Oddments

In search of story


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Connections: May 13.18

It’s that time again: time to get on my apostrophe soap box. It’s “Mother’s Day” all over the place, but I insist on “Mothers’ Day.” Not only is it a day to celebrate all mothers, but it’s also a day that’s been so homogenized and hysterialized that Mom is what Hallmark has made her. Mothers’ Day hysteria hits hard. Now — heaven help us — there are even pop-up ads to remind us we need to do more.

Back in the day, it was simpler: you snuck someplace and made a heart-rending card out of construction paper and erasures. And you went hanky-shopping with your dad. “Hanky” is short for “handkerchief,” a decorative, often beautiful, piece of cloth we used to blow our noses in. Or for our mothers to spit on and wipe some goo off our chins. Or (we were Catholic) to plop on your head if you were a hatless woman (gasp) entering a church. Hankies were nothing if not versatile.

One year my brother gave Mom the Hope Diamond of hankies, lacy, white, with a very elaborate embroidered “M” on it, much to her bewilderment (her name was Evelyn). What’s the M for? she asked naively. “M for Mom!” he replied, with some exasperation — why did she need to ask?

After Mom died, I threw out many things, but I couldn’t bring myself to throw out her hankies, which now live in a drawer upstairs. Including the one with the flowing regal “M.”

Whatever your memories for the day, dear reader, I hope there is a mom or a grandma in your heart, on the phone, or maybe across the table. Maybe even an old hanky in your pocket.

 

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Connections: April 11.18

 

Mom said, “Don’t mix patterns,”

and I think I can see why;

these every-which-way lines

make my eyeballs go awry.

Yet pattern clash intrigues,

attests to solemn truth:

maternal admonitions

go the way of the phone booth.

 

 

More thanks to the S.W. Berg Photo Archives.

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Connections: March 6.18

I remember the days of jumping in pain

on devious carpet of shag

stuck in my toe

by bionic foe

or light saber attached to my leg.

The shag is long gone, my legs varicose,

but a part is still little-boy’d;

Star Wars endures

prequeling perdures

in eternal Wookie and droid.

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Musings on wild life: February 1.18

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit!

That, as you may remember, was my mother’s incantation on the first of every month. I’m not sure why except for the twelve rabbits’ feet involved.

I am not enamored of rabbits, as you know if you’ve read my blog for a while. They are the garden’s Visigoths and nothing can withstand their onslaught. Here, in the wee hours of one winter morning, by the light of the lamppost, I spotted one of their kind. It was huge. And obviously reconnoitering. Duly noted, you furry pig!

I am equally not enamored of Canadian geese, as you also know from my blog. They, however, are enamored of this retention pond. Why Mother Nature, who came up with the song of the lark and the wren, invented the honk of the goose is explainable only in terms of her caustic sense of humor.

Then, of course, the ants. Oh, they keep on a-comin’. At first in my desk. Now along the baseboard and up through the furnace vent in the dining room. Yesterday I was out in the cold mud dousing the side of my new house with Home Defense. In January? Really?

Having lived in California, I know about ants, which there put earthquakes to shame in terms of intimidation. They come like an undertow and pull you to your knees.

But this is Indiana, which, though definitely ant-ridden, usually doesn’t let the little rotters out mid-winter.

And have you ever noticed how observing ants can make you itch?

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit, dear reader!

 


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January 8.18

This conflagration, dear reader, was my birthday cake last night. Today is the actual date (yes, me and Elvis), but last night was the family do. What makes this flaming cake blog-worthy is the arrangement along the far arc of it. If you look closely and use just a little imagination for the emoji candles, you will see (I’ve no doubt) that the 1001011 is my birthday in binary. My family, ladies and gentlemen! Undeterred by the lack of a 7 and a 5, they devised a binary 75! I seemed to be the only one at the table to be slow on the pick-up. Yes, yes, I know what “binary” means, but it is hardly where my brain goes when I don’t have the right candles!

You may note the second cake. My daughter-in-law, in all other ways an exemplary person, does not like frosting. So there is always an angel food cake for her. Full disclosure: no one objects to having a piece with her.

Now to real life: I lay me down last night after a full day which followed one of those rotten sleepless nights. Of course I couldn’t fall asleep. This is partly age, partly my lifelong struggle with insomnia, partly too much binary cake. After about an hour, I drifted off. At 1:20 I was awakened by chirping. Yes, chirping! One of these wretched alarms was chirping! Which one, and what would I do about it in this new house?

You may know, dear reader, that any venture in the wee hours starts with a trip to the bathroom, and that’s where I saw all the blood in my mouth. How long had that been going on? I rinsed and spit and spit and rinsed. It’s this blasted HHT, as you may know if you’ve read my blog for long. It took a few shaky minutes to stop it.

The bleeding stopped but not the chirping. There I was, at 1:30 in the morning, atop a ladder at the top of the stairs, feeling woozy and not at all patient. I couldn’t figure out anything about the rotten thing. So it continued its own happy-birthday song to me. And it continues now with its soothing beepathon.

And so begins my 75th birthday. I have broken my rule of the 300-word blog post limit, which I have abided by almost unfailingly. But it’s my birthday and I’ll write if I want to.

 

 


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Connections: December 12.17

My last two kitchens had islands

the ultimate luxury

the kitchen I live with now

is bestowed more modestly.

So I follow the ways of my grandmas

and my mother, apt and able,

enlisting our four-legged friend,

the enduring kitchen table.

But I have a homey bauble

with which they weren’t stuck

a low-hanging ceiling lamp

which I cannot remember to duck.

Hovering over the table

at just the exact right spot

it clunks against my head

and elicits descriptive bon mot.

Some day I’ll explain to my neighbors

the reverberant mystery

the gong heard ’round the ‘hood

it isn’t Big Ben — it’s me.

 

Yes, I know, dear reader. I took liberties with my French. It was too awful not to use.

 

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