Tag Archive | memories

Annus Horribilis

2014 & 2015 were years of big personal loss for me but this year it was the year people my age who grew up in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, we lost our touchstones because the people that died this year weren’t just icons, they were the touchstones we remember out life by.

Growing up in LA before TV became a truly national 24/7 thing we had local tv and that was KTLA 5, KCOP 13, KTTV 11 and KHJ now KCAL 9 and what they showed was mostly kids shows like Engineer Bill, Sheriff John and Chucko the Clown and black and white movies when it wasn’t the news. It started with the Star Spangled Banner and the farm report and ended with the test pattern with the Indian and grey and white boxes.

So I watched black and white movies with my dad a lot. Saturday morning was Mighty Mouse and Heckel and Jeckel and Buster Keaton and Laurel and Hardy and then it switched to movies like “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Tammy” which my dad loved. So I learned to love Debbie Reynolds.

I remember my dad ranting about Cassius Clay changing his name to Mohammed Ali and ranting about his refusing the draft and my beginnings of political awakening and arguing against the draft which my dad, the WWII vet thought was sacrilege but he did think women should be drafted to which I found horrifying especially after passing most of the ARMY battery tests they gave us in school at 100% because guys my age were being sent to Vietnam. I got letters from all the military services for years after that. I beat all the boys. The only one I would have considered was the Coast Guard and I get sea sick.

We watched all the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo shots as a family. My mom was obsessed with NASA and the space program. I think she would have been an astronaut in a heartbeat. She would get us out of bed and o dark hundred to watch every launch and every landing because we had to see history being made and we held our breaths waiting to see John Glenn get rescued not knowing if he was alive or not.

I remember becoming aware of pop music since my family was a classical/musical theater sort of family and learned to play the guitar and finding my friends in love with Space Oddity and David Bowie, he was in the background of 1969 and 1970 so much.

Having to read To Kill a Mockingbird in high schools by Harper Lee, it was one of the few required books I actually enjoyed. George Kennedy was on tv prime time in the cop shows my mom loved.

Summer music was listening to the Eagles and the Beach Boys out here and someone better wrap Brian Wilson in bubble wrap for the next few days.

Young Frankenstein, Willy Wonka, nights in the dark movie theater and laughing with Gene Wilder and falling in love with Willy and his sweet imagination.

Star Wars came out 1977 and we fell in love with the whole cast and this year we lost R2D2, Kenny Baker and Princess Leia, the amazing and wonderful, Carrie Fisher. And we lost the voice of Admiral Akbar, Erik Bauersfeld.

When I came out to the lesbian discos we had Prince and George Michael. So many dances and memories to “Wake me up before you gogo” and “Little Red Corvette”.

My dad loved to watch golf and he made us watch Arnie, he loved Arnold Palmer and would have joined Arnie’s Army in a heart beat.

I learned about Leonard Cohen by listening to Judy Collins and learning to play and sing Suzanne at camp on my guitar.

And Laura who died in 2014 introduced me to the wonder and joy of Harry Potter when she brought me lent me her copy of Philosopher’s Stone from a trip to London and told me I HAD to read it. She knew I would fall in love. It wasn’t available here yet and I was so frustrated when it finally was published here under the Sorceror’s Stone and they had removed a lot of the Britishisms. I thereafter always ordered a copy of the Harry Potter books when they came out on Amazon US and UK which primed me for the first movie. Laura loved Alan Rickman so if you were at her house you watched Alan Rickman movies but when Harry Potter came out, I fell in love with Snape. He really imbued the character with life.

So many milestones and touchstone moments in my life are gone this year. Moments captured in amber of memory and somewhere on vinyl, celluloid, film and digital but the ones etched in amber? There the ones left in my brain and heart. I think that’s why it hurts so much. I’ll never have the chance to make those moments in real time again. General Leia will be in the next film but the essence behind the General will never make more kick butt moments.

So a huge chunk of my life’s memories are gone in one year and it hurts.
Someone protect Julie Andrews, Dick van Dyke and Carol Burnett, please?

