The word "potpourri" means "container of things that can be poured out," usually a mixture of small things, such as a potpourri of flowers or a potpourri of mixed beans. I first used the label for my file of segmented parts of my own illustrations, such as skies or heads, which might be re-usable in other of my images. Afterward, I used it to mean my mixed bag of works for my blog. -Roberta

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I wrote notes for this poem in 2008 but never got around to writing it, preferring to concentrate on more timely themes.  I went back to it and wrote it in the past month. 


Is that who we are, pinned projections, rotund protrusions?
Is our shape, mammalian, bi-pedal, definition of our measure?
Is our essence curvilinear hemispheres which provoke intrusions,
Vertical shaft of leg, splayed trapezoidal foot under pressure?

Is our shape, mammalian, bi-pedal the definition of our measure?
We are more like the scintillant energy which smithys palpable that stride,
The vibrance sentient coursing through that staunch foot under pressure,
The visible is wrought of pulsing consciousness into outward form plied.

We are more like the scintillant energy which smithys palpable that stride,
Emotive prods that spur to joy, fear, grief, hatred, or devotion.
Emotions wrought of agitant vectors into sensibility are plied.
They bourrée, jetté; plié, and arabesque, trajectiles plaited into passion.

Emotive prods that spur to joy, fear, grief, hatred or devotion,
Actions which to actions of deliberation us impel
Bourrée, jetté; plié and arabesque; trajectiles plaited into passion.
Resultant action, deliberation, is the animate action quintessential.

Emotive prods are actions which to actions of deliberation us impel.
We are summary of their impetus, their outward decisive focus.
The resultant action, deliberation, is the animate action quintessential
But intellection, deliberation using symbol, has here on earth just us as locus.

Transcending the summary of impetus, the world is intellect's outward ultimate focus.
Geometries and formulas, words, lines, sounds, and colors limn our earthly percepts.
Intellection, deliberation using symbol has here on earth just us as locus.
Wondrous interactive, symbolic intellect conveys from mind to mind our concepts.

Geometries and formulas, words, lines, sounds, and colors limn our worldly percepts.
Uses of symbol to rabble rouse or exhortations to transcend are also intellective actions.
Wondrous interactive, symbolic intellect, bonding mind to mind with precepts:
Opinions, convictions, laws, religions, propaganda, rules, conventions.

Use of symbol to rabble rouse and exhortations to transcend are also intellective actions.
Intellection's uses of symbol empowers every self with Choice:
Opinions, convictions, laws, religions, propaganda, rules, conventions.
Scintillant palpable strides limning formulations, every self an energetic synapse, one locus of a worldly voice.

Intellection's uses of symbol empowers every self with Choice.
We are the transparent sinews of ideas' conveyance, the tendons of mind to mind.
Scintillant palpable strides limning formulations, every self an energetic synapse, one locus of a worldly voice.
How can something so diaphanous as these tendons have such tensile strength to bind?

We are the transparent sinews of ideas' conveyance, the tendons of mind to mind,
Recounters of observations, formers of ethos' scaffolding of nations and religions.
How can something diaphanous as these tendons have such tensile strength to bind?
Who would loose us from true witness, insistent that our essence is pinned projections, rotund protrusions,
Deluded cynics promulgating self-satisfied exclusions, contemptuous distortions, jaded intrusions?

Friday, October 28, 2011

October 28, 2011

Here is a story with its illustration whose idea began in 2008. The illustration and the story were conceived at the same time as a unit. Other ideas which I wanted to get off my chest became more pressing, so I put the story and its illustration aside and picked them up again in the past month. I wanted to keep picture and story together, so since it's two works, please consider it a two months entry. Like Alice in wonderland, I'm running to stay in place.

Written and illustrated by Roberta Schulberg aka Roberta SchulbergGoro


"Oh sure Russell, the studio offered me a job as assistant director, it's already in the bag, but...." Sitting across from Mickey at a small round side table, Russell observed the barely contained energy in Mickey's nervous repeated shoulder shrugs and was delighted to be able to recognize that unchanged characteristic habit of his old friend after all these years. "Well, well," he thought, "so Mickey is still the old dynamo." Russell, with a hardly perceptible stir, checked his own immediate urge to straighten his back to lean forward in order to listen intently, reminding himself to present to his friend only a calm, relaxed, composed appearance.

"Listen, Russell. You know me; I've got a long track-record. The whole industry knows me. And I know everyone, everyone in it." As he spoke, Mickey's mouth made extraneous movements, as if his mouth itself was searching for a way to phrase it. "Buuuut it's a new ballgame out there and um, Hollywood's taken a fall. We both know you're probably the best bet for hooking up to whatever is the "now" thing. Umm, uh, mm, I'd take the risk of refusing a major in the industry to get in on a great ground floor."

