Bagels. Whether it's memories of growing up in New York or because decades later it's still one of our favorite foods, these approximately three-inch circles of carbs make us, well, happy. So, when Red was catching up on her New York Times reading and came across the article, The Best Bagels Are in California (Sorry, New York), the mouth-watering images made her think about growing up on Long Island, New York. And how we lived about half a mile from what will always be our favorite bagel shop. (It's long gone, although there's now another bagel shop in that location.)

It was a Sunday morning routine, but looking back, it was a perfect Sunday morning. It's late morning, I've just woken up, and I'm still in my pajamas. I wander downstairs to the kitchen and there on the table is the large brown paper bag of assorted bagels, still warm, because Daddy had just bought them on his way home from the golf course. Sometimes he'd still be in the kitchen and we'd talk about his game; sometimes I was alone. I'd sit down, having toasted my bagel, a huge schmear of Philadelphia cream cheese on each side (who cares, I was a kid, and who knew from calories, fat, and cholesterol in those days), the Sunday New York Times awaiting me. And there, at the kitchen table, I spent the next few hours. Eating and reading.

Of course, Red was curious if Black had the same memories, and although Black had fond memories of Daddy and his Sunday morning ritual of golf and bagels, she also remembered that Mom would have him cut her bagel into four or five slices as she was on Weight Watchers and wanted to make every bite count. Black has done the same thing for years (or, if eating out, scoops out the guts). Not to cut back on calories, but because she has always preferred the crust of bread more than the fluffy part. (Hmmm, is there a metaphor for life there?)

Fast forward, and we each went to out-of-state colleges and, ultimately, moved out of New York, and, in Red's case, out of the country. That meant it became the "Bagel Dark Ages" as once you moved away from New York, you soon realized there were no bagels to be found. Keep in mind this was before the days of online shopping and overnight shipping. And anyone who said frozen bagels are the next best thing when you don't have fresh isn't a bagel connoisseur. It'd be like comparing a Fiat and a Ferrari, both are Italian cars. (Guess which one of us came up with that analogy!)

When Black moved to Houston in the late 70s, there were bagels, but nothing like what she remembered but memories have a way of distorting things. But over time, more New York transplants arrived, and with them the art of making New York bagels. When Red arrived in 2001, she was thrilled to find authentic bagels. And, much to her great surprise, even bialys – bagel's lesser-known, but equally delicious, "cousin". Not only could bagels, once again, be part of her Sundays but she'd introduce this "tradition" to her two daughters. (Red will admit, health consciousness has turned it into a monthly "splurge" vs. a weekly event, and Black rarely eats them but when she does, savors every bite.)

So, back to where this started … The New York Times article, and if you can get past the pictures, you'll learn that California's "best" bagels are either made by New Yorkers or are based on bagels made by New Yorkers. Either way, there's no getting around the fact that for so many of us …

It isn't really about finding the "best" bagel as it's about the pure enjoyment of "experiencing" bagels …
Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

red head red head

I can’t believe it’s already May, which means hot and humid weather is just around the corner. All I can say is … ugh.

Black's Head Black

Not a scientific term, but descriptive nonetheless. And, I hate to break the news to you, but the science of climate change and global warming means summers will keep getting hotter.

red head red head

I can remember growing up in New York and summers being hot, but not like now. Of course, it didn’t help that Mommy didn’t run the air conditioning until it got into the 90s.
Keep Reading ... Show less
Photo by Epiximages on iStock

Black's Head Black

I appreciate that bullet points may not be the typical approach to Mother’s Day, but it seems appropriate to me …
  • Be sensitive to those people whose mothers may no longer be with us, especially given how many have been lost to COVID
  • If you have lost a mother, remember they are always with you – in your heart and in your memories
  • Remember Mother’s Day also includes all those “unofficial moms” and “mother figures” who are like second (or replacement) moms
  • And, last but not least, If you’re a mom, try to enjoy the day by doing something for yourself, as today may be the one day you can get away with it

red head red head

This year I write about Mother’s Day with a heavy heart and still much raw emotion, as our mom passed in December. My pragmatic side (yes, that’s usually Black’s area although she did sound somewhat warm and fuzzy above) knows that she had been 94 and led a full life, but that really doesn’t make it any less sad or fill the emptiness. But I find myself, when I least expect it and triggered by the most unexpected things, finding comfort in wonderful memories. And although Black’s first bullet point hits too close to home for me, I’ll try my best to focus on the other bullets.

Wishing all moms a very Happy Mother’s Day!

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

At speaking engagements, Black will often ask, “Who likes math?” followed by, “Who likes money?” As you can imagine, a lot more hands go up in the air for the second question than the first. But imagine if she asked if money made them laugh. It’s probably safe to say no one would say, “Yes.” Although they’d be wrong because people laugh (and learn) at basic, but potentially life-changing, stories about Red and how, when it came to money, she was clueless and intimidated.

It could be the story of Red putting her theater degree to good use as she freaked out about vocabulary. Especially since she was a straight-A student and avid reader who prided herself on her vocabulary. (If words set her off, Black could only imagine the “scene” that would have occurred if she had asked Red this handful of questions.) But Red’s financial crisis did prompt the ever-pragmatic Black to envision the power of a sitcom with entertaining money episodes because … Money IS A Laughing Matter!

Want to read other columns? Here’s a list.