Monday, September 15, 2014

Microblog Monday: Happiness Is Tea and an Old Friend

 I’ve been fortunate through Facebook to have reconnected with some friends from high school—more than forty years ago! Over the past month I’ve had the joy of being able to get together with two of them face to face and talk for hours—just like nothing had changed.

I had a lovely afternoon on Saturday with Sue Munroe at a delightful little tearoom in Warwick called Trinity Confections. Wonderful food—soup, salad, quiche, and delicious pastries and homemade chocolates—and great talk.

So people I didn’t think I’d ever see again have reappeared in my life, and I’m so grateful for that!



Friday, September 12, 2014

Gratitude/Happiness List

Week of September 7

Joining with Laurel Regan’s Gratitude linkup at Alphabet Salad. 

Here are some things I’m grateful for and that have made me happy this week:


My hand and wrist are nearly completely healed. My last therapy visit was today, and my doctor cleared me to go back to work. I can even start crocheting again—slowly and for short times.


Delicious whole-grain bread from our local bakery. 

That we had a last week of hot summer weather before fall starts moving in.

Our upcoming weekend trip to Baltimore.

Having some time to start and work at practicing Zentangle,  which I’m really enjoying.

Community events like Cyclovia, in which about a mile of the street is closed to traffic for the benefit of walkers, bicyclists, inline skaters, etc., and including food trucks, entertainment, health and fitness information, and a dog dress-up contest!

Getting maybe our last chance this year to eat outside at a restaurant with our dog.

Having the Boston Red Sox’ Triple-A team, the Pawtucket Red Sox, playing just a few miles from our home and being in the playoff finals.

That said, I’m grateful that my husband is patient with me when I get cranky because a ballgame goes into extra innings. He loves it; I just want to go home (it’s after 10 o’clock and getting chilly!), and I grumble things like “Why can’t baseball games end within a civilized length of time like other sports?”

Gentle, warm breezes.

The beautiful flowers (even roses!) and flowering bushes that are still around in nearly mid-September.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Microblog Monday, September 8, 2014: What Is Wrong with People?

Melissa Ford at Stirrup Queens has initiated Microblog Mondays. You can read her post for more information here.

I love the idea of writing a tiny post on Mondays. Whenever I sit down to write a blog post, I get so tangled up in more and more words that sometimes I don’t ever finish it. Microblog Mondays lets you post something as short and instantaneous as a Facebook status update, so it’s great for the wordy among us, like me! So here’s my first micropost.

What Is Wrong with People?

I find myself asking (sometimes screaming) this question more and more these days as I read or hear about some of the silly, brainless things people do. The latest case in point: a story in our paper yesterday about new “wedding fads.” One: bridesmaids pulling up the backs of their gowns and exposing their asses for the purpose of photos to be put on the Internet. Two: some brides having plastic surgery done on their ring fingers so their fingers will “look better” in the photos.

So I ask again: What is wrong with people? When did our society become so narcissistic?


Friday, September 5, 2014

Just an Arrangement


Our “other” house is under contract and set to close within a couple of weeks. This will be a relief to us, both financially and psychologically. So why do I feel ambivalent about it?


The two years we lived there were among the most difficult years of my life.

It’s the place where I watched my mother’s mind deteriorate into dementia and her body slip inexorably out of her control.

But it’s also where I saw her every day, made her coffee, laughed with her, enjoyed the sense of humor she still had.

It’s where I came downstairs from our second-floor apartment several times a day to check on her on the first floor, where I might find she’d been incontinent or left the teakettle on to boil dry or was wearing the same clothes she’d had on the last two days or was trying to call my brother, having forgotten he had passed away.

It’s also where I came downstairs one day to find her sitting in an armchair in the foyer with the door open, watching the rain fall, in peace and contentment.

Where I saw her little smile of pleasure each time I reminded her that my husband and I lived right upstairs from her. “Over my head?” she’d ask, pointing to the ceiling. Yes, mom, right over your head. And where I saw her face collapse in grief every time I had to remind her about my brother.

It’s the house where I became her full-time caregiver, taking away the independence she’d had living on her own but giving her safety, security, and care in exchange.

In my office in our apartment I tried to juggle my freelance career with my responsibility for her and didn’t always succeed. Part of my mind was always on her. Was she sleeping safely in her recliner, or had she gotten up and fallen? Had she forgotten where she was and was feeling panicky? Would she open the downstairs door and yell up, “Is anybody here?”

Every night, after spending the evening downstairs with her, I would come back into our apartment and breathe a sigh of relief at having gotten through another day. I’d pray to God to give me strength for the next day, and for the unknown number of days ahead of us. Until the day we were able to get back to our own home in Providence and resume our normal lives.

