Wednesday, June 29, 2011


    She and I are walking towards the building with multipane widows
       covered in green curtains that do not let me know what is behind them

     We walk inside a door, like the kind at any store up and down
        the town we live in, glass which you push firmly to open

    The room has young adults sitting on vinyl couches and chairs
        it feels like a time long ago when drive-ins and soda fountains were around

     They look at us, the mother tall and proud, the child meek and timid,
         they look at us as we walk past the desks off to the side of a room that feels too long

     The man has a grey hair with a white short beard, I sense kindness 
         the polite greeting of my mom and he while I stand mute and lost

     The room is emptied, just us three, and I am taller, she is older and less of presence
         the question and answer begin and I am getting taller and stronger

     My voice builds with longing of what I missed
        "I missed you mom.  I missed you wanting me when I got older".

      She has become rigid and uncomfortable, her words I can not hear
         only her lips and mouth open and close, tightness when pressed together.

      "I couldn't be me, I had to be what you wanted.  You wouldn't let me breathe".
          Words fall from my mouth like alphabet soup letters, forming sentences and phrases.

       I see around me the slow fading in of the young adults that have begun to appear.
           Their faces supporting me as they become clearer, eyes on me not her

       The scene like a celluloid movie, that flickers and displays a scene of us
            "I am your mother, I know what is best for you"

       The man speaks to her, "She is not for you to keep tucked in a drawer".
             I am growing and she is aging as the film continues on the reel.

        Is it dark or light,  the colors are faded,  flashes of brightness and the room
            is real once more,  the young adults are smiling 

         My mother is old and weak, she is sad at her loss of control over me
             "You are wrong, she needs me" her words are desperate

         The man talks gently to her even though she repels his words
               For once I am forgiven for being me, by a man who listened

          The room of young adults has come to life, the child I was walks towards the door
                 her pure white ankle socks on chubby legs runs

          I push through to bright sunlight
                  the sound of the reel clicks, clicks, clicks


        * I had a dream last night of this.  So oddly it floated to my head.  We had watched a show on PBS of film making where I think the flash of celluloid came from.  The ankle socks from my friend Lori who shared a photo from her childhood wearing while ankle socks.  The constant theme of my mom and I and my struggle to be loved by her unconditionally.   The man represented the therapist we went to back in 2004.  He did not help "us" during that time but thankfully in my dream he did.

          So relieved to have written this down before it was lost on the day.  I did not turn on music knowing that the sound of songs would erase my thoughts.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Get thee to the Farmer's Market and make this!

        Apricots are ripe and ready to do any number of delicious things with.  I already made jam and decided to use the last ones to make an Apricot Crisp.  This was go to your nearest Farmers Market and buy some deep orange Apricots and make will not be disappointed.
        Have you tried the new Black Velvet variety of Apricots yet?  They are dark purple black on the outside with a variegated orange with red inside.  The ones I found were not big but they were yummy!

                              Apricot Crisp

1 pound fresh apricots
3 T. sugar
1 T. flour
a pinch of nutmeg and a pinch of cardomon

Crisp topping:
1/2 stick butter, melted
4 T. turbinado sugar
1/2 C. old fashion oatmeal
1/2 C. all purpose flour
pinch of salt

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Wash, pat dry and cut apricots in half and remove pit (no need to peel).  Slice into chunks (I did 1/2 inch size chunks).  Spray a small baking dish (8 x 8) and place cut apricots in.  Add sugar, flour and spices and stir in.

To make topping, melt butter.  In a small bowl add sugar, flour, oats, and salt.  Stir in melted butter.  Sprinkle mixture over the apricots.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until just lightly browned. 

*note:  I did reduce the sugar amount in the topping from 6 T. to 4 since I thought that seemed a bit much.  Also I would check it to make sure it it not over browning.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Mothering, what does it mean mothering? 

To be a mother is the most important unselfish act a woman can do.  It is the most terrifying, fear ridden, heart stopping, nail biting, demanding, sleepless journey.  It is the most absorbing, life-altering, soul searching, moving, love fest ever.

I am in transition.  Like in giving birth I feel I am in transition.  I thought when I gave birth that stage was unyeilding and overwhelming but now in my fifties this transition seems to put me in that state of confusion and fear of going forward.  I can't stop going forward to my next stage of being a woman, I have to go with confidence knowing that on the other side of this step will be a calm or an acceptance of my new stage in life.  The contractions of my mothering now is to allow myself to let my grown children be.  To understand that they are no longer in need of my protection like when they were children.  They need to make the mistakes that I tried to shield them from because I knew what the outcome would be.  No, now I must watch their highs in life and their lows.  I must be constant and supportive.  I must learn to hold my tongue yet hold my arms open and let them discover their own journey in life.  If I fight this, I can feel the beat in my heart thump faster and fear sets in.  The mother warning lights begin to flash.  My arms, my wings want to gather and hold them though I know this to be unwise.  Did I not teach my children while young, of life?  Did I not share daily as we played, read, lived what to understand of life they might encounter?  Hold my hand while we cross the street, careful how high you climb because you will need to climb down without falling but I am here to catch you if you do fall, knives are sharp and scissors are too. 

