Almost and Being So

Monday Morning Musings:

Almost and Being So

“An answer is invariably the parent of a great family of new questions.”

“The truest reason for anything’s being so is that it is.”
–John Steinbeck, The Log from the Sea of Cortez (quoted here)

November passes in brilliant color
and black and white
in clouds that gather in ominous grey,
then glow as if to say, stay

for this is the call of ancient light
without, within,
despite hateful lies and
the punch-drunk, punchline, punching sting
of voters’ votes and natures’ flinging
rain and fog and morning moons
that sail through blue
to you–

and you shiver in the cold
and delight in the sun—
ignore alarms, embrace the charm
and glory of an eagle swooping by
and vultures dancing in the sky—

Vultures, Eagle, and Turkeys

you wonder about the almosts—and fate—
questions without answers, and answers that can wait

as you tread, momentarily awake,
through leaves of brown and red.
crunching dead, but hearing life
in squirrel rustle and birdsong,
the existence of because it is.

I used some of Jane’s Random Words for my poem.

On Saturday, we had planned to go into Philadelphia to visit the art museum and see a show. Unfortunately, our car hit a rock or piece of concrete on the road. It ruined our transmission, but my husband managed to get the car off the highway to a side street. We are fine, and things could have been much worse.

Theater, Movies, TV:

On Sunday, we took my husband’s car to the train station, and went to see a different play at a different theater. The Lantern Theater Company’s production of The Royale. I was not particularly excited to see this play, which I thought would be only about boxing and boxers. I have zero interest in boxing and no desire to see men hit each other. However, this play, inspired by the life of Jack Johnson, the first Black heavyweight champion of the world, was about racism, Jim Crow, and family dynamics. The acting was powerful, and the staging and choreography were outstanding. I’m still thinking about it.

We watched Enola Holmes 2 (Netflix), a totally delightful movie with a message about female empowerment. I think this second one was better than the first one.

We also watch the new show, Inside Man (Netflix). It’s only 4 episodes. Stanley Tucci as a murderer on death row who solves cases, and David Tennant as a vicar in England. Their lives become entwined. There are other fine actors involved, too. A bingeable show.

We started the new Interview with a Vampire (AMC). Two episodes in, and it’s very good. Much better than the movie was. It’s a new present-day (re)interview, and Louis is a gay Black man/vampire.

Pre-theater Walk in Philadelphia:

Slanted Words in Slanted Light (Revised with audio)

Slanted Words in Slanted Light

“Tell all the truth but tell it slant —
–Emily Dickinson

“There’s a certain Slant of light, . . .

When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –“
–Emily Dickinson

Slanted words in slanted light,
this is what autumn brings–
ghosts and trees whisper,
elongated shadows seem alive.

This is what autumn brings–
red and yellow dazzle,
elongated shadows seem alive,
eagles with piping whistles fly—

above red and yellow dazzle,
berry-warm against cool grey and blue
eagles with piping whistles fly,
wine glows in canted rays of the sun

berry-warm against cool grey and blue
circles woven of color and time
wine glows in canted rays of the sun,
stories told and understood–

circles woven of color and time
now amid the age-old lies,
stories told and understood
for those who wait, a battle cry

now amid the age-old lies
truth is bent and rearranged
for those who wait, a battle cry,
but nature marches to a different beat–

truth is bent and rearranged,
elongated shadows seem alive,
but nature marches to a different beat–
slanted words in slanted light.

I’m sharing this pantoum I wrote for my Monday Morning Musings two weeks ago with dVerse Open Link Night. You can see the original version with photos here.

