Tag Archives: mother daughter bonding

Taking the Lid Off

Yesterday I did one of those strategic early morning Walmart runs. You know: the aisle-organized list, the double mask, the full body sweatsuit: prepare to raid at dawn.

As is usual when making this foray, I went to the canning aisle first. (It used to be cleaning supplies to look for bleach wipes. Things are improving.) If you’re a canner, you know why I go there first. If you aren’t, don’t worry about it. The point is, when I arrived another woman with a gater mask stood in front of the empty section.

She eyed me sideways and I did the same to her. Were we after the same scarce resources?

Half-pint jars were my quarry. Which they had. As I put a couple of cases in my cart, she said, “My mom died.”

I said, “I am so sorry to hear that. How are you doing?”

She said, “It was March 20, 2019. She canned a lot.”

“Does it comfort you to use her stuff?”

She cocked her head, considering. Above the mask her eyes concentrated on the shelf, but she was seeing something else.

“Yeah, it does.” Her hand moved to a thing that claimed it was a “grease catcher,” a kind of modified coffee pot doohickey. A lot of doohickeys have come out since the pandemic started and newbies began entering traditional preservation methods with money to spend.

“My mom kept all the grease from when she cooked, but she kept it in a kind of an old skillet with a screen over it. It didn’t look like this.” Her hand rocked the coffeepot-esque thing back and forth in its box with a faint rattle.

“Lotsa weird devices coming out. You still have hers?”

“You know, I don’t know. I haven’t seen it in years, but there’s still some boxes to go through. Some days it feels like yesterday, but it was two years ago. She missed all this craziness.” Although her hand gestured to the empty shelf we both knew what she meant.

I didn’t say the other words we were thinking: two years ago today.

Aloud I asked, “Are you looking for lids?”

She nodded. Hence the side-eye when we met. We might have had to arm wrestle.

I grinned, then realized she couldn’t see it. “Aren’t we all? Last I bought some without price gouging was at Target. I don’t know if you live near one?”

Rural people will understand, but for those who wonder why I said that to someone in the local Walmart, these places are beacons for 40 miles around. Sure enough, she lived in a small town about 30 miles away. This was her nearest box store.

We exchanged Intel on where we’d last seen rings and flats, who was upping the prices, places to check on retail and the online markets. She told me about her mom’s biscuit recipe and her love for fresh tomatoes. She still uses her mom’s clothes peg bag and some very old pins that her mom had from her mother. “The smell of fresh laundry, or fresh cut tomatoes, bring her right back like she’s standing there.”

I nodded. “The smells get us every time, don’t they.”

We wished each other luck on the lid hunt, and started to move away.

She paused. “It was nice, talking about my mom. It’s been awhile since I just talked to somebody I don’t live with.”

“I liked hearing about her,” I said.

And we parted.

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Filed under crafting, Life reflections, small town USA

Shopsitter Janelle says Farewell

We’re running a bit behind on timing because of the author humiliation contest – more entries posted Friday! This is our first shopsitter of the summer’s farewell post, and Kelly, our second shopsitter will be sending a post next week. (BTW, if you’re interested in shopsitting, we are looking for a week in October and a couple of weeks in December.)

Sadly, our shopsitting visit is soon coming to an end already.

We are excited about the potential of our final day sitting the shop, and we are tickled to have company coming for lunch tomorrow, too…folks that moved from our home area near Green Bay, Wisconsin, to Chuckey, Tennessee, several years ago. We just now realized how near to them we are while here.

To be honest, this shopsitting gig has been far more like a vacation than work. We have come to feel far more like family than “hired” help. And we have done more reading and relaxing than we have work. The latter I understand, I think. If I were home I’d find plenty to do (I’m pretty sure I have weeds waiting for me in my yard, taller than I am) but no matter how much work I invent for myself to do here (like re-organizing book stacks or putting sections of books back into alphabetical order or sweeping the front porch or doing dishes or laundry) I’ve still been getting to read and visit with guests (and Facebook) more than I would if I were at home this week.

And as for relaxing vacation, I’m not completely sure what to make of that, but I think it’s the Wendy factor. She has told her local people to make us feel welcome, and they sure have. We have been included in invitations to dinner and swim aerobics and church and told where the local walking/running trail is numerous times…and been included in pretty much all else that has gone on while we have been here. We have eaten nearly every meal offered (that will need to be addressed when we get home, too!) and, when I think about it, taken up very few of the exercise offers presented us. But Wendy threw out on Facebook that we wanted to do some local hiking, and after all sorts of suggestions for where we should/could go, kind friend Destiny simply said she would come and lead us, and she and her son Jack did!

I learned a lot while we were here; there is no question. I go home no less eager to one day have my own bookstore, no less eager to have Natalie bake and maybe cook for me like Kelley does in the Second Story Cafe here. Wendy and Kelley make that all look like a very easy, symbiotic relationship, not a “tough” job at all.

Wendy does, indeed, make it all look enjoyable and easy…although I do fear that I’d find in my own shop lots to do instead of this relaxed “I could do that” style. We prevented Wendy’s work from getting done sometimes with plenty of conversations, several good meals, a mutual glass of wine or bottle of beer here or there. Sometimes I really wanted her to go “make stuff,” assured that we could manage things here, and when she did, that’s when I felt I was contributing the most.

Otherwise, let’s be honest: I’d far prefer to hear her conversation with a guest to the shop–the exchange of local chit-chat, or updates on pet adoptions or procedures, or discussion of a new book, or valuing of books brought in for trade. If she wasn’t really “gone” from the shop, it was too easy for her to step in and do those things, and I seized the opportunities, then, to learn from the master.

I’ve very much enjoyed this adventure with my two youngest daughters, watching them melt kitten hearts and make new friends, devour books (Natalie stayed up until 2:40AM Saturday night…err, Sunday morning… finishing Water For Elephants, which she had started only the night before. It’s one of my all-time favorite books! How can I be upset with that activity?!) And I loved us getting to see, together, parts of the country we had not previously visited. Delaney’s determination to be THE one to get to “do the Square” any time a customer paid with a card or to be the one to take their cash, for that matter, showed me she has those super original cashier skills, communicating clearly and doing math in her head to make change (rather than NEED a cash register to do it for her). We go home with a new bond of mutual adventure and with many memories to share.

It’s like reading a book with someone, only better. The girls and I have shared a tremendous adventure, and I can only imagine how soon we’ll all talk about coming back! I imagine it will come up in the thirteen-hour ride home.Janelle on porch
Thanks for your hospitality, all. We have had a great time!

 

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