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08 January 2010

Multi-tasking, circa. 1918

So you think today's mothers juggle? I am reading "Cider with Rosie", which Lichfield gave to Helskini for Christmas and she graciously let me read first. I was amused to find the following, and am slightly heartened to see I'm no worse off than Laurie Lee's mother was, nearly 100 years ago. In this scene he describes a typical evening after school:

Indoors, out Mother was cooking pancakes, her face aglow from the fire...The time had come for my violin practice. I began twanging the strings.... Mother was still frying and rolling up the pancakes.... Now and then I got a note just right, and then Mother would throw me a glance ... of piercing, anxious encouragement as she side-stepped my swinging arm. Plump in her slippers, one hand to her cheek, her pan beating time in the other, her hair falling down about her ears, mouth working to help out the tune -- old and tired though she was, her eyes were a girl's....

Mother always ate standing up.... She ruled the range and all its equipment with a tireless, nervous touch. Eating with one hand, she threw wood on with the other, raked the ashes, and heated the oven, put on a kettle, stirred the pot, and spread out some more shirts on the guard.

-- from the chapter called "The Kitchen", in Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee.



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