Making sense

Anne Lamott, on writing ...

"We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little. But we do. We have so much we want to say and figure out.”

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Depression sucks.
Sucks my energy; sucks my creativity; sucks my optimism.
It is a heavy, burdensome weight; I slog rather than walk; I move in slow motion.
Sleep, sleep, sleep: I could sleep all day. Languish on the couch, humming in low tones.
(How did it get to be 2 p.m.? I have done nothing all day but lie on the couch.)
"Your eyes look tired," my husband tells me, this evening, as we sit in the living room.
No shit, I think.
Thank you for noticing.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Missing Mom

Sadness to my core today.
Missing Mom in a heavy burden kind of way. I feel weighted down with my grief.
Most of her sewing supplies, some of her clothes, and some momma tchotchkes are sitting on my dining room table. It is a mass of memories, heaped in piles of heavy, disorganized, sporadic heartache. Yesterday my sister and I went to Mom's. I took with me my rarely used bottle of Xanax, a just-in-case medication. I should have known I wouldn't be needing it, not because sorting through Mom's belongings was going to be easy, but because I have figured out that grief and anxiety are not the same emotion. (As it turns out, I am better at handling grief. That emotion is natural; people don't judge me for crying because my mother died ~)
Surprisingly, I did not cry while bagging up Mom's sewing stuff; I did not cry while using her bathroom (I had envisioned my seeing her plastic cup of bobby-pins ~ circa 1967 ~ as the conduit for a river of tears); I did not cry while sorting through her dresser, handling her bras and underwear, her slips, her little packages of bra extenders that she ordered through the mail; I did not cry as I sat on her bed; I did not cry going through her jewelry with my sisters, the three of us sitting on the sofa upstairs, Mom's costume stuff splayed out on the coffee table, her "good stuff" coming out at the end, we girls deciding who got what. (Still, the Xanax hid out in its bottle, in the depths of my purse.)
There was no argument. Sisters decided I should get Mom's wedding ring, as I've been the longest married (27 years).
I did not even cry as I took several Grandmother hangings off her desk; just tenderly handed them over to a sister.
Today, though? Today is tears and sadness and melancholy and an emptiness the size of the buffet over at Ryan's (one of Mom's favorite places to eat).
I have zero motivation. Writing this blog causes pain. I forced myself to launder one of her nightgowns and a couple of her housedresses. Ten minutes ago: stood at the washing machine, tears rolling, as I sniffed the collar of her black and white flowered muumuu. Her smell was there, but it was an odor of sickness and decay.
I tossed it into the machine and hit the start button.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Food memoirs: yummy!

Know that FiftyFiftyMe Challenge that I started back in January? Read fifty books and see fifty movies in one year? Well, I'm on schedule to meet that goal in terms of theaters and movie rentals. But the reading? VERY behind. Me, get behind in reading? Say it isn't so. Very unusual. I enjoy reading more than many people enjoy breathing.
The reading was going too slowly; I wasn't enjoying it. Literary fiction? Turns out it's not my thing. I wanted it to be my thing, just like I wanted hot tea to be my thing, thinking that it was cultured and a little Bohemian and literary, but no matter how much I tried, it turns out I just don't like hot tea. Not with honey, not with lemon. Iced tea? Sure, sign me up. Hot tea? No. I've tried, this tea thing, for about five years now. It's not going to happen for me. I accepted the defeat. I have stuck with coffee, which appeals to me in all its forms ~ hot, cold, lukewarm, iced, frozen.
So what's up with the slow-go with the reading? I was trying to be too cultured, thinking that literary books would make me happy, or smarter, or more refined. Turns out refinement and I don't mesh too well. Marilynne Robinson might have won the Pulitzer for fiction (GILEAD) and the Orange Prize for HOME, but her writing makes me want to pull out pieces of my hair. Check out this passage:
          An excerpt from HOME (page 69):
 "As she considered the prayer she was not yet disconsolate enough to put into words, the unwelcome realization came to her that she loved Jack and yearned for his approval. This was no doubt inevitable, since it was assumed to be true of the whole family, separately and together, excluding in-laws, who might hever have met him or even heard his name, and who could only be a little amazed by the potency of this collective sentiment if by some means they became aware of it. He was the black sheep, the ne'er-do-well, unremarkable in photographs. None of the very few stories that mentioned him suggested the loss of him could have been wholly regrettable. It was the sad privilege of blood relations to love him despite all. Glory was thirteen when he left for college, having been by that time ignored by him for years. And here she was in middle age feeling the fact of his touchy indifference a judgment on her, so it seemed to her, though he had been so grievously at fault, and her intrusions all those years ago, her excesses, whatever he might have called them, were no such think ~ she had defended them in her mind a thousand times and would defend them to his face if the occasion ever arose, which God forbid, God forbid."

