|HOT CROSS BUNS, FROM SCRATCH|
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...
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 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....