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From the Keyboard

Retirement

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Painting by Rene Magritte

I was reading—or thought I was reading—a lovely book when it occurred to me that my attention had drifted here.

It’s been a long time since my last post.

I was distracted…by what I’m now referring to as a perfect storm. The thing about  storms like that, is that you often don’t know they’re approaching until it’s too late, then all the right, or very wrong, conditions amass to overwhelm you.

As is also the case with perfect storms, they seldom leave those in their path unscathed. And when they pass, it often takes more time than you’d imagine to assess the extent of the damage, and recover from it….

Thankfully, this part of the process seems to be underway (ptui, ptui, ptui—I’m not taking anything for granted), but the result of it is that I find I need to pull back and figure out what is essential and what is not.

And what is most essential for the present, is taking time to rediscover the joy of creation that brought me to my keyboards in the first place.

I will be back to this blog here and there with news, or the occasional thought and observation, although not with any regularity; but in the meantime, I hope you’ll continue to stop by to look at past posts, try some of the recipes, and read what some of my amazingly gifted and insightful guests had to say. They are an incredible group of people.

Until I return, I wish you happiness and good health.

Blessings to all.

©2018 All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

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Uncommon

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The man in the suit was middle-aged, unremarkable.

I was walking toward the entrance of an office building.

~ ~ ~

I was raised to be well-mannered, say, please, thank you, Sir, Ma’am, at the appropriate times. It’s important to know this up front, as important as it is to know that I could also snap sweetly if the situation called for it, always with a smile.

My mother was an expert at this. As one who had an unwavering sense of herself as Somebody (and, Lord knows, she had reason to feel that way given all the challenges she’d faced and overcome), she did not tolerate disrespect from anyone, and could slice offenders to ribbons with the utterance of one word: Dear. Always with a smile on her face. Always with a stony glare.

She wasn’t the only woman of her generation who had this skill. I watched others — relatives, friends’ mothers, teachers, and more — wield the same epithet with as much precision as my mother, always with the same smile and fearsome eye.

~ ~ ~

I didn’t see the man until I reached the building’s front door. Then, suddenly, he was there, inches from me.

Because of the way I was brought up, I moved aside and opened the door for him.

I didn’t expect him to pause, except, perhaps, to say, “Thank you,” but he did. “What are you?” He sneered. “One of those feminists?”

“Just being polite, Sir.” I smiled. “Would you rather I let the door slam in your face?”

He reddened and stormed into the building alone, while I waited outside until an elevator carried him away.

~ ~ ~

I’m not in favor of ad hominem attacks or cheap shots, and will not use them, as my mother refrained from using them. She found such attacks disgusting and beneath her dignity, and, as far as I’m concerned, she was right: they accomplish nothing, prove nothing but the witlessness of the attacker. However, she would have agreed, when the commonest of courtesies are perceived as a type of political statement deserving of vocal ridicule, there is cause for a pointed retort.

Always with a smile, of course.

© 2018 All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

The Home

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The following is a true story.

It happened in a clothing outlet, one mid-morning in early September.

A mother and teenage daughter were waiting on line. The mother was fifty-ish, probably near, or in the throes of, her changes and looked like someone who paid close attention to her diet and exercised regularly. If she was anything like I was at that age, she was probably at war with her body much of the time and the five extra pounds waiting to glom on to her with every bite of any carbohydrate. From where I stood, however, she was obviously winning as she was trim, and very fit in her skinny jeans and crisply tailored shirt.

If she had gray hairs, they were masked well by strategically placed highlights. Like most women at that age, she had a few lines on her face, but what struck me most was her fatigued expression. As clearly as she adored the girl, I sensed she would rather have been at home reading a good book than shopping.

As space on the conveyor belt cleared, the mother began placing items on it—tee shirts, sweaters, shoes, waiting for the two women ahead of her to pay and leave.

They were also a mother and daughter, but the former—short, elderly, with rounded shoulders and coarse, steel-hued hair—stood aside, steadying herself by holding on to their shopping cart’s handle as the former—close in age to the teenager’s mother—paid for the items.

When all their bags were in the cart, and the sales receipt was in the daughter’s hand, they walked to the exit, the daughter staying close to her mother, who continued to use the cart for support.

The teenage girl’s mother watched the pair leave, and as she stepped up to the register, and took her wallet out of her purse, she gazed into her daughter’s eyes. “Will you take care of me like that when I’m old?”

The girl didn’t miss a beat. “Nope,” she said. “It’s straight to the home for you.”

I suspected she was joking, but her mom didn’t laugh.

©2018 All Rights Reserved

 

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