April 05, 2007

Today is Holy Thursday. It's been a long time since I went to Mass at Eastertime. I was thinking about the traditional things we used to do during Holy Week, because Laurel said something about not getting Easter baskets any more, now that she's no longer a little kid .

Tomorrow is Good Friday. I decided, since I'm off on Fridays, to make Hot Cross Buns. I found my grandmother's recipe, handwritten and slipped between the pages of a scrapbook she used to hold her recipes. Typically, for her, she included only the ingredients, and not the directions.

Gramma Lucy (Picadura) Schulmeister was a baker by profession, making the bread served in the Farrington High School cafeteria in the 1940s and 1950s. We used to enjoy home-made breads and rolls regularly, usually tied to seasons of the year, but not always. We had malasadas on "Malasadas Day" (mardi gras), hot cross buns and sweet bread (Pao Dulce) for Easter, and fruitcake and Three Kings Bread for Christmas. And white bread at other odd times during the year, when the spirit moved her.

So, tomorrow, I'm off on an adventure - to re-create the Hot Cross Buns she used to make every year on Good Friday. Here's her recipe:

2 package yeast, 1/4 cup luke
warm water, 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk, 2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening, 2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 " " nutmeg,
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 " mixed glazed fruits
5 cups flour soften yeast in warm

March 10, 2007

This is a reaction paper my mother wrote for a biographical writing class she took at a local community college 17 years ago. While visiting her last week, I came across several of her papers, and decided to transcribe them for the purpose of sharing with the family. Here is the first.

9/2/90 “HURRICANE” Fay Schulmeister

Learning Log

I enjoyed the author’s economical use of language, which nevertheless gave vivid descriptions of the passage of the hurricane. He also managed to reveal his personality. I got the impression of a sturdy, practical person and a perfectionist. I admired his gut instinct to leap to what he saw needed to be done. I appreciated his recognition of the forces of nature, to be accepted and dealt with.

The description of the onslaught of the hurricane, and its passage, reminded me vividly of hurricanes experienced in Jamaica In my youth, although my experiences were inland. One particular occasion I recall particularly.

We were a large family, of three generations, living in a five-storey house built of stone, stucco and wood, with many windows, jalousied walls, and doors. At the warning everyone sprang into action, through long practice knowing exactly what to do. Doors, windows and jalousies had to be battened. Storm lanterns were gathered, cleaned and wicks trimmed, then filled with oil. Matches were put to hand. The estate workers and house servants waited it out in the stone-enclosed first storey. The family gathered on the second floor.

We felt the changing atmospheric pressure, saw the lowering black clouds, heard the light wind and rain. Then, all at once, came the impact of raging winds hurling what seemed like leaden sheets of rain against the house. There were sounds of creaking wood, of tree branches snapping and being blown against the house. We wondered if the roof would hold – one crack and the wind would roar in and lift it of. It was awe-inspiring to watch tall coconut trees whipped almost to the ground, and not breaking.

Then came the threatening silence of the eye. We braced ourselves. Suddenly, with unimaginable viciousness, winds and rain raged, seemingly from every direction.

After several hours all was quiet. We were thankful the roof held, and set about unbattening doors and windows. No one had been hurt, our house had withstood damage, and soon there was a joyful chattering as we all exchanged observations.

I was impressed by the author’s use of unusual verbs and similes to convey the impact of the rage of the elements; for example “The wind …. Ripped the water like a black sheet. It hammered like a fist.” I also remarked his winding down to normalcy, with his whiskey, and his return to peaceful placidity.

(Instructor’s note: “Do you think he was right to cut the ropes on the other boats? I enjoyed your description of the hurricane you experienced. (+) )

March 04, 2007

Among my mother's photos, we came across this one, labeled,"1921 St. Andrew's School." Mother says she is in the first standing row, on the left. In the back row, the left-most boy is her brother Rowley, and two heads over to the right is her cousin Simon Soutar, grandson of the Simon who came from Isle of Man. Between them, in the next row down is Eily Soutar, Simon's next-older sister.

I wish I had found this before I took the other photos of Una Soutar to be scanned and copied to a CD. It is in very fragile condition and the mat is falling apart in my fingers. I am going to order some acid-free archival storage boxes to store this and other artifacts in, and maybe preserve them from further deterioration.

February 28, 2007

I am taking the opportunity, while visiting mom this week, to look through her old photo albums. In particular, I am looking for mom's scrapbook and that of her mother, chronicling their theatre days in Jamaica. Nicola is looking for photos and information for inclusion in a book about the theatre in Jamaica that will be sold as a fund-raiser for the restoration of the Ward Theatre.

Dave has a scanner, but he says it saves files in tiff format and they are huge. I guess I'll have to find a Kinko's somewhere, where I can scan the photos and articles and save them to my flash drive.

I found some wonderful old photos of the "Soutar Sisters", as well as photos of my dad's side of the family. When Earl and Aunt Jo come on Friday, we'll go over them and try to date them and name the individuals pictured.