Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Tale Begins

They tell me these days that a writer without a blog won't ever be noticed in this digital world, but I come here kicking and screaming. I have not had a blog until now because 1) I doubt anyone except my parents and one or two friends give a flip about what I have to say; and 2) When I hit the 'save' button, I'm a little bit afraid that my words will float around in the air like the flu bug, and I have no idea whom they'll bite. 

As the author of a regional history, a book of essays — and a former newspaper columnist  — I've been here a few times before, wondering where these words of mine will end up. Though I have not had a 'blog' until now, my essays, posted on paper in a reasonably large daily newspaper garnered more than a few emails now and then. I show up on Google, which in and of itself is a thrill, so long as I don't read anything terrible about myself, or my books, for that matter.  In the hits I do find, my name isn't always spelled right, though.

I read blogs sometimes, most often to see what's going on out there in the writing world, as I sit in front of the computer, writing. Recently The Red Room had a first post for author Amy Tan, who wondered why in the world anyone would want to read her everyday ramblings. So even the best writers out there wonder how that works. 

As I write the blog, I have no theme in mind, just an idea that since I've not written much in the form of personal essay/observation in a few years (a real job has kept me from that), it's time I got back to it. I hope from time to time to post a few excerpts from the novel I am writing, just to see if anybody is paying attention. (Not my mother, of course.) And it is one more thing to distract me from cleaning my house.

Today finds me waiting for a refrigerator repairman to come between the hours of 1-5 p.m. (in theory), to replace the computer board on my three-year-old appliance. In the mornings when I come to the kitchen to make coffee, the click and groan, click and groan of the ailing fridge greets me. At 50, I click and groan in reply. 

How can this happen to my refrigerator in just three years? (I know how it happened to me) The very same years when my children have left this nest, and the fridge no longer gets that much use. Maybe she's feeling neglected, since I don't cook as much as I used to. No doubt the old fridge, which now stands guard in our garage holding cold drinks and extra ice for when the kids do come home, has let that fact slip through the wall to Mrs. New.

This is the third refrigerator in my 26-year marriage. My parents, in 56 years, have also had three I think, the first a small model with rounded shoulders like a grandmother, ready with arms filled with treasures, like frozen chocolate pie and cold fried chicken, just for your taking. 

We moved into a new house when I was five and brought that chubby grandmother with us, our fingers sticking fast to the metal ice trays when we filled glasses for our tea and Kool-Aid. In my memory she stayed with us for many years, until my mother bought her first side-by-side in the 1970s, though I'm sure that can't be correct. Now my mother has a giant fridge with ice and water on the door, where she keeps tiny jars filled with leftovers from the suppers she cooks for my father. Sometimes when I'm home, I look through them, searching for her stewed tomatoes, leftover meatloaf or broccoli casserole, hoping to steal a bite or two to capture a moment, once more, of home.

My children never really liked 'layovers to catch meddlers' as my mother always called that supper when she tired of cooking. When my kids were small, they didn't like foods that 'touched,' so out went the casseroles and conjealed salads my mother used to make. I loved her layovers to catch meddlers, much more so than the shad roe she used to scramble on Sunday nights, or the corned beef hash that showed up on occasion. (My mother-in-law used to tell my husband and his sisters when they balked at her food to 'Stick around. Something you like is bound to come around in a few days.')

So as I cooked for my own family, I calculated just enough to cover the meal and rarely more. These days, though, when I make spaghetti or soup, I make large batches, freezing them to send back with son to college or my daughter to The City, or to pull out for my husband and me when I am too busy to cook. That's why I bought Mrs. New, with her bottom freezer, so those quarts of soup and stew could fit (and so I could feel a little bit more hip, like Rachel Ray.) I should have consulted my own clicks and groans before I decided on a freezer that required bending down to clean.

Let's hope it can be fixed, and with little outlay of funds, since I thought I was buying an expensive enough fridge as to avoid repair at all for at least 10 years. Already I've had to replace the vegetable bin because the plastic broke. I can't help thinking that plastic might not have been the answer for The Graduate after all.


The repairman showed just minutes before I should have gone to my workout (to add to my store of clicks and groans), setting his tiny toolbox and computer on my kitchen counter. A computer? He didn't have to open to door to hear the click, diagnosing the problem in two seconds, typing the serial number in on the keyboard and telling me the date I had bought my Profile. I couldn't remember which year. She is not as old as I thought. It is a good thing living in the digital age, that GE (so many others) can refresh my memory should I lose it completely.

And so, there is no more click and groan, except in my bones. I'll miss the company in the morning. My profile hums a little like she always did, just waiting for me to go back to the grocery store and fill her up. She may not be as stout as the one my family owned 50 years ago, but she does like a few layovers to catch meddlers to keep her company when the lights are off.

I'll end now, hoping to post again in a few days. And if you don't like what you see, hang around. Something worth digesting is bound to show up before too long.