The Things you find on the dining room Table

Once a year, my mother used to take a week and go away by herself.  Usually on a retreat to a monastry or convent. Though I am sure she would have gone absolutely anywhere that promised peace, quiet and no rowdy children.  Someone else did the cooking and cleaning and she rested her mind and reconnected with herself. What a perfect idea for any mother.

Usually Great Aunty Del came up from Down South and took over the house. I think I told you that one year Mum came home from her wonderful retreat to find that Dad was building a wee row-boat in the downstairs kitchen.  I have no idea where Aunty Del was that time.  It had been a rainy week.  And Dad had been unable to work on his  dinghy and mind the kids at the same time, so he had maneuvered the boat through the big french doors and  into the kitchen and  continued to work on it in there.  It was made from laminated contrasting hardwoods laid strip to strip and glued and clamped and curved at each step.  Then planed and sanded.  Mum came home to a kitchen floor full of pungent coiled ringlet wood-shavings, the table covered in tools so they were out of reach of little fingers and a pile of kids playing in that most wonderful of freshly scraped wood smells, no doubt shrieking like banshees and high on fumes. I cannot even sharpen a pencil now without thinking of that beautiful wee row-boat.

When I was a young Mum in my first marriage, I came home with groceries on another rainy day, in another time, to a motorbike on its stand in the hallway in various stages of dismemberment and an unknown piece of machinery from the motor on the kitchen table.  It was unapologetically greasy, filthy and dismantled,  sitting proudly on the pine kitchen table on a scrap of newspaper, a good once white tea towel black with oil draped over  it.

My mother and I in our seperate generations, in our different period costumes, our clothes twenty years apart, her cotton dress cinched at the waist wearing stockings and court shoes and my flimsy skirt too short with bare legs and sandals, my hair abandoned to curl down my back and hers cut neatly to the nape of her neck, my mother with red lipstick, me in creamy pink, her eyes flashing green, mine pale blue – viewed in a Split Screen on the television of our memories –  both sighed, shook our heads slowly, thought ah well, reached for our aprons on the hook behind the door and said honey, can you get that thing out of here, I need to start dinner then sent the children to wash their hands.

Here is the lovely milking machine sitting on the dining room table. 

Isn’t it beautiful. Not a speck of grease or bad behaviour.

Last night we ate our spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.  Home made pasta made with our own eggs,  spaghetti sauce from our own preserved summer tomatoes and meatballs from our own beef freshly ground yesterday morning, herbs from the window, my home made parmesan, with a wee side of pesto that I made in the summer and stored in a jar in the freezer. Well you get the picture.   We all love food, and you all know the perfect uncomplicated pride of growing, preparing and eating your own food. But we had to eat this most sumptious of gentle feasts with our plates on our laps gazing at the reflections in the milking machine, because it is so lovely and it is on the  dining room table.  And we were not allowed to put food close to it in case of greasy fingers!

Life is so simple really when you get down to it. (laughter)

Another overcast morning is unfolding. No sunrise again.  It rained all day yesterday once the temperature had risen.  Today, between farm chores, we are off in search of more old recycled timber to finish the work in the barn.

Good morning.


110 Comments on “The Things you find on the dining room Table

  1. WOW! This is great job… Good Luck. In here it is snowing today… Thank you dear Cecilia, have a nice day and weekend, with my love, nia

  2. Good Morning Celi. Now you know why my Pete has a garage, otherwise I too what have all strange things in the most inappropriate places inside our home.
    Your milking machine is very smart! I really do wonder how dear Daisy will take to this being milk thing…
    🙂 Mandy

  3. Well, at least it doesn’t look used yet. That would send me through the roof. And to think I yelled at DH for putting a container of ice melt on the kitchen table the other day when it was icy out. Men!

  4. There’s much good to be said about retreating and meditating. For me and other family members, it’s a cabin at the edge of the sugarbush overlooking the farm. Also a good spot for writing.
    Nice little milking machine you have there.

    Farmer’s regards,


  5. You remind me of children who take their favorite Christmas toy to the Christmas Dinner table. 🙂 Love the image of you both dining on homemade pasta with a milking machine as centerpiece. I give your Mum credit for getting away for one week a year. I bet many Mums from that time, mine included, would have done the same if they could. I don’t know how many would be as stoic if they returned to find a boat in the kitchen, though.

