A Yardberg

April 16, 2011

Last weekend I wasn’t feeling too great, and my health was a worry to my husband and son. But the weather was taking a pleasant turn, and springtime was working its hopeful magic. We sat in the kitchen eating brunch and reading the  Sunday paper.

There was a car review in the auto section. A new hybrid model that my son considered a ridiculous gesture on the part of the automaker. We debated the merits and the shortcomings of  hybrids, and I made a snarky comment. Something like, “Hybrids are made for upper middle class liberals who want to feel happy they are making a grand gesture to save the environment, when in fact they’re just driving a sad compromise  between fossil fuel consumption and alternative energy usage.”

We moved outside, where I sat on the steps to soak up the restorative sunshine. I looked down at the mound of ice and snow in the shady corner. Our very own yardberg that grew and clung to the same spot every spring. The last vestige of a too-long winter. Sighing, I complained:”That spot depresses me every year. It makes me feel a bit hopeless.”

Within minutes my son had hooked up the garden hose to the hot water spigot in the basement and, together with my shovel-wielding husband, melted and hacked away at that yardberg, and threw great heavy chunks of it to melt in the sun. I commented that it was a waste of energy, and then laughed at their hybrid solution of water from a gas-fueled hot water heater combined with the alternative energy of brute strength, all for me.

A nice thing… a grand compromise of a gesture in the name of happiness. It can’t fix everything, but the motive does much to mend what’s ailing.


March 5, 2011

Last August, as Matt was finishing up his last stint as a Hotshot firefighter, a boulder gave way and landed on top of him. After a harrowing rescue, a long surgery to repair his broken femur, and a short hospital stay, he was flown home to New Hampshire to heal.

It was not the great coming together he and Annelies had hoped for after eight months of a long distance relationship. A single mom working full time in social services, she had hoped for a grand reunion. Pain, medication, caretaking, logistics, crutches—a hard start to a new life. Add to that a full course load of classes for Matt and another surgery just a few weeks ago. But they worked through it.

In April, Matt will be donning women’s footwear to participate Walk a Mile in Her Shoes —a fundraiser for Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention.

At the risk of gushing, I have to say, this is just more proof that he’s just the kind of partner any parent dreams of for a child, and so is she. I think they’re going to change the world.

A nice thing… finding that you have the strength to walk for another after a boulder nearly crushes your dreams.


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A Couch

February 19, 2011

Rachel and I both plopped on the couch and shortly found ourselves in one of those deep water conversations that surfaces in my memory every so often. The conversation was about feeling stuck, wanting to go further in knowing and trying and experiencing things. Read the rest of this entry »

An Apple

January 8, 2011

My friend, Jonathan, rolled his two-year-old into my office on a wheely chair. It was the end of a fraught day, a day interrupted by phone calls, missed communication, and a low ebb of worry about one of my own sons. Yet, there was Henry on the other side of my desk, the very definition of tousle-haired and apple-cheeked, biting down on a real apple. Read the rest of this entry »

A Platter

December 20, 2010

I don’t remember how much it cost. I think it was $36, but it felt like $86. Either one would have felt like to much for that time in our lives. But I needed a platter, and that’s the one I found. When one roasts a large turkey, one needs a large serving dish. No way around it. Yet, even years later, I feel the initial extravagance of that platter. Read the rest of this entry »

Sock Twins

December 14, 2010

I was rooting around in Gary’s sock basket, looking for single sock twins to pair up, when I reached in and pulled out a t-shirt. I read the words on the shirt, Karen and Erik’s Wedding… memento #1. Read the rest of this entry »

An Oven

December 10, 2010

Years ago, when we moved to this house, my husband rebuilt and restored an old six burner gas range that had once cooked meals for Camp Jabberwocky. The camp upgraded to something bigger and better, and the stove was passed from hand to hand until it ended up in ours. Read the rest of this entry »

Tomato Gravy

November 19, 2010

I first noticed her one day when she, mussy-haired and wearing a ripped Corsica t-shirt, reached into her bag and rubbed something between her fingers. As I watched her from the other side of the circle of tables, a stand-out in a sea of sameness, she pulled the thing further out of the bag. A blanky! She was unselfconsciously caressing a tattered blanky, and her enjoyment made me want to do the same. In that moment, I hoped that we could be friends. Read the rest of this entry »

A Bookcase

November 16, 2010

When I stepped into Nona’s office it seemed more light-filled and spacious. Then I realized that a bookcase was gone. And, though I know clearing the dross of multiple editions of Shakespeare or Marlow or Elizabeth was a necessary exercise, I felt a little sad. It wasn’t the contents or their container that I missed. It was the time we had spent in their company. Read the rest of this entry »

A Snowman

November 5, 2010

In my house the “s” word is snow, which tends to beg the question “Why do you live in New Hampshire?” And the answer to that question is “because.” We live where we live because that’s where we ended up. Don’t most people?

Just a couple of months ago, before the leaves started to turn, we strolled through the displays at Art in the Park. The front booths were dominated by still lifes and landscapes, which is fine, but not our cup of tea. But then we found, behind the gazebo, booths that sparked our interest—a  bit more chaos in the paint, a few more risks of color and brush, and even some goofiness. We looked for things that made us tilt our heads or laugh outright.

Among those behind-the-gazebo artists, one woman in particular stood out. Her playful work didn’t take itself too seriously. It was clear that she was driven by the fun of making. And so, it was from her that my husband bought me a valentine in September—a small painting of a snowman, his mouth like a crooked nail, holding out a sparse pink posy. It looks as though he’s apologizing for winter.

The painting sits on my desk, right under the lamp. Every time I turn on the light, there he is saying “I’m sorry the days get short and cold. Here… have some flowers.” And my mouth curves to match his.

