Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Trifle: The Perfect Summer Dessert

According to the dictionary, a “trifle” is something that is of little consequence–a mere insignificance. But this rich, often indulgent, tiered dessert is anything but. The treat dates back to the 1700’s and came to the US via the British when it was served to the wealthy.
Over the years, trifles have evolved–crumbled biscuits became cubes of pound cake which became crushed coconut macaroons, which became lady finger cookies. And vanilla custard was replaced by lemon pudding which morphed into whipped cream, and chocolate mousse, and so on. Berries, peaches, and lemon curd were overtaken by chocolate curls, crushed brownies, and shards of toffee. 







Trifles are a perfect dessert to serve over the July 4th weekend–the ingredients can be home-made or store-bought, and they can be assembled a day or so in advance. In fact, the dessert gets better with a little time under its belt. The traditional deep, round trifle bowlsreally showcase the individual layers, but if you’re making the dessert for a crowd, a large, deep Pyrex dish would be equally good. Putting together individual mini trifles in tall iced tea glasses or large individual sherbet cups are a nice touch as well. (Once you’ve prepared all the individual ingredients, you can even have the little ones help you assemble them.)
We’ve searched the web and picked out a collection of favorites that really showcase the versatility of this long-loved dessert. And how fitting that it be served on Independence Day, as we celebrate just one more thing we’ve wrestled away from the British!
Strawberry Chocolate Trifle from frugalfanatic.com uses crumbled cake and pie filling.
strawberry chocolate trifle
 “Better Than Sex” Trifle from imtopsyturvy.com uses chopped Heath Bars and chocolate cake, and looks luscious!Better Than Sex TrifleMini Tiramisu Trifles are from mybakingaddiction.com uses crushed cookies and can be made in individual glasses.mini individual triflesThe traditional Mixed Berry and Angel Food Trifle is from natashaskitchen.com and can be assembled in “30 minutes!”angel food cake trifleRed, White, and Blue Trifles from recipegirl.com are the ones the kids can pitch in and help with. They’re adorable!  berry trifles

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Coconut Browned Butter Cookies

I am going to put it all out there…I am not a fan of coconut. BUT, I am a fan of thin, crisp cookies and Browned Butter, so when my friend Helene Bludman posted a link to these Coconut Browned Butter Cookies from Smitten Kitchen (one of my favorite food websites), I took notice.


Browned Butter puts its pale yellow, insipid cousin to shame. It is butter that’s gone on a vacation…to the tropics…and it’s come home all tawny and burnished, and smelling goood. It’s a little wild, a little flirty and sputtery, so it needs to be watched carefully as you melt it down. First comes the foam and the sputter, and then comes the caramelization process and the “sun tanning” begins. Your kitchen begins to fill with a nutty aroma and just a second before it goes over the edge into burnt butter oblivion, you grab that hot sucker of a pan off the stove and pour everything (including the browned bits at the bottom) into a glass container (yes, anything plastic will melt).

    “Browned Butter is butter that’s gone on a vacation…to the tropics.”



Browned Butter is a treasure. Once it’s cold, it can be beaten into submission with sugar and eggs and folded into flour to make a totally awesome cookie dough. It is not a one-trick pony, however…it can be tossed with pasta or spooned into risotto to make a savory dish that much richer.   These Coconut Cookies should be crispy, not chewy, so bake them until they are a deep russet. And if, like me, you think you don’t like coconut, get over yourself. You will love these cookies! (BTW, it might be gilding the lily, but a handful of very bitter dark chocolate chips would be a great addition. Fold them in at the very end.)   

COCONUT BROWN BUTTER COOKIES 
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)   
1 cup (2 sticks or 225 grams) unsalted butter 
2 tablespoons water 
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (125 grams) granulated sugar 
3/4 cup (145 grams) packed light-brown sugar 
1 large egg 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (175 grams) all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
Slightly heaped 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt 
4 cups (240 grams) dried, unsweetened coconut chips (if you can't find coconut chips, use sweetened coconut and decrease sugar quantities by 1 Tbsp. each)
1 cup dark chocolate chips (opt.)

