Saturday, February 9, 2013




ROSEMARY HARRIS: I cannot tell a lie, I saw this heading on another blog. The content is not the same (and we all know you can't copyright a title) but props to Jenny From The Blog for giving me the idea.
Not having kids, this isn't about repeating mom phrases like - "You'll shoot your eye out" or "your face will freeze like that." In our home the most popular one had to do with the Brooklyn Bridge. But I can remember looking around our Brooklyn apartment and thinking "why does she need all this STUFF??"
Lo and behold, I find myself collecting lots of the same stuff my mother collected. China. Linens. More vases, gloves and scarves than anyone really needs.
I bake the same holiday treats - struffoli - that she did.
And I have an embarassing fondness for things with my name on them "It's a pot with the word Rosemary on it...I should buy it!" Somewhere Mom is smiling and saying "I told you so."
So Reds - we know all of our mothers were wonderful, this is not about work ethic, joie de vivre or smarts - have you picked up any goofy, silly, surprising habits or traits from your mothers?

HALLIE EPHRON: My mother loved words -- she'd recite poetry after dinner (Edward Arlington Robinson "Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn..." and Vachel Lindsay "Then I saw the Congo, creeping through the black..." and Edna Millay "My candle burns at both ends, it will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends - it gives a lovely light...). Words were dessert.
She was also bossy and opinionated and loved food (sound familiar?) She didn't cook, clean, or collect, and she hated to shop unless it was at a used bookstore. She had a dark side, too, all which I write about in a piece called "Growing Up Ephron" that's runs in the March issue of "O" Magazine -- on the shelf 2/12!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: And a fabulous piece it is, Hallie!
My mom--stylish, artistic, opinionated. No cleaning, no cooking--well, when we were kids, I guess, but not later. Hmmm. She had SO MANY CLOTHES. Hmmm. And oh, she would sing snippets of songs when she heard part of the lyrics. "Why look so awfully gloomy?.." Now, sadly, I do, too. 

She was incredibly critical. I mean--incredibly.
HANK (a few years ago) Mom! I won another Emmy!
MOM (pauses) Oh, honey, do you still care about that stuff?
I'm pretty critical, too...but I try to keep quiet about it.
But she used to talk to the checkout people at the grocery, which embarrassed the heck out of me. Now I do it, too. And she'd just comment to strangers who are shopping--"oh, that looks terrific." I DIED when she did it. Now, I do too--and can't believe someone wouldn't be fascinated by my opinion.
Here's her wedding photo, circa 1948.
Am I my mother? Oh, yes, indeedy. Sometimes I look in the mirror and flinch in surprise.

RHYS BOWEN: Hank, did we have the same mother? Mine was a school principal and tough and unsympathetic.
Me: I didn't get that part in the school play that I wanted.
Mother: What a stupid thing to care about. As if a play matters.
It did to me...
So I made a supreme effort always to be supportive to my kids when it came to making teams, being asked to dances etc because they did matter.
So I would have thought that I was nothing like my mom. And yet... yikes, I'm starting to look like her. And she loved to shop and had hundreds of purses and I'm starting to gravitate to the purses in Macy's.
Strangely enough when she retired and got old we became great friends and laughed at the same things. And she talked to her dog in baby talk, something she never did to me. And I find myself using exactly the same words to talk to my daughter's dog.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: My mom was a fusser and a "fixer." Always worrying about everyone's diets and health. I say "was" because although she will be 92 on Monday, the 11th, she's suffered from Alzheimer's for a good few years now. So every time I worry that my daughter is too thin or that my hubby eats too much junk food when I'm out of town, I pinch myself. Stop that!
And oh, the lists! She wrote everything down, notes and lists constantly on every scrap of paper. Now, of course, I understand why. And I'm doing it, too. My to-do list, my grocery list... I can't function without them. Very scary.
The photo is from Thanksgiving, 2010, when she was a little more alert than she is now. The three generations; mother, daughter, granddaughter.

