I was on hiatus from posting last week and it’s difficult to say what came first: my foul, discombobulated mood, or my failure to write. Not posting upsets me and sometimes, an upset me cannot post. Either way, I’ve been off.
People kept telling me that they were so relieved to see the last of their fruit flies vacate their kitchens. I rejoiced with them, of course, but also mourned, as all their refugee flies showed up at my house with their tiny suitcases. My husband, who I refer as “Lord of the Flies,” insists on keeping the vacuum out all the time now. So it sits there mid-room, a hideous behemoth, waiting to suck tiny, pesky lives into dusty oblivion. And then there’s my allergies, (to fruit flies, perhaps?) which have caused biblical sneezing. The duration, the repetition, the velocity – truly remarkable.
But enough of that! Listen: I am experiencing, just in time for All Saints Day, an unexpected haunting from my Great Grandmother. Yes, yes, I know, I have written about her twice recently, but listen still: I thought she was going to go away. I thought she would sink back into the land of the silent, undemanding dead. But she gently, persistently appears (not literally, but the week isn’t over yet) and clearly, she wants something else from me. She has something more to impart from her 98 year storehouse of mortal wisdom (plus 31 years of afterlife experience).
My older daughter’s school makes a huge celebration of the Day of the Dead. Since she is my great-grandmother’s namesake, my Phoebe decided to celebrate her life with a shrine, hence the reappearance of GG Phebie. GGP floats around here, marveling at my computer and wondering why I don’t smile more. What’s that vertical crease between your eyes, she wonders? That’s a Bitch Wrinkle, I reply off-handedly.
Though I was not a fan of Halloween until I had children and started to think they looked adorable in their costumes, I have long been an appreciator of All Saints’ Day. In the Lutheran Church, everyone is a Saint. Okay, it’s true that everyone is also a Sinner, but that’s obvious (All Sinners’ Day doesn’t have the same ring and besides, what’s that? Just an ordinary day). I love the idea that I am a Saint. Nevermind the word I uttered when I tripped over the vacuum this morning, I AM A SAINT. Okay, in the Catholic tradition, I actually am not, until it’s proven that I performed some miracles but speaking of miracles, wait until you taste my Mexican Wedding Cakes!
My daughter and I made these together for the celebration. They are also referred to as Russian/Latvian Tea Cakes; many cultures claim them because they are so tasty. They have always been my favorite of my mother’s cookies, and the woman makes outstanding cookies. She doesn’t bother very often now because she plays competitive tennis and kicking people’s asses leaves her only enough energy to scrub her house from top to bottom every day and keep herself looking younger than me. But back when she was a real mom, she made these cookies.
Miraculous Mexican Wedding Cakes
1 cup of butter at room temperature
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
Mix first three ingredients until well-blended. Sift the flour and salt together and mix in with the wet ingredients until just blended, then add nuts and mix again until just distributed in dough. Refrigerate dough while you preheat your oven to 400 degrees. I use a small scoop for these but you can roll them in your hands to create 1″ balls. Bake for 10 minutes. While still warm, roll them in powdered sugar. The sugar will stick best while they are still sweaty. It will also stick to you, if you are sweaty. Later you can give the cookies another dusting.
As I regarded our snowy-white, buttery batch with satisfaction, I heard a voice say: “You could stand to smile more. And take it easy on the cookies.” Was that my GGP speaking from beyond the grave? Nope, just my mom on the phone.