Freeing the voices in my head

Posts tagged ‘Holidays’

A Sailor’s Wife Is Me, Yo-Ho!

When my love graduated from Maritime College, we set a date to be married in October of 1979.  It was my favorite month: my birthday month, crisp Autumn days, and Halloween — my favorite holiday, so it seemed fitting to add a wedding in there.  Since he graduated in May and was immediately headed to a ship on the Great Lakes, it was left to me to do all the stuff involving the wedding.  He would be home in September, in time to help with final details and bring a good amount of money to pay the bills.

I was working at the local mall and used my laughable paycheck for small items.  We weren’t planning a big wedding; just a few friends and family members.  Our guest list was about 25 people long.  I went to a local stationary slash art supply store and discovered I had to order at least 100 invitations.  Plain, cream-colored with pretty calligraphy and no extra fancy stuff; okay, fine, order ’em so they’ll get here in time to be given out or mailed out.

A small bridal shop just down the road was next.  Nothing fancy, the owner was the only employee, and I was left to browse the racks of dresses on my own.  I fell in love with the first one in my size that I tried on.  It was soft, flowing, with no itchy lace and, best of all, was only $250 dollars!  I put down a deposit and happily went off to work.

July rolled around and nothing else was done because of busy days at work and, well, I had lots of time still for flowers, a restaurant, a cake, finding a church or maybe just a justice of the peace…then, my mother and sisters hit town.  “Do you have the rings yet?”  Um, no, I don’t have that kind of money, but Randy will and we’ll go pick something out when he gets home.  “What church are you using?”  No idea, we aren’t into religion, and neither are you, Mom!  “Where’s the reception going to be?”  Um…and the questions kept coming.  But what sent Mom and older sister into tizzies was The Dress.

“You already got The Dress?  The FIRST Dress you tried on?  Did you try on any others?  Oh, no, this won’t do.  We have to go, now!”

Sigh…

We descended on the little shop and my domineering mother took over.  While I rolled my eyes and mouthed apologies to the shop owner, Mom and Big Sis attacked the dress racks.  The first ten gowns were piled into my arms and I was shoved into the fitting room.  Gack, lace, ruffles, bustles, a gazillion pearl buttons no bigger than a pinhead, mile long trains — they apparently forgot how clumsy I am — and prices I expected to see on new cars, not a dress I was only gonna wear once!  Thank god we were the only customers but I still refused to leave the dressing room in those “things.”  I let the enemy peek in, gratified to see their faces scrunch up in dismay at the sight of me in their choices.

I didn’t even try on the next ten dresses.  The owner, bless her, had taken pity on me and brought me MY Dress.  I slipped it on, she zipped it up, and pulled aside the curtain with a smile.  It fit perfectly, it flowed, it soothed my crumpled ego…and it made Big Sis smile while bringing Mom to tears.  Hey, I know what looks good on me!  Mom paid  it off and got me a pair of matching shoes and a veil.  Whew, done and no one got pissed off!

Smooth sailing for three more months?  Nope.  Randy came home, early, really early, in July, with only one paycheck and a tale that should have sent me running far away.  He was off watch, sleeping in his rack (bed) one night as the Captain navigated the ship across Lake Superior.  He woke up when his rack tilted 180 degrees and dumped him on the floor.  Yeah, the ship was tilting that far because the Captain had run it aground.  Brand new Third Mate Eldred made it to the bridge and was the one who finally got the ship free.  Then he packed his duffel and quit, unwilling to work on a vessel where he had more experience navigating the ship than the Captain did!

Well, he returned home to wedding chaos.  The guest list had jumped to 125 people, thanks, Mom, not.  I bought a generic package of somewhat sorta matching invitations at the local mall.  My soon-to-be mother-in-law offered to bake the wedding cake.  Randy and I picked out our rings; just two plain wedding bands but mine had to be sized down and would be ready in a week or so.  My bridesmaid and maid of honor had two dresses that matched my wedding gown in style, so no one had to buy a dress they’d never wear again.  Randy’s littlest sister was our flower girl and his mom sewed her a pretty little dress that matched.  (That lady had seven kids and little money; baking from scratch and sewing clothes was second nature to her!  Besides, she wanted to help and my mother wasn’t giving an inch!)

