Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Gramma Hart


We called her Gramma Hart. My mother called her Ruth “did you put two in dear” Hart. She had a maid, Ola. Ola was a black woman with gold fillings - paid for, no doubt, by my Grandmother. The only apartment I remember visiting Gramma Hart in was 1100 East Avenue. My dad said it was one of many that she lived in, as she kept getting evicted for falling asleep while smoking in bed. (Or possibly her chair.)
Gramma spent 90% of her day propped up on the left side of her king size bed. The right side of the bed was an array of magazines, the newspaper, a tube of blood red lipstick, and the TV remote - which had only two buttons. One for on & off, and one to change from channel eight to channel ten or thirteen. Channel 21 came in fuzzy and only if you fucked around with the rabbit ears antenna. Which was strictly verboten. Last, but by no means least, was the large aqua blue stone ashtray. Emptied every few hours by Ola, and NEVER into the trash can lest another fire.
Gramma’s left leg, complete with stocking and shoe, stood in the far right corner of the bedroom. What was left of her leg, amputated just above the knee, rested on a pillow.
I think I was about ten when I realized why my mother gave her the nickname. Gramma handed me her cut crystal glass and asked if I knew how to make a drink. Having no idea, but much too afraid of the woman to say I didn’t, I shook my head yes. So I trotted off to the kitchen and filled the glass with ice, and then filled it to the tippy top with bourbon. Ola caught me in the living room and promptly took the glass back to the kitchen. “Now we always put a little bit a water in Ms. Hart’s drink,” she told me. Then she dumped most of the alcohol out and added water to the glass. “We don’t wanna haf another fire.” She handed me back the glass and told me when my Grandmother asks if I put two in, to say yes. And sure enough, Gramma asked,
“Did you put two in, dear?” “Yes, Gramma.” I lied, as I reached across the bed and put out the cigarette teetering on the edge of the ashtray.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Got Arnica?


There is no turning back, I am officially German. It has been creeping up on me over the years. The eco-friendly 100% cotton bags I take to the store to pack my groceries in. The Birkenstocks with socks. I argued with my inner self - The bags are practical, and the socks keep my feet warm. I even told myself they were signs of ageing. Maturity had set in. I pick things up when they are lying on the floor instead of kicking them under the furniture. I am an adult. No shame in that. I would rather admit to getting old, than turning German. But lately, I have been doing things that have nothing to do with maturity. Last week at Top Bau - the home improvement store - I toyed with the idea of hanging flower boxes over the edge of the balcony, and filling them with geraniums. This is more German than Sauerkraut and Bratwurst.
Anyway, the final leap happened this morning at 11:46 when the pharmacist handed me Arnica K├╝gelchen. For all of you Motrin gulping, Tylenol popping readers out there, Arnica is a homeopathic medicine. It can be taken after surgery to reduce pain and swelling. It can help alleviate sprains and strains, and is used for bruise relief. It is also used to manage the pain before and after labor and delivery, as well as lessen trauma.
I looked like possessed Linda Blair when I asked for painkillers during labor with my first child. The midwife gave me Arnica. I threw her out the window. Poor thing. Oh don‘t worry. It was only the first floor, and they gave her plenty of Arnica for the pain.
Needless to say, my whole take on these oh-so-popular little white balls is, pass the Oxycodone, please. I never, ever, ever thought I would have them in my medicine cabinet. It’s just so, German. You know that saying, “More American than mom’s apple pie.“ Thay have one here, it goes, “More German than Homeopathic Arnica pellets.”
I guess this is it. Tomorrow I’ll buy a basket for my bike and ride into town to shop. I just hope my dirndl doesn’t get caught in the chain.
I’d hate to fall off my bike. Oh wait, It’s okay, I have my Arnica!