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Vintage Dad

My mom did 95% of the cooking in our house. The other 5% of hash slinging came in the form of Saturday breakfasts, courtesy of my dad. I’m not sure when this weekend ritual began or why. Perhaps dad was trying to give mom a break one Saturday morning and his culinary creation was so well-received by his hungry brood that he continued the tradition. All I know is that during the majority of my childhood, I woke up on Saturday morning to the smell of something cookin’ in the kitchen.

Ah, the smells. They were very telling as to what Pop was preparing. He had a few specialties that upon your first waking, you could detect from their aroma alone .

My favorite Saturday morning breakfast was palacinky, otherwise known to the Bucek kids as “Nana’s pancakes.” They were simple and oh-so delicious; a crepe rolled up tightly with a filling of cinnamon & sugar, or a thin smear of jelly. Both were phenomenal. We could eat 5 each, and Pop was cooking for himself and four kids – that’s a lot of crepe rolling.

myVmpFBH0uIyoIkujSIfzfwIt wasn’t just the eating that made Nana’s pancakes a treat. Pop would go through a lot of cinnamon & sugar making these puppies, and he usually had to make a new batch and refill the shaker. Ah, that shaker…pale yellow and shaped like an army bugler, it sat on the window sill next to the stove for most of my childhood. I don’t know why it was there as opposed to the the cabinet where the other spices were kept – we only used it once a week. Yet, there it sat.

Once Pop had mixed up the cinnamon & sugar, he’d begin the science experiment. I’d watch as he dribbled a few drops of water into the cinnamon coated bowl, then roll it around. I’d watch the droplets of water become cinnamon coated balls. Another one of Pop’s palacinky tricks was what he did with the dregs of the batter. He’d drizzle it into the hot pan, creating a series of dots, splats and other rorschach type shapes. Despite the fact that I had just consumed a fair quantity of pancakes, I could not resist these organic, one-of-a-kind treats.

slanina-taraneasca-afumataAnother Saturday morning favorite was Slanina – a form of Slovak bacon that my dad would get from a Czech butcher in Astoria, NY. It was smoked, thus fully cooked, and rarely saw the heat of a frying pan in our house. We ate it cold, cut  into slices and slapped on a piece of rye bread with salt & paprika. Between the four of us, plus dad, we could destroy a slab of slanina, not to mention the loaf of rye bread.

I remember once when my friend Leslie slept over, we awoke to a slanina breakfast. I was eager to share this delicacy with her, but after presenting her with a perfectly sliced and seasoned slab o’ slanina on Jersey rye, she wrinkled her nose and said, “EW!”

“Ew?” Waddaya mean, “Ew?”

“It’s all fat!” she said.

Yes, there was a fair amount of fat…it’s bacon! She could not be persuaded to take even the tiniest bite, opting for a bowl of Quisp instead. I sat right in front of her, eating my slanina and spitefully licking my fingers.

Every now and then Pop would decided to fry the slanina – I don’t remember liking it this way, perhaps because of the smell. While cooking, the slanina smelled like B.O. Strong B.O. Have you ever passed someone on the street and caught a whiff of their sour, acrid body odor? You were thankful for every step that put distance between you and the offender. Now imagine that smell ten fold, but you had no escape. Those mornings I kept as far away from the kitchen as possible.

Another one of Pop’s breakfast staples that I was not a fan of was liver and onions. Pop would take a batch of minced chicken livers and slowly saute them in a huge pan with thinly sliced onions and what seemed like a pound of butter. When the onions were soft and caramelized, he’d plop the pan on the kitchen table along with a bag of rye bread (is that all we ate???) and my siblings would descend like vultures.

They didn’t even use plates. They would just grab a lice of bread and drag it through the pan, sopping up butter, onions and little bits of liver. It was the only kid that didn’t like this particular dish. I tried to like it…I really did. Oh well, it just left more for the vultures.

gridI’m sure Pop cooked simpler fare…things like french toast or eggs. All of our Saturday morning breakfasts weren’t so ethnic. But those are the ones I remember the most. No matter what wound up in the kitchen table, I knew that I’d come down on a Saturday morning to find dad, usually clad in a white under shirt and his frayed jean shorts, slinging hash on our very cool, ancient stove.

And I’ve continued the tradition. I try to make Saturday breakfast something more than just a bagel or a bowl of cereal. My kids love their palacinky as much as I did as a kid, and so does there dad. But I can tell you one thing. There will be no liver and onions.



I have been rather negligent in filling you in, dear reader, on the stories and everyday occurrences of my life via this blog. And I apologize for that.

But, I have been extraordinarily busy over the past few months. It seems like all I do is work, and be a mom these days. It takes up every minute of my day. By the time I get home from work at 6:30 I throw together some dinner and pretty much collapse in bed to watch TV until I fall asleep at 8:15.

Even if I had the energy, it would be hard to blog in the evening. My 12 year old daughter has discovered Minecraft and the computer is rarely free once she’s out of school and homework is done. Besides, after a 9 hour day at the computer, it’s sort of the last place I want to be.

