Confectioner On Deck

A few years ago I stopped baking and I stopped cooking full meals.

It just seemed easier to toss things in the microwave or to order pizza or to just go out and have someone else do the work- and I’ll put it out there with all of my heart- teachers and cooks and chefs do NOT get paid enough.

My point is this: after years of cooking for my family I am OVER the experience.

Sometimes though- when it snows or the weather is bad and I look out the window and wonder what to do, I turn an eye to my kitchen and I bake.

Sometimes I bake from scratch – which to me feels like I’m working in a lab with dangerous chemicals or test tubes full of malicious life forms just waiting for you to make one false move, to add just a smidge too much of this or not put in enough of that and by that carelessness – kaboom.

Yes.

I do love baking from scratch.

It appeals to my inner Abominable Doctor Phibes.

What I love about baking and what I miss about baking are the smells- the scent of vanilla and cinnamon,the beautiful aroma of mulled spices that make their way into warm apple cider and the intoxicating  aroma of cooling pies and cookies.

I made a deal with myself- if the sky is gray and there is a bite in the air this weekend I think I might go a little mad scientist and do some holiday baking.

I have some standby recipes like shortbread- I make a mean shortbread and if it involves fruit and white chocolate I’ll give it a try. And of course I guess I’ll do some Christmas cookies because I’m not a total wet blanket.

Besides, I like to listen to Christmas music when I bake and to double the fun ( for me and to the deep concern of my dog when I do this ) I wear a Christmas Sweatshirt and make my dog wear his Christmas Tree Tiara and I sing along  at the tops of my lungs

Photo A.M. Moscoso

For some inspiration I might try a few of these from The Soul Food Café 2003 Made in Australia Calendar because there is a recipe for a treat where Rice Krispie cereal is called Rice Bubbles.

Rice Bubbles.

Like I’m going to walk away from that!

This month is supposed to be about adventure and experimenting with new ways of doing things and creating things with my own two hands ( as opposed to clicking an icon on my laptop with my own two hands that looks like a shopping cart and sending for it )

I suppose my kitchen is just as good as any museum or symphony hall or poorly lit icy street to embark on this quest.

I just hope I remember to pull the battery out of my smoke detector first.

Kidding.

I’m kidding.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

amm

Inspired By Made In Australia 2003 Advent Calendar: Six White Boomers

Twenty Six Reasons

Photo: Bob Doerr

At this time of the year, for various holiday related reasons, we are reminded that we should take the time to reflect on the things that we are grateful for.

That’s a great idea, so I’m going to do that right now.

Today’s prompt in the writing adventure calendar that I am working on each day suggests I identify 45 things that I am grateful for, 45 things worth life itself, but no matter what I write down these 45 things are actually tied to 26 things in my mind.

Of course I mean the alphabet.

( English Gothic Alphabet )

Greek Alphabet

( Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics )

Without the alphabet music couldn’t be written down, recorded and performed.

Without the alphabet, our ideas and stories and thoughts might be memorized, but the voice of the person who brought those things to life would be lost.

Without the alphabet I wouldn’t be able to write- I wouldn’t be able to do the one thing that I was ever good at.

So tonight when I settle back and read a ghost story or two ( it’s winter time- it’s perfect for that sort of thing ) I will be reminded of what I am most grateful for- 26 things to be exact-and I shall cherish each one of them.

Speaking of:

Below find some great short stories that are PERFECT for reading on a dark and chilly night:

Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad by M. R. James (1904)

A Strange Christmas Game by I. H. Riddell (1863)

Between the Lights by E. F. Benson (1912)

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)

“The Mummy’s Foot” by Théophile Gautier

 

For your edification:

Ghost stories: why the Victorians were so spookily good at them

Inspired By Made In Australia 2003 Advent Calendar: Eureka Stockade

Dwelling

Photo: Luis S Moscoso

Homes are delicate places.

They’re not made to last forever, but we expect them to behave as if they will and we hope against hope that this delicate place will protect everything that matters to us from the world outside.

