One Foot

One Foot

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Haunting Memories of Pumpkin Pies

My mother, Susie Shoemaker

          Today I am baking Thanksgiving pumpkin pies and missing my mother like crazy.  Pumpkin was the first pie I learned to make and I remember standing on the wooden footstool to stir the filling, taking an occasional, if not often, taste of it.  I suppose it isn’t helping that I am also playing Christmas carols.
          I suppose every woman connects to her mother and grandmothers through their unique recipes and approaches to cooking.  Neither of my grandmothers was much on the cooking other than the basic farm fare –fresh vegetables from the garden and meat we had raised, plus a few cobblers when fruit was available. Can you imagine such a lack of skills!  They didn’t even know how to cook the half-prepared, over-processed foods we are so familiar with.
       I inherited Mom’s card box of recipes.  I thought I would flip through a few of them and choose one to make this year.  Oh, my gosh, they’re in her handwriting (tearing up).  Well, onward.  The family favorite for caramel candy  - every member of the family remembers receiving the candy package in the mail and protecting it like gold.  Here’s one for spinach quiche – no wait, that one came from me. 
        I’m not making much progress.  Just found “Crazy Chocolate Cake (Double recipe)” and must ask my friend Norma if it is the same as hers.  That was such a good cake. 
         German chocolate frosting; meat loaf and sloppy joes for the whole church; date clusters…..each card with a memory.
          Well, guess I’ll try the “Honey Oatmeal Cookies.”  I’m about out of Kleenex tissue and I just heard the timer go off for the pies. 
          Holidays aren’t always joyously happy are they?  Some of those memories can truly make our heart hurt.  But then, we are making new memories and perhaps they will make our hearts sing. 
         And to think I was just going to throw together a couple of pies to take to the gathering tomorrow!
Blessed holidays.  May you be so very grateful for your own good memories.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Some Beautiful Things are Worth Waiting For

I cannot raise roses.  I love them; they are one of my favorite flowers, but I have little success with them in this garden. My mother, on the other hand, could raise roses and there always seemed to be a special wave of understanding between her and her rose bushes. 
     When I landscaped the back yard at this house, I planted several roses.  All died the first two summers except one, which simply refused to grow in a desirable shape, always had severe winter kill, and wasn’t the color I wanted.   Yet, every fall, when the temperatures begin to drop and most plants have gasped their last vegetive breath, this rose will send up shoots of deep, blood-red rose buds that are perfect for days.  At the most unlikely of times, it defiantly surprises me with near perfection.
I refuse to dig this plant up and remove it, not just because of this late season tease, but also because every season it repeats this, I am prone to think of my mother and reflect that I was fortunate to have a wonderful late-blooming relationship with her. 
     During my childhood, my mother was less than remarkable.  I’m not saying she didn’t care for us, but rather that she always deferred primary care and attention to my father.  He dominated the household totally and often our home was harsh and severe.  It was many years after my siblings and I left home that a change began to take place. 
          A little assertion can go far, and in mid-life my mother began to assert herself.  She worked for a while outside the home, began to enjoy a few of her own interests, and finally convinced my father that she was capable of leaving if he didn’t soften up a little.  Slowly, she began to have a friendship with my sister and I, discovering new ways to show she cared.
     In the last five years of my mother’s life, I was home to be with her and assist in her care.  Our earlier friendship became the foundation for a rich, pleasing and loving friendship between mother and daughter.  She continued to love her flowers, planted dozens of new roses, and had beautiful roses in bloom when she died.  
      When I cut those final rosebuds from my own garden, I think of those good years with gratitude.  I place my rosebuds in a bud vase with the assurance that some beautiful things are truly worth waiting for.