The 70-Something Blog is now The 80-Something Blog. Stay tuned in ten years for The 90-Something Blog!

One-Pan-Dinners

Those (like me) who devour the food sections of newspapers and subscribe to cooking newsletters, can’t miss the trend toward sheet-pan-cooking.  For those unfamiliar with that term, it means that protein, starch and vegetable(s) are baked on one sheet pan formerly exclusively used to bake a batch of cookies. 

Gone can be the days of scrubbing three-pans after dinner.

However, now that I am cooking for one most days, I have gone a step further.  I often cook my whole meal in a seven-inch cast iron skillet on one stove-top burner. Perfect for fish or chicken for-one, a sauteed green vegetable and rice reheated from a big pot previously frozen in single portions.  I start with a big splash of olive oil, often add some garlic and then whatever takes the longest to cook, etc

Try it.  You’ll thank me.


The U.S. Mail

There were ten items in my mailbox yesterday. 

A copy of The Economist magazine, two letters from U.S. Social Security, an advertisement for daycare addressed to our son Seth who doesn’t live here and doesn’t have any children and six fundraising solicitations, four of them from organizations that I donated to last month.

It’s a shame that these non-profit organizations waste paper and postage to solicit contributions as frequently as they do.  It is rare for me to give to an organization more than once a year.

For the most part, non-profit organizations solicit for worthy causes.  However, it’s a good idea to check websites such as Charity Navigator or Guidestar.org to learn what percentage of your contribution goes to administration and fundraising before you donate.

The work these organizations do is vital.  But it sure would be nice to find a hand-written letter from a long-lost friend in my mailbox.


Haydn's Symphony #88

My husband Peter often kidded me about putting words to classical music in preparation for music literature class exams.  It’s true—I cannot listen to some of the old “war horses” without those words singing in my head.

On Sadie Hawkins Day in 1968, after dating for almost three years, I asked Peter to marry me.  His reply, “I’ll do the asking when I’m ready.”

What has this to do with classical music, you ask?  Well, Peter and I often passed by a Mr. Gusil’s jewelry studio.  We always paused at the window to look at his beautiful work.  And I kept hoping a Mr. Gusils-made engagement ring was in my future.

One day, Peter, making fun of me, sang these words to the opening theme of the fourth movement of Haydn’s 88th Symphony :  “I am going to Mr. Gusil’s.”  Repeat, over and over.

Eventually, he did go, and both my engagement and wedding rings were made by Mr. Gusil’s.  Peter secretly arranged an inscription on my wedding band, a musical staff containing the opening notes of the fourth movement of Haydn’s 88th Symphony.

Yesterday, Boston’s classical radio station played a recording of that symphony. The first notes of the fourth movement brought tears to my eyes.


Aches and Pains

Although I hadn't thought about it in years, I have a vivid memory of my father complaining upon getting up in the morning that he “ached all over”. 

Lately, I wake up every morning hurting somewhere. Back, hip, leg, anywhere. Amazingly, it disappears once I’m out of bed and have taken a few steps. It doesn’t reappear again until the next morning.

I planned to call my older brother to find out if he too aches all over.  But I didn’t have to because when a close friend and I were walking yesterday, she happened to mention that she wakes up with various aches that go away when she is out of bed.

My whole day brightened. 


Can You Top This?

As an eighty-something who is grateful to be functioning reasonably well, I am vigilant about looking for signs of my “losing it”.  They appear to be happening more frequently now-a-days. 

Several months ago, (I may have reported this) I started the coffee maker without putting the carafe in its place, left the kitchen, and then spent way too much time cleaning up the mess from eight cups of coffee on my counters, the floor and in some of my cabinets.

A few days ago, I prepared a sauce for some salmon. When the oven reached 400 degrees, I threw the pan of salmon into the oven and continued with whatever else I had been doing.  Suddenly I realized that I had never put the sauce on the salmon.  Fortunately, it had enough sauced time to be quite delicious.

On Monday morning, it was very cold on my three-mile walk with a friend. So as soon as I got home, I eagerly hopped into a hot shower.  Something felt odd, and when I looked down, I saw that I was still wearing one very wet sock.

Can you top that?


Welcome 2022

It’s been a long time since I studied Latin with Miss Klinginsmith, but I understood Queen Elizabeth’s calling 1992 an “annus horribilis”.  That year had been a scandalous one for the royal family.

Although my family had no scandals this year (that I know of), I am happy to turn the calendar on 2021.  The anxiety and pain of another year of loss from Covid coupled with losing the love of my life after fifty-six years made 2021 a challenge I’d not want to repeat.

Fortunately, there were also happy moments.  I saw more of our children than in most years.  I watched our grandchildren become their own people—still loving brothers, just different from one another.  I made some new friends and learned a lot from my courses.  Because of my History of Boston Sports class, I watched every moment of a New England Patriot’s game all by myself. I learned a lot about pronouns in my gender class. I plan to learn more this year.

I wish an “annus mirabilis” 2022 for all.


Harvard Square's Loss

Those of us who have been hanging out in Harvard Square for years got some very sad news on Monday.   Another landmark is closing.  This time we are losing Brattle Square Florists after a run of 104 years.  Long ago lost were Woolworth’s, Joe and Nemo’s, Design Research, the Harvard Square Movie Theatre, Casablanca and many more.  More recently, Dickson’s Hardware and the Curious George Bookstore have disappeared. 

Brattle Square Florists outlasted them all.

Over the years, Peter has surprised me with countless bouquets of daisies from there.  When he was still able to, he pushed his red Rollator up to the Square and walked back clutching a bouquet from Brattle Square to surprise me. 

Having lived or worked in Cambridge since 1965, I have watched many establishments close their doors.  Usually, empty spaces are quickly nabbed.

But times have changed; rents have sky-rocketed.  The pandemic was the final blow for Brattle Square Florists.

The news of their closing made the front page of The Boston Globe, and local social media has responded.  But the owners can’t work any harder. 

We’ve worn them out.


$$$$$$$$$$

Years ago, I would stop at my local Bay Bank branch after work every Friday. I would cash a check for $75 that would usually get me through a week.

Times have changed.  Now $75 would never get me through a week, and I never cash a check.  In fact, I only write checks for some contributions and holiday tips. I use Venmo to pay small amounts to a neighbor who picks up something for me at the grocery store and charge whatever I can on my cash-back credit card.

None-the-less, I finally ran out of checks and ordered more with my new apartment number.  When they arrived, I checked that all the numbers on the bottom were correct and stashed them away.

I had to write a check the other day, and I noticed that I forgot to take Peter’s name off my new supply. I will probably write checks with his name on them for the rest of my life.

And that’s OK with me.

                                Best wishes to all for a healthy, happy 2022.


It's the Little Things...

My apartment has floor to ceiling-windows in the living room.  The window coverings are three-inch-wide plastic vertical panels.  In the almost four months since moving here, I had not closed the shades until last night when even our double-glazed windows couldn’t keep out the cold.

Alas, I saw that there was a gap, a missing panel, right in the middle of the window.

I had a feeling that when the shade people replaced similar shades in our former apartment down the hall, they left me one or two extra panels.  Sure enough, I had tucked one into a closet corner and forgotten about it. 

I couldn’t reach high enough with my small step stool to attach the panel, but my three-step ladder was perfect. I was able to slide the panel into the empty holder where it fit perfectly.

Made my day.