Friday, March 9, 2018

Once Upon a Time I Wrote a Long List

Once upon a time...

I wore a powder blue dress with airy pleats and velvet flowers.

I smashed an orange brick to powder, sprinkled on my brother, and declared him a carrot.

I found packets of photographic chemicals under the eaves of the attic and strongly contemplated eating them.

I smashed vintage tin trains as flat as can be with a brick, I then threw them away in the trash can in the alley because I became afraid.

I stole a quarter and ran with exhilaration to the corner store to buy white bread because I never ate Wonder Bread before.   Snuck to the back of the closet to ball up and eat all the pieces.

I woke up at night in my nylon blanket in a corner of my room.  Weird feeling.

I learned to identify edible mushrooms in a forest. 

I tried to avoid wearing glasses.  My dad tested my eyes by pointing to dates on the calendar.  I quickly counted the blurs and gave him the correct answers.  Optometrist said my eyes were clear as glass but nearsighted.

Classmates made fun of my cats eye glass, hair, teeth.

I thought dolls came alive at night.  I was scared of being awake when that happened.

I pulled my 6-year-old brother up as he was sliding down a muddy, slick bank of a swollen, churning creek.

I put salt instead of sugar into a pitcher of tea.  I did not admit I did it.  There were plenty of other suspects present.

I was paraded from classroom to classroom by school principal who announced--this is the kid whose dad just died.

I was not paying attention and principal hit me in the head with a big, heavy book.  Later she and the pastor married and moved to Florida.

At the lake, I gave my name and address to 2 boys who then harassed me.

I was short 17 cents to take train home. 

I was pickpocketed from an open bag as I squeezed past teens at back door of bus.  Figured out a week later.  Pickpocketed from pocket of pant on crowded bus. Saw giant hand reaching into petite lady's pocket. Warned her.

Mother and aunts handmade down comforter as anticipated wedding present,  I did not marry that person.  I noticed he spelled my name wrong on birthday card.

I did not marry man who could not remember my birthday in seven years.

I did not marry guy who clambered aboard bus ahead of me.

I got an email at work not to drink the water as it was compromised.


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Wedding List Deconstructed--A Walk Up Anxiety Aisle

As if.

Finding the hidden. Fallow moment at work, trimmed plant leaves, looked at shelf--undated yellow legal pad.   First page takes me back 20 years to planning our wedding.  List starts with church which was under renovation (so plastic sheeting and scaffolding was part of décor), banquet hall/crystal room for 200 people, painted blue roses on ceramic centerpiece, guest priest--archdiocese had trouble verifying his credentials, DJ brought many protégés.  In reception hall I was by myself greeting guests, husband pressed in to service elsewhere.  

Wilton party favors--had trouble remembering if/what I might have ordered, but each cost $5.35.  Maybe silver-toned picture frames?  I kept one for us.  Picture of dear husband in jean jacket and black hair circa 1994.   

Amazon Dry goods catalogue $17.00  I wonder if I was considering a dress pattern or shoes? 
Toshiro, Hubba Hubba Vintage--now closed. 
Laura Ashley with a crossed through number--disconnected.
Jessica McClintock, asked bridesmaids to buy sky blue prom dresses from there, difficulty in finding one for everyone.  Maid of honor found a coordinating one, some relatives body shamed her for going braless.

I found my wedding dress at I Do Consignment, still in business. Tried on one lacy dress that fit like a glove.  But fell in love hard with a 1940s satin dress originally made for super tall and super thin bride.  Top was remade by seamstress with a sailors collar.  Material take from long training tail.  She made up veil as well.  Very pretty but fittings stressful.  Probably would have been just as happy with the lacy one.  Left behind pair of gray leggings from Contempo which I missed.

Went to consignment shop as dress I previously ordered from overseas was disappointing.  Built around a bra that wasn't even my size.  My head was so turned around I didn't refuse it and paid for it to long lasting regret. 

Reserving block of rooms for out of town guests--not used as downstate relatives made 12-hour round trip without sleepover.  So many guests--a number of them have since passed away, multiple cancers, heart attacks, old age.  A number passed from acquaintance.  I remember being panicky when my mother and husband's mother each made list of guests that exceeded capacity.  The painful process of whittling down.  Husband and I each broke out in boils, in hidden spots at least. Torrential rain on reception night with flooding, leak in hall roof, elevator and bathrooms out of order,  guests read love poems under umbrella. 

