Posts Tagged ‘Lodi’

I Blame It On

March 21, 2017

The hormones.

It has been an up and down day.

I re-started my day only an hour and a half after it started, I was already annoyed and yelling fuck in my kitchen while I was stirring oatmeal on the stove.

My boss wanted me to come in early.

The kids had an unexpected day off from school.

Dude.

Ugh.

Of course, I said yes, I was able to do it, it just threw a little loop in my day and I had to adjust, get flexible, and just suck it up.

Besides I would be getting out of work an hour early and all the things that I didn’t do this morning, writing and reading for school, I could do after work.

Except the mom got stuck in bad, rainy coming home from work traffic.

In the end it didn’t matter, as I ended up being late to work.

Worst driver I have ever had on a shared ride.

I actually complained for the first time ever.

I am not one to kick up a fuss, but the guy ran stop a sign-passing on the left to go around a car that was stopped at a stop sign on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in the park, scared the crap out of me as there was oncoming traffic, missed turns, then cut across traffic to make the turns, had an argument with one of the other passengers about directions and was horribly inconsistent with his driving.  I actually thought are you high?

Then right before he drops me off, asks with a really big, forced smile, how my day was going?  Dude.

A little too late.

I’m late for work and overwhelmed with annoyance by the three near death experiences I had while in the car.

I looked up at him, startled, and said, “fine, thanks,” in a flat tone of voice.

God damn.

It was creepy.

But yes, I did actually complain.

Of course, no response, but I’m not going to freak out, I know it’s one of the things that you just have to account for, once in a while getting a bad driver, I actually found myself laughing a little at my obvious desire to have control and my realization, that shit, there was nothing to do, but get through the ride, be grateful and get out of the car and go to work.

I was resigned to not being able to do any homework at work either, so I brought one of my meditation coloring books to color in with my charges and that was a hit.

Lots of coloring on this rainy, rainy, rainy day.

Clay, stickers, paper dolls, and drawing as well.

Robots, jet engines, race cars, stuffed animals.

Pancakes for lunch.

They were so cute about it, and insisted it was a special day and I was happy to indulge them.

I made them homemade pancakes, from scratch, not a box, with raspberries, butter, powdered sugar and maple syrup.

They were in heaven.

I had some of the raspberries later with my own lunch and got knocked over by a wave of nostalgia.

If I haven’t had raspberries in a while, and I don’t often have them, they are expensive little beasts ad I prefer to spend my money on blueberries, inevitably the first bite will always remind me of my Grandma Munz.

My grandparents had an amazing garden in Lodi, Wisconsin.

My grandfather cultivated and cared for most of it, but the raspberry vines were grandma’s territory, or so it seemed to me as a child, and I have a memory of picking raspberries with her–perhaps my favorite memory of my grandmother.

I don’t recall how old I was, but elementary school seems about right, 4th or 5th grade, and it was summer and my mom had taken my sister and I out to Lodi to visit our grandparents.

Grandma wanted to pick raspberries and she and I went out to the brambles to pick carrying 5 gallon vanilla ice cream buckets.

I remember my sister mostly ate the raspberries.

I ate quite a few too, but I liked to see how they gathered and grew in heaps and piles, the luxurious spill of berries a kind of abundance I didn’t often see in my life.

We picked for a while, quiet and serious and when my grandmother deemed we had enough for whatever project she was working on, we brought the berries back to the kitchen to be washed in the sink.

She scooped up a big bowl of them for my sister and I, one bowl for each of us, poured milk over the top of them and then sprinkled them with sugar.

I don’t think I have every eaten anything so glorious and simple and intoxicating in all the rest of my life.

I can taste them still.

Perhaps that’s why I haven’t much bothered with them since.

When one has had the pen ultimate tasting experience of an object most other things pale in comparison.

Sort of like my grandfather’s sweet corn, nary a corn on the cob since has done his justice.

I am lucky to have this appreciation for simple things.

The pure joy of a small bowl of warm just off the vine raspberries, cool, creamy milk, and a heaping teaspoon of fine granulated sugar, C&H Cane sugar, in the white paper bag with the pink label and blue ribbon badge with white writing.

Somethings, small things, are utter simple and glorious in their perfection.

I think that bowl of raspberries is what heaven tastes like.

I had tears prick at my eyes when I ate that first raspberry.

I felt the grass of my grandparents back yard underneath my bare feet, I could see my grandmother’s kitchen, I could taste the cold water from the tap, they had their own well and the water there, the best in the world, seriously, I could feel the breeze coming in through the big screened in windows in the dining room.

I could almost hear the laughter of my mom and aunts smoking cigarettes on the front porch in the big aluminum lawn chairs, waving at passing cars and gossiping about the rest of the family that wasn’t there.

I could feel  the moment pass as I sat at the table drawing with my charges, I did not try to hold onto it, it will come back when I need it, this beautiful thing, my sweet memory that colored the rest of my day.

