Earlier today I enjoyed lunch at the “Carlisle”—an upscale assisted living facility in Southern Sunny Florida.  I chose to dine there as my father-in-law, Winslow, chose to live his remaining years there.  (OK, so we “younger” family members chose to move him there.)

As we entered the bustling dining room about 7 white- haired women excitedly motioned for him to join them.  (He’s popular, I thought to myself.)  It was like a rock star must feel when entering the stadium.

“Win” as he is known at the Carlisle, took a subtle bow and showed me with his cane to the best table in the house.  To the catchy tune “Up, Up and Away” playing in the background, some seniors sang along as they enjoyed their meal or stared into space.

I ordered the turkey on rye and Win, the extra-long hot dog followed by green ice cream that reminded me of mint toothpaste.  He cannot hear so I attempted sign language and we had a fine time.

Then he whips out his agenda for the day, informing me:  “In case you think I just sit around all day, Nan, take a look at this.”



   Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Thought for Today:  “I don’t have everything that I want, but I do have all I need.”

10:00         WATER AQUACISE                                   Pool

10:00          POOLSIDE PARTNERS*                         Other Pool

12:00          LUNCH                                                         Dining Room of Choice

1:30            CANASTA CLUB                                         Game Room

1:30            BIRTHDAY PARTY w/ Annaleisa           Her Place

3:00           BLACK JACK                                               Party Room

3:15            WINE DOWN  (Happy ½ Hour)          Seniors Swarm the Building

4:05           DINNER                                                        Dining Room of Choice

7:00          FEATURE FILM                                           Lounge

7:30          CASH BINGO                                               Party  Room

8:30ish    LIGHTS OUT!                                               Bed

I cannot wait to be old enough to live like this.  One does not have to lift a finger!  Oh, maybe just to dial family to complain soup was cold the other day…

 *Still trying to figure out this activity?




As most of my fans and readers are aware by now, I hail from Idaho–the
“Famous Potato” state.  Our license plates, twice awarded “Plate of the Year” by the National Association of License Plate Collectors, read “Famous Potatoes”.  As I recall there was a period of time when Idaho-uns decided this state motto was hokey and sought to change it to something more sophisticated and classy.  They lost.

Sure, Maine grows fine potatoes but they have a silly motto: “Dirigo”, which is Latin for “I Direct”.  What kind of motto is this?  A dumb one, if you were to ask me.  And no one did.

I am not trying to impress you, but my cousin Corrie’s grandfather—that would be my father’s sister’s father, invented the TATER TOT.  I am serious.  The man, Henry Chase, along with the Grigg brothers, came up with the idea to form potato scraps into small turds, freeze them, sell them to Ore-Ida and make a small fortune.  With this extra cash he bought billions of acres of land around the Cascade Lake in central Idaho, where my family now owns a rickety yet cozy cabin.  Cousin Corrie, on the other hand, enjoys a lodge-like mansion just down the dusty road from ours.  Her’s overlooks “Henry’s Pond” which is nothing more than a big puddle of murky water housing thousands of mosquitoes each summer.   

Corrie also has batts in her belfry.  Literally.  I am petrified when she invites us over for some of her fabulous cooking, as I know little black mammals are watching us from the rafters.  Any moment one could swoop down and get in my ponytail.  Sometimes there are so many winged creatures in her attic her husband Jim has to get out a baseball bat.  And then it gets ugly.  A bat and too many batts.

But my point is we have great potatoes out in Idaho, and are proud of them.  This is probably why I married a man by the name of BAKER…



If you follow me on twitter or if you simply follow me, you know I am recently home from a ski vacation in Idaho.  While visiting I did more than the slopes; I also conducted a search for a vacation home there in paradise.  Location, location, location.

I found and fell in love with a “vintage 1920s cabin nestled in the woods.  Breath-taking views of the Lower Payette Lake.  Heartwarming charm, character and coziness.  A must-see before it’s gone……….”

