Tidings Of Comfort And Joy

In 2009, I struggled with questions for which I’m still awaiting answers. Life is very complicated – unless it isn’t. As for the new year: I am hopeful that while our national discourse has taken a turn for the disastrously stupid and craven, in our own lives, we can think the smart thoughts and make the smart moves. For us – for you – here is what I wish –

In 2010 – and not a decade too soon – I want a political talk show host to finally turn to William Kristol and slowly, deliberately ask this important question:

“Bill, what the fuck is wrong with you?”

But our host can’t stop there.

“Bill, what the fuck is wrong with you? You’ve been saying the exact same things about different brown people around the globe since the first time we had the misfortune of hearing your name. You are always wrong. You hate yourself and every living being. You stink of death and misery and I can smell you from here. For the sake of your favorite sky god, what the fuck is wrong with you?”

Balm, like the laughter of little children, it is!

In 2010 – and not a decade too soon – I want a political talk show host to finally turn to Thomas Friedman and slowly, deliberately ask this important question:

“Tom, what is the matter with you?”

But our host can’t stop there.

“Tom, what’s the matter with you? To call you stupid is to insult stupid people everywhere and to call those things you think ideas is to dignify suggestions to lick frozen flagposts. You have absolutely no idea what’s going on in the world, the damage you’re doing or the political use to which you’ve been put. If you had any decency you’d put out a Times supplement in which you hand wrote apologies to every literate man, woman and child in the world, drew pictures for the rest and never wrote another word. There’s no excuse for your continuing to inflict yourself on a world desperate for adult interaction. What is the matter with you?”

Brings a tear to the eye, I know!

In 2010 – and not a decade too soon – I want a political talk show host to finally turn to Jonah Goldberg and slowly, deliberately ask this important question:

“Jonah, what in vomitrocious tarnation is your frigging problem?”

But our host can’t stop there. No. Our host is on a roll.

“Jonah, what in vomitrocious tarnation is your frigging problem? Your ancestors roll over in their graves every time you touch a keyboard. Actual fascists wink when you leave the room. You’re overdressed in pajamas and underdressed in a tux. No matter what your mom told you you are not a smart person. You just aren’t. You’re stupid and dangerous, and what is your frigging problem?”

Much like this magical moment –
– when for just an instant the truth was spoken, America heard it and laughed, laughter has the power to free us from the spell of tiresome, murderous trolls. I hope in 2010, many more heroes will slay evil with simple truths, delivered fearlessly. I wish this for you – for us – not just because it would be a pleasure and a delight to watch the venal meet justice on at least an Auntie Mame scale, if not on the Brothers Grimms’, but because we need it now. We stand at the crossroads of history. Let us hope the messenger comes armed with both a punchline and a broadsword.

The Shadow Of the Valley Behind Me

Last week, Topaz seemed to be running a fever, so we trundled off to the vet’s office, where the vet was very patient with 6.5 pounds of seething, hissing and shivering pussycat. I don’t want to get into humiliating specifics, but let’s just say that if the six and a half foot vet is intent on taking the temperature of the tiny angry kitty, LET THEM FIGHT IT OUT. Got that mental picture? Got it? Awesome.

In the evenings now, Topaz has taken to curling up on a velveteen pillow while I type a stirring missive or work on the family store’s website. Sometimes she stands on the keyboard and insists I admire her beauty, and how could I not? Though she will on occasion go so far as to nod off on my lap, Topaz is no lap cat. She is in her heart a panther, lounging in a tree, watching, always watching.

Nothing There But the Dust And the Rust

This is a picture of a sudden ensmartening. Yes, I made up word. Shut up!

Siobhan and I had lunch like lunching ladies, and Siobhan was squawking about dumb stuff it doesn’t take much thinking to see through. Naturally, I squawked a harmony part.

Siobhan: That’s like my favorite cooking instruction Remove from heat. No one follows that!
Tata: Omigod, so a few months ago, I was listening to a woman in my office talk about making yogurt and how the way she does it sounds like a lot less work than I put into it, when suddenly I realized that not only should I shut off the heat and remove the pot from the burner, but if I remove the milk from the pot, the temperature will drop sharply.

Siobhan slapped her forehead.

Tata: I KNOW!

If I had a plastic bowl, I’d feel even smarter.

Fade Away And Radiate

I’ve had a bit of revelation. It’s not a big thing, so no jumping up and down, shouting, “Eureka!” for you and me, but look here: these are my grandmothers Edith and Gladys on Thanksgiving Day, 1965.

Though I accumulated a handful of additional grammas along the way, these are the two I started out with, and these pictures were recovered from a box of Dad’s slides. As far as anyone knew, these pictures didn’t exist, but when my cousins, sisters and brothers saw these pictures for the first time this fall, it was as if we had a window into the past we barely remember. Mom, all of 25 in these pictures, and Auntie InExcelsisDeo, then a wide-eyed teen, are the only people to ask about faces we don’t remember. Thing is: Mom and Auntie I. don’t remember, either. In forty years, the children of my nieces and nephews may not even have heard my name. Though these pictures were taken by Dad with nothing more in mind – probably – than his recording for himself this day in their shared lives, 44 years later, they become a reason to smile at the camera now and say, “Cheese.”

Raindogs Howl For the Century

Sometimes a meal is notable not just for its flavors or presentation, but also for what it is and means. This is our Christmas breakfast. Pete and I have worked like a dog team for a couple of months; we’ve really looked forward to today and planned every morsel. Last summer, we jarred blueberries and, in the fall, apple butter. A few weeks ago, I made and froze whole wheat crepes with fresh nutmeg and basil I’d dried. Every week, I make full fat yogurt. To make this breakfast, I thawed the crepes in the fridge and heated them in a glass pie plate. Then I opened a jar of blueberries into a saucepan, added a handful of Craisins and simmered for about five minutes. A 4 oz. jar of apple butter whirred in the microwave for 20 seconds, then another 20. Into a bowl, I added a pinches of basil, allspice, cinnamon, brown sugar and about a teaspoon of a honey-ginger mixture we found at the Asian market.

For the next two months, we will sometimes eat what we preserved and experiment with the fruits and vegetables we dehydrated. Miss Sasha is ready to begin working with a nice selection of dried items – for SCIENCE! It is a little odd to suddenly know: this is the time we worked and waited for, and now we can relax a bit. And so: breakfast, simple and important. Happy day to you, my darlings, whatever you celebrate.

We Smile Without Any Style

Daria: In the grocery store, guess what I found next to the green Jell-O?
Tata: Graham crackers and Ipecac?
Daria: Margarita Jell-O and Strawberry Daiquiri Jell-O. So I bought it. You know why?
Tata: We have lots of children to confuse with our enthusiasm for gelatin?
Daria: Because we’re not getting busted for pot brownies.

She’s going to have a great time with the in-laws.