All posts by Susan Shafarzek

Butter, Bread, Beethoven: I Remember My Father by Cora Schenberg

Plate with bread and butter
 

In the Valley of the Bones The hand of HASHEM was upon me; it took me out by the spirit of HASHEM and set me down in the midst of the valley—and it was filled with bones…He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones! Say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of HASHEM!’ Thus said the Lord HASHEM/ELOHIM to these bones: Behold, I will bring a spirit into you, and you will come to life. I will put sinew upon you, and I will coat you with skin; then I will put a … Continue reading Butter, Bread, Beethoven: I Remember My Father by Cora Schenberg

Four Kitten Alarm Fire by James Carbaugh

White kitten
 

Mopsy, our beloved cat of mixed origins and numerous partners, had just had another litter of kittens—this time only four. She had amazed us the previous two times with six, all beautiful and now in good homes. We gave our new little ones the easily identifiable names of Brownie, Whitey, Stripey, and Junior—Junior looking very much like his mother, grey-mixed. They were beautiful kittens and we loved all of them; however, no one loved them as much as my brother BB. He gave them additional names other than the obvious ones—Mudface, Snowflake, Superman, and Hercules. … Continue reading Four Kitten Alarm Fire by James Carbaugh

My First Year as a Cidiot by Mat Zucker

Goats at a wire fence
 

Within just a few months living in New York’s Hudson Valley, we stopped buying our eggs anywhere but Sawkill Farm down the road. “Your eggs are better than anyone’s,” I told Kallie who runs the store and who moved from Brooklyn not long ago herself. She beamed with pride, but I don’t think it was the first time someone gave the compliment. “Cidiot” refers to a hardened city person who moves to the country and acclimates through experience. After 20 years in Manhattan, my husband and I purchased an 1847 cottage in the farm community … Continue reading My First Year as a Cidiot by Mat Zucker

Under the Wattle Bush by Mary Pacifico Curtis

Yellow flowers on wattle bush
 

Heaven and Earth Off the coast of the continent stars pinprick a black sky—tiny and plentiful, a cloud of a luminous multitude—announcement of lives, flows of history that date to creation and reach to uncertain futures through shifts of current day. Bright around the cloud of light: the planets, big stars proclaiming the universe and the lands below. I decided to come here instantly after the announcement that the next global gathering of our public relations agency network would take place in Cape Town. Although my heart was no longer in my competitive career, the … Continue reading Under the Wattle Bush by Mary Pacifico Curtis

Forgive and Forget—Or Something Like That

Small American flag in front of Veitnam War Memorial
 

Of course it’s only a coincidence that Armistice Day, the conclusion of World War I, falls (or used to) in November, that month which begins with All Hallows Eve and proceeds briskly to the Day of the Dead. It just happened that way. Armistice Day, has evolved into Veteran’s Day, still in November and it’s possibly not a coincidence at all that the Vietnam Memorial, that other reminder of war and its heroes, was dedicated in November of 1982. Dedicated, in fact, on November 13, the date on which I am posting these comments. In … Continue reading Forgive and Forget—Or Something Like That

Gangsters, Bigots, and Tough Guys: Growing Up Chicago by Alejandro Diaz

Chicago spelled in lights
 

Chicago is in my blood, even though today I consider myself a Californian. My parents immigrated to the Windy City in the late 1950’s; my younger brother, my three older sisters and I were all born on the Westside. Chicago has always been a tough, blue-collar town, made up of different ethnic neighborhoods that can be downright hostile to outsiders. But when my parents moved there, it was also a city where housing was very affordable, where working class wages were strong, and a place where you could get a good education at a fair … Continue reading Gangsters, Bigots, and Tough Guys: Growing Up Chicago by Alejandro Diaz

What’s So Great About October 9?


 

In addition to being the second Monday in October—a month with, yikes, five Mondays in 2017—October 9 this year (and every so often) commemorates Columbus Day. Are you planning to celebrate? Or use the time off to go shopping? Forget the bank, the library, the Post Office and the DMV. But, if you have the day off, have a good time anyway. The airlines will be flying. The stores will be open. October 9 wasn’t (and isn’t) always a holiday, of course. Columbus Day originally was assigned to October 12, the generally agreed-upon birthdate of … Continue reading What’s So Great About October 9?

Toy Piano by Sharon Harrigan

toy piano
 

I’m seven years old, and streams of people lean on the walls of the viewing room, standing in line for their turn to see my father in his coffin. I’m so close that the slippery gloss of the lacquered wood slides against my scratchy dress. The smell of lilies mixes with Mr. Clean, making the flowers seem artificial even though they’re not. The velvet lining, the shiny veneer, the bouquets, and his fancy clothes—a black suit I can’t remember ever seeing him wear—makes me wonder if the man inside is really my father. He should … Continue reading Toy Piano by Sharon Harrigan

On Being a Body by Catherine MacDonald

Vibrant blue flower
 

I am floating in near total silence in the women’s bathhouse at the Jefferson Pools, a natural mineral springs in Bath County, Virginia. Surrounded by six other women, some nude, others in bathing suits, there’s only the swish of a raised arm or a sigh when we reposition ourselves on the bright and squeaky Styrofoam noodles provided to keep us afloat in the warm, clear water. Enclosed by an aging wooden roundhouse, its whitewashed walls speckled with green mold, the pool is deep with a stony bottom and bounded by sparse curtained dressing rooms. It’s … Continue reading On Being a Body by Catherine MacDonald

Two Emmas by Nancy Taylor

statue
 

I didn’t know exactly where we were going as my brother took me for a ride in the countryside of my home county on a late February Saturday. He drove down a narrow paved road and stopped near an overgrowth of trees and bushes. “Do you know where we are?” Not until I heard, “This road used to be dirt” did it hit me—Emma’s. We made our way through tangles of vines and wintery twigs, only to find the four-room house completely collapsed with just an old chimney of “Pee Dee” imprinted bricks left standing. … Continue reading Two Emmas by Nancy Taylor