Recipes for Love

Ever holiday I find myself seated at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee, sifting through a drawer of recipes. The search is as much for family recipes as it is for memories. It doesn’t take long before I find them both.

Before my Mom and Aunties passed they gifted me a few of their kitchen secrets and well-used kitchen items. There’s Busha’s (Grandma’s) hand-forged, three pronged fork. The stubby handle fits perfectly in the palm of a hand when cutting in shortening. Busha cooked on a woodstove. Any meal was a laborious monumental task. I don’t think the stove was ever cold to the touch.

I treasure Mom’s solid wood rolling pin and flour sack towels. Mom always rolled out her dough on a well floured flour sack. Thin from two generations of washings, I handle them with extreme care and use them exclusively for rolling out dough. To find one of Mom’s recipes with actual conventional measurement is not the norm. Her measurements were by feel or taste. It’s probably why Mom would call me up to come over and “watch” her make something. She would often tell me, “I’m not going to live forever. If you want to learn how to make this keep watching.” I’m glad I did so her love can nourish the next generation.

There’s Auntie Anna’s substantially cracked and chipped blue speckled enamelware pan. It must have been a favorite based on its condition. I’m so happy she held on to it and passed it on to me. Believe it or not nothing ever sticks to that pan! Auntie Anna’s cooking instructions were loud, clear and concise. Her stern direction carried over from her many years running the kitchen for the local church’s annual picnic.

Then there’s Auntie Rosie’s titanic sized cast iron frying pan. In her later years, arthritis prevented her from lifting the heavy weight. The pan than became a permanent fixture on her stove-top. Cleanup was a wipe or two with a paper towel. Still is.

I can’t forget Auntie Vickey’s delectable dessert recipes. The handwritten recipes have yellowed with age. Torn edges of the fragile paper taped together several times. The tape too has yellowed. A busy farmer’s wife, Auntie Vickey’s countertops and kitchen table held much of the overflow from her cupboards. She could make a meal fit for king in minutes!

If you haven’t guessed, I am descended from a long line of amazing Polish women that knew their way around a kitchen. Ever since I’ve been old enough to hold a  wooden spoon in my hand, they pressed me into service at some task that was age appropriate. Any gathering of the family cooks ended with a meal. Crumbs on the table were never casually wiped to the floor. Licked fingers firmly pressed the bits against the tabletop. The finger with moist crumbs attached was promptly licked clean. Ever last crumb of life’s deliciousness was savored.

The strong Polish women in my life grew up in a generation that didn’t say, “I love you,” out loud very often, if ever. Words of love may have not been shared but what they did share was the recipe’s to taste it. What else could be created in the heart of the home—the kitchen—but love?

MrsbusdriverladyAngie

Every year the school year begins with a new crop of little ones on my school bus—4Ker’s. They are four-year-old kindergartners filled with fear, excitement and every emotion in between. We are into the second week of school here in Wisconsin. I am beginning to see their individual personality’s blossom. There is nothing like a new clutch of four-year-olds to teach the virtues of a good sense of humor.

Usually I tell the little ones to call me, Ms. Angie or Angie. This year I have a sweet little 4K boy that insists on addressing me as, MrsbusdriverladyAngie. He is bursting with questions about the in’s and out’s of riding on a school bus. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to hear them because our conversations go something like this…

4K Boy: “Mrsbus…..driver…”

Me: “Yes?”

4K Boy: “Mrsbusdriver…”

Me: “Yes?”

4K Boy: “Mrsbusdriverlady?”

Me: “What do you need Hun?”

4K Boy: “I forgot your name.”

Me: “Angie”

4K Boy: “MrsbusdriverladyAngie.”

Me: “Yes?”

4K Boy: “I forgot my question?”

Repeat conversation every 5-10 minutes until you reach the school.

I thought he would tire of the long winded introduction by now but he shows no signs of shortening the preface to my name. He is a bright colored blossom!  It is with great honor and dignity that I have decided to accept the title of MrsbusdriverladyAngie bestowed upon me by a gusty four-year-old. Life is so much easier with a good sense of humor. When life tickles you don’t hold back the laugh.

“A sense of humor is just common sense dancing.” ~ William James

Strange Love

I’m subbing this week for a 4-year old kindergarten driver while he visits his son out of state. I drove a 4-K route for several years but gave it up last year. My full life overflowed and priorities got shifted. I do love substituting though! Why wouldn’t I? Their sweet wisdom gave me enough material for a whole chapter in my book! Little souls possess a superpower to simplify wisdom.

