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What happened? Where am I? What day is it? Sunday? How did that happen???

We were just packing for our two-day road trip to east Texas, and leaving LA to drive right along thousands of other Holiday commuters, when suddenly I saw a cop right behind me blinding me with those scary blue and red lights. The Police officer pulled us over, asked for my driving papers and warned us of the upcoming snow blizzard. He also suggested we stop in the nearby town over night to wait it out. The next thing I knew I was holding a citation ticket for speeding worth almost $300. Merry Christmas!

Once we got over the 300 bucks assault, we chose to keep on driving for as long as we could. We did reach the southern tip of the blizzard and were faced with only two options: to either stay over night in a motel off the highway, or to change the route while adding minimum 5 hours to our journey. We chose the latter despite horrible driving conditions and directly related skyrocketing stress level. After a close to 20-hour day on the road, we finally arrived at Jason’s parents house at 1 am.

Then the fun part began!

Among the MILLION of Christmas gifts laying under the tree at  Dr. Jimmy and Linda Harkins’ house, Cosmo instantly found the one meant for him. His nose never fails. He started sniffing a little box containing his brand new balls and sat by its side ever since like the Queen’s Guard in front of Buckingham Palace.

Minutes before we destroyed the boxes so neatly dressed in seasonal colors, Dr. Jimmy Harkins set the mood with a few Christmas songs he played on the piano. What he really did, unbeknownst to him, he saved his family from going deaf when Agi decided to try her dubious and long forgotten skills when trying to play “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” (or something) on the piano. Yes, I sat down on the bench, stretched my arms, cracked my fingers, cleared my throat, and hit the first note. It was instantly apparent I had no clue how to operate the instrument in front of me. Jason’s father took over, bless his heart, in an attempt to show me a few things. Everyone present sighed with relief.

Jason’s 3-year old nephew, Connor, along with his younger brother are both going through the Spiderman phase. Everything in their world, and I mean EVERYTHING, is about Spiderman. You should see Connor’s underpants he’s wearing under those cute jeans.

The box with the new balls is right behind that fuzzy white ass. “I ain’t moving ANYWHERE until somebody opens that damn box already!”

It took many hours and lots of stamina to go through all the packages stuck under the tree. Despite how generous and well informed Santa Claus was, I could be distracted for only so long. My stomach wanted food!  Starved and exhausted by RECEIVING PRESENTS, we sat at the dining table at last and stuffed our faces with Christmas delicacies. There was Smoked Turkey with Dressing and Gravy, a Strawberry Jello Salad, Green Beans, Devil Eggs, Cajun Chicken, Pasta Salad, Biscuits, and my Polish contribution – Mushroom Soup.

Food coma prevented me from taking photos of the commotion around the kitchen counter that served as a buffet and consequently the Christmas feast. Additionally, I only have so much time this morning to report on the events of the last few days before the rest of the gang wakes up and the circus starts all over again. To give you an idea of the energy level in the house let me just say that last night, after sniffing all the new people and places around, then guarding his gift under the tree, then chasing his new balls, then being chased by two munchkins, then chasing his new balls again, and responding to everyone calling his name, finally Cosmo crashed and burned like I’ve never seen him before. He snored louder then Jason and his mother together. Jason’s mom slept at the lake house some 10 miles away mind you.

I hope to be back here with the Mushroom Soup recipe tomorrow.

Ho-ho-ho!

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I farted around all day today. I did nothing. I sat on the couch and watched Cosmo snore. He sleeps with his head resting on a pillow and the rest of his body curled up in a fetal position. I mean, is he a person? Frankly, I’m convinced my dog is an incarnation of my future child. The thought is just as terrifying as it is thrilling.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve had a few dreams with Cosmo as my son… sort of. Once, he came to me as a young boy with angel-like curly hair and blue eyes. I knew I was about to go through this ultra scary transition into a new world. Suddenly, I got a phone call and it was Cosmo ringing from THE OTHER SIDE. He explained to me that he wasn’t able to make the transition for me despite how much he wanted to. However, he assured me that he was there waiting for me on the other side with his unconditional love, trust, and comfort. Don’t say a word, I know…!

Another time, I dreamt that Cosmo was … a horse … stunning … a true stallion. We walked together through a field of grass where a group of youngsters was playing soccer. You ought to know that Cosmo in my waking life is an excellent soccer player. You must see it to believe it. Tens of hundreds have been amazed thus far, and news of his talents keeps spreading across the land. In the dream, my HORSE went after the soccer ball and started playing the game! The guys were getting irritated, as he was chasing their ball. I yelled “Please, stop playing for a second so I can get him and take him off the field!” I kept calling “Cosmo! Cosmo! Come here!” When I finally fetched him, he lay down on his back clearly making his belly available for scratching! I’m still talking about a horse here, pay attention; it was a BIG HORSE BELLY. After we got up, we walked side by side, and again I felt his love, like of a son for his mother. I asked him to carry me. He stood up on his hind legs, the beautiful horse that he was, took me in his ARMS and carried me with the utmost care and tenderness. It was AMA-A-Ziiiing. I felt his “arms” shake gently, which I instantly addressed asking if I wasn’t too heavy (the true woman in me spoke!). He simply replied “No”.

