March 28, 2012

It arrived in the mail yesterday, straight from amazon.com – the shiny new waffle iron, with gleaming white top and bottom, and streamlined navy blue handle that matched the snappy signature of the Proctor-Silex “morning baker” written in the circle center. Opening like a metal monster mouth, it was all-business, promising to produce crisp-on-the-outside, fluffy-creamy-on-the-inside, just-right, 4-sectioned waffles sure to satisfy all, either the supper-starved or the sunrise-seekers. Besides that, there inside the instruction pamphlet, were also recipes, including one for chocolate waffles. I’d never thought of chocolate waffles, but it does open up a whole new world….even as it closes out an old one,….since the receiving of this postal package signaled an end – the end of an entire era.

When the girls were growing up, we had a tradition of going to Grandma’s house on Wednesdays for supper, which often featured her popular waffles – made with her old waffle iron that I guess dated back to the 50’s or 60’s. She would rotate menus, from the waffles one week, to spaghetti the next, and corned beef hash on the third, thus completing her normal repertoire, which was fine with us. We loved the first two, and the corned beef was OK, too, especially for me, since it meant not having to cook one day a week; I really wasn’t fussy at all and didn’t care what she cooked! To reciprocate, I had them over at our house on Monday nights – when she and Grandad walked across the street to where we lived. Uncle Steve joined our little group when he retired from the military and moved back to town, and in later years, after Grandad died, Aunt Sara and Aunt Bernice would come, then when Aunt Sara was gone, Aunt Bernice would pick up Rachel, still giving us three guests each week.

After Grandma died, when I was cleaning out her house, and got to place where she kept the waffle iron, I didn’t hesitate, but took it right over to our house and put it in my cupboard. Someone had to carry on the waffle tradition, and the general consensus of the rest of the family was that I was elected. I knew I would be and I wasn’t sorry. Waffles weren’t brain surgery. And so I began making some waffles. But the girls were already grown by then, and the normal crew wasn’t across the street, and it really wasn’t the same. And now both the girls, along with Em’s family, are on a diet that doesn’t include waffles, so even when they’ve visited, the waffle iron has stayed in the closet. So all of these things, combined with the fact that Grandma’s old iron had begun to frighten me with its sizzling sounds, steam, slightly stinky electrical smell, and hot cord, were all factors in the purchase of this new piece of B&B equipment. I told Em about it on the phone this morning and she said, “Did you get one with the little holes? That’s my favorite.” But I had to tell her I’d gotten a Belgian one. (And this was strictly a business decision: once when I’d promised Aunt Bernice waffles at dinner – which delighted her – and then produced the flat, limp’ish ones that Grandma’s iron made (which is the way I like them) – her face fell. She quickly changed it, but I knew she’d thought, “I was expecting Belgian waffles with strawberries like they serve at Bob Evans,” and I knew that others might have the same expectation – maybe not a Bob Evans one like Aunt Bernice’s – but you get the point). I’d felt I’d had no choice but to get the big holes. And they’ll be OK; they really will.

Shiloh Sociability

March 10, 2012

“‘I know you want a dog, Marty,’ Ma says to me on Thursday. She’s sitting at the kitchen table with cardboard boxes all around her, folding a stack of letters and putting them in envelopes. Ma gets work to do here at home anytime she can. ‘I wish we had the money so every one of you kids could have a pet. But with Grandma seeming to need more care, we just don’t, and that’s that.’
I nod. Ma knows me better’n I know myself sometimes, but she don’t have this straight. I don’t want just any dog. I want Shiloh, because he needs me. Needs me bad.” (Shiloh, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2000,p 30).

When I was a little girl, I certainly looked forward to my birthday each year. Made more distinctive to me because mine fell a day after Aunt Bernice’s on the calendar, it always was a day when I felt special, and I was fortunate to have parents who understood the importance of the day to a young child. Because I can still remember the joy of seeing my beautifully wrapped gifts (Aunt Bernice was the gift wrapping queen) that were just for me and for no one else, my guess is that we never grow too old or too “mature” to lose the longing for this personal affirmation. And I’m thinking that it doesn’t have to come to us only on a birthday. Whenever this kind of individual attention brushes up against us with our names written all over it, it’s captivating and wonderful…..which is why there are 4 fresh daffodils (2 per person) upstairs in the bathroom window, and 4 chocolate chip cookies (2 of 2 different kinds) lying on the dining room table and 2 small wire baskets filled with Hersheys kisses next to the Simply Bed & Bread welcome card in Emily’s Room. Our guests coming in today are celebrating two years together: a theme of “Two.” I can’t put her name on the card that is also waiting for the couple who is arriving because I don’t know it yet, but hopefully, they’ll both be warmed by the personal gifts of The Twos that have their “names” written all over them in different ways, without the words, but with the welcome that is waiting as well.

March Madness!

March 6, 2012

What do you think of when March rolls around? Hoosier hysteria and March Madness? The month coming in like a lion, going out like a lamb? All things Irish? Maybe Flannery O’Connor? (OK, she was American, but she did have Irish roots.) Irish soda bread? Irish Breakfast Tea?

After today’s guest left, I was thinking of a different kind of madness, the kind that isn’t confined just to March, but to most days of the year – the frenetic frenzy brought by a scurrying schedule with no room, or permission given, for slowing down at all.

Frank’s rushed, rapid words, rapacious for space and breath, left me breathless. With his sentiments chopped into quick queries and short sentences, he did get a lot said in a small amount of time. He was obviously a man used to squeezing space in between brief seconds and minutes, so after settling the time in the morning when he would be coming down, he retired to his room upstairs. In the morning, I had his tea ready when I heard the sound of his shoes on the steps, and he came in saying that he didn’t know what had come over him. The chair had been so comfortable and the lights just right and he’d been able to read the entire NY Times from front to back, something that he hardly ever did. Then feeling sleepy and relaxed, even though it was early, he’d slept in the cozy bed the whole night through and didn’t wake till later than his usual time. He said that something had happened to him, that he had become LAZY! I said, “Oh no, NO, not lazy! Just relaxed enough to have a real rest, something which you must’ve most certainly needed.” He said, “Not lazy?” I reassured him that it was not that. So he was able to settle in for a cup of tea and some conversation, enjoying a respite from the rushing, and a calm, instead of crazy, start to his day. I soaked in his enjoyment, grateful that we could offer him a spot of solace. As for me, I was still basking in his statement from the day before: “I didn’t know places like this still existed!” Yay. Out with the madness; in with the still.

Location, Location, Location.

You might notice the WAC Administration Building cupola out of the corner of your eye as you walk onto Simply Bed & Bread's brick path, since our house is just a stone's throw away from the college. Or it might be the ...
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