Nine O’ clock on a Sunny spring morning, a hot cup of coffee, and some of Yiayia’s excellent κουλουράκι, (homemade cookies to die for), three current newspapers on the kitchen table to choose from, and of course, Yiayia, sitting at the table, while sipping her coffee, reading her paper; pen and pad Bye her saucer, two pair of glasses, a third she wore, telephone Bye her side and was all ready to evaluate the day to come.
“Andoni, did you see this?” Yiayia asks, putting down the paper and pointing at an article.
I looked over and put my paper down for a minute. “Oh yes, I saw that.” It was a pastoral picture of a nearby lakeside campground. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it Mah, I’m going there camping next month.”
“I know,” Yiayia said, “That’s why I showed it to you.”
“Mah, you should go down there sometime, it’s so peaceful and quiet,” I said.
“Yeahsure,” she said, “so isn’t the cemetery, but I live in a house like people, not in the woods like Zon, (animals),” she retorted.
I looked at her, “Now what brought that on, the fact that I’m going camping, or the fact there are animals in the woods. Ahh, that’s it,” raising my eyebrows like I just won a prize. “Not just any animals, but pigeons.”
“Yes,” she said, turning her head towards me, looking up from her glasses. They go all over my car. They make a mess; they make me the laughing stalk of the neighborhood.”
“Mother, the whole neighborhood is like that, everybody’s car is like that.”
“No, not everybody; John, next door doesn’t have that,” she said.
“He just got here; they haven’t seen his car yet. Don’t worry Mah, they’ll get him too.”
“Ohsure, but they got my car first. Why? What possessed them?”
“I don’t know, Mah. Maybe they’re on the lookout for big red Lincolns.”
There it is; I knew there was a method to this mad conversation. Why is it, I can never see it coming. It’s the Yiayia logic . . . moves in mysterious ways. From a picture in the paper of a campground, to getting me to wash the car; of course she could’ve just asked, but that’s not how Yiayia logic moves.
“Okay, Mah, don’t worry about it, I’ll clean it up,” nodding a humble yes.
“Good . . . ., make sure you wear the blue gloves.”
“And make sure you do the back window too.”
“Yup; the back window too,” I said.
“Maybe take out the front rugs and rinse them off.”
“Got it; front rugs.”
“But not now,” Yiayia said tapping my hand. “Have more coffee and read the paper.”
This conversation was now over. We commenced going back to sipping coffee, and reading the newspapers.
The doorbell rang, “Come in”, Yiayia shouted from the table. Yiayia always kept the front door ajar in the morning for expected guests, like me and others.
It was Patty the post girl with the morning mail. She came in with a big smile for both of us.
“Hi Patty,” Yiayia said, “honey help yourself to some coffee.” Patty poured a quick cup and brought Yiayia her morning mail where she and Yiayia went over the junk mail deciding which is likely to be given a second look, and which ones to toss now. She stayed long enough for all of us to share a quick point of view on the weather, and then she started toward the front door.
“Bye Yiayia, Bye Donnie,” Patty said.
“Bye honey, don’t forget the brown package on the counter,” Yiayia said. After Patty left Yiayia turned to me and explained to me that Patty gets very hungry around noon, she likes tuna on rye bread for lunch. As Yiayia explained this she picked up the pen and wrote on the pad, ‘buy more tuna fish.’
The smell and taste of a nice tuna fish on rye, but with pickles swept through my mind. Before I could even begin to mouth a possible future request, I saw Yiayia pick up her pen, and write on her pad, ‘buy pickles’. She read my mind, nothing new there. She put down the pen, and we both went back to sipping coffee and reading the news.
The phone rang just as Yiayia started to reach for it. “Bobby, is that you? She said, how have you been dear?”
It was Bobby Finn, who lived across the street. He was known in the neighborhood as a Mr. fix-it, the man who could fix almost anything, and just an all-around great neighbor. They chatted for a good five minutes while I read the paper, and strained my ears to listen in. All I could get was something to do with paint, dirt, and a donkey. When she hung up, she picked up her paper and started reading.
This went on for several minutes, but then I had to know.
I put down my paper, “Was that Bobby Finn?”
No answer. Yiayia has developed a small case of hearing loss in her upper years that can be a disadvantage at times; so she tells us. I believe she’s developed a large case of selective hearing which is more a tool than a disadvantage, and is used when and where she deems necessary. (Chapter 4, verse 2 in the official Yiayia rule book: ‘How to use selective hearing’.)
I raised my voice, “Mother?”
“Andoni, stop yelling at me; what’s wrong with you? I’m right here, not down the street.”
“I’m not yelling, I just wanted to know who you were talking to.” I said.
“When?” asked Yiayia.
“Just now,” I said.
“Why?” asked Yiayia.
“Mah, was that Bobby Finn on the phone.”
“Yes, it was.” She said, rather matter-of-factly.
“Mah, was that about the Donkey, because I told you . . .”
“Andoni, don’t start with me.” She said in warning kind of way.
Yiayia has had a large stone donkey statue, about as big a large dog, hauling a pot of flowers; as her main lawn ornament for decades, and the last few winters have taken its toll; it was in need of much repair. I have been studying the whole situation, for years now, watching its decline, and had been planning a surprise repair in the future . . . someday.
“Mah, this is easy, I was planning to start soon,” I assured her.
“Yeahsure, we’ll all be dead by then.”
I gave her a smug look, “Oh come-on Mom, what makes you think Bobby’s the only one that can do that, and I can’t.
She looked at me intensely and said, “because, you want to live in the woods with the Zon.”
“Wha . . .” There was no answer to that, it was a rabbit whole best avoided.
We both instantly forgot about it, and again went back to leisurely sipping our coffee and reading our papers awaiting the next morning event in an ordinary day with Yiayia and Son of Yiayia.
THIS IS THE LAST INSTALLMENT FOR A WHILE.
I WILL BE TAKING A HIATUS FROM THIS BLOG PREPARING NEW AND IMPROVED EPISODES FOR CHAPTERS IN AN UPCOMING BOOK, OF COURSE ENTITLED,
SON OF YIAYIA
Check back now and then for updates on
the upcoming book, and thank you for the fabulous responses,