In my mind I am often on Napatree. You're welcome to come along.

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April 30, 2015


It is spring. April. I am seventeen and have purchased my dress from Samuelson’s Department store. It is made of  blue green polished cotton fabric with a white eyelet top. It is, I feel, quite beautiful. My friend and I have traveled to Minneapolis on the train to pick out our shoes. My choice, white satin Capezio strap heels. The April days are warm and tender.  The landscape is turning green in a heavie rush.


Yesterday the air was soft and warm. The birds were busy being birds, the sky was devoid of clouds. The landscape again greening before our eyes. Warm days and late evening light coax out our memories. Once again, I am seventeen. Everyone is seventeen in April.

7:18 am cdt | link 

April 29, 2015

Here on this prairie, wetland landscape, there is a smallish tree, planted six or seven years ago, outside my workroom window. I look out as I write and see, in the budding silver maple, two immature starlings, two red winged blackbirds, a purple finch and three brown sparrows. It is only a small tree but it is big enough.

6:05 am cdt | link 

April 28, 2015


My mother died decades ago. I inherited her china. The china is Royal Doulton made in England, the pattern, Burgundy. The dishes are translucent, edged in silver with a gray/green border of grape leaves and grapes, hence the name. I have been hauling these dishes from home to home since I was married. In my mind they have always been my mother’s dishes. I remember her pride in owning china, I remember them filled with holiday food on a childhood Thanksgiving table, I remember them being used the night my brother brought the girl he later married to dinner,


The dishes, I have always thought, are not my style. Too pretty, too traditional, too old and too my mother. I could never claim them. Until I recently decided that I could. I could use these dishes every day because they were my mother’s and now they are mine. Last night we had take-out pizza and salad and I served this ordinary food on translucent plates bordered with grapes and grape leaves. And dinner looked beautiful.  

6:50 am cdt | link 

April 27, 2015


In the tall grass area circling a nearby pond, a man is picking up litter.  As I am in a hurry I do not stop the car and tell him thanks or join him in his task. But I want to. I have a thing about litter. I particularly have a thing about litter in wild places.


Recently I heard about a man in the Netherlands who bikes along a littered river on his way to work. This guy was angry about the litter he saw on his commute and one day decided to do something about it. He stopped and filled a single trash bag with litter, disposed of it and continued on his way to work. Now, every day he starts his bike commute to work one half hour earlier. During that half hour he picks up a single bag of trash. Others have joined him. Social media has become involved and people in other areas are getting involved in picking up litter in areas where they live and work.


I like this story and you can read more about it online if you google “Dutch man cleans an entire riverbank on his way to work.”  The Dutch artist tells the media that a person feels good when they pick up a bag of trash. I would agree.

6:18 am cdt | link 

April 26, 2015


Yesterday I attended the memorial service of a friend’s husband. It wasn’t a sorrowful service as the deceased had lived a long and distinguished life;  his interests and accomplishments had been many. He had also been ill for some time. But goodbyes of any sort come tinged with a degree of sadness. Parting is always sweet sorrow.


In the crowded sanctuary I sat with my thoughts, pondering these wise words that one of the speakers at the service, a medical doctor, said the deceased had taught him in college. “We get information not just by scientific means, by records and measurements. We get what we need to know, by observation.”

6:55 am cdt | link 

April 25, 2015


It’s true the landscape forms the mind. If I stand here long enough I’ll learn how to sing. None of that country and western heartbreak stuff, or operatic duels, but something cool as the blues, or close to a Navajo woman singing early in the morning.


These are the words of poet Joy Harjo. But I wish they were mine. 

7:01 am cdt | link 

April 24, 2015


It was around noon and a woman stood at the back of her car in the Econo Foods parking lot eating. Spread out on the trunk of her car was what appeared to be her lunch. Not wanting to stare too much, I did notice several deli containers into one of which she appeared to be dipping a piece of chicken. I also noticed a can of soda and a bag of chips. It was sunny out but not exactly warm. The woman, casually dressed, appeared to be enjoying her less usual tailgate repast. I enjoyed seeing her eat.


A very old man and a younger companion stood in line ahead of me. The person helping the pair was kind to the fragile man who at one point said this to her. “Oh, I am so worthless now.” I did not hear the woman’s murmured reply but I heard what the old man’s companion said to him. “My dad always said this. No one is worthless because even the worthless can serve as a bad example.” Amused, the old man threw back his head and laughed.  I was amused, too.  

