“Ever been to Jiufen?” I asked Mom.
“You should go! It has a nice view of the sea. It’s supposed to be the city that inspired Spirited Away. And they have the best gweh I’ve ever tasted - your favorite, with taro and the green one with radish or whatever the chewy stuff is.”
She looked skeptical. “How did you get there? You don’t speak the language.”
Two orange tabby brothers followed us home in December. They lived with us for five weeks, snuggling, wrestling, running around like madmen and punching each other in the face, until their owners saw our “found” signs (which had been posted in front of their house for weeks).
Chupa misses them a ton. They shredded furniture, ate my expensive paintbrushes, pawed wet paintings and shoved my brush around whenever I painted, but they were cute and soft fuzzballs.
Several years ago, Mom and I visited Japan during cherry blossom season. While there, Mom found out that her mom had cancer and was awaiting surgery in the hospital.
That night, Mom lay on the bed in our room at the ryokan. “Emmie, my mom is sick . . . what if I lose her?” she asked.
I tried to think of something kind and comforting to say.“Well, she is 86,” I said.
In Kansas, my parents liked to save energy by minimizing heat usage during the winter. We wore parkas around the house. If you poured yourself a cup of water, it was icy cold a while later.
On December 13th, our Norwegian teacher (who also loved gnomes) selected a girl in our second grade class to be Santa Lucia. She dressed Kerry in a white gown and arranged a candlelit wreath on her head. We gathered around and sang "Santa Lucia" as Kerry walked down the school hallway carrying Christmas cookies for the other classrooms. I liked the visual.
In grade school, I tried to figure out how women got pregnant.
I told Petra my theory one afternoon, when we had ventured upstairs to our parent’s room. We weren’t allowed there, but went occasionally anyway. I liked to bring a book because it was sunny and warm in winter, and light bounced off the yellow walls.
“I think that when the man puts the ring on the woman’s finger, there are chemicals in the ring that go into her body, and signify that she’s married, and then she becomes pregnant. But . . . some couples are married and they don’t have children . . . ”
“Emmie,” Petra said impatiently, “Dad put his penis into Mom’s vagina, and that’s how babies are made.”She turned her back and headed downstairs.
"May I?" Mom asked impishly. She plucked the stick of butter off the table and smashed/spread it directly onto her toast like she was crushing ants and shoveling a sidewalk at the same time.
"No!" I said.
"But . . . this way . . . I don't waste . . . " she protested.
Open butter sticks in the fridge were always studded with wheat toast crumbs, but this was the first time I'd seen her in action. It took me a while to realize that she meant to save water by not washing a knife.