I woke up so happy the other morning. I was dreaming about making clam chowder with my mom.
My mom, who passed away from Covid on January first this year, believed strongly in two main foods to make anyone feel better. Clam chowder and wild blackberry pie. I could count on both each time I’d visit her in Olympia, Washington after moving to California.
I have collected a series of cookbooks (photo above) that my great-grandmother published in the 1890s and early 1900s. My great-grandfather was a newspaper man and owned a printing press. To earn extra money, great-grandmother Nellie published and sold her cookbooks across the country as a fundraiser for church auxiliary groups.
Just think, she had to typeset these beauties by hand!
I decided to check out my great grandmother’s cookbook to see if my mom followed the recipe for clam chowder. There are a few differences. For example, we use bacon today instead of pork. We don’t use fresh clams. And what the heck are common crackers?
I love this quote from the Soup cookbook:
“Soup preceding sumptuous meal,
Preparing well the way
For happiness and joyous weal,
To brighten every day.”
This is how I make clam chowder — the way Mom taught me:
Dice potatoes and boil in water. Chop onions and bacon into small pieces.
Brown onions and bacon, drain the grease.
Add flour to onions and bacon and brown. Add milk or heavy cream and allow to thicken. Add potatoes with boiled water. Add a can of clams with liquid.
Sometimes she would throw in a can of creamed corn.
I’ve written about comfort foods HERE and what my daughter finds as her comfort food. It surprised me.
What’s your favorite comfort food? Is it from a family recipe?
I wrote this when my daughter was 19. It’s my most read post. I am currently going through similar feelings with my daughter being annoyed with me. Maybe it’s the stress we’re all going through.
I understand how she feels. After all, I was once 19 years old. I remember it very clearly.
Everything my mom did, I found unbelievably annoying.
I’ll never forget sitting with her in the car, getting ready to shop at Bellevue Square. She had parked the car. She was fumbling through her purse, making sure she had what she needed. She reapplied her lipstick. Dug through her purse for her wallet to look through credit cards. Searched several times to check where she placed the keys.
Would we never leave the car? Would I be stuck all day? I must have said something to her quite snippy, or flat out mean. A few tears rolled down her cheeks. Which made me more upset with her.
Isn’t it a sad feeling, transitioning from a mom who could do no wrong—from changing diapers, to cooking their favorite spaghetti, to taping treasured colorings on the fridge that were made just for you—to being the person of their abject disdain?
It’s a tough new role. Let me tell you.
But, having gone through these feelings myself, I understand. I’m visiting my mom this week in her assisted living center. I talked about it with her, what I’m going through now, and what I felt like when I was 19. Fortunately, she doesn’t remember me ever being a snarky 19-year-old.
For some reason, I’ve gained more patience throughout my life and that has been a blessing. I’ve also learned forgiveness.
Something else, I’ve learned through the years of parenting: this too shall pass.
It’s called independence and freedom. We want our children to grow and become separate human beings that can stand on their own. Sometimes they need to separate from us. A good time to do that is during their senior year of high school, or their freshman year of college. It’s a good thing. I keep telling myself that.
However, we also want to be treated with respect, and once again—someday—to be cherished.
I wrote more about separating from our kids and the experiences we go through when they leave for college HERE.
What are your thoughts about adult kids being annoyed with you? Is it deserved or is it growing pains?
Do you think when people close to us are going through rough times, it’s easy for them to take it out on those closest to them?
I wrote this post when my daughter graduated high school. With graduation season here, I decided to repost my thoughts from not quite ten years ago:
Today my little girl graduates high school. What a joy she has been to raise, teach and hang out with. I remember her kindergarten interview when she had to be tested for one of the coveted spots at St. Theresa’s. She had fun buns on her head and ankle high “Britney Boots,” marketed for little girls dreaming of becoming Britney Spears. She boldly entered the kindergarten class and announced to the world that she was “Robert’s little sister.”
