Archive for the 'candy' Category

M & Ms

February 8, 2014

They used to remind me of autumn leaves: red, yellow, two shades of brown, green for those leaves that hadn’t turned.

They discontinued the light brown, which I thought was a nice neutral tone to provide balance with the other, more vibrant colors.  I thought it looked friendly and warm in a low-key way.  They added blue, and I’ve read that the dye they have been using for the blue contains some disreputable substance.  The blue is much more exciting, I suppose, but it also changes the whole impression of the palette for me.  No more autumn leaves.

We used to arrange our M & Ms into groups — all the same color, one of each color — into lines, into shapes.  My mother served them in custard cups as a special treat for a snack.  We took them out of the little bowl and arranged them, I think on a plate, but sometimes on the kitchen table directly, which I think we were not supposed to do.

Now there are so many varieties.  I have on occasion inadvertently brought home some variety I didn’t want, and didn’t like, such as the pretzel kind (I trust people like my neighbor, who has a thing for chocolate-covered pretzels, may be the target market).  And the regular kind now seem to me to have a taste that is heavy on sweetness and light on chocolate.  I buy them thinking I like them more than I actually do anymore.

Which maybe is okay.  I have found that if I buy candy I don’t like, I eat less of it.

Eating candy

January 23, 2014

Someone once asked me if having faith was like asking the universe to help you find an orange piece of candy in the candy dish without looking.  I wasn’t comfortable with that understanding of faith.  I thought that it was quite possible that the universe might help with that request if it served the greater good and the petitioner’s greater good, but it didn’t sit right with me.

So the other day, years later, I’m actively and consciously choosing an orange piece of candy and I’m about to unwrap it and I get this message — to unwrap it over the kitchen sink.  And sure enough, it’s a broken piece of candy and little pieces fall into the sink.  I had recently cleaned the kitchen floor and I would not have been a happy camper if the pieces had fallen on the floor.  That is the kind of help I receive when I have faith and I trust the universe the way a swimmer trusts the ocean to support them when they float.

Which gets me to my favorite part of the David Remnick piece on President Obama, in the current issue of The New Yorker.

It’s a quote from the president:

‘One of the things that I’ve learned to appreciate more as President is you are essentially a relay swimmer in a river full of rapids, and that river is history,’ he later told me. ‘You don’t start with a clean slate, and the things you start may not come to full fruition on your timetable. But you can move things forward.’

I very much resonate with the relay team conceptualization and I also resonate with the river imagery.  I don’t usually find them combined in my brain, though.  For me, the river part is peaceful and about me as an individual, about my relationship with the universe.  The relay part is about navigating the material world and doing my part in what’s going on here.

But I lead as private a life as the president’s is public, so maybe it looks different to him.  The issue of combining — here, images — I also think plays out differently in different people’s lives.  Some people’s ego self and greater self are well integrated, others very much tie the ego self off from the greater self.  I often relate more easily to the greater self of someone else, and I get upended when their ego self isn’t consistent with it.  I am trying to learn to be open to the possibility that the two selves will not be in sync.  So if President Obama has integrated the rapids of material life with the bigger picture of the universe, maybe that’s a more helpful way to view things.  I have to admit that one of the other things I have to work on in my own life is integrating my spiritual and material world lives better with each other.  If President Obama has, I should certainly not be criticizing that.

Marzipan in memory

January 13, 2014

I seem to have decided to eat some chocolate-covered marzipan in memory of my dad’s death and in honor of his birthday, both anniversaries of which occur later this month in quick succession.

I tend to feel the urge to memorialize a few weeks earlier than the anniversary occurs on the calendar we use in the secular U.S. of A., I’m not altogether sure why, but my internal clock seems to be set somewhat differently — I’ve noticed this for decades with other yahrzeits.

So there will be marzipan, I’m on the fence about a lighting a candle or playing Wagner or Mahler.  It feels to me a lot like picking out a present for somebody — trying to figure out what suits.

Of course, once the marzipan comes (I think that will be tomorrow), the question will become when to eat it.  Shades of the famous marshmallow experiment.

My dad was always early with things.  In fact, once we arrived so early at my cousins’ house for a visit that his sister made him drive around the neighborhood for a bit first, before we could come in.  (She was the only one who could get away with teasing him like that, I think.)  When they were kids, she used to give him her candy in exchange for his doing her homework.  All of which suggests to me that if I eat some marzipan early, I can make an argument that it is somehow appropriate for me to do so.


