Friday, February 17, 2012

Strathmore

I remember.

A gnarly fig tree.

A lemon tree with thorns.

Three giant elm trees. (and the mess they made)

A giant attic full of secret doors and hideaways.

A giant, claw-footed bathtub.

A beautiful upright, grand piano.

A library shelf full of books and crayons and coloring books.

A Singer sewing machine.

A built in hutch full of beautiful china and crystal.

A musty smell.

Fresh apple dumplings with cinnamon milk.

Coffee soup.

A trash "incinerator". (a big oil barrel in the alley)

McComber's Market.

Nana's orange grove

The magnolia tree

A swamp cooler.

A screened in front porch.

A hidden sink.

Nana's closet.

A hide-a-bed in the living room.

All of this was at Nana'a house. In Strathmore, California

The house is gone. It burned to the ground one night long after Nana had passed. But I use to drive by it often and remember all these things.

Until I was in high school, Nana made ALL of my clothes. She was an incredible seamstress. And even in high school she would make my costumes for the plays that I was in.

She was no master cook but her apple dumplings were to DIE for. We have searched everywhere for the recipe but to no avail. They were steamed into white fluffy clouds of dough. There was a whole apple inside seasoned with cinnamon and sugar. And the sauce of sugared milk with cinnamon was the key to the whole thing.

A night at Nana's meant apple dumplings!

Going to church with her meant listening to her sing.  At one time she had a beautiful voice but as she aged and her hearing went so did her ability to stay on key. I loved it. She sang "lustfully" because she loved it.

She also played the piano. She was Julliard trained but never graduated because her father was diagnosed with tuberculosis and, in those days, that meant the whole family had the disease. So she wasn't allowed to stay.

But she would play for me and my brothers.

Memories.

So strong that I don't even have to close my eyes to be in the room with her. Or to be in the attic. Or to be picking lemons.

Memories.

Of what made me me.

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