Something as Small as Breakfast

There were real bagels for breakfast this morning.

Yesterday, my older son and I ventured off-island to run some errands. We are still living with stay-at-home orders, but grocers, hardware stores, and takeaway food shops are open with capacity restrictions. That meant my son had to stand out social distancing in the rain for a while, but the lines moved fairly quickly, and the precipitation was light.

Cheap coffee,
endless refills

Going out to breakfast is one of my favorite things. That might seem strange for someone who is not a morning person. But the act of getting up and getting out of the house with purpose, dressed and ready to start the day somewhere other than an office is really gratifying and definitely improves my attitude about the day. One of my favorite breakfast places re-opened for the season a week or so ago, but like everywhere else, it’s just takeaway for now. It’s not the same. I miss sitting at a table with a view of the marsh (and an occasional osprey) with my hands curled comfortably around a diner-sized mug of coffee, listening to my family’s banter and scanning the room for people I know. I miss overhearing the conversations of others in the tight, warm spaces where people gather.

It is Day 42 of social isolation – or thereabouts. We’ve learned that the High School will not open back up for the remainder of the year. Both boys are doing their school work online, but they’d much rather just sleep and play video games. My husband works for a company that makes a component of COVID-19 testing kits, so they are getting slammed with demand. Even on his days off, he is working. Planning meals the four of us will eat has been the biggest challenge. I am tired of takeout pizza.

I am doing reasonably well, and although my energy levels continue to be a challenge, I find I have been getting more done lately. Most of it is small stuff; a finished essay, or some decluttering. I have been able to finish a couple of books in spite of the difficulty concentrating. I’ve been trying to clear off the desk my husband has commandeered for when he works at home on his supposed days off. I haven’t used it in at least six months, so it collected a lot of junk. The whole guest room space needs this treatment, but I just look at the piles of stuff left there by various people in this house and get overwhelmed.

I’m not sure what accounts for the small rise in productivity I’m seeing, but I welcome it. It could be the extra daylight, or the warmth (though it is still that damp kind of cold here a lot in the Spring). Maybe I’ve reached the “Acceptance” stage of grief. It’s hard to say. True to my nature, I’m still anxious about what comes after.

Apart from his mishandling of the pandemic crisis, the Trump regime’s destruction of out country continues apace. Assuming we even have an election in the Fall, there will be a massive rebuilding effort needed to address the economy and decades of unequal opportunity. Health permitting, I’d want to be a part of that in some way. I just don’t know what I can contribute at this point. I keep turning in over in my mind, hoping the answer will come to me and that it will be something I can have some success with. I am desperately in need of a win.

In the meantime, I am immersing myself in a completely different era. I started looking into some of the history of the town my grandparents grew up in. I’m focused on the 1920s right now because of a rumor that my grandfather did a little rum running during Prohibition. My mother vehemently denies this, but it would have been way before she was born. It may be nothing. We are Irish. Family lore and reality sometimes part ways.

It turns out that there was a substantial rum running operating in New Haven at the time. I’m looking into that, but I also stumbled upon the society pages of my grand parents’ hometown. They were not the families at the beach cottages chronicled in the archives; my grandfather worked on a farm before he went to Wall Street, and my grandmother’s father was a pastor of some kind. Still, I’m enjoying the trip back in time.

Clipping from the Branford Scrapbooks – New Haven Register 1920

I’ve been going through the Branford Scrapbooks, as the social pages were apparently called. The positive and chatty tone is comforting.

Hotchkiss Grove was one neighborhood of Branford. Here it is described decades before my grandparents moved back to the town from New Jersey some time in the mid 1960s.

My primary interest is in a hotel with a storied past. My mother worked there for a summer in the late 50s. It has since burned down and been replaced by private homes.

Family · Life on the Island · Uncategorized

At Easter

This is a strange time of year for a non-believer in the best of times.