It reminded me of my roots and also of that there were many, quite a few, moments of bliss in my childhood, simple, exquisite, and etched into my heart despite, or perhaps because of how hard things were at times, I appreciate so much when I got to experience beauty.

I still do.

Ah.

Perspective.

You got me again.

 

 

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18 Lbs Later

July 2, 2014

We went strawberry picking today.

18 lbs of strawberry picking.

I don’t think either one of us thought we were getting that much, there was the overwhelming urge to truck along the fields, bending and plucking and searching out underneath the green leaves for the sweet, fat, juicy berries, and the desire to fill the box outweighed everything else.

Until we took them up to the register.

Whoa.

I blame the size of the box and the glee in the fields.

Eyes bigger than our bellies.

And the bellies of three boys and one papa.

So as I type my friend is putting up strawberry jam.

The kitchen smells like heaven and as the night closes in, the warm scent lush in my nose, seduces me to dreaming of Wisconsin living.

The green, oh, the green.

The rain has been heavy here and by this time in the summer the temperatures should be higher, but it’s been cool and damp and wet.

Not raining so much as just overcast and thunder blue clouds thick with moisture looming over the country.

Makes for intense green, the verdant hills and trees and bushes rich in chlorophyll a back drop to memories and flashes to my grandparents in Lodi and my growing up in Windsor Wisconsin.

My friend and I stopped at a garden shop on the way back from strawberry picking and as we hopped out of the car I was overwhelmed with a scent I can only recall from my grandmother’s back yard.

I think it was the trumpeter vine or a kind of lily.

Whatever it was, I smelled it, and I had not smelled it since the last time I saw my grandfather alive in Lodi before the family had to place him in the assisted care home he eventually passed on in.

I was transported to the back yard of my grandparents home in Lodi and all the time I spent running around that back yard; the times spent with my grandmother picking raspberries off the vines in the garden, forefront in my mind.

I had raspberries all last week before I left for the trip, so grandma was on my mind, and now, being here, though it is not the land of my family, it is still Wisconsin, and it is not all that different.

The difference is the accent in the voices.

There’s a little more north in it.

Then too there is the unfamiliar and yet deeply familiar look of the land.

The trees, the grass, the rolling hills.

I wish I were more mobile.

In fact, slight sidebar, I am a little concerned about how not very mobile I am.

I got exhausted and perhaps in that exhaustion, the memories surfaced faster, thicker, harder.

I broke into tears on the down town walk back from pursuing a vintage antique mall and meandering through down town Hudson.

I don’t know that it was so much from the walking, but more so from the lack of sleep.

I realized after some time sitting still and elevating my ankle, that I have not slept that much the last two days and that added to my hobble about.

I am also wondering if perhaps the time for the boot has come to be removed.  The boot seems more a hinderance at this point than a help.

I shall see in the morning.

I suspect I will go to bed earlier than the 2 a.m. I lay down last night.

I suspect I may sleep longer than the 7:30 a.m. I got up.

Granted.

I did drift in and out lazy like for an hour and then joined my friends brood in her bed where we all cuddled and snuggled and drank some coffee planning out the day.

It was a good day.

A lovely day.

Lunch on the back deck area of the restaurant we went to was overlooking the St. Croix, the rain spat down  a few times on us, but the view was more arresting than the rain.

The company damn good too.

The town is gearing up for Booster days, the carnival opens tomorrow at 4p.m.

Not certain what the days plans are for the morrow.

I just plan on sleeping a bit more.

Eating more strawberries too.

I suspect I will have more memories from childhood dance around in my head as I catch the land rolling past me or smell the remnants of a late-blooming peony bush, these are lovely things.

My friend asked, as I suspect she always may, if I would consider moving back, or if San Francisco is my home.

I always feel the same thing, a mix of nostalgia, a deep need for the smells I associate with my child hood growing up, and also a desperate need to return back to the city by the Bay.

I could move here.

Were I laden with money to buy a house and a car and maintain them, a career of sorts that I could do here that would sustain me.

Perhaps I might.

The houses are beautiful, the land is comforting.

But.

No.

I am spoiled.

I love my San Francisco and don’t know that I could bear to part with her.

For despite the memories, of which there are many, and despite the depth of my love from my friend, (the depths are deep) I have too, an abiding love in my California roots.

I was born there and my first memories are from the Bay Area.

If memory serves than and home is where the heart is, San Francisco’s sweet lulling song will continue to wile me into its bosom of fog horn and sea air.

I will always be a Californian girl with Midwestern roots.

I get to have the best of both worlds.

Fortunate for me.

Both places have strawberries.

 

 

 

 

All the Bunnies Go Boom*

April 16, 2014

I mean, what else would all the bunnies do?

I am betwixt a rock and an Easter basket.

I just realized, even though I sort of knew, that this Sunday is Easter.

Not got a plan for that one.

I could re-enact a great scene or seven from my child hood wherein I hide my Easter basket in a hideously hard place to find it, then torment myself for not being able to find it, then eat all the chocolate in it when, in tears I finally locate the fucking thing.

Thanks mom for many memories of Easter trauma.

