Tag Archives: Produce

Our House, a Museum?

When my family visited Grandma and Grandpa, no staged historical setup could rival their living museum.

Neither learned to drive. When they left their tiny town — a rarity — they took a Greyhound bus.

Grandpa plowed with a horse named John. Grandma wore sunbonnets while gardening and bringing cows home. The animals obligingly produced creamy milk my grandparents churned, plunging the dasher up-down, up-down. I could barely raise it, but Grandma helped me shape butter in a wooden mold etched with flowers.

They drew water from a well. Its iciness felt good on steamy days when we bathed in washtubs.

Image by HomeMaker from Pixabay.

Grandma and Grandpa didn’t own a television. We grandkids barely survived a week without “Gilligan’s Island,” almost forgetting the words to the theme song (gasp)!

To our dismay, our grandparents’ diet centered on their garden’s produce — collards, okra, and black-eyed peas. At night, smothered in featherbeds on sweaty, 90-degree nights, we wondered if we’d live to see the light of day.

I decided I would never grow that old. My house would never become a museum.

Fast-forward several decades. Our grandson stares at our phone. “You have a landline?”

His tone implies, do you also wear a bustle?

“Yes,” I said, “but we own smartphones, too.”

When I demonstrate I can turn mine on, he looks relieved. Still — “What’s that curly thing on your landline?”

“A cord. All phones used to have them.” I chuckle. “Does look like a Slinky.”

“What’s a Slinky?”

While Hubby and I possess reasonably current laptops and tablet, our grandchildren, accustomed to über-fast technology, consider them fossils, incapable of supporting all-important video games. One child even asks where we dug them up.

We attempt board games instead, playing our own Trivial Pursuit. The teens didn’t know a thing about Betty Ford, leisure suits or other crucial 1970s facts.

Even our children consider us relics. Why? Just because we drive a 10-year-old sedan. Because I play a piano powered up only by my fingers. That not only stacks of CDs and DVDs clutter our home, but cassette tapes I rewind with a pencil point because boom boxes’ features have died. We even own a turntable and vinyl records.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay.

Our kids try to update us. Now proud owners of a Keurig® coffee maker, Hubby and I claim to be cool.

In return, we attempt to give them perspective: “Hey, we possess items older than we are.”

Grandma and Grandpa Oglesbee, my dad’s parents.

When they stare in disbelief, we point to Great-grandma Norris’s china and silverware. Great-grandma Phillips’s wedding chest. Great-uncle Clarence’s World War II flag with 48 stars.

They are visiting a museum for free, too.

That’s what grandparents are for, right?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What relics resided in your grandparents’ home — besides them?

Tomato Tales

Image by Renee Gaudet from Pixabay.

I appreciate dedicated farmers and truckers who continue to bring us produce during this challenging time.

Still, grocery-store tomatoes provide fresh gardening inspiration. They also inspired my tomato-loving dad. One February day long ago, he filled egg cartons with dirt. In our mother’s clean kitchen.

Image by Markus Spiske from Pixabay.

My siblings and I awaited her fiery, fly-swatter judgment.

Instead, Mom said, “I can almost taste the tomatoes now.”

Dad explained he was planting seeds that would grow into tomato seedlings, which we’d later plant in our garden. Unfortunately, only a few lived.

Though Dad doubted the scrawny survivors would produce, he planted them. One he named Methuselah, after the biblical character who lived 969 years, almost filled our family’s pantry by itself.

Methuselah grew as tall as I and spread out as if king of the tomato patch. Dad often counted more than 70 big, juicy tomatoes on Methuselah’s branches. We hauled bushel basketfuls from the garden until Mom locked us out. After canning for weeks in 90-degree weather, she considered the bumper crop a for-real attack of killer tomatoes.

Decades later, my husband and I relived that abundance when we bought a house with a garden full of tomato plants, heavy with fruit. We would enjoy fresh-tomato goodness — with almost zero work!

I thought.

Eventually, I understood why Mom ran screaming from the patch when new blossoms appeared. Way too many tomatoes! Lacking canning equipment or a freezer, we put dozens outside with a “free” sign.

Still, that tomato-y summer ruined us forever. The following spring, we could hardly wait to raise our own. Where to buy seedlings?

Hubby’s barber shop, the source of all small-town wisdom, supplied the answer. The local Future Farmers of America raised and sold seedlings every May.

Image by Aline Ponce from Pixabay.

Since then, we’ve grown tomatoes every year. Red sunshine not only tickles our taste buds during summer, but during winter in homemade spaghetti sauce, chili and stews.

This year, however, the Future Farmers cannot grow seedlings. When Covid-19 first struck, I feared a run on gardening supplies.

Hubby gave me a you’re-so-paranoid look. “It’s not even Easter.”

With a few more gentle (Ahem!) reminders, he tried to order seeds online. Garden websites sang a unanimous song: sold out.

Would a similar run gobble up all seedlings? Would we be condemned to store-bought tomatoes forever?

Having learned his lesson (Always listen to your paranoid wife.), Hubby tracked down and planted tomato seeds. The seedlings will mature too late to plant at the usual time. But we’ll repot and keep them indoors. We’ll share them with others, spoiling them forever for tomatoes that taste like red sunshine — one small way to sweeten this pandemic.

Methuselah would be proud.

Image by Couleur from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite fresh veggie?