Search This Blog

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Decision not Made Lightly…

blushing Grange

“Regular or cinnamon?”There at my left elbow is Applesauce Betty smiling down at me.  It’s hardly nine a.m. Saturday morning. The weekend. My coffee hasn’t had a chance to work its magic yet. Already I’m being pressured to make a decision.

Earlier I paid my five dollars for the Tualco Valley Grange pancake breakfast, applesauce edition. I complained as always about the cost, asked if I qualified for a Senior discount, and Allen Barr reminded me that what I’m about to be served is indeed a bargain. But complaining doesn’t cost me anything, so I decide to get my money’s worth. Allan is disappointed there’s only one of me. Usually that’s one too many for most folks, but money’s at issue here, I guess. When I see the only discount I’m getting is Allen’s stubborn smile, I look around for a breakfast spot.

I decide to give Rich and Judy Cabe the pleasure of my company. “Is this seat taken?” I ask. “It is now,”Rich replies. Hardly had I scooted in my chair and removed my hat than I heard the cheerful voice of the applesauce lady. “Regular or cinnamon?” But this is where you came in, right? Now I’m a traditionalist in every sense; and its only grudgingly I order an Americano when all I want is a good cup of coffee, coffee just like you’d get at a truck stop café. Now I have to decide if I want additives in my breakfast appetizer. “Why, cinnamon, of course,” I request, and Betty selects of dish of dusky colored sauce from her tray and places it before me.

Rich and Judy have already finished their breakfast, and I gather the only reason Rick lingers is because he’s putting off the home front chores as long as possible. (After all, it’s the weekend.) I plan to follow his example. Betty brings my breakfast and as she places it before me, I ask her about the spring pancake breakfast.“Did you have the strawberry edition this year?” Betty hesitates, shakes her head, expressing her disappointment. “No, we didn’t. The strawberries were just too expensive!” What a shame, I think…a Valley full of berries and the Grange can’t serve up a single one. “Rhubarb,” I say. “Maybe you should serve rhubarb sauce instead. There’s plenty of rhubarb, you know.” Betty turns up her nose: “Rhubarb? No. I don’t like rhubarb for breakfast.” “It’s pretty tasty if you sprinkle a little cinnamon on it,” I inform her. She shakes her head and hurries back to the kitchen.

I look down at my breakfast and it is a carbon copy of all the breakfasts I’ve ever been served at the grange. It’s as if the cooks employ templates for each portion served: same small heap of scrambled eggs; thin slice of ham I can see through (the plate is spic and span, very hygienic looking); and Wally apparently has a governor on that batter machine of his. If I hadn’t ordered the cinnamon applesauce, I would have broken even on the portions. Rich passes me the syrup, and I squeeze out a more than liberal amount on my two saucer-sized pancakes.

Between bites I chat with Rich but can’t uncover much news. I look around for familiar faces, notice Matt Beebe and daughter examining one of the old photographs on the wall. Matt directs a finger toward a few faces, using the photograph as a lesson in Valley history is my guess. Tim and Sandy Frohning have answered the call to breakfast and make their way to the end of my table. Tim and I exchange our customary verbal parries and then he thanks The Ripple for its post about son Matt ( “A Man Outstanding in his Field,” 10/23) and congratulates the press for its accurate and insightful reporting of the afternoon spent with the young man chopping corn. But I’m not the least surprised: if nothing else, The Ripple is spot-on accurate. Over 160 posts published without a single correction or retraction.

Butch Olsen strolls over to our table, interrupts our conversation, and asks if I’m the guy who writes about the Valley, the guy who has the bees? “Yes and yes,” I confess. It seems everybody has a personal bee story to share. “They hate me,”Butch complains. “Every time I go out in the woods I get bee bit! Why do you suppose that is?” “Maybe you need to change your aftershave?” I offer. Butch puzzles over this a moment, gives me a look, shakes his head and returns to kitchen duty. Rich and Judy stand to leave…those chores, I guess. I drain my third cup of coffee, say my good-byes, and head out the door toward my own chores. After all, I need to work off that heavy breakfast.

A day or two later I meet Betty and her sister uptown. “How’d the breakfast go?” I ask. “Better than I expected,” Sister replied, “we served 54.” “You would have had better attendance had you whetted their appetites with strawberries last spring,” I tell her. When I suggest the rhubarb alternative, Sis wrinkles her nose. “I don’t like rhubarb for breakfast,” she says.

That cinnamon applesauce was quite tasty, I must admit. A very good decision, it turned out. By the way, tomorrow is election day. I just dropped off my ballot at the library this afternoon (and saved forty-four cents I can set aside for next year’s pancake breakfast). “Regular or cinnamon?” I wish all decisions were that easy.

Print this post


  1. It's too bad it costs $4.40 in gas to get to the library...

  2. Ms. Bridget--What for did you drive the entire fleet of Prii to the library?? Or do you drive an Escalade??