I’m pleased to have my poem “Sea Glass” published in The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls literary journal. It’s a journal devoted to ocean-themed poetry. My thanks to editor Wyeth Renwick. The timing is especially nice because today is the now-grown “little sprite’s” birthday, and her sister’s birthday was a few days ago. You can read the poem here.
Monday Morning Musings:
Swiftly fly the years,
One season following another,
Laiden with happiness and tears.”
–from Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, “Sunrise, Sunset,” Fiddler on the Roof (1964)
After thousands of sunrises and sunsets
the years fly quickly,
faster now, summer turns to autumn,
spring tears fall and shoots appear–
winter snow glitters on our heads.
Once I was a turtle,
slowly walking across a road
I hid my head from others
though I showed off my lovely carapace,
then you took me from my shell
and brought me into the world of people.
I showed you the world of books and art,
introduced you to exotic turtle food
and we played and burrowed deep,
into our blanket nest.
Our children were fawns
long-legged, shy, and fey,
until their camouflaging spots faded,
and then they sang the songs of birds
and gathered the wisdom of owls
tossing words, pitching music, and beaming light
into the world–
sometimes it was reflected back
in all the colors of the universe,
The water calls to me in rivers, streams, and oceans,
I sometimes carry the heavy weight of my shell,
but you share the burden,
and when I look at my reflection,
I see worlds beyond worlds–
the absurdity of the upside-down,
the glowing rays of a double sun
the promise of all the ifs,
and the hope in infinite possibilities stretching to forever.
I do not look to yesterday but walk into the future.
We celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary a few days ago, but we’ve known each other since ninth grade. To celebrate, we went to Ocean City, NJ and walked on the beach for a couple of hours in the morning, avoiding people as best we could. Then later we went on our first real outing since March. We went to a winery for our anniversary dinner, where we sat outside physically distanced from the other patrons, and after a brief thunderstorm, we enjoyed wine, pizza, and gelato. I think we were both a bit giddy to be out. I put my mask back on whenever our masked server came to the table.
Merril’s Movie Club: Back to more obscure Merril films. Both are on Netflix. We watched See You Yesterday, which we both really liked. All of the acting is excellent, especially the two engaging leads who portray brilliant Black teens hoping to get scholarships to good universities—a future. But this is very much a Black Lives Matter film, and they attempt to change the past. Playing on the theme, Michael J. Fox has a cameo appearance.
We also watched Bulbul, an Indian horror film—though it’s not a jump out of your seat horror. It’s more of a dark fable with beautiful cinematography. It deals with a child bride and her life as an adult in her husband’s household, where her best friend is her brother-in-law. There is a tale of a demon/goddess who lives in the trees and swoops down to attack men at night. The story is retold throughout the movie. We both liked it, though I think I liked it more than my husband did.
We’re driving to the shore. Charcoal clouds drift and grow, and the day grows darker. All the rough lines and divisions between sea and sky are feather-brushed into one scene of blended grey. We circle the blocks, looking for a place to park, then sit in the car, listening to thunder, and watching the rain fall in silver sheets around us, filling the air with the scent of petrichor. The steady stream of water becomes drops that tip-tap-taper off, and the dark clouds blow away, leaving a blue sky with an egg yolk yellow sun. We walk to the beach. The sea is calmer now, but I hear it call–it is ever changing and never mute.
spindrift in endless cycles
blown by summer storms
This is for dVerse, Haibun Monday, where Björn asked us to write about grey.
I’ve also used this week’s words from Secret Keeper: Calm/rough/storm /ease /mute
Monday Morning Musings:
When I was young I played on the beach with my sister
we built sand castles and moats
and body-surfed the waves
peaches and plums dripped with sticky sweetness under the summer sun
for years, I imagined their taste mixed with bits of sandy grit–
memories held in mind’s drawers, sliding in and out,
tumbling in time
My love and I walk the beach hand and hand
summer-warm skin, golden-toasted
bodies young, futures imagined
lazy days and languid nights
hot kisses dancing across flesh
burning, tumbling in time
We walk the beach holding a daughter’s hand,
we walk the beach holding two daughters’ hands,
watch them build sand castles and body surf in the waves
we get hugs and kisses
ice cream melts down faces and onto summer dresses
laughter and tears when storms come
and time tumbles
We walk the boardwalk with grown children
nieces and nephews run ahead and behind
and on top of railings
(Get down from there, Sammy!)
talk of family and this and that
warm summer days
ice cream that melts and drips down our fingers
(lick it off)
the sun sets
and the ferris wheel spins,
the moon smiles down on us
I hear the ocean sing
I hold my love’s hand as we walk across the sand
the tide pulls, ebbs and flows
time tumbles again and again
Yesterday was our 39th anniversary. We went to the beach for a few hours and then out to dinner. A wonderful day!
