Dinner with Nana

I have said this before and I am happy to say it again. I am in awe of people who can remember their past, particularly their childhood past,  in high-definition clarity.  I see and hear  my past through  flickering scenes of snowy noise, crackling static, fragmented pixels, and faulty signals. Occasionally, I am able to focus on what seems to be a clear, defined, image, yet when I try to hold it, to still it in a frame ,  this is what happens: a  split screen of alternative possibilities.

Frame One:  Dinner with Nana

peas boil, custard bakes,
leg of lamb on stove top rests,
roasted juices, pink.
“Bloody meat,” sighs Nana Maud.
we grin, dinner not done yet.

Frame Two: Dinner with Nana

The peas are boiling, the custard bakes,
gravy, silky and peppery, simmers and plops.
Nana, pinny-wrapped, and double-bent, is busy’
with sharp-pronged fork, testing the mid-day roast.

She pierces the bubbles of crisp skin
and pearlescent fat, to the bone inside,
and watches, as the juices spurt,
clear and sweet.

“It’s done, ” she declaims, satisfied.
“It’s well-cooked,” she adds, decisive,
“I don’t like bloody mutton.”
No part of sheep would defy that tone.

We grin, we tease, in mock horror.
“Nana! Bloody? Did you say bloody?”
Intent on serving dinner hot,
blind to childish nonsense, she huffs,
“No, no, of course, I didn’t, but
I don’t like bloody meat.”

We giggle quietly into plates, bountiful
with succulent tenderness.
We eat, pudding next,
replete, content,
knowing, even then, we would remember
the day we pretended Nana swore.

Which of these pictures , I wonder, is closest to the reality of that day? Sadly, I can no longer say for sure. The editorial hand of time has steadily and stealthily, spliced and resectioned memories which once seemed solid; immutable.

But this much I do know:

Both recollections are faithful to the essence of my grandmother, and the good food, love, and security which were produced in copious quantities in her little, sunny, kitchen.

She was  a hard-working person; always busy around the home. She was independent, despite being almost blind in one eye. She was  capable, she was small, and she was strong. Chopping kindling wood for her fire and coal range were daily tasks she undertook into an advanced age.

Her cooking was excellent.  Every kind of food she gave me, be it boiled chicken, bottled apricot, roast dinner, or pikelet , I remember with pleasure.

And, as for those roasts ~ Nana preferred mutton and hogget to lamb but, whatever cut it was, she didn’t like it rare, or to say it plainly, bloody.  On that fact, my memory is 100% clear.

 

(This post is in memory of  Nana Maud who died 42 years ago, today, the first day of spring.)

In Memory of Nana

169 thoughts on “Dinner with Nana

  1. cindy knoke

    Your Nana cooked!
    The love of cooking rocks.
    I had a Nana too. She was an excellent cook which she passed on to her daughter’s, and to me her only grand-daughter, and to her great-grand daughter, Dre.
    I know you cook and bake, beautifully.
    This cooking passed down through the generations by mother to daughter, and on, through the generations, is just a priceless gift of culture, tradition, history, and, dare I say it, feminism. Plus it is something women do, and have done, that everyone appreciates.
    My memories of Nana are crystal clear. She traveled the world, and I have her charm bracelet with all the countries and continents she visited to prove it, and she was killer-good at scrabble. She was highly critical of me. I spoke up quite a bit you see.
    Maybe hazy memories are better, just the good parts, forget the bad.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Cindy, you may indeed refer to this bond formed between generations as feminism, particularly in the New Zealand context, where we have had strong women guiding more strong women for almost the entire history of this country. Sept 19th this year marked the 125 th anniversary of women winning the right to vote in New Zealand. Recently, I was so proud to find my great aunt’s signature on the famous petition which went to Parliament in support of women’s right to vote.
      Your Nana was obviously an adventurer. I am glad you remember her well, even if she was critical of you. Have you been to all the places on her charm bracelet?
      Hope Dre is doing well. 🙂

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Mealtimes at the table, especially. I am so grateful to my family, including grandparents, for the many meals we had at a table. I remember all those tables (kitchen and dining room) so well. I also remember how devastated my daughter was when we sold the dining room table we had had since before she was born. I don’t think she has forgiven us yet. 😦

      Reply
      1. Wendy L. Macdonald

        Would you believe I have the opposite problem? My daughter is helping me thin out our stuff and she thinks the big table should go. We have a smaller table that has been in the family for three generations; we agreed to keep that one instead. 🙂 But I got in trouble for thinning out the wrong books a few years ago. Oops.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Thinning out the wrong books or toys warrants a double oops!!!, in this household. And I have certainly done it with toys. 😦 It is lovely that your daughter is helping you in deciding the future of family treasures; it makes the task easier for everyone, I think. I am glad you have a special smaller table to keep.

