Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter Treats

Happy Easter!

When Jimmy and I bought our first home, I could not have been happier.  Little did I know but there was a bonus wrapped up in the sale of that home -  a neighbor who would become my tennis partner, a walking buddy, someone to have coffee with, tea with, go to the beach with, share stories and dinners with, exercise with, share recipes with, belly dance with or do projects with.  And, Easter always makes me think of her.  

Gail and I would get involved in creating Easter confections for our children.  As I remember, the first year it was a cute bunny cake covered with colored frosting and lots of coconut and jelly beans.  

                                                                                 Photo from Bing

The next year, we added coconut eggs dipped in milk chocolate with the recipient's name written in icing on each one.  These, we placed around the dinner table as place cards.

                                                                                Photo from Bing

But the piece de resistance was our sugar eggs with an Easter scene diorama inside.  Gail and I used her grandmother's molds and her grandmother's recipe.  We had no idea how many hours we would spend creating these.  Mixing the sugar and egg white mixture to the right consistency, filling the egg molds, letting them dry - but just a little. Then, we would scoop out the inside to make it hollow and watch it crumble in our hands and need start over.  We adventually mastered the technique and were so excited to present our children with this magical Easter surprise. 

                                                                             Photo from Bing

 Whenever I see these eggs for sale, or the chocolate coconut eggs, or make a bunny cake, I think of Gail and the fun times we had being young stay at home moms and best of friends!

                                                            The two of us with Gail's triplet Grandsons


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Flying HIgh

                      "He would look up at me with those
                    big brown eyes and I would just melt"
         That was what my Mom would say when referring
           to my brother.  As she called him, "Little Mal"

If his children wanted a monkey, they would have it.  He owned a sheep ranch, and campgrounds, a Chinese junk, a hotel,  a Caribbean island home, a house at the shore, and a farm in Pennsylvania. His motto was 'family recreation is the key to happiness'.  And, I was included in this wonderful life! 
                        But his true thrill was in the air.

Being so much younger than Mal, I have no idea what led him to the life of adventure he chose.  I do know that 2 months after he was born,  Charles Lindbergh made the first crossing of the Atlantic in an airplane and Lindbergh was in the news through most of my brother's early years.  Visiting faraway places through air travel was new and I'm sure he wanted to be a part of this cutting edge lifestyle.   

I also know that he was a pole vaulter in high school and college and competed in national championships.  Could that short spurt of flying through the air have had an impact? I don't know..

 I remember when I was seven and at a friend's house.  A commercial came on her radio saying in a sing song tune 
                                  " Fly, Sky Coach!"

This was my brother's business and I can still hear the tune.  

My sisters, my uncle and my cousin all were involved in those beginning days.  

                             Then his business took off! 

Whether it was helping to make sandwiches for the passengers, or flying in one of his planes, I was part of his adventurous lifestyle. 

     Mal, what a great life we had.  But, you left too soon!
                        Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Pelican

                        A pelican on a post, standing in the sand,

floating in the water,  or flying by, reminds me of my father...

Daddy was one that always enjoyed fishing.  When my children were young and we visited my parents in Florida, a fishing excursion was a must.              

I can still see my toddler, Andy, standing next to a pelican, a few inches taller than him.  Jimmy and Tammy learning to cast, and reel in fish on the inter coastal 

with my father right at there side.  Just as that fish was brought ashore, a pelican arriving to chomp on that catch. 

                           Today, as I look out at that water, 
I can still hear my father's voice as he quoted the limerick by Dixon Lanier Merritt

                      "A wonderful bird is the Pelican,
                       His bill will hold more than his belican.
                       He can take in his beak
                       Enough food for a week!
                       But I'll be darned if I know how the helican?"                                           

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Escape From Alcatraz

As my California family and I took a boat ride around San Francisco Bay, looking out at the Isle of Pelicans, better known as Alcatraz, I could feel the cold breeze, the rough sea, and the splashes of icy cold water.  To think my son, Jimmy, the next morning, would be jumping from a ferry boat anchored off the rocky coast of this island into the frigid water and taking part in The Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon, was too hard to fathom!

