Times are changing and I must go with the flow of aging. My MaMa birthed me, some years ago….just recently.

I’d like to think I’m aging, complex-ed and fruity, but like a fine wine it’s not really important unless you are cheese! Life has a way of throwing curves at you and we’re probably sitting on the biggest one of all…I’m told eating nutritious and healthy foods can do so much for you. I regret to inform you that I think I need all the preservatives I can get even if it includes Twinkies and Hot dogs. Also, as I ponder the big questions of life, it’s comforting to know that this aging stuff holds fewer things seem worth waiting for.

Miracles actually happen-Maybe our bodies have to expand and prosper to hold all the love, wisdom, and knowledge we’ve acquired. Life should not be a journey to the grave with intentions of arriving safely in an attractive, well preserved, worn out and totally used up body-I say “Skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, a glass of wine in the other and scream “WooHoo” “What a ride!”.

When I get older, I don’t want people thinking about “what a sweet little old lady” I am. I want them to say, “Oh, Crap, What is she up to!”. I’m not gonna get weird about getting older, after all my age is merely the number of years the world has been enjoying me. As far as lessons go, they were numerous in leaps and bounds throughout life. Reading between the lines through my old college letters, MaMa always included a $20.00 bill, “Sandwich Money”, she called it and words of wisdom with answers to my questions seeking to have her guide me to a good decision.

I was able to understand more leaving my childhood, going into adulthood and lucky enough to see the process of aging around me. I read her words and always chuckled, my ticker filled with homesickness, only because they were a mix of French and English words, but very poetic and to the point, I understand them so much more now. Her letters briefly described what was going on at home with her and Dad and they were priceless!

I don’t think she realized, her letters, brief but full of news, left her “Mom-isms”, sentiments and awe-inspiring lessons mixed with wisdom, great nuggets of advice, sayings and rules to live by that only a Mom could bestow on her child. I didn’t realize until after a while how she always signed her letters, “Love, Carmen”.

I understood, I could see her sitting there after a 14-16 hour day, maybe more, in the restaurant office paying bills and she signed her name as closing a letter to her best friend or half professional correspondence. As I enveloped each word and express mirth, I understood. (Sept, 1979) She tells me that her and Papa looked forward to a quiet adult evening, I imagined, she meant a quiet evening in front of the fire, because their backs went out more than they did. And with the roaring fire, they turned out the lights early which was more for economic reasons than a romantic score. She talks of the rocking chair that she couldn’t get to rock and when she finally did, tells me she once got the same sensation on her chair that she got on a roller coaster. Together they talked about other people’s surgeries, countless hip and knee replacements, the price of gas when it was .26 Cents a gallon, how his latest dreams consisted of prunes. She mentions how everything hurts and what doesn’t hurt, doesn’t work! And finally, the “Mom-ism”, “Keep it up!, hone on your skills!…”, “Keep in mind that in the end, it will all be worth it. You need not to rely on anyone else to support you.” Love, Carmen. Then in the same scribble, “Mom”, I felt extra loved at that moment that she had recognized what she had done but not scratched it out, “You know what I meant!, she says”. I Loved it!

In the Oct. 1979 letter, she mentioned how she felt they had too much room in the house, as all of us had left the roost, except the medicine cabinet was overflowing. It was Fall and on their recent outing she stated she felt a little empathy for the colors of fall and felt sorry for the trees losing their colorful leaves, “At least, she says, When I went through “the” change, nothing fell off!”. I wrote her back describing what, Karen O’Connor wrote about when she was introduced to the change herself back in the 80’s. I explained that I too, was acquainted with the same characters. “The 7 Dwarfs”, who appeared when I got “the” change. Out of nowhere these little trouble makers showed up. I was living in a harmonious state until the fateful day arrived that my hormones shifted and begin that little time in life called “Menopause”. I encountered Karen’s 7 Dwarfettes: Crabby, Grouchy, Cranky, Ornery, Nasty, Mouthy and Meanie. Suddenly everyone living or dead were irritating around me and not safe from my wrath, in fact, I told myself off!. Finally the mom-isms, “Be strong. Never forget where you came from” Love, Carmen.

(Jan, 1980) A short but sweet note mentions how her group of friends is diminishing in numbers and frequency. The number of funerals they had attended was ridiculous. “If this keeps up, she added, all my friends in Heaven will think I didn’t make it!”. Dad on the other hand, had taken up a new hobby, adding he called the bathroom “Jim”. Saying he could honestly say he went to the “gym” every morning. During the day, his outings with Jim, were very competitive. He’d run in such a way as to get the prize, but yelling “Don’t ever trust a fart!”. Words of Wisdom… “I wish I had a magic wand to make everything better. You can do anything you put your mind to. Keep studying!” Love, Carmen.

(Undated) In another colorful note she hit me with this, I imagine she found it quite funny. One of Dad’s friends (who’ll remain nameless) was dating someone half his age. The good side, he was not breaking any laws!. Wisdom Words: “I knew you could do it but working that new math stuff? WoW! Now you’re smarter!, “Toutes Nos Felicitation! On the 4.0!” Love, Carmen.

