Dinner Time and Holy Thursday

When I was a little girl, supper time was an important time of the day.  I was on my own for breakfast, and lunch was flexible, but at supper time, everyone came together.  No one could start eating until hands were washed, everyone was at the table and the prayer was said.

The Last Supper

Mom said no books, no games, no homework, no newspapers, no elbows on the table during supper.  No radio, no TV, that was in the fronch room anyway, but still it had to be turned off, and no singing at the table during supper. We had a lot of “no’s,” but that left lots of room for talking, asking questions, and laughing.

No matter what was for supper, if I was the table-setter, I put down a plate with a fork on the left, knife on the right, and a teaspoon right next to the knife, plastic glass above the knife, glass- glass for Dad, he didn’t like the feel of plastic.  Of course, the baby only got a bowl and a spoon on the tray of the hi-chair pulled up, to the corner right there between Mom and Dad, no one would give a baby a knife and fork. Sometimes when Dad had to work overtime, his chair was empty.  I always sat a place for him anyway, just in case he got home, so it was a tinsy bit like he was there, even if he wasn’t.

At our house, Mom sat at the head of the table in the rolling chair, so she could get up fast to get stuff.  The table-setter sat in a rolling chair, too, ‘cuz the table-setter was the “hopper,” hopping up and down to fetch things.

Dad liked a whole bunch of special stuff that I thought was disgusting:  blue cheese, sardines, and that white stuff in the middle of the meat bone.  Whenever Dad had his special food, Bonita and Deanna and Vickie begged to have some.  I was pretty sure they liked it just ‘cuz he did, and I had a mind of my own, something that got pointed out to me at least once a day; sometimes it seemed like a good thing, “Way to go.  I always knew you had a mind of your own;” and sometimes it was a bad thing, “Why can’t you just do what you’re told, instead of always having a mind of your own.”

Once I told Dad that blue cheese smelled like his feet.  That made him hopping mad.  Dad hardly ever got mad at us kids, but when he did, it was usually at me.  He kinda liked me having a mind of my own, but not so much me saying all my thoughts out loud.  I figured out later, with the help of Mom, that I hurt Dad’s feelings by saying his feet smelled like blue cheese.  Dads sometimes got mad when their feelings got hurt, instead of just saying like moms do, “Hey, that was mean, now say you’re sorry,” then after that, everything gets back on track.   I always hated being off track with people, especially Dad.

That’s probably how Jesus and all the Apostles felt at the last supper:  all off track.  Here they were having a nice Passover supper, ‘cuz of no Easter yet.  First everybody started fighting about who would sit next to Jesus, just like Deanna and Bonita and Vickie fought over getting some of that white stuff from the meat bone.  Then Jesus announces that one of his best friends was gonna turn against him, and all the apostles  started saying “not me, not me,” and looking around, trying to figure out who had the guilty look on his face.

Judas was a bad guy for turning Jesus over, but I felt sorry for him anyways.  I got to thinking maybe he just had a mind of his own, and thought he was doing a good thing, ‘cuz afterward he felt so sorry he hung himself.  Sometimes my ideas turned out all wrong, like when I took a bite out of the rubber spatula just to see how it tasted, and then it seemed like nobody wanted to listen to the reasons why I did it.  I was just in trouble.

Maybe Judas should have talked thing over with Jesus’s mom before he got the whole ball rolling.  Mary was probably good at figuring things out, on account of most moms are.  Or maybe he should have just spoke right up, instead of sneaking around and making all those plans by himself.  Then somebody would for sure have said, “Wait just a minute now, that’s not nice,” and everything could get back on track.

With all my ability to reason with a grown up mind, this story continues to puzzle me.  Why must the story of our salvation be such a sad and confusing story of  mistrust, betrayal and brutal suffering?   Once long after I was no longer a little girl, a nun asked this provocative question:  Could Jesus’ death have the power to redeem, if he had not been executed and instead, died of old age?  I asked G-Money that question and after pondering it a bit, he said, “Well, maybe it’s good we only sinned as much as we did, because sometimes living a long time and dying of old age means enduring boat loads of suffering.”

I asked Mom that question and she said, “For the love of Mike, sometimes I just can’t believe the things you think about.”  Right after ‘thinking for myself’, ‘thinking too much’ is the next most often compliment-complaint I hear.

Load ’em Up, Head ’em Out

Dad took two weeks of vacation every summer. One week was for getting ready to go, and one week was for the actual vacation. He always took us camping. Dad learned how to camp in the army, but he learned how much fun it could be from Mom. Mom camped when she was a little girl, and that’s before there were even campgrounds.

First off, we had to bake cookies for the trip. Mom had a big lard-tin that had to get filled up with home-baked cookies.

Deanna baked Cherry Winks, yucky, I hated those: marachino cherries and corn flakes. I hated Corn flakes ’cause of the six thousand boxes we ate saving Post Toasties box tops for all those free cereal bowls and juice glasses, and marachino cherries were so sweet they made my teeth hurt.

