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 …
Photo by Joseph Sohm for Shutterstock

Red's Head

When I read the "Breaking News" email about the passing of Colin Powell from complications from COVID-19, I realized that many of us didn't even know he was being treated for illnesses that weakened his immune system. To me, he always seemed to be one of those incredibly strong and resilient men that could overcome anything, as I knew he served as the country's first Black national security adviser (during the Reagan administration), chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (under President George H. W. Bush) and secretary of state (under President George W. Bush).

I first became aware of Powell during Operation Desert Storm and was living in Hong Kong at the time (shortly after I married a Brit, Shell assigned him to the Far East). I can remember being halfway around the world from home while watching seemingly non-stop news briefings featuring "Storming Norman" Schwarzkopf, with his "larger than life" details about the extraordinary precision of the airstrikes. At the time, it almost seemed more like a computer game than an actual war.

However, Powell had a far greater impact on me as he exuded calm mixed with steely determination, projecting an air of confidence that you sensed came from experience and deep personal commitment. And at this time of war and conflict, he provided a comforting feeling of power and control.

Black's Head Black

I will not pretend to be a history buff, nor will I reflect on Mr. Powell's greatness as a military figure, statesman, and trailblazer. I will leave that to others. But, several things stand out about Powell as a man. First, he put America ahead of political party, stating, "I'm just a citizen who has voted Republican, voted Democrat, throughout my entire career, and right now I'm just watching my country and not concerned with parties."

Thanks to Punchbowl News, I learned that as a young man, he worked in a toy store, and the owner, a Russian immigrant Jew, admired the young Powell so much that he impressed upon him the importance of getting an education. Powell was so touched by this that he stayed in contact with him for the next 50 years. (I loved the sprinkling of Yiddish phrases as Powell tells the story.)

Of course, I could not help but smile rewatching this video of Powell along with two other motorheads, Jay Leno and (at the time) Vice President Biden "racing" Corvettes. And, may explain why one of my many favorite Powell quotes is, "Always focus on the front windshield and not the review mirror." But in his passing, you cannot help but look back over all he did for our country.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. May he rest in peace.

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

Red's Head

I can't believe that Halloween's almost here, and the house isn't already decorated. Can I use the fact this is the first year I'm an empty nester as an excuse?

Black's Head Black

Does that mean that you are not going to decorate?

Red's Head

No! But without Sawyer home asking about it or prodding me by pulling the decorations out of the garage, it's still just sitting on my "to do" list. But fall is my favorite time of year, and I love seeing the house with all the Halloween decorations, so it will happen.

Black's Head Black

I would think you could just put out the inflatables and be done with it.
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Image by Arseniy45 on iStock

Red's Head Red

I know Columbus Day is a federal holiday, so banks are closed, but otherwise, it's barely celebrated. Growing up, it seemed like it was an important part of fall, not only because we had off from school, but because I can still remember (yes, those straight-A student school memories) learning about America being discovered by the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus. Especially since he was trying to find a new way to get to the "riches" of Asia (without having to sail around Africa) and found the Americas instead! I still recall hearing that some people thought the earth was flat and his ships would fall off, and although it may not have been many people – it still made a lasting impression. Regardless, he became one of the most famous explorers in history.

I love history, so I loved everything about the holiday and even remember the names of the three ships, Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria, all these decades later. And although I've long forgotten most dates in history (after knowing them for the test, of course), the year 1492 is etched on my memory, as I suspect it is for many people.

Black's Head Black

Obviously, Red needs to "update" her history on Christopher Columbus, and I am not talking about "obscure facts" like that might not have been his real name. Information has been discovered (pun intended, although this is a serious situation), leading to significant discussion and controversy about Columbus "the person" versus the romanticized hero originally depicted in history books.

As you would expect from any explorer traveling the world, there would be encounters with indigenous people. However, historians now believe Columbus' interactions were despicable (my word, not theirs) due to his use of violence and slavery, and forcing people to become Christians. In addition, he exposed the New World to diseases and other complications in what is now referred to as the "Columbian Exchange."

So, in keeping with the spirit of today being a holiday to celebrate, a "replacement" holiday, Indigenous People's Day, was created. And, although technically not a federal holiday, it does fall on one and hopefully will help us all refocus. In fact, this past Friday, President Joe Biden issued the first-ever presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples' Day, stating,

"For generations, Federal policies systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures. Today, we recognize Indigenous peoples' resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society."