bacon gravy with cheese- on fries

There has been some question as to what to feed us, now that we are here.

I have been in the kitchen most of my life. I make short excursions out to the living room at times, and have even been seen in the great-out-of-doors, but my home- my ‘happy place’ is the kitchen. Now I have one of my very own, a terribly quaint room with oddly angled ceilings and buttery yellow walls. The stove is absolutely tiny and crooked, and there is more of a ‘suggestion’ of counters than actual working space, but it’s ours and it’s perfect. There is one widow where the plants live, and one cupboard where the dry food lives and one drawer where a mouse lives – I think. (Alex disagrees with my brilliant mouse theory, and I am willing to believe that a spider or woodchuck or fairy brought all those nuts and seeds into the house, but I am rather charmed by the idea of a mouse… it needs a name…)

So that’s the kitchen, and some of its inhabitants. Now onto the food….

I grew up in the Midwest, God help us, where our idea of a good meal consists of starch in various outfits and animal protein. Tomatoes, potatoes, green beans and corn are our vegetables of choice. Slices of white bread are served with butter at every meal. Noodles are draped over lumpy piles of potatoes and finished off with beef gravy. Meat is often breaded and fried, and a dessert isn’t complete without marshmallows or jello or both. Yum.

“Don’t they eat sweet potatoes where you come from?” My husband asks. Yes, we do, canned, sweetened and baked with honey and marshmallows.

When Alex and I started courting this summer and he came for dinner, I remember so distinctly trying not to stare at him as he took salad *first*. And then had seconds, *after* he ate the other vegetable my mom had put on the table. Salad- AND vegetables? What kind of man WAS this? Don’t laugh too hard, random reader, I come from the land of Men Who Don’t Like Vegetables. My own brothers, who were raised by a creative and wonderful cook, lump food into two major categories, “Boy Food” and “Girl Food”, ‘boy food’ being anything sweet, meaty, starchy or green beans, and ‘girl food’ referring to anything salad-like, anything with mushrooms or onions, or anything “weird” that is fished from the water. Alex liked girl food. Oh. My. Word. I wasn’t sure whether I should be excited, or apprehensive….

Turns out, he likes boy food too, which is rather relieving, and I am eager to learn to cook some of the foods he was raised with-  the fresh, lemony things born in the Mediterranean like his grandparents. I don’t know that I’ve ever met a man who willingly eats artichoke hearts and it thrills my cookish soul as I see culinary doors flying open all over the place- there is fun to be had here! He teases me about my tendency to want to put bacon with everything… or gravy.. or cheese, those being some of the main flavoring ingredients where I come from, and I still can’t get over the fact that he eats humus and some odd dish called “tabuleh”. I don’t believe he will ever understand my deep and unending love for french fries, but he is a good man and gets them for me when I ask him to, and I bought sweet potatoes to eat like white potatoes though I am not sure how well that is going to work- I’ll keep y’all posted.

Amazing, ain’t it? If music be the food of love, play on – and if the music runs out we can always compromise and sprinkle bacon bits on the salad…..

 

Wilted Salad (revised by Love)

The first time I had this salad I must have been seven or eight years old. A dear friend made it for us and I LOVED it! I remembered it always and made it the other night like she did, but with a couple additions of my own… enjoy with someone you love..

**all measurements are in “more or less” terms- I never measure anything, but this gives you a rough idea of what you need and how much, savvy?**

1 package raw spinach  (I think mine was like a 1/2 pound or so..)

3 or 4 (or 10) pieces of bacon

1/2 onion, sliced thinly – red is to be preferred

1/2 apple, left unpeeled but cored and sliced thinly

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp raw sugar or honey or maple syrup

Cook up your bacon in a broad skillet until it’s done how you like. Add the onion and apple and let those sweat out a little before adding your sugar (or other sweetener). Everything should get good and golden and soft. Add your vinegar and let the whole thing simmer for a bit while you get the spinach ready. Turn off the heat, lay your spinach down over the bacon dressing in the pan and cover. Let it sit for five minutes or so until the spinach is *wilted*, we’re not looking for *cooked*, just *soft*.