  2. Liz Gauffreau

    What a delightful post! I thoroughly enjoyed the two versions of your Nana’s “bloody” mutton. I know exactly what you mean about the nature of memory. I’ve written so much fiction inspired by family memories, fact and fiction are pretty much indistinguishable now.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, Liz for your kind words. I am smiling about the melding of factual and fictional memories. I entered that territory when I wrote a piece about my great-uncle at Gallipoli. Somehow my father and I ‘remembered’ he had died from stomach wounds. Some years later I discovered that he had died from head wounds. I keep meaning to change the story I wrote but I haven’t done so yet because the story I wrote was the family story I had heard. Your comment makes me think that if I ever write my autobiography I should title it “My life; Based on a True Story.”

      Reply
  3. Judy Guion

    Gallivanta – Memories are just that. Memories. Two people can experience the same event, but their memories of the event may vary drastically because we remember what was relevant to us, the sights, smells and sounds that resonate through OUR brain, no one else’s. Both are true to you and that is all that matters.

    Reply
  4. insearchofitall

    I am so glad I didn’t miss this! What a beautiful tribute to your nana. I understand about memory and will look up the article on entropy when I’m done here. You didn’t pop up in my e-mail notifications so I’ll have to check but I’m behind still.
    Memory is a funny thing. Mine is full of holes due to several traumas in life mostly as a child so everything I write about the past is listed as creative non-fiction as I could not verify my memory is fully intact. Long term and short term memory can be a challenge. There are things I am certain of and my sister will remember it differently. My children remember many things that are absolutely missing in my mind. Little snippets is the way we seem to remember most things and you did a wonderful job of making us see your cooking with your nana. It makes me long for those forgotten images of the 2 of mine that I almost never saw. Thank you so much for sharing this. Hugs to ease your heartache. She sounds like quite a woman to model after.

    Reply
  5. Mél@nie

    oh, nostalgie, quand tu nous tiens… 🙂
    * * *
    @”On that fact, my memory is 100% clear.” – same here… 🙂 your post has reminded me of my dear “nana” whom I often miss… ❤

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It’s lovely to have special people whom we miss. And it’s even lovelier if we still get to see those special people from time to time. I am glad you also had a dear ‘nana’.

      Reply
  6. anotherday2paradise

    Such wonderful memories of your dear, hardworking Nana. I think Colonialist is correct in saying that your memories would most probably be more or less accurate. You must have missed her terribly after she passed on.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I am glad to have your reassurance in addition to Colonialist’s. Yes, I did miss my Nana but, as you most likely know, the missing somehow grows in the succeeding years; there are more and more stories you wish you could share. 🙂

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Julie, she was a character in so many ways. I recently I came across an old newspaper article from 1904. It concerns a woman who was assaulted by the son of a well-known family, as she was walking home one afternoon. He tried to drag her off the road and through a gate. She struggled and screamed; another passerby noticed and the man let the woman go. 7 days later the man appeared in court, pleaded guilty, and was given one month’s imprisonment with hard labour. Although my grandmother didn’t ever tell me about this, I am almost 100% sure that the woman was my grandmother because I doubt there was another woman living in that area with the same name as my grandmother. She was a small woman and she was feisty.

      Reply
  7. Ryan Biddulph

    Beautiful G 🙂 Your Nana passed as I was entering this world, me being 43 years old. She sounded special. I too marvel at folks who clearly recall childhood experiences with alarming ease. Especially when childhood was many decades before. Impressive! Excellent post 🙂

    Ryan

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, Ryan. My Nana was very special to me. No doubt, like every person, she had faults, but not a single fault was obvious to me, unless being stubborn could be considered a fault. 🙂

      Reply
  8. Leslie

    “….faithful to the essence of” [your Grandmother] -hopefully, that is what time brings us even after we begin to question the details of our recollections: the truth of the essence of who people are and what people and moments mean to us. I enjoyed reading this remembrance.💗

    Reply
      1. Leslie

        I think I am afraid to wonder what my essence will be in someone else’s memories. I suspect that I am of that family thread of people who are warm and loving, but can behave “crustily” at times. 😂

        Reply
  9. melissabluefineart

    I’ve been remembering my grandmother too. This is a touching post. I can remember my past pretty well, but I simply cannot envision my future, the way I want it to be. I say that because your way of describing trying to hold a memory matches exactly how it feels when I try to envision a possibility, something I’m told you must do if you hope to make it true. Could be why at 55 I am still floundering!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Melissa, this is such an interesting comment. On reflection I have the same difficulty with envisioning the future/ a possibility. Some people are remarkably good at doing so for themselves, or for communities. I can envision things up to about 10 days ahead, after which I encounter a thick, blank wall, beyond which my thoughts will not go. I wouldn’t say I was floundering. For me it’s more like drifting or as Michael Leunig puts it, plodding. http://www.leunig.com.au/works/recent-cartoons/883-plodders-prayer By any chance are you a middle child, as I am?

