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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Lost in Translation

A quilt I made for a niece's wedding present,
which, as is often the case,
has nothing to do with the words on this page, sigh
.


I am finding,
memories of words said
have new meanings,
as I recollect them.
(or I am hoping for new meanings?)

Sentences,
previously,
lost in the translation
of time,
bring greater comprehension. 
(or do I hope for a understanding long denied?)

Years were fraught with
opportunities to
misunderstand,
now there aren't any minutes
or hours
or days left.
(or was our time together the sum of cross purposes?) 










Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Cooking


Something in progress...God alone knows what it is going to be. 

I have a friend who use to say to her family each time she made a meal, it is the one millionth meal she has made for them. This started to run a bit thin with her audience, so her husband, who worked in the numbers arena, actually figured out it was more like the  hundred thousandths range.

Dispiriting to be found out so mercilessly, don't you think?

It does feel like the millionth meal. Sometimes even more.

I like to cook. I like to bake. Sometimes I even love to do both of these domestic tasks.



Take today for instance. I am in a high drive cooking mode. I have made so far this morning; potato leek soup. Kabocha Soup, (a squash we grew in our garden, and froze a zillion packets of, which I now feel over compelled to make something with it, I might be exaggerating on the actual count of packets), egg salad, and I am now taking a break before I start the bread to rise.

Hence, I am writing this ode to cooking.



Chocolate Cookies, of course.
I started cooking the meals for family when I was twelve years old. My mother went to work, and announced it would now be my responsibility to plan, shop, and make dinner. I was slightly acquainted with how to cook, I was very acquainted with cleaning up after others who had cooked, but planning was a new venue for me to enter.

One of my many brothers, purchased for me the cook book From Julia Child's Kitchen, and later the Joy of Cooking.  Both proved very useful for my entrance into the culinary world.  I realize in hindsight, these gifts to me were partly for him too, as my first attempts were checkered. My mother was such an old had at cooking, she had very few recipes written down.

Like the time I made meatballs and spaghetti, not knowing that a clove of garlic wasn't the entire bulb. The recipe called for two whole cloves of garlic. I stopped peeling after I have finished the first bulb, and thought, this is enough, surely they will not miss the other clove.

Tomatoes from last summer's garden. 
That evening, while we all seated around the table, my mother inquired of me, "how much garlic did you put in the meatballs?" I looked at her with shame as I relayed I had only put in the one clove as I was tired of peeling the little things.  This lead to further inquiry on her part, only to have revealed to me, a clove was one of these little individual things I had been peeling, for what seemed like forever.

My brother, the one who gave me the cook books, said dryly, "we won't need any heat in the house tonight".

I'm not sure how many meals I have actually made. Some days it truly feels like a million or more. Some days, I have zero, I repeat, zero inspiration, as I view the ingredients in my larder. Others, like today, I am inspired.

It is a gift, cooking for those we love. I have often felt like it is a tangible way to show how much these people mean to me. Watching them eat, and enjoy the food I have prepared gives me great joy.

As does the anticipation of their coming home to me,
at the end of the day.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Sweden Shop


Baby Clothes at Sweden Shop


A few weeks ago my two daughters, one baby grandson, and I went to the Sweden Shop on Foster in Chicago. It was an outing I had been looking forward to, and I am please to say, I wasn't disappointed. It has been a long standing tradition for us to visit this place. I'm not sure if it's the store or the outing that is the focus, but none the less, off we went.


While the Sweden Shop isn't a earth shattering destination, it is always warm, and pleasant, both in environment, and in experience. E and KR and Henry, and I all set out late morning, hoping to miss the traffic. E finished up some work, played with her baby boy in the back seat, KR was shot gun, while I drove.

Dishes, I love at the shop


The Gods were with us. The traffic was light, a parking place was available right in front of the store, the sun was shining, and all was well.

We entered the store, greeting the staff like it was old home week. We pursued the store's wares, text the owner to see if she was around, (she was), we all chattered back and forth about what we would purchase; fabric, yarn, baby clothes, licorice, clogs? Planning all the while to head next door for a light snack at Tre Kroner after our shopping.

Of course, there are foxes too!







While this may all sound very pedestrian, in reality, it is not.  These daughters of mine are best friends. Something I thought might never happen, after watching them scuffle, and snarl at one another in their childhood.  They had golden moments as well, but I still wondered if they would grow together or apart as siblings sometimes do.

I love the way they refer to each other as "sister", or plan sister-moon* trips, meet up for coffee, take walks, trade leftovers, split cookies, and support one another.



Baby boy with Patti, the owner of the shop,
 two of my favorite people!




I am frequently out of the loop in the relationship they have cultivated. That is okay. It is their relationship. One that delights me to watch.

Which is why this little excursion is so sweet, and lovely to me. I was blessed to be a part of the day they shared with each other as it's joy overflowed onto me.



*Sistermoon is similar to the proverbial honeymoon trip. The two of them love planning trips together, some they take, some they don't.








Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Open Door



Clementine, who has nothing whatsoever to do with this poem.
We've got an open door.

Though,
the windows might be closed.

We've all got dreams.

Though,
the dreams might be nightmares.

We've all got songs.

Though,
all the words might be out of tune.

We've all saved

Though,
the loss is all there is.








Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Small Victories

A baby doll I made, which has nothing
to do with this post, per usual. 

Today is a day of small victories. Well, actually, minuscule victories. World peace was not attained, climate change wasn't changed, politics still don't make sense (even to the most casual observer), and the first day of spring wasn't spring like, in fact it was mostly just really, really cold.


None the less, my small (or shall we say minuscule victories?) made this day nothing less then delightful.

I will spare you the tedious list of various activities I was engaged in, but I will share the one constant experience that glued my day together so cheerfully.

I always found a parking place right where I needed it, when I needed it.

So small. So inconsequential. So not necessary for a good life. Though I must say, it really did add a spring to my step, on this day of the vernal equinox. So, overall, I felt much more benevolent towards the  people I encountered,  not that I don't usually feel this way, but it was easier somehow.


My mother always said, "when people aren't behaving well, and as we know, poor behavior never goes out of style, it usually is because they aren't happy, so give them some space."

I'm thinking maybe a parking space can make all of the difference.

As the cold spring air blew across Lake Michigan, under my coat, chilling my hands, and on my face, finding a parking spot allowed me to be on time, not chilled to the bone, and grateful for life's small gifts.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Parade love into every room...


Himself with grandson #1

I awoke this morning,
bereft.

I had dreamed such beauty.
You were at the heart of it.

Then.
I opened my eyes.
You were not there.

You had made your
silent escape,
while I slept.

When we were young,
I felt your leaving,
glad for you to go.

Now we are older.
Leaving
has darker implications,
I dread to think of.



So now;

I parade your love
in parking lots,
while switching car seats,
(of grandchildren at nursery schools)
in stores of concrete floors
(which make my knees hurt)
in rooms of every sort.
(while our children look on with puzzlement)

Knowing now,
time has always been fleeting,
just not your love.


Friday, March 16, 2018

Baby Days


And here are the objects of my post. 


Well, today is Friday.


For some this means going out for a drink with fellow co-workers. For others, date night, some others it may mean something even more varied then my tried mind can think of as I write these words.

For me Friday means the start of two days without::

1. Diapers to be changed.
2. Nursery school pick-up.
3. Apples cut into slices arranged on non-breakable plate in a floral arrangement.
4. Treat for going to the potty. (What's good for the two year old is good for the grandma)
5. A floor clear of wooden toy trains and baby toys gone awry.

It also means the start of two days without:

1. Spontaneous, small arm  hugs wrapped around my knees, with an upturned face smiling at me.
2. Coos, raspberries, and squeals of enjoyment from two six month old babies.
3. Contagious giggles over unexpected events.
4. Pure unadulterated love, without condition or expectation.
5. Reading story after story after story after story, one more time.

I am glad I am able to care for these little ones, I am also glad to be intimately acquainted with their lives, and their parent's lives too. And while, someday I feel my age acutely, I feel renewed by their love.


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Seduced by Electronics



My spouse, mi esposo, mio marito, mon mari, of just shy of forty years, is my friend, no matter the language.

In fact, we hardly need language to communicate to one another, which is handy as he isn't what one would call a big talker.  Unless, of course, he is recounting his golf shots he takes in the backyard, describing why the loft on his sand wedge is just what he had hoped or how a line of programming code is eluding him in the function he was hoping to achieve.

He loves to swing imaginary golf clubs everywhere, everywhere. To his credit he has a beautiful swing. When we met, he had planned to be a golf pro. He chose another course, no pun in tended, as he felt it was a rough lifestyle for a family, and he wanted a family. He rarely plays on a real course, but his backyard has seen him hone his putting, sand wedge shots, and patience. I have never heard him complain at the lack of playing time, which considering his YouTube profile of golf videos, is exemplary.

His profession ended up in the Information Technology field, in other words, computers. This path has work out well, though it does keep him inside.

He is excellent at explaining things to small children, like the time he substituted for my Sunday school class,and successfully taught them all how to do bicycle hand signals. When you think about it, bicycle hand signals are great metaphor for life. One way or another it is always helpful to communicate just where you are headed, so those around you can anticipate your next move.

One of my favorite things about my husband is this: he is thoughtful. While this thoughtfulness plays out in interesting ways, it is in his tangible gifts, I find this the most delightful.

For my birthday one year, he gave me a power surge protector, when asked why, his response, "I thought you needed one for your computer."  Always looking out for me. For my thirtieth birthday, a portable house phone, before the days of mobile phones. His logic? With four small children running around, it would make my like easier if I could take the phone with me, instead of leaving a child unattended. For Valentine's Day? An I-Pod. He thought it would be nice for me to have portable music when I walked off the baby weight after our fourth child. All of these examples show how quirky, kind, and dear he is to me.

