Have I got a story for you, my Gentle Readers. 🙂
It’s the story of Whimsy vs. Logic. Thrift vs. Spending. Old vs. New. David vs. Goliath! Dishy turquoise vs. staid silver, baby! Serendipity vs. Bad Luck. It’s the story of abruptly-changed plans that worked out splendidly, despite all. It’s the story of a fabulous new pie recipe! It’s a good story—a great story!–that I have been putting off the telling of, lest I not do it justice.
In fact, recently a couple of people in my life prompted me “but aren’t you gonna write about the Flair-–?”
So. A few days ago, I was lying in the very grips of death (stomach flu and migraine combo, the worst!), suffering in my bed, praying “oh please merciful God who created the glittering universe and all the beautiful things–just let me diiiiieeee”-–one thought–and one thought only— sustained me.
To wit, and anon.
It was this:
I haven’t written down that fabulous Flair story yet! I must write it, before I die. God, if you will let me live, I’ll write it down!
God whispered to me, quite patiently: Make up your mind, my lovely, albeit sick, woman. Do you require death, or do you want to live . . . ?
That spurred on some thought, indeed it did.
Now that I’m sitting up in bed, having improved my physical condition just a mite–instead of being curled in abject—abject, Gentle Reader, and I don’t use that qualifier lightly!--misery under the covers, I do want to live, after all. (I have a new grandchild due this month! I–must–live!) So I’ll make good on my promise, and I’ll indulge in telling you . . . the Flair story. My Flair story. I suspect that you’re going to love this story, Gentle Reader. But pour yourself a cup of coffee, first. It’s a bit lengthy (but worth it!).
Here. We go.
In the beginning days of our kitchen remodel, lo, too many months ago for me to recount without blushing, Bryan and Reubsy (our contractor) got into the habit of making an inexorably long list (“size 10 washers and size 2 screws and 13 specific yet varied drill bits”) and sending Amalia and me to town to find items that they were lacking (“6 eight-foot 2x4s, 8 twelve-foot 2x2s, a case of Mountain Dew Live Wire, a bundle of lath, a partridge in a pear tree, also.”) The fellas apparently thought this was the best system ever (“2 sheets of quarter-inch plywood, 16 more 2x4s, you’ll need to sort them and get the straighter ones–you’ll need the trailer this time, and bring home something good for lunch since you won’t be here to make it for us.”) They could stay home, hammering and making sawdust and laughing at scurrilous jokes (all while playing the music du jour very loudly indeed) while the womenfolks were out running the errands.
It was a good system. For the fellas.
They could, after all, take long coffee breaks with nobody the wiser, eat all the Cowboy Coffee Cake, as was their wont, while the females were out making decisions and toting that barge, and hauling heavy items by the trailer-load home. They could talk about “her” (that would be me, or The One Who Shall Remain Nameless) all they liked. And let us not forget “She” talk, as well.
Things like this were undoubtedly said: “She better get home quick, we’re nearly out of Cowboy Coffee Cake,” and whatnot.
Not that I resent this a bit. No, not a wit. Not a modicum. Not a tittle, nor a dot. Not a moiety. Not a scintilla, a particle, or a quark. Not a smidgen nor an iota.
Gosh, I wonder why these stories get so long (whistling).
Amalia and I, actually, were okay with this weekend routine. After all, it’s my kitchen that they are making bigger and better and beautifuller. Also: all that sawing and drilling and yelling and singing (Reubsy) and so forth gets loud. And occasionally we’d fit in an errand of our own (“10 for $10 at Goodwill, Mom, let’s stop!”) just for fun. You don’t muzzle the ox, after all, that treads the grain. That’s Biblical, Bryan!
Then one day, Amalia and I discovered the joys of the EcoStore in the nearby city. Our assignment was to go shopping for a door and two windows. “Check the Ecostore first,” suggested Reuben, breezily. “It would be cheaper, and . . . ”
” . . . you never know what you might find there.” 🙂
Those words, uttered with Reuben’s characteristic lighthearted smirk and jollity, would (spoiler alert) eventually come back to bite sweet him on his sweet . . . mmm, let’s just leave it at that. It would come back to bite him. He would come to regret those words, bless his heart.
We didn’t find a door (not for a couple more trips) nor did we find two windows—we got side-tracked right away, as I instantly and forever fell in love with a couple of ancient barrister’s cabinets–oh, Gentle Reader–made of solid (old) walnut, with leaded windows and cast iron handles on the ends–(that’s another story, and I’d be happy to share it, just ask, I’ll even take pictures) and Amalia turned a corner and saw . . . something very special indeed.
I was negotiating with a man (Stan) who was quite attached to those walnut cabinets, when Amalia rushed around the corner toward me, gasping, her eyes the brightest I’d ever seen them. And she’s got some pretty bright eyes, my daught. “Mom, come see!” And by the way–as a mama of six, I’d like a nickle for every time I’ve heard those words. I’d be sitting pretty, you know. On a big slidey pile of nickles.
“Honey,” I said out of the corner of my mouth. “I’m negotiating here . . . with Stan—can it wait?”
“Just come around the corner, when you are finished,” she panted. “I’ll wait for you.” And she slipped away. Stan was not to be rushed, but we did finally settle on a few more points; I bought the cabinets, after promising to a. not re-sell them to a deplorable antique dealer (as if!) (Stan didn’t seem to be of the opinion that there is any other kind) and b. to send him a picture of what I eventually did with them (this guy was hardcore) and c. to come back and visit him, and soon.*phew* Stan–now my fast friend–took those cabinets very seriously indeed.
