The Little Things

Monday Morning Musings:

My mother washes her hands

I flashback to a memory–

my grandfather, her father

rubbing his hands over and over

to dry them

 

We’d been out walking in the woods–

was this the day we were startled by riders on horseback?

(A magical sight.)

My sister and I were little

my grandfather was wise,

 

in the way that grandparents are

to young grandchildren

who see beyond the surface

to the hearts beneath

beating with love.

 

And there’s an understanding

that time exists in the now–

the autumn of one life,

the spring of another

co-existing in this moment

 

I tell my mother about this memory

and we talk of this and that

I go through her old cards

reading portions to her

as I clean out a drawer

 

a past, relics, consigned to a trash bag.

Who was this person?

Where was this photo taken?

My mother can’t see and can’t remember—

all the little things that make up a life.

 

All the little things that make up a city, a world–

the reindeer on a roof display

the stone carvings on a building

the snowflake on a lamppost

the candle burning in a window

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We celebrate the first night of Hanukkah,

fry the latkes,

light the candles

toast “L’Chaim!”

I dance to “Ocho Kandelikas.”

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My husband and I watch the candles burn.

We talk of this and that–

old memories and to-do lists,

the little things that make up a life,

the everyday ordinary and the magical exceptional.

 

 

Every year, Santa comes through town on a fire engine. I have no idea how this started, but his helpers give candy canes to the children (and adults) who come out to see him.

There are a bunch of movies I want to see, but I haven’t had a chance, and I don’t know if I will have any time in the next week. It’s a crazy time of year, isn’t it? I had an anxiety dream the other night, which I haven’t had in a long time. But–we finished watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and we’re on to the finally season of The Expanse. And there are latkes and candles and cuddly cats. . .so life may be stressful, but not awful.

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Thank you to all of you who take the time to read my writing. I truly appreciate you. I feel like I’m Mr. Rogers saying “It’s you I like,” but it’s true. Happy Holidays to all of you!

Here’s Pink Martini performing “Ocho Kanelikas.” Feel free to dance along!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering the Days, NaPoWriMo

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Monday Morning Musings:

“Remember you are all people and all people

are you.

Remember you are this universe and this

universe is you.”

From Joy Harjo, “Remember”

 

I remember the week,

the was, the hoped for

the what that came before

 

the sun and storms

the way a cloud forms

and blows across the sky

 

while I wonder how and why

it happens again and again

sun rising, moon sets,

 

dreams floating, drifting,

joy, regrets

shifting, sifting

 

through existence

we’re existing,

sometimes resisting. . .

****

Another shooting on the day

we celebrate Passover,

the end

 

(Hate fills a space

what should be sacred,

this place.)

but we toast to new beginnings,

jobs and a new house,

we douse

 

the hate with love

and wine,

and we dine.

It would have been enough

“Dayenu,”

life is rough and tough

 

but we find the light

in candles on the table.

On this special night

 

we sing and laugh

act out our play

imprint photographs

 

and memories of then

and now,

beginnings and when

 

did that happen?

The sister stories

strains, pains

 

(Laughter)

vomiting in cars,

on planes

 

and on my doll

(she says)

we remember it all–

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ancestors, crash, fall

hide from Cossacks

when very small,

 

and there is more,

Dessert!

Not quite gone, no snores

 

though it’s late,

I remember,

bed awaits.

 

The next day

sky sunny, then grey

we walk through

city and cemetery

sun peeks out

we see a play,

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Oedipus, well,

the shepherds

who raise him, yell

 

and drink

they don’t so much

think,

 

or they do,

too late,

the cow moos

 

and there is

inappropriate sex

a family this

 

dysfunctional,

a tragedy with laughs,

desperate, they fall

 

drink too much

evil and nice

the device

 

of plotting might

not quite work,

but it’s interesting,

 

the play,

and we discuss it

before we flit

 

to other topics

as we sit here

eat mussels, drink beer,

and journey home

watch Voyager, where

Capt. Janeway, onscreen, there

 

wants to save her family

a group united not by blood

but fate, and we await

 

ours,

not family, but fate

sometimes wondering, too late–

 

yet always there are cats

and moon,

a daughter’s visit,

gone, too soon,

but I remember–

we are the stars

 

and all our ancestors

through time and space,

traced

 

filled with sorrow

and grace

I remember today

 

and yesterday,

dream of tomorrow.

