Friday, December 15, 2006

A Room of My Own

Last night as I hauled out the wrapping trappings, I was backing out of a tight spot with my handy rubbermaid container, which collided with an old rickety bookcase. The damn thing let loose a cascade of books along with the lamp that was sitting on top of the bookcase.

As I looked at this enormous pile, I thought, "Well, at least nobody gets out of that side of the bed."

One of the glories of living alone is that I can have a messy room from time to time. Looking at the pile, and walking away was kind of cool. Granted, I went back after wrapping a few gifts to assess the damage and put away some of the books. But overall, at my house, the buck stops with me, and I like it.

Appropriately enough, I discovered in this pile not one, but two, copies of Virginia Wolf's classic quiet manifesto, A Room Of One's Own, one of my favorite books. I read it first in college. My dear sister and niece are reading it now, and I take from the fact that I have two copies that I should do the same with my daughter.

To be a woman is not easy, to be one with any combination of intellectual horsepower, creativity, originality, passion, or conviction -- well, you know the end of Virginia's story. If you're not already considered a little crazy for those things, you will be.

There is still a mess of books on my floor, and there will probably be a few scattered there for sometime. It's a privilege to not have to alter certain things to make life easier and more comfortable for someone else. Sometimes I think it might be nice to have a helping hand or just a good strong extra heart around the house to share a glass of wine and a song, but I've gotten by nicely on my own and with the loving support of friends and family.

If someone is testing you, ask yourself when you signed up for the class.

I'm gonna go whip up a batch of holiday cookies from my great grandmother's much loved Scotch Cookie recipe (sorry, no scotch, it has to do with the amount of butter and dark brown sugar involved). I wish I knew her. She gave birth to three amazing women who touched my life, all very different and independent. One of them gave me my mother. And someday I hope my daughter's daughter will keep me company in my kitchen while I make these cookies.

Scotch Cookies 350

2 1/2 sticks butter
1 lb.
dark brown sugar
2 eggs
2 T. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. soda
a little
Flour to thicken (about three cups)
(Note: my mother's recipe
indicates, "Be careful not to add too much flour.
It makes them hard as
rocks." Ok, got it?)

Refrig. at least 1 hr. (overnight is
fine). Roll thin (at least 1/8") and cut into your favorite shape.

My grandmother, whose husband, my grandfather, left her with two girls to raise on her own, would bake these cookies with my mother and aunt, and give them to people whose laundry she washed. That's right. She gave homemade cookies to people whose dirty underwear she laundered for whatever pay she got. She decided she could. So she did. In a kitchen of her own. I barely remember her, but, I miss her.

I'm making these cookies because they became a Christmas favorite of my former mother in law, who is very ill. So I'm sending a batch to her with her son, in hopes they'll brighten her Christmas a little. I decided I could. So I did. In a kitchen of my own.


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