making the best of it


mother table setting


this picture I saw recently made me think of my mother.

and I realize that so much of what I am now is because of her.


my little mother was my best friend throughout my early life.

I never went through that horrible stage that some teenagers do.

you know . . .

when they ‘just can’t stand to be around their mother!’

perhaps somewhere inside me I somehow knew those years were precious.

I was to lose her to lung cancer when I was 25 years old. we didn’t have long.


my father had died when I was 17 and not yet out of high school.

mother and I had become even closer then.  she needed a friend badly.

one who totally understood her grief.  the marine and she and I were

the three muskateers there for awhile!


I think of things she did.  the way she looked at life.  the spirit she had!



this is not I.  but it’s amazingly enough pretty darned close!


my hair


same long wavy blonde hair.

same china blue eyes . . . from my granddad.


having looked at the pictures of my childhood and trying to find one on line that

matches as closely as I could I found this one.


a nice enough little girl.  yes.

only . . . where this girl I would imagine is a lovely little LADY . . .




my hair


I was an incorrigible TOMBOY!

there was just no hope in my ever being a frou frou lovely little lady like girl . . .

in spite of the angelic waves in my long blonde hair!

many years later it was to turn very dark.  odd how it does that.


I was a happy climber of trees.  early on!

and always  upside down on monkey bars. even riding the merry go round.

remember those?  on every playground?  I don’t even know if they still have


I didn’t just ride around.  I hung upside down on the bar while it went around.

oh!  be still my stomach!  even THINKING about it now makes me shudder!


when I was almost 7 my mother took me into the city to have my hair cut.

and they cut it SHORT.

she told me later that daddy quit talking to her for about a week when she did


he was furious.

her reply to that fury . . . and showing great spirit to talk back to my dad . . .


” YOU don’t have to go through the SCREAMS when it’s being WASHED!  and



it was wavy and tangled very easily.  and I sympathize with her completely!


perhaps that very hair cut was the beginning of my love of simplicity!  LOLOL!


elegant fork


my grandmother (my mother’s mother) was born before queen victoria died.

she had married into a rather wealthy family of old new england money.

only my gram married the very handsome ‘black sheep’ of the family!


he was a rounder.  a gentleman for sure.  but still a rounder.

it took him quite some time . . .  but

he went through his inheritance like it was water.

what remained were some beautiful pieces of antique sterling silver that my

grandmother managed to save.


my little mother was given those same pieces of beautiful family silver for her

own home someday.


the war came and she met daddy and as people did then . . . their lives changed.

after the war they moved from new york to the prairie of oklahoma where the

marine and I were born.


and then proceeded during their married lifetime to move each year to many

different states . . . before he died of a massive heart attack at age 45

in northern minnesota.


in the early years there wasn’t much money.  our possessions were few.

you can’t move every year and move an entire houseful of tons of stuff every


you’d soon go NUTS!  or get a divorce i’m sure!  or . . . well.  you get the picture.

we had the bare essentials of keeping a home.  nothing fancy. only useful.

and yet . . .


my little mother had the most gracious way of blending the old and rustic

with that beautiful antique family silver.   it seemed the best of both worlds.


it was my very first experience with WABI SABI.  even before I knew what

wabi sabi was!

years and years later I would learn of it and it was like coming home again.


I have never known why I love rustic elegance.  I just always have.

I’m not a frilly lace loving woman.

I more enjoy the blend of rusticity with elegant little touches of luxury.

 marred aged wood with sparkling crystal.

antique silver with the simplest white plate.


and now . . .

I see.

it’s my mother!

the  ‘ lighter of corners.’  we’ve talked about that before here on the peanut.

