Grandma’s stash of goodies

My grandmother Hibbard kept a stash of Hershey candy bars in her dresser drawer. I found the rich brown wrappers that she kept there in case she had a diabetic blood-sugar dip. I only remember her sharing them with me one time. I was in first grade and living with her because my mother had gone to the hospital with a serious infection. For the duration of my mother’s illness, my older brother and I stayed with Grandma Hibbard. She packed my lunch every day. One day, I opened my metal lunch box to discover a huge chocolate Hershey bar resting on top of my sandwich.  Grandma had raided her hidden stash just for me.

Grandparents have their stashes for personal use and sharing. Grandma Waight kept a stash of oatmeal cookies inside a silver roll server with a lid. Most Sunday nights we visited and watched Lassie. (My parents chose to not own a television.) One at a time, we five children slipped quietly into the kitchen, lifted the lid on the metal dish and snagged a cookie. No matter how carefully we put the lid back, it dinged. “Someone just took a cookie,” Grandma often commented.

No noisy cookie container resides on the counter at my house. During the first years of grandchildren I made double batches of three or four kinds of cookies and left platters of cookies on the counter. I enjoyed any remaining after the grandkids left.

Evidently, years have drained my energy. A couple days before my granddaughters’ recent visit, I made one batch of peanut butter cookies. Then just minutes before they arrived, I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

Katie didn’t care how many batches I made, she just wanted to know, “Can I have a cookie?”

“Yes, help yourself. They are cooling on the counter.”

She returned holding a half eaten cookie and big smile between chocolate smears on each cheek. By the time she left, only the peanut butter cookies remained in my stash to fulfil my husband’s frequent dinner question, “do you have a cookie?”

Most of the time the grandparents’ homes are ready for tiny visitors, but occasionally curious grandchildren open a forbidden door or get into mischief. I blush to confess that describes my child who saw no problem with opening the upright freezer door at a grandparent’s home and perused the contents without permission. Frozen blueberries looked like a delicious treat to eat while laying on the floor reading a book. That totally shocked her grandmother. Grandma had never had a child do that before.

Then there was the stash of loose change which one grandmother kept in an open dish until a visiting toddler sampled the pennies like M&Ms. Immediately, that stash went into an inaccessible hiding spot.

Our own curious (nosey) grandchildren have discovered future gifts that way. To channel their energy, I keep a stash of various entertainment options. During her recent visit, Caroline found the Halloween decoration kit I bought several months ago thinking some child would find it. She asked, “Can I put this together?”


Daisy came over to help.

“I want to do it myself,” Caroline insisted until the parts and pieces did not cooperate. She shoved aside the foam gate, “It won’t work.” Only then could Daisy and Katie help. I threaded foam pieces to hang. Daisy helped with stickers and Grandpa found the glue. Katie arranged stickers on the fence. I tried positioning it, “Hmm, I think you need to get some pins to make it stay.” They all knew where to find the pins from having explored my stash of fabric and notions.

This grandma keeps stashes of toys, snacks and craft supplies handy – to entertain and feed any visiting grandchildren.

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Eat the ice cream

  My husband practices that old saw “Waste not, want not,” quite religiously with ice cream. 

           After his mother was widowed, she never kept ice cream in the freezer. Thrusting her leg forward, she would declare, “Look how my ankles have swollen after I ate ice cream last night!”

    It was obviously our fault. We had come in for a weekend visit with a bag of kid-friendly groceries including ice cream. Before we left, we ate most of the food. Only a bit of ice cream remained. My husband finished it off as a late night snack. He did not want to leave any to spoil in his mother’s freezer because she obviously did not want anymore; it made her ankles swell. She opened the freezer to prepare breakfast before we left and exclaimed, “where’s the ice cream? I wanted to eat some.”

    A stunned silence followed. “I ate it,” my husband admitted. After that, we left ice cream for her instead of finishing off the last few bites.

    We did not leave even a few bites of ice cream, though, after each of our stops at the modest restaurant we frequented on 167-S. My husband found “Motts” in Sheridan years ago; the menu included banana splits made with four-inch high mounds of ice cream, each doused with chocolate, strawberry, pineapple or caramel sauce, topped with nuts and a cherry. 

