Thursday, December 10, 2015
One of my aunts, Jerry, used to give cookie trays for Christmas.
These were not a few cut-outs stars on a plate. These were generous high-towering affairs, involving more than a dozen varieties and bars including one with a pillow-top of marshmallow, pizzelles, a loaf of Swedish rye bread that was perfect for toast with sweet butter, and -- unbeknownst to me then -- labor, fortitude, patience. You have to have a head for these things.
For I have since started making cookies for Christmas. And I am learning.
Fucking liars, I screamed, when the tender butter-dough for my orange-cardamom hearts stuck to the parchment paper that advertised itself as something nothing on the face of the Earth could stick to. To the dogs with you, Lynne Rosetto Kaspar!
Oh wait. Come back. I'm sorry. I love you.
My royal icing hardened too hard.
My rum-buttercream-filled thumbprint cookies that I was making for my sister who loves thumbprint cookies did not turn out dainty. The indentations looked like they'd been made by my elbows.
Jerry's reindeer cookies had cinnamon Red-Hots for noses. Her Millionaire's Shortbread stayed stacked, and -- while we're on the subject of being envious of the products of other people's kitchens -- my grandmother's pfeffernuse never fell.
Hard-headed is what I am, which is odd for a Gemini. We're the sun sign that's supposed to give up. I blame my Scorpio rising.
I'm a believer in failure and in work, crusty Irish-playwright-style. "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better" is what Samuel Becket never said about making cookies, but I am.
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
I remember the Kyoto climate conference of 1992. I was studying marine biology and what was important to me was Everything (About The Ocean). Whenever I referred to The Ocean, I thought of it as capitalized.
I envisioned myself becoming a Jacqueline Cousteau; I even took to wearing a little raspberry beret. I tried to smoke Gauloise cigarettes citing the fact that had I been born a year earlier I would have been conceived in France.
My favorite professor was Paulette Peckol. I learned how to create experiments that monitored the eating habits of the common periwinkle snail, Littorina. I mined data. It was all so fantastic.
Everything was amazing. I couldn't get enough of the gas bladders of fucus. Of phylogenetic systematics. How cool and expressive in a myriad of ways was Life? I could spend hours watching.
Now it's the Paris Climate Conference and we're all so totally done with the awesomeness of life and the t-shirts that say Reduce Recycle Reuse that have ended up in Third World country dumps. The joy and curiosity has been replaced with terror. I'm scared. It's legit. The shells of Littorina don't develop correctly anymore.
When we were in Boston over the summer by the harbor there was a sign that said, basically, "In twenty years where you are might not be here." Crap, was my first thought. My second thought was, More habitat for whales?