Mom, Me and the Market

I’ve been thinking about my mom. I lost her in October 2009. Technically I lost her eight years before, when she slipped completely into her Alzheimer’s world, but anyway, she’s on my mind. I haven’t written that much about her in this space, so I thought I would let you get to know her. 

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To my mother, grocery shopping was serious business. Sometimes I would lie on her bed as she fell asleep she would roll over and say, “Ground beef. Lettuce. Mustard.”

Every week we’d go to Waldbaum’s, Grand Union and the A& P because each one possessed a unique quality that was unequaled at the other. Once my mother discovered coupons, the need for specificity grew. Now I know that coupons didn’t come out in my lifetime but they were new to my mom, and Waldbaum’s would have double coupons on Wednesdays — we’d always go there for the best coupon deals. We once had a coupon for $1.25 for free coffee, and they doubled it so they actually paid us to take it. I think we saved 13 dollars that day. Our excitement over the deal inseminated the bargain shopper in me.

Since she was somewhat of an expert, Mom taught me the golden rules of shopping. Buy only name brands. Del Monte tomatoes and canned vegetables, Bird’s Eye frozen vegetables, Ore Ida frozen potatoes, Dairylea milk, Dannon flavored yogurt and Colombo plain yogurt. Never buy pre-chopped meat. Instead, pick out a nice sirloin and have the butcher chop it up. Grated cheese: Pick out a nice Pecorino Romano or Parmesan from the deli and have them grate it for you. I don’t know about then but I bought some grated Pecorino Romano from the deli recently and it was $11 for a quarter pound. Good thing my family had money. read more

Just Like Riding a Bicycle

imagebot (11)Fingers crushing the handle bars, I started to pedal. The bike steered me on a wavy path before I realized I was leaning too hard on the handle bars and squeezing too tightly. I loosened up and got more control over the bike. I pedaled it up the incline, around the circle, shaky. It wasn’t true what they said. You really do forget how to ride a bike. I made a few laps around the cul-de-sac and slowed down for a break. I wasn’t used to using those muscles. I braked slowly and when I’d slowed down enough, put one foot down for balance. At least I remembered that.

I hadn’t felt that shaky on a bike in nearly forty years. I thought of the hot-pink bike my parents bought for me, with the chain guard that said “Sweet and Sassy.” Neil, my next-door neighbor, made fun of that all the time. “Sweet and Sassy, Sweet and Sassy,” he’d taunt in a singsong voice. Even so, it was a great bike. It was two steps up from my tricycle – I’d never had the middle step, so I wanted training wheels. read more

Saying Goodbye

grandmaYiaya Julie was my birth-grandmother. I met her three years ago, when we went to New York and met my birth family. She cried and told me “I wanted to meet you before I die.” The sentiment was funny at the time. But now she’s gone, and I see how lucky we both were for those three years.

I’d never known an old person like Yiaya Julie. The old people in my family were bitter and complained all the time. Yiaya Julie was full of life, always smiling, hugging, and apologizing for her (perfect) English. We spoke to each other in a combination of English and Greek, and she was forever taking me or my kids to her apartment to do or see something special. She showed me pictures of her late husband – my grandfather – and the daughter she lost too soon. She showed my kids her pet parakeet and played games with them.

Since I only knew her for three years, I don’t know that much about Yiaya Julie’s story. I do know that she immigrated to New York from Greece and made a good life for herself. I admire her because I know I could never be that brave. read more

A Tale of Two Mothers

imagebot (10)This is the story of two mothers.

Forty-five years ago, a teenager in Queens went “all the way” with her high school sweetheart. She got pregnant. She told her boyfriend and he told his parents. Happy to welcome a new member of the family, they made plans. They said they’d get a bigger house so the couple could live with them, and they could help raise the baby.

The girl went home and told her family. Alarmed and ashamed, the immediately sent her to a home for unwed mothers s uptown. When her boyfriend came looking for her they told him she was gone. He was devastated.

The girl spent nine months in the home, making plans to give up her baby. Her parents and the  adoption agency said it was the right thing to do. She thought so too. read more

Happy Thanksgiving!

imagebot (5)Thanksgiving is my second-favorite holiday, right behind Halloween. Mostly it’s the cooking – I love to cook Thanksgiving dinner — and the eating, of course, but Thanksgiving speaks to my spirit too. I practice gratitude on a daily basis – not just on Facebook in November – and it brings me a lot of peace and perspective.

I’ve got a lot to be thankful for this year. For one thing, we’re moving back home to Maryland. I wanted to write about it sooner (we’re not de-cluttering, we’re packing), but my husband hadn’t yet discussed the move with his boss. But now he has and I can say that the Fishers are coming home!!!

We’ve wanted to come home for a long time. We hate Seattle, for many reasons. I’ve written about it before so I won’t go into it, but if you’ve been reading the blog you’re familiar with our reasons. If not, see “What Matters MostNavigating the Seattle Ice, Becoming a Play Date Player.” read more