Fading Away


I haven’t written here for quite a while.

I haven’t even updated “The Nonni Chronicles”, my record of my granddaughter’s latest accomplishments.

Why, you ask?

Well, I’ll tell you.

Because I have realized that I need to try my level best to figure out a way to make some money off all of these words.  I mean, I retired last June, and my income fell by more than 50%.  But my expenses didn’t.

Now, I need to tell all of you that I do charge my daughter for the daycare that I give to our Ellie. (gasp! looks of horror! head shakes! pursed lips!)

Yes.  Yes, indeed.  I do feel awful about this.  I feel horrible. I hate it, hate it, hate it. Having that baby girl every day is pure joy.  I am NOT exaggerating.  If I didn’t have her here every single day, grinning at me with her two tiny teeth, resting her head on my shoulder to sleep, eating breakfast and lunch with me……I think I would surely be in therapy for at least one mental disorder.

Having her here is such a treat!

But, alas, I digress.  I have to find a way to pay the damn bills.

So I have applied for literally EVERY online tutoring job there is.  Nothing. No response. Nuttin’.

And I have applied for every blogging job out there, too.

Nope. No go.

So. Sigh.

I am working on a book.

STOP that laughing!

I already wrote one novel. But its about a middle aged woman who realizes that she should retire from teaching and……yeah.  Boring.

So, I am now writing a more upbeat, hopefully funny women’s story.  With some sex.  And a fast pace.


All I can say is this: Sorry, sorry, sorry to the few folks who really follow this blog! I am letting you down. I know it!

It’s just that after diaper changes, bottles, naps, walks, essays, blogs, laundry and tutoring, I am not sure that I have much left to report.

Oh, but there is this!  Whenever I try to talk to a friend, sweet Miss Ellie opens those big brown eyes and starts to yell (and, yes, I mean  YELL) “RAH. RAHRAHRAHRAHRAH!”

Good Lord, I do so love that child.



Ah, Miss Ellie……


Rockin’ her Daddy’s hat.

Way, way back, in the dawn of my history, when Paul and I were very young, we used to think about the upcoming weeks and tell ourselves, “I’m glad there is something to look forward to!”

Which means, of course, that there were times when we’d look at each other and think, “Ugh,  there is nothing to look forward to!”

I look back now, at my 22 year old self, and I think, “Are you kidding me? You’re twenty something, and you don’t think you have something to look forward to? You only have your ENTIRE LIFE, you idiot!”

But at 22, I wasn’t thinking that way. I was thinking, “What wonderful adventure is out there for me in the next week?”  I was young. I was foolish.  I didn’t really get it.

And then, at the wise old age of 29, I gave birth to my first child.  My wonderful, beautiful daughter Kate.  And everything changed in an instant.

Suddenly, I knew that I had “something to look forward to” for at least 20 years.  Every morning with my baby was a new beginning.  Every bath time was a treasure. Every meal an adventure.  I was enraptured, enamored, in love, entranced, enthralled.

Life was very, very good.

And then it went on.  Kate’s brothers were born, and the rhythm of my life was set.  I was a happy, busy Momma, and every passing week meant something new to look forward to. There were milestones and holidays and vacations and camping trips.  Birthdays and new schools and sports and plays and music.  Life was one big streak of “something to look forward to”.

And then they all grew up. And they moved away and started their own lives.

There suddenly wasn’t quite so much to look forward to, you know? Life was still happy and full, but the magical moments were gone.

And now, here I am, the full time day care provider for my little Ellie.  Now I am back to the days of making pancakes for someone who will light up with joy at the new taste. I am back to singing brand new songs, and reading exciting new books.

Tonight, when supper was over, I put our leftover coconut rice into a bowl.  I added an egg and some cream and cinnamon. I baked it for 20 minutes.  It smells fantastic.

I will go to bed tonight with something to look forward to.  I will give my beautiful Ellie a bowl of rice pudding for her breakfast tomorrow.

Life is a very beautiful thing.

Do the Right Thing



“Do the Right Thing”.  I always thought it would be so easy.  Just do what’s right.


