Author Archives: deemallon

Another haunting

Synchronicity is a gateway to faith and if not faith, then at least to the recognition that the world is more mysterious than we know, and isn’t that recognition a lot like faith?

Synchronicity can show up as a haunting or a miracle. Sometimes it’s funny. It’s always worthy of attention.

I’ve had three synchronous moments lately — one a haunting, one a sly joke, and one a gracious note from the dead (which of course is not the same as a haunting).

Today, I’ll relate the haunting. It’s about my sister. Of course it’s about my sister.

For our holiday meal, rather than clean up a half-finished jigsaw puzzle, we brought in a small oak table from the garage. This table has history. It was where my family sat and ate dinner for years — on Glen Terrace, Cypress Drive, Glory Drive, and Whitman Road. After my mother remarried, she brought it south with her to Lighthouse Point and then back north to Essex.

In the early years, my parents occupied either end. Sometimes the table was up against a wall, sometimes centered in a dining space. Either way, my sister sat on one of the long sides while my brother and I occupied the side opposite. I think it was probably this seating arrangement that inspired Noreen to learn how to pinch with her toes. Don’t laugh! She could really inflict some pain.

It’s also where my father used humor to drive home the difference between can I and may I. If you were to say, for instance, can I have the ketchup, he’d deadpan with yes you can or I don’t know, can you, and keep eating. He managed to make it funny. And we learned.

After my mother died, the table went to my sister. When my sister died, it came to me.

I didn’t think I was sentimental about the table until I was scraping off mold and cleaning the disgusting, nearly black gunk from between its center seams. Both gross. To look at the burns and stains scattered on its surface was to see my sister’s dysfunction made plain. Again. I found myself wondering what, exactly, prevented her from performing the simple tasks that make up a life. Was it so hard to wipe the table clean once in a while or slip a plate under a plant? For her, yes it was too much.

Or was it? Maybe it was just what she told herself. With Noreen it was impossible to tell and in the end, I realized it didn’t matter. The result was the same. A disordered life. A stained, ruined table.

Anyway, I managed to get a sliver. The sliver was almost impossible to see and took a magnifying glass and some real wrangling to remove. There were moments I thought I imagined it. This is when I said, Hello Noreen. The sliver might’ve been a bristle from a toothbrush I used to clean the tarry seams or it might’ve been a piece of the table itself.

Either way, my pinky got infected. It hurt. It turned bright red. For days, even after the splinter was out, I had to apply hot compresses, soak it in salty water and hydrogen peroxide and once, use a sterilized pin to poke out a blob of puss.

Not to belabor the point, but this is a pretty apt metaphor for being in relationship with my sister. Working hard to clean up one of her messes, a job I never signed up for, by the way, only to get shafted. Having to deal with the emotional wreckage after a visit for days. And even that hallucinatory quality — is this real or am I making it up — speaks to how convincing she could be with her narratives of blame. Maybe I was, in fact, a complete shit. Maybe I wickedly shortchanged her.

That inner dialogue occurred even as I knew that nothing was ever gonna be enough for my sister and even though I knew that withholding was a critical form of self-protection. She was forceful. She pinched me under the table with her toes.

So that’s the haunting. I’ll save the other two incidents for the next post. This is long enough.

By the way, in my sister’s papers I found reports from elementary school. Elementary school! One was a report about Alaska, another about bats. Around Halloween this year, I made a spooky paper collage and then digitally double-exposed it with the cover of her bat report. That’s one version, above. Another version, sans bats, is below.

A quick post about Post

I’m thrilled to discover that POST, the new “twitter substitute,” is clean, intuitive, and easy to use. You can easily find and follow folks (unlike on Mastodon). They are committed to civility. #Twittermigration is underway!

As long as enough Black people find their way over, it’ll be a fine replacement.

It’s still in beta, so it’s glitchy. But better to bear glitches than fuckwad Musk’s sophomoric exchanges and his wanton, dangerous re-admission of haters, right?

It gives me hope.

You have to be admitted from a waiting list, so if you’re interested you want to get on that list ASAP.

PS I tried Mastodon and found it clunky.

Dog, collage, and cream biscuits

Someone looking guilty
Someone looking on with avid interest
Someone ready to go outside after licking the cutting board
PCC collage made when I couldn’t sleep last night
The prompt this week is the woman’s face

Hope my American friends had a tasty and relaxing day! We were four and it was really nice. I learned you can always make something else (oh? Bourbon-laced sweet potatoes? Why not! Cream biscuits? Sure!), thereby turning a meal for four into something more like dinner for nine.

I had a chance to test the Hockey Puck Biscuit Theory.

Previously, I have been embarrassed and annoyed that any time I tried to make cream biscuits for a holiday meal, they were epic fails. Hockey puck biscuits. While my more private baking adventures are not uniformly good, I often manage to produce tasty and flaky biscuits.

Until yesterday, I figured the tension and pressure of putting out a dinner for a crowd foiled my efforts. But yesterday, we were four. There goes my theory.

So what, then? A post-turkey oven is not hospitable? Sitting on a cookie tray for three hours jinxes the dough? Anyone? Maybe the cut dough needs to be refrigerated until oven-time.

I mean look at that thing! It’s practically two-dimensional.

Everything else was good, I’m happy to report including the cookies (talk about going overboard. I’d already made a pumpkin cheesecake).

It’s cold. It may or may not be raining. If not, it will be raining soon.

Lastly, I came upon two share-worthy creators this morning. The poem by Bernadette Mayer (below) offers a master class in the use of repetition and captures my mood of late. The collage artist, a 75-year-old woman living on one of the barrier islands along the South Carolina coast, takes my breath away. Some of her pieces are huge. Aldwyth.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/49736/failures-in-infinitives

Pix of trial and error

First semi-successful gelli plate magazine transfer
Magazine page after failed transfer

A fourth Amherst Writers’ circle today. Zero meetings next week. Change of rhythm. Special counsel appointed. Dingdong’s hat in the ring. Dogs walks while wearing hat and gloves. Twitter sputtering, me grieving. Reading a great memoir. Watching Derry Girls. Gave up on 1899. Pretty low energy here – sorry! Black bean soup last night. Tonight a roast chicken. Planning a pumpkin cheesecake. Extreme gratitude for a new beta reader. One hundred pages in. Good questions. Back hurts but it’s time to rise and shine!