Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Everything xoxo

I'm off to Disneyworld and breakfasts with Mickey Mouse and a dozen of my family. Things are much improved here. It is my great hope all is well with my dear and talented blog friends and visitors. Thank you for your friendship.

As of 2016, my prayer machine is in 5th gear.

Love always,

Saturday, December 12, 2015


Trust me: here is the BEST sugar cookie recipe in the entire world, guaranteed. You will probably thank me! If you make them, I'd love to know if you agree. This recipe long ago compliments of my friend Barbara Bendix, who knows her cookies :^)
For cookies:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3 tsp vanilla
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
For icing:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 pound confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon vanilla
Prepare cookies: in a mixing bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer. Add sugar and beat until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and beat until incorporated.
Sift together the remaining ingredients; stir them into the creamed mixture and mix well. Wrap dough in plastic (sedan) wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
On a lightly floured surface roll portions of dough out to about 1/4 inch thick--I say the thicker the better! Cut out cookies with cookie cutters. Place cookies on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 8 minutes, maybe 10 until edges of the cookies look slightly golden. (Don't overcook!) Cool cookies on wire racks until ready to decorate.
Prepare icing: In a bowl cream together butter, confectioner's sugar and vanilla. Add enough milk to allow icing to hold its shape but still move easily when you stir it. Test consistency: if icing is too dense, add more milk; if too runny, add more confectioner's sugar. Ice cookies with a knife or pastry bag and add whatever sprinkles you want. Place cookies separately until icing hardens. (We separate the icing in bowls and add coloring so we have green, pink-red, and white cookies.) Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
Happy Holidays my friends. Things are looking up in my small corner of the world.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

What I Do

"Hello…it's Me." Here's my report from a place of maybe not thriving, but thankfully surviving.

Normally I'd be all about the holidays. All my senses appreciate Christmas: the scent of balsam, candle lights, my amazing frosted sugar cookie recipe, the voices of old friends, the feel of it all. I'm not in that space this year because as I've said JB is sick and our current days are a bit quiet and a lot solitary. (Update: there is progress.)

Still, something stirs for me this time of year. I give my Mother credit for creating the wonder of the season for me. She baked apple pies and filled our stockings and set extra plates at the table. If money was tight, which it was, I was not privy to that part. 

I have my own traditions. Even now, this year scaled down, I make sure I comfort my deep sense of tradition and charm and gratitude. This is how I do it:   

-Red Poinsettias and scented pine cones throughout the house

-Baked sugar cookies frosted and decorated, one by one, enough to box up and share with whomever I happen to come across

--Holiday cards of my own design and embellished in my turtle pace of writing my hellos and good wishes and updates, one by one

--Finding just the right books and presents for my four precious grandkids, ages 2, 4, 6, and 8; and for my precious daughter who, let it be known, I would readily give both my eyes to (poor JB--I know for sure I would give her at least one)

--Outside lights on the front of the house, this year these cool red and green laser dots ( that I think of as a gift to my neighborhood

--Listening to Adele. Funny that I've only just discovered her for myself. Hello..It's me…  :^)

That's enough. My point is that this holiday season will be a different and tough one for me but not to the point of sacrificing a spirit that rejoices within me.

Oh, one last thing: On Christmas Day, I and JB and our family--fourteen of us in all--are scheduled to fly to Disneyworld in Florida for a full week of fantasy and wild fun. We've planned it for months. But JB can't come. And I'm not yet sure she'll be well enough for me to leave her. I hope so but I'm waiting to worry: it's too soon to know but I hope I can go and I hope by Christmas Day JB is feeling more like herself. 

A final thing: I'm happy for my life. Even like now. 

Happy Holidays and The Best of Tidings to my friends here. Tsup & Mwah. 

Love love

Sunday, November 22, 2015

This Time of Year...

 It's about time to stop being cryptic. I've been cautious to admit that my JB is sick, that despite enough doctors and tests to fill a hospital we don't yet know why, and it's been tough and sad and sometimes scary. 

