Mood Indigo


This week I  reflect on our last several years. Let me know what you think of these short stories. Is your life changing now that there are fewer restrictions?


Mood Indigo  

Harry put a dozen potatoes in the basket. “I‘ll fix these for supper. We’ll celebrate the garden’s end”.  Even Harry’s voice sounded cold. They lined winter squash in the barn floor, under where the garlic & onions already hung to dry. The temperature had been dropping all afternoon. The sun was behind the clouds, and suppertime wasn’t so far away. It was cold work, tending the garden. But the spuds and squash- they were grand. They’d last until the spring.

Inside the house, it was cool enough to light the first fire. Sharon brought in an armload of kindling and a couple pieces of cherry wood and began the first blaze of the season. She was too tired to think about cooking, and didn’t Harry say he’d be up for it? 

Harry was a fine cook when he put his mind to it. He had spent an Autumn in Galicia Spain, and had a few Spanish potato tricks up his sleeve. He usually didn’t enjoy cooking, but he did have a knack.

In the cupboard, he found the end of the white wine, onions, and garlic. Harry pulled them out and sliced the spuds, and put them in chicken broth to simmer.  Ahh, didn’t that smell good!

Harry cut up several more potatoes, nice and thin, poured oil in the cast iron skillet, and began to fry them, then added onions and one red pepper.  By now the potatoes in the broth were soft. He gently mashed the spuds into the broth and added a bit of the onion and the white wine.  He sprinkled salt, pepper, and a few peas into it, and tasted it. Delicious, and ready. Harry put the lid on, to keep it warm.

Now he pulled out four eggs and whipped them around. Pulling out the smaller skillet, he ” loaded it with fried potatoes, pepper, and onions, then poured the eggs over it all. The smell of it all had Sharon call out from her warm bath “When is supper ?” But you can’t hurry a Spanish tortilla, it takes time, and it takes a master to flip it without losing the innards. Harry flipped it out onto a plate, then slid it back into the pan.  “Almost ready,” he called.  He set the table, lit candles, and poured wine. Harry made a centerpiece with a statue and flowers.  It wasn’t really his thing, but he was in that sort of mood tonight. Today had been good, and his feet had finally warmed up.  Last, he picked out a CD and slid it into the player.

Harry sat at the kitchen table and looked out into the yard as twilight fell.  It had been the strangest spring and summer of his life. Like living in a science fiction book, one that you didn’t want to read. They had canceled their travel plans early on, thinking they’d be able to visit their families in the late fall.  But the pandemic was stronger than expected. Even so,  only two people they knew well had fallen sick with it, thank God. But wasn’t that a funny one, too. Their hometown, 80 miles away, was a stronghold for the illness now.  

 Even church services were on Zoom now. Tomorrow they were attending a UTube burial service. The man had been a work friend.  All they could do for his family, in his last days,  was offer to pick up what was needed and leave them on a table by the door for Clare, his wife, to take inside. 

Sharon came into the room. Harry lifted his head, caught her in his arms, and drew her into a dance in the dimness of the candlelit room. They moved to Mood Indigo. Harry pulled her close.

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A Short Story This Week

The Party  

It was a virtual birthday party. The group of friends had gathered each September to celebrate their mutual Libra birthdays. They’d go out, have drinks, dinner, and enjoy an almost carefree night off from responsibility. This year was different. Anna was turning 50, the first of them to make the half-century mark.  Before Covid hit, she and her husband Conner had separated, him going off on a vacation tour of Croatia, her to deal with the repercussions and anger with their not-so-young children. And while he’d been prancing about off the coast of Croatia, the borders began closing, one by one. 

She’d held on to half-time work.  She heard from him once. A guilt postcard. She finally sorted through what Conner left. His out-of-season clothes were all packed in trash bags in the attic.  She tossed out his favorite stupid biscuits, old socks, and trice-read paperback novels.

Anna replaced his battered bookcase with a sleek table with shelves underneath, from Ikea.  She put a tray on the top and had her bottle of wine with a couple glasses at the ready. When covid cocooning ended, she’d imagined herself pouring drinks from this new perch, herself feeling like quite the new woman when that time arrived.  