In giving birth to my babies, that stage of transition was what appeared to be an insurmountable wave that kept getting higher and higher.  Each contraction brought more instability and undermined my true faith in giving birth.   Just when I felt I couldn't go on, that I couldn't let my body do what it knew how to because I thought it was too hard, too painful, it was "too" everything, the shift came.  The calm of being at last over the wave, into the calm, brought back to the shore.  The next wave I knew I could handle because my babes tiny sphere of their crowning heads came to view and played with my heartstrings as they would appear and disappear, each contraction more closer to my arms, to my sense of smell and taste.  With a whoosh their emergence to welcome cries and a swift flow to my open arms.  That first kiss sealed our bond.  While their umbilical cord was cut and ceased to nourish them, my breasts inside called out for my mother's milk to flow.  That cry of a babe to begin the let down reflex, the tingle in my breasts,  where we once again were held together, no longer in utero, but our skin touching linking us forever.  I became the mother I was born to be.  As in love and fiercely protective as one could be.

Yet I had to let go of the babes.  I had to let them test their wings though it was hard.  My invisible hand and arm stretched out to hold on but I couldn't let them see that I wanted so much to hold them.  I wanted to sing my lullabies and rock them to and fro, the rhythm of the rocker that would became the beat of our hearts.  I had to let go with a smile and trusting knowledge that they could and would handle whatever obstacle that came to them.  My Love and I sometimes held each other with tears trickling down from our eyes to fall on our bed, the bed they were conceived upon, as we soothed ourselves knowing that those years of parenting were a gift that was of unimaginable measure.  Whatever would be, we all would ride the swells of waves in storm and calm.  

Now I am facing the ascension of age.  I find myself confused at times in observation of my relationship with my mother.  The woman who now openly talks of loving me in her limited way.  The woman who did not do this with conviction or my comprehension of feeling this.  I find myself mothering her.  How can this be?  It happens so naturally to do.  As though automatically my inner mothering emotion to care comes forth.  To be calming, gentle, loving to this failing woman, my mom.  The rise of fear to know that I am not on the threshold of youth but on the threshold of elderhood does not escape me.  I am not willing to step over yet to see the possibility of my being like my mother.  I do not want this.   And so I am thrust with transitional trepidation.  I fear to see her die, I fear to see the continuing progression of aging though I know I should not be.  It is all a part of that circle of life.  I cannot stop this circle but only ride it like the pangs of labor.  Not to always think of the difficult times but think of the blithesome times.  Perhaps not to even try to define this time but let it be.

My children, my darling children whom I adore, treasure, I only ask your patience to me while I take baby steps right now.  I am in no hurry as I was to see you learn to roll over, sit up, to walk then run.  I am in no hurry whatsoever.  Let me take my time and breathe in the wonders I let escape my view before.  Let me run my fingers, slowly over the petals of a rose, so soft like the feel of your baby skin so long ago.  Let me linger over a walk in the woods, to inhale the denseness of the wood there.  Watch the way the light falls between the limbs and leaves, to see the shadow play.  It is only now that I at last see such beauty with it's purity.  Before I would watch and listen as you each would run over the padded forest floor and hear your voices echo off the trees.  Now let me be.  Share this time with me.  All I ask is for you to hold my hand, let me feel your presence beside me, let me grow up because I am still doing this just as you are.  

Let me birth this woman inside me.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Being lonely

           I am on day three of being alone.

     I am not use to this at all.

     I have been married for almost 34 years (this July!) and my Love and I have almost, except for the two weeks he went to Mexico (who he and R. are with right now near Joshua Trees) but I had M. and R. at home at that time, so I really wasn't alone.  Now I am alone...A. L. O. N. E.....

     What have I been up to?  Oh much.  Let's see...on Thursday I went shopping.  Girl stuff.  Shoes...didn't find any.  I hate shoe shopping.  I did find some cute capris though.

     Thursday night I had it all planned to try a new recipe.  Oh I bought everything I needed at Whole Foods, stuff like Garbanza flour...what is garbanza flour?

 Garbanzo Flour is a protein-rich flour made from dried chick-peas (garbanzo beans). Oh...

     I came home and read the recipe at 6:00 PM and realized I couldn't fix that recipe tonight.  I saw it in Sunset Magazine called "Chickpea Cakes with Fava Leaves and Arugula Salad".  Sounded good and healthy and I wanted to make something I knew the boys wouldn't eat.  I couldn't find Fava Leaves so I substituted spinach leaves which was an option.  I decided since it would need to chill for awhile that I would start the recipe and have it the next night.  This is what it looked like before I put it in the fridge to chill.  I have to say I sampled the "dough" of chickpea flour and it tasted yucky.  I was hoping that once it was cooked it would taste wonderful.

