A Tea Story by Noreen O’Brien

I’m not quite sure what it is about England’s Cornwall that creates an urge in me to drink pots and pots of tea simply by seeing an image or hearing the name of the peninsula spoken. Is it the British shows, for example Doc Martin, with its scenes of a windblown village and cottages tucked into the hillsides, or Poldark, with its main character riding horseback, cape trailing behind as he races across the windy cliffs, the ocean waters crashing the beach far below him? Or is it the writing of Rosamunde Pilcher, with her homey stories of island life and cozy fires lit on chilly days that spawn images of pots of tea?

Whatever the inspiration, I find myself relating Cornwall to tea—and by “tea” I mean loose black tea—tea leaves, not tea bags. A full-bodied blend, not an herbal, a green, or a flowery-fruity tea, rather an English or Irish Breakfast blend, well steeped in a Brown Betty teapot, one of which I am still searching for to replace the one I dropped years ago to a tile floor where it smashed into smithereens. Continue reading

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nature of resilience: Sculpture Magazine 2014            by alice thomas

 

neo-sculptures 

centuries of
catapulted art:
hemp and wood
brass and textile

were transformed
beyond burning
to a breathing
combustible archeology

from nature’s ancient bounty
burnt   salted   carved
re-established as
a superior bloom

re-seen      renewed
art-    all over again

 

Toe Tapping by Dolly Arsenault

When I was about eight years old, my mother strongly suggested that my sister Terry and I take dancing lessons. A woman in our parish, Miss Sylvia, gave weekly classes in tap and toe. Toe dancing held no interest for me. It looked painful and those pointy pink satin shoes couldn’t be worn for anything other than flitting about in a tutu. Tap shoes, however, could beat out rhythms on wooden floors and also on cement sidewalks. Tap dancing was definitely the one I wanted. Terry shrugged and said she’d take whichever I chose.

And so it was decided that my sister and I would sign up. The beginners tap dance class was held on Mondays after school. Before we left for school the following Monday, our mother gave us each a quarter to pay for the lesson. Continue reading

Remember When? by Estelle Cade

As busy parents it was hard to just get through the days sometimes, let alone take notice of those special “small moments” of tenderness or joy. Yet as we live out our lives, those small moments can pop up seemingly out of the blue, but no doubt just waiting in one’s subconscious to be enjoyed anew.

My daughter, an only child for her first five years, was thrilled to know that right after her 6th birthday she’d have a baby brother or sister. She would put her eye to my stomach and tell us: that’s my baby brother in there” – and she was right! She loved being a “Helper” and would happily bring me a clean shirt or some little item. I’ve never forgotten the day I looked into the baby’s room and saw her standing by the crib, singing “Rock a bye Baby” to her brother, as his blue eyes watched her so intently. A tender moment to cherish. Continue reading

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.