Except that life doesn’t seem to work that way.

Take the situation with Mr. Trump and the protesters at his rallies.  On one hand, I strongly believe in the first amendment to our constitution. You know, that “Freedom of Speech” thing.  I believe that the hallmark of a healthy, basically democratic nation is that everyone has a right to speak his mind.

I like to believe that as a “card carrying member of the ACLU”, I would grant everyone that right.  I believe that the KKK has every right to assemble and to speak out.  And of course, I believe that right minded people have every right to assemble in protest against the KKK.

I was very upset when the Occupy Wall Street camps were shut down and when protesters were kept away from the sidewalks in front of the banks and hedge fund offices.  “Free Speech!”, I said.

So far, so good.  “Do the Right Thing”.  Let everyone speak his mind.

But then there is the old adage, “Your right to free speech ends at the tip of my nose.”  Meaning, I guess, that you can speak up as long as you aren’t harming anyone with your speech or your actions.

And we have to remember that we are not allowed to say just anything we want.  We can’t, they tell us, yell “Fire” in a crowded theater. That would be dangerous.


So what am I to think about the events at those Trump rallies?

First point: Trump and his minions have every right to speak their minds. They have the right to assemble.

But don’t those who oppose him also have the right to assemble in that place, to speak up against him?

Well, yes, of course they do!

Trump’s right to free speech, it seems to me, ends when he tells his people to physically hurt those who speak against him. “Beat the crap outta them. I’ll pay your legal bills.” That’s the “tip of my nose”phenomenon.

So his speech, when it is violent, SHOULD be shut down.  The “Right Thing” would be to protest and assemble and to shut him down.  Right?

But if those who protest against Trump’s hate speech yell threats, or carry out those threats, or throw punches, then they have give up their right to free speech in that place.


So. What is the “Right Thing”?

It isn’t as easy as it seems, is it?

Beautiful Day


It’s gray outside. Small pellets of sleet are falling on the frozen mud in the yard. A very cold wind is blowing.

The news is dominated by war, murder, anger, ugliness and fear.

It is a Beautiful Day!

My right hand is typing this, while my left cradles the warm, sweet blanket wrapped bundle of my sleeping Granddaughter.

In the past few days I have received news of a new baby girl and two brand new beautiful baby boys born to people I love.  I have heard news of another little one on the way.

And I am reminded that winter always ends. Political races always conclude. Wars wind down and borders shift. Old fights are ended and reconciliation is always a possibility.

Life continues. Every birth is hope renewed. Welcome, beautiful children! We love you and need you so much!


Why Trump Makes Me Happy


If you have been following this blog at all in the past 9 months, you will know that when I retired last June, it was with a great deal of sadness and a fair amount of regret.

I loved teaching. I loved spending my days with children, helping them to grow and to think and to learn about themselves.  As I moved into the fall with no classroom full of children around me, I found myself somewhat adrift.

But then Donald Trump happened and I was able to view my new life, sans classroom, with more relief than regret.

And here’s why.

Because this country has focused so intently in the past few years on ending the epidemic of bullying in our schools, that’s why.

And if I was still teaching, I would have to find a way to explain to my group of tender young children why it is suddenly acceptable and even admirable for an adult to be a bully, while they are expected to show more restraint, kindness and humanity.

If I was still taking care of 25 ten year old children, I would have to answer questions about why so many Americans choose to elect a man who publicly curses as he talks about his plans to kill others. (“I’d bomb the shit out of them.”)  I would have to somehow find a way to explain, if not excuse, the adoration that so many adults in our country are showing to a man who announces his desire to “punch that protestor in the face”.  I would have to find a way to explain lies, name calling, insults, racism, sexism……

I don’t know what I would do.  I don’t how I would respond.

So for the first time since my sudden decision to retire, I am truly relieved NOT to be in a classroom any longer.

