Mom’s Apron

My mom was a great cook, and so were her three sisters.  Mom was the last one living out of those three good cooks, and she passed away last year, August 1, 2010, at 90 years old.  February 15 she would have been 91; our first birthday without her.  She cooked a lot of meals in those 90 years; started as a young child learning how to cook.  My sisters and brother and my cousins grew up eating Mom’s and the aunts’  vegetable beef soup with egg noodles, and adding their cornbread to our soup bowls.  Mom taught me how to make noodles and dumplings a few years ago when she was too frail to make them herself anymore; sitting at the kitchen table telling me how much flour to put in the bowl; put in the egg or put in the chicken broth; how thin to roll the dough; whether to cut in squares for dumplings or thin strips for noodles.  Wonderful memories.

She always wore an apron when she cooked, coming home from church, in a hurry to get the Sunday dinner on the table, throwing on an apron over her good clothes.  And we always had to eat while it was hot, fresh out of the oven or off the stove.  We always ate together, all six of us, and then five after my older sister left for college and on her own.  All the way to the time we left home… and even after we brought husbands and children back for visits… we always sat down together at the kitchen table to eat our meals.

I have one of her aprons now.

Grandma Madeline’s Beef and Vegetable Soup with Noodles
(as written by my Aunt Alleen)

Ingredients:                           Directions:

Beef chuck roast               Cook chuck roast in boiling water;
potatoes                            till very tender; remove meat and cut in
cabbage                             pieces. Cook in broth. [note: vegetables]
onions                               Add noodles when veg. are done. (can
tomatoes                         cook noodles separately then add to soup.)


Flour in bowl, salt.  Make hole in flour.  1 egg, 1/2 egg shell water.  Work to stiff dough.  Roll real thin.  Put a little flour on top.

Serve with hot corn bread.

In an effort to give you a little more help in making this delicious soup, I will try to give you an idea of the amounts per ingredient:

For the soup:
medium-sized chuck roast with enough water to cover well for broth.
4-6 potatoes
half a head of cabbage
1-2 medium onions
small stalk of celery (Mom used to just add the leafy part) the celery leaves can overpower the other vegetables so be careful when using them.
2 cans of tomatoes (Mom always added a can of tomato juice as well; usually a quart jar of her home-canned juice.)
And Mom always added a carrot or two and corn to her soup.  So, naturally, I do too.

For the noodles:
a coffee cup of flour, just dip it in the flour and put it in the bowl.  Rolling the noodles thin is the key.

I now make it with as many vegetables as I want, always leaving room for the noodles to go in at the last.  It may look a little thin until the noodles are added.  Mom never precooked the noodles, and I don’t either.  Use a pizza cutter and cut them long and skinny.  Mom also would make drop noodles on occasion by crumbling the dough into the broth instead of rolling it out and adding noodles to the broth.

Our Little Import

As I was heading off to bed, my computer yelled at me.  I swear it did.  It’s right across the hall from my bedroom, so I get the sweet glow from its little face after I tuck it in and say goodnight… only tonight I was tired and wasn’t planning on tucking it in for the evening.  But here we sit, looking at each other, good buddies that we are, and it (my computer needs a name) was telling me about all my friends and neighbors and acquaintances, via facebook.

One in particular is the little import to our town.  A few weeks ago, in January, I had seen our little import helping to wash the Christmas off the windows of some of the store fronts along our Main Streets.  We have two:  one-way streets that start on the east side of a grass and gravel mall going north then loop around the courthouse to go back to the south on the west side of the same “mall.”  Daren, my brother-in-law, who comes from the city (at least to we who live in a small, small town) had heard about the mall from his girlfriend at the time, my sis-in-law, and upon his maiden voyage to this little borough, was looking for the mall, planning on doing a little shopping, I guess.  To his amazement, the mall consisted of a bunch of grass and a nice, big, graveled parking area; three large sections to be exact with some beautiful tulip trees lining both sides of the southern section, a bandstand on the grassy northern section, and the parking lot in the middle.

