Monday, November 30, 2015
Friday, November 27, 2015
Being there for one another is, of course, quite wonderful. But it's the shared amusement that acts as the glue holding us together.
Joining them for Thanksgiving dinner, some of us reveled in the lack of acrimony, in the ease and grace with which this family flows through the world. Where was the whining... the head shaking... the muttered imprecations and the slammed doors
Our natal families bore no resemblance to this; we agreed that this is much better.
We watched sons and grandsons discussing George R R Martin and Jessica Jones, smiling as 20's and 30's and 40's blended together, seamlessly. The college freshman's boyfriend was a willing helper among strangers, insisting that JannyLou must have something that needed doing. I peeled turkey necks and chopped liver for giblet gravy because it was easier for me than for her. Everyone seemed to be responsible for the dogs.
The instructional emails in the preceding weeks were a big help. JannyLou had given each of us tasks and timelines, so bagels were procured and gluten/dairy/egg free dessert recipes were tested in a timely fashion. Everyone was just-a-little-bit dressed up for this extended family and friends event, and everyone had some skin in the game.
There was a lot of justifiable pride floating around the kitchen.
Thursday, November 26, 2015
And my mother, without missing a beat, knew that there were 8 ounces in a cup. And she was surprised that I didn't remember that fact... and that she did. I know she's in there somewhere.
- Melt 2 squares of unsweetened chocolate and 1/3 cup unsalted butter.
- Beat together 2 large eggs, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and a dash of pure almond extract.
- Add the melted chocolate and butter. Mix together.
- Add 2/3 cup King Arthur Flour and 1 teaspoon each of salt and baking powder.
- If you like, add chopped walnuts.
- Bake in an 8x8x2 ungreased pan at 350 for approximately 20 minutes. My crew likes them slightly undercooked (17 minutes) and gooey, but you may prefer them with a drier texture.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Everyone is traveling, except us. We'll meander along the path between our houses, arriving at Fast Eddie and JannyLou's doorway with side dishes and desserts, expending only foot power to get there. Somehow, that just doesn't seem right. The holidays seem to demand transportation over distance and time.
Little Cuter wants my people around her for the holiday; she'll have to travel to accomplish that feat. Although she protests that with three jobs and a toddler her traveling should be limited to picking us up at the airport, her father and I continue to want them to come this way in the winter. Leaving the sunshine and shorts for snow and ice doesn't make us smile, even with the prospect of their smiling faces at the bottom of the escalator at O'Hare. I slip on the slick surfaces. My hands ache from the cold. I miss the stars at night and the blue skies during the day. I buy the tickets, they use them, I heat up the hot tub for small swimming experiences..... I don't know what she's complaining about.
True, traveling with a little one requires packing with care. A 16 month old has no love for sitting still; I walked across America many times, bent over, holding her hands after I held her brother's hands, up and down the aisles of planes. I do wish we lived closer, but this will have to do for now.
We used to put everyone and everything in the car and drive straight through to Cleveland from Chicago. East on I-80, singing songs and reading aloud, the miles were boring but manageable. Nannie was always standing in the door as we pulled into the driveway; how she knew we were arriving in that era before cell phones remains a mystery to this day.
There were presents on the hearth in the dining room, perfect presents for whatever age and interests the kids had. How she knew what to buy is in that same mystery pile; it was always just what I wanted!!!! Their basement held all sorts of treasures, as did the attic and the crawl spaces. Daddy's castle came out of hiding, small metal soldiers constantly appearing underfoot. The heavy metal trike went up and down the long straight driveway; somehow the snow always melted enough for the kids to be able to play.
There was something about the automotive transition that made the holiday special to me. I left my in-box behind. There was always someone to watch the kids, to play cards with the kids, to cook the food and shop for the food and to bring in the mail. I had nothing to do. I could nap in the afternoon without worries. I could come down late for breakfast and find that my children were fed. I could read to my heart's content; there were grandparents around making sure the little ones were happy.
