Sound Words

photo by E.Z.

The beauty of summer doesn’t come without some loud, ugly sounds.

Lawn mowers, leaf blowers and after Hurrican Isiasis a few weeks ago, chain saws and generators. It seems just when you decide to make a phone call or have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine on the patio, some motor begins whining. Buzzing. Droning. Irritating. Incessantly. Starting. Stopping. Ear-piercing.

However, interestingly, the unit used to measure sound is quite pleasant. Decibel… Decibel… Decibel…

I doubt I’ll remember that the next time the cacophony begins, but I  might give one of my characters with an anger issue a leaf blower to contend with when on an important phone call. Let’s see how they handle that!

Swans a Swimming and a Walking

photo by E.Z.

I saw nearly a hundred swan on a nearby pond this summer and earlier this week I saw a couple dozen on a bay.  Before this, I’d never seen more than two swans together. They’re elegant birds. I thought of clothing designer Gloria Vanderbilt’s swan logo, the ballet Swan Lake, a swan song, and the Twelve Days of Christmas’s Seven Swans a Swimming.

One stepped onto the beach in front of me and it was the first time I’d seen a swan out of the water. I was struck by the feet: large, powerful, black, reminding me of a fisherman’s boots. The neck stretched longer than I could have imagined. It looked like a different bird. I was amazed. I’d been treated to a new view of a swan and that was exciting.

photo by E.Z.

Distortions & Perceptions

Just had my first “pandemic“ lunch out. The rules explained by the hostess were simple: masks required when moving around the restaurant and the table was ours for 90 minutes. Though unfathomable at the beginning of 2020,  I was more than happy to follow their rules if it meant I could be out with friends and not have to cook. I felt so free 

Once settled, I enjoyed a few moments looking out the large rain spattered windows taking in the choppy waters of the New England bay on the grayest of days and I was gratefulI scanned the restaurant seeing people indoors and unmasked in public for the first time. At the closest table to us off to the right, some thirty feet away, an older couple laughed and chatted. The man had gray hair and a kind face. The woman looked approachable and helpful, like someone you’d ask for directions. Then I noticed her ankle and said to my companions, “The woman over there is wearing an ankle bracelet. Like from jail.” They looked and agreed. I suppose she’s feeling free too, I thought.  

Throughout lunch I’d occasionally glance over at the woman trying to figure out what crime she may have committed. I came up empty. A puzzle I couldn’t solve 

Finally, the couple got up to leave. I stared at them looking for clues. Now that her leg was in full view, I had a better idea of what she may have done. Seems that to my untrained eye, an ankle monitor looks a lot like the bottom part of a leg brace people often wear after knee surgery  

Shadowy Colors

Checking out a palette of brown eye shadow, I laughed at the color names printed below each pressed powder square:   

photo by E.Z.


Foxy                Half Baked        Booty Call

Chopper         Tease                  Snakebite 

Suspect          Pistol                  Verve 

YDK               Busted                 Blackout  

That’s a cosmetic company with imagination!  Unlike crayon names (such as apricot, scarlet, and carnation pink)  the shadow names give no inkling what the color might be. Couldn’t guess that Chopper is bronze and shimmery and Snakebite is similar just darker. Though Blackout is black and Pistol is gunmetal gray.  

So I won’t be able to use these to describe a heroine’s hair as Snakebite or her leather jacket as Suspect or her hair as Booty Call. But I’m inspired to write a short story about a Foxy, Half Baked heroine wearing Blackout colored eyeshadow who gets Busted with an illegal Pistol who escapes custody by Teasing a guard then fleeing in a Chopper. That’s a woman with some Verve. YDK… it could happen.  

His Smoking Was Good for Me

Just outside the grocery store I noticed a man without a mask. Surprising these days to see entire faces in public. As I walked to my car, I smelled why he was unmasked. I breathed in ripe cherry tobacco and it unlocked a childhood memory of my father packing his burgundy colored pipe and smoking on dark winter evenings. The scent was identical and comforting. I turned back looking for the man, looking for a pipe… but it was a cigar.

Lawn Ornament Virgin

photo by e. zahn

Lately on my neighborhood walks, I’ve found myself spying deeper into people’s lawns, flowerbeds, and entryways. Must be I’m subconsciously seeking stimulation I was easily getting elsewhere pre-Covid.

Unexpectedly, I’m seeing lots of lawn ornaments and statues. So far, angels, ducks, geese, and the Virgin Mary are the standouts.

For someone who’s never owned a lawn ornament, I spin off wondering how do people pick? A turtle or a bear, the Virgin Mary or a squirrel, a mushroom or St. Anthony. And for others, where will they stop?

Problem Solved

photo by e. zahn

Woman on her cell phone in the optometrist’s waiting room was talking loudly.

“She’s being a real pain. She hates all the glasses. She’s tried all of them. She’s beside herself. I don’t know what else to f***ing do. So I’m done…………Ok.” She hangs up.

A sulking teenage girl comes from down the hall and sits next to the woman.

“I’m frustrated,” the girl says.

“Why?” her mother asks calmly.

“I don’t like any of the glasses,” she whines.

Her mother sighs.

“I don’t want Grandma helping me again.”

“Why not.”

“She’s annoying.”


“She just is.”

“She’s a good shopper. She can uncover anything. She’s going to help you find glasses!”

“She’s still annoying.”


Tea Time

photo by e. zahn

Five days after the storm, a neighbor headed out to her mailbox but changed her mind. Waiting in the mailbox was work that would fill her afternoon. So she decided to first quietly finish her cup of tea. As she sipped, she watched an enormous tree limb, crash down in front of the mailbox, filling the street and blocking her driveway. A few minutes later when I saw her, she was stunned. Silent. Saved.  (Four of us couldn’t move the limb out of the way.)

NOTE: Tropical storm Isiasis hit Long Island hard on 8/4/2020.  Strong winds toppled thousands of trees and brought down countless branches and limbs. About 300,000 people lost power here and as of 8/10, estimates are that 25,000 people remain without.