Andra Watkins has been encouraging her readers to make a memory. I regret it’s too late for me to make any more memories with my mom. So, instead, I’ll share a few.
- Discussing with two of my aunts my bosom size and how lucky I was to be well endowed. I was TEN.
- Inviting my boyfriend (if you can even call him that) in the 7th grade and his mother over for tea. So embarrassing. I don’t even think I spoke more than 20 words to him the whole time we went steady, let alone stare lovingly into his eyes. Sorry, Bas.
- Treating me like a princess for a day. I think I was 7 or 8 years old. Even though I was the only child living at home by that time, my mom still made a big deal out of it.
- Insisting that I take private Portuguese lessons over Christmas break even though we had just moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil, and my language teacher had decided not to give me a grade as I was so new.
- Not insisting that I continue to take ballet or guitar lessons. Thank you, mom.
- Buying me a paperback copy of Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care two months after Christian was born. Perhaps it was her way of telling me I wasn’t doing it right. But, at least, she did not judge.
- Walking through the snow and ice in Pittsburgh during the winter of 1979 to catch the bus out to Northway Elementary School. It was miserable, but we did it every school day for several months. We had just moved back to the States after 5 years in Western Australia. And, my new classmates were weird.
- Walking everywhere. All of the time. Mom loved to walk fast.
- Making and eating pie. Mom used to bake them when I was little, lemon meringue in particular. But, in later years, she was always on the hunt for a competent, made-from-scratch piece of pie.
Writing of these few memories reminds me how my mom taught me to be open minded, to embrace different cultures and experiences, and to love and be loyal to my family. I only hope I can provide my son with half of the memories mom left me.
Who Art Thou?
Don’t judge me. Recently, upon checking in for my I-hate-this-with-a-vengeance annual OB/GYN visit, the receptionist asked me what my religious preference is. I found this puzzling. Why does it matter? Does this have to do with the Affordable Care Act? After a brief pause, I answered, “Agnostic.” Plain and simple.
In his August 30, 2014, column, Frank Bruni expressed my sentiments exactly. In it, he discusses Sam Harris’s new book, “Waking Up.” Harris is a well-known atheist. What caught my eye and nailed it for me was what Bruni said about religion in America today:
I’m not casting a vote for godlessness at large or in my own spiritual life, which is muddled with unanswered and unanswerable questions. I’m advocating unfettered discussion, ample room for doubt and a respect for science commensurate with the fealty to any supposedly divine word. We hear the highest-ranking politicians mention God at every turn and with little or no fear of negative repercussion. When’s the last time you heard one of them wrestle publicly with agnosticism?
I come from a religious mixed bag. In my family history, there are hell fire-and-brimstone Southern Baptist traditions. I was baptized a Presbyterian, attended several different Protestant churches in Pinjarra, Western Australia, and received my first Communion in an Anglican church in Sao Paulo, Brazil. As empty-nesters, seeking fulfillment elsewhere, my parents converted to Catholicism.
In 2012, the Pew Research Center released a study, ‘Nones’ on the Rise. According to Pew, one-fifth of American adults have no religious affiliation, a trend that has for years been on the rise. Whether this is a positive trend or not is up for debate. But, to avoid assumptions and allow for openminded and unprejudiced (dare I say fair and balanced?) discussion is unequivocally important.
I respect one’s freedom to worship and think one religion is no better, no more righteous than the other. God, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Ganesh…they’re all the same in my eyes. Selecting who or what to worship is a very personal decision.
A Time Out
Before I saw this article in The New York Times, I had been considering a self-imposed time out from social media. Then yesterday, I maxed out. I took a step back and realized how obsessed I am with keeping up with you all and everything that’s it. I do not want to miss a beat. You all are so interesting.
But, as Brazilians say, “Chega!” “Enough!”
With you as my witness, I hereby vow to take a thirteen-day break from all online things social beginning today. Almost TWO weeks. No checking in, no posting photos, no liking what you’re up to, no tweeting, nada.
It will give you a break, too.
And, no, there’s no deep reason, no one is forcing me, I’m not trying to set a good example. I just want to.
See you in two weeks.
Christian was bored this morning so he decided to cook up a batch of benne wafers. Go figure. Of course, he included a “super sized” version.
Here’s the recipe courtesy of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.
