Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Bunny

Many moons ago my father had picked me up from Harrison High School and we were on our way home. We lived in Purchase, New York (Purchase is home to Manhattanville College and abuts Greenwich, Connecticut). It was dusk. Daddy and I were just chatting away and all of a sudden a baby bunny ran in front of us and we felt a slight bump. Daddy, I could tell, was upset. He made a u-turn and he parked at the side of the road and went in search of what he hoped was an injured bunny. Unfortunately, the bunny was beyond help. I knew that if there was any hope at all that Daddy would have taken the bunny home and nursed it back to health.  That was his nature. That is why he was a director of a summer camp for underprivileged children for many years, that is why is worked at the "Lighthouse of the Blind" in New York City and taught children woodworking. That is why he cherished his daughters and mentored his grandchildren. He loved chess and was always eager to pass his knowledge on to family members. He taught me how to fish using a worm as bait, to play golf. He was nicknamed "Doc" by his friends for some reason. I wish I had explored that more. He was a loyal friend and loving father and husband and grandfather. Greg believes he is the man he is today thanks partially to his grandfather. Gregory later went on to become nationally ranked in chess. In those years we didn't talk much, if at all, about our troubles. But, somehow Daddy always knew when I needed him and would be there for me.  Years later I was driving and Leland was in the passenger seat, navigating when a bird flew into the front of our car and perished. I felt just dreadful, as if it was entirely my fault. That experience has never left me and at that point I knew the pain Daddy felt even though both incidents were unavoidable. Maybe it proves that I truly have some of my Dad's wonderful DNA in me. That makes me feel really happy.  I am reading a series of The Royal Spyness mysteries by Rhys Bowen and wow are they good. I always enjoy reading about merry olde England. Give them a try!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Corn Salad: three 15 oz canned yellow corn, drained - 2 bunches green onions, chopped - 1 (NOT) a full cup of mayo.  Just before serving crush 1 bag of chili cheese fritos and stir in. Not a labor intensive recipe.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


My first child was due October 26th and his Father, Bill and I were thrilled about the impending arrival.   In the meantime, My ankles swelled  along with the rest of my body. I mentioned this to my doctor the head of obstetrics and gynecology at the White Plains Hospital in New York. He pooh poohed it all and the result was that on October 29, 1963 I delivered the placenta at home (placenta previa) and went into shock (it turned out that I had toxemia}. Bill drove me to the hospital and upon our arrival the nurses administered to me. My Parents arrived (Bill's Parent were living in Tehran,  Iran) to give us moral support. A while later Dr. Montgomery arrived, dressed in a tuxedo and after an exam said to  Bill and I directly quote "I see no reason to cut her open to haul out a dead baby". Maybe he had one cocktail too many since he left the room to sleep until it was delivery time. So I went into labour, knowing something was dreadfully wrong but not aware of what. Gregory William Hankinson was born, they rushed him to an incubator and worked on him. A dear friend of mine, Gloria Donati (Hart) came to visit me at the hospital and just burst into tears. Her presence met the world to me.

It was a wait and see game. I was very weak, frightened and so worried about my precious child. Bill and I had to leave him at the hospital and that was a moment in time I will never forget. We got a prognosis that he would be a "vegetable (from lack of oxegen) and when we finally took him home that was all we could think about as we fed and cuddled our little one. For some reason they could not get a heart beat and when he was born everyone was astonished when he was revived. Can you imagine how we watched over him? At my six week visit to Dr. Montgomery he said (and again I quote verbatim) "Well wasn't that the dammest thing". I  learned later that I had high blood pressure which he apparently never picked up on. After five years we were told he would probably have learning difficulties. But our Gregory thrived and except for two eye operations for crossed eyes he flourished. He is my hero. God stepped in and decided he had future plans for our special gift. Gregory has turned out to be  the best Son anyone could ask for. He is a college graduate and a bright and kind man. He had a Father who adored him (Bill passed away at the young age of 56 and now Leland has his first Son and loves him as his own.]