Progress was being made, so, of course, we had to have another crisis.  From the moment he got home, Randy was calling around to shipping companies, calling the job list offered by the college, calling, calling everyone he knew to get a new job.  And, yes!  A company wanted him!  But, no!  They wanted him for a four month cruise and he had to be on board the ship by the end of AUGUST!  Well, shit!  We had to make a choice: postpone the wedding until December or January (ugh, my two least favorite months, along with February) or move the wedding up to early August.

We set the date: August 3rd.  Bless our families and friends; they rallied forth, they called in favors, they helped us make it happen.  My parents reserved the banquet room of a lovely Italian restaurant.  They were friends with the owners and got a good discount.  Getting my bouquet and the other flowers is a blur — my mom took me somewhere and the florist came up with the design.  All I was asked to do was pick my favorite flowers and colors: irises and roses, purple, blue, and green.

As for the church… We drove by a little church a lot.  It was one of the oldest churches in town, barely more than a chapel, but it was cute and although we’d never gone to a service there, we liked it.  With time restraints pushing us, we stopped in and convinced the pastor to marry us there.  Randy’s sister was hoping to pursue a career in photography and we contracted her to take photos of our day.  The only tux we needed was Randy’s; the other guys all had gray suits in the same style.

On the morning of our afternoon wedding, Big Sis woke up with an abscessed tooth.  It was a Friday and Mom called her dentist friend from when we were kids and our family lived three houses down from him (his office was in his home).  He would see her, if we could get her there immediately.  Panic, though, because who could take M.L. to the dentist?  Everyone was busy, busy, busy!  Except for…the bride.

Yeah, well, I had nothing to do until a half hour before the wedding.  My dress was simple, my hair would just be loose and flowing, the way I liked it, I was showered, shaved, and bored with sitting in a corner watching my drama queen family freak out over tiny details.  So I took Big Sis to the dentist.  I sat in the waiting room with my book, perfectly calm and content, and laughed out loud when I overheard this:

Dr. Glenn: “Well, what a way to start your big day, eh?  Don’t worry, we’ll get you fixed up in no time and you’ll be a smiling bride.”

Grunts from Big Sis.

Dr. Glenn: “Oh, you aren’t the bride?”

More grunts.

“Really?”  And sweet ol’ Dr. Glenn actually stepped into the waiting room and stared at me.  I smiled and waved.  “Well, aren’t you nervous at all?”

Me:  “Nope.  I’m just happy this day is here.”

In fact, I didn’t get nervous until everyone had dashed off to the church and I put on The Dress.  My dad was the only one left at the apartment — he was the manager of a car dealership and was driving me to the church in a dealer’s demo car, a brand new Lincoln!

After all the agonizing over music, and the lovely gift of our talented friend Holly playing the organ and singing, I don’t remember any of the music.  Randy says all he remembers is his knees shaking and his dad holding him up (or keeping him from running away).

It was a wonderful day, pulled together in a few wild weeks because of so many people.  And it set the course for much of our life together — adventures done on the fly, on impulse, with pieces of what was needed appearing at the last minute.   There have been storms and calm waters, floods (for real!) and dry stretches, but we keep going, sailing along and hoping we won’t sink.

We just celebrated our 33rd anniversary.  If I had known a sailor’s wife must brave Life’s storms alone for months, would I have married my Merchant Marine?  I like to think so, because, yes, when he gets home, everything is worth it.  🙂

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Have A Crazy New Year!

I’m back!  I slept!  I went grocery shopping!  I’m safely home!  It’s New Year’s Eve!  Indulge in exclamation points!

Oh, come on, you KNOW “Happy New Year” is an oxymoron, right?  So, ditch the “Happy” and go for “Crazy!”  Crazy is so much better.  Suddenly, there’s no longer any pressure to be right or correct or productive.  No one dares ask you to do much of anything because, well, hey, “she’s the crazy one!”

Crazy is much more fun.  Spend a few minutes in a grocery store talking to the produce lady about bananas…  “I only need three; they spoil so quickly.”  “Oh, but they are so good for you,” she told me.  “I wouldn’t know.  They’re for my dog.”  Bananas – 78 cents a pound, the look on that lady’s face – priceless!

Climb the bottom two shelves of the milk department (I’m 5’3″) to reach the last tiny carton of whipping cream.  Not happening (and why are the tiny cartons way up there in the stratosphere?  Men don’t know how to use whipping cream, so why is it up out of a woman’s reach?).  Glance behind you at the muffled laughter as a polite young lady of the Asian persuasion attempts to help you.  Hey, she had the extra two inches we needed to find ANOTHER tiny carton hidden behind mine.  High-five each other to random applause and raised eyebrows…yeah, crazy’s good!