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off the pot as it seems to take forever (more than 5 minutes) but then turns dark very quickly. Once it is a deeply fragrant, almost nut-brown color, remove from heat and pour butter and all browned bits at the bottom into a glass measuring cup. Adding 2 tablespoons water should bring the butter amount back up to 1 cup. Chill browned butter in the fridge until it solidifies, about 1 to 2 hours. 

 Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Scrape chilled browned butter and any bits into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add both sugars and beat the mixture together until fluffy. Add egg and beat until combined, scraping down bowl as needed, then vanilla. 

Whisk flour, baking soda and salt together in a separate bowl. Pour half of flour mixture into butter mixture and mix until combined, then add remaining flour and mix again, scraping down bowl if needed. Add coconut chips (and chocolate chips, if using) in two parts as well. Scoop dough into 1, 2 or more (a 2-inch wide scoop for bakery-sized cookies works best) balls and arrange a few with a lot of room for spreading on first baking sheet; use the back of a spoon or your fingers to flatten the dough ever so slightly. Bake first tray of cookies; 1 tablespoon scoops will take 10 to 11 minutes; 2 tablespoon scoops, 12 to 14 minutes, the 2-inch scoop used at the bakery, 14 to 16 minutes; take the cookies out when they’re deeply golden all over. If cookies have not spread as much as you see above, stir 2 teaspoons more water into cookie dough, mixing thoroughly, before baking off another tray. (See note below for full explanation.) This should do the trick, but if it does not, repeat the same with your next batch. Once you’ve confirmed that you have the water level correct, bake remaining cookies. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 1 to 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Cookies keep for up to one week at room temperature. Extra dough can be stored in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for a month or more. 

About the water: When you brown butter, water volume is lost, but not all types of butter contain the same amount of water. Most standard American grocery store butters (any non-European style butter), 1 tablespoon of water per stick (1/2 cup) of butter is a sufficient replacement. However, should you find that your first batch of cookies is too thick, a little extra water is all you’ll need to get the texture right.

(This article originally appeared in Betterafter50.com)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Toss the Gloss: Finally, a Beauty Book for 50+ Women!



After spending over forty years in the same industry, and rising to executive

positions that would ultimately revolutionize that industry, you’d expect a person to have amassed a treasure
trove of information for women over 50, and even some “dirt.”

beauty book for 50+ women

Andrea Q. Robinson is that person, and her years as the ultimate insider in the world of beauty, makeup, and skincare have given her enough fodder and then some to write Toss the Gloss: Beauty Tips, Tricks & Truths For Women 50+. Her resume is more than impressive: former chief marketing officer of Estee Lauder president of Tom Ford Beauty, beauty editor of Vogue, and president of Ralph Lauren fragrances. As president of UltimaII, she spearheaded the natural (“naked”) makeup trend, and it is this adherence to looking unfussy and overdone that is the central theme of her book. She ascribes to the Japanese concept of “Wabi-Sabi,” the beauty of imperfection, and making the most of what you’ve got in a low-maintenance manner.

Part tell-all, part memoir, and part source book, Toss the Gloss talks about Robinson’s life–the glamour and the glitz, but it also gets to the nitty gritty of the cosmetics industry and tells it like it is–all while concentrating on us, midlife women. She makes no bones about the disconnect that exists between the “suits” and our audience. “The people running these corporations are afraid to address our specific needs with anything other than antiaging creams…the fifty+ ‘real women’–are the largest demographic, with more money to spend. They need to wake up and realize that we’re worth their investment.”

     "Some things do get better

      with age, and we are one 

      of them."


I grew up in a home with a mom who was a cosmetician, so makeup and skincare were a big part of my life. I have always enjoyed reading fashion magazines, not just for the fashions, but for the articles that discussed new and innovative skincare treatments that were entering the market. While the book didn’t go into detail about all the chemical properties of lots of lotions and potions, what I found to be really helpful were Robinson’s lists of which products were useless for our age group, and which advertising slogans were bogus. (“Moisturizing,” yes, “Clarifying,” no.)

She provides a good amount of gossipy tidbits and inner circle secrets (the “gift with purchase” deals are only there to lure you in, and one research lab in each corporation usually creates the same ingredient that is widely used in both their low-and high-end products), but the real value lies in the primer chapters that provide instructions on how to apply head to toe products. (The drawings here were probably the one thing I did not like about the book–for someone with “two left hands,” such as myself, actual photographs would have been more helpful. Regardless, Robinson explains all techniques in grand detail, so if you’re not visually inclined, you can still get the hang of it.) Also very helpful are her recommendations of products and color for each skin type and hue.

