juliespeaks

The unvoiced thoughts and ideas of a septegenarian.

AVERAGE

AVERAGE

I’m no different than most parents who want their children to excel, to be the best, to rise to the top of the ladder. Some, in seeking to achieve that end, enroll their kids in prestigious private schools the day the child is born.  Others encourage their children to participate in so many activities the poor kid can’t decide what he enjoys the most or wants to pursue.  Our public schools, with their emphasis on performance, are complicit in this endeavor.  There’s nothing wrong with encouraging a child to do well academically but a “C” student ought not be made to feel like a failure if “C” is the best he can do.

 

I know a father who dragged his kid into the shower with him every morning and forced the child to recite the multiplication tables. Not exactly a father-son bonding experience is it?  Guess what kind of a relationship that child has with his father today. The closest my father – an average guy – ever came to doing such a thing was to occasionally rap me on the head and say, “You’ve got a brain. Use it.”

 

Perhaps one of the components of a parenting class ought to be “We’re Not All Geniuses.”

 

JUST AVERAGE

Wasn’t valedictorian of my class

No blue ribbons for me

Once won a Betty Crocker Award

Deserve a few points in a mommy contest

 

Won’t score 150 on an I.Q. test

Will never own a patent

I play a decent game of Bridge

Scrabble is my forte

 

Didn’t write a best seller

Didn’t rise to fame

Can edit poor prose

Turn it into a winner

 

Can’t play like Mozart

Sing like a lark

Paint portraits or sunflowers

Can put you to shame in the kitchen

 

Not going to have a fortune

Live in a penthouse

Buy a Ferrari

But not yet quite broke

 

Missed having a heart stopping romance

Don’t have hordes of friends

My family’s enough for me

 

Got short changed in the beauty department

No long curly hair, no sexy legs

No dimples, a Barbie-doll figure

Cute’s not so bad

 

Was dealt average cards

Not a royal flush

Never hit the jackpot

On a one-armed bandit

But I win at gin rummy.

 

Was minimally programmed

Missing a few genes in the brain department

Have come to appreciate

And accept who I am.

Just average is okay.

 

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Julie Rose

Julierose601@gmail.com

 

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NOSTALGIC

Memorial Day seems an appropriate time to write of something memorable. I have a lousy memory but for some reason I cannot fathom I remember the lyrics to hundreds of songs.  I’m also an avid fan of the Chicago Bulls and it upsets me greatly if I miss the first few minutes of any game being telecast. – not because I’ve missed the tip- off but because I’ve missed hearing our National Anthem sung.  I have no idea why I am drawn to songs about our country but waves of nostalgia wash over me when I hear them.

 

NOSTALGIC

 

Have never been political,

Knocked on doors, made campaign phone calls,

Worn political buttons, stuck slogans on my bumper.

Haven’t seen a fraction of this country.

Know little about Adams or Jefferson

Our Civil or Revolutionary wars.

 

I’d never host a Fourth of July party,

Don’t own a flag,

Think it’s crazy to close schools on Columbus Day,

And Valentine’s Day is only for chocoholics.

I willingly skip holiday parades.

Thanksgiving is no more than a turkey.

But I wouldn’t miss rooting for theU.S.

When the Olympics are in play.

 

I’ve only to hear “Amber Waves of Grain

Home of the Brave,SweetLandofLiberty”

And my eyes become misty.

“This Land Is Your Land, This Land Is My Land,

The Stars and Stripes Forever,

I left My Heart inSan Francisco,

Chicago,Oklahoma,New York,New York”

Gladdens my heart.

 

I can still recite a poem learned in childhood:

“Breathes there the man with soul so dead,

Who never to himself hath said,

‘This is my own, my native land’

Whose heart hath ne’er within him burned

As home his footsteps he hath turned,

From wandering in a foreign strand!

Boundless his wealth as wish can claim,

Despite those titles, power and pelf,

The wretch, concentered all in self,

Living, shall forfeit fair renown,

And, doubly dying, shall go down

To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,

Unwept, unhonored and unsung.”  (Sir Walter Scott)

 

I haven’t the foggiest notion what ‘pelf’ means but I am grateful not to be that wrench, and wouldn’t recitation of that poem on Memorial Day be in keeping with the purpose of the day?

