Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Monday's Work

If you missed the talk on Connecting the Dots with Mark Shea on Monday, not to fear, the link for that talk with Tom Hoopes and Mark Shea, talking about Tom's book, What Pope Francis Really Said, is right here. 

I have this book on Kindle and I'm breezing through it, not because it doesn't address things deeply, but because it's written in an easy style, and goes over the ways in which what Pope Francis said things and how they were interpreted, and how they were meant.  It's worth your time.

If you hang around to the 4th quarter of the program, you even get to hear my Yoda immitation.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

An Unexpected Hello*

*Edited to include recipe at the end of the story....

For years, I've wanted to make Christmas cookies with my children, but somehow it never got off the ground.  This year, I set my heart, it would happen.  Saturday night, Rita, Regina, Paul, Anna and I donned aprons. I'd set out foil trays, bowls, cups, spoons, and six recipies.  We made Hello Dollies and Rice Crispie Treats.   We danced and sang to whatever Christmas songs came on the radio but Regina got bored and went to play in the other room in between tasks.  We made the pumpkin muffins and sugar cookies.  Paul joined her.  When Anna asked if she could stop, I allowed them to put on a Christmas Rudolf special on TV.  Rita made it through making the bananna muffins and went to watch. It wasn't the full outcome I'd wanted, but it was. Next year, maybe the happy memory would encourage them to stay longer.  I felt happy and at peace to be alone in my kitchen for the final recipe.

The last cookie wasn't one they could eat anyway.

The signature cookie of the season is my dad's Bourbon balls.  He and Mom would be in the kitchen and he'd roll them powedered sugar to put in a tin for whoever was on the list.  I always wanted to like them, but as a kid I never could.

My mom gave me a cook book from my home parish, where the recipe for Dad's bourbon balls is published.  I'd always just scanned the recipe, but yesterday, I found a side story on the page from my mom, reminding me Dad made these from the time he settled in Beaumont for the clerks of the court such that every year, they'd get requests.

It was like Dad saying, "Hello Beautiful." to have that story, (one I've known but dimly), fully stamped on the page.  I made the Bourbon balls and ate one, plunging into memory.

They tasted better than I've ever remembered.

Recipe for Bourbon Balls (as published in Saint Anne's Church Cookbook), submitted by my mom.

1 12 onz box vanilla wafers
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons Cocoa
1 cup walnuts
3 Tablespoons Karo Syrup (white or light).
1/2 cup bourbon
extra powdered sugar.

Directions:  Crush Vanilla Wafers into powder.  (I use a ziplock and a rolling pin but a food processor does this very well).  Add powdered sugar and cocoa, mix well.  Chop walnuts into tiny pieces and add to these ingredients.  Add the Karo and the bourbon, mix well. (I used my mixer).  Form the cookies by hand and roll them in powdered sugar.  Place in an airtight tin.  If the batter seems dry, add more bourbon.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

What They Reflect

My four youngest sat on a couch, each holding a section of the paper, each reading aloud what they thought important, giggling at what the paper might consider "serious news," and making dramatic sad faces. I asked what they were doing.
"Playing grown up." one answered. 
"We're on the Metro."
"We're adults." They collapsed into giggling again. One ran over to the kitchen and got a diet coke and my purse.
I thought they had a better handle on how we should approach some of the most serious of things. They looked at the news and read aloud the headlines. They marched back and forth from one couch to another, "I have to cook dinner." "I have to go to work." "I'm very busy." "I'm very important." "I'm very important and busy." They kept building and making their world like the moreness they perceived.
I watched them allow their make believe world expand and collapse, and grow again, flexible as they shifted from journalists to doctors to teachers to lawyers to artists to singers to anything, to everything, and they were able, professional and wonderful. They embraced a whole future as if it were all only for the willing for it to happen.
I wanted that future for them, that touchable future. If I could pray them that possibility, I would kneel until my kneecaps gave out. "Give them this future." I'd beg, and not the one penned by all the limitations revealed by standardized tests and report cards and the expectations of others about how to think or be. For the moment, my daughter who struggles with reading, my shy one and my son who suffers from Downs and my youngest, didn't need anyone's prayers or affirmation to be everything.
Oh, to keep that moment longer than a moment. I sat on the couch with them, "What are you going to be on the Metro today?" My daughter asked. "A famous chef, dancer and professor." I said, and we added to the moments, when everyone could be everything.

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If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!