To make paper


art-raphael-turtleI’ve returned to living strictly indoors.  Bridget joined me today.  She did research on how to make paper.  According to her, it is pretty easy once you get the supplies, which aren’t too numerous or costly.

I had plenty of tasks.  From the minute I started to when I finished, there was no flag.  Perhaps I am getting better at what I do for a living these days, I sure hope so.  My aspiration is to be the best out there, or at least one among the many to receive superlative report cards.

When nightfall became prevalent on the east coast, I called for the first time in awhile Abuelo.  He answered with, “Michael Patrick!”

Heavily accented, I need to record the way he speaks my name.  No one else in the world says my name the way he says it, and even though this is the case for each person who knows my name and says it, it is his way of saying it, with that wrinkly accent, “Michael Patrick!” that makes me conscious of my name and how everyone says it differently, with their own intonations and pace and acrobatics of the tongue.

This is his interpretation of me.  Everything he has every thought about his nephew is packed willy-nilly in the way he says my name.

“Abuelo,” I said, “hello, how are you?”

The conversation continued in pleasantries, all sincere and, happy to report, light hearted since there are no recent deaths in the family, no hospital rooms with our blood as occupant, there is only their newborn grandchild, the start of another generation.

Mia will be the next step.

What will her eyes live to see?  As yet they have not seen either Bridget or I, and I do feel somewhat guilty about probably being the only one of Angel’s cousins to not witness his reproduction.  The day will come, though, God willing.

The reason for my sudden call to Abuelo was Pepe, his son now living in Chile with his wife and two children.  Pepe owed me payment for the Excel work I did for him.  The most important characteristic you have to know about Pepe is the fact that he is my maternal uncle and he is not balding, hence my full head of hair.

“Pepe tells me that I have to write a check for two-fifty,” said Abuelo, “should I make it out in your name?”

I almost asked him to say it, meaning my name, just to hear his guttural accent salivate through each of my four syllables.

That is one thing I do remember being taught, the syllables.  I was in St Cecilia Catholic School, can’t recall the grade nor the teacher, whom I know had to be female because I didn’t have a male teacher until middle school in Barranquilla.  She had us clapping our hands at our desks.  My legs must’ve been shorter then than my arms are now.  Strange to remember yourself when you were younger.

I wonder if my eyeballs are bigger today?

Bridget was still in her pink robe researching how to make paper.  She wanted to buy the supplies tonight.  Pepe indirectly made it happen because he gave me a necessary reason to leave the house.

In this way, before visiting Abuelo and Abuela, we made a trip to Home Depot.

It had been awhile since I last entered this fix-it haven.  Back then I was a Trainee Appraiser.  I went there to purchase a new 100’ measuring tape as well as an apparatus to test the groundedness of outlets.  I was wearing the gray Appraisal Pros shirt, which I have not worn in months.

I no longer wear the garb of an employee, and it’s not because I’ve stumbled into success.  I am living on a meager salary, but I am also not paying my mortgage or maintenance anymore.  Who would’ve thought that it would come to this?

For the next year or so, if we stay here that long, we will live as if we owned this property outright, as well as the building and the land.

Yes, I will not be paying my property taxes either.

The screen and squeegee we found in Home Depot, the felt, kitty litter, and liquid starch we got in Wal-mart, which was in the same parking lot.  I bought a blend of soy and canola oil for the kitchen.

We got to Abuelo and Abuela’s later than expected.

I was the first to grab at a beer when it was offered, Michelob Light.  Bridget, too, graciously accepted a bottle.

For snacks, Abuelo put almonds and peanuts into a bowl.

When he realized that the almonds had been handpicked, he said, “I can get more almonds?”

We declined.  Almonds, though not the most costly nut, are costly nonetheless.

There was talk of Italy.

Abuelo and Abuela had been to Italy.

“When Judita lived with Raul in Germany,” said Abuelo, “we went to visit.  That is when we took a car to Italy, Spain, and France.”

They had been to Venezia and Roma.  In Spain they hung wine from their shoulder in a bota and got so drunk that they missed their train.

Bridget is going to fly into Pisa, go to Trento for Christmas, be in Rome for New Year’s, and cool down in Milan.   But it is going to be cold there already; no need for a cool down, after all, the Alps are nearby.  It is imperative to wear coats, beanie, gloves/mittens, and boots.

I will be in Miami with Bill and Carl; Underwood and Thunem.  Good of them to come here. I do know, however, that their primary motive is the sun and temperature of the Tropics in winter, especially compared to the cold of the deep Midwest.

The conversation went smoothly with my mother’s parents even though it was conducted predominantly in English, which is not their native language.  As is her custom, Abuela did not speak much, and when she did it was in Spanish, that is, apart from the one or two words that she shyly uttered in English.

Hey, that’s one or two words more than I said in Spanish.

Languages are not meant to be barriers.  We make them barriers.

The check was folded in my pocket, made out to me.  When we had entered, Abuelo already had it on the kitchen table, sitting directly under their dinner light.  He did not hand it to me.  I did not take it from his hands.

Bridget, not meaning to cut our family visit short, reminded me of tomorrow’s Final in her Language and Education class.  I said something about her being the consummate procrastinator, but I failed to mention that she always gets her work done, and not just done but also marked with A’s.

She noted my failure to qualify her procrastination later on in our kitchen.  Her eyes squinted at me.

“You told Abuelo and Abuela that I procrastinated.  That’s fine, but you didn’t say that I get the work done on time.”

She accepted my apology.

Back at home, I did several more hours of work because it was there.  Bridget made tuna with love in the kitchen.  I heard her use the blender to make mayonaisse.

Honeyed Cat was sitting quietly on the tile floor trying to tell us that is was her Birthday.

“It’s your birthday, Honey?  Well, in that case…Tuna Treat!”

She was completely happy with our simple, unpremeditated gift of albacore juice, like Winnie the Pooh and his hive of honey.

We didn’t make it into bed until nearly 4 AM, and I was actually the last in because I had to publish a new post on my web log.

This was Mr Blog’s peremptory command.


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