Saturday, April 18, 2015

Saturday Musings, 18 April 2015

Good morning,

Bread rises in a pan and a sheen of oven cleaner steams on the inside of the stove.  In an hour or so, I'll slide the bread onto an oven rack and hope for the best.  My first batch of gluten-free bread will be history by ten.  As guests arrive for coffee at nine, I'm hoping this experiment sings.  I think about other culinary efforts which failed:  the lemon pie in which I forgot the sugar; the buckets of cherries and a recipe which called for cherry pie filling from a can; the first steak on a grill pan which this non-meat eater completely ruined.  I don't have a back-up plan so all I can do is pray.

This recipe called for three minutes of beating on medium speed in a stand-mixer, which I don't have.  I've had two:  My great-grandmother's ancient model which got lost in a flood, and the one that Dennis and I bought at Target to use on shortbread.  It's in Ohio, presumably, making shortbread for him.  I got the metal mixing bowls and the cast-iron skillets in trade.  I'm okay with that.  I used the hand-mixer that I stole from my sister Adrienne by dint of never returning it.  The dough seems none the less worse for the substitution.

I didn't use my mother's yellow bread mixing bowl.  I thought about it, but truthfully, if it broke, I would not lightly forgive myself.  I see her so clearly standing over that bowl at the kitchen counter with her hands covered in flour.  She wears an apron over her Sunday clothes, a dress she has donned thinking she'll get to Mass that day.  She smiles and gestures, bits of dough flinging from her fingers.  She wants me to do something but I can't figure out what.  The memory fades as the sound of my barking dog pulls me into the present.

I stand in my breakfast nook staring through the glass doors of the built-ins.  The yellow bowl sits on the top shelf with other Mom-bowls inside of it.  I pull the door open and run my finger across its surface, seeing my mother's face again, her thin eyebrows so like my own; her olive skin which I still envy; the warmth of her dark eyes.  I've been wondering, lately, what my mother would make of my life -- of the failed relationships, of the weirdly configured law practice with its mixture of appointed and low-budget custody cases, of my son who is so like her youngest, and the shared daughters whom I've tried to help as my mother helped me.

As I turn from the cupboard, the bowl in my hand, I see her standing in my kitchen but it is just a trick of my mind.  Her apron has a sprinkle of flour and a dotted line of milk.  She holds her hands against her waist, and her head turned in the way that I so keenly remember.  I feel my own head tilt and I meet her eyes.  Her radiant smile lingers in those eyes as she fades and I see straight through to the overgrown lawn outside my backdoor.

I turn and set the bowl down on a table.  I've decided not to use it, but I want to photograph it.  You never know:  Things get broken, sometimes through no fault of anyone, sometimes just because our fragile belongings come in contact with sharp edges and hard surfaces.  There's no use placing blame when something breaks.  It's just a fact of life.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

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The Missouri Mugwump™

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I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.