Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Wisconsin 101: How Wisconsin grandmothers do it


Blessherheart, my grandmother - the sweet one, not the beer-drinking, smoking, card-playing one - (not that there is anything wrong with either kind of grandmother. It's nice to have a variety - you have your granma who bakes cookies for you and teaches you to crochet and who gardens and cans and who saves buttons for you and you have your granma who buys the National Enquirer and who sneaks out in the back of the nursing home for a ciggie. Both are wonderful granmas and let you experience the spectrum of granmas available) used to send me newspaper clippings.

Not necessarily clippings about anything that might interest me. Nope, she sent me clippings from the small newspaper near her hometown - her hometown didn't even have a paper - didn't even have a stoplight - so she got the paper from the next town - the town with a stoplight and with the Amish horse-drawn carriages at the K-Mart.

She would send me clippings about people who had died with the note, "She went to high school with your mother." Clippings about gardening. Recipes. Historical anecdotes.

I never really got it. Why clip paper and mail it to someone?

And then I found that I had turned into my grandmother. Then I got it.

It started with my friend Ilene. I saw three articles online in a row that made me think, "Oh Ilene would be interested in this!" So I sent her the links. It wasn't until the third one in 36 hours that I realized that I was indeed channeling my grandmother.

I laughed and I stopped. I don't ever want to be the person who spams my friends to death.

That was three years ago. I hadn't sent links to people in a while. Except for SH, which doesn't count. We link each other all day long, my sending him human interest stories and pictures of kittens and he sending me serious political screeds that he wants me to read so we can Discuss. I ignore them. I don't need stress at home. I get enough of that at work.

But then, the other day, there was a story about the new ramen restaurants opening in Milwaukee.

This is big news indeed for our modest Midwestern city. We are not the Big Fashionable City - we are not Chicago or Minneapolis. Of course, we are not New York or San Francisco. We are humble, modest Midwesterners who do not brag and who do not expect fancy. We do not expect things like ramen shops in Milwaukee. We expect bratwurst and cheese and beer, which is not a bad thing to expect at all. But we do not expect ramen. Ramen is what my mom crumbles on top of her excellent Chinese cabbage salad that SH loves, even though he claims not to like cabbage. Ramen is what poor college students eat. It is not a fancy go-out thing.

I saw "ramen" and I thought "Lisa!" Lisa is the one who, in the comments here, years ago, recommended the movie "The Ramen Girl." I don't remember what started the conversation. It certainly wasn't ramen restaurants in Milwaukee because as far as I know, we did not have any.

I got the movie from the library and watched it and it was a fun movie and it made me hungry and last year, when Saveur or one of the magazines like that talked about making ramen from scratch, I did so, making my broth from beef bones overnight in the crockpot, the house smelling of rich, oniony beef every time I woke up to use the bathroom.

I have met Lisa in person exactly one time. She is lovely. I like her. But we are not BFFs who talk every day. Yet as soon as I saw the article about ramen in the Milwaukee paper, I felt compelled to email the link to her in San Francisco. Because it was about, you know - ramen! And Lisa and I have this ramen connection! And we are blog friends who have met in person! So we are friends, right?

And then I got it, really. Sending clippings to someone is a way of saying, "Hey! I am thinking about you! You are someone who is a part of my life." When my grandmother sent those clippings to me, she was saying, "I know you live far away and we don't get to see each other enough, but I think about you all the time and I will never forget you and you are important to me."

So here you go: I am thinking of you guys.


7 comments:

LPC said...

In this new world, brave or not, we are indeed friends. xoxox.

Unknown said...

I send links to my daughter who lives a day's drive away, all the time. And yes, the thought that I was turning into my mother crossed my mind. But I'm going to keep doing it for the reasons you so lucidly describe.

Kathleen

Gaylin said...

My mom doesn't have the internets. I download all those cartoons from facebook and print them off and mail them to her. She then mails them out in cards and letters to her friends all over Canada. I also cut out crossword puzzles (the hard ones) and mail those with the cartoons. She is on a very limited income and would get mad if I spent money on getting her the newspaper subscriptions so cutting out the crosswords from the newspapers we get at work is a win-win.

I can't eat ramen but I can eat bean thread and pretend it is ramen noodles. Thanks for the link!

I would have to go back in time and start smoking at 11 and have 5 kids before I was 28 if I wanted to turn into my mom. Not going to happen.

I also rarely mail stuff to anyone but my mom because I suck at making friends.

webb said...

My admiration for you just soared - you actually made that soup! Way to complicated for me ... but i might try something more simple. My husband loves Ramen - the college student kind - so he might really enjoy something similar to this recipe. thanks.

Anonymous said...

(From Artsy in Boulder)

Sadly, I cannot eat ramen. I do, however, eat lots of leafy green vegetables, and cook a big pot every night, which The Artsy Husband enjoys along with me.

Tonight's entry from the Sheldon Zone: I was at the prep sink with my large strainer of washed & shredded greens, ready to about-face, take two steps to the stove, and dump them into a roiling cauldron of water. On the neighboring burner was a bubbling pot of pasta (being cooked for The Artsy Husband's sole enjoyment) in need of an immediate doneness test, which is within Mr. Artsy's purview. An extra minute of cooking can be fatal to the pasta's edibility. However…as Mr. Artsy leaned over to check the pasta, he cottoned on to the fact that THE STRAINER OF GREENS WAS DRIPPING WATER AND CREATING A LAKE! (there were maybe three drops on the floor). So instead of checking his now-doomed pasta, he grabbed a dishtowel and gently swaddled, then cradled, the bottom of the strainer as I transported it to the stove.

We spent dinner discussing ancient posts in your archive, which TAH discovered yesterday. He is a big fan of your cat posts!

Class factotum said...

Artsy, your comment made me laugh out loud. I can see it- "Oh no! OH NO! OH NOOOO!!!!" and the frantic grab for the towel as AH steps in front of you, getting in your way to save you from what is clearly the great, great danger of WATER ON THE FLOOR! Because water on the floor cannot be fixed whereas overcooked pasta can.

Yes. We need a support group and a meetup.

Anonymous said...

(From Artsy in Boulder)

I see you have discerned the nature of the problem precisely! (Actually, to be fair, TAH is a very grateful and gracious consumer of all comestibles prepared by others.)

I subscribed to your blog this morning: will this allow you to see my email address (it is a combo of my first name and TAH's first name)? I comment under the Anonymous option so I don't have to create a Google account because (cough, Sheldon alert) I am a privacy freak when it comes to the Internet. But I would love to be in touch w/you personally. I came to you via the amazing Lisa (LPC), so perhaps she might introduce us virtually if we ask her nicely!