    My children’s benevolent father decided each of the children needed a banana split. 

    “Wow!” they said and began eating. None of them finished their split. My husband did it for them.  

    So the minute we saw an ice cream stand in Hot Springs last week, I knew we would stop. As he studied the board, a customer walked over to the trash and tossed away an ice cream cone. “Did you see that?” he exclaimed in a shocked voice.. 

    Another customer waddled past carrying a super high, thick cone swirled with a trim of lime green. 

    “What is that green?” he asked.

    “It’s flavoring they add to the outside.”

    “Looks good. What do you want?” he asked me, barely disguising the fact that he was already licking his lips.

    “Hmm, I was considering a dipped cone, but the homemade nutty buddy sounds good.” I weighed the options and decided on fewer calories and lower costs, “A dipped cone.”

    He brought back a tall cone with raspberry swirled around the edge. “Here, this is for both of us.” I sampled as much as I wanted before he reappeared with a wad of napkins surrounding a huge dipped cone and a monster waffle cone with ice cream doused with chocolate and peanuts. 

    We had enough ice cream for four or five people! All three cones began oozing ice cream. I bit into the top of the dipped cone, licked the side and considered how to attack the nutty buddy in my other hand.

    Hubby slid in and reached to start the car. “Oh, no! We are not driving anywhere with this much ice cream. Just sit there and eat.”

    He industriously attacked his raspberry swirl. 

    I alternated bites of chocolate saturated nuts with plain chocolate and ice cream. It has been years since I have eaten so much ice cream. I offered the nutty buddy to my “buddy.” It was an ice cream overload. 

    “I think I know why that person threw away their ice cream cone,” I admitted. 

    Ice cream dripped down my hands. My husband pulled sticky napkins off cones and kept on eating. The sticky mess threatened to ruin our drive home until I remembered our thermos of water. I unscrewed the lid, opened my door, leaned out and poured water over my hands.

    He did the same, collected the soggy napkins and carried them to the trash can. No ice cream cones hit the trash. When I reached my fill, he kept on eating saying, “I should not have ordered the dipped cone. That really was too much.”

    It was, and we enjoyed every bite without wasting a bit.

Joan Hershberger

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Age will tell

“Watching the sepuagenarion presidential candidates’ has me thinking about age. In my own home I see how the mind looses some sharpness with age. For instance we recently acquired another dollhouse. It needed minor repairs. My Energizer Bunny husband has been doing house repairs all his life. In short order, he cleaned, reglued and stablized the dollhouse. He left it on the dining room table and asked me, “Where are you going to keep it?”
“Hmm, I will think about it.” I probably won’t keep it so I set it on top of the nearby sewing machine cabinet. I also have too many sewing machines that need new homes. However, I know that I will buy another machine or house if the right one comes along.

Hubby walked in and asked, “What did you do with the doll house?”

I just looked at him. It was right there. “I think I will let you find it.”

A few minutes later he said, “Oh, it’s on the sewing machine.”


We have days like that around here. This morning, hubby woke up complaining about being stiff.

“Do you need a pain pill?”

“I just need to move around and loosen up.”

He walked around pulling on work clothes to clean up the tree trash from the hurricane. He followed me to the laundry room where I sorted clothes to wash.

“Have you seen my belt? Do you know where it is?

Usually that is a logical question to ask me. If he hangs it on the door handle in my bathroom, I may toss it into the hamper or deep into his side of the closet. Sometimes I hang it on one of his hooks.

“No, I don’t know where it is….this time.”

