Between Here and Always

Monday Morning Musings:

The Oracle gave me this poem over the weekend.



Between here and always

is light–

vivid soul-blossoms living wild,

secret garden from dark night,

world was and is


In February, this month of birthdays,

time moves backward and forward,


here and always

what was, what is, and what will be


even the weather seems confused,

time and season changing from day to day

light and dark

warm and cold

flowers bloom,

secret gardens amidst leaves

covered as snow falls





We celebrate my husband’s birthday with Pakistani food,

the owner remembers him and my son-in-law

they picked up food there on the day my daughter and son-in-law

moved into their house,

yes, they looked tired that day, the man says,

(he is pleased we’ve returned)

the food is delicious,

we eat flaky samosas with yogurt sauce and green chili sauce

then our various entries—slow cooked beef, lamb, chicken,

and vegetarian dishes of eggplant and moong dal with palek,

the chef comes out to meet us,

we tell them we’ll come back



We have wine and cheesecake afterward at my daughter’s house,



the house crackles and creaks a bit as the heat of the gas fire warms the room,

ghost sounds,

my daughter-in-law mentions a John McCain poster figure

her father used to hide it around their house to startle people,

I recall the mannequin my sister and a roommate had in their apartment

they used to dress her for different events,

one daughter says she saw a woman on the T carrying the arm of a mannequin–


there must be a story,

then, other daughter asks, “are you sure it was a mannequin’s arm?”


here and always,

food, love, and stories.


Later, I pull out tablecloths

they’ve been buried at the bottom of a cedar chest

almost two decades now,

once a special part of our daughters’ birthday parties

years of drawings and comments,

words written by children

now grown

scribbled messages,

ghosts of the past,

each daughter takes a tablecloth

Happy Birthday, I say.

They are always in my heart.



I make a photo/memory album for my mother-in-law


I have an assistant.


born in 1937,

the middle of the Great Depression,


Amelia Earhart disappeared, Japan invaded China, the Nanking massacre took place, the Hindenburg exploded,  the Golden Gate Bridge opened,

Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves premiered, and Of Mice and Men was published–

my husband says, yes but the most important thing is that my mother was born

and of course, to her, to him, and to me, it is

without that,

he would not be here

and our children would not be

perhaps there is another timeline,

perhaps there is another always,

ghosts that flicker

just out of sight

another story

but not here


We celebrate her 80th birthday

at our house



a friend of hers stops by,

an eightieth birthday party surprise

(“I won’t stay long,” the friend says,

“I’ve just had a heart attack,”

a story I could not make up)

daughters and I have made enough food

to feed twice as many people,



enough for more surprise people,

or any strangers who might wander in,

we eat and talk

and memories flow–

what was, what is–

my mother-in-law’s wish–

to see my nephew, her grandson, grow up

What will he be?

(What will be?)

At some point, we will look back

at this moment

in snapshots

time frozen

what is now will be then

this warm sunny day,

filled with light,

here and always

our souls blossom

with love





Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting


If you are in the Sicklerville, NJ area, I highly recommend Mera Khana restaurant. It’s a small, unassuming restaurant in a strip mall–but such delicious food and wonderful people.


30 thoughts on “Between Here and Always

  1. Such magnetic musings filled with contrasts. Florida weather is like you describe in NJ. Here trees and bushes are ablaze with gorgeous glory while many people I know, including my husband, are sick with allergies from pollen.

    Lovely homage to family!

    • Thank you, Marian.
      We don’t have the pollen (or bugs) yet. Everything will be covered in pollen once we really get to spring. But it was so nice to have our windows open yesterday. Hope Cliff feels better soon.

  2. I enjoyed the oracle’s wisdom, and I laughed at your story about the Mccain figure. Oh, if I’d known you had made so much food, I would’ve wondered over to your table with my big Tupperware! YUM, the food looks delightful.

    Pakistani food sounds similar to Indian food. I’m trying to think if I had Pakistani before — do they cook with grape leaves? Hmm, I may be thinking of Greek food.

    Hope your mom had a grand time, And look at you — Miss Crafty, as well! That sweet tablecloth — lovely family heirloom. 🙂

    • Thank you, sweet Rose! If you had wandered in with your Tupperware, I would have laughed (and given you a hug). The party food was an attempt to please everyone, including the ones with the not so adventurous palates. 🙂
      The Pakistani food that we had is like Indian–same names for dishes–but they were a bit different from food I’ve had at Indian restaurants.
      Dishes with grape leaves would probably be Greek or Middle Eastern/Mediterranean.
      It was my mother-in-law’s birthday. My mom is much older–she’ll be 95 this summer.
      I’m not crafty at all, but the girls had fun decorating the tablecloths when they were young. Since their birthdays are only a few days apart and before Valentine’s Day, they used to make Valentine’s cards and crafts at their birthday parties. 🙂

  3. Wise oracle to give you such wonderful words so that you could create a wonderful poem. I wish I’d been in your neighborhood so I could wander in and enjoy some of your delicious food. It all looks so good! I don’t think I’ve ever had Pakistani food. I had to go to Google maps to find out where Sicklerville is. It’s not too far from where I usually stay when I go to visit family.

    • Thanks, Kerfe. I thought it was funny that we both–and the Oracle– were thinking of betweens.

      I managed to get the album done despite my assistant’s help. 🙂 He actually wasn’t as crazed as he normally would have been before dinner time. He only grabbed a few things.

  4. “without that, / he would not be here” – I like that… so subtle.

    “(What will be?)” – I don’t fear death, but I have one future regret (Is there such a thing?)… that I won’t witness, or even know, my children’s and grandchildren’s lives from that point forward.

    • Thanks, Ken. Yes, I understand what you me–and like the term “future regret.” Perhaps that’s why I’m so fascinated by time.
      I know it makes me sad that my dad didn’t live to see the women my girls became. And I wish I had known my grandparents better.

  5. I especially love the beginning and ending of this post, Merril. You are creating an archive that names and commemorates the now and will become a source of love and hope even more over time:

    “At some point, we will look back

    at this moment

    in snapshots

    time frozen

    what is now will be then

    this warm sunny day,

    filled with light,

    here and always

    our souls blossom

    with love



  6. Is, was, will be – looking back, present, forward – lovely post Merril thank you …and your mother-in-law’s birthdate remembering events. And of course all the delicious food too. May all souls continue to blossom with love .. that is, was, and will be ..

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