TBG's family didn't go in for loud arguments or snarky picking around the edges of life. They were content to revel in the joy that was everyone all together, eating food brought in from Hough's. I spent Thanksgivings there for almost 20 years; I've never enjoyed the holiday more. Now, they are gone, the house is sold, the family is scattered to the corners of the country, and my little girl is making her own in-law memories.
I know just how she feels. I loved being there. I missed my Mommy and Daddy. I was thankful for the love and the joy and the ease, but I wanted my people around, too. Holidays have a way of twisting us up and turning us around, don't they? They combine the joy and the angst in a brightly wrapped package, which comes around every year, bringing the same tugs and hugs.
And this is only the beginning. We still have Hanukkah and Christmas and New Years and TBG's birthday and the Stroll and Roll........ I'm exhausted and it's only just started.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
I remember those days as one long grey fog. I remember being aware, at the time, that I'd be remembering those moments forever.
I was walking up the stairs to 8th period math, distracted by the level of chatter in the stairwell. Something was afoot... no one was smiling... there was something about someone being shot... and it wasn't until we were seated and the bell had rung that the assistant principal's announcement came over the loud speaker above the blackboard: Our President had been shot.
She told us to bow our heads and pray for him and our country. I didn't know any Hebrew words to put to my thoughts, and I wasn't sure that G-d would be listening to my words if they came from my heart and not the prayer book, and then it was time to pretend to learn math.
We didn't get very far in the book that day; school was let out early. I remember G'ma picking us up, my cousin and my neighbor and I somber but clearly delighted that school had been cancelled for the next day or two... until G'ma totally lost it and shouted at us with a new tone in her voice: "Great! Maybe they should kill him again tomorrow!"
Grown-ups had never been that shaken before. We shut our mouths and rode home in silence.
The next mornings were cloudy and cold and dreary. There was nothing to watch on television except Walter Cronkite and the casket in the Rotunda of the Capitol and the lines of mourners and then the caissons and the little boy saluting and it was all so very sad and so very public and I didn't know what to make of it.
Our family wasn't big on showing emotion. You dealt with your sorrows internally, unless you decided to lash out in anger. Anger we understood. Compassion was another story, entirely. This week seemed to call for love and closeness and a drawing together, but my family wasn't big on public displays of affection, either.
Big hugs ended with a potch in tuches, a gentle smack on the rump, a reminder that getting comfortable might not be the smartest path to follow. Or maybe it meant something else, or maybe it meant nothing at all. I only know that relaxing into sorrow or delight was not something with which we had much practice. And there we were, business and school closed down, our news sources filled with death and loss and Cold War worries, each of us in our own private silo, together but alone.
I don't think the sun came out until things returned to normal. And here I am, 63 years old but still an 11 year old girl standing alone, out on the driveway, bouncing a ball and wondering how to think about a world which could make me feel so lost.
I was right. I will be remembering those moments forever.
Monday, November 23, 2015
Thus spake Scarlet as we strolled down the alley to the free, patrolled, parking lot. We'd spent 2 hours and 40 minutes with the dysfunctional Danish royal family, seated comfortably in the first tier, right on the edge, near the exit door. I was relaxed and comfortable right up until who-killed-which-and-why took hold of my brain. I needed to know, I worried about consequences, I was a little teary at the end.
I've never been as entranced with the plot as I was at this performance. I saw Dame Judith Anderson act the role in 1971 at Cornell. I've seen Mel Gibson and Laurence Olivier on film. I've read it, at least twice, for a class. Until this weekend, it bored me.
The Rogue Theater, this little place in this little town in Scarlet's words, brought the ambiguity and the conflict into as much clarity as the words themselves allow. It's a complicated tale of revenge and madness and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, which we saw the week before, was of absolutely no help at all. We laughed at Tom Stoppard's verbiage, but I'd be hard pressed to tell you the story.
In Hamlet, though, I had no trouble at all. Starting as it ends, with men at arms, the sentries drew me in and, before I knew it, I was going with the flow. All those phrases I knew but never could place were popping out of the actors' mouths with fluency, as if they spoke that way in the grocery store, too. I was following along, not just with the action, but with the words, themselves.