November Mysteries

Monday Morning Musings:

November Mysteries

“It was November–the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines.
–L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island, Chapter XXV

Now it is November,
the sun with white nimbus and absent-minded face
takes her time to rise, to trace with bony fingers in the mist,
to burnish birdwings as they glide–

she touches the treetops, and they enraptured glow
to share November’s secrets through roots below,
and cast elongated shadows on the land
where the wind scatters leaves, red and brown,

the rustle-song a piece, along with sparrow hymn
and blue jay screech, of autumn’s orchestration,
of melancholy beauty, saudade, an ache of yearning
for people and seasons past—

harvests are over, we drink the wine
wanting to linger. . .but the sun sets quicker–

even if I ask, time will not stop,
and it remains a mystery
how it moves, now slow, now fast—
each second ticks, now has passed,

and still the moon rises, the earth still spins
the repetition of patterns, circles within circles,
a cycle ends, another begins—

November walks in mystery
her penumbra grows, obscuring the light
echoing the sounds unheard—every note–
the things just beyond sight.

We are having unseasonable warm weather—and I am trying to enjoy every second of it, despite being a bit off from the switch back to standard time. The combination of warm days and November sunlight is a bit disconcerting, especially mixed with the time change. Everything is a bit off, like being in a dream. Though we and many others have already voted, tomorrow is Election Day. It is going to take days or weeks for all the results to be in, but the party of the former president is busily pushing misinformation, and who knows what will happen on Wednesday?

We enjoyed the beautiful warm weather at two wineries this weekend. Auburn Road for pizza and wine with our daughter, son-in-law and their puppy, and William Heritage Winery for sparkling Blanc de Blanc with lobster rolls. Sunday morning, we walked in Ceres Park.

We’re watching a Polish show on Netflix called 1983. Although it’s set in an alternative historical setting, the show merely uses that to frame a mystery and a political thriller. It has the feel of Scandi-noir. We’re confused by the various factions, but in a good way. We’re both enjoying the show.

Slanted Words in Slanted Light

Monday Morning Musings:

Autumn Light Through the Trees

Slanted Words in Slanted Light

“Tell all the truth but tell it slant —”
Emily Dickinson

“There’s a certain Slant of light, . . .

When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –“
Emily Dickinson,

Slanted words in slanted light,
this is what autumn brings–
ghosts and trees whisper,
elongated shadows seem alive.

This is what autumn brings–
red and yellow dazzle,
elongated shadows seem alive,
eagles with high-pitched whistles fly—

above red and yellow dazzle,
berry-warm against cool grey and blue
eagles with high-pitched whistles fly,
wine glows as canted rays shine through

berry-warm against cool grey and blue
circles woven of color and time
wine glows as canted rays shine through
stories told and understood–

circles woven of color and time
now amid the age-old lies,
stories told and understood
for those who wait, a battle cry

now amid the age-old lies
truth is bent and rearranged
for those who wait, a battle cry,
but nature marches to a different beat

The Wild Turkey Gang

truth is bent and rearranged
elongated shadows seem alive
but nature marches to a different beat–
slanted words in slanted light.

A pantoum for today. I used some of Jane’s random words, as well as playing off Emily Dickinson. October has been a mostly beautiful month this year—some grey days and rain, but beautiful color, even as the days are growing shorter. And that eagle!

We took care of some things this weekend, such as flu shots and new COVID booster and haircuts. No ill effects from the vaccines, except I was a little tired Friday night and Saturday. We also voted in NJ’s early voting. I’m dismayed and angered that so many still support the GOP, which has become the Tr—p Party of Christo-fascists, and people egging them on, and also some who somehow still believe their lives will improve–despite decades of proof that trickle-down economic policies only make the rich richer. The GOP wants to eliminate Social Security and Medicare—how will that help most people, and what will happen to the people who depend on them? The attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband, which was meant to be her assassination, and the rise in antisemitic rhetoric indicates what this party stands for–in case the dismissal of women’s rights and attacks on LGBTQ+ weren’t enough, and oh yes, the attempts to destroy democracy weren’t enough! We cannot agree to disagree on these things.

Horror viewing this week because nothing is as scary as the real world. The Midnight Club on Netflix this week, which we enjoyed. It’s based on a YA novel. There are a few “gotcha jumps,” but it’s not super-scary. But it’s both sad (set in a hospice for teens with cancer) and hopeful with some fun 1990’s references, too. The Innocents (1961), the beautifully photographed movie based on The Turn of the Screw with Deborah Kerr as the governess. A classic ghost story. No blood and gore, just spookiness. I had forgotten the ending though, which is creepy on another level, too.