LUCY BURDETTE: My mother has been gone longer than I knew her--that's kind of weird. She had four of us kids and a job teaching grade school. So when she got home, she'd retreat to her bedroom with a snack and a book to get some space. I definitely got the "need for space" gene too. And there's no better place to get it than bed.
She was absolutely pet mad and every one of us kids picked that trait up too. Like her, we haul our pets around the country because we can't bear to be without them. Of course Tonka comes to Key West, but now the cat has been added to the travel team, much to John's dismay.
I may have already told you this, but her famous sex education talk with me went like this: "Some day you'll feel about a man the way you do about the cat."
John is still waiting.
By the way, Hayley Snow's mother is named Janet, just like mine.
ROSEMARY: Sex education...that's a whole other blog post! On that note...


  1. Congratulations to you, Hank and Rhys, on your Agatha nominations!

    On “turning into my mother” . . . like my mother, I read incessantly; I collect things; I enjoy cooking; I am fiercely loyal to my family . . . . Perhaps one of the truths of this world is that we become what we know so well . . . .

  2. Ah, such sweet stories.

    Just lost my mom last April. For sure I look more like her every day, and unfortunately I'm talking jowls, not elegance. But she was also my mystery-novel introduction, my baking, sewing, and camping teacher, and my model for teaching my kids to be self-sufficient at an early age. She bent over backwards to make sure others were comfortable and well fed and was only mildly critical to her rowdiest daughter. was blessed.

    Any yes, congrats to Hank and Rhys!

  3. Congratulations on your nominations ladies.
    No one but my mother could do anything right. I hope I am not her, but when I see a car cutting over the yellow lines and coming at me I do criticize!

  4. Gram - drivers who cut across solid lines drive me nuts!

  5. Congratulations Hank and Rhys! I've read The Other Woman (and loved it) - now I need to pick up The Twelve Clues of Christmas).

    I love my mother very much, but we are very, very different. That's probably a good thing, since we live together and I can't imagine two of us in the same house for more than a few days. I could never have managed it with my father, who I am exactly like. Particular, impatient, stubborn... After my father died, we discovered some scale drawings he'd done of rooms in the house, with little pieces of paper for the furniture. I do the same thing, and when I helped my grandmother organize some writings into a book, I discovered she did it as well.

  6. Such fabulous news! It must be so hard to be nominated in categories with your friends. It is for us readers; we want you all to win!

    My mother was also critical. When I wrote my first book I very excitedly presented it to her. She leafed through it and said, "There aren't any pictures." Balloon, deflated. She may later have read some of it, but she never said anything about it. I really try not to do that to my kids, even though they have pursuits I don't understand. (One daughter is doing research into turning off DNA markers inside cell walls. Huh?)

  7. Doesn't it seem like whenever mystery writing awards are announced, multiple Jungle Reds make the list of nominees? Congrats to Hank and Rhys and all the JRWs for the continuing recognition of their skillful work!

  8. I hear you, Karen...
    I hope there's a special place in hell for any relative (or friend, for that matter) who says nothing after you give them a copy of something you've written.

  9. Congrats, congrats, congrats!

    I can imagine no greater compliment than to be told I'm turning into my mother. She is brave and independent and taught me to be both. She went off to Japan in the 1950s as a DoD teacher and ended up marrying my fighter pilot dad when she was 27(an advanced age in that time). Then,she went back to school and became a speech pathologist after she turned 40. After my father died, she moved away from Mississippi (where they'd lived for almost 30 years) to Colorado to be near us. Even though in her mid-70s at the time, she bravely launched herself into a new community and new activities, and has a much more robust social life than mine. She was, possibly, more excited about the publication of my first book than I was and reads everything I write the day I write it. I am blessed.

  10. Thanks, friends, for sharing these wonderful observations! I could see my mother in many of them! Two things stand out about her, a southern belle from Tennessee, who had a will of iron!!! She was very partucular about her looks as she got older and at age of 90 she would not leave the house til she had spent an hour putting on her face! I don't wear much makeup, but I find myself putting on lipstick before I step out of my apartment. She was also, like many of yours, strict about expecting me to make the top goals: once, when I was elected in college to Chair the Big Class Play, ( a huge honor ) she was disappointed that I was not going to act in it!! Thelma in Manhattan

  11. Huge Congratulations to Hank and Rhys!!!! Yay, You! (and I promise not to say "I told you so," Hank).

    My mother is 86 and still going strong. Lives independently in a darling apartment filled with things she loves (hmmmm - yes, okay, got that gene), still loves to shop (hmmmm - check), has too many clothes, shoes, scarves (yes, yes, okay - check). Is VERY outspoken and opinionated (oTAY! so, I am, just a little).

    i am my mother, and it's fine with me. She just rocks.