Today, I have a tall, wise-cracking young lady with a big smile and sparkle in her eye. If I could tell my daughter three things she needs to know for her next adventure called college, what would it be?
“To thine own self be true.” Don’t worry about what other people think. Do what you know is right. This famous quote is from Polonius to his son Laertes, before Laertes boards a boat to Paris in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Even though it’s pretty old, it still resonates today.
Happiness is not having a boyfriend or being thin. My mom would tell me the worst things when I was my daughter’s age — mainly focused on the need to “have a man” — or that “a man would make me happy.” This must be a throwback to my mother’s generation, where a woman’s identity and self-worth were wrapped up in a spouse. Instead, I will tell my daughter that happiness is found within yourself — by doing something that you love. Once you find happiness in yourself, only then can you share it with others.
Don’t worry about what your career or major will be. You will figure it out. Don’t feel pressure about it. Most people going into college that have a major, change their minds anyway. Get your basic requirements out of the way and then after taking different classes, you will discover what you don’t like and what you do like.
And most importantly, not even on the list — I love you.
What three things would you tell your son or daughter on graduation night?
Last week a thought occurred to me. I should get out my flute. Not only would it be nice to play again after a few years of not playing, it might give me a burst of creativity. I’m always looking for ways to encourage my creative spirit including walks, sketching or reading. However, in my advanced age, I promptly forgot about playing the flute.
Actually after moving, the flute got tucked away along with my music. At our former home, my flute was out on the piano and I’d walk by and stop to play. We donated our piano to our kids’ elementary school before we moved.
I was reading through blogs yesterday when I ran across a mouse playing a flute in a story on Nuggets of Gold called Moonlight Sonata. A note went off in my head. Yes, I want to get my flute out — and music.
I remembered where I squirreled away my music in the guest room dresser. My flute was hidden in my closet. My favorite flute music is falling apart, but still readable. I also found piano music for the Phantom of the Opera and Wizard of Oz. The good thing with the flute is that it’s in the key of C and I can play piano music easily — at least the melodies.
My mom played flute since she was a child and took me to lessons when I was around 10 years old. I played her beautiful silver flute at lessons and practiced with it. She got the flute from her high school flute teacher as a teen. When I was 11 years old, she gave me her flute. Her friends asked why she would give a child such a valuable instrument and she took it back. My parents bought me a flute appropriate to play at school when I joined Band.
When I turned 30, I asked my mom for the flute. She said no even though she hadn’t played it after taking it back from me two decades before. I was planning to make a leap and join our church choir. A friend of mine played flute in choir and suggested I give it a try. I could have played with my old band instrument, but it sounds tinny and is hard to play compared to the rich tone and ease of Mom’s silver flute.
Anyway, that was my excuse — also I was scared. Buying a flute at that time wasn’t even an idea we could consider.
I asked mom at age 40 and again at 50. The answer was always no. Sometime in my early 50s she told me she wanted me to have her flute. On one of my visits, she insisted I take it home on the plane. I held on to it for dear life on the flight back to Palm Springs.
My son and I practiced Christmas Carol duets each year, me on the flute and him on piano. I’d go through phases where I’d practice daily and then stop and start again.
Then the phone calls began. Mom had moved into assisted living. When she was in her 80s she wanted her flute back. I tried to explain that I was enjoying playing and I knew she wouldn’t play her flute or even open its case. She assured me she would and wanted to practice for a concert. Then she’d forget all about it and months later she’d call again about the flute.
I think in the back of my mind, I was hurt when she took the flute away from me as a child. I overheard her telling a friend that I was getting my sticky peanut butter and jelly fingers all over it — which was not true. I also felt that it was wrong to hang onto a possession for thirty or forty years and not let someone enjoy it.
My aunt, her little sister, had a similar story with china inherited from their family. My mom gave it to her little sister (my aunt) before she moved from her home, but once in assisted living kept calling to get her china back. There was obviously no room in the assisted living studio to display the china or store it.
