Sunday, December 31, 2017

House Games

At the risk of jinxing the whole deal, I can announce that we just signed off on the buyers’ offer for our house.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas in Arlington

My childhood Christmas recollections are less memories than moments, like someone shining a flashlight briefly on a scene and then extinguishing it.

Friday, December 15, 2017


        With a lifetime of head-to-toe freckles, I’ve given little thought to any new spots that arrived.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Tube Terrors

It’s been many years since our own kids passed their driver’s tests, and the grandboys live four hours away, but we still may need to reacquaint ourselves with those parental-guidance warnings on TV shows.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Rooster Maneuvers

My Guy joined the usual suspects again this morning at the Village Store to do his part in drinking coffee and solving world issues. Some locals have labeled the store Town Hall Annex, due to the number of selectmen and town board members that tend to show up there to discuss issues large and small. I just know that without it we never would have found our house painter, plumber, or carpenter.

          Today one of the pressing topics was the local chicken by-law. Last spring at a closely watched town meeting the vote passed to permit chickens on non-farm properties, the only restrictions being the number of chickens and no roosters.

          Apparently lately there’s been a bit of back-and-forth between one homeowner and the building inspector, who’s received the unenviable duty of policing up any chicken violations. 

          The inspector discovered this homeowner was in possession of a rooster and fined him $25.

          In response, homeowner marched off to the internet and bought a certificate designating the rooster as a service animal.

          The inspector countered by informing homeowner that he needed a doctor’s signature to make the service designation legitimate, and levied an additional fine, this time of $50.

          Undefeated, homeowner returned to the internet, found some doctor (I’m sure with stellar qualifications), who for $179 pronounced the rooster as a true, legit service animal.

          Just imagine this gentleman carrying his service rooster into restaurants or stores, or sitting next to him on Jet Blue on his way down to Boca for the season.  
          Stay tuned for the next development. . .

Monday, December 4, 2017

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Cold Memories

Mamie and I went to town yesterday, which means we drove one mile to the little village center for a walk. I thought it would be a nice break for her from the Mobius strip of sidewalks in our condo complex.

           As usual, we parked in the small shopping area that’s made up of a bank, a pizza shop, an insurance guy, and a hairdresser, and then we walked from there to the library in back to drop off some books. She was thrilled to have new places to sniff and pee and trotted ahead of me, tail in the air.

          Through the park with the Civil War statue, past the village coffee shop, and we were on the grounds of the private academy. It was a beautiful sunny day and the students were out in force, passing us on the brick sidewalks. A group of three were paused in front of one of the dorms and they caught my attention because two of the three were wearing camel hair coats, something I don’t remember seeing in a while and particularly not on 16 year-olds. An ankle-length version passed me a few minutes later. All I can figure is this is one more fashion trend I’ve missed, although it could be limited to the stratospheric income range of these students’ families.

          These coats reminded me, though, of a conversation I had with my son-in-law over Thanksgiving. We both remember winter as a time when you just resigned yourself to being cold.

I have a good twenty years on him, but we both grew up in the pre-puffy coat, pre-Thinsulate eras. As a general rule, you only had one layer of wool and a shiny rayon lining between you and old man winter and you would just deal. That’s the way it was - of course you were cold; you were outside.

 Maybe being cold from November through March toughened us. What with the need to get through the cold from point A to point B as quickly as possible, we might have even been in better shape since everyone probably walked faster then, too.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Power of Words

Yesterday I dusted off my brain and went to an annual writers’ conference at Mt. Holyoke College.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A day of no events at all

To give you an idea of the madcap, carefree life of being retired, here’s my Tuesday. 