It’s odd, because the real estate market is supposed to slack off in the fall, and become all but dead in the winter. I hear my agents talking about what a miserable fall it’s been. You’d never know it from my end. I am slammed with work from the second I wake up my computer until it’s time to lock up the office at 6. Many times I don’t even take a lunch – there’s just too many deadlines to meet. I eat at my desk and forgo my afternoon walk.


Weekends aren’t much of an option either these days. I have two freelance clients and my Saturdays and Sundays belong to them, along with laundry and cleaning and yard work and a daughter who needs to go shopping for shoes, or a Halloween costume.

Plus the weekend is the only time I get to attempt to cook something decent – something that takes time, and love. And then there’s wine. I don’t type well after a glass or two. And the couch is so much more inviting than the desk chair by then.

And you’d think after putting in all these hours I’d be rolling in the dough. Nope. Still as broke as ever. I’m one of those middle class folk who work just to pay the bills and keep my head above water. But we have little debt – and that’s something to be thankful for. But the extras? Forget it.

It should all slow down soon though. I’ll still be putting in the same amount of hours, but I won’t be in such a mad rush to get through the growing “to-do” list on my desk for 8 hours straight. I’ll be able to take a long afternoon walk instead of just a stroll around the block to clear my head. I’ll be less frantic, and way less stressed.

And perhaps I can slip in a blog or two…


Today is my mom’s birthday. She’s not with us anymore – this marks the 20th year I’ve lived on this earth without her, but I always remember her birthday. Well, not always as this repost will reveal. Yeah, I pretty much put this out there once a year to remember my mom and to remind myself of the one time I forgot…

My mom was great. Always willing to hug you and give you a big dose of mommy lovin’ even when you weren’t exactly in the mood for it. She kept us fed with kick-ass food, and I only wish I had half of her recipes, especially her spaghetti sauce.

Although she wasn’t big on letting us climb trees or go exploring where good little girls ought not to be venturing (that’s what dad was for), she was always ready to take us shopping for new school clothes or those jeans you just had to have even though dad griped that there was no money for them.

She made lots of stuff too. Not only did she sew a ton of our clothes when we were kids (another skill I wish I had picked up from her), she did all sorts of crafty things like embroidery and crocheting. If she could make it rather than buy it, she did. I have a little of that in me. Thank God for the internet or I’d never know how to crochet. But I gave up on embroidery when I stitched my Holly Hobby sampler to my pants leg. Twice.

I remember one birthday of my mother’s specifically. It was when I was around 22. I was out of college, living at home, and totally involved with my job, my friends, and my boyfriend. Her birthday came and went without a word from me. The following morning, I said, “oh, by the way happy birthday!” and went to hug her, and she shrugged me off, clearly upset that I had pretty much blown it off.

Talk about feeling bummed out. And ashamed. My mom was the type who could put you on a serious shit-list and boy oh, boy did you feel it. After work that day I went out and bought her a gift. I took my time and chose a fancy black sweater/sweatshirt thing with a funky geometric pattern on it.

Hey don’t judge too harshly… it was the 80s after all.

I presented it to her that evening with my sincerest apologies. She opened it, threw it aside and exclaimed, “I have nothing that goes with that.”

I was a little crushed, but I had a feeling she was still trying to punish me for being such a douchey daughter. It was a month or so later that she wore it to go spend a night out with friends. 2 weeks later she wore it again. And again. And again.

Turns out she loved it – just like she loved me. She just didn’t want to admit it because I’d really hurt her feelings. I never broker her chops about claiming she didn’t like it either, but I felt a real sense of pride and satisfaction every time she wore it.

I really miss her. I dream about her every once in a while, and it’s nice to see her again. And as I revisit her on her birthday I hope she’s watching me – and I bet she’s wearing that bad 80’s sweater.


Charlottesville is in hot water again. This beautiful town that I work in is included in just about every top-ten list imaginable; Happiest town, best college town, most exciting place in Virginia. However, it’s also become notorious for one other thing…missing women.

I’m sure most of you have heard about our newest missing co-ed, Hannah Graham. Notice how I used the word “newest.” When the story broke the first thing I thought was “Oh God, not again.” ‘Cause my area has a real panache for women coming up missing.

Hannah Graham, Morgan Harrington, Dashad Smith, Alexis Taylor, and Samantha Clarke – all young women who have disappeared from our area in the past 5 years or so. Janet Field and Bonnie Santiago – two middle aged women who have also vanished, but because they are older don’t get grouped in with the other girls. But I’m grouping them in – you know why?

Because out of all the missing women only one body has been found – Morgan Harrington’s. Something rather screwed up is going on around here.

They have a suspect now, and it’s beginning to look like he might have a lot to do with the slew of missing women in our area. DNA evidence could possibly link him to several other crimes, including the death of Morgan Harrington. We shall see what transpires over the next few months as Charlottesville is once again in the midst of a media frenzy.

A few years back UVA senior Yeardley Love was killed by her one-time boyfriend George Huguely, and the trial that followed created a gridlock of news vans and reporters camped out on the street across from the courthouse (and a block from my office) for weeks on end.

mediaI have a feeling this one is going to be much, much worse. While taking my lunchtime walks last week I would see throngs of vans with their satellite dishes lining the streets leading up to the Downtown Mall, the last place Hannah was seen alive. The photo here taken on my walk only shows a small portion of the vans lining one street. There were four or five on this block alone. There were at least 5 more by the police station.

