What Love Tastes Like

When we first moved from Buffalo, we’d have Sunday dinner with my grandparents every week. My father was their only remaining child – his brother had drowned years and years before, leaving a wake of sadness to seep into everything. You could feel it the moment you stepped out of the car, walked up the cement walkway, and opened the front door. The house was all dark polished wood and silence – a place that whispered grief.

There was not much there for a child, so we’d sit on the back stoop and listen for birds before dinner, or sit stiffly on the sofa after dinner enduring Lawrence Welk. One rainy Sunday I stole into the kitchen out of boredom and sat at the kitchen table to watch Nanny Mac peel the potatoes. She did it slowly, with precision, in a sort-of meditative trance. She didn’t shoo me away that day, and soon I went from watcher to helper. She let me pull a stepstool over to the stove and taught me how to stir real chocolate pudding over low heat until it was perfectly smooth, then pour it into little class parfait dishes to cool in the refrigerator until a chocolate skin formed. Later we’d whip cream with sugar to dollop on top. She told me it was her favorite dessert, but she’d never take even a bite, having given up chocolate as a sacrifice the day her Billy died. 

Dessert at Nanny’s was always some sort of pudding. Bread pudding. Butterscotch custard. Rice pudding. I loved them all. Tapioca pudding took the most patience and concentration – the rich spiced smell filling the space between us as we worked in silence at the stove. I treasured being in the kitchen with her which always felt so solemn and ceremonial. We’d set the dining room table together with the good china and crystal even though it was just us. Feeding our family was a sacrament for Nanny. 

Now I’m the nanny, calling the family together for the sacrament of Sunday dinners. We gave them up for nearly a year, then slowly returned to the ritual – first with dinner at separate tables in the yard, then masked and social-distanced inside. Now, with the vaccine and our strict adherence to maintaining our bubble, we’re reestablishing the tradition of gathering each week to be together.

This is a long way of saying how thankful I am for those hours spent in a hot, tiny kitchen beside a stoic woman who dealt with loss by nurturing us. She taught me what it means to be strong. The first time I ordered a chai tea latte at Starbucks, I was overcome with emotion – it tastes like tapioca to me. It tastes like love.

To make real tapioca pudding, you need: 

  • 1/2 cup small pearl tapioca (you can usually find it in the baking section of the grocery store, do not use instant tapioca)
  • 3 cups whole milk (or skim milk with cream added)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Combine tapioca, milk, and salt in 1 1/2 quart pan on medium high heat. Stir while bringing to a bare simmer. Lower the heat and cook uncovered, at the lowest possible heat, adding sugar gradually, until the tapioca pearls have plumped up and thickened.

Depending on the type or brand of tapioca you are using and if you’ve presoaked the tapioca as some brands call for, this could take anywhere from 5 minutes to 45 minutes of cooking at a very low temperature.

Stir occasionally so that the tapioca doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Beat eggs in a separate bowl. Whisk in some of the hot tapioca very slowly to equalize the temperature of the two mixtures (to avoid curdling).

Increase the heat to medium and stir for several minutes until you get a thick pudding consistency. Do not let the mixture boil or the tapioca egg custard will curdle. Cool 15 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Serve either warm or chilled.

Note: If you want to make a more light and fluffy, but still rich, tapioca pudding, separate the eggs. Use the egg yolks to stir in first to the pan with the tapioca. Once the pudding has become nice and thick, beat the egg whites in a separate bowl to soft peaks. Remove the pan of tapioca pudding from the stove, fold in the beaten egg whites into the pudding.

                                                                                                (Recipe from Simply Recipes)

Or, if you’re in a hurry, go to Starbucks and order a Grande Chai Tea Latte. Inhale. Sip slowly.

