The Reunion Project

The Reunion Project

With only days left of 2020, I’m certainly happy to see it end. But there were some bright spots during the year too. At the end of January, my mother turned 80 years old. We gathered with extended family and had a nice dinner at a favorite restaurant. It was the last family gathering before the pandemic, so I’m especially grateful that we were able to celebrate.

Turning 80 is a big deal for anyone. But it was an even bigger milestone for her, because she is a breast cancer survivor of nearly 35 years. Things could have gone very differently. I’m so glad to still have her.

As January turned to February and March, it was clear that this year would require a great deal of isolation. But luckily, my mother became part of The Reunion Project through her involvement with the Bridgewater Senior Center. The project was created by Lora Brody, who is an Affiliated Scholar at the Women’s Study Research Center at Brandeis University. Since I went to Brandeis for undergrad, it was quite a coincidence when they met and discovered the shared connection!

My mom is a very enthusiastic person and dove into the project full steam ahead. Based on questions given to her, she wrote about her experiences and thoughts about life from when she was very young compared to what she knows now as an elder. She was interviewed by a college student and then had her portrait taken by Lora.

Preparation took months, so by the time she was interviewed and sitting for her portrait, the weather was warm and they were able to meet socially distanced outside.

The exhibit took place outside on Bridgewater Common for the month of November. When I visited, it was so interesting seeing the pictures of all the participants from when they were young and their portraits now. The answers that people gave showed the joys and hardships in life that we all face, but then there were many differences in perspective too.

The Enterprise wrote an extensive article about the exhibit. They photographed and interviewed my mom too! I’m so proud of her!

2020, you weren’t all bad. But I’m looking forward to 2021!

AKA Sorority Sister Kamala Harris

2020 will never be remembered as an easy year. Nor one of the happiest. It certainly isn’t a boring one though. My mom said that Kamala Harris’s nomination for Vice President is one of the most exciting things to happen in a long time. My mom is an AKA, just like Harris, so they are sorority sisters for life.

Growing up, I always knew that my mother was part of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and that pink and green were the colors. Two of her best friends, my godmother and my brother’s godmother are also her sorors and they are all thrilled.

While I never pledged to a sorority myself, being part of the AKA sisterhood has been part of my mother’s identity for as long as I can remember. With nearly 300,000 members, Harris has a powerful force standing behind her and financially supporting the campaign as well. Founded in 1908, that number is significant to the organization.

It’s not surprising, that soon after Harris became Biden’s running mate, thousands of donations in the amount of $19.08 showed up. According a Washington Post article, more than 14,000 of these donations poured in, adding up to more than a quarter million dollars. And the money keeps coming in.

While you may see women dressed in pink and green at some campaign events, you won’t see any AKA symbols, says a Richmond Free Press article. Also, don’t look to see an endorsement of Biden and Harris. As a tax-exempt nonprofit entity, there are limits to their allowed political activity. Keeping their tax-exempt status requires compliance with IRS regulations. Non-partisan voter education drives are generally okay, but not much more than that.

The debate between Pence and Harris is tomorrow and I’ve been looking forward to it. However, given what’s going on with the spread of the virus around the White House, I’m a bit nervous. Pence was at the superspreader event, so he really should be in quarantine and not out and about. Apparently they will be separated by plexiglass, so that hopefully will make the event much safer.

Every day appears stranger than the last. I cannot even imagine the drama that tomorrow’s debate will bring.

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Photo Credit: Luke Harold | Flickr

Holiday Dessert Roundup: Mincemeat Pie

Mince pie cut in half with background blur.
Photo Credit: By Jonathan Farber on Unsplash

From my last few posts, it’s clear that I love holiday sweets. Gingerbread is a holiday staple and eggnog might be my favorite holiday treat. But there’s another one that I haven’t written about — mincemeat pie.

First, let me clarify. Most mincemeat pies do NOT have meat in them. They are made with dried fruits and spices. While we call them mincemeat in New England, apparently in most other places, they’re called mince.

Personally, I’ve never made a mincemeat pie. One of my mom’s sisters, is the pie maker for our holiday meals and we are often blessed with one of her mincemeat pies. After a brief Twitter exchange with someone, I realized that not all families are so blessed! We had one for Thanksgiving and I’m hopeful for Christmas too! Served warm with vanilla ice cream, it’s a carousel of delicious flavors and textures.

I started wondering if enjoying mincemeat pies is more of a regional thing. The pie does have its roots in England. Growing up in New England may have skewed my views. Although for a period of time, Connecticut banned mincemeat pies. Those Puritans were no joke.

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Mincemeat pie is a holiday treat that has been enjoyed by many for a very long time, according to a recent article on Haiwatha World.

Mincemeat pie finds its roots in the 11th century — the Crusades, to be more precise. Returning crusaders brought back valuable spices — cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg — from the Holy Land, and these three spices were used to season a special “Christmas pie,” to represent the three gifts of the Magi to the infant Jesus Christ. Christmas pies were small, and could be eaten in a few bites. These pies were made in an oblong shape to resemble a cradle, and space was left for a Christ child figure to be placed on top. (The figure was removed before eating.) It was considered to be lucky to eat one Christmas pie for each of the twelve days of Christmas, between December 25 and Epiphany, January 6. The mincemeat filling of these pies was indeed almost entirely meat, but cooked with rum and spices, which acted as a preservative, as well as giving it its distinctive flavor.

With my increasing interest in all things mincemeat pie, I decided to do some additional research on the latest news and have assembled a roundup for your (and my) holiday reading pleasure. Enjoy!

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– Here’s a recipe for a boozy Baileys mince pie.

– Selfridges was selling a mini mince pie advent calendar.

Mince pie filled cookies are a thing!

– A mince pie sandwich is also a thing.

– Is mince pie flavored popcorn going too far?!

– Caffè Nero is offering mince pies in the UK for the Christmas season, but not in the US.  Not even in New England.

– Here’s a recipe for mincemeat crumble cake.

– The Helen M. Kelly Memorial Mince Pie has been in this family’s fridge since 1988.

Mince pie bao buns are for sale on Amazon Fresh UK.

– Parenthood won the best Thanksgiving TV dinner and the mincemeat pie had a lot to do with it.

– Grocery story Lidl has mince pie ice cream!

– A Dublin restaurant took the meat part of mincemeat too literally for Professor Darryl Jones.

– An American website had a similar meat problem with its mincemeat pie recipe.

– Try Queen Elizabeth’s royal recipe for mince pie. No meat included!

– If you’re ready to go absolutely medieval, try this mincemeat pie recipe that includes pork shoulder roast and bacon.

– And guess who has never tried mincemeat pie? I apologize in advance.

Embrace Women In Art

2018 was quite a year. The most difficult thing was losing my father in March.

After my father became ill, my mom, brother and I started having family dinners every Sunday. Sometimes extended family would have dinner with us too. It became a real source of comfort.

Nothing fancy. Quite the opposite. It needed to be easy, so we would get take-out from a few local places. The main thing was that we were all together sharing a meal. That had been so important to our family while my brother and I were growing up.

After my dad passed, we decided to continue the tradition, but we decided to eat at out at some area restaurants. Over a couple of weeks, we tried a few, but nothing felt right. I think that we were feeling too sad. My father was a huge presence and energy in our lives. And he was gone.

Even though I felt broken, I strongly believed (and still believe) that when a major person leaves your life, someone else will appear.  Not to replace them. But just in keeping with the nature of physics. It has to happen. Energy doesn’t disappear. It’s a constant and just transforms.

My brother mentioned that we should try Bertucci’s. There was one near where he lived, so it would be easy. We had always loved their food and especially the rolls. None of us had been to one in many years, but we thought it was a great idea. Especially after just hearing that many of the restaurants would be closing.

So one Sunday in April, we went to Bertucci’s and our server was a lovely young woman named Kassy. She had just started working there and was so friendly and sweet. We all bonded immediately. We started going back there every Sunday and Kassy was always our server. For the first time in a while, our dinners started feeling happy again.

So why am I telling you this? Well, Kassy doesn’t work there anymore, but she has become like another member of our family and I have been mentoring her. She has an artsy side like me and also making her way in the professional world.

Recently she started a blog called Embrace Women In Art, where she interviews women who are involved in the arts. Her latest post is an interview with me!

Since it’s also Christmas Eve, to those of you who celebrate, Merry Christmas! 🎄

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Updated 5/16/20: The interview is no longer available online, so the link was removed.

On Losing My Father

This is a favorite photo of my father and I. It was taken about 25 years ago or so.

The day of my last post on this blog was March 11th. It was also the last day that I saw my father alive. We had a family dinner with my mother and brother. He seemed very tired, but I had no idea that he would be gone so soon after. He died on March 14th.

I’ve gone through such an array of emotions since then. Shock, disbelief and sadness being the biggest. I wrote the obituary and the eulogy, which I delivered at his funeral last Saturday.

He lived to 85, very close to turning 86. He had a very full life and 85 is a good age, but I still feel like it was too soon and I wasn’t ready.

I appreciate that I have so many good memories of him and that I got to spend so much of my life with him. I was blessed to have him as my father and I’ve blogged about him several times.

There was a post about his favorite birthday cake, a tour that we took of Turkey Shore Distilleries, a lovely card that he sent me right before Father’s Day, and his being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He even wrote a guest post at one point.

A lot of what I have been thinking about is how glad I am for the times that we spent together.

This is definitely a new era of my life. I have never lost someone so close to me. It’s an adjustment and I have to learn how to think of myself and “just be” without a living father. I’m still trying to find my way. I guess it’s a lifelong journey.