Showing posts with label childhood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label childhood. Show all posts

Monday, March 19, 2018

El Camino Paraiso

In Fall 1962, the family moved into a brand new house on a brand new street a couple miles east of town. Lucky 711 was the street number; El Camino Paraiso, the street name. Translation: Paradise Road. Myself, I prefer "The Road to Heaven" because the cemetery, run by the Catholic Church, sat next door.

I thought a ghost lived in my bedroom closet. Every now and then, until I left for college, just as I was falling asleep, I experienced old hag syndrome, a kind of sleep paralysis. The only way I felt safe was to sleep in a fetal position on my left side, facing away from the closet.

Cute yellow house, don't you think? It had a huge back yard, enough space for the Daddy to grow a good-size vegetable garden, as well as plant fruit trees and raise chickens, pigeons, goats, and pigs. Fortunately for us we lived in the county. With all that, the Parents still were able to put in a patio, some lawn, and a flower garden. 

The Mama sold the yellow house in 1987, a year after her retirement and several years after the Daddy died. I wonder if ghosts still live in that closet.

The Mama in 1970.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Tuna Fish Surprise

The last time I made Tuna Fish Surprise was in home economics class in seventh grade, which was...hmmmm....over 50 years ago. That was the first time I ever made the dish—a can of tuna fish, a can of cream of mushroom soup, crumbled potato chips, and, I don't know what else. I have a vague feeling we baked the tuna fish on sliced bread. It was after all public school, the 1960s, and the objective to teach us, girls, how to prepare delicious fare cheaply and quickly within 30 minutes or less.

The home ec teacher let us give our dish away to other teachers, which meant being able to roam the hallways during class hours. So, yeah, you bet I went that way. I chose Mr. Anthony, the gruff old science teacher. Why should all the favorite teachers get all the good stuff?

Yesterday was the second time I made a version of the dish. After consulting the cookbooks and the Internet, I figured anything could be put together for this dish. Thus, it's name. Uh-huh. Got it.

To two cans of sustainable tuna fish, I added leftover brown rice, leftover homemade mushroom soup, one rye crisp, a cup of frozen green peas, two stalks of green garlic, and about a cup or so of crumbled potato chips. I also mixed in creamed horseradish and juice from one lemon. The mixture was dumped into a buttered casserole dish, then topped with a thin layer of shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

Result: The Husband thought it was tasty. Me, okay. Molly the Cat sniffed it and turned away.

Saturday, February 24, 2018


The Mexican lavender has popped back in the front yard. Hurrah!

When the Daddy and the Mama bought their house a long time ago, it wasn't completely finished so the builders let us choose the colors for the rooms. I chose purple for my bedroom, my own four walls with a door. No more more sharing with the Only and Older Brother. That was a pretty good luxury for an almost 10-year-old and for the parents, too. So I think.

In the end, the painters mixed up the Parents' and my choices. They got a muted purple bedroom, while I got a bright yellow one.  Both the Mama and I were bummed, but we sucked it up. C'est la vie.

It was just as well that I didn't get my choice. The color yellow, color experts say, is great for nurturing joyfulness and stimulating intelligence and mental somersaults (perfect for growing minds), while the color purple is good for promoting deep thoughts and spirituality. Once I moved into puberty, I became a rather surly, mopey girl too serious for her own good. Thank goodness for yellow walls (and books).

When I turned 17, I painted the walls white. Boring! I was in a poetry stage, so I illustrated one of my angsty teenage poems on the south wall. Something to do about a gnu who is invited to a party but his cousins, the wildebeests, ignore him because he acts and thinks differently from them. Yeah, it was a good thing I didn't have purple walls when I was a kid.

Monday, October 30, 2017

My First Playgrounds

Swings and jungle gyms. Slides and teeter-totters. I came across a playground for the first time when I was five years old on my first day of first grade. I really took to the slides, especially the corkscrew one. When I got home that day, I looked forward to the next day of the slides just as much as the books and the pencils, and the desks and the blackboards. That experience lasted all of two-and-a-half days. I had to wait a full year to hang out in a playground again because the teacher said I was "too young" for school.

