Friday, May 6, 2011

Mothers Cover Our Butts

Thought for the day:  If it's not one thing, it's your mother... 

With Mother's Day right around the corner, I'd like to share a story about my grandmother. In early 1923, she, my grandfather, my father and his brother left Scotland and set sail for the United States, essentially abandoning the only home they'd ever known so they could sail off into the great unknown and start all over again. Must've been scary, don't you think? A huge sacrifice. But like countless other immigrants, facing the unknown was a sacrifice they were absolutely willing to make for the sake of their children and their children's children. NO sacrifice was too great, right? Then again, the (ahem) naked truth is, by the time they reached Ellis Island, poor Mom-Mom learned that she'd sacrificed more than she'd ever intended.

Try to picture it. Can you imagine how everyone on that ship must have felt when they finally caught sight of Lady Liberty for the first time? My guess would be intense excitement and pride, mingled with a shot of apprehension. Probably a good deal of relief, too, not to mention exhaustion.

For Mom-Mom, I have a hunch relief was tops on her emotional menu. Relief that the seemingly endless trip was finally coming to an end, and relief at the prospect of standing on dry stable land again. Because my poor grandmother pretty much puked her way across the Atlantic. From the time they left Europe, she had such debilitating seasickness, she rarely left her bed.

Which left Pop, a rather dour Scot, in charge of the kiddies.

My father was still in diapers at the time, and though Pop, a master carpenter, was quite skillful at building a custom cabinet, he wasn't at all accustomed to being saddled with the business of childcare. So he improvised. He blithely tore up my grandmother's clothes and, one by one, used them to diaper my father's bottom. When a diaper got dirty, he simply tossed it overboard and reached for another dress.

So by the time the Statue of Liberty came into view, a long trail of improvised nappies stretched clear across the ocean, and my grandmother? Let's just say that she came perilously close to being one of those "naked masses" yearning to breathe free, with few clothes to her name beyond those she'd been wearing in her sick bed.

Years later, when Mom-Mom told me this story, she was laughing, but I doubt if she found much humor in it back in 1923.  Trust me, Pop paid for his blunder, though. As I remember her, my grandmother had an extensive wardrobe from some of the best stores in Baltimore.

For those of you who are mothers, I wish you a very happy Mother's Day. For those of you who are fortunate enough to still have your mother with you, do your best to spoil the living daylights out of her. After all, she may not have sacrificed all her clothes to cover your butt, but I'm sure she made many other sacrifices, and covered your butts in many other ways. For those of you who've already lost your mother, this is for you:

Your mother is always with you. She's the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street, she's the smell of bleach in your freshly laundered socks, she's the cool hand on your brow when you're not well. Your mother lives inside your laughter. And she's crystallized in every teardrop. She's the place you came from, your first home; and she's the map you follow with every step you take. She's your first love and your first heartbreak, and nothing on earth can separate you. Not time... not space... not even death.

Sorry, I wish I did, but I don't know the origin of that little piece. Someone sent it to me without attribution many years ago.

If you're going to see your mother this weekend, wouldn't it be great to prepare a special treat for her? If she likes strawberries, she'll love-love-love  this pie. It's easy as pie (sorry) to make, and she'll be oh-so-impressed with your culinary skills. Or fix it for yourself, by golly. Guaranteed to please.


To make things easy on yourself, you can use a pre-made 8"  pie shell, either graham cracker or chocolate. (If you opt for the chocolate pie shell, it looks almost too good to eat if you drizzle a little bit of dark chocolate over the whipped topping before serving.)

For the filling, you'll need 4 cups of strawberries, 3 T cornstarch, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, and 1/2 tsp lemon juice. You can add a few drops of red food coloring, if you'd like, and will need either whipped cream or good ol' Cool Whip to top it off.

Now, here we go, easy as 1-2-3:

1. In a saucepan, combine the cornstarch, 1/2 cup sugar, water, and 2 cups of the strawberries. Bring to a boil; cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and clear. 
2. Add the rest of the sugar; stir until dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice, food coloring, (if desired) and the rest of the strawberries.
3. Add Cool Whip and refrigerate until ready to serve, OR refrigerate first and garnish with whipped cream when you're ready to dig in. 

Before I bid adieu for the weekend, there's one more task to perform. It's time for the ....

Weirdest News Stories of the Week

** Former South Korean president Roh Tae-woo was admitted to the hospital with a nasty cough. Turns out, he had good reason to cough. Would you believe doctors discovered and removed a 6.4 cm acupuncture needle from his lung? The former prez claims to have no idea how it got there, and acupuncturists say none of their procedures involve sticking a needle into a lung. It's a mystery, doctors say. I say,  how much OB beer does a man have to drink to accidentally inhale a needle?

