Pork… it makes me smile

Yesterday was our local farmer’s market.

I love the farmer’s market. I love that people are so in love with the food they bring. I love that there has been labour involved, labour from their hands.   Some of it comes from the dirt and some is created in the kitchen with sifting, stirring and boiling pots. All of it is presented with such generosity.

Rose Bianca Eggplant. It’s an italian heirloom eggplant. I’ve never had one but I think it’s purdy. I’m gonna have to try one next weekend. Or buy some just to put on the table so my eyes can feast open all that gorgeous color.

Our take home: apples, Kale, butternut squash, yellow zucchini, muscadine grapes and shiitake mushrooms. I am dreaming of something with pasta, zucchini, muscadines and shiitake.

And the extra special good part……The fine folks at Jonbayla BBQ come every weekend towing a trailer with ginormous grills full of meat. You can smell them coming. In a good way. And today they did not disappoint. Today they unveiled the pinnacle of palate pleasing pork perfection. Today, they unveiled the Pork Parfait. That’s right. PORK. PARFAIT.

Yogurt parfait is for wusses. You can’t handle the pork!

(I still have DMV fingernails. I must remember to buy nail polish remover)

A layer of baked beans for a good foundation. Dry rubbed barbecue so tender its just held together with little meat hugs. Tangy, spicy barbecue sauce. Sharp cheddar. And the cherry on top, BBQ style, baaaaacon.

I got one. I ate it.  I tried to stick my face in the cup to lick it clean. And then I took a pork induced nap.


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Big Fat Leaf

I walked outside this morning early, cause the Rocky dog does not have a built-in snooze button, and found this:

 A big fat leaf had fallen off my hydrangea bush. All rusty red.

Then I realized I was cold. And it wasn’t 900 million degrees outside at 5:30 a.m.

And I wasn’t sweating buckets and see mirages of silky blue ponds surrounded by shimmering palm trees while using my bare hands to dig for water to have the will power to finish walking the dog around the yard.

And I wanted to crawl back under my covers and drink hot stuff and slurp soup and wear fuzzy socks. Not that I would ever slurp soup in bed. Cause I never slurp.

I think fall has finally fantastically fallen. That’s alliteration.

I like alliteration. I like fall.

Fall is good. Fall means you can wear big sweaters and eat more butter. Fall means no shaving if you don’t feel like bending over or worrying if you forgot to put on deodorant as you were flying out the door. Is that gross? I can’t just be only me. Please say its not just me.

What’s falls in with fall for you?


Franny B



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City Picnic

A Beee-you-ti-ful day in the neighborhood.  Mr. Smith, my built in entertainment at work, and I rode the bus for a downtown picnica (as my Nana used to call it).

A stroll on city streets. Lunch from Phillips Deli. Some southern chicken salad, perfect potato salad and a big fat pickle. I could eat a meal of pickles. Would that be wrong?  I think the fact that I ordered 2 things with the word salad cancels out all the mayo and renders this a healthy picnic. At least that’s what I’m telling myself

Outdoor sitting in the city. We met an old friend. We reminisced. We laughed. Mr. Smith has mad skills so he whisked himself away into the DoubleTree hotel and scored us some warm welcome cookies. Did you know they give away free cookies to their guests?  Mr. Smith has begged and pleaded for free cookies many a time. I’m sure they are not fooled. I’m sure they are just really nice people and prolly want the crazy man out of their lobby.

Please ignore the alien finger and DMV fingernail shot. They really are warm. And nothing says welcome better than oatmeal cookies. All good picnics must come to an and picnic goers must return to work.

Here is the fabulous Mr. Smith. He was talking most animatedly about sheep shearing I believe. . Because nothing brings the picnic mood to a close faster than a good sheep shearing discussion.  Apparently Mr. Smith had been to the State fair and I”m worried that he’s gonna quit his job and go shear sheep full-time. Not a bad way to spend lunch time.


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Soccer Buddha

Cause this is thriller, thriller night. And no one’s gonna save you from the beast about to strike!

Left foot, right foot. Knees up. Run Forrest Run! Wait… how did that go again (and did my Mother really just call me Forrest?).

Look at me go! Look at me go!

Oh how I love watching this girl . An experience that ranges from watching a baby giraffe take its first step to a secret ninja attack.  She was Sunday strolling along the field or doing a one girl blitzkrieg. And she is not phased in the least by the cheering fans or the bouncing coach on the sidelines. She did not chase the ball. No. She waited till the ball was ready. Till it, and she, had embraced and accepted their destinies. Then she would whack with all her might and go back to her zen meditation and meandering  How did I, the overachiever,  who really, really hates to lose at anything including rock, paper, scissors produce the soccer Buddha?


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Cookies and Carrots

Saturday was Fireman Appreciation Day. I appreciate fireman. I appreciate them for their rubber yellow boots and big red trucks. And sirens. I appreciate a man with sirens. I also appreciate cookies. I love making them. I love eating them. But I can’t eat all the cookies I make and still wear my pants. And I can’t go without my pants. At least not in public. Or when I’m hanging out with Girl Wonder.

So.. it was a win win. I made cookies and I took them to fireman. And they ate them. And they were all wearing pants. At least when I delivered the cookies.

And before we delivered cookies I dug up my carrots. I think I had dirt on my forehead when I delivered cookies. But I was wearing pants.

 Lots and lots of carrots. We are gonna have really good eyesight around here. I did a crappy job of thinning out my carrots so they are skinny weird looking carrots. But my carrots just the same. They are carrots that had to struggle. I like a carrot with a little life experience.