After nine days ~ nine DAYS! ~ of trying to read this damned book, I made it to page 110 and have learned nothing about anything, only that Glory and her brother are sister and brother and he's aloof and she's milquetoast and their father is dying and now they're both in the same home they grew up in. Occasionally Glory makes Jack coffee; sometimes he smokes a cigarette out on the porch.
Breathe, Kathleen. Breathe.
Always the problem solver (i.e. middle child), I made the decision four days ago to read only what truly interests me (as of this summer): food, and the writing of food and food products.
So I threw HOME by famed and acclaimed literary novelist Marilynne Robinson across the floor; I suggested to Millie that she eat the edges off the boring-ass book. She said No. It wasn't her thing, either. She requested something meatier.
I then went to my bookshelves and started looking for books that were about my favorite subject: eating. First up: A HOMEMADE LIFE: stories and recipes from my kitchen table, by Molly Wizenberg, and this, THIS, is what I was received. On page 19.

     "I know there are a million recipes out there for pound cake, and probably berry versions, too, but as you can see, I consider this one to be very important. It accompanied be through crucial times. It's also delicious, and it's my mother's, and more than any of that, it has the lightest, most delicate crumb I've ever seen on a pound cake. In fact, I'm tempted to call it a butter cake instead, because the word pound is too heavy for what is actually going on here. It's rich, yes, but not too much so, and its crumb is fine and tender. The batter is very smooth, and folded gently around fragile berries and scented with fruity liqueur, it bakes up into the kind of cake that you can't help but want to eat outdoors. Preferably on a picnic blanket, with your mother."

Well. I gobbled up Wizenberg's book in one day. ONE DAY. I would have read it straight through, but there was a shower to take and beds to make and laundry to do and groceries to buy and a dog to let in, let out, let in, let out, let in, let out. And it wasn't a short book: At 313 pages, it was, really, over way too soon. I wanted more from this writer who isn't considered literary, but, GUESS WHAT? is readable! I did not have to reread a single paragraph. I got it from the get go. Wizenberg made me laugh. She made me cry. Really, there were tears, because in the middle of the book, she writes about her dad dying in the family's den, and there's skin mottling going on, and hospice nurses involved, and this kind of thing hit way too close to my heart, but I plowed through my tears and kept going.
When I finished A HOMEMADE LIFE, I went back to my bookshelf and grabbed FINDING MARTHA'S PLACE: My Journey Through Sin, Salvation, and Lots of Soul Food, by Martha Hawkins with Marcus Brotherton. Consider these words about lima beans, from the introduction:

     "The lima beans at Martha's Place are cooked with a whole lot of love. When you put them against your lips they feel plump, like you was smooching the back of your baby grandson's knee. The beans are soft and piping warm, straight out of the pot they was cooked in. They're cooked in together with a lot of good country butter, and flavored with salt and pepper and a few kitchen secrets only a handful of folks know. And if you close your eyes and let them, those lima beans will remind you of sitting at home with all the people you love, and on the supper table in front of you is spread a country banquet on a red-checked cloth, and all of your friends are enjoying themselves and diving in and helping themselves and joking together and having a good time. Those lima beans are on my menu because I know how food can become more than just food. It's what a body uses for change. Like crackers and grape juice passed around at church, food can become what centers things when everything has gone astray."

Now THAT's beautiful writing. Why didn't Martha Hawkins win some kind of literary prize?

An ode to mango

"An Ode to Mango"    
      ~ Haiku by Kathleen Stander

Dearest mango fruit
You have made my left eye swell

Why don't you like me?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day Blues ...