Bill and I were in our early twenties and at that time, so grateful to have Gregory that it never occurred to us that we had a case for a law suit. But then again, we were so grateful to have our baby that it truly didn't seem to matter. And, he was a joy to raise. He met each goal that was expected of him at all age levels. How very wrong the doctors' prognosis was, thankfully. He's 6'2" and not only does he make us proud but he makes us laugh and is ALWAYS here for us. He also knows how to talk his Mom out of the blues.

Then, in 1984 Greg was gifted with his little Sister, Laura.  I am so very proud of my children and they have been such staunch supporters for me and their Dad through my illness.

Years before we moved to Berlin, Leland, Greg, Laura and I  visited Chuck and Diana James in Berlin never realizing that we would one day move there. We also took Greg, Andrea and Laura to Paris and Norway. What fun!

Gregory, Mom loves you with all her heart, thank you for all you do and remember Dad and I are always on your side.


CRAB SPREAD (another recipe from the Pan Am cookbook)

16 oz cream cheese at room temp
1 T Worcesteshire sauce
1 1/2 t lemon juice
3 T mayo
1T dried chives
Mix above ingredients and spread in pie size dish. Refrigerate over night.Spread 1/2 of 12 oz bottle of Heinz chilli sauce over top Refrigerate for a short time until sauce is firmish. Sprinkle 12 oz can of drained crab over chilli sauce. decorate with fresh parsley. Refigerate at least an hour before serving. Serve with crackers. Garnish with lemon slices

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Leland, Laura and I were living in Brookfield, Connecticut and Leland was flying out of JFK Airport on European flights. Leland was asked if he would like to relocate to Berlin, West Germany where Pan Am had a base. We discussed it and quickly decided it was a marvelous opportunity. We flew first class to Berlin and it turned out to be a fortuitous flight as we met a dentist and his ex Lufthansa flight attendant wife. They owned an apartment in the Zelendorf section of Berlin and they invited us to look at it as a potential rental. Long story short, we loved it and rented it. We were the only non-Germans but that didn't matter as we met some lovely people dwelling there. It was a wonderful location because Laura and I could be in the town in under ten minutes. Woolworth's was the big attraction. We were also able to shop on the Army base at the PX.

Laura entered kindergarten at the German-American school and thrived there. It was a little eerie being surrounded by the Berlin Wall but we got along beautifully by car, bus and train. We passed through check point Charlie to get to East Berlin which can only be described as going from technicolor to black and white. From smiling faces to sullen faces. A big contrast!

The Pan Amers gravitated to one another and we had a blast! During our two year stay we made some lasting friendships and for a country girl I quickly adapted to city living. We entertained out of town guests, including my Mom on more then one occasion. What a trouper she was as we traveled throughout Germany, Czechoslovachia, Yugoslavia, Austria etc. She was so adventurous and eager to see everything.

Laura flourished in school but like her Mother and Dad did not have an "ear" for the German language. But fortunately most Germans' spoke excellent English.

I was given a surprise 50th birthday party there and in general had a great experience. Then, President Reagan proclaimed "tear down this wall", newscasters descended on Berlin, and bad stuff was happening. We had a security alert from terrorism and school buses had armed guards on them, China had severe problems etc. and people were fleeing into West Germany from Communist countries. Leland made the decision That Laura and I should head home and eventually Pan Am closed the Berlin base and all Pan Amers headed home. But, what a glorious time we had there while it lasted.

"AUF WIEDERSEHEN  - Will the last one out please turn off the oven" A collection of recipes from Pan Amers!


