Sunday, September 27, 2009

Upon forgetting to buy my daddy a card...

I went to the store
in search of a card
I walked out the door
After looking hard

I thought I grabbed it--
I really did!
I searched long and hard

for one without "DAD"

Alas! I'd forgotten
the most critical part:

To buy a card,

It most go in your cart

So I'm sad you're cardless

today of all days

But know I'm not heartless,
just a little dismayed.

Yes, this really happened today-- I walked out of the store with three cards in my hand, just as I should have. However, I somehow ended up with two "Happy Birthday Mother" cards, a sister-birthday card, and none for Daddy. I think it may have had something to do with the dearth of cards which said "Daddy" instead of "Dad". My dad hates to be called "Dad". You can claim him as such in casual conversation with others, but you call him Daddy.

This poem was the result of my mistake, written on the way to the picnic shelter where we opened (sometimes hilarious) presents and ate too much food.

And the picture? It's of Daddy, sporting his "Toad Poem" look.

God bless! I hope your weekend was as good as mine.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Puzzle Piece

My life is made up of pieces that should be a cohesive whole--but they're not. The pieces feel like a puzzle thrown in a box all which-a-way.

As a teacher, I nurture others, pulling my students into stories and writing, cajoling them to learning. This life requires more of my time than the others. It's where I earn my daily bread--working to form lives and minds. But there's a tug-of-war between work and life.

As a friend, I talk and love and sometimes come out to play, though not as often as I used to. Most of my girlfriends are concerned with their families and new-found lives, so our conversations have more to do with where I'm headed than where I am now. The exceptions are my sisters. Both understand the balance that is easy to loose when you're a teacher.

As an artist, I'm barely there. The creative drive is still exists: projects fester in my mind, but rarely leave, stifled by the demands of paperwork and students' needs. I look in awe at others who work full-time, yet still have the time and energy to create every day.

As a daughter, an aunt and a sister I'm connected to those who have lived my life with me. Our relationships haven't changed much over the years--I'm still the aunt who buys candy at Cracker Barrel, the sister with the crazy, flighty ideas. What changes is the deepening of experiences, stretching through time.

As a child of my God, my life is the closest to complete. It's where I find the mistakes I've made and the changes I need to make. It's where I dedicate my life daily to the Cross. It's real-life, real-time, real-close, though that's not always apparent on the surface. It's also the one I struggle to put first. This is where I see the patterns echoing between the pieces, even as their shapes constantly change. I want a stronger vision. I want the puzzle of my life complete, strong and resilient.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

After the storm, the leaves murmur and shake themselves of the attached raindrops
like ladies who, knowing their beauty, seek perfection

And the sun comes out to illuminate their new-found gloss
Spotlighting the new, clean colors again.

Happy first day of Fall!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Flourless Chocolate & Vanilla Marble Cake

One word: YUM.

Serves sixteen
Yields one 9-1/2 inch cake

For the vanilla batter:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the chocolate batter:

10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
5 oz. (10 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
3 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbs. dark rum or espresso
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Pinch table salt
Cocoa powder for dusting

Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 300°F. Lightly grease a 9x2-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment.

Make the vanilla batter: In a medium bowl, beat the softened cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and continue beating until well blended and no lumps remain. Add the egg and vanilla and beat just until blended. Set aside.

Make the chocolate batter: In a medium bowl, melt the chocolate and butter in a large metal bowl over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave. Whisk until smooth and set aside to cool slightly. With a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the eggs, sugar, rum or espresso, vanilla, and salt on medium high until the mixture is pale and thick, 3 to 4 min. With the mixer on low, gradually pour in the chocolate mixture and continue beating until well blended.

Combine and bake: Spread about half of the chocolate batter in the bottom of the pan. Alternately add large scoopfuls of each of the remaining batters to the cake pan. Using a knife or the tip of a rubber spatula, gently swirl the two batters together so they're mixed but not completely blended. Rap the pan against the countertop several times to settle the batters.

Bake until a pick inserted about 2 inches from the edge comes out gooey but not liquid, 40 to 42 min.; don't overbake. The top will be puffed and slightly cracked, especially around the edges. It will sink down as it cools. Let cool on a rack until just slightly warm, about 1-1/2 hours. Loosen the cake from the pan by holding the pan almost perpendicular to the counter; tap the pan on the counter while rotating it clockwise. Invert onto a large flat plate or board. Remove the pan and carefully peel off the parchment. Sift some cocoa powder over the cake (this will make it easier to remove the slices when serving). Invert again onto a similar plate so that the top side is up. Let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 4 hours or overnight, or freeze.

Tips: To slice the marble cake neatly, use a hot knife (run it under hot running water and dry it). Wipe the blade clean between slices.

Sprinkle cocoa on the bottom of the cake before inverting it onto another plate; the cocoa will keep the cake from sticking when you slice and serve it.

Make Ahead Tips

Wrap the cooled cake (unmolded as directed in the recipe) in plastic and refrigerate until firm and well chilled. Slide the cake from the plate and wrap it again in plastic. Freeze for up to a month. To serve, unwrap the cake and set it on a flat serving plate. Cover with plastic wrap and thaw in the refrigerator overnight, or at room temperature for an hour or two.

From Fine Cooking 54, pp. 54

December 1, 2003

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Phone Call

When I call my sister on the phone, the murmur of childrens' voices fills the background. Her voice smiles, and I can see her blue-grey eyes shining in my mind.

When I call my sister, I return to the days of our childhood when we made radio shows, played ridiculous duets on the piano, and laughed and fought our way through. I talked and she listened; she did something crazy and I helped pick up the pieces.

When I call my sister, I hear music in her voice--the music spills out of her words. I hear the clean, deep bass notes followed by the thick thatch of middle chords that finish soft and high. The music pulses like waves through our conversation.

In my sister's voice I hear the echoes of what I once was, and what I am, and what I hope to be.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Sewing Analogy

Thread through needle~ sandwiching layers of fabric together. What threads will I use to stitch my classes~ my colorful pieces~ together?

One is brown and worn, frayed in the corner. Another is pristine-white with starched crisp corners. Another is loud and crazy, with the rhythms of neon colors dancing across the background. Yet another stripes like soldiers, lined up for parade.

And these are only a sample of my fifty-four swatches to stitch this year. Perhaps my thread will begin with the pale blue of love and switch to the dark cerulean of learning. But always we will come back to that pale azure sheen which is so ephemeral in the chaos and drama of sixth grade.