Tag Archives: childhood memories


When a loved one is gone, he/she tends to come back via memory at the oddest times. It’s always welcome to remember a favorite moment, saying, quibble or foible.

A couple of weeks ago my sister asked for an old recipe. Since we moved, I found and cleaned up an old plexiglass 3×5 card holder with recipes I started collecting in high school. Many are from my Auntie L, who not only cooked us many family meals over the decades but catered for our family’s formal work receptions as well. She had one rule that moms everywhere should use with young children. “Try it! Then I’ll tell you what’s in it.”

I learned not to ask the ingredients first and allow my taste buds to be the judge. First thing she used it on was a bleu cheese dip for a party. I hated that cheese, but loved the dish so incorporated it into my repertoire.

A prime example that reminds me of her every day is the dictionary in the “loo.” She always placed one in the powder room (she was a high school English teacher) so to use the loo, we had to ask politely, then upon our return give her a word, its meaning and use it in a sentence.

In our new place, I’ve a large powder room so I expanded on the theme. I brought in one of my husband’s nightstands that were hand-made by his great-grandfather and placed several books atop, along with a decorative plate of Mom’s. The current Loo Library includes the aforementioned Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, The City of Florence, The Prince and for a bit of light reading, James Patterson’s The Chef. Also Orwell’s 1984 and Mythology by Edith Hamilton.

Wouldn’t you know it, a friend used the loo and suggested a complement to Sun Tsu’s The Art of War with The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. It’s about breaking mental blocks to unleash creativity, by the author of many books which include The Legend of Bagger Vance. This book is required reading or recommended reading in all the military academies. News to me, so I recently purchased it to add to my collection.

Now here’s the strange one. Auntie L was known, on our annual family reunions, to rearrange hotel furnishings and pictures. She always made it better but we were aghast, as kids, that someone could do that. I came to thank her for it later on. Mom was in the hospital after her first cancer surgery. She was on morphine for the first time and a particular painting on the wall of her hospital room gave her nightmares. Auntie L went to a local art museum gift shop, bought a calming poster and taped it over the offending artwork. It made a difference.

I know there’s no canidae in our family gene pool but my dog has become an Auntie L with bed linens. I make the bed and she always has to help me fluff the down comforter. Once settled, all the pillows situated atop, she waits for me to leave. Then she rearranges everything to her specifications. Mostly knotting it all up in a ball. Upon my return, I merely say “thanks, Auntie L.”

Thanks for the memories. Hang in there, teachers! Especially English teachers. Until we can get the banned book situation under control, perhaps the fact that certain books (even the Bible, in one Texas school district) are banned, it may induce students to read them! Cheers! Dee


The Red Moon

It does kind of look it like now but I can’t see it from my desk. Despite our age difference I believe we both saw the last one 40 years ago and he may see yet another.

We just turned off all the lights and looked through the windows. It had been cloudy and rainy all day but cleared up. When the moon got dark, I believe Coast Guard helicopers urged a few small craft out to the jettys for safety. Thank goodness for the Coast Guard!

The moon is dark now, but I will await the shadows to fade and the moon light the waters again as tomorrow is a new day. Cheers! Dee

First Tree

As an adult, I’ve never had a Christmas tree. I always had a wreath for the front door with some favorite ornaments. We kids each got an ornament every year and they were packed up at age 18 to take off to college.

My husband of nearly 11 years and I have never had a tree. He says he is allergic. So we only needed to buy a tabletop tree, three feet high.

On it are so many memories and not even ones from childhood but for my husband and my time together. There’s Santa in a kilt from Scotland, a snowman with lasso from Texas, a tiny mouse sleeping in a walnut shell as an homage to my dear friend Mrs. H.

There are airplanes from an Oshkosh museum, our first ornaments I got for us before we were married, faded green and blue painted wooden stockings. There’s a recycled glass star from the EcoCenter in Park City. and cardboard ornaments from an event I created 20 years ago called Kids for Kids.

Of course there are cooking-related ornaments, including a reindeer carrying a tray of cookies, a whisk and others. Then there are swirly tin ornaments that catch the light and were handmade in Vermont where we spent some time with my husband’s parents.

I had the lights and ornaments and it’s beautiful. I’d send a photo but my camera is out of batteries. Perhaps tomorrow? We also have two stockings, one with an angel and the other a male Cardinal.

As my husband has already gotten his birthday and Christmas presents I gave him cards as well, one from me stating that the Internet is where Grammar Goes to Die, another from the dog saying “Feed Me Already.”

I also have coasters and a crocheted perfectly starched family of snow people from my m-i-l. And we didn’t need a wreath. I have two jingle bell wreaths. The gold and silver one is outside our front door with a few ornaments, and the red and white one is inside the front door with a few more ornaments.