His latest gift? A small boom box, which as I write, sits upon my desk, keeping me company. I had mentioned I wished I could listen to the old WFMT Midnight Special programs we had taped in our youth off off the radio. We listened to this program on Saturday nights while we played with our first baby.

This small electronic wonder arrived several days after I had verbalized this desire. He has once again seduced my heart with electronics, and thoughtfulness.




Saturday, March 3, 2018

Small

Recent watercolor, which once again has little or nothing to do with anything,
least of all this poem. 


Moments build
small mountains
between people.

My mountains
grow without
aid of volcanic lava.

Maybe eruptions.
while sometimes unexpected,
purge pain,
retarding the growth
of heartache.

Though while my heart aches,
my mountains
feel ragged
with sharp cuts,
from cutting words.

Now,
I'm without words,
without tears,
longing for both.

Hoping for:
healing from
salt water,
even while it burns.


Friday, January 12, 2018

Solid Ground

So, it is snowing, again...

Is it possible to sink on solid ground?

Apparently, it is.

As I have been doing so all  week.


It takes time to come around,

to notice,

to observe,

to slip between the picture

and the solid ground.


It feels like shoes don't fit,

like all my dreams were just in my sleep.







Saturday, January 6, 2018

We Had Pie



The Friday before Thanksgiving some of my husband's cousins came to make pie.
 And...we did make
Cranberry Pie
pie. We also made so much more.

There had been a long friendly argument between one of his cousins, and myself regarding making one's own pie crust. I felt that he needed to to try to make his own, and he felt he did not. SIlly man.

My good friend, Paula Hainey, of  Hoosier Mama fame, wrote a delightful cookbook on how to make pie. I purchased a copy for his birthday, I then enlisted her aid in my endeavor to encourage him to make his own pie crust. Hoping her message, MAKE YOUR OWN PIE CRUST, in big friendly letters. along with her autograph, might inspire him. IT DID NOT!

After various volleys back and forth, I invited him over to learn how to make pie crust. He is one of twelve children, ten boys, two girls, and as the news spread between them all, so did the interest of his siblings in joining us.

Hence, I had eight of these cousins coming along for the lesson. I always feel like the more the merrier.

I cleared all of the counters, made recipes of pie dough ahead, as I had only one food processor, with the idea of I would demonstrate one batch, allowing all of them to see how easy it was.  Then they could roll out pie dough from batches that had chilled the correct amount of time, this would make it possible for them to finish in the amount of time we had.

I had made several chicken pot pies, from recipes in Paula's book, for lunch planning we could eat while the pies baked. Then they would be able to take home a completed pie.

My daughter took off work to witness this event, my older daughter with her baby,  came over to join us for lunch, my spouse came home for lunch, after all they were his cousins. It was to be a full house. Just the way I like it.

The cast of cousins arrived in one minivan, Their exit from the vehicle was watched with glee from the front door. The anticipation of this day had loomed large for me. I had been harrassing this poor man for a long time. I had to make good on my assurances that this was going to be worth the trouble.

Yikes.

After everyone had donned their aprons, we moved into the kitchen, and first up was assembling the ingredients in the food processor, which I have had since I was married 40 years ago, promptly broke. Flushed with embarrassment, I called my daughter, who lives across the street, and asked if I could borrow her's amid good natured heckles from the cousins.

Salvation arrived quickly. Once more into the breach, we began. This time all went well. All were amazed with the speed the dough went together. They each got to see the various stages, and seemed like maybe this wasn't so hard. (or so I hope).


Rolling Pie Dough
Rolling out the premade dough came up up next. Flour was pretty contained considering the number, and limited space we were working in. Crimping edges, up next, all did very well.  Pie pans were prepared, filling was poured in,  pies were popped into the ovens, as I took the pot pies out for lunch.

This is when the really wonderful part of this day occurred. The sharing of life. Stories, some I had never heard previously, about my husband, the cousin's mother, my husband's aunt, and my husband's father, who were siblings.  All told amidst laughter, love, and the space to share it in.

Not too  much later,  the baking pies finished. We all tasted the test pie, pronounced it good, just like the day spent together.


As these eight cousins carried their pies out to the minivan for the return trip home, I felt a little choked up.  I have known these people for over forty years, and that day, making pie dough  was a moment in time which made so much more than pie.


As I grow older, I realize these are the magic moments that fall into our laps and may never happen again, so they must be hugged as close possible. For It makes a community that is built of; shared love, lives, and time.



Friday, December 22, 2017

Caught off Guard



Small things,
catch me off guard.

Great Grandma Margaret with Winston
Which of course,
unexpectedly,
brings me to tears.

The kindnesses of
neighbors stopping by,
messages from old friends
both near and far away.

The sound of my mother's silver scissors
sliding across the table,
as if they are still in her hand,
except,
they are in mine.

Today, I made cookies,
from a recipe card,
written in her hand.

And it is her hand,
that guided mine,
I miss the most.