 

I often wonder where immigrants find the courage

To wave goodbye to the land of their fathers,

Cradle of their youth.

Bid farewell to family and friends,

Venture forth in search of freedom.

 

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Julie Rose

Julierose601@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

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FREEDOM

FREEDOM

 

I have a lousy memory.  The book I’m now reading is likely to be forgotten next week. I don’t  remember the addresses of all the places I’ve lived nor the names of childhood classmates.  I am attentive and take copious notes when attending a lecture but the words float through my mind like wisps of smoke. It embarrasses me to ask my son – who remembers EVERYTHING – when specific events occurred in our family.

 

There are however a few things I remember quite well. In this poem  it seems I’ve been bitten by a nostalgia bug and remembering those days reminds me of this as well Sing along with me.

 

Those were the days my friend,

We thought they’d never end,

We’d sing and dance forever and a day.

We’d live the life we choose,

We’d fight and never lose,

For we were young and sure to have our way.”

                                    (Artist: Mary Hopkins)

 

FREEDOM

 

My sister and I spent our first sixteen years

At a small cottage near aWisconsinlake.

What looms large in my memory

Is the freedom we had had then

Freedom no responsible parent today would accord a child

Freedom to come and go, from dawn ‘til dusk

With no fear of danger by day or by night.

 

We ate warm tomatoes from the garden for breakfast.

Stole apples and blueberries from neighbors.

Hung clothes to dry in the sun.

Dug fat night crawlers out of the mud.

Climbed into a sacrosanct rowboat

Where no noise was permitted,

Bamboo fishing poles in hand.

 

We left early each day for the beach.

Spent days with minnows swirling round our feet,

Ducklings trailed us as we swam out to a raft,

Turtles sunned on the banks of the lake

Profuse with sweet-smelling water lilies.

 

We applied baby oil mixed with iodine for tans.

Shared one apple among three and nobody died.

Taught swimming to toddlers,

Built thousands of sand castles,

Carved our initials into picnic tables.

 

A weeping willow tree hung over the water.

We swung from its branches like monkeys.

Dove from a bridge over a channel

Higher than an eight year old should attempt.

A young friend drove his own speedboat.

Dragged us behind him on water skis.

Did that on one ski by the time I was nine.

 

We rode rusty Schwinns through the woods

Caught butterflies and fireflies.

Plucked handfuls of wild flowers,

Sought out wild blackberry bushes,

Tracked down rabbit holes,

Learned where the owls hung out.

 

No computers or cell phones for us.

Our evening entertainment was each other.

Kids gathered and played Red Rover,

Kick-The-Can, Marbles and Pick-Up-Sticks.

Some nights we hiked up a cobbled road

Shared Black Cows at the Dairy Queen.

 

To escape hordes of  hungry mosquitoes

We gathered on someone’s porch,

Played Monopoly ‘til the banker went broke.

Listened for the tinkling bell

That announced the Good Humor man.

 

One friend lived on a nearby farm

The barn’s loft was our sleep-over party bedroom

Bales of freshly cut hay our pillows.

There we prayed to be witness to a bull

Breaking loose and mounting a cow.

 

No one questioned our whereabouts, our activities.

Yet neither of us ever got hurt or get lost.

Found our way home for dinner,

Corn on the cob dripping in butter,

Gabriel Heater and the News in the background.

 

When the stars appeared

A warm summer’s night sleep beckoned

On a screened porch in a swing

Rocked gently by evening breezes,

The aroma of peonies in the air.

 

I pined for the last day of school

For I knew that on the morrow

I’d be taken to the cottage

To again spend three months

With nobody asking:

 

Where were you?  What did you do?

Where did you go?  Who were you with?

Why are you late for dinner?

What are you doing tomorrow?

 

I leave you to draw your own conclusions

About what that kind of freedom meant

To two little girls from the city

And how it affected the women they became.

 

Simcha

 

(Simcha is the Hebrew word for Joy – my middle name is Joy – Not Julie Joy which sounds like a Hooker – Juleanne Joy, named, I was told, for a Queen of Sweden. Why anyone would name a child of Norwegian ancestry after a Swede escapes me.)

