Oddments

In search of story


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February 8.19

Yesterday, dear reader, came the fifth sunless day of rain in five days. Also came the haulers in a pickup truck pulling an open wooden cart. They hauled stuff from my garage and then we drove to my storage unit and they hauled stuff from there.

And the rain poured down.

I followed them out of the storage place, and there was no way not to see the detritus of my life, soaked and wilted, riding in front of me. The big cardboard box with the old Christmas tree figured prominently in the heap. Some of the stiff old branches had fallen out and, formed yet in their bent upward curve, lay there appearing to wave goodbye to me. It was the forlornest vignette to be imagined.

That tree belonged to my parents and had seen many, many Christmases. Yes, I still have the top. Yes, it was time to let it go.

But did it have to wave at me?

And the rain poured down.

I came home and attacked the garage, sweeping and shoving and piling. The temperature was 59 and it was suddenly April. We haven’t seen the sun all week, but there was warmth! The daylilies were sprouting!

This morning the temperature is 18, windchill 0. A winter wind rattles the house and my head. Poor daylilies. Poor old frozen Christmas tree.

Mourning is a process not meant to be cured or stopped or unfelt. Grief will be, just as the winter rains will be. I loathe Pollyanna-isms, but there are those sprouting daylilies.

 


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Disconnections: December 25.18

 

Do you remember, dear reader, two Christmases ago when my big beautiful tree fell flat on its face, ornaments and all? And we (my son) had to wrestle it across the room and tie it to the bannister with twine to keep it upright? Here it is again. More or less. Well, definitely less. This is the top part.

As you know, this has been the year of The Downsize. The tree is a little shorter, and so am I. We hold a million memories anyway.

Our tinsel might be tarnished,

our limbs a bit askew

but we wish a merry Christmas

and peaceful heart to you!

 

Maureen

 

 


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Disconnections: December 23.18

 

Life has its moments

of bliss unalloyed,

of humor splenic

roundly devoid.

When eye and nose

and memory combine

to flour and fat and filling

enshrine.

In pie, in pie

the toothsome all:

in fragrance, form,

the anti-banal.

If ever our being

you seek to justify,

look but to crusted

invention of pie.

 

 

With many salivating thanks to photographer S. W. Berg.

And kudos to pastry artist Jennifer Berg.

Full disclosure: I couldn’t bake a pie even if you threatened me with Brussels sprouts.

But I can eat it.

 

 


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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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Vagaries in Gestation: November 14.18

Did you ever look at a close relative and ask yourself that hideous question “Am I like that?” No other question is so hard to answer, I think.

My mother was born 100 years ago today, and was a child of her time, as are we all. That time was one of clear-cut roles and expectations for women, and it crumbled around her during her life. She was, I think, stymied by the changes but willing to challenge her own perceptions. In a grudging sort of way. She stubbornly argued she was NOT stubborn. She was finicky and explosive and opinionated. She believed that anything worth doing was worth doing her way.

She ironed everything but rugs. And I’m not sure about the rugs. She believed in propriety and process, hard work and common sense. She inevitably bungled a punch line. She endured her own mother, although at great cost, believing it to be the moral way. Immersed in an immigrant Catholicism, she preferred Protestant humanness to Catholic etherealness. She wanted to sing “He walks with me,” not “Panis Angelicus.”

If I could fit her into a blog post, she wouldn’t be my mother.

So I salute my mom today and ask the answerless question: Am I like that?

 

Vagaries in Gestation

 


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Disconnections: September 1.18

Many years ago, I taught in a pretty little red brick school across the street from the National Cathedral in D.C. I walked to and from school every day, right past that towering Gothic wonder, its gargoyles keeping wary eyes on me from their unfinished perches, sometimes its carillon belling from the clouds. Often I would stop in after school. Sometimes I was the only one there, or so it seemed. Always with a sense of unreality, I stood in that vast space, feeling both diminished and uplifted. Isn’t that the purpose of Gothic? Doesn’t it force our eyes up, and don’t our spirits follow? There was nothing there that wasn’t beautiful to me, in both the enclosed silence and the embrace of balance.

It seemed to shelter me and yet leave me open to some mysterious elements. I never quite believed I was there. I remember.

In that time, I learned what it meant to stand alone in that graceful vastness, I learned what it meant to fall in love with a classroom of sixth-graders, I turned 23.

I just returned to that cathedral to watch John McCain’s funeral, overflowing with the here and now. But part of me was back in the there and then. Through all those seated dignitaries, I could see that girl-woman who was me, her arms full of books and papers, moving in her snail’s pace, trying to absorb her fleeting present. She was very aware of transience.

I think she turned and looked at me, in her future, and I’m wondering what she saw.