Wednesday, December 30, 2020

small poems about winter (written over the course of many years)


old year
new year
the cat sleeps

New Year’s day
waking the frozen
wind chimes

before my eyes
amaryllis plant blooms
first dream in the new year

yew tree
holds its breath
first snow

the ocean

halfway across
the frozen river
coming or going?

after the snow
100 paper cranes
cling to the evergreen

up to our knees in snow
taking the long way

do you wish you were
in Paris this morning?

patiently waiting
tea cools
snow falls

climbing this mountain
counting footsteps
counting snowflakes

around a chatty neighbor
snow piles up

spinning spinning
disguised as a crow
swallowing snow

far from the storm
watching the weather channel
my father shivers

lazy day
watching icicles melt
nothing more

midwinter present
wrapped in snow

in the meantime
a year passes
her blue shawl unravels

i’m happy to share the bathroom with you
this cold winter night

shoveling snow
under the full moon —
my neighbors seem friendlier

plastic plant
on the side of the road
do you feel the cold?

midnight loneliness
drip drip drip drip drip

fishing for the moon
one long cold evening

sweeping snow
the broom loses strands of straw
what do I lose?

December morning
wearing 8 different shades
of black

winter fireflies
the flickering lights
in my neighbor’s window

this long red light
enough time
to inhale winter

waking from a deep sleep
nothing is the same
winter solstice

waiting for the snow to arrive
that’s how much i miss
having company

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

moonglow (revisited): a collection of small poems

lonely moon
i know a heron who would
welcome you into her nest

sleepy moon
i crocheted an afghan
for you to snuggle under

ballet moon
utterly adorable
in your tangerine tutu

shakespearean moon
surely it is better to be
than not to be

bear moon
i'm all out of honey
but please come for tea anyway

laughing moon
i love the way
your belly rises and falls

haiku moon
each syllable
brings me closer to you

walking moon
in your brand new sneakers
i can hardly keep up with you

patient moon
inching toward you
your friend the spider

upside-down moon
now the rivers don't know if
they're coming or going

nearsighted moon
how often have you mistaken
dustballs for dragons?

matchmaker moon
what a brilliant introduction
bee, meet flower

insomnia moon
when you can't sleep
do you count stars?

old woman moon
still looking through
young woman eyes

rebel moon
breaking all the rules
you make for yourself

forgetful moon
may I suggest

possessive moon
you'd have more friends
if you shared your pretty marbles

brave moon
you stood up for me
i'll do the same for you

fashionista moon
on you
the hot pink feather boa is divine

yoga moon
perhaps you've been standing on your head
long enough

mango moon
to get enough of you

disheveled moon
you look like you were tossed around
by your dreams last night

thrifty moon
shopping with you isn't as much fun
as i thought it would be

bronx moon
i'm sorry to have to say this
you can't go home again

march moon
your heart opens
the songbirds return

grieving moon
countless waves
carry your tears away

tango moon
claiming the horizon
as your own private ballroom

worn-out moon
now is the time
to sink into a lavender bubble bath

curious moon
go right ahead
ask me anything

hula hoop moon
spinning winter
into spring

new moon
take a flashlight
the next time you go to the outhouse

no-poem moon
all i can do is love you
there are no words

roller skating moon
who would have thought you could be
so graceful on wheels

turtle moon
leave your shell on the sandy shore
let's go skinny dipping

purple moon
i almost mistook you
for a field of irises

zen moon
i dropped by to help you
rake your rock garden

cautious moon
you must be weary
sleeping with one eye open

mother moon
i think of you each year
at lilac time

ice cream moon
not everyone can handle 3 scoops
but you can

garden moon
thank you for reminding me
nobody owns the flowers

full moon
when you feel shy
come hide behind my curtain

flirtatious moon
there you are
playing footsie with the stars

rejuvenating moon
when i feel old and tired
i look for you

bewitching moon
the window shades refused
to shut you out last night

snowy day moon
so lucky
nobody expects you to shovel

pen-pal moon
after all these years
i still can't read your handwriting

midnight moon
we're both still awake
come down and cuddle up

stay-at-home moon
put your feet up
have another cup of cocoa

solstice moon
longest night of the year
let's play hide and seek in the dark

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Aunt Willa Goes Green: A Hanukkah Tale

The family is becoming increasingly concerned about Aunt Willa, my mother's oldest sister, the one who has adopted an environmental stance more radical than you might expect from a woman who, until recently, proclaimed as her personal motto: “More More More!”
But now it's “less less less” and she is vigorously pruning — her closets, her cupboards — which is all well and good, but for some reason the concept of anonymous re-giving holds no appeal for Willa. She has turned her back on the Salvation Army Thrift Store, as well as numerous consignment shops in her neighborhood, and has chosen to recycle her old garbage in the direction of her relatives, whether we like it or not. And we don't like it.
It began last year when she sent everyone a tuna can for Hanukkah. The cans were empty — either a plus or a minus, depending on your opinion of tuna fish — and haphazardly adorned. Some were lined with cotton balls, some with felt; some with what appeared to be bits of old socks. You either got a tuna can with used gift-wrapping paper taped around the outside, or one that was entirely undisguised and let you know exactly what it used to contain: albacore or light, solid or chunky, packed in water or in oil. Nothing was left to the imagination.
Aunt Willa enclosed notes, written on the back of used envelopes, instructing us that the tuna cans could now be used to store our tchochkes and what-nots. But in typical Willa fashion she admonished us. “Why do you continue to accumulate tchotchkes?” she demanded, in her large loopy handwriting. “Down with tchotchkes! Go Green!” she added.
We all disposed of the tuna cans immediately. I know this because we have a cousins list-serve and some of us (naming no names) did not actually recycle the cans, but tossed them directly in the trash. (I know, I know: shame on me.) And since none of us are inclined to accumulate tchochkes and what-nots in the first place, Aunt Willa’s Hanukkah gift was appreciated by not a single soul.
For my birthday last spring, Willa sent me a paperback copy of Crime and Punishment. It was the very copy she'd read in college, copiously annotated, margin notes on nearly every page. It came as no surprise to discover that Aunt Willa had an opinion about everything. “Raskolnikov!” she scribbled on page two, “get a new hat already! Where are your brains?”
I consulted with my cousin Lilian. She received a book for her birthday as well, a tattered volume of Hamlet. “It was horrifying,” she told me. “The things our aunt wrote, nobody should have to read that. There were curses in 4 different languages, including Danish. She's totally ruined Shakespeare for me.”
Over the course of a year the entire family has been subjected to similar assaults, as Willa ruthlessly clears her bookshelves. Cousin Harry, who's always been a little twitchy, is worried that the Peter Pan she foisted off on him could land him on the “dangerous persons” list with homeland security. He buried the book in his backyard, which is something Harry could do because he lives in Tenafly; anyone else would have thrown it down the incinerator chute in their apartment building and been done with it. Now his wife Rosalie, who is even twitchier than Harry, is afraid some dog will dig up the book and Harry will be hauled off and never seen again. His fingerprints are all over that Peter Pan.
My own father became apoplectic when he saw Willa’s margin notes in her old copy of Portnoy's Complaint.

