9 years agoSteffasaurus
Bean Suppers, or, I'm a Mutt Not a Pure Bred
I'm a mutt not a pure-bred.
You'll find a little German, a little Polish, a little Native American, a little Swiss (although the validity of this has been up for family debate for a good decade now), a little Irish, and a whole lot of French in my blood. Thankfully, I didn't receive my great-great aunts Polish uni-brow, but instead inherited my great-great grandmothers Irish freckles and penchant for whiskey. Which everyone seems to find awfully charming, so this is okay by me.
In behavior, I tend to be a little more Swiss and French. Swiss in my mentality of neutrality and chocolate; French in my mentality of gluttony and family.
I'm aware that these are horrible generalizations, but before anyone gets up in arms about this, remember that we're innately poking fun at my ancestry here. And maybe it's me, but we all need to learn to laugh at ourselves a little more, and that absolutely includes being able to find amusement in our genealogy.
An important tradition in the French-Canadian community here in Maine is the practice of Bean Suppers. I'm not sure how this began, although research explained that the pilgrims might have started it, by making an over abundance of beans on Saturday so they wouldn't have to cook on the Sabbath.
In my area of the world, it seems that this became a weekly ritual for the French-Canadians (those heavily-accented ancestors of mine) who traveled down from Quebec in the late 1800's. Saturday afternoon was a time of family and beans. I assume they started doing it because it was a good way to get the entire family (and I do mean the entire family) together after a long hard week of work for socializing and . . . you guessed it . .. gluttony.
Three of my four grandparents were part of the Canada to Maine transition, and were very French (as in, English was their second language, and even then it was mostly broken). And my fourth grandparent was a sassy little mutt (the German, Polish, Irish, and Native American) from Los Angeles and the Bronx. She was very "American" (as in, she married a French fella and had to learn his language and culture real fast to be able to fit in).
While my own parents (who spoke fluent English and French - my mom still can, my dad has mostly lost his French) never really observed any of our ancestors traditions (I think the only tradition we really had was sticking a porcelain pickle in our Christmas tree - it's a German thing, don't ask), the one ritual they would never break was the Bean Supper held always on Saturday afternoons.
There is a bakery in my hometown which caters to this long-standing tradition, and every Saturday they have their own "Bean Special" (which, literally, is only available on Saturday's from 6am to 1pm) where you can get baked pea beans, coleslaw, biscuits or brown bread - with or without raisins, hot dogs or ham, and pie or Danish for dessert. For as long as I can remember my family, either within our nucleus (mom, dad, sister, me) or with my grandparents (and other various family members), would come together for a noontime Bean Special dinner.
Over the years churches began hosting Baked Bean Suppers on Friday or Saturday nights as fundraisers, where for a very nominal fee one could go and enjoy the sweet feeling of community while being fed this warm, comfortable traditional French-Canadian fare. I believe that they started doing this for the elderly populace who needed a social outing and a place to gather to remember and laugh, commiserate and feel needed.
Having recently celebrated my Quarter Century Birthday I made a promise to myself to change a few things about the way I live. Some of them were silly (drink more water!) and some of them were very poignant (hug Dad more often). One of the things I decided I needed in my life was more Bean Suppers (to help me stay in touch with my heritage) and more face-time with my grandmothers (who far outlived their husbands - such independent-souls those women were).
I called the grandmother that I saw the least - Meme: my sassy "American" mutt grandmother - and asked her if she might want to go to a Bean Supper with me. Her old parish was hosting one, and I thought it might be nice for her to get out of the house and see some familiar faces.
Continued in comments . . .
9 years agoSteffasaurus
Equailty, or, Maine: The Way Life Shouldn't Be
I love the state of Maine.
After living in several different countries and travelling extensively through North America, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s always Maine in which I return home to. It, to me, is the most wonderful state in the union filled with an unparalleled charm, breathtaking sights through all seasons and counties, fabulous eateries and local music, and the most kind-hearted, welcoming, friendly folks youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d ever meet.
