I have just spent the weekend with both my sisters and their husbands. It got me to thinking about how we relate to each other. I am the middle child of three. I have often felt adrift in the family; I’ve always had a sense of not belonging. When I was in high school and working at the town library, I even went so far as to look up my birth announcement to see if I was really a part of my family. Before writing this, I looked at some interpretations of how birth order affects behavior. Some of it I agree with and some not. A middle child is often a rebel, an underachiever, a champion of underdogs and a people pleaser. I do know that this weekend I tried really hard to make everyone happy and congenial. I’m exhausted.


Here’s a word that was an answer in the New York Times Crossword Puzzle on Saturday. I’ve run across it before but never knew its derivation or pronunciation.

ukase -1. An authoritative order or decree; an edict. 2. A proclamation of a czar having the force of law in imperial Russia. (

Well, this is embarrassing. It’s from the Russian ukaz meaning edict. I took three years of Russian in college but I guess we never had an edict.

Air Pudding & Wind Sauce

Air pudding and wind sauce is our family’s term for dessert. I’ve never been a dessert eater so I’ve never really learned how to make the goodies that get so many people in trouble. When the kids were little and asked what was for dessert, they would invariably get the answer, “air pudding and wind sauce.”

I do have a couple of standard emergency foods, though, along the same lines. One is null soup and the other is dust toast. The recipes –

null soup – take all the non-starchy vegetables in your refrigerator, cut them up and put them in fat-free chicken broth. Rutabagas are especially good in this because they give the illusion of being a sort of potato. Cook until vegetables are cooked but still crisp.

dust toast – take two slices of 40 calorie bread (I use 9 grain), toast, spray with “I Can’t Believe It’s Butter” spray, sprinkle on cinnamon and sweetener. This is goes very well with a cup of tea late in the afternoon.



Twenty-eight years ago, there were worries aplenty. The staff at the hospital was engrossed in watching “Roots” in the labor room while I was trying to deliver Jonathan. I wanted to yell at them, “Hey, I’m the main event here!” Finally, only 40 hours later, I had the best (and it seemed the biggest) boy baby ever. And although I’ve worried about him his whole life, he has survived my overly avid attention and become the wonderful guy he is today. So, no worries about him today, just a loving “Happy Birthday!”

Two small “f” words

For some reason, we were sitting around the table this morning (my sister, Phyllis and brother-in-law, Gary) thinking about three letter words that begin with “f.” Here are two –

fob –
1. A small pocket at the front waistline of a man’s trousers or in the front of a vest, used especially to hold a watch.
2. A short chain or ribbon attached to a pocket watch and worn hanging in front of the vest or waist.
3. An ornament or seal attached to such a chain or ribbon. (
This is from the low German fobke meaning pocket.

fop -A man who is preoccupied with and often vain about his clothes and manners.
This word comes from Middle English fop, foppe, a fool. (

Sisterly Advice

My sisters are both visiting down here in Marco Island. It’s the first time we have all been together in a long time. The have both offered some advice for my diet tips.

My sister, Phyllis, says – hollow out a half a bagel and fill the depression with low-fat cream cheese, cinnamon and sweetner. Heat it up in a toaster oven.

My sister, Peggy, says – don’t drink two margaritas in a row! These are John’s killer “Earl Gilmore Memorial Margaritas.” For the recipe, see Braisin’ Hussy. They are not nearly as much fun the next day!



It used to be that I worried over air travel. (I know. I wrote about this before.) But there seems to be all sorts of fearful traveling modes. A look at the headlines on my “My Yahoo” page confirms this – “Ford to Recall 792,000 Vehicles Due to Fire Risk ,” “Truck Plunges Off I-95 Overpass in Md,” “Rail crash carnage in Los Angeles.”

Are things getting scarier out there or do we just have more news?

Slow Down!

I was sitting in a restuarant in Grand Cayman eating a salad. After all, chubby people must be seen in public eating diet food. A woman in a bikini came in with her boyfriend and ordered a cheeseburger and french fries. I took great umbrage at this. How can this thin person eat the things I want to eat and still stay thin? So I watched her. The food came; she did nothing – not test a fry or pick at the bun or even eat the pickle. She just sat there and talked with her boyfriend. A little while later, she picked up a fry and bit the end of it off and then put it down. More talking. Then she spent some time cutting the cheeseburger in half. A small bite. More talking. This went on for quite a while. Then they left. She maybe ate a third of it. It was all I could do to keep from running over and snatching some of those fries.

The moral of the story is if you eat more slowly you will either 1) get the sensation of fullness before you gulp down everything on the plate, 2) the food will get so cold and unappetizing that you won’t want to eat it, or 3) you’ll realize you are late for your next engagement and have to leave before you can finish what’s on your plate.



I despair for the lowly adverb; the modifier of verbs and adjectives. The media will be the death of this once proud form. “I’m feelin’ real good!, “Man, that wide receiver ran quick,” “That train was running too slow.” This is a scary dumbing down of the English (American) language. I was listening to commentary by Brad Gilbert on ESPN2 today. He is the former tennis coach for Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick; he is obviously not their former English coach. Gilbert has definitely decided that the adverb is obsolete. It made listening to him cringeful. Examine your language, are you using the -ly words?