 

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Julie Rose

Julierose601@gmail.com

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FIRST LOVE

first love

 

            I don’t think any woman ever forgets her first love. She may have been ten or   twenty or forty but at eighty she still remembers him   She remembers the sound of his voice, his crooked big toe, the warmth that enveloped her when they danced, his clumsy attempt to do a jackknife off a diving board, the smell of Old Spice shampoo that lingered when he came out of the shower. She remembers, too, the joy of falling in love.  It makes no difference whether he was a prince or a cad  – she remembers.

 

Sometimes the memories are of a special moment they shared. Maybe they laid on the banks of river and he read poetry to her.  Maybe his mother welcomed her with open arms.  Maybe he knocked down all the milk bottles at a carnival and presented her with a giant teddy bear. Nothing that happened to her since has the same hold on her memory.

 

If you ask a man whether or not he remembers his first love he’s likely to say yes. But the woman he’ll then tell you about won’t be the first woman he fell in love with:  it will be the first woman with whom he had sex. He will remember how clumsy and inexperienced he felt but cannot recall the color of her hair and sometimes not even her name. This  poem would be Greek to him.

 

FIRST LOVE

His sparkling emerald eyes,

His copper penny hair:

A memory

Trapped in the depths of my heart.

 

I want to let go and when I come close

I hear a song we danced to;

Words he whispered softly.

Smell the magnolia he tucked in my hair,

Feel the caress of my name on his lips

 

I want to let go.

And just when I think I’m almost there

Vapors of onion soup drift in,

Smoky cafes drown once more in soft jazz.

 

I want to let go but I cannot forget

Memories of togetherness laughter,

Bare toes in wet sand,

Dimple in chin, freckle on shoulder,

Wading – then swimming – in passion’s waters.

 

The pilot light of remembrance

Flickers once more in my soul.

I lay awake in the night

Wishing the heartache away.

I want to let go, love freely,

Untethered by the leash of his memory.

 

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Julie Rose

julierose601@gmail.com

 

 

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DISCOVERY

DISCOVERY

 

            For more years than I care to remember I was married to a man whose idea of a weekend get-away was a football game in Madison, Wisconsin – every year –same time – same place.  We once went skiing in Aspen over Christmas vacation. Guess where he wanted to go the following year?  “No,” I said.  “I’m going to Mexico.- come if you like.” He swallowed his fear of new places, joined me in Cozumel  and – you guessed it – wanted to return toCozumel the following year. His idea of experiencing something new was to occasionally sample a new restaurant not more than five miles from home.

We once planned a trip to California with stops in San Francisco and San Diego.  After three days of Fisherman’s Wharf and trolley cars a rented car was delivered to our hotel.  I grabbed the wheel.  He hauled out a map and directed me to the freeway leading south. I ignored him and headed forU.S.#1 – certainly slower but far more interesting. Spent two hours watching the Monarch butterflies in Pismo Beach where, at that time, the count was something like 30,000 butterflies. Imagine that!  Returned home with a small Eskimo soapstone sculpture and a luxurious woven shawl from an artists’ colony.

I vividly recall once taking a back road and stumbling upon a family having a picnic along the banks of a river.  They invited me to join them.  I enjoyed some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had and climbed aboard a canoe with them for a ride down the river. I made new friends, and walked away with a recipe for the cranberry/banana bread the woman served, thankful for having taken a detour.

Another detour took me past a farm with a large sign out front. “LabradorPuppies For Sale.”  “Are you joking?” I said to the farmer.  “$25 for this lovely pedigreed dog?”

I grabbed my purse, took out my wallet, and handed the guy three tens.  My children couldn’t have been happier. Heidi was the best dog we ever had and I never would have found her had I stayed on the expressway.

I do know one man who is the antithesis of my husband.  This guy seems to have an insatiable need to try everything.  One year he decided to learn to ride and bought  a horse. The next year he sampled sky-diving. The following year it was a sailboat. His idea of a Saturday evening’s entertainment is to visit a local pool hall and make an ass of himself or to drive 100 miles to have dinner at a hole-in-the-wall diner purported to make bar-b-q ribs to die for.

I pity the stick-in-the-muds who never experience the joy of discovery –  the aroma of fresh bread baking – the challenge of a riotous surf – the satisfaction of learning a new game  – the courage to tackle Shakespeare – serendipitous moments that come only to those willing to step off the beaten path.

