12252018 haiku

For Pat’s hosting Tuesday Platform on Real Toads. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL

pale blue winter sky –
solstice sun blazes its last –
lonely crow caws

KFC and Christmas Stars

#Haikai Challenge #13 (12/23/17): Christmas #haiku #senryu #haibun #tanka #haiga #renga For Frank Tassone’s haiku challenge – Christmas is the kigo.

KFC and Christmas Stars

Our first Christmas together we spent in your home of Hakone. I was transfixed by the beauty of where you grew up with Mt. Komagatake as a backdrop to Mt. Fuji and the lapping clarity of Lake Ashi. To my vast amusement, I discovered Colonel Sanders was Father Christmas’ main man and that Christmas dinners were KFC – the commercials on TV with Japanese “Victorian” skaters and builders of snow men, green wreaths, reindeer – I watched hypnotized and wanting to laugh aloud at the incongruous but cheerful visions dancing outside of my head, but I didn’t want to be insulting. It was a great relief to see your full lips twisted in a wry grin and your eyes sparkling with impish delight. “I’ll have to use some connections”, you said, “it is too late to order now. Most people would have ordered their dinners by the end of October.” Yes, KFC is a big deal dinner! Specially decorated buckets, meals with elaborate cakes and bottles of wine or sake – and when we went to pick up our dinner on Christmas eve, we stood in line for an hour waiting our turn.

Families and groups of single friends happy and laughing, anticipating. Inside the KFC – a bar with red and green flashing lights and a bartender in a Santa cap! A lifesize Colonel Sanders figure with a Santa cap and a wreath of silk holly around his neck! I stood gaping at the tables of families digging into the buckets pulling out special plates with the date and under that, layers of chicken, cole slaw, tossed salad, mashed potatoes, Christmas cake, bottle of sake – like an endless treasure box. I hadn’t had that sense of delight since the first time I walked into Studio 54. It was just as surreal too.

We snagged our bucket and walked home in the crisp evening. In heavy coats we sat in your garden and wolfed our way through the chicken – you going for the dark meat, me going for the light. And it tasted exactly the same! We passed the bottle of surprisingly good sake between the two of us as we ate. Totally sated with food and wine, we lay in the gravel of your karesansui and made “snow” angels, laughing at each other, our laughter carrying through the clear mountain air. I lay there looking up into the stars twinkling over Japan. You leaned over to touch my face and then kissed me, both of our faces greasy and salty. “Come and look at the city stars, beloved.” You pulled me up and we walked to the edge of your property looking down over the city. I was silenced by the beauty of the lights below me – the colors, the shapes, glittering like a huge gaudy brooch for earth. And then I looked back up at the night sky, Mt. Fuji in the distance blocking out a space of black. I fell in love with stars, yet again. Several meteors streaked to earth – I wept for such beauty that would never again be seen, in that same way.

flaming stars outshine
earthly stars and fall from
the sky – meteor snow

public domain image

 

Sunday Morning 10:00 a.m.

orange wreath

Sunday Morning 10:00 a.m. (pray for peace)

Fir trees on display – Christmas is coming!
Mother with two little ones
Walking in wonder in this temporary forest
Smell of fir in the cold air
Green rich incense –
The little ones become impatient
And can’t comprehend the calm
The mother is enjoying walking
Among trees and touching them
All with love.
She takes a small orange out from her pack
And peels and shares among the two
Whiney kids – smiles ensue as
They bite into the treat – they eat
As she walks and finally decides on the one
That best makes her soul smile.
Smell of orange and fir –
I breathe in the smells and the cool
Breeze makes me glad I walked over
To look at the trees.
I look at the little sticky smiley faces,
The peaceful look on the face of the mother,
I deeply inhale the fir and the orange
And pray for the breeze to circle the earth –
To replace sadness with smiles,
To silence the sound of guns with
The sound of laughter,
To replace the smells of blood and death
With the innocent smells of oranges
And fir trees.
Please I pray to the breeze, please.
Let there be peace on earth.

 

I am posting this for Poetry Pantry at Poets United. Please come visit and read all the wonderful poems by talented people from all over the world.  http://poetryblogroll.blogspot.com/2015/11/poetry-pantry-279_22.html

Smell of Home – haibun

free stock illustration

 

“He was conscious of a thousand odours floating in the air, each one connected with a thousand thoughts, and hopes, and joys, and cares, long, long, forgotten.” Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Christmas baking fills
the house with smells of love – stars
look down and make a wish.