6:15 am cdt | link 

April 23, 2015


The children are taking a class trip to the zoo. They have been amassing information about the creatures they might find in the aquarium. On a large bulletin board in the hall outside the classroom, they have drawn, and cut out, pictures of the various aquarium denizens they hope to see: eels, sea horses, fish, turtles, clams and sharks. They have written a sentence or two of information about each creature which is attached to the drawings.


Becky and I spend several minutes looking at the bulletin board. She proudly reads out loud the sentences alongside each picture. She is quiet for a moment before turning to me with questioning eyes and asking this: “They keep the sharks behind glass where they can’t get to people, don’t they?”   

5:54 am cdt | link 

April 22, 2015


The news of thousands of immigrants fleeing from intolerable conditions is difficult to hear. Hundreds of adults and children crammed into unsafe boots, boats which flounder and capsize killing their occupants.  The world watches. What can be done?


Yesterday I received news of a college friend’s death. This friend was a newspaper writer whose words I have often read. For some time I have been meaning to be in contact with this friend, tell him that his words resonated with me, had meaning for me. I would think of contacting him and then I would move on to something else. A little later, I would think of being in touch with him again and procrastinate once more. All those adages about putting off until tomorrow, that someday is not a day of the week, that procrastination is opportunity’s assassin, true. Those words are true.

6:01 am cdt | link 

April 21, 2015


Last evening, two soccer teams practiced on the fields I can see from my window. One girls team, one comprised of older boys. Spring is here.


Soccer is a favorite sport of mine. I enjoy watching a soccer match and I enjoyed playing when I was young. I was pleased that my sons played soccer. One of the reasons I appreciate the game is that it requires little in the way of equipment. A good ball, maybe soccer cleats and shin guards though neither are always necessary. Nor does soccer require brute strength or height. It requires, on a level that most kids play it, only a team sense and a ball sense and a desire. That’s about it. As kids, my sons played on travel teams. One played defense, the other was a striker. They had uniforms and coaches who coached to win. Years later I asked one of the boys what was his best time playing soccer. He said this. “My best soccer memories are of playing pick-up games after supper behind the school with the kids from the neighborhood. Maybe some dads joined us, some older sisters, some younger brothers. All sorts of different people. I remember those games as fun.”

6:28 am cdt | link 

April 20, 2014

I’m suspicious of people who don’t like dogs. But I trust a dog who doesn’t like a person.

6:13 am cdt | link 

April 19, 2015

One day it is winter. The day after, the neighborhood is clustered around a backyard grill. To the accompaniment of spring peepers, redwing blackbirds and children playing, fathers in shorts and baseball caps superintend barbeque grills flipping hamburgers, hot dogs, marinated chicken pieces, skewers of vegetables alternating with cubes of pork. When supper is eaten in the backyard, on the patio, the deck, the world feels ordinary and right and American and the aroma of summer cooking smells only good.

7:58 am cdt | link 

April 18, 2015


Thoreau has nothing on me. I am at Walden Pond. Not the Walden Pond, which is a huge pond in Massachusetts, but at the little wetland pond behind my Northfield condominium. A beautiful but nameless place. I am here not with the deliberateness that brought Thoreau to Concord and Walden, but here because I just happen to be. Though like Thoreau, my observations of today: a snowy egret, a pair of hooded merganser ducks and the usual residents of muskrat, heron, frogs and birds, are like his, non-scientific. I do not observe objectively without judgement or passion. What I see in this system of life I ascribe with feeling words. I cannot watch two stately geese upside down in the water and not be amused, observe a heron high stepping through the shallows and not stop what I am doing.


Thoreau was a wise man; I am heeding his words:  "I am here to learn what this place has to teach me."

6:13 am cdt | link 

April 17, 2015


"Life is Too Short" quotes, of which there are many:

Life is too short to be living somebody else’s dream. Hugh Hefner

Life is too short to be doing the things you don’t love doing. Bruce Dickenson

Life is too short to work so hard. Vivian Leigh

Life is too short for long term grudges.  Elon Musk


Or my favorite, which I recently saw in the Electric Goat bead store:

Life is too short to wear department store jewelry.

6:54 am cdt | link 

April 16, 2015


What I knew about muskrats before today was just about nothing. I had heard of the "Muskrat Ramble" and a song called "Muskrat Love" made famous by Captain and Tennille, and that was about it. But with a muskrat appearing daily in the pond I needed to know more.


