Horror, Storms, Pass the Wine, and Look for Grace—Monday Morning Musings

Monday Morning Musings:

“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”

–Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House

“(“Do not equate nationalism with patriotism,” Perry warned Juliet. “Nationalism is the first step on the road to Fascism.”)”

–Kate Atkinson, Transcription

A storm comes and roars,

in waves upon the shores

and tears through towns

with rains and winds—the sounds

of climate wars

where there were homes

there’s now a void–

so much destroyed.


Here we have only some rain and wind

nothing unmoored, nothing unpinned

from where it should be

the only horror we see

comes on TV,

where things go bumping in the night–

though not as scary as reality

yet we wish and keep hope afloat

that we’ll live to see things be all right.


Once we had a president who sang “Amazing Grace,”*

now we have one without a trace

of empathy or wisdom,

separating families,

putting them in prisons

behind barbed wire—

and who does he admire?


(and those who feed his ego—

please all of you, just go!)


So, as the days get dreary

I try to be cheery,

find color in pumpkins and leaves

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that fall on ground and eaves.

I cook and bake

hope to shake—

if not the world—

then wake a few,

hope and wish,

the good and true

will outlast, outshine

redefine the new.


On a chilly day,

we brighten our spirits

with family, a dog, and wine

spend time conversing

about this and that

we chat about birth

(with a bit of mirth)

as my son-in-law is studying

to be a nurse–

(quite a path he’s traversed

to get there)

and we sit as children ask

to pet their cute pup—

until at last the time is up

and we must go

our separate ways—

well, it’s getting too chilly to stay.


FullSizeRender 619

Clouds over William Heritage Winery

I wake to morning mist–and sigh

think, today, I’ll take my apples

and bake a pie.


We’ll eat it as evening

darkens the room

perhaps to brighten

fall’s impending gloom.

The cats will sleep on cushions nearby,

and we will bid the day goodbye.



*I was reminded of this when I heard Joan Baez on the New Yorker Radio Hour. Here the song is illustrated in a lovely, moving short animated film.

We watched the first episode of Netflix’s sort of adaptation of the Haunting of Hill House.  The original movie terrified me. I thought the first episode of this version (if you can get over that it’s not actually an adaptation of the story) was OK, but not great. But we will watch the next episode.

But we also watched the movie Eighth Grade–which really was wonderful–even though we all know that age has its own horrors.

I’m reading Transcription by Kate Atkinson. It’s wonderful.










47 thoughts on “Horror, Storms, Pass the Wine, and Look for Grace—Monday Morning Musings

  1. Lots of horror in the world. Your family is lucky for your cooking and baking to help them in life!
    Shirley Jackson is one of my spirit animals but that book is her weakest writing IMO. I wonder if I should reread.

  2. I love the gentle rhymes in this, even when the you want to smack the subject. There’s been a terrible (on our scale of terrible) flash flood here at Carcassonne after the rain yesterday—13 dead and another still missing. Tampering with watercourses and tinkering with the climate. It’s coming.

      • Thanks for the slap 🙂 The flooding’s on the other side of the mountains from us. They get the unstable weather from the Mediterranean. Our little stream will flood if the Garonne floods badly. I’m trying not to think about that possibility.

      • Oh, I hope it doesn’t flood. The streets around here are usually OK, but there are lots of places in Philadelphia and S. Jersey that flood regularly because of the rivers and creeks. Lots of flat space between them.

  3. So many images and thoughts I love about this poetic meditation. I miss the President who sang “Amazing Grace.” The one we have now I try to think as little of as he thinks of anyone but himself. I love Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery–still gives me chills just thinking about the story. I’ve never read Hill House but saw the movie with Julie Harris and that scared the wits out of me too. I agree with Luanne that you should read “We Have Always Lived in the Castle.”

    • Thank you, Jill. The pie will be for tonight–I just wrote the post this morning. I made the crust, and I’ll get the pie together soon.
      I’m not sure what HEA means, but I can understand why you don’t like scary movies or books. I’m not a fan of the slasher gory kind, even though the kind that don’t show anything are actually much scarier to me.

  4. It’s so lovely that grace is always to be found among the grunge- your words and prose always bring hope to the table along with other delectables. Thanks Merrill and have a great week 😀

  5. The storm is a perfect metaphor, and I love how you transition from one to the colder (but definitely more palatable) weather and subjects. Also, your cats are lovely!

  6. The Haunting of Hill House (the original and the book) terrified me, too. Thank you for sharing the Joan Baez video. I hadn’t seen it before. Strange how far we’ve come and yet how much is the same.

    Another beautiful weaving of words, even with the subjects are not quite so beautiful. 🙂

  7. At days’s end (Yes, I’m late to the party!) I looked for signs of grace amid the gloom. Thank you for all of this, especially the video, which I watched all the way through to the fluttering wings with an empathetic President. Somehow, I acquired the address of the Charleston church and sent a condolence card to the members.

    Thank you for the photos, especially the edible ones. And thanks for the book recommendation. I’m reading Educated by Tara Westover. It’s wonderful!

    • Thank you for your lovely comment, Marian. I’m glad you enjoyed the video. I thought it was beautifully done.
      That was a thoughtful gesture to send the church members a condolence card.

  8. Wonderful, Merril. No one can recap a week quite like you do.
    Thank goodness for wine. Just sayin’ 😉
    And, sigh. Another book to add to my “must-read-list”…
    Have a fabulous week!

  9. What a wonderful summary of the ups and downs of Now. I heard Joan talking about that, because she has a song on her new album that mentions it. It’s a moment that I fear will not be repeated any time soon.
    The rhythm of your verse is wonderful this week.
    And Kate Atkinson…I can’t get enough of her (although I have not read the new one yet) (K)

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