Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Kitchen Table

     the kitchen table is where we all hang out, around a circle of caramel colored wood
     from an old Oak tree that grandma Della bought with a hundred dollar bill from Barbara,
     the single mom of four who used to live across the street.

     she had to pay the electric and gas and we needed a place to gather as a family in
     the warmest place of the house where something was always on the stove or in the oven.

     the crack gets glued once a year from elbows that have leaned in to hear familiar voices talk
     about book reports, bad ass bullies in the lunchroom, pregnancies and marriages.

     this sacred circle of wood that holds our family and friends together has heard it all
     standing in silence as regal as the tree it once was, holding space for hungry mouths
     in need of nourishment for body and soul, it's the place where we all hang out.



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Job Offer at Trader Joe's

     There is a stone house with three arched windows in the front that looks like a castle, called The Writer's Place. Poets and writers go there to share stories but I lurk from afar because I don't have the courage to read my poems to a crowd, naked on the stage is what it would feel like to me. All week it's been popping in my head to go there, but the last thing I remember before bed last night was a command telling me to go to Trader Joe's in the afternoon. No, I planned to drive past the house and Trader Joe's is out of the way.  "Go to Trader Joe's," spirit repeated. Well alright, maybe I will, my daughter has been feeling ill and I've heard they have organic chickens, she probably needs chicken soup.

     After morning coffee, my daughter told me she felt we needed to go to Trader Joe's. A voice had told her. That's twice I heard the message. Wonder why they didn't make it easy and say Whole Foods or Natural Grocers that's in my neighborhood? Must be those chickens. So off we went. It was a good drive with autumn in full bloom and people on lunch break. Knobby white, green and orange pumpkins surrounded the doors. Cheap fresh flowers, organic bananas and pineapples were on sale. The customers were dressy and in a hurried state, must have been the working crowd, nobody smiled much. Let's get out of here was my thought because we got to laughing about stupid things, I was afraid they would think we were laughing at them. There was a man in a wheelchair in the salsa aisle with tubes going into his nose. He stared at me after I smiled at him, and out of the blue, blurted, "this stuffs the best! Ever try it?" Hannah laughed and he frowned asking, "what's so funny!"

     "You sound like my brothers, they love that brand and always say it's the best," she said. That broke his frown and he told us he was a food writer for a magazine in Missouri, had 500 recipes, some with raccoon. He slurped his words like they were a savory stew when he told us about rabbit and squirrel in soups and I thought he was pulling our leg. He never married, didn't have children so cooking was his love. He perfected the Vietnamese street vendor's sandwich, was a contract lawyer and had traveled all over the world.

     "Read books about Cesar and the history before traveling to a place," he said. "Before I went to Ireland, I knew everything about their old buildings and the beers they drank. Made me everyone's friend when I walked into the pub." He told my daughter to enjoy life and never be scared of it. "If a nice young fella asks you to spend time with him in Europe for a few months, you do it! What the hell, have fun. Before you know it, you could be a fat old scraggy man in a wheel chair wearing one of these things to keep a heart going and stinking tubes up your nose so you can breathe. I did what I wanted in life. You have to go to Dubai." he continued. "It's never as bad as you think once you get there." he said.

     Our conversation was starting to wind down when he turned to me and asked if I would come to live with him, cook and take care of him as he aged. "I'll pay $200,000 a year and I'm not looking to get married. I had a lady I had to fire because she was getting sweet with me and wanted to marry. Here's your check, bye bye is what I told her."  As a freelance artist, I have had my share of eclectic offers, but this one topped them all. I came in because of the organic chickens mister, as tempting as your offer may be.

     "Are you bothering these women? I'm checking out now." said a white haired woman who arrived on the scene. She too was in a wheel chair with deep set blue eyes, it was the man's sister. They shared the same big nose but it looked smaller on her face. What a coincidence, she was an artist too. We exchanged emails because she invited us to attend her first art show but apologized that she wasn't a real artist like my daughter and I because she had trained herself. "That's ridiculous," I told her. "Do you love what you do? If so, then yes, you're a real artist too. I wasn't trained either," I assured her, "but I love what I do."

     She is showing her work at guess where, the Writer's Place. Her dear friend is the head of the organization there so she gets to have her work on display for a month. Before I knew it, she was gone, wheeled herself through the checkout line and out the door. Her brother  followed me out, telling the checkers he wasn't leaving until I agreed to live with him and he wrote his email address twice on the Trader Joe's flyer. If only he was twenty something and I was 18, that would have sounded kind of cool.

     Two hours later, we were putting away the groceries and my husband asked if we got lost. "No, I was offered a $200,000 job to cook and take care of a 75 year old man without marriage."

    "You what!" he screeched. "Come on, he's old, you won't miss me and I'll send you emails. $200,000! We could buy fun stuff and a year goes by so fast." I said.

     "Really, stop kidding, you're not taking the job are you?" he moaned.

     "For God's sake, no! He wasn't serious."

     "Did you find the organic chickens?" he asked

     "Yes, they're $15 a piece so I passed."

     "I thought that's why you went to Trader Joe's? " he said and then left to finish watching the sports channel.

     No, that's not why I went to Trader Joe's I thought. Two boxes of butternut soup, persimmons, bananas, fresh greens and some crazy bread for sandwiches. I went because Spirit guided me, knowing it was the place to be at the perfect moment so that I could meet fearless Larry who has a sister that will bring me to The Writer's Place and I will read my poems because I am a poet like the other trained poets and I will do something else that I love. Yes, it was all about Larry who lived two hours away and was visiting for a short time who needed two women who had the time to hear his stories and soften his frown.


     The voice of Spirit is soft, often ignored, a gentle nudge if we allow. When we allow, Spirit laughs and angels give us signs to communicate. Notice the sign over Larry's head, aren't they funny?


Friday, October 4, 2013

Fat Cat

fat black cat that's hopped the fence
scouring the yard for a fishy treat
on another boring Friday night where nothing happens
in this hood of tv watching people 
who've forgotten how to connect face to face
they've lost the touch of weather watching
and animal speak, no sounds of children
there are no echoes in the tree tonight
go home fat black cat
everything here is bland and flavorless