I’ve Got BIG Plans for New Year’s Eve!

It’s almost here! Huzzah!!!

Woot!! Woot!! Woot!!!

It is almost time to mark ourselves “Safe from 2020”!!

Such a festive and exciting evening! I just love New Year, with all it’s hope and happiness and all that other upbeat crap.

Of course, this year we won’t be going out for the usual midnight revelry with friends and family. We won’t be crowding into the city streets to sing and clap and watch the fireworks.

Instead, we’ll have a Happy New Year’s Hunker.

I’m going to make egg rolls!

I’m also going to try out a few quainte olde traditions of the past to increase the fun. And to increase the chances that I’ll make it safely through 2021.

For example, I’ve been reading a lot about the fascinating ancient times when pagans across Europe celebrated the solstice to welcome in the new year with health and prosperity. I learned that they would bring evergreen boughs inside the house, light special candles and bang on drums at midnight to chase away the old luck and welcome in the new.


Lot’s of cultures have special traditions about what to eat and drink on New Year’s Eve, what to wear, what to say, and even specifically how to act. All to insure good luck in the next twelve months. Really interesting stuff!

So, here is my plan for New Year’s Eve as we finally kick 2020 to the curb and welcome 2021 into our loving embrace. I share it with you because I love you.

Also because I hope if enough of us finally start cooperating on something, life will be way more fun next year.

I plan to get out of bed around 8 AM. I’ll take a shower, but this old body is literally that last thing I plan to clean that day. Did you know that some cultures believe that you shouldn’t wash or clean one single thing on New Year’s Eve? No cleaning allowed.

I just love this one.

In some other countries, including Italy, you’re supposed to organize everything ahead of time and throw out all of your old clutter. Been there, done that. Been organizing ever since the lockdown started last March. So I’ll jump right into the no cleaning part of the day.

First I’ll grab some onions from my kitchen and tie them together with red yarn. Next I will hang them on my front door. Because Greek tradition tells me that I should.

Next I will venture outside to the woods. There I will gather an armload of evergreen boughs. This will be easy. The winter of 2020 has already given us three wind storms, so all I have to do is pick up some of the branches lying around.

Back inside the house, I’ll ignore all the dropped pine needles (no cleaning, remember?!) and arrange everything in a basket. I’ll put out three white candles, but I won’t light them until the sun goes down.

When that is done, I’ll grab a bundle of sage, or sweetgrass (what the heck is that, anyway?), or pine needles. I’ll light them on fire, blow out the flame and let the whole thing smoke. This is so I can “smudge” the house and get rid of any bad luck.

(Um….maybe someone should have suggested this last May???)

At last, it will be time to think about food.

Yes, I know. Some of us are always thinking about food. Move on.

In addition to my eggrolls, Paul and I will be dining on lentils, because they are shaped like coins. Really, teeny weeny coins, but still. Prosperity. We will also eat black eyed peas and collard greens, because eating these traditional foods will also bring prosperity. I don’t actually see the connection between black eyes and prosperity, but I’m not taking any chances.

This is where things get really fun.

Did you know that in Italy it is customary to wear red underwear on New Year’s Eve? I have no idea how this brings good luck, but depending on the underwear and age of the wearer, I can see where it might lead.

At any rate, after enjoying our prosperity veggies, Paul and I will change into our red flannel long johns and settle down to enjoy some delicious herring while snuggling under a lovely fur. (Said fur is supposed to be a coat, but I don’t have a fur coat. I’m hoping that having our big dogs on our laps will count for this one.)

As midnight approaches, we will light the three white candles that are arranged around the basket of pine boughs. We will chant something along the lines of

“Begone olde year, you stinking crone! We’re sick of hunkering alone. Welcome, New Maid, to set us free of masks and shots! So mote it be.”

I took some liberties with the chant, but you get the general idea, right?

Next it will be time to open up the front door and all the windows to let out the bad luck and welcome in the new.

(This is probably where the fur comes in handy.)

