No time for anything

Sunday, May 5, 2002

You won't have time to read this column because I don't have time to write it.

I'm afflicted with a new syndrome. It has a lengthy title -- We-have-only-30-seconds-we're-out-of-time-that's-all-the- time-we-have-we'll-take-this-up-again-sometime syndrome.

As you may have guessed, I developed this aggravating disorder from listening to the myriad of TV interviewers who are constantly running out of time for their interviewees to give sincere, well-thought-out answers. This abnormal condition is insidiously creeping into my lifestyle. For example, I'll start a bona fide column such as this:

Our memories of how other people did things have more to do with how we do things than we might think. I suppose everything we do, we saw someone else do first. Role model is what we call it, but before that phrase came into prominence we simply said, 'I want to make bread just like Mrs. Schmidt did,' or 'I want to row Beefsteak tomatoes just like those of Mr. Kinder ... ."

Sorry, I just ran out time. I had to stop the attempted column because I was simultaneously making yeast bread just like Mrs. Schmidt's and it needed kneading. I was supposed to knead it for 15 minutes but ran out of time and did it only 10 minutes.

So, back to the column, such things coming with a deadline attached. Fifteen more minutes I'd give it but I am slowed in production because I have to stop and check my spelling of "insidiously," and consult my innate writing style as to whether I should have the words "needed kneading" so juxtaposed, lest someone think I was trying to be writer cute.

Mrs. Schmidt lived in a quaint little white frame house about a couple of miles from us. A flagstone walk, bordered by lilacs led around to the back kitchen area. Always this kitchen smelled of fresh baked yeast bread, coffee cake or cinnamon rolls in the making ... .

Out of time again. I had to get that dough into the pans and set them in a warm place. I could stop right now with the story of Mrs. Schmidt's bread. You'd never know the difference, trying to follow this cut-up writing, which I never had time to do in the first place, but Mrs. Schmidt was such a dear neighbor I'd hate to cut her short just because I have this No-More-Time Syndrome.

And always, Mrs. Schmidt wore a flower printed dust cap with apron to match. Her full attention was always on her bread. If Lou and I arrived while she was kneading the dough, she would never stop and come to the door but called for us to "come on in."

We would watch as she kneaded and kneaded, her hands so fast and efficient. It seemed she always baked three loaves at a time and she could divide the dough into three parts so equally it appeared to have been weighed and measured. Her buttered pans were precisely the same size, too.

All the time the dough was rising she kept an eye on it, maybe turning this pan or that one a little bit so that the dough would stay even. During this time she would talk with us, maybe discussing the latest books we'd borrowed from her -- "Laddie" or "Girl of the Limberlost" -- but we knew her attention was on the bread.

Up, up to the top of the pans arose that creamy dough, and then some more. Into the oven of the cast-iron range. Golden crusts formed slowly. A thick slice of it spread with her churned butter, ahhhh!

I'm sure Mrs. Schmidt, long gone now, never dreamed... .

I just ran out of time. This awful syndrome! You'll just have to guess what it was Mrs. Schmidt dreamed of.

I'll try to find some kind of patch recommended for this impudent impedi... .


Jean Bell Mosley is an author and longtime resident of Cape Girardeau.

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