In search of story


November 23.20: Coping

Fear is served,

heaped, cold, on unseen platter

where empty table

speaks to us.

There was picnic once,

soda fizz

and bright mustard,

where now only air

teasing whispers from

dry grass.

In barren quiet

the words come:

what if I’m the only one?



In this country, dear reader, we enter Thanksgiving week torn. No: shredded. How do we celebrate isolation and dread? If we try to “count our blessings,” how are we not trivializing the losses among us?


More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg for this poignant image.



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


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.



Connections: November 22.17

With apologies to Laura Ingalls Wilder, I have dubbed my new home The Little House on the Retention Pond. This is the view from my back door. The previous owner graciously left her swing.

I use the word “home” guardedly. It isn’t home yet. But I am doing the first thing to make it a home: bubbling celery and onion in butter, and simmering giblets. Ah, stuffing.

When I first visited this place and saw the retention pond, my immediate thought was ICK. My second thought was MOSQUITOES! Third, maybe I should see the inside.

But once I’d been glared at by herons and snubbed by ducks, I began to feel I’d been hasty. And once I saw the reflections of the neighbors’ lights at night and the reflections of the day’s lights at dawn, I felt I owed the pond an apology. This little drop of water knows how to throw light around. And I’m a sucker for anything that sparkles.

I don’t know yet if my family will be here for Thanksgiving. What I do know is that I will have turkey and stuffing. And, if I can find the can opener (so far, no luck), I will have canned cranberry sauce. If my family comes, they will bring assorted side dishes which will be served atop festive packing boxes, artfully arranged. The shining water outside will be nicely echoed by the shining plastic drop cloths inside, the ultimate in gracious slip-and-trip living.

Meanwhile, I intend that reflecting is something we will do together, the pond and I.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear reader, from The Little House on The Retention Pond!


Connections: November 24.16

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAAh, the blessed smells

of drumstick, onion, sage!

Heady kitchen air

sets Thanksgiving stage.

Last year’s turkey fumes

ignited my writer’s brain

so I’m posting last year’s ballad

on my blog again:


1 Comment

Connections: November 26


Is there a pumpkin in your pie?

(in your pie)

Is there a lox upon your rye?

(‘pon your rye)

Pierogi, latke, dribbles on my chin,

and Brussels sprouts cannot come in.

(cannot come in)

Is there a gizzard in your pot?

(in your pot)

Giblet gravy hits the spot.

(hits the spot)

Drumstick, wishbone, grease and sticky plate,

that is why today is great.

(today is great)

Memories with nosh and sip,

(nosh and sip)

 ghosts in every crumb and drip,

(crumb and drip)

but lift we glass as high as it can be

to what has been and what will be!

(and what will be)

To be sung, more or less, to the tune of “There Is A Tavern In The Town.”

Think Mitch Miller, you who are old enough.

All others, go to Google.

And Happy Thanksgiving!



Home plates

It took me forever to find this house. Because I’m insufferably picky? Of course not. Rather because I have such bulky — not to be confused with valuable — possessions, including my parents’ dining room furniture, the stolidly 50s Duncan Phyfe set which requires a real dining room, one, in deference to logic, with a direct path to the kitchen.

In your dreams, Maureen. It ain’t happenin’. The dining room is the dinosaur: extinct, kaput.

But its vestige was there; I saw large closets called dining rooms. They held symbolic, skeletal tables and chairs and an occasional dining-room-ish piece but had no room for people. This conceptual remnant seemed a hopeful sign. So I kept looking.


Because I have three generations of dining finery. A formal table was once a part of life’s cycles, marking milestones, celebrating holidays. Polishing the silver, placing fragile plates, smoothing linen tablecloths were family ritual. When I set my dining room table, I mark those same cycles; the ritual lives, breathes, wordlessly inviting relatives long gone — and invisibly they come, teasing, huffing, sniping. (They never change.)

The first Thanksgiving here, my two very young grandchildren stopped mid-dash, their eyes latched to the table. I was thrilled to see their thrill. The table shone, not just with color and glint, but with memories. They didn’t know it, but they were seeing the ancestors who had preserved it all with the salt of good times and bad times.

That covered dish? Your great-great-grandmother’s. The stuffing in it? Your great-grandmother’s recipe. This armed chair? Your great-grandfather’s place, where he pronounced himself pater familias: the verbal selfie. My chair now.

My dining room is a family history museum with stains. Ghosts and grandchildren raise their goblets. L’chaim, dinosaur!