Friday, May 11, 2012

Still Covering Our Butts

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

I'm copping out giving myself the day off going to offer a slightly revamped re-run of last year's  Mother's Day post, out of sheer laziness the goodness of my heart. Since  I only had a handful of followers then, this will be new to most of you.  After it was posted last year, my brother informed me that he'd recently discovered that our grandparents actually entered this country through Boston Harbor, and not via Ellis Island, as we originally thought. Other than that, this story is pretty much as it was told to me by our grandmother.  Last year, the post was entitled, "Moms Cover Our Butts," and ya know what? Good moms always have ...  and my guess is,  they always will.

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.  [author unknown]

If you're going to see your mom this weekend, wouldn't it be great to prepare her a special treat? 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. 


Hopefully, I'll get back to what Laura calls Yammy Friday  next week. These Friday posts have included some interesting tidbits and a pictorial tour of a state, (going through 'em in alphabetical order: New Jersey is next up) a little bit of fun-poking at some of the cockamamie laws still on the books in that state, and then finishing it off by (ta-DA!) the Weirdest News Stories of the Week. These compilations are rather time-consuming, but I've had fun (and learned a lot) by doing them. The thing is, they are long. Mega-posts. After doing the A-Z thingie, I wonder if they aren't TOO long. Whatcha think? Those of you who've been following those Yammy posts, shall I split 'em up over a couple days, or maybe drop the weird news stories or what? Any input? Any input at all? If not, I reckon I'll just keep on keeping on.

Which is all any of us can do.

                                 Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


  1. Thank you, Susan, for honoring all mothers, my mother, with your moving post.

  2. Oh that's a great story. Good thing the trip wasn't much longer.
    Thanks for posting about mothers. They are so important.

  3. Hi Susan .. well your granddad was resourceful if nothing else, and had enough to do without washing nappies!

    Those days do sound terrifying and that journey across the Atlantic - I'd have not liked to do it.

    Happy Mother's Day to you all in North America - ours is the Church festival in March .. so we have an earlier day. However I shall share your Mother's Day with all mothers everywhere - happy times and happy memories ..

    Cheers Hilary

  4. I remember that story, so I guess that means I've been around for awhile. IT's a great story.

    Have a wonderful Mother's Day.

    As for the posts, cut off the weird news stories and use then on a different day.

  5. I would like to have heard exactly what she said to him when she discovered what he'd been doing!

    Have a wonderful Mother's Day, Susan!

  6. Ha! That's a great story. Men! LOL

    When my grandmom came to this country she cried. She kept hearing the streets were paved with gold and when she got to NY, she thought it was ugly and dirty. Thus, started to cry. :)

  7. You are my only source of Weird News Stories.... what would I do?

  8. Ha! What a great story. Thanks for re-sharing it, and for the rest of the lovely post as well.

    And an early Happy Mother's Day to you. :)

  9. Well that got me crying. For all we didn't get along, I miss Mom. When they're gone life is never the same.

    Your poor Gran, losing all her clothes! What a story. I love true life stories. Beats fiction for weirdness every time.

    Hooray for Yammy Fridays coming back! Don't change a thing!

    And Happy Mother's Day, Susan!

  10. Great story, my mom too, 14 years old with her little sister, all by herself, parents were already here. Will write about it Saturday. Good blog, Susan.

  11. Lovely Mothers Day all misty.
    Yammy Fridays..I enjoy them..shorter might be better.

  12. What a great story! Thanks for posting it. :)

  13. I loved this story!! Thanks for sharing it.

    My mom came over on the boat with her parents. Apparently, the seasickness was ferocious--the North Atlantic is nasty in the winter. Anyway, my mom saw plenty of people lean over the railing to vomit and lose more than their stomachs--they'd lose their false teeth. (I can't imagine how frustrating. Though not quite as bad as finding all your clothes have been used as diapers.)

  14. Great story, Susan!! And great looking pie! Happy Mother's Day!

  15. Geo- You're welcome, and thank you for the kind words.

    Jessica- HA! Yeah, you're right. No telling what might have happened if the trip had been any longer.

    Hilary- Yes, indeed, Pop was certainly resourceful. I wouldn't have been too keen on taking that trip across the ocean, either. It's sure is amazing how many brave people did, though.

    Anne- Yes, ma'am, I'm pleased to say, you've been with me almost since the beginning. (And I hope you hang around a lot longer, too!)A very Happy Mother's Day to you, too. And thanks for the suggestion about moving the news stories to a separate day.

    Dianne- Me, too, although I don't imagine she said a whole heckuva lot. Pop was the unquestioned boss of the family.

    Jennifer- Oh, your poor grandmother. We sure are lucky they had the guts to make the trip, though, aren't we?

    Cro- HA! Guess I'd better keep doing them, huh?

    Linda- Thanks, and a very happy Mother's Day to you, too.

    Tonja- Thanks. Glad ya liked it.

    Laura- Sorry to make ya cry, but maybe our mothers deserve a few tears every now and then. Glad you liked the story. Somehow, I had a feeling, that even if nobody else cared one way or another, you'd be happy about the return of Yammy Fridays. Thanks.