We went to William Heritage Winery to enjoy the beautiful afternoon yesterday.


Monday Morning Musings:


“Time is the longest distance between two places.”
–Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie

Morning Moon, October

Morning Moon

Always the moon—
even in far-flung places, she rises
gleaming, her hair silver-streaming,
to answer questions we haven’t yet asked.

It is the season of falling leaves and
demonic connections. Remember
heartbreak, look for truth—be aware–
of lies and hate. I’ll vote blue.

Autumn Scenes

The brief pause
before you grin, lopsided,
a crooked crescent, the smile of your ancestors,
lights up your eyes.

The mist rises in a glorious ring,
even under a fretful sky
the river flows on, her melody
constant and ever-changing, nature’s paradox.

Morning Mist at the River

The hawk whistles in red-feathered flight,
the squirrels scurry beneath golden boughs
the geese soar in V-flight, a journey
through space and time, the future becomes now.

Golden glow on abandoned ferry terminal, Delaware River, West Deptford

I used Jane’s random words again for this Cadralor.

It has been such a busy week. Work assignments due, the Folktober Challenge, a broken washing machine, now a clogged drain, dealing with a credit card transferred to a bank that seems totally incapable of handling service, the probably final televised hearing of the January 6 Committee, and two plays in theaters this weekend! On Saturday we saw The Glass Menagerie at the Arden Theater in Old City, Philadelphia. I had forgotten how sad and moving the play is, and the actors were all excellent. I enjoyed it very much. It was a beautiful day, so we took a long walk first, and then afterwards, we were able to sit outside at Tria to enjoy wine (mine, a Syrah blend from South Africa), stout (his, some dark something), a seasonal cheese tray of local artisan cheeses. Delightful!

Old City and Tria

On Sunday, we saw Those With 2 Clocks at the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia. It was a completely different sort of play. And yet, perhaps both plays dealt with some universal truths. This would not be a play for many of my friends and readers. As the pre-show announcement said, this performance will hit all the triggers. There were jokes about sex acts, butts, and there was full nudity—and also interactions with the audience. The performers explored humor and what makes us laugh–and attempt to dismantle the patriarchy. I was worried that I would not enjoy it at all, but I did, even as I cannot really explain what I saw. You can read more about it here.

Rittenhouse Square and Area

October, Bright and Yearning

Monday Morning Musings:

Autumn Leaves

October Bright and Yearning

The wind thrusts open the curtains of rain
now the understudy enters, so nervous
he chokes when it’s time to speak,
Then the sun steps in with fierce-rayed concentration
the star, he commands attention.

Sunlight, Red Bank Battlefield

October Morning

Sunrise Over the Delaware River

Ruthless questions—
reflect, refute if you can, why we treasure armies
and the damage that they do—
ghosts wander over blood-soaked ground,
mothers remember.

Knotty letters swim to the surface
we catch them with hooks,
straighten them with poetic authority
toss back the redundant,
bind the true.

Thoughtful threads converge,
sparkling stars,
moons, and planets
statements and questions,
circle like satellites in infinity.

Now we gather, spicy, salty, sweet—
daughters, granddaughters, offspring
the past topples into now
without a break—almost accidental–
we let the birds fly free.

Autumn Puddle Reflections

This and That:

This may not be a true cadralor, but then something similar from Jane’s words from Oracle II. Our older child is visiting. Their visit coincided with a Zoom memorial Saturday evening for my mom’s cousin who died recently. Then my two children spent some time together.

There is a definite feel and look of autumn now. This past week, as people are actively seeking to destroy my country and democracies everywhere, and death seems all around, the birds have been putting on shows. I know this is a migratory period, so perhaps that’s the reason, but after days of rain, the sun finally came out, and the sky was a deep, perfect blue. Vultures danced in the sky, while mockingbirds, cardinals, sparrows, and other birds sang from trees, poles, and bushes.

The park by the river where I often walk is the site of an American Revolutionary War battle. It was fought in October 1777, and in a couple of weeks, they’ll have the annual reenactment event there.

