Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Wren Sent

Shortly after I spilled my juice, I got a call from a nurse sitting with my dad. It was very embarrassing to spill my juice at lunchtime in front of all the preschoolers, but there was no use crying over it. The nurse was called by Dad's housekeeper when she couldn't get into his house this morning. Dad was extremely weak. He's in the hospital now, apparently with the beginnings of pneumonia. I'm extremely grateful that my brother could get there quickly to be with him and keep tabs on Dad's clarity of thought.

This evening amidst the flurry of phone calls, I kept seeing bird movements from the corner of my eye. This bird really wanted to call attention to itself, walking along the crosspiece of the fence and making Olympic hop-skip-jumps. It's vertical tail let me know this was an unusual visitor. I don't know if I've ever had a wren on my little condo patio. You might identify it as a Bewick's wren, and that would be correct. I know it was a message from my mom letting me know whatever happens with Dad will be good. This odd hopping visitor brought me comfort, courage, and permission to be a little bit weepy.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Betsy McCall paper dolls

Mom subscribed to McCall's Magazine for many years, and I looked forward to the arrival of each new issue in hopes of finding a new Betsy McCall paper doll and story. Mom sewed nearly all our dresses and playclothes, using McCall's, Butterick, and Simplicity patterns. On a few occasions she made a dress just like Betsy's paper dress. It was great when Mom decided quickly on a Betsy McCall dress pattern. We spent so many, many, many hours of childhood seated at the pattern book tables in fabric departments agonizing over selections.

Mom made a brown dress for me just like Betsy's with the button-on yoke from McCall's September 1962 issue. Mom made it again in a royal blue border print with a white button-on yoke. 1962 was a wonderful year. I adored my second grade teacher, Mrs. Sandra "Cotton" Meier with her prematurely white hair. She encouraged me to write poems and stories (about three sentences long on lined newsprint paper) and to illustrate them with crayon drawings. My hair was cut shorter than Betsy's, and it was the last year I really liked my appearance for a long time.

Thanks so much to the Betsy McCall Paper Dolls web page for a lovely trip down memory lane.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Cantaloupe 1971

I'm allergic to pollens of the ragweed botanical family. Bananas and chamomile tea really set me off. I never know if cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumbers, or sunflowers will send me sneezing. I hope not, because I want to know what is different about a Dulcinea cantaloupe.

Kroger had Dulcinea cantaloupe on sale, so I got one. Dulcinea is the name of Don Quixote's envisioned female perfection. Funny that buying a cantaloupe with a brand sticker can send me on a memory trip to 1971.

Fritzi and I had planned to attend the Nebraska Repertory's "Man of La Mancha" together that summer, but she had to have "some female surgery". As a young teen, I had only the vaguest uncomfortable inklings of the complexities of female plumbing. These days my contemporaries have ongoing story sagas with their "female plumbing". Cantaloupe is a memorable scent. So is the smell of the House of Bauer's Bavarian Mints that I took my mom in the hospital.

Dulcinea... Dulcinea... I see heaven when I see thee, Dulcinea, And thy name is like a prayer An angel whispers... Dulcinea... Dulcinea!

PADRE: To each his Dulcinea
That he alone can name...
To each a secret hiding place
Where he can find the haunting face
To light his secret flame.
For with his Dulcinea
Beside him so to stand,
A man can do quite anything,
Outfly the bird upon the wing,
Hold moonlight in his hand.
Yet if you build your life on dreams
It's prudent to recall,
A man with moonlight in his hand
Has nothing there at all.
There is no Dulcinea,
She's made of flame and air,
And yet how lovely life would seem
If ev'ry man could weave a dream
To keep him from despair.
To each his Dulcinea...
Though she's naught but flame and air!

My students are unaware of windmills, and as unlikely to tilt at them as they are to dial a rotary phone. A Bauer's Bavarian mint would taste great right now.

Mom sewed this dress for me that summer.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Peanut butter

Dad and I finally got around to having peanut butter and bacon sandwiches with lettuce and Miracle Whip on whole wheat toast this week. "This is for Mom," I said, and he agreed. The taste and texture sensations were even better than I had remembered.