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, night sky, thoughts

the end of may

Sometimes I sit out back in the dark
at the end of a depressing day,
and it’s quiet,
just quiet,
nothing but me and the quiet.

Sometimes I see stars shining up there, far past the trees.
But tonight,
I don’t see stars.
Just the tops of tall trees and past them nothing.
Nothing but gray skies.

Sometimes I look up and see a flicker.
Or I imagine a flicker.
Like a firefly?
It’s too soon, isn’t it?
I remember the 4th of july when fireflies lit up those trees
like some kind of magic.
Like the magic that’s only real in memories.

Sometimes sitting in the dark listening to the quiet makes me think.

photograph from may 23, 2020


Gershwin, jazz, music, summertime

summertime


Summertime, the song.

And Janis Joplin. Yes, in the crazy summer of 2020, it has to be Janis Joplin. It’s an old (1934) Gershwin song, covered over and over, so there are lots of versions out there. I don’t know if it’s technically the blues, but when Janis sings it, I think it’s the blues. She opens her mouth, and she holds nothing back. There’s sorrow and there’s anguish, and there’s no attempt to pretty it up.

I’d be remiss, though, if I didn’t single out Ella Fitzgerald’s version too. It’s subdued, it’s fluid, it’s definitely jazz. You can feel the heat of a sweltering August night when the windows are open and the air is still. And Ella’s voice is soft and silky and soothing in all the ways Janis’s is ragged and desperate. Despite my opening, I suspect Ella Fitzgerald captures the mood as well as anyone can. It just might make you cry.

Summertime by George Gershwin, DuBose Heyword, and Ira Gershwin. Give it a a try.

life, music, Pete Seeger

Where have all the flowers gone?

music and first three verses by Pete Seger [1955]
last three verses added by Joe Hickerson [1960]

Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago?
Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls picked them every one.
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone, long time passing?
Where have all the young girls gone, long time ago?
Where have all the young girls gone?
Gone for young men everyone.
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone, long time passing?
Where have all the young men gone, long time ago?
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers every one.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the soldiers gone, long time a go?
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone, long time passing?
Where have all the graveyards gone, long time ago?
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Gone to flowers, everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls picked them every one.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?