Stella Serves Second Helpings Zoe’s Cue:  SECOND



Stella popped a pan of enchiladas in the oven while waiting for Frank to return from the airport with his sister, Nan, and her husband Tom; this was their second visit, and Stella was praying they’d decide to relocate.

Such an immense transition was neither simple nor inexpensive for a couple on the cusp of retirement; but Stella thought she and Frank were a convincing example that, with a little faith, the second half of adulthood could be an adventure.

As the kitchen filled with flavorful fragrance, the door opened on Nan’s laughter—a lilting above the men’s voices—and Nan and Stella rushed into each other’s embrace.

Over dinner, Nan exclaimed about the larger size of Stella’s new dining table—which led to a spirited, dramatic recital of the “famous furniture fiasco’s” fabulous finale.

Tom noted, “You missed your calling, Stella—Nan told me you’re writing stories, but you could pursue a second career in theater.”

“Careful, Tom,” Frank affected sternness:  “when Matt Dillon was filming a movie in town last year, suddenly my dear wife ran out of all grocery staples, had to shop at the market everyday—the one right across from Matt’s hotel”; amid his family’s bursting guffaws, he added, “I feared I’d lost her to Hollywood’s klieg lights and that slick weasel…sorry…younger stud.”



© Stella Carousel, 2017 ~ All rights reserved.

Images ~ Pixabay

It’s Always (Sink or) Something…Frank & Stella

unnamed-11-e1462409384457  Zoe’s Cue:  SINK


Stella had shown a trooper’s spirit, serving Frank a lovely lasagna dinner on the lanai furniture they’d moved inside (due to the resulting fiasco when the old dining set was put in storage while expecting ‘new’…which was delayed-damaged-order cancelled); but her muted longing for proper table and chairs was unabated.

Oh, she’d received his 18-stem armful of Picasso roses and $5 Hallmark Valentine with sweet-smiling gratitude, kisses—but whenever she passed through the empty dining area he’d dubbed the “dance floor”, she sighed, turning taciturn…and a too-quiet-Stella was rarely a good thing.

“I know what—let’s go for a drive!” Frank said with extravagant enthusiasm; “maybe we’ll happen on an amazing local site—an extraordinary ‘something’ we’ve overlooked, since moving here.”

Stella’s face—an e’er-changing canvas (and domestic barometer)—moved from an expression of worry that he’d spiked a tropical brain fever, to one of more hazy, benign suspicion; finally she shrugged acquiescence, and gathered her jacket and handbag.

The furniture store windows shouted in fluorescent paint, “Store-Wide SALE—WE Even PAY the Sales TAX!”, as Frank grinned at Stella—who took a mere 14.5 minutes to select a large rectangular dining table suitable for a family of 8…and barely stifled a squeal, on learning it would be delivered that evening.

At home, she chirp-chattered about the beauty and size of the heavy table—its burnished brown surface, ebony legs; the matching well-constructed chairs and 18″ center leaf (heart, be still!)—and punctuated each repeated detail with cheery chorus:  “it’s a steal of a deal, Hon!”…..until Frank interrupted to announce the kitchen’s slow-draining sink had completely backed up, and suggested she call the maintenance-super, “Now”.

© Stella Carousel, 2017 ~ All rights reserved.


Image ~ Underhill’s Furniture

A Loaf of Bread…and Thou* ~ Frank & Stella  Zoe’s Cue:  BREAD



Recovered from her ‘furniture pique’—with a Plan B for future purchases on the figurative table for further discussion—Stella moved the lanai’s casual dining set inside, with Frank’s help.

As he folded the TV trays and shoved them to the back of the hall closet, he assured her it wasn’t the table which made a great dining experience; laying it on extra sweet, he continued—“it’s the meal, and your superior cooking, Love”.

“Oh, stop buttering me up, you smoothie—the lasagna is practically in the oven; but speaking of butter, we need a loaf of Italian bread…do you think you—” ; “I’m on it”, he said agreeably, “anything else?”

Putting index finger to chin, she pondered—“maybe dessert…fresh fruit—pick out a nice pineapple”.

When Frank returned, the kitchen was redolent with baked lasagna and he hurried to prepare the bread; over his shoulder, he enthused about the Pineapple Gelato he’d discovered (sparing him the task of cutting the spiny tropical fruit).

Seated at the wrought iron and glass lanai table, Frank toasted Stella with a crusty slice of garlic bread:  “Love, if bread is the staff of life, you are my compagnon**—ever nourishing my heart and soul”.

italian-1575514_640© Stella Carousel, 2017 ~ All rights reserved.

Image ~ Pixabay


*A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou. – Omar Khayyam


From Middle English companion, from Old French compaignon(companion) (modern French compagnon), from Late Latin compāniōn- (nominative singular compāniō, whence French copain), from com- +‎ pānis (literally, with + bread)…

Bread has a social and emotional significance beyond its importance as nourishment. It plays essential roles in religious rituals and secular culture. Its prominence in daily life is reflected in language, where it appears in proverbs, colloquial expressions (“He stole the bread from my mouth”), in prayer (“Give us this day our daily bread”) and in the etymology of words, such as “companion” (from Latin com “with” + panis “bread”).