” it’s time to light the corners darling! “

always said on a cloudy rainy day.  dreary to others perhaps. but never to me.

they are my favorite days now!  and it’s because of her.


the simple house wherever we lived would soon glow with pools of golden light.

cozy not a good enough word to describe it.


you washed before dinner.  or breakfast.  or any meal for that matter!

it was always eaten at the table.  a table of simplicity.  even to the food.

there was a little vase there with simple flowers.


the table was set properly.  and you were mindful of your manners.

as a matter of fact . . .  my father was a STICKLER for good manners.

it you chewed with your mouth full or you slurped . . . you LEFT THE TABLE.


a far cry from how everyone eats now!   usually anywhere but a table!

the table is now for holidays only I guess!  most young families eat in front of a

TV in the living room or even in their OWN rooms!   still so odd to me!


some of my happiest memories are of eating at the table as a family.

presided over by a little mother . . . all  99 pounds of her  . . .

who regardless of the always rented place we were in . . .

had the innate ability for

making the best of it.


no matter where we were.  or how bad it might be.  she created beauty.

in simple uncomplicated ways . . .  she had the ability for making the best of it.


for making it always beautiful.

and for making it always home.

so that I still can carry it all in my heart to this very day.


til soon old bean!

til soon.


  1. sounds to me that you are one very lucky girl,, to have inherited all that goodness from a wonderful lady,,. so sad you lost your parents so young but we can’t change the past , whats done is done and you have some amazing memories and of course you can always look in the mirror and see your mum in there,, and your dad,, cause after all they are a part of us and never ever really leave us,,
    love to you sweet lady,,

    • tammy j

      and the truest thing is I was very lucky just to have had them.
      they were wonderful. and that’s such an important start in this world.
      I wish every little child could have it so!
      love and hugs right back to you dearest bean! XOXO♥

  2. Linda Sand

    When we were first married and moving often I packed what I called the first box. It had the necessaries like hand soap and light bulbs but it also had the decorative items that made this new place ours. There’s nothing like hanging YOUR picture and placing Grandma’s candy jar to make a place yours. When I visited my brother and saw Dad’s smoking stand I felt at home–even though I hate that my brother smokes. Yes, even us minimalists keep the keepsakes.

    • tammy j

      you’re right.
      and my mother was a total pro at the packing for instant home!
      the box that didn’t go ‘on the truck’ but with us…
      carried fresh sheets and towels and washcloths… and things for the first meal!
      always a big pot of beans and cornbread. it was a tradition!
      and freshly clean pajamas for us kids. and a few clothes changes in case the truck was late.
      it broke down once and I had to start school in ONE dress! I wore that same dress for over a week!
      only being washed on the weekend.
      i’m sure the kids felt sorry for ‘that poor new girl with only one dress to her name!’ LOL!
      ever after that she packed a few clothes in our ‘car box.’
      my mother made it FUN.

  3. Good grief! If anyone in my family even dared suggest they eat dinner in their room there would be hell to pay! I’m a stickler for table manners too. I must confess a few of my friends eat with their elbows on the table, and one even picks her teeth. I’ve been tempted to say something, but I don’t want to hurt her feelings. In every other way she has class and good manners. Somehow she missed the memo…


    • tammy j

      picking her teeth at the table??? !!! ewwww!
      maybe you could post an anonymous memo. LOL!
      I dated a guy once that lolled his food around in his open mouth as he ate it.
      and ONCE is the key word in that sentence. 🙂
      can’t wait for you to return home and share wonderful pictures! be SAFE! XOXO♥

  4. Evening Tammy….
    Whenever I need a comforting story…
    I know where to go…
    We ALWAYS eat at the table…no exceptions…
    I did not move as much, but I remember my Dad was a real estate lover…we were lucky enough to always have a Summer home…started out small…finished up Grand!
    Oh well…memories locked inside…forever…
    Enjoy your week my friend…lovely post ♥️
    Linda :o)

    • tammy j

      thank you dear bean.
      and that’s probably one of the best things I like about you…
      your sense of family. and the meals at the table.
      and now beautiful little V learning how it’s done!

