Sunday, May 21, 2017

It's been a while, Spring is here, summer right behind.   I've been thinking about Jer because this time of year he would be around to do odd jobs for me, painting the bilko doors, or the porch floor or doing yard work..  Last year he borrowed Tony's chain saw and was trimming all the dead wood off the apple tree and the crab apple trees in front.  The front one was particularly bad, I use it to feed the birds, with two bird feeders and a giant suet holder on it. The squirrels' claws and the birds' talons had done a job on the poor tree.  More dead than alive, he was attempting to leave just the branches that had buds.  Jer was a sight to see, hoisting the saw above his head, that full head of hair, full beard, cigarette in his mouth.  He pulled the cord and went to work.  But he accidently cut a healthy branch and moaned as he saw what he had done.  I assured him there was no problem, the poor tree was more gone than alive, but he felt bad and shook his head in disgust.  After that we called it "Jer's tree".  This spring it didn't even try for a bud.  The bark is stripped off, dead branches going here and there.  So Tony came down to take off more branches.  Now it is a glorified bird feeding tree.

I took permanent markers and printed "Hobo Magician" on  the longest branch and I will tell you why.  Sabra had a lot of Jer's stuff in her barn, he often moved and there was never enough room for all his belongings.  Anyway, she found a small notebook that had a story printed in it, not in Jer's handwriting, so the author is unknown.  I don't remember all of it, but it started "J. Jacob Kelly, hobo magician", and it told about his life.  I thought at first it should be "hobo musician" but I came to realize the magician is the right word.  Jer was a magician.  He worked odd jobs, rarely steady, but he always managed to smoke the expensive cigarettes.  He never learned to drive, but he always managed to get a ride to parties or even out to the Cape.  He traveled both ends of the United States from a stay in California to a time spent with friends in Maine.  He was a magician with food, at Wellfleet taking leftover haddock and making the best fish cakes I have ever eaten.  He even made a green sauce, what the green was I don't know.  He was a magician with music, could play anything you gave him.  His girlfriend told me the crowd would yell "Wizard" when he played in spots in Hudson.  He was a magician full of knowledge on any subject and if he didn't know he would take his phone and in minutes be able to tell you everything about why there are all those funny looking moths in Wellfleet this year.  Yes, Jer was a magician and his magic and memory live on.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

So many people have mentioned a particular Jer story, that I thought it was worth repeating.. 
It was a hot summer day when Ria, Jer who was about 8, Rachael 3 and myself set off for a day with Aunt Lillian.  I was driving.  The plan was for a visit, then a trip to take her out for lunch and then back home before too late.  Well the visit went well.  Aunt Lillian wanted to try a restaurant in Cold Spring she had heard about, so we set off for another 20 minute ride.  When we got there, a note on the door said "closed", so we headed back toward Poughkeepsie, another 35 minute ride to Red Lobster, a favorite of Aunt Lillian.  The kids were being really good for being driven around so much, and after lunch we drove back to Beacon, leaving Aunt Lillian at her door.  The kids were getting restless now.  Maria sat in the back seat with Jer, Rachael sat next to me.  I dug in my purse and found my IBM Think pad, a little leather bound pad only 3" by 4 1/2" (I just measured it.)
Jer loved to draw, so with the pad and a pen, we thought he'd be occupied for the hour ride home.

It had been a long day, and it seemed the Taconic went forever,  We finally got off it, and headed toward Red Hook.  That was when Maria said "Ma, there's a police car with his lights flashing...are you speeding?"  No, I double checked the speedometer..."No", but I slowed down and pulled to the curb, with the police car right behind me.  The police man walked carefully up to the car, checking us out, and when he got to the window, I said "What's the matter?"  He replied "We had a call from a car on the Taconic about a sign in your back window".  Ria reached back and pulled the small piece of paper out of the window. Rachael was excited about this - "Is it swear words?"  Ria read out loud in a strange voice "Help I'm being kidnapped ".   She turned to Jer and started yelling "What were you   thinking"  Your grandmother could have had an accident or a heart attack".  The police man tried to calm her down, he said "Ma'am it's not his fault - they get that from TV".  He knew from Ria's reaction this was not a case of a kidnaping, just a kid that had been dragged around a little too much that day.  When we got  home Ria wanted Jer to stay in the car as a punishment and think about what he had done.  Ria, I said, It's hot as hell, and to tell you the truth, I don't blame the kid. I felt like I was being held prisoner too. 

