As part of our decluttering and reorganizing the basement, we have started to tackle the many photo albums and loose photos that we have. The first thing I did was take all of them out of the musty smelling, old albums. My husband then started to sort them into family photos, his growing up, mine growing up and ours. And also those from before we got together, his military photos and my vacation photos. The goal is to sort through them. Eliminate the duplicates. Yes, there really are three photos of me in kindergarten. And then they will be scanned and saved on a thumb drive for viewing whenever we want.
Looking through my family photos, I was struck by how many of them were tied to food. One of the first photos of me was when my mom brought me home and she is holding me in her parent’s kitchen. For my first birthday, I was placed on the table and my birthday cake was in front of me. Clutched in my hand was a piece of cake. There are other photos of us outside in the summer, faces dripping with ice cream or snow cones. I remember that they were made by my mom, who would crush up the ice in the blender and add Kool-Aid to sweeten it up. Or we would make homemade popsicles in ice-cube trays. Other photos were taken at family events, but the one constant in many of the photos was the food.
I grew up in a large blended family. My father was married before and had four children. He then married my mom and had myself and my brother. Money was always tight, but I don’t ever remember being hungry. Sunday dinners would be a big roast, potatoes, some type of veggie and milk or Kool-Aid for the kids. Dessert would be something my mom made, be it cake or cookies or pudding. That roast would make an appearance several more times during the week as leftovers. One of my favorites was roast beef and gravy over bread. The bread would make the meat stretch for several meals. Wednesday really was spaghetti day in our house. Remember the commercials in the 1970’s about Wednesday being Prince spaghetti day?
We didn’t really eat out. A treat for us would be pizza or sliders from White Castle. Pizza night would be the first Friday of the month, which was also my dad’s payday. I remember my mom would order the Family Pizza from Cold Spot. It was always thin crust and always Italian sausage. I remember that the family size was huge and fit in the back of our station wagon. Pizza night was also the only time we got to drink soda. Mom would open a bottle of Pepsi and split it among us kids. Leftover pizza was reheated in the little toaster oven. We didn’t have microwaves back then. To this day, pizza doesn’t taste good to me unless it’s reheated in a toaster oven. If not, I’d rather eat it cold.
Another rare treat would be when we would get sliders from White Castle. I remember that my dad would get a bag of 30 sliders and some fries. Each of us kids would get 3 sliders and some fries. When I moved away, I missed those little burgers. In the south, they had Krystal, which were just like White Castle. I got used to eating them and when they built a White Castle near us in Tennessee, I couldn’t wait until they opened. Once they did, I went for my slider fix and promptly discovered that I liked Krystal’s better. Taste buds change I guess.
My family was also a part of the clean plate club. Whatever food my mom put on our plates, we had to eat. And it didn’t matter how long it took you to eat. I remember getting vegetable beef soup for lunch and eating everything but the mushy vegetables. My mom wouldn’t let me leave the table until I ate all of it. I also remember the gallon of milk and my glass being filled over and over again to get me to swallow the vegetables. To this day, I will not eat vegetable beef soup. It is also probably why I find myself not wanting to eat many vegetables and may be why I am lactose intolerant. And I know that it is what contributed to my continual fight with my weight for most of my life. But it is also why I always let my son stop eating when he wanted. He doesn’t know what the clean plate club is and that’s a good thing. I guess there was a lesson learned in there along the way.
When I went away to college, I remember my dad slipping me $20 for pizza whenever I came home for the weekend. He always whispered for me not to tell my mom. Since she never slipped me any money, I have a feeling she knew. There were plenty of pizza places around my school that sold it by the slice, so that $20 went along way back then.
The food pictures didn’t stop when I married. There are the photos of the cakes that I made for my son for his birthday. I remember the Thomas the Tank Engine cake took me 4 days to finish. We were living in Louisiana and it was so humid that I could only ice a little of the cake at a time. I kept having to put it in the refrigerator to keep from melting. I also remember the pain in my back and shoulders from being hunched over as I iced it. It turned out really well and the pain was forgotten. Of course, it all came back when he asked for the same cake the next year. But it was worth it to see how happy he was.
Over time, there were less photos. Or maybe the photos are different. When before we were recording our family as it was growing, we are grown. The photos we take now are mostly of our pug and of the places that we visit. Sometimes those places involve food, but mostly they remind us of the happy times we spend together.
The state of Maryland requires any vehicle over 3 years old to have the emissions tested to make sure that the vehicle is not creating pollution and ruining the ozone layer. Vehicles are tested every two years and this year it is the Jeep’s turn. This usually means that we have to make plans to leave work early (usually me because I work closer) or go on a Saturday morning to the nearest location to get the test done. I was looking forward to this because we recently found a new pizza place near there that has a thin crust pizza that is absolutely delicious, so I figured we could get the test done and then get lunch. There is also an automatic car wash across the street, so we could cross three things off our list. Two for my husband, get the emission test and wash the Jeep. And one for me, eat yummy pizza.
As my husband was reading the material and looking for the deadline, he saw that Maryland has put emission kiosks around the state and one was at the MVA office. And it was 3 miles closer than the real emission testing station was. He was excited to see that it cost one dollar less, $10 instead of $11 and it was available 24 hours a day. We could go anytime. Hooray!!! We’d save a dollar and I wouldn’t get pizza. I heard about this kiosk every day, for more than a week, until my husband decided that Saturday would be the day.
So on Saturday we drove to the MVA, which was closed, but the kiosk was open. As we pulled up to kiosk I pointed out that my husband had driven past the sign with the instructions. He promptly informed me that he had watched a video online, so he didn’t need the sign. And besides, the instructions on the screen would walk him through things step by step. Ummm, okay.
Step 1: Scan your emission notice. Not readable. Scan again.
Step 2: Insert credit card to pay $10. Done, but the card couldn’t be read so remove card and try again.
Step 3: Turn off car and put car in park. (I think it should be put car in park and then turn car off. Keeping quiet).
Step 4: Open the door to the right and remove the emission device.
Step 5: Plug the device into the slot below your dashboard. A picture shows where to stick the plug. This takes several attempts, but eventually the plug fits in.
Step 6: Start your car.
Step 7: Wait for your car’s emission information to be downloaded. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.
Step 8: Turn off the car.
Step 9: Remove the emission device.
Step 10: Test not completed. The device could not read your car’s emission information. Your payment will be refunded.
Additional steps added:
Step 11: Husband starts cursing about the “piece of s@#t thing not working” and what a “d$%n waste of time this is.”
Step 12: Wife expected this would happen, but kept it to herself so husband wouldn’t be more upset.
Step 13: Drive back home because the real emission testing place was now closed…but next time, I’ll get my yummy pizza.