Friday, November 9, 2018

Mice in the Pantry

The mice behaved as if they owned the joint, and they took over our cool pantry in our cottage at the beach.  They even had the nerve to chomp a hole in a whole watermelon and eat their way to the center, just the center, and leave the rest.  

Mother was always setting traps hoping to catch the little buggers and all they did was to leave their “calling cards” scattered on the floor or counter tops where they would be seen.  Our beach cottage, by today’s standards would not meet code, as it was built on post and beam, with no insulation, and lots of places for the beach mice to take refuge in a storm.

Sometimes during the night we would hear the WHAP of a mousetrap and cheer into the darkness. Mother had the mortician’s duty and dispatched the trap and unlucky mouse to the garbage container outside in the morning.

On our daily walks to the beach we would carry a gunnysack and gather beach bark which we would use in our fireplace and wood stove in the kitchen.  It was easier to carry bark as they came in chunks and we filled the sack and dragged it back to the cottage to put in the wood box next to the fireplace.  A beach bark fire was the best one to roast marshmallows on and would burn slowly but give off good heat in the living room.

We did not have a refrigerator but an icebox and the iceman would come twice a week and deliver blocks to our front door.  Ham, the meat operato, had a refrigerated truck and would sell all kinds of meat. He was a butcher and a skilled one at that.  My sister and I knew that one shelf in Ham's truck he kept candy bars so we would walk out to Ham’s truck with our mother to make her purchases and then we would each get a chilled Mounds or Almond Joy.  

Once a week Tony the Italian vegetable vender would drive into the oyster shell lane and ring his bell. The women of the beach compound would come running out of their houses to buy fresh fruit and vegetables.

Things were simple in those days, but we kids loved the life at the beach and looked forward to it each summer- mice and all.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Emmy Lou's Pull-Aparts


There was a faint smell in the air and I couldn’t quite identify it then I took a real deep snifter and it smelled like Cousin Emmy Lou’s Pull-Aparts.  They were sensational, big, dusted with lots of cinnamon and warmed up in the oven for breakfast at the beach, they were a big hit with the family.
 
All of us, groggy from a deep night’s sleep, stagger into the kitchen an array of generational relatives trying to find a place to stand.  We all knew the order of respect, Judy and Dave the oldest always got a bedroom to themselves.  My sister and I took the bedroom with two twin beds and we were used to snoring and talking in the sleep.
 
Hostess Cousin Barbara always took the sofa in the second floor living room usually with some large dog perched on top.  Some years it was a Newfoundland, then Bernese Mountain dogs, and as she got older smaller creatures that she could lift out of her backseat car if needed.
 
Cousin Emmy Lou out of touch with the family after many years away came happily back among the flock to share war stories from the past.  She spoke of elegant family members and it was as though I actually knew them, but I was far too young among the hierarchy of our family members.  Emmy Lou did not remember whipping her cousins with sticks when they did not rehearse the summer dance properly.
 
Apparently Aunt Caddy’s cottage became the performance stage, a long outside deck that led down into the badminton court.  The net was brought down and all the chairs in the compound were set up for my family and their friends to enjoy the performance.  It was even covered by the social section of the Aberdeen World.
 
I remember taking a Pull Apart on a dish and finding a place to sit among chairs and sofas in the living room.  The nut-brown sugar syrup dazzled down the cinnamon bread which was soft and warm.  Butter melted instantly when applied.

I miss Cousin Emmy Lou's Pull-Aparts but not as much as I miss her.
 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Wasted Talent

Their success has become their detriment - she a talented illustrator stopped producing once she married a rich man and walked away from her pallet. He a potentially creative writer, fell by accident into a wildly popular romance novel scene, made a lot of money and stopped writing, rendering him fallow by success.  They both chose to turn off their creative talents. What a shame what a loss. 


