Thursday, July 24, 2014

Inside Box 1663 ... my hometown



Sometimes it seems the years I spent growing up on the Hill happened to someone else.   As if I were made of Teflon®, the significance of what went on there just a few years before never really touched me.

Then, a few years ago I happened upon an unassuming little book, Inside Box 1663.
It may sound crazy, but I've a need to identify on some level with a book's character - fictionalized or not.    Written from the perspective of a real LA wife - no sensationalism necessary - I empathized with Ms. Jette almost immediately.  

Her opening sentence gave me goosebumps: 
"In 1943 I lived in Croton-on-Hudson, New York with my husband Eric and my son Bill who was almost ten years old.  At that time I had no idea there was a Box 1663 in the Santa Fe post office, nor that I would disappear into it, lose my identity and emerge from it at the end of 1945 an entirely different person."

One observer writes, "Los Alamos, NM was a bustling city that officially didn't exist." 
To ensure that this town was completely hidden from the rest of the world, incoming mail was addressed simply to P.O. Box 1663, Santa Fe, New Mexico.   Birth certificates of infants born at Los Alamos during the war even listed 'P.O. Box 1663' as their place of birth!

My heart ached for Ms. Jette and the others who worked in "grim secrecy" ..... whose parents and extended family members had no idea where they were.  But I was astonished at the harsh living conditions the families had to endure -- a far cry from what I witnessed in the 50's and 60's, when the government practically threw money our direction.

At the same time, there was humor: 
Long-time resident, Marge Schreiber remembers a quiet afternoon in early August of 1945 when her husband witnessed an accident at the Lab and was thought to have been exposed to radiation. 

"Harriet Hollaway was at the foot of the stairs and, after I told her, we just looked at each other. In times of crisis, we would take out the whiskey bottle, so Harriet went and got her bottle.  Every time I looked like I was going to faint, Harriet would give me another shot of whiskey. I have no idea how much I drank during that time, but I am certain I completely depleted her supply. Consequently, I have no real memory of that night, and that’s how I got through it."

.... in Daddy's uniform with service weapon  
...  Mother's gate pass

Yes, I'll be watching the premiere of WGN's "Manhattan" on Sunday night.   Obviously, it's historial fiction, but I hope the producers don't feel it necessary to sensationalize - or demonize those early citizens.   As Ms. Schreiber said, "They did what they had to do to win the war." 

Omega Canyon Bridge

Saturday, July 19, 2014

I fibbed ...


Happy weekend, friends!

...not much, how about you?
Unless you count two truck-loads full of  'schtuff' bound for Goodwill as noteworthy.   (Um, I didn't think so either.)

Actually, it was those long overdue partings of the ways that got me thinking.    And feeling a bit restless.
... which, given my present circumstances, isn't such a great combination.

A pleasant compromise is in order.   But first, a confession.

I fibbed.
Why, with just a glance at my Pinterest dreams boards, you'd have reason to believe I'm 'in lust' for grand homes with enormous, state-of-the-art kitchens and sweeping stairwells.   Think Ben Cartwright's 'Ponderosa.'  

Not so.
Evelyn Willer's daughter is becoming more like her mother every day. When faced with sprawling spaces, the first thing to cross my mind is 'how much would THAT cost to heat and cool?'
... followed by, 'and effort to keep clean?'

Having spent my childhood in a government-assigned 'quad'  -- and, like my fictional 'bestie', Kinsey Millhone -- I instinctively gravitate towards really small places.    It's been years since I saw The Bodyguard ... but didn't Whitney Houston's character sleep in a tiny room down the hall, far from her opulent master suite?   I "get" that.

So, I've become fascinated with the idea of RV-living.   Then again, it's such fun to witness the tiny-home movement grow in popularity.   Do you suppose they come with a panic room?    I've always wanted one of those! :)         

On the other hand ...
DH considers our 1,800 sq. ft. house somewhat small.   The last year of his helping maintain the yard and pool - while battling cancer - has (obviously!) been a burden.   He's not exactly come out and said so, but I suspect he'll be agreeable to downsizing in the next year or so.  

Have you any recommendations - or warnings! - which might serve us well?    This whole idea might come to nothing -- but for now, it's wonderfully nice to dream.

Hugs from Phoenix!

Myra

  


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Home Sweet Home?


