“Often, at my desk, I am so completely submerged in whatever I am writing that I lose track of everything, get frustrated, clasp my head in my hands, and wonder why anyone would do this sort of work. Then I look up.” – Author unknown
When I first started writing columns for my Kansas hometown newspaper and a Maine newspaper, I had to introduce myself in my first column.
Here in my new home, where I am in a pandemic situation, I have been going through all my files and re-reading old columns and sorting them by categories. As I read, I can see my life flashing before me and all the changes I have made, yet some of my life remains the same.
I am still 6 feet tall, but now I have more gray streaks in my brunette hair. My freckles have faded into age spots that mingle between wrinkles and liver spots. I have had cataract surgery but still wear glasses, even though I can read and drive without them.
I was not an athletic woman. I was more of a klutz. That aspect remains the same. Jim used to tell me I could not walk and chew gum at the same time.
As far as food is concerned, I still love food – reading about food, writing about food, talking about food, and sharing food. Pies are my favorite. I even eat pie for breakfast.
Baking takes precedence over cooking. The buttery, yeasty scent of baking bread tops my list of favorite scents. Even with three excellent dining halls on campus, I still cook most of my meals. As for spices, I could not live without cinnamon or black pepper. One of my favorite recipes in my recipe box:
Ruby’s fresh strawberry pie
Ingredients: 9-inch baked pastry shell; 1 1/2 quarts fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and patted dry; 1 cup sugar; 1 1/2 tbsp corn starch; 1/2 cup water; 1 tbsp butter; a few drops red food coloring.
Place 1 quart of strawberries in the cooled pastry shell. Crush the remaining berries in a medium pan. Add sugar, corn starch, and water, blending well. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture boils. Boil for 2 minutes. Add butter and coloring. Stir until blended. Cool, then pour over berries in pastry shell. Chill until set, 3 hours. Serve with sweetened real whipped cream or Cool Whip.
I still have gypsy blood in my veins. I have lived in 19 different homes in seven different countries, as we moved every few years. Moving into my new senior residence, I now move furniture around.
I was raised a Methodist. I was married by a Presbyterian pastor to a Lutheran husband. We had Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Catholic, and Mormon friends all around the world.
I have been fortunate to work with some of the best and brightest people in our travels. Taught in America, I have been a teacher, owned my own catering business, edited church newsletters and magazines, then wrote travel tips for a travel agency. Best tip won a prize: “When you pack for a day trip, lay out all your clothes and money on the bed. Take away half the clothes and double the money.”
Overseas I worked as an adviser for The Malaysian American Commission of Educational Exchange. I worked as director of the Creative Test Kitchen for the Jamaican Flour Mill in Kingston, where I did all my testing with box mixes in my kitchen. Later on I became a research associate for Runzheimer International Management Consultants. I taught English in a private Mexican school where I had to sit through faculty meetings listening to Spanish with a translator. In South Africa I was a tour guide for the Goodyear Women’s Club and taught cooking classes in my home.
I speak Spanish! (Insert the laughter of my family members here.) Words are my friends, dictionaries my mentors, poetry the pitter-patter of my heart. Books are solace for my soul and writing is my therapy.