I spent most of my summers in the Sacramento heat in my Grandparent’s house. Days were spent in the garden, or cleaning veggies that I would then walk over to all of the neighbors. The end of the day meant Grandpa would come in and sit down on the cracked vinyl brown couch with the coffee table. He would put on some show on the TV maybe a rerun of mash or a baseball game and have a martini. Gin, thank you. I knew how to make a proper martini by age ten as a result. At dinner there was always either a salad from the garden with dressing we made in an old mayonnaise jar, or veggies and dip. Of course, again made in an old mayo jar.
There were lots of jars at Grandmas house. Jars of all the things we would can over the summer as the harvest got to big to even share. Nothing would go to waste. Pickled green beans in jars, home made catsup not ketchup, thank you. Jars upon jars of pomegranate jelly. The mayo jar that would make ranch dressing or something reminiscent of little Dorothy I think. With all the jars in this house there was one conspicuously missing from Grandma’s house. There was never a cookie jar.
My grandmother had a sweet tooth, she was also a diabetic. If we were going to have a treat at all, it was usually something sugar free back in the days where sugar free isn’t what it is today. After dinner every night, we did the dishes. We of course would wash them before they went into the dishwasher with soap and water. Cleanest dishes ever. Grandpa would go off to bed to finish reading the Wall Street Journal or the ValuLine stock papers. Grandma and I stayed up sitting at the kitchen table watching old black and white movies not old to her, and have a diet soda. Not just any soda, this was Diet Chocolate Soda. It came in a brown and white can, the letters in cursive, it felt like a real treat. I haven’t seen it in years.
Though we would occasionally make persimmon cookies, or get out the cookie gun from 1955 we almost always gave all of the cookies away. Kid me didn’t quite get it, grown up me gets why a diabetic with a sweet tooth just can’t have cookies around let alone in a jar.
In my kitchen now, is every single one of my Grandmother’s dishes, and that cookie gun. I have the big yellow mixing bowl circa 1960 that is for potato salad, thank you. I have in her hutch her Rodera, the fancy stuff. I also have every teacup, plate, salad plate, bowl and serving dish she had. It’s a ton of freaking dishes, especially given I have service for 12 and extras. On the bottom of each of these pieces is the mark. In some form or the other they all have Franciscan on them. My Grandmother made it a point to let me know the name of the pattern as I was growing up. Franciscan Desert Rose. I truly thought I had just about every possible piece of dishes in this pattern, as she had been adding to her same collection for forty some odd years. Forty years of collecting dishes, many of which I never saw used as it was pretty much just the two of them with me sprinkled in most of the time. I have salad plates in the same pattern that were made in the 40s and some in the 80s. I have the stemware, collins glasses, the salt and pepper shakers, butter dish and sugar and cream set. I thought I had all of the things possible. I was wrong.
I still like to watch a show while eating casual dinner, talking with your mouth full is rude after all. One recent night eating our dinner on Desert Rose plates watching a show, I see a family sit down to breakfast with my same dishes. I of course make hubs pause the show, take a screen shot of the TV and send it to the fam. It was a little moment where I thought she was saying hi. The next week another episode, another dinner and another quick moment. Perched upon a shelf in the mint green kitchen of this show I see something I didn’t know existed, but definitely and immediately wanted. I look with surprise at my hubs and say…do you see it? That cookie jar! I never thought I’d think of Cthulu and my Grandma, but LoveCraft Country did it. Weird. But I love reminders of my Grandma, and I saw a jar I wanted to fill.
A week later or so, a package arrives that says fragile. I was totally expecting to open something for the 3D printer, minis for any number of the games were play. Nope. I open the box carefully and to my surprise, find a bubble wrapped cookie jar, the Franciscan Desert Rose cookie jar I am sure my Grandma probably wanted but never had. Thanks, Babe. Epic.
I like to think now, that Grandma would be thrilled that I am adding to the collection. I think she’d love the cookie jar. Which judging by the mark is 1980s. I think she’d forgive me now, for the one plate I broke. I think she’d love the fact that I actually fill the new jar with cookies, but not too often as it holds three dozen oatmeal raisin. I think my Grandpa would be more thrilled to know I have several jars of dilly beans that I grew, and canned and that they are indeed perfect for my gin martini.
I fill my jars with treats and joy when I can. I know they would both be most happy to see that my jars are full.