Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A balm for March


A cold March morning summoned me to the kitchen for something comforting.  I reached for Ruth's recipe box and found three different recipes for rice pudding.  I chose the one with the most eggs, six.  I had never tried this recipe, which is made in the oven, not the stove top.  That would be nice, I thought, not to have to skim away the skin that forms as the milk boils.  Out came a nice quart of milk, a retro glass bottle I had bought recently, thinking of Ruth and how she must have bought her milk.  I was feeling cozier already.  

As I made my way through the shorthand recipe- cooking the rice till firm, separating the eggs, beating the yolks till thick and lemony, I felt confident in my ability.  I beat the whites until foamy.  Maybe I over beat them, yes I think that's where I went wrong.  Combining the whites with the rice and yolks, I found they would not fold in properly.  They ended up sitting, floating on top of the pudding.  This is stupid, I thought. Why couldn't Ruth have been more explicit? Should I have used a whisk or a spatula? Just how foamy did she mean?

I was not about to waste organic eggs and milk.  I would eat the pudding myself but just not share the recipe.  For the rest of the day my thoughts turned deeper, from this kitchen mishap to what I've missed the most in the two and a half decades or more without my mother and grandmother.  Tangible things like visits, phone calls, letters, one of those hugs. Advice on cooking, advice on child rearing and relationships.  Anecdotes of how to get through the day to day.  Stories of their pregnancies, their childbirths.  Intangibles like knowing that a source of support exists, pulling for me. 

Then I realized that having an incomplete recipe is just a metaphor for that missing link to my past, that hole I've felt all these years.  "Figure it out" is basically how her recipes are written.  Figuring it out is what I've been doing all these years.  When you don't have someone to spell it out and guide you, the result must be resilience.  

-For Lisa and Alexandra, the most resilient of all.


  1. I never thought of the loss of a mother and/or grandmother in those terms. Of the gap it leaves in a shared family history. Figuring things out alone. It must be hard but it seems like you are "figuring it out" pretty well.
    My mother is a constant presence in my life although we live far apart. But you got me thinking about my pregnancies and sharing stories with her, getting advice on how to raise my children. The truth is we also never really shared pregnancy stories, it seems like pregnancy was just a fact in her day, you didn't stop and think about it as much as we do. There were no tests, not as much anxiety, it just was. You had children, you raised them... sure you loved them but things didn't revolve as much around emotions and being friends like now. When I grew up there was parent time and children time. We did not interfere with parent time, we had nannies. We had a loving relationship and a lot of affection but we did not spend time together 24/7, I don't remember ever sitting on the floor playing with my parents, although we did a lot of great cultural things together and travelled. So I don't really ask advice even if I can, because I think the way we are raising our children puzzles her to an extent, as much as she admires it.

  2. I always enjoy reading your blog posts. Very peaceful and insightful at the same time. Lovely.

  3. I love reading your posts! You have a gift of dragging the reader in and bringing him/her where you are.

  4. This is so sad, and beautiful all at once. Figuring it out for yourself is hard, but also a little bit satisfying, and surely they're watching you and proud of you.

  5. to this day, Ruth continues to talk to you in so many unspoken ways... it is a gift that she was not that explicit, she has you thinking, trying, proofing, testing, exploring, questioning, and discovering for yourself. It is a message all parents can never hear enough of.

  6. Plain beautiful..in so many ways.


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