Good morning, friends! Faced with…

Good morning, friends! Faced with a defunct dishwasher, I went off into a long mind-ramble this week: What do I need to own? What do I need to DO? This post is the result.

I hope you had a great week, filled with all the things YOU need!


Weather-Wise Writing

A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves.
                    —Marcel Proust

A bead of sweat trickles into my eye. I suddenly am keenly aware of my navy blue t-shirt, as hot against my back as if I’d just ironed it. I realize my ankle, stretched out to accommodate my sloping posture on the brick front steps (I am bent low to paint the roughened, rusty spots on the bottom of the metal front door), is turning roasty red. A neighbor walks by and waves his baseball hat. His gray hair is matted to his sweat-sheened forehead.

“Hot enough for you?” he asks, and walks on, not waiting for the obvious answer.

It is 11 a.m. on a late September Saturday in Ohio. Mark is out back, on the ladder, putting a second coat of ‘Serious Gray’ on the high-points of the garage. I am touching up trim out front. We had the house painted in late summer, but committed to doing the finishing touches ourselves.

Who knew that waiting until autumn began would meaning working outside on the hottest days of the year?

It is NOT, learned sources tell me, ‘Indian summer.’ Indian summer only occurs when bright, hot, sunny days come after the first chilling frost. We’ve had a mild, breezy summer; some lovely sleeping nights have had temps plunge into the forties. But nothing cold enough to put frost on the pumpkins.

No, it’s just hot and sunny and entirely summer-like.


I am not complaining. I am aware that many people would love to have this kind of weather, right now, right where they are. There are horrendous storms and their aftermaths. There are forest fires. There are early blizzards and torrential rains, and there is mud sliding down hills, sluicing toward people’s homes. This day–90 degrees, bright sun, with just a little breeze to cool the flush–is a blessing, nothing less.

I think about my niece in Florida, who rode out the hurricane in her home, with her family,–about their lucky, lucky emergence with no harm to house or people. They had, then, over a week with no power, and the challenge of keeping cool—and keeping food–in the tropical heat of their near-Miami home.

I think of another niece in South Carolina, who experienced the storm surge a day after the hurricane hit Florida. Their streets were flooded; their schools were closed; their power was intermittent. People wrote to ask if she was worried about alligators coming up in all that surging water. No, she replied, the big worry is water-bound snakes.

Climate is what we expect, Mark Twain once wrote. Weather is what we get.

I am thinking we ought to think about writing about the weather, too.


Oh, I don’t mean we need to get all meteorological, with barometric readings and wind directions, highs and lows, and weekly predictions. But as we reach out over the blogosphere, connecting with each other, we might want to mention what the weather is like out our way.

It could be hot, humid, and oppressing–the kind of weather that keeps one in the cool indoors, craving shade and iced water and perhaps an afternoon nap. It might be utterly pleasant–mild temps, soft breeze: weather to write outside in. There could be a storm raging, gale-force winds bending trees to sweep the pavement. Rains might pour. Snow might inch up toward the windows.

Whatever the weather, it affects our written voice, our energy, our mood. That’s worth mentioning.

And thinking about it anchors us, brings us those moments of awareness and mindfulness–the moments from which clarity blossoms. From my cramped front porch perch, I see the sun baking the leathery leaves in my neighbor’s front yard, and I try to put the image into words. Across the street, Oscar the dog lies panting in the shade of Anne’s maple tree. And acorns are arhythmically falling—thocka, thocka, thocka, all around me–hitting shingles and rolling down roofs, bouncing off the metallic hoods of cars. Sun: hot and high and baking. Sky: bright blue.

A moment ago, I had been so intent on my work I hadn’t noticed the weather. Now I am in it. I am HERE.


And sharing it broadens us. “It could be worse,” my son will often say, quoting a favorite scene from Young Frankenstein. “It could be raining.” And somewhere–maybe YOUR where–it IS raining, softly in places and driving down in others. Winds are blowing, too. And in some places, my 90-degree ‘hot’ would be a welcome respite from aching, baking, heat.

I need to crawl out of my local perspective. I need to think about the air that people I care about are breathing, across the world, out on the coast, or a mere 200 miles away.

And maybe, to get the whole picture, we need to push away from the news sources that blare and bash, and write to each other. Is this weather, this storm, this weirdly hot autumn, is it different? Is it a new and frightening trend? What is going on in our world?

History, someone once said, is best understood one story at a time. And maybe present is best understood that way, too, and one way of sharing ‘present’ is to weave in a description of the air that floats around us. Every story, carefully told, broadens my horizon, makes me see a deeper, fuller picture. And each bit of knowledge, thus gained, helps me craft a plain for the future.

So I ask you, my friends, is it hot enough for you? And here in the blogosphere, we are not walking away. We are here to listen when you have time to answer.


#skywatch, #suggestion

Who Are the People in YOUR Neighborhood?

Sesame Street asked us that question: Who are the people in your neighborhood, the people that you see each day? When inspiration dries up and the muse refuses to answer your desperate knocks, maybe you could answer that. Maybe you could write about the character-strands that weave together the everyday tapestry of your life.


Who DO you see every day? Is it family, people who, related by blood or tied in some other way, share your home? Is it a person who lives next door, down the street, through the yards to the back?

