Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Tiramisu Thickens…

“And I haven’t even had anything to drink!”

Trying to look nonchalant, DiDi, quickly rescued her phone from the tiramisu and wiped it off with her napkin while attempting to regain her composure.

“Hello…are you still there?” she asked, putting the phone back to her ear.

“Yes…what happened?” Alicia asked anxiously.

“Oh, I’m having lunch with my friends Chris and Mitzi. After a couple glasses of wine, I guess I just got a little clumsy and ended up dropping my phone into my dessert.”

“But, DiDi,” said Mitzi, “you didn’t have any…”

Off of DiDi’s sharp look of consternation, Mitzi thought better of contradicting her and didn’t finish the sentence.

“Do they know it’s me that you’re talking to?!” asked Alicia with alarm.

“Uh…nooo,” replied DiDi, hesitantly, “why is that important?”

“I’ll explain everything later, when you’re alone. Can I call you later?”

DiDi hesitated.

“DiDi…DiDi? Are you…”

“I’m thinking about it,” DiDi replied. “Don’t rush me.”

“Well, we don’t have a lot of time,” said Alicia urgently.

“Look,” snapped DiDi, “I told you I’ve had a couple glasses of wine…at least give me a chance to clear my head.”

Chris and Mitzi exchanged looks of concern mixed with curiosity…wondering what in the world was going on…and who the usually unflappable DiDi could possibly be talking to to make her lose her composure.

“You’re a lousy liar, DiDi,” said Chris calmly.

“What?!”

“I heard you when you dropped your phone and said you hadn’t had anything to drink,” said Alicia.

Alicia’s challenge triggered DiDi‘s “mama bear protecting her cub” mode and she could no longer retain her equanimity.

“You’re calling ME a LIAR!?” she hissed into the phone. “Wow, that’s a helluva lot of nerve coming from you.”

Now Chris and Mitzi were seriously concerned: “Is everything okay?"

"What’s wrong, DiDi?”

“Oh, God…you’ll never be able to keep this from them now,” said Alicia. “I can hear Chris and Mitzi in the background…they’re already suspicious.”

“Right,” said DiDi, “and since you’ve already discerned that I’m a terrible liar, what do you propose to do now?

“Look, can I meet you at your house in an hour?” asked Alicia. “And now I think it’s probably best that you bring Chris and Mitzi with you.”

“You have yet to give me a good reason…actually I need two good reasons,” said DiDi. “One, WHAT is so important that you have to tell me; and two, WHY I should believe you.”

“In answer to your last question…I’ve changed, DiDi, and I…I have a lot to make up for.”

“That’s an understatement,” snorted DiDi.

“Yes, I know,” continued Alicia, “not only for myself, but to try and make restitution for at least some of what my brother did…especially to you. I’m sorry but that’s the best reason I can give for why you should believe me. Now YOU have to decide whether or not to do so. If you don’t …well then, the answer to the first question is moot.

The sincerity in Alicia’s voice made DiDi want to believe her, but she still wasn’t sure. There was only one way to find out…

“Okay, I’ll meet you at my house in an hour.”

“What about Chris and Mitzi”

“I don’t know, I’ll have to ask them. Do you need my address?”

“No, I’ve got it.”

“Okay, see you in an hour.”

Before Chris and Mitzi could bombard her with questions, DiDi beat them to it.

“Look, I’ve got to be back at my house in an hour. I don’t know how you two are gonna feel about this, but you’re both welcome to come with me…to meet with Alicia Van Dine.

There is a moment of hesitation and then a sudden…

“Check please!” said Chris.

“Yes!” said Mitzi to the waiter, “and can we please get a triple order of tiramisu to go?!!”



***

What's Christ Weatherhead who played Alicia Van Dine doing today? Click here to find out!

EYE ON MONTICELLO is going on hiatus for the holidays and will return with a new episode on Wednesday, January 5. Meanwhile, I invite you to leave comments on how YOU predict “The Mystery of “Wonderland Lane” will be resolved! ;)

Also, if you’d like to keep the EYE ON MONTICELLO blog series going, please forward it to friends and ask them to post it on their face book pages and blogs so that we can build circulation. This time off will give them an opportunity to catch up and read the earlier episodes. A number of you have emailed me of your desire in seeing classic episodes of EDGE OF NIGHT make a return on cable TV. I can assure you that a large circulation of EYE ON MONTICELLO will capture the attention of sponsors and maybe we can make that happen… Something to aim for in 2011!

Meanwhile, have a safe, joyful, fun-filled holiday everybody! & C U next year!!!

XO, Mariann/"DiDi"


Mariann Aalda played DiDi Bannister-Stoner on Edge of Night from 1981 to its final episode on December 28, 1984. She also played Grace Battles on Guiding Light and Lena Hart on Sunset Beach on daytime and starred in the primetime series The Royal Family and First & 10 and recurred or guest-starred on such shows as Designing Women, Grace Under Fire and The Parkers, among others. With a penchant for comedy, she's also done stand-up in clubs across the country and is the co-creator of M.O.I.S.T.! -- the "sex-istential" comedy-with-music celebrating the seasoned woman -- which she co-wrote/produced/performs with Iona Morris (ex-Fiona Griffin, As The World Turns).

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

If It Walks Like a Duck and Talks Like a Duck…Then?

“Okay, now,” said Mitzi, “explain it to me again…how did you end up spending Thanksgiving on Wonderland Lane with the Whitneys and a bunch of androids?!!”



“I didn’t say they WERE androids, Mitzi, I just said that several of the women at Raven and Sky’s daughter, Charlotte’s, dinner party seemed to ACT like androids,” said DiDi, “…including Charlotte.

“Weird,” said Chris. “By the way, you haven’t touched your wine.”

“I’m driving, remember?”

“Yeah, right, but I’m walking, so…” said Cris

“And I’m DiDi’s designated passenger!” interrupted Mitzi.

“Here, Mitzi, you can have my glass” said DiDi, “and Chris, you take what’s left in the bottle…it looks like there’s at least another glass-full in there.”

“Thanks,” said Chris, “because I think I need some more alcohol to help me wrap my brain around what you just told us.”

“Did you get to touch any of them?” asked Mitzi. “What did they feel like? Were they cold…or 98.6 degrees like us?

“Look, you two, let me apologize for my choice of words sending your imaginations into a tailspin,” sighed Didi. “They weren’t robots! They just acted a little odd, that’s all.”

