January Break

The truth of the matter is…I haven’t really missed Instagram this past month. Another truth? I didn’t get a whole heck of a lot of writing or work on my website done either. That was my intention — sort of anyway. BUT…I took lots of walks, did lots of baking, tried a new meditation app, did some hand sewing and knitting, read and reread good books, rediscovered other places to sit and look out the windows of our home, watched snow fall, heard gale winds howl, and rainstorms dance, and listened to classical music. The most radical act of all though was sitting and doing absolutely nothing else but put my arm around my furry beast, Oonagh, and allow myself to rest in that space and enjoy the sheer luxury of…doing nothing. The break has served me well. It’s an art you know. Tricia Hersey, of @thenapministry is an artist who speaks to this art in a language I understand. Perhaps she speaks it for you, too. 

Anchors, mothers, and matter


We earthlings need an anchor (our bodies) to contain the infinite energetic matter of our spirits. My body and direct experience help me hold it together. With virtual experience I become one of the ghosts in a machine. I don’t want to live in a machine. I will love being a ghost when it is my actual time and my spirit is freed from a material (mater, mother, matter) vessel, but I don’t want to be swapping out one vessel (my body) for another (a machine).

Inauguration Day

Whew! I’m just going to relish the feelings I have had all day — profound relief, a cautious optimism, and delirious happiness that at the very least, while he may not be who I wanted (Bernie always), I sure am happy to have Biden and Harris safely on board. Wise, experienced, compassionate, humble and intelligent leadership. The voices I heard speak today — from Biden to our brilliant poet laureate, Amanda Gorman — reflected many of my thoughts, acknowledging our weaknesses as a nation, but also recognizing our innate capacity for resilience, perseverance, and endurance. We are emerging from a dark time that has illuminated the worst of what we are as a nation for many of us. The white supremacist, racist, imperialist, better-than-you persona that lives deep in the bones and sinew of our collective American psyche, and how we move through a world we all share. The more I learn of the racism and supremacy inherent in the structure of our country, the foundations upon which it stands, the more I believe that until we eradicate that, we will again face another time of darkness like the past four years. And we may not be so lucky the next time. This is the gift of that second chance. I hope we don’t blow it. 

A Story for January

Yesterday was my parents’ 64th anniversary and although my mum slipped through the veil almost five years ago, I still like to take a walk down Memory Lane with my dad while I still can, so I called him  with some questions. There’s always little details about a family story we forget to ask…until it’s too late. Even though I have lots of my mother’s stories written (and many not), when I retell them I realize another new detail I forgot to ask her.
I’ve always known and loved my parents’ wedding story, have probably shared it countless times before, but really, what’s one more? A good story is a good story, right? And our memories can be fickle, the details morphing with new embellishments, or mingling with another person’s version of how they remember the experience.

My parents’ were married twice — both times to each other. I like to call the first marriage “the elopement.”
January 16, 1957 they married at town hall in East Greenwich, RI, most likely with my Aunt Carol and Uncle Harold witnessing. My mum was 18, my dad 20. He was the son of Irish Catholic immigrants, she was the orphaned daughter of Yankee Protestants. When my Irish grandmother learned of this, she had an absolute fit as they were “living in SIN!!!”
This is what lead to the second marriage, the one I call “The Sacrament.” Needless to say, my parents’ both needed rescue from this scandalous lifestyle.  My father marrying a Protestant was bad enough, but her future conversion was possible. However, this urgent matter of  “living in sin” had to be rectified, so on Feb 2 my parents were “re”-married at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in the Quincy parish they lived in. My uncle drove my grandparents (who didn’t drive) from Arlington to make certain of it. I imagine my Aunt Carol and Uncle Harold were also there providing “Protestant” “moral” support for my mother, who was a bit embarrassed and slightly humiliated by all the ruckus. At any rate, my parents went on to raise four little Catholic schoolgirls, borne within the bonds of HOLY MATRIMONY.

From Cup of Jo

“Says Kamina on what’s your word for 2021: “My word is DOG. Because:
1. Dogs only have four modes: sleep, play, eat, and jobs. (This is what I call the intense, self-important focus of a dog in work mode – whether digging a hole or helping a human cross the street.)
2. Whichever mode they are in, dogs are totally focused on that mode. Dogs don’t multitask.
3. Dogs are happy in all modes. Even jobs. Dogs love jobs.
I tend to be sulky, distracted and discontent and I want to try to be more dog in 2021”
From A Cup of Jo, posted 01.08.21 

Needless to say, I find it’s the perfect word for me, too — for this year and perhaps for every year. So many ways of making art with your “OLW/one little word/word of the year/whatever you want to call it”or you can let someone else make it for you. Colleen Attara crafts custom words once a year for customers — and she uses recycled plastic whenever she can to do so. She scripts and cuts your special word for you, and they are simple, but elegant. I’ve toyed with the idea of ordering one myself but have never quite gotten that far (is “gotten” even a word? Well, no matter, it is now😉). Haven’t been able to commit to just one word, but if I could, DOG would be the one I could get behind.

Daily Walks

It rained today, and although the rain cleared after a while, the puddles were huge, making our daily walk less than attractive. People have such a lack of awareness of others, as well as themselves, especially when rushing and driving fast —that if my feet aren’t getting soaked wading through the depths, cars flying through make waves that drench me from head to toe. Hence, no walk today, but we did take an extra long one yesterday into Hyannisport, along the shore near where the old train wharf used to go. It was pure blissful solitude, and a perfect opportunity to let Oonagh loose. Whenever we do, as I watch her, I feel such unleashed joy that one of these times (when the surf isn’t so cold), I am apt to join her. I am not a beach girl, but, dang, my girl just makes it look so delicious and inviting.

