Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Cake & Whine

My friend Duncan has posted a picture of what I consider to be my failed fruitcake on his blog which is really rather kind of him. I sheepishly posted it on Twitter to ask whether it appeared burnt. For him, however, it evokes all kinds of memories of rolling out marzipan and English Christmases. I vow to keep trying the cake recipe so that I can get it right. I've added sour cherries, pine nuts and cardamom to the original recipe and the cardamom in particular makes me happy because it reminds me of Norway. I must figure out how to give every bite that cardomommy taste. This is not like Norwegian Julekake. It has the density of a Christmas cake but is blonde, stabbed with dark red cherries, so perfect and Viking and henceforth she shall be known as Helga. Helga cake. The Maharishi will attest to this: I am not a baker. I wish I were. I'm very useful in the kitchen but baking's not the way I roll, babe.

I am not really embracing the spirit of the season. It's incredibly dull of me to share this, I know, but it can't help but leak out. When I'm not very happy I'm afraid I don't post very much. I write dark, pretentious short stories. I shut myself in the hut with the dogs and fail to venture out till it's cold outside and the sun has gone down. Or for tea. I tell myself I am doing all the things I can to knock myself back into the land of the living -- reading Christmassy poems, staring in awe at the snow-caps on the local mountains, listening to Kings College Choir sing beautiful Sir David Willcocks arrangements of my favorite carols (listen & watch the whole service of 10 readings and carols here), stare lovingly at our beautiful tree and the cheery wreath on the door. I've received Christmas cards from loved ones, even one of a cheery December robin puffing out his little red breast. But still I blah about, having lost my joie de vivre or my va-va-voom or my qi (prana for you yogis) somewhere in between here and Aldbury, near Tring.

I wonder indulgently whether it's possible to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder in sunny SoCal? My brother has what can only described as a grow-light in his kitchen, which he switches on while he's waiting for the kettle to boil on the Aga for the morning tea, and it beams Good Thing & Vitamin D at him while he suns himself in front of it. He swears by it. In the old days, they used to call this the blahs. It's not abject misery. I'm not throwing myself on the sofa and sobbing. Perhaps I should. There is absolutely nothing to be miserable about. In fact, I feel enormous gratitude for all the loveliness I'm surrounded. It's more of an inner bleakness. Mary Karr talks about this in Lit. I'm very drawn to Mary Karr at the moment. They do call it bleak midwinter after all. Not effulgent midwinter. But one doesn't suppose that to be true of our Mediterranean climate (the only truly Mediterranean climate outside of the Midi if I may be so pedantic).
this is rather cheery, isn't it?

And then I found this:

Entering the kingdom

As the boy's bones lengthened
and his head and heart enlarged,
his mother one day failed
to see herself in him.
He was a man then, radiating
the innate loneliness of men.
His expression was ever after
beyond her. When near sleep
his features eased towards childhood,
it was brief.
She could only squeeze
his broad shoulder. What could
she teach him
of loss, who now inflicted it
by entering the kingdom
of his own will?

-- Mary Karr

Madonna & Child

Right on, Mary, I'm thinking.

** grateful thanks to RJ for trees & light and Madonna images (pilfered, basically, from his lovely blog)


LPC said...

Girls growing up? Evolution. Boys growing up? Like the Incredible Hulk breaking out of the chubby little boys we loved so.

RJ said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog, Miss Whistle. I look forward to reading yours, too. And knowing we share an appreciation for Mary Karr.

Jill of All Trades said...

Yum, fruitcake. I'm going to make my White Fruitcake this next week I hope.

shayma said...

am just back home after having 'a few' to put it politely, ut enjoyed reading your post and looking at the photos of obama and his wife at his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. adore christmas cake, that is what made me wish, when i was a child, that i was christian. xx

Marilyn said...

I always love dropping in to catch a whirlwind breath of all the lovely things you offer; Oslo, a family proposal, Christmas cake and Mary Karr. And even though I love the phrase "bleak midwinter," I hear you on the seasonally affected. Still, there appears to be so much tradition in your heart, Miss Whistle. Enjoy it!