Coffee Morning Chat - So Much...
Did you have a good Labor Day holiday? I worked, and honey I mean worked!, all through the weekend but it was nice all the same. I usually prepare for the weekend on Friday but this past week I didn't and I regretted it after. That's likely why I spent Labor Day weekend working so very hard. From what I've read online many of my friends worked hard, too. It seems to be a popular notion among my set that Labor day is for work.
What was my motive for laboring so over a long weekend meant for rest, relaxation and fun? Oh so many things!
Friday, when I ought to have been busy getting ready for the weekend, I seemed to just piddle along and feel exhausted over nothing. I suspect it was more heat and weather related than anything. I knew all along I had a load of things I'd have to do on Saturday if I didn't get busy but I just kept putting things off and then...and then it was too late. I was too tired. I was, I admit, a bit whiny even if there wasn't anyone to hear me whine. Saturday morning, when I was supposed to be up super early to start this very busy day before me, naturally I dragged about. I did make it out of the house by 8am and went right to the Estate sale being held in town.
I've passed the home where the estate sale was held thousands of times, so I confess, I was nosy about the house anyway. Not nosy in a gossipy sort of way mind you. I am nosy in the way that just is curious to know how people live, who they are, and homes do sort of reveal something about us because houses tend to be very personal. I'd venture that this home was built especially for the couple who made their lives there. I say this because everything was just pristine, nicely clean, freshly painted in good classic neutral colors and all features were original. You could just see it had been so well tended that nothing ever wore out. The outside of the house is dark shingles with a pine green rustic looking shutter and the cutest little handmade rocker and chair to match on the front porch. From the tiles in the bathroom to the countertops in the kitchen and the woodwork all over the house, it was about as vintage a home as you'd hope to find. Just lovely. Three bedroom, single bath, living/dining with fireplace, kitchen with breakfast nook and, not quite original, backporch turned sun room/laundry. Out back there was a snug little garage/shop that was in as good condition as the house.
The woman in charge of the cash box was no doubt about my mom's age, and I suspect it was her mother who was in the nursing home. I couldn't really afford a great deal of what they had on display. It was lovely pieces of furniture (the sort made from real wood) and china and glassware worth every penny and ten times more than they were asking but even so it was a bit high for my budget. I did come away with a few things.
But I admit the thing that thrilled me most of all was to step through the swinging kitchen door (oh how I love swinging kitchen doors!) right into that snug little well ordered 1940's vintage kitchen! True the fridge and stove were newer models but the cabinets and hardware and counters and arrangement were just as they were when the house was completed and I loved it. I spoke to the woman in the room and told her I was thrilled seeing such a cute little kitchen and didn't she just love it, but she wasn't the thrilled sort. She looked me up and down and stepped out of the room as a matter of fact, so there! to me. It didn't stop my heart beating one bit. I just stood there and looked and looked and imagined it with gingham curtains and a formica table and metal chairs in the window bay breakfast nook with an electric percolator and toaster on the table..
Back into town proper. I'd meant to pick up fried chicken for dinner, but the diner was closed for the holiday weekend. I decided I could fry my own chicken just as well and went to the grocery to pick up a couple of hens...and that led me to an unadvertised yard sale across the street where I picked up two items for the change in my pocket. I am sure these folks had nicer things at my price point but they were still setting up and graciously allowed me to come in and view and buy while they were hard at work. I noted their signage as I was leaving and I was well ahead of their planned opening time.
And then I hurried home. John was sound asleep in his chair, so soundly asleep he didn't even hear me come in with my bags banging, dropping keys, kicking off my wet shoes and me just a few feet away from him! He was tired poor thing and I'm glad he got that bit of sleep and a bit more. I'd been home about an hour when he woke and asked "Are you here?" lol. Then he got up and went to bed proper and slept, while I hauled my treasures off to the craft room and started dinner. Katie and her boyfriend showed up just as I'd begun to feel I could have a sit down spell to rest, and that made me hurry to make a peach cobbler to add to my meal. Well hurry never accomplishes it's task without a bit of disaster in my home. I forgot all about putting baking powder and salt in the cobbler batter. Made me double mad at myself because you see the baking powder was sitting right there on the counter. In fact, I moved it to set the mixing bowl down, sigh. I touched it with my own hands and still forgot it!
