Showing posts with label the mama. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the mama. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Tomato Plants

My ABC Wednesday theme: The Mama and Her Authentic
Green Thumbs. . .and Fingers

Today, I'm showing you photos of the Mama's tomato plants.  She has one huge tomato plant growing in her squash patch. That's it in the above photo. She says the plant has two tiny fruits.

The Mama has four tomato patches in various parts of the yard. The tomatoes all started as seedlings in this box. In other words, these are the plants that did not get transplanted else where.

All the patches of transplants are quite healthy. Here's one of the patches.

Then, there's my tomato plant. This was supposed to be a pot of milkweed for the monarchs. Ha! A week ago, the wind blew the tomato plant's container on its side breaking off the branch. The Mama, fortunately, came along and stuck the branch back into the pot. The tomato plant just might make it.

It's ABC Wednesday. That's where I'm linking up today. Click here to check out other participants with me.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sparkly Dancing in the Shed

My ABC Wednesday theme: The Mama and Her Authentic
Green Thumbs. . .and Fingers
It may not look like the Mama is smiling, but she is. She's happy as a lark in the photo. Pourquoi?

One reason is that at the time I snapped the camera, it was raining cats and dogs. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I was indeed standing in the rain and grinning ear to ear. Rain, as I've said over and over, is scarce in our part of the world.

Prepping camote (yam) stems for her vegetable garden was another reason the Mama was gleeful. The previous day, the Husband and I bought her four bunches of camote leaves at the farmers' market.  She had been snipping away for about half an hour before the first raindrops plopped on her colorful clothes.

While I was dancing in the rain, the Mama was dancing inside the shed. Not physically doing the cha cha, but mentally. Just look at the sparkle in her eyes and the smile on her lips. Instead of cooped up in the house, the Mama was sitting snug and dry in the shed, stripping off camote leaves from their stems, while the rain drummed a cool beat on the metal shed.

That was last Thursday. Yesterday (Tuesday), the Mama had another happy day when she planted the camote stems into the ground.

Today is the letter S at ABC Wednesday, a meme began by Mrs. Denise Nesbitt and now managed by a team of wonderful folks led by Roger Green. Click here to read posts by other participants.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Mama's Roses

My ABC Wednesday theme: The Mama and Her Authentic
Green Thumbs. . .and Fingers

The Mama loves her roses. They're all over the back yard.  In odd places, such as the middle of her banana grove.

Some of the roses started as branches that she pruned from the roses in her front yard. Others are branches that she pruned from those branches that she pruned from the roses in her front yard.

I'm sure, there are third and fourth and fifth and so on and so forth generations from either the roses in the front or the back yards. Did I confuse you? Let me just say that it's been years since the Mama has planted a new rose bush.

She prunes a branch off one of her rose bushes and sticks it in the ground where ever she pleases. She waters it and that's it. No special food or fertilizer.

The Mama's philosophy: A branch takes and roses bloom, or it does not. But, she always hopes it will. From what I've seen, since I often water the flowers now, her transplants bloom 90 percent of the time.

Today is the letter at ABC Wednesday, a meme began by Mrs. Denise Nesbitt and now managed by a team of wonderful folks led by Roger Green. Click here to read posts by other participants.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Watching the Mama's Garden Grow

Sometimes Molly the Cat and I like to wander in the Mama's garden (which is the whole back yard) first thing in the morning. Molly does her sniffing-the-ground rounds, while I take photos of the sights. There are always new things to see, such as "Wow, look how well the Asian pears are growing."

This morning, Molly said, "Why don't you keep tabs on the progress with pictures?"

Well, she looked at me as I was thinking it. And, you know how cats have a way of transferring their thoughts to our minds. I agreed with Molly. So, over the next few months, I shall take photos of these spots in the Mama's garden.

Vegetable boxes

Vegetable boxes (another angle)

Apple Tree

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


My ABC Wednesday theme: The Mama and Her Authentic
Green Thumbs. . .and Fingers
Serenity now?

Go into the Mama's jungle then.

The north end, in particular, is where you can surround yourself with a quietude.

As you make your way along the narrow paths, flower and vegetable bushes and vines brush against your legs and arms in welcome.  Be careful though. You may need to crouch a bit beneath the tangles of branches of apricot, apple, and persimmon trees. And, there may be fruit hanging low up ahead.

Today is the letter Q at ABC Wednesday, a meme began by Mrs. Denise Nesbitt and now managed by a team of wonderful folks. Click here to read posts by other participants.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

From the Archives -- Taboongow

Here's another post that I wrote for my first blog, Cu'Pie Bird Says Chirp. Chirp. FYI: I slightly edited the post for today. Tomorrow, I shall be back to regular posting. Maybe.

