Tag Archives: mom

Smile

imageNo, this is not a poster for toothpaste.  Or one for striped shirts or vintage wallpaper, although it could be all of those things.  It’s a Friday flashback to the 1950’s.

In which my mothers face says….

  • OMG I have two children, both dressed and with their hair combed!
  • Did I comb my own hair?  I can’t remember. I will smile BIG and no one will notice!
  • Please hurry up and press the shutter button so I can blink my burning eyes!

Of course I don’t know if she was thinking any of those things.  But she does look like a typical slightly frazzled mom, ready to jump up and get back to the million things she’s in the middle of doing.

The room was in our house, or my grandmas, or my aunts, or some other relatives;  I’m too small to remember any of it, or what is so fascinating somewhere up there on the ceiling.

I do remember how popular wainscotting was though.  Beautiful dark wood paneling half way up the walls.  I’m sure my grandma had it in her kitchen, so maybe that’s where we were.  But it was everywhere.  Perfect for banging your kitchen chairs or other furniture against without damaging the walls or wallpaper.  Not a great drawing surface for kids.

One of my mothers favourite qualities in any household item was its ability to “not show the dirt”.  Her choices for walls and floors and upholstery were firmly based on that.  She was aghast when my sister put champagne coloured carpet in her living/dining room.  It didn’t last long after their kids came along, but it was gorgeous when it was new.

And where has the house dress gone?  All the ladies I knew when I was growing up wore nothing but dresses for every occasion, covered up with an apron if they were doing something messy, to keep them nice.  They also covered up the good furniture with slip covers.  And put their out of season clothes in zipped up garment bags with moth balls.

We are influenced by the past, although I never once felt the urge to do housework in a dress.  I have a sort of faux wainscotting in my kitchen with dark paint on the bottom, light on the top, and a wallpaper border to separate them.  The spare room in the last house my parents owned was done up in green and white ivy wallpaper.  Maybe some things just never get old.  Although maybe they should.

Little kids in striped shirts with big smiles and a doting mom – that’s timeless.

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Not Too Wordy Wednesday

image
My mother was born on February 17th, 1917. She lived her life for ninety-one years.  She was seventeen in 1934.  The four numbers in that year add up to seventeen. She told me I was not permitted to go on a car date with a boy until I was seventeen.  Maybe seventeen was her lucky number.

Quiche or Something Like It

Some days you just have to write about Quiche, especially on those days when you threw some together and it turned out on the plus side of edible.

I cooked some bacon until it was dark and crisp. Did I mention in any of my Greece-capades that there was not one breakfast in any of the places we stayed where the bacon was cooked any more than about half way? To me it looked as if they’d warmed it up until the fat melted and then thrown it in a heat tray in a limp and grease sodden mess. Yuck.

Anyway, I cooked the hell out of some bacon, cooled it on a paper towel and crumbled it up in anticipation of adding it to an omelette. And then suddenly an omelette sounded boring. So I chopped up some red onion, red pepper and green pepper, and sautéed it with a zip lock bag full of frozen spinach which usually ends up in my daily smoothie. Smoothies can get boring too.

Next I beat the hell out of six eggs. I don’t love cooking unless I’m cooking the hell out of things. I also find recipes and the way they’re written boring most of the time, unless they say weird and wonderful things like
– prepare the pan (apparently some pans don’t deal well with surprises)
– sit in the fridge for 30 minutes (this only works if you have a super sized fridge and you’re under 4 feet tall)
– season to taste (no really, you need to be more specific here for us taste impaired cooks and actually mention some spices and seasonings by name)

Anyway, buttered pie plate, beaten eggs, sautéed mixture, sprinkled with the crumbled bacon and shredded cheese (I’m sure it doesn’t matter what kind – pick something you like) into the oven at 350 for 30 minutes. Yes, I was pretty much making this up as I went along and hoping for the best. It’s not that I don’t like a Quiche with a pastry crust but those things aren’t good for you and way too much like work.

