Gloves hold the hands of time

A pair of ladies’ fashion gloves rest at the bottom of a dresser drawer. I see them at least twice a year when I rotate cold-weather and warm-weather clothes.

The gloves are old and worn, a testament to age. They’re also soft to the touch and golden brown, like a newborn fawn. A sporty topstitch runs halfway down the back of the glove and around the top with the scalloped edge.

They belonged to my grandmother.

A cousin said she had found a stash of Grandma’s gloves and asked if I would like a pair. When the package arrived, I peeked inside and pulled the gloves out of the plastic sleeve in which they originally came from the department store. They looked as though they had been carefully put away. For next time.

They’re small, but my grandma was small. Small but sturdy—it runs in the family. At least among the females. The men are big and broad and the women are . . . well, let’s just say long, lean and leggy was not in our DNA.

She was a woman who needed sturdy hands and arms for kneading bread dough, butchering chickens and scrubbing wood floors. Delicacy wasn’t all that useful on a farm, not for tending nine children, firing up a wood cookstove or feeding a hungry threshing crew of 20 dirty men fresh from the field, gathered around long makeshift tables outdoors under the locust trees.

The hands that slid into those gloves had tended the sick, weeded gardens and washed countless dirty dishes in soapy water.

There was a time when ladies of every social and economic class wore gloves when they went out.  Gloves were part of the dress code of the day. They’re everywhere in our old black and white photos—gloves along with hats and pocketbooks, boxy purses with fierce clasps that would pinch any child’s fingers should they be messing where they didn’t belong.

These gloves put a lovely cover on the hands that fed hobos who rode the rails, wandered through the countryside during the Depression, and occasionally appeared at her kitchen door. They were the same hands that bid farewell to two sons going off to war and held the flag presented in honor of the one who didn’t make it home.

She was small but mighty. The story goes that she chased away a young man whom she considered an unsuitable suitor for one of her daughters with nothing but her bare hands and a broom. He later became a son-in-law.

I remember being a small girl and seeing those hands grip the steering wheel of an automobile so huge she could barely see over the dashboard.

And could those hands fly on a piano. They raced up and down the keys faster than the speed of sight. She could play any song she heard, from hymns to polkas to ragtime. Name your key.

She had music in her. And love and grit.

The gloves aren’t worth much in and of themselves, but they’re a lovely touch of the past.

New Mom Jeans still lack essentials

Just when you thought the world couldn’t get any crazier, Mom Jeans make a comeback.

Mom Jeans were a staple of the ‘80s—cinched at a high waistline, generous in the thighs, a broad backside and lots of pleats and tucks on the tummy for room to expand.

Think Debra from the early years of “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

Think Humpty Dumpty finding relaxed fit at the Gap.

Mom Jeans said, “If you want the breadsticks with cheese, go ahead and get the breadsticks with cheese!”

Mom Jeans were old-school denim that predated Spandex. They had absolutely no give. Bending over in all-cotton heavy denim that cut deep at the waist rendered many a woman unconscious.

Mom Jeans were a friend to no one, but they provided ample coverage— like an ill-fitting tarp.

Eventually, Mom Jeans were mocked, ridiculed, shamed and replaced by a new denim with stretch and a new design. Meet the skinny jean.

Skinny jeans brought with them an entirely different silhouette – women who looked like praying mantises—stick legs protruding from long flowing shirts and roomy tunics.

The youth culture propelled the skinny jeans to a long stretch (pun intended) of popularity. And now the youth have turned on their own. All the cool, hip stores courting teens and early 20-somethings are touting Mom Jeans.


American Eagle touts Mom Jeans claiming, “She’s never been more right about anything than she was about this fit.” One can only assume the copywriter was not alive during the ‘80s. But it’s always good to get credit for something.

Many of the new Mom Jeans are shredded at the knees. One retailer describes it as, “The beauty is in the breakdown: Destruction at the knees.”

They got it wrong. There’s never beauty in the breakdown of a mom in jeans. And the destruction is not in the knees, it’s in the wee hours of the morning, when the baby won’t sleep. Destruction is in front of the washing machine when you’re putting in a load of sheets somebody puked on, or in the grocery unable to focus because three kids are hanging onto or out of your cart.

The AE model wearing the Mom Jeans looks amazing. The caption says she’s 5’10” (more like 6’ 6” in the stilettos), has a 24” waist and wears a size 2 X-Long. If this woman has borne children, she’s a walking miracle.

Trendsetters call them Mom Jeans, but there has never really, truly been a Mom Jean. Authentic Mom Jeans would come with carabineers strapped to the belt loops—one for holding anti-bacterial hand gel and another for pacifiers. They’d have two generous back pockets, one for a cell phone and one for a wallet. They’d also have Velcro tabs on each side, one to hold a small packet of wipes and diapers and the other for Goldfish and Cheerios.

