A Curiously Circular Experience


SONY DSC

Live music in the Berkshires.

Oh, this evening was one of those curiously circular experiences that I seem to keep noticing lately.  One of those moments when I feel all of the key points in my life passing each other as they circle around and come back into sync with each other for brief moments.

Tonight I talked Paul into making the 2 hour drive out to the Berkshires for some live music.

Oh, not Tanglewood!  Nope, not for us.

We were headed for an outdoor concert on the shores of a small pond in the tiny Berkshire town where our two sons now live.  It’s kind of a cool story, really.  Our boys used to play music together when they were in Middle School and High School. One of them is the bass player, one the drummer.  We were lucky enough, as the parents of the drummer, to host the band in our basement for 6 very interesting years. We went through a lot of musical growth together, including a somewhat challenging “MetalHead” phase.

But eventually, everyone grew up, and the boys moved out.  The music was gone from our house. The nest was empty.

Now, five years later, our boys have come together again. Laughing together. Living together. Sharing a fabulous friendship with a truly amazing group of friends in the old city of North Adams, Mass, in the gorgeous Berkshire Mountains.  And making music together again.

Our boys, along with several friends, were playing a free concert sponsored by the City of North Adams. “Flannel Dan and the Panhandle Band” were the featured band tonight.  We were pretty excited!

So we packed a delicious picnic, loaded up our lawn chairs, and headed out to the shores of lovely Windsor Lake in North Adams.   The sun was setting, and the golden light covered the lake and the trees.  There was a sweet, cool breeze blowing over the people who were scattered across the lawn.  We broke out our cheese and crackers, our salsa and chips while we waited for the band to begin playing.

We looked around at the rest of the audience, which was made up of surprisingly “mature” people. Most were white haired (like us!), but there were also a few clusters of young families, as well as several groups of twenty somethings who were mostly friends of the musicians.

I found myself looking with some longing at one young Momma with a tiny boy in her arms, wrapped in one of the silky baby carrier wraps that I recognized from my own daughter.  I approached her to admire the baby, and found that he was exactly 4 days younger than my new granddaughter.  He was just beautiful!  I wanted to hold him (I really, really, really wanted to hold him!) but I reigned myself in.  I introduced myself to his pretty young Mom, who turned out to be a friend of our sons.  I admired the little one, and went back to my picnic and to “Grampa”.

The music was really wonderful; we haven’t heard our boys perform with a full band for years now. We were both amazed at the professionalism and the ease of the performance.

But I was distracted.  I have to admit it.  I was distracted by the beauty of the sky, and the lake and late summer scents.

And I was distracted by the antics of a tiny golden haired boy, about a year old, who wandered away from his Dad to cross behind the band.  His huge, serious eyes and the way that he kept looking behind him to make sure that his Daddy was following reminded me so much of my Matt, the bass player, when he was that age.   Wanting to explore, needing to be safe.

I was distracted, too, by the energy and joyful clowning of the three year old boy whose Mom sat on a blanket next to ours, eating her picnic sandwich and trying to entice her child to share.  He, however, could not be bothered with mere food. He was too busy racing around in circles, dancing with both hands held to the sky, and hurling himself onto the blanket in a tangle of legs, flailing arms and bright red sneakers.

He could have been my Tim, the drummer, at the very same age.  The sparkle of mischief in his eyes had tears coming to mine.

I sat back in my camp chair. I held Paul’s hand and let the rich harmonies of our sons’ voices swirl around us.  I was so happy to see the strong, talented, happy young men that they have become. I looked at them, smiling at the beards, the height, the muscles in their arms.

I looked around me, saw the dancing little boy, the carefully exploring little boy.  I let my eyes rest on the sweet face of the newborn son in his Momma’s arms.

Every moment, every sweet memory of my years with my boys, went spinning and swirling and circling through my brain.

The music washed over me.  The sound of little boys giggling filled my heart.

It was a beautiful, harmonious, circular evening in the Berkshires tonight.   Life is a beautiful gift. It brings us new ways to love our children as they grow.  It shows us new ways to admire and appreciate them with every step that they take.

And sometimes life gives us an evening full of music and harmonies and perfect rhythms that are accompanied by the sounds of a baby’s cry, a toddler’s laugh, a little boy’s joyful shout as he dances to the ringing of the guitars.

Food is Life, Food is Love


I am such a ridiculous foodie.

