Because Mama Can

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The Best Laid Plans

of Mice and Men

and Wedding Planners

Well, we did it. We got the boy married off. Sir Flying Ace and his precious Miss AirHeart tied the knot to fly the friendly skies, united. The wedding was beautiful. The venue was breath-taking and the rain was pouring right up until 30 minutes before the outdoor service with beautiful weather until rain returned just as the guests started leaving. God is gracious.

And THEN there was the rehearsal dinner. That was assigned to me and Mr. Fix-It. We were supposed to put together a Texas Bar-B-Q shindig, at the request of Sir Flying Ace, from 9 hours away and in a venue never seen before – actually to be seen, for the first time, on the morning of the day of the dinner. Piece of cake, right? Wedding cake, that is.

Well, anyone who knows me knows that I love to put together an event. I love designing the invitations, making the favors, coming up with decorations, planning the menu – all of the creative things that go into making a memory. Getting it served and dealing with the chaos? Not so much. But I was a woman with a mission and for 3 ½ months, I spent night and day making notes, making lists, sewing, gluing, designing, printing and on and on. It was so much fun. Putting the centerpieces together was a blast. I even made the stands for the airplanes by cutting Plexiglas and then bending it with my curling iron to form these stands on which the airplanes could be hot glued. We were not allowed to bring any glass to the dinner venue, so everything had to be paper, plastic or metal. The candle holders were sheets of frosted Plexiglas, glued together and filled with iridescent beads to hold LED tea lights. The surface for each centerpiece was a red charger from Hobby Lobby, topped with a doily, blue bonnets and greenery.

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The Centerpieces

Because all this was occurring in a small town and because I was not familiar with the restaurants – what ones there were – and because I love to bite off more than I can chew, (no pun intended) I came up with the brilliant idea to smoke turkeys and hams and purchase smoked briskets to freeze ahead of time and then cart down to Texas to heat in wonderful, roasters that would double as serving stations. I got all the fixin’s for “from scratch” baked beans – three gallons of them – cole slaw, chips, all of the condiments and sauces, hors d’oeuvres , and desserts and all was packed into carefully labeled boxes to be stacked in various vehicles for transport. I was on an organized roll.

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The Drink Table

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We Used Cast Iron For Serving Dishes

But you know that poem by Robert Burns about the little mouse and best-laid plans? Yeah, I was the mouse. The night of the party, the tables were set, with favor boxes placed in a row down the center of each one, burlap banners were hung with bows and the serving tables were cute as could be.

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I was dripping in sweat with hair plastered to my head, but planning on hitting the shower within a few minutes. And then, it happened. An hour before guest arrivals, my friend, Deborah, hurried up to tell me, in hushed tones and through gritted teeth, that none of the food was cooked. None of the roasters were hot. The crock pot with cheese sauce wasn’t even warm. She and a couple of other friends were rushing from one roaster to the next, moving them to plug them into different outlets, only to find that none of the outlets worked. The beautiful, expensive venue was wired so badly that it would not even support the crockpot. Every electrical outlet would blow just as soon as anything was plugged into it. No food. Nothing but cole slaw, potato chips, hors d’oeuvres and dessert.

Now, I COULD tell you that I, in my calm and organized manner, took all in stride and barked orders, totally in control of the situation. Nahhhh. I grabbed my cell phone, saw that I had NO service, and began walking up a hill to try to gain service, all the while punching buttons to reach Mr. Fix-It. The longer I walked, no – limped, the more I gulped for air, probably hyperventilating. Finally, I got hold of my hubby. Now, I COULD tell you that I calmly explained the situation to him so that we could reason a solution together. However, I probably should admit that when I heard his voice, the tears rolled down my sweaty cheeks and I wailed, “We HAVE no food!!! We have 40 to 50 people coming in 30 minutes and we HAVE no food!!!!” I hiccupped. He, being the typical man, responded, “What do you MEAN we HAVE no food? What was all that junk we drove with for eight hours??” I explained and then, in a matter of seconds, a plan began to form in my racing mind.

That morning, at the HEB Grocery Store, truly the establishment that gives reason why all should move to South Texas, there had been a sign advertising a shrimp and crawfish boil for the day. It would last from 11am until 6 pm. I looked at the time. It was 4:45. I breathlessly cried, “Shrimp!! Get some shrimp at the stand at the grocery store. See if they have enough for us to buy plenty. And get their corn-on-the cob too!” Mr. Fix-It got very quiet as he calculated what that was going to cost him and then asked, “How much? How much shrimp?”

I told you that my mind was a-whir. I told you that I was not calm. I told you that I was out of breath and had tendrils of hair clinging to my neck, face and forehead. That is my excuse, because instead of saying, “Enough for 40 or 50 people.” I said, “Enough for 40 or 50 POUNDS.” Oh yes. I did. And being the obedient, dutiful husband that he is, Mr. Fix-It went to the booth, explained the situation and spent $400 on 40 lbs. of freshly-caught and steamed gulf shrimp….a pound per person.

I, on the other hand, had only enough time to run into the venue restrooms and put my entire head under the faucet of the sink, where I let cold water run over hair and skin alike. I took an extra shirt and used it as a towel, and then dried my hair under the hand dryer. Fortunately I had a change of clothes and makeup with me, as well, and so, I pulled my hair up into a ponytail, donned fresh clothes and makeup and pretended to be as cool as a cucumber. The shrimp was a hit and fun was had by all and most were none the wiser.

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The Joshua Springs Park and Preserve in the Texas Hill Country, venue for the wedding and dinner

What, do you ask, did we do with all of the food? Two turkey breasts, two full hams, three briskets, 20 lbs of shrimp and three gallons of baked beans? Well, we got dry ice and took all of it home where I canned 21 pints of ham, 21 pints of beans and 14 pints of turkey and froze three briskets, as well as 20 lbs of shrimp in 2 lb bags. And in the next several posts, I’ll show you some recipes for that canned meat.

Oh. And did I tell you that there WAS a wedding?

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Happy ‘Flying’ By The Seat Of

Your Pants!

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4 Responses to “

Because Mama Can

  1. Barbara Luther says:

    I’m sorry , I really tried not to laugh , but I just couldn’t stop. A script writer for a comedy couldn’t have come up with anything funnier .Only you ! And thanks to Mr Fixit , you pulled it off . It’s wonderful . I know you are so capable ,there must be a little part of your heart ,that was disappointed ,after all your prep work and planning, but this makes a better story . Unforgetable.

  2. Yes, Barbara, it will be the stuff of stories for grandchildren. :-) Glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Ruth says:

    Mary Beth, That was a real disaster, but the Lord worked it all out in the end! I can’t even imagine the stress you were under, but you did IT!!! Now you have all that wonderful food for the Fall and Winter :)! And oh the memories that were made and the stories that will be told for generations to come. It is funny to me that “mishaps” are what memories are made of. Of all our camping trips the ones we remember the most is when something unexpected happened. Like borrowing a tent that had not been used in years from friends – a rain storm came up during the night and it was like there was NO tent over us at all. Oh the stories I could tell !

  4. Exactly, Ruth. Gotta laugh at the mishaps. They are what keep you on your toes!!!

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