Russell pulled back tighter into his chair and stiffened. His chin receded, nestling for safety into his neck. He answered with some hesitation, "True. ~I'm involved in some new things. High tech video, for one state of the art. And I've been able to make some inroads into T.V. production. No one is yet doing what I intend to do. Ya gotta shake people up. Remember when we talked about it? Shake 'em out of their conformity, the damned past is all mincing conformity. I'm not free to discuss it at this time, but," His hand rested lightly on the table and he abstractedly brushed his hand back and forth on the fulcrum of his wrist, his little finger lightly grazing the table as he spoke, "I'm in closeted talks with a high-tech video group. This group is tops." His head waggled, "But I just can't make any promises right now without consulting the others." Suddenly his countenance lifted and his face beamed with a smile. "But I can recommend you as definitely not being dead wood. Let's keep in contact this time, Mickey."

"It's probably because your Aunt Lorraine and I were divorced and not speaking to each other that you didn't call me, huh Russell?"

"No Mickey. Our friendship didn't depend on Lorraine. I didn't call you because your sudden flying off without good-byes told me you didn't want old friends pulling you back and hanging on to you. Still working for the magazine?"

"No, I left Point and Tell before I split with Lorraine. After you and I planned our getting into film I decided to stop talking and start acting. Talking wasn't going to bring me past my pages of documentary snapshots and verbatim interviews. I knew I'd need the time to move freely, untrammeled, take a look around. I planned ahead for the move. I put cash away so I wouldn't have to settle for first offers. Well, it didn't take long after my arrival in California for ZJCalititan studios to offer me a position as apprentice director under Mannaheim. I would have to begin with prop man duties, learn the ropes department by department. Mickey turned his head away as if to avoid Mannaheim. He returned his head to face Russell. Iiiiiiii've got too many years behind me to settle for that. I've been told that when I walk into a room y' can feel the tension. Iiiiiiiiii have no patience for the small stuff; I-I've got to get above it, put my energies into where it counts. I still do know a couple of the top go-getters I worked with at the magazine; they've already made their move into internet news and documentaries. Nothing big yet but they're working on plans for an independent studio. Here and there I do some freewheeling stuff. You know a family is a drag pulling you down when you're starting out in a tough business. Lorraine never bothered me for alimony and I'm no big spender. I'm just getting along but I'm free as the wind."

Russell felt relieved that Mickey was not going to be so distasteful as to press him further regarding his own video connections. His mouth turned down in commiseration. He thrust his lower lip out, deepening his frown as he slid his tongue forward against the roof of his mouth. "I've had some rough tobogganing myself," he was willing to confide. "The electric company laid me off along with most of their other technicians. Of course, there's the video, but it's just in the initial stages. The small business of wholesale hand-held HDTV's which I bought for my daughter's marriage gift helps. She works it and I get a cut. When my wife Hattie died I sold our house. Instead of moving back to the old house left to me and Lorraine, I decided to unload it. Aunt Lorraine bought out my portion and the bank financed the house based on her library job. I gave Lorraine a good deal and I paid for this cabin in cash. I owe no one a thing."

"Don't worry Mickey, the divorce won't affect any business we have together. I'm so busy I hardly bother with Aunt Lorraine myself. I don't want to be weighed down right now either. I know the score. Lorraine's still the same annoyance to have around. Now that we're able to talk frankly I can tell you what first tipped me off about her. This was a long time ago. Russell gritted his teeth in a scowl, his body quivering in controlled anger at memories of having to tolerate the presumptions of his aunt. I was still a child, but as long as the time has been I will never forget it. He lifted his hand, energetically pointing the index finger of his trembling hand upward, "Story One," a wait-'til-you-hear-this-one determination to tell all was easily readable on Russell's face. "In the seventh grade I was selected for an advanced study program for elementary school honor science students. Aunt Lorraine was in her last year of high school. When the family was at the table celebrating the award, Aunt Lorraine, in a facade of casualness, mentioned her ambition of writing a book like Rochelle Sunsun's The Fish Below Streaming Waters or Susan Speaker's How the Brain Remembers. At that time she said to me, 'We ought to put our heads together.' Remembering that moment, Russell's face reddened in rage and he extended his head toward Mickey, his voice lifting to just under a shout, "What she meant was she wanted to put her fingers into my piece of pie." He leaned back. "She lacked any sense of her own limitations, trying to advance by latching on to others' gains. It's my guess she hardly managed to get through high school. Ever since that time I pretty much steer clear of her. She is, quite frankly, a drag to know. So I live alone here in the cabin, she lives alone in the old house, and we hardly see each other." Russell relaxed, then laughed silently, allowing his tensely wired shoulders to bob up and down slightly as he snapped his fingers, all five, one after the other in rotation, a calisthenic he had developed as a youngster. "I know you've had some time with it too, huh Mickey, keeping your feet on the ground and keeping the damned leeches out?" he managed to wheeze through his laugh. "I have no trouble recommending you on that score."