 

Today is Day 29, the penultimate day of NaPoWriMo. The challenge is “to blend these concepts into your own work, by producing a poem that meditates, from a position of tranquility, on an emotion you have felt powerfully.” I don’t know if I’ve done that here, but I like this prompt, and I’ll probably return to it.

We celebrated Passover at the end because that’s when most of us could get together. Daughter and Daughter-in-law went with us to see Dionysus Was Such a Nice Man,” a world-premiere play at the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia. And then we ate mussels at Monk’s Cafe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Wish

Monday Morning Musings:

“None of us can change the things we’ve done. But we can all change what we do next.”

— Col. Frederick Lucius Johnson (Chad L. Coleman), The Expanse, Season 1: Critical Mass

 

A celebration not for leaders alive or dead

(and certainly not for one who hasn’t led)

a birthday lunch on Presidents’ Day

where it was light inside, though outside grey,

a changeable week of sun, rain, clouds, and snow

February going fast and slow

confusing my mind and making me too tired

to do what’s required—but in bursts, I am inspired

to work, to create, to navigate

through life—though nothing is straight

as we contemplate past, future, and our fate,

we watch sci-fi and hope there’s more

 

that people heed, not ignore, the ocean,

with its glorious waves and motion.

Here and now, the constant wars, the hate–

I wonder if it’s all too late–

 

but still, we live and love–and cook,

even as we ponder roads we took,

and where they’ve led us, where we are

still above, there, the moon, the morning star

 

So, I bake–homage to heritage, his and mine,

birthday treats–food and life intertwine

memories from childhood, I think his cookies bring,

but mine have chocolate, cinnamon, scents that sing

to me in sensory bliss of crunch, scent, taste

that also trace a path from past—and thicker waist—

but celebrations make us feel good, or so they should,

a time to laugh, love, and remember the good.

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Here’s our family in the car again

remembering journeys of long ago, the rain

tapping on windows and misting about us

as we bring up song snippets to discuss–

 

“Remember that one?” someone queries.

and we’re off discussing songs, or TV series

the things they watched when they were young,

the things they said, the words that were sung

 

by all of us in house and car

as we traveled to places both near and far

the games we played, before tablets or phone–

a different world, and a different tone.

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Over the Cool Bridge (in the rain), to grandmother’s house we go.

 

And now we gather on a February day

when we can be together, if only a short stay

to catch up with one another, share some time

over pizza and cake—this time, no wine.

 

We watch a movie about forgery

a desperate woman, unhappy, too, we see

the movie is also about creation

and discrimination

 

the AIDS crisis and writers’ lives–

as it takes money and time to visit archives—

something I’ve done first hand,

and the rush of finding something grand.

 

But it’s fine, and we’re okay,

here and now on this windy day,

as moon sets and sun rises,

I’m ready for the day’s surprises

 

wondering what fortune brings–

and hoping that without strings

good things come to us all

without deceit, without a wall

 

or barriers to conquer or climb–

a gift of peace within our time.

And so, a birthday wish for those I love,

the song of the moon, the shimmer of stars above.

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Our older daughter is visiting us, so we got together for an extended family February birthday celebration–something we haven’t done in a few years. My husband and I are caught up in the sci-fi series The Expanse. It’s on Amazon Prime now. We had seen the first two seasons before, but it’s complicated, so we’re re-watching them. It’s an excellent series. Catching up on movies–we watched Can you Ever Forgive Me? last night. Wonderful performance by Melissa McCarthy and the rest of the cast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Girl in the Rain–Quadrille

Such rainy rain

fell–

dropped

for days it plopped,

then finally stopped,

so she could play

in shiny coat and

rubber boots,

skipping and prancing

and stomping and splashing

into those puddles

dashing–

Asked why, she replied

to step into the rainbows,

hiding inside.

 

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

 

This is a quadrille for dVerse, where Kim has asked us to write a poem about rain.

I’m getting sick of rain and writing about rain, but then I remembered a recent conversation I had with one of my now-grown daughters.

Secrets and Shadows: Musings and Shadorma

Monday Morning Musings:

“Secrets, silent, stony sit in the dark palaces of both our hearts: secrets weary of their tyranny: tyrants willing to be dethroned.”

James Joyce, Ulysses

“It’s a triumph of art and friendship over time. And it’s also very important, I think, to hang on to the things that mean something to you. And they transcend time.”

