A Pity Party

(I write poetry for people to enjoy. In other words, I haven’t a clue where the periods, commas or semicolons belong.

                              A Pity Party

Come to the party.

We’ll stand on the chairs.

We’ll dance in the garden.

Dig our toes in the sand.

Forget yesterday and tomorrow.

Just soak up the sun.

Come without clothes, if you like.

We’ll blow out the candles and talk about life.

We’ll share party platters filled with mistakes.

Eat casseroles from left over dreams and sour grapes.

Dessert will be whipped jealousy, smothered in envy.

Come to the party, we’ll commiserate.

* * * just saying

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A Chirping Bird Pandemic


Chirping Birds

A Chirping Bird Pandemic

My neighbor phoned to ask if she could borrow two rolls of toilet paper. Her TP order on Amazon was back ordered. The delay? It was coming from China.

I was face timing with my doctor when I overheard the request and my husband announcing he would leave the items outside our front door. Afterwards, I expressed my concern, and he reminded me. “She made us face masks,” he sighed and said, “relax I gave her the smaller rolls I bought at Walgreens.”

Life is certainly different.

I have stepped away from posting due to several life altering events and my attempt to write a novel. Writing a novel, for me, has been like saying I was going to build a cabin in the woods and waking up to discover I constructed a lean to. No worries, I am not giving up. Writing is my pass-time.

Oprah Winfrey said, “If the Pandemic hasn’t affected you something is wrong.”  I never thought I would face time a doctor. The session required a how-to discussion with a staff member who was working from home and unable to put me on hold. Long pauses filled with silence occurred during our conversation until she said, “I hear birds chirping.” I was sitting outside as I have been for most of the Pandemic. It was sweet and we savored the moment.

I count my blessings, thankful we have not been affected greatly.

Mornings, I enjoy a cup of coffee surrounded by quiet. Slowly the sun creeps up to announce its presence through the mist. Then tangles in the trees. The leaves create a mosaic on the grass while the birds sing. In the background a motorcycle’s dual pipes crescendo in a drum roll. I imagine Leonard Bernstein conducting nature and hear a rhythm band triangle chime. It is a horn honking.

How has the Coronavirus affected you?

Oh, by the way, my novel will have a happy ending.

. . . . just saying

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Not Really Italian Bolognese


My husband’s cousin and her husband are in Florida visiting and will be coming for dinner. We have not seen them in ten years. I am making Bolognese Sauce, which might be bold since according to my husband, aka, Mr. Wonderful, I am not really Italian. He is right. My father’s side was Irish, English, German; my mother’s side all Irish on her mother’s side and all Italian on her father’s, at best, I am one-quarter Italian.

However, when my friend Marshal returned from Italy, where evidently all he ate was Rigatoni with Bolognese sauce; and now in withdrawal, I sent over a pot of sauce. He phoned to say, “Claudia, you make the best Bolognese sauce I have ever had, can you teach me?”

The next Sunday, I went to his house with my “Not Really Italian Bolognese Sauce” recipe written down in my head. Like many cooks I rarely follow a recipe exactly and make changes according to what is in the pantry.

Start with what is referenced as the trio; equal amounts of finely chopped onion, celery and carrot sauteed in pan lightly covered with olive oil. The pan needs to be hot enough that you hear or see a piece of onion sizzle. This takes about five minutes. Remove the trio from pan and brown two pounds of chop meat. Remove chop meat from pan, discard any liquid and brown or scorch at least 2 TBSP of tomato paste. You’ll smell the scorching.

Then add the trio back into the pan, de glaze the pan with ¼ cup white or red wine, add the sauce, meat, dried spices and whole garlic and simmer, for several hours. If you like thick sauce leave the pot cover off, for a thinner sauce leave the cover on.

Not Really Italian Tips

  • Use jar sauce, low in sugar or two cans of crushed tomatoes and or add chopped fresh tomatoes.
  • Add a whole carrot while sauce simmers then remove before serving if not sweet to your taste
  • Add whole garlic to sauce when simmering. I don’t chop or brown the garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried Basil and 1 or 2 dried bay leafs, even dried basil will make the sauce bitter if you add too much
  • Red or White Wine whatever is open

. . . . Just Saying

Acerbic (Flash Fiction/Short Story)


Polar Fox

“Acerbic” draws on personal experience and is published in FWA, Let’s Talk by Peppertree Press.

