Rip & Mike #2

(circa 1968)

Adapted from

"Shifting the Sun" by Diana Der Hovanessian

When your father dies, say the Irish,
you lose your umbrella against bad weather.

When your father dies, say the Welsh,
you sink a foot deeper into the earth.

When your father dies, say the Canadians,
you run out of excuses.

When your father dies, say the French,
you become your own father.

When your father dies, say the Indians,
he comes back as the thunder.

When your father dies, say the Russians,
he takes your childhood with him.

When your father dies, say the English,
you join his club you vowed you wouldn't.

When your father dies, say the Armenians,
your sun shifts forever.

And you walk in his light.

I love the what the English say, but for me it's what the Irish and the Russians say that rings most true.

You who are celebrating your breathing fathers, cherish it and share good food and drink.  Those with difficult relationships, consider the fact that while your fathers will not always be here, the difficulty will be unless you change it (I'm just saying!). And those who can only celebrate gifts left behind, well celebrate. And remember the happiest story of all:

The grandfather dies, the father dies, the son dies. 

(Just heard that on the awesome Losing Mum and Pup, by Chris Buckley, highly recommend listening to author's audio version. Buckley would put it this way, and I can relate: Best case scenario: I'm next!

These were my dad's favorite cookies, formerly called spice cookies, now called

Rip's Spice Cookies

10 ounces vegetable shortening (1-1/2 cups)
8 ounces sugar (about 1 cup)
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
12 ounces flour (about 2 cups)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the shortening and sugar and egg and mix thoroughly in a standing mixer or by hand (measuring out shortening using a scale is sooo much easier than trying to do it by volume).  Add the molasses and continue mixing.  Combine the remaining ingredients and fold them into the dough.

Roll into small balls or spoon out tablespoons of dough onto a baking sheet.  Give them some room because they’ll spread.  Bake for 10 minutes or until the edges begin to darken.

Yield: about 24 cookies

Rip Ruhlman 9/24/38 – 8/09/08


25 Wonderful responses to “Father’s Day Deep Blues
and Sweet Spice Cookies”

  • Russ H

    I’m going to make these cookies for my dad! Thanks Michael!

  • Wendy R

    Thank you for a beautiful and poignant post. I’m so sorry for your loss, but I am glad for you that you have someone to bake chocolate chip cookie-bowls with. Happy Father’s Day to you.

  • Michael Franco

    Great photographs!

    Since 1989, I feel nostalgic on Father’s Day. Now each year I fondly remember where I’d be and what I’d be celebration.

    I feel you, Michael.

    Happy Father’s Day!

  • Cookin' Canuck

    I am lucky enough to still have my father here. However, when the dreaded day comes that he is no longer around, I know that I will also related to the Irish and the Russians. Wonderful post!

  • Lizzie Longenecker

    What a beautiful post, Michael. It sounds like your dad was really special, and now you’re being that special kind of father to your own son. I feel very fortunate to have read this this morning.

  • deeba

    A precious post & very touching. Love the B&W pictures…reminiscent of days gone by. The cookies sound wonderful too. I always like food with emotional attachment.Makes it so comforting!

  • Victoria

    Dear MR,

    I have thought of you often this year as you progress one by one through all of your “firsts.”

    This is my third father’s day since my dad died. It’s still so weird. I miss him every day. Thanks for the beautiful poem.

    Grandfather, father, son – that’s a zen parable. Beautiful.

    Happy Father’s Day!

  • Pat Zubres

    Michael- My family have been making these cookies for 45 years. We always called them “Carole Ruhlman’s Spice Cookies”. Will send you an e-mail with the story behind the cookies. You do remind me of your dad, but I see some of Carole in you ,too!

  • David

    To those people who have or had a good relationship with their fathers; I would encourage them to realize that this is not given to everyone – some people’s fathers, if they even know them, are completely alien and tell them nothing.

