Friday, September 10, 2010

Remembering Mama

Today, if she were still alive, my mother would be 100 years old. I am glad that she is no longer struggling in her body, as she surely would be if she had lived this long. But I do miss her. I wonder what she would make of the Internet and Facebook. Had that come along in her lifetime, I am sure she would have used it well to connect with the women whom she had gone to high school and then nursing school with in the 1920's and 1930's.

She lived through the watersheds of the Great War (World War I), World War II, the Great Depression and Vatican II. She knew food shortages and rationing--I remember her stories about adding food coloring to the margarine to make it look like butter and the shortage of sugar during World War II. I am sure that she and her mother must have planted a Victory Garden.

She loved pretty things--I still have a plum-velvet gown that she wore to go dancing and several vintage bags that speak "roaring twenties" when I take them out of my drawers now and hold them in my hands.

Mama made the best lemon-meringue pie that I have ever eaten. So much so that neither of her daughters even try to replicate it. She also made stuffed cabbage and apple dumplings, good German dishes that filled a cold winter's day kitchen with warmth and wonderful smells.

I remember "helping" her to make a meatloaf when I was about four. Her patience was amazing. I also remember wanting to imitate her by ironing--I was allowed to start with the dish towels, pillow cases and Papa's handkerchiefs and work up gradually to more complicated items. Eventually, I was accomplished enough to use the Mangle not only for flat things but even for my father's dress shirts.

Mama was an accomplished musician, singing in the church choir and playing the piano. The piano has not been played for many years, but will move to Phoenix soon, I hope, there to be played by her great-grandchildren.

She would have loved the picture-sharing of digital photography and the Internet that makes it possible to see a new-born baby or the Christmas celebration almost immediately. Her daughters have not learned how to use Skype yet, but I think she would be using it.

I live in the house she lived in. I cook with her pots and pans, bread pan and tools. While I have added some things of my own, there is a continuity here that I love. I love picking up tools that either of my parents used and having a sense of connection of my hands to their hands. I still have the yellow Pyrex bowl that Mama used to mix that meatloaf in that I helped to make when I was four.

The furniture in the living room is the same--some of it belonged to my Grandmother. It has become "antique", simply by lasting for so long. I like thinking about Mama and her Mama when I go into my living room.

When my mother was a child, Gregorian Chant was the norm for the liturgy of the Catholic church. The school, St. Mary's, that Mama attended as a child, had its own prayer book for the children. I have that book. I also have her beautiful First Communion prayer book and a collection of missals that she treasured. She and Papa were both grateful to find a Gregorian Mass in the seventies, and I am grateful that community is still here.

I wonder what she would make of today's culture, all the media blur, the noise and distractions and especially the incivility. I remember both of my parents for their courtesy and kindness.

So I remember you my dear, today. One hundred years is a long time indeed. I am grateful for this lady who was my mother. Grateful to be alive to remember her, too.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Plenitude of Apples

A dear friend has a magnificent apple tree in his backyard. He has been bringing me the bounty of this tree in large bags for the last several weeks. I think I have received at least a peck of beautiful, wonderful and very yummy fruit. We think they are Gravensteins, a variety that has a short season and a short shelf life and may be particular to California. They are slightly tart.

Here is a picture of some in a bucket.

I also have two drawers full in the refrigerator, but wouldn't dare to take pictures! The state of my refrigerator is not publishable.

Sunday afternoon a friend made apple sauce and apple chunks that are frozen in my freezer, waiting for cooler weather and company to make a pie.

Last week, we had a truly killer heat wave for several days. I had forgotten how miserable I could be in my un-air-conditioned house! So I have not fulfilled my intentions for this blog, or for much of anything else. Hopefully, this week's heat wave will not be so bad and next week things will be better.

I am grateful for the apples, for the kindness of friends and for the respite that cooler weather brought.