He walked away mumbling about looking for the belt in the bedroom and his bathroom. And, yes, since the kids left we have his and her bathrooms – except when he wants to soak in a really deep tub, then he comes to my bathroom and leaves his belt hanging on the cabinet handle. His bathroom has a wonderful walk in, fully tiled shower that he installed a few years ago. His luxurious shower fails to satisfy when he wants to soak in a deep tub after a day of hard work. Recently he helped my son move into his new house with a wading pool of a tub in one bathroom. At the end of the day of moving boxes, hubby tried that tub. “I could not even get my belly covered. I might need to lose some weight.” he acknowledged

That belly is the reason he needed the belt this morning which he still did not have when he returned to the laundry room, “I still cannot find my belt.” Finally, he resigned himself to hitching up his pants all day. Sighing, he hooked his thumbs on his blue jeans to pull them up stopped, “I’m wearing the belt.”

We looked at each other and laughed,

“And how old are you?” I teased. He just smiled and left to do yard work.

Most days he could give a couple presidential candidates, who are only a couple years younger than him, a run for their money in mental acuity. But even the Energizer Bunny will attest that no matter how many times folks insist, “60 is the new 40!” it isn’t.

Which is why I say, “The next time we have a presidential election, how about finding candidates closer to our children’s ages? They can see the dollhouse right in front of them and know when they are wearing a belt.”

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Cane can and can’t

ou know those old dance routines with the fancy foot work as dancers swing canes from one side to the other? The dancers engage in fast, fancy foot-shuffling around the cane as if it were a small, steady table. These dances look so smooth and easy that surely anyone could do, right?

Not with my cane, I can’t. No smooth moves with my cane.
I trip over the thing just walking down the hallway from the bedroom to the kitchen. I wake up feeling as spry as Fred Astaire until my cane-side foot stubs a toe hard against that metal rod. As pain surges up my leg, a lot of angry impulses breathe in and out of me.  I don’t dare act on any of them lest I trip again.

The medical field labels canes as tools to help folks like me who wake up thinking, “Hey, I think I will just stroll down the hall to the kitchen for breakfast.” I stretch, slide my legs over the side of the bed, stand and crumble back to the bed.

“No I am not strolling today. Not without a death grip on my cane, and not until I get some oil on these ‘Tin Woodman’ joints.”

At least in the movie the Tin Woodman could ask Dorothy to magically heal him with a liberal application from his oil can. Not me. I get a death grip on the cane and begin a serious conversation with my stiff hip. “Just one step. Just one. Believe me, it will get better. I promise.”

The cane assists me by turning my wobble-hobble into a Hop-Along-Cassidy routine to the lounge chair where I lay the cane on the floor. Unfortunately, a cane on the floor or leaning against the wall signals play time to visiting grandchildren who reach a sneaky hand forward to quietly lift the cane. Only when the grandchildren use my cane does it swing across the room in true Free Astaire style.

The grandchildren can’t resist grabbing the cane because it pulls apart and folds into three sections. The youngest children snap the pieces apart and pop them together over and over again. The internal bungee cord holds all the pieces together.

Really, I don’t mind their playing with the cane, unless I need the cane and they abandoned it in another room. Then, I’m up the creek without a cane to paddle.

Canes extend my reach so I can tap that sneaky kid on the head, “My cane, leave it alone.” Or with the cane, I can snag the fuzzy blanket back from the sneaky child or slip a spare colored pencil from their collection on the coffee table.

Canes silently announce “I need help.” Once I hesitated at the top of a couple of deep steps studying the descent without a handrail. The cane indicated, “This not-so-little-old-lady needs help!” A kind gentleman held out his hand to help me descend. Other times, the cane opened doors, carried a package, and earned me generous cautions, “Now be careful, watch your step.” No one ever said that when I hurried through the heavy doors without a cane and a load of packages.

Of course, people notice, so the cane is a conversation stimulator. Some overtly stare,  a few dare, to ask, “What happened?” I just say, “You know how Fred Astaire floated across the stage dancing with a cane? Well, I didn’t float, I flopped. I won’t try that again.”

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no summer plans until…

“How do we get roped into these things?” my husband asked facetiously.

What things?

Things like taking care of grandchildren for a day or two weeks this summer.

It sort of began when I volunteered to go to Little Rock and supervise grandchildren so my daughter could focus on a weekly business meeting. Looking ahead I saw 13 weeks of nothing else much to do except one short week visit from granddaughter Brittany and her family.

