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Lola Rennt

Annabel Lee

And this maiden she lived with no other thought than to love and be loved by me

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Tarragon soda and grapevines
I have a big love for all things sweet: candy, cookies, cakes, and soda. Left to my own devices I eat like a 5 year old who has just discovered freedom. Today I dined on waffles and hot cocoa, and for some reason I started craving tarragon soda.

I think the reason I ever liked it in the first place was that it would always remind me of my great aunt, who used to make tarragon syrup every summer and each of the grandchildren got a large bottle. And then you’d stick a couple of spoonfuls in a cup of water, and it was just about the best drink you could ever dream of. The last bottle I got was this dark heavy tinted glass bottle with a paper sign written with my auntie’s wavering hand, which was stained with the green syrup. It held the flavor of childhood. My auntie’s meat pierogies, into the filling of which she used to mix a generous portion of rice, to be able to make enough for everyone in our once incredibly large extended family, are filed under the same category of “flavor of childhood”.

Grandma Zabelle was this little weathered woman of incredible strength and vitality. Born in Van, she had lived through the genocide, two World Wars, through losing both her brothers and her husband, through a lot of personal pain, but one thing that always struck you about her was how upbeat and industrious she always was. She could make something out of nothing. Nothing was ever thrown out in that house, but rather it found a new life as something else: jackets were socks, were rugs, were scouring rags; yesterday’s leftovers were baked into today’s pie; etc. To me she was the epitome of womanhood: strong, independent, self-sufficient, and yet endlessly caring, loving and soft. The cares and the worries never hardened her demeanor, but rather made her more motherly and doting. What other profession could this woman have but being a school nurse?

Years later I found out something rather unbelievable about grandma Zabelle: she had a large tattoo of a grapevine on her left breast that my dad had seen as a small child when she took him with her to a Russian bath.

An incredible woman indeed.