    This put the other Sunset recipe up for dinner called "Spiced Lemon Quinoa".  I made some changes and would still make some other changes now that I have tried it.  It presented well and I enjoyed the flavor though it seemed dry.  

     I sat outside with the poochies as it was a lovely evening.  

     Friday found me off to visit my mom and then to do some errands afterwords.  Mission accomplished!  Did laundry and managed to change all the beds and wash Annie (my Golden poochie).  

     I was excited to try the Chickpea thing and took it out of the fridge.  The recipe told me to invert it onto a cutting board, where once inverted I am to slice into triangles and then I will lightly fry in olive oil.  My inverting went PLOP!  It did not firm up and was just disgusting.  I felt like I was cleaning up doggie vomit.  (Sorry for the graphic word.)  Dinner became fresh eggs from our hens, scrambled with toast and homemade strawberry jam.  Yeah!  I really wanted the eggs anyway.  Forget that recipe!

     I watched "So You Think You Can Dance" that we had on the DVR and then crawled into bed with Stewie.  It was breezy and the house was creaky.  I couldn't sleep and I kept seeing Stewie with his ears all perked up like he was hearing something.  Finally after a half hour I fell to sleep and Stewie went to his own bed.

    Today cleaned house.  I also realized I am not talking much.  Is this what happens when you are all alone?  I find myself (I do this anyway) talking to the dogs about what I am doing..."I'm going to vacuum the kitchen", "I'm going to clean the bathroom"...on and on...and I don't like that I have no "person" to talk to.  I miss my boys....   :(

     I decide that I am going to take out the old home movies and watch them.  The really old ones.  This is my desk and all my movie stuff out:

       I found that the bulb to the projector is out and find the replacement one we have stored.  Low and behold it too is out.  Bummer.   I have an editing machine and thankfully the bulb in it works!

      So here I have sat and gone through a gazillion home movies.  Not as easy to watch as this is an editing unit and the clarity is how fast you are turning the wheel.  Too fast and it is a blur, to slow and the film comes off the gear wheel.  Movie magic happens as I spin away.....

      I thought I would look up the price of a replacement bulb.  ebay....$50!!!!  Crazy!!!!  Note the price of this bulb on the box.  I wonder what year that was?

     I realize it is getting late and the poochies are looking at me wondering "when is she going to feed us?".

    I feed the critters, get the fresh eggs from the hens for today and grab a bottle of vino from the wine cellar.  Hey, no reason I can't have a nice glass of wine!  I pick this Papa use to buy BV ...seems like a good choice.

     I had marinated a chicken breast simply in soy sauce and thought I would grill it on our panini grill.  I rarely use this and I know why.  Cleaning is a pain.  Still the chicken breast came out lovely!  I toasted a slice of rustic wheat bread, brushed a bit of mayo on it, added sliced avocado on top of the chicken breast and sliced some tomatoes with a little kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.  Voila!

     Simple and utterly perfect for me tonight.  The poochies kept me company on the deck for another lovely ourselves....   :(  (miss the boys)

     So here are my companions...Annie

     And Mr. Stewie.....

     I mean, really...aren't they just the cutest...dinner companions?

     Let's see...I have two more dinners alone...thank goodness E. and I will go see a movie tomorrow!  I will have a real live human being to be with!  I get to go to my sister by marriage for breakfast tomorrow for Father's Day...not with my honey...but waffles!  Hhhhhmmmm.  And people!!!!

     Miss my boys....did I say that already?   Guess I better clean up the movie stuff....I was going to watch Toy Story 3 but it is getting late and I was woken up this morning by Luna (our kitty) purging somewhere near the bedroom.  Lovely...

Thursday, June 16, 2011


A fine storyteller died last weekend.  Kathryn Tucker Windham grew up in Thomasville, Alabama and later moved to Selma, Alabama, my mom and dad's home town.  I learned a little about Kathryn on a visit to Selma back in the 1990's.  My mom had taken me on a grand tour of spots that she wanted to share with me of her town, one of which was Sturdivant Hall.  A grand old home that has been restored.  There was a gift shop in the old detached kitchen and cook's quarters out back where I found Kathryn's books on ghosts of Alabama.  I brought back a book for my girls then realized I already had some of her books from other times my mom had visited Selma and brought them back.  

My girls loved a good ghost story and Kathyrn's filled a spot with her collected stories.    She was a storyteller, who learned this from her father.  No TV or high tech gadgets to interfere with sitting by her father as he wove a tale.  Thus was her beginnings of collecting and sharing stories from others that their parents or family had told them, passed on to any that would hear them.  She has many books and up until her death at 93 was still receiving more stories.  If one gives up the gift of storytelling and sharing of them, how many stories will die?  How many will go unsaid?  I guess that is why I write. 


Maybe my family have too much to do than sit and ask me to tell them a story of when I was growing up or about their ancestors.  Maybe I don't know how to share a story that makes them want to listen.  Storytelling has to be drawn out and said slowly and clearly. I just know that the older I become the more that I wish I had my Nan to have shared some stories of her life.  I wish I had any of my grandparents to have told me about their lives.  Something that would let me understand who my ancestors were, what they did, who they married, who their children were and so on.  I have fragments.

