Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Gathering stories on 57 Street

It was a pleasure to be involved in Elana Langer's project "Lab test at the Self Explanatorium"
I will add stories that I gathered through this experience as well images very soon.

Monday, June 2, 2014

My Writing Process' Blog Tour

Anne Flournoy, the wonderful writer, director & producer of The Louise Log web series invited me to be part of an on going blog tour. The idea being that each selected blogger introduce in turn three new bloggers as well as respond to four specific questions. I am very sorry to say that I can not fulfill the most important aspect of this project, that is to  present  to you three new bloggers. When asked by Anne I was immediately thinking of several people. A wondrous Bee Keeper, a world renowned author and couple therapist, a photographer that maintains a delectable last wish food blog and an artist who seems to want to box everything in; I am sure your are intrigued by now and yet, I can not reveal their names as they are so busy traveling the world, getting ready for a talk show, gathering honey and looking for new object to be boxed in, to participate. I then reached out to my friends to gather some blog recommendations and in the process discovered some interesting new writers yet I have received no response to my query so as it is now the day of my deadline all I can do is answer the following questions.   

What am I working on?

At this point I am further developing a performance based project titled "What’s my Worth?" an ongoing project that began as a reaction to the 2008 economic downturn. I keep track of my spending and savings in a journal, bringing into view the relationship of financial gain and identity, especially as an artist and a mother. This lead to a performance that addresses the questions: What is the value of our work? What are the costs of the choices that we must make? Which projects are viable and what it is all worth to us? What effect do our choices have on our environment?
I am also developing Matière Première” a series of sculptures created from remains of my work as a mother, including being a gardener and a laundress.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My blogs are an integral component of the remains of participatory performances and art projects that I have been conducting for the last few years. Either blog would be included as part of exhibitions featuring either project; “My Favorite Grandmother” or “Let’s Take a Walk”.

Why do I write what I do?

In the case of “My Favorite Grandmother,” I blog so as to convey all the stories that people have shared with me about their Favorite Grandmother. In “Let’s take a walk” I give a compte rendu of each of the 34 Twitter guided walk performances I conducted since 2009; both are text and images based. Aside from my blog, I write texts and monologues for my performances.

How does your writing process work?

My installation and performances includes text as well as a variety of media 
although I often work on  several projects and spend large amounts

of time developing ideas and in the creation of installations and sculptures. My writing has a very spontaneous element to it. Often ideas are formed through movements or during walks in the neighborhood; I jot down thoughts and sometimes send my self e-mails with a word or a sentence that is then included in stories in progress. I also use “note to self”, a recording app that allows me to “jot down” sound, tunes and sentences that are flittingly  going though my mind. My work has a strong element of public participation, story telling, sharing and appropriation; texts are formed from those exchanges. A fair amount of rewrites take place during rehearsals and as most of my performances are presented in several occasions they are in fact work in progress that have this process the chance to flesh out.

Marie Christine

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Marie by Marie Christine

My Grandmother Marie’s Stories
My favorite grandmother, Marie, was bedridden due to rheumatism. I often would climb up the stairs to the third floor apartment, we lived on the second floor of our house, and on the ground floor there was a café run by my parents. The house was a typical Swiss wooden cottage. Every steps marked by a cricking sound. Every hours marked by the sound of the clock. Lying beside Grand Maman Marie I would keep her company and be regaled by her stories. The two that I clearly remember are:
A woman and a man, they loved each other’s, they had no children. The man spent more and more time at the café drinking with his friends. The woman asked him that every time he came home late due to his drinking habit, he would have to give her a tenth of what he had spend that night at the café. Several years later they found themselves in a dire financial crisis, the woman pulled out a box from inside her closet, opened it to reveal all the monies that her husband after each outing had given her throughout the years.
During the war her young women friends and herself could not find, let alone afford to buy, the stocking that were so fashionable at the time. So they simply drew a line on the back of their legs.

And she always talked about the beautiful English Ladies who came to hike/vacation in our village smelling of soaps and perfume.

I'll Draw a Line, a performance/installation project was inspired by the above stories.To see images go to I'll Draw a Line 

Knitting... I need you at Figment Art Festival

Thank you so much for the wonderful stories and your participation in my project Knitting...I need you
that took place as part of the Figment Art Event on Governors Island.
I offered visitors some basic knitting lessons… Together we knitted and exchanged stories. 

