Nice Weekend. Good Times

It was such a nice weekend:

ONE PERSON threw up eight times.

ONE PERSON watched 21 episodes of Modern Family

TWO PEOPLE gave a dog a bath using Johnson’s No More Tears, offering him a pedicure after. Lucky dog!


THREE PEOPLE played the board game Risk for hours.

TEN PEOPLE devoured a yummy meal made by the dog-bather above: super-fresh thin-sliced swordfish drizzled with cherry tomatoes in oil, broccolini, braised kale with shredded parmigiano reggiano cheese, roasted cauliflower and a wheat-berry side dish.

ONE OF THOSE DEVOURING PERSONs also blew out some candles….


… on a chocolate  cake made by a family of five who ended up fleeing before the plague of throwing-up and so were not present for the fun – but! who, in their niceness, also left a giant shepherd’s pie for us all, a homemade banner saying Happy Birthday and a wonderful card.

ONE PERSON, having recovered entirely from the throwing up fits, enjoyed an iPad, with headphones so as no to drive the rest crazy with the sound.


ONE PERSON enjoyed the cake so much he had several pieces.


And ONE PERSON  watched it all with very wide eyes.


It was a very nice weekend. A family is a family is a family all right.

Wait, what’s that you say? You’ve never seen that HBO documentary? Here’s a 45-second clip from it. Dare ya to watch it unmoved. 🙂


The Joke’s on Me

me falling on the ice

Just after the last really big storm I drove over to the ABC House and was just hurrying up the hilly sidewalk to get inside when – whoops! – the icy walk got the better of me and I slammed down on the ice on both knees. I tried to get up and slipped again. And worse luck, everything in my hands flew out of my grip, and landed far out of my reach across the treacherous stretch of sidewalk. What to do, what to do?

Luckily, since my phone was tucked into the pocket of my jeans, I still had it anyway.

 Crouching down so I wouldn’t fall a third time, I called the house phone just inside and one of the students answered.

“Bryson, I fell down out here. I’m fine but I keep falling down somehow. I can’t seem to even take a step. Plus I lost my keys, which are like six feet away from me.”

“What?! ” said Bryson. “Oh God, I’ll be right out!”

And sophomore Bryson did come right out, along with senior Hazees, and together they led me up the hilly path into the house.

“You were so alarmed, it was sweet,” I said to Bryson once we were safely inside. “Did I really sound that panicked?”

“No it wasn’t that! It was when you said you lost your keys. I thought you said you lost your TEETH.”

Lost my teeth! And me a mere baby of 65 as of today.

Still I take scant comfort; losing my teeth could be next all right, all right. For now, on this quiet birthday I’m just feeling grateful.

For friends and family…

For the full set of teeth I grew in my own once-little mouth…


me at age 5

and for the help of the young and strong. Thanks, all of you! Thanks for all the fun and learning, you super ABC guys! 


If a Man Asks for Your Shirt…

brandi takes it offIt doesn’t show poor boundaries that I offered a guy one of my contact lenses, does it?

He came to look at our house to see if there were any way we could air condition such a leaky old ship as this place and arrived a little after our appointment time.

“I’m so sorry I‘m late!” he said. “My contact lens just popped out of my eye on the way over here! I had to pull over and I looked all over the truck but I didn’t find it.”

His eye was watering.

“If you’re like me you can’t see at all,” I said.

“Right!” he said.

“Are yours the extended wear 30-day kind like I have?”

“Yes they are.”

“What magnification?”

“3.75 in that eye,” he said.

“Just a sec,” I said. 

I went to my medicine cabinet, pulled out one of my own 3.75s and gave it to him – and we had a little festival of joy for the poorly visioned then and there.

It isn’t often you can help someone in such a specific way like this. I was glad I could.


Had Some Setbacks, Had Some Fun

DSC_0091Setbacks first; the delivery guys came a third time to install our new fridge but now the plug doesn’t fit. (Sigh.) After whining about it here and then again here, I choose to think of other things today.