Not too closely followed thereafter by fond memories of being in kindergarten and having mom break the news that there is no Santa Claus.

I had already suspected, but my younger sister was abjectly heartbroken.

To give my mom some credit she was just trying to ease the pain of us watching our cousin, whom we happened to live with at the time, opening the largess of Christmas from the mom and the recently separated dad, pending a divorce, both parents had gone over the top for their solo offsprings affection.

Nothing says good times like having just turned six the week before, don’t remember at all if I did get a birthday present that year, and then watching my cousin rip into her presents on Christmas morning.

I can even remember the dingy fawn colored carpeting of the steps that my sister and I sat on that ascended from the living room to the upstairs bedrooms.

Bedrooms I did not have access to either.

My room was a mattress in the basement.

We didn’t have a lot as kids.

Mom had a room that she must have shared with my sister, my aunt had her own room and my cousin had, of course, her own domicile, which was smashed with Barbie’s and Barbie corvettes and Barbie Dream Houses and Barbie shoes, and more crap all Barbie.

And the gigantic, SOLID chocolate Easter bunny she had won at the Easter egg hunt in Warner park that Spring.

My sister and I got to sit and watch that too.

The torture of a child eating chocolate in front of two other little kids who don’t have any is horrid.

Watching my cousin savor that chocolate for over a week drove me to distraction and I think my sister to tears more than once.

If life was fair my sister and I would have found that god damn chocolate egg with the congratulations you won the whole damn egg hunt before it even started.

I mean.

She really did.

My cousin that is.

We walked out into the field, had just barely begun, wasn’t more than a minute, children flocking all around, scrambling to burrow through the bushes, it was cold, not snowing, but frosty, and grey overcast (if it doesn’t snow around Easter there’s something wrong, it typically does, the weather gets all cheeky, then either the weekend before or the week of Easter, it snows, at least according to my memory), my cousin hadn’t walked more than five feet when she bent over and plucked the plastic egg from the grass.

The winning egg.

Repeat sad face of Christmas when my sister and I watched from the stairs.

I think my sister might have won a little prize too, maybe a package of dusty yellow peeps, that were promptly eaten in the car on the way home, while my cousin sat proper and straight holding the biggest chocolate bunny in the world in her lap.

She didn’t even unwrap the thing.

The willpower.

Not something I have ever been able to muster.

Surrender.

Oh yes.

But willpower, like that?

No.

The fact that she eked out eating that bunny for over a week still amazes me.

My basket, little chocolate bunny, not a solid one, mind you, a few smatterings of jelly beans (hate jelly beans, never liked them, gross candy along with licorice) and I think one Cadbury egg cream.

I loved Cadbury eggs.

Gimme!

My sister’s basket might have lasted into the next day.

Needless to say, Easter in my house was never that much fun, although, my mom, in hindsight really fucking tried.

We always dyed Easter eggs.

With Paas Easter Egg coloring kits.

With the little wire egg holder and the little paper cut outs of bunnies and chicks.

I can remember the smell of the vinegar that my mom would mix with the Easter egg dye.

And then dipping the eggs and making stripes.

The eggs drying in the kitchen.

And then after we went to bed, my mom would hide the eggs.

Easter morning the hunt was on.

For the Easter baskets of course, but also for the eggs, and inevitably, I mean every year, one would not turn up.

Until weeks later.

And you knew where it was from the smell of it.

Whew.

My sister and I never ate the eggs.

Only mom.

I remember watching her peel an egg with a very satisfied expression on her face, the shell crackling down as she rolled it along the table top, then the shells falling away and the egg emerging a gray, brown, weird red or blue-green, from the dye soaking through the shell, and then she would put salt and a little pepper on it and eat it with the most smug look on her face.

It smelled awful.

Funny how much I like a good boiled egg now.

Not so much then.

It grossed me out.

I liked the hunt.

The adventure of finding was more appealing than the actual reward that was given, if any.

I don’t think we got more candy for finding the eggs, it was just the finding of the eggs.

And the basket.

I usually found my sister’s first, and would grouse about how easy my mom had hidden it.

Please, mom, in the oven, again?

Then I would become more and more morose as my own failed to appear and my sister happily gnawed on peeps.

Also an absurd candy that icks me out.

I don’t recall this, but according to family legend one year I found both my sister and my Easter baskets before anyone else was up and I ate all the candy in both.

Oops.

So, mom always made a point of hiding mine in the most challenging of spots.

The year my cousin won her foot high solid chocolate Easter bunny I had almost given up, it had taken hours and I still had not found it.

Only when I went digging for my mittens in the wicker hamper holding all the scarves and mittens and hats, did I find it.

Remember, Easter’s cold in Wisconsin.

I need my mittens to go out and I couldn’t find both, so I dug to the bottom, nearly toppling over the hamper, when my fingers grazed the handle of the basket.

At last!

Finally.

I burst into tears.

My mom and my aunt smoking cigarettes and drinking instant coffee in the kitchen laughed out loud at my cries of relief.

