Saturday, November 29, 2014


We got hammered, as we say, on Thanksgiving Eve; heavy, wet snow and high winds, which resulted in downed tree limbs and electrical outages.
          I pinned a blanket over the door to my living room and spent the long evening in the kitchen/dining room, keeping the temperature in there at 65 degrees (thanks to my little gas fireplace), playing solitaire by kerosene lamp. I slept in my cold guest room underneath my best down comforter, and was toasty all night.

On Thanksgiving morning, I awoke to wonderland – this is the view from my back porch!
          Still no electricity, but my morning paper had been delivered (these are some of the people who deserve standing ovations). I boiled water on the stove and managed a cup of coffee, then sat at the table in brilliant sunshine under a strong blue sky. Read the paper.

There was an editorial about Maine’s antiquated “blue laws” (old laws prohibiting business on national holidays, originally established in an effort to enforce the sabbath); the writer was defending Maine’s tradition of upholding those laws—preventing that horrible “Black Friday” shopping frenzy that overcomes most of the United States.
          But in that editorial, the writer called Thanksgiving our “best holiday, in part because people can celebrate it anyway (sic) they like.”*

I lowered the paper to the table, sipped coffee, thought about it.

In this country, people can celebrate every holiday any way they like—they can even chose not to celebrate holidays at all—and that’s an option for which I am truly thankful.

*Editorial. “Black Friday can wait! Thanksgiving is worth it.” Portland Press Herald (Portland, Maine) 27 November 2014. Print.

Friday, November 21, 2014


There’s something about kids and dogs, I think, that appeals to photographers; something that speaks of the sweetness of childhood, of unconditional love.

Here we are, my brother and I, with our first family dog. I don’t remember the photographer, but the backdrop suggests it was a formal affair, probably in Boston someplace in the late 1940s.

His name was Ferdinand, and he belonged to my mother; he was a college graduation gift from her parents in 1941.
He was named for a bull in a storybook my mother had loved—a bull who wasn’t very “bullish,” which is to say that he spent his afternoons lying down in Farmer Brown’s field sniffing the wildflowers.

My father, who was a lifelong dog lover, told us that the only reason he married our mother was to get her dog—an excellent reason to marry, he said.
          We believed him.

When I was about five years old, we moved from Boston to Portland, Maine.
Ferdinand came with us, of course, and settled in the neighborhood. We lived near a private school playground, and Ferd spent recess there every day, playing with the children: dodgeball, catch, tag; he was such a part of the community that the kids would knock on our back door to ask if he could come outside!
Summers he spent with us at our grandparents’ summer home, near a lake at the foot of Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire, swimming, chasing squirrels and chipmunks, sleeping in our beds.
He loved car rides, walks, and Oreos.

When it came time for him to take his Last Ride, my father, teary-eyed, lured him out of the house with Oreos, one after the other, talked him down the walkway to the Ford; he lifted him into the front passenger seat, got behind the wheel and drove Ferdie away... was a long, long time before we ate Oreos in my house again!

Saturday, November 1, 2014


When I saw the Sepia Saturday prompt photo of several portly gentlemen filling their plates in a buffet line (all smiling over a buffet table groaning with delicious offerings) dressed in suit jackets, neckties and, of course, nametags, I was reminded of a wedding reception I attended years and years ago.

It was one of those perfect summer days here in Maine: warm, blue skies, sunshine, slight breeze. The gathering was beneath a striped marquee pitched in a field overlooking a quiet cove; people strolled down to the reception from the road by way of a mown pathway through thousands of blooming wildflowers; everybody was in linen and silk, dribbed and drabbed in gold and silver and pearls.
It was, indeed, a high affair!

It was one of those “blended family” things—everybody’s parents seemed to have been married more than once, so there were ex-wives and partners, divorcees and stepfathers, half-siblings and step-siblings, an occasional stray cousin a few times removed; there were also about two hundred friends.
          It was a huge wedding reception!

We all wore name tags, which was bad enough, in my opinion (whatever happened to simply introducing yourself to people you don’t know?), but compounding the issue was the fact that everybody’s name tag carried an explanation that clarified one’s relationship to either the bride or the groom:
          Bride’s brother
          Groom’s first cousin
          Groom’s college roommate
 You get the idea.

Everybody spent the afternoon navigating a drink and a small plateful of tastefully served hors d’oeuvres, staring at each other’s chests and mentally leaping through branches of various family trees...and the winner was:

My Name Is

Bride’s mother’s third husband’s second child