Wednesday, February 21, 2018

cranberry pear pie

When the Chistmas decorations begin to appear in stores and holiday tunes are blaring everywhere, I think about my holiday pie. I can't eat cranberries anymore because of a medication I take. I have been thinking about making my cranberry pear pie. I like the way memories can float about, like the smells coming from a kitchen readying a holiday feast.

It is a simple recipe. A bag of fresh cranberries (usually a pound) and less than one cup of real maple syrup and a bunch of beautiful pears. Prebake the pie crust slightly. Peel and slice the pears. If you are baking this pie with a child, let the child eat all the pear slices s/he wishes to eat. Layer the fruit artistically. And use a lattice top. It is a very beautiful pie. The red cranberries shine like rubies nestled in the pears. The red peeks through the lattice crust nicely. Serve with unsweetened whipped cream. Let the child taste a fresh cranberry too, if they wish. Explain the word pucker afterwards.

The recipe is not really what I was thinking about. I was thinking about the real reason I love to make this pie.

You put the maple syrup in a saucepan with the cranberries. The actual recipe calls for two cups of maple syrup but one of the reasons I like this pie is that it is not too sweet. Cut way down on the maple syrup and you really taste fruit. Cranberries are tart so they need the syrup but use as little as possible.

Heat the syrup and cranberries gently, slowly. Here is the  reason I used to make this pie: as the cranberries warm up and start to both cook and absorb the maple syrup, they make a very soft puffing sound.

Oh my gosh, I love the sound of the cranberries puffing. I love to do this with a child. I love to enjoy the hushed anticipation as we listen for the first puff. While waiting, this is a good time to kiss the child on top of the head a few times.

As soon as the cranberries start puffing, you have to quickly pull the saucepan from the heat. The thrill does not last long, the puffing is only a few seconds and the sounds very soft. Yet it is a very fine experience. There is a temptation to keep the cranberries on too long in the hope that you will get to hear another mild puffing sound but you must resist. Resolve to make this pie again soon.

Then you layer the cooked berries, the pears and bake, not too long, just long enough to meld the flavors, to lightly bake the pears.  Enjoy making the latticed pie crust top; this is also very satisfying.

The last time I made this pie, I brought it to a potluck. When she saw it, the hostess said "Oh my, where did you buy this beautiful pie?  I have to shop there."   Her comment warmed me.  I almost said, but restrained myself, "Gee, some people still make pie."  Don't they?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

super heroes

A former friend once remarked to me, and as I reflect on the exchange, I am wondering if he had just heard someone else say this, that people's network of friends were like a network of superheroes, that each friend represented a kind of super power and added together provided what a person needed.

I liked the concept. And I am quite sure I'd like to have a super power or two and a network of friends with their own super powers.

This guy, who I no longer am in relationship with (he ghosted me after treating me poorly for years, after I endured him treating me poorly for years. . . . ). As he put it in one of our last face to face visits, he said "we were never friends, we are just two people who met at a onference."  Yikes. He said tis nearly 8 years after he had socialized with me. Who socializes with someone for that long if they don't see the other person as a friend. Those words cut me painfully. In hindsight, I think he was doing he shithead best to sever ties with me when he said that.

I have had years to reflect on this guy, to review many of our long-ago-now interactions. I think he is dishonest across the board, a sneaky, sniveling, fearful little man who projects his insecurities onto women and blames them for whatever he is feeling and experiencing. Fuck him. Yeah, fuck him.

But I like the idea of one's friends as a team of super heroes, each providing a super power I need.

I need these superpowers, but not necessarily only these. I am just popping off the top of my head. I need love. I need a magic touch that generates a lot more money into my life. I need a committed male lover who wants to be with me and who can't get enough time with me -- is that a super power or does this fall under the power of love?  I want a happy sex life.  I want my daughter to love me:  a specilalized superpower of daughter-mother respect and love:  I need this one most of all.

I need hope as a super power.

I need tenderness as a super power.

I need lots of time in nature.