This just in! ...
Kim over at Snug Harbor Bay is the winner of my first (but certainly not last!) giveaway for the wee vintage spice bottles.    Won't you please send me your preferred mailing address?  Thank you for playing along! 
.... we now return to our regularly-scheduled surfing! :)



"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again."
... Just a guess, but I think most folks immediately 'get' the origin of that line.   (And if you're anything like me, it's accompanied by a delicious little chill.)

Once upon a time, I possessed an ability to easily memorize most any passage or musical score.   But these days -- aside from Ms. du Maurier's opening paragraph or "The Wreck of the Hesperus" -- I'm dependent on prompts and lists.  Lots of lists. 
Anyway...

Recently I was delighted to learn I'd won Linda O'Connell's giveaway -- an autographed copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul's "Home Sweet Home."   
I love the Chicken Soup series, and was especially eager to make this book my friend.    Not just because Linda is one of its authors("contributors" sounds way too inadequate, don't you agree?).  
No, I'm intrigued by others' definition of 'home.'

Ours is an OK house .... a nice, average house for average folk.   I'm just not 'in love' with it.
10 years later, it still doesn't feel much like 'home.'
The decision to build in the far west valley was probably a result of our looking at far too many homes, far too long.   My mother's health was rapidly deteriorating, time was at a premium -- and I just wanted to step off the carousel.     Even during our final walk-through, I had reservations.  Still, I kept my mouth shut.  
Perhaps what I was looking for didn't even exist ... at least not in our pay scale.

Only when I first heard Miranda Lambert's "The House That Built Me" -- and subsequently burst into tears -- did all the pieces start falling in place.   

I first met 'the house that built me' in my mid-20's.  It sits amongst other middle-of-the-road, working-class dwellings in west Texas, looking much the way I remember.   (Love Google!) 
I sincerely hope its current residents replaced the burnt orange, high-low carpet and avocado appliances.   I hope they love it ... the way in which I forgot to do.  

Once upon a time, I couldn't wait to leave that place and that town behind.
However - like the first line of "Rebecca" - for a few years now I've dreamt of going back.   
     

"If I could walk around, I swear I'll leave.
Won't take nothing but a memory,

from the house that built me." 
- Miranda Lambert


It's probably a safe bet, I'll never act on that impulse and knock on that door.  But it doesn't cost anything to fantasize.  

What would you do?
Where is your very own "House That Built Me"? ... or, is it still waiting to meet you?

Thank you for listening!

...and hugs from Phoenix,

Myra



Saturday, June 21, 2014

Thank You for the Music


It's funny, really.   Funny-odd, I mean.

Casey Kasem's passing didn't come as a surprise.   Still, I was more than a little saddened at the news.  
...which surprised me.

To be honest, prior to his family's brouhaha played out by the media, I'd not thought of Mr. Kasem in years.

I suppose my feelings were a reaction to the slow death of radio, as I knew it.  

Except when darkness fell and our little transistors could pick up a signal from the Holy Grail (aka, KOMA Oklahoma City) -- my friends and I were resigned to listening to our hometown "jack-of-all trades" radio station.  

It made no difference that we never met a 'real' D.J.    They were our friends.  
.....And handsome, besides.   I mean, you could just tell by their voices.  Right?  (Tee-hee)
  
Half a decade later, I'm still left to wonder if I don't choose a 'favorite' station for it's genre  ... or, the friendly host. :)

Since the easy-listening 'Music of Your Life' station I adored went belly-up last year, I've felt somewhat adrift.   Getting satellite radio installed in my aging Camry was short-listed.   
Then, while on vacation in March we were upgraded to a rental car boasting satellite radio -- and by week's end I was longing for a D.J.'s voice.   Go figure!

BTW .... has anyone been to see "Jersey Boys"?   What did you think?
DH and I aren't big movie-goers; and no matter how talented, I'm not especially fond of impersonators. 
Then again, The 4 Seasons' "Walk Like a Man" was the first record I was allowed to pick out for myself.   I.Seriously.Loved their music!

... Which is odd, given the fact they're Americans.

It's true.  In '64 I fell head-over-teakettle for the Beatles and, seemingly, the whole lot of Brits who followed:
George, Keith, Gerry, Chad and Jeremy  ... and, of course, Freddie.  Silly Freddie. :)
... still guaranteed to put a smile on my face.

Unfortunately, not everyone shared my devotion.   There's just no accounting for some people's tastes. (JK!)
When Tom's sis was visiting last year, I hoped to discover some common ground and hopefully, a more relaxed relationship.    After all, we're practically the same age.     