She supported herself with her art, working street fairs and sometimes commissions.  It was the only way she could support her daughter on her own. Occasionally she would find a Sugar Daddy to augment her income the price she had to pay to survive.  It helped that she was a beautiful blond with lots of personality. Given the limited financial resources she would scrimp to pay for life drawing classes.  Her skills were remarkable and I think of her every time I look at a drawing I bought from her. But once she married a very wealthy man and didn’t have to work, she never picked up a drawing pencil again.  Never.  Like the creative faucet was completely turned off.

He was a startling handsome young man with a desperate longing to write about his experiences, some of them quite difficult.   On the self publication of his first book middle aged female readers fell madly in love with him, reacting to him like a rock star wherever he went.  At book signings throngs of giggling girls would surround him desperate to have a photo taken with him.  Realizing now his effect on the female buying public he began to crank out a short series of romantic novels.  He was a marketing whiz and knew all the social media tricks to gain a sizable following.  If I saw him on Face Book there were photographs of him always with a v necked t-shirt on to expose his well-developed upper torso while holding one of his books.  He encouraged every reader to write positive review on all his books and even offered prizes.

He made enough money to buy his ideal house on the shores of the Sound, a wood house, outfitted by a professional interior decorator.  He was set.  He then stopped writing. Period. No more books.  Why should he need to write? The sales of the novels in other languages are keeping him financially set.  No need to create.

I checked his Face Book recently.  He is has lost his youthful looks.  He looks like a spent man.  No more stories will come from him, what wasted talent.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Eat Your Veggies

“To get in shape!  Eat what you hate”.  Pretty good quote for somebody who doesn’t eat a lot of vegetables. If I were offered only beets, Brussels spouts, kale, fava beans, lima beans, okra, zucchini and black beans, broccoli and cauliflower I would probably lose a lot of weight because I hate all of them and would never consider eating them.  

Well-meaning neighbors used to give me huge zucchini thinking I liked them. I would thank them for their thoughtfulness then dump the obscene things in the compost pile. Actually I do love just the squash blossoms, stuffed with fresh mozzarella, basil and dipped in an egg batter topped with lemon juice but don’t put grown zucchini on my forty-dollar entry plate in a restaurant.  That would tad amount to serving me a worn out shoe sole as a side dish. And don’t come anywhere near me with that slimy okra, bitter tasting southern veggie which might as well be dirt.

My mother used to serve lima beans out of the can, those slightly greenish odd shaped beans, which tasted like newsprint.   Beets are so tannic for my pallet that they taste like left over tea bags, but I have to say that the color of the water they boil in is beautiful. On the other hand I love beet greens one of my favorite vegetables but is hard to find even in farmers’ markets. I don’t like pinto beans or black beans but like refried beans and hummus.  I ate garbanzo beans cooked in the ground once on a hiking trip.  I wouldn’t have eaten them but it was the only thing for dinner supplied by my friend, who was the cook of the day.

What vegetables do I like?  Well I like carrots – raw not cooked, spinach, onions,  avocados, tomatoes, English cucumbers, pea pods, arugula, some lettuces, corn (white only), acorn squash, miners lettuce, cabbage – prefer red, turnip, rutabaga, bell peppers, artichoke, asparagus, horseradish and potatoes.

And there are some vegetables I will tolerate if hidden cleverly by a good cook who adds other flavors to a dish.  My friend Sandra once made a side dish I found delicious and I asked for seconds.  She told me later it had zucchini in it!

I do believe that when I was in India that I must have eaten lots of vegetables that I was unfamiliar with.  And shopping in Uwajimaya’s produce section is always a cultural experience.  There are so many different kinds of unfamiliar options with exotic names like niga-uri, sato-imo, tama-negi and karela.  What an adventure to browse through Uwajimaya’s and try to figure out if something in the aisles are either fruits or vegetables.

Looking over this prompt for today I seem to like more vegetables than I thought I did. Maybe I should take up Asian cooking to provide more things which are “good” for me that might solve my problem.