      Reply
      1. melissabluefineart

        I recently read about a woman who was a child in Nazi Germany. She dreamed of a world with beauty, and saw herself by the sea. Shortly thereafter she became an au pair for a family who took her to a town in California, on the ocean. She then saw herself as an artist, and became one. She sold paintings from all over the world, wherever she wanted to live and paint. I must say, either she’s making the whole thing up or she has an enviable ability to see that wall that stymies you and I.
        No, I’m the baby by about 10 years. An oops baby, more than likely. But drifting is good, too. Its just that I feel I should be more in control than I am.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          That’s an amazing story. I have only ever ‘seen’ one thing like that which was that I must come back to New Zealand, and eventually I did. Partly that was a conviction I needed to be near to my ancestors, particularly my Nana. Re that wall that stymies us, Clanmother https://clanmother.com/ has just alerted me to a wonderful quote from Wendell Berry which I think is very apt, “It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.” I like the idea of being an impeded stream, with a song, (as long as I don’t end up as a burst dam.) 🙂

  10. shoreacres

    In the end, it’s the essence that counts, isn’t it? Whichever of the memories you’ve limned for us is more factual, both clearly are true. The people I feel sorry for are the ones who can’t reexperience the reality of being a beloved child: which you surely were.

    Besides, one of the gifts of memory is that they shift and slide, allowing us to see or feel the same events in different ways. Look at the town in the wonderful painting at the top of the page. Seeing it from this perspective — IGA on the left, butcher on the right — is one thing. But walk around the corner of the butcher shop, or head toward the mountains, then turn around. The perspective is different. Go into the store, or lounge against one of the trees. The reality of the town hasn’t changed, but it’s going to be seen differently. In many ways, that’s a blessing, although it’s a bane to both prosecutor and defender in a courtroom.

    I am one of those whose memories of childhood are vivid as can be. I don’t remember it all, of course, but my earliest memory from my high chair days is so specific that both my mother and dad were able to verify it, down to the slightest detail. I don’t know if you ever read about it — it involved my mother capturing a mouse with a dishpan while I was eating breakfast. Like so many of my memories, it’s like a snapshot — just the moment in time, with no before or after. But it was the first of many, and I cherish them.

    On the other hand, I have almost no memories from my junior high years. They were rather like your earthquake: a period that I’m just as happy to have fade into forgetfulness!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      How very wise you are, Linda. Thank you for prompting me to consider the gift of shifting, sliding memories. As you walked me through the header painting, I realised not only how nuanced my memories are but also how, in my mind, I can actually walk my way around the parts of Methven I know well. I can also still do the same with my Nana’s house, which unlike Methven, no longer exists.
      I ,too, have a few snapshot memories from my childhood. Some are very blurred but, others, like the time I was bitten by a small spider are vivid. Again, I have good recall of my childhood home, but next to no memory of a visit to it by my Nana and my Pop.
      Yet, whichever way my memories move, I do, as you point out, have the wonderful good fortune of remembering that I was a very loved child/teenager/adult.

      Reply
  11. Maria

    I had 2 nannies and my memories are very vivid and continue to be so with the years. ‘Reminiscing’ is something that is used in therapy groups and it really works to improve memory and prevent cognitive decline.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I am glad to hear that you have vivid memories, Maria. I am also intrigued that reminiscing is used in therapy, and that it works to improve memory. Hopefully that means that writing this post has been good for me, cognitively. What a pleasing thought. Thank you.

      Reply
      1. Resa

        I am now a vegetarian, so pig’s feet are out. However, I can make one heck of a delicious cabbage roll and perogies. Let me add that she taught me how to make pies. No one beats my pies, and I think of her with every pie I make and bake. ❤

        Reply
  12. Lisa Dorenfest

    We must be riding on the same wavelength. Recently, I was saddened when I felt the memories of my beloved maternal grandmother slipping away with time (she has been gone 38 years). As soon as I had that thought, friends (who never knew her) randomly started saying things that jogged my memory of her own feisty personality. And then there was the scent of geranium, her scent, that I happened upon recently on a visit to a perfume factory in Nosy Be. I am grateful for these recent reminders. Makes me feel like she is still close by. Then, reading through the comments on this post, and then having a second go through your words, I am reminded of my paternal grandmother, a true survivor who dearly loved me and made the most awesome food ever. I could use a bit of her Matzo Ball soup at the moment as I have a nasty cold. How lucky are we to have been blessed with such grandmotherly love. And you with those lovely spring flowers.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      We are definitely on the same wave (length), even if we are not physically sailing on it in the same boat. I hope you are feeling better now. Perhaps the mere memory of that delicious Matzo Ball soup, and the love that went with it, has revived you. Wishing you many happy geranium filled days. 🙂

