I’m going to do what I call, ‘telling tales out of school’.
I’m going to dump some oddity in-law stuff on my blog.
I loved my mother in law. She was a GREAT woman, and having put up with my father in law, who was a very nasty difficult man, verbally abusive, for so long, she was aptly nickenamed Saint Lou.
But she was also an enabler and many of the issues I see within their family, I place firmly at her feet as well as she enabled the boorish behavior from her husband as well as her children. My husband and brother in law, both having married strong women, are more considerate of others… let us call it ‘wifely training’. For instance, they would never walk into someone’s home 5 hours late for dinner… as my sisters in law did this past week.
But we won’t go there.
The one characteristic that I used to laugh at, however, was my Mil’s frugality. She was a product of the depression, having been born in 1925. Although my father in law LOVES to proclaim the depression mentality, his own sister declares it utter crap when it comes to them as their father had a damn good job that paid well.
Not so for my mother in law.
She saved everything. Every scrap of paper could be used for making grocery lists or taking notes. Every tablespoon of food was saved in a small glass jar to be eaten later. (And it was.) Every plastic bag from a loaf of bread could be used to store something else. Everything could be used and reused.
Her fridge was FULL of little glass jars with a tablespoon of this or a tablespoon of that… NOTHING was wasted… ever.
She was, in essence, an environmentalist before her time, although it was more to her remembering her past than it was the thought of Earth… but as the years progressed, it was Earth in which she thought along with her ‘waste not want not’ views.
An interesting lady, with a brilliant mind, a mathematician by degree, a teacher by trade, I’d find her studying Chaos Theory so she’d… keep up. We’d have discussions on fractals because… we could.
I loved her dearly. (As I love my sisters in law as well... I'm just a little pissed at them right now.)
So it was the saving thing that cracked me up. I understood it… I do it to some degree… but I understand the limits.
She… had no real limits and this has been passed down to her daughters… from where this current story unfolds.
You don’t argue with her daughters. Having inherited their father’s argumentative controlling disposition, I quietly listen to what they have to say, and then do my own thing later.
For instance, I suddenly became owner of a box full of spices from my father in law’s home. I had my middle son sit down with me as I looked to find the dates on these spices.
Keep in mind, my mother in law has been dead for NINE years. Pop has not cooked since.
Some of the spices were 20 years old. Yet… I know, I was expected to use them. The daughters would be horrified that I would throw out spices, even some that were 15 years old and NEVER opened.
So I accepted them graciously, and when they were gone, dumped the spices and recycled the containers.
Not worth the fight.
Or, take another instance, where one daughter brought to me a container of sesame seeds, probably two cups worth. They sat on my counter as I stared at them, fully aware I was going to dump them first chance.
The other daughter said to me, “Bou, throw those away. They’re brown. I have sesame seeds at home… and THOSE are old.”
“There was no way I was keeping them for three reasons. First, the handwriting on the label is YOUR MOTHER’S. She has been dead NINE YEARS. Second, she dated it and its dated NINETEEN NINETY-FIVE. Third, the bakery in which they were purchased went out of business in 1997. Do you want this container as it has your Mom’s handwriting on it?
Me, “I just thought I’d ask… I’m pitching the whole thing.”
And this all brings me to the story from today.
I decided to cook chicken parmesan. I got out the egg, the Italian breadcrumbs, the flour, cut the chicken, put olive oil in the baking dish (I bake mine, not fry it) and put the chicken together, shoved it in the oven and…
… 15 minutes into it, I started to think.
I walked outside where my husband was working with my second son on a Spanish project. Said I, “Hunhead, those bread crumbs. I didn’t have that many left I don’t think. Did you buy some more?”
Me: So my container is now a mixture of MY breadcrumbs and some from… your father’s home?
Hunhead: *blink* … Yes.
Me: So I’m cooking with breadcrumbs that are probably NINE AND A HALF YEARS OLD?
Hunhead: I guess you are…
Me: Did you know some guy died last year from eating pancakes made from old Bisquick?
Hunhead: Well, I think they smell OK.
Me: Yeah. I bet that Bisquick did too.
We ate it anyway as I’d cooked it.
If we’re dead tomorrow… you know it was Pop’s bread crumbs.
These folks are making me insane…