Oddments

In search of story


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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.

 


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Disconnections: October 29.18

 

When brutalities of day

give way

to candlelight of moon

do we find ease

and breathe

stillness?

Or do we ask

is it mere mask

for predator

conspirator

and illness?

 

 

Those of us who try to write struggle to find words for the anguish. Maybe there are none.

 


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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.