[soupy review + recipe] Brand-New Bubbe by Sarah Aronson and Ariel Landy

What is the secret ingredient that makes for a good soup and a happy family?

Just take a big slurp of Brand-New Bubbe, a brand new picture book by Sarah Aronson and Ariel Landy (Charlesbridge, 2022) to find out.

In this savory story, Jillian is happy to get a nice stepdad when her mom marries Michael. But who ever said anything about a new grandmother?

Jillian already has two: Noni and Gram. Nope, she definitely doesn’t need another one.

Yet here is this frizzy red-haired person asking to be called “Bubbe,” who just doesn’t get the hint. She smothers Jillian with “bright red kissy-lips,” makes plans for holidays Jillian’s never heard of, and is always “kvelling” (or is it “kvetching?”). 

This Bubbe even has the nerve to declare her matzo ball soup the best in the universe! Jillian can’t believe her ears! Nothing can beat Noni’s meatball soup – “except maybe Gram’s spicy gazpacho.”

This definitely calls for a protest!

No matter what Bubbe does, Jillian resists:  she ignores the teddy bear Bubbe gives her, refuses to shoot hoops with her, won’t eat the dinner Bubbe makes with all of Jillian’s favorite foods. 

Not surprisingly, Jillian’s petulance upsets her mother, who urges her – in no uncertain terms – to give Bubbe a chance. When Jillian asserts that she’s not technically related to Bubbe, Mom reminds her that “family is more than blood.” 

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“Queenhood” by Simon Armitage

I had another post planned for today, but after hearing about Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s death yesterday, I wanted to share a special poem in her honor.

“Queenhood” was written by UK Poet Laureate Simon Armitage in celebration of Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee this year. It’s a beautiful tribute to her unique life as the longest serving monarch in British history.

It’s hard to believe that just a few short months ago, Britain was in high spirits celebrating her glorious 70-year reign. Now the world is mourning her passing. Whether you’re a monarchist or not, something must be said for someone who so selflessly devoted her life to duty and public service for decades with such deep humility.

I’ve long admired this extraordinary woman, and am sad that she’s gone. It’s hard to imagine the UK, and indeed the world, without her.

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Coronation Day portrait by Cecil Beaton (Westminster Abbey, June 2, 1953).
QUEENHOOD: A Poem for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee 2022
by Simon Armitage

I

An old-fashioned word, coined in a bygone world.
It is a taking hold and a letting go,
girlhood left behind like a favourite toy,
irreversible step over invisible brink.
A new frock will be made, which is a country
hemmed with the white lace of its shores,
and here is a vast garden of weald and wold,
mountain and fell, lake, loch, cwm.
It is constancy and it is change:
the age of clockwork morphs into digital days,
but the song of the blackbird remains the same.

II

Queenhood: a long winding procession
from the abbey door to the abbey door.
Queenhood: vows taken among bibles and blades,
beneath braided banners and heralding horns;
the anointment of hand, breast, head, with oil
of cinnamon, orange, musk and rose, promises
sworn in secret under tented gold
so daylight won't frighten the magic away,
too sacred by far for the camera to see.
It is an undressing first then a dressing up,
a shedding of plain white cloth then the putting on
of a linen gown and the supertunica --dazzling gold foil
lined with crimson silk. Man will walk
on the moon, great elms will fail and fall.
But a knife's still a knife. A fork's still a fork.

III

So the emblems and signs of royalty are produced:
the gilded spurs; the blue steel sword -- like a sliver
of deep space drawn from the scabbard of night --
to punish and protect; bracelets to each wrist,
sincerity and wisdom -- both armour and bond.
Love is still love is still love, and war is war. 

IV

And indestructible towers will atomise in a blink.
The God particle will be flushed from its hiding place.
The sound barrier will twang with passenger planes.
Civilization will graft its collected thoughts
onto silicon wafers, laureates will pass through court . . . 
But Taurus, the bull, on its heavenly tour,
will breach the same horizon at the given hour.