I supervised during one business meeting. Then my son from St. Louis called, “Can the kids come to your house while we prepare our house to sell? It might be for a week or two.”


It was two weeks including a week of Cousin Camp with the Little Rock cousins.

For the rest of the summer we only had that short week visit from Brittany and Chris’ family. We made one more trip to Little Rock to supervise grandchildren during a business meeting.

Meanwhile hubby kept asking, “What are we going to do for four days when Brittany and her boys come to visit?” I did not see a problem. We have entertained per-schoolers and elementary-aged children before. His question did get me thinking though, so we called her, “Do you want to come to our house specifically or would you like to meet us in Branson rather than drive the extra hundreds of miles to our house?” we asked.

“We want to spend time with you and Branson is fine,” she said.

A couple days later, I asked, “What about asking Nate, if he wants to go from St. Louis to Branson?”

Initially Nate said, “We have other plans.” only to call in couple days later and say, “Our plans got changed, so we would be glad to vacation with you.”

After that an empty August with a couple days covering business meetings remained for these retirees’ summer – until the phone rang, “Do you have enough timeshare points that I can use to go to Fairfield Bay when my friend’s family goes?” my daughter asked. “More than enough,” I assured her. “And would you mind if we rented another unit and visited you up there?” I asked in return.

We had three days to prepare for that weekend. En-route, my cell phone dinged, “Would you be able to have the boys visit for a week or two while we finish closing on the houses?” Joy, Nate’s wife, asked.

“Sure. When?” I texted.

She suggested meeting and getting the boys about the time we returned from Fairfield Bay. We worked out the details between visits with my daughter and her friends. And Sharon asked, “Can the girls stay Sunday night with you? I need to be home early Sunday morning.”

“Sure, we have a large unit with extra beds. Eli is already planning to stay, so no problem.”

I hung up. That’s when my husband asked me, “How do we get roped into these things?”

“Because they live so far away and we take every opportunity we can to be with the grandchildren,” I said.

So, as I write this, we are heading south to Little Rock with four grandchildren safety belted into place. When we get to Little Rock we will deliver three girls and a boy to their home and will collect two boys to take to our house. We still don’t know how long they will visit, but does that really matter? We may be old. We may need a nap when they don’t. Still, we hope to always be ready to make room for one more visit whenever the phone rings.

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Toys to share

I like to share my sturdy, vintage Fisher-Price and Playskool toys with grandchildren. The unfinished wooden dollhouse stays home. Daisy likes the house so much that she bought it a miniature buffet for when she comes to play.

No dolls were needed for a recent visit with five grandsons and one nearly teenage granddaughter. I filled a tote with a variety of toys to share with twin two-year-old great-grandsons. I also took books for all ages, the board game ‘Clue’ and a tub of Legos for the guys who recently asked, “Can we take them home?”

“No you have Legos and Grandpa may want to play with these.” I may not want to give all my cool toys away, but we do know how to share our toys, so I brought them along.

The cousins’ parents set up an electronic video game. Legos and toys sat untouched as Titus, Henry and Sam played a few rounds of Clue. Sam, 10, played many rounds of Clue and asked, “Can I take it home?”

I handed him the box.

Trace and Tyler, who turn three this month, quickly found their favorites in the canvas tote. Trace repeatedly picked the wheeled toys. Time and again he brought us the hand sized back-hoe to manipulate. He also took ownership of the remote control for the choo-choo engine. He carried that engine around by its toddler proof antennae to grandpa.

“Push button,” he said and handed grandpa the steering wheel shaped control.

Grandpa pushed. “It needs new batteries.” He found some and said, “Let’s turn it on.”

The engine has two buttons. One initiates a horrendously loud song with toots, whistles and chugs. I clicked that button first and immediately slid it back to the off position. Any time that merry “whoo, whoo” jingle sounded, the nearest adult grabbed the engine muttering, “No way!” and slid the button off. We also slid on the motor button to make the red, yellow and blue engine move in straight lines and circles. Besides that awful song, simple maneuvers are all the train does. That’s quite enough for Trace who spent a lot of time pushing the button.

