Family

Milestones

When my parents celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary their friends put some money together to buy them a Heritage Waterford Crystal bowl.  For the next twenty years that bowl took center stage in my mother’s dining room, where she hosted frequent elegant gatherings.  After her death it was consigned to a life of darkness and quiet solitude in my dining room cupboard.

We lived very different lives, my mother and I.  Nannette was beautiful and stylish, formal and proper, cool and crisp, sharp edges and bold colors. My style has always run toward faded blue jeans and hiking boots. Dinner party tableware in my house goes in the dishwasher or the recycle bin.  

But the other day I took that bowl out of the cupboard, not for dinner party elegance, but as a frame for the botanical world takes center stage for my art.  I wondered how side- and under-lighting through the cut crystal edges would affect a still life in that bowl.  As I worked, carefully arranging graceful organic forms in this crystal anniversary gift, it occurred to me that another milestone is just around the corner.  Soon it will be 25 years, a quarter of a century, since Nannette was here on Mother’s Day.  Yet her presence remains heartfelt as my ephemeral botanicals and her enduring crystal, together, become something new.
 

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New Mexicans and Eclairs.....

My grandmother was a woman ahead of her time.  While most women of her generation were homemakers, circumstances forced my grandma Ida into the role of working mom. She ran a restaurant and then went to work at a hostess a “white tablecloth” place that was spiffy in its day.  She worked hard and made sure that her girls had what they needed.  This did not, however, include much in the way of home cooking. On the many nights when my grandmother worked late, my mom and her sisters ate warm dinners from the restaurant kitchen that Ida had delivered in a taxi.  

So you get the picture - no "Grandma's home-baked cookies" for me.  But Ida did something far better.  Throughout my childhood she never appeared at our house without a pink pastry box holding éclairs or cream puffs from the local bakery.  This was the Fifties when bakeries actually made recipes from scratch using real butter and cream. My love affair with baking began with those pink pastry boxes. There is nothing like being a kid with a small face and a relatively large cream puff.  When you bite into it, there are gobs of cream squirting all over – waiting to be licked off with a joyfulness that I can still remember.  Over time, I switched allegiance to the chocolate and pastry cream of those éclairs…..

What does all this have to do with Santa Fe?  Well, it turns out New Mexicans have a thing about éclairs.  We were standing in line waiting to order in a café one day when a waiter walked by with the biggest éclair I had ever seen.  On his next pass I just had to ask, and he laughed saying, “I took one of these giant éclairs home and it took me four weeks to eat it!”  Several other places in town feature big éclairs. 

  Giant eclairs of Santa Fe are far bigger than iPhones.

Giant eclairs of Santa Fe are far bigger than iPhones.

But nothing prepared me for the extra giant humungous eclairs we found in Charlie’s Spic and Span coffee shop in Las Vegas, NM. The giant cream puff above the door should have been a dead giveaway. 

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Cruising the pastry case I stopped dead in my tracks.  If Santa Fe had a Giant Éclair, - Charlie’s makes extra giant humungous size éclairs – at least 10” long.  All are made on the premises with great pride.

  I didn't have the presence of mind when I snapped this photo to ask if the guy behind the counter was related to the painting behind him.  Next time I need 40,000 calories I will drive back and ask....

I didn't have the presence of mind when I snapped this photo to ask if the guy behind the counter was related to the painting behind him.  Next time I need 40,000 calories I will drive back and ask....

Rainbow over Souris...

This is the view from the front yard of the house in Souris West, Prince Edward Island, where my dad, late in life, found time to sit still... time to enjoy the serenity of this landscape of gentle farms rolling down to the sea. That he loved the quiet peace of this place was a surprise to everyone, even him.

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Walking on the sandy streets along the beach I have been pondering the joys and surprises that come unexpectedly later in life.  I always thought that the love of the outdoors that I share with my brothers was something generational and had no connection to our parents.  Appreciation for nature and outdoor activity simply weren’t an important part of our family life growing up. The pleasures of camping and hiking eluded my parents and, as for the white water rafting and rock climbing we loved, the less said the better.  Yet in the autumn of life, my Dad came to appreciate the quiet grace of this landscape and I became an artist.  I guess we are all a family of late bloomers.

Whistles and Wails on Reloj

Most mornings, on my first break in Spanish School, I hotfoot it down to Reloj to La Comela, better known as the Blue Door Bakery to get a cinammon roll.  Along with caffeine it keeps my brain going.

As I approached the corner this morning there was a racket-  whoops, whistles, cries of “eeieee  eeiyee” and sirens.  I arrived in time to see about a 100 school kids on bikes careening down the street on bicycles with what I am assuming were parents and teachers running along side, shouting encouragement. There was also a police escort with sirens wailing.

The tail end of the group were the youngest kids who clearly were finding the it a challenge to keep their balance on the cobbles. You just never know what you find on your 10 minute study break…..

The Twilight Zone

All week David has been telling me I am going to be late to things I have put on the calendar. 
According to his calendar my photo club is at 1:00.
 “Well I made a mistake, I know it is at 2:00.”

“Don’t you have a meeting at noon?”
“No it is at 1:00.”

“Book club is in 45 minutes,” he says. 
“No it isn’t.  It’s at 5:30.””
“Well why did you put 4:30 on the calendar?”

This was getting out of hand. It seemed as though the Gmail calendar that has been the Demilitarized Zone for calendar communications in our marriage was failing, or I was losing my mind. Neither option was a good one. So we started an investigation. 
✔ Both of our computers were set to the same time zone.
 ✔ Both computers started with correct dates in the calendar.

But we when the dates flew through cyber space they consistently arrived with different time settings- David changed his Google settings to Central Mexico time-  I had not

I am happy to report that marital equilibrium has been restored and we are both living in the same house in the same time zone.

Summer Weddings

Weddings- they don’t come very often into my life.  I seemed to have traveled six decades and can still count on my fingers the total number of weddings I have ever attended.  So in fit of a cosmic readjustment I attended two weddings last weekend. One groom I have known since he was in diapers and the other groom since he attended Kindergarten with my daughter.

 Happily, the weather gods of New England were kind this wedding weekend, sending cooling breezes, spectacular sunsets, and all the sunshine one could wish for.  In dramatically different settings -  one overlooking Boston Harbor and the other where the marsh and meadow meet on the Slocum’s River, each celebration gave me time to ponder not just bringing together of families and the joy and possibility that weddings are all about, but also the enduring power of the friendships around which we build our “chosen families.”

I hope my children, now in their twenties, will be blessed with a few deep and abiding friendships along the way. When I met the Olebe’s at age 25, I could not have guessed the pleasure in store for me almost 40 years later when I would dance at their son’s wedding, and share a dance with the youngest man of the Olebe clan, Adrian.