So the photos I have here are from another decrepit photo album of an old home in a box from my mom's house.  I am not sure if this is the home my Grandfather wrote of that burned down that is in Marion Junction or this is the old homestead of Mud Hall between Marion and Marion Junction, though even that home doesn't exist any longer.  Both homes have been replaced and my mom lived in the rebuilt one in Marion Junction till her father died.   I just know that looking at these photos I am absorbed by the unknown.  The old photo quality that doesn't have the sharpness of digital, let alone color, but what it has is a story.  I don't know who the people are in the photo on the bales of cotton but I am sure they are relatives.  Unknown but they are not forgotton...not by me.

Hearing Kathyrn's voice in the video brings up memories of the voices of Selma I have heard.  I think of my Nan and her Southern calls me...I am sitting waiting for my story...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I don't understand the evolution of time in my life...

Since when did looking at family photographs cause me to ache with the passage of time?  How dare that happen!

Since when did I know exactly the feel of my children at the age I see in a photograph, and know the smell of their hair , the feel of their soft skin, the silly faces they might make, the tender hugs with not so big arms thrown around my neck in loving embrace?

Since when...did the faces I am looking at...are now gone?  Those faces full of life, friends of my parents, doing silly parties, wearing party hats, or silly outfits for an event...since when did seeing them, remembering them, make me sad?  

Looking at photos always made me feel good.  Always made me smile and laugh.  

I remember that day.  I remember that dinner.  I remember that birthday party.  I remember putting the swing set up with my parents at their home...I was nine months pregnant and round and heavy with child.  I remember that day.

Am I really getting old?  Has the passage of time slipped by in the wink of an eye? 

We use to go to the parents for dinner, now they can't do those dinners we enjoyed so much.  Now my mom can't drive and my Love's parents I don't want driving after dark. 

We use to do more dinners together with the family, casual nights of playing croquet on the lawn on a warm summer evening. Being silly, cheating, laughing, being...just being together.  Our kids, nieces, nephews, grown, some with family of their own, busy, away.  

We use to play games like Trivial Pursuit which I really didn't like but played anyway.  We use to play UNO which I did like and still do.  We use to play Monopoly on vacations playing late into the night, well I did with the kids, my Love long in bed snoozing.  

Vacations...ah vacations.  The time to connect back with the family unit.  No TV.  Just us.  Always asking who wants to come along, always getting a place that can hold a group.  Some of the best times we have had was going to Tahoe when the kids were young.  How I loved having the extended family along to hang out with.  Sitting on the beach being as lazy as possible.  Watching the kids and what they would do or come up with doing.  Looking and listening for bears at night.  Sitting in a hot tub if the place had one as we swatted mosquitoes, looking at the starry night.  Hikes.  Going down the Truckee River, splashing water, laughing, such times were had.

Transitions.  I don't like that all my kids don't live near us.  I miss the times together.  I don't feel needed or thought of.  It sounds selfish, I know.  I just want to rekindle those good times we had.  I just want to sit around and let what ever comes to our heads and talk.  I want to make s'mores.  I want what was to be.  I want the memories to still be important and to create them.  

Transitions.  What happened?  I know the family grew.  So many more little ones now that the kids started having kids.  How can every one fit in a single place anymore?  How can everyone find the time?  The economy has screwed too much up.  Who has the money or time?

Time.  I believe, and will always believe, you have to make the time for memories and good times to have a chance to happen.   You have to be available.  No assumptions, no judgement, no predictions.  You have to see the possibilities and potential.  You have to let it happen.

Such crazy times I have been a part of from the first years of dating my Love and going to or having family events.  Such memories we still can laugh at....

Crazy #1  :   Too cold and windy at the beach in Santa Cruz after we started our BBQ on the beach on a small BBQ grill...bright idea of Uncle Doc to bring the BBQ back to the family cabin (the old cabin) in the back of the truck.  Yep.  Getting on the road back to the cabin with a hot, HOT, BBQ in the bed and the sparks are flying with a bunch of us in the back with it (yep..before it was illegal to let people sit in the back of a open truck)...yep.  BBQ is trying to slide around and how do you hold a hot BBQ?.

Crazy #2  :  My niece and her friend on Lake Tahoe on a simple raft...floating too far away without a paddle.  Yep.  They had to be rescued by a friendly boat.

Crazy #3  :  Finding ourselves lost in London while walking around.  Found our way back to where we could get a Taxi.

Crazy #4  :  Convincing my Love to don a wig, wear a grass hula skirt, and coconut top and perform for his mom's birthday.  It was hysterical!  Of course he has done this before so it wasn't too hard to get him to do. 

Crazy #5  :  Every Halloween Party where we dress up.  R. and my Love making the Wizard come to life for the little ones.  Yep.  My Love dressing up again.

Maybe those memories aren't crazy but they were definitely memorable experiences that would never happen if we didn't get together.

