Monthly Archives: August 2017

August 31 – An Ordinary Thursday

by Pat Anthony

Sometimes it’s okay to write about the inconsequential, what doesn’t shake the earth, slides to the horizon where it accumulates with all the other slides into a nice hummock, not even a mountain, but there nonetheless.

Today was like that as I pulled into Wal-Mart after physical therapy for a bad hip that puzzles everyone: stationary bike, stability ball, manipulations, MRI in the morning.

She is tiny, white hair shining above her navy tunic. She comes toward us from where her grocery cart is parked beside a massive black Chevy Silverado. “I’ve never done anything like this before, but my keys are locked in the truck. Do you think I could use your cell phone if you have one? I locked mine in the truck so I don’t have to bother answering it while I try to shop.”

I size her up and speed through a mental list of safety measures for sharing cell phones as I move toward my car, being a kindred spirit who locks up my cellphone before shopping.

She calls her husband who is really deaf and out working on a trailer; I’m afraid he won’t hear it. He doesn’t. She calls her daughter who doesn’t answer.

I ask her if there’s anything frozen in her cart and she laughs. “Oh yes, there’s ice cream.” I suggest we wheel back into the store to at least park in the air conditioning.

She tries her daughter at the shop and finally gets an answer and explains.

I tell her that perhaps customer service would put her thawing items in a cold space until her second set of keys arrive but she laughs again, serene and warm,.

“Oh honey, I’ll just make him a chocolate malt. No need to worry.”

I go to search the store for items on my list, particularly a Frozen Be Calm, Let it Go rolling backpack for a step great-granddaughter. There’s irony in there somewhere.

My phone rings again, and her daughter wants me to let her know that her Dad is truly on the way. I return to the lobby and deliver the message to more smiles.

Not being of the calm and serene disposition, but bipolar and anxious over every small thing, I marvel at how she has been placed in my path today, an ordinary Thursday.

Where we meet our God is always a puzzle. Moses met him in the burning bush, Elijah hears a tiny whisper, the apostles see him walking on white-capped waves. I meditate on Megan McKenna’s idea that “the Messiah is one of us.”

I let her know when we leave, reassure her once again, and cherish her smile one more time. She will remain nameless, this woman who in her own distress could make me feel whole and helpful. While her ice cream thawed she gave me the gifts of peace and calm as I watched her let it go. I’ve never seen the movie but today I got the message.

Pat Anthony writes from the rural midwest, studying furrows in the land and on the faces of those who work it. Recently retired from education she is a former small press poetry editor and poems daily. She is published fairly regularly in various journals and actually enjoys editing and rewrites! She blogs at http://middlecreekcurrents.com.

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August 18 – Dishwashing Lesson

by Linda C. Wisniewski

The grease-filled pan waited on my kitchen counter all morning.
He made baby back ribs the night before and the sink was full of pots and knives, the barbecue brush, a spatula, and a large cookie sheet of dark brown congealed fat and sauce. We walked right past it this morning on the way to get my car serviced. Now he’s out somewhere.

When he gets home, I’ll tell him to put foil or the silicon pad on the cookie sheet next time for easy cleanup. That’s what I would have done. Back when he worked full time and I did the cooking, I learned the best way to do these things. Now he’s a retired scientist turned sculptor and I teach memoir classes and write part-time. We’re on the same footing in this household now and, to my surprise, he loves to cook.

I grabbed a sponge and washed the pots and pans and the knives and the brush. All done but the cookie sheet. With the dirty spatula, I pushed the lumps of fat into the trash can under the sink. I soaped the pan and reached for the steel wool in its dish. The wool pad disintegrated as I began to scrub. I found another in the yellow box under the sink and all the while, I thought about last night on the deck. The air was mild, the moon a bright crescent in the dark sky above the outlines of trees. Like many other nights and also unique in itself.

We two made a promise one September day to share our lives, for better or worse. Then came sickness and health, a baby boy, surgery, vacations, graduations, cancelled plans, weddings, our parents’ funerals, two dogs, three cats, reunions, Paris and Prague. Today was another in a chain of days becoming years as we grew old together. If I was lucky. I forgot what I was going to say about dirty pans.

Here he comes with an armload of groceries. I wonder what’s for lunch.

Linda C. Wisniewski shares an empty nest with her retired scientist husband in Bucks County, PA. Her memoir, Off Kilter, was published by Pearlsong Press. Linda has been a member of Story Circle Network for many years. She blogs at www.lindawis.com.

August 15 – Living Among Strangers

by Ariela Zucker

My husband and I live in the motel we own and run. Our residence located between the lobby and the laundry room is an example of efficiency. This location ensures our ability to oversee the daily operation with ease. It also means that a constant stream of strangers moves in and out of our private space at all times.

Whoever planned the motel made sure to install enough doors to make the flow smooth and so there are four doors, each with its unique function, all of them need to be watched continuously. I can never be sure that my privacy will not be harshly intruded upon at any minute.

The first is the one to the lobby where the reception desk is and people check-in; sign on their check-in slips and receive the keys to their rooms. On their way into the breakfast room, to buy a cold drink, or ask a question about the weather, our guests scream hello, wave or even stick their head in the window that connects the lobby to our living room.

The second door leads to the motel laundry room; this is where our staff comes in in the morning to get the daily cleaning sheet. Through this door, they also come in at the end of the day to sign out or any other time of the day to ask questions about the daily chores.

The third set of doors leads from our bedroom to the backyard. People don’t come in through it anymore since we fenced it in for the dog.

The fourth is my favorite. It is our private entrance to our residence, there is a big sign on it that says ‘Private’ but few times a year, usually late at night, a confused guest will wander in. Caught in the bizarre situation, seeing us watching our favorite show on TV, he will freeze like a deer in headlights. Being used to this, we watch the frightened stranger with obvious amazement trying to guess what strategy of exit he will execute.

There is a fifth door; we were told when we bought the motel. The door connected the bedroom to the utility room. It is now blocked behind a large closet. Still, late at night, already in my bed, I wonder if one day it will open and one of our guests will emerge, rub his eyes and inquire about the best seafood restaurant.

Used to the constant presence of strangers, I will probably point him in the right direction, pull the blanket over my head and nod back into blissful sleep.

Ariela Zucker was born in Israel. She and her husband  left sixteen years ago and now reside Ellsworth Maine where they run a Mom and Pop motel. She blogs at https://my-motel.blogspot.ca/