Dimply in the dapply light,
she danced in joy, my little sprite
the sea breeze tossed her springly hair
while seabirds squawckled in the air
she skipped upon the golden sand
till her father took her by the hand,
together they walked to wavy sea
(tumbling, white-capped, spumey sea)
where in a Jersey summer rite,
she jumped right in, such pure delight
Day 18, NaPoWriMo. The prompt was to incorporate neologisms, made-up words.
This poem is based on my memory of the first time our older daughter saw the ocean.
Monday Morning Musings:
“Like as waves make towards the pebbled shore,
so do our minutes, hasten to their end.”
William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 60”
“The idea was fantastically, wildly improbable. But like most fantastically, wildly improbable ideas it was at least as worthy of consideration as a more mundane one to which the facts had been strenuously bent to fit.”
–Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
Fantastically, wildly improbable,
but worthy of consideration,
a plan to get my mom to the beach for the day.
A notion hatched by H.
on Saturday afternoon, for the next day.
Younger daughter and I already had plans
because we like things set in advance,
definite, not tentative,
we decide to go along with this wildly improbable,
but worthy of consideration idea,
despite the weather forecast.
Isn’t it supposed to thunderstorm?
(My first question to H.)
Texts and phone calls back and forth.
“Jewish guilt will always force a change in plans.”
(Daughter says to me.)
So plans evolve.
We’ll travel in the morning,
have lunch there
and return home early to avoid the traffic.
Husband and I will still get together
with daughter and her husband later for dinner.
A horrible, wonderful, wildly improbable idea,
a beach day for my mom.
Three cars from three destinations travel to Ocean City, NJ.
It’s a Seinfeld episode,
or any sitcom,
the human comedy,
the comedy of errors
What could possibly go wrong?
My husband and I are the first to arrive in Ocean City.
We drive around, looking for a place to park the car.
The downpour begins.
I text the others
We’re sitting in the car
Waiting for the rain to stop.
Trying to be optimistic.
Oh, I hear thunder now.
There’s a flood watch in effect.
But the skies clear,
the sun comes out
and my husband and I walk to the beach.
The sun is shining.
The beach looks washed and clean.
It is beautiful.
Daughter and her husband arrive.
They have met
H., her family, and my mom,
who have decided to walk on the boardwalk.
They will have lunch there.
We have packed our lunch,
but I expect we’ll see them soon.
Daughter and I walk on the beach,
walk and talk,
gazing at the ocean
looking at the gulls,
the little boy who wanders in circles,
shovel in hand,
smile on face,
I keep expecting H. to text me
so we can help them
get my mom onto the beach.
I don’t want them to miss this beautiful day.
But no text.
We return to our beach chairs.
Daughter sits down with half a PB&J sandwich,
she takes one bite,
I hear a scream,
a gull has snatched the sandwich from her hand.
Scary, but kind of amazing.
We wait for H.,
and watch dark clouds moving in.
We wonder where they are,
she hasn’t answered the texts.
It’s getting close to when we planned to leave.
A beach checker comes by.
Do you have beach tags?
We decide to pack up,
and wait for H and family on the boardwalk.
Daughter sees them then–of course.
H. has paid for a special wheelchair contraption to get my mom onto the beach.
My mom can’t get into it.
So my mom holds H’s arm on one side
mine on the other, and
we begin a slow walk over sand,
a few feet that seem like miles.
H’s husband sets up their umbrella and chairs,
and it begins to rain.
My husband and daughter have packed up our things.
We leave my mom with H’s family on the beach,
but it stops raining.
at least for a time.
In the evening, after showers and rest
my husband and I eat pizza and drink wine
with our daughter and her husband,
dog and cat sitting with us companionably.
We watch an old Star Trek movie,
it also involves fantastically, wildly impossible ideas,
but we know Captain Picard and his crew will triumph over
the creepy Borg Queen,
love, friendship, kindness, and creativity
humanity will be saved
a comforting thought.
I haven’t heard yet what happened
with H., her family, and my mom.
I hope they had a great time on the beach.
It’s a fantastically, improbable idea
but one worthy of consideration.
Monday Morning Musings:
“Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?”
–David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
“Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies, an’ tho’ a cloud’s shape nor hue nor size don’t stay the same, it’s still a cloud an’ so is a soul.”