I am feeling melancholy that R. has missed out on so many of those memories, not to mention my great nieces and nephews.  I can't fully explain why.

I am determined to keep trying to present the opportunity for gatherings though.  I am going to believe that there only needs to be a nudge in the right direction.  I am going to believe that our family does want to have this still happen.  

As the saying goes,  "Friends may come and go but family is forever".  I believe this....

Tahoe 1988 ~ w/ Sue and Joe in the meadow from Ellen F. on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Bon Bon Club 1985 to 1987 ~ part 3

   Linda's home was ground zero for Janice and I and frankly most kids seemed to feel the same way.  Her home always had kids there.  It was the one place that my baby M. would fall asleep at.  I would sit in her rocking chair and within minutes M. would be sound asleep.  I could be at home and she wouldn't want to take a nap period.  I thought about it and decided it must be the type of rocking chair, one with a little creak, and vowed to find one as close to it as possible (I did!).  

     It was at her house I got addicted to "International Cafe ~ Cafe Francais".  From there on out I had to have a hot cup daily.  Janice, Linda and I would be chatting it in the kitchen around her breakfast table and our kids would be upstairs in her daughters room or downstairs in her family room.  

     Those girls were so creative.  I think Lisa was the creative force of becoming the "director" of their put together dramatic plays they practiced doing.  Even my little E.  and Linda's little Julie, all of three years old, would be included in their big sisters and friends play.  There were times I'm sure they would have liked them to go off and leave them alone but truly they were wonderful in all playing together.

     We would get an announcement that we were to come downstairs, to sit on the couch and there was to be a performance for us to watch.  We dutifully would do as they asked, waited patiently, laughed a little as we waited and wondered what they would be doing and then their play would start.   Oh, how cute they each were.  How I wished I had made a home movie of those times.   To sit there and watch them put their little hearts into this production just for their mommies to watch was such a gift.

K. on the left with her friend Julia

     I always knew when Linda was home by looking out my big picture window and seeing her car in the driveway.  None of us had a useable garage to park a car in.  Not to mention the single car driveways were very deep to the rear of the house.  I didn't go over daily but my girls as soon as they were home from their respective schools always wanted to know who they could play with.  "Mommy can I play with Julia?",  "Mommy can I call Lisa?",  mommy this  and mommy that every day.  I loved this after our previous dead neighborhood.  I loved hearing them run in and out the front door, and run to the playroom downstairs at our house, the laughter, the fussing over a game or toy.  My children were content and happy.  I felt like we were living the life all parents dream of.

    I don't know where the Bon Bon Club came from but it became a common phrase that was said when the mommies gathered together.  Our dear husbands couldn't imagine what we must do all day with our kids.  It was a joke that we must sit around and eat bon bon's all day, never accomplish our wife duties on the home front.  Ha!  No, the Bon Bon Club was our reprieve, our reward for all we did do!  

     Somehow it started that we should all go out to breakfast after our grade school kids had been sent off and whatever children that didn't have preschool would come along.  Then other mommies would be included along with their kids.  We would descend upon some nearby breakfast spot, take a back large table with other tables added to hold our group and we would just chat away to our hearts content.  The little ones with us got their pancakes and were content to color or play with some toys we would bring and it was our escape for girlfriend time.  

My Love and E. with our dogs Heidi and Tess ~ Linda's house across the street

      Sometimes we did lunch when those of us with kindergarteners became 1st graders.  We all had late birds so they would eat at school.  The Bon Bon Club would eat out with whoever could come and we would try different places in our town or the town nearby.  

      Those were the years of get togethers for "Discovery Toys", "Jewelry Parties" and "Tupperware".   So many fun times for a good excuse to get out and just be girls.  There were times we just went over to someones home and sat down to relax.  Our kids were entertained and we had no worries.  We were all happy and isn't that what makes a happy home to have a happy mom?

     The year when chicken pox invaded one home, we all decided to just let the kids play together and hopefully get chicken pox to get if over with.  It worked at my house as all three girls within weeks either had come down with it or were just finishing the dreaded pox.  At week three we were done.  I suppose this wouldn't have been a good time for a new neighbor to have moved in with all the chicken pox going on and the kids outside playing together pox and all.   What a sight.

     We only lived in the neighborhood for two blissful years.  My Love had fixed our house up by remodeling the old kitchen into a fully functional new one with all the modern conveniences of dishwasher, disposal and a large gas cooktop.  We took out the breakfast nook and made it into a bedroom for K.  I tried to spruce up the front yard with flowers but I wasn't much of a gardener and tried hard to not kill them.  My Love and I decided that it was the right time to move with K. ending 1st grade and before E. would be starting Kindergarten.  We didn't like the public middle school or high school and couldn't afford to go private.  There had been a few robberies at one of the local shopping centers in broad daylight and I already started driving to the nearby town to do my shopping.

Little M. in our 1965 Mustang, our dog Heidi and me out in front of our house.  

