A new post every sometimes…

I have been thinking about a post for weeks. Everyday I have thought about writing it.  I mused about it on my nine hour drives to and from West Virginia.  I vowed I would write it there.  A day passed.  The sky was azure blue perfection, the sun casting dancing diamonds on the lake.  A week passed.  I had intentions.  I justified my procrastination by nature’s distractions.

And then I got an email from my favorite blogger, online columnist who has a site entitled Wait but Why.  And his tagline, which says everything about his perspective and his posts is, “A new post every sometimes.”

I felt redeemed. And here I am. With a new sometime.

My mom would have had her 96th birthday a couple weeks ago.  I had been thinking about her a lot lately anyway.  I have found myself wearing my hair “up on the sides” as she did, saying things she might and wishing she was here just being the special human that she was, Sarah Noble.  So missing her, I have been doing some of the Sarah things she was known and loved for.

I made her famous brownies. Something I had not done in years.  Literally.  I remembered, just by watching her hundreds of times, all the ingredients except how much butter.  So I googled Baker’s Squares brownies and who popped up with the recipe but Katharine Hepburn claiming it as her own. How dare she? It was obvious she used the same recipe from the back of the box my mom did. But just because she wore trousers and white turtlenecks and was exquisitely elegant and openly loved Spencer Tracy for 25 years even though he was married, just because she could, she didn’t have to steal my mom’s recipe, too. Hussy.

Anyway, the recipe calls for half a teaspoon of salt and like my mama, and her mama, I measure that in the palm of my hand.  As I took a picture of that I marveled at the accuracy of that method.  But more I saw how much my hands look like my mom’s. A little crooked.  A little veiny. A little older.

Then my mind drifted back to the beautiful, vibrant, engaging, full of love mother of my youth.

My mom was often in a hurry.  In part because she was impetuous, determined and hell-bent for a cause. She pretty much single-handedly stopped the public high school from being built behind our house. Even tore her ACL delivering flyers to mailboxes notifying neighbors of town meetings concerning the matter.  One might think she was athletic, jogging box to box but oh no, not my mom.  She was in her nightie and a trench coat around midnight driving house to house and at one stop stepped out of the car and remembered the flyer but forgot to put the car in park. So she picked up her nightgown, ran after the car in her pink Dearfoams and jumped in as it rolled downhill.  Her knee, not dad’s car God forbid, the sacrifice.

Like many who rush about, my mom was always late.  I read recently that late people are optimists, which she was in spades. Their sunny outlooks give them a false sense of what can be done in a given hour. Or minute or ten. My mom didn’t think there would be traffic, or a bird or a butterfly garden to marvel at along the way and slow her down. So as the clock ticked, she often scrambled.  If company (that’s what our family called “guests”) was ringing the doorbell, mom was sprinkling Comet in the bathtub so if someone used our only bathroom it would appear she started the job and had simply forgotten to finish.  Add clever to her list of attributes.

But on the flipside of my tardy, hard-headed, easily distractable mama, was a person who had the uncanny ability to be totally present with others.  As my son says, she made people feel they were the only person in the room when she spoke to them. She was curious about your life, your dreams, your hopes. And she welcomed you, strangers and loved ones alike, with open arms and an equally open heart.

And most often, when she heard that doorbell from her crouched position at the bathtub, she had time in her magical sense of minutes between tasks, to dash to the kitchen and melt two squares of Baker’s chocolate in a pan, start the kettle for sweet tea and greet whoever had “dropped in” with a hug and the smell of warm chocolate filling the air.

I remember the sound of those chunks of solid cocoa hitting the aluminum pan and can see their thin white paper wrappers crumpled with the Lipton tiny envelopes on the counter and feel like it was yesterday.  And forever ago.

So I have baked. Made dilly bread, meatloaf and cornbread. And everytime I open the oven, a little bit of her wafts out and envelops me, the warmth and aroma taking me home.

Where a little bit of me will always long to be.

 

Mama’s Brownie Recipe

2 ounces (or half a block) Baker’s unsweetened chocolate squares

1/2 stick butter

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup flour

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup or so walnuts or pecans or chocolate chips (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 350.  Butter an 8×8 pan. Melt butter and chocolate on low heat. Remove from heat. Let cool a bit.  In same pan add sugar until well mixed. In another bowl mix eggs and vanilla.  Add to chocolate mixture. Add flour and salt and stir until smooth. Throw in nuts or chips if desired. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of middle with fudgy crumbs. Top should have a thin crust.  DO NOT over bake. Cool a little, cut into squares and serve warm from pan or on a plate.

 

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