Emerson Drive –
I am feeling reflective today, probably like many others at this time of the year. Much emphasis is being placed on the year in review and the new year to come. I find it interesting to look into the origins of the New Years Celebration and learn what the traditions mean. Did you know that Janus is the name of a two faced Roman God that is associated with false religion (paganism)–the two faces–one looking back and the other face forward-signifies the year in review and looking forward to the coming year. Thus, January is named after this Roman God, Janus, the god of new beginnings. The drinking revelries also stem from as far back as Babylon. Any encyclopedia will give the history of this holiday. I have many things to be grateful for today. I have my family, my friends, and a measure of health. My husband and I have led an exciting life and have had many ups and downs. And I do mean really high ups and really low downs. For a time we lived in a Salvation Army shelter for 30 days and ate is a soup line before we were able to get back on our feet. Our early years were peppered with bouts of alcholism and hospitalizations but always an abundance of love. An overabundance to be sure. Extremely tender moments. Loving moments. Moments of shame. Moments of love. Moments of failures. Moments of love. Always Love. Love is like the stitches that hold our garments together. So if you can be honest enough, what has been your highest high and lowest low? The moments that you want to remember forever and the moments you fight to suppress?
To go along with the post on Friends it recalls to mind a beautiful scripture found in Proverbs 17:17 A true companion is loving all the time, and is a brother that is born for when there is distress. It goes hand in hand with Proverbs 18:24 There exist companions disposed to break one another to pieces, but there exists a friend sticking closer than a brother. The Bible describes a true friend as a person who sticks closer than a brother, is constant in his loyalty and friendliness, comes to the aid of his companion in distress, and gives counsel to him in faithfulness. What a blessing true friends are indeed! Do you know exemplary friendships that were noted in the Bible?
Well kids tonight we are havin’ us some brown beans and ham, with mexican cornbread, and fried potatoes and onions. Tomorrow get ready for your cousins wife’s secret family Chinese recipe of Egg Rolls. She snuck into the family as a war bride and they been fightin’ ever since.
Make it with us, okay? What you’ll need:
Egg Roll Wrappers
Jimmy Dean Sausage or your favorite sausage
small bag of shredded carrots
small bag of cole slaw mix (cabbage–no drsg)
Get ready for some fun and good cookin.
See you tomorrow!
Find Out Who Your Friends Are
When I was dating my husband, Mr. Loyalty, I had just separated and was in the process of divorce. I had driven approximately 100 miles of a 300 mile trip to see him when my car broke down. Nice. I had three small children with me and only a enough money for gas. I was stuck in some hick town in Kansas and had no idea what I was going to do. I couldn’t call my still then husband and ask for help. I could hear the conversation now. “Where are you?” I’m sure he would ask. “On my way to see my boyfriend” I would reply. Even I knew I couldn’t say that. I could not call my dear mother and ask for help. She had recently died and I had no confidant. Not that she would approve, but I was still, and always would be her daughter. She had the wonderful ability to love us girls and support us but still let us suffer the consequences of our actions. I felt I could not call my sisters, they had no idea what was going on in my life at that point. If I had not already mentioned, I had separated from my husband, then met Mr. Loyalty in the hospital caring for him and it was love or at least lust at first sight. Never had I had an immediate strong attraction to someone like that. I was married the first time when I was only 17 and too young to know better but old enough to think I did. Well, Ollie, a fine mess we have gotten ourselves in again. Mr. Loyalty was in a group rehabilitation home in Junction City, Kansas and was not expecting me to come up. I mentioned that he hada fondness that developed into a love that developed into a need that soon developed into a slave for alcohol. It did ugly things to his life and those around him. Looking back it seems like a whole nother person. Anyway, this surprise trip was not going to be a surprise for long. I used part of the gas money to call him and told him my predicament. He asked me where I was and told me to take the children and get a room for the night with the money I had. He would figure the rest out. He said to call him once I got to a room and let him know the number. I did just so. Within an hour he called me and said he borrowed some money and was going to hitch hike to me! I couldn’t believe it. Someone I barely knew was taking charge and going to hitch hike 200 miles to help me in my time of need. He asked if I had money for food and I said no. He said he would take care of it. About midnight there was a knock on the motel door and I peeked out and saw his incrediblyhandsome face. I let him in and he had a brown sack full of sandwiches and some fruit. Before leaving the halfway house he had the cook make some sandwiches for the children and brought s a few extra goodies. You must remember the time frame of this incident was 1984 and in a small town in Kansas everything closed shop at 6 pm on Saturday night. Mr. Loyalty had borrowed money from some house mates and was able to fix my car the next day and I drove him back to Junction City and turned immediately around to go back home. If you know nothing about alcoholics know this–they are manipulative and relentless and sometimes when your stuck with three small kids in a hick town in the middle of nowhere USA that is just what it calls for. He has a generous spirit, is loyal, faithful and true and it doesn’t hurt to have good looks thrown in there too. I certainly found out who my friends are.
