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Posts Tagged ‘what’s in a name’

Meet The Cherimoya, Golden Valley, Minnesota, March 2010, all photos © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


For me, grocery shopping will forever be a chore. Instead of rolling down the aisles with a wire cart, you might find me snooping around the deli section or hiding over by the Redbox machine. Last week was different. An ordinary trip to our local, and newly remodeled, Byerly’s (which opened in 1968 as the largest supermarket in Minnesota) sent me running to the fruit and veggie aisle. Waves of sea, grass, and olive greens chased the crimson, rufous, and cherry reds that lined the shelves in a visual feast. I admit, I’m not very adventurous when it comes to food. Especially, exotic fruits and vegetables. But then, exotic depends on your point of view.

When Liz plucked this armadillo shelled brown fruit off the shelf and pointed to its scale-like skin, I had to know more. Standing right there, next to the bananas and golden grape tomatoes, she Googled cherimoya on her BlackBerry. Names like soursop, custard apple, and strangealiendeathfruit popped up, along with a quote from Mark Twain describing the cherimoya as deliciousness itself. What? A literary fruit? I was hooked.

The cherimoya is believed to be indigenous to the inter-Andean valleys of Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia. Its cultivation spread in ancient times to Chile and Brazil. And though some think the cherimoya comes from Peru, others insist that the fruit was unknown in that region until seeds were sent by P. Bernabe Cobo from Guatemala in 1629, and that representations of the cherimoya on ancient Peruvian pottery are actually images of the soursop.

Wherever its origins, the cherimoya is the fruit that spread round the world. It is commonly grown and naturalized in temperate areas of Costa Rica and other countries of Central America. In 1757, it was carried to Spain where it remained a dooryard tree until the 1940’s and 50’s when it gained importance in the Province of Granada as a replacement for orange trees that succumbed to disease.

In 1785, the cherimoya traveled to Jamaica, then Haiti, and in 1790 to Hawaii by way of Don Francisco de Paulo Marin. The first planting in Italy was in 1797 where it became a favored crop in the Province of Reggio Calabria, before making its way to Madeira in 1897, then the Canary Islands, Algiers, Egypt, Libya, and Somalia.

The  U.S. was a late bloomer. Seeds from Mexico were planted in California in 1871. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture imported cherimoya seeds from Madeira in 1907. Though the trees have not done well in Florida, California had 9,000 trees in 1936, many of them killed by a 1937 freeze. Several small commercial orchards were established in the 1940’s, and, at present, there may be less than 100 acres in the milder parts of San Diego County, making this a rare fruit in this country.


The Wave, The Tomatillo, My Favorite Byerly’s, Golden Grape Tomatoes, Visual Feast, Golden Valley, Minnesota, March 2010, all photos © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Strange fruit. Because we didn’t know enough about the cherimoya to know if it was ripe or not, I still haven’t tasted one. Now I know that a ripe cherimoya will usually be dark green (though this is dependent on the variety), have a loosening stem, and give to the touch in much the same way as an avocado. The flavor is described as a mixture of mango, papaya, bananas and coconut. And the inside ranges in color from light green, to off white, to pink.

Yes, pink — from a tree that originated as a seedling, owned by a California man named Mr. Stevenson. Rumors suggest the pink cherimoya originates from very high elevations in the Andes. I’d like to pick up a cherimoya the next time I’m at Byerly’s. How adventurous are your taste buds? Have you ever tasted the cherimoya, tomatillo, or mangosteen? Tell us about your taste experiences with (what are considered this country) exotic fruits and vegetables.


Resources:

The Cherimoya, Jewel of the Incas – at CloudForest Fruits

Cherimoya – at NewCROP, Horticulture & Landscape Architecture, Purdue University

The Fruit Mark Twain & I Both Love – at the Grocery Fiend

Manual of Tropical & Subtropical Fruits: Excluding the Banana, Coconut, Pineapple, Citrus Fruits, Olive & Fig by Wilson Popenoe, Agricultural Explorer – Harvard University Library, published by the Macmillan Company, 1920

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Here’s what I know. Mom and Dad were living on Neat Lane in Albuquerque’s south valley. There were four kids at home, three girls and a boy. Larry had been the youngest, he was four, and Mom and Dad were hoping for a boy to play with him. That’s one of the details of my birth that I grew up knowing.

I also grew up knowing that I was named after my mom’s mom and that Dad hadn’t wanted to name me that but they’d run out of names. They’d named the oldest daughter Patricia, after mom’s brother Pat. The next one Roberta, after Mom’s other brother, Robert. Janet must have gotten a name that came with no obligations; just a name that Mom and Dad liked. Larry, or Lawrence—his must have been a name they liked, too. I can’t think of any Larrys in the family. And then when I was girl, they gave me Roma. And Mom always says that grandma was “tickled.”