Yule Cookie – English Matrimonials

English Matrimonials

1 ½ cups sifted flour
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 ¼ cup rolled oats
½ teaspoon of salt
¾ cup of butter
3/4 cup of raspberry jam (Mom used Mary Ellen but use the good stuff)

Measure flour, sugar, oats, salt and butter into bowl.
Mix with hands to a crumb-like consistency
Place half of mixture in an ungreased 6×10 Pyrex pan and press firmly
Cover with jam and top with remaining half of mixture
Press firmly
Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 40-45 minutes

Should be slightly candied around the edges and not too moist in center
Cut when cool
Makes 3-5 dozen

The recipe can be used as a dessert by substituting 1 can of whole berry cranberry sauce or cherry or apple pie filling for the jam. Serve warm with ice cream.

Away in the Manger Memories

When I was little our house was full of music and never more than in the holidays. Everyone in the family except my dad was in at least one church choir and us kids were in more than one, usually at least a bell choir and regular kid’s choir but Cam and I were also in a special kids choir that sang during the second service and was in Wylie Chapel. It was a miniature service just for the children from 4th to 6th grade.

The holidays meant lots of rehearsal and lots of singing at Church events and when we got to Junior Hi through High School we got to sing in the 1000 voice choir at Disneyland every year because our Minister of Music founded it. It was hard work but we thought a free night at Disneyland was worth it and we got to have adventures we probably shouldn’t have because we were back stage at Disneyland.

But my earliest memory of Christmas music was singing in the car with my mom. We were at the school my dad taught at. I can remember being in the backseat and my mom had moved to the passenger seat so dad could drive us home. Mom usually didn’t take time with me other than reading to my brother and I and that’s probably why it sticks in my mind. But I can remember sitting there in car and learning to sing “Away in the Manger” which is probably why it’s still my favourite holiday song.

It was probably because I could always sing and hold pitch and that was important to mom so it’s something I remember so clearly that I was alone with her and she was paying attention to just me.

It’s a rate good memory of my mom when I wasn’t disappointing her in some way,

Here is the pagan version I wrote so I could still sing it:

Away as I’m walking ( I prefer the Flow Gently Sweet Afton Tune)

Away as I’m walking upon the far moors

I look to your heavens and stand here in awe

I watch as the far stars all turn in sky

I’m small and a tiny part of the whole.

 

Be near me O Goddess

I ask thee to stay

Close by me forever

And bless those I love

I’m standing here silently under your stars

I can offer you humbly my hands and my heart

(2016 Kat)

 

 

Yule cookie – Mom’s Bon Bons

Mom’s Bon Bons

1 cup sugar
2 cups butter
1 egg
4 cups sifted flour
½ teaspoon of lemon extract
Or a few drops of oil of lemon
1 small jar of S&W chopped fruit
Bag of chopped pecans or walnuts

Mix creaming butter and sugar, adding rest of ingredients
Make into 2 rolls then roll in chopped pecans or walnuts
Put in refrigerator
Slice thin and bake at 400 degrees

The chopped fruit was a jar of mixed maraschino cherries and other coloured fruit.
When in the cookie makes it look like a stained glass window.

The mom in Mom’s is my grandmother and she did this pre any magazine article for stained glass cookies as this was her way of modifying the spritz dough sans the almonds.

Beloved Dead

Goddess, I miss him so much

Some years are worse than others

I miss my shadow

I miss my near twin

I miss his huge smile

I miss his hugs

Oh Goddess

Why does it not getting any easier?

He’s gone and he always will be

I miss his humour that was different from everyone else in the family

I miss when he didn’t get our jokes

I miss him trying

Goddess, grief is an unfillable hole

Yes, grief reminds us we loved

But oh, it hurts sometimes

It hurts to stand alone in the memories

Memories that only he and I held

I miss him hiding behind me when dad hit me

I miss being his protector

I miss him in the audience when I sang

I miss being his audience

Goddess. I’m selfish

I miss his love

I miss his smelly feet

I miss knowing I could call him if I needed

I miss the secret names we called each other

I miss seeing his eyes when we came out to each other

I miss the wonder of knowing he was gay too.

I miss knowing I wasn’t alone with my secret

I miss that he will never know how Harry Potter ended

The last book he read was number 6.

