A Wanted Woman
Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. We finished one fine meal of homemade pizza which Mr. Sundberg and I made together, sharing a glass of white wine and dancin’ around a bit to good music from the heart of Texas. I’ve been to Texas only once in my life, with my grandmother and two aunts when I was young and one of my aunts was moving down there, and I have good memories of the place: broiled flounder, warm winds, putt-putt golf, picking up shells in the Gulf of Mexico, and swimming in a hotel pool each night during what would be the only road trip I’d ever take with my father’s mother.
Her name was Rosella, and she was a sign reader. We’d pass a sign; she’d read it out loud. And then she’d comment on it. “Harv’s Implement. Wonder if Harv’s in or he’s got his sons working for him like Donny does down at the mercantile. Hmm. Dottie’s Bakery. S’pose they got some Bismarck’s? Fiona Harke always wanted to have a bakery, but Herman wouldn’t have it. Said it was too much work and he needed Fiona at the farm. Worked that woman to her grave, I tell you. Look, Wichita, 93 miles. I thought we were closer than that. Railroad crossing. I don’t understand that. It’s a train crossing. I remember when the train started coming through town. I was a young girl and loved to go down to the mill and watch the train go by. And I did, often, til the train hit ol’ Otis and killed him there on the spot and my mother said no more. She was that way about parades, too. Wanted me to stand near her and I’d just as soon join the parade. I must have tried a few times or at least wandered off for my mother to worry herself like that.”
Could have been an annoying thing, I suppose, Grandma’s sign reading, but I was somehow charmed by it all. Whenever my brothers and I stayed with her, and rode along on short trips to the butcher or the grocer or her friend Ginny’s house or to the beach down at the river, Grandma read signs. It was, now that I think about it, one of the few circumstances which led to her talking about her life. Maybe reading those signs gave her a kind of permission to say a little more than she might have said otherwise.
Grandma got a speeding ticket on the way up north to home, while passing through Missouri. I can’t imagine she didn’t see the speed limit sign; she must have ignored it. Wisconsin is a long drive from Texas, and Grandma had things to do. She was one of the hardest working, most common-sense women I’ve known in my life. I guess you could say she died an outlaw. She never did settle that ticket (“Not gonna pay it,” she said), and has been a wanted woman in Missouri since. She’s been a wanted woman in these parts, too. Mostly ’cause we miss her, and the fattigmand she made each Christmas, and how she wore aprons, and waved her wooden spoon around when it was time to eat.
When spring comes around the bend, away with the heavy creams and gravies and cheese Casseroles. Bring on the fruit and the glaze and the fluff! Here’s a light one that will stand on its own at the potluck.
Cherry Pineapple Fluff
1 20 oz can crushed pineapple, drained
1 can sweetened condensed milk
12 oz Cool Whip
1 can cherry pie filling
Miniature marshmallows (to taste)
Chopped nuts, optional
Mix together and refrigerate.