Normally I'm a fan of fall-turned-winter and the upcoming holidays. I nest, I bake, I give presents, I plan visits, I light candles, I give thanks. I'm also a natural optimist and a controlling problem-solver, so it's not easy for me to fess up to feeling lost and nervous. But there you have it: JB is sick. I believe we will step by step figure out what's wrong and I believe in time she'll be okay, but in the meantime I'm sad and worried and my heart breaks for her and I've lost my day-to-day best buddy. 

Not to mention this week my patience with right wing misinformation about Syrian refugees--after everything they've been through, rejecting them as if they're terrorists--my patience is gone. All the real fear about the brutality of ISIS must be addressed and minimized, but please let us be intelligent enough not to blame the people who have actually suffered what we most fear.

With that out of the way, of course life still offers grace and fun. Here's my update on that part:

1. My friend Hells (blog name: Baino's Banter) came visiting from Australia, along with her friend Jeff from LA. We had a grand few days as good friends do. First time in Provincetown and Hells and Jeff: come back anytime. 

 2. It's been a real concern to move to a small town by the sea where the nearest hospital is an hour away. But I've been pleasantly surprised by the health center here. JB and I have found a very good primary care doctor and I can tell he is going to help JB sort out what's wrong, test by test, specialist by specialist. Plus there's something to be said for artwork in the exam rooms...

3. This is no more and no less a normal view from the parking lot of the grocery store. The sunrises and sunsets here in Provincetown are unbelievably beautiful. Sometimes the sky is orange and some sometimes pink. Every day around four thirty the gulls fly overhead, in unison, back to the wharf for their dinner. Last week I saw a hawk perched on an arbor. Families of foxes move around yards and side streets freely. It's nice to have moved here: stilted and punctuated for the time being, but all this natural beauty helps.

4. More beauty: low tide.

 5. And our house. I swear it was the only house in town we could afford but we could tell it had good bones. Little by little we've come to this: a fence, an arbor, new shingling, clam shells in the driveway, repair of the brick steps.  The house is nothing fancy and without JB's presence, the inside is only semi- cozy, but this Thanksgivin I'll be saying an extra thank you if only for this part.

6. Damn my iPhone. I used to keep my Canon camera nearby most of the time, and now I lazily rely on my phone. But every so often it lets me capture a shot like this: an elderly couple in the doctor's waiting room.

 7. And finally, my high school reunion--the first one I've ever gone to. These are my friends from junior high school and you know what?--after forty plus years of little or no contact, we are as warm and comfortable with one another as if no time has passed.  Roots.

I've noticed in the last week or two some of us bloggers are talking about why we are or aren't blogging as we used to. I know I haven't made the same depth of friendships as I did years back. But there are exceptions  (8, you know xo.) I'm not going anywhere--I love the blogs! 

Please wish JB well and send a blessing her way. 


Monday, November 16, 2015


It's not easy but I'm going to keep believing that human kindness and civility will balance things out. What a crazy scary world.

I have a challenge here in this beautiful place I've moved to. I think it's temporary but it's the reason I haven't been blogging: just haven't had the spirit. I'm working, writing, cooking, driving, grandparenting, puttering, planting, and half the time feeling sorry for myself.

But. I'm still a lucky duck and hope definitely floats.

With love

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Settling In

Hello from Provincetown! We are 95% moved in and the autumn seascape could not be more beautiful. I am still hibernating but I know rustles of activity are beginning to surface. I may walk down the street to ask a B & B if they'd like to offer workshops with me; I may take a writing course; I may join a town committee. But not yet. First I need to keep moving slowly.

Last weekend I went to my first and only high school reunion. With the exception of this crew--all of us friends since I was barely out of elementary school--I hadn't seen most of my classmates in fifty years. I was popular in high school and at the time I worked hard for that to be so. I was also kind, and that was re-enforced by the several 'loner' kids who sought me out fifty years later to say hello. I was also irreverent and funny and not beyond time in after-school detention. I straightened out my senior year so I could go to college, but barely. Since then, I've somehow become smarter. And still irreverent.

I have some impressions about people my age fifty years later. Less tolerance for b.s. More appreciation  of time and family. Calmer. Settled. But still traveling.

