Archive for the personal history Category

Whisky sachet

Posted in family, personal history, writing practice with tags , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2008 by bosquechica

I’m going to take you out behind the woodpile and whup your sorry ass.

 

That’s a likely quote from an old grand-dad. Or maybe it was from an episode of Hee-Haw or The Beverly Hillbillies.

My grand-dad on my mother’s side died before I ever remembered him. Other than his soft belly and his light white summer shirt. I can see his cotton undershirt underneath. Wife beater, that’s what those are called. I don’t know any other name for them. My mother calls him “my daddy,” even now, when she is almost 80. She had the perfect childhood, she says. Her mama and daddy divorced when she was in high school. That was in Fort Worth, Texas. She filed for divorce based on repeated infidelity.

My grandmother’s second husband, Howard, was a broad-faced Cherokee railroad man who looked like a bulldog. He drank whisky, smoked cigars, and carried a wad of money in a silver money belt. He hid whisky bottles everywhere he went. He took us out and spent crazy wild money on all of us. He drove us down long Texas highways going on big adventures, weaving all over hell and gone. He bought us roast beef sandwiches that we were too queasy to eat. He scared the bejesus out of us. He told dirty stories to us. He showed us his WWII playing cards with the pictures of naked ladies on them. He sang songs and smiled all across his face, from ear to ear. He scrambled eggs with chorizo for us, whenever he was able to get out of bed in the morning. Truthfully, I never could see my grandmom with Howard there entertaining us, weaving and falling around like a drunk in a Disney ride.

I’m eleven and Howard and Mary are visiting. They are sleeping in my room. Where am I sleeping? I don’t know, I don’t remember. I just remember road trips and whisky bottles, and whisky bottles under my bed and in my closet after they left, and whisky bottles and weaving on the Pacific Coast Highway, and spare ribs and macaroni, and whisky bottles under the front seat, and snoring. Big, loud snoring, and my room with its dusty rose Victorian wallpaper and old oak bedroom set, and the smell of whisky lingering for weeks afterward. A drunken sachet.

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Marshmallow Creme Sandwich on Wonder Bread

Posted in home, how to, life, personal history, recipe, this-n-that with tags , , , , , , , on July 10, 2008 by bosquechica

  

When I was a kid, I had a friend named Kitty. She was Dutch, and had a glass eye. This worked in favor of our friendship, since I was slightly funny looking too, but mostly okay in the ways that count when you are a kid. I think her mom must have worked outside the home, because when I went to her house after school a few times, it was always just the two of us. This was Kitty’s favorite after-school snack:

  • 2 slices Wonder Bread
  • Marshmallow Creme
  • Miracle Whip
  • Sprinkles

How to prepare: Take one slice of bread, spread first with Miracle Whip, then with Marshmallow Creme. Cover with sprinkles. Put second slice on top. Squish flat. Wash down with chocolate milk.

I wonder if this was a mom-sanctioned snack. I can’t imagine that it was. I can say for sure that it was a memorable recipe, if nothing else.

Doppel

Posted in body, family, life, nice things, personal history, random, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on April 7, 2008 by bosquechica

On Friday, I was shopping at Smith’s on my way home from work. I bought tortillas, sour cream, guacamole, wine and ice. Company expected. On my way out, I paused at the freezer to pick up my 10 lbs. There, I was stopped by a tiny old man with a snowy white beard. He was riding a red electric scooter chair, and his eyes were a sparkling, electric blue (not unlike my husky’s eyes). Morgan

“Whoa,” he said. “I gotta follow you for a little while.” I looked at him and smiled absent-mindedly, thinking more about my house and how to get ready for guests with less than an hour to spare. I crossed the parking lot, stopped at my car and opened the trunk. Then I realized that the little man really had followed me. I looked at him again and he looked back with those sparkling eyes, big smile.

“Excuse me, but I just had to tell you that there is a golden glow shining all round you, and following you, too. You are beautiful!”

“Thank you,” I said. “You know, you remind me of my friend Eunice F.”

“Why?” he asked. “What’s wrong with that person?”

“Not a thing,” I said back. He did a nice little preen, put his hand up against the back of his head as if puffing up his hair, and said “Well, thank you kindly” and looked delighted.

“You have a nice weekend, now,” I said. He scooted on to his own car, right next to mine, and put his things in the back seat. His license plate had DAV plates (disabled veteran) and a bumper sticker that said “Honor the dead, heal the wounded, end the war”.