I heard Trace and Tyler talk about “choo-choo” a few times. A couple times Tyler wanted to play with it. An adult would insist Trace give him a turn. We watched as Tyler pushed the buttons, making the train go forward and in circles before we returned to our conversations. The next time we looked, Trace had the train again and Tyler stood at the toy box pulling out the magnetic building set – chubby plastic red and blue rods with magnets on the ends and yellow balls with iron inside.

He spent hours pushing the pieces together and pulling them apart. He never did figure out why the pieces refused to link when he pressed north pole to north pole. He just kept trying until someone turned the rod in his hand.

The twins played with toys. The big boys played video games until my son asked, “anyone want to play ‘Wing it?'” It’s a game where you get five cards with phrases or nouns and you have to use three to solve a challenge.”

“Sure let’s play it,” we said and spent a couple hours creating silly story solutions to the challenge cards’ impossible situations. For instance, “To get out of the sewer, I would take my 100 spools of thread and knit a cord using my baseball bat and hook it onto the plane flying overhead.” No matter how I tried, I could not find a way to work the ‘pancreas’ card into any solution. All the big folks enjoyed the game and hope he packs it the next time he visits. After all, if Trace has to share, so do we.

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Virtual is not the same as reality

It’s just not the same viewing life electronically. No matter how many proclaim the wonders of the Internet, nothing compares to experience.

Consider the difference of “seeing” the Grand Canyon in an Imax theater and actually going and looking over the precipice at that hole in the ground. I’ve done both. In the Imax theater, the audience catches a passing brush of feeling the depth and expanse of this magnificent canyon. That’s no comparison to touring the park, walking close to the edge of the rim or simply standing there watching the birds riding the wind currents into the canyons as the light plays with the layers of color. No camera can capture its expanse. I clicked a panoramic view from left to far right and failed to capture the plunging depth of the Canyon. A video misses the terror of seeing people play “chicken” with the edge of the Canyon. I went close, but I understood a middle school boy’s terror. He refused to walk anywhere near the edge. You have to be there to get that fear.

All that to say, while I am happy we have online school, business meetings, church and summer camp, it fails to compare. In recent months I watched sermons from the comfort of my lounge chair or on my phone. Anytime I decided I needed a break, I clicked it off and walked away.

I could not do that when I attended a church conference with a couple thousand other people. The internationally famous speaker described being in Korea and discovering a local church gathering in the early hours of the day to pray in a nearby stadium. Then, rather than urge us to pray in like manner, he cut his presentation short and said, “We will use the rest of my time to pray.” All around me I felt and heard people pray quietly, fervently, respectfully. The whole experience moved me more than it would have if I had been watching the recording from my lounge chair while the washing machine chugged in the background and the phone rang with another robo-call.

Many churches this year, including mine, have held online services, Daily Vacation Bible School and even camp via the Internet. The staff spent hours planning, videoing and editing. Good job, but it falls short of Hebrews 10:25 “let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” The Church is the people of the church interacting, not buildings or events.

I love going to camp, having time to talk with others about their experiences in the faith. I enjoy watching the children play together for hours. I relish time to sit for hours on the front porch of the dining hall and not feeling rushed to go home to fix another meal. There is no way I can duplicate the interchange of experiences and information with real people who respond to my questions, comments and facial expressions even as I do theirs. The topics change as we interact without a disembodied outsider deciding what we need to hear and discuss via the internet.

Years ago I watched a child who had had spent years cooped up in front of a television discover nature during his first weekend at camp. He ran, played, and explored from dawn to dusk and attended classes a couple times each day. At one point he walked up to us and declared, “this is heaven.” No way he would have said that if he had spent another day cooped up staring at a screen.

Covid-19 sent us home for a while. We do not need to stay there. It’s time to move beyond the electronic experience.

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A time to move

Every time I turn around this year I am updating some familiy member’s address. Our family simply will not stay put. The urge to move has spread through the family like a virus as infectious as COVID-19.

