Sunday, April 15, 2012

Uncovering an Ancient Truth

Just lately, as the days grow warmer, in order to get my hair out of my face without paying for a haircut, I’ve been pulling it back into a pony tail on some occasions (okay, on all the occasions when I don't feel like washing it). Although I was keenly aware that uncovering my face just might not be all that esthetically pleasing to the people I encounter on a daily basis, I did think it might look all right from the side and back. That’s before I used the photo device on my handy i-phone and discovered just what else I’d uncovered. 

Old people ears!

 I’ve always been relatively proud of my ears, ones I didn’t inherit from my jug-headed father, ones that weren’t too little like chewed up chunks of gum people attached to the underside of a dime store lunch counter, ones that were shaped nicely and just the right size.

I remember I was a teenager before I talked my mother into having my ears pierced and she made me to go a doctor for what she perceived to be major surgery.  I had noticed through the years that the holes had enlarged to some extent from wearing heavy earrings and on several occasions, I've inserted two earring into one ear and none in the other.  But I still had full confidence that my ears themselves remained diminutive and relatively unspoiled.

So I snapped the shot and then looked in horror at what the years had wrought.

At least there's no hair growing out of them (yet).

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Cast Iron Skillet and some Thoughts about Family


I come from a long line of bad cooks.  My mama preferred fishing or shrimping or knitting or painting or playing that god-awful little organ of hers to cooking.  Me, I’d rather be reading or writing or watching House Hunters International than doing anything in the kitchen.  But Mama was a good mama, a post WWII mama, who believed the key to a happy family was dinner on the table, eating all together, and that’s why she gave me the cast iron skillet for a wedding present.

I liked that skillet for several reasons.  One, it was from my mother whom I loved dearly and respected more than just about anyone.  Two, it felt historical, knowing that people had used iron skillets for eons.  Three, it didn’t have to be cleaned all that well.  In fact, it wasn’t supposed to be cleaned at all.  For someone who enjoys cleaning even less than cooking, there it was gaving me personal permission not to clean it.

That’s because iron skillets need to be seasoned.  True to form, Mama gave me more detailed instruction on seasoning the skillet than she did on cooking with it.  Seasoning involved lathering it with lard or, in Mama’s modern case, Crisco from the can, and then putting it in the oven for a while.  When it came out, you were supposed to cool it down, wipe it out, put it in the cabinet, and never wash it again.  Just wipe it out.

I used that skillet most days for the twenty years of my married life.   However, when I divorced, and in spite of my still needing to feed my kids, I left that skillet along with the house Gary (aka The Big Kat) and I had built in our younger and more optimistic days.

Twenty-one years later, my oldest child, Melissa, moved back to Georgia with her husband, Trevor. In less than two months' time, Kat had had enough of three generations living together and decided to purchase a new home, one close by but far enough away.

Trevor is a cook, a good cook, one who likes the old ways.  And while all my kids inherited my lack of culinary skills, and my grandkids, Miles and Cami, inherited my left handedness, my last grandchild, Georgia, inherited her father’s interest in cooking.  So these days, my son-in-law and my granddaughter stand in the same kitchen where I stood so many years back, sautéing in the cast-iron skillet my mother gave me over forty years ago.

That’s family for you, inheriting some things you hope for and expect, and others you couldn't even begin to imagine.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I’ve Lots to Do if the Lard’ll Spare Me

A few weeks ago, Paddy Maloney, one of the founding members of the musical group, The Chieftains, was on the CBS news show, Sunday Morning. The interviewer, half in jest, asked the seventy-three year old what he wanted to do in his next twenty-five years. But Paddy’s answer, given in that melodic lilt only the Irish can pull off, was serious.

“I’ve got lots to do if the Lard’ll spare me.”

I don’t know when I started counting down the days until my indubitable demise. I think I was in my mid forties. Until then, I was too busy with babies and marriage and putting food on the table to think about what I wanted to do with my own life apart from family. When I was forty-five, I remember thinking I was just fifteen years away from thirty, which wasn’t so bad, was it? Then I realized I was also a mere fifteen years away from sixty, which horrified me

Now at sixty-two, I wonder how many good years I have left. Like Paddy, I’ve lots still to do and so little time left to do it. I didn't know there was such a thing as a mid-late-life crisis, but I'm there. Do I keep working until I stroke out at my desk trying to save for the rainy day I may not live long enough to see, or do I commit to that dogged yet somewhat debilitated leap of faith to see where life takes me next? The older I get, the more careful I become, less amenable to taking a risk as my heart is willing but I don't quite trust the less-malleable brain or the abused body.

And what if I really don't have anything else to offer once my paycheck days are over? What if I'm relegated to what I once was without any opportunity to see what I still can be?

I guess if Paddy can still dream at seventy-three, I too can garner the courage to scan my horizon for an interesting and worthwhile future.

That's if the Lard'll spare me.