The Old Bowl

bowl

When I first moved to Berkeley — in the early 1980s — my roommates at the time were old (in their late twenties) and sophisticated (they knew their way around an artichoke). They shopped at this place they referred to as “the Bowl.”  I imagined it was named after a  big bowl of fruit, because that is what they usually brought home after they went shopping.  They also brought home this wonderful cheese I’d never heard of before.  It was called Havarti.

Berkeley was a paradise in those days.  Now you can buy havarti at Costco, so paradise is more widely available in America, which can only be a good thing.  I mean, even in this wretched economy, you can still afford the occasional good thing to eat and you have a much better chance of being able to find it than you did in the early 1980s. Cheese has a way of making the worst things seem a little bit better.  At least that is what we believe here in Berkeley, which is why I live here.

Anyway, it turned out that the Berkeley Bowl was actually an old bowling alley that had been turned into a fruit and vegetable market which also sold cheese (at a long, exciting cheese counter) meat, seafood and, sort of as an aside, things like recycled paper towels and earthy moisturizers made by people who lived in Ukiah.  To successfully shop there you really did have to have some skills, just not with a bowling ball.  Basically, you had to be aggressive with your shopping cart, and willing to snatch fruit out of the hands of elderly ladies who wanted it too.  But you’d go cart-to-cart with these ladies because you wanted those raspberries MORE, having grown  up in a place where fruit (and tomatoes!) just did not taste so real, and fresh and amazing, thus making your desire for them really strong.  At the time, I didn’t have a car, so I had no idea the real challenge of shopping at the Berkeley Bowl was finding a place to put it.

And now there is a SECOND bowl in Berkeley.  It opened today (it is called “Berkeley Bowl West”) and it amazes me that this could be so — mostly because this means there will FINALLY be a place to park at the Berkeley Bowl in my neighborhood because all the shoppers who wanted my parking spot will be at Berkeley Bowl West.  And I will not have to get into unseemly altercations near the apricots to score the perfect ones that have my name on them. Still, in honor of the time that has passed since I first discovered havarti and artichokes, the Bowl in my neighborhood is now called the Old Bowl.  (At least that is what I’m calling it.) I am now the old lady you have to face down to get to the apricots first.  (I will add that I am not really that old, and I imagine the ladies I thought were so old probably weren’t either.  It’s funny how perception depends a lot on where you stand.)

Summer’s almost here.  Three years ago, when I was just beginning to write this blog, I was up to my arms in raspberries, making jam. A day or two after I wrote about that, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I haven’t boiled fruit and sugar together since then.  This is to say that my hiatus from jam is over.  Raspberries at the Old Bowl were .99 a basket when I was there tonight — I swear to God.  And the apricots, which are slightly more expensive, are so beautiful this year.

This weekend, it’s jam time.

Dear Anonymous Co-Worker,

I’d like to thank you for installing new batteries in the milk frother thing, apparently over the weekend, because I used that frother last Friday and it was its usual slothful self, which is to say the milk had no fear of it, not in the least. This morning, though, I stuck the frother into my milk and everyone in the kitchen jumped back, like they were afraid I might point the frother at them and suck them into its mighty wake. Now that’s how it’s REALLY supposed to be done. It was nice of you to sneak into the building over the weekend and juice up the Monday work experience. You rock, Lily

And that is all I have to say today. I’m busy crafting author interview questions. And making a list of authors to hit up. And considering whether the frother might be used as a hedge trimmer in a pinch. In fact, here are my preliminary author interview questions:

what car would you be, if you could be a car

"auto in disguise" does not mean: what car would you be, if you could be a car (in case you are wondering)

Summer Pleasures: Design Blogs and Iced Coffee

(This photo comes from Infusion Cofee & Tea — a great Philadelphia cafe.)

It’s very hot here in San Francisco today. I mean, relatively hot, if you really think about it, because it is obviously much hotter most places right now than it will ever get here. We are weather wimps in the Bay Area. Still, it is almost 100 degrees out there, or it will be soon and we are not in any way, shape, or form prepared for that. I have a big work project and am feeling such malaise — it’s the price of gas, I’m pretty sure that makes me feel very Ford and Carter-era today.