          Woke up, and realized with no surprise that my cold is still with me. I’m now at the coughing up a lung stage.
Shuffled around with a cup of tea, praised Mamie after she delivered a pee and then a poop on her pad in the bathroom. Yes, I’m insanely spoiled to have adopted a dog that came pad trained. It was 29 degrees out at 7:30 this morning.
          Made French toast, watched a little news – bad idea. The news, not the toast. 
          Took Mamie out for a big walk around the condo complex. Forgot to wear a hat – another bad idea. Will an ear infection be next?
          Went with My Guy over to the tile restorer company to arrange for the Pepto-Bismal tile in the upstairs bath at the still-unsold house to be transformed into a tasteful off-white. At ginormous expense, by the way.
          Went to the *@#! unsold house to put the second coat of blue on the other upstairs bath while My Guy put a last coat on a bedroom.
           Came home (sainted My Guy stayed and blew leaves for another hour) where I was greeted – as usual – by Mamie as though I’d been gone to the North Pole and back. One mad-dash lap around the back yard calmed her down a tiny bit.
          Went out again to buy curtains for the now-blue bathroom to hide the fact that we should have also painted the window. No luck. Tomorrow I’ll pick up some fabric and make them.
          Walked Mamie.
          And here I am.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Thursday, November 9, 2017


Christopher Robin  

Had wheezles
And sneezles,
They bundled him
His bed.
They gave him what goes
With a cold in the nose,
And some more for a cold
In the head.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Leafing Home

If two straight days of lying on my side painting baseboards, coupled with being scrunched on the stairs painting risers wasn’t enough, I did receive a reminder yesterday of why we need to sell our house – and soon.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Memories for Sale


My grandparents’ living room in Tulsa was long, with French doors leading to the screened porch at one end and a floor-to-ceiling window at the other end, all the better to catch those elusive breezes in pre-airconditioning Oklahoma.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Friday, October 27, 2017

That's Entertainment

     After three days of non-stop painting I was grateful to get a day off yesterday.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Any Day Now

     Life here in condo land can be a bit insulating from some of the harsh realities of home ownership.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Dear Reader

My posts have been pretty sporadic lately. I have no real excuse other than the fact that once I let a day or two slide, several more slither away right behind.

          Then again, maybe I’ve been frightened off by some of the word salads I’ve received on my posts.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Money Pit

Today it came close to 80 degrees, but still you can feel the change that’s waiting around the corner. It’s almost dark by dinner time and leaves are drifting down from the trees.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Rolling along

Condo living may be designed to simplify life, but it still requires some adaptation – even in the dog world.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Lawn ornament

     Today I popped over to the house to see what shape the chrysanthemums I'd bought for the front pots were in. I decided they could make it a few more days and gave them some water. 
   But somehow I don't think the prospective buyers coming for the open house on Sunday are likely to pay them much attention. 
   Now we have a new ornament gracing our lawn. The septic guys are starting their magic tomorrow. Kinda wish they hadn't parked that behemoth right on top of our well, though.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Yes, you really can get there from here

     While we’re happily transplanted into the condo, the homestead on the other side of town is still on the market. There’s yet another open house scheduled for Sunday. Yes, like everyone else with a house for sale, we’ll make sure the grass is cut and the mums in the planters are watered, but before that we’ll first be checking the weather as obsessively as a prospective bride planning to trade vows in a pasture. Over the past couple of years the driveway has decided to form a puddle rivaling Lake Michigan with every rainstorm.
          Meanwhile, we also have another challenge – our road. As I may have mentioned before, when we bought our house over twenty years ago, we saw on the description that it sat on a private road. “Private road?” we thought with child-like naiveté, “How lovely!”
          It wasn’t until a few years later that the other shoe fell. A private road means our town is under no obligation, in fact has no intention, of repairing it. Since to create it, the developer originally slapped a layer of asphalt the thickness of pancake batter over what I suspect was a half-hearted sprinkling of pebbles, things have deteriorated over the years.
          Yes, with the frost heaves and thin spots, sensible travel on the road is limited to less than five miles per hour, but come on folks, the street is only three houses long. Plus, if you went any faster, you’d be headed right into the buttress of trees at the end.
          Our former neighbors (and sadly, maybe us, too) are looking into the cost of repairing it ourselves, but no one around here is pouring asphalt in the fall so it’ll likely have to wait until spring.
          Although the town does plow and sand us faithfully, maybe the snow season will begin in November and put down a glorious layer of the white stuff that will mask our problems until someone signs on the dotted line.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Ladies' Night

          Last night I went to an evening soiree (fancy name, but we’re usually in jeans) that a friend organizes periodically.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Men at Work

