For some odd reason Autumn stirs deep memories in me. As of late I have thought a lot about my grandmother. She spoke very little English and always pronounced my name as “Ronyal”. She was a very tiny woman and a prolific rose gardener. Only now (alas, too late) do I realize what a unique link I had not only to the “old world” as a far away place but also to a person who was literally from the 19th century (she was born near Poznan, Poland on July 16,1884 and passed away near St. Cloud, Minnesota on May 22,1979).
She was very fond of wine and always made sure I had a small glass of red wine whenever we would visit her. She began offering me this glass of wine when I was quite young and my parents never objected. Maybe some of my “warm” memories are distilled by this custom. There is even a family rumor that she made bootleg Slivovitz during Prohibition.
I also fondly remember her wonderful raspberry candies. She concocted this confection from the raspberry crop she yielded each year. (there may have been a little wine or slivovitz in them but I am not sure).
So, for my entire life I have associated red roses, red wine and red raspberries with her. I also see her in my mind’s eye donning a long red winter coat and a yellow babushka.
“Babushka” has two meanings in Slavic culture. “Babushka” means grandmother and also refers to the headscarf worn by older women. In my case, the “babushka” reference held both meanings because my “Babushka” always wore one.
Click here to listen to: Babushka
(composed and performed by reynold d. philipsek
2016 copyright/zino-rephi music BMI)
Among my favorite things are books and movies. I hold these two titles in especially high esteem.
The book “Minutes of the Last Meeting” by Gene Fowler is a first hand account of the weekly gathering of Hollywood artists such as W.C. Fields, John Barrymore and others at the home of painter John Decker in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. The now obscure bohemian poet Sadikichi Hartmann is really the focal point of the book. This sometimes rude but always urbane and witty group provide an entertaining look into that world and time. Fowler was one of the better writers of his era and this book about his friends and cohorts presents an honest portrait which is not blind to their faults. The book was published in 1954.
“The Duellists” is an early (1977) Ridley Scott film based on a Joseph Conrad short story. Set in the Napoleonic period the photographic beauty of the film rivals “Barry Lyndon” in my opinion. It is a great period film and there are great performances from what would seem an unlikely cast such as Keith Carradine, Harvey Keitel, Robert Stephens and even a cameo by one of my favorite actors Albert Finney. The story is an amazingly poignant morality lesson and it is so well told that I never grow tired of it.