The inspiration for this story came after a doctor’s appointment. His nurse is habitually terse and abrasive, so much so that, I asked, “Have I offended you in some way?” She looked at me strangely having no idea she treatment others poorly.

The challenge for the Anthology was to use a dialogue format to present your short story.

The conversation below is between two women in a doctor’s waiting room.



“This is unacceptable!  My time is of value, too.  Why aren’t you complaining?”

“I was told the doctor was running late when I signed in.”

“This is ridiculous.  I’ve been waiting more than twenty minutes.  My appointment was for nine fifteen.  What time was your appointment?”

“Well, I’m not sure; I think nine thirty, why?”

“It’s better if everyone is out of sorts.  I can complain for you, make something up, like your dog is in the car, sick and needs to be taken to the Vet.”

“Reading here is as enjoyable as anywhere.”

“Boy, you people are annoying, must you be so perky and pleasant?”

“You’re upset.  Why don’t you thumb through a magazine?  There’s a travel article about Hawaii in this one.  Have you been there?”

“You think looking at pretty pictures of places I can’t afford to travel to will help me… what?  Be happy I have to wait for a man, I pay to tell me I’m sick.  And looking at colorful advertisements won’t help either.  I’m Acerbic.  My parents and grandparents, on both sides, were Acerbic and proud of it.”

“Acerbic?  Is that … American or … a religion?”

“Acerbic is a way of life.  You got a problem with that?  Our dispositions are generally crabby.  We find fault in others quickly and enjoy being sarcastic.”

“Golly gee, everyone feels crabby from time to time.”

Golly gee?  Golly gee, we’ve been sitting here over a half hour.  Can’t you pretend you’re a little annoyed?  That wing back chair looks awful uncomfortable.  These doctors are all the same; think they’re better than the rest.”

“His nurse said the doctor had an emergency, it sounded serious.  Are you really Acerbic?”

“Our whole neighborhood is Acerbic.  We don’t like friendly.  People yell, ‘Don’t park in front of my house, jerk’ and threaten, ‘If your dog pees on my grass, I will call the police!’  Although things are changing.  Someone, I can’t find out who, moved my garbage pail out of the street on a windy day.”

“You don’t mind if I read my book?’

“Of course I mind.  I get it.  Why not say shut-up?  Add please if you have to.  It’s easy; watch my lips, ‘Will you please shut-up!’ ”

“No, tell me about your life.”

“Actually I had a great childhood.  We owned a small cabin not far from Route. 95 below the Georgia border.  Dad named it Acerbia.  It was a retreat where we could be sour and discontent on weekends and during vacations.  You know, say nasty things about neighbors and relatives.”

“Was that fun?”

“Are you kidding, of course, the best.  By the way, they call me Unfortunately.  I’m Unfortunately Fortunato.  What’s your name?  Not that I care.”

“Unfortunately is a first name?  And Fortunato your family…?”

“Mom wanted an Acerbic name, nothing cheerful or common like Hope, Joy or Grace.”

“That had to be a difficult name for a child.  Did she think it was a mistake?”

“No, Difficult and Mistake are my brothers.  Mother named them good, too, because Difficult is in prison and Mistake, chronically unemployed.”

“Was that a surprise?”

“They still haven’t called anyone.  All they do is talk on the phone.  Someone else has to complain.  You can do it.  I like your pink eyebrows.”

“My eyebrows are pink?”

“Yea, they match your lipstick, compliment that bluish tint in your hair, and look cool on a woman your age.”

“My hair isn’t blue! I’m not that old.”

“Isn’t that book you’re reading in large print?”

“It’s easier I don’t have to remember my glasses.”

“Most seniors get a little forgetful.  It’s normal, not a problem unless you can’t remember what glasses are.  You know glasses magnify things, right?”

“I know what glasses are for and I didn’t forget them.  I do not need them to read a large print book.”

“Did you hear that?  The receptionist called Ms. Fortunato.  That’s me, Unfortunately.  Doc’s ready for me.  Have a rotten, day”

“You too, and my eyebrows aren’t pink!”

