Sunday, October 31, 2010

Appreciate Everything

Aunt Ruth has taught me many lessons during the years of photographing her for loving aunt ruth.  I have asked her for advice on subjects ranging from how to make a brisket to staying the course when life continues to challenge me.  

Aunt Ruth has lost her husband, siblings, and her children. She offers her wisdom of experience with compassionate understanding.  Her perpetual refrain, "appreciate everything," seems generic.  Not much of an "aha moment." is surely easy for me to forget the simplicity of appreciation.  

As I write, I am staring into the Pacific Ocean, and I am thinking of just how lucky I am to have picked up my camera and asked Aunt Ruth if I could photograph her, because in between all her parties, hair appointments, doctor appointments, and neighbor visits, were the quiet times when a wise woman leaned back to share thoughts with an eager listener.

I will be home soon and can't wait to hear more from Aunt Ruth, but for now, I am certain she will be thrilled to know that I definitely appreciate everything.

Thanks, Aunt Ruth, for the reminder.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Precious Objects

Aunt Ruth moved from the house she loved more than 20 years ago and decisions were made about what to leave behind, as her husband and she moved to an apartment.  Today, I watch as she goes through her things deciding whether the library would want her books, a neighbor might need a serving piece, or a relative would treasure her baby shoes.  (Yes, I would be that niece.)

Aunt Ruth is currently busy culling her favorite pumpkin pie recipes, so please don't get the idea she's packing the final suitcase, but she is showing me the importance of tidying up, keeping what is useful while understanding that it is nice to see what mattered to you matter to someone else.  It is quite a lovely behavior to observe and adopt.

This weekend, I channeled for my inner Aunt Ruth.  My niece was visiting me from New York, and I gave her the watch my mother had given to me.  I like knowing that she has it, and I am grateful for Aunt Ruth's role modeling  that informed my own desire to "pass on" and "let go."  It is a good lesson.

Thanks, Aunt Ruth.  

Saturday, October 16, 2010


These gloves belong to Aunt Ruth and her sister, Leah, who was also my mother.  The stacking represents how I see the sisters.  Aunt Ruth beams as she says, "My sister was older than I, smarter than I, and more beautiful than I.  She is not diminishing her worth by admiring her sister.  In fact, it is quite the opposite.  She is proud of her sister without an ounce of jealousy.  (I'm sure they had disagreements, but the adoration always seemed seamless to me.)

I am one of three girls, and Aunt Ruth has had to stand in for our deceased Mother, and like many sisters, we can vie for favor.  She doesn't give it.  She loves us in equal measure just as she loved her brother and sister.  This is not to say she doesn't offer us counsel, and believe me, she is the first to point out a typographical or factual error on the blog, but editorial commentary and advice are part of an aunt's job.  She loves each of us equally.

She has taught me to see my sisters like the pile of gloves;  pairs of hands to applaud each other's triumphs and hold each other when life is unkind.

Thanks, Aunt Ruth.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Woman of Independent Means

My mother was 39 when she was widowed with 3 young daughters.  I always thought that this circumstance was the reason she counseled us to make certain we "kept our own money" when we married.  When I began photographing Aunt Ruth for loving aunt ruth, I discovered that it was my grandmother who gave this advice to her daughters.  They listened to her, and throughout their lives, they kept "a little something" for themselves.  They were careful and cautious women who learned from the Depression and from young widowhood that nothing is certain.

I photographed Aunt Ruth leading a meeting discussing her taxes, because I admire her business acumen and confidence when it comes to taking care of herself beyond the kitchen!  She is 89-years-old in this photograph!  Aunt Ruth is definitely a woman of independent means, and she means to stay that way.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Always A Baby

My Aunt Ruth and I are the third born children of three in each of our families, which means, we are the babies in the family.  This explains why my mother never stopped reminding me to send a "thank you note," brush my teeth, or dress warmly.  For too many of my adult years, I resented my mother's reminders, and I won't mention the scoldings, but as I aged, I settled into enjoying the role of being her baby.  My older siblings might suggest I liked the role a little too much.

My mom has been gone for 9 years, and her baby sister has stepped up to the plate to let me know if my letters have typos, my sense of direction needs adjusting, or to drive carefully on my way home from seeing her.  (I live 45 minutes away from my beloved aunt.)

There is a very good chance that my own grown sons could add paragraphs about the advice they endure from me, but the point I wanted to make today is that I am deeply grateful to be Aunt Ruth's baby.  May the rest of you babies out there, and you know who you are, be glad to have a shoulder on which to rest.

Thank you Aunt Ruth for taking good care of me.

The wonderful photograph of Aunt Ruth and me was taken by the very talented Elizabeth Glorioso,

Monday, October 4, 2010


Photographing for Loving Aunt Ruth turned out to be delicious and somewhat fattening.  Well worth the pounds!  Aunt Ruth is a marvelous cook with a recipe collection.  Yes, these are her cards lovingly protected in plastic, because she is either cooking for friends, a temple function, or she is being asked for one of her treasured selections.  She has been on countless charitable cookbook committees and served her family for more than 70 years.

But, that isn't why I am writing today's blog.  It is to remind you to ask for recipes from people you love or even like as a way of gathering data that will keep people close to your heart in ways that allow you to cook and serve and create memorable moments of your own that tether you to someone else or your past.

Aunt Ruth and I will happily send you her recipe for Pecan Pie, if you send us your address to my email.

Here's a recipe from the above collection that Aunt Ruth marked as "very good."  Let us know if you agree!

Corn Pudding
12 oz vacuum packed can of corn
3T flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk or non dairy creamer
1T vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
4T melted butter

Combine all ingredients in the order listed making sure to stir the mixture while add the hot, melted butter.

Pur into a 1 1/2 qt. casserole and bake at 425 for 35 minutes or until golden.

Aunt Ruth says that it serves 4 if you're lucky.  If you double the recipe, she asks that you remember to increase the baking time...maybe even up to an hour.

Invite some friends.  Take it to friends....Enjoy!