Sounds of My Life  by Janet Keyes

Early there were murmurs of adults
reading stories to each other-
near the warm kitchen stove,
grandparents, father, mother.

In summer came the chirps of cricket song,
and wind in pines made whistling sound.
Greenfield added rumbling trains
as raucous city noises would abound.

In teen years I heard music of my peers
the stuff my mother could not love-
and I came to know choral hymns
telling us of God above.

In nursing I heard anguished moans of pain,
from terminal patients unrelieved.
Their doctors’ fear of making addicts
was not to be believed.

In motherhood I cherished tiny sounds
of newborn infants’ little cries,
and when I held and nursed them,
there were gentle happy sighs.

In all the years my kids were growing up,
their noise of living filled my every day,
laughing, joking, squabbling, yelling-
my children went on their way.

 Inevitably, declining times have come,
and lesser sounds are falling on my ears.
Cicadas, crickets, hoots, and howls
serenade me through the years.

 

A Minor Triumph by David Bryant

About two months after my uncle’s death, I decided to go back to New Jersey to see how my aunt was doing, since she was now alone in a fairly big house. It was early spring, and I decided to travel by bus.

I didn’t bring any money with me. There was money in my bank account here, and I thought I could just go to a bank in New Jersey as soon as I got there. To my utter surprise, the banks closed at one o’clock on Saturdays in New Jersey. I was sure I could get by until Monday. After all, my aunt had always provided anything a family member needed.

By the time I got to my aunt’s house, I could see she was very upset. I learned that my uncle had left some loose ends after a previous marriage, and this was bothering my aunt. As we sat talking about it, I became very tired, too tired to continue any dialog, and I told that to my aunt. All of a sudden she seemed to snap, and she jumped to her feet shouting in a rage, ”Get out! Get out!” Continue reading

A Time Before GPS by Marty Glaser

I remember long ago learning to study maps when I was planning a trip. After deciding what roads I would drive, I wrote out the directions North and South with the road between arrows. I could quickly glance at my route chart without going back to the map. On the initial and return trips, I employed the same technique, which I found extremely useful.

I was pretty good at getting someplace the first time. I also seemed to be pretty good at getting back home. I utilized the “Take a picture” in my head of locations, buildings, names of stores, etc. Once I had gone some place, I always seemed to be able to return.

This skill was acquired when I was fifteen and a half years old. If my parents allowed me to drive their car, they made sure I drove carefully and with respect, and provided the necessary care for their vehicle. My father taught me to change tires, check the battery, and radiator fluid. Topping off the windshield wiper fluid and checking the windshield wipers for cracks was standard procedure in our family.
Continue reading

Don’t Forget? by Estelle Cade

 

An appointment? A trip to – where?

Did I forget? What day is this?

Don’t forget – forget what?

We live by our calendars – little square by little square.

Pen and paper by the phone always.

“I have sticky notes all over my house,”

a friend confides to me.

“Yet,” she adds, “either I cannot read

what I wrote 

or cannot remember why I wrote it, so

who cares anyway?”

“I forgot” – remember those days?

The basic answer to so many questions

as one child or another stands before you

“Why didn’t you bring home your report card?

Why didn’t you give me the permission slip

last week that you need today?

Why didn’t you tell us that Parent’s Night is tonight –

and that you’d said I’d bake two dozen cupcakes?”

And on and on

Do you remember saying

“What if Dad forgot he had to go to work?

What if I forgot to pick you up after school?

Or conveniently forgot that dinner had to be cooked

tonight  – and every night, for heaven’s sake.”

It seems now that the “I forgot” in youth

somehow morphs into

“I can’t remember anything”

as we age 

and our children find it frustrating perhaps.

Might this be Divine Retribution?

Raindrops by Janice Lepore

Susan giggled and continued singing, “Rain drops keep falling on my head” to no one in particular. Clamping the ends of her pillow tightly around her head, Sydney tried to stifle the sound of the rain as well as Susan’s mantra.

 It was day two of their annual family camping trip and also day two of the rain. Sydney actually enjoyed the pitter patter of the rain on the canvas tent as she waited for the excess to run off the angled tarp. There was a rhythm to the combined sounds that made the nights peaceful. It was the dreary, damp days that had everyone mincing words. Reading, writing, playing games together was just more fun in the warm sunshine.

Suddenly Sydney remembered listening to a group singing around a campfire when she was younger and had to go to bed while everyone else – adults, that is – were having fun. There had been words about Moriah and blowing in the wind or something like that. The words had a soft wistful sound that soothed and refreshed at the same time.

 Deeming Moriah the Goddess of the wind, Sydney drifted off to sleep confident that day three would dawn bright and clear, and her twin sister Susan would have no more raindrops falling on her head.

