Monthly Archives: June 2016

The Journey West

Little Town on the Prairie

Little Town on the Prairie

This past weekend mom and I made the trek back to the ancestral homeland. Not northern Europe, but eastern South Dakota. It was the occasion of the annual Mohror family reunion. For many families, such gatherings are days-long events. By contrast the Mohrors, in keeping with their (allegedly) German heritage, practice brisk efficiency. The reunion commences at noon with a tasty potluck lunch, followed by a short business meeting (I know; I don’t get it, either), a group photo of the oldest generation, and general dispersal.

The whole thing is over by a little after 2:00 pm.

Home of the Arlington Cardinals (I guess)

This is slightly disappointing for my branch of the family tree, who drive four hours to get there. But it’s always nice to see our kin, for however brief a time, and since we were locked into an overnight reservation at the world-famous Pheasant Hotel, we had plenty of time to explore the wellspring of the Mohror tribe – Arlington, South Dakota.

Arlington was founded in 1880 and was originally called Nordland, with all streets given Norwegian names. It was briefly – and inexplicably – renamed Denver, but the postal service frowned, so the town fathers decided on Arlington (since there are no other cities named Arlington in the world, I guess). I don’t know what caused the Norwegians to lose their Valhalla on the prairie, but I imagine it was a bitter day when Olaf Street was renamed Main Street.

I expect the Battle for Nordland looked something like this:

My great-grandparents ordered this home in a kit from Sears Roebuck. Family legend has it they later lost the place in a poker game.

My great-grandparents ordered this home in a kit from Sears Roebuck. Family legend has it they later lost the place in a poker game.

The Mohror tribe came to Dakota from Iowa, I believe, though the circumstances of their migration are hazy. On my mother’s side, the clan fled west from southern Minnesota during the Sioux uprising of 1862. Seems like heading back east would have been the more sensible course, but my folk have never had much of a sense of direction.

Our first stop on the grand tour was American Legion Post 42’s damned impressive veterans’ memorial. It has life-size statues of the different branches of the service, plus an assortment of engraved benches, nine flagpoles and black granite tablets inscribed with the names of those from Arlington who served. We found my father, Clarence Junior Mohror, as well as others my mother remembered well. “That boy used to throw my shoes out the bus window a quarter mile from our driveway,” she commented, pointing at one etched name. “He was killed by a sniper in the war.” (Subtext: good enough for him.)

Salley headstone

Salley headstone

Next stop was the Arlington Cemetery. Apparently they mix Protestants and Catholics all together in this town, which seems a bit radical. We located the Welsh kin, with their modest headstones, then trooped down the hill to the Salley family plot. My great-grandparents, Warren and Sabina Salley, were early auto enthusiasts. They drove their new-fangled Model T all over the country in the years just following the Great War. Great-grandma collected pretty stones from the places they visited, and after her death a local craftsman embedded these small treasures in the family headstone. It’s not clear to me who is actually buried under it, though, as my mom casually commented, “I think they buried grandma in the wrong place. Grandpa was a little fuzzy in the head by the time she was buried.”

Hm.

Ella Flora Oliphant was the daughter of Daniel Salley, patriarch of the Salley clan. Thanks, ancestry.com!

Ella Flora Oliphant was the daughter of Daniel Salley, patriarch of the Salley clan. Thanks, ancestry.com!

Next to the Salley headstone is a tall, stone obelisk. “Oh, there’s that Oliphant!” my mother exclaimed, and I looked around wildly for some unusual species of pachyderm. “Mom always insisted on putting flowers on that grave, since they’re supposed to be some kind of relative. But nobody knows who they are.” God bless, Oliphants. Gone but not forgotten. Well, gone and forgotten. But be-flowered, at least.

JohnMohrorheadstoneThe Mohror dead are some distance away (perhaps the Protestants and Catholics are separated by distance, even if they don’t have their own exclusive graveyards). We are humble, unassuming people, and this is reflected in the simple headstones our forebears bear. However, a scion of some other branch of the Mohror tree has recently erected what can only be described as a Grand Edifice to himself (he’s not in residence yet, but apparently wanted to save his spot). I gather he made a fortune in almonds out in California.

