Where I Am From --- a writing exercise

I came across this writing exercise template, and just for fun, I thought I'd give it a try. I did take some creative license with a few of the prompts. :D

I am from sweet wine, from a white Kitchenaid mixer and salty tortilla chips. I am from a qwerty keyboard and a lifelong love affair with language.

I am from a small house, with a big yard and warm yellow light streaming in my windows at day's end. I am from pots of glossy, sweet basil, mint, lavender and lemon thyme on my back porch.

I am from tall pines, blue granite boulders and dancing aspen trees.

I am from Delft Blue, klompje, shotguns and stubborn, opinionated determination. From Grietje, and Franciscus Jacobus and an Alice who lived in her own wonderland.

I am from even-tempered, curious, anxiety-filled and deeply loyal. From Brer Rabbit, the lives of the saints and the names of the constellations.

I am from the Latin Mass, from incense and holy water, old stone chapels, stained glass and hymns. I am from those who clung to the old ways and refused to change. I am from dissidents. I am from lead-crystal rosary beads on a silver chain.

I'm from the warm sands and crashing surf of the Atlantic, from enormous mosquitoes, miserable humidity and tan lines (I'm a summer baby); I am from an old farm with rats in the barn, and the brick-paved streets of a busy sea port. I am from cool streams, glassy lakes and green meadows dotted with brown-eyed susans. I am from pasque flowers pushing their purple crowns up through the snow.

I am from the remote mountains of the Rockies and the polluted waters of the Passaic River. I am from aged Gouda and fresh fish. I am from green chilis roasting on the grill, tomatoes warm from the sun and creamy Chicken Tetrazzini with a cheesy crumb topping. I am from venison, and quail and blue crabs caught fresh from the sea.

I am from a diminutive, light-hearted baker who helped his Jewish neighbors escape the Nazis, where bombs turned brick houses into dust that stained the snow red. I am from the hard-working, profane, immigrant boilermaker and the dark-eyed beauty with the dreamy expression on her face. 

I am from a treasure trove of history: of sepia portraits of serious-faced people, passenger lists, census records, draft cards, marriage certificates and death certificates. I am from passage on an ocean steamer, fishing the backwater for eels, Ellis Island and starting over in a new world.

I am from flickering reels of old movies, tea-length gowns, delicate lace caps and chambray dresses. I am from olive drab uniforms, waltzing in the living room, a stained jeweler's apron, sweeping crinoline petticoats...and bare feet on the kitchen floor.



I don't know how to tell you this story without revealing to you that I haven't been very good about the housework lately. Judge me if you feel you must. :D

In early July, I bought a loaf of "soft wheat" bread.

You see, we can't agree on bread in my house. I like rye and pumpernickel and 12-grain and all that jazz. Sweet Hubs likes white bread. Soft, fluffy, tasteless, gut-wadding white bread. Not that I'm judging, either. Very much. Out loud.

I bought a loaf of soft wheat. Several days passed and I hadn't opened it, so I put it in the fridge. It's hot in Arizona, after all. Then life got away from me. We went on vacation. We put in a lot of hours at work. And nobody cleaned out the fridge.

So, here we are in September and I was going to throw together BLTs for dinner at the end of a very long and trying day. I looked at that loaf of bread and the expiration date said July 8. Best if used by. JULY 8!

That bread expired two months ago. And there isn't one speck of mold on it.

I realize, of course, that refrigerating it is going to slow the mold. But two months? Really? My homemade bread is fuzzy before the week is out if we don't eat it all.

What could possibly be in that bread that even mold can't live on it? It's scary to think about!

I think I'm starting to remember why I make homemade bread.



Sweet Hubs and I were at a fundraiser some years ago. It was very crowded, people milling about everywhere. Later on, we were chatting about the evening and realized that, even in that crowd, we had both noticed the same woman.

She was beautiful.

She was probably just over sixty years old. Very short gun-metal gray hair. She was fairly petite, with smooth skin, a bit of a tan, makeup done to perfection. GORGEOUS smile, she was dressed like a woman with confidence and class.

She was so put together, she made the rest of us look like old house fraus.

