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Always Try To Be Modest, And Be Proud Of It!

Story ID:557
Written by:Kathe M. Campbell (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family History
Location:Butte Montana USA
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Always Try To Be Modest, And Be Proud Of It!

Always Try To Be Modest, And Be Proud Of It!

Always Try To Be Modest, And Be Proud Of It!

Always Try To Be Modest, And Be Proud Of It!


by Kathe Campbell

There's no mistaking meal time when the big triangle dinner bell echoes it's piercing clangs across our mountain ranch. My culinary efforts come naturally in the form of just plain meat, n' taters, n' gravy cookin'. Often enhanced with everybody's favorite sides, of course. It's been my trademark over decades of dinners and suppers, often with slicked down, famished grandkids rushing the grace. Better they recall family custom, than not at all, for my days are waning and I mustn't be a cranky old granny.

I adore Christmas, right next to Halloween. Maybe because they are the two holidays that bring such anticipation and joy to my eleven grands and three greats. The stories and plays, rituals and costumes, familiar sounds and glorious decor, plus sweets and gift wonders. These treasures are the stuff of us all, year after year, as they bring on this grandmother's itch to cook and bake.

Folks are often tossed out of my kitchen early on Christmas Day. They are much better served by seeing to traditional eggnog and hors d'Oeuvres for this burgeoning brood. My obsessive-compulsive disorder lets me baste a bird, cook spuds and a couple veggie dishes. I unmold cranberry and other salads onto servers to stay cool on the deck rail, lest that pesky squirrel. Then I warily transport rows of pumpkin and pecan pies atop the fridge, lest a kitty or two. At last, the event I wait for all day is imminent. The gravy!

My fame flourishes in near burnt turkey drippings in the bottom of a heavy roaster. And if they aren't near burnt to perfection, I'll singe them just slightly before enhancing them with special pinches of heaven. Giving away the family secret to overflowing gravy boats is foolhardy, other than revealing the use of a good big whisk. ‘Tis an absolute must for that sm-o-o-th velvety richness, the stuff perfectly mashed Idaho russets were born for. Voila!

And so it goes from year to year, the distaff side learning the secrets so splendidly. Who could imagine my euntrepeneaurish ritual would end up only a cherished legacy, barely before my antiquity?

But gravy was certainly the last thought on my mind the day the unthinkable happened, a brutal accident in which I lost my right arm. 'Twas more like how I'd be able to perform anything left-handed at 63. The devastation and the aftermath launched me back in time to devour life's mundane chores. Inventing sedulous ways to put on a bra, buttering bread without it shredding, watching the brownie bowl catapulting across the kitchen floor, haltering the critters, and folding clothes with my teeth. It was a brilliant start that first year, in-between a few 'woe is me' tears.

Weeks passed and my precious old lefty was being worked to death. It was nearly time for my first prosthesis fitting, yet another month away. A dear neighbor and nurse noted my excruciating left hand and wrist swelling badly after the simplest chores. She knew what I fearfully suspected. Rheumatoid arthritis! Well now, wasn't that just what I longed to hear? My feminine frame would be downing prednisone that turns ones carcass into a bulging mass.

I muddled through the next months learning to use a prosthesis, a farm and ranch hook that every man in sight ran from. There became very little I didn't teach myself to do. Waging war with the blues finally left me blissfully embarking on the autumn of my days with positive new missions. How silly of me to have been such a pitiful wretch during those first pathetic months.

With the holidays nearing, I felt pangs of gravy obsession creeping into my hankerings once again. I quickly volunteered, over much objection as to my readiness to tackle the bird and innards. Insisting that all side dishes and desserts were on them, the family gave in to my unrelenting gravy mania. I happily agreed.

Another glorious Christmas day, and the oft-baste bird glowed in it's beauteous brown glaze. Time to transfer the beast and set the big roaster atop the stove while waiting for a rolling boil. Brimming with cherished secrets and hot giblets, I gave the blender a few extra shots. I gathered just the right amount of seasonings close, then sneaked a sip of chardonnay for left-handed whisking courage. Not from fright, but maybe a few jitters. Lest the pan begin it's high heat hoedown, I quickly whisked up the scorched bits and pieces with one more swig of self confidence. Ahh, the aroma of thickening and burnished broth permeated the entire house. Med-low, and time for a few more smidgeons of this and that to taste.

Tribal oohs and aahs sent shivers down my spine, and well deserved they were. My taste buds told me I had done it once again. I had stimulated palates, but best of all, I was back amongst my angels I so adored. Those who had turned my new imperfections loose to prove that I can still do it. They won't be keeping this old gal down on the farm on Christmas day without her gravy ladle.