Grandma’s Noodles

My family alternated holidays between the grandparents when I was a kid. We had a Fat Grandma and a Skinny Grandma. Not that we called them that, but it was a noteworthy comparison.

I won’t say that we preferred one over the other, but Skinny Grandma served boiled okra as a Thanksgiving side dish.

Fat Grandma always had homemade noodles.

We entered her home through the kitchen; immediately greeted by the wonderful smells, and a kiss on the lips no matter how you tried to dodge it. While the men sat in the living room talking about the Army/Navy game, the women and children were put to small tasks to speed the meal. Not that Grandma needed much help. The turkey and stuffing (plus dressing on the side for those who preferred it that way) were baking, the pies and cranberry sauce already made, and the air humid from boiling pots of potatoes and broth. Grandma’s apron was already covered in flour as she began to roll out the noodles.

I loved watching this process. She rolled the dough almost paper thin and then rolled it up jelly-roll style to slice into long strips of noodles. I got to help unfurl each roll and hang it to air dry just slightly before she cooked them in the boiling broth.

Somehow, without aid of microwave, everything was served hot, crowded on the serving table, ready for Grandpa to say the blessing as we all gathered. We didn’t all agree that the noodles were our favorite thing, but with their melt-in-your-mouth perfection they were part of everyone’s Thanksgiving plate.

“Everyone” could be a sizable crowd. Various of Grandpa’s eight siblings, their children or grandchildren made appearances over the years, along with our family, aunts, uncles and cousins. Neighbors, friends, and strangers like a young missionary pair working in their town, joined our meal at times. We brought along last-minute friends one year, but feeding four unexpected teenaged mouths was no problem for Grandma. (I think they each got a kiss, too.) At her house, space would be made for all who came. There would always be enough food to share.

In many ways, it was always Thanksgiving at Grandma’s house.


Bumblebee Breakfast

It’s a slow start summer Saturday
Our dog is sprawled on the porch, still guarding the door, daylight her chance to rest after active duty all night. I joined her with my book and bowl of cereal, the cat coming in as I stepped out.

Bright sun spotlights the porch this morning, so I trade sunglasses for my readers and put the book down. The dog woke to watch me eat. The cat stares plaintively out the door, regretting his quick choice to go in. Quite an audience for a simple breakfast.

Edging the porch the Black-eyed Susans and Hostas are abloom. Bumblebees methodically work from one purple trumpet to another on the hosta. A white butterfly hovers. My husband saw a hummingbird here yesterday, but it is just the bees at work this morning. The Morning Glories I planted recently are beginning to climb the trellis. Funny I get such joy from these little things. Slowing is a luxury for me.

The wind chime above my head rings lazily, a backdrop for the constant bird sounds. I hear the mourning doves and quail (Bob White!), and a high pitched, but gentle warble I can’t identify. My father-in-law used to know most birds by their call – wish I’d learned more. We’ve had the fun sounds of cat-birds and mocking birds from time to time, and often woodpeckers to add percussion to the chorus. I spotted an Indigo Bunting twice this week, a rarer treat. I wonder what they sound like?

The cat races outside as I take my empty bowl in. I am heading to town to get some work done at our business. Saturdays are good for that without the interruptions I face when we are open. Before I leave, my husband and I walk the yard, admiring new growth, new blooms. We confer on what to pull and what to leave as he shows me some of the gardening he plans to do today. He’s found more pleasure in the yard in recent years. The visible signs of accomplishment as he mows and weeds make a welcome break from financial decisions and bill paying.  He waves, as always, as I drive away.

So much to treasure in this quiet start to the day.

It’s not just summer. It’s a slowing season of life for us.