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Friday, February 02, 2007

The things they left behind.

As I ate oranges and popcorn for breakfast this morning I looked over in the corner and saw the excellent electric pencil sharpener my friend Lenny gave me almost 32 years ago in exchange for my illustrating his songbook. The sharpener still works as perfectly as it did when it was new, and it reminds me of him every time I use it. It also enchanted my kids, with the wonderful whirring it makes and the perfect points it produces, and now it enchants Menticia.

It got me wondering, what still remains in my life of the men who have passed through it? I guess you could call these my aides-mémoire.

  1. My grandfather Hodges: I have a Sony radio he gave me in 1971. It was top-of-the line then. Still works. Also, a wooden breadboard, inscribed with a French saying carved in blackletter, from his Canadian mother.

  2. My dad's father: a dark green corduroy pillow with tucks-and-gathers. He and my grandmother had this design (I have the original McCalls pattern they used, too!!) and my aunt Marian told me the two of them used to sit on the floor together ruching up these pillows. I'm going to try this myself one of these days.

  3. My dad: a bat-house he made me, with the plans included in case I wanted to make another; a box of wooden Q-tip sticks (from back when Q-tips had wooden shafts) - we built a huge geodesic dome out of these sticks and there are still 1,000s left; the knife he cut our Sunday roasts with (he sharpened it till there was almost nothing left, but it still works); a little gizmo for bending coat hangers into artwork or whatever.

  4. My first college boyfriend: a 6-page typed treatise on the proper uses of "giving five," with photographic illustrations; a cd of his opera "Green Eggs and Ham;" a tendency to sob any time I hear Rachmaninoff's Variations on a Theme by Paganini.

  5. My second college boyfriend: rug-burn scars on the backs of my wrists.

  6. My husband: a copying machine, now 24 years old and still functioning (sort of); two children.

  7. The bass player: my favorite Imperial-size mug, with fish on it; a violin/viola hanger I can attach to my mic stand. He gave me a toaster, too, but it broke.

  8. My Belgian buddy: a cassette I made while he instructed me in the correct way to pronounce French (I had to learn 3 hours of French songs in a hurry). "Make that sound with lips like you're kissing," he suggested.

  9. The guy from Vermont on whom I had an unrequited crush: a great recipe for Szechuan chicken and noodles; a costume I made for the Mardi Gras night we went dancing to the music of Rosie Ledet's Cajun band.

  10. The surly Georgian I sort of dated for a while: a book of his good, but surly, poetry.

  11. The guy I'd have married if he hadn't moved to Georgia: two wonderful huge heavy flannel shirts; about 20 packages of Cajun chicken ramen he mailed to me from Atlanta (you can't get that kind here in Chapel Hill); a container of popcorn salt I am hoarding because I don't want to use it up, I like having it on my shelf. Also, a liking for having the bed made.

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At 10:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an intriguing list. I'll have to do an inventory of my own sometime. Just offhand, I have black leather gloves and a little ceramic bear toothpickholder that mt dad brought back from one of his annual hunting trips , and my mother gave me his favorite blue plaid Woolrich jacket after he died. [Sometimes , I hang it on the back of a diningroom chair like he used to do when he visited.] From Hub, too many things to ever count. From the boy who broke my heart, a few photos .[ The silver bracelet he gave me and his love letters were stolen years ago when our house was burgarized.] That's the short list.~~~Susanlynn

At 10:50 AM, Blogger melinama said...

Thanks, Susanlynn. After I wrote this I thought of a couple more. I have my dad's great heavy iron vise. One of my favorite cds, called "Shut Yo' Mouth," was left behind by the bassplayer. I hope I hear from some other folks some time...

At 12:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a fun post! You think of the cleverest things to write about. How did you get rug burns on the BACKS of your wrists? Oh wait...OK, never mind.

I'm not much of a saver so I don't think I have many tangible memories like you have, but on an obscurely-related subject, thanks to Google I have been located by 5 long lost boyfriends so far. Some have even come to visit me; my current boyfriend (of 18 yrs.) is very patient. He can't remember their names so he calls them things like The Surfer, The Rugby Player, The Nerd, The Teepee Guy, Your First.

At 2:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ROFLMAO---Love those names!!! Your honey must be a very good guy. The only thing I've ever heard Hub call one of my old beaus [whom I was dating when Hub and I met ] is I-HATE-THAT-GUY. After all these years,,,he still hates that guy. ~~~Susanlynn, loving learning about Mel and Sylvia and being pushed off the computer so that Hub can do the d***taxes...geeesh

At 8:43 AM, Blogger Hannah said...

I have a lot of trouble getting rid of gifts because I remember exactly where and when I got everything I own.

Melina's gifts from the departed (of all genders):

Father's Grandfather: A stuffed animal - a pink cat named "Felicity" - that he gave me when my little brother was born.

Father's Grandmother: recipe for Viennese Sacher Torte

Mother's Grandmother: Two china animals, a bunny rabbit and a fawn, that my mother stole off the shelf and gave to me before the estate sale that took place when her grandmother died; a slightly scary doll from the early 1900s with a splintered and cracked china face; the money that got me through college without debt; my status as a potential member of the Daughters of the American Revolution

Mother's Father: Newt Gingrich's book; several copies of "The Limbaugh Letter" from the late '90s; a mousetrap-powered car, with wooden wheels, which I used in physics class (he was an engineer but the car didn't work very well)

Mother's Mother: a fitted orange shirt with vertical stripes that I wore until it dissolved; family predisposition toward insanity

Mother's Aunt: Set of watercolor paints and beautiful watercolor paper that I use to this day; enjoyment of going to the beach in the winter

High school boyfriend: an entire three-ring binder (4" spine) full of emails that we sent each other when I was supposed to be doing my homework (most to the effect of "YES, I really like you, I said that yesterday. Do you really like me?") ; a guilty fondness for Burger King's Hershey's Sunday Pies

College Boyfriend #1: a musical arrangement of Queen's Fat Bottomed Girls for marching band, which we wrote together; a copy of Jim Henson's movie Labyrinth; a couple of fiction stories that I hope nobody ever, ever finds

College Boyfriend #2: A lost $1000 from a broken lease; a necklace and a matching pair of earrings; a permanent hatred of football (before him it was merely indifference)

Friend from Summer 2006: A couple of excellent songs (contemporary musical theater)
Friend from Summer 2006: A couple of excellent songs (blues/jazz piano)
Friend from Summer 2006: A couple of excellent songs (Israeli neo-folk)
Friend from Summer 2006: A t-shirt with a picture of two unicorns mating under a rainbow

You never know what will turn up next, eh?

At 5:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The mousetrap powered car sounds unique and interesting. What a cool gift. I enjoyed your list very much.

At 3:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW! I have been looking for the pattern to make those corduroy pillows that are tucked and pleated. My Mother used to make them and she had me help her. She is passed on now and I don't recall exactly how to do it. Would you be willing to share your pattern? Not the original, of course. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks. Nancy


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