Oddments

In search of story


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February 1.23: Coping, but barely

What gardening sage

will I have to be

to fathom the how

of this galaxy?

I can fathom the why:

to make our lives livable.

That is an axiom

I hold is unquibabble.

It grew from a blob

aesthetically dubious,

like tentacled shmoo

squatly lugubrious.

I can’t figure how

such blithe transformation

from dowdy drab bulb

to winged constellation.

 

 

With thanks to my dear friend Donna,

who sent these winter wings.

 


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January 19.23: Coping, but barely

If you were light

and could play on a rose,

would you slide,

do you suppose,

down velvet hill,

where shadow splash

marks your soft plop

with grinned panache?

Then would you climb back up,

find that shy frill,

and pirouette there

in lucent trill?

Would you leap tip-to-tip

with weightless toes,

like drunken sprite

in perfumed throes?

Under, behind

each vale and peak,

would you dodge and dive

in hide-and-seek?

Would you stop perhaps

and oly-oly-ocean-free

to bask in the stillness

of unfurling reverie?

 

There is mystery here, dear reader. Apparently some call “olly-olly-oxen-free.” I was intrigued to see that some people who were kids in the Chicago area called “oly-oly-ocean-free” because that’s where I was a kid and that was our cry. So, oxen or ocean, nobody knows, though I did like the suggestion that olly/oly came from all-ye as a call at the end of the farm day to put everything, including the oxen, away for the night.

I remember it as inviolable. Once called, nobody could be tagged. Non-negotiable.

 

Many thanks to Susan Rushton for the beautiful photo!

 


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January 15.23: Coping, but barely

Writer’s Lament

 

I look out the window,

searching the sky,

one vast lumpy cloud

like a wakeful bed

where sleep has been sought,

demons of night manacled,

resisting,

in tangles of blankets.

Just so the sky

in its tumbled, restless look.

No words there.

I search the ground,

cold sticky mud,

chevroned in black stems

cracking in a wind that crawls

on its belly through dead herbs,

pulling useless things.

No words there.

In drawers full of some-days

which become nevers,

no words.

In closets,

epaulets of dust

on heedless hollow shoulders,

I fumble in every pocket,

surprised by gloves

limp and soft, snuggled

like sleeping kittens.

But no words.

In sepulchral boxes

crowded with the mute past,

pages and faces that crumble,

where Then is more alive than Now,

longings, wonderings,

but not one word.

Others wander in this word desert

but it’s a lonesome place.

 

 

And so, dear reader, have I tried to grapple with yet another writer’s slump. I figured since I can’t find words to write about anything else, I might as well write about the slump.

 

 


24 Comments

January 8.23: Coping, but barely

When I write the first word of something, I have an idea what the last word will be. What a laugh. Writing has its own idea of where it’s going, and it’s rarely where I thought I was steering it.

Ten years ago, when I was 70, I promised myself I would do two things: learn how to bake biscotti, and start a blog. My writing mate Tamara graciously set up the blog for me, and I began, tentatively, intending to write mostly about caregiving, and hoping to learn how to tell a story. In August of 2015 Tamara prodded me to try photos as prompts. I was hooked.

So, as with all my writing, I did not go where I thought I would.

I’ve always been Oddment(s), but the themes have morphed from “Connections” to “Disconnections” to “Coping” to “Coping, but barely,” all reflective of my life and the life around me.

But the subtitled quest remained: In search of story. I can make biscotti, but I still can’t tell a story.

So I ask myself, “What at 80?”

 


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December 31.22: Coping, but barely

The table is set,

pristine and inviting,

the menu unknown

as of this writing.

I wish you, dear reader,

a stew of your choice:

a toothsome concoction

for palate and voice,

words for your writing,

health for your soul,

a generous helping

of vision and goal.

May loved ones and muses

fill all the seats,

your fingers and spirit

be ever sticky from sweets.

 

 

Thanks yet again to photographer S.W. Berg,

and kudos to The Baker’s Wife Bistro,

Hampton, VA, for the ambience.

