Category Archives: Family

Family Meals

These were the only photos of family meals that I could find. I think we were always too busy eating to take photos! Click on photos to enlarge and read captions.

For Cave Wall’s Throwback Thursday, here are some more nosy questions about family meal rituals. I couldn’t pass up this one. This was my favorite Throwback Thursday ever. Such fun answering these questions.

Let’s start at the top of the day, breakfast! Did your family have a sit down breakfast or were you more grab and go? What beverages were served at breakfast? What was your favorite (and/or least favorite) breakfast meal? Our most frequent hot breakfast was corn meal muffins with butter and light Karo corn syrup or honey from the beehives on my dad’s land. Sometimes we had bacon to go with them and we always had orange juice.  We had one of those old black castiron round waffle makers that had a star shape in the middle. It was used on top of one of the burners of the stove and you had to move it really fast back and forth to keep the waffle from burning. It took some time to make waffles for a family of five, though, so waffles were usually reserved for supper. My favorite meal. We sometimes had dollar-sized buttermilk pancakes with syrup or honey or scrambled eggs and bacon and toast for breakfast as well..or, it’s all coming back to me …Cream of Wheat or Coco Wheats!!! We never had oatmeal but always had boxes of dried cereal in the cupboard as well. Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes and Bran Flakes. I don’t remember eating them that often, but probably my dad did as he got up hours before we did to go out to the ranch so rarely had breakfast with us except on Sundays. He also loved to crumble the leftover corn meal muffins from our breakfast into a tall glass of milk and eat them with a spoon.

Did you snack before the mid-day meal? No because we were in school for most of the year and in the summer we were usually outside playing. Snacking was reserved for night time.

Lunch for most children was eaten at school with the exception of weekends, holidays, or summer vacation. At school, did you buy your lunch from the cafeteria, or did you pack lunch? In high school, were you allowed to leave school grounds during the lunch period? Everyone except farm kids whose parents had to drive them in to school in the morning went home for lunch. We lived directly across the street from the grade school and one block from the high school (two blocks when we built our new house) so walking home for lunch was no problem. Farm kids brought their own lunch. There was no school lunch program.

For times when you had lunch at home, was it sandwiches, leftovers, or a newly prepared meal? Lunch was called dinner in our little town and it was the main meal of the day since most of our dads were ranchers. It consisted of salad, vegetable, potatoes, meat and dessert.

The evening meal is usually the most formal meal in many homes. Did your family sit down together and enjoy the evening meal or were you more of a TV dinner in front of the TV family? We all sat down together for the noon meal and sometimes did at night, but we usually had leftovers or sandwiches–once we got TV, often in front of the TV.

How did your weekend meals differ from your weekdays? They didn’t. My dad worked so hard in the fields and on the ranch every day that he needed a big meal at noon. Sundays varied a bit as he usually didn’t have to go out to the ranch. We usually had chicken on Sunday. A big treat as beef was our daily fare. We never had fish.

Who did most of the cooking in your household? Did that person also do the meal planning and grocery shopping? Were you taught to cook or were you shoo’d out of the kitchen? My mother did all of the cooking and meal planning. My dad kept beef on the table as he was a cattle rancher and we had a huge freezer in the basement that was completely filled every time they butchered a cow. I loved to cook with my mother and knew how to make everything she made. When I got older, my friend Rita and I would bake cakes and cook–especially fried potatoes!!!! I did help my mother in the kitchen a lot.

Did you have dessert served at your meals? If so, what types? We had dessert every meal except for breakfast. My mother made the best cherry pie I’ve ever had out of the cherries from the 9 or so cherry trees we had in our backyard. Summers, my sister Patti and I were in charge of pitting the cherries and my mom filled what space was left in our huge freezer in the basement with cherry pies, so we had them until they ran out. She also made apple crisp and the best chocolate sheet cakes with boiled fudge frosting  glaze that I’ve ever had. That frosting soaked into the cake, making it so moist, then formed a thin dark chocolate glaze on top. They were made from a Duncan Hines cake mix but were incredible!! She also made pineapple cookies that she frosted while hot so the frosting formed a glaze and ran down the sides. When she hadn’t baked, we had ice cream or ice cream cake rolls from the grocery store. Or Jelly rolls.