In May 1979, she mentions she knew she was getting older when after working all morning and afternoon, she needed to take a nap to continue her day. She was certain that it didn’t control her mood swings, worry, aches and pains but it gave her more patience, endurance and sometimes a bigger smile. (Wisdom words) “Sometimes your mind makes contracts and promises your body can’t fulfill!”. Respect!! I’d be napping too midday!

(April, 1983) “You are studying, right?” (Does she think I’m doing too much college thingies-stuff?) Adds, “Dad is so proud of his new boat. Did we really need that?”. Then she explained that she’d bought something last summer, and put it away for safekeeping, after all it was on sale and there was a couple holidays coming up, but when the time came she needed it, she couldn’t find it. She writes with Quotes, “Obviously I’m much better at hiding than at finding.” (Words of wisdom) “No man is perfect Jo, don’t mistake a pimple for a dimple!” Love, Mom.

She had all the answers to life, I was too fixated on trying to reflect on my aging process. As time went on, I shared with her that this was the year I stopped having birthdays, it was better that way, no disappointment, as the numbers were getting higher. It was then I decided to split the age between my two legs. When I hit the 34 mark, my legs were 17 each! Good enough! WooHoo… 17!…Happy Birthday to me!

I worry as I start to see the signals that I am getting old, after all experience is all I have after everything else. Every things else is gone. I knew I was experiencing that aging stuff back when I was interviewing Busboys and Dishwashers and Waiters. It wasn’t uncommon for the older ones to flirt with you to land the job. What added years to me was that when the applicant, 1. Called me Ma’am’ to be polite and 2. I noticed out of the corner of my eyes, their fathers at a nearby table staring at me making googly eyes and innuendos throughout their son’s interview. 3. My children are looking middle aged, and 4. A visit to the doctors office put me in an elevator where I caught myself singing along with the droll sound of the music. 5. I was thrilled as I realized, going for my yearly Mammogram that someone has asked me to appear topless on film. 6. My little black book contains mostly names ending with M.D. and 7. My grocery cart contains items that say “Fast Acting” or “Fast Relief” and are easy to chew, especially since the last lunch out, when I sanked my teeth into a steak and they stayed there! At this point closer to reality, I’m afraid my mind will wander off and not come back! But, if I do wander off, you need post an Amber Silver alert for my disappearance, and “FYI”, It would be safer to put my picture on bottles of wine rather than the milk carton, just so my friends will know I’m missing!

I admit to being guilty of amnesia, once or twice, maybe. I live in my own little world, but it’s OK, I’m the Mayor there. Eventually, I’ll stop lying about my age and start bragging about it… So, Happy Birth-me MaMa. Thank you for making me so, so cute and smart, strong and independent.

Today’s recipes are fun and easy. Allow yourself to indulge in something yummy and simple. Now you know you have your own collection of Mom,-isms, send them to me and we’ll share them. As always, you can comment, question, bring me your thoughts and ideas at:

[email protected] And the last words, a reminder that we shouldn’t worry so much while in the moment and enjoy the simple things and not just the consequences, even if it’s hard. ~“Part of the secrets of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.”~Mark Twain.

The Recipes.

Ham and cheese Puffs Yields 2 Dozen

1 pkg. Thinly sliced Deli Ham ½ cup Shredded Swiss Cheese 1 small Onion, chopped 1 lg. Egg 1 ½ tsp. Dijon Mustard 1/8 tsp. Pepper 1 tube refrigerated Crescent rolls.

Preheat Oven to 375*, Combine first six ingredients. Divide crescent dough into 24 portions and press them into muffin cups. Spoon 1 Tbls. Of Ham mixture into each cup. Bake until golden brown, 13 to 15 minutes.

Confetti Pie

A little something that taste like a birthday cake. Yields 10

Preps in 10 Min. Bakes 15 minutes and needs chilling.

2-¾ Cups crushed sugar cones 2 Tbsp. plus ½ Cup of Sugar, divided ½ Cup Butter 1 envelope Unflavored gelatin ¼ Cup Water 2-8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened

2 Cups Heavy whipping cream 2 Tbsp. Butter Flavoring extract 1 tsp. Vanilla extract 1/3 Cup Assorted Sprinkles.

Preheat oxen to 350*, Combine crushed cones and 2 tbsp. sugar with melted butter. Press mixture in bottom of greased 9 inch pan. Bake 12-15 minutes to set. Cool on wired rack. Sprinkle gelatin into the cold water and let stand for 5 minutes. Beat cream cheese, rest of sugar until smooth. Slowly mix in cream, butter, extract. Heat gelatin in Micro on high until melted (about 15 seconds) beat into cream cheese mix. Fold in Sprinkles…Pour into crust. Refrigerate covered until set, about 3-4 hours. Top with additional sprinkles. Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me!…

Cheddar Corn Dogs Minis

15 min. Prep. Serves 6

1 Box (8.5 oz.) Corn Muffin Mix 1 egg 1 can Campbel’s condensed Cheddar Soup 4 Hot Dogs, cut crosswise in thirds.

Heat oxen too 400*. Lightly grease, 12 muffin pan cups

Stir corn mix, egg and soup in a medium bowl. Spoon 3 Tbsp. Batter in each cup. Top each with one hot dog piece, lengthwise. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool on wire rack for 5 minutes, remove from pan and enjoy.

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