cook.book.

cook.book.

Before the invention of the internet, people had to find recipes in magazines and newspapers, on the backs of boxes and plastic wrappers and jars, in cookbooks and handwritten on recipe cards. There was no Pinterest. There was no Google. If you lost that scrap of paper your grandma had scratched her wisdom on, you were screwed forever.

Around Thanksgiving, I tried to make my mom’s pumpkin bread. But I couldn’t find the recipe, it was no doubt already packed up in a box, in preparation for our impending move. I scoured the internet, but couldn’t find anything that looked right. Finally, I settled on one that seemed close enough. But it wasn’t. Pumpkin bread was ruined. I didn’t even attempt fudge.

Tonight, we unearthed the box of recipes in our new kitchen and took our time going through some of them. Most of them were from my mom’s house, saved from the dumpster after she died. We sifted through the scraps, the thin paper and plastic ripped or carefully cut from the various media my mother relied upon for information of the domestic sort. We found handwritten recipes stuffed into books, dog-eared pages for meals she wanted to make at some point. Carefully folded pieces of paper containing my grandmother’s sweet dough concoction. All of it causing a swell of bittersweet goodness in my chest. The pumpkin bread recipe! The fudge! It was all here for me to make at Christmas, scrawled in Mom’s perfect handwriting.

And there were other recipes, too. For casseroles and pies, spicy jerk chicken and pasta salads. Fancy appetizers and tarts. Meals and desserts she lovingly sought out and saved for her family.

All I could think, as we put the books on their new shelves where we can always find them from now on, was, “My mom never made any of this shit.”

So I guess I, here from the Pinterest generation, am not so different from my mother after all.

 

worth.a.try.

worth.a.try.

I realize I haven’t been around much, lately. Summer is hard. Blogging is hard. Life is hard.

We moved, recently. It was a significant down-sizing and I am still dealing with the massive overflow of STUFF my husband, children, and I have accumulated during our lives. We thought simplifying would be easy, but it’s been a real struggle. Mainly because, as my husband says, I’m “an episode of Hoarders waiting to happen.”

I feel like I’ve gotten a little better, lately. While I still miss my mother fiercely, the sting of her death isn’t as harsh as it used to be. It seems to be easier to let go of the things that made her her a little more bearable. Sometimes that realization sends me into a spiral of depressive thoughts and self-loathing, but it is what it is. We’ve gotta move on.

Writing has helped. Writing is this wonderful thing where you can make your thoughts tangible, and if you want, you can strike them down dead again before anyone reads them and realizes what a looney you are. Writing teaches you what belongs and what doesn’t. What is necessary to keep the plot hurtling forward, and what should be discarded. It teaches you how to simplify. It teaches that the most straight-forward way is most likely the best way. It also teaches patience. That your first draft of anything is probably shit, but more importantly, that the shit is okay. Not only okay, the shitty first draft that you cringe to read weeks later is necessary.

That’s a nice thought. I wish it could be expanded. What if I could say, The last ten years were just a messy outline of how I want the rest of this story to go. These next ten, I’m going to cut the fat, limit the long sentences, cut a few of the characters, and focus on moving this story forward to its destination?

I know we can’t, but maybe I’ll try, anyway. Instead of starting a brand new story, maybe I’ll just edit the one I’ve already started. Flesh out the characters. Polish it up. Maybe by the time I’m ninety, my basement will be immaculate, my life will be simple, and my story will be a best-seller.

It’s worth a try.

topsy.turvy.

topsy.turvy.

In two short weeks, I will have been with my husband for fifteen years.

Fifteen years.

That doesn’t even sound right. That’s a lot of freaking years. But, it’s true. We have jammed quite a lot of living into those fifteen years. We’ve had two kids, we’ve mourned together, we’ve fought, we’ve laughed our asses off, we’ve travelled, we’ve created… but I’m not going to talk about any of that sappy crap right now. Right now, I’m going to talk about that phenomenon which seems to happen while you move.

You know that strange thing that happens when you’re moving house, right? When, for some reason, the person for which your heart swells with pride and admiration every single other day in your life, becomes the proxy victim of homicide in all of your short stories while you are trying to pack, rearrange, and shove your entire life into boxes, only for them to spring out accordion-like out of those same boxes in the most frustrating manner imaginable at your new house?

No? That’s just me?

Please tell me it isn’t just me. Well, I’m sure it isn’t. In fact, I’m pretty sure my dearest, darling, smoopsy-poo has similar feelings towards me while all these packing and organizational disasters are going on. After all, I am the world’s least organized person. I will suggest a way to accomplish a goal, and invariably, he will suggest an alternative route. And not just an alternative route, but one in total opposition to mine. Then we will shake our hands at each other in desperate wonder. Because honestly, how the hell can we be so compatible and so completely at odds with each other over the simplest. freaking. tasks?!? It makes my head spin to think of all of the idiotic arguments we have had in the last decade and a half. Seriously, sometimes in the middle of a heated, hand-wringing, head-shaking, foot-stomping argument, there will be this little moment of clarity for both of us, as if someone has rung the Dumbest-Shit-Ever bell, and we will look at each other, at ourselves, and laugh our asses off at how freaking moronic we are being. I can’t even tell you how one of those arguments starts. And I guess, that’s the point.

We have moved now, four times since we were married. We have done extensive remodeling projects. We have given each other various opportunities to bludgeon each other to death with power tools, and we haven’t, yet. So, I guess this whole marriage thing is going to work out, after all.

I’m tired from moving and all of this is rambling nonsense, but I guess what I wanted to say, is don’t choose a partner who is perfect when everything in life is. Turn your whole world upside down, shake the drawers out all over the floor, cut a hole in your ceiling, and push yourself to the point of exhaustion. If you still feel like crawling into the same bed together while all that is going on, you might have a keeper.

Now excuse me, but I have to go have an argument over where this stupid freaking bookshelf is going to go.