Through social media I watch Jewish friends prepare for a Passover ritual I am intrigued by, but don’t entirely understand. People who were raised in traditions closer to my own might greet each other Sunday with “He is Risen!” Only this year it will be posts on social media instead of exclamations in church. This is not a greeting I grew up with, but religious rituals evolve; much like Catholics holding hands across the congregation during the Lord’s prayer. I didn’t grow up with this, I encountered the practice at my mother-in-law’s church. Catholics did this for a few years until someone in the hierarchy decided it was putting too much emphasis on human instead of god. It was a tradition until it wasn’t.

I was well into adulthood before I fully grasped what the Easter story was asking us to believe. It’s not that I hadn’t been paying attention during all those years of CCD and Catholic School. I remember a Good Friday one year looking out the window to see if the sky got dark at 3:00 PM like one of my teachers said it would to mark the time when Jesus died. Perhaps I was just in the wrong time zone, I don’t think there was even a cloud that day.

When you are a child, you tend to absorb what is taught to you uncritically. So much of the world is a mystery when you are learning, that it doesn’t much matter if the explanations are fact- or faith-based. Hopefully, that comes later.

As a family, our participation in the rituals of Lent and Easter were pretty superficial. As Northerners there was no Mardi Gras for us. The day before Ash Wednesday was hardly mentioned at all, but occasionally it was referred to as “Shrove” or Fat Tuesday. Shroves are like pancakes, which I believe we had once at school.

I don’t know how well I played along with the expectation of “giving up” something for Lent. There were never a lot of sweets in the house so they were not around to be sacrificed. By then no meat at Lent had been reduced to no meat on Fridays and so began a month and a half of (homemade) macaroni and cheese or tuna fish for Friday dinners. It didn’t feel like a sacrifice, just a rule.

Surprise baskets I was able to order from a local chocolatier.

All day I’ve been thinking about childhood Easters at my cousins’ in New Canaan. In southern CT, it was usually decently warm at Easter and we could be outside before or after the meal. My cousins had something we did not – they lived in a cul-de-sac neighborhood full of other families and kids to play with.

If it was cold or raining, we would play in their basement, pretending god knows what with my uncle’s large collection of empty beer cans. Foster’s, it seems, has always looked like a large can of motor oil. There were no video games, but lots of active imaginations.

There are other images from those days, my aunt’s delicate shamrock china with the gold trim, that I believe had once belonged to my grandmother – or at least my grandfather bought it. I can’t imagine my grandmother asking for it. He was the Irish one, and if it was in the Shannon catalog, it probably found a way into their home through him.

For many years there was an ancient, bright blue Volvo in the driveway. I remember a passing conversation with one of my cousins about music we liked, I can’t remember whether he mentioned “Cruel to be Kind” or “Games People Play.” It was one of those two. I might have talked about “Heaven on the Seventh Floor,” not having any idea of the implications, and today, not even sure the timeline is right. My cousins were a lot less sheltered than I was and their stories were a lot more interesting.

After dinner there was often a cutthroat game of hearts that the adults would play, and eventually we would be old enough to understand and join. It was very competitive. The triumph of trump cards was boisterous compared to the rather subdued celebration of success on the Scrabble board at my grandmother’s.

Today’s celebration was very simple, just my husband and I and our two grown (!) sons. No matter what the holiday though, there is a part of me that is not the adult pulling it all together, but an 11- or 12-year old who misses the ritual of visiting people important to me.

Community · Family · Health Care · Life on the Island · Uncategorized

Sparkling Isolation

I can’t watch pandemic movies even in the best of times. There’s something deeply frightening about germs you can’t see, can’t control, that ramps up all of my anxieties, even in fiction. Now we have a real pandemic at our doorstep, and life as we know it is changing rapidly. I’ll admit it, I’m scared.

I’m in a high risk category for contracting COVID-19. Self-isolation isn’t a big deal for me because I have always been something of a hermit. I’ve been at home, largely alone, since getting laid off and then being besieged with health problems. Even before that I was working at home a lot. Being stuck at home doesn’t bother me, though it feels a little paradoxical to be trying to outrun something while staying in one place.

About a month ago I finished watching HBO’s Chernobyl. I started it when it was first released, but I had to stop because I found the constant lying by the characters to be deeply disturbing. The impulse to lie and deny reached from the operators in the plant to the highest party officials trying to keep the severity of the accident secret from the rest of the world. This is where we are now.

