Oregon Day 2
With nothing special planned for the day, we got a chance to be with the Matriarch of the family. She’s called Baba – which is actually very confusing because she has two daughters, who we also call Baba.
Worse, there’s a family code that I still don’t get. They say Baba, and depending on the inflection and the circumstance, they know exactly which Baba they’re talking about. At least I think they do.
Me: “Baba made this cake?”
“Not Baba, Baaba.”
“You’re just not getting it.”
“Now you’re just embarrassing yourself.”
So for this story, let’s call her Great Baba. To look at her, you wouldn’t think she’s in her nineties. She’s as smart as a whip, always dresses impeccably, and has more energy than I do. She’s an epic cook, mother to 4, grandmother to dozens and great grandma to half of Langley or so, and, like my Great Grandma Mac, would spend her time looking after other people.
Anyway, it didn’t look like it was going to be a busy day. Not a lot planned. The boys had hunkered down in the games room playing foosball and inventing a game of pool that largely involved trying to shoot moving balls and trying to punch each other.
So, the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world and I let them be, and decided to go to the local market with Great Baba to, you know, look at a few crafts, fondle the local produce and see if we could get a bargain.
The market was held at the community center. Wild wind whipped the white tent tops and shook the branches of the trees they were sheltered under. Unlike BC, where we came from, it was cold and misty-damp. We had to bring sweaters. Except for me. I brought a hoodie since I’m not yet ready to enter my sweater-years.
Amazingly enough, we found parking. Amazingly enough, I didn’t run over any hippies. It was a good start.
There was the usual assortment of vendors. People selling sticks, hats, mats made out of dog hair or something, a couple of farmers with baskets of produce and even a few food stands.
Great Baba and the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world took it all in like Vikings about to loot and slaughter the enemy. I half expected them to shout, “No prisoners!” as they charged into the tents.
Now, Great Baba had an eye for stuff, let me tell you. Most of the produce was not to her liking, too much vinegar had been used in the pickles she sampled and the first clothing stand, she wasn’t too impressed with.
But when we got to the quilts, she stopped and gave them a particularly good look-over.
Now you have to understand. No one makes quilts like Baba. They are womb-like. Heavy. Warm. And will last two life times. If you put one on your bed, you’ll feel no cold and the weight is like a mother’s embrace. So far, she’s made an astonishing 72, and is working on the 73rd.
She rubbed these ones with care.
“Ah, you see, this is good stitching. I cannot do that with my machine. You need one of those new ones. Not one that you have to pedal with your feet.”
“You use a pedal sewing machine?”
“Of course. I’ve had it since I was young.”
I touched the quilts. I’m not one to normally touch things. The Youngest is. He’ll touch anything, anytime. In a glass store, he makes us break out into a sweat.
“They’re not as good as yours,” I told her.
“I do not know about that. They are good, these quilts. Good quality material. Good workmanship.” She seemed impressed.
But hers were still way better.
She went on to taste whatever could be tasted. She’s like that. Always up for an adventure. Dune buggying? Sure! Skydiving? Why not? I wouldn’t be surprised if one day we’ll see her on the moon.
This is someone who has lived a great life and continues to explore everything as if she was new to this world. Plus, she had to see if people made stuff better than her. On the whole, no, but there were some nice nuts she tried.
She watched a weaver work. Chatted with the woman about technique. “This we had to do in my day,” she told us.
She eyed funny-looking walking sticks and shook her head at a sign a that asked people not to bring their guns to the market, or at least carrying them in the open. Looks like you could bring concealed weapons, though. Good to know.
Honestly, I was surprised there wasn’t anyone selling guns.
In the end, we bought a few zucchini, watched a vendor make crepes, pointed at a display of pressed flowers in picture frames, took in the sights and smells and left.
What made it such a great outing, though, was watching the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world and her Great Baba do the market. They laughed together, walked arm-in-arm, smiled and chatted with the vendors, inspected the goods and had the best time. Having lost someone too soon in life, it’s so wonderful to spend quality time with loved ones, making memories that will last a lifetime (or longer, if people print out my blogs and store in them in a water-proof, fire-proof safe in the garage.)
Thanks for this feel-good, heart-warming story, Joe!
Joe. what a tender, loving story. Your writings are always a delight to read. Thank you. Gail.
What a lovely story. I’m always slightly tempted to try quilting but thought my machine wouldn’t be good enough, it’s a hand cranked machine. I now realise I’m just making excuses. I’ve loved hearing about Great Baba she sounds amazing!