At various moments throughout the days I performed shorts monologues, stories by themselves yet part of a complete tale...within each of the monologues I inserted elements of stories told to me by previous participants while unraveling the knitted elements, winding them up the trees in a pattern such as  climbing vines of morning glory does, twirling around the branches, hanging down, in a web like structure.

Sunday morning on the Ferry to Governors Island


Photo by Alisa J Liu
Friends knitting together

Monday, May 14, 2012

Valentina by Simone

This week end I had the chance to see the work of Simone Marinetto in his studio at ISCP
Here is one of his project, the story of Valentina, his grandmother. 
                               What would we be without our past?
How would our thoughts develop without any link to the previous ones?

                                   WITHOUT MEMORY 
by Simone Martinetto 

This is the story of Valentina, of her memory problems and of the thousand paper sheets scattered in her house.
Valentina lost her memory. The reason is unclear even to doctors: they believe it to be linked to her frequent taking of tranquillizers and to a nervous breakdown treated with electroshock.
Valentina's daughter loves her and refuses the fact that her mother does not remember events and persons for more than two minutes; most of all, Valentina's daughter cannot accept there are days when Valentina does not recognize her and mistakes her for her own mother.
Valentina goes out alone only to take a walk or to go to the parish church. She has a note with her name and address on it stapled in the pocket of her jackets.

Valentina is my grandmother and, although she does not remember my name, I love to hug her. Sometimes I take my guitar and play and she walks after me whistling and singing, following her great musical instinct.

Simone Martinetto was born 1980, Turin, Italy his practice consists of photography and installations. His work is an investigation on the
importance of memory, freedom, coincidences and dreams. 
Martinetto has created a new form of narrative, using an original photographiclanguage to tell small stories with symbolic meanings.
Using photography as a tool to examine the minds of others.
He began to practice photography when his grandfather, shortly before his death, passed on to him the camera he bought on the occasion of his birth. Martinetto works as an artist, cinematic still photographer and teacher. www.simonemartinetto.com

Monday, November 7, 2011

She is keeping the 99% warm

Yesterday two of my on going project, Let's take a walk & My favorite Grandmother converged into one.
At the end of Let's take a walk #24, a friend who happen to be very familiar with Zuccotti Park, led me to
the knitting grandmother, Everyday for the last 39 days Marsha has been knitting for Occupy Wall Street. With the weather turning colder the people living in the park will be very happy to wear her knitted gloves, hats and leg warmers.
Marsha's grandmother taught her to knit, now she is teaching her craft to her 16 year old granddaughter as well as to the people in the OWS. Inspiring. Donation of yarn welcome. You know where to find her.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Camp Omi The children's stories

During my residency at Art Omi I had the opportunity to meet and work for a day with the children of Camp Omi
I told the children one of the many stories of my grand mother, then I invited the children to draw and write a story about or from their grand mother. Some were very eager to share and perform the tale they had written and so an impromptu show and tell took place. Some children chose to give me their drawings as a thank you gift.

Some children worked on their stories...

.... others took a break

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lola's images by June

Here are some pictures with my grandmother, one in terno
the second she's in casual wear, good for the tropics, sitting next to her father, who is center front. He scared me! very strict lines, I had to take his hand and put it to my forehead whenever greeting him, oh my god that white hair and cane, never a smile .. anyway, she's fourth from right, front row, and my grandfather is far right, in front - you can see all his Chinese heritage, he's a Limjoco. The Lejano had more of the Spanish in them. (my great-grandfather, by the way, was addressed by the honorific, "Lolo To`od", accent on the first syllable).
The third is a portrait pic of my mom's family, again Lola in terno ~ and my mom's standing by my grandfather, second from right, sitting in back row.
Lastly, a photo taken on the grounds of their compound where we spent our early years (as is the second photo) - Jean's on my dad's lap, left front, I'm by my grandfather who I think is trying to amuse me, he's got his hand over my face. Some of the extended family we grew up with, my grandmother is in front by Lolo, again in that type of informal dress that kept the women cool.They were really grand, sort of an inlaid-mosaic tile .. my mom and dad are on the bottom far right, Jean and I are front center, my grandfather far left in front holding the first boy born after Jean (we had 4 brothers born after us, then a last girl born here in the US), Richard. Lolo To`od is of course approximately in the center, with Lola standing beside him, smiling broadly.

