The Promise in a Bulb

As we enter our 7th month of Covid lockdown, we’ve had lots of time to work in our yard at the little house. With no vacations, or extended outings, there’s lots of time to spend planning out new gardens. This spring we planted new gardens in our back year with the goal of attracting honey bees and butterflys. We were pleased when on a recent afternoon our little guy spotted 6 honeybees gathered on one of the new plants.

Being cooped up for such a long time means spending time looking at gardening sites and creating new boards on Pinterest for all the ideas to improve the gardens. One photo that caught my eye was a spring garden awash in yellow daffodils of every variety. With some more research on where to plant and purchase said daffodil bulbs I put in an order for 100 assorted bulbs. When the order arrived, I spent some time researching the various methods of planting such a large quantity of bulbs.

As with everything else in the age of the internet and armed with a plethora of information from several Youtube videos, I embarked on the project. There were three different methods of planting these bulbs, the first, just dig an indivdual hole and plant a single bulb, the second idea, dig a circle large enough to hold 6 bulbs in a circle and put one in the middle, and the third method was to just dig up an entire area and pretty much just scatter the bulbs and after checking to see they were all turned the right way, cover up the area. I couldn’t make up my mind to which method I should use, so I used all three methods and come April, I guess I’ll know which one worked best!

As I planted the bulbs I thought of Natalie Sleeths hymn “In the Bulb there is a Flower” and specifically the verse “In the cold and snow of winter there’s a Spring that waits to be, unrevealed until it’s season, something God alone can see”

Made me think about the hot mess time we’re in right now, how as the cold and snow season begins we’ll be back in forced hibernation. How a corner of our dining room has been transformed into a make shift classroom for our 4th grader who spends 6 hours a day in front of a Chromebook screen trying to keep up with his school work. And how it breaks our heart that we have no plans to visit our youngest grandchild because we don’t feel safe getting on a plane. If I’m being completely truthful, I’m not feeling too optimistic about the upcoming season

Then I think of the bulbs I just planted, how with a combination of hibernation and their stored nutrients they will emerge strong and healthy in a swarth of yellow beauty.

So maybe I should take a cue from the bulbs and try to enjoy this upcoming time of hibernation, to prepare the little house with the comforts we’ll need to keep ourselves safe and comfy during the cold and snow. And look forward to emerging in the Spring to see the beautiful blooms of the yellow daffodils

Fall in the time of Quarantine

The leaves are beginning to turn, the artificial orange fall scented candle is burning by the stove and my favorite pumpkin spice coffee is back. The calendar still says summer, but in my mind and in the aisles of CVS, trust me, it’s fall.

In any other year, fall also means back to school, but in our time of quarantine, fall this year means scrubbing off an old Ikea desk and setting it up in our dining room so we can have the pleasure of spending every weekday from 9-3, supervising little man as he begins 4th grade. I’m especially looking forward to watching him do his Zoom gymnastics, over and under the chair, camera placed so only the top of his head is showing….all of you with kids, you totally know the drill….the struggle is real.

Fall is the time we Bless the Backpacks at our church, but this year, instead of backpacks, our pastor will bless the laptops….we also have a Sunday when the pets are blessed, not sure how that will be handled over zoom in case it’s too cold in New England to worship in the great outdoors.

With Fall comes apple picking, our annual gathering of the grands dressed in their appropriate Patriot team shirt to pose for the grandkid photo that ends up as a refrigerator magnet until the following year. Not sure how we’ll manage that while wearing masks, socially distancing and fighting off other families in the orchard for the best apples

Fall is also Halloween…..will every piece of candy come with a Lysol wipe? Can you even buy Lysol wipes?  Will we just throw the candy bars into a sterilized pillowcase?  I can’t wait to see all the options erupt on Facebook with all the mommas….yes, I’m on several momma FB local pages….and I’m thankful there was no social media many years ago when I was raising my kids.

And let’s not even begin to talk about Thanksgiving. What will happen to all the 25+ pound birds that are being raised now when the chance of large family gatherings the end of November held indoors with no viable vaccine has current odds of happening between slim and none?

Let’s face it, there will be no magic vaccination ready in October, that’s just another lie….and if we can’t get this virus contained the only certainty is that more people will die….and as they say, that’s just the facts.