Mickey's relief in Russell's understanding of his situation allowed his old feeling of comraderie to strengthen as he began to brush aside any fears of rejection which Lorraine caused by her unalterable family relationship to his old confidant. "The only way to avoid Lorraine's interference was to go off to another room together whenever we had to make decisions. Did Lorraine ever have an idea which became effective?" Mickey joined Russell in his mirth, "What did Lorraine actually study anyway?" Mickey put a finger in his cheek and popped it, the sound like the bursting of a small balloon. "Oh, sure. She would think 'Susan Speaker.' His laughter intensified, "She would think 'Michelangelo,' 'masterpieces.' No sense about deadlines, pressures in the industry, competition, no concept of the tough fight out there in the world." He rolled his eyes up, extended his lower lip, and blew a gust of wind against his forehead. "She disapproved of my selling the darkroom equipment when the magazine took over the lab work. She said the few dollars from the sale didn't mean anything; I ought to keep working on all aspects of my craft. Imagine thinking y'can spend a whole lifetime just leisurely learning a craft - like I had a patron, like someone would catch me if I fell off candy-cane mountain. She talked about career, but woman are built to be dependent, to be wherever she's needed by her man, not lost in daydreams. Lorraine has no sense of the bottom line. I wanted her secure at home. I told her right from the beginning - what the man does is more important because he's got a grip on the world; he's the one who's the support, it's he who's got to make his mark, not waste his time with stuff that doesn't pay off. I told her right away, I'm her success. Russell, women wouldn't have a thing without us."

"Y'know Mickey, our family did not bring up Lorraine to indulge in hopeless dreams and ambitions the way she does. Her mother Kate, my grandmother, showed her. Serve your man and get your piece of pie. Kate was like an angel but Lorraine never took after her. Normal women like Grandma Kate accept reality on a domestic plane, find fulfillment in taking care of the everyday needs of everyone around them. That's the way to their success. Women like that do better. I don't remember my mother; I was an infant when her plane crashed down on her way to visit my father's army training campgrounds, but I've been told she was an angel like Grandma Kate. What normal women do have is patience, submission. In the dreary routine they are a saving grace. They are a yielding kindness in shattering conflict. For them, love leads the way. Men have to be different. We've got to go after it when we can."

"I'll say this for her, Russell, Lorraine was always there when I needed her. I'm not blaming her about that. But a man has to spread his wings, fly over his house, not be tied down to it. She wanted to come along to California. I knew I needed more than settled domesticity. I was becoming middle aged, had never sown any wild oats or had adventures. I didn't want her questioning me."

"Women have no way of really understanding us, Mickey. I learned that early. No man can be blamed for being a man. One Christmas, even before I began in school, I received an enormous clown from my grandparents; it must have been about five feet high, of soft leather-like plastic, and weighted inside on the bottom by a bunch of small rolling balls so it always stood upright. Well, almost that clown taught me to be a man. It was taller than me. I began to punch it like a boxer with my fists and at that moment I began to know what being a man was all about. I knew then that I would have to punch my way, fight to reach my own height in it. I could feel manliness swell inside of me, radiating through my veins, enlarging me, readying me for the world. So what does Aunt Lorraine do when she passes by? Does she realize with awe the power I was receiving? No. She asks in passing, 'Do you want me to teach you how to read?' She said 'reading will open the whole world to you. You will find out about other times, far away places.' I mean, the whole realization of what life on earth is about was opening up to me and she asks me if I want to learn how to read. Another year or two I'd be strapped to a school desk, required to sit still, to keep quiet and she asks if I want her to rush it."

"Russell, she has no concept of life's toughness beyond the door of her own playroom. When I began to get interested in film, I told her 'The sword of Damocles hangs over me. It's war out there.' She said 'There's no war except the one you're making for yourself. Why didn't you stay put in your darkroom - here!'"

"What she's got is worse than a sheltered naivete, Mickey. I can tell you a doozy of a story. One day Lorraine called me over to point out a small metal door in the back wall of the playroom closet. It was about a foot square, the door and its bolt sealed by paint. Then she took me around to the other side of that wall which was in the kitchen. The wall was covered by a backless cupboard whose bottom cabinet opened to reveal a metal door in the wall exactly matching the first. It too was sealed shut. She imagined a wonderful mystery behind it so she asked me to help her get it open. I told her it was a sealed old heating duct from the disused coal cellar and I refused to bother to help her pry it open. She had placed her homework desk near the closet and every once-in-a-while she would try to pull open that bolted and sealed duct." She once told me, 'I can hear voices through that sealed door.' She said she heard a voice say 'Put up a new fence.' and another voice answered 'Done.' When she looked out the window the old fence was disappointingly still there but then the next week - there was the new fence." I said 'It was Grandpa talking in the cellar.' She said, 'No, I told him about the voices and he said 'That wasn't me, that was the spirit of my doppelganger planning a surprise.' I asked Lorraine 'Do you believe in doppelgangers?' She said, 'I believe voices can travel through time and space.' She's always searching for mysteries where they don't lie. I knew then her lack of a sense of reality was all of her own making. Her mind was just flights of fancy, mystical enthusiasms. There's no getting through to her. Of course she was a kid then, not much older than me, but she never grew up. Later she continued to use that same desk to write her mystical theorizings. One corner of the desk was stacked with her monthly Science For The Amateur magazines and the other corner piled with her mystical essays. She had ecstatic dreams of future achievements but - you know the story - there never was a payoff. About her its ...." He raised his palms outward in front of him, his entire body quivering with antipathy and appalled anger; he shook his head from side to side and he grimaced with a laugh that contained tears. "I knew by then she was no more than flights of fancy, unfounded enthusiasms. She was a kid then, not much older than me, but she never grew up." He slowly returned himself to a slumped composure, his eyes still moist.

