Last night I ate a Mozartkugel, a Austrian/German confection I’d never heard of before. Someone brought it to book club for the discussion of “The Afterlife of Stars.” It set me to thinking about favorite candy that I’ve loved. Chocolate has always been the favorite, changing over the years from gooey sweetness like Mounds bars to the darkest of dark chocolates I love now. Now I happily down the 85% cocoa bars that I would have found bitter as a younger person.
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Last year was a hard one. The new year brings with it a list of things to remember. It’s now time to write 2018 first among them. But more seriously, we all need to remember that everything passes and eventually things will take a turn for the better. If we work for it, that is. The advice to be the change is still needed in this new year. Let’s make it a good one, please.
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Tired, she muttered. She stretched, moaned, and stood beside the bed. Yep, still alive. Who was that guy in the bar? She turned quickly to look in her bed. Empty. Whew! At least she hadn’t done that. She stumbled toward the bathroom. Wait. There was a phone number scrawled on her arm in fat, black marker.
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Waverly slowly became aware. She had a raging headache. Her hands were tied behind her. She was in a rough wooden box of some kind – she couldn’t stretch out. For a long time she tried kicking her way out, but she couldn’t get much leverage for her kicks. She paused, breathless, and heard the buzzing of a mosquito. It landed on her cheek.
It’s funny how many kinds of holiday food I loved in my childhood haven’t made it to the table in the present. I know why – my children didn’t like the same things, so I didn’t fix them. I long for mincemeat pit and cinnamon apples, pea salad and stuffed celery. The one thing we can all agree on, ripe olives, disappear so fast you’d think they were zapped by a ray gun. Food is part of the holiday experience, but having family around is more important to me.
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When my babies were tiny I wished they would talk to me so I’d know what they were crying about. When they were teens I wished they would talk to me so I could help them through the perils of high school. Now they are grown and they talk to me about all the other things that adults talk about: overwork, horrifying political events, worries over their kids, being stretched to the limit. I didn’t manage to raise them to have a better life than mine, which makes me sad.
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I don’t know how that particular recipe for mashed potatoes became the centerpiece of holiday meals. It’s been that way for several years. Everyone loves those potatoes and looks forward to them more than the pie or any other goodies at holidays. I could say it is the cream cheese and sour cream that get beaten into the mix, but it’s more than that. It’s about something special just for family. The . . .
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It’s a plaid Pendleton wool shirt that used to belong to my dad. If I wear it long enough to get it warmed up, I can smell my dad’s sweat. I don’t do that very often, just when I really miss him and know his smell will make me feel closer to him. I have other things of his – his pocket knife, a carved duck – but they don’t carry a scent like that shirt. It takes me back to . . .
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The mambo is popular in my exercise class, but the dance I learned early and used all my life for every kind of music imaginable is the two step. Not the country-western two step they do in Texas dance halls. The two step that is two steps one way and one step back. It works for swing, rock, even techno dancing. You know that old saw about how the world would be a happy place if every child was given a ukulele at birth? Well, I add that every child should be taught to do the two step as soon as they are steady on their feet.
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Ten knew she had to decide. Was she going to turn to her friends, playing a game with their stuffed animals in a tent on the floor? Or was she going to leave all that behind and tell her mother what went on in her room at night? She’d tried to talk to her mother before, but she was brushed off. But now she was Ten. She’d just had a birthday. Surely her mother would pay attention now that she was Ten.
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