened (sort of) and there has even been snow up here. The busy summer of visitors was wonderful and more company than I could have hoped for. Rachel and Riley visited a lot which made my life fuller than I imagined possible. Seeing so many people this summer and making a short trip to Tallahassee has given me a lot to think about. My friend, Robin, said this was the first trip south where I referred to my house in Pennsylvania as home. I’ve thought a lot about that comment and attribute it to the fact that I have become comfortable living here close to my children. Since it’s a 40-mile round trip just to go to Home Depot, a couple more miles to get to Brooklyn or the Upper West Side isn’t all that bad.

dinnerpartyThis trip south I spent more time with family than I ever did before so that put a new wrinkle on the visit. I even got down to the Wacissa River which I had never seen before. wacissa

My friends seem to be busier than ever with their own lives and priorities. The semi-annual trip to Thomasville with Kim that always includes Sweet Grass Dairy and beer or wine was so much fun as it always is. meandkimOur dinner at Kool Beanz with Roxanne was terrific. It energizes me to sit with such vibrant women who are passionate about community and education. The consulting work was fun. Meeting and talking to students always reminds me of why I got into the business of education — and it is a business — it is encouraging to know that smart dedicated young people are still going into teaching.

Stopping in Weaverville on the way to Tallahassee and on the way back is always a highlight of the trip. Spending time with Lynda and Brian is like coming home; they keep me grounded and remind me what friendship is all about. Not to mention the excellent shopping! When I moved to Pennsylvania I had this idea that I needed to be more productive or accomplish something new. I’ve done that by staying close to my family and lavishing love and other stuff on my granddaughter. It may just be enough for me at the moment. That and good friends. Next trip I hope to connect with more friends but for now it’s all good. Of course now the task of winterizing the house, placing ice melt and shovels at strategic locations, getting the scrapers out and into the car, and rolling up the hoses (sounds easier than it is!). It is 70 degrees today so I remain optimistic and am enjoying the beautiful fall colors.

One Little Mouse

Over the past several years I have written about living in a mountain community and the services (or lack thereof) up here. I have been loyal to Homer’s Construction who pretty much came with the house. They have renovated the house top to bottom, do the snow plowing in winter, check the house when I’m gone, and pretty much do all the maintenance except yardwork and cleaning! Recently I’ve had a couple of projects and typically they start something and then leave the finishing up for sometime in the future. That’s the current status of my porch railings which need to be painted and screens replaced. Of course I got an invoice for the work but paid half figuring I’ll pay the rest when it’s done. I’m also waiting for them to install a new heating/ac unit that is going to be much more energy efficient than the current baseboard heating. That said, Homer’s is really good at showing up when there is an emergency for which I am extremely grateful. And, over the July 4th weekend, I needed help.

Of course things always seem to go wrong when there are people staying and that is Murphy’s Law to the extreme since I don’t often have people here! A full house July 4th weekend with the whole family here. The outside lights lining the driveway and the stairs all of a sudden stopped working. The circuit breaker kept tripping each time we reset it and tried the light switches. We had lots of theories — critters chewing the wires or a bad breaker or user error. We eliminated number three since there were 5 adults discussing the lights which I had been successfully using for years. That left the first two theories. Naturally I called Homer’s — they deemed it not an emergency so we decided to wait until Monday morning. This was a good decision I thought since I certainly didn’t need to pay overtime for whoever was on call. And, as it turns out and I will explain further, the person on call probably would not have been able to help anyway.

So first thing Monday morning, here comes Kenny with a brand new upgraded circuit breaker. “I’m here to replace your circuit breaker,” he stated. I asked, “How do you know it’s the circuit breaker?” “I don’t,” he said, “Jay told me to do it.” Rachel and I were skeptical but watched as he changed it out, flipped the switch and, as you probaby have already guessed, no lights! So, Kenny walked up the driveway drive and down the stairs inspecting. stairs Next thing I know, truck #2 pulls up with Rick who comes in the house, flips the circuit breaker, turns on the lights, watches as the circuit breaker flips off and no lights. Then Rick walks up the driveway and down the stairs inspecting (not sure what they were inspecting, but I trust that they had some ideas). Then up pulls truck #3 with Jay, who is incredibly capable and knows what he is doing. More walking up the driveway and down the stairs, more flipping switches, circuit breaker, etc., and still no lights. All three of them then started tracing the wires (all of which are exposed by the way) and sometime later Jay appeared at the door. “It’s lucky you didn’t burn the place down,” he stated matter of factly. “Here’s the problem.” wire1