   Today in the course of my errands, I traveled down Main Street in our little town, where there’ve been ongoing bursts of construction all summer.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Back to School With a Vengence

     I can still remember the orange corduroy jumper I made for my daughter’s first day of school.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Ladies who lunch

Today was my first condo event. It was the ladies luncheon, which happens once a month and which I’d completely forgotten about until someone at the Y asked me if I was going.
          I canceled all thoughts of an afternoon of painting away the giant and ubiquitous flowers in the downstairs bathroom. Food or painting? Easy decision.
          I knew only one or two people there, but I was on familiar ground after all those years of belonging to other ladies’ groups. Name tags were handed out, printed slips about the next card gathering circulated, and someone else sent round an announcement for an event with a ladies club in the next town.
          I was seated near a woman who used to live a few streets over from our house. Her husband had been in the military and she reminded me of other army wives I’ve known – self-possessed, straightforward, and if you needed someone to organize a luncheon for 250, you knew she could put it together in an afternoon.
          Next to me was a tiny older lady no bigger than a minute. When they delivered her shrimp scampi in its fashionably giant bowl, her chin just barely came up to the edge of it. I spent much of my time smiling and nodding at her whispery conversation since I only caught about every seventh word. During a discussion of the storm in Florida, she revealed that she owned several condos down there, one of which was in the process of being sold, and she hoped the new buyers weren’t going to back out. Not a person you would have taken as a real estate mogul.
          Across from me was someone who’d moved to the complex a year ago. I enjoyed her story (told behind her hand because “T” two seats over is a member of the association board) of sneaking an entire sitting area in back of her unit. She’d been told that the condo land managers couldn’t clear out the scruffy area in the woods in back. So she hired a landscaper to go about ten feet into the woods and saw down the scrub trees. The next spring, she cleared away the weeds and shrubbery that had hidden the work, and whataya know, there was a cleared area just right for her lawn furniture!
          The median age of the group was probably 78, but the rebels are alive and well.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Mazel Tov!

This weekend’s Bar Mitzvah for grandson #2 was a roaring success.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Afternoon terror

     No, I'm not packing a miniature sheep for the trip to this weekend's Bar Mitzvah.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Once a teacher, always a teacher

I’ve started down a slippery slope. I’ve just accepted gifts under false pretenses.
          There I was in Staples yesterday, picking up a plastic file box for tax paperwork, a pack of gold and silver Sharpees for kids to sign in at our grandson’s Bar Mitzvah this weekend, and most important of all, a bag of dark chocolate bark with coconut.
          I stepped up to the register, handed over my Staples Teachers Rewards card, and the clerk gave me a knowing look.

          “Have we given you your goody pack yet?”
          (What on earth??)
          “Um, no.” Whatever it was, I knew I hadn’t received it.
          He whipped an envelope from beneath the counter, informing me that I would also receive 10% off my purchase.
          I’ve been retired since 2011, but I hadn’t invited Staples to the party so I guess they thought I was still in the trenches.
          I felt a little guilty as I left, but then I remembered all the money I've spent every September to prep my classroom and my students.

          The envelope turned out to only have a bunch of Staples coupons and half of a Post It notepad.

          And besides, the 10% off paid for my chocolate.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Disappearing Skill

Back when the earth was still cooling, I signed up for driver’s ed class at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Come on over

The best way to entertain is to tell yourself sternly that you’re not going to fuss. You’re going to keep it simple.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Wallflowers at the Dance

Absolutely no one showed up for the open house at our place on Sunday – granted the weather that day was spectacular, but still. . .no one?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Country girl to city girl

Mamie is adjusting nicely to condo living, although I’m sure she misses her favorite patch of pachysandra back at the house. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Land management

Our move is complete.

          That is, as long as you don’t count the boxes filled with tools of his father and his father before him that My Guy is still hauling over from the house. And the many pictures we’ve left on the walls to brighten the now-empty rooms for buyers. Oh, and the shed and garage treasures still to be disposed of – anyone interested in a cross-buck for sawing wood, or perhaps a vinyl panel left over from building our outside shower?

