A changing of the guard…..in more ways than one…
January 21, 2009

It was fascinating watching the presidential changeover yesterday…George and Laura Bush, going through the motions of leaving Washington behind as President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle moved in(and may I just say how gorgeous Mrs. Obama looked yesterday?). I would guess there is relief, dread, uncertainty about the future and what life will be like…some regret, on both sides. You’d love to know what’s going through all their minds. But it reminded me of another changing of the guard that I will take part in this weekend.

Tomorrow I fly to Birmingham, to help my sisters move my Mom into assisted living, at the retirement community where she has lived for some years. She has been pretty independent, though just barely  able to live on her own for some time. A hospital stay just after the holidays really knocked the props out from under her, as she would say, and it was clear that returning to her apartment, where she struggled to do even the simplest of tasks, while possible, was certainly not wise.
So this weekend, we will move her from the nursing home where she has been getting “rehabilitation”…I use that word loosely…her care has not been the greatest and she has been up in arms, more than once over something that was said to her or how she was treated. Being sharp of mind, nothing escaped her and she cannot wait to leave tomorrow.

And I hope she will be happy in her new place….but no place is perfect. Learned that a long time ago.  We’ll be going through loads of stuff…she has more clothes than any 88 year old woman has a right to…she has always been and still is, very interested in how she looks(the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree), but with a much smaller closet, some of it has to go. And furniture…storage? Giveaway to grandchildren? Goodwill? Trash? Some of each, I’m sure. Pictures? No need for all the kitchen stuff. The further downsizing of a life that has already been downsized from a lovely 3 bedroom house, to a 2 bedroom apartment, to a one bedroom apartment, to now…a one room apartment. She has lost many possessions and a beloved husband along the way.

But she doesn’t seem to mind moving , and in fact is looking forward, I think, to being in a place that is smaller, where she will have more help, but things have to be done on their schedule, not hers. You know how it is.  So as I wish the best of luck to George and Laura Bush on their new life ahead, and to the Obama’s and their exciting new life ahead, wish me a little luck too, as we sort through things, both touchable and intangible. Life moves on, doesn’t it?

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Cornmeal Mush for dinner, anyone??
September 18, 2008

the basis for cornmeal....

How about a nice bowl of cornmeal mush??

I was talking to my Mom this morning, as I try to do each morning…she was having her usual bowl of grits with cheese for breakfast…and she said she had read something in the Birmingham News about Italian grits. “I don’t want anybody messing up my grits with Italian spices!”, she exclaimed. I explained to her that it was in all likelihood a recipe for

Polenta with mushrooms

Polenta with mushrooms

polenta, which is really just fancy cornmeal grits, nothing spicy, and that it can be served soft, or you can slice it cold and saute it in some olive oil and serve it as a side dish as dinner. She was slightly mollified by the answer….but it brought back a memory for her.

She said, “I remember in the depression…maybe 1933,  my Mother would often cook cornmeal mush for supper, when we didn’t have anything else to eat, and I liked it.” I asked how they ate it and she told me  it was served it in a bowl with a little milk and a tad of butter.  And that her brother was quite embarrassed that cornmeal mush was all they had for dinner…but sometimes it really was, all they had. And if you’ve never had grits for dinner…it’s good, and it’s filling.

So perhaps in these difficult economic times, when people are cutting back, and doing more with less…it’s nice to remember a recipe for  Cornmeal mush  that has been around since the early 1800s…and has been enjoyed by many, many thrifty generations, who might not have had any meat in the cupboard, or any vegetables, but they did have cornmeal. The link above is just one of many, but the variations are all really the same…pouring cornmeal slowly into water and cooking it until it’s mush…add a little salt and pepper, some butter, and you’re there….just like grits. Or you can slice it cold and saute it…just like polenta. All variations on a theme. Or some evidently serve cornmeal mush with syrup….though that sounds like a quick way to ruin up a good bowl of mush.