Can You Do This?

That’s the question the thoughtful and dedicated therapists ask when I take The Foot to physical therapy.  Sometimes The Foot can do what they want it to do.  Other times, not so much.

The newest trick these people want The Foot to do is pick up a pencil from the floor by curling its toes around it.  The Foot balks at this.  But The Foot’s partner, the other foot, can do it in a snap.   Easy peasy.  Would you like it to write your name with the pencil?  Put it in a drawer for you?  Sharpen it? No problem.  Just ask.

That’s nice, the therapists say, but we’re not here to deal with the “other” foot. We’re all about the one with issues.

I ask if THEY can pick up a pencil with THEIR toes.  Of course we can, they say.  Show me, I say.  Two little words: they can’t.

There followed considerable and lively discussions about whether or not young, able-bodied people should ask old(er), not so able-bodied people to do things they themselves cannot do.

We’ve not settled the matter entirely to my satisfaction, but it was, all in all, a fun and productive physical therapy session.  Proving, once again, that laughter is, indeed, the best medicine.

“Demonstrations marking 1-year anniversary of Capital Insurrection set in Beaufort Co.”

The above was the headline in the Island Packet, January 6, 2022. We’ll see what happens as the day goes on.

The Early Report:

Your faithful reporter is on the job and will be reporting as events unfold from the demonstrations mentioned above.  She’ll be in close contact with her source during the day to keep you abreast of the activities.

Afternoon Update:

We, in the press, have just learned that the crowd is currently gathering in front of the now defunct Steinmart.  (Editorial note: We deeply mourn the demise of Steinmart. They always had SOMETHING you simply couldn’t live without. But I digress). My source is registering and being prepped in the unlikely chance that the group will be challenged or heckled.  We’ve been told that there are a couple of security measures in place and many, many lawyers are expected.   Some of us are comforted by this; others not-so-much.

Evening Wrap-up:

My source has returned from the event and is enjoying a glass of wine or two.  All went well apparently.  On the whole, the vigil was successful.

It’s my understanding that about 80% of the passersby who acknowledged the demonstration gave a friendly “thumbs-up” or a supportive toot-toot of the horn.   The other 20% offered the one-finger salute and some relatively untoward name-calling.   Both factions are entitled to their opinions, of course, and both have the freedom to express them without fear of retribution.  It’s called democracy.  Long may it live.

Reporter’s note:

My source was pleased with the rally and very glad he participated.  His family is proud of him for taking a stance in support of the vigil.  It was, all in all, a very good day.

Children Will Be Children…

No matter how old they are. 

They color outside the lines.  They walk when the sign says stop.  They eat dessert first.  They sneak cookies in the dark.

Let’s just say that The Mister still has a fair amount of child in him.  That’s usually a good thing but there are those times….. 

To wit:  When I came downstairs on New Year’s morning, he, somewhat sheepishly, announced that his throat “felt funny.”

The adult in me quickly ran down the list of possibilities.  Covid?  Probably not.  A winter cold?  Maybe but he usually gets the sniffles first.  Dry throat?  Here. Have a lemon drop.

Still feels funny?  Yes, apparently it did and with that my worst fears were confirmed.  It was obvious that he had eaten a cookie.  Further, he ate it in the dark.  That’s not really a problem for most of us but it is for him. Especially on New Years day when emergency rooms and urgent care facilities are overwhelmed by one thing or another.

The cookie, in the light of day, showed small but discernable bits of sesame seeds. As above, that’s not a problem for most of us, but it is for him.  And he knows it.  He’s anaphylactically (deathly) allergic to sesame seeds.  And is not very good about keeping the epi-pen ( lifesaving device) up to date. 

Ooops.  Now what to do now?

Fortunately, some children’s Benadryl, found in the back of a drawer, only slightly out of date and taken in large doses, got us through the potential crisis.  I shouldn’t make fun of this.  I know that. It’s anything but funny.  It’s scary. 

I just have to accept the fact that the child in him is always going to sneak a cookie in the dark.  As a result, the adult in me just has to be more vigilant.  And therein lies my New Years resolution.

We Grinched This Morning

Yes, we did.  We grinched very early this morning.  The Mister and I were like children on Christmas day.   We could hardly wait to get up and get at it.  But rather than wanting to see what Santa brought, we had destruction on our minds.  It was time for it all to go bye-bye.  Back into boxes.  Back to the basement.  Tucked away until next year.

The fairy lights, the singing animals, the reds, the greens, the gold, the glitter.  All of it needed to go away.  As fast as we could make it so. 

And, I might add, this morning was not the earliest Grinch in our history.  There were Christmas afternoons when the sounds of brittle pine needles hitting the floor were louder than the children. The tree obviously presented a fire hazard and had to go. The tree was also on my nerves, which may have had more to do with its early demise than the fire thing.