–David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
Nine people killed in a Charleston Church
on a June day last year,
forty-nine killed in an Orlando club
a week ago this June
innocent people going about life,
eat, pray, love
dance to the music
black, white, Latino, gay, trans, and straight
hearts that loved
no longer beat
no more inhaling and exhaling
sending breath into the air
in and out
We began as creatures of the sea
perhaps a sea sponge, 640 million years ago
or perhaps a comb-jelly drifting through the ocean,
we emerged from the sea
a cross between fish and reptile,
walking as if on crutches,
moving between sea and land
what compelled us,
creatures of earth
to leave the sea
to breath the air
And yet, the sea calls to us still
a longing for the rhythm of life,
rocking on the waves
that soothing lullaby of motion,
we tell tales of mermaids and selkies
creatures of both sea and land,
fantasy, or secret desire
to live between these worlds?
We’ve been sprinkled with stardust,
sparkles in our genes,
perhaps we have relatives on distant worlds
who swim in other oceans
whose breath sparkles as they
My husband and I spent the day on the beach
we walked, leaving footprints behind us
that filled with water and vanished
removing all signs that we had strolled that path
we splashed in the surf,
causing ripples in the water,
like those we create each day, existing
watching the seabirds soar above us
their wings wide and white,
I thought of angels,
like those shielding the mourners in Orlando,
like those who stood at the funeral of Matthew Shepard.
I watched those birds,
wondering about the fathers and mothers
protecting their young ones
do they listen for their breaths
We read our books
and watched the waves,
a beautiful day,
the sky bluer than the sea
almost cloudless as we arrived,
but then clouds grew
blooming like flowers,
floating like creatures in the sea
or like the frozen breath of giant beings
formed as they
neither of us with a father any longer,
but he a father, and I a mother,
our children began as cells, multiplying,
growing arms, legs, brains
swimming in an amniotic sea
listening to my heart beat
and my breathing
in and out
till they emerged,
tiny and perfect,
and breathed on their own
and walked upon the land
Do souls cross the ages
as clouds cross the sky?
do we wander through space
after we die?
do we visit oceans on distant worlds?
Do we breathe,
absorbing stardust and infinity
becoming luminous, as we
As oceans are made up of drops
so each one of us is a drop in the universe
each drop is inconsequential,
each drop is unique and important,
the universe is composed of such paradoxes
and so we float and swim
and we drift, we walk on crutches
and we fight to survive
but when the sea calls to us
carried by tide and time
to the sea that gave us life.
On Saturday night, “Father’s Day Eve,” I called it, I made pizza, and we watched the movie Cloud Atlas, based on the book by David Mitchell. Somehow we missed it when it was in the theaters. It’s not for those who like straight forward narrative, but we loved it. I would definitely watch it again. All of the main actors play multiple roles, changing gender and ethnicity. I haven’t read the novel, but I have read David Mitchel’s The Bone Clocks, which also told multiple interconnected stories over time.
Looking back, I discovered that my Father’s Day post last year discussed my father, his life, his death, and how he loved to take us out to eat. I also discussed the Charleston shootings. If you want to read it, you can find it here.
The idea of animals walking as if they used crutches, came from this article.
You can read more about the angels here.
Monday Morning Musings
We made it.
Down the Shore.
Circling for blocks
For a parking spot.
We are a bit farther
than we planned
But it doesn’t matter.
Because we’re here.
And we sit and gaze
At the waves.
And at the sky.
And at the people.
The girl striking ballet poses
For her mother’s photo shoot
She’s all arms and legs,
Her arabesque held
Only for a second.
like this day
In a long line of days
that make up life.
In her youth.
“Look what I can do!”
In her life
It’s been an eternity
Since she was that toddler
Carefully placing each foot,
Her diapered bottom just inches
From the sand.
But to the sea
It’s only a second.
the couple playing catch.
And the family digging
A huge crater in the wet sand.
What are their stories?
We read our books,
And we gaze some more.
There are no shark sightings.
But there is this little guy.
The day is cloudy at first,
But still it’s lovely
Then the sun comes out,
And it is glorious.
A perfect beach day.
The very definition.
A few puffy white clouds
Not too hot
A light breeze from the water.
We hate to leave,
But we’ll be back
Some other time.
The ocean is always here.
We simply need to pause
sometimes to see it.
A stop for water ice
Before we walk back to the car
And home to reality—
Showers and feeding the cats–
And feeding ourselves.
But we were
By the sea,
By the beautiful sea.
You and me.
I’m often surprised to discover how certain foods trigger such vivid memories, at least for me. Early yesterday morning I heard a report on the radio about the record blueberry season happening right now in New Jersey. Hmmm. . .blueberries.
Well, I just happened to have some of those delicious New Jersey blueberries in my refrigerator–and the time to bake some blueberry muffins.
I can’t remember the last time I made muffins. I bake frequently—cookies, bread, cake, fruit crisps, and on and on. But since our daughters are not living at home, my husband doesn’t eat breakfast, and I usually have a big bowl of oatmeal for breakfast (sometimes topped with blueberries) to sustain me through morning work and sometimes morning workouts, I haven’t baked muffins in quite a while. Today seemed like the perfect day. Our younger daughter is home, and I had the opportunity.
