Tuesday, April 19, 2011

miracle whip

when i think of summer, i think of my grandfather on my mother's side. kingsburg, a suburb of fresno. butted up against fields of drying grapes. the smell of sunshine, raisins, wine. the backyard was mostly shaded, save the swimming pool meticulously cared for by my water baby of a grandpa. he was a lifeguard, an avid swimmer, a boy of the sun. the concrete was so hot it would burn my feet and i sat under the shaded awning, swinging back and forth on a vinyl cushioned sofa with giant blue and green flowers watching chico, the feisty dachsund run in circles in the sun before demanding to be let back inside. my legs would sweat, skin sticking in the warbled heat and you could see waves in the air, silver and mirrored. inside, my grandmother would make lunch, no small people allowed in the kitchen, ever. there was a crystal lazy susan in the middle of the dining room table and lunch would find it stocked with baby pickles, miracle whip, other things i couldn't stomach but pretended to like so that i could turn it round and round as many times as possible without her noticing. we ate a lot of tuna salad.
my grandfather taught me how to play blackjack at that table. smooth, polished wood and quiet slips of his hands to show me his cards before acting as though i could win by myself. i learned the hierarchy of poker but never really cared to understand the game.
the guest bathroom looked like a hotel. fancy soaps and gilded dishes, air conditioned and double sinks. i worried my grandparents with the amount of time i spent in there, feeling like a queen, fondling antique mirrored trays.
i spent a lot of time entertaining myself with games and books and the typewriter and the contraption in the guest room where you could strap yourself in and hang upside down, good for your alignment i overheard.

i was the princess of kingsburg. drying grapes and chlorine and lazy susans.


  1. And each jewel in the crown are these sparkling memories. You have described it so well. I am still wiping my mouth with the back of my hand.

  2. i grew up with miracle whip too - i still love a kraft singles and miracle whip sandwich to remember childhood.

  3. dear princess of kingsburg,

    you know i'm like in love with you...right?

    duchess of the central valley

  4. Such a vivid picture with so few words. Lovely. I wish everyone's mundane was so magical.

  5. Gorgeous images. I was there between the words, feeling the heat, sweat, smelling the chloringe and tuna fish sand. (Hugs)Indigo

  6. I wrote a huge comment a couple days ago but it disappeared - guess I didn't do it right? Anyway, those summer days in Kingsburg were something - lots of heat, fun in the pool, and you did get to spend a fair amount of time with the grandparents one particular summer - tuna fish was Grandma's specialty and I loved it (her secret was a pinch of sugar). Hanging out in the bathroom yep, they always looked like someone special was coming. And Grandpa's upside down thing - that was so much fun! Grandma always combed your hair in braids so you'd look like a young lady. Thanks for reminding me of some great days I've packed away in the memory bank.

    I hope I'm creating some of those good times for Finn to remember when she's an adult! xxoo Mom


use your kind words.