Compliment the cashier.  Today’s girl had a lovely hair style, so I complimented her.  She patted her do, saying, “But I only had time to brush it.”  “Brushing’s good; it’s so smooth and shiny.”  I whipped off my hat.  “I have demented poodle meets light socket hair.  Wanna trade?”  *cackle, snort*  Shuffle away…but, she was laughing!

My apologies for last night’s blog, but I’m feeling much better now!  (Night Court, loved John Astin, loved that show!)  Or maybe the pain pills are finally working…

Have a Crazy – okay – Happy New Year, Everyone!  😀

 

Pain on the Brain

Or, the Brain on Pain? Either way, being in pain pretty much short-circuits any proper brain function.

Another year over, whoop-dee-do, whatever. No resolutions for me; I fail at everything, every day, all day, don’t have to add more, thank you very much.

Two weeks til next dentist appointment; maybe this time they’ll get it right – they have incentive, no more insurance & my bank account is so empty even spiders won’t live there, but the cobwebs look so pretty I don’t think I’ll deposit any more money into it for the bank to steal when I’m not looking. Honestly, I only drive 2 miles down the road for groceries, don’t go anywhere else ‘cept maybe karaoke on Wednesdays once or twice a month, how the hell can my bank account be empty?! No, I’m not agoraphobic (or however the hell ya spell it), I have no problem leaving my house, but, I live in Houston.

That doesn’t explain it? Ah, you’re lucky. I’ve driven in almost every major city of the USA – even Los Angeles & Vegas! I refuse to drive in Houston unless it’s absolutely an emergency. Out here, everyone is on a cell phone and thinks “Green light, stop; Red light, GO!” Very dangerous, scary place…I wanna go home, ah, New York, I miss you. Even Tucson, AZ would be better!

Um, hmmm, stream of ranting thoughts fading. I think the pretty pink pain pills are kicking in, maybe they’ll help me sleep for more than THREE friggin’ hours!

Oh, by the way, all grumpiness aside:
May you all have a Happy New Year! 😀

My Best Christmas Gift

Kinda sounds like one of those “What I did on My Christmas Vacation” reports we used to be forced to do in school, right?  Do they torment kids like that these days?  I could rehash a few for you.  “I got phew-ammonia and puked in the hamster cage.”  No?  Okay, how about the time we drove home from Endicott, NY to Schenectady, NY inna blizzard and Daddy hit a deer?  The deer was fine, got up and walked away, but we spent Christmas night inna ditch?  Mmm, nope…ooo, I know!  We survived the Ice Storm of ’63!  Or was it ’68?  Anyway, we went sledding on cookie sheets down the frozen drift – from my brother’s second-story bedroom window to the street!

And no, I didn’t see the Christmas Star or an angel…  My Christmas Star is a man.  He’s a Merchant Marine – civilian sailors, the guys on oil tankers, dredges, tug boats, non-military (most of the time) – and my husband.  His work schedule was often unpredictable.  He could be out for three months, home for one, or be called back to the ship after only a week home.  Holidays had to be as fluid as the ocean.  Quite often, our kids’ best Christmas gift was a phone call from Daddy, full of static and short because ship to shore calls were extremely expensive.  (This was twenty-plus years ago – long before computers, cell phones, all the toys that we take for granted today.)

Yet, somehow, Randy managed to make Christmas special.  His voice lifted our spirits and reminded us we were loved.  When he could, he would mail a letter or card.  A few times, he shopped early and hid the presents, just in case he wouldn’t be home on Christmas morning.  He once hid them under a huge pile of clothes I was supposed to wash and then take to the Salvation Army store.  He forgot to tell me they were there.  I was busy and never got around to doing that laundry.  We found those gifts three months after Christmas.

One year, when we lived in upstate New York near Syracuse, Randy’s ship was dredging sand along the East Coast.  Normal people would ask why we didn’t go visit for a day or why he couldn’t drive home for a weekend.  “New York City’s only four hours away.  Why don’t you take the kids down to the Port there and visit him?”  Hmm, sorry, no, it doesn’t work that way.  Merchant mariners may not be military, but they operate along the same guidelines.  I could explain it to you, but this is a blog, not a book.

