Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Old Photos

Once in a blue moon I will open a box of old photographs stored on the top shelf of the clothes closet. 
It is awkward to get down and it is stuffed with packets of 4x6’s from the years before computers and it is at times fun and bittersweet to see what I was up to.  I am surprised that my hair was raven colored and I was much thinner than I am now.  There are trips to the mountain to visit friends who had a wonderful cabin in an old mining town, trips to California to go on painting encounters and wonderful sojourns to Italy, France, Africa and Asia.

There I am standing in front of a temple in the sweltering heat of Thailand, then a shot of the most handsome male I ever met, a 70- foot reclining gold deity all stretched out for one and all to admire.  There I am on a small Vietnamese boat on Hai Phong Bay hardly aware that there was an awful war with these people not too long ago.  

I am hiking with our guide in the desert highlands of Madagascar and I remember that I suffered heat stroke that evening.  I didn’t have water on the hike into Monkey Valley and I was so thirsty that I drank unfiltered water from a stream. I was exhausted, no appetite, nauseated, and vomited outside the dining hall that evening.

There are photos of friends long gone, others who just drifted away with job changes and moving to another state, photos of people who betrayed their loyalty and I get a sinking feeling when at I look at them.

I think maybe it is best not to disturb that box filled with history. Should I dump it or just let it molder away in darkness?

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Run Away Watermelon

Seattle is very fussy about its trash.  We have containers for recycling, one for composting and one for garbage. In the alley behind my condo complex, our dumpsters are not all together so one has to separate materials to go into three different containers in three different locations.  

I had a bag of trash in one hand ready for the garbage and another bag with a whole personal watermelon which had staged its last days in my vegetable crisper ready to add to compost.  I had put it in a bio bag which is a little slick.  Our alley is slightly canted and runs downhill towards the Sound. I placed the bio bag of watermelon down on the concrete while I put the garbage in the dumpster but as I was doing it the watermelon started to roll.  

At first I tried to grab it, then it started to gain speed, my sandals were not meant for running so I moved quickly to try to get ahead of the racing watermelon to stop it with my foot but the melon simply bounced over my foot and took off speeding.  I raced along side it to try to move it towards our neighbor building but it was focused on blazing ahead at greater speed.  Realizing I could possibly fall down and knock myself out or fracture an arm I gave myself one more try and was able finally to stop it with one frantic effort it before it bounced into the street.

It was a scene from an Abbot and Costello movie.  I had hoped someone else had observed it and I am still laughing about it.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Mice in the Pantry

The mice behaved as if they owned the joint, and they took over our cool pantry in our cottage at the beach.  They even had the nerve to chomp a hole in a whole watermelon and eat their way to the center, just the center, and leave the rest.  

Mother was always setting traps hoping to catch the little buggers and all they did was to leave their “calling cards” scattered on the floor or counter tops where they would be seen.  Our beach cottage, by today’s standards would not meet code, as it was built on post and beam, with no insulation, and lots of places for the beach mice to take refuge in a storm.

Sometimes during the night we would hear the WHAP of a mousetrap and cheer into the darkness. Mother had the mortician’s duty and dispatched the trap and unlucky mouse to the garbage container outside in the morning.

On our daily walks to the beach we would carry a gunnysack and gather beach bark which we would use in our fireplace and wood stove in the kitchen.  It was easier to carry bark as they came in chunks and we filled the sack and dragged it back to the cottage to put in the wood box next to the fireplace.  A beach bark fire was the best one to roast marshmallows on and would burn slowly but give off good heat in the living room.

We did not have a refrigerator but an icebox and the iceman would come twice a week and deliver blocks to our front door.  Ham, the meat operator, had a refrigerated truck and would sell all kinds of meat. He was a butcher and a skilled one at that.  My sister and I knew that one shelf in Ham's truck he kept candy bars so we would walk out to Ham’s truck with our mother to make her purchases and then we would each get a chilled Mounds or Almond Joy.  

Once a week Tony the Italian vegetable vender would drive into the oyster shell lane and ring his bell. The women of the beach compound would come running out of their houses to buy fresh fruit and vegetables.