Last night, my husband and I watched Catherine, Called Birdy. I can’t get away from birds! 🙂
It’s a delightful movie, and just what I needed to see. Even the closing credits are fun.
(In contrast, I would not recommend the Norwegian horror film, The Innocents. Hidden within it, is a film of forging bonds between children and siblings. I like that part, and the young actors are all excellent. BUT, the movie is very disturbing—and includes scenes of animal cruelty, as well as cruelty against humans.) And we’re still watching The Extraordinary Attorney Woo on Netflix. It’s so good.


Monday Morning Musings:


“Forever – is composed of Nows –“
Emily Dickinson

“If forever doesn’t exist,” she said, “we’ll invent it ourselves.”
― Nikki Erlick, The Measure

Early morning, the Delaware River at West Deptford

At the tipping point, gold tips green
and russet leaves waltz to wind’s acoustic strings,
they touch the ground, then let it go
and drift into tomorrow.

We follow—or we don’t—
almost living like those leaves,
though deaf to the language of trees,
the whispers far underground–

as geese honk and hawks circle,
we dare to look up
find infinity in a sky of dazzling blue,
and in each memory, confound time.

My mom’s dear cousin, Sali, died yesterday. They were like sisters, so this hits hard, not only because I loved Sali, but also because of her connection to my mom.

And because, it’s what I do, I always seem to find connections and synchronicity in my life. Autumn seems a particularly apt time for reflection, and it has truly come.

After a few beautiful days, when I had some amazing bird watching moments–a pair of hawks and a pair of eagles together one day, and group of vultures the next– October arrived with wind and rain. It’s been raining off and on since Friday night, with heavy rain yesterday. It looks like it may continue until Tuesday or Wednesday. I’m thankful, however, that we only have these remnants of the hurricane that devastated Cuba and parts of Florida.


On Saturday night, we did a virtual wine tasting hosted by Tria in Philadelphia. We picked up our boxes of wine and cheese in the afternoon. The event was a fundraiser for reproductive rights.

Merril’s Movie, Book, TV Club:

A Trip to Infinity: Am I recommending a math documentary? Yes, I am. It’s because, to me, it’s a film of philosophy, possibility, and ideas. It is so well-done, and the experts—mathematicians, philosophers, and physicists–are so engaging as they discuss infinity. I would watch this one again. On Netflix.

I read The Measure, a novel by Nikki Erlich. One day every adult in the world, no matter where they are, receives a box. Inside each box is a string. Some have short strings, and some have long strings—this is the measure of how long they will live. Despite its premise and the prospect of how it could bring out the worst in humans, the novel is ultimately a novel about love and connection.

We are watching the Korean series, Extraordinary Attorney Woo. It had been on my Netflix list for a while. (You will not be surprised that I have a huge list.) Blogger friend Dale convinced me to start watching it, and I’m glad I took her advice. You can’t really tell how delightful this show is from the trailer, but it makes me happy to watch it and to root for Woo.

**I don’t mean to bombard anyone with posts, but I am writing poems for an October Folklore challenge, and today I’ll be back because I’m hosting Quadrille Monday on dVerse. (I guess I better get that poem written!)**


Challahs cooling on the counter


The sky is streaked with cinnamon,
there’s coriander in the clouds,
the saffron sun, not yet winter-faded,

glows on
the squirrels gathering walnuts,
from trees with nutmeg-sprinkled leaves.

My arms are still summer-browned,
the basil, a bit spindly, still green and fragrant,

but in my spice-scented kitchen, pumpkin simmers
in soup, apples bake in cake, vanilla floats in the air,

and round, golden challahs cool
on the counter

as the cockeyed world balances,
for a few moments

we’re caught in a honeyed glow,
the last bees of summer,
the waxing moon, waiting for fullness.

For my prompt on dVerse today. Next Sunday night is the start of Rosh Hashanah this year. I’m not religious, but I like the rituals, traditions, and having family get together. And the food! I like the symbolism of dipping apples in honey and eating a round challah for a sweet year. I will probably start my challah baking marathon tomorrow and do other cooking over the next few days. The autumnal equinox (vernal equinox in the southern hemisphere) is on Thursday.