A nice thing… the thawing power of a crooked smile on a winter heart.



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The Right To Vote

November 2, 2010

Sometimes I take out the trash, sometimes he does. Sometimes I wash the dishes, sometimes he does.

I do the laundry. He fixes machines when they break. I usually cook. He usually works well into his “second wind.”

I pay the bills. He bills clients. We take turns worrying about money. Read the rest of this entry »

A Familiar Stride

October 18, 2010

I click on the “play” triangle and watch the video. My friend had filmed his walk from the Indian Consulate in Manhattan, scanning the three-block-long line to where his wife waited. Read the rest of this entry »

A Kid

October 13, 2010

He knows that just beyond the busyness and the people is the clear running stream and a good place to sit. He knows the shape, size, and smoothness of the perfect skipping stone, regardless of whether or not it skips for him that day. Read the rest of this entry »

A Bowl

October 4, 2010

The pottery lady spotted me and waved. She’s grown used to me admiring her wares at the farmer’s market. Useful things: mugs and bowls and plates; colanders and casseroles and soap dishes—in subtle blues and greens and browns. Sage, touches of cobalt, hazel, black iris—thrown and drawn at the wheel, their thin walls belying their earthiness. Read the rest of this entry »

An Inconvenience

September 21, 2010

We recently had our porch torn down and rebuilt. As with any old house project, there was only so much guesstimating that could be done in preparation. Read the rest of this entry »

Bedtime Stories

September 17, 2010

In lieu of stories from books, we told childhood tales to our grandson before we tucked him in bed. I made the first suggestion to my husband:

“Gary, tell Sebastian about Aunt Evelyn and the gingerbread.”

“There’s not much to tell.”

“Just tell him.” Read the rest of this entry »

A Manual

September 10, 2010

Knocking on my daughter’s bedroom door, I woke her up to tell her about airplanes, towers, the pentagon and maybe even the White House. I knew how crazy it sounded from the look on her drowsy face in the doorway. Read the rest of this entry »

An Appointment

September 8, 2010

My doctor moved away and I was assigned a new “primary care provider.” An insurance euphemism.  A random PCP. Mystery doctor. I got the information in the mail and tossed it in my desk drawer. Read the rest of this entry »

A Family Portrait

September 2, 2010

Lost in the project, head down, a green crayon in my hand, I didn’t know where I was. Above each of the five children in the photograph I drew a balloon on a string. I had drawn them each a lollipop too, which they held in their right hands. All except for the baby. She was too little for hard candy. Read the rest of this entry »

A VW Bug

August 27, 2010

On the way home, we passed a VW bug. I saw it through the trees. A flash of bright orange. It was a beauty.

“Ooh! An orange bug! An old one.” I craned my neck to see just how old.

In our barn sits another VW Beetle. Baby blue and covered in dust, “Honey” waits to be fixed. She’s been waiting for quite a few years. Read the rest of this entry »


August 23, 2010

It was the week between Christmas and New Years, 1977. I was fifteen and a half. The half seemed to be important when I was reaching towards adulthood. He was almost eighteen. Read the rest of this entry »

An Absence

August 20, 2010

Our friend Tim’s best friend was named Redmond Cooney, but we called him Red. A solid creature, a mutt, with a massive rottweiler head, a sturdy body, and a muscular tail that seemed to have a life of its own. Read the rest of this entry »


August 18, 2010

When my mother died, I wasn’t there. I was eight hundred miles away with my family in New Hampshire. Mom had been ailing, and I debated making the trip to see her; but she rallied, and I decided to stay put. Read the rest of this entry »

Homemade Pasta

August 10, 2010

A couple of nights ago, I cranked semolina dough through the rollers of the pasta machine, as I pressed the phone receiver between my ear and shoulder and talked with my eldest son. I heard noise in the background. My son called back to a guy nearby who was harassing him for talking on the phone too long. Read the rest of this entry »

The Next Thing

August 6, 2010

Looking down as the movie came to an end, I focused on my hands. To my surprise, they were sewing a button on a skirt. There was a small pile of mended items in front of me. Evidently I had been mending. Read the rest of this entry »


August 3, 2010

In August the town of Oak Bluffs put on its annual fireworks show. There were smaller displays on the Fourth of July, but the August fireworks were the ones we waited to see. All year long the fire department raised funds for the event that, for many of us island dwellers, was the reward for surviving the onslaught of the “tourorists.” Read the rest of this entry »

Crickets and Chicks

July 27, 2010

High on the wall, above my head, the open window allowed night sounds into the bedroom. I lay in bed, body-weary, yet brain-revved. A cricket’s high-pitched leg rubs cut through the night soundscape. Read the rest of this entry »


July 22, 2010

Item #1: A doll in the kitchen window, made of the corn husk wrappers from several homemade tamales eaten one night around the dining room table. Hopefully the husks were washed, and most probably it was made by candlelight, and definitely there was laughter as my teenage son crafted the stick arms, puffy head, and wrap skirt. I can’t throw it out. Read the rest of this entry »

Tree Roots

July 20, 2010

I used to play beneath the huge elm tree in front of my childhood home. Actually, I imagined underworlds, and I built “borrower” way stations—little twiggy lean-tos where I would leave treasures… tiny offerings in the tangle of thick roots. Read the rest of this entry »

Empty Nest, Part 2

July 15, 2010

Dog gone it…

I woke up crying at two in the morning. Little memory loops from my children’s lives played over and over in my head. I tossed and saw one alone in a big city. I turned and saw me losing patience with another. I rolled over on my back and saw the house full of them. I sat up and opened my eyes with my maternal failings bearing down on me, and I then gave up on sleep. Read the rest of this entry »