November 27, 2015
Now I am not one to label days good or bad. I have an aversion to that because most days consist of both good and bad events and it seems unproductive to label an entire 24 hour period one way based on one or even a series of events. That said, yesterday was Thanksgiving. I am also not one to give into the holiday blues although I do now understand them better just by virtue of having lived long enough to have more memories that I cannot repeat because parents are now gone.
But…., yesterday, I had braced myself for what could have been a kind of mundane Thanksgiving. Maybe Sky, maybe Sarah, maybe neither! Maybe alone, …I told myself that was o.k., it did not mean that I did not have family or friends.
But……first thing, I dropped something on the floor, broke my watchband trying to fix it and thought to myself that it was not a good way to start out the day. Then I ran intervals, my most difficult, disliked and therefore not repeated as often as I should workout. It went very well. Hmm…the day was getting better and better. Then I cooked, everything seemed to come out as planned and went to yoga. Yoga was very nice. It was a Hatha class taught by Rissa and she had us do an exercise before class that involved getting to know your fellow students that made it more fun.
After that, Sky told me a friend had just pulled up. Then Sarah showed up and just had to eat because everything looked so good. (self compliment here)
I talked to my sister and texted Rachel several times and got numerous texts from friends and relatives. It was such a great Thanksgiving.
By the way, during Rissa’s exercise one of our tasks was to tell a student near us, one thing about that person that you liked. My fellow student said I had a very nice and friendly way about me. Good way to start the day, I think. (another sort of self compliment here)
The Lousy Housekeeper
Someone who has been in my house exactly one time, (I was not even planning on having guests. Do I already sound defensive?) told a friend of mine that I am a lousy housekeeper. This morning I pondered that statement as I cleaned my house for the umpteenth time. At first I denied what had been said, “it cannot be true,” I thought, “that person is just not used to an old house and so many pets,” I told myself. But, uh oh, a good housekeeper would never choose this old house nor have so many pets. Then I rationalize, if it IS true, I bet I have more time to have fun. Then I realize, she has plenty of fun.
O.K., maybe she is right, I AM a lousy housekeeper. By choice, I have an old a house and too many pets. I have too many hobbies. I do not like cleaning. It takes too much time. It is boring. It does not last. Sometimes (not always) my house keeping or lack thereof does bother me. Then I say to myself, “If I had a smaller house, it would not take so long to clean and then it would be cleaner.” (Forget the fact that if you do not clean a small house one, everyone can see everything you have not done)
I realize as I think back over time, roommates, lovers or a husband have cleaned up the house on a regular basis. I did not even notice that they might have done it because of my failure to do it. Did they do so in desperation? They did not complain. Does it say something about my character? Is it a character flaw I did not even know I had? Shucks #!@&^ , I thought I had perfect character. Alright, as I see it, then there are two things I can do about it. Those two things are (1) fix it, or (2) live with it.
Thoughts: Fix it; I could hire a housekeeper. That solution I quickly dismiss as a no; I do not want to spend money on something I can do myself. Or, I could become better at it, spend more time doing it. Ugh! Maybe option number two is good. I just live with this flaw I have had for many years? It is mine, yes, it is. Yep, I think I will just live with it. I can live with the knowledge that some see this as a flaw in my character. I of course, do not.
This story was written as an assignment for Story Circle. The assignment was to write anything about tables. I have so many thoughts about my family and tables, it was hard to choose. However, this story came to mind. My Aunts, all of them are great. These two are terribly important to me. I hope you enjoy it!
It is important to realize that each family get-together in my life involved a meal. Guaranteed, there is no better fare than that which is put out by Southern families. In my family, it was all about the food and what we called “fellowship.” I had a favorite Aunt on each side of the family, both known for putting out a great spread. (A spread is Southern talk for a table full of food)
On my mother’s side of the family there was Aunt Doris who was married to my mother’s brother. She made a signature meal of chicken pie, vegetable casserole and homemade banana pudding and sweetened iced tea. Everything was made from scratch. (By the way, I never said it was low calorie.)
