A dash of this and a dash of that

 

Daily Post: Dash

A dash of this and a dash of that! Hah! What a joke. Even with a very specific recipe, there’s a better than 70% chance the dish won’t be edible. This is one of those stories.

It all started one bright and sunny, okay “hot,” Thanksgiving in Southern California. You might say ended, but that would be getting ahead of the story.

Most families have their traditional holiday meals, and mine was no exception. Southern cooking—oh yeah. I dream of the shreds of ham hock floating in a sea of collard greens. candied yams, black-eyed peas, and cornbread. “Yum” doesn’t even begin to cover it.

I don’t need a recipe to cook Southern. I can cook Southern blindfolded. It comes natural, even after having been away from the South for 40 years.

This year I decided to add a little variety and make a staple of many other families—cranberry gelatin mold.

My girlfriend assured me this was a “never fail” recipe, even for me. Right! “There’re only five ingredients, and one of them is water. Basically two steps. You can do it!” I can do this. I envisioned this beautiful, red cranberry mold sitting in the center of the table—decorative and delicious!

cranberry jello mold
In My Dreams

 

I followed the simple directions to the letter; I didn’t miss a single one.  Hope springs eternal, right?

Everyone is milling around the kitchen, setting the table, finding serving utensils and checking to see if anything is forgotten.

“Oh, I made jello mold,” I announced triumphantly. I slid it gingerly from the fridge. The platter was ready. This was such an unusual event—by that I meant me cooking something new. Does jello mold count as cooking? Not sure, but anyway. Everyone was watching as I deftly inverted the mold on the platter. I gave the mold a little shake, just to make sure it was loose. I began to remove the mold.

It was obvious immediately—this was not going well. There was a pink, primordial like ooze seeping from beneath the mold. Should I lift it off more? I had no choice. The mold was free and so was the jello ooze. There are no words to describe the hideous, unappetizing goop on the platter. My son was laughing uncontrollably. Everyone else was smiling with a few snickers, but for the most part polite. But this was not the first cooking debacle my son had witnessed.

melted cranberry mold
In Reality

 

He grabbed his phone. “I’ve got to post a picture of this on FaceBook!”

“No! No!” I lunged for him and his phone. He’s got a good six inches on me, but my daughter-in-law in a sympathetic moment, grabbed the phone from behind. I sighed.

I mean really, it’s November in the desert and still hot! Anything could melt, right?

In the closet, under the bed

Daily Post: Tremble

“Get under the bed, get under the bed.” If we weren’t scared before Martha said that, we were then.

My two younger sisters, shorter and faster than I, skittered under and left no room for me..

hiding-under-bed

“Where do I go? Where can I hide?” My nine-year-old voice trembled in fear.

“In the closet. Get way in the back.” As Martha  shoved me, I was overwhelmed by the comforting smell of Mom’s Tweed cologne. I sure wish she were here. She could make this stop. I know she could.

Then we heard the loudest noise I’d ever heard-bang! “I’m going to shoot somebody!” His voice was deep and loud. His Southern accent was stronger than ours. Like “Ahm gonna shoooot sumbuddy.”

We cowered. “Are you alright?” Martha whispered to my sisters.

“Uh huh.” I could tell they were crying. I wasn’t crying—yet, but I was hugging Martha so tight, she could hardly breathe and she was trying to pry my fingers away from her waist. I just squeezed tighter. What was happening?

And then we heard it again. It seemed louder this time. We waited, not breathing. Nothing. What happened? Was he coming inside. Were we the somebodies he was going to kill. I felt sticky all over and my throat hurt from clenching my teeth.

Finally, Martha said, “wait here.” “Don’t go, don’t go.” We were crying loudly. So what if he heard us. “Don’t leave us. We’re scared.”

Martha hugged me and pried my fingers away. “I’ll be right back.” Then she kissed the top of my head.

“Come over here. Come get in the closet with me.” Shaking and trembling, my sisters tentatively snaked the short distance from the bed to the closet. We huddled tightly.

Then we heard the back door close. “It’s okay. Come on out.”

Martha took us into the living room and sat us down on the sofa. “Your mom will be here any minute. Everything’s okay.” We heard the sirens and wanted to jump up and run out and look. “Stay here!” Martha was shouting and tears ran down her face. Martha had never raised her voice at us, ever.

pic-for-trembling

Later, much later, Mom told us that our neighbor, whom we had never met, killed himself with a shot-gun. We didn’t even know what that meant. We didn’t know anything about dying or being killed. But we nodded like we did. We didn’t ask any questions. We knew we didn’t want the answers.

