Sunday, October 16, 2016

Morning walk

Yesterday evening we invited the next door neighbors over for drinks to thank them for watching our place while we were away. Four hours later My Guy and I finally scarfed down some scrambled eggs at 9:30. I'll need to tone up my imbibing skills if I'm going to survive when we return in the winter. 

A walk this morning seemed like a cleansing way to begin the day. 
Not quite the same as my morning stroll in our small New England town. 

There were plenty of locals:
And the sidewalk next to the undeveloped land in back of the complex can make me walk I little faster - sightings of bobcats and alligators and rumors of wild pigs aren't uncommon. 
Instead of gold and red maple leaves, the sidewalks have discarded palm parts like this pre-historic looking husk. 
And instead of strands of ivy, trees become home for opportunistic ferns and vines.  

But the sign at the pool house woke me up faster than my morning cup of tea. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

We're not in Massachusetts anymore . . . .

We've left the land of apple cider and sunset colored leaves for two weeks. 

I didn't even need to see the palm tree outside our window to know I was in Florida. 
Two ads from the local paper were indications enough:

Friday, October 7, 2016

Two Dinners

          Life feels as though it’s zipping along, although I’ve had large swaths of downtime so I fear my absence here is due more to lethargy than pressing obligations.
          The past week included a visit to the hills of New Jersey to visit grandchildren (and their parents) where we stood on a succession of wet soccer fields in unrelenting mist. Still, it was pleasant – isn’t that what the Irish call “soft” weather ? -  and brought back memories of other fields with my own children galloping up and down.
          We also managed a grown-up dinner at a newly opened local restaurant that, sadly, was so excellent its success will likely move it on to a larger venue.

I mean, pork chops with an expresso hazelnut demi-glaze and mustard spaetzle, heirloom carrots and baby kale? Or my chkoice: wood grilled shrimp with creamy heairloom grits, smokey bourbon butter, braised greens, and jalapeno jelly?
Hackettstown, New Jersey never had it so good.  

          This week I met for dinner with a newly-formed gathering of mystery writers of Western Massachusetts where I found myself becoming uncharacteristically quiet, surrounded as I was by writers much more accomplished than myself. “Unpublished” felt as though it was tattooed across my forehead.
Among those in attendance –

Lisa – cultural and intellectual historian, author of at least six books, subject of
          several interviews on National Public Radio, and absurdly pleasant and
Lee – former television writer and producer (Edgar Award for best television
          teleplay, author of several fiction and non-fiction books.
Glenn –author of 15 mysteries, professor of philosophy
Ray – our organizer and representative from the Boston branch of Mystery
 Writers of America, author of God-knows how many Boston-based
 mysteries, winner of this award and that award. Also absurdly pleasant and self-effacing.

          I just tried not to use double negatives and pick my teeth. My degrees, years of teaching English, and 2 ½ (mediocre) books were mere foothills to their Mt. Everests. Still, it was helpful to be surrounded by writers and be reminded that this was something I enjoyed and should stop neglecting. And my pasta was excellent.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Gult, defiance, and weather control

          In one day, my laundry went from shorts to jeans, and evenings of walking the dog in tee shirts and sandals faded to a distant memory. I woke up Sunday morning to a chilly bedroom in a chilly house. Fall had arrived but our heat hadn’t. I still have a knee-jerk reaction to the first round of cool weather, telling myself to dig out my socks and sweatshirts and get on with it. The house was 62 degrees but I hadn’t turned on the heat yet because our storm windows weren’t down, thus resulting in all that oil-burner coziness leaking outside.
On the plus side, I was driven to make a really good batch of impromptu minestrone and onion/dill bread.
          All those years of watching pennies make me feel really guilty if I move the thermostat past 64. This year, however, I declare to the world that like Scarlett, “I’ll never go hungry cold again!” I am no longer going to shiver under a lap blanket while watching TV, or sit on one hand to warm it while the other holds the book I’m reading. At this point in my life, I deserve to be comfortable in my own home.
Another factor is that we have a house sitter coming while we’re away for a couple of days, and while I might be willing to shuffle around in fleece, I won’t ask that of someone else. For all I know, she’s that delicate species, an apartment dweller, who lives in a blissfully steady 72 degrees year-round..
And of course, after four hours yesterday of scraping the window tracks where sadistic bugs build small empires for their cocoons, then washing storms and screens, and finally battening everything down, today it’s in the 70s. It’s the same phenomenon that occurs in the spring when I pack away all my sweaters and boots and nature piles on a last-minute snowstorm. I’m beginning to believe that I possess the power to control the climate – even if it is in the opposite direction.  

Friday, September 23, 2016


Last night we watched the first episode of Designated Survivor, the new series starring Kiefer Sutherland. During the State of the Union address the Capitol is bombed, killing everyone attending the speech except for the one member of the Cabinet who is parked in a safe location for just this event.
          Sutherland plays the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, a position with little glory and in this representation, even less respect. After everyone in the government is wiped out, he’s hustled off to the White House and plunged into a war room with trigger happy generals and officials who are making little attempt to mask their dismay at this new head of the government.
          It’s a compelling premise and I think Designated Survivor has found a place in our DVR line-up.
          However, a warning bell went off as I thought about it. Sutherland’s character begins as someone with few skills for the bump-um cars of political life. It’s easy to see where this will likely go. He’ll fumble and fall occasionally, but will ultimately rise above the backbiting, and with his Everyman integrity, he’ll be a success.
          Granted Sutherland’s unassuming academic bears little resemblance to one of our candidates, but is there a possibility this a certain segment of the American voting public might thump the arm of their Lazyboy, gesture at the TV with the remote and say, “Well there ya go! He’s no politician and look how swell he’s doing!”

Monday, September 19, 2016

Squats of Joy

 We’ve acquired a 6 year old dog with unconventional bathroom habits.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


          The past two days have been exercises in optimism that didn’t always connect with reality.