4 boneless chicken breast, pounded to 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup flour
6 T butter
8 green onions, thinly sliced
12-16 fresh mushroom, sliced
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream
6 oz gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Salt and pepper and lightly flour cutlets. Melt butter in skillet over medium-high heat. When bubbly, add chicken and brown quickly on each side. Meanwhile slice mushrooms and onions. Remove cutlets when brown, put in baking dish. Add onions and mushrooms to skillet, saute about 2 minutes. Add wine and cream. Cook 2 minutes while stirring. Pour mixture over over cutlets, grate cheese over cutlets. Bake in preheated oven 5-10 minutes. Serve with rice and a nice roasted veggie.\

It is so nice to think about all the adventures we had but frankly folks we are enjoying our peaceful life and living in this lovely community. It is wonderful to look at pictures depicting our stay in Toulouse, France (Laura took her first steps there) our trip to Norway with Laura, Andrea and Greg and many more adventures Now we sit back in our new "perfect sleep recliners" and let our thoughts take us to exotic places. But, really folks, there is no place like HOME! Love to all, Arlene

Saturday, December 6, 2014


If some of my previous blogs have brought a little humor, reflection, nostalgia, and inspiration into your life then I am truly happy that I have used this venue in a good way.  It's been awhile in between blogs and I really don't have a good excuse for the lapse of time. I think it is just called laziness and a lack of a good topic. But, folks it is the holiday season and what better time to reflect on the past.

When I was younger and we were living at my Grandparents' house Christmas was always celebrated there. I also knew that I would ALWAYS receive underwear from my Grandmother!  For a very talented and creative person she certainly lacked imagination in the gift giving department. We could, however,  always depend on the traditional Christmas dinner: roast beef, yorkshire pudding etc and that was a good thing. Then my four boy cousins and I would go outside and play in the snow. My little Sister was too young to join in the fun. Growing up in the forties and fifties was a no brainer, school, church, the Y, Junior League, Eastern Star etc. All innocent and fun things. I look back now and realize we survived very well without cell phones, computers and all the gadgets that are available now. We learned cursive writing and took pride in our penmanship. We communicated with our friends verbally. I don't remember life being complex at all. Family and friends were and are still important and life seemed so much more simpler and serene. Of course, we weren't Parents then so we didn't worry about our offspring. All that worrying came along with our offspring. But, how grateful we are for them. Along with the worry comes the pride and joys of being a parent.

This year has flown by much too quickly. I reached what I consider a milestone this year; seventy-five! Wow! Leland is now seventy-nine and in June will be eighty. I guess we are considered elderly now but that's okay.

We got the most fabulous news on Thanksgiving Day. Our "baby", Laura got engaged to Joe Galloway and we are so delighted he will become a member of our family and we of his. Life goes on! They will start their own traditions and I hope that Laura will record for her family the history of the Wood and Larson families. She never met either of her Grandfathers but I hope through pictures and the written word she will get a sense of what wonderful men they were. I am not sad writing this - I take that back as I am now teary but in a good way.

There will be no recipe today because I struggled to make a turtle cake today to take to a function tonight and it was exhausting to make, the oven is a mess from overflowing stuff and I realize that baking is no longer fun.

But I can tell you that I just finished reading "THE ESCAPE" BY DAVID BALDACCI  and LOVED IT!

Next time there will be a recipe when I get over the post traumatic stress from todays' creation and the oven gets clean!

Love to all! Arlene

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Hello Friends and Family,

It has been so long since I have written on my blog that I am out practice and not sure how to begin. In the past few months I have had two carpal tunnel surgeries and Leland was diagnosed with macular degeneration and had a successful ablation procedure. So, medical news out of the way lets get to the nitty-grity and tell some stories, share a recipe and a recommendation for good reading.

