Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Finding Family

Through 23andMe, I have found a branch of my family tree that I didn't know existed. 

My grandfather, Howard McConnell, is on the left, posing with his brother George in about 1904. I never knew if George had children, and it turns out that he did. He had two daughters. And now I am in touch with George's great grandson. 

My mother was an only child. Howard died when she was twelve. By then he had an artificial leg having lost one in a train accident whose details were never shared. At one point, he owned a pool hall. How was it that he married my classically-trained-pianist grandmother Ruth? Proximity, to be sure. Their families lived around the corner from each other. But I wish I could go back in time and hear the conversations they had. And I wish I could hear what the brothers had to say to each other on the day of this photo.

Mom adored her father. A daddy's girl, she undoubtedly became a different person after he died so suddenly. 

Friday, February 5, 2021

A Little Bit Alexis, in Gold

     Schitt's Creek fans, you'll remember Alexis's dress from her Little Bit Alexis dance. I realized that I have the same dress, only in gold. I almost didn't buy it, and when I got it, I no longer needed it. Here's what happened:

    I've been a member of SCBWI, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators for 14 years. I had never had a chance to go to one of the two annual national events until last year. Exactly a year ago, I flew to NYC to hang with hundreds of other children's writers, and I was psyched.

    The conference has a "gold carpet" event where they announce winners of their prestigious awards. Everyone is encouraged to wear gold. Planning ahead, I found this beauty weeks before the conference and planned to wear it as a top as it's pretty short for somebody my age. They didn't have my size, so I ordered the right size and waited. It wasn't coming in. The local store (Free People) didn't know what was taking so long. It hadn't arrived two days before I was supposed to leave. Change of plan: they would ship it to the closest store in NYC where I could pick it up. 

    Nope. That didn't happen. I got to NYC, and it didn't arrive. 

    It was waiting for me when I got back home. I've never worn it. And, of course, there aren't any glittery, gold carpet children's writing events at the moment. 

    What did I wear?? Well, here's me with my bestie, children's author and candidate for best human ever, Donna Gephart:

    La-la la-la-la-la-la. 

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Smells in the Time of Covid

In March of 2020, I lost my sense of taste. At my favorite Mexican restaurant, my tacos tasted like cardboard, and I couldn't smell anything. And why was I so tired that I wanted to crawl under the table and pass out? Those symptoms lasted only a couple of days, and at that time, it didn't occur to me that maybe I had the Covid thing.

Maybe I did; maybe I didn't. It's too late to even check to see if I still have antibodies. I've been in great health since. But I have experienced a new unknown smell.
I just read that phantom smells are a real thing. For me, it started a month or two ago. A smell like sickly sweet cherries. Not exactly like cherry-coke (a drink when I was a kid). Not like cherry medicine or cough syrup. Not like Kool-aid. Something I had never smelled before. It was the middle of the night, and the smell actually woke me up. I wondered if it was the smell of Red Bull.
Fourteen years ago, my friend Sam died at the age of 14. He drank a lot of Red Bull in his beautiful burst of a life. My first thought was that he was reaching out to say hey. So I, in turn, reached out to his parents, and we agreed that it was possible.
I've gotten a few more whiffs at random times, but they are increasingly diminished. So I guess it was just a phantom, unexplainable smell.
I bet Sam had a good laugh.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Too Much of a Necessary Thing

 Goodbye, Cactus

As tall as me,

nestled in your pot,

wheels underneath.


Remember when we

brought you to the office?

Six caregivers

to keep watch over you as we moved

like a parade of tortoises in the desert,

you wrapped in paper,

in human arms.


You must have liked

your home.

A cactus baby

emerged from your roots.


Joy each morning to say



And then,

you were alone.


Ferns and violets transferred

from the university to

home offices.


But you,

you were too big,

and you liked the light in the conference room,

and that baby cactus,

your sprout.


Almost no humans on campus

and yet

Too many people tried to help you.

Too many people tried to save you.

Too many people offered you

a drink of water,

just in case.


Too much water.


Did you develop a cough?

Were your lungs tight?

Did you have a fever

dream that you were

living outside

in a rain forest?


I have missed you

these many months apart.

With time, though, it's gotten easier.


But death,

even from a distance,

is still death.


I won’t see you again,

but I will remember that day,

when you took a stroll around

your new home.

You loved it,

and we loved you.



Thursday, November 12, 2020

My Poem THE POINT(E)? on the website Writing in a Woman's Voice

Based on what I saw in Pittsburgh near Centre Avenue and South Negley Avenue in maybe 1986. 


Thursday, October 15, 2020

Oh, Sneakers, a (sort of) Sonnet



Shall I compare thee to a flattened tire?

Thou art as lovely and temperamental.

Rough winds, roads, and gravel did shake your soles,

This summer, the dog, his leash hath dragged me.

Sometimes too hot paved alleys melted you,

And often was my complexion undimmed;

And every fair street when weather declined,

By chance or dog’s changing course, his hair untrimmed;

Oh, the eternal summer has faded you,

Such that you’ve lost possession of that fair thou ow’st,

And shall bring death and rebirth in recycling,

When in eternal lines to new products thou grow’st.

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,

No longer live these stinky, filthy sneakers that gave life to me

(because walking my grand-dog wearing these sneakers was my only form of aerobic exercise for the last six months).



Tuesday, September 22, 2020