I thought about that day so often and always felt guilty for wishing for it, because when that day came, I thought, it would mean she was gone.

As it happened, though, that day came before we lost her. It came after her fall and broken hip, when in spite of successful surgery she no longer had the cognitive capacity to do rehab and so was unable to walk again.

When she went into assisted living, we began planning for our move back to our own home. We gave our tenants two months’ notice. Yet, although I had thought I’d be nothing but happy about going back, something else had happened.

Our temporary house had sent roots into our hearts.

It’s where we were living when we got our dog. When I discovered the joy of crocheting. When I first started doing morning runs, into the village a mile away, past the river and cove where the sun sparkled on the water.

It’s the last place where we were together with my mother.

We always knew we’d be returning to Providence. This house was always just an arrangement for my mother’s care. Yet in spite of the difficult circumstances, we’d become attached to it and to the neighborhood.

Even now, almost three years since we moved back, I still occasionally miss that house. I sometimes wonder whether it might not be smart to keep it as an investment. But the market is so uncertain, and we were never cut out to be landlords. Selling is logically the best thing.

And yet.

I used to think my memories of the time we lived there would be painful and hard. But the difficult memories have blended with the good ones. When I look back now I see a complex and intricate tapestry of two years of our lives.

So I do feel a little sad. But I have that tapestry now, and that’s nothing to regret.




Saturday, August 2, 2014

Weekend Writing Warriors


Once again I’m taking part in the Weekend Writing Warriors Snippet Sunday. Here are eight sentences from my novel-in-progress, A Certain Shade of Blue. In my previous snippet, six-year-old Claire was awakened by her baby brother’s crying, then by a scream. This snippet follows. Comments and suggestions are welcome. Thanks!

She sees her mother leaning on her father by Toby’s crib, half drooping, he trying to support her, hold her up, like trying to hold water. The sounds coming from her mother’s mouth are unearthly, frightening. A shocked, scared hiccuping noise rises from the child’s own throat. Her father looks up. Claire, go back to bed, his voice cracks. What’s the matter, Daddy? Just go back to your room, he says. She runs back, collapses into her bed, and curls up under the covers, shaking.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My Gratitude/Happiness List  ▪ Week of July 21, 2014

Joining with Laurel Regan’s Gratitude linkup at Alphabet Salad. 
Here are some things I’m grateful for and that make me happy this week.

First and foremost, getting the cast off my wrist. It doesn’t feel perfect yet; I still have to wear a brace at least till I start therapy on Thursday, but I feel so much freer.

Having a short story accepted by Relief Journal for their next issue.

That I was patient when the journal took seemingly forever to reply. I was on the verge of withdrawing the story and submitting it to a strictly online journal, but I really, really wanted to keep trying to get it into a print publication. When their acceptance finally came, they apologized, saying they had been looking for a new fiction editor and finally found one. My patience paid off!

The support of friends and family while I was recuperating from surgery.

Receiving a lovely gift of flowers from a friend (thank you, Amy Morgan!)

Having the opportunity to guest post on Laurel Regan’s Alphabet Salad while she’s away at the BlogHer conference.

To once again be able to take a shower without covering my hand in plastic bags and to actually wash with my right hand. To be able to eat normally again (“normally” for a right-handed person, that is).

Lots of reading time over the past week and this one. I’ve finished five books so far.

Although I am normally a heat lover, I’m grateful that the recent weather was a little cool for July so that I wasn’t sweaty and itchy under my cast.

My husband’s thoughtfulness and support in taking two days off from work to take me for my surgery and to bring me to the doctor for my follow-up, as I couldn’t drive with the cast on.

Getting a professional shampoo and cut while my wrist is healing.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Menopause: A Scientific Experiment


Now, please. Do you see this circle on the floor? Please step inside it. Good.

Now we’re going to set the circle on fire, and see:

How long before you take off your jacket, your sweater?

How long before you roll up the sleeves of your shirt, open it at the collar?

How long before your forehead, your torso, break into sweat?

Time check time check time check…excellent.

Thank you for your cooperation. And for your participation in this experiment, you receive this certificate of initiation: you are officially menopausal.

The culmination  of some thirty-, forty-odd years of monthly pain and bleeding.

Oh, and we must warn you that what you experienced today will come back,

six or seven or eight times a day,

we can’t say for how many years,

but when it stops you will be too old to enjoy the freedom,

perhaps bent with arthritis, osteoporosis.

Congratulations. You are a creature of blood and fire.

You are a woman.