Why I Bake

Granola – before

Obviously, baking yields something delicious at the end but I don’t just bake for the result. It’s about the process, too.

My grandmother, my mom’s mom, always had something that she’d just baked on her pantry shelf. Always. She never failed. (The pantry also had a metal three-drawer cabinet that housed her “candy drawer” at the bottom where we could always go for a chocolate treat.) Chocolate frosted, only on the top and in the middle, yellow cake. The same yellow cake in cupcake form with chocolate frosting. Cream puffs, chocolate chip cookies … often the same but never boring.

My gram would take the time to bake with me and I think that’s why I love to bake. I so enjoyed being with her while we baked together and if we didn’t have time to bake together I always knew the love that went into it. Precious moments. Gram didn’t have a lot of money to buy stuff but she gave me the gift of time.

As I bake, my gram is with me. I can feel her in my heart and it makes me so happy. As I’m writing this my eyes are filling with tears which is a message that my words and feelings around this are true. (Bristol Ivy said I had “ocular incontinence” and she’s not wrong!) Baking centers and grounds me. It is something I shared with my children and with with my grandchildren; the ones of the heart and the blood ones if we are so blessed.

Granola – after

Meanwhile, it settles my heart in a bizarre year. I always know that baking something fills my belly and my heart.

Knitting does something similar but it doesn’t have the heart connection to my family like baking does. I love knitting, don’t get me wrong. I can sit and knit for hours and be “in the zone” where time is lost and my mind is focused. It’s good for my soul. I’ve been knitting a lot through the pandemic and have been experiencing a little soreness in my left arm – I don’t stop and stretch often enough. I’ve also been sitting too long and have worked over the past year to get up and stretch more to help my hips and back. Both passions have helped me to pass the lockdown time in a state of (mostly) contentedness and peace and they’ve been such a blessing. My husband enjoys the fruits of my labor on both fronts.

This week I’m rushing to finish his birthday socks. I’ve got one done and one to go.

Classic Socks for the Family by Yankee Knitter Designs in Manos Alegria

Gone knitting.

I am Good (Enough)!

rockandrollfebruary1976

Yes, that’s me at the piano in my preppy sweater!

A million years ago I stood at a piano in rehearsal for a high school theater production. I was singing “Midnight at the Oasis” (among other things) and it was quite the challenge for me to be sexy and sing at the same time. No, really, it was. My teacher, Frank Best, worked with me a lot. How to walk, how to hold the mic, how to get off the side of the grand piano gracefully …

A couple of weekends ago I attended my 40th high school reunion. I’m not sure how 40 years have passed that quickly, how it’s been 30 years since I stepped foot on the campus. How it’s been 40 years since I’ve seen classmates who meant so much to me. It’s funny how life gets in the way of friendships. And it’s wonderful to pick up where we left off. My theater besties and I returned to the theater all these years later and remembered our shows together and others who didn’t come to reunion this time. It was magical.

Brian back at the old grand piano (that I slid of gracefully.)

Brian back at the old grand piano (that I slid of gracefully.)

Reunited. I wish Sharon had been in this picture, too!

Reunited. I wish Sharon had been in this picture, too!

One classmate shared the picture above and others from the school newspaper on Facebook prior to the reunion. What a good memory this brings forward along with some emotional baggage that I’m ready to discard. A couple of friends commented on how they remembered that show and my song. My number one fan commented that my singing “was one of the true wonders I have witnessed in my life. No lie.” This made me smile. (And blush a little bit.)

It’s difficult for me to accept compliments although I’ve gotten much more adept as I get older. I have come to realize that I really am smart and talented. Back then I certainly could sing. (If I tried, I might still be able to sing today!) “Midnight at the Oasis” was a big hit with the audience. I felt very proud of the performance and yet my father could only say that I’d done “pretty good, Monk”. Falling short of a resounding compliment and making me feel like I’d fallen short of making him proud. So, today I’m dumping that old weight that said I wasn’t quite up to snuff. I did a really good job. If people are still remembering my performance 40 years later, I did a really good job. I can be proud of my performance and know that it was truly a special moment in time. My father’s reaction was more about him coming up short than me.

I did an excellent (memorable) job. I am good! I am smart. I am enough!

Gone Knitting.

Hueblein Tower, Simsbury, CT

Hueblein Tower, Simsbury, CT

When I was a little girl, my parents lived on Avon Mountain in Avon, CT. Our house was on the top of the same mountain as this tower … just way to the right of the tower in this picture (out of the picture, in fact.)

Looking back, that was such a beautiful place to grow up. Each season was beautiful. We were lucky.

We often took “hikes” to the Heublein Tower. Way back then, the tower had fallen into disrepair but the grounds were still gorgeous. A great trail to follow that made it family friendly. And beautiful views from the trail’s edge. Often there were hang gliders jumping off the edge of the mountain from just below the trail … it was awesome watching them take off and fly.

I remember my father telling stories about an Indian (now we’d say Native American) chief who hid in one of the caves just under the tower during a war long, long ago. The cave was called King Phillip’s Cave. At least that’s what we called it in our family. (I just now Googled it and it seems to be mostly true. The chief, King Phillip, was watching his tribe burn the town of Simsbury to the ground during King Phillip’s War.)

Anyway, this vista of the mountain and the tower took me right back to my home. I love the fall in New England and can’t wait to return there to live full-time in the near future.

Gone knitting.