Imprint 2

After moving out of Mom’s house when I was fourteen and moving in with Dad, I missed my old home and Mom’s cooking.

Dad, a bachelor, was in the military. He’d just returned from an assignment in Germany. Besides his military day job, he had a second job running the small base’s all-ranks club, so I rarely saw him. That lasted three months. Then he retired and we moved to southern WV.

I’d mentioned missing Mom’s cooking to her on one of our phone conversations. Mom bought me Betty Crocker Cook Book as a present so I could make the stuff she had.

It was a humbling lesson. Mom usually used a recipe in her head. I had to plod their detailed instructions. Whereas her measuring skills were fast and effortlessly, I labored through cups, tsp, tbs, and their incremental differences.

But I weathered it, making myself stuffed green peppers, meat loaf, pot roast, spaghetti and meatballs, along with side dishes, and eventually baked cakes, cookies, pies, and other desserts. I never made fried chicken, odd in retrospect. I preferred roasting or grilling my chicken. In fact, my favorite meal became over-roasted thighs with buttered red potatoes and broccoli.

Don’t know why I never made the fried chicken. Maybe I was lazy, or maybe, subconsciously, I knew that some things couldn’t be duplicated.

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Imprinted

We heard a story…

Everyone had grown up and left the home, nurturing their lives, careers, and dreams. Somehow, though, they began having Sunday dinner together every week. Mom was so overjoyed that she made their favorite every week, which was southern fried chicken.

I immediately recalled watching Mom go through her fried-chicken process in our little ranch style home in the mid 1960s. Starting with a whole chicken, she would wash it and rub it down with cold water and then burn the remains of the feathers off over the gas burner. Truthfully, I never saw any feathers. I don’t know if Mom saw any, either, but this was her process.

Next, she washed the chicken again, and then dried it, and cut it into pieces. The pieces were dipped in egg, and then rolled in white flour with salt and pepper. She fried it in grease from her drippings collection in a big electric skillet. (Crisco later replaced the drippings.) The chicken was vigilantly watched and turned. When judged ready, they were removed and put on paper towels so excess grease could drip off.

I know her process well, and know how her fried chicken tasted as well. Nothing like grabbing a cold piece of fried chicken out of the refrigerator for a late-evening snack. Like many things she made for us to eat in those years, it ruined things for me later. I’ve always been looking for something that tastes as good as Mom’s. When you’ve had the best, it’s imprinted.

You Don’t Say

My wife made something really delicious for dinner this evening. Actually, we had it for lunch. We ate loads of it, along with bread, and then had big salads for dinner.

It’s the third time that she made it. I really can’t say more about it than that, except also that it smells fantastic. You can smell all the ____ and ____ ____. It’s incredible.

That’s really all I can say. She has this thing about me not bragging to other people about the food that she makes. She says that it builds up too much anticipation for it and then she worries that it won’t be good as people expect it to be because I bragged about it so much.

Like, for instance, take her __________ as an example. I loved it, and begged her to make it all the time. And she did. I had her make it for an office pot luck because I thought it was sooo goood. The people there agreed, so much so that they asked me to ask her to make it for several subsequent pot luck lunches. When we had guests, I always suggested that she make her__________. She often did, but then got angry because I’d ask the others, “Isn’t this great?”

That was just the one. There was also her ______, _______ ______, and her ____ _______ with ____. They’re all tasty AND healthy. ____, too. She doesn’t make those things any more, either, because I bragged about them too much. At least, it’s been a long time since she’s made them.

So, I don’t want to jinx this by telling everything how great this thing is that she made, because I really like it, and I want to have it again in the future. But if you ever visit my house, maybe she’ll make it for dinner for you. Then you can see how good it is. Maybe she’ll make her ______ for dessert, too.

I’m sure you’d love them both. Just don’t tell her that I told you about them.

The Gophers Dream

Walking this morning and thinking about writing and music, I suddenly recalled last night’s gopher dream. OMG, how could I forget it?

It was so weird but so nothing. What dream about gophers isn’t weird? They are for me, because I don’t have memories about dreams with gophers.

Basically, the dream found me cooking. The house I was in wasn’t any that I live in, but I knew it as my house. I don’t know what I was cooking except that I was tending a pot on a white porcelain stove. To my left was a lawn area, but the lawn area was in my house. That took me a bit to put together as I was cooking, because the lawn’s surrounding walls were interior house walls.

As I cooked, stirring the pot and peering in at the contents, I realized something was moving in the lawn. A few newspaper sections were on the ground. Something had moved under one of them.

