Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wrapping it all up

     We’ve pretty much cleared the house of all that excess food and now I’m wondering if W would notice if I start spiriting Christmas decorations one by one back to the basement.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Miracle

I set out yesterday morning as the family gatherer to score the Christmas roast.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Festive Front Lines

          To my knowledge, no one in my side of the family has owned a gun. Oh, except that relative purported to be the first white woman in the Oklahoma territory, and who was known to tuck a pistol in her garter.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Batteries and Beasts

     I remember when I was a child and had the epiphany that whatever the size of your problem, if it was the only one you had, it was large to you.  

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Monday, December 14, 2015

Start your engines

    The tree is up but undecorated. Even that, though, is a breakthrough.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Monday, December 7, 2015

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Poem for all those pies

I've decided I'm going to trot this poem out every year until it (or you) cries for mercy. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Wildlife in the 'burbs

        Fall is here and getting to and from my car has taken on a reflex-sharpening feature.

          I’m on my out, or on my way in, my thoughts on other things, and juuust as I reach the door to the garage, there’s a 50/50 chance of attack. The already limited porch area is suddenly filled with hysterical diving and flapping. I run for the door and my attackers race for the trees.

With the arrival of colder weather, small birds looking for a warmer nighttime spot have begun roosting in the tangle of our clematis vines.

          The acorn crop was sizeable this fall, as were the acorns. Still, the Front Yard Gang must be tiring of the monotony of their diet. At the beginning of the month we had arranged six tiny pumpkins on the wall around the old oak tree.

 Then there were five.

 This morning another one was gone. Mysteriously, there are no half-eaten shells lying about or tell-tale trails of seeds. There is also no sign of the teensy block and tackle or the ropes pulling last night’s spoil upwards by itsy furry paws.

But the squirrel I saw this morning looked suspiciously smug.

The skirmishes with the new convenience market in town continue.

Parking in our small center of town, particularly during coffee happy hour, is at a premium. Between 7 and say, 9, the spots are packed with people on their way to work, people with time for a chat before work, and people for whom work is happily a distant memory. The primo spots – in front of the village store, source of coffee and conversation – go fast. Next to go has always been the row across the street, in front of the once-gift shop, now convenience market.

Early one morning a customer for the village store failed to see the “for customers of the market only” sign and parked in the new forbidden zone.

The owner of the new market dashed out and began berating the transgressor with: “Can’t you read?” and several other comments, followed up by a call to the police.

          Apparently these owners missed the workshop on community relations.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


     At first glance, our small town hasn’t changed much over the years. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Bridging Eras

     On Saturday we went to see one of those movies that hang in your mind for a while.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

An American in Paris

     In the previous post, I mentioned our family's connection to the events in Paris. Karen was one of our daughter's roommates from Northeastern University. 
   If you'd like the perspective of someone there, check out Karen's blog at:

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Final report

         My final account of this weekend’s writing conference is a bit delayed.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sisters in Crime

My second day at the Sisters in Crime writers conference began early, if not bright. Friday night, in a burst of efficiency - or neurosis - I set not only the alarm on my phone, but also on the hotel clock.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Friday, November 6, 2015

Junior high angst

“Do one thing every day that frightens you.”

                             Eleanor Roosevelt

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Housekeeping 101

     I wasn’t exactly raised by wolves, but I have no warm memories of cozily working by the side of my mother as she handed down kitchen secrets.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Small Town Networks

     Well, I guess I’m on the verge of becoming a regular at the Y’s water aerobic classes.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Midas Land

   We live in what is practically a secret section of Massachusetts: not the Boston area, and not in the Berkshires, which are on the other end of the state. Yes, there is actually something in between. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Weather Junkies

I’ll bet, like me, you consider the person who slows down to rubberneck at road accidents one of the lowest life forms. But I’ll also bet that, like me, you can’t help but glance over as you drive by; I mean, come on, you’ve already had to slow down because of those terrible people in front of you. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

No Good Deed. . . .