Our so-called leaders lied to us and refused to prepare for the severity of what was coming at us. They had intelligence that told them what to expect. They chose to profit from that information over saving lives. Because of their inaction, testing is still being rationed as of this writing. The nation is short of ventilators needed to treat patients. GM CEO Mary Barra and others have offered to convert idle plants to the production of ventilators to cover the shortage in the same way that automakers retooled during WWII. Trump has not taken them up on their offer, but GM appears to be going forward anyway.

I am not listening to Trump’s daily briefings. He continues to lie, makes things up as he goes along, contradicts experts, and conceals much of the reality of the situation. He is not a leader. Listening to him during this crisis is bad for people’s mental health. His misinformation is dangerous. At home all day, I can’t help but be barraged with information on social media. Fact checks of Trump, complaints about shortages, stories of people being denied testing, concerns about people’s jobs and businesses, and so on. I try to limit myself.

From HBO’s Chernobyl

As a nation, we haven’t gone through anything like this in 100 years. The closest things might be a presidential assassination, the Challenger accident, or 9/11; moments when, however briefly, we paused, mourned, and stood together in solidarity. It doesn’t feel like that’s happening this time, and not just because we are all supposed to be sequestered in our homes. The hoarding behavior, the refusal in some quarters to take social distancing seriously, the emphasis on the economy over public health, the suggestion that elders sacrifice themselves for the Dow; all exacerbate the “us vs. them” mentality that has dominated our society for the last several years. Divided, we fall.

There’s no question that the economy is going to be affected by self-isolation. I live in a small town that is dependent on travel and tourism dollars. Restaurants are closing, people are being laid off, the performing arts center has shut down, and inns don’t know whether they will have a summer season this year.

Where people can work from home, they are doing that, but there have also been millions of layoffs across the country already; many of them already living paycheck to paycheck. Not only are they now without a job, but many have also lost their health insurance.

At the same time, we are seeing families not able to visit with each other because of social isolation. Grandmothers are missing visits and hugs from their grandchildren. Work and school are being conducted remotely and people are learning more about their coworkers’ home lives when children and barking dogs can be heard in the background of conference calls.

People are talking about this “lockdown” as if it might last a month or so. I think it will be longer. I have no faith in the Trump regime to do the right thing on any front. The suffering of others seems to delight rather than concern him, and his or Pence’s ability to manage any coordinated national response is highly suspect. They have already wasted a significant amount of time. I can’t see them getting their act together in any way that moves us forward with confidence.

In the meantime, we wait. We declutter, or do puzzles; we bake and think about gardening when the weather gets warm. We make masks or we knit. We watch the news or avoid the news. We attempt to work, we attempt to homeschool. We dream about the first thing we’ll do when the lockdown is lifted. We try to stay positive, but there’s an existential dread hanging over us that we mostly don’t talk about, but that is more real now than when we talked about climate change. The disease moves fast, the numbers grow, and it won’t be long before we all know someone who has been affected.

Somewhere between the puzzles, and the Netflix binges, we will have plenty of time to take stock of the lives we’re living and what might come after. I wonder if this time away from our work, our routines, our expectations, and in some cases, our families will prompt an examination of why we do things the way we do. I wonder if the state of the economy when this is over will lead to major changes in the way we live and work. Or, will we be so eager to get back to “normal” that we will scramble blindly to reassert ourselves in a system that doesn’t work for most people in our country.

Community · Life on the Island · Uncategorized


I drove my younger son to work at a local market around 5:00 PM last night. Though the sun had officially set already, the sky remained light enough to not need the headlights for the fifteen minutes it took for me to get home. These little moments, long before Spring arrives, allow me a smile and a contented sigh.

How did we get to a place where January feels longer than any other month? Several have remarked upon it. There’s even a meme that I used last year complaining about it. Once again, this year we’re into February, a short month, and it feels like it will be smooth sailing until Spring.

