Daily Archives: May 22, 2011

Let me tell you about my grandmother.

First of all, it’s Oma, not "grandmother." It’s also not "Hon" as the hospice nurse was informed on Thursday. Even though her voice was hoarse and her breath was shallow, Oma clearly and quite loudly told the nurse, "I am Hildegard."

Her favorite musical artists were Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, and Elvis Presley. In fact, I think the only reason she ever bought a video disc player, and later upgraded to VHS and DVD, was so she could watch Elvis movies when she wanted. To this day, I have a soft spot for Elvis movies. She also loved polka, I taste I never developed.

She adored Patrick Swayze. One of our numerous late evening movie expeditions to the Park 4 theater was to see Point Break. She didn’t care for it as much because Swayze was the bad guy.

She was an avid QVC shopper. Or at least an avid QVC orderer. The standard procedure was to order something, evaluate it a couple of days, and send it back. Still, her cupboards are full of gadgets and her jewelry box is a trove of diamonique.

We went to Crossroads and Westroads malls often. Not really to shop, but more to walk and see things. The Afternoon was always a favorite with their eclectic kitchenware. Long before World Market came to Nebraska, Oma would buy German candies from Brandeis when they had them: white confections with hazelnuts in the middle and chocolates that were cool like ice on the tongue.

I grew up a couple houses away from my grandparents, and therefore, always had an alternate dinner choice available to me. I always loved her roudaden and spaetzle and German pancakes with applesauce, but it wasn’t until I moved away that I gained appreciation for lentil soup and red cabbage and spinach over potatoes with an egg on top.

She bought the Star more for the crossword puzzle than the celebrity gossip. We were doing crossword puzzles at the kitchen table the night Princess Diana died. We spent winter nights doing jigsaw puzzles, Dr. Zhivago on in the kitchen where we were working, and my grandpa watching a bowl game in the other room even though he wasn’t a football fan. Sometimes, she would stay up all night finishing a puzzle.

Through more persistence than green-thumb, she planted beautiful flower beds. Two attendants from the funeral home came today, a big burly guy and a petite but strong woman, both younger than me. As my mom and grandpa where saying their last goodbyes to Oma, the woman asked about the flower beds. "There’s so many pretty things," she said.

I want to remember all the pretty things and not the last year. And I wish you all would have known Oma so you would remember her too.

2 Nebula Novellas

I only managed to read two of the nominated novellas before the awards were given out this past weekend. Rachael Swirsky’s “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window” won in the novella category. In the short story category, Kij Johnson’s “Ponies” and Harlan Ellison’s  “How Interesting: A Tiny Man” tied. I never got to the novelettes. Maybe I’ll catch the winner “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” by Eric James Stone in my Hugo reads.

Here are my notes:

“The Sultan of the Clouds”, Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine 9/10) – Lots of sci-fi glitz! I appreciate that our POV character is the secondary character, the Dr. Watson, or maybe just the third wheel. Didn’t care for the end. It came fast and was maybe too heroic.

“The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window”, Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Magazine Summer ’10) – Not my favorite of Swirsky’s stories. It got too big, in my opinion. I like her stories when they’re more intimate. The first half worked for me, but not the latter half.