Voila!
Voila!
Extreme quiche close up.
Extreme quiche close up.

Notice that you are not seeing any of the complicated process leading to this result.  That’s because I don’t like to tempt fate by recording the steps which may lead to colossal failure.  Even with something as relatively simple as crustless Quiche.

I wonder if my cooking skills (or lack of confidence in them) can be blamed on my mother.  We blame our mothers for just about everything, so why not.  She was an excellent cook who could whip up an incredible table full of delicious food for a crowd with very little help.   It would take her longer to tell you how to do something than to just do it herself.  She was forever apologizing for the dishes she made not being better, although we couldn’t imagine how that would be possible.  She never measured anything exactly, using her measuring cups and spoons as guidelines only.  That’s why I don’t have many of her recipes.  The best ones  changed with the ingredients on hand and were never written down.  Leaving her daughters (well this one who never listened anyway) to wing it on their own.

This was really good hot out of the oven with some salsa on the side.  I’m hoping it will be really good cold too, because I may have gone a bit overboard with half a dozen eggs for one person.  Mom also always cooked with leftovers in mind.  Maybe I’m more like her than I know.

Rocks

rocks

A couple of days ago, Michele at Life As A Garden ….(she has a beautiful blog – you should check it out) (go ahead, I’ll wait right here)…..wrote this comment on one of my posts:

“You could be talking about rocks and I would find the reading interesting and entertaining.”

After reading this one lovely little sentence there were so many thoughts tumbling around in my head that I was unable to form a coherent reply.  Although that’s nothing new.

I love getting comments, by the way, which I read mostly on my phone, thinking I will go back to them later when I’m on my laptop and reply to them properly.  But time goes by and I don’t get around to it and I feel bad about that, so I try to convince myself that the commenter by now has totally moved on and maybe doesn’t even remember what he or she said, or more likely who I am, and how embarrassing would it be to post a reply now, RIGHT??  So it’s not personal.  It’s just me being a super procrastinator.

But back to those tumbling thoughts I mentioned.  Here’s a few of the highlights.

1.  Holy cow, somebody finds me interesting and entertaining.  Yay!

2.  Huh – she’s right.  I rarely write about anything earth shatteringly important.

3.  And, I’m not about to start doing so any time soon, or most likely ever.

4.  Because my best posts are quite often about completely stupid things.

5.  Hey! Wait a minute!  I have a story about rocks!

Way back in 1969 or somewhere thereabouts, my dad was Reeve of our little Ontario township and got invited to go to a Good Roads Convention in Alberta, all the way at the other end of the country.  He and mom decided it would be a great idea to take their three daughters on a road trip.  We would travel to the convention, and then continue on all the way to the west coast.  We were all excited to see the Pacific Ocean for some strange reason which totally escapes me now.

We borrowed my brothers car, because he was a great mechanic and always had cars that could be trusted to drive clear across countries getting great gas mileage and not breaking down.  For me, travelling has always been something one endures in order to leave one place and arrive at a completely different place.  I’m getting better at enjoying the journey, but not much. I should have taken lessons from my mother when I had the chance.

She loved every single minute in that car, pouring over road maps and reading aloud every sign we passed, calculating how far we’d go and where we’d stop for breaks and gas and where we’d sleep.  She wrote down what we spent and the weather we encountered and what we had for breakfast, for all I know.  And every time she stepped foot out of the car, she picked up a souvenir rock.

We were all encouraged to appreciate and exclaim over the special characteristics of each unique chunk of the landscape that mom tucked away in the trunk or under the seats or in the glove compartment all the way to the coast and back. I thought she should write on them so she’d remember where they came from but she said that would spoil them.  I didn’t know that was possible, but I guess that’s how you spoil a rock.

The other thing we collected was a glass bottle full of Pacific Ocean water, complete with some kind of goopy green seaweed and a few shells and some sand.  If we had only kept the bottle sealed we might still have it hanging around somewhere looking all murky and mysterious.  But a couple of weeks after returning home we realized it smelled really bad and dumped it down the laundry tub drain.