Lola by June

My grandmother, whom we called Lola (her married name was Felisa Limjoco) was a regal presence who was somewhat remote but loving nontheless. She and her family had survived the Japanese Occupation of WWII in Manila, but she came out of it with her dignity intact. And it was a brutal, relentlessly dire occupation. How they all suffered.  Often I'd see Lola far away (across the garden, or leaving the house going down our front, grand (outside) stairs to a waiting car, dressed in the traditional "terno" with the butterfly wings at the top of the arms, a style we'd inherited from the Spaniards, who'd occupied us previously. She was so smart, and so compassionate. If someone was crying or in trouble she intervened, but always with a minimum of fuss. Everyone counted on her, and she never forgot to send you Christmas or birthday cards. So you knew. When she died I was in the second grade, and had been picked up by the family chauffeur per usual and we were going down the wide, stately street in front of the Malacanang Palace when the driver quietly (and casually, although he must have been instructed to do so) informed me that Lola had died. The Pasig River was flowing to my left, flowing on, lily pads beautiful as always, but the sun tilted. I had no way to receive this information, so said nothing. The funeral was at my mother's hometown of Lian, a few hours away by the China Sea. You drove up a long highway lined with coconut trees on either side (I dream of this many times); get to Tagaytay - a mostly extinct volcano, where people live in the caldera below - and make a right. Winding down, you begin to pass cane fields, and within an hour you've arrived at a very small town with a cane refinery, ice plant (which my grandfather owned), bank, and of course Spanish cathedral. Lian is very close to the China Sea, where we swam much more than we did in the ocean around Manila. People walked to the cemetery and there were a lot of them, holding up umbrellas and kerchiefs over their mouths because it was so dusty. There was no road per se - just a small path through the cane, but us kids got to ride in a car through it anyway. No matter what I did, I couldn't breathe. The dust was so thick it seemed to be almost living, and I became somewhat afraid. That seemed to sum up, really, how I felt about the reality of my grandmother's death. It took everyone's real breath away, there was no more coolness, just an oppressive sense that we had lost the only thing that made sense after this chaotic, completely mindless conflict that had engulfed everyone and that somehow I had been born out of. How I miss her. I try to be as wise and kind as I imagine she'd be, but those are big shoes to fill, for I'm always still looking up to her. I'm convinced that when I die, she will be there to explain everything and gently lead me on. I told my mother that the year before she passed away and she didn't say much, but I know she heard me. Maybe she'll be there too.

June is on of the member of The Fanny and the co founder of IMA

A grandmother struggle with divorce

A very interesting article on the not often talked about effect of divorce on the divorcees's parents by Marsha Temlock on the Huffington Post

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

For Graciella to feel better

Thank you so much for passing on your Grand mothers suggestions on how to feel better.

Ma grand-mère me disait de prendre du citron et du miel dans du thé bien chaud...
Chicken soup, tea with lemon and honey & love.
One Grandmother wisdom’ trick I know is to start your day hydrated. Give your body enough water...
For a cold, a steam shower or a turkish bath.
Stay in bed with your lover...
Watching a movie, something light and very funny.
A massage.
Gargling with sea salt.
Dress up well and go for a walk in the park.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Grandmothers' get well recipes...

Having the flu the whole week made me think of the remedies my two grandmothers concocted. Most often it involved either vinegar or shnapps. Have you inherited any feel better recipes? would you
share them, so many of us need it right now...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The US History & your Ancestors

A fantastic look at the US history in connection to past generations and your family history.
Brian Lehrer interviews Kevin Baker, the author of America The Story of US

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gloria & Annie

An extraordinary story of Gloria a woman whose journey through life took some unexpected turns.
As Annie she was the Grandmother of the Fulton Fish Market
A wonderful story published in the New York Times by Dan Barry

Friday, October 8, 2010

Despicable child and a grandmother who...