Jay then proceeded to explain that a mouse climbed up the wires from under the deck into a wooden box on the deck (I never did know what the purpose was) and chewed through the insulation and the wire itself. wire2 He plugged up the hole in the underside of the box, spliced the wires together, used some electrical tape, flipped the circuit breaker, and we had lights. (I won’t go into the details about putting the switch back upside down so Kenny had to come back the next day.) I wondered why there wasn’t a fried mouse in the box. He reassured me that it probably went somewhere in the yard to die! He suggested I call the exterminators who are under contract which I did.

So, a week later John, the exterminator and neighborhood gossip, arrived to tell me that it looked like one lone rogue mouse and he picked up a piece of something that was lying on the deck and plugged up another hole. Job done. I haven’t used the lights since but am assuming all is working since this morning I got the bill for $404.57. All because of one small mouse. I have since asked Homer’s to somehow encase the wires and replace the wooden box on the deck since it is rotting anyway (says John) and so have yet another project that will need to be done. The fact that they do not finish projects before starting others is epidemic up here and Homer’s at least is honest, has a great reputation, and I like the guys. I thought it was a bit pricey, but there’s no choice. I may hold payment ransom until the other projects are done, but they don’t seem to worry about that stuff anyway. Wish me luck!

Lunch with the Jericho Women

When I moved north there were lots of unexpected benefits. I mean unexpected. One of those was reconnecting with high school friends and I’ve given this a lot of thought. Unlike some people, I did not keep in touch with anyone from high school once I graduated from college. We were a small high school class — around 100 — in a New York City suburb that was developed in the mid- to late-1950s to accommodate the American dream of children of immigrants. Developments of split level and ranch homes were springing up over farmland providing more room and a lifestyle that our parents worked hard to attain. jerichohomeI can remember going to model homes with my parents as they looked at homes that all looked alike to me but in different locations on Long Island. Having settled on Jericho, I finished junior high school and moved on to the brand new high school. jerichohs

This is part of the history I share with my high school friends, so when we met recently for lunch in New York City, we settled easily into conversation about when we moved to Jericho, housing values now and then, people we were curious about, and our lives now. It occurred to me that I was sitting with seven women who had interesting careers, experiences, and whose lives were like mine and not like mine. thegirls Our small group was animated and a bit loud I think but we had such a lovely time laughing, remembering, and for me, realizing how much we still had in common. That said, some of the women kept in touch over the years (I’ve already admitted on this blog how many yeara so I don’t feel compelled to do so again!) and knew a lot about one another and about others from our class. In that respect I was a bit of an outsider I felt. But…on the other hand, we were so comfortable with one another and the shared memories reminded me of what a strong connection we had. I think it’s because of our shared history and shared parental expectations — it would have been unusual for one of our graduating class to not attend college.

When I try to parse this out, I say to myself that I left Jericho after college, but I didn’t. I moved home for a brief time after getting my first teaching job. Then made the move into the city and lived there until late 1973. So, there is no reason why I didn’t keep in touch when others did. It’s not important now because we have reconnected. Jean and I discussed the benefits and disadvantages of being on our own. Phyllis and I talked about caring for aging parents, collecting, and family. Corinne, our real estate expert, talked about how she puts up a morning update on Facebook EVERY morning among other things. We all had a chance to visit with one another and learn things about lives past and present. I think I smiled all the way home reflecting on the power of a shared history and shared memories. Hopefully we will get together again soon. As more of us retire, maybe our group will grow. I feel so lucky to have rediscovered these amazing women and to count them as my friends.

Cooking for One

At the risk of being maudlin, I remember soon after Adrian died that I said, “I’ll never cook again.” It was totally irrational of course and why that popped into my mind at such a time I cannot tell you except that food and cooking obviously is a big part of my life and routine. As I look back on that thought and, yes, I did say it out loud, it explains a lot. I watch people in the grocery store buying frozen dinners and prepared foods which are just awful for you health-wise. My mother did that after my father died and talked about the different brands of pot pies and other such dinners. At the time I thought, at least she’s eating! For me, eating is not the problem. Not one bit. It’s eating healthy.