It was okay. I went back to my old playground of open fields.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Always, the Daddy

I imagine it going this way:

"Susie. Susie, hold still."

"You can go play in the water after I take the picture."

"Susie! Stop moving."

The photographer, who was probably the Mama, sighed. She most likely turned to the Daddy who knew what to do.

He crouched behind me, holding me in place.

"Susie smile at the camera."


No doubt the Mama sighed when she saw the photo. Oh, well.

Throughout my life, the Daddy always had my back.

Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there!

I'm hooking up with Seasons, a meme hosted by Jesh at Artworks from JeshStG. Click here to check out other participants. Toodle-ooo.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Jumping the Ditch

It's the letter D at ABC Wednesday. My share is a post that I originally published on April 11, 2014. To check out ABCW posts from bloggers around the world, please click here. Thanks ABCW Team!

Because I was born 10 days after the cut-off date for first graders, I was sent home on the third day of school. Fine. The Mama had her hands full caring for Baby Sister and figuring out the new house that we had moved into about a week before school started. That meant I got to go with the Daddy for part of the day. Great!

The Daddy irrigated the rows upon rows of crops on the valley floor. During his morning break, the Daddy came home to fetch me. I'd get in the car with my Golden Books, coloring books, and crayons and down the hill we would go. While the Daddy worked, I entertained myself with my books and when that became tiring, I'd wander and explore, but never too far from the car and always where the Daddy could see me. We'd go home for lunch and sometimes I'd get to go back with the Daddy.

A ditch stood between the fields and the car. It also separated me from the Daddy. Without help, I could not get over the ditch, especially when it was filled with water. One day, I decided to get over the ditch. Yup, that day it was full of water.

I jumped.  Wheeee! I landed safely on the other side.

I turned around and jumped back. Then I jumped again. Back and forth I went.

Before I knew what happened, the Daddy pulled me out of the ditch. I was not hurt.

"Your mom is going to be mad," the Daddy said in his quiet voice.

I looked down at myself all wet and muddy. Oh-oh.

From that day on, until we moved again, I stayed home with the Mama and the Baby Sister. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The London Bridge

London Bridge is falling down,
falling down, falling down.
London Bridge is falling down.
My Fair Lady.
In first grade, we sang this Mother Goose rhyme as we marched under an arch formed by the joined hands of two kids. The hands came down on "My Fair Lady" and the two kids would then rock the captured kid between their locked hands, as we sang a verse about taking the key and locking the kid up. When that verse was over, either the captured kid chose a side and stood behind that kid or took that kid's place, after which, we marched and sang the rhyme again.

I don't remember what the point of the game was. For that matter, what the rhyme was all about. After three or four rounds, I would look longingly at the playground, even willing to climb up the jungle gym. And, that I disliked to do.

I didn't become curious about the London Bridge until 1975 when I learned that a rich American had bought the bridge and reconstructed it brick by brick on Lake Havasu in Arizona. A friend and I were driving cross country at the time and hoped to see it, but we ended in the wrong place. Bummer.

In 2007, I finally saw the London Bridge when the Husband and I did a road trip to the southwest. The bridge is gorgeous, no doubt about it. I was thrilled to see the once-upon-time bridge that spanned the Thames River. Seeing this European bridge in a desert setting though was quite surreal.

 In the photo, I was posing so it looked like I was holding up the arch. Alas, I was too short. Giggle.

Click here to see what the L other bloggers are writing about for ABC Wednesday. Thank you, ABCW team!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I Kid You Not. Just

Just kidding around.

Just feeling like a kid again.

Just who do you think you're kidding?

Just a punk kid.

What's just that, kid?

Just a new kid on the block.

Just saying, "Hi, Kid!"

The kid just said, "Bleeeet."

Just handle with kid gloves. Handle just with kid gloves. Handle with just kid gloves. Handle with kid gloves—just.

What are ya? Just some kind of whiz kid?

Just kidding aside.

Yup. I drew a picture of just how I recall my small barefoot kid self.