 And now I have to figger out what to with all these carrots.

If you had a big basket of carrots shedding dirt on your kitchen table what would you do with them?   Would you wear pants?




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John Henry Waszkiewicz

October 17, 1949 – August 29, 2011

There  once was a boy from North Braddock, PA. John and Rose’s son.      Gene, Eddie, Raymond, Jerry and Joanne’s brother.

Jerri’s husband.    Mine and Steve’s dad.

Marilynn’s brother in law (yes my Mom went ahead and married him even after he locked her sister out of the house on the night the first man landed on the moon).

Jack’s buddy.

Maureen’s father in law. Although he loved her like one of his own.

Maggie and Trevor’s Pap-Pap.    I think out of all his names, Pap-Pap was his favorite.

He slept through school. Smoked by the railroad tracks   He pushed his brothers off of telephone poles, out of cars and they paid him back by shooting him full of arrows.  He cleaned spittoons as a part time job and drove just about every car ever made prior to 1971.

He looked like James Dean and had the heart of a cowboy.

One day that boy joined the Navy and flew the coop. He was a bronco rider in Bakersfield, CA . He went to Vietnam twice. He went to radio school and began what would be a 30 year career with the CIA.  He married Jerri on August 30, 1969, gave her a honeymoon out of a pizza box and then whisked her off to England. And their life began. First came me and then came my brother.

He gave us quite literally….. the world and he taught us so much:

We learned how to swim using the ancient “throw your kids in the lake method”.  He taught us to ride horses in the Sahara desert (with an occasional camel thrown in to make sure we were paying attention) We had bus stops by the Nile.  He grew the biggest patch of Silver Queen sweet corn in all of Lusaka, Zambia and taught us to eat tomatoes straight off of the vine. He taught us to take pride in our smallest successes. Like the time Mum sweated and slaved for weeks to cook  the largest Thanksgiving meal ever seen in Central Africa. And he made the tiniest bowl of pickles and proceeded to brag about those pickles, and only those pickles, for the next 30 years.

He broke up fights between my brother and I reminding us how we were supposed to love each other  (Did I mention how HE used to push his brother off of telephone poles and all I did was knock mine upside the head with a stuffed animal)

He cheered me on at track meets. He and my brother practiced extravagant experiments in patience doing Father / son projects.

We were raised on John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Star Wars and Bruce Willis. And love. So so much love.

I remember him holding hands with Mum no matter where we went and he never left the house without kissing her goodbye. He created family fun time such as “ Let’s go dig a drainage ditch in the backyard in the pouring rain to keep the basement from flooding”  You haven’t seen fun till you’ve seen a group of Polish-Irish-Italian family swinging pick axes and shovels in the middle of a thunderstorm.

And the time came when he brought us  back across the pond to a sleepy little town in Virginia and home was still home because he and my Mom were there. We grew up, moved out, moved away and learned very quickly that while we were responsible for many grey hairs, our children could do absolutely no wrong.

He taught Maggie how to fish.  How to eat Oreos the right way.  He was famous for his Pap-Pap tea when sore throats needed soothing. He was an instant Mary Poppins, but with a very scratchy beard, when I had to travel out of town for work.

He and Trevor shared the same haircut. One of Trevor’s first words was “Pap-Pap” and he was the very best medicine my Dad could have had. Trevor will know his Pap-Pap through the “Trevor list” Maggie is writing for him… a list of all the important things her Pap-Pap taught her and she will teach to Trevor. We’re all waiting to see if he can master Dad’s “pull my finger” trick before he turns 2.

He was smart, gentle, tough, funny, strong, firm, giving, and oh so stubborn.

He’s still here. In this room. I see him in the gold band around my Mother’s finger. I see him in my daughter’s uncanny sense of direction (just like my Dad). I see him in my brother when he’s playing with his son. I see him when old and dear friends gather round to share good food, good stories and the kind of laughter that has you worrying you might pee your pants.

My dad lived wide and he loved big. And he left us quietly, knowing he was loved beyond measure.

Daddy,  I hope Heaven has a 24 hour John Wayne channel (please remember Heaven expects you to share the remote control) and I hope tonight, and forever, angels sleep on your pillow.


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A Prayer In The Kitchen

I’m supposed to be making felafels for dinner. But instead, I’m here at the table typing. And with the clickety clack of the key board my prayers find release……

Show me  peace. Not the zen, look at me I’m a Buddhist Monk kind. But the letting go kind. The kind of peace that lets you breathe without it hurting. The kind of peace that let’s you cry without fear that the dam will break and all the pieces will wash away,  leaving you unable to stop the flow. The kind of peace that come’s from the strength of those who hands and hearts stand inside your circle.

Show me wisdom. Wisdom to make every minute count. Wanting to make each minute stretch long and heavy with a touch, a memory, a laugh. Wisdom to stop counting the minutes.

Show me words. What do you say to sickness.To the person who raised you up; who help shape the  very core of you; whose footprints cut a path for you before you found your feet. What do you say to give comfort. Do you say anything? How can you say anything when every sentence feels like goodbye.

These days prayer is ever present. A constant whisper.  We are all whispering silently, my Mom, my brother, my family… we whisper over and over “Please God…”

I ask for prayers. For my Dad. For my Mom. For our family. And for those of you who are walking this journey with your dads, moms, husbands, wives or someone you love… I send up prayers for you… a million prayers of love and light to line the horizon from here to heaven.


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