Nana and Easter…

It’s funny how at this time of year, I think of my Grannie Ainsworth a lot.  She would start cooking deserts the night before at the latest…I remember those huge tin tubs filled with dyed eggs–and believe me we needed that many eggs!  Sometimes more than 30 people who show up and we ate in shifts!  Sometimes Grannie invited neighbors in too and there was always enough food to feed a small army!

My favorite was porcupine meatballs!  Still is! When I look at my grandson right now, I wonder what he’ll remember when he’s older.  The girls will get to hunt too! I’m going to be coming back from vacation and will spend Easter Sunday at my mother’s and I’m hoping everyone shows up.

Grannie always went to church and then went right back to the kitchen! I remember those wooden pews in the Fundamental Baptist Church and those old oscillating fans–with the red blades and such.  I also remember times I sat with her on the back of the truck, eating eggs until I thought I’d explode!  I also remember when I was really small that Grandpa Ainsworth helped me get the ones out of the trees because I was too short to reach!

I also remember the Saturday prior.  We’d sit around the TV and watch all kinds of music shows.  This included Hee-Haw and a lot of Gospel music.  For those not born yet, prime time TV usually had little to pick from. It was football, baseball, music, etc…I remember black and white TV‘s as well as when we got our first color TV.  Here’s an example of what we saw too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=7tsvaAIcMnc&NR=1

But this was my particular program to keep still for!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqbDZjC5bdE

And I always got a kick out of his lady too! She sang about topics nobody would touch!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgylOni0JSI

I remember how Mom made dresses for me back in those days too, and I loved them. She’d buy me one for Easter, but the ones she made were pretty cool!  I never had the knack for sewing that she did or the knack for cooking she and my Grannie had. I thought it interesting that Grannie could make such perfect things and never use a measuring cup.  I never saw her with one until I was older.

Once we got through at Grannie Ainsworth’s house–we went for round 2 at Grannie O’Neill’s too!

I still remember what a #2 can is and such too. Who else does?  Better yet, who remembers those big boxes of commodity cheese or the chicken that the USDA gave out?  Now that was some good stuff! My dad made a great batch of chicken and dressing with that chicken!  Below is a pic of my Grannie and Grandpa Ainsworth…I miss them both.

Grannie and Grandpa Ainsworth

This Time of Year is Full of Change and Memories!

Easter can be such a wonderful time for family to get together and spend time together.  When I was younger, I remember well how my Grannie Ainsworth would boil tons of eggs because when 30+ cousins and such showed up, there would be a massive Easter Egg hunt on another piece of property owned by one of my uncles…

Here is a picture of my Grannie and my Grandpa Ainsworth:

I remember as a little girl, I was a “runt”.  All the other cousins tended to push me aside or take eggs before I could get them. I remember one time, when I was about 5 or 6, my Grandpa saw me and asked me why I was crying and I told him about one of my cousins pushing me before I could get an egg from a lower hanging branch.

“Well come here!” I went to him and he picked me up and carried me to where I’d spot the eggs so that I could reach them.  One of the uncles already had gotten onto the cousin that pushed me at one point and nobody DARED say a word about Grandpa helping me either!

Before the hunt, Grannie had made a huge Easter Dinner…Chicken and Dressing…Porcupine Meatballs, which are made of BEEF–NOT Porcupine.  Here is a recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed tomato soup
  • 1/4 cup instant rice
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon onion salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • ***NOTE:  I add either 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper if I want them really spicy OR about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of chili powder! I need kick in mine and I may add BOTH!–skipping the parsley…***

Directions

  1. Lightly beat egg with a fork, then add a heaping tablespoon of the soup and mix lightly. Mix in rice, onion, parsley, onion salt and pepper. Stir in the ground beef and mix well with hands. From mixture into 1 1/2 inch round meatballs.
  2. Coat a large skillet over medium heat with cooking spray. Cook meatballs and brown on all sides.
  3. Combine remaining soup with Worcestershire (you can increase or decrease Worcestershire to your liking), stir until smooth, then spoon over meatballs. Cover with lid and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

We ALWAYS raided the meatballs until they were GONE!  Then it was Grannie’s Chocolate Cream pie–or Coconut (for me one or the other) but she made LOTS of deserts!  I also got a kick out her German Chocolate Cake too!

A lot of family traditions centered around food and while there was always plenty for everyone, sometimes someone else would show up and Grannie was more than happy to invite them in also.  I remember the times when my parents were there too.  The memories are sketchy now, but they are there.

We don’t meet at Grannie’s house any longer.  One day the house will be torn down, but the memories will never fade…It has been 11 years since we lost Grannie and about 40 years since we lost Grandpa…It doesn’t seem like it has been that long to me, nor does it seem that it has been 17 years since I lost my father.  His birthday would have been on 4/9.  I will be thinking of him a lot these next couple of days as well.

