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Catch It While You Can!

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All info from this blog has been transferred to my new blog “Gomming & Yowing” ( I’ll be shutting this site down soon, so I hope you’ll transfer over to the new one and keep reading.


Just A Reminder…

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This blog is about to be archived, but all past content–and all new posts–will be available at my new blog site:  Gomming & Yowing. Can’t wait to see you there!

My Good-bye Wave...hahahahaha!

New Bloginnings…

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Thank you to everyone who’s enjoyed this blog since 2008–I appreciate your readership and comments! I’m switching to a new blog — “Gomming & Yowing” — which allows me a little more room to wallow about in words. I hope you’ll make the switch: and tell me what you think (as long as you’re nice about, of course!).

See you there!

Crocus Pocus

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Spring has an undeniable magic: a warm breath of wind on what should be a chilly morning; a thread of scent, spicy and sweet–winter honeysuckle, perhaps–that’s gone before you’re sure it was there; buds that swell into being seemingly overnight.

Spring, much like hope, springs eternal

All this magical blooming and bursting and bubbling up of new life has side effects, of course: every swathe of green grass (more violently green in those patches that the dog favored last fall) sprouts a bumper crop of bodies–singles, couples, families–intent on exposing winter-white and waxen limbs to the rays of the young sun while lolling on bright quilts and tartan throws (that icon of spontaneous picnickery plucked from the trunk of the family truckster). These ground covers are regarded as talismans imbued with miraculous powers to protect the lollers from the simultaneous dangers of rampant sunburn, grass allergies, and rising damp that precedes a a sore throat and sniffles by about 24 hours after having engaged in the perilous practice of casting off clothing (a.k.a. “spring-fling”) too early in the season.

(With apologies to poet William Stevenson, “Back and side go bare, go bare, both foot and hand go cold…”)

In a nutshell? Enjoy the magic of spring from the safety of your socks, shoes, and sweaters–at least until the frost melts and the oak leaves are as big as squirrels’ ears, phenologically speaking. Or, in post-modern terms, plant your non-genetically modified heirloom ‘taters when the girls at the schoolbus stop shed their Uggs for flip-flops…

Green Tea (Part 7, a.k.a. The End)

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Shelli smiles at me out from under her hat. Not for the first time, her eyes remind me of hard blue marbles pressed into the chalk oval of her face. I set the tray down on top of the desk, needing to be free of the weight of it before it hits the floor.

“No problem,” I say, trying to mean it. “I have some things to catch up on, anyway.”

“See?” Shelli says, tapping your arm, flexing her red talons into the heavy wool of your coat.

She’ll need to change the color of her nail polish if the two of you continue to see each other. If she lasts longer than the ambassador’s daughter, or the dean’s wife, or the grad student with the white Jeep. Of course, the grad student was allergic to Leo and that was a problem. I remember running out of the office to buy Benadryl on more than one occasion when she was sneezing and puffy and miserable.

The two of you move toward the door. You open it with one hand and usher Shelli out ahead of you. I wonder if you will be in tomorrow, or if I should start cancelling your appointments in the morning. You have a meeting with the History Chair at 10 a.m.—he’s interested in pursuing a grant based on your findings in York.

At the last instant, you turn your great lion’s head back to glance at me. “Best cancel everything for tomorrow, Een,” you say.  “Shelli says it’s getting nasty out there.”

Een—that’s worse than ‘Miss Harris,’ if possible. Sounds like a horse or a dog or a faithful old retainer, patted on the head or the muzzle for a job well done. Shelli says something, her voice carrying in from the landing, her tone unmistakable.

“Yes, coming, darling,” you soothe, smiling out into the darkness where she waits. Turning back to me you add, “If it’s not too bad in the morning, you might just come in and get those notes organized for the presentation at Carlyle’s.”

I nod, dismissed, and you are gone. The door settles back into its frame with a wheeze and a sigh, tired of being held open on its elderly hinges. I am drawn to the window, lifting one slat in the blind with one cautious finger, determined to see what I have no desire to see. Scarlet and cinnamon entwined, oblivious to the swirl of snow that dances around them and flashes diamond-bright in the glow of the lamps that line the street.

Nothing left for me but the Morris chair and my solitary tea. Three cups reflect the shimmering firelight, mocking me. I reach for my own, accidentally knocking over the one that I set out for Shelli. It falls, its amber-green contents splashing out in a wet fan to darken the priceless Khibiri rug under the desk. The cup lies unbroken in the midst of the stain, its wide mouth turned to me in a grin.