“Why did he keep on reading?” I asked my mother. “That,” she said “is the million dollar question. To which there is no answer.”

I'm worried about what this Hanukkah will bring. Mom's already warned me that Aunt Willa has been going through the letters she received, and saved, over the last seven decades, reading each one over and over again. We suspect she will now return them to those senders who are still alive.

Who wants to be reminded of what you wrote to your aunt from summer camp in 1961? “Made three laniards today. Went swimming. Stepped on a worm.”

And knowing Aunt Willa, she won't merely return our letters to us, she'll persecute us. “What do you mean, 'stepped on a worm?' What kind of maniac murderer are you? You're no relative of mine. You’re worse than Raskolnikov.”

I've never dreaded a holiday as much as I'm dreading this one.
Perhaps I should strike first. I could always give Aunt Willa an empty tube of toothpaste: “For storing your long skinny tchochkes and what-nots,” I'd tell her.

But I won't. Why start a war I know I can't win?

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

A Thanksgiving Letter (revisited)

Thanksgiving Day, 9 a.m.

Dear Ava,
I’ve been up since six, bet you were too, and I wish I could have come over but Daddy says it’s slutty the way I run over to your house all the time and I told him it’s not slutty when it’s two girls but he said he’s speaking metaphorically and anyway this is Thanksgiving (like I didn’t know that) and it’s meant for families to be with families, which is just plain stupid, but anyway that’s why I’m writing to you and not talking to you in person and as soon as I can get out the front door without being caught I’ll run this over and put it in your mailbox. I hope you look there. Try to read my mind this second: M-A-I-L  B-O-X.
Do you like this paper? It’s not really purple. I know it looks purple but it’s called mauve and no I didn’t spell it wrong, my grandma sent it with a note telling me the color because she’s always trying to improve my mind, so get used to this mauve, you’ll be seeing a lot of it, who else would I write to?
She also sent me a book, "A Child’s Garden of Verses," she is so two centuries ago, but I don’t want to be mad at her because the reason she’s sending me this stuff instead of waiting until Hanukkah is she thinks she might be dead by then which is really sad. But on the other hand it’s not sad because there’s nothing wrong with her, she just gets seasonal dread she calls it, but if she’s still alive on New Year’s Day then I’m really going to be mad at her for being so negative about life.
There was a lot of activity in the kitchen early this morning, Dad and his new live-in girlfriend playing around with the turkey, giggle, giggle, giggle. I stayed up in my room because watching them make out over a naked animal would turn my stomach, but now they’ve gone back to bed and it’s quiet as the grave though any second I expect to hear her panting and oh-my-god-ing and I'm sure this is not good for me, mental health-wise, but Dad, being a psychologist, would probably say “Facts of life, Dorrie, get used to it.”
So I'm just wondering about something: “quiet as the grave,” what do you think? Is it quiet in the grave? I doubt it. Gross. Hold on a sec, I’m going to change the channel in my mind. Okay, I’m back.
My ex-step-mother and her two gnomes will be here at noon. Is this the weirdest thing you’ve ever heard of? My father is like one of those men with a harem, he gets his ex and his current to come and fuss over him with their cranberry sauces and we’re all supposed to act like it’s normal. He says “We make the rules, not society” but by "we" he means "he" because if I made the rules I’d be at your house right now and we’d have mac-and-cheese from the microwave and we'd play with the Ouija board until our finger tips fell off.
One of the things I’d really like to know is how a woman who is old enough to drive still can’t figure out the meaning of the word vegetarian. When Dad’s live-in realizes I’m not going to eat a single ounce of that 300 pound turkey there’s going to be World War 4 in the dining room. My ex-step-mother might even start crying. She’ll be sad because now that she’s a guest in the house she won’t get to call me names and throw fits. But you never know, anything can happen, I’m sort of hoping for a food fight with the two gnomes, for old time’s sake.

So now it is so much later, how did this happen?
You might have noticed I still haven’t managed to get this letter into your mailbox, hope you haven’t been waiting there, that is if you read my mind in the first place. Did you?
There’s something of a scene going on downstairs, I’ll tell you every single detail when I see you tomorrow, but for now just try to picture this: After the so-called feast my ex-step-mother stood up and recited a poem she wrote especially for the occasion. I thought she would have outgrown that sensitive phase of hers, but apparently not. It was a very long poem, seemed like 3 hours, and I didn’t understand all of it, but I think it was supposed to be erotic, and it kind of upset the live-in who might be living out soon. Hallelujah.
This is the last letter you’ll get from me on this mauve paper. You remember Jeffrey, one of my former step-gnomes, well he was hanging out in my room — don’t ask me how he got through the barricade — and it turns out mauve is his favorite color, which was something of a shocker but not in a totally bad way, so he’s taking the whole box of stationery off my hands except for one sheet which I’ll use to write a thank you note to my grandmother. I couldn’t get him to take "A Child’s Garden of Verses," though. What did I expect? It’s only Thanksgiving. They don’t promise you miracles on Thanksgiving.