I applaud Ms. Robinson for finally addressing the ever-changing beauty needs of the 50+ woman. In this book she remains true to her philosophy, and does so, “without fuss.” I so appreciate someone from the industry who actually believes “less is more” when it comes to makeup for our demographic. And while the author does touch upon actual “facelifts,” she spends more time on the facelift you should be giving your makeup bag and bathroom vanity. There’s been talk of Robinson starting her own makeup line, for, of course, women our age. I will definitely look into that when the line hits the stores.

This is a book that I will come back to again and again. I plan on taking it with me the next time I go shopping for makeup, and like a good cookbook, I’m sure the pages will eventually become stained with colors and product as I thumb through it. As the author says, “Some things do get better with age, and we are one of them!”

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sharing My Writing Process...



I’ve been in a bit of a writing slump lately...um, what else is new? SO, when my online buddy, Connie McLeod mentioned she was participating in a little writing exercise/blog roll that documented writers’ creative processes, my first reaction was...”what PROCESS?!?” And then I decided that this would be just the kick in the booty that I needed to put it all out there on virtual “paper” and get my creative juices flowing again. At the least, it will get me out of the kitchen and away from the snacks that are calling my name.

WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?


I have had an urge to share my thoughts and ideas with others since the day I stood inside a Brooklyn phone booth at the age of 8, and not wanting anyone else to hear me, called Random House Publishing Company to ask if they would take a look at a book I had written. I haven’t a clue what happened to that book, but I remember the thrill I got when the person on the other end said, “yes,” she would be happy to read what I wrote. Knowing someone is reading my work, hopefully enjoying it, and hopefully taking something away from it keeps me going back for more. 

The short story was primarily my genre in college, where creative writing was my minor. I never considered myself to have a long enough attention span to write a War and Peace or even Son of War and Peace. My muse was the sound bite queen and...and my writing is just like me...short and “sweet.”

My mother, a lovely woman, but a narcissist nevertheless, would often ask, “Why don’t you write something about me?” I would scoff at her, but recently, I gave up the fiction and took on the real nuts and bolts of my life--I became a memoirist. (Talk about being a narcissist, who would ever want to read about the things going on in MY life?) So here I am, loving the advice of Marion Roach Smith and the work of memoirists such as Laurie Colwin and Calvin Trillin, hoping my writing can come within even one iota’s reach of theirs. And my mom, she’s my favorite subject!


WHAT AM I WORKING ON?

Not much. I have a few articles in the hopper, and a few in my head that have yet to be brought out. I will be writing a review of a Beauty Book for 50+ women soon, and until then I will continue to create the pithy Tweets and Facebook posts that I write for Betterafter50.com, where I am the Social Media Manager.


HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?

I admire the writers I know who can read an article in the New York Times and then sit down and write a critique or response. I leave that arena of writing to them because that is just NOT me. I am not a very deep thinker or politically minded, nor am I a rabble-rouser. (Although I have been known to write some pretty heated letters to the editor of our local newspaper when I felt my kids, or someone’s kids were not being treated fairly.)

I am a former pastry chef, so I love to write about anything that has to do with food, and the memories that foods evoke. I think I write for the everyman/woman. I like to think of myself as the “Bruce Springsteen of the short memoir writers whose parents were Holocaust survivors.” People can relate to what I write about--childhood, marriage, parenting, midlife angst--I don’t hold much back, but just enough for people to insinuate their own life story into my own life story. Just enough for them to be able to see themselves in my tales, and say, “Yeah, I remember that too.” A touch of humor, a touch of sarcasm, and having the “most” unique parents about whom to write probably sets me apart from others. 


HOW DOES YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORK?


If you were paying attention, you will remember that I said I had no process. And I meant it. An idea might come to me at the most inopportune time--at the gym, in the shower, coming out of the ER after I had just spent the day there thinking I was having a heart attack. I mull over the theme and let it “sit” for a while.