Like the fact that our son came home this past weekend  from faraway Arkansas and made us laugh til our sides hurt about the adventures he and his buddies had trying to drive an RV so wide that saplings were breaking off along the lonely desert road until they managed to get the hang of it. (It’s like when you’re pregnant: at first you just don’t KNOW how wide you really are.)

arizona inn mpm smiles

Also, the Whole ABC Family gathered to celebrate Fall Family Weekend, and had such had a nice time eating and talking and cooking (and square dancing!)


Also fun looking at pictures of ourselves doing all this. 🙂


Then too, one of our ‘extra’ kids  came home  and did some champion sleeping in his room. (Computer Science major is not for the faint of heart; he was tired!)  We went through some of his stuff from high school and I came upon this picture from when he was just a freshman with Winchester ABC. He doesn’t look a thing like this now but what fun to be reminded of when he did. Was it only four short years ago?


Sunday morning I took my two grandsons to eat pancakes at a McDonald’s Play Place where they came to the realization that at six and nine they now feel too big to crawl inside those large plastic intestines. Sad! The first of many closing doors for them but instead…

…Instead we came back to our house, just in time to meet the rest of the fam, pretend to watch football and bask in the joy of being all together.

Which is what it’s all about really in life. Which for sure is what it’s about. 





Glad I Came

nan & grace in 78I flew to Florida Friday to go to the house of my sister Nan and be present at my niece Grace’s bridal shower. Here they are some few years ago when Grace was a little on the bald side.

When she first invited me she said she knew I couldn’t come. Fly 1200 miles to see a roomful of ladies cheering in the dismantling of gift wrap? No one expected that of me.

But the minute I heard about it I knew I wanted to be there. I didn’t say so but I knew. ‘Maybe, just maybe, I’ll surprise this godchild of mine.

Then, eight days ago Grace texted me to say a quick hi. “I so wish you were going to be there” is how she ended it.

I couldn’t help myself. “Oh Gracie I am going to be there! ” I texted back. “I booked my flight the second I heard about it and even got a good price! At $237 round trip Boston to Tampa how could I NOT come?”

So much for surprising her. “We’ll surprise Nan,” we decided, but really there was never any surprising Nan, somehow, who has been three steps ahead of me all my life.

But the point wasn’t for ME to be the event anyway. The shower was the event and I’m so glad I came for it. The guests on the bride’s side and the groom’s side seemed to instantly bond and share stories both funny and sad, the way women do when they’re alone together. I am so glad I was there.

And now it’s Sunday morning and I’m packing up for the airport. I stayed at the Tarpon Springs Hampton Inn, not to be in the way, and I rented the car that in 30 minutes will take me to the airport and then back to my own near-and-dears who I texted someplace in there yesterday, suggesting we all go swimming at the local pool one last time when my flight gets in. They went for it but we might all be crazy given the cool front that’s just blowing in up there.

Anyhow all that lies in the future. As for right now which is the only moment we ever really have, I am feeling happy and grateful and stunned by the glory of a brand new day.


Jumping the Fence

IMG_2029We were like a couple of second-story men backing down the driveway of this empty house.No one was home and we knew that. “This won’t take long,” we told each other, stepping out of the vehicle.

But not 30 seconds after we opened the van’s rear gate, a muscular woman with short curly hair from the house behind this one shot out of her back door and began trotting toward the chest-high chain link fence that separated her yard from this one.  Then, without so much as a pause for breath, she placed two hands on its forbiddingly spiky top, gave herself a boost and vaulted over it.

 “Hey!” she called, striding toward us.  Talk about your neighborhood watch! was all I could think.

As it turned out though, she wasn’t there to challenge us; she was there to help us. And we weren’t there to take stuff away from this empty house but rather to bring stuff into it. The door off the back deck had even been left open for us.

 The muscular woman must have seen that at once, taken a long look at these two old Boomers and thought, “These two sure need help!

 “We’re the Marottas,” I said, pointing to the empty house. “We’re his godparents.”

 “Name’s Maura,” she said, quickly extending a hand. Then, just as quickly, she brushed me aside and took one end of the Queen Ann Sofa we had begun pulling from the van.