Look for me early in the morning, I’ll be right there on your doorstep. You'll know it's me because in spite of everything that happened today I still look the same. On the outside.

Love, Dorrie

Monday, August 3, 2020

A Young Woman's Diary (1916) — presented in weekly installments

A quiet hour of reading this morning.

Mother had a sick headache and did not come downstairs all day.

Very weak sunlight, but not too cold.

I have been thinking about the planets.

The roast was too rare so I ate no dinner.

The good vase broke today, the violet-colored one.

Mother said she wanted to go for a walk but then she changed her mind.

Alas, I did not have a quiet hour of reading this morning.

Miss W brought over a jar of preserves. I will have to bring her something, but not until next week.

I did not sleep well last night.

A flock of geese, just after one o'clock.

Fluffy caught her paw on a nail. Quite a crisis.

A trip to the library to exchange my books.

The Tapper sisters stayed too long and spoke a lot of nonsense.

No one can locate the largest serving spoon. Much distress.

Miss W asked how we liked the preserves. I said they were very fine. I must remember to try them. I have not yet brought her anything in return.

Mother says she is longing for her garden. I told her "soon" but we both know it will be a while.

Mr D came for tea. Uninvited. He looks sickly.

I have been thinking about the number seven.

The serving spoon has been found.

I did not sleep well again last night.

My embroidery is getting worse, not better.

Mother complained of a sick headache and asked for breakfast in her room. As usual.

There have been strange noises in the pantry.

I wonder if the piano will ever be in tune again.

The light was glorious today but it is still too cold to stay out for long.

A quiet hour of reading before bed.

Mother was humming in the bath. What can that mean?

Where is my little gold locket?

Miss W asked if I baked the scones myself. I assured her that I did.

There hasn't been any sunshine for two days.

Mother stayed in bed all day. She did not eat much. I ate two eggs.

I had no trouble falling asleep last night and this morning I was up with the worms.

A quiet hour of reading in the afternoon.

It was impossible to get warm today.

Mr D said there is something very important he wants to ask me. I said "Please don't."

I have still not found my gold locket.

There seems to be something wrong with my left eye.

My eye is completely better today.

I heard Mother humming again but I did not recognize the tune.

Received a letter from L today. She is now in Venice. I try not to care.

Fluffy is going to have kittens. She is behaving strangely but I suppose that is to be expected.

Mr D appeared in the afternoon and I told him to go away.

I have decided never to wear yellow again.

My latest books from the library are all disappointing.

Mother is not pleased with me but refuses to explain why.

I have been thinking about the planets again. And also about the stars.

I will soon need a new hat.

The light was good today. I sat at the window and watched the clouds.

A quiet hour of reading this morning and another hour before bed.

My gold locket has been found! It was in my glove box all along. Mysterious.

I asked Miss G for assistance today when I visited the library. She was gracious and accommodating. I returned with two new novels and high expectations.

I purchased a new bottle of ink this morning and spent the afternoon writing letters that I will not send.

Mr D arrived, uninvited, and offered to read to Mother. I informed him that Mother would not find that to be a pleasurable experience and he departed quickly.

Fluffy has disappeared.

Miss C asked if I would be willing to pose for her. I replied that I did not feel simpatico with the camera. She said perhaps she would ask me on another day.

A quiet hour of reading this evening.

Miss W brought a small bouquet of flowers from her garden. Mother had a sneezing attack.

Fluffy was found behind the kitchen stove, along with her babies — five adorable kittens.

A perfectly nice day. I considered going on a picnic but then decided it was pleasant enough indoors.

I have been thinking about this: what is a good omen, and what is a bad omen?

Received another unsatisfying letter from L. It was polite and vague.

Mother remained too long in the garden. Now she has a sick headache.

A quiet hour of reading this morning.

The eldest of the Tapper sisters is now married. Very suddenly (and secretly?). To Mr D. I hope I managed to look pleased when the news was announced.

There are many picnics being planned and I am invited to all, but I do not feel tempted.

The relish bowl is shattered. Fluffy is innocent.

There is to be a new post-mistress. She is the niece of Mr B-K.

Miss C asked me to pose for her, once again. Everyone seems to be entranced by her camera, but I am not. Not in the least.

I wanted to go for a walk this morning but I could not find my hat.

It rained all day. I spent a pleasant hour with a book.

My visit to the library proved most satisfactory.

Miss W brought a bouquet of flowers, again. There is no need for her to do this as our garden is also flourishing. I found a slug on the underside of a leaf. Fortunately Mother did not notice.

There has been no word from L and I think perhaps there never will be.

Mother has entirely lost her voice. This is puzzling, since she rarely uses it.

Miss W wants to start a reading club. I told her not to invite me to join.

I will scream if I am forced to eat another lettuce leaf. Or even a tomato.

The doorbell rang at 3:06 in the afternoon, but when I went to answer it no one was there.

Two china cups are missing.

The birds seem frantic. Do they dislike change too?

I wonder if anyone will bring us a pie? I hope not.

A pleasant day: sunshine.

I have been thinking about the moon and the tides.

Surprise! L arrived home and seems to be in good spirits. She brought many sweet gifts. All is well. For now.

Miss C passed by the front gate, holding her camera, but she did not stop in.

Father's old pocket watch appears to be lost. Or perhaps it has been stolen. Mother says it was not valuable but I think it was.

I doubt I slept at all last night.