And that’s not counting the reporters. They were camped all up and down the Mall, filming stock footage or doing live broadcasts. Stations from DC and Baltimore – not just our local guys.

And poor Hannah hasn’t even been found. I am sick to my stomach over the thought of what this poor girl might have gone through, and what her parents are going through. It took three months for Morgan Harrington to be found in the corner of a remote field; the property owner was checking his fences for needed repairs when he found her.

I’m sick about it and I’m mad too. I’m beginning to lose faith in humanity. Why are there so many predators out there? How is it that so many mentally unbalanced people can live among us and we are absolutely clueless – until the next girl or child comes up missing, or raped, or beaten. And why is it mostly men?

Sorry if I offend any of my dude readers out there, but answer me…why is it almost always men??? My husband is always telling our two girls that boys are bad – I’m inclined to start believing him. Because out of all the news stories I see involving violent crime, I’d wager that 90% of the culprits are men. Why? Too much testosterone? Mental health issues? Not enough love from mom? Who knows.

Pessimistic as it may sound, I know they won’t find Hannah alive. Every day it rains, or it’s hot, or cold I think, “that poor girl’s body, out in this.” There are some that speculate the only hope of finding Hannah alive is if she were sold into the human trafficking industry. What a crappy alternative to have to hope for.

 The suspect in the case is due in court Thursday, but via satellite hook-up. That should keep the media from making too big a scene outside the courthouse. But in the weeks to come, if the case goes to trial here in Charlottesville, it’s going to be a madhouse out there.

car crash

Yesterday I debated exactly when to leave the house to pick up my daughter from school. I wanted to watch the end of Project Runway to see who got eliminated – I could have saved it until I got back home, but decided to fast forward through all the boring judges comments and watch it before I left.

Then the cat gave me a hard time as I was going out the door – did he want to go out or didn’t he? I sat waiting for him to saunter out the door I was holding open only to have him sit right in front of the threshold.

Ugh! Cats! I told him tough luck and closed the door behind me. Little did I know what these little and seemingly insignificant delays would do to the rest of my day.

The road I take to the school is mostly rural. There are a few intersections and a roundabout, but it’s mostly quiet. The busiest spot is when I pass the Food Lion shopping complex. Folks are always turning in and out and I’ve seen my share of accidents there so I am usually a bit cautious and watchful while in that area.

Yesterday, as I was approaching the entrance to the shopping complex, I saw a gold car waiting to turn onto the road I was traveling on. I was then surprised to see it pull out in front of me – I was a bit too close for comfort and was doubly annoyed after a quick glance in my rear-view…not a soul behind me.

That irks me to no end – when someone feels the need to pull out in front of you – making it a necessity for you to apply your brakes – when there is nobody behind you. I thought to myself, “why couldn’t this person wait until I went past?”

As I am applying my brakes I then see this person put on his right turn blinker and go to turn into a driveway that is a mere 20 feet past the shopping center intersection. So rather than cutting in front of me and gunning the engine to minimize the effects of his poor driving judgement, he is coming to almost a complete stop in order to turn into a driveway.

I am thinking “wtf” and braking hard, and begin to steer my car a little to the right to avoid rear ending him when he puts on his left turn signal and proceeds to make a U-turn right in front of me.

This is where things go slow-mo. I know I’m gritting my teeth and bracing hard on the wheel and pushing the brakes with all my might and I can see his car getting closer, and closer, and closer and I know I’m not going to be able to stop in time. And…


Not BAM!!!!!!! Just BAM. By this point, with all the braking I had to do, I was probably only going 20 miles an hour when we hit. Maybe less. But we hit. I could see the side of his car was smashed in and was cringing at the thought of the damage to the Sloviemobile.

We pulled over, and I got out to look and was amazed to see nothing more than a scraped bumper on my car. No dents, so cracks, just missing paint and some scratches on the corner of the bumper. I figure my car’s been to the prom in a torn dress for a few years now…one more scratch won’t kill her.

The driver was a young boy – 19 or so – and we were both shaken but thankfully nobody was hurt. We exchanged information…it’s amazing how difficult it is to write legibly when your hands are shaking. We were polite and friendly – no yelling or blaming, although I did ask him why he felt the need to pull out in front of me. We didn’t call the police, only because I had to get to the school to get my daughter, but I called them once I got home just to make an official report.

Then there was the call to the insurance. I told my side, and he told his, which was different from mine – and that worried me. But the insurance guy on the phone told me that he’s been doing this for a long, long time and that the impact evidence on both of our cars corroborates my story and not his. He told me to rest easy and not to let this bother me all weekend.

But it does. My last car accident was when I was in my twenties, and this kid admitted to me that this was his first one. My only consolation is that my car won’t need any repairs, but I felt so bad for this kid who had to go home and show his parents a banged up car – and that the accident was his fault (regardless of what he told the insurance company).

But you know what? I won’t rest easy until my insurance company tells me that I am officially not at fault.

I also thought about the randomness of this event. There was nobody else around when the accident happened. Had I left my house 30 seconds before or after, had I waited to watch the end of Project Runway, or had my cat walked out the door rather than deciding to sit down and be difficult, I may have avoided this entire incident.