“Like, how?” asked Mitzi
Lela Ivey
“Well, for one thing, there were about half a dozen women who seemed to never stop smiling…and they were all so agreeable about everything.”

“Do you think there was something in the food?!” asked Mitzi

“Well, we all ate the same thing - which was delicious by the way; I don’t think I’ve ever had stuffing that was so moist and flav…”

“Enough about the food, already!” Mitzi squealed. “I want to hear more about the robots!”

“Mitzi, next time I’m drinking and YOU’RE driving,” DiDi retorted.

“Sounds like a plan,” said Chris, pouring the remainder of Mitzi’s wine into her own glass.

“You’re right,” sighed Mitzi. “As much as I love THE TASTE of a crisp Chardonnay with a great plate of creamy fettuccini, I forgot about the effect is sometimes has on me. Have I been too 'chatty'?"


“You’ve been just fine,” laughed DiDi. “But back to the story -- no, I don’t think the food was doctored up with anything…except maybe a little too much nutmeg in the eggnog.”

“So, what do you think it was?” asked Chris.

As if on cue DiDi’s cell phone suddenly began to vibrate on the table.

“Hmmm…I don’t recognize this number,” said DiDi.

“It might be the mechanic,” said Mitzi. “I forgot my phone, so I gave him your number to call me about what needed to be done on the car and when it would be ready.”

“Oh, okay,” said DiDi picking up the phone to answer it. “But you’re in no condition to get behind the wheel of a car, today. So if Cliff can’t drop you off tomorrow, I’ll come by and pick you up and take you there.

“Thanks, DiDi, you‘re a real pal.”

“And you’re smashed…Hello?”

“Hi, DiDi, I got your number from Charlotte. Please don’t hang up…this is Alicia Van Dine.”

Freeze frame: On DiDi’s shocked face as her cell phone slips out of her hand into the remains of her tiramisu.

http://www.recipetips.com/recipe-cards/t--2990/tiramisu.asp#

Click here for an update on Mitzi Martin’s alter ego, actress Lela Ivey.

***

Mariann Aalda played DiDi Bannister-Stoner on Edge of Night from 1981 to its final episode on December 28, 1984. She also played Grace Battles on Guiding Light and Lena Hart on Sunset Beach on daytime and starred in the primetime series The Royal Family and First & 10 and recurred or guest-starred on such shows as Designing Women, Grace Under Fire and The Parkers, among others. With a penchant for comedy, she's also done stand-up in clubs across the country and is the co-creator of M.O.I.S.T.! -- the "sex-istential" comedy-with-music celebrating the seasoned woman -- which she co-wrote/produced/performs with Iona Morris (ex-Fiona Griffin, As The World Turns).


Friday, December 3, 2010

To Everything There Is a Season....

Back from spending Thanksgiving in Puerto Rico with Gavin, Chris couldn’t wait to tell Mitzi and DiDi her exciting news. They’d decided to meet for lunch at Froman On Main, a popular eatery on the old site of Syd’s Tavern.

As per usual, Chris was the first to arrive. She picked out a sunny corner table, ordered a glass of sparkling water with a twist of lime and settled in to check messages and email on her Blackberry while she waited.

“It’s my fault that we’re late,” said Mitzi rushing in and leaning over to give Chris a quick hug. “The check something-or-other light went on when I started my car and I didn’t want to risk it conking out on me, so I drove it straight to the mechanic’s and DiDi picked me up over there.”

“So, where is she now?”

“Oh, she dropped me off before she went to park the car because she knew you were waiting.”

“But the restaurant has valet parking.”

“Uh, yeah…for seven bucks,” Mitzi retorted. “But you can get three hours of free parking in the mall across the street.”

“Mitzi, the valet is only five bucks.”

“Yeah, but you’ve still gotta tip the guy.”

“No, you don’t, that’s why you pay for the parking,” said Chris.

“Yes, you do,” insisted Mitzi, “That money goes to the restaurant.”

“Right…to pay the attendant’s salary.”

“But it’s probably minimum wage and not enough to live on,” countered Mitzi, "So…”

Spotting DiDi entering the restaurant, Chris was relieved to interrupt the conversation to wave her over.

“DiDi…as usual, you’re right on time,” said Chris.

“Hey, if that’s a dig for being late, I have a perfectly good excuse,” said DiDi

“Noooooo….trust me I was being absolutely sincere,” said Chris.

“Yeah, Chris and I were having a discussion and…”

“Oh my God!” This time it was DiDi’s turn to interrupt. “Is that…is that..?” she stammered.

“Absolutely,” said Chris with a grin, “Gavin and I are engaged!”

“Shut up!” squealed Mitzi”

“I will not,” said Chris.

“I didn’t mean it literally,” said Mitzi, befuddled.

“Oh, Mitzz, I’m just kidding with you,” said Chris, laughing. “Come on, gimme a hug!”

For the next several minutes the three women laughed and hugged and “ooh-ed and aaahh-ed” over Chris’ heirloom engagement ring.



“It belonged to Gavin’s mother,” said Chris.

“It’s beautiful,” said DiDi.

“Stunning!” said Mitzi.

“Who-d a-thunk it?” said Chris. “Marriage was never a goal of mine. I love my work and my friends and I’ve always been content whether there was a man in my life or not. So, to be getting married again in my fifties…”

“Gloria Steinem didn’t get married till she was in her sixties!” chimed in Mitzi.

“Anyway,” Chris continued, “it kind of caught me by surprise; but it just feels right, ya know?”

“Yes, sweetie, I know,” said DiDi wistfully. “Oh, Chris, I’m so happy for you!”

“And I hope you know how happy I am too,” said Mitzi. “So waddaya say I order a bottle of champagne to make a toast? And while we’re at it, can we order lunch, please, because I’m starving!”

While Mitzi called the waiter over, Chris turned to DiDi…

“Okay, so much for my good news, you’re up next. How was Thanksgiving with Cal and your soon-to-be daughter-in-law and her parents?”

“Hold on, the waiter is coming over…let’s get our order in, first, and then I want to hear all about it, too,” said Mitzi.

“Well,” said DiDi, “there was a snowstorm, so I wasn’t able to get there till the weekend, but her parents were lovely…just as warm and sweet as she is.”

“If you weren’t able to get out of town, then how did you spend Thanksgiving Day?” asked Chris.

“Oh, gee, DiDi, I hope you didn’t have to spend it all alone!” said Mitzi.