          Our neighbor took the wheelbarrow and my hairdresser came over on Sunday for a big roll of tar paper for the roof of the mudroom he’s adding to his house. How serendipitous that I got my hair cut last week.  At this point, any conversation with us can be dangerous: “Really? You’re thinking about chickens? Well! We just happen to have a length of fencing that would be perfect!”

          Since we’ve only now put the house on the market, we’re wearing a path over the 1.8 mile stretch of Main Street between it and the condo. Sanity prevailed over thrift and we hired someone else to paint two rooms that were looking a bit battered, but we’re still bopping back and forth. I spent much of Sunday morning weeding, but with an acre and a half of land, the process had a teaspoon-and-ocean kind of feel to it. There’s an open house planned for next weekend, so that means back to the homestead for more yard work and touch up.

          Today I hope to get outside here and gain control of the flowerbeds surrounding our condo.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Moving Experience

No, I haven’t fallen into the failing septic system out back or collapsed after the umpteenth trip carrying boxes from the old house to the new. We’ve spent the last two weeks in a different dimension.

Monday, July 17, 2017


As if putting every blessed thing we own into a box, and then cleaning every blessed space where those things sat isn’t enough fun, we’ve had visitors to the back yard today. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Real Estate Glamour

It’s 60 degrees and raining – not very July-like – and so today will be a good packing day. After our flurry of whipping the homestead into a state of unrealistic tidiness for all the real estate photos, I may even welcome the return of boxes everywhere.
          Yesterday we sat with the real estate lady and sorted through documents for a good portion of the morning. I had on a more presentable pair of black shorts and a new-ish tee shirt, now that I had a reprieve from the back-breaking work of shoveling mulch, handwashing the green film from the shadier parts of our siding, and vacuuming and scrubbing floors.
          Before beginning the heavy paperwork, we settled at the kitchen table with her iPad and viewed the photos she’d taken the previous day. Our house, which is a fairly unpretentious place, gleamed invitingly in the pictures. The kitchen beamed back at us, the dining room glowed, and light ricocheted off the living room floor. The upstairs bedrooms somehow had gained at least three feet in square footage and even the Pepto Bismol tile in the guest bathroom wasn’t so bad.
          A small frown crossed the realtor’s forehead when the second bathroom popped into view.
          “I’ve noticed . . . see the tile there? The grout is a bit darker here.”
          I’m sure she’d reviewed all the photos before coming to see us, but as though the thought had just occurred to her, she said, “You know what? If you could just scrub that with a little bleach, I could re-take that before I go. Oh, and if we put some of those beautiful tiger lilies you have on the counter it would look terrific!”
          It was already a humid 85 degrees outside, but we need to sell this house. 
          I dug around through my stripped kitchen cupboards, found something that could pass as a vase, put on my sandals, and went outside. Pickings were a little lean so I climbed the hill next to the house and clipped two tiger lilies and one day lily, along with a few ferns.
          My morning shower was already proving to have been pointless. Perspiring, I left my now-muddy sandals outside and carried the flowers and the vase upstairs.
          I dug the bottle of Clorox out from under the sink. Black shorts and a black and white tee was not the best uniform for this job.
          Hoping she wouldn’t suddenly decide to come up and oversee my efforts, I stripped down to my underwear and got to work.
          I didn’t see a huge change in the grout but I was a little cooler.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Bucket List Revelation

     Thanks to the wild range of jobs I've held over the span of my life - waitress, ice cream scooper, CIA clerk, television production, hospital secretary, teacher - I've had a few experiences I might not have had otherwise.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Stress versus a stroll with a little dog

So that snowball has started its roll down the hill and it’s picking up momentum and objects at an alarming rate.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Monday Errands

Leaving the YMCA today (my water aerobics was class back to normal, thank heaven), I stopped my car for one of the many walkers who hoof it around the complex.

Friday, June 30, 2017

All Wet

It’s official.  I’m a humorless curmudgeon. Maybe not all the time, but I have my moments.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Purge Continues

As we try to clear the decks for The Big Move, some furniture just needs a home other than our basement 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Laura Ingalls Wilder has nothing on us

Remember that chapter in On The Banks of Plum Creek?  
"A cloud was over the sun. It was not like any cloud they had ever seen before. It was a cloud of something like snowflakes, but they were larger than snowflakes, and thin and glittering. Light shone through each flickering particle."  