It began with son #2. For the past 15 years or so he has shared living quarters with parents, brother, nieces, daughters or friends. This spring’s circumstances landed him in a one bedroom apartment all by himself. He called a lot during his initial days of solitary housekeeping. Then he began meeting neighbors, and the phone did not ring.

Son #1’s roots go too deep to consider moving. His three daughters however all sought alternative housing. Their moves kept son #1 busy during his COVID-19 time off from work. He helped prepare their houses to sell, packed and moved one and has two more to go.

In June, Granddaughter #1 lost a rental and needed to move quickly. She and her husband and three children settled on her in-law’s property while they look for something more permanent.

Granddaughter #2 once said, “One and done” and settled into the perfect home. Then twin sons arrived and they began to say “Three and through, We need a different house.” They began spiffing up the place. “Look at these before and after pictures of our house,” she wrote after proudly posting pictures once they finished painting and prepping for potential buyers. It sold shortly after they listed.

Initially they said, “We want to move away.” Then they considered the advantages of living close to the grandparents of their twin pre-schoolers and elementary aged son. They found a house in a nearby neighborhood where they will move in August.

Granddaughter #3 from that family announced her fourth pregnancy and that the time had come to leave their small, starter home an hour away from family. After quarantine at home began, she wrote, “I am not working. I am painting, cleaning and packing.”

“Wears me out just reading about it,” I replied.

I perked up when Son #5 called, “Hey, you said something about having the kids come to your house. Can they come and stay with a couple weeks while we work on getting the house ready to sell?” They have decided they want a larger house in a better school district.

“Certainly! Bring them on down!” I began planning fun activities with the limitations imposed during the COVID-19 closings. His three visited a week. The next week my daughter’s four children joined them for a week of Cousin Camp. Meanwhile, Son #5’s wife packed, cleaned, prepped the house for presentation. The first week it was on the market the realtor called, “you have an offer at the price you asked.”

Last week, my son updated us, “the buyer did a walk through and made a list of things to fix. Sophie was accepted at the school where she interviewed. And we signed a contingency contract for a house in a better school district.”

He sent me a link to the realtor’s virtual tour of the house.“Wow! It looks really nice. Lots of space.” They hope to move in August.

Next week we will see Granddaughter #2 and Son #5 and their families. If moving fever is a virus we need to wear masks to avoid infection. After almost 40 years in the same place, we may be ripe for the fever to move into a smaller house, closer to family. The thought of all the work moving entails should work as a vaccine. From my La-Z-Boy that looks like way too much activity to even consider.

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India during COVID-19

This year it wasn’t snow or icy roads that closed schools, shut down businesses and kept folks at home. No, COVID-19 did all that with a vengeance. Grandchildren stayed home. Some parents went to work, others waited for the unemployment and stimulus checks.

On Sundays we watched the weekly church service from our lounge chairs and visited over Zoom. In the store, we stared at empty shelves once filled with paper products and signs rationing the sale of soup.

It was not the best of times.

It was not the worst of times. Not from my secure corner of retirement with plenty of food in the pantry and a working vehicle.

It was not the worst of times for most folks in America. Definitely not after I read a report from a couple who work in India with Youth with a Mission. They wrote, “When India entered a state of lockdown on March 24 (the largest lockdown in the world) more than 100 million men and women who had migrated from their rural towns and villages to look for work in big cities and slums such as Dharavi were suddenly left jobless.” Since many sleep where they work, they also were suddenly homeless.

“For these millions it was not simply facing an economic crisis but an existential one as they struggle to put food on their tables. These are the people who earn daily wages, work on a contract basis and have no safety net or personal insurance of any kind. They may not succomb to COVID-19, but they will succomb to lack of access to food and health care.”

In India the government lockdown included the trains many workers used to get home. Stranded, sometimes hundreds of miles from home, with no job and no place to stay, many simply began walking.

Images from across India started to emerge of a mass exodus of people walking hundreds of miles under the scorching sun to reach their hometowns. Lack of public transportation (because it was either unaffordable for many or closed due to the pandemic) forced parents to carry their children or tow them behind on carts or even luggage cases. Stories began to circulate of children dying due to exhaustion and starvation and of fatigued migrants falling asleep on railway tracks and being run over by trains. Others died in road accidents and from extreme exhaustion.