Monday, February 26, 2018

RobertaSue's Gloves

RobertaSue is such a clotheshorse.  Now she is into gloves, can you believe it?  I haven’t the heart to tell her that unless she is European Royal, woman don’t wear gloves any more.  But she is intent on building a huge wardrobe of soft kid gloves in a variety of colors.  Her walk in closet has dozens and dozens of pairs of gloves from yellow to blue to red in all varieties of hues.


She actually wrote a paper on gloves for her high school English class and I give her credit because she did some serious research.  She started out with one of the earliest records of gloves, found, in all places, with the discovery of King Tut’s tomb.  She then mentioned that bishops, royalty and high-ranking men wore gloves too.  There were the serious warrior gauntlets adorned the hands of horsemen to protect them from injury.  She segued into boxing gloves which was a little far fetched, but nothing stops RobertaSue when she is on a charge.

She remembered as a child wearing white cloth gloves to church on Sunday and she was forever losing one or another of them when she took them off in a heated stuffy church.

Her mother, wise to RobertaSue’s careless ways, made her a pair of mittens with a long strand of wool attached so that they were permanently together.  It wasn’t easy snaking the mittens, around her neck, through the long sleeves and onto her hands, but she never lost just one ever again.

One day RobertaSue’s mother gave a tea party for several of her female friends and Hattie Daniels a spry fashionista came wearing a pairs of turquoise doeskin gloves which she left on the chair by the front door.  RobertaSue picked them up and marveled how soft they were, so subtle, and she put them on her hands.  They fit perfectly.  She held up her hands to admire the color and feel of the material.  Hattie came up behind her and said, “RobertaSue, I see that you are admiring my gloves.  It would make me ever so happy if you would keep these for your own. I have plenty of pairs of them at home.”  Well, RobertaSue thought that it was just about the neatest gift she had ever been given. She thanked Hattie for her generosity and from that point on RobertaSue started adding to her collection.

She traveled to Europe and in every country she would seek out the leather shops and find yet another pair to add to her collection.  There is the pink pair from Prague, the red pair from Rome, the black pair from Berlin and the burgundy pair from Brussels.  It was though each pair had a history associated with it.  

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Let Me Guess Who You Are


Some people are not a bit shy of telling us who they are.  Their cars are plastered with bumper stickers some times to the extreme.  This person has made their sexual orientation clear, their favorite radio stations, beverages, cafes and coffee shops, political affiliations, conservation interests, conventions attended, favorite dancing styles, art galleries, and taste in reading.  In the old days the only bumper sticker one would see would brag "My kid is an honor student."  Then came the "My kid can beat up your honor student." I think that things have gotten out of hand. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

WWII Veteran

My favorite story that he told us was not a pleasant experience he suffered during the WWII.  He is such a kind man with nerve endings exposed that the fact that he would even tell the story is amazing. 

He was in the Battle of the Bulge in December 44 to January 45.  It was the worst winter Europe had suffered in decades.  The American, Allies (and German) soldiers dealt with bitter snow and cold. 

Stewart was in the front lines and they could easily see German troops advancing and as trained as an infantryman he used his weapon and fired.  One German soldier went down but was snared by a barbed wire fence and died in that position and was frozen in place.  Stewart could see that grotesque figure for three days.

As he told the story he was not emotional, rather was matter of fact as though telling a tale he had read in a book.  But I knew better.  That experience affected him his whole life and I am sure daunted him to his grave.  He even met with PTSS support group at the Veterans’ Hospital monthly.  There were boys from so many wars sitting on chairs in a circle retelling their experiences in the Korean, Vietnam, Desert Storm and little known wars in Cambodia, El Salvador, Liberia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, all veterans telling their stories.

Stewart was the only WWII vet and the other younger soldiers must have considered him the wisest man among them and probably considered that their stories would follow them for the rest of their lives, too.


Yet he told his story in his classroom for years as an example of how important it is to get the truth out.