People are so kind. I wish they would not be.

I told Mother it is time for us to do something about the curtains.

The new post-mistress has watery blue eyes.

Where have my old hair ribbons gone?

Fluffy is missing. So are the kittens. This is all terribly distressing.

Mrs S has a cold. I wrote and told her not to call on us until she is entirely recovered.

I am trying to be more patient.

I cannot find my ivory comb.

I don't remember the last time I felt young.

L has gone to Boston, suddenly and mysteriously. She left yesterday morning. I don't care.

The younger Miss Tapper wanted to lend me a novel by Mrs Q-M but I told her I already read it, even though I have not. I prefer never to borrow anything from that family.

Spent the afternoon mending. I am in a foul temper.

A murder of crows has set up home in a tree in the side yard. Neither Mother nor I are the least bit pleased.

Mrs S has recovered from her cold. She offered to tune our piano for us, which is a ridiculous suggestion and I told her so.

A very bad night. Hardly slept at all. Dreamed of crows and clocks and spiders.

Miss W brought over not one, but two, pies. What will we do with them?

I wonder: where does the sun go when it wants to hide?

Miss J (a friend of Miss C's) came to tea. She was crying. I offered what comfort I could but I hope she does not return.

A quiet hour of reading this evening.

It has been two weeks and I have not received a single letter from anyone.

Three small stones were left in a pile on the back steps.

Mrs R stubbed her toe. I doubt we will see her again this year.

Went for a walk with the new post-mistress. She asked me to call her Clara. I said I would rather not.

The clasp on my bracelet is broken.

Mother is talking about Barcelona. I fear the worst.

There are rumors that the elder Miss Tapper, now Mrs D, is expecting a child. I don't believe this can possibly be true.

Suddenly all my dresses are drab and droopy. It does not matter.

Miss F has begun taking French lessons. She is so very earnest.

L has written to announce her engagement. She met him at her cousin's house in Boston. I am shocked. But not surprised.

Miss J is hosting a salon next Wednesday. I told her that Mother and I will be resting that day.

I miss Fluffy and the kittens. I fear the worst has befallen them.

Spent one hour practicing my penmanship, for no reason at all.

A quiet hour of reading this morning.

Miss W asked me to accompany her to Philadelphia next month. I pretended I did not hear her.

A disappointing visit to the library. There doesn't appear to be a single book I am interested in.

I doubt I will ever sleep through the night again.

I asked Mother if she has seen my beaded bag. She claimed not to know what I was talking about.

I just noticed today: my right hand is apparently slightly larger than my left hand.

Father's pocket watch was discovered under a pile of linen. Relief.

I have replenished my supply of paper and ink.

Mother asked me to air out the guest room but I see no need to do so, as we are not expecting any overnight visitors.

I must have slept for a while last night since I remember dreaming about a lion.

Received unpleasant news this morning.

Mother was exaggerating, things are not as dreadful as I feared.

I saw Miss J in the library yesterday. She was not crying, but still I made a point of avoiding her.

Mr and Mrs D are expecting twins. I have heard it on the highest authority (Dr N). I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I think I will laugh.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Do You Remember: A Fictional Family Saga

In this Family Saga there are 11 main “characters.”
Each question is asked by an unnamed person, addressing her unnamed sister, in our present time.

All the questions concern people and events from their past.

The two sisters were living in a large household with their relatives: Uncle Roland, Aunt Cosmos, Aunt Bobo, Aunt Lilian, cousins Delia, Reggie, Bizzie, Sadie, and Fig.

Do you remember the picnic where, at the very last minute, Aunt Bobo refused to come, even though she had all the food with her, and we ended up nibbling on blades of grass and sharing a single chocolate bar between ten of us?

Do you remember the day Delia stood in the middle of the garden reciting the names of all the flowers in Latin, but later we found out she was just talking gibberish?

Do you remember when Bizzie believed she was a bird and never stopped chirping from the time she woke up in the morning until she finally fell asleep?

Do you remember those weeks when Reggie and Delia were absolutely consumed by ping-pong?

Do you remember when a pigeon followed us home from the park but we weren't allowed to keep it as a pet and Aunt Bobo threatened to roast it if we didn't shut up about it?

Do you remember how much we looked forward to taking long train rides and how awful it was when Aunt Cosmos came along and lectured us on Good Manners and Proper Comportment and wouldn't let us play even a single game of War?

Do you remember that man who used to live down the road, Harold Hopsworth, who dropped his H's and wished us Appy Olidays, but when we called him Arold Opsworth he was not amused?

Do you remember when Sadie said she saw someone lurking behind the fence taking photographs of us dancing in the garden, and it turned out she was right and Uncle Roland had to chase the man away with a broom?

Do you remember when Aunt Cosmos and Uncle Roland tried to teach us how to tango and how Uncle Roland kept tripping over his feet and how he almost broke his ankle?

Do you remember when the Scottsdale cousins came to visit and Aunt Lilian insisted they were twins even though Priscilla was 11 and Bonnie-Belle was 6?

Do you remember when Fig taught herself ventriloquism and how upset she was when Uncle Roland hid her little dummy-doll and she refused to speak for days?

Do you remember when Uncle Roland bought those night vision goggles and took us out looking for owls, but Bizzie got lost and we wandered around in the dark until we found her, and somehow Reggie got poison ivy on his behind?

Do you remember when we were all small, but not small enough to live inside the dollhouse?

Do you remember how we used to go tromping through the muddy creek bed collecting rocks and how Bizzie and Sadie tried to sell them to the neighbors for $1 each?

Do you remember when Uncle Roland was so unhappy, for so long, and you and I made a list of 111 things we thought would cheer him up and I read the list to him but he didn't laugh until I got to #63 and then he said I was a funny girl, and you asked "what about me?" and he said you weren't that funny?

