Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Maroon Hairbrush

My father's mother was not a prissy person by any means.  I don't think I ever saw her wear a skirt or dress in my whole life.  She grew up as a displaced partial Jew in Poland and Germany.  She had two boys for her children (that's not exactly a gentling experience!).  She had a roughish, almost raspy voice with which she'd peck about at my Dad in Polish, usually followed by an exasperated flop of the hands when he'd "ja wiem!!!!!"-ed her enough for her to give in.

She protectively loved us very much, but I never thought of her as girly in any way.  There was one thing that would give her away.  When I would go spend the night at Grandma's house by myself (AKA no brothers included), after dinner I would sit down at the old table on Grandpa's side after he would finish his 7 Up and leave the room with the two waddly dogs trailing behind him.  When their little toenails would finish clicking away into the distance, Grandma would clear off the table and carefully wipe the vinyl table cloth.  Then she would open the painted kitchen drawer directly behind me and pull out of it a maroon handled brush.  The bristles on it were curiously soft and pliable, perfect for getting a girl's hair to a silky smoothness.  She'd every so gently brush out my hair for ten or fifteen minutes at a time, telling me how she had always wanted to have a girl.  Her work-worn, wrinkly hands were gentle as she brushed away, stroking the hair back away from my face and ears.

She told me all kinds of things while she brushed my hair. She taught me what she used to keep the copper bottoms of her pots shiny.  She told me how many eggs she used to make Grandpa's pound cake.  She even told me the story of my Dad hiding a pet monkey in the basement and how scared she was when she happened upon it in the dark.

She loved her children; she chuckled about their crazy boy antics.  Deep down, though, in her heart, she wanted what she had never had--a little girl to dote on and dress up.  She had never had anyone decorate up her hair with ribbons and dress her in frilly, lacy dresses.  She never indulged herself in a girlish, pampering way.  Her heart's desire was to do the brushing and caring and pampering.  I have often wondered since then if her mother had ever sat her down after dinner and brushed her hair when she had been little, before she had died, leaving her largely alone in the world.  Did Grandma remember her Mom showing her love with her work-worn hands?

I didn't realize it at the time.  In fact when I was little, I was a little scared of Grandma.  She seemed so tough.  As I grew to know her better, I realized that under the exterior that a difficult childhood had created, my Grandma was one of the most loyal and tender people I'd ever known.  She loved without exception; she was gentle not only with her hands, but with her heart.

Grandma's been gone for almost fifteen years now, but any time I brush out my Cara's long, straight hair, I think of my Grandma and how much she would have loved knowing this whole flock of little girls I have.  I miss my Grandma, and the pleasure of knowing her as an adult didn't last very long.  I wish I would have been able to lay the first great-granddaughter in her arms and look at her face. It would have given me great joy to see her love them in her quiet way.  I wish she were here to soothe away the tangles of life for my girls, too.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Real Story of Cincinnati Chili, Part 7

Now, I realize that most of you have no idea what is happening with our prior installments, but have no fear, I'm including the link to Part 6 so you'll be able to update yourself on the fabulous antics of my alterego, er, my character Hannistina.  What can I say?  Life at times needs some comic relief.

Ah yes, as I recall, I had just dashed the hopes of my co-writer by following the smooch with a wallop of near-coma force to our poor Dudley.  Apparently I wasn't much into the safe, lovely ending at the time.  It was way too much fun to keep on writing!  Poor co-writer of mystery, I can tell even now that you didn't know what to do with my twist.  Never fear.  I had a great depression scene in mind.  I giggled until I cried when I originally wrote this one.  Even now it's enough to almost quench the thought of my own dirty dishes right in the next room...

Chapter 3: Forgiveness 

     Hannistina walked down the street to the library with her cheeks aflame. By now, everyone in town had heard of yesterday's trip to the post office that eventually led to a trip to the hospital.  Oh how rumors spread in a small town, 
especially when fueled by a dramatic, screaming ambulance.  She hung her head with shame.  What had started out to be a semi-normal day had turned into nightmare! Even her family on the other side of the country heard of her fiasco, 
due to her father's impeccable timing!  To think, he had called to say he reconsidered and was going to offer her the money to finance her shop.  He had told her in no uncertain terms that she was immediately to call 911.   

     "When you knock a man unconscious, you must seek medical attention."  were his last words.  Obviously, talk of the shop was now out of the question.  The silence on the other end of the phone was painful as she had realized how alone she was in her predicament. 

