We’ll start – where? I don’t know. The first day of summer; Daughter and I share a peach, juice running down our chins.

I’ve been going through my books; weeding, setting them free, sharing the wealth, lightening my load, all of the above. I tried to set certain limits on I would keep, because I am nothing if not undisciplined and sentimental. And greedy, but that’s for another day. One of the keeper categories was “philosophy.” The book in the photo is “The Story of Philosophy,” by Will Durant. Didn’t think much of it when I ran across it, just set it in the keep pile and went on. And now, because it is summer, I am in the mood to read philosophy. (I don’t know how that happens. I know it’s traditional to read light murder mysteries and ghost stories, but my head always turns to books that are heavy and require notes and a dictionary.) So, I picked this volume up to read with my lunch today. Opening the cover, I realized it was one of my Aunt Joyce’s books, from the piles stashed in my grandmother’s basement. Aunt Joyce, she of the published urban legend about Red Waldorf cake and the family legend of the fancy party with the plate of dried apricots to which Aunt Joyce exclaimed, “Oh, look! Ears.”

The flowers, and my mother’s too shady back yard, and my grandmother’s precise and immaculate weed-free borders. Aunt Joyce, again, with her peach trees watered (and fed) with greywater from the washing machine, although that was more Crazy Uncle Bill’s doings.

But the pens. The top one, the shiny black Rotring techno-precise tool, a present from a good friend. The one with the fancy ink from Noodler’s, the lucky pen that I’ve been using to fill out papers and write letters because it has the marvelous burgundy ink that flows so smooth. The bottom one, the big fat clunky Rotring techno-geek monster, model discontinued and on sale, the one with the funky grip that took months to get used to, the one that stays on the sketch pad in what passes for my purse. It’s got old Pelikan ink that is crunchy and grainy, and that used to be blue-grey, but is now only grey.

In the middle; the upper one, the Parker hiding her face, is my mother’s pen. She’s got that Pelikan ink in her too. She’s the one that got me looking at inks and ink colors, because she deserves something better than that crunchy dull grey. I want to put a bright peacock blue in her, or some sort of flame color, because once I started using her for my day-to-day things, checks and return addresses, I started dreaming about my mother and seeing her in her true form – a small but intense ball of energy, a power.

And the black one, with the gold band. That’s one of my father’s pens, a Shaeffer Premiere. He was a court reporter, old school style – pen and notebook – a tape recorder for back-up. The ones he was using when he died disappeared; I never asked where they went. This one, I remember my whole life, put away in that one drawer in the cupboard that held the good china, the one where so many odd little relics washed up. I can smell that drawer; I can inventory the contents; they never changed. Little bits; a pink porcelain ring box with a white rose on the top, where my mother kept her first wedding band after it broke and she had the stones reset, and a thimble, old . A glass box, with an old watch and that newspaper clipping of my dad’s birth announcement; the courthouse in the town where he was born had burnt down, and he needed to have proof of where he was born; no one to issue a birth certificate. All these things turned up again in the Great Paring of Possessions; I consulted the web and found a wonderful lady to fix him. I haven’t put ink in him yet. I’m waiting for a sense of being open, because I think when I take this one up, I’ll see my father clearly too. And I want to be ready. The pen isn’t really black; it’s a deep, deep brown with golden flecks, like the tiger’s eye ring he used to own. Highlights hidden deep down.

Other memories come up; like Proust, all wound up in smells. My mother at her desk, headphones on, typing up court transcripts, the smell of the typewriter and the clunk of the footpedal stopping and starting the tape player.

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