Well you know those kids didn't seem to notice any flaws with our meal and they ate every single solitary bite, which always pleases me. I love to cook but I love to have my cooking appreciated, too. I will say they might well have complained over that heavy cobbler but not one word did they say. In fact, they scraped the bowl clean! There were no leftovers to put away, just lots and lots and lots of dishes that I'd messed up as the morning went on.
John was starting to look drowsy again and ready for another nap and the kids were getting ready to leave when Samuel called to say he was on his way over. He'd decided to buy himself a truck. He's worked so hard and been so careful to stay out of debt over the past few years, but his car was a constant worry. He really needed reliable transportation, so we were proud to see him tend to that need.
Katie and Matt held over until Samuel got here, we all admired the new truck, then every one of them loaded up to drive back to Athens. John and I looked at each other and sighed with a happy tiredness. It was far too late for him to contemplate any more rest so he went off to shower and I washed up the last sinkful of dishes and packed his work supper. We said our evening prayers and he was off to work.
And I, tired, happy soul that I was, came back indoors and looked at the rocking chair sitting in the corner of the breakfast area and the sunlight falling softly across the chair and thought, "Coffee...I want coffee and that chair." I used the single serve option ( pleased that my daughter in law was so thoughtful about that feature when they got us that coffeemaker!) to make my coffee and I sat down in the chair, looked out across the yard and the field and started crying. It wasn't a sad cry. Just an overload of happy, and tired, and a wee bit of sadness at the end of summer and an overwhelming feeling of being highly favored and mightily blessed sort of cry.
Sunday, was meant to be a nice easy day, you know, to sort of make up for how busy Saturday had been. It didn't work that way at all, of course. I was busy from the moment I got up until well into mid-afternoon when I just sort of collapsed in my chair and put up my feet. I read emails and the Sunday paper and then it was time to get John's work supper packed up and send him off to work once more.
Oddly enough, that rocking chair just sort of calls to me these days. Yes, I got myself a cup of coffee and settled in. I had put eggs on to boil earlier for egg salad and I peeled two of the eggs while they were good and warm and made some crisp buttery toast and spread it with apricot jam and had supper right there in the rocker, looking out over the front lawn towards the east where storm clouds were blowing away. Leaves were skittering across the grass and I couldn't help but think it was all looking mighty autumnal despite the heat that continues. While I sat there it thundered a little and rained a little. Nothing alarming, just a gentle little thunderstorm with more noise than true weather. I didn't move too much except to switch the chair a bit to look out the windows that face north. I could see the storm coming across the woods to the west of the house. Still nothing much except a lot of show and that's the truth. I stayed right there, rocking and looking and enjoying what I considered quiet until it began to lightning a bit. I closed the curtains and started making egg salad when the electricity went out.
I was surprised because we've had some really awful storms and not lost power during them. I figured it would come back on shortly and it did try in fits and starts and then it settled into just being off. I was frustrated. It was only 7pm and I had a dozen things I'd meant to do yet, housework and booth work and blog work...But I decided to just calm down and go with the flow. Hadn't that just been my devotional the day before, to let God have control of my days and plans? I finished making the egg salad, and settled in the living room with the computer. I couldn't work on anything, since the internet was out, but I played one of the games on the computer for a bit.
Do you know how much noise we live with on a daily basis? Noise that we don't even 'hear' anymore, noise that just goes on constantly without stopping? I can't tell you the house was totally quiet at that point. There was the thunder and the bit of rain on the roof and my computer fan was running, but when the battery on the computer died and the rain and thunder had moved on, it was so very quiet that it could only be described as dead quiet.