 

 

I “like” your post

Remember those little squares of paper we folded up to flip out with questions like, “do you like me?” You move your fingers to flip the squares to get the answer. Ideally a “yes.” I need one of those little things for blogging.fortune teller paper.jpg

When I like what you have to say, hey, that’s easy. Just click “like.” If I’m lucky, a link will show up and ask for my comment. Most of the time, that doesn’t happen and then I’m searching all over the site to find where I can make a comment on what you said. I really like you and want to say something to you. Geeze, it’s like standing on your front porch and banging on your door. Where are you? I know you’re there somewhere. Open the darn door.

Don’t you want to talk to me? Or the worst question, don’t you like me? It took me a while to find the little “star” on, I think it’s the WP Admin, I’m not sure, but whatever. But I found it, and now I can find your comments to me without scrolling through every post on my blog to see if anybody liked me or wanted to say something to me. It was just a little tedious. I’m rolling my eyes now.

Here’s the point of this post, sorry it took me so long to get here. I’m going to select one blog that I follow or want to follow and read it all, or least a month or two if you’ve been blogging all your life, of your blog. Isn’t that a super idea. Okay. It’s not my idea. I stole it from Sele Moir.

I’m only giving him a little of the credit though. Some credit belongs to Kids and Life After 40

She told me (commented) that we must be related because we had so much in common. I was a little embarrassed because I wasn’t “following” her and she must have been following me, or at least finding me wandering out there somewhere. Well, what if we were related. I always thought I was adopted, so somewhere out there is my real family. Naturally, I had to check it out, so I read her whole blog. Fortunately, for me she’s only been blogging for three months.

I couldn’t believe it! We might be sisters! Well, sister, I’m following you now. It will be easy because we have a best friend in common, sugar. The three of us should probably set up a date for shopping, especially if there are coupons or “two-for-ones” and we can squeeze in a stop at the food court. Both our minds tend to be a little busy and jump around a lot, but hopefully, we’ll be a good influence on each other because we want to write and blog better.

You’ll like my friends. Hopefully, I’ve pinged or linked or hooked or whatever so you can meet them.

https://kidsandlifeafter40.wordpress.com/

https://selemoir.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

The Summer of ’66

The Summer of ’66

“Roll down the back seat window. It’s hot!” I shouted over my shoulder, my hands slippery with sweat on the steering wheel of the 1961 Chevy Bel Air station wagon. The window at the rear of the wagon didn’t roll down, so what little air there was floated to the back and became trapped. Even if every window was open, no air could circulate in the cave-like behemoth.

1961 bel air station wagonAgainst Mom’s wishes, Dad let me have the station wagon, telling her it was a tank and virtually indestructible. “She’ll be the last one standing,” he smiled and gave Mom a hug.

McDuff hollered over the wind, “It’s so neato you got the car!”

“Bitchin, McDuff,” McDuff was what everyone called Mary McDuff. She wasn’t really my friend; she was my best friend Bernie’s friend. Bernie’s mom wouldn’t let her ride in a car with another teenager driving. “Not enough driving experience,” Bernie’s mom had her. McDuff’s mother obviously didn’t object, and I had lied to my mother about where I was going and who was going with me.

I had been afraid I wouldn’t get the car. Mom and I had argued this morning.  “What’s the point of having a driver’s license and a car if you never let me go anywhere.”

“Please,” I begged. “I’ll be careful.” She wasn’t budging.

“Dad will be okay with it. Let’s call him. Come on, Mom.” I sidled lovingly up beside her and felt her weaken.

“Fine,” she said. “But you have to take Susie. And, you have to stop at the Winn Dixie to pick up the roast I ordered.” What a bummer. Susie was my baby sister and five years younger than me. Taking her along would be a real drag.

“If you tell Mom anything, I’ll kill you,” I told her as we walked to the car. “And don’t say anything dumb in front of McDuff.”

“I won’t. I promise,” she said. Susie was sweet and she worshipped me, but she was incredibly stupid about what not to tell Mom to avoid getting in trouble.

“Whatever,” I thought as I stretched out my legs and adjusted the seat. Coming through for my friends was all that mattered. This was my chance to win McDuff over. She had been doing more and more things with Bernie and not including me.  My plan was to become the indispensable member of a threesome. I would be the friend with a car.

“Get in the back,” I told Susie when we pulled up to McDuff’s house.

“Who’s this” McDuff asked as she slammed the heavy car door.

