This farm wife says it well. Enjoy this post from Paint The Town Ag….
This farm wife says it well. Enjoy this post from Paint The Town Ag….
Christmas glitter, In my hair,
On the chair, Everywhere.
Cookie crumbs and icing blobs
on the floor sweep some more.
Socks and mittens gone astray
Boots and gym shoes in the way.
Towels and wash cloths in the bath
Band aids for the aftermath.
Family room trashed; no one to blame
Pillows and tablets and video games
Gallons of milk and snacks devoured
Exhaustion creeps in after every hour.
Swim at the Y and bicycle rides
Climb to the haymow; explore outside.
Check the ice on the pond; Be Careful I shout-
I don’t really wish to fish you both out!
Pizza for dinner. View Christmas Lights.
Grandma is smiling. Time for goodnights!
Hugs and Kisses.
After they’re gone, that’s what Grandma misses.
I was feeling domestic this week. Everyone was coming to Thanksgiving at my house. I had a new kitchen to prepare all the yummy traditional foods. Lots of blessings to be counted. There would be twelve of us, including my youngest daughter’s best friend from out of state. The house was clean, the tables were set, the good silverware was carefully placed on the table. The menu was ready.
Turkey, Pork loin with cranberry glaze, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato casserole, oyster dressing, stuffing (a new recipe this year), green bean casserole, cherry delight, and pumpkin bread pudding (a new recipe) replacing the traditional pumpkin pie. I had listed and shopped and crossed off ingredients needed for each dish. I was ready.
I cooked the turkey the day before, sliced it, and covered it with broth to be heated on Thanksgiving Day. Oyster dressing was made the day ahead as well, because when it sits overnight, the flavors mingle. Green bean casserole assembled the day ahead, ready to pop in the oven, and the new stuffing ready as well because it was a made-from-scratch deal. A loaf of sourdough bread cut into cubes, pork sausage, Gala apples chopped, onions, celery, broth from the turkey, and even fresh sage I had chopped myself. My mouth watered as I prepared it, because it sounded so perfect and looked wonderful. My daughter was bringing the cherry delight, and the pumpkin bread pudding was ready to put together and bake while we were eating the main course. Bob Evans mashed potatoes (already prepared) were on sale so I just scooped them into the crock pot that morning to heat up. The gravy turned out pretty good-no lumps. Frozen bread dough to make the rolls. Tastes just as good as home made, they thaw out, rise and melt in your mouth.
Everyone arrived and snacked on cheese and crackers and a dip I had prepared. I finally kicked them all out of the kitchen so I could organize. We eat buffet style so I needed to get things out of the oven and lined up.
I surveyed the meal. The rolls had risen and unfortunately fallen. I had to bake them anyway-no back up plan. I had accidentally bought Cheddar Onions for the green bean casserole-why on Earth did they need to make Cheddar onions? Just to confuse me? The new stuffing wasn’t done. It was jiggly in the middle. I took it out anyway, because everything else was done and some family members had to leave at a certain time.
We all filled our plates a couple of times at least. The rolls tasted ok, they just were not picture perfect. The new stuffing recipe was a big disappointment. It should have been great, but it wasn’t and I have a lot left. Everything else was fine, even the Cheddar green bean casserole; no one seemed to notice.
No one minded the meal mishaps. A good time was had by all. We were all stuffed at the end of the day. Board games and discussions of Christmas gifts was the main business after dinner. A few pictures of the grandkids and catching up with my youngest daughter who only gets home once a year.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my blogging friends. Enjoy!
Some of my friends are posting each day on things for which they are thankful. Many of them are universal blessings that we all share. It’s been a busy month here with harvest, medical appointments, scheduled surgery, visits from out-of-towners, and holiday preparations. So, this year, I am taking the easy way out. I have many blessings. I just don’t have time to list them right now!
Blessings to all my blog readers!
They say love finds you when you least expect it. Not for me. Two weeks shy of 17, I was pretty sure I was destined to be an old maid. On that warm, summer evening in 1967 …I was looking.
There were five of them standing in a circle, all wearing blue jeans and short-sleeved, button-downed collar shirts. There were three of us. We moved in closer for a look.
I’ll take the one with the curly hair, I remember saying. Dark, wavy hair, muscular, with a deep tan. Yep, he’s the one that caught my eye.
He’s probably a lifeguard, I thought.
One of us, probably my friend Lil, started a conversation and soon we all walked around the small town festival grounds.
“Want to go for a ride?” said the short, blonde guy who happened to be teamed up with my dark, curly-haired first choice. We headed toward the parking lot and hopped in the front seat of his Chevy. Willie, the blonde guy drove, I was in the middle, Roger, the lifeguard on the passenger side. We drove around town, out in the country on some back roads, past my house which was just a few miles from town.
“Your dad’s a farmer?” one of them asked. They were both farmers, too.
Great, I thought, just what my mother warned me about. When I reached the teen years, my Mom would always say “Whatever you do. Don’t marry a farmer!” She was joking, I think.
We headed back to the festival, to find our friends.
Lil and Pat were frantic. ”You went off in a car alone with two guys you didn’t even know? Are you crazy? ” I just smiled. They were in shock. I was the sane one of our group, probably the most predictable. It was me who always said, “We better not do this, we might get caught.”
“They’re nice,” I said, “both farmers.”