“No, I definitely wasn’t alone,” said DiDi, “but let’s have lunch first and salute Chris’ engagement and celebrate the season…and the fact that I already have all my Christmas shopping done. We can talk about how I spent the holiday later.”

“Hmmm…” said Chris, her private investigator’s instincts kicking in. “Sounds to me like there’s a lot more to this story.”

“If they only knew,” thought DiDi.



***

Mariann Aalda played DiDi Bannister-Stoner on Edge of Night from 1981 to its final episode on December 28, 1984. She also played Grace Battles on Guiding Light and Lena Hart on Sunset Beach on daytime and starred in the primetime series The Royal Family and First & 10 and recurred or guest-starred on such shows as Designing Women, Grace Under Fire and The Parkers, among others. With a penchant for comedy, she's also done stand-up in clubs across the country and is the co-creator of M.O.I.S.T.! -- the "sex-istential" comedy-with-music celebrating the seasoned woman -- which she co-wrote/produced/performs with Iona Morris (ex-Fiona Griffin, As The World Turns).

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanks…and Glory Be!

Well, it wasn’t quite the happy Thanksgiving DiDi had expected, but she was determined to make the most of it.

Her plans had been to spend Thanksgiving with Calvin, Jr. and his new fiancee at her parents’ home in Wichita. But an unexpected snowstorm had canceled all planes landing and taking off from Monticello Municipal Airport.

Looking out the window and the continuous downfall of snow, DiDi recalled how -- when Cal had introduced her and Calvin to his new girlfriend, Nikki -- her “mother’s intuition” immediately told her that Nikki was “the one.” Two years later, she was proven right when the couple announced their engagement.

The plan was for the parents of the prospective bride and groom to spend Thanksgiving together as an inaugural celebration of the blending of their families. DiDi thought about how much Calvin, Sr. had been looking forward to this Thanksgiving…and how much she was dreading going to Wichita without him.

But God works in mysterious ways. Thanks to the unforeseen circumstances of the weather, she’d been spared having to make that trip. And thanks to Skype, she’d been able to have a wonderful “virtual visit” with all of them earlier that morning.

After that, she watched an episode of All My Children she’d DVR’d the pevious day. Ironically, it was an episode where one of the main characters had to deal with the unexpected death of her husband right before Thanksgiving.

Somehow, watching the actress express the character’s grief, helped DiDi feel better able to cope with what she, herself, was going through.

“That’s probably why soap operas are so popular,” she thought, “because the audience gets to know the characters and can relate what they’re going through with something they’re experiencing - or have experienced - in their own lives.”

Snuggling up on the couch in front of the fireplace, DiDi reflected on her own “soap opera” of the red-headed woman she’d seen twice now -- the last time was the previous week when DiDi’d been out jogging and saw the woman entering the gated community of Wonderland Estates.

DiDi had immediately called Chris Egan and driven over to talk to her about it….

“You really think that was Alicia Van Dine?!” Chris had asked, incredulous at the possibility.

“Well, I thought so after seeing her the first time outside the UNICEF benefit, but after seeing her the second time…I’m certain of it,” said DiDi.

“R-r-r-r-ing!”

The telephone snapped DiDi out of her reverie. “Hello…and happy Thanksgiving!”

“Hi, DiDi, I thought you might still be in town.”

“Sky?”

“Yes! I was watching the weather report and thought it might have derailed your Thanksgiving trip, so I’m calling to invite you to have Thanksgiving dinner with Raven and I and our family.”

“Well, uh…that’s very thoughtful, but I don‘t want to intrude,” stammered DiDi at the unexpected invitation.

“Come on, that’s the least I could do for my newest employee,” said Sky.

DiDi had finally decided to accept Schyler Whitney’s offer to write a weekly column for his newspaper, but she and Calvin had never really socialized much with the Whitneys…and quite honestly, she was fine with leaving it like that.

“Look, DiDi, this is going to be your first holiday without Calvin. I remember what it was like for Raven and me our first family holiday after our son Gerald died, so, if nothing else, please come just for the diversion…besides, it’s Thanksgiving…you have to eat. And the holidays always inspire Raven to make a “guest appearance” in the kitchen. Her pumpkin pie is not to be missed!”

“Well, I wouldn’t want to miss Raven’s pumpkin pie,” laughed DiDi. “So…what time, what do I bring and what’s your address again?

“Three o’clock…and you don’t need to bring a thing,” said Sky. “But, we’re starting a new tradition this year, our daughter Charlotte and her husband are hosting Thanksgiving. Her address is 9787 Wonderland Lane.... "

Cue the music!



***
Mariann Aalda played DiDi Bannister-Stoner on Edge of Night from 1981 to its final episode on December 28, 1984. She also played Grace Battles on Guiding Light and Lena Hart on Sunset Beach on daytime and starred in the primetime series The Royal Family and First & 10 and recurred or guest-starred on such shows as Designing Women, Grace Under Fire and The Parkers, among others. With a penchant for comedy, she's also done stand-up in clubs across the country and is the co-creator of M.O.I.S.T.! -- the "sex-istential" comedy-with-music celebrating the seasoned woman -- which she co-wrote/produced/performs with Iona Morris (ex-Fiona Griffin, As The World Turns).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

SLAY Bells Ring… Are You Listenin’?


Wonderland Estates was a gated community built on what had been forest preserve not more than five years ago. An enclave of spectacular mansions, it was where many of the young “shakers and movers” of Monticello society now made their home.

Not all of them were to-the-manor-born, however. Many had made their millions in the technology and video-game industries and were new to Monticello. The demonic Louis Van Dine was actually the one responsible for bringing them there.

Louis Van Dine and his ego-maniacal scheme to take over the world by wiring workplaces (beginning with Monticello’s Isis Building) and cable television systems to deliver subversive subliminal suggestions became an urban legend of sorts. The incident ended up capturing the vivid imaginations of a legion of impressionable young techies and gamers who, when they became adults, moved to Monticello for the lore and ended up staying for the lifestyle.

DiDi shuddered as she stood before the imposing gates of Wonderland Estates and watched the shadowy figure that had just jogged past her punch in the security code and enter. There was something uncomfortably familiar about the slender build and flaming red-haired chignon fastidiously nestled between the mink earmuffs.

The temperature had dropped at least ten degrees in the hour or since she’d set off on her run, and snow was starting to fall… but it wasn’t the cold that was causing DiDi to continue to shiver. It was the memories of what had happened to her beyond those gates.