J is this week's letter for ABC Wednesday. Click here to read other J-themed posts by blogger from around the world.  Thank you, ABCW team!!

P. S. Uhm, I thought this week was the letter K. Like how I just barely put the post back on the right track? 

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Sloth Who Likes to Read

"Stop reading," ordered the Mama. "Go outside."

I'd probably been lying on the bed reading for three or four hours that sunny summer weekend afternoon. I was probably 12 years old.

That's what the Mama got for buying me a bed with a bookcase headboard. It was packed full with paperback books that I purchased from the monthly Scholastic book catalog during the school year. Three or four dollars bought me a lot of books back then. I shall always be grateful the Mama and the Daddy let me buy so many, and for leaving me alone to read the books over and over most of the time.

Reading was my favorite thing to do in summer, followed by riding bicycles, watching movies, and eating. Except for the bicycle riding, I seem to have slipped back into my once-upon-a-time summer routine. I'm not getting much done, I admit. And, yes, my clothes are feeling snug. Again.

I really do need to urge me to step outside and do something. There's still time today to water the flowers in the backyard, or pick up all the apples and lemons that have dropped off the trees, or rake the leaves, or put everything back in the shed, or . . . .

Maybe I'll take my book outside with me as incentive. After each thing I finish, I can read a chapter.

Yeah, right.

I'm a grown-up. First things, first. But, that could be reading.

Silly me, thinking I can bribe or shame myself into doing things.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Crybaby Me.

The Mama used to tell me a story about the time that the Daddy carried me on his back while they picked tomatoes one summer day. I was maybe two years old. "You cried and cried," the Mama said. "You kept saying, 'Go home, Daddy. Go home.'"

The poor Daddy! And, all those other poor workers around us who were forced to listen to a tiny, fat crybaby of a girl piggy-backing on her poor Daddy's back. The poor Daddy!

How did the Parents ever get me to stop crying? Did the Daddy take the Mama and me home and go back to work? Did I eventually calm down, get off the Daddy's back, and find a way to entertain myself so the Parents could work in peace? I don't know. The Mama never told me what happened. She simply laughed after telling me.

Why am I telling you the story? I don't know. I find myself tearful all of a sudden lately.

C is for crybaby me. Not pitiful me though.

C is the letter for this week's ABC Wednesday, a weekly meme that is keeping me centered. I thank the ABCW team, lead by Roger Green, and started by Mrs. Denise Nesbitt, for giving me a place to share my words. To keep me going. Maybe next week, I'll be more cheerful.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Tidbit from the Past

Today I found a note I wrote to the Mama in 1968 or 1969 from the look of the psychedelic colored stationery.

On the envelope, I wrote
To Mama
To Brighten your day with a bit of May

On the neon green paper, I wrote


You're the greatest,
I say you are!

So sorry I have nothing
to give you but this.

But, then maybe soon I'll give you
some thing other than a jar

And both you and me can be
in true bliss.


though you still have to
do some work!

or Me, the Lazy One

I wonder if the jar had anything in it.

It's the letter T at ABC Wednesday. Click here to check out other T posts. 


Monday, January 25, 2016

A Pass to Read

Yesterday, as I was weeding out stuff I've been storing for decades, I found a hallway pass that was made out to me in my last semester of high school. The pass allowed me to go sit outside on the Senior Class benches to read my book. Yes, you read that right—a pass to read!

My first period was Reading, an English elective. I loved that class. We read novels and plays of our choice in class and wrote book reports about what we read. Without that class, I doubt I would've ever read such classics as Babbitt, Our Town, Death of a Salesman, The Jungle, Winnie the Pooh, and Rabbit, Run.

