Saturday, May 26, 2007


My mother and step-father visited recently, bringing me their old stereo with the cd player I gave them, a very old Dual turntable ('85, I wanna say), and an Onkyo receiver. Needless to say that, although this equipment is obsolescent (you should have seen the trouble I went through to get a new needle), I am ecstatic to have it, because I can finally play not only my old vinyl, but my mother's entire collection, which I have been asking for nearly a decade. The only thing I have wanted more, and for which I ask each and every Christmas and birthday, is a pair of perfect flat ovular turquoise earrings, the size of robin's eggs, set in sterling, which are an unusual and extraordinarily vibrant color. They are also absolutely clear of any veins, with a flawless surface. I once wore them into a jewelry store in Park City, and the shopkeeper was positively stunned by their quality and beauty. Like most of the things that my mother has, she claims she will give them to me when she dies, to which I always reply, "Mom, you're too mean to die."

This is, of course, funny to us both, and she probably will outlive me, but it should be noted that my mother often boasts, or reminisces, if you prefer, about the great collectibles and antiques bestowed upon her by her parents and Grandma Bessie. This includes family silver, furniture, and antique jewlery (sadly the garnet filigree necklace, brooch and one earring, once belonging to Eleanor Roosevelt, were stolen when I was in high school). My second favorite thing, which I don't often ask for, is a glass globe lamp, supported in bronze by two Atlas figures and whatever that circular band is called that engirds it from pole to pole, and papered by a lovely jade and manila yellow map, naming countries with antiquated appellations such as, Siam, Persia, and Ceylon. She once asked me if I thought she should replace itt with an updated map, causing my heart to drop out of my chest like a ton of lead. "Mother... if you touch that thing..."
My mom is a great "changer" of things. In astrology, the "cardinal" signs are the great instigaters of movement and transformations, and she is the Cardnial of cardinals. She's the one carrying the bull-whip, and tearing down the pyramids, and building a staircase to the moon, because she had an extra ten minutes just lounging about in her day, and hell, as she likes to say, she can sleep when she's dead.

Excepting, she's too mean to die.

She even cut down the eighty-year-old Cherokee-Red Dogwood tree in our backyard, because it was "diseased," in her estimation, which is completely false, though she does have her Master Gardener's Certificate. What this really translates to is: "The tree is MESSY," a quality she cannot abide. It was possibly one of the most beautiful trees I have ever seen, full of seasonal bliss. The leafy stage was pretty, the flowering stage - cranberry extraordinary, the red berry stage - an odd and beady beautiful, the chlorophyll breakdown stage - crimson phenomenal, and the bare stage - swizzle stick elegant. It is the one thing in our lives together that I will never get over. I have forgiven things about her past that would make up an entire season of Lifetime Television for W____(sorry, I can't bear to finish that phrase, as it rankles my sensibilities entirely, as it is a completely unfounded and utterly unjust representation of women, like the cartoon, Cathy.), but the tree? I just hope I don't take that resentment to the grave. I am working on it.

I have inherited some of this trait from her, this need to "improve" things, except that I have a greater sense of preservation. I also possess her clutchiness, or maybe I clutch her possessiveness, but the difference is, she has all these things passed down through the family, while I have almost none, though I never point this out when she gloats about it time and time again. If she ever goes so far as to use the word "trousseau," which is essentially what they built for her as a teen and twenty-something, I will keel over and vomit indignation.

Still, I have the vinyl, and it is a quirky collection to be sure. I am thrilled to have it. There are clasical records from the 50s and 60s, a sixteen-disc, leather-bound, "treasury" from back in the day when records were unbendable and weighed a pound, covering Bach, Berlioz, Medndelssohn, Wagner, all with bios, portraits and album covers with glossy nature, landscape or landmark photos, colorized absurdly if romantically. There are some hippy-dippy works from the 70s, which will get the most play. There are original Beatles' albums, lots of them, musicals (Glynis Johns singing "Send in the Clowns,"
anyone?), Dylan Thomas reading aloud, and a 1963 collection of ten Shakespeare plays, performed by Richard Burton and John Gielgud, Dame Peggy Ashcroft, O'Toole, Redgrave, and Anna Massey. What else? Firestone Tires' Christmas music series from the 60s, more Folk music than you'd ever know what to do with, bluegrass, and a History of the British Blues, with several early Yardbirds tunes, and old old Rod Stewart, before he turned into a wheel of 80s cheese. Finally, there are scads of, OH GOD!, Andy Williams, 60s Streisand, Mantovanni, Andre Previn, Vikki Carr, Percy Faith... all those sounds of the well-heeled 60s bridge-playing, cocktail circuit Republicans, a part of which my parents most certainly were, for a time.

I think I'll be posting about the ones most important to me, like this one I remember most clearly from my pre-K years. I loved it even back then:


Huckleberry said...

There's a picture somewhere of my dad, my very young uncle and Janis Joplin together, circa 1967 or so. If I can ever wrastle it away from my no account sister, I'll post it.
I don't think any one was sober in those days.
Or these days.

kissyface said...

AHHHHHHHH!! Awesome. That's so much better than offending Peter Bogdonavich. Please post it.

I think you're right about the sobriety in that corner in those days.

And your corner, these days.

She, Janis, was born in my beau's home town, Port Arthur, TX. I now have three of her albums, and two Tennessee Earnie Ford. Life is good.

steve said...

zqqziYeah, Andy and Roger Williams, Herb Alpert, Doris, Dean and Frank all played on the weekends with a jigsaw puzzle set up in the living room...
oh, Andre Kostelen-something and Arthur Fiedler and Benny goodman about Pete fountain?

Citizen H said...

I envy you. In the years since my dad passed I have no idea what's become of his collection. Hocked by my sister, no doubt. It's another downside of spending so many years overseas.

GrizzBabe said...

That is quite a collection there. I wish I had possessed the good sense to hang on my parents' vinyl albums. Al Green, Ohio Players, Temptations. Classics. Heck, I even wish I had kept my Shaun Cassidy albums. Had I only realized how rare and valuable such things would become.

kissyface said...

GrizzBabe -

I had Shaun Cassidy AND Donny Osmond (one with Marie, too)... oh, to have those back! Anyway, your parents sound like they had better taste.

Grant Miller said...

My kids love the Mercedes Benz song. I do too, for that matter.