Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Sixty Years ago today the world changed

 I was nine years old when President Kennedy was assassinated.  It was one of those moments that you remember- where you were and what you were doing.   My dad and I were both sick.  He stayed home from work and I stayed home from school.  We were watching TV when Walter Cronkite came on the air, holding back tears as he announced that President Kennedy had died.   

Even as young as I was, I knew immediately the feelings of shock, disbelief and horror.

Living in the Washington, DC area, my family and I went Downtown to witness the funeral parade.

A Nation of Eyewitnesses to J.F.K.’s Assassination

How it feels—and what it means—to watch a President slain on TV.
People sitting in a bus reading newspapers.
Photograph by Carl Mydans / The LIFE Picture Collection / Shutterstock

It was as if we slept from Friday to Monday and dreamed an oppressive, unsearchably significant dream, which, we discovered on awaking, millions of others had dreamed also. Furniture, family, the streets, and the sky dissolved; only the dream on television was real. The faces of the world’s great mingled with the faces of landladies who had happened to house an unhappy ex-Marine; cathedrals alternated with warehouses, temples of government with suburban garages; anonymous men tugged at a casket in a glaring airport; a murder was committed before our eyes; a Dallas strip-tease artist drawled amiably of her employer’s quick temper; the heads of state of the Western world strode down a sunlit street like a grim village rabble; and Jacqueline Kennedy became Persephone, the Queen of Hades and the beautiful bride of grief. All human possibilities, of magnificence and courage, of meanness and confusion, seemed to find an image in this long montage, and a stack of cardboard boxes in Dallas, a tawdry movie house, a tiny rented room where some shaving cream still clung to the underside of a washbasin, a row of parking meters that had witnessed a panicked flight all acquired the opaque and dreadful importance that innocent objects acquire in nightmares.

What did it mean? Can we hope for a meaning? “It’s the fashion to hate people in the United States.” This quotation might be from one of a hundred admonitory sermons delivered after President Kennedy’s death. In actuality, it occurs in an interview granted in 1959 to a United Press reporter, Aline Mosby, by a young American defector then living in Moscow, Lee Harvey Oswald. The presumed assassin did not seem to be a violent man. “He was too quiet, too reserved,” his ex-landlord told reporters. “He certainly had the intelligence and he looked like he could be efficient at doing almost anything.” In his room, the police found a map on which was marked the precise path that three bullets in fact took. The mind that might have unlocked this puzzle of perfectly aimed, perfectly aimless murder has been itself forever sealed by murder. The second assassination augmented the first, expanded our sense of floating on a dark sea of potential violence. In these cruel events, democracy seemed caricatured; a gun voted, and a drab Dallas neighborhood was hoisted into history. None of our country’s four slain Presidents were victims of any distinct idea of opposition or hope of gain; they were sacrificed, rather, to the blind tides of criminality and insanity that make civilization precarious. Between Friday and Monday, three men died: a President, a policeman, and a prisoner. May their deaths be symbols, clues to our deep unease, and omens we heed.

The dream began to lift at the sight, on television, of President Johnson giving his broad and friendly handshake, with exquisite modulations of political warmth, to the line of foreign dignitaries who had come to Washington as mourners. Reality was knitting itself together. The sanity of daylight has returned, but the dissipated dream should not be forgotten; it must be memorized and analyzed. We pray we do not fall into such a sleep again. ♦

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

It's almost Thanksgiving

 So many thoughts going through my mind that I seem to just skip writing because I don't know where to start.

The other day, when I got up and took Buddy outside, it was cool and windy and I thought about how beautiful the fall leaves are.  Even as they are blowing off the trees, they are something to admire and enjoy.

It's the time of the year when I get all confused about what I feel.  I have dreaded this time of year.  Not because of the shorter days and the cold weather.  But because there are so many events to figure out. Obligations to family and self.   

None of the kids live with us any more.  They live all over the place.  None of them are coming home to our house for Thanksgiving this year.  we are driving to North Carolina (with Buddy) to have Thanksgiving with Darcy and Jody and much of Jody's family.   I am taking along some gluten free things- stuffing and pies.  