I don't know what it's like today, but 45 years ago when a high school senior already had her credits locked in for graduation, life was a picnic. Just as long as she didn't do something stupid, nor get caught for doing something stupid.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

First Memory

Going on four-years-old is my estimation of how old I was. I could've even been a year younger because I was lying in bed in the parents' room rather than in the bedroom I shared with Older Brother. I couldn't sleep because my brain was on.  I thought my brain was like a television, except I had no dial to turn it off. So, I thought I could change the channel by imagining a scene at Ninong Pablo's house. Click. My brain was still on.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

From the Archives -- The Daddy and Religion. Kinda

Today's archived post is from my second blog, This and That, Here and There, Now, Sometimes Then.
What Daddy Told Me
(originally published May 7, 2010) 

My dad didn't advise me much when I was growing up. When he did, they were humdingers, and usually they were one-liners.  For instance, on the day of my senior prom, he told me rather placidly, and unexpectedly, "Don't go f***ing around." The idea hadn't even entered my mind.  And, when I was attending community college, Daddy pronounced suddenly in his usual unruffled way to me, "Don't be a hippie." Nothing more.

Probably the most profound guidance Daddy gave me was when, as a teenager, I decided to check out different churches. Not because I was looking for a church to join but because I was curious about how different churches worshiped. I didn't know that Daddy had noticed what I was doing. Even if he had, I didn't think he would've cared since we were not avid churchgoers. But before I went on my fourth Sunday outing, Daddy said, calmly, as always, "I don't want you going to any other church as long as I'm alive."

Huh? Daddy only went to church (Catholic Church) on Christmas and Easter, with an unspoken sigh and a quiet damn each time he had to rise from his seat or bend down on the kneeler. Still, I honored his wishes, being the good daughter that I was. Years later, I figured Daddy was hedging his bets in case the priests were right about heaven and hell. He wanted to make sure that all his ducks were in a row, and one of those ducks was seeing that his daughter didn't stray into other religions. At least until he was dead.

How I miss my dad!

By the way, if you'd like to know what I meant by the "quiet damn," check out this post, Going to Church with the Daddy. Be forewarned, the Daddy did cuss in church. 


Saturday, May 2, 2015

From the Archives -- My Turn

I'm posting articles from my archives for the next few days. Here's a piece I wrote for my first blog, Cu'Pie Baby Bird says "Chirp. Chirp." 

My Turn
(originally published August 9, 2007)

Thirty-six years ago, my mom didn’t hold my hand, but pushed from behind to ensure I looked good for the prom. Yep, I went to the prom, the only date I had in high school. Even in hindsight I am amazed I was asked to the prom. (Thanks, Mike!) Guess there is something to having a nutty, sparkling personality. I say that facetiously. Let’s also say that by the end of my senior year, I finally embraced the fact that I looked and thought somewhat differently from the norm and went with trying to conform as a nonconformist. So my idea for a prom dress was sewing a patchwork granny dress.

My mom nixed the idea very quickly and adamantly. She enlisted my dad and together they took me shopping for a dress at a genuine dress shop in Salinas that specifically sold fancy dresses for fancy events. Among all the pink and white frilly dresses, was a simple, but elegant, lime-green satin and chiffon affair, which actually looked better than described. It was in my size and it was on sale. And when I put it on, both my mom and I knew it was the one. I didn’t feel like a princess. Maybe more like Cinderella. I was glad then and still appreciative that Mama disregarded my desire for something, okay, I’ll say it, conformingly hippie-like.

Thirty-six years later, I have returned the favor. Yesterday, I held my mom’s hand as we maneuvered the shops in Salinas for the dress for her fancy event. In a few weeks, she will be walking down the aisle as part of the wedding party for a godson. It’s been a very long time between fancy events for her, probably since the late '70s.

It only took two stores to find the perfect sparkly, yet subtle dress. It’s a flowing, taupe- colored, floor-length dress with delicate beading on the bodice and jacket. It’s the kind of dress that would make any stoical woman smile and say giddily, “It’s a princess dress.” Even though the straps, the hem, and the sleeves on the jacket were too long when she put the dress on, we both knew it was the one. Alterations can be easily made to the dress. Just like the bittersweet changes that have been taking place between my mom and me.

I am so glad that years from now I will have a memory of Mama and me walking slowly hand-in-hand through the mall, searching for her perfect fancy dress and having found it.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for Sunday Picnics at the Beach

Going to the beach was always an all-of-a-sudden decision that the Mama and the Daddy made at some point between the moment they woke up and finished breakfast on a Sunday morning. Then, they would wake up the Older Brother and me.

