Tuesday, November 18, 2014


I love the Christmas holidays to the point of absurdity. I am ready to go already, thinking about presents I will make and give; planning who I will see, what and how many cookies I will bake, who I will give them to. This year I've planted cuttings from my Jade plant and that makes eight little present pots to give away. I also have my godmother's recipe for walnut orange loaves and I'll bake a few because I figure that's a good present too. 

I know the holidays are rough for many people. I don't know how it is that I've been spared that. I think for most of us the memories from our childhoods form our feelings about the holidays as adults. I must be lucky, because my Mother created a good memory for me. I had an overflow Christmas stocking, and toys and other presents under my father's too-squatty tree. My family of four sat at the dining room table only twice a year, and Christmas was one of those times. Several of my cousins and my bossy aunt Sophie and mousy but dangerous Uncle Mike (children: beware) would come with hot homemade butter rolls and fresh loaves of bread. My Mother's gravy and mashed potatoes were nothing short of orgasmic. 

 I've begun my favorite rituals. Every year now I make our holiday cards from photos I've taken. I will take my time writing out cards and if I have time I'll  doodle on the envelopes. This year's card has been decided: it's one of the following finalists:

the window of WA in Provincetown

a store window but I don't remember where

our dining room table last year, complete with my grandparent's wedding day

a winter view from Jessica's house

Our Provincetown bedroom, compliments of the night light turtle

barb and rudi's vermont barn
Can you guess which one JB and I chose?

Anything of interest that you'll be doing?

And, how are you feeling about the soon-to-be holiday season?


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Life at the Linda Manor Nursing Home

The nursing home was nervous today. Three women each asked me how to get home. They were concerned about being late, about missing their ride. 

These are women, like all the residents there, who are not going home. They can't go home. They are not able to live without supervision and assistance. Like my mom. 

There are about twenty-five residents on my Mother's floor. All have have dementia or Alzheimer's or a consequential problem with memory. It is a nice unit and the staff is nice and kind and no one is  overworked. Today my favorite nurse there told me he's noticed as I have the decline in my Mother in the past few weeks. She is more tired more of the time, she is especially relieved to see me, and she has trouble saying the right words. All of this is new and I'm told it's simply the combination of dementia and age. I think that must be true. My Mother will be 99 on January 5th.  I know she could not live at home with me. I'm glad I know that. 

I find myself staring at most of the folks on this unit until I can see their younger selves through the lines of their faces. They've had children, jobs, homes, spouses, gardens. I've come to understand their confusion and resistance because where they are now is not their life. 

This week my Mother has been thrilled when she sees me. With relief she says, "Oh good! How did you know I was here? Should I get my coat? Are we leaving now?"

It's a heartbreak, but I don't make it a heartbreak. I reassure her that I am always close by. I stay longer. I tell her jokes. This week, uncharacteristically, she said 'bullshit' when she couldn't say the word she meant. I told her the problem was called a 'senior moment' and we both laughed. 

There is something very noble and very sad about living in old age in a place you don't know, with memories that don't always work, with a true north sense that this place may be okay, but it is not home. My Mother does her absolute best to adjust and thrive there. She is very much liked, with good reason. Often she tells me I don't need to worry about her. But I think her resilience is waning. Because it's hard to be resilient when you don't have context. 

She knows and trusts me. Sometimes she thinks I'm her sister Betty but mostly she's safe with me because we have deep love for one another. These days I want her to be okay, whichever way old age turns her. I don't want her to become afraid or wildly unable to be herself.

To be Herself. That is what we all want. Now. And even when we may become too old to know who that is.  


Saturday, November 08, 2014

What I've Been Doing

I have to write about my Blog. I know that the longer my posts, the less likely they will be read. I understand that fully because I have to make the same kinds of time decisions about the blogs I like.

For years I had a  clear sense of this blog of mine: my personal essays, clever and cosmic attempts at wisdom, stories and poems, and too, a sharing of my frailties and spunk.  For a long time, I had many many more visitors, friends, commenters, than I do now. For a long time a community was apparent here. 