Gourds for the Eating
(originally published November 20, 2008)

Several years ago, in the upcountry of Maui, I heard birds coo, “Ta-boong-ow. Ta-boong-ow.” I wondered if they were hungry for the gourd, and whether they wanted the long, bat-shaped ones or the ones that look like hourglass women.

Taboongow is the Ilokano word for upo, which is the Tagalog name for the gourd. (Please note that I’m phonetically spelling ta-boong-ow according to what my American ears hear.) Many people think of this vine-growing vegetable as an ornamental plant to dry and use for display or to make into crafts or musical instruments. Taboongow is also yummy to eat when they are still fresh. If you eat the gourd young, you can eat the center white part as well. Otherwise, you cut it away so you cook only the light-green part.

There are many types of gourds. Taboongow is known as the bottle gourd. They are light green and smooth-skinned. They may grow straight, roundish, or curvy. They are not to be confused with the bitter gourds (bittermelon) or the ridged gourds, which are made into loofahs when the fruits are dry.

The Daddy grew taboongow every year and when he passed away years ago, the Mama continued the annual sowing. In recent years, she lets the vines climb up the fruit trees in the back yard. This year, the Mama had a decent crop. We have been eating taboongow almost once a week since summer. Usually, when the Mama cuts up a fruit, we cook part of it into a soup and she freezes the rest uncooked for the winter. This year, the Mama and I decided we’d just cook each fruit she harvests and freeze cooked portions.

Taboongow doesn’t have a strong taste. In other words, it works with almost any spices and herbs you want to add to it. I’ve experimented a lot this year. So far it has tasted good with a curry, coconut, basil and thyme, or cilantro base. I’ve cooked it with shrimp, bacon, chicken, tofu, fish, or pork. All good. I’m sure it would taste good with beef. Hmmm.

Taboongow soup is one of my favorite dishes. The basis of my soup goes like this: Sauté onions and garlic. Add chicken or pork, if you’re using it. Once meat is brown, add tomatoes. Once tomatoes are broken up, add any herbs and/or other veggies (bell pepper, celery, etc.). Add up to 1 cup of water. Put lid on and simmer until meat is almost done. Now, stir in taboongow so it is coated with the liquid. Cook until the taboongow is translucent.

Things to note: The fruit is 90 percent water, so your soup will get a bit more flavorably soupier. (Are there such words? asked the Husband) Also it has been years since I’ve added salt to my cooking. So, add in salt where you normally would when making a soup.

Monday, May 4, 2015

From the Archives -- The Mama and Her Superstitions

Today is another archival post from my first blog, Cu'Pie Bird says Chirp. Chirp.

(originally published Tuesday, October 9, 2007)

Today was originally supposed to be my mom's quarterly doctor's appointment, but because it would be falling on the ninth of the month, I had to change it. According to my mom, the ninth is a bad day to go anywhere, make critical decisions, just do anything important. Hence she reminds me that I should not be traveling, paying bills, or signing contracts on the ninth. 

However, this is in contradiction to an astrological article I once read that stated the ninth is a lucky day for Sagittarius. So whenever my mom tells me not to do something because it's the ninth, I tell her it's okay for me. But I do wonder whatever happened to her--or to an important adult in her life--on a ninth or on successive ninths that causes her to say the ninth is a bad day. After all isn't that how superstitions begin.

When I was a kid, I was reprimanded with my mom's superstitions. A lot. I have no idea if they were passed down to her or if she made them up on the spot. But, they worked. My first memory is standing on the kitchen table as my mom was fiddling with something at the sink. Who knows how many times I must've stood on that table because I have a notion that I enjoyed standing on it. Instead of yelling at me to get down, Mama calmly said something like this, “If you keep standing on the table, your children will also stand on tables.” Whoa! I got down. Even as a small girl, I knew that wasn't something I wanted. Guess I knew how much of a handful I was for my mom.

As I grow older, I find my mom's superstitions charming. I pick and chose which ones to pay attention to just because maybe there may be something to them. One superstition is not to clip your fingernails on a Tuesday.

Being today is Tuesday, I won't be going anywhere near the nail clippers. Doesn't matter that the ninth is my lucky day.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

From the Archives -- My Turn

I'm posting articles from my archives for the next few days. Here's a piece I wrote for my first blog, Cu'Pie Baby Bird says "Chirp. Chirp." 

