Thursday, July 25, 2013

Worth remembering

They sit in a chest along with doilies and other handmade linens. I can't part with them. They are made by the women of my history. They are pieces of art pieces I take out often and remember.

A lump of dough was the first napkin used by the Spartans. These lumps were called apomagdalie and were made into small rolls then kneaded at the table. I'm not sure that these slippery pieces of flour and water were very absorbent, but then I've never tried this method of hands cleansing myself. Not surprisingly, sliced bread followed. I guess you could eat your napkin if you were still hungry. The Romans came along with napkins known as sudaria. These came in small or large sizes. They were smaller fabric used to wipe the brow during mealtime since the climate in Rome was a bit toasty most days. A mappa was spread over the lounging couch to protect it from food. Difficult to eat lying down. Has to be a messy bit of business.

Of course as a child, I often did what they did in the Middle ages. In place of the napkin, mouths and hands were wiped on whatever was easiest at the time: back of the hand, clothing, a sister's sleeve.The twins seem to like this method.

There was a later tradition where the servant presented the guests with a small bowl of water and a towel. I have been to restaurants that now offer the same minus the servant. I remember the first time I a small bowl of water was set before me. Doing what I usually do in such circumstances, I watched everyone else. Wasn't such a good idea. They were watching me! When the small warm towel was delivered, we all breathed a sigh of relief.

You might wonder what has brought on this napkin mania. Last night I was trying to get to sleep and an image of me as a child sitting with my parents came to mind. There I sat at a table while Dad tied a cloth napkin behind my head giving me a bib (grown up bib). I had forgotten about that simple task that was both sweet and practical. If the napkin could not be tied, a corner was tucked inside the top of my shirt or dress. Of course, it came untucked several times. A simple memory but one that makes me smile.

I like this history of the napkin. I like that I can look at those pieces of cloth in the chest and think of the hands that created them. It is those simple things in life that are worth remembering.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The miles

After I married, I always lived away from Ohio and family. All of the Loxley girls had scattered. We followed our husbands and their jobs. We never really considered that we had a choice. So we packed up and left our roots behind. We nested in new territory.

Vacation always meant packing up the family and returning to Neff Road. Our Christmas holiday was spent heading to the farm. If the weather was bad, we still made the trip. If a kid was sick, we still did the same. At first, I was so homesick that the trips were needed. Then it seemed that we never had our own family holidays and vacations. We never really did what we needed to do for us. At that point I began resenting the trips. I had begged my parents to move closer to one of their daughters so they  could enjoy their grandchildren. Our husbands had good jobs so moving closer to my parents was not an option for any of us.

After my dad was gone, I once again asked my mother to come live with me. "Do you really mean it?" she asked. Of course, I did. I had missed her most of my life. But still she would not come.

I learned a lesson from all of this. I learned that I would always live near one or, better yet, both of my children. If I was going to be grandmomming, then I wanted my grandkids close enough to do it. There was and is nothing more important to me.

Going to visit my sister for a month is, as always, a blessing. I find that living away from her leaves a big hole in my heart. Over the many years of traveling to the farm, there were those times when a sister or two was missing. Years and time seemed to separate us more and more. Yet when June and I get together, there is no distance of miles or time. I asked her the same question that I had asked my mother. Her life is full of friends and comfort where she lives. Here family is there.

It is a hard thing we do in this growing up and growing older. There is a missing that happens that can't be filled. There is a loss of time that cannot be recaptured. There are lessons learned that seem to be learned too late.

We spent vacations and holidays traveling to Neff Road all those years ago. I don't regret it for a moment.

Friday, July 5, 2013

A big view of a small town

First were the fire trucks. Red trucks with sirens roaring from all the little towns surrounding Angola. On and on they came. Big trucks shaking the streets as they passed. A caravan of Budget Rentals. A band of motorcycles. A tiny band of about twenty from a nearby school. Little girls twirling batons. Friends and neighbors lining the streets. Small town USA on the 4th of July.

I had never been to a small town parade. This was a new experience. In Oregon, we have the Grand Floral Parade where parade goers must mark off a place to sit at least a day before the parade. We have the Starlight Parade the night before the Grand Floral. Still they do not qualify for a small town parade.

About ten minutes before the parade began, we walked across the backyard and the neighbor's lawn to set up our chairs along the street. Families wandered along chatting with other parade goers. Children ran out to grab candy that was tossed from passing cars and trucks. A nice cool day spent sitting out under a tree, watching a small town celebrate. It was heartwarming.

I guess we did have parades when I was growing up, but I don't remember my parents ever taking us to town to watch one. I marched in the band in a few. Hated marching band thus was not thrilled about parades.

I don't know if small towners realize what beauty surrounds them. The wonderful sweetness of a small town. The old homes that have been restored and kept up, the local businesses which are supported despite big box stores, the friendliness that greets you when you go to town. Those are the things that should be protected and cherished.  They are true Americana and priceless.

Today we went to Coldwater, Michigan. It was a first time for me to visit the beautiful town. The old houses are gorgeous. The old opera house restored to its past splendor. The old brick buildings calling back days when farmers and fishermen came into town for supplies. The same is true for the other small towns around here. This desire to protect the old architecture of the past is one I hope we can pass on to younger generations. I appreciate the past preserved in Greenville and Arcanum. Once the small town beauty is gone, it is gone forever.

Can't think of any place I would rather have been this year on the 4th than parked out along an Angola street,watching a parade and waving at people I do not know....having the time of my life. Just might be back next year for the next one.