It’s been twenty months since these two have occupied their childhood home together. It is different. Grandma lives here now. The house is blue. There is different furniture. He walks around picking up things and asking where they are from. Things change in twenty months. There are two options: go back to the way it was when they squabbled over almost everything, or act your age and be your new self. We all agreed that would be much more fun. A beautiful day, starting out at 4:30am we decided to all pile in the car and go to the airport to pick him up. The four of us together again, well five, there was no way the dog was letting us go without her. Like old times. Home for a hug from Nannie and a quick nap then dropping Jazzy and Nan at my brothers house for the day. We head into the city. Like old times. Ess-a-Bagels for breakfast, Pixar Mini Golf, laughs, walking through the city, Irish Hunger Memorial, strolling on the west side path along the Hudson, the Statue of Liberty saluting, welcoming, reminding us how lucky we are. A beautiful day.
These two…I am so very thankful for them. They are everything.
Since forever, holidays in our home meant eating Armenian appetizers before the main meal…stuffed grape leaves and boreg (think spanakopita) accompany every gathering, they go with bbq, turkey, roast beef, and lamb…of course they go with lamb. They are a staple. Delicious bits of goodness that are both complicated and tedious to make. Armenians like a little suffering in their food prep, why layer your phyllo dough when you can make 100 individual triangles.
I have been folding triangles (boreg) for about 48 years. For the first 7 years of my life I got to watch and listen to the “how to deal with phyllo dough” play by play. Katharine (pronounced Katrin) we used to make this…yes, my grandma and great aunties MADE phyllo dough. Kit Kat, you have to have the dough at the right temperature, don’t worry about sheets with rips, just patch it. Watch and learn. I finally graduated to being able to fold…Kit Kat, that is too much filling…Kit Kat, that is not enough filling…Katharine, you can do it, yes, you can do it. In my head I repeated up and over, up and over as I folded…creating a triangle that was full, but not too full, tight but not too tight. Trying so hard to make a triangle that was…jusssst right.
Every year, a few days before Thanksgiving the realization that annual appeals and holiday cards should be in the mail the first week in December hits my clients. There is a mad rush for design, approval, and getting files off to the printer, all while I am trying to organize the holidays, it makes for some long days. Today I needed to focus. Brush brush brush, tap tap, clink…and repeat. That is the sound of my mom making boreg, butter brushed, spoon tapping the filling on the dough, and the clink of the spoon tossed back in the bowl. I ran downstairs. I joined the production line, brush, tap, clink…it was lovely. After we finished folding and doing, my mom looked at our work and said… thanks for helping Kat, your triangles are GORGEOUS.
Best. Compliment. Ever.
I am thankful I was wise enough to put off work for a bit to cook with my mom. I am thankful for family traditions. And I am super thankful my mom waited 48 years to compliment my triangles…I have to admit, they were pretty awesome, I think even grandma would have approved.
This morning my little guy was focused on the rocket ship box. Getting in, putting on his goggles (made out of cardboard of course), closing the doors and hatches, and taking off…this meant I was counting down and shaking the box as he giggled inside. He would pick a planet, have a little visit, then back in the box taking, off to the next adventure. When he blasted off to visit the moon, I sang the Sesame Street song…
Well I’d like to visit the moon, on a rocket ship high in the air. Yes, I’d like to visit the moon, but I don’t think I’d like to live there.
Though, I’d like to look down at the earth from above, I would miss all the places and people I love so although I might like it for one afternoon I don’t wanna live on the moon.
He got out of the box and looking at me with the most delicious huge brown eyes said, Kat, why are you sad? Why is that song so sad?
I wasn’t sad, but my heart was heavy…I sang that song to my kids a million and one times…in my arms, wearing footsie pjs, so clean after their tubbies, resting their little heads on my shoulder…I rocked and I sang. He could hear my longing for times gone by. Sigh. Swoon. Sigh. What a tender little man.
Tonight the moon is SPECTACULAR, take a minute to look. When I spot a beautiful moon like this I immediately text my crew. Everyone, look at the sky, the moon, the moon, we are together.
