Such a gorgeous morning today. Perfect for a late-ish breakfast outside just after the sun came over the mountain. Today, and for the next few days, we’ll enjoy that perfect fall weather – not too cold during the day- warm even, chilly at night, with lots of sun. I am planning to enjoy it. Hope you do too!
The children started out playing pretend games outside (with a few of their new acquisitions, Amanda!). Then,we biked and played and cleaned and visited and enjoyed each other and a few friends. I even got a few minutes to read my own book by myself on the porch swing – such a treat. A great way to spend a Sunday. It made me remember that important idea of Sunday as a day of rest. Despite all of what we did today, it really felt like a day of rest. And, I needed that.
This Mother’s Day I have not gotten to connect with my mother. We have both been off on weekend adventures. I am looking forward to hearing about hers this week, and she will hear about mine too. But, I have been thinking particularly about my mother and mothering today, really this whole week leading up to Mother’s Day. What do I appreciate about my mother? What are her lessons I want to pass on to my children? How to get this mothering thing right?
I am not sure I can ever answer the last question, and there are too many things to name for the first, but that middle question is something I think about and sometimes have tangible answers to. I feel my mother taught me some wise lessons when I was quite young, partly due to the fact that we had somewhat of a difficult time in my early years. My father was diagnosed with a brain tumor when I was 2, my parents divorced when I was 4, and my father died when I was 6. Whew! Pretty tough stuff. Even after all that, my mom encouraged us to stay positive, to smile, to live and work. Her pragmatic outlook helped get through that tough stuff, and many future tough events. Tragic and difficult things happen in life. Mourning is good and important, but life has to carry on, and we may as well try to make it a good life, remembering the past and being optimistic about the future. “It is what it is” is a saying of hers, reminding herself that we often have to accept an outcome that we do not like. It is a way to avoid getting stuck in disappointment and grief. And in that way, it also gives hope that things will get better.
Just one life lesson I hope to pass on to my children.
We had a really nice weekend, though baby Steven was still under the weather. He rallied a few times, but spent most of the weekend in mama or daddy’s arms (or on our backs).
The weather was beautiful and warm all weekend, and we got to eat our first meals of the year on the porch. Somehow, eating outside is more relaxing. We eat in the shade of new leaves, surrounded by blooms with gentle (usually) breezes. Right now, there are no insects to bite our legs either. Also, we don’t seem to mind when children jump up to look over the railing at trees or birds, or if someone leaves mid-meal to ride their bike up and down the porch. We just sit and enjoy the time. I really love it.
Ice cream on the porch is great.
Ice cream in mama or daddy’s lap is even better.
The older three children made sketch books on Saturday. I sewed paper together and they designed the covers with plants they stamped on to watercolor paper. Hythe did not want anything on his cover, but he did fill two pages with drawing of pear and apple tree saplings. Anne and Evva drew a few flower they found outside and we had a good time identifying the parts of a flower. Despite my degree in biology, I got pistil and stamen mixed up for a few minutes and thoroughly confused Anne. Evva even wrote a poem for one of her flowers. This was a fun project.
On Sunday, we took all the children, and a few of their friends, on a hike up to the waterfall above our house. Hythe has named it the “Frozen Waterfall”, because as he says, “that’s its name even when it is not frozen.” We saw a few wildflowers and a beautiful view at the top. The children cooled off in the dripping water at the top.
I also snuck off on Sunday evening to get a few tomato and pepper plants (from my sister- and brother-in-laws’ farm) because it is so warm I think I could plant them this week in the garden!
Hope your week is great. Our has started a little rough, with a visit to the doctor with the boys and diagnoses of “strep throat” for one and “I don’t know what is wrong with him, but he seems to be getting better” for the other.
My mother is one of my best friends — however, she also still remains my mother in that she gives me advice, chides me, supports me in a way only a mother can. And, she does support me. She is always there for me to talk to or ask for help. I appreciate how strong and wise she has been in so many ways.