This is connecting the dotes between My Favorite Grandmother and My Favorite Child.
cannabis has turned my darling son into a despicable thief who steals from his granny: Mother tells how 'harmless' drug tore family apart

Ayaan Hirsi Ali took her ''Dutch mother'' -- the woman who taught her the language and cared for her after she arrived in the Netherlands as a refugee in 1992 -- to lunch at the Dudok brasserie, near the Parliament in The Hague. As always, Hirsi Ali's armed security detail was there. They have been her companions since she started receiving death threats in September 2002. Hirsi Ali, who was born in Somalia and has been a member of the Dutch Parliament since January 2003
Hirsi Ali's mother -- the second of the two wives Hirsi Magan had at the time -- was illiterate but wielded domestic clout. Women had certain narrowly defined areas of power. It was Hirsi Ali's grandmother who managed, following regional custom, to have Hirsi Ali and her sister ritually ''circumcised'' at age 5, against the wishes (and without the knowledge) of Hirsi Magan. From age 6, Hirsi Ali and her siblings shared their father's political exile, in Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia and then, for 10 years, in Kenya. In the course of her travels, Hirsi Ali learned five languages: Somali, Arabic, Amharic, Swahili and English, which she speaks in a lilting accent picked up from the Indian teachers who taught her at the Muslim Girls' Secondary School on Park Road in Nairobi.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Grand Ma knows best...

From Joe Bastianich' grandmother

We have three hives. My son, Miles, had severe allergies, and my grandmother said if you eat local honey, it will make you immune to local allergies. It kind of works.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Galli Siro, by Yolanda

Mon grand père Galli Siro me disait que si j’avais faim je pouvais prendre une pomme du jardin des riches, mais jamais du jardin des pauvres; car une personne riche ne seras pas deprivée si il lui manque une pomme, par contre le pauvre, lui, il la manqueras sa pomme volée.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Nani, by Alka

My grandmother, who we called, Nani, was a major influence in my childhood. My Nani lived with us, and with my working professional parents away all day, she directed our household - menu, staff, and us kids like a master conductor. Nani always had the perfect remedy for all my ailments. Warm oatmeal porridge with butter salt and pepper (bhat) for a fever, and hot brandy and a spoonful of honey before bedtime for a bad cold and sore throat.

Now, decades later, I think of her lovingly stirring her concoction on the stovetop whenever I have a cold and zap my mixture in the microwave.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lilian première rencontre avec Elisabeth

En 1939, j’avais 5 ans, mes parents devaient partir en ville pour trouver du travail. Un jour, ma mère me dit : ‘’ on va rencontrer ta grand maman ’’. Je ne la connaissais pas. Nous avons marché jusqu’à la gare, nous sommes arrivées juste au moment où un train sifflait son arrivée. Une grande dame (elle me paraissait grande à ce moment là),toute vêtue de noir apparu à la porte, elle nous invita à monter, une fois dans le train, ma mère me dit : ‘’attends un moment avec ta grand-maman, je vais vite te chercher la poupée que tu voulais tellement et je reviens…’’ Quelques instants et de gros soupirs passent. Le train s’ébranle, il commence à partir. Je crie “MAMAN”, mais elle ne vient pas. Alors ma grand mère Elisabeth m’explique qu’elle va m’emmener chez elle, que j’allais aimer, que nous serons dans une ferme, il y aura des animaux… Je n’entends plus rien et je pleure, je pleure pendant des heures.
Arrivées à Madiswil, après une longue marche nous arrivons à la ferme, je suis inconsolable, Elisabeth me nourrit, je repousse l’assiette encore en pleurs. Plus tard lorsque je suis au lit ma grand-maman dépose un petit panier a mes côtés, un panier plein de petits poussins, j’esquisse un premier sourire, quelques larmes encore, mais un sourire.
Je suis restée avec celle qui est devenue ma grand-mère préférée pendant presque six ans.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Georgie Price Heatwole Schaff (Granny) & William Douglas Schaff (Pie) By Suzie

I grew up in Michigan and after high school graduation we relocated to Pennsylvania where my grandparents, Georgie and Bill Schaff, lived. We called them Granny and Pie. Soon after the move, they took me to see their childhood homes.We drove to Virginia in their powder blue Cadillac – the only car that would be big enough to house my grandfather’s 6’3” frame, and strong enough to protect his precious cargo: my 5 foot tall grandmother.
We stopped at a local restaurant for REAL Virginia ham, evidently, also part of my heritage. Sitting there, chatting about the people and places we'd seen that day, flavored with stories of times long past, suddenly my grandfather stood up and walked around the table to my grandmother. He leaned his towering frame over her, cradled her face in his hand, and planted a big ole kiss on her face.
"You are so beautiful! I just couldn't sit across from you one more minute!"
On the way home it started to rain and Pie asked me to drive. I was so honored to be trusted and given the care of his most prized cargo, my grandmother.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Augusta Johnson by Wayne R. Johnson This story was introduced to me by Augusta’s grand son Robb Johnson