Open it up, turn, stir- what ever you have to do to get the leaves all covered in dressing, put in a bowl and serve… Or garnish. I used this *incredible* cheese we bought at the market the other day, Wensleydale- WOW, super creamy and crumbly at the same time with sweetened cranberries in it- from Britain (wot wot!) Use a ton because you only live once and it melts right into your salad and makes the world perfect. Use maple syrup in the dressing instead of sugar, add craisins and walnuts and maybe a little crumbling of sharp cheddar (yes, we need the cheese if there is going to be bacon!!) for a true New England twist. Oh my. Good food coming!

the name of our new world?

basking in the aftermath of five, cheap hours of sleep;

love has stolen all my time, and i don’t care.

the fellas at table number five tease me endlessly about the ‘glow’, the ‘smile’, the way i tend to sing out loud, songs i’ve never heard before. i ask them, “what planet are we on now, anyway?” the only answer they have is wrong. why can’t they see how different everything is?

the gravity is different, but the clouds do seem to have the same shapes, i can see how they would be confused. time moves forward, as we do, which is familiar, but hours and days mean something different under this sun. the earth feels soft and forgiving to my feet and i just discovered that my new world is round. Will i fall off as it turns to face the moon come nightfall?

what is the name of the place we’ve found? what shall we call this world of ours, dear one?  this sphere, this planet- no one will understand, will they, that we have slipped off into an atmosphere all our own. if they could only see the colors of the sky where we are now, if they could only feel the press, the music, the needing to dance and just be together, if they could only hear the future with its sweetly worded promises- they would understand. they would gather with their bottles of grocery store champange and christen us as we settle into our new world and hang up the plaque that says, “We Live Here.”

we do live here now. we’ve packed our bags with memories, ideals and knick-knacks to clutter the walls and flown off to own our planet. we’re going to colonize and explore and plant apple trees and wildflowers in every corner. it’s going to be lovely. roots will run tangled and wild under the crust and love is going to flourish.

they’ll see. we’ll send them postcards- everyone will get postcards, as soon as we figure out the name of our new world……

Quite a Gift

I eloped, as the world all knows. I said my vows in a hushed college chapel in New Hampshire under the loveliest stained glass window I have ever beheld, barely lit by the very full and silvery moon outside.

The bachelor party consisted of watching Finding Nemo with my betrothed at his mom’s house and the honeymoon was barely a day long before we had to head home for work on Monday morning and yet, and yet, it was perfect.

We ‘hit the ground running’, as they say, having to wake up at an ungodly hour on Monday, there was work to go to, groceries to be bought, all of my stuff that needed to be moved, and I think we were both still quite dizzy from the fact that we were actually, factually, hard-core, absolutely, till-death-do-us-part MARRIED. Delirious happiness- does that exist? Because I think we may have found a new species of it if it does, and if it didn’t exist- then it sure does now!

Monday was the best day of work of my entire life. I claimed our little diner as a my own private hall, and every customer was my personal guest to the wedding reception, it was wonderful. The more I told people the reason for my joy- the happier I got. People were laughing and even crying as I rehearsed the details of my special day over and over again- heck, I was laughing and crying as well! My heart thrilled as person after person told me their love story in return, from our regular people who know me well to tourists who’ve never seen me before in their lives. I became thoroughly convinced that people don’t let themselves be in love *nearly* enough. People don’t talk about it enough, people don’t celebrate it enough. People should buy strangers coffee in the name of the ones they love best, not only does it feel absolutely *amazing*, but it makes the person on the other end a little happier as well. I couldn’t help but feel that this- *this* is how our wedding, our Love should be celebrated, not with pomp and circumstance and production, but by taking the sacred bliss and sharing it with the moments of everyday; over coffee, while eating scrambled eggs, in between doctor’s appointments and on road trips. What could be more fitting for a cop and his waitress?