I could let go Santa, but I was having a hard time letting go the Easter Bunny.

I don’t have any plans to go hunting through the grass this weekend.

But maybe I will go out and get myself a little Easter gift.

Perhaps a new bonnet.

We used to get one of those too.

That was the best part for me, the new Easter hat my sister and I always got.

That’s what I remember the most.

My sister with her long dark hair in ring curls topped with a straw boater hat that had a black ribbon around it tied into a bow–the ends of the bow draped over the back of the hat and moved with it when she shook her head, and she was dressed in a white sailor dress with a navy ribbon square lined collar,  lace ankle socks and patent leather mary janes finished the look.

That’s my best Easter memory.

Getting ready to go to Easter Sunday dinner at my grandparents house in Lodi and my sister in her Easter bonnet rig.

And despite the poverty of it, looking back, it was exactly what it was supposed to be.

I had a perfect childhood, give or take a chocolate bunny, given enough time and perspective.

It was indeed a grand life.

*No rabbits, chocolate or otherwise, were harmed in the writing of this blog.*

 

Restored

January 11, 2014

To sanity.

One could say that is always on my mind.

Restoration.

Never knew how crazy I was until it stopped.

Or I was willing to listen to what others had to say about the whole thing and take some basic suggestions and voila!

Sanity.

Or some bright semblance of.

I believe I am still cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, however, it’s a kind of crazy I have been busy treating for the last 8 years and some odd days.  I can sort of take it to the bank because I have been taught how to treat it.

Just like I did today.

Took my paychecks to the bank and took the money I owed Barnaby to Barnaby.

I like that, see that sentence just there, it’s in the past tense.

“OWED.”

I don’t owe him money more.

The debt has been paid and it’s done.

So nice.

I rather enjoy being accountable and taking care of business and I am grateful to not have any more of that debt over my head.

It was good to see Barnaby again as well, give him a quick hug, he was in the middle of doing a tattoo, so I did not stay long, just long enough to say I needed to see him when I got back to San Francisco because I have a need for some fresh ink.

I have a couple of stars to add to the seven on the left side of my neck.

“What happens when you have 50 years of sobriety,” my best friend asked me when I got five butterflies on my shoulder to acknowledge the anniversary.

“Will you have 50 butterflies?”  She asked, half serious, half in jest.

“I might,” I said with a smile.

Heck, at that time I had only one sleeve, not two, and I did not have any idea that I was going to have the tattoos I currently have.  Although I did know I would have more.  I still know I will have more, and yup, not particularly positive what they will be either.

Just that I will be adding a couple stars to my small galaxy.

I gave Barnaby another hug, pulled out the envelope (that just happened to be in some stationary that I bought at a book shop while out with Barnaby one day wandering through bookshop stalls in Paris) that I had put the cash in, said thank you, and I will call when  I get back.

Then I hopped on the bike and headed down to Photo Works to pick up the restored photograph.

$165.18 and a few tears later I have the original photo and the three restored prints in my possession.

Original

Original

Restored

Restored

I felt overwhelmed with joy.

I don’t know how it works, I really don’t, but it does.

To see the photograph restored seemed a sign of my family being restored to me.

And I did not realize until I looked at the photograph again that it was not my grandparents wedding!

No.

It was my great grand parents wedding photo.

Which made it even more special.

Levi and Dolly.

If I have children that will be their names.

No more French names (Madeleine, Ophelie, I am still partial to those sweet names, I am, but) for me.

Nope.

I felt something stir in my heart, sweet, and kind and it’s funny I am slightly distracted as I write this, the photographs on the back ground of my computer screen are from my first week in Paris, which seems to add a sense of poignancy to the entire endeavor as well.

How far I have come to go back home.

Pictures.

A story that I am a part of, a narrative that continues to grow and surprise me with its abundance and depth and detail.

I don’t know a lot of my family history.

A smattering here and there.

I know that Dolly and Levi barely knew each other, according to my mom, it was just this side of a pre-arranged marriage.  I know that we used to go to their house in Lodi on Christmas Eve after mass at the Catholic church in downtown Lodi.

I will always remember how drowsy I felt and how hard I tried to stay up to partake of all the goodies in the house and how it smelled so good, like gingerbread and spice and how I never made it.

I always fell asleep.

I don’t know that I could have been more than four or five in that memory.

I just remember the house, the warmth of it, the smell and the nest of coats on the bed covered in a chenille throw.

I don’t know if I burrowed into the stack of coats, but I think it’s a good possibility.

I do remember going back out into the cold and getting settled bleary with sleep into the back seat, the glow of the house lights falling on the snow, the frost on the window in the back seat, lacy and thick, the shroud of a cloud passing over the bright full moon and then asleep.

Gone.

I know too that my mom has very fond memories of her grandparents and lived with them after an accident she had when she was a little girl and had a long, slow convalescence after falling into a furnace.

She had severe burns all over her legs and still to this day has the clear, tight, skin of a burn victim in splotches on her legs that I never thought unsightly, even though I could see the veins below her skin and the skin seem so tight and translucent over her legs.