With the warm weather we’ve been able to get out and visit with folks outdoors while maintaining our social distance…..sometimes things seem like normal…but that’s only until the cold weather returns and once again we’ll be forced to stay indoors and back to socializing on Zoom, and for me, that’s just a very depressing thought.

So next week, I’ll put away the white pants, as every true New Englander has been taught to do….and break out all fall decorations from the basement and visit the local nursery to buy some big mums to plant next to the haybales and pumpkins I’ll get from a local farmer….and I’ll try not to think about how much this season will be different this year.

I will try hard to count my blessings, for I have many….and not to dwell on all that we’re missing…but I also need to acknowledge that it’s hard, and sometimes the most difficult part is giving myself permission to take the time to acknowledge that things are upside down right now.

Stay well and stay safe my friends and above all else be kind to yourself, remember, these are not normal times and somehow, we’ll get through this mess!


Today the world lost Priscilla, my dear sweet mother-in-law. I met Priscilla six months after I started dating her son and the first thing she said to me was “Jeff tells me you have daughters”, and on our ride home Jeff told me that before we left she pulled him aside and said, “don’t you lose her”. Priscilla had a way about her that made people instantly connect with her, it was her smile, her demeanor, and her sincerity that drew people in right away.
Priscilla was the only child of Fred and Rowena, she was born in 1925 and in 1931 she suffered the unimaginable loss of her sweet dad, Fred who passed away after a tennis accident resulted in an infection. This was in 1931, before the antibiotics we have readily available today. Rowena and her young daughter developed a very strong bond that helped them both get through a very difficult time, When Priscilla was 14 her mother remarried and along with her new step-father came a 14-year-old step-brother. Priscilla and her step brother remained close friends until his passing many years ago.
Priscilla met the love of her life, David, at a church youth fellowship group held at the Congregational church in Brockton that catered to the newly immigrated Swedish population, both Priscilla and David’s mothers were first generation Swedes. The young couple were also in the same Physics class in high school and attended the same dancing school. After they both graduated from High School, Priscilla attended Simmons College in Boston and David went to complete his education at Norwich Academy in Vermont. With the outbreak of WWII, David’s classes were cancelled and he eventually found himself enlisted in the Coast Guard until the war ended. In 1947 they were married. They moved back to VT so David could complete his education and on their first anniversary they welcomed their first son Jeffrey. She would always tell me that his arrival was the best anniversary gift she ever received.
In the years that followed two more sons arrived and Priscilla and David’s cape style post WWII home in the suburbs was full with three boisterous boys and the coming and goings of the neighborhood children. Priscilla enjoyed her days when her sons were young, she gave back through volunteering her time at the boy’s school and as a den mother.
When the boys were still quite young, Priscilla and her mother purchased a cabin on the water on Sawyers Island in Maine outside of Boothbay Harbor. It was there Priscilla and her mother along with the three boys would spend their entire summer with the husbands coming up on the weekends and for a two week stay during the summer. The boys enjoyed picnics, boat rides, hikes, lobster bakes, and freshly baked berry pies. An idyllic childhood memory for these three boys.
There came a time when the boys grew and moved out and began families of their own and ultimately the addition of five grandsons. The grandsons loved spending time with their grandparents who by this time had retired to New Hampshire. It wasn’t unusual to see all five boys camped out overnight on the floor of the living room after an evening of playing Up and Down the River and Tripoli with Gramma. They cherished her and she had a special spot in her heart for each of them.
Once David retired, they set off to see the world. They purchased a Road Trek van and hit the road. They would be gone from NH for about 5 months a year visiting friends and relatives, birding, visiting National Parks and exploring the USA. Their longest trip was when they drove to Alaska. Along the way they would meet fellow campers and very quickly strangers became friends. They also did a fair amount of international travel usually with the tours that included lots of hiking and lectures. In the 7 months they were home in NH each year, Priscilla continued her tradition of volunteering at the local theater and library.
Priscilla said she loved having me in the family because there just weren’t enough women, she would say that we were surrounded by men and she was right! When the great grandchildren began to arrive, after two great grandsons, she welcomed her first great granddaughter. She had a special place in her heart for all the great grands but I suspect there was a bit of favoritism towards the girl.
We loved to spend time with them in NH and when we vacationed together in South Carolina. We enjoyed their ritual of popcorn and wine before dinner and playing games after dinner. Priscilla was a great bridge player and nothing gave her greater pleasure than playing games with her family.
The last few years of Priscilla life were challenging with battling the ailments associated with aging. She was optimistic and upbeat and usually the staff’s favorite patient. These past few months were especially difficult due to Covid-19, she couldn’t see her beloved David in person, but they talked almost every day. Thankfully they were able to spend a little time together in the past few weeks. In one of her last conversations with her son a few days ago after having trouble reaching her husband, she told him “tell dad that I miss him and that I still love him”. In just 2 days they would have celebrated their 73rd anniversary, a milestone very few people attain.
So tonight, a bright light has been extinguished with the loss of Priscilla, I’ll miss her smile, her warmth, and her love for her family and I know her spirit will live on in the lives of all who loved her.