It won’t be of course. Though we just had the warmest January on record, there is still plenty of winter left. We also have lots of experience with Spring snow. There’s the April Fools storm several years ago that people still talk about, and the year that it hardly snowed at all until March 10, my younger son’s birthday. He is my winter loving child and fort-worthy snow for his birthday was the very best gift.

Today, February 1, is Imbolc, a Celtic festival recognizing the midway point between winter solstice and the spring equinox. It is traditionally the beginning of the lambing season (don’t you want to go out to a farm and see lambs being born right now?) and a celebration of fertility. Because so much of Celtic tradition got subsumed into Catholic teaching and practice, it is also known as Candlemas, and St. Bridget’s Day. Of course there was no real St. Bridget, the name was borrowed from a Celtic goddess.

Mid-winter twilight, with moon.

I’d never really heard much about Imbolc until this year when I was suddenly seeing references to it all over social media. I wonder why that is. Are we reaching for signs of hope in these incredibly dark times? Is the growing disaffiliation with organized religion, or perhaps a greater awareness of climate change, causing us to seek a stronger connection with the natural world?

For me, I suppose it’s a combination of all three of these things. I am desperately seeking something hopeful and positive to focus on in this political climate. I am tired of watching the bad guys win; tired of losing hope. It’s not good for my health, either.

As I continue to search for a way to live my life in this new reality, the calming constant is nature, the sun, the circle of life things like lambing and looking for the new ducklings in Boston’s Public Garden every spring. I mark the days, mark the seasons with my observations; a probably half-assed form of mindfulness. I see time moving forward as I struggle not to lose any more ground.


Up For Air

True winter temps (below freezing, but not below 0º) coincided with a lingering respiratory infection over the past week. Thankfully, both seem to have subsided for now, making me feel as if my head has breached the surface of a very deep pond. I can breathe again, and I have the energy to attack things that I haven’t gotten to in several days.

Today that means a series of phone calls I have been putting off for too long; pursuing car repairs, medication, and a misplaced peacoat at the dry cleaner’s. The medication call takes a half an hour, while I start to make my request, they take my details, and then I get transferred to the “correct department” where I repeat my information EVERY SINGLE MONTH. No one can give me a direct line so I can save time and not have to repeat myself. For this foolishness, I am charged $250 a month for the generic version of my medication. No wonder I put it off for as long as possible.

I would like to see some study done of the toll on patients of having to deal with insurance companies, and its effect on patient outcomes. It has to be significant.

Both boys are back at school, so my days are once again full of driving. T is scheduled to get his license next month, so some of this may fall to him once he’s legal. We’ve discovered that the car he takes he test in must have a hand brake accessible from the passenger seat. Neither of our cars do, which means we’ll be renting a car for this purpose. More money out the window.

As I write this, there is a pack of coyotes howling and yipping nearby. It is their mating season and they are out early, the sun having set not long ago. The proceedings have all the feel of a Beltane fire, and it would not surprise me to look out the window to see canine figures dancing against flames in the woods.

Coyote: Photo by Alan Emery on Unsplash

The coyotes are frequent enough visitors to the area that the dog doesn’t bother barking back at them anymore when he is in the house. His body language is alert, but he only listens now. If he sees them, it’s a different story. He encountered one a week or so ago in broad daylight. Both creatures stood their ground several yards away from each other, the dog barking in warning (to us, or the coyote? Hard to tell). I couldn’t see the coyote, but I knew something was up when the dog refused to be distracted by the shaking of the snack bag. I sent my son out with the leash. He secured the dog and chased the coyote away.

Family · Health Care · Life on the Island · Uncategorized

Changing My Mind

It started with a drive home. I dropped my son off at an event in the next town and rode back looking at all the Christmas lights.

I’ve lived in this town almost thirty years. I barely see it anymore. It remains a beautiful place, but after a while, you stop thinking about it. I’m not sure why my attention was caught by the Christmas lights that early evening, but for a few moments I really saw the beauty of an ordinary drive I’ve done more times than I can count. I was present, and content; the first time in a while I felt truly happy to be living here.

The town’s tree. Yes, it’s tilted.