The Stephen King movie, Cujo, was on last night, reminding me that I had a blog post to write.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

See you in the funny pages

Never mind Europe’s schizophrenic opening and slamming of doors to the Serbian refugees or the latest hijinks of Hillary and The Donald.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Raising the Dead

I’m not sure if any connection was intended, but our small town used the Columbus Day weekend to commemorate some explorers of our own.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Sole Searching

          My husband needs shoes. I know this. He doesn’t. He’s in denial on this subject. Always. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A place to lay my head

     You don’t usually hear people complaining about a lack of development in New Jersey, but we’ve found a small axe to grind on that subject. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


     Even if I tried to be in denial about having a grandson old enough to turn into a teenager this summer, I’ve had other proof. He recently had his braces removed – an impossibility to me since it seems like they were just put on a few months ago.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Weltanschauung Experience

Yesterday’s sunshine and temp of 72 degrees called our creaky knees and aerobically deficient bodies outside.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Curious Cases of Judi and Jean

Two more of my friends have just made that seismic shift of moving on from the familiar, something I’ve written about before. A Change for the Better

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Today's Question

Are men more changed by living with women than women are changed by living with men?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Everything old is new again

I’ve just realized there’s been a theme running through this past week.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

All I've gotta do is act naturally

Click here for Ringo singing "Act Naturally"

Yesterday evening my stomach had the same ominous chunk of lead that settles there before I go to the dentist. That might as well have been my destination; there I was brushing my teeth, looking for spinach (pretty tricky since dinner had been sandwiches), and then flossing.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Shower of the Century

      After years – and I mean years – of our family cooking along quietly, we are now on a roller coaster of events, one seemingly right after another.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Summer Stroll

      Now that I could move again without grabbing the nearest object to stand frozen in agony until the back spasm ended, I decided it was high time to try going for a walk. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Thank You, Birthday

          The phone rang at 7:30 am today, and when caller ID showed me that it was from my daughter, my immediate thought was, “what’s wrong?”

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Memo from my body

Since an impending birthday apparently isn't enough to remind me of my own mortality, my body has helpfully rolled up its sleeves and jumped in.

Friday, August 28, 2015


There’s been an outcry lately against the growth of standardized testing in public schools.

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Simple Morning

     After two days at home, the plan was to get out and rub elbows with someone other than my loving husband, while also accomplishing some errands.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

In Praise of Aimlessness

After last weekend’s achievement of getting seven people on time from our house to a wedding three towns away, followed later by orchestrating three days of activities for the grandboys with the precision of a landing at Normandy, I’m learning to appreciate retirement all over again.

Friday, August 21, 2015


          The pile of improbably-colored sneakers is gone, the doorknobs are de-stickified, and the two-inch-deep aggregate of popcorn has been scraped from the kitchen floor. The house is silent. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Banjoes, Bugs, and Bubbles

eHarmony, and other online dating services seem to be doing their job. We’ve known several couples, at least two of them in their 60s, who are together today because of them. Our nephew is the latest in the list. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Fuzzy Things

In his prime, our now-departed – and deeply missed - cat Satchel was a hefty guy. Even as a kitten he stood taller than most cats, and he definitely outweighed the little Scottie dog that he’d chase back up the street from time to time. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sweet Visitor

          As I sit here, even though there’s not a breath of air in the trees, the leaves of the mountain laurel outside my office window are fluttering away. It’s not a teensy, tiny microburst, but rather the hummingbird who has become my new BFF. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Home is where the laundry is

        We’re safely home from our vacation, although it is a bit hard to differentiate our vacation life from our retired life.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Mean Streets of Eastham

Our vacation week is winding down and soon we’ll be returning to our normal beachless life. That is, we will as long as one of my morning walks here doesn’t result in my husband driving around, calling my name from the car window because I’ve never made it back.

Maybe it’s my inner gyroscope that is tilted off-kilter as soon as our tires hit the sandy roads of the Cape, but I find it almost impossible to navigate here.

