My daughter Callison leaves tomorrow, after a month-long visit from her new home in Butte, MT. She has been sleeping in her old bedroom and she expressed surprise at how little it had been changed in her nearly two-year absence. It could serve as my office, she noted, the lack of which I like to complain about. If the thought occurred to me at all, I dismissed it. There is too much “her” here. Her books and an old guitar, dozens of scarves and shoes and framed photos of lifelong friends. It is a waste of good real estate, I suppose, to use it only as a guest room. Read more
Among the many things that remind me of Vera B. Williams is a polka-dot scarf. Light enough to wear in summer, bright blue with orangey-red polka-dots, it sits folded on a shelf at eye level in my closet. When I think of wearing it now, it seems too cheerful, and I pick a gauzy gray one instead. The polka-dots could be the pattern in one of Vera’s books, framing a child and her mother in a slightly disheveled but cozy living-room. Read more
After the death of our dog Aengus this summer, I spent my time searching online for dogs. Abashed by the fact that we had done the most politically incorrect thing by purchasing Aengus at a pet store 11 years ago, I resolved to reclaim our principles by rescuing. The search engines allowed me to filter for hypoallergenic breeds, which is what I need.
When my husband was young, his family was adopted by a local cocker spaniel named Daffy. He had belonged to a local couple, but Daffy preferred the three active Stratton boys. Read more
This summer has seen many endings. Local legends Tom Kane, Grace Johansen and Charles Knapp have slipped the mortal coil, along with our dear canine companion, Aengus. Another dear friend is in hospice care, yet she is the most fully alive person I know. I treasure every day she triumphs over an untimely end. The Weather Project, NACL’s climate change theatrical and community extravaganza presented its last performance on August 26 at SUNY Sullivan. I was with it from the beginning in 2012, a long and fruitful ride. Read more
The one habit my brother Chris could never kick was cigarettes. I admonished him one day, near the end of his too-short life, to stop smoking. He knew he was dying, neither of cancer nor emphysema, and he replied with a raised eyebrow and his dark Irish wit, “It’s not gonna kill me.”
I thought of that moment as I was trying to get our beloved dog, Aengus, to eat last week. His usual food no longer appealed to him. I took to poaching chicken with a little thyme and chopping it in the food processor. For a while, he liked it. But in his last week, even that was refused. Read more
My uncle George sees the gulls flying overhead as Japanese bombers over Pearl Harbor. I tell him that one looks like the airplane coming in low and fast over Greenwich Street headed for the World Trade Center. We are sitting on a pristine deck looking out over the blue Atlantic. There is nothing but ocean, a flat horizon line and blue skies—a clean slate for the imagination. We bring our history with us wherever we go. Read more
My husband Jim has a litany of coincidences in his life. He will regale you with them if you but utter the word. His main source of income is the result of a coincidence; meeting an Oberlin college friend on the street in Manhattan and finding the friend had a bar for sale just as Jim’s profession as a news-film journalist was being eclipsed by television news-readers.
In our family, we call the moment that two cars traveling in opposite directions meet at the same time and place that a pedestrian is walking, “Jim’s law of coincidence.” We pronounce this phenomenon co-in-sigh-dence. Read more
This is a story of a young man who lives in two worlds. You probably live in one of them and don’t even know there is another conjoined. Read more
While looking for a clue to the pain in my gut two years ago, I was greeted by numerous medical professionals and their various tools. The emergency room doctors wanted to make sure I was not going to die on their watch, and after they assured themselves of that, paid no more attention. My primary care physician suggested a test for H-pylori and was very pleased with himself when a test proved him right. Antibiotics cleared up the strange organism. The pain continued. Read more
Last year I resolved to interrupt relentless winter with a trip to a tropical clime. It was a good resolution. February, although the shortest month, always seems the cruelest to me. This year, I had a ticket to Costa Rica ready and waiting. My friend Kara had found a yoga retreat in a country that was foreign to both of us but promised consistently warm weather and clear skies. Read more