I’ve written about aspects of this before, but it has been a hard couple of years. Between getting laid off, health problems, huge medical bills, the politics of the age, and family-related stress, I went into self-protection mode and dropped out of everything. The health stuff was brought on by panic attacks, so my response was to remove myself from anything that might exacerbate my anxiety. I spent months feeling as if under siege, I needed to rest and to recover my equilibrium.

I do this from time to time. When I’m hurt, exhausted, embarrassed, or otherwise in need of emotional restoration, I retreat. I’m very much an introvert anyway (until you know me, then I seem like an extrovert), and people exhaust me. Every year I take the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day and hermit myself away from the world as much as I can. At the end of that time, I am usually ready to go back to work.

This time, my self-imposed exile has lasted about two years. I’ve been in a mental and emotional limbo both waiting for this transplant to move forward and wanting the “second half” of my life post-transplant to move in a different direction. Most of what set me on this trajectory two years ago has resolved itself or at least become less of an issue. The family is stable; I’ve managed to stay out of the hospital for months now (knock wood) because I know more about managing my Afib episodes. We’ve just had one of the most pleasant holiday seasons ever. It was low key, but everyone in the house approached it with the same spirit.

This year, there’s no work to go back to. I’m still keeping my eyes open for something, possibly part-time, local or remote, so that I can have some money coming in, but avoid an exhausting and expensive commute. I’m still trying to write more regularly. I’ve been at a standstill for two years, frozen in place, stuck. It’s past time for me to get moving again.

I worked briefly with a therapist earlier this year and soon came to the conclusion that it wasn’t a match. She was more focused on the practical day to day stuff, and less about how I felt and how I could cope. I struggled with how to end the sessions and then I discovered that the deductible for counseling services with my health plan was enormous; decision made. I was relieved, but no better off.

Driving home that night before Christmas I decided I need to experience that present and contented feeling more often, and that by deliberately seeking those “moments of light,” I might be able to help get myself unstuck. I might be able to start changing my mind. I’ve been thinking about how I might help myself do this, and here is what I came up with:

Movement – This is the probably the most important effort, but also the toughest, particularly in the winter when the cold air can make it difficult to breathe. I was never an athlete, but I used to walk everywhere. The myriad health problems I’ve been dealing with have put me in a state of de-conditioning (that’s what the cardiologist called it). With osteoporosis running in my family, and the effects of my rheumatoid arthritis meds, I need to start battling back to regain my strength. When I was doing yoga regularly, I always felt this peace at the end of a session. I need more of that now.

Dial down the carb-reliance – I don’t diet. I don’t need to lose weight. I don’t eat a lot of junk food or fast food or fake food; but I love pasta, bread, potatoes, and other carb-heavy ingredients. I put sugar in my tea and I’m a fan of the occasional soda. A small chocolate treat is a staple of most late afternoons. I absolutely need more protein, particularly at the start of the day. I’m very curious to see if tweaking the balance here has any noticeable effect on my mood and energy levels.

Gratitude / Appreciation / Observance – After the last two tempestuous years, things have calmed down enough for me to notice and appreciate moments of family harmony and growth. Sure there’s still plenty to work through, but reason and cooperation are more frequent visitors to our home, and they are most welcome. I have been trying to be on the lookout for things that support this feeling – whether it is the the boys working together to decorate for Christmas, the birds at the feeder, or the flowers I buy to fill our home with something natural.

Confront Shame – At a workshop a few years ago we were asked to think about some of the messages we heard or internalized growing up. My parents had quite a few snarky sayings that stuck with me, but I came to realize that a major theme of my childhood, between school (nuns), church, parents, and the society of the age, was “It’s not okay to make a mistake.” That got me to thinking about how much we used to control children by shaming them. We still try to do this to a lot of women. On some level, I rejected these attempts at control (hence my allergy to authority), but I know they made a huge impact on how I see the world. I know that a lot of my paralysis, a lot of my impulse to cloister myself comes from a sense of shame.

