26 April 2007

The corners of my home

I challenged s'mee to an exercise I have seen in different places on the net. It is called corners of my home. Yesterday she did the exercise and the post is on her blog. She also challenged me to do the same.

I find it very interesting that the important corners of my home are related to those I love and care for most. A lot of them you'll not see due to the fact that there are family photos that I cannot share with you. Not that there is anything bad about them or us, but some things need to stay just for family.

The corner I've picked to share is a small corner in my craft room. It is a piece of my family history. It is a physical representation of vivid memories. I really should be posting this at food chronicles as it is food related too. You see, as a small child, I lived in a constant state of turmoil due to my parents inability to be grown-ups. Food was usually an after thought rather than the center of a day. I came to realize that I was a skinny little rail of a girl because we didn't eat enough to keep small ferrets alive much less growing children.

There was only one place that food lived. It was a long drive away, but always worth the drive! We would take turns in the summertime going to grandma's house. She was a meticulous person. Her every action was planned, every movement calculated and very little time or effort was wasted in her day. She was the quintessential housewife. Her very life was to clean, organize, shop and make sure when her husband arrived home, that he would find all was well and a good meal on the table. It was her whole life. Including when we came to pay a visit.

We would travel in pairs, as always. My brother and I would get to go first. We'd pack everything we would need into a sack and off we'd go to grandma's for two. whole. weeks. They were always the best two weeks of the year. We'd arrive and instantly begin working. Lay out your clothes. Check to see if they were clean and in good repair. If laundry needed to be done, it was done. If mending needed to be done, it was completed quickly, before anyone noticed we were a bit unkempt. We would accompany her as she shopped. Being the little soldiers we knew to be with her. Never pleaded or begging for anything at the store. We had been told to be good and not to expect anything but a good swat if we were cheeky.

After the marketing was completed the groceries were laid out on the table in alphabetical order. My grandpa insisted on seeing the purchases of the day. Upon inspection and approval he would date them and grandma would arrange them on the shelves in neat and quick order. She would shoo us out of the kitchen so she could cook. Rarely, if ever, were we allowed in the kitchen to help. We would sit quietly in the living room waiting as grandpa would peruse the news paper or a book. When dinner was finally ready we would be summmoned to the bathroom to wash up. After careful inspection of fingernails and palms, we could join the group at the table. The group consisted of grandpa, but she always referred to it as the group.

At this table the wonders of the world were opened up to us. Wonders of celery, stewed tomatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy! A wonderful roast, or a simple goulash was heaven. The smells and flavors were the best things ever. As I write this I suddenly understand the whys and hows of my affinity for food. Grandma's food was never really fancy, or complex. But it was delicious and better than most of the hot dog or hamburger meals at home.

If you cleaned your plate there was always dessert. However, it was sometimes the simple act of cleaning your plate that was a challenge. I remember once my next younger sister trying to quietly eat when grandpa hollered at her. I was surprised and stunned at his quick order to her to stop! Stop eating they way you're eating! I thought she had committed some heinous act of eating with her mouth full or something equally as impudent. But no, it was the fact that she was eating all of the same item before moving on to the next. He insisted that she take a bite of one food and then move on to the next in an clockwise position around her plate. That way it would taste better and she would enjoy it more. Aaaaack! It is the kind of thing that caused childhood nightmares!

And nightmares came, did they ever. I remember every time I was at grandmas I had more nightmares than anywhere else I'd sleep. I awaken in the night scared and frightened. She'd get up with us and always ask if we wanted a piece of her glorious lemon coconut cake. Or a date cookie. Or a dish of chocolate pudding. "I suppose, if you think it will help", I would answer. "of course it will!" she would exclaim. And amazing but true it always did.

When she died, the only item I asked to keep of hers was her cookie jar. That simple little red riding jar. I remember it oh so well. As you can see from the story above. All those memories and a hundred more, come flooding out of the jar, each time I look at it. I don't remember a time it wasn't in her kitchen. My mom tells me she got it when my mom was in high school. It's old, but it's worth more than anything else to me.