While I’m cooking and pondering this, a female friend entered and started chatting with me. Then she said, “Oh my God, I think I just saw an animal in your grass.”

“Yes,” I said, “I thought I saw something before.”

I stopped cooking to check it out. As I did, I found, yep, a hole under the newspaper section. I didn’t know what made it but while I was checking it out, a big gopher popped out of another hole and looked at me. Then it ducked back.

I had gophers in my lawn in my house, but I was till cooking, and returned to the stove. As I cooked, another large gopher popped up from a different hole. I realized I had more holes than I thought. There were more and  new holes. Holy crap.

About that time, my wife entered. As the female friend explained what was happening, my wife went onto the lawn to look at the holes. Comically, she’d go by a hole, and the gopher would pop up behind her, but she would never see them. More newspaper sections were on the lawn, too.

My wife finally went to the corner. Pulling back sections of newspaper, she peered into an exposed hole with our female friend beside her. “M,” my wife said, “you should come and see this.”

“I know,” I answered. “We have holes. Gophers are causing it.” As I said that, several gophers popped out of holes. They were all looking at me. My wife, with her back turned to them as she studied the hole, never saw them.

End dream.

###

There is a post script.

Working on this section of novel, I’ve been dismayed. There are holes in the part I’m editing. Thinking about it, I realized there were holes in the proceeding chapters to these chapters. That’s where I think I need to put some energy and effort to improve it.

After I thought about that, remembered the gopher dream, and typed it up here, I realized the gopher dream was about the holes. I was cookin’, yer know? Writin’ and editin’, everything was copasetic. Doin’ good and feein’ fine. Then, suddenly….mmm…this isn’t working. Drat.

I decided that’s what the gopher dream was about. I’d missed holes. They’re paper over but if I look, their cause can be seen.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Got my coffee. Time to start editing and writing like crazy, at least one more time in 2018.

Time Suck

What does space travel, laundry, and cats have in common?

Why, they’re all time sucks, of course.

My wife shared information from an article about time savings and modern American life. Most households, particularly women, have seen a dramatic decrease in how long it takes to prepare meals. It used to require about two hours per meal. Of course, breakfast was rarer in those days.

On the other hand, laundry is an area where people don’t save time. The reasons derive from our attitudes toward hygiene, washing clothes, the increasing specialization in clothing, and fashion. We have and wear more clothes, and change them for more uses, whereas we used to accept being a little dirtier. The increased quantity and specialization equals more time doing laundry.

My time sucks today were more prosaic and had less to do with modern living. One involved a clogged toilet in one bathroom, a clogged sink in another bathroom, and a vomiting cat.

I’d just finished bathing and dealing with the clogged sink when Quinn puked. I was whining to myself about the sink and my hairiness. I’m sure that’s what caused it. The master bath has two sinks, and it was my sink that was clogged. He bugged me for food. He’s a small critter with a high anxiety level that causes him to leap up and race out of a room, so I’m always trying to fatten him up and encourage him to eat more. I fed him, per his request.

Then it was time for some morning business. All was successful, until the flush. Water rose and nothing went down. As I swore about that, I heard puking in the other room. I raced out in time to witness Quinn heaved a hair ball and his meal.

His deed was done on the hardwood floor. That means clean it up ASAP. I grabbed toilet paper and did the task. It was still warm, of course. Some dribbled onto my hand. I gagged reflexively, not a lot, and not as much as I would have in the past. Still, I wonder what it is about warm puke that causes me to gag.

Then it was back to the toilet. I’m not usually religious but facing a clogged toilet usually coaxes a prayer out of me. “Come on, flush,” I said, flushing. Then I corrected myself, “Come on, go down.” My prayers were answered, restoring my uncertainty about God’s existence.

Back in the office, I encountered another time suck. The story in my novel in progress requires Handley to take a shuttle. She enters the airlock but then what does she do? What’s the Avalon‘s layout? To address that, I needed to make a cup of coffee. Coffee helps me think.

Then I sketched the shuttle’s layout with pencil and paper. I should have been satisfied, but my secret geek required me to go to the computer and Illustrator and do it properly. That led to demanding details about the shuttle’s space capabilities, intended purposes, crew requirements, cargo capability, blah, blah, blah….

Done at last, ninety minutes later. By now, I was staring at the rear end of ten thirty. Gadzooks, time had been sucked up.

Of course, I need to point out that space travel wasn’t really the time suck; it was the creative process of writing about it. Does that count as a time suck? Maybe not. I suppose that I didn’t need to go into such detail to create the shuttle, but that’s my nature.

I reckon that’s a confession. It’s really my nature that’s the time suck.

 

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