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–at home, currently reading “Someone: A Novel”, by Alice McDermott

Just as we settle into one way of living, opportunity knocks…and my better half is off to the (rat) races again.  That rat.

Which means that we’re taking a month-long hiatus from retirement … with me living home alone in the core of a busy city… and he, at some faraway solitary hotel surrounded by sand dunes and the Persian Gulf.  Early reports inform that there is nothing to do there.  Nothing around for miles…except for a few shops.  Alas, a shopper he is not.

To my way of thinking, it seems my darling husband has drawn the short straw this time around, no matter which way the straw is sliced… whether in comparison to other business destinations he’s traveled to… or whether the other slice consists of staying home with me.  What will be interesting to learn… is whether or not said short straw is the last straw… that is, whether this straw is enough to break the camel’s back of all future business travel.  I can only confess that I’m glad I’m here… rather than there… even though it means that we will be apart for thirty-one days, by the time our scotched retiring days resume.

It amazes me, in a way, to think that it wasn’t that long ago that my husband always had some business trip up his starched sleeve. Why it wasn’t unusual for him to be away one week out of every month.  While I can’t say I ever liked his being away, I was always content to remain home rather than accompany him.  Even when he visited the likes of Thailand and Beijing and Hong Kong, I was glad to stay behind.

In former days, there were good reasons to remain home. There were children to raise.  Then there was my taxing career … those heavy reading and writing and arithmetic riddled days of international tax consulting.  In later days, there were a host of time-consuming volunteer activities.  And later still, the flimsier excuses of my gardening and home remodeling projects.

In other words, I had no true interest in joining him on his business travels.  I knew that I’d be on my own much of the time — since he’d be tied up with business during the days… and many evenings, too.  And since my past experiences with traveling solo proved to be more exciting in theory than in practice… it was easy to stay home.

Travel disorients me.  So much so that I once disembarked a Swiss train at the wrong place and time… and ended up admonishing myself for almost an hour, while lugging heavy bags and walking the tracks to the next station in hopes of getting back on track.  Then there was the time I was persuaded to take a “private” taxi cab out of La Guardia one cold wintry night, realizing too late I was not traveling in a licensed cab at all.  Even now, I can recall that feeling of tremendous relief when I arrived at my hotel alive and all in one piece… even with my sense of peace shattered in pieces.

I could go on…. but why humiliate myself?  Suffice it to say that Rick Steves would never hire me.  And that without my husband beside me as tour guide and companion, I’m fairly certain that I’d never have dared to traveled to most of the places he and I’ve been privileged to experience together.  Italy.  Ireland.  Australia.  New Zealand.  Alaska.  England.  Paris, more than once.  Greece… later this year.

But as I write these thoughts, I see that maybe there is no long straw to be had… this time around.  There is only short… and shorter.  Because home feels less like home without my husband’s presence.  And, though wonderfully busy by day, life at home these last few evenings makes me feel as if I, too, am off living in a foreign land.

Enough with writing (or is it whining?) about short straws and solo travels in foreign places….and time to offer a bit of redeeming space for a recipe for my husband’s favorite butterscotch cream pie.  No short straws with this lovely pie … no matter how it’s sliced.



Butterscotch Cream Pie

3 cups milk
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup cornstarch, scant a tsp.
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup butterscotch chips, softened in microwave*
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp butter
9 inch baked pastry shell

Mix eggs yolks and milk in a bowl and set aside.  Soften chips in microwave — medium setting for 70 plus seconds, until creamy when stirred.  In a large sauce pan, mix all dry ingredients with a whisk.   Stir in milk and eggs.  Mix well and heat on medium high heat, stirring constantly.   Mixture will thicken in 5 to 7 minutes.  When thickened, add vanilla, butter and softened butterscotch, stirring constantly.  When completely mixed, pour into baked pie shell.  Serve with whipped cream.  Keep leftovers refrigerated.

*Note:  I use Guittard Butterscotch Chips