Sweet Gees

Sweet Peas

 

Edith Bunker came home with flowered sheets and Archie bleated out, “If I want to wake up covered in flowers, it’s when I’m dead”, or something similar. My father thought this was very funny, chuckled and gave my mom a glance, ‘wouldn’t know about that, hey Gladys?’ then back to the show. It’s the equivalent for anyone else barking out a laugh and yelling, ‘I feel ya, Brother’.

My mother loved flowers. Loved them. Not only was her garden a proper cornucopia of flowers, all blooming at different times, all varieties of colour but the scents as well.  I loved it out there. It’s a place I often am reminded of, standing in the garden eating peas right off the vine or new carrots out of the ground with just a few swipes across my pant leg to remove the fresh dirt. The smells and sights of the flowers; it was like that little garden patch was its own oasis, where magic happened.

When she was in her last days of life, she was very proactive and went through her things to donate or give to friends. One day I was there helping her and she pulled out a blouse from the closet, looked at it and then hung it back up.

“I just can’t bring myself to part with anything that has flowers on it.”

After she passed, I found flowers everywhere. Sheets, clothes, tee towels, writing paper. Everywhere. All types. I doubt she own many solids at all.

I’ve always been a balcony gardener and now that I’m settling in the new apartment, I decided to get some blooming plants on the go. My friend who was recently here for Christmas brought me cat grass and I actually found soil in one of the grocery stores the other week, so grass planted, I thought about my seeds package.

I have a collection of seeds I’ve gathered over the years, still have a few little bundles with my mother’s handwriting on them, one of them, a bundle of sweet peas. I love them. Love them. She did, too. The delicate heads, the heady aroma, I was thrilled to find them.

I put about eight seeds in water to see if they would sprout and sure enough, I noticed yesterday they all had cracks in them and were likely going to bust a move. I got a pot ready and was very excited about the smell of these sweet peas, the memories they would evoke.

I came out to the balcony this morning to check on them and they were all gone. It’s been ridiculously windy here lately and I guess they all just took off.

It actually pleases me no end, the thought of my mother’s flowers landing in someone else’s yard, or flower pot or just back yard. Maybe one will catch by the side of the road I walk down everyday and I’ll still get to see it.

My mom passed away twenty years ago, but she’s still spreading the love and power of the flower .

 

 

Year New

Well. Here we are, then. Teetering on the brink of the old one, about to dive in to the next. It’s different for all of us, some looking forward to seeing the back of 2016, others may have had a good one and be sad to see it go. It’s been a proper bitch for the celebrity death toll, but it really only affects of superficially, doesn’t it?  We like their movies or music, but  it’s not really OUR loss, is it?

I’m pleased with this past one. Mostly near the end. My old landlord showed his true colours, greedy green, so it seems, but it meant a move to a better neighbourhood and way cheaper rent. When I say better, I mean for me. I lived in the ‘burbs before and hated it. All  my neighbours had maids and no one of those fuckers could be bothered to take out their own garbage. I mean, what?

My new place is very close to a main thoroughfare. It’s loud, busy, noisy with horns, people yelling, car alarms, music blaring, the honking or shouting from the fruit and veg vendors and I LOVE it!  Before my view was a parking lot, now I can see for miles… and miles and miles… (Little Who reference for those in the know) I can walk to the stuff I need, hang my knickers on my balcony to dry (absolute NO-NO at last place) and buy almost anything I need from my door step. There are about five or six colmados close to me and they will deliver anything. Well, they would if I knew how to ask for it.

My newest favorite thing is the public taxis. They travel up and down the same route all day. All the major and even minor streets have them and in any country these cars would not be deemed road worthy. I had taken them when I lived in Sosua to Puerto Plata but my ‘car mate’ (won’t call her friend) and I paid for the whole back seat, so twice as much. But for a long trip, it’s fine. Here, it’s perfect. The first time I took one, I handed the driver 50 pesos and was ridiculously delighted when he handed half of it back.