On my father’s side was my Aunt Mary Ruth and she was married to my father’s brother. She too cooked from scratch and she had a garden. She was well-known for her large meals that often included two meats, many fresh vegetables, biscuits and cornbread, fresh sliced tomatoes and 2 or 3 kinds of pie and cake and sweetened iced tea. She was also celebrated for her rice and gravy. Her meals often included homemade banana pudding, particularly if my father was to be there.
When I visited North Carolina as a child, these visits and meals were always included. I thought everybody did this. As I got older, I began to realize that these were special events and extraordinary times.
My father bragged about each aunt’s Banana Pudding. In fact, he insists that each one thought hers was the best and each one tried to outdo the other. This is my father’s take on the situation, not mine. Either way, as far as I know, he was always rewarded in his quest for the best as each Aunt always remembered to make him a Banana Pudding.
One time my Aunt Doris had the nerve to change her recipe. She modernized the recipe using cool whip of all things and did not make the classic meringue that the dish is known for. She did not tell us she did it but everyone could see that the new banana pudding did not have meringue because a dish covered in cool whip lacks the brown edges of meringue. No one spoke a word, and everyone received a serving as usual. Not only did not have the usual brown tipped meringue, it was right out of the refrigerator. Everyone silently wondered if it would taste as good as it usually did. What was she thinking? Change? At her age? “The new recipe is so much easier than the old one,” she later explained. Easier? Since when did she go in for easier?
Everyone dug into their serving. The room was quiet as everyone savored each bite of the cool, delicious, creamy sweetness. The crispiness of the vanilla wafers added a nice contrast to the smoothness of the pudding and cool whip. Then came the big moment. My father asked for seconds! The new recipe was deemed a success. Is the new recipe better than Aunt Mary Ruth’s tried and true pudding with the homemade meringue? That is a subject still up for debate.
Aunt Doris’s recipe appears below. (printed with permission)
3 sm or 2 lg instant vanilla pudding
5 cups dairy milk
1 8oz ctn sour cream
1 9oz ctn cool whip, Vanilla wafers and bananas
Hand mix pudding +milk until smooth. Add sour cream + cool whip.
Layer wafers, bananas and pudding mix
My mother worked in the kitchen. I mean she really worked!! Sometimes making the evening meal (we called it supper in the South back then) could take up to three hours. Most of Mom’s recipes did not require a lot of ingredients. However, they did take time! Below are her meatloaf recipe and her squash casserole recipe. Both are great, both take time to put together and both take a long time in the oven!! I leave it to you to modernize and/or reduce the sodium, fat or transfats!!!
375 degrees 1 hour
1 lb ground beef
1 slice white bread, torn into small pieces
1 large egg, slightly beaten
A little milk
1 medium onion, chopped
¼ cup green pepper, chopped
½ cup ketchup
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Dash Tabasco or cayenne pepper
Enough ketchup to spread over top
Mix all ingredients well (may need to use your hands)
May prepare pan with cooking spray
Place in rectangle or square glass baking dish, at
Least 8”x8” (6”x8”?)
Pull loaf away from sides of pan using a fork and
Flatten the top.
Spread generous amount ketchup over top
Bake at 375 degrees for one hour.
Remove from pan or drain grease from pan
My sister says:
Mom always served her meatloaf with the best-
ever scalloped potatoes. When I was a kid,
I did not like cooked green peppers and I am
glad to say that I am over that. Mom would
save out some meatloaf mixed but before she
put the green peppers in. She would wall
off one end of the baking dish with aluminum
foil and put the loaf, sans peppers, in that
area and bake the rest of the loaf with peppers
in the rest of the pan. I guess there is a fine
line between being spoiled or just being made
to feel loved, but I felt loved.
