Thursday, April 28, 2011

Out-of-date pictures

We were visiting with friends a few days ago, and somehow the conversation turned to the photographs that accompany obituaries in the local newspaper. We each wondered if we’d rather have our newspaper obit published with or without a picture, and if we’d prefer one that shows us old, as we are now—or young, as we were then. We all agreed how startling it can be to see an obituary photo of someone who appears to be a recent high school grad, titled with a birth year that pre-dates WWII.

Why would the deceased’s survivors select such out-of-date pictures? We speculated that perhaps the honorees hadn’t liked recent pictures of themselves or maybe they couldn’t stand to see themselves garbed in wrinkles. Maybe they loved a particular picture and didn't care how little it resembled them now. Or—and this must happen frequently—survivors simply couldn't locate a recent picture of their loved one in a timely fashion.

As one conversational topic led to another, we commented on a picture of the newly appointed president of our local university just published in the local newspaper. We wouldn’t have thought twice about the picture if a local TV channel hadn’t juxtaposed that same PR shot with its in-person interview of the new president. Live, he looked his age—sixty-one. The still photo made him appear about forty-five. We agreed about the importance of keeping publicity photos up-to-date.

Reflecting on these topics led me to thinking about the headshot on this blog, posted nearly three years ago. I realize I’d better refresh the picture so I’m not the subject of ridicule (“Who is she kidding,” I imagine my readers saying, “that picture’s gotta be at least ten years old.”) After my haircut in a few days, I’ll get serious about changing out the photo. And here’s the lowdown—the real dirt—on headshots of me: I am my own favorite photographer! I’m the person in my house who has enough patience to take enough shots until there's one I like. I use a mirror and then crop, crop, crop. Ah, the beauty of the digital age.

And that’s something I need to make sure I tell my kids before the time comes to scrounge for my obituary picture—the whereabouts of photographs on my computer.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Broken Glass Cake

When other mothers were preparing elegant side dishes to go with their Easter hams, this mother was busy making her “famous” Jello dessert, Broken Glass Cake. I can’t remember the first year I made it for our Easter dinner, but it was probably in the late ‘60s when our children were small. It seemed like a perfect festive ending to the Easter meal (Jello comes in all sorts of Easter-y, pastel colors), and was the only menu selection eaten with gusto by all four kids—and Hubby, too. For that reason alone, it was worth every minute of preparation.

My mother considered Jello fit for invalids, so rarely did I have a Jello-based dessert as a child. It wasn’t until I worked at Pacific Northwest Bell as a young married woman that I encountered a recipe tasty enough to overcome my Jello snobbery. Although I routinely packed my own lunch, on paydays I augmented my sandwich and fruit with a dessert from the cafeteria. After tasting the cafeteria’s concoction of cubed Jello molded inside a sweet, whipped-creamy pudding, I was hooked. It became my treat of preference, and I got crabby if it was sold out by the time I took my lunch break. When I got pregnant six months into my phone company career, I craved that Jello dessert—and ate it almost daily!

It wasn’t until I described the confection to my friend, Karen Schmidt (she hadn’t yet become a Gorini), that I learned its name. “Why, that’s Broken Glass Cake,” she said. "We used to have it at school [WSU] in the dorm cafeteria." She found a recipe for it and wrote it out for me.

Online one can find a number of recipes for Crown Jewel Dessert (its name in the Jello Cookbook), but in my opinion, none is as good as Karen’s recipe. I offer it now as an Easter gift to the readers of my blog. Call me corny, call me a ham (make that an Easter ham), but it’s still my favorite Easter food.


Fix 3 small packages Jello (lime, orange & raspberry are the best flavor combination, but any three flavors can be used, depending on desired color scheme) using 1 1/2 cups water with each package. Pour each flavor into pie plates (do not mix together). Let sit until firm. I do this the night before.

Next day:
Mix: 18 (square) graham crackers, rolled into coarse crumbs) with 1/3 cube butter and 3-4 Tablespoons sugar. Set aside.
Bring to boil: 1 cup pineapple juice and 3 tablespoons sugar.

Mix into pineapple juice, 2 packages Knox gelatin softened in 1/2 cup cold water. Cool this until it thickens, but do not let it get firm.

Add pineapple and gelatin mixture into 1 pint whipping cream, beaten stiffly.

Fold in carefully the three Jellos that have been cut into 1/2" to 3/4" cubes.

Pour into 9 x 13 pan and top with graham cracker mixture. Chill.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Simple pleasures

“Mae-ma, we sended you a package. Did you get it yet?”

Happiness is hearing a granddaughter’s voice on the other end of the telephone line.

“Grandma, do you want to hear my piano recital piece?”

Happiness is listening to a performance being given 1,650 miles away.

“I memorized a poem for Poetry Day at my school. Can I say it for you now?”

Happiness is paying attention to Rachel Field’s “The Little Rose Tree” being spoken on the phone.

 I don’t need to win an election or run a race to feel overjoyed.

I need only to answer the phone.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pearl Buck & Edgar Rice Burroughs stand together in Charlotte

I'm not done thinking about Charlotte, I realize. I can't help smiling when I remember her delicate mix of urban space and literary whim. Whoever conceived of the streetposts in The Green was a creative prankster. I intended to post these additional pictures on April 1, but missed the mark.
These are not the only mileposts, either. There are plenty more. Don't miss them in downtown (known as Uptown) Charlotte when you visit North Carolina.