27 June 2015

this morning



While Alice fought sleep and I rolled out dough, I read through my grandmother's strawberry rhubarb pie recipe. It is typed and glue-sticked to a rectangle of black construction paper. My mental snapshots of Meema are warm- set on her front porch, in her kitchen, and on the beaches of Matunuck, Rhode Island. They're in my childhood kitchen too- hearing her voice on the phone before I left for school in the morning.

As I read her recipe and sliced our backyard strawberries, I wished I could hear her voice again: I don't have enough rhubarb Meema, is that okay? Can I substitute mango juice for orange? Will it need less sugar? And then I felt a sudden, surprising, frog-in-my-throat sadness not to have had more time with her. I was so little when she died and the loss becomes more evident as I age. I wish I'd had a chance to know her differently, like I know and love my mom. As women, wives, mothers. Friends.

Our second strawberry rhubarb pie of the season is sitting on the counter and the oven is almost done self-cleaning. Unlike Meema, the two go hand in hand when I'm baking. Last weekend (or was it the one before?) was my first attempt at crust from scratch. It came out good, too good in fact, because then I found myself a bit too cocky in the prep of my second ever batch of crust. Attempt numero duo yielded altogether too wet a dough, and though the end result is still delicious, the watery dripping in the oven caused a smoke-capade every time I opened the oven door. So, now it self-cleans and I promise to pay more attention to adding that ice water tablespoon, not measuring cup, at a time. I promise.

But just in case I make the same mistake again- what would you do about watery crust, Meema? Can I just kneed in more flour or will that mess up the consistency?


In case you're interested: THIS is the crust recipe I used. The tips and tricks were incredibly helpful for a novice like myself and the result was delicious- flaky and golden, even when over-watered and steamed.

16 June 2015

also fierce

Last Friday I gave Kitty a ride. Kitty's real name is Eleanor, but she doesn't like it so she "goes by kitty, like, meow, a cat." This is what she told me as I drove from one shopping plaza to the next so that she could catch a bus back to Lynn. We'd met as I was checking out at Savers- the best place for vintage glass food storage containers. She asked if I was going to the mall.

"No, I need to go back to work."
(Which was honest: I did, but the mall is also in direct line between Savers and the office.)

"Oh, that's too bad. You see, the bus doesn't come here for another 5 hours, but it goes to the mall every hour. So, I'll just be waiting here for the next 5 hours..."

"I can give you a ride. Let me pull my car around."

The is not a hitching humblebrag. Its a confession. Why did I hesitate? She was elderly, frail. She asked me for a ride. What could she possibly do to me? I have a car. I have room for passengers. I have more than I need and all she needed was a ride.

It was a quick time together but I heard about her late husband and how she doesn't think there is any such thing as the "terrible twos." She liked my car- "what a cute car! this is a nice car!" She said "goodbye honey" when we got to the bus stop at the mall- as if I'd see her again soon- and then walked away lugging her plastic bags of second hand bath towels.

I make all kinds of mistakes, but I do try to be generous and true. And, also fierce.

13 June 2015

alterations

"Why does everything have to change?!"

Jake couldn't find the apple cider vinegar and he was upset about it. It hadn't been put back in its usual spot in the cupboard. Why wasn't it where it was supposed to be? Why must everything, even our pantry, shift and change? WHY CAN'T THINGS REMAIN?

He may argue me on this one, but I don't think the issue was really the vinegar. Jake is changing jobs. My job situations are shifting. We're changing our approach to childcare. It is suddenly summer, the air is heavy, and Jake's MS doesn't appreciate the heat. Jake's sister is moving. My mom has a big birthday coming up. Alice is walking. Our friends lost their dad last month and our other friend's mom is in the ICU. Additionally, the evolution of Kimberly LaCroix has suddenly become enormously clear to Jake too. Almost daily, Jake wonders aloud at the changes...

Jake's first impression of me was "proper"- artsy and well-mannered. This impression was soon followed by the details that I wanted to move to NYC and pursue a cosmopolitan, fast-paced life, get my doctorate in theatre, perform, direct, travel the world. What a life! And maybe someday I'll live it. But, it has become abundantly clear that it is not the life I want right now. Academia and upheaval? They don't appeal to my current priorities- they haven't for a while. The last year has revealed alterations slowly stitched in my person through the last half decade that I've known Jake.

+

I'm always thinking about what I'll get when I finally get a tattoo. I've settled on that now too, but when I studied abroad in 2007, I was considering the word "CHANGE." Then, I was considering it in Lugandan. I asked my home-stay mother what the Lugandan word for "change" was and she had no answer.

"You mean coins? Change in your pocket?"
"No," I explained, "change to who you are, like when you grow."

She proceeded to explain that people don't change. In Uganda, who we are is personified as a soul that resides outside our bodies. We spend our lives growing into this self- becoming who we are intended to be. You can't change who you are; you fulfill who you are.

+

Last week we had a backyard fire and Katie E, age 7, had the realization that Alice's initials (A.L.L.) are the "same as yours Auntie!"

[general confusion]

"Katie, what do you think my name is?"
"Auntie Linda LaCroix."

I'll attest that there are heaps of complements worked up in this one and not be amiss that my niece had no recollection of my name- and that it absolutely did not ring any bells when we finally told her what it actually was. To Katie and Artie, my name has merged with who I am- their auntie, daughter to Linda, wife to Jake, and mom to A.L.L. (so of course our initials match!). They've been more often slipping and calling me mommy too. Something about being a mom has catapulted me into a different realm in their eyes/hearts.

+

I dream of homesteading: goats, fruit trees, growing all our own food. I even read things about homeschooling. Homeschooling? You've got to be kidding me. Who is this meat-eating, gardening, person I've become? 

The same person who didn't eat meat and who wanted tight spaces and dirty city air. 

I'm the same person. And a different person too.


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