What might not be the most realistic way of writing, but most often works for me, is that I write part of the article in my head--mostly the bullet points. I think about it, again, in the shower or while I am running at the gym and after I’ve thought enough, I then write it down. No outline, no ”word web,” just free writing. And then I edit, and edit, and edit, and edit. Until I think I like what I see and feel comfortable with sending it out to the masses.

If I am writing a serious piece that requires facts, numbers, statistics, and quotes, I do the research. But I was never a big fan of writing term papers, and writing of that ilk comes a little too close to what I generally stayed up all hours of the night stressing over during college.


And now I turn the gavel over to a wonderful writer and one of the kindest and genuine people I know, Cathy Chester. Cathy’s lifelong passion has always been writing, but it was put on hold until her son was a junior in high school. It was then that she finally listened to her inner voice telling her to get back to writing.  She decided to go back to school to earn a certificate in patient advocacy, and combined that with her blog, An Empowered Spirit, where she pays it forward to her beloved disability community. She also writes about living a vibrant and healthy life during midlife, animal rights, social good and the joy of living. She is a Contributor to The Huffington Post (Post50/Impact/Disability Travel), and blogs for MultipleSclerosis.net, Manilla.com and Boomeon.com. She was recently named one of the "Top Ten Social HealthMakers in Multiple Sclerosis" by ShareCare, a new platform created by Dr. Mehmet Oz. Her work has appeared on BlogHer, Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop, The Friendship Blog, and other online magazines.

Here are links to other writers in this blog tour. Read what they had to say about their process.

Helene Bludman

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Monday, April 28, 2014

6 Things I Learned From a Day in the ER

I have a friend whose husband says she suffers from IDS…Instant Death Syndrome. In other words, she’s a hypochondriac. I have been known to be affected with the same syndrome–as a child, a headache often meant a brain tumor and a stomach ache meant acute appendicitis. It’s a wonder that until last week, I’d only been to the ER once…and that was for a legitimate reason.

 When severe chest pain awakened me from a deep sleep, I didn’t think much of it. I am one of the “30 million people” who suffer from acid reflux, and being awakened by heartburn is pretty common. It usually occurs very early in the morning, but this time the clock said 1:30–way earlier than I can remember it ever happening before. As I lay in bed, I realized that my shoulder was bothering me, and it was then that I remembered a video I had watched earlier that day about Heart Attacks.

  Would it be crazy of me to head over to the Emergency Room at the nearby hospital and just have them check it out? 

“No!” said my husband, who, believe me, has been witness to many of my bouts with IDS. So, we hopped in the car and entered the Twilight Zone. I checked into the ER and at 2 am and then actually spent the day there, getting pricked and prodded, and monitored. Luckily for me, it was deemed that my heart was not the culprit. (It was more likely that the Kale/Brussels Sprouts Salad from the previous night’s dinner aggravated a possible ulcer.) The experience wasn’t too horrible, but don’t get me wrong, I would have much preferred being at a day spa (and the fact that I got a little running in via my stress test didn’t mean that I could count that as one of my gym days). There were a few things that I did learn from my day away from home: Unfortunately in some ways, and thankfully in others, the ER in real life, is nothing like the ER on TV.



  6 Things I Learned From a Day in the ER:

1. McDreamy was McNowhere No offense to all the wonderful men who toil away in the Emergency Rooms around the country, but not one of those guys I encountered came even close to resembling Doctor McDreamy. I would have settled for a Dr. Doug Ross (George Clooney) lookalike, but alas, I struck out in that area as well.

 2. Nurses are great at multitasking It made me smile to know that even while drawing blood, installing an IV, and taking my blood pressure, nurses can multitask and still deviate from the situation long enough to notice what color nail polish I was wearing. At least four of them complimented me on it. (BTW, it was Smokin’ Hot by Essie.)

 3. Men do not suffer in silence As I sat there trying to block my pain and nausea with deep breathing and meditation, my efforts were very nearly thwarted by the moaning man curled up in a ball on the chair across from me, and another guy who was behind a curtain screaming way above a stage whisper.

4. I am allergic to Latex It has always been my experience to answer, “No,” when any nurse asks whether I am allergic to the tape they use to adhere various “things” to my body. And so it was on that day–however, now that I have square and circular-shaped welts all over my chest and abdomen from the EKG electrodes, I think from now on I will answer, “Yes” to that question.