The teacher has been consistent in her strong suggestion to the little ones to make good choices and behave on the bus while the regular driver is absent. I guess they figured the best possible way to insure staying in good graces with the teacher was to compliment me as she observed them loading on the bus. And compliment me they did! As they filed on I got complimented on every possible body feature and item of clothing I had on. Not a single flaw from the grey hair on my head to my unpolished toenails.

“Ms. Angie, I really like your earrings”. They were simple silver hoops.

“Ms. Angie, I really really like your hair”. My hair was styled by the wind rushing through an open window. Most of it no longer contained in a ponytail.

“Ms. Angie, I really really really like your shoes”. I’m pretty sure they can’t see my feet.

Running out of complimentary options the tail end of the line started to say, Ms. Angie, I love you. Aw, the crème de la crème of compliments! Those already seated had to tell me that they loved me too. Tiny voices in a wild stampede shouted out,  “I love you!” until the teacher reined them in.

Some might think the “love” was meaningless coming from children I hardly knew but the gesture touched my heart. The meaning is in the power of the super feeling to lift spirits up, up and away—together. Breaking through the barriers of the mind. I guess you could say love is our superpower. Maybe we just don’t fully understand the capabilities of love connection power. Even a stranger. Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! Love connects us for infinity and beyond.

Feel love. Love the feeling. It’s hate’s kryptonite.

I’m Listening

Child #1: “You’re not supposed to do that!”

Child #2: “I’m not listening to you!”

Child #1: “Yes you do! I’m 5 years old!”

Child#2: “I don’t have to listen to you!” (Child #2 is 4 years old)

Child #1: “Actually…..I’m 5 ½ years old.”

Child #2: “I’m not listening to a 5 ½ year old! Bus driver, how old are you?”

Me: “I’m 52. Actually…I’m 52 ½ years old.”

Child #2: “I only listen to old people like the bus driver. Humph.”

The conversation reminded me of the times I yearned to be old enough for someone, below or above my age, to listen to me.

Now that time has passed and my childhood is far and away, I’ve learned to choose wisely which voices I allow to influence my decisions. What matters most are not the voices I listen to but the one voice I try to silence. That voice, which is so easily quieted, is the keeper of our deepest knowing about ourselves. Our intuition. Whenever we say, “I don’t know or I can’t,” we are communicating to our higher self in no uncertain terms, “I’m not listening to you!” There is nobody telling you  to listen except yourself. We’ve all felt our intuition’s silent shouts, “Yes you do!”  echoing in our gut at one time or another.

Experience (age) has a way of gaining this understanding. If we could all simply take a breath and feel what we are feeling before tying up our knowing in a “not”, there would be no stopping any of us from reaching the unlimited potential untangled in an I do know or I can! Listen to your gut and you hear your heart.

Do make it an imposition to listen to your intuition.

Tale of a Tattler

I’m a school bus driver. Our district has a “no eating “rule on the buses. Mostly, to protect those children with food allergies from a medical emergency while they are in transit. It also helps deters bees and wasps from coming onto the bus looking for sweet treats in the garbage.

On this particular day, a kindergartner tattled on a friend for eating candy on the bus. The candy was a large lollipop. I gently asked the little boy to either throw it away or put back in the wrapper for later. School buses now-a-days have high backed seats. You can’t see anything that is going on in the seats which makes enforcing the “no eating” policy extremely difficult. I’ve adapted a strategy of intentional listening (it sounds better than eavesdropping) on conversations that light up my misbehavior radar.

I can hear a quiet exchange of indiscernible words between the tattled on and the tattler. Within a few seconds, the tattler had another tale to tell, “He’s still eating his candy, Bus Driver!” I now resort to pleading. “Please, put the candy away. You know eating isn’t allowed on the bus”.

That’s when I hear the rule breaker speak up. In a loud, deliberate voice directed at the tattler he says, “For the last time, I’m not eating. I’m LICKING!”

I can’t help but bust into a big smile. Good one! I’m admiring his manipulation skills with a limited vocabulary while at the same time leaving the tattler tongue tied. Then the pure innocents of the situation revealed a profound truth.

We all know we should talk less and listen more. This experience taught me what we should be listening for—meaning. The meaning given to words is defined by the speaker. If we are not giving our complete attention to listening, talking is meaningless.