Lucky rain tradition in Brazil.  Lucky for us. Lucky in love.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Goldilocks Is Addled

About 10 years ago, my dear friend M gave me a nearly complete set of Franciscan Earthenware  called Tulip Time.  Through clumsiness, carelessness, and general attrition, a creamer bit the dust  as did a number of the medium sized dishes we used most often.  

I was tired of seeing the sad spot where the creamer wasn't. I found online sellers and happily replaced the creamer.  I was nervous about the dwindling stack of our dinner dishes. 
I ordered 4 online.  They came in a big, well packaged box.  Too big as it turns out!  
One person's dinner dishes are another's chargers. 

I tried again.  Another big box containing 4 small dishes, too small! More like dessert-sized.  I was surprised as I thought I read each description carefully.  I didn't send anything back as the postage was about the same as the cost of the items.

So now we have a stockpile of our least used pieces.  Dare I try ordering again?  
I saw that a company specializing in replacement offers a measurement to the quarter inch in their descriptions.  Maybe that will turn out just right?

How hard can it be to order the right-sided dish?  Let me tell you....

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Oh,Tomatoes and Other Garden Delights

Late lamented nectarine tree. Hope we get a volunteer or two from the seeds the squirrels bury. 
We miss the beautiful clouds of pink flowers and fragrant fruit, juicy ambrosia.
How very red, round and lovely. We love tomatoes for their flavor.
Some look like hearts (the organ) some brownish or purplish (Black Krim).
In the back garden on P St, since some of the nectarine orchard died back, sunlight has flooded into our sunken garden, making an ideal place for growing tomatoes. My mother and aunt start tomato seedlings in March.  Such a tender miracle to see the seedlings hatch out of their wee husks. We optimistically plant out the little things mid-May. Bury most of the stem to encourage strong roots. The transplants never look like much in the soil. So very tiny. Each set off with a ring of crushed white egg shells. We hope that they make gains between rainstorms and marauding bunnies.  If the current year is like the year before, soon the fill form a near impenetrable jungle. 

As they grow, we tie off the vines to long stick with bits of rag cloth.  My mother has a bundle of cloth strips labeled "best ribbons."  She washes them after each season, dries them in the sun and saves them for next time. She also washes the poles for disease prevention purposes.

My mother's chief garden joy is wall-to-wall tomatoes. I like a variety and can not say no to flowers and elements of intrigue.  Over the years, I added wild ginger and tiger lilies from a friend's mother, ferns and phlox from my mom, beloved hostas from many sources, a hydrangea from husband's work, lady statue that was a prop in a clothing store, trumpet vines that took 7 years to settle in and no time to run rampant. A curly willow branch from a dumpster-dived wedding arrangement is a 2-story tree.

My grounds keeping tends to embrace the jungle aspect. Joyous trumpet vine with a side of phlox in long narrow side garden.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Gardening Out of Bounds

When my brother and I bought our house on Pppppppp St, I planted up the parkway with masses of flowers.  The house was built in the early 1900s.  I was attending a university with a gloriously, rich collection of old books. I researched what flowers were used at the time, love-in-a-mist, love-lies-bleeding, petunias, columbine, morning glory, and tarda tulips--low to the ground, opening their faces towards the sun. I raised them from seed.  A cousin complimented it as a real Polish garden.

Having secured the permission of the Sisters in a neighboring convent, I moved many orange ditch lilies to ring their grounds. One quiet Sunday, a woman asked how she and her child could get in to play.  They had walked all around the perimeter bounded by a 6-foot chain link fence and could not find an entrance. I told her it was private. She remained skeptical.  It must have seemed unlikely that a wide grassy field ringed with towering Great Northern Catalpa trees must be enjoyed from the inside as well.  And on other days of the week it was. Black, glossy crows congregated there. Cawing until wee children arrived for weekday daycare.

One day my pots of morning glories were toppled over on the other side of the tall chain link fence.  Torn, wilted tendrils clung to our railing.  One of the Sisters told me someone had it out for me. Someone did.  I suspected an ex-boyfriend who doggedly stalked me.