They were just my moms legs and they were comforting to me.

So, with a full, achy heart this evening, I returned from my travels about having made a pit stop at 7th and Irving for an hour, then home on the bike, the fog so heavy it was like riding through soup, to unload my treasures.

I framed my copy of the print.

I have my mom’s and my sister’s copy ready to go for the trip as well as the disc that the photograph is on.  I am going to download it to my computer to have it in my own files.  Then give it to my mom so that she can make copies for any of her siblings if she should want.

Restoration was not what I was looking for nine years ago.

I just wanted it to stop.

Stop it did.

And it continues to amaze me.

Fulfill me.

And fill me.

I have been given so much.

Grace.

 

Wash the Dishes

December 26, 2013

Wrap it up.

Bid adieu to Christmas.

Well, not quite, it’s still here, it’s still happening, the day has not quite ended, but I am back at the house sitting gig, my hands slightly softened from washing the dinner dishes at my friend’s house, the cat fed, the garbage taken out and another Christmas for me, put almost to bed.

A day of reflection and gratitude and sunshine.

Warm sunshine.

I took a walk this afternoon after doing my routine, that’s the nice thing about a routine, no matter what day of the year, I do it.

I don’t break away from it for my birthday or Christmas, or any other special occasion, I used to think that I could not afford to, but now I know that I do not want to.

My life, in great part, evolves because of the time I take in the morning to write, read, sit and be still, eat a good breakfast, and be settled in myself before going out into any day, any situation.

Christmas, then, being no exception.

Well, excepting I slept in a little.

The cat did wake me up to feed her, but I went back to bed after I did and that was luxurious and the nice hot shower after I woke up was lovely and the nice leisurely breakfast and writing and meditation.

Actually, said cat disrupted said meditation.

I was sitting in the big stuffed chair by the window in the back room, one of the only places the house gets any direct light, and there is a cat tree next to the chair.

About five, six minutes into my nice warm silent get right with God, the cat started washing it’s paws.

Yick.

Have you ever heard a cat clean it’s paws?

RASP, slurp, click, click, click (chewing it’s toenails), slurp, RASP.

Oh my god.

I stopped meditating right then and there.

But I received what I needed and I needed to get outside for a while, so I strolled up and down Dolores Street, enjoying the sunshine, the palm trees, the lack of traffic, the plethora of parking, and the occasional greeting being shouted out by other folks on their way to or from their holiday gatherings.

“Merry Christmas!”

He shouted, weaving around the sidewalk, “Merry, Merry, Merry!”

I crossed over to the other side of the street, definitely not engaging.

Although, I did find myself relaying a brisk, cheerful and bright “Merry Christmas” to a couple underneath the highway overpass who were torching up some rock.

It just sort of popped out.

And it was a better interaction than I had feared.

Which, all in all, most of my interactions are, even when awkward.

I think they are going to be awful, but they end up being fine, or good, or even great.

I don’t like taking CA Bike Route 25 because of that underpass, but it’s the only way to navigate Bayshore and it was the only way to go unless I wanted to go more than a mile or two out of my way and up and over Bernal Hill, and I still would have had to be on part of the wonky anyhow.

Made my hyper grateful that I was just there “visiting” that I did not have to take that kind of bicycle commute again.

I knew the underpass from years ago when I briefly worked in the Bay View wholesale vegetable and fruit markets doing some real basic data entry at wholesale market that a room-mate worked at.

I disliked the commute then, and I didn’t fare so well this time, but I got back and forth in one piece and the middle was lovely.

The house was warm and smelled amazing, in fact, it might just be the best meal I have had at the holidays in the last nine years.  The host had made the majority of the food to all the dietary restrictions of her guests–sugar and gluten-free–for all the mains and side dishes.

I had an amazing, beautifully cooked, home cooked, abstinent meal.

Now that is a Christmas miracle.

Of course there was amazing dessert for all, but I partook of  an adorable little raw fruit plate my darling host set down at my side without even asking.

I felt sweetly spoiled and taken care of.

That’s what the holidays for me are about and what, in my opinion, I miss about them from an earlier time.  Christmas was holy, special, a day were things weren’t open and places were shut down, where Christmas Eve was about the grandparents house and you had to make plans.

That it was not instant, effort was made, and when the effort wasn’t made it was really obvious.

The effort was made tonight and I felt really honored.

I also felt like I needed to show my gratitude and help where I could.

Which meant before the meal basically lighting candles, and having catch up conversation with old friends who had moved over to the East Bay.

But after the meal, meant washing the dishes.

And I don’t know what it was and I don’t know why I had my Christmas moment there, but that’s where I had it.

Normally, I have my Christmas moment in front of my Christmas tree at night watching it with the lights off, I get swept with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and rightness coupled with sweet nostalgia for all past Christmas trees.

This time it was over the dish pan.

Maybe it was the little kids, three of them, two boys and a girl all around three years old, being coaxed to say “Merry Christmas,” for the camera.

Maybe it was the pattern of flowers on the eggshell china.