When all the luck has changed, and the house is down to about 4 degrees, we’ll eat the last bite of herring and move right onto dessert. It’s a good thing Paul doesn’t like lentils, collard greens or herring because he’ll have plenty of room to indulge in luck enhancing fried dough in various shapes and sizes and stuffed with various fillings. M’hm.

I suspect that the post holiday dieting tradition may have started here.

And…..as the moment finally arrives…..as the countdown at last counts down, we will ring bells, bang on pots and pans, kiss each other with love and joy and eat exactly twelve green grapes.

We will lean out the open windows, and yell into the cold night air.

“Good riddance, 2020!!! And don’t come back!!!”

We will close all the windows, turn up the heat, blow out the candles and have one last eggroll before bed.

And in the morning, as prescribed by Irish tradition, the first person to cross our threshold will be a tall, dark, handsome man. Good thing our daughter didn’t marry a redhead.

And it will be off to 2021, which we are absolutely sure will be a year of health, happiness, weddings, parties, hugs, kisses, singing, birthday parties and visible smiles.

Happy New Year, friends!

“Time Keeps On Slipping Into the Future.”

Sometimes, like all of us, I wish that I could make time run in reverse, and go back to earlier days.

I wish that I could visit my childhood again. I’d still have both of my parents. My Dad would be alive and full of fun and handsome and strong. My Mom would still be his beautiful bride, and their six kids would giggle as he pulled her into his arms for a kiss before dinner.

I wish that I could reclaim the sense of endless hope that pervaded those days. When I’d sit in the backyard and gaze at the full moon and dream of the adventurous and romantic life I’d lead one day.

More than that, though, even more than that: I wish that I could hit rewind, just for a few minutes, to see my three little children playing on the living room rug. I wish I could hold each of them in my arms, my beautiful babies. I wish I could hear those voices, laughing or crying, or calling “Mom!”

But time doesn’t work that way, does it? No matter how much we want to hold onto the past, or hold onto today, all of it keeps slipping into the future. And as impossible as it seems, here we sit on the eve of the year 2019.

I will turn 63 this year. My Mom will turn 89. Both are impossible from the vantage point of my heart.

My oldest child will turn 33, and her oldest will turn 4.

Impossible. Unbelievable. Somehow all of it simply wrong. Too soon, too quick, too rushed.

I am not ready.

And that’s the beauty of the whole thing. Time doesn’t care if we are ready. Time doesn’t care if we have grasped our own mortality, or if we’ve accepted the losses that it has brought us.

Time keeps on slipping into the future.

So what is that I wish for in my 63rd year of this wonderful, tiring, surprising, inspiring life?

I wish for another year with all of my children and their partners happy, healthy and filled with hope. I wish for a year of growth and new adventures and continued good health for my grandchildren, my best beloveds.

I wish, with all my heart, for another year with my Mom on this earth. I wish for more shared meals, more jigsaw puzzles, more hours spent pouring over old photo albums. Her memory is weak, so sometimes these jaunts into the past are more upsetting than pleasant. Even so, I wish for more time with her as the rudder in my life.

For my country, I wish for a year of healing. Somehow, some way, I hope that we can find our way back to the days of arguing without hatred. I hope and I wish and I pray that something will change to bring us out of these dangerous times and help us find our way back toward some sense of national unity.

Time keeps on slipping into the future.

We can’t turn it back. We can’t stop it.

We can only keep moving forward, faster and faster every year, keeping our minds and our hearts open to each other. Trying to grow and learn and improve.

Wishing all of you a Happy, Healthy, Joyful 2019.

