... the journal

The Guest
Refrigerator Door

These aren't exactly magnets, but they were off of a wonderful wall at my friend diane's house in England.

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* Discussion *

Talk about it here.


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Becoming a Man:
Half a Life Story

Paul Monette

My Amazon wish list


The Mikado
(Davis Comic Opera Co production)

Samples of slide shows I've been making are available for download at Beechbrook Cottage

Pictures from our The England and Orkney trip are on my own Club Photo page.

Not to be missed:  Steve has uploaded some of his new songs to the web.  Check 'em out

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That's it for today!



27 October 2001

Since I have nothing to do but fourteen bazillion projects to finish, which I can't work on tomorrow because I'm going to opening night of The Last Session, I took time today to check out my Amazon wish list and update it, and then to do a search on everybody I know to see if they have Amazon Wish Lists (I was surprised how many people I found! I told our daughter-in-law that she needs to update her list, given that gift-giving times are coming, and was pleased to see that she's done that).

(If you're a person who usually gets a gift from me at Christmas time, now's the time to go onto Amazon and set up a wish list for yourself!)

The fun thing about searching for friends on Amazon was reading through everybody's list and seeing what kinds of books they would like to have, but not badly enough to actually spend their own money on. Naturally I also took time to check out some of the more interesting titles (since I have nothing else to do but fourteen bazillion projects to finish).

Which is a round about way of saying that on somebody's list--maybe it was Secra's--was a book called "A Writer's Workbook : Daily Exercises for the Writing Life," which sounded interesting. I'm forever buying books which will give me some spark to write something, and usually they gather dust on shelves after the first week.

There were some examples of the 32 writing exercises that this book contains and one of them sounded kind of intriguing: "Write down as many food memories as you can recall." Hey, with a body like this, I have a lot of food memories!

So I'm going to free-associate here and just see where this goes.

Oddly enough, when I think of "food memories," three immediately pop into my mind--and two of them are memories I haven't dredged up in years. The three are: potato salad, pork chops, and porridge. Not in the same meal, of course.

Potato salad was one of my father's specialties. I've never had a potato salad quite like his. He used sweet pickles, for one thing, and I don't think I've come across another like it that uses sweet pickles. He also cooked the potatoes until they are just barely done and then instead of chopping them into chunks, he sliced them very thin. Mix all that with onions, sliced hard boiled eggs, salt (no pepper), lots of mayonnaise, and chopped parsley and there you have it. He made it for every outdoor occasion and I was always his taste tester. One of the rare very good memories I have of him.

The pork chop memory isn't really a "chop" memory so much as it is a pork gravy memory. My mother once went on at great length about how when she was a kid one of her favorite foods was pancakes with pork gravy. It didn't sound all that great to me, but I really wanted to share my mother's memory, so I asked her to make it for me. In truth, it wasn't nearly as wonderful as she said it was (or as she remembered it to be), but I raved over it because I wanted her to think I liked the same things she liked as a kid. (She must have seen right through me because she never made it for me again.)

The porridge memory is very vague. I couldn't have been more than four or five years old. We went to a vacation place in what is now wine country. I can remember almost nothing about the place, except that for breakfast each morning I'd get to have porridge with real cream. That's still a great treat for me, and I enjoyed it nearly every morning at the B&B and Orkney last month. (I also remember eating figs with cream at this vacation place as a kid, too.)

We were big on "rich things" in our house when I was growing up. I can remember my father doing taste tests on which milk was the richest. We'd blindfold him and give him two or three different things to try and he'd choose the richest.

We always had real whipped cream. My mother would make wonderful cream puffs, fill them witwh whipped cream and top with chocolate. You just can't find stuff like that any more--except maybe in Ireland. But the best whipped cream was for "chocolate cream roll." This was a birthday treat. My mother would bake a thin chocolate sponge cake and when it was cooked (in 1/2" deep cookie pan) she would turn the still-warm cake out onto a towel that had been dusted with powdered sugar. Then she'd cut off all the hard ends and my sister and I would eat those sugar-covered scraps. She would then roll the cake up in the towel and let it sit until it was completely cool. When it was ready, she'd unroll it, spread it thick with whipped cream, and roll back up again. Then she'd cover the outside of the cake with chocolate frosting. I haven't had a cake like that in years.

I also remember "hockies," which were just fried hunks of bread dough, lathered with so much butter that it melted off the bread and onto your hands.  My great grandmother used to make them, and maybe she gave them their name.  They did look like hockey pucks.  It was a special treat to have hockies for breakfast, and my sister and I were trying to have contests to see who could eat the most. 

One of my favorite soups was Campbell's cream of tomato, which my mother made with milk. You'd have this bowl full of wonderful warm milky-tomato-y liquid and then you had to take white balloon bread (it was the only kind that would work), lather it thick with real butter, and dip into the tomato soup. Man, that was a good lunch.

And then there were the chocolate chip cookies that were always in the ceramic pig cookie jar. Always home made. And I got very good at lifting off the head of the pig and getting a cookie without making a sound. Somehow even the chocolate chip cookies I make myself don't taste quite the same as those furtively stolen cookies of my youth.

But then nothing quite tastes the same as I get older. I keep looking for that elusive taste of something I loved when I was a kid, and even if I find the food, the magic is gone. I suspect my mother doesn't like pancakes with pork gravy any more either.

I guess you reach a point in your life when you realize that you can't go home again and that the things you identify with "home" aren't there any more. But the nice thing is that you realize that somewhere along the way you've found a home of your own and established your own special grown up tastes.

One Year Ago:
The Further Adventures of
Thelma and Louise

Some pictures from this journal
can be found at
Club Photo

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Created 10/26/01 by Bev Sykes