My heart hasn't let go of the farms and back roads I've left. I insisted on bring orchard apples back to the ocean with me and I think I will head back to those farms at least once or twice a year. I'm in search of locally grown fruit and vegetables and I think that search won't be easy. This is Lookout Farm in South Natick, Mass. Those are pumpkins in the foreground, there for the picking. I brought home a peck of apples and I'm ready to make apple crisp. And buttermilk biscuits too. And then, in time, apple pies and holiday cookies and chocolate cupcakes. I'm a sap for holidays.

My daughter Jess has four children and she calls the two youngest 'the littles.' Ages 4 and 2, Here are the littles. This is a huge delight in my life--these four fascinating kids. They are wild and entertaining and wonderful and exhausting. They call me Gram, except 2 year old Reese, who calls me BB by mistake. Which I don't mind….

This is the scene up the street. The bay sparkles like this almost every day. Sometimes people ride horses on this beach, and sometimes you can see seals playing in the background. Often this is a place to calmly walk and breathe in ocean air that surely must heal and help. I'm grateful to be here. It's been a bitch of a move but we're here and the house is nice and the bay is a block away and winter will be desolate and I just may finish this book of mine sometime soon.


Friday, October 02, 2015

Passion for Sale

I wrote this a while back and I'm sharing now because it's time I've reclaimed my writing self on my blog. I got the idea for this story from a sign in an art gallery. If you have the time to read it, I hope you like it and I'd like to know either way.


Passion For Sale

It was unusual to hear her alarm: the first time she’d set it since she moved to Bangor. But she was going to be there when the doors opened, so there would be no chance of missing out.
     She chose a purple lightweight top that matched her fitted jeans. She wiggled into the sandals she had bought in Harwich the last day of the trip, just before Brady left for grad school. She decided upon the slightest mascara and a satin plum blush, not something she normally wore, but she wanted to look long and slim and shimmered today. 
     She arrived at the market at 10:03 am and was surprised that there was no line. She was not sure whether to go directly to customer service or to the cashier line, but instead she stopped the lanky teenager in the grocery section, stacking avocados just so.
     “Excuse me,” she said. “Where do I find the passion special? I’d like three pounds.”
     The boy nodded. “Oh the passion on sale for $ 4.99 a pound? It’s not us. It’s Bernasky’s Market down the street. Just a block from here.”

She was chagrined. So much for a reliable alarm clock when she had the address wrong. She walked to the swinging doors and on to the sidewalk where the sun was strong. 
     “Oh damn,” she thought. She hurried her pace until she reached Bernasky’s and sure enough, there was a line. Five people ahead of her, four women and one man who looked to be in his early 30’s, John Lennon glasses and a neatly trimmed beard not quite hiding the nervous twitch of his upper lip. 
     Most of the women were her age, except for the one who looked like a plus sized Joni Mitchell. Bigger Joni stood in line, holding her purse in front of her with both hands, her legs swaying softly to keep her nervousness in check. 

     The line moved quickly and before she knew it she was sitting across from  a woman with grey wild hair and kind eyes and a clipboard. 
     “Are you here for the passion special? she asked.
     “Yes, I’d like three pounds.”
     “Oh dear, I’m sorry. We have a limit of two pounds per customer.” The woman smiled at her. “But that’s okay. Two pounds won’t last you as long but it’s just as potent.” Then the woman looked at the clipboard. “I have to screen you before we can sell you the passion at the sale price. State law.”
     “That’s okay,” she said. She knew this part already.

“There are five questions. Don’t worry about the perfect answer. It’s not really a test.”
     She nodded. 
     “The first question: do you have experience with astonishment?”
     How should I answer? she thought. Should I just say, ‘yes’ or does she want to know specifics? Keep it simple, Brady had told her so many times. 
     “Yes,” she said. “Quite a bit.”
     “Good,” the woman said. "That is a definite prerequisite. If you don’t know how to be astonished, the passion won’t work. We have people come back looking for refunds even though we told them upfront no refunds. We want to make sure about the astonishment.”
     She nodded.
     “Next, do you have any physical limitations?”
     Oh dear, she thought. What does she mean? Should I tell her that sometimes I am frozen in place or that when it’s the best I cry? 
     “Do you mean am I healthy?” she asked.
     “Well, kind of. Passion is powerful and it moves quickly. We want to be sure you your body will hold up.”
     “Oh yes,” she answered. “I’m more than fine.” She almost laughed out loud at that. My body is definitely more than fine, she thought. In fact,  passion makes me stronger. 

