It’s Sunday evening, and I’m just now sitting down to have Coffee Share. Kind of made me think of “Coffee Hour” at church – that weekly tradition of coffee that is too hot mixed with nasty Cremora powder to wash down chunks of donut or stale coffee cake – if you’re lucky! Or, it could be Mrs. Fiorello’s week, with the things that looked like peanuts but turned out to be soybeans that have a vague aftertaste of mothball… I don’t recall how many times we fell for that before learning to check who was signed up to host.
Then there were those disgusting pimento cheese sandwiches they used to cut into triangles… On a good week some one would bring in homemade Rice Krispy treats, and we’d go home bouncing off the walls…
If coffee wasn’t your thing, enjoy the Kool Aid. I gave up Church Kool Aid a while ago – that’s part of the reason I’m divorced now, thank you very much.
Stepping away from all of that, the time of day and the idea of hot caffeinated beverages made me think of sweet, milky tea and toast, and maybe a bit of cheese and a cookie – tea time at the Grandparents’ house as a little kid.
Looking back, I realize they were geographically much closer than they seemed – the distance between Deltona and Tampa driving along I-4. But we didn’t visit them every weekend. We visited during holidays, and for a week or two during summer vacation, and random times throughout the year. It was always exciting at first, but we did grow bored after a few days. Especially when they were watching the news on television, and we had to be quiet…
Then, there was Lawrence Welk…
My grandparents (Mom’s side) and great-grandparents (her mother’s parents) all lived together for as long as I can remember. My father’s mother had a house within a couple of miles of ours, but was often traveling around the world, sending us post cards and bringing home dolls from other countries.
I’m lucky that my maternal grandmother is still alive and doing fairly well for her age, though she has quite a few aches and pains these days. My maternal grandfather passed away just a few years ago, after a battle with cancer. He also suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, and toward the end he had to live in assisted living.
My great grandparents also lived a long life – Gram died when I was 11, Grandad survived until my last year at Florida State University.
In the evening, they would all sit down to tea. It marked the end of the night, a calming ritual before bed time. Of course, being from England (my grandmother came to America on the first ship of war brides after WWII, and her parents followed soon after) tea was served several times a day. Nanu (my grandfather) didn’t like tea, so he would drink coffee.
The evening tea always remains in my mind and my heart, however, because it signaled the end of the day, and it left me feeling safe and calm.
Aside from holidays that happened to fall on Sunday, we would also have a glorious Sunday dinner at their house. Almost every Sunday we spent in their house involved an early dinner (around 3 pm) of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, peas, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Sometimes there would be additional vegetables, but I usually avoided them like any finicky little kid.
Their house had three different places set up for meals: a formal dining room that I can’t recall ever being used to eat, a smaller dining area right off the kitchen and close to the den, and a big table in the “Florida room.” When I think of the big dinner, I think of the Florida room, and tea was at the table near the kitchen.
Their house in Tampa was fascinating. Nanu was a carpenter, and built the thing.
On one side of the house were three bedrooms. The master bedroom was HUGE, and we slept in their room on little folding chair beds, unless my parents weren’t also visiting – then we might sleep in the guest room.
The master bathroom was tiled in blue, with a blue toilet and bathtub, and blue cats on the counter. Oh, and there was this weird tissue box cover that was a grinning head with fuzzy blue hair that I used to like to style.
When we were really lucky, there might be a wolf spider (a.k.a. “Mr. Big”) hiding on the bathtub wall, waiting for us to turn on the slightly sulfuric smelling water that came from their well.
My great grandparents shared their bathroom with the guest room, also on the same side of the house. The hallway led to the family room, living room, dining room and front door. The living room and dining room also had an entrance that led to the kitchen, as did the family room. It was all sort of a circle. The Florida room had entrances to the family room, a window into the kitchen, a door that led outside, and a door into a hallway on the other side of the house… the side that held a bathroom (this one had funny signs over the commode) a huge utility and storage room that also happened to have a second set of kitchen appliances, and more counters, shelves, and closets. It was our favorite room in which to play “hotter-colder,” hiding our toys.
Then, there was a pantry. The pantry had a desk and an exercise bike. Yes, I know – that’s just weird.
By the pantry was the garage that was never used to house cars – that was why they built the carport. The garage held a couple of dogs and a dart board, chalk board, some interesting old chairs and giant milk cans. Oh, and the scooter my grandfather made out of a skateboard and some plywood.
They were innocent times. I miss the way the days seemed to drag on forever in the summer, and playing in the Florida room. Oh, and that creepy mask thing that spit and cackled, that was above the sink (there was a wet bar in that room) in said Florida room…
I haven’t made Yorkshire Pudding in years (partly due to egg allergies that seem to run in the family…) and I have no rusted milk cans, but if you come on over, I can make you a cup of tea with milk (sugar optional!) and if you’re really nice, maybe I’ll let you pet the ceramic cats for luck.