Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Without a doubt the most coveted candy in the Rodriguez house is Salt Water Taffy.

The candy, made simply of boiled sugar, butter, vegetable oil and food coloring and flavoring is made by pulling the sticky mass over a hook or plastic tube, then doubling it back over itself and pulling again.  The process is repeated over and over again until the mixture is a spongy, doughy delightfully sticky mess.

By constant pulling, taffy becomes filled with tiny pockets of air that make the flavor more noticeable and the candy light and chewy.  After it is wrapped in wax paper and twisted into little bows, it's mixed with other wrapped colors and looks like a bubble gum machine gone wild.

Mario loves cherry and strawberry.  My favorite is coconut and caramel.  In Old Sacramento the delicious candies are sold out of barrels, all oozing with sweetness and flavor.   So, it is a (minor) tragedy that salt water taffy is not available readily in South Africa.  It makes it easy to bring back a gift for our friends here, though...and giving this is a home run with most South Africans.

Taffy is not an acquired taste.  It's sweet, it's flavored how you want it to be and it comes wrapped like a present for one mouthful.  In believing in flavor and lightness, the idea of the candy is genius.  It doesn't take a lot to satisfy you, but the sensation of unwrapping, eating and rewarding your taste buds, chewing and swallowing can all become, well, addictive.

In partaking of this, I force myself to remember that taffy is fattening and bad for your teeth and possibly overpriced. I usually remember after the sugar coma has passed.

Today is Alicia's 22nd birthday, and I'm sure my little sweetie will celebrate with her man, her baby and her "family" in Chico where she is.  Today has been filled with memories of her... and a few tears.  Vince also started a  new job in New Mexico and moved in with old friends there.  It has been almost ten days since I talked with him.  Because of these two right now my heart feels like a wad of taffy, being pulled and stretched and then doubled over only to start the process again.  Being so far away, my heart feels more pulled than most mothers do, but then that's no mystery to people who know me.

To mother a person is a hard thing.  To give too much attention, the child doesn't know how to cope without give too little attention the child, neglected, will never feel a strong connection with you.  So, as with most mothers of children, I tried to find a balance, and did my best.  Looking back, the surprising joy I feel when I think of how I raised my kids delights me.  They are all different, deep, bright, sensitive and funny.  I think if I met them as a stranger I would like them and want to be their friend.

As adults, I still want to be close to them.  I want to be part of their daily lives, especially now with grandchildren involved.  This is a little harder to do, being separated by so much distance, even in this modern age with SKYPE, facebook, twitter and youtube.  I feel myself even MORE dependent on God just to make sure that the pulling on my heart doesn't pull me away from being the woman He wants me to be, here, there or anywhere.

This week has been building to the Junction moving in to its new building,  a party to celebrate and a new adventure for us and "for future generations".  Mario and I listen to preaches about handing off the faith we have to our children, and I have to pray that God will be the torch giver for my own back in the USA.  The posterity that we have is world-wide, and involves more than our biological children...we know it.

But, God, I want them too.

And I ask with everything in my heart: a taffy-pulled, air-filled gooey sweet thing....