Mrs. Dorothy Sherock, one of my elementary school teachers was fond of asking, “There’s two kinds of funny, funny ha ha and funny peculiar, which are you?”
It wasn’t exactly the same as Thoreau warning about the unexamined life not being worth living, but it stuck, and to this day I still repeat it frequently. And yes I have come to note that we are all at various times both funnies.
So when I say, “funny isn’t it how I can so easily remember the past, yet yesterday’s lunch is a distant memory?” It’s not the funny ha, ha one to which I allude.
Actually it is (funny peculiar here) how so many of the things we remember are of our own selection. Memories seem to change over time, perhaps colored by later life experience and our own desires to rewrite certain events in our history we’d have chosen to see end otherwise.
I do make an effort to linger on the happy times and, although yes, I know there were many of both, the others, well, they just make me run for the Kleenex box. So what’s the good of remembering the bad stuff? Why should I kill a tree when I have the option of choosing happy?
I remember the day when my daughter had her first sonogram and the light of my life was six and one half weeks old. Laurie saw the heartbeat on the monitor as a flash of light. I cried. It drives my children crazy that I am a non-stop faucet.
Sometimes memories live on in real life. My grandfather had a sister, Auntie Dora. I don’t recall a great deal about her apart from her physical attributes, since she always seemed old to me. At least I remember her that way. But the thing my brother Marty and I remember about her most was that she cried constantly. You’d simply say hello Auntie Dora and she began sobbing. Her nose was constantly red and her reputation as the walking water works lives on in family legend.
When Laurie was a toddler we went to mother toddler classes attached to the building where my Auntie Dora lived. She was such a sweet lady, she would walk over the days we were there to watch Laurie in class and of course Laurie knew her as the aunt who cried all the time.
Alas, it seems I have inherited her crown as the family sob sister. When I am touched by a momentary burst of sentiment, it is always accompanied by laughter and an “Okay Auntie Dora, stop with the tears.” I’m afraid I may actually outdo myself now and become the subject of much mocking and Auntie Dora allusions. Shall I tell you the truth while paraphrasing Clark Gable and Leslie Gore? “Frankly, my dear family, I don’t give a damn. This is my grandchild and I’ll cry if I want to.”
The most special thing about grandchildren is how much their opinions count. The other day as my grandson busily built a robot filled with buttons, cables and all such wiry thingamajigs, I watched in awe.
“You’re so smart,” I said. “Grammy wouldn’t know how to put that together.”
He looked up and said, “ Why not Grammy, you’re smart?”
I have received as all of us, the occasional compliments in my life, yet never was I as struck by pure joy as when my Grandson called me smart. It was as if his words validated every positive trait I ever suspected I possessed. Forget my university degree, my grandson’s opinion is what matters.
I know we’re taught not to let the opinions of others influence the way we feel about ourselves, but in our grandchildren’s case, I believe that is a whole different ball game.
Hearing the words, Grammy you make the best cookies or “Grammy I love your fried chicken,” or “Grammy this is the best gift I ever got,” well need I say more?
Your heart explodes with joy at the sound of a compliment from those little faces.
So you’ll forgive me if I pull out my Kleenex and begin the Auntie Dora sobbing routine when I receive love and hugs from the loves of my life. And if you can keep from crying when they say, “Grammy you’re the best,” then you’re a better man than I am Gunga Din.
And so Mrs. Sherock if I am funny peculiar at times, so be it. Oops, gotta get more Kleenex. Hmmm, are they putting fewer sheets in these boxes now?
Pistachio Fig Mandalcotti
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of oil
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon of baking powder
½ teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
3 ¼ cups of flour
1 ½ cups of chopped figs
1 ½ cups of chopped shelled pistachio nuts
Preheat oven to 350
Add the baking soda, salt and cinnamon to the flour and set aside
Mix together the oil and sugar until well blended and add vanilla to eggs and add to oil sugar mixture. Continue mixing until well incorporated and lighter in color about four minutes or so.
Slowly add flour mixture and check consistency. Dough should stand on in peaks, but not be stiff. If it is too soft add another tablespoon of flour otherwise it will bake too flat.
Add figs and nuts
And mix for twenty seconds. You can finish mixing by hand.
I put parchment paper of a baking sheet and divide dough into quarters. Wetting your hands when you make a roll from the dough helps handle it. Place four rolls on the sheet and pat edges and top until they are uniform. Sprinkle a little sugar on the top and place in the oven. Bake until done about 20 or 25 minutes depending on the size of the rolls.
Remove from the oven and let sit about five minutes, but don’t cool. Cut into slices and separate and lower the oven temp to 200 and return them into the oven for about fifteen or twenty minutes. If you like them crispier than leave them in until they are your desired crispness.