I wish you a good year next, dear reader, with my thanks for your presence here, and I dig down to the very last remnants of depleted optimism to express some small hope for peace in our future. I do find our little corners of blogdom are places for peace. Plus a few laughs. Some nostalgia. A touch of snark. Communal sighs. The occasional coffee-spit on the keyboard. Thus is peace had, and I’m most grateful for it. Thank you for helping me bungle through 2022!

Maureen

 


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December 29.22: Coping, but barely

Jeweled confection —

how dare we bite in? —

so perfect a morsel,

toothmarks would be sin.

The art of the little,

meticulous craft,

we must linger over,

admire, fore and aft.

From various angles

its magnificence savored,

the eyes are the palate

to guess at how flavored.

To taste with the eye

is the manner of some,

while others prefer

to taste with the thumb.

To find telltale hole,

the proof of the borer,

causes mannered among us

to recoil in horror.

What weaselly ways,

what etiquette lack,

to know what’s inside

and then put it back!

 

You may recall, dear reader, the indignities of my youth, with blue jeans not allowed. Not proper, said my mother. And yet — and yet! — there were the Fannie May or Mrs. See’s chocolates all pristine in the aerial view, but — what’s this? — a hole in the bottom? A hole which just happens to be the exact same size as my mother’s thumb? This is proper?

Thus did I learn that proper is a relative concept. My mother being the closest of relatives.

 

More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg.


19 Comments

December 24.22: Coping, but barely

The perfect world

isn’t real

except in goo

of warm pinwheel.

Perfection twice:

Christmas then,

and today rich air

savored again.

My wish, dear reader,

whatever your feast:

may memory and hope

be your yeast.

 

The other day I had the privilege of teaching my grandchildren about yeast dough and sticky buns, closely related to the brown sugar rolls Grandma O’Hern used to make, and also the Christmas breakfast of their dad’s childhood. Once again the kitchen was crowded, not just with teenagers, but with ghosts happily looking on. (They were happy because they didn’t have to clean up. Sticky buns are so named because of the state of the kitchen.)

I don’t think I look for a perfect world, though I think I’d like it; I do, however, look for a world with some sanity, and that seems completely elusive most days. Then comes a day to bake with grandchildren and I see perfect order in the universe.

There are many beautiful traditions at this time of year; whichever ones you treasure, dear reader, may they bring a moment of peace and wonder to your heart.


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December 17.22: Coping, but barely

My tree is still in pieces,

the cookies are unbaked,

my cards still in the box,

Christmas mood cannot be faked.

I’m tired and feeling old,

I can’t pretend I’m jolly.

I’d like to arm myself

with Scrooge’s stake of holly.

Crazed, near-sighted drivers,

shoppers all phone-zoned,

news of inhumanities,

life bewailed, bemoaned

tarnish all the tinsel,

make carolers sing flat;

I need to find a rabbit

to pull out of my hat,

something made of magic

that laughs along with me

even though to others

we’re total mystery.

Aha! It’s just the thing

to make the dismals better:

  from my haute couture collection,

 a rousing Christmas sweater!

When I was in junior high, I wanted blue jeans. The in-crowd wore them. My mother would have none of it: blue jeans were not what proper girls wore. Wait. Did I say I wanted to be proper? I wanted to be cool! Mom and I had this divergence of opinion all the time, and thus did I learn to live with not being cool. Therein lies the explanation for my bewilderment at why Christmas sweaters are so much maligned. They are deemed ugly, uncool.  I like my Christmas Duck sweater! It’s my mother’s fault.

One may argue for a goose, and I grudgingly concede this might indeed be a Christmas goose, but you know my feelings about geese, dear reader. Ergo, it’s a duck.

 

With thanks to Susan Rushton for the photo of my mood!

 


15 Comments

December 11.22: Coping, but barely

Those of you who have kindly read along for a few years know that for Christmas I put together scrapbooks for my sons about some aspect of family history. That these scrapbooks hand down to them a history according to me is totally obvious — and satisfying.

This brilliant idea of mine has its flaws, however: it makes an infernal mess.

And it forces a reckoning. One cannot dig through boxes of family flotsam without some creeping sense of clairvoyance in one’s forebears.

Case in point: my mother carefully noted in my baby book that on 30 May 1943 I first stuck my foot in my mouth. How did she know?