Ordinary and Real

Archived | January 15, 2016 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. Spent the day inside, out of the sub-zero chill, sorting through and rearranging and putting away and cleaning up. It’s like that each year, the week or so after New Year’s Day, where there’s more light later in the day and I get it in me to put things in order and I do. Takes one’s mind off the cold, and feels pretty fine at that.

And once things warmed up a bit, I journeyed out and ran my errands. Bank, gas station, pie shop, grocery store, post office. I enjoy running errands, and have done so for so long that I’ve made friends along the way. You see people regularly, makes sense you’d share your lives a bit, and I like walking into the gas station or the pie shop where I’m greeted with “Hello!” and “How was your road trip?” and “You’re looking fancy today, where are you headed?” I like knowing that Michele’s son is feeling better and that Joe finally got to see his girlfriend last weekend, and that Pam is sleeping better, and that Eric at last made peace with his parents. It’s all real life, and there’s sad stuff too, and isn’t it something to share it all with people like you, people working hard to make good lives, people wanting to have good days, to feel that something meaningful has taken place?

The best part of all of it is the laughter. People have funny stories to tell, and conversations often go that route, and laughing feels pretty dang good in the middle of January where I live. Good, solid belly laughs. Warm a person from the inside out. I had one of those Tuesday at the post office. Asked for Valentine stamps to get the love going early, and they had none yet, and I thought for a moment. “You have any with squid on ‘em?  Or fungus maybe?” The postmaster looked at me, cocked his head. “Well, Mrs. S, I don’t. Just these with the American flag, or these with vegetable drawings.” (I chose the flag ones. There are fireworks on ‘em, too, and fireworks are always good.) “Can I ask why you’d want a squid stamp? Or fungus? You mean like a mushroom?” “Taxes are next on the list,” I told him. “Seems a photo of a squid or some big green thing growing in a Petrie dish would be just the thing to slap on that envelope.” And he laughed, and I laughed, and we had a lot of laughter with all our ideas of what would be fun on a postage stamp. Until the person behind me gave a little, “Ahem,” of course, and I moved on out the door. “Have a great day, Mrs. S.!” the postmaster hollered, and I hollered the same right on back.

I’ve been giving it some thought since. What I’d put on a postage stamp if I were in charge. Cheeses, for sure. Confetti. Sunsets, perhaps. Silhouetted people with their arms around each other. And cloud photos. And pie. Slices of pie, and some whole pies, or maybe just the word, “Pie.” Something ordinary, and real, and enough to bring a good laugh to the people who have to open all those envelopes filled with completed tax forms. Why not? It’s a New Year, and we can choose to live it any way we wish. I choose getting my taxes done early, some fireworks now and then, and — this moment — one slice of banana cream pie. Homemade. And yes to the ice cream.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been a big fan of ice fishing since I can recall. Long days on a frozen lake, snowmobiles suits, hot chocolate, and pulling in a nice bluegill or perch or crappie here and there. Here’s how you might cook ‘em up at the evening of the day, and some potatoes on the side, all fried up and tasty and gone before you know it.

Pan Fried Lake Fish

Fish filets (bluegill, perch, sunfish or crappie)
1 egg
½ cup milk

Pat thawed or fresh filets dry with a paper towel.
Place equal parts flour and cornmeal in a large Ziploc bag.
In a shallow dish, mix egg and milk well.
Dredge fillets in egg mixture, and drop into bag of cornmeal and flour,
2-3 at a time.  Shake well.

In large skillet, heat 1-2 T oil to 375, or just starting to smoke.
Lay fillets in skillet and fry until lightly browned on each side.
Remove to paper towel covered platter.
Serve with lemon wedges.

Fried Potatoes

5-6 potatoes
2 strips bacon, chopped
1 T oil
2 T chopped onion
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel potatoes, or leave them unpeeled and simply wash.
Slice lengthwise into four pieces.  Put in a pot and cover with water.
Bring to a boil; boil 10 minutes.
Drain, and set aside to cool.

In a large skillet, place chopped bacon and oil.
Stir fry bacon until simmers, and add onion.
Stir and fry until bacon is done and onions begin to brown.  Slice potatoes into bite-sized pieces;
add and stir until potatoes begin to brown.  Salt and pepper to taste.