I was listening to my XM radio tonight as I drove through the rain to go grocery shopping. I was listening to the POTUS radio station, which features “Politics of the United States for the People of the United States.”  The show that was on was called “Steele and Ungar”, and its usually one that I truly enjoy.  It features a man who once served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee (Michael Steele) and man who came through Hollywood and entered the world of progressive political talk (Rick Ungar). I love the show because the two men clearly enjoy each other’s company and respect and understand each other as they debate the day’s politics through their very different viewpoints.

Tonight the topic of the Donald was the featured discussion on the show.  Michael Steele, while not a supporter of Trump, kept repeating that he knows the man personally, and doesn’t think that he will be as terrifying or as inept as so many of seem to fear.  Rick Ungar, on the other hand, repeatedly stated his own discomfort with the idea of Trump as President.  Here was his main concern: he stated his firm belief that no matter whether or not Americans agree with their President, they must respect him/her out of respect for the office. “But what do I tell my Grandchildren if Trump becomes President?”, he asked. “What do I tell them when the most powerful man in the world says things that I tell them they must never say?  What do I tell them when he behaves in ways that I tell them are wrong?”

I understand Mr. Ungar’s discomfort and confusion.  I don’t know what I would tell my students if I had to try to explain all this to them.  But I do know this:

I would NOT tell my children that they need to respect the person who holds the office of President.  I would do my best to make it clear that differences of opinion are not enough to warrant a lack of respect.  But I would make it very clear to them, as I did so often when I was raising my own children and teaching the children of other parents, that respect must be earned.

Respect. Must. Be. Earned.

We do not merit respect because of our wealth, or our position of power, or our fame or our ability to out shout or out insult those around us.  We earn respect by showing ourselves to be thoughtful, kind, caring and respectful of others.

If Mr. Trump is elected, I will not respect him.  I don’t respect bullies.   I won’t respect them.

I would never ever ever ask children to respect someone who fails to behave as well as they do.

Sorry, Rick Ungar.  But Respect. Must. Be. Earned.


How we see things


Note the beards, please!

It was a funny day today.

After years of wishful thinking, we are finally having solar panels installed on our roof. We had to wait until we were able to bring down a bunch of huge trees, but now we are finally sunny enough to make it work.

We talked to a few companies, researched various systems and finally decided on NRG Solar.  They have been incredibly helpful and supportive through the process; calling and emailing and explaining every step of the way.

Today I woke up and thought, “Yay! Today is the day when our solar will be installed!” We had arranged it for a day when I would be home to let the crew come in and out, as they needed to access our electrical panels, our attic and our internet router.

They arrived bright and early, and introduced themselves to us. One guy was very warm and friendly, telling me about his children and his pets.  One was a young woman, very sweet and kind, who looked at my baby granddaughter and said, “We’re going to save the environment for you, honey!”

I loved showing Ellie a woman in a hardhat, climbing a ladder and using power tools.

And the third member of the crew was a tall, broad shouldered man with long dark hair and a big black beard that spread across his chest. He was more shy and quiet than his colleagues, shaking my hand, but coming and going the rest of the day without a word.

This afternoon I was sitting in my rocking chair, trying to soothe poor little Ellie to sleep while people were hammering, pounding and drilling on the roof.  She was having a very hard time relaxing as you might imagine.

At one point, the bearded young man was up on a ladder, right outside the window where we sat. He was working to feed a long metal pipe into the attic.  He word his white NRG hardhat, and had on dark glasses, but his thick black beard was clearly visible.  My little Ellie looked out at him, and started to cry harder.  She reached her hands out toward him. I didn’t think that he saw us, but I knew what she was thinking.

After a while, the young man climbed down from the ladder, and with my hand pressed to her ear, Ellie settled into sleep on my chest.

As the crew was leaving tonight, the friendly cheerful electrician came in to say goodbye. I thanked him for their hard work, and then I told him about Ellie. I said, “My granddaughter was staring at your friend as he worked outside the window.”  Before I could explain, he answered me, “I know. He told me. He said that the baby was staring at him, and he’s sorry if he scared her.”

Scared her?

Wow!  I suddenly pictured how he might see himself. As the mom of two tall, broad shouldered, bearded men, I understand that sometimes my sons are viewed as scary big men.  I understand that they realize this fact.