Who cleaned up after meals? Was it a shared responsibility between men/women, girls/boys or was it delegated based on gender? My mom would rest up after the noon meal with a book or take a little nap with our dog Scamp beside her on the couch and then come in and do the dishes later on after we all went back to school, but when I was 11, I started clearing the table and said, “Come on Mom, let’s do the dishes now so you don’t have to do them later.”  After that , that was the tradition. My mother mentioned this years later long after I’d forgotten it. At night and for family dinners, we girls always did the cleaning up and dishes. One time I railed at my dad saying, “Dad, I have never seen you once wash a dish. I bet you don’t even know how, do you? He calmly put down his newspaper, got up out of his chair, walked into the kitchen, took a fork out of the sink, wiped it off with the sponge, rinsed it off, dried it and put in in the drawer. Then went back to his easy chair and resumed his perusal of the paper.

How about late night snacks? Okay or discouraged? Okay. We were always free to eat anything we wanted from the fridge or kitchen cupboards. A favorite was popcorn cooked in an old black metal square popcorn popper with a long neck with a wooden handle. We’d put in vegetable oil and popcorn and run it back and forth over the burner of the stove until it stopped popping. Then, into a big bowl and melted butter was poured over it, it was salted and dug into. Another late night snack was the ever-present vanilla or butter brickle or chocolate ice cream or orange sherbet. And.. with the entire cow and stacks of frozen cherry pies in the freezer in the basement, there was bound to be an entire big carton of ice cream sandwiches that my dad bought at the locker.

Were dining manners stressed in your household? No elbows on the table, no hats at the table, no belching, please, thank you, and may I be excused? The only rigid rule a meals was no singing at the table!!! It was my dad’s rule and I don’t know why. We were not forced to clean our plates and I only remember my mother once telling us we had to finish our vegetables. We ended up throwing them between the solid bench my sister and I sat on and the kitchen wall. For some reason my mother chose that day to move the bench out and clean behind it.  We had run up to a friend’s house after lunch and my mother called up and told us to come home. Actually, though, we didn’t get in trouble. She thought it was funny and never made us clean our plates again. She did later tell us that she couldn’t figure out why she kept finding dried vegetables on the wall or floor behind our bench, so come to think of it that must not have been our first time pulling that trick.

Did you have occasions where you had large family gatherings for meals? What occasions? Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas. My Aunt Stella, Uncle Ed, Grandma Jane, my two sisters and me, my mom and dad and Aunt Stella’s kids when they were still home, then my Cousin Jim, his wife Sharon and their three kids.  Dad and Stella and Grandma would speak Dutch. I had a huge crush on my cousin Jim who was 12 or more years older than me and so I hung on his every word. When it came time for dessert, there would usually be at least three kinds: my Aunt Stella’s incredible lemon meringue pie, my mom’s pumpkin pie and either apple or cherry pie. When my Grandma was asked what kind she wanted, she’d always say, “A little of each” and so she, of course, always had the most pie of all.

Did you say grace or have a blessing before meals? Always, “We thank you Lord for this food that we are about to eat, and bless it to its intended use.”  And at family dinners, my Uncle Ed would always gasp, “Ahhhhhh-men!” at the end. When I was a little girl, my parents finally figured out that I was saying “We thank you Lord for this food that we are about to eat and bless it in potatoes and juice!”

Now for the fun part. What dishes are you glad disappeared over the years? What dishes have you carried forward into your own home? I do not miss salmon patties or oyster stew (which only my dad ate, from a can, while the rest of us had canned chili.). We didn’t eat it out of cans, understand. We actually took it out of the cans, cooked it and ate it in bowl. One of our staples was ham and cabbage with boiled potatoes. I made it just last week and it was tasteless. I’m still adding ingredients trying to instill it with the flavor of my mother’s.  I also use her recipe for meatloaf and she made the best steamed steak with onions and potatoes which neither my sister have been able to duplicate.

BONUS: Care to share any favorite family recipes? I wish I had the recipe for my mother’s ice cream custard. It was really flan cooked in a big rectangular cake pan with miniature marshmallows baked over the top but it was sooooo good. It was served cold with vanilla ice cream but we’d also have a dish served hot out of the oven and the ice cream would melt over it. It was so good. Sometimes with raisins, but we girls liked it better without. Maybe my sister Patti will read this and put the recipe in comments?  Hint, hint.

Murdo School Reunion and Family Reunion, July, 2022 #3 (and Final)

My sister Patti sent me this photo to prove that I was actually at the school reunion as well. Since she took this photo, I am actually in it.

