Friday, August 15, 2008

Notes from the road. . .

Patricia and I have just returned from a road trip to visit my aunt Marie - the last surviving sibling of my father - in Madison, WI. We drove to Chicago on friday and spent the night with Cliff and Laura after a great dinner at the Chop House with Patricia's aunt Carol and uncle Tom. Tom has been the accountant for the Chop House - a popular Chicago steak house with nothing but meat on the menu - for over 20 years. He made reservations for us for 6:00 and it was only after we had shown up and were seated at the table that he leaned over to us and whispered, "So - do you eat meat?" We both decided to indulge, in honor of Tom and the rest of the family.

Saturday morning I dragged myself out of bed and went running with Cliff and Laura - Which somehow didn't keep me from gaining 5 pounds somewhere on the trip. It was nice to be clomping along the sidewalks of Chicago, chatting about Sheya and gang warfare - not necessarily related subjects. Then we got an early start and - despite some confusion about what time zone the gps was registering - made it to Madison by noon. Patricia suggested that we stop to pick up some flowers for my aunt - and perhaps some knitting needles for her. We did find a good florist right down the road from my aunt's apartment building and were able to put together a nice bouquet for her. (Patty found some knitting needles later and was able start her next project. She finished the pair of socks for my birthday on the way up from Chicago. Great socks!)

Shortly after we arrived, Patricia and I were sitting at a table drinking tea with Aunt Marie. She was regaling us with stories from her childhood in Kentucky. "This was about my grandmother - the only one I knew - my father's mother. She would take me on walks to collect herbs. She would say 'I smell pennyrile' and then we would find it and put it in the basket. One time she was going to take me walking and I couldn't find her. I went to the back of the house and there she was, leaning back against the house with her eyes closed. She wore dresses that came all the way down to the ground and so I couldn't see what she was doing. I grabbed her by the hand and she said 'don''t pull on me! Can't you see I'm pissing?' I went back into the kitchen and asked mom 'what's pissing?' She said 'where id you hear that?' I told her and she couldn't get too angry with me since it was my grandmother who I had heard it from. She just shook her head and said, 'the back of the house always smells so bad and now I know why.' It was years later that I figured out that it was pennyroyal that we were picking and making into tea."

It was good to hear some stories about my dad too. I found out that he had joined the army in WW II because he had Jewish friends and he felt he had to do something to help them. He had already been declared unfit for duty because of the finger that got cut off that he couldn't bend properly. They were afraid he wouldn't be able to shoot a rifle. In spite of that he qualified as a marksman. 

After a very large and wonderful breakfast at "Lazy Jane's" we went for a walk and I found some good antler tines to use in sweat lodge. You never know when and where something useful is going to show up. 


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