–Judy Collins, “Love, Friendship and Music: Stephen Stills and Judy Collins Collaborate on New Album,” All Things Considered with Michele Martin, November 11, 2017

“There is regret, almost remorse,
For Time long past.
‘Tis like a child’s belovèd corse
A father watches, till at last
Beauty is like remembrance, cast
From Time long past.”

–Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Time Long Past”

 

Secret lives

buried deep in walls

or within

chambered hearts,

echoing the beats, flowing,

waiting for release

 

The garage

old, unstable, and so

down it comes

over the years

it’s housed tools and junk,

a chipmunk or two, amidst the rakes

perhaps a snake.

We were told the wall at the back

was bumped out a bit to fit

a Model T–

But honestly, I don’t know,

and it’s all so long ago.

The roof was shingled many times

and covered with leaves, pollen, and snow

beside it children have played,

and a wandering doe has grazed.

The yard is littered

adorned with its pieces–

fragments of a secret life

forlorn in autumn’s fading light,

a building built to last,

but now

shadows cast, from time long past.

 

The weather now has turned much colder

as the year journeys to its end,

no more harkening back, it seems to say

though time winds round again

through falling leaves and winter snow

to springtime bud and summer flowers,

and in the buildings here on city streets

there’s blending of the old and new

where cobblestones meet asphalt streets

and on concrete pavements,

shadows cast, from time long past

We see a musical about phone sex and love

set in the 1990s,

just before

(it opens a door)

the Internet really became a thing

and here a young man and woman

don golden chastity rings,

and vow to remain chaste till wed.

But now with their upcoming marriage,

they realize they do not really know each other.

They learn in song

(Well, it’s a musical, so we go along.)

we all have secrets lives and secret selves–

shadows cast, from time long past

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It’s a funny, enjoyable show

a quirky romantic comedy

if not profound

it covers some familiar ground,

but still we talk of how it’s set

in a changing time.

a time now past

when our children were young.

And as day becomes night,

in autumn’s fading light

We see a bride and groom

and should we assume

they have lives kept private and

shadows cast, from time long past?

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In the car, we listen to NPR

hear an interview with Judy Collins and Stephen Stills,

old lovers, now still friends,

hanging on to important things

and illustrated with their songs

throughout time

things that last,

shadows cast, from time long past.

 

I think of my mom and dad

meeting in time long before technology

of cell phones and Internet

and they connected,

once they were young and in love

then they weren’t either

keeping secrets from each other

yet still, I think the love was always there

and she to him said a final goodbye

the night before he died

shadows cast over time, long past

 

We take my mom to a winery–

“Cross a wine tasting off your bucket list,”

I say.

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Here we can sit at a table

order our selections

of white and red

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served with cheese and bread

and the atmosphere is convivial,

the conversation, mostly trivial,

but as we move to pizza and more wine,

we’re feeling pretty fine,

we talk of Thanksgiving

and of ancestry

I tell her about my poetry,

she tells me things she remembers–

sitting in her grandfather’s lap

though she doesn’t remember much about him,

and after that he died,

from an injury to his skull,

difficult times from them all

immigrants from another land

speaking a language I don’t understand,

I learned there was a baby brother born

after her mother and her aunts

he died young, seldom spoken of.

In the conversation here

ghosts of ancestors now appear–

shadow cast, of time long past

 

Then to home

the weekend ended,

secrets shared

journeys taken,

sunshine and shadows, blended,

cast in a circle

 

through time and

space our souls wander

sharing love

fearing death

casting shadows of time past

long ago and now

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We saw TouchTones at the Arden Theatre. We went to Auburn Road Vineyard.

I’ve begun and ended my musing with Shadorma for my somewhat sporadic participation in Eliot of Along the Interstice’s November Shadorma Challenge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ghosts From Whistling Space

Monday Morning Musings:

From whistling space

dust swirls and burns

glowing

singing

lighting the universe

reaching shores,

then, like tides

sweeping back to the sea

tumbling again and again

in a wave

a new formation

a new song

a new life born

an old life lived

connected

eternal

 

We go to the movies

a ghost in a white sheet

views his life

rooted to a place, a home,

a place always there and not

time moves differently for him

and for us, in watching him watching

beautiful, sad, but perhaps hopeful, too

(open to interpretation)

there is much for us to discuss

over coffee, of course,

 

and as we walk through a city

filled with old and new

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A Path to the Past in Summer Bloom