Time Keeps On Slipping

I Resolve to

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  • I Resolve to:  stop making resolutions.   I mean, jeez, I already work pretty hard at being the best human being I can be.  What else is there to add?
  • I Resolve to: give myself some credit already.   OK, so I am not Martha Stewart.  My curtains don’t match my socks, my hair color isn’t coordinated with my napkins.  But I’m not a convicted felon either.  I guess I’m ok the way I am!
  • I Resolve to: laugh more often.  The hell with it.  I will watch stupid TV when I want to, and I will laugh out loud at Gunsmoke if I want to.
  • I Resolve to: stop telling myself that this is the year when I’ll suddenly become hip/svelte/athletic/spontaneous.  I will NOT run a marathon this year.  Nope. Nuh, uh. Ain’t gonna happen.    I will NOT suddenly decide to fly to Paris to pursue a singing career.  Seriously, dude? Nope.   I will not decide to sell my house and finally buy that bungalow by the beach.
  • I Resolve to:greet January 1st as that annoying day when I have to find the new calendar that I bought in October and transfer all of the family birthdays to it.
  • I Resolve to:look at January 1st as the first day that I have to try to remember what the hell the new year actually is.  AND I resolve to forgive myself if at any time between January 1st and August 31st  I sign a check and date it as 1991.
  • I Resolve to:to be mostly happy with the me that has evolved over the past 60 years.  I resolve to smile at her, to pat her on the back for her herculean efforts at keeping her old dogs alive and happy.  I resolve to remind her that she will never be this young again.  I resolve to put an arm around the 60 year old me and whisper in her ear, “You did a pretty damn good job with those kids, honey.”
  • I resolve, in this new year, to be happy with myself while still trying to learn more, grow more, evolve more and accept more.
  • Finally, I resolve, in this year of our Lord 2016, to cast my Presidential vote for someone who will not disgust or dishonor us, for someone who shares my views, for someone I’d be proud to call my President.
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Resolving to find my “glittering eyes”.


I guess I am basically a simple person, looking for simple answers.  I like ideas that can be wrapped up as neatly as a little burrito and held in my hand.

I also like ideas that are expressed both clearly and beautifully.

So as I sit here on this frigid last morning of the year, I have been searching for a quote that can guide me through 2015.  I know better than to make resolutions at my age.  There is no chance that I’m suddenly going to get in shape or embrace an exercise plan.  I’m pretty sure that I won’t actually learn to knit or teach myself Italian, although I’d love to do both.  I already work hard at being a kinder, more patient, more accepting person, so there’s no need for a resolution about it.

Instead, I have decided to look for the perfect quote. Something that I can print out and hang up on my classroom wall. Something I can keep in my wallet and pull out when I’m feeling overwhelmed or frustrated or just plain crabby.

I started with political quotes, but I already strongly agree with all the best ones.  Like this one, from John Adams:

“There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”

Pretty cool to find that John Adams said exactly what I’ve been saying!  I felt smart, but didn’t think that was a quote to live by, you know?

Then I thought maybe I could find a quote from song lyrics.  Maybe Bruce Springsteen could help?  Alas, in the end I decided that its a little bit too late to “get out while we’re young”.   I kept looking.

And I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I found the perfect quote from one of my favorite authors.  Roald Dahl, author of so many magical, whimsical, powerful children’s books, said this:

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

Isn’t that wonderful?

So this is what I will try to do this year.  I will try very hard to watch the whole world around me with glittering eyes. I will try to look past the ugliness and the violence. I will try not to focus on the drudgery or the sameness or the repetition that is such a big part of everyday life.   I will keep my eyes on the children in my care, those children who are so very good at seeing magic, and who all have those glittering eyes.  I will look for the small sparks that inhabit the icy winter world, and those that come with the emerging spring.  I’ll try to appreciate the heat of summer and the crispness of the fall.

Most of all, I will try hard throughout 2015 to find the secrets and the magic in the people around me, even the grownup people.  I will try to keep myself open to them, and see that they all hold great beauty inside them.

Happy New Year, my dear friends!  May you keep your belief in magic, and may you find it in the most unlikely places!

The Green Man

Whose tracks are these?

Whose tracks are these?

Sometimes I can feel my pagan ancestors rising up inside me.

Oh, I know.   I am a very modern American, living in the far too overcrowded Northeast.  I grew up in the suburbs of Boston, and went to college in that teeming city. What pagan past?

I was raised as a Catholic: how “anti-pagan” can you possibly get? I went to church in a nice modern building.  I learned to pray under bright electric lights.

