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Pushing It

I am just old enough to remember when Christmas decorations in the stores went up the day after Thanksgiving, which was the same day Christmas carols started playing on the radio, and families in the old neighborhood put up their outside decorations, come mild or bitter cold breezes off Lake Michigan. In fact, it was a treat to go Downtown to see what Marshall Field’s window themes were for any given year, but you couldn’t do that until after Thanksgiving.

Slowly, decorations and the not-so-subtle hinting at great store bargains began creeping up before Thanksgiving, and so much so that well, nowadays you can stick your head into any one of several ginormous arts-crafts-sewing stores, and yes, The Decorations are up and serenaded by Eartha Kitt belting out “Santa Baby.” In July. Or – gasp! – June.

My Ma told me that when she was growing up, nobody put up decorations – including at home – until Christmas Eve. If you watch old movies (like I do), you might see the same craziness in any given Holiday-themed movie. I could be mistaken, but Barbara Stanwyck didn’t put up her tree until Christmas Eve in the 1945 movie, “Christmas in Connecticut.” And if I remember my history right, it was Franklin Delano Roosevelt who got the ol’ ball rolling with asking stores to start their Christmas season right after Thanksgiving. It was to get the draggy Great Depression economy rolling again, you know.

I’m not blaming anyone for the whole moving-Christmas-up-and-up-and-up. It’s just that it would be so nice to have that spirit, that goodwill feeling, that feeling of brotherhood and love all year ‘round, or at least during the six months’ time those decorations are up and Der Bingle starts dreaming of his ”White Christmas.”  People have become so numb and zombie-like with every holiday, in fact.

I read a tract somewhere wherein a priest wrote that in the anticipation of a baby’s birth, the joy of it coming didn’t end on the day it was born. In fact, the greater joy came on its birth day, and continued well past that day, throughout the years. Conversely, with Christmas, people have all this joy and merry-making for Jesus’ birth (if that’s how they observe the holy day), but it fizzles out the day after Christmas. I found that interesting, and it makes sense.  But it doesn’t.   What has Christmas become? You and I know that answer.

Still, I’d like that total societal feeling of consideration, love, and cordialness year ‘round, but maybe that’s too “Pollyanna,” and I’ve become jaded.

But it is worth a try. Isn’t it?

What I saw this past week:

“From the newspaper and around town.”

©2017 Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.

 

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The Light of Day

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Ol’ Neighborhood Gal

I’m still back home visiting and seeing the old neighborhood.  The weather in The Windy City cooled off considerably.  It was in the 90s when I came here, and now it’s in the 60s, which is seasonable temperature for this time of year. 

This old gal is one of my favorites at home in the side garden.  She doesn’t say much, but her serene demeanor is soothing and comforting to me, and that says a lot these days.


The Simple Things

IMG_3070I’m up early this morning in the old neighborhood.  It dawned on me how I used to study these tiles here as a kid, counting the simple pattern of squares and rectangles in neutral hues.  I’m glad this floor lasted in such good shape all these decades, and I wonder how many people in the neighborhood left theirs in.

©2017 Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.

 


A Sunday Arrival

Just one of many morning arrivals into O’Hare today.


Old Neighborhood Zinnias

Back in the old neighborhood, enjoying the last of summer’s zinnias.


On the Path to Zen

Japanese Gardens, Chicago Botanic Garden (c) Original Photograph by Susan Marie Molloy

Japanese Gardens, Chicago Botanic Garden (c) Original Photograph by Susan Marie Molloy


The Waterfall

“Once Valentine’s Day comes, the worst of winter is over.”

That’s something Dad would always say in the middle of those cold, snowy, bitter Chicago winters, when we kids would complain about the cold air on cloudless days and the slushy snow that froze again into small, dangerously slippery peaks on the sidewalks.

“The worst of winter is over.”

I was never a die-hard fan of winter. In fact, the only part of the season I like is the first good snowfall, Christmas vacation, and the way the snow sparkles like tiny diamonds under city street lights in the blackest of nights. The rest, I can leave: dirty, slushy streets, bitter cold air, and short days.

I was thinking about a trip I made to the Chicago Botanical Garden one early autumn day, and I found a nice picture I took of one of the waterfalls there.

waterfall-at-the-chicago-botanic-garden-2010-susan-marie-molloy

It took away my winter doldrums today, and I remembered that here it is, almost Valentine’s Day, and the month is just about half over.

