Oddments

In search of story


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.

 


14 Comments

December 29.21: Coping

Last night I flipped the light switch in an upstairs bedroom and the whole house went dark. I asked every homeowner’s favorite question: now what? Then lights back on. Then off. On. Off. Off…off…

I found myself in a world of India ink. Not a glimmer, not the tiniest shard of light. Groping is a graceless ballet, but just so did I find the stairs, the banister, and warily make my way down. Why, you may ask, did I not think to grab the flashlight that’s upstairs? Because it’s me.

Bumping along, I looked out the front windows. A world without light. Disorienting, unsettling. As I inched through the house, a timid glow startled me. My battery candles! Beacons! My feet steadied immediately, and I made it to the back door, next to my shadowy Christmas tree. The houses across the pond were black. Not a light anywhere. It was as though every person in the world was gone but me.

A lightless world is an empty world.

The power company did me the courtesy of calling to tell me there was a power outage. Really?

Why are the robots never programmed to tell the customer what happened? So far as I could tell, I flipped the switch in an upstairs bedroom and shut down a small city.

How oppressive that solid, unforgiving darkness. What a slamming shut of life. Our fears are never far from us, are they?

 

 


8 Comments

November 24.21: Coping

In the kitchen

live the ghosts

that waft with air

of pies and roasts.

Abiding still

in towel and platter,

in recipe card

with ancient splatter,

they hover close

and scrutinize

with furrowed brow

and x-ray eyes

my every move,

my chops and pares,

as I use things

that once were theirs.

And then they squeeze around

to eat,

they watch our manners

heads to feet,

then, with a wink

to everyone,

salute themselves

for job well done.

 

 

Here is the crowd in my kitchen this week: my mother’s recipe for stuffing in her handwriting, the towel my Grandma Mauck would wet and wrap over the turkey to keep it cozy, their baster and meat thermometer, the platter my Grandma O’Hern’s turkeys came to the table on. Three women at my elbows.

You will note the towel is linen. My mother and her mother insisted on linen dishtowels, and, yes, my dear incredulous reader, they had to be ironed. Ironed damp, no less. In my generation, the technical term for such things was “flatwork,” and it was how we served our ironing apprenticeships. Handkerchiefs, pillowcases and sheets, linen towels…flatwork. Yes, we ironed sheets and pillowcases. And underwear. As I hear it, young women today wouldn’t know which side of the iron gets hot. (They’re smarter than we were.)

But I digress.

It’s a difficult time no matter where you live, dear reader; I wish I could make things better for you, for all of us. You might not celebrate Thanksgiving Day this week, but you can know that I am giving thanks for you because you have helped me write, and that has been a huge gift to me. Thank you!

 

 


6 Comments

September 1.21: Coping

The humble crumble

butter and flour,

sugar, of course,

for superpower.

Bumply roof

for muffin, cake

takes the edge off

pain and ache.

A sure Rx

for life’s annoyance,

transformative

to smile and buoyance.

There’s crunch

no matter where it’s put,

betwixt the teeth

or underfoot.

The perfect jewel

on nose or chin,

timeless fashion,

lap or skin.

Childhood’s lesson,

ever sweet:

it’s no fun

to be too neat.

Many thanks to Judy for her wonderful vegetable recipe!

May it be a blessing on your September, dear reader!


12 Comments

July 27.21: Coping

Modesty compels me

to unamended truth:

my talents are unbounded,

to lie would be uncouth.

As painter I achieve

the heights of bruise and groan;

in DIY Olympics

my prowess stands alone.

I don’t even have to aim

at microscopic spot,

it’s bull’s-eye for the blob

where drop cloth covers not.

Forever placid swan,

both my graced left feet

entwine within the ladder,

reliably tout de suite;

clutching for my life

is my practiced well-honed skill,

a teeter and grab,

and I am upright still!

My TA-DAs are unheard,

resounding nonetheless;

I curtsy in official

full-palette painting dress.

I put my whole self in my work —

that’s very plain to see;

my genius also makes me put

my work all over me:

as some folks wear their feelings

on sleeves, in public view,

just so I wear my colors

on elbow and on shoe.

Unframed, my art’s admired

by critics, one and all,

exclaiming how I even get

some painting on the wall.

 

As you know, dear reader, I have solemnly sworn to never ever paint an ant-sized bathroom again. So I’m tackling people-sized places. The weather has encouraged me to stay indoors and, since my writer’s muse has been suffering from some malaise, I have turned to my ever-ready home improvement muse.

Nothing testifies to progress more convincingly than a mound of used painter’s tape. Detaching it from me was a matter best left unsung: Woman vs Tape is not a pretty story.

 

 


8 Comments

May 4.21: Coping

Kirk had it wrong;

that Final Frontier

isn’t some star —

it’s much more near.

It’s when you decide

you’re going to paint

and are sharply reminded

that young you ain’t.

This job designed

by Beelzebub

requires my head

between toilet and tub.

I used to could bend —

that’s historical fact —

but now I can’t seem

to be so compact.

My hips both object,

my knees ping and crack,

that creaking sound

is my lower back.

This be my swan song,

I won’t try this again;

I’ll adjust my horizons

to more accommodable yen.

I’ll hope to complete

and finish it nicely,

then I’ll turn in my brush

and hang out at Mos Eisley.

 

 

May the 4th be with you, dear reader!

And, yes, I’ve mixed Star Wars with Star Trek. Maybe poetic license is the REAL final frontier. I should have thrown in a Captain Video secret decoder ring.

 

 


6 Comments

October 20.20

My house naps quiet

behind the tree;

the world passes by

obliviously.

The grandeur of

my life within,

curtained by

the daily din,

cannot be guessed

by passersby

who see my house

as small and shy.

My stemmed fine art

goes undetected,

like ruby rose window,

unexpected.

A splendid secret:

who could know

my little house

is Chenonceau?

 

 

 

 


4 Comments

September 10.20: Coping

The recipe,

that work of art,

bequeathed from bubbling

kitchen heart,

with stain and splot

of ancient dough,

bringing to Now

the Long-ago.

Penmanship of

floured hand,

preserved on paper

less than grand,

thus creating

choice giftwrap

of what was once

a lowly scrap.

 

 

More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg,

and to Rose Schloot, owner of Cross River Lodge,

Grand Marais, Minnesota,

where this eloquent old piece of the past is displayed.