Friday, February 24, 2017


I’ve always loved this painting.
It was in my grandfather’s house; my father remembered it hanging in his bedroom when he was growing up. At some point, my father inherited it from his parents, and I from him.
It’s on the west wall of my guest bedroom; the light yellow walls pick up the soft greens and yellows and browns of the grasses and fall leaves; the mountains rise high in the background—strong gray and blue under a pale sky.
I’m pretty sure it’s someplace in New Hampshire—the mountains look right to me (for those of you who don’t know, the mountains in New Hampshire have a particular shape and heft, a sense of self that’s unmistakable).

Elizabeth Della Richardson was born in (English) Canada in 1887; by 1910, she was a naturalized citizen, married to my great-great uncle Melvin W. Gould, Jr. living in Manchester, NH, first in a rented house, but soon in a house they owned on Maple Street. Elizabeth’s mother, a widow, lived with them.
Melvin was a foreman in a shoe factory—a good job for a man who had only one year of high school education; Elizabeth, a college graduate, was “at home.”
And while “at home,” she painted.


Saturday, February 11, 2017


Found this photo the other day; it took me by surprise!
          It also took me back fifty years…

Look at all those shells!

It must have been the 1960s – in my hippie days, when Vietnam was raging, the civil rights movement was on the rise, and I was idealistic enough to believe that my generation could put an end to all that horrific injustice and inequality by embracing values of love and peace, of inclusiveness and acceptance.

Just look at it!
A peace sign (for those of you not old enough to remember that symbol).
I had a pair of Peace earrings that I wore occasionally – they were too heavy to wear every day; I gave an old boyfriend a silver Peace medallion – he wore it around his neck on a silver chain; when I was living on the farm, we had a Jersey cow so sweet and gentle that we riveted a leather Peace sign to her collar – when she died, we nailed it (collar and all) to a maple in the eastern tree line where she used to stand in the shade on hot summer days.

As I said, I was idealistic then.
But not any more.
          I’m older now, a shade wiser, and I understand that everything I have fought for in the last fifty years is on very shaky ground.
I am struggling to maintain my balance in a country I cannot recognize as my own, a country where the ideals of equality, justice, and working for the common good have been abandoned to sustain the financial and personal gain of the very few.

It’s an empty place, an empty shell.


Saturday, February 4, 2017


There are bookcases in my living room—an upper level of five shelves that go up to the ceiling stacked over a lower level of countertop with shelves underneath. The bottom section has matching latticed doors that I keep shuttered at all times because it’s always incredibly messy in there.
Every so often, I open the doors and clean things up. I sort through photos, jigsaw puzzles, board games, old packs of cards, books that are too big to stack on the upper shelves, old records, etc. I pack things to donate to charity, shove others in trash bags to hit the curb on collection day; I also end up putting things back into the cupboards—things I’m just not ready to part with yet.

I stumbled across my 1966 college yearbook the other day.
I poured a cup of coffee and thumbed through: page after page of young women who looked remarkably alike…page boy hairstyles, knee-high socks, plaid skirts, wool sweaters, Peter Pan collars and the occasional turtleneck.
We weren’t quite “Barbies,” but it was mighty close!

I digress.
Anyway, as I was looking through the photos, I noticed that the school photographer had taken all our class group photos on stairways—page after page of sequences of young women posed (alphabetically, by surname; we’re of so little importance that we don’t even have first names) on stairways, one after the other, all lined up like little Stepford Wives, hands on the railing.
We are all the same.

The caption reads: D. Gould, W. Gillingham, E. Grant, L. Goldey, D. Gannet, N. Glesmann, K. Gardner, C. Givens.

And there I am, at twenty years old, standing on the bottom step.

 I am so young that it makes me ache...