Friday, May 9

A Tribute to Grandma - Grandma's Kitchen

This being the Mother's Day weekend, I would like to pay tribute to my grandmother. This is a story I wrote about her kitchen. I hope you enjoy it.
Grandma's Kitchen

Grandma's kitchen had no modern appliances, no fancy gadgets. It didn't even have electricity. It was a place that throughout my childhood remained much the same.

As I stepped through the door of that room on a hot, sunny summer's day, the interior was cool and dark. The veranda at the side of the house kept the early morning sun from penetrating Grandma's sanctuary. When my eyes adjusted to the dimness, I would see the gas lantern hanging above the old, oak table. This was no ordinary table - nothing like the fancy chrome ones of today. It had two leaves in the center to accommodate the eight people that sat around it three times a day. In the summer kitchen against the wall, stood another eight leaves. This table was gigantic compared to the small drop-leaf table that stood in front of the window in Mother's kitchen.

I was thrilled when Grandpa offered me that old, oak table when he gave up his house to move in with my uncle. It now graces my kitchen and is my pride and joy.

An oilcloth covered the coarse, grained top where scars had accumulated over the years. Around the table, like sentinels, stood six matching press-back chairs.

Besides the table and chairs, Grandma's kitchen was filled with other things that fascinated me. An icebox stood against one wall and a gingerbread clock perched high on a shelf nearby. I loved to listen to it chime out the time.

Once a day, Grandma would climb onto a chair, open the glass door adorned with golden flowers and insert a key into the face. She would wind it several times, being certain not to wind it too tight, then lay the key safely in the bottom of the clock and close the door with a click. I loved that clock. We had hydro (Canadian term for electricity)at home and our clock couldn't hold a candle to the lovely, gingerbread that stood high on the shelf in Grandma's kitchen.

Against the south wall of the room, stood a monster cookstove. I would watch as Grandma blackened it with stove polish. Around the edges the chrome sparkled and a white porcelain circle in the center of the oven door bore the name "Hartland."

At one end was a reservoir filled with water from the cistern. It held warm water for small tasks. But the warming closet was my favorite part of the old stove. Out of it came tasty treats - cinnamon buns, baked bread, and pancakes to be served with real maple syrup and cloverleaf rolls. Grandma made all of these with loving hands.

On wash day water was carried from the cistern and heated in a copper boiler on the top of that stove.
Grandma's kitchen had many other things that were of interest to a small girl. The wainscoting fit tightly to the wall and was painted snow white - the top half of the room was always papered.

Behind the stove stood a woodbox and a butterbox for kindling. We children had the chore of seeing these were kept full - not one of my favorite jobs.

One cold morning, I entered Grandma's cozy warm kitchen to see a large, cardboard box covered with an old, flannel sheet sitting on the oven door. Grandma lifted a corner of the blanket, allowing me a peek. Eight piglets lay curled inside the box. They had been born during the night and the old sow, being an ornery critter, refused to let them suckle. Grandpa had put them in a box and brought them to Grandma, hoping she could save them. Nothing on a farm was wasted and the loss of these piglets would mean a shortage of meat and lard.

Grandma did save them too. Many times a day, she sat in her oak rocker near the stove and fed those piglets with an eyedropper. Then, when they were old enough, Grandma made Cream Of Wheat and let them suck it off her fingers. The only one that didn't make it was the runt of the litter. He was just too frail.

Baby pigs weren't the only creatures that were raised in Grandma's kitchen. Grandma had an incubator. I've watched her clean eggs and place them gently into that odd looking contraption. She kept them warm for days until the wet, sticky chicks emerged from their shells. After a few weeks, I would find them in the yard, scratching up the dirt.

Most every memory of Grandma's kitchen is pleasant. There was only one exception that comes to mind. I must have broken one of Grandma's rules, though I can't remember what it was. Grandma sat me on a milkstool and told me not to get off until the long hand of the gingerbread clock was on twelve and the short hand on three. I sat there, for what seemed an eternity but in reality was probably about ten minutes. When the appointed time had passed, I was allowed to go. Never again did I goad Grandma into punishing me. Though I loved that gingerbread clock, I had no desire to sit and stare at it, watching the time pass ever so slowly.

My memories of Grandma's kitchen are happy ones and remain forever etched on my memory. I laugh now at the recollection of sitting on that stool and watching the hands of the gingerbread clock creep ever so slowly along the face. I can see the spirits of the men and women who sat around that table, laughing and enjoying food and conversation with my grandparents.

