Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Porch Posies

I rarely use my front doors, but with the shady area I am able to have a slew of color without the plants getting burned. At the end of the season, I will plant the English ivy as a ground cover. You can see what I planted last summer peeking from the lower left corner. It is climbing up the bricks near the living room window.  Ivy is for my gramma.

I do wish I could have these all year long. Guess it's soon time for silk to make its appearance until spring. I wonder if I will have a nesting dove again come March.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Stranded In Time

For the first sixteen  years of my five plus decade life, my maternal grandparents lived close by. They were either in the apartment next door, the house next door or the rental  flat upstairs. The last few years of their lives, the duplex we shared with them was one of the few places I truly felt safe. My grampa had used his retirement money from AC Sparkplug to help my parents make the down payment on the house off DuPont and Hamilton Streets in Flint, thus removing us kids from the ghetto hellhole that north of downtown was becoming. It was quite a change to sit on a front porch and not fear being shot in the evening, altho I have never gotten past that fear of guns. This neighborhood soon took a similar road into hell, but I have been gone almost 40 years. The rest of the family chose to stay as a brother died young, each parent died, a sister died, a fire and finally foreclosure. 2010 is the end of any life for that house. It will likely be torn down leaving another empty scarred lot inside the city.

Even after my gramma died in spring 1966, I still spent a lot of  time with my grampa, going so far as to lie to my mom as to why I could not do the laundry for her or swab the wood floors. I would tell her I had to make grampa supper or dust for him (we were often watching the ball game).  I did confess it every Saturday morning  at St Mike's but I always felt it was an acceptable lie. My grampa needed me. So I said my penance and went about the same scenario the next week.

Aging crevices of my memory are filled with faded photographs and 16mm black and white movies from those years that I can't take to the developer to print  on glossy paper or burn to a DVD. Often a memory is triggered from some innocent occurrence while out and about or a flash of a face in a dream. Such was the case this past week when I stopped at Bed Bath and Beyond. I was looking for a yogurt machine and instead came away with a rerun memory of a simpler time reflected in green glass.

Hubby and I were strolling up and down the kitchen aisles at Bed Bath and Beyond,  not finding a yogurt maker, and I stated the cast iron Dutch oven was way  overpriced as I simply wanted it for making rustic bread. I remembered how my gramma always used cast iron, and one particular pan always hosted the creamy potatoes and onions mix I loved as a kid. But $100 for a pot? I think not.  So we were making our way out of the aisle targeting the front door, when a piece of glass caught my eye. I picked the item up, turning it over in my hands and all the morning breakfasts spent with my gramma came flooding back to me.

This simple glass kitchen gadget (14.99-what a rip off!)  brought out the anger and sadness I have been trying to get past involving my mom, my brother and the house I grew up in. Some of you reading this know a bit or lots of bits involving this life story  for the past few years. They are chapters  best told on my other blog when the time line gets there. I just wasn't expecting to see this item in a store, what with all the electronic toys we try to cram into our kitchens.

Here is a similar item (above) to what I remembered as a kid. I always saw this on my gramma's breakfast table. As I got older, I was also allowed to ream the lemons or oranges for juice. I don't remember my gramma ever buying pre-juiced juice in a bottle or jar. She purchased lemons or oranges whole and when I begged, a grapefruit or two for me (I loved the red fleshed ones). Luckily, gramma also had a friend who lived in southern Florida who every Christmas sent us a crate full of ripe (and sometimes over ripe) globes of Floridian sunshine. I can still smell the aroma of citrus, altho I can no longer partake due to stomach issues.

This juicer/reamer was a freebie back in the Depression. Every week at the local theatre called the Strand, there was a dish night/towel giveaway or something similar. I remember a cookbook where kids got special stickers to complete. The cook book is still somewhere in mom's house along with this green gem and its matching casserole dish. Gramma used the larger dish with lid to hold her bacon drippings. It was always on the middle shelf of her Frigidaire icebox , ready for fried eggs or those yummy potatoes I mentioned above. Gramma knew how to re-use everything, a true recycler way ahead of her time. Sadly, many others were also doing the same thing during the Depression and the follow up decade into WW2.

***You can see the Strand Theatre in this photo in the lower right corner next to the Mott Building in downtown Flint. It's no longer there altho the Mott Building is still majestic in its architectural beauty. (The alley behind these buildings is where I met hubby-no, not IN the alley, but in a hole in the wall bar where I got my first waitress job)***

My gramma's juicer has a chip on the edge. It was I who chipped it when I was in second grade, as I offered to wash the lunch dishes so gramma could watch her soap As The World Turns. Even that is gone now. I tried to hide the chip but was crying so hard, she knew something was amiss. After gramma died, grampa used the juicer himself. He always had a bit of orange juice for breakfast. Eventually the juicer and the casserole along with most other items from their estate made their way into the everyday life of our household. The sleeper sofa was still in the living room when the house was foreclosed on. All those touchable memories are still inside four walls. I imagine at this point the house has been ransacked, while squatters perhaps spend a night or two. My brothers took what they could quickly sell on eBay, leaving untold treasures behind.  What I find to be valuable is mostly junk to others, but I have emotions attached to my junk. Thus, they become treasures. I just can't touch the treasures anymore.