     Her memories were sharply interrupted when she walked into the buzzing library and all heads turned in her direction.  She thought she might find at 
least one sympathetic face in the crowd, but it seemed that alliances lay with Mr. Dudley Bonmuffin.  It seems that when one flirts openly with a man and invites him into her home, it is not well received to put him into the hospital for a mere light kiss! 

     Hannistina held her head up high and put her books into the return slot. She marched to the computer and stared at the screen.  What was she here to look for?  After a moment the room recovered and she remembered that she was looking for a business book.  The room again began to quietly buzz.  In this neighborhood, not even libraries were a sanctuary from gossip.  Hannistana gathered her courage and retrieved the book.  After checking out, she made her way home.  She would finish her errands another day when some embarrassment from another unlucky citizen had replaced hers. Unfortunately, it would be months before she would go out without angry glares from Dudley's supporters.  Apparently Dudley was more popular than she gave him credit.   

     A few days had gone by.  There was no denying it now--she was depressed.  Tears rolled down Hannistina's gently sloped nose.  She raised her head to grab 
a tissue and was awed by what she saw.  All around her the evidence of her depression was all too true.  Next to her on the bed was the library book, never once opened, along with an extra large bag of Dove Promises, three King size Reese's Cups, and all seven boxes of Girl Scout cookies from her freezer. These of course had been opened and vociferously attacked in her fever to erase her shame.  She began to get a little dizzy from her sharply dropping blood sugar.  

     "I need to get some real food," she thought.  Clad in her pink poodle fuzzy pajamas, she slowly descended the stairs, only to find an even bigger mess in the kitchen.  She willed her eyes past the dishes littering every countertop, to the refrigerator.  She inspected its contents unenthusiastically--"leftover brussels egg nog...definitely not...what's that?"  she inspected the tupperware container shoved near the back of the bottom shelf..."oh, wow...forgot about that".  Into the overflowing trash it went.  Her thoughts wandered to her pantry, shelf three, slightly to the left of the middle behind the conspicuously healthy whole grains, where she stored her marshmallows and baking chocolate. 

     "No, I can't.  I've got to concentrate."  

     She pulled out some provolone cheese.  There was no use trying to cook, as all her dishes were dirty. 
     Hannistina aimlessly ambled into the living room and sat down at her computer.  Writing in her journal had always made her feel better, but lately, she hadn't really felt like writing in it.  She didn't particularly want to chronicle this part of her life.  With a sigh, she began to look for a new cookbook to buy.  A picture of Rocco DiSpirito popped up, and she took another bite.  Why couldn't he have been the one to taste her chili and to... 

Apparently Ghiradelli wasn't the only Italian of Hannistina's dreams...

     There was a sharp rap at the door.  Hannistina shoved the last few bites of 
cheese into her mouth and rose to answer the door.  She instinctively glanced in the mirror near the door to check her hair.  Thank goodness she could always count on her pristine curls retaining their perfect shape.  She opened the door, 
peering out blandly at the uniformed man.  

     "Miss Hershey?" he asked. 

     "Yes, I am Hannistina Hershey.  Can I help you?". 

     "Got a package here for you.  Have a great day."  He all but hurled the large box into her hands.  She retreated into the quiet darkness of her house, 
inspecting the box as she walked to the couch.  How odd.  She wasn't expecting 
anything, and it wasn't sent through the mail.  She untied the ribbon and pulled 
the top off the box.  She gasped as she saw its contents, for inside was a warm, lovely meal from none other than the Bonmuffin bakery. 

    Okay, I have to admit, I went a little overboard on the elipses in this one. What's a girl to do when she's typing as fast as her giggling, crying self can crank out another chocolate allusion.  Stay tuned for more Hannistina in the near future!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

An Update

Why yes, now that you ask, it HAS been quite a while since I've written a post.  The combination of adjusting to baby four,  the Christmas season, and having no functional enter key did me in for quite some time.  I have to say though, baby four is absolutely adorable, and much more mellow than I deserve.  I think God had pity on my poor overwhelmed brain.  Look at this...gorgeous...

Bet you wish you had a best buddy who would take pictures of your babies for free, huh?
So anyway, Christmas being done, I'm trying to clear the writing rust from my brain.  Oh yes, and watch this...



A functional keyboard is a very inspiring thing.  With this, along with the help of Saturday morning cartoons, I hope to be posting a little bit more.  Now, to de-Christmas the blog...