viernes, julio 29, 2005

Don Eliezer, Fruitvale

Today we met our neighbor Don Eliezer, otherwise known as Al. People call him Al because they don't understand his name--it's from the Bible--and they ask him to spell it, but even when he spells it they can't manage it and call him Al.

He has the most amazing garden--very mature fruit trees that he has grown mainly from seeds and cuttings. An enormous quince tree--in fact two quince trees--whose fruit looks like enormous green apples. (L*'s dad correctly identified them as quince and also, like Don Eliezer, said that they're used to make membrillo.)

Don Eliezer is Italian of Spanish extraction. He and his wife have lived here so long he doesn't count the years.

There used to be a lot of drugs in the neighborhood and a lot of people moved away. Don Eliezer didn't want to be forced out and he and several of the neighbors got together.

The area changed a lot. Not only the families but also a lot of the businesses moved away, buildings were left empty. Meanwhile in San Francisco, there's not enough room. The Asians in San Francisco saw the empty buildings in Oakland and said, let's move to Oakland. Now there's a lot of thriving businesses.

His niece is living with them now, because his wife can't manage anymore.

With all the fruits from his garden, his wife would make wonderful pies.

He used to work in the typewriter business, but that business doesn't exist anymore.

Now it's all computers. He's too old to use computers. His niece has a computer and sometimes she sends email for him. He was able to get in touch with a friend from way back, who didn't know if he was alive or dead.

One time for work he was driving around, El Cerrito, and he saw some beautiful mora (mulberry) trees. He had never seen red mora before. He filled his hat with the berries and got his shirt all stained with the juice. you can't wash that out. He brought the berries home to his wife and she made the most delicious pie!

He has a little vegetable patch with squash. Zucchini. Usually he gets way too many to use. They make a lot of ratatouilie. Also, a stew, a beef stew, but his wife says next time they should make a lamb stew. They dredge the meat in flour and mostly it's to give flavor. It's almost all vegetables. He hunts through the leaves and stalks and flowers to find one ripening squash. He gives it to me to make a ratatouille.

This year he's also growing beans. You're supposed to pick them when they're flat: then you put them in the vegetable stew and they're delicious. But not these ones: they're--he calls them pregnant--because the bean pods are so swollen with the beans inside. Now they'll have too many strings. Also he's growing white beans.

lunes, julio 25, 2005

SACRAMENTO, CALIFAS. Road trip, day ultimo.

We are nearing the end of our audiobook, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. We're really into it now.

I got grouchy driving Donner Pass, so we stop outside of Sacramento and change drivers.

We're hungry by the time we get to Sacramento, and L* decides its time to veer away from chain food and find something authentic. After much searching, we find a little hole in the wall grocery where they're making fresh tortillas. L* gets us 2 veggie burritos and ensalada de nopal. We're still eating in the car to keep the gatas safe and cool, so we drive around and fine a place in the shade. It's obscene how much we enjoy these burritos. Best burrito i ever ate! As L* says, "I'll happily trade ever chipotle's burrito I ever had."

domingo, julio 24, 2005

ELKO, NEVADA. Road Trip, Day 3

We are in Elko, Nevada, which my dear L* describes as "a whole lotta nothing."

We tried to have pizza and beer at the Pizza hut, and ended up with a choice between budweiser and bud light. <sigh>

Utah was scary, but we didn't really have to interact with people in Utah.

L* got to see the salt flats for the first time

We once again had to smuggle our girls into the hotel which was strictly "No Pets."

sábado, julio 23, 2005

LARAMIE, WYOMING. Road Trip, Day 2

Okay, Nebraska was just plain scary. I mean, i think Texas is scary, but there are Mexicans and Black people in Texas. Nebraska is just cornfields and scary white boys in trucks. It didn't help that I've been trying to figure out that scene in So Far from God: you know the one, where the two Santa Cruz Lesbians in th Volkswagon get chased by the guy in the truck?

Wyoming is pretty and looks like THE WEST at least. It's scary, too, of course, but still, prob'ly less so than the rest of Wyoming. I can' believe I let L* go off to WalMart by herself... <sigh!>

We've discovered a new product: Feliway, a pheromone for helping kitties mellow out. Ours are sleeping during the day (in the car) and bouncing off the walls at night. (the feliway doesn't help them in that way, but it makes them treat the hotel room and the car rather like home)

L* came back from walmart safe and sound, bearing new pj's for me, a new cooler to replace the one that was leaking, and catnip for the girls.

okay, i'm whupped. going to bed now.

A word to the wise: don't get off the highway based on the signs promising gas stations and subway sandwiches unless you can see the buildings from the road.

DES MOINES, IOWA, Road trip, Day One

We're on the road. Day one was Ohio-Illinois-Indiana-Iowa, and last night we slept in des moines

We chose all our hotels based on internet access, but it's a whole new world now: the truckstops and the rest areas all have WiFi

Yesterday was our longest day: today we push through to Laramie, Wyoming, and Sunday to Elko, Nevada.

We're sticking to Keta's driving plan of  two-hour shifts.

Our friend Rebecca made us a playlist for the road. We listened to the songs she chose as we crossed out of Ohio into Illinois. The Power of Two to Let the River Run to California Dreaming 

Most of the playlist is 1940s and 50's radio dramas, which have been a total hoot! We've listened to "A Pride of Carrots" and "Dwellers in Silence." Our motto has become STRENGTH TO ONIONS.