Mickey sympathized with Russell's dismay by showing approval of Russell's judgement, reiterating the characteristic failings of their mutual acquaintance. "What did Lorraine study? Who does she know? "I'm glad we've gotten together again, Russell. It's just like old times. We should stick together. We think a lot alike, you and me; we ought to join forces."

"Your sense of the practical is strong, Mickey. I've been thinking how sharp you were to stick with internet based programming, not narrowing to the merely entertainment end. The internet opportunity is stronger since it has a broader base. It can always contract a video group. Video is continual expense for too infrequent a return. Constancy and long term survival - that's practicality."

The two friends had begun to walk to the door.

"Russell, the truth is, I don't want to get caught somewhere out in the boondocks. The internet group might have to settle for inroads in the sticks at this point. Your video group might have the answer. I can add my hands-on documentary expertise to your urbanity."

"When will the internet group be ready to roll Mickey?"

"Ummm, a few things have to be settled first buuuut I can give you a ball park figure." Mickey pursed his lips, his tongue pressed against his upper pallette. He turned up his eyes, calculating the time, "Mmmm..." His tongue clacked loudly on the roof of his mouth, forging the way for his voice to follow, "Clack. I guess ten or twelve weeks."

Standing in the doorway, Russell scratched his chin. "My video group needs at least a year and a half before they're in full swing. Meanwhile all I can do now is wait. Mickey, I don't mind the boondocks. I've only got this cabin anyway. I'm rearing to go. I've got high tech connections that'll make the metropolis come running to you. Let's keep each other on top of the list this time. We've got a long history together. I'll call soon. Let's call each other soon."

The two men stood shaking hands in the doorway. With nothing actually settled, it seemed to both like the parting was premature. Then Mickey's hunched shoulders swung toward the path as Russell pulled himself back behind the door frame. Mickey turned back to wave his arm in a second friendly goodbye. Russell closed the door with a heavy wooden thump and as the doorlock engaged with a loud clunk, there was heard, from an indistinct distance and vague direction, the clatter of a small metal door being shut against its metal frame and the snap of its metal bolt being shoved into place.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

A mini-drama


Lookat'er - A Slapstick Nursery Drama

By Roberta Schulberg aka Roberta SchulbergGoro


GRETCHEN: granddaughter to Holly, niece to Chuck, grandniece of Manero. She is grown but had lost her parents as a child.

HOLLY: grandmother to Gretchen , mother to Chuck, sister to Manero.

CHUCK: uncle to Gretchen, son of Holly, nephew of Manero.

DONNA: wife of Chuck, daughter-in-law of Holly, aunt of Gretchen through marriage to Chuck.

MANERO: Holly's brother, great uncle of Gretchen, uncle of Chuck.

NEIGHBOR: a stranger.


The stage is described as if seen from one front side only in order to maintain relationship among the four walls. The stage may be in the round. Livingroom is furnished sparsely but furniture is ornate in Rococco style, possibly gilded, suggesting empires. There are four varying rococco side side chairs roughly in a circle. There is a hassock more-or-less included in the chair circle, but it appears to be brushed aside. A door to Holly's room is in the right wall. The kitchen door is on the left wall toward the back, and near it, also on the left wall but more toward front of the stage, is the front door exit. In the left front darkened corner there is an indistinct shadowy structure. Although the corners of the stage are darkened, there is no indication of a spotlight at the center where the action is. 

In media which permit it, closeups of facial and figure gesture where appropriate. Gretchen's face is always visible from all viewpoints when the stage is seen in full view and therefore, when the stage is in-the-round, in semi-profile in relation to all four walls. Gretchen sits in livingroom side chair. Three other characters, Chuck, Donna, and Manero all sit roughly in a semi-circle or circle in side chairs facing Gretchen, leaning towards her. There is no other furniture. Holly is in a side room to right of stage. All family characters are very familiar with each other. Gretchen and Holly are relaxed. Others show nervous distress. Speech, gestures and action are performed briskly (allegretto) in an almost mechanical-metronomic, relentless, unbroken rhythmic way. Pauses are a part of, contained in the rhythm of the piece along with the words and the gestures as a single rhythmic movement. Although the words and pauses are in rhythm, they should not seem to verge from plain speaking. There is no actual instrumental music and no actual dancing. Withal it gives a very plain impression.

Play Opens

Gretchen sits in a livingroom side chair. Three other characters, Chuck, Donna, and Manero all sit in a semi-circle in side chairs facing Gretchen.

Chuck: Lookat'er. She doesn't do a thing.

Donna: Just sits there. Chuck, pull your chair in closer so she knows you're watching her.

Manero: (with distaste) Gretchen. Damn 'er, Lookat'er. She should be ashamed to have us all sit around watching her sit around doing nothing.

