Childhood, Food, Art

I remember a lot from childhood, from the “job jar” my sister and I had to blindly take four chores each Saturday and fulfill them, to presenting plays or ballets for our parents in the basement. We ate fast, asked to go downstairs and issued two tickets.

The other day, I saw a food contest that included peas, gracefully rendered into indulgence. My sister and I hated peas. Parents invented a “pea contest” in which we would count the peas on our plate and eat them, thus achieving their goal of us actually eating a vegetable. Dad would joke that the winner who ate the most peas got to do the dishes!

Childhood was made of cereal, bologna sandwiches, and a dinner that included protein, starch, veg and dessert. When she married Dad, Mom didn’t know how to cook. His mother started teaching her Dad’s favorites but she wasn’t alive for long. Oh, how I hated rice pudding for dessert. I’m sure it tasted great but it was a textural thing for me, even as a kid, and today I can’t eat octopus. I’m sure that made well, it tastes great but no.

As to food, adult version, I’ve taken several family recipes and tweaked them for taste, texture and presentation although my presentation is very rustic. I moved from Germanic to French, then to Italy and Greece and other countries for my inspiration. I only use Italian OO flour to make my pizza dough, and have also messed with Beef Carbonnade. I bring meat back to my butchers to try, and am the only person who brings food into a grocery store! They call out my name if I’m alone and eating vegetarian because my husband is on a business trip. He’s a beef and potatoes guy but now embraces Israeli couscous.

As to art, my framer is leaving me very soon, she has a great “eye” and is talented in execution of my requests. She and her family are moving elsewhere and starting a new business. I have her doing one last complicated work for me and have invited her over for lunch and to see all the changes she has made for me and my husband (who doesn’t notice except to know that he’s home after a tough week and needs to sleep).

I’m counting two great mounted quilts from my husband’s family as artwork, as well as a map we marked with the airport code, colored flag for over 500,000 boarding per year and up, and another color for under 500,000 boardings. Tiny flags with a map and much information, I consider it a work of art that we made.

Framed, quilted and maps, let’s see. Four in the front hallway, five in the guest bath, 14 stacked in the galley kitchen. Ten in the living room, two so far in the guest room, as there are still boxes to go through. Three in the hallway, ten in the master bedroom, six in the master bath. That’s 54. I included a decorative hanger that holds many dear hand towels I arranged from my aunts and my husband’s mother, who planned for knee surgery recovery by preparing linen towels to keep her legs up, cleverly embroidered with herbs, as we cook together every time we visit. Pristine and ironed.

I’ve never numbered that before, 54. And I’m going to have at least 5-6 when I get the boxes out of the office! Another was designed to compliment a living room piece, so next week it’ll be 55. Now you know I will meet my maker one day, but I’d like to invite my framer to see her work and what I’ve done to showcase it before she leaves town. No, not all of them were done by her, but she has fixed a few of my old ones. They had sawtooth hangers and it is very windy here. Whenever the wind makes the building move, art shifts and I have to walk around our small space and “jeuje” them by 1/16 of an inch. Get wire. It’s worth the cost.

There are themes here. The living room quilt was designed and created by my mother-in-law and we made it seasonal. She had done all the squares and she spent three years of visits trying to make me find a design. I think she was my first framing teacher! Dad, years ago, gifted me with a beautiful box of rustic, seasonal signed lithos from Puglia that I would like to frame for the office to echo the love and care of his mother the quilter.

From college posters with masking tape on concrete walls, to cheap plastic frames (I still have one for a print I bought in a museum in Germany over 30 years ago), making “uni-frames” into real frames, one achieves a sense of permanence. I really wanted Dad to see the award-winning charcoal sketch of a pas de deux Dad bought for me at auction, of dancers, over 25 years ago, alas it was done two days after his funeral. It centers our living room and is gorgeous.

As an older adult I believe one must preserve memories and look at them often instead of inside a picture book that is in a drawer or cupboard and will never see the light of day. Speaking of light of day, I always get 98% UV protected glass, then still close the blinds. After all, these are family memories, something one has for a lifetime. Cheers! Dee



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