A Fine Dish

dish (v) to emit a ready flow of inconsequential talk... babble, blab, burble... chatter, dither... gab, lallygag... natter, patter, prattle, rattle on... yammer, yawp...also...chew the fat, shoot the breeze, sling the bull.... and (n) a container to serve food -or- the food contained in the dish ....(archaic slang) a hot mama

Location: Rock Creek Township, North Carolina, United States

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Groaning Board

Not going to do it, not this year. No darn turkey, no pulling out the heirloom china, no baking, no stirring, No SIRREE BOBBO! It's too much work for one person. My schedule doesn't allow it. And who cares? It's just another meal. My mother used to say "food should never take longer to prepare than it takes to eat." Now, being a food-ie, I don't necessarily take it to that length. But come on. The Thanksgiving meal is serious work. The breads, the pies, the endless side dishes that take the hands of a Hindu goddess to make them come out at the same time. And an oven stuffed full of turkey for 6-7 hours? Standing around basting? Please.

And that's what they said, my husband and kids. Please.

Ha. Not good enough. I am not budging.

OK. Please, and we'll help.

Uh, run that by me again?

We will help.

You think? OK. Who wants pie! WE DO, WE DO.

And on Wednesday each of the kids made a pie.

Who wants stuffing? Oh absolutely, so on Sunday I had extra hands for kneading and shaping the bread.

And side dishes of course. Everyone pick a side dish. Spinach puffs! Asparagus tips with hollandaise! Scalloped potatoes au gratin!

Remember, you have to help make your side dish.

Uh, boiled carrots! Green beans with mushrooms! Baked spinach with feta cheese!

Much more manageable. OK. I budged.

So you see we had a simplified version of Thanksgiving this year. From left to right, Cranberry Orange Nut Bread (mom), Ceasar Salad (Sam), carrots (Chris), stuffing (mom and kids), spinach quiche (Helen), Turkey (mom), squash stew (mom), mashed potatoes with bechamel and cheddar cheese (Sam and Chris), sesame green beans and mushrooms (mom), and scalloped potatoes (mom). Later we had pumpkin pie (Helen), cherry pie (Chris), and peach blueberry pie (Sam).

I am thankful for the cooking gene and three kids who are willing to put all of those lessons in the kitchen together. Sadhu, sadhu.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Growth and Intention

My family is plastic. No, that sounds like they are cheap and artificial. Made up. that is so far from the truth. I mean that my family members have plasticity, they change, they grow, they heal and progress. Many people know about my mother and her wonderful artwork. They do not know that she set aside her artistic ambitions for the twenty or so years that it took for her to raise us. She put down her paintbrush after my brother was born and didn't pick it up again until I was seventeen. She started her watercolor career in her 40s and in three decades has reached national prominence.

This openness to growth and change well after the brain pan has set a course toward pudding is not genetic. My brother-in-law has shown us all how it can be done and in a pretty dramatic way. Charles, who has been married to my sister for 22 years, recently created a possibility for his life. At this time, it is at the level of intention. I am hopeful that this intention manifests as a reality before the opportunity falls away.

Charles is the youngest of five boys whose mother is dying of cancer. While the process of a parent passing on is a normal part of life, his case is unusual. He and his four older brothers have not been in the same room with their mother since Charles was just one year old. The brothers ranged in age between one and six when their parents divorced and their mom left. While their dad tried to hold the family together he found it impossible to keep a job and manage a succession of inconsistent childcare providers. Foster care became their only recourse. It was not possible to keep the brothers together; the boys were separated and bounced around from one abusive foster home to another. It is my understanding that only the oldest brother, Robert, was fortunate to be in a single, stable, loving foster home. Charles and his other brothers had a very different experience. During these very difficult years the support that kept him intact was the occasional contact he had with his natural family. As often as he could, Charles’ father would make a more than 100 mile loop to gather all of the boys from their various placements and spend the day with them. Charles developed an acute understanding of what it means to be part of a family. Appreciation through scarcity; the snub nose pressed against the bakery window.

Charles grew into adulthood having had no contact with his mom. He had grown to believe that he didn't need her after all. He knew that at some point he would hear of her passing but this thought had no emotional impact for him. In fact, he had used the fact of his mother’s abandonment as an excuse for his troubles throughout his difficult teenage years and early adult life. He carried this baggage with him throughout his adulthood and early middle age. Then one he unpacked his bags. Charles made a phone call that changed his life.

Charles decided to leave the past in the past and talk to the woman who birthed him. He did this with faith and positive intention; he couldn’t have known how she had dreamed for almost 50 years of hearing her baby boy's voice. He displayed incredible courage and was alone in this effort because, remarkably, society supports his estrangement from his mother. After all, she had left the family. No one took into consideration that she may have had some valid reasons to do so. Even the most well meaning friends as well as some of our extended family couldn't understand why he would reach out to his mom because after all, she was the cause of much heartache in his life. I hope that they are realizing that since that first contact so much healing has begun. Charles realized that blame defined many of his actions and is now learning to release blame. The weight he carried from his past has lifted and he has a powerfully loving outlook.

The possibility that my brother-in-law is putting out to the universe is that somehow he and his brothers, who are all over the country, can all come together and be with their mother for the first time since they were all very young children and to do so before she passes. All these men are in their 50's now. This intention, while powerful on a spiritual and emotional level, is a logistical nightmare. The practical aspects of bringing five men and their mother, all of whom have limited means and are scattered from west to east and from north to south seems impossible. From a practical standpoint, how can five men, all of whom are at different points in the living and healing process and their mother, who is now at the end of her days, come together in one place at one time?

Charles’ dream is powerful and to our family it has been a teaching of love, forgiveness, gratitude and the benefit of truly leaving the past in the past. Charles and my sister have the shining standard of a beautiful, loving, committed marriage and their love for each other grows daily. He's come so far in his personal healing and longs for the next level to begin when all the Wellcome boys can come together with their mom.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

School's Out

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