There was, if I recall, a mixture of both pride and shame for being the first family on the street to ditch the tree.  And it was there for all to see.  Straggly, pitiful, discarded.  Sitting by the curb, waiting for pick-up by the recycling people. A bit like a horse rode hard and put away wet. A sad sight indeed.

I hope you aren’t waiting for me to tell you that I went back to that curb, dragged the poor thing back inside and put some ornaments on its branches.  That didn’t happen.  What happened was that others quickly followed suit.   Hard-rode trees now littered the street as we let out a joyous “Whew” and wished each other Happy New Year, just as the Mister and I do right now.

The Christmas Spirit

(Yep, it’s the same old Christmas blog. Seven years ago, I wrote this little essay. I am deeply appreciative of each of you who have read it, re-read it, and may be reading it again. There simply aren’t enough ways for me to say thank you. The Mister and I wish you all the best right now and in the New Year.)

The year was 1961.  I was working in Boston at the New England Conservatory of Music as a receptionist. It was, in all respects, a wonderful year.  I was in love (still am) and was surrounded by talented, generous and joyful people.

But Christmas was always hard for me.  What to give to my parents?  My father never wore anything but a suit, had enough ties to last several life times, bought his own socks and had no hobbies.  My mother was choosy about the things she wore and the things she had in the house.  I always had great angst about what to give them. That year I found a little Japanese porcelain dish which I hoped they would like, but it cost more than my small salary could comfortably bear. Still, I bought it.  There wasn’t any joy in the purchase, however.  I was worried and poorer…not a good combination.

The Conservatory was, back then, in a less than desirable part of town.  It was surrounded by poverty level housing and people.  There was a drug store right across the street that I visited on my lunch hour to pick up necessary items.

One day, near Christmas, I was at the drug store, mindlessly purchasing some stuff, not giving it any thought as I stood in line to pay for my items. An older woman was in front of me.  She wasn’t dressed warmly enough for the cold Boston December day.  It did strike me that she most likely didn’t have a warmer coat, but the thought was fleeting.

And then something happened that I will never forget.  As my arms were carelessly full of stuff, I realized she was buying  a single box of tissues.  And I heard her say to the clerk:  “This is for my friend for Christmas. She’ll really like it.”

I find myself as speechless now as I did then. And still a little close to tears.  It was a hard reality.  She was delighted with her choice of a gift for her friend, confident that it would be given, received and used with love and affection.

And I was worried about an expensive porcelain dish for my parents who needed nothing and would most likely put the dish in a drawer anyway?  Not a Christmas goes by that I don’t think about that moment. 

Sometimes, I wish our family could just exchange boxes of tissues, carefully choosing one that might appeal…they come in such jazzy colors and designs these days. Wouldn’t that be fun?  We could wrap them up fancifully with pretty paper and ribbons, confident they would be used and appreciated. 

Now, I know we can’t….and would never want to…deny our families the joy of Christmas morning and presents under the tree.  Santa Claus does exist.

But, for me, perhaps, a box of tissues has become a symbol of friendship and love,  of a longed-for simple Christmas season, of joy, of an opportunity to share with others less fortunate, and, of course, in its own way, the true meaning of  Christmas.

December 14, 2014

Who Knew?

Who knew that good old fraternity names like Delta, Lambda, Omicron and Beta would become scary disease variants?

Who knew we’d find out, the hard way, that quarantines aren’t just for kids with measles anymore and lockdowns aren’t limited to unruly prisoners?

Who knew we’d ever know how to pronounce, let alone spell, Hydroxychloroquine?

Who knew we’d all be wearing the same masks as doctors, nurses, trick-or-treaters and bank robbers?

Who knew Moderna and Pfizer would be on the tips of our tongues and stuck in our arms?

If someone had told me all of that would come to pass, I would have been the first to say: “You’re wrong.”  As it turns out, I’m the one who would have been wrong, very wrong, but I’d be in good company.

To wit, In 1948 when Truman and Dewey ran against each other for President, our friend and pollster, George Gallup, prematurely declared Dewey the winner. 

As he walked out of his house later that morning, still unaware of his mistake, his friend and neighborhood cop called out to him.  His words, which Dr. Gallup never forgot, were: ”Wrong again, George.”


A string walks into a bar.  Climbs up on a stool and asks for a beer.  Bartender says: “Hey, are you a string?”   String says: “Yes, I’m afraid so.”  Bartender says:  “Sorry, we don’t serve strings here.”

Soooooo, string gets up, walks out and goes to another bar.  Alas.  Same response as the first.  No strings allowed.

After several more failed efforts, string scoots into a back alley.  He fluffs up his ends and ties himself into a great big knot.  He boldly walks into another bar. 