My Turn
(originally published August 9, 2007)

Thirty-six years ago, my mom didn’t hold my hand, but pushed from behind to ensure I looked good for the prom. Yep, I went to the prom, the only date I had in high school. Even in hindsight I am amazed I was asked to the prom. (Thanks, Mike!) Guess there is something to having a nutty, sparkling personality. I say that facetiously. Let’s also say that by the end of my senior year, I finally embraced the fact that I looked and thought somewhat differently from the norm and went with trying to conform as a nonconformist. So my idea for a prom dress was sewing a patchwork granny dress.

My mom nixed the idea very quickly and adamantly. She enlisted my dad and together they took me shopping for a dress at a genuine dress shop in Salinas that specifically sold fancy dresses for fancy events. Among all the pink and white frilly dresses, was a simple, but elegant, lime-green satin and chiffon affair, which actually looked better than described. It was in my size and it was on sale. And when I put it on, both my mom and I knew it was the one. I didn’t feel like a princess. Maybe more like Cinderella. I was glad then and still appreciative that Mama disregarded my desire for something, okay, I’ll say it, conformingly hippie-like.

Thirty-six years later, I have returned the favor. Yesterday, I held my mom’s hand as we maneuvered the shops in Salinas for the dress for her fancy event. In a few weeks, she will be walking down the aisle as part of the wedding party for a godson. It’s been a very long time between fancy events for her, probably since the late '70s.

It only took two stores to find the perfect sparkly, yet subtle dress. It’s a flowing, taupe- colored, floor-length dress with delicate beading on the bodice and jacket. It’s the kind of dress that would make any stoical woman smile and say giddily, “It’s a princess dress.” Even though the straps, the hem, and the sleeves on the jacket were too long when she put the dress on, we both knew it was the one. Alterations can be easily made to the dress. Just like the bittersweet changes that have been taking place between my mom and me.

I am so glad that years from now I will have a memory of Mama and me walking slowly hand-in-hand through the mall, searching for her perfect fancy dress and having found it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Head Pollinator

My ABC Wednesday theme: The Mama and Her Authentic
Green Thumbs. . .and Fingers
For nearly 27 years, the Mama worked in applied seed research. She had a hand in getting the stink out of broccoli and creating an oblong tomato that would be easier for machines to pluck without bruising, among other horticultural feats. This was many years before genetic engineering in agriculture came to be. Back then, seed research involved people cross pollinating generations of cabbage, tomatoes, corn, pumpkins, squash, peppers, broccoli, melons, and other vegetables and fruits.

It's not as easy as you think. It takes steady hands and a focused mind. And, if you're working with the Mama, you definitely cannot be a slacker, at least on the job. I ought to know. I worked for her for two summers when I was a teenager. One of the best paying jobs to have back then. The Mama was the supervisor of the crew of seed technicians. Summer being the busy season, she hired two or more teenagers to help out. She wouldn't hire me until the summer after I graduated from high school.

There were many aspects to the Mama's job.  I only learned how to be a human bee. Even more than 40 years later, I still recall the basic things to know, which applied to any plant. You carefully strip a female's dress (petals), making sure you don't touch any part of her reproductive organs with your fingers or your tools. You harvest male flowers from the correct rows. And, you have to make sure that neither the female or male has already opened and, thus, possibly been compromised by bees, butterflies, or other pollinating insects. You also have to remember to cover the pollinated female with the proper covering and tag her with the male's ID number before you move on to the next one.

It was very fascinating work. Looking back, I would've loved to have gone through at least one full cycle of the process of planting seeds to threshing the seeds and bagging them.

San Jose Mercury News, 1968

Today is ABC Wednesday, a meme began by Mrs. Denise Nesbitt and now headed by Roger Green and his helpers. Click here to read posts around today's letter P. 

If you've come from the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, my Y post is over here.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Vegetable Garden

My earliest memory of the Daddy's vegetable garden was floating a pea pod in the water rushing down one of the narrow vegetable ditches. I was about four years old. I remember the garden being tall, green, and wild-like.

Every year, the Daddy put up a vegetable garden for the family, growing many Filipino vegetables that we couldn't buy in the grocery store. We ate a lot of long beans, bitter melon, Japanese eggplants, tabongaw (a type of gourd), Kabocha squash, saloyat (okra leaves), parda (a hairy, bigger, and thicker pea), and kabatiti (a kind of squash with ridges) during the summers. Also into the winters, after the parents bought a big freezer.