Somehow, the tasteful artificial wreath decorated with shiny red and gold balls irked me. My mother-in-law had bought it at an outlet in Williamsburg to replace the small pine swag on our front door. The bright red bow tying it together was a little crooked. She disapproved of that as well. She missed her husband who had died shortly before Christmas of last year. I sympathized but as soon as she left, I fished out my pine swag from the trash and replaced the tasteful one, perfectly hung, on our front door with my clumsy one. We never used artificial things for Christmas when I was growing up. Until I moved to Philadelphia, every year, my father and I went into the woods and searched out the perfect tree and cut swags of pine, cedar, spruce. We knew where the holly with the thickest amount of red berries lived and had spotted the oaks with mistletoe in several oaks the week before. We both had our rifles slung on our backs. It was a contest as to who could shoot down the biggest bunch of mistletoe. We took turns letting the other win. And then to home. My grandmother and aunts had punched oranges full of holes and inserted whole cloves tying red ribbons around each. My mother put the swags of greens together for garlands, wreaths and swags which we hung inside and outside the house. The oranges were hung on the green decorations and the house smelled of the greenery, oranges, and spice.

We each baked our specialty– spicy hermit cookies, snickerdoodles, pecan snowballs, sweet potato pies, Kentucky bourbon cakes, fudge – for a week the house smelled of spices, sugar, bourbon, and fruit. I won the family award for best sweet potato pie – it’s a secret recipe – wink. One year, my teenaged middle aunt wanted Shalimar for Christmas. Somehow, the box with the exotically shaped bottle broke and Shalimar whispered its sweet tale to us all until the New Year. She used some of her Christmas gift money to buy it herself.

Ever since my father, grandfather, and grandmother died, it has not been the same. Walking through years of artificial trees, plastic baubles, white tree lights, and pine scented candles, the year I had been hospitalized for surgery and treatment for cancer I decided enough was enough. I pulled out the ancient fragile blown glass balls, the strings of brightly colored lights, My First Christmas ornament. A friend came and decorated the live tree she had picked out for me because I had asked her and I lay upon the couch for frequent rests. She helped me bake the sweet potato pies and Bourbon cake. That day, for the first time in years, my house smelled of the Christmases I remembered with tears and love. My husband laughed when he came home from work, the last day before the office closed for Christmas.

I sat on the couch that night with only the tree lights glowing. The ghosts of Christmas past were there – my father opening his joke box of chocolate covered cherries, my grandmother laughing as she clapped her hands in joy when someone opened the gift she had given them, my mother and aunts making jokes and then singing together carols –  they are alive but absent but still they came to join in. All the cats and dogs that had loved us lay about sleepy and content, filled with turkey bits sneakingly given to them, as I lay there and remembered, tears slipping down my cheeks. After that Christmas eight years ago, Christmas is happy and not a bit tasteful and perfect. My husband smiles a lot and takes in deep breaths and raids the cookie jar.  In a couple of weeks my home will be filled with those perfumed memories and gentle spirits.  The tasteful wreath has gone to a nearby church that is providing decorations to people who are in need of them. And while the elements of Christmas are here, oh how I miss those people I love. Of all the things so dear, my beloved family I miss the most.

fresh green cedar wreath
hung with oranges – sweet smelling
past whispers in dreams 

orange wreath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday at d’Verse Poets Pub, at the beginning of this holiday season, Mary is prompting us to write about what we miss during this time.  Come and visit and share.  What do you miss?  http://dversepoets.com/2015/11/17/poetics-who-what-do-you-miss/

 

er, Thank you – I think or, The Odd Christmas Gift

My husband and I had a very quiet Christmas.  For various reasons, money was beyond tight and so, our Holiday Budget was next to null sum.

My husband had two gifts for me.  The first was expected and asked for:  a new cutting board.  The second gift was a surprise – in more ways than one.  I pulled from the happy Christmas bag a bottle of….Poopourri.  Yes, really.

I’m still trying to figure out the why of this gift.  Of course, it is obvious but, but….I looked at him in puzzlement.  It is a natural solution for a natural process and byproduct.  But…but….why now?  He just grinned like the demented elf of  a man he can sometimes be, totally pleased with himself and his gift choice.

And then last night, he asks me, does it work?  Again I give him the “Really?” look mixed up with puzzlement, mild dismay, and a frown.  “I don’t know, does it?”  And to top it all off, it came with a small travel bottle so if I am at someone’s house, I can go and no one will know!  Wow. Oh wow wow wow.

I am not endorsing this product but the commercials shown on YouTube are a hoot and well, yes it does work.  So to my husband, Thank you – I think.  And you’re welcome to use it anytime.

 

 

Peace, Joy, Love….yes Virginia, they do exist

With all going on in the world today, it is so easy to lose hope, to forget there is more to life than bad news, mayhem, evil…

But Love was born many years ago night in Bethlehem. I’m not here to debate your theological questions or comments, I am here simply to share my hope, my love, my peace. It all has to begin inside of us. And once those seeds are planted, they need to be nurtured, to be harvested, to be share. TO. BE. SHARED.