Seems fitting. I’ve always said we’re all a little nuts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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But, Weight! There’s More!

Mom photos batch 3 013

Mom and me, around my 47-pound ideal weight.

In kindergarten, I weighed 47 pounds. I remember this distinctly, because I was the lightest one in my class and I’d already absorbed our culture’s core value: skinny = good. Unfortunately, soon after that I began to absorb other things, like pizza, French fries and ice cream. I wasn’t 47 pounds for very long.

BabyMe

Look at those adorable fat rolls!

Actually, my battle with the bulge started very early. As an infant, my cheeks were so fat that they pushed my lower lashes into my eyeballs; I required some sort of doctoring for that, I gather. A baby dumpling is adorable; an adolescent dumplarge, not so much.

Over the subsequent five decades, my girth has fluctuated – never really achieving svelte, but always just this side of genuinely obese. Since I turned 50 last October, things have changed. With the onset of perimenopause, my always-sluggish metabolism seems to have ground to a halt.

It’s slower than the giant Galapagos tortoise, which heaves its considerable bulk at a top speed of .2 mph. It’s slower than the South American sloth, a creature whose very name means “reluctance to make an effort.” It’s slower than the saguaro cactus, which musters a paltry one inch of growth in its first 10 years.

frozenfrog

Me, only faster.

I’ve read that in subarctic regions there is a species of frog that occasionally freezes solid. It can stay that way for years, in suspended animation, until a thaw revives it.

My metabolism is slower than that amphibian’s.

The result of this near-comatose condition is that my weight has ballooned exponentially (at least something about me moves fast). Now, let me stop you before you launch into advice for reversing this trend. I know: eat less and move more.

Okay, but what are my OTHER options?

Back in January, I blogged about my new fitness regime, which consisted of walking briskly through a rather poorly animated Wii environment called “Rhythm Island.” Over the course of about three months, I faithfully strapped on the controller and numchuck and wandered through this cartoon world in time to up-tempo music. It was a slightly creepy routine, as this artificial landscape reminded me uncomfortably of the 1960s show, “The Prisoner,” in which Patrick McGoohan found himself hostage on a mysterious island, surrounded by strange people and balloon creatures. A feature of Rhythm Island was a silent population of humanoid creatures who seemingly spend their entire lives staring blankly out to sea, waving their arms randomly in response to nothing I could identify, and following my virtual progress through unblinking, pupil-less eyes.

Apparently, exercising while experiencing a low level anxiety and paranoia isn’t effective, because although my perky cartoon coach Dora assured me at the end of each session that I’d walked several miles and burned hundreds of calories, the weight kept piling on. To hell with that. I broke up with Dora in March.

Since then I’ve been working nightly in my garden. Admittedly, picking worms off the rose bushes doesn’t raise one’s heart rate all that much (unless you really don’t like worms). But with the number of times I’ve bent from the waist to pull a weed – approximately 1 million times – I’d expect at least my waist to be trimmer by now. Not so’s you’d notice.

There’s a commercial that runs every night touting some new body sculpting procedure. “Get back the figure you had in one day!” it promises. Okay, but do I get to pick which figure that was? There have been so many …

I’m skeptical of this wonder solution, but perhaps it bears further investigation. In the meantime, I’ve sent away for that home liposuction kit I saw advertised. You just hook it up to your vacuum and away you go – literally.

body-contouringPretty sure that will work.

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Call of the Wild

Mortal Enemies?

Mortal Enemies?

We have varmints. Well, one varmint. Specifically, Neotamias umbrinus, the Western chipmunk. At least, that’s what we believe streaked past my mother in the basement yesterday. It was immediately followed by a black streak that she definitely identified as our cat Remington. I don’t know which startled mom most: a woodland rodent in this very unnatural habitat, or the usually somnolent Rem’s sudden burst of ambition. I suppose the innate hunting instinct overcomes acquired sloth in even the most pampered pets.