Mom had me in a hospital. The old Saint Jo’s. Whenever we drove on the freeway out to Los Lunas, Mom would point off toward the new St. Joseph’s and say, “See the older building? That’s where you were born.” All these years I thought it was this really old building that is about two or three stories, made of thick granite stone that has turned a sooty gray. I had taken to pointing it out whenever we were near there and telling my girls that that was where I was born. But just the other day, when I took my mom to the new St. Jo’s to get eye surgery, she pointed to a different old building and said that one was the old hospital. “Well, what’s that building over there,” I asked. “Oh, that’s the old sanitarium.”

So all this time, the place where I thought I had been born was actually the old mental institution. It was a letdown to know that the old St. Jo’s was not nearly as old looking. It just looked like a lesser, worn-down hospital.

I do know that back in the days when Mom had her kids, they let mothers stay for three or so days afterward in order to recuperate. I imagine that must have been the calm before the storm. Back home, waiting, there were a 4-year-old, a 6-year-old, a 10-year-old, and a 12-year-old. Wow. Just tonight I went shopping with the girls for two hours and afterward, on the drive home, the girls were chatty and excited, and I had to say, “Hey you two, I’m a little overwhelmed so can we drive the rest of the way in silence?”

They were good about it, and so was I. Mom would have just screamed, “I can’t stand it anymore!” Poor Mom. Five kids is an awful lot to have.

That’s about all I know of my birth story. Everything fast forwards from there on out to when I got sick with the croup and the emergency tracheotomy. It’s funny, though. I can picture them coming back home with me. I think in those days moms held their infants in their laps in the car. I’m pretty sure Dad had a big car. I’ve seen a big car in the old photos. And I picture Dad and Mom walking into the small house they had, and all the kids being excited. I wonder if Larry was disappointed. I bet he was.

I think I slept in a crib in Mom and Dad’s bedroom for my first year, maybe two. I remember sharing a room with Janet, and did Larry share a room with us, too? I know the house only had a couple of bedrooms. Dad converted the garage into a den. There are a lot of gaps in my memory about the house on Neat Lane.

I don’t have a baby book, but we had lots of old pictures. I was in plenty of them, often being held up on Dad’s knee for the camera. And we have lots of old movies. Jim took them and had some made into a video for my parents’ 50th. Or was it for their 60th?




-Related to topic post WRITING TOPIC – 3 QUESTIONS. [NOTE: This is the third of three questions mentioned by actor and writer Anna Deavere Smith in an interview with Bill Moyers (see link). She talked about the questions in the context of interviewing people and listening to them. The three questions came from a linguist Smith met at a cocktail party in 1979; the questions were, according to the linguist, guaranteed to break the patterns and change the way people are expressing themselves. QuoinMonkey, ybonesy, and frequent guest writer Bob Chrisman take on the three questions by doing a Writing Practice on each.]

-Also related to posts: PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by ybonesy), PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman), PRACTICE — Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by QuoinMonkey), PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman); PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? — 15min (by ybonesy), and PRACTICE — Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? — 15min (by QuoinMonkey); PRACTICE: Do You Know The Circumstances Of Your Birth? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman)

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Her name was Romey. Not her real name. Romey was her nickname, the name on her checks. Where she was from you could use your nickname in your checkbook.

She carried a leather purse, hard leather tooled with elaborate scenes. A man on a horse or flowers set among borders. I think she had more than one, they came from Mexico, and when she died I purposely arrived a day late to the divvying out of her belongings. Nothing she had left could make up for what I lost, but when I saw the purse unclaimed I asked for it.

I’m named after her. People ask me all the time where I got my name. Mom just yesterday told someone that Grandma had wanted Mom to name one of her children after Grandma. Mom waited until she ran out of kids, and knowing I was the last chance to fulfill Grandma’s request, Mom gave me the name.

We all thought it was an ugly name when I was young, a name similar to other old lady names—Velma, Erma, Mona, Ramona—except worse because no one had heard of it. Now we know it’s a beautiful name.

I got her curly hair, too. Mom always says I must have got my hair from Grandma. And her sometimes bad temper. And her love of gossip.

She loved reading National Enquirer. The intrigue of alien babies born to earthling mothers. She insisted that the funny little redhead who showed up in deviled ham commercials and talked with a lisp was actually an old lady midget. She’d read it in the National Enquirer.

She taught us to make butter and play Black Jack, and it dawns on me that she was a pioneer woman, living an isolated life on a ranch with her kids and chores and when she got old, her soap operas and plants and apricot poodle named Dukie.

