last column

I think it might sound more ‘normal’ to say that I am not good at goodbyes, but who am I kidding? I’ve never been the most normal person in the world and in all honesty I am actually quite good at saying goodbye. I’ve said goodbye probably a million times in my life and have developed a talent for it. I’ve had lots of practice and practice makes perfect They say and yet I sit here trying to fill this empty page with a goodbye for Brandon and am having an unusually hard time.

I moved to Brandon four years ago today. I remember it well because it snowed the day after we moved into the yellow house up on the hill. I woke up, looked out my window and saw that Spring had been dusted with Winter’s ashes.

I had lived here for two years before Alex came into the picture. I held the position of world’s dorkiest clerk at Aubuchon’s and he came in to buy a snow shovel. It was February and he was getting ready to start at the police academy. He came to Brandon that weekend to get a feel for the town and it had snowed the night before. I don’t remember seeing him but he ‘set his cap’ on me right there, right then, in spite of all my dorkiness. It took six months and a hurricane to finally get us together. The town split down its middle, buildings were rearranged, streams burst their bounds and removed the ground beneath our feet and he and I stood there at the edge of the mess and exchanged looks and thoughts and even a few words. I remember seeing the kindness deep in his sparkling dark eyes as he told me how much he enjoyed talking with the towns people who had come out to view the damage. My skirt was dip-dyed by muddy sewage and I clomped along the broken side walk in oversized rubber boots, my crazy hair tied back in a bandana, and he decided he was going to ask me out on a date.

Four months later we got married under a full moon. It was deep in December and snowing again, the ground cracked and groaned under my feet as I walked out of the chapel as Mrs. Gaylor. The next day we came back to Brandon and I moved from the yellow house up on the hill to the white house in the heart of town. We returned to our jobs Monday morning, the cop and his waitress, and I bought coffee for the regulars at the diner, holding my own sort of wedding reception with any one who cared to be a part of it. It was perfect.

We brought our first baby home to Brandon in the middle of a blistering heat wave and received our parental ‘baptism by fire’ within the walls of our cozy apartment. Our little bear has learned to love this town as much as I have, enjoying leisurely strolls downtown on Sunday afternoons, wandering in and out of the shops where the people have come to know us by name. I’ve eaten more pastry than can be good for any human being and decorated our home with little things I’ve collected on our walks. I will miss Sunday afternoons. And the people. And the pastry.

I fell in love with a man who had fallen for the Sea long before he met me, and that’s where we are moving this weekend – to the ocean, the coast of Maine.  I am excited about this new chapter in our lives, but it hasn’t quite started yet and I am lingering on the last page of this part of the story. A part that you have been a prominent character in, dear reader! I’ve met some of the kindest, most original and wonderful people here in Brandon who have been so willing to reach into my own life and swirl the waters. I can only hope that I’ll be leaving a generous smudge or two here and there when I leave.

I’m generally pretty good at goodbyes, but this one is stumping me. Perhaps I’d better just say thank you and leave it at that. Thank you for coming in and teasing me at the hardware store, for tipping me generously when I was your waitress. Thank you for remembering my name and drinking coffee at my impromptu wedding reception. Thank you for waving at us when we walk down town and for stopping me and telling me that you enjoyed my last column. Brandon – you’ve been great and will not be forgotten. I am honored to be have been a part of your story even for a little while. Take care!

not the captain’s salmon patties

I remember the summer they opened a Captain D’s in the parking lot of the local home improvement mega-store.

For those of you unfamiliar with Captain D’s, well then, thankfully, you have been spared thus far. Captain D’s is, was or posed as a fast food seafood restaurant chain. Yes, you read that right – a fast food seafood restaurant. Chain. In the parking lot of a home improvement store. In Northwest Ohio.  Yum.

