Monthly Archives: November 2017

A Thanksgiving Feast, Intimate

We stood next to the dining room table, a 1920’s Art Deco antique passed down from my great-grandmother Nanny. Decades-old scratches laced its corners but a fresh coat of furniture polish and a sprinkling of orange and brown Thanksgiving-themed decor, carefully placed earlier before they arrived, brought it into modern festivity.

“How many meals have been eaten at this table over the generations?” my dad observed with a hint of nostalgia as he scanned the room, his grey-white hair neatly combed and a crisp flannel button-up clothing his smallish frame.

I eyed the antique buffet cupboard next to the table. “I thought about taking all that stuff off and putting the desserts on top,” I replied. It was strategically covered with recipe books and photographs and trinkets and candles. It was always covered with coconut pies and chocolate cakes during holidays at Nanny’s house.

This Thanksgiving it was just the four of us- my mom, dad, and teenage son. It still feels weird to say that, ‘teenage’. In so many ways he is still just a boy. His dark-blond hair tousled and his imagination still intact. Although his appetite is one of a teenager. His meat-eating is making up for all the mammals he did not consume the first several years of his life.

I’d also set the table before my parents arrived, arranging the crystal glasses and beautiful black and silver bone china plates on the brown and gold place-mats. The plates were as flawless as they’d been when they arrived in packages at the doorstep as wedding gifts for me and my soon-to-be husband. He did not ask for any of the china when we separated or officially divorced. I would have shared it with him, of course. It took a year or so afterwards for me to even look at the china. Now I wash and dry them carefully after holiday meals, tracing the raised etchings with my fingers.

My mom and I shared a bottle of wine, perfectly chilled and light and brisk, just as I imagine the vines in Washington, from where it came. Back in the small and warmly-lit kitchen our appetizer spread was a gorgeous mingling of banana bread, fine cheeses, fresh fruit, honey, and my mom’s amazing deviled eggs, sprinkled with paprika. We ate and drank and chatted while the teenager napped peacefully on the couch. The main course just an hour from ready to devour.

When the yeast rolls were browned and the salad tossed with olive oil and white balsamic vinegar, it was time. We filled our stately plates with an assortment of both mine and my parent’s favorite holiday dishes. The light and crunchy salad paired well with the warm green bean casserole and fluffy potatoes. Tart and sweet cranberry sauce made the perfect coupling with the savory, chicken casserole (we do that instead of the traditional turkey, it is a hundred times better). Baked sweet potatoes sprinkled with cinnamon and a touch of butter is good any time of year.

We enjoyed the dinner back at the dining room table, my dad at the head and my son on the other end, my mom across from me. We filled our bellies and mused and laughed. The pumpkin-scented candles flickered on the dark wood. The open window left a cool breeze to gently cascade in as the squirrels played around the big oak tree. Frank Sinatra and the like serenaded through the stereo speakers. No phones buzzing or ringing.

The table was cleared and an engaging game of “Heads Up” began. Then we slipped into a family traditional card game of “Oh Heck” which brings out the competitive nature in even me and my mom. I finally won! After all these years!

Dessert followed, still on bone china, although these plates smaller and more delicate. Home-made creamy, spiced pumpkin pie from my mom, and Coke-cola chocolate cake made by me and my son. A perfectly sweet ending.

There were times when we had sort of a house full on Thanksgiving. Various friends and family over the years and in several different dining rooms or lanais. Although this one not a house full, it felt full in the way it does when company has encased you with good energy and love and you are left smiling and dancing as you clean the remnants of a Thanksgiving feast, intimate.

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Filed under Observations, Yep I'm Becoming My Mother

Sometimes it’s OK to just watch birds

When was the last time you stared into nowhere, or better yet at something out in nature? I mean like really lost yourself in the moment with no dings or tings or rings perpetuating your space or thinking?

I find it harder and harder to acquire moments like these. Recently I did a little experiment where I turned off all notifications on my phone. So no matter what form of communication trying to contact/lure/disrupt was not available to my anticipating ear. I found I had more peace in that day and probably lower blood pressure.

It’s not to say I don’t welcome contact with friends or family. But all this technology and availability 24/7 can be exhausting and stressful. Couple that with the daily grind and you find yourself longing to stare out into the abyss.

Especially when the weather is nice I like to gaze at the tops of trees dancing in the wind or under the glow of the moon. This is something I discovered by accident a few years ago. Sometimes days or even weeks go by when I don’t do this, however. Work and domestic duties and the pulsing of time does not lend itself to such leisure provocation. Then perhaps during a buzzing moment I catch a glimpse of a bluebird or heron or hawk and I’m reminded to stop and just watch and BE. There is something so peaceful and organic about engaging in something so simple.

We tend to look down at our racing feet or ahead at our constant to-dos. Children are always looking up and noticing things we don’t, like a wasp’s nest or a pink airplane or a woodpecker in a tree. We should strive to grab some of that youthful curiosity.

Maybe those old ladies who sit on park benches and feed birds have it right, too. Maybe they are laughing at us, thinking we’re out of our minds.

 

Drawing by John James Audubon, who started a revolution of bird watchers. 

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Filed under Observations

The Rabbit Outside My Door 

A rabbit lives just outside my door
I call him Bun-bun

He travels the cloud-filled night
And nestles all day while the sun shines bright

For him a cozy nook under a pygmy palm
watching me leave with each new dawn

And when I arrive alongside sunset’s burn
the alcove is empty, awaiting his return

What goes on behind his big, black eyes
Where does he go underneath starry skies

It has become quite routine
for me to greet this cute little thing

And I shall be saddened so
when his nook is bare forevermore.

images

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Filed under Sunday Night Sonnet

Along Autumn’s Shadowy Road

Along Autumn’s shadowy road
among scattered leaves
and ever-blooming hibiscus
a scent surrounds and encapsulates
a time when you were here

Lace curtains and tobacco
warm biscuits and apple butter
a long drive to your houses
the train chugging beside the highway
or heard in the distance at night

Afternoons on the red metal swing
climbing trees
stepping on crab apples
dancing clothes on the line
robust tomatoes in the garden

You came to me in a dream
respectively
young faces
and smiling eyes

Along Autumn’s shadowy road
among a post-summer wind
a lamenting of the past
and an emptiness in the heart
yet peace settles in

Still I stare at the photographs
and pretend you are just a long drive
away.

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Filed under Sunday Night Sonnet