Vickie made no bake chocolate cookies, that’s the first thing I learned how to make in 4-H Cooking; except for learning how to make a root beer float,  that’s just scooping and pouring. Any do-do bird can do that.

Bonita made peanut butter cookies. Yum, those were best still warm with a glass of good, cold milk. I liked to hold a bite of cookie in my mouth and let the milk soak in. That’s almost the same as dunking, but no crumbs in the milk glass. Mom hated dunking, it was against the rules.

I made chocolate chip cookies, my very favorite kind, and the kind I got my first blue ribbon for in my first year of 4-H. Each of us Big Kids made about 10 dozen cookies each. I had to eat some right out of the oven, ’cause that caramel-good smell with melting chocolate made my mouth get slippery inside and it seemed like those cookies just begged to be eaten. That left a big greasy stain on the newspaper, so I put new cookies on those stains, so Mom wouldn’t know I snitched cookies.

Making cookies took a long time, ’cause I could only bake one sheet at a time, and each sheet took exactly 12 minutes. Let’s see, that’s 12X10 or 120 minutes. Okay that was only 2 hours of baking, but then there was the mixing and washing the dishes, and finally packing into the tin, with a perfect circle of waxed paper between every layer of cookies. Holy smokes, that was a project. Twelve minutes was too long to just sit around staring at the oven, so I liked to read in between. The only trouble was, if I got lost in my book and forgot to set the timer, pretty soon somebody was yelling,

“The cookies are burning,” which was usually Mom, ’cause nobody else paid attention to smoke like Mom did. Grandpa was a fireman, so she knew all about fires and she was scared to death of our house burning. She was always saying, “Are you trying to burn the house down?” That was another one of those questions I wasn’t supposed to answer.

Once I wondered what she would say if
Continue reading

Labor Day Laborers

Deanna, me, Bonita, and baby Vickie

Deanna, me, Bonita, and baby Vickie with Dad

When I was a little girl, Labor Day marked the beginning:  the beginning of the fall, the beginning of school, the beginning of catechism.   The beginning of hard frosts and sweaters, of hard sole shoes and dresses everyday, of schedules and memorizing.  Of course every beginning follows an ending.  And Labor Day marked that too.  The end of summer:  the end of white Sunday hats and sandals, the end of baseball.  Right on Labor Day, we had our last big family picnic of the year.   Always, always all Dad’s brothers and his one sister, Barbara, with all their spouses and all their kids.   All Dad’s brothers were laborers, except Uncle Ellis; all the wives were housewives, except Aunt Barbara, she was a teacher.  I guessed Labor Day was for men to stop working and rest a little, and for women to just keep on working, ’cause a woman’s work is never done.  Anyways that’s what Grandma told me.

Uncle Merle worked for Consumers’ Power Company and Dad worked for Ma Bell.   Those two brothers both liked to climb poles and fix things; and they both liked to tell stories.  Uncle Merle was Dad’s best-friend-brother, like Bonita was my best-friend-sister.  Uncle Merle and his family  lived in our house and farmed with Dad, until it got too crowded.  Those two had the same star-blue eyes and the same smile that tugged up the corner of their mouth when they tried to look all straight-faced and tell a joke.

Uncle Frank and Uncle Gerald worked in the Shop making cars, one for Ford and one for Chevrolet.  I could never keep it straight who worked for which, but those two were always arguing about who made the best cars in the whole wide world, Ford or Chevrolet. 

Dad drove a Dodge; he said those were the best, which got his two Shop brothers all riled up and arguing, while Dad and Uncle Merle Continue reading

Little Girls Then & When: Michelle, Katie, Mandie, and Emilie

20140124_185941Michelle,40, taught Special Education for 10 years, but all she really wanted to do is just be a mom. She grew up with 2 older brothers.   When Michelle was a little girl, she “played a ton outside.”  She  thinks it was easier, back then, to do that. She didn’t have sidewalks where she lived on a dead-end street, with a pond in back;  but she and her friends could ride their bikes.  She played with her friends in the neighborhood and at school.  She loved playing with dolls. (Michelle is a little camera-shy, so I cropped her from a larger picture of her and her Daisy Troop.)

Michelle remembers her first day of school as a day when she got prettied up.  She loved to wear dresses a lot.  Maybe that’s why she was Daddy’s little girl.  Just when she needed her father most, he passed away.  Michelle was just 12 years old. As a result, when many girls are pushing away from their mother, Michelle became very close to hers.

Michelle’s mother taught her the importance of being there for her children.  Married for 13 years, she lives a simple life with her husband and three daughters as her focal point.  That said, Michelle also recognizes the importance of “me-time.”  She plays softball in the summer and has a group of women friends that just go out and have a blast.

For Michelle, the scariest thing about raising daughters is all the stories she’s heard about teenage years. She was a pretty calm child herself. Her advice to mothers is “love your kids, pick your battles. Be patient and above all have fun. Make memories.” It’s so worth the time investment.