DiDi was one of the early victims of Van Dine’s evil plan. Her heroic attempts at trying to convince friends, colleagues and anyone else who would listen that she could sense something was terribly wrong and warning them of impending danger, had led to a diagnosis of paranoiac hysteria and being committed to an institution.

Until it was bulldozed to make way for Monticello Estates, that institution had stood on the property a scant mile behind those gates.

Now it was known as a community of great brains who had married great beauties… a place with perfectly manicured lawns and perfectly behaved children. Its residents had a reputation very similar to another town of legendary lore…Stepford.

DiDi turned on her heels and, as fast as she could, ran down the hill to get to her car…reaching for the cell phone in her pocket to call Chris Eagan as she ran.

“Hello, Chris? This is DiDi - you’re not going to believe this…”

To Be Continued…

In the meantime, check out Mariann's contribution to the conversation discussing Diversity in Daytime and share your own thoughts on the subject at www.SoapOpera451.com!


Another Remembrance:



***

Mariann Aalda played DiDi Bannister-Stoner on Edge of Night from 1981 to its final episode on December 28, 1984. She also played Grace Battles on Guiding Light and Lena Hart on Sunset Beach on daytime and starred in the primetime series The Royal Family and First & 10 and recurred or guest-starred on such shows as Designing Women, Grace Under Fire and The Parkers, among others. With a penchant for comedy, she's also done stand-up in clubs across the country and is the co-creator of M.O.I.S.T.! -- the "sex-istential" comedy-with-music celebrating the seasoned woman -- which she co-wrote/produced/performs with Iona Morris (ex-Fiona Griffin, As The World Turns).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

EYE FOR AN EYE?

It had been more than a week since the big Halloween bash and DiDi had a lot to think about…

First of all, the huge success of Monticello’s annual fundraiser for UNICEF during the ten years that she’d worked on its committee as a volunteer had captured the attention of the organization’s national headquarters. They were so impressed that DiDi had been offered a paid position!

While deeply moved that her efforts had been noticed by the head honchos -- and enticed by the fact that the job’s required move to New York would give her an opportunity to be closer to Calvin, Jr. -- DiDi couldn’t see herself leaving Monticello…at least, not yet.

Then there was another job offer she had to consider, as well…and DiDi had to admit that she found this one very intriguing…

Like many other mid-sized cities, Monticello had been faced with economic challenges over the last few years -- which was the primary reason that Schuyler and Raven Whitney decided to move back.

Their move to California more than twenty years earlier had increased their (already sizable) fortune because of heavy investments in Silicon Valley technology and Southern California real estate.

When their son, Gerald (named after Sky’s beloved Aunt, Geraldine), was killed in a tragic, unsolved hit-and-run accident in 2005, the Whitneys, after setting up generous trust-funds for their older children, Charlotte and Jamey, decided to divest the remainder of their wealth through philanthropy.

Their pursuit of noble causes had taken them all over the world, but with when the economic downturn hit Monticello, Sky and Raven decided that charity should begin at home. With strong roots in the community, they wanted to be more than just investors and money-lenders, they wanted to be hands-on…which is how Sky discovered his latent knack for journalism.

After rescuing The Monticello Times from bankruptcy, his plans were to turn it over to somebody else to run. While Vance Swift, chairman of the board of directors of The Whitney Charitable Foundation headed up an executive search team to find a new managing editor, Sky decided to take over the job, himself, until the position could be filled.

As the search dragged on, Sky discovered not only was he good at his “temp job,” but that he loved it. After three months, the search was called off and “Schuyler Whitney, Managing Editor” went up on the newspaper’s masthead.

DiDi had been more than a little surprised when Sky called to offer her a position with the paper.

“Gee, I really appreciate the offer, Sky, and the fact that you’re even considering me,” said DiDi, when he called. “But for the life of me, I can’t understand why.”

“DiDi, I watched you at the fundraiser the other night and observed how you interact with people. You know all the shakers-and-movers in this town and they all seem to know you,” said Sky. “More importantly, they seem to trust you, and for a journalist that’s gold…especially for the job I have in mind.”

The job was for Didi to write a weekly column that would appear both in the print newspaper and online.

“It’ll be equal parts news, entertainment and gossip,” he said. “I’m thinking we should call it ‘Eye on Monticello’…how does that sound to you?”

She told him she’d mull it over and get back to him…which is what had gotten her out jogging in the rain at 5:30 that morning.

DiDi did her best ruminating and problem-solving in the morning. Jogging around the reservoir, she couldn’t help but think about some of the wonderful conversations she and Calvin used to have when they’d be out jogging together. She hoped he would have some good advice for her today.

It was now 6:30 and still dark out with the street lights on. Suddenly, DiDi became aware of footsteps pounding behind her. Since she was already in her cool-down and had slowed her pace to a mere brisk walk, she moved to the side to let the other runner pass -- while also gripping the spray can of mace in her right pocket and, with her left hand, feeling for the whistle around her neck.

Although the runner wooshed past her uneventfully, DiDi felt a shudder when she recognized it as the same shadowy figure she’d seen outside the Halloween ball the week before!

Stopping dead in her tracks, DiDi looked up at the street sign and realized that she was on the infamous Wonderland Lane.

To Be Continued…

***

Mariann Aalda played DiDi Bannister-Stoner on Edge of Night from 1981 to its final episode on December 28, 1984. She also played Grace Battles on Guiding Light and Lena Hart on Sunset Beach on daytime and starred in the primetime series The Royal Family and First & 10 and recurred or guest-starred on such shows as Designing Women, Grace Under Fire and The Parkers, among others. With a penchant for comedy, she's also done stand-up in clubs across the country and is the co-creator of M.O.I.S.T.! -- the "sex-istential" comedy-with-music celebrating the seasoned woman -- which she co-wrote/produced/performs with Iona Morris (ex-Fiona Griffin, As The World Turns).

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

FINE & DANDY and JUST SUPER...

“See, aren’t you glad you decided to come?” shouted Chris over the din of 80’s disco music.

At Chris’ instance, DiDi had joined her and Gavin Wiley at Monticello’s annual Halloween fundraiser for UNICEF (click here to find out how you can participate, too). This year’s theme was “Back to the Future,” and included an actual DeLorean as the centerpiece among the fifty or so items included in the silent auction.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Back_to_the_future.jpg http://damox.com/cars/wallpaper/Delorean/1981_Delorean_DMC12.htm

Using her skills as a private detective, Chris had easily been able to track down several owners of the prized cars. But it was her artistic talent that had actually secured one for the charity event when she persuaded one of the owners to take one of her paintings for it in trade.

