Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Pumpkin Auction at St. Bartholomew's Autumn Festival

Autumn in Cloverdale

Cloverdale's residents are preparing for St. Bartholomew's Autumn Festival. It's the Catholic community's harvest celebration and goodbye to the warmth and green of summer. If you're a Catholic, know a Catholic, want to be a Catholic, or just have nothing better to do, then come to the school and enjoy good food, company, games and crafts. The Festival will be held at St. Bartholomew's Hall and Green on the third Saturday of October.

As per tradition, this year's Festival will sponsor the St. Bartholomew's Pumpkin Auction to benefit the school's ongoing programs and missions to Africa. The Pumpkins are generously donated from the gardens of Cloverdale's Catholic parishioners and carved by the students of St. Bartholomew's School.

"The children had a delightful time carving the pumpkins for our Festival," Sister Mary Rose smiled as she spoke reveling a pleasant disposition. Mary Rose is a teacher at the school and a Sister in the Convent of The Sister of Ever Increasing Hope. She volunteered to head the Pumpkin Carving Committee and received absolution for all future sins (out to six months) for doing so. Pumpkin carving is the one committee no one wants to head.

"Teaching the children to be careful with the knives took some doing and there were a few cuts," she stopped to think, tapped her forefinger against her cheek and continued, "Two cuts required stitches, but the students managed to get the first lot of pumpkins done a week ago." Sister Mary produced a photograph of the first twenty pumpkins carved by the school's students. I found it difficult to discern faces on the pumpkins. Sister Mary noticed the surprise on my face.

"They weren't that good, were they?" she confessed. "Their first attempt at carving was pretty bad, so we decided not to include those pumpkins in this year's Festival. Instead, we took the children and presented the pumpkins to the residents of the Nearly There Home for the Elderly and Confused. The old folks are always happy to see the children and they made a fuss over the pumpkins - even the one that looked like the victim of a serial killer."

I asked Sister Mary Rose whether the Nearly There Home for the Elderly and Confused allowed its residents to have pumpkins, considering their ban on candles and lighters. Long time resident Clara Tubman nearly burned the Home to the ground last year while attempting to light a cigarette while fiddling with her oxygen mask.

"Oh they don't," Sister Rose replied. "The staff gathered the pumpkins after we left and sent them to the kitchen. The old ducks have been eating pumpkin ever since. You'd be amazed what a creative cook on a tight budget can do with a few dozen pumpkins. Mind you, I had a taste of the pumpkin oatmeal. Not good, but praise God it was nourishing."

Last Year's Festival Auction Pumpkins.

Sister Mary Rose led me to the student's second carvings sitting on a table just outside her classroom. To be honest, they were just as disturbing. I didn't see one I was interested in bidding for but decided to participate in the auction anyway. After all, It was for charity.

Be sure to mark the third Saturday of the month on your calendar and attend the Autumn Festival. The school hopes you'll be generous in your bidding for the pumpkins.

Sidenote: When you decide to leave the Festival, look for the white van from the Nearly There Home for the Elder and Confused in the church parking lot. The Home's cook will be standing at the back of the van collecting your pumpkin donations (just in case you really didn't want the pumpkin you purchased from the auction). Won't the elderly bless you for your kindness.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Breakfast at Nanny and Mim's

Traveling Through the Shire
A Traveler's Diary
V. Williamson

Where does one go for a nice quick breakfast without the plastic and chrome of the fast food establishments? Well, if you’re travelling through Cloverdale I recommend Nanny and Mim’s Country Kitchen. You’ll find it about a stone’s throw from the Cloverdale Exit on the right hand side of the road (follow the signs for the Odd Fellows Hall. You can’t miss it).

Nanny and Mim are sisters, and have been so their entire lives. Their great passion in life is gossip and good home cooking - both of which you’ll find at Nanny and Mims. The waitresses are all locals, church goers, and members of the Woman’s Guild so they know everyone’s business. As soon as you sit down expect a good hot cup of coffee and a plastic covered menu with changes written in grease pen, the kind they once used in schools for overhead projectors. You can order off the menu or do what I do, ask for suggestions.

“Depends on what you’re looking for,” my waitress said when asked what she suggested. “Are you a big or small breakfast eater.”

“Small,” I replied. She glanced at how snugly I fit into the booth and smiled. She was on to me.

She pointed to a selection on the menu called “The Scottish Farmyard” and told me I wouldn’t go wrong with that. I nodded.

“It’ll be right up.” She returned her pencil to its place above her ear and went to serve the next table that had recently sat down.

“Merv, whatcha doing here. I heard you had surgery. Nasty thing that prostrate cancer. It took my daddy to Jesus.” I couldn’t hear the old man’s response. He looked a bit worse for wear but enjoyed her attention. I glanced out the window to the vacant lot opposite. Two older ladies wearing woolen coats and scarfs were talking on the sidewalk while their dogs did their business in the bushes. A pick up drove buy. It’s back end was full of kids with back packs. A sign on the tailgate read “Hillbilly School Bus”. I chuckled.

Shortly after 8:00 A.M. the cafe was full and the atmosphere electric. It was the most entertaining road breakfast I ever experienced. I learned more about the town and people of Cloverdale than I cared to. Nanny and Mim’s was truly the place to go if you needed to know.

Fifteen minutes after sitting down my waitress appeared with my breakfast.
“There ya go, this is The Scottish Farmyard,” she proudly said as she sat a platter sized plate before me. “Careful, its dripping from the sides. Enjoy,”

The Scottish Farmyard was right. There was bacon, sausage, ham, eggs, mushrooms, pork and beans and toast, all washed down with a half gallon of milk. Delicious and satisfying to the point where lunch wasn’t required.

Again, I highly recommend Nanny and Mim’s for a meal the next time you visit Cloverdale.