Oddments

In search of story


7 Comments

March 17.20

Shamrocks and shillelaghs,

leprechauns and gold,

corned beef and some blarney,

happily rigmaroled,

can’t belay the sadness

or take away the fear,

but can soften “social distance,”

letting words bring us more near.

 

Wishing us all better times on this St. Paddy’s Day, dear reader.

Maureen

 

With many thanks to Susan Rushton

for helping me get photos back in my posts!


2 Comments

December 12.19

Many the Christmas

has faded away,

but here are a couple

preserved for today.

The curly-haired toddler,

a bit knobby of knee,

recalls the first Christmas

for cute little me.

The other, my parents,

with some of their caucus,

a nefarious bunch,

unruly and raucous.

A time to be serious

about four-in-hand,

and to mutter at tinsel

hung strand by strand.

Life wasn’t perfect then,

but still I hold dear

the Christmases seen

in life’s rearview mirror.

 

That’s my dad in the middle, and my mom is the one looking down at him; I can’t tell if she’s thinking what a great guy he is or his collar needs more starch. You will notice, dear reader, the Christmas tree in the far right of the photo. If you can remember the insanity of hanging tinsel strand by maddening strand, then you also remember the days when ties were what you could always get your dad for Christmas.

 

 


5 Comments

December 8.19

The curtain may come down

on their soaring sounds,

their tearing, teasing

rhythms,

but the curtain also rises

on the future

they will be.

The baton

(magic wand),

the hands that sculpt sound

and send it into the world as music,

directors of the hormone-crazed,

prophets who see the good

and the hope —

God bless them, every one!

 

This was the final bow of my granddaughter’s high school Christmas program. It was wonderful, and one of the countless times I have given thanks for music teachers. What their ears have to go through! And what miracles are wrought! I am ever grateful to all teachers of all arts. STEM is good, but I think STEAM is better. I wish you the joy of music in your December, dear reader, whatever you are celebrating.

 


8 Comments

November 26.19

The road to here

from distant there

is mapped as

greasy thoroughfare.

‘Mid stain and splotch,

old gizzard drip,

evolution in

encrypted scrip.

Notes to self

in mishmashed order

chase themselves

around the border,

not merely scrap,

timepiece instead,

the years piled up

like cubes of bread.

From my neatnik Mom

through freeform me

the family stuffing

legacy,

preserved in splat

of butter, sage,

for, I hope,

another age.

 

There was nothing like it: the smell on Thanksgiving morning. No, not coffee and bacon. Onion and celery and butter! Smells to float on. Dad would go to Mass and some years I went with him, but usually I stayed home to help. OK, so it should be “help.” I was very good at putting things away just before they were needed, and I was very good at reminding my mother how I disliked pumpkin pie. What a model child I was!

I hope your Thanksgiving memories are good ones, dear reader, and that, amid the bleakness of our times, we can give thanks for the things and people we know to be true and good.

I thank all of you who have stopped by my blog and left an encouraging word or like. Writing is ever on the edge of not-writing, and your kindnesses have kept me going many times.

A very happy Thanksgiving to you, dear reader!

If there is travel, may you and yours come and go in safety.

 


4 Comments

September 1.19

The porch, the porch!

What marvel, it!

Wordless greeting:

“Come and sit!”

In rocker, swing,

or wicker chair,

we bask inside

in outside air.

Gossip, cookie,

sip of tea,

a honk, a wave,

reverie —

we pretend to read,

shaded from sun,

but the book falls away

and we fool no one.

Unwalled parlor

mooring the ‘hood,

big bear hug

from painted wood,

any porch is

fine by me,

but melon-bedecked

especially!

 

Many thanks to photographer S.W. Berg.

 

What is it about this image, dear reader, that seems to be a most splendid greeting for Labor Day? Is it the hoorah of the watermelon red? The thick, disciplined hedge? The leafiness of late summer? The invitation to rest? The certainty that somewhere unseen is a sweating glass pitcher of iced tea with Wyler’s lemonade mix (and lots of sugar)?

I pass it along to all of you in hopes that you too can look at it and think of porches and late summers you have known. I wish you a relaxing Labor Day, dear reader, and a good harvest. May all be safe from Dorian.