It is nothing new that grocery stores package things in larger quantities than what I typically need. That is very frustrating. Of course, you are thinking, why doesn’t she just ask them to break up a package? Not as easy as it sounds and then there’s the thought, “Oh, well, I’ll freeze…,” whatever it is I’ve purchased. Once the food is home and the shopping part is done complete with the very obvious bunch of things that are for one person, the challenge is to provide freshly prepared food that isn’t the same every week. It’s difficult to make interesting food for one. Freeze it, you say. My cousin, Jill, can make something (always delicious!) and eat it during the week ahead. I, on the other hand, do not like leftovers or reheated food. That presents problem #3 with #1 being the shopping and #2 being coming up with meals that are interesting.

If there is anyone out there that is single and trying to be frugal, here are a couple of things that work for me although they do get boring after awhile. First, I bake chicken (same goes for salmon which you can buy individually wrapped like Full Circle) and use it three different ways. chicken Once with steamed or roasted veggies and usually brown rice. Excuse the sidebar here — the brown rice presents yet another problem because my favorite recipe, given to me years ago by Michael, makes a lot so using it in a second or third meal is an option. OK, back to the chicken. Then, cobb salad and finally a noodle bowl. Noodle bowls are a great repository for leftover spinach, broccoli, carrots, meat, fish, almost anything you can think of. Pattis-Noodle-Bowl And…every time I visit Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, I buy soba noodles or udon noodles for this purpose.

While this was not meant to be a tutorial on how to use chicken a million different ways — you already know that — cooking for one person is something I think about a lot. Sometimes I sit down to a beautiful dinner, a glass of wine, and I feel very glad that I went to the trouble. Other times it’s a bit sad to not be sharing it. And, still other times, a glass of wine and cheese and crackers will be good enough for dinner. Or, a frozen pizza (I am learning which ones actually taste of something other than cardboard). Take a look next time you go to the store — not at the prepared food but at ingredients you would use to make a nice dinner — see how they are packaged and imagine how you would cook for one. [Disclaimer: This blog is not directed at my cousin, Jill, who has cooking and healthy eating for one down to a science.] This is meant to provide insight into living alone and trying to stay healthy. If I am being really honest, I’ll admit that I could live on chocolate and pasta! Cobb salad for dinner tonight. Now how can I make half a loaf of bread in my breadmaker?

Victory in Traffic Court

Delaware River Bridge, Matamoras, Pa. and Port Jervis, N. Y. In April, for those of you who have been keeping track, I received a ticket for entering a pedestrian crossing while people were in it. I had just crossed over the bridge from Port Jervis, NY, to Matamaros, PA, having dropped Michael at the Port Jervis train station. 300px-Port_Jervis_train_station I hadn’t gone very far when I was pulled over for driving through a crosswalk that had people entering it. The trooper was quite helpful telling me to fight the ticket, agreeing that a truck had blocked the crossing, and also agreeing that I had been driving very slowly having just exited the bridge over the Delaware. This morning was my hearing to argue the summons — after all, it carried 3 points on my license, would have caused my insurance to increase, and had a $155.00 fine (which I paid as “collateral” in case I didn’t show up for the hearing). The Magisterial District Court is not easy to find since there is no sign on the outside. If you didn’t know that it was a white house with green shutters behind the old jail, you’d never find it. oldjail This is a picture of the old jail since I didn’t take one of the courthouse — there is a new courthouse for bigger things I guess. I parked outside the jail, called, was told where to go (after the receptionist laughed a lot) and walked through the parking lot, not very far. I gather that I’m not the first person to wonder where the court was.