I realize that this post puts me in a bad light and I accept that. I am not hear to sugarcoat and make excuses or rewrite history. I want to simply state the situation with the realization that people are a product of their environment and their feelings, emotions, and opinions are shaped by such. There were enough years difference in my sisters and I that I have no recollection of what is was like to live with them as siblings inside that home. Sister #3 married at age 17, #2 married in May of her junior year IN HIGH SCHOOL, not because she had to but just to escape from home. I married at 17 also. I don’t want to say we had a horrible childhood because many others had it far worse. We had a mother who loved and adored us, a loving extended and close family of aunts, uncles, and cousins, plenty of food and clothes on our backs, and a roof over our heads. We had the essentials. We also had a father who was cold, distant, dysfunctional and could turn on a dime. You never knew when or where his brutal assault of words would come from. Living with him was the epitome of walking on egg shells. My sisters proved to be my refuge and a safe retreat on weekends and summer breaks. When I stayed with sister #1 it was like stayingwith a young, cool hip best friend. She would take me to clubs with her and her boyfriends, parties, etc. She would take me to the fair, ice skating, and lavish me with books. She was fun. She was what I wanted to be. She had a fantastic wardrobe and a body to fill it out. She also had an alcoholic husband that she loved dearly. They separated time and time again. They were married three times TO EACH OTHER that is how bad she wanted it to work. Then she finally married a wonderful man and is still married to Mr. Stable and Dependable to this day. She has one fantastic daughter (my niece) and two great grand-kids. I like to think she shares them with me. My sister #2 likes to say she was married and now divorced but in actuality she was married 4 times. Two of which were alcoholics. She always corrects me and says three-that one was annulled and does not count- but it makes for good story telling. I, sister #3 have been married twice. One to an alcoholic. Do you see a pattern here? Yes, all married young to get out of the house, all married alcoholics to take care of to mimic our purpose for living. My sister #2 was married and lots of fun when I would go and stay with her. Then I had my nephews to love. Then she got divorced and my life changed also. By then I had gotten married. It seems all of us girls has taken turns at beingthe fun-loving, adventurous, worry about that tomorrow types alternating with dependable and responsible, nose to the grind stone. And it’s a good thing we have. I hope we’ll always continue to be there for each other.
Just over a year ago I moved from LA back to my hometown of Tulsa, Ok. My husband and I had been living in Los Angeles and the surrounding communities for just over twenty years. And loving it. And hating it. We orginally moved from Tulsa to LA due to dire circumstances. My husband was at the height of his alcoholism and although I did not know it at the time, I was doing something that is common to the alcoholic situation–moving thinking that the drinking would stop if we just moved to a new location. But, it followed us there. After not too long of living the LA life, a judge ‘helped’ my husband find the road to sobriety. There were a few detours along the way, but just as a good navigation system works, he was able to recalculate his course and get back on track. LA was good to us. It was surreal–the climate, the culture, the financial excess, the people, the food, the shopping, the homes, the beaches, the entertainment. It is not called the entertainment capital of the world for nothing. We soaked it up like a sponge. Ironically, it was dire circumstances that brought me back home. My husband and I spent many weeks in trying to figure out the best thing to do. It was not a spur of the moment decision but one that seemed our only answer. There are circumstances that can not be divulged at this point that would explain the reason for our course of action. My husband had to stay with our business and we communicated many times daily by phone and trips back and forth. It has been a long year and a half and hopefully will end soon. But I digress. Let me get back to the title of this post. The opportunity to live close to my sisters and Dad was something I wanted to fully embrace. My mother died at the young age of 53 and my father has had two marriages since her death. There are three of us girls–no boys. I am the youngest of the three. There is sister #1 who I dearly love, she tends to take the mother role of the family since our mother’s death and is a stabilizing influence in my life. Sister #2 is the middle child and is more like me–spur of the moment-fly by the seat of your pants type personality. We are constantly laughing when we are together. She is happily divorced and with my husband still being in California it feels as if I am single also. Anyway, we tend to hang together. And laugh. Alot. This brings me to the point of the lipstick. We were talking and exchanging beauty tips when she pulled out a tube of new lipstick and said “You’ve got to try this. It is my favorite”. This sent us into fits of giggles because it stirred a memory from when we were in our 20′s. Not