Back then, though, there were no design blogs, just a wild combination of orange and avocado and Nixon’s resignation to keep you from sinking into despair as the lines at the gas pump got longer and longer. (I know, I know — those things did not happen at exactly the same time. But I was a kid, and they all seemed to blur into each other.) Anyway, the answer to a little mid-summer malaise is, obviously, a summer pleasure, which I think of as something that doesn’t ask a lot of you, but does inject some life into your too-hot-to-move-very-fast day. Today’s summer pleasure is the design blog. These are blogs without a lot of words. There’s something beautifully orderly about these blogs — they don’t take on big things, but every once in a while, a photograph of a bunch of handkerchiefs somebody found on ebay makes everything in my life work just fine.

Here they are, in case you’re looking for that kind of thing. But really, come to think of it, all you really need is a couple of links — the first being one of my favorites. I like this blog because every once in a while this woman does something I love (in this case, it’s the recipe for iced coffee). Go over to the orange blog, and then just poke around in her blog roll. I mean, if you’re into pictures of fabric, and iced coffee and ebay coffee pots.

And an update on the author, author interviews: I’m putting together my first of these, which I think is best done in the form of a questionnaire, because then the writer gets a chance to think things over. Actually, how else would you do this? I guess I could try podcasting it, but man, that is so out of my league, tech-wise.

Now, go check out: How about Orange and then, while you’re at it, a little Design * Sponge

And here’s another, thanks to litlove:  tasting rhubarb.  Lovely images, fine writing.

And oh, oh, oh, how could I have not put this up too:  It’s Jana (of Jana’s Sketchbook) new blog:  A Postcard a Day

Tomorrow (or, you know, a few days) there will be more summer pleasures.

Heart the Capitalist Machine

You never know, when you move to a city, what it is about it you’ll fall in love with. I moved to Berkeley in 1982 because I wanted to go to graduate school at the university. I didn’t know it would smell so good because of a combination of star jasmine and eucalyptus, or that the fall would be hot and beautiful and seem to last forever and that summer would be a so-so season of fog so heavy you think it’s raining. Nor did I have even the slightest inkling that this is a place where people have strong opinions about food.

The other thing I didn’t know is that the kids who work in places like the Star Grocery, which is a few blocks from my house, would have strong opinions about pie crust, and pie crust makers. One thing I should have guessed is that Nick, the guy who owns the Star, would be totally fine about little expressions of disgust with the world as it is, which is to say the world outside Berkeley.

I Love the Farmer’s Market

The Civic Center Farmer’s Market (Wednesdays and Sundays) is one of my favorite things about working where I do. There’s no avoiding it (although who would want to?) because it’s right outside the entrance to the BART station. Just as there’s no avoiding the fact that it really, truly, finally is spring. Peaches are here! And how about that use of the word “rich”? 

It has indeed been a rich May around here.  When you look up from the peaches you can see the State Building, which is where I work, adjacent to San Francisco’s golden domed City Hall and the Asian Art Museum, which represents THE finest example of how to turn a grand library into a really beautiful museum.  One floor above the court where I work is the California Supreme Court, and haven’t THEY made this a richly happy month? 

If you happen to be visiting San Francisco on a Wednesday in the spring, all you have to do to check out these many riches is hop on BART and get off  at the Civic Center stop.  Buy some fruit, and maybe a tamale.  Go into the Asian Art Museum, which is ahead of you and on the right.  If you can’t afford to pay the entrance fee, you can ask for the red chopsticks pass, which gets you into the cafe, where you can have a cup of tea and sit on the lovely veranda overlooking the farmer’s market.  And you can still see the beautiful job they’ve done converting the library into a marvelous museum space. 

Don’t forget to visit City Hall – and the Main Library, which is across from the Asian Art Museum.  There’s cheap food to be had down Polk Street, which is officially “Little Vietnam.”  And in another three weeks or so, the Supreme Court’s marriage decision will be final, and they will begin to marry people at City Hall.  You can sit in the grass and congratulate people, while you’re eating your tamales, or your fruit, or your vietnamese food. 

Some people find this extraordinarily rich neighborhood a little scary.  The tenderloin is home to a lot of people who are right on the edge of being okay — and many people who’ve fallen off the edge.  And no, they’re not always pleasant.  But they’re part of who we are, and there’s no denying their existence around here, and that is as it should be, I think. 

Happy Mama Day!