Firstly, I have had a lot of time to ponder about life, the joys and here and there the tribulations. I look at my beloved husband and there is not a day that goes by that I am not grateful for his love, kindness, support and strength. Leland, you are the best gift I have ever received. It took awhile for us to find one another again but it was sure worth the wait.  When we were young, eleven and seven we never even thought about what the future held in store for us. We just went our merry way enjoying the innocence of the young. Playing outside, in all kinds of weather with the neighborhood kids. When I was thirteen I traveled along with Leland's Mother, his Sister, Marilyn and Lee to Chicago. Leland and his Mother shared the driving. They were driving out to Iowa to plan Marilyn's wedding and to drop Leland off at Iowa State. I was left off with my Aunt and Uncle outside of Chicago to spend the summer. My childless Aunt bleached my hair very blond (my Mother never did believe the sun did it). At first I was very sad and weepy because Leland was going to be so far away but my Aunt and Uncle were gracious hosts and I had a lovely visit. At the end of the summer I flew back to New York feeling very sophisticated with my blond hair and a lovely tan.

Everything changed, however, as Leland was gone and at fifteen my family moved away. But, as luck and fate would have it, Leland and I renewed our relationship and the rest is history!

I try not to dwell on my health issue but honestly there are days when I can't help but think what the future holds. So far, so good! As our Son, Greg says to us, enjoy each and every day. We'll do, Sweetie.

I try not to get paranoid about ISIS, ebola etc. but times are really yucky and we sure do hope that the upcoming elections swing in our favor - WE NEED ATTENTIVE and strong leadership! Just vote, folks, please.

Lately, I have devoured each and every one of M. C. Beaton's Agatha Raisin Cotswold mystery story. I buy most of them on Amazon, used for a penny plus postage. They are light and funny reading.

I am not hinting but on November 5th I will turn 75 - egads! How blessed I am to get to that milestone.

Roasted Portobello Mushrooms

1 tablespoon pine nuts
8 portobello mushrooms
l tablespoon lemon juice
4 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves crushed garlic
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Put the pine nuts in a dry frying pan and cook over a gentle heat until golden. Remove to a plate and set aside. Mix the lemon juice with three tablespoons of water in a bowl. Put the oil, garlic, salt and pepper in another bowl and pour half over the base of a large baking tray Arrange the mushrooms on the tray, open side down in one layer and brush the tops with the rest of the oil. Roast in a preheated 425 degree
oven for 10 minutes, then turn the mushrooms over. Brush their insides with the diluted lemon juice using a pastry brush. Return to the oven and cook for a further five minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with pine nuts and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

Well, it is so nice getting back to the blog and just chatting with y'all. Hope you are all well and happy. Much love, Arlene

Monday, April 28, 2014


Life, at times can be very complicated. It isn't always easy to navigate through life without coming to a roadblock or two in our way. (I know that I have mentioned that topic of conversation before). Complete satisfaction in everything that is going on in our lives at the same time is not always obtainable. So, we do the best we can under circumstances out of our control. At the moment I am trying to "snap out of" the "woe is me" stage I am in. Believe you me I count my blessings and thank God for the wonderful progress I have made. But, I am writing this with a brace on my thumb and the pain of carpal tunnel and arthritis making me uncomfortable. But, as you can read I am doing the best I can. Thank goodness for the delete tab! I know that in the not too distant future I will have to make a decision to have surgery. Not a pleasant decision! But, it will also depend on what the doctors' decide. Time will tell. Stay tuned!

On a happy note we had a delightful weekend joining some friends for our monthly get together. The men tell jokes, talk about sports and politics. The women gab about all sorts of topics. We do try and not focus on medical conditions and we all get gussed up. It's fun and it also makes us realize how many wonderful friends we have here. I brought my peach surprise dessert from an earlier blog and it seemed to be a hit.

Laura and Joe spent the weekend in Charleston with their best friends, Kate and Alec. They went fishing and much to their dismay Laura and Kate caught stingrays. UGH! The men caught fish but released them. They had such a terrific visit. They are home "safe and sound". That makes Mama happy!

Up in New York my great nephew, Jack celebrated his first birthday (with Grandma Centre in attendance) with a crowd of children and adults at a restaurant catering to childrens' parties in Riverdale. The food was supplied from a restaurant on Arthur Ave. (Little Italy) in N.Y.C. They all had a blast! Jack was all dressed up complete with a bow tie and just smiled away. He has a doting family and as a result is a VERY happy child.

