Back from the brink (thanks to Sts. Joseph and Anthony and some very good friends)


Two storms have lashed the little blue house on the lake since last we connected.

The first storm hit the weekend of the Assumption and caused actual damage –  sagging gutters and sophets made for a sagging roof line and a pool of water that formed around the base of the porch spilled over into the interior and carved a hole in the woodwork.

 Our annual family and friends reunion went on as scheduled the next day despite the soggy circumstances.

We hadn’t totally recovered from that when Hurricane Irene stopped by for a visit. Having made it through the battering winds of Saturday, Aug. 27, by Sunday morning, Aug. 28, we were feeling fortunate that the only thing wrong at our place was a lack of power. It went out at precisely 11:15 p.m. on Saturday.

The feeling of thanksgiving evaporated by mid-morning as we watched the rising tide of the lake across the street and braced ourselves to evacuate. Throughout this intense period, I prayed mightily to Sts. Joseph and Anthony for intercession, even sprinkling the back yard with crumbs from a remnant of St. Joseph’s Bread saved just for such an occurrance.

According to pious tradition (or Italian superstition), invoking St. Joseph’s assistance this way in bad weather is a good thing. For added help, I lit a candle to St. Anthony as well, imploring him to “find” the field across the street and return it to its grassy status before the water crossed the road.

As it turned out, the flood gates were opened and the waters did subside. Now, municipal officials gave the orders to lower the water in the lake. But I believe they had some heavenly encouragement.

For the next two days, worldly friends stepped in to help as we dealt with an ongoing power outage. Juta, my friend from college days, brought flashlights, batteries and lanterns. Betty took time out from dealing with a mud slide in her back yard to offer us respite, actual light and hot coffee, etc. in her kitchen. And Gloria baked. We got to enjoy home made corn bread and white cake til the lights came back on.

Just yesterday, a colleague shared some corn bread with me and it brought back a flood (pardon the pun) of warm memories. That corn bread Gloria baked had come to symbolize the friendship and affection we experienced during the storms. Her recipe is a family treasure that she keeps safely tucked away.

So, I adapted one from several sources to share with you.

Friendship Bread

Ingredients: 2/3 cup butter or equivalent (I use Smart Balance); 1 cup sugar; 3 eggs; 1 2/3 cup light cream; 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour; 1 cup cornmeal; 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder; 1 teaspoon salt.

Directions: In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the eggs and cream. In a third bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt and add that to the creamed mixture alternately with the egg mixture. Pour into a greased 13-x-9-x-2 inch backing pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cut into squares and serve warm.

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