“My love,” I told my husband when I got off that day, “The entire town is happy for us and everyone left that diner absolutely in love because of our story- isn’t that incredible?”

It is incredible. I am in no way incredible as a person, but the Lord has given me an incredible Man, and an incredible story and as I sit down in our kitchen at the end of this first week of marriage, I am stunned by the weight and the glory of what has been given me.

“Andi,” my boss said to me, “Do you realize that you have what every body is looking for? Isn’t that what every one wants, what every one is looking for- to be loved absolutely unconditionally, committedly, determinedly, utterly, with no strings? And you’ve got it. That’s quite a gift.”

My God, is it ever.

a letter to someone who doesn’t remember me

Dear Myrtle,

Do you remember me?

I wonder, as I sit down to write you this Christmas card, if you have any memory of the young woman who called you two years ago because she had received a piece of *your* mail, addressed to a home in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, all the way up in Greenbush, Maine.

It was the oddest thing in all the world, a slim envelope that was supposed to be delivered to someone on the other side of the country ending up in our mailbox. Did no one notice? The only thing that was mistakable was the street address, 1800 Main. I called information, determined to find you, and a frustrating hour later I had your number.

I called, not even really hoping that I had the right number, and your sweet southern voice answered. I wonder what you thought when you heard me on the other end. You chuckled a little bit and wondered aloud at the idea that the postal service had made such a tremendous blunder, but said that everything happens for a reason. I almost think that the letter must have gotten to somewhere in Ohio by mistake and the postal union decided to see just how far East they could take it and find that same address, 1800 Main. Turns out it was the mailbox a few hundred yards in front of a tumbling down old green trailer out in the middle of nowhere’s nowhere.

We chatted about the weather for a bit, it was freezing cold in Maine but balmy in your hometown. Then you told me that you were getting ready to go to a  funeral, your son’s, and you reckoned that the mail was a card from someone sending sympathy. Your voice stayed strong, even though I struggled to keep mine from breaking. You told me he was in his sixties, but had lived a good life and loved God and was looking forward to going home to be with him. All the same, you admitted, it was hard to see your children pass on before you. It’s just not supposed to be that way. You spoke very calmly about the Lord, and your trust in Him to do the right thing at the right time, in His own time, and how you believed that He knew what He was doing- even when you didn’t. You encouraged me to keep trusting in God and walking after Him, that nothing was left up to chance, that He would provide and sustain and accomplish. You asked how old I was, if I was married and seemed surprised to hear that I was only 21 years old, and very single. You said not to fret or rush, but that everything would work itself out in time. Someday, you said, the Right Man would come along and it would Fit.

We talked for a good hour before you had to go. It was such a blessing- I don’t know if you ever realized that. I don’t know any more about than that your son is dead, you live in Oklahoma City and you love the same God who has claimed my heart. I have sent you other cards, other letters since then and never received any reply, so I think this will be my last.

I just wanted to write and thank you once more for your words of calm wisdom. I wanted to tell you that I think of you so often for someone I am only connected to by one phone call and a misdirected card. I also wanted to tell you that the Right Man *has* indeed come along. I have been married to him for a week now- the best week of my life to be sure. Looking back on our story- short as it is- it seems to be a length of incredible events strung together by coincidence and chance, but I know better- and I know you would agree with me could you read this letter. A card gets delivered to the right street address thousands of miles away from the right town; a young woman gets ideas about moving East to find adventure; a young man decides to switch from mechanics to law enforcement and somehow ends up shopping for snow shovels in a small town hardware store where he meets the pioneering gal. They fall in love. They get married. It sounds more like a script from a movie than anyone’s actual life.

Well. It’s my actual life. I am spending this Christmas with the Love of My Life. The Right One. We bought our tree today and there it stands in our living room looking as surprised and pleased as I am. And I just wanted you to know.

May God bless you and yours.

