Oddments

In search of story


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April 14.21: Coping

I hate the isolation,

the sameness of the days,

the clouds of obfuscation

that politicians raise.

I hate the guns and beatings,

our bloody violent spate,

the toxic finger-pointing —

in sum, I hate the hate.

My scowl has been perfected,

my grumpiness assured,

my energy and spirit

effectively tonsured.

That is why the pansy

is at my closed front door,

hermetically sealed

against the global gore.

Such little flower that nods

congenial purple hope

can compensate for certain

resident misanthrope.

So if there’s a cheery face

as my homey welcome sign,

you know that it’s the pansy’s;

it most surely isn’t mine.

 

 


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April 7.21: Coping

Until the next pandemic

we’ll pack our masks away;

I’ve no idea when,

but it will be some day.

They’ll go into the drawer

inscribed The Fibber McGee,

where souvenirs and remnants

await next century.

When comes that barefaced day

we hug with glad impunity,

when everyone is safe

with ’round-the globe immunity,

I think that I might feel

a twinge of slight regret

and miss that unloved sign

of one-for-all mindset.

I’ll miss the muffled greeting of

“Hey, I like your mask!”

acclaimed by passerby

I didn’t even ask.

And then I must return

to pre-pandemic place

where no one ever hails me

with “Hey, I like your face!”

 

 

 


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February 28.21: Coping

Sameness.

Lines that dwindle

in a finite distance

but return, yawning,

retreat again,

pulling walls with them.

The boomerang of the hour

just spent,

but back again,

to be lived again.

The thread unraveling,

longer each day,

hapless,

dragged through life’s leavings.

Eyes numb,

ears empty but for sounds of

the breathing self,

chewing,

the scraping of a plate.

World goal:

to live without touching.

We are safe from COVID —

hooray.

 

More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg.

 


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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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November 3.20: Coping

Beset by inane logorrhea,

I turn to time-honored idea:

when the world goes askew,

make you some goo,

the original holistic panacea.

 

Here we are, dear reader, in this country, in desperate need of goo. “From sea to shining sea” used to refer to the beauty of the land; now it refers to angst, despair, fear, rage, frustration, isolation, loneliness, and profound exhaustion. And it is likely true that wherever you live it is the same. You might not have an election to deal with, but you likely have illness and death and uncertainty and loneliness stalking you. I offer you this goo by way of saying I wish I could make things better for all of us.

 

 


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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.