Thus far, she’d made a couple pots of jasmine tea when her daughter Maura visited. Maura was just into her first apartment with her best friend and would come home to visit once a week. Anna tried to put on a good face for the first few months, but Maura wasn’t fooled. Mom was devastated. Dad? Well, he’d better not show his face. The bastard! Off in Bolivia, it turned out, with a woman, not Croatia at all!

And so the group of birthday friends, together since school, wanted to be together for this journey into the fifties, amid all the confusion of cocooning and covid. 

They planned well. Everyone had a good bottle of something they had hung onto for a special event. They’d have a virtual party on Zoom. They all opened said bottles, kept enough for themselves to drink, and delivered the bottle with its remains ( at least 2/3 full) to Anna’s front door.  She had a special bin set out for deliveries.

Anna ended up with several bottles of wine, one of whiskey, a cognac, and some handmade vodka.  On the night of the virtual party, Anna set up the bar with all her bottles and washed her best glasses. The glass gleamed in the candlelight. They all dressed for the occasion even though it was Zoom.  Anna went Spanish for the occasion and made tapas. She sautéed Padron peppers, sliced chorizo, cheese, and set out olives. Then She set up small plates for her friends, almost like an altar offering.

It cut her to the quick to not be able to sit and feel her friends press into her with birthday hugs, to tell her being together was better than the fiftieth birthday holiday she had planned with Conner. When she thought of Conner, doing God knows what in Bolivia—well, her heart fell into her feet still. So she closed her mind to that for tonight.

At 7:30 the Zoom began. There was a quiet hush as the group took in Amy’s new living room, all signs of Conner gone. One by one they toasted the birthday girl, pouring their classes full. They all nibbled a bit and began to recite remembrances, their first dates, leaving school together, and their first holidays after they all began to work. Enough years had passed since then so the three of them now had grown kids. Without noticing they had transitioned from being on the cusp of new adventures to watching their children arrive in that place.

They raised their glasses, their eyes met over Zoom, and there were no words needed. There was love.  Just love. 

Elaine Reardon

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A Cousin Survived the Armenian Genocide

When I was perhaps four years old there was a knock at our front door. When the door opened our world changed. My Grandmother’s favorite cousin found her-us! He thought everyone in his family died, and for years hadn’t been able to find anyone. He’d been at a school run by monks, and they kept him and brought him up when he was orphaned. He later became a traveling monk, and I found a photo of him traveling the mountains of Syria with his donkey. From this tenuous beginning, he studied and lived at the Mekhitarist Monastery on San Lazzaro degli Armeni in Venice. He became the bishop that he was when I met him. At that time he worked as an assistant to the Pope and lived in the Vatican. He brought Armenian priests to the United States, and he finally found us. He lit our lives up the way candles warm a dark room, especially for my grandmother. I don’t think I ever saw her as happy as when he taught her to make foods that seemed so foreign and strange, like spaghetti sauce, long noodles, and then lasagna. I remember their heads bowed together over the cooking pot on the stove. This poem is about one of those visits.

Father Joseph (left) went on to Detroit, and Father Luke Arakelian became a priest at the Holy Cross Church in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA after funds were raised to build it. My relative, (the title is pronounced Bathabed) Father Kevont, is in the center. One special thing about them is that while they were scholars and holy men, they also were wonderful playmates and great fun. Father Luke remained among my closest friends for the rest of his life.

The First Time

It was a year since his last visit, and

he came from Rome. His gift was

something we had never seen.

In the kitchen he instructed 

Gram, both their heads bowed over the pot

until our meal was ready. We sat at the table

shoulder to shoulder and said grace, 

Father Kevont at the head of the table.

He lifted his fork and instructed put the fork in,

roll it around, then lift it up. His fork rose

with neat strands of spaghetti twirled securely

covered with just the right amount of sauce.

We watched and one by one we twisted 

our own forks into the longest noodles 

we had ever seen, becoming adept enough 

to lift them to our mouths. 

It was our first time eating spaghetti. I imagined 

all the Cardinals at the Vatican sitting silently

at the dining table, twisting strands of long

noodles around their forks as they prayed.

Does your family have photos and stories of surviving the genocide? I invite you to share them with me. If you hit follow and reply, you’ll have a place to contact me. Surviving is the first step, and healing from trauma is next. In between we may come to realize the trauma or ptsd is intergenerational.