  5. My heart puddled at my feet reading this post, Tam. I’ve told you before that I believe you do your very best writing about your mother. She does permeate The Peanut because there is so much of her in you, even if you were a tomboy. (I hung upside down from the monkey bars too. Remember “skinning the cat”?)

    Maybe a little of that maternal grandfather was left to you, too…enough to give you the spunk I love. You have to admit he would make a great Hollywood movie.

    I was raised to eat together at the table too, and everyone I knew was. Except for Saturday night burgers either cooked and eaten outside at the picnic table, or in winter cooked over wood coals in the den fireplace when we were allowed to eat all watching Bonanza, but even that was a beloved tradition. I have to admit that now on Sunday nights I take my plate to “my” television to watch my PBS lineup.

    I love your little “light the corners” mum!

    • tammy j

      this is a post in itself! your comment dsm!’I LOVE IT.
      and I have to laugh.
      I eat in my living room. or at this computer! LOLOL!
      I don’t even OWN a dining table now!
      but the memories are wonderful… just as yours are.
      aren’t we lucky we grew up in that era! XOXOXO♥

    • tammy j

      I love your life as an artist now cathy.
      and if you should ever share more of the younger cathy days that would be delightful too I’m sure!

  6. Lucky you, it sounds like you had a wonderful mum who taught you many good habits and good ways of looking at life. I love it that you were a tomboy and not an angelic little girl. Angelic little girls are usually little monsters in secret anyway!

    • tammy j

      LOLOL!!!! they CAN be nick! they can be.
      and with little tomboys … what you see is what you get. nothing coy there!
      odd to think this tomboy became a ballerina for years on end!
      so there is a mix there for sure. still I love the discipline that ballet is.
      though the tomboy is still there too. the only bone I’ve ever broken was when
      I first retired 10 years ago and I was CLIMBING! LOLOL!

  7. Your relationship with your mother seems to have been as sound and close as mine was with mine. Like you, I too cherish some things that we inherited from my mother though we don’t actually get to use them very much – mostly vessels.

    Your story about your haircut reminds me of mine too where thanks to the regimen of the National Cadet Corps Naval Wing in which I was a member in school, I had to get a “crew” cut which is what eventually made me permanently opt for short hair.

    Just so many parallel developments! Amazing.

  8. “It’s time to light the corners…”

    A perfect saying….

    Lovely and loving tribute to your Mother.


  9. Your posts always make me think about my own upbringing.
    I wasn’t a tomboy but I wasn’t a girly girl either.
    I preferred dogs and pretend cats and horses to dolls.
    I was always getting dirty and I got a pixie cut once, for the same reason.
    We ALWAYS ate dinner at the dinner table.
    In the summer, we would come in and sit on folded towels because our swimsuits that we had on were still damp, but we sat at the table.
    Even now, if you go to my sister’s home, they all sit at the dining room table.
    Since I live alone, I don’t. I’m in front of the TV or many times just standing up! LOL!

    It’s nice that you are like you are because of your mom. I would imagine that some people might have gone the other way and started to collect and hold onto things because they had lived a nomadic life like you had and wanted more things to ground them.
    Funny how our upbringing can alter our lives.
    After my mom passed, my Dad believed in just the basics and everything in it’s place.
    But with my Mom, oh it was so different.
    She painted the living room pink. She dried the bones of the Thanksgiving turkey and then spray painted it white and made it into a Christmas sleigh and filled it with little elves.
    She let me have whatever animals I wanted.
    There was even promise of a horse someday!
    We lived in a Mid-Century brick home and she had my Dad paint the siding part of it and the trim – Turquoise!
    The neighbors rallied together and offered to buy more paint if they would repaint it.
    Just so many things are popping into my head!
    I’ll stop now but, OMG….
    I’m starting to understand why I’m me.