So regardless of what you do or do not believe, at least believe that these things still exist and if they only exist in the heart of one person, they still exist. That light will never be extinguished.

So…Joy to you my Blogosphere Family. Peace be unto you. Love I share with you.

Merry Christmas. Blessings to you all. And please, after you hug those blessings close to you, turn around and give them to someone else.

Be the peace. Be the hope. Be the love. And Joy….JOY TO THE WORLD! God knows, we all need it. Just as He knew those years ago when His Son was born to live among us. To speak our language and to feel our fears and to know just how scary the world can be. But He was the hope, the love, the peace, the love. Now it’s your turn. Again I say, Be the hope. Be the love. Be the peace.

 

 

 

 

Christmas Memories: Cocquito and Friendship

public domain Wiki image

public domain Wiki image

When I was 12 years old, due to financial reasons, I was placed into the public school system. It was a shock to my system and sensibilities and it was at the point, I began to hate going to school. I did not adjust well and that adjustment was not helped by being called Four-eyed Midget, The Snot, and Weirdo by my classmates. Many of them knew my family and knew I had been one of those too-good for their own good society snots. I became outcast and except for a couple of teachers and one of the lunch room ladies, without friends. I walked to school alone and walked home alone; groups of kids passed by me, sometimes knocking my books from my arms, knocking me down, and always calling me names. I’d arrive home and go to my room and alternate cry and rant.

One day, during recess, I had had enough. One of the bigger boys who was taunting me (I see London, I see France. I see Snotty’s underpants) just plucked my last nerve. I looked up at him and challenged him to a fight. He found this most amusing and pushed me down on the ground. I gathered my wits and then launched my small frame full into him, head butting him in his crotch. We both went down rolling, punching, gauging, me biting, scratching. A crowd had gathered cheering him on when he grabbed me and held me up from the ground. I was flailing and sometimes connecting with a good kick. Suddenly, it became silent. Thank God, I said to myself. It is a teacher. I will be expelled and never have to come to this hell hole again.

It was not a teacher. It was Billy Rodriguez. To the bully, this slender boy said, “Son of a whore, put the girl down.” I was thrown down and Billy began to circle the boy. Next thing I knew, the bully was flat with Billy on his chest pounding him. It was a good moment. From that moment, Billy became my protector and his younger sister Therese, my friend as well. Old Southern family meets blended Cuban-Puerto Rican family.

They did more than keep me from a serious beating that day.  Billy, standing between me and harm with all the arrogance, honor, and bravery of a true hidalgo, helped out others who were being bullied.  Billy and Therese also walked home with me that day to explain what had happened so I would not be punished and so my family would know of the bullying I had been subjected to for several months.  The next school year, I was placed back in my old school.  That did not keep us from continuing to be friends.  That afternoon, they walked home with me. I had friends! We talked, laughed and began a walk of friendship that lasted until Billy was killed by a drunken driver and Therese died of uterine cancer a few years ago.

Billy’s mother had fled Cuba bringing her two small sons to America. His father had been murdered in the bloodbath there. Therese was the daughter of a Puerto Rican widower. it was a happy marriage and a wonderful blending of cultures.

That first Christmas of our friendship, his mother came to call on my family. She brought a large pitcher of a holiday drink: Cocquito. She explained it to us; the ingredients, the tradition of serving it at Christmas, the warning that it was lethal and to be sipped and savored. When I make Ida Ortiz recipe for Cocquito, I honor the memory and lives of these precious people who rescued me and became part of my life.

We became three families blended by friendship, food, tradition, love, and honor.  Their pork roast and cocquito have become part of our family celebrations just as their memories have blended in with all the other memories.

I raise my glass of cocquito to the friends who became family and to their memories that bring me joy.  I raise my glass to all of you, friends who have become family.  Blessings to you all and may you always be blessed with friends who become family.

Cocquito
8 oz. half and half or whole milk
4 oz. cream or half and half
1 (14-ounce) can condensed milk
1 can cream of coconut
1 can coconut milk
Pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ ground nutmeg
4 – 8 oz.Puerto Rican white rum
Ground cinnamon – dusting

Directions
Place all ingredients in a blender and process for 3 minutes at high speed until frothy. Store in a glass container in the refrigerator and serve chilled, dusted with a little cinnamon. NOTE: Use a rubber spatula to get all the cream of coconut and sweetened condensed milk from the cans. The egg yolks are optional. Some versions use the egg, some do not. It seems to vary from family to family.

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