Bartender says: “Hey, are you a string?”  String says: “No, I’m a frayed knot.”

At this time of year, it doesn’t take much for me to feel a little like the string. My edges are easily frayed and I get all tied up in knots. In other words, I, too, am a frayed knot.

Portrait of our frayed friend thanks to Getty Images



Ours was a quiet Thanksgiving this year.  Families were spread out in other states.  As a result, we had a little extra time on our hands but our many shelves of books are always there to keep us company.  Over the long weekend, we found that we have not one, not two, but three family Bibles.  It’s fun to read the old notations and muse on the many bookshelves those Bibles have graced.

Hence, a replay of a little Bible story, written a few years ago.

Holly Bibble

September 30, 2014/

A friend’s granddaughter was helping her mother unpack books in their new home. Her father was at sea.

Suddenly, the little girl squealed with delight. Look Mommy, she said. It’s the holly bibble.

Now I don’t know if, after a couple of quiet chuckles, her mother corrected her or not. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the pleasure the child got when she saw the book.

She knew it contained stories….ones she liked….maybe like Blueberries for Sal or even better. She probably knew many of the names in the book, could recite some of it by heart, knew it was important to her in a special way. And she gave it her own name.

Now, don’t try to find the holly bibble through Amazon or Barnes and Noble. It only exists in the child’s heart at the moment. We hope it stays there with her unique stamp on it and that no one ever tries to take that away.

Giving Thanks

There’s much to be thankful for right now.  There’s also much to be thoughtful about.  Some days it’s hard to separate the two.

Once again, our son and his real estate group had a wildly successful food drive in our community.  And, once again, we are thankful for such a generous response. At the same time, we are thoughtful about those who would go hungry without that support.

We are also, this year, thankful for access to Covid vaccinations.  And we are thoughtful about those who have said no to them.

We are thankful for our political and religious freedoms.  And we are thoughtful about their fragility.

We are deeply thankful for our friends and family and we are deeply thoughtful of the ones we lost to Covid and to the political divide.

We are thankful for the air we breathe and equally thoughtful about its health and well-being.

Those bits of thoughtfulness make us all the more thankful for what we have, right this very minute. 

And so it is for us on this Thanksgiving, 2021.

Oh Dear, Oh Dear. What To Do?

There are weeks when I think there’s nothing to write about and It looked like this was going to be one of them.  The politicians are idle, the news is tedious, and my family has been on its best behavior.   Nothing sparky in any of that.

But good things come to those who wait and Monday morning’s news brought joy and glee!

Apparently, Ted Cruz went after Big Bird. He dissed The Big Yellow Bird for promoting Covid vaccinations for kids.  He said The Bird was spreading propaganda to five year olds.  A no-no, at best, he declared.  Who imagined we’d ever hear Ted Cruz and Big Bird mentioned in the same sentence?  And going at it toe to toe, no less. Nose to beak. Could anything be more fun? 

Well, perhaps not for Ted but for those of us who love, admire and look up, way, way up, to Big Bird, it was manna from heaven. 

In the past, Ted’s gone up against some pretty big names.  As a long-time Texas senator he’s earned a lot of gravitas and muscle.  He’s run for President.   He’s outspoken in an in-your-face kind of way.  He’s been around more than one block and survived.  Sure, he’s skilled, he’s smart, he’s savvy, but taking on Big Bird?   C’mon, Ted.

Under normal circumstances, Ted would be a worthy opponent. But Big Bird is truly “bigger” than Ted will ever be.  Everyone over the age of five knows that.

And, in the end, aren’t we lucky to live in a world where a six-foot bird has as much (if not a little more) power as a long term United States Senator. That can’t happen just anywhere.

On Devilled Eggs

I do quite love a good devilled egg.  I like to think I make a pretty fine devilled egg myself.  I have a secret ingredient that adds a little kick to the regular mix of mayo and mustard.  Of course, I sprinkle them with a little paprika or add a caper or two.  I even have a designated devilled-egg-serving-platter.  In my opinion, no Sunday brunch, or cocktail party, is complete without devilled eggs.

But there are issues.  Aren’t there always issues?

Who among us hasn’t cursed the hen that laid the un-shellable egg?  Hasn’t felt that bottomless pit of despair when the shell comes off in bits too small to matter?   Who hasn’t ended up with egg surfaces that look like moon craters? Hasn’t screamed at a universe that allows such things to happen at times of crisis… an hour before the Sunday brunch or the cocktail party?  Hasn’t thrown the wretched eggs in the trash with no backup plan?

I don’t even want to hear about people who’ve not experienced any of those anxious, bordering on tragic, moments. I desperately need commiserative misery.  Nothing else will satisfy. Not even one of my very own delicious devilled eggs.