V

Queenhood: it is the skies, it is also the soil
of the land. It is life behind glass walls
and fortified stones. Robe and stole are lifted
onto your shoulders -- both shield and yoke.
Motherhood and womanhood will be taken as read.
'Multitasking' will be canonised as a new word.

VI

It is an honouring, but also an honour.
In the flare and blur of an old film
ghostly knights and chess-piece bishops deliver
the unearthly orb, with its pearled equator
and polished realms, into your open palm;
and pass you the sceptre and rod of mercy
and justice, one bearing the cross, one plumed
with a white dove; and load your fourth finger
with a ring that makes you the nation's bride;
and offer the white kid glove with its scrollwork tattoo
of thistles and shamrocks, oak leaves and acorns;
then finally furnish your head with the crown ---
jewelled with history, dense with glory --
both owned and loaned at the same time.

Do those burnished relics still hold
the fingerprints of a twenty-seven-year-old?

VII

A priceless freight for a young woman to bear,
but, draped and adorned, a monarch walks forward
into the sideways weather of oncoming years.
And the heavy cargoes of church and state
lighten with each step, syrupy old gold
transmuted to platinum, alchemy redefined.
Queenhood: it is law and lore, the dream life
and the documentary, a truthful fantasy.
For generations we will not know such majesty.

~ Copyright © 2022 Simon Armitage. All rights reserved.

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♥️ Enjoy this short video of Simon Armitage talking about “Queenhood.”

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♥️ For more about Queen Elizabeth’s life, read my Platinum Jubilee post (with three recipes).

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Carol Varsalona is hosting the Roundup at Beyond LiteracyLink. Be sure to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared around the blogosphere this week.

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Art by R.W. Alley

*Copyright © 2022 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Happy September! Apple for the teacher? Perhaps you’d like to visit a busy outdoor market, enjoy a relaxing picnic, or steep yourself in the delicious aromas coming from the kitchen?

Elena Narkevich’s beautiful acrylic on canvas naïve paintings are characterized by vibrant colors, inventive compositions, precise details, and a strong narrative component. 

Born in Minsk, Belarus, but now living and working in Spain, Elena is able to capture a wide range of human emotions in her pictures: happiness, love, surprise, delight, wonder, sometimes sadness. 

Her dynamic and joyful scenes from everyday life, sometimes laced with a touch of humor or irony, are widely accessible because of their uncomplicated universal themes. 

Love her work! For more, visit Elena’s Instagram. Originals may be purchased via 1stDibs.com, and prints are available at Art.com and AllPosters.com.

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[songs + recipe] Celebrating Paul’s 80th Birthday + a summer blog break

“What I have to say is all in the music. If I want to say anything, I write a song.” ~ Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney turns 80 tomorrow!

We’re celebrating Macca’s milestone birthday by sipping English tea, nibbling on fairy cakes, and listening again to several of his best songs. 

photo by Mary McCartney (2020)

We all have our favorite McCartney tunes – from his time with the Beatles, Wings, and as a solo artist. But have you ever wondered which of Paul’s songs he likes most? 

I imagine “I Lost My Little Girl” will always hold a special place in his heart, since it’s the first song he ever wrote at age 14. He composed it on his Zenith acoustic guitar shortly after his mother Mary died.

Yes, he still has that Zenith!

Here he is on MTV Unplugged (1991). Can you detect the Buddy Holly influence? 🙂

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melanie parke: beauty and light

Welcome, do come in!

A pretty teapot, a vase of wildflowers, a bowl of fruit on the table. Melanie Parke elevates common still life elements into scenes of breathtaking beauty by infusing her pictures with exhilirating light.

Melanie in Rome.

Melanie’s interiors feel refreshingly alive thanks to her winsome layered compositions, gorgeous colors, and interesting perspectives.

We sense someone may have just left the room, or is expecting a visitor or two at any moment. Once our eyes have drunk their fill of sheer loveliness, we gaze beyond, through open doors or windows – out to the garden, woods, or beach, where we can continue dreaming.

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