Her birthday is today and about a week ago I went into my fabric stash (expanded in large part due to her giving me a shopping spree at a fine fabric store’s going out of business sale) because I wanted to sew a gift for her. As I was pulling out things from the back of the stash, a nearly finished length of hand-sewn quilt fell out. It was a something I picked up from my grandmother’s when she told me to take anything I wanted out of her fabric stash. A length of squares sewn together, and some solitary squares, all hand pieced and quilted and made from the bridesmaid dress my mother had worn in her sister’s wedding about 40 years ago. It was beautifully cut and sewn but the project (was it going to be a bed quilt?) was abandoned. I decided to finish the section I had to make a table runner out of it for my mother. Her mother has a large part of this gift as well, as she had the plan and did all the cutting and sewing. I just finished this piece. The colors and pattern are not really my mom’s style, but I thought it was too beautiful to pass up and that it would look great on her dining room table.
My mother did like it and I am so glad that it might be used and shown off, finally, after all these years. It is truly beautiful and deserves some admiration. Just like my mom!
The weather this weekend was metaphorically perfect for Easter. Friday dawned cloudy and cool, finally turning into a drizzle which morphed into a true rain which then lasted through half the night of Saturday, rarely letting up. It was such dreary weather that it got to be depressing, sending us all to bed extra early on Saturday night. I was so cold that we built a fire and I added another blanket to my side of the bed. But, Sunday dawned “rosy-fingered” and beautiful, the world washed clean. A sunshiny, warm day proceeded with lots of Easter egg hunting (3 in all) and visits with family at church and over Sunday dinner.
We also planted potatoes on Friday and attended a fiddle contest on Saturday. Lots of young, wonderful fiddlers–Anne played really well but did not place. Easter egg dying and hunting also happened all weekend. The children dyed 2 dozen eggs on Thursday and Friday, and immediately set up a game of hiding eggs for each other. This game has continued even this morning, with Hythe hiding the few eggs that are left for Steven to find.
On Sunday afternoon, I woke up from a luxurious nap to see William tending a fire in the field by our house. He said he was just going to burn a little brush, but the light wind pushed the fire into the dry grass and the field started to burn, so William, with Hythe’s help, did a controlled burn for the quarter acre that he had bush-hogged the other week. I am sure other women feel this way too, but sometimes I look out at William doing something like this and think, “Why is he doing that? We have so many other chores to do that are more important than that one.” However, usually whatever task he does which I deem “silly”, turns out to be important or fortuitous in the long run. Likely, there will be some great benefit from this burning. William did not burn any more brush piles that afternoon–he loaded the rest in wheelbarrows and carted them away.
I am in my hometown with our children for a few days of visiting during spring break. Today, I went to see my grandmother. I really enjoy visiting with her and I think she enjoys having a little of the chaos (and the sweet giggles and silly antics) of my young children around her for a little while.
Nearly each time I visit I discover something of the family or of my grandmothers’ creative history — a picture, a book, sewing patterns, a piece of china. I don’t get the stories about these objects from my grandparents anymore, but I still enjoy finding them.
Today, right on the coffee table, was a thin plastic spiral bound cookbook called “Home Cooking Secrets of Elizabeth City” by the Senior Woman’s Club. The first sentence of this gem of a book states:
“It is the desire of Elizabeth City Women’s Club that this book will be of great value to young brides, as well as providing new ideas for experienced homemakers.”
The cookbook is from the time when a nice salad was either tomato aspic or contained jello. It contains old advertisements for local businesses as well as many homey recipes. Likely the most useful part of the book is the last bit which covers kitchen miscellany from oven temperatures and baking time charts to weights and measurements to ingredient substitutions. There is also a kitchen prayer at the end.
I plan to make a copy of the book this weekend and bring the original back to Mom-mom. I will share any particularly good parts when I come across them.
Patricia Pierson Reid, or Mom-mom, is my maternal grandmother. She grew up in Portland, Oregon during the Depression and had a few good stories she shared over the years of those hard times. Her father often did not have work, but they scraped by. She learned to cook from her mother and grandmother (her father’s mother) and she learned to sew from her father. He taught her how to use a sewing machine and make good seams and hems. I think he sewed from necessity and thought it was an important skill to learn. She learned and excelled, making clothes for herself, her children, and grandchildren, and sometimes selling doll clothes at craft shows. She made her wedding dress and her three daughters’ wedding dresses, not to mention countless party and prom dresses, winter coats, cloaks, and capes. She also taught me how to sew. I sewed clothes for my dolls under her skilled eyes.
