As most of you are aware, the Superbowl was played yesterday. It was the 48th Superbowl but only the second one in which my hometown team, the Seattle Seahawks, played. They played against the Denver Broncos, who in contrast, have been to the Superbowl seven times, having won in both 1997 and 1998.

I used to be an avid sports fan. I watched all kinds of sports including Monday Night Football. I lost interest in football after college, I must admit. The fact that my husband knows and cares less about team sports than I do (with the exception of the Oakland A’s as he still speaks fondly of attending the World Series with his late father in ’72, ’73, and ’74), made it easy for me to stop watching. And I know that a lot of people disagree with me but I also stopped following football because it’s a brutal sport. It’s just not safe and we get young kids to do it.

Yesterday, though, I put my concerns aside and watched the game. It was really exciting. But the game wasn’t close at all. The Seahawks dominated from the very first play. The Broncos made a lot of mistakes from the very first play, giving two points to the Seahawks on a safety only twelve seconds into the game. A safety is a weird little way that the defense can score. In other words, our team scored without ever having position of the ball. That kind of start off to the game had to have been pretty discouraging for the Broncos.


The Broncos really didn’t ever recover and the looks on the players faces just got more and more defeated. Yes, they are totally overpaid and what they do is grossly overvalued by our culture. And their humiliation is not akin to the pain of starving to death. But the pain was real and I felt sad for them. When I played softball as a kid, my team was never any good. I remember we once got incredibly routed. It was incredibly frustrated. I was mad and just wanted the game to end. But I also had a job to do so I kept trying to do my best through the entire game. The Broncos didn’t stop playing. They probably didn’t play as well as they would have otherwise but they kept playing until the end.

There was another super bowl lost over the weekend. It was a loss of a literal bowl. I accidentally broke my yellow 4 quart Pyrex mixing bowl.


There it is in shards. It was an ordinary mixing bowl but it was a super bowl, nonetheless. It originally belonged to my grandmother MacKenzie, my dad’s mom. I never met her as she died in 1957, before I was born. She was a child of German immigrants who lived in the Midwest, Chicago and then later in St. Paul, MN. She had four children, three of whom survived past infancy and were born in three different decades, Bill in the teens, Helen in the 20’s, and my dad in 1932. By 1940, my grandmother had lost both an infant son and her husband. The mixing bowl is a bit big for cake making so I typically think of  her having made yeast breads in it. It is the perfect size for proofing dough. Or perhaps she made apple strudel. I know that she was fluent in both English and German but when I’ve asked my dad whether she made German food he says, “She just made regular food.” She sounded like a very interesting woman. In addition to raising three children and becoming a widow during WWII, she worked for the Veteran’s Administration. She was also known on bitterly cold Chicago winter days to invite the African American postal carrier inside to warm up and eat a bowl of soup. This was in the 1940’s. I think this showed a great deal of class. My dad is a very fair person and it sounds like his mom was, too.

My mother inherited this bowl before I was born. She used it to make bread and cakes. And yes, I said that it was too big for cake but not too big for the cakes that my mom made for our family of eight. I remember the sweet and yeasty smells that the bowl contained. I licked leftover cake and cookie batter out of that bowl. When I married, my mom gave the bowl to me and I have had it in my kitchen for nearly 24 years.

My mom did not give me the bowl because I am the only daughter in the family. It wasn’t because it was something traditionally feminine. She gave me the bowl for the special significance it holds in my life. I was a premature baby. I stayed in the hospital for some time but even by the time I was taken home, I was too small to bathe in an infant tub.

Mom bathed me in that yellow Pyrex bowl until I was big enough for a regular tub. I broke a family heirloom. It has made it through multiple cross country moves. On Saturday I was trying to separate it from a larger bowl in which it was nested within the cabinet and it dropped to the floor. It wasn’t a long drop. I can be clumsy in the kitchen because I move too quickly. I have to believe that I’ve dropped that bowl many times before.

The bowl fragments will go out with the trash tomorrow and end up in a landfill. It’s cliche to say but it is true that the memories will live on. And not just the memories of three generations of cooks but the shared memories of mothers who have nurtured their families with food and with physical care taking. And as our culture has changed, we have more men who understand the meditative aspects of baking as well as the feel and smell of a baby when you take her out of the tub to dry off. She’s wet but you hold her to your chest and rub her with a towel. You feel the warm water seeping into your clothes and you smell Johnson and Johnson’s Baby Shampoo.

We win and we lose. We struggle and thrive. We build things and break things. We will continue to care for each other.