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Lovely to be able to share more of my history with you. In the days before I knew her, my grandmother used to keep bantams. Not only kept them but she taught them to perform tricks, or so the story goes. What do you think about teaching your ‘girls’ a trick or two? Or maybe they know them all, already! 🙂

      Reply
  13. Clare Pooley

    A beautiful post, Mandy! I love the photos of your spring flowers too.
    I don’t remember having many meals at my maternal Grandmother’s house; I was always given a special plate, usually slightly smaller than a normal dinner plate and always decorated with pretty flowers. This would help me eat all the food she gave me! I never had anything to eat at my paternal grandmother’s house. My father and his siblings all said what a dreadful cook she was, so I was pleased I didn’t have to eat her food! She was quite frightening too.
    My maternal Nanna was good fun and often played games with us, my siblings and cousins. We usually played ‘Cowboys and Indians’ and she was always ‘Doc’ who sucked the bullets out! She had lots for us to do, so we never got bored. I especially enjoyed sorting out the button tin and the bag of all her knitting needles. She had a bookcase full of interesting books and ornaments; a wonderful set of Encyclopedias from the late 20’s and lots of ‘schoolgirl’ stories that she kindly gave me when I was in my 20’s. She had a temper though, and was extremely superstitious but I didn’t realise this until I was grown-up.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Clare, you have some fine memories of your maternal grandmother. I don’t remember my Nana playing games with me but she certainly always had somethng to keep me busy; stirring the porridge pot, or helping to make pikelets on the coal range, making the jelly, and other such small tasks. By the way, have you kept the tradition of the smaller plate? I love smaller plates. My grandmother had lovely small dessert plates. I was fascinated by them and I now have a collection of them, including two which belonged to my grandmother. My sister uses the smaller plate ruse to persuade my mother to eat all her food. 🙂

      Reply
      1. Clare Pooley

        I used small plates when my daughters were little and I am sure it helped to get them to eat all their food. My grandmother gave me two of her special plates. I used to use them but became worried in case they broke and now they only come out for special occasions. They remind me of my Nanna. 🙂

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          That seems wise to keep the plates for special occasions. It would be in my house too. I am increasingly butter-fingered. Two pieces of china broken in 2 days!

  14. Val

    Lovely post. 🙂 I think that remembering the essence of a person is something we rarely lose, even though our other memories go. I remember both my grandmothers in sort of fleeting cameos but most of the ones of my maternal grandmother are associated with food or something homely. I had an incredibly clear and good memory til the 1980s, now most of it is gone.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I can’t say I ever had a very good memory but it was certainly better than it is now. For me that was maybe because in earlier days I recorded everything in weekly letters to my parents, so I was basically taking notes of my life. The notes reinforced my memory bank……perhaps! Speaking of essence ~ I used to find it slightly disturbing to go into my grandmother’s house, even months after she died because in every room I could smell her sweet Nana ‘smell’.

      Reply
      1. Val

        Oh yes, those after-the-event sensory experiences can be very disturbing. My mother had a dressing table and when she died, every time I opened the drawers, I’d smell her… eventually I had to sell it. Now I long for some scented roses as I associate them with her.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I long for some of those memory-laden scents, too. In my grandmother’s case, it’s some combination which includes Pears and Oatmeal soaps.

  15. utesmile

    It is so lovely to have memories like that…. and believe me of course with that word bloody especially. I remember some conversations with my Gran in her house when she drank champagne out of a yogurt pot to save washing up a glass….. 🙂 Precious moments!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Ute, that is such a great story about your grandmother using a yogurt pot for champagne. Very practical! I don’t blame her at all; dish washing, after one has been doing it for years and years, gets very tiresome.

      Reply
  16. Cynthia Reyes

    I hear you. I understand so well. It is through talking with my sisters and brother that the flickers return, then get fleshed out. And what a lovely piece you’ve written here. I always like your writing.