I always thought of Mom-mom as a great cook. She could turn out a lot of good food and was especially known for baked goods — cookies, cakes, and bread. But, she would spoil my brother and I with Little Debbie cakes, frozen pizza, and Chef Boyardee on occasion. She taught me how to cook when I was quite young, telling me I needed to help my mother by being able to cook supper.
When I think of Mom-mom – who she was as I knew her – I think of her in her house, in the kitchen, providing food, cleaning, making snacks. She did not put up with a lot of nonsense, but she was always sweet to her grandchildren, teaching us, comforting us, quietly encouraging us, smiling at our antics or our accomplishments.
My brother and I, and sometimes our cousin, stayed with Mom-mom (and Dado, when he was not working at the farm)after school for many years while our parents worked, and for weeks in the summer. She was another “mother” to us, and I am grateful for the discipline, love, comfort, and support she provided.
I am continuing the theme of family this Sunday (late as it is) and I am going to start with my maternal grandparents (and specifically, my grandfather).
These were the grandparents I grew up with. They lived close to us and we visited with them often, went to church together, spent holidays together—all in our small town. They usually kept us after school, and during the summer at their beach cottage, when my mother worked.
My grandfather’s name was Hythe Addison Reid. He was named after both his grandfathers, but the grandfather whose name was not picked as the first moniker gave him the nickname “Pete” which stuck with him all his life. He grew up within walking distance of that grandfather and a short wagon ride from his other grandfather, on a farm in Nixonton (near Elizabeth City), NC. Everyone in his family lived on a farm, and all his ancestors had been farming in the area since the late 1600s.
Dado, as we called him, was a little larger-than-life. He was opinionated and stubborn, kind and fun and he loved a good debate (as long as he won!). He always had a story to tell—of his golf game, of friends from long ago or of those he saw yesterday, of his family. He was a farmer and a philosopher (actually, I don’t think you can be a farmer without being a bit of a philosopher), and he had some radical ideas. He inspired my interest in agriculture, honed my love of the beach, and shaped my liberal political leanings.
These “family moments”, for me, are becoming a time for me to reflect and appreciate the influence my family has had on me.
Sunday in the South was a time for family when I was growing up. It was the day we went to church, sat in the pew with my grandparents, and ate Sunday dinner (which is the mid-day meal) afterwards. Sunday dinner was always a bigger affair than “lunch”. My mother or grandmother would start cooking first thing in the morning—preparing a roast or chicken, peeling and cutting potatoes, snapping beans. Usually the roast would cook while we were at church and the rest would wait until we came home. Sometimes it would be our little family, other times it would include aunts and uncles and cousins. Sometimes we would have company over. Often it was a slow day, a time with family and friends to eat, talk, work, play, and be silent together.
The tradition eroded over time and as we grew up. There were more out-of-home activities and busier schedules. But I still think of Sunday as family day. A day to reconnect before starting a busy week of school and work. These days I don’t usually cook a big dinner, but we spend Sundays at church, then playing and working together in the afternoon. And, often the afternoon includes visits to or from family or friends.
I am going to try to write about my grandparents (and sometimes other family) here on Sundays. A way to remember family and reconnect. There are important connections, and I want to honor them.
So, an introduction to my grandparents and their role in my life . . . .
Since my father was not around much when I was very young, my grandparents stepped up their support of my mom and their role in my brother’s and my life. My maternal grandparents (Mom-mom and Dado), who lived in our same town, often took care of us after school. They also kept us for many weeks during the summer—often at their beach cottage in Kitty Hawk. My grandfather’s mother, Grammy, lived a few houses down from us and also took care of me a lot. I stayed with her many days when I did not have preschool.
My paternal grandparents (BJ and Granddaddy) came to visit often when we were very small and then had us come stay with them for a few weeks in the summer and winter each year. They provided a place of fun and respite in the mountains of NC and we loved our visits with them so much.
I admired my grandparents and, now especially, I appreciate what they did for us. They helped fill in a hole in our lives. I learned my initial sewing, cooking, and canning lessons from them. I learned family history, appreciation of the land and what it can provide, conservative and liberal politics, and unconditional love.
This blog was started to remember and explore the legacy they, and other family, left within me, and to honor who they are and were.