Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Remembering Dorthea - my grandmother

This weekend I pulled out a church cookbook from a plastic bag. It was yellowed, stained, and falling apart. It was my paternal grandmother’s cookbook from 1937. Within its aged pages, it contains regional recipes from the eastern shore of Maryland.

I am very grateful for the relationship I had as a small child with my father’s mother. My mommom, was a simple, gentle woman. She was very patient and caring. She worked in a factory in the town she grew up in sewing on shirt cuffs. Her husband was a blacksmith. Dorthea only read at a 3rd grade reading level. She was my daycare as a youngster and I remember many days walking with her in the back yard to look at the blooming jonquils and lilacs and picking up fallen sticks after a storm. On hot afternoons we would sit on the front porch and watch different cars drive down the neighborhood. Once a week we’d walk down to the corner where she got her hair fixed. I would help her in the kitchen doing the dishes and watching her make wet dumplin’s, or little burgers she called “hamburg”.

It is these simple, quiet routines that I have been thinking about lately. I have recently changed my diet to be vegetarian as my stomach was requiring a much lower fat diet. This change in awareness has made me start to change my focus about food, cooking, and how emotionally attached I am to the “family meal”. During this re-evaluation process, I find that I am getting closer to what I want to cultivate for myself as a family and home.

Stuck in traffic the other day I realized that Mommom would not have understood the craziness of the congested area live in. The busy rushing of the greater NYC area would have stressed her. Regularly I find myself homesick. It has taken a long time to get closer to what exactly I have been homesick for. I am not homesick for my parents or the life I had as a child. Being the stereotypical Capricorn, I didn’t really enjoy being dependent as a kid and childhood was not really my idea of a good time. I couldn’t wait to grow up and I was right about that. I don’t miss the old family unit. I am married and have part time stepkids. I am very close to my in-laws. I miss the small town mindset.

I miss the focus of carefully planned meals and regular garden work. I miss long evenings on the front or back porch, watching the fireflies and just sitting with loved ones. I miss evening noises being cicadas and crickets. Now the evening noises are radios, teenagers yelling, the metal band practicing in the garage next door, trains, ambulances, the highways, and planes taking off at the airport nearby. There is no still lushness. The air is congested with noise and smog. The houses are too close together so that you don’t get any breeze through the house in the evening. Even the land seems to cringe inward not flowing and in a coma against the screech of activity and overpopulation.

There are two answers; 1 move, or 2 turn inward and upward. There is human connection that can harness the human stream of activity all around. The spirit planes are still available and are still quiet and active in order and flow. I find the stillness of quiet within and try to start from there every day. I find connection in other people and have my own flow connect with the healthy flow of life and humanity but not the frantic panic of craziness all around. I remember the slower time as I tend my flowers. I hope for a day where I live in a place where the air is cleaner and quieter. For now though, I cook with my Mommom’s cookbook, feeding my family, and do my best to be a conscious, honorable person, doing God’s work—just like Mommom would!

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