Oddments

In search of story


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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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Connections: October 18.17

I call this Still Life With Mess.

Not that life ever stands still, though at times it seems to. But there is ever a mess. That is, unless we’re sitting around on our…umm…hands.

These three artifacts just happened to end up together as the movers plied their art, and of course I couldn’t help noticing the serendipity. The wonderful pine cone and seed wreath was made years ago by my dear friend Donna, and is one of my favorite things. The assembly-line autumn wreath has been fabulous on my front door here, if I do say so. The decrepit, ancient suitcase was my Aunt Edna’s and holds her academic cap and hood (the heavy velvet and gold of Ph.D.). To the left, the back of a print procured for me at a condo swap by my son and daughter-in-law because my son knew it was my favorite Ansel Adams.

What a mishmash life is.

Today I will leave this place that has been Grandma’s House for seven years. There is some melancholy. But another, smaller Grandma’s House awaits, and both grandchildren have given it a thumbs-up (as have I). So bear with me, dear reader, as I launch myself (albeit, it must be said, a trifle arthritically) into whatever comes next.

 

 

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Connections: September 1.17

 

I took my own advice. Except instead of seeking out a shady park to watch kids, I went to my granddaughter’s junior-high tennis match.

I sat with her and her team. Granny on the bleachers! I got to tell them about how, back in the day, my friend Connie and I devised our own scoring system: the more bounces, the more points. (It worked for us.) That was their first look of wonder. Like at a museum.

I was overwhelmed by energy, smartphones, sketchbooks, never-ending chatter, good spirits, water bottles, and a desperate search for quarters for popcorn. And by the saintliness of good coaches.

I learned I can confound at least eight junior-high kids at one time by pronouncing it “Annie May” instead of “Anna May.” (“Yes, I know what anime is!” Grandma growled. “But who is Anna May?”) That was their second look of wonder.

I got to use one of my best retorts before an audience: “Well, YOU don’t know what pop-it beads were!” That gets her every time. Their third look of wonder.

In one of my former lives, I taught junior high, and, sitting there amid the cacophony and hormonal mayhem, I was reminded of why I loved that age. They are full of life and imagination and hilarity.

I don’t think my look was one of wonder but rather of gratitude.

There is hope. Lots of it.

 

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Connections: August 13.17

My family’s in the garden

the past grows ever green

my mom is in the phlox

most surely, though unseen

her dad in the tomatoes

my green-thumbed Grandpa Mauck

son of North Carolina

whose hills rolled in his talk

Grandma O’Hern in moss roses

her summer’s tried-and-true

her son, my dad, in marigold

(the only flower he knew!)

the dill for an unknown

its air a bit of mystery

but I know it figures somewhere

in my leafy family history

I don’t come (as they say) from money

I come more from dirt

so it’s good to feel them back

in horticultural concert.

 

 

 

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Connections: August 8.17

 My grandma’s tub had feet

and Olympic-pool-sized feeling

her toilet had a chain

that hung down from the ceiling.

More, the bathroom window

was tall and opened wide

so fresh air and scent of train

could cleanse the room inside.

Now I have this footless

peculiarity

someone mean invented

to taunt and bully me.

It can’t be cleaned without

risking tendinitis

when I fold to fit its contours

it gives me rigor mortis.

It’s called a garden tub

a pity and a shame

someone ought to sue

for slandering garden’s name.

The window can’t be opened

the toilet’s in a box

so I reach way back in memory

where my grandma’s bathroom rocks.

 

 

 

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Connections: May 9.17

My grandma had a tiny house

if you take a yardstick measure

but it was huge in other ways:

curiosity and treasure.

The coolest stuff was hid away

but I knew where to find it

and she would let me hold it

and tell the tale behind it.

Now I’m packing up my house

which means, I’m sure you know,

packing up my family

striving to let go.

Memories sneak in everywhere

in closet and in drawer

one thing leads to another

as I’m sorting on the floor.

You will understand, I’m sure,

I hyperventilate

when I note the Christmas card box:

45 for $1.98!

And thus do different eras

re-tell themselves to me

as I wrap the family flotsam

as if crown jewelry.

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Connections: April 29.17

I have been in an alternate universe

a place I have been before

where perpetual motion is rampant

and parents a mere twoscore.

There’s soccer and softball and homework

lives lived digitally

two kids, two cats, two dogs,

and Grandma (that would be me).

Mom in a sling and Dad far away

a convergence of planning and chance

with non-stop pre-teen rhythm

and flying by the seat of our pants.

I lived in a place such as this

in a dim and distant past

when I had an abundance of pep

and my hormones hadn’t lapsed

but now my creaky bones

move far less supplely

and I don’t know when I’ll recover

from the onslaught of energy.

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