Sunday, May 1, 2011

Why I Don't Work on Sundays

 In a tiny little community called Pine Level three miles northwest of the unharried small town called Leakesville (unharried barring tornadoes, that is), John and Perlena raised five children with dutiful reverence for Sundays.  My parents even called it the Sabbath, as in "Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy."  The only work done around the farm on Sundays was the feeding of critters - two-legged and otherwise.  We didn't get outside playing and forget ourselves, whooping and a-hollering, didn't pop firecrackers or shoot firearms.  All those things were disrespectful to the day set apart by the Almighty as a day of rest.  Mama and Daddy took their rest seriously.

A couple of years after Daddy died, a fellow had come to cut the hay in the ten acre field by Mama's house on a Sunday.  Mama tried to dissuade him but he insisted it was the only time it could be done.  She warned him:  something was going to break but the fellow cut the hay anyways.  On his way home that Sunday evening his truck broke down (with the trailer and tractor and bush hog) well before he reached the Walley Bridge over Big Creek.  Mama said she gave him a proper "I told you so" the very next time she saw him.  He didn't cut hay on any Sunday afterwards, Mama having put the hex on his Sabbath-breaking activity. 

If someone ever did slip around and do work on Sunday, her washing machine broke.  Every time.  I don't know why it was always the washing machine but hearing about it was much worse than paying the repair bill.  It didn't take but a time or two of Mama being inconvenienced by a non-working washing machine to cease work efforts on the Sabbath in Pine Level.

Last fall, preparing for an open house reception, I thought the work was less labor-intensive and even though the end product was for profit, maybe the Almighty wouldn't mind if I got a head start on the busy week.  I should have listened to Him when the egg rolled off the counter and I caught it with my belly, requiring a change of clothes and much wiping of cabinet fronts and floor.

Because I have two Kitchenaid stand mixers and lots of loaf pans, I was making two cream cheese pound cakes simultaneously.  They were to be used in the wonderful dessert that is strawberry lasagna.  Strawberry lasagna is another fine recipe you'll want to google.  The butter, eggs, and cream cheese had been set out the night before.  Loaf pans were buttered and floured and sugar measured out.  Hmmmmm.... There wasn't any plain flour.  No problem riiiight?  There was plenty of self-rising flour, I'd just leave out the other leavening agents.  HE was telling me as the the egg rolled off "Six days shalt thou labor..." but I continued on, determined to sever late-night work time in half by getting ahead of schedule on prep work.  I made the cakes with self-rising flour.  They were put in the oven, temperature set, and started to bake. 

Forty-five minutes into the baking cycle, the aroma was too 'cooked-flour-ish' to not check. If you ever get to the point that you bake a couple of dozen cakes a month, you'll eventually notice that there is a shift in the aroma coming from the oven.  At first, a cake will give off a custardy egg-y aroma and then a sugary-buttery smell, then a cake-ish smell, and finally an almost-roasted flour smell.  Cream cheese pound cakes start in a cold oven;  it takes them a very long time to bake.  They hadn't been in the oven for even half the time required to fully bake and were already smelling that they were almost done! 

I opened the oven door.  I should have left it shut.  The cakes had risen so high, they were touching the top of the oven.  Carefully, oh so carefully, I tried to adjust one of the pans.  The cake batter ruptured/popped/exploded sending raw cake batter upwards to the top of the oven and then falling through the racks to the oven floor.  The other three pans followed the impetus of the first and did the same thing.  What a mess!

I didn't bother trying to do a thing at that point, I could only do one of two things anyways:  take the pans out and dump the batter then and there or let them finish baking and hope for something to be able to salvage.  I opted to let them bake.  Judging when they were done was a bit difficult, almost half of the batter had self-ejected from the pan in the explosive episode.  Eventually they were done, though, and there was nothing left to do but recalculate the profit margin ratio and remember to pick up more cream cheese and eggs at Piggly Wiggly to make more cakes on Monday.

That was just Sunday.  The entire week continued similarly.  I would never have thought that mitochondrial DNA could pass down the Sabbath Work Curse, but it must have!  Tuesday's peanut butter fudge was soft and had to be rolled and dipped in peanut butter chips/parafin to be able to salvage that cost.  Wednesday night's pecan pie bars were baked a little too long and, being unsalvagable, had to be remade Thursday (major adjustment to the profit margin!).  Picking up a bag of self-rising flour to make more Cheddar Bay biscuits (because I configured amounts wrong?  How'd that happen?) that I thought was unopened resulted with a good pound of it on the floor.  Friday, after packing up and leaving, I quickly had to return to the house for the cold items forgotten in the refrigerator.

I've learned my lesson:
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
~Exodus 20:  8 - 11

At least my washing machine is still working.....


  1. I had to comment on this post. I just found you from Cooking with a Kick. You are so right about the Sabbath and to keep it holy, I was raised that way too but originally not from the South but live here now. Your writing is a crack up, I love it and you are so Souther Maryee. Seeing your A cake I thought it might be for the Razorbacks but I am mistaken when I saw you were from Mississippi. Anyway nice to meet you and if you do visit my blog I don't have comments available right now so just hop on over to my FB page. Have a good weekend.

  2. Once again, you've outdone yourself. How very well I remember as a kid the Sabbath and all the rules of what we could and could not do. Living in a rural Southern area but not on a farm, we were never allowed to go to the movies on a Sunday afternoon if we HAD NOT gone to church that morning. And we always went to my Granny's house on Sunday (who did live on a farm with my Aunt Una and Uncle Matt). They only did the milking, egg gathering, and the absolute essentials on that special day, too. The food was always to die for, and the biscuits I can still taste today. (Can't duplicate them, tho!) We would have Sunday School parties on Saturday afternoon, crack open a bunch of cold watermelons, or crank homemade vanilla ice cream, and enjoy the company of many others. It was all so very very good. Thanks Mary, for sharing your stories with us, past and present. It helps us remember "the good old days" too, when we were young, and life was way less complicated. Keep that washing machine going - 6 days a week! >3 Maryb

  3. This is fun to read any time! Yep, it'll really get to you if you push the envelope a leeetle bit too far. Sorry for your mishaps, though. Ah, temptation, that devil Devil is surely a sly one! Love you, Mary

  4. Perhaps this explains why my weeks get so out of hand. Also, why relationships are maintained with a quick phone call. Growing up the Sabbath was a day we spent 4 hours at church, more if there was dinner or a hymn sing after the service. If not we went to my Granny's for dinner. There would be family and friends every single week. Then while my Daddy went home to milk, we would go to visit another set of Grandparents and aunts, uncles and cousins. Thank you for stirring up those memories and giving me reason to rethink how I spend my Sundays. I always look forward to your posts.