Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Alright-y, lots of catching up to do, but first things first, the winner of still life's first giveaway is...MK, as is evinced by the random generator screen shot. YAY, MK! Congratulations. After I post this, you will be receiving an email from me. For anyone who said they didn't want to be entered in the drawing, but still left a comment, do not be alarmed that I erased your comment. I do not possess the higher math skills to figure out the random generator without erasing your comments. I did note them, and thank you to everyone who participated, and said beautiful things about my paintings.

I have to say that the paintings came out of a need to find a ritual and image with which I connected. Someone mentioned that this is an image for babies in utero, and yes, it is, partially, but mizukos jizos are protectors of ALL children. In Japan, a child's being isn't supposed to be fully formed until they are six (or seven, I forget). So slowly, through the years, the being enters the child like water; hence the idea of mizuko, or water child. Anyway, I love the images created, and the starkness of zen. This is an image, ritual and bodhisattva created solely by women with a need to recognize their loss(es), and it is a wholly 20th century creation.

Alright, we have had enough jizos for the moment. If you are interested, there are some other artists making jizo art as well. I have one of Mother Henna's jizos on my altar. The beautiful and lovely Mother Henna does some amazing work. She actually recently had a tutorial on making her jizo notecards. If you are not acquainted with Mother Henna, go, get acquainted. She is an art therapist and artist and writer and all things beautiful, creative and important. She hosts many classes. Last spring, I was fortunate enough to take a creativity in grief on-line class with her called Grief: Finding our Way. The "class" was made up exclusively of the babylost mamas, and opened in me in flood of different ways of exploring my grief, my emotions and my art. It was gateway art.

After my beautiful Lucy died, I scrambled. Sam actually stayed home for a month and we parented together, sort of tag-teaming with Beatrice. One would lead until falling apart, then the other would take over. When he finally went back to work, I found myself full of fear and apprehension. How do I do this again? What I did was make a kind of psuedo-schedule for Beatrice and I. It was winter, and I moved all of my art gear into my warm office space. Beatrice and I set up our easels. I gave her paint, crayons, chalk, markers and some cardboard. She had free reign. And I set up next to her with a book of "How to do watercolor." Now, I grew up going to art school on weekends, and painting, so it wasn't that foreign, but I had never done watercolor. My sister and I often buy each other starter kits for different art mediums or crafty crafts for Christmas to inspire each other creatively. And I received a started kit for watercolor. Beatrice and I would put on some music, mainly Tegan and Sara or Bjork, and paint. I would do a very detailed lesson in my book, and Beatrice would do modern art. It was exciting. I let her paint anything and everywhere. I can say that doing a little art, even though it was so regimented, helped me express myself. I wanted to paint what I was feeling. So, I began painting babylost paintings, like little itty bitty snippets of my really heavy angry emotions juxtaposed with a kind of glorified stick figure. That is from where "She is not an angel" came.


Enough of this arty talk, I have some other things to discuss. The amnio results came in yesterday, and the baby boy is good. Everything came back normal, so no chromosonal issues. Yay! I cannot even tell you what a relief it was. I actually began singing What a Difference a Day Makes. We have some other hurdles this week, but that one has been jumped, and I can relax a bit into this pregnancy. I have found myself distanced from this child, unable to sort of visualize myself holding another baby. Protection? Self-preservation? Just hearing he is fine, I felt that excitement in my chest. We gonna have a baby.

I just want to again thank each and every one of you for your love and support, your words of cautious optimism and your understanding of the pit of despair. I am a situational depressive. And this situation was simply one from which I could not see the light. That all is okay chromosonally is such a huge comfort and relief. Sam woke this morning to tell of the most amazing dream. He dreamt of our son last night with dark hair and olive skin, and full of life. The mood has shifted here at the ranch. Thankfully. And not in small part to the love and support I receive from everyone. Thank you.


In an effort to keep damn busy while waiting for the results, I organize. Clean. Bake. If you walked into my house, you would have no idea, but yesterday, for example, I went through my wrapping paper/gift bag selections, organizing it by occasion, size, and quantity. I also organized my felt in order of the colors of the spectrum. Someone asked me if I am Type-A the other day. Does getting up at 5am and having organized gift wrapping making me Type-A? Then yes. Yes, I am.

I also finished my package for my Gift Exchange partner (can't wait to post my crazy ornaments). And my package to Once a Mother. And just generally organizing things for the holidays. This past weekend, when writing about my crappy moods, my husband and I ran holiday-ish type errands, and I popped into Sur La Table to look for "tossie" pans. Does anyone know what tossie pans are? Or even what nut tossies are?