Chuck: Last week I worked for four straight hours before suppertime. By that meter's measure I've proved in ten minutes I'm six times her worth.  Lookat'er. We have to lose her.

Donna: Chuck, she's staring at me, lookat'er. She's upsetting me with her stare. She's doing it on purpose. Make her stop. Take a lookat'er.

Chuck: (to wife, Donna) "Stare"? The significant word is "share." Go on! Take a lookat'er. Is she entitled to a "share"? Our house has always proved its mettle and she is nothing worth. Rude! Obtuse! Our visit won't be long. Let's go to lunch without her.

All except Gretchen and Holly exit through the front door, leaving Gretchen alone on her chair and Holly in her room. After some moments representing a longer interval (room slowly, slightly, dims), the three visiting relatives make re-entrance through the front door, led by Manero who turns on the electric switch at the front door, making a loud click in the silence. Their voices are inaudible, but they appear to be talking excitedly with energetic gesticulations. There are sounds from shuffling feet, heel clicking, etc., their voices gradually becoming louder, an indecipherable babble which continues as they seat themselves on the chairs, not necessarily in the same order as before. Gretchen's face is always visible. When they are all seated (still babbling and gesturing), Gretchen opens her mouth as if to speak. All hush at once and turn their heads toward her as if expecting her to say something momentous.

Gretchen: (calmly and matter-of-factly): Would you like some lemonade?

Chuck leaps up erect and stiff as if at attention. With outstretched arm so tense that it, and in fact his whole body, quivers as he points a finger at his niece, Gretchen.

Chuck: (shouting) There it is! That's it. That's what made Mother sick. She gave acidic drinks to Mother!

Manero: And lookat'er. Still sitting.

Holly: (mellifluous from inside her room) Oh good, your back. Gretchen, put the kettle on for tea. Gretchen, serve the others first with Holland Rusks. Then bring some in to me.

Donna: (with surprised voice turning toward Holly's room): Oh! I see it's not yet over. We'll wait. ~ Later.

The right back corner of the room lightens just enough, subtly, to reveal an ornate burial casket in the corner on the floor of the room.

Donna: (repeating louder toward Holly's room) We'll wait! Later.

Gretchen: Grandma, I'll bring you yours now along with fried fish.

Gretchen rises and goes to kitchen, returns with a tray of food. She exits to room where Holly is. During Gretchen's walk, Manero stands up excitedly.

Manero: (to Gretchen): You know your grandma's sick. You know fried fish is bad for her.

As Manero speaks, Chuck quickly joins in standing. Chuck swivels head back and forth toward the others and points at Gretchen.

Chuck: (sarcastic) Oh, did everybody notice? She fried a tray of groupers. Isn't she industrious! Typical! Anti-social! Only taking care of herself. What did I tell yer? The solicitousness of the pretender. We ought to shake 'er off, lose 'er.

Manero's head bobbing-nods as he sits down.

Manero: (now sitting) And does she feel the labor overworked her? For supper, everyone, let's refuse to eat groupers.

A second plain pine burial casket appears on the floor next to the first.
Chuck sits down very erectly and alertly, nostrils flaring, his right arm across his thigh, hand in a fist as if holding a staff. The eyes of Donna and Manero close and open slowly, as if pensive, shaking their heads in sympathy for Grandma Holly.

Gretchen: (heard from inside Holly's room) Grandma, you know I made that fish because it's good for you.

Holly: Gretchen, I see what's going on. I'm holding it in and I keep it to myself, but I get angry.  Gretchen, dessert should be served with only one spoonful of sour cream.

Gretchen re-enters livingroom.

Holly: (calling from inside her room): Manero, the fish weren't crispy. Gretchen knows that I like crispy. And she pushed too much sour cream on me.

Manero: I don't like the way this house is being run. Chuck, I think we'll sell 'er.

Chuck: Agreed. We have to sell 'er.

Donna: (excitedly) Lets go and find out what we can get for 'er. How much would she bring in?

Chuck: Yes, we'll learn its price from our broker.

Holly pitter-patters into livingroom from her bedroom.

Holly: Chuck, when the house is sold I'll come and live with you.

Manero (To Holly): Holly, I told you that you're sick! Get in your bed, stay in your room, and don't you move out of it.

Holly pitter-patters back to her room.

Manero (to Gretchen): Gretchen - you're not needed, you go into retirement.

(to all:) I'll go down the cellar to get the deed and go out the back door to the broker.

Manero walks to first coffin and lifts its lid which serves as the cellar hatch. He climbs down into cellar.

Gretchen: Where should I go?

Chuck (To Gretchen): Lookat'er. I don't know where you'll go, not carrying your own weight. You don't prove your mettle. And even now, lookat'er - still sitting.

Chuck (to Donna with evident pride in Donna): Now, Donna, tell to Gretchen what Mother should have for dinner.

Donna stands.