I think about that a lot, especially when I hear news reports of a tree falling on a passing car or a bridge collapse. There’s something to be said about timing. And yesterday? Mine was all bad.



This past week my middle school girl was in quite a pickle. An incident occured at the end of the day on Monday which left her convinced that she was going to be the laughing stock of the 7th grade. She was in tears on the way home in the car, and was miserable all night long. I was miserable right along side her.

I can remember times growing up when I did not want to go to school because I knew I’d be ridiculed. Like when I had horribly chapped lips in the 4th grade, or when I accidentaly cut my bangs ridiculously short in 10th grade. Those were days where you just kept your head down and prayed for the minutes to tick by swiftly.

My girl has some problem with bullies, and it wasn’t making facing the next school day any easier. She was sure they were going to pick on her and felt helpless and defenseless. I have to admit, I cried for her a few times that night. I woke up at 1 am and could not get back to sleep imagining the day she had ahead of her.

And that’s when I decided to arm her in order to disarm the bullies.

Who remembers the episode of the Brady Bunch with Buddy Hinton? He was picking on Cindy’s lisp and Peter stood up for her. In the end they wound up fighting it out under the advice and training of Mr. Brady. These days Mr. Brady’s advice would put my little girl in suspension, or worse, expulsion.

I had always told my girl that when a bully says something to put her down, you have to zing them right back with some clever little quip. Problem is, like George Constanza and the jerk store, she can never come up with a good comeback when the time strikes. And I knew I had a mission.

I got up early the next morning and did some research online. Seems there are entire websites devoted to snappy comebacks to bully taunts. And the consensus on many of the advice columns on how to deal with bullies suggests that zinging them back works. I had a renewed hope and enthusiastically began jotting down some of the better ones.

My favorite was “how many times do I have to flush before you go away.”

Why didn’t I know that one in high school? There were quite a few girls I would have loved to use that one on. Another good one was “If I throw a stick will you leave?” or “how many times did your parents drop you?”

But these were all a bit too much for my girl to memorize in the hour we had to get ready for school. She begged to stay home, but I knew she had to go to school – to face the music – get right back on the horse. I also pointed out to her that she might hear absolutely nothing. Sometimes when folks know you’re really bummed about something they lay off. The rest of the morning was one big pep talk for her.

I told her not to cry – not to give anyone that said something nasty to her that satisfaction. I told her not to back down, to look the antagonist in the eye and calmy say something back. If she couldn’t remember any of the zingers, just saying something like “aren’t you just so clever” or “did it take you all night to come up with that one?” would put them off their game.

On the drive to school I could see she was close to tears the whole time, and I knew I had to get her out of that mind set. So I looked at her and said, “You know what you need to do today? You need to have an ‘F-You’ day. You need to walk into that school with your head up and think ‘F-You’ to every person who passes you by. Don’t let anyone mess with you. You’re too good to be messed with, but if they do? You strap on that ‘F-You’ attitude and tell them where to go and how to get there.

I was so proud of her when she got out of the car and headed into the school building – she was being brave, facing the unknown. But I felt like we prepared her the best we could. She also knew that if things got bad, really bad, she could call us mom or dad would pick her up…and schedule a meeting with the principal.

I spent a very tense day at my desk with my cell phone by my side. At noon I took it as a good sign that I hadn’t heard from her. By 1:30 I knew we were over the hump. And when she called me after she got off the bus she said that nobody had said much of anything to her. Some girls sniggered in homeroom, but didn’t say anything to her directly.

What a relief.

But just because she didn’t need to use any of our advice that day, I don’t want her to forget them. There are a few kids in her grade that take pleasure in saying nasty things to her, and I want her to know she doesn’t have to take it lying down. I may have felt the need to arm her in the face of an onslaught, but those tools will work just as well in a smaller skirmish somewhere down the road.

She needs to remember to zing back, and maybe every now and then, to have an “F-You” kind of day.


I keep running into trouble at King’s Dominion.

We went back this past week because my daughter’s boyfriend was visiting. After our picnic lunch at one of the parking lot pavilions, we were walking back to the park entrance when I spotted a rather choice parking space. Always looking for a parking spot upgrade, I had the kids wait in the spot until I could get my car – a mere 3 aisles over – to the open space.

As I turned into the aisle, there was a red Kia angled into the spot. I rolled down my window and shouted to the kids, “tell him I’m here!”  They just shook their heads and shrugged. So I put the car in park, walked over to his window and said, “So sorry, I’m here – the kids were holding the spot for me.”

The man behind the wheel lowered his window and said, “You can’t hold a spot.”

wpid-wap-real-housewives-of-atlanta-season-6-phaedra-i-might-have-to-kill-himHis wife, who looked just like Phaedra from Real Housewives of Atlanta, leaned over and chimed in, “Yeah, you can’t save a parking spot!”

I started to debate with them, saying something along the lines of, “come on, they’re holding it, what’s the big deal?” when I noticed another spot open up one row over. I said, “look, there’s another spot right there!”

He looks at me through half-lowered eye lids and says, “I don’t want that spot. I want this spot.”

I was looking into the face of a gutless bully – a man who was willing to angle his running car into that parking spot with the sole purpose of intimidating my kids.