I am filled with melancholy today. It is Father's Day, and I have no earthly father. It will be five years come June 30 since my dad's passing. I know that he is in Heaven, and that understanding brings me peace, but I miss him tremendously. He was just so fun to be around. He was always in a good mood. Would put on a pot of coffee and then sit outside on the deck and talk to you until the coffee was gone. I miss those conversations. I miss the sound of his "shower clogs" tap-tap-tapping down the hall. I miss his stupid jokes: "I have a corn on my toe," and then point, to a kernel from the dinner table that'd he'd placed on his foot.
Now they're both gone. Mom died March 25. I think about her no fewer than fifty times a day. Each morning, when I awaken, when I make the bed (Mom always said: Make your bed first thing, then at least you've got something to show for each day ~). At the grocery store, passing the bags of potatoes (she was famous for her homemade potato soup, which my kids called "white soup"); reading the paper each morning (she loved the paper); while I'm cooking dinner (I used to call her to tell her what I was making; she told me what she had fixed for supper); at night, when I turn on the fan in the bedroom (Mom had to have a fan blowing directly on her).
I miss them as a couple; I miss being their child, the grown-up kid who could show up day or night, uninvited, and feel welcomed and loved.
Home is the place where, when you go there, they have to let you in. I'm not sure what famous person said that, but I like it. Because it's true.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Pie ... PIE ... PIE!!!

Two Sundays ago, after leaving the sanctuary, a small tow-headed boy about six years old rapidly approached me, his head bobbing.
"Wanna buy a pie for your guy?" he asked. I saw that his two front teeth were absent. "We have all kinds of pies for your guys!" He beamed. I had a desire to kiss him, or pat him on his head.
"Come here. I'll show you!" He led me to a table set up in the narthex. There stood two grandmotherly looking women (one of whom turned out to be, in fact, this boy's Mee-Maw).
"It's a fundraiser for the church," Mee-Maw said. "I see that Joey got you. He's a little salesman, that one. Going to do great things one of these days."
Joey nodded his head, smiled broadly. "So what pies do you want? We have cream pies and fruit pies and nut pies, but I don't like nuts, I'm allergic, they make me feel like I'm dying, so I think you should buy a cream pie or a fruit pie. For your guy."
About this time, my guy, my husband, caught up to me at the table. He'd been in the bathroom, having forced his bladder to hold two cups of coffee for the duration of Mass.
"Is this your guy?" Joey asked. "Ask him what kind of pie he likes best!"
At this point, I figured my husband would order several, as he's a sucker for two things in this life: pie (any kind of pie, really), and little children soliciting the sale of Name Something (grocery store coupon books, Boy Scout popcorn, Girl Scout cookies, overpriced wrapping paper at holiday time ~)
"Tell me what you got," my guy said, and then Joey rattled off what he'd told me earlier, including the part about his allergy to nut pies.
"I'll take one cream pie and one fruit pie," my guy ordered.
So many choices now came, rapid-fire, from the future Businessman of the Year.
Deep breath first: "OK, we have coconut cream pie, banana cream pie, chocolate cream pie, and lemon mang pie." Another breath. "We have apple pie, cherry pie, blueberry pie, peach pie, and rhubob pie."
Mee-Maw smiled proudly. Her little guy had done her proud.
All we had to do was pay up front for the pies and the local bakery in town would prepare them, made to order, for pick-up on Saturday, June 16. The day before my guy's Day: Father's Day.
I just got back from the bakery. In addition to picking up what we'd ordered from Joey, I chose "Buy 3-Get 3 free" macadamia nut cookies (my all-time favorite) and an enormous chocolate brownie studded with what looked like chopped pecans.
I ate half of the brownie and one of the cookies on the drive home.
Turns out I'm a sucker for ready-to-eat sweets. (Not new news.)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Rest in peace, Adam

This morning, I attended a funeral service for a 23-year-old young man from Stilwell, Kansas, who died in a tragic car accident in the early morning hours of June 7. His name: Adam P. Baker.
The how of the accident doesn't matter. The specifics are now irrelevant. The fact is this: This time, one week ago, he was alive, working as a nurse on the fourth floor of St. Joseph Hospital, only six months into his new career, having graduated from a prestigious private nursing school at the turn of the new year. He loved his job; his colleagues loved him.
And then, he was gone.
I had never met him, but I knew his Aunt Sue and Uncle Mike, and they are Good People. My sister and Sue are best friends. I went not only to pay respect to the life of this remarkable young man, but to accompany my sister, who was distraught over Adam's death. I didn't want her to drive to Kansas all by herself. Grieving, with its tears and heaves, takes a lot out of a person.
Hundreds of people, mostly young ~ I assume Adam's high school and college friends ~ crowded the enormous sanctuary. A cover of black blanketed the pews. I felt oddly out of place, dressed in a white linen shirt and khaki capris. What was I thinking? An entire closet full of black and I dress like I'm going to Nantucket.
This was my third funeral in recent years where friends and family of the deceased are invited to the podium to speak of their loved one. Informal eulogies. Starts and stops, sobs intermingling. Especially poignant was watching Sue step forward to the altar to comfort her son, Mike, when his tears choked him. She placed her hand on his back; his will strengthened, he continued his beautiful tribute.
Really, the service was beautiful. It was apparent that Adam P. Baker was loved and treasured. My heart goes out to his mother and father, and to his siblings, and to his friends and extended family members.
I am comforted by Jesus' words: "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14: 1-3)
Rest in peace, dear Adam.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Don't Dry Sock-et to Me ...

