Friday, November 25, 2011

Sunday Casserole

It's very strange for me to plan to serve a casserole for my in-laws every Sunday. It dominates the day to drive all the way to their home and serve a meal, and some part of me does so grudgingly because so many things wait at home to be done. My Mondays and Tuesdays are very long, leaving me exhausted the start of every week, so lining up another exhausting day can be overwhelming. And yet I find myself planning the meals with great delight. Funny how sharing food brings people together.

A favorite gay boy recently said to me, "Aging is not for the faint of heart." As I count my increasing gray hairs (few enough I can still count) and watch my knees wear with each passing year, I can't help but concur. Makes me incredibly aware of how fragile our parents grow. End of life issues creep in, one year at a time, and I know we have little time left.

So this week it's going to be Johnnie Marzetti and NILLA Tiramisu Cookie Balls. I actually wanted to make the tiramisu last week, but didn't have all the ingredients. So I made Oreo Balls instead, which are deadly sweet.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

I have to admit, this college professor sums up the movement for me. I work for Scrouge, who bought an island in the Bahamas last winter and spends several weeks there every so often. Meanwhile, I don't have health insurance but do have paid time off. I have three weeks a year, the same amount of time my boss spent in the Bahamas during the winter last year. Of course, he went back a few more times, but who is counting?

Sentimentally, I am with the movement. And it is those who stand up and object that change of the system. But I can't help wondering if the movement is actually the pawn of those who are orchestrating change for their own profit. I watch the grass roots protests springing up across the country. I watch the nonviolence and remember the '60s... Indeed, for the last several years I have been acutely aware that history cycles and that it was time for another generation of protests. When I heard about the beginning of the movement, I knew "this is it." But I watch the news, the financial markets, other similar protests in other countries, and I wonder.

A friend pointed out the other day that it's easy to infiltrate such a non-organized group and be the one arrested, the one in the media, the one people remember. And I wonder.

Nevertheless, I stand behind the ideals of the movement. I watch Scrooge drive his extended cab pick-up truck with satellite feed and I struggle to pay my bills, wish I had medical insurance, wrote the check for new glasses and resented not having vision insurance. Partner's benefits four paid for Cameron's last hip and I wonder how we'll pay for the other one now that he can barely walk...And I wonder.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Afternoons at Grandma's

I grew up in Bloomington, Indiana until we moved to Arkansas when I was ten. I remember two things the most from those years: the humidity and going to my Mammaw's. As a kid, I always sensed tremendous tension between the parental units and my grandparents, but had no clue as to the problem. I was of mixed feelings. On the one hand, I wanted to go, be free of my mother's craziness, to be in a place that smelled of yeast rolls and sugar cookies. On the other hand, my grandmother's silences, hard work, and distance from emotion created a difficult, unnerving environment. I was pretty sure she loved me, but I never seemed to live up her exacting standards. Poppaw was easy. He just loved me. The warm crinkles of his eyes stays with me to this day. As a teen, Mammaw's neighbor, of no relation but called Mammaw Haynes, explained that sometimes love is doing. Rhubarb pie, blackberry jelly, and strawberry jam meant love. Hmmm... I'm a compulsive over eater. Go figure.

These stones used to literally just be lay
out in the fields. Folks gathered them for
fences and the outside of houses.
We were expected for Sunday dinner every week. My grandfather bought the one room house when he married Mammaw. Year by year he added rooms, using Indiana limestone on the outside. Eventually my Mammaw had a three bedroom, two bathroom home with a formal dining room where the family gathered on Sundays. Because I often spilled jelly on the Sunday tablecloth, I had waxed paper under my plate. It was convenient to draw on with the blunt end of my fork while dinner plates were removed and rinsed, and desert was brought to the table.

A year or so before we moved, things changed. In later years I heard stories of my grandmother's meddling and intrusiveness. I'll never really know how much was Daddy's resistance to anyone having a say over my mother and me. Or how much was my mother's mental illness. Or how much was religion, when daddy took mother and me from the family Methodist church where I sat between my parents or grandparents on Sundays, to the austerity of the Church of Christ. I certainly enjoyed Mammaw's yeast rolls over the cafeteria food and conversation of those church people on Sunday afternoon. Indeed, that year or two before we moved to Arkansas were the only years I remember my parents being social. My mother went to the hospital once or twice for her "nervous stomach" but she was relatively stable and we as a family seemed normal to the outside world.

When we moved to Arkansas I mourned yeast rolls and rhubarb pie. I didn't miss the coldness and the undertones of the house. But I dreaded, when I went back two weeks in the summer, returning to Arkansas where things had gotten really crazy. I tried, desperately, to tell my grandparents how wrong things were. I gave up when I was instructed to stop talking bad about my mother. Now I suspect that my grandparents couldn't tolerate their own powerlessness.

Put those thoughts on back the burner.

For the last two Sundays, Cameron and I have been going to church and then taking food to her parents since her father broke his shoulder. I am a convenience freak, and would not normally get up early on a Sunday morning to prepare a casserole before church to carry it to a family member. Hell, I wouldn't normally have a family member to carry a casserole dish to. Let's be honest, the parental units are 700 miles away, as is the youngest son. The eldest son doesn't speak to me. So Cameron's family is the nearest family I have.

Put that on the back burner.

Last night Cameron and I attended dinner and the theatre as guest of his brother and sister-in-law. Every year we pick the show, and as a Christmas present they take us out. Last night we saw Foxfire, which is about family and one's land, and roots. It struck deeply for me. I have no roots. They were torn from the ground and shaken when I was ten, poisoned by mental illness and over thirty moves in my lifetime. My family is distant, divided, or deceased. Yet there I sat with my partner and adopted family, accept and loved.

Put it all together and stir the pot.

Family Reunion
Cameron is in the shorts, I'm in the yellow shirt
On our way home this evening, I realized how much I miss what might have, should have, or imperfectly was. Aunts, uncles and cousins that gathered at those Sunday dinners. Forth-of-July family reunions and wedding anniversaries. Cameron's family has graciously given those gifts back to me. Last summer we gathered -- check out the picture. Huge family gathering and the only person not entirely aware of our "gayness" was Cameron's dad, who chooses not to acknowledge it. Cam and I are conspicuously together on the left side.

So going to church today, taking the in-laws food, was a delightful echo of years gone by. The should have, could have, would have of the past coalesced into something imperfect but beautiful, treasured and delightful. I actually spent the week planning the menu: veggie pie, slow cooked chicken, Saltine Toffee and Crispy Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies.

I'm feeling daring. I think next week will be Sunday Sausage, Apple, and Cheese Strata and I want to try NILLA Tiramisu Cookie Balls.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cat and Kittens

This video is public on facebook. I watched it three times! LOL

Cat and Kittens