The Mama and Daddy got everything together. The Mama cooked a pot of rice and gathered plates, napkins, utensils, cups, cutting board, knives, blankets, towels, and so forth. The Daddy collected firewood (and later charcoal), grills, and buckets. The older I got, the more tasks I did, from gathering my own change of clothes to getting the picnic basket together and helping haul everything out to the car.

We usually made two stops before we got to our favorite picnic spot on the rocky shoreline in Monterey. The first was at a mom-and-pop store on the way out of town to buy the Daddy's bottle of whiskey, Seven-Up, soda, and hot dogs. The second was at the Fisherman's Wharf where the parents bought American mackerel, squid, and other fish for lunch.

The Daddy always drove the long scenic route along the coast to our picnic spot, which was over a short dune and down a slope full of boulders and rocks. It was tough going for a kid, but I managed to make it down by myself. The Daddy and the Older Brother were whirlwinds as they took several trips back and forth to the car.

Once the blanket was laid out, everyone, but the Daddy, changed into shorts. The Mama picked up a bucket and headed for the rocks to pick seaweed. At that time, people could gather seaweed freely for food. The water was still pristine, so we thought. The Older Brother went in another direction on his own adventure. The Daddy made a makeshift barbecue pit on the rocks, and once the fire was going, he mixed a drink of whiskey and Seven-Up. The Daddy was very happy to grill the fish and sip his drink, while the rest of was did our thing.

I stayed within sight of the Daddy, going farther and farther away as I grew older, climbing the rocks and splashing in the tide pools. Sometimes, I had my own bucket to gather snails, which we ate for supper when we got home. I always kept an eye out for the waves. The Mama told me to make a sign of the cross in the sand as a worrisome wave approached and that would keep me safe. It worked every time.

The Daddy called us in when the fish was cooked. The Mama took a long time coming back because she kept stopping to pick up more seaweed. But, finally she was back with a bucket full of red, pink, green, brown, and black seaweed. The Older Brother appeared from who knows where, a few times with an abalone or two.

Our lunch was a feast. Grilled fish. Hot dogs. Rice, Tomatoes and onions. And, whatever else the Mama packed in the basket. Yummm. The Mama often said at our picnics that eating at the beach made the food taste better.

After we ate, the Daddy washed the grills, then took a nap. The Mama fussed about, putting everything back in order, after which she sat back and enjoyed the moment, or went out for more seaweed. The Older Brother and I explored.  Sometimes I followed him, but could never keep up. Then before I knew it, it was time to change into our dry clothes and haul everything back up the hill to the car.

Last year, the Husband and I went by our family's favorite picnic spot. The sand dunes and rocky slope are no more. Rocks now litter the spot where we used to have our picnics. Doesn't matter, I can still see us there.

Click here to find other A to Z challenge participants.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

F is for Foul, Fowl!

The Daddy bought several live chickens at a time from a local chicken farmer, and he and the Mama would slaughter them in the backyard.  I was 11 or 12 when the parents decided it was time for me to help with the slaughtering. Like I really wanted the experience. I suppose they figured a day would come when I would need to slaughter a chicken for survival. Yes, it would definitely be an asset if I were to be chosen for Survivor, the reality show. But, that's if I didn't get kicked off before my team won a challenge that rewarded us with chickens. I digress.

My part in the slaughter was simple.  I only needed to hold a chicken firmly down on a block of wood while the Daddy slit its neck. On the day of my rite of passage, I watched the parents do the process a couple of times. Then it was my turn. I kneeled behind the wood, and the Daddy put a chicken beneath my hands, face towards him. He did not let go of the chicken until he was sure the bird could not get away from me.

"Ready," said the Daddy.

"Okay," I said, leaning forward a little more to maintain a better grip on the bird.

The Daddy did his thing quickly. The chicken squawked and fidgeted madly under my hands, but I kept it steady so its blood drained into the pot beneath it. Then, it happened.