Do you remember how much Delia hated it when you called her Deli Mellie Pachelli, but you didn't stop doing it until she threatened to smash that old ceramic elephant over your head?

Do you remember that November when Fig still wanted to wear her pirate costume and when Aunt Cosmos said Halloween was over Fig said "pirates don't have calendars"?

Do you remember when we saw mold growing on the kitchen wall and Delia said she would bake a mold pie and make us eat it and you got the hiccups from crying?

Do you remember when Bizzie asked Aunt Bobo to teach her how to knit so she could make tiny hats for the chickens, to keep them warm in winter?

Do you remember how Reggie made the same exact wish every year before blowing out his birthday candles, and how we told him not to say the wish out loud or it wouldn't come true, but every year he said it out loud and that's why he never got to go up in a hot air balloon?

Do you remember Miss Felicity, the librarian, and how much she used to hate us, but when she realized we would always return our books she changed her mind and called us her little angels?

Do you remember when you wanted a bicycle and Aunt Lilian said you should ask your Uncle Richie-Rich-Rich but you didn't know she meant Uncle Roland so you didn't ask and you never got a bicycle?

Do you remember how Bizzie insisted on naming everything — socks, worms, loose teeth, dirty tissues — and how she called all these things Pete?

Do you remember how Reggie could make something break just by standing next to it, especially electrical appliances?

Do you remember how Fig always wanted us to trade shoes with her but we said no because she had such weird feet?

Do you remember how the hot chocolate always tasted like dirt when Aunt Cosmos made it, but it tasted like clouds when Aunt Bobo made it?

Do you remember the Thanksgiving when Uncle Roland forgot to pick up the turkey and Aunt Bobo was so mad she served American cheese sandwiches with grapefruit marmalade for dinner, and later she threw a spoon out the window?

Do you remember when you dreamed you made 1,000 origami birds and they all flew away?

Do you remember when Aunt Bobo got so mad at Bizzie she called her "Elizabeth Charlotte Poppie Marie" and that was the first time any of us knew that Bizzie wasn't just Bizzie?

Do you remember how Fig used to stay up half the night waiting to meet the Sandman?

Do you remember when Aunt Lilian thought we should all have piano lessons but Aunt Bobo said she was allergic to music and the piano was "Off Limits For the Duration"?

Do you remember how Bizzie tried to catch up with her shadow so she could step on her own head?

Do you remember when Aunt Lilian told Sadie she couldn't be a ballerina because she didn't have a graceful bone in her body?

Do you remember when Bizzie thought pennies brought her bad luck, but she didn't care if you got the bad luck so she gave you all her pennies?

Do you remember when Cousin Germs came to stay for a whole week and Aunt Lilian was terrified he'd find the hidden fireworks and then he did?

Do you remember how Sadie’s turtle, Zilantria, was dead for two weeks before anyone realized it?

Do you remember when Delia said she'd kill anyone who used her hairbrush and how we never told her about Fig?

Do you remember how Reggie could never zip up a zipper?

Do you remember how we always knew where Aunt Lilian was because her shoes squeaked when she walked?

Do you remember when Fig won the Groundhog Day Talent Show because she could wiggle her eyebrows, whistle through the gap in her teeth, snap her fingers, stomp her feet, and swirl around, all at the same time?

Do you remember when Sadie went on strike against the vowels?

Do you remember how Bizzie was the best at hide-and-seek and how annoying it was when we couldn't find her for hours and hours?

Do you remember when Fig made up that song about the tap-dancing mermaid with the chorus that went "tip tap tip, swish swash swish, swash swashily swashily away"?

Do you remember when Delia got her new library card and could go into the Adult Room but we still had to use the Children's Room, which was so unfair because Delia didn't love books the way we did?

Do you remember when Sadie ran away from home but she only got as far as the corner before coming back because she said she missed us so terribly much?

Do you remember when Uncle Roland said he wished he could go off and be a shepherd someplace high in the mountains and Aunt Cosmos said she would be happy to pack his knapsack for him.

Do you remember when Aunt Lilian got a letter with lots of foreign stamps on it and she was so secretive and mysterious about it and never told us where it came from, or who sent it, no matter how many times we asked?

Do you remember how Reggie was always saying there were too many girls?

Do you remember the tree house Uncle Roland was always promising to build?

Do you remember when Delia was going through her polka dot phase and Uncle Roland cut off her allowance until she promised not to buy any more of those awful nylon scarves?

Do you remember when Sadie and Bizzie poured the waffle batter into the toaster and how surprised they were when things turned out the way they did?

Do you remember how much we loved going through the aunts' things, especially Aunt Bobo's, because she had the prettiest slips and bras and underpants?

Do you remember when Fig swallowed the goldfish by mistake and Aunt Lilian said one day we'd all be eating goldfish if things kept on the way they were going and Aunt Cosmos said "Get a grip, Lilian"?

Do you remember when Aunt Bobo threw away all the cookbooks because she was sick and tired of taking orders from people she didn't even know?

Do you remember when Sadie and Bizzie renamed the downstairs bathroom The Lavatory/Laboratory and launched their Sadizzy Lotions and Potions Empire?

Do you remember when Delia used to introduce herself to strangers as our nanny?

Do you remember how the aunts acted like they were deaf every time Bizzie asked to get her ears pierced?

Do you remember when Fig dressed the scarecrow in Reggie's clothes and Aunt Lilian asked what Reggie was doing standing out in the garden all day?

Do you remember Aunt Bobo said girls in our family should never wear blue because it made us irresistible to men and Delia went right out and bought a blue sweater and a blue blouse?

Do you remember how Fig was always snipping away at her hair so nobody would notice it getting shorter but eventually it got really short and Aunt Cosmos said "How in the world did that happen"?

Do you remember when Aunt Bobo's roses went missing?

Do you remember how Uncle Roland was always saying Fig was incapable of sitting still for a minute and then she proved him wrong by sitting perfectly still, cross-legged in the living room, for two hours?