Or, so I thought.
Today, with a heavy heart, I am both ashamed and disgusted to call myself a Mainer.
May 6th, 2009 our stateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s legislature passed a law that allowed same-sex couples to wed. Six months later, yesterday, our state Ã¢â‚¬" the people of which are known for their hospitality, independent thinking, and non-judgmental ways Ã¢â‚¬" repealed the law, taking one step forward and two steps back into an era where equality is apparently meaningless.
What happened, fellow Mainers?
When did we become as discriminatory and exclusive as everyone else?
I havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t, not from the very beginning of this, understood why gay marriage was even an issue. Throughout our countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s history weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve absolved traditions and institutions that denied equal legal rights for our fellow man. In the 1920Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s the nation passed the 19th Amendment allowing every person, regardless of sex, to vote. And in the 1960Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s the Civil Rights Act prohibited discrimination of all kinds based on race, color, religion, or national origin.
But in the AughtÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seem to suddenly regress socially, politically, and mentally once and are again of the mind-set that while every living, breathing soul should be treated equally, not every living, breathing soul should be treated equally.
Who would have ever thought that homosexual marriage Ã¢â‚¬" the simple act of choosing and marrying the person you love Ã¢â‚¬" would actually be more offensive to people than the enslaving and torturing of another human being?
If you were in favor of banning gay marriage, my question to you is: how does this even affect you? Especially women, who were just granted the right to vote not seventy years ago after fighting hard proving our worth; especially African Americans, who only forty years ago won the anti-discrimination century long battle. By allowing gay marriage, what about any of YOUR worlds change? IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m relatively sure that the answer is nothing. Nothing about you or your marriage is altered.
None of your rights are being taken away.
YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re just taking them away from other people.
In a way, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re suddenly back to enslaving people.
Enslaving them to injustice.
One of my biggest sorrows through this whole thing was how so many people were misled with the advertisements that proclaimed gay marriage would be taught in school. This was bogus information and it saddens me people actually fell for this ploy Ã¢â‚¬" more assurance that mankind really are sheep who canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think or reason for themselves. When I was in school we most certainly didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t learn about gay marriage, let alone anything at all about the institution of marriage.
As a matter of fact, most everything I learned about marriage I learned at the kitchen table watching my parents interact, not always so, with one another. If anyone should be disillusioned about marriage it should be children of divorce Ã¢â‚¬" and yet, most of the oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s I know are all for marriage.
Because weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re filled with hope.
Hope for excellent marriages for ourselves and for everyone Ã¢â‚¬" EVERYONE - else who loves abundantly.
Because love, clichÃƒÂ© as it is, is a mighty powerful source.
Maybe itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s me, but I rest-assured knowing that while we lost the battle, we havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t lose the war. After all, only six months ago, gay marriage was legal. For now, in my own quiet way, I will continue to fight the good fight for equality in the state that I love despite the recent smokescreen thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s clouded our good peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s views through the lies theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been manipulated with from false information, deceitful advertisements, and out-of-staterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s who do not know what is best for us and our state (please, stay out of our business Massachusetts).
If you see me around town, look for my rainbow colored scarf . . . which I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t foresee taking off in the near future.
Welcome to Maine, the way life should be.
For some of us that is.
9 years agoSteffasaurus
Vingt-Cinq, or, A Perspective of a Quarter Century of Life
Today I became a Ã¢â‚¬Å“Quarter Centurion.Ã¢â‚¬Â
I knew I was going to have a rough time turning twenty-five. And it had nothing to do with being or feeling Ã¢â‚¬Å“old,Ã¢â‚¬Â it had everything to do with the overwhelming flood of emotions I knew was inevitably going to hit me at some point through the day as I truly came to embrace that a quarter century of unedited life, of my life, has already been lived.
I spent this birthday with my three best friends: my mom, my dad, and my sister. I would have had it no other way. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re the ones that have been with me since I was born lo those twenty-five years ago, they are the ones that love me unconditionally in spite of how quirky or sensitive IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve come to be, they are the ones I pray desperately will be there with me at my Half-Century mark.
But itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been hard for me today to look at them and not start crying.
The older I get the more I realize that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m losing valuable time with them; just me and just them, and no one else. This bothers me tremendously, to the point of tears, that at some very real, very close moment in time IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not going to be a solo act anymore. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know why this is, but IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m scared of losing something special and something sacred. And I realized this birthday might be one of the last years I get to have these people that mean everything to me all to myself. Which is selfish and stupid, but when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re an overly sensitive soul these are the thoughts that creep into your heart when you should be celebrating.
So, as I spent time with each parent today, really studying them Ã¢â‚¬" really enjoying them - I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t help but also wonder if they were proud of me Ã¢â‚¬" proud of the woman IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve become, proud of the daughter IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been. I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t help but wonder if I turned out the way they hoped. If I fulfilled the hopes and dreams they had for me.
And then I wondered if I had been a good enough role model to my sister. I wondered if I had been the faithful friend she needed over the years or if I had stood up enough for her when she couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t defend herself.
Far too heavy thoughts to be having when thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s cake and ice cream.
Eating cheesecake with my dad tonight, I really noticed for the first time how deep the wrinkles in the corners of his eyes (which have grown more tender over the years) are when he laughs. And despite the face not being as smooth and young as it once was, his laugh has never changed. I remember being in bed as a little kid and hearing that loud bark of his travel down the hall when he and my mom would be watching something funny on TV. Even then it comforted me to know that such a hard-working man was happy in that moment. That one moment.
And my heart broke a little as we sat there and reflected on all the horrible things I said and did to him when I was a teenager. I know teens are expected to act out like that, but I wish I hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t (part of the charm of not being able to go back and do something over is for us to be horrified or disappointed by our actions enough so that we can rectify them in the future, I think). I knew then that I had to really embrace every moment I get with him these next twenty-five years. I think heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wonderful. Not only does he know how to make me laugh, and accepts me however bizarre he thinks my beliefs are, but he really is a wealth of wonderful knowledge that I need to not roll my eyes at or sarcastically respond to. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m going to start hugging him more, too Ã¢â‚¬" this is something he stopped doing when I was eight and his grandmother died. He doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know that I know thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s when it stopped, but it did.
And that needs to be changed.
I suppose I know heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s proud of me, though. Just recently, despite the constant nagging about me finding a boy, settling down, and giving him grandchildren, only a couple weeks ago as he was helping me settle into my first apartment all by myself, told me, uncharacteristically, that he thought it would be good for me to be alone for a while. This, as trivial as it may seem, was an unbelievably reassuring statement from him Ã¢â‚¬" it gave me the liberty I needed to spend some time finding myself.
And thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s my sister, who, all of a sudden, is much more closed-off and emotionally restrained than ever before. When I looked at her tonight I just wanted to grab her by the shoulders and tell her that she needed to snap out of the funk she was in. That she needed to realize that every moment was something she needed to be embracing despite how horrible, or angst-filled, or lonely, or overwhelming they were to her. Because it all goes by so fast. And I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want her to miss out on all the wonderful things that happen day in and day out. She already is, and I want nothing but everything for her.
I wanted to tell her this, because IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m that faithful friend that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve always been, who stands-up for her when she canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t defend herself.
Especially now, when she needs to be defended from herself.
continued in comments . . .
9 years agoSteffasaurus
. . . Little Jellyfish
Recently, a friend and I were sitting in her hot tub outside on a beautiful autumn evening. She and I found ourselves in a moment of peaceful quiet when I decided to let her know how much her friendship meant to me.
