Here is your assignment.

August 30, 2013 § 8 Comments

A glass of ice water.My favorite aspect of modern life is the easy availability of a tall glass of ice water.

You may cast your vote for other advances.

Like TVs that don’t go to a test pattern at night.

Or the companionship of the unblinking bright eyes of appliances ready 24/7 to heat a burrito or send a fax.

Or the always-there-for-you friends who inhabit a virtual cloud, one that will never take the shape of a turtle, or Pegasus, or Grandma Moses.

Still, for me those accomplishments pale beside that glass of ice water, sweaty with condensation on a hot summer day, the kind of day that causes you to sweat too, and check out the Grandma Moses clouds overhead for the possibility of a cooling shower.

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Now and then.

August 24, 2013 § 9 Comments

Everything in the moment called “now” is in flux. Coming or going. Becoming something new. Now is a kaleidoscope.

But then—the then of memory—is safely static. If memories change over time it is only to become more so–more happy or sad–as they develop the patina gained from frequent handling.

My mother at the breakfast table.I had a happy childhood, a happy adult life. My memories are good.

Bad things happened, sure, but, like old tax returns, I stash those memories in a bottom drawer. I choose the ones I put on the mantle.

My sister, in the “family medical history” part of a checkup, once told her doctor how healthy our family was.

Except for the heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes.

And, well, the cancer.

We are a healthy family. We just prefer our list to the one the doctor wanted.

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Away message.

August 14, 2013 § 3 Comments

Just for now, set it down.

Set it down and walk away.

Don’t look back over your shoulder.

Let the miles between unspool like line off a reel.

Don’t pack it in your suitcase.

Sit on the bag, it would still be hard to close.

Too heavy to carry.

Travel light.

No one knows you where you are going.

No need to impress.

No need to push ahead of you the unweildy facade

of your day-to-day importance.

Set it down, just for now.

Expand and rise like the warm summer air.

And come down soft,

as modest as rain.

Note: I write this on a borrowed computer at a table in the Berkshires. It is blue here and cool, and I am on vacation!

How the cool girls walk.

August 6, 2013 § 5 Comments

We had just pulled into our new driveway when she pedaled up on a bike called “The Pink Lady.”

Debbie, the preteen moving-van-chaser, jumped off the bike, ready to welcome us to West Windsor.

And to set my sister, Claudia, and me straight.

“This is how the cool girls walk,” she said, demonstrating, right there in the driveway.

The hip wiggle was a given—we knew about that. As she walked that wiggle down the driveway, it was the way she held her right hand that intrigued us. Arm bent at the elbow, the hand dangled as if she expected someone to kiss it.

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Pointing the car north.

August 1, 2013 § 13 Comments

In my sister's garden.One whiff and we know the tent is musty.

It hasn’t been out of that olive drab bag since last August when we camped our way north to my sister’s place in Stockbridge, Mass.

And now it is August again, time to air out the tent, then turn North, toward the part of the country that was my childhood home. Time to see the kids who shared that childhood.

My little brother, Chris, is retired now. My sister, Claudia, wishes she were.

The generation that spilled from ours will wander in as their increasingly adult schedules allow. Who can keep straight when everyone will arrive? But once again this year, almost miraculously, everyone will be there.

As if someone has yelled, “Ally ally in free,” we will tumble in the front door of Claudia’s kitchen, hug each other, smile and the rituals will begin. « Read the rest of this entry »

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