Muskrats are named muskrats because of a musky odor produced when they mark their territory.  They are members of the family cricetidae and have thick fur and a tail with scales which helps propel them through the water. They are found across the United States and prolificly produce offspring. They are important in Native American mythology as they are attributed with bringing mud up from the sea to form the earth. That’s it. That’s what I now know. But I have my field glass close at hand. And I am watching. 

5:45 am cdt | link 

April 15, 2015


For years we’ve lit a candle for breakfast and for dinner. I suppose it started on a holiday and then just continued because the forgotten candle remained on the table. However the candle ritual got its start, it has become addictive and now seems as necessary as a fork, a spoon, to the two meals. The candles can be of any variety: fat, tall, votive, whatever. Just a candle. A candle in the morning gives off a feeling of warm energy that can be needed to begin the day in any season of the year. A candle at a dinner, which is really just a supper, makes whatever you’re eating taste better.


A friend who makes candles gave me one for Valentine’s Day. Of substantial size, red wax winds its way through a tall rectangle of white wax. Lit, it glows with pretty light. It has been burned twice daily since mid-February and has recently been cut down to expose more burning area. It is at the end of its rope, or wick. What I like about this candle is that it was made by someone who you might not ever guess would make candles. A closet candle maker.

7:11 am cdt | link 

April 14, 2015


Standing in a room filled with Native American treasures, I copy these words affixed to the wall:


“Art is a survival process related to our aptitudes, our coping skills, our environment. Artists are the preservers of the inner spirit."


- Vic Runnels  Oglala Lakota



6:29 am cdt | link 

April 13, 2015

This year’s Masters Golf Tournament was won, on Sunday, by a 21-year-old player from Texas. I happened on the last day of the televised event and surprised myself by being hooked. The azalea bordered course, the birds in the background, the golf clothes, the crowds of people in big hats and sunglasses. The golf. I own a set of golf clubs, I have played golf. I have played golf poorly and because of that, I do not care for the game. But in spite of not enjoying golf, I can appreciate it when it is played with the skill and finesse that I watched it being played on Sunday and I only half subscribe to this quote from "National Lampoon." “If you want to take long walks, take long walks. It you want to hit things with a stick, hit things with a stick. But there’s no excuse for combining the two and putting the results on TV. Golf is not so much a sport as an insult to lawns."

6:06 am cdt | link 

April 12, 2015

My purse weighs 2 lbs 4 oz. The average purse is said to weigh about six pounds. I travel light. Yesterday I weighed my purse at the Purse-onality Exhibit at the Old Court House Museum where I also saw beautiful purses on exhibit dating from the late 1800’s to the present. Purses from the Victorian era were called reticules. Before reticules women carried what they needed in pockets sewed into their underwear. I enjoyed looking at the purses at the exhibit, recognizing the purse styles of my mother and grandmother, my college years.

Purses contain the necessities of a woman’s life and express her personality and interests. They can, according to the exhibit, be referred to as our alter egos. Women are connected to their purses. Just picture the Queen.   


7:18 am cdt | link 

April 11, 2015

I am west of Napatree. Far west of Napatree in unfamiliar territory where the men wear cowboy hats and the women jean jackets studded with rhinestones. Last night’s dinner was eaten in a diner and was followed by a poetry slam in a coffee house. Cattle speckle the horizon of this place and the sky is so big there are not enough clouds to cover it. Here different sounds occupy my attention and it is impossible to hear the ocean. 

8:18 am cdt | link 

April 10, 2015

Gypsy Jazz, my new discovery. There were 17 men and women sitting in the circle which included fiddle players, guitar players, mandolin players, a banjo player, a dobro player, three bass players, an accordion player, an alto saxophonist, a cellist and a trumpeter. These disparate musicians played together and it sounded wonderful. They passed along their jazz solos in the Eagles Club where the audience clapped and whistled, where the listeners had fun because the musicians were having fun. Wednesday night I learned this little code about a particular style of French music, A-B, A-C, A. I learned even more about musical sharing, musical kindness and musical support.  

8:05 am cdt | link 

April 9, 2015


I have a new accessory. Binoculars. Lately, I have turned into Miley Bull, a naturalist in Connecticut who has long been involved in the Connecticut Audubon Society and who, whenever I saw him, sported field glasses. My attachment to binoculars started in January with the rabbits, with the red fox. Shortly after that, it was the occasional eagle sighting. When the pond ice began to melt there were the mallards. Two pair and the extra male who was very slow, in spite of some aggressive behavior on the part of the paired males, to throw in the towel.


