Another Family Recipe

I decided to make another of Grandma Peg’s recipes for the birthday list. When Mom and Dad married, Grandma Peg gave Mom a small book of handwritten recipes of some of Dad’s favorite foods—one of which was glorified rice.

When I read about the origins of the dessert, I was kind of at a loss, since my family is neither from the Midwest nor Norway. Glorified rice wasn’t frequently on the menu, but I recall enjoying it whenever it was. What’s not to enjoy about marshmallows, cream, sugar, rice, and fruit, right?

OK, that might sound a little odd to some people.

The recipe is easy to make: you just throw together the fruit, marshmallows, rice, sugar, whipped cream, and stir it up. However, when I made it, something went wrong when I tried to whip the heavy cream, as in it didn’t whip at all.

So everything turned pink from the maraschino cherry juice and the consistency of the cream was runny instead of whipped. I won’t even show the photo of it because it is less than appetizing. I’ll show you a picture of a successful recipe instead. It was still edible, though, and I enjoyed a few servings.

Courtesy of minuterice.com

Well, that brings us to the end of the #43 birthday list, finally! 2018 was not a good year, but I did finish 43 items before the end of the year. Next week, I’ll start telling you about #44…

El Día de Los Muertos

I celebrated El Día de Los Muertos for the first time in November. I read that the City of Boston was constructing a Day of the Dead altar in Copley Square, and people were invited to send in photos of their departed loved ones. I submitted a photo of my dad.

I didn’t find him on the altar when I visited it, but that was OK. It was still nice to be there and think of him and all of the strangers on the altar.

Boston Day of the Dead Altar 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before I stopped in Copley Square on my way home, I made plans to make a little altar at home. Components of the altar are photos, candles, flowers, and favorite foods of the departed loved one. I picked up some pizza to eat for dinner and some hard candies. I was five minutes from my house when I realized that I had forgotten to pick up flowers.

Within a second of the realization, I looked down on the sidewalk and saw this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How many times have you seen a formal floral bouquet discarded on a sidewalk? I had never seen one until that night. I picked out a nice-looking floral stalk and brought it home. Thanks, Dad.

Happy Holidays

I apologize for the radio silence, but my mother had a stroke a few weeks ago. All things considered, she’s doing fine. We are all grateful that she can walk and talk. She needs to relearn how to read and write, but she is determined to regain these skills since she has hundreds of books that she hasn’t read yet. Tsundoku, anyone?

I will be back after the holidays. Hope you and yours have a very merry…

Derailed

My birthday list has been derailed because my life has been derailed.

On December 11, I found out that my dad died. No warning whatsoever. He had a heart attack in bed.

I’m thankful that he passed quickly and painlessly (I hope anyway) but sometimes I think the magnitude of shock and grief might kill me, too.

He lived in the house that I grew up in, a seven-hour drive from where I live. I immediately flew home and spent a week with my brother, who lives in the same town as my dad. My dad left no will and no paperwork in order, so much of the week was spent scrambling trying to figure out his accounts. We only paused for brief moments of grieving, where we would cry over the fact that he would never walk through my brother’s door unannounced like Kramer on Seinfeld, as he did on almost a daily basis…or cry as we shuffled through his house and came across a picture of him and my brother’s daughter that he had tacked up on the wall…or found cards that we had sent him years ago.

We made multiple visits to the funeral home in town, having to make decisions about the burial, the memorial service, the memorial cards, the cremains. We have no idea what my dad wanted, but we think he’d be happy with what we chose. I had to write his obituary, which was one of the most surreal moments of my entire life. How do you sum up a person’s life in a few paragraphs?

I’ve been experiencing the first four stages of grief like it’s my full-time job. One minute I’m looking through photos for the memorial service slideshow and I feel completely numb. The next minute I’m running errands and every time I pass an elderly man, I think, “Why does he get to live and my dad doesn’t?” Sometimes I start to go down the road of, “What if I had called him [a few days before he died], heard that he was very sick, and begged him to go to a doctor?” (He had either a bad cold or the flu before he died, which can increase the risk of heart attacks.) I’ve had moments where I’ve thought that I couldn’t go on.

I look to my friends who have already lost parents as inspiration. With time, the wounds will heal somewhat and I will live a “normal life” again. One day in the future, when I think about my dad, I’ll crack a smile instead of break down in uncontrollable sobs. I wait for that day.

 

 

 

 

Theater for All

When I came across reduced tickets to a production of Billy Elliot the Musical, I immediately bought them—not only because I love the film and musical, but also because it was being produced by a theater company that I hadn’t been acquainted with yet.

Wheelock Family Theatre is on the campus of Wheelock College. The company has been producing family-friendly theater since 1981. The night that my friend and I went, the large auditorium was almost full. It was great to see children in the audience as well as on the stage. I didn’t get involved with theater until I was in high school, but I danced and sang when I was a youngster, and both were wonderful experiences.

The performance was great. I’m sure that the young man who played the lead will be on Broadway someday. He acted, sang, and danced beautifully. I appreciated the nontraditional casting of some characters and the open captioning for audience members with hearing difficulties.

If you haven’t seen the film or musical, I highly recommend both. It’s a classic story of  love and strife among family members, overcoming obstacles, and following your dreams. I also highly recommend this theater company because of its honorable mission.