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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

One Moment

Oscar Wilde

Having thought about this little quote a good bit, I’ve wondered where I’d draw a line. How long is a moment?  At close to 77 years old ( Dec.31), my moments may be longer than, say, a  young person of forty-five or fifty. I am thinking, instead, that the only usable criterion is a person comes into one’s life, touches it in some good way, then moves on, for a variety of reasons. In that case, the length of time is totally unimportant.

Thus, what is left is the part about “our souls touched.” Wow, that gets right down to it, doesn’t it? We can think, ONE ENCHANTED EVENING and IT ONLY TAKES A MOMENT, among other songs, and, given time, I could name a dozen, But, if your souls touched and you married the person, it doesn’t count. The same goes for a long romance, I believe. The souls have to touch --- then move on—you know, get the Hell Outta Dodge.

Also, souls can, and do, touch with no romantic notions involved. Back when I was young, my crowd used to debate whether or not a male and female could have a relationship that was not based on sex, platonic if you will. Apparently ol’ Plato thought so back in 4th century B.C. Of course, I’m speaking of adults in this context, not a bunch of horny 18 year olds.

I used to know a guy that picked up, instantly, on an odd or funny remark, perhaps something “soul touching.” Our eyes met, automatically acknowledging the other’s response, often with just a hint of a twinkle, then moving on. He was about ten years old and I was twenty-two. That was during my first teaching job, at Fowler Street School, in Atlanta. I only had him two or three months before his family moved to another area. I’ve never forgotten him and his quick, bright eyes. I cried when he left. I loved that little boy.

At  my age, I’ve been to tons of medical doctors for a variety of ailments, including  having babies. I’ll say at the outset, I just don’t usually like docs at all. I purely despise some and barely tolerate others. I remember Mother’s stopping her car in front of the pediatrician’s office, here in Atlanta on Ponce de Leon Ave. when I was two or three years old. As soon as I saw where we were, I opened the car door, hopped out, and started running down the street as hard as my little legs would take me. Think I got about half a block away before my brothers caught me. I’d heard someone use the word ”shots” which is what had triggered my attempted escape. I’m no longer terrified of shots, but I still have to fight the desire to flee at top speed. With that said, I’ve actually had three MD’s that I felt very close to. We’d have been friends in most any situation, I believe, because we had an unspoken meeting of the minds. Ah, maybe “unspoken” comes into the equation, as well.

Over time, I’ve met several people who fit the above description, old, young, men, and women. Some were people I taught and some who taught me. Some were truly just there to have one moment with me, one isolated time. Others were also just for a moment but the moments were repeated at irregular intervals over some period of time.  I can’t truthfully say that I actually loved these people, but I do have to wonder if, in another life,  I might have loved them.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Thoughts of Fall

I love fall so even the slightest hint of a cool morning or evening starts me thinking of a Sunday ride up to the mountains, maybe to Dillard, Georgia. [See more about Dillard here ]

I enjoy going to Dillard House for a meal because they serve sort of southern-mountain-country cooking. It is served family style, with dishes and platters of food placed on the table just after the group is seated at the round tables. There is a big variety of dishes and everyone can find food they enjoy. You are encouraged to take home whatever is left over so we usually get Sunday night supper as well. I usually quietly move the creamed corn out of the main stream of dishes being passed around ‘cause I love that stuff.

When we took Alesia there for the first time, I was amused that she fell in love with the fried okra. Think she ate most of a bowl full that day. Dee and the kids like chicken so that leaves other meats for me. They frequently serve Country Ham, also not one of my favorites but pork and beef are always served as well. A dish that I’ve only eaten at Dillard House and other places in the small town, is creamed cabbage. It is quite good, well seasoned. I bought their little cook book so should look up some of their recipes.

Seating in the huge dining room is first come-first served. But we’ve never had to wait long. They have clean restrooms, which is nice since we’ve had a bit of a car trip. Also, one can browse in the gift shop. Outside is a wonderful porch with comfortable chairs and a perfect view of the surrounding mountains. We’ve never spent the night in their cabins, but I have stayed several times at the Old Clayton Hotel which is 5 or 6 miles away.

I suppose that part of the joy of this area is that one is among the mountains without all the winding roads etc. Someone said that that valley is fairly well protected , even in severe weather. We’ve been to Butler family reunions in the area as well as Thompson-Henderson get togethers, in Clayton. Fresh, locally grown produce is often available plus fall fruit.

When my children were growing up, fall was fresh applesauce time. Making it is easy. Just poach peeled and cored apple quarters in a small amount of water. Add a few squeezes of fresh lemon or lime juice and cook til the apples are soft. While hot, add cinnamon, cloves, and sugar to taste. Just use whatever spices you like. I’ve used brown or white sugar. You may want to cook it a little longer if the mixture is very soupy. If you’ve added sugar tho’, don’t turn your back. It will burn or scorch quickly. I do believe my dad or son could have eaten a quart of this at one sitting. When he visited, my dad would often say,” I’ll peel the apples if you will make applesauce.” Of course, I always did

The applesauce can also be used to fill fried pies, made with biscuit dough or pastry. Roll out the pastry, cut into rounds , about 6” across, using a cereal bowl or saucer as a guide. Place a small amount of applesauce in the middle, fold half of the dough over to form the half-moon pie. Crimp the edges with a fork. Fry in hot fat until golden, turn and fry the other side. You can sprinkle a little sugar on top while the pie is still very hot. Be careful not to over fill. Most any vegetable fat can be used, or Crisco. Other fruits can be used. Stewed, dried fruit, or peaches are good. I’m thinking of trying canned pie filling like cherries.

Mother used to make a dessert of layers of graham crackers and homemade applesauce, allowing it to stand several hours or overnight. Serve with sweetened whipped cream for a wonderful family dessert.

Today’s young folks don’t remember, if they ever knew, that having fresh fruits and vegetables available every month of the year is a sort of miracle to older people. We simply did not have everything available all the time. We were thrilled to find fresh strawberries in the spring. Once, not so many years ago, one of my neighbors knocked on my door and called inside to tell me the asparagus had come in at the Kroger store. By the time I got there, it was nearly gone. We ate well that spring night. Apples were fall goodies, peaches in the summer, and oh, my, the locally grown corn on the cob, bought from a field near our lake home, in Tennessee.

I remember when seafood was difficult to find, if you weren’t at the beach. Years ago, a locally owned grocery store in Augusta sent a driver over to the coast each week, so that every Thursday we could buy fresh seafood. Of course, it was iced down but was not frozen, delicious!

One of my mother’s brothers lived in Largo, Florida. He and his family always arrived for Christmas with their car loaded down with wonderful oranges and other citrus fruit. Sometimes, he brought fruit that had not been colored or dyed. My aunt’s family owned the groves and packing house. When I was a child, canned fruits and veggies were available but frozen was not yet heard of, until after the War, anyway. Back then, of course, people did lots of home canning, mostly in Mason and Ball brand jars.

So, even now, when I think of fall and the smell of wood fires, I start thinking we need to plan a trip to the high country for cool fresh air and fall goodies.

Below - Alesia andf Michael on the porch of Dillard House in spring 2009