Maybe it was the smell of the meal being wrapped up and put away for delicious left overs or the wife of a friend saying, “let me get a dish towel, I’ll dry.”

But suddenly, I was in the kitchen at my grandparents house in Lodi washing dishes over the sink, looking out the back window at the golden light falling onto the snow from the bay window in dinning area, listening to my aunts gently gossip, my hands plunged in the water, washing a plate, being quietly swept up into the adult dramas as the younger cousins sat huddled impatiently around the Christmas tree waiting to unwrap presents.

Dinner dishes always were done before the presents on Christmas Eve were opened.

And I was there, in Lodi, in Wisconsin, smelling the turkey and ham, hearing the fire crackle, listening to my uncles talk gruffly with my grandfather and wishing I hadn’t had the sticky popcorn ball my grandfather had made–dyed either bright red or bright green, wrapped in clear cellophane, made with thick, gooey heavy corn syrup, heated up, then mixed up with the popcorn that my grandfather grew–and yet, I can still taste it and am grateful to it.

Rituals.

Traditions.

Routines.

They bind me to who I am and where I came from.

I can never decide if I am more Californian, having been born here, raised my first formative years here, having spent nearly the last eleven years in here.

Or Wisconsin, having moved there at the age of 5 and staying, with a few detours, for almost 25 years.

I suppose I am a mix of both and I can be grateful for that too.

As I navigated the pee smelling streets and passed the crack couple having their holiday hits, I realized that I can perhaps make a hybrid of the two parts of me here, that I started by allowing myself a Christmas tree this year.

Maybe next year I make some traditions for me.

Or I visit Hudson, Wisconsin.

If I want a taste of that Midwestern thing.

That’s something to think about next year.

For tonight, a cup of tea, a cuddle with the cat, Downton Abbey’s Christmas Special, and I say thank you Father Christmas, it’s been a wonderful day.

Thank you, too to my friends who made sure I was included all the day long.

I feel loved and that, any day, Christmas, or otherwise, is a gift.

 

 

All The Pretty Lights

December 24, 2013

“Slow down,” I told myself, as I navigated the Wiggle back “home”.

Home, is where the house sit is.

I was up at 7th and Irving after work taking care of a commitment and having some last-minute check ins with some ladies, good to have service to keep me steady no matter where I lay my pillow.

But I am ready to have home be my home again.

Out at the edge of the sea.

Where it is warmer.

This house, though more than quadruple the size of the place where I live is constantly cold, it gets little to no direct sunlight and is an interior apartment, it stays cold.

Plus, like so many of the older Victorians in the city, it does not have insulation.

Even on nights when it is not that chilly out, it feels cold.

Oh, boohoo, I can hear my friends from Northern Wisconsin pipe up.

But, if you think about it, no one, and I mean no one is sitting in a house in Wisconsin that registers the same temperature as the outside temp here.

Nope, most folks like there interior domicile to probably be around 68-70 degrees Farenheit.

This place does have lovely gas heaters in the old fireplaces in the front and back rooms, so at least when I am in the bedroom the warmth sticks and me and the kitty can get cozy.

Of course, the internet it is not working so good from the back or front room.

Haha.

So, I am in the kitchen with the chilly air, no heater in here, nope.

Oh well.

I at least chatted with the guys who I am sitting for and got the television on, it had to be reset, so it wasn’t just a matter of turning it on and off, but once I did, I spent close to fifteen minutes scrolling up and down the 700 plus channels.

Nothing to watch.

Nothing to see.

Screw that.

I turned it off and realized what a time suck just that was.

I could have been nearly done with my blog and already enjoying my evening snack and finishing up Bad Santa.

Oh my god.

So fucking bad, so fucking good.

Billy Bob Thornton is fucking brilliant.

I am about half way through, and truth be told I may wait until after Christmas to continue watching it, it’s a little dark, but I am glad I downloaded it.

Tonight instead of the 700 plus channels of dreck, I shall be watching a Downton Abbey Christmas special.

Now that is up my alley.

I will also try to down load another version of Elf, the one I got was not good quality, that and Holiday Inn.

My plans seem to be holding steady for the holiday, but who knows what may happen, God laughs when I make plans.

Tomorrow I am working until 2p.m. then I am off for the rest of Christmas Eve and Christmas day.

I am off to the Ferry Building, off to Sausalito, off to take photographs of the skyline from across the bay.  Off to eat oysters from Hog Island when I get back from the ferry ride and there’s a very good probability that I will hit a 7:05 p.m. movie at the Embarcadero Theater.

Either 12 Years a Slave.

Or The Dallas Buyers Club.

Leaning more toward the latter.

But I’m just going to play it by ear.

Same for Christmas, although my plan is a little more concrete.

I will meet my lady friend Beth at 2900 24th Street at Florida, hit a cafe for some coffee, either Philz or Haus, or SugarLump, whichever happens to be open, I think Philz is typically open until about 2pm, if memory serves.

Then hang out for a little bit and after ward ride our bicycles over to Christmas dinner with friends.