You may be wondering what mom did with all those precious rocks she collected, and the truth is, I’m wondering too.  I’m wondering if the fun was in the collecting and she really had no firm plan for them at all.  Maybe she lost track of their numbers or just got tired of hauling them out of the car when we were unpacking.  Or she may have meant to go back for the rest of them and never got around to it.  (I did get a few of her genes).

My brother brought dads car back and picked up his own and drove it home. He probably took it to a car wash to clean it off and vacuum it out, because it wasn’t too long before we got his phone call, wanting to know why the hell his car was full of rocks.

Well you really couldn’t pretend not to know.  We told him they were moms, and he should bring them back, because she worked so hard to gather them up and haul them thousands of miles.  But Dad told him to just throw them out, so that’s what he did.

The funny thing is I don’t know where the rest of them ended up – did mom take any of those rocks out of the car?  She certainly never mentioned them again in all her ‘wonderful trip’ stories.  I guess it’s just one of our family mysteries which will remain forever unsolved because probably no one but me even remembers it.  Hey, it’s a story about rocks.  I didn’t say it was going to be exciting.

Anyway, thank you Michele for your inspirational comment.  If you never say anything to me again for fear of getting me started,  I totally understand.

Not Playing Favorites

friends

365 Writing Prompts January 6 – My Favorite:  What’s the most time you’ve ever spent apart from your favorite person?  Tell us about it.

I’ve got as many different favorite people in my life as there are reasons for having them so it’s not possible to come up with some finite time period to describe to you.  Who keeps track of that kind of stuff anyway?  An hour can feel like forever and years can pass by in the twinkling of an eye.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in this life it’s that everything changes.  A high school teacher once told us, after a train accident (of all things) had taken the life of one of our classmates, that this was the time in our lives when we would start to experience the grief of death and loss, and that it would continue to get worse as we got older.  Imagine that, life being even more depressing after high school.  It starts much sooner for some of us of course, when a beloved grandparent or uncle or simply someone we assumed would always be around is suddenly physically gone.

But here’s the good thing about that.  If we remember them, they never really leave us.  Everyone we’ve ever met becomes a small part of who we are.  I miss the physical presence of my mother but in every other way she is still with me.  I think she will be inside me for eternity, in my head and in my heart.  Maybe my eternity will last eighty years, or maybe it’s already into eons if my soul is as old as I’ve been told. That either matters or it doesn’t.  Does time have to be measured?

Another thing I’ve learned is that the only one who will for certain be with me for the duration is me.  I am the common denominator in this great math problem known as my life.  So that should make me my all time favorite person and either a raging ego maniac or someone simply comfortable in her own skin.  I can’t get away from myself, no matter what role I choose to play. Might as well like who I am with all the labels stripped away.

A casual friend tried to convince me once that the absolute worst and most feared state we face as human beings is to be alone.  She is that person all of us have bumped into at some time or other who asks for our opinion so that she can go on and on at great length explaining to us why it is not only wrong but also stupid.  I think that explains why we’re not really close.  When I was silly enough to mention that I love my alone time, she just said, no, you don’t.  Inconceivable that anyone could be on their own and happy about it.

Being alone was actually preferable to her company right about then, although I think she would have found that idea preposterous.  Just a guess.  But I do like my own company, I like the quiet and the stillness and how relaxed I feel when I’m being perfectly me with no one to impress or entertain or piss off with my dumb opinions.

If you have a favorite person and you hate it when that person goes away, that’s okay, but it’s also not something to get obsessed about.  Things change.  If that person never comes back, you will go on living.  The hole in your life will fill back up and even though it will never be the same, it can still be good.

Well, is that enough blather for today? Enough of me talking to myself and wishing I would shut up already so I can go read a book or something?   I think that’s a yes.  See how agreeable I am?  I love me.

