I walk my dogs every morning, sometime between 5:00 and 6:00. I like to beat the traffic; in my neighborhood there's not too much road traffic, but it does get busy around 7:00. We live down the block from Wharton County Junior College, and during the holidays, we've enjoyed walking on the campus down every sidewalk, smelling EVERYTHING! On windy days, I say that it's like I'm walking two kites, my dogs on strings. During the past couple of mornings, I've noticed our string dance: the leashes between the two dogs would be tangled if I didn't understand which way Daisy would move and where Rose would stop to sniff. (Yes, my girls have flower names! They came to me with those very names, and I didn't change them. My mom calls my dogs "the flowers." "How are the flowers today?" she'll ask in our daily telephone conversation. Love that!) Daisy darts and Rose lumbers more than anything else, and our string dance continues on our mile-long treks.
There are many string dances in our lives. I notice it more these days with things like Facebook, Pinterest, and the other social sites. We dart (I sometimes lumber) into each other's lives; friends we have now may disappear and show up later, friends we've had in the past will show up again and we continue our dance. Our little strings keep us connected until we meet again, whether for weddings, reunions, or God forbid, funerals. I have many, many former students after having taught elementary school for 30 years, and sometimes I don't recognize the dancer on the other end of the string. Those faces have changed from the 9- and 10-year-olds I once knew! The strings continue their dances, though, when I hear from one of them, who reminds me of another, and another.
Food often exits and re-enters our lives. Isn't that funny? We have dances with the recipes our family members share with us. My Aunt Ima Dell was a master of the macaroni and cheese! If there was a Johansen family reunion, there would BE some mac and cheese! I'm talking about a casserole from the oven, with a thick layer of cheddar resting atop milky elbow pasta, not Kraft! This wonderful concoction, after having left my life with the death of Aunt Dell a few years ago, appeared again at Christmas when my sister Becca brought it in for Johansen Family Christmas (and the dance continues!).
Sister Di called me the other day and told me she made "Granny Wiley Taco Soup" for lunch. I was confused. Granny never made taco soup! She had to explain that she used my Taco Soup recipe (on this blog, called "An Old Favorite"), but made it like Granny Wiley would have. Our Granny (Mom's mom) was a master of substitution! Whenever she made a meal by using a recipe, she would just change items. If she didn't have green beans, well broccoli would do just as well! If a recipe called for milk, maybe she would instead put sour cream. We never knew what we would get, even though she told us what she was making! It is a memory that now brings a smile to all who knew her. What Di made last week was taco soup according to my recipe, but she didn't have corn, so she put in...., and those beans weren't quite right, but she just added them.... and on and on. We decided taco soup was the perfect recipe for Granny Wiley. She would've loved that it comes out well no matter what goes into it! We will have string dances with Granny forever.
I started Weight Watchers last night (one of the great string dances of my life: it comes in and out!), so I haven't made a new recipe today. I've spent my day looking at recipes online and in books, making my grocery list. I plan to blog soon about ways you can make your recipes more healthy by making substitutions. I'll also post Weight Watcher recipes as I cook them, as well as the points for each serving. Until then, though, I hope you will look up an old family recipe that you have danced with through the years. Life's all about the string dances!