Me: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I just wanted to let you know that if you ever got stung by a jellyfish, I would pee on you.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The Cake Maker: *without missing a beat* Ã¢â‚¬Å“Awww, thanks. And I would pee on you, too.Ã¢â‚¬Â
*enormous thought-filled pause*
Me: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Although, it would be kind of hard.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The Cake Maker: Ã¢â‚¬Å“What do you mean?Ã¢â‚¬Â
Me: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ya know, to like get in a position where the pee would come out in a straight line on a specific target. I mean, boys do it, but their anatomy is designed for that sort of thing. Ours just . . . well, I think it would be a messy situation. Runny and . . . runny.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The Cake Maker: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Maybe, but you do yoga, so IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m sure youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d be find a successful position.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Me: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yeah, but what about you?Ã¢â‚¬Â
The Cake Maker: *she pauses, and then shakes her head* Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m gonna pop a squat, concentrate real hard, and hope for the best.Ã¢â‚¬Â
*another enormous thought-filled pause*
Me: Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are talking about you peeing on me, you realize.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The Cake Maker: Ã¢â‚¬Å“YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re looking at it the wrong way: weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re talking about me saving your life.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Me: Ã¢â‚¬Å“ . . . well, thanks, I guess.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The Cake Maker: Ã¢â‚¬Å“WhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re real friends for if not to pee on you?Ã¢â‚¬Â
Further proof that fact is better than fiction.
9 years agoSteffasaurus
Book Review: The Ice Cream Theory
Turkey Hill Dairy has a wonderful "Ice Cream Journal" (check out the giant pineapple sundae in the post below mine) where they blog about . . . you guessed it! . . . ice cream! Everything from personal stories to an insiders look at the ice cream making process at Turkey Hill Dairy. This Monday, they wrote a book review about The Ice Cream Theory, along with a Q & A with me (which was soooooo much fun to answer!) AND they're giving out some signed copies of the book as well.
Read the review, checking out the Q & A, and enter to win a copy of the book here!
I couldn't be happier with the kind words they said about the book or how wonderful their fans are - so many great comments left from fellow ice cream lovers! What a great community! Thanks for the support!
Don't you wish we could all just get together for a big giant ice cream social?
9 years agoSteffasaurus
Trick-or-Treat, or, The Most Bittersweet Halloween
Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays.
Which can be chalked up to either my secret fascination and childlike adoration of chocolate cupcakes with orange frosting or, on a much more profound level, the idea of dressing up and pretending to be absolutely anything I want to be without social repercussions for one night of the year.
Perhaps itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s because it suggests the end of autumn. While autumn stretches deep into December, visually and emotionally it seems to come to a quiet end around Halloween. The trees are no longer bursting with vivid colors; theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve become skeletons Ã¢â‚¬" all limbs and no foliage. Meanwhile, people seem to subconsciously switch gears as they let go of corn mazes and apple picking and refocus their attention on the holiday stretch that the last two months of the year have come to embody.
Perhaps my love of Halloween also stems from the significance of another closing chapter, from another change that is as inevitable as the seasons. Halloween also signifies the end of another year of life for me, and the beginning of another. While my birthday falls two days after the holiday, my parents always made sure that celebrations for it were a three-day affair, starting on Halloween, coursing through the first of November, and ending triumphantly on my actual November second birthday.
This year Halloween is a particularly bittersweet event as it not only indicates the end of a quarter-century of my life in this world; but, it also is the end of a lifelong bet with my mom.
I have never not loved trick-or-treating. My Mom used to pick up my sister and I from school and weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d rush home to put on our costumes before visiting all the aunts and uncles who lived in town to do some trick-or-treating, and for me, birthday gift collecting as well.
WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d save my grandparents for last. My momÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s parents always made sure that whatever our favorite candy was at that moment, they had for us in abundance. Meanwhile, my dadÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s parents always made all the grandkids (and there were a lot of us) brown paper bags filled with a juice box (a tradition started by my great grandmother, or Ã¢â‚¬Å“GrammieÃ¢â‚¬Â as we called her), popcorn balls, gum, peanut butter filled crackers and other really random not-particularly-Halloween related food items. SheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d line up the brown paper bags and write our individual names on them.
