Friday, May 26, 2023

A Clean Break and Holding It Together

We often use the expression, "Make a clean break of it," when referring to a toxic relationship or a job we dislike whenever we want to be done without blowback. Today I appreciate this metaphor more than ever, as a literal enactment of what just occurred in my kitchen.  

A tiny houseplant needed watering. It was sitting a beloved Cambodian Celadon plate. I picked up the plant from a table to carry it to the kitchen counter. The much heavier plate stuck to the bottom of the plant's ceramic pot for a split second as I lifted it, then bam! It unstuck itself and dropped to the floor.  

Halves of the plate
close, but with a 
visible break
I knew my floors were hard (concrete slab covered with a fake wood-grain vinyl for disguise), but I was astonished to see what a clean break it was. With the sound of plate smashing, I imagined shards of pottery everywhere--under floor-cupboards' overhang all the way to the rug where the living area starts. But nothing . . . just ONE tiny 'crumb' of pottery beside the two plate halves. Fitting the halves together confirmed there were no missing chunks of plate except that crumb from the underside. 

Nothing to clean up (except my sadness at losing the plate)! It was a powerful visual image of a clean break. Not a rip. Not a tear. Not a perforation, shatter, or splat. A near perfect clean break. Wow--what an image for leaving behind whatever unpleasant relationship we're untangling from. No hard feelings? No residue of any kind? We can hope. 

Holding it together.
Who would know?
When I decided I wanted a visual record to help me remember the plate after I placed it in the garbage, another metaphor announced itself: "Holding it together." To make the plate look whole again without the break showing, I literally had to hold it together. Because I needed one hand for my iPhone camera, I pressed the plate's halves together against the kitchen splashboard to depict it without the break. Yeah--it took effort, just like it does to figuratively hide hurt, disappointment, or annoyance. But . . . the break was as close to imperceptible as I could have imagined.  

I'm going to try to keep these images tucked away in my brain somewhere as powerful reminders of what we mean when I casually use the metaphors. Perhaps the photos will help you, as well.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Happiness & Kris Kringle

THIS IS NOT A NEW POST, but technology can get the best of me and did so today. I opened this thirteen-year-old post, intending to update the labels (key words used in internet search engines). Somehow I failed to process the tiny change correctly, so now Google Blogger thinks it's a new post. I would completely delete the post except that, for whatever reason, it remains statistically one of the most read posts I've ever shared on the blog, and I wouldn't want to disappoint. :)


Happiness is getting positive feedback about my writing--stuff on this blog, an essay published in a newspaper, or even, as happened this morning, a rave about a press release I wrote for my Senior Center Exercise class.

But the phone call that just came in will be a highlight of my year. When the caller, identifying himself as Kris Kringle, told me how much he liked my Christmas letter, I nearly swooned. You see, I recognized his voice immediately as belonging to John Doty, my high school Creative Writing teacher. He and I have exchanged Christmas cards for a number of years. This was the first year, though, I included my annual letter in his card. I felt fluttery when I sealed the envelope, as if I were turning in a writing assignment in which I revealed too much of myself.

The call this afternoon felt like the equivalent of getting an A+ on a class assignment. I'm walking on air . . . while doing the laundry. Not bad for January 4, 2010.

Friday, May 19, 2023

JOKE? or MISTAKE? WHO CARES? (as long as you TAKE care)

Barely visible, you can
just make out the
number 648 just left of
the open car door
Who cares WHO it was or WHY they did it. Maybe it was an intentional screw-up from a disgruntled employee or maybe just an honest mistake from setting the number-6 stencil upside down on the cement. 

This photo was taken at the Mercer Street garage, a heavily used facility near the Seattle Center, a culture and sports magnet drawing thousands of ticket paying consumers of everything from theatre to rock concerts to operas, ballets, museums, special events, hockey playoffs and more. The garage is in constant use as the Seattle Center host thousands every day. 

Adjacent spaces
Over the years I've learned it can save time to photo a parking space number in any garage, lest there be confusion in the elevator in the aftermath of the particular event. This day was no different--my friend and I were going to Seattle Repertory Theatre and I offered to take a quick photo of the parking space number. 

That's when we got the joke---or the mistake. She called out 949 from the driver's side, just as I stepped out of the passenger side onto space 650. Huh? 

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Loving Batch

Recently at a Seattle Chamber Music Society concert that was quickly filling with general seating at a formerly-a-church venue, a middle-aged man stopped at the second row where I was sitting on the aisle to scan availability. Quickly the woman sitting next to me and I scooted apart to make room for him in our pew. Soon the lights dimmed and we became immersed in the spectacular performance of the Isidore Quartet, winner of the 2022  Banff String Quartet Competition.

