Thursday, July 19, 2012

On the Brink, A Treatise on Turning 39; OR An Ode to a Ginger.

Once upon a time, on this date in 1973, a new ginger came to be.  His father wanted to pass down the family name, making this boy about the hundredth William in the family, but his mum said stuffaroo to that and called him Robin Alexander, herein known as GingerMan.

Almost exactly two months later, I was born and given an exceedingly plain and yukky name and blame my wild and cantankerous nature squarely on they who stuck me with such a homely moniker.  For this boy, from a tiny town called Ballymena, outside Belfast, Northern Ireland, would overcome the grayness and depression of The Troubles which plagued his land for so long and strike out for California, in the great free nation of America at the age of 27.

He took passage with the Evil Empire MS (tm), who, with promises of stock, riches, cheap drink and loose women, lured him from his tiny island home. There were those who derided him, certainly.  Some said it could not be done, and he would return home and face dreary reality sooner than later, but he persevered.  A stranger in a strange, sunny, palm-treed land, he bought a convertible, lowered the roof and drove to Half Moon Bay from the lower Bay Area without sunscreen or water, a closely death-defying feat if ever there was one.

He made friends and one night went to a halloween party where, due to the last-minute nature of his attendance, he managed to be wearing a women's-size nun's costume.  I came upon him wrapped in black nylon, swilling ale and grinning like a mad ape.  The poor bugger had obviously been given very bad advise by drunken cohorts or read the wrong tourist guide pamphlets when he landed on these shores or surely he would have made a better match, but marry we did and he has paid dearly for it every day since. 

09SPSU - 61

In some way I believe, against my rock-solid atheism, that some tiny, elegant force of nature changed his fate when his mother stood fast on his name--he became a man with more inner strength and integrity than any other five people I know combined.  He has at times felt the heavy gray mantle of life's lesser ambition weigh him down, hasn't been able to see the virtues and abilities and brilliance others value in him.  I'm not sure he sees the beauty of his twisted wit and twisted snarkiness, that he is smart AND intelligent, that he is kind AND gentle AND caring.

I on the other hand....

See the one who became GingerMan.  The one who grew a shark fin and flaming red viking beard, the one who started believing in himself and walking taller.  The one who very kindly keeps his zombie and horror flicks to himself.


And now we seem to have woken up and become 39.  Eleven years have snapped and compressed to the length of ten minutes and--and--and... Now We Are (Nearly) Forty, (Christopher) Robin!  I mean it, we became.  I remember birthdays:  the pirate birthday I threw at a restaurant, with hats and goody bags (what is turning 37 for???), the Star Wars Birthday with the 3D printed table cloth with glasses to see it  and all...Yet these things, these numbers just floated by, and here we are.  39.  Thiiiiirteeeee Niiiiiiiine. 

Now, seeing as how a good deal of our friends and family have long since crossed to the land of Fifty-ish, I can hear them wetting their pants with laughter, but kindly grant us license on this threshold. This intrepid Traveller, this inimitable, indomitable,  perfect GingerMan is sure his liver is only good for another 20 minutes, and the revelry of this coming weekend should shave another ten off that, so we are feeling somewhat fragile, if not certain that Fifty, Sixty and Seventy are just another wake-up away and we have no time to waste.


No time at all to waste, my love.  You are my Rock, my Light, my Viking-Pirate-Jedi-Knight adventure companion and I cherish every single minute we have together.  Happy Birthday, Robin Alexander. 

Love, Me.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The mixer stands silent. For now.

Marion Cunningham, the latter-day Fanny Farmer,  has left the kitchen.

In an early post, I compared Joy to many other tomes of American culinary tradition, and may have found the Fanny Farmer (nèe The Boston Cooking School Cookbook) a bit less awesome in the deal. And yet, it is a fantastic book, full of rock-solid basics and a good format.  So easy and comforting for a new cook, and a time-tested bible for veterans.

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Just in time for Tomato Season, Plus Something Good for Olympic Viewing!

Marion met culinary legend James Beard in the 70's and eventually stepped in to freshen up the Fanny Farmer's stodgy, aspic-y personality, to bring home cooking into relevance for a new generation of working women and an increasingly no-longer "traditional" family life.  Yet she felt her mission was to somehow lure us back to the family table, for just a moment, every day, to share life together. Every interview with her fairly vibrated with passion and dedication to this goal.

I meet people all the time for whom (like me) this was their first cookbook, often a wedding gift from mom or grandma.  Some lucky ducks (with peanut stuffing, pg 262, Twelfth Edition, 1979) inherited the family's edition replete with generations of notes, additions and alterations.  Here are my books:


Neither of my grandmothers left notes???  How am I sposed to know ANYTHING???

You may read one of the better memorials written here in the New York Times .  All I can manage is to hope that, with our books propped open against the slow cooker and held open with the fruit bowl, we continue her mission to pause every day to show love and value and kindness in the feeding of friends and family.  And maybe, if we're very lucky, to share this with one small percentage of the lives Marion Cunningham touched.

BTW, Revlon's new Colorstay Overtime Lengthening Mascara, is, as advertised on the tin, Flake-Proof, Smudge, and Tear Proof, as is now Fairy-tested. Pin It Now!