To be honest, I had no idea how we spelled that word until a year or so ago when I actually read recipe for the first time in my life. They are one of my family's favorite cookies. My mother makes them every year, and I devour them. They are like miniature little pecan pies, except made with walnuts and more runny. Often, you have tossie juice running down your chin, and people stare. Nothing worse than a fat girl with sugar rivulets making their way to cleavage. Well, my sister and I have actually had the discussion. Having vanilla creme hanging from your lip, and powdered sugar on your boobs after eating a Krispy Kreme donut pretty much is the lowest feeling in the world for a fat girl, but the caramel rivulets is a close second. Nut tossies require a special pan, which my mother claims are no longer available for sale. And thus, I have never looked for them. I call bullshit on that one. I found them, in a French place no less. Suck on that, Mom!

Of course, there is no such thing as a "tossie pan," mainly because that is some kind of made-up Pennsylvania Dutch thing. The recipe comes from one of those 1970s artery-hardening church cookbooks from rural Pennsylvania. It does not have an equal. It is one of many in my mother's extensive cookbook collection. I have tried to collect church cookbooks from all over the Northeast trying to find the kind of beauty in my mother's book, but it always leaves me with recipes like "Sue's Spaghetti Delight," which reads something like "Open a jar of tomato sauce. Boil pasta. Cover with mozzarella cheese and put in the oven. Delightful!" This book has traditional Pennsylvania Dutch, Slovak and Polish recipes that came from the pre-Puerto Rican immigrants that settled in and around Allentown, which makes up most of my childhood eating experience.

So, I had to call my mother to 1. admit I was going to try to make nut tossies without her and break her heart and 2. beg ask her for the recipe. To be frank, she really didn't care. I often think my mother will be heartbroken by things, and she is non-nonplussed. But my sister happened to be there. With awe, she asked, "You are making nut tossies?" We waxed poetic about the cookbook, which is ripped at the taffy recipe when my sister and I tried to make taffy at age 10 during a snow day. Some taffy got tragically stuck on the page tearing it and causing ripples of panic as we realized that cleaning up our clandestine cooking experiment was beyond our capablities. My mother returned from a full-day of work to a kitchen full of stickiness, ruined pots, torn cookbooks and sheepish girls.

While my mother dug out the sacred cookbook, my sister and I talked about how awesome and unrivaled it is in the realm of local church cookbooks, my sister suddenly, and I might add rudely, screamed to my mother, "Can I have this cookbook when you die? Quick, say yes." Son of a bitch. I have been tempted to copy and rebind it and sell it as the bible of regional Pennsylvania cooking. The recipe for nut tossies itself is great. It calls for a pound and three tablespoons of butter. A "box of brown sugar." (What size box exactly?) And yields 100 cookies. ONE HUNDRED!

All this cookbook in your will stuff reminded me of this beautiful bright orange Betty Crocker cookbook I inherited from my grandmother. Well, inherited sounds official. I asked my grandfather if I could have it, and he said, "Sure, kid, take it." And so, I have it and cook from it often. It works like this. Sam says something like, "You should make Turkey Tettrazini with all the Thanksgiving leftovers." And I look at him like the Victor dog, and he says, "It's a casserole." My mother was not big on casseroles. Panamanians don't really bake many dishes with cream of mushroom soup. And so, I pull out my 1971 Betty Crocker cookbook, and lo and behold, there it is, in technicolor brown, calling for lard and a quart of heavy cream.Alright, not really, but still, there is a lot of heavy this, and fat of that.

The inside cover reads, "To Mary Lou from Mary Lou. Christmas 1972." My mother received the same cookbook from my grandmother, Mary Lou, with the same inscription except for "To Linda from Mary Lou  . Christmas 1972." So, I grew up with a lot of the same recipes. Food photography today is very very very different than it was on Planet Betty Crocker circa 1971. The colors of all food can only be described as unholy. And often the food, often casseroles, are pictured in what is supposed to be the food's "natural environment," like the Broiled Lobster Tails are pictures on the sand with a big rope. Placing food on the sand, even on a plate, never works out well. Ever. There is a recipe in the cookbook for Instant Coffee. Which is a bit mindboggling because, well, doesn't instant coffee come with directions? And the fact that it says "instant" in its title and description sort of imply that you just, you know, add water? Escoffier this ain't.

Yet I delight in it in a way few things make me happy. Cheesy + Delicious + Americana = Good Afternoon. So, I went through it, like a depressing, snarky little Mystery Science Theater 3000 making comments about the worst of the pictures. Then I googled something I vaguely remember from my corporate days. My grandmother also had these: Betty Crocker Recipe Cards.  Oh, they were terrible, but my grandmother used them. Often. But on this cold weekend, when I could see any light, it brought me some joy to read and remember the 1970s through its food and colorizations.

