Monday, April 1, 2013

THE RESURRECTION












HOT CROSS BUNS, FROM SCRATCH
MIRANDA'S SHOES
MIRANDA, ALSO AMAZING, IS JULIA'S DAUGHTER AND
THE MOTHER OF FOUR,
THE YOUNGEST OF WHOM WAS BORN MERE MONTHS AGO!
CRAZY GOOD CARAMELIZED MATZOH CRUNCH
WITH CHOCOLATE AND PISTACHIOS...
THERE WAS A WHITE CHOCOLATE VERSION, TOO...
BERRY TART WITH NUT CRUST,
HOME-MADE BY AARON'S SISTER HELENA


This is the Easter feast, courtesy of my friends Julia and Aaron, in which I got to partake Sunday.

I've been thinking about how the telling of a good story, the writing of a great play, the composition of a beautiful piece of music is a good in and of itself  (see Flannery O'Connor via Jacques Maritain).

Just so with our lives. I'm sure I have learned more about what it is to be a stand-up human being from my friend Julia than I could/would have from reading any number of books about theology.

The above is a typical holiday meal at the Lipstadt/Gibson manse. The Easter brunch came on the heels of a full-on Jewish Seder, prayers/songs/service orchestrated by Aaron's sister Helena, food more or less orchestrated by Julia, that had taken place THE NIGHT BEFORE. They pull out  all the stops for that, too: Bedouin gear, living room furniture rearranged to form cushioned floor seating, the lamb shank, the bitter herbs, the charoset, the roasted egg...this is with four grand-children by the way, three under the age of 8 (my godchildren!)...

Julia and I ten years ago at an artist's residency, the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, which at the time had no electricity. We residents cooked and refrigerated with iffy gas generators, read by kerosene lamps, wrote long-hand, and rose and set with the sun.

One night four of us arranged to meet for a potluck. I brought vegetable dumplings I'd bought frozen at the Korean grocery, sauteed slapdash in oil, and plunked down on the table with a jar of soy sauce. Someone else brought pita chips and hummus. Julia arrived with a stout wicker hamper out of which she produced a full bone china tea set, a whole poached salmon, a stack of cucumber sandwiches, and--okay, I may be embellishing, but only slightly--a caramelized pear and sour cream tart.

Julia can iron, embroider, sew, cook, bake, knit, preserve, arrange flowers, draw maps to aid in Easter egg hunting; soothe, bathe, entertain, and instruct children of all ages; give wildly smart, funny, and entertaining exegeses of books, movies, and day-to-day life; and take plaster molds of bear paw prints on the land around her and Aaron's mountain aerie outside Taos. She's an organizer, scheduler, trip planner, packer, and crafter extraordinaire.

Here, for example, is my place card from last Thanksgiving--part of a set Julia dashed off for the guests that day with illustrations from some gorgeous old book of Russian fairy tales:

I LOVED THIS SO MUCH I ASKED JULIA TO SAVE IT FOR ME.
IT IS NOW IN MY ROOM...
I once asked, "Have you by chance ever made beeswax candles?" "Oh sure, I have a whole set of gear somewhere in the cellar," she replied. "The molds, the wicks, the wax--you might want to try the sheets; you can cut out all kinds of interesting designs. I think I even have a special crock pot for melting"....(I, of course, ended up just buying a dozen candles off ebay). You might be picturing a pioneer type, but Julia's also willowy, lithe, and drop-dead beautiful (Sunday, after cooking back-to-back holiday meals, she glided out to greet me in a floor-length gauzy white dress, lettuce-green scarf draped about her neck, a whisk in one hand and a small grandchild in the other).

Julia is also an incredible writer.  Her YA novel, Copper Magic, is due from Tor Books in 2014. Here's her award-winning story "Cloud Food", published in the Michigan Quarterly Review: an utterly unique blend of poetry, jazz, soul, smarts, and heart. You can get a better sense of her life and work at Julia Mary Gibson.



AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION...
THE JUICE CENTER:
ORANGE, GRAPEFRUIT, CELERY, APPLE, CARROT
AND YOU WONDER WHY WE LIVE IN SOUTHERN CAL!
A BIT OF THE BACK YARD--
YOU MAY REMEMBER MY 60th BIRTHDAY PARTY TOOK PLACE HERE.
IT WAS A LITTLE TOO COOL TO SIT OUTSIDE SUNDAY...
I always feel welcomed, treasured and loved by the extended family (upon which I've barely touched), which would be a big deal under any circumstances and has been a particularly big deal for me as I have no extended family in L.A.

I always feel consoled, comforted, and rejuvenated when I leave. 

And I always come home with a ton of leftovers. There's a story about that somewhere. I think it's called the miracle of the loaves and the fishes. I think the capacity to welcome the stranger is just what Christ meant when he said, Go out to the world and bear fruit that will last....

LIGHTING THE PASCHAL CANDLE
COURTYARD, OUR LADY OF THE ANGELS CATHEDRAL
EASTER VIGIL, 2013
SUNSET OVER SILVER LAKE,
EASTER NIGHT





5 comments:

  1. OHMYGOD! The photographs of the feast are delightful to the eyes, and I can only begin to imagine how much more appealing to the sense of taste and smell the actual feast was! I've dreamed of putting my domestic and artistic talent to work in creating the finest celebration of holidays, as your friend Julia has, but as my Easter Sunday single serving of a basic pasta, humus and pepper topped cucumbers, and a mojito proved, that desire has remained simply a dream.
    And as far as Julia is concerned - to write from a fox's perspective! How original! And although I was at first tempted to say what an honor it is to have been published by the Michigan Quarterly Review (I am a UofM fan) it was such a nice piece I don't know I'm able to recognize her as the one honored here - perhaps she did the honor to UofM for sharing her writing with them!
    Happy Easter Monday!

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  2. I cannot get this post out of my mind. This is HOME. This is the carved-out place of refreshment where all who enter feel enveloped by love and comfort. What a place to just be yourself while probably being inspired to leave a better person because of all you've experienced there. Between your writing and Julia who inspired it, I could feel the true hospitality and warmth. What a blessing it is to be gifted with such people in our lives! Happy Easter.

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  3. You have amazing friends for one reason: YOU are amazing. To prove my point contrary-wise....I was invited on Easter for hot dogs and potato chips. gasp...get me some water....

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  4. What a beautiful celebration! And your friend Julia sounds amazing. I want to be like her when I grow up. What a blessing to have such good friends!

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  5. Beautiful. The whole darn thing.

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