Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Colonel and Allen in Corbin, KY

Back in the day, Kentucky Fried Chicken served finger lickin' good food. Remember the spicy, sweet cole slaw and the warm, peppery gravy? 

A dozen or more years ago, the fast food chain cooled the heat, saying the hot stuff just wasn't family friendly. That's when we stopped eating there. Without the bite, it was boring.

So we are excited tonight because we're hungry and we see road signs for Sander's Cafe in Corbin, KY, the birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

The signs promise we can eat at the original cafe, the very place Col. Sanders transformed an already popular southern treat, fried chicken, into a national pleasure with a secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices. 

Maybe, just maybe, we hope, we can order the original cole slaw (I'll buy a quart!) and  savor the bite of the original gravy.

We pull off the highway and drive for a while. Then, there it is. A neon sign. Sander's Cafe. Suspiciously, it glows in the shadows of a modern KFC marquee. You know the one. The bucket with the colonel's face.

We park. Go in. Rats. It's not a cafe at all. It's a KFC franchise connected to a little museum featuring the life of Col. Sanders and his famous fare.

When we order,  I ask if the food is the Colonel's original recipe. The teen behind the counter wrinkles her nose. "Huh?" Then she mumbles and shrugs.  "I dunno." At least that's what I think she said.

We order anyway. The chicken was good and greasy. But the cole slaw? Awful. The mashed potatoes and gravy? Nondescript.

We'd feel cheated, but thanks to the museum we can honestly say "goodbye ho-hum." It's a charming little place that takes us back into yesterday, which is where we intended to go anyway. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Thanksgiving Gotcha

Our friends even made place cards for our holiday meal.
Good friends. We have such good friends.

It's Wednesday and we're inside Otto (our motorhome) in a Walmart parking lot in Elizabethtown, KY. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and all has gone according to plan.

My husband, Allen, and I will spend Thanksgiving together, in this parking spot at  Walmart, where we will enjoy chicken salad and cranberry sauce as our holiday feast.

Like I said, it's all according to plan. We schemed to do this, telling very few people, and especially avoiding holiday conversation with the friends we visited earlier this week (Betty and family) and those we will visit on Friday (Bob and Kathy).

Because we want to avoid imposing on anyone's holiday, we're hush hush, sitting in this Walmart parking lot, according to plan.

Then, I get an email: "Allen & Nancy, Call Bob when you get this." So we do. And Bob asks forthright: "Are you planning on spending Thanksgiving in a Walmart parking lot?"

With that one question, he dashes all our planning, all our scheming, all our good intentions. We can obfuscate no longer. And we cannot lie.

So we end up blessed -- BLESSED -- as Thanksgiving guests No. 12 and 13 with Bob and Kathy's family.

We have such good friends. Such good intuitive friends.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Finding Kindness in the Appliance Department

I'm in the Charleston (WV) Sears with my friend Betty because her 40-year-old stove (a cook top) died last night. We need a new one. Thanksgiving is a few days away.

Earlier today  we found a few for $1,000. We don't have $1,000. Then, Sears  promised us one in stock for $350.  Yowser! We're  renewed. Happy. Thinking about turkey.

So we're in Sears, explaining our high hopes to sales associate Suzanne. We explain why our hopes rise high. She checks her computer, and pops our bubbles. The only one in stock costs $1,000.

We still don't don't have $1,000. Our holiday plans begin to shatter. 

The news gutts Betty. "Well Happy *******  Thanksgiving," she grumbles and walks away. 

I try to distract Suzanne (she's just the messenger), but she hears Betty and frowns. I await her parry; instead, she gives her heart. "Don't get your hopes up (again), but let's try something," she said, pointing to a pile of boxed-up merchandise waiting to be shelved.

She digs through the pile, slides boxes around, tips some up on end. No luck.  No cook top. But this time, it's OK. We feel good because Suzanne has joined our holiday rescue.

She gives us what she can, a big red bow (pictured above), which finds more smiles for us.
We leave Sears with lifted hearts, talking about Suzanne, not about that darn stove. We talk about how we want to tell Sears what a nice person she is. About how she is what a sales person should be.

About how thankful we are for the Suzanne distraction, even though we still have no stove. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Portraits of Mom

My hubby Allen, new hubby Steve, new bride Maggie and then there's the oh-so-happy me

We are our moms. Sometimes inside, but mostly out.

My niece is getting married and I am on my way to help her dress. It's an important thing we do for our kids. And, no, Maggie is not my kid, but she has my heart, the way I had my mom's heart. It just happens.

So I am on my way to help this little girl/turned woman I love slither into a wedding dress with yards and yards of ribbons and sashes. We're late; the wedding is in 20 minutes. So when I arrive at the house of her soon-to-be inlaws, I hesitate properly for pleasantries and introductions. Shake hands, nod,  then ask loudly "WHERE IS SHE?"

"Down here, Aunt Nan!" That's my GREAT-niece Abby, the Maid of Honor, dressed in royal purple and a swath of pink in her upturned blond hair. "DOWN HERE!"

I rush down the hall, turn the corner and blurt "Where?" I pan the small room FILLED with too many people and a large nearly wall-sized mirror.

"Here, Aunt Nan." That's my niece, the bride, talking. The beautiful woman I just nanoseconds ago mistook for my sister, HER mother.

Wow. She looks like her mother, back in the day.  My niece (like her mother)  is a tall beautiful woman with a dynamite smile she hides too often, sharp cheekbones, which today turn crimson without Cover Girl, and perfect eyes, with deep expansive lids that carry color effusively.

At second glance, I see inside, and she is all my Maggie, with tenacity for a  brilliant future and compassion teaming with love for so many people, including her soon to-be-husband, her children (two of whom  jockey today to be near her)  and, I am so honored, touched and grateful to say, for me.

I look at her mirrored image and then see mine, my mother (her grandmother), right in that room with us.