True Mom Jeans would make women look like human diaper bags.

There’s not a designer alive who would want to have credit for that line of jeans and not a young person alive who’d want to be caught dead in a pair.






Kids’ twisted vocab leaves us spellbound

We are constantly learning new things at our house. Of course, none of this enlightenment is the result of our own resourcefulness, but courtesy of the little people around us.

The husband got a call from one of the grands last week in which a squeaky voice said, “Mommy wants to trim the bushes. She said to tell you to bring the head trimmers when you come.”

Ouch. Seems like the hedge-trimmers would be less painful.

That same grand also reported being outside and seeing a gardening snake.

We’ve also been learning new things about anatomy.

One of the little ones had terrible stomach pains, so her mother took her to the emergency room suspecting her appendix. I saw her after she had been thoroughly checked out and asked how she was. “Fine!” she said, beaming. “And I still have my independix!”

We are also learning wonderful ways to ramp up superlatives.

One of the little ones had a cold for a few days and on the third day, when asked if she felt better, she said, “No. I feel worser.”

Maybe the dictionary people will add that to their list of words.

When the entire mob was last here and everybody was helping clean up, putting things away and turning furniture upright before leaving, a little voice yelled, “Grandma, where do you want me to put this dirty worm?”

He said it with sincerity—as though I probably had a special place in the house picked out for the worm he had been rolling in sand.

Sometimes it’s not what they say, but the way they think that is intriguing.

To a kid who asked for a second cookie: “You already have one cookie you’re eating. Why do you need another?”

“I want to be ready for when this one is gone.”

The kid will do well in business.

When we kept a couple of the grands for a few days, their mother told them that Grandma was going to be busy, but Grandpa would help them with their school lessons.

One of the kids looked Grandpa up and down, then said, “How do we know he knows anything?”

It has been a long time since he has been in school, but he does remember a thing or two.

They are also free with the commentary. A two-year-old watched her daddy get up from the dinner table, walk to the stove and help himself to a second serving. When he came back to the table and sat down, she looked at him and announced, “Da-da hoooooong-ry!”

They’re also creative when it comes to lending assistance, even if the assistance isn’t exactly on a professional level.

When the husband had a problem with his cornea, our daughter told her twins it was hard for Grandpa to open one eye.

First twin: “So he looks like a pirate?”

Second twin: “I’ll bring my doctor kit!”

Not the kind of health care he was hoping for, but it can always be worser.

Take cover – the zucchini are coming!

It is Zucchini Season once again, that delightful window of summer when zucchini are so abundant that people aggressively push them on family, friends and total strangers. Why, I’ve seen people standing on street corners randomly throwing them to passersby.

Yesterday a neighbor texted that she was sending her husband down with some zucchini. Her exact text was “whether you want them or not.” It read more like a threat than an offer.

Zucchini is to the garden what clothes hangers are to the laundry room—you close the door, darkness falls and they multiply like crazy.

Nobody ever asks, “How are your zucchini doing this year?” Zucchini are always doing well—their numbers are always up. Zucchini is the vegetable that keeps on giving. And giving. And giving.

I have often thought of the Old Testament passage describing Jews wandering in the wilderness living off of something called manna that they collected each morning before sunrise. I have concluded manna was probably a lot like zucchini. If not actual zucchini.

Zucchini is not only prolific, it is downright odd. Is there any other food on the face of this planet that people work harder at disguising? Zucchini bread, zucchini pasta, zucchini parmesan. The zucchini is in there somewhere, but you’re going to have to hunt to find it.

A friend had some ladies over one afternoon and served a lovely homemade pie. She asked us to guess what it was.

“Sugar pie?” someone said.

“Custard pie?” another asked.

“Zucchini pie!” she exclaimed. “You’d never know, would you?”

See what I mean? And they always say it with a “gotcha!” sort of attitude, like “hey, you really walked into that one.” I don’t know. I find that unsettling—and I always hope those people never get their hands on arsenic.

Listen, I’m certainly not one to cast the first zucchini.

I made latkes last night and waited until everybody had some to make my announcement.

“They have zucchini in them! You’d never know it, would you?”

They wouldn’t ever know it because they were basically potato latkes with hidden zucchini.

The point is, you cook zucchini with the intention of disguising it. Even people who eat it straight up first sauté it in oil, season it and sprinkle it with cheese.

Lest it sound like I am complaining, let me say that zucchini is very versatile. We’ve even used it to teach math.

If you have a dozen zucchini and your neighbor asks for one, how many do you have left?

None. You unload all the zucchini you can whenever you get a chance.