Archive for December, 2014

The Blessed Virgin and Talking Appliances

December 10, 2014

I grew up in a big old Victorian house with a basement, attic, a back stairs left over from the days when people had maids, and lots of closets and hidey holes. Perfect for playing Hide and Seek. Whenever we had a mess of cousins over we would play. Sometimes my Dad would join in, popping out of a closet like Frankenstein, scaring the bejesus out of all us shrieking kids. Those were the days when catching a glimpse of “Frankenstein” was the most frightening thing we kids could imagine. I, myself, used to play dead to scare one of my sisters, and I recently found out my other sister used to jump out of closets and around corners to startle her son when he was little. She was only 3 when Dad died. That says something about the whole nature/nurture thing, huh?

It may not come as a surprise to learn I was somewhat nervous as a child. Being Catholic exacerbated the whole thing. I was a “good” kid, but not too good. I knew what happened to good kids – the Blessed Virgin appeared to them and tasked them with some impossible chore. Catholic school taught us about Lourdes, Guadeloupe, and Fatima. And there were saints and angels who appeared to other people – the whole thing just creeped me out. I didn’t want to see any apparitions. It was something to brood about at night, when the house made those crackling and settling noises, or I had to make a late night trip down the dark hall to the bathroom. I suppose logic would indicate that the Blessed Virgin was unlikely to appear in my bathroom, but I was a kid, what did I know?

I made it through childhood in a calculated balance of naughty/nice – good enough to get by, and not bad enough to warrant Divine Intervention. No apparitions. No visions. No stigmata, no talking in tongues. Whew.

Still, I have always been on edge, trying to avoid any contact with the supernatural or paranormal. I love to read about that stuff, if it is fiction. But I won’t watch the Ghost Whisperer or Ghost Hunters on TV. No sense in flirting with trouble.

Which makes it uncomfortable that Mr. GG likes to listen to talk radio as he falls asleep. He used to listen to the BBC, but it is hard to get sometimes, and I put the kibosh on Rush Limbaugh, no way am I listening to that stuff as I drift off. So Mr. GG started listening to “Coast to Coast A.M.”. This is a show that explores all things paranormal and weird. UFO’s, ghosts, ley lines, psychics, demons, time travel, alien abduction, etc. People call in with their own stories of all the weird, bizarre and frightening REAL LIFE creepy stuff that happened to them. Just what I want to hear as I enter that realm of REMs. NOT.

Mr. GG travels a fair bit, so there are many times when I am home alone, listening to the roof creak, or strange animal noises outside the glass sliding door. Or the thump of cats jumping off some piece of furniture in the dark. The sound of the furnace as it kicks on or off. The wind whistling through the scrub oak in the yard. These are times when I do not need to know that voices of the dead came through on someones’ TV, or radio, or iPod. I do not need to know about the dog-headed shadow people seen standing in the corners of their bedrooms. I do not need to know about their paralysis as aliens scoped them out before transporting them to the Mother Ship.

I am okay with the numerology, clairvoyance, and area 51 stuff. I can deal with that. But I had to make a rule. If they start in on talking appliances, Mr. GG has to turn the radio off. It is the “NO TALKING APPLIANCES RULE”. If he wants to be able to travel with a good conscience, he must abide by this. Sometimes I have to elbow him awake, to tell him to turn off the radio.

Man, I will be so glad when he finds the BBC station again.

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Thanks for the Memories

December 5, 2014

Nobody in my family likes fruitcake. I might generalize and say no one in the USA likes fruitcake, but there’s always a few exceptions. I am aware of all the places that sell gourmet fruitcake, and have read lots of recipes for White Fruitcake, or Southern Fruitcake, and there are always a few deluded souls who say. “even if you don’t like fruitcake, you’ll like this one”. Ummm, that would be no. Once when I was newly married, my husband’s wonderful grandma regifted me a tin of imported Scottish fruitcake. When I finally got it open, there were living creatures in it. If I had been a fruitcake aficionado, it woulda scarred me for life. This is all by way of explaining my strong feelings toward this holiday delicacy (insert imagined emojis of cats making “Eeew faces” here. So I don’t have to figure out how to do it).

Now for the True Confessions portion of this post. I make fruitcake. Because a few years after Mom died, my siblings got nostalgic for it. Mom made it every year, and always set out a plate after holiday dinners. Sometimes the grownups ate it with their post prandial coffee; I figure it was either to kill the taste, or because Mom basted that stuff for weeks in alcohol. God knows what proof that cake was, by the time she cured it.

Anyway, due to a wash of memories, I dug around in Mom’s overflowing recipe box, looking for that old recipe, and was actually dismayed when I couldn’t find it. Two more careful searches through the recipes finally revealed a tiny label removed from a 1 pound glass jar of candied fruit fragments. When was the last time you saw this stuff in a glass jar? Like maybe never? So you know it is a Heritage Recipe. I tell myself that.

fruitcake recipe

So anyway, for the last couple of years, I’ve made this fruitcake and send mini-loaves to the siblings. They say they appreciate it. But everyone admits you just need a bite or two to take you back to those golden memories. I get the blast from the past by mixing it up, and baking it for 3 hours. I imagine Mom doing this exact thing. Then there is the part where you poke holes in the loaf, drizzle liquor (I use strong Bermuda rum we’ve had in the cupboard for about 12 years) over it and wrap it in cheesecloth. Every week or so, I take it out of the fridge and drizzle more rum over it, till you can get a little tipsy just smelling the loaf. I wrap it in saran wrap and tin foil, and ship it off to Illinois by Priority Mail. So far no drug sniffing dogs have barked at the packages, and no ATF employees have confiscated it. By the time it gets to my brother and sisters, it is probably more like macerated fruit – booze soaked preserves. I taste it and it is like eating a jar of maraschino cherries that could get you stopped for DUI. I figure they maybe have a slice and use the rest for a Yule Log. God knows it is so flammable it probably makes lovely blue and green flames in the fireplace.

Anyway, since I have been making these tiny sample loaves, I kind of reconnect to my Mom. Without the lengthy aftermath. Cause I swear, you could find a foil wrapped chunk of fruitcake in our childhood fridge in April. Shudder.
The older I get, the more I appreciate even the little traditions in our family. So thanks for the memories, Mom.

fruitcake