Karagöz rising: Cake rising and falling

The lemon curd buttercream filled but not yet frosted chocolate buttermilk cake - like the holiday - had such promise, but I over-thought it, as usual!

After a successful and 99% conflict-free Christmas, I was feeling pretty good about life and upset that we had had such a difficult time before Christmas. Now Karagöz yells “Why, Stella, why?”

Every year there is the gearing up, the getting through and the going downhill to the goose-down bed of comfort afterwards.

In retrospect, I was likely still getting over the gearing up and getting through as I left my childhood home, flickering flakes of hardly-there snow melting on my scalp as I walked to the car.

In an attempt to be positive, I said “well, that went pretty well – next year we shouldn’t get all worked up before Christmas – now we have a good model for Christmas!”

After his long Christmas nap, Karagoz was ready to rock once more - he looked something like this as we left my parents' house and headed for the car...

M.’s face told me that all hell was about to break loose before I realized that Karagöz was dancing a jig on the hood of the car – screeching at the top of his lungs and clapping his hands which sounded strangely like gongs with a sound that reverberated through me.

All the puppets were shivering in the New England cold, and huddled deep in my scarf, jacket and purse.


I heard some of them sigh, giving up on me, saying “will she ever learn?  She’s whipping him up like the meringue frosting that got overbeaten and couldnt be used for Christmas Eve dinner.”

Fannie Farmer's boiled meringue frosting - made it 100 times, but it stalled on Christmas Eve, much like our communication

“Why must you always tell me what I do wrong!” M. shot back at me. “We are not one minute out of this house, and you are telling me what I did wrong and focusing on the negative.”

Of course, I did not see it in the moment, I think my fairy godmother was so tired from wanding us through the holiday that she had collapsed from fatigue. Tense and tired and remembering the total mess in the kitchen at home from my Christmas eve baking disaster, I massaged at my aching shoulders while denying being negative. “I was trying to be positive! I said “we” not “you!” And I meant it! I mean -WE have a good model – WE don’t need to get upset before Christmas next year – what is WRONG with that? Why aren’t you talking to me? Are you mad? What did I do wrong….” The more Karagöz danced on the hood, the more I spoke and the more tightly-wound my voice, heart and soul became.

Disaster cake for Christmas Eve dinner - theme was globalized tastes, an Aegean-flavored Christmas, This was chocolate buttermilk cake with lemon curd buttercream filling and meringue frosting...never got to the latter!

M., well, he just became quieter and quieter. I felt the layer cake of our relationship slipping off of itself much as my Christmas Eve dessert had done – see the photos through this post. Slipping, sliding, melting and cracking into a lovely and delicious but un-aesthetically-pleasing mess to the eye.

We slept back to back that night, ignoring one another. The dog didn’t even come close, sleeping at our feet to stay out of the melee.

All night Karagöz ran around the house – marching and lecturing on the era of “Karagöz rising.” Sort of like the Age of Aquarius. It wasn’t until dawn, when Hacivad Bey could not take it anymore, that Karagöz rose no more. Everyone has their limits….the best he could do was a partial quote from Rumi, leaving me for the night with this “Love so needs to love that it will endure almost anything, even abuse,
just to flicker for a moment.”

While love didn’t flicker very strongly for even a moment that night, it wound its way back into our hearts over tea the next morning after the entire puppet troupe re-created my bad behavior and dissected it for all to inspect and second-guess that morning.

As Asuman Sübay says about “the mission of the Karagöz play,” it “is to rebel against political and social pressure: It uses the satire as its weapon, tells the corrupt lives of men and the unjustice of the authority with thoughtful jokes, fights against the evil and makes people see what is right.”

Long live the Karagöz puppets – if this is what Karagöz rising means – then by all means, buyrun (please come in, sit down, take some).  Maybe I’ll even try baking again…

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2 Responses to Karagöz rising: Cake rising and falling

  1. Alan says:

    my, I’m on a learning curve here – two very insightful and enjoyable reads. I am ever mindful of the old saying that ‘your family you are lumbered with (not that we don’t love them) but your friends you choose.’ Then there is the old cliche that ‘Love overcomes all!’

  2. Liz Cameron says:

    you are not the only one on a learning curve – we still are on a learning curve 8 years on!

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