Monday, August 24, 2009

Ask Clarissa

It's been a little creepy around the house. Ryan extended her stay in Europe for another week - can't say as I blame her. Lauren's been home at her parents' the last few days reconnecting with Raul now that's he's back from Guadalajara.

So it's been me and Abigail at the house. Me and Dying Abigail.

At first I didn't quite know what to say to her. But heck, if I am anything, I am transparent. I just flat out told her, "Abigail, I don't have a clue what to say to you about this. I can't tell you it's all going to work out just fine, 'cause we both know it won't. I can't tell you don't be sad; you've lived a good, long life because that's like saying hey, get off the planet and make room for someone else. So I mean really, what can I say?"

And she said, "You can say, 'Let's go to Cold Stone.'"

I said it. So that's what we did.

While we ate cake batter ice cream with cherries and chocolate I asked her if there were any books I should read before she, you know, because it was always Abigail's intention to see that I read the classics while I lived in her house.

She licked her spoon, cocked her head and told me she thinks it would be a good idea if she and I both read A. A. Milne's When We Were Very Young.

I thought only for a moment that she was pulling my leg. But only for a moment. A woman in her 80s who has known mostly sadness her adult life is dying of cancer. It's the perfect choice. But she doesn't have it in her library. We decided to order five copies. It will be book club at Abigail's. Me. Abigail. Lauren. Ryan. Esperanza.

I am actually looking forward to this.

And yes, since you must know. John Coffee Shop Beckett and I are seeing each other. We never get to finish our arguments in the coffee shop. So we simply have to pick up where we left off later at dinner. I don't call it dating, per se. Lauren asked me who is paying for dinner when we go and I told her to shut up and mind her own business.

The books are due in tomorrow. I don't think I want to wait until Ryan gets back to start.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Love, Lauren

Dear Raul:

I have been in a bit of a fog the last few days. I am sorry for not getting back to you sooner. I've been wrestling with news that has me grappling for a handhold. I wish you were here. I cannot wait until you come home from Mexico.

Abigail announced to Clarissa, Esperanza and me that she has cancer. It is advanced and surgery and treatment will likely only prolong her life by a year, maybe a little longer. She has decided to do only what will keep her alive long enough to see the the opening of Mercy's art gallery. Beyond that she says she doesn't want to fight it. After she told us, she went to her library and started making phone calls to the contractor, the architect, her lawyer - telling them all methodically, as if announcing a bit of bad weather is headed our way - to step everything up a notch. She wants the building competed by the New Year.

We've only just had the building plans approved. The ink on the last environmental survey is barely dry. They all told her - even the lawyer - that she is asking for the impossible. But she just said most of what we say is impossible is really just improbable and she's never been a fan of probabilities. So everyone better just stop imagining what can't be done and instead get busy pursuing all that can be.

I can hardly believe I am writing this. Ryan is due home from Europe next week. Clarissa emailed her and told her the news. For now, Abigail says she wants nothing to change. She wants the girls and I to continue living with her this next school year. I don't know if Ryan will want to. Clarissa has been quiet. I don't know what she is thinking. And usually I do. Usually she just says what she is thinking.

Esperanza is angry. She has been making cookies and bread and empanadas nonstop, banging pot and pans around in the kitchen as if they were battle drums. I don't know what to do with all the food she is making. I don't know what to do about anything.

I miss you, Raul. I know we have a lot to talk about when you get home. But I miss your nearness.

Call me when you get home.

Love, Lauren

Monday, August 3, 2009

In the Kitchen with Esperanza

Much on my mind today. Something is up with Miss Abigail. She wants to speak to me and the girls later today. She asked me to make her favorite strawberry pie. I did. I include the recipe here. It is a great dessert for using fresh strawberries. You can't use frozen, so don't even try.

Fresh Strawberry Pie

1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 Tblsp milk.
Sift dry ingredients. Add oil and milk. Mix well and then press into pie pan. Prick with fork tines and then bake at 425 degrees for 15 min. Let the crust cool.

3/4 cup sugar
3 Tblsp corn starch
1 1/2 cup water
large pkg strawberry Jell-O
3 cups fresh strawberries, sliced

Mix sugar, corn starch and water in sauce pan. Bring to boil. Add Jell-O and stir to completely dissolve. Let cool. Add strawberries, stir well, and pour into pie shell. Refrigerate until set. Serve with whipped cream.