And yet, sometimes I can feel my ancient pagan past rising up inside of me, speaking of fears and dreams and magic that is a part of my bones.  A pagan past that somehow has never been smoothed away by education or social interaction or modern technology.

I feel it on hot summer nights, when the moon rises over the wetlands behind our house. When I lie awake to hear the sounds of rushing water and hunting owls and cicadas crying in the woods. On those nights, the world of pagan spirits seems benign and gentle, and I am lulled by its pull on my heart.

But in winter, I feel those ancient spirits in a darker and more frightening way.

In winter, the wind and the night conspire to remind me of  how my ancestors once felt about the shortest day, and the onset of the darkness.

I live in a place where there are woods almost all around me.  For three seasons of the year, this is a great gift.  I see deer and fox and raccoons and pheasants wandering under those trees. For three seasons of the year, the woods mean abundant life, and peace and health and comfort.  We listen for the “peepers” in spring, to signal that the great awakening has begun, and that everything is about to burst into bloom.   In summer, we listen for the sound of hunting owls, the calls of coyotes, the singing of night birds.  And in the fall, sometimes we can even hear the smacking sound of antlers as deer and moose turn on the testosterone and fight for the best of the females.

For those three seasons, it feels exhilarating and exciting to be a part of the natural world.

But in winter, everything is so different.

SONY DSCIn winter, I look out my kitchen window and I see the spindly shapes of the leafless branches, the sinister twists of the trees against the glowering sky.  In winter, when I look into the woods from the safety of my deck, I hear the sounds of branches creaking and of wind moving restlessly through the pines.

In the winter, the woods are dark so early, and there are so many shadows.  I look out to find the moon, but when it rises from behind the frozen wetlands, it looks as if it is covered in frost.

When I go outside in the early winter light, I find strange tracks in the snow, and I imagine the dangerous predators who stalk around our house while we sleep.

When I come home after dark, to our quiet, nearly empty neighborhood, and into my quiet, nearly empty house, I feel the ancient winter spirits nipping at my heels and I shiver in fear until I am inside, and the fire is lit and the kitchen is filled with good warm smells.

At those moments, on those dark winter nights, I can understand why the ancients celebrated the beauty and hopefulness of the evergreens.  I know why they honored “The Green Man” with his ever lasting life and his ability to stand up to the darkness.

I am in no hurry to take my Christmas tree out of my living room, or to throw out the baskets of pine boughs on my hutch.

My pagan self is resisting the angry bite of the swirling snow as I light the candles and simmer the soup, and throw another log on the fire.

Happy Winter Solstice.  Happy New Year.  May we all endure until the coming of spring!



OK. This REALLY isn’t funny.


I don’t usually consider myself to be paranoid.  I am not likely to fall for most conspiracy theories.  I mean, I think there really were shots from the book depository, and not from the grassy knoll. (Proving my age, I know!) I don’t think that the government orchestrated the events on 9/11.

But I did read “1984” way back in the 70’s, and I do worry that Big Brother is watching me.  Sometimes I get nervous that the government tracks our every move and thought and phone call, especially when I think about legislative gems like the “Patriot Act.” Then I realize that this is the same government that’s trying to run the Department of Education, and I feel better.  There is no WAY that multi-layered bureaucracy could ever manage to find me, much less track me down.  I hope.

There is, however, a much more sinister force at work, tracking us and trolling through our on-line activities.  That force is the business world; those warm and fuzzy people who spend every moment of their working lives trying to get us to spend more of our money on whatever it is that they sell.

Don’t believe me?  Look to the right side of your email screen and check out the ads.  I noticed this phenomenon about a year ago (I am not the most high tech person in the room, sorry.)  I was emailing my sister about various mundane topics, including her cat and my Mom’s leaking roof.  I glanced off to the right side of my gmail page, and saw a flashing commercial, advertising cat food.  Huh. “Funny coincidence”, I thought, until I saw the ad for a roofing company just below it.   If I email about my headache, I get an ad for a pain clinic. Write about making chicken parmagiana, and there’s an ad for tomato paste.  It can be sort of funny at times; you can make a reference to some public figure, calling him a “pimple on the butt of humanity”, and voila!  An ad for acne cream appears within moments.

