Sunday, September 30, 2012

Miami Memories: Goulash and Old Wives Tales

On a Monday night, September 27, 1971 I was very pregnant and anxious to deliver a new baby into our world.  The dear "old" lady with white hair who lived next door suggested that I begin serving the greasiest food possible every meal,  in order to deliver this child, sooner rather than later.  I was desperate and heeded her advice.  That evening I fixed greasy hamburger goulash, with fatty hamburger, butter, canned tomatoes, onions, a touch of garlic, salt, seasoning, and elbow macaroni.  By midnight when I awoke with mild cramping, my husband awoke with his own problems, gas!  At last my pains out weighed his, and we made our way to St. John's Hospital, Joplin, Missouri by 4 am.  Within a few hours a ruddy red faced little girl with a head full of dark hair slipped into the world at 7:11 am, before her grandparents could even arrive.  Sometimes, the old wives know what they are talking about, and sometimes they don't, but isn't it funny when they do.
Gramps and little Katy (1972)

Now 41 years later on a Thursday night, September 27 I had planned to serve lasagna for Jack and I, but upon setting out the needed foods, I discovered that I had two lasagna noodles.  Now even I know that lasagna for two takes more than two flat noodles.  Once again in weary desperation, I looked for a way to use my hamburger (sirloin beef) and organic canned tomatoes (no salt please).  In my pasta drawer I found the ever faithful elbow macaroni, and began to stir up a more healthy meal for two.  Sipping on a glass of Chianti while eating a salad and goulash, my mind suddenly flash-backed to that night forty one years before when the goulash helped deliver a healthy beautiful baby girl name Kathryn Alexis Rains.  I smiled and my heart flooded proudly with memories and dreams.

Happy Birthday Katy
Just like it did in 1971, the goulash somehow delivered my daughter safely to my doorsteps on her birthday, though not at 7:11 in the morning.  It took her a few hours to drive to Hutchinson from Okc, but by 1:00 on September 28, 2012  we were celebrating her birthday over lunch. We toasted the evening off with my once famous Chocolate Mountain Slide cake, that was so moist we licked it off our fingers and lips.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Present

Between 4 am and 6 am this morning I worried and fretted about our future.  Perhaps the longest chapter of lives is coming to a close when Jack retires this year, and what does that mean for us, for our future, for our family, for our friends?  With "touch magic"  I'd like to peak through a little key hold, just to see what we'll be doing, where we will be living, and then I think, "No, just live now, live in the present."

The word "present" jogged a memory, and somewhere in my head I heard an exasperated kindergarten teacher say to one of her more energetic curious students, "Ramona, please sit here for the present."  Ramona followed the teacher's directions and began to dream of all the possible presents she would receive that day for sitting there.  When it was time for recess the teacher asked, "Ramona, please stand up and get in line," but the resolute kindergarten child replied, "No, I want to sit here for the present."  When the school day ended the teacher counted, "One, Two, Three.  Everyone in their seat."  Ramona smiled because she was already there.  As directions were given for lining up Ramona wiggled with glee.  When at last the day was over and she was in line, tears began to drip down her face. When the teacher walked by she smiled,  "Ramona, you have been really good today, but why do I see tears in your eyes?"

Ramona, looked at the teacher, "I've been waiting all day for my present."

The confused teacher asked, "What present?"

"You said, if  I sat here you would give me a present."

Like Ramona, I sometimes live my days dreaming (worrying) of tomorrow and not living today.  So for today, I will live in the present and smile.

 Beverly Cleary wrote Ramona's story so much clearer than my retelling, so much better, in fact, that Ramona's story has stayed with me over thirty years.