Aw. William made me breakfast in bed this morning. He burned himself on the sausage, thus demonstrating his utter devotion to his mother, and his willingness to risk his life for her. (He would like to say that, in fact, there’s no way he’d risk his life for me. That’s my job. That’s why I get breakfast in bed. Because I would, in fact, risk my life for him. In a pinch, I’d ask his dad to do it. That’s why, on father’s day, he gets double breakfast in bed.)

Signing off for now, using William’s favorite phrase, “Burp you later, dude!”

Well Bead Me a Tiara!

Here’s a piece of surprising news — I am one of the six finalists for the Fabri Prize.  My guess was that was about as likely as my sons sitting down quietly in the living room one evening and beading me a necklace,  bracelet and matching tiara for Christmas.

They’d better get started, don’t you think?

Little House on the Prairie Report:  Oops.  I bought some perfume to celebrate.  In fact, I bought an incredibly beautiful Guerlain fragrance called L’Heure Bleue.  The blue hour.  That gorgeous, slightly melancholy time between day and night, when many things are still possible, even if many things have already occurred.  Which is how I think of these years, the middle of my life. 

Otherwise, it’s all food, all the time, including last night’s dinner which consisted of the loveliest lamb chops I’ve ever eaten.  Along with cous-cous that came in a box, rather than the bulk bin, and had a very tasty little flavor packet with some parmesan in it.  Everyone really, really liked that.

Now, we just have to get rid of the Halloween candy and move on. 

Laying in Provisions for the Long Winter

Around here, our favorite of all the Little House books is Farmer Boy simply because of the astonishing amount of food Laura’s husband to be, Almanzo, consumed every day.  We read it out loud at night a couple of years ago and I found myself down in the kitchen every night after everyone was asleep, rooting around for provisions.  Our cellar, alas, did not look like Almanzo’s, so I had to make do, most nights with left- over pudding cups and the occasional stash of pretzels at the back of the cupboard. 

Here are the sorts of food descriptions that led directly to the consumption of pudding cups and pretzels: 

“Almanzo ate the sweet, mellow baked beans. He ate the bit of salt pork that melted like cream in his mouth. He ate mealy-boiled potatoes, with brown ham-gravy. He ate the ham. He bit deep into velvety bread spread with sleek butter, and he ate the crisp, golden crust.”

and this:

“Mother was frying doughnuts. The place was full of their hot, brown smell, and the wheaty smell of new bread, the spicy smell of cakes, and the syrupy smell of pies.”

(With thanks to the Bookbag for those quotes.)

And that’s why the one thing we’ve decided to spend money on during Little House on the Prairie Month is food.  The idea here is not to bring any more material goods into our house, thereby enriching our sense of plenty by sharpening our appreciation for material things.  We can do that, as long as we can get somebody to make some of those spicy cakes and syrupy pies, and as long as we have some other pleasures stored up for the long winter that will be November.

Today’s Little House on the Prairie Month Report:

We went into San Francisco today, having long ago bought tickets to see Jack perform in a matinee of The Magic Flute at the San Francisco Opera.  That was one thing we’d stored up for November.  He was a sort of helper/spirit, with an awfully high voice.  Good for him.  I left everyone milling around the Opera trying to decide what to do next and came over to my office to work (blogging about it kind of counts as work), which is not only free, but actually brings money in.  As far as I know they were going to go to Crissy Field, with skateboards and kite in tow.  It’s a beautiful day here in San Francisco.  Beautiful days are completely free.  In a few hours, after they’ve tired themselves out, our plan is to …. EAT!  I’m having the biscuits and gravy, please.  And a big piece of apple pie. 

Daily Bread

It’s extraordinary, really, how much beauty there is in the course of an ordinary week. Here are some things I found on my camera from this week, one I don’t think I’d remember as being so lovely, but for the evidence of so many tiny moments of happiness.

Naturally, I made lunches out of that bread.

And we celebrated. My husband’s 47th birthday, for which chocolate was the only acceptable gift. From Bittersweet, a nice shop dedicated to exotic, interesting, very chocolate-y chocolate. Yes, dear reader, I led him into temptation.

We also celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. (That’s us, in the tiny wedding picture. On the bales of hay? My mother and her sister, in 1934. Behind her, my husband’s mother when she was a little girl.) The flowers came from the farmer’s market we went to on Sunday. They’re a wonderful autumn color, I thought.