The YWAM people sent pictures of food distribution points set up along the main roads or at the bus stops. Yes, America saw lines forming for food distribution. But it was people waiting in cars to insure social distancing, not folks standing in line after a long day of walking.

Social distancing makes sense and seems easy until I read that many of these Indians live in apartment complexes with whole families crammed into one-room apartments. Locally folks express shock and dismay when they are buying groceries and encounter a maskless person who sneezes.

Consider life in Dharavi, India – one of the largest slums in the world. One million folks live within eight-tenths of a square mile. It is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Disease runs rampant in the confined, unsanitary conditions. Social distancing to avoid COVID-19 would be impossible in their already tenuous life.

For millions in India, every day is the worst of all times. Catching just a glimpse of the effect of the lockdown for COVID-19 in India really puts the past months into perspective. It really wasn’t the best of all times for us, but it definitely was not the worst of all times.

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Comfort food in isolation

“I had the strangest dream last night,” my husband said one morning (well actually he says that most mornings). “I dreamed about goulash. That sounds so good.”

“Hmm. I haven’t made that in a long time,” I replied. For some reason I had been thinking about goulash. My mother used to make it often: a cheap, easy, filling meal. I could not remember exactly how to make it.

The Internet yielded several ideas that I combined. I added special seasoning to cooked hamburger and sausage before adding heaps of chopped and sauteed onions, celery, broccoli, green peppers, cooked pasta shells and spaghetti sauce. It was not the way my mom used to prepare it. It was much more complicated. It smelled and tasted fantastic.

We each scarfed it up a large serving, considered seconds and decided we shouldn’t. With mandated social isolation on top of six weeks of home recovery from hip replacement, we had eaten more than our share of comfort food to remind us of happier days. We didn’t need extra servings.

We both liked it so much that I posted on Facebook, “Made goulash for the first time in a while. Tasty supper.”

My darling daughter replied, “I am not a picky eater AT ALL…. but goulash is by far my least favorite dish.”

And my little brother wrote, “I agree.” Humph, and I used to cook supper for him.

Okay so goulash did not make their favorite foods list. Still, it served as my comfort food that day. I define comfort food as, “I don’t care how many calories it has, I’m unhappy and I want this food. I will feel happier if I eat it.”

Evidently during social isolation I have needed comfort food. At least, that’s my explanation for the baking spree in the kitchen. First, I made chocolate cake with vanilla frosting like my mom made. Then, I made a spice cake with penuche frosting, just like Mom made. I cooked brown sugar with butter and milk in a saucepan over heat. I stirred until it thickened then quickly added confectionery sugar and vanilla to create a delightful, caramel fudge frosting. I wanted to eat all the frosting. I controlled myself and smoothed the frosting over the cake. I did make sure I left enough in the bowl to satisfy me. I also swiped a few spoonfuls from around the edge of the cake.

Seeking more comfort, I pulled a couple of pie shells from the chest freezer and decided it was time to use those peeled and frozen apples to make a Dutch apple pie. I enjoyed every bite I didn’t have to share with hubby.

The other crust I reserved for lemon pie. I couldn’t find a lemon pudding mix at the store. So I pulled out the old Betty Crocker cookbook and began measuring sugar, lemon, cornstarch and water to heat in a pan. I stirred, brought the mixture to a boil and poured it in the baked shell. I whipped the egg whites to shiny peaks and baked the meringue to a perfect brown top.

My pride in the perfect pie almost kept me from eating it. It only took one delightful bite to erase that silly notion.

I do like my carbs and desserts. Which probably explains why as a child I needed clothes sized for a chubby girl. Fortunately my baking spree of comfort foods ceased abruptly. Our oven stopped heating in the middle of baking the cornbread I really wanted for supper. About that same time strict social isolation ended. I’m not complaining, any more comfort food and I would have needed chubby old lady clothes.

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