Saturday, October 03, 2009

Mum's the Word

We're so blessed with a beautiful Fall season here in eastern Kansas. The leaves are changing from greens and yellows to brilliant shades of red, fiery orange, and smokey browns. A few of them are already littering our lawn and dotting the sidewalk, only to flutter away with the next gust of wind {which we have PLENTY of} and settle in the gutter or against the side of this house or that.

I'm noticing the tomatoes on my vine have slowed their once-feverish Summer pace to more of a crawl, grasping onto the last bits of sunshine the daylight delivers before the sun retires in the early evening. Mostly greens now, I'm watching daily for the sign of a rosy red skin. I don't want to miss it and risk my window of plucking before the hungry caterpillars and grasshoppers sink their greedy little chompers in.

The evenings are quickly turning from cool to cold. The setting of the sun transitions from a warm, glistening glow to a sweater-worthy sliver of light and then just as quickly to night. I'm readying the fireplace hearth to embody the warmth of Summer and provide that coziness I constantly crave all winter; you know the one - a book, hot chocolate, pajama pants, blanket, and you, nestled away on an especially comfortable chair, able to look out the window and watch the comings and goings in the neighborhood. Am I the only one that correlates this with Fall and Winter?

The other night I found myself so juxtaposed with the coveted seat on the couch and a new treasure box full of once-loved goods from that morning's estate sale.

In it I found this book. It's a familiar title to every good household cook.

But in it I found fascinating tips and household tricks that I don't recall finding in my new version {as they all claim to be}. Instead, in its pages I found the way to remove lipstick from clothing, the best way to store your family's meat supply for the week, and how to prepare a dish just as worthy of the Queen of England as for your dining room table. I find it sad the remedies and recipes of days gone by didn't carry over into the Age of Technology.

This reminds me of a discussion Ryan and I debated while driving home last night: Social Etiquette. Once-planned parties weren't a casual event, passively invited guests didn't neglect the simple request along the bottom of an invitation {Répondez S'il Vous Plaît}, and society was more prone to gather for an evening and mingle. Instead, we feel encumbered with committing to one party, possibly position ourselves to not being reachable at any given second, or, heaven-forbid, we are inconvenienced by having to make a phone call and allow the party-planner to make proper preparations for their event. Why is this? Why do we hand out an invitation and expect anyone to call us {or even simpler in this Age of Technology, email us} and let them know they'll be attending, when recent history dictates otherwise? Ryan, being the brilliant budding Psychologist, brought up the point that as a society we have become afraid of rejection. We don't want to think of the idea that someone might not want to attend my party, and the invitee doesn't want to offend the host/hostess by directly telling them so. The result? No communication between the two and one or both thinking this is acceptable.

We came to the conclusion that it's a lost cause unless one party conditions the other and both do their part. No more passivity, I say. No more "regrets only" on my invitations. If you're invited to a party I'm hosting and I haven't heard back from you, I'll be giving you a call to see if you'll be in attendance. Why? Because I need to have a chair and meal for you if you attend. And if you have another commitment that evening, I don't want to have cupcakes for days that I, in my zeal for entertaining, thought would be 'just enough.'

See what happens when I crack open a cookbook from 1953? Where's my soapbox.
On a happier note:

This morning I woke up later than usual for my weekly traipse around town to this sale or that, but the extra 30 minutes of sleep was bliss for my weary and allergy-fighting body. The evening before I mapped out my plan of attack, as one should always do when needing to attack a town, and printed out my route. My route typically includes a stop at a gas station for a hefty sip of diet dr. pepper, but this morning's frostiness warranted a hot chocolate {tell me there is nothing better than gas station hot chocolate} and on I went. An unplanned stop at the farmer's market had me debating freshly-cut dahlia's at $3 a stem or a bushel of rusty red mums for $9. You would think this was a no brainer. I mean, a plant I could enjoy for months {next year} or a trio of dahlias that would last a week. But I will admit I debated for a few minutes.

After I paid my $9 I proudly carried my mums to my car and knew JUST the place to find a galvanized bucket to display my rusty reds in.

And they were a perfect fit and perfectly fit to usher in the season.

Now the question is, do I put them on my kitchen table for a gorgeous centerpiece, or by my front door for an opulent welcome? It might warrant a second jaunt to the farmer's market.

I hope this week continues to transition to Fall without causing the temperature to drop too much further. How's the season in your neck of the woods?


Micah and Melinda said...

Listen Bitches RSVP or else! I hate when people don't call and what about a thank you note? Is it so hard to drop a note of gratitude in the mail! After a visit from my great g-ma it was only a matter of days before a cheerful note was recieved and a recounting of the wonderful time she had... you need to read this book called "The life and times of the Thunderbolt kid" its all about this child in the 50s and what it was like back then.

Ashley Lauren Trunnell said...

How lovely this post is. You are quite the writer Chelsea, and it's nice to see that there's an issue open to discussion.

I completely agree about this hypocritical state of our culture. We do live in a technology age and you would think that would just create more opportunities to get together, and more opportunities to see when someone is available. It's too bad there aren't more dinner parties today. But I guess who wants to sit around for dinner and chat when they've got to run home and check to see how all their internet friends are doing on facebook? I for one, love the idea of dinner parties and formal get-togethers. I think someone needs to revive them.

Sometimes I do wish I were born in a different era... but then I wouldn't be responding to a thought I read on the internet and as a female able to respond to it.

Chelsea said...

Mel - I will admit I am HORRID with Thank You notes. I justify myself out of sending one by either calling or sending a quick know, the 'modern' way. But I will readily admit that it makes my day when I receive a thoughtfully written note. I think that's the key. If it's just a standard note that has Thank You printed and the person has just signed their name, no need to spend money. I assume you're grateful when I give you the gift! But a nicely penned note is hung on the fridge for weeks before I have the heart to replace it.

Chelsea said...

Ashley - Thank you! I think culturally there are many dinner parties, just not a standard part of middle class any longer. I was dreaming up these fantastic parties the other day, as I tend to do, and then I was slapped in the face by the big hand of reality when I remembered the turnout of previous parties. How I'm going to remedy the problem is this: I'm only inviting a certain number of people. I'm not going to be afraid of offending people by not inviting them. If a friend of a friend or their friend's cousin {etc} is interested in a specific event or activity and would like to attend, fine, call me and I'm happy to plan for them as well. Is this unfair or calloused?

Ashley Lauren Trunnell said...

Not at all. If they were a good friend then you would invite them right?