Ah, Memorial Day. Best one in a long time. Mercy introduced us to Bexley, where the streets are shady, the vast lawns are landscaped by skilled hands, the driveways are long, curving, bricked, and the houses -- excuse me -- the manors are dignified. At one of the larger ones, I expected Captain Von Trapp to pop around the corner and scowl at me.
That is not all. We found what appears to be the favorite mall of Columbus' teenage girls. At one table in the food court, eight kids were dressed for prom night--sequins and dramatic eyeliner on the girls, bow ties and nervous clowning on the boys. A few tables away, another young group dressed for the Goth prom looked like they were all peeved at each other.
On Monday, Mercy directed us to a shady park. We met Martha and her boys. We ate. And here is what we ate, so you can eat it too:
Curry Chicken Croissants
Country Baked Beans
Fruit Salad w/ Apricot Dressing
COCOA FUDGE CAKE (It was John's birthday. Thanks, John, for giving us an excuse to eat cake)
1 2/3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp. vanilla
Heat oven to 350'. Spray a 9x13-in. pan with PAM. Beat all ingredients in large mixer bowl on low speed, scraping bowl constantly, 30 seconds. Beat on high speed, scraping bowl occasionally 3 minutes. Pour into pan.
Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes; cool. Frost with Vanilla Butter Frosting.
VANILLA BUTTER FROSTING
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup margarine
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
About 2 TB milk
Mix all ingredients until frosting is smooth and of spreading consistency.
Over on the Finished Book Pile, I really have finished Alice Munro's View From Castle Rock by now. In the second half, I liked "Hired Girl" and "Home."
"Hired Girl" is one of those stories that, while I read it, I kept saying, "Yep, that's the way it is." The young heroine spends the summer working for people that own an island. In her mind, she's a person. But when she prepares lunch one day for the mistress, the mistress' daughter and herself, she carries the three plates out to the patio. "Oh, no, no," says the mistress. "Only two plates. You'll be eating in the kitchen." Great examination of class boundaries.
"Home" is the kind of story that, while I read it, I wondered how it would have been if it had happened in our family. The narrator visits home. Her mother has died. Her father has re-married. The sights along the route are the same, the kitchen is the same, but the table and chairs have been moved to the barn, the front rooms re-papered. "I don't go into the front room now to rummage in the piano bench for old photographs and sheet music. . . . The books that used to lie under beds and on tables all over the house have been corralled by Irlma, chased and squeezed into this front-room bookcase, glass doors shut upon them." It was a story about change, and what the changes say about who is in charge, about who hangs on to sentimental feelings and who lets them go.
No cow patties in Munro's stories, only some strong whiffs.