I am the youngest of Sam and Dolly’s six daughters. “The sisters” are the women I turn to for support, guidance, affirmation, information, and love. Susan, Mary Jane, Donna, Sandy and Caroline (and I suppose I need to include me too) all bring unique insights to every situation, even though we come from the same background. Each of us have different strengths and skills.
For example, if you want all of the sisters to know something, tell Sandy. She is a pro at disseminating information in a timely and efficient manner. If you want something organized – a party, your pantry, your dining room table – call Susan. If you want a laugh, just wait until you get the perfect birthday card from Donna. I truly don’t know how she does it year after year. Caroline, or “Crinnie” as we call her, is a pro at crafts and makes the best jams and pickles. And Mary Jane was always honest but never in a spiteful or mean way. As for me – well, I’m good at public speaking and explaining medical information in a crisis. You’d have to ask the others how they would describe me.
Over the years, we have adopted different technologies to stay in touch. For several years, all of us except Crinnie communicated by sister emails. Someone would start a note to the rest, and everyone would respond as time allowed over the course of a day or two. There were several emails which ended, “Now if only Crinnie had email we would be all set! I’ll call her to let her know what’s going on.” One of us would pick up the phone to pass along the latest and then respond to the rest of the group with any new input.
Around 2009, Crinnie joined the new century when she got the internet at her house. She quickly learned how to connect to email and ‘reply to all.’ Within a few weeks, she had learned about emoticons. “I can put a smiley face in, too. Aren’t you all impressed? :-)” Of course we were.
Sometimes the sister emails are used to coordinate sister gatherings. The flurry of notes planning our annual DiNoto Cookie Bake, held at Crinnie’s house on the last Saturday in November, occasionally starts in mid-October. The emails include a list of needed ingredients and our assignments, along with locations of good sales. We should be getting an update from Crinnie any day now.
These days, most of our messaging is done via text. A sister, usually Donna because she is an early morning person, will start a conversation early in the day about a topic. The rest of us will chime in as we are able. Even if we are replying to just one sister, we reply to all and it is up to the recipients to know when a sister is talking directly to you. Often, the topic will change without warning. I often say these strings of texts would make for an interesting study in sister dynamics to an outsider who is not familiar to us.
To illustrate, I offer you this actual series of texts from July which started with a question about chocolate crinkles. Hey – we’re cookie bakers. What did you expect?
Susan: I read the recipe for chocolate crinkles on Sandy’s blog. Then I checked my recipe. Maybe I copied wrong all those years ago, but I only use 1/4 c of oil, not 1/2 c.
Donna: My cookie book recipe calls for 1/2 cup
Me: I’ve never made crinkles.
Donna: (Photo of crinkle recipe in cook book) Some batches are better than others, don’t know why.
Susan: Try using 1/4 cup of oil!
Me: Never. Mare always made them so I never did. Sara makes them now, so I don’t!
Donna: I will because sometimes the dough feels soft, even after having been in fridge overnight.
Donna: Good for you Denise.
Susan: I made some tonight and rolled them in granulated sugar because I felt they would be too delicate to transport if I used confectioners sugar. They reminded me of those chocolate Archway cookies.
(Archway is a brand of cookies which were sold in the store my father managed)
Donna: And they are yummy! The Archway cookies. Remember the guy that rented the garage from dad?
Susan; Yes. And he was reported to the police by a busybody neighbor who thought it was illegal or some sort of Mafia activity.
Donna: Seriously? I don’t remember that, funny.
Susan: True. Because the delivery truck came at night. I remember the police coming to the house to talk to Dad. I’ll ask him on Friday. I’m going to take him up to the VA hospital.
Me: I remember “helping” George, the Archway man.
Donna: That’s his name, was trying to remember. Going to bed, will be in touch.
Sandy: Betty Crocker recipe online uses 1/2 cup. Tried to send link.
Sandy: Yes. Chief Payne asked Dad what was being delivered there. Dad asked him, ‘What do you think?’
Sandy: Dad told him if it was anything more he’d be driving a nicer car!
Donna: Too funny. Dad really does have a good sense of humor.
Crinnie: You’re baking @ 9:00 PM?
Sandy: I was baking at 9 PM too last night. Tried a new lemon butter cookie. Tried to use a cookie press but it was a disaster so I rolled cookies out.
The discussion continued for the next week, although in between we talked about Mom’s skin tear, Dad’s appointment, the aprons my sister Donna made us, and the truck my brother-in-law drives for work. Then, two weeks later we got this message from Susan:
You know the old rule – always be sure you have all the ingredients before you start. Well, I ran out of vanilla so I added mint extract to the chocolate crinkles. Very yummy!
This just goes to prove that all the people who ever said the DiNoto girls never finish a conversation are wrong! It may take us weeks to circle back to our original topic, but we DO come to a conclusion. Eventually.