    “Okay, good.” The woman leaned forward, just a little.
      “Question 3: Do you understand that passion is a natural resource and must be handled with reverence?"
     This question caught her off guard. She had spent what seemed like all of her life seeking answers to so many questions and never once had she trounced on reverence. She was upset with herself that her hunger too often governed her choices, true, but she knew reverence.
     “Yes I understand,” she said. Her voice dropped and the woman noticed.
     “This makes you sad? the woman asked.
     “Yes,” she answered. Oh what the hell, she thought. Why not say. 
     “I’m here because I’ve been unable to afford passion. When I saw it was on sale today I couldn’t pass it up. It’s awful to live without it. It’s one thing to never have it because then you probably don’t know. But to have passion, to feel it overtake you  and then lose it, that is very difficult.”
     The woman with the grey hair let go of her pen and put her hand over the clipboard. 
“Honey, I wish I could give you three pounds. But I can’t. I can only give you two. It should be enough. I have some concern that your sadness might dilute what you hope for. This is not a guaranteed product. It requires abandon, in a way. You know?”
     “Yes, I know,” she said. She looked directly at the woman. Wild grey hair and kind eyes. “Is this organic passion?” she asked her.
     “Yes, the woman said. “I’ve used it for many years. It’s never let me down. But when you’re not sure I’ve found it’s best to start with a small dose and let it build up.”
     “How so?” she asked.
     “Well,” the woman said, “Obviously, the recipe for physical passion is the best. Oh my god. Pity anyone who has not felt that.” She smiled. “At first I didn’t know about other passions. Marshes with ponds and cattails. Foxes at the horizon. The right kind of telephone ring. You’ll only need two tablespoons to get to that kind of passion. That’s what I mean. Two pounds will last you.”

"But I don’t recommend starting with fireworks, if you know what I mean. That can take up to a cup and if you choose the wrong person, that could even void the sale. And we can’t give refunds.”
     She nodded. Thank you,” she said.
     “Two more questions, honey.”
     “Sure,” she said.
     “What do you know about astral projection?”
It was her turn to smile. “I know where you’re going with that question. Out of body, definitely. I treasure that. I could be swept up and tossed into the middle of the universe and my last feeling would be total mindful peace. But I know how to come back too.”
     “Oh that’s important. To come back. God is in the details.”
The woman leaned toward her again. “Last question. Do you know the policy on sharing?”
     “Yes. No passion without sharing.”
     “That’s right. And that seems to be tricky for a lot of people. Passion is such a private thing, after all. But a conscious attempt to keep it to yourself doesn’t work. There is some community required. Otherwise, it’s just a transaction. Do you understand?”
     “Yes,” she said. 
     “Okay, take this receipt to register number four. Oh wait, they'll ask you paper or plastic. Say paper.”

Finally confident that two pounds on passion at the sale price of $ 4.99 pound was now hers, she spread her arms and grinned wider than she had since Brady went to grad school.
     Ma'am,” she said. “Neither. I’ll tuck that passion under my breastbone and I’ll carry it with me right now, past the broken fire hydrant across the street, past the snow cap hydrangea in front of the fire station, past the little dog with one eye who wags when he sees me. I”ll carry my passion with me under my breast bone and I will use it freely. Even though I’ll save some for the earth to move right under me.”
     “I know you will, honey. I can tell it’s working for you already.”

     “Yes,” she said. “That could be the sixth question: “Do you know it kicks in as soon as you are ready?”
     “Have an astonishing day," the woman with the wild grey hair told her.

