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gramma

Today would have been my grandmas 106th birthday.

My grandmother would bring me to the sewing factory with her in the afternoons when school was out, it smelled like fabric, and oil, and little like something was burning, that always brought up the anxiety in me. It was a safe place, yet a little scary at the same time; lots of machines, pressers, cutting tables, scary things; things that could hurt you if you didn’t know how to use them correctly.

The sewing machine next to my grandmothers was empty so that is where I set my bookbag and hung my red sweater; I always wondered why that space was empty. Lots of spaces were empty.

I would quietly walk around to visit each of the ladies at their machines, just stopping by to smile and maybe ask a curious question about what they were doing. Each one had a different job, one might be sewing the sleeves onto a dress, another putting the dress together, there was a process, it was methodical, I liked that.

They were all so nice to me, sometimes saving me a special cookie or piece of candy from their lunches. One always had a butterscotch for me, I liked that creamy buttery taste, it was something I had never experienced, but did not like the mint ones they were hot like a chili!!

I made the rounds, I was particularly interested in the woman who did the buttonholes, it was a special machine that was magic to me as a 7 year old. It sewed the thread all around then the opening was cut.

“How does it know how big to make the hole?”

“What if the cut is to long and it breaks the thread?”

“What if your finger gets caught?”

That horrified me!

It took several visits, and many questions to the lady with short curly white hair who was very tall, Josephine, to finally figure out that there was no magic to making a buttonhole. And I did find out what happened if your finger got caught one day when I spotted the band-aid.

Back then many of the woman in the factory were white and they all spoke some English. Even though grandma was from Mexico she spoke perfect English, she was proud of that and that she had become a citizen. The lady who set zippers, like my grandma did, wasn’t very friendly so I always skipped her, I realized later it was because she didn’t like my grandma trying to persuade her to register to vote.

One of the ladies in particular used to ask me if I was wearing lipstick because my lips looked like rosebuds. I would wipe my mouth with the back of my hand and show her that “no, no lipstick, see”! I was not allowed to wear lipstick! Even though my grandma was also an Avon lady and sometime would give us some of those little white sample tubes that would come by the dozen in the green plastic containers, we were only allowed the very light colors, and we only used those for dress up I explained.

The presser was always last, maybe because the big pressing machines terrified me, and my grandmother always said not to bother her, but Lupe was the youngest, probably 18, and she always would gesture, come over, say hello. I watched as she lowered the big pressing machine, ironing half a garment at once! I always wished I could bring my white blouses to be ironed here, they took me so long at home and I was so afraid of getting burned! Grandma had got Lupe the job there, she had not finished high school, I think grandma was afraid that I might distract her too much, she needed that job.

After I made the rounds I would sit at the empty machine, next to grandma and do my homework or read with the sounds of the factory in my ears.

Taos, New Mexico

Taos MDJ

 

I am sitting outside among the trees, with the wind blowing and the birds chirping, magpies! Its overcast, pleasant enough. Actually a bit cool, I have my wrap my journal and my laptop. All is good.

The Mable Dodge Lujan house is amazing. So peaceful, spiritual; the rooms are simple, but comfortable. I actually unpacked my clothes. I landed I settled in. Dinner the first night was an amazing chicken with avocado salsa, cauliflower with pesto, a black rice salad, and a green salad. I think I may have even tried a Dijon vinaigrette dressing (I hate mustard). I slept well.

I woke up and got out of bed around 6:45, found some coffee. Felt refreshed after a cup and washing my face so I thought I would try the dance awake, It was nice the last song she played “Hallelujah” brought me to tears. Emotions flowed.

Breakfast was turkey sausage, spinach frittata amazing custardy French toast, I indulged in; not usual for me but this is vacation!

But most spectacular of all I am at 7000 feet in the mountains. The MOUNTAINS! Coming home I call it, even though it is not Tahoe. The religion is the same just a different church.

What am I doing here, what do I want? Am I a writer, or do I even care. Do I just want to put words on paper, do I want to just remember. Forgetting scares me.

I am glad I am outside writing today, I think it may get to warm later in the week to take advantage of this mid day outside writing.

A LADY BUG JUST LANDED ON MY SCREEN!

That was cool.

I guess in this case it would be taking fingers to keyboard.  I am having a difficult time with this, but in a short 15 days I will be flying to Taos, New Mexico for a writing retreat.  But, I haven’t been writing.  When I look back on my blogs, my main writing outlet there is nothing.  Not for a long time.

I don’t know why.  I am trying as hard as I may to figure it out.  Is my brain not as creative as it once was? Am I to busy, have I just neglected that focus I used to have.  I think Social Media has spoiled it a bit for us bloggers. I have 5 blogs, many of them not updated or active for years.  Now with Social media you don’t have to wait for someone to update their blog to know whats going on, you just look their Facebook or Instagram, or twitter feed. It used to be that our blogs were our social media.

Ok now that I have something to blame it on maybe I can get past it and blog more.

Its the 4th of July.  I am staying inside cool and going to BBQ later.  Its not one of the holidays I enjoy.  I appreciate the reason, but the fireworks are awful. The animals are frightened and the fire danger is high.  After 4 years of drought I think that they should have been banned throughout the state of California.

But where ever you are and however you celebrate be safe and remember to be kind to those who do not enjoy the BOOMS!

9 years ago

ncj

2006 was not a good year for me.  All kinds of bad things happened.  In the first week of January my husband left me for another woman.  Then Natalie was hospitalized in chronic rejection and infection of her new lungs.  She died on Feb 1.  It was a rough time at work, but to top it off on Labor day I broke up a scuffle with puppy Daisy, she was a bout a year old, and Sprocket. I was bit by Sprocket, accident.  The bone was nicked, and I ended up with a bone infection, in the hospital for 10 days then 3 months of intravenous antibiotics.  Needless to say I was glad when that year was over.