 

observing how the seasons alters its look

summer flowers making everything bright and beautiful

 

the city changes over time

here was once a creek

that grew filthy with waste

a sewer

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covered now by grass and trees

bucolic space in urban expanse

expansive thoughts arose here, too

made a nation

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Maybe someone should write a musical about him. 

bodies buried now

yet ghosts still walk among us

paths that bend in time

 

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we hear their voices whistling in the wind

in the space around us

feel their ideas

(legacies)

ebb and flow

the things they left behind

 

We take my mom on an outing

away from city ghosts

though they linger in memory,

she talks of her parents

her mother sewed piecework for a time

during the Great Depression

her father was upset that his wife went to work

But she worked in their store, didn’t she?

Yes, but that was different, she says and laughs

her brother, my baby brother, I miss him, she says

he was an active child

always falling out of things—the carriage, his crib–

he fell out of my mom’s bed once

she was supposed to be watching him

he bumped his head on the radiator,

she never told her mom

but, I guess it didn’t hurt him

he lived a good life,

though it ended before my mom’s

and now we share the memory of him,

a ghost living in our hearts

 

We sit drinking wine, overlooking the vineyard

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it’s a beautiful day

we watch families

children playing with a beach ball on the grass

hawks flying overhead

we sit discussing the past and the future

our conversation ebbs and flows

thoughts linger, pause—

and float up into space

 

We eat Pakistani food at my daughter and son-in-law’s house

their dog chases creatures, real and imaginary

birds whistle and sing,

echoing us,

or do we echo them?

We sit with greenery all around us

then eat cupcakes that look like flowers

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My daughter’s beautiful and delicious creation.

(summertime)

I wonder about the people who used to live in this house

and what was it before them–

Field? Farm?

And before that?

Did native Americans walk here

in migrations that followed the seasons

circling round, year after year

ghosts walking among us

watching us

rooted to this spot

waiting for something or someone

waiting for a sign,

a message,

a whistle perhaps

a thought that has floated up

swept up in time

and brought back down again

lighting the universe

 

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We saw the movie A Ghost Story.  Trailer here.   I think it’s a movie that people will either love or hate. It’s a definite Merril movie, but my husband loved it, too.

 

We drank coffee at Customs Coffee House at 2nd and Chestnut, Philadelphia,

went to Sharrott Winery  

And ate Pakistani food from Mera Khana Restaurant   I could eat those vegetable samosas every day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Barricade, a Bear, and an Egg

We’re headed to my in-laws’ house, or perhaps the Jersey shore. A family road trip. My husband is at the wheel; our daughters in the back seat. They hold their beloved stuffed animals on their laps. There are no headphones or cell phones. In our future, when they’re older, there will be both. I’ll tune the radio to NPR. We’ll hear the election news or listen to an interview with actor Dev Patel. But here, now, I put a CD into the dashboard slot. The prologue begins, “Look down, look down, don’t look ‘em in the eye.” My husband would be happy never to hear Les Misérables again, but I don’t mind hearing it for the 200th time. Our daughters sing along. Correction. Humpty and Ahh Bear sing along. Aah Bear sings Éponine’s part and sobs with loud bear sobs when she dies. There is no barricade here in the car, but I see it nonetheless. Imagination is powerful, powerful enough to let me hear stuffed animals sing and make the tears of a teddy bear real.

 

Just one performance

life, replayed in memory,

paused and played again

 

 

 

I seem to be stuck on musicals, though that’s nothing new!  This is a haibun for dVerse. We were asked to write about singing along with music on a drive. You can listen to “A Little Fall of Rain” here. (Unfortunately, not the Humpty and Ahh Bear version.)

 

 

The Past, the Future, Ghosts, and Drag in the City of Brotherly Love

Monday Morning Musings:

“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”

–L.P. Hartley

“This play is so American. . .[it] shows us that transformation can only happen when we break apart our fears, our suspicions and our judgments. Because the America I know is not the one that is portrayed by only a few, isn’t the one that discriminates against its citizens for their differences. NO. The America I know and cherish and honor is one that all these characters are creating.”

— Emmanuelle Delpech, From her Director’s Notes, The Legend of Georgia McBride, Arden Theatre, Philadelphia

 

When was the last time the four of us had spent a day together at a museum?

We all wondered, but couldn’t remember,

somewhere amidst childhood’s ghosts

left behind with dolls and story books,

ghosts of Halloweens past

when little girls dressed in costumes

that they slept in,

a princess and a clown

(not a creepy one at all).