Construction on the place continued through the Spring and early Summer and we speculated and talked and wondered and doubted and finally decided that we would scrape together some money and go there when it opened. It was such a strange sight, a small building decorated like a seaside cabin complete with buoys and fake lobster traps, wooden posts falsely aged to look like old piers tethered around the parking lot and to complete the mood a large, plaster figure dressed like the man on the fish stick box waited to greet guests at the door. It fit in perfectly with the corn fields and Tractor Supply Store across the street! I remember feeling all tingly inside at having our own small piece of the coast right there in Defiance, Ohio.

It took us some weeks, perhaps even months before we could afford to go there but we finally did. It was seafood designed to at once please the natives and mask an undeniable lack of freshness – everything was thickly battered and deep fried. Everything. “Do you want hush puppies with that?”

Oh, hush puppies. Delicious little balls of salty, greasy, corny goodness and by far our favorite part of the seafood meal. I don’t remember much about eating the food, but I do remember that we were violently ill for the next 48 hours. My brothers swore off seafood for life (a bad hush puppy will do that to a fellow) and I still cringe inwardly when I hear the words “hush” and “puppy” in the same sentence. “Crab fritter” and “popcorn oysters” do the same thing. Lesson learned.

The recipe I’m sharing this week is for Salmon Patties, a sort of peace offering to my memories of Captain D’s. My mom makes these and even my brothers eat them, if that tells you anything. They are everything they should be; flavorful, light and terribly easy to throw together. The fish is not masked with a lot of fancy ingredients or pasty batter, nor is it flaunted and overbearing, it just IS, and it’s great.

Salmon Patties

1 can pink Alaskan salmon

1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp dried parsley

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

2 eggs lightly beaten

4 Tblsp oil or lard for frying

Empty your can of salmon into a mixing bowl. If you want, remove the bones. This isn’t a necessary step, but I know some people who are a little unnerved at the thought of eating fish bones. Break up the fish with a fork before adding your bread crumbs, salt, pepper, parsley, garlic powder and eggs. If you wanted, you could throw in a little minced onion or celery, but I like mine Pure. Mix everything together and then heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the oil and scoop some of the salmon mix into the skillet. I use a large spoon and ‘shape’ them into patties in the pan. You will probably have to cook them up in two or three batches, but it will be worth it. Let them cook on even heat for 6 minutes or so, until they’ve gotten a nice, brown crust then flip them over and let them cook a few minutes more. Once the flip side has a nice crust you are ready to fish them out and serve them with tartar sauce, cocktail sauce or even – dare I say – hush puppies! Enjoy!

 

sourdough: take 2

I made a loverly  loaf of ‘sourdough’ bread, and by the way it disappeared I assume it tasted decently  – but it wasn’t sour enough to suit me.

I need the tang. I need it.

So, I’m trying again, this time working with the process and recipe that Stephanie at A Modern Christian Woman  followed when she made sourdough. Hers was actually *sour*. I like it. I have great expectations.

And get this, one of her readers actually named her starter and keeps track of each one as if they were part of a family tree (“…my starter now is Betty, she came from Bob, my last starter…”)

Am I the only one that thinks this is *THE* party to join?

Here’s the question that weighs on my mind – what should I name *our* starter?

*Spider

*Smitty

*Sourly

It has to be something fun to say in public. I want to be able to be in line at the grocery store and say, “I wish this line would hurry up – I have to go home and feed —!”

Any suggestions? Throw them in – I am in desperate need, I can’t have a nameless starter living on the counter, now can I?

Adios-

Andi

things to do with my child-eating hair

I just found out that what has been done to my hair is called a ‘bob’.

I was a little worried it was too boyish. Even the style name is reminiscent of a man, or maybe a boy in the thirties. I saw a movie once about a British family living in London during WWII who had a little boy with the exact same hair cut as me- I am going to call it “The Toby” and insist that I had it styled *on purpose* to honor his memory. Or something.

It’s March, as we all know, the last month of winter. Usually by this time of year, my hair is long, tangled, dried up, frizzed out of its mind and appears frightening to the general populous. Time for a hair cut, or as I call it, a shearing. My mama usually does this after she has shorn the boys, she pulls out her sharp scissors and takes an inch or two off my locks; the dry, shattered ends falls away and I am left with hair that no longer hates itself. It untangles, curls up nicely and I am ready for warm weather.

