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Showing posts from February, 2021

Six Deaths, Zero Funerals

  Art by Nicholas Wostl Find him on Instagram @fim_arts A life problem I never wanted to have: trying to remember which of the boxed sympathy cards I sent to someone six weeks ago so I wouldn't send them the same one. A few weeks ago I wrote about when my Aunt MaryJane died at the beginning of January. Last week I didn't write, couldn't bring myself to write, because we had just lost my Uncle Bill, her husband. My count now is one pandemic, six deaths in my circle of family and friends (none COVID-related) , and zero funerals. One neighbor and two dear friends were widowed last year. My husband's brother died at his home in Florida. Now, in 2021, my aunt and uncle are both gone in the space of six weeks. This is the most inhuman part of coping with this pandemic for me -- no funerals. No gathering together to grieve and reminisce and comfort each other.  No hugs. This is particularly brutal for me, as I'm an avid hugger. The first and one of the few times I ugly cri

Cake that Tastes Like Christmas in February

  Photo by Susan Mark Eating nothing but orange kiss-me-cake for lunch was probably ill-advised. As the saying goes, I regret nothing. What is orange kiss-me cake, you ask? (Or didn't ask… a little presumptuous on my part.) It's a lovely concoction somewhere between cake and quick bread with orange juice concentrate (and a lot of butter) in the batter. More orange concentrate drizzled on top, sprinkled with sugar, cinnamon and pecans. My sister Cindy always used to make kiss-me cake around Christmas when I was a kid. She must have baked it at other times, but I associate it with the holidays -- the happiness of the tree and carols and family. The cake doesn't turn out quite as intended. No recipe goes without glitches on first try, or on first try after many years of not making it. The project gave me an excuse to call her for advice -- remove the cakes from the pans before drizzling/sprinkling or not? Our conversation lasted much longer than a simple answer. Cooking or s

Writing Rules I Can Live With

Photo by Susan Mark I chafe at lists of writing rules, all the nevers and don'ts that imply there is one way to tell a story. If I want to use a dialogue tag other than "said," Mr. Leonard, I will. (She opined.) Despite that, a few years ago I wrote my own list that I'm reposting this morning. RULES FOR MY KITCHEN Coffee first, then food. Live dangerously. Lick the batter off the spoon. Eat what you want. Listen to your body. Make a mess. Clean it up. I love you, but stay out of my kitchen when I cook. Food is forgiving. Create recklessly. Recipes are mere suggestions. Experiment. You can never go wrong starting dinner with sizzling onions. Although there are limits. Sizzling onions over ice cream? Doubtful. On the other hand, I could be mistaken. Try onion ice cream if you want. When in doubt, err on the side of too much butter. Vanilla, too. Measure it over the bowl so the extra spills over. Garlic makes life complete. Fresh is better. Invest