I'm not sure how the conversation turned to music, but I hope my face didn't reflect my horror when Annette said she didn't much care for The Beatles.  I tried not to wince as she added, "I was a 'Mo-Town' girl."
(Aside:  My parents never let me listen to 'that kind' of music.  For that matter, I wasn't allowed to watch 'Peyton Place' either.   Another story for another day perhaps.)
Music is so intensely personal, isn't it?

I'm not real sure what compelled me to put these thoughts down on 'paper' this morning.   In just a minute, I'll hit a button to 'listen live' to a promising station featuring a good C/W playlist and a great D.J. friend at the mic.

Meanwhile, I'm feeling mighty beholden to Casey ....and those DJ's who've not been replaced by giant corporation's soulless programming.  

Thank you for the music!


I hope you all enjoy great weekend!

Hugs from Phoenix,

Myra


 









Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Random Recollections + a Giveaway!



For as long as I can recall, I've been fascinated by codes ... ridiculously pleased if I managed to find the key before it became passe!  

When my folks would travel to Albuquerque for some 'real' shopping, I was terribly interested in the disembodied, dulcet voices coming from the department store's ceiling:  "Code ___-___-___."  (Soft bing.)

Looking this way and that, I was invariably disappointed that no-one else seemed to hear The Voice ... or cared.

Do these code - talkers still exist, do you suppose?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Reflecting on a recent haircut:

'K' picks up the electric razor to trim my nape ..... and I'm instantly transported back to Comb's Beauty Shop, ca. 1959 -- replete with pink and black tile and rectangular vials of turquoise-colored liquid.  

When old Mrs. Combs' razor touched the back of my neck, I'd practically jump out of that chair; my body becoming one big goosebump. 

I'm sort of disappointed, that doesn't happen anymore.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

Were I a believer in reincarnation, surely there'd be a canine somewhere along the line.  
Like a bloodhound, now n' then I'll get a niggling in my head to rediscover something inconsequential.... and it won't go away 'til the answer's found.   For instance?

Every now and then when I reach for a Q-tip, I get a fuzzy '50's flashback: 
My mother stands before the bathroom sink, holding a little bottle of olive oil under the hot water faucet.  Then, carefully dipping a Q-tip into the warmed oil, she proceeds to clean the inside of my ears.    A curious sensation, but a nice one, too.  

I loved that pretty little bottle!   Tho' it sat atop a little shelf in our bathroom every day of my childhood,  I wouldn't be able to give an accurate description if you held a gun to my head.   

Guess what!?!
On a whim, I googled 'vintage Olive Oil containers' the other day, not really expecting to see a match.

I'm not usually given to impulse.  Yet, this little trio is on its way to Phoenix from Meme's Sideboard (Etsy shoppe).   Woo-hoo ... I'm doing a happy dance over here!

I'm thinking the Pompeian bottle will be a sweet addition to my 'ish' room.

But! I'd no clue about the pepper and chili pepper shakers.
That's where YOU come in, friends!

I've not hosted a give-away before.  Don't you agree it's high-time?

The little pepper bottle and chili-pepper shaker would make a great display in your fun vintage kitchen!  You might even want give them as a gift to someone who enjoys collecting those old memories from the past.

To qualify, please be a 'follower' and leave a comment.  Easy-peasy, right?
If you'd like more detail, please visit Elsie's shop by clicking on the link, above.

The winner's name will be picked at random .... let's say on July 1.

Thank you for playing along, and have yourselves a great week!

Hugs,

Myra








 
           



 






  


        

Friday, June 13, 2014

To Kill a Coconut



It didn't happen all at once.  
..... in fact, it seems like yesterday I was sitting atop the washing machine, making fun of my dad's breakfast.

....or vehemently protesting his making me eat "just one more" spoonful of Malt-o-Meal before school.  

On his days off, Daddy's "most important meal of the day" usually consisted of fried eggs, bacon, sausage, lox, and Shredded Wheat softened in a bath of Half-n-Half.    Were grits available in New Mexico back then, I've no doubt he'd make room for another bowl, decorated with generous pads of oleo.  ('Real' butter was too costly.)

Like his daughter, my dad wasn't fond of fruit.  But you get the idea.

No, my love affair with breakfast didn't happen all at once.   Well into my 40's, I seldom ate before Noon -- then enjoyed a hearty dinner around 8 or 9 o'clock.   