May all being live in safety


Elaine Reardon (Sahagian-Harootunian).

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A Morning Pantoum

The deer once again walked out of the forest without making a sound, and come close to the house.

Morning Pantoum

From the kitchen window, I watch deer

emerging from the trees along the stream.

A doe wanders up the hillside, sniffing.

She digs to reveal snow-crusted juniper.

Emerging by the trees along the stream,

a fawn follows, soundless in the snowy field.

She digs to reveal snow-crusted juniper.

I watch from the warm side of the window.

A fawn follows, soundless in the snowy field

The deer startles at the sound of my mug set down

I watch from the warm side of the window.

My guests eat dry grass and juniper; I have coffee.

They look up at the sound of my mug on the table.

The doe wanders up the hillside, sniffing.

My guests eat dry grass and juniper; I have coffee.

From the kitchen window, I watch deer.

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Crow was written one morning last year when I sat drinking coffee one morning. All was quiet except the frogs, not even the hum of a distant car passing. A crow came into the yard, calling and circling. And this poem was born.


The crow calls after I’ve poured 

a second cup of coffee. The forest is quiet,

aside from Moss Brook,  sound

splashing through an open window.

Wood frogs left eggs in the pond last night.

then went quiet this morning.

That crow was the only bird calling today.

No one answered its’ cry.

Have corvids socially isolated, too?

Spring is quieter this year

aside from those wood frogs

who know how to have a good time.

Right before dusk, they begin to carouse.

I almost hear Billy Strayhorn at 

the piano, and see trays with appetizers

and cocktails passed around the small 

vernal pool, where passion runs

fast and loose down there, just past the garden.

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Poetry Reading Change of Venue Friday


Friday, April 28, 5 to 7 p.m.

Write Action, Time to Write and the Brattleboro Literary Festival announce an in-person reading by poets participating in
Poems Around Town.

Note: Change of Venue!

This public event will take place at:

Epsilon Spires Community Room
190 Main Street
Brattleboro, VT

This annual celebration of poetry, featuring almost one hundred poems by poets primarily from the Brattleboro region as well as statewide, is in 48 locations throughout downtown Brattleboro through the end of April. The guide for what is where and by whom is available online at the Write Action website (, and in print at The Brattleboro Co-Op, Chamber of Commerce, the Brooks Memorial Library, and Everyone’s Books. Many of the poems will be up for May Gallery Walk.

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Armenian Remembrance Day

I wrote this poem below, describing a common morning between my grandmother and me. Like many immigrant families, we lived in an extended family household. I don’t remember ever cooking with my mother. It was my grandmother, from Harput, who taught me at a young age. And when I first moved from crib to bed, it was my grandmother I’d crawl into bed with her in the early mornings. Like many young children, I asked where did I come from, and as where did you come from? Her story was shared then, when we lay in bed, and when we went downstairs and cooked. When I first saw Atom Engoyan’s film, Ararat, at a movie theater in Harvard Square, Cambridge MA, our audience as all Armenians, I think. We all sat, silent for a time, long after the credits rolled. Then we cried, all of us, in the dark theater. For many of us, it was the first time we saw the homes of our families, the homes they had described were real, for the first time.

Morning Stories

When I woke in the morning

and begged for stories, Gram said 

don’t talk too much, flies 

will get into your mouth.

I still wanted to hear a story.

She’d say later, after our work.

She tied an apron around me,

pulled the stool to the table, 

gave me parsley, cracked wheat,

ground lamb, and my own basin

of water to wet my hands 

as we worked together.

She said knead so it’s

soft as a baby’s bottom.

Shape smooth balls.

We poked our thumbs inside

to open them up, then spooned

in stuffing.But I still wanted a story.

Gram said My grandmother made kufta

like us, and I carried pilav and kufta to my

father and grandpa in the fields. Sometimes she 

rode the donkey, other times a horse.

Gram said never ride a horse, or a camel.

And we never did, in our Boston home. 

That house was different from ours here.

Animals lived downstairs, people above.

I asked if we could have chickens here, now.

She said no, not here. She said to keep my mouth 

closed, not to talk so much, flies would get in.