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And so we went,

a family outing,

our girls married women now,

but still crazy sisters, having fun,

interpreting the works of art

 

 

And since the big new exhibit is on Mexican revolutionary art

and it’s close to Halloween

there are Day of the Dead displays

 

We eat Wawa hoagies*

(My daughter misses them in Boston.)

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I score Super Momma points

by making hot fudge sauce,

totally spur of the moment

(in record time)

so we can have it with our coffee ice cream

as we watch Grey’s Anatomy

It’s another ghost from the past.

 

It is Halloween weekend,

my husband and I go to the theater

(which, I guess fits, when you think about it)

In the play,

a man discovers his inner femininity—

becoming a drag queen,

with the help of a real drag queen.

After a slow start,

the play picks up

struts its stuff,

so to speak,

along with the actors,

a feel good show

about finding your passion

and not giving up,

accepting those who are different from you.

A good lesson, don’t you think?

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After the show, we drink coffee

sitting on a bench outside of Christ Church in Philadelphia.

 

a beautiful October day,

we watch the people in the present

learning about the people of the past,

as they walk in and about the beautiful eighteenth-century church

where George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and others attended services.

We walk the streets, some still cobbled,

where founding fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers

once walked,

where free and bound lived and worked.

 

None of them was perfect,

neither are we.

But the past is a foreign country.

people then did not know all we know now

(perhaps we have lost some of their knowledge, too)

Progress and human rights come slowly

as babies crawl tentatively before they walk and then run eagerly

to explore the world.

So are there stages

of nations

that rise and fall.

And of discoveries that humans uncover and embrace with hesitation

or delight.

Thirteen colonies came together,

representatives walked the streets we now walk,

worked together to fight for independence,

and later, to form a more perfect union,

evolving over centuries

with greatness from the start,

along with evils,

slavery, racism, sexism, xenophobia.

We should not move backwards

to the foreign country of the past,

not regress, but rather progress,

build upon the great to make greater.

 

We travel to another part of Philadelphia,

Fairmount Park,

one of the largest urban parks in the world.

We are there for a Lupus Run/Walk

my younger daughter and her husband run,

my husband and I walk,

some people drag their heels,

some are in drag,

well, costumes.

There is a team of Star Wars characters,

others in purple tutus,

a sea of purple t-shirts.

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We begin at Memorial Hall

(now the Please Touch Children’s Museum)

with its figure of Columbia at the top,

it was an art museum,

constructed for the Centennial Exhibition in 1876,

a huge exhibition with many buildings

and many visitors.

A Women’s Pavilion gave women a chance to display and demonstrate

the new opportunities available to them in professions and business

there were displays of dress reforms, too.

But women were segregated in their own pavilion,

and still denied the vote.

And so we run/walk through

beautiful Fairmount Park

passing statues of Civil War generals

and the Japanese Tea house

I imagine women in suffragist white,

ghosts flitting among the statues

I think they would echo

“When they go low, we go high,”

standing calm amidst storms of hate.

Women have always had to fend off and fight

the gropers and grabbers,

and some of them loved other women

though not out in the open.

I amuse myself by imaging Susan B. Anthony

reading grievances while drag queens in the audience cheer.

(This did not happen.)

 

But the past is a foreign country

we can’t impose our views on it.

Our own pasts, well, perhaps they change

with, in, our memories

which are imperfect.

merging and shifting,

taking on new tones and meanings.

On this Halloween

my memories of Halloween past

merge with the present.

I think about the future,

We are at the crossroads,

there are ghosts all around.

We must push back the hate and fear.

We dream.

A wise man once had a dream

of freedom for all

freedom for those of every color, of any religion.

He was killed by hate.

But still we dream.

I think about the future

with dread

with longing

with hope

with dreams.

 

*Hoagie is the Philadelphia name for a sandwich served on a long, tapered roll. Wawa is a convenience store chain that is much beloved in parts of Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

We saw The Legend of Georgia McBride by Matthew Lopez at the Arden Theatre.

Christ Church, Philadelphia

The Please Touch Museum/Memorial Hall

On suffragists on Independence Day 1876, see this.

Martin Luther King, Jr., I Have a Dream speech.

 

Memories of a General

 

Monday Morning Musings:

“First we eat, then we do everything else.”

