So: trip down memory lane

I’ve spent the past couple of days visiting with my parents. The place where they live these days is not one of the many homes I grew up in. It has become somewhat familiar over the past 14 years, but truthfully I have not visited here as much as I should have. I’ve met up with my parents in another of other places, usually with lots of other people around.

This time I had them all to myself.

There was a lot of show and tell, mostly because my parents are avid travelers these days. So there were hours of hearing lots of stories, showing of souvenirs, flipping through amazing photos of exotic and not-so-exotic locales. We ate a lot of food. We drove around in their golf cart. My mom and I spent a couple hours at the pool. We just hung out.

But one of the other things that I did was go through a big box of stuff that my mom tells me that I wanted to save so she’s moved it several times. And at this point, she wants it out of the garage. (She also offered me some vintage Daisy covered 1960s outdoor cups, a matching ice bucket, and a matching pitcher that she had in the garage. She’ll ship them to me.)


picture from etsy of a similar daisy ice bucket and tumblers that my mom wants out of her house

By the way, I had no recollection of this box or putting things into this tattered box.

I put off digging through it until after dinner tonight because there was so much reading involved. You see, in amongst certificates earned for playing the piano, programs for long ago violin concerts, science fair programs, attendance and field day certificates, a couple of sweet love letters from a very articulate high school boyfriend, a few pieces of jewelry, 80s LPs, some trinkets from my grandparents’ vacations, and a bit of random proof that at one time in my life I could do math, I found many reasons why there was no other life’s work meant for me besides writing (well, maybe except for farming, but I consider that a Plan B career possibility).

I also found BandAid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?"

In addition to this classic, I also found BandAid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”


The box was crammed full of paper. But what was obviously important to me were the words on the piles of paper (and the grades earned).

So tonight I:
-read a completely incoherent “story” that I wrote and illustrated in kindergarten.
-found countless book reports and essays marked with neat A+ grades, some with the occasional comment in red about my atrocious spelling.
-saw how I could put together very technical hand drawn graphs, charts, maps, and handwritten copy and make a lovely presentation.
-enjoyed a “book” I titled Absurdities which had bizarre drawings of things like a four-legged woman and a pink cat and crazy descriptions that made me wonder if my teachers in the 1970s were feeding us kids mind altering substances.
-continued to see a pattern with poor spelling and frustrated teachers who wanted to give me a lower grade for my sloppiness, but couldn’t because they were amused by the work (and the drawings).
-laughed at heartfelt (but horrible) attempts at poetry, elementary school journalism, and even 4th grade marketing.
-chuckled at a couple of “memoirs” that date back to high school days.

But one thing was clear as I flipped through these ancient relics of my childhood, I loved to write. And I found my voice, my life’s work, and my joy at an early age, but didn’t know it. I am so lucky to have these gifts—and to have had them with me for such a long time. I must never forget that they’ve been a part of me since practically the very beginning — and kindergarten was oh so very long ago. And I can rest easy knowing that spelling has always been an issue for me. I am not losing that gift. I never had it!

I’m trying hard not to be a packrat (I’ve already gone through many “treasures” from high school and college and whittled them down to a very few pieces that are stashed in my closet at home.) While most of this crumbling debris is destined for the recycling bin in the morning, some of it is coming back to Dallas with me as a not-so-subtle reminder that no matter what, writing is what I’m meant to do.

Today’s gratuitous dog photo features the boys:

photo 1

Stoic Guinness and anxious George anxiously await my return home • photo by Bruce





Sow: cupcake tree

Ok, there’s no such thing, but believe me, if there was I’d certainly add it to the collection of plants in the Mortroski Midcentury Urban Farm. Baking’s always been something that I love to do. However, I find that as the years march on, eating the stuff I make is no longer all that appealing to me. And I don’t have as much time as I’d like to make more elaborate desserts. How nice it would be to head outside cupcake carrier in hand and pluck the number needed fresh from the tree. Hopefully they’d have a grafted version with vanilla, red velvet, coconut, and chocolate all growing together.

white cupcakes, decorated and ready to go

white cupcakes, decorated and ready to go

Since my dream tree doesn’t exist, last night my old friend Duncan gave me a hand. He and I have been pals since I was old enough to use the mixer and turn on the oven. Betty plays second fiddle to Duncan when it’s cupcake time. What?!? I don’t grab a Barefoot Contessa/Nigella Lawson/Martha Stewart/other famous baker’s cookbook and start from scratch?

Hell no.

I’ve done it. And when it comes to cupcakes, Duncan Hinds is what everyone wants despite Sprinkles’ success. Why? Because eating a cupcake makes you feel like you’re 6 years old again when that cupcake was HUGE and you were so excited it was all yours. (By the way, that’s my theory for the size of the Sprinkles ones too. They are huge even by adult standards.) Unless your mom is Martha Stewart, Mom’s cupcakes were probably lovingly made by taking a box of cake mix made by Duncan Hinds or Betty Crocker, mixing it up with eggs, oil and water, pouring it into the cute little papers and baking them up.

My mom always made homemade icing, which I love, but over the years I’ve found that over the years my dear coworkers on either side of the border don’t really notice it’s homemade. They are too busy devouring every last crumb in seconds. So Duncan to the rescue again with his wide selection of frostings in cans.

devil's food cupcakes

devil’s food cupcakes pre-frosting

cupcakes pre-frosting

white cupcakes pre-frosting

Last night I made white and devil’s food cupcakes. 36 to be exact. Frosted and sprinkled, just like many moms made for class birthday celebrations when I was a kid. They’re for our department’s January birthday celebration and even though there are more than there are people attending the celebration, I guarantee they’ll all be gone. First of all, they’re free food and second of all, Creatives love to hit the ‘way back machine and remember their childhood.

Cupcakes also take me back across the border. My friend Reesa and I made cupcakes for occasions of all sorts: bridal showers, dinner parties, any holiday you can think of, birthdays, you name it, we’d make a cupcake for it. Usually the baking was accompanied by several glasses of wine, but always there was copious amounts of laughter and plenty of catching up.

my "helpers" are supervising

my “helpers” are supervising, surprisingly Guinness is actually in the kitchen, George and Godiva are handing back

Lest you wonder what the exhausted hounds were doing while I was up to the elbows in dishes and cake mix, all three of the 3G Network were curious about  what was going on in the kitchen. George was an especially good helper once I spilled a small bottle of sprinkles and most landed on the floor. We should have called him Hoover.

packed up and ready to head to the office

packed up and ready to head to the office

PS: If you have any doubt about my love of baking, check out my linked in profile. Not sure if potential employers consider baking an asset, but if they do, they’ll be pleased to know that it comes highly recommended by former coworkers.