pumpkin pie o’clock

‘Tis time to be thankful and eat pie. 🙂

Though some grow giddy at the mere thought of roast turkey with all the fixins’, for me, Thanksgiving has always been about pie.

Pumpkin pie, to be exact.

Maybe it’s because we only had it once a year. Though we dallied with apple, blueberry, banana cream, custard and pecan at other times, pumpkin pie was largely reserved for Thanksgiving.

To this day, one bite and I’m back in Hawai’i at one of our family potlucks — table laden not only with turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, yams, several hot veggies, and fresh cranberry sauce, but also pineapple glazed ham, steamed rice, makizushi, pork and vegetable lo mein, at least two kinds of kimchi, a retro Jell-O salad, and a roast chicken for Grandma Yang, who did not like turkey.

Yes, we relished every savory mouthful of this lovingly prepared homemade spread, but I always knew, deep down, that the best was yet to come.

Here’s a delectable poem to whet your appetite.

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Digital painting by Lois Boyce
WHEN THE PIE IS COOLING 
by Camille A. Balla

I recall the first Thanksgiving
I was designated to be the pumpkin-pie baker
and for years thereafter; pies made
with the excitement of family homecoming --
always making the dough from scratch.

Today I call upon the Pillsbury boy
to make and roll out the circle of dough
which I place into the pan, then add
the traditional filling with just the right
amounts of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

The November chill makes cozy the warmth
from the oven as I await the sweet, spicy aroma,
telling me when the pie is just about done.
How satisfying it is to delight once again
in this simple work of my hands.

I think of the many hands
along the way to my kitchen that made
possible the baking of this pie:
The grower of the pumpkin,
the wheat farmer, the dairy farmer, the egg
farmer,
the hands that picked the sugar cane.
The hands of workers in a cannery,
of truckers who transport foods to the store,
the hands of the people who shelve ingredients
that come from here or far-off lands.

Hands of people I never met
yet all of them a part -- whether aware or not --
of this pumpkin pie now ready
to be served at my Thanksgiving table.

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strawberries: a taste of something wild and sweet

“Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.” ~ Pema Chodron

 

Hello, good-looking friends. How are you holding up?

Hard to believe it’s already June. It’s certainly been a trying three months! Time to anticipate summer with a little strawberry love. 🙂

As we hunker down in our private spaces, our strength, resilience, faith and patience are being tested as never before. Each day brings a new concern as we reassess our priorities and consider an uncertain future.

Rather than perpetually bemoan forced confinement, we can mindfully pause to carefully consider, with humility and gratitude, the time we are actually being given and the challenge to use it wisely.

I’m here to tell you there is good news: Today, it’s your turn. Wherever you are standing right now, I give this to you:

 

“Strawberries” by Alexis Kreyder

 

WHAT IS GIVEN
by Ralph Murre

The likelihood of finding strawberries
tiny and wild and sweet
around your ankles
on any given day
in any given place
is not great
but sometimes
people find strawberries
right where they are standing
just because it is their turn
to be given a taste
of something wild and sweet

 

“Strawberries on Spode Plate” by Jeanne Illenye

 

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honoring our elderly with a pair of poems (+ a special birthday!)

“We’re all just walking each other home.” ~ Ram Dass

“Holding Hands” by Suzanne Summers LaPierre

 

TEA AT JUBILEE MANOR
by Linda Crosfield

Every afternoon at two-fifteen they come,
a procession of chairs and walkers,
or unaided in a slow and ponderous shuffle,
backs hunched against the unkindness of time,
to assemble in the great room for tea.

They enjoy this ritual —
the sturdy cups of Orange Pekoe,
cookies and squares that break up a day,
words exchanged, sometimes even heard,
by folk whose paths might not have crossed before.

It’s a slow dance, led by invisible partners.
It’s the last dance, and they’re saving it
for every afternoon at two-fifteen.

~ Posted by permission of the author, copyright © 2011, 2020 Linda Crosfield. All rights reserved.