365 writing prompts

I Made This Ashtray One Time…

Meraki [may-rah-kee]  This is a word that modern Greeks often use to describe doing something with soul, creativity, or love — when you put “something of yourself” into what you’re doing, whatever it may be.

Sculpture by Frank Stout
Sculpture by Frank Stout (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I heart Rarasaur and Prompts for the Promptless, and this amazing Greek word meraki to the moon and back.  To me it means being impassioned and intense, happy and enthusiastic, loving and giving, all wrapped up in one beautiful little meraki package.

In art meraki could be the colors you use, in writing perhaps it’s the words you choose.  In photography it’s the subjects you see, and your unique point of view and the composition and what you do with tricks of the light to show us not just the picture, but something about the person who took it.

In cooking I imagine it’s the ingredients and the timing and the methods of putting everything together, and then the presentation and a bunch of other mysterious stuff that eludes me.  But never doubt that I put LOVE in my unidentifiable concoctions.

At a very young age (too young to know any better) I thought I would like to one day become a great sculptor.  Or at least dabble in pottery, because that wheel sure looked like some serious fun.  The idea was born with an art project in school where we were each given a lump of clay and advised to make something of our own choosing.  I painstakingly shaped mine into an ashtray.  And not just any old ashtray – this had to be the best and most beautiful ashtray in the world, a present for my mother.  Something just from me.  Something she could love and cherish for ever and ever.

A lot of creativity went into my work, if you count smashing the stupid thing and reshaping it a million times trying to get everything symmetrically perfect.  I molded my heart and soul into that stubborn little piece of clay.  When I was satisfied at last with the results (and my fingers were about ready to fall off)  I chose a shockingly brilliant electric blue for my glaze.  After it was baked and cooled and admired by all (we were kids, what did we know?) I carefully wrapped my creation in tissue paper and carted it home.

It looked nothing like this, except maybe in my dreams.
It looked nothing like this, except maybe in my dreams.

 

I was so incredibly proud to present the fruits of my labor to my mother, who did not smoke.  No one in our house smoked.  We didn’t even know anyone who was thinking about taking up the habit.  She professed to admire and love the ashtray anyway.  We decided it would make a great conversation piece and she gave it a place of honor on the window sill above the kitchen sink.  After awhile I got really tired of all the conversations about it starting off with “oh my goodness, what in the world is that?” But I never tired of hearing my mom explain how hard I had worked to make my very first piece of pottery.  It was like she knew there was the equivalent of blood sweat and tears in that thing, never mind a little girls heart and soul full of love for her mother.

I don’t know what happened to it.  And frankly I don’t care, it was butt ugly – even the artist herself came around to admitting that fact in time.  But it didn’t stop me from continuing on in life creating things with love and good intentions.  And my mother certainly taught me how important it was to appreciate whatever my own kids did from their hearts for me.

I never knew there was a word for putting yourself and a little piece of your very soul into whatever you create with passion and love, but I’ve certainly seen the evidence of it all around me.  It’s everywhere I look.

The next little miracle I come across I will be able to describe with delight and just one small and perfect word – meraki.

If I Could Relive Any Day of My Life

Torn sunset.

It would be the day I went to see my parents who shared a room in a Care Centre and because I’m such an incredibly interesting person, they both fell asleep. It was time for me to go, and I decided not to wake them. I didn’t say goodbye. I just walked away and left them. I could have gone back the next morning before I left to drive to the airport, but I was rushed and I didn’t. Mom passed away a few days later.

I have always hated to say goodbye, but if I could go back and relive that day I would just suck it up and do it. I’d turn myself around and walk back to both of them and nudge them awake and say the things I should have said and not be such a blubbering sobbing mess all this time later just thinking about it.

Gawd. Maybe that’s not the greatest day to relive. Last Wednesday when I went to see Toy Story 3 with my nine-year-old granddaughter. That was a good day. I think I’ll opt for that one instead. Although I ended up crying at the end of the movie when Andy said good-bye to his toys, so maybe we could just skip that part. And maybe add some extra butter on the popcorn.