 I glanced back toward her house and saw a second woman who looked to be in her early 70s also approaching the fence. She wore a sleeveless blouse and Bermuda shorts and held in one hand the longest cigarette I think I have ever seen.

 We too exchanged names.

 “That’s my daughter,” she said, lifting her chin to indicate our muscular helper, who, together with my spouse, was now carrying the couch up onto the deck of the empty house.

 “She just jumped over this fence!” I told her.

 “She’s been doin’ that for the 40 years now.”

 And so, while the two lifters tipped and tilted the sofa, trying to get it into the house, the two of us chatted.

 “She’s an electrician,” she said.

 “No kidding?”

 “Uh huh. Like her dad is  – or was, I should say.  He passed three years ago.”

 “Oh, I’m sorry,” said.

 She nodded, looked away for a minute. “Yep, not one but TWO electricians right in one family.”

 “The  International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers!” I said, rather foolishly I fear.

 But “You know it!” she said. “And don’t I thank God every night for Local 103! They took care of me.”

 We both looked toward the house, at the precise moment the two lifters were concluding that this sofa was definitely NOT going to fit through the door.

But just then, lucky for us all, our godson materialized on the back steps, home early from work.

 “Well, I’m the one who put this door on,” he smiled. “I guess I can take it off too.”

 And he went to get his tools.

 “You guys got this? If you’ve got this, I’ll take off,” said Maura. “I’m playin’ in a softball game a few towns over.”

 She gave a kind salute, waved to her mom at the fence and was gone, almost before we could thank her.

 And ten minutes later, a Queen Anne sofa, two tables and a dozen boxes were inside the house, everyone had said their goodbyes and this little stage was empty of players, leaving us with the fresh reminder of what good neighbors really are.


Afternoon Delight

dragonflies matingI worked at my keyboard for three straight hours each day of this vacation,  but then I did nothing.

By nothing I mean I sat on the deck and read my book called Titan, the new biography of John D. Rockefeller with his long skinny face. (I’m just on page 21 of its 800 pages but it’s a start!)

I read this for an hour sitting up. Then I turned over onto on my stomach and read some more, now on the fully collapsed lawn chair with the book on the floorboards beneath me. 

Then I fell asleep for 90 minutes.

On waking, I made a tuna sandwich without the bread or mayo which is a little like eating salty sawdust but never mind.  

I also made a protein shake using as its base 8 ounces of strong coffee, a cup of ice cubes, a scoop of  chocolate flavored protein and two  and a packets of Truvia, the natural non-caloric non-sugar that would put a smile on the face of dead man.

THEN I went back out to my lawn chair on the deck and read  some more  on my Kindle this time, that old sob story of a novel The Prince of Tides by by Pat at Conroy, made into a movie starring Blythe Danner, Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand. I have read both this book before, which vacation is for. 🙂

It’s true that since last Sunday I have I logged in about 25 hours of work for the organization that lately claims all my heart and many of my waking hours, but really I mostly just walked a little and looked out at the water.

Around noon yesterday, a ruckus broke out on the deck next, like the sound of  a tiny helicopter crashing. I looked down and behold: it was two tiny helicopters crashing:  Two dragonflies, mating.

The sight of them brought to mind the e.e. cummings poem I so I loved in high school about what a fine thing it is  when two creatures mate on your premises. These dragonflies whirred and fluttered and remained locked together for four or five minutes before the male flew off, leaving the female still and dazed.

I have felt that way too this week: Still and dazed. It’s my one week off in the summer and I’m making the most of it. My man is outside for five of our 16 waking hours every day working,working, working on his ministry of weeding and when he comes inside in the world’s filthiest T-shirts and dirt in his teeth I can see he is one happy man. I’m happy too.  Once in a while I guess we all just need change of pace.

And here’s e.e. cummings from a different poem, speaking for me again:

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.

sweatshirt, railing and wee  weeding man
a sweatshirt, a railing and a wee weeding man bending over his trash can. (I’ll take the 800 page book ;-))