Donna (Speaking to Gretchen): Gretchen, for dinner give her a soft boiled egg and a plain slice of bread through the toaster. Only one egg. Too much protein's a strain. Don't cook it to indigestible hardness. Not too many calories - tea, but no sugar. And nothing sour.  Mother should have been given lunch at an earlier hour. Gretchen neglects her. Gretchen, you have a bad effect; you've been too long with her.

With triumphant expression after speaking, Donna breathes heavily and sits. Chuck puffs up with silent pride, nodding with approval to Donna.

Manero returns, lifts cellar hatch and listens.

Holly (from her room): Good, Donna, I want to keep my figure. Gretchen, for dinner a souffle made with but one egg and a single slice of cheese.

Manero (from hatch): Gretchen, you make mother that soft-boiled egg.

Holly (from her room): Donna, you're a good girl; you have the soft boiled egg.

Donna (calling to Holly): But I'm going out to dinner. (To Chuck): If she doesn't eat the egg, I'll throw it out for her. Gretchen, you're a waster.

Manero: That's just it. And Gretchen's indulgence makes Holly sicker. Holly's diet should be stricter. In Her condition, vegetables only are what's good for her.

Holly (from inside her room): Vegetables make me bloated and gassy. I eat like a bird. Merely a taster. In fact, I could do without food.

Chuck (lips quivering): That's Mother. Dearly beloved. A self-sacrificer. Lets leave Gretchen with her while we go out to dinner. I'll take the vegetables home when we leave.

Manero gestures from cellar hatch to Donna and Chuck to follow him down.

Manero (from cellar hatch): The real-estate agent has a ready buyer, a neighbor with an identical house on the other side of the field. We'll meet in his house, sign this one over and then we'll go out to dinner.

Manero ( turning toward Gretchen): You are to be informed by the broker when you must leave. Not yet.

Chuck (calling to Holly as if calling across a canyon): Mother, we're leaving.

Chuck and Donna leave with Manero through the cellar door.
Gretchen sits still on her chair for approx. 20 relaxed, silent seconds.

Holly (from other room): Well, where are they?

Gretchen: They've gone to meet at the buyers house. And then they're going out to dinner.

Holly: They're all grown up and still I have to look after them. It's been years since they've been to these fields and the unmarked paths do meander.
Holly walks into livingroom.
Follow me. I still remember the way.

Holly and Gretchen leave the stage through cellar hatch.

After a few moments Holly and Gretchen come stampeding onto the stage through the front door and look around the room.

Gretchen: One could scarcely find the path at all, but this must be the place. Amazing, how exactly this room matches ours. Are you sure this house isn't ours?  When new, was the furniture part of the sale?

Holly: I don't know. These houses are older than me.

Gretchen, moving around, looking, notices there is no cellar hatch.

Gretchen: Oh, I see. This house is not ours. The furniture is identical, but this one hasn't a cellar.

Holly: Well then, this one isn't as good. That explains the neighbor's interest in ours.

Gretchen walks to the kitchen.

Gretchen (from the kitchen): Grandma, in the kitchen there's a stair to the basement.

Gretchen returns.

Holly: I prefer the cellar hatch. When Chuck was small he climbed up and down the hatch and would run in-and-out through the back door.

Gretchen: But now he's not little and he would rather sell.

Holly: I'll go live with Chuck.

Gretchen: Where should I go?

Neighbor opens front door and steps into the room.

Neighbor: Sorry to barge in like this. I've come here to their house in search of Chuck and Manero. We have an appointment to meet at my house to settle the sale of their property to me.

Gretchen: But this is not their property. Isn't this your house? It's not their house. And this is not our house. We thought it was your house.

Neighbor looks around and up to ceiling in the corner where the cellar was located in the first house.

Neighbor: But this is not my house. (pointing) Look, there's no attic hatch in the ceiling. My house has an attic hatch in the ceiling over there in that corner.

Holly: We've never had a house with an attic hatch. Do you mean the stairs to the upper floor?

Neighbor: I have no upper floor in my house.

Holly: This house has an upper floor. Over there is the stairs.

The contraption at left front of stage, barely seen before, is now a bit more lit and can be recognized as an open stairway leading to an upper floor.

Neighbor: No hatch! A stairway! No, this house isn't mine. I don't want to be late for the meeting. I'd better go search for my house.

Neighbor walks out through front door, the way he came in.

Gretchen: (to Holly): Will Uncles Manero and Chuck find us? Have we lost our way?

Holly: What do you mean "lose our way?" This way will do as well. No point in your fretting about Donna, Chuck or Manero. They'll go out to a restaurant and then they're going home. They don't want to be distressed by you. They won't be coming here.

Gretchen sits down in one of the side chairs.

Holly (after a brief pause, shivering): All these doors opening and closing. Gretchen, get yourself up and climb the stairs. Bring me my shawl.

Gretchen rises and walks upstairs. Holly turns and starts to walk to her room.

Gretchen comes down the stairs, walks over and hands cloak to Holly as Holly continues her walk to her room.

Holly: But this is not the shawl I want. The shawl I asked for is in a chest, upstairs, in the large bedroom under the bed. Are you too lazy to climb the stairs?