    • And it was not a small boat either! The pasta is getting better, still working on getting the dough right though! c

  6. When he was a teenager the storty goes, my grandfather built a rowing dory in the basement, and then discovered, to his dismay, that it was too wide to go out the doorway! His mother allowed him to remove the cinderblocks either side of the door to get it out. (I’m assuming that she also made him fix the doorway after…I can see her in her period clothing, shaking her head just as your mum, and you in that split screen.) Doing some quick math in my head, this would have been over a hundred years ago! He then, the story goes, rowed this same dory from Newburyport MA out to the Isles of Shoals, a row that would have taken him several miles out in the open ocean to a small cluster of islands off the coast of Rye, NH.
    Your milking machine is truly a thing of beauty!
    I can appreciate your good eating. We also have a freezer full of lovely marinara sauces all frozen into dinner-sized portions, as well as jars of jams and jellies, sauces, salsas, you name it. I always feel safer with a full pantry of things I put up myself…

    • I agree Maggie, i love my preserves, in fact i like them so much sometimes i hate to eat them! If that makes any sense.. oh and what a great story, does anyone know WHY he built a boat to row all that way?.. c

  7. Yay! Love that milking machine. My first husband built a sailing boat in our small dining room, and had to take the French window and its frame out to make room for the boat to get out. Before we were married he had built a kayak in his bedroom, with the same house-destroying result. I have been known to decoke the engine of my 1933 Austin 7 in the kitchen of my Mum’s house….

  8. Well..the dining table is a nice wide space at just the right height! I’m looking at my dining room table right now and it isn’t a pretty picture!

  9. great post! this weather is crazy. it was 60 degrees when i woke up at 4:30 and now it is in the low 30’s 4 hours later!

  10. We have a proverb here that, directly translated, goes something like as the sun rises and sets, days turn a daughter into a mother. It is usually applied to remind girls that they grow up too one day…etc, etc. I enjoyed your story, as always.

  11. It sounds like we are having the same kind of weather…snow last night having been washed away by hard rains this morning. I’m glad it is rain as it would be a lot of snow if colder. We are both looking back to earlier times today. Memories are special.

  12. What a beautiful milking machine – never seen one up close and personal! 😉 Love your memories! There are such distinctions between generations – and you beautifully described them! You gave me great mind pictures!

  13. Good Morning C.
    The milking machine looks so cool. Wonder what Daisy will think?

    I currently have what can only be described as a nest of wires and electrical components occupying my dining room table. I don’t know what they’re for and I’ve learned not to ask.

    Have a wonderful day.

  14. every time you talk about your home-made/grown things, it is clear you take so much pride in them. it is contagious. i want to try to become more sustainable, though it will be something of a trick since I live on only 2 acres just outside of suburbia. it makes me miss my country childhood and wish I didn’t have to work full time. Staying home and growing plants/animals would be more fun.

    • Two acres is a great space. But you can only do what you have time for or the rushing negates the fun. i am sure you have a great garden though! c

  15. Oh yeah: so simple to raise beef and can sauce and make your own Parmesan! Sure, we all could do it. Are you kidding? What lovely fruits of your labor.

  16. When my birthday rolls around each year, I always tell my family that all I really want is a day alone. They think it’s weird, but I bet most moms would understand. I love your parallel memories, and the milking machine is a very impressive dinner guest!

  17. It is a very beautiful milkng machine and you properly paid homage to it with such a wonderful home cooked meal. And your mother was a very wise woman!

    • I was not sure if it would be understood, the different time zones, the split screen. thankfully you all got it! phew.. c

  18. At the moment I can’t think of anything cute or witty or interesting to say … except perhaps to say that I’m smiling from ear to ear, and once again you’ve warmed my heart. Have a lovely day on the farmy.

  19. The perfect combination of Reflecting and Reflections.

    I saw with complete and detailed clarity your split-screen movie of you and Mum discovering the handiwork of your mysterious menfolk and, as all wise women do in the face of such surprises, shrugging with artful nonchalance and getting on with things. I am delighted that your mother had the wit and the means to take her annual retreat, which would indeed be a brilliant thing for every mother to do, if able. There is much sanity-restoration possible in a week apart from the routine demands. I suppose, in that sense, anyone of independent age could benefit from the practice, given the resources.

    Meanwhile, there is this new and gleaming, glamorous beauty of an object acting as centerpiece in the dining room, and who *wouldn’t* happily stare at it while eating a truly stupendous, utterly (no pun intended) perfect homemade meal. That’s just about as close to heaven as you can get on this earth, I should think! Daisy’s getting one mighty pretty new present!

