Follow my sister, Nina, and me as we make a book together: my writing and her gorgeous inks on paper.

Posts by pia z. ehrhardt

19. Run Far

Posted on September 9, 2020

We may never get to India, but we can fix Indian food, learn the fragrant masala spices – fenugreek, cumin, coriander – discovered by the explorers and traded like jewels. We might fix tandoori chicken, coconut butter cauliflower, master curries the color of gold. Naan is as flat and wide as a frisbee. But roti steals the show: buttery, flaky, every bite a joy. Kachumber salad made of cucumbers cools the heat, and quenches. As the crow flies, Cuba is not even an hour away from New Orleans. We let the ropa viejo – old rags – cook all day. While we wait, we smash sandwiches in the Foreman grill so melted cheese runs out the sides and the edges of the meat crisp.…

18. More Space Than I Need

Posted on September 9, 2020

When I see gummy candies at check out, I miss my son. The red cherries on green stems, the peach flavored peaches, blue Smurfs that stain the tongue. Long ago, he dared me to eat sour patch kids. “Just take one taste, Mom.” What an assault on my tender buds. I lean toward Swedish Fish! Are they raspberry? It doesn’t matter. They’re two bites of yum that get stuck in my flipper denture, so I eat them toothless. A few times, I’ve left home without the flipper and didn’t remember until I lisped or smiled. It’s not a bad feeling, to give your mouth more space, although the tongue can’t stop worrying the place. “Take care of your teeth,” I tell my son, just…

17. Wake Up!

Posted on September 9, 2020

New Year’s Eve, Mom watched fireworks on the TV in her apartment not in the lobby with the residents and staff. They treat her well and with curiosity. “Won’t you play for us?” the staff says. They’ve noticed the violin case beside the bed. This is where my mother keeps what she worries the staff will steal, which is becoming everything she owns. I called the next day from Queens. “I need my new wheelchair,” she said. “Because I can’t leave my room.” “I know,” I said. “It’s on the way.” She was watching football. She’s from Detroit, but her teams are the Packers and the Saints. “Will they play each other in the Super Bowl?” she asked. “Not likely,” I said. “Are you…

16. The Business of Women – Part One

Posted on August 24, 2020

When we were in our early twenties and unmarried, Nina and I would sit outside with our mom, drink white wine out of Polish crystal, watch squirrels give chase across the low brick wall that lined her patio. Gouda and apple slices and English water crackers would appear. We’d be dressed hippie casual in jeans, boots and gauzy pastel shirts, shades of mango, yellow, lilac, and Mom would have on creased slacks, flat sandals, and a silk shirt in an elegant subtle pattern of browns and tans, like a pintail duck, gliding across the surface. We smoked different brands: Kents for mom, menthol lights for my sister and me. We shared one lighter, one ashtray. We didn’t worry about our lungs even though Mom…

15. The Tub is Deep

Posted on August 24, 2020

On our first night in London, we meet our son in the lounge for martinis. We’ve fled Mardi Gras in New Orleans. He’s got a head full of thick, rambunctiously graying hair even before he hits thirty, which will be next month. In the pocket of his jacket, he’s stuffed a book by George Orwell because tube time is reading time. He’s a historian, packing his brain with what’s left to know. We hug and turn sheepish, first, then rubbery because we are reunited, then peckish since his dad and I haven’t eaten since the airplane and Andrew is always hungry. He sits between us so we can both hear him. It’s hard not to gawk at this human we raised. On the small…

Love In The Time of Covid

Posted on August 8, 2020

Excerpts from QUARANTENA – the next book I’m working on with my sister Nina – found a home in a new international literary journal: Love in the Time of COVID: A Chronicle of a Pandemic. It’s the brainchild of New Zealand-based editors Michelle Elvy and Witi Ihimaera, who have created a space for stories from around the world that hold up our humanity and enrich our lives.  https://loveinthetimeofcovidchronicle.com “Life Lock” – Ink on cold pressed watercolor paper – 22″ x 30″

14. Frisky

Posted on June 22, 2020

I’m on my way back up to Queens and Malcolm will join me in a few days. This is the first leg of our trip on our way to be with Andrew in London and Paris over Mardi Gras. I hit TSA pre-check, where the guards admonish people about what not to take off or out or your bag. So many rules to remember to forget. The last time I flew, I confessed to having a Loop monitor, along with the other people admitting to pacemakers, metal hips and prosthetic legs. I got patted down by a woman in rubbery gloves, around my bra, the suspicious underwire, between my legs; the hibernating long-ago violations, reawakened by touch. I wanted to tell her to fuck…

13. Let Me In.

Posted on June 22, 2020

The second sister lives across the lake in a grand old cottage raised high on pilings. Malcolm counts steps and there are sixteen to get to her front door. Her deck overlooks wetlands filled with creatures large and small.  We meet monthly at the mall to buy a new shirt or a lipstick – always another red for me, always something frosty for her. “You got the good lips,” she tells me. She’s the smallest of us with a body that packs too much suffering: ruptured disks, ovarian cysts that exploded like dynamite, and then a diagnosis last year of an auto-immune disease, Hashimoto’s, which sounds like a kamikaze pilot and almost took her down. Her thyroid stopped working. It’s taken a year to…