I went home feeling decidedly perked up by this exchange, and thought about his strange similarity to my good friend Eunice F. Eunice F. is the seventh Eunice in a long line of Eunices. She is 63 years old, with electric blue eyes. She attracts lightning, and has been struck several times. She is an apple-faced hippie lady who lives in a stone cabin in the mountains east of Albuquerque. She is a doll-maker and an artist. She has a beard (not snowy white) that she does not remove, and she is a calm and moving storyteller. She is very poor, hauls water and raises chickens. At 63, she is suffering from the effects of a life of hard labor, and she has a lot of physical pain. She made me a doll with wings who flies around the house and appears here and there on window sills and mantlepieces, apparently at will. storyteller doll

I went home and told Mrs. Bosquechica about my strange meeting and she was amazed on many different levels. First of all, who gets stopped by total strangers with that kind of comment? Second of all, another Eunice F.? Astonishing! Funny thing is, though, that like Eunice F. and her repeated encounters with lightning, I have been stopped periodically with the “you are glowing/beautiful/ or something equally surprising” by total strangers, both men and women, since I was very young. Not, you know, weekly or anything, but about every two or three years someone does this. It’s been awhile, though, longer than usual, and I started thinking about that and about Eunice and the little man and his bumper stickers, and healing the wounded and electric scooters and lightning.  It occurred to me that, like the storyteller doll that Eunice made for me, maybe I have started flying again, maybe there has been time for healing and resuming whatever that glowing thing is that attracts lightning to some and odd compliments to others.

And here is the amazing Eunice F., for those of you who have made it this far.

Eunice F.

 

 

Five Years Ago, I . . .

Posted in personal history, travel, writing, writing practice with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2008 by bosquechica

(To keep things moving, I’m tossing this out there without the pictures from Africa and without the links that my good intentions wanted me to provide.) 

 

Lost my grand-dad. Bye old guy! Picture (c) visitusa.com

Scattered his ashes in the mountains outside of Las Cruces.

Finalized buying the old adobe house from my wife’s parents.

Worked mostly in Spanish that year.

Had tea in bed every morning, with the globe and an africaatlas propped up between us, learning the names of all the African nations and their capitals.

Grew tomatoes, grapes, pears, plums, onions, garlic, basil and apples. Daffodils, tulips, irises.

Wrote one piece of short fiction almost every week.

Went to Uganda for the international dance festival at the Ndere Centre in Entebbe, where I discovered exactly how white I am. I was one of six light-skinned people in a festival attended by over 6,000 Africans from various nations (three of them were Austrian). The festival took place about six weeks before we started bombing Iraq; I was angry, outraged, and pretty-well petrified to be travelling at that particular moment, with our government hijacked by criminals and my fellow-citizens apparently having lost their collective minds.

On the opening day, I sat roughly 10 feet away from Ugandan President Musevene while he made a very angry speech about the interference of American and European white people in African business, cultural and political affairs. My two friends and I had been seated more-or-less next to him, but were separated by a ring of armed guards. The festival was incredible, high stomping, enormous drums, colorful, with movement that blended some of the conventions of missionary teaching with older dance traditions that expressed sexuality, war, hunting, with the relatively recent influences of modern dance, mixed media performance and pop culture trends from African, European and American sources. For the traditional African dancers, it was the first time most of them had performed together on a single stage.

Attended the going away party of a retiring Anglican priest who was moving to Scotland after 45 years of teaching dance and self-sufficiency to young women in Kampala. Kampala is a hot crowded city, smoke rising in trash can fires all over the city, maribou storks hovering like crows in the mango trees. My friends were tense and angry and closeted and sarcastic. I smoked American cigarettes on the balcony and choked on the urban air. The storks were enormous, prehistoric, almost hip height to me.

After the festival, I flew alone (at last!) from Uganda to Naorobi to Amsterdam. I wandered the streets of Amsterdam late at night until I came to the Café Kale, where I ordered beer, soup and kale pesto with crusty bread.

Back at home, we were maced at a peace rally by mounted Albuquerque police. Hid in a sandwich shop with two dudes who kept saying “Whoa man, we should really shut down.”

Acquired two new cats, the blue-eyed husky and a pair of lovebirds.

Took sides when my friends in Uganda split up. I’m a big fool sometimes.

Saw the little nieces and nephews frequently. Their favorite games at the time were role playing, yoga, fencing and playing dragon in the yard, storytelling and making scrambled eggs.

Had a major flood (in an act of rural vandalism) that almost collapsed the house (it is made of mud). Moved from room to room for almost three months as we rebuilt, keeping the fridge in the front yard the entire time. Good look, that.

Learned to make pie crust.  

Next: Five years from now, I . . .

Gah I can’t think

Posted in family, life, life-n-death, marriage, personal history, rant, writing practice with tags , , , , , , on January 29, 2008 by bosquechica

Well I have been slam-banging along for the past couple of weeks, running into walls, wrestling (I have an urge to say “rasslin'” here, like I’m doing things with alligators) with nursing homes and assisted living facilities and anxiety-ridden relatives and ridiculous therapy contracts and elder lawyers and may I just say that even without being there in the same city or state as my old mama (who is getting really cranky about being in a nursing home, even if it is temporary, and the jury is still out on that) it’s really time consuming to the point of disrupting the time-space continuum (whatever I mean by that) and gah I can’t think. My life is interrupting my blogging and it really chaps my hide.