Upon entering the house, there were many signs stating, in all caps, “Absoultely No Cell Phones in This Court. Magisterial District Judge Deborah P. Fischer.” I fixated immediately on the misspelling since there were no fewer than 4 of these signs. That might not sound like many, but it was a VERY small room. There were 10 people there and not enough chairs. It was totally quiet until one woman started asking people why they were there. Most of the people sitting there (once you signed in like at the dentist’s office) were from New York and began talking about the Pennsylvania conspiracy to cite out-of-staters for driving into pedestrian crossings. It turns out that everyone there had been ticketed for the same thing on the same day. dir_map To put this in context, Matamaros is just over the Delaware from New York into Pennsylvania (it has no fewer than seven discount cigarette shops not to mention fireworks stores which are illegal in New York). I live about 20 miles just east of there, 12 miles east of Milford.

The conspiracy theory discussion continued and all I wanted to do was have my name called, go into the little courtroom, and get out. People came and went from the courtroom and finally the officer who ticketed me opened the door and called my name. Judge Fischer was very pleasant, asked me how I was doing today, made a bit of small talk, and then the officer read out the story of my misdeed, recommended it be downgraded to a parking ticket, and told the judge that I had been very nice and cooperative when pulled over. She then said, “OK, no points on your license, no increase in insurance, fee of $50, and you will be refunded the rest of the money you already paid. You’re from Pennsylvania, right?” That was it. We then discussed the risk of crossing the road in Matamaros and Milford, the judge saying she had almost been run down by a school bus recently and the trooper saying he and his wife were nearly run down by the Milford Chief of Police who didn’t stop. I didn’t need to say a word.

Just before I walked out of the room I wanted to mention the misspelling. How did the judge not notice it? Didn’t anyone care? Then I decided to walk out as quickly as I could and be happy that it all turned out in my favor.

Eclectic Shopping

Can shopping be eclectic? I’m not sure this is the correct word but it is difficult to describe the kind of shopping day I had yesterday. I have known Diane since we bought this house in 2008. She has helped me in numerous ways and we often talk about garage sales, old things, new things, and unusual things. Almost weekly Diane has said that we should go to some of her favorite “antique” places and so finally we did on Friday — and then some! Now the word antique is in quotes because it is used very loosely here.

The first stop of the day was at Fields, an antique (read junk) store not too far from Lords Valley on secondary roads that I was not familiar with. Beautiful country and I wondered how people find this place. However, it was clear from the number of people there that this is only a problem for me! I happily purchased a small mahogany chair for Rachel’s new table and we moved on, Diane reminding me that we had a lot of stops to make! I spent my day happily as the passenger, learning about new places in the area and trying to maintain a sense of where I was. Onward!

Our second stop was an architectural salvage place in Scranton. archsal2 Scranton is about 35 miles west of Lords Valley and it was a challenge finding the entrance to the Olde Things salvage warehouse. It is difficult to describe a place of such scale. It is massive and the amount of pieces small, large, and enormous, is difficult to describe. Inside and out floor to ceiling in the huge warehouse there were items old and new taken from homes and public buildings being demolished. archsal1

Prices were commensurate with the story that went with each piece. When I asked the owner about a pair of concrete decorations he said they typically would be about $45, but because they were from the Philadelphia Convention Center built in the 1800s and the provenance was clear, they were $325 each. Hmmmm. I think he saw us as easy targets with deep pockets looking for items with a story. intsalvage

There were walls of pedestal sinks, chairs hanging from the ceiling, light fixtures old and new, gates, clawfoot bathtubs, claw feet alone, bits and pieces that I could only guess at. We left after climbing among the treasures.

After Scranton, we moved on to Dickson City (not far from Scranton) to Wegman’s which is a Whole Foods on steroids. Then to Sam’s for a few things that Diane needed desperately!! The stop for water turned into much much more, but isn’t that always the way with Sam’s or Costco? Then we restarted our antiquing and headed back east to Honesdale which is about 20 miles east of Lord’s Valley. We sure were covering a lot of miles. To the Alpine (a kitschy German restaurant and shop) then to another antique shop. Diane knows all the proprietors on a first name basis so my quest for chairs was an easy one. One more stop at a shop between Honesdale and Hawley. We were now heading back towards Lords Valley and home. The first thing I saw was several chairs. I had never seen anything like them and so of course purchased two for Rachel. I include a photo here because before the spoiler at the end of this paragraph, guess why the chairs have little shelves attached to the back. chairs Chris, the owner, had just purchased an entire church in Honesdale and found 60 of these in the basement. They were used for church services and the shelves on the back were to hold the prayer books for the person behind! What a find.