P.S. I welcome your comments.

Making A List


Making a list

     You remember the Christmas song about Santa making a list, checking it twice, and finding out who is naughty or nice. I am sure the melody dances through your mind now. It did for me as Gayle King interviewed  BJ Novak, well-known television writer of the show “The Office” and discussed his new app, “The List.” Novak believes since we think in lists, the app is a fun way to express and entertain each other. He is right.

      Gayle King wanted to play and came up with a list of “When Hell Freezes Over.” On the list was to start wearing flats, a cooking segment on CBS, and for Charlie, Norah and herself to test their survival skills on Celebrity Naked and Afraid. I am not familiar with the show. Novak commented,  the app has grown into a form of self-expression and lets us peek into someone’s mind.

My mind jumped in with a list of:

Questions to ask Donald Trump

• How long does it take to do your hairdo?
• What hair spray do you use and do you own the company?
• How would you describe nincompoop?
• What other adjectives can you add to the statement, “Hilary  Clinton was the worst, the worst Secretary of State ever,” to convince voters it is true?

     Then I became bored, started to feel nostalgic and instead opted to make a list of:

Things I miss about Christmas

• Decorating the tree on Christmas Eve
• Moving the tree so missing branches are in the back
• Stringing popcorn and cranberry into garland
• Hanging candy canes on the tree
• The threat of coal in the toe of my stocking
• Taping Christmas Cards around doorways
• Little Christmas
• A Glockenspiel or Angel Carousel
• Carolers singing outside your door
• Retail, and every other store being closed

      Our family decorated the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve singing Christmas Carols. My father secured the tree lights on the branches than all the children selected glass ornaments carefully laid out on the couch to hang on the tree. The final touch, tinsel arranged one strand at a time by Dad with the Glockenspiel spinning in the background. The heat from lit candles produced a single chime as the angles circulated it’s base. I was taken with the sparkle and filled with glee by the bell like sound.31LpBWCtecL

     We did not attend midnight mass because it was at midnight. We went to bed excited about Santa’s visit.

     In the morning, or rather the middle of the night, my brother, Victor, would wake us to report on what Santa had left. He was the one brave enough to risk sneaking downstairs hoping not to be caught by Santa or our parents.

     There were no million flashing lights or hundred dollar gifts under the tree.

. . .  just saying


http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/bj-novak-explains-inspiration-behind-the-list-app/BJ Novak



Sweet Memories

Goodies  (Not the Franklin but close)


I love the way a dear friend captured the nostalgia of eating ice cream and asked her to guest blog. The inspiration came from her love of ice cream and July being national ice cream month. Please leave a comment for Glenda as she doubts others will find it enjoyable. 


              The Franklin Ice Cream Store by Glenda Cunard                                                                                                                                                                             

“You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream.” Isn’t this the mantra for most little children in the good ole USA?

I remember my twin brother and sister sitting beside me in the back seat of our car and all of us chanting this little rhythm every time we got close to an ice cream store.

It all started in the 1930’s when I was about 4 yrs old and lived on Bellview Street in Indianapolis. (Now a rundown dilapidated street with shabby rental homes.) But, it in the golden days of my childhood there stood the most exciting building in the neighborhood, The Franklin Ice Cream Store.

In the afternoon, after our bath and clean clothes we would sit on the front porch waiting for Dad to come home. One could look to the left across the street and see the 8th Christian church, which was catty-corned from Public School 51. When you looked to the right there stood the Franklin ice cream store.  It was on the corner of Bellview and 16th street. A busy intersection that we could never go down alone. I thought it the most beautiful ice cream store I had ever seen. It looked like something from a fairytale. It was a rather small white stucco building with a most unusual roof. The roof was sculptured all around the top like small snow-capped mountains with icicles hanging down on all sides of the building.

Just looking at the building made you feel cool. At least two times a week and always on Friday evening after dinner, the family walked to the Franklin ice cream store. We looked like we were following the Pied Piper, Mom, the two older girls, me, and my twin brother and sister all following Dad down the street.

This store did not have 31 flavors, sugar-free, all natural ingredients, Neapolitan, glutton free or any other strange-sounding names for ice cream. It just had three flavors – vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. But that was enough for us.

