Category Archives: Nights at the Round Table

Stories and conversations overheard.

Nights at the Round Table — Revisited, and why not…?

Wednesday, April 8, 2020–I just finished offering my Dementia Caregiving Journal ebooks for free for a week on Amazon–“Begins the Night Music, Volume I” (April 8-12) and “To What Green Altar, Volume II” (April 13-17). I’m also in the process … Read more »

Zephyr at Dawn – Round Table Nights II

ZO, Revered One, I have told you 25 tales, and now, in the middle of this night, I shall to tell you one more.

So, here at the round table, before the candle burns down, thus I begin this Scheherazade chronicle: A man walked down the dusty yellow street between the low white houses. He wore a long white shirt belted in woven thread of gold, turquoise silk balloon pants and camel hide sandals. On his head was a turban that rather resembled a pumpkin in both color and design, with a small stem-like dome at the crown. He was a pasha or somebody like that. In one hand, where one would expect a staff or sword, he carried a bottle of Zinfandel, Red Zinfandel. In the other a brass oil lamp needing polishing.

A beautiful young maiden strolled toward him. Instantly he was smitten. He waylaid her and struck up a conversation. He thought, Shall I bed her or behead her? For, surely I will not wed her. She is too pretty. I shall bed her and then behead her, for she is like all the others, always wanting nothing but my riches and once she gets them she will be unfaithful.  The maiden had no idea what was going on in his head. She thought him rather handsome, but that his big pumpkin hat must weigh down his brain.

“My dear,” said he to the maiden, “Come with me to my——”

“Bfff; bfff. … Biff.”

Oh — it’s Dickens. Excuse me. Let me get up from the table and let him in. Moriarty, the Phantom of my Blog, is back, his arrival heralded by his black, fluffy dog, Dickens. I open the heavy metal security door of my blog. A soft breeze out of the west has picked up.

“Moriarty. Welcome back. How was your trip to Arkansas? How is your family? No wonder you didn’t open the door yourself. Your hands are full.

“What is that you’re carrying?” I ask him as he enters the blog.

Suddenly, Dickens steps out of the shadows and walks in front of Moriarty. Moriarty trips and the thing he is carrying flies into the air. I catch it.

“Moriarty. It’s a zither. You’ve brought back a zither.”

“I found it in a roadside yard sale when I was in Missouri,” he says.

“I thought you went to Arkansas.”

“I did, but I have to drive through a corner of Missouri to get there.”

“Oh, right.”

I hold the zither by the window in the light eminating from the sun about to rise above the horizon. “It looks in pretty good condition from what little I know about zithers,” I say.

“I’m going to take zither lessons,” he says. “I’ll become a zitherist. —-

“{{{     }}}  What is this mess all over the place? You’ve got papers strewn everywhere. This is awful.”

“It’s my A to Zs,” I say. “I’ve written them all the way to Z. These are my notes and drafts and Outliers.”

“Outliers? What are the outliers?”

“The Outliers are my darlings that wouldn’t fit into my tales but I didn’t want to kill, so I saved them in my Scheherazade Chronicles ‘Outliers’ file, for other tales.”

“And everything’s so dusty,” he says. “Why haven’t you dusted?”

“Because, I was totally immersed in writing the A to Zs. Everything else fell by the wayside.”

“Well, you’re going to have to dust, but let’s get started cleaning up these papers.

“Guess what I saw while I was driving across the Chesapeake through Maryland back from Arkansas?” he says as he picks up a page and wads it up. “Sinbad’s ship. It was in dry dock. They were replacing the rotted wooden boards and all the ribs. The sea really battered it.”

He tosses the wadded page into the trash basket. Dickens snatches it out and runs with it.

“Hey!” I say. “What’s on that page?! I may need it. Let me see it! Is that my ‘Outliers’ page?”

I chase after Dickens, running through the kitchen. I quick glance at the clock on the microwave. I forgot, in the night I had heated up the mac and cheese Thomas Jefferson had left on his recent visit. It was still in the microwave.

I find it unsettling when I want to know the time and I glance at the microwave clock and it says “END.”

Samantha Mozart

Round Table Nights

RBy October 2011, Emma, in her final stages of dementia, had six months to live. She had lived 97 years, yet, all that she had been, all that she had done, from her childhood summers on her Aunt Mary’s farm near Atlantic City to her laying down her last watercolor sketch, unfinished, upstairs in our den, seemed to me to have faded before the colors dried.

I sat at my blog’s big oak round table – the kind with the claw feet – that October 19 evening with a group of writer and musician friends. We engaged in a candlelight discourse and passed around the bottles of wine. “Life is short,” I remarked. Jane Austen snickered up her sleeve, the three Brontë sisters giggled so uncontrollably they had to leave the table early. I think I even heard Mr. Rochester chortle from his back room. Wolfgang sniggered into his lace cuffs and slapped himself on the frontal lobe sending a cloud of apricot powder from his wig sailing above the table. Franz Schubert stopped picking at his fish, pulled out his handkerchief, slid off his spectacles and wiped the tears of mirth from his lenses. Ludwig said, “Sorry. Could you repeat that?” Anton Chekhov coughed into his handkerchief and Leo Tolstoy rushed to his side. Alexander Scriabin reflected, “Before I nicked myself shaving, I was just about to create that exquisite mystic polychromatic sound and light show that Mick and Keith would have loved: we were going to record the performance on moving pictures.”

