Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mama turns a dark corner

Did I ever tell you my Mama was a nun? For six years?

Leftover's of that level of discipline trickle down. Some part of both the sense of correctness divined within a convent and the how-to's of everything are partial explanations as to how I came to Blushing - with both the centerpieces and the tattoo's.

When it comes to how a thing is done correctly, my Mother is a walking reference manual of wildly arcane and extraneous clippings of etiquette and protocol: How to address a Pope or invite him to dinner. Other uses for challis's. How to spell 'monsignor'. And so on.

When people come to dinner, they know they will get a beautiful meal, presented with the lively vivacious touches of an experienced and elegant hand.

But lately, there has been a shift in business as usual. Lean in, I need to whisper to you: The doors are coming off this thing.

Perhaps we will never know how far things might have gone had someone not rescued my new Sister-in-Law walking dutifully toward the table with a highly questionable tablecloth as my Mother cheerfully noted it was very long. There was a gasp, a low moan, and that poly-blend perma-press job was returned to its chest and the linen produced without delay.

What's happening here? One had to wonder.

But before anyone could stop to deeply contemplate what might be going on with Mom there was the predictable and obligatory black smoke from the kitchen. I think you can just make out the faint puff of smoke below. We only got this first shot off, because you know, we always photo it and then have to put it out or else say how great the dish is when it comes out of the oven.

We've always been pretty quick with table salt but can never seem to lay our hands on the extinguisher easily. Sometimes the fire gets away from us (which actually would make a good caption for many of our family photo's, come to think of it), and that's how we've enjoyed such a warm relationship with the local fire department.

This guy runs the fire trucks in town and is accustomed to being alerted when we are cooking.

He's an old friend and a good guy; Stood next to me in the drive while I was clad in a towel the day the bathroom radiator blew up as I was showering. The fact that every firefighter who worked for him knew the house better than we did remains a point of curiosity. But when you think of it, we've always done quite a lot of cooking.

Anyway, we were all thunderstruck when we noticed this next bit.

then, when this was advocated as a means of teething

and it takes more dogs than family to see to the leftovers

one begins to consider whether the strict mantle of formality has been passed on although these words were never expressly uttered and we were not handed any sort of manual, weapon, or fire extinguisher.

There have been recent warning signs: My dressing-gown robed Mother explained to me at four one afternoon that she had way too much to do and was too boxed-in as a terrier softly licked her foot while she drank coffee and a gadget catalog glided gently from her lap to the floor. Her glare told me my sense of irony did not stand up to scrutiny. "Over-burdened" - conceptually - is in the eye of the burden-holder, remember that. Not the burdened's observant daughter.

So now, on holidays when my Brother bellows, "You're up!" from another room, more than one of us is hoping he is only referring to who will carve the turkey.


Karena said...

This was so fun to read! Can you imagine all of the stories families could tell about the holidays!!

little augury said...

Hilarious! and happening here as well-Mother, the table salt made its ubiquitous appearance in our mostly ornamental kitchen. Love the dogs in the thick of it all waiting for crumbs and the teething of plates-perfect! GT

Sharon Crute said...

Fabulous, entertaining post! A pleasure to stop by...

Pigtown-Design said...

Our motto is "it's not thanksgiving dinner at the bowers until something catches fire". last year, a napkin doused in the gravy pitcher and this year a flaming "petticoat" on the turkey's leg.

home before dark said...

I used to do a brandy flambe (turkey roasted breast down then turned over with a brandy port mixture poured on top, lit and returned to oven after flames died down). The first time I did this in my parent's home I thought my father was going flambe himself. He told my husband to be: to hell with regular kitchen tools, get yourself a reliable fire extinguisher and know how to use it! Tell more nun stories, please.

bkoskinen said...

I am new to your blog. Your writing is wonderfully insightful, funny and rich with emotion. I hope you have intentions of writing a book someday.

opheliabelle said...

Uh oh. Sounds like your mother is dropping not so subtle hints that she's ready to pass the baton.

bcp.....My Life said...

Oh, my goodness! This is too real. (except I am the Mother) Last week I did a post called "What's that I smell?" You might enjoy it.