The Great Reset

As we enter week eight of our shelter in place it’s becoming very apparent things will never return to normal, it feels like we will never go back to our pre pandemic days, our lives have been forever changed. Sometimes it’s even hard to think back on how things were before the lock down. I think when this is all over, when a vaccine is readily available, we’ll segment our lives between what life was like before and after this pandemic.

Our little guy, 8 weeks out of school and away from his friends commented that perhaps this virus was the result of years ignoring the damage we’re doing to our planet. As I see images around the world of the smog lifting and the clear skies, I think, maybe he’s onto something.

As spring is in full bloom, it’s weird to go by the school and see the flashing signs but no sign of life in the parking lot or playground, to wait in line to get into a super market and obey the one way trail around the store, to be very aware about staying a minimum of 6 feet from one another, even when that one another is one of your children, grandchild or an elderly parent, or go to Zoom church on a Sunday morning while still sipping coffee, and to always have on your person a mask and hand sanitizer. It’s hard to be living in this new reality.

For the first few weeks I went into a full on cleaning organizing mode, hubby and I tidied up the basement, and then I went through all the closets and junk drawers, spent way too much money on the Container Store website organizing the new pantry and even managed to unpack moving boxes left untouched for 20 years, or 5 moves….thankfully that phase has passed and things are back to normal, whatever that is!

I watched a piece on PBS about what people were doing with all the time they were spending in isolation, it was an interesting look on how people are dealing with our new reality, between making music videos, to sewing masks, to mastering the art of cooking to learning new games and languages….it ran the gamut…from the overachievers to the folks who find it difficult to just deal…the ones that are coping day to day juggling home schooling their kids with trying to work from home…and then let’s just throw in there the anxiety about keeping our elders and our high risk population loved ones safe, or the sadness around missing graduations, weddings, birthdays and other milestone events or watching those we love on the front lines battling this disease, or losing a job or the business you’ve put your heart and soul into….or the absolute worst, losing someone you love and not being able to say goodbye… It’s easy to see how depression can begin to take hold.

And in the darkness we do see some light, people coming together in their own ways to help, they make masks, cook and deliver meals, make check in phone calls, offer to pick up groceries for neighbors, make an effort to support local businesses, drop off a basket of goodies, participate in a drive by birthday celebration, the list goes on and on….everyone doing their own part for the betterment of all.

I wonder when this is over, will we jump back to how our lives were before? Or will we bring the best parts we’ve learned forward?  We will have lots of time to think and ponder and my hope is when this is all said and done we’ll have a greater appreciation for what’s really important and my guess is what’s really important can’t be found in a store or a restaurant or a gym.

Be safe, be well and let’s lean in on one another in the dark times to help each other through this hot mess…it’s the only way we’ll make it through.

Look for the Helpers

We’ve all heard this phrase made famous by our beloved Mr. Rogers, and in these hot mess times, his message resonates loudly.

Covid19, or Corona virus has our country in the thick of a pandemic, people are going back and forth between fear and uncertainty. Schools and places of worship are closed, professional sports have been put on hold and through all of this we have a leader more obsessed with the optics rather than the good of everyday citizen. We find ourselves in a moment where we are looking for guidance, who do we trust, where do we get our information, and where do we find our hope?

