Oddments

In search of story


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June 24.22: Coping, but barely

The seed speaks

in snowy mound

pledge and mandate:

life is round.

In revolution

measured, steady,

resurrection

at the ready,

turning, turning,

seed to seed,

to shade, to soothe,

to thrill, to feed.

In cycles spoked

by dark and light,

gardener’s sure

gem├╝tlichkeit.

 

You may recall, dear reader, the tiny green shoots I spotted in the gravel — in the gravel! — my first summer here. Snapdragons? I so carefully dug them up and transplanted them. And now their descendants bloom like a petticoat ruffle, smugly cautioning me never ever to underestimate life.

 


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June 19.22: Coping, but barely

Back when television was young, as was I, a commercial played this ditty:

“You’ll wonder where the yellow went

when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent,”

which my dad sang as

“You’ll wonder where the yellow went

when you brush your teeth with fresh cement.”

Along in those same years, I asked my dad why we don’t have an A in our last name. We spell it O’Hern but a whole lot of folks spell it O’Hearn and are ever sticking the A in our name as though it belongs there. So what happened to it?

“Our ancestors, “said Dad, “were horse thieves. In an effort to evade the police, they dropped the A from their last name.” The moral of the story being, I assumed, that our ancestors were horse thieves and halfwits.

Apparently slow of wit myself, I asked Dad one day how he felt the first time he held me. “Wet,” he said. So sweetly sentimental.

To dads everywhere, I wish all good things. It isn’t easy to be a dad. But know this: when you see your offspring rolling their eyes and shaking their heads at your stories and jokes, you know you have achieved immortality. Dad jokes never die. Happy Fathers’ Day!

 

The dad in the photo is my son,

whose offspring have indeed been known to roll their eyes.

Good work, Dad!


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June 17.22: Coping, but barely

I grew up with parents who were obsessively, preternaturally, neurotically, vociferously adamant about language. Certain kinds of words were categorically forbidden, among them the so-called four-letter words. My parents maintained that such words were a sign of an inadequate vocabulary.

But of all the four-letter words I knew to avoid, the one they never warned about was “plan.” THAT is a four-letter word, and a totally useless one at that.

Some time ago, my California son made plans to visit in May, before June graduation chaos. His flight here was twice cancelled by the airline. As it eventually happened, he arrived around dawn the day of my granddaughter’s graduation. Meanwhile, she had contracted COVID. Then her dad, my other son, tested positive. Then my daughter-in-law and grandson. And did I mention rain and torrential rain?

The visiting son has celiac disease, so eating out was not an option, and that meant that much of the two weeks preceding his visit I was cooking and baking for a gluten-free stockpile.

I have fallen woefully behind in blogdom, neither writing nor reading.

So yesterday, in the throes of cleaning up and digging out, I came to WordPress with a plan (when will I learn?) to catch up. But no. Something had changed. You have no idea, dear reader, what a moral victory there is in the fact that I am writing this now. I actually found Susan Rushton’s two-year-old comment where she told me how to get to the Classic Editor. (Thanks again, Susan!) Whether this is a forever fix remains to be seen, of course.

As I pick up the pieces of routine here, I can guarantee I will be thinking about an adequate vocabulary.

 

 


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May 31.22: Coping, but barely

Grit,

ground coal,

ash and lung gravel

paid the bills.

Grandpa wore it home

to match the grit

on windowsills.

His worker’s cap

marked him:

social scrap,

laborer,

tall, thin,

Cassius on the trolley,

morning, evening,

foundry-dusted

with other scraps

hollow, rusted.

Sometimes,

when there was meat,

he would get it

because he wore the cap,

carried the big black lunchbox

with the rounded top

and thick strap.

When we rode past

the fiery black mill,

we said,

Grandpa works there!

with pride.

Not knowing.

He was, I think,

smart.

I wonder what he wondered

in this brown, gritty life.

 

 

Writing is strange business. I had no intention of trying for another entry in Dan Antion’s Thursday Doors Writing Challenge, but this photo, also Dan’s, wouldn’t leave me alone. It is so reminiscent of where I grew up. Beautiful it wasn’t. Looking at this brought to mind my grandpa and his life there.

 

Thanks, Dan, for inspiring and challenging us, and for this photo.