Thursday, February 21, 2013


I've had a hankering lately for lukshen kugel, the wonderful noodle pudding that Jerry's mother (Bertha, otherwise known as Bert) introduced me to.  Her version was not a sweet pudding but rather was eaten as the carbohydrate part of an evening meal - or a mid-day special occasion meal. 

It took some time before it locked into my brain that this "pudding" didn't have to be sweet, although there are some recipes that do add a whole bunch more sugar than Bert did.  And of course there are lots of things that can be added to it according to one's taste.  She used raisins in hers; I kept the raisins and added a lot of chopped dried apricots, as I think apricots add class, as well as taste, to everything!

Her recipe calls for sour cream; I like using cottage cheese in its place.  But regardless, lukshen kugel is yummy and I share Bert's recipe with you today, just the way she gave it to me.

8 oz wide egg noodle
3 eggs, well beaten

2 T butter
1 T sugar

¼ t cinnamon
½ t salt

½ c raisins
½ C sour cream

1 t lemon extract

Boil noodles for 5 minutes.  Drain.  Combine ingredients.  Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour.
Happy eating!

Monday, February 11, 2013


It is barely light outside and I am barely awake, so this picture isn't one of my better ones.  But actually, it wasn't meant to be.  Its purpose was to show you that a) I'm still up and walking each morning, and b) in this unusually-cold Southern California winter, I pretty much look like I am heading to the Alps, or at least Mt. Baldy, which now is covered with snow down to about the 2000 foot level.

My accoutrements are this: a long sleeved t-shirt, a denim jacket, a recently knit neckscarf, my car coat, a pair of heavy twill pants and some warm gloves.  Those are for keeping me alive in the cold air.  The frou-frous are my version of a fanny pack (the over-the-shoulder purse where I keep my house key, my ID, my cell phone, a few Hall's breezers and a good quantity of Kleenex for eyes and nose that respond to the cold air by dripping!), my iPod with either the Cal Tjader jazz  or The Very Best of Chicago album, either of which have a sufficient beat to warm the cockles of my memory and my feet) and my dog- and man-beating Turkish cane.   I don't anticipate any attacks on a person my age or my visage, but in today's society one can't be too careful.

Now all this is to say that I am having a great time walking.  I've been doing a mile in 20 minutes, and today I extended that mile to almost two; the only time I stopped was to blow my nose!  I try not to stop if I don't have to, but I have made allowances for a few things, all of which I considered short but very necessary stops.  One time it was because a big pebble about the size of a pea somehow jumped into my shoe and worked its way down to my arch, at which point I had to sit down on someone's lawn, take my shoe off and get the darn thing out.  I haven't figured out how that could happen!

I have discovered which tree serves as the Cooper Hawk's jumping off place for breakfast.  I saw him from a distance, sitting in the bare tree surveying possible menus.  I stopped to have a good look at him.  It's not every day that you can see one so clearly; of course I didn't have my field glassees with me, because I was walking and not particularly bird-watching, nor did I have my camera.  But before I could have gotten my camera out of the case, the hawk was set upon by a flock of screaming crows, who demanded that he abandon his perch and get the heck out of their tree.  I had forgotten that crows harass hawks something fierce, and it made me realize that all the terrible crow noise I hear throughout the day is probably them tormenting the hawks.  (I hate both crows and hawks, so I say let them duke it out and disappear!)

On another day, over the din of one of Chicago's more dramatic offerings I heard two crows screaming at each other.  It was a lot of noise for only two crows. I stopped, took the ear buds out of my ears and tried to see what was going on.  I walk on a road that makes a circle inside our complex and it's never very busy.  The sun was just coming over the tops of the hills that end accross the main street from our complex, and the road I was walking on was mottled with dark tree shadows amid some sunshine.  As I was standing there I heard a major ruckus in the tree directly in front of me and saw the crows take flight from an adjacent tree.  Trying to figure out what was going on, out of the corner of my eye I saw the hawk coming at me, seemingly at a level of about 6 feet, and I ducked as he passed over, and then again as his shadow hit the ground right beside me.   Then the crows passed, again at low level and complete with shadows.   To be honest I thought I was a goner.   That hawk in flight was a lot bigger than it looked sitting in the tree, and I could feel the air ruffle as he flew by.   Luckily the whole thing ended as quickly as it started.  It had taken place in  the very few seconds I stopped and removed my ear buds.  Gee whiz, I thought, this walking can be dangerous.  I didn't even think of swinging my cane at them!  :)

