Over the weekend I drove the two hours to my daughter’s house to help set the stage for a milestone birthday party planned Saturday night for my mother’s birthday. I’m not at liberty to divulge which milestone birthday as my mum has lied about her age for so many years not even those of us in her inner circle are certain we’re privy to her actual date of birth. About ten years ago she actually passed me by and I suddenly found myself five years older than my own mother. Needless to say, this became somewhat awkward at social gatherings.
Truly I am blessed. At her stage of life often people have stopped participating in the world around them and, to put it somewhat clumsily, seem to be waiting to die. Mother is firing all pistons. She’s still enjoying a Manhattan on the rocks at cocktail hour, driving like Mario Andretti, and is fully present in every way in our lives. I will always be thankful for this. I mentioned an inspirational speaker I’d listened to recently several blogs ago. During his talk he said “life is not meant to be a safe journey to death. It is meant to be lived.” Certainly this has been a truism with respect to my mother.
It was a fun get together. It is not often enough all of us find ourselves under one roof. All grandchildren on my side of the family, some with boyfriends in tow were present. I experienced the X-Box hands on for the first time. I lost at table tennis, volleyball, and boxing, the latter of which I was told by my grandson required absolutely no skill whatsoever, which, it appears, accurately describes my skill level. A humiliating defeat, particularly, when your opponents don’t reach the tip of your nose. Good exercise though. I’m thinking seriously of putting one on my list to Santa.
The choice of dessert was the birthday girl’s favorite, cheesecake. Two were ordered, one with glazed fruit and a plain one to used as the base for the special candle I purchased. Yellow plastic, the candle looked like a closed lotus blossom when removed from the box. According to the instructions, a small stick included was to be used to light the wick tucked on the inside of the opening at the top of the unit. Once lit, a sparkling fireworks type display would occur, followed by the petals opening with lit candles on the tips of each one. All this was to happen while “Happy Birthday” played in the background. Very cool.
Not reading directions it seems is a family trait. My son, the designated lighter of the flame, opted to use a standard long lighter such as you would light a fire in the fireplace, rather than the stick provided by the manufacturer. Still, the fireworks went off on cue and the blossom opened with lit candles, greeted by the appropriate “ooh’s and aah’s” from the viewing audience. “Happy Birthday” began to play soon afterwards. Yea! Not in the general overview, however, nor pictured on either side of the box, the lower petals suddenly burst into flame.
Someone attempted to grab the blooming fire with an oven mitt. Not a bad idea really, were it not for the fact fabric is also flammable. Now, there were two fires burning cheerily in the kitchen. All we needed were marshmallows, graham crackers and some chocolate pieces to enjoy s’mores all around. I grabbed the metal salad tongs. Using them as transport while dripping plastic, I relocated the burning molten glob to the sink. All the while, Happy Birthday was still jauntily playing. I doused the fire copiously with water along with the simmering oven mitt still smoldering. Remarkably, the music lingered on. Instructions said to stop the music, snip the small wire at the top of the bloom. I am here to report this to be inaccurate. Next, I dropped the bloody thing in a bowl of water. Muffled but steady, the music continued, now accompanied by tiny bubbles floating to the surface. Really? In the end, my granddaughter’s boyfriend removed the small music box from the unit and crushed it beneath his boot, never to sing again. Truly the day the music died. Scraping excess plastic off the top, we ate cake and toasted with champagne. Looking back I wish I’d gotten a picture of the blaze for posterity but I was too busy trying to keep from burning the house down. Too funny.
On a totally unrelated subject, not to be overly optimistic, as I don’t like to begin celebrating until the candles are actually lit (keeping on theme) and the fat lady is banging out her rendition of Happy Days Are Here to Stay, I believe we have at last found a new home. If all things go well we will be moving within the next thirty days. I am so relieved. Two years of living out of boxes, is about a year and three hundred and sixty four days too long. The other day I found myself wishing I had a pig serving dish I saw in a catalog. Showing it to my other half, I hinted if he was looking for something to put on my birthday list this would be a nice addition. Looking at it, he said we already had such an item. I had totally forgotten. Most likely it is packed in one of the boxes marked “hall closet”. It’s been so long since I’ve seen all these things I have no idea what I have and what I need. Should be exciting to unpack.
Sooooo, my thoughts for today. These are my daughter’s green beans. They’re the best.
Heather’s Creamy Garlic Green Beans
2 lbs. green beans, trimmed
1/2 cube butter, sliced in 1″ slices
8 cubes garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 quart whipping cream
Place green beans in deep skillet. Cover with salted water. Bring to boil over med.-high heat. Cook until crisp tender. Drain and set aside.
Melt butter in skillet over med. heat. Add garlic. Cook until garlic is fragrant, about 3 mins. Return beans to pan. Season with salt and pepper. Pour 1 quart of heavy cream over beans.
Bring to rolling boil. Cover and cook until beans are fork tender.
Remove cover and continue cooking until sauce is reduced by 1/2. Adjust seasoning as necessary.