“Yeah,” said DiDi, “thanks to you, we’re on our way to setting a new record…and you were right, I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it.”

DiDi had served on Monticello’s UNICEF fundraiser board for more than ten years and this was the first year she was attending their big Halloween event without Calvin. Calvin loved to dance and this was one of his favorite shindigs… mostly because everyone wore costumes instead of the usual stuffy formal attire.

“But, you know, I think I’m about partied out, so I’m going to take a cab home.”

“Oh no, DiDi, Gavin and I will drop you off just as soon as he gets back from helping put some of the silent auction items in people’s cars,” said Chris.

“That’s very sweet of you,” said DiDi, “but you both live downtown, here, and I’m a good twenty minutes away. You’ve both already worked so hard in making this event a success -- not to mention babysitting me -- that you deserve to come off the clock, now… you’ve earned time off for good behavior.”

“Hmmm…or maybe a little bad behavior?” said Chris with a twinkle.

“That, too,” laughed DiDi, “and maybe you can put your handcuffs to some good use?”

“Why, DiDi, whatever do you mean?!” exclaimed Chris, feigning shock and embarrassment.
As if on cue, a Rick James song started playing to punctuate the innuendo and the two women burst out laughing.



“Well, the deejay either has perfect timing, is a real smartass…or maybe he’s psychic,” chortled Chris.

“Or maybe all three!” chuckled DiDi. “Did you know that Calvin was planning on coming to the dance this year as Rick James?”

“You’re kidding!”

“Nope,” said DiDi. “So I’m going to take that song playing at just the right moment as a sign that Calvin’s spirit is watching over us; that you get to keep your sense of humor in Heaven, and that he’s managed to hook-up with Rick James on the other side.”

“A perfect way to end the evening?” asked Chris.

“Perfect,” said DiDi, giving Chris a good-by hug. “Listen, there are plenty of people waiting for their cars out front, not to mention the fact that there’s a taxi stand right in front of the hotel. You wait here for Gavin…I’ll be fine.”

“Okay,” said Chris. But promise to call me when you get home.”

“Promise.”

***

Getting into the cab, DiDi immediately took her off her shoes, just as she would have if she’d been going home with Calvin…and in an odd, but comforting way, she almost felt that she was.
As the taxi rounded the corner of the hotel, however, she spotted a shadowy, caped figure out of the corner of her eye that made her suddenly sit up and stare out the window.

“No,” thought DiDi, “it couldn’t possibly be…or could it?!”

To Be Continued....

To learn about the connection between Rick James and actor Irving Allen Lee (Calvin), go to: http://soapopera451.com/


Mariann Aalda played DiDi Bannister-Stoner on Edge of Night from 1981 to its final episode on December 28, 1984. She also played Grace Battles on Guiding Light and Lena Hart on Sunset Beach on daytime and starred in the primetime series The Royal Family and First & 10 and recurred or guest-starred on such shows as Designing Women, Grace Under Fire and The Parkers, among others. With a penchant for comedy, she's also done stand-up in clubs across the country and is the co-creator of M.O.I.S.T.! -- the "sex-istential" comedy-with-music celebrating the seasoned woman -- which she co-wrote/produced/performs with Iona Morris (ex-Fiona Griffin, As The World Turns).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

“Wow!” was all DiDi could think of to say walking into Chris Egan’s studio loft-apartment. "Is this YOUR work?"


“Yep.”

“I had no idea… how long have you been hiding all this talent?!”

“Thanks,” said Chris modestly, “actually, I haven’t been doing it very long… at least, I haven’t been taking it seriously for that long.”

“Don’t be humble, girl! Your stuff is incredible!!! And trust me, I don’t blow smoke,” said DiDi.

“Oh, trust me, I know,” said Chris with a wry chuckle.

Chris and DiDi had had their issues over the years, particularly when DiDi had been a criminal defense attorney and Chris was a detective partnered with her husband, Calvin.

Chris had harbored more than a little resentment over DiDi “gettin’ the bad guys off.” While DiDi had entertained a wee bit of jealousy about how much time Chris got to spend with her husband; that the two of them worked on the same side of the law… and that catching the (alleged) bad guys was a lot sexier and a bigger adrenalin rush than getting them out of jail.

Although there had never been any acrimony between Chris and DiDi, their relationship did become more genial once DiDi started working in the DA’s office, but even then she’d thought of Chris as more Calvin’s friend than hers. The two women had not socialized that much over the years, at least not without Calvin.

DiDi’s relationship with Mitzi, however, was another story. Though seemingly an unlikely pairing, Mitzi and DiDi had become fast friends almost immediately upon moving in together. What had been born out of financial necessity had grown into an abiding kinship. DiDi was glad that Cliff and Mitzi had decided to move back to Monticello…and that Chris had made the overture to pursue a relationship with her after Calvin’s death.

A suddenly knock on the door broke DiDi out of her reverie. It was Mitzi.

“Obviously you did more than just go feed the parking meter,” said DiDi, eyeing Mitzi’s parcels.

“I thought a nice, crusty loaf of French bread would go well with Chris’s chicken salad,” said Mitzi. “Then I thought a nice, chilled bottle of Chardonnay would go well with the crusty French bread. Then I thought a nice crisp apple tart would go well with finishing off the Chardonnay… especially if we warm it up and top it with some vanilla ice cream!”

“Perfect,” said Chris, setting her beautifully prepared chicken salad on the table, “let me go get a wine opener.”

“Allow me,” said Mitzi, pulling one out of her purse.

Chris and DiDi burst into laughter.

“What‘s so funny?” questioned Mitzi. “I simply believe in being prepared!”

“Un-hunh…so what else have you got in there?” asked Chris.

“Oh, you’d be surprised,” teased Mitzi.

“Chris, your salad looks almost too beautiful to eat,” said DiDi admiringly.

“Well, I like my food like I like my paintings,” replied Chris thoughtfully, “vibrant and energizing.”

“Sounds like a pretty good recipe for friendship, as well,” said DiDi.

“Hey, I’ll drink to that!” said Mitzi, raising her glass in a toast.

“Here..here!” said Chris, raising her glass, “…to friendship!”