We went on a hike one evening after work  and looked out across the bay toward San Francisco. It became dark very quickly. You can tell fall’s approaching.  There are other signs of fall in the leaves on a few of the trees in our neighborhood, but mostly, fall makes itself known by the changes in the air and the light.

On Wednesdays, in the plaza I cross to get to my office, there’s a farmer’s market. There are still berries to be had, even though it’s October.


Thursday, I got my hair cut in Union Square, sort of ground zero for the cable car line. I never notice them, except today when I heard this one coming down the hill behind me, its bell being rung by an enthusiastic conductor.

I also went to a wonderful exhibit of quilts by the women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama. And that’s what I’m going to write about this weekend, if I have time. Quilts and race. But this morning, I just want to record that our daily bread, what we never notice about where we live and how we go about our lives, is something for which I’m very grateful.

The Renegade Lunch Lady and Other Matters

It probably wouldn’t surprise you to learn that, among my obsessions, the art of packing a decent lunch is quite high. This is entirely consistent with being a person who owns over 75 colored pencils, and a lot of cool paperclips. The packed lunch obsession began, innocently enough, when I discovered how calming it felt to use cookie cutters to cut the cheddar cheese I was putting into my kindergarteners’ lunches into the shape of…. well, bats. They were leaving home for school for the first time and I was nervous. Somehow, making a nice lunch helped me feel better. The bats were because Halloween was approaching. They were sort of cute.

I’m not allowed to cut their food into cute shapes anymore. (In fact, I never really was. I learned recently that they put up with it, because they felt sorry for me. Their father had to tell me it wasn’t okay to do that.) Now, they all make their own lunches, with some help, so what goes in there is a joint decision. But there is no question that what goes into lunch matters. It matters that we eat well and with pleasure. And so, every culture has an iconic packed lunch container. In Japan, it’s the bento box. In India and in Thailand, it’s the tiffin tin. In the United States, it’s those steel tins that construction workers use and the ubiquitous brown paper bag. English people carry fancy wicker picnic baskets. I’m sure there are others, but I’ve been too busy packing lunches to devote myself utterly to a survey of World Lunches.

But I have devoted an entire blog to the subject of the packed lunch. It’s fun. It helps remind my children that what and how we eat matters. And yes, it’s a little weird. But I’m going with it, because sometimes that’s what you do with things you just really like. And it turns out that, in Berkeley where I live, I am not the only person thinking maybe ‘way too much about school lunches. If you have a chance, you might want to check it out, dip your toe into the utopian scheme that’s happening in my youngest child’s school to stamp out childhood diabetes through the introduction of organic, non-processed, locally prepared and grown, delicious food. Sounds good, huh? Or, possibly, too good to be true. I’ve written about Berkeley’s Renegade Lunch Lady here. The New Yorker has also written about her, in the September 5 education issue. But they’re not right there, in the cafeteria, like I am. Ha.

Tomorrow (Tuesday 9/5), I’m having surgery. I’ll be away until Thursday. I’ve got more scary story reading to do. A novel to finish. Plus, I’ve been reading Francine Prose’s book of essays on reading for writers. Ella, of the wonderful box of books, is leaving me a box of her books, as she leaves the country, so there’s a lot there to read. I need to finish the Sun Also Rises for my book group. I imagine I’ll have a lot to do while I’m recuperating. I’m thinking somebody might even set a nice tray of lunch for me, if I’m lucky, with my toast cut into the shape of something appealing.

See you Thursday. Don’t forget to eat a healthy, delicious lunch!

Love, BL

Lima Stew and Blender Tuna Mousse: Unrescued Recipes

Those are just a few of the unlikely recipes I found today in an old recipe box from Indiana. Other favorites include Lima Beans Au Gratin, Green Soup Plus, and a recipe attributed to “TV Hour Mag” called Carrot Chowder. Carrot Chowder features the unappetizing combination of one pound ground meat (type of meat unspecified), a lot of water, four cups of grated carrots and four cups of tomato juice. You couldn’t have created something more disturbing had you closed your eyes and dumped the first four things you touched in your refrigerator (make that your fridge after you’d just returned from a six week vacation) into a large soup pot filled with water.

I’ve been meaning to rescue some recipes this week from the many wonderful recipe boxes I’ve been ordering from EBay. But these, it seems to me, should never have been exhumed. Nevertheless, the life of a woman who must have been a spectacularly bad cook interests me very much.

