Vera Gordon, 1912-2008
Many of my favorite childhood memories involve food. The smell of dinner fresh from the oven; the flavor of delicious home-baked goods; the joy that fills a happy kitchen. These visceral patterns were imprinted in my mind frequently during my youth and are still with me today.
At the center of many of my epicurean memories stands my beloved Grandmother, Vera Gordon. Clad in her apron, a smile on her face, a wooden spoon stirring a pot of bubbling borscht. Her food was not just made with love, it was love. And I loved every bite.
For my Grandmother's 90th birthday, my loving mother Rhoda created an amazing book honoring her cooking. Entitled "Vera's Table" this wonderful tome contained Grandma's best recipes. Each recipe was presented with a story written by a family member. I now, more than ever treasure this book and the recipes and stories it contains.
From pickles, to potato salad, from apple pie to poppy seed cookies I could never get enough of the wonderful delights she made. The pies she baked from the apples her loving husband Murray grew in their backyard were magical to me. It is something I will never forget, the time in her kitchen at her beautiful house by the sea in Santa Barbara.
My Grandmother also never forgot those joyful times, and one of her favorite stories was one that I don't actually remember experiencing. I was only nine months old on this particular visit to Grandma's house. On her table she had a big bowl of freshly made guacamole. To her great surprise and amusement I pointed at the bowl at the table and demanded "Taste 'em 'cados." ... see, even then I enjoyed eating.
My brother Dan and I always enjoyed our family trips to visit Grandma and Grandpa. Climbing the trees in the yard, eating (of course), causing mischief like little boys tend to do. I recall one time my Grandparents had just installed a brand new redwood fence around their yard. My brother and I were playing in the yard when I decided it would be fun to knock out the knots from their knot-holes with a metal bar. I encouraged my brother to join in and pretty soon we had turned the nice new fence into a wooden version of swiss cheese. That was the only time I saw my Grandmother truly upset, and looking back on the situation I don't blame her.
As Jewish Grandmothers tend to do, Vera always had advice for me. In my teenage years, this wasn't always easy to hear. No teenage boy wants to be told what to do, especially not by his Grandmother. Now that I think about it though, everything she told me was true, I was just to stubborn to listen.
Now that I've grown up, for the most part, I can reflect on the knowledge my Grandmother imparted to me. She told me about what it means to be a mensch and encouraged me to do the right things in life. To have a family and to raise them well. She didn't just tell me these things, she showed me by example.
I like to think I inherited some of my best qualities from my Grandmother: my humor, my wit, and of course my modesty, but most importantly my love of food and family.
Vera Gordon was a strong woman, a loving mother, a caring Grandmother, a powerful wordsmith, an amazing cook and a lifelong inspiration to me and many others. She will live on forever in our memories.
Like most people, I've been writing since I was a kid. Unlike most professional writers I never went to college. I guess that makes me somewhat of a hack. I have been blogging for roughly 5 years now. In that time I've gone from writing on my personal blog, to writing for LAist, to writing for blogging.la, to blogdowntown and now to WIRED News.
When I first started writing for LAist, I was excited. For some reason I thought my stories were going to be edited by an editor. As it turns out, the editors at LAist, don't actually do any editing. At blogging.la, the editorial policy is clear: there is no editorial policy. When I started writing for Eric Richardson on blogdowntown, he did edit my work, which I found helpful.
When I first approached WIRED about running some of my photo galleries, they turned down my pitches by said they would keep me in mind. At DEFCON this year they contacted me and paired me with their reporter, Kim Zetter. The next time WIRED got in touch with me was to cover their NextFest show.
I ended up writing captions on a little over half of the photos that ended up in the NextFest gallery. After Nextfest I covered the ASTRO show and that time I wrote the intro as well as the captions for the entire gallery. Since then I've been doing roughly 1 or 2 galleries a week for WIRED.
Being edited is a great learning experience for me. I like to compare what I wrote to what the editor and the copy-editor end up posting as the final piece. I haven't had any humorous interaction with the copy-editors like Siel had, but I'm guessing that the WIRED copy-editors are a little more hip than the folks editing the LA Times blog.
The more I write, the easier it becomes. I've also been reading Daily Writing Tips. Today's post was a collaborative piece consisting of 34 tips from various writers. I found many of them very helpful and I hope you do too.