For Beauty to Happen

Monday Morning Musings:



For beautiful to happen, the beautiful has got to be seen


Okay. I like that shade of red right there

The spot where the apple is peeling

It’s deep as an ocean but lighter than air


It’s simple, familiar, and full of feeling


The color of Saturdays here at the Met


The color of shouting from rooftops


You bet!


The color of feeling that life is okay


The color of an ordinary day

Adam Gwon, “Beautiful” from the musical Ordinary Days


“What we call the beginning is often the end

And to make an end is to make a beginning.”

–T.S. Eliot, “Little Giddings”


We planned for seventeen

but expected sixteen

I bake challahs,

a freezer full,

enough to give some away.


I buy brisket,

take the plastic-wrapped tray from the butcher’s hands,

I look at the package–

no, she has never seen my family eat brisket,

I pick up another package.


I cook,

we clean,

I buy myself flowers to decorate the table–

we never have flowers inside

because of the cats,

just this once I think.


A series of texts and calls

and there are now fourteen coming to dinner

then thirteen

then eleven.

Final answer.

As guests start to arrive

(The soup is bubbling on the stove.)

one cat is vomiting.

I’m worried he’s eaten flowers that are toxic,

I confer with daughter on the phone.

It doesn’t look like any of the flowers were nibbled.

I decide he’s probably okay.

(I hope he’s okay.)


The sun did not come out,

but there is a beauty to the fall breeze,

an ordinary day, beautiful.

The birds and squirrels chatter to one another,

“Fall is coming.”


In this year of bullets and bombs,

of hate-filled speech and lurid lies,

I welcome thoughts of a sweet new year,

old traditions that bring comfort,

even without belief

I don’t need god to believe

in man and woman,

and love.


We pour the wine,

my niece makes a toast

she reminds us of the importance of family

of love

of gathering together

of being there when others are in need.


We dip our apples in honey,


We’re eating challah and drinking wine

talking with loved ones

and loving the talk.

(We love to talk.)


Dinner is full of symbols for the new year–

cycles, sweetness, prosperity–

in the round shape of the challah

full circles of life,

the ordinary made beautiful on reflection,

the golden pumpkin-yellow split pea soup

the burst of red pomegranate in the salad

the apples

tart and sweet—like life.



My mom starts to mention traveling to Boston

I catch my niece’s eye–

pour more wine—

oh, family!


We talk about TV shows,

we talk about school,

there’s a discussion on teachers and parenting,

middle school kids,

Axe body spray and middle school boys

“It smells like BO,” says my niece

“I’d rather smell a room full of Axe than the smell of boys after gym class,”

says my daughter, who teaches 8th grade.

“I keep air freshener to spray in the room at the end of the day.”

(Perhaps sometimes the ordinary does not smell beautiful. But those kids–bursting with life!)


We’ve eaten our fill–

plenty of food–

because what if there isn’t enough!

Food for meat eaters and vegetarians





Noodle Kugel


and enough for all to take some home


And then dessert. We want a very sweet year.

Apple Cake




And brownies with sea salt, too.

(because chocolate)


We missed those who could not join us.

I send the flowers home with my mom.

The beginning and end come full circle.

We clean the house.

My cat is fine.

See the beauty.

It is all around,

in the red of an apple

in the golden flow of honey,

in the eye of your child

in the touch of love,

and in the purr of a cat, too.


L’Shana Tova

A sweet year!


To life!

Peace to all



22 thoughts on “For Beauty to Happen

  1. All’s well that ends well, my comment on your heart-warming celebration of Rosh Hashanah. T. S. Eliot is right about circles and cycles, beginnings and endings.

    Lovely reflection: L’Chaim!

  2. What a nice day you had!

    (I do love me some apple cake. I spent a year trying to replicate my mother’s recipe – couldn’t do it, but I was very happy with my final experiment. When my sister finally found the recipe in my mother’s old file, it just wasn’t the same, but I’ll still keep the memory of when it was my favorite.)

    • Thanks, Ken.
      Isn’t it funny how memories of food (whether they’re correct or not) stay so strong? And you got a good recipe out of the experience.
      There are so many different types of apple cake. This one has chunks of apples in a thick brownie-like batter.

  3. How absolutely splendid Merril! L’Chaim! L’Shana Tova! Oh shoot, those dishes … (I’m a bit of a greedy guts for ALL food and these surpasseth my ability to just view dispassionately) ..

  4. Shalom, best wishes and more wine to bring cheers.
    The food looked delicious, your daughters look beautiful, as well as you do.
    I held my breath, as cat got sick and numbers dropped for guests. It all ended as it should, happy endings are the best, Merril. ❤

    • Thank you so much, Robin, for your kind words and wishes.
      (Postscript is that we’re enjoying the leftovers and younger daughter got good news yesterday.)
      Shalom and best wishes for a sweet year to you and your family. ❤

  5. Aww, what a sweet way to start your new year! Happy 5,777, my friend! ❤ I agree with your daughter… middle school boys are indeed smelly! And I want that apple cake! And that cat! 😉 ❤

    • Thanks so much, Rachel. Happy 5777 to you, too! Hope you’re feeling better.
      You can have the apple cake, but I won’t part with my little boy cats. But feel free to visit them here. 🙂

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