This summer, I was privileged to reunite with two dear friends. Friends I had not seen in decades, longer than some other friends have been alive.
I’m a worrier. I worry about what people will think of me. I want to be liked. So, when Caroline, Margy and I decided to meet in San Francisco and started planning, I started worrying. Would they like the accommodations I had arranged? (did I mention I’m also obsessed with planning?) Would they still like me? Would they like my family? What would they think of Ken, the man I married almost twenty-two years ago? Had I changed too much?
I worried for nought. It was as if we had not skipped a beat, like we had just hung out the night before. Sure, we had catching up to do but there was no awkwardness, no need for getting to know each other again. The only change? We had grown up. But down deep we were still the same 10-year-olds that had last time together probably pretended to be ABBA, debating who got to play Agnetha.
My only worry now? When I will see them next. I want to start planning pronto. I hope we will meet here, where we once all lived as neighbors.
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.
Perhaps as parents, we can open our minds and share a bit more, too.
Christian really wanted a dock for Christmas. For his kayak. On the
retention pond in our backyard.
Ken decided it was to be. So on Christmas Eve, off to Lowe’s he went to purchase a pickup load of treated lumber. Said lumber then was hauled up the front steps into our living room and was carefully placed under the tree. I was concerned. Concerned that there it would sit for more than just a week. For months. But, out it went on New Year’s Day, onto the back porch then down the steps to the prep area.
This past Sunday, my two men worked in unison, father teaching son new skills. Patience, measure twice, cut once. All day long.
Then, in they came at dark. Instead of retreating to the comfort of his recliner, Ken proceeded to cook a gourmet dinner. Did I feel inadequate? A bit. But, I was sick. Really.
On the menu: Green salad with a mustard vinaigrette, creamy cauliflower soup (see recipe below), and broiled cod. Simple, right? Maybe, but I was impressed.
By the way, it’s Ken’s birthday today.
Creamy Cauliflower Soup (courtesy of Sunset)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced (we recommend using only one)
- About 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 large head cauliflower (2 lbs.), chopped
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- Freshly ground white pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced chives
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Heat vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and salt, cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are very soft, 5 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and wine. Cook, stirring, until liquid is almost completely evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Stir in cauliflower and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until cauliflower is very soft, 20 to 25 minutes.
- In 3 batches, whirl soup in a blender until very smooth, at least 3 minutes per batch (or, if you’d like a few florets in your soup, blend 2 batches and leave the last chunky). Stir together and season to taste with white pepper and salt.
- In a small bowl, combine olive oil, chives, and parsley. Ladle soup into bowls and decoratively drizzle herb oil on top.
Ken has started a blog and he will blog much, much more than I do. And garner a lot more attention for it. He will. I know it.
In the blink of an eye, he has created ArchiCHAZZ.com and has a plethora of content ready to post.
I’m very happy for him because he’s a really, really smart and talented guy. And more people need to know that. So, please check it out and learn something new.
I must give credit for the title of this post to the film, My Architect. But unlike Nathaniel Kahn who never knew his father, Louis Kahn, I know my husband.
My parents are serial walkers. They don’t just take simple strolls around the block. They take WALKS. LONG WALKS. I appreciate that they do this and that they made me take LONG WALKS with them.
Yesterday morning, I received the following in an email from my dad. It made me smile. I hope it makes you smile, too.
Julia and I attempt to take a fairly long walk almost everyday. Most of the time we just walk around the neighborhood. Sometimes, we drive to O’Hara and walk around the beautiful little park and sometimes we go to North Park and sometimes go to Hartwood Acres. We often go the Highland Park water reservoir and do the one mile walk around the lake. We use to walk the two miles from the apartment there and back which makes the total walk 5 miles long. Now, we don’t do that since we are older. We drive and park on the hill behind the lake. This day we had our walk around the lake and were walking up the lane to the car. We approached a new black Chevy and a beautiful young smiling girl, maybe 25 years old, was sitting in the driver’s seat. As we got closer she said, “When I grow up I want to be exactly like you two!” I said, “My goodness, you want to be old and ugly?” She said, “No, I want to be old and beautiful!” So, what could I say? I said, “Thank you. You are already half way there. You are very beautiful and, I think, being old is a long way in the future for you.” Julia and I got into our car and drove away feeling much better about ourselves and a lot better about all people in general.
I can not forget that encounter at the lake and it confirms what Tom Hanks said in the movie, Forrest Gump: “My momma always said, Life was like a box of chocolates. You, never know what your gonna get.” I say most of the time the candy is good and sometimes, judging from some of the great people Julia and I have met just by chance, the candy is delicious.
One of our favorite wedding gifts is one we use regularly to this day: The 1990 edition of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook given to us by my Grandma Drake’s dear friend Lela Cameron. In the note that accompanied her gift, Lela wrote that it had been a classic and that she had used it as a text book in home economics classes at the University of Georgia. That note is still taped inside the front cover. It still is the classic cookbook.
When visiting my Grandma in Gastonia, NC, Lela and her husband, Cam, would often invite us for supper or Sunday dinner (lunch to you non-Southerners). As we sat eating, I would think of the stories my Mom had told me of Lela and her handsome Egyptian boyfriend whom she had dated seriously before settling down. I had so many questions but knew it was not appropriate to ask. Back to the food…I am sure the source of many of those tasty dishes was the Fannie Farmer.
My resident master chef says it reminds him of his organic chemistry textbook from college: The layout, colors, and font. I like to think of him as a chemist as he mills about in the kitchen.
Here is one of our Fannie favorites, Green Dip:
1 cup parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
5 scallions, chopped
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco
1 1/4 cups mayonnaise
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 cup sour cream
Liquify the parsley, scallions, and 1/2 cup of the mayonnaise in a blender or food processor. Add the remaining 1/4 cup mayonnaise, the sour cream, dill, Tabasco, curry powder, and salt to taste, and chill.
We enjoy it with red and yellow bell peppers, cucumbers, and blanched green beans and broccoli.
Wow. My niece, Aliette, is a MARRIED woman. All in the blink of an eye. She grew up, went to college (and graduate school), and wed George in an intimate ceremony late last week in Scotland.
When my eldest brother, Bob, announced his wife, Marisol, was pregnant, I was over the moon. I was going to be an aunt! At seventeen! That was the coolest thing ever! Especially since I always thought one had to be old and married to become an aunt or uncle, but I didn’t. I counted down the days to her birth and played out in my mind what it would be like to meet her for the very first time, to hold her.
As the years passed, I may not have been able to share in those fleeting, fast moments as she grew into an adult as often as I would have liked to, but that’s okay. Aliette is beautiful and smart and will do well in life. I mean, she already has. I look forward to one day visting her and her love in Scotland, England, South Africa or wherever they find themselves settling in.
So, congratulations to Aliette and George! Here’s to a lifetime together, with all of its ups and downs (I can say that–I’ve logged almost twenty years in matrimony), great adventures, tasty meals, unforgettable sunsets, and peaceful reflection, when the house is finally calm after the day’s bustle, and you talk quietly and laugh at the nonsense that had muddled your routine. What counts is that you found each other and have each other. Now and forever.
(Photo courtesy of Pieter Ferns)