There’s nothing like a “free” Christmas! We don’t buy gifts, and will need to go to a few holiday parties but this is one to celebrate. We’re here, we’re alive and both nearly well. And husband Jim isn’t allergic to the tree… yet. Neither of us can smell it yet as he’s been kind enough to give me his cold. Cheers! Dee

ps If there’s enough adult in me to obtain and decorate a tree, perhaps next year I’ll try making prime rib, roasted potatoes, lots of veg (that was what I was in charge of in past years) and Yorkshire pudding. Plus mincemeat tarts and trifle. D

Bathing Caps at the Beach

When I was 8-10 years old my father went through a phase I like to call “gentleman farmer.” He bought 25 acres about ten miles from town with a view of the Lake (Erie) and decided to tame the “back yard, ” bought a Toro riding mower with a 36″ blade and put my sister and I to work mowing. Yes, I learned how to use a clutch at age eight.

It took five hours to mow, three for the back 40, two closer in so my sister and I traded sections every weekend. Then he decided to put in a pool. Oh, btw the house wasn’t finished so we worked on it every weekend for three years. Retaining walls, laying 3,000 bricks around the pool three years in a row because we used sand and had cold, snowy winters. I used a rudimentary miter box and cut all the window frames and used both hands to use a staple gun to put a drop ceiling in the basement. Now people talk to me about “hands-on” volunteer programs, hello, I’ve been there. And I got fifty cents a week allowance for my efforts!

We were glad of the pool because it cut down our mowing time! Also we could have pool parties for our friends, the guys next door came over every day and we could ask Mom and Dad to go  skinny dipping (just us, not the guys) at night after we each passed our intermediate swim classes at the local University pool.

We took care of that pool, cleaning it, fishing toads out of the filter basket and testing the water. And we had to wear bathing caps because if we didn’t, our hair may clog the filter. We had short hair, and never saw a hair in the filter basket, but in a Teutonic upbringing, those were the rules.

Our first trip to the ocean was to Virginia Beach. We wore dresses for the 14-hour drive, because we had to look nice when we got to the motel. On subsequent trips we negotiated the right to wear matching shorts/shirts until 1/2 hour before arrival, then we’d change in the car.

We get to the beach and it’s beautiful! Mom says “put on your bathing caps!” What? Is our hair going to clog the filter basket? We looked at each other and a plan was in place. Wait ten minutes until parents get bored and know we’re OK, then wait for a big wave, dive down and bury the bathing caps in the sand. It worked! “Yes, we’re OK, only our bathing caps didn’t survive the wave.”

That trip I learned the uncomfortable feel of a cup of sand in my one-piece bathing suit but saw a horseshoe crab and walked on the beach and had a great time. And I never had to wear a bathing cap in a pool or ocean again. Isn’t childhood fantastic?

One more story. My younger sister had her friends over for a pool party for probably her 8th birthday. She knew she had a pool and her friends didn’t so took them all out there. A good rule was that Mom had to be out there or watching us from the kitchen window whenever we were in the water. Mom said “Go.” My sister grabbed books from her room and handed one to each of the girls, all salivating to take the plunge. She said, “read for an hour then you can swim.”

Mom came right out and asked what was going on. She told my sister that she could read her book if she wanted, but the other girls were going swimming. Without bathing caps. Cheers, have an amazing day! Dee

Mastitis Blankets?

Bibs and blankets are the theme here. Margie tells me my husband Jim always carried around a diaper or blanket as a toddler. Now I wash at least 12 tea towels per day that serve as a “bib” to make sure Jim doesn’t get egg yolk on his shirt in the morning or spaghetti sauce at night, plus kitchen duty.

There’s one scratchy blanket over the sofa, more like a “lap robe” that he uses when he’s cold, downstairs. Tonight I told him I found the perfect blanket for him on sale down the street. He talked at length about heft, warmth and feel (I know, I’m a woman and older than him and don’t need lap robes) then mentioned a mastitis blanket. And what the heck is that? Dairy cows sometimes have “udder” (akin to other) problems unknown to you and me.

He recalls his mother saving coupons from mastitis treatment packages for dairy cows and whenever you bought enough, you’d get a blanket. Hence the mastitis blanket. It’s too late to e-mail his mom tonight but what does it mean for a non-farm gal who grew up in farm country for a couple of years to hear things like this? It’s scary. Other-worldly. Plus, I was afraid that she’d go into a drawer somewhere, find one and mail it to me! And now she will.

I’m going to try a really soft, light, warm blanket that he can use, I can easily wash, and know he’ll love it, just as he loved the diapers and blankets of his childhood and lap robes of adulthood. He’ll love it and won’t have to think about milking cows ever again, or of mastitis. An update is warranted on this one! Moooooo, Dee