Here I am, in the United States of America. I live within an hour and a half of a major city.  I have never, ever gone hungry, or even had to live without a favorite food. Ever. One look at my waistline, and you will know that I do not lie.

I am a terrible gardener.  All 6 of my tomato plants died this summer, for no apparent reason. I got 4 peppers out of 6 pepper plants.  The berries were out of control, but I didn’t plant any of those.  That was all Mother Nature.

So I don’t know where I get the nerve to envision myself as Ma Ingalls, but for some reason I have become completely 100% OBSESSED with local foods.  Like, insanely obsessed.

I belong to an incredible food coop called “Mass Local Foods”, where I go on line every month and order fresh, sustainably farmed, organic, local cheese, eggs, meats, chicken, grains, vegetables, honey…….  I can’t tell you how fabulous it was for me to discover the taste of FRESH pork…..holy deliciousness….. And fresh chicken, flash frozen and kept that way!  Wow. Like a whole new world of food.

The thing is, though, that I seem to be taking the locavore thing to a slightly crazy extreme.

We are approaching “peak harvest” here in North Central Massachusetts, and I am bound and determined to preserve these wonderful foods for the winter.

Why, you may ask yourself?  Given the fact that I can just run to Hannfords and buy canned tomatoes and frozen corn, why am I doing this?

I dunno.

But this is how I spent my Saturday:

IMG_1867

I canned a dozen jars of fresh tomatoes, complete with my own fresh garlic, local onions, my basil and oregano.   I burned my arm, made a mess of my counter, broke a jar and burned all ten fingers.  But I have at least 20 meals set for the winter.  Take that, Martha Stewart!

And I did this, too.

IMG_1865

I made two batches of vegetable soup base, two batches of carrot/ginger soup, and one big batch of tomato basil soup.  All fresh.  All local.  All made by me.

For the past three weeks, I have blanched, frozen and stored enough local sweet corn to last until next year’s crop.  Yummmmm.  I’ve made blueberry jam, blackberry preserves, strawberry jam and jars and jars of cucumber and zucchini pickles.

And I don’t really know why.

I mean, I guess it will be delicious on a rainy, icy December afternoon to simmer a pot of those tomatoes into a good pasta sauce.  But I don’t think that’s the whole reason.

I think that for some strange, innate, Italian Momma reason, I feel incredibly competent when I can feed people.  And I feel safe when I know that I have a kitchen full of healthy, fresh foods.  In case of an ice storm, a power outage or a Zombie Apocalypse, I’ll be ready to serve a healthy dinner to those I love.

How nuts is that?

My favorite kitchen decoration.  From the local farm, natch.

My favorite kitchen decoration. From the local farm, natch.

BIG mistake……Huge…..


I made a wicked big mistake today.

Huge.

I was driving around, doing various and sundry errands, and I had the radio on.  I like to listen to XM radio, and have a special affinity for POTUS, the station that covers national politics in a very non-partisan and highly intelligent way.

Today, to my great sorrow, they were covering a convention of conservatives on the topic of public K-12 education, and a few of the candidates were there to answer questions.

Holy heart attack.  This how I felt by the time I got to the end of the third Republican candidate:

 WHAT THE HELL??????

It was NOT a pretty sight (obviously).

I was literally shaking by the time I parked the car.  I wanted to reach right out and strangle someone.

Since they were on the radio, though, I couldn’t actually get to them.  Instead,  I had to force myself to breathe deep and repeat my mantra, “Teachers are fighting the good fight.”

But now that I am all calmed down, and the raging fire of the sun has set, and I’ve had a good dinner a glass or two of wine, I have decided to use my vast mastery of the English language to shed a bit of light on just what it was that I found so egregious about the crap that was spewed at that conference.

First of all, dear Republican Candidates, you really cannot value education and despise educators at the same time.  Truly. If you denigrate and disparage those who give their lives to educating the young then you cannot add a side note to tell us how much you appreciate teachers.

Second of all, when you say things like, “Teachers want our children to succeed, its the unions who don’t!”, you sound like a complete imbecile.  Who the hell do you think the union IS, if not the teachers?  Who do you think the union representatives are, if not teachers?