Once Was Quite Enough, Thank You Very Much

The emotional scars are still there.  I don’t need any further reminders of my first, and only, Lassie movie.  Don’t know how old I was when I saw it.  Don’t care.  Remember leaving in hysterics.  Don’t think I’m alone in that.

As a result, I don’t read books about dogs, cats, rabbits, etc.  I always fall in love with the title animal and then have to watch it meet its maker. 

It follows, then, that I never read any Bambi stories.  Never dipped a toe into those waters.  But perhaps I should have.   Maybe Bambi led a stress-free life.  Maybe he just spent his life frolicking in the forest.  Perhaps he never came anywhere close to harm’s way.  I’d like to think so.

But then. There was an obituary in this week’s “The Week“ which gave me a wee glimpse into Bambi’s life and I didn’t like it.  At all.

See, Gary Paulsen died.  He is the author of more than 200 books, which sold over 35 million copies world-wide.  Many of those books were about dogs and young people struggling to survive in the wilderness.  He says he’s a “teller of stories” but, to the end, describes himself as a romantic.  He said he always wanted Bambi to make it out of the fire.

Hang on! Wait a second. What fire?  I didn’t know Bambi was in a fire.  Maybe I should have but I didn’t. And, of course, I don’t know whether he got out alive or not.  Don’t tell me though.   I need to hold tight to some of my happy images.  So many are fading.

Dining With The Pundits

It was 6:30 pm on an ordinary weeknight and we were “dining” with a group of television political pundits, as they sputtered about President Biden’s attempts to pass his 3.9 trillion dollar spending plan.

They were musing on the Senators Manchin/ Sanders pow-wows.  And on the time spent listening to personal and party-centric opinions.  They wondered if there were too many cooks in the kitchen; too many fingers in the big pot.

Shortly after the commercial break, we heard from Gov. John Kasich of Ohio who is, apparently, a staunch believer in the “make your case and go to the mat for it” management style.   Strong, powerful executives don’t waiver, he says.  It’s a sign of weakness.  Presidents have clout.  They should use that power, that clout, to make themselves clear and leave it at that. 

At that point, my own pundit (the one sitting across the table from me) recalled a paper he had written back in the late 70’s.  He was asked, as he always was, to write a piece for the Chairman of the Charles F. Kettering Foundation to present to the board at its annual meetings.

In that paper of the late 70’s, he suggested that “clout” no longer referred to the ability to go it alone. Rather, he said that “clout is not the ability to go it alone, but rather to muster and support those who – working together – are able to get the job done.”

I liked his position back then. I like it even more now.

Graphic from the cover of a Charles F. Kettering Foundation annual report

An Ode To CaringBridge

I have a love/hate relationship with CaringBridge.   I’m grateful when a new CaringBridge notice arrives in the mail. But then I fear it may not bring good news.

CaringBridge, for the uninitiated, is a site where friends and family can keep up with those who are ill.   I am, currently and once again, following Julia Reichert, film maker and Oscar winner, through CaringBridge.  Her work/life partner, Steve Bognar, keeps us posted as she, once again, struggles with cancer.  This is her third round with the damn disease and the third time Steve has kept so many of us in the loop through the site.

Steve is a wonderful writer.  He brings Julia’s friends from afar into the turmoil that they, the family and near-by friends, are living day to day.  It’s not easy but he “bridges” the fear, the possibilities and the realities with grace and, yes, humor.  He puts us in the front seat of the roller-coaster, giving us hope but making sure we also understand how scary this is.

CaringBridge, it seems to me, is the best of all web sites.  It’s usually restricted “by invitation only.” It has no tolerance for voyeurism or idle nosiness.  

I can’t say enough about the site and its purpose. But this is not an advertisement!  It’s just the place where a lot of my psychic energy is these days. And since it’s my blog…….well, you understand.

I’m Just Wild About Stationery

I love stationery.  Stationery stores, stationery kiosks, stationery catalogues. They all speak to me and I listen.  I look.  I buy.  I order.

I stew over the options. Letter-size or semi-formal notes?  Borders or plain? Regular weight or extra-thick?   Block, script, or Italic font?  Embossed or flat?  White or ecru?

And that’s all before I get to the beautiful ink colors!  So many that one is simply not enough.

But when you are not a stationAry person, stationEry expenses can get right up there.

Twelve times, we’ve moved.  Twelve new addresses.  Twelve new stationery orders.

I’ve decided to emulate a friend who is, herself, no stranger to moving.  She orders stationery with one simple word on it:  “Susan.”  Her elegant stash of beautiful paper follows her wherever she goes.  Her distinctive handwriting fills in the rest of the information as needed.  A wise woman, indeed.