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Vaccination Day

We parked in lot 7, as instructed

lined up single file, greyhaired and masked up

outside the humanities building, where no students currently

sit listening to lectures about post-modern anything

instead, there we were, silent captives forced to bear witness

to the indignant cries of the woman

at the very front of the line

broadcasting her position of privilege

how she’d waited and waited for the chance

to come here and stand in the sunshine

rather than risk sharing the same air

polluted by the unsavory horde she saw

lining up across the bay, waiting

for their chance to be saved


Later, I sat alone

here in this garden I planted

marveling at whatever

was happening deep inside 

my cells being schooled

by a few drops of miracle

content in this sunshine

till the songbirds grew silent

dismissed by a squawking jay

swooping in rudely, his jeering call

clearing a path to the feeder


There’s a lesson here in nature

I’m still trying to unwind

some deep and strange and ugly truth

courses wildly through blue veins

causes scientific breakthroughs

and being first in line

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Announcing Elinormal

Available October 15, 2021.By KATE MCCARROLL MOORE

Click to pre-order:https://cityoflightpublishing.com/product/elinormal/

While skipping lessons at the prestigious ballet academy that her mother forced her to enroll in, 11-year-old Elinor Malcolm meets Indira, a mysterious older girl who encourages her to explore her identity and expand her world. A touch of magical realism infuses their encounters and shapes their relationship. Indira’s influence helps Elinor find a path that ultimately is satisfying for both her and her mother. Friendship, family, identity, and the importance of honest communication and being true to oneself are interwoven themes that create a fascinating tapestry and a very compelling story.

ISBN: 978-1-952536-22-9 (softcover only)

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he kept a little notebook

in the locked glovebox

of every car he owned

recording each fill-up

inking the mileage math


he kept filled-up ledgers

preserved in his office

alongside longer lists

daily highs and lows

recorded, compared

with relative birthdates

and deathdates

plotting his chances

before they ran out


he kept the tank

three quarters full

rotated the tires

counted the change

stopped smoking in old age

started swimming instead

a lifetime accounting

for chances untaken

for wishes unsaid

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Sunday Morning Haiku

the way the light falls

on ordinary goodness

waiting to be shared

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I wish I had an owl

a small brown

wide eyed screecher

like the one who’s made a home

on Margaret’s front porch this winter

there he rests, nestled

between paneled ceiling and bricked ledge

nearly invisible, quietly still —



turning his head slowly to watch the indifferent dogs,

the little boy painting rocks on the porch,

or Margaret reading mysteries in the sunlit window


waiting for dusk, following moonrise

across treetops, chasing starshine

with a whoosh of wings


soundless soloist, stealthy stalker

disappearing into darkness

without a trace, like magic

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Yesterday, while a radical mob

tried to destroy democracy

I baked muffins with the babies

2 granddaughters, in ruffled aprons and diapers

sat at the counter in their high chairs and stirred

beside me, adding sugar, oohing as the eggs fell

dramatically from cracked shells into waiting bowls

counting out the paper cups and

spooning batter generously


we waited till the timer beeped

then sat on the floor taking small warm bites

infused with love and berry kindness

holding the rioting world at bay

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Winter squall announced itself

by snowplow’s amber lights, streaking

slow across my bedroom wall

by morning, December steeped in stillness

driveway drifts rose three feet tall

neighbor boys broomed backyard rink

I laced up new white skates, as frosty

flakes sustained their silent fall, later

dragging red saucer and sled, answering

snowbanks’ siren call, we spent all day

laughing, ignoring the cold, careening

down hills — wooed by whistling wind

I hold a snowglobe in my mind, shake it till it shimmers

Long winter settles into view, frozen childhood glimmers

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Winter Wonder


Brings glad tidings

In the shape of a star

Night sky, bright shimmering prayer



Planets align, cosmic clockwork

Timeless moon, boundless hope

December bright


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Coffee klatch

line of white cars

parked in a polite row

out they step, one by one

clutching oversized satchels

donning freshly pressed denim

and sky-high boots

unmasked and hugging

their privilege close

laughter ringing, high and bright

ignoring the sting & December’s cold bite

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