It’s me, Sheri Blanchard. Or at least that was me, as I recall, in those moments before I became Mrs. Someone-Else. This will be the longest blog entry ever. After this it will be just short, to the point topics. As much as that’s ever been possible. That said- here goes!
I grew up in Southern California. The tail end of the baby boomers, very middle class. Cul-de-sacs, station wagons and hamburger helper. My mom would grudgingly enter the kitchen. Occasionally she had great flashes of brilliance, but usually not in the kitchen. This is why I learned to cook. Well, that and because I really love food. And was given this task when I was punished. And also because of goulash. My mom’s “signature dish”. She’d boil egg noodles, and brown hamburger with onions. Then she’d drain both and mix them together with a can of green beans and a can of undiluted tomato soup. Now, I have at least one brother (who I refer to as “Frederico Suave”) who thinks this is delicious. I love him anyway. I also love his wife, my sister-in -law Theresa, who continues to eat his goulash and (probably) pretends to like it still after 20 years of marriage. Theresa is a foodie, and she knows better. She’s a good wife. A better wife than I am, but that’s getting ahead of myself.
So…after about 12 years of being a good daughter who (mostly) did what she was told, puberty hit and I learned to speak up. I also learned to wear my jeans cut off into Daisy Dukes (just below my butt cheeks) and little tops that I made out of bandanas so I could show off while I was skating on the strand (a long sidewalk that ran the length of the beach in Orange and LA county). This and other similar behavior often got me grounded. This led to a lot of free time at home and a lot of cooking. Since I first learned from my mom, I made things like spaghetti, with these little sauce packets and tomato paste. Creamed tuna on toast was also a regular on the menu. I drew the line at hamburger helper (and goulash). Creatively, I needed to branch out. And move out. I had an opportunity at 17, right out of high school, to move to Boston. Okay, sort of near Boston. In the one-hour-away to a town with NO traffic lights sort of near. It was the best place in the world. And I was with my mentor, whom I’ll call Auntie Helen. She tolerated my adolescent behavior and made me feel like a princess. All girls need an Auntie Helen. She taught me to walk in high heels. Okay- really she taught me how not-to-fall-down. I had 2 guy friends in the 70s (Neil H. and Frank C.) who taught me how to WALK. As in “sashay that little tushy in those F-me shoes honey” walk. And they still did it better than I. But Auntie Helen did better than most. She was once (or twice) the national champion ballroom dancer in New Zealand. So she could really move. Those guys were just scary good. Anyway… She also taught me how to cook. Things like Fettuccine Alfredo, with lots of butter and cream. Life was good.
Then, she moved back to Cali so her husband could eat her fine cooking. And probably for other reasons, but they are so like parents in my world that I can’t go there in my head. Eww. Yeah. Anyway, here I was, living on the East Coast, almost 20 years old. Kind of waif like in a girl next door way. I collected more mom-protectors. My boyfriend’s mom. She taught me about pressure cookers, and how to make pie. My crusts are light and flaky thanks to mama Rita. And my neighbor, we’ll call her Leenie, had 5 sons and no girl. That was 1980. .I’m still her girl. She’s the bossy mom who made me go back to school. I’m a nurse now, that’s thanks to Leenie.
While I was in nursing school, I was in an off and on again relationship with a very smart, hard working guy who was also in school. And then it ended. And I started to date an old friend. A nice guy, but, um a nice guy. And then, nice guy and I found out that we were going to be parents. Nice guy offered to do the “right thing”, or whatever, but instead nice guy and I are still friends. His family, whom I refer to as the outlaws, was properly horrified. My family, yeah, I guess they were too. At first. That was all about 25 years ago, when nice girls didn’t do that. We all survived. Nice guy is a good dad. Our son, we’ll call Matt, is a great person. He’s 24 now. A good son and a great brother. He’s dating a girl called Calliope. She’s sweet, and has baby soft skin. I envy her skin. And her name. It’s a great name. I hope he keeps her, and she him.
Then came this wild man. He actually showed up at various times in my life. Like, when I was in school and living with Leenie, he climbed in my bedroom window one night. Seriously. It was not planned, he was with one of Leenie’s sons. I didn’t like the wild man much then. Not a problem, he liked himself enough for both of us. We ran into each other many times over the years. He thought I was a smarty pants, flighty and snotty. I thought- well what I just said. And he was wild. Liked going fast. Skied straight down the mountain without zigzagging, raced sailboats and thought speed limits were negotiable. We kept our distance. Until one night, at a graduation party for one of my pseudo moms, and someone must have spiked his punch. With some kind of voodoo love juice. All of a sudden, this wild man looked at me and wouldn’t stop. He stared at me all night. Then he started showing up at my house. I had just bought a money pit of a house. It was 6 bedrooms, right near the beach in a quirky little town. And it was a disaster. Matt was then 6. He and I clearly didn’t need a 6 bedroom house. Especially one with major problems. The wild man came to the rescue. He showed up pretty much every day. Wooing me with his electrical wiring skills. And his carpentry. And painting. He even slowed down a bit for me. Eventually we married. We have a total of 4 kids now, including Matt. Two girls followed him, then finally another boy. The house in completely renovated. New everything from top to bottom. Changed the floor plan. Now it’s 5 bedrooms and 3 baths. Super insulated comfort, new heat/plumbing/electric. Then, almost 2 years ago that wild man decided it was time to move.
So we moved out to the country. We’re now a bit more than an hour northwest of Boston. It’s rural. Farm country. We live right in the center of the action in downtown Mayberry. Across the street are 2 churches, and an old burial ground. Down the street is the market. In the midst of this metropolis my next door neighbor has horses and 2 very fat, adorable hens. I’m starting to go native. I still work in Boston, and 4 days a week I board a train in a nearby town that takes more than an hour to get into the city. On my days off I cook. And can. And bake. I like to read- I read a lot. Especially on the train. And sometimes (at home, not on the train) I do pysanki. And stained glass. Mostly I start these projects more than I finish them. But I also garden. And forage for wild grapes, berries, crabapples and quince. Last year I’d never even seen quince. And now I want some chickens. And maybe a goat. And a nice border collie to run circles around it all. Now is that too much to ask???