I miss that we can’t share Star Wars rebirth

He kidnapped me to the very first one

Insisting I would love it.

Goddess, I miss my baby brother

And it hurts so much…

I hate the idea of dressing like a nerd for Halloween

I have to admit this whole ‘dress like a nerd” thing is hitting a nerve with me.  I hate to channel the millennials and be offended by everything but it’s just too much like it was in school when they start with the stereotypes. Those people being othered were my people.

I had very few friends in high school and I mostly liked it that way because I had been miserable in Junior High. I think my parents may have suspected or not but they sure kept me busy with activities outside of school all the way into High School. I stayed in Camp Fire way past the time most people had dropped out until my sophomore year in High School when there was no group to join nearby any longer. Some how that led me to be dropped into Junior Achievement and start Candystriping and that didn’t count Church activities like choir, Bell Choir and Bible Study after School and being in school choir and Latin Club.

And when I wasn’t being kept busy I was reading every spare moment or working on needlework projects and designs. By High School I had learned to ignore the teasing and had decided they didn’t matter to me, most of the time. When my brother got to High School 2 years after me all of a sudden I was included with his friends my Senior year. (Our high school was 10-12th grade then) Cam was a band and orchestra geek, a Boy Scout and in Latin too. Somehow in my Senior year, I had a circle of people around me and we added some from A Cappella Choir like Clayton and a few girls that were enamoured of my brother and his friends. Which looking back was pretty funny because most of the guys in the group that the girls were following came out of the closet after graduation. Jerry became a designer, Tony was a pianist for the Opera. Cam became a bank manager before he got cancer but the rest of the guys were fairly stereotypical and we were nerds. And because we travelled in a huge pod we confused the hell out of people because they assumed we were dating each other and we’d go to the movies together but always sat with different people in the group. Now I know that the guys were trying not to be with any one girl and out themselves, I just thought for once it was fun to have friends.

Those of us that weren’t in the marching band comprised the majority of the Pep Squad with the two school mascots. I look back at that yearbook picture and besides the Latin Club and the Science and Computer Clubs and the AV team, there wasn’t a bigger group of nerds in school. We happily did all the shit work the Drill Team and the cheerleaders were too good for and dumbly did it with no complaint. We painted all the signs and did all the things before games that actually involved work, including an enormous paint fight with purple and white paint that year before homecoming and hiking up in the middle of the night to defend the ‘H’ that was limed on the mountain above school. Got threatened by some old man with a shotgun but did it anyway.

We didn’t dress in the height of fashion. None of us cared to or could afford to and some of the girls including myself made some of our clothes. Those of us in Latin Club thought drilling for the next convention was fun and Latin Club had some cache because we won the state sweepstakes every year and were the only language classes that got to travel because of the Annual JCL convention. (Junior Classical League). We were the only nerds that got featured in the Purple Press, the school newspaper. How nerdy were we? I won a first, two seconds and a third in Roman History and Daily Life in competition over 4 years and a second my Senior year in writing Latin poetry.

So this nerd thing is bugging me. I don’t want to dress in pulled up pants, suspenders and a bowtie. I don’t want to put tape on the bridge of my glasses. That alone brings back horrid memories of the time my best friend and I broke our glasses on purpose. I don’t remember why K did it but I did it because mom had bought pink glasses frames and because I had drops in my eyes I couldn’t really see what she had chosen for my next frames at that visit to the eye doctors. I hated pink and she knew it but it was her last attempt at making me a girly girl. I was horrified when I saw them. So K and I made a pact to break our glasses and we thought if we broke the bridge our parents would replace them but noooo our parents decided to punish us. K’s dad was a dentist and glued our glasses back together with huge hunks of pink dental cement. The stuff you make dentures with. It was ugly and we had to wear it to school for months before we could get new frames.

That was almost as bad as the time I complained about having to wear saddle shoes all the time because they had corrective braces and heels so mom got paint and painted the damn things royal blue so they didn’t look bright white and blue.

I do not need to relive the horrors of my childhood, thank you very much. I may outsmart them and go as a Ravenclaw witch which is suitably nerdy but not horrifyingly like my childhood.