    Reply
  17. Kate Johnston

    Aww, this is such a sweet remembrance of your grandma. I agree with you–we have a way of reconstructing our memories over time. Not sure why that is. I do remember most of my childhood with clarity, and my sister and I often go back and forth checking details with each other. For the most part, we remember the same things. Beautiful flowers!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That’s wonderful you have someone (your sister) with whom you can cross check details. Are you close in age? My sister and I and my brother are not close in age, so our childhood memories don’t often overlap. Thank you for your appreciation of my remembrance, Kate.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, Sindhuja. I expect your boys are starting to store loving memories of their grandparents. My earliest memory, a very faint one, of my grandmother comes from when I was about 4. And I don’t so much remember my grandmother but the gift she gave me ~a little green broom and brush set. 🙂 Perfect for my playhouse.

      Reply
      1. Sindhuja Manohar

        That is heartwarming, that you can remember that! I unfortunately did not spend as much time with my grandparents because we lived in different countries, but my boys have been fortunate to have their grandparents close by them for the first few years of their lives. They have made many beautiful memories together, and will continue to make many more, I’m sure. 🙂

        Reply
  18. Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    What a lovely post, complete with nosegay-sized images as well as a lovely header image! Many of my recollections are foggy as well, and I often wonder why some people retain details with clarity whuile others don’t. perhaps we were too busy doing things – one adventure to the next… i don’t recall too many tender visits with my grandmother, though i can still recall what she looked like and also the aroma of her house and of her kitchen. she was not well when i – the baby of two parents who were also ‘the babies’ – joined the family…

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yesterday, I happened to hear an interview with Carlo Rovelli, concerning his new book, The Order of Time. So I googled the book and found this interview. https://www.irishtimes.com/news/science/carlo-rovelli-on-schr%C3%B6dinger-god-and-physics-being-better-than-lsd-1.3455527
      It seems to me that Rovelli may have some answers to our wonderings about our memories (and time); one being entropy.
      Z, I am glad you have some memory of your grandmother. I was fortunate to know all 4 of mine, though with 2 of them it was a short acquaintance. My sister doesn’t have memories of our maternal grandmother or our paternal grandfather, as far as I know. They died shortly after she was born.

      Reply
      1. Playamart - Zeebra Designs

        Thanks for this feedback and for the link. The page is open, and I look forward to reading it when there’s ‘quiet and restful time.’ (most likely tonight!) it looks like a very interesting read!

        I’ll never forget a conversation I had with my father a few years before he died. I casually stated that I knew how all grandparents died except for his mother… he shared a story that all but broke my heart, and I understand why he probably held it private – and I’m not sure if my sisters know the story. It’s so personal, that I’ve not shared it publicly – but in time I will, as there are such strong lessons there – to cherish our loved ones while we have them with us, as we never know how long that will be – it could be today that a dear one passes on —

        It’s so great to recall early memories, especially special ones that warm our hearts – even if the details are foggy!

        (I can still smell the aroma of my grandmother’s kitchen, where she often made Parker-house rolls for Sunday after-church dinner!)

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          It’s wonderful to have those special conversations with a loved one. My grandmother was lucid until almost the very end of her life. We didn’t have deep conversations but we always seemed to have something to talk about.
          And, would you believe, I haven’t (knowingly) ever had a Parker House roll? I had to look it up to see what it was.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, Sheryl. Grandmothers are great. I wish mine had kept a diary like yours did! She did keep a recipe book but I have no idea where that went after she died. 😦

      Reply
      1. Sheryl

        It’s nice that you remember the “diary years’ of my blog. I am so fortunate that my grandmother kept a diary for a few years. I’ve missed the diary in the years since I posted her last entry.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Yes, the diary years were great. I thought it was such a super thing to be able to do. Have you revisited the diary recently to see if there is anything new you could extract from the diary entries? Your knowledge of a hundred years ago (and more) must certainly have deepened since your first entry in your blog. By the way, isn’t it amazing to think that John McCain’s mother was probably a year old when your grandmother began her diary! ( if my maths is correct!!!)

  19. Michele LaFollette

    Ah, I see now! How lovely to read about your Nana. Time does erase the specifics, but, of course, it’s the generalities that really matter. I can still feel the general love, acceptance and comfort my Nonnie offered me. It’s part of me. Isn’t it comforting to know that love really does not die.

    Reply
  20. Liz

    More beautiful poetry, Mandy – you are such a wonderful wordsmith. It doesn’t matter how one’s memories form and flow through our minds when you can recreate such fond and touching imagery from whatever appears to you. x

    Reply
  21. KerryCan

    What a great post! Full of love and poetry, and details enough to take us there. I wonder why we remember some moments of the zillions we’ve lived, and not others. And, like you, I wonder how much of our memories are accurate at all . . . but the feeling is there.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      And I wonder why, of all the zillions, we often remember the worst moments more clearly than the best. Speaking of which, this Sept 4th will be the 8th anniversary of the first big earthquake. The memories are fading. I may even get through the whole day without thinking about that dreadful event…..maybe. 🙂 Thank you, dear Kerry, for your appreciation of my post. I hope you are enjoying lovely days with just a hint of autumn cool and colour.

