Wednesday, June 22, 2005

I Am From

I am from bicycles
without banana seats or high-rise handle bars,
from unfrosted Poptarts
on Saturday mornings
and rootbeer at the beach.
From "who's jumpin' on who"
(with a 1/2 inch of beer, nursed over 2 hours)
and the Bub Club.

I am from all the military duplexes,
shared with our new best friends,
backyards all strung together without thought of fencing,
dotted with swingsets and sandboxes.
Base-housing suburbia.
From summer street floods,
playing "swing the statue",
and seeking refuge from geese on a picnic table,
my dad bravely holding them at bay.

I am from the circular rose garden
and linear zinnia beds
of one grandmother,
the haphazard, glorious jumble of Japanese lantern plants and bamboo
of my other grandmother,
and the rhododendron and hosta shade oasis
that is my mother's garden.

I am from fresh blueberry pie for dinner,
made from the blueberries you harvested that afternoon,
topped with fresh whipped cream,
a quarter of a pie for each,
meticulously divided.
From "Bring in the second turkey"
and after-dinner bluegrass concerts with Paul, Jim, and Chris,
spare instruments on the ground,
my grandmother not in the kitchen,
but smiling and rocking back and forth in the circle.

I am from frugality
and generosity
and sewing your own doll clothes.
From Christmases
where the pile of presents seemed larger than the tree,
itself seeming to scrape the ceiling.
From hundreds of books,
each read hundreds of times.

From put toilet paper down on that public seat first,
don't wear your shoes in the house
and play nicely.
I am from Christian Science Sunday school,
singing the beautiful hymns
as my sister twirls her twin white-blond pigtails with her fingers,
and the pursuit of medicine as my calling.

I'm from West Coast,
East Coast and
everything in between,
from Japan and Arizona and "Mostly Portland".
From crab at the beach each summer
and oyster stew on Christmas eve.
From canned fruit cocktail with a candle-clad marshmallow
before opening stockings
and jule kaga
before presents proper, Christmas Day.

From the tale of Grandma Cos and The Hat,
the retaliatory open-faced peanut butter sandwich in the face,
and the mistake of using poison oak branches
to roast weenies.
From Ma Jessie and Matt Ole Boy
and the House on Hood street.
From Mount Talbert,
named for my grandmother's grandfather.

I am from slide shows on a special night
(all my early memories a carbon copy of each of those shots),
"Grandma, You Were A Daisy",
and the oral tradition of Great Aunt Doris,
laughing so hard that it was hard to hear the tale at times.
(Thank you, Rozanne. This was lovely.)
(Anyone else?)

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Blogger Rozanne said...

Gorgeous! Wasn't that fun?

What's weird is that it brought back some memories for me (!?) Swing the statue must surely be a game we played that we called Statue-maker. You grabbed a friend by the hand and swung him/her around and then let go. He/She would then land in some sort of pose and we'd all have to guess what he/she was supposed to be. Great fun!

It also made me remember how many slide shows and Super 8 movies (often getting burned up midway through the screening) I sat through. I enjoyed them all!

And I am sooooooo envious that you got to eat a whole quarter of a blueberry pie. Clearly, your family had the right outlook on life!

2:24 PM  
Blogger The Lioness said...

I've seen these memes around, their unfailingly lovely, yes.

Blueberry pie, WANT SOME NOW! And I don't even know what we call blueberries or if we even have them. You Anglos and your berries galore... Lucky sods.

2:38 PM  
Blogger The Lioness said...

I wrote "their". Instead of "they're". Allow me to repeat that, I WROTE "THEIR"!!! ARGHHHH!!!

Shoot me now. Please, please, shoot me now. Is there a deep, secluded hole in your garden available, Diana? I needs one. APERANTELLY.

2:39 PM  
Anonymous Kismet said...

I am going to try it too....later.

Lioness, you are too hard on yourself :)


7:29 PM  
Blogger The Lioness said...

Kismet, story of my life... But it really is one of my pet peeves, along with "The car doesn't start, I don't know what it's problem is." My pride hurts. ;)

8:26 PM  
Blogger The Lioness said...

[Hey, we're holding a party and Diana isn't here, na na na na na!]

8:26 PM  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

Ooh. I can't wait to try this! I used to play statue (we just called it statue) as well! that's such a fun game.