Sincerely,

Andrea Gaylor

 

q&a

I am a questioning person. I can’t think of a single moment in my life that has not been examined and pondered and questioned to the utmost of my ability.

In my days, I have asked and sought out the answers to many questions great and small, profound and ridiculous, vital and peripheral.

“What does mud taste like?”

“How did my eyebrows get to be so dang vicious and ambitious?”

“What does grass taste like?”

“Where would I end up if I just started walking, following the telephone wires?”

“Does God really exist?”

“Does He love me?”

“If I jump hard enough, can I fly?”

“Should I take algebra?”

“Why must there be war?”

“Why don’t all the rich people give their money to poor children?”

“What if I am not strong enough?”

“What if I can’t stop crying?”

“Did dragons exist?”

“What do you think”

“Am I crazy?”

“What’s the Queen’s last name?”

“What is the point?”

“What about spontaneous combustion?”

“Why am I afraid?”

“What *really* happens if you kiss a frog?”

Or, my perennial favorite;

“What would this taste like deep-fried?”

I write a lot of my ponderings down in journals, on blackboards, scraps of paper or even in the dirt beside the sidewalk, wonderings left for others to take up and think for a while. As life changes, so do the questions. The older I get, the more direct and complex they become, the less time I have to really sit and wonder whether or not my toad will turn into a prince. I need good, strong questions that will bring me sturdy, faithful answers. What about love? Should I keep this job? What happens if I fail? How do I show kindness to this person? How do I know the truth? What happens if I am not sure? What happens if I don’t find the right answer? What happens if there is no answer? What then?

In a way, that’s all life is, a series of questions. Some of them you have to answer, some of them you must ask. Each day begins with a question, each dawn gently but persistently interrogates our hours and asks us what will be. Each event demands a response- our answer. Will you harden, will you break, will you bend or shift or give or love or hate or live or die, or won’t you? The wills and the whys and the hows and the whats surround each breath we take and life is waiting- what will the answer be?

I met a young man who seems to be as questioning as I. We have talked for hours, days, weeks, months, mostly asking and answering questions- hundreds of them. We swore to be honest, we promised to be fair even if it was painful or we didn’t get the answer we desired. Nearly any and every query or quandary ever dangled in front of my mind has at some point been dissected and discussed.  “Dogs or no dogs?” “What about children?” “What about homeschooling?” “Cow or no cow?” “Town or country?”  “Dragons? Frogs? Goats? Maine?” “Wood stove or gas?” 

Notes were taken, lists made to make sure no question was ignored, and through all the answerings and askings, I began to love the wondering soul behind his dark eyes, walking beside me on the road, or sitting with me on the couch. I started to see questions we had in common, answers we were both looking for- a fellow Asker. I saw inquiries we had made in our separate lives which had produced kindred results- a fellow Answerer. I started to ask different questions- no longer issues swarming around a nucleus of “Could I possibly live with this man for the rest of my life?” but very strongly, very surely, “What life could there be *without* him? What could the ‘rest of my life’ possibly be if he is not in it?”

He began to ask different questions as well. “Silver, or gold?” “Big or small?” “Diamond, or no diamond?” “Bridesmaids, or no bridesmaids?”  “Winter or Spring?”

Then, one warm evening after we walked and talked over that day’s batch of inquiries, he turned and asked me perhaps the simplest, strongest, most direct question of my life after, “Will you accept Christ?”, and that was-

“Will you marry me?”

What a question.

Yes, I will. The answer is Yes.

Through all the questions that life will ask of us, through all the demands and decisions, Yes. Through the ‘what ifs’ and the ‘how evers’ and the ‘what fors’ – Yes.  Through all the good times when answers are sweet and warm and easy- Yes. Through all the rough times when we won’t be sure, we won’t know, we can’t find answers or don’t like the ones given to us- it will still be Yes.

I look forward to a life of questing and searching and seeking and rejoicing in what is found. Every question has an answer and I look forward to hunting them down side by side with this man who has asked me to be his.

So there you have it, folks. That’s the answer.