1/2 c. sesame seeds
1 tbsp. butter
1 c. light-brown sugar
3 tbsp. flour
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and lightly flour some cookie sheets. Put the sesame seeds in a small pan and stir or shake them over moderate heat until they are slightly brown. Remove from the heat, stir in the remaining ingredients, and mix well. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto the cookie sheets, leaving 2 inches between them for the cookies to spread. Bake until just slightly brown, 4 – 6 minutes. Remove from the cookie sheets very carefully while still warm. If they stiffen and are hard to remove, put the cookie sheets back in the oven for 1 minute. Makes about 36 cookies.
Dog is His Co-Pilot
This weekend, Christian and Jasmine learned a new trick. She is now his co-pilot.
He had wanted badly to let her run along beside him while he pedaled. So be it, I said. And, they did. It’s something. Jasmine actually pays attention to his every move, as if to say, “See? I told you I could do it!”
Kona, on the other hand, is quite perplexed. “Stay within our sight!” I yell as they ride and run off. Kona tugs on the leash, begins to wimper, moving into full whine. And, then high pitched barks. “Wait,” I scold her, “only Jasmine may do that!” Not to worry, Kona gets her chance, every once and a while. But, poor thing, she doesn’t seem to get the anticipate-the-bike and slow down parts.
Christian is happy. I am happy and predict many adventures with his co-pilot.
Dogs in Black
Ken pointed out this morning that we have yet another way to refer to Jasmine and Kona, in addition to coffee and tea: We can call them J and K, after Agents J and K in Men in Black.
Somehow, I think our dogs’ repertoire as secret agents would be more like the aliens manning the coffee station in the break room of INS Division 6 headquarters.
It’s a Wild Week
This week, Ken’s cooking has gone wild.
Let me be very clear: We are not hunters. Well, Ken and Christian did witness a gator’s demise, but neither pulled the trigger.
Freshly processed bounty from friends who hunt? We’re game. Really.
So, what to do with one and a half pounds of ground venison? We considered making it into patties and grilling them but thought the meat may be too lean. What then? Johnny Marzzetti courtesy of allrecipes.com. Et voila! Lunch and dinner for the week. Tip: It’s okay to substitute brown rice for the pasta.
Two pounds of alligator filets? Trim them into bite size pieces, lightly dredge in flour, and sauté in grape seed oil. Add some homemade, tastes-just-like Raising Cane’s dipping sauce. Not bad.
I was squeamish at first bite. But, both are really quite good. And, it is a bit like living off the land: Sitting down to dinner…in our house…on a suburban cul-de-sac knowing our food was procured not too far away, in the wild.
I Wish I Were a Poet
I wish I were a poet.
That way, I could bury my emotions behind a piece of art, of prose. Instead of focusing on me, people would focus on the art, trying to interpret it instead of me.
When facing fear, I fall behind a smile, a laugh…”It’s okay, really.” Afraid to expose my feelings, wanting to scream, “DON’T MAKE ME SHARE!”
I wish I were a poet.
Did I Really Just Say That?
To share or not to share. How much as a parent am I really supposed to discuss with and expose to our twelve-year-old son? Ken is better at sharing than I am. He’s not squeamish. He’s matter-of-fact and lays it out for the taking. Which, I think in the long run, is good and healthy.
I’m still working on it. Sometimes, topics come up at the dinner table that make me want to crawl out of my skin and go hide under a blanket. But, that’s okay. Maybe I’m growing up, too. As I reflect, I appreciate that we can discuss taboo subjects as a family in a mature, unemotional, and nonjudgmental way.
Don’t overreact. My mom’s cousin offers this: Don’t appear shell-shocked when your kid tells you something you may not want to hear. Poker face it all the way, baby. Or, at least until you have had time (and, maybe a drink) to consider your options. Older children are guaranteed to clam up the moment they think you don’t get it, or don’t ever want to get it.
Adults want teens to share their private thoughts. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal by Ann Lukits reports that teens who share their secrets are better adjusted.
Perhaps as parents, we can open our minds and share a bit more, too.
A Visit by Two Mycteria Americana
Two wood storks made an appearance on the pond this week. Pretty neat since they are classified as an endangered species in the U.S.
Every once in a while, a solo wood stork shows up. But Ken was quite impressed when he discovered this couple sunning themselves. Well, rather, Jasmine and Kona…well, really Jasmine…
announced their arrival.
Of course, Ken longed to take a closer look and get the perfect photo. But, better to leave such creatures in peace and enjoy their mere presence as they did not stay for long.
Oh, the girls? They were rewarded for their discovery with lounging on the sofa for the remainder of the afternoon.