Cottage courage

cottage3Last week, we moved across town to a house on the edge of a wood. This week, we found this abandoned gem in the forest not 300 yards from our back door.

Inside is a rotting old couch, a 1950s wooden high chair, modern plastic Disney toys, and a 12-candle platter like an altar in the middle. Several pages of scribbles from a little girl named Helen, who wrote the word MUSIC several times in large childish lettering.

Then in a tiny controlled corner of the back of the page, “And now I know.”

Underneath is a deep, cold root cellar.

I don’t know whether to claim squatter’s rights and start writing there, or keep a respectfully wide margin spooked by the backstory I’m certain it has.


Topics: On Writing, Wild Kingdom | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Being six

armfartsTook the six-year-old to the doctor yesterday. All the older siblings were at home so he took center stage, chattering and wisecracking through the whole visit.

Afterward I suggested that maybe he could have toned it down.

Him: “But he might need to know everything about me.”

Me: “He doesn’t need to know that you can make fart sounds blowing against your arm.”

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Front seat privileges





When you weigh more than four of the seven humans, you get front seat privileges.

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Night shift


Driving past highway construction last night, had a heated conversation with the younger boys about jobs that sometimes require working when other people are sleeping.

Nope, shouldn’t be necessary, says the 5yo.

“What about doctors and nurses in hospitals?” I ask him. “Should sick people be told, ‘Sorry, no one can keep you alive during the nighttime?’ “

Him, shaking his head. “That’s a tough call. Don’t ask me that question. I’m just a kid.”


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The sports pacifist’s lament


The 5yo on Kindergarten soccer.

“Everyone says to be aggressive,” he complains. “But it would be a lot easier if the other guy just walked away from the ball.”


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The kittens have arrived!


The kittens have arrived! They were discovered on Saturday morning, March 7th, at 7am — 4 of them, three boys and a girl.

Winner of the kitten pool — through my complicated algorithm of factors — is Samantha Shapiro. Email me your book of choice, and if you want a recommendation, you know I have them galore.

Topics: On Faith, Hope & Love, On Relationships, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Baby Pool: Kitten edition

Juno2Yesterday I got an email through the Animal Rescue League foster group that a pregnant young cat had come in. She needed a foster home, stat, for the delivery and early weeks. We’ve fostered 3 rounds of kittens, starting at about 5 weeks of age, but never been fortunate enough to get the brass ring: the chance to be present for a birth and the early newborn experience. 

I called Tom. The other end of the line went silent, then a wry laugh. “You’re serious.” To his credit, always to his credit, he shrugs and says yes to bringing on more crazy. He didn’t start off as a cat person, and the past year’s revolving door of kittens is not what he signed on for. But he carried the dog’s crate and a whelping box upstairs while I drove with the little boys to pick her up at the shelter.

She’s a sweet anxious youngster and ready to go any time now. Naturally, we named her Juno.

Here’s the skinny (or not so skinny) for the baby pool: she’s a petite pixie with a rock-solid middle but not overly wide. She’s walking around but doesn’t seem agitated. She’s eating and drinking a little.

Person who most closely guesses the:

a) size of litter
b) date/hour, and
c) ratio of boys/girls

wins the paperback of their choice. I’ll buy it from Wellesley Books (http://www NULL.wellesleybooks and mail it to you (within the US). Game on!

In the meantime, keep this sweet girl in your thoughts. She’s got an adventure ahead of her, and she’s gotta do it by herself.



Topics: Wild Kingdom | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Comments

Putting yourself on the kids’ flight path

lg-steamwasher-lg-wm2801hwaOne of the good things about having the laundry on the second floor is that it gives a drive-by proximity to the kids’ bedrooms. I can casually check in. Ask questions and just maybe get a real answer. Sing loudly, terribly, to get a rise out of them.

While I rush through t-shirts and ripped jeans, thinking about where I left off writing and hoping I can pick up, random gems come from their rooms. The 5-year-old talking to the fish. The 9-year-old reading his Valentines aloud.  This morning I overheard the 7-year-old singing “We Shall Overcome” in a soft operatic Ethel Merman.

This afternoon I was folding alongside the 14-year-old’s door. He always goes right to homework after school, but had seemed a little more reclusive than usual. “Hey in there. You solve world peace yet? Cure cancer?”

“Almost,” he said. “I’m on it.”

I didn’t go in, as much as I wanted to, and ask what was up, who he was texting, what he was thinking about trying out for spring baseball. We just exchanged one-liners through the dryer wall.

Next house we buy, second floor laundry is my top priority.

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


dustpan 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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