Oh yes, she said. Oh yes oh yes oh yes. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday Morning

Here's a first world problem: I'm here, this very place is barely a block away from where I sit now, I work very part-time in a lucrative job I quite enjoy, I have time to create a landscape and garden in my new tiny yard, I have a family I would easily die for, I'm 250 pages into the writing of a novel that excites and pleases me, I have enough money to fill the refrigerator and fill my fancies.

It's not all rosy: my back and hips and knees are an orthopedic mess. Much of the time I pretend I will lose weight and commit to the gym and then I will be able to walk a mile, or two or three, as I used to, but really, today, I limp when I walk and I walk less than ever. I've called the gym and I will go again, but I don't like the intrusion of it. I'm a sedentary person, a writer, a counselor, happy on the couch.

Besides that sometimes I'm lost, as in unrooted. JB is having her own hard time and though we try to help one another, that old adage that  you have to know how to swim before you can rescue someone else applies here. My biggest problem--the one that gnaws at me--is that I am too far from my daughter and her children--my grandchildren--to be woven into their daily life and daily needs--a ride to soccer practice, an early morning fill in because one of the kids is sick and there's a big work presentation required. My feelings vacillate between sadness for not moving right next door ("No, Mom, I don't think that would work; you should move where you want, really") and worrying that more and more I will become less and less prominent in my family's fabric ("Don't take this the wrong way, Mom, we're fine.")

I told you this was first world stuff. I won't prolong this post by daring to compare my actual status to the families and tragedies in Syria or to the heartless appearance of a lost job or a relentless cancer cell. I know better; I know good fortune when I see it. But yes I'm melancholy. I think (hope) it's temporary--so many changes and challenges in the past year. Now from this small beautiful land surrounded by the sea, how I figure out (try) how to walk well again and how I make certain I connect enough and well with my beloved family: these are my thoughts this Sunday morning, the kindest breeze coming through the window next to me.

Working on what matters by thinking. And not thinking. 

(nice to be blogging again)


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Cape Cod USA and Two New Arrivals :^)

Well, this is not entirely true. I love fancy meals and I'll spend my last dime on books and anything for the garden. But the last year has been one of paring down: clothes, thoughts, priorities, possessions. I want a mind without clutter and a heart with plenty of room.  

So it is that JB and I have sold our house and three weeks ago moved into a smaller version inside and out. By the sea. At the land's end. To a peninsula with 20.000 summer people and maybe 700 winter people. This is a place where I will finish my second novel and hope it's as fine as I think it might be.

And JB has her own studio 'downtown,' at Whaler's Wharf. Here's her collage work on metal. She's talented. Not yet confident, but talented. 

Here it is! This is low tide a block from our house. Provincetown Massachusetts, at the tip of Cape Cod, home to crabs and seagulls and cormorants and seals and whales sharks and shells and wavy sand. And now home to us too.

This is a typical view when strolling along Commercial Street, a three mile main street from the east end to the west end. It's so calm, walking along and seeing this. Can you tell?

And these are the Flower Cottages, one after another, booked by returning families years in advance. Tiny. Simple. Charming.

 This is how I want to approach life and this is how I want to feel most of the time. It's not how I feel now but I'm facing that there are reasons for that. Transitions take time.

One huge transition: my Mom died. She somehow managed to tell us--one by one-- that she loved us and she died with the same grace and dignity that filled her life. I won't stop missing her. I love you, Mom.

Provincetown is known for the amazing way light bounces off the water. I doubt this photo has been photoshopped. There are times when the sky and bay look exactly like this. I've seen it.

And OMG. Gay marriage became the law of the land. In my lifetime! I used to stutter over the use of pronouns: not daring to say 'she' when 'she' was the right word. No more. Still need to be vigilant and aware of safety in many parts of the world, but legal equality and public affirmation feels AWESOME.

For what I hope will continue for years ahead, my daughter and family come to the Cape each summer for a week's vacation. This was the summer that baby Reese became a toddler and not-so-brave Logan stopped being afraid of the pool. Enlarge this shot of him, please. His joy is so darling.

How about this bay view at lunch? Ross' Grill. Terrific. 

