Archive for personal history

My grandparents

Posted in family, history, life, life-n-death, marriage, true story, writing practice with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2009 by bosquechica

My grandfather had a thin mustache, my grandmother good legs. My grandparents spoke Spanish and English and a little Italian but the Italian was not sincere. My grandparents smoked and went to theatre and galleries and lived in Texas and Mexico and Colorado and New Mexico and Canada and California and then back to New Mexico where they lived for most of their elderly years. My grandparents were runaways and liars, and cheated on each other for as long as they were young and could get away with it. My grandparents were married for 70 years, but divorced for 10 of those. My grandparents had smooth beautiful voices and liked books, and vino tinto, and chile, and they used olive oil to keep their feet smooth and soft, and they drove very big cars and voted Republican in the 80s but were socialist in the 30s, and they planted corn in their backyard with the great grand children, and they walked in the Organ Mountains looking for a place to scatter their ashes, and that’s where they are now, in an arroyo in southern New Mexico, on their way down to the gulf of Mexico by way of flash floods and monsoons, however long that might take.

This was a 5-minute writing practice in group this Monday. Got some great photos, but not the ooomph to scan them right this second. I’ll add in a separate post.

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.

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 . . .

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.