All Quiet on the Western Front
Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I was in one of those thoughtful moods, quiet but not sad, remembering how — just one week ago — the kids were laughing and moving about the house. The bags and boxes and suitcases were packed and loaded, the car full of gas, the maps and student IDs on the counter and the bike strapped tight to the car.
Twenty four hours later, we were driving home without her. Forty-eight hours after that, driving home without him. And so it is: one married; two in college. All is quiet on the Western front.
First thing I did, both nights, upon our return, was to make the bed of one of our children. Same as I did upon arrival in the dorm room and in the apartment, where it wasn’t long before the freshly laundered sheets and blankets and comforters were in place, pillow fluffed, note tucked away where it was bound to be found. I love my kids. I want them to be warm and comfortable. I want them to be happy.
I imagine you’re smiling. The kids can make their own beds. You can’t do everything for them. Let them do it. Let them go.
Well. You have to take care of your life, I say. And this is how I take care of mine. When I don’t know what to do, I do what I know how to do. And I know how to make beds. I’ve made four a day for nearly two decades, and what else is there in the short while before The Hug goodbye, before you drive away and leave them to follow their bliss?
The week since has been quiet. I’m scattered, still, but it won’t be long before I’m back in the saddle. I’m reminding myself, again, how to take care of my life. Some silence for a while. A walk, lunch with a friend, a bit of planning for fall. Half an hour on the trampoline at twilight, yessirree. A phone call to my parents. A bowl of yogurt with berries. The mixing and kneading of a loaf of fresh bread. Singing. A hot bath. Open windows and stretching. A good book. A bouquet of fresh mini-carnations. Some baked chicken with rosemary (that’s for remembrance). A candle, lit, scented apple and cinnamon. A pen, in hand, and paper. Deep breathing, a handwritten letter, the ol’ feather pillow, and sleep.
I do expect a call at some point, but for now, knowing they’re out there, somewhere, taking care now of their own lives … is good. And so it is.
Whip up a batch of this macaroni and cheese, and you can feed the Youth Group, the neighborhood, your coffee people, everyone at the lake. Or you, for nearly a month. Comfort food supreme.
Bigtime Good Macaroni & Cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 cup whole milk
2 12-ounce cans evaporated milk
1 cup butter, cut into small pieces
½ pound Colby cheese, grated
½ pound Monterey Jack cheese, grated
½ pound sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1 pound Velveeta cheese, cut into small chunks
½ cup sour cream
Salt, to taste
1 T white pepper
1 T sugar
1 cup grated mild Cheddar cheese topping
Grease a 9×13 pan. Set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt, and cook elbow macaroni according to package directions until tender. Drain and transfer the macaroni noodles to the baking pan. While the macaroni is cooking, combine the milks and eggs in a large bowl. Whisk until thoroughly combined, and add the butter, cheeses, sour cream, salt, pepper, and sugar and stir together. Pour over the macaroni and stir to combine. Top with the grated mild Cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 to 45 minutes or until the top is lightly golden brown.
Serves up to 24.