This is not the first time we’ve been invaded by denizens of the Wild Kingdom. For several autumns running we attracted a solitary (as far as we knew) shrew or mouse. In any case, we only discovered a single corpse each year, usually in the hallway leading to the bedrooms. Presumably the victim had been cornered, caught and carried from the basement up to the inhabited areas of the house so we humans would be sure to note and appreciate the predator’s laudable killing skills.

Peep, displaying the razor-keen hunting instinct that has made our home a rodent resort.

Peep, displaying the razor-keen hunting instinct that has made our home a rodent resort.

Fortunately, the current resident hunters leave the body intact. Before I was born, our family had a Siamese cat who hunted outside and had a habit of leaving a single piece of its prey, some unidentifiable internal organ, for its owners to find on the front steps in the morning. I would have assumed it was a love offering, but my mother disagrees. Apparently this cat held a grudge against my father for an unfortunate falling-into-an-open-toilet incident, and mom believes the awful offal was intended as a warning, like a decapitated horse’s head in a bed: “You’re next.”

A few years ago, under the tenure of cats Jeff and Mr. Fuzzy, I was distracted one evening by the sounds of both felines hollering at me from the basement stairs like a pair of insistent preschoolers: “Hey! Hey! Mom! Mom! Hey! Mom!” Rolling my eyes, I went to investigate. I found both fierce predators stationed about halfway down the steps. This was suspicious; usually these two gave each other a wide berth, but just now they were huddled up together, staring at something below. Descending to their level (physically, not emotionally), I instantly saw the source of their fussing: a LARGE garter snake was slithering a lazy S-shape across the concrete floor. Now it was MY turn to holler. I’ve seen nature documentaries of mongooses attacking 6-foot pythons; obviously, Jeff and Fuzzy weren’t mongooses (mongeese?), but I still expected them to act more like carnivores than adolescent girls. In the end, since I am as much as scaredy-cat as my scaredy cats, I called my brother 10 miles away to come and dispatch the monster.

So apparently chipmunks in tiny outfits are a thing.

So apparently chipmunks in tiny outfits are a thing.

But back to the chipmunk. It’s unusual to see a chippy around our place; they generally prefer a more wooded environment. The “tamius” in their genus name is Greek for “steward” or “housekeeper,” which gives the little guys kind of a homey, efficient vibe. I picture a little rodent in a neat apron and babushka, holding a diminuative broom and briskly tidying up the seedy debris left behind in the room where I overwinter my tender bulbs. In reality, of course, the vermin is scurrying around among the boxes of Christmas ornaments and out-of-season clothing, pooping in my best dishware and incubating bubonic plague, hantavirus and hemorrhagic fever in its twitchy little body. I’ve been reading a book about rabies (spoiler alert: you don’t want to get this disease), so I also imagine the critter, frothy-mouthed and raging, lurking behind a jar of homemade pickles, waiting to leap out and bite me on the ankle. Death by chipmunk lacks the heroic dignity I aspire to.

Rem & Peep are too busy watching kitty porn to bother with chipmunks.

Rem & Peep are too busy watching kitty porn to bother with chipmunks.

As of this morning, we’ve seen no further evidence of the invader, alive or dead. Perhaps Remington, having read the same Wikipedia article I did, has discovered that chippers sleep an average of 15 hours a day, and thus feels enough in common with the thing to befriend it. Just what I need: one more freeloader.

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Garden of Weedin’

Pretty!

Pretty!

My small town collects yard waste once a year, in the spring. This year, on the morning of the collection, I gazed up and down the street in bafflement. A couple of my neighbors had set out a bag or two at the curb; most had none.

I had 32.

In the three weeks since then I have already amassed a new mountain of debris at the back of the property large enough to be mistaken by a passing archaeologist for the remnants of a long-lost civilization. It’s composed primarily of weeds pulled from my flowerbeds and dead branches trimmed from the shrubbery.

My question: What do OTHER people do with their crap?

