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Showing posts from 2010

Innocent until proven guilty~

I recently sat in an overheated courtroom with seventy-five prospective jurors waiting to be called to fill twelve seats, but most hoping to go home. As the judge read the charges there were audible gasps from many of the jurors, angry shakes of the head, disgusted faces. I too recoiled inwardly—it was an ugly crime: "rape of a child with force," and  "assault on a retarded person."
When introduced, the defendant stood and turned to face us, expressionless as coached, lest we judge the curve of his mouth or the level of an eyebrow. We are primed, each of us, to read subtle facial and body language cues. We often form a first impression in seconds. While we may come to change that impression in time, it's not easy. First impressions are potent.
There is a definite prejudice against those accused of crime, studies show. There's an initial presumption of guilt. After all, people think, this person has been arrested, he's been charged, and he's sitting i…

I'm a calendar girl!

I'm a calendar girl four times over! Ms. January, Ms. July, Ms. September, and Ms. November. 

Ooh la la!

Not exactly me (of course!), but my photos. *Four were chosen in a photo contest by the Taunton River Watershed Association for their first ever calendar.

I'm happy to be part of an organization that works hard to protect the local watershed.


It's strange how the mind works. There's a stream of subconscious memories flowing continuously beneath our radar that influences us think or do things for reasons we're often unaware of.
When I downloaded this picture to my computer, my mind jumped back forty decades to when I was in college and worked as a cashier in J.M. Fields--a department store that has long since gone out of business.
I had a reputation among the various department managers as someone who could restore order from chaos, as in: refolding and organizing a customer-mussed pile of baby clothes, rearranging cups, plates, and wine glasses on the shelves in the housewares department, and folding bras—some with cups big enough to fit my head—and organizing them by size. Not rocket science, but an inherently pleasurable task making things neat is.
The long-ago praise from managers, so rare in jobs like that, still comes to mind when I'm organizing something--a kitchen cabinet, a sock drawer, a piece of w…

What's your name?

I walked into the assisted living home to find a dozen or so of the residents singing "I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover." I was going to skirt the room and take the stairs at the far end to the second floor where my mother's room was. But I paused to look at the faces just in case she was part of the group.
She was.
She wasn't expecting me; I hadn't called to say I was coming, and she wouldn't have remembered if I had. This I'd discovered on other visits when I had called before making the hour-and-a-half drive.

She always had that spark of recognition when I knocked and then entered her room.

"Hi, Ruthie," she'd exclaim, and I always felt relieved, knowing I was still in her shadowy memory bank.
Today I went over and knelt on the floor beside her chair. She smiled and said hello. But she'd spoken politely as she might do to a stranger. Then she gave me a quizzical look. 

"You look like my daughter, " she said, searching my…

Thirty-nine men~

They were men in 1967, albeit young and untested, until the dense and steamy jungles of Vietnam became an exam they dared not fail.  Now they call themselves the "Boys of '67." They met as a group in 2008 for the first time in forty-one years as graduates of the class of 5-'67 at the Basic School in Quantico, Virginia. From that reunion emerged the desire to honor their missing classmates in a permanent way.
The "boys" placed a new monument at the Marine Museum in Triangle, Virginia, in honor of their thirty-nine classmates who died in Vietnam. This monument was a gift from those who never forgot--never could forget and never will--their friends who didn't return home. Dedicated in a ceremony on October 16, it speaks to the power of the loyalty that is often generated in the worst of times.