The trip has been smooth. We passed by Urbana-Champaign on the interstate and it was a lot smaller than we expected.

We've seen lots and lots of cornfields.

At one point I thought I saw skyscrapers in the distance, but they turned out to be corn silos.

sábado, julio 09, 2005

Black Bonnet Dream

Street Scene:

There's dozens and dozens of people (familia, Las Vegas, NM) who have turned out for this event: seems like a quinceañera or something like that). I'm sitting in row of people on one street (each street is like a different seating row--and it's an old dirt road). Somebody sends a child to get me, to ask me to bring my curandera stuff. So I take one small box with me and leave with the child.

Curandera stuff = rosaries, medals, holy cards, crystals, rings, herbs, statuettes...

Along the way, I see a young woman who looks exactly like my grandma lupe must have looked when she was really young. And she asks my name and tells me she has just changed her name to Katharine. (she says her name in English, although most of the dream is in Spanish)

She takes me off to her casita (or room in someone else's house) and is showing me her curandera stuff.

Then there's a big noise--maybe the church bell of the village ringing?--and I remember that I had been called to attend someone---

I leave the young woman (I think, she may also come with me) and rush toward the church, where there are crowds and crowds of people. (Like all the people who were previously sitting in the streets eating are now lined up for the church). And I get a little bit tangled with the lines of people and eventually make my way in and find the mother (grandmother) of the young woman whose quinceañera we're celebrating. She's the one who has sent for me. And I got sidetracked along the way and now I fear that I'm too late: that the young woman has died because I wasn't here.

Now it feels more like a receiving line : a wedding or a funeral, and its hard to tell the mood, so I don't really know which it is. And they're giving out something, like holy cards or ribbons or church fans, with something commemorated on them--and for a moment i'm confused that I'm supposed to pay for them, so i don't get one, but I'm trying to read them from where I'm at and I can't read the writing. Some is prob'ly in chinese, and other is in Spanish but in a fancy script.

I go to the family and I'm not actually talking that much, but it's like I'm trying to offer my condolences and apologize for having come too late, but trying not to say the wrong thing, or say too much. And they take me to the doorway where the line has been filing through, and I see a young woman in white dress who has collapsed upon the floor. And it's like people are paying their respects as they file through, and so i'm sure i have killed this young woman by getting sidetracked along the way.

I realize that the family is not mourning her death. They're happy because it seemed like she was going to die and then something happened: someone --another curandera? a bruja--intervened, so she's not dead, but she's not awake either: she's in some kind of stasis or coma or something.

But I also see that where her body is lying on the stone floor, there's a little trickle coming from her and pooling a small distance away, and it's a yellow fluid. At first I think it's urine, but then I realize that it's something else.

They want to find who the other woman (curandera, bruja) who intervened.

I take some of the memorial cards and ribbons that they've been giving out.

I don't know if other people see the pool of liquid and know what it means.

I wander off, first thinking about finding the other bruja, but then also realizing I've lost track of the familia I was with--Aunt Helen or someone--and so I want to go by her house to make sure everything is okay. (She actually ought to be here at the church with the young woman's familia, because she's a close member of the familia, but no one has seen her).

House Scene:

I go back to the house on Hot Springs, and I'm looking through the house and finding all these new passages and cubby holes and oubliettes and tower rooms, but I'm not finding what I'm looking for, and I'm getting more worried because I don't see her. And I find some other things, like other people's rosaries and holy medals. Maybe I take some.

I'm carrying this toddler: I don't know if I've been carrying it the whole time or not. But for some reason, I'm thinking that keeping the toddler with me will help me find my aunt.

I'm looking out the window. And it's a little like things have changed next door. I remember there being another old house next door, but now it's like a lot of four old houses, and they're crosswise to the house I'm in (i.e. perpindicular to the street the should be on, Hot springs.

There's something scary about these houses. Like someone lives in them or… their front yards have all gone to dirt … maybe someone is buried in the front yards. I'm searching the grounds, but I'm very nervous the whole time. There's a Anglo man on the grounds --he's scary, and he's carrying something, like an old scythe or sicle for cutting wheat or weeds or something, and of course that makes him more scary. And he asks me, which of the four houses it is that someone used to live in. and I don't want to tell him, because He's looking for what I"m looking for, and also I'm looking up a the four houses and I see a woman in a black coal-scuttle bonnet looking down on me. I can't make out any of her features or skin color or anything--just the black bonnet. And the upstairs I see her in is the house he's asking about, but I like and point to the second house instead and say "here."

And the man rushes to attack me, but I pull out my machete (no lie!) and fight him off.

I think I beat him, but I also lose consciousness.

I wake up back in the house. I've lost the toddler now, too!

There are other people in the house now (lots and lots of extended family members) and I'm asking one of the viejitas about the houses next door and also asking if she ever sees anything unusual in them (ghostly figures) and she points toward the house (the fourth?) and says yes she sometimes La Vieja Ines.

I'm looking out the window of the house on hot springs, and looking up a the upper levels and I think I see her. So I'm rushing up to the upper floors, and , they're all full of different people! The people are suddenly mostly African American, and there's lots of boys and young men who've just been showering, so of course they're startled that I'm there and are all scrambling all over the place. And I'm looking past them and also asking one of the viejas some questions, and I realize that La Vieja Ines is actually black-skinned. She's prob'ly from slavery times.