 5. Nurses are truly angels of mercy While waiting for one test or another during my day at “Med Spa…NOT,” I was able to listen in on various conversations between nurses and patients. What I often heard brought me to the realization that some of the things nurses have to do to get their patients ready before a doctor will even look at them are downright disgusting! When one nurse passed me entirely covered in what looked like a HAZMAT suit, carrying a basin and sponge, I almost shouted, “Give those guys and gals a raise!”

 6. Hospital food is not that bad If the only thing you’ve put in your mouth all day has been gelatinous, white and chalky, and citrusy/salty, the food that you eventually are given in the ER is pretty yummy. (Provided it is wheat toast and butter.)

Here’s the video I watched that made me both profoundly paranoid and knowledgeable about women and heart attacks. I suggest you watch it too, because it could save your life. And while we’re at it, take note of the Heart Attack Symptoms–They’re a little different than the ones men have, and again…it just might save your life!




Heart Attack Signs in Women
 Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest.
It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

  If you have any of these signs, don’t wait more than five minutes before calling for help. Call 
9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.

This article originally appeared on www.Betterafter50.com

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Friday, December 20, 2013

My Mom's Fur Coat

My mom’s fur coat had been hanging in my front closet ever since I moved her out to California–six months before she died. When we wanted to get our very seldom used cold-weather coats out, we’d push it to the right, and when we wanted to get our luggage out from the crawl space in the back of the closet, we’d push it to the left. We’d been pushing that coat back and forth for ten years, without even noticing it…without me ever wearing it. When the time came for us to relocate to the East Coast, and for me to start purging, I finally had to take the muscrat by the tail, so to speak, and deal with the fur coat.

My husband thought I might take it with me, after all winters in Boston are mighty cold, and “lots of people there wear fur.” “No way,” I said. Even though I had nothing against wearing vintage, that black Persian lamb coat with the wide gray and black beaver cuffs was too big, too old-fashioned, and too REAL FUR!

 It would be very hypocritical of me to claim I was bent on making an ethical statement since I have no compunction about wearing leather shoes and jackets. And I would never scoff at a gift of the latest Miu Miu tote, but I would never be caught wearing a fur coat in public…well, aside from that time during a winter vacation in NYC. I had borrowed a friend’s beautiful parka, never thinking that the “fur” around the hood was real until a group of PETA members surrounded me on Fifth Avenue and followed me down the street yelling, “Bimbo in fur, bimbo in fur!” (Boy, did my kids and my niece get a kick out of that one. Thank goodness none of them were old enough to have iPhones at the time, as I’m sure the video would have been an overnight sensation on YouTube.)





 My mom’s coat represented so many things to me, so much of her personality and my childhood were wrapped up in that coat. I can remember the feel of the curly fur as I would sink my face into it. And the fur cuffs made me laugh as I would brush them across my nose when Mom wasn’t looking. The black and white paisley silk lining was chosen specifically for her. She had a matching scarf that she draped around her neck and tucked in, just so. So valuable was the coat, I believed, that her name was hand-embroidered on the lining in a fabulous scrolled font…”Blanch.” It was hers and only hers–and in case some mistaken soul should try to abscond with it from any of the various coat check rooms she hung it in, her personal ID was there for all to see.

 Back in those days it was de rigueur for my mother’s friends to own a fur…in fact many of them had many such coats. Their furriers were treated as members of the family  (what five-year-old even knows the word “furrier” these days?!?) My mother had her own furrier–he treated her almost as regally as he treated her coat. And when the weather grew warmer Mom’s coat, like all good fur coats, went on a paid vacation to “summer camp,” otherwise known as cold storage. (Didn’t everyone’s?) The coat for Mom was not just something that kept her incredibly warm, it was a symbol of prosperity and stature.
A grand statement and a fierce slap in the face of those shadowy, haunting bogeymen and women who tried to vanquish her flame during the Holocaust. She had made it to Hell and back, and now she had the fur coat as proof of that emergence. The ethical aspect of wearing fur did not hold a candle to the ethical dilemma I dealt with when deciding what to do with the darn coat. How could I get rid of something that represented my mother’s battle cry of defiance?

