Short form of how the word “blog” came to be. Web log… became Weblog… became Blog.
My blogs usually run anywhere from 500-1200 words. This one was getting pretty long and I was having fun with it. It seems I’m still within the median length. According to HubSpot the ideal length for 2021 blogs is 2100-2400 words. The focus shifted as I wrote, so today is musings. Next blog- different kinds of tables and a writing prompt. Enjoy!
Thinking About Tables
My blog about Rina and our table talk got me thinking. How many tables have I set, decorated, sat at, gathered around? And why, with whom? 1 other person, 2, 5, 10, 30? Friends, strangers, family, a lover, boss, adversary, card players, artists, puzzlers, negotiators?
Shaqua Niequest’s quote seems to make a lot of sense: This is how the world changes, little by little, table by table, meal by meal, hour by hour. This is how we chip away at isolation, loneliness, fear. This is how we connect, in big and small ways – we do it around the table.
A table is not just a table. With more than half a century of table sitting in my life there’s a pretty long list of tables, accompanied by associated flashes of where it was, when that table figured in my life, how we used it, and the feelings the memory evokes. Perhaps this will spark some memories of tables for you.
A Memory Lane of Tables
Merrick, Long Island, New York. In our small dining room, the table held center court with a sideboard on one wall and hutch on the other, six chairs around, Dad’s chair at the head. We ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner there, celebrated holidays, dyed Easter eggs with newsprint laid over to protect the wood.It was a small but practical, functional table. Gathering there every day it was like sitting at a loom to weave our family.
Miller Place, Long Island, New York. On the screened-in porch a large, round, heavy oak table weathered summer rains and humid August warmth where we ate breakfast, lunch, and most dinners. It also served as the site for card games of Go Fish, I Doubt it, and Canasta, and board games like Sorry and Parcheesi on rainy summer days. Clocks not consulted. Cozy. Quiet.
The picnic table in my childhood summer oasis in Miller Place was up a slight hill by the stone fireplace. The table was long and wooden, with one of those oilcloth coverings across it. Outside on weekend evenings I remember these as times of freedom and laughter, and eating as much corn, hamburgers, hot dogs, pie, and grapes as we wanted.
The conversation whipped gaily around the table like rags in a high wind. ~ Margaret Halsey
Flushing, New York. The Christmas holiday table at our Aunt Ruth and Uncle Rob’s home was the first I remember as being “elegant.” Covered with a soft white linen tablecloth and “real” cloth napkins, heavy silverware, glass goblets, everything seemed to sparkle. A platter of turkey and stuffing, and one of ham, with vegetables, and later on, pies. An occasion where it was the norm to have seconds, maybe thirds.
Young Adult – Changing Tables
West Caldwell, New Jersey. Kay and Andy Ball’s Thanksgiving table is a memory as one of the most comfortable tables filled with relatives, travelers, neighbors. Food, the aromas of turkey and apple pie wafting throughout the entire first floor of the house. Maybe this sounds cliché, but apple pie and love are woven together from that memory with my chosen family.
It isn’t so much what’s on table that matters, as what’s on the chairs. ~ W. S. Gilbert
New York City, NY. My first husband Malachi refinished a dining room set with a huge table, sideboard, and hutch. He led me to the basement of the brownstone where we rented a one-bedroom apartment with a ta-da flourish.
I was happily surprised but practical. “But we have no room for it.”
His reply. “We will.”
Less than a year later we had moved to West End Avenue with more room and a spacious dining room. Most Wednesdays Mal had dinner on the table when I got home from teaching and had to dash off for a dance lesson. “You need energy for class,” he’d say. After he died I reluctantly gave away the whole set. I moved from our big apartment in the city to a tiny apartment with no room for a dining room set. I like to think the new owners sensed they were receiving a table made with love.
The New Millennium Tables
Fine Dining in New York City. Have you ever been to Picholine in NYC? Opened in 1993 on New York’s E. 64 St. Picholine served incredible French-Mediterranean meals. Subdued colors, sounds, aromas. This wasn’t a” let’s go eat” restaurant. It was “We’re dining at Picholine.” It seemed like a server was at the ready for each of us enjoying a pre-theater meal before Opera at the Met. Truly only a memory since it closed in 2015. Oh, so special.
Dining at Home. The dining room table Hank and I bought twenty-one years ago moved with us from New Jersey to Tucson Arizona. It’s a breakfast, dinner, buffet, Thanksgiving, birthdays, eating and gathering table. Hank and I have our financial meetings there. It’s also our daily spiritual table where we have morning coffee, read, and talk.
That same dining room table doubled as the Scrivener’s Writing Table in New Jersey where writers gathered each week for nine years; now it’s the Eastside Writing Room table each Tuesday in Tucson, and an art table three hours once a month for artists drawing, quilling, sewing, making cards, doodling.
Our small wooden table and two-chair set in the Lincoln Park NJ kitchen nook is the same table today in our Tucson nook. A crystal bowl of Angel Cards sits there for daily choosing. The nook table was the inauguration of Hank’s kindness campaign. Kindness and love, still there.
I want to wake up with you beside me in the mornings. I want to spend my evenings looking at you across the dinner table. I want to share every mundane detail of my day with you and hear every detail of yours. I want to laugh with you and fall asleep with you in my arms. ~ Nicholas Sparks
Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and the writing life. She’s retired from professional writing gigs after 30 years of teaching, coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. In retirement she writes to inspire, to connect with folks, and for the pure enjoyment of it. Ethel enjoys sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling, Zoom gatherings, and anywhere there’s a mic.