Winter has arrived here in the south. Even the trees know it; they have discarded their leaves in preparation for new ones. I wonder what leaves I need to let go to make room for new growth?
My grandmother’s leaves are the same as always–giving commands that should be requests, eating ding dongs and Rice Krispies treats because she can. I love how she balances her sweets with no sugar hot chocolate. Now, she’s on oxygen all the time. It was good to see her and visit. It was not easy, though. She is an evergreen, I suppose.
So I’m here again. Going to visit my Grandmother soon, and I’m sure it will be illuminating, hilarious and uncomfortable. She’s getting old and I am afraid she will die. I had hoped that my family would be immune to death and sickness. Not so. Turns out that we are not immortal, but love remains no matter what.
I made Cuban pork roast, black beans and yellow rice one afternoon for a birthday dinner and got an earful from Grandmother. She was not amused with the consistency rice. Now, she had no idea that the yellow rice was in fact a mix, but she was put out with me for it being sticky. She is in the group of people who believes that there is only one “right” to make rice. God forbid that you purposefully make it sticky or dry. I almost lost my mind.
Now, here’s the kicker–I went to a weekend culinary experience and found out that you don’t need to put a lid on rice when you cook it! Who knew?! That’s one of those things that our parents and grandparents teach us and it’s not true!
Another reminder–be sure to put part of your salary in a savings. By the time you become old enough for social security, the “pot” may be empty because of the governmental “borrowing” from the account.
Cooking and dancing parade through my life and the lives of the women before me.
Cooking is an obvious connection–it’s woman’s work, but I got my start with Grandmother at my side. It was an unusual day because she actually “let” me make the pie crust without taking over. It was an pie crust recipe from Crisco oil and of course, it was the best one as far Grandmother was concerned. After that lesson, I took to cooking with ease and grace-do you believe me?
I hope not. I burned things, made titanic messes and created things that were inedible, but I was cooking. To me cooking is a dance between spices and heat. To dance in the kitchen is a dangerous thing, but it is necessary to dance Salsa every now and again in the middle of making black beans and rice. It’s a requirement, actually.
My mother, who my Grandmother did not care for, danced through her life. Sometimes in great smoothness and beauty and other times in heart-wrenching stops and starts. My mother taught me a little tap, a little jazz and once (famously) memorized all of Thriller when it first came out. She performed it for me.
So I balance cooking with the shifting weights of dance. I shift the weights of the memories around–trying to disassemble, reassemble, reincarnate, repair, but the balance remains the same. I hold these women and the women before them in balance–all of them are my Grand Mothers.
If you are reading this, you may wonder why I keep typing Grandmother instead of grandmother. Well, it’s simple–that’s what I call her. She not the sort of woman to be called grandmother so and so. She’s much more direct than that. Really.