     At one of our Bon Bon Club get-togethers at a neighbors house I broke the news that we were putting our house up for sale and that we were moving.  It was a hard thing to do because I loved where we lived.  I only wish we could have picked up this neighborhood and moved it to where we wanted to move.  I hated the thought of making my girls leave their wonderful friends but I knew that they would make new ones.  I only hoped that the new neighborhood would be a little bit like what we would be leaving.  I was determined to not lose my ties especially with Linda since our girls were so close.  I didn't want to lose these wonderful women who I laughed with and shared mommy advice.  What would I do without them?

     Linda, Janice and I still get together, sometimes once a year sometimes twice for breakfast or lunch.  After over 25 years our friendship has remained.  Our kids are all grown up, though I do have one at home still.  Linda is a grandmother and Janice's oldest son just got married.  They both moved to the town we moved to over the years but only Janice lived sort of close to me, still not the same neighborhood, and Linda across town.  It never seems like it was that long ago that we were young moms under the age of 30 with a bushel of kids to watch, a home to take care of, and car pools to take the kids to and from school.  There are many stories we each could share and laugh about still fresh in our minds.  We were lucky moms and wives to have the dearest of husbands who joked about our Bon Bon Club.  Linda's husband Mike coming home from work to find a house full of kids and us wives sitting over a cup of coffee or tea, simply living in the happiest of times.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Bon Bon Club 1985 to 1987 ~ part 2

       How can I describe the comradery  the women of this neighborhood had?  Our neighborhood was a throw back to life on a "Ozzie and Harriet" or "Leave it to Beaver" sitcom.  I fell into welcoming arms of women, like me,  these stay at home moms, with two plus kids in our postage stamp size homes and yards.

     Within days of settling in our home our two daughters had friends.  Girl friends, boy friends, friends younger and friends older, they all played together.  The street was their street and we were outnumbered multiple times by all the children in that neighborhood.  The first day of school soon would start and my daughter K. would have friends in Kindergarten.  Every child on the street talked with the adults as though we were just an extension of children their own age.  This was the first time that I was referred to as Mrs. F. and I have to say it made me feel a bit old, as well as it sounded odd and yet was very respectful.

      This was a neighborhood where we could leave our doors unlocked during the day without any concern.  Open to children who knocked on your door or called out through the screen door "Can K. and E. play?".   Little Aja and Praire, who lived two doors down didn't even bother to knock, they just walked in to see what we were up to.  That day they walked into my bathroom while E. and I bathed in the tub together (much easier to bath a two year old together when your pregnant instead of leaning over a tub with a big belly) where I was surprised and shocked but they didn't skip a beat of chatting away to me.  I thought in the future I might lock the bathroom door when I am in there instead of being caught off guard.

     The day our daughter M. was born was a school day and I managed to give birth before school was let out.  The Indian summer day was so hot our french doors were wide open in an attempt to cool me down.  I am sure amongst my new found friends that they were able to keep up with my labor progress by all the sounds I was making that drifted outside.  By the time the kids had walked down the street past our house and begun playing outside, our new family of five was getting to know our new daughter with glasses of wine, apple juice, and cheese and crackers.

     With any neighborhood the children came up with their own stories of who lives in what house.   Next door to us lived a widow who very rarely came outside.  Even I began to wonder about her via the stories the kids would tell.  She seemed to be in the "scary house" on our street even though the house was tidy and neat.   The week after M. was born a lovely baby gift came and I met this very sweet lady for the first time.  Thereafter my girls never thought of her in any other way but a sweet old lady and would wave to her and smile.

    On the other side of our house lived a family with one teenage daughter.  They kept to themselves with their windows always covered.  I am in question of homes with windows covered all day and night  Reminds me a bit of "Boo Radley" in "To Kill a Mockingbird".  My Love had met them and reported back to me that the husband was a photographer.   We didn't see or hear from them much but the wife had plastic surgery on her nose and she wouldn't come out till it was healed.   This seemed to go on for a long time so either she wasn't happy with the surgery or she was self conscious.  We kind of felt they were oddballs only because they didn't seem to enjoy hanging outside like the rest of us but they were harmless.  We even had their daughter babysit on occasion.

     Aja and Praire lived on the other side of the Photographer's one house up.  They went to a private school and were the smartest two girls.  They talked about such intelligent subjects and knew much more than I did.  Or maybe it was just the way they spoke. 

     Across the street lived Linda and her family.  She had three kids, Kenny being the oldest, Lisa who was K.'s age and Julie who was E.'s age.  They were a busy family with Kenney playing basketball and baseball.  I can still be reminded of hearing his basketball bouncing to this day on their driveway.  His friends would ride over on their bikes, tossing them on the lawn while they played outside.  Their children all when to the Catholic school in town while K. went to the public school nearby.   

     Around the corner lived a little boy Arin who was K.'s age.  He was a sweet little guy and had a younger sister.  His grandmother from Iran had come to live with the family and spoke not a word of English.  She insisted on making them soup that at first they refused to eat but like all good children they started to enjoy the home cooked Persian food she made and voila, life with a Grandmother they had not known became quite normal.  I know their mom was secretly delighted to have help on cooking and watching the kids as well.  

