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The Second Story of My Life

August 21, 2007

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. Had a hard time concentrating, though, as the house was so quiet. I'm used to flying objects and hollering and the phone ringing and Mr. Sundberg's muttering while he reads the paper, but there was none of that. Nothing. They were all out walleye fishing in the rain and the house was so quiet it was loud. Kind of like the basement after midnight, or the sanctuary during the prayer where we add people to the list silently, in our hearts, or Aisle 3 at the grocery store sometime around 6 a.m.

I enjoy an empty house, mind you. Especially when things fall together as they did Saturday night: the rain falling on the quaking aspen and oak leaves, the smell of chicken pot pie throughout the house, the warmth of the oven against the back of my legs, and Mr. Keillor's voice in the background telling all about the big stir over in Lake Wobegon. Times like that, I tend to drift off to what I call "The Second Story of My Life." You know. Where daydreams take you. How things might have been had this happened or that not happened, or how things could be, given this person or that event.

My second story isn't ever the same as I'm pretty much constantly revising it. I've noticed in recent years there's less thought of a bakery and more of a bed and breakfast, and it's been a while since I've given much thought to an outdoor spa or an entire room devoted to laundry. There's always been an old red pick-up truck — dark red, not bright — and a hammock, and music for waltzing. The steps in the second story of my life are wooden steps, and many of them creak. The water in the background started out as a lake, then became a river when the kids were babies (same years I imagined road trips to Canada and a weekly cleaning lady) and now I'm back to a lake again, and it's been a while since I was taken with the notion of owning a tractor.

Don't get me wrong: the second story isn't about fantasy or wishful thinking. It's very much the realm of the possible, just that — for one reason or another — a person isn't able to fit it all in. You know. You have kids, you probably don't have a timeshare in London. You run a dairy farm, and you aren't going to spend a whole lot of time fishing Bearnose Lake in Canada. You marry a motivational speaker who's out and about 40 + weeks of the year and you've got get creative about romance. And you decide marriage isn't your thing and go it all alone, well, your second story might look a bit more like my real life with piles of shoes everywhere and a big ol' dining room table and children's names written in green crayon low along the inside wall next to the mud room door.

Who knows what's ahead? Seems to me the key word is "possible," and if you've got that word in your head, well then, you're on your way. Just for the record, I'll let you in on a little secret: I've got a birthday coming, and someone in this house has been googling "hammocks."

With the rain coming down and no end in sight, I pulled out my recipe box Monday morning and started off with this one. One of those bars where you're fooling yourself if you think just one is going to do the trick.

Mounds Bars

2 c graham cracker crumbs
1/2 c butter, melted
1/3 c sugar
Mix in 9 x 13 pan. Bake 5 minutes at 300.

Combine 2 c flaked coconut and
1 can sweetened condensed milk.
Spread over cooled crumb crust.
Bake 15 minutes at 325.

Melt together 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
and 1 T shortening.
Pour and spread over cooled coconut layer.
Refrigerate until chocolate is firm.
Cut and serve.


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