Oddments

In search of story


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November 28.20: Coping

My grandmothers were daughters of immigrants. One grew up in a Chicago tenement; the other grew up in the coal country of Pennsylvania.

What does this have to do with me in a plastic tent? Making do.

Do you know about making do, dear reader? It’s a way of life when you don’t have what you need or want. You make do with what you have. Just ask my grandmas.

Am I saying that making do today is the same as what it was for my great-grandparents? Hardly. But the inventiveness to make do may be the same.

My son, daughter-in-law, and grandkids hosted Thanksgiving most inventively on their deck. The temperature squeaked to 50 with a nip and it could have been cold. But they made do in most remarkable ways: I had a Granny Tent! They tell me this amazing contraption is for watching soccer games. But with one old lady and one heater it is a regal Granny Tent. Add one old arthritic Jack Russell on the arthritic old lady’s lap, and a blanket around both, and you have the perfect toasty throne, the shedding of the Jack Russell not exactly an ermine cape but still a thoughtful contribution to layered warmth.

(The Jack Russell came post-dessert, needless to say. Their two dogs spent the entirety of Thanksgiving dinner making Precious Moments eyes at us. They wanted turkey but had to make do with warm laps.)

Most certainly we cannot make do when it comes to grief and human loss. But for those who tried to celebrate Thanksgiving carefully, there must have been a national make-do movement. Many made do with Zoom. Some made do with soccer tents. Therein, and not in the familiar table, lies tradition.

 

 


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November 23.20: Coping

Fear is served,

heaped, cold, on unseen platter

where empty table

speaks to us.

There was picnic once,

soda fizz

and bright mustard,

where now only air

teasing whispers from

dry grass.

In barren quiet

the words come:

what if I’m the only one?

 

 

In this country, dear reader, we enter Thanksgiving week torn. No: shredded. How do we celebrate isolation and dread? If we try to “count our blessings,” how are we not trivializing the losses among us?

 

More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg for this poignant image.

 


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November 14.20: Coping

The fireworks of fall

though silent be their boom

revel in explosion

of pyrotechnic bloom.

 

 

 

Today is my mom’s birthday, a gardener down to her toes.

She’s long gone to God, but I know she’d love these mums.

She’d also tell me to wipe my feet, the official Mom Greeting.

So happy 102nd birthday, Evelyn Mauck O’Hern!


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November 7.20: Coping

As I clutched my morning coffee

and sought some inspiration,

I searched election-day sky

in vacuous contemplation.

And there it was, the message

amid chaotic fall:

there’s always more than one way

to rise above it all.

 

 

To be sure, dear reader, I have not risen above it all; I’m loony and weary and full of opinions. When I try to rise above it all, I just thud down. And so it was that I watched these hardy folks float over my head and accused them of taking the easy way. Which is definitely not to say that I wanted to be up there with them! Mocking gravity while dangling in a basket is not my idea of rising above.

 


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November 3.20: Coping

Beset by inane logorrhea,

I turn to time-honored idea:

when the world goes askew,

make you some goo,

the original holistic panacea.

 

Here we are, dear reader, in this country, in desperate need of goo. “From sea to shining sea” used to refer to the beauty of the land; now it refers to angst, despair, fear, rage, frustration, isolation, loneliness, and profound exhaustion. And it is likely true that wherever you live it is the same. You might not have an election to deal with, but you likely have illness and death and uncertainty and loneliness stalking you. I offer you this goo by way of saying I wish I could make things better for all of us.