Granted, my landscaping is far more garden-oriented than my neighbors’. Most maintain long, uninterrupted stretches of lawn they just have to mow once a week. The guy next door, though, has a sizable vegetable garden, and I don’t see the margins of his yard becoming fortified with bulwarks of decaying organic matter. He must have SOME weeds. Where do they go?

Where.Do.They.Go.

I tend to foster more unwanted vegetation than I would if my beds were blanketed in a nice, thick layer of mulch. In addition to keeping down weeds, I understand that a covering of wood chips or coconut hulls tends to keep the ground cooler, retains precious moisture and improves the quality of the soil. I did mulch for several years, but my mother isn’t fond of the looks of the stuff and, frankly, with as many beds as I have now, it gets damned expensive. And so I weed.

I don’t mind that part. In fact, I find weeding very nearly as relaxing and cathartic as flicking sawfly larvae off the rose bushes. A gal can get a lot of heavy thinking done while performing the mindless exercise of pulling quackgrass and purslane from among the daisies and gladioli. It’s what to do with the haul that’s vexing.

For years, this arbor hid a multitude of sins ... er, snakes.

For years, this arbor hid a multitude of sins … er, snakes.

My first several years gardening, I was all about composting. I bought first a plastic, snap-together compost bin, then later a kind of silo made of polyurethane, and threw my pickings in them. When these quickly filled, I started throwing stuff in the u-shaped enclosure formed by an old dog pen my Dad erected (his dog Ralph spent a total of about 10 minutes in there over a lifetime of 15 years) that has now become the frame of the grapevine arbor. Soon that receptacle, too, achieved maximum capacity.

Articles in gardening magazines (I have stockpiled a mountainous collection of those, too) give the impression that one need only dump green and brown organic matter in a heap, stir it around a bit once in a while and presto! Dark, rich, loamy compost magically appears in short order. But years after I started my various piles of wilted weedage, they remained … piles of weedage Actually, that’s not entirely true. They remained piles into which species of vermin had taken up residence – notably, snakes.

Snakes! Nope. Nope. Nopety-nope-nope.

This is NOT OKAY.

This is NOT OKAY.

The moment my sneakered foot was swarmed by baby garter snakes was the moment I decided to get out of the compost business. So now I’ve started accumulating plastic garbage receptacles, which I place in more or less orderly rows behind the shed. Theoretically, at some point I will haul the already-overflowing units to the municipal compost heap (aka Snake Valley). The hitch with this plan is that my little, red Kia can’t tote many garbage cans. Precisely, it can tote zero many. And so the garbage receptacles continue to proliferate almost as fast as the weeds that fill them.

So much NOT pretty.

So much NOT pretty.

I believe this is known as the Circle of Life. Isn’t nature fascinating?

 

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A Short Biography of a Simple Man

Dad and his little girl

Dad and his little girl

My dad was a good man in all the ways that used to mean more than they do now. He worked hard. He paid his bills and lived within his means. He loved his family. He served his country and his community.

There’s a reason they call his generation the greatest.

Little DaddyBorn on the South Dakota prairie, Dad was the oldest child of a large family that struggled to make ends meet during the Depression, yet somehow found room to take in kin even harder-up than themselves. Dad’s stories of his childhood paint a kind of Tom Sawyer-ish – or perhaps even more, a Huck Finnish – portrait. He scrambled aboard slow-moving freight trains to catch a ride to the swimming hole a few miles out of town. He hung out with the transient hoboes, which were numerous during those hard years. Falling off a horse, he broke his wrist so badly that it had to be set with a pin – an expense that must have been a hardship for the family. As a teen, he accidentally shot himself while hunting; afraid to tell his mom, he tried to hide the injury by wrapping his arm in his coat … but was caught out when his mother saw blood seeping through the material.