It happened in late summer, probably in 1886, her first year on the plains.
It was midafternoon. Augusta was baking bread. Her husband, John, had hitched the team to the wagon and gone into town. Augusta's two youngest babies were napping. The eldest, Aaron, was somewhere in the sod house, toddling about. Suddenly Augusta's scalp prickled. Her stomach knotted. Aaron! Where was Aaron? She looked for him. He was right there, behind her. He was looking at the doorway.
In the doorway stood an Indian. He was rather tall, lean, and almost naked. His hair was long, loose, blowing in the wind, sweeping his shoulders. It was stringy hair, matted with dirt and dried blood. There was dirt and dried blood allover his arms, chest, ribs and legs. Scrapes and deep scratches were clotted, starting to scab.
The Indian stepped through the doorway. He indicated, without speaking, that he was hungry. His squinting black eyes were hot with little fires.A savage. He had to be pacified.
Struggling to control her paralyzing fear, Augusta turned to the table, where loaves of bread were cooling. She tried to cut a slice of bread. The knife would not work. She was trembling too much. And the bread was too fresh to cut. She tore off a chunk, started to hand it to the Indian, then threw it. The Indian caught it, crammed it into his mouth, and gestured for more. While chewing the bread, some of the nervous tension seemed to leave him. He squatted on his heels, near the doorway, with his back to the wall, waiting for more bread.
The familiar domestic act of wielding the knife against the bread had helped Augusta. Her mind began to work again. Here was a hungry man. Nothing but a hungry man, she told herself. What did she have on hand, to fix quickly for a hungr man? Eggs. She put the skillet on the hot stove and fried three eggs.
As she worked, she kept glancing at the Indian. His eyes were fixed on Aaron, who was clinging to her skirt. Did the Indian want Aaron? Her fear rose again. She picked up the baby and propped him on her hip while she worked. She would be dead before the Indian·got his hands on Aaron. But maybe if she fed the Indian well, he would be happy, maybe he would not take Aaron.
Augusta dumped the eggs on a plate, added a chunk of fresh bread, and gave the plate with a fork to the Indian. Disdaining the fork, the Indian disposed of the eggs and the bread in a few gulps and wanted more. He ate all the eggs she had in the house, and also a loaf of bread.
Hunger appeased, the Indian came out of his squat. He stretched, stood tall and straight. He stepped toward Augusta and slowly extended his right hand. Paralysis again gripped her. This was it. Now the Indian was going to take Aaron. She watched the Indian's hand coming. It was a filthy hand, stained with grease and egg yolk as well as with soil and old blood.
Aaron's hair was baby-fair and typically Scandanavian, softly shining. The Indian put his hand on the hair. Then he turned quickly and was gone.
By the time Augusta recovered and went to the doorway to look, the Indian was passing out of sight, over the low rise west of the house. He was running northwestward, in a beeline toward plum Creek canyon.
When John came home and was told about the Indian, he stripped the harness from one of his horses, mounted bare-back and went galloping to alert the neighbors. A posse was assembled immediately, but the fall of night soon ended the search.
For several days afterward, the men carried guns as they worked in the fields, and there was a lot of talk about Indians. Augusta thought her guest had been in a fight, but no one had heard of any Indian fights anywhere in the region, and all of the Indians were supposed to be safely policed on reservations. It was decided that Augusta's Indian had strayed from a reservation and had become the victim of an accident of some kind. Perhaps he had been riding in the canyons. Perhaps his horse had fallen with him, down a canyon bank. Such a thing might account for all the bloody scrapes and scratches. Thus the men talked themselves back into complacency. They soon stopped carrying guns.
Sometime during the following year, John looked up from his plowing one day and saw a strange procession on the trail: Three horses, evenly spaced, coming in file, from the west, from the direction of Plum Creek canyon. Three horses, five riders. Indians.
John unhitched, took his team to the house and unharnessed, all the while gauging the slow approach of the Indians. What were they up to? vJherewere they headed? They reached the corner and turned south, on the road that led to John's driveway. Should he get a gun? No, one Indian brave, accompanied by two squaws and two small children, could not be very hostile.
The brave rode in the lead. Trailing him were the squaws, one young, the other rather old. Behind each squaw, a child rode. It looked like a family outing, Ma, Pa, Grandma and the two kids.
The procession came straight to the house and stopped. John stood his ground. The brave looked at him but said nothing. Augusta stood in the doorway of the house, with Aaron on her hip.
The rave was clad in white man's clothing: trousers, a suit coat and a felt hat. The squaws, wrapped in blankets, grinned. The little Indians were somber.
The brave dismounted, untied the saddle strings that had been holding a dead antelope, and dropped the gutted carcass at the doorway, at Augusta's feet.
Augusta was astounded. A dead animal? He was dumping dead things on her doorstep? Ish!
Then the Indian raised his right hand and laid it lightly on Aaron's hair. It was like a blessing: a dirty red hand upon light, sunny hair, a blessing upon the new American, upon
this small, white inheritor of the Plains.
Then Augusta recognized the Indian. This was her Indian, the one who had eaten all of her eggs.
NOw, evidently, he was paying for the lunch, by bringing meat to her lodging.
The brave climbed back on his horse. The procession moved away, going north, toward the Platte River.
No one ever knew where the Indian had come from, or where he had gone. And he never returned.