So where ever you are, go look at the moon. We are one.
This, this is a bag of rice. A very big bag of rice.
As I unbungeed it…yes, we close it with a bungee…to refill the container that lives in the cabinet, I realized this bag represents many phases of my life. As a mom of a little peanut of a child, I would have looked at this bag and thought, man, I could make the cutest a-line dress for Olivia with this. I had already made a dress out of a vintage pillow case for her…a rice bag dress…adorable. Next phase, I see a prop for Olivia’s grade school teeny tiny birthday party. We made oversized playing cards, candy bars, and other bits of hugeness for the kids to hold in their teeny tiny photoshoot. Fill this baby with cotton and bam, they would have looked amazing lifting this over their heads. Phase of the moment, a pat on the back for scoring this and other restaurant supply sized food items during the pandemic. Keeping my family fed was my main job, it all worked out.
I am thankful for the many uses for a comically large bag of rice.
I can walk into a performance space and as the lights go down, I completely lose my cool. My heart starts beating really fast, I have a frog in my throat, and I get teary. It could be a Kindergarten Circus of 5-year-olds, or 4th row center at Jagged Little Pill… I. Am. Done. Hearing David Bowie sing Heroes at the concert for the 9/11 first responders, the front of my dress soaking wet with tears, ridiculous. Watching my daughter bounce as high as the sky on a bungie trampoline, her freedom contagious…chills. Seeing my husband greet guests at his one man show, I had to leave the room, way too emotional for me, so not a pretty sight. My family watches me, how long will it take her to start crying…I am their entertainment.
I received this picture this weekend. I cried. Of course I cried…it is everything a mom cherishes. I know the look on his face even though I am only seeing his back. How can you thank a person so connected to your kid that they understand the importance of a moment, and know how much that moment would mean to his mom. No words.
My little boy was the king of imaginative play. He could play on his own for hours, from his Sesame Street guys, to his Toy Story crew, to his bin of Star Wars toys. He created adventures that transported him to other worlds . Flying his Millennium Falcon around the living room, it was clear he was not holding it…he was on it.
Saturday, he walked into the park, and there, right in front of him was what had been in his head since he was a little guy…it was right there…he too teared up.
I am thankful we raised a son who can feel his feels.
It’s back and I have been bingeing. It is actually not possible to binge, they are releasing episodes one week at a time, like olden days…when we had patience because we had no other choice. I love The Great British Baking Show, everything about it. It is an exercise in listening, using existing knowledge, and thinking out of the box. It tests working under pressure, handling disasters with grace, and taking constructive criticism. The contestants are not cut throat, loud, or manipulative. So unAmerican, the anti-Survivor, I am in awe.
Every season I fall in love with one contestant. The 17-year-old redhead who blushes every time the camera is on him; the lady who exercises while waiting for her bakes to bake; the young girl who is so poised and well beyond her years, it is almost impossible she could be creating such masterpieces. This season I really am having a hard time picking a favorite, kudos to the casting team, there are so many lovely talented people in one tent, I would be happy if any of them won. That is a lot coming from a very opinionated woman.
Can we talk about the kitchens…hello…my colors, mixer, bright teal fridge, sigh swoon sigh, my dream kitchen, I just need a proving drawer. I think I might tackle bread if I had a proving drawer. For a bit I thought I had been saying proofing all wrong, but in fact, it is proving or proofing. Say as you wish, I’m going English.
Too stodgy, even layers, nice lamination, good flavor…their comments in my mind as I bake. Those accents, praising or disappointed, I listen for them as I work.
Last Christmas Eve, late in the day, preparing for a dinner for 4 instead of 12, I decided to make a Yule Log/Jelly Roll. With none of the proper (proper said in an English accent), tools I just went for it. Baking my thin layer of cake, getting it out of the oven quickly, spread that jam, using my parchment to roll it…very little cracking…it was a triumph. The buttercream was over whipped and separated, my bad, I covered my mistake with confectionary sugar, raspberries, and served it. Paul with a bit of a smirk, hands in pockets, looking from the cake to me and back to the cake. Prue rocking some amazing glasses and dressed like a rainbow. I can hear them…nice laaayers, good flavor, I like the hint of lemon with the raspberries, lovely to look at, but too bad, it is really too bad about the buttercream, such a shame…almost there.