So am I upset that so many people I so enjoy who used to blog don't blog anymore? Yes I am. It's a loss. I loved keeping up with them so regularly and I loved their attention. I love sharing comments. That said, these days I just feel like writing, if only for myself. I am tickled for every single person who stops by.

 Thus:  I am going to post this long post even if only a couple of people read it. Read, by the way, with my appreciation. It's a new day in Blogland, yes, but it's still an awesome place to be! 

:^) Here goes:

First of all, if I say what I've been doing lately, will you say too?

Okay, good. Thank you.

1. I have been alone all week. JB is in Provincetown in part so I could push myself to work. I have a research project (about Physicians ) that hangs over me. I want it done before Thanksgiving so it won't hang over the holidays. So I worked a good bit this week; not enough yet, but there is progress.

2. JB and I have been economizing (never mind why :^) So no lawn service to pick up our many many many fallen leaves. For a couple of months now. with JB's help,  I have been successfully employing my turtle approach to gardening. I do what and when I want, hoping in time it all gets done enough. Our yard is big, 4 or 5 different sections. This week I hired a young guy, from an agency, to help me for 3 hours. It was near perfect: I raked and he lugged the trash cans of leaves across the street, dumping said leaves in nice place. The tail end of the # 9 clean up is near. It feels good. It even looks good.

3. Jeez am I writing. In the last 2-3 weeks, the bones of two big chapters are done. I am writing about a character, a Mother, Christine Macabee--who I just love. Either I'm fleshing her out or she's revealing herself to me. She is so resilient and trustworthy. I know it's a good story, about a good family: I just hope I can write it well enough.

4. The roof in Ptown leaked into the kitchen ceiling (drip drip) last weekend so that's a surprise repair and expense. I wrestle with managing money these days. (Do you?)  I think I'm on top of it all and Bam! But I'm fortunate that I can usually fit in extra costs somehow. But still--Jeez # 2.

5. The election. Is it as bad as it looks? Is the USA really so starkly problematically divided? What can be done? I think about this.

That's what I've been doing.
And you?


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Another Sweater Tale

Whoa! I wrote this several years ago when I didn't know that time and distance would give me a broader and more nuanced perspective.  But still, for me, there is truth in this complicated allegory. We all know life can get complicated .

FYI: I wouldn't know how to  interpret this for you, so  I'll be interested in what you may or may not get from it. 



 I know the most about this, I have to be the one to fold it over and inside out so it still looks and feels like the same soft sweater that fits in every nip and tuck but the trying on and taking off stops for once and all. It’s too late to side step the price tag-- imbedded charges with accumulating interest—but still, I wouldn’t change the cost even if I could, which I can’t .  

There are certain steps that must be taken today. There is no return-of-goods counter—just a “you buy it, you own it” policy with fine print I didn’t read then and don’t want to read now. I know I must hem the predestined pleats and complicated seams, iron out past and future wrinkles caused by sitting still too long, air out the fabric so it remains pure and air fresh.  Meanwhile, even though I’m dressed to the hilt, I’ll still carry those tarot sticks near and far, carry them because I freely picked them up to begin with, and I want to hold onto even the smallest  branch. I’ll be taking one step after another on my way to town, even though the one-day- all-out tag sale is for naught.  

If destiny has another plan, I’ll be there, waiting first in line for the doors to open.  But there is no special sale on this day. There is no discount or resizing that can make this anything other than what it is. It is not that. It is only this. And what it is is so inestimable I will spend the better part of my life on the budget plan, making regular payments into an account where withdrawals will be scarce, (but worth every penny?) I can purchase only what I have paid for, and I can take home only certain sizes even if they’re wrong for the circumstance.  I came here freely and knowingly. I knew then there was no warranty, but the fit was so exquisitely perfect I made a deal with destiny. I would carry the sticks and accept the conditions in exchange for the moments when the fit came straight from God’s designer.

Meanwhile, under a canopy of shining stars, we dance and then we linger. And then, always, once more, we are  free.