We have had so many Thanksgivings together, Nick and I.   We usually would go to Nick's parent's house, or my mom's place.  And later we had family to our house.  In laws, parents, kids, cousins (the kid's cousins not mine).   It could be busy, messy and chaotic.  And I loved it!

Christmas has always been more complicated.  What to get for who.  There were the years when we were in the States, and Nick would go to Toys R Us for some midnight shopping.  He would get some fun stuff for the kids.  I was more practical, giving underwear and socks.  Some clothes and books.   Our Christmas mornings were fun.  

We have a system that stared I guess when the kids were old enough to understand and occasionally take directions.  The gifts were opened one and a time. from the youngest to the oldest.   Then the kids (and maybe me) would throw the wrapping paper at Nick- as he held the big trash bag.

I like to think that our kids enjoyed their Christmases growing up.   I often tell people that our best holiday seasons were when we were overseas.   Depending on where we lived and what the social life was, we didn't feel the rush to visit this and that grandparent.  No hurt feelings.  

I guess a lot of these feeling I have start with Halloween.  I have written about this before.  I always made the kids' Halloween costumes.  Every year.  I was so busy sewing and first getting idea from the kids of what they wanted to be.  It was so much work.  But so much love went into all of that sewing.   I know at times I felt overwhelmed, but I never resented it.

The relationships with adult children are so different and complicated than when they were younger.  We had to have enough food in the house for lunches and for all the meals we ate at the kitchen table.  I don't really remember a lot of complaining at the table .  We tried to have a system in which each kid got to choose the dinner meal for one days of the week.  I remember having a calendar on the refrigerator door with the meals for the week or month.  I don't remember.   

And Nick and I.  I somehow don't think of us as "old".  But then I look at pictures of us with the kids when they were young and we were sure a lot younger then too.

I feel more fragile than I once did.  The other day I saw a young person running down a staircase, almost hopping from one step to the next.  And I thought about how I used to be able to do that.   now I hold tight to the banister and go slow.  And I know I will get more fragile and feel more fragile.

We have an under the bed storage box with wrapping paper in it.   I tried to bend down to see if it was there.  I kind of thought I could see it.  So I got down on my knees (ouch) and then flattened myself even further down so I could reach under the bed to pull it out.   And as I lay on the floor, fishing the box of wrapping paper out from under the bed, I wondered how I was going to get back up.  Or if I would even be able to.  Nick was out and I was home alone.  And I did not have a phone near me.

Obviously I did get up off the floor and eventually a standing position.  But wow, if you had told me 20 or 30 years ago that this would be how I am doing now, I don't think I would have paid attention.  I probably would have just let the words fly through the air not even touching my consciousness.

So now to bed.   Baking in a couple of days.  And sharing a meal and giving thanks for the people we love and care about.




Tuesday, November 7, 2023


 Nick and I voted today.  We voted for state and regional people and it looks like there have been some good outcomes.   It always feels good to vote.   Austin voted in Maine as well which makes me happy.  He sent me a picture of his "I voted" sticker.

I have never figured out how to space the pictures I post here and my writing.  Oh well!

Austin and Chance were both here for a few days.  Austin longer than Chance.  Both of their cats were here too, enjoying being cared for by their "grandparents".

Both boys left yesterday.  Chance left after Austin did and got home earlier.  Of course Chance lives pretty close and Austin lives way far away.  I love that both of them texted me to let me know that they got home safely.   

Austin said that Molly was really happy to be home in her own house!

I started the Mayo Clinic Diet plan.  It's a great plan, but I am finding it a bit challenging. I have to shop for the foods that I need in order to eat exactly what is on the plan.  It was almost impossible when the boys were here, but it's easier now.  I am really trying!

This morning, Austin texted me from Maine to tell me that his CO (carbon monoxide) alarm had gone off and he was not able to find Molly (his cat).   In a while he let me know that he had found the cat and he and Molly were sitting in the car.  The windows in the house were all opened in case there was a gas leak.   I was able to find a non-emergency phone number for the Warren, Maine fire department.   They sent someone to Austin's  house. It was determined that the alarm was defective.  Austin went out and bought a couple of new alarms for his house.  Phew!