Breakfast was for retirees ... or health nuts.   (LOL)

Then, nearly 12 years ago I moved 2,000 mi. west and began work at a resort -- whose on-site restaurant offered generous employee discounts.   I ask you, how many times can anyone ignore the intoxicating aromas of morning carbs passing right past their desk?  
An unintentional whimper (or several) probably escaped my lips before I caved.


NOT a normal meal ... but ooooh, so tempting!

Nowadays, come 8:30 or 9AM I'm usually ravenous. 
.....and supper?  

Well, Supper's for young folk ... and health nuts.  :)

There's precious little I recall of time spent with my dad.  (Given some changes in background, Billy Crystal's marvelous 700 Sundays might as well have been written about me!)

But how my dad and I shared a love of eating ... noshing ... dining.   Whatever.

If only to make my son smile at the memory, I'll sometimes adopt a faraway look: "You know, I could really go for ...."  
(The correct response is usually, "a pistachio milkshake.")

Speaking of memories  ...
In honor of my dad, the other day I observed a ritual he taught me when I was but 7-8 years old:   Killing coconuts.



The victim


I'd spread old newspapers across the back stoop while Dad gathered his screwdriver and hammer.   Then, in the manner of a placekicker's assistant, he'd hold the coconut steady while I drove the screwdriver's tip deep inside.   Once, twice, 3 times.
I'd watch in fascination when he upended the coconut, allowing the 'milk' to drain into an old jelly glass.
Then we'd take turns smashing the 'hull' into bite-size pieces.




We probably didn't 'play' with our food more than half a dozen times, but that old ritual remains one of my fondest memories.  




Last night a friend from high school commented on my FB page, "Father's Day is hard."    Yes, Patty..... but aren't we so blessed by the memories!

Wishing you all a wonderfully MEMORABLE tomorrow.  

Hugs from Phoenix,
Myra




Thursday, May 8, 2014

The lady in red (lipstick)


There was Crescencia and Madeline ... Tomasita, Margaret and Lupita. 
And Evelyn -- my mother.

Mid-'50's:  
I remember spending Saturday afternoons with Mother at San Ildefonso or Santa Clara pueblo where she'd go to 'trade' with the Indians.   
(To be honest, I was wildly UNenthusiastic, preferring to hide in the backseat with a comic book.)

A shy woman by nature, I've no idea how or what prompted her hobby.  A self-proclaimed 'nervous' driver, still she'd navigate the twisty, narrow road off  'the Hill' in all sorts of weather to barter the contents of our Buick's trunk for their craft.
 
Long before Indian pottery became fashionable, our apartment started to fill with pottery, soft leather goods and hand-crafted drums.
 
 
A few real friendships developed.   
Over the years, mother was gifted with a gorgeous squash-blossom necklace and matching belt .... but the greatest gift was her unlikely friendship with Lupita.   
Apart from a shared birth year, their differences were many.  But, I suspect each recognized the other's tendency to look for best in people. 
 
Lupita and family, 1955
When or why mother stopped going, I couldn't say.   I suppose it was just one of those things.  
 
Then, in May 2000 an impromptu suggestion turned into something neat!
 
As an 83rd birthday surprise, I'd been planning a trip back to New Mexico for months.  We never could have imagined the Cerro Grande fire, would (obviously) impact our plans to visit friends in Los Alamos.   
Then, "Why don't we take a drive to San Ildefonso? Perhaps Lupita is still there."   

Instead of the almost-inconspicuous dirt road leading off the highway, here was a modern paved affair, not far from a garish casino - leading to an equally modern gift shop.   My heart sank.
   
Putting on my best game face, I explained our mission to an associate... who looked startled, but agreed to consult another.   Finally, an older gentleman gestured my direction: "Yes, Lupita is still here; she has agreed to see you."    

14 years later I still get a bit teary-eyed remembering the ladies sweet reunion.   Her children were summoned ..... everyone's words tumbled, one over another.    

Prior to saying 'good-bye', Lupita's son confided, "I never forgot her, you know.   I couldn't remember her name, but I'd ask my mother, 'When is the lady in red lipstick coming back to see us?'."  


Later, mother shared that seeing Lupita was the 'best' part of our trip.  I'm pretty sure they never had occasion to speak again, but fond memories never really die.  
 
My one and only overture to mother's passion:
My 8-y/o self traded a little girl a pack of Juicy-Fruit gum for this duck.
Tho' I've much of mother's collection, this little guy never fails to make me smile!


Wishing you all a sweet weekend!

Hugs from Phoenix,
Myra