My Dad: Kenneth B. O'Neill 4/9/29-2/5/95 USAF MSGT. Retired (1972)

However, this time of year also reminds me that I shall have a new beginning as well.  I am the youngest daughter of 4 kids and will soon be a grandmother.  I often wonder what his thoughts would be on that one.  I know that I still am amazed that my youngest son, Kevin Thomas, is going to be a father himself at 23.  I have much to be grateful for.  Although he was recently hurt, he’s alright.  He’ll need surgery–but he will be around for his son and that is what matters the most.  AS this year marks a year of change and beginnings for me and my family, it is my fondest hope that all of you have a joyous Holiday with the ones you love, and may you create many memories with your children, grandchildren, parents, etc…

My son Kevin...I am grateful for every day I can speak to and spend time with him or my other two sons!

Daphne is the mother of my grandson. I am proud to have her in this family! She is a good mother and tough as nails! Hopefully, I'll get to spend time with her and all 4 kids next Easter!

This has also been a month of more great news for me! My son Eric is now Engaged! Congratulations to him and Laura…Now I’ve got two daughters who have a heck of time trying to figure me out! LOL!  ***JUST KIDDING***!    Love you all!

This is my son Eric Gates and his lovely fiancé, Laura Griffin. Has this been a year of change around here or what?!

Well, now I’m dealing with impending “Nanahood” and “In-Law Hood”!  And I know my father lives on in the eyes of my sons, and I know I’ll see a bit of him in the eyes of my grandson. These will be only a few of my thoughts as I go up to the mountain today.

Have a wonderful Easter, everyone!

Missing Grannie…Especially at Easter…

Well, the family is all mixed up about tearing down my grandmother’s house.  I think it can be lived in, but nobody seems to want to take the time to give it some TLC.  I was quick to remind my son, who in his youthful haste said that it does need to be torn down, that it is hard to fathom that when so many little feet trotted across the white and gold linoleum floor of her living room over the decades–including mine and his.

My Grannie made us all go to church with her.  I didn’t like that stand, sit, stand, pray, sit, stand ritual–especially with long songs between stages.  The preaching did not bother me though.  The preacher we had would weave stories that kept us thinking and reflecting.  We did not get bored and fall asleep with him.  Grannie told stories about her youth also.  My sons were blessed to hear some of her stories also.  She told us all many stories of her childhood–and it is my youngest son, Kevin, who seems to have the memory of an elephant because he retells them once in a while–as does Brian and Eric.  Now my mother is sharing hers with us–along with Grannie’s so I guess you can say we have a rich oral history being handed down.

I can remember times when over 30 people would show up for Easter Sunday Dinner.  The smell of chocolate pies and her porcupine meatballs seemed to be luring the horde of relatives in from places unknown on that day of the year.  She served different types of food, and would often have worked on the meal since pre-dawn.  She would have a huge pan of meatballs, and later would have an even bigger pan of chicken and dressing.  I loved potato salad and deviled eggs…There was always homemade macaroni and cheese–until Kraft came out with a good, convenient alternative.  As usual, I could help get things and lick the bowl and/or the spoon!

Once the horde arrived, the adults ate in the dining room (in shifts–taking turns) while the kids were in the living room.  Grannie would often wait on everyone until the last person ate, and then she would sit down with her red, white and blue goblet full of iced tea and a plate.  Once she did that, everyone helped themselves, unless one of my aunts decided to do that to  keep traffic down in her tiny kitchen.

I remember when she painted the floor of the kitchen.  It is dark green with yellow.  Looking at it now, it is so hard to fathom how so many people could get through it to get to the dining room because it is tiny.   I remember sleeping through many a Texas thunderstorm on her bed.  The sound of the rain on the tin roof made it so relaxing to me.  There are times I wish that I could go back to those days–especially when my Grandpa Ainsworth was still among us.

Often I couldn’t reach the eggs hidden in trees higher than I could reach so he would lift me up to get them.  We would sit by the truck and eat a couple of eggs before the hunt was over and headed back to the house.   By four o’clock, people were eating again–if  not still napping!   All of us (the kids) rode in the back of the pickup truck.  There were no laws against it then, and depending on how the driver is behaving, you will not find a lot of policemen in that area saying much about it now because that might be the only vehicle a family of six owns in many places.  It is their sole mode of transportation and their work-truck 9 times out of 10.

Sometimes we’d stop at Mann’s Grocery to get a soda.  Then we’d get turned loose out in the yard, and sometimes we’d make ourselves sick eating so many mulberries or green plums off of the trees from my other grandmother’s house across the street.  Yes, some of the kids liked the green plums.  Not me…Now the grapes were another story.  I would really chow down on those–and ruin my supper every time, but Grannie didn’t say much because it was fruit and not the candy bars…Besides, after running off all that energy, we’d eat again in about an hour anyway.  My oldest brother would have dinner at Grannie’s–and then go across the street to my other grandmother’s house and eat again! Where the heck he put all that is beyond me to this day!

I found some pictures of myself from when I was little that I will share one day when I can scan them.  I was wearing dresses my mother and Grannie had made for me for school.   I often wonder what happened to that little girl in those pictures.  I also wonder if there are porcupine meatballs in Heaven…If there are, I’ll beat my brothers to her door when I get there~!

I miss her right now and no one will ever be able to fill her shoes or the void that her being gone has left in my life.  I cherish those memories.  Make sure you keep record of those for your families too–whatever your faith may be or whatever special days you have together.  You only have them once.  I hope you all had a blessed day and will have many more to follow.