Finally. I followed my daughter’s lead, and wended my way around the corner. I was already doing a brisk happy dance over the walnut cabinets. It would have been enough to make my day right there. But no. The EcoStore had another wonderful surprise for me, up its metaphorical sleeve.
And there it was: a Flair stove. My giddy daught was standing next to it, only just containing her excitement.
“Mom! Isn’t this the same stove that Aunt Mollie has? The Bewitched stove? The one that she loves so much? The one that she does all her farmer’s market baking in?”
“Yes!” I whispered, sinking down onto the dirty concrete floor in front of it. I started fiddling with knobs and pulling open oven doors. “At least, I think it is! I know! I’ll send a photo to Mollie and see what she says! . . . that is if I can figure out how to do that with my new ‘phone . . . “
I had my new smart ‘phone on me, but I hadn’t actually figured out how to use it yet (cough) however, I suspected that it was capable of taking pictures, and sending them to other folks, if I could just–figure–it–out–
Happily, my daughter was born knowing these things, so she took my ‘phone out of my hands with a little sigh, took a few pictures, sent them to Mollie, and got a response, all within a few seconds.
Mollie called me back right away, and started peppering me with excited questions. We decided, after a lengthy conversation, that this was a newer model (by a year or two) than hers, but still with the coveted and much-admired double ovens lined with bright shiny chrome. The index card taped to the front said it was $275.00 (with the vent hood) and that it, after all, “worked.”
It was scrawled there in permanent market, right there on an index card, so I knew it had to be true.
“Mollie,” I asked my sister, quite seriously. “Do you love your Frigidaire Flair?”
“Yes, sister, I truly love my Flair,” my sister said.
“What will you do if and when it breaks down?” I asked. I wanted to know.
“I’ll look high and low until I find a replacement Flair, and I will buy it,” Mollie said. Her voice was full of resolve. Conviction. “In. A. Heartbeat.”
My sister Mollie moved into her current home in north-eastern Nebraska several years ago. The home came fully furnished and complete with treasures, including closets full of clothing (a wedding gown!) and a tool shop full of tools, and a fully outfitted kitchen, including the aforementioned and soon-to-be-coveted-by-me Flair stove. Mollie didn’t know much about the odd-looking stove when she moved in, but she became a fan after using it for a short time. She attributes the fact that she is able to turn out 80+ beautiful loaves of bread for farmer’s market each week, partly to her Flair.
Well. The lady manager of the Ecostore budged a bit on the price (I’ve been to Europe; I’m not ashamed to dicker) and said that I had 30 days to bring it back, if for some reason it did not work. The guys at the EcoStore were enthusiastically helpful in loading up the walnut cabinets and my new Flair stove. I didn’t even have to break a sweat, myself. There are some perks to being a lady approaching middle age. Most people assume that no muscle comes with age (whatever), and they’ll do the heavy toting for me.
Too bad that doesn’t work at home. 🙁
Those guys, friendly and bulging with muscle, took care of everything, including strapping those babies down in the trailer so they wouldn’t move on the jiggly trip home. And–for the record–I never heard any of them utter the phrase “there’s one born every minute . . . ” They were gentlemen.
It wasn’t, in fact, until we were on the way home that it occurred to me that perhaps . . . just maybe . . . Reubsy and Bryan wouldn’t be quite as excited as Amalia and me about our finds. If only we had found the door that we were sent to find. Or one of the windows, even. But no. We had failed utterly at finding what they had sent us to find. I posed the question to my patient and optimistic daught, who stopped her cheerful chatter to ponder at this, too.
We both were (uncharacteristically) quiet and reflective, for several long moments.
“What do you think Dad and Reuben will say about our . . . treasures?” I posed the question. We looked at each other. I frowned. Amalia twitched. We said nothing.
“And we didn’t find the windows or the door,” Amalia pointed out, unnecessarily.
“We hardly had time!” I said, warmly. “I had to clinch the deal for the walnut cabinets—”
“And we had to call Aunt Mollie—”
“We had to study every detail of our Flair!”
“Exactly. Basically, Mom, we are blameless–“
“Of course! And the trailer–once they loaded up the cabinets and our Flair–was, after all, quite FULL.”
Justified or no, we really didn’t want to think about what would greet us when we got home.
And that, dear Gentle Reader, is where I will leave you . . . wondering . . . come back for the exciting conclusion of this tale!
In the next installment, the following questions will be answered (I promise):
- Did the Flair work?
- How did the guys react at our “good fortune”?
- How long did the Flair sit in the garage before it was allowed entrance to the house?
- What animal vomited on the Flair while it sat in the garage (hint: it wasn’t a chicken)?
- What wondrous and miraculous resources did I uncover, in the area of maintaining a Flair stove?
- Who is “Tom from California” and why do I owe him, big-time?
These questions and many more will be answered in the next Flair installment, so you’d better come back! (In fact: better to type your email address in the little box up at the right, to make sure you don’t miss it. 🙂
And as always, please accept my humble thanks for popping in and reading all the way to the end . . . !
Ready to read the exciting conclusion? Here it is: The Riveting Denouement!
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