“Yes, right here!” chimed in DiDi, raising her glass, “a toast to an amazing feast for the eyes, for the belly…and most importantly, for the soul.”

“Cheers!” exclaimed the three women in unison.”

“Great…now let’s eat,” said Mitzi, “‘cause I’m starving!”

Despite feeling a few twinges of hunger herself, DiDi couldn’t help but thinking that right at this moment her heart was feeling very, very full.

* * *
CHRIS EGAN’S FESTIVE CURRIED CHICKEN SALAD

1 prepared roasted chicken boned, skinned and cubed
1 stalk celery, diced
2 whole scallions chopped
2 medium granny smith apples - peeled, cored and diced
½ cup golden raisins
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup toasted pecan pieces
¼ cup toasted walnut pieces
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper (or to taste)
¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt (or to taste)
3 teaspoons curry powder (or to taste)
1 ½ cups light mayonnaise
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup red grapes, halved
1 cup mandarin oranges
½ red pepper, finely julienned

Pick up a prepared broiled chicken from the supermarket and refrigerate for at least an hour. Remove bones and skin. Cube and toss with mayonnaise and curry powder in a large bowl. Fold in celery, onion, raisins, cranberry, pecans and walnuts. Toss apples in lemon juice, sugar, pepper and salt and fold into chicken salad. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate till ready to use. Serve on individual plates of mixed greens tossed with crisp red grapes (halved) and a light vinaigrette. Garnish with mandarin oranges and red pepper

***
Mariann Aalda played DiDi Bannister-Stoner on Edge of Night from 1981 to its final episode on December 28, 1984. She also played Grace Battles on Guiding Light and Lena Hart on Sunset Beach on daytime and starred in the primetime series The Royal Family and First & 10 and recurred or guest-starred on such shows as Designing Women, Grace Under Fire and The Parkers, among others. With a penchant for comedy, she's also done stand-up in clubs across the country and is the co-creator of M.O.I.S.T.! -- the "sex-istential" comedy-with-music celebrating the seasoned woman -- which she co-wrote/produced/performs with Iona Morris (ex-Fiona Griffin, As The World Turns).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

OMMMMMM...MY GOODNESS!!!

DiDi could feel her whole body vibrating with the humming sound emanating from the twenty or so people lying on yoga mats in Gavin Wiley’s studio. It was quite an eclectic group: seniors, soccer moms, college students, svelte, zaftig, some so flexible they could practically turn themselves into pretzels and others who could barely touch their knees, much less their toes.

But after 90 minutes of stretching, focusing, and breathing with them, DiDi felt like part of a community again. She no longer felt like a “widow, party-of-one.”

“Wow, that was amazing,” said DiDi, slowly getting up off the floor.

“Yoga-brain,” said Mitzi.

“Hunh?

“It’s that nice infusion of endorphins and serotonin you get from yoga,” said Chris. “Especially right after your first time. It can feel like quite a rush, so be careful getting up. In fact, you might want to sit on one of the benches by the window for a couple minutes before we leave.”

“Good idea,” said DiDi as she folded up her yoga mat, grabbed her towel and walked over to a bench to put on her shoes. Looking out the window over downtown Monticello, she marveled at the changes in the skyline that had happened over the past decade.

One of them was that that the Isis Building was -- even at 30 stories -- no longer the tallest building in town and dominating the Monticello skyline. Curiously, DiDi no longer felt it to be as imposing in her psyche, either. Must be those endorphins kicking in, she thought.

“DiDi, you decided to check out my class!” said Gavin, taking a seat next to her.

“Oh, Gavin, it was fabulous. It was just what I needed…which, until now, I don’t think I even had a clue that I needed it,” said DiDi, giving him a hug.

“Hope this means you’ll be back.”

“Absolutely.”

“Great,” said Gavin. “Then your first three months of classes are on the house.”

“Oh, no, I can’t let you do that!” said DiDi.

“Please, I want to. I’m sorry I had to be out of town for Calvin’s funeral, and…”

“Yes, I got your lovely letter…and the flowers,” said DiDi, “that’s more than enough.”

“DiDi, please, said Gavin, “I hope you’re able to receive this from me… because it will do my heart good to be able to give it to you as a small token of what Calvin meant to this town in his service as Chief of Police.”

“Then I accept,” said DiDi, “Thank you.”

“DiDi, are you ready to go?” said Chris.

“Yep…and I’m starving, too, so I’m ready for this gustatory feast you’ve promised,” said DiDi, teasingly. (Chris had never been known for her culinary arts.)

“Be prepared to be pleasantly surprised,” said Gavin, his eyes twinkling.

DiDi noticed that Chris’s eyes were twinkling, too…and that her cheeks were starting to blush. Hmmm…now that was a surprise, she thought… a nice one.

“All righty, then, let’s go, ’cause I’m starving, too!” said Mitzi, heading for the elevator.
________

Waiting outside the door of Chris’s seventh floor loft while Chris looked for her keys, DiDi thought about what a wonderful day it had been so far…filled with lovely little surprises. Little did she know that the biggest surprise of all was waiting just on the other side of that door…and it wasn’t Chris’s tasty chicken salad.

Click here to see what is awaiting on the other side of the door, courtesy of Chris Egan's alter ego, actress-artist Jennifer Taylor!

***

Mariann Aalda played DiDi Bannister-Stoner on Edge of Night from 1981 to its final episode on December 28, 1984. She also played Grace Battles on Guiding Light and Lena Hart on Sunset Beach on daytime and starred in the primetime series The Royal Family and First & 10 and recurred or guest-starred on such shows as Designing Women, Grace Under Fire and The Parkers, among others. With a penchant for comedy, she's also done stand-up in clubs across the country and is the co-creator of M.O.I.S.T.! -- the "sex-istential" comedy-with-music celebrating the seasoned woman -- which she co-wrote/produced/performs with Iona Morris (ex Fiona Griffin, As The World Turns).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A NEWLY-BRAVE NEW WORLD

Approaching the building that housed Gavin’s new studio, DiDi felt a little shudder. Previously located in an old warehouse, that building had been torn down almost ten years ago as part of Monticello’s urban renaissance implemented by then Mayor Kelly McGrath.

Before departing for the bright lights and big city of Las Vegas, Kelly had done an impressive job during his two terms as Monticello’s mayor. Inventive, creative and always a big supporter of the arts, he had used Chicago as a role model - attempting to emulate what Mayor Dailey had done in beautifying that city by making its Millennium Center and downtown area user-friendly and a cultural hub affordable to all the city's residents.

