chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

Tag Archives: home

just published

Honored to have two poems, “Apartment,” “And one day, my shadow will walk away,” included in Raven Chronicles, Vol. 24, pages 137-138.

Advertisements

found poem: shape

found poem: THE SHORES

found poem: YOU

found poem: fool

found poem: Since

sylvan…

festooned…

roof…

rooflineTypical for its vintage but atypical for the neighborhood (and the climate), my house has a flat roof. For the passing gulls, crows, squirrels and cats, this presents an expansive parkland — a vantage, rest stop, conference center, dance floor.

From inside, I hear the crows and gulls arguing, the thud of their heavy, hopping bodies and the echo of small feet thumping across the roof. After dark, a cat launches itself onto the fence and from there onto the roof, then gallops the perimeter. In a mad-flung circuit from tree to tree, a squirrel makes a daring and speedy traverse of the roof edge.

A raucous squawking and hammering draws me into the covered patio, where a skylight is covered with a sheet of glass. A pair of frustrated crows peck madly at the glass to get a bug that flits safely on the other side. The crows are ruffled, persistent, dogged in their certainty that the next peck will deliver a morsel.

Last night, I awakened around 2 from a vivid and unremembered dream to the familiar thump of small feet above my head. A lot of feet. Rising more fully to consciousness, I realized it was not critters, but rain — huge, hard, widely-spaced drops hammering onto the roof in what might have been the sound of hundreds of scampering squirrels. The sound was so unusual, I had to get up and look out the window to make sure it wasn’t hail. But outside, the patio was freckled only with rain and the squirrels hunkered silent wherever it is they sleep.

Another fifteen minutes of intermittent rain punctuated by lightning and thunder from a not-very-close electrical storm (the second in a week) and I too was hunkered back into silent sleep.

purple…

purple platesMy house is a blonde. When you walk in the front door, what you see is light. She wasn’t always that way. When we met, back in 2005, she was drab and worn, solid and serviceable but in need of a makeover — one of those before-and-after jobs that look so easy in the magazines, where you rarely see what comes between Before and After.

I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted and set-to with determination, cash and a paintbrush. As her personality evolved, I felt a strong call: purple dishes. Having forgotten to get married, I never got my set of regulation dishware. My cabinet has always been filled with an eclectic assortment of thrift shop purchases and family hand-me-downs. So when I got the purple urge, it wasn’t Macy’s or Williams Sonoma that spoke to me, it was Value Village. The mugs were the easiest to find; the bowls the most difficult. The plates and saucers stacked up one by one, the old white and green and blue dishes returning to the donation bin on the next run.

One dish at a time is not the easiest way to buy china. But each time I emerged from the Salvation Army store with a 99-cent purple plate in my hand, I felt the satisfaction of a budget-conscious recycler, the excitement of an archaeologist and the mouth-watering anticipation of meals to come.

They’re lovely in the cabinet, but like any bride’s fine china, they’re most appealing arrayed on the table. Nothing matches. The purples range from the palest lavender to eggplant — lilacs and violets, amethysts and plums.

Each dish holds the secret of its past — the flavors it has known, the hands that have held it — and I imagine I’m populating my kitchen shelves, and my table, with delicious stories the dishwasher can’t drain away.

the color line…

detail ~ the force that through the green fuse drives the flower ~ j.i. kleinberg 1968Sometime after I had left home, my mother discovered a minimalist aesthetic within herself. She stripped down the large space that was the living-dining room and the long hall that led to the front door, removing anything with color — upholstery, pillows, paintings and other objects — and replacing everything with tones of white, principally featuring some very abstract canvas constructions of her own.

If my father brought up a beautiful polished agate from his workshop and set it on the coffee table, Dorothy would move it to another room; if I brought home a sample of my weaving and draped it across the back of the sofa for viewing, without a word she would move it to my bed.

The all-white aesthetic was imposed upon only these ‘public’ areas of the house; the kitchen and our bedrooms and especially Dorothy’s studio were still heaped with stuff and splashed with color. But it meant that visitors were embraced by a kind of iciness from the moment they stepped in the front door. Granted, there was something calming about the monochromatic lightness. But there was also something obsessive and disagreeable about it, as if we ourselves were too colorful to merit attention. As if color itself could wound us mortally.

Over time, as color found its way back into her artwork, Dorothy eased her enforcement and gradually the house lost its art-gallery-on-opening-night feeling and softened back into a place to live.

I’m older now than Dorothy was then and though I keep a watchful eye for symptoms of minimalism in myself, my life continues to be a feast of color, texture and stuff.

blind curve…

Our street was one block long. It had been carved into a small hill above a large cemetery and in the span of just ten houses rose steeply from its flat, lower section with a blind curve in the middle. Our house was on the curve and our days and nights were punctuated with the beeps and blasts of car horns as drivers warned any oncoming traffic — and kids playing in the street — that they were coming through.

On two occasions, visitors to houses uphill from ours failed to crank their wheels toward the curb when they were parking. Unobserved, their cars rolled down the hill and smashed into the corner of our house, twice giving my mother an excuse to reconfigure the room off the kitchen we called the service porch.

The neighbors exclaimed how lucky it was that none of the kids were in the path of the runaway car, but my mother never replied to these comments. While I knew she wasn’t homicidal, her message was clear: she would have immeasurably preferred the uninterrupted convenience of a child-free life.

%d bloggers like this: