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Nothing much to speak of

September 14, 2016

Photo on 6-10-16 at 4.39 AM

Wednesday, September 14 @ 1250

I am feeling much, much, better after a nap.  Tonight I am planning to prepare and serve some vegetable pie to six guests.  I guess I’ll make two pies.  One of the people has celiac sprue, so I have to make the crust and everything absolutely gluten free.  Penny then will lead a discussion based on a dvd I haven’t seen yet.  We’ll use our video projector and screen to view it.  Can you tell this is simply a writing exercise?  I’m going to see how much I can write in 30 minutes.  Perhaps I’ll have to stop, but I plan to write for 30 minutes.

My project to tell about my lost uncle has sat idle since Crow Fair because someone told me they had lots of good feedback, but that someone didn’t have a chance to get to it, and the same someone is now busy getting out the vote in Ohio.  Possibly after the election in November?  I don’t know that I’ll hold my breath.

The “uncle” project is part true and part bullshit.  The writing group members where I attended for about six months urged me to fill in the parts of the story that I don’t know with made up stuff.  I did this and I think some of it is good, but the best things are those that are autobiographical, I am told.  Was told.  By the one who promised to write all over a draft of my book with its 34 chapters and about 100 pages.  Pretty short for a book.

In reading a novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez I am struck by the long views he takes of a 100-year period of history.  For example, he takes a look at something, then tells how things morph and live and die over the next few generations.  I am inspired.

I think I can write about my brother Tom that way.  I have his life from birth through his death.  Tom was born the same year my uncle died, in 1944.  My sister Carol was only five years old, she was born in 1939.  Carol was born in February, I was born in March, Tom was born in April.  Tom was born April 6, 1944, our uncle turned 21 in September of that year, and died in December of that year.  Christmas eve.

Tom was angry that our father died when he was a lad of nine.  Tom had been in cub scouts for a couple of years and had even done some projects with our father, but all that changed when our father died.  I never asked him about that, but for some reason Tom hated our mother, even though she always sent him money when he asked.  Tom came up with the cleverest ways of asking for money, even promising to pay it back sometimes, but I don’t know that he ever did.

I borrowed money from our mother and I did pay her back, but she didn’t spend the money.  Instead she opened a savings account in my name and deposited the money.  I remember when I withdrew the money after she died.  My friend Tad Henningsen’s father worked at the bank and when I told him that I had been in the Marines, he said that he was glad I was on the same side as he was.  I always thought that was an odd thing to say.

At this point I’ve been writing for about 15 minutes.

Tom was a mysterious fellow to me because for most of our lives we didn’t speak to each other.  Tom frequently shouted at me or called me names.  He said I was ugly and stupid and not capable of any kind of consecutive thoughts.  I think he was right, for the most part.  I know that I have become capable of consecutive thoughts through my training to be a pharmacist.  For example, many calculations need consecutive steps to solve.  They say that learning mathematics is equivalent to learning a foreign language like French.

I know Tom learned French in high school, same as I did.  I took a couple of semesters of college French, even passing them with low grades, but I abandoned French once I got out of the Marines.  I started in on Spanish to satisfy the foreign language requirement and got help from Tom’s ex-wife.  She knew how to pass a foreign language course.  You memorize the vocabulary words, she said.  I studied lists of vocab and she would come over and quiz me on them, over and over.  When I got an A in my first Spanish course I gave her a rose.  I didn’t have much money to do more than that.

I ended up taking two more semesters of Spanish, all in one summer that had two periods.  I took the courses from Jim Flightner and got A’s in each course.  Thus I got three A’s in three Spanish courses 101-102-103.  I was proud of that.  Later I took a course in Brazilian Portuguese and got an A in that.  Damned if I can speak any Spanish and certainly not any Portuguese.

I did have occasions to speak Spanish, and I can understand some Spanish when I hear it spoken on the radio or on television.  My spouse teases me, claims that I can speak Spanish fluently, but knows I can’t really speak Spanish at all.

We went to France three times, trying to research background for my book about my uncle.  Then we went to Chile, Argentina, and Costa Rica to tour around with my cousin Blaine.  The South and Central America trips would have given me ample opportunities to speak Spanish.  Oh yes, Penny, Todd, Susanna, Clara, and I went to Chihuahua, Mexico, to a place called Creel for perhaps a week.  This was just for a lark and it was one of the most fun vacations ever.

My 30 minutes of writing is up.

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