Tag Archives: parents

The Changling

I might have walked too close

Or passed within the shadow

Of the nursery hidden in the trees

For I quickly felt the parent’s rebuke

A pierce and pluck of hair 

A painful scold above me

Intuitive and mindlessly brave


I faced my aggressor

In whose amber eyes

Glittered precision and suspicion

Diminutive and vicious dominion

With anger lurking in its blood

DNA waiting to surface

Into the new and pastel colored season


Then after a perched debate

And avian consideration

It vanished with invisible decision

And like handwriting that had come to life

But with no pen for guidance

My hair arched and curled in its grip

Destined for a bed built out of shadow and green


And throughout the day my head throbbed

Victim to such tiny fury

That rang through the air pealing surprise

But at night though my windows were closed

I heard soft flutters

The gentle murmurings of flight

And the soft crush of feathers across my cheek



The Girl’s Pearl Earring

I have always had an affinity for pearls.  It could be because the pearl is my birthstone.  Or because I once read that it symbolized “tears of joy and sorrow”:  its split personality struck me as both tragic and evocative.  Perhaps it is its silky richness – its delicate decadence.  Or just maybe it is the pearl’s origins – in the belly of an oyster, rooted in its bed far beneath the sea.

Jan Vermeer’s “Girl With A Pearl Earring” sounds like such a humble thing; yet it is a miracle of color and light. There are no lines in the painting, no harsh borders:  only subtle frontiers that are seen by the mind as much as they are by the eye.  The juxtaposition of texture and shadow is as imperceptible as the descending twilight that softens yet changes the landscape.  The touch that molded her face is as ethereal as gossamer.









Vermeer painted with light as if it stood in waiting pools on his palette; it is the defining grace of the portrait.  It stretches in blue valleys across the girl’s turban.  It glows like a melted star from her lower lip.  It warms her moon-like face in a hushed, radiant patina.  But most of all, it is the creating force; the central, incandescent life of her pearl earring.

The singular bauble hangs like a dainty planet, stolen from its galaxy and forced to glow in metallic glory by itself.  Softly oval, the pearl’s gentle curves nestle against the acquiescent shadows of the girl’s neck.  Within it is a world of elusive prisms:  silver, brown, gold, lavender, blue.  The colors are stirred together to create an object as warm as an alchemist’s elixir yet cool enough to calm the rich flesh of a young girl.

The girl’s earring must have weighed heavily from her ear – as if it were trying to get her attention.  If she listened, what would she hear?  The painful throbbing of the steel hook that had inelegantly punctured her earlobe – the tincture of rust that now ran through her blood?  Or perhaps she heard something else.  Perhaps she heard the sound of her treasure’s parents: childless, buried at sea and softly crying.

The Mother Lode

I choose this name for my Mother's Day post because with my mother I have indeed struck it rich, receiving a wealth of love and happiness I honestly don't think I deserve, and which I'm sure I stumbled upon out of sheer stupid, blind, dumb, birthing luck.

I knew this when I was eight:

And I know it now.  I always will.

And to honor the gratitude I feel for my mother, I would like to present a Mothering history, starting at the beginning, when she was curly-haired and chubby (and apparently easily hypnotized) in Stelton, New Jersey:

As a young woman, the world of music pulled like a magnet, inspiring her to study her craft and to learn – in several punishing courses – how to play the maracas: 

In early married life, she chose to lay down the maracas – I tried to continue the tradition, but was never able to master their complexity – to pick up the instruments of the housewife:

Every Christmas she received her pay via a richly endowed Money Tree:

The proceeds of which went towards numerous expensive trips to Las Vegas.  Mother actually knew several key people at Ceasar's Palace personally:

And now, having raised a rather marvelous family, she remains as beautiful, as mad, as clever, as funny as ever:

I love you, mom.  Happy Mother's Day.

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Reaching The Beaks Of Perfection

As promised I bring to you Proof Of Birth, and I couldn't be more pleased.

On Saturday, I took photos of Ms. Dove with one visible chick, and I'll admit that I was concerned.  Mourning Doves will usually produce two babies, and I didn't like to think that one didn't make it.  But it's a nice picture; mother as usual is immovable, the child nestled still and close.

I felt terrible bothering them and all – I had to use a flash, too – but an opportunity like this couldn't be passed up:

On Sunday morning, we took another look.  And calloo callay, there were two this day!