  12. Congratulations to Hank and Rhys! I am so proud of my Jungle Red authors. Yes, I consider you mine.

    My mother will be 93 in May. She still lives alone although in senior housing. Her memory is fading badly and I worry about her a lot but she's my hero. She's a WWII veteran, a Navy nurse, and worked in labor and delivery for many years after her 4 daughters were grown. She's still a marvelous role model for me, my sisters, my nieces, and my great nieces. My poor Mom never had a boy in the family.

  13. My mother used to hit me over the head with the dustmop because my room was "a pigsty." And I once heard myself saying this to my daughter: this closet is a breedi g ground for cockroaches! " This is what comes from a mother who DOESN'T recite poetry! Molly Campbell

  14. This is for Deborah, and it's not about moms--except that my mom was a list-maker just like her mom, and I'm equally addicted. So...Do you know about Bento?? Bento software is to list-makers what Godiva is to chocolate-lovers. Check it out!

  15. Congratulations to both Hank and Rhys --- what a wonderful event for both of you.

  16. I am SO my mother. But in our family it's a matter of twisted pride to be as outright crazy as she was. I try to keep the tradition alive for my daughter - who fortunately got to be exposed to my mother's unique brand of crazy before we lost her. I'm not as much the crazy cat lady though - my husband would have me committed.

  17. There are ways in which I am really not, NOT, turning into my mother (my husband watches diligently for me crossing the bossy line and points it out, much to my chagrin [*waves* hi mom!]). But as I pointed out in an Ode To Mom blog I posted last Saturday, in honor of her birthday, she's always been strong-willed, intelligent, and challenging. I gotta admit, I am too. But I'm OK with all of that.

    And congratulations on your nominations!

  18. Congrats to all on their Agatha noms!

    I am a blend of both of my parents. My mother's love of talking, reading, and meeting new people and my dad's love of collecting along with both parents' love of travel.

    On the other hand, I married a man just like my father, so not sure what that says about me!

  19. My Mom plucked me out of an orphanage because I was crying.. Something that she could fix.
    She had thirty foster children at various times. I lost her early in life but absorbed so much love that it has carried me
    through life.
    She inspired me and gave me a chance to have music lessons,
    She cooked and cleaned and laundered and now covenience machines have taken over.
    Alll that I am I owe to my parents and husband.

  20. Congrats, Rhys & Hank!

    Laughed out loud at Hank's comment about seeing her mother in the mirror and being surprised. I just visited my mother last weekend, and every time I do, I come home and see her face in the mirror. My hair -- hers is short and beautifully silver -- but her face!

  21. I don't think that I am much like my mother at all. Much more like my father in personality, physical type, basic optimistic nature. In fact, I would cringe if someone said, "you're just like your mother." I have been accused of being like my mother's sister who was known as "bad Aunt Mary" because she was so bossy and interfering. Oh, dear. I try so hard to keep those personality characteristics in check!

  22. Love hearing about your mothers! Marie, that's wonderful story and you sound like you do her proud!

    Pat, bossiness seems to be a trait that many of us strong women (who are so often right) share....

