Sunday, October 19, 2014

Broken Bowls-More Than Just Shattered Glass

Rather than dote on my sad disappointment yesterday I focused on getting some tasks done.  What happened before I started baking, I had pushed aside.  In pulling out a mixing bowl I absentmindedly pulled too quick, and out of my cupboard came a stack crashing to the floor.  Did I mention I have a clutter problem and desperately need better organization?  The victims to the shambles were not one, but two parts of my beloved three piece yellow stacking bowls.  There was nothing special about these bowls-just ordinary nesting mixing bowls. They were though precious to me because of what they meant in my family history.

These mixing bowls ended up being part of a master box of kitchen items that my mom had collected and assemble during the months that preceded my wedding.  Originally though, these bowls were not for me.  She would pick up measuring cups and spoons, rubber scrapers, wooden spoons, pie plates, and cookie sheets-all the odds and ends a simple kitchen cook should need, but likely a bride of 21 wouldn't think to know were more important than selecting wine glasses.  She had 8 daughters and two daughter in-laws, and I was the ninth wedding she attended showers for and picked out gifts. This collecting before the time came became an art. The bowls were actually bought for a Christmas present for my sister, but then my mom came across on sale, the Pyrex style, similar to her own, she knew my sister had really wanted. These bowls were picked up on a clearance table at the downtown Ben Franklin, no return after sale, so sat in a closet for nearly a year. 

I remember opening my "goodie box" at one of my wedding showers, and being so surprised to see the bowls in the box. I had forgotten about them. They were packaged loose, as I'm sure they were purchased, with the other kitchen utensils assembled around them, and some inside the bowls.  It just so happened that I had also received two sets of stackable Pyrex bowls at the same shower.  I remember driving home with my mom, and she being quite quiet.  I broke the silence by thanking her again for the gift, and that it must  have been a lot of work to find and put all those items together. She had a funny reaction, but I can't remember her words, something along the lines of  an apology for giving a second hand gift. I must have reassured her the bowls were terrific, and that I knew I would use them all the time. 

Well, it just so happens I did use those bowls-all the time.  The large one was my cake, and brownie bowl and also was great for baking huge hot dishes for family pot lucks.  It fit nicely inside a round basket I received at some point, and I got compliments on the set whenever I took  it places.  It made a great popcorn bowl for munching on  in front of the T.V. The medium bowl was the perfect size for  green bean casserole, a Midwestern favorite, and as the kids got older, perfect for them making their own packages of ramen noodles, because it was big enough to not have to break the noodles to cook them. The small one was perfect for reheating a can or even two of vegetables-being both oven and microwave safe, it did the job without having to move the racks.  When the kids got older, all three were used to  give each kid heir own bowl of popcorn and not having to share, even if from the same batch. At least one of those bowls was put to use on over 9,000 days. Ironically, I never even took either set of Pyrex out of their factory sealed box, and they have been sitting on a storage shelve for the 23 years we have been in this house. I didn't need them-I had my yellow bowls.  I will open one set now, as I will miss the functionality of the two smaller bowls in my kitchen.

Things break in houses all the time, and it is really a marvel with all the banging those bowls took that they survived this long.  I kept the other two sets for just such a time when one or all would break.  My mom passed away four years ago this November.  She worked hard to give all ten of us good lives, and it was not without struggle.  I'm sure the cost of providing a wedding to a household of girls, no matter how happy she was for us, caused financial angst.  I never looked at those bowls as second rate.  My mom knew what I meant when I referred to "my big yellow bowl."  See, she had her own big yellow bowl, the Pyrex one my sister wanted a copy of.  When my dad passed away two years later, and we were getting all their things sorted, having the  grandkids to take things that were meaningful to them, my sisters son only wanted Grandmas' yellow bowl.  I hope I can make mine last, and will be honored to tell my grandchildren how I came to receive it. 

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