And, yes, it was depressing knowing he was that close and we couldn’t be together.  My little sister and her husband visited us that year.  I had people I loved in my house, their sweet toddler was a living doll our little girl was enjoying babying and our boys were teaching naughty tricks to, we had laughter, presents, good food, and, I was lonely.  My husband wasn’t overseas that year, he was in the same state, and we couldn’t have him with us.  He hadn’t even been able to call us, which pissed me off because he could have used normal phone connections instead of a marine operator.

The weather was lovely – fresh snow, cold but not frigid, and a sunny Christmas morning.  My sister and I were making French toast for breakfast, still in our pajamas and robes because in my house, no one gets dressed in real clothes until noon on Christmas Day.  Christine’s husband looked out the window and asked, “Do you know anyone who drives a white van?”

“No.  Why?”

Jeff pointed outside.  “He’s in your driveway.”

At eight o’clock on Christmas morning, after being up until dawn wrapping gifts, I had the brain function and curiosity of a dust bunny.  Christine had helped me, but managed to be a chirping chickadee – god, how I hate morning people.  She was also more of a city girl than I and instantly alarmed at the sight of a plain, unmarked, paneled white van skulking up my driveway (visions of kidnappers dancing in her head).  “Where are the kids?  Call the police.  Jeff,” she prodded her husband, “is your gun in the car?  Put on your boots, chase him away!”

I yawned.  “Sweetie, Chief Willy lives two houses down and is probably still asleep.  It’s a small town, everybody knows everybody else.  They’re someone’s relatives, using my driveway to turn around.”  I flipped the bread in the pan and heard Jeff say, “Huh, he parked.  He’s getting out!”  Dear Jeff, the most open, honest, heart-on-his-sleeve guy, and I heard the lift in his voice.  Something had just made him very happy and Christine squealed with joy.

I whipped around and ran to the window.  By that time, the driver had the back of the van open.  Jeff scrambled to shove his feet in his boots as the driver unloaded boxes and bags.  I knew the curve of that strong back, the tilt of that beloved head…I beat Jeff out the door, dashing through the snow in my slippers, and was caught up in a hug that nearly crushed my ribs before I crashed into the side of the van.  I have no memory of going back inside the house, I think he carried me because my feet were turning blue and Jeff carried all the gifts.  I do remember that kiss – one that hurls fireworks down into your stomach and buckles your knees, a kiss that requires your love to hold you upright because you no longer have any bones in your body.

The ship had been put in dry-dock for a quick repair at New York City Harbor.  The captain gave Randy 24 hours off the clock, just enough time…  Randy asked if he could borrow the port captain’s van to make a trip home.  He stopped at a 24-hour Kmart outside the city and bought what he could with the cash he had.

After the excitement of kids climbing all over Daddy and ripping into the gifts he’d brought, we settled into the rest of the day and enjoyed our Christmas feast.  In the afternoon, my sweet sister and her dear hubby giggled and winked and bundled up children.  “We’re taking them to the park to go sledding!” they called out.  I think Randy and I were upstairs before the back door slammed shut.

Cuddled together, beginning to hear the happy voices of our loved ones returning home, Randy whispered, “I didn’t get you a gift.  I’m sorry.”

“Silly man, I have the best gift of all, right here.”

 

 

 

 

 

Sugared Snowballs

I was going to post a fictional story today, but spent the entire morning making Snowball cookies.  They’re also known as “Russian Teacakes,” but these aren’t those insipid, weird tasting ones you buy in the store.  It’s a simple recipe, so I don’t know why the homemade ones are so much better!  Maybe it’s because there are no preservatives in homemade ones?  Anyway, you start with half a pound of butter – real, salted butter – never stick margarine (which has been proven to be bad for our bodies.  The soft spread stuff in the tub is okay, but still, for these cookies, you must use butter!), let it soften and then cream it.  Add a cup of confectioner’s sugar, some salt, vanilla, flour, ground nuts (your choice – I use almonds), and roll teaspoon-sized nuggets of yum in your hands.  Yep, it takes hours!