So it was on the east side of the mall, up the street (being north) from the post office, that I noticed Karen cleaning windows.  And I was impressed.  She has come here from another big city (once again in relation to our town) (hardly what a true city dweller would actually call a city though) and has embraced our town and made it her own.  So tonight, my computer was telling me (via facebook) that she had attended a Valentine gathering at one of the local churches.  That girl is all over the place!  Just a few months ago she had dressed up and participated in a play to raise money for a good cause.

She has brought our little community together with a facebook page about our town.  Old and new pictures are posted, community events are listed along with where and when they are to take place, people looking for folks from the past are asking for help in the search, and history of the area is discussed and cherished.  We are actually reaching out and touching… without actually reaching out and touching.  And it’s been good.  Good for our town, and good for me.

My appreciation has grown over the past few months for these servants and lovers of our community.  I could name several, but Karen sticks out in my mind as an import turned homey, a gal that gives and cares.  Thanks, girlfriend.

Nancy and Darla… and babies and diaper bags and…

Nancy and Darla with their babies

The neighborhood wouldn’t have been complete without the “little sisters.”  That is, Terry’s little sister and my little sister.  You never saw one without the other.  You never saw either without their babies in one arm and their diaper bags thrown over the shoulder of the other arm.

Nancy lived up the hill from us, a block away.  Those two kept that road hot.  I can still see them walking up or down that hill with their “children.”  They would meet in the middle to discuss important “stuff” or just to walk with the other to one of the homes.

As they grew up, they embraced Barbies (along with the babies) and went wild and crazy over the Beatles.  One of them would get a pretend microphone and stand on the bed and pretend to be the Beatles, singing her heart out, “I Want To Hold Your Haa-aa–and,” while the other, standing at the foot of the bed, would squeal and scream and fall down on the floor… just as the girls on the TV did at the Beatles concerts.

Nancy was Catholic; Darla was Southern Baptist.  I’m not sure what kind of Catholic game they played, but I was privy to the Baptist one where Darla would stand and preach to Nancy and sing hymns.  She perfected her preaching when she was raising her children and ordering them to get dressed, clean their rooms, just generally behave…  and she still sings hymns.  I’m thinking that Baptist preaching Darla taught Nancy may have come in handy as Nancy raised her own four children and had to do a little preaching herself.

Gigi’s House of Good Stuff (and lots of it)

Last week I kept the grandgirls, and we did all of our favorite things.  Kate is four and Ava is on the cusp of two, in April.  One night we painted fingernails and toenails.  It is just too cute on those little fingers and toes.  Kate already had the dialogue for the envisioned scenario between her and Logan about her nails at Pre-K the next day.  He says, “Kate, what is that on your fingernails?”  Kate:  “Fingernail polish.  Gigi painted them at her house last night.”

pink nail polish

It’s pink… of course.

Some of the best times of my childhood were playing house and dress-up and dolls.  So I save scarves and gloves and shoes and purses and jewelry (use the word loosely)  for just such an opportunity.  And over the years, with all my wee friends, (and not so wee come to think of it) those gloves and hats, etc., have brought lots of laughter and fun times.

Kate and her children

Ava in purple hat

Since I now wear reading glasses, the little ones love to get them and put them on.  I’m always amused at how they look all around with those glasses on their faces.  It has to be blurry.  Ava is no exception; she adores wearing them.  She loves to sit on the couch, get a blanket all situated around her nice and cozy, and look at her book.  Oh yeah, she loves Boo, her blue bear, and his little arms, more than anything.

Kate in red hat

Ava “reading”

There is a menagerie of stuffed animals and various dolls at the house.  They are called into service to be the children and pets to a Mommy, sick and in need of medical care at the vet’s, or needing saved by a superhero, just to name a few of the play ideas I’ve been privy to over the years.

two tents are way more fun

One tent just won’t do anymore.  We must now have two, and Kate and Ava visit back and forth.  I’m always amazed at how much “stuff” Kate can get in her little make-shift tent.

Gigi and yawning Ava

Reminds me of her Gigi.

Mulberry Groundhog

Our corner of the world, our neighborhood, was a magical place.  There were wheat fields all around us with “town” only a couple of blocks away.  An arena for horse shows was just down the dirt road.  The big new Catholic Church was being built right across the street from my house, chock full of nooks and crannies for our never-ending curiosity capers, sitting right on the corner that met three houses full of my friends and playing partners.


