Oddments

In search of story


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Connections: May 13.18

It’s that time again: time to get on my apostrophe soap box. It’s “Mother’s Day” all over the place, but I insist on “Mothers’ Day.” Not only is it a day to celebrate all mothers, but it’s also a day that’s been so homogenized and hysterialized that Mom is what Hallmark has made her. Mothers’ Day hysteria hits hard. Now — heaven help us — there are even pop-up ads to remind us we need to do more.

Back in the day, it was simpler: you snuck someplace and made a heart-rending card out of construction paper and erasures. And you went hanky-shopping with your dad. “Hanky” is short for “handkerchief,” a decorative, often beautiful, piece of cloth we used to blow our noses in. Or for our mothers to spit on and wipe some goo off our chins. Or (we were Catholic) to plop on your head if you were a hatless woman (gasp) entering a church. Hankies were nothing if not versatile.

One year my brother gave Mom the Hope Diamond of hankies, lacy, white, with a very elaborate embroidered “M” on it, much to her bewilderment (her name was Evelyn). What’s the M for? she asked naively. “M for Mom!” he replied, with some exasperation — why did she need to ask?

After Mom died, I threw out many things, but I couldn’t bring myself to throw out her hankies, which now live in a drawer upstairs. Including the one with the flowing regal “M.”

Whatever your memories for the day, dear reader, I hope there is a mom or a grandma in your heart, on the phone, or maybe across the table. Maybe even an old hanky in your pocket.

 

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Connections: April 11.18

 

Mom said, “Don’t mix patterns,”

and I think I can see why;

these every-which-way lines

make my eyeballs go awry.

Yet pattern clash intrigues,

attests to solemn truth:

maternal admonitions

go the way of the phone booth.

 

 

More thanks to the S.W. Berg Photo Archives.

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Connections: March 19.18

MY (VERY) TRIED AND TRUE FRIEND KIMBALL

Yesterday I said goodbye

in private chilly wake

empty chairs attending

my lonely little ache.

For over fifty years

in rages and in joys

my ten, its eighty-eight

conspired to make noise.

Responsive, empathetic

not like other things

it lifted up my spirit

and gave my fingers wings.

You cannot understand

unless you’ve parted too

with a beautiful piano

that grew old along with you.

 

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Connections: March 10.18

Spring is in the air

like American Family Flakes

my gardener’s soul is tranquil

like California quakes.

 

 

If you, dear reader, remember American Family Flakes, you might also remember Kukla, Fran, and Ollie.  Or Garfield Goose. Such are the flashbacks from a simple spring snow.

I just encountered an unopened box of American Family Flakes for sale online for just under $70.00. Our mothers would go into cardiac arrest.

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Connections: March 6.18

I remember the days of jumping in pain

on devious carpet of shag

stuck in my toe

by bionic foe

or light saber attached to my leg.

The shag is long gone, my legs varicose,

but a part is still little-boy’d;

Star Wars endures

prequeling perdures

in eternal Wookie and droid.

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Connections: December 23.17

A plate of Christmas cookies

is so much more than that

it’s a serving of family history

forebears’ concordat

it’s Grandma’s recipe card

in her distinctive hand

it’s Mom’s poinsettia plate

generational ampersand

connecting younger fingers

with those gone long before

sweet and sticky memories

toothsome family lore.

 

 

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