Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Grandmothers, Mothers and Daughters

The above beautiful lady is my dearest grandmother, whom all her grandchildren called Nana. The child she is holding is myself. She was my mother's mother and she helped raise me. Her name was Ida, my mother's name was Edith.

Often when I'm doing something, it hits me that I am doing it because my mother did it and wonder if she did it because her mother did it. That got me to thinking about the similarities that come down through the generations. Will my daughter do some of the things the way I did them? Time will tell.

I'm sure one or more of my siblings will correct me if some of what I write isn't correct or quite the way "they" remembered it, but these are my memories and as the oldest of five siblings, my memories may be quite different or as my mind grows older, some of the facts may start to cloud over.

My dear mother and her mother have now passed away and I still miss them terribly. My mother gave birth to me but my Nana was my off and on mother for the first three years of my life..We lived with Nana.  She and my mother took turns looking after me, while one stayed with me, one would go to work at the Broom Factory in town. I don't imagine they made very much money. Also living in that house which is still standing, lived my twelve year old Uncle Arthur, my Nana's last child.

Even though they have passed on, they live in my heart so I will write this in the present tense most of the time.. All three of us wear glasses. All three of us had very dark hair. We all went grey gracefully. A rather pleasant salt and pepper grey. We all love reading. My mother and I are also very fond of magazines, I don't remember them in my grandmother's homes..All three of us can crochet, my Nana taught me around the age of fourteen. My mother and I also can knit, a hobby I'm trying to learn more about. Knitting socks is a project still out of grasp for now, but I'm hopeful!

My mother, Nana and I love to garden. I can remember a fairly large vegetable garden out back of one of the houses my Nana rented and sitting beside it was the outhouse we had to use until she finally got an indoor bathroom. My mother was particularly fond of flowers as my father used to grow the fruit and vegetables. I grow flowers and vegetables, having inherited a rather "green" thumb.

All three of us were great letter writers. It was almost a weekly event to sit down and write each other a letter, something no one does much anymore. We just click on a mouse and send off an email.  As far as animals go, my Nana loved cats and dogs. I'm more of a dog lover, having had two pet poodles and hoping to have a golden retriever someday..Mother tolerated whatever animals were brought home as we pleaded to be able to keep them. She learned to love them as we did..

If we wanted to play a hand of cards, we headed over to Nana's house. My parents often had friends and relatives in for card is still something I'd leave a pile of housework for, a good card game. Speaking of housework, my mother and grandmother were great at it. Me not so much. But we do have in common that we like to bake, Nana's apple pie was the best in the world, my mother's elderberry pie was wonderful and I rather enjoy my own rhubarb pies.

We enjoy our coffee and tea, cookies on the side. We have a great love of chocolate, peanuts, candy of all sorts. Nana and I often trotted off down town together for an ice cream sunday. Pineapple for me and strawberry, butterscotch or chocolate for her. She always had bags of candy at her house. Who can forget those large marshmallows covered with toasted cocoanut or soft mallowy candies which taste like bananas or strawberries?

They were wonderful listeners and I hope I inheritated that trait. We are great at puttering around the house, can take up a whole day. As for shopping, I should be banned from stores, mother loved to look nice and bought lovely clothes. Nana was NOT a clothes shopper. The only thing I did not enjoy was going shopping with her. She could look at twenty dresses and none suited. She'd rather go home, cut out a pattern by hand on a large piece of brown paper, cut out the material and sew the dress herself, I imagine by hand.

We love movies, walking and riding our bikes. Love the outdoors. Nana and I would often go out to her backyard, spread a blanket, lay down and try and figure out what shape the clouds were. What happy memories. Nana and I laughed to " I Love Lucy Shows" while mother and I often enjoyed baseball games together. Especially the World Series.When mother would come visit me after I was married we always went for a walk. (With maybe some shopping thrown in).

We are not lovers of the winter season but love the spring, summer and fall. Nana and I spent many years together with a cousin and her mother during the summer renting cottages at the lake. My parents took our family just once to that same lake, the inactivity was too hard on my father.

I still look for shapes in the clouds, still grow gardens,  bake, read, knit, crochet, eat chocolate and even write the odd "real" letter. I treasure all the memories I have of those two strong women who bravely fought through many adversities that may well have floored a less strong person.They deeply loved each other another testimony to the devotion of mothers and daughters. I've never forgotten my mother phoning me quite awhile after her mother had passed on asking me if I missed opportunity for her to say: "me too"..

If someone was to ask me if I missed both of them, I'd reply: "with all my heart, with all my heart"..

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Our Claire Turned One Year Old

Our granddaughter turned one year old on January 31st. My husband Jim just happened to have that Tuesday off so we traveled down to his daughter's house to celebrate the big day. I promised to bake a chocolate Teddy Bear cake and all went well until I couldn't find my caking decorating kit with all my cake tips. After feeling a bit of panic and searching in all the places I felt it should be, it turned up.

I baked two 8" circles in my round pans, one for the body and one for the head. Feeling the head should be smaller I cut some pieces off it, using part of it for arms and also the ears. My step-daughter wasn't sure she wanted Claire to have a lot of icing so I suggested I ice all the cake but the ears and just tuck them up against the head of the bear. She thought this was a good idea..

I used two chocolate maple buds for the eyes and a walnut for the nose and then using one of my cake decorating tips added the mouth and feet. I decided to put the cake on a cookie sheet and carried it on my lap for the hour's drive. I wasn't taking any chances of it falling off the back seat if Jim had to apply the brakes in a hurry.

Our granddaughter greeted us by waving at us as we entered the house, standing at the couch. She is crawling now and walking around the furniture. We had a great play day with her, me crawling on the floor with her, reading her stories and feeding her. Jim joined us on the floor for playtime and we made some wonderful memories.

We decided family photos would be in order so we placed the cake on the blanket box/coffee table and I kept one finger on it as Claire was very enthusiastic over the prospect of FOOD! Her mother had a good grip on her but at one point during the picture taking Claire lunged forward enough to grab an ear off her cake and stuff it in her mouth. That was so much fun for us all..she knew best when to try out her first piece of cake and after all it was HERS...

A first birthday just isn't complete without being covered in cake crumbs from head to toe. We all sang happy birthday, placed Claire in her high chair and let her go at the rest of her treat. We all enjoyed a big slice along with her. As usual we took tons of photos. My step-daughter is thrilled with the cotton blanket I knit Claire for her birthday, she called last week to say it's just the perfect size. We also gave Claire a pair of pyjamas and her very first piggy bank which rattles with money. Claire thought it might taste good too as she tried to bite her bank. Everything goes into the mouth at this young age.

I'm hoping by next year Claire can phone her Nanny (me) and tell me what kind cake she would like for her second birthday. "Nanny, will you bake me a cake this year?".
"Why, I'd love to my little treasure, what shape would you like this year?"
"A giraffe, Nanny, please make me a giraffe".

That might be a real stretch for her Nanny's cake decorating abilities but I'll give it the old College try as I'm sure no matter what it looks like, it will still taste great. I'm looking forward to all the cakes in our future and maybe someday she can help in the baking process..or make her Nanny a cake!