Oddments

In search of story


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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.


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December 1.20: Coping

Zinnia: thoughts of absent friends

 

Once upon a long-ago 1968, two life paths — mine and Libby’s — crossed in the highly combustible, hilarious, hormone-laden world of a junior/senior high school. She taught music and I was the new English teacher.

We met in the teachers’ workroom in a haze of mimeograph fumes, and quickly established our mutual love of music.  I was enlisted on the spot as official accompanist for her junior-high musical extravaganzas. I do not forget the moment the curtain went up for the ballroom scene in “Die Fledermaus,” with its aluminum foil chandeliers, and the audience exploded into spontaneous applause.

Or when the 8th-grade Josephine ad libbed her lines to the 7th-grade Ralph Rackstraw in “Pinafore” rehearsal.

Or the shivering hours in Libby’s basement as she sewed the angel costumes for “Hansel und Gretel.” Her childhood on a North Dakota farm made her impervious to cold and eventually she kept a blanket just for me because she grew tired of hearing my teeth chatter.

Libby and I had the best time in those bachelor days even though she could never convert me to gin or cats. I held to a firm belief in scotch and catlessness.  But, beyond bachelorhood, many were the years of friendship, many the pastries, many the morning coffees, many the long talks.

I would say now that I am dead to Libby but the fact is that for her today I never lived. She is far into dementia. She was lovely, a world traveler, opera buff, master gardener, idealist, a tolerant, inquisitive, lifelong learner, protective of all life. Cat addict.

She still is all those things; she just doesn’t know it.

I salute her today, her 93rd birthday. I will know for both of us.

 


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June 18.20: Coping

I see many references to isolation and aloneness these days. As an introvert, I’m comfortable with aloneness. Usually content with my own company, I do not crave the madding crowd. Aloneness isn’t always loneliness.

But I haven’t been with my family since March 6. No hugs for three months! There’s loneliness in that, as many elderly (and not-so-elderly) know.

It has recently occurred to me that there is another dimension to my aloneness. My close friends vary in age, but all of us have experienced family death in our parents’ generation. However, among my friends, I am the only one to have lost the sibling connection to the past; I’m the first to be The Last. This hit me as a revelation. Unaware, I’ve been grappling with a sense of aloneness among my friends.

I am an old single parent who is also The Last One of the family she grew up with — those are my particular circumstances — but I think most of us are grappling with some kind of aloneness, and maybe loneliness too, at this time. It doesn’t mean we have the same life experiences, only that we are in the same human condition. Human, but dangerously corrosive, all the more so swirled as it is with anger.

As I’ve said before, I think writers write about two things: what is, and what could be. Sometimes we can’t write about what could be until we write about what is. For me, this is what is.

 

 


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April 5.20: Coping

In a chunk of bread

simplicity

crusty warm

felicity

ennobling us

this humble fare

by causing us

to want to share

and so, dear reader,

to you from me

a lap load of crumbs

symbolically.

 

Yet more thanks to photographer S.W. Berg.

And kudos to McCormick & Schmick’s for the handsome sourdough.

 

To the mystery plant of my April 3 post: could that be Echinacea?

I remember potting one to save it from rabbits, the wretches.

 


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February 17.19 (yesterday cont’d)

I’ve been thinking about “me too,” and how it is used. The photo of Emmy in yesterday’s post helped me with my thinking. “Me too” had come to suggest pretense to me, pretending someone else’s shoes fit.

Don’t get me wrong: in no way am I disparaging the MeToo movement, whose voices have given the strength of the many to the one. As depressing (if unsurprising) as MeToo truth has been, it has also been affirming; the one person who comes forward now has the voice of the many behind her or him.

But if you tell me about a worry or fear or grief you have, and I respond “me too” or some variation of it, aren’t I slamming a door on you? Dismissing you and changing the subject to me? Aren’t I saying “enough about you”?

Once I was talking to a dear friend about a problem in my life. She responded, “I can’t even imagine.” It was the most supportive thing she could have said. If she had said “me too,” she wouldn’t have helped at all; she would only have been pretending to walk in my shoes, pushing me out of them.

When is “me too” genuine empathy, and when is it just upstaging?

And that, dear reader, is how yesterday’s post came to be.

 

 

 

 


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Connections: April 16.18

How eloquent the pie,

sublime the chocolate thrilling,

effusive the buttery crumb

and dainty pastry frilling!

In sweet and wordless voice

they join in birthday fuss

a triple 75

l’chaim!

sticky fingers!

to us!

 

 

My dear old high school friends, Bill and Donna, came last week for our birthday celebration.

It was the Mt. Everest of sugar highs. Utter bliss, dear reader.

Connections


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Connections: August 22.17

A solar eclipse

box of family stuff

we have to admit

it’s never close enough.

We search for the clues

whether cosmic or cousin

and sigh with unanswered

questions by the dozen.

 

This is my dear friend Donna, visiting. She is the one who gave me the concept of Connections and who lives the concept. She is visiting family and old friends and acquired a box of family history along the way. Pure awe.

Connections

 


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Connections: April 25.17

Dear reader,

It appears I might be gone from my blog for a couple days,

so I will not be able to meet my goal of a poem a day

for National Poetry Month.

But Thursday is Poem-in-Your-Pocket Day and

even though I haven’t been able to make my usual preparations for it,

I want to be sure you all have poems for your pockets,

so here is one of my favorites.

It won’t take long for you to write it down

and put it in your pocket

and slip it into the pocket of someone else

maybe.

THE MIRACLE OF SPRING

We glibly talk

of nature’s laws,

but do things have

a natural cause?

Black earth becoming

yellow crocus

is undiluted

hocus-pocus.

— Piet Hein

Wishing you all poems for your pockets

and for the pockets of all you love!

Connections


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Connections: April 1.17

My writing mate Tamara

 got me into this mess

She said, “Why don’t you try it?

It’s just a month, maybe less.”

But the photo as prompt

turned to daily addiction

worse! it became poems

instead of nonfiction.

How did this happen?

It’s confounding, ironic

I’m so deeply pulled in

to the visual and phonic.

My old friends Bill and Donna

jumped in along with me

shooting word rapids

with photos and whimsy.

Have I learned what makes poetry?

I haven’t a clue

but still I can wish

Happy Poetry Month

to you!

And THANK YOU, Tamara, Bill, and Donna!

Connections