Do you remember the terrible crush Reggie had on Miss Felicity and how he wanted to spend all day in the library just looking at her and Delia was very mean about it?

Do you remember how Sadie had that way of turning up the corners of her mouth when she told a lie?

Do you remember how we were never allowed to go to the zoo, no matter how much we begged, because the aunts were deathly afraid of elephants and Uncle Roland said he couldn't possibly handle us on his own?

Do you remember when Delia had that secret boyfriend who wasn't a secret to anybody?

Do you remember the day Bizzie discovered the 32 broken black umbrellas in the back of the hall closet and thought they were giant bats?

Do you remember when Sadie glued all her fingers together?

Do you remember when Aunt Lilian worried that we weren't getting enough culture so Aunt Cosmos offered to teach us how to fold napkins into animal shapes?

Do you remember when you were first learning how to juggle and you practiced with the crystal wine glasses?

Do you remember when Reggie put an advertisement in the paper that said "Boys Wanted" and the police came to the house to investigate?

Do you remember the night Delia said the dictionary was the most seditious book in the world and Uncle Roland said she wouldn't even know the word seditious if it weren't for the dictionary and Delia called him a bourgeois reprobate and Aunt Cosmos said she was going to lock up the dictionary and throw away the key?

Do you remember when Aunt Lilian went away for a few days and Aunt Bobo said she was entitled to a lost weekend (even though it was not a weekend) and when she came home she seemed so much more cheerful?

Do you remember when Delia's not-so-secret boyfriend came for dinner and no one liked him, not even Delia?

Do you remember when Sadie and Bizzie invented a concoction in their Lavatory/Laboratory, made out of butter, bananas, dandelions, dirt, and grape jelly, and claimed it cured freckles?

Do you remember when Aunt Cosmos suddenly started reciting poetry in Russian?

Do you remember when Uncle Roland grew a mustache and waxed it and twirled it and Aunt Lilian said he treated his lip hair like a pet?

Do you remember how Aunt Bobo always cut the crusts off the tuna fish sandwiches, but never the egg salad sandwiches, and we never knew why?

Do you remember when a bible salesman rang the doorbell and Bizzie went out onto the porch and talked with him for hours?

Do you remember those Sunday nights when we gathered around the dining room table to play Parcheesi and you always won and Delia said “this game is rigged”?

Do you remember when Sadie got a mosquito bite and Aunt Lilian thought it was the first sign of measles and she sent Sadie upstairs and put a "Quarantined" sign on the door?

Do you remember how Reggie used to go out early in the morning after a big storm and place little mounds of snow on the fence posts and call them snow boobies?

Do you remember when Sadie got a perfumed letter from the Scottsdale cousins, inviting her to visit, and nobody else was invited so then we knew for certain that Sadie really was the nicest one of us?

Do you remember the time Aunt Bobo said she would only cook foods that began with the letter R and that meant a lot of rhubarb, radishes, rice, raisins, and rutabaga?

Do you remember when Aunt Lilian took us to the Botanical Gardens and Reggie said he would never live in a glass house because then people could see him on the toilet and Aunt Lilian said "Never say toilet in public" and Reggie said "You just did" and Aunt Lilian said she was never taking us anyplace again?

Do you remember when Bizzie had dozens of pen-pals and invited each one to stop by for Kool-Aid and cookies as though they lived around the corner instead of on the other side of the world?

Do you remember when Delia got her driver's license and you didn't want to get in the car with her and I said it would be safe but it turned out that you were right and I was wrong?

Do you remember when the ghost moved into the storage room and everyone could see it except Aunt Bobo?

Do you remember when Sadie said she wanted Aunt Cosmos to be her mother and Aunt Lilian said she wanted Aunt Cosmos to be her mother, too?

Do you remember the huge mirror in the front hallway and how every single time you saw your reflection you would say "That's not me"?

Do you remember when Reggie had more than 1,000 marbles and he insisted on counting them every night before going to bed, to make sure none of us had stolen a single one?

Do you remember when Fig said she would hold her breath until she got a pony and we were so scared because we didn't want her to die?

Do you remember when Delia went to see a hypnotist and he told her she was Cleopatra in her past life (or at least, that’s what she said he said)?

Do you remember the awful shoe store man who pinched our toes hard and said that would make our feet stop growing so quickly?

Do you remember when Fig said if she couldn’t have a pony then she wanted to be one?

Do you remember when Delia went bowling with her new boyfriend and ended up breaking three fingers and two toes?

Do you remember when Bizzie wanted to change her name to Barbie, and Sadie wanted to change her name to Susie, but Fig said she was happy to be Fig forever and ever?

Do you remember those Saturday afternoons when Aunt Lilian listened to the opera on the radio and cried in her room for hours?

Do you remember when the aunts took us to see Peter Pan and Sadie got a crush on that flying boy but Reggie said Tinker Bell gave him a toothache and he would like to wring her skinny little neck?

Do you remember when Delia came to every single one of us and said “I’m sorry” but she never explained what she was sorry about?

Do you remember when Aunt Bobo baked a cherry pie and ate the whole thing by herself and didn't even share a teeny tiny crumb with anyone else?

Do you remember when Reggie said he wanted to be a cowboy when he grew up, or if not a cowboy then a professional gambler or an astronaut or a mind reader or a lion tamer?

Do you remember when Uncle Roland threatened to move out and go live in the doghouse, but we didn’t have a doghouse, not even a dog?

Do you remember when Aunt Cosmos offered to give Aunt Bobo a make-over and Aunt Bobo said “over my dead body” and then Aunt Cosmos said “you already look like a corpse”?

Do you remember when Fig walked around the house wearing her ice skates because she was lonely for winter?

Do you remember that time Bizzie found some mothballs and thought they were candy and the ambulance had to be called?

