Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"My mother grew up in the Depression"

Back at my own computer, I have the ability to post pictures, so here's a completely adorable one of Carol and Susie just a-cookin' up a storm in the kitchen at Susie's house, y'all. Wait. Sorry. I don't know what gets into me, but a few days in Bowling Green and I'm typing with a southern accent.

This is the best place to find us during CousinFest, right there in the kitchen. There were a few summers when we went away -- Asheville, Knoxville and Amish country in northern Indiana the year that Susie and Doug got married in Maui, so she elected not to go with us that year as if she likes Doug better than us or something -- and we didn't have kitchens to cook in and all we had to do was sit around talking and then get up and go to restaurants when we were hungry, but that wasn't nearly as fun.

We are all cooks, really good cooks, if I do say so myself and cooking and eating and hanging around the kitchen drinking iced tea and talking about things like Hellmann's versus Kraft and how we all seem to have the same smile and Carol -- on the left -- and I have the same hair, but Susie, to your right, and I have the same eyes, but Carol has her mother's eyes, which are the same kind of eyes our shared grandmother had...those are the things we talk about. We talk about eggs and whether we can eat them devilled or sunny-side-up. And dogs, we talk about our dogs. Well, I mean, not about eating dogs, just in case you thought we enjoyed some kind of exotic Asian cuisine. Which we most certainly do not.

But one of the things we talked about most in the kitchen was the deplorable tendency that Carol and I have, according to Susie, to throw away, say, two small spinach leaves and a sliced cucmber left in a serving dish after dinner. I handed the bowl to Carol so that she could rinse it out and put in in the dishwasher, but when Carol turned on the faucet, Susan screamed, "WAIT!!!!! THERE'S STILL SOME SALAD IN THAT BOWL!!!!"

"No, there isn't," I said. Carol held up the bowl so that Susan could see the two very, very small spinach leaves and the lonesome cucumber slice clinging to the sides.

"Well, listen, y'all, my mother grew up in the Depression and there's practically a whole salad left in there. Scrape that out, Shelley, and put it in a Ziploc."

Carol and I looked at each other helplessly. "Susan, there's not even enough salad left in that bowl to feed a garden gnome," I protested.

"Isn't it going to just be a waste of a plastic bag to save it?" Carol asked reasonably.

"No, seriously, I'll eat it for a snack later," Susie said. She came into the kitchen and grabbed the bowl from Carol, hugging it protectively to her chest. "Remember, girls: 'Waste not, want not.'"

Carol and I are considerably bigger than Susie, who is just a little bitty thing. I know we could have overpowered her, taken back that bowl and washed the rest of that "whole salad" down the garbage disposal, but it was only Thursday evening and we hadn't heard a whole lot about wasting and saving and not wanting and the Depression at that point. By Saturday, it was a different story.

Over the next few days, we heard stories about growing up in the Depression when it came to scraping chip dip out of a Rubbermaid container, sunscreen out of a plastic tube and the dregs of the wine out of the bottle. When I smartly asked Susie if she had a really, really skinny little spatula with a very long handle so that I could scrape the sides of the wine bottle, she gave me a Look. When Carol suggested that Susie was born in 1961 and was almost two generations removed from The Grapes of Wrath, Susan tried to give her a paper cut with a dollar off coupon for Kashi Summer Berry granola.

With the refrigerator stuffed with different sizes of plastic bags of different provenance, none of them labeled and all of them determined to slide out on the floor when an unwary person opened the door, mealtimes became an adventure. We tried to find different ways to use up the leftovers without them screaming "LEFTOVER!!" at each meal, and those that refused to be integrated into a new meal in a new way, Carol and I silently introduced to Our Favorite Appliance, the garbage disposal.

"Look, Susie!" Carol would say excitedly, pointing out the dining room window to the ninth green on the golf course behind the house. "There's Kenny Perry!"

"WHERE!!!" Susie would yelp, bouncing up out of her seat and running to peer out the glass. "Oh my gosh, y'all, he is just the sweetest thing ever!"

While she was thus occupied, I'd take a moment to empty two peas, a piece of pie crust with a smidgen of pie still clinging to it and a quarter-cup of clam juice into the sink.

Later, I'd say, looking out the front door, "Oh, no, Susie! The neighbor's dog is pooping on your lawn!"

"WHAT??!!" she'd shriek, momentarily forgetting that her neighbors don't even have a dog. "Shoo! Get away! Stop it! Don't mess up my yard!" She'd zoom out the front door, giving Carol the chance to dispose of a half-eaten peach gone mushy and one spoonful of chicken salad on a plate covered with plastic wrap.

Carol and I deeply enjoy teasing Susie, but in spite of our wicked ways, we both admit that there's no better hostess. She may be a nut with the plastic bags and her stories of the Depression, but if you want more bath towels, an extra pillow, a foot massage, a bottle of water or a pep talk, there couldn't be a better person to ask for those things. And if you read those previous sentences and thought that I was sugaring up the rhubarb, you may be right because for all I know, Susie will get some time to read my blog and the next thing I know, she'll be on the phone calling me that name that starts with a B and is one syllable in Yankee and about four when drawled out in a Southern accent.

We can do that because we love each other.

1 comment:

Kayte said...

You tossed a perfectly good quarter of a cup of clam juice down the garbage disposal???? What were you thinking????? I could have used that for something or other. Susie and I are soul mates.