When you make claims about unions only representing the needs of the teachers, and not those of the children, you ignore the very real fact that without the unions behind them, teachers could not feel secure enough to stand up for the rights and needs of the students.  Without collective bargaining, do you really think that teachers would be able to advocate for increased services for kids? Do you honestly think that they could request smaller class sizes, or updated materials or more technology?  Of course not. In a world without collective bargaining, in your dream world of no unions, teachers would be forced to comply with every administrative mandate that came down the school hallway, whether from the school office, the district, the state or Washington DC.  Teachers would be completely without any recourse when told to do more with less, to reach ever greater numbers of children with ever greater needs, and to make do with outdated and limited resources.

Dear Republican Candidates, you do not support public education. You do not support children.  You know how I can tell? I can tell because you claim that you want “an excellent teacher in front of every class”, but you describe teachers as selfish and self serving. You claim that they refuse to be “accountable”.  You say that they refuse to adapt, refuse to be “innovative”, refuse to change the “status quo”. You would deny those “excellent” young scholars the protection of a contract, making them essentially employees at will.  You expect the very best of our young people to choose teaching?  What on earth do you think you offer that would make teaching the professional choice of smart young men and women?

I know that there will always be teachers. I know that there will always be young people who want to step into the classroom, to shape the lives of children.  I know this because I have been a teacher for many, many years.  I’ve seen the fads come and go, I’ve seen countless politicians pontificating about “fixing our schools”.  And I’ve seen an endless stream of idealistic, devoted, intelligent, caring young people coming up through the ranks of the education work force.

The thing is, Dear Republican EdReform Wannabees, these young people are coming into teaching in spite of you, not because of you.

As far as I can tell, you have nothing to offer our schools, our parents, our children. You would do your best to further demoralize our already embattled teachers. You would take away their safety net, take away their job security, take away their right to due process.  In fact, you seem to be doing your level best to make sure that there are no “excellent teachers” left to serve our schools.

I left teaching this year, so I am not here to defend my own lazy habits.  I’m not here to protest on my own behalf.   But I know a LOT of teachers, dear Candidates, a lot. Whether or not some of you brag about “fighting” them, whether or not one of you wants to “punch them in the face”, they are all out there right now, planning for a good school year. They are organizing, cleaning, setting up, writing lesson plans, taking classes, learning about your children, collaborating with colleagues, making their schedules.

They deserve a lot better than what you are offering, Dear Republican Candidates.

And so do our kids.

Perfection


Me and Ellie, cuddling up.

Me and Ellie, cuddling up.

I am sitting on my sofa on this brutally hot afternoon.  The curtains are drawn against the sun, and the fans are circulating the cool air from my bedroom AC unit.  It is quiet in the house, except for the lulling white noise of the big floor fan and the humming of the AC.

My big dog, Tucker, is asleep on the floor, his warm head resting on my right foot. My laptop is perched on my knees.

Baby Ellie is asleep on my chest.  I feel each of her heartbeats against my own heart. I feel her silky hair on my chin. I smell her sweet baby smell and kiss the long, graceful fingers of her left hand, which she has placed against my waiting lips.

Every few minutes, Ellie stirs just a bit, making a tiny squeak, or stretching out her arms. I can tell when she pouches her cheeks and blows out air, because I feel the gentle movement against me.

Ellie’s Momma is asleep in the other room, using this time to recharge.  She needs to be ready for all those middle of the night feedings and changings.

She trusts me with her Ellie.

I hold my granddaughter closer. I scoop my palm under the sweet roundness of her diapered bottom, hitching her a bit higher against me. I rest my cheek on her head.

The fans hum, the dog yawns, and Ellie’s heart beats strong and steady against mine.

My world at this moment is absolute perfection.

Ambivalent


Ambivalent_Face

“Ambivalent”

If I were still teaching fifth grade, I would point out to my students how this word comes from two Latin roots. “Ambi”, I would tell them.  “It means both or all around.” I would circle the first root for them.   “Valent”, I’d say, looking at their faces. “Does anyone see a familiar word part in there? Do you recognize anything?”

I would wait a bit, let them think or talk a bit.  If no one responded, I’d let my marker underline the letter “v-a-l”.  Someone would raise a hand and say, “value?” with a rising tone to show uncertainty.  If I was lucky, someone would have noticed the similarity between “valent” and “equivalent”.

If I were still teaching, I’d guide them to the realization that “ambivalent” means “two values” or “two measures”.  I would then give them a lesson in using context cues to derive the meaning of this new word, now that they understood its roots.

