I felt my mother’s touch as I opened a donation request letter from the food bank. Unknown to her, there were nights I, on the top bunk, eavesdropping … peeking into her late at night…the children are asleep (so she thought) conversations. When the lights were just right, I listened in to those adult-only conversations by watching the mirrored images…the refrigerator’s reflections of her hands dancing in the air.

“No! No you cannot use my children’s money!  It is for them!”  Children’s money, Social Security survivor benefits for her three oldest children … entrusted to her to protect in order to stretch around a family’s budget.   

Children’s hands crumbling soda crackers into bowls of soup, evenly divided.  Crackers stretching a can of soup to feed lunch for six. Oatmeal, in place of bread crumbs, added to the meatloaf mix; later to be served with canned corn, a filler, on the side.   

Oh how I resisted those government food programs. Pitchers of milk that had been expanded with clumps of powered milk mixed with water. Dinners of sliced and fried Spam with scrambled eggs or French toast made with powered eggs whisked into the egg batter. Syrup made with brown sugar and water. Peanut butter with a thick layer of peanut oil … shiny oil to cut through with a knife before spreading on a slice of homemade bread.

“But why not?”  I once pleaded to fingers that snapped, “No!  Kellogg Corn Flakes and Shredded Wheat are enough!  We cannot afford sugared cereals!”  Cold non-sugared cereals, lumpy watered down milk, and a vague memory of a summer I waited for that shetland pony I had won. Still waiting…

A determined stance. Eyes that said, “No I will not bend.” Firm hands saying, “One capful of dish soap is enough to wash the dinner dishes.” 

Homemade quilts … heavy quilts … made of haphazard geometric shapes of cloth.  Materials saved from scraps of cloth from previous sewing projects, various kinds of fabrics only found in a Saturday rummage sale, shame-filled church donations, and mended hand-me-down children’s clothes, worn and tattered…transformed into … never seen before in all of history…unique quilts.  

Asking for money for a candy bar or a soda pop to buy during a school outing would result in being sent to the kitchen to make no-bake chocolate oak cookies? Once again, “good enough.”

Yet, behind all those times is that one singular moment … she and I standing on the sidewalk in front of a second hand store.  With a quarter in her hand and eyes of regret intermixed with sadness, “I could not find a swimming suit for you. I have only this quarter.”  

No memory of that sense-felt longing for a swimsuit. Her eyes…emerald green eyes … validating and embracing … those eyes…those parent eyes that only a child can hear.

Today my mother came to visit within an unexpected memory…long forgotten…time faded.

my mother came to visit

As if in a movie theatre, I silently watched as she cover her Crown Braids with a triangle-folded scarf.

She then covered a straw broom with a frayed-gray rag…held in place with two baby diaper safety pins. One with a yellow tip, the other blue.

Then a remembered sigh as she turned the broom upside down and began to slowly sweep the ceiling with special attention to living room corners. “Hidden spider webs,” she mumbled.

Spring cleaning had begun…

#2 josef sudek study…Nikon D750 f/5 0.2s 70mm 200 ISO

Czech photographer, Josef Sudek (1896-1976), known as the ‘Poet of Prague’, was drawn to desolate landscapes, simple, solitary objects and the quiet, unpopulated street scenes of Prague, a city to which he dedicated his whole life. He was the first photographer to be honoured by the Republic with the title of ‘Artist of Merit’ and in his 70th year, his life’s work was recognised by the ‘Order of Labour’. (cited: Huxley-Parlour Gallery)

Travel with Intent’s Six Word Saturday

a josef sudek study…Nikon D750 f/5 0.2s 70mm 200 ISO

Czech photographer Josef Sudek (1896-1976), known as the ‘Poet of Prague’, was drawn to desolate landscapes, simple, solitary objects and the quiet, unpopulated street scenes of Prague, a city to which he dedicated his whole life. He was the first photographer to be honoured by the Republic with the title of ‘Artist of Merit’ and in his 70th year, his life’s work was recognised by the ‘Order of Labour’. (cited: Huxley-Parlour Gallery)

Travel with Intent’s Six Word Saturday

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,

“it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,

“it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,

“it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the winter of despair,

“we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,

“we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way

“– in short, the period was so far like the present period,

“that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received,

“for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” ~Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.

Quote from Charles Dickens’, A Tale of Two Cities, and images submitted in response to Travels and Trifles first photo challenge for 2021.

amid dewdrops

of this dewdrop world

a shoe lost

it’s a dewdrop world

surely it is…

yes…but

~Issa (cited: haikuguy.com)

trailed of clouds

the layered memories

of time forever gone

stands between us now

within dewdrops of autumn

Initially posted on October 9, 2019

The cherry petals gone,
There is no special color to my thoughts,
Yet as I gaze,
From the vacant sky there falls
The quiet sadness of spring rain.

–Princess Shikishi (Miner, Introduction to Japanese Court Poetry)

Leica f/4 1/1600 146mm 800 ISO