I am thankful for the loveliness of the Great British Baking Show.
The other day I looked in the mirror and lamented that I have to dye my hair. Thursday, a day off from my little guy, I woke and said…I have to take a walk today. I regularly have to make dinner, and in this month of daily Thankful Swoons, I have said I have to Swoon…more than once.
I need to change them all to GETs. I get to do these things.
One of the things on my list today is the wake for my friend Fran. Fran and I used to joke about how often we both had to dye our hair. We would assure each other that the gray looked good and then agree we liked not only the color, but the texture of our curls when dyed. I will now embrace getting to to do this chore…and I will kiss the sky each time I do it.
On this day, even though my heart is a bit heavy…I am thankful I get to Swoon. I wish you a day of good “gets”…I wish you peace.
I am thankful to live in a country where people (in theory) have a right to a jury of their peers. I am more thankful that I was told not to report for jury duty today…fingers crossed I won’t have to go at all. Jury duty is a hardship when you are a sole proprietor.
This is my dad in Korea, one of my favorite pictures of him. It is so him. The way his hand is draped over his knee, that sweet crooked smile, the slightly turned-in foot, and best of all his ability to get down on the ground to hang out with a kid.
We never heard much about his time in Korea; he was not really a boastful guy. Back then he was a partier, and rumor is that this trait postponed many of his departures to the battle field. It seems the clerk in charge of the index cards (!) indicating who was shipping out was a drinking buddy, and didn’t want his pal to go. I have no clue if this is true or just a family myth. Either way, it’s a good story.
Today we honor our veterans. I am thankful for them, I am thankful for their parents and their loved ones who watched them walk out the door, not knowing if they will ever return. I am very thankful.
I stand here crying for a different gentle warrior…one that left this earth for her next journey way too young. Three different cancers over the past 15 years, she fought like no other. She was a warrior.
There are people who change your life with their gifts. Fran’s gifts were many, she was a master of color, a sculptor…an artist. Fran was our hairstylist. This sounds like a crazy exaggeration, I mean really, who mourns their hairstylist like this, but Fran was more than just someone who cut our hair. Fran was a friend.
My daughter, another warrior…fights the battle of trichotillomania. It started in 6th grade and it is a constant in her life. When you develop this kind of obstacle in middle school things can go two ways…your community can rally around you, or they can run. I am in awe of the communities that rally around kids in need. That did not happen here. One of the few people we could always count on, who addressed the issue, who was always supportive, who wanted to learn, was Fran. Fran gave me the gift of one of the best days with my girl, she gave Olivia her first pixie. After a year of hiding under hats and wraps, when Olivia was ready…she trusted Fran to cut what was left of her hair. Without judgement or drama, Fran created the most beautiful little cut…hello Mia Farrow, hello beautiful girl…welcome back my Olivia. When someone makes your kid feel beautiful that person is forever in your heart.
Why can’t I stop shaking…these last few years have been filled with loss, what is it about this death that is hitting me so hard? Fran was a hard working woman, a business owner, a mom. She loved to cook for her peeps, celebrate her kids, entertain, and take care of her extended family…13 years into her cancer battle, she still hosted Thanksgiving. Fran was a woman who never turned down a job, who loved to make people feel good about themselves, a woman who gave. I am so very sad because even though she lived every moment of the last 15 years to the fullest, she will not get to see her kids grow up, or experience the first night of having an empty nest with her husband. I mourn for her, her family, and everyone she connected with. I mourn because her death frightens me and reminds me to live each day, to appreciate time.
Fran, I wish you a gentle journey to your next adventure, I wish you peace. I hope your next go is pain-free and full of rainbows. I know you will, once again, appreciate every moment.