That was the same corner where the big hill sat for sliding down on our sleds in the winter or flying down on our bikes with hands held high in the air in the summer, right beside the house where Terry and Nancy lived, all the way to the corner where the Martins lived.  There was the  pond that froze over in the winter on which we “shoe” skated, down in the woods on the other side of Gail’s house and Peggy’s house.  A short walk, maybe a half a mile, would take us to “Pee Curve” and the gullies where we swung from one side of the deep ravines to the other on long, thick grapevines.

And we kids had an appetite for adventures.  We wrote and acted in our own plays, then sold tickets to our family and neighbors, even selling popcorn at one of the plays.   We rode horses all over the place, putting the stubborn animals in the local horse shows (at least mine was stubborn).

one of the horses

We made Barbie towns in the basements.  We even had our own village in Peggy’s basement with a restaurant, dress shop… now the details are fuzzy.  We became blood sisters; climbed up and sat in the big tree and cut our palms and rubbed them together.  We snuck out at night and rode our bikes around town.  (Terry made me do it.)

riding bikes

And we made up this really neat game:  Mulberry Groundhog.  Since my memory was kind of fuzzy on the actual play of the game, I enlisted Terry and Gail to fill in the details, hoping they weren’t fuzzy as well.  Turns out, if we were leftovers in the fridge, we’d be so covered with fuzz that we’d be ready for the trash bin.  We did deduce it had something to do with a long stick, one participant being the Mulberry Groundhog with the other suckers sitting on a blanket squirming around to keep from getting whacked or jumping up and running off to be chased… or something like that.  We remember bits and pieces.

days gone by

But what we all remember… is how very much fun we had growing up in our neighborhood.

♪♪Waking Up Is Hard To Do! Woe, Wooooe, Woe-oe♪♪

Court personnel never know what kind of unique situation, clothing ensemble (or lack thereof), funny comments, or intriguing people we will come in contact with on any given day.  Most of the time it’s just business as usual, run-of-the-mill day.  But some days… it’s just worth being there.

sleeping attorney

The day the attorney was thrown in jail for being drunk was just such a day.  It was obvious he wasn’t at his top performance since he was sitting at counsel table falling asleep.

big big book

So when the judge came back in from recess, and slammed a big, thick statute book down on the bench, and the sleeping attorney never even twitched, we were all standing/sitting with our jaws hanging open.  The eyes of his poor little client, which were already big and round with uncertainty, (he, coming from the north down to Podunkville and not knowing what to expect) (the movie Deliverance comes to mind) got even bigger and rounder.

round-eyed client

Ms. Public Defender, who was seated next to Mr. Incapacitated-At-The-Moment Attorney, was requested by the judge to wake up our offending attorney.  She takes her finger and pokes his arm several times until he eventually in a sleepy stupor raises his head and looks toward her.

Ms. Public Defender then takes that same finger and slowly points it and her outstretched arm toward the front of the courtroom at the judge as Mr. Incapacitated-At-The-Moment follows her movement and eventually makes eye contact with our judge at the bench.  The judge called him to the bench for the “have-you-been-drinking” discussion whereupon the attorney adamantly declared his innocence, not a drop of alcohol had passed his lips today, although he did lean in a little closer to say, “But I really tied one on last night.”

Mr. I-Tied-One-On-Last-Night

After consenting to a breath analysis, and blowing a .06 (legally intoxicated is .08), the sheriff’s deputy brings Mr. Getting-More-Alert-All-The-Time back into the courtroom before His Honorable.  The lecture was, as succinctly as I can put it, “You’re going to jail; don’t show up like this again.”

da judge

So having been found in contempt of court, off Mr. Boy-Did-I-Screw-Up go, never once making eye contact with his young, round-eyed client.

The Big Win! For the Packers Too.

Super Bowl!

For the past decade I’ve tried to watch football… and can’t.  Too many memories of watching it with someone I loved who loved football.  This year is different.  I actually made it through the Super Bowl without a single episode of anxiety and with a light heart.  I had a gut feeling the Packers would win (my Colts team having graciously bowed out of the Big Ring game) (okay, maybe not so graciously).