Mom’s Secret by Janet Keyes

When my older children were young I got into a health food kick. I even asked the Easter Bunny to bring no chocolate, just healthy things like nuts and sesame logs. I was not just being mean; a couple of the kids were slightly allergic to chocolate. The children seemed a little less enthusiastic about Easter baskets in those days.

I sometimes made cookies from ingredients bought at the health food store on Miles Street, even including soy flour.  Occasionally the cookies were pretty good.  I also made my own granola, using stone-ground oats, chopped dates, sunflower seeds, organic almonds, and a hint of honey.  Lightly toasted, that granola tasted great.

My cupboards often contained brown paper bags labeled “Stone-ground Bulgar Wheat” and other earthy crunchy things.  My kids were not truly deprived of chocolate, as they could go next door to Grandma Keyes’ house and get a little chocolate almost any time.  They thought I didn’t know, but I could see the little chocolate rash on small buttocks at bath time.

Sometimes I also had a craving for chocolate.  One day I bought a can of Nestle’s Chocolate Quik to have on hand for my little emergencies.  How could I hide it from the kids? Ah, yes.  I cut up a brown paper grocery bag and created a neat wrap for the Quik container.  Then I used a black Flair pen to label it “Stone-Ground Broccoli.”  This was perfect, and I could place it in plain sight on the top shelf of the cupboard.

This ruse worked well for about two years. Then one day I walked into the kitchen and saw a chair next to the counter near that cupboard, and twelve-year-old Julie and seven-year-old Peter standing next to the kitchen table, where the Stone-Ground Broccoli container stood open.  Both the container and the kids looked at me accusingly.

“Mom! How long have you been hiding Quik in this disguise?  This has been on that shelf a long time!”

Busted! My chocolate secret was destroyed, never to be replicated again.

Our Old Barn by Janet Keyes

Our barn had a great history.  Reportedly it was once the carriage house for the large white building at the corner of Main and High Streets, next to the Walker Funeral Home.  Many years ago, probably before 1910, it was moved all the way to its current location at the end of Colorado Avenue. To move it the new owner (probably Bruno Hartmann) had to dismantle it completely, then move it board by board and beam by beam on horse-drawn wagons.  The old construction involved pegs in addition to nails.  The round wooden pegs and the old-fashioned cut nails were carefully removed, then re-used at the new location.  I’m not sure what the wood was.  Chestnut was the most common old wood, but this was likely something else.

Bruno Hartmann had a small farm, maybe about 70 acres, and he kept a few cows and sold milk to his neighbors in that small German community. The barn was about 30 by 30 with two large lofts connected by a smaller loft at the front of the building.  The barn had to accommodate two or three cows, two draft horses, and lots of hay in addition to a small space for grain, tack, and tools. Continue reading

WE ARE A TOWN by Alice Thomas

I know a man a woman who eats whatever is placed on the plate

Chinese Soul Indian Thai New Food and it’s all from ‘home’

prays the Shema and Our Father all around town

sees all sides of the coin of this realm

whose family comes from Portugal Puerto Rico Moldova Russia Poland and points north

with tongues moving in all directions to the right the left and center

who lives in dwellings of apartment jail farm home congregate rehabilitation shelter motel

makes mis-takes but always does their best … whatever that is

we are all of them Greenfield of Franklin County

Battling Wildlife in my House by Janet Keyes

“Hey, how long was the cat in the house today?” Allan asked me suspiciously.

“I don’t know, why?”

“Well, I was just in the master bathroom, and I’m pretty sure he killed a bird in there!”

“That’s ridiculous,” I protested. “Lightning is old and no longer has any eye teeth so he can’t kill anything! Besides, how on earth could a bird even get inside the house?”

“I dunno. But there are gray and white feathers on the counter right beside the sink!”

A light dawned in my fuzzy brain. “Oh-oh, I gave myself a haircut in the bathroom earlier, and I took at least three fistfuls of hair clippings to the wastebasket but maybe I forgot the last batch.”

Allan shook his head. “No, feathers, definitely feathers,” he insisted. I detected a distinct twinkle in his eyes.

By then I had entered the bathroom. The abandoned hair clippings really did look like feathers.

But poor old Lightning was off the hook. I was the culprit.

Ah, the joys of wildlife. And, oh, the joys of living with Allan’s sense of humor.

No Nuthin’ by Estelle Cade

No secret stairways,
No hidden rooms,
No spectral visitors,
No magic brooms.

No twisting passageways,
No buried treasure.
Watch for low tide lines,
Be sure to measure.

No mossy cave marks,
No bony guests,
Only seaweed, pebbles, shells,
No echo of a lost ship’s bell.

No pirate ship
No pieces of eight
No yo ho ho,
No bottles of rum.

No Treasure Island,
No Captain Hook.
Oh go away, Nancy Drew,
You’re in a different book!