I sat here in the dark for a bit, because the sun had started to set and none of the sunlight seemed to make it indoors. I didn't want to sit outdoors and be mosquito food and I loathe sitting in the dark. I thought I might get enough light from the window by my bed to read. I opened the curtains and sat on the edge of the bed, but then I thought the bed looked mighty inviting. I dislike lying down with my clothes on, so I went into the bathroom and put on my nightie then lay down in the bed to read. I couldn't see the page very well. It's an old book with deeply yellowed pages and the light was a bit dimmer than I'd thought it might be. I took up my little bedside flashlight and read a bit until the light beam began to flicker.
I opened the window and discovered that outdoors quiet is a whole new thing, too, when you don't have an air conditioner coming on every few minutes. A cricket began to play his tune and one or two cicadas joined in. The frogs in the wetland up the road boomed and croaked and chirruped and a bird sang softly. The air was cool that came in the window, even with no breeze. I watched as the sun set, staining the sky with color.
I let my mind drift back to summer nights spent at Granny's. We always slept with open windows back then without any fear. I thought about how she and Grandaddy watched TV in summer: in a dark room with the windows and doors open and just the screened doors shut. With the dark room the bugs didn't come in so much despite the light of the television.
I thought about those summers when Granny would have all seven of us children at once and we'd go to bed at night with the aroma of parched grass wafting in our nostrils through the open windows. The aroma changed as the dew fell so that by morning it didn't smell like parched grass anymore, but fresh and clean and damp. I thought about how very chilly those early mornings seemed, just after the sun came up so that we'd all snuggle together to stay warm.
I thought about Grandmama and Grandaddy C sitting on the back porch in the dark summer evenings, shelling peas, stringing beans, peeling peaches, shucking corn, or peeling apples. Always busy with their hands, chatting away in the quiet of the dark outdoors.
Then I thought back to those ancestors of mine that I'm so entangled with at the moment from the little town of Culloden. I imagined my 4xs great grandmother and grandfather and their children lying in bed looking out at a cool evening, drowsing their way into sleep, no doubt bone weary from the day's chores and work and grateful, oh so grateful!, for that cool air coming in the window after a hot summer day. I wondered if the sun had looked just like this one I looked at, as it slipped down the horizon, because many things have changed but some never do, you know. I thought and thought about how elastic time is, how in studying the family history I can sense a connection to them and that time and how at moments they must have connected with me the way I think about future generations of my own. I thought about how the sun hasn't changed nor the sky, or the smell of grass or the seasons in all these years between us. I thought about summer and how it's getting harder and harder to tell it goodbye even though I never used to like it at all.
The sun dropped below the horizon and the colors changed again and the clouds shifted and my eyes drooped...
I woke about 9:30pm. We still didn't have power but oh the peace! The dogs hadn't barked even once as I slept. Suddenly the power came on and the fire alarms beep beep beeped and squealed hard and lights flashed on and the air conditioner and fans came on. I could hear the freezers and fridge compressors start up and ice dropped in the ice maker and the dogs went into a frenzy of barking. It was jarring let me tell you, like being jolted from one era to another. Welcome as it was to have the power back, I was a little sorry, too.
I shut the window and pulled the curtains and was deeply grateful for that unexpected gift of real honest to goodness quiet that I'd experienced. I piddled about the kitchen wiping up crumbs, setting up the coffeemaker for the next morning, poured myself a glass of milk and settled at the computer to work on this week's menu and as I sat here I felt so relaxed and so tired, despite that nap that lasted over an hour. I went to bed at 11pm meaning to read the next chapter in my book and instead fell right to sleep and slept like a log. After a week or three of fitful sleep that rest was so appreciated!
I woke Monday morning at my usual time...or so I thought. Yes, that little clock played it's trick upon me again, lol. It didn't matter. I got up and piddled about the house and then took my first cup of coffee and my Bible to the rocker...