Do you remember when Aunt Bobo accused Uncle Roland of hiding all her shoes and it turned out that he really did do that?

Do you remember when Sadie swore she would wear purple for the rest of her life, but the next day she forgot and wore her orange blouse with those awful green shorts?

Do you remember the day the census taker came to the house and got so confused and said he had a splitting headache and could someone bring him an aspirin?

Do you remember when you went out looking for 4-leaf clovers and found all those bunnies instead?

Do you remember when someone left a dozen roses on the front steps and Delia thought they were for her but it turned out they were for Aunt Lilian and she never told us who sent them?

Do you remember when we discovered Uncle Roland was colorblind and Aunt Cosmos said “that explains everything”?

Do you remember when Fig kept saying “That’s not fair” and Aunt Lilian said she would give her $5 if she never said that again and then Bizzie and Sadie said “That’s not fair” and Aunt Lilian walked out the door and didn’t come home for two days?

Do you remember when you guessed how many jelly beans were in the jar in the window of Downer’s Pharmacy but you didn’t win anything because Mr. Downer accused you of cheating and we all agreed we would not set foot in that store ever again?

Do you remember the day the house plants died all at once and Reggie looked so guilty but he never admitted to anything and the terrible mystery was never solved?

Do you remember all the millions of times you and I wished Mommy and Daddy were still alive?

Thursday, January 2, 2020

WRITE ABOUT … any (or all) of these!

I compiled this list of writing ideas to share with people in my writing circles at the end of 2019. Now I want to share it with everyone who sees this blog. Some of these "sparks" I thought of myself; some I borrowed from other people. You might find something here that appeals to you; if you do....pick up your pen! Start to write!!

Write about your earliest memory.

Write about a kiss. Any kiss. You'll know which one to choose.

Write a list where each entry begins with the phrase “And then….”  They don't have to be related (but they can be).

Write in response to one or both of these phrases: In my last life / In my next life.

Write about a compulsion, or compulsions.

Write about the face you show to the world and the face you show to no one.

Write a love letter (however you define “love letter”) to someone or some thing; maybe even to yourself.

Write about an encounter with a stranger.

Write about an umbrella.

Write about a coat (or jacket, sweater, poncho, cape, etc.)

Write about something that happened long ago.

Write about your Ideal Family (the whole family or just one person, for example “My Ideal Mother”).

Write about something that you can NOT do.

Write about something that happens within a small space.

Write about 3 wishes.

Write in response to the phrase “Things I did for love.”

Write about tea; teacups; teapots; tea cakes; High Tea; etc.

Write about all the things you are not going to think about for the next hour.

Write about lies you have told your mother; write about lies she has told you.

Write about eyes.

Write about where you live now.

Write about the first time you heard a particular song, band, or musician.

Write an apology to someone; write an apology you would like to receive from someone.

Write a letter to your younger self (at any age).

Write about being lost; write about some object that is lost.

Write about a door (opening/closing/slamming/etc.).

Write about yesterday.

Write about things that are disappearing.

Write about ice cream.

Write about games you used to play when you were younger, or games you play now.

Write about a friend's mother, truth or fiction.

Write about a (favorite?) sandwich.

Write about a secret.

Write about something you have stolen (or something that was stolen from you).

Write about nicknames (yours, someone else’s, a nickname you would give yourself, etc.).

Write about something red.

Write about something you never want to do again.

Write about an experiment (it could be a science experiment or a life experiment; something you did or heard about; etc.).

Write about a refrigerator, or a toaster, or any other kitchen appliance.

Write about tomorrow.

Write about one or more of your ex-partners. Variation: imagine what one or more of your exes might write about you.

Write about something that has happened to you in the last 7 days.

Write in response to this: if/then.

Write about a stuffed animal.

Write about things you do not (or will not) miss.

Write a list where each line begins with the words “I am waiting.”

Write about crying.

Write about rules/instructions (those you follow, or have followed; those you break or have broken).

Write about something sneaky (or someone sneaky).

Write about a ghost.

Write about an apron.

Write about rain.

Write about a doll.

Write about something tiny and/or something large.

Write about a mistake.

Write about a train trip.

Write about things people do not know about you.

Write about apples.

Write about things that have not changed.

Write about someone with red hair  — someone you know, or knew, or a character you create.

Write about hands.

Write about things you are not (or were not) supposed to hear (or say; or touch; or see; etc.).

Write about polka dots and/or circles in general.

Write about fish.

Write about something that happens at midnight.

Write about something that is not yet open.

Write about “that night.”

Write about a gift you have received — loved it? hated it?

Write about what is in your pocket, pocketbook, wallet, tote bag, backpack, etc. — right now.

Write about what it would be like to be an animal for a day.

Write a what-not-to-do list.

Write about before and after.

Write about a box (just the box, or something that is kept in a box).

Write about what you are willing to walk toward; what you are willing to walk away from.

Write about a grandmother (yours, someone else's, or a fictional grandma). Variation: write about your grandmother's childhood; feel free to make it all up if you don’t know anything.

Write about a room where something unusual (or hilarious, or awful, etc.) takes place, or took place.

Write about something you are letting go of, or want to let go of; write about something you want to hold on to.

Write a “praise piece” (poem or prose) for something ordinary: a toe, a pencil, a daffodil, etc. Write extravagantly, heap on the praise, make something ordinary seem extraordinary.

Write about a day in the future — be as specific and detailed as you can be.

Write about an uncle and/or an aunt.

Write about a dream, in as much detail as possible. Your memory of the dream might be fuzzy and vague but in your writing let yourself fill in any blanks.

Write on any subject you like, but each sentence should begin with the word “Maybe.”

Write about TWO — two objects, people, ideas, places, etc.

Write about coincidences.

Write about grown-up “merit badges” you would like to receive — they shouldn't be exclusively for scouts, right?

Write about a cat or dog — or choose any other animal friend/companion you have had.