Mmm. Berries. There used to be gooseberry bushes in our neighborhood and I loved them. Also raspberry bushes (I hate raspberries but there were also black raspberries (?) or black berries or whatever the heck the dang things are called and I like those).

If Johnny mentions anything about my needing to go to the doctor, she's exaggerating. I'm fine. Really. I don't need to go to the doctor.

9:00 PM  
Blogger The Lioness said...

Which reminds me... Diana, DM doesn't want to go see a dr. because said dr. will, if you can imagine such daftness, force DM to have a mammogram. And DM simply cannot have a mammogram bcs, well, they hurt. THEY HURT. Isn't that smart of her? Please embarrass her in her comments. I made her promise on JESUS that she'll make an appointment but I need help kicking her unconscionable arse. HURT, she says, they hurt! GAHHH!

9:33 PM  
Blogger The Lioness said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Teri said...

That's beautiful. I may try my own. I've just been to a family reunion, so it seems like an appropriate time to reflect on who/what/where I am from. After I've had more coffee, that is. Or maybe a good night's sleep.

11:57 PM  
Blogger Mojavi said...

very very nice.... Brings many cool visuals of your life and cildhood :)

11:40 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Rozanne- How funny! Must be that common Midwest theme. Your "Statue-maker" is almost the same except we had a "swinger" a "buyer" and everyone else was swung as a "statue". The swinger then took the buyer around to each statue, which then came alive as a lion or a mouse or something. The buyer then bought one, who became the next buyer while the buyer became the swinger. It was most fun to be a statue, of course. The pie was amazing, but sounds odd: About a quart and a half of fresh blueberries folded into a mixture of sweetened condensed milk with some lemon juice. Pile it into a baked pie shell, top with a mountain of freshly whipped cream, cram into mouth. Also works with strawberries but we usually turned them into massive strawberry shortcake, which was sometimes dinner, a 1/4 a shortcake each. (burp) Can you tell we were avid U-pickers?

Johnny- Dad says, "Hi". Gosh, blueberries, I don't know how to describe except, well, blue, round, sweet, the size of your fingertip. I have about a dozen bushes planted, which should be producing in a couple of years, along with strawberries and raspberries and, soon, blackberries. Porties don't have berries??? Huh. The things we take for granted. (Their. They're. Giggle.)

Kismet- I am glad you are going to do one, I bet yours will be lovely.

Dana- I only had gooseberries once, when I was about 9 or so, and they weren't my favorite but I need to try them again. Blackberies are different from black raspberries but both are delish. (I'll take your raspberries if you don't want them.) Are you still dizzy and nauseated? Please call. And mammograms aren't THAT bad, although I'd still rather have a day at the beach than one. Given that, I'd rather have a lumpectomy than a mastectomy, so a mammogram is a little thing.

Teri- Please do one. It was fun to do and lovely and cool and made my mouth smile slightly. As my dad and Cathy came yesterday, the timing was spot on for me, too.

Mojavi- Thanks. I had a lovely childhood and my family is silly-quirky, like everyone's. I liked this because it hit on things I had not thought of and images that I had not considered putting into words, because they are just part of the fabric of my growing up, not special to anyone but me. The poem format somehow makes it worth writing. I don't get it, but there it is.

5:17 PM  
Anonymous stacy moe said...

I like it- I might give it a try. There might be a few stanzas on the free-flowing hostess snack products and the unlimited TV watching...(hee, hee)

2:40 PM  
Blogger The Lioness said...

Hey Dudette, family tales, family tails, whichever you have, go on!

4:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Seeester! What a crazy rush of memories. Remember the balance beam in the living room, marching in the Milwaukie Days and Jr. Rose Festival parades, and the Nordstrom Fall Preview Sale!


8:16 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Stace- Please do! You have so many hilarious childhood stories.

J- Tales and tails. That about sums it up. I just need time and a computer, both free.

Gail- I was hoping you'd read it. Shared heritage, baby. I had forgotten that balance beam that dad so painstakingly made. I never did achieve a cartwheel on the damn thing. Nadia I would never be. Sad, as the thing was only 6" off the ground, so no fear of falling off, just no talent. Oh, those horrible parades! Me in baton and you in tap dancing. Sequins, hair spray. Nothing says "geek" more than glasses and hair pulled in an extreme bun with a small red and blue glittery crown perched on top, like a crest. Sigh. (I miss Nordies.)

10:52 PM  

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