Posted tagged ‘fall weather’

“If God had created celery, it would only have two stalks, because that’s the most that almost any recipe ever calls for.”

November 21, 2015

Today is the quintessential New England fall day. The sun is shining, the sky is a light blue, a breeze becomes a wind then a breeze again and the temperature is in the high 40’s, low 50’s. This is the sort of day when all the fathers in my neighborhood would rake then burn the leaves. Each would stand on the side of the street in front of his house rake in hand as he tendered the fire and fed it leaves. The smoke carried that wonderful smell which still means fall to me. I loved to watch the small fires and listen to the crackling sound the leaves made. I remember the smoky smell stayed on my jacket long after the fire had gone out. I miss that smell of burning leaves. It was my favorite fall ritual.

When I was growing up, my mother was an average cook or maybe I should say cooked average foods or common foods. She knew fancy meals and my father were not a good match, and we four kids would probably refuse to eat something for dinner hithertofore unknown. What is it was usually the kiss of death for any new dish. I’m not eating that said in disgust generally followed my mother’s answer. Potatoes were always mashed and so were carrots to disguise they were vegetables. I don’t know why vegetables had such a bad rap with every kid I knew. Just saying the word gave us a shutter. We knew they’d be at least one on our dinner plates, and we hoped it was a vegetable from the sanctioned list of acceptable vegetables. It was a small list. Peas topped my list and corn of any sort was on all our lists. Creamed corn, though, was not a huge favorite of mine. I always hated how it spread all over the plate and its color wasn’t all that appealing. We seldom left food on our plates because my mother was smart. She always served us stuff she knew we’d eat.

When we were older and our palates had expanded, my mother cooked all sorts of food for us. By then I had gotten over my distaste for vegetables except for beans and Brussels sprouts. Potatoes didn’t have to be mashed and carrots no longer needed a disguise. My mother, it turns out, was a fantastic cook. She had hidden her culinary talents until we were old enough to appreciate them.

I was my mother’s sous chef. It was a huge honor.

“Plain food is quite good enough for me. “

October 8, 2013

More fall-like weather followed last night’s rainstorm. Today is in the 60’s and the rest of the week will be the same. I went back to my sweatshirt this morning. The day is a bit dark though no rain is predicted. Every day is closer to the end of deck time. That makes me melancholic.

This morning I had a library board meeting, the last entry on this week’s dance card. I thoroughly enjoyed last week’s empty card except I did have that cleaning frenzy, now gone thank God, so this week looks like a lie on the couch and read week. Maybe I’ll add a few bon-bons.

The sun has just decided to make an appearance. It has that sharpness that comes on a cool day when the sun is just light, not warmth.  I can see it glinting through the leaves. The bird feeders by the deck are in shadow now, a consequence of the changing angle of the sun. If I never went outside, I would still know the time of year by following the path of the sun.

When I was a little kid, I liked fall but I disliked the shorter days because we’d only have a little time to be playing outside after school before homework and dinner. In the summer we’d be outside until close to seven and even later. This time of year five was pushing it and four was more likely. We’d come in, plop down in the front of the TV and watch Superman and The Mickey Mouse Club while my mother cooked supper. We always had a vegetable, usually from a can, mashed potatoes and some sort of meat. My mother was a whiz with hamburger. Her meatloaf was spectacular with ketchup on the top and bacon over the ketchup. We used to fight to get the crispy bacon strips. She’d also make hamburger in gravy over mashed potatoes and American chop suey. One of our favorites was a pseudo-Chinese dish with bamboo shoots and hamburger. That one always seemed exotic. We’d also have chicken, but my mother always baked it. Roast beef was reserved for Sunday dinner. The only fresh vegetable I remember eating was carrots, and I didn’t like carrots until I was older. I wanted canned Le Seuer peas and could eat them every night. For my last family meal before leaving for Ghana, I chose roast beef, mashed potatoes with gravy and Le Seuer peas. I chose comfort food.

“I was one of Them: the Strange Ones. The Funny People. The Odd Tribes of autograph collectors and photographers.”

September 24, 2010

Today is overcast, cool and breezy. A dampness in the air hints at rain. When I went on the deck to watch Gracie, I had to wear my sweatshirt, but I didn’t mind. The sunny, lovely days of the rest of the week were wonderful, but I like today almost as much. I enjoy the contrast. It’s a day to stay close to hearth and home, wear my cozies, stretch out on the couch and read. It’s a nap day.

I have a genetic disposition for collecting inherited from my mother’s side. If she were reading this, she’d be complaining because we all say everything came from her side, but everything did. Some stuff none of us like, but collecting is a favorite. My sister Sheila has a huge Star Trek collection highlighted by a life size cardboard Kirk. He stands in her bedroom. Once I saw him out of the corner of my eye as I walked into her bedroom and thought someone was standing there. It spooked me a bit. My sister Moe has corn husk dolls and nativity sets. These are the collections of theirs I remember best, as I am always on the lookout for stocking stuffers to add to their collections.

My hat collection hangs off the floor to ceiling bookcase in this room. One hat came back with me from Ecuador, another from Morocco. My sister sent me a hat from Ghana she had found in my mother’s house, and two others, made of straw and made in my town, hang on the wall. My other sister gave me her Easter hat from when she was small. It has a long blue ribbon and reminds me of the hats the girls wore in Little House on the Prairie. Most of the other hats are ones I found along the way. Collecting hats just somehow happened. I started with the Ghanaian hats, and before I knew it, I had a collection.

Like my sister, I collect nativity sets. Most of mine come from other countries. They are unique and mirror the cultures where they were made. I have three different ones from Africa. One of the African sets prompted me to made a clay Ghanaian compound with two huts. I made straw roofs for the huts and added pots, gourds and other household tools. I even made a broom, the kind used outside the house to sweep dirt. A beehive oven sits near the compound wall. My house has a mortar and pestle for fufu making and buckets to use when fetching water. A baobab tree stands next to the wall of the compound. That set has become my favorite.

I have B&W pictures of people I don’t know, brides and grooms, old toys including a View-Master with a bunch of discs, many sets of places where I’ve been, even the Ghanaian one.

My house has run out of room for any more collections so I have vowed to start no new ones, but I didn’t pinky swear on purpose.

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