Some years later, tarda tulips seeded themselves on the other side of the fence and beamed where they were planted.

The Sisters sold their convent and land to a developer.  Where did the crows go after the field was filled with large houses crammed together? Remnants of the day lilies lined the alley.  Would they bloom again after a new neighbor squired herbicide around the edges where weeds sprouted? Terracotta angels were taken down from the roof line of the church replaced by fiberglass ones that never seemed to dirty or acquire a patina.  Why did no one ask me what to keep the same as it ever was?

For a glimpse in the how it was Steven Seagal's Above the Law captures our old neighborhood.
Action movies are not my cup of tea here, but...


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Garden Story

Growing up we never used the term "backyard," we always said "garden." Our childhood garden was on  Wwww Street in the St Mmmm's of the @@@@@'s parish.  It consisted of a brick patio that housed  a swing and a picnic table set on white marble slabs. The other half was soil that occasionally yielded glass marbles and tiddly winks--mementos left behind previous children from previous times. One time my mother found 2 rings.  About 10 years ago, my mother met a man by the viaduct about a 1/2 block north of her house. He grew up in her house. He sent a photo from the 1930s of himself on a high wheeled tricycle, boxes or fruit and vegetables in front of the building. My mother's front room used to be a storefront deli.   Bubblegum machine, cola clock, icebox, marble counters were moved to the basement.  My mother used the smoker into the 1980s.

The former resident came to visit the following summer with a friend wearing a Leica camera who took pictures in the garden.   The steps to the alley and basement were as steep and uneven as he remembered.  He took away a souvenir purple brick. He said the 3-story fire escape came off a factory building that was demolished and that it was rumored that Al Capone's car was buried under the garage.

When my parents moved in, they planted a sole plum tree--flowers--no fruit and 2 prolific sour cherry trees.  A highlight of the summer was the great feeling of relief that school was over and retreating into the garden. Wondering as the tall, scratchy hollyhocks and the weirdly patterned bugs crawling on the hard, green buds.  My mom has photos of her, her friends, and baby me picnicking, relaxing.

When my brothers reached a rambunctious, climbing  age, my mother had the tree cut down to avoid falls.  My father had died suddenly and she was trying to avoid further grief. The soil baked dry.  The only things that grew were plantain and creeping Charlie, sweet violets in the moist spot by the bricks and a pink fairy rose bush that miraculously flowered every year.

In the 1980s, the city hopefully planted grass sod in everyone's parkway. Young tenants moved in, removed the grass and planted flowers. My mother resented the action at first, but it awakened her love of gardening. She added in pink phlox, Susan-black-eyes, astible.  She replanted the fairy rosebush in front and reclaimed the garden in back for tomatoes and beans.

One year scarlet runner beans gamboled up to the attic window via the fire escape.  This year I tilled up her soil--no more marbles or tiddly winks. ###

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Purge-Related Sadness

 I visited my mom, delivering vegetables from our CSA subscription.  She showed me around her lovely tomato garden, then asked me if I wanted to see what she's been throwing out of her basement.

One of her beloved sister died a couple of summers ago and we cleared out her house in fits and starts. She kept lots of papers, mementos, photographs, work IDs, hair of her husband.  Some delightful things. One a typewritten list of the cute, grammatically incorrect things my little brothers said  as tiny children.  The clear out was a huge project, painful, took weeks.  After that my mother started winnowing down her own possessions.

My mom put  brightly colored plastic drink coolers, as vintage, wind up clock from the 1970s into the recycling bin. I pulled them out to display on top of a lid, thinking someone would be attracted by the bright yellow and orange and rescue them.  She had a separate big cardboard box of metal objects.  I asked about the items. I pulled out a caddy for drinking glasses, a 2-part, aluminum, Santa baking mold, a jewelry caddy from the 1940s.  She said that she was sorry she showed me. I didn't want to upset her any more, so I stopped my treasure hunting.

Santa was similar to this.

Later after I left, I circled to take another detour through her alley and saw a landscape worker winding up the clock.  It was his time now.  His turn.  His treasures.

I continued past him homeward bound.