Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Plate That They're On

Last night I put up a picture on our Deer Run facebook page of vegan egg nog muffins. As I said then, probably only the second time I've baked since Irma. Between having to throw out thousands and thousands of dollars of ingredients, and also have some equipment impacted, I just cannot find my way in the kitchen right now. But..... muffins are doable, and in the spirit of the season I thought I'd come up with something not so run of the mill as far as a seasonal flavor. Anyway, the muffins came out pretty darn great, and I wanted to put them on a holiday plate for the picture. When I posted the picture, I said something about maybe someday I'll talk about the plate they're on.

Vegan eggless nog muffins
On "the plate"

Let's talk.

When dad was alive, he would give me gifts at Christmas of certain things that were cumulative over time. Crystal for example. I have this amazingly gorgeous set of lead crystal which I have not used once since I moved to Florida. In fact, I even wrote about that crystal on a prior blog post, because I remember writing about how a box I picked up one day actually still had a shred of Christmas paper attached. It was causing me angst because I have these things that I do not use, but couldn't seem to part with.

Irma has given me quite a change of perspective.

Take, for example, the plate those muffins are on. Along the lines of those "cumulative" gifts from dad was a set of Spode "Christmas Tree" dishes. He started me on them, and kept me going for years. I actually really liked them, and I began to pick up little "fillers" here and there as I would see them at thrifts (not often for Spode, but it happens), on sale in department stores (goes to show how long ago this dates back for me), and other stores. I had some nifty pieces like a cake cutter, a quiche dish (used quite often as it was just a perfect size for my own chickpea quiches) and other neat pieces that aren't really dishes. I was looking in my cabinets a year or so ago and decided some things had to be packed up since I wasn't using them, and this included my Spode. I had so much of it all in protective china cases and boxes. I pulled it all out of the cabinets and packed everything away into plastic tubs. And, then I put them into my storage trailer where I also had the bulk of my personal items which were removed from here when we put the place on the market.

Hello Irma. You really suck.

Irma took our storage trailer, and everything inside. She didn't flood it. She took it. She moved it from here to there, and along the way she decided just taking it wasn't enough, she wanted the exclamation point of it actually exploding into pieces. Even writing these words actually cause a sort of nausea for me. The things that were in there and will never recover... maybe I'll never completely come to grips with the personal nature of it actually. I'm not talking about things like clothing (although that was in there too), it's more like the tubs and tubs of photographs going back decades before I was even born. My books, I'm a book lover. I love the smell of the, the feel of them, and the experience of reading a book instead of a computer screen. 95% of my books are gone (cookbooks excluded). Things like that which would have no value to anyone else, but were irreplaceable to me. So sad. Anyway.... Irma took the Spode. All of it. Gone. Vanished.

Not too long after Irma, I put a video up about my experience with "death cleaning." I was surprised when I opened up the cabinets where the Spode used to live and saw that it was already gone. In that moment, I realized yet another thing that was gone not by my choice. Big empty spaces in those cabinets where years of memories through dishes used to be. I even used the Spode during Christmas time here for guests. Not every day, but I used it. Not because it was Christmas, but because it brought me good memories.

I've been out to the Coupon Bight several times searching for things that Irma took, including clothing, photos, books, paintings, furniture, you name it. I found so little, but there were a few victories. One of the lowest moments for me after the storm was the time I was out in the Coupon Bight in the post storm blistering heat. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, I was wearing my non-fishing fishing boots, a swimsuit and sobbing as I sifted through the silt trying to retrieve as much of grandma's silverware as possible. At that moment, a rental carload of 'bags came down the not-yet-repaired street still rife with asphalt washouts, (so obviously not from around here in their shiny new Mustang convertible, laughing) holding their iPhones up high recording every image, including me. It was humiliating, sickening, infuriating, and a moment I just wanted to give in to all my misery and run away. I didn't go back out there anymore after that until the other happy vegan and I went out there together in an effort to survey the wreckage of the Save-A-Turtle trailer and see what we could salvage from that for the non-profit (so very little, unfortunately). Yeah, that trailer also was eaten by Irma, and I've not gone back out there again since, but the other happy vegan has made a few trips on his own. Alone, he's brought a kayak to load anything he found, just as I had done in the early post-Irma days. After one of those trips I saw a small pile of mud encrusted zippered china/dish protectors sitting in the sand near my sad room. I knew immediately what it was.... Spode! I plopped myself down in the sand and unzipped every case right then and there. Not a single dish had nary a chip or crack. They had been submerged for more than 2 months, ripped out with a huge storm surge pushed by winds that reports say at times were in excess of 150 mph in my zone.

After I unwrapped each plate, I soaked them in tubs with anti bacterial cleaners, scrubbed them with soap and a special scrubby, rinsed them, and then ran them through twice in my superheated dishwasher (new, also since Irma). I stacked them, opened the cabinet where they had lived for well over a decade since I moved here, and put them right back where they sat all those years before I moved them into the trailer as an "unnecessary" item, although they no longer sit in their protective pouches, and there's a mere fraction of what used to be.

None of the special cute pieces have been located, including the cake server, and the quiche dish. Not a single cup has been located, but almost all the saucers have been retrieved. I don't have all the plates, cake plates, salad plates, rather just a few of each. But, I do have some. I know I did a death cleaning after Irma, but I feel like these dishes are meant to be kept, at least I'll say not meant to be given away just yet.

It was astonishing to me to come full circle with something as innocuous as plates. But for whatever reason(s), these dishes are a sign of either ridiculous excess, or the exact opposite. I'm not sure which, and actually since most days I'm not really coping very well navigating life and all the bombs that come with it since September 10, I'll try not to read too much into any of this. But.... I cannot help but to some tiny extent think of my dad more than ever right now. It's been really difficult to go through the storm, and everything that's happening since. The ground is constantly moving under us both personally and with our business since Irma, we are constantly adjusting our sails and it's exhausting at a time when I'm already exhausted.

So, I have some Spode and it's a pretty safe bet that I'll be eating off that plate after December is long gone. Seems like the right thing to do, when there are no rules anymore anyway. I think a nice red dragonfruit will look just as beautiful on it as the vegan eggless nog muffins.

And that is the story of the plate that they're on.

Vegan love my friends.


  1. The muffins look delicious, and I'm so happy that you found some of your special plates!

  2. Thank you for the story of your plates. You reminded me of perspectives that I often overlook in my day to day life.

  3. I'm glad you salvaged some of the plates, that's lovely - and yes to using them all year round! Good to see you've been baking again too, the muffins sound delicious!