Mom: Later in the afternoon my strange friend Carol stopped by with a bouquet of iris for Dad
Mom: he usually doesn’t care too much for Carol and she is odd but he was touched by the beautiful bouquet from her garden and actually gave her a hug
Mom: He usually says she smells
Mom: not in a good way
Shmalison: well that sounds sweet
Mom: Carol sees auras and one afternoon she came by when Dad was sitting on the deck watching me weed the flowerbeds
Mom: later she told me that because he was sitting in front of a white background she was able to see his aura—strong and blue with gold shooting out of his head
Mom: she was surprised to see such a strong aura in such a physically weak person and thinks he has a very strong soul and that he and I have been soul mates for a very long time—like from the beginning of time
Shmalison: do you have the same color aura?
Mom: I have no idea
Mom: Carol has either not seen it or won’t tell me, but she thinks Dad’s soul is helping me grow spiritually
Mom: anyway I basically think she is full of sh—
Mom: and I also suspect that she drinks
I’m warning a group of girls that all look like my seventeen year old cousin, blonde blue-eyed American beauties, to wear their retainers.
I’m standing on the cold linoleum floor of the basement bathroom at my parents’ house. It smells like clean laundry and old earth. My reflection is a summer memory. My mouth opens wide. There, I can see my teeth vibrating, uprooting themselves. I peel a front tooth off in layers, the consistency of a sick toenail. Its neighbor begins to shed and I cry for my mother. She drops her linen basket and brings her red stained hands to my face. She tells me it’s not so bad.
It’s not so bad.
I awake when I hear you slam and lock the front door, the sounds of you racing out into Monday Morning. I call out your name in hope—no, just the kitten’s footsteps. I’ve missed you again.
Pull back the curtains to blinding white light. The snow looks so foreign on you, Virginia.
"One of 19 experiments aboard the Skylab space station in 1973 examined spider web formation in zero gravity. Astronauts monitored the activity of the spiders released into a box. At first their webs were sloppy, but they soon became more regular as the spiders adapted to weightlessness."
Metro Space Station
Speeding over snow covered roads. Home.
"It was cold. Everywhere. In the winter, it was cold. The large coal furnace was there, solidly settled in the center of the cellar, but there was no coal and no money to buy any. With credit stretched beyond the patience of the apologetic dealer, there was little chance of a delivery without cash. There was no cash. Anywhere. At least not in our sphere. The little man who had saved nickels and dimes for his social security-less aged years went to the bank only to be told that there was no money.
I remember, the women did a lot of crying and praying. yes, if asked what carried us through, I’d have to say-tears and prayers. The other ingredient was pride.
I remember, quiet and gloom. Electricity was only a recent commodity and in most cases, a luxury, and was at best used sparingly. The telephone was not for the ordinary household, so, in the interest of thrift, the telephone was the first to go; the unessential. The lights were turned low and our golden spot was the radio.
A learning experience? I learned economy. You made one penny do the work of two by quietly examining the penny candy counter and mentally computing whether one six inch licorice stick gave as much value as four caramels, their time spent mostly stuck to your teeth, but flavor-lasting to the after taste. When you had a penny. Clothes were to be worn, mended, worn, outgrown, false-hemmed, let out, recycled, handed-down-no end to the uses of a piece of cloth. Sugar and flour bags became pillow-slips, dish towels. aprons, even diapers. I can hardly remember a pair of socks without holes in the heels or toes, and shoes unless they were outgrown, and even then, usually had worn soles or heels or resoled and reheeled often more than once…..
One little piece of financial wizardry I learned was a desperate measure called CREDIT. I would go to the local grocery store with a nickel -5 cents. This would buy either a pound of sugar, or a pound of rice, both of which we needed, but only one nickel with which to buy. This required a bit of acting, some nerve and the beguiling, deceptive innocence of a seven year old. Now you think Tatum O’Neil was smart in “Paper Moon”, -well, I didn’t do too badly on a smaller scale. After moments of indecision on my part as to my purchase, the grocer would sell me the rice, charge the sugar, and give me a bone - FREE- to make soup to go with the rice. Hooray and we ate for another day.
None of this was easy for me, it was downright painful. I was a very shy child, but the deep understanding I must have had for my struggling family, and the overwhelming need to survive, not to mention actual hunger, must have surpassed all. I honestly don’t know how or why, but I remember.”
-From my grandmother’s journal, reflecting on how the Great Depression shaped her into becoming the charitable, strong, and beautiful person that she was.