Looking back, I wonder if I should have returned the flute for a few years to appease my mom. I think she was attached to these possessions because they reminded her of her earlier years and she saw them as her identity.
In any case, I have the flute and music out and it brings me joy to play and connects me to Mom in a good way, that I am able to enjoy her beautiful instrument and her musical talent. RIP.
Do you think people hold onto possessions because they see them as part of their identity or youth? If yes, what other things do people hang onto for that reason?
When my family got together to share memories of Mom — while feasting on her favorite dinner of prime rib and popovers that my brother prepared — my aunt (pictured above with Mom) shared several stories. I wrote about the red square contest HERE.
My mom had a funny sense of humor. Even in her later days. When I’d drive her for our favorite sushi lunch, if someone was crossing the street, she’ tell me’d say “Hit her. She’s worth three points.”
Mom’s dad died from stomach cancer at a very young age. My mom was possibly a freshman in college? With her little sister 11 or 12 years younger, my aunt didn’t remember much about her dad. She asked Mom, “What was Dad like? Was he an introvert? Or an extrovert?”
My mom thought for a bit and said, “He was just a regular vert.”
That reminded me of several comments I’ve seen on blogs lately, including my own. We identify as introverts and extroverts.
But are we really one or the other? Is there a combination? Are we introverts more extroverted with people we’re comfortable with? Or is that true for everyone?
The house I grew up in from second grade on. No we didn’t have a blue garage! What were these people thinking!
I grabbed the front of the house photo from Redfin.
After my aunt and I left Robe Valley and my mother’s ashes, we drove to my hometown, Snohomish, Wash. During our journey we detoured up Lord’s Hill to my old house that I lived in from second grade until I left for college. My mom sold it after “the divorce.” It was too expensive for her to keep up on alimony payments.
We stopped for lunch at Andy’s Fish House. The Pacific Northwest has the best seafood. I had chowder, salad and a piece of cod. My aunt had fish and chips. It was delish!
My nephew played Moonlight Sonata and Für Elise as a tribute to my mom. He used his Covid shutdown days to learn piano!
My aunt and I spent the night at SeaTac airport after our adventure in Robe Valley and Snohomish. Next door to our hotel was 13 Coins which was a favorite memory of mine with my mom. My aunt said it was a place she and her husband frequented in the 1970s. Sitting at the counter is more exciting than in the booths, because it’s where all the cooking takes place.
My aunt shared a small scrapbook she made for my mom’s 70th birthday. This was a photo in it that I loved.
Thanks for taking a look at my week in the Pacific Northwest.
This is the private road through the woods to our riverfront property. We ran across this obstacle on our journey.
My aunt and I made the trek to Robe Valley where our family has owned property along the Stillaguamish River since the crash of ’29. Our mission was to spread my mother’s ashes in a place of beauty that she loved.
At dinner the night before at my brother’s home, we celebrated mom’s life. I was surrounded with love from my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew, spouses and children and of course aunt.
I worried about the condition of the road to the river. Would it be too muddy? Would it be flooded? We were told we’d need a chainsaw this time of year to make it to the river.
“We don’t do chainsaws,” I said.
My aunt who turns 80 this year, nodded her head in agreement.
Our first obstacle was a new gate. Prior to this gate, we had a chain across our road. Fortunately, I packed the key that was mailed to me by a distant relative a few months ago. Whew! It worked!
When we stopped at the fallen branches blocking the road, I was able to push and hold them back while my aunt gunned the accelerator and drove through.
Then something surprising happened. A Great Blue Heron (not a Phoenix) rose from a low branch and flew up in front of us. The Great Blue Heron was my mom’s favorite bird. In the 80-plus years this property has been in the family, no one has seen one.
My aunt said “Mary is that you?” (Mary is my mother’s name.)
The heron kept flight directly in front of our car as we made our way down the road. Literally we were looking up and forward.
I’m reminded of Victoria’s post yesterday at Victoria Ponders with these words from her dear friend: