“Watch out for the worms,” MTM called from his session of sanding the piazza floors yesterday. Yes, he abandoned me to the wilds of the kitchen. I was charged with preparing our first Farmers’ Market ears of summer corn for the grill, the vendor’s admonition still ringing in my ears…….”Let me give you an extra ear, because I know one of them will have a worm clinging to it.”
Yuck. Ick. Puke. Nasty. That’s the kind of fiber I’m not interested in consuming, even if it is grilled until it is dead dead dead.
My Mom used to usher in our summers with bushels of corn. Our annual pilgrimage to Mr. Alt’s farm (now a tacky driving range) was an EVENT – all capitals and all-out awesome. I remember driving up the dusty dirt road between what seemed like endless fields of undulating corn. Mr. Alt always had Mom’s ears ready in a big plastic bag. She drove that humid bag full of summertime home, and we sweated and shucked, sweated and shucked those juicy kernels of deliciousness, sometimes on the carport and sometimes in the middle of our living room floor.
Mom is a better woman than me. When she found a fat, happy worm, she held it up to me and squealed, “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” before taking it out and throwing it in the garbage. I stuck my virgin hands in that plastic, praying I didn’t find a disgusting worm creature groping around the tips of my fingers. The whole experience of touching something that felt EXACTLY THE SAME as the corn kernels would’ve ruined the juicy succulence of an ear for me.
Summer always meant staying up until dawn with my Mom, monitoring the pressure cooker as she “put up” that corn for us to enjoy for the coming months. To me, nothing tasted as good as gobbling a butter-encrusted ear at 3AM, burning my fingers on the hot, buttery mess. If I could go to bed without brushing the hairs out of my teeth, that was even better.
I waited all year for that singular pleasure.
What food says ‘summer’ to you?
Too Much is Just Enough: Summer Corn
My Dad threatened to come visit me this weekend. I wish he had. You think I tell a good yarn? Well, you should hear him tell one. And then tell it again. And again. And again.
One of the most fabled stories he told me was of our family‘s contribution to The Hermitage in Nashville, Tennessee. Supposedly, he found a deed in a family trunk that was linked to Andrew Jackson, our nation’s seventh President. He said the deed was so fragile that he decided to donate it to The Hermitage on behalf of the family.
It isn’t that I doubt my father and his stories. Some of them are just harder to prove than others. I wanted to see this document that was a part of family lore for myself. Maybe it would give me a means of connecting with my Dad when he was younger, grappling with what to do with a stained antique.
The thing about Dad and his stories: it is never easy to get him to help spelunk the way through them. They are all nuggets to be taken as they are doled out. Never questioned. Not up for further clarification.
So, when I asked him to help me connect with The Hermitage, it was a waste of time. He told me the deed story again, and that was the end of that. MTM followed through with The Hermitage and inquired about the deed, and he arranged for me to see it.
And that brings me to my point. Sometimes, things are better left hidden behind a veil, obstructed by the aura of the tale. The deed existed, but Dad’s yarn built it up to unreachable heights in my hyperactive mind. It wasn’t what I thought it would be, and I left wishing I’d never asked to see the browned old thing in the first place.
I’ll still listen to Dad’s story about the deed, though. As many times as he cares to tell it.
Too Much is Just Enough: Believing a Good Story
But, you knew that already, didn’t you, Dear Reader? I’ve lost my mind……..for the color red.
It has always been my favorite color. At least, since sometime in my teens. That I got to bedeck myself in it last night was spectacular for me. I cannot lie, though. Seeing MTM in it almost made me cry.
MTM wore a red shirt once. He doesn’t wear it often, but this one time, it was something else, almost like a fantasy world in my own mind. Only, he was sitting right next to me, asking me a life-altering question.
MTM asked me to go steady on Valentine’s Day, 2003. He wore the same red shirt that he wore last night. He took me on a date to the same restaurant where we had dinner after our black-clad wedding. He sat across the table from me – same red shirt, same glorious face – and I lost my mind.
My glorious man is no fantasy. He’s real. He’s my family. And, let me tell you, Dear Reader: he’s astonishing in red.
Too Much is Just Enough: The Color Red
I wish I had the nerve to act like a little girl. They are cute. Their fashion choices are flawless. They can wear ridiculous headgear and shoes encrusted with flowers and glitter, and everyone just thinks they are the most darling things ever.
And, when they destroy their entire coiffure because they wrap themselves in a curtain like a cocoon, it somehow makes them endearing rather than disheveled. Believe me, I’ve tried the tactic myself……..ahem, moving right along……
I watched two sisters last night. Their parents and grandparents were trying to have a sedate adult outing, and they thought decking the girls out in their Sunday best would make them act like they were in church. It partially worked for one of them, but the other one ended up twirling around in the entrance to the restaurant, chasing a streaming piece of ribbon. Around. And around. And around.
The next time I looked over, while the adults tried – TRIED – to sip their wine and carry on mature conversation, the girls were both mummified in the window drapes, their glitter-and-flower adorned shoes the only things I could see of them. Their feet entwined in a funny hyperactive dance, while they wondered God-knows-what about the sensation of being circumnavigated in brown velvet.
I wanted to get up and go over there. Ask them if I could play, too. Adulthood makes us too proper, too reserved, too concerned what other people think. Sometimes, I just want to be a giggling little girl again.
Too Much is Just Enough: Embracing Your Inner Child
You tell me. I am in the throes of writing a business plan for myself and my book. Part of the requirement is that I articulate what sets me apart as a writer.
What sets me apart as a writer? I said a couple of things in my business plan already, but I would love to hear some readers’ perspectives. I am not seeking ‘wow, you’re so great’ moments, but one or two concise word bytes might help me unlock my brain.
Here’s what I said so far: I write like a creative person and think like a business person with the same brain. Participating in my own promotion does not make me squeamish.
Maybe that’s hogwash. What do you think?
And, as an aside, I appreciate readers’ tolerance of my occasional posts about this whole big wordy thing. I know you’d rather show up here every day to laugh, cry and/or persecute me and/or each other. Thank you for putting up with me.
Too Much is Just Enough: Asking For Help From Your Friends