As a special guest of Sally’s, it was a dining pleasure to top them all!
My daughter-in-law knocked on the door. Upon opening it she smiled, tired from a long day of teaching teens and in-betweens. Math and science it seems. Walking across the wooden floor, ran a robust toddler of one to greet her with open arms. “Mama, Mama…” Blond and blue-eyed, his face was aglow to see his mother bending down on one knee, ready to hug him-so-tight. This single grandson of mine wrapped soft pudgy arms around his mother’s neck squeezing her with all of his little might. She fell back on her behind to laugh aloud. Tired no more, life was all about the moment…
With the rest of the family off to a Michigan game for the weekend, the three of us skipped off to a nearby café to enjoy the treat of a special dinner. Our chosen restaurant was a small, family owned place where menus were written overhead on chalkboards of black. Beverages were self-serve near a wall towards the right, while wooden booths waited for us to sit and chat on the left.
Although the food in this café is truly delicious, all homemade and one of a kind, the chef is mainly known for his French pastries and desserts. People from all over St. Louis come to enjoy a slice of mile high raspberry cake filled with buttercream frosting or delight in their signature chocolate desert covered in milk chocolate ganache. At holiday time, rows and rows of cakes and pies line the entire restaurant with orders sold in advance. Call early if you want to serve anything filled with cream or baked in crust at your dinner table!
Of course the above, in all its magnificent glory sits behind massive cases of glass lit from behind, tempting anyone who comes to dine. It’s impossible to say, “No.” I’ve tried looking another way or ignoring the display. I’ve even pretended it wasn’t there in order to “come back another day.” Ha, it doesn’t work that way!
Still, my daughter-in-law and I were doing fairly well in masking our watering mouths. We sat in our booth, discussing children’s play while waiting for sandwiches to be delivered. ‘Our’ little man was buckled into a seat, his back to the tempting treats.
Minutes went by…then out of nowhere came a clear voice, as if from a speaker. “Cupcake.” It was clear and concise. Anyone could have said it. Yet, lips of a toddler were moving up and down. “Cupcake.” My daughter-in-law laughed. Me too! Then, Little Guy began to giggle. “Cupcake!” Our dinner hadn’t been delivered yet, so what the heck? With permission of course, my grandson was allowed to devour desert as his first course. Oh, and on the way out, another one to take home!
Last weekend my husband’s annual family reunion was held in the coolness of Michigan, a state north of my own sweet Missouri. The chosen city was Ann Arbor, home of the prestigious University of Michigan, best known around my home for its slogan, “Go Blue!”
It’s that time of year when shapes of waxy green hanging above our heads were starting to turn yellow. Edges of some were slightly curled. Below our feet, several had been there for days or maybe a week. Others floating down seemed to be waving. “Hello,” or “Good-by,” depending on your point of view, I guess.
Chairs of plastic mesh crisscrossed to make backs and seats on hallow metal tubes. Bright colors of orange and yellow, blue and white or lime and turquoise sat ready and waiting. Some were already filled and taken. Semi-circles automatically made their way atop a stained wooden deck of dark cinnamon that seemed to flow right off a kitchen belonging to the host.
Inside, on every covered counter top of Formica white, trays of catered food were displayed. Fresh sandwiches of turkey and vegetables, lean roast beef with lettuce and bowls of assorted chips and dips of green or cream sat together with a variety of salads. Noodle or potato? Lettuce or Kale? Creamy dressing or plain? In between were large plates of every crudité imaginable plus the mandatory sheet cake. Decorated and frosted in white, it took center stage. There was enough food to fill a plate for my husband’s siblings of eight. Maybe two or even three. No one had to wait to see. “Come and Get it!”
As tracks of teeth left bite marks amidst three-layered sandwiches, there was another buzz floating among the trees. A new name spitted out. Harbaugh. H.A.B.A.U.G.H.
One can’t live in Ann Arbor, perhaps anywhere in Michigan and not be excited about the new coach of U of M. As members of die-hard Michigan fans, this was a great topic of conversation during our reunion. “So what do you think about Harbaugh?” “Isn’t that great about Harbaugh?” “Can’t wait to see the first game coached by Harbaugh!”
Jim Harbaugh was a former Michigan Alumnus where he played Quarter Back for three seasons and led the Wolverines to the Rose Bowl in 1987, finishing third as a Heisman Trophy finalist. He coached the San Francisco 49ers of the NFL for four seasons (2011-2014) where he led them to three playoff wins and one Super Bowl. Now, he was coming HOME. No wonder everyone was excited!
Sitting in my webbed chair of plastic color, listening to all of the talk about Jim Harbaugh, I couldn’t help but smile to myself. Out of everyone attending the reunion, perhaps I had the most reason to be thinking of him. No one knew, of course. And, after all these years, centuries even, it’s not really important. But, on that day, in that time and place it was my own little secret claim to possible fame.
Jim Harbaugh, the new coach of the University of Michigan may be related to me. His early ancestors settled in the same few states that my own ancestors did. My great-grandmother was a Harbaugh, the same as Jims’. She was a German descendent of Casper Harbaugh who came to America via ship at the age of 13 in 1742. His parents tearfully put him on a boat, all alone, hoping to give him a better life once he arrived in the new world. How desperate they must have been!
Ironically, I’m lucky to be here and perhaps Jim Harbaugh is too. Casper Harbaugh almost didn’t make it to America. Like many who rocked their way across the sea on a wooden ship, Casper took ill with typhoid fever. Thinking he died, his frail and limp body was quickly sewn into a burlap sack, ready to be tossed overboard. Somehow God gave him the strength to make a slight movement within which saved his life there and then.
So, Jim Harbaugh, if you’re out there we may be distant relatives. No, it doesn’t really matter. My family will forever be Michigan fans! So glad we are to have you back where you belong! And, next year, feel free to stop by our reunion. The food is great!
I was working at my desk later than usual the other night. Books, yellow papers and blue pens were strewn everywhere. The temperature had dropped to nearly 4 degrees. Skies from windows near me were vast and dark, black as charcoal. No glowing moon or twinkling stars could be seen. God kept them hidden behind warm blankets of the sleeping sun.
Yesterday I learned sounds are not only what I hear, but what I need to spit out for others to understand me. Without them I will not speak properly. I’m tired of this. My throat hurts chronically. I croak and cough and choke. I have a paralyzed vocal cord and the other not much better. If not repaired through therapy, it’s off to the operating room for me.
It’s ironic, this gravelly voice of mine. From the age of ten I was wrapped in the world of wonder and make-believe. I used to take the lead in plays and musicals. I was told my pitch was, “perfect.” I never needed a microphone! A voice is something we don’t often think about. We are blessed by God, but take it for granted. Until last March when I became sick, it never crossed my mind. Then I woke up to find it gone. But, God had a plan. I started to write again. I found a new ‘voice’ in this body of mine after the other had left… when the other was gone.
Last night, believe it or not, I attended my first holiday “Cookie Exchange.” There were lessons to be learned there.
I live in a small subdivision of about twenty-five brick and mortar homes. Smoke swirled and curled above all of the chimney tops, looking like a Rockwell painting as I walked by. Crunching snow underfoot, I carried my grandmother’s pink depression platter of lemon-glazed cookies, warm from the oven into the freezing cold.