But today, when the big bearded man was in our window, my little Ellie was thinking, “Daddy!!!  I want you!”

Isn’t it funny that we so often see ourselves in a completely different light than the way in which we are seen?

How many times have I worried that everyone sees me as angry and rude, only to find out later that they described me as “strong and calm”?  How many times have I felt like a big huge uncoordinated mess, and then figured out that I seemed pretty much in control of the situation?

I wonder how many times big bearded gentle men worry that they are scaring people, when really the people are thinking, “He looks like my Dad!” or “He reminds me of my son!”

I don’t know.

I just think that this was an interesting lesson today.  Maybe we should trust each other a little bit more, and realize that the people around us are more insightful than we realize.

And babies are really good judges of character!



Ah, the smell of dirt…..


I wonder if perhaps I was a farmer in my past life?  I wonder if I had to stay inside my dark, cold wooden house through the long New England winters, waiting for the first approach of spring, when I could start the long season of growing once again.

Maybe in a past life I was settler in the wilderness of the New World, trying to find fertile soil to start a plot of corn and beans for my family.  Can’t you just picture me, in a mob cap and homespun dress, using a wooden pitchfork to turn the soil on the first warm day of late winter?

Well, I can.

I’m sure that I was totally in tune with the earth in a past life. I’m positive that I was able to turn plain old rocky soil into something so rich and fertile that it fed my growing family throughout the winter.

How do I know this?  Huh.  Easy!

Because I swear to God, I love the smell of dirt in February and March!  I love it.  It’s like the best combination of aphrodisiac and power drink.  I stand outside on days when the snow has receded enough to uncover clumps of semi-frozen mud.  I tip my head back toward the barely warm sun and I breathe in so deep……!! My lungs expand, my oxygen level increases, my brain wakes up from its winter hibernation.  I come alive again.

This morning is one of those mornings.  It is very, very warm outside; almost 40 degrees! Paul and I walked the dogs, and I only had on a sweatshirt.  The snow is nearly gone. Only little piles of filthy ice pellets remain.  There is a thin layer of mud everywhere.  I squished my way through it, loving the thick gooey feel of it under my boots.  I could smell that rich, heavy earthy smell with every step.  Dirt! Good old New England dirt! If I poked it with a stick (which of course I did), I could feel that the earth is still frozen solid.  Even so, there was a layer of thawed muck on top of the frozen ground, and that was full of promise.  The dead grass is even turning slightly green in some spots.

I know that the trees are still completely bare and that there isn’t a butterfly or a bee in sight.  Still, the tips of the daffodils are visible.  I can see shoots of daylillies and iris pushing their way through the dead leaves in my garden.  If I squint my eyes just right, I can see little swelling buds on the tips of the lilac branches.

And I can smell dirt. Soil. Earth.

My pioneer farmer Colonial past self recognizes the smell and rejoices.  “Huzzah!”, she shouts.  “Tis nearly Spring!”


Comcast Wants to Kill Me


I am not a young woman.  I can only take so much pressure before I blow.

I have high blood pressure, for God’s sake.  You just can’t mess with me like this, or heads are gonna explode.  OK, only one head and its mine, but still!

Damn you, Comcast!  You are definitely trying to kill me.

I know that Comcast complaints are not new, but you really have to hear this.

It all started innocently enough.  Paul and I are looking to cut some expenses, now that I am retired. As we looked over our monthly finances, we noticed that our XFinity is costing us a boatload.  Well over 140 a month!   Yikes!

So, we decided that we’d get ourselves a Chromecast device and give up Cable. All we need to do is contact Comcast and tell them we want to switch from the whole XFinity thing to just plain WiFi.

So I go to Comcast.com.   I try to log in to my account.  But I have forgotten my password, oh dearie me.  Easy, right? I click on “forgot my password”.  I get a box that says,” If you want your new password, enter your PIN”.  My PIN?  My PIN!

I get up and start digging through files (these are the moments when it is good to be married to a packrat with OCD…he keeps all this stuff!)  At last, I find a document that includes my PIN.  Right.  The one that Comcast had to send me through the mail, because they couldn’t email it to me. The one I had to wait a week for the LAST time I tried to get customer service from Comcast!

