(Re)Collections

I found a new blog, Poetic Home. I like the Repurposed~Upcycling category in particular, and hope to see more additions to Affordable Anthropologie Rooms. What I like especially is that big ol’ typewriter on its banner. Seems to be a special affection for typewriters (check out the typewriter wall lamp) there, which I share.

When I was a youngster, there was nothing better than a trip to my grandparent’s house. When they moved to Westfield, Mass. for a coupla years, I was heartbroken. Then they moved back to NY when an old man was randomly beaten with a baseball bat and mugged in the hallway of their apartment complex, seconds after my grandfather left the building.

They’d moved back home into a trailer, then, but prior to Westfield, they’d lived in  a big white and red house, with a huge lawn, gardens, and a small merry-go-roundish thing that spun us round and round. I remember the  huge, homemade raisin cookies my grandfather made, have fleeting memories of the racoons he kept in a cage in his garage,   the large signs he’d paint for the farmer’s barns, and being allowed to play with all of his paints. I remember painting a raw, uncooked egg red with a yellow cross around this time of year, so long ago. Years and years later, my grandmother would die of cancer early on Easter morn. I’d taken on some of her care when I was home and working at a newspaper, because it pained me to see how difficult emotionally it was for her children to do so, save my mother the nurse, who always knew exactly what to do. I’d enjoyed that bond with my mother, who made sure to write me a formal, yet personal,  thank you note, in addition to the development of  a new closeness between us, which lasts to this day. And it changed the way I handled death. Instead of running  away and adopting stubborn denial, I felt that, while not quite able to embrace the notion, it helped to ease the process and comfort my grandmother as much as I possibly could in the face of the inevitable.

At the white and red house, there was always plenty of food. Fruits. Fish. Clams. Huge pots of spaghetti my grandfather would always make, even after his nine  kids had moved out on their own.  We both preferred it the same way, with only the lightest hint of sauce, so light that the spaghetti looked orange. And heavy on the parmesan. “Eat, eat”, my grandfather would prod, while my father winced. You never knew what you’d find in that spaghetti…zuchini, squash, funky meatballs, pork, and other, more questionable edibles. My grandfather  liked crushed red pepper on his spaghetti. I’d try to match him, shake for shake, and would end up with red, watery eyes and an “I told you so”,  from my father.  My father, a product of a broken home, and so a traditionalist who embraced solidness and security, didn’t know what to make of my mother’s eccentric family. They were the Devines (my grandmother) and the Russells (my grandfather). It was never the Devines;  it was always the Russ-ells, on the wind  of my father’s exasperated sigh in the middle of a fight with my mother, sometimes after leaving the big white and red house. Roz  never really left home. She was always there, alongside her father, even when only in her thoughts. And, in name only (according to my father), I was a Delles, but really, actually;  a Russ-ell, because, like the Russ-ells, I refused to believe the rules ever applied to me. My grandmother Lila the Devine might have come from upper class stock, but it was my grandfather who reigned the  eccentric, displaced monarch.

I collect vintage typewriters. At one time I had at least six or so. Before I moved to the shelter, I’d quietly rented a storage space and cut the collection down to two: a heavy, old Remington that my mother Roz oh-so-begrudgingly let me take (likely because she knew I’d find some way to snitch it anyway….at least I asked first, right?), and a small little brown number with white keys; also old, that I’d gifted the ex with because he’d had an old advertisement of the same model. He liked old stuff too. I took that one just because. I still lust for a zippy, 60’s-ish model; a shiny red number with white keys. And I’ll find it someday, somewhere. Or Roz will. For cheap, dammit.

The typewriter in the big white and red house, the one that I’d loved to plunk away  on—that  first typewriter I’d ever loved (a plain little thing)—was probably my grandmother’s. She liked to write, especially long letters to her little sister in the midwest, whose ashes rest at her grave. That cool pen in the fountain with the big feather was probably hers, too. I never felt close or akin to her, except when I’m writing. The kiddo has taken up writing, in longhand,  in a little red notebook. She writes mostly about herself and Georgette, a little stuffed black cat that she takes everywhere. I bequeath my typewriters, someday,  to her. With love.

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