Here, it’s 25 pesos, which is about 70 cents Canadian, and you can go three blocks or three miles. I would have taken them in my old ‘hood, but they don’t go off the beaten track, just the main street, so it wasn’t really worth it as I still had another ten minute walk to get home. They stuff 2 in the front and 4 or 5 if they are small in the back. These are not big cars.

I love them. The cars are complete pieces of shit and it’s a wonder you make it there. I had my Brad friend here for a week and we took them several times. He loved them, too. These cars are everywhere, stop for you and drop you off absolutely anywhere. I find it so civilized. It’s the best way to travel here. We had a joke that the ride itself was 10 pesos and the rest was a gamble whether you would make it or not. There is often no inside of the doors, just the metal and a bit of coat hanger to keep the thing closed.

One day, we walked to the grocery store, had a wander through a department store, had a pizza, then bought pineapple off the truck. We hopped in a car, Brad got in front and when I jumped in the back, I was only slightly surprised to find no floor. I sat speed eagle with all our groceries on my lap while the woman and her daughter stared at us.

It’s great. My move has been great. Mostly, I feel like I finally live here. I had to buy a fridge and stove for this place, both of my other places were ‘furnished’. So, it’s all mine now. There is nothing fancy about the neighbourhood, except that it’s fabulous! There is a great flea market that sets up on Sundays but I walked past today, being two days before new year’s day and it was rocking. it’s like Goodwill is having a yard sale. Plus, I have the Caribbean ocean out my back door, a new language I’m still trying to learn and new people to meet.

The bonus, as well, in a way, is that I’m almost out of money. I can’t afford to leave even if I wanted to, I don’t, but now I have to survive, which is great and scary and exciting and what life should be. So, this year, my friends, ignore what your mother told you about getting in to stranger’s cars. Take a chance. Pay the 25 pesos, get in the car. You never know what you’ll find. Perhaps yourself.

 

ocean

My Mother

Twenty years ago today, my Mother died. Tomorrow is my birthday. I don’t mind sharing the day with her.

It’s not really a ‘full-circle’ kind of situation.  I was adopted at birth.

She was a good women, kind, caring, honest, great sense of humour. I was very young when I realised I could make my Mother laugh. Hard. That, my friends, was a chestnut well polished.

Sometime around Christmas she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. I was living in Vancouver at the time  and after a decent period of denile, I sublet my apartment to go be with her in Alberta.

It is the hardest and equally the greatest experience for me. She was frail and had lost a considerable amount of weight. She was using a walker and my Father had attached a small loaf pan to the front of it like a basket on a bike for her to be able to carry things and not let go of the handles. I thought it was adorable.

People die the way they lived. So, after a short period of ‘why me’, she set about getting her affairs in order. She began by teaching my Father a thing or two. How to cook, do laundry, run a vacuum. While sitting at the kitchen table playing Scrabble, my Dad was doing laundry. He was going down the basement stairs and grumbled something like, “Oh, for fuck’s sake”. My Mother replied, “Hey! Watch the language, you know I don’t go for that kind of shit”. She then looked at me with mischief in her eyes and had a hearty laugh at her joke. I remember her shoulders shaking. My Father mumbled, ‘I know,’ and continued on.

The day after she died, my birthday, my Dad came from the basement with my Mother’s old red and white cake tin. As soon as I saw it, I  started to cry. He put it on the counter and said, ‘She insisted’.  When I lifted the lid, there was a gorgeous Angel’s Food cake. Half of it was iced, the other half plain for my Dad, who was diabetic. Mom

Later, when I was looking in the freezer downstairs, there were all kinds of frozen packages. Meatloaf, casseroles, lasagna, labels written on masking tape on them with my Mother’s handwriting.  ‘Turkey Stew’. ‘Veggie lasagna for Jo-Jo’.

Even in her last days she was thinking of others.