      Reply
  22. Juliet

    You create a vivid and real picture of you nana, Gallivanta. I can see her, hear her and smell the roast cooking. What a nice way to honour her. I always find that the clearest memories arrive through the senses.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Juliet, thank you. You are one of those special people of whom I am in awe. Your memories, which you recount so beautifully in your memoirs, are so clear and fresh. Touching Snow, a Taranaki Memoir, is a gem. As for the senses aiding our memories; I am sure, if I had a freshly opened jar of home-made apricot jam beside me, I would be flooded with a jumble of memories of Nana’s epic jam-making sessions.

      Reply
      1. Juliet

        Oh thank you Gallivanta for your kind words. I wish you just such a pot of jam, to open the door to more memories of your nana!

        Reply
  23. Steve Gingold

    That’s a lovely tribute of pictures and memories, Ann. I remember little of my childhood so I envy you that whether one or the other is accurate historically. But if they are true to your Nana then both count. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, Steve. I do believe both accounts are true to my grandmother. I am content on that score. As a child, I only saw my grandparents every couple of years, when we were home in NZ on leave, or when they visited us in Fiji. The excitement and importance of those special holidays probably accounts for my remembering more than I would have otherwise, even if those memories are no longer vivid.

      Reply
  24. the eternal traveller

    These are wonderful memories of your Nana. One of mine was a great cook and the other a fantastic seamstress. I like to think I inherited some of each of their qualities but I wish they were still here so I could share with them.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That sounds wonderful; to carry some of the talents of each grandmother. I don’t know what I inherited from my Nana, apart from her crooked pinkie fingers, and a love of good, home-cooked food. I can’t cook a good roast dinner to save myself. And, yes, wouldn’t it be lovely if we could share our current lives with them. I talked to my Nana or visited her nearly every week during the last few years of her life. I miss those conversations.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Pauline, I have been blessed. I had two grandparents who lived into their 90s so I knew them well. A maternal grandmother and a paternal grandfather died in their early 70s. I barely remember them. That makes me feel a little sad. Perhaps as we get older there just isn’t enough room in our system to keep all our memories active; we have too many of them. That’s one of my theories anyway. There seem to be many others, proposed by experts, but no exact answers yet. 🙂

      Reply
  25. Clanmother

    Oh Gallivanta, I was there, with you in your Nana’s kitchen. I smelled the goodness, heard the giggles, and felt the love and care taken to prepare a meal for a family. While it is the beginning of spring for you, Autumn knocks at my door. It is a time of harvest and warm soups, of memories and teatime. Thank you for making my day extra special. Hugs and love coming your way.

    Reply
  26. Lavinia Ross

    A lovely post and tribute to your grandmother, Gallivanta! The flowers are beautiful. I love your description of memories from “way back when”. The older I get, the more those snippets wander through my mind. Sometimes they are clear, sometimes filtered and perhaps distorted through the lens of time.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Lavinia, my grandmother always had flowers in a vase either on the table or the sideboard, sometimes in both places. Her last garden was quite small but it was full of flowers which could be picked and brought into the house. From all the comments, it seems that, for many of us, memories flicker in and out of focus. Perhaps that is how it is meant to be. Interestingly, a lot of very old memories seemed to surface for my father as he was dying. They were very vivid to him.

      Reply
  27. YellowCable

    A very nice remembering post. Yes, I am not sure how other can remember things in the past vividly. I am the same. The pictures of those time are just like faded prints in black and white now. Few are a little clearer than the others. I am not even sure they are even accurate any more. Those pictures are so nice, love those white ones.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, YC, for your comment. I am glad you can join me in the fuzzy memory club, too. My father had good recall, and my daughter has a photographic memory. Some people are gifted in this area. I don’t know if my grandmother had that gift. She didn’t speak much about the past to me. She was fully occupied with the present day, and what had to be done during the course of it. 🙂

      Reply
  28. Iris@poetsmith

    A beautiful collage of spring flowers in memory of your Nana. She seems so capable and I can imagine those roast dinners she cooked… delicious and hearty meals! Fond thoughts of her, Gallivanta, a lovely write. Happy Spring! 😃

    Reply
  29. restlessjo

    Looking at the comments I think this is a description of many of our grandmothers, Ann. 🙂 🙂 And very beautifully done. I can picture mine bending over a big enamel pan of rabbit with crispy dumplings but it’s not a clear image, and one of only a few. Sad, really!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Rabbit with crispy dumplings! Now that sounds good. I don’t remember my grandmother cooking rabbit, but her mother did, according to my father. Jo, it is lovely for me to read how many others had grandmothers just like mine. I think they learned from the best; their own mothers. 🙂 My father adored his grandmother.

