You’re at a restaurant for dinner and order salmon, with lemon butter sauce on the side, and lightly steamed vegetables. The waiter brings you a plate of roast beef and mashed potatoes, slathered with gravy,. A few limp string beans peek out from under the white and brown mush.

You say, “This isn’t what I ordered.

The waiter says, “You wanted the salmon.”

“That’s right, with lemon butter on the side, vegetables lightly steamed.”

“And that’s what you got.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Yes, you did.”

“Are you crazy? You gave me meat.”

“Where? Where do you see meat?’

“On the plate,” you point. “There.”

“That’s not meat. It’s fish.”

“What? Get the manager.”

The waiter shrugs and leaves. A few minutes later, he comes back with the manager.

She says, “Is something wrong?”

“Yes,” you say. “I ordered salmon, sauce on the side, with lightly steamed vegetables, and your waiter brought me this.”

The manager looks at the waiter, then at you. “So what’s the problem?”

You growl, “This isn’t salmon.”

“Yes it is.”

“Smell it,” you lift the plate, “and tell me if it smells like salmon.”

The manager leans over. Sniffs. “Seems fishy to me.”


The manager sighs, “how about if we bring you something else?”

“Fine.” You think for a minute. Then, suddenly, feeling very clever, you say, “Bring me the roast beef.”

“With mashed potatoes and gravy?”

“Yes. And string beans, well done.”

“Very good.” The manager smiles, and both she and the waiter disappear.

Twenty minutes go by. A good sign, you think. They’re making your meal to order. You’re staring to feel better…

…until the waiter reappears, proclaiming, “Beef!!” and sets the saddest, slimiest salad you have ever seen in front of you.

©2019 All Rights Reserved


Once upon a time, there was Comfort, and there was Safety, and each was known for its own special meaning. Because the two got along so well, they developed a relationship of mutual respect and autonomy. Comfort could live without Safety, and Safety could live without Comfort; but as they discovered they were often better together, enhancing each other’s unique qualities, they preferred not to be apart.

All was well in their relationship for a while, until a strange thing began to happen: people started to mistake one for the other—saying, I want comfort, when, in fact, what they really meant was, I want safety, and vice versa. At first, Comfort and Safety were amused by the confusion. However, as it increased, they found themselves squabbling over which of them was needed for this or that purpose, with one saying, You go, and the other saying, No, you. The result was that either both of them would show up, or neither would, leaving people so confounded and frustrated, that there was no recourse but to heap enormous bags of connotation on them in an attempt to clarify their uses. This left the two stricken and pained, and so weighted down that they suffered severe identity crises, and, eventually, could not function at all.

Naturally, their relationship soured.

Comfort, who had never had a secure sense of self-esteem to begin with, due to being overshadowed by safety’s stalwart nature and moral certainty, wanted to seek Therapy.

But Safety scoffed at the idea, claiming Therapy’s definite article was misused and over-prescribed, making it a cliché.

If Comfort had been of a different ilk, it would have pointed out the rich irony of Safety’s comment, considering that both of them had been described as illusions. But, since arguing was antithetical to Comfort’s nature, it said nothing. And, ignoring a string of modifiers that were now dangling from one of its overstuffed bags, it slunk away, and plunged into a vat of warm chocolate pudding to console itself.

Meanwhile, Safety was not about to sit and wait for Comfort’s return. Who did Comfort think it was anyway, ditching Safety for speaking the truth? The nerve! Safety was so miffed, that it hoisted itself, and its baggage, up, and stalked off, determined to find and court Happiness.

But, as Happiness, in a fit of paranoia, had taken a nose dive into the chocolate pudding with Comfort, it was a pursuit that proved utterly futile.

©2018 All Rights Reserved


My late father-in-law built a birdhouse for our yard. It was a simple thing—a box, painted dark brown, with a peaked roof, a hole, and a peg.

My husband hung it near the garage and we kept watch. Maybe birds were put off by the smell of paint, or the location.  Who knew. Whatever the reason, it was ignored. No birds flew around it, landed on it, or looked inside.

Then, one year, during a fierce storm, it was knocked off its hook. My husband found it in pieces on the lawn—walls scattered, roof upside down—and lovingly reassembled it, overbuilding,  as he does with every piece of furniture he makes.

This time, it was hung in a more sheltered spot by the garage, from a hook that was deeply implanted, better able to withstand our midwest gales.

Spring came, and, again, we kept watch, encouraged by the interest a mother wren showed in one of our other birdhouses—that one, hung from our house, a gift from a friend. She quickly took up residence there, and busied herself with building a nest, laying her eggs, and feeding her hatchlings.

Her activities kept us entertained for a month or more.

But still the brown house was vacant.

Then, three years ago, at the first sign of spring, a male house sparrow perched on the peg of the brown house. He sat for a minute, then flew down to the lawn where he pulled up some pieces of dried grass. A minute later, he returned to the peg, his beak stuffed.

Finally: tenants. We celebrated and joked about shoving a tiny lease through the hole.

The sparrows stayed all summer, and their fledglings stayed, too, darting in and out of the house well into fall, until the first hard freeze.

The following spring, they returned and settled in.

My husband thought it might be a good idea to clean and check the house for rot before winter, so he could make any repairs it needed, but the sparrows didn’t give him the chance. By the time they took off for their winter home, the first snow had fallen.

And, of course, before he could get out to inspect the property this year, they were back again—earlier than before, seemingly, with the whole family—or mispocha, as we say in Yiddish.

I love birds, but know little about house sparrows.  I can tell you that they have managed to multiply and thrive despite the West Nile virus that wiped out our blue jays and crows. And I can also tell you that they have particular tastes; and once they decorate a house, it’s theirs.

Copyright 2013 All Rights Reserved