Okra Wisdom

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I’m very picky about my okra. So when my daughter tells me to keep what I touch at the Farmer’s Market, I tell her she’s crazy. I will stay picky. The only way to know okra’s good is to touch. Some big ones have the velvety feel of tender youth. Some small ones are hard and almost prickly on the fingers. They are okay in soup or gumbo. But not dipped in batter and fried in the wok.

People look, pull up masks, move. I know, virus. But nobody eats okra raw.

College educated daughter. They don’t teach cooking there.

Barbie’s Dream House

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Barbie is pacing the beach, contemplating a lawsuit against Mattel. It’s hurricane season. The Dream House needs repair and Ken has never been good with tools. Money is tight, so they can’t hire anyone. So unfair. Products really should get pensions.

Barbie’s attention span has never been great. The sight of an oystercatcher on the beach reminds her she wanted to find Ken an oyster drill for Father’s Day. Sifting through a pile of shells, she spots something. Science Barbie knows the name. Wentle trap. Using an oyster to drill seems impractical. Can wentles be trapped? Now she can’t decide.

Adulting

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Since the virus started, Lolly made her own decisions. Even hard ones, like, could she go across the street for a physically distant chat with her best friend, whom she’d known since first grade. Tempting fate, maybe.

Her parents worked at the hospital. They self quarantined. She missed seeing them and arguing about the silly things that had seemed important three months ago.

She said, “I love you.” Made omelets and sausage plated with sprigs of parsley which everyone ate alone. So grown up. So post high school. So very responsible and thinking about others more often now. Real adulting.

Magical Thinking

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“Drying up. Inspiration drying up. You bury ideas.” A creature not much taller than a toadstool, warty and fobbish…

Gnawing a pencil, I looked and saw a gnome pointing to a well-thumbed dictionary. “Warty I’ll give you, but fobbish. Nae a proper word.”

“Sorry. Am I awake?” I rubbed my eyes and erased fobbish. “So what’s this about?”

Fob settled himself on a nightstand saucer. “What with worry-warting about now, we miss what else. Poets can’t poem. Mathematicians can’t math. Reality can’t real. Every day like the last.”

“I thought it was me.”

“No, us. Together, we grieve it all.”

The Staff of Life

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After a harrowing journey over steep gravel roads, after morning meditation sessions and before soaking in natural hot springs, you devoured Tassajara bread for breakfast. The cookbook made its way to your kitchen, instructing you in the art of turning gloppy sponge into sweet wheat loaves. Mmm… scrumptious with butter, jam and dark roast coffee.

It’s been a long journey enriched by frequent meanderings and yeasty experiences. Learning that satisfaction lies in a perfect translucent stretch of the dough that proves the kneading is done. Bread has secrets. It takes time. Like a good friend, bread must be patiently tended

Remind Him to Laugh

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Dash had slept with countless women. His old friend, Anne, called it trying to prove something. He became himself with Grayson. They’d been together forever.

Their big empty house had a “For Sale” sign in the front. Not for long. San Francisco real estate moves fast and Dash was motivated. Dash’s retirement party was tomorrow. Anne would call him “queen” at the airport. She was the only one left who could. She’d help him grieve, find another life. Sell the house, tie up loose ends, deliver him to the ashram to reinvent himself. Most important, she’d make him laugh.

……..

Find “The Vow” which features Dash, Anne and Grayson at https://www.paloaltoonline.com/short_story/short_story_33/adult2.php

The story took second place in the 2019 Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest.

Grow a Mind

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“They grow around here.”

“You identify mushrooms?”

“Yeah.”

Markus had read something about depression and psychedelics. He was depressed. Still, I couldn’t imagine him taking psilocybin. A guy who drives a truck with a gun rack and operates power tools for a living doesn’t seem like the right demographic. I said I’d watch. I had my notebook ready. I could write something. The ravings of a man high on drugs would do. 

He was quiet, calmer then I’d ever seen him. He opened a sketch pad and started painting with water colors. I wished I’d joined him when he offered.

There’s an App for That

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Tunnel Vision for a relaxed viewing experience. It’s an app. Easily available for download from the not-evil-less-good purveyor of such things. Said app is guaranteed to shield your eyes from unwanted images of, among other perfidities: measles, ecoli, drought, floods, and politically apocalyptic weather conditions. Also: locusts, wildfires, and plagues of hailstorms as revealed in Revelations.

We never saw it coming and, once we did, we took it as God’s will. Surely the End Times. Most definitely nothing to do but pray. Pray or prey on. Better not to look. They say death by freezing is rather like falling asleep. 

L’Chiam

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Snow symbolizes death. Check out twentieth century fiction. I’m living in twenty-first century America, looking out the window at snow in June. Banks of it cover the summer ground. Carbon flecked flakes fall from the sky. Opening the door of my isolated cabin, where it’s safe to stay for now, I look out on the garden. Poles push out of the white landscape. They have labels: potatoes, carrots, turnips. Shriveled apples hang from a tree. Inside the house, basil and thyme grow fragrant, adding their flavors to the root vegetable stews that make up my post climate change diet. L’chiam.

Stormy Weather

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The Pineapple Express thundered in last night, dark, weighty, pouring rain into soggy ground late into summer. In the morning, you pull on yellow boots, a raincoat, grab an umbrella, and step outside. Splashing through small puddles, avoiding big ones, your legs pump, hoping to reach the station between outbursts.

A lush jungle, California’s changed. Waiting at a light, feeling the air blow warm through your hair, you remember the cool contrast of Midwest rainstorms and muggy summer days. You think California could get used to April showers in August. You know the climate is evolving. Here comes the train.