After living vicariously through my children for many years, I suddenly found a huge space-void which was previously occupied with violin lessons, doctors visits, school functions, baseball games, term papers and late night breath-checks. Discovering that my husband was not about to re-locate to a tropical island to drink pina coladas and hold my hand, I was forced to face the looming question, what’s next? Or put another way, is that all there is?
Enter, the egg. I enrolled in my first-ever art class. The instructor put an egg on a table in front of us and shone a light directly on it. We were told to take our wide stick vine charcoal and blacken a large space on our newsprint. Then we were to look very closely at the egg. Next, we took a chamois and eraser to remove the blackness wherever we saw the light reflecting on the egg. You could then go in and heavily blacken the darker areas or highlight with white chalk if you felt so inclined. I was truly astonished when that son of a gun popped off the page and took on depth and form.
- To get what I want, I have to give up control
- What I’m after isn’t quite what I get
- I have never really seen an egg before
- Some of my eggs look like hamburgers
And then I got a little crazy and wrote: First there is darkness. And then there is light. And light ushers in creation. And light gives definition. And light brings life. And the darkness cannot put out what the light is doing.
Similar to the way my vision was altered when Jesus first made his presence known to me and I saw life in vivid spirit-color; this egg enabled me to look for orbs and light and shadow in faces, trees, dishes, everything.
At the next class, we were asked to share our journals, and I enthusiastically volunteered to go first. After reading my observations to the class, a bit of awkwardness entered the room. The instructor gently explained to me that by journal, he really meant a book of sketches.
Oh, then, nevermind.
The good news is, that I have continued to sketch and draw and paint. In one of those early classes, my teacher called what we were doing mark-making. He explained how everyone has their unique mark and I knew it would be a terrible waste not to discover mine. I have not reached the level of confidence to call myself an artist but I am totally at ease with the distinction of mark-maker.
Walking tandem with my mark-making is my voice-finding quest. And though I have an arsenal of writings in notebooks and on my computer, I cower at the idea of being called a writer. I like the term, blogger; much less threatening and connoting lower expectations. And now this Jesus loving, grandchild hugging, mark-making, blogger is feeling quite satisfied.
Did I forget to mention potato salad? There was always potato salad on Mamaw’s table. That perfect combination of creamy, crunchy, tangy, salty, starchy and yummy, makes it impossible for anybody else to hold up a candlestick. Now, I have made Mamaw’s tater salad and so has my mom, my sister, my cousins, and my daughter and we all fall short of the glory of Mamaw’s. But still we try.
Mamaw firmly believed that potato salad is yellow (from the mustard) and not that anemic white color of the imposters. Another clue to her culinary authenticity is the thin sliced hard-boiled egg carefully placed across the top and sprinkled with the ever so subtle yet never to be omitted, paprika. Miraculously, every slice of celery has to be the same size and with-out strings. The pickles have to be sweet gherkins, also cut to perfectly resemble one another (forget the ones that come already chopped ). The mayonnaise has to be Hellmann’s, the onions grated, and the mustard French’s. And finally, everyone knows that potato salad tastes better the next day and has to be doctored up with a dollop of fresh dressing due to the drying out that occurs in the fridge overnight. Here is Mamaw’s recipe :
Boil up some whole potatoes (skin on): Poke and see if they are done
Peel skin off while warm. Cut in cubes and salt and pepper (while still warm).
Chop up celery, and pickles
Grate in some onion
Fix sauce: Mayo, a little mustard, some sugar (to cut the mustard) and milk to thin
Stir it up real good and taste to see if you need more sugar or mustard
Pour sauce on potatoes. Taste to see if it needs more salt or pepper
After chilled, put sliced egg on top
Sprinkle with paprika
Where are the proportions, you may ask? Sadly, I must say, here in lies the question, the problem, the challenge, the opportunity and the mystery that ensures Mamaw’s supremacy. Lots of luck!