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May 03, 2016
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Root Cellar

Last school bus ride…

The school bus stops outside my front door each morning at about 7:30 to pick up my daughter. She emerges from the warmth of the house, usually with her coat slung over her arm and sometimes walking on the heels of her sneakers, which are not quite on her feet. “I’ll tie them on the bus,” she tells me. “Right,” I say, remembering the great catch-up time for homework and hair braiding that was the bus ride to school each morning.  Read more

But what does it really mean?

As this election year wears on, there has been a resurgence of that ever mysterious phrase: “I want my country back…” I hear it trotted out in polite and not-so-polite conversation, and I see it presented as a rallying slogan in the scroll of my Facebook page, a post from one or another of my more conservative friends.

But what does it really mean? Back from whom? Who had it in the first place? Is it back as in time? Is it back to a time of supposed simplicity like the post-war boom of the 1950s, with its segregation, McCarthyism, and obligatory hats and white gloves for women?  Read more

Return to sender

My 50th birthday is coming up at the end of this month. I’m told this is a momentous birthday—a milestone. It is a time for reflection. And, bluntly, it is the tipping point in life where most people are closer to death than birth.

Considering that sometimes I can’t remember what age I am without adding or subtracting from my birth year, 1966, I have some mild relief at having arrived at this memorable number. But I wasn’t really fazed by turning “half a century old” until I received that AARP membership card in the mail.  Read more

The name game

We have a new kitten, a bouncing, tail-chasing three month old “silver tabby,” now named Ralphie. He came to us from the litter of a friend’s cat after months of relentless sweet-talk and wheedling from my 13-year-old daughter.

He wasn’t always named Ralphie, but an R-starting name complemen-ted the names of our other two cats, named Rocket and Raven. (Giving your children names that all begin with the same letter is a practice I’ve never really liked, but it works well with animals.)  Read more

Sam and the Cannonsville

Sam has learned an awful lot in the past two years reporting for Hancock’s weekly paper, The Hancock Herald. Reporting on planning board hearings and football games to house fires, giant hog weed and CheCheTheClown, he has gotten a great introduction into the workings of a community and what makes a good story.  Read more

Spring in Autumn

I have been planting hyacinth and daffodil bulbs during these first unseasonably warm days of November—digging the husked, bulging roots into the dirt beneath the shriveled, crunchy leaves flooding my garden. I work with the image of pungent purple and yellow trumpeting flowers in my mind’s eye.

This fall I have been thinking about and looking for the earliest signs of spring, and I think that I have found some. In fact, we could say spring is already here in the bulbs in the ground, in the velvety bud scales of the magnolia’s autumn buds and in the blooming witch hazel.  Read more

This well-worn house

Our old house has seen a lot. At 163 years old, it has come through the eras of the oil lamp and the sad iron. The wood-burning cook stove and the outhouse.  Read more

The escape artist

My daughter, Lily, was at camp when her cat went missing.

It was a “What if…” situation we had all been dreading. But it was inevitable, wasn’t it? The way that cat (an all-black, two-year-old named Raven but forever, endearingly called “the kitten”) sprinted to the porch door whenever it was opened. The way she sat in the window, mesmerized by the birds at the feeder. And, when she did manage to escape, the way she ran straight under the porch or up toward Route 97, at the back of our house.  Read more

The branch-burning party

At the victorious start of summer vacation last month, my schoolteacher husband, John, fell out of the old maple tree in our yard, breaking an assortment of bones and injuring his shoulder. In the aftermath of his accident, the rest of our summer began. One filled with hospitals, doctor’s visits and physical therapy appointments.  Read more

The Manta Ray

In June it was announced that the building that housed the Ken Wilson Chevrolet dealership showroom near Binghamton, NY, will be demolished.

A distinctive feature of the roadside landscape along the Vestal Parkway, this unique building is known as “The Manta Ray” to me and my family because of its roof, which looks like the graceful pectoral fins of a manta ray.  Read more

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