I just got back from a walk (7:30p.m.) What perfect weather; a slight breeze and no sun beating down on me. The grass is starting to turn green, the trees are abloom and a hint of a floral scent wafted through the air from the budding shrubs. All of a sudden, all was right with the world and my little troubles floated up, up and away, I guess getting a little exercise mentally makes me feel better. I must get in the habit of taking a walk, weather permitting every evening.

We are looking forward to Greg's visit this week. He's been great taking me out to do errands when necessary. Which reminds me how anxious I am to drive again so that I can reciprocate the kindness of all who take me here and there. Thanks all!

I am reading "THE TARGET" by David Baldacci and truly enjoying it.

I'm too lazy to go back through all of my old recipes so I am hoping that this is not a repeat.
HAWAIIAN NUT SANDWICHES (makes 12 dozen party sandwiches
1/4 cup evaporated milk
2 (8oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained well
1/4 chopped pecans
Blend milk and cheese together. Add pineapple and nuts. Blend well. Good on orange or raisin bread as well as thin white bread.  I think this is a great recipe for a ladies' tea.

Have a great week and stay happy and healthy. There are many of you in my prayers. Love, Arlene

Monday, April 21, 2014


We are constantly getting emails which we, for the most part dutifully read. Some make us laugh, others provoke anger at what is happening to our country and some touch our hearts and put everything that is happening in our lives, in perspective. Leland and I read about a young man who lost both arms and both legs fighting for our country. He came home to his girlfriend who remained by his side during his recovery. She remained faithful while he coped with the reality of his situation. Obviously, he was not the same young man when he came home.  His girlfriend would carry him on her back up the staircase and whenever it was appropriate. This couple got married, he with his new prosthetics and she a picture in white. They approached the future with enthusiasm. How brave! Their's is not the only story. Have we forgotten our wounded warriors and their families? Are enough thoughts, prayers and help going their way. Remember how ill-treated our Vietnam veterans were treated. Remember Jane Fonda? How can anyone give her "the time of day". She is and always will be a traitor in my eyes.

Reading that email put so much in perspective for me personally. That young man and others like him make my situation seem trivial in comparison. Let's make a decision to thank these young man and woman in uniform and to keep them in our daily prayers. Let's thank the doctor' and caretakers who help them. Let's hope that they get the help and counseling they need to rejoin society and let's let them know we are proud of their service to our Country and we love each and everyone of them. God Bless them! And finally I hope our government treats them with dignity and makes our armed force the strongest in the world -  whatever it takes!

Just a note: Our Easter dinner was fabulous! and several of our Husbands' in attendance served in Vietnam and/or the armed services. They too, have our thanks.

Have a wonderful week, Arlene

Thanks to Bonnie Rossner this recipe is the VERY best dessert I have ever had.

2 cups of finely crushed pretzel sticks
3/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 of an 8oz package cream cheese softened
4T, plus 1 t of strawberry gelatin (out of a 3 oz pkg
2 cups whipping cream, divided
1/3 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together first three ingredients, firmly press on bottom , up sides and
onto lip of lightly greased 10 inch pie plate. Bake about 10 minutes. Remove from oven onto a wire rack and cool completely (about 30 min).  Process strawberries in a food processor or chop by hand. Beat condensed milk and next two ingredients at medium speed with a electric mixer  until smooth. Add strawberries, beat at low speed until blended. Transfer to a large bowl. Beat 3/4 cup of the whipping cream at high speed until soft peaks form. Gently fold whipped cream into strawberry mixture. Spoon into prepared crust and spread evenly. Cover and freeze for 8 to 12 hours.  Beat remaining  1 1/4 cups whipping cream at high speed until foamy; gradually add sugar until soft peaks form. Spread over pie. Freeze 1 hour until whipping cream is frozen. Keep in freezer until 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Southern Living - June 2012.  Thanks again Bonnie!