Oh Mother...! Photography The Landlady


Little Red Shoes
“Little Red Shoes”
Taken October 20, 2007 with Canon PowerShot A550

The Little Red Shoes sit in my mother’s Etagiere, if I spelled that correctly. Elle? Wanna let me know, Betch?! My mom calls it a “What-Not”. I think it’s because it’s to display all your knick-knacks and what-not in. Anyway, that’s where the Little Red Shoes are, when they’re not in the bathtub, with me and my camera. Bathtubs make great backgrounds for some pictures. Wet bathtubs are not necessarily good for cameras, but mine’s tough.

I love the Little Red Shoes, but I don’t have a story about them. I just couldn’t come up with a pic for this post.

I’m having trouble catching up with all the posts I have in draft. Hence the title – “Mish-Mash” is about what this one will be – just a couple of bits and pieces that I’d like to get out of my hard drive and onto the blog. This clip from today’s post by Cardiogirl reminded me of a bit about my mom when she was a kid, which, in turn, reminded me of one about Ruby’s mom…

clipped from

So essentially we have a socially-accepted version of a wealthy pretty woman (former Ford model who must have earned a lot of cash) whose hobby is traveling the globe and shopping. So she finds “amazing stuff” and brings it back to New York to re-sell it. Do I have that right? I thought so.

And these aren’t your mother’s baubles. A telephone table finished in frog skin. I’m understanding this, though I find it crazy, until I get to the shagreen part. What is shagreen? Is it like shazam?

  blog it

A million years ago, when my mom was a little girl of about 12, she and her sister were down at the nearby fishin’ hole with their cousin. My mom is the older of the three, but for some reason, it was Auntie and Cuz that did the ordering around of my mom. This was the story that made me realize that my mom was a little mouse when she was a kid. How she managed to grow up into a stern (SERIOUSLY stern) School Marm, I will never know. My mom was the teacher you didn’t want to get, because you couldn’t get away with any monkey business, and you might even (OMIGOD!) learn something!

At any rate (as Mom would say), they were down at the fishin’ hole, dib-dabbling around in the water, when the conversation turned to frog legs. As an appetizer. Because that was what the rich people ate. Probably every day, even. Imagine, they told each other, all the rich people in the big cities paying unbelievable amounts of money for a plate of frog legs, when there were hundreds of frog legs attached to hundreds of frogs right in front of them. For free.

And so Auntie and Cuz decided that they wanted frog legs for dinner. My mother didn’t think that was a very good idea. She thought it might be a little hard on the frogs. Auntie and Cuz didn’t give a damn about what the frogs thought of the idea, and they didn’t give much of a damn what my mom thought about it, either. They just sent my mom up to the house to get a knife. And my mom went. Slooooowly.

The whole walk up for a knife, she tried to think of a way to save those frogs. She couldn’t think of a thing. She considered just not going back to the fishin’ hole, but decided she might pay for that later, so instead, when she got to the kitchen she decided she would bring back a dull butter knife. She reasoned that it would hurt the frogs less than a sharp one would. At 12, my mom was all for “less hurt”, apparently.

As it turned out, a dull butter knife does NO hurt to a frog, because it wasn’t long before the other girls gave up trying to saw off frog’s legs and quit in disgust. They didn’t get their frog leg dinner that day, but there were probably a few pissed off frogs in the fishin’ hole before they gave up.

Years later, one of those girls ate frog’s legs in a restaurant – by accident. She saw someone else’s order of what she thought was chicken and just pointed to it, telling the server, “I’ll have that.” Served her right.

Ruby’s mom, now, would have got the legs off those frogs lickety-split. She was a woman who got things done (she also had no forearmsthere’s a story for the blog, huh? Soon. Honest.).

Despite being a woman who “got things done”, Ruby’s mom had a heart of gold, and hated to see any animal suffer. She lived a hard, rough life on a farm, though, and there were times that some animals just had to be “taken care of”. Chickens had to be killed. Pigs had to be slaughtered. Sometimes, you had to shoot your dog. And there were always kittens that couldn’t be kept, and had to be “taken care of”.