I kept that little piece of paper with the misspelled KIDNAPPED for years, but recently put it in an album for Jer.  Regina has it now.  I imagine that story will be around for a long time.  It signifies the wit of Jeremy even as a young boy.  Thanks Jer for a story worth telling over and over again.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Since Jer died, I have such an urge to do my thread art - embroidery.  One of the last things we talked about was a hat I had worked on, for Timmy many years ago.  I had found a hat in the thrift shop that had the word "Evian", the mineral water on the brim.  I put a D in the front and a T in the back and Timmy wore the "deviant" hat for quite a while.  Jer remembered it and asked if we still had it.  I said probably, because Timmy never throws anything out, and he said "I would like one like that". 

I finished a baby shirt for the beer man last week and this week have been working on a pillowcase that has six scenes of cats on it.  No small project at this time.  I have a special hoop I use and that too reminds me of Jer.  Three years ago in cape cod that same favorite hoop broke into two pieces.  One of the kids had broken a dining room chair and Tony had called Jer and told him to bring glue when he came in a few days.  So when the hoop broke, Jer reglued it and then carefully and tightly wrapped
embroidery thread around the edges.  Three years and many projects later it is still holding.

At the reception following his Mass last week, his friend Peter spoke with me and pointed out his little girl who I had made a shirt and bib for.  One of Rachael's friends' baby also was there, and I had made a shirt for her as well.  I don't know if all these moments have made me want to do the sewing, or if it is my way of handling the day by days.  I remember when I was five and had my tonsils out, Bucky sat next to my bed, working on a hanky that she was decorating the edges with embroidery stitches.  I think it helps, the stitch in, the stitch out, the routine, soothing, and giving one a lot of quiet time to think.  36 years of his life gives me a lot to think about.  And a lot to smile about.  God Bless and rest in peace Jer. Love, Linny

Sunday, January 22, 2017

When I was growing up, my father used a word for different people coming to the house or just as a common referral name.  Ignatz.  A car would drive up and Daddy would say "Ignatz is here for you." Or my brother's friend would knock on the door and Daddy would call Bob "Ignatz is here,"  I never thought anything of it until today.  I was reading an article about a cartoon that ran from 1913 to 1944 about a cat and a mouse.  The cat was Krazy Kat, of indeterminate gender, sometimes he, sometimes she.  And this cat was in love with a mouse and - to my surprise the mouse's name was Ignatz. 

Bingo! I realized that my father probably read that cartoon all his life, and used that word in place of a name.  I looked up that cartoon and found that the Kat loved the mouse, a grumpy soul, that would throw bricks at the Kat.  And there was an Officer, a dog that liked Krazy and would try to stop the brick throwing.  And in one scene, when Ignatz is sleeping, Krazy Kat kisses him and you see above Ignatz's head, in his dreams, hearts.  So there you are.  Yesterday was the Women's March and somehow this tied into my brain with my new found cartoon.  Where like angels, the cat is sexless, and it really doesn't matter.  That's what we need right now....it just shouldn't matter.  Ignatz, put down your brick -peace.






