Pharting Eggs and Jungle Butter
“Psssst…come here!” a mysterious voice signals from the back hall. “Don’t tell anybody but I saw you cooking breakfast this morning! What’s up with that?”
Oh yes, sorry to have shocked you, but I DID cook today and I enjoyed it. In fact it reminded me again of my father in law, Lavern. For years he would get up early, go for his walk, and then cheerfully and excitedly prepare a full table for his family.
I loved tip toeing out of bed and peeking around the corner where the delicious smells of bacon, grits, eggs and coffee were coming from. He’d likely be humming softly to himself and totally IN THE MOMENT, loving what he was doing. When he’d look up and see me, he’d wave me into the room and ask me to start the toast for him so he could turn the eggs.
Their kitchen was immaculate, but homey. My mother in law Marlene kept every surface clean, even the floor, even the corners, and still had time to adorn her home with the many gifts she received from her loving family.
I would breathe in the atmosphere of peace and order in a chaotic world, and be in awe of how they had managed to perfect their home. There were things there that amazed and amused me, but were essential to her ability to keep things just so. Like the row of hanging brooms behind the kitchen door, one for the outside, one for the inside and perhaps an older one that was still too good to throw away.
There was a place for everything, and they always had just enough but not too much. All of her canned food fit in the lazy susan cabinet in the corner of her counter, and extra bathroom tissue or cases of soda pop were kept out in the garage. There was one holder for paper bags under the sink, and one holder for plastic bags.
I suppose what kept things so neat was the fact that they were both generals in charge when it came to making everyone obey the rules. If someone came into the house with greasy hands and happened to leave fingerprints on a doorway, they’d immediately be given the can of Comet and a rag and told to go clean the mess they had made. Not later, right NOW.
Cans, bottles and paper were sorted and as you’d go to throw something in their little kitchen trash can, you’d be told where to place each thing, and you knew as Lavern proudly carried the recycling trash out, doing his share to keep the world a safe place, that all was right in the world.
That’s what being a mom and dad is all about. Providing a safe and operational home, and setting examples for the next generation.
Now back to MY story.
I stood over my new frying pan, the one I had just paid $12 for that had the Teflon coating and was heavy enough not to burn food too badly.
(My son Daniel had convinced me to begin replacing my cookware. He’s inherited some of my in-law’s sense and reasoning. I buy from the Dollar Store, and take pride in being able to find things really cheap or slightly used. The problem with that is that cheap doesn’t always mean better performance. It can often mean wasted, burned food and lost time. Fortunately, I’m balanced by Daniel’s wisdom.)
I had broken the eggs into the pan without breaking yolks, and was using my handy dandy Dollar Store plastic spatula that grips and flips (as seen on TV). I flipped the eggs,... finally, ...with difficulty, (what the heck it’s an imperfect world after all), and was lost in a daydream about my father in law, when the egg furthest back rudely exhausted itself.
Off on the new daydream, wondering if that slurping pop could be classified as a proper "wind", I amused myself through the "horrible" task of cooking, until the eggs were safely onto a plate.
Lastly, I needed to make toast. I pulled out two pieces of strange feeling bread (it wasn’t old was it?), put them into the toaster, and went to the refrigerator looking for the huge tub of margarine I use. Oh dear. I didn’t immediately see it. The top shelf was smothered with bags from McDonalds, and the bottom shelf was covered with a scramble of meat packages tossed crookedly on top of zip lock bags that held last week’s beans and rice.
Wait, there it was, behind the nearly empty orange juice carton, and underneath a McDonald’s bag that was covering an almost empty bottle of chocolate milk. As I lifted the bag carefully, balancing the chocolate milk and orange juice on a lower shelf now with my hip as support, I could have sworn I heard a jungle bird’s caw off in the distance inside the fridge.
Yes, I admit it. I’ve hidden a jungle inside my fridge. Well, they ARE going extinct aren’t they? Isn’t this preserving a small part of it?
I have not done as well as my in-laws in creating a feeling of peace and order in my home. It’s crowded, dirty and very obviously the home of children who are playing house, but too busy with their various toys to adhere to all the rules.
What you WILL find here is imagination, (it’s stuffed behind the big garbage can that lives under my art table here in the kitchen where my desk is.) And love. That abides everywhere. You can see it fleeing my hurrying feet as I carry drinks and snacks to each child in their bedrooms, where they have televisions and computers set up to entertain them 24 hours a day. (Yes, I'm poking fun at myself.)
But you ask who was the mysterious voice whispering to me from the back hall? Oh, that was just one of my personalities, out playing cops and robbers with the dryer lint on the mountain of dirty clothes. It’s a great playground. Nobody ever goes there except to look for something that went missing in the house. Then it’s anybody’s jungle (ok, so I have another one growing back there), and anybody’s guess if the item will be found.
Wouldn’t you like to visit me? I can assure you the coffee pot is always in its place on the one small section of countertop in my kitchen and I’ll be sure to keep your cup refilled as we talk. That’s my small contribution towards keeping everything right in the world.
You see, my own parents raised me in a house where joy and imagination were more important than rules. Mom gave us dessert first, let us sew our own Christmas presents, and set aside the kitchen table for a place we could sit and talk with them for hours, ask anything and always be given an honest answer.
I grew up feeling good about myself and everyone else, and without any known prejudice. Mom said we could be and do anything we wanted to be, and she proved that by getting her high school diploma and driver's license in her 40's, at the same time as she made the leap to false teeth. She also went to college, became a newspaper reporter, chairman of the board of our local community action program, and then a preacher, opening a mission in Florida when we moved there.
The point of this little story is to honor and remember our parents and loved ones. To cherish and accept our past and come to accept and love who we are and where we are at this moment. It's only from awareness and making peace with these things can we hope to move forward into the great joy and peace of our future.
2007 has been prophesied to be a year of jubilee for all of God's people. "It is a year of open doors and opportunities, the year of the Lord's favor." As my mentor, pastor and friend, Dr. Anna Rich says, Let us walk worthy of Heaven in 2007.
© Lisa Tyler 2007