Now Listen Here
Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. Spent most of the day inside, with the rain and fog and mist at the window, and I paged through a few magazines and ate a can of sauerkraut. Yep. Opened a green can of Frank’s and ate it with a fork. Seems I have had a craving lately for salt. Monday it was pickles and mustard on Tuesday. Must be the German in me, I’m thinking, or the weather.
If you’re wondering, I didn’t eat plain mustard. I dipped onion rings in it, big fat greasy onion rings, while having lunch with my friends — Helen, from Arizona, in town for a wedding, and Laurel, a dear lady one town over with whom I enjoy eating lunch now and then. She raised three sons and I think our friendship might be, in part, about her never having had a daughter, which is fine by me. We venture out on little road trips together sometimes. She loves to visit thrift shops and take short walks around her neighborhood, but her favorite place to go is a small Swedish coffee house where a person can order a burger for two dollars or some meatballs and potatoes for six, and there’s always pie.
We didn’t have pie on Tuesday, but we had pretty much everything else. We talked and laughed and mapped out a route for a Winnebago road trip next summer, during which Laurel planned to show me the places she loves — the prairies and the mountains and a few truck stops — and we’d end up with Helen in Arizona, and visit Lake Powell and Bryce Canyon. One last road trip for an 83 year-old woman, with me riding shotgun. Her eyes were shining as we talked, and I told her she looked beautiful, and she told me that eating that much mustard is a little bit odd. We all hugged each other before we parted, and I dropped Laurel off at her apartment, and she thanked me for the ride. “You’re my chauffeur. Thank you. Let’s have lunch again soon,” she said. I watched her walk away, and through the front door of her apartment building.
Her email Wednesday night, late, said she wasn’t feeling right. She’d made a steak for herself, some potatoes and carrots, and she had a quiet evening. Her plan was to visit the doctor Thursday afternoon and get some answers to her questions. She made it there, in high spirits. And there, at the clinic, surrounded by caring, loving people, she died.
I think when we lose someone we care about, our pain is in direct proportion to our love. I’m feeling it today, that pain, and it’s a rough one. I loved her. And now I wrestle with what feels like selfish thoughts. I don’t get to sit across a table from Laurel anymore, and sip coffee, and hear her stories and tell her mine. I don’t get to take her cookies without chocolate, and she’s not going to show up anymore with a fresh pie for me. I won’t get emails saying, “Now listen here”, telling me the hard truths only a good friend will risk. Sigh. But I knew her. I have that. I got to spend part of my time on the planet with a barefoot cowgirl who could drive a gravel truck and bake up a storm, and what a time it was.
Here’s a recipe Grandma made at Christmas, but it’s good in any cold weather. She stored the pastry cookies in an ice cream bucket on top of her fridge, always the first thing I saw when I walked in the door.
6 egg yolks
4 T sugar
1 T melted butter
⅛ tsp salt
3 cups flour
6 T sweet cream
⅛ tsp ground cardamom
Beat yolks. Add sugar and mix. Add rest of ingredients and mix well. Roll thin and cut into diamonds. Fry at 370 for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. Roll in powdered sugar and serve.