A Sense of Purpose


I’ve been meaning to get back in the weekly (at the very least) habit of writing on my blog again, partly because I am finding Instagram and its algorithms are not a conducive vehicle for deeper connection. That requires time — analog time — slow time, a slowing down of my time, a slowing down of your time. Social media has a propensity to speed us up rather than slow us down. It’s designed for short quick bursts of momentary engagement. Fine for a brief spell, but not really how I want to live my life. And by that I mean “spend my day,” for as Annie Dillard has written “how we spend our days is how we spend our lives.” I want deeper dialogues, discourses, discussion. I want more intentional connection. I love the luxury of aimless scrolling, don’t get me wrong, it’s how I often tumble down the rabbit hole of exquisite and magical delights, BUT…then it turns in to digital over-saturation, fueling an urgency to participate in it at an ever more breakneck pace. And frankly? I’m not wired for that. Are you? How can my wiring recover from misfiring or have a chance to reboot if I don’t disconnect — from the universal tether that is the worldwide web that ensnares me with wiles, charms, and the promise of always something more. I have to look at it as corporate ownership of my time and headspace. My world shrunk to a tiny screen. Curated. Performative. Without purpose. And I believe we all need a purpose. Writing and sharing is mine.


I’ve been hesitant to share a favorite place we’ve been escaping to for the past few months, mainly because like the South Coast, its open space, deep soul, and serenity may not remain so if non-kindred spirits discover these still-tranquil-trying-to-hang-on-to-what-little-is-left farming communities. Places that follow the slower rhythms of nature, and the seasons, where there is a synchronistic dance that happens between the land and the placeholders who nurture it as it does them. It’s a little village called Shelburne Falls, home to the famous Bridge of Flowers. On our last visit there, we witnessed an unexpected autumn wedding on the bridge, complete with violinist, and a couple of witnesses. We joined the tiny group of spectators gathered around. Magic happens in Shelburne Falls. And not just in Shelburne Falls, but in Turners Falls and Buckland, and other hill-towns in the foothills of the Berkshires. Mountains, hills, woods, and streams and rivers, those are the landscapes buried in my body that sing me alive when I visit.

What saves places like Shelburne Falls, besides those of us kindreds who land there, is its beastly winter weather, frigid and with epic snowfalls. That and its distance from the sea coast, since the majority of the population in the Eastern US lives along the seaboard. Fortunately for us, more folks love the sea and despise the snow. Let’s just not let slip about the spectacular springs, summers and autumns, shall we?

High points in Shelburne Falls for us:

Our delightful Airbnb hosts Marjorie and Peter, walking everywhere and cars stopping for us when we cross the streets, the Blue Rock Cafe and their welcoming staff (we’ve yet to be disappointed), the Sunday afternoon music jam in front of the coop, a morning latte from Mocha Maya’s and old-fashioned donuts from Foxtown Diner. Throughout the day we wander around the neighborhoods, and across the river, up and down, strolling through neighborhoods that are actually inhabited by local, year-round residents. And long about mid-afternoon, we make our way over to Floodwater Brewing for our midday porter, sometimes out on the back porch overlooking the river, sometimes sitting at the bar, chatting with Zack or a local musician, like Frankie. (Still hoping to fix him up with my friend, Diane.) Even our pooch, Bob acts like he belongs in Shelburne Falls. But he’s not telling anyone.

Living on the Wrong Side of the Bridge

One of my favorite memoirs from years ago was by an NPR writer, Carol Wasserman titled Swimming at Suppertime. It was about life on the wrong side of Buzzards Bay, in her case Wareham, which for me is actually the right side. But it’s always stuck with me, the title and subtitle — she was mourning the loss of her husband, in between writing,  living year-round, and swimming (at suppertime) with her lady friends in the gritty town of Wareham, Massachusetts — a stone’s throw (if you’ve got a good arm) — from chi-chi Cape Cod.

Me, I live on Cape Cod. I grew up here in between my father’s military tours in other places. And Wareham, Marion, Mattapoisett, and beyond — the Route 6 West corridor along Buzz Bay — is more like the Cape Cod I remember  from childhood and into my college years. It was more colorful, more real, more of a struggle, and more of a delight for those who survive here year-round, because we were all in the same boat.

We took a ride to Wellfleet a couple of weeks ago, hugging the back roads that wind along the backside of Route 28 on our way east. It was a Saturday on the brink of the full moon, and I was feeling hemmed in, crowded, suffocated, wanting to climb out of the box of this island-peninsula — serene and accessible open space is becoming rarer here, speed and traffic more prevalent. I want slow, meandering, and I feel more of that on the other side, even in the eastern Massachusetts land of more strip malls and industrial parks and more traffic — the sky and roads just seem to open up a bit more, I don’t feel as trapped.

I wanted to be back over the bridge — but as we rolled further along to our destination, I started feeling lighter, a little less encumbered — noticing the undulating marshlands and bogs with the crimsons, golds, and russets of a coastal autumn. As we moved beyond Chatham and Orleans, and on out towards Eastham and Wellfleet, I began to relax more. Off-season on the Outer Cape can be close to desolate, a stark contrast to what it is in the summer. It can truly feel like the edge of the world. Wellfleet was quiet, but not quite yet shifted in to winter mode. We parked down near the wharf, and walked up to and across Uncle Tim’s Bridge, for a walk around the tiny island that sits in the brackish water that empties into Wellfleet Harbor. Ah, peace, although not quite on my “right side of the bay,” but for that morning, for me, it worked. I relaxed, enjoying the view, the air, the outdoors, the ground beneath my feet, and contemplated what it must be like for people who don’t have either the time, or the means for these therapeutic escapes. Wellfleet is an example of what the rest of the cape has become — more of a playground for the wealthy, than a home for the rest of us.