Tag Archives: Mother

Pink Runners


Mother holds
her daughter
on the train
to Tokyo.

Heavy-headed girl
wants to sleep.

Mother pulls a
small plastic bag
from her purse,
a bag designed
for vegetables
at the grocery store,
and she removes
each small shoe,
cotton candy runners,
carefully lifts
each foot and
places it back down
and she packs
the small shoes
in the plastic bag
and tucks the bag
in her purse
and her daughter
pulls in closer,
wraps her arms
around her mother
and looks
around the train
as if to say
I am so lucky

A peculiar story about time travel

I don’t know if this happens to you but sometimes, in the middle of a mundane regular-life moment, I find myself somewhere else.

Standing in front of the greeting cards section at a Target in McAllen, Texas.

Eating panna cotta in a tiny restaurant in Florence… and, at the table beside us, four raucous women are licking their plates and laughing until tears stream down their faces.

Waking to the sound of the call to prayer in Istanbul.

We’re in a gorgeous, sun-filled cafe in Vienna and the waiter, who seems impossibly kind, explains that the woman sitting in the next booth is a poet. And she won the Nobel Prize when she was younger and had black hair. (He whispers the part about her hair.)

My first heavenly bite of a tamale at the Christmas Posada at our school in Monterrey.

Birkenau in Poland. It’s snowing lightly as I walk behind Damien and our guide. I didn’t expect there to be beauty here but there is. For a moment, I’m light-headed and I think I might pass out.

We’re preparing strawberries to make jam. I’m with my mother in her kitchen and the walls are the colour of baked cheesecake.  My fingers are stained red.

I don’t know if it’s time travel or not but I find myself visiting past moments quite a lot lately. And for that moment, I’m really there. I can taste the panna cotta on my tongue… feel the sun on my face and neck… smell the jam as it thickens on my mother’s stove.

All these moments – those from my past… and this moment right now – these moments make up my life and I’m grateful for every one of them. Even the hard ones.

And I’m particularly grateful for the time travel.

Recently, I’ve been visiting Barcelona in my mind frequently. I wonder that that means.

{Photo Credit: Kyle Hepp}

Where have you been going in your mind?

Strawberry Jam Days

This is my mom. She worries that people of my generation (and younger) have forgotten or simply did not learn how to make jams and preserves. (She’s right.) About a week ago, on a gorgeous mid-July day, she gave my niece and me a refresher course.

So, in the spirit of keeping jam-making alive, here is my mother’s tried-and-true recipe.

strawberry jam
– Approximately 5-6 cups of strawberries (The amount needed will depend on the size of the berries. Your goal is to have 3 3/4 cups of mashed berries when they are hulled and mashed.)
– 1/4 cup lemon juice
– 7 cups white sugar
– One packet of liquid Certo or Pectin (Please check the best before date on the box.)

1. Hull (take out the stems) and mash strawberries until you have 3 3/4 cups.
2. Mix strawberries, lemon juice and white sugar. Put ingredients in a large pot on your stove top.
3. Bring to a boil while stirring frequently so that substance doesn’t stick to bottom of pot.
4. Add one packet of liquid Certo. Bring this to a full rolling boil for a minute to 90 seconds. (A full rolling boil occurs when nothing disrupts the boil including your stirring motions with a wooden spoon.)
5. Take pot off stove and stir occasionally for 5 minutes.
6. Remove top layer with a spoon and place it in a bowl. This layer will be lighter in colour. (My mom calls this the scum and we always eat it on our toast the week that she makes strawberry jam.)
7. Make sure that your bottles are sterilized with boiling water. Then fill the bottles with your jam.
8. Melt parafin wax in a tin can in a double boiler.
9. Pour enough wax on top of jam to seal it from the air. This layer is quite thin – perhaps half a centimetre.

Makes 5 small bottles of jam.
To make jam with other berries, use 4 cups of mashed berries and leave out the lemon juice.
My grandmother said that you should never make jam when it is raining. (I’m just saying…)

What is the most useful thing that you learned from your mother?