Well. . .

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Extra! Extra!

“A good newspaper is a nation talking to itself.”
Arthur Miller

Nowadays, it’s a busy time to be a reporter.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


I’m developing a routine here in the land of downsizing. I spent this morning sifting through our 47 years of detritus and boxing up the items for donations.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

They're Baaaack!

I remember in 1978 at our last house coming home at night after my 3 – 11 shift as a secretary in pediatrics at the hospital. With two young kids, these hours worked out well. I only went in two days a week, either Friday and Monday or Saturday and Sunday, which meant I only needed one of the teens in the neighborhood to sit a few hours until my husband got home from work.

          I was a little short on sleep those years, but that wasn’t the hard part about getting home late. Our trees and our house were under attack that year. To reach the front door I had to first travel under the giant maples in the front yard and then under our portico. Both were festooned like a steamer covered in bon voyage streamers, except these were sticky and ended in a creepy caterpillar and they were impossible to see in the dark so I ended up a bit festooned myself.

          The gypsy moths had arrived and they were on everything.

          Our weapon of choice was masking tape and Vaseline, the plan being that the creepers wouldn’t get past the barrier to nest and eat the leaves up.

It worked pretty well except the trees didn’t appreciate the tape either and we lost a few anyway.


 So it was not good news when I looked out the window and saw this.



 And when I looked above the clematis and saw this.



 And even when I looked down on the bedroom floor and  - you guessed it.


Monday, June 5, 2017

A Walk and Random Thoughts

          The weather here being distinctly un-June like, I put on my fleece and took Mamie for her afternoon walk.

Friday, June 2, 2017

I Know All the Best Places

We are on the verge of a major life change here, and before it even happens my day-to-day life is filled with new experiences. I’m now not only spending an inordinate amount of time at liquor stores (source of all the best free boxes), but I can now speak knowledgeably on thrift stores in our area.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

And the battle goes on.

     At the last Town Meeting we passed a warrant item allowing chickens in suburban yards, a ruling apparently embraced with enthusiasm.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Fuzzy Afternoon

It probably says something about our social life that the highpoint of our weekend was a picnic for dogs.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

What global warming?

     Yesterday I climbed out of bed, pulled on socks, sweatpants, sweatshirt, sneakers, and parka, hitched up the tiny dog to her leash and took her out for her morning pee. 
     This morning at exactly the same time of day, I climbed out of bed, pulled on shorts and t-shirt, and stepped into my flip-flops and took the tiny dog out. 
     Today it's in the 90s, 
     Tomorrow night it will be 46 degrees.
     New England is a whimsical place.
      On the plus side, Mamie got a bath today minus the scary hair dryer, but the rest of the day will feature lots of sitting for everyone.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Before Nutrition

 I remember my grandmother telling about her shame at school in Mangum, Oklahoma when she had to take “dirty bread” out of her lunch pail. Even back then my forward-thinking great-grandmother Lucy Wilson had already figured out the benefits of whole wheat bread.
And I like to think my mother approved of watermelon for breakfast because of its antioxidants and amino acids. (In reality, a grumpy kid in the blazing hot Virginia summer mornings could have been a factor.)
But John Gray’s recent post at Going Gently about his sheep and their love of white bread triggered a couple of memories from the 1950s food pyramid.
It’s been years since I’ve had one, but every now and then I’m tempted to pick up the ingredients for a baloney sandwich: spongy white bread, Miracle Whip, and the ultimate illicit pleasure, a big pack of baloney.
Granted, your peanut butter and jelly sandwich was usually bleeding grape jelly through one side by the time you opened your metal lunch box in the cafeteria, but the bread itself was great for wadding into grey balls and flicking at your neighbor.
And in spite of my mother’s offerings of a crunchy peeled white turnip or celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins for a snack, just as common as an after-school treat at our house was white bread spread with margarine and a generous sprinkling of white sugar.

Emptying the Basement

      In spite of a monsoon weekend, our tag sale went off without a hitch. Miraculously, the morning was chilly but dry – a good thing since we had cleverly positioned several things on the lawn to lure shoppers farther in to our garage.