 I’ve come across quite a few letters that were written by daughters who have wrestled with similar predicaments as my own. One woman had her mother’s coat made into a jacket so she could keep her mom’s embroidered name intact. Another mentioned that she found an animal preserve that uses old fur coats as bedding for rescued weasels and beavers. And yet one theater lover donated her coat to be used on stage during period plays. I like all those ideas (although I can’t say Mom would be too thrilled to know some old beaver was sleeping on Blanch’s pelt.) But I have to admit when push came to shove, the coat went into a storage facility with the rest of our things. And there it hangs, once again, its future in question. Knowing someone on Mad Men was wearing her coat would probably make her happy, but I know my mother would rather I just keep it as a memento.  And I just might…but really, I don’t need the actual coat to remember…the memories I have of her are already embedded in my mind.

 Does anyone else have a fur coat they inherited?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Relocation Anxiety...It's Not Only For Humans

(This post previously appeared on Betterafter50.com and The Huffington Post.)


One of the hardest things about relocating from West Coast to East Coast, from house to apartment, from suburb to city was not my adjustment... it was dealing with the adjustment of Dashiell, my dog. As crazy as it sounds, that almost had me running for the hills... yes, the hills of Beverly!
I know that owning a pet is supposed to be good for you... in fact, just last week the American Heart Association released a statement claiming that owning a pet, a dog in particular, was "'probably associated' with a reduced risk of heart disease," and I get that. You have to walk a dog, thereby getting some exercise yourself, but the article never mentioned how having a dog might also be harmful to your mental health!

I realize now that it was pretty unrealistic (and somewhat unfair) of me to assume that Dashiell would just adapt to any new situation, regardless of how different it was from his old one. Why wouldn't he?... When we first rescued him, didn't he boundlessly race at us on the heels of a 17-hour drive from Utah to California? Didn't he seem deliriously happy with us, even though he had just met us?
Why would I think a six-hour plane ride in a crate would send him into a tizzy? Why would I think that getting on an elevator, while strange people would continually be coming in and out, would cause him to growl and lunge at said strangers?

Why would I think that being left alone in a unfamiliar apartment with the door closed while I went to the market or the movies would cause him to chew the door and eat an entire leather purse?
Silly of me to just assume that everything would be copasetic. After all, I didn't exactly chow down on some leather and wood, but my adjustment wasn't what you might call a "piece of cake," either.
Historically, dogs have been looked upon to be servant-soldiers, combining the attributes of a best friend with that of a true guardian. I began to realize that in his new situation, Dashiell was not being allowed to perform his old doggy duties -- guarding the back yard, front yard, upstairs and downstairs of our lives, so he was adopting new roles for himself. The problem with those new "soldiering" roles was they were not going to fly in a high-rise in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Relocating with children in tow has its own challenges, but if they are old enough to communicate their fears, and ultimately make new friends, that's half the battle. We had done that once before, and it all worked out perfectly. When it became clear to me that Dashiell was trying to communicate his fears, in his own destructive and scary way, I realized that if he was to remain a part of our family, a trainer would be needed.

That trainer, and time, have considerably improved his situation, and thus mine. Yes, he still lunges at (some) neighbors, but I always have a snack on hand and that usually diverts his attention long enough to calm him down. He's learned to sit and wait at stoplights and he is now used to all the city sounds that used to make him wince. The crowds no longer bother him, and the elevator no longer gives him the heebie-jeebies.

He doesn't mind being left alone at home. (He knows that once I'm gone he can sneak into our spare bedroom and sleep on the bed-I'm onto him, though.) No other purses or leather objects have suffered the same violent death as did the first purse, although tissues and toilet paper have to still be kept out of sight.

Awhile back, the two of us were on the elevator and a neighbor came on and asked how he was doing. "He has some good days, and some bad days," I remarked. And since we are in MIT territory and amongst the most erudite of erudites, her reply was not merely, an "Oh, I see," but,"Your dog is a metaphor of life."

And you know something, she was right. But taking it a step further, I would say, Dashiell is a metaphor of me. I have not totally adjusted to my new situation, but my attitude has definitely improved. Some days are better than others, and when some neighbors (or on a VERY rare occasion, my husband) annoy me, a nice snack does help. I've made some very interesting friends, as has Dashiell, and going to doggie day care every once in a while has really helped him become more sociable.

The relocation road has not been an easy one, for either of us, but with a little training, a rub behind the ears, and lots of love, we both will make it through.