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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window - Part II - Going, Going, Gone

By Jane Thibodeau Martin, daughter of the Old-Time

Last week I mourned the slow passing of the classic supper club "salad bar." This week, a reflection on some additional "endangered species."

A few weekends ago we enjoyed a visit here in Oklahoma from my brother and sister-in-law from Madison. It was so good to share the many attractions of our adopted state with them. My brother has a hobby of collecting antique Christmas lights, and so one of his requests was to go "Junkin'" (as I refer to the district of Jenks that features many antique and collectibles shops.)

While he rummaged around in the crowded stores, I browsed the selections and was struck by the surprising number of beautiful, large formal china sets. There were dozens, some of obvious high quality, and at what seemed like bargain prices.

This struck a chord with me immediately. As a part of our own preparation to return home to Wisconsin, I had resolved to part with one of the three sets of china I own. I will keep my "every day" set, of course, and have a large set of Christmas patterned china I am emotionally attached to. That meant the set to be downsized was a very formal set, blue flowers with metallic silver trim. There are many accessories, like salt and pepper shakers, matched serving bowls, coffee cups and saucers".on and on.

I took a picture of the set and offered it up to my extended family " free. No takers at all. The fact is that few of us entertain with such formality any more. Most family or friend gatherings are casual and unstuffy, and formal china just doesn't have much of a place in our lives now. And such a large set takes a lot of storage space. I plan on giving the china to my church for the annual rummage sale, and hope someone might want such a beautiful collection, but my "blinding glimpse of the obvious" at the junk shop tells me that may not be the case.

And so it was with the crystal in the stores, too. Large sets of beautiful goblets, on the rocks glasses, aperitif sets, tall, thin glasses for cocktails, and champagne flutes. Again, too formal for everyday use, and such large sets that the amount of space needed to store all of them would be extensive. When people entertain large groups today, the focus is more likely to be on disposable plastic glasses. Having tall, tippy crystal glasses in use with small kids running around and perhaps a huge dog with a deadly wagging tail soon ends in disaster.

A few years ago hip people began using low-slung tear drop-shaped stemless wine glasses. I was a bit taken aback at first, since the beauty of the glass is part of the enjoyment of wine, but the practicality of this shape soon won me over. I still have a lot of the tall, tippy crystal glassware, but as it breaks or cracks the day approaches when I will buy a set of the stemless glasses " a pair of which already resides in our camper, the Tin Hilton.

Finally, coffee pots. Originally coffee was made via the "cowboy" method " put ground up coffee beans in a pot of cold water and heat to boiling over a fire. Remove the pot from the heat, sprinkle a little cold water on the top to settle the floating grounds, and take out your own cup first as it will have the fewest grounds in it. Serve the rest to others, who strain the grounds out with their teeth. (I am not making this up. This is the abbreviated recipe.)

When I was very small my Mom use a "percolator" which had a basket for the grounds. You filled the basket with grounds (no filter) placed it on a stem in the cold water inside the pot. Then you put it on the stove to boil. When the coffee could be seen "perking" into the glass knob on the top of the percolator your coffee was done. You'd have some grounds at the bottom of your cup.

Later she got an electric percolator which you plugged into the wall. At some point during this era someone invented "instant coffee" which was processed coffee grounds that dissolved in hot water, avoiding the long wait for the percolator if you were desperate, just needed one cup, or had no access to a coffee pot. My recollection of this stuff is if you made it strong it would keep you awake during your babysitting job at night, but it tasted horrible.

On to the era of drip coffee makers. There are millions of these in use. Many of them make good coffee, but if you don't get it soon after the coffee is made, the extended sit on the heating element turns the coffee darker, thicker, and increasingly bitter.

Our daughter got one of the new "pod" style pots for her apartment at college, and when she came home for the summer, she plugged it in on our kitchen counter. I found myself using it because it was so quick and convenient, and made a fresh cup every time. You guessed it, she returned to school, took her coffee maker back with her, and we bought our own. My conversion was complete when I put the drip pot we had always used in the Tin Hilton into the rummage sale pile, and bought myself an adorable tiny red pod coffee maker for the camper.

I predict there will be a flood of drip coffee makers at rummage sales this spring. If you need one, a bargain is in your future.

As the days get longer, the mating season that proceeds the start of the annual flood of unplanned puppies and kittens begins. Millions will soon be born across the U.S., and the luckiest ones will end up in animal shelters. If you have an unsprayed or unneutered cat or dog, please consider having them altered or keep them strictly indoors. Letting your unneutered male dog or cat stray contributes to the pet overpopulation process as much or more as letting your female reproduce. Be kind to animals by preventing unwanted litters. If you want to show your child the miracle of birth, get a video.



You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: Janiethibmartin@gmail.com.


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