Archive | August, 2011

The Power of Lox

30 Aug

What tactics do we employ to cope with inconveniences? I am being prudent in describing my current level of discomfort because Hurricane Irene has left thousands devastated. Locally, hundreds of my neighbors are experiencing tragic consequences of flooded basements. Our neighborhood ranges from the least affected, having to boil water since our supply might have been contaminated, to the most affected—ripping out basement walls and floors while not having power or water.

Personally, we prepared for the worst and are left, fortunately, without power, but with everything else. So, how does my mom figure into this? It’s not just her, but one of my “other mothers” ( who I would like to thank for giving me “survival skills.”

To satisfy the basic need to eat and not have to deviate drastically from enjoying our meals, I stocked up on one of my family’s most favorite treats: bagels and smoked salmon. Thanks to my Aunt Elaine (my mom’s sister), I learned that bagels with cream cheese and lox freeze well and then last throughout the day.  Dispersed in the refrigerator and freezer, the lox and cream cheese kept perfectly for the first 48 hours of no power. And, now, we can devour this treat until the power resumes or, at least, for our lunch and snacks today.  It is a trivial, but welcome diversion from current conditions. Thanks to my aunt and our many hours of touring her home city, London, I also learned to rely on bananas because they do not have to be washed. With the chance of contaminated water flowing, bananas are a mandatory snack.

I am fortunate to have been influenced by my resourceful mom and aunt. Their mother also figures into this since my grandma coped with many tragedies and still helped us all realize that we should be satisfied with what we have.

In the meantime, I hope that you have survival tactics and wonder what role your mother played in helping you develop them.


The Jersey Shore

25 Aug

The Jersey shore

I’m no Snookie (not even close), but I do love the Jersey Shore! I have always loved my trips to the beach, each and every one. Yesterday, my two teenage children and I ventured down for a few hours on the sand. And, as usual, this trip left me pining for more.  This particular obsession is not linked to my mom. She did not like the sand or tanning. Fortunately, she did love seafood and since we lived only about 30 minutes from the beach, we enjoyed both planned and spontaneous trips to Atlantic Highlands for seafood. Bahrs Restaurant was a special treat. Occasionally, on Sundays, we would go to the docks and meet fishing boats to buy their “catch of the day” for cooking at home. But, day trips to sit on the sand and ride the waves were rare.  Luckily, I was able to satisfy my beach need by going to Philip’s Avenue Beach in Deal with my friends and their moms.

With most of my relatives living far from New Jersey, I do sometimes wonder why we remain here. Day trips to the beach are one of the lures for me. Instead of using Ban de Soleil #4 (were you also addicted to that orange goop?), I slather on a high SPF lotion and thrive on the shore’s sounds, smells and relaxed ambiance. I am always thrilled to bring my children to the same beaches that made me a huge fan of the Jersey Shore!

What is your favorite beach memory? Did you grow up enjoying the beach with family or discovering it more on your own, as I did?

“The song that I sing is the only way I can explain….” *

21 Aug

Over the past 17 years, I have often recalled my naivety when, as a child and teenager, I promised myself that I would never, ever do “that” when I am a mom. I can remember many times that I even made that same promise to my mom, with the intent of making her feel bad, I’m sure. Thankfully, I have done “that.” I have acted like my mom did and said just the same kinds of mom things she said.

Here is a recent concern and an example of me, acting just like my mom:  While riding in the car and being exposed to the music that my children and all of their friends listen to, I find myself questioning the lyrics. When they know each word of Chris Brown’s “Look at Me Now,” I have three immediate reactions. First, I am shocked at the words and ideas he expresses.

Second, I wonder how much they are influenced by his words. After hearing Wiz Khalifa rap about “Black and Yellow,” I wonder what my children have seen and even experienced.