When the Daddy came home from a long day of irrigating vegetable fields, he went straight to the garden to see what needed tending. The Mama went into the garden to harvest vegetables for the evening's meal.  The Daddy was always getting after the Mama for picking the bitter melon leaves from the top rather than the bottom. Guess who tells me not to pick the bitter melon leaves from the top?

The Mama continued growing vegetables after the Daddy died. It was tough, as she was still working. I suppose being in the garden helped her deal with being a widow.

Today, as some of you know, the Mama works a few hours hours nearly every day in her vegetable garden. Along with the Filipino vegetables, the Mama plants green beans, peppers, tomatoes, chives, and Filipino green onions.  Her garden doesn't yield as much as it used to, which is fine with me. There's only so much bitter melon I can eat. The Husband won't eat it and the Mama eats only a bit of it.

Growing vegetables is a fun challenge for the Mama. Her satisfaction comes from seeing other people eat the fruits of her labor.

Click here to find other A to Z challenge participants.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

T is for 60 Pounds of Tripe

"How come you have so much tripe?" I asked the Mama, as I stared at a large clear plastic bag full of white, honey-combed cow stomach lining.

"Your godfather gave it to me," she said.

"That's a lot of tripe. How many pounds is that?


"What are you going to do with all that tripe?"

"Put it in the freezer."

I lugged the heavy bag to the big freezer in the garage. What the heck? On top of other more frozen items was another large clear plastic bag of tripe.

Just as I closed the freezer, Frances, one of the Mama's friends walked up the driveway. The garage door was open. "Hello. Is your mom home?"

"She's in the house. Come inside," I said.

"I need to get something out of the car first," Frances said. "I have something for your mom."

She ran out of the garage. I opened the door and yelled into the house, "Mama! You have a visitor." Then I went to see if Frances needed help.

As I neared her car, I saw Frances pull out a large white item from her trunk. A blanket? No. Oh no!

Frances handed me a large clear plastic bag full of white, honey-combed cow stomach lining. Another twenty pounds!

"Your mama told me that she was hungry for tripe. She wanted me to buy her some, if I saw any. I was lucky. The butcher had tripe today."

"Thank you," I said. "She's going to be very happy to see the tripe."

That happened a few months after the Daddy died, more than 30 years ago. I have no idea what the Mama did with the 60 pounds of tripe.

Click here to find other A to Z challenge participants.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S is for the Mama's Spoon

This is the Mama's spoon, the one with which she cooked for as long as I can remember. And, for those who are new to the blog, I'm in my early 60s and the Mama is 30-some years older than me.

I like cooking with the Mama's spoon. It's smooth, fits in my hand, and has the perfect heft to it. I also like the way the metal spoon sounds against a pot or pan. Most of all, I like cooking with it because it's the Mama's spoon.

When I pick up the Mama's spoon, I think of her using it to stir her bittermelon chicken soup, eggplant-bittermelon stew, tabongow chicken soup, pork adobo, ginger beef, fried rice, scrambled eggs, pancit, and diningding (a soup of all the Filipino vegetables in her garden).

In my mind, I see her making Thanksgiving dinner with that spoon. She sauteed the ingredients for the dressing. She basted the turkey. She mashed the potatoes with the back of the spoon. And, she stirred and stirred the gravy.

She cooked a lot of meals with that one spoon.  Nearly all of which were delicious.

Click here to find other A to Z challenge participants.


My ABC Wednesday theme: The Mama and Her Authentic
Green Thumbs. . .and Fingers
I got this orchid plant as a gift six years ago. Every year it has bloomed again because of the Mama, who took it over from the moment it came into the house. She doesn't feed it any special orchid food.  She just waters it and reminds me not to water it.

Today is ABC Wednesday, a meme began by Mrs. Denise Nesbitt and now headed by Roger Green and his helpers. Click here to read posts around today's letter O. 

If you've come from the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, my S post is over here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R is for Rice

We usually have cooked rice in the refrigerator, ready to be heated as is or made into a fast and easy fried rice dish.

Rice is the one dish that the Mama usually makes. I'd rather cook it because hers comes out too dry. But, I let her prepare the rice because I think it makes her feel that she's contributing to cooking the meals. When I warm up the rice in the microwave, I just add a bit of water. So no big deal.

Twice a year, the Mama sees her eye doctor who always asks,"What's your secret for long life?"

"I eat rice," she tells him. "Eat rice for a long life. You don't get so many wrinkles."

I don't know about that.  But, hey, she is 93 years old.