    Loverofwords- Your Saturday post sounds intriguing. I'll be sure to check it out.

    Delores- Misty-eyed is good. Another vote for shorter Friday posts... gotcha! Thank you ma'am, and Happy Mother's Day.

    Dana- Thanks. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

    Connie- Oh, NO! They lost their TEETH?! How dreadful. Poor things. Probably took them a while to afford another set, too.

    Judy- Thanks. You should try the pie. It tastes even better than it looks. Happy Mother's Day to you, too.

  16. What a lovely post, Susan! And we all need to recycle on occasion!

    Love the story! Hilarious and heart wrenching at the same time. The poem by Author Unknown (damn she was good) got me a bit teary-eyed. And I can't wait to try out the strawberry pie recipe. Yum! Thanks, Susan. :)

  17. Great story! And then, I was happy to see they came in to Boston...which is where I was born...and still "my" city.
    I love your posts on the states and weird week things, but yep, I think you could post them over a couple of days and make for faster reading. Don't stop though! They are great fun!

  18. Intricate- Thanks. Glad you liked the post. I think you'll like the pie even more.

    Liza- We were really surprised to learn that they came into Boston, because they spend time in New York before settling in Maryland. But my brother found all the info about their trip, and Boston, it was. Thanks for the input about the state posts. I think I will end up splitting them into two days. That'll make things easier on me, too.

  19. I love the Friday posts. They aren't too long for me. They're funny and I learn so much. Thank you for thinking of those of us who don't have our moms anymore. I miss mine sooooo much. She was the most generous person on Earth. And a good cook.


  20. I love the story of your grandmother's dilemma. She possibly wasn't too upset about it even at the time as survival is far more important than clothes.

    In the UK we had mother's day a few months ago. It was my first mother's day since my mum died and it was a difficult day. Thank you for sharing that extract about mothers. It made me cry because I know that mum would have sacrificed every dress she owned for us. If only I could cook a meal for her this weekend.

  21. Janie- Thanks. I'm glad to hear you like the ol' Friday posts, and appreciate you saying so. I hate to say it, but I don't think we ever completely get over missing our mothers. It's been sixteen years since my mother died, and that hollow ache is still there in my chest whenever I think about her.

    Rosalind- I'm glad you liked the story, but sorry it made you cry. Still, I'm glad it made you think about your mum.

  22. Dear Susan,
    Beautifully and thoughtfully written. A wonderful tribute and a poignant reminder of just how much I miss my Mother way over there in Vancouver.
    Then again, she gets two Mother's Days greeting from me. The British one in March and the upcoming North American one :)
    Take very good care

  23. You just had to go off with the fresh strawberry pie, didn;t you. Now I want something sweet and full of calories and sugar!

  24. Gary- Glad you liked it, and how sweet that you honor your mom on TWO Mother's Days. I hope you get to see her in person soon.

    Arleen- Thanks. You have a wonderful Mother's Day, too.

    Stephen- Sorry. Um, you could always cut the amount of sugar in half... (The strawberries are pretty darned sweet this year.)

    Charmaine- Glad ya liked it. Thanks for stopping by.

  25. As you said, we never get over missing our mothers. I am glad you have the story about your grandparents. My mom and her little sister made the trip alone because the aunt that was supposed to come with them did not have the right papers. But we only heard the story in little bits, and then she died and that whole chapter was closed forever.

  26. Male ingenuity makes good stories! That gave me quite a giggle :-)

  27. Tony laughs when people ask him how he felt when he saw the statue of liberty... he looks at them like they are crazy.

    "Um, it was nice when I saw it last year. When I was ten I flew into Logan and drove to my new home."

    Seasick for weeks? Um, no thank you.

  28. Cool story. But oh, your poor grandmother! To be seasick for so long and then to arrive and find all your clothes had been used as diapers! I'll bet Pop paid!

  29. Loverofwords- Your mother and aunt were very brave, weren't they? It's a shame they were never able to tell you more of their story.

    Lily- Yeah, we ladies may not always approve of their methods, but men have a real knack for coming up with a way to get things done.

    Juli- I have a sneaky feeling my grandmother would have preferred to come into Boston via airplane, too. I don't think she EVER got in any kind of boat for the whole rest of her life.

    Dream it- Thank you, dear sir.

    Marcy- Oh yeah, he paid but good!

  30. Love the trail of diapers story! And thanks for the yummy recipe :-)

  31. I did get to see my mother this weekend and it was a splendid time.

    Honestly, I can barely imagine the hardships faced by the wave of immigrants which built the America we know, today. I simply hope to never take it for granted. I certainly try not to.

    I'm wondering how I'd feel if my clothing were used for such a nefarious purpose while I was bedridden. Not stellar, I'll say that much!

    Happy Mother's Day, Sus.

  32. Deniz- Thank you so much for dropping by. I do appreciate it. Glad you enjoyed the story, and hope you give that recipe a whirl. it really IS yummy.

    Suze- I'm glad you were able to spend time with your mother. I didn't get to see any of my kids or grandkids, but they did all call, and my husband did his best to spoil me, so all in all, it was a wonderful weekend.