    • tammy j

      OMG is right!
      YOU are your mom! the color. the joy. the animals. the creativity.
      i’m SO GLAD you shared that here!!!
      I know you even better now! XOXOXO♥
      and I never could have a dog when we moved so much. rentals were hard enough to find.
      BUT I had stuffed animals! instead of dolls. I wasn’t a doll person.
      but oh I can see EVERY SINGLE little stuffed animal I ever had!
      as soon as I could I had a real dog from then on.
      and… you didn’t need to stop. I could have read about your life with your mom much more! ♥♥♥

  10. Thank you for this beautiful post, Tammy that brought back so many memories of my own Mom. She loved to cook and bake and there was always the smell of fresh baked cookies as I came up the drive after school. All 9 of us gathered around the table every night and though there was lots of laughter, we didn’t forget our manners.
    Forever will I think of “light up the corners” every time it rains. That’s a beautiful memory and I’m so glad you shared this with us today. xo

    • tammy j

      and I’M so glad to have your lovely voice here sharing you own special memories.
      it means a lot. thank you for coming by! xoxo♥
      and mothers who baked were just the best! mine did too. 🙂

  11. Tammy!! I just found you again! Your posts have stopped showing up in my feed since your blog is back up. I have a lot of catching up to do my friend. This post is lovely. I enjoyed reading about your mom and family history. I also giggled at your pixie story. My sisters took me to get a pixie at the age of 5. They are much older than I and were sick of the screaming and tangles too!! 🙂

    • tammy j

      oh gosh! i was hoping there was a good reason you’d stopped coming by!
      i’m so glad to see you here!
      i’m afraid you’ll have to RE-subscribe.
      he had to clear literally everything out to get rid of the damage the hacker did.
      that’s why you didn’t get notice of any new posts.
      i put it in the first blog post back… but then people didn’t even KNOW i’d posted THAT!
      what a nightmare it was!!! XOXO♥

  12. What a wonderful woman and a great tribute. I laughed about the long tangled hair. I still remember my grandmother saying, “Get the comb and brush and I’ll comb and brush your hair.” 🙂

    • tammy j

      of course i don’t remember the tears and the screams! LOLOL.
      i have pictures they took of the back of it. all those long blonde tresses!
      good grief! LOLOL! and what a sense of FREEDOM when it was CUT! 🙂

  13. I’ve read this twice now, Tammy, and the only thing I can find to say is how incredibly incredibly beautiful it all is.
    From the pictures to the mental pictures you create.
    I am so happy for you that you had these experiences.
    In my own case, I also am who I am because of my mother. I left home at seventeen and never looked back. In my case though, it was my dad who suppported me in everything I did, and was strong, with strong moral values, cared about me, was always there.

    • tammy j

      thank you. and thank you for sharing too!
      it’s a wonderful community we have here.
      i hold people here so dear. it adds daily to my life.
      my dad’s story might strike a chord with you too.
      such strong men in our lives.
      in the side bar archives it’s ‘the good ones … jim reed’
      mother’s is there too. ‘the good ones… a letter to rena’
      it always just makes me smile when you come by here!
      like a celebrity visiting or something! LOLOL. it’s true! 🙂

  14. I loved getting to know a little more about your younger life and your mom – great post and if it had been a book i would have read it until the end. Fascinating the way you can tell a tale and leaving one wanting to read more. That’s a gift for sure.

    • tammy j

      oh sandy. thank you!
      SHE was the gift.
      if you truly would like to know more about her
      she’s in my archives on the sidebar . . .
      ‘the good ones … a letter to rena’
      no pressure to ever read more however!
      she was just unusual and wonderful.
      (as all mothers are to us!)

        • tammy j

          NEVER feel pressured! you have a LIFE away from the computer!!!
          but if you do want to and still can’t find it…
          the old posts are all in alphabetical order. she’s under ‘the good ones… a letter to rena’
          I started a small series once on people important to me.
          thus the title… the good ones.
          I picture you instead… walking in that glorious part of the world you’re in! XOXO♥

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