Sunday, August 31, 2008

i smell her everywhere

Today is one of those perfect Vermont summer days. It's sunny and warm. A high breeze rustles through the tippy tops of the trees. A crowd of white sailboats crowds the lake like little happy triangles atop a deep blue canvas. And everyone is outside enjoying it. The new college students and their out-of-town parents. The French-speaking Canadians. The hippy locals. The skateboarders. The bikers. The yard-salers. Everyone's getting in their last hurrah.

Don't curse me for saying this: the summer is at an end. It's that slight shift in the atmosphere. You can feel it. The air's a little thinnner, the sun a little lower on the horizon. And then nostalgia sets in.

This kind of weather makes me want to eat a tuna melt on rye. So I made one for lunch today. I ate it outside in the sun. I closed my eyes, listened to the breeze, felt it soften my skin and I remembered, years back. We were picnicing on Emerald Lake in East Dorset. Mama Sonia used to put together the best picnics (Aunt Lucy can attest to that.) There was yummy ham and turkey from Harringtons. Delicious cheeses and specialty mustards. Salty Cape Cod potato chips. And rye bread. I only ate rye bread at Mama Sonia's and Papa Roger's. So, inevitably, to this day when I eat it, I think of them. I think of the picnics on Emerald Lake. The paddle boats. Walks in the forest. Sleepy, tired children.

I smelled the rye bread on my tuna melt. It smelled so yummy and bready. So picnicy. So Mama Sonia.

Later, I walked by a kitchen shop downtown. It smelled like her pantry. There was always a wealth of different crackers and dips for summer parties at their home in Peru, Vermont. Sticky homemade jams for our morning toast. The specialty mustards I grew to love so much on my sandwiches (even as a child). And loaves of rye bread. For the picnic sandwiches.

Just now, I stopped by Emma and Kevin's house to do a couple things while they're away. They've just redone their floors--a beautiful hardwood throughout. It smells like sweet, fresh-cut pine. As I let myself in and placed my bare feet on the cool slate entryway. I suddenly felt as though it was 20 years ago and I was walking into Mama Sonia's and Papa Roger's entryway in Peru. The cool slate entryway. The smells of wooden cutting boards and salad bowls and summer decks overlooking the pond. The smell was exactly the same. I wonder if Emi smells that too when she comes home at night?

I'm a little sad today, even though it's the most beautiful day we've had all summer. But I'm happy too, because these smells and these memories I'll have forever.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

piles, piles--everywhere

That's what it's like in our house right now. Piles of annoying crap everywhere--crap we've no place to put. Or haven't figured out where to put yet. Still, the move is coming along. We finally moved out of the old place and cleaned it from top to bottom. We both got a little teary-eyed when we closed and locked the door for the last time. AB is now moving in there with her boy. I'm glad it's staying in the fam.

Now we can focus on unpacking. Decorating. Relaxing. I decided to pass on our annual Labor Day weekend trip to the Cape with friends so that I can stay... home... and... do... nothing...

By nothing, I mean drink some wine, sleep in, drink coffee, take naps on the new sofa, go to the farmer's market. (Has it really been over a month since I've done a shop there?) Make some peach ice cream with some Shelburne Orchard peaches (they're ready and ripe!). Cook. Hang out with some gals. Hang out with the cats. Hang out by the pool. Is it really Labor Day weekend?

By nothing, I mean doing everything--for me and me alone. I hope that doesn't sound too selfish. I love you all.


today from Aunt Lucy

Dear Family,

Some of you have requested a copy of what I said at Mom's Mass so here it is. Also, here is a poem I would like to share with you by Lisel Mueller:

When I Am Asked

When I am asked
how I began writing poems,
I talk about the indifference of nature.

It was soon after my mother died,
a brilliant June day,
everything was blooming.

I sat on a gray stone bench
in a lovingly planted garden,
but the day lilies were as deaf
as the ears of drunken sleepers
and the roses curved inward.
Nothing was black or broken
and not a leaf fell
and the sun blared endless commercials
for summer holidays.

I sat on a gray stone bench
ringed with the ingenue faces
of pink and white impatiens
and placed my grief
in the mouth of language,
the only thing that would grieve with me.

