The Perfect Crime?


One summer several seasons ago, my husband and I were engaged in a “discussion” where He was talking and I wasn’t listening.  Capital intended.  Somewhere in the exchange He made a remark which catapulted me into a two year crimespree.  I blame Him.

It all began with a silly, simple thing like me wanting to go fishing.  It is what I love to do.  To do it properly one needs a boat, some gear, a dog who is your co-pilot, and an overcast June afternoon with a cold pop in a cup holder and some bug spray on board.  I had everything but the boat.    That’s when the discussing turned into cussing and a non-typical threat; a gauntlet thrown down by Him:

He said, “You may NEVER have a boat because we don’t have room for it.”

Really? Do we not live on a farm?

I’ve excelled at getting what I want throughout our 30 year marriage…capitalizing on the tricks we wives perfect over the years.  Most of the time John finds it amusing and challenging, so it all works out in the end.   This was a man who has always given me everything in this life I’ve ever really wanted and I guess he just underestimated how badly I wanted to fish and how far I would go to land one.  To me, His words were like nails on a chalkboard or a wedgie on my dreams.  In desperation and on vacation, I turned to a life of crime.  I couldn’t stop myself.  I am a weakling.

In hindsight, the guilt almost outweighed my visions of reeling

in a splashing four pound smallie.  (almost)

A land-lover, He was back home making the bacon and I was in da U.P. camping on the shores of the Michigamme Reservoir with my parents, my brother and his grown children.  We had all been sharing my dad’s Bass Tracker and admittedly, it was crowded.  Being the fun girl that I think I am, I buzzed into town just to see if anyone was giving any old boats away on the side of the road.

I could justify something on the cheap side –but I knew I could never bring it home.

Just then I spotted an older aluminum boat with an Evinrude 115  resting on top of a  trailer whose durability was suspect.  The whole thing jumped off the side of the road and screamed, “Pick me!”   After kicking some tires and talking turkey, she was all mine.  I tried to stop myself; I really did.  Then I named her Mabel.  Trusty ‘Ol Mabel.  I stopped in town and found some letters at the hardware store, so her name could be properly displayed.  She and I had a rip roaring time for two summers in a row out on that lake.  We filled her live well and I dove off the bow into the cool water a couple of times.  When winter came, I stashed her at a storage facility.  A little thrill ran up my leg as the time went by and He was none the wiser.

Everyone in my family was sworn to secrecy.  No pictures of Mabel.  No mention of her blue gunwales or how she was strong enough to pull skiiers.  They said they couldn’t lie, but wouldn’t inform (knowing this is how I operate).  My husband, John, was on a need to know basis and he didn’t need to know.

We were in Chicago at my parent’s house during the spring that my father died.  The house felt empty and the backyard didn’t look right.  That’s when John looked in the yard and asked my brother, “Where is Gramp’s boat?”  Without thinking, my brother replied, “It is up north in storage with Kelly’s.”

John’s eyes literally bugged out of his head as he grew

a big Grinch smile–he had me. 

I was a goner.

Oh, I’ve paid for my crime since then and the story of Trusty ‘Ol Mabel is told and retold so much that I’ve become a legend in my own mind.  This story had a happy ending (hehehe) because John was a good sport; the surprises in life keep marriage aglow and if I wasn’t naughty, he wouldn’t stay interested.  All has been forgiven and eventually Mabel was less trusty than crusty and she went on the auction block.   Guilt.  Yepper… this was over the top but I would do it again.

 The End. 







Mmmm…Bacon Taters



1/4 pound bacon, cut into 1″ pieces

2 medium onions, diced

2 lbs. yukon gold baby taters, halved or quartered

1/2 lb. cheddar cheese, thinly sliced

add butter, salt, and pepper and sliced green onions



Put a liner in a crockpot or spray sides with Pam for easy clean up

Layer the ingredients and dot with butter

Cook on low for 6-8 hours


Recipe can be doubled for company

I would precook bacon a little bit in the microwave, on some paper towels, just to get some of the fat off

May substitute pepperjack or any other cheeses or toppings you might like


Mini Magic Apple Pie


Once every ten years a recipe that is creative and deliciously disturbing comes my way.  I can’t stop thinking about all the folks I could wow with it.  This decade’s gem comes from my good friend, Stacey Stewart.   Today had been an ordinary Saturday; I had just finished my afternoon nap and flipped the television on to catch up on my Judge Judy reruns.  The bell rang and I stepped on a Lego on my way to answer the door.  No pain, no gain.

There stood Stacey with a piping hot plate of mini magic apple pies

and a side scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

Was I dreaming?

Mini Magic Apple Pies   -   Preheat oven to 400 degrees

To a mixing bowl add and stir:

Peel and dice eight cups of apples into 1/2″ cubes

12 tablespoons flour

1-1/2 cups of sugar

4 heaping teaspoons of cinnamon

optional:  1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

 You will also need:

4 tablespoons of chilled butter cut into 24 equal pieces

2 boxes of Pillsbury pie crusts (chilled not frozen)


Unroll chilled, NOT FROZEN, pie crust, and cut out 24 circles using a wide mouth mason jar (or large biscuit cutter or a large drinking glass)   Line each cup of your muffin tin with a mini pie crust.  Gently fill the crusts with the apple mixture until slightly mounded.  Top with a dab of butter.

Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes.





Now You Know

1976 Watching the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson together, every night.

My dad died somewhat unexpectedly in the last hour of the last official day of winter, on March 20, 2007.   The significance of his timing is not lost on me.   When I think about it, he lived exactly as he had always lived, with purpose.  He held on to that final season of his life and let go just moments before the next one.

For almost two years, he had been doctored.  He had endured radiation and chemo with a smile for us and a wink when he saw that we saw how pleased with himself he was for finding a cute, fuzzy toque for his head.   Yet, that winter had come, those late evening hours passed, and spring arrived without him.

My mother and I followed the ambulance to the hospital where he was pronounced.  Devastated, I leaned down to his ear and softly whispered, “Now you know.”    Three little words were all I could muster, but when I think about it now, they are profound.

Since that time I’ve come to know that those we have loved and lost are never really far away.   Through pain, I’ve learned that time is a human measure and touch is a human need. I’ve learned to celebrate his life, not mourn his death.  This is where faith comes in.   I also realized that the way I conduct my affairs and how I treat others directly reflects his legacy.  In everything I do, he remains my compass–my true north.

Now here’s the interesting part:

1968 My dad’s graduation from Roosevelt University in Chicago. My mom used to drive under the post office to pick him up at night from college. We were tucked in blankets in the back seat.

Not only is my dad sitting on my shoulder these days, but he enjoys letting me know.    My mom, my brother, and I fish in Michigan’s upper peninsula every year for vacation.   The first thing I do when I get there is to fire up my dad’s Merc 60 and take his bass boat up Corbett’s Creek to our special fishing spot to see if they are still hittin’.   Without fail, the motor quits.  Every time, every year, six years straight.  I sit there on the silent creek and smile.  Faith.

He made sure we knew he was present at his eulogy, too.  There had been a story told about my parent’s first date where he nervously spilled a whole glass of ice water on my mom at dinner.  Then she told a story about more water spills; it was their kind of  “luck” when they went out.  At the funeral luncheon, a waiter shouldering a large tray brought eight glasses of water to our table.  Just like a bad movie, he tripped–and toppled the eight full glasses of ice water down my daughter’s back.  Everyone jumped up, jumped back, and got bug eyed thinking to themselves, “It can’t be!”

1982 Mom and Dad at a rest area on the way to Michigan to visit their first grandchild. Mom was a grandma at 38.

A few weeks later my mother’s two sisters were up at our farm and we took a walk to a little pond on our property while mom rested back at the truck.  We were standing on the shore talking and enjoying the woods and water when one of my aunts thought to ask if there were any fish in the pond.   I was right in the middle of telling her how my son, Adam, and Gramps had jury rigged a fish finder to a little row boat a few summers back and rowed all over the four acre lake looking for fish.  At the exact moment I said that my dad had said, “There are absolutely no fish in this pond,” A FISH JUMPED COMPLETELY OUT OF THE WATER.   Our jaws hung open, our brains couldn’t process what our eyes had seen, and my aunt was the first one to dare utter, “That was your dad!”     Faith.

These random water events are not his only form of amusement.  There are others that I’m reserving for another time.  I used to think I was crazy or desperate or wishful.  Now I know.




“There’s one form of immortality that I like to think about.

It is that all those that from the very first have given anything to the world are living in the world today.”

Dad’s perfect cast, and my perfect timing, on Corbetts Creek

Grandpa’s girls, Sarah and Jennifer



Gramps’ Pride and Joy, his grandson, “Jim, the Marine”


Mint Pudding Cups

Mint Pudding Cups

Prep time: 15 mins Cook time: 5 mins Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 3

Easy mint pudding cups are the perfect treat for St. Patrick’s Day.
6 Mint Oreo cookies
1 tbsp butter
Instant vanilla pudding (small package)
2 cups milk
¼ tsp mint extract
green food coloring
whipped cream
sugar sprinkles (optional)
Pulse cookies and butter in a food processor until finely ground.
Divide the cookie mixture between your serving bowls and press firmly.  Make pudding according to the package directions, adding ¼ tsp of mint extract and 2-3 drops of green food coloring. Pour the pudding into your serving bowls leaving about ¼ inch for the whipped cream.  Let the pudding set up and then add whipped cream & sprinkles.

Fine Wine

 Breaking News for wine lovers across the U.S.A.   

Uncle Sam –as in Sam Wal-Mart– is teaming up in 2013 with Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery of California to produce full bodied wines at a $2-$5 price point.   Wine connoisseurs may not be inclined to put a bottle of the Wal-Mart brand reds or whites into their shopping carts but, “There is a market for inexpensive wine,” said Kathy Micken, professor of Marketing at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.  Branding will be very important so Walmart asked its customers to go online and vote for the most attractive name.

The top picks in order of popularity were:

10.  Chateau Traileur Parc

9.   White Trashfindel

8.   Big Red Gulp

7.   World Championship Riesling

6.   NASCARbernet

5.   Chef Boyardeaux

4.   Peanut Noir

3.   I Can’t Believe it’s not Vinegar

2.   Grape Expectations

1.   Nasti Spumante

The beauty of Wal-Mart wine is that it can be served with either white meat (opossum) or red meat (squirrel).

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