At that time of the morning there isn't much activity (other than birds) that is going on, but once in a while I see something that tickles me.  The other day I saw a man and a woman taking three chihuahuas for a walk.  Each dog had a heavy coat on that pretty much covered him or her from stem to stern.  I chuckled inside as I could hear my dad saying "Hey, where's the coat going with the chihuahua?"  Well, each of these little guys fit the bill.  But the funniest part is that they were riding in the bottom of a wire cart with wheels on it that people use to tote boxes or groceries to and from their house.  The owners had lined the cart with a warm blanket, and the chihuahuas never had need for their tiny paws to touch they ground.   This, then, reminded me that when we first moved here there was a lady who daily put her big cat in a pink cat carrier, and then put both into a baby stroller and took the cat for a walk.  I find it very funny what we old folks do with and for our animals.  But I do think that three dogs in a cart is the funniest thing I've seen yet.

Each day on my walk I see my favorite fellow sitting outside his little studio apartment and it makes me smile.  And today I saw a wonderful decoration affixed to a tree.  Of course I didn't have my camera with me but I just had to stop and take a good look at it.  I always wonder why I don't think of finding such things to put around my apartment.  Some people are just SO creative; I'm not one of them.

What I have found in all this walking is that I now anticipate the walk each day.  I no longer have to talk myself into doing it.  It has turned into something I want to do and enjoy doing.  I can hardly believe I hear myself saying that.  Who'd'a thought that I could change that much?  Not me. 

I'm keeping my fingers crossed about my knees.  My problems seem to be that they don't much like lifting my body up from the floor if I need to get down there for some reason, like to see if one of the cat's chenille mice is under the couch. Of all the aging I have done, the knees have been the "iffiest."  But since they have never hurt me I figure I'll just keep on walking and not look for trouble. 

And aside from anything else, walking gives you lots of time to think interesting thoughts.  :)

Friday, February 1, 2013


My friend and I sat across the table from each other last evening and while we downed our ladylike dinners (her a smallish taco salad and me a bowl of soup), we contemplated some of life’s serious questions.  Earlier in the afternoon we had mulled over if we believed that there is a reason for everything? (no), do we believe it is possible to make lemonade out of lemons? (yes), is promiscuous hugging soul-satisfying? (perhaps for the hugger but not for the hugged), and at our age can we still grow and change? (we hope).  During dinner our thoughts lightened up a bit to more practical things, as how long it takes to be at ease in the role of a widow (her) and the distasteful possibility of disrupting my adult children’s lives by asking them for help (me).
I had an hour’s drive home from her house after dinner, and in a strange twist of thought, my brain settled on an article I had read a week earlier in the LA Times about the dung beetle.  The actual thought I had as I drove on a freeway (which had as many car headlights on it as the sky has stars in the Milky Way) is that dung beetles are so busy living that they don’t have time to worry if anything philosophical is waiting to be discussed.  They are busy pushing around a big ball of animal excrement many times the size of their own body so that they can always have a handy food source. 
This article, written by Joseph Serna, wasn’t meant to be funny, but I found it so.  Serna says scientists have found that dung beetles roll the balls of dung to keep it away from preditors who might see it as tonight’s steak dinner.  The point of the story is that the dung beetles use the Milky Way to roll the balls in a straight line; on an overcast night they might just roll it in a circle, which would keep it very handy for some kind of a hungry insect thief. 
Now the scientists set up all kinds of parameters for their tests. To eliminate any side-issues as helping to govern the direction of the dung ball, they built a dung rolling course on a South African game reserve called Stonehenge.  They built meter-high walls so nothing on the ground could be used as a point of reference.  These scientists discovered that on clear nights when the Milky Way was visible, the beetles rolled the ball in a straight line.  When the sky was overcast, they went helter-skelter in every which direction.
Writer Serna gave me a belly-laugh when he reported the following:  The researchers even taped makeshift cardboard visors to the beetle’s heads, blocking their view of the sky to eliminate all doubt.  To no one’s surprise, the beetles wandered aimlessly, showing no sense of direction.   
There were enough experiments to allow the scientists to prove to a statistical certainty their theory that dung beetles use the Milky Way to provide a getaway for their food course.
The freeway traffic thinned out as I got closer to home, and while it was still heavy enough that I really couldn’t look through the windshield and see the Milky Way, I thought of all those dung beetles around the world whose goal in life was to get to a place where his or her dung ball was safe, and it made me think that my friend and I really ought to spend our time thinking of some really important things and not spend quite so much time picking fuzz out of our navels!