“Hey babe, you want to cut my hair?” I asked my husband the other day.

“What? You want me to cut your hair?” He seemed immediately intrigued- and a little offset.

“Yeah, I need it trimmed up. It’s not hard, it’s curly and you can’t really mess it up, just take a little off the ends all around and we’ll be set.”

So we set to it. We had to try a couple pairs of scissors before we found ones that weren’t going to just separate the strands by friction, but then we were off, and my husband very nervously snipped away at my hair.

Curly or not, messy or not, child-eating or not, it’s hard to cut hair and get it even, especially when you’ve never done it before, but my boy bravely went about the task and sooner than later, I had short hair. Rather short hair. Bob hair.

“I think you’re adorable.” He said, “But we need to go to a barber tomorrow so they can *fix* it.”

Fix it. He did all the hard work, taking a good five inches off all around, not it was time for the professionals to come in and tie up the loose ends and trim up the long ones.

Enter Mark. Hair stylist for over 15 who saw my newly shorn ‘do’ and said, “Aha. Your husband cut your hair? How long have you been married? You’re a curly girl, eh? You like your curly hair?” He began to fuss with it, pull it, mess it up, examining it like I’ve seen my mom do with expensive fabric, rubbing it between her fingers and assessing it’s content and whether or not it will hold in the wash. He looked at it through the glasses that were riding low on his nose, then over the glasses, then from the side. “We love curly hair here…” he continued and spun me around so that I was facing myself in the mirror that covered the back wall of the salon. “.. what are you looking for exactly?”  I looked hard, and had the strangest urge to say, very seriously, “Can you make me look just like Audrey Hepburn?” Scratch that.

“Something even. I don’t really know. It’s been so long since it was any style at all, I have no idea what would look good- it’s up to you.” I smiled confidently in the mirror at him, Mark began to glisten.

“Ok then.” He hemmed and hawed and pulled and fussed and then said, “I know what we’ll do with you.” After washing my hair and combing it all out, he unveiled a pair of scissors that would have made ours blush (I’m glad they weren’t there to see it) and began to snip away.

And snip. And comb. And snip. And pull. And snip. We eavesdropped on the lady sitting in a different part of the room, talking about the Oscars, going through each of the nominees and systematically describing their hair, dress and personality.

Finally, Mark stepped back and took the large black apron that had covered me. He smiled triumphantly.

I now have Very Short, Very Curly, Very Adorable hair. I almost, *almost* don’t feel like I can pull it off to tell the truth, and I confess that I spent some time tonight looking up short, curly hair styles to get some ideas of how to keep it looking ‘adorable’ and not ‘hysterical’.

My child-eating hair is no more. It looks more like puppy fur than anything, and that’s not very terrifying, about two inches long in the back, ridiculously curly, edging down to a longer length in front that reaches my chin, also rather enthusiastically curled.

I look cute. Oh my.

Chunky, Rustic, Wool Mug Sweater

Good for those dreary, rainy days that need the comfort and warmth of a good mug of tea (or coffee). I love tea, I love sweaters – and I love the idea of a sweater for my mug!
I make these mug sweaters from a handspun, bulky weight, wool yarn that was processed minimally and still retains it’s natural color with a bit of plant material flecked in here and there! Super rustic, super cozy, and whimsical enough to make them a pleasantry worth having.
Each mug sweater is hand knit by me using this super simple cabled and seed stitch design. Roughly 9-10 inches long with a loop on one end and one of my gorgeous antique-inspired buttons on the other. Simply button up your favorite mug and you’re ready to sit back and read a good book or listen to the rain….. Oh, sweet contentment!

New Site!

Welcome to the new site for Washboard Storms.

Thank you for stopping by, and I appreciate your patience as I try to get everything up and running once again!

Please come again soon and see what we’re up to..

Sincerely,

Ann

“The Spider Spinster”