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Galumpki with a side of Pierogi please

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My favorite food in childhood was pasta. Pasta with marinara, pasta and butter, pasta sprinkled with Parmesan. Pasta pasta pasta, and more pasta, the shape or size did not matter Italian cuisine nourished this child’s taste buds.

My parents clearly expressed, “I hope you plan to marry an Italian guy,” and I did just that an Irish Italian man.

The favorite dish mother served was Galumpki, a cabbage leaf wrapped around a mix of salt pork, beef, and white rice, baked with a thin glaze of tomato sauce. It is a popular dish amongst Polish Americans. When there was Galumpki’s on the Sunday dinner table the accompanying side entree were Pierogies layered on a sea-green glass platter. The boiled semicircular dumplings stuffed with potato, cheese, and sometime sauerkraut with sprinkled fried onions a top.

These are my favorite meals today that comfort and remind me of family and childhood home, growing up in a household with five Polish half brothers and sisters.

What is your featured dish that brings you comfort from the good ole days of childhood?

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Grandma’s Treadle Sewing Machine Cleaned and Oiled

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Back in September I took a long weekend road trip to Vermont with my niece for a fall foliage photo safari and spent a few days with a cousin, this was our third get together since reconnecting on Facebook after 20+ years. On this visit we carried a huge surprise in the trunk of the car for her.

Evenings were spent in the dim light of citronella lanterns on the deck sipping wine as we reminisced of childhood days when she lived with our grandmother Nana. Nana was a serious stern husky women with thick legs from waitressing table to table at Whites Lunch a local downtown diner. Her pet german shepherd dog Bullet laid outside the restaurant door greeting daily customer’s until her shift was over, then together, side-by-side walked the main street back to their apartment .

We giggled the nights away as we had back then with reference to, “Remember when…?” “Do you remember the time?”

We spoke of how angry our Nana had become at the dinner table, when her elderly boyfriend George would kick us under the table and made goofy faces at the two of us and the giggling would ensue non-stop. Nana would become so angry with our disrespectful table manners her glasses would steam up. Especially, when her friend George half of her size set across the table commonly dressed in short sleeve white dress shirt, red bow tie, and a mischievous wide smile plastered across his gentle face. He would perform his own broadway show when he played his imaginary violin in the air and vocally belted out, “Some enchanted evening you could hear her hollering…” drowning out her angry voice in the background. George was a brave little man who clearly knew how to melt Nana’s heart and our young hearts as well. We all loved him as the Granddad we never knew.

Rediscovered on the porch at a relatives house recently was our Nana’s, ‘1895 Sphinx Head Model Singer Treadle Sewing Machine,’ which long ago set in her bedroom and now has been handed down to the older and wiser little girl that Nana taught to sew back then.

A blessed reconnection filled with immaterial treasures as well.

Listen to this old gal purr!

***Photography and video by Pam Applebee: the recipient of this treasure!

It is the Little Moments

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My Dad June 19 1929 –  April 20 2005

The two of them passed by the hostess station arm in arm, her small hand curled around his elbow in a delicate grip. He wore a proud smile on his pale yellow face as his slim frame crept on by. She patiently led him to the dinner table with a sparkle of love and understanding in her eye. As I watched in hungry admiration deep within the wall of my chest a piece of heart melted. I thought how blessed the middle-aged gal was to have her dad around to take to dinner. I smiled as they passed by our table when old memories waltzed like the dinner wine through my head.

I heard her high spirited voice say, “Daddy look who’s here!” I snapped my head around to the back of the restaurant to capture a glimpse of the joy.“ Do you know who she is Daddy?” ” Daddy do you remember Rose?” Apparently, Rose lived next door to them in their old neighborhood.

Bittersweet teardrops beaded my cheek as I dabbed them away on the soft pink dinner napkin hoping the other patrons wouldn’t notice sentimental me. In the moment how I longed to walk arm and arm to dinner with my father. It’s the everyday simple moments such as this, which surface and envelope the heart sweeping me back in time when my dad and I shared a father and daughter dinner date.

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When I was five…

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There were fireflies, butterflies and little cocoons.

In warm summer rain, night crawlers slithered thru small fingers.

Lovers leap swimming hole smelled of skunk cabbage, thick rope swing dangled from oak tree.

Pail of polliwogs, salt shaker for leaches on legs.

One foot hopped square-to-square, bouncing red rubber ball and star-shaped jacks.

Glossy marbles flared along smooth ground rolled into dirt hole.

Double dutch jump rope, buckle on roller skates.

Dodge ball, kick the can, and flashlight tag.

Flattened out pennies on the railroad track.

Longhaired trolls on wooden sailboats floated in the creek.

Peanut butter and jelly picnic under the weeping willow with Mother Goose & Nursery Rhyme.

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In My Father’s House

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One prominent characteristic of my dad was how he loved his popcorn. Salty and buttery. Through out my childhood every night in preparation of the televised ball game he would take out the old dented aluminum pot and heat the oil for corn kernels, he’d stand aside the stove shaking the pot so not to burn. He’d then crack open a can of beer and along with a full bowl of popcorn he’d sit to watch the ballgame. This was his nightly ritual. The smell of popcorn would linger in the air of our house days on end.

When he passed away I maintained his mobile home in Florida and as promised didn’t put it up for sale. On our first visit back after his death we opened the place up and cleaned all day. Just about 9 o’clock we settled in for the night to relax and watch a little TV when suddenly a redolent of popcorn filled the room.

Stunned, I questioned myself, “Is the smell real, or imagined, or just an illusion created from emotional separation?”

Feeling a sense of mild astonishment, I got up from his recliner chair and went to the kitchen sniffing intensely absorbing with every breath the smell of popcorn. I scuffled into the back bedroom and back again; stopping in the kitchen, when the light under the cabinet flickered then went out. I took the outer shield off touching the bulb to see if it was loose and the light came back on and stayed on.

Coincidence, beyond the norm you may say? Possibly, but I believe not.

With spiritual belief deep within my soul, and a full heart my father’s spirit was there  that night. The smell of popcorn and the flickering light was the message. A message that let me know his spirit was there with me and how happy he was I had made the decision to keep his trailer to come back and visit.

My dad has been gone 5 years now. On sporadic occasion the smell of popcorn hover above bestowing upon me a healing sense of equanimity, leaving me with a wide blessed smile.

When a loved one has passed on and you mourn in emptiness, all the darkness can cast a light to a divine presence of spirit.

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