Now this photo is a bit hard to make out – take a close look, and on the left hand side you'll see a chickie facing you and on the right you will just make out the folded wings and the tail-io of the other chick.  Two squabs – the Doves' perfect nuclear family:

Whatever their avian thought-processes might be, it's very possible that they could be wondering why they have suddenly become conscious in such a bristle-y, elevated place.  Or maybe they're just wondering where the large, warm, feathery Mothership has gone.

With the parents gone for a Sunday brunch we thought it was the perfect opportunity to get in close for some more pictures.  But boyfriend thought it would be even more of a ripping idea if I were to stand on a ladder for a truly sublime point of view.  I said that surely this was too intrusive, but he was already on his way to the garage.

OK.  So I'm perched – oh Aubrey, you kill us – on this ladder, angling my digital camera for the best range when suddenly we hear a rustling of wings, and some…aggressive cooing.  Doves don't squawk or hiss or anything strident.  'Coo' is the limit to their vocabulary.

We heard the rattling of tiny feet on cement (roof), metal (landing) and wood (stairs).  They were, to the best of their dove-like abilities, trying to raise a racket to divert our attention from their momentarily abandoned babies.

We think that in a week or two the kids will be starting their adventures outside the nest.  Lots of fluttering, stumbling, falling, lurching into closed windows, somehow getting through partially opened doors…yes, a deliriously exciting time.  

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Yes.  That familiar mantra of childhood.  Flung into the face of a non-comprehending parent whom, if only the spawn realized, was being equally misunderstood.

Anyway – who hasn't heard this?  Or been inflicted by it?  An iconic exclamation spat out, with the final letter extended like a length of measuring tape:  to be drawn out as far as the situation dictated.

But 100 years ago – were children equally exasperated?  Were they as quick to express their disappointment in their parents?  I believe that the answers are yes and no.  Children get angry with their parents – it's in their DNA.  But away then no child would dare raise their voice…I suspect that more than one family had a nanny with forearms like especially meaty Honey Baked Hams.

So how did they speak loudly?

In my opinion, the eyes have it.  I give you Exhibit #1:


Written on the back:  "Cyril as 'Knave of Hearts' 1904"  Look at that blank, furious stare.  Look at that cocked elbow, the body leaning on the left leg:  trying to eke out whatever dignity that can be found in a highly embarrassing pose. Look at the playing card tacked onto his kicky, no doubt bright red beret.  And that – oh dear – heart dangling from his belt.   When Ralphie so unwillingly walked downstairs one Christmas morning in his pink bunny suit from Aunt Clara, don't you think Cyril was looking down…in sympathy or maybe even in vindictive glee?

Which leads us to Exhibit #2. (forgive the fuzzy quality – an older photo; lesser quality)  Do you think this child's 19th century mother asked her pretty daughter to cross her legs AT THE KNEE and pull up her little coat to expose a very prettily turned out calf – just as the photo was snapped?  Our Alice-era model is staring boldly with her dark eyes, daring mother to come between her and the camera, the better to shield the viewing public from her black-stockinged legs.

Now, I collect lots of vintage postcards and photos – but I never was interested in images of children:  except for these two.  It's very rare for an older photo to express the sitter's opinion so straightly and honestly. 

I love these two hooligans.  I wish I knew what became of them

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Equal Time: Mum’s The Word

Actually, the word was a comment:  "Why aren't I in your blog?"



Mom demanded equal time, and, well, we're here to hand it over.  I had plenty of photographs to choose from – and all of them I liked – however her judgement calls varied from, "Not the one with the black brassiere!" to "Not the one where my teeth look like a horse's!"

So, as this is not the place for brassieres and horses – though possibly of horses wearing brassieres – I bring you, stage right, a portrait of my mother taken by her best friend, and judging by the hairstyle and the wallpaper pattern, dating from the early '60's.  And the first person who inquires which century gets black-balled from Vox.  I can do it, too.


Next, if we look out the left window, we see a family portrait.  It's a favorite, because not only does Mom look handsome, but she is wearing a FIERCE black and white checked top with a portrait collar.  Love it.  Balanced on her lap is the young Aubrey, little knowing that she will grow up into the famous oddity which types this entry today.

One note – notice the lollipops I'm reaching for?  They're significant.  The only way I would let my picture be taken would be if I was given candy as payment.  It was a sweet racket I had going on.  The way some people demand blood money, I demanded blood sugar money.

Anyway, we're equal now.  All serene.

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