for our final darkroom project, jacinda, asked for us to tell her a story…which interestingly enough, she seemed to enjoy just as much as i did…stories that is…having them be told to her and telling them herself. she used to enjoy it when my ex or i, would have a juicy bit of gossip. she would lean in and say, “do tell…”
jacinda, herself, was an excellent storyteller. she was not only an adjunct professor at wsu-v, but also a photographer, installation artist, and author. i’ll have to say that, jacinda, was my idol. i guess that her work and personality, spoke to me. of all of my wonderful professors, i learned the most from her.
i guess that i connected to different aspects of her work and teaching style. she was all about the details, the minutiae, and the identification and classification of mundane objects. i loved that whole genre. she was very successful in eliciting stories from found, previously forgotten and overlooked objects.
she has shown her work and created installations across the usa . my ex and i, used to frame her photographs for her shows and ship them directly to the gallery or museum. my ex surprised me one birthday, with my favorite of jacinda’s photographs, a painter’s rag with paint. i have a few others in my collection, as well as one of her books.
so, the story that i decided to tell, was about my family…more specifically, holidays and birthdays with the w*****d’s. i got an “a” on it.
my dad most of the time was pretty uninvolved in the family, other than being my strict disciplinarian. however, when it came to holidays and birthdays…things were different. he took the lead role and created traditions, that still take place today.
one of the nicest things that he ever did for me, was to surprise me on valentine’s day each year, serving me toast points with jelly and giving me a very simple paper valentine. as with everything, he only referred to himself and me with initials…he was “gtw” and i was “kaw.”
on easter, my dad created easter baskets out of plain, old, brown paper bags. the “easter grass” inside was shredded newspaper. i knew that it was my easter basket, if it had my initials on it.
we didn’t need to dye our easter eggs, because we had naturally “dyed” eggs, courtesy of our happy hens. we had several different types of chickens, that laid different colored eggs. we had brown eggs, light blue eggs, light green eggs, and even pinky-peachy colored eggs.
my dad cut egg shapes out of colored construction paper, hid them outside in the backyard, and we searched for them. once we found them all, we traded them in for coins…each color of egg, was worth a different amount…with yellow eggs (golden eggs) garnering a shiny, silver dollar.
one year, my birthday rolled around and no one remembered, but me. i was really hurt, but didn’t even say anything, until bedtime. my dad ran down to winchell’s and bought two, old-fashioned donuts…one for me, as my “birthday cake” and one for m*****a, since everything had to be “even steven.”
my parents thought that halloween was demonic, so we didn’t participate. instead, we were treated to “diet” rootbeer floats.
leaves were very important to our thanksgiving decorations. since we lived on property that included an orchard and citrus grove…trees were very important and so were their leaves. we had a handful of deciduous trees and during the fall, my grandma and i would gather up the prettiest and most unusual to use as decorations. my grandma had two tablecloths, a solid burgundy one that we laid our leaves on…and a clear plastic one that we laid over the top of the leaves. the finished product was quite beautiful. we also put leaves inside of bowls with water to just float and look pretty.
my mom didn’t allow us to have candy very often, however, on holidays she had a bag of peanut m & m’s…that i swear to god…she recycled for years. putting them out in a glass container, straight out of the freezer…from the year before, and as they warmed up…they would literally sweat…and their color all ran off…leaving albino candies, in a pool of mud colored liquid. i really miss those now…
my uncle, at one time had a jewish girlfriend, whom i adored. she made us some special eggs for christmas one year and we were all smitten. after that, there wasn’t a christmas that went by without them. basically, egg and onion matzos are broken into small pieces that then, soak for 5 minutes in a little milk, and then the eggs are added, and everything is scrambled together. the scrambled mixture is added to a hot skillet, where fresh green onions are sautéing…and there you have it…jewish eggs…mazel tov!!
i’m not sure where or how crockpot christmas began, but we did it every year. we would have as many crockpots as we had all lined up, filled with yummy quick foods that we could eat all day long, without the “evil eye” or tough food restriction that we were used to. so, crockpot christmas was a pretty huge deal for us. we had things like: little smokies in barbecue sauce, nachos, spinach casserole, swedish meatballs, roast beef and au jus sauce for french dip sandwiches, scalloped potatoes and honey baked ham, and macaroni and cheese.
my grandma taught me how to make paper snowflakes. hers were so intricate, delicate, and fragile…just breathtaking revelations of paper. mine began very chunky and very clunky, but improved with time. for the christmas season, the leaves would be taken out from my grandma’s two tablecloths and our snowflakes would go in, and be on view. my grandma’s table was always a work of art and nature…mesmerizing and a safe, happy place to be sidled up to.
as far back as i can remember, my dad has always utilized foil and newspaper, as unique forms of wrapping paper. it has carried over to me, because i have always loved it.