“Let me put it in a sentence for you, guys”, I’d say. “I am ambivalent about the start of the school year.”

If I were still teaching, this sentence would make us all laugh.

If I were still teaching, my ambivalence would be of a different sort than it is this year.

I am not teaching any more.  I am not setting up my classroom, planning the first few “get to know you” activities or ordering new books for the classroom library.  I’m sad. I should be spending the last two weeks of August memorizing the names of my new kids, in alphabetical order.  I should be sending out that “Welcome to Room 210!” letter where I tell them to relax, to bring in a book to read and a good snack to get them through the morning. I should be sending them my email address, and encouraging them to write to me.

I should be buying some new clothes and new pair of Dansko clogs.  I’m sad.

But this year, summer will not end for me on August 31st. This year, summer will last until the first frost.  For the first time in so many years, I’ll be able to walk in the sunshine in September, go to the beach after Labor Day, continue to visit the farm stand while the tomatoes wane and the pumpkins come into season.

I’m so delighted!

I feel free for the first time since I can remember. If I want to take a drive to the Berkshires to see my boys, I can do it!  If I decide to stay home and bake pies all day, I can do that, too.

No more rubrics.  No more correcting.  No more gathering of upset children in the hall outside my door to help them cope with hurt feelings. No more recess, no more permission slips, no more lunch count.

No more standardized tests.  Ever.

I am the embodiment of ambivalence. I will miss my school friends so much that I can hardly stand it.  How will I get by without my morning hugs from my teaching buddies? Where will I go to share stories, to share laughs, to swap ideas?

And after six years of working and commuting with my daughter, what will I do without those long rides to share ideas and thoughts and lesson plans?  What will I do when I can’t talk to her every day?

And, God how I’ll miss the kids.  I am at my best in a room full of ten year olds.  They challenge me, they make me laugh, they reflect back the warmth and love that I give to them.  When I’m teaching, I feel alive. I feel validated. I feel useful.   I’m sad.

But this year is my “do over” year; I will spend the cool days of late fall and the icy days of winter and the melting, muddy days of spring with my beautiful baby granddaughter in my house.  She’ll be there when I bake cookies, she’ll snuggle in my arms while I read to her, she’ll look out the window at the falling rain with me.  My heart is bursting with joy.

“Ambivalent”, I will whisper into her soft dark hair. “I am full of too many conflicting feelings to be able to put them into words.”  I’ll hold her closer and close my eyes and breathe in her baby scent.

I am ambivalent.

Old Mamma Nature, keepin’ me humble


Oy, vey.

2333628234_cc269c59e0_o

When will I learn?

I am one of those people who truly hate Mother Nature in January, when the ground is buried in drifts of snow and the air is bitter.  I fear the night when the cold seems to chase me from the car into the house, and when the very idea of sitting outside seems like madness.

Which means, of course, that I am one of those people who totally embraces and cherishes Mother Nature in the warm days of the year.  I am someone who becomes absolutely giddy when that first breath of warm spring air wafts across the deck.

I like to think of myself as a young-at-heart, joyful sort, you know? I like to think that I am a woman who is still open to the delightful experiences of the young!

So tonight, after Paul and I had finished our lovely dinner of spare ribs and fresh carrots, I offered to take out the trash, rather than staying inside to wash the dishes. You see, we’ve been in the middle of a pretty significant drought here in Central Massachusetts, and today had been a truly rainy day.  When I offered to empty the kitchen trash and roll the big barrel way out to the curb, I was aware that a steady warm rain was pouring down outside. I could hear the distant thunder, and smell the warm earth through the windows.

So out I went, my wonderful husband having agreed to load the dishwasher and put away the leftovers.

The sun had set by the time I stepped out of the garage and onto the driveway. I was barefoot, as I so often am in the warmer weather.  I pulled the big trash barrel behind me along the 200 feet or so of our drive. I felt the patter of the warm rain on my shoulders as I passed under the pines that line our property.

I left the full barrel on the curb, and turned to head back to the house.  I took three steps, maybe four, and found myself standing on the edge of a good, deep puddle.  I heard a little giggle as it escaped my throat.  I waded happily through the warm, dark water, so proud of my aging self as I rejoiced in the sensuous pleasure of the water on my feet.  I made my way along the drive, breathing deeply of the warm, wet summer air.  I made out the honeyed scent of my tall phlox, the pungent spice of the marigolds, the wet sweetness of the clover.  I put out my arms and raised my face to the sky. I laughed out loud as the rain poured over my face.