Thomas Jefferson laid his violin and bow on the table, stared at us blankly and said, “Like – what? Oh-h-h, I’ve got cheese from the macaroni and cheese stuck on my lapel again,” taking the nib of his pen and scraping it off. He waved his free hand as if batting away gnats on a hazy Monticello summer evening: “Well, those Parisians. You know – they create those rich creamy sauces necessitating one’s quaffing extra bottles of red wine to cut the fat. In the course of events, down in Virginia you may find us gone with the wine.” Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix chorused, “Show me the way to your wine cellar.” My friend blamed her cats for depleting her wine stash. Adam Gopnik and Bernard-Henri Lévy engaged in an animated philosophical side conversation hypothesizing that if the French government elected to set the Paris arrondissements in motion spinning around the hub, would they better rotate clockwise or counterclockwise? And, how, then, would one locate the good restaurants? Would that mess up one’s GPS, for instance?

JFK accidentally hit the red button on his iPhone. Vaslav Nijinsky leaped from his chair. F. Scott Fitzgerald noted, “We can’t just let our worlds crash around us like a lot of dropped trays.” Edgar Allan Poe emptied the bowl of popcorn on the table, feeding it to the raven perched on his shoulder until the bird got stuffed and croaked flatly, “Nevermore.” There was a draft. The candle flame flickered, casting a protracted, quivering raven’s shadow across the floor. Ernest Hemingway interjected, “I hope the sun never rises.”

Dante Alighieri joined the discussion via satellite from the banks of the River Arno in Florence, speaking divine Italian but through a female translator voiceover. The effect was disconcerting. John Keats dipped his quill into his glass of red wine and began composing an ode on a vintner’s urn. Lord Byron would have elaborated, but he was on assignment in Greece. Oscar Wilde smiled enigmatically. While Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “I’m having a bad dream.”

Keith Olbermann crumpled his notes, tossed them into the empty popcorn bowl, pushed back his chair and stood up. “Good night. And good luck,” he said.

Samantha Mozart

XXXIII. Nights at the Round Table

I sat at a big oak round table – the kind with the claw feet – the other evening with a group of writer and musician friends. We engaged in a candlelight discourse and passed around the bottles of wine. “Life is short,” I remarked. Jane Austen snickered up her sleeve, the three Brontë sisters giggled so uncontrollably they had to leave the table early. I think I even heard Mr. Rochester chortle from his back room. Wolfgang sniggered into his lace cuffs and slapped himself on the frontal lobe sending a cloud of apricot powder from his wig sailing above the table. Franz Schubert stopped picking at his fish, pulled out his handkerchief, slid off his spectacles and wiped the tears of mirth from his lenses. Ludwig said, “Sorry. Could you repeat that?” Anton Chekhov coughed into his handkerchief and said that before the Black Monk carried him off he was glad for his serendipitous encounter with Leo Tolstoy, where he got a chance to skinny dip with Tolstoy in Tolstoy’s Yasnaya Polyana pond. Alexander Scriabin reflected, “Before I nicked myself shaving, I was just about to create that exquisite polychromatic sound and light show that Mick and Keith would have loved: we were going to record the performance on moving pictures.” Jacqueline du Pré plucked a ditty on her 1712 Davidov Stradivarius cello before handing the instrument over to Yo-Yo Ma. “Davidov was the czar of cellists,” rhapsodized Pyotr Tchaikovsky. “But over my first piano concerto, that Anton Rubinstein behaved liked such a girl.”

Thomas Jefferson laid his violin and bow on the table, stared at us blankly and said, “Like – what? Oh-h-h, I’ve got cheese from the macaroni and cheese stuck on my lapel again,” taking the nib of his pen and scraping it off. He waved his free hand as if batting away flies: “Well, those Parisians. You know – they create those rich creamy sauces necessitating one’s quaffing extra bottles of red wine to cut the fat. In the course of events, down in Virginia you may find us gone with the wine.” Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix chorused, “Show me the way to your wine cellar.” My friend blamed her cats for depleting her wine stash. Adam Gopnik and Bernard-Henri Lévy engaged in an animated philosophical side conversation hypothesizing that if the French government elected to set the Paris arrondissements in motion spinning around the hub, would they better rotate clockwise or counterclockwise? And, how, then, would one locate the good restaurants? Would that mess up one’s GPS, for instance?

JFK accidentally hit the red button on his iPhone. Vaslav Nijinsky leaped from his chair while Anna Pavlova fished around in her bag for extra ball bearings to insert into the toes of her pointe shoes to facilitate her gliding bourrées. Edgar Allan Poe emptied the bowl of popcorn on the table, feeding it to the raven perched on his shoulder until the bird got stuffed and croaked flatly, “Nevermore.” There was a draft. The candle flame flickered, casting a protracted, quivering raven’s shadow across the floor. Michael Cunningham glanced across at Virginia Woolf and muttered, “The hours, the hours.” E. M. Forster postulated, “No matter when you die, the outcome will be the same.” Ernest Hemingway interjected, “I hope the sun never rises.” F. Scott Fitzgerald noted, “We can’t just let our worlds crash around us like a lot of dropped trays.”

Dante Alighieri joined the discussion via satellite from the banks of the River Arno in Florence, speaking divine Italian but through a female translator voiceover. The effect was disconcerting. John Keats dipped his pen into his glass of red wine and began composing an ode on a vintner’s urn. Lord Byron would have elaborated, but he was on assignment in Greece. Oscar Wilde smiled enigmatically. While Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “I’m having a bad dream.” Orhan Pamuk, in New York City from Istanbul to teach his autumn writing class at Columbia, and seated to my left, gently laid his hand on mine and observed, “Innocent child, come live in my museum.”

Charlie Rose beat the table three times with the palm of his hand in a vain attempt to moderate. “Get Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough in here to sift through these gobbets.” And George Clooney said, “I know. Let’s make a movie. It’ll star Helen Mirren.” Keith Olbermann crumpled his notes, tossed them into the empty popcorn bowl, pushed back his chair and stood up. “Good night. And good luck,” he said.

–Samantha, October 19, 2011