Strong Women and Whiskey

not for the delicate palate

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Location: Oxford, Pennsylvania, United States

I've found that if you speak as if with authority on nearly any topic, most people will believe you. This frightens me.

Friday, December 22, 2006


It's almost Christmas, and a week ago, I was ahead of schedule! If anyone wants to help me make 4 huge trays of lasagne feel free to stop by. I'll let you munch on mozzerella when I'm not looking. I also have to do some cleaning. Just some... just the whole house. *sigh*

Welcome to the first day on the flip side of winter solstice. Can you feel it?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Collecting the Dead

I stopped by the cemetary where three of my aunts, my grandfather, and Nanny are buried. We buried Nanny at the end of September.

I used to wonder on the sense of burial -- all that wasted space best used by the living, right? Well, I think we do use it. They're a captive audience in our minds, anyway. We can go and tell them whatever we want without hurting their feelings, risking ours, nurses bustling in, the odor of antiseptic. Just me and Nanny and the sound of rain and traffic. I'm a shelver, I shelve things and I have to come back later. I didn't trully grieve for Aunt Mabel and Aunt Ethel (one month apart) until Nanny's funeral. That day, as the cars were filing away to go back to the church, walked down the hill to visit them. That's when I wept -- for them, for missing them, for the end of an era in our family. I cried for Aunt Betty, who, died a quick and nasty death of brain cancer just as her beautiful house was nearly done being built, and not long after her burial, her husband (though I love him) had a new "lady friend". They have a joint tombstone, does it matter? Nanny is buried next to Pop Pop. He died in 85. Since then she had a companion, Bill, who was the only grandfather I ever knew. He loved her and us dearly. I'm sure he's buried next to his wife -- where it'll be easier for his kin to visit.

And it struck me on how much easier it is to "stop by" and talk to the dead. God knows how little of it I did when they were alive -- all of them, for different reasons. I've made my peace with those reasons but not with the things unsaid. The hinge of my jaw may be worn loose from overuse, but it seems I expect folks to know what's going on in my head with little effort on my part. The visit to the graveyard drove home family I've not connected with, two friendships I've jeopardized, one I've ruined and some I've tarnished recently.

I was a bit upset, that Nanny's stone was bare - her birthday was a few days ago. I though that perhaps I'd go to the convenience store across the street and get her a blue bag of Herr's potato chips, or some Big Red gum -- just a flower, even. As if there is some graveyard hierarchy in who's "best dressed". Just down the hill is a tombstone of a little boy who lived until he was four. The base of the stone is covered in little toy trucks that had been painstakingly lined up along the edges, a plastic alligator on top of the stone. He's been dead three times longer than he was alive -- some of those cars are nearly new.

Sometimes I wonder who's collecting who.

All fancied up after Nanny's funeral. DJ (left), and David (right) in the back. Devin (left), me (center), and Daryl (right) in the front.

And on a lighter note, the official goofball shot. We do bar mitzvah's too.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Cookies, cookies, everywhere....

Ahhh, blogging. I remember this. Rather than try to catch up on months of stuff in one swoop, I'll start with Saturday. Raven and I decided to really put the newish kitchen through it's paces and have a cookie party. Okay, I thought it was a good idea and she kept me from fizzling out on it. (I simply don't do winter well, cold weather makes me stupid.)

There was a great turnout and a great many cookies made.... and eaten. I think we got a start on our holiday baking and got to enjoy some quality "hen-time". Not that I tend to be gender-biased but there's something great about sharing a kitchen with a pile of women. Poor Doug was kept nearly captive in the upstairs of the house playing computer games, except when he was called down to go fetch something, eat lunch, or be fed cookies. Okay, so I suppose that's a rather decadent existance, huh?

Now, for the pics.

Raven (foreground) and Sudie making spritz cookies -- which were buttery and delicious, even if some of the dogs resembled horses. Next, year I think the plan is to make more since we only just got the hang of it towards the end of the batch. By the way, I always thought spritz cookies were made with a special cookie gun, not a salad shooter gone gastro-pornographically haywire. I love the transition from healthy veggies to ultra-butter and sugar.

According to the sacred recipe Neddie brought forth from her Mom's recipe file, this cookie dough must be mixed by hand ONLY. Eve (left) seems to think this is a pretty good idea.

We all took so many turns washing dishes, this was one of Mary's. She refused to let us get a real picture of her, so this will have to sufice.... for now.

Erica (left) and her daughter Eve expertly rolling out the gingerbread dough.

No, Erica, I have no idea why Eve spent the night boucing off the walls once she got home. (I think we were all sneaking her treats like well-meaning aunts throughout the afternoon)

The official "Abundance" shot. We have peanut butter grahams and marshmallow grahams dipped in chocolate, coconut macaroons, "Mrs. Field's" chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, peanut butter kiss cookies, scotch shortbreads, ginger bread cookies, spritz cookies, and rum balls. The only thing we didn't get done en masse was decorate the gingerbreads. Raven came back over in the evening so she, Doug, and I could do that. Of course, giving my husband some kind of creative media at any point can be a bit, well, special.

Yep..... special... would be the word here. These I think may be the least politically offensive specimens. (Mike, the Communist Russia propaganda didn't make it into the photo shoot, so sorry!) I think his mental illness may have affected Raven, as well. From the top left: faceless bikini gingerbread girl #1, Captain Fabulous (it started as a sort of Frankie goes to Hollywood thing by Raven, I added the sparkly lightning and Doug named him), one sweet Devil (raven), faceless bikini gingerbread girl #2, Inquisition Snowman, Star of David Christmas Star, and Patrick Starfish. I'm not sure if these will be on display for the family gathering :)