 Tomorrow I plan to visit my dear friend Shannon.  I have not visited her for way too long. She is bedridden due to her cancer causing damage to her spine.    I wish she lived closer!


Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Happy News

 Darcy and Jody have been working up to having a baby VIA IVF.     It looks like it "took", so if all goes well we will have a grandchild sometime in the summer of 2024

Sunday, October 29, 2023


 The other day I went to help a mom with breastfeeding.  Somehow it made me melancholy.  Not the mom and her baby.  It just got me feeling lonely and feeling like I don't have any friends.

I have friends of course, but, aside from my sister and husband I don't do much fun stuff with friends.  Not sure if that even makes sense.  When the kids were little and dependent on me, we did things with other moms who also had little kids.   I had playgroups in many of the places we lived overseas.   

I miss that.  Not so much the chasing little kid part, although it was pretty nice most of the time.  I just mean sitting around with other women and solving the world's problems.

When we lived in Perth, all of the kids were school aged and I was not so up to my neck kids all the time.  But I did have women friends.  I was a room mum.  We had a weekly stitch and bitch.  I was in the Ladies Auxiliary at the kid's school.   I felt like I had a social life.

Now, we are retired.  The women who raised their kids side by side with me are all  off doing their thing.   Many if not most are grandmothers now.   I am feel left out and lonely.   

I spend too much time online.  Facebook mostly and emails.    (not sure what constitutes too much time).  

Then a lovely thing happened the other day.  I shared a post about parenting.  I cannot remember exactly - something about how we have made it through the hard part and now we re parents to these neat adults.

Well, a long time friend commented this: 

"you were mom mentor way back in the day. After I had one too many psycho moments in a day you suggested just start a journal and sell it to your kids when they are adults. Tell them it will save them the cost of therapy ( and help fund my retirement - my addition!) Seriously though you helped remind me that motherhood is hard work and we aren't going to proud of every step but we have years to work on the overall result. Thanks so much for mentoring and encouraging me"

 That made my day and reminded me that I am still a friend to many and I have many friends.   

My life has intersected with so many people.  Moms and babies who have been friends, or just someone that I was able to help and encourage about mothering and breastfeeding.

Yeah, that's what's important.

Sunday, October 15, 2023



This orchid was given to me in 2014 for my first brain surgery


 When I turned 50, my mother had died just a few weeks earlier.   I graduated from college at 50.  And I celebrated 25 years as a La Leche League Leader

 As I approached my 60th birthday, I pondered what being in my 60s wold be like.  Then I was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  When I was 60, I had brain surgery.

Now I am pondering my next birthday.  It's not for another seven months, but, in May I will be 70.  I never considered that one day I would be 70.    I know, considering the alternative I am doing well.   But I see mortality looming.   Who knows, I could live another 30 years.  But I doubt it.  Thirty years ago when I was 40, I had a houseful of kids and a busy life and schedule.    And now I have a fairly empty house.  Two of us and Buddy our dog and for the moment, Molly, Austin's cat.

The calendar used to be so full of all of the activities.  Even up until the pandemic I think I was relatively active.  Not as much as when we had a houseful of kids, but busy enough. Then the pandemic came and our calendar on the wall was empty.  Vacant.   We isolated ourselves.

And now, the calendar is filling up with medical appointments.  I guess that's what happens.  



So busy with a full house!

Friday, September 29, 2023

In honor of the wonder of life and death


A child said, What is the grass?

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full
How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it
is any more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful
green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we
may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . .the produced babe
of the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the
same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them;
It may be you are from old people and from women, and
from offspring taken soon out of their mother's laps,
And here you are the mother's laps.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.

O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues!
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths
for nothing.

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men
and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring
taken soon out of their laps.

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
What do you think has become of the women and

They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait
at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.

All goes onward and outward. . . .and nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and
Walt WHitman