I don't think I am that much smarter now; I think The Rogue took the play to another level.
The costumes, the simple tapestry which, along with 2 thrones and Ophelia's flowers was the entire set design, the tenderness with which both the content and the performers were treated by the production, made it a magical afternoon.
No, it's not New York. It doesn't have to be.
Friday, November 20, 2015
The results are long lasting.
It's been 7 hours and I still can't put in my contact lens. Bright lights are shooting through my wide open eyeballs and searing themselves on my brain.
Typing with my eyes closed has some merit...... if I were still in 6th grade and learning the skill.
For now, though, I will beg your indulgence and take the day off.
I'll be back on Monday... with normal size pupils
Thursday, November 19, 2015
I tried to make sense out of Ted Cruz's suggestion that we only allow Christian refugees across our borders. I couldn't.
I tried to think about credit cards issued by airlines which will no longer allow everyday purchases to accrue points toward flights. A brief foray into the mental machinations which allow me to feel justified buying not-really-necessary items by consigning the purchase to FlapJilly's Flight Fund Miles went just that far before ending with a thud.
There are rants about step-parenting and kids' basketball games which rattle around but get no traction. There's the chip technology in everyone's credit cards when there is barely a merchant with the relevant software to use it... and I can't get worked up about it. Not one little bit.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
It is easier to understand. There are only 5 players on the court at any time, and they usually have their names on their jerseys. It's easier to follow the ball when it's not blocked from view by 2500 pounds of padded flesh. The players' faces are unobscured by face guards and helmets; their grimaces and their grins are part and parcel of my enjoyment.
The game frowns upon undue bodily contact; players don't suffer two concussions in six weeks (cf. Anu Solomon, UofA quarterback). There is bumping and shoving and pushing, but no one is diving into your chest, driving you to the ground, preventing you from making a play. Defense is played with the feet, not the hands or the shoulders or the head. I don't have to worry about brain stem contusions while watching young men play a game.
I grew up with the Knicks, moved on to the Bulls, took second in TBG's office pool with Jim Valvano's Wolfpack and have never looked back. The pro game is uninteresting until the playoffs, and only marginally (to me) even then. I like talking about Steph Curry with Mr. 10, but I can't name another player on his team.
As I type, Coach K is letting his players suffer the slings and arrows of a double digit deficit, not calling a time out, giving Kentucky all the room it needs to spread its wings and fly. Georgetown is on in ten minutes, and Kansas/Michigan State tips off after the Blue Devils /Wildcats contest.
I love this time of year.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
|jean jullien on Twitter.com|
Kids are being blown up at concert halls and small restaurants and I can change my profile picture on Facebook and repost meaningful cartoons but I cannot make a real and important difference.
TBG is finally able to recognize that watching the news in a relentless loop helps no one, least of all, himself. We both share a certain sense of guilt, a need to watch and show our solidarity and not ignore it and go on with our lives but after PTSD visited last week, in all her damaging glory, we've concluded that the 24-hour news cycle will just have to go on without us.
And so, with Mary, my Yogi, leading the way, forty or so humans of all ages took a Meditative Hike this morning.
The "real" hike, the one with elevation and some rock scrambling, was cancelled. It doesn't rain that often in the desert Southwest, but when it does, surfaces become slick and hikes are deferred to drier times.
I joined that hike three years ago, and walked to the first check point with Miss Cindy. With two poles and a friend-who's-also-a-doctor insuring my safety, it was still both terrifying and exhausting. I never felt that I was in control.
The scenery was beautiful, but I was hardly able to enjoy it.
I strode up these steps with attitude.
I did not use the handrail.
I put each foot down, carefully, slowly, heel - ball- toe, meditatively moving my self onward and upward. Holding my hands in anjali mudra was too difficult, so I satisfied myself by joining my pointers and thumbs on each hand, splaying the other fingers out to catch the light.....
the light reflecting from all the others making the same journey.