And finally, two boxes of books are unpacked and have a home. Early mornings I find myself sitting on the futon in the little blue room and just staring at them. I don't know why but I find contentment in these books. 

There. That's what I'm up to. They'll be more photos coming and more about life on Cape Cod. And life with four wild and wonderful grand kids. And life as a writer and a counselor and wouldn't it be nice if I took up kayaking? And watched a storm heading in over the bay in December? And wouldn't it be nice if I could just take a breath and settle down? Not yet. I'm here and it's nice and surely that will be enough. Soon I hope. Once I calm down and settle in. :^)


Friday, September 04, 2015

Here. I. Am.

Well: we're here. JB and I arrived in Provincetown 10 days ago, followed by a 35 foot moving truck 3 days after that. It's been STRESSFUL and EXHAUSTING--what seems like months of packing and sorting and planning and scheduling….and feeling. Possessions aren't just things: they're memories. I've cried a bit packing those boxes. It's been hard to downsize--books, clothes, papers and pens--but I did it and I'm doing it and I'm glad.

Moving to Provincetown feels almost perfect except for the fact that my daughter and SIL and 4 precious fascinating grandchildren are two hours away. Maybe that doesn't sound like much of a distance, and it isn't, but it's far enough that I wasn't there to hear about the first day of school and I can't spontaneously take them to my new beach. Still, on Monday we traveled that 2 hours and took the two older boys to play miniature golf and then games at the arcade, and then lunch at Pizzeria Uno. And afterwards, JB and I took these two 'littles'--shown here--out for ice cream and chased them in the park across the street. 

Simple good times that embed simple good memories. That is how I want these kids to remember me. And how I want them to know how much I love them.

JB has a studio at Whalers' Wharf, located on the third floor of an open air building that is just fantastic. She is excited in an extraordinary way and that makes me excited too. As for me, this 1400 square foot house is feeling good and so is the small areas of our small yard. I will take my turtle time and landscape each. 

I am also getting ready to write again, to return to my almost finished novel; first draft finished, not yet edited or shopped around. I will need a routine here and I don't have it yet, which is fine with me.

It's been pretty emotional moving. My Mother died where I have moved from and even irrationally I feel like I've left her alone. Too, I will miss the farms and fresh fruit and vegetable stands and some friends and the house. The new owners are painting all the walls white: I'm hoping the house won't mind….

If you are still reading this, please excuse the fact that this is all about me and says very little; just a broad update on my comings but beneath it all a wish for a happy life here for JB and me. I think we have a good shot at that. I wouldn't presume or dare ask for more than hope. 

I think I'll be back to blogging soon. I miss it here. Meanwhile, I'll be catching up on your blogs and sending waves of gratitude and abundance into the universe. Life is hard but damn sometimes it glimmers.


Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Thursday Thirteen

 What a bear it is to prepare and pack to move. Even though I've done it before, I had no idea. I am dreaming about boxes and missed deadlines. Exhaustion reigns throughout #9.

So I'm posting from older photos to tease myself into believing that, like before, better times are coming. Maybe you could use a hopeful reminder too.

Meanwhile, please pray for me. Even if you don't believe….

first grand
first time my book appeared in a window (swoon)
first time I worked with children
no comment needed
first book on careers, which has not been finished.
first best yard
first early evening in Northampton
first roses
i just like it 
first wonderful Mother ever
first favorite book (after Anne of Green Gables)
first reason to appreciate a beautiful world 
first reason to appreciate the light where I'm moving to

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Moving Memories

They look like just things and boxes, but it's a trick. Every book I pack for Saturday's yard sale, every china cup I let go of, even as I discard the yearly calendars that span back twenty years: they are all alive. Not things at all. 

I knew it was serious when I came across my daughter's tiny love letters and scribbles, written to me from her long ago kindergarten classroom that is no doubt much like the one her children now occupy; those same children who write me new love letters and scribbles. It's killing me to discard the old for the new, but I will not have room. I am moving and even if I managed to find extra space, it's time for me to rely on my memories as pure stardust and no longer on their physical substance.

