Sunday, May 30, 2010

stars and stripes

Spoke's motto from his time in Vietnam: IMPROVISE

That's what we did today.

I gave Spoke a new flag last Veteran's Day. It was time to respectfully retire our current one and the flagpole needed a fresh coat of paint. So we stored that red, white, and blue beauty away until spring; now we can't find it.

It's okay, it will show up. I don't feel less sincere, honoring all those brave men and women who gave their lives (their lives!) to protect me, with this miniature tribute.

A little flag maybe, but a whole, whole, whole lot of thanks.

Friday, May 28, 2010

now you see me

Now you see me, now you don't.

Watching this little fellow all afternoon, reminded me of a story in the wonderful book Can't Your Child See? by Eileen P. Scott. It was the book I most often recommended to parents during my years teaching the blind.

Scott tells of a young blind child asking his mother if she can see him. She replies yes, she can. He goes out of sight and asks her if she can then see him. She says no. He returns to the room and wants to know again if she can see him. Yes, she says.

This 'now you see me, now you don't' game goes on until the child, for the last time, enters the room and explains to his mother that it's odd because he can see her whether he's here or over there.

Precious, precious, precious.

(click on photo)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

lucky, lucky me

Meet Kevin. His nickname is Spoke. 
Many moons ago, we were at the Dallas Ft. Worth Airport and had just checked in at the long-term parking terminal.  I don't remember where we were going but it was our first domestic flight requiring photo identification.
You know that moment when you realize something dreadful has happened?  Suddenly everything seems to stand still and you can't breathe.  In that split second, I knew I did not have my passport or my driver's license with me.  Spoke knew by the look on my panicked face.
It's just a domestic flight!
But the rules had recently changed and I was now required to show some bad-hair-day photo before being allowed to board the plane.  Home was an hour away, even with a strong tailwind. 
So, what does Spoke do?  Lays one right on my cherry-red lips and says, "I'll get back as fast as I can," and he rushes out the door. 

According to all the employees in the terminal, they'd seen many a wife forget her ID but they'd never seen a husband react the way he did.
Luckily, the flight was delayed and Spoke made it back with a few seconds to spare.  You know though.......even if we had missed it and there were no other flights that day.......I'm sure I'd have still gotten that kiss.

Rum Raisin Cookies
Something not so sweet for a super sweet guy. Happy Anniversary, Babe.

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons rum
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups dark raisins

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl, toss the raisins with a couple of large spoonfuls of the flour mixture and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and continue to mix until they are thoroughly incorporated into the butter. Add the rum and briefly stir.

Add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and on the lowest setting, stir just until the flour is combined with the butter. Pour in the raisins and give the dough a quick stir. Chill the dough (in the mixing bowl) for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350*F.
Drop large spoonfuls of dough onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake 9 to 10 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

seeing red

Madama Butterfly at Dallas' new Winspear Opera House.......

My idea for how to spend a Sunday afternoon, especially when it begins with a little pre-performance tailgating in Lexus Red Parking.

Okay, maybe not tailgating in the official sense of the word but a front row seat in my Passat with some chilled white wine, tuna, olives, almonds, cheese and crackers, suits me just fine. It's especially fun to see the musicians arrive; it makes me feel like a first grader, seeing her teacher shopping in the grocery store.

If you're unfamiliar with the story, Butterfly, a young Japanese girl, 'marries' an American naval officer. You'll be teased by notes of The Star Spangled Banner throughout the opera. My dad, a veteran, unobtrusively salutes each time. I cross my heart.

This past Sunday was the last performance of the season so it had a thrilling but emotional edge. The ending in Madama Butterfly is dramatic and I was prepared. Well, I thought I was....but when that full, red curtain was dropped in the last seconds, it was as if I were seeing it for the first time. With a lump in my throat and dabbing my eyes, I joined in, shouting 'bravo' and 'brava' with the loudest of the shouters.

A teenager, walking with her mother to their car which was parked beside ours, was not prepared. Her face was tear-stained and she looked as if she was barely keeping herself together. Once in the car, I saw her mother pass her some tissues and then she broke down. I could almost hear her anguished, "Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you warn me?"

That girl is going to be a lifelong opera fan. I just know it.

Our post-opera dish. I like to eat a bowl as I read the Playbill. I discovered this seasoning in Patrica Wells' The Paris Cookbook. It's made with equal parts black peppercorns, white peppercorns and whole allspice which are mixed and kept in a pepper mill. Loving pepper as I do, I decided to try it with creamy pasta and it is delicious. Use liberally.
Fettuccine with Pepper and Spice
1 cup heavy cream
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1/2 teaspoon (or more) freshly ground pepper & spice blend
8 ounces dried fettuccine
In a pan large enough to later toss the pasta, cook the cream with the garlic and the pepper & spice blend over low heat until it is bubbly and reduced by a third to a half. Remove the garlic clove and keep warm.

Cook the fettuccine according to the package directions but one minute before it is al dente, remove with tongs and transfer to the cream sauce. Sprinkle with salt. Bring the heat up to medium low and gently toss until the sauce has once again thickened and the noodles are coated. Top with additional, freshly ground pepper & spice blend.

serves two as a main course

Sunday, May 23, 2010

nice to meet you

I remember listening to Adam Gopnik tell Charlie Rose what he would miss if or when he and his family left Paris. "I will miss the beauty and poetry of daily life," he said. Gopnik went on to describe joyous outings; how he feels as he pushes his son in a stroller through the gates of the 17th century Jardin du Luxembourg where his son likes to play and where they watch the marionette show before stopping at a bakery on the way home. 

I have a gate! That was my thought. And my gate squeaks as if it's centuries old. I love the feeling I get when I open it and enter the back yard. It is shady and peaceful and I am home. It is where, like Adam Gopnik, I embrace one beauty of everyday life. 

But since I don't live in Paris or in Florence where I left my heart, it's a little harder. I don't wake up opening four sets of shutters to hear church bells ringing. I'm not able to stroll down the street, happily ducking into a Bar to order a perfect cappuccino which I'd drink standing up. And I can't find truffles in my neighborhood market in the fall, even if I could afford them. 

I can however, look around my house and see and feel Florence. I do have a perfect cappuccino every single morning, thanks to my fabulous, six year old Nespresso machine. Weather permitting, I have it sitting on the patio, in the yard with the squeaky gate. 

Every day gives us something to behold. It might be funny, boring, delicious, exciting, or heartbreaking, but whatever, it is to be celebrated. 

So, FROM 3906 is simply about seeing and celebrating the joy and beauty of every day. My name is Becca. My husband is Kevin. He doesn't know I wish he wouldn't oil the gate as he does a couple of times a year.