Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Simple Time

As I stare out into the world,
     the Autumn colors magnified by the splash of dampness
leftover from last night’s rain showers,
my memories take me back to a more simple time and place,
and remind me of my favorite holiday –

     THANKSGIVING.

I can remember my Grandparent’s house . . .

On the outside -

Bricks, the color of red;
grass, growing down the middle of the short, gravel driveway;
my Grandmother, standing in the doorway.  

On the inside -

Stairs, to the left, that creaked beneath my feet, with each careful step;
small, wooden door frames with copper colored doorknobs;
three modest-sized bedrooms.
   
I remember my Grandparent’s bed . . . 

Dressed in old-fashioned linens,
     it sat high, above the floor, and would take a giant, running leap
to reach the top.

And, downstairs, the living room . . . 
In the corner, my Grandfather's green chair.      
Without hesitation, I would climb into his lap.
No words spoken; just he and I, sitting together in that chair.

And, I remember his guitars . . . 

There is an old photo of me -
a small child's curiosity, peeking inside of one.
And, with a hint of a smile, my Grandfather looking on.  

Today, those guitars sit in my living room.

Every now and then, I dust them off,
     and strum out a few chords and songs.

I remember the paintings 
                       that hung on the walls . . .

I wondered what the little girl (dressed in a blue coat and straw hat)
     was thinking and feeling?
If she knew me, would she be my friend?
And, what would it be like to walk along the cobblestone streets of that inviting little town?
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to transport myself there!
         
And, there was the kitchen . . . 

My Grandmother, standing in her apron,
     surrounded by all of the wonderful aromas of a home-cooked,
Thanksgiving meal.

The window, above the sink, where the ceramic bluebird sat;  
resting on its branches, with the tiny little holes,
     waiting to display dandelions or buttercups, picked by a small child’s hands.

Today, that bluebird sits above the sink in my kitchen.

Visible are the scars where pieces have been broken, and glued back together.
One wing is completely missing.
But, the colors of the paint, as well as the memories, are still quite vivid.

Next to the kitchen, was the dining room . . . 

Where the table was draped in freshly pressed cloth.
The places were set with fine china, polished silverware, and
     etched crystal glasses, waiting to be filled.

Radishes. 

I remember radishes.

The experience of biting into one;
                     crunchy, then spicy, then juicy . . .  

But, mostly, I just loved the way they looked.

Their radish shapes . . .
     each one slightly different from the other,
and the contrast in colors,
from the ruby red (on the outside), to the bright white of the middle.

I remember my Grandmother’s rice,

With onions and celery and turmeric,
     tossed together with buttery sweetness.
Every bite was perfectly fluffy, and tasted extra good with a drizzle of my
     Grandmother’s home-made gravy.

As for dessert . . .

Pies (apple and pumpkin),
     and my Grandmother's famous STRAWBERRY BAVARIAN,
which my family still talks about.

She would serve it up in a yellow bowl that now sits on a shelf, in my cupboard.

The other night . . . 

My kids were looking at the black and white photos of their relatives
     and ancestors displayed on our dining room wall.

My youngest son pointed to the one of my Grandmother, and said,

     “You look like her.”

     "You think so?" I asked.

And,
     just like my Grandfather (in the old photograph),
                      I was wearing a hint of a smile.  

Memories, and the observations of a child . . .
                                                                                are priceless.











Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Salmon Pancakes

It was a Sunday morning.
The air was crisp, the color of the Autumn leaves at their peak - the sun was shining brightly. 
And, on this particular Sunday, nowhere to be until 1:15.

 When I opened the door to let the dog out,
                          the scent of breakfast wafted through the air.     

Bacon.  

Definitely bacon .  . . . . . somewhere.


Maybe I'll cook pancakes for the kids today, I thought. 

And bacon.

Definitely bacon.


As I pulled a cast iron pan out of the cabinet, and placed it on the stove top,
     my fifteen-year old son, Jack, said,

     "You aren't going to use THAT pan, are you?  You cook MEAT on that pan.
                               Our pancakes will taste like MEAT!"

