Tag: family Page 1 of 13

Three Squared

Dearest Julia:


What a time to be alive.

Here we are, celebrating your ninth trip around the sun, in an age when we cannot have a birthday party because of a global pandemic. If you had said this to me the day you were born–that in your lifetime we would find ourselves locked in, shut down, physically distanced from one another

Well, I couldn’t have imagined it then, and I can barely imagine it now. You woke up today, and we celebrated over breakfast and opened presents. Then you attended to your school work at the dining room table, because schools have been closed for two weeks and will remain shut until at least May 15.

There is still a light that shines on me

I miss her fried chicken.
I miss her lasagna.
I miss her dessert inventions.


The fried chicken was brined overnight, battered by hand, and crisped in an ancient cast iron skillet greased with lard. I usually only got such a treat once a year as my birthday supper request. Mary spent the bulk of an afternoon working on it, flour spread about the kitchen, grease splatters near the stove. The results were ethereal: crispy, tasty outside, juicy, tender inside. Heaven.

The lasagna featured a sauce often made at least a day (or a few weeks) before, which gave it time to blossom into bountiful flavor. She made it ten pounds at a time, it seemed. It didn’t come out of the oven so much as it emerged, bubbling with ricotta and mozzarella goodness. When Kelly and I had kids, and when we decided to leave out grains and pasta from our kids’ diets, Mary reinvented the lasagna to include mandolin-thin sliced zucchini, which to our astonishment improved the recipe. She made Dad slice the zucchini.

Unless it doesn’t, of course.

Slowing down for a day of rest–and having the world catch up to you anyway.


This past Sunday was chilly but sunny; Friday and Saturday had been raw and damp, rainy days that befitted late January, even if the month had borne absurdly warm weather just weeks before. But there it was: sunshine and perfect blue skies.

Kel and I decided to spend the day at leisure. Friday, I’d driven to Raleigh for my interview with the doctoral program at N.C. State, which took place on Saturday. Afterward, I’d driven straight home, arriving just in time to fire up the grill and char steaks in honor of Kelly’s birthday. Julia and Thomas had spent the night at Carl and Dianne’s the night before. Annie, who had been suffering a bit of a head cold, stayed home with Kel. I’m not sure any member of our family felt well rested when they awoke Saturday morning.

So we decided to keep it simple Sunday morning, sleeping in, indulging in a full breakfast, sipping coffee afterward. Kel took up the duties of conveying a biblical lesson with the children–they really do have an advanced sense of guilt when it comes to missing church–and afterward we spent time reading while the kids played, and noon arrived without delay.

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