Thrilled with the overload of sensation, so proud of my ability to still embrace the world around me, I took a bold step into the garage, where my soaking feet met the smooth cement of the floor.

And right onto my ass I tumbled.  My left butt cheek crashed into the floor, sending a jolt of pain up my aging spine.  My arms flew back to protect me, and my left elbow hit the floor with a crunch.  I hit so hard that I bit my tongue and a muffled “gerg” flew out of my mouth.

I sat for a moment, stunned.  I was afraid to move.  All of a sudden, I felt less like a summer goddess and more like an old crone.  Slowly, carefully, I wiggled my fingers and toes, bent both of my knees, creaked back up onto my feet.

And now I sit on the sofa, an ice pack on my elbow, a glass of wine at hand.  I can still smell the warm summer rain, and hear the gentle song as it runs down the roof.

Next week, I’m letting Paul take out the trash while I carefully place the plates into the dishwasher.

Lesson learned, Mother Nature, lesson learned.

Friendship


Once, long ago, I was invited by a friend to join a choir.  The choir was a group of people who sang Russian songs, under the direction of a wonderful old Russian man named Igor.

Igor was kind, gentle, sensitive, and very old fashioned Russian.  We were a group of very young students who were studying the Russian language in the late 1970’s. We loved the romance of the language, we loved the tender emotion of Pushkin and Tolstoy and Lermontov.

We loved to sing together.

During my time with this wonderful choir, I met a woman who was totally intriguing to me. She was half Russian Jew, half Korean.  She was beautiful, tall, smart, stylish in the most effortless way.  I fell just a little bit in love with her and her beautiful soprano voice.

Gradually, over some time, we became friends.  I found her to be incredibly sophisticated where I was a humble country bumpkin.   You see, Deb had attended a prestigious private girls college where I had graduated from a small inner city state school.  She had sailed the oceans on a Russian cruise ship, while I had considered a trip to Cape Cod to be exotic.

Deb was unique.  She was creative.  She read books that I had never heard of. Deb had grown up in New York.  I considered her to be the epitome of style and grace and late 70’s cool.

I was slightly star-struck when we first became good friends.

But soon we began to work together. Two young women helping new Russian immigrants to maneuver the American health care system. We worked as interpreters for these newly arrived families, helping them to make and attend doctor’s appointments, finding them apartments, enrolling them in English classes. Through our work at Jewish Family Services, Deb and I learned so much about life for new immigrants to the US, about Russian-American relations, about our health care system.

Most of all, though, we learned a lot about ourselves. We learned that we were caring and loving and kind. We learned that we had a talent for giving something of ourselves to people who needed a kind voice. We learned that we were friends, in every meaning of that word.

Deb became my very best friend.  She was the one who saw talents in me that I never knew were there. She encouraged me to sing, to explore, to reach out.  Deb was my sounding board when I went through a rough patch very early in my marriage. She stood by me without judgement.  She was my friend.

And it was Paul and I who, unintentionally, introduced Deb to her future husband. We had hosted a party at our apartment, and had hoped that maybe Deb would be drawn to one of our friends.  We knew that she was single and gorgeous and interesting and smart. We thought there was a good chance that she’d connect with one of our many interesting single men friends.

The only one we’d never considered, of course, was the friend who fell for Deb.  We couldn’t have predicted the dating, the wedding, the two beautiful girls, the 32 years of happily married life.

And Deb and I stayed close for so many of those years.  Our children knew each other.  We visited her California home once; she came back to the East Coast every year.

But time went on. The kids grew up.  My hair went gray and my chorus days waned. I never completely lost touch with my Deb, but our friendship faded and wilted and went into a dormant state.

I thought about her often. I thought of us singing Russian folk songs on the banks of the Charles River. I thought of her when I drove through Brookline, Mass.  I remembered our Sunday morning brunches, our dinners near the hospital, our flirtations with various young and handsome doctors.   I remembered telling her about my first pregnancy. I remembered meeting her little girls.

But time seemed to have moved us apart.  I no longer write letters in long hand on pretty stationary.  Deb doesn’t like to email.  I can’t seem to manage the time lapses on the cell phone; she is not on Facebook.

