Where Everybody Knows Your Name

CheersIt occurred to me as I went into my local coffeeshop and place the same order I always do, which was taken without asking my name, that we’re raising an entire generation that doesn’t know the meaning of “NORM!”

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Song of the Dustpan People: Are Grammatically Accurate Writers Less Creative?


 Glenna Gordon Nigerian Weddings (http://beyondthemargins NULL.jpg)The other day a friend asked me if I’d help line-edit his manuscript. He’s tight on time and I can barely make my own deadlines, but I agreed—mostly because I like him and his book, but also because proofreading comes naturally to me. I see typos and punctuation errors the way Haley Joel Osment sees dead people.

Copy-editing is a very particular skill like, say, nit-picking. When you Continue reading

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Beautiful Little Nonsense #13

frownThe 5yo’s lament upon the changing of the computer password.

“Why can’t things stay the same?!”

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Beautiful Little Nonsense #12

deskThe 7yo is miffed that I have a home office and he doesn’t.


So he commandeers a closet and puts the antique chair-desk in it.

“Mine, mine, mine-mine mine,” he sings happily.

Basically, me in my first rent-controlled apartment.


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Beautiful Little Nonsense #11




The 5yo: “This is the law of my brain. If you don’t be’s nice to me, you can’t be my best friend.”

Not a bad law as brains go.

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Beautiful Little Nonsense #10

peter_pan_halloween_costume_kids_boys_2a6ecae0Halloween Morning

Costumed kids climb the school bus uncertainly,

searching eyes to see if they’re made of as much awesome

as they think they are.

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The Rabbit In The Soccer Net


RabbitThe other day my six-year-old ran in the house screaming: “A RABBIT IS STUCK IN THE SOCCER NET!”

When I went outside the poor thing was writhing frantic, the webbing wrapped double around its neck. The line was so tight it seemed impossible for it to be breathing. By the time I got there it hardly fought in my hands, less than my cats getting their nails clipped.

I sent my 12-year-old daughter inside for scissors and cupped it still, trying to create any possible slack in the netting. I really didn’t think it would live until she made it back.

She did the cutting, brave girl, shears right against its neck. When it was freed it sat in my hands, sides heaving. Or maybe it just didn’t realize it was free.

“Where did you learn to do that?” my eight-year-old asked.

It wasn’t just me, I told him. We all cut it free.

“No,“ he made a cupping gesture with his hand. “To just….hold it.”

Most people comfortable with handling animals probably say it comes down to Continue reading

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Beautiful Little Nonsense #9


Dropping off for the 8-year-old’s soccer practice. The younger two boys need a bathroom; I direct to a porta-potty around the bend.

The 8yo: “Moms always know where the nearest porta-potty is. Even if you’ve never seen it. Because you have it wired in your DNA, like a Mom bathroom GPS.”

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Loosen the Leash

BTMDogIsMyCopilot (http://beyondthemargins NULL.jpg)By Nichole Bernier (http://beyondthemargins

As I’ve mentioned here a few times, we have a young Bernese Mountain Dog. We got her last summer at 8 weeks old and named her Cricket because she was the least graceful thing ever to hop through grass.

She eats. She eats socks. She eats toys. She eats my husband. She eats the house.

Protectively, defensively, we’ve kept her restricted to the main kitchen/family room area of the house. She and the cats eye one another distrustfully through the gates, and when Cricket gets through, it’s off to the races.

When time came for our annual vacation on Martha’s Vineyard a few weeks ago, the owner of the house we rent gave us permission to bring the dog. My husband thought this was great news.

My heart sank. This meant schlepping the gates, the crate. It meant a week with a clenched stomach, wondering what she’d destroy. And yet there was an opportunity to experiment: we’d be in a house without the cats, and were curious to see what would happen if we let her roam free. By which I mean, my husband was curious to see what would happen. I just wanted to be on vacation and maybe sleep in a little and not have to safeguard food on the countertops.

Well lo and behold, she galloped through the place in an introductory way, and then Continue reading

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Beautiful Little Nonsense #8

stomachThe 5yo had trouble falling asleep last night, haunted by a DVD we rented from the library that spooked him.

“Think about ice cream cones,” I tell him. “Don’t think about the movie.”

Him: “But my body keeps pressing the play button.”

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