I think you can see now why I called this an eclectic shopping day. It was all over the place from antiques, to junk, to food for later, to German potato salad. I have not calculated how many miles Diane drove yesterday but it was a lot. Hot, sweaty, and very satisfied with ourselves, we headed home and unloaded. I cannot wait to drive into Brooklyn next week with the three chairs I found. I’m just thankful I didn’t buy more stuff and think I exhibited a great deal of self-control!!

Chipmunk Wars

Tamias striatus Each morning Sydney and I take a walk usually the same route to the corner and back (about a half mile). I know the neighbors in the three houses just beyond mine and so often wave or say good morning sometimes even stopping for a chat. On Friday, I passed my neighbor Warren, a motorcycle enthusiast and nice guy. His wife often sits on their front deck drinking her morning coffee and enjoying her morning cigarette. It’s a funny thing passing people like this — do they want to say hello? Do they want to be interrupted from their routine? Should I wave or will it look like I’m being nosy and watching them from the street? Important questions all. On this morning, however, Warren stopped me to discuss the “chipmunk problem.”

When I said I didn’t know there was a problem, he asked me, “Don’t you have chipmunks?” “Of course,” I answered, “doesn’t everyone?” It must be stated here that I’m certain there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of chipmunks in the woods here. While they are very cute in a Chip ‘n Dale kind of way, they are noisy and are so small that they can get into all sorts of cracks and crevices. Chipmunks make noise that is disproportionate to their size and can wake you from a sound sleep outside the bedroom window. Noisier than the turkeys really. That said, I have no issue with the little rodents. I asked Warren if chipmunks were responsible for the holes in the yard and was happy to solve that little mystery — they are little diggers as well as living under and among the rocks in my yard. Chipmunk_emerging_from_hole Then the conversation took a bit of an odd turn. Warren told me that chipmunks had done a great deal of damage to his house — getting into his den, eating away at the wood around the house, even eating away at his driveway. I wasn’t really alarmed — more interested. Then he told me of his plan to rid his property of chipmunks.

“I’d shoot them if it wasn’t illegal,” he stated. I said I thought that one would have to be a very good shot since they are so tiny and very very fast. “I am a good shot, but I trap them and then drive them to another location a few miles away.” He showed me his trap and told me that amazon has a trap that can hold up to 20 chipmunks!! I tried to picture myself trapping 20 chipmunks and driving them somewhere but decided that wasn’t for me and, besides, I really don’t have a problem (knocking wood here!). The idea of 20 chipmunks making a difference to the population in the woods seems a bit ridiculous to me. And, what prevents more chipmunks from populating the area from which their family and friends have been removed? If those specific chipmunks don’t come back won’t others? The whole thing seemed pretty ridiculous to me but we had a very serious conversation which ended with Warren telling me he was going out of town for a week but when he got back the “battle will begin!” Ah, the joys of country living. I hope I don’t live to eat my words and must admit I did check the screen over the dryer vent and make sure my car doors are always closed (someone told me that they once got into her car and did a lot of damage). Vico 486 warm up non-literal shootI also am more careful about leaving doors open when letting Sydney out since they are particularly enamored with the drainpipes next to the house. So to my southern friends, I say, yes chipmunks are very cute but be careful what you wish for!

Where Did I Put That?

As I age, I worry about forgetting things or exhibiting odd behavior (who could tell?!). One of the things that drives me crazy and is not a function of age is forgetting where I put things that are important. In my defense, I always knew where things were in my Tallahassee home. Here, in the Poconos, I am still trying to figure out the best way to store things, the most convenient places to keep things I use everyday, and the most organized way to keep track of important documents and items. Recently I was looking for two things: a pet first aid kit and a letter with my traffic court appointment. Two totally disparate items, neither of which has been found — yet.