If we’ve had the bad judgment to put me behind the wheel, we’ll set off in the car, pull to the end of our tiny, tree-shrouded road, and my husband will ask why I’m turning left instead of right, or taking Great Pond Road instead of Samoset. The honest truth is that I have no idea where I’m going.

A rat in a maze has a higher probability of getting to his goal than I do.

The roads here are to the most part unlabeled, and more circuitous than a twisted colon.

I’ll think I have a handle on the relationship of one road to another – “Oh yes”, I say, “this road is parallel to that other one and therefore leads to. . .”

But then it doesn’t, because it takes a whimsical turn, and then a dogleg, and then jogs back in another direction. 

Yesterday I thought I’d be safe if I walked in a tidy circle, which would therefore bring me back to where I began. I plugged my book on tape into my head (Frog Music by Emma Donoghue) and set off for the end of our road, following a route that I thought would be logical, one road leading to another, and back again.

I did make it back, but only after walking right past the entrance to our tiny road (no street sign) and having to retrace my steps. If it hadn’t been for that gigantic hydrangea bush I noticed the first time around, I’d still be out there.

I’ve already informed my husband he’s forbidden to have any emergencies requiring me to leap in the car and drive him to medical care. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

PM and AM

After Monday’s lunch at Martha’s Vineyard ($14 dollars extra to add four shrimp to my salad), we decided yesterday that it might be wise to scale down a bit.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sand and Tchotchkes

Every year at this time we head out for a week at the Mecca of Massachusetts, Cape Cod.

Beach Read

Here we are in the last official month of the summer. Since I'm at the beach myself, it seems only fair that I provide you with some beach reading of your own.

In between my other posts, I'll be popping in a few excerpts from my book, Earthly Needs. 
(There's a link to Amazon oh-so conveniently located to the right of this page.)

Friday, July 31, 2015

Mature Thoughts

The other day, a scene from the movie Postcards from the Edge popped into my head. Shirley MacLaine is in the hospital and her
face is as empty of make up – and eyebrows - as a portrait of Elizabeth the First.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Defining Moments

“Those moments, they stare back at you.”  

Who knew that I’d be using the Sunday night series on HBO, True Detective, as a jumping-off point for a post?

It’s even more amazing that it would be dialogue from the show that would trigger thought, considering that Rolling Stone described the dialogue from this year’s season as
“sounding cribbed from a video game cut scene.”

The catalyst was an event from this past Sunday’s episode in which
Vince Vaughn’s character, Frank Semyon, visits the widow of one of his henchmen, killed in the line of duty.

He pulls the bereaved young son aside after learning the boy is inconsolable over his father’s death.  In an attempt to comfort him, he says:

“Sometimes a thing happens, splits your life. There's a 'before' and 'after,'" says Frank to the kid. "But if you use it right — the bad thing — you use it right and it makes you better. Stronger. Gives you something most people don't have."

My life has happily been free of murderous thugs wanting to off members of my family.

And yet when I look back, those milestone are there, moments so defining that a big, wide line divides everything into the before and after that Vaughn’s character speaks of:

Moves from one place to another: New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia,
          Oklahoma, Virginia, England, Virginia, New Jersey, Georgia, New Jersey,
          California, and finally, back to Massachusetts.
Changes in career: waitress, clerical government work, ice cream scooper, car
rental agent, hospital secretary, television production instructor,
teacher, and now writer
A sudden plunge from irresponsibility to adulthood: college to motherhood to career
And all those decisions, both private and public.

I remember giving birth to my first child, alone in an Army hospital while two Nurse Ratcheds stared down at me and commented to each other, “She doesn’t know how to breathe.”

I remember running hand-held camera on a remote shoot where I was not only the oldest person there, but also the only female.

I remember finally slogging to the end of my Masters in English, after three years of reading a book and/or writing a paper every two or three days while still working full time.

Even staring down a room-full of large, grumpy teenagers who had already decided they didn’t like English or me even though they’d only entered my room for the first time ten minutes before. 

And after I conquered each experience, I told myself, “If I can do this, I can do anything.”