A few years ago I felt rather bitter about that rocker. I'd had dreams you see. Dreams of rocking grandbabies to sleep in that chair and getting to know them the way that Granny got to know us. But it didn't work out that way. Josie was only ever here a very few times and Lily never, before that family moved to North Dakota. Jd and Lori started their family out in the northwest. When they moved here, Lori explained that she didn't want to have the babies rocked to sleep, she preferred they learn to sleep on their own, which I understood very well since there are two of them.
I moved that chair all around the house over the years. I'd threatened periodically to put it on the porch (which John said an emphatic "No" to) or in the shed and I shoved it in corners and ignored it as much as possible. But that little early morning session in the chair in the sunny kitchen breakfast nook a couple of weeks ago softened my heart towards the chair.
The other day, John caught me resting in the chair. "Whatcha doin'?" he'd asked and I told him I was resting for a few moments. "I was thinking, John...maybe we should put a second rocker back here. This is an awful nice place to just sit..." John laughed and teased me a little, "You know what's happened? That chair has changed your mind about it!" Well I suppose it has, lol. I've just been in the kitchen and it does look very appealing.
So I had my Bible study in the rocker and finished up before John came in from work a little earlier than usual. He had to go back to work mid-day, so I planned my free time to suit myself.
I was going to go out for the afternoon and scout around for treasure (since I had a fresh supply of allowance), run by the grocery and pick up milk and lettuce to see us through the rest of the week, maybe go to one of those antique malls and look at the way booths are set up, get a bite to eat somewhere I don't get to go very often. But come Monday morning...well my mind was all changed. We had Harvest morning, paying our bills, and such, and I thought about going out for the afternoon and turning around and going out the next morning to run errands, go to the post office and bank. It just seemed silly to leave the house twice when once would do. Since we didn't have to do bills Tuesday morning, I could leave really early, far earlier than my usual 11am and take the morning to scout around the shops, and miss the first of the month traffic. Without the fear of disturbing John's rest, I could really work at home...Sold!
I waited until he left to start the harder work. I spent my first two hours alone in the kitchen. I made up a batch of Chili for the freezer and Chili Mac for our dinner Tuesday even though it wasn't on my menu at all. I cooked macaroni and made cheese sauce for a Mac n' Cheese for the freezer. I cooked the macaroni in the pasta strainer I'd bought at the thrift store (best $1 ever spent) and lifted that out of the boiling water to drain and dropped the spaghetti for a second casserole meal right in the same water. I made Spaghetti Diable and divided into two casseroles for the freezer. I washed up several sink full of dishes. In between waiting for pastas to cook, I worked on a rather cute decoupage project that I hope to put in my booth when it's finished and picked up around the house. Then I rested for a bit.
The pound-cakes I made are from Granny's 'recipe'. I say that in the loosest of terms. It was a list of ingredients. Nothing about method of mixing or how long to bake or any such much needed information like that. Mama gave it to me and it's in Granny's handwriting on a yellowed index card. Granny was a from scratch sort of cook. She mixed her cakes by hand, despite having a lovely stand mixer and a handheld mixer. It was a pottery bowl and wooden spoon for her when she was baking.
Well I cook from scratch, too, but let's save a bit of work if we can. I used the Kitchenaid. I found my go to pound-cake recipe and followed the steps using Granny's list of ingredients which were not in order of mixing by the way. I do believe she meant to keep that recipe secret. She was always saying she would show us how to make it but she never made one when anyone was around to see how she did it. But then I've said before that in the South a woman must have her own pound cake recipe, a recipe that works for her every single time without fail.
Needless to say I fell into bed Monday night and after one very short chapter, I was sound asleep. I woke extra early Tuesday morning. I had plans. Fateful words, lol. Treasure hunting, paying bills, dropping off mail, banking, a grocery run. I wanted to go early and hopefully get home by dinnertime to spend the afternoon with John. You know things never work as you plan don't you? lol John was late coming in from work, breakfast took a little longer than I'd planned. I finally left home about 9am, which was a little later than I'd anticipated. I visited a couple of stores with mediocre results and shirt soaked with sweat to show for it. Gracious but it was hot and no air conditioning at the first store and little at the second.
