Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving 1967

Thanksgiving was always white linens, sparkling silverware, and the good china in our house. My mother believed in family sit down dinners, big time. Often, we were living where Thanksgiving wasn't even a holiday ( always felt wrong to me, I mean, who doesn't believe in giving thanks?), but we still had a big family feast. Aspic with celery, ambrosia, oyster stuffing, wild rice, asparagus, etc.

In November of 1967, or it could have been '66, I'm not sure, my mother had invited a large number of Americans working for the embassy in Ankara.  She'd snagged some celery root for the aspic (buying celery stalks was unheard of in Turkey back then), and she and the cook had been working on the dinner for days. Tables were set, crystal sparkled, and we were ready for the traditional American feast, a tiny reminder of home in a foreign land.

Unfortunately, there was a political and military crisis involving Cyprus or Israel, I don't remember which, and everyone was locked down in the embassy. Twenty-four hour work went into effect, and our Thanksgiving dinner was over before a forkful was lifted to lips.  Mama arranged plates of food and sent them to the embassy via the embassy driver.  Then she, my brother, and I surveyed the remnants.

My mother's aspic was famous in our family, but it didn't travel well. Twenty-four aspics remained on the fancy tables. My brother and I took one look at each other, grabbed silver forks, and began eating.  I still remember that aspic as the best Thanksgiving dinner, ever.

I've never been able to duplicate that memory of my mother's aspic satisfactorily.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What's in a name?

Recently, I called about setting up a new account with a company I've never dealt with before. The young woman on the phone (probably younger than my kids) said she couldn't do it in my name with my husband 's because we had two different last names. I almost dropped the phone but managed to sputter, " but we're married!"

No deal. Their system couldn't handle it, even though women have used their real names, not their husbands' last names, since I was a youngling in the women's lib movement. I've handled all the prior incredulity over our different last names with some aplomb and a modicum of grace, I like to think, over the past thirty years or so. My own mother gave me grief, and she was quite the feminist.

But for some reason, this recent impasse really ticked me off.  I was fuming around until my husband (to whom I offered  my last name when we married, but he declined ), placed it in perspective for me.

" How 1950s of them, " he chuckled, and went back to what he was doing. Okay dear, I get your point.  I can't control antiquated thinking.  Rant over.

But I can't help thinking how odd it is that I can write under multiple names, and no one blinks an eye.

Friday, November 07, 2014

A Quiet Place

I have a home office.  Love it. Filled with bookshelves, lots of windows and light, favorite pictures, and a desk, I've spent many hours here writing. When our tabby was with us, he would curl up in my lap while I typed away and keep my  lap warm. When a book wasn't behaving, he'd helpfully pounce on the keyboard to make it straighten up and fly right.

Now, though, my office has become a sort of family hub. Everyone wants to congregate in here, and why the heck not? The comfy wing chair with its own over-the-shoulder light is perfect for reading. The conversation is usually lively. We enjoy each other's company. But. . . .

I need alone time. Crave it. One cat is all I can handle when working full tilt on a book. So when the perfect solution presented itself, I pounced. More later, with pictures, when everything is finalized. No, not leaving my husband or ditching les enfants.  We're even adopting two cats. (It'll take two to replace one wonderful tabby.) But I can't wait.

I've been thinking of new stories and characters. The old ones are so well engrained, I'm wondering if I want to play with them for the next year or so. It's hard to leave the familiar, but I'm ready, I think, to take the plunge. Growing up, we moved every few years, so change isn't anything new. But it has been a while.

If I'm not here for a while, you'll know what's happening. Sort of.