The View From Mrs. Sundberg's Window

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Mrs. Sundberg's Recipe Collection - 12 tried-and-true--one for each month of the year--featuring an introduction and tips from Mrs. Sundberg herself

Both Lovely and Strange

October 23, 2006

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I was alone for the weekend as Mr. Sundberg took the kids to the family cabin to get things in order for winter. They had a few days off from school this week so by Friday they'd read enough books and we'd baked enough cookies and they were up early and ready to go. I filled their suitcases with sweatshirts and extra socks and made some oatmeal so they wouldn't chant "We want food" all the way up north. I stood on the porch and waved goodbye until the car was out of sight, and then I stood there a while longer and breathed in the cool air and felt what it feels like to be alone.

Of course I'd made a long list in my head of things to do and I got busy right away. I washed all the sheets and cleaned the bathrooms and dusted and vacuumed and cleaned the mirrors and a window here and there. I swept out the garage and threw out some things I wouldn't throw out with Mr. Sundberg around. He's rather particular about keeping things we never use (just in case) and I'm of the mind that everything has a purpose and a place and if it doesn't then out it goes. I whipped up a batch of pizza dough and some pumpkin pie squares. By then the sheets were done so I made four beds and did a few loads of laundry and swept the porch and the sidewalks and contemplated attacking the basement but thought, nah. Enough is enough.

So I called the beauty salon and inquired about a massage since I'd never had one and Mr. Sundberg gave me a gift certificate a while back and I thought I'd make use of it. Sure enough, a certified massage person had an hour open on Saturday and if I timed it right I'd get back in time for the show.

There's something both lovely and strange about a body massage. You feel a bit unsure about how much to take off and where to put yourself, but once you get situated and the massage therapist begins (mine was named "Roxana"), you pretty much forget about the imperfections you'd rather hide. You just relax and let somebody take care of you. Roxana was sweet and explained what she was doing, and said how I have some rather impressive knots in my shoulders and neck and, let me tell you, she went to town on 'em. I didn't for a minute feel awkward, except when, near the end, I dozed off with my mouth wide open, I imagine, and was awakened with a gentle, "Mrs. Sundberg, it's time to wake up. We're finished now."

Well, I'll tell you, I must have taken Cloud 9 home because I don't recall the drive. I was suddenly here, in a clean house, with no kids around wanting help with their math and no Mr. Sundberg for whom to cook. Just me. Moi. So I drank a couple glasses of water as Roxana had instructed, cranked up the radio, and poured myself half a glass of wine. I cut up a green pepper and while it sizzled in a bit of olive oil, I rolled out the pizza dough. I got to thinking about how they toss and spin the dough up in the air over in Italy and on television ads and I thought, why not, and gave it a whirl, and of course it landed on my head which got me laughing harder than I've laughed in some time. I managed to peel it off in one piece and lay it down on the pan. Half an hour later, if you'd taken your dog for a walk and passed my kitchen window, you'd have seen me there with my feet up on the table next to a half-eaten pizza and an empty wine glass. You'd have seen a rather decadent piece of cheesecake covered in raspberry sauce (must have picked that up at the bakery on the way home) and you'd have heard a woman's voice singing along with the radio. You might have paused and thought, "Oh, for God's sake." Or you might have knocked on my door and asked, "Everything alright?" and I would have offered you a slice of pizza.

People. Get some time alone. Indulge yourselves. Live it up. In no time at all the kids will be there at the door, hollering, "We're home!" and they'll drag in with them a suitcase or two full of clothes needing washing, and your Mr. or Mrs. will follow with a weary sigh, wanting a shower and some cappuccino. And then you'll be back in it, that glorious routine, where a breath of cool air is a mighty rare thing.

Pumpkin Pie Squares

1 c. flour
1/2 c. oatmeal
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 stick butter, softened

Cut together in lightly greased 9 x 13 pan until crumbly. Press flat. Bake 15 minutes at 350.

1 15 oz can of pumpkin
1 13 1/2 oz can evaporated milk
2 eggs
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon (I throw in a bit more)
1/2 t. ginger
1/2 t. cloves

Whisk together until blended.
Pour over cooled crust.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or so, until center is no longer wobbly.

Let cool a bit, and serve with Cool Whip or ice cream.

Or cool completely, cut into bars, and refrigerate.

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