I brushed his comment aside, and continued with my pancakes.


As I poured the batter into the pan, I caught the scent of something unrecognizable.
I flipped the pancake over, and as it cooked through,
     I tore a small piece off with my fingers, and placed it in my mouth.

 It did not taste like pancake.

After a few seconds in my mouth, I was able to identify the flavor,
     laughing to myself as I remembered when I had last used the pan.   

     "Hey Sam!" I hollered over to my twelve-year old, who was in the next room.

     "Want to try the first pancake?" I asked.

My youngest of three, Sam, LOVES his food,
                                    and will try just about ANYTHING.  

     "Yes!" he responded, as he appeared from around the corner. 

He put a bite in his mouth, and I observed him closely,
     as a strange expression came across his face.

     "It tastes . . . . . . WEIRD," he said.

     "Weird . . . . . . HOW?" I asked (a slight smirk on my face).
 
     "It tastes like . . . . . . EGG?" he stated (in the form of a question).   

     "Are you sure it doesn't taste like . . . . . . SALMON?"  I asked.

His face immediately changed,
     as he realized the source of the flavor that lingered on his tongue.

     "Ewww, yes!" he said.  "It tastes like SALMON!"

The three of us exploded with laughter.   

As I took the pan off the stove to replace it with a new one, I said to Jack,

     "Man, I HATE it when you're right!"

In the meantime, Sam
     put the remainder of the "salmon pancake" on a plate,
and asked,    

                                                    "Where's the syrup?" 



Oh, and, if you are wondering about the bacon, THAT never happened. 

I ran up to the local market to buy some, and they were completely OUT. 

The new batch of pancakes (on the non-salmon cooked pan),
     however, tasted good.

More importantly, they tasted like . . . . . .

                                                            PANCAKES.




























Monday, November 7, 2011

Platypus Pie


My twelve-year old son recently came home with a bag of gooey looking green stuff -
     something he had made in his "Teen Living" class. 

     "Guess what it is?" he asked.   

     "I know what that is.  It's play-doh!" I said.  

     "You probably don't remember, but when you were little,
                we used to make play-doh, too," I told him.



The very next day, I found myself sitting at the play-doh table at the preschool,
     where I recently started working. 

We were rolling our play-doh into long, skinny strips,
     then using them to trace the shapes of letters. 

Of course, it was awfully tempting to use the play-doh to make . . . . . .  other things.

A snowman seemed to be the most popular play-doh creation (especially amongst the boys).    

One little girl, however, had an absolute ABUNDANCE of ideas,
     and she was the fastest play-doh creation "creator" that I had ever seen!

The ideas would fly from her four-year old brain to her tiny little hands
     in seconds flat.

     "I am going to make a dog!" she would say.

And there was an awesome looking dog.

     "I am going to make a bird!" she would say.

And there was a fabulous looking bird.

My favorite, however, was the carrot.

     "I am going to make a carrot!" she said.

And, there was the most fantastic, stupendous looking carrot . . . . . .  in the universe!   

Then, she said ( and I wasn't expecting THIS ),

     "I am going to make a PLATYPUS."

     "A Platypus?" I asked.

     "Yep!  A Platypus, " she repeated.

     "Will you make me a nest for my platypus?" she asked,
                                    as she handed me a handful of play-doh.

      "But, of course!" I responded.  How could I say no?

And, as she molded together a very impressive and realistic looking platypus,
     I shaped and formed the nest.

     "How did I do?" I asked, when I was finished. 

     "Perfect!" she said, as she placed the platypus on the nest.

     "I don't know," I said, doubting myself.

And, upon taking a closer look at it, I said,

     "It looks more like a pie shell, than a platypus nest."

Then, I paused, and said,

     "That would make this a PLATYPUS PIE ! ! !"

Her eyes lit up and she SHRIEKED in surprise.

And, laughing at the silliness of the thought, she announced, 

        "YOU CAN'T EAT MY PLATYPUS!"

And, with that, she squished the platypus and the pie shell into a ball,
     turning it back into just . . . . . .

                                           play-doh.