Black Eyed Peas

And as if helping me celebrate my victory, my turning point, the half-time entertainment, although still not great, (I at least try to manage the half-time wardrobe malfunctions) beat some I’ve seen in the past.  I loved the lighted people and want one of those light suits for Halloween!

places to go/people to see

A handful of popcorn in one hand and an ice cold Coca-Cola in the other were my party companions.  Oh, yeah, and the Kindle book for my book club reading in case things got rough, and I needed a diversion.  There were places to go and people to be around, but my home was a resting place with the solitude my cushion.

And I watched the whole game.

Thin-And-Fine Is Fine With Me

My niece, Jill, is hysterically witty and  fun and unique.  She just attracts smileys, fun things out of nowhere.  Sometimes I  sit and reminisce about her and her stories and laugh out loud (LOL) all by myself.

Snow White

She has this little voice, this lilting, melodic, soprano sound —  or maybe it’s just high and squeaky — although after two children and the endless amount of speaking it takes to get them to put their coats away (not counting toys, clothes, food, etc.), the tiny little voice may have deepened.   But the little girl with her Mommy in the department store where Jill worked at the time was enthralled with her… and her voice.  She stood and stared for a long time, listening as Jill talked to the customers, and finally asked, “Are you Snow White?”


Then there was the co-worker that kept walking by Jill’s desk calling her a “hoe.”  So one day, when Jill had had enough, the girl came by, stood at Jill’s desk, and said, “Hoe.”  Jill looked her in the eye as she finally retorted, “Shovel.”

She also got the Meme hair:  thin and fine.  My mother always complained about her hair and always described it as thin and fine.  When Mom would call the house, my husband would say, “Thin-and-fine’s on the phone.”  So now, with Meme gone, Jill is Thin-And-Fine.

losing it

Or at least she was until the chemo took it, left her head barren and void of any hair at all.  But it couldn’t get her spirit.  Nor could the radiation she had to endure for weeks.  The pain that comes with all the “cure” couldn’t flip her unflappable determination to be well and “kick cancer’s ass” as the flair buttons proclaim.

Last time I talked to her on the phone, she still sounded like Snow White to me, and her facebook page is filled with one-worder witticisms.  Her hair is beginning to grow back, and I can’t wait to see the outcome of the outgrowth!

breast cancer ribbon (if it doesn’t link, just copy and paste)

flair button

The Queen of The Clan

My sis, Darla, is now the matriarch of our collective family, as well as her own.  We call her “The Queen,”  “Queenie,” and a few other things we try not to let her hear.  We’ve gotten her queen ornaments, queen jewelry, even tried to get her to put Queenie on her license plates.  Occasionally, she balks at being called The Queen, but I think she secretly tries on homemade crowns when she’s alone… and throws robes across her shoulders.   I’ve not personally seen this, mind you, but she carries herself too regally not to practice.


The Queen Mother, Jack, Queen Mother-In-Training

Before Mom passed away, Dar had been taking control from our mother for several years.  First came moving the holiday gatherings to my sister’s  house because Mom was too frail to have everybody at her house.  Okay.  That made sense.  Then came deciding when we were all going to meet and who was bringing what.  Okay.  That made sense… it was at her house.  Then came the day she started scolding me for something — I’m sure I wasn’t doing anything at all wrong whatsoever and didn’t need a good scolding for whatever I wasn’t doing wrong — and that’s when I knew.

all innocence

The baby of the family had usurped the rightful matriarch heirs (my older sister and myself) (Ben doesn’t count; he’s a guy and has no say-so anyway) and had thrust the Momma Crown right on her own head!  Her regal tone of voice and regal words of wisdom had lulled us into a state of acceptance without our even realizing it.  We had acceded her rise to the Momma Throne as surely as if we had placed her there ourselves.

But what if we really had placed her there ourselves?  Wasn’t she the one who always knew how to get a job for one of us in need?  Weren’t her words those that were just perfect for comforting, encouraging, advising, even scolding?  Was it not she that was always right there when any of us needed something: a hug, a caretaker, an organizer, a cleaning lady, a mover, a prayer warrior, a lighthouse in all our storms?

And weren’t we the ones that always sought her first?  Her wisdom for our worries; her heart for our concerns; her strong back for our labors; her love for our never-ending petitions.

Yes.  The Queen wears her title well.  Little did she know, we’ve had her in training for decades now.