Edit: A navy blue sweater vest, Ravenclaw pocket patch to put on it and a navy striped tie have now been ordered from Amazon. dark pants and tennies and one of my besoms and I think I have this nailed. That way I’m a witch and no one who doesn’t already know has to know anything more. Oh and if it isn’t over 90 degrees that day, my reversible cape, blue on one side and black velvet on the other.

 

Dem Swedes in the woodpile

Going through these old photos of my great grandparents makes very conscious of how much loss they went through just to have a family. Their first two sons died 2 days apart, Axel at 3 and two days later George died at age 1, the next child, Ella (Veldma) survived until she was 18. Then came Hattie (Hatta or Harriet), Della (Lilly), my grandfather Carl, William Blaine who died at less than a year, Elsie (Alla), Robert was the last one. So three sons and one daughter died as children and three girls and two sons lived. The ones who survived Hattie made it to 73 and the others were all over 80. Great Grandma died when I was 5 at 95 in 1959.

I’m thinking my mom advocated for us all having Scottish names after growing up with the Swedish ones. All the girl’s names were suspiciously like the names of the Borden cows in the commercials when I was little. The names in parentheses are the first names they were born with and the other name is the American name they went by after they moved to LA. They started out in Minnesota when it was a territory and then Hilda (Halda) moved them all to LA around 1900 because she swore she was not going to live someplace colder than Sweden. I found the citizenship docs for the kids but Minnesota became a state in 1858 so I have no idea why they needed them if they were born here even if Isaac and Hilda weren’t citizens.

It must have hurt to lose 4 children. I can’t find any death certificates that say what they died of but they were living in Duluth at the time so maybe there was an epidemic of some sort in 1890 when the first two boys died. What killed Ella/ Veldma in 1908 at the age of 18?

Hilda is listed as a Smeddotter on her emigration report in the church records in Sweden. (Why church’s had emigration records I have no clue) Smeddotter means blacksmith’s daughter. So I have smiths on the Swedish and Scottish sides, probably where I got the urge to whack metal with large hammers. Funny, how things you like to do can maybe travel along your genes as well as what you look like. Kind of cool.

I know they all spoke Swedish until Hilda made them join the Presbyterian Church because it was the only church that has services in English and she wanted the kids to learn English because now they were in a America. There was one problem with this. When she got very old when I was little she would slip back into Swedish. I can remember my Uncle Don trying to get her to say “Jam and Jelly” and she’d reply “Pass me the yam and yelly” which used to reduce me to giggles.
Hers was the first funeral I ever attended. For some reason I spent most of it with my grandmother in the car. That was fine with me because Grandma could tie a handkerchief into a rabbit and make it hop up and down her arm and she kept Livesavers Chocomints in the handbag. I wish they still made those.

The biggest change after she died was the unanimous refusal to ever serve lutefisk at a holiday meal every again. Everything else Swedish was fine but no lutefisk, ever!

I got so much from them. My love of photography, grandpa gave me my first Brownie camera so I could be like him with his Leicas. Most of the photos I have of us as kids are from him. Dad took slides and so far they resist copying because they are too colour saturated for my scanner.

I got my boobage from my Great Aunts. I’m built like them to my mother’s horror. She would look at me and say, I don’t know where you go those but I look just like her aunts so it wasn’t hard to figure out.

I got my love of milk and pastries at breakfast from them. And some of my baking talent comes from them.

And I got my nose and I think my enormous hands from them. I bet I have bigger hands than Donald Trump, I had to wear men’s gloves when I was a bell ringer. Women’s gloves were way too small. My piano teacher in college loved them. I could reach more than an octave. Dad called them farmer hands. My sister has these long graceful thin fingered hands but even when I was skinny my hands were not but it was great for doing gymnastics because I rarely missed if I could get my hands on the bars. And it tickled my ortho that even when I had horrible tendinitis I had a grip strength of 80lbs in my left uninjured hand. Most women have a grip strength of 30 lbs or less. The right was only 70 lbs injured. And more than a few men that tried to give one of those handshakes they think are going to crush a women’s hand to exert dominance regretted it immediately when all I did was grin and bear down back. LOL! So dem Swedes were good for a few things. I think it’s the blacksmith’s fault,