I imagine she was cooking in the 1940s through the 1960s, and that she was not a woman who had decided to liberate herself from the kitchen. At least not overtly. Hers, I think, was more of an underground movement. I have a picture of her: she played a lot of bridge (one of the recipes is scrawled on the back of a contract bridge score card). She’d sit at her kitchen table in the afternoon, blinds drawn, husband at work, children at school, a cigarette in the corner of her mouth, a small glass of some clear, lethal liquid at her elbow. She’d flip through the pages of TV Hour Mag, looking for the profile of her favorite soap opera star. And then she’d pause at the recipe for Carrot Chowder and think to herself, what the hell, why not try something new? Her next thought, barely expressed under the fog of bridge, lethal liquid and soap operas? It’ll serve them right for expecting me to cook all the time

The evidence is that hers was a pretty successful underground movement. Take “Green Soup Plus,” a recipe cut out of a newspaper and billed as “an elegant way to treat soup from the pantry shelf.” Its ingredients, beyond one can of condensed green pea soup, something I didn’t even know existed, are sour cream, curry powder and this shocker: flaked cooked crab. Crab on green pea soup? What an unkind thing to do with a lovely bit of crab. My guess is that it wasn’t a lovely bit of crab, but an old leftover bit of crab cocktail brought home from a restaurant she’d wheedled her surly husband into taking her to. On top of the crab, you are directed to throw some flaked coconut. I suppose you could squint at the dish, and imagine being in the Tonga Room, drinking some kind of drink with an umbrella in it, while you poison your family with a brew of green peas and slightly “off” crab.

I’m only going to talk about one more piece of culinary Semtex this woman created for her family: Lima Beans Au Gratin. She might have thought that calling it Au Gratin would tease them into eating it. And maybe they did. But that must have been the last time they ever asked her to cook for them. Why? In addition to one pound of dried LARGE Lima beans (“cooked,” the recipe says, but without any suggestion of how long or how) there are directions for making a soupy milky mix of butter flour milk and evaporated milk. The whole thing is then topped with a lot of diced pimento and paprika. Clearly, the idea was to hide the badly cooked Limas under something that must have looked like milk stew. The scary bits of pimento? Who knows. Maybe her family liked pimento and seeing it on top of something lured them into plunging their spoons into the milky morass and actually eating those LARGE Limas.

I hope she made it out of Indiana alive and unprosecuted. I’m guessing her life in Indiana did not turn out the way she’d imagined when she agreed to marry Mr. Blender Tuna Mousse. (I haven’t talked about blender tuna mousse for a reason. Were I to describe it, you would dream of it and that wouldn’t be nice.) I’m hoping she ended up in Miami, the place I know she truly wanted to live. In Florida, her hair would always be the color of the sun, her glass always full, the umbrella perched in her drink always open, her television tuned to a lovely soap opera, her feet pedicured and on top of a flowered ottoman, a nice man scheduled to show up every evening at 7:00 with a bouquet of roses and a promise to always, always, always, take her out to dinner. If he knew what was good for him, that is.

Short:Sweet (and a little Shakespeare, at the very end)

Today, I’ve been thinking about brevity. Brevity in writing and in speaking. It’s a continuation of yesterday’s thought, the one about how it is more effective to show than to tell. It’s also true that it is sometimes more effective to say something once, and with wit and brevity, than to repeat yourself or twitter on about something you’ve already said. If you want people (here I am referring to readers and to children) to follow you up the steep hill, you have to make it look like an easy hike.

Metaphor Switch, for those who do best when food is invoked: We cannot eat Thanksgiving dinner every night of the year. Nor can we survive on evening meals that consist of nectarines, yogurt and raspberries. We need both sorts of nourishment.

This is today’s:

The container I keep my yogurt in has a little bit of Shakespeare on it (I’ll leave you to guess, along with Edwin, whether the reference to oranges and fruits is Shakespearean or not). But in tiny writing underneath the oranges and fruits, you’ll find this, which is more assuredly Shakespeare:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.

And if you’re curious, here’s the rest of this sonnet:

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Enjoy your day, or your evening, depending on where in the world you are.

Yours,

BL

Lunch at the Brazil Cafe

Lunch on a hot day at the Brazil Cafe: a mango smoothie a little bit of chicken and rice, but not much. Mostly, we just wanted the mango smoothie. My youngest son, who is six, said several times how much he liked it here. Maybe it was the Brazilian music, the picture of a footballer in a uniform he recognized because his brother gave him an old jersey from this team (ac milan, he says, like I would know what that is. I don’t.)