The place was close to but not perfect.  Thus I decided it best I meet with the owner, who also owns a booming casino in Nevada and stately homes scattered about the country.  Upon hearing at the local diner that said owner was in town, I instructed my agent to contact hers.  A date was set for coffee at “Uncommon Grounds”. 

The morning of our date owner, whom we will call Trixie* phoned me to finalize arrangements. 

“What do you look like?”  Trixie inquires.
“Well, all I can tell you is I will be wearing a purple ski coat”, I reply.

“Super!  Trixie exclaims.  “See you there at 11:30!!

Excited, I jump in the shower, blow my hair into a style, don a smart black and white outfit, then decide

against the purple jacket.  Instead I choose a simple white ,down number with a cozy yet practical hood.

Once at “Uncommon Grounds” I wait for Trixie to show.  All I know is she will be a single woman/all alone.  (Everyone else in the café has a friend or two sipping with them.)

At approximately 11:32 a.m. in walks Trixie—a tall blonde with BIG hair who looks more like a Texan than an Idaho-un.   She is very well groomed.

As I leap up to greet her, the owner of the vacation home of my dreams barks at me.


*name changed to protect owner of perfect vintage cabin nestled in the woods…




Woke early this Sunday morning, totally dehydrated not from what you’d guess, but because this is the driest winter we’ve had in centuries.  Even the furniture cracks during the night, along with my lips, fingers, nails and jokes.  Ours is a parched and brittle world, let me tell you…

Not in the mood for mass or church clothes, I struggle into my old racing suit and head for the health club.  No, not just in my Speedo, silly people—I also threw on a sweat suit, down jacket and some clogs.  But my attire is beside the point.

Once at the club I check in and head for my locker.  I intend to swim at least a half mile this morning so saturate my lovely locks in the shower, smother them in a precious oil my hairdresser swears will keep a mane gorgeous, then dive into the pool.  Actually, no diving is allowed as the depth is only 4 feet.  So I slither into the chilly waters using the harsh, cold metal ladder.


Once I am certain I have swum (swam?) to my limit I hoist myself out of the pool and head for the locker room.
Whoops!  Took the wrong door and caught a nude man from the rear.  Darting out of the men’s room I notice the vapid-looking lifeguard staring at me as he mutters, “I wondered why you were going through that wrong door?”

Shaking now from more than just the cool air, I opt for the whirlpool.  Turning the corner into the small room I realize there are 4 or 5 naked Japanese women lounging on the chaises surrounding the hot tub.  They stare at me as if to say—

“Why is this strange Caucasian woman in a bathing suit imposing on us this morning?”

One was cutting her toe nails, another stretching her legs, and I could not bring myself to look at the old woman in the corner doing tai chi or some type of contortion of her shriveled up body.  Oh my…

Now, having lived in Japan for 3 years during the 80s, I realize it is customary for these people to strut around nude and bathe together.

But please.

When in Rome…



After a dream-like week of nordic skiing, snow-shoeing, wine drinking and eavesdropping, I woke yesterday to “the most depressing day of the year”, according to Matt Lauer on TODAY.  Well, I already knew it was most depressing as I had to leave paradise/McCall, Idaho.  Matt’s reasoning was that this was the first Monday of the new year, most people had to go back to work in the salt mines, and everyone realized they’d spent way too much $$$ over the holidays.  Bills, bills, bills.

As added weight, all of us were starting that dreaded day #1 of the latest diet craze.   Gag.

And then there are those ubiquitous dying poinsettias—brown leaves scattered everywhere.

Tears in my eyes, I packed up the Chevy Captiva rental that had proven NOT good in the snow, took one last look at the breathtakingly beautiful view from the great room, slammed the door shut, and headed out of town.

What’s even worse was our destination–Nampa, Idaho.  I hope you have never been there.   This bedroom community outside Boise boasts a huge sugar beet factory that smells up the entire Treasure Valley.  It is the kind of odor that makes newcomers driving into Nampa blurt–
“Oh my god!  What is that smell???”

