“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “to talk of many things.” Just back from a trip to Wichita, KS for a family wedding. My niece’s son, I guess it’s okay to say he’s my nephew, graced the family with a beautiful new daughter/niece/sister-in-law. It was a grand opportunity to eat some great food, drink some good wine, and visit with family members I don’t see often. The drive was brutal as it always is but surprisingly the weather was perfect. Most of the time Wichita weather in August is unbearable…high temps and higher humidity. This trip though, daytime highs were around 80 and the humidity was bearable. In fact, as we got closer to Denver it got hotter and hotter. 80 degrees in Wichita, 98 in Denver. Something is definitely wrong with this picture.
I’ve been visiting my sisters in Wichita a lot more recently. When my parents were still alive and before Dad retired and they moved to Oklahoma I visited on a fairly regular basis. Then there was a period when my trips there got fewer farther between. I excused it by saying we were visiting Judy’s family in South Dakota and passed it off as “If Mama’s not happy, nobody is happy” and Mama wanted to visit her Mama. But there were other things causing us to stay away. For a while it seemed like I visited 4 or 5 times without anyone from Wichita coming to Colorado. Or when they did they stayed away from us and never called. I’m sure it was my imagination but that’s how it seemed. I even went so far as to say I wouldn’t be visiting again until there were some reciprocal visits to Colorado. Lately, though, I’ve been visiting a lot more and renewing relationships with sisters, nieces and nephews, and also friends from my school days. And it’s given me a chance to renew or at least emulate an old family tradition. Let me explain:
When my sisters and I were young our Mother would cook some wonderful things and one of the favorites was her Pineapple Upside-down cake. If you’ve never had this wonderful dessert all you need to know is how the edges get all crusty with caramelized brown sugar and butter and the corners have more edges. As I got old enough to participate, I would fight over the corners with my Dad and my sisters. 4 of us, 4 corners, no problem right? WRONG! Someone, usually me, wanted more corners. As we got older and more devious, we would come up with creative ways to get more than our allotted share of corners. And the battles became legendary.
We entered a sort of competition to see who could be the more creative in attempts to deny someone their corner. Corners would be cut off the cake and either eaten on the spot while the other warriors were busy with something else or the corners would be merely hidden for consumption later when others were in bed. Sometimes we found the hidden spoils and sometimes the spoils….well….spoiled. More than once there were tales of someone finding a corner of the cake that had been in an infrequently used cabinet or drawer and turned into a science project. And we loved every minute of the battles. It was home and it was family.
When Dad and Mom passed away the tradition died with them. Dad was usually the culprit who found creative ways to snag more than his share of corners and when Mom passed, despite both of my sisters being marvelous cooks, nobody had the incentive to bake an Upside-down cake. I guess my visits becoming more rare played a factor also. And the younger generations just didn’t have the passion for the game that we did.
And then came the deviled eggs….and my nephew’s daughter, Lauren. Lauren is a beautiful young girl, 10 or 11 years old I think, and I guess to her I’d always been the scary uncle. Whenever I’d see her on a visit and say “Hi Lauren” she would go all shy and hide behind her Mom or Dad. I thought it was going to be the same for this visit until we were at my sister’s house Sunday afternoon for a cookout. I got there first and as family members came in there was much discussion about my Duck Dynasty drink cup. Seems there are a lot of family members that watch the show pretty regularly…including Lauren. More on that later.
Lauren and her family came in while eggs were being peeled and cut open for deviled eggs. As a bit of background, deviled eggs are one of my 2 or 3 favorite food items and I would gladly participate in a steel cage death match over the last deviled egg on the plate. Anyway, we got the eggs peeled, sliced, and filled and my sister asked Lauren to take 2 plates of eggs to the downstairs fridge since we weren’t eating for a couple hours and I heard her father say “Someone should watch her…she might eat 6 or 7 of them.” Seems deviled eggs are on Lauren’s list of favorites too…I responded by saying to her “Girl, I’ll fight you for those eggs..” and she said “You’d lose.” What’s this? Shy girl Lauren fighting back with the crazy uncle? I LOVE IT! I responded with my best Uncle Si imitation and said “Okay…be warned, It’s On like Donkey Kong, Jack!” She came back with another Si-ism..”No, It’s On like Bing Bong, Jack!!” And I melted. Lauren has a new fan. And the family has another challenge.
It was a great trip with good food, and wonderful visits. I don’t know how often I’ll have chances for cookouts when Lauren will be around but rest assured….It IS on like Bing Bong, Jack!