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Emilie and Mandie, best of friends.

Katie is 7, and going in the 2nd grade this year.  Her favorite color is yellow because it’s pretty and because it’s the color of the sun. Her favorite number is 100, just because.   Katie’s favorite thing at school is recess because it’s fun and she likes to play with her friends.  She’s still thinking about what she she’ll be like when she’s a grown-up woman. (That’s okay, Katie, that can be an ever-changing target at any age.)

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Mandie in and with her favorite color.

Mandie is 6 years old and in the 1st grade.  She loves purple and princesses. Her favorite subject is Art and painting. Mandie loves being with other people. She plays park district t-ball.This year she was a shooting star in a local production of Aladdin Junior.

Here's Emilie with a dress she designed for her doll.

Here’s Emilie with a dress she designed for her doll.

 

Emilie will be 8 years old in 2 weeks.  She starts second grade soon.   (Wait a minute.  Are you and Katie the same age?  Yes, indeed.  They are twins.) Emilie’s favorite colors are pink and red and purple because pink is girly, red is the color of hearts, purple because it’s the end of rainbow.  Emilie says, “I like ends of stuff: End of stories and movies.”   Her favorite number is 8, because that’s how old she’ll be on her next birthday. She loves Math and Art, and doesn’t want to decide between the two. Oh wait, make that Art, Art Art. She wants to be a Dress Designer kind artist. Emilie will need her love of math for that.  She wants the world to know she’s a really good artist. When Emilie is a grown woman she will do what I want to do. “I will eat pudding whenever I want to.”

If you or someone you know has daughters and wish to be part of my “Little Girls Then and When,”  please let me know.  I always look forward to making new friends.  My e-mail is adelacrandell@me.com.

The Apple Cider Press

apple cider2I read a post a couple of days ago,called “Apples.”  The author, Sue, and I both committed to writing a post a day during October.  She based her post on a writing prompt “if you were an apple, what kind of apple would you be?”  Of course I would be a Pink Lady.  Of course: sweet-tart, crisp, clean and pleasant, but a bit thin-skinned.  That said, all that apple reminiscing made me think about apple picking and cider and a certain obscure memory from my early teen years.

Weekends got filled up with road trips and picking things:   walnuts, and hickory nuts and pears and apples.  Dad loaded up the car.  Mom sat in the front seat, a baby on her lap and a lucky kid squeezed in the middle between them.  The rest of us piled in the back seat.  When I was a little, little girl, me and Bonita liked to make a nest in the back window and sit up there.  That was the berries, I’m telling you. Later, we had a station wagon and we could spread out like royalty.  I liked to sit in the way-back with the Little Kids, if Mom was driving, cuz she was always asking me or Deanna to get out and do stuff for her; like ask for directions, or go in and buy the day old bread.  If I was in the way-back, it was too hard for me to get out.  If Dad was driving, I sat in the back seat.  Dad never asked me to get out and do stuff.  He liked to get out and stretch his legs and talk to people any chance he got.

Once,  we stopped at an apple orchard with an honest to goodness cider press.  I never knew whether Dad planned to go there, or he just saw it and stopped.  Probably the last thing, cuz he liked to drive around and go down roads he never turned down before and discover things.  Anyways, he parked the car right in front of the cider press so we could watch and find out how cider got made.

You don’t really want to know about cider making if you have a weak stomach.  All the apples that fell Continue reading

NaBloPoMo: Solving Problems the Nice Way

English: Flowchart for problem solving.

English: Flowchart for problem solving. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was a little girl, being nice was most important of all; right next to knowing how to think for myself, and solve my own problems.  Solving problems was way more fun than being nice any old day.  Most the time a kid can be nice and solve problems and think for herself all at the same time, but not always.

Solving puzzles and working out answers to problems was my very favorite thing to do.

cowjpgDad gave me lots of Continue reading

The Wet Pants and the Diaper

Untitled clippingI was born in charge.  That’s what Mom told me once after I was all grown up.

Maybe.

For sure, I can remember always being responsible for someone else.  I always, always, took care of the Little Kids, and even when it was just Bonita and me, I was in charge, and I made sure she was safe and I took care of her.  Even though she was only one and a half years younger than me, somehow she never seemed to catch up to me in responsibility.  I rescued her from the 4-H Fair when Black-Eyes dragged her in the dirt.

I took care of other people’s kids from the time I was 10 years old.  I got paid for it too, which was proof-positive I was responsible and in charge.  Once I overheard Mrs. B say to Mom, “Look how she plays with the kids.  She hasn’t forgotten what it’s like to be a kid herself. “

I loved taking care of kids, and I vowed I would never, ever forget what it was like to be a child.  How could I?

Of course, I made a lot of mistakes.  I was really a kid myself.  Still learning.  Still sorta inside myself, and full of myself, and looking at the world from one perspective: mine.

My Pal, Frankie, the Little Kid I was most responsible for, remembers some of my mistakes.  The biggest one:  The Wet Pants and the Diaper. Continue reading