Good Morning Everyone,

I was just grinding my coffee beans with a mortar in a wooden bowl. Not because I was trying to keep it green or go back to the old days – I blew out the motor in my electric grinder!  And I starting thinking about all of the things my parents and their parents had to do by hand without the help of the many gadgets we now have to “make life easier.”

My mom’s parents were from Poland and had an arranged marriage. Story goes that my grandmother fell in love with a German soldier, so her parents very quickly found a good Polish boy and arranged her marriage to him. He came to the United States via a ship, and then she was “sent for” sometime later after he bought a home and got a job in a factory.  My mother was the last of 10 children.

I don’t know the story from my dad’s side as well as I know it from mom’s. His parents were born here in the United States but their parents were from Germany. My dad’s mom waited until the ripe old age of 25, I think, before she married. That was pretty late for a woman to get married back in those days. She always worked, too – “outside of the house,” and my dad was their only child. She was very into fashion, and worked in the intimate apparel department of Gimbels (for those of you old enough to remember Gimbels). I never met my grandfather on my dad’s side. But I overheard a conversation once, in very hushed tones, that he had taken his own life by walking in front of a train. My father was in the Navy at the time.  My grandma remarried.

My parents both grew up speaking the language of their parents as well as English. In “those days” (I’m having fun using the quotes!) the folks who came over wanted their children to be “American” and speak English and fully assimilate into the ways of the new country they chose to come to. My grandparents never really learned English all that well but were very proud that their children did. I loved hearing my mom and our neighbor, Clemintine (Clemmy), speaking together in Polish. They would sit at our kitchen table, smoke cigarettes and drink coffee and converse in Polish. I never heard my dad or grandmother speak German.

I took a detour from the coffee grinding to a bit of my family history. I hope you don’t mind.  Things that make our lives easier also have the possibility of taking us a little too far away from the organic aspect of living and caring for ourselves and others, in my opinion at least.

My grandparents all had vegetable gardens, no matter how small their yards were, and each of them had at least one fruit tree in the yard. It took them time to cultivate the garden and prepare meals from it. It also took time and planning to make sure they would have vegetables for the winter, so they canned. The neighbors had vegetable gardens too, and conversations started up with each other while they were out in the yard.  

I’m sort of jumping around here as memories pop into my head. I remember dinnertime growing up – we kids didn’t have the option of not sitting down to dinner with the family. The schedule revolved around dinnertime. We all were expected to be there AND no one called during dinner hours unless it was an emergency! Now, with modern conveniences, we can buy everything our parents prepared for us all set to be heated up in the oven, or even quicker in the microwave. I remember the first McDonalds that set up shop close to us. My mom and dad hardly ever let us eat there! “I can make you a hamburger that tastes better than theirs AND it’s cheaper!” was a regular come back from my mom when we begged her to let us go.

I’m enjoying writing these memories. I hope it’s not totally self-indulgent and you are enjoying it as well. I had planned to go into some of the modern machines we now have to make things easier for us, but on second thought decided to leave that open to you if it’s of interest. It’s interesting to me to contemplate the balance of this modern age where so much is available to make our manual labor tasks easier and give us more “free time.” Do we have more free – time and if so, what are we spending it doing?  Are we better at creating community than our parents and great grandparents were because of all our knowledge and expertise at creating gadgets? How much more do we need to be happy? Maybe the self-driving cars will do it, then we can text our Facebook friends and catch up on what they are spending their free time doing.  😉

Thanks for listening,





8 thoughts on “Memories

  1. Hi : I am attempting to get registered for the Oct 7 the Retreat Dat with no apparent luck. Could y give me their phone number? Could not find it under their registration info. Thank you

    • Hi Palden, I sent you an email a number of days ago apologizing for missing your call and attempted visit! Did you receive it? Registration should be all set to go on the website; sometimes people have difficulty registering if they are trying it from their phone. Thank you, Sue

  2. Enjoyed your blog. There is something wonderful about the pause, when something we use or take for granted is no longer there. How we can use that pause to foster appreciation and gratitude… I use my extra time not grinding my coffee beans to read your blog 🙂

    • Thanks Theresa! A friend just donated another coffee grinder; let’s see what other appliance goes so I can further my appreciation for this journey of life 🙂

  3. Hi Sue… Yep, your heartfelt reminiscing sent me back to vividly recall some fond memories of my own, of gardens and canning and nightly family dinners, and the kitchen table as the confab center of the house (ones I hadn’t felt in many years)… Nice, Thanks.

    • Your article took me back also. My mom was Polish and her relatives were regularly in her kitchen drinking coffee. I miss how much community there was in the past. It was simpler in many ways. I often wonder what we’d do if the power went out for a long time.
      Maybe we’d get to know our neighbors. We are moving this weekend and have already met more in the new place. Thanks for the wake up article. I just might invite some over for tea:)

      • Hey Marne 🙂 I miss the community feel of those days too-I remember my mom inviting the “meter man” and the mail man in for a cup of coffee…they usually had the time to accept; not something folks have the option to do anymore 🙁 Did you and Bob invite any neighbors over yet?


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