I haven't forgotten the good times Grandma and I spent in that room, or the aromas that filled the air. Homemade soup, freshly baked bread, cinnamon rolls, chicken and dumplings, fresh coffee and so much more. Whenever I encounter these smells, whether it is in a bakery or in Mother's kitchen, I take a trip back in time. Back to the good times shared by loved ones. Back to Grandma's kitchen were love was abundant.

Dumpling Recipe:

Boil chicken pieces for 1.5 hours. Remove from the pot, cool and debone. Be certain there is lots of juice in the pot. If not, add water. Put the deboned chicken back in the broth.

1 cup of flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup of milk (you may have to use a bit more or less)

Be sure they are thick enough to drop from the spoon in a large lump. When the broth starts to boil, put a lid on the pot, turn to medium heat and let simmer for 20 minutes. DO NOT remove the lid while the dumplings are cooking or they will be heavy.

Remove lid, lift out dumplings and serve.

Yield: 6 large dumplings

Copyright © 1988 to 2008 Mary M. Alward
Please do not copy or use without permission of the author.

Graphic Credit: Artist Doug Knutson

Show and Tell Friday

It's time for Show and Tell Friday. If you would like to participate, drop over to Kelli's at There's No Place Like Home.

I mentioned to someone in their comments that I had several stuffed animals and they asked me to share them. So, here they are. All of them still have the price tag. In the chair is the guest of honor, my panda. I love panda bears and I got him when I managed a toy store. He is brand new and I keep him packed away to keep him nice and clean. This old house is dusty and I wouldn't want him to be ruined.

On Panda's right is Freddy the Fox. When I was a child I read books about Freddy the Fox and when I saw this one, I fell in love with him. He is a hand puppet and he has entertained many children in his day, including my own grandsons.

On Panda's left is my reindeer that Santa left me one year. His colors are beautiful. I had never seen a blue and white reindeer until he came along. He is very unique, that's for certain.

Above Panda's head is my snow tiger. He has velcro on his paws, which enables me to hang him on the mirror of my dresser. The dresser belonged to Grandma and it has posts going up each side of the mirror. Freddy the Fox sits on the post and then the snow tiger hangs from the top of it. They certainly dress up the mirror.

So, that is my animal menagerie. I hope you enjoyed being introduced to my animal friends.
Thursday after school, the boys and I loaded up their bikes and headed to the farm. We also had a huge ball in the car. Getting the bikes in there was no fun, but we managed. We didn't arrive at the farm until 4:30 - late for us. We are usually there by 4 pm.

The boys rode their bikes for a while and then Jordan stopped riding to play ball with Conner who is at the farm after school every day. It seemed quite a while since we'd seen Brandon so Jordan hopped on his bike and went to find him. The two boys finally appeared and Brandon was dirty all down his right side. It seems he had hit a rut in the lane and taken a tumble, but he said he was fine. I breathed a sigh of relief that he wasn't hurt.

The boys and Conner played ball for a long time and even played Monkey-in-the-Middle. Remember that old game that we played when we were kids? Well I taught the boys how to play it and they love it. After that, the boys went on the trampoline and had a wonderful time. We headed for home at 6pm. It was a beautiful day. The breeze was a bit chilly by the time we were ready to leave, but the boys had a great time and I enjoyed watching them.

When they arrived home, the boys helped me get the bikes out of the car and rode down to the park. Their parents weren't home from running errands and so the boys raced each other down the hill at the park and had a good time together.

It does my heart good to see the boys outside playing in the fresh air instead of sitting in the house playing video games. They both love their bikes and it is great exercise, as is the trampoline. I'm not sure if it is true, but the child psychologist at the farm told me that playing on the trampoline for 10 minutes is equivalent to 20 minutes of walking. Do you think it's safe for this ol' gal to get on a trampoline. I sure could use the exercise. LOL

That's about all the news from here. Nothing very exciting is happening. Tomorrow is hubby's birthday and I think the boys are coming over for birthday cake. We will see what happens and if that works. Their parents might have other plans.

Enjoy the weekend, get out in the fresh air and sunshine and take some time for rest and relaxation. Be safe and remember not to drink and drive. The life you save might be your own.
~Blessings, Mary~

If you would like to read my memories of the Old Red Barn of my childhood, please click HERE.

Thursday, May 8

Today is Thankful Thursday. It is a day when we list the things we are thankful for. If you would like to participate, be sure to stop by Sting My Heart and pay Iris a visit. You can find out all the information there.