For a parking spot.

And you know what? I lost it.

I began yelling LOULDY. I can’t remember it word for word – I called him a bully, and an asshole and I dropped an f-bomb.

Or two.

His wife? She went nuts. She went Hardcore Pawn apeshit on me. She was saying “Oh, no, you did not just cuss me out. Oh no you didn’t.” and she began unbuckling her seatbelt.

Ruh roh. As previous blog posts have shown, Slovie is not a fighter. Then I heard a kid say “Mom, DON’T!” Double Ruh roh – I had no idea there was a kid in the back seat – a teen, but still he shouldn’t have to listen to me swear like a sailor in the middle of a parking lot.

Not one of my best moments.

I quickly apologized, saying I didn’t realize they had a child in the car, but I was still really mad and not willing to totally back down. I knew there was no hope of getting the spot – we were at a stalemate. The driver said he had a full tank of gas and would sit there all day if he had to. His wife and son got out and walked towards the park.

I got in my car and thought I may as well find another spot – I wasn’t going to make my kids stand in a hot parking lot just to prove a point, but to the kids’ credit, they wanted to continue to block his entry until I found a new spot. They were as pissed at these people as I was.

I quickly found a spot that was also very close and returned to pick up my kids. The red Kia was in the parking spot, and the kids were sitting on the wall by the park entrance. Two security guards were waiting for me, and told me the rule was “no holding spots.”

Thank you Barney Fife. Then the guard shadowed us the entire way into the park. I have a feeling the Kia asshole was scared I was going to key his car or slash his tires and asked the guard to keep an eye on us. And as I thought about the event over the course of the day, it dawned on me why I got so angry.

Had I been driving in a parking lot looking for a spot, thought I found one, and saw people standing in it – holding the spot – I would have driven on by. I might have said “rats” or “crap” but I never, ever would entertain the idea of pulling my car in and making them move.

Why? Because that’s mean. It’s a douchebag maneuver. It’s a move that says “I deserve to get what I want regardless of the feelings of others.”

Think of all the things we do in our lives that may not strictly “follow the rules” but are still tolerated. Things like having 15 items in the 12 items or less line. Or draping your coat over a few seats at the movie theater until your family, who is in the popcorn line, shows up.

Hell, that very afternoon at King’s Dominion while waiting in line for a ride, a woman and small child excused their way close to the front of the line to meet up with the rest of their family. The child probably had to use the bathroom, and dad “held their space” in line. Were they breaking the rules? YES! But who cares? It’s a mom and her child wanting to join their family. It’s not that big of a deal that I may have to wait 3 more minutes in line!

Yet I strongly suspect that the Kia driving assholes I encountered would have blown the whistle on them. And these folks? They would make you change lines in the supermarket if you exceeded the 12 item limit. I’ll go one further. They are the type that with a full cart of groceries, would see you in line behind them with nothing more than a can of tuna and make you wait with a “sucks to be you” smirk on their face.

Because they have an inflated sense of entitlement. The world is theirs and we are just cluttering it up.

They are the unkind humankind.

And I’m glad I’m not one of them. I may not have handled this situation in the best way, but at least I’m nice to people. I hold doors, and let cars cut in front if they’re trying to make a turn on a busy street. And I always let the can of tuna guy go in front of me at the supermarket. 

But not them. They are mean. And I hope someday someone calmly tells them that they suck.

I just wish it could’ve been me.

Christmas Tree Pins

This past weekend my girls and I were browsing around the various antique stores in Staunton, VA. I came across a collection of Christmas pins, much like the ones pictured above, and man did it take me back. My mother had a quite a collection of garish pins, mostly given to her by us kids as Christmas presents.

When I was young, I might only have $4.00 or so to spend on my parents for Christmas. I’d squirrel away the quarters and dollar bills pressed into my hands by grandparents or doting aunts, earmarking that stash for my annual trip to the Five & Dime to do my Christmas shopping.

Our Five & Dime, located on Broad Avenue in Palisades Park, was a treasure trove of crap. But it was absolutely perfect for the Bucek children to do their Christmas shopping. Gloves, hankercheifs, ceramic knick-knacks – all could be had relatively cheap, then taken home and wrapped in the discarded funny pages, and placed under the tree.

Dad was hard to buy for. Most years I would buy him a new ink pad, a box of paper clips or a pen. Dull, yet somehow humorous now that I look back. I can picture the father in “A Christmas Story” trying to appear pleased with his can of Simoniz.

KC-05301.1LBut with mom you could get creative. One year I (or one of my siblings) bought her a glass paperweight that looked similar to this one. It had an undulating ribbon of beauty inside that reminded me of a psychadelic flower-covered meadow. I spent hours turning that glass ball around in my hands and peering at all the amazing details inside.

And then there were the pins. Snowmen, wreaths, reindeer and Christmas trees, all chintzy and showy dripping with rhinstones and enamel. Mom would ooh and ah over them on Christmas morning, and would carefully place them in her jewelry box. Every winter when the holidays drew near, you knew you could count on one of those pins being secured to her blouse or her jacket.

How I would love to rummage through my mom’s jewelry box once again and gaze upon all those wonderful treasures we bought for her. And how I would love to stare into that glass globe – wondering what it would be like to run through the flowers.


Last week my girls and I went to lunch at this new place in town called Zinburger. It’s a wine & burger joint, and as we were tired of turning to fast food for lunch, we thought we’d give it a try. It was a little pricey—$10 for a burger that comes with nothing more than a few pickle chips. Any sides were extra, so I could see this bill quickly adding up to be a real wallet buster.

And it was. 1 burger, a bowl of chili, an order of fries and a milkshake came to $40.00 after the tip. I am not accustomed to paying $40.00 for lunch when all I got was a bowl of chili – but, it was good. The food was all super good. My daughter’s burger was one of the best I’ve tasted in recent years, and my chili, although initially rather cold (and had to be sent back), was also very good. The milkshake? Little tiny sips of sin.

So while I worried over why I paid $40 for lunch for the rest of the afternoon, the soothing balm was that at least the food was really good, and somewhat worth the expense.

But I’m finding this to be the exception and not the rule.

Saturday while out shopping hubby decided he wanted to lunch at a local deli called Little John’s. While you can order a turkey on rye they are better known for their sandwich collaborations, my husband’s favorite being the Five Easy Pieces sandwich (ham & turkey breast with 1000 island, herb mayo, home made cole slaw, bacon and melted Muenster cheese on grilled pumpernickel).

I wasn’t too jazzed to go there. The last time I’d been they had really messed up my sandwich, and it literally left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Not only was the bread badly burned, but the sandwich, in a to-go container, became very soggy. A sandwich that is simultaneously wet and burned is disgusting. After one bite I made my husband drive me back so I could return it. But I figured anyone could have one bad day, and they deserved a second chance.

We ordered….2 sandwiches and two soup & half sandwich combos, along with 2 drinks. I got a Reuben thinking that would be pretty hard to mess up. The gal rang us up and the total? $36.78…really? For sandwiches? 

As I glanced at the menu board I realized that each sandwich cost between $7 & $8. For close to the same price Little John’s charges for their very average sized sandwich, we could have gotten giant subs at Jersey Mike’s and had leftovers. When I realize stuff like that I go crazy. But, the money was spent, so we sat down to eat.

I picked up my Reuben and tried to take a bite. The sandwich was soggy. Again. After one bite it began to fall apart. The corned beef was covered in now melted 1000 island dressing, making the sandwich slimy and extremely unappetizing. At this point I would need to eat it with a knife and fork – there was no way to handle this mess of a sandwich.

SammichI glared at hubby, sheepishly enjoying his sandwich, and said, “strike two!” He asked if I wanted them to make me a new one, and I told him to just return it – I’d rather have my $7.95 back. I was mad. I hadn’t wanted to come here, and my sandwich…my expensive sandwich…was disgusting. I went to the ladies room while hubby dealt with the manager.

I heard him talking to the guy. He told him about my previous visit and how this was strike two, but also told the guy how much he loved their food. A little good cop/bad cop. I went back to my seat and stared at the empty table in front of me. At least the iced tea was good.

But that was about it. The girls’ chicken noodle soup was horrible. It had very little broth, which we consider to be the heart of any good soup, and the noodles were thick and mushy. Nobody finished their lunch except hubby.

SoupBut I will say one good thing about Little John’s. The manager cared. Right as we were clearing up and getting ready to leave, he handed me a freshly and very carefully made Reuben. On the house.

And it was good. $7.95 good? No, but I appreciated the effort.

Will I go back? No way. Little John’s has proven to me that they don’t take the time to make a quality sandwich. They throw it together and hope you won’t notice. I expect crap like that from McDonalds…when you get a 79¢ lop-sided burger with mustard oozing out the side you think…well, it’s only a 79¢ burger. But to pay close to $8 for a sandwich that can’t withstand the first bite?

Eff that shit.




When I think back over some of the TV I watched since I first sat in front of our old black & white Zenith on the cold linoleum floor in our family room, I realized that there are a few that had staying power. Shows that I will sit and watch, no matter how many times I’ve seen them.

Because certain shows strike a chord in us. Others? Not so much.

I can think of dozens of shows I loved while growing up that hold little to no appeal to me now. It doesn’t mean they were bad shows (well some of them were), but they were only interesting at that particular time. If they came on as re-runs on TV Land or Hallmark channel, I just wasn’t that jazzed to sit and watch them.

Bet there are certain shows that I will watch forever. Maybe not every episode…let’s face it, every show has a few dud episodes…but if I stumble across them while channel surfing, my feet and the volume are going up.


Little House on the Praire
I love this show – have since it first began airing on Wednesday nights back in 1974. My dad and I used to watch the Waltons, so when Little House pilot movie aired, we watched it. It was along the same vein as the Waltons…good old fashioned family drama. It didn’t take long for me to get hooked. Right from the first episode the rivalry between Nelly & Laura made me say “goodnight John Boy.”

For years I watched every episode. I comisserated with Laura when Mr. Applewood picked on her and made her the class example, or when she put the apples down her dress to make it look like she had boobs. I sighed when Jason wrote he loved her on the chalkboard, and when she got her first kiss from Almanzo. I cheered when she pushed Nelly down the hill in her wheelchair, and won the big race on the back of Bunny.