Right now, I’m finding my hope through the posts and interactions of my neighbors and friends. On a recent community FB post, someone posted that they would be willing to run errands for the elderly, another offered to give food away to any family that found themselves hungry, and that offer was soon matched by several other people. Posts offering to babysit for the families scrambling to find childcare now that the schools are closed,  posts about the best places to bring kids to hike and one of my favorites, a list of so many really cool things to do with your kids to keep them busy over these next few weeks.

My faith community was mobilized 12 hours after the decision was made to close our building. Many in our faith community are elderly, or have an autoimmune disease or various other issues. A phone bank was set up to check in with every single member over the next few days to asses any needs and once the assessment is complete, a bevy of our wonderful volunteers will spring into action to help as needed. Our worship services will be virtual, but the love given and received from one member to another is most certainly real.

Since coming home from South Carolina earlier this week, hubby and I have felt a bit under the weather, nothing major, just extra tired and low on energy so we’ve made the decision to self-quarantine. And because we’re staying in, I missed my weekly coffee date with some of my besties…..but they were thinking of us and one of them stopped by to bring us this lovely basket of goodies….I will pay this forward in the near future.

People are good, really good and when faced with a situation like we’re in right now, it seems the best way to cope is to reach out and help others, as opposed to clearing the shelves at Costco of toilet paper and hand sanitizers…….

I’m finding my hope in the caring and love of my neighbors and friends, each looking out for one another. Where do you find your hope?

Stay safe my friends, wash your hands with soap and as my Italian Grandmother would say to me “cover your head and don’t take chances”, seems pretty good advice for this crisis.


Club Sandwich Anyone?

My husband and I were in his mother’s room at the nursing home visiting with his father and the Director of a nursing agency that will provide home care for my mother-in-law when the call came in from the elementary school Principal. Seems the 8 year old got a bit carried away in art trying to recreate a Jackson Pollack masterpiece by shaking down some paints and making an enormous mess. That’s after he slammed down on a ketchup packet at lunch, which when released, found its way into the eye of a classmate…not his best day….As I stood there listening to the call, I just kept thinking, please, please don’t ask me to come and get him…I need to be with my hubby and his parents right now..

Our little grand guy is 8 years old, and my husband’s parents will both turn 95 this year so we we are most officially members of the club sandwich generation. A sandwich generation is defined as taking care of your parents and children at the same time, a club sandwich just means you’ve added an extra layer of another generation to the mix.

I am blessed to belong to a family where there is so much love and respect for my in-laws. Together they raised three sons, who produced 5 sons and they now they have 3 great grands, and thankfully 92 years after my mother-in-law was born, one of the great grands was a girl!  They will celebrate their 73rd wedding anniversary in June. They’ve had an amazing life together, in retirement they traveled throughout the USA in their Road trek and joined active travel groups to see sights around the world. They were always very active, hiking, birding, walking, volunteering, and making new friends along the way.

Currently they both reside in a local Continuing Care Retirement Community, with mom living in a nursing home and dad residing in an independent apartment. Our current plan is to spring mom from the nursing home and put her in her own place with a full time care taker.  It’s been quite an ordeal working through all the options, but in the end, she’ll gain back some of her independence which will in turn make her happy. Her wants are small, she wants the option of having a poached egg for breakfast, an occasional bowl of fresh steamed clams and sleeping in until she wakes on her own and not being aroused when it’s convenient for the staff. We hope by her 95th birthday in April, she’ll be all settled in her new place.

We have to look at this time in our life as our time to give back.  My husbands parents and my parents were the type of folks that always had time for their children and grandchildren. One thing my husband and I had in common walking into our second marriage was the incredible bond our children had with our parents. That’s the type of bond, the legacy we hope we leave with our children and grands.

In the meantime, we’ll find the joy in caring for the oldest and youngest members of our family, taking each day as it comes, the good and some…..well, let’s just say we’ve banned ketchup packets from the house!




Saying Goodbye

It’s been a rough season of five losses within my extended circle of friends, two husbands of friends that passed in circumstances that were unexpected, another friend succumbing to cancer after several years of struggling, another one dying peacefully after enjoying a very long and full life and the one buried today was most likely making dinner a week ago, never in her wildest dreams thinking it would be her last day on earth.

As I sat through the funeral today, I couldn’t help but think are we ever ready for the end of our life? Will it be sudden, or will it be the result of an illness, or will we fall asleep when we’re 100 and never wake up?

We think we have forever to go through our to do lists, to make a will, to leave detailed instructions, buried or cremated, open or shut casket, what songs to play, what verses to be recited, what pictures to select, the list is endless and we go to all lengths to avoid the hard conversations with our loved ones hoping things will just work out on their own, because in the end, someone takes control and makes it all happen. And of course, that someone is the person who loves us the most, be it a spouse or a child, or a parent.

Funerals give us an opportunity to say goodbye to friends and loved ones, while we  think about the impact their life had on others, their accomplishments, how they loved and cherished their families. I think funerals also serve another purpose and that is to remind us each of our own mortality.

What changes would we make in our life if we knew that in the near future our life would come to an end? And I guess the bigger question would be, if we know what the changes would or should be, why are we so reluctant to make them now?

Have you heard about “Swedish Death Cleaning”? It’s a term for the cleaning and de- cluttering you do when you think your time is almost up. Getting rid of the stuff in your house that your kids don’t want, think fine china, your books, your antiques, your collection of…fill in the blank… the list is endless….The upside to this practice is that once the cleaning and de-cluttering is done, your life is more organized, which makes the running of your everyday life run more smoothly…..

Which brings us to where this all started, how do we prepare for our last day on earth? We can plan, and organize and clean and de-clutter but I think the most important thing we can do is live life to it’s fullest, enjoy the sunsets, the times with our friends and family and to always make sure our loved ones know just how much they mean to us and how much they are loved.

Because in the end, love is the only thing that really matters…




Let it Go

We managed a brief 48 hour Staycation thanks to the help of little man’s other set of grandparents who offered us a brief respite from full time parenting.

The day we dropped him off was a bit dreary, too cold and damp for a hike, so we decided to visit the city of Lowell where we both had some roots from way back when. Hubby and I both attended the same college in Lowell, although at different times. Hubby graduated in June, I started the following September and at the ripe old age of 19 instead of continuing with my studies and receiving letters after my name, I acquired the initials of Mrs. preceding my first husband’s name.

The second of our Staycation days, we embarked on a trip to the High Ledges to see some beautiful foliage in western Massachusetts. It’s a hike I first went on with my children and members of my church close to 30 years ago and the spectacular views of bright fall foliage from high atop a ledge overlooking the valley below, never cease to amaze me. As with any woodland walk in the fall, the ground is covered in a combination of pine needles and fallen leaves, still colorful. With the light filtering through the trees, it’s like a magic carpet.

It was nice to have a few days in our home of normal retirement life, I find it’s the little things I miss, like sleeping with all the lights out, not supervising homework and shower times and able to watch whatever we wanted on Netflix without worrying about the effects on little ears and eyes.  It felt good just to be a couple in our own place for a few short days.

In my life, there have been so many expectations of how the path should have gone versus the actual path, those pesky what-ifs. Beginning way back when I started college, I fully intended to graduate with honors and begin a music career, but life got in the way and instead I got a head start in the marriage and mommy race. Looking back, I wouldn’t have changed a thing because if I had, I wouldn’t have my daughters and I couldn’t imagine my life without my gang of girls.

The what ifs are the stuff that can make us crazy…what if I had done things differently as a parent, would I be raising another child in my retirement years? What if she had made different decisions, would she be with her son today? Every now and then I find myself wanting to wander into that crazy space if for just a moment.

As we walked through the woods this past weekend and enjoyed the trees in all their splendor, we accept that the foliage season is short but very special, and after the vibrancy of the color the leaves drop and fade. The trees let go of their leaves on the promise of new life to come.

I wonder why it can be hard for us sometimes to let go of what is or what was planned to make way for the new life that is yet to come? I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that we need to let go sometimes to make room for what’s to come. Seems like pretty good advice, after all, it does work well for the trees.

