February 26, 2011

[s]Crumptious Crinkle Cookies

Ah, it's been too long since I've touched on food! Around the time my mother gave birth to my first brother a women from the church brought her a box of beautifully stacked and powder-sugared dark-chocolaty brown Crinkle Cookies. My mom got the recipe and they’ve been a favorite ever since.

            No camping trip was complete without them.  Before we would leave my mother would bake a double or triple batch (store them safely in Tupper Ware), and we would be sure that at some point on the trip (I remember particularly the time we camped in DC) around the campfire (after red beans and rice) the container would be pulled out and we’d share in our favorite cookies.

           At least- they were MY favorite cookies (right up there with Girl Scout Thin Mints). My sister became their primary baker for some time- but for a while now I’ve been the leading producer. I’ve made them for birthday-gifts, thank-yous, and farewells. Today I made them for church.

            Once a month our congregation unites for a luncheon, followed by a special topical message by my pastor. It falls to our family's lot to bring a main dish- (stews, enchiladas, soups)- singles bring desserts.

            WELL, I thought. I am single. Cookies are in order! I whipped out the batter. My fingers nimbly worked off chunks of dough, rolled, and powder-sugared them single handedly. How long to bake the cookies for is always a bit of a trick. I’ve over cooked and undercooked- but never had one I didn’t like. But maybe I’m biased. ;-)

Below is another vanity picture.

February 24, 2011

Gogyohka-Thursday [24]

I dreampt

you had fake eyelashes

and wanted to listen

to a vinyl record

in the car.


February 19, 2011

I Did. I Did Go Back.

I told you I'd be back soon. Wednesday I was again at my beloved Metropolitan Museum of Art- one of my favorite places in the world.

It was a lovely day. Spring has blessed us with a premature visit (how long she'll stay, who knows- but I'll take what I can get). I spent the bus ride down chatting with my art teacher (whom I adore). She entrusted to my oversight four students (for various reasons- one had some sort of disability, another she hoped would pick up some of my enthusiasm). How could I not be enthusiastic? -to be back in that great room (they too were overwhelmed), to be back on those great stairs (they could not but help but like them), and to again sit before the product of brilliant genius?

This time I decided to critique my favorite- Graziella by Lefebvre. I wonder if he knew- Lefebvre did- when he painted for the Paris salons- that a hundred and fifty years later a college student in a leather jacket and Indian scarf would sit at his painting's feet in a museum in New York and fall in love with his fisherman's daughter (forlorn, wistful, her blue dress and black hair flowing in the wind- scarlet flowers in her hair and at her feet)?

As I sat there- those who passed marveled as well. Fellow classmates told me they'd considered my piece for their own work. A three year old girl commented to her mother, "She's be-oo-tiful." (I agreed, and the girl hid behind her mother's skirt.)

It was not like in past times where I could go where I wished- my group members needed to spend time with their paintings and we had a list of works to see scattered all over the museum. Still, I tackled my task of instilling enthusiasm in my group and I think, even had I been apathetic, the sheer beauty and grandeur of the place would have won them over on its own.

I had an uncanny moment when I was taking them down the circular staircase in the Medieval Wing to the Cafeteria- I again pointed out the Renoir painting across the way (this time making sure to note that it'd graced my childhood bedroom wall). It was the same time of day. The same stair-case. The same phrasing. And again a guy said, "You should be an art major." Oh, the predictability.

We went on our art-hunt. [We EVEN went to the Egyptian wing. The Egyptian guys are cuter than the Geek and Roman dudes. Just sayin'.] We plagued the guards with questions. "Where is this one?" And where is THIS one? And THIS one? And THIS one? It was surprising how unhelpful they could be- even when they knew what we were talking about. Normally I probably would have gotten a kick out of making them work for their money- but after talking to about ten guards I just wanted to get the whole thing over with. More on guards later. [Villa of Publius Fanius Synistor is, by the way, not just a painting. It an entire room painted from the floor through the ceiling and found in the left side-gallery adjacent to the Roman gallery.]

Our pilgrimage ended in the American Wing. I've never been fond of the American Wing- despite my love for writing desks I just. can't. spend. hours. staring. at furniture. But the American Wing does happen to have my favorite of the Met's statue gardens. 

I was exhausted. One of the girls wanted to go see the furniture. The other wanted to talk on her cell phone. The guys were still in the European wing critiquing. I curled up on a high-backed stone bench (over which cascaded ferns and vines), cast my eyes on the meditating Cleopatra across from me (and at times studied the intricate delicacy of a goddess's ivory fingers), listened to the soft, echoing murmur of the occasional person passing by... was vaguely conscious of a painter a few yards away... and at last fell asleep.

It was a sweet sleep.

A guard woke me up. "EXCUSE ME!" Her voice was harsh, grating, and  strained. "EXCUSE ME!" I sat up with a sudden grace which surprised me. "YOU HAVE TO SIT UP IN THE MUSEUM!" I replied with a cheerfulness I usually don't possess upon being just woken up.

I was awake. And refreshed. But I wondered if there really is a rule about sitting up in the museum... (After all... the STATUES lounge around.)

The gift shop was calling me (and the pair of earrings I have these long years coveted.) I looked for them. I even contemplated buying them. But they were gone- bought, I suppose, by somebody with more money than me. So I looked at hundred-dollar jewelry boxes, seventy dollar wallets, and priceless art replicas before being informed there was a calender sale (it is, after all, almost March) and I got an arsty calender thingy for two dollars.