Stanley & Marguerite Hunziker by Susan

My favorite grandfather was my father’s father. He was a sweet man with a gentle soul.
He was a ferryboat captain in Puget Sound. We lived in California. From the time I was 5 years old, when we came to visit in the summer, he would let me take the wheel of the ferryboat in the middle of the run.
He and my grandmother lived on Whidbey Island. Their house was on the beach not far from the ferry dock. The ferry was “parked” overnight almost in front of the house.
When he was not working, he liked to sit on the logs that washed up on the beach and whittle the driftwood. At the 1962 World Fair, we bought him a small wooden Siamese cat from the Thailand expo. For the next 10 years, he carved thousands of copies of that cat—big ones and small ones, with markings that the wood suggested. He also made small tables and a set of wooden chairs without nails.
My grandmother was a difficult woman, but a great cook. The smallest meal she ever made would feed the Russian army: beef, ham, and turkey, plus seven or eight salads or vegetable dishes and four or five desserts.
My favorite dessert is fruit pie, probably because she made dozens of them in individual Pyrex dishes from the wild blackberries that grew behind the house. She picked a bucketful of berries every other day.
My mother did not like to cook, so when we visited my grandparents, I raided the refrigerator several times a day between meals. It was just heaven, at least for a kid. My dad, their only child, became a kid in some ways while he was there, so I understand why my mother dreaded those visits.
My mother’s parents lived in Arizona, but we didn’t see them very much. She was not very comfortable around them, either. And they didn’t spoil me as much as my father’s parents did.

David by Deb

I take care of Anne, my 90 year old mother full time. One of her favorite stories is abouther father, David, who came to America by boat through Ellis Island.
The first time he went on a plane he wanted to give his Daughter a gift and he brought her back the little bag he found in the plane seat pocket, the “barf” bag. Because he could not read, he did not know it’s purpose and thought it would make a nice present.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I had a very eccentric, strong grandmother who walked from Antwerp to Lisbon with her entire family. They took the first boat
they could get on and went to Brazil, they made a life there.
Once I visited her there. I remembered her as an opinionated slightly harsh woman, my cousin was a lawyer, she took care of her. They had a nice life, at some point my grandmother was placed into an assisted living situation; her best friend had just died. When I arrived, first she looked at me, asked me what I do, teach I reply “ah teach… you are not wearing rings why not wear many rings, this is foolish… Instead of replying I asked her to tell me about her friend.
What else can you expect she was polish; she took care of her children, that was the shape of her life. Her husband was a thinker,
They had 8 children, each stupider to the other, except for your father, he helped me. My husband was wise and handsome she would say..
A little while ago I met the American consul in Rio, “I’ tell you a story” he said, “about an old woman who refused to live in a country whose poetry she did not know, so she studied Portuguese to be able to read Brazilian poems.It was of course my grandmother.

