The other night my family and I were sitting in the family room with the fireplace going and the three candles pictures here lit. The sound was that of paper crinkling up, or of fire eating some newspaper. Oh, and that's Jon in the wooden urn. Behind the urn is a large mirror that's recently been hung there to further emphasize the urn, and the associated portraits and candles; the mirror replaces a mammoth wreath, beige in color, and prone to dropping little nuggets of potpourri should it be brushed or nudged ever. For reasons that will be made clear in two sentences' time, it's good that the wreath was replaced. No one could determine the source of the sound at first. Then it became clear, despite the dimness, that there was a rivulet of wax running down the mantle. Further investigation revealed that the rivulet was running rather healthily - was a river, even. Wax splatter everywhere. One theory goes that the heat from the fireplace was blown by the fan, back up toward the candles, and the candles that had previously burned w/o a problem became imbalanced and lost integrity. The best side effect, as you can see, is a striking waterfall or roostertail pattern to the spillage, which, in an act of forbearance largely alien to this neat family, we allowed to harden and remain.
Flash forward to today, when I'm prising the wax spatter up with a playing card, a Joker. Dad comes home and after some assorted banter tells us the story of when he was a boy of seven in Venezuela, when his grandmother Katerina would soothe his nightmares by - get this - lying him down on the floor, placing a pot of cold water on his belly, and pouring into the water a good portion of melted solder. My grandfather, Dad's dad, worked as a Mercedes Benz mechanic and had regular access to bearing and couplings that were no longer needed, and was able to bring such meltable metal trinkets home for his mother-in-law to use in her divinations. The solder, of course, hardened as soon as it hit the water, and via whatever shape it happened to assume in the sudden change of phase it would reveal the nature of the thing that was frightening my father.
I wonder if this would work in a predictive capacity: would it allow me to see what will be a source of fear, or danger? Or does it work solely in a Freudian, dream-analysis, horoscope sort of way. A physical Rorschach test: a boy might see a vampire bat, you might see that tree you fell out of at 11 years of age, I might see a little pewter self seated not at the head of a oak table of undergrads. We see what occupies our minds when we think they're not on.
Opinions differed as to the "strange" or "weird" aspect to this practice. Much of the consternation hinged on the idea that this cold water + solidified solder was meant to represent the actual culling-forth of evil spirits from the body. I think it's more interpretative and less literal than that. And more symbolic: I think I would appreciate a cultural proclivity to prepare to extract the warped pewtery manifestation of whatever it is that's troubling me. Similarities certainly exist between this practice and more inane Madame Helga pop-divination: horoscopes, tossing wet noodles at walls, Magic 8-Balls. Is this soldering any stranger than those?
In the mail: a letter from the Larimer Co. Medical Examiner's office, in which the Deputy Coroner / Investigator writes a short note and encloses copies of the Disposition form my parents filled out. When someone passes away and owns firearms, the next of kin must deal with what's called Weapon Disposition: it's their right to determine whether they want to inherit the weapon, or have the weapon sold (the proceeds from which may be either donated to some civic department, i.e. the Coroner's or the Police Dept., or may go to the family). Another option, and the most attractive for survivors of suicides involving firearms, is to have the weapon destroyed. That's what we opted for. After the filled-out forms, there were digital photos of the shotgun, which was a 12-gauge Remington, black as jet and surprisingly large, in these sort of Before and After shots. No lingering over the process of dismantling: just A) here's the shotgun on a blue tarp, then B), bam, the shotgun has been taken apart and parts of it have been hacksawed in two. Which effects an instantaneity similar to the Event itself, A) alive and B) not, but this snap-of-the-fingers effect was good to experience. It's good to use the past tense to talk about this weapon. The D.C. said it best, actually, in his short but colorful note: he hopes that it will do us good to know "that this weapon is nothing but several paper weight sections at the bottom of a scrap metal barrel here in Loveland CO." That does do me good. I also appreciate the earnest feel to statements such as "I sure wish I had a magic wand to hit you with that would bring Jonathan back into your lives again!" I sure wish that too.
PHOTO ESSAY ON A RECENT DINNER
Nothing special - just peppers and onions sauteeing for the fajitas. Previous to this shot in the essay, my mother's holding up a block of butter - holding it up right in the face of my protestations! - as she says "Savor life!" in a very happy, over-the-top sort of way.
Here's a trick when cooking with seafood or chicken - but not red meats - squeeze citrus right onto the meat as you sautee it. That's a garlic press I'm using to wrench lime juice from half of a mini-lime. Citrus is also a fine marinade.
I had less to do with this result than I'd like to make it sound. Chicken, steak, and shrimp.
A typical spread. Remember, when assembling fajitas, sour cream and salsa goes on first; use the same technique pizza guys use to sauce their pizza pies. Another trick: crush tortilla chips in your fists and sprinkle them over the sour creamed and salsa-ed tortilla.
This meal used to be among Jon's favorites. Shrimp, steak, chicken, a poor man's surf-and-turf. I ate three. I would have challenged him to eat more. He would have won. I miss him.