The saving grace was that we would be staying with my infamous brother Biff and his zany wife Cheryl, who happens to be great in the kitchen.  They always insist we nest in their guest room and offer the warmest of Idaho hospitality—spuds and all.

But the cute couple does not always agree on matters.

It’s freezing cold in Nampa just like most of the rest of the country, so Biff has some sort of pellet fire blazing.  We all plop down around the flames to catch up and slurp some libations.  Twenty minutes or so into the gathering I notice a vibration throughout the room, and a dull, roaring sound coming from out of nowhere.  Now dripping in sweat, I think I might be hallucinating, when Cheryl shouts at Biff.

“What the heck is that noise?”

“It’s just the pellet stove, dear.  When it gets too hot the screen vibrates.”

“No you’re not”, Biff orders.  “I can fix this problem in no time.”

A few hours later, he’s done as promised and we all head into the kitchen for dinner—a savory “Chicken Divan”.

“This looks great!” I drool.

“Oh it’s just a recipe my friend Janny shared with me” Cheryl  replies.

“This is NOT Janny’s recipe, dear.  This is YOUR original recipe, and you know it,” Biff insists.   “Her’s has cashew nuts.”

At this point I leave the room to wash my hands, splash some cold water on my face, and take a deep breath.

Now, don’t get me wrong, these are nice, hilarious, god-fearing people.  They simply agree to disagree.

On matters like whether or not Pearl the old mutt should be shampooed weekly, whether or not her diet is causing what they call “tooting” and a foul aroma in the house, or if they should keep the litter of five kittens that is hanging around on their back patio eating the food left out for the two large cats they actually own.

We make it through the evening and all retire for a good night’s rest in the hothouse.

Come morning, Biff makes the coffee too strong and gets animated about one of his tall tales and Cheryl asks—

“Biff, do I have to medicate you?”

I actually thought his story was amusing and his jumping up out of the lounger only added to the historic performance.

Sadly, I had to hit the road again for the airport and home.  As I pack the Captiva (again) I notice Biff is reading the obituaries in the morning “Idaho Press Tribune”.  (A “rag”, Cheryl calls it.)

“Holy cow, he bellows.  “Melvin Moore* died!”

“Not Melvin Moore?”  Cheryl cries.  “How sad!”

“Didn’t he go to St. Paul’s with you, Biff?”  I inquire.

“Yup, and he was a great guy for many years.  Wife, two fine kids, good job, nice house…

Then one day he goes ballistic and ends up in prison.  And I don’t know if I mentioned this, Cheryl, but he used to call me collect from jail.  But I’d just hang up on the operator.”

“WHAT??”  Cheryl screams.  “You should have talked to him Biff!!!”

“I don’t accept calls from prisoners”

Biff declares as he pours another cup…

*Name has been changed to protect the guilty.



As the holidays wind down, poinsettias wilt, and scented candles expire, I reflect on the past Christmas Eve at our “Sweet Home Virginia”.   The stockings carefully hung, fire blazing, dishes done, and my hair in a bun, we choose to watch a warm and fuzzy movie.  “Love Actually” I think it is called…

All seems perfect until I realize my son, the fourth and essential member of our family, is missing.

Where on this peaceful earth could he be?

Oh!  Here he is.  Passing out printed pages to me, his father, and his hip-sister.

“Read this passage”, son instructs.  “Then turn the page over and circle either a,b,c, or d.”   (We each receive a #2 pencil as well.)

No pressure.

Where is this piece going?  Well, to the fact I got the WRONG answer on this MCAT practice exercise while husband and daughter scored perfectly.


One consolation is son assured me I only got the answer WRONG because I

“over-thinked” it.


New Year’s Eve went better in that I spent it between the sheets…

“Have a good one!”

  And hope your holidays were happy.