Things were simple in those days, but we kids loved the life at the beach and looked forward to it each summer- mice and all.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Emmy Lou's Pull-Aparts

There was a faint smell in the air and I couldn’t quite identify it then I took a real deep snifter and it smelled like Cousin Emmy Lou’s Pull-Aparts.  They were sensational, big, dusted with lots of cinnamon and warmed up in the oven for breakfast at the beach, they were a big hit with the family.
All of us, groggy from a deep night’s sleep, stagger into the kitchen an array of generational relatives trying to find a place to stand.  We all knew the order of respect, Judy and Dave the oldest always got a bedroom to themselves.  My sister and I took the bedroom with two twin beds and we were used to snoring and talking in the sleep.
Hostess Cousin Barbara always took the sofa in the second floor living room usually with some large dog perched on top.  Some years it was a Newfoundland, then Bernese Mountain dogs, and as she got older smaller creatures that she could lift out of her backseat car if needed.
Cousin Emmy Lou out of touch with the family after many years away came happily back among the flock to share war stories from the past.  She spoke of elegant family members and it was as though I actually knew them, but I was far too young among the hierarchy of our family members.  Emmy Lou did not remember whipping her cousins with sticks when they did not rehearse the summer dance properly.
Apparently Aunt Caddy’s cottage became the performance stage, a long outside deck that led down into the badminton court.  The net was brought down and all the chairs in the compound were set up for my family and their friends to enjoy the performance.  It was even covered by the social section of the Aberdeen World.
I remember taking a Pull Apart on a dish and finding a place to sit among chairs and sofas in the living room.  The nut-brown sugar syrup dazzled down the cinnamon bread which was soft and warm.  Butter melted instantly when applied.

I miss Cousin Emmy Lou's Pull-Aparts but not as much as I miss her.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Wasted Talent

Their success has become their detriment - she a talented illustrator stopped producing once she married a rich man and walked away from her pallet. He a potentially creative writer, fell by accident into a wildly popular romance novel scene, made a lot of money and stopped writing, rendering him fallow by success.  They both chose to turn off their creative talents. What a shame what a loss. 

She supported herself with her art, working street fairs and sometimes commissions.  It was the only way she could support her daughter on her own. Occasionally she would find a Sugar Daddy to augment her income the price she had to pay to survive.  It helped that she was a beautiful blond with lots of personality. Given the limited financial resources she would scrimp to pay for life drawing classes.  Her skills were remarkable and I think of her every time I look at a drawing I bought from her. But once she married a very wealthy man and didn’t have to work, she never picked up a drawing pencil again.  Never.  Like the creative faucet was completely turned off.

He was a startling handsome young man with a desperate longing to write about his experiences, some of them quite difficult.   On the self publication of his first book middle aged female readers fell madly in love with him, reacting to him like a rock star wherever he went.  At book signings throngs of giggling girls would surround him desperate to have a photo taken with him.  Realizing now his effect on the female buying public he began to crank out a short series of romantic novels.  He was a marketing whiz and knew all the social media tricks to gain a sizable following.  If I saw him on Face Book there were photographs of him always with a v necked t-shirt on to expose his well-developed upper torso while holding one of his books.  He encouraged every reader to write positive review on all his books and even offered prizes.

He made enough money to buy his ideal house on the shores of the Sound, a wood house, outfitted by a professional interior decorator.  He was set.  He then stopped writing. Period. No more books.  Why should he need to write? The sales of the novels in other languages are keeping him financially set.  No need to create.

I checked his Face Book recently.  He is has lost his youthful looks.  He looks like a spent man.  No more stories will come from him, what wasted talent.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Eat Your Veggies

“To get in shape!  Eat what you hate”.  Pretty good quote for somebody who doesn’t eat a lot of vegetables. If I were offered only beets, Brussels spouts, kale, fava beans, lima beans, okra, zucchini and black beans, broccoli and cauliflower I would probably lose a lot of weight because I hate all of them and would never consider eating them.  

Well-meaning neighbors used to give me huge zucchini thinking I liked them. I would thank them for their thoughtfulness then dump the obscene things in the compost pile. Actually I do love just the squash blossoms, stuffed with fresh mozzarella, basil and dipped in an egg batter topped with lemon juice but don’t put grown zucchini on my forty-dollar entry plate in a restaurant.  That would tad amount to serving me a worn out shoe sole as a side dish. And don’t come anywhere near me with that slimy okra, bitter tasting southern veggie which might as well be dirt.

