the sippy spoons

“I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in
and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep,
leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can.
Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better
hour because it is dead.
Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones,
while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.”

Beryl Markham


(my grandmother’s silver sippy spoons / Julie Cook /2017)

Our trip to West Palm Beach was long, short, sad and wrenching.
653 miles spent driving down on a Friday…
only to then turn around and drive it all back again on a Monday.

It took about 10 hours, with only one quick stop for gas.
Coupled by a constant flow of bumper to bumper traffic hurling itself,
as if lemmings on some odd unknown mission, to an unforeseen southward destination.

We drove and we drove to what seemed to be the ends of the earth…
but that would have been Key West and that would have required more time with
more stops than our backsides would allow.

The color of the sky changes when one is traveling so far south—
It goes from the more familiar north Georgia’s typical hazy blue sky,
to a faint veiled gauzy cloudy azure blue…
Maybe it’s because the land lays so flat, punctuated only by pencil thin palms
as the soil is more white sand than dirt…
and with the sun so intense, light easily reflects back upon itself.

The heat of day does not dissipate with the waning of a day as it does at home.
It doesn’t back off when the sun finally sets, providing that long awaited
respite of comfort.
There is actually a tremendous heaviness that engulfs one’s whole being…
this being due to the overtly high humidity which makes breathing nearly
impossible.
And I thought our humidity was bad.

Moving from air conditioned buildings, which is essential to survival,
out to the oppressive heat and unrelenting sun leaves glasses fogged over
and skin and clothing feeling sticky and oddly wet even before one has had
proper chance to sufficiently break a true sweat.

This is the place Martha called home for the past 30 years.
A far cry from the years spent in Alexandria, Virginia during the early years of
her marriage.

I now understood why…for despite the apparently tropical beauty,
Martha would always protest…
“no no, let me just come up there”…
And because of that one fact, of her always wanting to come to us as she
would always prefer to venture north,
this was our first visit to West Palm Beach.

Martha would drive or fly up several times during the
year, staying for a couple of weeks at a time,
back to state she still considered home…
or more specifically near the city of her birth and raising….
Atlanta.

I can’t really say all that I should or would like to at this point
about all of this…not yet.
Having lost three of the most important people in my life in the past six months
has simply taken its toll…
As processing the emotions, memories and feelings of such emptiness
will take some time.

One by one… the supports and shorings are now gone…
Those that helped to hold up the life I had always known…
This is part of the transition where I become the shoring to others…
a transition that denotes change, loss, growth and new…
all rolled uncomfortably into one.

My cousin, Martha’s adopted daughter,
had asked that I come to the house the day following the funeral
to see what if anything I would like to carry back home with me.

Martha was an avid antique collector…
and her collections were eclectic at best…
old antique Papier-mâché halloween decorations with a proclivity for pumpkins.
North Carolina’s famous family of folk art pottery, the Meader’s ugly jugs,
along with the primitive pottery of Georgia’s Marie Rogers.
The Ohio Longaberger baskets numbering in the hundreds…
to early vintage RCA radio dogs..
all the way down to antique turkeys of every size and shape.

I was really overwhelmed when we walked into the house and actually saw
the level to which some of the “collecting” had spiraled.
Her house not equipped for the excessive spillover.

My cousin immediately asked if I would like Martha’s sterling silver
flatware set.

Once was a time, long long ago, when every young bride
looked to building her proper entertaining set of silverware.
Receiving the coveted wedding gifts of silver pieces was as common
as the throwing of rice…
That being a particular pattern of sterling silver complete with
utensils and serving pieces.
Everything from teaspoons to seafood forks to butter knives….
As that now all seems to be for a time that was more civilized than
our own today.

But already having my mother’s and great aunt’s sets…and truth be told,
as my world shrinks, entertaining and cooking is now not nearly what it once was,
I tried to instill the importance of her keeping the monogramed set for both her
and her own daughter.

But when she opened the dusty old silver chest, my eyes locked immediately on the
well tarnished bundle of silver drink spoons / straws…
or what we had always referred to as sippy straws or spoons, depending on who
was using them.

While growing up, whenever we visited my grandmother,
we were always served a tall glass of icy cold
Coca Cola complete with a silver sippy straw.

Coke never tasted so good as when sipped through an elegant silver straw.
It provided a seemingly civilized air of savoring verses gulping and quaffing.
Probably Mimi’s way of getting us to slow down, enjoying and not wasting…
as she was a woman who lived during a time when waste was indeed considered sinful.

The straws were always kept in a certain drawer in my grandmother’s kitchen…
inside the 1920s small Atlanta Buckhead home.
A pale wooden light green kitchen cabinet, I can still see clearly in my mind’s eye,
was where the straws, always shiny and polished to perfection, were stored.

In 1989, when my grandmother passed away, Martha and I were the only two left to
the task of sorting and emptying the house for market.
She got the straws.
I had always wanted just one…
just one to remember.

Over the years I’d see other straws at various antique markets and silver stores,
always thinking I’d buy myself just one,
but in the end deciding it just wouldn’t be the same…

It wouldn’t be one of the straws I’d gleefully
retrieve out of the pale green drawer, delightfully anticipating plunging
it into my frosty glass of brown fizzy liquid…
as I’d gently clench the straw between my front teeth,
feeling the cold drawn liquid being pulled up into a parched waiting mouth…
So refreshing because Mimi’s house, back in those days, was not air conditioned…
an icy cold Coke, on a hot Georgia summer’s afternoon,
seemed like the greatest treat a child could have been given…

I asked my cousin if I could have the straws.

She was 10 years younger than I was and did not have the same fond memories
from time spent with our grandmother.
Being so much younger and living so far away, never afforded her much time to
bond with the long widowed woman with the poodles there in Atlanta as I had.