I watched her story unfold in my mind.

Her final day home, when she and her sisters

returned from school and found everyone dead,

the locked church set on fire. A quiet village now,

except for soldiers that gathered up leftover people.  

They walked from their mountain village,

part of the Armenian death marches,

thirsty, eating grasses and leaves,

anything they found.

Two sisters fell in the desert,

three trudged onto Allepo 

and onward from there, surviving.

Fr Kevont was my Grandmother’s cousin. They thought each other dead. He was away at school when the village was attacked, and he was brought up by the monks at his school and later went on to become a traveling monk himself, his work going to mountain villages with a donkey. He ended working at the Vatican, and ‘found us’ when I was about this age. He was a wonderful man.

Put on your calendars:

Brattleboro VT Poetry Reading

River Garden, Main Street, April 28, from 5-7.

Poets with poetry around town will read. (shop windows)

Light refreshments/drinks are available.

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The Price of Eggs

This is a bit of puffery, a small token of appreciation for eggs. Our humble egg has become harder to find in shops and far more expensive. My good news is that someone in town with chickens is selling, for donation, eggs on the side of the road, in a cooler. They have golden yolks and are the loveliest eggs I’ve ever eaten. I’ve written this small piece for my friends living near Dublin.

Grand Canal, Dublin

The Grotto

The sign said The Grotto. A path led away to a long alley, past the back of houses, and gardens, and finally, to a privacy fence with a gate. The gate held the same sign, The Junkie’s Grotto.  We opened the gate, closed it carefully behind us, and breathed a sigh of relief. We’d found the place. But then, we found it was difficult to breathe at all here, as the smell was so thick.  Verdant grass and weeds surrounded the small barn. Down a slope on the left was the Royal Canal. There had to be close to 30 ducks milling around there, splashing. Closer to us were several large shallow swimming pools filled with ducklings. When we walked close to the barn, we could hear clucking.

We’d come to the right place. Between Covid and the avian flu, eggs were harder than hen’s teeth to find. The Easter holiday had egg prices up to 15 Euro a dozen, and there hadn’t been enough of them, not near enough. Mam wanted to have the eggs for Easter morning and wanted enough extra for a fancy cake. We looked forward to the eggs, sausages, and scones for breakfast; but there hadn’t been any eggs left in local shops, no matter the price.  

Mam & the neighbors had been talking about it, the First Easter without an Easter Egg, not for love nor money. The next day she’d found a note in the mailbox, telling her to walk down to the canal, find this sign for the Junkie’s Grotto, and follow the path there. The note wasn’t signed. Mam was suspicious; What did this note mean? She immediately thought one of her older kids was up to no good, and she took me along with her. The note said to bring cash. She did.

When we opened the tall gate to find all that poultry, Mam blessed herself and grinned. Ah, that was it, wasn’t it; it was egg junkies.  Eggs had become exorbitant, and then not even available, We realized how eggs had filled out lives so seamlessly. We paid 8 euros for a dozen chicken eggs and 12 euros for the duck eggs. They were huge!  We skulked out the door and headed for home with our loot in a plain brown bag. Who would have thought in today’s world, where so much is available, when people all over the world can talk to each other on phones and computers when astronauts can fly into space, that our simple chicken eggs could become so scarce, so precious? Who would think Mam would be buying our Easter eggs on the black market.

Grand Canal, Dublin

Grand Canal, Dublin Southside

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Thanks to The Commons

They’ve published two of my poems this week. The Commons staff is lovely to work with, and I appreciate you clicking to visit their site.

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Bakers From the Western Islands By Elaine Reardon


Off the coast of Galway a noddy boat could skip between the islands and pull in close at a harbor dock. The highlight of the week was when the fishing boat came into the harbor. They’d be handsome bachelors on it, so the single women went down to the harbor with hot tea, something to add a bit of strength to it, and still-warm bread with sultanas added for sweetness. They went down dressed in their best, not dressed for buying fish. More than one woman had found a husband this way. The practice began to elevate the quality of the baking on the islands as single women competed, each wanting to be known as the best baker. In time this stepped up the commerce, and supply boats brought in more flour and butter, especially when the Walsh triplets all went to work on the boat just seven months after…

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