Gretchen: But Grandma, there were no shawls in the bedrooms. I found it upstairs in the attic.

Holly (continuing to walk to her room): Up in the attic?

Holly halts for a moment and widens her eyes, puts the cloak on her shoulders and then continues to walk toward her room.

Holly: Well then, it will have to do. Gretchen, stop dawdling. I'll have veal cutlets for supper with spinach in hot sour cream garlic sauce. For dessert, apple tart. Bring it all with a tall lemonade.

Gretchen: It's early. I'll have it ready by seven.
Gretchen pulls over the hassock and returns to her chair. She puts her feet up on the hassock.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Here is a bauble which I wrote in the past week:



Life is really so much more than this. Thus spoke THANE.  Yes, agreed THINE, it must be so much more than this.

If, THINE thought, THANE hadn't witnessed that it was so much more, THANE would not strain to reach that so much more despite THANE's suffering the weakening resentments which impair his lofty commanding attitude, mar his rigid countenance with grimaces, and diminish THANE's strength for hurdling that wall which keeps the so much more out-or-in and keeps THANE from reaching the so-much more in-or-out.

THANE, always solicitous of THINE's well-being and attempting to assuage that which he felt to be THINE'S overly-emotional grief, instructed THINE thusly: There is no reason for resentment, and therefore have I none. Neither should thee in thy lack of contentment, for I have been up and down this great wide world, which has a length of at least a hundred leagues, and I have seen that overwhelming dissatisfaction envelops all. There is nothing earthly which can be done to change this from the way it is.

Then THANE proved to thine how much them are able to sit on top of that wall to peer and observe, instructing THINE that as and when THANE looks:

Hates sparrows who refuse the dictum, "fall!"
Hates women (or would if Thane had any and weren't just pretending)
Hates men (or would if Thane had any and weren't just pretending)
Hates taxes (although Thane has no money to pay any and has been receiving a pension for superior services rendered at an earlier time, said time being nothing and nowhere good.)
Hates government (in which, once, all walked about freely but in which each and every Thane found hampering Thane's freedom to boss around each and every other Thane and Thine.)

Thus, proved THANE, there is no cause for resentment for there is no more than this so-much-less-than-life anywhere or anyhow and I have seen it all.

Then THINE, being of multifaceted questioning and thus more inclined to the dependent simplicities of those who ask many questions of others, queried: "If there's nothing so-much-more beyond that wall, and nothing so-much-more here or then, where was or is Life so much more than this?"

THANE and THINE pondered. Then THINE suggested guardedly that they ask THUSLY for an opinion. THANE summarily but tenderly replied, thou knowest I am wary of the opinion of clerical scholars. THINE, in defense of THINE'S own suggestion, answered, "But thou hast the greatness to resist those suggestions as would offer danger or offense." THANE replied, "Oh but it's not about myself that I worry. I fear such influence on thee." "THINE, with long piercing glance at THANE, answered "Thou art the THANE. I am THINE. Fear not. We will learn together what is good for overcoming dissatisfaction."

So THANE called upon THUSLY and explained the despondency suffered by THANE and THINE, reminding all THUSLY sternly that THUSLY must tell to them, if THUSLY knowest what's good for them, in a way pleasant to the understanding of THANE and THINE who were not as learned as THUSLY.

THUSLY then dutifully called together all the clericals and secretaries and upon reaching the wall, THUSLY, nervous to answer among such elevated company as THANE and THINE, spoke as follows, "Seldom are we brought to speak in such magnified company but we will speak justly, in a forthright manner lest ye believe that we, who serve faithfully in hardship and threat of every kind, are cowardly to face bravely the ears of THANE and THINE. We do value our lives highly, and though this subject holds danger, we will humbly submit our answer as is suitable to our station, begging ye of sufferance."

Then THUSLY, focusing attention over the wall at all the mistakes of THANE's and THINE's dissatisfied neighbors over all the earth of at least a hundred leagues, discussed simply, as was suitable to THUSLY's position, where or when life is, was, or could be better:

"Maybe, said THUSLY modestly, if SWAGBAG gaped in wonder into a microscope instead of at the number of glittering facets on a neighbors brooch or if THEYSAY pondered how it is that both Adam and Eve have the same number of ribs and did both or either of them at any time, before or after Genesis, have an uneven or unfair number? Or in other words, wondered about the force that made us exist this side of the wall where, once in a while, something good comes up---
Maybe then."

"Maybe, if PUSH shoved notes or colors around to make compositions instead of forcing persons into patterns not of their own choosing or SHOVE pushed words or numbers around instead of trying to redeploy persons away from their own interests into SHOVE'S services---
Maybe then."

"Maybe if TURN YOUR BACK AND WALK AWAY would say "What did you say just then?" to WHY DON'T YOU SPEAK WITH ME and if TURN pointed out the constellations in the night sky to SPEAK as they walk side-by-side in the fields and SPEAK explains to TURN as they walk side-by-side in the fields, how the color of flowers sometimes depends on the nutrients in the soil---
Maybe then."