And it’s not just the main characters that drew me in. Mr. Edwards, Doc Baker. Mr. & Mrs. Oleson, and even Miss Beadle were part of my Little House family. Later I welcomed  the widow Schneider and the Sanderson children…I even liked the Garveys and later, Albert.

I cried when the entire town got sick with Anthrax, or when the entire town got lost in a snow storm, or when the entire town again got sick with Typhus. I cheered when the town softball team (the millers/merchants/heavenly hosts) beat Sleepy Eye, but then cried again when the blind school burnt down. You never knew what emotion you would be feeling during that hour of power on NBC.

The show lost me shortly after Almanzo and Laura got married, I have to admit. Those are my jump the shark years. Once Jason Bateman and Shannon Dougherty came on board I was pretty much boycotting the show. But I’ll watch almost every episode before that.

lucyethel_i_love_lucyI Love Lucy
This probably should have come first. I’ve been watching this show the longest, I think, and here are scenes that still make me laugh today, even though I’ve seen them hundreds of times. Lucille Ball has to be the greatest female television entertainer ever. No arguments.

Yes, there are the classics – stomping grapes, stuffing candy in her bra, getting tanked while rehearsing the Vitavetavegamin commercial. Those are all great, but there are a few that are my personal favorites.

  1. First Stop
    This is the episode where they stop at that crazy hotel on the way to California. I can watch the scene where the beds move back and forth across the room every time. And Ethel tucking Fred into bed? Freakin’ classic.
  2. The Operetta
    I can watch Lucy in a snaggle tooth ’till the end of time. Her performance as the Queen of the Gypsies is flawless. Also catch the episode where she plays the witch in Little Ricky’s play – another good snaggle toothed role.
  3. Lucy Gets a Paris Gown
    Both of the episodes where Lucy tries to get a designer gown are great – Don Loper in Hollywood and Jacques Marcel in Paris. She wore that feed bag with such grace and elegance…
  4. Ricky & Fred are TV Fans
    Lucy & Ethel are tired of being ignored while Ricky & Fred watch the fights. There is a great scene in the police station with veteran actor Frank Nelson that always kills me. That dude was in a bunch of different episodes and he’s good in every one.
  5. Anytime Lucy is In the Show
    Ricky was nuts! I’d pay to see Lucy in the show before I’d listen to one sour note from Ricky. Sally Sweet, Hiawatha, the pompous show horse? Lucy steals the show.

There are a ton more – that show was so good. But it did jump the shark. When they moved to the country I lost all interest.


Every now and then some network will start re-running this show, and hubby and I will watch religiously.  We agree that the first few seasons were the best – the original cast our favorites by far. The episode with the incubator? That’s one of my favorites.  “Did you really yell give me an incubator or give me death?”

Or the one with Adam’s Ribs. “You sent all the way to Chicago and no coleslaw?”

Hubby thought it went down hill after Trapper and Henry left, and once Frank was gone? Fuggedaboudit.

I didn’t mind BJ or Colonel Potter at first. Giving Klinger more air-time was also a plus. I even liked Charles Emerson Winchester up to a point. But the last few seasons the jokes were forced – they came in rapid-fire succession and let’s face it…people just don’t talk like that. Plus everyone got so sanctimonious – BJ and Hawkeye were constantly on the soapbox, and if I had to hear the phrase “meatball surgery” one more time…

But gripes aside, this show gave us at least 7 good seasons and I can find quite a few must see episodes in every season, even the last few. My jump the shark moment was after Radar left, and Klinger stopped wearing dresses, and Margaret got nice.


The Odd Couple
I miss this show. Somebody needs to put it back on. It was a family favorite, especially with my sisters. Tony Randall was the best. He delivered so many great lines – had such great expressions. And that’s not to take any credit away from Jack Klugman – as a pair they were flawless.

Favorite episodes are (of course) Password, Calypso Felix – when Felix crashes on Oscar & Nancy’s vacation, Security Arms – where the men move into a high security apartment building, Scrooge Gets an Oscar – where Felix asks Oscar to play Scrooge and the Flying Felix – where Oscar helps Felix get over his fear of flying.

“I much fear serious trouble in the fuseladge, Frederick.”

To me, this show never jumped the shark. It’s just the best. The freakin’ best.


All in the Family
Groundbreaking. Controversial. And so incredibly funny.

There’s something about every charachter that you love – Edith’s long stories, Mike’s constant political rants, Gloria’s blind adoration of her overly political husband, and Archie. Ah, Archie. TV’s bigoted everyman in a white shirt and loafers.

But it’s not just these four – other characters they brought on – even for just one episode – were great.

  1. The Ripleys
    Edith answers the ad in the swap section – enter Rue McLanahan and Vincent Gardenia who play a couple of swingers who are interested in “switching partners, but not for dancing.”
  2. Frank & Irene Lorenzo
    Vincent Gardenia returned in later episodes as Frank Lorenzo – those are all watch worthy. Irene is great too – it’s nice to see Edith get a friend for a short while
  3. Mrs. Jefferson
    Mr. Jefferson was okay, but I like Mrs. Jefferson – she’s my favorite park of the Sammy Davis Jr. episode
  4. The Robbers
    Clevon Little and Demond Wilson play two robbers hiding out in the Bunkers house. There is so many funny things in this episode – it’s a must see.
  5. Beverly LaSalle
    Archie gives mouth to mouth to a transvestite. How great is that. Her character was wonderful – funny and warm. And I loved how they wrote in her death later on.
  6. And then there’s Maude
    While I didn’t like the spinoff Maude, I loved the episode where she was introduced. Cream of wheat with cheese…classic.