And yet, there wasn't any one thing that made this lovely woman such a stunner, except maybe her smile. She had an overall air about her that made you notice her....and like her immediately. She looked like a woman who was witty and fun and kind and intelligent and spunky and wise and all-around amazing. She carried herself like a woman completely in charge of her life.

Did you hear me? She was somewhere around sixty. She may have been the most beautiful human being I have ever seen (after my own darling men, of course). She just exuded a sense of amazingness that drew your eyes to her again and again. With all that awesome wow going on, she still behaved as if she was unaware of how damn lovely she was. She was just walked around, supremely comfortable being her.

That right there might be why she was so breathtaking.


My Prayers

I remember asking my Dad how he could say that God always answers our prayers, when I knew for sure that I had prayed for things that I did not get. Dad said, "God always answers our prayers. But sometimes, the answer is 'No'." A-ha.

My prayer today is for guidance. You know my heart's desire. You know what is best for us. Is that a sign You sent to us? Is that Your message to me to take a step forward? Are You telling me that I'm stuck in a holding pattern, afraid of that future unknown? Could I have just a little more of a hint from You?

You know, Father, that I cherish my marriage and my children above all things. Keep them safe for me. Help my oldest son in his current quandary and protect his heart. Help my youngest son achieve his potential. Whatever that is.

Help me reach my potential, too!



My Oldest

Oh, my oldest boy. He was an angel baby. Sweet. Smiling. As cool as the center seed in a cucumber. He woke up smiling, he fell asleep smiling. He loved his Daddy and his Grandpa and he liked everybody. He talked early and was completing sentences well before he was two. He was the sweetest little guy.

If all babies were like him, we'd all have dozens. He was that sweet. He seldom cried, and when he did he had good reason. He made me feel like the most amazing Mom.

Then he started to grow up. At twelve, he became the grumpiest person on the planet. ("That's just silly. Have you met everyone on the planet?" Name that movie.) He was seriously The Grouch. Oh. My. Goodness. I wanted to pinch his head off about half the time from his age 12 through 18.

He came home from 5 years in the army recently. And guess who is back? He smiles. He's sweet. He's relaxed and happy to be wherever he is at the moment. The grump is gone and here again is a charming person who wins you with his smile and warm heart.

It comes full circle.

And once again. God works in mysterious ways.

My Youngest

When I was carrying him, I knew he had a temper. If I was lying in some position that was uncomfortable, he didn't just flutter about in there and let me know. He did a Bruce Lee kick to my innards and by-golly I moved! He got the hiccups all the time when I was carrying him. As in ALL. THE. TIME.

He was so beautiful as a baby. Tow-headed, with big, round gray eyes. And then. Then.

He had colic. The only way we could get his screaming down an octave into the nearly-bearable range? We put Eddy Arnold on the stereo (loud), and rocked him like we were trying to power the city. His colicky screeching started at about 3 weeks old and continued, every night around 5:30 - 8:00  until he was 4 months old. By then, my rocking muscles were in tip-top shape. And he still hiccuped. He hiccuped when he cried. He hiccuped when he ate. He hiccuped when he laughed and he hiccuped when he burped. He hiccuped.

He was a clinger. He could handle being at home, or with Mommy. Daddy was marginal, at best. I kid you not here, we did not hire babysitters. We were convinced that we'd find him in the trash can when we came home, and the sitter intoxicated and wondering how she could get on with her life after the experience of sitting our child. Gawdamighty he was a challenge. Grandma wouldn't watch him.

He could go from smiling to purple-pissed-off in the blink of an eye. He had a vein in his forehead that bulged and pulsed when he cried, giving strangers the urge to call paramedics.

Somehow, that screaming, hot-tempered, demon-spawn baby turned into a handsome, calm, funny, even-tempered, witty and cheerful man. Who still gets the hiccups all the time.

I can't begin to guess how it is possible. But it's true. If he'd have been our first baby, there probably wouldn't have been a second, he was a baby that terrible. And now? He's a joy and a ray of sunshine every day.

God works in mysterious ways. :-D


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What I See--Alita

Oh, Alita! What can I say? We've known eachother for so many years! Alita and I became acquainted first because our husbands worked to...