Windows rolled down, a pillowcase full of candy from my family sitting at my feet; I used to revel in this final day of October as we drove home for supper before my dad would take us around the neighborhood for more candy begging. I always joked on these drives home that I would go trick-or-treating forever (as little kids are prone to making such grandiose declarations)! My momÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s response was that if I could go trick-or-treating until I was thirty, sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d give me fifty bucks. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m sure she was joking when she first said it, since thirty, when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a kid, seems like a hundred years away, but it stuck somewhere deep in the recesses of my then young brain.
As I entered high school, still trick-or-treating despite how lame my friends thought it was, my mom told me kindly that maybe I should go to a Halloween party instead, or, maybe even have some friends over to watch horror movies and eat pizza with Ã¢â‚¬" something like that. Ã¢â‚¬Å“But, you said,Ã¢â‚¬Â a wide-eyed teenage me would begin, Ã¢â‚¬Å“that you would give me thirty bucks if I could go trick-or-treating until I was thirty.Ã¢â‚¬Â
My mom had no response. She had, after all, made that claim. So, I continued to trick-or-treat through high school, always starting at my grandparentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s houses before conning some friend to come with me around my neighborhood. They, I know, were secretly exploding with excitement that they had an excuse to be a kid again for the night as their parents had long ago stopped allowing them to go as it was seen as Ã¢â‚¬Å“childish.Ã¢â‚¬Â
As I was leaving the house to go trick-or-treating in college (and then out to the bars, of course, so I could partake in drunken Halloween revelry), my mom blocked the door frame, her eyes burning with impatience. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Give it up, child of mine,Ã¢â‚¬Â she demanded.
I glared at her. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Never. You said fifty bucks. And as long as I still look like a teenager, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m going trick-or-treating. Deal with it.Ã¢â‚¬Â
My sister became my cohort in these Halloween adventures, as my friends absolutely refused to go trick-or-treating anymore, but encouraged me as everyone then knew about the bet my mom had made with me. And so weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d hit up the grandparents, who would roll their eyes at us. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d visit my dad and stepmom, who would roll their eyes at us. And then weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d visit our old neighborhood, and (after rolling their eyes at us) would ask, Ã¢â‚¬Å“DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t you think youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a little old to be trick-or-treating?Ã¢â‚¬Â
Yet, still, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d hand us over candy.
A couple years ago, my sister and I showed up at my momÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s house. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Trick or treat!Ã¢â‚¬Â We yelled, holding out our pillowcases (with our favorite candy from our momÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mom; and our brown paper bags of goodies from our dadÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mom Ã¢â‚¬" our grandfatherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s having passed on).
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I will give you thirty bucks right now in cash if you stop.Ã¢â‚¬Â My exasperated mother said as she dropped more of our favorite candy into our bags.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You told her fifty bucks,Ã¢â‚¬Â my sister chipped in.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“THIS ISNÃ¢â‚¬â„¢T YOUR BATTLE!Ã¢â‚¬Â My mom exploded at her before calmly turning back to me. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Thirty bucks, Loin Fruit. Take it now.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Continued in comments . . .
9 years agoSteffasaurus
We go to Salem, Massachusetts for our annual Halloween trip. As we get out of the car, I roll the pant legs of my jeans up. My dad looks me up and down and says, "You look like a fucking pirate."
The first store we walk into, wouldn't you know, was selling pirate stuff. "I will buy you pirate stuff if you promise to wear it for the rest of the day - I mean, you're halfway there with the pants and the red hair thing." So, I do it. I mean, what the hell right? The town is swarming with witches, fairies, ghouls, zombies, and video game characters - dressing as a pirate is pretty mild.
I don my pirate stuff in true Captain Morgan fashion to take a picture.
My father starts laughing his ass off before loudly announcing to all of Essex St.:
"I just realized that you're like the fucking smallest pirate in the history of marine crime."
I then took my sword and slashed the cigarette out of my sister's mouth.
So here's to me: The Smallest Pirate in the History of Marine Crime.
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