      Reply
  30. Steve Schwartzman

    Our Nanny was also small, increasingly hunched as the decades passed, and spoke English with a heavy accent, having come to the United States with her family in her early 40s from eastern Europe. (In New York back then, many kids’ parents and especially grandparents spoke with accents. That’s still true there today.) In my farthest memories of my father’s mother she was already in her 60s, white-haired, and for a couple of decades more she got around on her own by taking a subway or a bus or walking—all three of those when she came to visit us on Long Island. She died in 1979 at the age of 93. I doubt a dozen people are still alive who remember her. Like you, I remember many of the the foods she made.

    On a different matter, Americans have never understood why bloody was so taboo in other English-speaking countries, when here it was a normal adjective. That goes to show how words can be invested with associations and emotions beyond what the words denote.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      To start with the ‘different matter’; it is bloody strange that bloody was considered so offensive. There are several theories as to why , all of which seem plausible.
      https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/48150/why-is-bloody-hell-offensive-or-shocking To today’s youngsters, bloody as a swear word would probably seem absurd, but, for me, the ageing one, it’s a word that still doesn’t sit comfortably in my lexicon. ( Though I can see the funny side of it! ) In NZ, not saying bloody may have been a way to indicate that you were not, or were no longer, in the ranks of the lowest of the low class.

      Now to your Nanny. Knowing that you are an adventurous walker, I am guessing that some of your attitude to walking came from observing your grandmother. And I expect my Nana was in her late 60s,too, in my first memories of her.

      Reply
    2. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh, I meant to say, one of the reasons I would like to have clearer memories of my grandmother is because, as with your Nanny, there are now so few of us who have first hand memories of her; maybe half a dozen of us. 😦

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I am happy to share, Tish! My memories of my grandmother are mostly happy ones, but I know she could be feisty with her brother and her sisters. There were some cracker disagreements fromt time to time, but what I loved about those siblings is that, differences or not, they cared for each other in sickness and in health. They were a tight unit when the occasion demanded it. Now I am wondering what sort of fish your nana was? Do you have a blog post reference?

      Reply
      1. Tish Farrell

        No. I’ve not written about her. But I believe she made a life’s career of cooking badly, resentful of having to do it at all. She did have a pinny though, and also I seem to remember she had a wooden box to stand on in what she called her scullery because she wasn’t quite tall enough for fittings and fixtures (despite being part of an award-winning bungalow design from a 1930s Ideal Home Exhibition). This may well have impeded the cooking facility! Consequently, my mother didn’t know how to cook either – only the things her mother-in-law taught her some of which involved tripe.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Ah, that is an interesting life’s career! Do you feel your mother’s health and nutrition were compromised as a result of your grandmother’s poor cooking? Now, about tripe. My grandmother didn’t cook it for me, but my father did, and I assume he learned how to from his mother. I loved it. A few months ago, I tried some tripe in a restaurant. I was looking forward to tasting it but I was disappointed with it. It was nothing like the delicious tripe my father cooked. Your comment suggests your tripe experiences were not the best!

        2. Tish Farrell

          Well actually I did rather like the smell of tripe and onions, cooked in a white sauce, but it was a meal reserved for my father. But that’s an interesting query about whether my mother’s health was at all compromised. I’m thinking not. My grandmother did not stand for signs of weakness 🙂

        3. Tish Farrell

          Yes. You’ve got it. I certainly owe everything to cod liver oil too. You’ve also sprung a memory of Nana’s bathroom. It was like a morgue! If warm water ever came out of the tap, it would’ve been frozen by the time it hit the bath.

        4. Gallivanta Post author

          Not funny for the bathroom user at the time but I know how that scenario goes. (Not at my grandmother’s but elsewhere in the family). And don’t forget the toilet seat which was so icy it could produce performance anxiety. How I escaped chilblains on my behind I have no idea! No codliver oil for me but for awhile I was given halibut oil capsules.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Carol, I am glad you could join us at my grandmother’s generous table. There was always room for one more, especially at the large extendable table in the dining room. And, even though you may not have such grandmother- memories, I am sure your role as a loved grandmother is being closely observed and recorded by your family, to be cherished in years to come. 🙂