December 7, 2013

I spent most of today working on matters to do with my father’s estate.  Earlier in the week I had come across some checks he had written last January, and it gave me one of those pangs one gets when loss is registered — seeing his handwriting did that.

So he’s been on my mind of late.

Tonight we went food shopping, and, lo and behold, in the bakery section of the supermarket, just in time for the holiday season, were little sets of marzipan candies, molded as fruits.

My father loved marzipan, year round.  I think he would have gotten a kick out of this stuff, but I’m also pretty sure we would have been hearing about how this was not die echte (authentic) Marzipan from Lübeck.  (I think it’s from Long Island.)  But it was fine with me, and I put a package in our shopping cart.


December 9, 2012

I ate a marzipan representation of a Torah scroll.  The marzipan (almond-paste candy) I bought is seasonal — symbols of Chanukah, and I suspect fits in with seasonal sweets of other religions this time of year.  (I grew up eating — very small amounts of — marzipan year-round; for that matter, latkes were not a seasonal food in my family tradition, either.)

Given the metaphor of divinity as sugar or candy in some Eastern religions (and the teaching of how we have to experience it ourselves to get it) and the place of the Torah in Judaism, I liked the idea of eating a candy Torah.  I don’t think I will probably ever experience the divine through adherence to orthodox Jewish teachings, but maybe this experience allows me to connect it to my own ways of understanding and accept that some people actually do.

It’s interesting, because I had a friend who was trying to do that, to recapture a Jewish upbringing she didn’t have as a child.  Through her brothers, I eventually was introduced to Tracy Grammer’s music, and it was before her concert last night that I bought the marzipan.  (There’s a gourmet food store I know carries it, around the corner from the club.)  To me, putting together these pieces of experience into a picture that helps me understand better is like finding bits of ribbon and scattered beads and including them in a collage.

One of the things I got from listening to Tracy Grammer sing David Carter songs last night was more acceptance of the variation of roles within similar patterns of life.  A strand within me has questioned why my version of a pattern can’t be more like someone else’s, and I’ve come to think that there are trade-offs — we can’t focus our energy on pursuit X if we’re using all our energy for pursuit Y, and there may be reasons why we’re better suited or positioned to focus on one pursuit or another.

I’ve lost a lot of the need of another strand within me, too, to try to explain my version of the pattern, or even to explain how I see patterns, period, how I see similarities in other people’s lives and can fit them into, if not an archetype, then a tradition or a lineage.  I used to think people would want me to explain, for instance, things like why Tracy Grammer is having trouble actually writing up a memoir of her time with Dave Carter, how it fits into what I know of an Ur-story, why she is instead telling the reminiscences between playing his songs in concert.  But I’ve come to see that that’s part of my stuff, the need to try to get other people to see what I see.  They don’t need to see it, just as I don’t need to (try to) learn to become a poised and accomplished musician, either.  And neither of us could do as well what the other one does.

I find myself stumbling into gratitude for differences and for other people having talents I don’t and having experiences I won’t have.  The world needs all of our variations.

Bubble gum wisdom

November 21, 2012

I bought a package of bubble gum the other day, and I left it open on the kitchen table at some point.

My back was to the table as I was reading something on my computer.  Jordan was cooking, and suddenly he said, “Try explaining the taste of bubble gum to someone who has never tasted it.”  I thought to myself, “Oh wow, he’s somehow encountered that sort of famous idea about trying to transmit to someone who hasn’t experienced faith what it’s like to experience faith.”  (It’s usually sugar or candy, not bubble gum, that is the example used.)  And then he pointed out that he was reading what was printed on the inside of the gum package.

So was this packaging copy written by someone who was familiar with the spiritual context and use of the idea, or did they just kind of stumble into the thought while thinking only about the gum?  I get a kick out of it either way — I love when the sublime and the mundane meet and mix and it isn’t altogether clear which is primary and which is the spin-off.

Plowshares into swords

October 15, 2012

Tools so easily become weapons, even in mundane contexts like buying Halloween candy at the drugstore.

Unit pricing was the tool.  A help for consumers trying to comparison-shop and not be mislead by packaging strategies.  But to be helpful, the pricing label on the shelf needs to correspond to the item actually above it.  If it’s a little off to the side, not a big deal, but if it’s on an entirely different shelf and some feet to the left or right, that makes the label not useful.  And the units need to be the same if the labels are to be used for comparing price per unit.