I find it mildly creepy, but so far I’ve been able to shrug it off as just the cost of participating in modern life. I have never felt truly bothered by the long arm of capitalism until tonight.

Now I am more than a little freaked out.

A few days ago, you see, I wrote what I thought was a mildly amusing, slightly pathetic blog post in which I whined and moaned about my uninteresting New Year’s Eve.  I recounted (with a little bit of artistic license) a very frustrating interaction that I had had with the mega corporation Comcast.   They weren’t particularly efficient or organized, and I ended up having a little tantrum after dealing with them.  Thought I’d get a laugh or two from my very small group of readers.  Ha ha, poor old Momshieb, she’s a wreck!   Then I kind of forgot about it.

Until tonight!

When I logged on to my email after work, I saw that I had a new comment on my blog. Yippee!  I am not exactly the Pioneer Woman here, so every comment is a source of amazement and pleasure.   I clicked to see who had enjoyed my little rant.

“What?!”  I opened the blog, clicked on comments, and reread this one, just to be sure that I wasn’t hallucinating.

Nope. Not my over active, slightly paranoid imagination.   This was a real, true, honest-to-goodness comment from a “person” who apologized for the poor performance of Comcast, and offered to help me to “straighten out” my bill.     Say, WHAT?!?

How did “Mark” from Comcast find my teeny tiny blog post out there among the hundreds of millions of posts that went up in the past two days?  What could this mean?

Clearly, Big Brother and the Mega Company are out there, monitoring and trolling and phishing through all of our words, looking for key phrases (like “Comcast really SUCKS”.)  They latch on, and send out a cyber message.

I have a funny feeling that “Mark” is a Mac, but what do I know.  I suspect that this company is aware that some of its business practices are crappy, so it keeps its electronic eyes focused out there to pick up each and every complaint.

Well, Comcast, here is what you have achieved with this middle aged progressive anti-capitalist.  I am completely and totally creeped out to think of you lurking out there monitoring my speech.  I don’t want to contact you to fix anything.  I just truly want to find a way to avoid doing any further business with you at any time.

Meanwhile, I think I will complain about Starbucks coffee for a bit.  Maybe I can get a free latte.

It isn’t funny.


Yesterday, New Year’s Eve 2011, was not a funny day.   I woke up sad.  All three kids were off living their lives, and I wasn’t  even sure what they had planned for the night. I didn’t know where they would be.  How could I be sure they’d be safe, if I didn’t even know what city they’d be in?!  I couldn’t help recalling New Year’s past, when the five of us would play “Yahtzee” and stay up late to eat chocolate fondue together.   Midnight hugs and kisses, excited wishes for the year to come, waking Dad up to see the ball drop….it was all in my head as I started the day.

I tried to shake it off, honest I did!   I’m happy with my quietly empty nest.  Most days.   I like the neat kitchen, the clean bathroom, the full fridge.  Usually.  I’m excited for the kids, impressed with their independence and maturity.   I am!   Most days.

Yesterday, though…..not so much.  Yesterday I just woke up sad and couldn’t shake it off. I woke up feeling sorry for myself, and that is never a good way to start the day.

Paul had a bad cold, and felt really awful.  We had no plans for the evening, in part because he needed to lay low and recover.  I understood.  Really.  We had no party, no dinner reservations, no “First Night” plans.  I came into the biggest party day of the year as if it was just another Saturday.  I tried to shake off the blues.