At intermission my seatmate and I began to chat, each of us sharing how much we had loved the genre of chamber music from an early age. My passion began in eighth grade when I first heard Dvorak's Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81, recorded by Pablo Casals and friends at his festival in Prades. Not only did I love the work itself, but Pablo Casals could be heard singing along as he played during much of the recording. Something about his irrepressible urge to sing during such spectacular ensemble work transported me to an emotional place I'd never been. From that point forward and ever after, chamber music totally eclipsed other forms of music. 

But the man next to me had an even better anecdote about his love for chamber music--one of the dearest I've heard. His mother loved classical music and played LPs as background in their home during his pre-school years. She bought an album of Bach's Trio Sonatas when he was in first grade and did her housework while listening. When he heard that particular album he was mesmerized and, as a beginner at reading, inspected the album cover closely. He was learning how to sound out words he didn't know. He then sought out his mother to proudly announce, "I love Batch." 

As we parted ways after a standing ovation for Isadore, the man thanked me for making room for him where he could see and hear so well. He introduced himself by his first name, Sean. It's unlikely I will ever see him again, but his story will linger forever. An appropriate punchline might be, "Thank you, Seen."

Sunday, May 14, 2023


Naomi Elmendorf Johnsone

As promised last post, there will be a few more poems coming. This one I wrote in response to a prompt from our semi-monthly poetry group through the YMCA. 

PROMPT: Write a poem centered around someone or something who drives your spirit and fills your soul.


When I wanted to tell a story, you’d hear me out

When I wanted to pretend, you’d take a role

When I wanted to write, you’d spell a word

When I wanted to draw, you’d find a tablet

You listened to my piano compositions with visible delight

You clapped long and hard at my acting and my plays 

You praised my drawings and showed them to you friends

You took dictation for the poems and stories I made up

I grasp now how you saw the spark and fed the fire

I appreciate now how you fanned those flames to burn for life

I thrive now because your gift has lasted more than eighty years

I write now this tiny tribute to you, dear long-gone mother 

With joy 

With awe

With love

With gratitude

                        Sara J. Glerum
                        April 2022

Sunday, May 7, 2023

To Share or Not to Share, that is the question

I have written poetry nearly all my life. I can still remember in early grade school when I would summon my mother after she had tucked me into bed and kissed me goodnight. It didn't happen more than once or twice a month, but I would call her back within a few minutes of the last snuggle-kiss because a poem would have formed itself in my head. Mother was
always willing to write my poems down for me, no matter the time of day or inconvenience factor. She would sit on my bed and take dictation, as if she were my very own private scribe. I must add here that she continued to support all of my creative efforts throughout her life. Yes, I was spoiled that way. Lucky me!

Recently I came across a manila enveloped stuffed with my early-life writing (from grade school through high school) and I'm still reading my way through at least one hundred pages. Much of it will meet the waste basket instead of the filing cabinet, but it's been a trip through my emotional life on a narrow and winding road and memories come flooding back, most buried until the writing dredges them up. Some might be worth sharing--I'll decide after I read the entire oevre.

Just last night I was retrieving a poem from another paper pile written in the last couple of years. I had told a friend about it after we stopped to admire a vase filled with fresh peonies and offered to send it. Oopsie, that meant I needed to find it. Sometimes my computer filing system isn't as logical as I think it is, so I resorted to looking through recent poems I've printed out to read in the my poetry-writing group sponsored over Zoom by the YMCA. It's equally fun to read two-plus years of poetry from the pandemic era. I found a number of poems I'm not ashamed of. As a result of reading my random thoughts in poetic form, I decided to spend the next several blog posts sharing a few. So here's the poem I shared with my friend. It's a ridiculous and silly rhyme but the message is dead serious (pun intended). Enjoy! 


 As I age, I wonder more and more

how it is I’ll exit out the door.

I look at bouquets brought inside,

consider them, and then decide

what I wish for my demise.


Stately, tall. Majestic, trim

then slowly drooping toward the rim

of the vase. One by one

the petals drop. They’re done.


Tight, then open. Scent

prevails. Stems unbent,

but all too soon diminish

to dull and withered finish.


Sphere-like buds start small and round

then quickly to their full size bound

for explosive scent and amazing size,

then—poof—drop petals before my eyes.

It’s obvious to me I’d like the latter

and despite this poet’s foolish patter, 

I wish to disappear in splendor

not fade away as my up-ender,

and hope my wish will be the way.     

                        Sara J. Glerum

                        May 2021