My mother used to serve lima beans out of the can, those slightly greenish odd shaped beans, which tasted like newsprint.   Beets are so tannic for my pallet that they taste like left over tea bags, but I have to say that the color of the water they boil in is beautiful. On the other hand I love beet greens one of my favorite vegetables but is hard to find even in farmers’ markets. I don’t like pinto beans or black beans but like refried beans and hummus.  I ate garbanzo beans cooked in the ground once on a hiking trip.  I wouldn’t have eaten them but it was the only thing for dinner supplied by my friend, who was the cook of the day.

What vegetables do I like?  Well I like carrots – raw not cooked, spinach, onions,  avocados, tomatoes, English cucumbers, pea pods, arugula, some lettuces, corn (white only), acorn squash, miners lettuce, cabbage – prefer red, turnip, rutabaga, bell peppers, artichoke, asparagus, horseradish and potatoes.

And there are some vegetables I will tolerate if hidden cleverly by a good cook who adds other flavors to a dish.  My friend Sandra once made a side dish I found delicious and I asked for seconds.  She told me later it had zucchini in it!

I do believe that when I was in India that I must have eaten lots of vegetables that I was unfamiliar with.  And shopping in Uwajimaya’s produce section is always a cultural experience.  There are so many different kinds of unfamiliar options with exotic names like niga-uri, sato-imo, tama-negi and karela.  What an adventure to browse through Uwajimaya’s and try to figure out if something in the aisles are either fruits or vegetables.

Looking over this prompt for today I seem to like more vegetables than I thought I did. Maybe I should take up Asian cooking to provide more things which are “good” for me that might solve my problem.

Monday, February 26, 2018

RobertaSue's Gloves

RobertaSue is such a clotheshorse.  Now she is into gloves, can you believe it?  I haven’t the heart to tell her that unless she is European Royal, woman don’t wear gloves any more.  But she is intent on building a huge wardrobe of soft kid gloves in a variety of colors.  Her walk in closet has dozens and dozens of pairs of gloves from yellow to blue to red in all varieties of hues.

She actually wrote a paper on gloves for her high school English class and I give her credit because she did some serious research.  She started out with one of the earliest records of gloves, found, in all places, with the discovery of King Tut’s tomb.  She then mentioned that bishops, royalty and high-ranking men wore gloves too.  There were the serious warrior gauntlets adorned the hands of horsemen to protect them from injury.  She segued into boxing gloves which was a little far fetched, but nothing stops RobertaSue when she is on a charge.

She remembered as a child wearing white cloth gloves to church on Sunday and she was forever losing one or another of them when she took them off in a heated stuffy church.

Her mother, wise to RobertaSue’s careless ways, made her a pair of mittens with a long strand of wool attached so that they were permanently together.  It wasn’t easy snaking the mittens, around her neck, through the long sleeves and onto her hands, but she never lost just one ever again.

One day RobertaSue’s mother gave a tea party for several of her female friends and Hattie Daniels a spry fashionista came wearing a pairs of turquoise doeskin gloves which she left on the chair by the front door.  RobertaSue picked them up and marveled how soft they were, so subtle, and she put them on her hands.  They fit perfectly.  She held up her hands to admire the color and feel of the material.  Hattie came up behind her and said, “RobertaSue, I see that you are admiring my gloves.  It would make me ever so happy if you would keep these for your own. I have plenty of pairs of them at home.”  Well, RobertaSue thought that it was just about the neatest gift she had ever been given. She thanked Hattie for her generosity and from that point on RobertaSue started adding to her collection.

She traveled to Europe and in every country she would seek out the leather shops and find yet another pair to add to her collection.  There is the pink pair from Prague, the red pair from Rome, the black pair from Berlin and the burgundy pair from Brussels.  It was though each pair had a history associated with it.  

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Let Me Guess Who You Are

Some people are not a bit shy of telling us who they are.  Their cars are plastered with bumper stickers some times to the extreme.  This person has made their sexual orientation clear, their favorite radio stations, beverages, cafes and coffee shops, political affiliations, conservation interests, conventions attended, favorite dancing styles, art galleries, and taste in reading.  In the old days the only bumper sticker one would see would brag "My kid is an honor student."  Then came the "My kid can beat up your honor student." I think that things have gotten out of hand.