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“God Bless the Caregivers” by Pami Ciliax-Guthrie

 

Nursing homes have been in the news a lot lately. After all, it was a nursing home — the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington — that first warranted our serious concern about COVID-19’s community spread in the U.S. back in late February.

We learned that the elderly were the most vulnerable, and that many residents as well as caregivers had been lost or were fighting for their lives across the country.

When I stumbled upon this lovely poem by Canadian poet Linda Crosfield recently, I couldn’t help but view it through the lens of the pandemic. The cherished ritual of afternoon tea took on an added poignancy as I thought of those who no longer have the joy of a “last dance” to look forward to.

As it turns out, though, there was a bright spot, a glimmer of hope.

When I contacted Linda to ask for permission to share her poem, she provided a little backstory about it:

I wrote “Tea at Jubilee Manor” when my aunt was living there. It’s a nursing home in Nelson, BC. She died at 102 in 2012. Now my mother is in the same place and she’s turning 100 on June 3rd. Sadly, it won’t be quite the celebration we’d always planned. Can’t see her in person. No hugs. No flowers. Gifts frowned on. But we can send in one of those little airline-sized bottles of gin and some tonic and we will toast her over the fence on the day. 

Now the poem is even more meaningful. Though I was sorry to hear Linda and her family won’t be able to celebrate this landmark birthday in person, I was so relieved that her mom is okay and would indeed be observing a rare milestone next week.

Would you like to meet Daisy? Here she is:

 

Linda’s mother Daisy, the birthday girl!

 

Have you ever seen such a beautiful face, such a wonderful smile? Oh, the people she’s met, the things and places she’s seen, the love she’s shared in 100 years! And she’s given us a poet!

Oh, look — it’s 2:15! In honor of Daisy’s birthday on Wednesday, we’ve set up a little afternoon tea. Please help yourself to some marble cake, dark chocolate pretzels, lemon, oat, and chocolate chip cookies, and of course, a warm cup of Orange Pekoe.

 

 

 

If not for Linda’s poem, our paths might never have crossed. Just as her heartening words suggest, we must follow the lead of our wise elders by rejoicing in simple pleasures and cherishing each moment as it comes, with gratitude that it’s been given.

 

Mr Cornelius wants you to try a Tunnock’s Tea Cake, a special treat from Scotland.

 

There’s much to be said, especially in tough, unpredictable times, about treating each slow dance as your last.

 

 

While you nibble and sip, enjoy this mini gallery of seniors and Samantha Reynolds’s poem, as a way of honoring those we’ve lost, those we’ve found, and those we’ve yet to meet. Not to be forgotten, devalued, discounted or sacrificed, but revered, respected and treasured.

 

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poetry friday roundup is here!

“In the cookie of life, friends are the chocolate chips.” ~ Salman Rushdie

Hello, Poetry-loving Friends!

Hope you’re feeling a little chipper today, because it’s National Chocolate Chip Day!

Thought we’d serve up a little comfort and levity to brighten your weekend. Please help yourself to as many warm-from-the-oven cookies as you like and a tall glass of milk — you certainly deserve it!

A few weeks ago, I received a nice thank you email from New Hampshire poet Jeff Friedman. You may remember that I featured his awesome “Poem for Ross Gay” back in December. I’ve never been quite the same since reading how Ross ate four Athena melons, an entire book of poetry, and all the eggs in the house, while refusing chocolate chip cookies and King Arthur chocolate onyx wafers (cause his body is a temple).

 

 

I didn’t need further convincing that Jeff is my kind of poet, but after he mentioned that chocolate chip cookies are the mainstay of his diet, there is simply no doubt.