We drifted apart.

But.

This past weekend, Deb and her husband Steve were visiting in our area.  They contacted us and we made a plan to have them come and stay with us for a couple of nights.

I was elated. I was anxious. I was so happy. I was afraid.

I’m not the young idealist that I was when Deb and I first met.  Now I am a chubby, middle aged, retired teacher with a slight chip on her shoulder.

Now I am a grandma.  What would we say to each other?

I waited all morning for Deb and Steve to arrive. I cleaned the house, plumped the pillows in the guest room, made some appetizers.  I worried.  I rearranged some photos, swept the front steps.  Worried a little bit more.

And then they were here.  I was out in the yard, my old Sadie doggie by my side, when I saw their car approaching.  They stopped in the driveway, and Deb stepped out of the car.

Her arms were open. She was smiling.  She was my Deb, my friend, my true heart’s companion. I folded myself into her embrace, almost sobbing with relief.  I heard her voice, so familiar and so dear, saying my name.  I inhaled the scent of her thick dark hair, and felt the cool softness of her familiar cheek against mine.

I was home. My friend was still my dearest friend.  We stepped back, looked into each other’s eyes.  We laughed and hugged each other tight once again.

Some things don’t change, no matter how much time has passed. The love of a true friend is one of those beautiful gifts.  I had the incredible pleasure of learning that Deb will be a grandmother in February of this year.  And I had the even greater pleasure of seeing my first grandchild encircled in Deb’s loving arms.

SONY DSC

Deb and Ellie.

Life may go on, but the best parts of it remain the same.

Thank you, Deb and Steve, for coming to visit us this weekend!!!!!

So I have a question…..


Is it Barnum & Bailey's?   No!  Its the GOP on stage!!!

For anyone out there in blogland who is considering voting for “The Donald”, I have a serious question.

Have you even tried to picture what the world would be like if Trump became President of the United States?  Have you thought about what would happen if he were to represent our country at a meeting of international heads of state?  Have you envisioned how those conversations might go?

I can see it now. There is an international banking crisis,  The European Union has called a meeting of all of the Western Powers.  It’s being held in Berlin.

In walks President Trump. He approaches the group, watching Angela Merkel as she chats quietly with François Hollande and David Cameron.

“Good morning, Monsieur le President”, says Hollande.

“Yeah,” answers the American leader, “First of all, I don’t have time for this crap.  And oh, by the way, our economy is stronger than all of yours put together.”  He sits at the head of the table, a space reserved for Chancellor Merkel, whose country is hosting the event.  Camera’s click and zoom in on the President, who leans forward on his arms.

“Monsieur le President”, begins Hollande, attempting to point out the faux pas to the President.  “I believe…….”

The Donald turns to Chancellor Merkel. “Sit down babe, take a load off.  You’re not getting any younger, or thinner for that matter and we gotta lotta work to do here.” He points to a seat next to him.  Face flushed, the Chancellor casts a quick and horrified glance at the press. She sits as her assistants and various flunkies quickly switch the leather bound agendas, each engraved with the name of a leader, into the correct places.

The Chancellor clears her throat, “My friends, thank you for coming to this emergency meeting of……”

She is interrupted by the US President, who breaks in with a smirk, “Angel, baby, we know why we’re here.  Let’s cut to the chase, because believe me, you politicians don’t have a clue about what to do. I’m a business man, and by the way, I’ve made millions and lost them, but then I made them again, so obviously we do things my way.”

“Monsieur…..”  The other leaders shift uneasily in their various seats, adjusting the papers in front of them. The cameras continue to click.

“So.” The Donald looks out at the group, waiting until he is sure that every reporter is focused squarely on his face. “We declare bankruptcy, we wipe out all this useless debt, we start fresh. Believe me”, he casually waves a hand  and shrugs, “I’ve done this schtick before.”

Or how about this for a scenario.   The US finds itself in a military confrontation with Russia over land that has been seized in Eastern Poland.  Putin has declared the area a Russian protectorate, citing the needs of the Russian speaking minority who live in the area.  He has threatened to use “every weapon in our arsenal” to defend the expansion of his power.

A high level confidential phone call has been arranged.  The interpreters are poised and ready, determined to capture every nuance that is spoken.

President Putin places the call.

“Mr. President,”  he says, when the call is answered. “Good afternoon.”

