if these walls could talk

my husband’s family home is 100 years old and stands in the center of a town that has grown up around it. in the face of change, growth, and expansion, it stands, stubbornly, seemingly refusing to be altered or modified from it’s original state. it has seen many a rainy day and suggests, in outer appearance, at least, that it might have had enough of the grey scale, fog, and moisture, and might just melt into the ground, end the fight to withstand another tofino winter, and make peace, finally, with the harsh landscape and weather pattern.

inside, though it is often cold and drafty, it is usually full of family members who love each other and, paired with the fabric of his family’s history, having been inhabited by multiple generations over the years, it is, for that, very warm. it is a damp, dark house, with a narrow entry way, steep and creaky stairs, a number of bedrooms, one bathroom, one living area, an eating area, a cold spare room used for storage, and a bizarre and tiny kitchen. it is so small, in fact, that the oven and other essential appliances live in the large and spacious dining area, which is fitting, considering the volume of people who dine there on the regular.

the kitchen was once mint green, i think, and is now faded in it’s glory. the linoleum is lifted in parts, worn completely out in others, and the yellow sparkly countertops have lost their sheen. like the exterior, what could pass for neglected is, in fact, just well used and unpretentious. it is a busy and active kitchen and i can hardly believe what his mother, sisters, and brothers in law are capable of producing from there. feasts, i tell you, by any other name. i personally find that it lacks counter space and order and therefore can’t think very clearly in there and, because of this, have difficulty functioning to my potential inside it’s walls.

despite this, i love it. i love the ice cream bucket compost. i love the garbage cans, often full of salmon remains, that are separated into burnables and non (a system, admittedly, i have never fully understood and probably confuse and/or ruin regularly). i love that there is only room for one, maybe two adults in there, and i love that when the dishwasher moves in, requiring a hook up to the sink to drain, that exactly zero people fit, rendering it unusable. i love the vinegar in the microwave, i love that there is always baking on the counter (though my waistline does not), i love that there is always coffee in the pot though no one who lives there drinks it, and i love the cactus on the window sill which is so illogical, given the floods that pound the pane, rendering it even more blurry and isolating, as the plastic that is put up in protection every season keeps out the angry storms but limits any clear view to the external world, as well.

one of my favorite parts of the kitchen is a hidden treasure taped inside a cupboard, a piece of worn paper with faded writing, hung above a oversized vat of flour, used by my mother in law (a precious, kind, and giving woman who has raised what seems like hundreds of children and even more spirits) when she creates her home-made bread that is highly coveted.

taped there for reference, complete with a threatening reminder to NOT (or else) remove the #$%&*@! recipe is the simple list of ingredients and directions you will find below. i don’t follow directions well, and often resist conforming to the rituals of my in-laws for some unfounded reason i can’t name or explain but, truth be known, i have been absorbed by this one. years after first seeing the yellowed scrap paper with what i think is his second eldest sister’s writing, and after dozens, maybe more, pancake breakfasts at his mother’s proud and stoic family table, i made the call, i asked for the recipe, it was generously provided to me from memory, and i am the better for it. you will be too.


pancake recipe

1. mix together:

1 & 1/2 cups flour, 3 teaspoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 3 teaspoons baking powder.

2. add:

1 cup milk

3. stir until just smooth.

4. in a separate bowl, mix together:

1/4 cup milk, 1 egg, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 3 tablespoons oil or margarine / butter.

5. combine and mix together.


3 Comments to “if these walls could talk”

  1. Love that house, love that family, and even though I don’t remember now, I’m sure as a kid I loved those pancakes.
    Oh and, thank you 🙂 Love your writing.

  2. It is my writing and after several recipe cards that had gone missing I taped the recipe to the cupboard door. As from your post my trustworthy words have kept that recipie there for a few years! If you are having my brother over for breakfast this is one of his favourite breakfasts and as he has not one but two hollow legs he is able to eat one batch to himself! This recipie is even better when shared with many family and friends! Often an excuse to get together is to phone Grandma and ask what is for breakfast and we all show up with bacon, sausages and orange juice in tow to have a morning feast!

  3. It is actually 1 1/4 cups of milk!

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