Monticello was now experiencing a similar rebirth. Empty-nesters looking to downsize and young singles looking for apartments (and a way to help reduce the carbon footprint) where they could walk or ride their bikes to work were flocking to downtown.

Neglected old buildings had gotten a new face-lift with an increased demand for lofts, condos and affordable apartments.

Along with the many new restaurants, parks, trendy art galleries and a thriving theater and music scene, a new vibrancy had visited itself upon Monticello… and the Isis Building was right in the middle of it.

DiDi had forgotten that this was where Gavin Wiley had relocated his studio, but she suddenly recalled having read about it in a newspaper article announcing its opening.

Now, standing in front of the building she balked. “I’m not sure if I can go in.”

Tenderly wrapping her arm around DiDi’s waist, Mitzi insisted, “That’s why you must, honey…I think it’s time.”

“It’s been a while since you and Cliff had your office here and damn near half of Monticello came under the spell of Louis Van Dine in his demented scheme to control the city,” said Chris.

“But half the city wasn’t diagnosed with a nervous breakdown and carted out off to a mental institution in a straight-jacket! snapped DiDi. “I haven’t been in this building in more than twenty years. Give me one good reason why I would want to go in there now."

“To build up your ‘fearlessness muscle,’ said Chris consolingly. “You have a horrible memory of this place and the best way to get rid of it is to replace it with a new one.”

“Facing that fear will help you face other fears,” said Mitzi.

“Like living without Calvin?” asked Didi.

Chris nodded. “Gavin creates a very nurturing environment in his yoga classes and Mitzi and I will be right here with you.”

Didi was reluctant to face the truth of what Chris and Mitzi were saying, but in her heart, she knew they were right. Louis Van Dine’s evil plot to take over Monticello by pumping subliminal messages into the Isis Building’s offices and via WMON, the city’s local television station, had already cost her enough. She’d lost her passion for practicing law… and she’d almost lost her mind.

Overcome by a sudden infusion of fearlessness, DiDi decided she wasn’t also about to let it cost her spending quality time with two dear friends and an introduction to yoga!

“Okay,” said DiDi, taking a deep breath and linking arms with Chris and Mitza, “let’s do it!”

It took a bit of maneuvering for the three of them to make it through the revolving door without unlinking arms, but somehow they managed it.

“Boy, I can really use that yoga class now,” Mitzi remarked, rubbing her left hip that had been squashed up against the revolving door.

“Afterwards we can come back to my new loft apartment and studio space on the 24th floor and I’ll put together some lunch for us,” said Chris.

“You live here!?” asked DiDi incredulously.

“Yep,” said Chris, giving DiDi’s hand a squeeze. “Who knows… someday you might even decide to move downtown and we can be neighbors!”

“Yeah, right,” said DiDi, “maybe when hell freezes over.”

“Hmmm…wasn’t that what Louis Van Dine was plotting to do in Monticello?” queried Mitzi mischievously, “ 'cause I don’t think it worked.”

“No, that wasn’t in Monticello, Mitzz...I’m not sure, but I think that happened in Port Charles.” said Chris.

“Yeah, and I don’t think the plot worked there either.” said DiDi, unhesitatingly pushing the button to the 30th floor.

***
Mariann Aalda played DiDi Bannister-Stoner on Edge of Night from 1981 to its final episode on December 28, 1984. She also played Grace Battles on Guiding Light and Lena Hart on Sunset Beach on daytime and starred in the primetime series The Royal Family and First & 10 and recurred or guest-starred on such shows as Designing Women, Grace Under Fire and The Parkers, among others. With a penchant for comedy, she's also done stand-up in clubs across the country and is the co-creator of M.O.I.S.T.! -- the "sex-istential" comedy-with-music celebrating the seasoned woman -- which she co-wrote/produced/performs with Iona Morris (ex Fiona Griffin, As The World Turns).

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

NAMASTE

DiDi was having her second cup of coffee when the doorbell rang.

“You’re early!”

“We wanted to help you get ready, first,” said Chris.

“So we brought you something to wear… here!" said Mitzi, shoving a gift bag into her hands.

“Well, thanks… I think,” said DiDi. She was starting to get a little concerned about what she was getting herself into. “But what’s wrong with what I’m wearing? You said to dress casually… am I too under-dressed?”

“You look fine,” said Chris, “but jeans are too restricting… you won’t be able to move in them.”

Now DiDi was wishing she’d never agreed to go along with this at all.

“Don’t be scared, DiDi!” laughed Mitzi at the stricken look on DiDi’s face. “We’re not taking you bungee-jumping or rock climbing or anything… we’re just taking you to a yoga class at the Wiley Dance Studio.”

DiDi had heard that Gavin Wiley had returned to Monticello and re-opened his dance studio earlier that year. She and Calvin had always meant to stop by and say hello… maybe even take a few ballroom classes. Sadly, they’d never made it. DiDi’s eyes got misty at the thought of Calvin holding her in his arms and twirling her around the dance floor.

“Yeah,” said Chris, “Gavin still has ballroom classes at night, but during the day he has yoga and Pilates classes. I’ve been going for a couple months now and I’ve noticed a difference. I feel a lot less stressed and just in a better mood all around. I even lost five pounds!”

“Who’d-a-thunk-it,” cracked Mitzi, “Kick-butt detective Chris Eagan taking a yoga class!”

“Hey, I’m not a detective anymore, remember? I took early retirement to see if I could turn my love for drawing and painting into a career.”

“I know,” said Mitzi, "Cliff and I were shocked to see your gallery on Main Street when we moved back to town. I love your work, though, and I have to admit, it’s nice getting to know your softer side. When we lived here before, I never thought you had one.”

Sweet as she was, tact had never been one of Mitzi’s strong suits. She just blurted out whatever was on her mind. That was one of the things DiDi loved about her… you always knew where you stood with Mitzi. And no matter how painful it was, you could always rely on her to tell you the truth.

“A couple months ago, I might have taken offense at your remark, Mitzz, but since I’ve been going to yoga, I don’t take things so personally anymore… lucky for you.”

“Okay, you two!” DiDi laughed, “Let me go change into my ‘yoga clothes’ so we’re not late for class. What time does it start?”