I have many things to be thankful for again this week. We are so blessed in Canada and the US.

1. Spending time with the grandsons on Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday we went to the farm and the boys had a lot of fun playing with an autistic boy named Hunter on the trampoline. When the boy first got there, he didn't want to get out of his grandmother's van. By the time he was done playing with the boys he was making a date to play again next Tuesday.

2. Thankful for meeting Hunter. He and I had a good conversation. He is a dear. Between the three boys, they really made my day.

3. That hubby's test results will be in Monday. Please keep us in your prayers.

4. For having my mother to celebrate Mother's Day with again this year. When Mom had her stroke in 2006, we wondered if we would have her another year. She recuperated 100% and is very independent.

5. For the pleasure of taking Brandon and Jordan shopping for Michelle's Mother's Day present today. They chose a resin goldfinch for the window box on their back deck and a teddy bear. She will love both gifts.

6. God has blessed me by making me a mother and grandmother.

7. For spring blooms and bird song. Today I heard several beautiful birds singing in the trees across the street.

8. For the pleasure of seeing the yearling raccoon that lives in the tree at the end of our driveway. He was sitting in the hollow and peeking out. Meeko drew my attention to him. He was adorable.

9. That I have Meeko in my life. He does make me laugh with his antics and he draws my attention to things that I would sometimes miss. He watches birds, squirrels, raccons and other wildlife and he gets me out in all kinds of weather like tonight when I took him for his walk in the rain.

10. For spring showers. It was wonderful walking in the rain. No one else was out and it was so peaceful. I had my coat on with the hood and so I wasn't getting too wet. I could smell the fragrance of spring and the freshness of the Earth.

Not much other news here. Enjoy the beauty of spring and be sure to take the time to stop and smell the roses. ~Blessings, Mary~

Wednesday, May 7



The sun sinks low on the horizon
Giving off a golden glow,
Shadows dance upon the ripples
As the waves to shore do flow.

Reflections show the sun's real beauty
In the shadows of the night,
As the screaming gulls head shoreward
Wings that shimmer while in flight.

Waves are lapping oh, so gently
As I walk upon the sand,
Make the most exquisite music
Part of nature's wondrous band.

How I love to walk the shoreline
When the sun is sinking low,
Seeing all of Earth's raw beauty
This is nature's greatest show.

copyright © 2008
Mary M. Alward
Please do not use without permission.

Monday, May 5

Random Acts of Kindness from Blogging Friends

It was a tough weekend as my regular readers will know and it's going to be a tough month. But I keep my eyes heavenward, knowing that I will get through all of this. Today, I received a beautiful sentiment from on of my blogging friends.

Denise of Shorty Bear's Place knows how much I love Meeko. She sent me the above graphics and I absolutely love them. Denise, you made my day. Thank you so much. You can be sure I'll keep these for years.

It's true that life is better with an Alaskan Malamute. Meeko knows when something is not right with my day and he often comes to me and lays his head on my knee. This afternoon I went outside and sat on the side step. He was laying on the porch and we spent some quality time together. It was a pleasant diversion from all the tension that has been floating around here. LOL
A couple of days ago, I did the four things meme that I saw a Storyteller's. This beautiful button above is one that was given out to participants. Thank you, Storyteller. This little guy is adorable.

This morning after I'd had my first cup of coffee, I walked into the bathroom and saw it through someone else's eyes. The walls needed washing, the vanity needed a good scrubbing and the medicine cabinet was full of medications that had long expired. Right then and there I decided that was my goal for today, though I would have much rather been working in the garden. So, after hubby left to do his errands, I got right to it. I cleaned the medicine cabinet and sorted all of the meds and got rid of anything that had expired. I cleaned out the cupboards and washed them. I cleaned the vanity, the wall behind it and the sink and all the accessories on the vanity such as the soap dishes, toothbrush holder etc.

I have to do things a bit at a time because of my spinal injury. By the time I had filled the bathroom garbage can with things that were no longer needed and the expired meds, I took it out to the curb. Tuesday is garbage day around here and this was the perfect day to get rid of all this stuff.

About that time hubby came home and it was time to get him something to eat. Earlier in the afternoon I had cooked macaroni to make a macaroni salad and I had taken braising ribs out of the freezer. Hubby did the braising ribs on the BBQ and added his specialty sauce. I made the macaroni salad and we had cucumbers, tomatoes and cauliflower florets with it. It was delicous. Nothing fancy, but good.