Click here to find other A to Z challenge participants.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

New in the Mama's Garden

My ABC Wednesday theme: The Mama and Her Authentic
Green Thumbs. . .and Fingers
Those white blossoms may one day produce Asian pears for us. The tree had quite a lot of blossoms this year, but then we had a couple days of rain. The rain was wonderful for us, since we're in a drought, but not so much for the blossoms. So we shall see.

Look in the background and you can see some clusters of buds of the avocado tree. If they all wake and do their thing, we're going to have a huge crop this year.

What else is new in the Mama's garden?

This past week, she planted long beans and some other kinds of beans, which I can't recall. She says that sometime soon she'll plant green beans. Yup. We like our fresh beans.

Seeds that the mama dropped into the soil a few weeks ago have popped up. These are parda plants. I have no idea what the English word is for parda. Not even sure if I'm spelling the Ilocano word correctly. It's a kind of bean that looks like a huge, slightly hair pea. The young ones taste good mixed in with sliced tomatoes and red onions. Yum.

Irises are such unassuming creatures. I've been watering them for weeks, wondering when they were going to start sprouting. Then, Pow! Without noticing them going through their in-between stages, these gals greeted me in full glory. They hang out with the pink rose bush, so I wonder if that may be why their color is slowly turning into soft pastel hues. Or, maybe the Mama planted a mix of white and purple irises.

The Mama's garden is springing right along.

Today is ABC Wednesday, a meme began by Mrs. Denise Nesbitt and now headed by Roger Green and his helpers. Click here to read posts around today's letter N. 

If you've come from the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, my M post is over here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

L is for Sending Her Love Home with Me

Whenever I visited the parents, and then later only the Mama, I was sent home with a care package. Lots of fresh vegetables and fruit from the garden, as well as freezer bags full of cooked rice, lumpia, pork adobo, fried chicken, and bibingka.

Whether I was single or married, living alone or with roommates, food always came home with me. Much of the vegetables and fruits were given away to neighbors and friends. The cooked food went into the freezer and eventually most were eaten by friends, spouse, and myself.

In my 20s, I said to the Mama, "No, no, that's too much." 

In my 30s, I sighed and just accepted the food.

In my 40s, I appreciated everything that she picked in her garden and cooked in her kitchen.

In my 50s, the Husband and I were living with the Mama. If we had not, I'm very sure that when we visited the Mama, she would've given us lots of food to take home.

And, now that I'm in my 60s, I realize that the Mama was sending her love home with me through her food.

Click here to find other A to Z challenge participants.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

J is for Just for Me

Knock, knock.

Someone was at the kitchen door, which was the back door at our house on 44 Shore Road.  The Mama opened the door. I was sitting at the kitchen table, keeping her company as she prepared dinner.

It was Uncle Frank, the Daddy's younger brother. He carried a tree stump in his arms. 

"I cut down a tree in my back yard," said Uncle Frank, putting it down on the floor, next to the kitchen counter. "I thought it was the right size for Susie."

I was four. I don't recall much of what happened other than being helped up on the stump and being able to see over the kitchen sink.

I don't remember much of those very early years. But, I must've been in the kitchen a lot with the Mama. Enough so that Uncle Frank thought I should have something just for me to stand on when I was there.

Click here to find other A to Z challenge participants.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Miracle Tree

My ABC Wednesday theme: The Mama and Her Authentic
Green Thumbs. . .and Fingers
This crazy looking tree is the Miracle Tree. That's not its real name.  The Mama calls it the passion tree, but it's not. I looked it up and the tree doesn't resemble the passion tree from Australia.  Once-upon-a-time I knew the name of this tree.  Doesn't matter if I don't ever know it again. I like calling it the Miracle Tree.

I may have told this story before, so if you heard it, that's okay, you can wander over to another post.

About 25 or so years ago, the First Husband gave the Mama a packet of seeds that he got in the mail from a Native American tribe. He nor I had any idea what kind of plant the seeds were. The Mama, being the Mama,  planted them in the backyard to see what they may become.

It was shortly after the First Husband died that I noticed the tree. "What kind of tree is that?" I asked.

"I don't know," said the Mama.

"Where did you get it?"

"Frank gave me the seeds. He said they came from Indians. I call it a miracle tree," said the Mama. "There were only four seeds in the envelope."

So, the Miracle Tree is what I call it. Every fall, we prune it back, and every spring, its branches start spreading out so that by summer, it's full again, providing shade over the Mama's favorite resting spot.

It's ABC Wednesday, a meme began by Mrs. Denise Nesbitt and headed today by Roger Green and his helpers. Click here to read posts around today's letter M. 

If you've come from the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, my G post is over here.