Alcatraz became the home of some of California's worse criminals just because of its location, a mile and a half off the San Francisco coast.  Extremely rough currents and the cold, shark infested water made it impossible for a prisoner to survive.  Thirty three years ago, a group of triathletes did try, and made it.  Since then, it has become one of the most prestigious and challenging triathlons in the world.
Usually, the event is held in June with the lunar moon deciding when the tides and currents would be right for the swim. 

San Francisco was chosen to host The America's Cup Race this June,  changing the date to March 2nd for the 'Escape', making the air and water temperatures that much more cold.  The starting time, 7:30 a.m., was set according to the moon but a surprise cruise ship decided to sail four hours early, delaying the race by half an hour, causing the current to be even meaner.

The California cousins and I were standing on the beach when it was announced that the first swimmer had jumped from the boat.  
Within six minutes, the last of over two thousand triathletes had to be in the water.  My fear let go to tears, as I waited.  Soon, the first couple of heads were bobbing in sight. 

Then, more and more.  As they ran ashore and through the time clock, we searched to spot Jimmy.  Hundreds of black wet suits, where was he?

I wandered away from the rest of my watching family.  Leaving them with my phone.  Now, I was lost, not knowing if Jimmy was yet on land.  I could see a multitude of swimmers being carried toward the open sea by the heavy currents.  

Where was Jimmy??  In a panic, I headed a mile back to the bike transition point to see if his bike was still there.  I came upon my niece, Lucy, and was told that Jimmy was almost to the half way point of the 18 mile bike ride. I could relax.

We shouted as he returned on the bike ride and screamed encouragement as he left on the nine mile run.

The best part was seeing him cross the finish line, looking as if he had just gone for a walk around the block.

We were one big, happy family at that line, making plans for next year and maybe, even having more family involved in relays.

This morning as I awoke, I thought of the excitement and fun of yesterday.  I am so proud of Jimmy being able to accomplish this.  His discipline, his determination, and his fitness are just a part of what makes him the special person that he is today.  But Jimmy, one Escape From Alcatraz is enough! Love you, and, Congratulations! Mommy

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Breath of Spring

Winter seems to last forever in New England.  My father once told me that spring comes to New England two weeks later than to Philadelphia.  Wouldn't we all love a breath of spring right now? Philadelphia is about to enjoy it - The Philadelphia Flower Show is opening it's doors this weekend with a  British 'Brilliant' theme.

Photo from the Philadelphia Flower Show Website

The Philadelphia Flower Show is a trip down memory lane for me.  My cousin, Bruce Robertson, told me my grandfather had participated and won a medal for his entry in what was then called The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in 1906.

The Pennsylvania  Horticultural Society held it's first exhibition in 1827.  At that time the focus was on single plants,shrubs, flowers and trees, the exhibitor's prized specimens..  Today, The Philadelphia Flower Show has grown into the largest flower show in the world having over 250,000 visitors annually with the most breathtakingly beautiful displays.

I remember when I was young, spending hours at the convention center where the Flower Show was to be held.  That year, the theme must have been roses and our family business was creating a back  courtyard.  A used brick pathway with grass on either side meandered up to a white trellis arch, covered with pink and white climbing  roses.  

This was the entrance to a brick terrace, surrounded by a  privet hedge of boxwoods.  At the far side, there was a facade of a house with French doors opening to the courtyard.  White wrought iron furniture was arranged as seating and dining in preparation for a garden party.
Gorgeous varieties of pink and white roses were in pots, urns and climbing or cascading throughout. 

           I can still feel the excitement and smell the fragrances I experienced as a child that day.

The gift of horticulture and design which began with my grandfather is still present in the Robertson family.  We are a group of  designers, writers, poets and artists who love to have our hand in the soil.  The store, he founded almost 100 years ago is thriving.  Robertson's are still taking part in the Philadelphia Flower Show and winning prizes.  Their exhibit this year, I'm sure will be simply 'Brilliant'!

                                          Photo from Robertson's Flowers Blog with bench dedicated to my grandfather

For us in Boston, we must wait another two weeks for our breath of spring and the Boston Flower Show.