If you haven’t yet, you should call the authorities now. My straightjacket size is 8, but if you can fit me in a 6 you’ll really make my day! When I think about it all, I’m torn whether I should see a psychiatrist, go through a series of parenting classes or check myself into Cesar Millan’s Dog Psychology Center. I CAN HANDLE THE TRUTH! Bring it on.

JACK NICHOLSON

I don’t mean to get sentimental, but all that talk of Cosmo and being a mom, and then Jason falling asleep with his head on my belly makes me think of family, of home. HOME is the place I’ve always longed for, since I flew away from my childhood house when still just a chick with ruffled feathers and hay filling the space between my ears. For over a decade, I lived the life of a gypsy, scared of committing to one place. I broke into a cold sweat and my voice instantaneously rose three octaves when asked to sign a THREE-YEAR car lease.

Then I met Jason, and from DAY ONE we’ve been inseparable… uhhhh … sort of. Right off the bat, Guatemala kept us apart for two weeks. Then a Texas wedding got in the way, followed by more Texas interruptions that summer. Next, a Polish wedding across the ocean kept us high and dry for a week. And last but not least, Berlin rose like a WALL between us. It’s not the time apart, however, but the moments together that made us realize early on that I’m his PEA and he’s my CARROT.

For the first time in my adult life was I able to understand what HOME meant. Carried on memories wings, I traveled over the mountains and plains, over the ocean and back through time to my childhood days, back to the homeland in Europe, with all its customs and traditions, textures and fragrances, joys and sorrows. I finally appreciated my roots, my heritage, my own family. Suddenly, HOME wasn’t just the future house that My Love and I were to build together and the children we were to conceive. It all came together then, and my definition of HOME finally embraced where I come from along with what I bring into my future.

Hence, my urge to bring back the flavors I learned as a child into my life here in the US of A. It’s not an every day desire, but here and there I crave me some POTATO PANCAKES, or BARLEY AND MUSHROOM SOUP, or OPEN SANDWICHES just like granny used to make, and then the simple and delicious KOGEL-MOGEL to cure my sweet tooth. Nothing, however, and I mean nothing brings me back home faster than a fresh and deeply fragrant link of KIELBASA (or Polish sausage as you know it). Nooo, I do not make it myself. Are you crazy? I’m lucky enough to live in a multicultural city where there exists a Polish Grocery Store with Polish Kielbasa among other VERY YUMMY POLISH THINGS.

Kielbasa

When I first discovered the store in Santa Monica, I immediately packed Jason in the car and drove there to present him with the tastes of my youth. As soon as we walked in, we were enveloped by the strong and tantalizing fragrance of kielbasa. There were many kinds to choose from, and boy did we try them all. After that Polish overindulgence, we never went back.

Many months went by, we moved to a new home, and befriended our neighbors. Peter turned out to be Polish. Of course, we talked food and even fed each other many Polish meals that we tried to recreate. Today, however, Peter did more than just run over for a bowl of Sauerkraut Soup. He stopped by the Polish Grocery and brought back a few pounds of KIELBASA. When he walked into my kitchen, the whole room filled with the aroma of smoked meat. Cosmo lost his mind. He forgot he was a dog, stood up on his hind legs (sounds familiar?) and danced around Peter as if it was the only way he knew to walk, his nose glued to the plastic bag in Peter’s hand. Any minute now, I thought, he’ll speak up “WOMAN, GIVE ME A PIECE OF THIS THING THAT SMELLS SO GOOD I DON’T EVEN KNOW MY NAME ANYMORE!”. As soon as my dear neighbor left, I put my head inside the bag, got down on my knees, inhaled deep, and …lost consciousness. The next thing I remember, Jason was scraping my kielbasa-stoned body off the floor, the plastic bag the meat came in still stuck to my face…

It took a day or two to recover my senses, and only then was I able to slice the links in a civilized manner to arrange them on top of toasted bread, and embellish the sandwich with cheese, tomatoes, and pickles. My tongue, once again, afforded me a trip back home for a quick but delicious visit.

Sausage Sandwiches

If you live in Los Angeles, or only pass through at any moment in your life, make a point of stopping by J & T European Gourmet Food – the Polish Grocery in Santa Monica. They are located at 1128 Wilshire Boulevard. It will take care of your KIELBASA CRAVING good! That’s a promise.

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