Friday, March 20, 2015

Hamburger Helper

Embedded in our family lore is an item about me and a not-too-palatable food item called "Hamburger Helper." Yes, there is some truth to this story, but I can explain.

First, I need to go back at least half a century. My family never possessed a car. That was not in the least bit unusual when I was growing up in those post-war years, although by the time I left England in 1963 car ownership was becoming more common. During my childhood, not having a car was never a hardship, although of course it may have been to my parents, when it came to shopping and all the requirements of life, like shopping and going to work. I blithely lived my life jumping on a bus.

Here is the form of trans port ation my dad had before his mar riage. I wrote about this in an earlier post. Fast-forward to 1971: Andrew had just been born and with four children under the age of five I decided I needed to learn to drive. We had a bizarre lifestyle which involved waiting for Ernie to get home before we bundled four children into a car so he could take us all to the grocery store, for appointments at the doctor etc. I don't think I realized that doing all that singlehandedly would not be much fun.

In any event, I signed up for driving lessons in the parking lot of Grosse Pointe Farms. I am a bit vague about who offered the lessons, how many times a week, but I am pretty sure they were at 5:30. (Or was it six?) It involved Ernie and the kids dropping me off, going home for dinner, and coming back to fetch me. They would need dinner, so I bought this product called Hamburger Helper, which called for browned ground beef which was mixed with the contents of the box. That way I could prepare it in advance and it merely needed warming. An added advantage was that the kids liked it. Heaven knows how I fed Andrew. I completed the course, passed the test, parallel parking included.

Last week I went to the grocery store. I had noticed earlier that the shelves were looking different. Some brands were being culled, others restocked. Imagine my surprise when I came face to face with shelves stocked full of a product I had not looked for for years. All flavors, all kinds of Hamburger Helper. Chicken Helper! Tuna Helper!

There must be a lot of mature women learning to drive.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

It's Always Greener . . .

Our winter is, perhaps, winding towards its close. Though heaven knows, we have had some pretty rough Marches in the past. All  we have to do is navigate potential spring floods. My guest beds remain un-made. Should I make them with flannel—and have to rip the sheets off and re-make the beds with percale if my first bunch of spring guests arrive on a hot spring day? Or should I make the beds with percale? Then I have to search out blankets already smelling of mothballs to keep them warm? Problems, problems, problems.

This will be with us before long. And worse. I'm just showing this to people who say they like to live in the Mid-west because of "the seasons." Then the question is bandied around, "Which do you prefer, the winter or the summer?"

I know the answer to that one—whichever we are not suffering from at the time.

Friday, March 06, 2015

It Calls For a Reversal

In late 2012 I was pretty insulting to the firm Paper Direct for the slew of catalogs they were sending. And still do. I should not be upset, because they had rightly surmised that I loved to write letters and that I loved attractive stationery.

Paper Direct's Pretty Petals
In the past, many of my letters and non-cyber communication were addressed to my sister-in-law who did not have a computer and had no intention of getting one. So I loved to send her long letters on paper like this. I had to use a computer because I have a somewhat shaky hand these days, but it was probably easier for her to read. After her death I found my correspondence was pretty much limited to e-mail. Not that it saved work: I write some pretty long e-mails usually with photos attached. It would be easy to plunk the text in a letter and mail it, but I have fallen into the trap of instant gratification—the e-mail can be there within ten seconds, I save the cost of a stamp and don't have to make the trip to the mail box.

The other day as I was reading some blogs and following links to some previously unknown blogs, I was thinking that there are a lot of great writers out there. And I got to wondering how many letters they send. Perhaps an aunt or cousin would love to get the content of their blog not on the internet but as a letter. (Don't expect that friends and relatives will read your blogs and follow your life from the internet. They won't. After a long post about, perhaps, a month long safari, someone is bound to ask , "What did you do this summer?" Needless to say, I made up the safari bit, but the underlying truth is there.) I can promise you that the sight of the mailman coming up the walk with a letter will make the recipient happy and feeling loved.

I know that was the case with Flo. So this is a challenge for some of you great writers. Forget the blog and use your skill to enrich someone's day.