I decided to start a visual journal- I’m not sure what I’ll put into it yet but I’m sort of excited by the prospect.

Will I practice my drawing there? Keep little reminders like pictures or postcards of things that mattered to me in the moment?

Photo A.M. Moscoso

Photo A.,M Moscoso

What will happen to my journals, once I’m gone?

They’re not made to last forever and they are delicate and susceptible to the elements and bugs and rodents and poorly placed  bottles of water and cups of tea.

Will anyone except for me ever look at them? Or will someone find them and take it apart, using the little bits and pieces I’ve saved there for their own journal, or maybe gift wrapping or maybe they will use it to prop open a door or window- if there are such things a long time from now.

Photo A.M. Moscoso

I guess I am hoping that my little bits of art and examples of my creativity will be safely housed in this delicate home I’ve built for it.

The world outside is so overwhelming and its full of monsters and endless nights of rain.

I’m not sure this will be enough to keep safe paper and ink and glue.

But I hope against hope that it will be.

Photo: Luis S Moscoso

Made In Australia Advent Calendar: The Man From Farther Out

Yule Ties

Christmas Tradtions are called Traditions for a reason.

We assume that whatever our circumstances, everything leading up to December 25th will be the same- the only thing that changes ( in theory ) are the participants and the roles they play.

Of course, if you’re one of the lucky people new things come your way and you get to do something different.

I’ll be honest, when I was forced into the position of having to redefine my entire life and that included how I celebrated the holidays I was less then enchanted with the prospect.

It was scary, it was stressful but in the end it was an adventure into the dark and unknown and I am wired by nature  to do that anyway.

After all, I travel alone, I decided that working in a Funeral Home was something I wanted to do- so against the odds I did it. I played lead guitar in rock bands before it was common for women to do that. I even rode motorcycles.

So when I wanted to find a new way to approach the holidays it was hit and miss and then I found the inspiration to do things differently:

First of all, this is the first year I will be planning Christmas as a Grandma.

In March my first Grandchild was born and she was the inspiration for me to go into my memory vault and go over my Christmases  Past.

I hadn’t thought about saving those memories in any form until I realized I had some really cool stories and traditions that would be fun to recall- no necessarily repeat. But they were bitter and sweet and most important of all- funny.

That’s why I chose this Writing Challenge, it seemed like the best way to organize and share that.

Photo A.M. Moscoso

My dog Hamish started out being a pet, a companion,  someone to take walks with and talk to when reaching out into the world and socializing was the farthest thing from my mind.

But I had a rough year before he came along and I was shutting down.

I had a pretty low opinion of myself when I brought him home at 10 weeks old and in small ways he changed that.

One day Hamish was walking around the house with a blanket over his head and when  I took it off he was wagging his tail like crazy, so I put it back over his head and he insisted on going for his walk with his blanket covering his head.

We were only walking half a block or two in those days because he was just a puppy but it was far enough for my neighbors to see him.

And if they were outside, most of them wanted to pet Hamish or talk to him because they said:

” That is the happiest dog I have ever met in my life. ”

It dawned on me- I was depressed, I was a wreck I was sullen and withdrawn and somehow I had done something right and raised a happy dog that knew how to have fun and liked meeting people.

I did that for Hamish and Hamish is the reason I found out I was an okay human being after all.

 

Photo A.M. Moscoso

So what am I going to do differently?

I’m going to read ghost stories by lamplight with a nice cup of tea.

I’m going to create art- either through baking and cooking or even through drawing. I’ve never been good at creating visual art but who knows maybe this time I’ll learn to be good at it.

I’m going to do one of these things every night through December.

I want to feel the chill and walk in the fog that sometimes happens in December around the Puget Sound.

I don’t want to just walk through the Christmas Season and follow a script where I know the lines and there are no surprises.

I want to live it.

amm

Photo by Simon Matzinger on Pexels.com

Made In Australia Advent Calendar: Breaking Traditions