At 16, my dad left school, taking a job driving a truck to help support the family when his father became an invalid. In 1944, at age 18, he joined the Army for the money that would be sent back home to the family. He trained in Oklahoma, then boarded a troop ship for La Havre, France (“Twenty-one days over; 21 days back; sick as a dog every minute of ’em,” Dad recalled of his shipboard experiences.) He trained as a radio operator and was stationed in Germany during the Allied Occupation after the fighting was over. In the army he learned to smoke and to dance. Upon his return home, my disapproving mother cured him of the first habit, but he loved to dance all his life.

Young love

Young love

Who are these wild kids? Not my parents, surely!

Who are these wild kids? Not my parents, surely!

Letters and photos from the period of my parents’ courtship are a revelation. It’s always strange to imagine one’s parents as young and in love. Especially for me, a late-in-life baby who only knew my folks in their middle and later years, the photos of a laughing young man with movie-star looks (Mom has admitted she married him because he looked like Robert Walker; alas, soon after they wed, he began losing all that curly brown hair) is hard to square with the somewhat taciturn, very responsible man I called Daddy.

Call me biased, but I think Dad was better looking.

Call me biased, but I think Dad was better looking.

After early jobs as a movie projectionist, night watchman and a particularly disagreeable stint at a hatchery, where my soft-hearted pop was tasked with manually drowning chicks (he didn’t last long there), Dad took a job with a lumber supply company. Practicing the kind of company loyalty that doesn’t exist today, he spent the rest of his working life with them. A 1960 transfer took the family from Gary, SD, to Osakis, MN, where I was born in 1965. Dad quickly became active in this little community. He was a member of the VFW, on the board of the parochial school, and spent decades as a volunteer fireman and EMT. He was elected to the city council, serving 23 years in that capacity, followed by three terms as mayor.

Dad and Ralph

Dad and Ralph

I’m proud of my Dad for these accomplishments, but remember him also for so much more …

  • He loved music- though I never heard him sing a note- and babies and animals. (His springer spaniel Ralph was the constant companion of his retirement years.)
  • He was colorful in his speech, fond of descriptive analogies that have found their way into my own lexicon: “blacker than a wolf’s mouth,” “fuller than a woodtick,” “dumber than a box of rocks,” “wilder than a pet coon,” etc. He gave people nonsensical nicknames like Cabbage and Sliver and Scratchpad.
  • He was proud of his children and attended all of our school programs – including being the only father at the Future Homemakers of America annual banquet the year I was president of that club; bizarrely, the “entertainment” that year was a short film about venereal disease, which must have been deeply mortifying for my rather prudish pop.
  • He and my mother remained committed to each other for half a century.
  • He was soft-hearted and generous.

True, Dad wasn’t exactly Ward Cleaver. Patience was not a virtue he espoused. He was quick-tempered and hard-nosed, moody and often ornery (characteristics we attributed to his German heritage). Dad held what some might call “traditional values” that are frankly appalling today – for example, my brother was exempt from chores like washing dishes because Dad felt doing “women’s work” would turn him into a sissy. Dad suffered chronic, debilitating back pain nearly all his life and what I suspect was lifelong clinical depression that was only addressed and treated near the end of his life. His final years were marred by painful physical and cognitive decline. He was, in body and spirit, old before his time – and he left us too early, succumbing on May 12, 2001, to adult acute respiratory distress syndrome incident to pancreatitis. He was just 75.

I don’t think my father, who was always keenly aware of his humble origins, lack of education and modest financial status, would have described himself as a successful man. Yet the church was full for his funeral and many spoke of how much he meant to them and how appreciated were his contributions and essential good-heartedness. His passing merited a front-page tribute in the local newspaper. My Dad was more respected, more loved, in his lifetime than I think he knew.

Clarence Junior Mohror

Clarence Junior Mohror

After 15 years I still think of and miss my father every day. I am grateful for all the things he taught me … about working hard, taking responsibility, giving back. I miss hearing him refer to me as “the little one.” I miss his bear hugs. I miss his not-heard-often-enough laugh. Psychologists say that women, when choosing a life partner, look for a model of their father. Perhaps that’s why I remain a spinster; I’ve never found a man to match my dad. As they say, a good man is hard to find. I am blessed to have known, loved and been loved by one of the best.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.