People ordered  at a small window, much too high for a small child to reach, trimmed in icy cool blue. Our father was a very tall man and we stood around his legs while he ordered for the family; and on a hot summer day it felt like the line would never end.

Some children would run, like all children do, around the beautiful white wrought iron tables and chairs, until someone would hand them their cones. Then they would sit in the princess style chairs. But, we never got to sit in them because we always walked to get our ice cream and then go back home. Dad often got three scoops – one vanilla, one chocolate, and one strawberry. That was the ultimate in cones.

Our cones were just one flavor, mostly vanilla. Mom and the older girls got 2 scoops, me and the twins got one scoop. I can hear Dad still saying as we walked back home “hurry up and lick those cones before they melt and Mom saying “don’t let that ice cream get on your clean clothes,” of course that was impossible.

I still close my eyes, lick my lips and have sweet memories.


 . . . . just saying,  Thank you Glenda!

Meet Me In Fancy Gap

Rainy_Blue_Ridge-27527Fancy Gap is a small town just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. The name stayed in my head until I conjured up this short story

Aging & Attitude

   The thick boardroom doors to Lion Technology fly open and the boss, Leonia, the grand dame, ceremoniously joins us around the water cooler. We are on break from a strategic planning session. As head of finance, I know to shut up and let Leonia be center stage. Sales representatives, holding paper cups, listen to her important chatter. I linger for a refill as the others return to the meeting room. Leonia whispers, “John, things have changed.”

   She wears a dress of invitation; black and white stripes up and down the skirt, then across the bodice; the zipper concealed in a side seam. She drains the cup with her head thrown back, and runs her tongue full circle around her lips, “Meet me in Fancy Gap.”       

   I'm still in love with her. Memories of our get-a-way cabin go with her high heel tapping as she saunters away.

   Later in the day, I study a quarterly report conflicted, and anticipate a blind copy of an email Leonia will send to her husband, Hector, telling him her plan.

    In the past, I have reneged on my ultimatum, leave Hector or else. Leonia believes I am easy prey.  

   Sure enough, late in the afternoon a bcc copy appears saying; What time are we dining with Sandy & Bob on Sat? Have a division mtg. on Mon in Roanoke. Thought I’d leave early Sun morning for some R&R at Doe Run Cabins. Love u

   The email brings back feelings put aside.

   Once, I asked her, “Why do you cheat on him?”


   “Yes, your husband. Why are you cheating on him?”

   “The day I met Hector he wore wool slacks, a blue pin striped dress shirt, a navy sweater draped over his shoulders and loafers. A pulled together look only a model carried off, hector did.”

   I grew impatient for a real answer mesmerized by her words.

   “Is this cheating? You make me happy. When I’m happy, Hector’s happy, real happy.”

   “So we’re doing Hector a favor? You said you loved me, what about love?”

    “Love? I love everything you do.” Sex ended the conversation.

   On Sunday, the drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia is spectacular. A combination of crimson, gold, amber and tangerine colored leaves compliment the clear blue sky. I stop in Floyd to have breakfast at the Blue Ridge Café.   

   A lively group of men occupies a white metal table near a large front window with the establishment’s name scrolled in black cursive. A waitress greets regulars with, "Good Morning," and saves the "I’m Lorie, your server," for strangers like me. A piece of gray duct-tape across the thumb section of her hand acts like a bandage to protect a cut.

   Time is frozen; it could be 1965.

   I study the menu halfheartedly and listen to the men banter.  

   Jake, a robust man with a white beard and railroad cap makes manly man noises. I imagine him scratching his head and passing gas, it is not pretty. Luther wears suspenders,and his thin curly hair is pulled back in a ponytail. Several other men's stomachs lay beneath the tabletop, threatening to tear their pants. They discuss Obama Care then move on to love.

   Luther clears his throat and says, “What negative feelings do you bring to the relationship?”

   “Are you talking about me throwing the remote at the Giants or Jane catching it?” Jake chuckles.

   “You could’ve cracked the flat screen.” Lorie comments refilling water glasses from a pitcher positioned sideways.

   “No shit, blame Manning. He fumbled the ball.”