At the store, bags of small candy bars packets of candy were $2.99 for 11 oz. and then some.  A larger bag, at $5.99, contained 19 oz. and something more.  I figured 22 oz should be less than $6 for a larger bag to be a better deal, but I wanted to check myself.  The unit pricing on the shelf label for the smaller bags was in ounces, the shelf label for the larger bags was in pounds.  This I discovered once I finally successfully located a box of the larger bags that was somewhere near their shelf label.

I bought the smaller bag size and mentioned the issue to the cashier, and we agreed the policy probably came from the corporate level and he said he would bring it to the store manager’s attention.

I’m working on the candy supply for Halloween now, in part because I’m finding it more confusing this year anyway.  The bags of candy bars are (all?) smaller (to reduce sticker shock?) and I’m trying to figure out how many I am likely to need.  I didn’t do any Halloween house decorating to speak of last year and still a lot of kids came to the door (even though mine are grown beyond that stage and I doubt these kids or their parents know me or my kids).  I don’t mind.  The 90 lb. poodle is no longer here to bark when the doorbell rings, or even if it didn’t, so it’s a little easier (I used to lock him in the kitchen — we put up trellises as gates).  But I don’t want to run out of candy.  I’m not sure what I would pass out instead.

Cotton candy

December 29, 2011

I was thinking the other day

that sometimes what we usually mean by “our lives”

looks like synchronicity spun around our respective egos

like the way they make cotton candy.



Atomic FireBalls

November 18, 2011

Today’s synchronicity, or something.

I stopped at Walgreens, while I was out doing some other things, to replenish my jawbreaker candy supply, and on the way to the check-out, I noticed small packages of fireballs, so I bought one of those, too.  I’m not sure I’ve ever bought a bag of fireballs before, although I have gone through phases of eating them — I usually have bought them as individual pieces at the five-and-ten, when I’ve bought them before, and I haven’t had any for years.  My kids would buy a couple for me when they would go to the five-and-ten, back when going there on their own was a big deal to them.

So, I got back, called my dad, and then Jordan (my younger son) arrived back from (college) class.  He told me he had presents for me.  (He had stopped on his way home to pick up some spatulas and ground rosemary spice.)  He even put me through the “close your eyes and put out your hand” routine: four Atomic FireBalls.

Writing books

August 2, 2011

Before my son left for New Hampshire today, he handed me a copy of Carlos Castaneda’s The Teachings of Don Juan:  A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, and said something like, “I started reading this and thought you might like it better.”  (He got it from a friend’s father who was de-accessioning possessions before moving out of state.)

I started looking at it and got faced with a familiar feeling of antipathy towards books about spiritual stuff.  I’m thinking maybe I can finally name what bothers me about writing books about this stuff, especially after reading the Opinionator piece in the NYTimes called “Poetry, Medium and Message” by Ernie Lepore today.

It’s not just that it seems to me that spiritual experiences need to be experienced rather than learned about, need to be had rather than heard about;  it’s that they’re ephemeral, at least the way I have them.  Books are meant to last.  So, I think I perceive a disjunction between the medium (is that a pun?) and the content, and I think that’s the first step in what bothers me.

The next step is how their being ephemeral functions.  When I have the experience, let’s say some understanding or perception in which the veil seems pierced and I can see behind the usual scrim, I “get” it in a very thorough way, like Athena bursting from Zeus’s head fully formed.  I don’t get partial understandings, but once the perception fades, all I have left is the memory that I had it, and often I forget what the perception itself was (I think if it serves for me to have it again, I do).  The memory of it is not the vivid understanding that is so fleeting, and to transmit such memories seems to be of questionable value — like describing how candy tastes instead of popping a piece in the listener’s mouth.

Finally, if I have a spiritual perception, I’m ready for it, it’s appropriate to my state of development (I don’t use artificial means to have them).  This means there’s something like a “need to know” security clearance built into the situation.  Telling someone who doesn’t have such readiness a simulacrum of my experience could leave them open to being overwhelmed by it or to doing something inappropriate with it.  It could also result in an only partial understanding (in the person being told) of what was communicated in the experience itself, and hence lead to a misinterpretation by that person of what the understanding meant, as well.

Which brings me round to my initial issue: why do people write these books?  To me, they suggest an agenda that may not be consonant with what serves.  Maybe the misunderstanding lies with me, and these books do serve in a way that I just don’t understand, but I have this sense that the medium is inapt for the message.