The mallards were followed by the geese pair, the playful muskrat and the contemplative blue heron. Also demanding my time now are the red-winged blackbirds, the finches, the robins and the numerous little brown sparrow types. The plain birds. But a couple of days ago, a surprise. Two pairs of migrating Bufflehead ducks appeared on the pond. There they were. The males, black and white and beautiful, the drabber females alongside them diving and staying under water for long periods, doing what ducks do. And there I was, watching from my desk window. With, my binoculars. 

7:02 am cdt | link 

April 8, 2015


Yesterday the lyrics for the song "American Pie", written by Don McLean, sold at auction for 1.2 million dollars.


I was in the Knight family basement rec room when Peter Knight wanted everyone to listen to a record he’d purchased that day, a long song called "America Pie" with lyrics that were not about love, not about political protest. Lyrics that we couldn’t figure out that night when we heard them for the first time, lyrics that people are still trying to figure out today.


For years I did research for the not-for-profit environmental group, American P.I.E., Public Information on the Environment. I remember our group received a threatening letter from Don McLean’s law firm saying the name American P.I.E. was ‘taken’ and we could no longer use it. I recall it was a scary letter. I also recall the American P.I.E. named stayed and our group was not sued. A fleeting brush with Chevy to the levy man, Don McLean.


I do not own a recording of "American Pie" but I do have a cookbook with the same name. My favorite recipe in the book is for a butterscotch pie. It’s delicious.

7:15 am cdt | link 

April 7, 2015


Words to walk on.


It’s okay.

No one’s watching.

You can dance.

6:19 am cdt | link 

April 6, 2015


With two teams left in the competition and some connection to one of the teams, it is easy to be caught up in a final NCAA game. Born in Wisconsin, my allegiance is to the underdog, University of Wisconsin team. Living in Connecticut, I was a supporter of Geno Auriemma’s women’s teams, Jim Calhoun’s men’s teams. The Connecticut women’s team always a team to be reckoned with and most always a winner.


Never really playing basketball, except for the occasional game of horse, I went with my dad, as a young kid, to high school and college games. When I was a student in high school, our high school team was twice a state champion. My sons were tall and played basketball in youth leagues before being caught up in other sports, our family homes were always attached to a basketball hoop. Also living close to Boston, it was hard not to follow the play of Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Dennis Johnson, the Boston Celtic dynasty.  I plan on catching at least some of tonight’s game. Go, Badgers!

6:31 am cdt | link 

April 5, 2015

Happy Easter!

5:09 pm cdt | link 

April 4, 2015

Little surprises happen. Though I read music, I am not a good singer. I have never sung in a choir of any sort and I don’t particularly like listening to choirs and choruses, even the fabulous and famous ones. A community sing-a-long was not my idea of a great evening. But there I was in Carleton’s Concert Hall raising my voice and clapping my hands under the direction of the incredibly talented Ysaye Barnwell from Sweet Honey in The Rock. I was singing, and enjoying it. On a spring night before Easter, a venue crowded with people of all ages sang, moved to the music, smiled and laughed and kept time with their feet and in doing so, became a community of feeling, of power, of song.  And I, delighted to be a part of it.

8:09 am cdt | link 

April 3, 2015

An upside down day shot through with worry found me at River Bend Nature Center with the spring frogs. The Chorus Frogs, the Wood  Fogs, the Leopard  Frogs and the Spring  Peepers. The wet areas resounded with their vocalizations and the sounds were music to my ears.

6:53 am cdt | link 

April 2, 2015

Knowing I love looking at the period clothes, the exceptionally beautiful clothes worn on the PBS series, "Downton Abby," yesterday a friend passed along a book picturing and detailing the constantly changing wardrobes. I enjoyed perusing it. I also enjoyed the words of Violet, the family matriarch, on the inside front cover. “No family is ever what it seems from the outside."

6:03 am cdt | link 

April 1, 2015

The writing prompt for today is fear. I have Woody Allen genes, I am a fearful person. As a kid I was not afraid of monsters or Bogey men, I don’t remember being afraid of spiders or garden snakes, either. But I wasn’t excited about clowns and my friend Helen and I were flat out afraid of Herbie Zunker, the bully on our street that threw snowballs and rocks. Because of this fear we would cross the street before we passed his house and run as fast as we could to the safety of the corner market where we bought wax lips and some sort of sweet syrup in a waxy bottle we would chew after we had consumed the syrup. Our fear of Herbie was real as was the reward of penny candy. Fear can also have positive effects. Both Helen and I were skinny kids, in spite of the candy, and we were both fast runners.

8:54 am cdt | link 

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