And, third, I think about the horrified look on my mom’s face when she discovered song lyrics that my 9th grade boyfriend, my first true crush, mailed me. As she read Cat Stevens’ “Two Fine People,” she almost shivered with fear that I experienced the things he wrote about. She did not think that I should have boyfriends who gave such obscene suggestions. I tried to explain that breast simply rhymed with test, but she did not care. I remember telling her, “We don’t do any of those things.…” I was embarrassed and angry and also worried that my relationship was in jeopardy. If she told my father, they might forbid me from seeing my boyfriend.  They either did not understand or did not want to. Meanwhile, I was even more smitten after receiving his letter with those lyrics.

And, it was not just about having a boyfriend. Around the same time, Rod Stewart’s Tonight’s the Night was a huge hit. Radio stations played it almost every hour and my mom cringed each time she heard it. She could not understand that I just liked his voice and the song’s melody. His words were risqué–as a mom, I would have to agree with her.

Now that I have children and they have their music, I can’t help but think how beautiful it would be for them to send or receive mail (snail, not e and not txts) like I did. I would be thrilled if those were the most obscene lyrics they knew.  I wonder what my mom would say if she heard some Brown or Khalifa.

How did your mom react to the music you listened to? What concerns should we have over the effect explicit lyrics might have on children?

*Stevens, Cat. Two Fine People, A & M Records, 1976.

Where Were You the Night Elvis Died?

16 Aug

I can remember, as if we are walking up Prests Mill Drive right now, the stroll that my mother and I took the night that Elvis Presley died.  Although we were not ardent fans of Elvis, he was a larger-than-life celebrity figure whose sudden death seemed to impact us all.  My mom was in her 20’s when Elvis became the “King of Rock and Roll.” If she wasn’t smitten with him, she was at least surrounded by so many who were. And, at age 13, I was an Elvis observer. I had watched some of his movies and found him intriguing. He was the first celebrity I knew who lived a glamorous and successful life that crumbled due to drugs and alcohol. His downfall would not be so shocking today—it is almost too common.

So, with these mixed emotions and a definite sadness, we decided it would be good to walk. I loved that walk. I can remember the happy feeling of being together weighed against the sadness that dominated that night. We chatted and walked for a while that night, not a common practice for us.

Today is the anniversary of Elvis’s death and people throughout the world will recall the feelings they had 34 years ago. I wish my mom and I could chat about Elvis now. I would love to know if she was ever an infatuated fan. And I wish I could tell her about the brief, but huge Elvis obsession my son had around age 10. Yet, I am warmed by the memory of our walk August 16, 1977.

And, I wonder, where were you and what was your reaction when Elvis died?

3 Aug

My mom!

My mom would have turned 80 today. Since she died before looking “old,” I find it easy and comforting to picture her when she looked young (okay, 60) and radiant as in this photo.

Recently, I received my daily e-mail quotation from Real Simple and was struck by how it conveys a main impetus for my blog (after eliminating the “in-law”).

“Conscience is a mother-in-law whose visit never ends” (Mencken).

Because I have a conscience which I credit my mom with helping develop, her impact on my life has never ended. I guess that would be a good goal or the moment when we know, as mothers, that we’ve succeeded with our children—when we see that they are making decisions and living life as if we are part of their conscience.

It’s exactly what I miss—my mom’s advice, support and criticism. I have this romanticized vision of my mom telling me how great my children are—how it’s because of what I do…  Also, I imagine her telling me that I am doing some things wrong. I think I would love to hear her say, “You’re letting her stay out too late….Do you think he is eating enough vegetables?…Have you ever thought you should limit computer access?” And, I imagine changing these problems simply because my mom thinks I should. Of course, in reality, I know some of these comments would make me angry. It is easy for me imagine her visit as all wonderful, how nice to be the conscience of a person who is always doing the right thing. But, I know that your conscience (i.e. your mom) is also great at pointing out your flaws and mistakes.

Still, I continue to miss all of that and wish my 80-year-old mom was here. I am grateful that she at least left me with a very solid foundation and is an active part of my conscience.

I am not sure if H. L. Mencken said this with the positive force that I infer, but I am thankful for the thought. And, I wonder, who makes up your conscience?


Mencken, H. L. “Daily Thought.” Real Simple  29 July 2011 : Web. 2 Aug 2011..