today is mama's 100th birthday. in this photo of her she was 92 years young. she lived from may 22, 1910 vivaciously until october 13, 2006. her spirit lives on, and today i celebrate her birthday by writing about her here, and by replanting some gladiolus bulbs she gave me in a little circular memorial garden i planted for her. along with her love of cooking, handwork, and crafts, she was a splendid gardener and she taught me to love gardening and all creativity. her lush garden grotto with statues of the Blessed Mother Mary and St. Francis was shaded by two loquat trees she planted from seeds no doubt brought over from lebanon by friends.
seeds from her tree were shared with her brother, my uncle edmond, whose tree graciously provided the fruit and seeds of a loquat tree that continues to grow in my portland garden. too far north to fruit, viewing it's deeply grooved leaves from my living room window takes me right to family and our roots in lebanon, where the loquat—akkidine—originally from china has become a traditional early spring fruit. i remember seeing carts piled high with loquats for sale in lebanon on my first visit in early spring—huge, bulbous, deep orange, juicy, and the sweetest ever. their smooth large seeds, taking most of the fruit's interior space, rolled easily around my mouth.
gardening was mama's "therapy" along with cooking, making art, jewelry, and all kinds of crafts. mama lived her life to the fullest. along with her mantra "If you make it with love, it will be delicious!", she often repeated "dear, life is how you make it." she took full responsibility for creating a rich life for herself and her family. here is a photo of her at age 94 in my studio proudly displaying the mandalas she had just drawn.
mama was willing to take risks and stayed open minded—qualities that she embodied throughout her life. she amazingly cooked a huge lebanese lunch for 36 guests two months before she passed away—something that would be challenging for me to do even today. when i told this story to an elderly lady from florida who ordered the cookbook, she asked if mama did the dishes, too. no, she had help, but she was very organized to be able to pull this off so gracefully at her age! she continued to work on her beading projects almost until her last days on earth, finding joy in each moment, and making things to give as her generous spirit guided her.
in order to pay proper tribute to alice, my beloved mother, i am setting up a page either here or on my website where people can comment about the cookbook and what it means to them, and about alice, who has touched so many lives in the almost 100 years she lived.
just recently i was told two stories about mama and food that are quintessential in exemplifying how generous she was, and how food was truly her gift offering of love. i hope that readers will share their stories, and comments on this page for others to read. very consistently i am blessed with praise about alice's kitchen, and i invite readers to please share their stories and thoughts with others, if you're so inclined. i know mama would approve and be honored.
with love to mama, from your number 5 daughter, linda!
here we are signing cookbooks at capitola book cafe in 2005!