 

DISCOVERY

Today I followed a new route to my destination

I was grateful there were no stoplights

The road meandered along lazy lagoons

Water lilies along the shore

Serendipity is what it was

A pleasant, unexpected, surprise

Like putting a coin in a vending machine

And getting three chocolate gumballs

The cautious resist taking a detour

They miss the pleasure of discovery

The joy of stumbling upon  the unusual

Discovery is a precious thing

You can’t beat the elation an astronomer or an archaeologist feels

When he discovers a new star or uncovers a mummy

Or the thrill a man experiences when he invents a new mousetrap

Or the satisfaction a couch potato finds in mastering golf

No one with limited vision stuck in the quicksand of life

Ever discovered the secret of the stars or opened a new door

The seeds of discovery float constantly around us

But they only take root in those ready to receive them

To discover a new author who speaks to me

A symphony that moves my heart

Find my own quiet corner of the woods

A pretty shell on the seashore

Would be “aha” moments for me

The voyage of discovery is not seeking newness

But in having new eyes

Dr. Seuss had it right:

“You’ll be sort of surprised what there is to be found

once you go beyond Z and start poking around.”

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Julie rose

Julierose601@gmail.com

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TESTOSTERON

TESTOSTERONE

 

I like men.  Growing up I had boyfriends, not girlfriends. I took great delight in sitting on the handlebars of Pete’s bike and being taken for a ride. I adored the guy who lived three doors away and let me drive his Harley –Davidson. I sat in awe of an English professor who had hyacinth blue eyes and smelled like the sweet tobacco he used in his pipe. I fell in love with one who draped me in Spanish moss and pretended I was his bride. As an adult I much prefer the company of, and conversation with, men rather than women.  I’d rather shoot pool in a pub than go to a tea party. I don’t, however,  long for a car that’ll win the Indy and I’ve no wish to outscore anyone on the golf course. I do prefer the ladies locker room with its aroma of fresh flowers rather than sweat, lavender scented hand lotion, hair dryers and thick, fluffy, pink towels.

 

Let it first be said I am not a biologist and have little concrete knowledge of hormones. There is a great deal of scientific research into the question of whether testosterone really leads to aggression. Much of it attempts to prove that testosterone – by itself – is not the bad guy but most studies conclude but that it plays an important role in  terms of both individual survival and procreation. There is also clear evidence of a connection between the hormonal effects of testosterone and the outward expression of aggressive behavior. While it is common to think of  testosterone in terms of sexual activity, it is, by no means confined to that arena. It plays a primary role in aggressive behavior exhibited in a variety of circumstances.

 

I have come to believe the Creator misjudged the amount of testosterone to be given to each sex.  Men have much more testosterone than women. There is no doubt in my mind but that testosterone is responsible for much of the world’s evil.  From the time they become adolescents, men are driven by that hormone. Every female in sight becomes a sexual challenge; every sport played is an opportunity to become “top gun.;”  every bit of land is a temptation to conquer. Can you find  a woman who has started a war?

 

Fantasy  – Wishful Thinking. What would the world be like if both sexes had been given an equal amount of that hormone in lower doses?  Men might understand they are not wimps if they compromise: that they do not have to conquer to be respected. Women might be a little less reticent to engage in challenging activities.  Our society might become one with less individual competition and more group co-operation. Our divorce courts might well be far less crowded.

 

Generally, the Creator made good choices when the world was created but I think He/She/It goofed up on that one.

 

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Julie Rose

Julirose601@gmail.com

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SOUL FOOD – AN ODE TO AUNT KITTY

SOUL FOOD – AN ODE TO AUNT KITTY

 

She had a wooden chopping bowl the size of a washtub.

I hadn’t the faintest idea what gefilte fish was.

She said ”I’ll teach you”.

I learned by chopping  – endlessly.

I’ve  now chopped enough fish to stock Lake Erie.

 

At Passover we chopped nuts and apples by the buckets.

In my kitchen I toyed with  the recipe

Mixed a little nutmeg into the cinnamon,

Added some raisins or apricots;

Occasionally won a round of applause.

Tried Persian Charoset – adored by some guests

Too spicy for others.