      Reply
  31. Leya

    “She was a hard-working person; always busy around the home. She was independent, despite being almost blind in one eye. She was capable, she was small, and she was strong. Chopping kindling wood for her fire and coal range were daily tasks she undertook into an advanced age.” A wonderful and loving post. I think I can see you two…even if it is not in high definition clarity. My memories are not there either. You describe what happens so well…and I think I had some tears in my eyes…in fact they are still there. My grandmother stands in the same light. So small, so strong and hard working on the land and in the household every day. I should note down short memories…like you do. You are very good at that – too.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Dear Ann-Christine, today, we are excited when women smash the proverbial glass ceiling, or do something equal or better to men. But , from what I know about my grandmother, and from what you tell me about yours, our grandmothers were already fine examples of independent women, and acknowledged as such. My grandmother helped my grandfather run a successful small business, while raising her family, and caring for a wider family. She worked from an early age, she travelled as a single woman, and she travelled both with her husband, and without him in later life. She was respected and loved, and the equality of her standing in the home was reflected in the way my father supported the equality and rights of my mother and his daughters. We were blessed. And I do hope you will write a few small stories about your grandmother. For future generations, your blog is a wonderful record of your experiences and beliefs. 🙂

      Reply
      1. Leya

        I love to hear about your grandmother and her life. And when we think about the women during war times…they were strong women all – because they had to be. But things are heading the wrong way today in many countries. Election week now here and strong/wrong winds are blowing.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Yes, it’s sad and so maddening to see things heading the wrong way. I have my fingers crossed for your elections. Politics and politicians were (perhaps still are) going haywire in Australia last week. Quite incredible, and also a bit scary to have such shenanigans going on so close to us! My grandmother seemed to be Labour in her political opinions. I know she was a great supporter, as were many NZers, of Labour Prime Minister Norman Kirk. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Kirk He represented the ordinary man and woman.

  32. Marisa @missmarzipan.com

    Another beautiful post. I can picture myself right there! I don’t remember many conversations with my Aussie nana. She loved us but wasn’t one for sitting down and conversing with children. I have fond memories and food memories from times spent at her house… how she never wasted anything, how she had a fondness for apricots, how “sweets” were almost always served with thickened custard. Sending love to you on your first day of spring as you remember your nana.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, dear Marissa. I think our grandmothers must have been cut from the same cloth. My grandmother wasn’t a conversationalist, or particularly demonstrative, but somehow she surrounded us with love. She loved apricots, fresh and bottled, and in jam. And she was very particular about the apricots she bought from the orchards. Moorpark apricots were her favourite choice. Custard was her standard daily dessert; either baked or blancmange. I loved them. I hope the autumn is rich and deeply satisfying for you and your family. They will be storing memories of the wonderful food in your kitchen.

      Reply
  33. danniehill

    Lovely memories that make me smile also. My memories are much like yours. Patches of joy that I often fill in and luckily my family keeps feeding me more stories and I try to retain them. Wonderful post

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Isn’t lovely to have family, extended family, even friends, who can supplement and complement our memories/family stories! I hope you will retain some of your stories; at least enough of them to pass on to the next generation.

      Reply
  34. paulliverstravels

    In our family, we tell the same stories so many times that we start catching each other’s mistakes in the tellings. But frankly, I like my memories a little muted, since a lot of life turned out a little disappointing.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Ah, yes, mistakes in the tellings and then the disputes about whether they are mistakes or not. 😉 And I certainly have some memories which are better muted, or , better still, consigned to a forgettory. Unfortunately, those memories of mine are often the ones which insist on popping to the surface every now and then, all too clear and all too bright.

      Reply
  35. angesco

    Lovely memories – I had forgotten her preference for mutton! She liked to use the best rump for stews though. I was also mesmerised by her early morning ritual of having a wee piecie before breakfast. She buttered and jammed the end of the loaf before cutting the slice off and seemed to do it without the jammy bread falling face down onto the plate.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Ah, yes, the wee piecie. I am not sure if I ever saw her slicing the wee piecie, or I just know from you that is what she did. My strongest memory is of the wee piecie placed on a plate next to her while she drank her cup of tea. Maybe I wasn’t up ever early enough to witness the cutting and the jamming!

      Reply
  36. Miss Lou

    The whites and yellows remind me of our beautiful frangipani trees!
    I find myself reflecting on my childhood past so often – more so as I get older, however, it’s definitely not in high-definition clarity. lol

    I’m turning 40 in December and I think I force myself to remember things more, because I’m worried I might start forgetting them?

    As, always, Beautifully written.

    ML
    xx

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Miss Lou, lovely to see you. And thanks for reminding me of the lovely frangipani trees. Some of them are beautifully fragrant like my michelia which is always in full bloom in September. As for memories, write them or record them when you can. I wrote some in my 40s and I am much happier with the clarity of them than I am with my current ones. Thinking of your latest blog post; pity the memories of the poor children on Nauru. 😦 They are ones they would love to forget.

      Reply

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