Friday, January 14, 2011
The Bed Turned Bench, a repost with photos
It was raining. Dreary day become more so.
The worship service was over. Bellies filled from feasting on Body and Blood. Voices warmed with songs sung. Sunday school finished. A weeks' worth of catching up, done...until next week. The hour long drive home, driven. And the day more than half spent. What to do with the rest of a day, set apart?
Most Sabbath afternoons I enjoy writing letters (the real kind, mind you) and sending cards to those whose lives might need a bit of brightening (there are plenty.)
Most Sabbath afternoons, we sit around the table together reading the paper and playing games. (Bananagrams, anyone? UNO, perhaps?) and then eat leftover pizza from Friday night because it is nearly time for dinner when we get home from church.
But this Sabbath, it was a different sort of day. There were plenty of letters to write, but they weren't calling to me. There was no leftover pizza from Friday.
Instead, boys went out together into the gray dampness to work on a long-time-coming surprise for Mama. Big hands creating big things like a board seat, little hands creating little things like branch swords and walking sticks . Side by side, two sets of hands taking after Creator by creating themselves.
Inside, Mama decides to spend her sabbath afternoon in the kitchen. Meatloaf sounds divine, with the "special sauce" baked on top (with a bowl for the table too). In the fridge was thawed ground beef, saved just for that purpose. Haven't had ground beef in what seems like (and probably is) months. There are dishes to do from yesterday. Meatloaf isn't meatloaf without mashed potatoes. Artisan bread, baked yesterday, sitting on the counter calls "I would taste good with supper too!" It could be warmed in the oven easily enough. And brussel sprouts....oh my-it has been ages since I tasted brussel sprouts, sprinkled with vinegar (naturally!). Green beans, too, needed to be steamed since brussel sprouts and husbands don't mix.
As my eyes scoured the kitchen, my girl knows invariably whatever is brewing in my mind will be brewing on the stove soon enough and par for course, wants in on the action.
"Can I help, Mama?" She doesn't even know what I am planning, she just wants to be there.
"I'll be making meatloaf. I think six is about time to learn how to make meatloaf. Don't you?" I wink.
"And with meatloaf, you simply MUST have creamy mashed potatoes." I say. She smiles.
"And we MUST wear aprons!" says she.
I get out the meat, plop it in a bowl and begin pouring in the ingredients. Two eggs. An onion, cut up. Mustard. Ketchup. Garlic. Lemon juice. We crush crackers over top of it all---but first we each eat one ourselves. The baby gets one too. A smidge of BBQ sauce, like the cherry on top. And then, I dig my hands in and squish. I wait for the inevitable. I know what was coming...because the scene has played out in my life the very same way, with a different cast of characters.
"Can *I* do that?!?! I think that would be SO fun! I LIKE squishy, icky things!" I hear my own voice in my girls' and remember a time when I loved nothing better than squishing ground meat, slimy eggs and hard crumbs through my fingers in my own mothers' kitchen.
We shape the loaf and plop it into an already warmed oven. She asks to peel potatoes. She loves peeling carrots, but has never done potatoes before. I show her "the method" and get to washing those dishes so I have more room to breathe. I start humming. I hear her begin to hum along. Humming turns to singing and before long we have belted out, a capella, all of Psalm 98 (three times) and chanted Psalm 84. Her voice, singing loudly with mine, is music to my ears. And His.
The big vat of waiting potatoes are only down four and already, she tires of peeling. I understand. Peeling potatoes isn't quite as fun as carrots.
I begin to peel but there she stands, waiting... It is clear again that it is not really the peeling that she wanted, but the moments with Mother being grownup. "Can I CUT the potatoes?" So I give her a sharp knife (which isn't very sharp because all our knives are insanely dull right now) and she cuts away while I peel. She thinks the knife is incredibly sharp and puffs up with pride at using such a grown-up tool.
We chat. But mostly, we work. Side by side. In the company of the other.
We make mashed potatoes. We make meatloaf. We make vegetables. We make eggnog pudding. I teach her to make the super-secret special meatloaf sauce and she feels she has been told the best secret in the world. She sets the table. I pour the drinks. We warm the bread and I slice it.
I am surprised by how much she is able to do, when given the chance. I am surprised by how old she has become, in a blink. I am surprised by how dearly she loves me, and I, her. I am surprised by how much love can be swapped peeling potatoes.
Just then, a man comes in, my one and only. "Mama, come see." So girl and I gather coats and shoes and head to garage to see the surprise... He takes my hand and leads me, blinded, through tools and wood shavings until he says "STOP. OK."
I look and there it is~ an idea I had made real...made BETTER by his own hands. It is better than I had envisioned, more regal than I thought possible. We picked the bed off the side of the road in desperation to get Panda out of crib...only to find the size bed would not accommodate a traditional mattress. It was then that I suggested we use the headboard and foot-board to make a bench. That day long ago, I didn't think it would be quite so lovely or that it would have a secret cubby.
It needs only a week of good weather for a new paint job and it will be ready!
It was a good surprise. And when we all came in, we had a good meal.
The day was filled with love, from morning 'til night....and I can't imagine a better way to spend a Sabbath.
(( Reposted from the archives to add photographs. I promised them "one day" and "one day" took forever. Partly because PAINTING took forever. Then adding pillows took forever. ))
Bed from the side of the road started out like this: (the left bed)
But the awkward size didn't fit any mattresses, so I asked Matt to build a bench out of it using the headboard as the backboard. The finished product exceeded my wildest dreams and even includes a secret storage seat. He is a clever man, he is.
And now we sit like kings and queens.