—M.F.K. Fisher

During Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearing in 2010

Senator Lindsey Graham asked her where she had been on Christmas,

She replied, “You know, like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant.”*

My niece commenting on getting together with my mom:

“Why does it always have to involve a meal?”

Me: “Because that’s what we do.”

 

I’ve traveled far and wide

with a legendary general,

well, not with him exactly,

but with his namesake,

cubed chicken, crispy-fried,

a sauce of soy, vinegar, and peppers,

slightly sweet and slightly spicy,

The thought, the scent,

a Proustian moment,

sending me back in time.

 

When I was a child

we ate chow mein and lo mein,

Column A and Column B,

“Chinese vegetables,” bamboo shoots and Bok choy,

things we never ate in other dishes,

with a cornstarch thickened sauce.

There was wonton soup and egg rolls

(I still love that hot mustard.)

Lots of food in bowls, on plates.

Now I know “Chinese food” is really Chinese-American food,

And in China, there are many different types of cuisine,

But I didn’t know that when I was young,

nor that fortune cookies were actually Japanese.

 

Chinese food,

created with determination by immigrants,

cultures merging, evolving,

food a gateway,

throughout time.

But tastes change–

for all sorts of reasons,

exposure, access, pop culture

the history of people

the history of food

indelibly tied.

So it goes

and so it happened,

In 1971,

the American Ping-Pong team went to China

And “Ping-Pong Diplomacy” took off

Embargoes on goods and information were removed

President Nixon visited China the following year,

I was in high school then,

discovered with others, the new trends,

Sichuan and Hunan and dumplings and more

dinners at the China Ping Pong Restaurant

where my mom’s cousin knew the owners,

we ate sizzling whole bass cooked in black bean sauce,

and of course, General Tso’s chicken–

Ping Pong diplomacy was delicious.

 

Now, General Tso’s is ubiquitous,

and found in every American Chinese restaurant

But then,

then, it was a novelty.

 

The General makes me think of my father

at his favorite Chinese restaurant

where he was a frequent customer,

such a good customer

that his dish became General Lee’s chicken,

named for him, of course,

extra spicy and with more chicken than broccoli.

My father treated us and our friends to dinners,

many dishes placed on the Lazy Susan

and twirled around for us to try.

Have some more.

Have you tried this?

Could we have some more rice?

No photos, except in my mind,

of these many dinners with my father.

 

Like the Christmas Carol ghost,

the General takes me to another time,

the time a friend of mine came to my house

to watch a video with me,

(no DVDs or Netflix streaming then)

“Girls’ Night,”

she left her children at home

and mine were in bed.

I’ll get Chinese food, I said,

General Tso’s for her to try,

never thinking to warn her.

Hot peppers?

They’re nothing to my family,

But suddenly she was coughing,

and her mouth was burning.

Eat some rice, I said.

And she was fine, really

But you know, I don’t see her anymore.

I wonder.

 

The General still visits us,

and came to call recently.

I had worked hard on a project all day,

And my husband offered to pick up some food,

a local place,

not too far away,

but with a standard menu,

standard for the restaurants in this area,

Well, of course,

he got General Tso’s chicken

(the combination platter)

and I got Mock General Tso’s

(we won’t go off on that tangent)

It was good, not great,

But oh the memories!

 

Jews and Chinese food,

the stuff of jokes, a cliché,

Seinfeld and the Gilmore Girls

(Remember Kirk playing Tevye?)

Or perhaps it’s something else,

I don’t know,

immigrant cultures,

sharing meals, with many courses

sitting together, laughing, eating.

 

And so, the general,

if not comrade in arms,

is a traveling companion of sorts,

taking me to places in my past.

And though he’s been replaced,

no longer my culinary favorite,

he will always have a place in my heart and mind.

 

 

 

Robin of Witless Dating After Fifty started me on this musing. You can thank or blame her.  But do check out her lovely blog.

Note: Today is Labor Day in the U.S. If you want to read about it, here’s my post from last year.

*See a clip in this Atlantic article 

For more information:

Jennifer 8. Lee’s book, Fortune Cookie Chronicles, covers both the origins of fortune cookies and the search for General Tso

There is also a movie The Search for General Tso.

And this  New Yorker article.

 

 

 

 

Dancing with Food and Juggling the Myths

Monday Morning Musings:

 

“It has been said that the myth is a public dream, dreams are private myths. Unfortunately we give our mythic side scant attention these days. As a result, a great deal escapes us and we no longer understand our own actions. So it remains important and salutary to speak not only of the rational and easily understood, but also of enigmatic things: the irrational and the ambiguous. To speak both privately and publicly.”

