Sunday, February 22, 2009

Penny Report

The green indoor-outdoor apartment stair carpet is not always trip-free after a weekend of visitors. This weekend it was an impromptu charm bracelet or a Miro or a Klee all the way down three flights and out the door. A pinata had broken somewhere, it's happy owner not knowing that all the way out, small plastic trinkets mixed with crepe paper and candy were trailing through, and into the snow. Near this living, charming snow painting lay a penny--maybe gravity had also had its way on the pinata's cashola. So that was one wet penny.

The penny before this one sat by the molding under the Goodwill counter. Gave it to the cashier.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Quote from CREDO by William Sloane Coffin:
"Clearly the trick in life is to die young as late as possible."

Really great writing by Rick Bragg:
All Over But the Shoutin'
Ava's Man

Monday, February 16, 2009


About one-fourth of the way down County Road 900 South to Slater's Market, with baby Eli frontpacked, Emma and Molly in the double stroller nibbling graham crackers, and Jesse walking, making longstemmed grasses whistle, we'd pass the Kissing Tree. It was really two parallel trees that barely touched, except slightly, at two large branch cuts that had healed into facing, well, "kissing" doughnuts. Then someone of us would always exclaim, "There's the Kissing Tree!"

It was beyond old Mr. and Mrs. Hossler's place where Ruby tended the neatly arranged, large garden, with some of the tallest, prettiest flowers we'd ever seen. He, "Pardon my French" Ed--he said that a lot because he'd slip most every conversation and say something he really meant to not say, was rarely seen driving his truck. They say he'd started drinking years ago when they lost their beautiful little five-year-old daughter. It wasn't a disease. She just fell out of the truck's open door as the then-young Mr. Hossler was driving up State Road 14. The Kissing Tree helped us forget about that awful sadness.

Seventeen years later, it is so grown together and intertwined that it's hard to distinguish which branches belong to which tree. You can still see the kissing part.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Overheard and Spumoni

I used to listen for hours to the Sunday afternoon/evening discussions of L. Grampa (Papa/Paul), my Omi and Opi (Rose and Otto Wilde), Opi's twin brother Onkel Willie (William Wilde), his wife Tante Vickie (Victoria), their brother Onkel Emil (Emil Wilde) and his wife Tante Lieschen (Liesel) at Onkel Emil's dining room table, while drawing or coloring in the front room. I'd listen to L. Grampa and his closest friend Onkel Herbert toss around ideas till all hours of the night in the living room of our house on Brohl Street. I'd fall asleep on the floor of my bedroom, listening from under the door to L. Grampa and Uncle Wilmer, or this other friend of his--a brilliant mathemetician, in the kitchen of our house on Susilane.

L. Grandma always hung around with Tante Lieschen and our favorite great-aunt, Tante Frieda (Wilde) Dressel, when we were at Onkel Emil's or at Tante Frieda's house in Detroit. Onkel Alfred Dressel, her husband, was gruff, and smoked cigars downstairs while the rest of us would stick around the dining room and kitchen for the great food, cookies, and table games. There were always fresh flowers on the table. When Onkel Albert would come upstairs, turn on the TV, and watch a ball game, he rarely talked. He always kissed us goodbye, though. His breath smelled like Sen-Sens, and I think he let us help ourselves to the tiny licorice squares when we were there. We could smell the Italian confectionary on the corner from her house, and Tante Frieda (her name means "peace") sometimes gave us money to go get some pistachio, black cherry, vanilla spumoni--a child's fantasy request. Mmm . . . Alinosi's.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Pennies from Heaven

Cracked blacktop, dirty, gritty ones,
From muddy gutter water ones,
Surprising, under sidewalk shoes
Seen but left, for whom to choose.
Sunny, windswept, sanded ones,
Streetlight neon-flashing ones,
Coppershiny ones in pairs,
Paired with quarters on the stairs.
Mostly next are tiny dimes,
Found in moonlight's guiding ray.
Then, at least expected times,
A lonely dollar greens the day.
Oh! The grateful thanks in taking,
Ah! Love's hopes are not forsaken.