Friday, November 23, 2012

How Lefse Makes a Marriage

Today is the day after Thanksgiving. It was going to be a pajama day. My only plan was to wake up as late as I wanted. Have a leisurely morning. A putts, pitter, pattering, relaxing sort of day.

I got up early yesterday morning.

Made two pumpkin pies. Gave one to the neighbor.

Started the roll dough's first rising.

Sauced the cranberries.

Peeled potatoes.

Prepared grandma's stuffing. I now add dried cranberries and pine nuts to her sacred cow recipe. Hope she doesn't see everything from heaven.

Whipped the cream stiff and chilled it for later.

Prepped that ugly onion topped green bean casserole. Loverby doesn't think it's Thanksgiving without it.

Drank lots of coffee. Some with Baily's Irish Cream. No, you don't need to know.

Set the table with a tablecloth and candles.

In between one daughter coming home from work and another heading off to a required all night shift for Black Friday - we had our meal. We were glad to be together under the candles' glow. We had some time to lean back in our chairs and catch up with each other before the tired one and the leaving one did the next right thing. Go to sleep and go to work, respectively.

Loverby helped me clean up. It was easy. He had been cleaning up after me all day. Keeping the sink empty of dirty dishes, the dishwasher running, and putting pots and pans away to be used again. I thanked him over and over again.

Now comes the making of a marriage part. The part outside the lens of the lovely day I've panned especially for you, maybe causing a bit of envy. Just another one of our smooth, seamless, successful holidays. Right? Happens all the time. Wrong. Making a marriage is messy. Like lefse. 

We have a small, inefficient kitchen. Two people in it makes a crowd. Loverby got a wild hair to make his traditional Norske lefse, while I was making Thanksgiving. I wasn't thankful about that. There is a day ahead prep to this lefse undertaking. He had to peel a bag of potatoes and store the huge pan holding them covered with water somewhere. The mess and the crowding made me a little cranky. I tried not to show it. I wasn't thankful he wanted to make lefse this day.

As we sat at dinner with just the four of us, I wanted to cry. The sadness of it being just us felt so lonely. I love to cook. It isn't hard at all. But, when we were all finished after only 20 minutes - when it took all day to make the meal - I had a let down. I hated it that the girls had to sleep and work. I wanted 30 members of our extended family to sit around and make music and play games till the wee hours of the morning. Like the old days. My heart ached, heartburn happened.....and it wasn't the food.

Before Loverby and I went to bed we had a small goblet of eggnog with a splash of Irish Cream. Mine was salt rimmed with tears. It was just the two of us. Tasted like a bitter margarita going down.

This morning, the morning I was supposed to sleep in, Loverby woke me with a fresh mug of coffee and a request for his rolling pen sock. He knows I'm not a morning person even after my first cup. What on earth was he thinking. Graciously, he said, "Drink your coffee, love. We'll find it later." I wanted to pull the covers over my head and have a do over. Or scream.

I looked and looked for that missing rolling pen sock. You don't necessarily need one for pie crust, but it is a must for rolling out the ultra sensitive/tender lefse dough.

Hair in my face, robe coming untied, peepers in my eyes, I looked hard for that thing. With a flashlight in the dark corners. On my knees. Banging noise shocking the morning awake. No sock to be found. Stupid sock. I was saving my second cup for a finder's reward.

He called one store after another with no luck. Finally our own little Arlington Hardware had one. The gal who answered the phone asked, "Are you making lefse?" "Yes," Loverby said, as if she was a long lost relative, properly empathetic with his plight.

He got his rhythm. Rolling the balls out, picking them up with his stick, laying them on the griddle, turning them. All is well. Not so. Halfway through the batch of dough, he suspects the flour won't hold out. Wet batch this year. I still haven't had my second cup. I don't deserve a reward. I lost the darn rolling pen sock again. Can a person have some Irish Cream in their coffee at 6:00?

I put my shoes and coat on. Went out in the freezing rain to the store for flour. I start feeling sorry for myself on the way there. Crazy man. Lefse after a Thanksgiving meal? We're already fat enough. This was supposed to be a relaxing day. Tears start. Pitiful, pity party tears. Deluge.

Then I recalled all the times he has heated my bean bag for cramps, bought me feminine supplies, put gas in my car, brought home dinner. I remember him tucking the covers over me, bringing me babies to nurse at night, making me a beautiful garden shed. I thought of all the times he thinks mostly of me and my pleasure, not his. Images of his kindness and thoughtfulness started flooding my heart. The water had to flow somewhere. It came out and down. Birthwaters for something better.

I walked in the door and gave him the flour. He smiled as he lifted one off the grill - as if flour was the most precious gift I could give him.

We all take turns hovering over the lefse griddle as one after another slips warm off on the lefse stick. It gets folded, but is promptly unfolded, buttered, and sugared. I quickly change my mind about how inconvenient this stuff was to make. My heart melted like butter in the rolled up lefse.

There was always a plate of it on the table for his Thanksgiving tradition growing up. I learned to love it, there on the North Dakota prairie with a table full of Norwegians telling dry humored stories.

We needed lefse today. We were without.  Family.

Thank you Loverby. We're such a mess. Let's stay together in our crowded kitchen for always.


Anonymous said...

Great picture of real life, Kathleen! This is lefsa land out here in Minnesota, too. I had never had it before being here, but I know that where you are is Scandinavian territory as well. YUM!!

Anonymous said...

a cool tradition
even in a tight kitchen

Anonymous said...

Hi Honey
It has been awhile since I have read your blog, but tonight I am sitting here with tears rolling down my face from laughing so hard, I can picture it all.
We really missed having you here yesterday, there is always this big empty spot at the table.
This was really reading would love to give you a big hug and kiss from your MOm

Louise Gallagher said...

Ok -- so, I just finished watching all of the video Glynn shares today at Faith. Fiction.Friends -- not just the son and father singing, and now I read this.

I'm starting my day in tears.

and I'm still on my first cup of coffee.

Thank you Kathleen -- what a beautiful story and reminder to treasure that which is most important -- Love.

Jennifer @ said...

This is Lefse territory here, and I so want to learn how to make it. (I loved your story, Kathleen. You're such a great storyteller.)

Susan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan said...

I feel your pain. Expect a phone call - soon.

Monica Sharman said...

Really appreciated this. Thank you.
And I would say the answer is yes (to the thing about Irish Cream in coffee at 6).