Spring is approaching!

©Susan Marie Molloy, and all works within.


Citrus, Crochet, and the Cubs

The Celebrated Satsuma

The Celebrated Satsuma

Today I got a satsuma from someone I know .  It was freshly-picked this morning and still has its stem and leaves on.  I like the taste of satsumas – kind of orange-like, but not.  This is a real treat.  Sometime I’d like to get enough of them to make marmalade.

As part of my downsizing project in this Year of Change, I’m in the middle of going through all the doilies I crocheted years ago.  So many years ago, they are now considered vintage.  I decided to keep all those my aunt crocheted, plus only a few of ones I made.  If the majority of them are sitting in a box, why store them when others can enjoy them?

The Chicago Cubs finally won the World Series after all these years.  The final game sure was a nail-biter, and there even was a rain delay to add to the drama.   Hey! Hey!  Holy Mackerel!  No doubt about it!  It’s about time for that win, in this Year of Change.

We all could use a winning year, don’t you think?

November 2, 2016

©SusanMarieMolloy, and all works within.

 


The Cook Book

The cook book was so revered, that my Ma kept it in the cabinet above the refrigerator, along with several others and a mass of newspaper recipe clippings and typed and handwritten family recipes. That book, and the others, was only brought down to the kitchen counter only when she was ready to bake or cook something special.

Ma would let me look through this particular cook book from time to time. Yes, I had to “be careful” with turning the pages and “be careful” not to spill anything on it. There were times I could sit for an hour reading and absorbing chapters and recipes and the few photographs in it – not a small feat for a eight-year-old (was when I first started reading it). As time went on, I read more and more recipes, happily thinking about the day when I would be married and cooking for my own family.

This particular cook book is the Antoinette Pope School Cook Book by Antoinette and Francois Pope. They were a couple who was born in Italy (Antoinette) and France (Francois), and immigrated to the United States (Chicago) in the early twentieth century. Over time, she converted their basement on the south side of Chicago into a cooking school. Ultimately, they even had a television cooking show on ABC (Channel 7) in Chicago. I remember watching it with Ma. Their culinary history is legendary. There is a well-written article about the Popes written when Antoinette passed away in 1993. You can read the article HERE.

Book1a

Two of my aunts also had this book, presented to them by my Ma. Ma’s book lasted for decades. It was so well used that over time, the pages were separating from the binding and she had to rubber band the book together after she used it. It was getting fragile from so much use. It became a lost artifact when my parents had a small flood in their basement (where she moved the book there for some unknown reason) and the book became so water logged, it was destroyed.

Recently, I found this same edition in near perfect condition, and I bought it. The mailman delivered it to my house yesterday, and I was thrilled beyond expression! I went through the chapters and pages, reveling in chapter introductions, measurements, techniques, and recipes. I found the first recipe I ever made from the cook book – Tuna Noodle Casserole. I was fourteen years old. It wasn’t my first time cooking (I was already do that since I was about eleven). But, oh! I felt so grown up using a Pope recipe!

This edition I now have seems to have an interesting history. Someone – Amy – bought it for Jane and presented it to her on December 25, 1954:

Book2a

It looks like Jane tried Pope’s Oatmeal Cookies, but made notes about looking at the recipe on an Oatmeal box:

Book3a

She made Pope’s Chop Suey and added penciled notes about her own revisions to the recipe. She even said it was “very good”:

Book4a

Jane made Chili con Carne (remember how that was how we used to always refer to chili?). Jane also made the Beef Stew, and that page is scribbled all over with notes:

Book5a

On the last page and inside cover of the book, Jane taped a picture of Francois Pope and his two sons, plus a write up on the cooking school. She cut up the dust cover; that’s where that came from:

Book6a

The only clue as to where Jane lived was a note she wrote in a margin: “Use Burghardt’s rye bread”. My Internet research revealed that Burghardt’s rye bread came from the Livonia, Michigan area.

This weekend I’ll be making the lasagna recipe from the book. And that Tuna Noodle Casserole won’t be far behind!

I’ll be remembering Ma baking and cooking, my young days pouring over the cook book’s pages, and of Jane and Amy – sisters, friends, cousins, or in-laws? Cook books are a good resource to learning about how people prepared and served food, and perhaps how they thought enough about each other to present them with a useful and thoughtful gift.

Bon appetite!

©Susan Marie Molloy, and all works within.


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