Love, Lucy


Mama Sonia's Eulogy

When I think of Mom some of the things that come to mind are: loving, generous, thoughtful, supportive, caring, laughing, wonderful food, music….

Wherever Sonia lived she became involved in the community and was very giving of her time and talents. She worked hard raising funds for the Eye Bank Assoc of Puerto Rico. When we were kids she was a Girl Scout leader and a Cub Scout Den Mother. When Mom & Dad moved to Florida one of the things she did was become a Meals on Wheels volunteer delivering meals to people who were much older at the time. Of course Mom did not just deliver meals they became friends-she knew their life history, she gave them birthday and Christmas presents… Also, she was Chairman of the Beautification Committee of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce. Sonia was very involved with her Bible study group and her Tertulia group of Spanish speaking friends.

Mom’s thoughtfulness was especially evident in her gift giving. When you received a gift from her you could tell a lot of thought went into selecting the gift and the perfect card to go with it. About 10 years ago I mentioned to her that we used to see rabbits around our house but had not seen any evidence of rabbits for a long time. The following Christmas she sent us (2) cast iron rabbits for our yard. When I see those rabbits I’m reminded of Mom’s love and thoughtfulness.

One way Mom expressed her caring and generosity was thru her cooking. She devoted a lot of time and energy to the planning and cooking of amazingly good food. When we were kids every picnic on the beach, every dinner was a gourmet treat-a delicious leg of lamb (my favorite) would be followed by a scrumptious shepherd’s pie.

Mom & Dad were famous for giving great parties in Puerto Rico-relatives and friends knew that a party at Roger & Sonia’s would be lots of fun with great food. Thirty years ago when they moved to Florida, Roger and Sonia continued to give wonderful parties.

Mom loved music-some of my favorite memories are connected to music. When I was a little girl we would listen to opera on the radio. As we listened to operas such as La Boheme, Aida, La Traviata she would be explaining what was happening.

Mama Sonia had a special relationship with her grandchildren. She relished their visits both in Florida and Vermont. She had all sorts of activities planned for everyone’s enjoyment—museums, concerts, shopping, Disney World, Sea World and every other kind of world.

Mom and Dad had an extraordinarily wonderful relationship, an example to be followed, and now they are together again.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

nantucket pics, quick

I've been meaning to post the lot for almost a month. These select few will have to do for now...

And finally, taking a snooze in the new bedroom...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

her hands

I keep saying to myself, "when things settle down, I'm going to focus more on writing." I'm going to make it a priority again. Trouble is, if I keep waiting for the quiet rhythm to start back up again, I fear, I may be waiting still for a long time...

It's Wednesday night. It doesn't feel like Wednesday. I don't know what day it feels like. I don't remember what day it was I found out Mama Sonia died. I think it was Friday. We flew down to Florida on Monday. Funeral was Tuesday morning at the cemetery by the golf course. Under a canopy of Spanish moss.

Wake was Monday night. The casket was open—we weren't expecting that. But once I got over the initial surprise, it was actually okay. She looked okay.

It's funny, when Papa Roger passed away last year, what I remembered most about his physical self laying there in the casket were his hands. I remembered the way he would rub his thumbs together in peaceful contemplation. With Mama Sonia, it's the same: her hands. They were always so soft, so well manicured. I can still picture her writing so carefully in her black book or addressing an envelope or filling out a shopping list. She had the most perfect and thoughtful penmanship. Her hands created that. And so much more.

They looked good, laying there, placed just so one crossed over the other.

I'm tired of thinking about it now. But I do want to think about her more. I will. I am.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

finally, i internet

After some delay, we're now online at the new place. That means we no longer have to feel totally stranded when we come home at night. It also means I can start writing again.

But just because I have the means, does not mean I have the will.

This week has been one of the most trying and emotionally challenging in a long time. All I really want to do, all the time, is go to bed. Yet I never seem to get there...

Any-who. Looking forward to the weekend with some visitors. Another brunch at Shelburne Farms will certainly do the trick.

And maybe, just maybe, I'll get to the berry farm on Sunday. The summer's nearly passed and I barely blinked an eye.

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