Friday, March 26, 2010

Memory Lane Friday - A Room

It's a very special room that I'm thinking of; it's one of those rooms which is special in so many other houses. But this particular room belonged to my grandparents (my grandmother in particular). It was their kitchen. Now it doesn't matter if I'm talking about the one in their house on Blue Ridge Circle, or the house on Mountain Walk Drive. They are both equally important in my memory.

Their house on Blue Ridge Circle came first. That's the house my grandparents lived in when I was first born.

It's the kitchen where my grandmother bathed me when I was a baby . . . in the kitchen sink.

It's the kitchen where, when I was a young child, I remember eating a hot dog for the first time. And an orange cream-sicle for the first time. And the many bunches of green grapes their neighbor grew in his back yard and shared with us.

I remember eating meals in that kitchen with my grandparents, with the Asian-inspired serving bowls, the scents of delicious meals filling the air. I remember how my grandfather would occasionally read the paper at the table. I once  tried to bring a book to the table (because my grandfather read at the table occasionally, so why couldn't I?); however, my grandmother gave me "that look." My book got put away, and that was that. "The Boss" had spoken without saying a word.

I also remember that on rare occasions, the TV would be on - I distinctly remember that "The Odd Couple" (starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman) was on at the same time we ate our evening meals.

When they moved to the house on Mountain Walk Drive, I remember how warm that kitchen was. I don't mean because it was my grandmother's kitchen and she was so welcoming and was loving her visiting family. It was warm because of the temperature. So often when she was cooking, it would be very warm in there, sometimes uncomfortably warm. She'd be comfortable, and everyone else would be perspiring and trying to open windows or heading to the other room. I guess if you can't stand the heat . . .

I love thinking of that kitchen - the one on Mountain Walk Drive. I remember it well. The kitchen at the Blue Ridge Circle house? While I love my memories from that house, I really only remember "snapshots." The kitchen on Mountain Walk Drive - well, I remember wonderful scenes from life within those four walls. And sensations - scents, sounds, tastes. Emotions.

I remember how good it would smell in the morning, like coffee, pancakes, bacon . . . or coffee, huevos con chorizo, and flour tortillas as they were being warmed. Sometimes they smelled like biscuits and avena (oatmeal) . . . and coffee, of course.

Typically, my grandfather would be up super early every day. If someone walked in after he was at the table drinking his orange juice, he'd simply say, "Good afternoon," with a big smile and a twinkle in his eye, even if it were only 6:30 AM.

I love how the windows overlooked the back yard, the wispy leaves of a tree back there providing shade in the afternoon. Now that I'm thinking about it, I can't remember if one could see the cactus plants on the other side of the fence. They're the flat, paddle type, with the red "fruit" growing on it, and at some point, blossoming into flowers. I think they're called "tuna." Not the fish called "tuna" obviously. I'm almost expecting a wise-crack from my grandfather right about now.

Here's the type of cactus I'm talking about:

I took this tuna photo circa summer 1994. I'd hopped to the other side of the fence to get this photo.


The smell of delicious meals other than breakfast filled that room, too. Sometimes it would be pot roast. Other times it would be homemade tacos (Oma's tacos are the BEST), Spanish rice, her world famous homemade refried beans, or maybe enchiladas and Spanish rice. Sometimes salad. Always bread or tortillas.

I remember occasional evening treats in there. Specifically, she'd usually have Klondike bars or ice cream sandwiches on hand. Sometimes it would be some sort of baked goods. I remember that she liked making lemon meringue pie. But she'd put shaved coconut in the lemon part. Yuck. If she had only left out the coconut, I would've liked it. She was wily, probably wanting that much more for herself. My Oma!

I have another more recent memory that I really love. There was a bejeweled basket on the floor in a corner near the dining room entrance. Inside the basket? A big ol' bag of dried pinto beans. When Olivia was old enough to crawl around, she found that basket and was absolutely fascinated by it. When I think of that kitchen, I love thinking of her immediately crawling or teetering  to that basket and grabbing the bag of beans.






Um, yeah. We put a stop to the biting really quickly! (I think that's Daddy - Mr. Safety Patrol - right behind her, reaching on her right side to retrieve the bag so she wouldn't bite it. Pretty sure she was teething, and the texture of the bag and beans must've been nice on her gums. But that's what her teething toys or popsicles were for, right?)


I miss that kitchen. I am filled with a sense of saudade when thinking that the El Paso era is now over. Oma lives in Iowa now, in my parents' home. And my grandfather passed away in October 2008. So that home on Mountain Walk Drive is no longer occupied by my family. But I will always remember that wonderful kitchen and all the meals my Oma made with love.


Sir Rafa at his place at the kitchen table, circa summer 1994. 


Abuelita and Livie in Oma's kitchen, 25 Jun 2006. This is one of Abuelita's favorite photos. 


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4 comments:

varunner said...

Oh yum, huevos con chorizo! I almost wrote about my grandmother's kitchen too. It's just the sort of memory that fills your belly with warmth :-)
I love that cactus picture.

Katie Fries said...

What wonderful memories!

patriciamia said...

One Thanksgiving I offered to help your grandmother wash dishes. There were only four of us in the kitchen -- your grandma, your tia Nana and Ofelia. They all looked at me and I realized I had made a huge mistake. Only your grandmother knew how to properly wash dishes in her kitchen. Then she began to scrub the roasting pan with Ajax. I had never seen that done anywhere. And the water was so hot it was steaming.

You are a beautiful writer, Sonya. And your photographs are perfect additions to your stories.

Andrew said...

I love the Mountain Walk kitchen, too. Too bad we never made it back there. That IS me behind the girl. Couldn't let her chew on that bag!

I sure do miss visiting your grandparents in that house.

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