Saturday, September 21, 2013

My Mother in a Flower Print Dress

This b/w photo of my mother as a young girl intrigues me-both because of her youth and her style. I love her dress with that flower print and fashionable neckline. My mother's taste for fine fabric was obvious at an early age. Years later she'd open a fabric shop. She was a perfectionist as a seamstress. Camel coats-suits-robes-she made them all. Every seam was straight. Every dart exact.

I love her hair. The style reminds me of what movie stars from that era wore on screen. I don't ever recall her wearing her hair long. This is the longest I've ever seen her hair. But even more intriguing to me than the dress or the hair are her eyes. They're not tired or worried. They're full of possibility. Did you ever wonder what your mother dreamt about when she was young and life was yet to unfold? We all have things about us that we keep to ourselves. We all have hopes and dreams and expectations we keep silent in our hearts that have nothing to do with children or family but rather all to do about us. I wonder what my mother kept silent as she reached adulthood-went to nursing school-met my father-and had children.

Some things she never kept silent were her love of books and Dean Martin. Her two favorite songs were 'In The Mood' and 'Mack the Knife.' She loved new cars and expensive clothes. She was a fine cook. Her hot chocolate sauce served over vanilla ice cream was possibly the most delicious tasting delight ever! She did her nails weekly and Toujours Moi was her perfume of choice. She loved Christmas. The tree had to be the tallest-the fullest.

But I still wonder. Underneath the books-songs-cars-clothes-perfume-chocolate sauce and Christmas trees-I wonder what she kept silent in her heart. Maybe it's because I am getting older that I wonder such a thing. Or maybe it's because I see another side of my mother that I never knew when looking into her curious eyes-dressed in that dress with a flower print and fashionable neckline.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pie Remnants

I am no expert on pie making. I think if I made a pie more often I could master creating the crust from scratch but it would never taste like my grandmother's. Her idea of mixing ingredients for a pie crust was a pinch of this and a dash of that and lard was always cut into the sifted flour with a knife. She was a Master Maker of Pies-berry, raisin, mincemeat, strawberry-rhubarb, and of course, pumpkin and apple.

It didn't have to be a holiday for pies to be in her oven. You knew the minute you walked in the door if she was baking. That sweet aroma was all through the house. And it didn't end there for once the pies were cooling-she'd gather the remnants of crust dusted with flour sitting on the counter and roll them into one ball of spongy dough with her hands. Then she'd roll the dough out with her wooden rolling pin-and cut through the dough with a cookie cutter-and repeat the process until all the dough had been recycled into shapes and those shapes were lying on a pan waiting to be baked. That didn't take very long. And it didn't take long for them to disappear once out of the oven. No one walking through that kitchen could resist having a few of the piping hot tarts. Served with jam or cinnamon or sugar, they were always anticipated after the pies were baked.

Another variation of that basic tart was to spoon a little jam into the center of the cut-out pie crust. Then the sides would be folded in, covering up the jam, before baking until the crust turned a golden bronze. Pulling them out of the oven, the jam would be oozing out onto the baking sheet which made them all the more tempting with a glass of milk or cup of coffee.

Funny how something as simple as a small tart made of leftover spongy pie crust and sweetened even more by jam or cinnamon or sugar can taste so absolutely delicious. I think it was really all about that kitchen and who was rolling out the dough and baking the pies and tarts-with a pinch of this and a dash of that of course!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Picasso in the Pumpkin Patch

I own a Picasso! It came in the mail-exquisitely drawn on a card with smiling pumpkins on the front. I know why my little Picasso chose that particular Grandparent's Day card. It was those pumpkins! You see, this little Picasso and I wander about the gardens out back. They are full of pumpkins of all sizes-some are still green-some a vibrant orange-all still on gnarly vines with picky leaves. They're so picky that she'll pull her dimpled hand back and ask me to move those big, ugly, prickly leaves out of the way so she can squat down and pat each one-big or small. And as she is patting them ever so gently in their beds of soil or grass she quietly talks to them, telling me to be quiet because they are sleeping.

"Shh Gra-Gra! Shhh," she will say to me in a concerned tone with her finger to her lips.

Then whispering in a little voice sounding more like a chorus of angels, she tells each pumpkin she touches how pretty it is-how nice it is as the wind sifts through the plants getting weary as the seasons change and her silky hair twirls in the breeze and butterflies still dance about.

This little artist also loves to tiptoe around in spots where the grass is so high you can't see what is hidden underneath. Lifting one leg up as far as she can and then the other, it's as if she is on a treasure hunt. Actually, she is. She gets giggly excited when squatting back down and pulling that grass out of the way, she finds a pumpkin. If it is a little one she wonders where its mommy and daddy have gone. She tells the little pumpkin how it will be okay-how much she loves him.

"Look Gra-Gra! Another one! Another one!," she declares to me as we sit side-by-side and talk about each one she discovers.

Soon we will gather to celebrate those pumpkins that have inspired a little Picasso, sparking her curiosity even more of the world around her. What in springtime was but a garden, has turned into a memory maker. I wonder how she'll feel when it comes time to pick her little friends off those tired vines. I do believe many of them will be going home with her and her little brother and dog and mommy and daddy. After all, that's what friends are for-especially for this little Picasso who has nurtured the pumpkins along the way-even drawn them as is evident in my original Picasso above. And like any Picasso-this original is priceless.