Monday, November 29, 2010


In this technological age, when we use our iphones, ipads, laptops, blackberry devices at the same time we are driving, knitting, exercising, cooking, or listening to a lecture, I notice that many of us cannot remember where we put our keys, with whom we just made a date, or exactly when we put the pie in the oven!  And this is not about being of a certain age....

Aunt Ruth uses the Internet and the phone but not simultaneously.  There have been questions on this blog or in email regarding her organizational skills.  It is true that Aunt Ruth ran many civic and religious organizations, raised two children, entertained, and has a legion of friends, but she is not often confused about who's coming when or with whom let alone our current political climate.  She doesn't read the paper when she's with friends, and if she had an iphone with a New York Times app, I think she'd look at it when she was alone.

She says the secret is simple; do one thing at a time.  Cliche?  Certainly!  Do any of us live by this mantra?
Not likely!  I found myself repeating her advice while preparing to serve turkey to 16, work on the blog, edit the book, pack photo gear for a shoot, wrap Hanukah and Christmas presents, address holiday cards, and make beds and couches for arriving guests.  Each time I lost my footing or felt my heart race or wondered what exactly I was doing standing in the middle of the laundry room with my Blackberry in my hand, I thought of Aunt Ruth.  Do one thing...

I tried her idea, and it worked.  Today, we call it mindfulness, but even before it had a zen spin, Aunt Ruth was chanting her secret to success.  Aunt Ruth says that, "Doing one thing at a time allows you to enjoy the holidays...and your life."


Monday, November 22, 2010


Twenty years ago, I created a Book of Thanks, a journal that holds a yearly question for each Thanksgiving guest to answer.  Loving Aunt Ruth, the photo project on which this blog is based, was not a thought six years ago when the book's query asked to name something you did for another person, draw your hand, and write your name and age.   I wasn't paying attention to the generous and gracious way that Aunt Ruth conducted her life, but the evidence was clearly right in front of me.  "...three friends in nursing homes..."  

Aunt Ruth has opened her oven door to an inestimable population, and she does it without an announcement, without fanfare, or awards.  She entertains, delivers, and spends each week cooking to stay connected to others in the most delicious of ways.  Aunt Ruth didn't need an expert to advise her that friends and food had value!  

Influenced by Aunt Ruth, I make double the amount of food necessary for my invited guests.  Each of my family members and friends brings a bag of empty containers in order to take home all the leftovers they can tote, because the joy of the meal is meant to linger and most importantly, to be shared.

I have this year's question already logged into the journal.  I look forward to all of the answers but most especially to Aunt Ruth's.

Aunt Ruth and I wish your family, friends, and you a delicious holiday.  We thank you for reading our blog and leaving comments.  Aunt Ruth delights in answering any of your questions, so please feel free to continue asking.

Bon Appetite!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


On a quiet Sunday, I am looking over the hundreds of images taken over the years to comprise, Loving Aunt Ruth, and I find myself coming back to this photo array.  These unobtrusive frames hold Aunt Ruth's mother, her husband, her children, cousins, great nieces, great-great nieces, and her siblings.  They welcome a visitor's gaze and even questions, but they are on display as reminders of what matters most to Aunt Ruth not necessarily to arouse curiosity.   Her family is and always has been the most important part of her life.

I have referenced this technological age with more friends on Facebook than any of us really know,and I think that the family photo might be at risk for living only on a computer rather than in plain view.  Aunt Ruth's choice of interior accessory, her family, has kept me connected to many sweet memories that I might have forgotten without those tiny framed reminders.

As  the holidays approach, I think of the maxim, "Never forget who brought you to the dance."  Or as Maya Angelou said, "Never forget that you've been paid for."  Aunt Ruth has definitely brought me to the dance.  She has taught me the importance of remembering all who "paid for me" along with all the laughter, recipes, and Sabbath candles we have shared.

I think I'd better dust off some of my own framed loved ones before I open the doors for this year's Thanksgiving dinner.  Aunt Ruth is bringing the pumpkin pie.  I will be taking photos.

We will remember this year for sure, but we will also mention those missing from our table as well.

Please leave a comment here for Aunt Ruth.

Happy Thanksgiving....take pictures and print them!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Test Kitchen

My Aunt Ruth is more organized than I can ever imagine being.  These are all new recipes waiting to be tested and rated.  Yes, she rates them as "good" or "bad" and files them.  The reason the lackluster ones get a place is that she might not remember her displeasure and make it by mistake.  When you are 91, labels help.

Being organized is another lesson I am learning from Aunt Ruth.  It isn't my reflex, so I spend far too much time looking for things.  She never does.  Really, she knows where all of her things are, because there is a place for everything, and everything in its place.

With the holidays approaching, cards being written, tables being set, and deadlines for work pressing in on me, I am wondering where I put my glasses, placed my coffee, laid my grocery list, or even if I remembered to extinguish the pumpkin pie scented candle I had burning in the kitchen.

Paying attention to small things that make life easier is one of the many ways Aunt Ruth influences me every single day.  Maybe, she can do the same for you.

A reminder...please leave comments on subjects you might want Aunt Ruth to address on this blog as well as any remarks that might be great in the forthcoming book, Loving Aunt Ruth are greatly appreciated.  And..if you'd like some holiday recipes, send me your postal address.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I'm Just Too Busy Right Now

Another holiday season is upon us, and just when I wanted to gasp, sigh, and whine, I thought of Aunt Ruth.  At 91, she is still spending most of her days in her kitchen going through her collection of recipes to find just the right ones to prepare for friends.  That's right....for friends.   She has several dinner and lunch dates in her apartment during the week, and if a dear one can't make it to her place, she brings the meal. 

I find myself saying the same thing that I have been hearing all to often; "I'd love to, but I am so busy right now."  Aunt Ruth has never been too busy for her family or her friends which is probably why she had 165 people at her 90th birthday party.

Of course, I have more than 165 friends on Facebook.  Right?  One of the many lessons I have learned from Aunt Ruth is the importance of socializing, caring, listening, and, yes, cooking and serving with love.

I hope to make her proud this Thanksgiving.  If you'd like to send a message to Aunt Ruth, please leave your comment on this blog.  She does read this!

Back to the kitchen....