My son-in-law's Father died two days ago. A freak terrible accident in his yard in Northern Maine, and  his children and the wife he left but always loved must face a sudden loss with no good-bye. Anything can happen: I know that. This kind of instant grief insists that I remember the high cost of regret. It's important that I love now and that I make that love clear and unmistakable. It's important to do the right things.

I am moving from a wonderful house. Box by box it is being unraveled and yet even as it empties it is still proud and whole. The hot tub has been sold. Furniture is on Craig's List. Saturday we will have a giant yard sale with relief that we will be lighter at the end of the day (hopefully.) I am moving to a place I know by the sea and it is well familiar to me and yet, I have no real idea what my life will be like there. The last months and the next months ahead are filled with so much exhaustion that I can barely imagine unwinding into a true pace of leisure. I will still work and I will indeed finish my story of the Macabees and I only hope my bum knee and hip will let me walk more and take in the healing ocean air. I hope I will have new friends and be visited by my old friends and I know I will travel every other week across a long bridge and on a long highway to see my daughter and son-in-law and four small children who still squeal and run to me every time I arrive. 

All of this and I have pneumonia! It's come from depletion and it is thankfully mild. In between packing and sorting and planning I rest on the couch and think about my luck of the draw. I now know I had very good parents. They are responsible for my core strength and integrity. I am no angel but I am honest and decent. Because I had very good parents. 

I am glad to be here at my blog tonight. I have a home here. It too has changed but the stardust of my memories is forever. Good that I know that. I hope you know that too about your own stardust memories. Memories are gold. You can't go wrong sharing them.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Selling A House (Not Just Any House) Part I

With his own hands and help from his stepbrother and father, my Father built this house in the early 1940's. I  just learned the foundation was dug out by hand, no machines, by a number of men who came from afar to help over a weekend.

What you are looking at is a solid house neglected over the past five or six years and also my Father's treasures and their display in his room in the cellar. 

We were advised to upgrade the electrical, fix the brick steps, things like that, but to pretty much sell the house as a fixer upper, After the tenant moved out, it was an unclean mess. Call it intuition or conviction or whatever, but I never wavered: there was no way in holy hell I would let my Father's house be sold looking like that. 

I was right. After a mason, electrician, two handymen-carpenters, landscaper, cleaner, and exhausted JB and myself: here is the house that made it's debut barely a week ago "for sale." The photos are fantastic: it doesn't look quite this charming, but honestly, we did a hell of a job. And my father's solid solid work--not one crack in the smooth walls when the wallpaper came down, and his perfect hardwood floors even after all these years--his quality just shines. 

Look here:

It was clean as a whistle. It sold in three days. I'm so glad for my parents. Before it's too late, my brother and I and our families will sit in the kitchen again, and eat pizza. 


P.S. I know I'm absent here. I expect to be back, to be writing more. For now, it be true that I is in a whirlwind. A bit of a tornado, even.


Thursday, June 04, 2015

Title Unknown :^)

Well here I am. I wish I had words to describe the last month or so. Maybe Whirlwind. Memories. Possessions. Houses. Photos. Exhaustion. Emotion. Love. Plenty of love.

JB and I put our house of 11 years on the market today. It made its debut today: an Open House with a good realtor who it turns out gathers an attentive audience with good food and good sangria. JB and I worked for days to clean and declutter and shine the house up and other people helped us and honest to god it looks fabulous.

And two hours away, my Mother and Father's house, on a dead end lane. It will go on the market next week, after the painters and electricians and handy people finish the repairs and upgrades. I keep thinking I will not let this house look one iota less than my Father, a mason, who built it himself, with his step-brother, would allow. There is pride in this house and it is a solid thing: you can see it in the walls. It's become old and tattered and I don't know how it will show itself in the end, but I hope I feel a certain way as soon as I set foot in it again. Tomorrow. 

Memories: I can't carry or keep them all. Especially the material kind: cards, bankbooks, presents, holidays, gifts, dishes, photos that cover four generations of my family. My Mother and her 15 sisters and brothers (4 were steps-.) My daughter and her wonderful wild wise kids. JB and the places we've been.

