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Archives for : April1956

Roman Lemonade

Edie and I had not talked about whether she wanted the other girls to know about her writing, so I didn’t bring it up at the next card game. We were at Judy Anne’s and her theme was daffodils. I had no idea what that meant but I knew that she had beds of the most yellow daffodils springing up around the two trees on her front lawn. I didn’t really own any yellow tops so I opted for a light turquoise dress. As it turned out, nobody except Judy Anne was wearing yellow, so I didn’t stand out too badly.

As usual, her table was gorgeous. Judy Anne could teach a class in how to dress a table. She always manages to make it look formal but fun, balancing her well-made sweets on cake stands. She had quite a collection. I always feel like I should wear white gloves when I visit her house.

A crystal punch bowl was set up at the end of the table with delicate glass cups. Judy Anne described her punch as Lemonade with a kick. It sounded delicious and was addictive. She had frozen a ring of fruit in a mold and floated it in the bowl. While we played cards, there was little small talk or gossip. The more competitive of our group had made that a rule long ago. As the afternoon wore on and we sampled more Lemonade, the talk increased. The last hand or two definitely saw a drop off in interest.

The last part of every card party ended up with all of us nibbling off small plates and sitting around the living room. It was a transition back to our real jobs.

Edie had picked up a book that was laying on the coffee table. She was skimming an page on Ancient Rome. Judy Anne was enjoying the pleasant feeling of a well-thrown card party (and multiple glasses of lemonade) and started to kid Edie about the boring book she had found. Judy Anne laughed and confessed that she had bought it just for looks and had never even cracked it open. I realized that Edie was probably doing research for her new book and when she looked up and saw me looking back at her, I smiled. Edie smiled back and asked Judy Anne if she could borrow the book, letting her know Artie was very interested in Roman mythology. Judy Anne laughed again and agreed.

I wasn’t sure about what to think of Edie’s behavior. It was her secret to keep and not mine to share. I’ve kept secrets before and have a few of my own also so I think I’ll let her reveal her alter ego if and when she is ready.

Only the Lonely

My days are pretty busy. Monday is laundry day, Tuesday is grocery shopping, and the rest of the week involves all the other tasks of housekeeping. Every other Wednesday was a card party day and I did manage to squeeze in a few calls to my squad during the week; some days I barely had time to sit down with a cocktail by 3 in the afternoon. I wondered about Edie’s days and how she spent them. There couldn’t be much work for just two adults and Artie was away flying a couple of times every week. I would have shopped more or even visited museums with my extra time if I were Edie, but she didn’t seem to leave her home very much.

I know she reads because there is a big stack of books from the library on her side table in the living room. Her home is exquisitely clean but she never mentioned baking too much. A regular round of sweets would ruin her terrific figure anyway. Edie was a little mysterious; not as mysterious as Zettie Louise, but still, I was hoping that she wasn’t suffering from the curse of the suburbs – loneliness.

Yesterday, I baked a batch of Lemon Ricotta Muffins and placed four into a cute little basket with a brand new tea towel. I scoped out Edie’s house off and on all morning and didn’t see the car move, so after lunch I walked down with my basket of goodies. After answering the door, she invited me in and I told her that I should have called first to see if she was busy, but she waved a hand and told me to come on in. We sat at her all white kitchen banquette, sliding into opposite sides. I presented my muffins and Edie gratefully thanked me and offered to make some coffee. Her gleaming percolator was already set to go on the stove. Wow, I would have had to dig the grounds out of the top and pour out the old coffee for a new batch. It must be great to be always company-ready. We made small talk while the coffee perked. I didn’t really want to beat around the bush for my information, so I took a deep breath and blurted out my question about what Edie did all day. She was momentarily shocked by my question but regained her composure. Edie quietly got up and silently returned to the task of getting our coffee ready. She filled the creamer and placed the sugar bowl next to it on the table. She poured coffee into a porcelain cup and placed it quietly in front of me. The saucer held a dainty spoon. I could live like this. My mug of coffee at home usually got a splash of milk and a teaspoon of sugar but sometimes the teaspoon was from an old set of cutlery that might not match the everyday set. I silently fixed my coffee while trying to figure out if I should apologize for the question. Edie looked thoughtful as she fixed her cup, sat down across from me, smoothed down her skirt and said “Well.” I told her that I didn’t mean to insult her and she motioned for me to wait. We stirred and sipped for a few minutes. I could tell she was thinking about something important.

Edie rose and asked me to join her. We left our cups and I followed her into a small sunroom off the back of the house. It was bright and warm with peach walls and filled with white shelving and furniture. There were a couple of shelves of paperback novels on the bottom of one of the units that seemed out of place, but I wasn’t concentrating on the titles. Edie had redecorated the sunroom as a ladies office. It was dainty and beautiful. On the little desk was a typewriter and a stack of paper, a pile of typewritten pages and some large envelopes. I looked at Edie.