Monday, October 13, 2014

My Provincetown

I took the first photo, a house just up the street from ours in Provincetown. But the rest: ah--sit back, relax, please enjoy this most beautiful place captured by these beautiful photographers. These photos are from the Provincetown Photography Page on Facebook. I am a member and can't hold a candle to most of these folks. But there's no competition: just pure enjoyment and abundant sharing.

I apologize that  I am unable to give proper attribution to many of the talented folks who took these photos, but you can follow the Provincetown Photography Page on Facebook yourself. Have a look: you most certainly will NOT be disappointed. 


Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Neighborhood Hypocrites

Scene: a cul de sac somewhere in Western Massachusetts

Act 1: Obnoxious Tony abruptly moves from neighbor Marianne's house and returns to Kentucky

Act II: Obnoxious Tony abruptly moves back and resumes his almost daily mowing of Marianne's  lawn on his over sized giant seated lawnmower

Scene 1: Obnoxious Tony tells his neighbor JB that he's returned to help Marianne because he is a 'high paid gigolo' 

Scene 2: In their efforts to control expenses JB and her partner Ms. kj decide to they must handle their yard's fall clean up themselves. This includes a very large amount of leaves that will need to be raked and disposed of.

Scene 3: Tony drives his car so fast on the cul de sac that Ms. kj tells him she will call the police if he continues to drive recklessly

Scene 4: The leaves start falling and JB and Ms. kj are seriously overwhelmed

Scene 5: JB and Ms. kj reluctantly decide they must hire someone after all to rake and clean their yard.

Scene 6: JB and Ms. kj notice that their side yard that faces Obnoxious Tony's yard is suddenly and mysteriously clear of leaves

Act III: Obnoxious Tony drives his over sized giant lawnmower to JB and Ms. kJ's kitchen door and engine running, sits and waits

Scene 7: Ms. kj walks outside and approaches Obnoxious Tony, inquiring why he is sitting on his lawnmower by her kitchen door

Scene 8: Citing his own self interest, Obnoxious Tony offers to remove all leaves from JB and Ms kJ's yard and to continue to do so until all the leaves have fallen from the many trees on their property

Scene 9: JB and Ms. kj give their approval, thank obnoxious Tony, and dance a happy dance that their leaf problems are solved

sometimes there is comfort in expediency :^)


Monday, October 06, 2014

Streams of kj

I just feel like writing tonight. I'm leaving Provincetown tomorrow after being here since last Wednesday. Our house (a house in ptown: unbelievable) got hooked up to the sewer today. It was a massive job: a bulldozer digging deep into the gravel road, four men digging down into my yard,  I'd say 5 feet, laying plastic pipes like the toy tubes. By tomorrow the site of the old deck will be ready for the new (same) deck to be rebuilt there. It's been a week of required change and required spending.

I have been mostly alone. My friend Marilyn came by last Friday. Raul came by to fix the door. Hal Winard came by this morning for a deposit for the deck. The sewer guys have been great, but they are doing too much heavy labor to chit-chat. 

Do you ever wonder not just what you do or would do when you're alone, but is what you do or don't do worthwhile? Healthy? Legitimate? 

 I am writing up a storm: I've probably written 30 new pages and I've improved another 10 or 15. I've also planted luscious yellow mums in the outside flower and window boxes. And I bought a replacement blind for the upstairs bathroom. This, in a week.

That's about it. I wonder about keeping too much to myself. Which is really to say I worry about being too sedentary. I don't take walks. I don't because I'm lazy and because my right hip kills when I walk.  But also I didn't walk the one measly block to the ocean. I didn't see it, hear it, smell it, feel it. 

Instead I wrote. I have no idea if I am a good, average, bad or some other kind of writer. Honestly, I don't know. I know my vocabulary is limited, and that affects how I write. But I like this family I'm writing about. Many writers say they don't care if they are published or not. That is so not me. I want to write a blockbuster book. I would like that a lot.  :^)

That's all I want to say tonight. :^) I would  be happy to hear how you're seeing your life and days lately. 

(Never not care)
(Be Kind)