I did some laundry, vaccuumed, cleaned up the kitchen.   Our dog, Sadie, needed one of her special “medicated” baths to help with her ongoing skin issues.    I spent an hour holding her in place in the bathtub as I squirted the shampoo into the water, poured bucket after bucket over her unbelievably dense fur, and rubbed it all into her chest, back, legs and head.  Then I spent 20 minutes trying to rinse her off. I had the shower head clasped in one hand while the other hand desperately pulled on her collar, trying to keep her inside the tub.  “Good girl! Good dog!” I kept panting, as I pushed her big head back into the shower stall with my chest. “You’re doing great!”   Add in the 30 or so minutes of blowing her dry while holding her in place, and you can understand why I got to 1 o’clock with every muscle in my butt, legs and back screaming in pain.

My feeling-sorry-for-myselfness only increased at that point.

Then Paul asked me to just make a quick call to Comcast to find out if our billing was straightened out.  He was going outside in the cold to get wood for the stove; what could I do, complain?  I grumbled a reply, then cursed (just a little) under my breath.  How many other women were making billing calls on New Year’s Eve, huh? Weren’t they all out getting pedicures and taking naps in preparation for the glittering dinner parties later on? I felt more than a little virtuous as I got out my computer and logged on to the Comcast site. Virtuous and pissed off, all rolled into one.

At this point in the story, you need a little background.  So bear with me.

Like a whole lot of other Americans, we recently realized that it was not in our best interest to keep our (tiny) bank account with Bank of America.  We made the decision to switch to a local Credit Union, and so we did.  Over the past month, we have called every business where we had an automatic withdrawal set up.  We thought that all was well.

But this is 2011 (OK,  it was 2011 yesterday). NOTHING is easy in this age of computer “accessibility”. Things have gotten slightly messed up this past month.   On Friday, Dec. 30th, I got a call (on my Verizon cell phone) from Comcast.  It said, “There is a problem with the credit card that we have on file. Please call or go on line to update your account.”

‘Kay.   So yesterday, at Paul’s request,  I went on line, and tried to log into my Comcast account. Huh.  I seem to have forgotten the password. I couldn’t get in.  No problem.  There was a button that said, “Click to reset password.”   I clicked.


About ten seconds later, I got a little message box saying, “There seems to be a problem with your account. Please call or log into our “chat help.”  Well, my phone was all the way across the room, and I was very very busy feeling terribly sorry for myself, so obviously, I clicked on the “chat help” button.  Immediately, a message appeared, wishing me a wonderful day, thanking me profusely for contacting Comcast and asking how she (her name was “Susan”) could be of help.

I felt immensely relieved to have such a NICE lady out there to handle things, even though she started her chat with “Good afternoon, Paul!”   I just figured that the account must be in my husband’s name, and figured I’d pretend to be him.  So, I explained my dilemma, told her about the phone call, said I needed to reset my password, blah, blah, blah.

After a moment, she replied, oh so politely, that she needed to “verify my security information” and needed my address, account number, the name on the account and the last four digits of my social security number.  I indulged in a minute of healthy swearing. (Oh, relax! She couldn’t hear me!) and heaved my aching muscles off the couch and into the computer room, to dig through the files for our Comcast Bill.  Back to the living room, where I entered the required information into the computer.  And tried not to feel SUPER sorry for myself, spending New Year’s eve with Susan the cyber servant.  I sighed, and waited for her reply.

And here it was. “I’m sorry, but the account is not in your name. The name on the account is Karen.  Please have her contact us.”

This time I screeched a little and typed rapidly. “I AM Karen.  This is me.  You’re the one who thought I was Paul.”  Susan, whoever you are!  Just reset the damn password.

“I’m sorry. I’m sure you can understand that we need to keep your information secure.  I can have a representative call you. Would that be OK?”

“Sure, especially since you freaking called me yesterday to start this whole mess.”

“Is this a Comcast phone account?”

“Uh. No.”

“Then I apologize, but we can’t call you. You have to call us.”

“What!?@$!!!  Are you INSANE? You did call me!  Yesterday! On my non-Comcast phone!!!”  You stupid computer idiot, you!!!  The sound that was now coming out of my nose was not at all pleasant.