And here are some photos taken at the LandMark Motel the day after the reunion, when my family collected to bury my sister Batty Jo’s Ashes in the family plot in the Murdo Cemetery.

Why am I wearing those funny lips? Because I wanted to smile and this is what I would have looked like if I had:

I’d lost a crown the last night of the reunion when I tried to open a packet of sour cream with my teeth in the Buffalo Restaurant and Bar. I managed to replace it with a small strip torn off a polident strip but alas ended up forgetting and crunching down on it when I took a bite of muffin this morning and it was crushed into disuse.  Below is how I lookedin a family photo when I remembered to close my mouth when I smiled:

Tomorrow, back to Sheridan and an emergency visit to Patti’s dentist.

Family Links, for NaPoWriMo 2022, Day 29

Family Links

These are the gifts I was given at birth:
my father’s high cheekbones, my auntie’s wide girth.
Legs that are solid and a brain that is sound,
a head that’s too big and a stomach too round.

From my mother, a funny bone and a fine wit
in sharing my life by writing of it.
A talent for rhyme and a need to be telling
stories original, tight and compelling.

A thirst for travel, squelched in my dad,
allowed me adventures he rarely had.
A love of babies and a wicked humor
that didn’t go wasted in this baby boomer.

I’m forever grateful that I came to be,
thanks to those genes that created me.
With both foibles and talents, I’m not perfect for sure,

but all that I am, I have come to endure.

I’ve lived to an age where I appreciate
all of the gifts that I’ve come to relate.
 Here I am, the next link in the family queue,
and what they shared with me, I now share with you.


Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is “to write a poem in which you muse on the gifts you received at birth.”



Heirloom quilts, wedding veils, and Grandma’s tablecloths
are but future feeding grounds for silverfish and moths.
Since we cannot control the changes that the future brings,

we should not be flummoxed by the loss of treasured things.

Their value is more visceral than literal, it’s true,
so time can rarely mitigate their presence within you.
North and south and east and west—wherever we are cast—
within our minds and hearts, we bear the treasures of our past.


I cannot help mourning the loss of this quilt handmade by my grandmother over 100 years ago  which seems to have vanished from the assisted living facility where  my sister lived for the last ten years of her life, so I guess this poem was mainly written to comfort myself.

Prompts today are tablecloth, visceral, flummox, mitigate and north.

Separate Vacations


Separate Vacations

I guess it was inevitable that there’d be a breach 
with you wanting the mountains and me wanting the beach.
We’re broken into moieties, with one kid choosing you
the other choosing me so you know what we’ve gotta do.
You’re fierce in your decision and my determination
to have my way as well in terms of this winter vacation
means we’ll relax in different climes—you snow and me the sun.
Then we’ll get back together once our holidays are done.
Marriages find ways to work in snow and sunny weather,
but sometimes it works for the best when they’re not faced together.


Prompt words today are beach, inevitable, fierce, moiety and holiday.

Heart of the Matter

Heart of the Matter

My family’s only easygoing when it isn’t moody,
and dealing with the moody times seems to be my duty.
If I were only liberated and in better shape,
I’d clamber out the window and down the fire escape
and find some other people easier to bear,
investigate the wider world and see how I would fare.
The solution to this problem you are likely to construe
if you interview my family, but I hope you never do,
for the truth is that the discord that you otherwise might see
is likely to have vanished when they’re not dealing with me!

Word prompts today are easygoing, construe, moody, liberate and escape. photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash, used with permission.



She was disciplined and stern,
rigid, staunch and taciturn.
Her back seemed starched, her mouth a line.
Her clothing smelled like turpentine.
Each morning she dished out our gruel,
then perch herself upon a stool
expecting that we’d finish it.
A spoonful left? She’d have a fit!

She’d stamp her foot in consternation
and deliver an oration
of how hard her life had been.
Abandoned at the age of ten,
working in a factory
not pampered like the likes of me!
And so I’d spoon the gruel up,
or sneak it to my hungry pup,

leave the kitchen and escape
to hall or street or fire escape.
Every yule time was the same
when my Aunt Winona came
to visit us. “She’ll soon be gone,”
my mother told us. “Just play along.”
And so we did, all grateful for
the day that she walked out the door!

Prompt words today are taciturn, expect, yule, duration and stamp.

