Archives for : July1955

Pulling Some Strings

As if feeding off my color complex dilemma, Daisy insisted on wearing Stevie’s cowboy boots with her pale pink sundress I put out for her to wear. The boots were a couple of sizes too large and Daisy was clomping around riding her stick horse. Stevie was loudly declaring his insistence that they were “boots for boys” as she gleefully skipped past him.

Most days, Stevie Junior and Daisy are good playmates. Junior teases her more than I would like and holds her toys just out of her reach, which makes her raise her voice. Daisy is stealth. After she realizes what will set him off, she goes for it. I have seen her move his coonskin hat when he wasn’t looking to a new spot and then watch him search for it. I suspect that she has moved his soldiers around from his army set-up when he wasn’t looking. One time while baking with me, she casually dipped the batter covered beater close enough to his head to put chocolate in his hair but he didn’t feel it. I quickly, but silently, removed the beater from her hand.

I grabbed Junior and sat him down at the kitchenette. His face was red and we discussed a different solution to the problem. Luckily he was able to take my advice, along with a fresh brownie, and return to his room to play instead of taking on Daisy while she had the upper hand.

Was I somehow teaching them how to react to future problems or showing them how to manipulate each other? I had time to think about it that night while Steve and I were watching TV together.

I wasn’t very interested in the show and picked up a magazine to read, grabbed my smokes, headed to the front porch and enjoyed the last minutes of summer light without interruption. A little later, Steve poked his head out the door and asked me what I was doing. I thought it looked obvious. I was enjoying some quiet time alone. I guess what I had chosen to do seemed like a lot more fun since Steve came out to join me. I didn’t mind his company since he brought out a drink for each of us to enjoy the sunset. We could still enjoy the quiet, but do it together.

Plaid Is the New Black

Anyone who describes their favorite color as plaid is screaming out loud that they are troubled or taste deficient or both. I feel like a plaid lover sometimes. I think it’s in shocking contrast to my very vanilla taste. It’s as if I get fed up with myself and secretly need to paint each of my toenails a different color while wearing my constantly red fingernail polish. Maybe it’s because the wartimes were so bland and everything seemed gray that I needed to break out. I dress monochromatically most days and blend in as an upright member of the suburban women’s club that I live in.

My most recent reminder of this started right after Edie moved in. Edie seems so posh, so put-together and mixes and matches colors in her clothes that I would never feel comfortable wearing. Where does someone so young get so much confidence and would I ever break out and develop some insanely imperfect sense of color and culture that others would admire my madness? I couldn’t talk to Mags or Edie about these crazy thoughts that were brewing in me. I think Mags depended on me being dependable and I hadn’t taken the time to get to know Edie well enough yet.

So much to think about. For now, I pulled out the red plaid blanket out of the bottom of the linen closet and laid it on the sofa in the den. I planned to take a book into the den tonight and read. Maybe some magic spell would occur that would imbue my spirit with some new sense of the colors available in my life.

King of the House

Two young children ran in and out of the front door dodging the incoming furniture. The Morgan house would be much livelier with this family. The house sold quickly and Mrs. Morgan was tentatively starting to enjoy her new life. Occasionally, a dark haired petite woman appeared at the door to check on the progress out front. She covered her hair with a scarf crossed at the base of her head and tied above her bangs. She wore a full apron over her slacks and blouse. There was a certain planned precision to the move-in. A tall, neatly dressed man in what appeared to be military boots, guided the unloading of the items and the boxes. The boxes that left the truck were all numbered and taped carefully.

Like most of the other women in the neighborhood, I would make a welcoming casserole and something sweet to welcome our new neighbors. I wanted to make one of my specialties, my King Ranch Casserole. It feeds a large family and I could make a double-batch to serve my own family also. A classic chocolate cake would work as a treat.

I settled into my preparation and let Daisy lick the spoon and Stevie lick the bowl from the cake. The first casserole made it into the frig well-covered and I placed the other into the oven to bake while the cake cooled. I spent a little extra time smoothing out the icing. After the cleanup, I repaired my lipstick and wrote out a small note with our names and checked the moving headway. The truck was just pulling away, so I gathered the kids to join me. Stevie gently placed the covered cake in his wagon next to the casserole and we wheeled them down the block.

As we arrived at the house, we were met by two other neighbors just leaving. The dark haired woman had shed her scarf and was smiling and thanking them. When we approached she looked at our offerings in the wagon and clapped her hands. I introduced myself and the children. The two children we saw earlier peeped out from the side of the front door and she introduced little Debbie and Junior Joe to us. I still didn’t know her name and was waiting to hear what to call her, but she didn’t offer it. I finally asked if she was Mrs and left the blank hanging in the air. The tall man came up from behind her and took over by telling me that they were Sandra and Senior Joe Brown. He explained that he had recently left the military and asked our names. I gave my name and offered the casserole and cake. Senior Joe picked up the casserole and thanked us for the goodies. He turned and disappeared into the house. Finally, Sandra looked at me and admitted her embarrassment at not providing their name earlier. She turned a little red and I felt like it was time to go. I handed her the cake and she thanked us again. I walked a few steps away and then remembered to pull out the paper with our name and phone number. Call me anytime I said. I looked again at Sandra’s eyes and noticed that they were cornflower blue and she had a sweet smile. I smiled back warmly and repeated “anytime.”

I realized after some thought that my reason for spending so much time watching my new neighbors was a need to determine if they would fit in and become part of our little group of friends. I was also aware that I liked having another friend on the street. It sounded like a complaint against all of the good things that I had, but it was good to talk to others who didn’t have my same outlook. I wanted to hear something new and different to happen to our lives when new people entered.

In a neighborhood like ours, there are social rules. You must wave at every one when outside. You must keep your yard tended. Your house should be neat and clean and your children should be polite to old people and animals.

New neighbors are carefully screened by observations obscured by front window drapes. Belongings are evaluated while the movers unload them. Number and approximate ages of children are noted. Even the wardrobe chosen for moving day is graded. Sometimes I think it’s easier to join the local country club. I wonder if keeping up with each other is our one way of checking on our own lives?

King Ranch Casserole

1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomato and green chiles
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese, divided

Sauté onion and bell pepper in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in chicken and next 7 ingredients; remove from heat.
Tear tortillas into 1-inch pieces; layer one-third of tortilla pieces in bottom of a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Top with one-third of chicken mixture and 2/3 cup cheese. Repeat layers twice.

Summer Smells

The summer heat brings out the kid in Steve. Once or twice each year, he decides that we’re all going to pack into the car and sit in the swamp. It’s not your ordinary swamp. It’s next to the airport.

The back road that Steve takes to the far side of the airport is probably used mostly by couples who want to be alone to park. The grass grows taller than the car and it’s easy to feel lost back there, but when Steve arrives at the exact right spot, he stops the car. In the next minute or two, a huge noise is heard just overhead as a large plane looms right over our car in ascent or descent. The kids make squealing noises each time one passes over. I snuggle up to Steve with his arm around me and we laugh as the kids react. Plane travel is so exotic and exciting. I hope that sometime we can go on a trip with the kids so that they can experience it.

At some point during the evening before the sun sets, Steve will get out and cut some cattail plants, which the kids call “punk.” After the sun goes down, we start back for home. Steve manages to find his way out of the darkened swamp by following the lights from the airport. The children are always happily quiet on this ride and dress for bed without resistance.

This load of punk will be great for the fireworks. After we stick them in the ground all around our sitting area, Steve takes the time to light them and they keep the bugs away. Not to mention their smell. They smell like summer nights to me. As long as the smoke doesn’t blow too much, they work like a charm!