Simple.

Easy.

Hoping that I won’t stick my faulty agenda in there anywhere and just show up.

Half the battle, that, just showing up.

I do that fairly well.

The city is empty and when I did slow my roll down, following the arrows on the street unconsciously along the bike route, I spent a lot more time looking up and out at the houses, the pretty Christmas lights and how people had decorated their homes.

I felt extraordinarily grateful to be looking at and appreciating all the pretty lights.

One of my favorite games over the holidays was one I played with my sister when we were on road trips to and from Milwaukee for my step-fathers family Christmas, or to and from Lodi for my mother’s family Christmas.

I much preferred the trip to Lodi, although there were not nearly as many lights, Milwaukee being a city and Lodi a tiny town of 2,200, maybe 2,300 folks.

I would stare out my side of the window into the dark inky indigo night speckled with stars, God’s Christmas lights, and count the strands adorning the homes as they flashed into view taking this turn or that as we headed from my grandparents home back to Windsor.

Sometimes it was very, very, very cold and it felt as though the world was under a glass dome of ice, but I always remember getting used to it.

The only time I believe I ever felt scared about the cold was my sophomore year in highschool, the school district actually shut down for two or three days, the temperature with wind chill registered at -70 to -75 degrees Farenheit.

I remember that cold.

It was deep and hit fast.

The dog did not want to go out to pee.

I did not want to outside to walk the dog.

It was a chore to get to the mailbox.

I remember sitting huddled on the couch in what we called the library, and had we any money it might have been, but it was more like the only room in the house that we could possibly keep moderately warm.

My room might as well have been outside.

I was beneath the attic and my closet door opened to the attic door which opened up a flight of non-insulated stairs.

I could see my breath when I walked in my room and my parents never let me leave the door open to collect any of the heat that might be rising from the downstairs.

It was Siberia.

When my mother and step-father divorced, my mom actually took the room and I moved into her old one.

Not nearly as cold.

In fact, I don’t remember being cold in that room, I remember being warm and that is where so much of my adult person seems to have been raised.

I am still quite childlike and I still tend to listen to the little kid in me that is nervous about not having enough, even though I completely do, I have so much.

I was admiring the lights, thinking of all the gifts in my life and sailing around the corner of the street, Christmas is here and though I don’t know how it’s supposed to all go down, to plan or not to plan, it’s here and I am grateful that though it is a little chilly in my abode, it ain’t no -70.

Wishing all my friends and family in colder climbs warm cheery hearths and loads of love as the Christmas day approaches, I am thinking of you with so much love in my heart.

Well, I am not cold anymore.

Artist Date, Artist Walk, Farmer’s Market

May 7, 2011

My morning plans were switched up on me when I got a call from Cass last night on my way to my first rehearsal for the play I agreed to be in.  Cass had to cancel our meeting and I decided that after the day I had at work, that I was going to sleep in.  That meant, 9 a.m.  And when I normally get up at 6:30 a.m., this is sleeping in.

I lay in bed for a while feeling lazy, but even though I went to bed late last night, I was a little hyped with the coffee I drank at rehearsal, I was ready to get up and go about my day.  Although I had no clear-cut idea about what my morning and early afternoon was going to look like.  After a leisurely breakfast and a cup of coffee I did some writing, my daily long hand three pages, and decided that I would take myself on an artist date and an artist walk.

I haven’t been on an artist date in a little while and it felt nice to set aside the time for me to spend time with me.  I had been harboring thoughts of going to Rainbow this morning and getting my weekly shopping out-of-the-way, but truly, I wasn’t feeling like getting on my bike.  I will tomorrow, but today, I just wanted to walk.  So, a journey down the hill to the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero was called for.

I love that I can walk from my studio in Nob Hill to the Ferry Building in 25 minutes.  And this at a slow pace.  Not as slow as when I’m pushing the girls around in the stroller, but a nice moving pace.  Fast enough to get around the tourists clumped up around the corners as I entered into China Town, but slow enough to enjoy the wind on my face and the to take in the little minutiae of the walk.

I also like how I get to have layers of memories stacked up one upon the other as I have more experiences with the neighborhood I’m walking through.  My first time through China Town as an adult was in March of 2000.  I was with my friend Brian and we wandered all over China Town.  I was visiting from Madison and staying out in Berkeley. It was my first time back to San Francisco since I had left as a child.

I bought a T’ai Chi jacket, as I was studying martial arts at that time and working on learning a T’ai Chi form.  I ate steamed pork buns and crispy egg rolls.  I laughed at the sushi shop that tourists were going into, go to Japan Town folks! We went into the Sweet Shop on Washington St. next to the park and bought weird candy.  And I got a rubber bounce ball from one of the vending machines outside the store.  At the corner of the street I would bounce the ball and whatever direction it bounced was the way we would go.  This is how I traversed China Town.

