Saturday, November 29, 2014

Getting labeled

During the first part of our marriage we lived in the City of Orange, which rightly deserved its name. The climate in that area is perfect for growing oranges, and the city was surrounded by orange groves that were still in production when we moved there. One of the first apartments we lived in was on the edge of an orange grove that was still producing oranges, and the smell of the blossoms wafting through the air when the trees began to bloom made one giddy. But by the time we left for Oregon in 1979, most of the trees had been bulldozed to make room for people and their buildings. The City Fathers, in their wisdom, proudly announced the city would plant a specimen orange grove in a green space to remind people of the history of the town. How ironic, we thought.

Orange was incorporated in 1871, and in 1971, the city decided to celebrate the Centennial of its founding by having a huge street party. I am not sure how this happened, because my husband is a rather shy type, but he became the chairman of the committee that was organizing the festivities. And somehow, and again, I am not sure how this happened, we came to be in possession of a collection of labels that the packing houses put on the crates of oranges that they shipped.

Some of them are quite beautiful, and have themes—these with a fabric theme hang in our bathroom. 

A few of the many others that are hanging here and there around the house.... 

Fast forward to November 13 when my cousin, who now lives in New York, came to visit (see last post).

His mother (my Dad’s youngest sister) and father lived not too far from where our family lived, and we spent quite a bit of time together when we were children. 

And then life happened, and I hadn’t seen him for about 12 years. It worked out quite nicely that he was able to time a visit to his father and they could both come on Nov. 13 to celebrate my Dad's birthday

He told me that while he on a quest to find fruit crate labels of all the places he had lived in, he happened across a crate label that he thought would be the perfect label to give me for a belated birthday present.
  And indeed it is. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

The communal cup

Sharing of food has always been part of the human story… “to break bread together,” a phrase as old as the Bible, captures the power of a meal to forge relationships, bury anger, provoke laughter…
Victoria Pope, National Geographic, December 2014

And all these things did indeed happen on the evening of November 13 as we gathered to honor our Dad on the occasion of his 90th birthday.
 In addition to the four of us

and assorted spouses, our cousin, who was raised not too far away until they moved North, but now lives in New York, and his father, who still lives in Northern California, also came, bringing with them beautiful flowers for the table...
 some dynamite sauerkraut from Trader Joe’s 
 (a few days later I bought 4 jars of it for Dad to enjoy)
and family photos of shared events—camping trips and holiday celebrations—many of which we had never seen before.

After the meal there was much hootin’ and hollerin’ and general laughter

as we shared memories and looked at versions of ourselves as young infants, children, awkward adolescents, and then at our weddings as young adults.

Then came the moment in the midst of this boisterous gathering when I picked up the cup of coffee in front of me on the coffee table
(you can just see it sitting there by my cousin's knee)
 and started drinking it and then realized it was my sister’s coffee—not mine—I had not yet gotten a cup for myself. Under other circumstances perhaps I would have said nothing and looked innocent but for some reason, this struck me as being hilariously funny. I do not laugh quietly.  

In some Christian traditions, the cup offered during the Communion service is a communal cup— everyone drinks from the same cup—and through the laughter and good-natured bantering that followed after I drank my sister’s coffee, I sensed that we were indeed communing in very real sense.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A short tale about a short tail

What have I got in my pocket?” he said aloud. He was talking to himself, but Gollum thought it was a riddle, and he was frightfully upset.

“Not fair! Not fair! He hissed. “It isn’t fair, my precious, is it, to ask us what it’s got in its nassty little pocketeses?”
Which brings me to ask the question:

What have I got in my pocket?

Yes indeed.

It was cold enough the other morning that we needed to move from the light jacket to the medium level coat – the coat one wears when it not quite cold enough for the heavy duty winter coat. This was the first time I had worn the coat since I last wore it in the early Spring.

The coat given to me by a friend, perhaps 15 years ago. I call it my coat of many colors because...
it is indeed very bright and cheerful. It makes me feel bright and cheerful when I wear it.

I had forgotten to wear my gloves, and my hands were a little chilly, so as Richard and I walked along, whichever hand was not holding the dog’s leash was in the pocket.

And it happened that I had my left hand in the left side pocket to see what I might find. One never knows. If I had last worn the coat to church, it might be cellophane wrapped piece of hard candy or some other odd thing.

I did not find any old candy, but down in the seam of the pocket I did indeed feel something was there…
And I was very, very surprised.

Because this was not something that I had picked up and put in the pocket. No indeed.

And when I e-mailed the former owner of the coat, she also didn’t remember picking anything like it up.

But there it was…

It is not from a toy stuffed animal, it is a real tail and I have concluded it is the tail of a baby skunk.

But how it came to be there is indeed one of those odd moments that occur periodically.