So today, another Jeff poem — and yes, there’s chocolate in it. I’ve always wanted to work in or own a bakery. But the narrator in the poem and I just happen to be allergic to the same thing. Wrap your lips around this one, but save me an éclair. 🙂

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“Pastry Chef” by Chaim Soutine

 

WORKING IN FLOUR
by Jeff Friedman

When I walked into the bakery at my usual time
asking politely for two marble cookies,
a fudgy chocolate drop rising from the chocolate swirls,
Ida Kaminsky, who came from strong Russian stock —
a hearty vegetable stew, spicy meats rolled in
cooked cabbage — winked and asked if I wanted a job.
She offered me two bucks an hour,
half off on the marble cookies, and anything
not sold at the end of the day might also be mine.
I put on an apron, pushed through
the swinging doors to help the bakers.
The smell of flour was thick
and tree pollen spotted the windows.
Tall and freckled, Max, the other assistant,
squeezed my hand, “I’ll show you what to do.”
He taught me how to use the cake decorator,
how to prepare the éclairs and put them in their doilies,
then pointed out the brooms and mops, the industrial
strength cleansers, the double sink
with rubber hoses coiled in it. “You don’t want
paste to harden in the bowls.”
From across the room, where he scooped chocolate chip
cookie batter onto a baking tray, Julius, the baker,
snapped, “Make sure you tell him: Everything
has to be spick-and-span.” The flies heard him
and flew off the lip of the sink toward the light fixtures.
Soon I began sneezing, my hapless ahchoos
running down spotted walls, glistening
on my face and hands as I pumped the custard
through a nozzle into the delicate éclair rolls.
Later, when I worked on cleaning the floors,
Max yelled at me for spreading the dirt
in circles with my mop.
I stepped back, kicking over the bucket of lye.
All in a day’s work, I thought.
The next morning, Ida Kaminsky cornered me,
“I liked you better as a customer.”
I folded my apron neatly without arguing back
picked up my bag of cookies
and walked out into the bright spring air,
where now I understood my mother’s comment,
“You’re allergic to work” and where, for a moment,
I stopped sneezing.

~ from Working in Flour (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2011).

 

Marbled Chocolate Chunk Cookies via The Monday Box

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Now, please leave your poetry-related links below with the charming and debonair Mr. Linky. Take some chocolate chip cookies with you, and enjoy your little foray around the blogosphere as you savor all the wonderful posts. Happy Poetry Friday, and thanks for joining us!

 

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More cookies for the road compliments of the resident bakers:

 

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“I love watching keep-fit videos while munching chocolate chip cookies.” ~ Dolly Parton

“If I had any choice in the matter, I’d stay in my comfy bed and eat warm chocolate chip cookies all day.” ~ Simone Elkeles

“I look out the window and I see the lights and the skyline and the people on the street rushing around looking for action, love, and the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookie, and my heart does a little dance.” ~ Nora Ephron


Copyright © 2020 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

cookie jar capers

“A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.” ~ Barbara Johnson

 

Did YOU take the cookies from the cookie jar?

Who, me?

Yes, you!

Couldn’t be.

Then, who?

 

Can’t fool me. I see crumbs on your face. 🙂

Don’t blame you, though. A cookie, at any time of day, always makes things better.

 

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THE COOKIE JAR
by Edgar Guest

You can rig up a house with all
manner of things,
The prayer rugs of sultans and
princes and kings;
You can hang on its wall the
old tapestries rare
Which some dead Egyptian
once treasured with care;
But though costly and
gorgeous its furnishings are,
It must have, to be homelike,
an old cookie jar.

There are just a few things that
a home must possess,
Besides all your money and all
your success —
A few good old books which
some loved one has read,
Some trinkets of those whose
sweet spirits have fled,
And then in the pantry, not
shoved back too far
For the hungry to get to, that
old cookie jar.

Let the house be a mansion, I
care not at all!
Let the finest of pictures be
hung on each wall,
Let the carpets be made of the
richest velour,
And the chairs only those
which great wealth
can procure,
I’d still want to keep for the joy
of my flock
That homey, old fashioned,
well-filled cookie crock.

Like the love of the Mother it
shines through our years;
It has soothed all our hurts and
dried away tears;
It has paid us for toiling; in
sorrow or joy,
It has always shown kindness
to each girl and boy;
And I’m sorry for people,
whoever they are,
Who live in a house where
there’s no cookie jar.

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