  20. Yet another lovely story to go with that lovely shiny table centrepiece!

  21. I think I know what those silver cylinders attach to…sitting here with my legs crossed…tightly! Though it is a pretty piece of machinery. Be gentle with Daisy!

  22. Great story of your Dads boat, no wonder Mum needed time away. Funny, a colleague who lives on a life style block was wondering if you could get ‘domestic’ milking machines for one cow I will have to let him know

  23. Your dining room table houses much more interesting things than mine. Oh wait, that’s right, I don’t have a dining room in my apartment. 😉 Well, then my kitchen table still doesn’t have anything as exciting. That milking machine is seriously incredible!

    • I would love to have a kitchen table, my kitchen is too small, so things work out! It is a lovely machine though.. c

  24. Milk machine and all, I would like to invite you to take part in the “Unplugged” Questionnaire.

    Just copy the questions from my blog and paste them onto yours. Then get creative and honest, and answer the questions. Then invite 5 other bloggers to take the test too.

    Good luck…


    • Thank you Ronnie, i thnk i may have already done the questionaire! i shall check over and have a look! thank you so much for thinking of me though! c

  25. If I came home to row boat building in my kitchen, I would have turned right around and walked out the door!! You know, when you talk about a homemade dinner, your’s is all around homemade from scratch!!!

  26. I remember the thrill of a friend’s dairy farm converting to these marvellous machines. Her family thought for sure they’d have tons of extra minutes in the day. Hah! Farming is farming and nature keeps us occupied.

    One of my friends, a diehard bachelor whose mind ran on ingenuity plus, used to say he would marry again when he found a woman who would allow his motorcycle in the dining room. Well, he didn’t have to worry. The flock of cockatiels that had total freedom in his house caused him to work on his bike outside. “One of them might poo on the leather” he said. With all his intelligence, the irony never sunk in.

  27. Wonderful story of your parents – I can just see it, each scene! The milking machine is glorious. Enjoy it while you can, in its pristine state. And the meal of good things from your land – aah, I’ve had some like that too, and nothing is more satisfying.

  28. How wise your mother was to go on an annual soul and body restoring retreat. And how skinny is your new milking machine; I can understand the wish not go have it marked with greasy fingerprints.

  29. There’s always some leftover tool laying in the kitchen, even if the work it was used for was no where near the kitchen! The kitchen table is a magnet for random stuff, especially to keep away from little hands (unless those hands are attached to a capable body which climbs up on chairs…).

  30. Love the title of this post! And I love the two images juxtaposed: the boat and the motorbike. I think I’d prefer the boat.

    My dining table is my “office”…and holds my mess so I can’t blame anyone else. At least I’m in the center of activity and not hiding away while I write!

  31. The bit about a dismembered motor bike in the kitchen reminded me of a song, probably from the 70’s which had the line in it, in a Brummy accent, if I remember correctly, “Me Mam wouldn’t let me mend it in the kitching, so I had to mend it in the garden.” (I have googled, but can’t find it, so maybe I have mis-remembered? !)

    I find road bike bits sometimes, with oil – or a punctured inner tube, on my kitchen table. But generally Cycloman has to do the cleaning up in the (f)utility. Or the garage 🙂

  32. Good Morning Celi … time for my weekly rounds … but I miss my daily trips around the blogosphere.

    Hey – I would have never known it was a milking machine … If you hadn’t mentioned it, I would have thought it was a high-tech coffee maker.

  33. It is funny how the strangest things land on our kitchen tables. I had a friend once who had a pilot husband who had an entire wing of a plane setting in the kitchen. She used the wing of the plane to lay out and dry her fruits. LOL Take Care, BAM

  34. Wow I cannot imagine if I can make spaghetti made out of all ingredients grown in my backyard. All fresh ingredients would definitely taste much more better.

  35. We simply can’t wait to be eating everything off our land!!! We are still getting an occasional meal of carrots and turnips and also harvesting arugula from out garden. Very exciting!!! About the milking machine, WOW! You’ll have to keep us informed on how it works! We’ll be borrowing a milk goat this spring for milk as we wait for our baby goats to grow up so they can be bred in the fall. I’ll be learning on her! Hope it’s easy!!! xo

    • yes, well i hope it is easy too, trouble is both Daisy and i have never been involved in the milking procedure before.. should be fun! c

  36. Well, this points up to me, though it’s not your intention in this wonderful story, how proprietary I am about ‘my’ kitchen, dagnabbit! 😉

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