3 cups yellow squash, but in slices
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup grated carrot
1 ½ sticks oleo
1 8 oz. package of herb stuffing mix
Stew the squash and onions until tender. Mash mix, sour cream and grated carrots together and combine with the squash. Cover with some of the stuffing mix. Bake 350 degrees for approximately 45 mins. Serves 12
Carol was only 9 years old but she knew the way to her Grandmother’s house and knew she was allowed to go there all by herself. Once there, she also knew there were store bought cookies in the bottom drawer of the Hoosier Cabinet in the kitchen. She also knew that she was allowed to go get a cookie from that drawer anytime she wanted. Giving a brisk hello hug to Grandmother, Carol ran to the kitchen and opened the drawer of the cabinet. For the first time ever, there were no cookies to be found. Disappointed, Carol slowly closed the drawer and walked back into to the large living room area of the house where Grandmother was sitting. Carol did not want to mention her disappointment at there being no cookies but it must have shown on her face because Grandmother said, “Daddy, just left, walking up to the store. I bet he will bring back some surprises for you and your brothers and sisters.” (She always called him Daddy, presumably because of talking to the children about him)
Carol envisioned her grandfather, walking barefoot as he often did. Shoes were only for work and church as far as he was concerned. He would walk through the field to the store even though they lived in town where there were sidewalks. The store was only about a fourth of mile away going that way.
In what seemed like hours but was probably only minutes, Carol saw Grandaddy (that is what Carol called him) coming down the sidewalk barefoot as usual balancing a bag on his right side. He always balanced on his right because his left side was hiked up by a large abdominal lipoma. (a noncancerous fatty tumor) He had always had this strange lump on his side and Carol never asked him about it. In any event, he had a bag and in the bag not only was some store bought cookies, but also 3 orange Ne-hi drinks. What a treat! Grandfather knew just what to have on hand in case the grandkids came to visit.
Lois and her best friend, Vicki, were sitting at an outside table at a restaurant in downtown Somerville. The two friends were sharing a late meal at about dusk on a summers’ evening. Because it was late by Somerville standards and in the middle of the week, the restaurant was quiet and there were no other diners at the sidewalk tables where Lois and Vicki sat enjoying their evening. Lois did not see herself as a wine connoisseur; but even she did not think wine at this restaurant was very good. In fact, the food wasn’t all that good either and the service was not up to Somerville standards. Despite the lack luster food, o.k. wine and sub-par service, Lois was enjoying herself. The weather was mild and the company could not have been better. In fact, the conversation was so absorbing; probably something to do with their latest character development in one of their novels, that the pair did not notice a man walking up their table.
Lois and Vicki were deep into conversation when the long haired, disheveled man approached their table. The table was right on the sidewalk so the man could practicably pass by and approach almost as one fluid movement. He looked scruffy as though he had been living on the street. The intruder looked right at them and in a rather bold move he hungrily asked, “Do you have any food you could give me?” He said he would eat it if they did. In thinking about it later, Lois thought it sounded like he meant he would eat it right then and there.
“Our plates were just taken away” Vicki told him. It was true; the waiter had just taken their plates. Without another word, the man shuffled away. Lois and Vicki resumed their conversation without missing a beat. They did not even acknowledge to each other what had happened. Whether it was because they were so engrossed in conversation, and/or were so citified that they took in stride a situation that might have shaken others was not clear.
Odd as it might seem that the man made that request; it is even odder that the two women kept on talking and did not even comment to each other about the strange man or his sad appeal. However, that is how it was with the two of them.
What would have happened if there was a crust of bread on plate? Would they have noticed and then offered it to the man? What if they did give the man a morsel of food? What if he began to choke on the scrap? Then would Lois or Vicki perform the Heimlich maneuver? Actually touch this guy? Assuming they have altruistic views would they have gone that far? Or would they just sit there waiting for someone else to act? What if this mysterious person was a secret morality police? Would Lois and Vicki have passed whatever test the morality police was conducting? Humm…. Good thing there is no such thing as morality police. Or is there?
If anyone reading this blog wants to be in one of my stories, just post a memory you would like to share. I promise to write a short story about your memory!! If you prefer, just write a story and post it as a comment.