Families of the deceased were invited. Many came--brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles, and one ninety-five-year-old mother who's lived forty-three y…

Midsummer night's dream~

Midsummer eve~
Click on photos to enlarge them.
What better way to spend a midsummer evening than a picnic on the lawn overlooking a vineyard … listening to live music … drinking wine … watching kids play the air guitar… smiling at the others enjoying the same thing  … while the setting sun puts on a fantasia in light?
Being there with friends, maybe. But last night we made a last minute decision to go to Westport Rivers Winery for the Friday night concert. We tossed sandwiches and fruit into a cooler and went by ourselves. We sat in the crowd, eating and drinking to the mellow sound of One Bad Ant, a local singer—Gary Duquette--with his unplugged mix of country songs. Good stuff.
 Summer concert~
The evening was a people watcher's delight, and I'd often find people watching back. I'd been glancing at a nearby woman who reminded me of a younger friend. This is just how she'll look when she ages—pleasingly plump and like she's a lot of fun. The kind of person who'…

Tour de Maine

While Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck—and, of course, Lance--raced along the oxygen-thin ridge of the French Alps, Bruce and I hopped on our own bikes. We rode two "stages" for a total of fifty miles, compared to the twenty-stage, 2000-plus mile run of the Tour de France.

Our "alps" were the rolling hills of coastal Maine where the oxygen is at a comfortable sea-level dose, no matter how high the hill might seem to the biker. And we weren't racing. But still… I'll bet every one of the eighteen of us on the trip thought of Lance with great respect at least once, especially when puffing up a steep incline. And there were a few!

When my friend Amy suggested the Maine Coastal Camping Bike Tour sponsored by L.L. Bean of Freeport, Maine, I thought it sounded fun. What better way to explore than on a bike, where the sights and scents are not held at bay by the walls of an air-conditioned car? The website promised a leisurely paced weekend bike tour along scenic …

Ready to rumble!

Toby and Tucker, the two young cats we adopted, race and romp through the house while we sleep until their fur is flying. I wake each morning to the muffled sounds of padded paws pounding up and down the stairs, and to a living room rug from which I vac enough fur daily to knit a small kitten.

Becky had become sedate in her dotage, so having two spunky young cats in the house feels a little like the not –so-gentle reminder you get the first time you have the grandchildren overnight. Oh, yeah! The young have energy. I'd forgotten just how feisty young cats could be.

The leaves on the houseplants bear punctures from feline fangs. Swishing tails knock picture frames off the end tables. The cats discover that nibbling my toes is a good way to get attention at 2 a.m. (and 4:30 and 6:00…) And I no longer have the Galileo thermometer on the bookshelf…or anywhere. It shattered during an early morning chase, scaring the cat that knocked it off as much as it scared us awake.


Don't Blink~

My son shared a Kenny Chesney song with me today… Don't Blink.
"Listen to this, Mom," Dave said. Then he left me to listen, and went back down stairs to continue unpacking. He's home from college for the summer and is trying to reestablish his nook in the basement.
I don't think he expected to find me in tears when he came back to the kitchen. But the song moved me… a cliché of a song really… and that's not meant to take anything away from it.  It was a "time flies" song, and that theme's been done to death. Remember Turn Around?
*Turn around and you're two,
Turn around and you're four,
Turn around and you're a young girl going out of my door.

Tempus fugit. Whether you're having fun or not.
But there's no reasoning with emotion. There was something about the music and the lyrics, something about the YouTube video portrayal of an old man of 102 exhorting us to love… that hit me.
Dave hugged me. "Sorry," he said. "I…

Missing Becky~

Becky~ August 19, 1991 to April 26, 2010

She was so loved, this gentle pet of mine.  And how she loved us back.

I've been alone in my house before, of course. Those days when my husband took the kids out for the day, being able to vacuum without a baby in one arm and a toddler, riding the vacuum cleaner like it was a bronco, was solitary pleasure. Later there were quiet days as the kids were at camp and my husband at work. And then came the bittersweet aloneness when kids left home for college and a life apart. Still, I'd always liked being alone, knowing it was short lived.

This morning, after my husband pulled out of the driveway with a day full of plans,  I stood in the living room feeling alone in a way I never had before.  An unfamiliar emptiness and silence surrounded me.

Yesterday we put our 18-year-old cat, Becky, to sleep. The decision to do so was surprisingly easy. The vet had told us Becky would let us know when it was time, and somehow she did. But the decision was…

When the sun gets serious~

 I wander through the winter weary yard, a collage of brown, crisp and dry, asleep 
but for the tender tulip tips blushing pink, but not shy.
They know the power they contain, the joy they'll bring when the sun gets serious.

