Picnics and Remembrances

 Today’s temps are expected to land a fingertip from 90. Oakley and I finished our sweaty panting morning walk by 8:15. Neither of us do well in heat, so a picnic is out of the question. Perhaps an afternoon jaunt to one of the local dog-friendly stores will be in order this afternoon.  Otherwise, we will limit outdoors time to that required for canine hygienic purposes.

However, it’s Memorial Day. Remember the ones who lost their lives in service. Remember the ancestors and loved ones who went before. And celebrate their memory with a picnic or cookout.

We mostly did cookouts at our house. Dad (Army, medic, served in Operation Fairwing to help keep Adolph and friends from establishing a beachhead near Rio; later stationed at a rehab hospital for returning soldiers where he met my mom) presided over the grill. Fallen sticks from the hickory tree in the back yard  elevated the burgers or chicken from postwar chow to gourmet delights for the ages. He didn’t do anything really special otherwise, just a dash of salt, a touch of pepper. That was it. Mom and Grandma did the potato salad and Jell-O and some other sides with pie for dessert. Kind of like Thanksgiving, only with lighter foods and warmth, usually.

That usually happened on Monday. The weekend was filled with running Grandma to the cemetery where her parents and several siblings (she was second oldest of nine and the last one standing) were interred so she could pay her respects to them while tending their graves. Sometimes we went up to St. Louis, a small town an hour or so north of Lansing where my grandfather had grown up to decorate and pay respects there. A few flowers, a little clean-up work, and all was as it should be.

We also tended the grave of the stillborn  premature child who should have lived to be my other big sister. I poured the water over the storm cloud colored flat stone while Mom scrubbed the dirt accumulated over the past year from the outline of the lamb and the letters BABY GAY APRIL X 1957 as gently as she would have her child’s cheek. Why didn’t she make it, Mama?…She was just too little and too weak, honey. More water over there, please…The small pot of pink geraniums were centered just above the stone. Why did they just name her Baby?…She wasn’t alive when she was born and new babies were just listed as Baby with the parents’ last name….What did you want to name her?…long pause…Pauline….Mom picked up the empty milk carton and wad of used paper towels in one hand, then held the other out to me. I took it, and we walked back to the station wagon. That makes me kind of sad….Me too, honey, but now I have you…She ever so gently touched the tip of my nose with the tip of her finger…and you make me very happy.  

Mom, Dad, and (yes, I say her name) Pauline rest together now. Mom on one side, Dad the other, and Pauline in between them. I haven’t been up to visit the cemetery since my dad’s burial. I just don’t do graves myself; I prefer to remember my parents doing what they did best: Dad grilling or cooking, Mom at the piano playing Debussy. There is no way of knowing who or what Pauline would have been.

Except very much loved, and in the end, that’s all that matters.


Homemade Mayo

Really, it’s not that hard….you take one of these….egg-from-the-domestic-chicken-138x165.jpg

and some of this…..OldDesignShop_OliveOilAd.jpg

and some mustard, vinegar or lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Give them a ride in your food processor and you have homemade mayonnaise.

I used the recipe that came with my Cuisinart DLC-8. The one that I received as a wedding present. In the ’80’s. Still going strong after all these years. You take 1-1/4 cup of oil (neutral, like grape seed or canola or good ol’ vegetable oil–some concerns have been raised about canola, but it was what I had on hand), 1 egg or 2 yolks, 1 T. each Dijon mustard and vinegar (I used apple cider), plus salt and pepper to taste. Whirl the egg or yolks with the salt, pepper, mustard, and vinegar to combine. Then with the processor running,  add the oil v-e-r-y slowly. That’s the hard part. The feed tube on my model is hollow with a small hole in the bottom so you can fill it with oil and let the processor rip. I poured the oil in a thin stream manually. It looks like nothing is going to happen, and nothing is going to happen, then…voila! Silky, perfectly textures mayo at  the bottom of the work bowl.

I used a combination of canola (see response above) and olive oils. The olive oil was a bit intense, so I’ll probably cut back to a tablespoon of it next time, enough to give flavor without being overpowering.

The mayo’s gone into bleu cheese dressing, salmon salad, and egg salad. It lacks the stabilizers (and sugar, thankfully) that its jarred cousins feature, so I need to use it up soon.

As long as I have some good bread, or French fries (how they do it in Belgium), that shouldn’t be a problem.

Stationing and Going Direct, or Watch for Changes

Today, after three weeks of going backwards relative to Earth, Mercury goes direct. Yesterday and Friday it stationed. It just stopped in its tracks after almost three weeks of dancing backwards. After a pause, it goes forward.

I understand how it feels.

My personal life dragged me backwards since the end of March. There was the epic colitis flareup Oakley suffered. There was news of one of Hubby’s brother in laws getting diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. He’s had one chemo treatment and tolerated it pretty well. Can it be managed so that he can stick around for a while? Probably. Can the cancer be sent back to the dark hole whence it came, resulting in a full remission? I don’t know.

Other news involved another close relative who will likely need care in the future. For now, the relative in question is stable, but considering the future is like staring into abyss. A very dark one. I can’t go into any further details out of respect to privacy. He’d been hiding it, and hiding it well, but the curtain began to ravel before the forces of life tore it to the ground, leaving the secret naked and exposed.

That revelation sent me spinning backwards off an emotional cliff. I bounced off of a couple of ledges and lay on the ground for a while. I have picked myself up, knocked the dust off, and am ready to begin again. All I can do is stay in the moment, practice acceptance, and find ways to enhance the day in small ways, like new candles and flowers.

Please watch for some new features and changes coming to this space. I hope that you’ll enjoy them.