Our Words, Our Actions Will Make a Difference

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Marjie Johnson McGraw

We don’t send one another gifts, we are probably at opposite ends of the ‘pole’ on many issues.  Many issues that is except what it means to be a friend.

Marjie is a friend to me in every sense of the word.  If you read my recent post about the ABUNDANCE OF FRIENDSHIPS on the Arkansas Women Bloggers site:

http://arkansaswomenbloggers.com/beautiful-abundance-gift-friendship/  

Remember the question Doug Smith asked?

“Is there anything I can do to make your life easier?”

I was humbled. It was something I will, obviously never forget. His quote and so many others changed me.

There are the Doug Smiths of this world, those working tirelessly to help so many others; and then there are the Marjie McGraws. Grateful to have both in my life.

Marjie is quiet, unassuming and always making my life easier.  She has never been unavailable when I’ve needed her — through both our years as new business owners and later, as we became the main caregivers for our parents.

 Marjie is a friend through THICK AND THIN!  To coin a phrase from Gloria Gaither’s book of the same name……

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She is there – now the only one of us still lucky enough to have her Mother.  She has always understood my need  for conversations of substance in good and bad times.

She is one of a kind.  She ‘gets’ it. She is Important to me.

For the remainder of December I want to share more about those in my life who are threaded through the fabric of who I am. Want them to know what they mean to me,  we can all learn from their behavior as friends…..

and BTW — this is the ONLY photo I can find of Marjie — and she will probably kill me for posting — but I must. Marjie has made the difference in my life.

Next up?  Stay tuned.

Thank you for reading.

Chicken and Dumplings

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Last night I made traditional Chicken n Dumplings  ‘thinking’ I was getting back to basics using a frozen package of  prepared dumplings.  This is as close as I am ever going to get to authentic dumplings — unless you come over and make them for me!

These dumplings, while authentic were still not as good as my aunt’s.

I asked myself “why was I feeling the need for this dish anyway? I prefer grilled foods and , have never made chicken and dumplings in my life.”

Then I remembered my aunt – Odean – making dumplings.  She had just discovered the newest, most clever fast food version of homemade dumplings!

Odean Floyd Reynolds was standing at her stove, pot of chicken broth boiling as she looked over to me, eyes twinkling, telling me how happy, proud to make dumplings not from her tried and true recipe, but from cutting up tortillas and adding them to the broth.

I’m smiling and a little teary-eyed,  remembering that precise moment in time.  It’s as real to me, being there, in her kitchen on Ridgecrest in Little Rock as if she was actually standing in that kitchen as I write this.  You’ve had this feeling before, haven’t you? At least I hope you have.  Such warm memories.

10863789_10153484565231487_8376278462805336207_o-2George Marvin Reynolds Jr.  and his wife, Odean Floyd Reynolds.

Am I wishing to go back in time for her Chicken and Dumplins?  No.  I’m wishing to go back in time with her and for the warmth of the moment.  It’s a joy, tho’ bittersweet as I recall Aunt Odean  in her element – cooking for others.  I’m loving this sweet moment with her even tho’ she has no idea now.  Can’t really call her, it just causes her confusion and that’s not fair.   So I capture moments as best I can, significant memories in my life.

I know since my Father, then my Mother’s death,  life has never nor will it ever be the same.

When Parilee Croft, Art on the Green’s Artist-in-Residence showed me her commissioned watercolors of her family recipes, I was immediately in love with this work. These  commissioned watercolors, albeit the size of a postcard, are a really sweet way to remember another, and a specific moment in one’s life.

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My own Mother, beloved as she was did not really love cooking until later in life.   She didn’t have time to learn but she had  pockets of great moments with recipes we still cherish.  Cookbooks by groups and churches help preserve, but it’s the original watercolors, framed and in a place of honor in one’s kitchen that really singles out those special moments.   My Mother made the best chili on the planet and I’m still trying to track down that recipe.  This is why I think every family needs one original watercolor for each family cook.  Preserve the moment — it’s not the recipe that’s so important it’s the moment.  Who has given you a moment?

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Parilee Croft with her beloved Kep

I do not have the recipe for her my Aunt’s dumplins, and wish I could look at a small watercolor, framed in my kitchen to preserve that moment. But I don’t.  I would even be happy :) with her chocolate cake recipe or the chicken and rice casserole she served at a dinner party when she forgot to debone the chicken! Yes, we laughed and laughed!

Odean and my uncle George had no children, and were always entertaining in their home.

She’ll be making Chicken and Dumplings when He comes . . . .

But this is what I AM doing – Having recipes by close family members preserved with an original watercolor.

Recently another aunt – by my request – sent me several recipes on index cards. For a long time I’ve had the privilege of making her homemade sweet pickles, enjoying the rave reviews as if they were my own!  (Who said ”steal from me, steal twice?”)

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For Christmas I commissioned a watercolor of the Sweet Pickles to give my aunt.  I wanted her to have as part of her original art collection.  Now, she can pass along to her son or anyone else in the family.  Probably her daughter-in-law,  Hannah Robinson who puts Martha Stewart to shame with her Mom and work skills.

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Hannah Robinson

As I contemplate which recipe to preserve next, I wonder should it be the disaster German Chocolate Cake I made for my nephew’s birthday that was finally served in parfait glasses?  He might remember anyway, but I don’t want to take the chance.

What kitchen memory do you hold dear?

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