Engage, Create – I do need to get out more, and since 2016, I have been searching for a way to have better impact than I did as a School Committee Member. I’m not a protestor or petitioner, but my interests have moved from education, to health care and transportation. Next week I will be going to a talk on Medicare for All, to try to understand, and see how much the proponents understand about our current health care system and a plan to move forward. Of course I will write about what I have learned. I am still hoping to find a role in the community, I’ve talked with a few people, but now I feel like I can be less tentative about it, and get myself out there.

Social Media Diet – Another tough one, especially for someone as hermited as I can be. For my own sanity I declared a moratorium of all things Trump for the holidays. I don’t want to hear him, I don’t want to hear about him, I don’t want to listen to the Sunday talkies, or other news programs, I’ve mostly stayed away from Twitter and Medium this week. It’s been glorious, and I feel so much less anxious. I’ve taken to leaving my phone upstairs for most of the day when I’m trying to write. I’m happier and less distracted that way. Writing longhand first is usually something that helps my creative process anyway.

I can’t call these resolutions. Rather, they are behaviors and ways of thinking that I want to use to check in with myself about regularly. I’m really hoping that this time next year, I will feel perceptively unstuck and moving forward.

Happy New Year!
Life on the Island · Uncategorized · Writing Life

First Snow

I filled the feeders before the storm. When the snow stopped and the sun came out again, a pair of Cardinals, a reddish House Finch, and a large Red-bellied Woodpecker all came to visit, presumably breaking their fast. Occasionally, a squawking Blue Jay scatters the smaller birds, but when he takes a seed or two and flies away, the others return as if to say, “That’s just Jay, he’s obnoxious like that, just ignore him.”

These are the kind of winter mornings I can tolerate. The sun reflects off the newly fallen snow, making everything seem clean and bright. The sky will turn grey in an hour or so, but for now, I will sit here by the window with the light on my face, basking as if outside, on the patio, in the summer.

A nearby cove.
Photo by T. L. Tingley

From my seat, I can see tracks in the snow where birds have sought seeds dropped from above. I’m fascinated by the behavior of some birds who light on the feeder, pick and toss seeds from the opening until they find just the right one. They fly off and come back to do it all over again. There are other critters out there, too. We didn’t used to have small brown squirrels, but now they’re everywhere. The dog sniffs about in the snow, pausing every few steps to bay at some unfamiliar scent. I haven’t seen a coyote recently, but I know they are around.

In a few days, we will go and get our Christmas tree, and part of the living room, including the table where I’m sitting now, will get shifted temporarily to make room for festive decor. The tree will be placed in front of this window, blocking the sun and my view of the feeders.

I really should move my workspace back upstairs, but the light is not the same. The guest room that also serves as my office faces west, so the sun comes in toward the end of the day. I will take the full spectrum light up there; that might help. I’m pushing myself to start the day earlier (still not early by most people’s standards), and the full-spectrum light makes it easier on grey days. I am napping less, and cooking more. I still have my flat days – when I can only accomplish the bare minimum, but there seem to be fewer of them.

In a few weeks the days will start getting longer again. It will be imperceptible at first, but I love noting the time of the sunrise, even if I’m not up to see it. There are still long months to get through after the holidays. I will be looking for ways to make the most of the available light.

She's Crafty! · Uncategorized

Flowers for Sanity

When I worked in publishing, early in my career, I was introduced to the thrill of buying cheap flowers from street vendors in Boston. Every now and then I would grab a bunch of roses on a Friday and bring them home on the train to enjoy over the weekend. They never lasted much longer than that, but for what little I paid for them, it was hard to mind. I wasn’t home during the week to look at them anyway.

There aren’t as many vendors as there used to be. You might find them at Back Bay or South Stations, but no longer at North Station, where I would pass through to the commuter rail. The guy who used to stand in a doorway on Boylston Street with his buckets of about-to-fade bouquets is long gone; no doubt chased away by the new managers of the storefront, or new owners of the building.

