Sunday, January 30, 2011


Grab your coat and get your hat.
Leave your worry on the doorstep...

It's never been my favorite song but it was playing and Tyrell was singing when I started the car.  Colleen and I had just left our evening of jazz with Mark's sax still ringing in our ears.  He made us want for more!  We had a half hour drive so we listened.

"We live there you know," she said out of the blue as the song was ending.

Hmm...I'm thinking, halfway down Central Expressway.  What, dear Mom, are you talking about?

"We live there.  You and me.  On the sunny side of the street."

There it was.  I should have seen it coming.  My mom, always positive, always seeing the good.

Always telling the truth.

"I'm trying to see, Mom," I whispered to her today, as I sat outside where together we'd watch the doves so gracefully float down for their dinner.  "I'm trying."

You see, she passed away yesterday.  January 29th.  Her birthday.

This rover, crossed over...

On The Sunny Side Of The Street
J. McHugh and D. Fields

Friday, January 28, 2011

my new style

"I've become my dad," I said to Kevin just after we retired a few years ago. 

It was round about midnight and I was putting on some music.  I could.  I no longer had to be anywhere at 8:00 am.  Eight was now the hour I might begin to wake, only to turn the pillow over looking for a cool, smooth, spot.

So, I put on Miles.  Just like my dad used to do.  As a teenager, many nights at midnight, I'd yell down the stair rail "Daddy, could you turn it down?  I have school tomorrow!"  He'd apologize and the apartment would get quieter for awhile before the music would start up again.

"I've become my dad," I said again to Kevin the other day. 

I am wearing my father's clothes. 

I have some shirts.  Two weeks before he passed away, we talked about the striped, Oxford, button down.  It was in the clean laundry load I was hanging up, and I told him I thought the shirt had reached that perfect stage; it still had body but the cotton was worn to incredible softness.  You wanted to touch it. 

He threw in that it was also the perfect size stripe; not too wide, not too thin.  Classic.  That was my dad. 

The shirts were an afterthought.  When he died, there were only two things I really wanted; his music collection and his black cashmere sweater.

Every man should have a cashmere sweater, he would tell me.  Well, I say, every daughter should have her father's cashmere sweater. 

Tonight we're celebrating my mother's 85th birthday, gathering with friends at a local wine bar to listen to a great jazz quartet.  My dad would want it that way.   

I'm going to wear the luxurious, black sweater even if it hangs to my fanny.  An unnecessary assurance that he's there with me.

It will be a soft hug that lasts all night long.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

Friday, January 21, 2011

just me and my blog

I've lost my voice.

The voice that squeals when our season tickets to the Dallas Opera arrive in the mail. 

The voice that squeals just as loudly when my chef's knife, once again, slices right through a ripe tomato because Spoke has surprised me and sharpened it on the sly. 

I've lost my other voice too.  The private one I share in this public space. 


I know it will wane and one day soon I will wake up and want to rush to tell you about something.  And it will be blithesome!

But this week I'm, brokenhearted and sick, doing other things.

Spoke and I inherited my dad's new compact refrigerator.  The whole family had given it to him for his birthday.  He loved it.  It has a small freezer slot which he very quickly had planned to keep filled with gelato. 

I emptied our kitchen refrigerator of all those things I need to keep but don't use regularly; cornmeal and dried cranberries.  Several jars of peppers; roasted red ones, hot banana rings, and peperoncini.  Yeast.  Jars of anchovies and pickle relish...

It is amazing what it did for our fridge.  There's open space now.  Open space so oddly reminding me of the wide, flat fields across from the hospital. There was a spacious, brilliant red sunset one afternoon which my dad couldn't see from the bed.

It looks strangely in order too.  I can reach right in for all the important things like eggs and champagne.  I'm drinking a lot of it this week.  Someone told me it's good for nursing nasty colds. 

And check out all that butter.  I've mastered scones!  Guess who's happy?  Yes, he sharpens my knives and I make him yummy scones; plain, raisin, cheese...  Because they're sweet, I'm considering a black pepper version or even cayenne.  

When I do, you'll be the first to know.  I'll post the recipe on this blog of mine.  I'll take some pictures, maybe of peppery scones with jam because the jam will make you want to eat them.

I love my blog.  I love my blog because it's here for me, waiting.  I love my blog because it's just the two of us.  No editors.  No deadlines. 

Just me and my blog.

And you.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

remembering rigoletto

I had pictured my final days with my dad. 

I knew they'd likely be in a hospital.  I saw myself spending hours at his bedside, reading perhaps, but attending to his every need.  Maybe we'd listen to some opera.  It might calm him. 

It wasn't like that at all. 

He slept a lot.  He'd wake and give a quick wave or on good days would say he loved me but he just had to go to sleep.

He would come and go, come and go. 

I wanted to go!  Go, go, go, go, go, go, go... 

I wanted to go to Russo's and warm my wet cheeks by the oven, mindlessly watching Gonzalo make pizzas and calzones. 

Or go home and pull up the covers.  I'd sink as far down into the down as I possibly could and not come up till spring.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

when i'm worried

Sometimes I just sit here.

I like it here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

on the 7th day

"It's all in the timing," Kevin says.

The guy should know.  He throws out some zingers.

He tosses them quietly.  Sometimes so quietly that I'm the only one who hears.  I laugh; a spontaneous cackle, and suddenly we're the two sharing a joke.  Then everyone wants in on it, but as much as the line may bear repeating, that priceless moment has passed. 

It was with great timing that on The 7th Day of Christmas, I gave my friend a bag of coal.  Just when she least expected it.

Years ago, Beth and I would house-sit each other's pets when the other was out of town.  One year I left small gifts for her to open; one each day while I was gone.  Thirty years later and she still talks about it! 

So this year I decided to send Beth off on her Christmas vacation with presents; one to open each day of The Twelve Days of Christmas; Christmas Day to the Epiphany. 

I wrapped, I gift-bagged, finally fitting them all into one large shopping bag so Jack couldn't complain about squeezing them in the already-fully-packed van and carting them halfway across the country.  (Jack, Beth's husband, is a teddy bear of a guy and one of my favorite people. I don't get to see enough of him anymore.  You hear that, Jack?)

But how to wrap the lumps of coal?  I couldn't decide.

I considered putting them in one of these pretty fabric bags... 

Or disguising them in a wine tote...

"Just give her a bag of coal," Spoke says. 


Into a plain, brown paper bag the coal went.  Then there we were, Kevin and I; two hanging out in their kitchen, sharing the joke yet to come. 

On The 7th Day of Christmas, I gave my friend a bag of coal.

Here, days after, she's still my friend.