And this week I’ve got company Wednesday through Saturday, a bunch of yodeling folk singers descending on Casa de Bosquechica on Friday, a trip to Santa Fe on Sunday for a hideaway-retreat with the missus and a visit to the state legislature on Monday to advocate for our right to have the partner benefits that other married people can just take for granted, thank you very much. And I can’t find my damn photo album from Africa, which I’ve been trying to find to post in this piece I was working on last week, because ever since the mom-stroke thing, it’s been hard to focus forward; my brain keeps doing “my life in review”, which is just a wretchedly self-absorbed response to her pending mortality (pending?).

The persistence of the “life in review” thinking made me decide to do a two-piece writing practice: “5 years ago, I . . . . ” followed by “In 5 years, I . . . ” to help me shift back into where I’m going instead of where I’ve been. What will I be doing in 5 years? Well, if this past couple of weeks is any indication, I’ll still be working on this freakin’ “freewrite” about what I did five years ago…….and geez, that’s just wrong.

Year so far plus trashy anecdote

Posted in family, personal history, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 7, 2008 by bosquechica

So far this year – that’s 6 days right? — I’ve been crazy overbooked, had a couple of nice hikes with the dogs, hosted a party for political bloggers and another for folk singers, stopped sleeping altogether, gone to urgent care with wheezing and bronchitis, alienated the staff at the rehab center where my mom is trying to recover from her stroke by asking stressy half-baked questions, looked at rentals for my brother to move here when my mom does and posted I don’t know three-four things on blogs 1 and 2.

Blogging personal history reminds me of this diary I kept when I was 12, where I made up things like “I want to be a skydiver” so that my creepy mom and brothers could find it, expose themselves as icky and intrusive, and I would feel justified in being mad and nasty to them.

It was a white leatherette diary, embossed with the words “My Diary” in gold print, with a little gold key that I hid in a small red silk chinese box in my closet. I got it the same year my g-mom gave me her favorite book of etiquette for young heathens — “White Gloves and Party Manners” — in a pointed commentary on my unladylike tendencies. She also sent me to dance classes and took me to museums in an effort to build my poise and public confidence.

Our neighbors gave us a flock of chickens that summer. We kept them hidden in the workshop behind the garage, where my dad (not a chicken fan) was unlikely to look. The workshop filled up with chicken shit and feathers. Behind the workshop was a little private office where my brother hung out, smoking joints with his buddies and making out with his girlfriend. Somehow, I got a chicken leg with a tendon dangling loose at the knee ( I suppose), and chased the other girls on my block with it, yanking the exposed tendon, making it contract into a little chicken-claw fist. Clutch and release. Eventually my dad noticed the smoke and the cackling out back, and then we were all in big trouble.

All of which is to say that the book was probably well intentioned and desperately needed. And no, I never wrote a thank you note for it.

Incredible-Hulking-Wonder-Spider-Woman

Posted in body, cancer, family, personal history, Uncategorized on January 5, 2008 by bosquechica

 

In 1959, I had cancer. I was three years old at the time. It came on suddenly and without warning. My dad, the engineer, designed a treatment delivery system that focused the radiation specifically in the hard palate of my mouth, where the cancer was located. First, they fried it, then they cut it. No chemotherapy – it wasn’t yet available. That was 49 years ago (my math – it is superb!).

In direct contradiction to predictions made by teams of medical experts, I did not die, the cancer did not recur, I’m not a deformed monster, and I did not spend my life with a brain cooked by radiation like a vegetable tempura. Far from it.

But here is the family myth I want to share: According to this myth, I am an amazing princess goddess of steel, given superpowers by the radiation itself. Like Spiderman, Bionic Woman, Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk. This was the story I was told, over and over again. The script: “You had cancer, such a tragedy. However, you were treated with Radiation (capital R), which means you have special and advanced protection against virtually all other diseases, and it also means you will never get Cancer (capital C) Again!”

This message was a logical extension of the power of positive thinking business that so pervaded my grandparents’ generation. My parents, themselves, were more fixated on how this illness would limit my choices as a damaged female. Their script was something more like: “Thank God you’re smart, cause you’ll never get married with a face like that!” (For the record, I’m actually kind of cute.)

I undoubtedly absorbed both messages, both of them flawed but incorporated into my sense of self. My funny-looking, super-charged special-yet-doomed self. In my adolescence, I suddenly realized that both myths were a lot of hooey, and damn that made me mad. I started wearing black and thinking about mortality a lot. Early goth really suited me.

It’s interesting to me that in our culture, intellect and appearance are set against one another. In the schema that informed my growing up me, female and imperfect, it was always smart vs. pretty, pretty vs. strong. Contradictory. Challenging.

How do we raise our girl children and our boy children to accept the blend of characteristics and circumstances that inform our sense of self? How do we learn to acknowledge, honor and even love the imperfections of self and other?

It is no surprise that in my middle years, I have chosen to work with people with disabilities, where my once “tragic” differences have transmogrified recognizably into the strengths of compassion and empathy. What surprises me more is how many years I worked in advertising, where appearance reigns supreme, and how well I proved myself in that setting, against a jury of my cultural peers. That’s me, Wonder-Spider-Hulking-Woman. Look out.