If you have ever had the misfortune to possess a dry socket, you know the misery that lives inside me.
If you have no knowledge of the dry socket, let me educate you.
A dry socket is a dental term. A bad dental term, as in hope-you-don't-get-a-dry-socket-because-it-hurts-like-a-mother. The kind of pain that can reduce a burly man to his knees; the kind of pain that can make a mother profess that she'd rather have a baby sans epidural and push for twelve hours than go through dry socket pain for one day.
I am hear to tell you that I gave birth three times naturally, without even a single Tylenol, and I disagree passionately with those who prefer childbirth to dry socket pain. Expelling a nine-pound human being out of my vajay-jay was the most painful physical act I have ever endured (but that is another post). For pain comparison, I would rather, let's say, have a dull headache for a week than live with a dry socket; I would rather have pink eye for a month that deal with the dry socket issue; I would even rather have two paper cuts on every finger for 24 hours than go through the jaw debilitation that a dry socket has brought into my mouth.
How did I get such a thing, you ask?
Wisdom tooth. Lower left. That tooth burst through when I was about twenty years old. I was married then, and pregnant with Offspring #1 when I started teething and drooling, tugging at my ear. I remember this because my husband thought it was hysterical that I was getting a new tooth and a new baby all in the same year. "You can teeth together," I remember him saying.
For twenty-six years that tooth hung out in my mouth, gathering pieces of pulled pork and popcorn kernels, a type of oral compost pile. That tooth saw a lot of floss in its day. A lot of toothpicks. (I have never gotten the hang of using a toothpick, but that too is another post.)
And then one day about a month ago it got all stubborn and decided not to hang out all chill and relaxed in the back of my mouth. It started to protest and get all pissy and I put up with it for about two weeks, thinking a sesame seed had taken root (damn you, Big Mac), and rather than go around digging for it and causing bloody drool, I thought, what the hell, I'll just go to the dentist. I called my trusty dental office at 9 a.m. Monday morning, and wouldn't you know, they had an opening that very afternoon! (This was not a great comfort, as I usually need about ten days' notice to psyche myself up to go to the dentist.)
But I said, Sure, I'll be there, and five hours later, the dentist took a look at the X-ray and said, Number 17 needs to come out, which really was instruction to his assistant standing there with her clipboard, and when I said, Oh, that rear wisdom tooth, right? he shook his head and told me he was referring me to an oral surgeon. He then told his girl to see if I could get in that very afternoon (what!??!?!?!?), and when she came back and announced, She can't get in until Thursday, my heart palpitations went away and I calmed down a bit. I don't know about you, but I would rather have a baby than go get a tooth pulled. Not really (see above), but you know what I mean.
After dozens of Our Fathers and Psalm 23 recitations the night before and morning of, I ended up in the oral surgeon's chair at approximately 3 p.m. on Thursday, June 7, 2012. It is important to note the time I lowered my shaking body into the chair because I had a 1:30 appointment, which means for 90 minutes I had to sit in that ugly little waiting room worrying myself into diarrhea cramps. (Side note: Oral surgeons make, what? $250,000 a year, and they can't provide magazines published after 2009? They can't purchase new chairs? They can't dust droopy silk flower arrangements?) Fortunately, I dragged my husband along, and I launched into my Goofy Waiting Room Patient routine, first with him and then a Diana Ross look-alike sitting catercorner to me, just to Start Conversation, to Think About Something Other Than Having A Huge White Wisdom Tooth Pulled Out of My Head. My husband was a good sport for about thirty minutes. Tops, 45, but as I already complained, an entire 90 minutes transpired before I was called back. Fortunately, the lady across from me had good humor, and she and I talked about our kids' wisdom tooth extractions, which, somehow, made both of us feel better. (She was there to have a front tooth pulled. Oh. My.) The longer I talked with her, the more she reminded me of Diana Ross ~ not from the Supremes period ~ but Diana from "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" era. I was just getting ready to ask her how often she'd been told she looked like Diana Ross when the ugly brown warped door opened, and a woman in pink scrubs called out, "Katherine? Katherine Stander?"