The chicken performed it last (to put it politely) bathroom act.  All over my face, arms, and body!  Yeah, go Eeewwwwwww because I'm sure I did.

I was good helper though. I held that chicken until its spirit completely left it. The Mama took the chicken and I ran into the house to clean up.  The parents were good. They waited until I was in the house before they broke into laughter.

Click here to find other A to Z challenge participants.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Charlie Quaid


"Charlie, tell me the story, again, about that day we put away the benches at Sunnyslope School."

"Remember how we used to move the benches back to the side of the building after we ate lunch in fourth grade. Maybe it was fifth grade. There were only a few guys who could carry a bench all the way by themselves. I felt so good that first day I carried one by myself. Then I turned around and I saw you carrying two benches, one under each arm. I was impressed."

I don't remember any of it. If there was an exaggeration on Charlie's part, it would be that I was carrying the benches rather than dragging them.

Charlie Quaid and I had known each other since fourth grade. He was very cute in his blue cub scout uniform. He had the sweetest smile and, when I look back, the kindest regard for people, which perhaps he didn't know he had.  That, I think, contributed to why he was well-liked by both sexes throughout his life.

Charlie was one of the smartest kids in our class, and, I think, one of the most liked. He was the kid that got some teachers frustrated because he couldn't be appeased with the rote answers. He had to know "how come?" I recall sitting behind Charlie in sixth grade and Charlie asking the teacher one too many "How come?" The teacher, eyes wild and furious, strode down our aisle, grabbed a fistful of Charlie's shirt, literally pulling him out of his seat, and growled at him to shut up.  I was impressed how Charlie kept his cool. Charlie didn't remember this incident at all.

I lost track of Charlie after high school. I saw him at our 10th reunion, which was the first time he told me the bench story.  Fifteen years later, I ran into Charlie at our 25th class reunion.

Charlie was the kind of person who most people liked instantly. Elderly women, such as the Mama, "adopted" him into their family. Charlie was intelligent and street-smart, charming and respectful, curious and resourceful, fun and dependable. He ingrained the cub scout message. He worked hard and played hard, knowing when it was time to do both.

Charlie and my friendship began as adults, soon after our 25th high school reunion. It was around the same time that the Husband and I were young in our relationship, so the Husband  had the fortune to become friends with Charlie, too.

The ultimate adventure that Charlie and I shared was dropping out of a plane at 18,000 feet in our hometown. We waited for more than four hours for our turn  to board a plane, hook ourselves up to instructors, then jump (or be pushed) out of the plane and free fall for about 90 seconds, after which we slowly descended to the ground. When it was all over, Charlie, sporting a big grin, said, "Thank you, Susie. This was one of the best experiences I have ever had."

There are so many things I liked about Charlie, for instance, how he brought his mitt to baseball games, ready to catch that fly ball. And, every time I saw him, I learned something new about him. At one our first hikes, I learned about the tiny notebook in his pocket that he whipped out every time he wanted to remember something to look up.

I loved how he loved his Lisa. Both the Husband and I noticed at the same time how Lisa's and Charlie's eyes met when they passed each other at the first party they hosted. It was a kind of wonderful. Later, Charlie said to me, "If I were ever to marry, I would marry Lisa." He did, several months later.

A few years ago, Charlie was telling the Husband and me that he doubt he'd see his 60th birthday. He'd done the actuarial numbers on himself, he said, basing them on his many years of substance abuse and poor lifestyle choices, as well as a recent heart attack. Charlie was matter-of-fact about it all. "You're healthier than you've ever been," we said. He shook his head. "Too late," he said.

I don't know if Charlie truly believed the numerical prediction. As far as I know, Charlie continued being Charlie. Nothing extreme, just living life with gusto. . .going to a job he enjoyed. . . riding his mountain bike. . .being curious about the world. . .getting ticked off at inhumanity. . . .hanging out with his friends and family. . .and adventuring through life with his Lisa and their dog Clive Alive.