Dear Diary, Aug 20, 1958


I recently found my old diary, pictured above. I was eleven years old when I wrote the entry below.

Dear Diary

August 20, 1958

Dear Diary,

After I got up I started to clean up living room and finished after dinner*. Then I read, played cards and watched t.v. Patti and I just had a fight. She wanted to listen to her radio and I was listening to t.v. or I should say watching it. Anyway, it causes a little static when the t.v. is on too so Patti turned off the t.v. I kept turning it on and she off. Well, finally I shut if off for a while and went up to listen to her radio. She didn’t like that either because I was humming, so she told me to read a book.  I wanted to watch one of my favorite programs so I turned on the t.v. She started crying and I can’t bear to see a woman cry so I turned it off and told her for a girl of 15 who thinks she’s a lot older, she sure was a baby sometimes. For that, she hit me with a book hard.

P.S I’m writing the part about our fight outside.


*We called lunch dinner back then.

Love the last line. Ha!!! Sorry, Patti, but this was too funny not to share. She now lets me watch TV whenever I want to plus she pays my land taxes and signs my income taxes for me and performs all sorts of other generous sisterly duties.  xooxox

Easy Street

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Easy Street

Her wishful dreams did not include the latest Paris fashions.
Pedicures and facials were not numbered in her passions.
Being a wife and mother was what she loved the best.
It’s said that wild horses couldn’t drag her from the nest.

If they held a World Olympics of mothering and wifery,
she’d excel in matches such as ironing and knifery,
and her family members no doubt would all concur
that she’d capture golden medals in the wash and bake and stir.

If you questioned her contentment, you’d hear her lilting laugh
as she dished up cornmeal muffins, buttering each half,
thawed out frozen orange juice, avoiding the debate
as she hurried us through breakfast, afraid that we’d be late.

When the fifteen minute warning bell was rung across the street
in the school bell tower, we beat a fast retreat.
She drained her cup of coffee, then poured another cup,
put fish food in the goldfish bowl and fed the cat and pup.

She filled the sink with wash water and scrubbed and dried and listened
to her morning radio until the glasses glistened.
She’d make the noontime casserole and put it on slow bake.

Sometimes make a cherry pie or a chocolate cake.

She’d sweep the floors and make the beds, polish, dust and mop
until the noon bell sounded and she had to stop.
She’d make a hasty salad of lettuce and tomatoes
and serve what we called dinner— ham and scalloped potatoes,

meatloaf, hamburgers or a ring of cooked baloney,
Spanish rice or navy beans or cheese and macaroni.
Spaghetti, ham and cabbage, goulash or steamed steak—
whatever she could fry or steam or boil or broil or bake.

My dad would come in from the fields and eat and leave again.
With just an hour for lunch, we kids were always in a spin
to get back to the playground and lay claim to the best swings
or be first in line for tether ball or other schoolyard things.

Then she lay down on the sofa with our little terrier curled
right up close beside her as she learned about the world
through books, papers and magazines, reading there until
the let-out bell was sounded and kids bolted down the hill.

Time enough for supper preparations to be started
as one by one she was rejoined by her dearly departed.

Tales of school spats, teachers’ stories, what our best friends said.
From four to five, our childish raves and rants swirled through her head.

Then my father home again to wash up at the sink,
his mouth up to the faucet for a little drink.
“Use a glass, Ben,” She would say. A rather tardy rule
as he sank into his chair with feet up on a stool.

Supper at six, then radio, or later the T.V.
Dad in his favorite rocking chair, teasing my sis and me.
Mother in her usual place, prone on the divan 
reading “Redbook,” eating stove-popped popcorn from the pan.

Did she wish she’d gone to college and had a different life
than just being a mother and a rancher’s wife?
She would laugh and say to us, seemingly undaunted,
“Girls, basically I’m lazy. I’ve had just the life I wanted!”

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Word prompts for today are horses, wishful, concur, laugh and nest.


Faith, Fame and Family


(I think I have a bit more faith than is demonstrated in this poem. What enters us to write through us is more an exploratory being than one completely sure of what we write. I do believe, however, that more evil has been done in this world by those absolutely sure of the rightness of their faith and their beliefs than by those who continue to explore, and the older I get, the more I realize that although part of a larger world and universe, we are all unavoidably alone in our existence.)

The prompt words today are solitary/solitude, alive, ephemeral and inspire.