I believe baking from scratch is a form of Art.  Standing there today in my pretty kitchen, baking the one thing I excel at, I took a stroll through Memory Town.  I come from a vast mix of Italian families.  My Aunt Colleen lived in Tuckahoe, NY, about half an hour from NYC.  She and Uncle Charlie owned a huge house and had room to take in Grandpa Georgie.  Since they were central to everyone else, most relatives would go to their home for the holidays.  When the door opened, you could smell Aunt Colleen’s progress in her art as it drifted outside, tempting you to head straight for the kitchen.

Ah, but wait, she was a fastidious housewife (and registered nurse, but that’s another story) and woe to the child who entered her home with boots or shoes on.  We stood in a dripping crowd on her doormat (the house was always too hot – from the cooking and because Grandpa Georgie was always cold, so the snow we were covered with melted pretty quickly), half a dozen cousins, my three siblings and I, yanking off mittens, coats, and boots.  Bumping elbows and hissing at each other to move out of the way, someone (usually me) always ending up shoved to the floor, frantically avoiding sharp knees and stamping feet.  When our outerwear was hanging on the coat rack to dry and our boots neatly lined up on newspapers laid on the floor to protect it, then we could step out of the foyer.

For Italians, my mom’s family wasn’t very demonstrative.  A quick peck on the cheek, a stiff hug, and a courteous short bow to the old man glowering at us from his throne, um, chair at the head of the dining room table.  I don’t remember Grandpa Georgie speaking much to any of the kids.  This was the sixties and children were expected to speak only when ordered to and only be seen when commanded to be present.  The older men would sit themselves at that huge table in stone silence until all children had left the room.  The younger men would go into the living room where they were allowed to watch TV.  No child was allowed in the living room and, honestly, we didn’t want to go in there.  It was a formal room, magazine perfect, with plastic covering every fabric and delicate glass knick-knacks arranged on all surfaces.  The fancy silver artificial Christmas tree took up one corner of the room (Oh, how my Aunt Colleen hated real trees with their mess and bother.  She embraced the brand-new fad of fake trees with glitter-eyed fervor!).  The beautifully wrapped gifts under it were artfully displayed and for show only.

The kids were herded into the kitchen by the mothers, aunts and older female cousins.  As the door swung shut on us, Grandpa and his co-horts would start talking – in Italian, which would immediately switch to English if we poked our heads back into that room, New York English and usually one shouted line from Uncle Max: “Getchure noise back in dere!”  (And Uncle Max’s brother in his razor-sharp black suit never spoke, never sat down; he stood behind Uncle Max, staring out the big picture window.  Yeah, I suspected the same “connection.”)

The women spoke Italian, too, mixed with English for the poor misguided daughters-in-law and ignorant children.  They’d chatter away, swatting at various child-sized body parts reaching up to snatch a goodie from the counters.  The teen cousins had the job of parking the youngsters at the kitchen table with a big box of arts and crafts supplies.  That half of the kitchen was our domain and the real Christmas tree next to the table awaited our decorative efforts (The real presents would appear under that tree on Christmas morn!).  It was an excellent way to distract us from the activity going on in the other half of the kitchen.  The male cousins would string the lights on the tree while we plastered our creations with glue and glitter, paper and paint, carving cut-out snowflakes and threading popcorn chains.  Ah, those horrible children’s scissors that couldn’t cut a blessed thing!  The girls would beg for help and the boys would sneak over to the junk drawer and dig for the real scissors.  We knew better than to grab the shining nurse’s scissors peeking from the pocket of Aunt Colleen’s brilliant white uniform hanging in the laundry room; those were very sharp and very special, a tool embodied with mystery and fear (hospitals…shudder!).

It was a big kitchen but comfortable.  It was where Aunt Colleen could be messy, where WE could be messy, and not feel like the world would come to an end.  Every burner had a bubbling pot on it and all three (Yes, three!) ovens had goodies baking inside.  I don’t know how my aunt convinced Uncle Charlie to install a double-decker oven.  It was unheard of back then, and the range had a perfectly good oven.  He was a dentist and the wealthiest man in the family (aside from Uncle Max, who lived in a mansion near Endicott, NY with chain-link fences and big black dogs strolling about with a number of big stern men in black suits….hmm?  Later, later, for that story, my friends!).  I think Charlie loved who Colleen turned into when she was in that kitchen, happy, relaxed, and churning out awesome yummies, so he indulged her.