The Brazil Cafe is basically a hut in a parking lot, but it’s so transformed by layers of funky and colorful paint, and fabric, and signs, that you don’t actually know what’s under it all. Something magical, is my guess.

Across the street is the Berkeley Ace Hardware — the entire second floor of which is full of models (tanks, race cars, air planes — if it ever moved, or dreamed of moving, it is here). We spent a lot of time in there, and then went to the comic book store, Comic Relief, and then we came back and looked around the second floor a little while longer and then we thought, you know, we should have lunch and how about that amazing looking place right across the street.

And so we did. And it was great. For a moment, looking at my son sitting back in his chair taking in the scene I realized I was in the middle of someone’s childhood. It was a good one to be in.

A Dispatch From the Land of Tea Cakes

The tea cake is the madeleine of the American south. Like the madeleine it is a very basic, sugar, flour, butter, eggs concoction. It is the sort of thing our elders served when people came over in the afternoon. It’s simple and a bit dense, the sort of thing you’d dip into a cup of tea. Unlike the madeleine, the tea cake is a shape shifter. But more on that later.
sugar, flour, butter, eggs, salt, vanilla, baking soda

These are the ingredients. The eggs are sitting in warm water because I forgot to bring them to room temperature:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 eggs

–cream these ingredients and then add:

  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon soda

The dough will look like this:

An important thing to remember is that there is a lot of flour in this dough. It isn’t sticky. I think that’s why it’s so easy to roll out.

This is only half the dough the recipe made. I rolled the dough into two logs and put them in the fridge while I considered my next move. I decided I’d make little cakes, and put dough inside a mini- muffin tin. I sprinkled the dough with sugar.

Here’s the mini-muffin tin. And now, a confession. Although I liked these, they were not a hit with everyone in my house. My husband thought they were too dry. One son liked them a lot. Another son said they were just way too rich. He had a quarter of a cake and that was it for him. I left them in the kitchen at work, and they did disappear.  This might not be the best measure of yumminess.  Stale cheerios will disappear from that kitchen, if you are patient enough.

I began to think about the denseness problem, and had an inspiration. If I rolled the dough out very, very thin, maybe the cookies wouldn’t be so overwhelming. And then I remembered those farm animal cookie cutters, the ones I’ve never used because, well, I’ve always been too busy to use things like that. Or thought I was. But this summer — and the rest of my life — is going to be different. I’m using our stuff. But I digress.

Here they are — cute huh? Animals.  I cooked these in a 325 degree oven for eight minutes, then took them out, turned the cookie sheet around and cooked them for another eight minutes. They’re done when they’re brown and smell really good.

Apples are nice too.

This is what I mean by the shape shifting properties of this dough. Roll it thin and cut it out with any cutter you like and it will be whatever you wish. How many things in life are like that?

Here are my family’s reactions:

  1. Husband: The thinner the better. (Not you, of course, just the dough. Your shape is perfect.)
  2. My youngest son: They’re good. I like the fat ones better, because you get more.
  3. One of my older sons: Good job mom. I’d like these in my lunch. They’re like chessmen cookies.
  4. Other son. Too busy talking on the phone with a friend to say much. Thumbs up.

Have a cookie, darlin':

Red, White, and Blue, Baby

Today’s my brother Tom’s birthday. He’s taken it well, having to share his birthday with that of our beloved country. This year, he’s having a birthday celebration in El Paso with our parents, his girlfriend from Columbia, Lena, our friend Aurelia and my three boys. Whew. There will be fireworks, as there often are on his birthday.

My brother lives alone most of the time. He’s a bachelor, a category of male life my sons find fascinating and wonderful. Every room in his house is magical. For example, the laundry room in his house has the usual stuff — but it also has an enormous bucket of bubble gum. He has an entire refrigerator in his garage devoted to soft drinks. He has THREE televisions. He plays the guitar well. He is terribly kind and very generous.

Today, thinking about my brother, I made the Cake with a Thousand Faces

I employed raspberries and blueberries and will not explain why that is. I’m sure you can guess. This is how it looked before it went in the oven.

This is how it looked when it came out of the oven:

I’m sure it is very clear how much I love my brother. Happy Birthday to him, the Red, White and Bluebaby.