As you read yesterday, I do find joy in the small things that are a daily part of farm life. But there are days where those small things are wrapped up in a completely different package. It is these things I think should be labeled in large red letters stating: WARNING! DISASTER AREA.
Early Saturday morning a friend of ours lost his battle with cancer. Around here, although quite a few people do take food to the family at home, the churches also do a Family Meal after the funeral services. Our friend wasn’t affiliated with any church, but that doesn’t stop these wonderful people. One of the churches stepped up to the plate and offered to host it. However, there was a function going on at their church, so they asked to host it at the Community Center in Hall Summit. We gladly agreed.
Now, on Monday, I had a meeting to attend at the Village, and our afternoon was heavily scheduled. Tuesday I had to work in Shreveport, and got home late. No problem, I figured. In addition to cleaning the Community Center, I volunteered to make hot rolls, macaroni and cheese, a corn casserole and a Lemon Jell-O Cake. As there was really no time Tuesday evening to get started, I figured I had plenty of time Wednesday morning to do everything before I had to be at the Community Center around 1:30 to receive any food that arrived prior to the 2:00 funeral service.
I got up, headed to the Center, got it cleaned and then on to the grocery store to buy the two or three items I needed. On the way to the store, I spoke with Lynn (who was spearheading the meal), and she said she had a couple of people who were bringing bread. I decided to not make rolls, since there would be plenty. Back home, I started pulling from the cabinets to make the cake, and realized that I didn’t have any lemon extract. I quickly scanned the other recipes, and noticed I was one can short of creamed corn for the corn casserole. So I sent the Country Boy back to the store. While waiting, I started the mac and cheese. When the water boiled, I poured in the macaroni, and just as I finished, the phone rang. After I finished with the call, I checked the pot and saw that it still needed a little time. Then the phone rang again. And again. I wasn’t on the phone more than five total minutes, and when I turned around, the macaroni had started to burn, and was way too soggy. I checked my container, and saw that I didn’t have near enough to make another batch, and since I could hear Randy’s truck pulling up, I knew mac and cheese just got scrapped from the menu. Okay, I thought. No problem. There will still be plenty to eat.
I mixed up the cake and put it in the oven, and while waiting for it to bake, I mixed up the corn casserole, cleaned up behind myself, and ate a quick sandwich. By that time, it was getting close to time to get dressed and ready, but the cake was ready. Oh, thank goodness it looked great. With a few quick movements and measurements, I made the powdered sugar and lemon juice drizzle that would finished the cake. With Randy’s help, I got the cake out of the tube pan without breaking and on a plate. Drizzled the frosting. Could smell the delicious aroma and resisted cutting into it right then and there. As I was turning around to wash the bowl, I heard Randy ask, ‘Did you wash the bowl you mixed the frosting in?’ ‘Um, no. It’s still in the sink.’ ‘No. I mean, before you mixed the frosting.’ ‘Um, no. I got it straight out of the dishwasher. And the dishes in there are clean. Why?’ ‘You need to taste this.’ So I stuck my finger in some of the frosting that had pooled around the plate. And gagged. It was like eating a bar of pure soap. Oh, yuck!
We finally figured out that the dishwasher soap we had used has a ‘floral’ scent that stays on the dishes after they are washed. Consequently, any food that is put in them or one them stays and causes the dishes to taste like a floral dish soap. (Needless to say, we now have another brand, and won’t use that one anymore!)
I was down to one dish to take, so I broke my own code of farming ethics – we went to the local grocery store and bought cupcakes – which was about all they had to offer. My first thought was, ‘What???? Hey! I am The Farm Wife! I have a reputation to uphold!” I have a personal code of ethics. In my mind, if I can make it at home, I need to do just that. No short cuts. I preach that. I teach that. I believe it with all my heart. And here I was, taking a short cut to buy something premade from a grocery store. It just didn’t sit well with me. At all. And to top it off, I was more than late, and still had to stop by Alona’s Beauty Shop to get the keys to her house, then go to her house to pick up her contribution and then back to the Shop to give her the keys back, since she had to work and couldn’t attend. Almost half way to the store I started laughing about it all, and decided that the Country Boy is right. It is what it is, and the best thing to do is just deal with it and move on. No need crying over it, because the only thing that will serve is getting you all wet.
Even with my store-bought contribution, the meal went off wonderfully. The girls (Lynn & Tonya – the two organizers) and all the wonderful women at Open Door Fellowship over did themselves with food that was delicious. They showed their true Christian colors by serving a family that most either didn’t know or who didn’t know them well. These are people that stepped up to the plate, gave of their time, money and energy to take care of others, and probably never missed a beat.
Whether your good intentions slide smoothly into place, or explode, leaving them in a pile of soapy ashes, some days, it really is the thought that counts. There will still be enough food. There will still be hearts that share your joy or pain. There will still be a successful day, even if it means having to change your strategy and dishwasher soap in the very near future. And if nothing else good came from it, my chickens did love the pasta that wasn’t burned, and we left the coop listening to them wonder whose birthday it was, since they got cake. The last thing I heard as I left the coop was this:
“Hey, Mrs. Edith! Since you are the oldest, can you tell us? Why don’t humans put icing on their cakes? Don’t they know it always tastes better with icing?”