Oddments

In search of story


21 Comments

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

 


18 Comments

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.


14 Comments

October 18.22: Coping, but barely

Party food

it feeds the heart

even before

festivities start;

anticipation

thus depicted

makes for diet

derelicted,

and so it behooves

the party planner

to include an apple

or bannaner.

Or stick of celery,

knob of berry,

to appease the health-food

constabulary.

But, health aside,

it must be said

the apple is ever

in party red;

it adds panache

to homey show

with beneficent, jolly

Pickwickian glow.

Then in slices

like little smiles

it spreads its cidery,

juicy wiles

in sticky comfort

all around

with virtuous munchy

party sound,

and if you’re The Grandma

you tend to cooking

and lick your fingers

when no one’s looking.

 

 

With thanks to Susan Rushton, whose praise of Jazz apples caused me to try them. She said I should look for the reddest, so I did. Will it surprise you, dear reader, to know that the reddest were on the bottom of the pile? I will leave to your imagination how I distinguished myself in that shopping moment.

I join Susan in praise of Jazz apples; on the occasion of my grandson’s 17th birthday, we all approved! Next will be a search for Judy’s favorite, the Macoun.

I learn so many good things from bloggers!

 


14 Comments

October 12.22: Coping, but barely

The refined high art of breakfasting

cannot too much be touted;

its value to the day

ought never to be doubted.

In cherry tomato season

it’s especially exact;

one keeps the tomato whole,

juicily intact.

It’s cozied in the mouth

(don’t try to sing or whistle

lest you wing it into orbit,

the oops’d misguided missile)

along with crusty morsel

of sourdough browned just right,

one aims for balanced tandem,

the perfection in the bite.

The delicacy of timing,

simultaneous squirt and crunch,

requires selfless practice

sometimes ’til half-past lunch.


19 Comments

September 27.22: Coping, but barely

 

Have you ever, dear reader, read your Homeowner’s Policy? I have read mine. Every single obfuscating, fog-bound, stupefying word.

I am reminded of this at the grocery store in aisles blocked by shoppers engrossed in the study of labels. The looks on their faces as they read are, I’m sure, exactly like the look on my face as I read my Homeowner’s Policy. It is not the look of enlightenment.

Dan Antion, of No Facilities fame, recently wrote a post touching on the maddening truth that we are paying more for less. Dan has a very sophisticated workshop with tools I’ve never heard of, and that’s how he knows (mathematically!) that his materials are less sturdy. But they cost more.

My workshop is the kitchen, and there is nothing sophisticated about my tools, but I can tell you it’s ditto here. My newly purchased “buttery spread” refuses to melt on toast, and when it melts in a hot pan it becomes a remarkable lot of water. So I took an older product — same brand, packaging and weight — out of my freezer; it is on the left, above. Labels like homeowners’ policies! A plague on them all!

I know the term “shrinkflation” and I don’t like its cuteness. Cheating by any other name is still cheating.

 

 


18 Comments

September 21.22: Coping, but barely

My mother had a habit —

endearing it was not —

that ended every argument

abruptly on the spot.

“That’s just dumb!” the guillotine,

no gentle, soft word cuddle,

the end, finis, the fortress wall

to onslaught of rebuttal.

To consider rank stupidity,

deserving of disdain,

to her was waste of time

and energy and brain.

I’d messily implode

when she Mommed me in this way,

but I must admit I hear me

quoting her today.

“Don’t cook chicken in Nyquil,”

the headline black and bold,

bewilders and confounds —

is it just because I’m old?

Besides the who-cares? key

that’s lacking on my board,

the that’s-just-dumb key’s missing

and I’d like it underscored.

 

Really, dear reader? Don’t cook chicken in Nyquil? Did you ever wish your parents, grandparents, or others in their generations were around to react to the things that assail us on the computer screen? I do. I think I’d laugh a lot.

 

Cookbook by Betty Crocker, 1940. Which you probably guessed.

I like to keep things that are older than I am, even if squeakingly so.


19 Comments

July 25.22: Coping, but barely

A garden in a kettle,

what enticement to know more;

no ordinary flowerpot

hints so of family lore.

Kettles are like aprons,

remnants, scraps and shreds

of kitchens gone to dust

except inside our heads.

Replaced by kitchen jewelry

gleaming, digitized,

its plump and stolid air

is yet unbowdlerized.

Something in its roundness

brings noodle dough to mind,

vegetable soup with barley,

doughnuts cinnamon-brined,

children up on tip-toe

to watch and sniff, content,

the world in proper order

as it was surely meant.

Today its storied depths

give rise to happy greenery,

rooted, like our memories,

in distant kitchen scenery.

 

 

More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg,

and to gardener and family preservationist D.J. Berg.