Burying the Hatchet

kris-alan-and-me-in-70s-or-early-80s-245x300I cannot trace the exact moment, but somehow we started off on the wrong foot. And like a big wave, our discontent swelled over time, neither of us knowing the origin of it. We had both dug our heels in the sand.

When my sister-in-law, Kris, turned the big 4-0, my brother threw her a party. A really big one. Kris had always been a fan of Rita Coolidge, so naturally, Alan booked Rita for a private concert to honor his wife. He went all out.

As the big day approached, my one-day-to-be-husband urged, “You should really get along with Kris.” I agreed. I thought it was time to bury the hatchet.

So I did.

I went to a hardware store and bought a hatchet. I also purchased a beautiful gift bag that I filled with sand. Actually, cat litter. Where else can you get sand? And I buried that hatchet.

In every way my brother and his wife have a loving, happily functioning relationship. A relationship to envy. Alan made it a point not to follow in our family’s dysfunctional footsteps. Lots of steps and walking in this story. And sand.

When Kris returned home that night, she opened her gifts. She gasped when she came to mine because she had not read the little card first. She reached into the sand and found a deadly weapon. Stunned, she pulled her hand back, turned to my brother Alan and said, “Your sister sent me something really scary”.

Finally, she read the card. It’s time to bury the hatchet.

dinah-mite-300x221That changed everything! I’m kidding. Nothing changed. Except now she was convinced I was nuts. We kept our distance.

Then one day Kris and Alan found a cat.

I watched Kris fall madly in love with it. They named her Dinah, thinking it was a girl, till the vet discovered the error, so they changed its name to Dinah-mite. (Sorry, I know that most of my stories somehow segue into cats.) But watching Kris fall so hard made me fall for her. That’s when the whole thing turned around for me. We shared the love-of-feline gene. I would visit more often and now we were much more than civil. We were sisters.

I regret all the lost years, because our kids are the same ages and the cousins missed out on those close cousin friendships. But they all do love each other. Alan and Kris raised two of the most amazing people. They are good-looking, smart, funny, they get me, and oh, yes, they love cats.

me-and-billy-vera-150x150On the night of Kris’s birthday, Billy Vera also performed. We were introduced and he was already an old friend of my future husband, Michael. I now invite Billy to my own birthday parties or other functions. He actually blew us away when he came and performed at my husbands 60′th birthday party. You can see Billy, an amazing talent when he plays at Vitello’s in the San Fernando Valley at times or find a website for his other gigs.

Enjoy this recipe from my beautiful sister-in-law for pumpkin bread. When my brother eats the meals his wife cooks, he still kvells after all these years over the food and the chick he landed. I’m so sorry our parents didn’t live to see the turn of events, that Kris and I are friends and sistas!!!!! Oh and Happy Birthday Alan, this blog’s for you!!!

Kris Duke’s Pumpkin Bread

2/3 cup shortening
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 3/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 teaspoon cloves
1 lb. can pumpkin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup water
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3 1/3 cup flour
2/3 cup chopped dates
2/3 cup chopped nuts

Sift flour, baking powder, soda, salt and spices. Cream shortening and sugar, add eggs, then pumpkin and water. Gradually add sifted mixture. Stir in nuts and dates. Bake in two greased loaf pans at 350°F for one hour.


Fredrica Duke shares how she discovered her love of food while growing up in Los Angeles on her blog Channeling the Food Critic in Me