Besides all this, I had the cleaning up to do and I'd done laundry in between cleaning the bathroom, so I am plenty tired tonight. But it feels good. We have clean sheets to sleep on, lots of clean clothes and the bathroom looks great. It's organized and tidy once more. I just have to finish washing all the walls down and then the floor. This will take some effort on my part as I have trouble getting down on my hands and knees anymore. The bathroom is very small, so using a mop in there is impossible.

Even though I'm a little tuckered out, I feel good. I like to have the house clean and tidy and it's hard to keep up to all the clutter because of limited space and lack of tools for organization.
Take care and have a great Tuesday. Be sure to take time to stop and enjoy the beauty of spring. It was a beautiful day here and I went out a couple of times when taking a break to enjoy it. ~Blessings, Mary!

New Yard Decor or a Crazy Whim?

About a month ago the city came along and cut an old tree that was two doors up the street. The tree was hollow and in danger of falling down. They piled the wood on my next door neighbor's lawn and told her that they would be coming to get it in a week or two and if she knew anyone that wanted any of it, to let them know.

Without my knowledge, the neighbor took five pieces of the hollow tree into her yard before the city came back. I had my eye on a couple pieces, but it was frozen to the ground. I figured I'd wait until the weather warmed up a little and grab a piece. Before I could get it brought home, the city came and picked up the wood.

Yesterday it was pouring rain and I was talking to my neighbor. I happened to mention that I would have liked a piece of stump from that old tree. She directed me to her side porch and told me to help myself. There was a huge piece there with a hollow in it.

So today, I coecered hubby into going with me to get it. He looked at me like I was crazy, but did my bidding and we lugged it home. I see potential in this stump and want to plant flowers, maybe a creeping vine, in the hollow part. On the flat end I think a sitting gnome or fairy would be nice. Watcha think?
Above, Meeko is sniffing around the piece of stump and examining it. At first he wasn't thrilled with it being in his part of the yard. Meeko is very fussy about what enters his kingdom, but Mama is the boss and I said the stump was going there and that was it.
After sniffing around it for a while, Meeko finally accepted the fact that it was staying and decided to go with the flow. Ha! Mama is the boss! Hubby had warned me that Meeko would christen it but he was wrong. Meeko minded his manners, just as I've taught him.
Here Meeko is laying and relaxing. It looks as if he is saying, "Well, if it must be here, I may as well get used to it."

Now, I've told you all this in fun, but also because I want your opinion. Is the stump an eyesore or is there potential in it? What kind of flowers should be planted in it? I value any suggestions here. Should I get rid of it or can it be made into something natural and beautiful? Your honest opinion will be very much appreciated.

In other news, things are really quiet around here. Tenant got his notice and he was a little bit upset. He has signed an agreement to be out by May 31, 2008.

Nothing else much going on around here. I have yard work that needs to be done. It rained Friday and Saturday and was chilly out today, so hopefully I can get more of it done this week.

Have a great week and remember to do a random act of kindness for someone. Being kind is good for the soul. ~Blessings, Mary~

Sunday, May 4

Green Thumb Sunday

It's Green Thumb Sunday, hosted by Tricia at As the Garden Grows. If you'd like to participate, just click on the link to find out how.

Yes, it's time for Green Thumb Sunday and my garden isn't doing much to cooperate. Last week I showed you the tulips that are blooming there and also my rhubarb. Well, the rhubarb is doing good and should soon be ready for the first pulling, but nothing else much going on. My clematis has dozens of buds, but it will be a few days before it blooms. Maybe next week I will have photos for that.

Upon reflection I realized I had nothing to offer for Green Thumb Sunday, so started going through my Florida photos to see if I could show you some of my favorite places. I know these aren't my garden nor my green thumb, but hope that you enjoy them.

The photos above show some of the most relaxing places in Disney's Animal Kingdom. There's nothing like the soothing sound of water to help you relax. There are benches near the streams where I love to sit and have a few minutes of quiet and reflect on all that I've seen.
Above is the Tree of Life, which was seen in Disney's movie, The Lion King. This tree is 14 stories high and 50 feet wide. There are 325 carvings of animals on this tree, carved by 20 artists and they are amazing. You see it as you emerge from the Oasis and to make it even more amazing, there are 100,000 leaves on the Tree. It took thousands of people 18 months to construct it. It is definitely a technological wonder.
Take care and have a wonderful Sunday. ~Blessings, Mary~