Happy Fall


The Great Upheaval

We just returned from a relaxing, enjoyable week in beautiful Nova Scotia. While there we had the opportunity to visit the Acadian Village in Lower West Pubnico, Nova Scotia. The village was a delightful living museum where we learned about the history and culture of the Acadian people and enjoyed Rappie Pie for lunch, a traditional Acadian food made of potatoes, picture the consistency of potato jello covered with molasses…needless to say we were full until wine and popcorn time at 5:00…

As we made our back to our little cottage we talked about Longfellow’s Poem, Evangeline and how even after 50+ years after reading it for the first time, we were both struck by the impact the poem made on both of us as middle school kids. I couldn’t get out of my head the profound sadness of the poem, how finding and being betrothed to your one true love, only to be pulled apart on your wedding day and then to spend the rest of your life looking for him only to find him on his deathbed…how tragic..and I apologize if you were never forced to read the poem in middle school and I just gave away the entire story line!

The history of the Acadian people is long and complicated, and somewhere along the way it resulted in the forced removal of 10,000 Acadians by the British. British soldiers rounded up the frightened villagers, burnt their homes and crops and put them on boats and scattered them far and wide, with some ending up in Louisiana and known as Cajuns. Many did not survive, as men, women and children drowned or succumbed to illness. In the end, this great upheaval was deemed inhumane, brought about by man’s greed, confusion, misunderstanding and fear. (

As we toured the bucolic historic reenactment of this perfect Acadian village and learned about the Great Upheaval, I couldn’t help to think about what’s happening right now in our country. Like with the Acadians, the history of the folks seeking asylum in our country is long and complicated. Our immigration process is badly broken, used as the proverbial can kicked down the road by both the D’s and the R’s until there’s no road left. The Acadians were placed in boats and sent away, our seekers are being placed in wire enclosures, cages, and forced to wait to learn of their ultimate status…..will history look back at this time and call our leaders inhumane? Will future Americans look back and wonder what they would have done if they had been alive during this crisis? Is the cause of our immigration debacle due to greed, confusion, misunderstanding and fear? History will be the ultimate judge.

I wonder just how many Evangeline’s and Gabriel’s are out there… now named Jose and Maria, betrothed and now separated by unspeakable violence and poverty, one coming to seek asylum here in the USA to carve a way to a better life, while the other waits, and waits never to see or hear from their loved one again. I fear we are so caught up on all the underlying issues we are forgetting these are real people, with real dreams and not just nameless pawns caught in our broken system.

Now off my soapbox….and looking forward to the next adventure..and my next history lesson. BTW, we also visited the home of Alfred Fuller, the original Fuller Brush Man…more about him later!

Our Summer Solstice

It’s the longest day of the year and we’re in a little cabin on a beautiful clear pond in the middle of no where New Hampshire. Members of our village have taken little man for three nights and we are beyond excited.

With less than a weeks notice we were able to book an idyllic 3 night stay in a very quaint cabin on a little pond. I booked the place on Home Away, and this time we really lucked out, from the sweet front screened in porch with rocking chairs from the 50’s to the massive stone fireplace, to the bedroom with views on all sides of the water, to the western water view sunsets, to the absolute quietness with the exception of an occasional bird cry, to the no cable, no internet, no cell service.

The moment we arrived we looked at one another and said, “I feel the stress lifting”…we were so chill we didn’t even venture out for dinner, we traded plans for a fancy meal for crackers, cheese, hummus and grapes accompanied by chilled wine with a water view and an occasional cry from a loon.

For the next 3 days we had a race to see who could be most relaxed, who could sleep in the latest, who could read the most pages…who could get up the earliest and take to the pond in a Kayak…yeah, that wasn’t me! I won the prize for most cups of morning coffee consumed in the rocking chair on the screened in porch overlooking the water.

As much as we love our crazy club sandwich lives between grand-kids, kids and aging parents, it’s so good to have the opportunity to escape for a few days with the only goal to be as chill as possible. I forgot just how good it felt to have a few days where we didn’t have to do anything or take care of anyone but ourselves, it seems like a lifetime ago that was our life.

But now it’s back to summer 101, with the color coded calendar. We’re packing for vacation, juggling rides to camps, moving elderly parents, getting in the appointments and before you know it, in just 9 very short weeks, it will be time to go back to school. And we all know what that means, Dunkin Donuts will bring back the Pumpkin Spice Coffee and the Halloween Candy will displace the school supplies.

It’s such a short, sweet season, and for now, I’ll look forward to campfires and lobsters in Maine, the warmth of the sun, vacations with the people we love, the fresh strawberries from the garden and the trips to Rota Springs for Ice Cream.

Enjoy your summer