Friday, May 21, 2010

My Favorite Grandmother will be performed at Figment 2010 Boston
June 5th from noon to 6pm
I am looking forward to gather and exchange more stories.
Do you want to add any of your stories? if so please e mail them to me.
Hoping to see you in Boston.
marie christine

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Maurice, from Paul

When I was around 7 years old, I remember going to my grandparents who lived in a very posh flat in Maida Vale, London. My grandfather – Maurice – was very Victorian, regaled me with great stories and was often in a smoking jacket. My grandmother Bessie – delightful and sweet natured – would usher me into the lounge to meet my grandfather and then reappear with caviar on toast. Today, I am a vegetarian but the mere thought of caviar on toast takes me back to literally a bygone era.  

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Advice on food and eating

The advice heard on the radio this morning.
Don't eat anything your grandmother would not recognize as food.
Food Rules: An Eater's Manuel by Michael Pollan

Saturday, December 26, 2009


I’m in Louisville, KY at my grandmother Bebe’s house. We watched the late-night news together on her bed and she scratched my back, after I requested it, though not as hard as I begged her to.
I already said goodnight a little while ago when I brought our two ice cream bowls back down to the kitchen.  But now I’m in the doorway of Bebe’s bedroom to tell her something.
Bebe is, as always, on her side of the bed, which sags a bit extra from the sad habit of widowhood.  She is in her sleeveless, flowered synthetic nightgown, the kind that just hangs from the shoulders, with two seams, one up each side and no shape at all around the middle. I can see a crescent of breast on her side when she lifts her arms to lotion up her pink-nailed hands.
Maybe I have come back in to remind Bebe that I might go for a run in Cherokee Park in the morning and so not to panic if I’m not there not there when she awakes. More likely I’m there to apologize for something I said earlier in impatience or frustration, probably digging in a bit more while I do – no apology at all really – but that’s how these visits are with the two of us.  It’s a lot of guilt on my part, lots of it for good reason, and then recidivism.
When my grandmother turns now to speak to me, I see that she suddenly has no teeth in her mouth.  Her lips have sunken in, like the little knot of someone’s navel, around a maw.
With no teeth, I can clearly make out the skull under Bebe’s soft, wrinkly, beloved cheeks.  I envision the bones that make up her face and the place where her eyes rest in them.  I see that that is, in fact, all the eyes really do there: they rest on top.
The phrase “soft tissue” comes to mind and I understand that phrase now as never before.
I glance at the top nightstand, expecting a set of teeth in a glass, perhaps dancing and yammering in cartoons or commercials, but she must have secreted them away somewhere.  When my ears tune in finally, I have to strain to hear the consonants.  She sees me strain, hears herself and is ashamed to be seen this way.
I close the door behind me. We will not speak of what I saw the next morning, or ever.  When I’m back from my run, I will watch her smooth a marbled green cylinder of Revlon red across her mouth.  She will mug for the mirror, jutting her jaw and stretching her lips wide across the teeth behind them to get her lips taut enough to absorb the pigment, just as I do.
My grandmother and the big sinking house on Village Drive are the most permanent touchstones of my life.  But I know that someday Bebe will die. This will happen after many months where all we have of her is the shell of her former self, but sooner than we am truly prepared.
The day before that happens, I will bitch out my uncle and my little brother, who seem not to care that the caregivers have left Bebe’s nails witchy long, with bits of construction-site orange nail polish inched way up past the tips of her fingers.
While I work on my grandmother’s hands, suffering the stink of acetone as if it were smelling salt, I will raise my voice over her to proclaim that I am the only one who cares about Bebe dying with dignity.

I will be wrong. I will apologize. And I will be forgiven.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Nana, from Christopher

 My grandmother is named Edna, known as Nana to me. She lives in a perpetual dual with my grandfather, and holds court every day beginning at 4:30, cocktail hour. She read every day during her afternoon nap, and before she went to bed. Now she listens to books because of her failing eyesight, courtesy the US government, through a program like Netflix, but for books on tapes. She grew up on a Masonic farm in Wisconsin, with a monkey. Her father and mother moved to Racine, her mother became a short-order cook, and so did Nana. Nana is partly Danish, identifies as Danish; she fed us herring, traditional Danish pastries like evascures and kringle, pumpernickel.  We called her closest elder sister Tootie, though she was christened Florence. Until Tootie’s death, they played bridge together with old friends every week. Nana married Emil, my grandfather, the beginning is shrouded in mystery. Edna and Emil have five children, twelve grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren. She helped to take care of me for some weeks after I was born on an air force base in Illinois, and she gave me my first book, well before I could read, I still have it, it is called “Christopher for President.”