I had been the only grandchild for many years and we only lived 10 minutes away.
Plus Mimi was not a warm and fuzzy grandmother like others and what warmness
there was, faded with her mind as the dementia grew more and more.

My grandmother had lived a hard life.
A life that she had forged alone for herself and her two daughters during
a depression and a World War as a widowed woman…
long before it was common for women to own a business and work outside of
the home.
Both of which she did very successfully for most of her adult life.

My cousin was more than happy to give me the straws and seemed almost
sad that I really didn’t want to take much more as her task is now daunting
as she figures out what to do with years of accumulated treasured stuff.

This as I still have my own years of stuff to sort through at Dad’s.
As both cousins are now left to the task of picking through,
as well as picking up, the pieces—
all of what stays and all of what goes.

My cousin tells me that she wants to sell the house, eventually moving northward
where there are actually seasons, hills and trees…
verses living where the sky meets the ocean coupled by the
oppressive heat, humidity, and an azure blue sky….

I think I’ll polish my straws and then do something I haven’t done in years…
I’ll pour myself a Coke, a real Coke…bottle only mind you,
over a tall glass of ice…and I’ll plunge a straw deep down into the glass of
cold fizzy liquid as I draw up the memories of lives once known but always loved.

Thankfully thankful

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.
Meister Eckhart

“Anything I cannot thank God for for the sake of Christ, I may not thank God for at all; to do so would be sin. … We cannot rightly acknowledge the gifts of God unless we acknowledge the Mediator for whose sake alone they are given to us.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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(a brown English transfer ware Spode platter / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(a turkey ready for brining / Julie Cook / 2014)

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!
“Is that . . .”
A turkey in a cat litter box lined igloo cooler?
Why yes, yes it is.

And why do I have a turkey sitting in a cat litter box lined igloo cooler you ask?
Well, since I thought we could all use a good dose of humor today, I’m providing a link for the post I offered up this time last year. You know, the one about my attempts at brining a turkey. . . You remember the one. . . When I put the big bird in a brining bag, filled with the 5 gallons of solution only to have the bag split open in mid step as I began to transfer the very heavy and giant oh so wobbly bag of bird and brine to the refrigerator, only to have the entire contents of the bag, all 5 gallons worth of liquid, slosh out of said split bag, cascading onto my new kitchen rugs and all over the hardwood flooring?

You didn’t forget that little escaped did you?

Well incase you did, perhaps reliving that little holiday mishap is in order. I think by now, with all the food, all the family, all the weather, all the news we don’t want to think about, a little humor just might do us all some good!

It was the true stuff of nightmares and of legends all rolled into one. Plus it was a very cold rainy day—it’s all coming back to me. . .

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/the-brine-the-rugs-getting-lost-and-a-grateful-heart/

And whereas Dad won’t be making the trip over this year for Thanksgiving, as they don’t feel as if they can make the drive which means they won’t get lost again, we, on the other hand, will be going over to our son and daughter-n-law’s house to share, along with all of her family, their first Thanksgiving as a married couple. I’m certain there’ll be a story to share after this event of new togetherness!!

Despite not hosting this little annual shindig, I am cooking, not only brining but preparing to take this little fowl show on the road. Two cooked birds driving in the back of my car. . .hummmmm. Should prove to be very interesting later today. . .

When it came to this year’s brining, I was ready—the strongest bag I could find in the house was a cat box litter liner. Forget those whimpy brining bags, I needed hard core.
And as for some sort of reinforcement for the liquid and bird filled bag verses sitting a bag and a bird on some flimsy little tray, a cooler was the biggest thing I could find to put the turkey in.
Is brining necessary?
Heavens no.
I’ve cooked many a turkey without it, but when one is offering up Thanksgiving Turkeys (yes this year there are two) to one’s new in-laws. . .brining sounds impressive and will hopefully prove beneficial.

Yet before I let this day pass, basking in what I hope will be a thankfully successful meal with family, new family and fiends, I wanted to take a moment to thank you.
Yes, you.
All of my friends in this blogoshpere of ours who stop in for visits on this little blogsite world of mine.
I want to thank you for becoming a part of my circle of friends.
For your insights, for your prayers, your wisdom, your interests, your comments, your kindness and for sharing your life with me as you allow me to share mine with you.
I am blessed and my life has been made the richer for each of you!
So on this day of thanks, may I say to you, Thank You!
Now fingers crossed the new in-laws like the turkeys (yes, plural as in there are two big birds)
Happy Cooking!!

In April, even the birds are happy

While the cock with lively din, Scatters the rear of darkness thin; And to the stack, or the barn door, Stoutly struts his dames before; Oft list’ning how the hounds and horn, Cheerly rouse the slumb’ring morn”
John Milton

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(two different images of turkeys, strutting toms / Troup County, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2014
and contrary to popular belief, yes, this is the time for turkey activity, not November during Thanksgiving as on would believe)
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A fragrant sweetness wafts lightly in the air from newly formed blossoms beaming bright in April’s first light.
Overhead, the endless blue ski beckons the aimless wanderer to come linger in its vastness,
All as the delirious breeze gently invites all to come lay down and drink in the heady scents and sounds of Spring.

Creation rejoices as both animal and insect ready themselves for the annual rituals of courtship. Neon colors, puffy shimmery feathers, shrill accented chirps, all various signs and displays of Nature’s love notes.
After the dormant silence of winter’s long slumber, the cycle of life begs to begin again.

Vibrancy and life mingle sweetly together offering tender notes of renewal and hope,
while a garish and overt Spring preens and prances before cold weary eyes.
Come dance and play is the rally cry of this season
Rise up you sleepy souls, whispers the wind, time is of the essence, Nature’s beguiling charms summons all to waste not.
Come quickly my friends, for it is now time to dance.