Your elevator pitch—tell me, she said. What’s your book about in a 3-4 sentence summation? I didn’t have an answer at the time, but this is what I’ve come up with so far:

Mine is a story of being the second of seven, each born within 9-years, and raised by an impervious single-mom. (That three-tent circus alone might be “worth the price of admission,” as my dear friend Nan would say.) I’ll also revisit the impact of my father’s compulsions, which resulted in unprecedented consequences by way of his genius, albeit deviant, manipulation. And I’ll explore faith vs. folly as they pertain to my mother’s independence, which was often at odds with her installation of the LDS church as patriarch by proxy of our home.

So this blog may be a forum for wordsmithing—pounding out, if you will—some of the memories that are trying to make their way into my book. On top of that, I might stomp in the puddles of parenting, wrestle in the reeds of politics, or sit on the dock musing over the inner-workings of the universe. Whatever I’m writing, this blog is my pond to play in, and you’re welcome to swing by for a friendly splash.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

1979, Cousins & Cobbler

On the east facing wall, cups and bowls tip sideways in the cabinets and are ready to spread a rainbow of mix-matched Tupperware durability across the cluttered, honey-comb tiled countertop at any given time.
On the opposite wall, legs of wiry spaghetti stand upright in the stock pot for a time, as a Mason jar of home-canned tomato sauce sprinkles the range. The percolator, the salt and pepper shakers, and an aluminum canister holding a generation of lard never leave their station; sending false promises of bacon into the air anytime the oven heats up.
And today, a sticky gravy of cinnamon and peaches licks past a lattice crust sending smoky saccharinity through the 800 square foot farm-style house.
Looking out the window above the sink, past the trinkets and the up-cycled jelly jar that holds an accidental collection of twist-ties and brightly colored plastic barrettes, her mind is busy but she doesn’t share what it’s busy with. 
And a cloud of black cherry Flavor-aid plumes as tap water hits the bottom of the pitcher.
It’s 4:00 and the sun is still hours away from setting. In exchange for a tidy kitchen tonight, she’ll offer a round of pop-bottles to the girls tomorrow, whether they want the job or not.
“Lala, come help Gramma set this table!” Aunt Lois calls into the yard. “Julie, Dawna, you too!” That's the adult table she's referring to. The one for all the aunts and Grandma. Whether here, or across the ally at his house, Uncle Danny takes his meals in front of the television, most often alternating between Grease, Alien, and a George Strait special which he plays on the Betamax.
“1, 2, 3…” we hear, all the way to 20. “Olly olly oxen free!” And then squeals emerge from hidden corners of the four-lot property.
My breath is damp as I hold my shirt over my mouth, still hiding behind the garage and the grape vines. And then the shouts, “Aaaahhhhh, don't catch me!” “Run, Nita! Run!” Followed by laughter. A brief argument ensues between the boys and the girls about what’s really “home base.” But it’s cut short by my grandmother's pronouncement, “Dinner!”
And with that, fifteen pairs of dirty bare feet pound toward the back door. Each jockeying for position in a single-file line that tends to break rank bulging three wide, here and there. A few tears are shed, as the less favored fall to the outer edges, and others claim someone’s butting.
Another six mouths are already at the “little kid table” on the back porch. Two tucked into old-style high chairs--the type with metal trays. The others are boosted up via an eclectic collection of a worn out Webster’s Dictionary, two sets of Yellow Pages, and a stack of last week’s subscription to the Sacramento Bee.
Within minutes, everyone is served and sets of best-friends have scattered around the yard. Some are on swings, others in the half-built tree-house. Some have even climbed on top of the chicken coop. My crew and I? We are the tame ones, sitting on the back stoop, gushing about boys, and hairstyles, and sleep-overs.
At nine, life is good, especially when you're living commune style for the summer. Because half a cup of noodles with a splash of color and a slice of toasted Wonder bread is enough when you’re with cousins. Especially when there's a promise of peach cobbler for dessert.

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