Oddments

In search of story


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May 27.20: Coping

You’ve seen “The Scream,” yes, dear reader? This is “The Gasp.” I made this! I, who scotch-taped pieces of fabric together to make doll clothes, made this mask with actual needle and thread. And no blood stains! I did, of course, draw blood because one of the rules of sewing is Stab yourself with the needle, but for once I didn’t get it on the material. Sometimes I amaze myself.

When I stepped away from the blog a couple weeks ago, my intention was to do what I could to re-arrange my head to survive this barrage of grief and flim-flam. What does one do with such resentment and frustration and creeping hopelessness in isolation? One grabs a dust rag and follows the lead of her ancestors.

Yes, I’ve been cleaning. To be clear, my housecleaning would never pass inspection by my mother or grandmothers. But I told their ghosts to shove off. I’ve cleaned, thrown out, packed away. It is symbolic, of course, but it is also a proven way to clear my head. If I can dig into something physically, I can dig out mentally.

I have baked, continuing my search for the El Dorado of gluten-free blueberry muffins.

Gardening beckoned but opportunity was limited to occasional cold and soggy weeding. Now overnight it’s the Amazon. I have mourned the death of spring in keeping with this season of requiem.

I started to go out last week, feeling like one of these emerging cicadas.

I made a mask!

Physically I’m better, but still get short of breath and tired. Fortunately, I was born pokey so slowing down comes naturally to me.

I have missed you and been concerned about you, dear reader. I hope you’ve managed to keep safe and sane.


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May 14.20: Coping

Thus far, dear reader, I have coped by writing and by baking, two time-tested strategies for me. They aren’t working any more. A few days ago, we were bloodied once again through the reports of a terror attack on new babies and new mothers. That was one too many for me, awash as we are in grief and fear.

I’ve been sick, as some of you know. Nothing serious, just enough to keep me from being complacent. I don’t know that I had COVID; we still don’t know if my “presumed positive” son had it. We still don’t know much about COVID. “Don’t know” is the only wisdom we have.

Having seen my family only from a distance, unable to touch them, for two months, I think I have a sliver of understanding of what it might mean to die among strangers in Intensive Care.

I am disgusted and exhausted by the flim-flam.

I’m going to step away from the blog for a few days. Each of us has to find ways to stay human in this very dehumanizing time. I am looking for my ways.

Thanks for being with me in my blog. I worry about all of you and hope you endure.

 


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April 3.20: Coping

I escaped into the garden,

a news-free calming spot,

to check on season’s progress

in every nook and pot.

Imagine my excitement

at this discovery;

I’m thrilled with its new life

but no idea what it might be.

 

Do you know, dear reader?

Is there any chance this could be the scabiosa that jumped into my cart last year?


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January 18.20

Beware the gardener’s itch

to dig in firma terra

lest you be pruned and potted

along with the schefflera.

The gardener cannot help it,

her nails are far too clean,

so kitchen turns to hothouse,

mid-winter turns to green.

 

With more thanks to photographer S.W. Berg

and to indoor/outdoor gardener D.J. Berg

for this testimonial to gardeners’ winter fever.

 


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January 27.19

 

Omelette art,

edible wonder,

delicate froth

both over and under,

but firm enough yet

to spill and hold,

hinting what’s hidden,

coy and bold.

Savory, sweet

edible plate —

I salute the egg

in endless iterate.

 

If you have an omelette today, dear reader,

especially one with such Papageno colors,

be sure to serve it with a birthday candle

and hum a few bars of “The Magic Flute.”

Happy birthday, Mozart!

 

With more thanks to photographer S.W. Berg.

And a tip of the chef’s hat to omelette chef Art Lindeman.

Yes, this is Art’s omelette art.


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Vagaries in Gestation: December 21.18

My brother was stretched out in his recliner and I was lolling on his sofa, facing his side. The California sun was going down and its fading light fell over him like running water. As we talked, I became increasingly distracted. He was changing without moving. I tried to keep my part of the conversation going but it wasn’t easy; I was watching something I’d never seen before.

He morphed like some special effect from a movie, and became someone I knew but couldn’t name.  Then I realized it was our Grandpa Mauck, whom I hadn’t seen since I was about ten, when he died. The shadows had sculpted everything about my brother that was like our grandpa into our grandpa. Grandpa stayed and talked with me; my brother was gone.

It scared the bejabbers out of me. At the same time I felt there was something wonderful about it. It was ominous and reassuring all at once. I tried to talk myself out of it, but the sense of portent was there. Still it hit hard last week when I got the call: my brother had died. Our last visit was just that.

During this past year, his emails had been uncharacteristically terse. If he thought he was pulling wool over my eyes, he thought wrong. I knew his/our medical history. I knew something was going on. It wasn’t what he said; it was what he didn’t say.

I look back. As the sun went down on the other side of my brother and I could see less and less of him, I saw something more. As he communicated less and less, I heard something more.

And I think about how we grasp what’s there from what isn’t there.

 

 

Vagaries in Gestation

 


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Disconnections: December 2.18

 


UP is that place

to run

LEAVES are

for having fun

TREES are

for being goal

DOWN is that place

to roll

I used to be ten

I remember when

but I don’t think I’ll try it again.

 

 

Have you ever, dear reader, wanted to roll down a leafy hill long after you knew you’d be an idiot to try?

 

Thanks again to photographer S.W. Berg and Happy Birthday to D. J. Berg!

 

 

 

 


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Disconnections: August 10.18

When your plumbing’s contrary

your car’s in the shop

the travails of the world

are over the top

you’re always on hold

and a half-inch behind

words and your keys

keep slipping your mind

the robocalls pester

the outlook is dour,

call a time-out

and go watch a flower.

 

I do realize that not all life’s problems are so easily airbrushed, and not everyone has a flower to watch, and I wish it were otherwise. But the other day this happened to me. I was utterly out of patience and stormed out to the back, and there was this gorgeous, tranquil little being, totally absorbed in the zinnias. Imagine being hit so hard by calm.

 

 


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Disconnections: July 14.18

Consider the grip.

You want to turn the outside faucet to get water through the hose? Grip. You want to hold the hose? Grip. You want to fill the watering can, pick it up, and tip it into the potted basil? Grip, grip, and grip.

You want to hold a mug of coffee? You want to pour more coffee into that mug? You want to lather soap, floss your teeth, scrape a bowl? Grip, grip, grip, grip, and grip.

How about squeezing the tube of toothpaste or sunscreen or the handle for a spray bottle? Grip to the nth power.

Thumb, fingers, palm, wrist and a ready back-up of arm muscles — with maybe an assist from the shoulder — pitch in.

Or not.

Some would argue that I’ve been losing my grip for a long time. Ha, ha. I’m not saying they’re wrong; I’m saying that’s not the grip I’m talking about. And I’m not saying I’m the only one with such problems — there are many, many people with limited hand movement — but I am the only one writing on this blog, my bully pulpit. And maybe I speak for others with my words.

I used to say “hold it with both hands” to my boys when they were little. Now I say it to me as I lift a glass of iced tea. My hands do not let me forget they are changing.

Yes, there are adaptive gizmos and techniques that help, and I use them. They don’t, however, unchange the change. This morning I turn to the alternative medicine known as writing. This, dear reader, is my grip gripe, and I feel better already.