 

 

 

 


2 Comments

Fourth of July, 2019

 

All the problems we face in the United States today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indian. 

—- Pat Paulson, presidential candidate, Smothers Brothers Party, neither right wing nor left wing but, as he said, middle of the bird, in the hallowed ’60s.

 

Happy Birthday, America!

We salute imperfect you!

Blessings on your Ship of State

from your ever motley crew!

 


6 Comments

April 28.19

The news makes me rabid. The endless rain makes me squishy in the head. Aging plagues me. And to make the world an even drearier place, our excellent local art supply store has been bought out and now closed by Michael’s. Another valued small business pulverized.

I dwell in the doldrums. My only hope is cookies. There is no other way to find good in the world.

In my childhood I learned about the good in cookies. Mom and Grandma O’Hern were cookie-bakers. Not that they didn’t bake other things, but they were believers in cookies, and thank goodness. A cookie fits in your hand so much more easily than a piece of pie or cake (though it’s quite possible to eat either from the hand if you aren’t too fussy).

Besides, there was “Raggedy Ann in Cookie Land,” one of my all-time favorite stories. Cookies that walked and talked and lived in a cookie house? You’d think such things would keep me from ever eating another cookie, but it didn’t work like that. It just added to the magic of cookies.

Maybe you also, dear reader, are driven to the doldrums by the news and by trying to deal with losses and worries in your own life. So I offer you my most favorite of favorite cookie recipes, my drug of choice, my portal to Nirvana. It is based on the old (not the current!) recipe for “Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies” on the Quaker Oats lid.

 

Better-Than-Phoebe’s Oatmeal Cookies

1 C. butter (no substitutes)

1 C. firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 C. granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 t. plus a tiny dribble Penzeys vanilla

1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour

1 t. baking soda

1/2 t. salt

1 t. plus a pinch of Penzeys Korintje cinnamon

a few grinds of fresh nutmeg

3 C. Old-Fashioned Quaker Oatmeal (don’t be generous)

1 C. dark (not golden) Sun-Maid raisins

1/2-1 C. chopped dates (the best are the ones you chop yourself)

1/2 C. Heath toffee bits without chocolate (my grandchildren’s brilliant idea)

Whisk dry ingredients together. Beat butter and sugars, then add eggs and beat some more. Mix in vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix well, then the oatmeal, raisins, dates and toffee bits. Dough will weigh a ton.

If possible, refrigerate dough at least overnight. Bake at 350 for about five minutes, then turn cookie sheet and bake another four minutes or so, depending on your oven. Cool on wire racks. Makes lots but never enough.

 

These are called “Better-Than-Phoebe’s” because of the episode of “Friends” wherein Phoebe says her oatmeal cookies are the best so she doesn’t bake them very often because it’s not fair to the other cookies.

I mention brand names so you will know exactly what I use.

If you want really chewy cookies, add coconut. Dark chocolate chips are another acceptable addition. However, such additions risk changing the nature of the oatmeal cookie, and that is unseemly to purists.

Wishing you homemade cookies, dear reader,

Maureen


7 Comments

March 5.19

Of all the rites of spring

as sure as tulip spear

the forty days of Lent

anchored budding year.

Forsaking sweets (so saintly!)

with purpled liturgies

we plodded ash-benighted

with callouses on knees.

Fish and macaroni

— with a ho, for purgatory! —

we loved and gobbled up

in pleasure gustatory,

and through the season’s sackcloth

on temptation’s slippery brink

cinnamony hot cross buns,

penitential wink.

I laugh at memories ancient

and admonishments infernal

but I don’t laugh at the lesson

that spring can be internal.

 

 Whatever your traditions, dear reader,

may Shrove Tuesday bring you spring!

 

With more thanks to photographer S.W. Berg.


2 Comments

Disconnections: December 31.18

Star-bearing elder

tower of green

enwrapped in rainbowed

brigandine

too brief its light

too short its spell

in meaning too

ephemeral.

 

Every night, dear reader, I look across the pond at my neighbor’s gorgeous old evergreen with its brilliant joyful display of light. My own little tree puffs up in imitation.