Friday, March 04, 2011

Breakfast of Champions . . . and other anecdotes

Clam Chowder
Linda Stradley
What's Cooking America

A couple of posts ago, I reminisced about an early urban time with three cousins on my father's side of the family when I was but five:
When I was five years old, I spent about six months living in Kansas City with my Aunt Kathryn, her husband Odel Young, and their three kids: Larry, David, and Steve. I loved the time with them because the boys were great fun and loved to wrestle (which I seemed to enjoy more back then than I do now) even though all three of them were bigger than me. Also, I knew only the Ozarks and a little bit of Kansas City, but they'd lived in Washington state near the ocean and had great stories about playing on the beach and digging for clams. They convinced me that clam chowder would make me strong, but it never did.
Apparently, I was wrong about not getting stronger, for Aunt Kathryn read my blog entry and sent me an email:
Enjoyed your blog. I have to tell you that when you ate that clam chowder you got strong for a little while -- you went into the hallway and RIPPED those folding doors right off the hinges and told us how strong you had gotten!! Very FUNNY, had to laugh -- you got NO punishment, it was too funny.
I don't know if my great power came from the clam chowder itself or from my strong belief in what my cousins maintained about the superhuman effect of clam chowder -- which was supposed to be like spinach for Popeye -- but I'm glad that I got smarter rather than stronger as I grew up and put away childish ideas about ripping doors off hinges to prove my power.

Aunt Kathryn also offered amusing anecdotes about her mother, my Grandma Nora, who once acknowledged that a bit of 'wine' was regularly made on the family farm, in an isolated part safe from spying eyes, or so Uncle Cran reported, as some readers may recall. Anyway, let's look at Aunt Kathryn's first anecdote:
Here is a little story about Mother. She had to go to K.C. MO. [i.e., Kansas City, Missouri] one time for surgery and they always ask a lot of questions of patients as they check in. One of the questions was, "Do you drink alcohol." Mother said, "Yes, I do," then was asked how much -- She held up 2 fingers sideways and said, "About this much whiskey in a glass of water, when I have a cold."
I seem to recall a lot of colds on Grandma Nora's part. Just kidding. Grandma was a very healthy woman, despite her need for surgery, and lived to be nearly 100, as evidenced in this second, though related anecdote:
Mother had so much company at the hospital [sons & wives] that Virginia told her these people at the hospital couldn't believe her age until all these old men kept calling her Mother. LAUGH!!
Aunt Kathryn then went on to divulge more details about her son David Young and his artistic wife Debbie:
David and Debbie also raise their vegatables, She has a kitchen garden and David has a large garden where he plants several kinds of corn, wheat, okra, differant kinds of potatoes, watermelon and musk melon and sorghum cane, and a bunch of other stuff, can't remember all of it. He grinds the wheat and Debbie makes the most delicious bread. They have goat's milk butter to enhance it. She makes all kinds of cheese and even ice cream out of the goat milk. DELICIOUS and very good to drink also.
But not as good as that moonshine Grandma Nora drank, I'll bet. Anyway, I wish that I could visit their farm and see more of that northwest part of the United States. The farthest that I've gotten up that way was a single nighttime drive from Berkeley, California to Walla Walla, Washington, helping my friend Lionel Jensen (the Chinese scholar) move there to take on a teaching position, back around 1985. But I now have an open invitation to visit Washington state anytime, courtesy of Aunt Kathryn:
[Y]ou are always welcome to come to the GREAT PACIFIC NORTHWEST. Where I live and where David and Debbie live are like 2 differant states. The mighty Cascades Mountains divide western Washington from eastern Washington. They live in high desert country. I'm in the lovely rainy area. The whole state of Washington is just beautiful. We love the rain -- keeps everything green year 'round. COME TO SEE US. I will introduce you all to a big mess of kinfolks that you haven't even heard about -- they are great people -- great deal of fun and you would be proud to know them. Oh yeah, my 3 sons and their families, also. Wonderful people. You would love David and Debbie's farm and they are both very interesting to talk to. Everyone loves to be around David, he has a great sense of humor, much like I can detect in you, especially the comments to En-Uk about his ART work.
That last point is a reference to the remarks that I post on my son's art blog. Well, I do wish that I could make that trip to beautiful Washington state and meet these undreamt-of kinfolk, but I suspect that I'll be staying fulltime in Korea as my wife and I try to save money for the upcoming years.

Everybody's welcome to visit Korea, of course . . .

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