Sunday, December 11, 2011

Wisconsin 101: Lutheran ladies craft and bake sale

Because I couldn't find the photo I wanted, I posted this one instead. From left to right, it's Curtis, one of my grandparents' seven foster children, my grandfather (on my mom's side), my sister, my brother, and me. My hair was so glossy and smooth back then. I miss my old hair. My old glossy, smooth, and naturally blonde hair.

There's a photo of me at age 7, sitting on my bed next to the octopus thingy my mom had made for me out of orange yarn and a Styrofoam ball. I can't find it - perhaps my mom will email it to me when she reads this? You know the one I mean - in the maid's room in Royal Oaks.

I thought of that little octopus thingy - you know what I mean! The yarn went over the Styrofoam and tied at the bottom of the ball. That was the octopus head. My mom sewed two buttons on the head and those were the octopus eyes. Then she divided the yarn into eight chunks and braided them into long octopus legs. She arranged the octopus on my bed with the legs artfully curved. I posed next to it in the flannel PJs she had made for me.

Martha Stewart? Has nothing on my mom. She probably made the clothes my sister and I are wearing in the photo above. She made almost all our clothes.

I thought of the octopus on Saturday night when SH and I went to his little Lutheran church for services and then for the arts and crafts and bake sale afterwards. The sale is the fundraiser that one of the women's groups organizes to support various charities in the area. We love the crafts sale because we always clean up. Lutheran ladies - and I hate to take advantage of them but hey they set the prices - charge way too little for their handmade hats and baby booties and scarves.

Maybe it's just a Wisconsin thing. When I was in Medford this summer, I stopped in at the shop run by the senior center. There is a retired woodworker who floods the store with beautiful, gorgeous handmade toys. I bought an 18 wheeler tractor-trailer with working wheels for our step-step grandson. I won't say how much it cost because I don't want Vanessa to read this and think I am cheap, which I am a little bit but I got the truck because it was beautiful and well made, not because it was inexpensive. I will tell you that I googled to find similar items and if you want to buy a handmade tractor-trailer online, you are going to pay over $100. Which is most definitely not what I paid.

Maybe handmade goods are underpriced here because everyone either knows how to make these things themselves or their grandparents or parents or aunts or uncles can make them. However, there are people outstate who are willing to pay a lot more for these things. Perhaps I should start buying everything and selling it online for a huge profit. Would that be morally wrong? To make a profit off charity sale goods? What if I gave some of the money back to the charity? Not all. Some.

At the same shop, I bought some Packers colors booties, only the lady who was volunteering at the cash box that day hadn't crocheted the little ties. She would have done it while I waited only she hadn't brought the right color of yarn. I asked if she would mail them to me if I left her money for postage and she said, Well sure you betcha.

And she did. I got them in time to take to California as a gift for Vanessa and Eric's baby, whom they always dress in Niners clothes. SH and I told them the Packers needed equal time. We gave them the booties and some Packers onesies from Kohls, one of the few stores SH is not boycotting.

At the church sale, they had little octopuses and Gary, it is octopuses, not octopii because it is a Greek word, not a Latin one. As soon as I saw them, I thought of my old orange octopus and how nice it is to have things that someone has made for you with love.

Not that I appreciated that sort of thing when I was a kid. No, our Christmas ritual was to start going through the pages of the Sears Christmas catalogue in the weeks before Christmas and circle everything we wanted. Then we wrote a letter to Santa explaining exactly what we wanted. What we wanted was store-bought things.

At school, in my Spanish class, we wrote to Los Tres Reyes, or the Three Kings, who delivered presents to Spanish children on the Feast of the Epiphany. One would assume that if Santa could refer to the Sears catalogue, so could Los Tres Reyes. I of course was hoping to double dip.

The other thing SH and I got from the Lutheran ladies was cookies. Those Lutheran ladies can bake. I had planned to make the coffee snaps from The Joy of Cooking (flour + sugar + butter 1/2 lb of butter + Kahlua and of course I throw in chocolate chips), but then we bought all these cookies and some little chocolate chocolate chip cakes, one of which is in the freezer waiting for dinner with Bonnie and Gary and if you guys decide there are too many carbs in it, that's fine that's just more for SH and me. I don't take offense.

Then this morning I woke up and thought, So what that I have all these Lutheran cookies. None of them are coffee snaps. So I got out half a pound of butter and the Patron XO Cafe because we are out of Kahlua and they didn't have it at Costco when I was there last week.

Costco did, however, have seven pounds of brown sugar for $4.90, which I should have bought because the brown sugar at my store is over $1 a pound, but I thought I was so clever, googling "brown sugar" on my smartypants phone and seeing a few hits for $0.69 a pound. Google must have been talking about Costco. That's what I get for not clicking through.

Sometimes having a smartypants phone isn't so great, not if you don't think, You know, $0.69 a pound for brown sugar seems like a really good deal and yes, this bag is kind of big, but you have an entire basement to store things, for crying out loud. Sometimes, you just have to use your head.

Now we have coffee snap cookie dough in the freezer, just waiting to be baked. I have already resisted the temptation to open the bag and unroll the dough from the waxed paper and eat some of it.

Oh like you have never eaten raw cookie dough. Baker, please.

But I had the package in my hand, the other hand on the door handle, and I thought, No. I can put this away. I can wait. Besides, there are Lutheran cookies in the cupboard.


LPC said...

You know, there might a book in all this Wisconsin lore...

Class factotum said...

L, I am working on a book on the other stuff. You know.

SH and I had to laugh last night at the Christmas concert at church. A guest band from the little Latino Lutheran church performed. Several people in the congregation clapped to the music, but it was the restrained, "Well, this is the sort of music one claps to so we guess we should clap" clapping. Clapping in church is not how Lutherans roll.

barbfroman said...

Being a Lutheran Lady myself, I can tell you the coffee is strong and the servings are large.
Clapping is restrained (depending on which Lutheran Church you go to), but the humor...once you get to know a Lutheran welll...the humor is clever enough to make God smile. Thanks for supporting the charity fundraiser. Wait'll you see what they do for Easter.

Class factotum said...

Barb, I love the Lutherans. Great bake sales and great crafts! And yes, a dry wit that is not surpassed. My grandfather was a Lutheran. I hope I have inherited some of his humor!