March 2023

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Claudine Jones | Scene4 Magazin

Claudine Jones

This month's deadline has crept up on me. It's the 15th, just short of midnight. Maybe I've been a little distracted, I don't know. Coordinating activities has been a little tricky, what with us only having one car for the three of us. Damn catalytic converters. Damn supply chains.

So, in the cold, in the dark I sit and talk at my phone.

I had read a little, waiting to get drowsy, thinking about tomorrow.

Although tonight was interesting. Went over to the church where I hang out with the choir once in awhile, cuz I miss my old retired director who works over there. And I think he may possibly miss working with me. (Resisting the unaccountable urge to insert a smile emoji here.)

Anyway, they were cooking a volunteer meal for 70+…what do they call them these days…house-free people? It was a little intense actually. Got there around 4:30 or so and set to work. The kitchen in the church is typical. Like the old days when we were in the Middle East Peace Committee at the synagogue doing events and showing movies and having guest speakers, and sometimes use  the downstairs industrial style kitchen with all its no-meat rules and protocols for storage. Even so, both these kitchens are invariably crusty. And personally, I think disorganized, but what do I know.

This time I am crowned Queen of the vegetarian pasta sauce. Others are taking care of garlic bread and enormous vats of boiling water and pans of meat sauce. I'm just as glad to be left out of that, not that I am a vegetarian necessarily, I just see what's taking place from across the kitchen, bordering on comical if it hadn't been so dangerous. One guy repeatedly sets his potholder on fire because the gas flames were shooting up. He told me himself that he has been diagnosed with a form of dementia, too. Yikes.

They're really really strict about wearing masks inside the building, but when I first arrived there was just the three of us and we took our masks off, for ease of breathing and so forth. Fast forward a couple hours though, and a stern fellow shows up handing out masks, as though that's the way to reaffirm the mandate. Of course, we already had our masks in our pockets, so it was just a gentle reminder so to speak. Didn't feel like that, felt like Big Brother watching you. But that's okay.

I spent some of the time wishing I had two or three of my tools from home rather than have to dig around through those cavernous drawers that contain so many cast-offs from people's own kitchens, which is not to say that they are particularly mangled. I will say, however, there was one can opener that simply refused to function.

The little conversation that we could have, was pretty much dulled by that concentration on safety, deadlines, and focus on al dente pasta. After all we didn't want to ruin dinner for these folks.

Somebody pokes their head in and says we got some early arrivals! They're real hungry!

I did have a couple of opportunities to ask around who might be going on the proposed choir trip to India next January. I'm myself am not going to go. They sent out the itinerary and yeah, privileged though as it sounds, it was a been-there done-that thing for me. Plus, I really feel like, c'mon, 2 weeks? That's not enough. That's including travel. That's really just getting started. Maybe I am spoiled.

I recall some of my favorite culinary experiences: idli sambar for breakfast on a banana leaf in a place a couple of blocks from our Little India hotel in Singapore, at the start of the trip.  And much later, the boys at the orphanage down south being served masses of what looked like vegetable biryani smacked once again onto the ubiquitous banana leaf, this time by men walking around the lunchroom serving with their hands from metal bowls.

That was in 2012, seems like a lifetime ago. Grandbaby was three and a half, my old man was emailing me back and forth as best we could, considering how lousy computer access was on my end. Telling me about their latest Adventures together. That's when we used take care of him at least 4 days a week or be on call for weekends. At present, he's a 15 year old high school freshman.

Now I'm getting a little sad. Yesterday was Valentine's Day. Silly stuff.

I'm alright on my own.

Still, what I wouldn't give for a little hug from my guy.

Tell him all about my volunteer work in the kitchen.



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Claudine Jones | Scene4 Magazin

Claudine Jones has a long, full career as an Actor/Singer/Dancer. She writes a monthly column
and is a Senior Writer and columnist for Scene4.
For more of her commentary and articles, check the Archives.

©2023 Claudine Jones
©2023 Publication Scene4 Magazine





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