My Daddy

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June 19, 2016 · 1:24 am

Who’s In Charge Here?

Last evening, surveying the carnage the children had created in the living room, I was moved to mutter that age-old maternal lament: “Where have I failed?” In a fit of pique, I even threatened to put the miscreants under the deck to fend for themselves. Don’t call social services; my kids are cats, not homo sapiens, and the threat was an idle one. I’d never expose my darlings to the Cold, Cruel World – and they know it.

I currently share my life with two cats. People often seem surprised to hear this. Perhaps my catlady zeal makes them assume I co-mingle with at least 40 felines – or perhaps it’s just the way I smell. In any case, though I tend to think three is the optimal number of cats for a single household, for the time being I am making do with my pair.

Separated at birth?

Separated at birth?

My younger furkid is Remington, named for the 1980s TV character played by Pierce Brosnan. I like to tell him he’s a swank tuxedo cat (he has shaky self esteem), but the patchy quality of his black and white markings suggests an unseemly liaison with a Holstein in his family history. I guess I will discourage him from participating in that PBS “find your ancestors” show. Despite his questionable lineage, Remington does have an almost regal air. Long and sleek, at repose on his belly with his long front legs extended and his sharply pointed ears erect, Rem resembles one of those statues of the Egyptian cat goddess, Bastet. His jaguar-like appearance belies his personality, however. Far from a powerful predator, Remington is, to put it bluntly, a wuss.

"Oh ... were you trying to work? I don't care."

“Oh … were you trying to work? I don’t care.”

On the other hand, Peep, my little, orange girl, is a smug bully. You wouldn’t guess it to look at her. Like her human mother, Peep is soft, round and a bit slovenly; she sprawls rather than lays, and on a subway she’d be the guy manspreading over three seats. While noises as subtle as a heavy sigh send Remington scrambling for the basement, Peep confronts a howling vaccum, grinding garbage disposal or shrieking smoke detector with indifference bordering on contempt.

Modern technology meets immovable object.

Modern technology meets immovable object.

Lately Peep has made it a point to assert her dominance over Lucifer, the robot vacuum, whom she seems to believe is another cat, hairless and even rounder than herself. When Luci begins its rounds in the living room, Peep deliberately plants her considerable bulk directly in the machine’s path and stares it down. If a cat could talk, Peep surely would speak with a tough Brooklyn accent: “You want a piece of this? I got your rotating brushes right here.”

A few mornings ago I was getting ready for work. My bedroom door was closed, but not shut (after 50 years of settling, no vertical line of our house remains in plumb, and there isn’t a door in the structure that actually latches without the Herculean effort of simultaneously lifting and pushing it into position). I was standing on one foot, wrestling the other into the leghole of my granny panties, when the door was pushed open and Peep muscled his way in, followed by Remington. It reminded me of Lenny & Squiggy’s characteristic entrance into Laverne & Shirley’s apartment – Peep played the role of swaggering Lenny, while twerpy Rem was the Squiggish sidekick.

wassupThe duo disregarded my immodest appearance – indeed, ignored me entirely – and marched across the room like they own the place (which, for all intents and purposes, they do). Up onto the bookcase under the window, blithely knocking off a stack of CD cases in the process, and into the windowsill. Hearing the ruckus, my mom (who seems to believe me to be in feeble health) called urgently, “Did you fall?”

“Nah. Just the cats tearing the place apart,” I responded.

Again?

‘Nuff said.

Mom and I have grown resigned to the fact that we are the least important inhabitants of Mohror Manor, functioning largely as domestic staff. I’m not bothered; it’s actually nice to know one’s place in the grand scheme of things. I’m content to accept how Peep has arranged the Great Chain of Being in our household – with cats perched at the very top.

"I'm the King of the world!"

“I’m the King of the world!”

Bastet would approve.

 

 

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Serving Size = One (plus Cat)

Cat Lady Saturday Night

Cat Lady Saturday Night

The food company I work for, previously known for cheese balls, dips and beer bread mix, has lately turned its focus to meal solutions – that is, answering the age-old question, “What’s for dinner?” Our meal collections include products and recipes to provide wholesome, homemade fare for a family of four.

