Monday, May 28, 2012

Diners and Church Dinners

So what do diners and churches have in common? Well this time of the year some great home-cooked, affordable meals. While diners pump out their unique menus all year long, local churches step up to the plate now straight through the fall offering everything from chicken 'n biscuits to chicken bbq to lasagna, roast beef, and turkey. Besides the main item you also receive home-baked pies or cakes or brownies, real mashed potatoes with real gravy, assorted salads and vegetables, breads fresh from the oven and a variety of condiments and freshly perked coffee. These days you can eat-in or take it home to enjoy. There's one particular church I vaguely remember going to with my grandmother for their chicken dinner. I only remember going a few times but the aromas coming forth from that simple small church with its tall wooden pews and amazing stained-glass windows remain vivid in my mind. The combination of all the ingredients drifting about that church made you hungry even if you weren't. There were no take-outs back then. There were no styrofoam containers to hold your food until you made it back home. Tables were set and that's where you sat-next to friends and neighbors young and old. Conversations were a part of the menu. It was a time of both sharing a meal and catching up with those who lived around you. More often than not, there were locally-made items for sale sewn by women-most wearing house dresses. Everything from doll blankets to quilts were available with all proceeds going to the church. Up the road from the church was a little diner-type place where my aunt and other relatives loved to go on Fridays for the fish dinner. Besides the fish served on your diner-type, milk-white plate with a gold-filled ring around the edge, you'd receive homemade french fries, homemade coleslaw and freshly baked pie of your choice with an endless cup of perked coffee. Those Friday night dinners were anticipated all week long. While that place has since closed and church dinners now include styrofoam take-outs, the anticipation remains no matter the diner you choose or church dinner you attend. It's just that these days, a homecooked meal is not an everyday occurrence so therefore its enjoyed maybe even more than those days gone by!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Crayons

Just the smell of a crayon brings me back to my childhood growing up in the country. There's nothing like that specific aroma of colored wax-rolled and shaped and wrapped in a paper-covering a lighter shade than the crayon itself. Crayons were like best friends. They were always near. My cousin and I used them when playing school in our chicken coop clubhouse. Our pretend students drew some great pictures with their crayons even when the crayons were just broken pieces. That didn't stop some of their artwork from being chosen to hang by thumb tacks on our bulletin board-the bottom of a cardboard box. At home I always had crayons in my desk ready when needed. Besides drawing, coloring in coloring books was so much fun. We had a JJ Newberrys and a Woolworths next to each other in our downtown back then. Sometimes in the summertime my cousin and I would pack up our purses and walk the country road to go shopping. Newberrys had great over-sized coloring books. I think I bought a few of those but my favorites were the regular-size coloring books with lots of pictures with small spaces. I loved coloring those kinds of pictures because I got to use lots of crayons. I'd spend time planning my color scheme. I was a bit obsessed with staying in the lines. Coloring books weren't all glittery and full of licensed characters. They were simple with simple drawings-lots of drawings. Crayons were the reason I could have found myself in trouble in kindergarten. I didn't mean to take a boy's pencil box home but I had to. It had drawers and compartments to die for and he had it full of crayons. His crayons were never broken like mine. My mother always told me I was hard on my crayons. He also had a little ruler and lots of little pencils and lots of erasers. I loved pencil cases. I'd never seen anything like his fancy pencil box and I wanted one for my birthday so I took it home to show my mother.I never asked the teacher or the boy. I just took it when no one was looking with the intention of bringing it back the next day-which I did before that boy walked in and without the teacher noticing what I was carrying into the room. When my birthday came and I received my own fancy pencil box with drawers and compartments full of crayons and not one of them broken I felt my escapade had been worth the risk! I'm certain I would have felt differently had I gotten caught. Then my mother would have found out and there wouldn't have been that amazing pencil box waiting for me on my birthday. Of all the Santa surprises wrapped in white tissue paper-secured by a sticky sticker and stuffed inside my Christmas stocking every year, it was the box of crayons I always looked for. I could tell by the shape which one it was because that was the only time I'd get the tall box with so many perfect crayons. But then, whenever I got to color or draw with my crayons, those amazing wax marvels with their amazing smell made it feel like Christmas all-year long! (And by the way-I recently confessed my sin to that "little boy." He didn't remember his fancy pencil box-but I sure do)!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Blooming May

The farm across the road from where we lived in the country when growing up was a fun place to visit in May. Being pretty young I was clueless as to why or how but that farm had a May Pole and whenever we went over there this particular month we got to run and dance and skip and sing around it, over and over and over. It was just one tall pole with ribbons fanning down from the top. Somehow it would go around and around as we held on to a ribbon and went around and around. I just remember it was so much fun although it did look a bit out of place next to an old barn and fields of cows nearby. I loved May out in the country. There were so many wildflowers. Fields and pastures were painted in shades of purple and yellow and violet. There were adorable little forget-me-nots, trilliums, clovers, dog-tooth violets, astonishing lilacs, and so many more. Of all the beautiful wildflowers my favorites were lilies of the valley. Lilies of the valley amazed me. So dainty, their bell-shape was always so perfectly intricate. Though small in size their sweet aroma sifted about the trees and hedges; over creek beds and out across the fences and pines. Although not a wildflower, we loved dandelions. We'd pick a bunch of them-pop the tops off and make bracelets and necklaces out of their stems. I seem to remember my grandparents had another use for dandelions. My cousin and I were in our glory when May was in bloom. We'd constantly be picking bouquets. Some we took home. Some we took to our chicken coop clubhouse. Every home deserves a blooming bouquet-even an old chicken coop, sitting in a field surrounded by May's spectacular palette. And when it came to Mother's Day we didn't have to go anywhere but out the door to gather flowers for our mothers and grandmother-truly Priceless especially when given in an old mayonnaise jar!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

I've Always Thought The Moon was Super!

As I write this I can look out the window and see the moon. We've been told this will be a "Super Moon" tonight-bigger and brighter and closer to Earth than the usual moon outside windows everywhere. While this moon this night is bigger and brighter and closer I have to say-I've always thought the moon was Super! Years back when my cousin and I went down to the creek and skated on winter evenings we were able to do so because of the moon. It was so big and so bright and so close to Earth that we felt we could almost touch it as we laid on top of the ice and talked and dreamed. Whenever we'd play hide 'n seek on summer nights the moon tagged along. On Halloween it was the moon setting the stage to many a scary Eve-creating shadows that most certainly had to be monsters and witches and goblins. If we'd gather on the screened-in veranda of our grandparents' farmhouse the moon was always there as my grandmother rocked in her rocking chair and we sat and listened to her family stories. The moon is for lovers and friends and dreamers. Its had songs written about it and dedicated to it. It offers hope. It fills us with wonder. It creates curiosity. It sheds light where there is darkness in more ways than the obvious. It connects generations with memories-like those shared on a veranda of long ago. While that farmhouse has been sold and that veranda torn down, the moon keeps guiding us along-and that, is Super!