My folks moved from South Dakota to Arizona in 1949 when I was four. Because we were the “outlanders”, as it were, every other year from then on we had to make a trek back to SD to see the relatives. Very few of said relatives made the same trip to see us, which only goes to show that all roads don’t necessarily run both ways.
We traveled in second hand, radio-free vehicles that were stuffed to the gills with kids. And since we couldn’t listen to the radio we sang. My mother’s head was not stuffed full of “cotton, hay, and rags,” as Professor Henry Higgins would say. It was stuffed full of lyrics instead. Our mother taught us the words and she also taught us to sing in harmony.
One of the traveling kid show favorites was Vive la Cookery Maid. If you need to hear the tune, there are apparently several versions available on YouTube, but I’m reproducing the lyrics here from memory rather than using a cheat sheet.
There once was a maiden to cooking school went Vive la cookery maid.
On dishes delicious her heart was intent Vive la cookery maid.
Her apron was spotless, her cap it was neat.
The figure she made was distractingly sweet, But the stuff she concocted a goat couldn’t eat Vive la cookery maid.
She started with doughnuts that didn’t cook through, Vive la cookery maid.
She toyed with the soup and they used it for glue Vive la cookery maid.
They used her plum pudding to poison the rats, Her griddle cakes might have been used for doormats.
With her biscuits her brother disabled three cats.
Vive la cookery maid
At last she made something, a pie, so she said.
Vivel la cookery maid.
T’was hard as sole leather and heave as lead.
Vive la cookery maid.
She put it away and retired to bed
A burglar broke in and upon it he fed.
When they came in to morning the burglar was dead.
Vive la cookery maid.
So let’s just say Thanksgiving dinner was a bit like something that cookery maid might have served. There was a failure to communicate between the guy doing the turkey and the gal making the gravy. As a result, the turkey was fine but the gravy was … well … so salty as to be inedible. And my first mother-in-law’s stuffing, which had, heretofore, been a fail-proof concoction, managed to fail spectacularly. It turns out that the mashed potatoes could be eaten without gravy, and there was enough other food that no one starved to death, but it did cast a bit of a pall over our Thanksgiving Day celebration.
On Saturday, kids and grand-kids made a return visit and, in a matter of a couple of hours, managed to deck the halls for Christmas in a perfectly acceptable fashion. Having benefited from growing up with Jim Hunt Christmas decorations, they knew just what to do and where to put things, and they did so in a fashion that Mary Poppins would call “spit spot!”
Saturday evening, we went to Tres Hermanos, a neighborhood family Mexican restaurant, where Colt has celebrated every birthday so far, including this one, number 14. The people there have known Colt from birth on. I’m not sure why, but they call him Cauliflower Ears, and I’m not J.A. Jance there. I’m “Grandma,” and that’s fine with me. For dinner that night I had shredded beef flautas. I loved then, and even better, none of it was up to me. I went, sat, ate and enjoyed.
And now, here we are a hop and a holler from Christmas. I should have an editorial letter on Credible Threat back from my new editor sometime next week. In the meantime, I’ve been to two movies—Ford Versus Ferrari and The Good Liar—and loved them both. In my opinion, Ford Versus Ferrari is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen about real friendship. Bill and Colt liked the cars. I liked the characters.
I’ve also read two books. The Girl who Saved the King of Sweden and The Girl who Lived Twice. Well, make that one and a half books. I’m halfway through the second one, but last night, when I got into bed, Joanna Brady’s daughter, Jenny, gave her mother a call at work. It was a very interesting conversation, and I should probably get to work writing it down because, as of right now, the deadline for Missing and Endangered is actively ticking.