Yesterday I took two steps forward and then found them three steps behind me. Just do not have the patience for this week. This morning my hair was looking a bit Rod Stewart and I was dressed in my favorite long skivvies and Eagles tee-shirt, when the church ladies knocked on the door. They’d already seen me through the window, so it was too late to hide in the pantry, as I’ve been known to do. I answered the door, and not wanting to hurt their feelings, instead explained I’d been diagnosed with an unidentified virus, something loosely involving intestinal worms and we had been quarantined until further notice. Is that bad? They truly are the nicest ladies, but speaking for myself, religion is a personal area of my life that I choose to muddle through the mysteries of for myself.
I married into a large Irish Catholic family the first time. Fun, boisterous, and fiercely committed to their religion. All five children had been brought to task by the nuns at the local Catholic school and church, for them, was not an option but a responsibility not taken lightly. I, on the other hand, had been raised to attend church as a child. Devoutly, my grandmother never missed a service unless ill, and made sure that my spiritual education did not go untended. On Sundays I went to Sunday School in an adjacent building while she attended services in the beautiful old church with the adults.
The church, St. Paul’s, holds the distinction of being the oldest protestant church in Canada, and was the very first church erected in Halifax. Adding to the history of the old building, during the enormous explosion in Halifax harbor in 1917 which destroyed most of the city, St. Paul’s continued to stand but a window was shattered on the upper level leaving the silhouette of a human head in the glass.
After my father passed away unexpectedly at twenty-five, my mother, for reasons of her own, stopped going. Instead, she chose to stay home and prepare supper, the only large meal we ate midday during the week, with the early dining hour reserved only for Sunday’s. Sunday evenings we had a light meal of soup or sandwiches served on trays in the family room while my grandfather chuckled at I Love Lucy on the small screen of our only TV. Yup, prime time. Old, yes, I know, dirt is younger.
Once we left my grandmother’s house and moved to California, my religious training, left in the hands of my mother, went fallow. At one point in high school looking for answers to questions I had on the subject, I was recruited by a kind of splinter religious group. In the end, it was my mother who saved me from being integrated into their cult and swallowed up into their strange world. My step-brother, older by two years, but more vulnerable, was not so lucky. Hanging on the precipice of his eighteenth birthday, and high on the draft list for Viet Nam, he was an easy mark. Before we knew it, he had disappeared from home. About a month later, members of the cult climbed through his bedroom window stripping the room of everything but the light sockets, leaving only some painted remarks on the wall to let us know who to thank for the extra room. Never saw his face again, and the only communication I ever had with him was a post card several years later with a New Zealand postmark simply reading “I’m okay”.
I met my first husband soon after high school, and soon found myself engaged. Being Catholic, it was important for him to be married in his church. To this end, it seemed that I, a non-Catholic, was required to take classes with him before this was sanctioned. There were three class sessions. The first, presided over by a parish priest, the second a counselor, and the last a married couple. The classes, as explained to me, were to provide me with an understanding of the workings of the church, what was expected of me with regards to raising the children, and to prepare us for marriage.
I remember the priest vividly. A tall, wiry Irishman in his twenties with a plethora of nervous tics, who smoked one cigarette after another as though the world’s supply of tobacco was rapidly dwindling and his next cigarette might be his last. He spoke to us of marriage at length, and what it entailed. I must admit I found myself wondering where this wealth of knowledge imparted on us was amassed from, but I listened politely.
At the second session, the counselor, a young woman perhaps early thirties, instructed the women in the group on the importance of having a hot meal on the table every night, multiplying often (I do not mean 4 x 7), listening intently to our men as they spoke, and most of all be obedient. Really? I was still chewing on the hot meal. I found myself wondering if it was only that it was hot that counted, or did it have to taste good as well? If it had to taste good, I may already be in default on the program because I had no clue how to make a meal.
On the third session the floor was held by a couple in their mid-forties, I would say. During that lesson we were told what marriage was about in the Biblical sense, as well as how to create healthy communication and keep the marriage fresh and moving forward. They had been married for twenty years and informed us that when they wanted to get frisky, if you will, she swatted him with a dish towel. I made a mental note to be sure to keep a ready supply of such towels on hand.
After our training, we were married in a high mass on the hottest Saturday of the year by my husband’s uncle, who was a monsignor. It was an interesting time in my life. I learned a lot and took with me what I felt I would need down the road.
Have a great day! This is a unique and interesting take on creamed spinach that I really like. I would post the pictures but it seems my granddaughter deleted them. Two steps forward, three back. Give it a try.
Cheesy Creamed Spinach
6 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 2/3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 tsp. group nutmeg
3/4 cup sour cream
3 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spray a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray. Melt butter in large skillet over med-high heat. Add onion, mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Saute for 3 mins. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and saute 2 mins. more.
Add heavy cream, Parmesan cheese and nutmeg. Heat until the cream is thick and bubbly, stirring often. Remove pan from heat. Add sour cream, spinach, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour into prepared dish. Bake until golden and bubbly, about 20-25 mins.