And the Woman Smiled

"And the Woman Smiled" is the title of a debut poetry book which traces experiences from girlhood to adult, and beyond.  Published in my nom de plum, Gianna B. Reid, it is available on Amazon.
Amazon Link

 Here is a sample poem:

When I was a little girl,
I believed trees created wind.
The frantic motion of the branches was empirical proof.
The howling confirmed it more.
I thought if trees could just be still, the winds
of march and November gusts would cease.
Now I am older, wiser.
Wind is because everyone is talking at once.

And the Woman Smiled© Gianna B. Reid 2017

Where the Path May Lead


     There’s an elderly woman who lives a few houses down from me.  She appears to be about 85, short, stout, full of energy.  Today on what felt like one of the coldest in February, 20 degrees with a wind chill of 19 mph, our paths crossed while walking. We greeted one another with an enthusiastic “Hello how are you!” 
     She quickly replied, “As long as we’re able to walk, we’re doing okay.”
     We continued in our opposite directions, tugging at our collars and burying our hands deep within our coat pockets.  Even with the wall-to-wall sunshine the cold temperatures quickened my pace. And just like that, her one sentence stuck in my mind all the way home because I knew there were times when I could not walk.  Flu has kept me flat on my back twice; infrequent bouts of vertigo; oral surgeries, assorted viruses; migraines; and more recently a fractured ankle.  From this list you may think, “This lady isn’t so well.”
     On the contrary, I consider my overall good health as a blessing.  My walking feet have served me for years. Going to from work 4 miles each way when I didn’t have transportation; walking in a blizzard to attend a memorial service 5 miles round trip; enjoying a stroll on a stretch of beach; regularly meeting friends for what we call a “walk-and-talk”; Walk like M.A.D.D. fund raiser; once walked across an icy expanse to assist a frail woman to safety, walked down the aisle; walked my child to school; walking through a museum; hiking in the woods; and these days plenty of walking while at work in the library. The walking list travels as many miles as I have.
     Where have you walked today?  I never heard anyone regret when they took a walk.  


     When I awoke this morning I felt my age of somewhere between the beginning of time and the present.  Peeked outside to see a feast.   
A perfect morning with bright sunlight, a virgin snowfall, and the sky a deep sea blue.  So what it was 19 degrees.  So what if the wind made it feel like 6.  Two pairs of pants, layers of sweaters, two pairs of gloves, heavy jacket, scarf and boots made it feel almost like summer.  
     A 12 year old kid grabbed her surf snowboard and headed toward the hill behind a nearby school. There were only two other children there with their dad.  After several sweeps into the soft powder, I asked for a quick photo. Immediately after there was more surfing, climbing the hill, and some hoots of excitement.
     The snow hugged the trees and carpeted the road, and allowed me to grasp a wisp of youth.

The Left-Handed Woman’s Tool Box

     This may have little to do with being left-handed than just plain resourcefulness. But a single steak knife has helped this lefty through the years to put up curtain rods; open stubborn lids; unscrew nuts and bolts; prep holes in the wall to hang pictures; and oh yes, to cut meat, and the usual chores associated with a steak knife.  Not adept at using some of the right-handed tools had forced me to depend on a steak knife.
     However, the other day I heard something that became a lightning bolt of difference when attempting to loosen and replace a light bulb. A friend said, “lefty-loosey, righty-tighty.”
     First, I was sure she said “Lefty Lucy” which was unfamiliar to me because for years as a youngster I was called “Lefty Louie” by a neighbor of my parents.  That nick-name took a while for me to unravel when as a teen I finally learned it was a term of endearment for the great Yankee ball player, Lou Gehrig. 
     Left-handed people are the least understood minorities in the world.  Even everyday language is steeped with negative lefty remarks: Who wants leftovers?  It sounds like sloppy seconds.  No one wants to be left behind. Anyone who is labeled left-winged is considered politically skewed toward radicalism.  Most people stay clear of dance partners with two left feet.  And I don’t really care for left-handed compliments no matter how well intentioned. 
     Getting back to “lefty loosey” and “right tighty” the other day my shower head snapped from the spigot just as I adjusted its angle.  A force of water gushed out in a single stream across my face like a fire hose. I was able to shut the water off with my foot to inspect what appeared to be a calcified ring that would require a wrench of some sort to loosen. Something told me this would not be a job for the steak knife.
     Once at the hardware store I was told the ring I saw was just plumbing tape that prevents the joint from leaking.  Tape? This was beginning to sound promising. From that point I tried not to listen as the store clerk went on to say that ratchet pliers were needed to apply just enough pressure to remove the tape without crushing it further or pulling on the spigot. Things were becoming too complicated. I quickly purchased a new shower head and plumbing tape, went straight home, grabbed my steak knife ready for the attack and in less than a minute the old tape was sawed off in pieces and the spigot was ready for a new shower head.
     I repeated aloud “lefty-loosey” “right-tighty” to successfully replace the shower head.  Say what you may, but I credit the steak knife for making the task so much easier for this left-handed woman.

Coco: a furry feline friend

First Hug
     Fourteen years ago, I adopted two kittens, litter mates, Coco and Mango.  Coco was the delicate brother, the runt of the litter.  He appeared aloof but allowed me to scoop him into my arms for a first hug.  I loved his snow white boots and white chest. He was a handsome cat. We instantly knew we were meant to be together.
     The first years brought a flurry of gymnastics between Coco and Mango.  They tackled and stalked one another, played endlessly with anything that moved, and their curiosity was boundless, from ordinary household items to the majesty of a sunrise.
This photo was published in The Record, May 2002.
            Mr. Coco had a habit of running out the door whenever he could.  H knew he wasn't meant to be a house cat but a fearless hunter roaming the grass and bushes.  It would sometimes take an hour to retrieve him back to the safety of the home.  Ironically, he would cry while he was outside and once back to cozy comfort, would settle down with food and water, groom himself, purr, and fall into a deep satisfied sleep.
      Mango and Coco shared an unspoken alliance most of the time. One that only a cat could understand.  They didn't sleep together or groom one another but they enjoyed the presence of each other's company.


      Every evening they waited patiently by the kitchen window like two soldiers for my return after work.  It melted my heart to see their sweet little faces...though God only knew what they did while unattended!   But when Mr. Coco wanted to show that he wasn't pleased about something, he never hesitated to display his feelings to me or Mango.

    Here, with his ears pointed outward, he managed to sit long enough for me to snap this picture.  It was as if he was saying,  "You better make this quick 'cause I'm outta here."
          As time marched on, it was clear that Mango was the Alpha Male. Even though Coco showed more traditional feline features and was a better jumper, he intuitively knew his place in the pecking order.  For this reason, I often gave Coco plenty of TLC whenever Mango wasn't looking.  
Mr. Coco had beautiful classic cat curves.
     It wasn't easy to say good-bye to Coco after 14 years.  Why it was just last summer when he cradled next to me while I was convalescing from a fractured ankle. He sensed I wasn't myself, (of course hopping around and using crutches may have had a lot to do with it.)  We fell asleep on the couch together each bringing comfort to the other.  But now there was nothing I could do to comfort Coco.
Mr. Coco August 2016
He was suffering and there was no longer quality of life. Every movement he made took his breath away and recovery grew longer and longer. Mr. Coco passed away peacefully, August 18, 2016. Thank you, 
Dr. Anton Stenzler and the Pearl River Animal Hospital staff for your professional care, guidance and kindness.

Final Note:
     I am well aware of far more tragic global occurrences and the loss of close family members.  This post merely shows how a pet became part of the family, part of my life, brought laughter, comfort, and tears.