Sunday, May 26, 2013

It wasn't just a hand mixer

When I moved away for college, I moved into an apartment.  It was a cute little place close to campus.  I rode my bike across the street and then across campus most days.  Moving into an apartment meant that I got to open my "hope" chest and use all the pretty dishes that I had been collecting over the years.  Along with all the dishes, I took with me some hand-me-downs from family and friends to fill the cupboards of my apartment.

One of those hand-me-downs was a hand mixer that once belonged to Grandma O.  My Grandma O was a fabulous baker.  I never once remember going to her house and finding the cookie jar empty.  She made homemade rolls for special occasions that were melt in your mouth good.  Her apple pie was outstanding.  Grandma O wasn't good at verbalizing her feelings for people.  She wasn't an overly warm woman but I believe that Grandma O showed her love with food.  She baked, she cooked, she fed her family and friends and that is how she told us she loved us.

This afternoon, I pulled out Grandma O's mixer.  I had fresh lemons from my lemon tree and was determined to make a lemon meringue pie.  In college I had successfully made pies using that mixer, that turned out beautifully, with no weeping or shrinking or anything.  They tasted mighty good too.  Of course when I moved back home after college, the recipe I used to make those fantastic lemon meringue pies got lost in the shuffle.  I have tried to make that pie again, several times, with little success.  My Food Network magazine arrived Wednesday with an easier recipe, I had a fresh lemons, the kitchen was empty, I had the time and so it was time to try again.

I squeezed those fresh lemons (I should have taken a picture of my lemons...the rind is at least an inch thick.  They look like softballs.) and mixed together the ingredients for the base of the pie.  When ready, I poured it into the waiting shell (store-bought because while I have inherited a little bit of Grandma O's baking genes, I fail at pie dough.  FAIL.)  I then pulled down Grandma O's mixer, ready to tackle the meringue.

Upon putting the first beater in, I noticed that it wobbled a little.  The connection between the shaft and the beater blade seemed a little tenuous.  The next beater was a little more solid but when I put the second beater in, I noticed the two beaters came together too closely.  I tested it once outside the egg whites and they clanked together.  No good!  I pulled them out, switched places and tried again. A little less clanky, so I decided to give it a try.  Into the egg whites the beaters went.  I switched the mixer on and smoke started to come out of the motor, the beaters clanked together and then stopped, jammed together.  I looked at Grandma O's mixer and realized, the end had come.  There was no fixing this.  I pulled the cord from the socket, tried to eject the beaters to no avail.  I then pushed and pulled until they came apart.  The one tenuous beater was now even more wobbly.  The era of this hand mixer had come to an end. 

I washed the beaters, dried them, put them back into their rightful place on the mixer, loving wrapped the cord around the mixer and took it out to the recycling bin for their future ride to their final resting place.  It's just a hand mixer and yet, I will admit to feeling a little teary at the end of our time together.  They will be replaced by another hand mixer.  An updated one with a bigger motor.  But that mixer won't have the memories attached.  When I pull it out of the cupboard, I will no longer think of Grandma O and the wonderful things she made with that mixer.

As I started to write this post thinking about Grandma O and her baking, the dates started connecting and suddenly the tears that came weren't because of a silly hand mixer dying after, gosh, 40+ years of use. 22 years ago this week, Grandma and Grandpa O celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.  We had a grand party, a dinner of course, at a favorite restaurant of theirs with family and friends surrounding them, celebrating their lives together.  That night Grandma O went to sleep and didn't wake up.

Over the years, I have come to believe that grief meanders in ever widening circles.  The first days, months and years, we cycle through our emotions, feeling the loss of those we loved in an immediate and profound ways over and over again.  As the years go on, the circles of emotions become wider, with longer times between the waves of sorrow.  Little things will trigger our emotions and the grief will return, maybe less intense, maybe just as intense as when we first felt the grief.  For me today it was an electric hand mixer, an inheritance from a Grandmother who left earth years too soon.  I grieve, not just the loss of her presence, amazing baking and cooking skills, but the relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter that was just beginning to form after years of relationship "misses".

It wasn't just a hand mixer, it was a memory catcher; a reminder of someone I loved and the way she loved me in return. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Taking a break

I made a decision the other day.  It was a decision that has been brewing for a little while now.  I decided to take a Facebook break of sorts.

I think it was when I realized I was hiding more posts than I was reading that the decision was made.

Or maybe when I found myself holding back from typing those three little letters that my friend E interprets as "We're That Famous" (look at it...look at it...don't get it?  eh, oh well.) as a comment on someones photo or status or whatever.

Maybe it was when I started feeling really awful about myself...there are a lot of perfectly happy, wonderful people on Facebook who are so content!  so happy!  doing so great!  have the perfect life!  perfect job!  look perfect!

The decision could have been made while reading the 1/8 of posts on there where the perfectly unhappy had to rant, yet again, about their perfectly unhappy lives.

It could have been when I felt like Facebook was just another version of the high school popularity contest.  How many friends do YOU have?  How many "likes" or comments did your last status update get?

Then again, it could have been the moment when I realized that I didn't need to do this anymore.  I didn't need to read all the posts or see all the pictures.  I didn't need to feel bad about myself or get frustrated with other's political "insights" that are, in my humble opinion, very one-sided.  I didn't need to read all of that...I just didn't.

And so, I decided to take a break of sorts.  I will go on to check if there are messages from anyone, because that happens, or if there were posts left on my wall (another thing that DRIVES ME CRAZY!  I have email and there's the whole private message thing.  The whole world does not need to see the conversation between you and I!)  I check certain pages (Hey, RevGals!) and then I.sign.out.

The strangest thing has happened.  I'm not up-to-date on all my friends lives and, well, it's okay.

I don't think constantly about what I can post on Facebook to get the most "likes" because it.doesn't.matter.

I'm also not angry every time I sign out.  I don't feel as bad about myself, my just average life or my lack of "popularity".  Sure, I do miss seeing photos but I know how to look for those.  My conversations don't include "Did you see so-and-so's post on Facebook?" and I am perfectly happy.  Gosh, just writing this post I realized how much Facebook reverted me to my angst-y teenage years.  So don't want to go there again!

This break may last a long time...I may revert to my old ways or maybe my page will languish there unused for a long time.  I don't truly know.  At the moment, I am at peace...and that, my friends, is good.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Six words in

I was on a website recently that had a job board.  I was curious, so I clicked on the job board.  An opening immediately jumped out to me.  "I could do this!  I would LOVE this!" My heart picked up a beat and I didn't even flinch at the location of the job.  I clicked the link.

Six words in I stopped reading.  Six words in.

I understand their position.  I don't agree with their position but I understand it to a point.  I keep coming back to this.  I did not ask to be equipped with the gifts and talents I've been equipped with.  I did not ask for the opportunities I have been given.  All of those things, God gave to me or called me to.  I did not one day wake up and decide to thumb my nose at a few verses in the Bible that say "a woman must not..." because I thought it would be fun.  I followed God.  I am still following God.

So, to the church back east with a position open which caught my attention and started to fan the flame of excitement and possibility in my soul, well, I wish you well as you seek your man.  This woman will keep her eyes open and keep following God's leading.  Obviously, that wasn't one.