life, memories, rose

rosy


This is about Rose. I knew Rose all my life, minus the first five or so years, which I don’t remember very well. Rose, like her husband, was a second generation American. Their parents came from Italy.

She was small, a little over five feet, and pretty. Even when she was old, almost ninety, she was still pretty. Her hair turned from red to white, but her face was pretty and smiling. I see it now. Rose was probably the sweetest, kindest, nicest, most energetic, hard working, generous, human being I’ve known. I’m thinking, I’m thinking. Yeah, she was all those. You can probably think of some other ‘nice’ adjectives, and those would fit too. Her husband called her Rosy.

In the summer Rose and her husband spent a lot of time in the back yard. They sat there in the evenings with a glass of wine. Sometimes they played cards. It wasn’t a big area, a little bit of grass backed up to a tall hill covered with trees. And nestled at the bottom of the hillside a statue of the Blessed Mother. Everything about the space back there felt old country. It made you feel like you have nothing to do in life but sit, laugh, tell a story, and take it all in. There was a square wooden porch/deck attached to the house, and a screen door that took you right into her kitchen. I know, because I’ve been through that door. The last time was after my mother died and Rose called me in to see her new living room furniture. There are parts of us that just don’t grow up, and I thought at the time if I couldn’t still have my mother, I wanted Rose to be my proxy mother.

Rose was in the middle of making anise flavored cookies. She asked me if I was hungry, if she could get me some pasta. I don’t remember what kind, some gnocchi or whatever. She made her own, of course. There was no Mueller’s in that house. And it seemed to me she whipped up home-made pasta as easily as I whip up a sandwich or bowl of cereal. I’m probably exaggerating, but not too much. Picture the wood block countertop covered with flour, some chopping implements, and bowls and cooking ingredients scattered here and there. Old appliances. That was her kitchen.

Oh, and there’s the flowers. Tall bright colored flowers all around the metal fence in her front yard. Hanging baskets on her tiny front porch. Flowers up and down the side of her house. Flowers on the deck, flowers in the backyard. She loved her flowers, and they loved her back. Rose was well into her eighties and she would weed and fuss with her flowers the same way she did when she was thirty.

I thought about Rose yesterday, and this flower’s for Rose.


photograph from may 19, 2020

life, memories, non-fiction

sound your harks

New Years Day my mom took down the tree. Always, as if it was required. In a few days, though, I knew it would be Christmas again.

When I was little…four, five, six years old…we celebrated a second Christmas after the first one was done. My mother’s side of the family celebrated Christmas on the feast of the Epiphany, January 6, and for a kid, that’s great. We didn’t get presents again, but we knew after we finished the December 25th Christmas, we’d get to go to my grandparents’ on the 6th and celebrate again…cousins, aunts, uncles…eat, sing, play…food and fun!

Our memories from childhood are pictures, aren’t they?

I see me sitting with my cousins on the stairs off my grandparents’ kitchen. Laughing, making noise, keeping an eye on the grown-ups in the kitchen. I see my grandmother bustling around the stove and lots of people scattered around the kitchen table. I see the block of soft yellow butter my grandmother kept in her white metal cabinet…the silly details we hold onto.

Then there’s the boxy living room. Two couches. One against the wall with the TV. A second couch on the opposite wall. And a single small picture hanging over that couch, Jesus knocking on a door.

My five uncles are gathered at the couch by the TV. Four of them sitting, looking up to the uncle who is standing, facing them. Directing them, sort of like their choir director. They’re singing Christmas carols, harmonizing, and the rest of us are on the other side of the room, the audience. Now it’s time for Hark the Herald Angels Sing. They need to get in tune because the song starts strong, with a hark. The uncle who’s directing asks them to sound their harks, and they do. Hark…hark…hark…hark. Again. Hark…hark…hark…hark. That’s when they start giggling. Yes, grown men giggle. So my uncle repeats, a bit sternly, sound your harks! And they go for it, this time with bad, goofy bad, silly harks.

At that point, it all falls apart, and we all laugh til our sides hurt.

January 6…sound your harks.

sky

the time of the season

Last night I looked up in the sky, and saw a tiny light flicker, like a firefly, way too late for the party.

I waited….

….for another flicker.

Nothing.

So I moved my head this way and that, and stretched my neck to see more of the sky. Suddenly there were many tiny lights.

Ahh, stars of course, playing hide n’ seek with what’s left on the tall trees outside my window.

In July, August…you wouldn’t see stars in that part of the sky. You’d see the dark shadow of leaves. But we’re moving fast towards winter.

Cold nights. Leafless trees.

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life, photography, prose, writing

glitter

It starts with a raised eyebrow, a sigh, a glow.
Moments that fizz and ferment and sparkle.

Lobes fire up a conversation of thoughts and blurred images
in the nooks and crannies of the mind.
And far below the surface,
deep in the richest layers of our human-ness,
a sensory explosion of emotion flares.

The subtle living tension of the soul.

___________________________
etikser

life, memories, ocean, photo

midnight

I remember the night I took this picture. The sea oats tempted me, and the ocean breeze taunted me. I wanted to see if I could capture something of the magic. The tall sea oak stalks, a soft ivory, bending against the backdrop of the evening sky. When I see this picture now, I see comfy shorts, a baggy cotton tee, vacation hair, and clammy wind. The wood gate swinging open, and a pause to consider if this is a good idea, walking away from the dimly lit planks, down the path to a deserted beach. Stepping away from civilization, alone with the wide stretch of sand and dark ocean. Scary and wonderfully invigorating at the same time. A minute or two when the rest of life was irrelevant. I didn’t wander far, but I tried over and over to catch the stalks in between back and forth. Futile, of course. I couldn’t escape the blur. A little blur for the feel of the ocean breeze. A fair trade.

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etikser