Family Stories

I guess I must have been around 7 when I did my first scientific experiment.  I collected some sticks (difficult to do in Canton China’s concrete hospital compound), filled a bathroom basin with water, and dropped them into it.  They floated.  My brother told me that wood floats on water, but I had to see for myself.  Because he also told me that when I put a steel needle in our record player and cranked it up, there were little men inside the box that actually performed Beethoven’s 7th  Symphony.

My father told my sister that if she ate her toast crusts, it would make her hair blonde and curly.

Husband John’s Dad told his daughter, out walking, that if she made a noise like a piece of cheese, she could see a snake come out from under a rock.

Later, when our daughter asked her father why he was bald, he explained that when he was a little boy, he was so good that people kept patting him on his head. This prevented his hair from growing.

My mother, when a child, would sit on her father’s lap on the porch during the summer’s horrific rainstorms.  When skies thundered, her father would say, “just listen to the angels rolling the pianos around Heaven!”  We grew up unafraid of thunderstorms. 

And then there’s John’s story (true, of course) about family ducks imbibing heavily on some discarded beer, getting drunk, taken as dead, an aunt plucked them and put them in the cellar.  When they recovered consciousness, featherless, the aunt knit them little woolly sweaters to keep them warm until their feathers grew back. 

Words and phrases, picked up from our children when first learning to talk, or from daily living, get woven into day-to-day speech: “it’s not hers, it’s mines”; “she went of her own accordion”; “birzania” for lasagne;   “lah” (corrupted Chinese) to differentiate between the spicy and the temperature-hot foods; carrots help you see in the dark…..

….and, our family has said “krapyrubsnif” so frequently that I now have to think carefully to remember it back to front:  Finsbury Park. 

Stories told and re-told, words used and re-used in a family, are vital to strengthening its ties.   They create a secret family language.  Each story, each word has layers of meaning that weave around us, unknown to others, holding us together as a special entity.  Those of us growing up in a secure family, where chat flows freely, are bonded to each other.  It is a blessing to remember, and to cherish.

“Language is a dwelling place of ideas that do not exist anywhere else, a prism through which to see the world.”  [Braiding Sweetgrass, page 258.  ISBN 978-0-141-99195-5]. 

A light simple meal

Here is a meal that you can play around with to please your own fancies. Use the amounts that suit you the best.

Ingredients: pasta, salmon, prawns (shrimp), fresh dill, fresh tomatoes, fresh spinach, the zest of lemon, and olive oil. Also (not pictured) a gentle onion flavour, like shallot or spring onion, maybe even a leek?

Cook the salmon, or buy it already cooked. I fried it (covered) in a little olive oil for only a few minutes. Remove. Boil the pasta and keep hot. Fry the chopped onion in the same oil as the salmon, gently, so as not to brown it. Add the shrimp. Chop the tomato and stir in briefly. Now add the hot drained pasta, and mix well. Then the flaked salmon. Add the spinach, and stir only to wilt a bit. Then sprinkle on chopped dill and grated lemon zest. Mix well and eat immediately.

Note: I was going to use a chopped preserved lemon to the mixture (see the little round things in the picture) but the taste was too strong and overpowered the salmon flavour. The zest of lemon was far more gentle, but I wouldn’t use the juice as it, too, would be too strong.

To make it more hearty, you may want to add grated cheese, but once again, I’d use a mild form, not Parmesan.

Whew! It’s one of those recipes that take longer to write than to prepare! Add your thoughts and concoctions in the “Comments” section, so that others can learn from your experiences.


  1. What a refreshing report to send us all! Really enjoyed the Orchestra inside the gramophone, I can almost imagine it.

    Have had a very busy Summer at the Fishermen’s Museum in Folkestone and hope to send you some details about it, including the Folkestone Trawler Race and other exciting features.


      1. Dear Judy,
        Sad news! Have just heard from Maggie that Ken Westwood has just died. Have not heard from them for some time so was not aware of this. A really lovely man, and am very sorry about this. Awaiting the Funeral Service for Wendy Davies who ran the Shefford Teashop and want to go back to Shefford for this

        Will tell you more about our Museum fairly soon, and we are hoping to get the Mural of Samuel Plimsoll erected on our back wall soon for everyone to see. It has cost £3,000 so we hope it will be admired and appreciated, but not interfered with in any way.

        Yours sincerely,
        Frank Bond


    1. Thanks, Christine. Glad you liked it. Thoughts of Mom keep weaving in and out as I do my writing….mostly about how much more successful she was. But then I’m jealous of St Paul, too, because he has so many books in the Bible. When one starts to compare, that’s when negativity sets in…..not about Mom, though!


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