Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Rank Amateur.

Last night before I went to bed I noticed a little something on the radar sliding through North Georgia and I thought, Maybe that is a little something, but we were not forecast for anything, and even the place where the little something actually was wasn't forecast for anything, so I climbed in bed and read and scratched the dog between the ears until she got pissy and groaned and got up and left.

But right now we are getting a gorgeous little sleet/rain/snow mix and we might get it for ten or twenty minutes more. This is nothing, but still. We got a Special Weather Statement out of it, and even more special, I can hear whatever it is that's coming down ticking the rhododendron leaves outside the front of the house.

Today's an odd day: I'm making a few GMCs (Grandmother cookies) so-named and made popular on my dad's side of the family by first my great-grandmother and then her daughter, my Aunt Nancy, my grandmother's sister. Christmas cookies of the old variety, small decorated things that A.N. used to bring to our house at Christmas. Rolled balls and sandwiches and thin wafers and cut-out moons. She'd come off the plane with a handled shopping bag full of shirt boxes, in their turn full of cookies. Inside, in packages of twelve or sixteen, ten or fifteen varieties of GMCs wrapped in Saran (she pronounced the first syllable heavy, like "Sarah").

My great-grandmother is long dead and A.N. about eighteen months ago had a series of huge strokes that left her eventually institutionalized. I sent her pictures of the garden last winter, because she and I shared these sacraments: cooking, gardening. She didn't Teach Me How To Bake or anything like that. But she did let me help her the year she broke her wrist and showed up with ingredients for the ones she needed two hands for. I was twelve or thirteen years old. We moved her out of her apartment last year. Packed the whole thing up. I drove the pickup to Binghamton. Now I've got my great-grandfather's green leather chair and most of A.N.'s old baking gear: glass pie pans and aluminum measuring cups and wood-handled spatulas.

Nowhere to go from here. Don't say you're happy it's rainsnowing. Don't say tradition or family or anything like that. This is not the place to mention an overriding fear not so much of death but debilitation. Make the cookies. Check the radar. Make sure you've got enough Saran.

What else to say? This is all from that side of the family where the Boy Scout Law was something like that hand-written copy of the Magna Carta Ross Perot auctioned off last night. I've managed to carve out my own little space up here in NC, but if the weather's from my grandfather, and these cookies are from A.N., so be it. Can't write this down without noting that they -- A.N. and my great-grandmother -- sent my father GMCs when he was in Vietnam. He'd written home, said that was all he wanted. And that's what he got. Victorian goddamn tea party cookies in a war zone in SE Asia.

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