Well, my name is Kathleen, but my last name is Stander, so surely she meant me. I felt annoyed, and, to be frank, a little scared, that this person did not have my name down right, which immediately made me think, Uh-oh, impending medical mistake, they're going to extract #32, but then she self-corrected and snorted a little and said, "Oh, my apologies," and I followed her back, a little pale lamb (with a menopot and a chipped pedicure) being led to slaughter.
Amazingly, ten more minutes went by until an assistant came into the room and complimented me on my purse. (It is a very nice bag.) She then got out the blood pressure cuff and started asking me how my day was going, and I'm thinking, Are You Freaking Kidding Me? I Am A Nervous Wreck, Wait Until You See My Blood Pressure, but then she said, Wow, 120 over 58. Excellent. But then I freaked, because 58 seemed way too low, and I was contemplating passing out when in walked the oral surgeon, a little dark-haired man who wore ~ I am not making this up, I promise ~ who wore a Hitler mustache. No shit. Litty tiny black thick mustache. Very Hitler.
However, he immediately apologized for making me wait, and he had a sexy, Wolfman Jack radio voice (which took me by surprise; I expected him to have a German accent), and before I knew it, I liked him. I trusted him to extract a tooth that had been my constant companion for 26 years.
So there was a gross tasting concoction on a swab and then an enormously long needle and then "Now this is going to stick a bit," (it DID) and "Well done, Kathleen, you're doing great," and next thing I know, they both leave me and it's just me and my awesome purse and a mouth that is growing very numb and tingly. My chin began to feel very Jay Leno. (Side note: I do not think they should leave you alone after administering the numbing stuff. What if you had a very, very bad reaction? Something anaphylactic? Something that meant your throat would swell up, close completely, and you would not be able to breathe?)
Turns out I am not allergic to the numbing concoction.
Within ten minutes, Wolfman Hitler and his assistant returned and within two, three minutes, the doctor was nearly on top of my body, tugging and pulling with all his might. My jaw felt that it might just give up, become unhinged. (I could lose weight then, I remember thinking ~ ) More tugging, pressure, and then there was a truly heinous crunching sound and then the doctor said, Well, there you are, and next thing I know, he's helping me stand up and his assistant tells me to go to checkout, to have a nice day.
Which I do. I check out. I get a little pamphlet explaining post extraction dos and don'ts, and then my husband drives me home. I feel jubilant and strong for having survived my extraction without shitting myself. A few hours later, I send my daughter to Price Chopper for deli macaroni and cheese, which is exremely delicious and extremely fattening, but oh-so-soft and just what the doctor ordered.
So, where does the dry socket come in? Dry sockets occur when the extraction doesn't heal well. Smokers tend to get them because of the inhaling/exhaling and the subsequent drying out of the mouth. Poor dental hygiene can cause a dry socket. Used to be, straw suckers got them too, only my oral surgeon's assistant said straws were allowed. (Haven't you heard your entire life never to drink from a straw after getting a tooth pulled? Turns out you can ... .)
Let me say now that I am not a smoker and I have outstanding oral hygiene. (I enjoy flossing and brushing.) And I got a dry socket, which became apparent when, on day four post-extraction, my tooth hole throbbed right along with my entire jaw. Even my left eye started to burn. The pain on the 1 to 10 scale? An 8. Easy. Maybe even a 9 at times.
An educated person, I turned to the Internet and self diagnosed the dry socket.
I called the oral surgeon's office. I think I have a dry socket, I said. Come in at 3, the person on the phone said.
This time, three o'clock meant three o'clock, and what happened? A different oral surgeon took one look, said, Oh, dry socket, and then handed me a pink vomit pan, which scared me, but then he put something atrocious tasting in my mouth, said Spit, and then put something in my mouth hole ( a packing) that tasted very strongly of cloves, which, is not entirely unpleasant, and then, within ten minutes, the pain went away. Vanishment!
Until the next evening. But I'd already made a follow-up packing appointment, which is where I went today, at 11:30. More clove packing. More pain relief. (I will never look at a clove in the same way. Which may or may not ruin the decorating of the oranges come Christmastime.)
I am to return to the office this Friday at 8 a.m. For more packing. Turns out that a "person my age has a 1,000 percent chance increase of developing a dry socket post extraction." Doctor told me today that I might need 8 or 9 additional packings. Just what a gal wanted to hear.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