–Mary Zimmermann, Metamorphoses

In October, my husband and I saw Metamorphoses, Mary Zimmermann’s play, based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses. We were immersed in ancient Greek myths, which still have such relevance today. It seems we tell and retell stories, hoping that somehow we will learn. Sometimes there are happy endings, but often there are not.

Over the weekend, we watched the final Hunger Games movie, Mockingjay, Part 2, which we missed when it was in theaters. Suzanne Collins, who wrote The Hunger Games trilogy, originally came up with the idea of her book from the story of the Minotaur. In the legend, King Minos of Crete required Athens to send as tribute seven young men and seven young women to Crete to be devoured by the ferocious Minotaur, a half man, half bull, who lived in a maze called the Labyrinth. This maze was designed by that champion-designer, Daedalus. (Daedulus was locked up in tower so that he could not share his knowledge of the labyrinth’s layout. To escape, he fashioned wings coated in wax so that he and his son Icarus could fly and escape. Icarus flew too high, and the hot sun melted his wings, causing him to fall into the sea and drown.) When the third sacrifice time approached, Theseus volunteered to go to slay the beast. Mino’s daughter, Ariadne, fell in love with Theseus, and in most versions of the story, she gave him a ball of thread. With that thread he was able to retrace his steps and find the way out of the labyrinth. (Play away with all the symbolism here, all the threads, so to speak. Also, apparently, the Minotaur was the child of Mino’s wife and a bull, so he was Ariadne’s half brother. Lots of subtext here.)

Collins also took aspects of the Roman coliseums and games, present day reality TV shows, and the war in Iraq to come up with her YA novels that involve a society sometime in the future in which every year young men and women from each of twelve poor districts of Panem (roughly what is now the US) are chosen by lottery to compete in the Hunger Games. They compete in lavish, televised games for the amusement of the wealthy, capital until only one tribute remains alive. My younger daughter and I have read the three books, and had seen all the movies, except for this final one. My husband has seen the movies, and my son-in-law has seen some of the movies. In truth, Mockingjay, Part 2, was not a great movie, but it was enjoyable, and it was a perfect excuse to get together. Jennifer Lawrence embodies Katniss Everdeen, brave, fierce, and stubborn. Donald Sutherland is perfect as evil President Snow. (Here is the New York Times’s review of the movie.)

So if my daughter and her husband were going to come over to watch the movie, then we have to have food, right?  So it went something like this.

What a wonderful idea, we thought,

a Hunger Games party to view the final movie.

We’ll cook together, and sip wine.

E-mails flew back and forth–

“I think I need to make pita bread,” I said,

(One of the characters is named Peeta.)

“And should we have something flaming?”

“Oh yesss!!!” she said.

“I’m excited now—and ready for this week to be over.”

“I’m excited, too!” I replied.

She decided to make hot wings “for the men.”

We discussed timing, and who should make what.

“I have two ovens, we should be able to work things, out.

Besides, we’re both good at improvising.”

And so we did.

Dancing in the kitchen to Zumba music,

while cooking and sipping wine,

our husbands worked on math in the dining room. We are nerds. Truth.

One cat oversaw the kitchen work, while the other one slept upstairs.

We decided on one large goat cheese-apple tart because I have a tart pan that needed to be used.

IMG_7413

Baked brie with blackberries marinated in wine.

IMG_3671

Prepared while the men’s wings cooked in one oven.

I made the pita bread and the roasted red pepper dip in advance.

So mother-daughter team made enough food for forty rather than four—

IMG_3672

 

you’ll understand if you know us.

But we enjoyed every bite.

After the movie, we made a flambé, a tribute to “the girl who was on fire”: bananas cooked in brown sugar, butter, and flamed with rum. Soundtrack: “Fireball.”

IMG_7431

We served it over homemade pineapple curd and vanilla ice cream, and sat at the kitchen table and talked of the past, present, and future. Mother and daughter danced in our seats to “Fireball.” This is how family myths are created—epic stories to retell of love and food shared. We love each other. Real or not real? Real.

Recipes:

Roasted Red Pepper/Walnut Dip

Goat Cheese and Apple Tarts

Pita Bread

Caribbean Bananas Flambé with Pineapple Curd