Ruby’s mom hated that job, but it had to be done. She believed that the most humane way to “take care of” kittens was to drown them. Most people would shove the kittens in a burlap sack and tie it shut, and pitch the poor buggers in the nearest river. Not Ruby’s mom. That wasn’t humane enough for Ruby’s mom.

No, Ruby’s mom would pull on a pair of heavy gloves, fill a pail full of water and, one by one, she would hold each kitten (gently) under the surface until it was dead. Oh yeah, and she would make sure to fill the pail with warm water, so the little dears wouldn’t die shivering…

Random Song for the Day: “Alive” – Pearl Jam

8 replies on “Mish-Mash”

Ah, finally a good cat story on the Internet. Although, I still think a .22 to the head is more humane (see The Silverbacks for more detail)!

Les Says: Yes, I remember THAT post, Mushy… MEAN! You’re MEAN!
(For the record, I will NOT eat BBQ Cat, when I visit you.)

No ‘i’ in etagere — from

–noun, plural -gères
a stand with a series of open shelves for small objects, bric-a-brac, etc.

Well, you asked. Now, can I get back to reading about Ruby’s mom? Thank you.

Les Says: Thank you, Spelling Elle-Bee, er… Spell Elling-Bee. I’ll have to come up with something. Anyway, I’ll get that 20 bucks to you, ASAP.

(mouth gaping wide open) (hand then slaps over the hole the gaping mouth has created as she reads the last two sentences.)


I don’t know quite what to say.

And you *know* you have intrigued me beyond belief to imagine this woman, ever so gently, takin’ care of business. Minus. Forearms.

You should milk that for the next three months, Les. Readership will go through the roof in anticipation.

Les Says: Picture the slack-jawed expression on MY face upon realizing the sheer volume of heavy, heavy manual labour that woman had to accomplish in one day between raising kids, stoking woodstoves, washing laundry, making meals (and her own bread), gardening, feeding livestock, etc.

And etc.

And etc.

Minus. Forearms.

It will be a good story, won’t it?

I love the frog story Les. I can just imagine two very determined girls trying to cut the legs off frogs with a butter knife. It must have been one heck of a scene. And yes, you should definitely write something about the lady with no forearms.

As to the little red shoes, sounds like an interesting story idea as well. Mind if I take a crack at it ?

Les Says: The frogs vs butter knife sure does bring some hilarious visions to mind, doesn’t it? And yes, the story of Ruby’s mom will be coming up soon.

As far as The Little Red Shoes go – I would be very pleased if you would write a story about them; you can even take the pic to illustrate, if you want it. My mom would almost certainly be interested in reading a story that these heirloom treasures might spark. They came from England on a ship with my great, great grandmother, but beyond that, we don’t know much about them.

Hey Les

I got an idea for the story. It’ll be a couple of days, early next week at the latest, but I’m working on it. Got another idea at the moment too, see my blog for details.

Les Says: Right away, Sir. I’m on lunch right now, so I’ll meet you over there. Grab me a Tim’s on your way, will you? 🙂

Me again

I started writing the story about the little red shoes today. I hope to have it done by tomorrow night (if not, then Monday evening for sure). I’m really stoked about it. 🙂

Les Says: I am, too! I can’t wait to read it. My mom is going to be so impressed to think they were such an inspiration! Thanks, OldGuy!

She could have just made the kittens wear the red shoes and they would have died all on their own of embarrassment, same for the frogs.

Les Says: Ooh! Now, there’s a story!

So now that nearly a year and a half has gone by since the writing of this post – I’m talking to my mom and mention the frog-legs story to her. Whereupon, she tells me that no such thing ever happened. I tell her it did so, I’d heard the story several times!

“Who told you that?!” she demands of me.

“YOU told me that!” sez I.

Yet, she insists it has never happened and I’m either mistaken, or worse, making it up out of whole cloth for blog-fodder. I very nervously (cuz I figure, either *I’M* crazy, or my mom has finally gone brain-addled, and neither option gives me much comfort) begin digging through my years-old journals…

AHA! It DID SO happen! The story was told to me in 1985!

(by my mother-in-law)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *