Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ode to my Oven

 Ode to my Oven
(AKA Decent Poetry Takes a Holiday, as does my Oven)

Oh oven, dear oven
Why hast thou forsaken me?
Cookies, pies, and cake
Were supposed to bake
To perfection
In your toasty tummy.

Now no heat radiates.
No delicious smells emanate,
To make us anticipate
The delicacy on the plate.

Christmas draws ever near
And it appears painfully clear
That the repairman won't appear
Before the beginning of the year.

No Chex mix, no cupcakes,
No casseroles or strudel.
No brioche, no biscuits,
No shortbread or noodles.
You may hear me exclaim
As I drive out of sight,
"The oven's not working,
It's pizza tonight!"

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Road Home

If you take I-35 South out of Norman, you will soon come across Exit 104, Goldsby/Washington.  Take that exit and keep going south on Highway 24. 
You will drive about seven miles before coming to this sign.  As you approach the town, there is a three-way stop.  Turn right.  Welcome to Washington, Oklahoma, in McClain County.  The town was named after George Washington, an Indian Chief, who once lived in the area.  (I have forgotten the name of his tribe.)

Washington is a small town - just a dot on the map.  When I was a Senior in high school, way back in 1979, we only had 151 students from Kindergarten through 12th Grade.  (I know this because I was editor of the Yearbook and had to count those photos more than once.)  The town is a little bigger now.  I think there are a few hundred in school and there is a four-way stop at the intersection of Main Street and Highway 24.  There is even a set of apartments.  There are four churches, a Senior Citizens' Center, one convenience store, a medical supply store, and a bakery/cafe, but not much else.  There used to be a bank and a movie theater way back in the 1920s, but those burned down and were never rebuilt.  More recently, there was a cotton gin, Maynard's Drug, Haxel's Hardware, Burns' Mill, Clyde's Barber Shop, Keith's Grocery, a domino hall, and a laundromat.  Retirement, illness, death, and the economy took care of those, however.  They are now and forever only in the town's collective memory. 

My grandparents owned the drug store.  (See my previous post from October 1st about that, if you are interested.)  They lived southwest of town in this house.  They built the house in the 1950s.

Grandchildren and Great-Grandchildren loved to come visit.  There was a ping-pong table in the basement, a trap door with a secret entrance (which was really a laundry chute, but no child would ever want to believe that!), fields to run in and play softball, a barn to explore, two ponds for swimming and fishing, a huge front porch with a swing, and countless cows, chickens, dogs, and cats.  When the cousins were at Grandmother's house, everyone wanted to be there, too.  Dominoes, Rook (with special Maynard Family rules), and teasing the children were standard game play for the adults.

Granddaddy passed away in 1987.  Grandmother lived alone for several years before her health forced my mother to move in with her around 2002, in order to help care for her.  My mom was the oldest of the six children and the only one of to be widowed, so it worked out well.

Grandmother lived a good and full life, surrounded by her family and friends.  She passed away on September 26, 2010, five days before her 101st birthday.  My mother currently stays at the house part-time, but is preparing to move back to her own home.  My mother and aunts and uncles have not yet decided what to do with the house and land.

My mother is 81 now and I haven't lived in the Washington area for over twenty-two years.  But this is the place I was raised and it is a big part of who I am.  There is a peaceful feeling that descends over me when I recognize the red dirt in the landscape and I know that I am truly home.

But I am struck by the question of how much longer will I be traveling this road to home?  ...and it makes me a little bit sad.