She reached over and handed me the first few typewritten pages of a manuscript. The name of the book was Virtuous Venus and the author’s name was R.L. Newquest. I read the first three paragraphs and realized that it was a dime store romance novel. I looked at Edie and asked her if she was typing someone’s books for them. She smiled slyly and answered that they were her books. It took me a moment but I smiled and then laughed with surprised. Edie laughed too. Mystery solved. Edie was a romance writer in hiding!

A Farmer’s Life for Me

Steve often told the kids stories about visiting his uncle’s farm in the summers of his youth. There were tales about hard work, getting up at dawn and great meals prepared by his aunt.

Stevie’s teacher asked for volunteers for their class trip to the farm and Steve thought it would be a great chance for the “men” to bond. Knowing that farms generally are muddy in the Spring, have fragrant undomesticated animals and work left me out, but I knew that tromping through the muck, semi-milking cows and laughing at livestock was considered great fun for young boys.

On the morning of the trip, the guys dressed in boots and jeans based on the previous two days of thunderstorms. I made sure that they had a hearty farmhand breakfast to send them off and Steve drove over to the bus lot with Junior. Daisy was a little teary-eyed that she couldn’t go but I whispered in her ear about the possibility of a trip to the pharmacy after school for ice cream. She smiled knowingly and drank her juice.

When Daisy and I came home from our treat, I was greeted by a giant pile of muddy pants, shirts and boots at the back door. Steve and Junior must have stripped down to their skivvies when they came home. Daisy went to her room to play and I followed the giggling I heard coming from the bathroom. Steve had little Stevie in the shower. A smaller pile of underwear lay on the floor. They didn’t hear me at the door so I left them to their work to start dinner.

Over pork chops and mashed potatoes, Stevie regaled us with tales from the trip. They went on a hay ride, milked cows, ran with goats and managed to get as dirty as possible. I silently wondered what the clothes of the little girls in the class looked like. Was it possible boys deliberately tried to get as dirty as possible? I threw the farm clothes into a separate wicker basket to try and wash in the morning.

Junior fell asleep easily and after tucking in Daisy, I checked on Steve. Apparently, farm life was tiring. I found Steve sitting up sound asleep in his chair in the den. I guess those tales about working on the farm pertained to visiting them also. I gently lifted Steve’s drink glass from his hand and encouraged him to go to bed. “Sun up” would be here soon enough and he needed to go back to work in the morning.

Watch Me Pull a Rabbit Out of my Hat

Brunch at the club; such a treat. The children sit up straight and keep their napkins mostly on their laps while eating. Steve looks extra handsome in his good blue suit and my coral pumps are delicious looking.

When a past debacle at the club resulted in no more chicks on site, this year there were bunnies. In the main room, there were cages with a bunny wrangler. Daisy was in heaven. She had to stop at every cage, pet every bunny, rename them, and then lecture us on what she learned. Daisy has a great memory and big eyes that melt your heart when she looks up at you. We stopped at the little girls room to clean up and met the guys at our reserved table in the dining room. Harold and Mags sat with us and Harold asked Junior serious questions about his math skills in anticipation of getting his next job at the bank. Stevie giggled and told us he was going to do odd jobs for Zettie Louise forever.

It smelled so good I immediately regretted not dieting all week in anticipation of eating more than usual. The buffet was full of everything you could desire and the desserts went on and on. I wasn’t sure that I would have room for them, but planned to just get a bite or two of each main course choice and side and save at least room for a nibble.

While we ate, a magician roamed the room pulling quarters from unsuspecting ears. When he arrived at our table, he bent low and spoke to Daisy. She nodded and smiled. The magician pulled out her chair and took her hand to help her stand. Everyone in the area stopped eating while he performed a couple of funny card tricks with her. After that, he took off his top hat and had Daisy hold it with her eyes closed. The hat was upside down and the brim was right next to her face. The magician counted to three and a pair of eyes peeked out of the hat, followed by some big eyes and a twitching nose. The rabbit laid its nose opposite Daisy’s and his whiskers caused her to open her eyes and stare right into the face of a rather large bunny.

It would have frightened me but Daisy giggled as the bunny continued to stare into her eyes. Good bunny. Everyone clapped and the magician pulled the rabbit out of his hat and gently placed it on the floor for Daisy to pet. What an experience!

Daisy chatted happily all the way home. Junior was annoyed at her for not crying when she opened her eyes to see those rabbit eyes staring back. Daisy has an innate calm that will serve her well in the future. I look forward to seeing her handle her life as well as she handled that trick today.