All in the Family jumped the shark when Mike & Gloria moved to California. The introduction of Daniell Brisebois (how do I remember these things?????) did little for me. I stopped watching. We won’t even mention Archie Bunker’s Place…


The Honeymooners – Classic 39
Almost every episode in the classic 39 are priceless gems, jam packed with quotable lines. While I do love the majority of them, my favorite episodes by far are:

  1. A Woman’s Work Is Never Done
    Alice, tired of cleaning and getting zero appreciation for it, decides to go to work and get a maid. This episode is so freakin’ funny and filled with great quotable lines
    “I’m the only girl in town with an atomic kitchen – this place looks like Yucca Flats after the blast!”
    “Some guest, some employer…the simp and the blimp”
    “I dont clean up after any late night snacks, and from the looks of it this boy has plenty of late night snacks.”
    “If this is the servants quarters, I quit.”
  2. Young at Heart
    Ralph tries to prove to Alice that he can still act youthful. I love the scene when they dance “The Hucklebuck,” and the scene at the end where they are around the table reminiscing. Ralph begins to laugh for real during this scene and doubles over, gasping for breath. My favorite lines:
    “You’re a termite Ralph, stricly out of the wood”
    “I’ll kiss you later I’m eatin’ a patater”
    “How can someone so round be so square”
  3. Alice and the Blonde
    Alice & Trixie feel ignored by Ralph & Norton especially after they attentively fawn over Rita, Burt Wiedermeier’s blonde bombshell of a wife. The scene at Burt’s apartment and the following scene in the Kramden’s kitchen are fantastic tv fare. Great quotes include:
    “Leave it there the cat’ll get it”
    “A treasure? He keeps this up much longer he’s going to be a BURIED treasure.”
    “I call you “Killer” ’cause you slay me” – “And I’m calling Bellevue ’cause you’re nuts!”
    “Isn’t that a good idea, Tubby?”

You also can’t forget Ralph playing golf, wearing the man from space costume, Norton’s Captain video getup, and the Chefs of the Future. But I gotta tell you…I also enjoyed every single rant of Alice’s – they are great. Her colorful descriptions of their dreary apartment kill me everytime and I love seeing Ralph – who can be quite a bully/shithead sometimes – put soundly in his place.


The Brady Bunch
Ok, ok, ok – stop groaning. I just can’t help it…I still love watching this show. My 12 year old breaks my chops everytime she catches me watching it, claiming it’s beyond lame. And this coming from a girl who watches Victorious…hmph. If that’s not the pot calling the kettle black.

Maybe I love it because it takes me back to cozy Friday nights in front of the television – eating rice pudding from the Pathmark and listening to my mom putting away groceries in the kitchen. Or maybe it’s because the plot lines are so positively goofy that I just never tire of them.

I mean really, what’s not to love?

  • Brushes with Greatness – Davy Jones, Desi Arnaz Junior, Joe Namath, Don Drysedale – you never knew who was going to waltz through the front (or back) door of the Brady Home.
  • A Well Travelled Family – The Brady’s got outta dodge pretty often…the Grand Canyon, Hawaii, Kings Island Amusement Park…not to mention episodes involving camping, skiing, boating. The Brady’s were always on the go!
  • Tons of Guest Stars – Vincent Price, Melissa Sue Gilbert (although she wasn’t a star yet), Imogene Coca, Marion Ross, Marcia Wallace, Jim Backus, Jackie Koogan & Don Ho to name a few.
  • Alice – I loved Alice. Plain & simple.

My favorite episodes are by far the iconic ones. Marsha & Doug Simpson rank up there among the best episodes ever. Oh my nose! over and over and over again? Come, on…it’s unbeatable. The new Jan Brady is another stellar, can’t miss episode, along with the one where Peter has his personality crisis aka the famous “porkchops & applesauce” line. And my final favorite? When the Brady kids sing in the talent competition to win money to pay for the silver platter. Along with not one, but TWO classic, albeit utterly cheesy songs, I get to hear Alice say the line “Third place? What a gyp? It’s the last time I ever watch that crooked channel.”

That line had my and sisters rolling on the ground when we were kids. And it’s still chuckle-worthy to me now.

TV of Today…
I wonder what shows we watch today will have staying power for me? Some shows we watch for a year or so constantly – Like Everybody Loves Raymond, Frazier or Will & Grace. I loved those shows, but when try to sit and watch them now, I find myself switching channels during the commercial and not going back.

I know The Sopranos hit a chord with me. I will watch episodes of that on demand often enough to where I feel confident it will stay on my permanent watch list. But I wonder if shows like Modern Family, or any of the dozens of reality shows I watch will still interest me in the future. Can I see myself in 2025 settling down on my couch for a marathon viewing of Toddlers & Tiaras?

Somehow I doubt it. Housewives of New Jersey? Now maybe.


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