My Grandma liked to cook and she liked to eat.

She has a starring role in my memoir, spotlighted in two chapters: Grandma’s Bountiful Table and Easter & Politics. Everyone had a seat at her table.

I treasure time I spent preparing meals with her and having her potpie recipe handwritten on an index card.


Memoir Sketch

In this excerpt, Grandma and I are warming up before we begin Thanksgiving preparations:


“I have some hot cocoa for you, and after that, we’ll have to get

down to work,” she enticed me.

I swallowed the warm drink whole, almost, drinking from a pale green Pyrex cup.

“Okay, I’m ready!” I announced, plunking down the empty cup on

the counter.

We hefted all six leaves into the gaping mouth of the table just sprung

open, stood at opposite ends and synchronized our pushes toward each

other. “Clap!” the table banged shut as we met in the middle. Next, we

concentrated on adding two white linen tablecloths so they overlapped

each other, placed the Limoges china from the red-cherry china cupboard

close by, and finished the settings with thin glass tumblers, each with

etched florets and a tiny gold rim, some of the gold erased with use over

the years. I sat down and watched as Grandma pulled the silverware,

one or two fork tines bent, from their long cloth pockets.

Aunt Ruthie was not in the kitchen with us. The only woman who

had a driver’s license in our extended family at the time, she took charge

of going to the butcher in her grey Studebaker to fetch the meat: a

24-pound turkey and a duck to match, both baked at low heat overnight

in the oven to a succulent brown.

In a little while, though, Grandma and I would go down to her cellar

and bring up cans of spiced cantaloupe, preserved watermelon rinds, and

several kinds of pickled cucumbers, crisp and green in their blue Ball

jars. The steps were steep and long, and I worried that Grandma might

tumble down in her black-laced high-heeled shoes. Safe and sound,

though, we made the trip up and back two or three times with jars of

green beans and her yearly favorite—red, yellow, and green pickled

peppers stuffed with shredded cabbage.


But I desecrated Grandma’s name when I wrote on the board during my teaching days

Let’s eat Grandma.

Why is that a sacrilege of my saintly Grandmother?

Well, I left out the comma. Placing a comma between “eat” and “Grandma” makes me sound less like a cannibal, and more like the civilized person I aim to be.


Why am I bringing this up?

This month I read and reviewed the hilarious book by a copyeditor, people who obsess over commas and other punctuation. Authors need copyeditors. However, Mary Norris’ sense of humor propelled me from page to page. Even the cover has a jaunty look!


My review begins . . .

In the book Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen (2015), Mary Norris comes at commas with a light-hearted approach. With humor, both effervescent and wry, her chapters, on a rather tedious topic, are gripping. She begins with a chapter Spelling is for Weirdos and ends with one entitled The Million-Dollar Copywriter. In between, readers will find an eye-popping chapter on profanity: SH*T! But make no mistake; there is serious scholarship in this 200-page volume with eight pages of notes and a twelve-page index.

Read more here . . .


Wise Teacher Overlooks Errors to Encourage Budding Writer

Some time ago, my friend Carolyn sent me this link to a heart-warming story. You can read it here.


& & &

Discussion wide open for eaters and writers

  • Grandma’s cooking, your own, or someone else’s
  • Value of good punctuation, grammar

Fun exercise: Depending on where you place the commas, you get contradictory readings of the sentence below. Who, really, is the savage?

Inserting commas, read the sentence two ways.

Woman without her man is a savage.