 

We left off chopping and began to knead

Kitty insisted 100 kneads were essential

I divided the challah dough in thirds to be braided

She cut each piece in half and s said

“We braid six, Prettier.”

She never let me forget I failed the proofing yeast test

 

I  learned brisket doesn’t have to taste like shoe leather

Meatballs demand sweet jam and chili sauce,

Those cubes of beef the butcher calls beef stew

Are delectable braised in red wine and onions

After they’ve marinated for two or three days.

 

I learned to make chicken soup without a whole hen,

Used only a bag of bones, a few wings

And never forgot the thyme

I learned guests expect matzo balls in their soup.

After some practice mine were light as a cotton ball.

 

“Forget the matzo balls next shabbas,” he said.

“Make some knishes instead.”

Knishes?  Quick – call Aunt Kitty.

He once asked for borsch.

Bought beets, dug out a grater:

My knuckles bled for three hours.

Alas, he wanted cabbage borsch.

 

Mandelbrot, Sponge and Honey Cake?

Boring I concluded – leave those to the bakery.

Bourbon  Pound Cake and Cinnamon Tea Rolls

French Apple Tart and Lemon Bars are better.

Forget chopped liver.

The odor of broiled liver nauseated me.

That’s what delis are for.

 

Aunt Kitty’s wooden chopping bowl

Is now a cherished part of my kitchen.

It’s an octogenarian,

A stranger to planned obsolescence.

It holds fond memories of a motherly woman

Who knew her way through the maze of Jewish soul food.

 

Horrors – I’ve lost the chopper!

 

Simcha

 

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Julie Rose

Julierose601@gmail.com

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“I WON’T EAT THAT”

I WON’T EAT THAT”

           

            Surely I’m not the only mother whose kids gorged on cookies and pancakes swimming in syrup when they were little and, when they became picky teenagers, was forced to become both a nutritionist and a dietician.  Concious of being a few – I repeat – FEW – pounds overweight, my daughter turned up her nose at sweets of any kind, lived on salads with lemon juice only as dressing and insisted on skim milk

 

One son took pity on the animal world and became a vegetarian.  That required a whole new box of recipes and a search for suitable protein recipes. How did that happen?  He once attended a Jewish summer camp where one activity was to observe the kosher method of slaughtering a cow.  At the end of that summer about a dozen kids returned home as vegetarians.  Needless to say, that insensitive activity was never repeated.

 

From the time he was a toddler his older brother fed anything green on his plate to the dog. His father once told him if he didn’t eat the peas on his plate at dinner, he’d have them for breakfast and if he didn’t eat them for breakfast, he’d have them for lunch. After two days of uneaten peas, Daddy cried “UNCLE.”   In vain, I lived in hope he’d outgrow that. but it t wasn’t until he was close to forty that he stuck his fork into a salad. He is still a meat and potatoes guy. (Yuk)

 

They’re all adults now and all but the vegetarian have left behind those food quirks.  However, they are stick-in-the muds with reference to trying anything  new. They’d be reluctant to taste even one bite of something like paella or spanokapita.  I have no words to describe how much their attitudes toward  food  frustrates me – ME -the food experimentalist.  What I need to do is find a group of food junkies who are game for anything short of worms and crickets.

 

While none of my children have a sweet tooth, they have come to appreciate, and frequently ask for, two cakes I often make.  Both are quick and easy.  Herewith: Bourbon  Pound Cake and Bon Appetite Apple Cake. Either can successfully be made pareve (neither meat nor dairy).

 

BOURBON POUND CAKE (one large cake)

1 pound butter or margarine                              3 C sugar

8 eggs, separated                                              3 C sifted flour

2 t. each vanilla and almond extract                   1/3 C bourbon

½ cup chopped pecans

 

  1. Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry, gradually adding 1 C of sugar. Transfer to another bowl.
  2. In the mixing bowl – no need to wash it – cream butter/margarine and 2 C sugar until light and fluffy
  3. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating thoroughly after each
  4. Add the flour and the liquid ingredients alternately in thirds.
  5. Fold egg yolk mixture into meringue.
  6. Sprinkle nuts in bottom of a well greased 10” tube pan and  pour in batter.
  7. .Bake at 350 degrees for 1 ½ hours.

 

BON APPETIT APPPLE CAKE – This cake stays moist for days.