I bought three pet first aid kits after Sydney’s last scary midnight trip to the emergency vet in Newton, NJ, when I got hopelessly lost and, in fact, caught her leash in the car door and fortunately didn’t strangle her. The vets there said I could have dealt with it at home and taken her to my local vet the next day if I had certain items. So I ordered the first aid kits and extra stuff (stypic pencil-like) for the car, the house, and for Rachel’s dog Mason. The other day I decided to look for it and tore the house apart and still no kit. It should have been either in the bathroom closet where the human first aid kit (which is very much like the doggie one) lives OR it could have been with the dog supplies (food, toys, brushes, leashes, etc.) in the front little (and I mean little) closet. I looked absolutely everywhere it could possibly fit and still haven’t found it.

Then, to add insult to injury, yesterday I was taking out all the things I needed to pay bills, go to appointments, other things I cannot even mention, for June. I knew my appointment in traffic court was June 16th but wanted to have the appointment letter handy. When I got the letter at the beginning of May I first filed it in the miscellaneous spot in the file cabinet, then I took it out and put it on the desk, then realized that wasn’t a good place for such a long time and put it in my purse so that “I’d always have it handy.” Of course I realized the risk of that since I change purses every once in awhile, so I put it on the notepad in the tray where I keep a bunch of things like keys, messages, etc. Of course it was there for everyone to see so I figured it should be somewhere “safe” and I was a bit embarrassed for the cleaners to see it so I moved it again. Need I go on? The letter is among the missing.

Looking for the letter led me to clean out the file cabinet, tidy up the shelves in the office, go through magazines upstairs, take drawers out of my dresser and find papers wedged behind them, locate missing camera, and the like. Anyone that was involved in my effort to find the car title when I bought the new car can appreciate that I still have nowhere dedicated to items that I want to keep track of but don’t need frequently. So if anyone has any suggestions as to where to put things so they can be located again, please let me know. It is a puzzle to me how I could lose anything in this house because it is quite small. I just haven’t lived here long enough to stop moving things from place to place (even though it’s been three years). I would appreciate any input my friends and family have for solving this problem that really has not one thing to do with age!!

Chocolate Cake and Other Guilty Pleasures

I belong to two book clubs. One is a virtual book club with friends from all over. We meet via Google Hangout now so we can see one another and have real conversations about the books and other things as well. The second book club is the Tallahassee Book Club which I have belonged to for many years. Every month I skype into the book club meeting and spend a very pleasant several hours with a wonderful group of women. Now there are many great things about being a part of the group even though I’m more than a thousand miles away but the downside is watching the members eat the wonderful food that everyone brings. The wine I can duplicate but not the food. Last month’s meeting featured three desserts — two cakes and some cookies. There was much oohing and aahing over the cakes and my sweet tooth was aching for a piece. Not to be, however, until earlier this week when I finally had to give in and satisfy the cake craving.

Using the excuse that I needed more fruits and veggies, I went to the store and bought a chocolate cake. I then proceeded to eat the entire cake by myself over two days. In my defense, it was a small cake, but even so I was embarrassed. How can a person be embarrassed when there is no one else to see or know. I didn’t tell anyone. Sydney was my only witness to the gluttony. Then I got to thinking. What have I got to feel guilty about? Why do we think of this as a guilty pleasure rather than just a pleasure. It’s not like it’s something I’d do more than once a year or so. I should have gone all the way and just put the whole cake on a plate and had at it with a fork. I did, however, cut it into serving sizes. When I decided to blog and go public with this guilty pleasure, I realized that there are lots of things I wouldn’t necessarily share with others — eating crackers and butter and lots of them, buying a bag of potato chips and eating the whole thing by myself, sitting and watching old British mysteries for an entire day and night, buying a bag of jelly beans on my way home from Brooklyn and eating them on the car ride. Why should I feel guilty about this? Because it’s incredibly unhealthy of course but even so…why is it that it is so difficult to allow ourselves these little things?

I have always blamed the guilt on my upbringing of course — don’t we all?! And, why do we always look for someone or something to blame for our own behavior? (And, by the way, I totally blame my Tallahassee book club for my bad behavior!) You can tell I’ve been analyzing this behavior and in making this declaration I hereby resolve myself of guilt and, as long as I don’t engage in this behavior too often, I am allowing me to have cake every now and then — the whole cake!! Now, I think later I’ll get a pint of ice cream, sit down in front of the tv with it and a spoon, and enjoy every delicious bite.