She taught us to all turn the faces of Abraham Lincoln on our penny bets to face the dealer, so that Lincoln would send the evil eye and prevent any possible stroke of luck the dealer might have. It worked; Grandma always won at Black Jack.

She had the bluest eyes, they got lighter the older she got. People ask me how I birthed a daughter with green-blue eyes when my own and Jim’s are brown. I carry Grandma’s blue eyes in a recessive gene, I tell them. Her curly brown hair, her smooth olive skin, her fiery temper, her name, and the hidden jewel of her light blue eyes.

She cooked, she knitted, she sewed quilts from old dresses. I have a blanket that covers the fashion trends of her day: paisley prints and flowers and Day-glo orange, pink, and yellow.

I still regret the time Tina and I bugged her for days asking if she’d leave us this thing or that thing when she died. We were young, 13 and 14, or 12 and 13, and we got on a kick, loving all of Grandma’s ranch house knick-knacks. She was annoyed with us, and still we persisted, pointing to a painting of a horse or an ashtray or a wooden bowl. Can I have that one, Grandma? How ’bout that one? And that one?

Later Grandma gave me a wool blanket that Grandpa had brought her from Mexico. I was in my 20s. I wonder if she remembered the time we wanted to take her with us in bits and pieces thinking we could hold on to her forever.




-related to Topic post:  WRITING TOPIC — GRANDMOTHERS

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Edges, Augusta, Georgia, June 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved



I continue to pore through photographs and tapes of my trip to Georgia and South Carolina last summer.

“What’s taking you so long?” Monkey Mind yells from the wings (grabbing every opportunity to scratch his haunches).

“It’s a slow process, excavating the past,” I soberly reply. “Don’t rush me.”



Family history rises from the rich, black compost – memories, stories, memories of stories, sail by, like wispy transparent dots in front of my eyes. Then sink to the bottom while I digest. Pieces of kelp and seaweed. A crab leg floats by. Sometimes fresh catfish on the grill. Everything is grist for the mill.

When we drove from cemetery to cemetery last June, I listened to my parents recall details of their lives. I taped their voices (a gold mine). I took hundreds of photographs of the things left behind:  ancient magnolias, crumbling brick, historic churches, lazy rivers, proud neighborhoods, rundown housesantebellum architecture, and chiseled headstones. So many headstones.

My eyes sweep the marble and granite for the slightest hint of who my ancestors were:  dates, places of birth and death, poetic epitaphs. And names.

But what’s in a name?



Edges, Augusta, Georgia, June 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reservedEdges, Augusta, Georgia, June 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reservedEdges, Augusta, Georgia, June 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reservedEdges, Augusta, Georgia, June 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved



My sister is the namesake of my great, great Aunt Cassie. One of my brothers is named in honor of my uncle who died less than a month before I was born. Another brother is named after his grandfather and is a III. And yet another is named after his dad and is a Junior (yes, it’s complicated in my family!).

My mother’s middle name is her dad’s first name with -ine on the end (this is common in the South). My grandfather’s middle name doesn’t sound like a birth name at all, but more like a last name. And I want to make a point of asking Mom if his middle name is generational, and is really his mother’s last name.

Whew!

Remember that song, The Name Game written and sung by Shirley Ellis in 1964? (If not, please feel free to refresh your memory by watching the video! It’s a real blast from the past.). The lyrics go something like this:

The name game!

Shirley!
Shirley, Shirley bo Birley Bonana fanna fo Firley
Fee fy mo Mirley, Shirley!

Lincoln!
Lincoln, Lincoln bo Bincoln Bonana fanna fo Fincoln
Fee fy mo Mincoln, Lincoln!

Shirley Ellis used to take requests and make a rhyme out of anybody’s name. It’s crazy, but this song was a HUGE hit when I was a kid. People love to hear the sound of their own names.



Edges, Augusta, Georgia, June 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reservedEdges, Augusta, Georgia, June 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reservedEdges, Augusta, Georgia, June 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reservedEdges, Augusta, Georgia, June 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved



The Name Game. Many of us don’t use our real names on our blogs. Others do. But we don’t have to reveal our birth names to talk about where they came from.

Who are you named after? Do you know the historical origin of your last name (or is your last name hyphenated to preserve your mother’s history). What about your first? Do you know another person with the same name? Were you named after someone famous? Or did your parents choose your name because they loved the sound of it. Or wanted to make you stronger (a boy named Sue?).

When we are long gone, our names are the one thing that will live on through time. My great, great grandmother wanted to be remembered by the things she loved. What epitaph would you want next to your name?



Her Life Was Simple, Augusta, Georgia, June 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved

   Her Life Was Simple, and Edges,
   Augusta, Georgia, June 2007, all photos
   © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, March 13th, 2008

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