Monday, October 1st, 2018

Autumn is a Carnival

My dear friend and pen pal allows me to publish parts of her email to me. I was pondering the first day of fall when my computer pinged. Here is what I wish I could write:
summer last Friday, autumn’s arrival yesterday and today in pants throughout the day for the first time. i do love the easy on and off of shorts and sandals and tan legs but sweatshirts and fleecy pants and thick socks have their own cozy appeal. and autumn has the appeal of diversity after weeks of relentless summer sunshine. now, a breeze springs up for an hour, a brief rain shower, cottage cheese or wispy clouds. something for every taste. liveliness. capriciousness. summer is dour but autumn has a sense of humor.
Maggie comes alive. chasing wild rabbits in the pasture, flat-out sprinting after orchard deer. her thick fur coat no longer a physical burden and liability. i plod along and after a whole-hearted and futile chase, she circles back, her tongue hanging out and as long as her ears and smiling, familiar with our walking route. i congratulate her on yet another failed attempt.
autumn is just a prime season to be outdoors. perennial cone flowers and geraniums and coreopsis and marigolds, asters and mums are in full bloom. pumpkins, as yet uncarved, grace front steps and porches. red and gold Ash leaves lazily drift to the ground and add bling to grass. crows play in the wind, cruising with it and then flapping vigorously against it for one more ride. everything seems more rather than less alive than in summer. autumn is nature’s carnival.


Monday, September 17th, 2018





Breakfast at My House

(Megan, my daughter—Issa, my granddaughter—David, my husband—me)  Guess who said what.

—Great group. We always have great groups

—We made strawberry shortcake

—We have two new kittens but we miss Pumpkin

—Is Facebook still a viable marketing channel?

—Would you rather have grasshopper pie or bumble bee pancakes?

—This coffee is better

—More sprinkles?

—Equal parts sprinkles and yoghurt is the ritual

—I missed you

—How many bananas are there in this house?

—I was up at 4 am

—Healing is simple actually

—When you think with the mind, there are many truths, when you think with the heart, there is only one

—What’s the schedule for today?

—I think Woodward’s book was unnecessary

—NYC people are great

—I got a thank-you letter from the house across the street. I drew their house

—Gluten free strawberry shortcake. Tastes like baby powder

—I’ll email you a marketing question

—Too much marketing, too little substance


—I like sugar bugs

—There will never be a cat like Pumpkin

—Why did he go away

—Speaking of cats, kitty litter time

—Healing Light is a great modern book in 1946 language

—Whose toast is this?

—Do the good-bye dance

—I’m off

—Me too

—To the coal mines

—I love Whistle While You Work

—I can whistle

—I can’t

—I like Whenever I Feel Afraid, I Whistle a Happy Tune

—From what?

—From your mouth

—Out we go

—Don’t let the new kittens out





Monday, September 10th, 2018

Two Books Worth Reading

I just read two books back-to back–There There by Tommy Orange and Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann. The first was fiction, the second non-fiction. Both were powerful and gave a visceral understanding of two very differen stratum American Indian times and lives. There There is contemporary fiction about the urban indians of Oakland, California and the Grann book is true about the Osage Indians of Oklahoma during the twenties when they were millionaires by chance and murdered and exploited by white power.

There, that’s my antiseptic book report.
I had two strong reactions. One is that America has always been a mess of good and bad and heroic and evil. We can and often do good but it is a battle. Power is hard to manage well. We may need less difference between levels of power. And, color and difference will have to become an irrelevant factor.

The other reaction was about generational responsibility for a previous generation misdeeds. The pilgrims were just refugees weren’t they? Aren’t we? It’s odd to feel individually innocent but guilty as a dominant “tribe”.

I recently had two different people make amends with me for past hurts. It reminded me that, indeed, I had been hurt and had buried it into the past and moved on. I feel lighter. And it is Rosh Hashanah, a time to get clean with oneself and others, to ask forgiveness and start a new path.

So in the vein of awareness and forgiveness, I’m glad for the work done in Maine of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. My friend, Susan Howe, has been a part of this work. Here is her suggested link to learn more…/us-legacy-stolen-children_…

Forgiving isn’t easy. There must be truth in it for all parties.


Monday, September 3rd, 2018

Blue Collar Kid

I am a blue-collar kid from a family of workers.My dad never wore a suit to work. He wore “work clothes”—dark brown pants and shirt, always clean and pressed. He worked three shifts—days, nights and four- to -twelve. After retirement, he still slept according to the rhythm of those shifts. He carried his lunch and coffee with him each day.

We lived in a house with and alley and he would go out the back door and down the sidewalk to the car. His walk to or from the car was always the same. It was matter of fact. He was an oil stillman. As he said, “my job is boring until a tank blows up”. And one day more than one tank  did. He was at home and ashamed not to be killed with his buddies. Slumped and sad, he wept all day smoking his Lucky Strikes.

My dad was pro-union and a member. He hated mistreatment or unfairness. I would hear him talk to my mom. He was asked many times to become a supervisor but would not, could not separate from his buddies. One year he took me to the annual Christmas party and I left loaded with more gifts I’d ever been given at one time. My dad was treated like a celebrity. He knew everyone. His nickname was Bud. (Probably because his first name was Withington.) I remember one group of his buddies laughing about how big a raise they could have had based on the cost of the party. It was good-natured cynicism.

My dad hated mistreatment or unfairness and so he grew to be decidedly anti-union as he saw the corruption in them and their betrayal of labor. He died a Republican with a nice investment portfolio. He believed in honest, hard work. And he thought capitalism was the best economic system, although at one point, I believe he was a card carrying communist. Not sure

My dad was refined (I smile because he worked in a refinery!!)  His prized possessions were a collection of The Harvard Classics and box set of Famous Classical Music. We ate in the kitchen except for Sunday (depending on his shift schedule). He would be still dressed from church, white shirt with cuff links, tie thrown over his shoulder and he carved the roast or chicken at the table. He watched the first Julia Childs TV show on publication television and was a good cook when my mom let him into the kitchen. A too strong curry and a raisin pie were his worst experiments that we teased him about forever. His chocolate eclairs were famous and his pizza, homemade crust and all. He brought home our first ever avocado we ate it while it was hard as a rock. Who knew that is needed to be soft?

My dad labored to give me a college education. He called me when I was a new mom and said, “Your mom and I are coming to see you so you can take us out to dinner. I just paid off your college debt.”  He made 4000 dollars more a year than my college annual cost. I never heard a complaint or grudge. He loved visiting me at college (DePauw University) in Indiana and made life- long friends with the retired CEO of a large oil company at one Dad’s Day. My dad was literally on strike at the time they met. They talked and talked and talked in a corner while his daughter and I were irritated that they weren’t going to the football game with us!

Every prom dress of special outfit I had came from my dad putting a good suggestion in the suggestion box and getting a bonus or from trading shifts and from working on holidays. He took me to buy my wedding dress.My dad labored with endurance and optimism that his work mattered to his goal of a college education for me and my brother. He labored with pride. He was never late and never called in sick.

I thank all of you (and those of us who might labor differently). And I wish for us all: respect for laboring, a livable wage, recognition and use of talent, and the knowledge that your work is worthy and matters. I’m proud to be a blue collar kid.