Archives for the month of: February, 2013

hearts & flowers kitsch
an invented holiday
send love all year round
(2.14.2013)

The smell of melting, bubbling butter wafted up from the frying pan as I stirred the slivered almonds. I thought of the first time I remembered smelling melting butter and how the richness of the scent seemed overwhelming.

It was a weekend morning. I had spent the night at a grade school friend’s house. She lived with her grandmother. I think perhaps her father had died – in a restaurant bathroom because he was embarrassed to be choking and went to the restroom where no one could help him. That’s the story I recall from childhood. I don’t know if it’s true or not. But J lived with her grandmother. I don’t know where her mother was and her father had died.

I stirred the almonds and butter some more before putting them on top of the green beans I was cooking us as part of dinner. J’s grandmother’s house was messy and dirty and I remember being uncomfortable. The butter had been left on the counter and J was cooking us eggs for breakfast. We didn’t have butter at my house. My mom bought margarine, “oleo” she called it.

As I finished arranging our dinner on plates, I reflected on what a gift of love it was from my mother to have kept our house so clean and tidy growing up. I don’t know why it had never occurred to me to think of it in these terms, maybe it was Valentine’s Day and love on my mind, combined with the buttery olfactory memory.

Of course, this is not to imply that J’s family didn’t love her – or that anyone who doesn’t keep a tidy house isn’t loving. (Point in case: One of the kindest and most loving people I know is writing a blog about her year-long project of becoming neater. You can check it out here: http://yearofbecomingneater.wordpress.com)

A friend wrote me today about having much to learn, give, and receive in life. I liked the addition of receive. Sending love all year round also involves receiving it. Looking back on the love my mom gave me, in ways big and small, realized and not, I am reminded that the key to receiving is being open to it.

miniature yet
mighty unassuming voice
the ukulele

I attended a seminar last weekend where one of the creative arts performances was a husband and wife duo playing ukuleles.  I’m not sure what it was that struck me so much about the songs they played (original works) but by the end of the second song, I was ready to head to the nearest music store to hunt for a ukulele of my own.  The sound they created was quirky, yet sweet, and terribly moving.

I was reminded of an story I’d heard on NPR a couple of years ago about a documentary called “The Mighty Uke: The Amazing Comeback of a Musical Underdog.”  They talked about how, as far as musical instruments go, it’s not a difficult one to learn.  I still haven’t seen the film (it wasn’t exactly on the blockbuster circuit), but I’m looking into getting my hands on a DVD.

There is a bit of a musical renaissance for the ukulele. Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” and Iraël Kamakawiwo’ole’s medley of “Over the Rainbow” and “Wonderful World” both feature the ukulele prominently.  Even Eddie Vedder has an album out simply titled “Ukulele Songs.”

When I mentioned my new interest in the uke to my coworker, he shared a story about how George Harrison loved ukuleles and kept the trunk of his car full of them to hand out. (Because really, one never knows when the occasion should arise where a ukulele is necessary.)  I don’t know if that’s true, but I like the image nevertheless.

And finally, the word itself: ukulele.  It’s just fun to say!  Etymologically, it is a Hawaiian word (though the instrument itself hails from Portugal), which means “jumping flea.” Whatever language, it’s one of my favorite four syllable words.