“My sister. I had to bring her or I couldn’t have the car.” I shrugged apologetically.

“It’s cool,” she replied.

“Where are we meeting them?” I asked. “Them” referring to the three boys McDuff had met the previous weekend at White Lake, a summer hangout twenty miles from home. McDuff swore they were very cute, smoked cigarettes, and liked to lay out on the pier tanning. They had promised to treat us to burgers at Hardees.

“It better be on the side by the pier,” I said, “or we’ll have to drive around forever trying to find a parking space.”

On the pier side of the lake was a paved parking lot with pull-in spaces. If the lot was full, sweaty drivers squeezed their cars bumper-to-bumper on either side of a two lane road that edged the lake. I could barely park the wide whale of a vehicle in a pull-in space. Mastering the clutch with the gearshift on the column was much more difficult than I thought it would be. Parallel parking was a requirement to get a driver’s license, and I had barely passed the test in a much smaller sedan. The jutting, high profile tailfins on the wagon made it nearly impossible to see the car behind me. The all steel body was difficult for me to maneuver, and even the thought of backing up terrified me.

“They’re saving us a space,” she said.

Relieved, I turned the volume up on the radio. It was the summer of 1966 and my favorite song by the Troggs was playing. The three of us tunelessly belted out,

Troggs album cover wild thing“Wild thing, I think  I love you

You make everything groovy, wild thing

Wild thing, I think I love you

But I wanna know for sure

Come on and hold me tight I love you.”

We leaned to the center of the front seat and curled our hands as though holding microphones. We rolled our eyes at each other and laughed. It was working; McDuff liked me. Bernie, McDuff and I were going to be a trio of friends.

 

 

Getting Ready for Church

 

Getting Ready for Church-Daily Prompt

           It was Saturday night. My sister and I heard the high-pitched sound of insects being electrocuted as they were lured to their deaths by the hazy, yellow light of the bug-catcher in our carport. Occasionally one of us would swat at a mosquito who was more attracted to our tanned, bar arms than the bug-catcher’s eerie glow. Georgia should have made the mosquito its state bird instead of the Brown Thrasher, my character in the school play.

               The two of us sat side-by-side on the scratchy bench of the picnic table Dad built last summer and hoped Mom would forget we were outside. Once inside it would be baths for everyone and Mom’s soft Southern drawl telling us to get our things ready for Sunday morning.

               Sundays were a big deal in our home. It was an all-day family extravaganza that began the night before, sometimes even days before if there was shopping to be done or food to prepare for the frequent “dinners-on-the-ground.”

               Tonight was “plain.” That’s what my sister and I called it when we didn’t have to do anything extra. We figured Mom might give us a little more time outside. It didn’t take us long to get ready when it was “plain.”

               “Come on in girls.” Momma’s voice was soft, not soft like you couldn’t hear her, but soft and sweet. It made both of us want to make her happy. It was easy to make Mom happy. Anything we did, well almost anything, made her smile. She loved us.  Even when we didn’t want to take the time to lay our little white gloves and black patent leather shoes, we did it because she so obviously enjoyed the fun of dressing us up.

               We didn’t race inside, we weren’t that eager to make her happy, but we didn’t lollygag either. ScannedImage-11

               Mom already had our matching pink chiffon dresses laid out on the toy box at the end of the bed. Each pile was placed in the order we were to put them on, starting with a clean pair of white panties. Depending on what dress we were wearing, a thin white cotton slip and maybe even a crinoline, would be next. Next was the dress. Tonight it was the pink chiffon.   It was a very, very pale pink. There was a three-inch ruffle around the bottom and a matching ruffle around the bodice.  The ruffles had two layers, thin enough to see through. And finally, the shrug. We loved our shrugs. There was pearl beading around the edges and short sleeves.

               Black patent leather shoes were placed on the floor beside the toy box, with a pair of white lace trimmed sox inside.

               Our white gloves and our ivory hats, not white, Momma liked ivory, were on the dresser. We each had a black patent clutch that held our Tithe Envelop. We each got four quarters to put inside. We felt very grown up when we sat in the pew between our parents and Momma would hold the collection plate down low enough so we could place our envelopes inside.

               “Now we’re all ready for church,” Momma said beaming. “Let’s say our prayers together.” We all bowed our heads, steepled our hands and recited the words to the Lord’s Prayer as best we could. Sometimes Momma would stop and say a phrase over and we would repeat it again, knowing we hadn’t quite gotten it right.

               We were ready. Our family would look grand when we walked down the aisle of The First Southern Baptist Church tomorrow morning.