I look at the cup. The cup looks at me. I think of you, Gil, and Shelli, somewhere together, drinking a hot, fresh cup that some stranger brought to you in a new pot with no history.

Three strokes, with my whole heart and weight behind them, and the fireplace poker makes its own sort of history with Shelli’s cup. You’ll be picking china shards out of your precious Khibiri for years to come, Gil.

Leo appears atop your desk, sure paws unsure atop the sliding stack of papers and charts and notes. After settling his haunches on a diagram of some tomb, he raises one front paw, the white-toed one, and licks it round and round to his satisfaction before raising it to polish his mysterious ‘M.’ It looks more like a salute than his usual self-absorbed bath.

Green Tea (Penultimate or “Part 6”)

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“Be sure to set a cup for yourself, Enid,” you call from the office. 

At least you’ve dropped the Miss Harris business, but I wonder if it’s made any difference. I do not want to drink tea with you and Shelli. I want to drink tea with you and Leo, savoring the sight of your hands wrapped around a delicate cup that once belonged to an emperor. I want to watch you stir your scant half teaspoon of sugar into your cup with the curious motion you use—around and slow, back and around again. I want to see you balance your saucer—Tao Ling dynasty, ninth century—on one knee, Leo on the other.

Lingering in the kitchen, wiping off the tray, finding an extra mug, smoothing the napkins. Not knowing how Shelli takes her tea, I add a sugar bowl to the set. Leo ‘plays his cello,’ which is a whimsical-but-accurate description of the position he’s assumed atop the counter, with one striped hind leg hoisted over his head. He stops grooming for a moment to regard me. No use in stalling, Leo. It’s tea time.

“Here we are—“ I begin, balancing the tray on my hands and negotiating the narrow kitchen doorway with my elbows.

You are putting on your heavy coat, Gil, I see. The cinnamon-colored wool that came from a shop on High Street in Aberdeen, after the airline lost yours. It was the only one in the place that didn’t bind your shoulders, you told me, and you thought you’d get used to the color. (Of course you got used to it; you looked striking in cinnamon and everybody told you so.)  Forget the safety of camel or tan or charcoal—but you do clash with Shelli’s crimson.

“Sorry, Enid,” you say, snuggling the collar up to the edge of your beard.  “Change of plans—couldn’t be helped.” You ease Shelli’s strawberry curls out from under the brim of her hat—scarlet felt, what else?—and smooth them with the tips of your fingers. The tea tray dips forward, wavering out of my control for a minute.

Green Tea (Part 5)

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I used it as a pitcher to water my Christmas tree, until I came to work for you, Gil. For the past few years, I haven’t spent enough time at home through the holidays to warrant a tree that needs water. You don’t keep a schedule during that time, but you have to be ready for each new year. You speak, you teach, you travel according to the master list I compile. Christmas time last year—alone here in the office, I sent you to Cairo and Alexandria for March. I re-organized the sculpture file labeled ‘Heads; Broken’ and cross-referenced it with ‘Limbs; Missing.’ I found a florist who would deliver parrot tulips to an ambassador’s daughter in Calcutta.  She, I gather, was the Shelli of Christmas Past.

The kettle hisses as the flame licks up underneath it. I don’t remember putting it on the stove, but awareness is not a prerequisite to boiling water. I lean beside the stove with my elbows on the counter. Leo jumps up to join me, rubbing his head against my chin. Leo, why is it that the men in my life—you and Gil—only need me because I have opposable thumbs? Gil finds my typing and filing and organizing to be of value to him, and you need me to operate the can opener and work the door handle that lets you come and go.

I put an inch of nearly-boiling water into the tea pot. No chipped enamel here—one of your admirers sent you a Japanese iron pot with a feathery pine needle pattern gracing its moon-shaped sides. A pot that was old when this country was new, and you call for it as casually as if it were of no value. I spoon green tea into the ceramic filter built into the pot—the Japanese have always known how to build a better product, it seems.

Tiny white jasmine flowers curl among the green leaves of the tea, shut in upon themselves until the water makes them bloom again. Out with the warming water, in with a fresh, furious boil that releases a cloud of steam. The kettle whimpers a little as I set it on a back burner. The kitchen smells green as the magic of tea begins.