Sentimental Musing On Fathers

It’s not Father’s Day.  I was just looking at my nephew’s Facebook page and the pictures of him with his little baby girl and realized that my family, as a rule,  makes great fathers, uncles and brothers.  Simply great men.

The mothers, sort of prickly as a group,  but the fathers,uncles and brothers, are  stellar.  I  have a hard time relating to bad father stories, or bad men in general stories.  My memories are filled with uncles who taught me geography, arithmetic, who made me giggle, who teased me, who cried and who loved.  Men who achieved great things and had great catastrophes.  When they were at their height, the maintained their humanity and compassion, when they reached their depth, they had  dignity and humor.

We have a range, from the stern father to the easy going playful father– same for uncles.  But, they always gain our  respect and adoration from a young age to old age.  There is a way that they all hold the babies.  It’s that hug I remember from my own father.  Loving and tender.  Yet, you know, that wherever you are, whatever you do, they will be there for you.  They will move the heavens for one of the children of the family.

When I was in college, I remember reading about certain tribes in Africa, where the maternal uncles doled out the discipline.  Well, in my family, they dole out the love and support to their nieces and nephews.  The common thread was teaching something to the younger ones, teaching them of a passion.  Then the child, grows up with that memory of the uncle who taught you how to draw, taught you about colonialism, taught you about language groups.

Back to my nephew, I watch as he engages in the family catastrophic thinking for his baby.  Imagining and anticipating any and all dangers to his child and protecting her.  Talking and giggling with her. But, I know, that he like the others, will never make her feel that she is “a weak little girl”.  That she is lesser than.  That she is an after thought.

I don’t think my family needed a study to tell us to talk to babies.  My grandmother had a saying:  ” give the gift of your words to your child”.    And that is what they all did.  They talked to us.  They passed on stories, knowledge, humor and wisdom.   Now, don’t mistake any of this with sainthood.  None were saints, they were human and somehow we knew it.   And we all still adore that group of men, so glad to see the next generation picking up the tradition.



La Niña

La Niña is this year’s weather pattern from the Pacific.  Usually not much rain, so it gets colder in the mornings.  But for some reason, this Niña, brought a lot of rain.

A forgotten artichoke

Olive Tree filled with olives

I could have been useful and done something with the olives. The process is complex and it involves lye, I get scared of things like lye.  Next year.

Frosted Oregano


Frosted Parsley

The parsley is gorgeous this year.  I finally found the right bed.  I hate buying parsley.  Winter Greek and Arabic food, uses loads of parsley.

Bay Leaf and thyme

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.  They all thrive in the winter California garden.


Garden gnome doing his work.

Unlike the gnome, I dropped the ball, no cabbages this year, but we did get some greens and broccoli.  The garlic is not planted yet, but I have time.  December was way too wet.


Fall has a strange pattern in Northern California. It is fall, it’s just not what most Northern Hemispheriacs think fall is.  The heat comes just as the days contract.  As the hours of sunlight decrease, the power of the sun increases.  Fashions and cultural patterns are confounded by this odd fall.  Rain is still on holiday till about October.  Maybe a sprinkle, but no rain.  You can still plan an outdoor wedding, or birthday party till November.

This year  cool July and August hampered our gardening.  Our tomatoes are green.  Some have pulled out their plants in anger.  I spared mine and they are giving me a nice  daily crop.  My heirlooms are still green, but I am hoping that they start soaking up the heat of September, October heirloom salads.  A mistake, San Marzanos, the Sicilian tomatoes great for sauce, I should have known better, are still green.  In Sicily by now they are sauce.  A friend suggested that we paint the green tomatoes and use them as Christmas tree decorations..

Just as the summer garden contracts, the olives find their stride.  The pomegranates and the late figs are on their way.

Our rainy spring blessed our fruit trees.  Plenty of peaches, cherries, apples, Asian pears and some strange combination peach plum fruit.

With no cold cellars or cold days, impossible to store these gorgeous apples, the real tarte tatin apple.  Maybe I shall freeze them.  My apple jelly attempts, were rather sad.  My mother could make a fruit jelly in a blink, all my fancy thermometers and techniques failed me.  I will try again, I know that it takes many tries to get the hang of making jelly.  Apple jelly had medicinal qualities for my mother, apple jelly on bread when you were ill was the most comforting of comforts.  But, now that I practiced, maybe I can make quince jelly, the queen of jellies.

This is the peach/plum fruit thing.  I made jam from the rather meager crop of last year, it was wonderful.  After giving a few buckets to the neighbors, I think freezing and keeping them for small treats in the winter is the trick.

As the days and the season contracts, the abundance of the harvest is overwhelming.  This is the second season with this garden, and the fruit trees are a blessing and a challenge.  We eat more than our share of fruits daily, but storage and distribution is a skill that I do not poses yet.  Next season, I will apply my lessons from this.

Why Good Friends Matter

Audience has always been a complete conundrum for me.  I often wonder whether I need any audience at all.  Do I want an audience to expand the discussion, yes.  Do I want an audience to ratify that what I have accomplished is “good”, no.  Do I want an audience to establish myself as a player in the arena, not really.  Do I want an audience to share my frankly warm and fuzzy or anyway deeply felt feelings underneath what is visible – eg to closest of friends and family, indeed.  But I have no idea where that leads me.

Chica, my friend from graduate school, we called each other chica, don’t know how it started.  It’s thirty years later now and we are still friends.  We are very different, she is tall, I am short.  She is a Mayflower WASP American, I am an immigrant.  She is moderate politically, I am to the left side.  But, through graduate school and through the years after we kept our friendship.

This connection was not just the standard stuff of greeting cards and visits.  Actually, we went through long periods with no contact.  But, we stuck to challenging each other.  When we were thirsty for ideas, for a long conversation that meandered in and out of the movies, literature, politics, parenting, life, actually any and all ideas, no limits.  These were our touchstone moments.

In this one paragraph, she grasped what I was thinking about, my writing sometimes is not crystal clear, but she found it.  I have to say giving up the easy readership is not without trepidation but giving oneself time to noodle ideas and to re-think how to use the medium of blogging is sure what one should do from time to time.  I am of the immediate gratification school, it’s time to ponder.

The Fun Parent

The not so fun Greek mother

“Most of my friends, even guy friends, tell me they love their mother  more,” my daughter announced.

” What do you mean, in what way? ” I ask  puzzled and sort of pleased.

“Well, they worry more about their mothers, they would be sadder if their mother died, ” she explained.

My son nodding in agreement between bites of short ribs.

” But, we all know Dads are way more fun ! ” she continued with further nodding from my son.

I keep thinking of this conversation, we have lots of conversations that make me think.

They will weep when I die, but in life, they would rather play with Dad.

Now, I will enter Greek mother wallowing, all I want are visits, but will settle for weeping.