“Don’t worry, we’ve got time,” said Chris. "Class doesn’t start till 12:30 and I’ve already paid for all three of us to reserve our spots. Gavin teaches this class himself, and it fills up pretty quickly. It's my treat.”

“Gee, that’s really sweet, Chris,” said Mitzi. “I’m really liking this new softer side!”

“You’re more than welcome, Mitzz,” said Chris, “But about that ‘softer side’… I wouldn’t push it.”

“Gotcha!”

“Can I count on you two to play nicely while I change?” asked DiDi, her eyes twinkling with amusement.

“Of, course!”

“Sure, no problem!”

“Absolutely!”

As DiDi hurried off to change she couldn’t help but think how great it felt to feel her “twinkle” coming back.

***

NAMASTE

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

SONGS AND FOOD... ON THE EDGE

What a Wonderful World...

"What is it about funerals that brings out the tuna casserole in people?” DiDi wondered, gingerly taking her third one this week out of the microwave. She knew the oven mitts were around somewhere but wasn’t up to looking for them. She quickly plopped the steaming casserole dish on the counter and opened the silverware drawer to grab a spoon.

“Mmmmm…yummmmmm.”

The warm, buttery noodles drenched in heavy cream with tuna, baby peas, Parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of bread crumbs with a hint of nutmeg was just what DiDi needed… comfort food.

Thank God for the kindness of friends and the creamy goodness of tuna casseroles. They had both seen her through the last three days since Calvin Jr. had left to go back to New York. In that time, DiDi had barely been out of bed, and then, only to shuffle into the kitchen for another helping of tuna casserole. Sitting at the kitchen counter, she turned on the TV for company.

“What’s with all these court shows and game shows?” she thought, flipping through the channels. “Where are all my favorite soap operas?” Disappointed, DiDi hurriedly finished up her tuna casserole, putting the spoon in the dishwasher and the half-empty casserole dish into the refrigerator before shuffling back to the bedroom… where she had cable.

Before she could get there, however, Mitzi Martin-Nelson burst through the door with Calvin’s former crime-solving partner, Chris Egan.

“DiDi, why haven’t you returned any of our calls? That isn’t like you. We were all worried sick about you!” squealed Mitzi.

“Not like me? It’s not like me to be a widow, either,” DiDi snapped. “Maybe not returning calls is part of my new normal! And, by the way, how did you two get in here?”

“Spare key in the flower pot,” said Chris. “Calvin told me you guys always kept one there in case of emergency.”

At the mention of Calvin’s name, DiDi burst into tears… with Chris and Mitzi quickly running to throw their arms around her in consolation.

“This is so hard,” she sobbed. “This is so damn hard. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Calvin and I were supposed to grow old together, sitting in the swing on the front porch and watching our grandkids play in the yard. Now, Calvin will never see his grandkids, Mitzi… he’ll never get to see his grandkids. And I’ll never get to see him again!!!"

“DiDi,” said Chris guardedly, “you know Calvin would never want to see you this unhappy. And we knew it, too. So, after three days of not returning phone calls, Mitzi and I decided to stage an inter-friend-tion.”

“Yep,” said Mitzi,” like the song says, that’s what friends are for!

Looking at Mitzi and Chris and seeing the concern and compassion in their eyes, DiDi couldn’t help thinking that while she may have lost the love of her life, she was still fortunate to have love in her life… as evidenced by these two wonderful and loving friends.

“You’ve always been so strong for everybody else,” Mitzi continued, “now let us be strong for you. Like the song says,lean on me!

“We apologize for barging in like this,” said Chris, “but you weren’t answering any of our phone calls we got worried.”

“Not only is your apology accepted, but your inter-friend-tion is most appreciated,” sighed DiDi.

“Great!” said Mitzi. “Then is it okay for us to come back tomorrow? There’s someplace Chris and I would like to take you.”

“Oh, dear,” thought DiDi, “Am I ready for this?”

“Come on, DiDi,” pleaded at the distraught look on DiDi's face Mitzi, “Just this one little favor for your old roommate?”

“Okay,” said DiDi, smiling. She had always been unable to resist any of Mitzi's heartfelt appeals… even if they ended up getting both of them into trouble... which had happened on more than one occasion.

“Terrific,” said Chris, “we’ll pick you up tomorrow around eleven. Let us help you get back into full swing again.”

“Absolutely!” said Mitzi. “That’s what Calvin would want…like the song says, "Before the parade passes by."

“Okay, Mitzi,” said DiDi, laughing, “Enough with the song titles! I get it. And I’ll be ready to go with you two wherever you want me to go.

“Great, then our work is done here,” said Chris. “So, we’ll get out of your way then and leave you to your… uh, is that tuna casserole that I smell?”

“Sure is,” said DiDi, “I have plenty if you’d like some.”

“I don’t want to impose,” said Chris.

“Oh now you don’t want to impose!” chuckled DiDi. “Unless there’s someplace else you have to rush off to, why don’t you two stay awhile and I’ll put on a pot of tea?”

“Why DiDi Bannister-Stoner, I thought you’d never ask! You may not be good at returning phone calls but it’s nice to see you haven’t forgotten all your manners,” teased Mitzi.

“And I see you’re still a smarty-pants!” retorted DiDi.

Climbing into bed that night, DiDi’s spirit felt much lighter. The visit from her old friends, though unexpected, turned out to be just what she needed. And now she was looking forward to tomorrow. Turning out the light, she thought, it was just like the song says, "I'll get by with a little help from my friends...."

Didi’s Favorite Creamy Tuna Casserole

1 large (1-16 oz) can chunk white tuna, drained
1 12 oz pkg. egg noodles
1 pkg frozen peas (or peas & carrots)
3 tbsp. butter
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 small carton heavy cream
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
¼ teaspoon kosher salt (to taste)
¾ c grated parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon thyme
¼ teaspoon oregano
1 cup breadcrumbs

Cook noodles according to package instructions, meanwhile preheat oven to 350 degrees.

When noodles are done, drain, leaving about ¼ cup of the water in the pot. Add 2 tbsp. butter 2 and stir till melted. Add frozen vegetables, thyme, oregano and pepper, giving an additional quick stir and letting sit for a minute. Next, fold in tuna so that chunks are evenly distributed and stir in soup and heavy cream. Then, stir in in parmesan cheese, sprinkling in nutmeg and adding salt to taste. Pour mixture into buttered casserole dish. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and sprinkle bread crumbs over the casserole and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy! (And let me know what you think!)