Write a brief story from your life as truthfully as possible. Then write it again from the point of view of someone else who was there.

Write about a person you know well (or once knew) and hold them in your thoughts as you write sentence after sentence beginning with the words “You are…”

Write about “the other me” — a person living someplace in the world, with your name; go deeply into this imagined persona.

Write about opposites: off/on, hot/cold, in/out, wet/dry, soft/hard, near/far, slow/fast, up/down, left/right, etc.

Write about forgetting. What do you hope you'll never forget? What do you wish you could forget? What do you think you have already forgotten? What have people forgotten about you? How do you preserve your memories? Here is a quote by Doris Lessing: “Why should we suppose that what we remember is more important than what we forget?” You might want to start by writing a list where each entry begins with the phrase “I forget….”

Write in response to this phrase, posted by the writer Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook, March 3, 2016 (accompanied by a photograph of her teen self): “13 is always hard.”

Write a story that someone else has told to you.

Write about what is (or was) “around the corner.”

Write about something you wouldn't want to live without.

Write about invisibility.

Write about forgiveness — how you did or did not forgive someone else; how someone else did or did not forgive you.

Write about a basement.

Write about an attic.

Write about good juju or bad juju.

Write about a mirror/mirrors.

Write about bliss.

Write about an altar you have created or one that you imagine creating (intentional or accidental).

Write in response to this question: “Wouldn't it be nice if . . . ?” Suggestion: keep it personal and specific rather than broad and general.

Write about things that change quickly; write about things that change slowly.

Write about a hotel.

Write a list where each entry begins with the phrase “And then….”  They don't have to be related, but they can be.

Write about something that is broken.

Write about a book you remember from childhood.

Write about mean girls.

Write about superstitions.

Write about things you collect.

Write 2 truths and 1 lie. Make the truths be things that someone would be surprised to learn about you. Make the lie sound as though it could be true.

Write about television shows and/or movies that were important to you in your youth.

Write down a geographical location, a date (month, day, year) and a time. Use this as your title. Then write a piece, truth or fiction. Additional suggestion: if you wish, make the piece have three characters.

Write about writing “tools” — pen, pencil, typewriter — but not computers.

Write about work: work you have done, whether it was paid work or not, whether it was a “job” or not. 

Write about time travel.

Write about your hometown.

Write about a bridge.

Write about something that happens in a kitchen.

Write about sleeplessness/insomnia.

Write about a reunion.

Write about beginnings and endings.

Write about a birthday: past or future; yours or someone else’s.

Write a shopping list or a to-do list for a fictional character. How does the list give you insight into the character?

Write about morning; create a morning poem or haiku if you wish.

Write about a journey (or part of a journey) in as much detail as you can; draw a map of how to get from one point to another.

Write about what makes you happy.

Write about shopping.

Write about family traditions/celebrations.

Write about the ideal you; the ideal day; the ideal home; etc.

Write a piece where every sentence is in the form of a question.

Write about listening, or not listening.

Write about quitting something; stopping; leaving; walking away; deflecting; letting go; detaching; etc.

Write about a bath (bathtub).

Write about disappointment.

Write about high school.

Write about a bicycle / bike ride.

Write about the weirdest thing you have experienced, or heard about, or imagined.

Write about a smell — a familiar smell; a terrible smell; a delightful smell; etc.

Write about a time when you said one thing but wish you had said something else.

Write about a promise; a promise given and kept; a promise broken.

Write about something that “disturbs” you.

Write about a scar.

Write about the worst thing you've ever done (the more cringe-worthy the better).

Write about bread.

Write about walking (in general, or going on a particular walk).

Write about a friend of yours.

Write about unexpected or accidental encounters.

Write about milk.

Write about a teacher you have had.

Write about a lucky number.

Write about a dream in as much detail as you can remember; don't hesitate to make up some details to fill in blanks in your memory; embellish if you wish. If you only have vague fragments to begin with start there and keep on building as the words and images come to you.

Write about royalty.

Write about a tree.

Write about a baked dessert (cake, pie, cookies, etc.).

Write about fire.

Write about being late and/or being early.

Write about the public library of your childhood years.

Write about a guilty pleasure.

Write about sacred space.

Write about taking a leap of faith.

Write about night.

Write about teeth.

Write about changing your mind.

Write about a crush (or crushes) you have had (or have right now).

Write about a pair of shoes (your favorite? a lost pair? a painful pair? etc.).

Write about a rug/carpet.

Write about things you worry about and/or things you are afraid of.

Write about water.

Write about cheating.

Write about being in a big crowd.

Write a song.

Write about solitude.

Write about a time you were embarrassed, or a time when you embarrassed someone else.

Write about mending/repairing.

Write about dust.

Write about wrinkles.

Write about danger; something dangerous that you did; something dangerous you avoided; something dangerous you witnessed; etc.

Write about a sister or a brother (your own or fictional).

Write about a hat.

Write about a camera/taking photographs/having your photograph taken, etc.

Write about something true that doesn't seem true.

Write about laundry/laundromats/clotheslines.

Write about “the old house.”

Write about a round thing (or round things).

Write about “how to be tough.”

Write about leaving home.

Write about small annoyances; things that irk you.

Write about eyebrows.

Write about something cold (or being cold).

Write about ink.

Write about a nose, or noses.

Write about how you became yourself.

Write about things you do not want to know.

Write about something you’ve never told anyone else.

Write about the flower name (or “nature name”) you would choose for yourself, if you were to do such a thing.

Write a good-bye letter to someone or something.

Write about doing something (experiencing something) for the last time.

Write about the lies you tell yourself.

Write about creating a ritual for something that is ordinary; pay close attention to things we don’t usually pay attention to; focus on the tiniest details.

Write about running away.

Write about chaos.

Write about ANYTHING you want to write about, in any form you choose (a list, a poem, a story, a memory, etc.).