      Up the street lived a boy near Kenny's age named Ross.  He always wore shorts whether it was cold or hot.  Quite the friendly guy who often would knock on the door and ask if he could take M. for a stroll in her stroller.  We would let him as long as he stayed near our house.

     I had a girl friend Debbie, who was the opposite direction down our street who had been neighbors with us years before.  I was really excited to be near her again though she seemed to have moved on with a different group of friends, and while she was nice she didn't seem to want to get chummy like the other moms.  So though I did see her on occasion we never really renewed our friendship like I had hoped.  Sometimes that just happens.

     Another family with two boys lived a few homes up  from Debbie.  I had meet her through Debbie once, but saw more of her through the new girl friends I met.  Theier block of kids seemed to stick more to themselves than come up our way or our kids go their way.  Kids seem to have their own set of unspoken rules and I wonder if that was one of them.

     Janice who I had met at the garage sale we had, lived on the street directly behind Linda.  They shared a gate that could be opened to go back and forth and often I wish I could live on their side of the street and have a pass through gate too.  Janice had a daughter Julia that was K.'s age and two boys Michael and Matthew who were younger.  K. and her Julia loved to play Barbies at our house and Julia seemed to really like our dogs Tess and Heidi.

    A couple of houses down from Janice lived Paula.  She had a daughter Becky who was K.'s age and twin daughter's that were older than our daughter E.   Becky had the longest, most amazing blonde hair that came easily past her tush.  I wondered how long it took to wash and dry and how hard it was to comb out.  I was a wishing my hair could grow that long as my style was a longer version of Princess Diana.

     There were only five ways into our neighborhood of four streets that ran parallel with each other and four short side streets.  It wasn't a large neighborhood which is why it was ideal for families.  We were close to a shopping center that had a grocery store, a bakery, a donut shop, and beauty salon which was important for us moms.  At the end of the street there at first was a meat market that turned into a produce market that was a real treat in comparison to the grocery store.  I could take our little red wagon and go farther to the local garden center.  

     Once my busy days of taking care of a newborn, and taking E. to preschool two mornings a week, and getting K. to and from Kindergarten I was at last able to get to know the neighbor women and find that to my hearts relief, I had many I could talk to for advice and support than I had ever had before.  

     With that the beginning of the Bon Bon Club for me began.....


Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Bon Bon Club 1985 to 1987 ~ part 1

     My body was swollen with child when we moved into the house on Bridge Road.  I was almost seven months pregnant and useless when it came to moving unless you call pointing to where a box was to be put.   My ankles were swollen and if I laughed I potentially would pee in my pants.  I cried easily and often before, during and after our move and wondered what kind of personality my unborn child would have with such an emotional mommy.

     We had bought this wreck of a house that needed much work, just the type of house my Love and I could buy to fix up and eventually sell with a profit.  I however, was wanting a home and was willing to settle for this sad house knowing that my Love would make it a place that would become a home.  Because a house is just a place that you can see in any neighborhood but a home is where we can nest and fall in love all over again.

     When we brought the families over to see our new home I saw the look on my mom's face that fell like a souffle.  My father believed in my husband and his family always believed in him  knowing his construction abilities.  Of course my mom was already bothered with me for being pregnant with my third child.  I had upset the "apple cart" by having one more child.  How would three fit into her Mercedes Coupe, I projected of her thoughts.

     The house was tri-leveled, old and neglected.  I believe the previous owner had died and I hoped that he or she did not die in the house owing to my belief in the supernatural.  Upstairs in the future nursery and our master bedroom were wide cracks starting from the middle corners of some of the walls reaching towards the ceiling.  Our bedroom had french doors with a faux balcony and his and her walk in closets.  The kitchen had no disposal let alone a dishwasher with dingy painted cabinets, but on the bright side it was large and had a breakfast nook.  The living room had a charming fireplace that at last I could place Arleen and Clark's andirons they had given to us several years before.  There was a bonus room on the lower part that would be perfect as a playroom for our daughters multitude of toys.  The backyard was tiny but the swing set my Love had built would fit.

     Prior to our moving in we painted, scoured and scrapped wallpaper, and did deep cleaning of the bathrooms and kitchen, leaving our two girls at their Grandma's home since it was close by.  It was especially appreciated of her always having a hot meal for my Love and I when we were done working.   My Love had rented a steamer for us to attempt to get the horrendous wallpaper off the walls.  Yes, there I was on a step stool, holding the steamer plugged into the wall with an extension cord while it emited hot humid steam,  with my huge belly having Braxton Hicks contractions  and trying to be as careful as I could not to fall.   I was mad at the former owner for putting this paper on only to find another layer underneath.  Some days I would go alone and  I would cry in this house while I went up and down, over and over to attempt to peel off the wall paper, wondering if this was the best we could have found for us to live in.  I was overwhelmed by a move while this far into my pregnancy and feeling bereft of my mom and her attentions.