Fast forward to today.  Its Super Bowl Sunday,  I never watch. I had coffee with Dianne and then ran a few errands and paid bills.  I thought I needed to write, to just remember to be grateful today for what I think will be a good year. I have a retreat planned in July, and hope to do the leaf peeping tour of Vermont in October.  I have learned to let go of things I can’t control, sort of.

And last year which was a good year.  Work was ok, we took a nice trip to the San Juan Islands in Washington, I traveled to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains several times to visit an old friend.  I taught chair yoga to cancer patients, and continued my yoga and ayurveda studies.

But time goes by so fast. Daisy is getting older, she is 10 now, Roscoe is also showing his age at 13, and I too am getting older even though I really don’t feel older.

So I look forward to this year, I have learned that it can always be worse.

 

Coming Home

I have recently been teaching a chair yoga class at a cancer center.  I was wondering why I felt so at peace afterwards. You would think that I would be sad for these patients, their struggles, their fears, and their hopes.

Today I had someone new, she was having Chemo tomorrow, and clearly she was well into her treatment as she had a scarf wrapped around her head.  She had never been to my class. Never done yoga. She took to it, the breathing, the positive visualization.  I could see she was desperate for hope.

After the class she said, could I come Wednesday with my “Chemo”, as if it was her new friend. We discussed what that meant, her port would be accessed and she would have a bag (of poison) to deal with.  I said of course, we would make sure to adapt anything you need. It seemed reassuring to her. My mantra, if you can breath you can do yoga.

When I left I felt energized and hopeful. Why? After I came home I realized this was coming home to me, I spent years in the hospital, off and on, with Natalie. They are like a safe place to me sometimes.  How many days and nights did I spend, trying to find the best cafeteria food, and most comfortable niche to hang out in. Natalie didn’t die of cancer but that really doesn’t matter. they are not only a place of death, but a place of healing and hope. I am bringing hope.

I teach in the infusion room, the place where the poison happens, but we turn it into a place of hope and love, community and love.

Bring on the Chemo.

Frank Sumatra

This morning I stopped for coffee in town, like I do every morning on my ay to work. Beantown is a great little place where all the locals congregate in the morning.  There is a table with retirees (I think) crowded around sharing stories. I sometimes envy them, their freedom, there ritual of coffee together each morning, being retired.

This morning one of these retirees was at the bank of coffee pots, there are several flavors. I in particular enjoy the English Toffee, or Chocolate Almond.  This gentleman was pouring cream into his cup, then some powdered chocolate, more cream, then Sumatra.  Quite a process for a cup of coffee. He looked at me quite seriously and said, “Sumatra, like the famous singer, Frank Sumatra!”  “Yes”, I replied.  “you are even preparing your coffee like the song, My Way”.

We had a good laugh. I walked out of Beantown with my Chocolate Almond with some half and half, a smile on my face and the song “My Way” in my head.  A nice way to start a morning.

 

I was in Indianapolis for a Library conference last week.  It was cold. There were 10,000 librarians and me. I am not a librarian but I am responsible for a Library.  I love the work.  Not sure if I wrote about that here, but last January 2013, I inherited the Library as part of my domain at the City.  So I went to this huge conference and listened to many great speakers, Brian Stevenson, Simon Sinek, Jane Pauley, Ann Patchett, just to drop a few names.  It inspired me to read more and to write more.

One speech, I think it was Jane Pauley got me thinking about things. The past, life, making a home. I don’t recall what she said specifically but I remember the flood of memories that came to me when she spoke about what a “home” would be like, and how hard I tried to “create” that for myself.  I am fortunate, I have a home, I own it and the house payment and the “maybe” termites that might be moving in, the gutters that need to be cleared and the fact hat it was built almost 20 years before I was even born.  The plumbing that needs to be replaced in the kitchen and the windows that need dowels to hold them up. And I have never felt more at home in my life than I do now.

It made me remember when I felt so out of place, when I was a kid. My parents divorced after my year in kindergarten, that was when it was taboo especially since I went to Catholic school. I want so badly to fit in with the rest.  I was the outsider.  I wasn’t allowed to have friends over and I wasn’t allowed to make friends in the neighborhood, my mother said all the kids had lice.  So I read and fantasied about everything that wasn’t reality.

When I got a little older I finally started to visit other peoples houses, usually through my grandmother taking me along on her Avon visits. What I noticed was that everyone had a sofa in the living room.  This must be the way normal people live, I thought.  We had a bed in the living room. My grandmother slept in it, and sometime she let me lay with her to watch “I Love Lucy”. I remember being in that bed late at night and waking up the night Bobby Kennedy was shot.  The black and white TV was on and my mother was in the living room along with my Grandmother, they were both crying.

We didn’t have a lot, but my grandmother being the crafty seamstress she was made a fitted cover for the bed and upholstered the 1 chair we had in the living room with the same green brocade cloth and added a couple pillows. Looking back on this I can clearly see that she was making this “home”. But for me it never seemed normal, and I was embarrassed that we had a bed in the living room.

When I finally moved out on my own at the age of 19 the first thing I bought was a sofa.  I had inherited a bed and dresser  in the move and the little apartment above the garage I was renting was partially furnished.  But I needed a sofa.  I remember saving up and buying my first one, it was brown, I think it was $400.  A lot for a staving student working 2 jobs and going to UCLA.

I had that same sofa until about 12 years ago when I finally got rid of it.  I alway have a sofa in the living room now. What’s even better is that there is usually a dog on it too.

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