The bus was leaving. I ran through the Egyptian exhibit. I ran through the lobby. I danced down the front stairs (glancing out wistfully at 82nd Street) and ran past the fountains to the bus- where my teacher stood  alone, waiting. She smiled. "Did you see anyone on your way out?" "No." She teased me- something to the effect of- "We were probably waiting for you."

And again we were gone. Good-bye, Met. See you later.

*Head photo by John Glines. Used by permission.

February 17, 2011

Gogyohka-Thursday [23]

sorting through the mountain

of papers on my desk...

letters, forms, receipts...

and oh, look!


February 12, 2011

Oysters on the Half-Shell


My brother and I with various relations set out
hand-in-hand down shadow-clasped lanes.
Clouds dancing with sunbeams, wind playing with my hair-
the day I first had oysters on the half-shell.

Whiffs of Eucalyptus, my mother’s smell to me
called us further into the valley,
till the great trunks, like sentries, as we passed bowed away
and we found ourselves on market street.

Tents, an encampment, lining the square-
their admirals busy selling their wares-
while civilians rushed, oblivious of war,
to buy peaches and strawberries and pears.

We wove our way, like cats in a kitchen,
through the masses and hubbub of happiness,
till one stand we came to, full of oysters on ice
and my uncle bought four to share.

They looked like old men (yes, they did), to me-
oiled and wrinkled with age.
But the murmurs of wonder, and licks of delight
caved my spirit, and I said, “I’ll try a bite.”

The sauce went on, the hand was held out,
and the oyster was put to my mouth.
Oh, horror! On the shell of an oyster!

The sauce was all gone, I’d have spit it out-
but ice bulk of the oyster filled my mouth.
I gagged and I gulped and I smiled through my tears,
my tongue massaging my teeth.

“Do you like it?” they asked. I don’t know what I said.
 I swallowed, murmuring something to pass time.
 And the next thing I knew, it was over and done
and we moved on under the smirking sunshine.

February 10, 2011

Gogyohka-Thursday [22]

strangers talking

fighting the silence

latching onto passing thoughts

nodding and laughing

too easily

February 7, 2011

And Then They Grow Up!

WHACK! Jr. just hit your friend's child. "NO, Jr.! No! No!" Tears. Hugs. And play resumes.

That was when Jr. was 3... and 5. But then one day you blink and Jr.'s 7, then 9, then 11, then 13.

We all remember the transition (gradual, and more often then not awkward and turbulent) that we (that is our parents) made as we transitioned from kids, to children, to something confusing, and finally into adults. Yet from cradle to cars (keys, jobs, weddings, what-have-you) there are countless steps and countless changes which constantly keep us on our toes and more often than not leave us marveling.

I'm no parent (though I have experienced my own), but I had just such a moment the other day- when I realized someone wasn't so little any more.

My little sister is every bit the seven year old. She says the funniest things. Last month it was, "Linda, you're a piece of WORK!" (Yes, she said that, with admiration lighting up her eyes. We explained to her what that phrase meant- and she was old enough to laugh at herself.) Then just the other day (perhaps influenced by the stories of Abraham and Issac's lies about their so-called "sisters"), "The Egyptians would want to marry you, you're so beautiful!"

Anyway, we had a less than pleasant interaction when she did something at the dinner table and I cried out, "That's MEAN!" The situation was resolved between us (or so I thought), but then 12 hours later she came up to me and said, "When you said that in front of everyone, it hurt my feelings."

The truth of her statement went to my heart. Here she had a problem with me and she was doing what she was supposed to do- coming to me privately and talking to me about it. While I (as if she was still three) had called her out on her issue publicly. 

When did that happen? When did she stop being three? Here is my nearly eight year old sister (just a few short years away from puberty) becoming, though so far from an adult, fully an individual- and my sister twice over in the Lord. I owe her the same courtesy I do everyone- no less because I  held her as a newborn and changed her diaper and still have to remind her she doesn't always know what she's talking about (and I still have to put her food into the microwave for her because she can't reach) and because she still wants me to do good-night stories with her teddy-bear.

I don't know how one deals with the foolishness and ignorance of youth- even while giving them the respect and entrusting them with the responsibility which is the very thing which inspires them to grow. I guess it's the age-old question. I'm asking it already. My parents asked it. And their parents. Nobody seems to have the answer- or to have done it perfectly- but we're growing up anyway.

February 5, 2011

Ode to My Cup

Just for fun, -one of the poems I've written lately. (This is what happens when you leave a foot or more of snow on your roof!)

Standing on my windowsill
blinking in the morning light,
reflecting the falling crystals
melting in and outside-
catching water droplets
which would otherwise
hit my head
keeping water off my books
and the foot-board of my bed.
The thick sound of plunking
as each drop hits the base-
a thunder, gently rumbling
keeping rain at bay.
The water quiets, swelling now
it rises against the rounded steel
it looks to overflow, perhaps
in its helping, welling, zeal.
It’s gathering in the showers,
it’s hiding pools in its caves-
my cup from foreign places
now foreign rains contains.
But I am safe, with my soldier near
(I don’t care so long as I’m dry).
Though wet, I think him as glad as me-
I imagine he overflows with joy.

February 3, 2011

Gogyohka-Thursday [21]

My  little sister and I

have made a pact:

only one drawing

(green giants, red sky)

on my desk at a time