Friday, December 15, 2017

40 Years Ago Today - December 1977 Part II

Things are rapidly changing in the Richard household as 1977 comes to a close. And 1978 won't be any calmer. We know my parents moved into their house on Foxglove Place back in the early 1970s and they probably knew by December 1977 that they would be moving out soon. It would be a few short months into the new year when they sell the house and move across the country.

The end of 1977, and into 1978, was not only the end of the young couple's time in California, but would also begin to be the end of their marriage. And this is where I need to set expectations and boundaries.

Historical Perspective
As a child of divorced parents, it was all I ever knew. My parents were divorced but they still remained friends with each other. It was never a "big deal" for me to have parents living in two different houses, two different states, or even two different time zones. It was just life. It wasn't until I got older that I realized I was one of the few kids lucky enough to have parents strong enough to survive a divorce but to also remain friends over the years. Even now, nearly 40 years later, they talk. It really is amazing how they put aside their issues, their problems with each other, and focused on me and doing what they felt was the best thing they could to give me the best life they could. It really is a huge sacrifice and I can't thank them enough for making it.

Because both of my parents are alive and because they are both active in my life and because I want to respect their privacy, I will be heavily redacting anything involving the divorce. I am often warned against over-sharing personal parts of my life but I find personal stories, especially my own history, amazingly educational and entertaining. As I've said before, everyone has a story and it deserves to be told. But by telling my story, especially at this stage of my life, I get into the stories of others. Personal stories. Emotional stories. Heartbreaking stories. I've read stuff that's made me cry. I've seen stuff that's made me laugh. But in the end, even though it's part of history, there needs to be some privacy involved. So I'll be keeping a lot of the divorce-related stories private. Not to prevent my readers from reading about it, not to hide history, not to show a facade of happiness, but to ensure my parents and I have a personal life that remains personal.

As a reader, I expect you to understand that you may not be reading the whole story. I've redacted certain parts of my posts already but nothing major has been kept from the audience. But as we get into more difficult times ahead, more and more will be hidden or just not shared. Expect more happier posts and material but also realize this isn't because I am trying to force positivity into the narrative but rather because I am purposefully hiding the rest of the story from you. And as you've read already, I have my reasons. So when things feel all happy, realize that there's more emotion that's unseen in the background.

I'm putting this out there now because December 1977 is a slow month as far as my research material is concerned. It's also a good point in the story to bring up the upcoming changes that are happening. I know I've talked about my parent's divorce before on this blog and in other places, but I felt the need to bring it up again in this storyline for those new to my story.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Family Recipes vs. Mobile Apps

As a fresh-faced house spouse that's a 41 year old man, I'm a bit of a contradiction. And I'm okay with that. People don't understand my role in my family and in society and usually give a look of confusion when I answer the "what do you do" question. But to be honest, sometimes I don't understand my role either.

You see, as a house spouse, or housespouse if you prefer, I am fighting decades, centuries, and maybe even millennia of tradition where the "man" is the provider and the "woman" is the house keeper. So giving me a confused look is totally okay. But I challenge your preconceived notion about me because I still feel as though I "provide" for my family, just in other ways.

One of the ways I provide is by cooking. And I have a long and checkered past with cooking. Once upon a time, back in the olden days when television was on low-definition and cassingles were easily found, my ability to cook was limited to the simple things. A bowl of cereal. A sandwich with cheese and mayo. A box of macaroni was about as complex as I got.

As I grew older, I expanded my cooking abilities by learning how to make hot cereal, adding ham to my sandwiches, and, when I wanted to live on the edge, put tuna in my mac and cheese. But now that I'm a house spouse and YouTube creator, I'm delving deep into cooking. Deeper than I ever expected to go. And I have the women in my life to thank for it.

My wife was, and probably still is, extremely cautious about my cooking. While she seems happy to teach me how to cook certain things, she doesn't like it when I don't follow the recipe. Or when I DON'T. FOLLOW. THE. RECIPE.

I have my reasons for changing things, namely that when I cook, I try to put things in that I like but also know that the kids might like. And sometimes I just want a change on that recipe that's been used and reused so many times we're all a little tired of it. But another big reason is food allergies. My kids and myself are allergic to a few things and adding or removing or otherwise modifying a recipe is pretty normal. Prime example is most cookie  and cake recipes from my grandmothers include nuts of some type. That's a big no-go in our house.

But back to the recipes. According to the Washington Post, they might be "dead." And I can sort of see their point. With Generations Y and Z, apps are the shiznit. Apps are so hip, that my daily crossword will use "APP" as the answer to clues talking about computer programs. Meanwhile, I still try to make "SOFTWARE" fit into three squares. Apps are so commonplace, they can do just about everything for you. And as the article suggests, cooking is one of those things.

Despite all of these things swirling around in the vortex of today and the future of cooking, I'm not sure I agree with the idea that recipes are dead. And as I sit here and think of ways to convince you that I'm right, the only thing I can do is prove that recipes will become more of an "artisan" thing. Like blacksmithing and glassblowing, using recipes will not die, only become more of a niche market for artists.

That makes me sad. As much as I want to preserve history, especially my family's history, I can see how cooking will become an art (I mean, it already is but you know what I mean) reserved for special meals and everyday cooking will be relegated to bots, apps, and maybe even food replicators.

So where does that leave me as a housespouse trying to learn how to cook? It leaves me in debt to those women who came before me and who are with me now. My grandmothers, their mothers, my parents, my wife, all of them have worked so hard at the hearth, the oven, the cooktop, to ensure I was fed and wouldn't go hungry. I can only hope my children can do the same for their kids.

Friday, December 01, 2017

40 Years Ago Today - December 1977 Part I

Because December 1977 is a bit slow, I'm sharing some random photos from the year. These were photos that are in my collection but one is a mystery. So if you know who it is, please send me an email at

First up, we have the Kalinowski family. From left to right: Mary Kalinowski, Claudia Kalinowski, Joann Kalinowski, Sig Kalinowski, and Ted Kalinowski.

And then we have the mystery photo. I have no idea who she is or what is written on the back.