My reveries when writing this blog post tonight are mostly about what I value  from the actuals in my life. I collect Superman comics, trivia books, rubber stamps, odd dishes, fabric, and other sorts of things, not with any thought to how much their worth is upon  selling them but to the joy and memories they brings to me now.  I don't think my talking Jar Jar Binks puppet from Star Wars will be high on anyone's list of must have items, but I smile whenever I play with it. Eventually some items may have a monetary value far exceeding what I paid for them but it doesn't matter at this point.

I don't have the green Depression juicer in my possession. I never will. I don't have my mom's wedding gown to fashion into a Christening gown for Baby Scholl. I never will. I don't have any baby photos of myself. I never will. I don't have the chair my grampa sat on while he called his Canadian family to sob that his beloved Nana was no longer with him. I never will. But I do have those memories, those instant photos stuck in my head, some very deeply hiding until a glimmer of glass refreshes them.


Thursday, September 09, 2010

Olio's Cafe and Grill

Edited to add on November 18, 2013. Sadly, Olio's has shut its doors and is no longer in business.  I had an email for a burger special last week but nothing saying the place was closing. I will say, I know the business has been for sale even tho it was not "out there" but listed on the real estate sites online. Olio's in recent months was not the same as when I wrote this review over three years ago.  They had added breakfast, weekday specials for burgers or fish and chips, coupons for buy one get one dinners and they did get that liquor license that took forever. BUT the food was not nearly as good, and to me, the atmosphere was more everyday ho hum than everyday special.  I wish it was otherwise. 

ETA  Directions/Address 1072 Elms Road Flint (just north of Corunna and on same side as Flint Iceland Arena  Map  If you pass Calkins Road, you went too far. On the left side going north on Elms.

We don't get many quality eateries in the Genesee County area these days. Usually anything new opening up and actually staying open is along the lines of fast food, burger joints/coney islands or buffets (another word for deep fried and greasy). So imagine my surprise when the repaved road over the Flint River opened last week (after three months down) and this sign lit up the night! I didn't know what sort of cuisine was going to be had but I spied cloth napkins thru the windows!

So tonight on a dull, cloudy Wednesday we decided to give it a try.  The lot was not really busy but that is par for many sit down eateries mid week, in general . I was almost startled to be greeted by a host when I barely had the door open. We were immediately greeted by our waiter Emily, who was so cheery and remarked that she had done the Crim (after seeing hubby's wind jacket with the Crim logo).   While getting our beverages, she also highly recommended the Bruschetta with its fresh ingredients. Bread? Me? You betcha!

I was pleasantly surprised  to find that Emily is also a vegetarian, so she was able to inform me of all the secret ingredients (Minestrone is NOT vegetarian made with a combo beef/veggie broth) but the Marinara sauce is! (I always thought Marinara was vegetarian but not so, as twice locally it had chicken broth).

Hubby had tortellini soup while I chose a salad with my "surprise me-on the side" dressing and the accompanied bread with garlic (almost cake like and topped with lightly crumbly cheese). This bread was sooooo goooood. I could have eaten just it. A small bowl of balsamic vinegar with olive oil and rosemary poured over  was a side for dipping. We were later brought a second helping of this and the chef came over to chat and welcome us. He also brought a menu for me to take home

This dish is called Spaghetti Trapanese to which I had spinach added to give it a little oomph in color. I would say it was a large serving that would have fed minimum two but closer to three. Very hot, very fresh and just the right amount of sauce as I am not a sauce person. The sauce was tomato, olive oil, basil and garlic.  If I had the choice, the only difference would have been some toasted pine nuts on the top for extra crunch.

Here is the yummy Bruschetta with the garlic bread in the background.

Hubby had the Chicken Cremosi which had a lemon cream sauce over some dead chicken but you are not getting a photo. We don't do eyeballs here. But he enjoyed it and it was a very generous serving of two dead cluck breasts. There was a side of spaghetti with chunky sauce which comes with most meaty dishes.

All entrees include soup or salad and the garlic bread. Entrees start at $9.99 thru $13.99 except for a few specialties like filet or lamb but the most expensive was under $20. They have a burger/sub lunch menu but there was only a veggie sub and no veggie burger listed. Since I am not a lunch person to begin with, that won't affect me. Lunch with fries and an 8" sub tallies up  for $7.49. Children can eat for $4.99 and homemade desserts are also available.

When I Googled Olio's tonight, there was not one hit online. They don't have a website yet as they only opened two weeks ago and are waiting on the applied for liquor license. The bar area is already set up and there is a large meeting/conference/party room off the main dining area. I promised them their first hit on Google and listing on Twitter. So if you are in the vicinity, stop and check them out.  Supporting local businesses means supporting your neighbors.


ETA on Feb 8, 2011-Since I first wrote this review, I have returned several times and the last time my daughter and son-in-law were with me. Finally they have a website! Check the menu and set aside a nice evening of dining  as the word has gone out that this is a great place and the parking lot is now full.

PS-my photos are going to be better since I finally ordered  a new camera! Don't let people step on your purse! It messes up the photos big time.