   Lorie gives me an hope you are good tipper smile. Says, “Ready to order?”  

   Her look makes me flirt. “How’d you hurt your hand?”

   “Burned it, you know what you want?”

   I want Leonia to stop jerking me around, but do not tell Lorie, and order the Blue Ridge Everything Omelet.

   Thinking about Leonia, I flip open my smart phone, and access her email account. I send Hector an email. Subject: Miss you/Meet in Fancy Gap. Then write a seductive message about missing him. I sign it Love u, and press send. All unbeknown to Leonia. 

   It is a short drive from Floyd to Fancy Gap, MP 189 on Blue Ridge Parkway. The 2010 census counted two hundred and thirty-seven citizens in Fancy Gap. Doe Run Cabins are on Keno Road. Familiar with the area, I arrive around 2pm, and see Leonia’s car parked outside our cabin. Leonia greets me with a big hug and smile. When I tense, she says, “We’re not at Lion Technology, relax.”

  I want to know, “What’s changed?”

   Leonia takes my hand; we go inside and sit on the bed. The black granite tops in the galley kitchen, flat screen TV, and the four-poster bed made with all cotton linen are familiar.

   “It’s serious. Hector has inoperable brain cancer and is probably dying. It may not be long. We'll be together, like you want.”     

   “Probably dying? Geez.”

   She cries. I lose control. We are under the sheets making love when her cell rings.

   It is Hector. He has received my email. I squeeze my hands with apprehension, and listen to their conversation.

   “So you miss me.”

   “Terribly” Leonia gets out of bed and puts on my t-shirt juggling the cell phone.

   Hector’s laugh is hearty and robust, “Well miss me no more, I’m outside your door, knock, knock.” The sound is loud and clear.

   Leonia eyes widen in panic. She hesitates waving her arms for me to hide, then opens the cabin door.

   Hector is wearing a big smile, Ralph Lauren jeans, and Rockports. He hugs Leonia and looking over her shoulder our eyes meet. “John? John, from Lion?”

   His happy expression changes to confusion then no need for an explanation.

   “Hector, I’m sorry about your cancer, please understand.”

   “Cancer, what cancer, why are you here?”

   Later, when Leonia is unpacking she informs me. “Hector wants a divorce. It’s ironic how things work out. Why don’t we buy a cabin on Groundhog Mountain, I’ll call that realtor, what’s her name? You know, she advertises on a billboard on route 8 outside of Floyd.”

   The cicadas produce a symphony sound locals say predict tomorrow will be hot and sunny. The sun sets and stillness surrounds me, grounds me. The Blue Ridge Café Men are back in my head with Luther’s question; what negative feelings do you bring to the relationship, as I leave and close the door.  

. . . just saying

“What Is Next?”


Aging & Attitude

   A reader inquired, “What’s after Z is for Zigzaggery?” It is a good question.

   The end of the Alphabet Series is an opportunity to take inventory and give “What’s next?” some thought.

   My first post, “Overactive What?” was published in October of 2011. Rereading the piece, I saw room for improvement but laughed. I have picked out some of my favorites: “GPS and Your Hippocampus”, and “We Fallen and Can’t Get Up”. You can find past posts under archives, if you click on a date. Please tell me your favorites.

   I started claudiajustsaying to acquire writing expertise, and planned to post every day, but quickly learned writing well was not easy. Writing is hard work and excruciating if you lose creativity. My challenge? I edit, or rewrite as I write, so it is a slow process and placing a comma a lengthy proposition. Reader comments and encouragement keep pushing me to transform a feeling experience to words.

   During the past two years, I have published ninety-five posts and acquired decent writing skills. To date I have 524 followers, views from over 83 countries, and was Freshly Pressed in August of 2012. Freshly Pressed is similar to being chosen prom queen; your post is featured on the Word Press Home Page. The results, over 1200 views, 97 comments and 87 likes on that day.

   What is next? Well . . . a return to my roots, or using personal experience to inspire a post, for example; getting dressed takes me forever. Because? I constantly put my bra on inside out, then wonder if other women struggle with this faux pas.  No one really wants to hear about my underwear, however the thought gnaws in my head.