     I don't know what the neighbors must have thought of our comings and goings.  We took our time fixing and cleaning and the day of our move felt like a tornado had dropped our belongings there.  Since I couldn't pack like I would have the organization of what were in boxes was not done.  My brother by marriage and father by marriage assisted with the move and toys were throw into boxes like we were running out of town on a fast escape.  Once again I sat on the floor crying in our new home, trying to find the doll that my little E. wanted and was afraid didn't get moved.   Moving is hard on children who just want to see their belongings and feel secure.  I prayed my dishes didn't get broken with every box that was dumped on the floor.  

     To welcome ourselves to the neighborhood my Love and I had a garage sale.  What better way for the neighbors to get to know us than by seeing what we were getting rid of!  My Love and I sat on our camping folding chairs while kids rode by on their bikes, back and forth, their curiosity finally driving them down our deep driveway to check us out.  And really, that is how we all got to know each other.  It was the kids who met us first, followed by my first new neighbor girlfriend- to- be  Janice.  She had three kids, one our oldest daughters age and two boys.  And with that our house became a home.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Gifts from the box

Those cleaned hankies and my Nan's nurse's cap...yes, I said I was able to get all the spots off.  I did, but some have come back...oh well.  I am just as happy to have them at all.   

To you my Nan....just because.  I love you.

B is for "Bebe" my Nan's nick name

Hearts for someone who was so full of love


G is for "Gilmer" her married name

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Nan's Hankies and Nurse's Cap

     The boxes are emptied, the photos in piles.  I've gone through the newspapers and clipped what I felt I would keep and tossed the rest.  My dining room table is still in a disarray but what a treasure hunt!

     That box that said "Bebe" on the side, the one that had the oddest collection of my Grandmother's, my Nan's belongings is the one I hoped to find and I did.  It didn't contain all that I wanted but I found the photo I was looking for in another box and that put a smile on my face and heart.  My Nan in her nurse's uniform.  You see my Nan was a public nurse.  I had heard she would go to folk's homes to tend to them when they were ill, driving her car to where they lived.  All by herself with no doctor, on quiet country roads.   Perhaps she even did a bit of midwifery for the country ladies.  Later she worked in hospitals as a Surgical Nurse.  I would love to have heard her stories of those times.  I think she tended folks too poor to see a doctor as a Public Nurse.  My Nan had such a good bedside manner.  I never really minded being sick as she would bring me my meals on an aluminum tray as I was propped up in my bed with pillows.  She took my temperature and kept me comfortable with all the love a Grandmother could give as well.  

     What I didn't expect to find was her Nurse's cap.  Still stiff with heavy starch.  It was spotted with a rusty color all over it and smelled of that musty odor that my nose wrinkled up too.  My Nan's cap.  Those were the days of the white cap, white uniform dress, white hose and white shoes.  She was a registered nurse that was given much respect by her peers.  She had years of experience.  

     I took that cap and brushed it with my special mix of hydrogen peroxide mixed with powdered Oxy Clean to make a thin paste.  I let it sit all day and then soaked it all night in a bowl of cold water and Woolite.   The next day nary a spot was in sight.  My Nan's cap pure white.  Tomorrow I will press it stiff just as she would have.  She would have put in on her head with hair pins to hold it in place for her hours of work.

     I found a pile of hankies, equally spotted and stained.  I did the same with them as the cap.  No spots to mar them.  Each different and dainty.   I can't say that I saw her use them all the time but I know she used tissue that she would tuck in the sleeve of her sweater to dab her nose.  I wonder if I gave her one of these hankies that I have in the pile?   The one with tiny red hearts around the edge?  The one with little flowers of blue?   Just the kind of gift a little Granddaughter would give her Grandmother.

     That box contained an old bra, a girdle, two pair of hose, two slips with one of white and one black, and a pair of her glasses in a gold cardboard box with a pink paper flower on top.  Why my mom saved her under garments I do not know and I never will.  My daughters were intrigued by these relics.

     As I attempted to make order in my dining room by separating the stuff I had trashed into recycle and garbage boxes, I came upon some wad of paper stuck to the bottom.   I don't know what made me try to get this out but I did.   It was unrecognizable of what it was, a foot long and a smashed roll of stiff paper with some rot on the bottom that was black.  Not good.  I tried to open it without success as I could see that it was more than just one paper.  I don't really know why I even kept trying but I gently rolled it between my palms and low and behold a seam opened.  I was able to unroll it and what I found was my Grandmother's Nursing credentials.  Two of them from 1925 from the school she went to in Tennessee!   How did they wind up so smashed up?   Why weren't they in a frame or rolled in a tube?  All those years buried at the bottom of a rotting box and I just happened to give that box one more look before I took it out to the garbage.  

     I don't know why I have become the custodian of the family treasures.  I do think I was destined for this though.  I am the keeper.  The older I become the more protective I become of what was "special" long ago.  I don't know what will become of what I so eagerly try to archive but I will take all the care in the world to help it find a safe spot of honor while I breath in this world. 


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