And now, ironically enough, I live on Washington St.  I remember my day with Brian as I rambled past the Sweet Shop and on down toward the Embarcadero.  Then I passed Washington Park, where one day Calvin and I were driving back from having had burgers at Taylor’s (now Gott’s) and I saw a flock of the wild parrots.  Then I saw a man standing with his daughter and a bag of bird seed and the parrots were flying all around them in a bright nimbus of colors.  I demanded that Calvin pull over so that I could look.

We hopped out of his car and went to investigate.  The man, said, here try it, it’s amazing.  I cupped my hands in front of me and he dumped a bunch of bird seed into it and there after I had parrots all up and down my arms.  I actually had a couple on my head too.  I was stunned, standing there in the park covered with parrots.  How amazing is my life?

After the park I crossed over the Embarcadero, catching a brief conversation about the ice rink in the park that is there every holiday season.  I went skating there two December’s ago to celebrate my birthday and fund raise for the Aids Life Cycle.  Fifteen wonderful friends came out and we shared German Chocolate Cake with a little girl whose birthday it also happened to be.  I don’t eat sugar, so I gave her my piece.  I had not been ice skating since going with my ex-boyfriend Justin and his friend Naboysha one very cold winter in Madison.  We went to the Tenney park lagoon and warming house and I strapped on ice skates for the first time, at that time, in probably a decade. It was now another decade later. Funny, time really is starting to move faster for me.

Then I was at the Ferry Building.  I took my time and walked around the entire market.  I had the morning free for me, and frankly I’m pretty damn good company, so I really checked out all the stalls.  I still spent a lot more than I had planned on, but I got the most gorgeous goodies.  My first purchases were baby dill pickles.  I wasn’t planning on doing any pickling or canning, which is what they are really good for, but just plan old eating.  Baby cucumbers are so damn tasty, I never get to the pickling part with them.  Then a bundle of flowers, a bunched head of curly headed parsley (for my soup, another batch will be in the offing tomorrow–I’m starting to think about actually truly canning it and setting it up.  I like giving it away to my friends–Joan, Scott, Pell, and Tami have all gotten had it), one beautiful heirloom tomato, a huge bag of organic Pink Lady Apples (the closest thing I can find to the apples that we grew in the orchard behind the house in Windsor–Cortland–but although, I have bought Cortland apples out here, they aren’t the same as the ones back in Wisconsin, Pink Ladies tend to come closer to the flavor profile for me), a bag of home made corn tortilla chips, and one stunning little basket of raspberries–the first of the season.  Literally, only one stall had them.

And the minute I popped one into my mouth I had to have a basket.  Raspberries aren’t truly a favorite, I prefer stone fruits and apples, probably even bananas more, but they serve my memory.  Putting a fresh picked raspberry in my mouth always, and I mean always transports me back to the coolness of air in my grandma Munz’s kitchen.  I have one specific memory of picking a white plastic pail with a wire handle full of raspberries from the vines growing in my grandpa’s garden.  The bucket was an old 5 gallon Scheopps ice cream pail.  And it took a long time to fill.

Partially because I would put a lot of the berries in my mouth, partially, just because it was big.  I can feel the earth under my feet.  I was bare foot.  I could hear my grandmother nattering with my mom.  My sister was in the house watching tv.  The sun was starting to get hot and the grass always felt so delicious after paddling around in the dirt.  I walked the full pail back through the yard, into the back door of the garage, cool cement now on my feet, then up the two cement steps to the screen door leading into the kitchen.

That screen door was always open, even when my grandparents were not there.  I can tell you of numerous times when I was driving through Lodi on my way to Devil’s Lake and I would stop.  Often times, I must confess, if the my grandparents car wasn’t there.  Sometimes I just needed a pit stop and a quick swoop through the garden and a cup of water from the kitchen sink.  There water was the best in the world, from their own well, sunk deep in granite.  Pure, cold, minerally.

When I set that bucket of raspberries on the counter I could feel the breezed coming in through the kitchen window, I ran the tap water until it was cold and icy from the well, and drank a big cup out of the green pebbled cups in the left hand side cup board.  I had a favorite glass I always used.  Then my grandmother washed off the berries and gave me a big bowl which she sprinkled with sugar and poured cold milk over.  I sat down at the table and drank another cup of water and ate those raspberries.

The milk would be tinged pink by the time I was done, then I picked up the bowl and drank the pink sugar milk.  Raspberries remind me of my grandmother and they probably always will.

I caught the California Cable car line back up the hill from the farmer’s market giddy with anticipation to have my lunch.  I ate a beautiful raw marinated vegetable salad–the heirloom tomato, the baby cucumbers, as well as one sweet carrot (from the Wednesday Farmer’s Market at UCSF’s campus), and 1/2 a cup of broccoli which I dressed with fig infused balsamic vinaigrette and olive oil, sea salt, fresh black pepper, fresh rosemary and a little dried basil.  This was accompanied by a handful of the tortilla chips, 1/2 a pint of the raspberries and 1 of the pink lady apples and a little piece of L’amuse aged Gouda I had gotten at Rainbow last week.  My tummy is happy and full.

My heart is thankful and my life is blessed.


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