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June 30, 2022

Keeping ‘Hope’ Alive Today

There is a fine line between hope and expectations. In the latter, you are mostly depending on others to help you achieve an end to your desires, whereas hope is a positive feeling generated from within oneself—a desire that something might happen.

Emily Dickinson’s metaphor in part reads:

Hope is a thing with feathers that perches in the soul

and sings a tune without the words, and never stops at all

Among Charles Dickens’ great books was one titled “Great Expectations,” and his other was “A Christmas Carol,” the story of Tiny Tim and his struggling family who through great adversity never gave up Hope.

“Great Expectations” is a story of another long-struggling family. This story depicts the main character ‘Pip’ as an orphan living in Kent, England. Pip had great expectations to make something of himself and to marry his childhood love, Estelle, who he had lost once, but years later found her as a widow. With great expectations, he uttered the words “I saw no shadow of another parting of her.”

I am almost positive every new parent, with noses pressed to the glass window of a hospital’s nursery, has the greatest of all expectations. By working together as a family, they are confident their child will far surpass what they as parents have achieved in their lifetime. 

Our gentle Nuns in the convent where I grew up, were mainly concerned that our souls would be saved; that we would grow into modest, kind and God-fearing women in order to achieve this end. Anything more than that would have been for us to meet and marry a young man instilled with the same values as ours. 

My Virginia-born and farm-raised family used the word ‘spects,’ which was as close as they ever came to the word expectations.

Grandma Alley ‘spects’ grandpa will come in early as the rain is really coming down too hard to plow, and Aunt Betty ‘spects’ she’d better bake more bread cause it’s time for some family to show up unexpectedly over the weekend.

My family members in the 1930s were struggling through the depression era. When asked how they were doing, they would answer with the words ‘barely makin’ it’ or ‘just getting by.’ Coming out of the depression the words ‘we hope’ were finally being used in the middle 1930s. ‘We expect’ not used so much until the late-1940s when family lives were beginning to return to normal and they were expecting their servicemen and women to be returning home from the war.

Great expectations entered my life shortly after my marriage to hubby Norman. And then the one thing happened that I had hope for. That small bird who had perched within my soul for so long took flight the day Norman and I met. It is true. Hope springs eternal.

Soon after Norman and I were married, expectations were written down on paper in the form of a five-year plan and updated every five years. We both expected and hoped together through the next 42 years.

Today, time and common sense tell me that I no longer should have great expectations, but once again should reach deep inside my soul for hope, that beautiful hope that Emily Dickinson wrote so poignantly about so many years ago. Hope that my life without my hubby Norman will become content with time.

Hope that I can take the time that I have left to continue working with those less fortunate than myself and to continue writing for the people who say how much they enjoy reading my column and my cooking show Plain Talk About Food. Each Tuesday at 2pm on KBCZ 89.3FM Boulder Creek Community Radio, I share thoughts about cooking special meals for my family and friends. While today, I have hope that the marmalade I have cooking on my stovetop will set.

Considering the amount of work all of this involves as well as my age, perhaps I do have great expectations after all.

For those of you who have the great fortune of owning a producing Kumquat or Lemon Tree, this recipe is for you.

Kumquat Marmalade with Vodka (7 half-pints)

In a bowl, pour 2 cups of vodka over 4 cups whole Kumquats cut into 1/4 in. strips lengthwise. Cover with Saran wrap and let sit on countertop 10 days. Stir once a day.

On day 11, remove seeds and pour fruit into a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to a simmer and cook ½ hour.

Add 1 package of fruit pectin (Sure-jell) and bring to a rolling boil and add 6 ½ cups sugar.  Boil for 1 minute.

Immediately pour hot fruit into hot sterilized half-pint-sized jars and seal tightly.

Turn upside down onto a dish towel and cover with another towel until lids have ‘popped’ down.


Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at [email protected].

Colly Gruczelak
Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at [email protected]

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