 . . . . just saying

   P.S. I look forward to your comments and remember you can comment anonymously if you feel shy. Please click the like button if you enjoyed the post. Likes increase a bloggers status.


K is for Kaleidoscope – The Alphabet Series

Aging & Attitude

New Thoughts on Words

Remember looking through a kaleidoscope as a child, the view filled with wonder and excitement.

For me, it was like going to Lowe’s Paradise Theater on Fordham road in the Bronx. There was a hole in the ceiling that allowed patrons to peak at the moon and stars while enjoying a movie. I did not know it was pretend until a teen, and stepped outside to daylight after the show.

As with a kaleidoscope, once the device met my eye, I traveled to an exotic place where imagined shapes and colors lived.

The kaleidoscope, invented by David Brewster; a scientist experimenting with light polarization around 1815, quickly became a popular toy with sales reaching two hundred thousand in three months time.

Webster’s dictionary defines a kaleidoscope as an “optical instrument which by an arrangement of reflective surfaces exhibits an infinite variety of beautiful colors and symmetrical forms of its content.” The effect achieved by angling mirrors towards each other to create multiple reflections.  Usually bits of glass or paper are put in the cylinder’s “object chamber” to be reflected, although it could be anything, including liquid.

Paul Dewa explains how a kaleidoscope works in his you/tube video.

We are familiar with the inexpensive cardboard and wood cylinder type but there are many others resembling art forms.

Frank and Janet Higgins worked with stain glass for years and called their studio “Kaleidoscope”  but did not design and build kaleidoscopes until the mid-90’s. Their aim is “to make high-quality playthings for grown-ups, concentrating equally on innovative design, the internal images and the external presentation.”  That means, they strive to be the best.  You can view the slide show at Picture Trail.

What makes a kaleidoscope fascinating is perception. We reflect differently on the same thought or memory, and the hope that change will make life better.

….just saying



G is for Gaudy


Aging & Attitude

The Alphabet Series – New Thoughts on Words

Gaudy is a word I heard as a child. My mother used the adjective to describe styles not to her liking. Designs she considered garish, ornate, flashy, kitschy, tasteless, vulgar, and extravagant. Our neighbor’s orange velvet sectional is a good example. The French Provincial Couch covered in plastic stuck to the back of your thighs in the summer and cracked when you sat in the winter. The iridescent fluted fruit bowl filled with shiny fake red apples and ornate oranges that decorated their dining room table was in my mother’s words, “poor taste.”

She told me “Gaudy is derived from an eccentric architect, famous for constructing some God-awful cathedral in Spain.”

The true impact of the word is captured by a visual of the works of Antoni Gaudi, the architect. As an adult I was fortunate to visit Barcelona and view the site she talked about.

Gaudi, born in 1852, is famous for his elaborate ornate architectural style. The Sagrada Familia  has been under construction since 1882 and expected to be completed in 2024. That is a 142 year project funded by private donations.

My mother knew about Gaudi but learned her sense of style from her father, Achilles DeSalvo, Pop-Pop to me.

Called Charlie, and never trendy, faddish or snazzy, he knew how to dress.  His family owned a tailor shop in Manhattan called DeSalvo & DeSalvo.

I loved him dearly.

Summertime, Saturday morning, Pop-Pop would take the Long Island Railroad to the Westbury station. He arrived wearing a blue seersucker suit, straw hat and spectator shoes, an afternoon addition of the Herald Tribune under his arm.

He wore cuff-links and his nails were polished.

We waited with great expectation for him to remove his suit jacket, and get comfortable in a chair. Surrounded by his four grandchildren he would unwrap one Mounds Bar and divide each half,  in half  for us to share.

But the best was yet to come.

Concealed in a breast pocket was a cigar.  The  cigar ban was presented to one of us and worn as a ring, for the day or week…depending on how long we made it last.

We never moaned or complained. We stood with hope and felt his love.

My grandfather got me my first real job at the Plaza Hotel.

Occasionally he would say, “Meet me on the northwest corner of 55th street and Madison on Tuesday at noon, and we’ll go to lunch”.

I did.

There was nothing ornate, flashy, gaudy or extravagant about his love. It was genuine. His style memorable.

 ….just saying