I need a car (not a super power but geez, I want a car so I can leave Berkeley and venture into the beautiful land I live in. And I want to take road trips again. Right now, I'm jonesing for a road trip to Chicago, then swing by Minneapolis. Are these super powers?

The power to blink and produce what I want might get me a lot of the things I have listed. Or a magic lantern. Or my own genie. Or my own magic power.

That's what I need:  magic.

the gray drizzle

“The gray drizzle induced by depression,” William Styron wrote in his memoir about his depression “takes on the quality of physical pain.” In my own experience, the most withering aspect of depression is the way it erases, like physical illness does, the memory of wellness. The totality of the erasure sweeps away the elemental belief that another state of being is at all possible — the sensorial memory of what it was like to feel any other way vanishes, until your entire being contracts into the state of what is, unfathoming of what has been, can be, and will be. If Emily Dickinson was correct, and correct she was, that “confidence in daybreak modifies dusk,” the thick nightfall of depression smothers all confidence in dawn.
And yet daybreak does come, with a shock and a rapture, to find us asking ourselves in half-belief:"What hurt me so terribly all my life until this moment?"

I have no faith in this moment that daybreak from my depression will dawn. And Styron got it so right:  when I am most depressed, I can't remember what it felt like to not be depressed. This is the worst aspect of my deep depression:  I have no memory of happy.  And when I fall into such holes, I tend to fcus on my Katie wound, the neverending grief of her shunning me all these years. I don't htink she cares one whit about me yet I can't stop longing for her. What is wrong with me that I long for someone who took took took from me, all my financial resources, all my ability to give, all her private education, all my love and ceaseless giving and she just turns me off, out of her heart. I don't feel anger towards her. Oh no. I feel anger towards myself, blaming myself for her choices.  She has contact with her father, who incested her when she was five, but me she shuns?  she took took took frm me until I had nothing to give and then she booted me out of her heart. Why do I want such a person to act like a daughter, to show me love, to care about me?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Katie Kreifels: your uncle Dave needs your love

Katie, call him up. Aurora IL area code plus 643-0241. Invite him to meet you for lunch in the city. No longer able to work because of heart failure and diabetes complications, he needs some family.

And in the days of the MangoMoron, I fear it will be very hard for him to get on disability. Trump is pushing to eliminate soc sec and, as you may know, Illinois is a fiscal mess and is conservative about social support for disabled and poor folks.

Dave was very good to you as you grew up. He is the same sweetie he always was. Show him some love.

capitalism is not form of government


Sunday, January 28, 2018

embrace suffering

"We need pain to alert us for what needs attention. We have been treating it as some kind of enemy to our cheerfulness."

First Nobel Truth: suffering. If you want to be enlightened, face suffering.  ~ Joanna Macy

life has not forgotten you (or me)

So you must not be frightened if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like light and cloudshadows, passes over your hands and over all you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall. Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any miseries, or any depressions? For after all, you do not know what work these conditions are doing inside you.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

man's search for meaning


"When a man finds that its his destiny to suffer, he will have to eagerly accept his suffering as his task; his single and unique task. He will have to acknowledge the fact that even in suffering he is unique and alone in the universe. No one can relieve him of his suffering or suffer in his place. His unique opportunity lies in the way in which he bears his burden."
--Viktor Frankl "Man's Search for Meaning"

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

I miss my dad

My dad had a twinkle in his eye most of the time. The twinkle only left when he was angry, which he was not often in relation to his kids. Dad adored all his kids. He spoiled all of us to the best of his ability.

I miss my kid, sure, but this, my first attempt (a not very successful one, imho) at having a holiday season, I missed my dad. I miss being adored by him, even when I had nothing going on to elicit his adoration. I miss how much he loved all his kids.

A favorite story about my dad. . .