Magic wands~

Golden grasses sway,
seemingly subservient 
to wild winter winds, but they are magic wands waving spring closer.


POLL: This Woman feels sorry for Tiger. Is she sane?

I have mixed feelings about Tiger Woods.
If Tiger were Joe Schmoe, would I care what he does in his spare time? Not at all. By the same token, I don’t much care what Tiger does in his.  And there were plenty who didn’t care what President Clinton did in his free time, either.
If I were Tiger’s wife… well, if I were his wife, I wouldn’t be his wife any more. Money and the good life be damned. But then, I never loved him like Elin has, and I haven’t had a chance to see how much being a multimillionaire might change my mind. So who knows, really?
What happened is between Tiger and Elin… and by default, his children, who are blessedly too young to absorb what’s transpired. At the present, anyway.
It’s not for me to judge. I wasn’t primed for fame from age three. I wasn’t blessed with (cursed with?) the power, money, and good looks to send men flocking to my feet. It’s easy for me to sit in my living room, with my cat purring on my lap, and shake my head at Tiger’s indiscretions, but wh…

Visit to the post office~

Our mail comes to the mailbox at our driveway's end—a black plastic box that replaced the metal one the plow took down last winter. This is where I stick my outgoing mail, as well, flipping the red flag to attention so the mailman will stop, which he'd do anyway, because there are always supermarket fliers to deliver, if not bills. But today I need to mail a book to someone who reviews for the Internet Review of Books, so I go to the post office.

Post offices are funny places--friendlier than the Registry of Motor Vehicles, but not much more efficient. I've met some great people in both, and had some wonderful conversations while waiting my turn. Efficiency is not conducive to chatting; I'm fine waiting and talking.

Today I stand in line with a book in a "Priority Mail" envelope and a five-dollar bill in hand to pay $4.90 to send the book from snowy New England to New Mexico's desert in a day or two.

The line shuffles forward; only one of the two window…

Who you callin' a recluse?

When people die, friends and family eulogize them, unless, somehow, they are "famous," in which case everybody gets into the act… as is the case with J. D. Salinger, author of, among other things, the acclaimed The Catcher in the Rye, a book you may have been exposed to in high school, and if not, then you must have been meaning to read it lo these many years. If you fall into this category, it's time you meet Holden Caulfield. Get thee to the library.

Apart from his publications that ceased decades ago, Salinger has been getting his share of recently ignited posthumous attention after living out the last nearly half century of is life as a media endorsed "recluse," before dying at 91 this week.

For the past five decades he was a resident of Cornish, New Hampshire, a town touted for harboring its share of "reclusive" artists. Salinger got out and about—church suppers, book stores-- and maybe stayed home just as often, like many folks do in towns wher…

Winter sings~

 cold and shadowy winter sings
in tones so low you'll  miss them
 if you don't put on mittens and scarf and squint into the setting sun.
Then the quiet aria becomes a duet,
then a quartet,
until soon
all nature raises its voice in harmony.
Do you hear it?

Do you join the chorus?

A thousand silent words~

In silence,
with no fanfare,
you blew your crimson trumpet 
and heralded the snow.

This New Year thing~

A tiny planet traveling at about 67,000 MPH makes a trip around a nothing special star 93 million miles away—and we who ride along mark its completed circuit with a big celebration.

These circuits—years—accumulate into centuries, millennia, eras; we measure our history with them. And yet we seem not to think far in the future to the time when the present  will be but a dusty memory, a two sentence paragraph in a text book--or maybe not even that.

Thomas Paine thought he lived in the “the times that try men’s souls.” Haven’t all generations before him, and those living after, thought the same thing? That the decades we live are the toughest, the most meaningful, the ones that will be remembered as especially noteworthy? A turning point? Something more important than anything in the past?

When I listened to the 2009 wrap up… pundits declaring certain moments as highly significant and memorable, I couldn't help but think of how many of the events are but  shooting stars… sound a…