Preheat oven to 325.

Mix:     3 ½ C Granny Smith apples chopped

1 ½ C  oil

1 ½ C sugar

½ C brown sugar

3 eggs

 

Add:     3 C flour                                   2 t. cinnamon

1 t. baking soda                        ½ t. nutmeg

1 C chopped walnuts                2 t. vanilla

 

Bake 1 ¾ hours in a greased tube pan.

 

I think credit for this one belongs to Bon Appetite magazine.

 

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Julie Rose

Julierose601@gmail.com

 

 

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FOODIES AND COOKS

FOODIES & COOKS

 

There are those who shy away from the stove and depend on frozen TV dinners. I’ve no doubt General Mills and Sara Lee applaud them. They can’t, however, count me among them. Nor can the makers of Ketchup and mustard – camouflages for poorly prepared food or lousy ingredients.  I like to cook and I’m quite good at it. I abhor fast food and most carry-out stuff and happily wander between sink, stove and refrigerator. There are times I am convinced I was born in a kitchen, not in a hospital. (See poem following.) .  Why, you might ask, do you like to cook?

 

The answer is I find cooking to be a creative exercise.   How many twists can I put on mashed potatoes? What’s another way of making chocolate cream pie? What can I do to perk up this dull salad?  Can I safely substitute V-8 juice for catsup? I avoid having dinner parties with themes based on the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving. Where is the creative challenge to be found in celebrating those holidays?  I have no wish to spread an American flag on my table nor have little plastic turkeys scattered around between the wine glasses.   I much prefer to plan dinner parties for about twelve to fourteen based on themes other than Halloween or Mother’s Day.. Here are a couple I’ve done that tickled my imagination and offered a challenge. Recipes are available by request to my email address below.

 

I once read about “The Feast of the Seven Fishes,” an Italian, Catholic, tradition on Christmas Eve, supposedly commemorating the three day wait for Jesus’ resurrection.  I can’t imagine why an event that occurred at Easter should be celebrated at Christmas but, nonetheless, that’s what it is. Although I am neither Italian nor Catholic that “Feast” struck me as a culinary challenge.  Preparing seven fish entrees and accompanying side dishes for a dozen people is no small trick.  After tweaking a menu about 35 times guests were first served a smoked salmon spread on crosini, followed by codfish balls, then five different fish entrees. All fish dishes were accompanied by a starch of some kind and a vegetable. The Chinese whole sweet and sour red snapper and the pan fried Asian trout filets stole the show.

 

A few months later the dinner-theme bug bit me again.  This time it was to be a casual affair, with pillows on the floor, using paper plates and plastic utensils. Guests were invited to partake of an International menu. which consisted of: Israeli salad, Egg Rolls (Japanese), Spanopikita (Greek), Paella (Spanish), Pad Thai, Gorgonzola Pasta (Italian), Mongolian Beef, Persian Rice (Iranian), Asian Sweet & Sour Fish with Danish Apple Crumble and Norwegian Krumkaka for desert – all to be washed down with French wine and German beer.

 

It seems appropriate at this time of year to celebrate summer but I’ve yet to decide on a summer menu.  Briefly – very briefly – I thought about a “Kiddie Food” theme but macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers and PB&J sandwiches is not my idea of a culinary challenge. Summer?  Summer?  What would be on my summer menu? Maybe cold vichyssoise or gazpacho, apple cole slaw,  potato/onion gratin, Drunken Drumsticks, thin slices of rare roast beef atop a bed of sautéed spinach and, for desert, fresh strawberry or blueberry pie with Kailua flavored crème frache.  Gotta tune that up a little.

 

The Kitchen follows.

 

Post a comment – share a recipe.

 

Julie Rose

Julierose601@gmail.com

 

THE KITCHEN (abbreviated)

 

I’m convinced I was born in a kitchen, not in a hospital.

The oven was my womb; my umbilical cord led to the sink.

I came out smelling like garlic, whining like an old mixer. . . .

 

My kitchen is my inner self . . .

The oven affords me time for reflection

The blender scrambles my thoughts into new ideas. . .

It is my internal clock

Wakes me to the aroma of fresh brewed coffee. . .

Lulls me to sleep at night with warm herbal tea

 

The kitchen is my smile.