I'm feeling all of it. It's inside a list that's averaged twenty or more things that must be done, every day. For now.Things to be Scheduled. Arranged. Reciprocated. Inspected. Appreciated.

There's the word! Appreciated. I'm looking back on my childhood and I know I had good parents, a good family.

I'm looking at my Jessica and her Mike and those kids and I just about weep joy for her.

And JB. And myself. We are headed to a strange new land we ironically, intimately know. In time we'll pack up and move here and the commotion and bustle will settle down and then I will take a deep breath, drink that delicious cup of coffee a little slower, and then I  will wonder what will be next.

p.s. No complaints--who could really complain about a ride on a roller coaster?


Saturday, May 09, 2015

Here & There

It's been so long since I've posted. Life is changing.  Before the Fall, I'll be leaving the farms of Western Massachusetts, and this little house. I'll be leaving the best yard with the most sun I've ever had. And friends--I'll be leaving friends. 

I'm heading to the ocean. Provincetown on Cape Cod, to be exact. Population up to 20,000 in the summer and as low as 700 in the winter. JB and I are moving into our little cape house and we're determined not to clutter it. That means decisions about what to keep and what to leave. The place has an ocean simplicity to it: it's white and airy and relaxing and easy. But first, we have a house to sell. Wait, did I say one? Because it's TWO--my parent's house is going on the market at the same time. It is two hours away from me and in need of a cosmetic we won't do to my satisfaction. I hope some one, a family, walks into it and calls it home. It's been home to me for many years. My father and grandfather, and my uncle Sammy, built it themselves. That house too needs packing and cleaning and sprucing up.

It's all a bit overwhelming. I have a to-do list with at least 30 calls or arrangements to make a day. Masons and carpenters and emptying closets and file cabinets and Home Depot screw-ups and my work and the story of Christine Macabee and her family. And of course my own precious family including four littles, ages 8, 6, 3, and 1. And traveling to and from. 


This is the house where I'm heading. We'll be one block from the public beach and feeling the late afternoon sun on the back deck. I'll be writing and working and gardening here. I'll socialize. We'll adopt a shelter dog and I'll search for a publisher. If I'm smart, I'll also get myself in way better shape and not fail to regularly count my blessings. 

I'm also involved in the larger world. I've been following the events in Ferguson Missouri and now Baltimore closely- the black communities and poverty and the police. I think I know a lot about all this. I worked in a very poor inner city for five years as a therapist and I saw my clients in their homes and with their families. Plus I'm a counselor and I understand some things. 

The opportunities that used to exist don't. You can't make a real living on minimum wage. Not even on $ 12.00/hour. And even if you might come close, there are no jobs in the poorest communities. And no transportation. You get hired in a neighboring town and take three buses to get there and you get fired because you're too often late or you quit because three buses and four hours of traveling and eight hours working for $ 8/hour is  too much. Honestly, I don't think most of us would or could sustain that. But it's not just that. The effort puts you behind, not ahead.  

This is a reason why dealing drugs is high in poor communities. It's a way to make money. And a good deal of police activity is controlling drugs. It's a victimless crime but with great risk if you're a black male and you happen to encounter the police over it. That is just the way it is. Sad to say the facts bear this out. 

Petty drug dealing and use is a root of poverty, not to omit that there are also plenty of families in very poor communities that have nothing to do what-so-ever to do with drugs or crime but are also part of the cycle of poverty. It might look like a lack of motivation among those folks who could but don't work, but it's just the tip of it. I assure you that 2/3rd of my clients on welfare would work or agree to work if it wasn't so difficult and there wasn't so much to lose:  Public housing. Day Care. Food Stamps. Fuel Assistance. Health Insurance. Add those benefits up and you'd best be making $ 20 an hour or you won't even come close.

What's needed? Real Jobs. Unskilled and skilled both. And transitional or permanent supplements for paychecks that hover at the poverty level.

I wish I had the time and energy to contribute to solutions. But I don't and won't. Not to say that I don't look for ways to do my share, because I do. The thing is, I'm not as optimistic as I used to be, but I see more good than bad in most people and in the world. For me, that's my ace in the whole.

Best wishes and love,