Oddments

In search of story


4 Comments

February 22.21: Coping

 

Today, dear reader, is George Washington’s birthday. It makes me think of old friendships. No, I didn’t know George.

There are four of us — Ann, Donna, Bill and I — who have our birthdays in consecutive months starting in November and ending today. I have declared — and therefore it is so — that we don’t turn the next age until the last one does. That would be Bill, the intrepid photographer. We don’t turn until he does, and then we all turn together. There is no way he gets to be the youngest.

Ann and I went to kindergarten, grade school, high school together, and ended up in the same college sorority. Bill and Donna and I have a friendship forged in homeroom and in the high school parking lot at 3:00AM as we gathered for “away meets” for speech and debate. The four of us grew up together. I am beyond grateful that we are growing old together.

So today I think about ancient friendships. Although we often make wonderful friends along life’s way, sometimes we are lucky enough to have friends who knew our parents, who knew the homes we grew up in. I marvel at this often, but particularly on February 22.

I lift a celebratory mug of coffee in salute to ancient friendships, and I wish them for you, dear reader.

 

More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg,

and to Mama Rosa’s, Hampton, VA.


13 Comments

February 18.21: Coping

One of these is my muse, dear reader. Standing stodgily and stupidly on the frozen pond. Hanging out with someone else’s muse, no doubt, both determined to be useless.

So, uninspired, I will write about what is.

Snow and more snow. Cold and more cold. A world in pandemic, a country in turmoil, and, at the moment, with millions battered by the weather with no power, and some without running water.

Monday the winter storms barreled into Indiana. In my best swaddled shmoo look, I shoveled the first wave of snow, which was fluffy and light, and, having congratulated myself on that, I decided to start the car and let it run a few minutes. I was walking in the garage when one of my booted left feet found something to slip on and went its own way. I grabbed the car and went down in one of those memorable slow-motion falls. It was not a serious fall. Except. Except that my cheekbone hit the rim of a plastic flowerpot. The crack heard ’round the world.

This in a monster winter storm. I was scared.

My son was able to get me to Urgent Care the next day. Nothing is broken, but if you are picturing an old lady with half her face the color and shape of an eggplant, you’d be close.  An occasional Tylenol is in order.

The past twelve months have taken a toll on us all. We’d be foolish to understate that. Everything that happens to us right now hits hard and cuts deep. We all wish our muses would bring us magic words to make things better for each other. Failing that, we can only write about being human.

 

 

 

 


9 Comments

February 12.21: Coping

ODE TO DICHOTOMYSugar snow

makes winter sweet

if you like clompy boots

on both your feet,

if you like glassy streets

to slip and slide

while white-knuckled driving

petrified,

if you like your toes

and fingers too

stinging and reddened

to shades of blue,

if you like clothes like blubber

on arctic whale

just to go out

to get the mail,

if you like north winds,

those icy bullies,

roaring through layers

of itchy woollies,

if you like shovel kink

in your lower back

and a quiver in

sacroiliac,

but if you like a big sniff

of cookies oven-hot,

the company of stew

bubbling in a pot,

the softness of thick flannel,

most comfy of old friends,

the search for words and meanings

that never ever ends,

the pencil, pen, and mug

 to draw and write and sip,

your sugar snow, like mine,

is introvert’s catnip.

 

 


6 Comments

February 7.21: Coping

The bench wants society.

Stop! it says. Sit! —

watch your species ignoring you and me!

They rush by but we are the busy ones,

busy stopping.

Soon another will come, stop, sit,

and society will happen.

Maybe a toddler, ooph-ing his way up,

will sit like an L,

revel in his new perspective,

then scramble away,

pollinator to his kind.

Then soon another, on the three legs of late life,

will ease down, lean back,

and toss some memories to you, hungry pigeon.

Maybe next a new parent,

jealously, wonderingly

hoarding that immense softness,

rocking slightly,

sparing a few hushed words.

By and by, maybe two, holding hands, cozy in,

nudging you to other times, other benches

where you stopped,

and you can’t help a small private smile.

Maybe someone who talks a waterfall

crashing down on you in atomic white foam,

like some relatives you’ve run from.

Then even the bench cringes but holds fast

for the sake of the human soul.

Ignore a bench at your peril:

society must be had.

 

 

I can’t help noting, dear reader, that I picture people aware of each other

whereas the reality is people are snookered into their phones

and have no idea you are on the bench with them.

I prefer my version.

 

More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg,

and to Wells Theater, Norfolk, VA.

 


11 Comments

January 30.21: Coping

Grandma’s kitchen clock

ticked crisply like a snare drum,

by day blended in the rhythm of work,

by night echoed

through the bedded house

while the rite of springs squeaked under me,

percussive, brassy,

objecting, it seemed,

to my child’s weight.

A bare light bulb

dangling on thick black cord

hovered

over the bed,

beyond my reach

even when I stood

jiggle-kneed

on the jello mattress.

Grandma reached up

and turned it off herself,

then slipper-padded out.

Her bedroom a whole dining room

and kitchen away,

sly-eyed shadows deepened

around me

in borrowed bed

where once my aunts were little girls.

In the sleep breath of her house,

Ivory soap.

Now, as COVID blurs days into nights,

and nights into days,

my clock ticks crisply like a snare drum.

 

 


9 Comments

January 26.21: Coping

As you know, dear reader, I am an introvert. I love quiet. Forever the firstborn, I play by myself contentedly.

However, I do not crave a hut in the desert or a cave hidden by vines. Which is what this COVID thing is beginning to feel like.  After a while, even an introvert feels the tedium of her own company. Then a terrible thing happens: she eats. Why is it that eating is the antidote to tedium? While I ponder the answer to that, I eat some more.

Yesterday I caught myself headed to the kitchen again and gave myself a stern talking-to, made a right turn and headed upstairs, where I plunged into no one’s favorite project: culling the past.

I come from a scrapbooking family, and I followed that tradition, starting in grade school. I am not talking about those tidy, starched, color-coordinated Martha-Stewart types of scrapbooks, but the old-fashioned kind, with real scraps, bits of life as it was lived. Messy, haphazard, in a rag-tag glued chronology. Just like life.

I attacked the scrapbook that held the years from college graduation to marriage, 1966 to 1971. There were strangers in there, but the strangest one of all was me. Have you met your young self recently, dear reader? Did you recognize each other?

If you are now your young self, just file the matter for future reference, when your seasoned self happens upon you. And may you meet in a kinder time.