This week’s choices. Roses, freesia, hydrangea, and I’m not sure what those spiky things are.
A group from early summer. Roses, peonies, alstroemeria

When I stopped commuting and was home in the colder months, I started to buy tulips at the supermarket, when they were available, to keep me sane during the winter. The cold weather irritates my lungs and makes it harder to breathe, so I don’t get out in nature much during the winter. Just to be able to pass by a vase of flowers and take in their bright green leaves and pastel petals gives me hope for Spring and lightens my spirit. I tend to gravitate toward the hybrid tulips with two colors; lavender and white, pink and peach. I thought I would stop buying them when the weather got warmer and I had my own garden to visit, but what happened was that the variety of flowers available expanded. So I started changing it up a little.

Overflow arrangement from this week

Now almost every week I get several bunches of flowers from Trader Joe’s and mix and match to create my own arrangements. I have no training in this sort of thing, so I’m making it up as I go along, but I just find it so peaceful to work with the flowers and bask in the freshness of them.

A family friend owned a florist shop in Pacific Grove, CA, and as a wedding gift she did the flowers for the ceremony and the reception. She flew the flowers out to Connecticut and assembled them at my mother’s house. Had I not been the bride, I might have had the opportunity to learn a thing or two from her, but there was no time.

So I’ll remain self-taught, and keep bringing flowers home to get me through the winter.

Fun with Food · Uncategorized

Less Meat Mondays?

I will never be a vegan. I mean, never mind meat, I don’t know if I could go through life without butter or cheese. I grew up in a very meat and potatoes oriented home. My dad frequently ordered prime rib at restaurants. We always had our spaghetti with meat sauce. Cheeseburgers were a staple of summers

But with all this concern about global warming that is finally seeming to get the news attention it deserves, one of the suggestions for adapting to the climate crisis is to eat less meat. Now that I can do.

I was raised Catholic. During Lent we weren’t supposed to eat meat on Fridays. That led to weekends beginning with homemade mac and cheese or tuna fish and macaroni salad. I’m lucky that I really do like salads, and vegetables, and fish.

I was thinking about this as I made dinner tonight. Now that I’m home, I am either making dinner or at least coming up with ideas for L to make when he gets home. Somedays are just for leftovers. It’s a bit easier now that both boys have their own schedules and I don’t always have to come up with things that all four of us will eat.

Tonight’s offering was risotto. I’ve been experimenting with different ways of preparing it. Our most common effort is with butternut squash and parmesan cheese. This time I used acorn squash, onion, garlic, white wine, and a single Italian sausage stripped of its casing and chopped up for flavor. It was pretty good!

Uncategorized · What I'm Reading

Sunday Reads 11.24.19

There’s nothing like hanging out on the couch on a Sunday morning reading a book or the Sunday paper with your coffee or tea. What I’d like to do with this occasional series is showcase some of the books I have read and enjoyed. Some will be current, and others with be old favorites of mine that might deserve a new audience.

I’m no book critic or professional reviewer, and that’s not my intention here. I’m merely sharing titles that struck me and hoping that you enjoy them as I did.

This week, I’m sharing a book I first read in my twenties. Composing a Life is a study of the improvisations of women’s lives and the shifting of experience to accommodate childrearing, career, or creativity. Using her own story and those of some of her friends, Mary Catherine Bateson, an anthropologist, looks at how women adapt to different stages and roles.

I relate to this book more and more now that I’m older and have seen more of these phases as a woman trying to balance childrearing, a career, a ridiculous commute and trying to find time to write for myself. Now that I am in my 50s and looking back on what I was doing in my 20s, 30s, and 40s, I can see places where I had to adapt, particularly around parenting when there were a lot of expectations and not a lot of answers.

Some of both partnering and parenting has evolved since this book was written, but women still carry an outsized share of the physical and emotional burden. As much as it might not seem so when we are in the throes of it, parenting is just a few chapters in the long book of most of our lives. Now that I am approaching the end of my active parenting years, I am already thinking about the next stage, the next step, the next improvisation.

Other things that caught my eye this week:

I have a couple of projects that I am researching. The first is a story that takes place during WWII. I was trying to find out more about Lyons, France at that time and discovered traboules. I can do something with these for sure.

Another thing I am looking into is a possible family connection to rum-running in Connecticut during Prohibition. It’s gotten into the family lore, and it’s certainly possible, but my mother vehemently denies it. This is a story of rum-running in the area. It’s given me a good starting point.