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.