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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016

Completely unexpected


All three of the grandchildren who’ve been here came with interesting reading habits. They read fantasy. I picked up a couple or three to read, and was not impressed by thin plots and limited vocabularies.  Emily joined book club, realized thought provoking literature was available, at the library, no less, and moved on. 

A year ago this past summer I mentioned to Laura that some book she was reading seemed based on Grimms. I unearthed Grimms from the basement library, and she read the little green volume from my childhood. Then I handed over Andersen, and suggested she read at least up to the nightingale story, or the little mermaid.

For their first Christmas here I flooded the children with classics, hoping to influence their reading habits for the better. The Andersen volume went to Emily, with some others, and languished on the bottom shelf of her bookcase. Laura was the reader of it, though, and I see it now lives on the bottom shelf of her bookcase.

And so on to this year. Over the summer I took her to see the professional production of a play. This year she’s joined drama club. She spent all of junior high being too timid to join. Over the summer we went to a production of You Can’t Take It With You, and the ending was surprisingly well done. I was impressed by the set and the costumes, and pointed out to Laura all the work that goes into a production by the folks who put it on. She’s joined drama club “to work on sets or costumes.” One doesn’t ask.

Those are pleasant parts of the world through young eyes. My unpleasant part is band, band shows and football games. Joe, my car pooler, has a license and a car, so I have Laura’s round trip. Retrieval from band practice at nine o’clock plus Wednesday nights is not too far outside the pale. But, Friday night football and the occasional Saturday band show are!

The young, tailgating parents are, frankly, insane. But, at least they are already at the event, and can retrieve Susie and Johnny and get on home. For me, when pigs fly. I have found a school website that posts the big plays each quarter, and the score. I look at it occasionally, and about mid fourth quarter head off to the school. We’re talking late for grandmas, but I flip on the local public radio station for Los Angeles Theater productions.

Laura generally has an unfavorable remark or two, before she falls asleep on the way home. Last weekend she suddenly listened to the production of Pride and Prejudice, and asked me to fill her in on characters and what she missed. At home, we sat in the drive, at midnight, listening to the end.

“Emily has this,” Laura announced. “She left it here! I’m going to read that.”

I looked. Complete Works of Jane Austen lives in another bedroom now.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

We hope this is the last food story


Except for the ten years I was married, I never learned how to cook. When there was no one to cook for me, I winged it with a bag of noodles, a stick of butter and a can each of lima beans, corn, and tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes, in season.

Fortunately, people around me could cook. My daughters, my sister, eventually my granddaughters. No one went hungry, especially me.

Emily and Laura were defacto cooks last July, when we moved. Emily cooked like Aunt Janice, and pretty much elbowed Laura away from the stove during the several weeks before she went off to college. Big sister syndrome. Though Emily had little hope for Laura, the little sister was merely biding her time.

Laura was born to make lists, which is the last name of shopping list or menu list. She was very expansive in the beginning, and I had to rein in the amount of produce she wanted to load into our refrigerator. I learned in a day or less not to interfere. I don’t buy ingredients she isn’t interested in using, for instance.

In the beginning we ate a lot of wraps. I’ve become an excellent wrap wrapper. Kale goes into the pan first, some green pepper, some broccoli—whatever is in the fridge. Some spices. Some protein. This goes on a wrap, on a little plate, which is bigger than the wrap, when the wrap is wrapped. Always good, sometimes excellent.

After the breaking in period, I made a couple of attempts to steer nutrition. A vegetable with the mac and cheese, for instance. She does not bake mac and cheese (“the macaroni sucks up all the cheese! Yuck.”)  Most dishes seem to be served in a bowl. Even spaghetti. Convenience, I suppose. I generally find vegetables incorporated in the dish being served in a bowl. Kale in the mac and cheese, for example.

Laura is a solitary cooker. I don’t mince fine enough or chop well enough to be welcome, so I stay out, rather than be sent out. Consequently, I can read the list and know what’s for dinner, but don’t see it happening. The other night, before she called me, I heard something new. “I should plate this.” Someone apparently watches cooking shows, too.