I grin at a plate of chocolate brownies

Beam at a tasty pasta creation

Clap for a stack of crispy potato pancakes.

Glow when others applaud some dish

It’s also my frown.

Aerated foam is not whipped cream

Burnt bottoms on muffins are cause for divorce

And sticky rice is not nice. . . .

 

My kitchen demands balance and imagination,

Judgment, prudence and patience

There my visa is stamped, a passport to adventure.

An introduction to food from other cultures

. . .

Bury me, please, not with a headstone,

But with a sprig of thyme under my nose

And a cherry tree at my feet.

 

 

 

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PLACES

PLACES

 

There are probably dozens of reasons why we become attached to a place – a locale – a particular niche in the landscape of our lives.  While I do remember all the places where I’ve lived none of them are memorable to the extent of touching my heart.

 

It is now some 50 years since I was there but I still have a warm spot in my heart for New Orleans. On the shores of LakePonchetrainI danced to music coming over the car radio from The Blue Room and he put a magnolia in my hair. I can hear soft jazz enveloping the air in the French Quarter – taste beignets and chicory flavored coffee – and recall marching behind a funeral cortege to the tune of When The Saints Go Marching In.

 

There is a small lake in southern Wisconsin where a piece of my heart still floats on its ripples.  It was there I learned to swim –  there, I fell off the running board of a Good Humor truck and contacted blood poisoning from landing on a gravel road – there, where I pigged out on black-cows. There, where I was given the freedom to come and go as I liked  – no questions asked – no cell phone to report in. There, where I picked fresh tomatoes from Grandma’s garden, doused them with salt and ate them for breakfast. There, where the smell of goat cheese coming from the icebox – yes, ice box – made me head for the back door.

 

I fondly recall an elegant restaurant at the top of a hotel in Lake Tahoe at close to midnight one evening when it was closed for dinner but accepted a plea for dessert. The ski slopes had shut down and we gazed out the window at snow covered mountains under a starry sky. I was feeling celebratory as I had just won $100 in the casino. Our waiter insisted he be allowed to choose our dessert.  He brought us bowls of fresh strawberries smothered in Kalua flavored crème frache, topped with chocolate shavings, profiteroles and,  with a goodly amount of flair, opened a bottle of very old, very fine, port.  No dessert I’ve ever had since has matched that.

 

Ellison Bay,Wisconsin– home of The Clearing – a retreat for writers and other artists, housed on a cliff overlooking Lake Michigan. Several log cabins, connected by sawdust paths, are laid out beneath a thicket of pine trees. Here I was Thoreau in the wild! Here, I got good critical feedback from a creative writing instructor. Here, I was, for six lovely days, in the company of creative people. I will never forget the joy on the faces of an older couple as they left a woodcarving workshop, carrying a woodpecker and a thrush. I imagined them mounting their handiwork on the front lawn of a curlicued cottage complete with white picket fence, window boxes of pink petunias, and a hammock under a weeping willow tree. Surely the Garden of Eden looked like this place.

 

There are some cities that hold parking spaces in my memory. San Francisco for its vibrant cultural diversity, Golden Gate Park  and Fisherman’s Wharf. Toronto for its annual Canadian National Exposition – the best entertainment bargain I can imagine – and its efficient public transportation system.  Madison, Wisconsin for its academic atmosphere and a fine restaurant in the basement of an old winery that featured strolling violinists. Oshkosh,Wisconsin for the camaraderie of the sailors at the marina on Lake Winnebago and free access to a pool and tennis courts at the adjoining hotel.

Best of all is the unforgettable city of Jerusalem. There are many reasons why Jerusalem stands out – too many to mention here.  Let this one suffice. I love its stones – rosy pink in the morning and shimmering gold at sunset. They are like a woman who changes from shorts and tee-shirt to a cocktail dress at night. For me, the stones of Jerusalem are not inanimate objects at all. They speak of four thousand years of history. They have heard the pleadings of Isaiah and Job’s cries of anguish. They bear the scars of Roman war machines and Crusader swords. They stand tall and proud and boldly announce there is, in fact, some measure of hope in the world.

 

What is your ‘I’ll never forget’ place?

 

Julie Rose

Julieroe601@gmail.com

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