A New Name

I had high hopes seven years ago when I began blogging. I thought I'd experiment with French classics and explore my French and French Canadian culinary roots, talk a bit about my beloved Grandma Annie, and help the college freshman and sophomores I was teaching learn about blogging.

The name I chose was "French Kitchen in America," for that was what I was attempting to create. Our mortgage was paid off, and my husband and I were enjoying traveling to France, exploring Paris and the southwest of France, where we knew someone with a marvelous country home we could rent. I had visions of exploring new food while in France, and recreating the recipes in my own kitchen.

If I'd known what I was doing I'd have started my culinary adventures closer to home. A smaller start with less grandiose plans would have been the wisest course of action and easier for me to maintain when life got complicated.

In fact, my blog became a reflection of my life, which has changed dramatically since June 2006. I quit teaching and writing for a living, took a new job from which I retired last year. It's been nearly a year since my last food post.

I have been eating, of course, and eating rather well, but food has taken a bit of a back seat to my other projects, which include looking after my mother, who is 90 years old and has Alzheimer's Disease. She is in an assisted living facility, and I try to visit 2-3 times a week. I'm her laundry lady and the woman who does her makeup. I love to see her smile and make her laugh. I share these goals with my younger sister.

My sister and I have been attempting to clear her home so we can get it on the market. During the course of that we have learned much about our family and each other. Most of us go through this process, and I recommend it as part of life's more difficult but certainly rewarding activities.

Also during the course of this process, we unexpectedly lost one of my two brothers. If you have lost a sibling, you will understand the layers of this particular type of grief.

You may also understand my particular need for comfort food at this time. Coupled with the onset of cold weather here on the Wisconsin-Michigan border, it is especially fierce. I will need to get back to the gym soon.

I will need to get back to the kitchen soon, too. I miss it. Right now it's just a room I pass through from time to time. Yes, we still eat meals but more often than not, it is my husband who does the cooking. Or it's a grilled cheese sandwich.

Lots of recipes and cookbooks turned up in my mother's pantry, and in an old kitchen table with a drawer that we just sold to a local antique dealer. I hope to make some of them and share the results with you in the next year. We've also encountered some of Grandma Annie's favorites, most of which I no longer consume, but which I will happily share with you.

The blog's new name reflects the neighborhood where my grandmother and mother grew up, the west end of my hometown. More commonly known as "The West End," the neighborhood has its roots in the decades after the Civil War, when French Canadian families left their rocky, Quebec ribbon farms for the promise of prosperity in the textile mills of New England and the lumber towns of the Upper Great Lakes region.

I was lucky to know the West End in the 50s and 60s, when grandparents still spoke French at home and neighbors - often related by bloodlines or Quebec village origins - shared the bounty of backyard gardens.

I dedicate this post to my mother and my late brother (above, with me, in a backyard in Frenchtown), and as always, Grandma Annie.


Kalyn Denny said…
I went through that experience of watching my father decline, so I can appreciate what a difficult time you've been going through. Sending best wishes, and always fun to see a post from you pop up in the feed reader.
Anonymous said…
Thanks, Kalyn!
Christine said…
My dear Mimi, I am just now seeing this post because my blogging friends updates live on my blog's sidebar and I haven't been there in ages. Oh, do I know what you mean about life's changes and curve balls. I am so sorry to learn of the passing of your brother; I lost mine several years ago and still feel the pain. I'm glad that you have not given up on your blog, and am heartened to see how you are segueing into the change and focus. It gives me hope that I can do the same someday soon. I'm looking forward to reading new posts soon. All my best, Christine
Unknown said…
Hi Mimi
I have just noticed your post and am sorry to hear your news but look forward to some new posts from you.
With best wishes
Penny said…
Mimi, So glad to hear your voice again. You have always been an inspiration to me. You have my condolences on the lose of your brother and complete understanding of what it takes to take care of your Mother. It is the least that we can do for our most devoted early caregiver . I love the direction that you are taking on your blog. Look forward especially to those Grandma Annie recipes. With sincere respect, Penny
Katie Zeller said…
So sorry to hear about the loss of your brother and nice to hear your voice again. When we moved my mother into assisted living (and my aunt into a nursing home) I wasn't there for most of it.... but my sister saved all their cookbooks for me. The best part was finding all the notes and letters and newspaper clippings that they both stored in their cookbooks. Stay strong... And enjoy your mother;s smiles.....
Anonymous said…
Christine, thank you. I just saw your post today, as I was on a short vacation across the bay and not accessing my usual sites. I almost contacted you because I thought you lost a brother, too, and I thought we might commiserate. I am cheered by your message, even though we are both experiencing some very very permanent pain.

Thank you, Anne. I hope all is well with you. I am going to ease into this, with a goal of maybe 3 posts in 2013 and maybe two a month in 2014.

Penny, I have found more of Grandma's recipes at my mother's house and am looking forward to trying them. Thank you for your kind words. I feel so bad about not visiting any blogs in the past year.

Katie, it took us a long time to make the decision, but we did it and now Mum is receiving very good care. We have tons of recipes to go through together, my sister and I, and we both like to cook so it's going to be one bright spot in a difficult process.

Thank you all for visiting and posting.

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