One day, when you are feeling low, perhaps you will remember this post and the link, and click on it, and get a few chuckles and gross outs. Enjoy this one: 1971 Betty Crocker Recipe Library. Click on the recipe section on the side to see the sections. It actually starts a bit slow, so don't get too discouraged and think I have no sense of humor. I have to say, I am partial to the idea that there is even a "Men's Favorite" section, and that it doesn't start with sausage.


  1. more depressing than a fat girl wirh food running down her chin to her cleavage, is later that night when fat girl takes of her bra and whole (almost) cookies fall out...ask me how I know!
    Good news! I'm pleased baby boy is good.

  2. Holy yay, batman! Clean amnio results! That's AWESOME - I'm smiling in relief for you.

  3. Yay!!! That's me! I'm MK! Wooo Hooo! I will email you shortly!

    And I inherited an orange Betty Crocker too...I swear I gain 3 pounds just reading the recipes in is, however, the only place to find a decent scratch made chocolate cake recipe...I pity those that don't inherit one because you can't buy them anymore...

  4. I am so happy for you and breathing a big sigh of relief!!!!

    I remember playing with those recipe cards as a child! My mom eventually threw out the cards and I got to use the plastic box to store my crayons and markers. Score!

    We had a Betty Crocker cookbook too, ours was red and white plaid on the cover. I guess it was supposed to look like a tablecloth. I think my mom still has it - I am going to ask her about it next time I see her. Then I am going to look through it and get grossed out!

  5. You're delightful. And you know I love that song, but the one that started bursting to mind by the end of your post was, "To life! to life! Lekayam" (or however you spell Yiddish.)

    And I am taking a particular pleasure today in MK's victory, since she would have bought one anyway. Celebrating y'all.

  6. I was sensitive and prone to tears before baby death, but goodness I can't control even my happy tears anymore! I could only read your post up to the part about the amnio results because my eyes are too wet to see now. If I'm crying tears of relief and joy, I can't imagine how you must feel. Phew! Thank goodness that is over. Now you can just focus on growning that little bub, which after what we have been through is stressful enough on its own.
    Thinking of you and sending you lots and lots of love.
    Grow baby grow!

  7. I remember when I first read about the Jizos and the shrines (back after my miscarriage in '02) that I was just so impressed that a culture had a vocabulary and established manner in which to deal with these things. It seems so out-of-context in other religions and cultures (and some, sadly, just axe them right out).

    I'm going to bask in your relief. Sounds delicious.

  8. So happy about the amnio results and that baby boy is good!

    And I love thinking about you and Beatrice making art together in your office.

  9. so happy to hear that your amnio tests all came back well. sending you lots of prayers always... and am celebrating this good news with you today

  10. and thank you in advance for the package for Doing Good In Her Name. your support means the world to me!

  11. I can picture the orange shag in the living room and the macrame wall hanging now. :) I found a couple very similar cookbooks recently in the cedar chest my mom unloaded onto me. One was Betty Crocker's dessert book. I should locate it for your humorous benefit.

    I am happy the amnio results are good. One less worry. :)


  12. Wonderful news about your amnio test. I hope you can sit back and enjoy this pregnancy now. As hard as it was for me, I miss feeling pregnant.


  13. I'm so happy to hear that the amnio results came back and that your little boy is good. I loved reading about Sam's dream.

    And about the art and about the mizuko and about the cook book! xo

  14. Congrats to MK!!

    I'm glad to hear the amnio results show nothing wrong with the chromosomes! What a relief!

  15. SOOOO glad to hear the results were OK!!!! We can all use one less thing to worry about, right? Or. if you're like me, we'll check this one off and go find another to take its place....sighs.
    But still, for now, YAY!!!

  16. Wonderful news, and a wonderful post!

    Those cookies sound YUMMY! Is the internet magic enough to transmit the taste in to my mouth yet? And if not, why not? What's the point of technology if not for transmitting cookie goodness, I ask you?

    So, so happy for you my lovely xx

  17. That's fabulous news!! I am so excited to hear this!
    Off to check out the recipes...

  18. so happy for your positive results!

    everyone is writing and posting about cookies these days! i need to get on it and make another attempt at baking.


  19. Angie- I am so excited for you and Sam and Beatrice and sending you Lone Star Love- Love all the cooking "tidbits" down here we call them "tassies" . Thanks for your post- a bright light in my day.
    much love-slee

  20. so glad baby boy is healthy... you're making it!!

  21. YAY, angie. so happy and relieved for you and your little boy. keep hanging in there!

    i can only bake two or three things from scratch--but am afraid to attempt them now, as i have flaky, grief brain and just burned a pan of box brownies. yeep!

  22. Okay, so I'm a tardy commenter. But I just had to say congrats on the healthy boy! I'm so happy for you.

    Also? I'm a sucker for thrift stores. I own the 1971 Betty Crocker Recipe Library in all its weird little yellow cased delight. *hangs head in shame*


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