Or is it someone that you work with, our work-lives, in 2017, creating that tapestry of friendship and proximity more than our home addresses?

Does academia fill your daily radar screen? Is there a shop you hit so often the clerk has become a friend?

Describing those who populate our lives can be a way of revealing, by extension, who we are and how we live.


The special things about our everyday people show the way we operate in that everyday situation. If, every time you venture out into the brick patio  of your backyard, a neighbor slips over to say hello, that tells something about your neighborhood. Does the person come with glad tidings? Does he always share ominous news? Is she intent on nudging you to mow your lawn, move the old car, cut the stubbly bushes? Or–are they friendly people who enjoy your company and care about the way your day played out?

At work, does your boss pop in frantically every time HIS boss emails him a new charge? Or are you part of a team that works together in well-oiled fashion, everyone embracing the challenge, moving forward to get ‘er done? Do you have a customer or client who calls you darned near every day, someone you try so hard to serve with all your patience and compassion–and sometimes, during frantic, busy days, falling short of that goal? Whose footsteps coming down the hallway make you smile? Whose tread makes you wish your workplace had a secret exit?

Do you have a third place, someplace that is not home, and not work, but where you feel comfortable and visit often? Who else is there? Is there a thin man in the corner, intense and twitchy, pecking away at a battered laptop? Does the waiter, a young woman with dreads and fearsome tattoos, always smile broadly when she sees you come in? Does the manager make it a point to say hi?

Who ARE the people in your neighborhood–whether that neighborhood is the geographic area around your home, a place of work, a coffee shop, or a virtual environment you love to inhabit? Exploring the answers might just be your next great essay.


Trying to follow my own advice, here’s my blog post for this week:


Happy blogging, my neighbors in the WordPress Neighborhood!




Good morning, friends! I hope…

Good morning, friends! I hope your weekend is progressing nicely! I had the best adventure this week–one involving a big bargain, which is what my post is about today… I hope your adventures have been wonderful lately, too!


Good morning! Wondering if anyone…

Good morning! Wondering if anyone is in the path of the eclipse today, and how your August is wrapping up. I miss hearing your voices, and have been absent myself the last few weeks. Maybe we can liven up this space. I would love to hear just a few lines from you, telling what is happening in your world.


A Catch-Up Letter, Long Overdue

What if you had to write a letter, right here and right now, re-introducing yourself to someone you once held dear?


Let’s say you once had a very dear friend, the kind of friend you could talk to about anything. And life intervened, taking you in different directions, and your contact–at first fervid and frequent,–became leaner and more and more intermittent, until finally even the holiday cards dwindled and stopped. You missed that voice, that connection, but oh, your life was busy.

And years went by.

And then one day, you get a friend request, or a Twitter follow, and there’s that wonderful person! Back in your life, if only in a virtual kind of way.

But you decide, the two of you, to reconnect through handwritten letters. And you win the coin flip: you’ll go first.

What would you say?

Maybe you could start by describing the place in which you’re writing. “I’m sitting here in my dining room,” you might write, “and the morning sun is gentling in through the bay window. The house is quiet, and I’m ignoring a basket of laundry that needs to be folded. My crazy little dog is snuggled up next my feet, snoring deep people snores.”

Or you might be on the deck, in the sun, chasing an elusive morning breeze, or at your desk in your office, with the ringer on mute…But you write so that your recipient can picture your setting in the mind’s eye, and you can go on.

On, maybe, to more of the physical–would that dear friend know you today, passing on the street? “You’d recognize my hair,” you might write. “It’s still the same sleek auburn–but these days, I get it updated once a month at the hairdressers.” You might write about how your daily uniform has changed, the jeans and tees given way to khakis and polos or three piece power suits. That you’ve traded in stilettos or designer sneaks for comfortable working shoes. Are you plumper? Leaner? Bespectacled? Contact-lensed?

Now the person on the other end of the letter sees you, too.

And then you can go on to the important stuff–the beliefs you’ve shared, the values you hold, the things that make you happy.  “Remember how we used to say marriage was a bourgeois institution?” you might write. “Well, I’ve come to see its value…” And then you might describe the union that has brought you such unexpected happiness. You might write about what travel has taught you, and how you chose your current job and what you’ve learned from doing it.

You might write about beliefs you still hold dear, and how life has reinforced them.

And in the writing, you’ll share the people you call family, the passion that drives your days, and the things that bring you joy.

Then you might tell your friend what you remember most, what you loved best, about the old times. “Remember when we’d go to the ice cream shop on Sundays?” you might write. “We were usually a bit hung over, but the hot fudge would soothe us, and we would have long conversations, coming up with solutions that would save the world. We’d always end with a sigh, saying, ‘If only they’d ask for our opinions!'”

You add a few words, maybe of hope for reconnection, and you send that missive off, looking forward to a response. And you’re richer for having enjoyed the chance to think about who you are, what you value, how you’ve grown and changed.

What if you wrote a letter today to an old friend, reconnecting—even if that old friend is really younger you? What is it you would say?

#creative writing


Good morning, friends–I hope you…

Good morning, friends–I hope you are well this week. I’m hip-deep in a reno project. Those things never quite go as planned, do they? And we thought we’d save money by pursuing bargains, which hasn’t quite gone as planned, either.

And that inspired my post this week…

Happy blogging!