Share and Share Dislike ~ Frank & Stella

unnamed-11-e1462409384457  Zoe’s Cue is SHARE


Stella’s new furniture order was delayed, then mixed up, then delivered late AND damaged—she was not a happy camper.

Frank had reserved his opinions during her online ordering so as to avoid any blame for her possible disappointment, but as they say, “the best laid plans…”; she was now darting her irritation toward him in subtle ways he had difficulty describing, and thus addressing with her.

Attempting to ameliorate her mood, he reached for affection and levity, asking—“Do you remember when we agreed to share the responsibility for all less than brilliant choices and decisions, together?”

Yes—Frank,” she bit off the words; “but I should not have to share in the fact that you morphed into a mute, abdicating your vote as equal partner in this enterprise”.

Frank took it like a man, and said, “Alright, how would you prefer I remedy the situation, my Love?”

You call the company,” she directed, “they aren’t hearing me—tell them Everything I’ve reiterated to you several times, and demand a full refund Immediately; then phone Mr Tan’s and order Chinese for 4…Yes, 4—I’m very hungry and not in the mood to cook, since our only dining set is the one in storage.”  (huffing and turning on her heel)


© Stella Carousel, 2017 ~ All rights reserved.

Image ~ Pixabay

It’s All a Given ~ Frank & Stella  Zoe’s Cue:  GIVEN


It was a given, that Frank’s sister and her husband would move to Cape Carillon, where Frank and Stella had settled in retirement…just a matter of time…for Stella was a woman of strong, quiet faith, and Frank had observed that she usually got her way with God (as well as with him).

Not surprisingly, as soon as the holiday decorations were packed away she was itching to rearrange the furniture—a pastime she enjoyed far more, and more frequently, than Frank preferred to work up enthusiasm and sweat for…

There was something else on her busy pretty mind, Frank discovered:  Stella reckoned it a good time to buy new furniture, and suggested they store the old pieces—in case Nan and Tom might wish to use them when they relocated.

Frank’s periodic back issues dictated the hiring of a couple college boys for the heavy work; and after half the living room had disappeared, he surveyed the empty space and gave Stella a dubious smile.

“Well, Love,” he sighed, “we’ve got a dance floor now”… So, offering his hand to her, they two-stepped as he hummed, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You”.

© Stella Carousel, 2017 ~ All rights reserved.

Turn, Turn, Turn…More Frank & Stella

unnamed-11-e1462409384457  Zoe’s Cue:  TURN



All good times must end, if only temporarily as seasons turn from joyous effusions of holiday color to barren tones of resting winter; and so, in the wake of what had been a grand, undreamed of Christmas-New Year’s celebration with his sister and her husband, it was Frank’s turn to be muffled by a cape of “the Blues”.


Stella, well-familiar with visitations by her own shadows, eyed him empathetically—and patted him whenever she passed by his chair, or as he stood mutely in his studio’s paint-redolent doorway.

“Hon, they’re only a phone call away,” she repeated gently; “no need to wait for them—why do you seem reluctant to call Nan and Tom?”

Frank sighed deeply, then looked into his dear wife’s eyes—“I don’t want to sound too eager, desperate, pressing my suggestion that they relocate here; they said they’d think about it—I should hold off.”

She twined her arms warmly around his neck, kissed his silvered temple—“Just tell Nan that I need her, and that I’m bookmarking places they should look at soon, before the prices go up.”

He brought her hand to his lips, smelled the perfumed lotion he’d given her…and smiling, he murmured, “I dare say, you’d always take the fall for me, Love”.

© Stella Carousel, 2017 ~ All rights reserved.

Frank Ranks First  Zoe’s Cue is RANK


After much gentle nudging and 2 enthusiastic pep-talks, Stella had convinced Frank to submit one of his paintings to the Community Artists Review.

This was not entirely a small-potatoes show—some fairly big-name regional galleries would be on hand as a sizeable cash prize was presented to the First Place Artist; and there was potential for future opportunities, as yet undefined.

When the letter arrived from the Arts Board, Stella snatched it unopened from Frank’s hand, read quickly, and began squealing and jumping up and down, hugging him loudly.

Briefly deafened by her outburst, Frank grabbed her arms gently, and kissed her to stifle the squeals as his sister and her husband looked on, spellbound—“Did you win the lottery?” Tom asked.

Stella crowed, “NO, much better!”; and handing the notice to Nan and Tom, said, “I’m so glad you’re both here, what great timing for your visit…we’ll get all dressed up tomorrow and attend the ceremony!”

Shrugging, Frank attempted to curb the joyful frenzy:  “It’s just a local community arts board, guys—although being ranked ‘1st’ is…very nice; but if it includes a buffet dinner, you can expect rubber chicken…Just kidding, I’ll blow the prize money on my Best Fans—at Garvey’s Steak and Seafood Grill.”

© Stella Carousel, 2017 ~ All rights reserved.