Sunday, March 29, 2020

The cook has left the kitchen

Fried chicken. Can you smell it? Um.....I think I can smell it. Yep, I can! Mom is in the kitchen using the old iron skillet to fry up another one of those critters that live across the yard. Fried chicken. Oh, Mom, you knew how to take that skillet and make memories for your girls and anyone who ever sat at your table.

Fried chicken. Mom never allowed her girls do any of the cooking, so we didn't even know how to do the simplest dishes. I don't think I had ever made anything during my life on the farm. But I can wash a dish, a potato-caked-on pot, a pile of plates and a potato masher with the skill of a woman on KP. So, when I became a bride, I found the kitchen a foreign land in which someone should have tested my skills before the ring landed on the finger.

I can laugh now, but in truth, I was terrified. We were having our first dinner guests. Yes, I was doing the cooking. The best gift we got when we were married was the Betty Crocker Cookbook. Being a country girl, I didn't know what to fix for people who lived in town. My experience had been watching Mom cook for farmhands. So, I thought I would do what Mom always did. I would fix fried chicken. Sounds easy, right? Well, you weren't a Loxley girl or you would know better. I turned to Betty Crocker. She, of course, considered that there might be clueless women out there and had a simple recipe for fried chicken. I followed it to the letter.

When the couple arrived, I was standing in our little, townhouse kitchen frying up dinner. Melanie walked over to me and said, "You're using a cookbook to fry chicken?! Everybody knows how to fry chicken!" Okay. I died right there on the spot. I was angry with Mom. I hated my husband for having such rude friends. I was embarrassed right down to my chicken feet. As you can tell, this incident has remained with me to this day. It is rather like the first time I had a baked potato wrapped in foil and had no idea what to do with it. So I sat looking at it. Hm.

Oh, yes, I have had my kitchen bumps and bruises along my many decades. I couldn't even make Jello! However, at this present age of chuckling at the past, I realize that I was meant to eat out and not cook. And, perhaps I had an aversion to wringing the neck of those nasty birds in the hen house. Kitchen utensils were not made for these hands. Paper plates are my best friends. Now I can make peace with Melanie and her rude comment, because she did not understand that I was made for greater things. At least this is how I reason it out now.

Can you smell it? I can. Fried chicken. I love it. And, I am sure there are chickens out there that are thrilled that I have not gone through life killing off their ancestors. I admire Colonel Sanders and his ability to carry on. Yet, it is not Mom's chicken. Hm. Where's the menu?

Sunday, March 22, 2020

I will make do

As kids, we made do with what we had for entertainment. We used tobacco lath for horses, burlap bags for everything from costumes to doll bedding, bales of straw for forts and corncribs for playhouses. With friends, we put on plays, searched the creek bed for turtles and frogs and discovered new things in nature with each season. We could make do.

Cambridge Dictionary: Make Do: to manage to live without things that you would like to have or with things or worse quality than you would like: ex. We didn't have cupboards so we made do with boxes.

Make do. It seems like all my childhood was 'make do'. We did not have much but made do with what we had. A word came up in a conversation with my sister June. Bandana! Any farm kid knows that their dads had a stack of handkerchiefs (or bandanas) that we girls nabbed when we were going to 'make do'. Of course, Mom grabbed them for our runny noses and used them to cover our chests covered with Vicks when we had a cough or wrapped around our necks for the same remedy.

As for us little ones, those blue and red bandanas became diapers for our dolls and sheets for their beds. In church, one of these lively cloths became Cats in a Cradle. Sometimes coins would be tied into the corner for our Sunday School offering. And to keep babies entertained, they became great peek-a-boo cloths.

Then we got a bit older. Mom would take bandanas and create bathing suits for her little girls. A couple tied made the bottom and a string gathering the cloth in the middle then tied behind the neck with the ends tied in the back of the child made the bra. Bandana beauties! Then we got even older. Those bandanas became headbands, neckbands and headscarves.

We saw those handkerchiefs hanging out of our father's work trousers and watched them flap on the clothesline. We carried them into the field to wipe away the sweat. Somehow they became that overlooked staple that did so many things. We never thought about it. We just made do. Everyday things were essentials in times of need. They even went on to be fads.

Yes, we can all make do. We can manage to live without things that we would like to have. In this process of 'make do', our world will rejuvenate itself. Streams and rivers will rest. The air will clear. The earth will make do reliving the peace and clarity it once knew. Perhaps this is a wake-up call for us all. As for now, I will make do.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Myriad of March messages

I love to check out the Farmer's Almanac! Who doesn't?!  I grew up with it. Farmers believed it while the rest of us heard it quoted often. This is the source of the following exposé of March. "Dad, you would be proud of me."

I thought I should see if March 1 is a lion coming in or maybe just a cute, wooly lamb. My first glimpse was fog outside the window followed by sunshine and spring flowers, adding color to the neighborhood. The budding trees just opened with the first flowering. My verdict: A lamb. Definitely a lamb. This saying probably came from some long-ago ancestors who believed that the weather foretold things to come. This truly is not so much a weather predictor as perhaps a hope. If it comes in roaring, at least let it leave softly. Since our weather has been the mildest on record, I would say that we are probably looking at a sheepish ending to the month.

Here is one I had never heard before: A dry March and a wet May? Fill barns and bays with corn and hay. Well, my friends, this one does not make sense. The barns are full for winter feed. Hay is baled and stored. Corn has been shelled and ground for feed or stored in the corn crib to use as needed. 
If I remember rightly, hay is not baled until May or later. Rather hard to bale it and fill the barn if it is not ready. (Oh, I think I have a headache.)

Another keeper: As it rains in March, so it rains in June. You and I both know that there is no predicting this fact. This was probably believed by the same people who hoped that the lioness that arrived at the beginning of March would surely change and make a cuddly lamb exit.

Here is a rather redundant one: March winds and April showers? Bring forth May flowers. Early flowers will absolutely bloom in May primarily because they are perennials. I believe that we started thinking about planting the garden in April/May. I seem to remember planting zinnias in the garden with Dad and Cousin Gene in May. That might have been the year I thought I would surprise Dad and pulled out an entire row of weeds, aka zinnias. Never planted in the garden again.

Ever heard this one: So many mists in March you see, so many frosts in May will be. I know it is in the Almanac, but I'm thinking perhaps this is an Irish Almanac.

Thank goodness this is the final one: Is’t on St. Joseph’s day (19th) clear, So follows a fertile year; Is’t on St. Mary’s (25th) bright and clear, Fertile is said to be the year. No, I did not misspell Is't. I am thinking once more we are across the pond. If you can match these dates with the appropriate weather, then you might want to get a Farmer's Almanac next year.

I have my own saying for this new month. If there is peace and love at the beginning of March, there will be harmony and joy at the end of the month. Yep, I like mine straight from Pam's Almanac.