The woman could cook!  She was queen in there, directing her troops, tasting each sauce, basting, pounding…thin slices of tender veal covered in seasoned breadcrumbs and painted with lemon butter; steak pounded thin, stuffed with more breadcrumbs, mozzarella, stewed tomatoes and roasted bell peppers, rolled up and tied with string (bragioli?  Saints forgive me, I’ve forgotten how to spell it!); prime rib, cooked to juicy perfection, dripping a bloody sauce; and the bird – a massive turkey, fresh off some farm upstate, plucked by hand and dressed to the nines!  Every side dish you can think of, a myriad of soups, and an antipasto in a giganormous platter that took two people to lift!

Aunt Colleen could bake, too.  There would be sugar cookies laid out on plates beside small bowls of colored frosting, sugar sprinkles, cinnamon candies, and it was our delightful task to decorate them (and no one minded if we ate most of them before the butter-cream frosting could set).  Snicker-doodles, gingerbread men, macadamia buttons…and two pies, cherry and apple, cooling on the sill of the open window.  That was lovely, but that was it.  Colleen’s forte was cooking.  Her little sister, my mother, was the primo baker in the family.

I don’t know how they did it – all those women fluttering about in that kitchen – but at some point, when an oven was empty, when a counter had been cleared, my mom would pull out the cookbook she’d inherited from her mother.  It was ancient, the leather cracked, the pages stained, scraps of paper tucked inside, and recipes that called for substitutions of ingredients Grandma Louise didn’t have and couldn’t get in the Depression-Era days when that cookbook was pristine and new.  Notes scribbled in the margins of what worked, what didn’t and how to fix it; handwriting identical to my mom’s, the cursive letters so tiny and precise.  The book would open on its own to a particular page: the Snowball cookie recipe.  That recipe called for an army of cousins putting it together while Mom rolled out pie crusts.  Our noses would come up, our mouths would drool, and we’d stare as our quiet aunt took a break to sit with us and chat while my (much) louder, and (much more) chaotic mother took over her kitchen.

I’m a good cook and an okay baker; I am nowhere close to the Art these two women created in their kitchens.  My mom’s pie crusts were flaky, light, slightly moist, slightly sweet, somehow as delicious as the tears-of-joy inducing fillings of the pies.  Apple (always better than Aunt Colleen’s, but no one ever said so out loud!), pumpkin, mincemeat, and oh-my-god chocolate with homemade whipped cream (and there was an Art to that foamy num-num as well!), but Mom had two masterpieces: cream puffs dribbled with chocolate glaze and those snowball cookies.  I fail at pie crusts, chocolate pies and cream puffs, but I have managed to master those incredible cookies.

Tiny balls of sugar-coated heaven…we could eat as many of the other cookies as we wanted, but we were only allowed three snowballs each.  No one cared that all that sugar would have us bouncing off the walls – we were bundled up and urged outside to work it off, disappearing for hours in the park behind the house until the teen cousins were sent to shepherd us in for dinner.  No, the limit was imposed because snowball cookies were Grandpa Georgie’s favorite cookie and he didn’t like to share.  Those cookies were the only thing my mother did that he approved of and they were her Christmas gift to her stoic, imperious step-father.

So many years later, I roll the last cookie in confectioner’s sugar and pop it in my mouth.  Another follows, a blissful bite, but the third one makes my teeth hurt and I gulp down a swallow of tea.  I want more and they tempt me, but I’m an adult now and know better.  Three is the limit, perhaps the mothers and aunts knew that as well forty-something years ago.  What I know is that baking those cookies is my favorite tradition, bringing my children and husband sniffing like puppies into the kitchen, and sending me into a haze of sugared memories I hope never fade.

Sweet Dreams to All and a Blessed Good Night!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Snowball Cookies

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

1 cup (two quarters) butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1-2 cups ground nuts (your choice)

Let butter soften, then cream it.  Gradually add sugar and salt.  Blend well.  Stir in nuts and vanilla.  Gradually add flour and mix thoroughly.  Using a measuring teaspoon, shape into balls (anything bigger and the cookies will spread, losing the “snowball” appearance.  They shouldn’t be any bigger than the top of a woman’s thumb.).  Place on ungreased cookie sheet and Bake at 325 degrees for 13 to 15 minutes.  Do NOT Brown!  While still warm, roll in confectioner’s sugar (once cool, Mom would roll them again, but that’s too much sugar for my teeth these days!).  Store in air tight container (I’ve never kept count, but one batch fills a gallon size Ziploc bag!).  Enjoy! 😀