Monday, August 29, 2011

Yummmmmmmm Remember

There are certain foods that when I taste them bring up an overwhelming sense of nostalgia.

No Bake Cookies… No Bake Cookies were a rainy day treat. Days when you were stuck inside and your mom thought the best way to keep the youngsters busy was by spending time in the kitchen. Up on the chair we would go. Mom at the stove cooking the gooey chocolate base while teaching us lessons in fractions and measuring. Licking the peanut butter off the spoon. Watching as she cooked the gooey mixture on the stove then dropped those chewy, chocolaty, oatmeal morsels onto the counter. All the while four sets of eyes locked were on, waiting for the delicious cookie to cool and harden. A cold glass of milk and a couple cookies could make any day special

Every time I make the cookies the memories flood back.

You all know it, the smells and tastes that can set the memory part of your brain spinning out of control. My mother-in-law use to make this recipe with round steak smothered in green peppers, tomatoes and brown gravy. Every time I make it the house overflows with this amazing smell. At least one of the members of the family remark on Gram’s steak recipe as the aroma permeates the air.

But it’s not just the smells and tastes. When Kirk’s mother passed away no one wanted her iron skillets. I grabbed them up and every time I cook in them (so far) the meal has turned out wonderful. My Sheppard’s Pie tastes better, the pepper and steak smells better, and the feeling I get when I use the pan is like a soft cloud that settles down over my shoulder. It’s a fog like effect that allows me glimpses back through the years. Glimpses of moments when I remember seeing the pan in the oven with sweet potatoes for a Thanksgiving dinner or with the bottom covered with bacon grease waiting the frying of eggs for breakfast. It’s the wonderful memories and many incredible meals that are part of the simple piece of iron.

Memories in smells and tastes. Not pictures to look at, but moments treasured throughout a lifetime.

Monday, August 22, 2011

We Remember

I recently caught up with a friend from High School on Facebook, I’ll call him John. We have been chatting a little, catching up on where our lives have taken us. But tucked back in the recess of my mind is an incident where he made a huge difference in my life. I wonder sometimes if he remembers or if the event is just a small cliff note buried under the large amount of the events of a lifetime.

SO.. the story went like this. I was a sophomore in High School dating a senior; we’ll call him Steve (I never dated a Steve so this should be safe). My parents weren’t thrilled about it as Steve had a car and a lot more freedom than I.

It was a Friday night and we were at one of the keggers that took place in various corn fields throughout our rural hometown. Steve and his buddies were drinking as I sipped orange juice, pretending that the container held vodka as well. (I wasn’t a prude but I hated the taste of alcohol and my Dad had a knack for smelling beer, so the OJ).

It was getting late and Steve was getting ready to leave, slapping buddies on the back, tripping over the wood by the fire and basically being a typical loud and obnoxious drunken jerk.

We were walking towards the cars when John steps up and says, “Steve, man, you are in no condition to drive. How bout I take you and Wendy home? I’ll bring you back for the car tomorrow.”

“I’m fine, no really I can drive.” Steve grabbed my arm and pulled me towards the car.

“Come on Wendy I’ll take you home.” John reached out for my other arm.

“She’s fine.” By now drunken Steve was getting a little pissed and I had become a rope in a game of tug of war. “Wendy get in the car.”

John stepped up and put himself between Steve and me.

“I don’t think so. If you’re so stupid that you’ll take your own life in your hands then by all fucking means go ahead. But Wendy’s going home with me.”

Steve yelled at John. John yelled at Steve. In the end I road home with John. I was only fifteen.

Steve made it all the way to his house before putting the car in the ditch as he made the turn up his parents long winding drive. He was banged up and had some stitches on his forehead, but I always wondered what would have happened had he driven me home on the winding back roads.

The point of the story is that as you look back over your life, you remember those moments when someone stepped up and put your life in their hands. You remember those times when one small step in a different direction could be the difference between something good or bad happening.

John probably doesn’t even remember because he is just that type of guy. I’m sure he’s stepped in over the years to help others out, it’s just his way.

So to him and others that have made a difference in my life over the years, I say, Thank you.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I Know Where You Are (and what you’re doing, and…)

I realize that my last few blogs have been about technology and that I may come off sounding like that crazy uncle that is a conspiracy theorist. But I grew up in a time when Big Brother is Watching was coming to be a concern.

I went on Facebook today and over at the right it had ads for places I could go to fill the needs of the searches I had done earlier on the internet. It knew I needed a haircut, was looking at real estate in the area and was thinking of traveling to Hawaii.

Then up at the right were notifications about where my kids were. Brooke and Nick had checked in at Holy Smokes and Dan and Amanda were at Barnes and Noble in Boca. Lauren hasn’t checked in anywhere so I have no idea of her whereabouts, but neither does whoever is out there watching our every move. Good for her!!!!

I was writing a book about a woman who gets fed up with technology and decides to leave everything behind and start fresh. It wasn’t as easy as I thought. In the old days one would just get in a car and drive away. But now we have detectors on the turnpike recording your every move. Cameras mounted on street corners and outside businesses along with pictures taken at every ATM, convenience store, and gas station.

The cars are loaded with electronic data systems that allow your auto to be traced and don’t get me started on how the authorities can monitor you through your cell phone.

So unless you have a slew of cash, a car purchased before 1997 and know that you can have no contact through any phone with anyone from your past, you need to rethink trying to start anew. You can never use a driver’s license or social security number for any identification and you have to stay off all main highways and toll roads.

So I thought I had the scenario all laid out. My heroine could do this. She’d disappear from her life and start a new chapter in the back woods of Montana.

Then I remembered something that happened to me thirty years ago. My husband and I had moved to Ft. Lauderdale Florida from Columbus Ohio. 1200 miles away from home and on the first day there I ran into an upstairs neighbor with whom I had gone through high school. So apart from all the technology, the world itself has become such a small place. I wonder if anyone can get lost anymore.