  • Cathy

    Michael – Thank you for your comments this Father’s Day. I wish every single day that my parents were here to see my daughter. My dad died 2 weeks to the day after she was born. I have a wonderful picture of him holding her while we were still in the hospital. I know he held on to see her so he could report to my mom that we came through the whole birth experience okay. For many reasons, that being one of them, I try to make Father’s day a very special day for my husband every year. This year its tamales and Spanish rice, both of which he dearly loves.

    Happy Father’s Day all you dads!


  • Sharon

    You may want to fix the lifespan dates for Rip Ruhlman: Rip Ruhlman 9/24/38 – 8/09/09 (should be 2008, no?)

  • Barry

    Damn. This bears a transcendent beauty.

    You are a sweetheart, I don’t care what Bourdain says.

    And I will make these cookies.

  • Brad

    I lost my father in law December 2nd, then I lost my father February 25th, less than 3 months. This fathers day was the hardest day I ever experienced. Enjoy your dads while their here.

  • NWCajun

    My father died 10 years ago last February, 1 month before my son was born. My son goes forward with my Dad’s name. The timing, while awful, was also perfect. My Dad was a Jr., I’m a III, and my son is the IV. A big hole was filled by a perfect baby boy. I think I connect with the Irish and the Armenians and truth be told, eventually, the British. Thank you

  • Lisse

    My dad has been gone nearly 30 years. This still brought tears to my eyes.

    And now I have something to do with the molasses I found in the pantry the other day.

    Thanks for both.

  • Dana

    My dad passed in 1997, at age 60, I miss him with all of my heart. Every Father’s Day is an excuse for a celebration in his memory. He will never leave me in spirit, he is my Guardian Angel. God bless all our dad’s who are with us in spirit.

  • Annie LaGravenese

    For the past week, my husband’s family and I have been gathered around the hospital bedside of his cousin Bobby. Father of two, Allie 23 and Robert 19. A week ago today, he went into cardiac arrest, EMS paddled him 6 times to bring him back. He’s been on every machine imaginable in CCU and they lowered his body temp to try and stop further damage. On Saturday the weekend resident told us all that we should start to think about preparing ourselves that he would never recover enough to live what they determine to be a meaningful life.

    We dreaded he would pass on Father’s Day.

    He surprised us.

    Sunday he opened his eyes and kept them open. He followed us around the room.

    Today, he sat up and spoke. His first words to his mother were “I want to go home”. His mother said, “not now Bobby, maybe later”. His retort, “Don’t tell me what to do Ma.”

    He hadn’t spoken a word, hadn’t moved a muscle, had no pulse in his extremities.

    Now he was able to greet his children.

    Miracles do happen and our family will never take Father’s Day for granted again.

  • Kate in the NW

    We’ve been on the road, so I missed this one. I honored my wonderful dad by marrying another wonderful dad. He, in turn, defies his own family history by becoming everything great and good and kind that his own father was not capable of being. And the world keeps turning…I guess we create our own peace out of what we’ve got – some of us from scratch, some from great ingredients that were handed to us. Full pantries, empty ones – we get what we get, and make what we can of it.

    Thanks for sharing with all of us. I’m glad you had such a great Dad, and sorry he’s not around anymore.

  • Bob delGrosso

    Strange, I don’t think that I thought about my father at all on Father’s Day. He died 34 years ago and I miss him terribly, but until I read your beautiful post I did not realize that he wasn’t on my radar screen on Sunday.

    I’m such a stranger to myself sometimes.

  • Rhonda

    When your Father dies, say I,

    You take his light and carry on.

    When your Father dies, say I,

    you glean the good and carry on

    When your Father dies, say I,

    you share the gifts he gave you with others.

    When your Father dies — you carry on…

    I know this was a hard day for you. I was away but the Ruhlmans were in my thoughts.

  • Leesie

    You are your father’s son! Thanks for this beautiful post and for wanting to share your dad with little ol’ us.
    I have had “Shifting of the Sun” on my computer in my favorite quotes file and it was wonderful to read it again here. My dad, too, passed away…two years ago…only days before Father’s Day.