Saturday, December 31, 2016

The last day of the year.  I like to list some of the best moments of 2016.  Anne Morrow Lindberg wrote that we can't expect best whole days, only that there are best moments, moments that give us joy and pleasure.  So here are my best moments of the year:

(1)  Five minutes of fame being in the Poughkeepsie Journal for having a weasel live with us in the house.  I still think it was a least weasel, but the authority said they are rare in New York State.  But I saw her and her picture and I am certain it was a least weasel.
(2) Shane's graduation from Simon's Rock - when his Aunt Rachael asked "Where's Sammy?" her dog she inherited from her mother, my best friend.  Sammy was found right where she left her, by the library.  As Uncle Toby had said, "This could be bad, really bad" and it turned out fine.
(3) Solomon playing the trumpet at his grandfather's memorial.  Over the rainbow, very suiting, Joel loved the Wizard of Oz even though the flying monkeys scared him as a kid.
(4) Wellfleet - again.  Four generations - the youngest being Cove who took to the water just like his name.  I enjoyed the boys' humor, especially their discussions on Star War on the beach.  Good to see the Kelly's all together enjoying the walk to the Gut.
(5) David Sedaris at Bard College.  A birthday gift from Paul and Helene, Sabra and I waited in line before the show and he signed my copy of Maria's obituary, me explaining how much she loved his writing.  He signed his name, with the word "sadly".
(6) Oysterfest - again Wellfleet, meeting Caleb P in PJ's restaurant.  He told Timmy that Timmy was an LM.  I thought he meant my name, but then he explained  - LM lucky man.  He sure is.
(7) Church.  This is a strange one, but I am getting used to my new church.  I especially like it when our priest put a statue of Saint Lazarus on the front altar.  He looked like a Halloween fright, rags falling off, bloody sores that the dogs were licking.  I tried to find one on the internet that looked as good (or as bad) , but none came close to that.
(8) And finally, Maria's Christmas tree.  We usually make a blanket, cover chicken wire with branches and decorate that to lay flat on her grave,  This year Laura suggested putting up a whole, regular size real tree.  So the girls bought one at Williams, we decorated it at Sabra's house and drove it fully decorated and in a stand to the grave.  When it was situated there, you had to smile.  A full size real Christmas tree, putting all the other wreath covered gravestones to shame. 
(9) The really best moment when Timmy put the sick skunk in my car to drive to another location and the car came back, skunkless and stinkless .  You can't ask for more than that.  Happy New Year.

Monday, December 26, 2016

For Christmas I got two items that were exactly the same thing, from Sabra and Laura.  They were a pair of socks that have different faces on them with the word asshole near by - men, women even a cat and a dog, all with the word asshole written by then, except for the cat which said not an asshole.

This was an appropriate gift because one of my favorite words is asshole.  You can use it with so many different adjectives....dumb asshole, stupid asshole, perfect asshole, wise asshole.  You don't even need an adjective, the word itself is so good.  In Planes Trains and Airplanes I laughed out loud when John Candy said "You inconsiderate asshole".  I'm still waiting to use that one.

Bucky liked the word asshole.  I remember fondly being in Beacon and workers were putting a roof on their house. My brother was complaining about them - "they take too many breaks, they disappear for hours at lunch, etc, etc".  My mother just looked at him and said disgustedly, "You're the asshole that hired them."  Bucky knew when to use the word.  If she were alive, I would give one of my pair of socks to her.  Merry Christmas to all.   

Saturday, October 22, 2016

I have in my pocket two horse chestnuts from Provincetown.  We were walking on Commercial Street when I noticed piles of horse chestnuts just under a fence.  I asked Timmy to get me some and he did.  We used to have horse chestnut trees all over the place.  The last one I knew of in Tivoli was blighted and torn down.  I remember Bucky always picking up horse chestnuts and keeping them in her pocket.  Then I read Anne Morrow Lindberg and she did the same thing.  On her walks,she would stoop and pick up a chestnut and drop it in her pocket.

These chestnuts are poisonous, not like the ones for sale near the holidays.  They look alike, except the edible ones have a point.  Horse chestnuts do not.  The ones from Cape Cod are small, not big and healthy like the ones that I remembered.  They are suppose to be good for circulation and also an aid to arthritis as they are anti inflammatory.  I just like reaching into my pocket and feeling them, warm to the touch and smooth.  Like a worry stone and also a reminder of last week and 60 some years ago.  And just maybe they will help my knees.