An unsophisticated palate?

Yes, I have an immature palate. I must have been raised by twelve-year-old children, because this is my favorite meal:
1) Pickleloaf sandwich (squishy white bread, one slice processed American cheese, two slices pickleloaf, Miracle Whip spread liberally)*
2) HUGE handful, green onion potato chips accompanied with enormous dollop of green onion dip
3) Package of Little Debbie Swiss cake rolls, frozen, not thawed (this way, the treat resembles ice cream cake)
4) Cherry or grape Kool-Aid, very cold, but no ice

I am not kidding when I say that I could eat this meal every day of my life and never grow weary, never get bored. Actually, I probably should not consider this a meal; it's more like lunch. Lunch for a twelve-year-old raised in the midwest whose parents work blue collar jobs.

(*I also have an unholy attraction to bologna and something called braunschweiger ~)

I am the product of blue collar workers. My dad worked at the General Motors Leeds plant for 25 years. For twenty-three of those years, he put on the left front fender. To mix it up a bit, he finished his career on the assembly line by putting on the right front fender. In his brown paper lunch sack, every day for twenty-five years, Dad ate two peanut butter sandwiches (no jelly/no jam). For a beverage, he had his silo-looking thermos filled with Folgers. If my mom were alive, I would call her right now to ask her what else he had in that sack. Surely a grown man wouldn't get filled up on two PB sandwiches. (Dad died in 2007; Mom just a few months ago. I am sick anew with grief as I write this, because now I won't know what else was in the bag. This will bother me more than it should ... ).

We ate simply. Mom never cooked with capers, scallions, or wine. She never flambed (sp?) anything. Well, anything on purpose. She once had a skillet of frying chicken get out of hand, but a big dosing of flour extinguished the flame. We kids never had top sirloin, or T-bones, no filet mignon. We loved beanie weinies on the stove, a side of oven-baked tator tots to go with. On Sundays, Mom threw out all the stops and made something Big and Delicious, like roast with all the fixins', or a ham with delicious scalloped potatoes, that I try at least once a year to make but always fail in the attempt. Can't get the consistency right: the potatoes are either swimming in buttery milk, or dried up and parched. Sundays were good for meatloaf or stuffed peppers, and a cheesy corn casserole that would make any Southern black woman proud.
About six months ago, my enterprising daughter did some genealogical research and discovered that my mother's maternal grandmother was mulatto (the word used on the census). All was explained for me then. No wonder my lily-white mom with her Lucille Ball hair and freckles galore cooked greens for my dad (he was raised in Brandywine, Maryland, on a tobacco farm), and cornbread, and something called spackle, and grits and hominy. No Muslim could eat at Mom's table: bacon was in everything. That or ham. One good bone-in ham was worth four or five meals. To this day, one of my favorite dinners is beans and ham. We ate that a lot when GM shut down the line back in the 70s. We also ate pancakes for dinner and Cream of Wheat for weekend meals, which is, truth be told, a heavenly treat when given strips of cinnamon toast to dunk into the steaming hot bowl.
No, we were never rich, but we ate like kings. Midwestern kings who thought bowling was high entertainment, boxed macaroni and cheese was nothing to be ashamed of, and green Jell-O was a perfectly acceptable dessert. Also, my parents, and my friends' parents, thought there was nothing unethical about putting their kids in the trunk of their Chevy to sneak them into the drive-in without paying. Thought nothing was unhealthy about chain-smoking in the front seat of the car with all the windows rolled up, the children gagging and red-eyed in the back, begging for fresh air.
It was the 60s. Then the 70s.
And here it is, nearly fifty years later, and if I had some pickleloaf in the fridge right now I'd go make myself a sandwich, only it wouldn't be the same as I remember, because all I buy these days is that high-fiber wheat bread that seems stale the minute you take a slice out of the bag.
Tomorrow I will go fetch a loaf of Wonder bread.