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COLUMN SIX | The tale of the soup and the pen

A pair of Sundays not soon forgotten A t home in Fenwick, after church one Sunday, I started the snazzy coffee maker my daughter Lia and her husband Trent gave me.

A pair of Sundays not soon forgotten

At home in Fenwick, after church one Sunday, I started the snazzy coffee maker my daughter Lia and her husband Trent gave me. While the coffee glugged and dribbled, I went to get the Sunday Soup from the cold back porch.

I was brought up on Sunday Soup. After my California mother, Wilhelmina, had spent years making the American full Sunday dinner of potatoes, roast, gravy, and veg, she moved to Neerlandia, a northern Alberta farming community, where the farmers’ wives all said that the only food they ate for Sunday dinner was the soup and buns they had prepared the day before. This sounded wonderful to mom, but before she could introduce this change to our family, she had to right this change with her conscience.

Well, she thought, the women said that this way they didn’t have to work on Sunday, and could relax with their families. Good. They didn’t seem to mind that the men, who still had to do some chores, didn’t complain about the lean dinner, so she wouldn’t worry about them either, especially since her husband, Harry, the preacher, didn’t like to preach on a full stomach. And, of course, as preacher’s wife, she wouldn’t dream of changing the women’s Godly habit.

Her caring heart positively rejoiced at the thought of all the future Sundays in which the family would eat soup and bread for dinner. A fringe benefit was that not only did all of her five daughters follow in her wonderful footsteps, they also became mean hands at creating soups.

So that gourmet soup her second daughter was getting from the back porch was to be our big Sunday dinner, along with some fresh foccacia—the dough, of course, prepared the day before.

The bright orange soup, a lovely, spicy, cream of squash soup, was in a tall Tupperware container—lots of soup, right to the top, to feed our seven children.

Then it happened.

Three feet from the counter, my hands slipped, the soup container fell straight down, whomping with a heavy thud, flat onto the floor. It didn’t even tip.

A second later, laughing hysterically, blinking soupy eyes, I urgently called my husband, John, to the kitchen. Hearing him approach, I said, “Come around and see the front of me. I’m covered, from my hair to my slippers. It’s crazy!”

He didn’t come in. Instead, from the doorway, he said, “Honey, you have to look up. Marjorie, look up. Just look up.” Smearing a sight-hole in my squashy glasses, I did. I was stunned.

The room was an explosive riot of orange. Reacting quite a bit more than “equally and opposite” to its fall, the soup had gone wild. Three lovely orange soup sprays decorated the ceiling; orange muck was splattered across the whole kitchen floor. Orange blobs were splashed onto every cupboard door and dribbled down every window and wall, on all four sides, the top and the bottom, of the kitchen.

John was good about it. No recriminations. No point in crying over spilt squash soup. He told the family to stay out of the kitchen, took off his shoes and socks and got to work with me. Our four bare feet slipped and slid in the squishy orange liquid as we cleaned the mess. We had to laugh: we had invented a new spa treatment—Squash Bath. Or perhaps a new sport—cross-kitchen skiing.

The next Sunday, after church, I started the snazzy coffee maker Lia and Trent gave me. While the coffee glugged and dribbled, I went to get the soup from the cold back porch, but met John coming into the kitchen, sporting a sheepish face. Little did I know—he was going to pay me back for last week’s “Soup Sploosh!”

He was holding, not wearing, his white shirt and new sports coat. (Well, new from the Thrift Shop, but it took 18 years to get him to get it—a classy, blue, wool herringbone.)

“I’ve got a bit of a problem,” he said. “My ball point pen leaked.”

It had much more than leaked. It had flooded, making a huge oily, wet mess inside the suit, all over his shirt front, with just a little spotting the outside of his jacket.

Throwing away the shirt as hopeless, I tackled the jacket. I wasn’t going to wait another 18 years for him to get another “new” jacket! The powerful, penetrating, stubborn, staining ink took me longer to blot out than it did to wipe up the soup the week before. Had to do it right away while the ink was still wet. Used a can and a half of hair spray (the kind in pressurized cans) and two large rolls of super-absorbent paper towels.

The jacket looks great, at least from the outside. The inside isn’t too bad, but is a little worse for wear, the second wear, that is. That’s nothing new in John’s closet. He says we are even now. I’m not sure. He still wears the jacket, donkey’s years later, and didn’t buy a replacement.


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