My mom remembered my story about looking at the moon 32 years ago, and e-mailed me her recollection of that night, which she said I can share with WWdN:iX readers:
I loved your post about the moon. I'm inspired to comment as I am one of three people in the world who shared that experience with you. I remember it like it was yesterday. I don't care about the science of it, or illusion that it may have been. I had never seen a moon like it, or have I since.
Like much of our time in the chicken coop, it was magical. Like the way the coop leaked from the bottom up when it rained, and how fearless the rats were - running through the un-insulated walls at night.
To flesh out your image, you may remember that just beyond the walnut tree - the same tree that MumMum would shake the nuts out of, before bagging them for sale in her little stand on Topanga Cyn Blvd. - was the duck pond. They were all sleeping, exhausted after a full day of teaching their babies how to swim in the blue plastic wading pond that we picked up in someone's trash. Dad made a little ramp for them so that they wouldn't all drown trying to get out. And that pasture you remember was also home to Trinket, our 20+ yr old mare, her favorite bantam rooster asleep on her withers.
Finally, you'd had enough of the moon, but Dad and I were enjoying the moment. We compromised by walking to the ice cream store - where, as usual, you were allowed to go behind the counter and get your own cone. And, as usual it melted all over your overalls, but that was ok. It bought us a few more moments of that moon.
Thanks for sharing another walk down memory lane.
MumMum was my great grandmother, and we called my great grandfather Papa. Their actual names were Daphne and Flavel, which were the funniest names I'd ever heard in my 5 years of life. I'd succumb to a fit of giggles whenever MumMum would call out to Papa, "Flavel! Come quick! Lawrence is on!" (She was referring to Lawrence Welk, who they watched so frequently on television, and called by name with such familiarity, I thought he was a close personal friend. I'm sure that, to them, he was.)
MumMum and Papa were incredible people, who came to America from Panama, where they met while he was working as an accountant for the US during the construction of the Panama Canal. They had a huge family, and lost most of their children to malaria, but you'd never know it from they way they embraced life with such unbridled joy. Aunt Val was their daughter, as was my mom's mother, Norma, who we called NuNu. They lived in the valley at a time when it was more or less a wild frontier (well, as wild as you could get in Los Angeles County in the seventies) and I thought they were awesome. This picture is of the three of us, probably taken in late 1973.
The ice cream shop my mom mentioned was a Baskin Robbins that was less than a block from our house (Google says it's still there,but our property has been apartments since the early 80s) just South on Topanga. We walked there all the time - if I was lucky, my dad would pull me in my Radio Flyer wagon - and the girls who worked behind there knew us pretty well, so I always got to walk right behind the counter and pick out my own cone, and though I don't remember wearing more than I ate, there is ample photographic evidence to back up the claim.
Wow. That just unlocked a rather lucid memory:
I don't remember why, but just before my brother was born when I was four, NuNu took me past Baskin Robbins, and across a major street that intersected Topanga. I was on my Big Wheel, and she told me that if I wanted to ride it across, "You have to stay between the white lines when we go across the busy street!"
She wasn't stern with me often, so I knew that it was really important that I listen to her. I looked at the street, and saw one wide white line stretching across in front of me. Before I could find the other line so I could stay between them, the light changed.
"Okay, we have to go fast!" She said.
I jammed my feet down on the Big Wheel's pedals, spinning the plastic wheel a couple of times before it found purchase on the ground. Because I didn't know where the other white line was, I did what I thought was the next safest thing, and carefully stayed right on top of of the bright white line.
The whole way across the street, she kept yelling at me to stay between the lines, so I gritted my teeth and held my handlebars as straight and tight as I could. We got safely across, and before I could look up to receive her fulsome praise for staying so perfectly on the line, she got really mad at me.
I don't remember exactly what she said, but I hadn't stayed between the lines, and I wasn't safe at all. On the way back, I'd have to hold her hand and pull my Big Wheel behind us.
It wasn't until months or maybe even a year later that I realized why she was so upset with me: she wanted me to stay in the crosswalk, and I'd stayed right on top of one white line, dangerously close to the traffic that was waiting for the light to change. I don't think I ever brought it up with her again, but it obviously made a strong impression on me, because I can still hear the traffic, smell the exhaust, and feel the heat radiating off the intersection while my grandmother sternly tells me to keep moving and stay between the lines.
As my mom said, magical was the best way to describe that house, and my memories of that time are magical as well: running between our chicken coop and MumMum and Papa's house, waving the stiff felt Los Angeles Dodgers pennant my parents brought me home from a playoff game while I wore a cape made from a beach towel . . . listening to a Star Trek adventure record in the TeePee my dad made for me from the big blue blanket and some broomsticks . . . playing The Gong Show in their huge kitchen with NuNu and Aunt Val . . . and watching wrestling with MumMum and Papa -- who were convinced the whole thing was real -- before their good friend Lawrence would count off "And a one, and a two . . ." before leading us all in a champagne sing along.
We didn't have much back then, and I know that my parents struggled like crazy just to make ends meet . . . but we had what really mattered: we were surrounded by the love of our family, and that made it a magical time.