Sunday, December 21, 2014

Today's poem by Maxine Kumin

The Sunday Phone Call

Drab December, sleet falling.
Dogs loosely fisted in torpor. 
Horses nose-down in hay. 
It's the hour years ago
I used to call my parents 
or they'd call me.

The phone rings. Idly
empty of expectation 
I answer. It's my father's 
voice. Pop! I say, you're dead! 
Don't you remember 
that final heart attack, 
Dallas, just before 
Kennedy was shot?

Time means nothing here,
kiddo. He's jolly, expansive. 
You can wait eons for an open line.
Time gets used up but
comes back. You know.
Like Ping-Pong.

Ping-Pong! The table in 
the attic. My father, shirtsleeves 
rolled, the wet stub of 
a burnt-out cigarette
stuck to his lower lip as
he murdered each one
of my three older brothers 
and me yearning under the eaves, 
waiting for my turn. 

You sound ... just like yourself,
I say. I am myself, goddammit! 
Anyway, what's this
about an accident? 

How did you hear about it?
I read it somewhere. Broke 
your neck, et cetera. 
He says this vaguely, 
his shorthand way 
of keeping feelings at bay. 

You mean, you read my memoir?
Did you know you're in it?
Didn't read that part
No need to stir things up.

Now I'm indignant. 
But I almost died!

Didn't I tell you 
never buy land on a hill? 
It's worthless. What's 
an educated dame like you
doing messing with horses? 
Messing with horses is 
for punks. Then, a little 
softer, I see you two've 
put a lot of work into 
that hunk of real estate. 

Thanks. Thanks for even 
noticing. We love it here.
We'll never sell. 

Like hell you won't! 
You will! 

Pop, I say, tearing up, 
let's not fight for once. 
My only Poppa, when 
do I get to see you? 

A long pause. Then, 
coughing his cigarette cough,
Pupchen, he says,
I may be dead but 
I'm not clairvoyant. 
Behave yourself. 
The line clicks off.

Maxine Kumin (1925-2014)

You may watch her reading this poem at 4:11.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Darlene Love's Last Christmas Appearance on Letterman

Still the best! And still so beautiful!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Spot's First Christmas by Eric Hill

Today we read Spot's First Christmas to Hazel Nina. It was published the year her daddy was born, and the year her mummy was the same age as she is now. This is one of a series of the most terrific books for little ones. It offers that treat of reading treats, the little surprise when you lift the flap.

We have all of the Spot books and read them over and over to Margaret and Michael when they were young. Sadly, Mr. Hill died this year at the age of 86, but his books are timeless and I'm sure will be read by coming generations of children. 

Hazel Nina took her reading very seriously. As she gets older she'll see the humor and the warmth, but today she really concentrated on what she was doing. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Today's poem by May Sarton

December Moon

Before going to bed
After a fall of snow
I look out on the field
Shining there in the moonlight
So calm, untouched and white
Snow silence fills my head
After I leave the window.

Hours later near dawn
When I look down again
The whole landscape has changed
The perfect surface gone
Criss-crossed and written on
Where the wild creatures ranged
While the moon rose and shone.

Why did my dog not bark?
Why did I hear no sound
There on the snow-locked ground
In the tumultuous dark?

How much can come, how much can go
When the December moon is bright,
What worlds of play we'll never know
Sleeping away the cold white night
After a fall of snow.

May Sarton (1912-1995)

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Yesterday Margaret and Matthew gave a party to celebrate Hazel Nina’s first birthday, and Tom’s sixty-fourth birthday. Margaret asked Tom to make his specialty, spanakopita, and it shall be today's contribution to Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads.


1 box phyllo (from the dictionary - can be spelled 
filo pastry, phyllo, fillo) dough
This is what we always use
2 10-ounce packages of frozen chopped spinach
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled
1 1/4 cups grated cheese. Tom used Cheddar, Parmesan, and Romano.
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup olive oil - more or less depending on how much you need to brush onto the phyllo dough

If your dough is in the freezer, remove it and put it in the refrigerator overnight. 
The next day unwrap and unroll the sheets so they are in a pile like a stack of paper.

Thaw spinach, and cook until tender. Drain and press to remove water.

Sauté onions in olive oil until tender, and then stir in cooked spinach until most of the moisture from the spinach has evaporated.

In a large bowl mix the cheeses. Add the spinach/onion mix. Add beaten eggs and mix well.

Grease 10-inch x 15-inch pan with olive oil.

Place 2 sheets of phyllo into the pan and using a pastry brush, brush lightly with olive oil. Repeat twice more until 6 sheets are on the bottom.

Put about a third of the cheese/spinach/egg mix on top, and spread it around. 

Then repeat whole process twice more.

Add two sheets of phyllo, brushed with oil, and then two more, brushed with oil for the very top.

Bake in preheated 375º F. oven until golden brown, about half an hour. 

This was a huge hit at the party!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Today's picture/When I'm Sixty-Four

Grandchild on his knee. Not 'Vera' but Hazel Nina! On December 5, Grampy turned 64 and Hazel Nina turned 1. Miracle of miracles.