  23. Whenever someone tells me that I'm "just like your mother" I take it as a compliment. And I just wish that they were right. She was a lovely, sweet, compassionate person and I would love to be MORE like her. I don't have her patience,for one thing. I think all five of us got the worrying trait from her, and I know she always felt responsible for that. Other things I have in common with her (besides worrying): I love to read, I love birdwatching, I love to collect seashells. She enjoyed trying out different crafts. I do, too, but I am not especially good at them, whereas Mom had a knack for picking up all sorts of craft skills. She died fifteen years ago at Christmas. Every now and then I will be introduced to someone as "Marge's daughter", and the stranger will start to cry and tell me how much he or she misses my mother. I still have not gotten used to that. About a year ago a man that I know just very superficially had to come to my office on business. He was acquainted with my mom. When he recognized me as "Marge's daughter", like so many others have done, he began to cry. I don't know what kind of relationship he has/had with his own mother, but obviously my mom made an impression on him. It was so out of character with everything I know about him that it was really unnerving. A few years ago I overheard him at a social function telling someone what a loss it was to our community when she died. At that point, I didn't even realize that he knew her. She would be shocked to hear people talking about her. She was just a quiet,compassionate person who tried to put people at ease, she was active in church and in the community,but in a quiet way, and she was a good listener.

    One of the BIG things we definitely have in common and the area in which I say "yep, I've turned into Mom"is the fact that we kill people off before their time! She would insist that an author or former politician or actor or other prominent person "died a couple of years ago"and I would insist the person was still living. For about three years she kept insisting that William Holden had died. Finally, he DID die. When one of us told her that his death had been reported, she good-naturedly said "I TOLD you he was dead!" I do this all the time now,and I can imagine her laughing at me. Most recently I was shocked to hear that Stan Musial died -- because I thought he died a few years ago!

  24. My mom and I looked, sounded and gestured alike. Strangers were always coming up to one of us saying, "you must be Angie's daughter," or "you must be Susan's mother." We could wear each other's clothes right up to the day she died at 86. We parted ways in the matter of housecleaning. My mom was a fanatically clean housekeeper and I'm....not. When I was kid, it drove me crazy that we'd arrive late for events because she couldn't bear to leave the house if there was a dirty cup in the sink or a crumb on the counter. When I was an adult, she often marveled that I found the time to write, to which I would reply, "Once you let go of ironing dishtowels, vast stretches of time open up to you."

  25. Thank you! Just back form a cray day of covering the storm--I was up to my thighs in snow, my boots are ruined, and even now I am STILL cold! But SO happy--and YAY Rhys!

    And--this is such a fabulous post..I am so touched by it all..

  26. Okay, of course I mean "crazy" day.

    And DebRo, the William Holden story is a treasure. My mother was never wrong, either. :-)

  27. ANd may i say one more time-- thank you SO much! It is such an incredible pleasure to read all of this.. Rhys and I will be dancing around all over Malice!

    Thank you!

  28. Big congratulations to our nominees!! Well done.

    Yesterday was the 17th anniversary of my mom's death, and I found myself asking, "How the hell can she have been gone for so long?!" I think of her so often, and see her regularly, not just in my facial features but also in my hands and gestures.

    My mom was truly an amazing woman. She met my dad in 1942 when he was AWOL from the navy and married him two weeks later, after he promised to serve his time in the brig and report back to his ship. From this inauspicious beginning, they were married 43 years, practically to the day. It turned out that Dad had alcoholism, so there was a whole lot of "worse" and "sickness" in their lives for many years. When they'd been married for 35 years Mom found Al-Anon, and threw herself into the program of recovery with everything she had. Dad was never able to get sober, but that was beside the point. Mom was changing her attitudes and behavior, and their relationship changed for the better.

    Dad died of lung cancer in 1985, and we were able to sit with him while he died at home. I got my strength to do that from my mother. Her two sisters had died just weeks before (cancer, heart attack), yet she didn't fall apart. She was present and loving. Three years later when my brother was diagnosed with AIDS, she leaned on her friends in Al-Anon to help her through his illness and eventual death in 1990.

    She wanted to give something back, so she began working with local AIDS service providers, coordinating the distribution of meals to AIDS patients, and she worked with me on the NAMES Project Quilt when it was anywhere nearby.

    When I'm striking out on a new path, I think of my mom and how she tried so many new and unfamiliar things. She used to knit hats and slippers for her church's outreach program. I crochet baby blankets for a local hospital. This past Christmas I used her recipe for pralines, and everyone loved them. She introduced me to The Heifer Project decades ago by making a donation in my name. Now every Christmas (which was her birthday) I make a donation in her honor. I'm so proud to be her daughter.