You can ask as many times as you want and use all the interviewing tricks you know but she won’t give you the recipe. “They’d go ahead and screw it up and then it’d be ‘oh, Ms. Johanna’s cake isn’t good at all,’ all over around here.”
I’m the half of the marriage that fixes things around the house and so long as I stay out of the way of the coffee pot, he won’t notice the kitchen mess.
As expected, your naked face is greeted with stares. A popular response is to make a sharp swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid you.
A storm’s coming so I call the son, see if he wants to go down to the pier and watch it roll in. We have about twenty minutes before bands of rain arrive and the wind picks up. He says he’s in and off we go.
Ms. Johanna’s been telling me that the old straw hat I wear is too heavy to do any good when we work in the garden (it does just fine). She said she needed to teach me how to make a real hat but we had to have some newspaper, specifically The New York Times.
Mom adored and respected Mrs. McLoughlin but all her preparations belied a lingering insecurity from growing up poor, afraid of being considered shabby.
Me texting my sister: “So the evening news is freaking me out. I’m staying here… I hate this. I really want to get out of Brooklyn.”
Sue: “You will be fine. I promise.”
Faith in my big sister: “I’ll come down to your house.”
We all agreed that the hollow below would make a perfect place to live if ever the world descends into dystopian reality.
Ms. Johanna came upon the vacant lot on one of her walkabouts after she retired. Bamboo and trashed choked, it seemed a perfect place to park her considerable energy. She brought a machete the next time she came around. By summer’s end, the soil had been replenished and mulched Four raised beds overflowed with herbs, some beans, corn and berry bushes. That was twenty-two years ago. Now 82, she’s still working this portion of earth pretty much by herself.
The son said he imaged a surprise party, something that we both agreed was completely uncharacteristic of him. But the occasion was momentous–four years comprised of 19 hour days and working two jobs–a cum laude college degree from a rigorous university. But how to do this in this plague time seemed daunting.