So. I stomped across the room, found my damn phone, and called the 800 number on the bill.   Got a message (of course!) that all representatives were busy, and that my estimated wait time was 10 minutes.   I was too sore to pace, so I spent the next FIFTEEN minutes grinding my teeth and tapping my foot while I sat on the couch with the computer open (to refer back to the annoying chat) and the bills spread out in front of me.  I was feeling very, very, very sorry for myself at this point.

I thought that I might just break down in tears after fifteen minutes of enduring the worst canned music, interrupted at least five times by a disgustingly cheerful voice asking me breathlessly, “Did you KNOW that you can simply LOG ON to comcast.net and get your questions answered RIGHT THERE?!”  She sounded like she was about to wet herself with joy over this technological development, so I fought back my desire to scream about my recent experiences ON LINE with her company.

FINALLY; a human came on the phone.  He (of course) asked me for all of the exact same information that I had given on line.  I repeated everything, and he said, “Gee. There is no problem with your account. You don’t even have automatic payments with us. I have no idea who called you.”

I am a saint.   I calmly thanked the young man, asked him to reset my password and wished him a very Happy New Year.  Then I calmly waited while he transferred me to the technology department.

More waiting. More horrible music and comcast ads.  More gnashing of teeth. Finally, a woman came on the line. “May I verify your account, please? I need to know your address (again!!?), your account number (again?!!) and the last four digits of your social security number.”  Through my clenched teeth, I gave her the EXACT same information I had given twice before in the past hour.

“I’m sorry.”, she said calmly.  “The social security number is not the one we have on file.”


The phone went off, the computer was closed, the bills were crumpled up and tossed.

I grabbed my keys, got in the car and cried my way through the next half hour.

Curse you, Comcast.  Curse you, New Year’s eve, with all of your tender memories and unfulfilled promises.

This just isn’t funny.

Spirit guides


I’m not usually much of a TV watcher.  Those so called “reality” shows just astound me (THAT’S reality? Seriously?).  I have tried, but I just can’t get past the canned laughter and snarky comments on most sitcoms.  And don’t get me started on the current crop of crime dramas.  My mom loves them, but she has a far stronger constitution than I have; I am completely creeped out by the slightly decomposed corpses in every episode.

No, I’m not a big fan of TV.

Except for my secret vice (which won’t be so secret anymore, I guess).  Ready?

I am absolutely addicted to those ghost hunting paranormal shows. The more farfetched, the better.  I love them all.  Ghosts, spirits, entities, residual haunts…I can’t get enough.

I think my fascination started after my Dad died, and I began to read about evidence of the afterlife. I stumbled onto “Ghost Hunters” and realized that I was truly looking for proof that life continues after death.  As silly as it sounds, as silly as it is, I find some comfort and reassurance in the whispered voices of the “EVP” recorders on those shows.  I choose to believe, and these shows help me to do it.

Yesterday I had three blissful hours all to myself, so I wrapped in a blanket and turned on a marathon of “Long Island Medium”.  This show follows a loud, brassy woman from New York who works as a medium.  It shows her “reading” people at official gatherings, where she charges a fee. But it also shows her suddenly approaching strangers in stores, salons and on the street.  She just marches right up to these people, whose faces are uniformly filled with skepticism and caution as she approaches. She announces, “I’m a medium, and I have a message for you.”  Then she describes the loved one who has “passed” and is standing nearby. The people begin to tear up, they all recognize the spirit, and they feel both validation and relief.

I love it because every message is the same, episode after cheesy episode, encounter after encounter.  “She says to tell you that she’s at peace, and that she is always with you.” “He wants me to tell you to stop worrying; he is at peace, he’s happy, and he watches over you all the time.”

I love both parts of that message, so much!  I love the idea that my Nana is happy and peaceful, and that my Dad is healed of all of his ills.  Even more, I love hearing that they are nearby, taking care of me and of those I love. I love the idea that one day I, too, will be able to see and hear and care for my family from “the other side”.

Last night I heard some sad and scary news about my young nephew who looked absolutely hale and hearty just a few days ago at the family Christmas party.  This morning he faces surgery for testicular cancer. How could this happen?