When my sister was an infant, born when I was 14, I took care of her more waking hours than either of our parents. Mom was already doing her best to leave the marriage and her children by working a part time job which paid her college tuition, taking college credits. She only minded my sister and toddler baby brother when I was at school and mom took off as soon as I was on child and dinner shopping prep duty. She used me like an indentured servant and yeah, I sometimes feel that anger cropping up like a little vomit sneaking up my throat and then subsiding.

Dad came home at an unexpected time. I had been getting ready to feed my baby small baby sister. She was maybe four or five months old. I was going to feed her a jar of baby stew, baby food stew, so maybe she was sixteen or seventeen months. My sister was a very late talker so I mix up her age. She was not talking but baby sis did not really talk until age four or five.

And, and I share this with chagrin, I was just going to feed my dearly loved baby sister, who I had longed and prayed for all of my fourteen years until she was born and survived infantcy, a room temperature jar of baby food. Dad came in, saw me grab that jar of baby food, saw me head to the high chair with my sister in it, saw I was not going to heat it up.

Gruffly dad said "Would you like to eat cold beef stew?" Of course baby food beef stew was all goopy. Then dad said "give her to me" and he held her, cooed to her, while he got out a saucepan, filled it with water, slowly simmer the water to gently eat up that baby food stew. And then fed her.

As he fed her he gently chided me, and also called out to my bros who were supposed to help with the baby but never did. Dad was always working two jobs in those days so he didn't know much about who did what and, in 1967, baby feeding and diaper changing was girl work.

I never fed my sister baby food that should be served warm ever again without heating it up. It took only a few minutes in a pan of heating water, as dad had shown me.  I forgive myself because I was a kid myself, with school work, neverending housework, other children to ten (Tom and Dave, toddlers when sis was a baby), endless diapers.

I so loved seeing my dad's tenderness towards my sister Margaret. I so loved Margaret. I so love them both now one alive, one lost to me.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

just made my Xmas pie

Every holiday season I think about my holiday pie. I am spending Christmas with people I love and who love me for the first time since my daughter left me. I had to make my Xmas/holiday pie. I like the way memories can float about, like the smells coming from a kitchen readying a holiday feast.

It is a simple recipe. A bag of fresh cranberries (usually a pound) and less than one cup of real maple syrup and a bunch of beautiful pears. Prebake the pie crust slightly. Peel and slice the pears. If you are baking this pie with a child, let the child eat all the pear slices s/he wishes to eat. Layer the fruit artistically. And use a lattice top. It is a very beautiful pie. The red cranberries shine like rubies nestled in the pears. The red peeks through the lattice crust nicely. Serve with unsweetened whipped cream. Let the child taste a fresh cranberry too, if they wish. Explain the word pucker afterwards.

The recipe is not really what I was thinking about. I was thinking about the real reason I love to make this pie.

You put the maple syrup in a saucepan with the cranberries. The actual recipe calls for two cups of maple syrup but one of the reasons I like this pie is that it is not too sweet. Cut way down on the maple syrup and you really taste fruit. Cranberries are tart so they need the syrup but use as little as possible.

Heat the syrup and cranberries gently, slowly. Here is the  reason I used to make this pie: as the cranberries warm up and start to both cook and absorb the maple syrup, they make a very soft puffing sound.

Oh my gosh, I love the sound of the cranberries puffing. I love to do this with a child. I love to enjoy the hushed anticipation as we listen for the first puff. While waiting, this is a good time to kiss the child on top of the head a few times.

As soon as the cranberries start puffing, you have to quickly pull the saucepan from the heat. The thrill does not last long, the puffing is only a few seconds and the sounds very soft. Yet it is a very fine experience. There is a temptation to keep the cranberries on too long in the hope that you will get to hear another mild puffing sound but you must resist. Resolve to make this pie again soon.

Then you layer the cooked berries, the pears and bake, not too long, just long enough to meld the flavors, to lightly bake the pears.  Maybe paste some egg white on the latticed crust so it browns a bit. The one I just took out of the oven did not brown but the syrup was bubbling over:  done!

behold !!


Katie Joy:  you are my sun, my light, my love, my pure joy. Always and forever.