The Washing Machine

 When someone asked me what life was like when I lived in Budapest I would tell them about my washing machine. It was bigger than a breadbox but not by much — a small, square, metal box with some knobs. A hose ran from the sink into this box. I would turn on the hot water and let it fill.  This was done on the weekends with kids running around and me multi-tasking and so, more often than not, the tub runneth over. "Now I can also wash the kitchen floor! How efficient of me!"  The washing powder never, not once, dissolved. I put the clothes in anyway and pressed a button; the 'washing machine' for lack of a better word (like 'breadbox') would rotate one inch to the right and one inch to the left. I let it do that for a while as I mopped the kitchen floor. The process was reversed to 'rinse' the clothes. Again, severely impaired rotation commenced.   Drain the water. Wring out the clothes and hang them up. Try to iron shirts that have been wrung out like this. Just try. My husband was kind enough to point out that I failed. I said he could take his shirts and — take his shirts to the cleaners, yes, that's what I said.   The stove wasn't much bigger — it barely held a chicken. My sister came to visit, looked around the kitchen and said, "I thought you said you had an oven." Yes, well. 

When someone asked me what life was like when I lived in Budapest I would tell them about my washing machine. It was bigger than a breadbox but not by much — a small, square, metal box with some knobs. A hose ran from the sink into this box. I would turn on the hot water and let it fill.

This was done on the weekends with kids running around and me multi-tasking and so, more often than not, the tub runneth over. "Now I can also wash the kitchen floor! How efficient of me!"

The washing powder never, not once, dissolved. I put the clothes in anyway and pressed a button; the 'washing machine' for lack of a better word (like 'breadbox') would rotate one inch to the right and one inch to the left. I let it do that for a while as I mopped the kitchen floor. The process was reversed to 'rinse' the clothes. Again, severely impaired rotation commenced. 

Drain the water. Wring out the clothes and hang them up. Try to iron shirts that have been wrung out like this. Just try. My husband was kind enough to point out that I failed. I said he could take his shirts and — take his shirts to the cleaners, yes, that's what I said. 

The stove wasn't much bigger — it barely held a chicken. My sister came to visit, looked around the kitchen and said, "I thought you said you had an oven." Yes, well. 

The Train to Brownsville

 That's me but it also looks like my mother when she was a little girl. I drew it from a memory of a faded photograph of myself at 3 1/2 standing in the Gulf of Mexico.  I don't remember playing in the water but I do recall other parts of the trip I took with my mother by train from Iowa to Brownsville, Texas.   I remember the porter making up the bed and then coming back in because I dropped my toothbrush between the bed and the wall. I can hear the clack-clack of wheels on rails and see the lights as we pulled into a station, the mail pouch on a hook.   Everything is brown in my memory including Brownsville station — small, wooden and dimly lit by a single yellow bug light. A man came dashing up to meet us in a brown suit, tie and hat. My mother called him 'Brownie' and he called her 'Toots'. They hugged like old friends.   "Is he Brownie because of his clothes?" I wanted to know but my mother ignored me and continued to casually ignore me for the rest of the visit. I came to see this as a gift; I saw her as someone besides my mother, on her own and being herself and also letting me be myself which I took to like a duck in water. She hung out with her sister and women friends and I hung out with my grandfather who had a pure, uncomplicated love for me that I could feel and which I held as a touchstone for the rest of my life. I was comfortable by his side as he worked.   My grandfather gave me something which I accidentally dropped through the slats of what I thought was a raft; I remained unbearably sad about it. Years later, I asked my mother what it was. She remembered my hysterics. "It was just a yellow daisy and you were on the dock."   We stepped over the border into Mexico and into dirt roads, dust and color. I followed behind my mother and her sister and friends, twirling in a bright green cotton dress with colorful embroidery and ribbons. I picked up the travel bug and never let it go. 

That's me but it also looks like my mother when she was a little girl. I drew it from a memory of a faded photograph of myself at 3 1/2 standing in the Gulf of Mexico.

I don't remember playing in the water but I do recall other parts of the trip I took with my mother by train from Iowa to Brownsville, Texas. 

I remember the porter making up the bed and then coming back in because I dropped my toothbrush between the bed and the wall. I can hear the clack-clack of wheels on rails and see the lights as we pulled into a station, the mail pouch on a hook. 

Everything is brown in my memory including Brownsville station — small, wooden and dimly lit by a single yellow bug light. A man came dashing up to meet us in a brown suit, tie and hat. My mother called him 'Brownie' and he called her 'Toots'. They hugged like old friends. 

"Is he Brownie because of his clothes?" I wanted to know but my mother ignored me and continued to casually ignore me for the rest of the visit. I came to see this as a gift; I saw her as someone besides my mother, on her own and being herself and also letting me be myself which I took to like a duck in water. She hung out with her sister and women friends and I hung out with my grandfather who had a pure, uncomplicated love for me that I could feel and which I held as a touchstone for the rest of my life. I was comfortable by his side as he worked. 

My grandfather gave me something which I accidentally dropped through the slats of what I thought was a raft; I remained unbearably sad about it. Years later, I asked my mother what it was. She remembered my hysterics. "It was just a yellow daisy and you were on the dock." 

We stepped over the border into Mexico and into dirt roads, dust and color. I followed behind my mother and her sister and friends, twirling in a bright green cotton dress with colorful embroidery and ribbons. I picked up the travel bug and never let it go. 

On the Road Again

Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is a charming town perched on the side of the Ozark Mountains. It's meant for agile pedestrians, not cars. Hidden trails, springs, grottos, cliffs and sinkholes abound. I am at The Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow writing about moving which I am in the midst of . . .

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I left the Twin Cities and Winter and good friends, managed to pare my belongings down to a 10 x 15 storage unit and hit the open road. Everything I need in the moment and for the next three months is in my car. I do wonder how I will feel about all the stuff in storage after three months. 

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New digs

The horror is slowly passing. I mean the horror of moving: sorting, ditching, wrapping, packing, more boxes, more bubble wrap, labeling, moving, surrounded by boxes, unpacking, wrenched shoulder, backache, etc. There are still a few boxes unpacked but I'm living happily in my new space now. 

I have a few favorite spaces. An unexpected one in the kitchen where I found a spot for my grandmother's step stool. Now I sit there and have my coffee and breakfast in the morning. The kitchen has a 50s feel to it. I have a tiny porch outside the kitchen door where my painted bench holds flowers and herbs. Between the dining area and living room is a perfect space for playing music and music has already been played there with friends. 

The house is 100 years old, built as a four-plex. For some reason the first bedroom has a window between it and the kitchen. Why? And a window in the bedroom door. Again, why? I slept there and felt exposed so I moved into the tiny back bedroom and felt much cozier. The first bedroom is now the yoga/sewing room. There is a big open space holding the living room, dining room and music area. And a tiny winterized porch is now my studio. 

I'm in a small, cheerful neighborhood where the Mississippi River bends, high up on the bluffs. Parks, eagles, bike trails, a sweet little coffee shop, the river, the river. I've heard trains whistling but the other day I heard a steamboat which always gives me a thrill -- so deep, mournful, echoey and full of water. 

I'm happy here.