We had a cistern for water. My grandmother churned butter and made lye soap. She and my mother did the washing in a wash kettle outdoors, using a fire to heat the water. That's the way they did the wash until the 1950s.
I lived on the farm with my parents and grandparents. I had no playmates as a young child, and I was indulged. I helped my grandmother piece quilts, and we made pretty albums, an old-fashioned pastime. We cut poems and pictures out of magazines.
The thing that always attracted me to New York was the sense of being in a place where a lot of people had a lot of stories not unlike mine. Everybody comes from somewhere else. Everyone's got a Polish grandmother, some kind of metamorphosis in their family circumstances. That's a very big thing - the experience of not living where you started.
I love a good breakfast - grits and eggs, French toast, turkey bacon. My grandmother on my father's side used to make tea cakes, and her breakfasts were unbelievable. There was fresh ham, and she would go out to the yard to get fresh eggs. She lived in rural Louisiana, and we'd spend summers with her.
My grandmother. She's someone I never met, and I would've loved to have met her. She's been a huge influence on our entire family, not just me. She is a mystery. It's not clear exactly what about her is truth and myth.
I grew up in a house full of women: my mother, grandmother, three sisters, and two female cats. And I still have the buzz of their conversations in my head. As an adult, I have more female friends than male ones: I just love the way that women talk.