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romas

Nonna is in my dreams doing her curlers. Those pink and beige small prickly ones that every grandmother owns. The hair net. The Spanish soaps dubbed into Italian on the TV, blaring declarations of love and hate…over what? Jealousy? Revenge? Swarthy men with full heads of hair. White horses. Heaving bosoms. Passionate kisses. My dream is a Nonna re-run. Then suddenly I am out on her front porch, without a key. Sitting on the pavement. There are no red geraniums in the flower boxes. That’s what gets me.Unknown

I wake up. Why? Because Anita has texted me a picture of Italy. “Last year we were here.” Have I told her not to text me before nine? But I smile. Who can get crispy with Anita? Nobody. And that picture of Italy with Karen is worth waking up to. I am alone in my Fellow’s place, he’s out camping with the Boy. I curl up with a pillow that smells a little like a mister.

I have the whole morning to myself. When was the last time I had time alone? I can’t remember. Is this why I have been unable to write lately? No. Since Nonna’s death there have been some appalling…I can’t talk about the politics that preoccupy me.

The only upside is: the whole thing has strengthened my bond with my siblings. i know the Nonna I had. I let out the chickens and gather the eggs (Fellow has chickens) A little Italian guy next door leans over the fence, “I don’ know how, but de chick, they hop in my garden, all three. Three not four. You have four? All day I worry that one is dead i dunno.” I chuckle, “I have four. One was in the coup brooding. She is often by herself.” I thank him for gathering the hens and I head to my own place to transplant my tomato seedlings. We got some of those big ox heart romas from, again, an Italian guy.

It reminds me that I am hosting the next Pacific theatre fundraiser at the Italian Cultural Centre. I am happy to do this but also…it brings up the old shame that I don’t speak the language. Why did I let my lessons lapse?

I pass the baseball field off of Venables and there’s a huge bald eagle perched in a tree overlooking the grass. He nods at me and seems to say, “You should be outside on a day like this. Trust me, not a cloud for miles.”

Once home, I pull out my seeds and mix my earth in with my fertilizer and water and poke babies into new beds. I remember reading somewhere that working the earth actually releases some sort of “happy” and “wellness” hormone in the gardener. Some of my March seedlings have died: too dry, too thin, or never showed at all. So, I just plant them again. Artichokes and eggplants. Try try again.

I go for eight gigantic sunflowers. I push the seeds into the soft earth and smile. Unknown-1

My brother and his wife are going to have another baby. My sister, in her way, has a new path ahead of her. I just bought a house on Bowen with a Fellow and a Boy and my sweet Nora. All sorts of seedlings this spring. I stretch my back and smile as the cat hops up on the patio table to rub noses with me. A rare exchange of affection between us. This is my garden. These are my roma tomatoes. This is my culture, all around me. I have all sorts of wonderful family. My name is Lucia Frangione. I know who I am named after and not even death can take that away from me.

I head out to the theatre and once my scenes are over, I play Scrabble in the green room. I should write. I should. I have half an hour before I have to bow. I miss my blogging audience. My reading pals.

A woman sneaks into the green room, bespectacled and huddled over papers: long slender legs and a thick head of shiny brunette hair drapes down, obscuring her face as she bends over her phone. I think to myself “Boy, that looks like Alison Matthews” around the time she looks up and speaks and I recognize her liquid chocolate voice. It is! We share a warm embrace. She is apologetic for being in the greenroom (they are teaching upstairs, the Arts Club an ever revolving door). She’s trying to track down ICBC: a lady backed into her car. But Alison has a great take on it. It could have been worse, nobody was hurt, everyone is safe. A reminder how fragile life is. She tip toes away, which by all accounts is adorable. As if anyone can hear her, compared to the movement classes going on upstairs during the show, the thumping we affectionately call “baby elephants”. She turns to look back at me and winks, “I hope you’re still writing…I’m listening you know. No pressure. But I’m waiting.” Waiting for the next story to unfold.

 

 

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