On January 1, 2013, Charlie and his Lisa and their Clive Alive were walking on their favorite beach when Lisa and Clive Alive got caught in an ocean wave. Charlie ran in and saved them. Then, just like that, Charlie was hit by a wave and swept away. Witnesses said they saw him bobbing for 15 minutes before they lost sight of him. Charlie's body was eventually recovered. He was a few months shy of turning 60.

I miss Charlie.

I'm participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this month. To check out other participants, click here. See you tomorrow.   

Friday, April 18, 2014

Peeling Oranges

As the Daddy started the car, the Mama pulled an orange from the paper bag. She dug into the orange with her thumbnail, pulled away a bit of the peel, and handed it to her teenage son in the back seat. The Daddy eased onto the two-lane highway when the Mama took out another orange. This one she peeled completely, then gave the juicy fruit to her seven-year old daughter who peeked over the front seat.   In her mind, the Mama already forgave the children their mess.

The Mama reached for a third orange. The Daddy kept his eye on the road, maintaining a safe distance from the car in front of him. The Mama slowly peeled the orange, glancing now and then at the passing scenery. The teenager swallowed his last slice of orange and burped. His sister giggled.

The Mama reached over to the Daddy and touched his right hand with a piece of orange. His eyes still on the road, the Daddy took the orange and ate it in one bite. When he swallowed, the Mama gave him another piece. She looked at the back seat. "Junior, do you want another orange?" she asked.

The teenager turned a page of his comic book.

"Junior, another orange?"


"Susie, want more orange?" She held up a piece to the little girl, who happily took it with her sticky fingers.

The Mama handed the Daddy several more pieces before she finally ate a piece.

I'm participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this month. To check out other participants, click here. See you tomorrow.   

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ninongs and Ninangs

The Mama and the Daddy asked six of their friends to be the ninongs and ninangs, or godparents, when I was baptized.  The Roman Catholic Church recognizes only two baptismal sponsors, and one ninang (female godparent) and one ninong (male godparent) did sign on the formal lines of the baptismal document a long time ago. The other four signed on the right hand top of the page. I have a feeling the godparents signed it all at once at the church, which makes me wonder if the priest panicked that the church rules were not being followed.

The parents taught me that the spouses of the godparents were also ninangs and ninongs, and I was to address them as such. Altogether, I had 10 godparents. I have many memories of these elegant people. Here are a few of them.

Ninang Deling taught me my numbers in Ilocano. She was quite patient with the four-year old me that bounced and danced around her as I repeated after her—maysa, dua, tallo, uppat, lima. . .

When I was six or seven, Ninong Cleto and I drove in his boat of a car to the store for candy. As I selected candy bars, he asked for the 3-foot tall doll sitting on the shelves up high. This doll had tits and wore heels and a fancy blue glittery gown. The Mama thought it too pretty to play with, but its hair still got shorn and its dress torn.

I think the late afternoon/early evening phone calls from Ninang Babe started when I was in middle school. Usually a bit tipsy, she called to tell me how much she loved me. She talked about other stuff, but I only understood that she loved me. Our family didn't say "I love you" to each other back then. It was a given. Yet, for a kid, it's nice to hear the words, even from a godmother who by then I had no idea what she looked like.

In 1975, a friend and I decided to drive cross country after the spring term was over. The parents did all they could to discourage me. The idea of two young women driving, unchaperoned, across the United States was a foreign concept for them. What if your car breaks down? What if you meet bad people? What if you run out of money? And so on and so forth. I started to get anxious and thought maybe I shouldn't take the trip. Then Ninong Pablo dropped by the parents' house for a visit. "I hear you're going to drive across America," he said. I nodded. The Daddy had probably called him to come over and advise me.  "You're going to have a great time,"Ninong Pablo said.

And, then, there was Ninong Frank. The last time I saw him was in a supermarket parking lot. He was heading towards his car, while I was heading into the market. As always, he gave me his version of a big smile and eventually asked how old am I now. When I told him that I was in my 40s, he was quite startled. "Oh, well," he said, pulling out a five-dollar bill from his pocket. "Here. Buy yourself a doughnut."
I'm participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this month. To check out other participants, click here. See you tomorrow.