"Maybe if PIN MONEY's earnings were allowed to grow into sawbucks and MONEY BELT noticed that that didn't actually cut a midriff in the bonds of holy matrimony and MONEY BELT thereby escaped having to put in overtime and began attending the drama alongside SAWBUCKS and SAWBUCKS began having the time to gnaw hotdogs alongside MONEY BELT at the Sport Stadium because MONEY BELT washed the floor while SAWBUCKS did the laundry---
Maybe then."

"Maybe if I'LL BE DAMNED IF I'LL CONTINUE TO WASTE ALL MY ENERGIES IN A KITCHEN and I'LL BE DAMNED IF I'LL SPEND ANY OF MY ENERGIES IN A KITCHEN come to new terms of agreement, Nature will reveal the answer that lay beyond the wonder of Agur, pious liege of Great Solomon, who lamented in proverbs submitted to Solomon, that after the "ship in the midst of a sea," Agur understood not "the way of a man with a woman."  Then ALL and ANY, with Nature's mystery revealed, and seeing eye to eye with new regard, might find themselves emerging into new sensibilities, making goo goo eyes at one another as he dries the dishes (which is really unnecessary because air-dried is more hygienic. But hell! Life isn't all hygiene.)---
Maybe then.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

July 10, 2011

Sorry this month's post was delayed. On the way I was cut off by a herd of playing interlopes.

Here is a poem and its illustration which I had started a few years ago. The poem is based on actual events to which I was witness, but I gave it a title which ties it to some well-known historical events and links it to the song The Battle Hymn of the Republic. I dropped both poem and illustration and let them lie fallow for many months. I returned to both these past few weeks. They were started at the same time and finished together today.

I would like to remind readers that pictures, like poems are metaphorical. At this event there actually was no punching (sorta*).
*A slang word with a connotation of "metaphorical."

I hope everyone had a jubilant 4th of July.


Roberta SchulbergGoro

"I tend to be moralistic.
"My mouthings annoy
"As if I hadn't the right to speak."
"You think you've earned the right to speak?"
"I'm not sure I've earned the right, but I know I've got it."
"A right to as-you-will, tendentious dogmatic ranting?"
"And you consider your provocations moral?"

"Curmudgeon, teaching for teaching, we'll even the score.
"We'll hand you our tutelage and pin on you your shame.
"We'll teach you how such "free" speech feels.
"Our lessons can shut you up."
"Now, Do you still persist in self-opinionated prattle, off-the-cuff, do-it-yourself moralistics?"
"Eccentric spates, make-shift, biased, extemporaneous didactics?"

"Scold, think about it. Your conscience. Are you good?"
"I'm moral. But not good.
"For example, I went for days not washing the kitchen floor.
"My wages don't swell me with pride in welcome partaking with others.
"I don't run for the phone, I let the answer machine to do it
"An obvious lack of personal attention inconveniencing the caller.
"I haven't chosen a nursing profession or other such public service,
"So I know I'm not endearingly good."
"Still claiming to be moral?"
"Advising ideosyncratic moralistics?"

"Think you're better than others?"
"No more than anyone else."
"We know how to cut you down until you know you're worse."
"Now do you feel better?"
"No, I'm feeling worse."
"Still challenging doctrines more daunting?
"Prating moralistics?"

"You're not humble."
"Yes, I know."
"We'll beat you 'til you're humble and recognize your place;
"Until you're broken and brought to the edge of the grave."
"See that place?"
"My eyes are open."
"Still spouting contrived moralistics?"
Self-willful speech is moral?"

"Continuing public diatribes?"
"Silencing splits tribes, not speech.
"More sustaining than false harmony is contest in dispute.
"Those who silence opinion despise their world
"And their world love THEM it don't!"
"Love THEM 'it don't' and your moral?"
"Not love THEM, who shepherd the world?"
"Yeah, but neither are they silenced.
"It's those not enfolded in love who force silence, denying reciprocant ear.
"Yeah. It's speech heard that girds reciprocant ears."


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Legend of Big Mouth

Happy June, 2011

This month's post needs another week or two to complete. I'll tell you about it when we get there, but to keep our beginning-of-the-month's appointment, here is a cartoon I did way back in 2007.
--- Roberta

Saturday, April 30, 2011

This was written this April, 2011


She was but six when she turned a leaf
To show me her first writings.
My well-loved child wrote of spinning drifts of leaves
On windy corners when we took ~together
To her school, our wintery weather city walks.

I was all delight in praise,
But soon she closed her book to me,
Withdrawing with her schoolmates to a turbulance of secrecy.
The whirl was palpable that funnelled her from me
In tight-lipped partial leaving
Following her school's "Abjure ivory towers; socialization is the key,"
Which she took to mean "Focus on classmate socializing in after-school and weekend party revelry."

My child's spirit wafted away when she was only ten.
Only a floundering child still, when she fluttered from the stem.
After many years of probe and search in the torque of time's multiplex turbine
We met again.
Just briefly.
And that was when,
With shoulder shrug, hand brushing the air, her breezy answer was given;
She said, "I doubt we can live in the same city together" and did leave again.