I followed a recipe I got from the BarneGate Bed and Breakfast in Ocean City, NJ. We used to stay there each June, as I mentioned in a previous post. The couple who owned the place retired several years ago, but my family and I think fondly of them and of our summers at their cozy inn. Opening the spiral-bound collection of recipes elicits numerous memories of our stays there, sitting in the dining room while we ate muffins, drank coffee, and talked to Frank and Lois, the owners. Each summer they commented on how our girls had grown and asked what we done during the past year. They filled us in on what had happened in their lives, too. Our family looked forward to our vacations there every summer. In my mind I picture those long ago summers when our children were younger, and so were my husband and I. . .so many memories triggered by yesterday’s muffins.
When our daughter woke up and came downstairs to find the freshly baked muffins, she was pleased and excited. (We get excessively excited by food in our household.) Then she stopped and told me the muffins made her think of her beloved cat Michael, who died during her senior year in high school. She had remembered that she couldn’t leave blueberry muffins on the table because he would eat them. Michael would eat almost anything that we left out, not simply meat, milk, or cheese, but baked goods, too. We could never leave baked goods to cool on the counter unattended. For some reason, he particularly enjoyed blueberry muffins. Not that we ever gave him muffins or any food not labeled cat food, but he could was very clever—and fast—and he had super-cat powers when it came to finding food. (He got excessively excited about all sorts of food, too. I guess he was a natural fit in our household.)
So yesterday’s muffins brought back bittersweet memories to both my daughter and me, but that didn’t stop either of us from eating them.
And they were delicious.. .
BarnaGate Bed and Breakfast
Old-Fashioned Blueberry Muffins (with some adaptations)
Makes 12 Muffins
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. nutmeg
2/3 cup sugar
½ tsp. salt
½ cup butter, melted
½ cup milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
1 ½ cup blueberries
¼ cup sliced almonds mixed with 2 Tbsp. sugar for garnish (I finely ground almonds and mixed with sugar—I probably used more of both almonds and sugar.)
Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add blueberries; stir to coat evenly.
In small bowl beat eggs with fork; beat in milk and butter.
Add wet mixture to blueberry mixture; stir just until blended.
Fill pans 2/3 full and sprinkle with almond-sugar mixture.
Bake for 15-25 minutes.
“Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.”
I am a morning person. Yes, one of those annoying people who wakes up able and willing to carry on conversations before having coffee. I try to keep these conversations to myself—or I converse with the cats—because it is a struggle for my husband to put two coherent words together until he has had coffee and been awake for an hour or two.
I awaken with my mind full of lists and ambitious. I see the day before me as a fresh sheet of paper on which I can write a new story, one that I hope will include my own triumphs, accomplishments, and joys, and that will not include disasters—kitchen or otherwise—or despair
I want to do everything in the morning—writing, exercise, chores, and errands. I would be happy if mornings lasted all day.I decided to re-season my cast iron frying pan at 6:30 this morning, while cooking oatmeal. Who does that—unless they are a morning person? The downside is that I’m tired and barely articulate by eight o’clock at night, and when early darkness hits in December, I feel like I should be getting ready for bed at six. That’s six PM.
My biological clock is set to a preindustrial time when people arose with the dawn and went to bed at sunset. (I understand, too, why preindustrial people sometimes slept with their livestock to keep themselves and the animals warm. People with dogs or cat that sleep on their beds know how much heat they generate.) My body and mind, however, are firmly rooted in the twenty-first century. Waking up would not be pleasant without indoor plumbing, heat, and a coffee maker.
Although I realize that going to work, especially with long commutes, getting children off to school, and other chores make mornings less than fun for most people, I still love them. The mornings I love the most, however, are the quiet relaxing mornings when there is nothing I have to do and nowhere I have to be. For many years, my husband, daughters, and I went to a bed and breakfast inn in Ocean City, New Jersey in June. We took the attic “suite” –two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a sitting area with a small refrigerator. In the mornings, I woke up early and went out to the sitting area to read. After my husband woke up, we would go downstairs and sit on the porch. There, encased in comfortable chairs, we enjoyed the sea breeze and the promise of another day of vacation, as we drank coffee and watched early morning joggers, bikers, and dog walkers, and waited for breakfast to be ready.
This past Sunday, I woke up long before anyone else. Our children and their significant others were home and still sleeping, as was my husband. We had had our lovely and wonderful Passover meal the night before. The morning was quiet and beautiful. I was happy and feeling content with my life. I fed the cats, sipped my coffee, and read the newspaper–which had arrived on time, even though it was Easter morning. Perfect.