Last night I dreamed of Nana, gone now for almost five years.  She was laughing, and her voice was so familiar and reassuring.  She was outside of my house, in the woods near the yard, like a little Italian sprite, dancing in the starlight.  She kept saying, “I’m here!”  I haven’t had such a vivid dream of her, haven’t felt her presence, in a long, long time.  It was a strange dream, but I woke up feeling comforted.

I’ll keep my prayers flowing today for my nephew.  I will pray for a simple and straightforward surgery, and a total, complete recovery. I will pray for strength for his parents and his sister, and for comfort for all of them.

And I will send a special request to Nana and to Dad.  I know you two are out there! I know that you are watching over the family that you loved so much.  Please keep a hand on everything today.  Please take care of Russ and stay very close to his side. Please be strong and loving Spirit Guides to all of us.

We love you!

Careful, now…..

He is home.  My baby boy is home at last.  He has spent three nights sleeping here, under our roof. He has told us how happy he is to be here at home, after a long and emotionally stressful freshman year.  He has had dinner with us, has cooked dinner for us, chatted, laughed, shared his college experiences with us.  He has enjoyed three days of forced relaxation (he wasn’t insured to drive just yet).   He has hugged and smiled and watched the Bruins with us.

But now….three days into his summer break, he has sort of had enough.  Oh, of course, being the sweet and gentle soul that he is, he hasn’t come right out and said “Let me out of here!”, but his gentle movements have made it clear that those are his thoughts. Tonight (Friday of the week when he came home on Tuesday), he cooked dinner, fixed the screen door, walked the dogs and vacuumed.  Have you ever heard a more poignant or thoughtful plea for freedom?

And so I filled my car with gas, came home to eat dinner with him, hugged him tight and sent him on his way with my keys in his hand.

He is here, but not really.   He has one foot out the door, even as he eats/sleeps and lives here in our house.  He is a visitor in our home, not a resident.

How sad for us!  How wonderful and freeing and true for him!  We won’t ever hold him back or make him sleep here or force him to sit in our living room making lame conversation.   But what is equally true, we won’t ever again sit quietly with him in our arms, reading the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy or talking about the stresses of the day.  We won’t ever again plan a nice family vacation with all five of us in attendance. 

And so I tell myself, “Be careful!”   I tell myself that this is a little dream, not my reality.  This summer will be a small reprieve from that empty, lonely house.  

Be careful, Mom.  They are visiting now, but soon they will be gone.

Turn the page

Why does it always feel so good to put away the remnants of Christmas?  Every year, as I get out the ornaments, string the lights and bake the cookies, I think that this will be the year when I am sad to put it all away again.  But two weeks later, without fail, I am filled with relief and happiness when it is all safely stashed back in the attic. What is that about?

Maybe it is the realization that the house looks bigger with the tree out of the living room?  Or perhaps it is the fact that life will return to its familiar routines that gives the sense of relief?  Or is it maybe the chance to start fresh that feels to good to so many of us?

I am not one to declare  New Year’s Resolutions: I know myself too well to think that I will suddenly join the gym or give up chocolate or take up meditation.  I refuse to set myself up for the kind of self-recrimination that would inevitably come with this type of resolution.  Still, January first always feels like a “do over”. The mistakes and sorrows of the past year are behind me now.  The old calendar is recycled, the new one is hanging, as clean and unmarked as new fallen snow. The year stretches out ahead, and gives the illusion of endless possibility.

Maybe, just maybe, this is the year when I will finish that young adult novel.  Perhaps I will learn to make gourmet foods.  It is possible that I will surprise myself and take up a healthier lifestyle and lose 30 pounds and start to hike again.

Or maybe none of those things will happen and this year will look very very much like the ones before it.  I don’t know for sure!  But it is the sense of possibility that I think makes today feel so good.

So I say goodbye to 2010, the year that my nest became empty, my heart became heavier and my Mommy days ended forever. I will pack up the last little glass ornament, store it safely away, and turn to greet the new year.  It’s time to turn the page.