the 1920′s but when we were in our 20′s. She was driving and pulled up in front of a 7-11 convenience store and started to get out. She opened her drivers door and then sat there digging in her purse to get her money. She no sooner pulled out her billfold when a tube of lipstick escaped her purse and fell onto the parking lot and rolled under her car. She looked at me so sad. “Darn, that’s my favorite lipstick”–the disappointment of losing it clearly registered on her face. We both got out of the car and each got down on our hands and knees and began trying to reach for it under the car. Wouldn’t you know it. It was squarely in the middle. Unable to reach it, I inquired what we should do now. She suggested we go in the store and ask the clerk if he had anything that we could borrow to retrieve it. “Like a broom” I eagerly suggested. “Yes, yes. That will work” #2 cried out. We went in and stood in line awaiting our turn at the register. #2 asks “Might you have a broom or anything with a long handle that we could borrow for a moment. I dropped my favorite tube of lipstick and it rolled under my car and we can not reach it. See, we’re parked right there” she indicates sweetly pointing at our car. The young smart mouth clerk smiles and says “Why don’t you just move your car. Wouldn’t that be easier?” The gull of some people. #2 quickly says “Well, that’s one way”. We did not even bother patronizing his store but quickly left the premises–with her “favorite” tube of lipstick! Memories–they carry us through some tough times don’t you agree. So reader, what is a favorite memory that clearly showed your limited reasoning abilities?
My love of cooking runs deep. My father tells a story of how I came home from kindergarten the first day of school and he asked me what I learned that day. I told him I learned how to make soup and a sandwich. I have know idea where that came from and neither did he. I am sure that as a wild bunch of 4 and 5 year olds we did not sit around and participate in a group discussion of the finer ways to tweak a grilled cheese and can of tomato soup. I bet the topic never came up on the playground at recess time, or during story time, or as we tried to lay quietly on our nap pads and pillows while the teacher sat trembling at her desk sneaking sips from a small silver flask, kept in her top drawer close to her right hand. But, my father called me on it and told me to get in the kitchen and show him what I learned that first day of kindergarten. He stood in the door way and silently watched while I pulled a chair up to the kitchen counter and reached into the cupboard and pulled out a can of Campbell’s tomato soup. I asked for help in working the manual can opener and then scooted the chair to the refrigerator and took out some cheese and butter. I then moved the chair to the stove and used the ever handy skillet that always sat on top and placed the butter in the pan to melt. My Dad recalls my telling him that it was better to do it this way as not to tear a whole in the bread trying to spread cold butter. I then made my first grilled cheese and heated a can of tomato soup for my Dad. I honestly do not know if I remember doing this or if my Dad has related this tale so many times that is where my memory stems from. Regardless, it is a good memory my Dad has and one he thinks of often. My culinary skills have developed greatly over the years and I almost never serve canned soup (almost). But it still produces a warm feeling of childhood memories every time I do. So in honor of my father , I give you a new and improved version of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich for dipping. Until I become a little more accustomed to this whole blogging ordeal I will just write the recipe without further adue. After all, I’m no Pioneer Woman when it comes to pictures with recipes at this point in the game.
Grilled Cheese So Simple a Kindergartner can do it
Take your skillet that you hide in the oven and place it on top of the range. (Make sure it is clean and has not been put away dirty) Take several pats of butter and place in the pan to melt. Take two slices of bread and place side by side on top of the melted butter. Have your sliced cheese ready and place one slice on each piece of bread. I like to use a combination of Swiss cheese or Muenster cheese and American. Grill this until you can peek and see that the bread is lightly browned then flip one bread slice with cheese over on the other one. My main man likes for me to use three pieces of cheese for a scrumptious grilled cheese. Now flip the sandwich over again till golden brown.
Revived Tomato Soup for dipping your grilled cheese
Take fresh tomatoes, or a pint of cherry tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet that has been covered with foil (for easy clean up). Roast in oven (400 degrees) for 20-25 minutes–there should be light brown spots and a bursting of some of their skins. If you do not have fresh tomatoes then use canned and drain the juice from the can into a small pot and treat the whole tomatoes or chopped tomatoes as you would the fresh. In the pot you can place 1-2 cans of tomato soup and equal amounts of milk. After the tomatoes roast put them in with the soup and mask with a potato masher. Add a sprinkle of basil or some dill and plenty of cracked pepper. This is a simple supper that anyone can do, yes, even a kindergartner.