It’s a great idea, but not a perfect fit for middle-aged spinster cat ladies. For me, the answer to, “What’s for dinner?” is likely to be, “Toast.” (Or cereal. Or ice cream. Or all three, if it’s a holiday.) It’s not so much that I don’t appreciate good, wholesome food (though in fact I don’t); the bigger issue is quantity. Recipes simply aren’t designed for solo eaters. My very sensible mother, who spares me the pain of having to deal with this problem by cooking for both of us, has suggested that I simply cut down the measurements on recipes. However, this requires a facility with basic mathematics (Fractions! Division!) that I only marginally possess, and frankly can’t be bothered to bone up on.

It does help that I’m not one who craves variety in my diet; I’m happy to eat the same leftovers for every meal as long as the supply lasts. A few years ago I made a fettucine alfredo with heavy cream and butter. The recipe produced an enormous quantity of noodles and sauce, and I subsisted on this for many days. By the end of the week the cream had curdled and the butter separated out into a greasy puddle under the noodles; I was guaranteed a raging bout of dysentery 20 minutes after every meal. But I finished the whole thing, by God.

My brainchild

My brainchild

In a misguided effort to compete with the bright, young whiz kids who sail up the corporate ladder past mid-careerers like myself, I suggested to a company exec that, instead of jettisoning our old trade in cheese balls, brownie mixes and pound cake, we might repurpose them. I envisioned a whole new line catering to a very special niche market: people like me. Instead of kits containing products and recipes for entrees and sides, these collections would cater to the unique needs of past-our-prime singletons with feline companions, to wit, sweet, fatty and carb-intensive comfort foods. I even pitched a name for the campaign: LonelyTime: Cheese Balls for One. Each collection would come with a cheese ball mix, chips and dip, brownies and a can of tuna for Fluffy. Shockingly, my proposal was met with … blank looks. Hrumph. Just wait until I form my OWN company and become a bajillionaire. In the meantime, it seems I won’t be celebrating that hoped-for promotion to Vice President of Specialized Marketing.

Until I get my enterprise off the ground, I’ll go on making too much food and filling little plastic containers of leftovers. I’ve already got a freezer full of ‘em. At least when the Zombie Apocalypse comes, I’ll be well stocked with provisions – at least until the electricity cuts out. I wonder if Walkers like cheese balls?

Too-Much-for-One Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole

Adapted from this recipe

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Ingredients

Ingredients

1 lb. spaghetti
1 Tbsp. Tastefully Simple Roasted Garlic Infused Oil
1 lb. ground beef
2 Tbsp. Tastefully Simple Onion OnionTM Seasoning
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp. Tastefully Simple Mama Mia Marinara Sauce Mix
1 packet Tastefully Simple Roasted Garlic & Herb Cheese Ball Mix
1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
½ cup sour cream
1 cup shredded Mozzarella or cheese of your choice

Method

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease or spray a 9 x 13 or equivalent baking dish.
  2. Cook pasta according to package instructions; drain.
  3. Heat Roasted Garlic Infused Oil and Onion Onion Seasoning in a large skillet on medium-high heat.
  4. Add ground beef and brown, crumbling the meat as it cooks. Drain when browned.
  5. To the beef in the skillet add the diced tomatoes and Mama Mia Marinara Sauce Mix. Simmer.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together cream cheese, sour cream and Roasted Garlic & Herb Cheese Ball Mix
  7. Layer as follows in the baking dish: cooked pasta, cream cheese mixture, beef mixture. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top.
  8. Bake until bubbly and heated through.

 

Finished dish

Finished dish

Serve with Tastefully Simple Salted Pretzel Roll Twists with Shallot Tarragon Compound Butter.

Salted Pretzel Roll twists, brushed with Shallot Tarragon Compound Butter

Salted Pretzel Roll twists, brushed with Shallot Tarragon Compound Butter

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