Have you heard of Bebee.com? Four years ago, it was a brand new content writers’ website (just over a year old) and I was invited as a writer, to participate. Very cool site, all “bee” oriented, you joined hives which were topic clusters, and shared honey (content).
A new life in a new industry
I had just started a new job with an advertising agency and was also working as a content developer for yahoo’s content farm, and writing financial content for knowyourbank.com on the side. But I wanted to explore more writing opportunities because who doesn’t love writing? (JK!) bebee offered a lot of inspiration for writing, and one member, Dr. Margaret Aranda, set a challenge called Memoir Madness, challenging writers to go back to their earliest memories and write from them; researching missing pieces, looking through old photos, and more, just to piece together a day in the life, so to speak. I actually included four entries, and the one I’m featuring today, along with a great recipe for lemon coconut freezer pops (in honor of the lemonade I believe my father and I shared), is a memory from my four-year-old self, expanded on through memories from my mother, and a sensory moment remembered when I scared my father, and heard him scream for the first time. I hope you enjoy it!
Four years old reading with my father
At four I could read. Any Sunday would find me sitting on my father’s lap, reading the “funny pages” to him. I loved the magic of figuring out the puzzle that comics created. Deciphering the letters and words and following a storyline from one week to the next. Plus, my father’s ritual of reading the Sunday paper was awe-inspiring. He would sit in his big old chair, filled with worn spots, slightly torn in spots, and used enough times that it fit his bottom perfectly, but mine sunk way in and made it difficult to get myself back out! Why was reading a Sunday paper awe-inspiring? Because he’d work his way through a HUGE newspaper, The Boston Globe, and all it’s magazine sections. Some weeks it was so heavy I couldn’t lift it!
One favorite activity as we read was a sort of hide-and-seek. My father always sought out a specific artist’s political cartoons and challenged me to find the artist’s name hidden cleverly in the drawing itself. “SZEP” That artist was Paul Szep. I loved finding the name, and when Mr. Szep had a child, he started hiding his daughter’s name in the image he’d drawn. A new twist to our Sunday game. I’d link to a few of the cartoons he’s doing now, but he is a political artist and I’d prefer to keep my posts to my topic!
My father also shared a cartoon that featured a family with children. The drawing itself was just a map of where one or more of the children went on a random day, where the Mom went as she cared for the children, or the crazy route the family would take in the car. It always seemed familiar. I recognized my own family in a routine day for Family Circle (or actually known as Family Circus, illustrated by Bil Keane and now his son). I loved that just like my family, their route was never direct, and many times got squirreled up in something totally unplanned but filled with adventure. I wasn’t yet up to the very dark and graphic comics that were Dick Tracy, or Apt. 3-G, but I loved Li’l Abner, because the artist lived locally, and his world always seemed a wonderful blend of fun and imagination.
A first realization of the world
At four I also remember a night when we spent the evening watching the news and President Kennedy spent a long time talking. The topic was far too heavy and involved for my 4-year-old brain. But I remember a discussion of missiles and images of bombs dropping, and when my mother tucked us in, my sister and I asked her whether we should stay awake in case the bombs went off. She just told us to say our prayers. I remember the light that surrounded her as she stood in the doorway of our darkened room. She promised us we’d be fine and the sun would come up tomorrow just like always. But it was the first time I remember realizing that my parents didn’t know everything and couldn’t always protect us. The world was a big place, and sometimes parents got scared. It was a scary night for a four-year-old as I tried to both sleep and keep a watchful eye on my sister, and two brothers all sharing that same little bedroom in our attic. The nightlight did double duty that night, showing us the shadowy corners of our room, but also letting us know that the power was still on and so everything must be alright.
Scaring the grownups
I also got to scare my father that year. One summer day I was outside “helping him” as he replaced the metal sheeting that covered the crawl space beneath our house. He was rolling out the sharp metal and hammering nails into it to cover the hole that provided access. My mother must have needed some time alone, or perhaps my younger siblings were napping. I remember sitting in the sun next to him whistling. I’d learned to whistle when I was around 3 while sitting in a chair in our kitchen thumbing through the Sears & Roebuck catalog. Suddenly, I saw a praying mantis crawling up a tall piece of grass a few steps away. I got up to get a closer look, and remember reaching out to let it crawl onto my finger, I had to hold very still as I felt the tickling of those tiny legs grasping tightly.
My father was hyper-focused on his work and didn’t realize I’d even gotten up. I walked over to him, crouched down, and suddenly held my finger right up close to his eyes. “Papa! Look what I have!”
He screamed at the top of his lungs and jumped up. I started giggling and couldn’t stop. He took off his hat, wiped his forehead, and started laughing in relief. On such a hot, steamy day a break for a laugh and a sudden monster turned into an amazing mini-dragon of an insect was just what we needed to call it a day. The mantis flew off into the field and we went back into the house for some cold lemonade. It was a good day and a good summer to remember.
If you’re looking for something cool and lemony that might please the palate of kids and grownups alike, why not try these lemon coconut freezer bars, creamy, lightly sweet and with a bit of tooth because of the added lemon zest and coconut flakes.
Lemon Coconut Freezer Bars
To begin with you’ll need freezer bar molds, aka popsicle molds. We purchased ours years ago and haven’t used them much. Mostly for frozen fruit bars with a bit of fruit nectar added in. But now that I’ve come up with this recipe, I think they’ll be getting used a bit more often. These days there are many options including flexible silicone molds. Amazon is offering some right now that look great and are a lot easier to release the bar than my hard plastic ones. I’m not getting paid for referring you to amazon, so please, feel free to get them from wherever! You can even just use ice cube trays and make these to drop into a cold after work drink! Pina Colada anyone?
- 1/4 cup fat free sweetened condensed milk (we usually use Lalechera if you can find it since it comes in a squeeze bottle)
- 1 1/2 cups light whipping cream
- 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 2 TB freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 1/2 TB finely zested lemon rind
- 1 TB honey
- 1/2 tsp lemon extract
- 1/2 tsp coconut extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
heat lalechera, lemon zest, coconut, and lemon juice slowly in a small pan until well combined. Remove from heat
Whip cream together with honey, extracts and salt until frothy, then using a whisk, beat in the cooled lemon mixture slowly by spoonfuls (to avoid curdling the cream) until well blended. Pour into molds and freeze for 3 or more hours. Remove according to your mold’s instructions. Enjoy!
- Visit a Castle, Skip the Flight – Limoncello and Candied Ginger Scones
- Simple Citrus Candied Ginger
- Turkey Soup with Lemon, Farro and White Beans – and Getting Published!
- Things You’d Do Again – Our Second Trip to Halibut Point!
- Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese, Pears and Walnuts – The Perfect Hand Pie