I was at the bank when John texted me to say he'd been called back to work. I decided I'd stop in at Hobby Lobby and for all the disappointment I'd had all morning, I can say honestly that I was very pleased there. Everything I had on my list of things to buy was half off. By that point I was beyond weary though. I think the heat had drained me. I headed to the grocery store and there I not only found all I wanted but all was on sale.
I hadn't planned to buy one item but I'm glad that I did. As I scanned the plums I saw the loveliest red fruit with a velvety skin. The sign read Red Velvet Apricot. Well they were pricey ($2.99/pound) but buying just one is seldom too pricey. Oh My! That was the sweetest piece of fruit I've eaten in a long while. It's so very hard to describe the flavor. It's not apricot and it's not plum. It's something in between. There's none of the bitterness I sometimes find in plums and a bit more flavor than an apricot has on it's own. The skin is not really like an apricot, but it's surely not smooth either. If you happen to see these fruits in your market by all means try them! I'm tempted to go back and buy more regardless of cost. They are just that good.
There's not much to say about the afternoon. I heated up lunch, having discovered John was on his way back home as I entered town. We ate, and I collapsed in my chair. John said it was no doubt the heat that drained me, but I was of the opinion that it was four days hard labor, lol. I forced myself to get up and do a few chores. I didn't mean to work after John left for his job but I did. I finally settled down again about 8:30pm. I have a date with the television at 9pm on Tuesday. I am thoroughly enjoying "Who Do You Think You Are?" This week they are tracing Trisha Yearwood's lineage. What I like most about this program is that the good, bad, happy and sad are shown. I'm always inspired to dig about in my own family history a little bit more after watching an episode.
Wednesday was another work day. I stopped about 4:30, having accomplished a good amount of work. I made the Deviled Chicken Legs, Back and Wings dish for dinner. Angela asked what my 'favorite cookbook' was...I didn't say the name because I've mentioned it so many times. It's The Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook. I have worn out two copies of this cookbook. Samuel gave me two more copies one Christmas recently so I should have this cookbook at hand until the end of my cooking days. I'm glad, too. Some of the recipes are old fashioned but they taste so good. Like the Spaghetti Diable I made Monday and this dish, too.
Yesterday we went out to the booth (forgot my camera again!) and put in a few more things. I was worried at first because nothing had sold, but then I realized how dead town was this past Friday and Saturday. I think everyone either left for the weekend or did as I did and worked their way through it. The shop is open only four days a week. John made the shelves a little more stable and I confess I thought it looked rather nice. But I don't believe I'll go in next week unless they call and say it's empty.
After the flea market we went on to get groceries. I did very well again this week. I had a little of the money I budgeted leftover again. I am setting that aside to put towards my next beef purchase. I can hardly believe that after months and months of struggle I've finally got this under control. I truly do have to thank Aldi for that. I buy 90% of my grocery purchases there now and it's made all the difference. I think at least half of what I bought yesterday was replacement for items I pulled from my pantry in the past two weeks. We usually stop and pick up take out on our way home but this week I told John we had plenty of leftovers in the fridge, so we came home and reheated those while we unloaded groceries.
The plan of course, was that the rest of the afternoon was for rest...plans? John decided he'd mow grass later that afternoon and when he's out of the house I tend to get busy and do things. So I worked, too. We've done all the basics now so we can really work light tomorrow...I'm not taking any bets on that statement. I seem to be in my "It's looking like autumn despite the heat and my energy is high once more" mode, lol.
John has asked me for a lunch date one day this week while he's off. I'm looking forward to that. We usually do a fast food meal when he's off. It's seldom we go to a restaurant and have a proper sit down meal.
What a full week it's been! I haven't forgotten my series on Home Economics. I'll be getting something posted on that this week I hope. And now, it's time to end this coffee chat. I've go so many more things to do, haven't you? See you next week!