Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

December 8, 2013

VASICEK: Weddings, ribbon cuttings, and sauerkraut

By Ed Vasicek
Guest columninst

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Today’s column surveys some highlights in my recent crazy life. The craziness isn’t recent, just the particular highlights.

My son and his fiancee were scheduled to get married the Saturday after Thanksgiving (and did). But about a week and a half before Thanksgiving, they called is to let us know they were going to make a trip to Kokomo to celebrate Thanksgiving with us. They would carpool from their respective St. Louis suburbs, a six-hour journey.

After the call, I got to work. I routinely make homemade sauerkraut in our three-gallon crock. We keep the crock in our basement. After about 7 days, I repeat the usual discussion with my wife: “No, that’s not the trash you smell. It’s the sauerkraut.” During that time, if you want to know where I live, follow your nose! After day 10, the smell dissipates.

With the wedding coming up, I thought I would prepare my next batch after Dec. 1, but my son’s call changed all that. Because sauerkraut with Polish sausage is my son’s favorite Thanksgiving dish (perhaps the favorite of John Smithicek, too — you know, the Slovak aboard the Mayflower?), it was time for me to ferment the cabbage. “Ferment” is the polite term for “rot.”

The wife purchased four large heads of cabbage, I used a vegetable mandolin to shred the cabbage, loaded it with kosher salt, punched it down with a wooden mallet, added water, and put a plate over it all. I topped the plate with a brick to keep the cabbage below brine level. I spread a cloth over the crock to keep out dust.

I follow this routine probably 10 times a year. Marylu’s part is to clean up the shrapnel – there are shreds of cabbage several feet away from the work area.

Life returned to normal, but then I read about the ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring our governor, congressman and mayor. I did not have the time to attend the ceremony, but I went anyway. It was a “chilly day,” as Rev. Lee of Second Baptist Church described it during the invocation. The speeches were brief and timely. Perfect, actually. The music from the KHS band was invigorating and as brisk as the weather.

As I stood among the large crowd there were perhaps two people besides the mayor who even recognized me, and no one I knew well. Strange how crowds are. When I attend the Park Band concert or Kokomo Community Concerts, I see many folks I know. Same is true at Koh-koh-mah, while grocery shopping and at most community events. “This,” I thought to myself, “is a different crowd.” Still mulling that over.

Driving back on the new 31, I noticed that the signs around Boulevard missed the mark. “Designed,” I thought to myself, “by someone who is unfamiliar with Kokomo.” Instead of reading, “E. Boulevard,” the signs read, “East Blvd,” as though the name of the street was East, and the type of street a boulevard. Hmm.

Soon it was Thanksgiving and we enjoyed the holiday with our son and soon-to-be daughter-in-law. We are exuberant that these two have found one another.

On Friday, we headed to a small town near Macomb, Ill. The wedding would be within the confines of a small Baptist Church (that could seat nearly half the town of 200). When Saturday arrived, the weather was beautiful and so was the wedding ceremony.

I had the honor of officiating. The couple chose my favorite ceremony, the traditional, “Dear beloved, we are gathered together here...” Sadly, they wanted me to use my own voice, not that of the British Archbishop of Canterbury or the officiant in the Princess Bride movie. So I naturally obliged.

That day we added another Vasicek to the census. On Sunday, we drove home. We were overjoyed. We know that life cannot always be this happy, so we must cherish those special times. Thanks for letting me share some of them with you!

Ed Vasicek is pastor of Highland Park Church and a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at edvasicek@comcast.net.