Holiday & Hybernation

wpid-IMG_20140104_085441.jpgI have provisions:  milk, bread, beads, coffee, cigs, pencils, cereal, etc.   It is January.  And it is frigid  COLD here in Ohio.  The sunlight pouring through my windows is deceptive.   As I write, it is only 10 degrees Fahrenheit out there, but it feels like minus 4.  The day will warm up, but the bitter is coming.  Bing weather predicts Tuesday as the worst with a minus 14 at 8AM, then warming up to flat zero by 6PM.  Of course, that is subject to change.  Every time I glance at the weather predictions, the numbers seem to have shifted slightly.  I don’t think they really know enough to accurately predict by hour so many days ahead.

Anyway, I don’t do bitter cold well.  My bones lock up and nerves complain, so I am just going to hibernate until the weather breaks.   I will leave my apartment, but I am not leaving this building unless it becomes absolutely necessary.

So, how was your holidays?  Happy New Years, and all that jazz.

I had a good holiday.

We had a little Christmas Eve gathering with the grandchildren at my place, then I went down to Salem with the Xman.   We hung out at his new house for awhile.   It is not exactly new anymore, just new to me as I hadn’t seen it before.  He moved there after his house burned down in 2012.  With his permission, I snapped a photo of this old photo to post on Facebook with an “anyone remember these boys” just for grins, as children of two of the young men in the old photograph have children on my friend’s list.  

Left to right, the late Buck Brown, the Xman, and Billy Joe Van Cooney.

Left to right, the late Buck Brown, the Xman, and Billy Joe Van Cooney.

It’s a bad photo, but considering it is a photo of a photo that survived a fire… not bad at all.

I like this photo because it shows all three of them together. I don’t know what year this photo was taken, might have been a year or so before or even that same summer; it is hard to tell trying to base time by the Xman’s balding pattern. Bill moved to Holmes County years ago and Buck died two… no, it’s been three years now.

One of the reasons I posted it was because I wanted my daughter to see her dad as he was when I met him. Kids should get a glimpse of time before them, to see their father as just a boy hanging out with his friends.

I stayed a couple nights at my sister’s house, spent Christmas day visiting with family who lives in and around Salem, and celebrated New Year’s Eve at First Night Youngstown.  (I gave the spare badge to a neighbor who was planning on going and had yet to buy his ticket.)   At midnight, I was already home snuggled in my bed so if what you do at midnight influences the coming year, I should get plenty of rest in 2014.

If I have any resolutions for this year, it will be to make smaller art again…  here is a cell phone photo of the drawing I chopped down to 5×7 and finished on New Year’s Day.  There is a story behind the Two Faced woman, but I shall tell you that another day… a case of life infiltrating art.

Two Faced

Two Faced


Grand Mothers

I was born with six grandmothers still living, although memories of the two great-grandmothers are scattered images etched on my mind, grandma Davis as an ancient old woman confined to a hospital bed and grandma Blackburn from the knees down, heavy stockings under long skirts and orthopedic shoes. With her, other senses recorded the memories. Her home smelled like love, peace, and fresh baked pies.

We were blessed with extra grandmas because our parents both came from homes “broken” in the 1940s and each grandparent had remarried long before I was born. Grandfathers chose second wives who were different than their first wives, so the sharp contrasts between grandmothers was obvious, even to a small child.

For example, both paternal grandmothers played piano, but they sure did not sound the same. One was an accomplished classical pianist hitting every perfect note of some Bach or whatever composition and the other played honky-tonk with such energy, the whole house shook. The classical pianist gave up her job as a writer of the woman’s page in the “Farm & Dairy” weekly newspaper to fully embrace the role of homemaker after marriage, although she continued to write poetry and had several books locally published. The other worked in the shops during WWII, tended bar, took in stray people, and ran the Igloo, a restaurant set up by the Youngstown mob as a front for a gambling establishment near Salem, Ohio,until it was raided and closed in the late 1960s.

As for my maternal grandmothers, one was a refined, soft spoken southern lady with a gentle spirit and a warm smile, the other was a “steel magnolia” kind of woman who took her secrets to the grave.

As different as they all were, the advice each gave young women were surprisingly simular: hold your head up and go on, never hang your head over something a man has done, sometimes you just have to step out of your underwear and go on, never hide money in your bra as that is the first place a man will look… okay, not all advice followed the same theme.

Each of these four women – grandmas Ruth, Goldie, Evelyn, and Junie Belle – seasoned our lives, each with their own unique blend of spices.

Some I knew better than others, partly because of geography, and partly because of time. Grandma Goldie died when I was… oh, 13 or 14, but there are times when I walk into my home and it smells like hers. As an adult, I felt closest to grandma Ruth because we talked often and understood each other. Her laughter is etched in my audio memories so just out of the blue sometimes, I hear her laugh. She was the steel magnolia.

Happy Mother’s Day!