Of Things Heard and Seen

Monday Morning Musings:

Morning Beaver Moon Between the Branches, ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

I’m musing about musing,
bemused by my muse, how she drifts
on slivers of silvered streams, and beams
from between leaves, perceives before thought
reaches me, the beauty of golden glow, the gilding
of roofs and trees,

Autumn Glow Reflected in the Delaware River ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

and hears the calls of all
the birds in sky and river beach, each a part
of something larger–

in the flutter of a wing, the creation of a storm
or from a tiny wish, greater reveries born,
as time circles round, what was future becomes past,
the russet leaves fall, a pewter blanket shrouds the earth,

but buried deep among the roots, sleeping seeds dream
of brighter and more beautiful things, of blue and green

of fuzzy chicks and spotted fawn,
of dawn chorus, mockingbird, and robin song—

Robin atop the tree dressed for autumn
Autumns leaves soaring over the Delaware River

and now in blanket weather, cat on lap,
with pen to paper, the muse whispers write
of the luminous branches covered in jewels,
and the ripples in the river, the blue reflected from above,
and the way time pauses and stills when surrounded by love–
and I say, yes, it does, and yes,
I will.

Our older child and their wife are here for Thanksgiving. This is the first time we’ve seen them since before the pandemic. ❤️. I’m getting ready for Thanksgiving.

Dreams in Blue

Monday Morning Afternoon Musings:

Frosted River Blues ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

I dreamt my dad
was visiting Boston, as was I.
I knew it was a dream, but I was glad
to see him, to know he didn’t die

completely. Death takes,
but the mind recalls—
at least in dreams. We wake
to cry or sigh or laugh, but all

is part of life, like spring and fall—
the cycle of the seasons, the folds
of time–dream-me is not one age, clocks toll
differently there, controlled

by mind, the shadows and the light.

Now, beneath a canopy of crimson, gold,
and yellow-green
I gaze up at the blue-gowned sky, foretold
by orbit’s path and revolution, the unseen and the seen–

November Sunrise over a Frosted Field ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

the beauty of frosted November mornings,
despite the baring of the trees, the death of things,
the ignoring of all warnings—
see the gulls fly with scintillating wings

reflecting the glow, and letting it go?

Autumn Scene, ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

This the balance, life and death–
the cloth bag I took to my mother’s hangs on a chair waiting,
I take a breath,

to make her death final and real.
Crow caws beauty, evil, life and death—all are true,
parts of a whole, a cycle, the real we feel,
a sigh within, a heart-soar reaching for the endless blue.

I have been amazed this week by the beauty of nature. The glorious light of this time of year, even the frost is beautiful. Soon, everything will look barren and grey, so I’m enjoying this while I can. I’ve also been dismayed by how willing people are to embrace the haters and those who spread misinformation. People I know who “don’t believe in” masks voted for the baby Trumpty-Dumpties, who have already been called out for racist slurs. UGHHHHH!
But on the bright side, I got to see friends this week—who definitely do NOT believe this nonsense.

And today, I went walking and talking with a friend. Then we had my homemade challah cinnamon toast and coffee and talked some more. Thus, the late post today. I will be back in a little while because I’m hosting Prosery on dVerse today.

Merril’s Movie/TV Club:

We watched and finished Maid (Netflix), inspired by Stephanie Land’s memoir. My husband and I both enjoyed it, although after the first episode, he looked at me and said something like, “well, that was uplifting.” But if you haven’t watched it, there are funny incidents, times of joy, and surreal moments—it’s not all bleak. I listened to an NPR interview with Stephanie Land that was done before the Netflix series. Here

We streamed a new movie, I Am Your Man (rental, Amazon Prime). It’s a German movie about an archeologist who agrees to evaluate an android who has been designed to be her perfect partner. It’s sort of a rom-com with a tiny touch of sci-fi, but also poignant– as it asks what we really want in a mate. Do we want perfection? And also, apparently Dan Stevens can do anything, even speak German. We both liked this movie a lot. Trailer here.