Pat rolled her eyes. ” Your mother is going to kill you.”
We laughed, and headed to Pat’s house on foot. We all figured that was the end of the story.
It wasn’t. Willie came back to town a few days later and asked Pat for a date. I kept thinking about the curly-headed farmer.
On a Sunday night about a month later, I was soaking in a hot bath after spending a weekend with Pat at the Lake. We fished for Lake Erie Perch in her Grandpa’s boat, laid out on the beach, and swam.
Mom came tapping at the door. ”There is someone here to see you.”
I jumped out of the tub, put my dirty clothes on and ran a comb through my just shampooed hair. When I got to the door, there was that dark, wavy-haired, tan
lifeguard farmer. Willie and Pat were waiting in the car.
Great, I thought. He’s going to take one look at me and run for his life. I had on dirty brown flowered shorts and a Slippery Rock T Shirt. No shoes.
“Would you like to go out Friday night?” I don’t remember what I said, but we set a date and he was gone.
He returned Friday night, half an hour late. We headed back to his hometown and stopped in a local restaurant, Isaly’s, at the corner of Detroit and Columbus.
When the waitress brought his burger and coke, he spilled the coke in his lap. Eventually, we ended up at his house so he could change into dry pants. Then we headed to the Teen Canteen to meet Willie and Pat.
“Where have you been?” Pat wanted to hear all the details. I just rolled my eyes.
“Tell you later, ” I promised.
Later, when he walked me to my door, he said, “May I kiss you good-night?”
That was August 25, 1967. Still kissing that
lifeguard farmer goodnight.
My mom’s hickory nut cake was the best. It was moist and nutty. It tasted like nothing else.
It was also a supreme labor of love. Hickory nut cakes don’t come out of a box. They are created over a long period of time.
An old gnarled shaggy-bark hickory tree grew behind our barn across the creek. It stood alone in the middle of the pasture. When other trees surrounding it were sacrificed for wood or perhaps to clear the way for more farm ground, someone had spared the hickory tree. Probably someone who loved hickory nuts. After a hard frost, usually in October, the nuts would begin to fall to the ground and my mother and I and sometimes my brother would trek back to the tree and gather them. Some already had worm holes. We tossed those out into the field so we wouldn’t pick them up again. We placed the nuts in an old bucket and hauled them back to the house. Upstairs in the old spare bedroom, Mom would spread out newspapers on the floor and scatter the nuts on the paper to dry out. There was no heat upstairs and that was important; the nuts needed to be kept in a cool, dry place.
Some evenings after supper, Mom would head upstairs to crack hickory nuts. She had an old brick and a hammer and she had done this for so many years, she knew exactly where to hit the nut to make it crack in half. She would crack a bowlful of nuts, but not too many because picking the nuts out of the cracked shells took a long time. She only cracked as many as she could pick in one evening. After cracking the nuts, she would use a darning needle to carefully pry the nutmeats out of the shell and then she would place these in a separate bowl. The cracked shells were eventually taken to the basement and burned in our wood burning stove. The sweet smell of burning hickory wood or hickory nuts is like no other fragrance. The freshly picked nutmeats were then placed in the refrigerator.
Sometimes if it were really cold outside and really cold upstairs, mom would bring everything downstairs and would work in the living room while we watched TV or did our homework. Eventually she determined that she had enough hickory nuts for her recipe, and nut-picking would be over for another year. I always tried to help but never developed the skill that she had in cracking and picking the nuts. Somehow she would always manage to pick enough perfect “halves” to adorn the top of the cakes she made.
Hickory nut cakes were for special occasions. We usually had one for Thanksgiving and for Christmas. If it were a good year and mom had time to pick lots of nuts, she would have one for her birthday in February, too. It was a cake made from scratch. A white cake with chopped hickory nuts in the batter, homemade caramel icing made with lots of brown sugar and butter, and topped with perfectly picked hickory nut halves. Quite a treat. Even as a child, I understood all the work that went into a cake like that. We were always careful not to waste even a crumb.
My husband and I bought an Amish farm in the 1980′s with a small stand of woods on the south east side of the farm. I loved this woods because it was not too far off the road and was clean and easy to walk through. I was delighted to find not one but several hickory nut trees in the woods. I am not as dedicated as my mother was, though. I have gathered them over the years but never found the time to crack and pick, let alone make a cake from scratch. In my mind, I planned on changing this when I retired. But the first year I retired was wet and mucky and I got there too late … the squirrels and other critters had taken the nuts. The second year of retirement I had knee replacement surgery and I was in no shape to go traipsing through the woods.
I headed back a few weeks ago with my new knee and my plastic bag and discovered that my timing was perfect. I was able to collect quite a few nuts, although many of them were wormy I still may have enough to make a cake. They are spread out on newspapers, upstairs, in an unheated room awaiting my brick, my hammer, and my darning needle.
I have several good friends who live long distances from me. Thousands of miles. We are seldom physically together. But we are often “together” in spirit. My friend, Elaine, will call me unexpectedly because she has been thinking about me. Always, there is something going on in my life that signals her to give me a call. Several other friends and I reconnect once a year or so, and even though we are seldom together, when we do meet up…. it’s like picking up a conversation from the day before, We are connected in some way.
My mother seemed to always be close to me, even when she wasn’t. She would appear at my doorstep when I needed her most. I would pick up the phone to call her and the phone would ring… it would be her.