** Jackson Galaxy is a musician cum feline shrink who will be starring in an upcoming show on Animal Planet called "My Cat From Hell." One of his clients, who won't be featured on the program, had (I hope) a unique problem with his demon cat. Every time the man fell asleep, the crazy cat would come running and urinate in his mouth. ( Helloooo, wasn't ONE time enough for this guy? I mean, why didn't he close the damned door, already?) Anyway, it turned out that the man snored. Loud, really, really loud. And the noise scared the poor widdle kitty, who peed in the man's mouth to "help him." My cats are tremendously helpful. With cooking, making the bed, taking a bath, reading, just about anything we try to do. But THIS kind of help I can do without.

** Where else but in New York? Maybe it was in early recognition of Mother's Day, I dunno, but last Sunday, a New York gallery was handing out some rather unusual treats for adventurous eaters. Cheese, three kinds of cheese, but not just any cheese. Oh no, THIS cheese was made from human breast milk. The treat got mixed reviews. Some loved it; some gagged. All I can say is it had to be better than cat pee.

Until Monday, take care of yourselves. And each other.

No trees were killed in the sending of this message. However,  a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.


  1. I thought about writing about my mom today, but it is still too hard. Maybe another time.

    Loved yours.

  2. What a great story! I will never take disposable diapers and dramamine for granted ever again :D

  3. Great story about Mom-Mom (my kids call their grandfather Dad-Dad). Makes me appreciate modern conveniences more that ever.

    But cheese from human breast milk? Uh, no thanks!

  4. Thanks for the MOther's Day wishes - right back at ya. Lovely story about your family. Mine came in 1905 from Hungary. My mom is gone. So is my mother-in-law. My son lives on the other side of the country, so Mother's Day is hard. Enjoy!

  5. Lovely story about Mom-Mom. I've done my daughterly duty with the kitchen reno and the cutting of the grass. I know, it's never enough, but it's the least I can do.

    Question -- do you still speak with a brogue? I may need your help with some phrasing for my next WiP. (I have gotten over my distress of the day.)

  6. Hi, Susan, Oh what a wonderful story about the nappies! I absolutely rolled, and laughed out loud! Thank you for a wonderful beginning to my day! It is always great to start out the day with a good belly laugh (and I have the belly to do it with, ha ha ha).
    I hope you don't mind, but I tagged you in a meme that was passed on to me by Cathy (link is in my blog to her answers. My answers (along with questions) are in my posting today. If you would like to do it, I would love to see your answers in an upcoming posting of yours. Thank you for your faithful visits to my blog. Love, Ruby
    Of course, my mom has been gone for 30 years, but I still miss being able to run out to the farm and see her. I am the only child of hers that is still living. All my siblings are passed on over. I am blessed in having two daughters, their husbands, and their children and grandchildren. God is good, all the time.

  7. Hi, Ladies. Thank you so much for your comments.

    Starting Over- Glad you liked my post, but I'm sorry you're still hurting too much to write about your mother. My mother died 15 years ago, and after her funeral, I went to the nursing home to visit my aunt. (Mom-Mom's daughter) When we were talking, I said something about her still missing her mother, who died in 1960. Talking about it STILL brought tears to my aunt's eyes. So the pain never completely goes away, but it does get better.

    Sam- What? Pop DID have "disposable" diapers!

    Linda- Aw, come on! You wouldn't even TRY it?? (Me neither.)

    Karen- I hope you do something nice for YOU for Mother's Day. I'm hoping to get a call from our kids tomorrow, but my hubby's already agreed to shoot some pool and play some scrabble with me. Sounds like heaven!

    Anne- First off, glad to hear you're past the distress. And no, sorry but I never spoke with a brogue. My grandparents did, but since my dad and his siblings grew up here, none of them had an accent, either. But I do have a bust of Bobby Burns and books filled with every poem he ever wrote. And Pop gave me a plastic set of bagpipes when I was a kid, too. (If you think the REAL ones sound bad, you should've heard PLASTIC ones!)

    Grammy- I'm so glad to hear you got a laugh out of the nappy story. And thank you for tagging me. That'll make it easier to come up with something to write about on Monday! And I know you miss your mother still. We never quite get over wanting to talk to them, do we? You take care, dear lady, and I hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day.

  8. Oh dear, what a wonderful story!
    Your grandmother must have made him pay for ever after!

  9. Hi, Al. You betcha. My grandmother never lacked for clothes again. Take care, and thank you for stopping by.

  10. I love reading stories like these.

    BTW, I really enjoyed your comment on my Mother's Day post.