“Listen, Vlad, this whole threatening each other thing, that’s just not gonna work. We’re the United States, OK? We’re the big boys, get it? I don’t have time for all this phone calling, useless political crap.  You wanna shoot? So shoot.”

There is a moment’s pause as the interpreter speaks softly and quickly. Then Putin speaks again.  “I am sure, my friend, that we can find a common ground in which both of our countries can find peace and stability.”

“I’m not your friend, and by the way, I have millions of friends and followers. Have you seen my Twitter account? I don’t need another friend.  This is a waste of time.  If you want Poland, make me an offer.  Just don’t waste my time.”

World War Three begins the next morning.

I know that this post was written in a humorous tone.  I wrote it that way.  The thing is, in my deepest heart, where the real worry lives, I’m not at all sure that its an exaggeration of how this guy would operate on the world stage.   

Donald Trump is not the champion of free speech. He is not simply standing up to the “politically correct”. He is rude, vindictive, self-absorbed, arrogant, mean spirited, misogynistic, egotistical and incredibly dangerous.  ALL right thinking Americans need to recognize the danger that he represents.  This is our national Presidential election; it isn’t a reality TV show or a Hollywood movie.  This is serious stuff.   If you want to elect a conservative, look at the array of talent that is on display. Kasich, Fiorina, Walker, Christie, Graham……..  You have plenty to choose from.   Just please do the entire a world a favor and turn away from the potential train wreck that is Donald Trump.

Wishing for Ignorance


A gull on Assateague Island.

Sometimes I just don’t want to know.

I don’t want to know that thousands of my fellow citizens are actually considering casting a vote for a guy whose only credentials include being a rude loudmouthed braggart.  They think that amassing millions of dollars and badmouthing politicians make him “honest” and “outspoken.”

I don’t want to know that those people are ignoring his racism, his misogyny, his self love…………..  I don’t want to know that they have forgotten what happens in the world when a strong nation decides to support a dangerous xenophobe who encourages them to blame all of their problems on those pesky inferior minorities.

Sometimes I just don’t want to know.

I don’t want to have to face the fact that some people in my country are so filled with hate and viciousness that they would take away health services for poor women by making up ugly lies about those who provide those services.  I can’t stand knowing that some people can so torture and twist the English language that they use the phrase “pro-life” to defend their illegal and immoral actions as they literally threaten the lives of medical workers who provide cancer care, screenings and- most ironic and enraging of all- who provide contraceptive care to women in need.

Sometimes reality is just too much for me.   I don’t want to believe that I actually live in a country where some of our “leaders” encourage more of us to carry guns in theaters, churches and schools.  I don’t think I can stand the realization that the money from the NRA means more to my government than the lives of little children or innocent old ladies.

There are days when I tell myself that I really need to turn off the TV and the radio.  I tell myself that I can’t change anything. I can’t make people think of Hitler when they listen to Trump. I can’t make them own up to the fact (the actual fact!) that Planned Parenthood prevents far more pregnancy than it ends, or that only 3% of its services include abortion.  I try to convince myself that there is truly nothing I can do to end the out of control spiral of gun violence in my country.

There are days when I want to be a Hobbit. I want to live in the Shire, where my greatest concern would be planning for the “Party” and weeding my beautiful garden. There are days………

Sleeping Beauty


I have just made an amazing discovery!  Fairy tales really must be true!

I have discovered the actual location of……………….. Sleeping Beauty’s castle!!!!

Yup.

Sleeping Beauty, the mean old step mother, the handsome prince.  They were all most definitely living in Central Massachusetts in the summer.

How do I know this?

Because of the huge vines that are attempting to climb my deck, my fence and the walls of my house.  Like this one, creeping across my lawn even though I cut it back to the ground every week.

IMG_1846

Or this tenacious climber, the one that I have cut back no fewer than four times this summer.  It seems to be determined to sneak in through my dryer vent.

Let me in........

Let me in……..

So I now know that it was not magic that encircled the famous castle with thorn covered vines.

Nope, the beautiful princess was not protected for a hundred years by magical thorny roses.  Here is the truth, finally revealed:

Sleeping Beauty was asleep in a castle that was wrapped up in a giant blackberry bramble.  The handsome prince probably didn’t find her because he was looking for his true love.

I suspect he was looking for a very good blackberry cobbler.