So, I enter my PIN.

And……I get a message that says that they will now CALL ME on my Comcast landline.

Which would be fine, except that we don’t have a phone anymore.  I mean, not a landline phone. Nothing that I can plug into a jack to ANSWER the STUPID phone call to tell me my password!

So.  Thwarted.


Deep breath.  Sip of coffee. Pat the dog for a minute.  Blood pressure goes down, I can feel it going down because my pulse isn’t beating in my temples anymore.

I decide to call the Customer Service line. Ya know, just to see if they can help me.

I pick up my CELL PHONE and dial the 800 number.   I get this recorded message: “I’m sorry. This service is not available at the moment.  Please hang up and try again later.”

Temples begin to throb. Another sip of coffee. Pat the dog.  He gets off the couch, throwing me a dirty look over his shoulder. “Sorry”, I mumble as I realize that I was patting him into a concussion.

Deeeeeeeep breath.   Yoga breath. Contemplate adding some Kahlua to the coffee.

I decide that I can “try again later” and I turn on TV, just to relax. I want to watch CNN. You know, just so I can check to see if anything is blowing up, or if anyone is shooting up a school.

But CNN won’t load.  I wait about a minute, then suddenly the screen fills with Sesame Street.  I try CNN again.  Sesame Street again.

Does Comcast read minds? Do they KNOW I’m trying to ditch them?

I try MSNBC.  I am NOT making this up: It sends me to FOX News.

I click off the TV.  Temples pounding, eyeballs pounding.  I wash down a Tylenol with my coffee.  Really, really, really deep breaths.   Now I’m dizzy on top of enraged.  I take out the Kahlua, just in case.

OK.   Recap.  I can’t log on to my account because I forget my password.  They can’t give me a new password because they refuse to call the phone I use; they insist that they have to call me on the phone I don’t have.

The 800 number is “not available at this time.”

Wait!!!! I bet there is an online chat service!!!!  Back to the website.  YES!!!! “Chat with one of our Customer Service Experts”.   I click.

I get sent to a blank page showing only the words: “This services is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.”

There is a sudden loud high pitched keening sound filling the room.

I realize that its coming from me.  I rush to the kitchen, dump out the coffee and fill my mug with Kahlua.

Sobbing just a little, I open up my banking site.  I remove Comcast from my payee list.

I gotta believe that when we stop paying them, they’ll find a way to get in touch.

I settle back on the couch to watch Sesame Street.


Hearts and Broken Hearts

Sometimes I just want to roll back time.  Just back, back, back.

I have been in love with my husband since we were 17 years old. That’s 42 years.  Holy crow.

Sometimes I wish that I could wind back the movie reel of my life, and see Paul as I saw him so many years ago.  What did I think of him when I met him at the tender age of 12? Did I notice him at all on the first day of seventh grade?  Did he notice me?  What did we each see and feel when we became friends over the next few years? What exactly was it that made us begin to see each other differently, to fall in love? I think I know, but I wish I could go back.

I wish I could go back to see.

I wish I could wind the clock back, back, back.  Back to the time when my Dad was still alive.  Back to when he used to play with my children. Back to when I could hear him laugh. Back to the night when we ate cioppini together and laughed and slurped and dunked our bread into our dishes.


There are times when I wish I could roll it all back and back and back again.  Sometimes I miss my own childhood. I miss being the little girl who was so carefully taken care of. I would like to see my world through that girl’s eyes once again. I’d like to go back to the easy days.  When finding a little bag of Fritos in my lunch was the most exciting thing in a week.  When my biggest problem was the mess in my closet.

Back to the day when my siblings and I were a pack, like a bunch of puppies. When loving each other was effortless.  Back to when we could give each other “noogies” or “Indian Sunburns” and scream and cry, but be best friends again an hour later.

I wish I could roll it all back.  I wish I could go back to those days with the knowledge and the wisdom that I have now.  I would look at each of those people, my husband, my father, my big pack of brothers and sisters, and I would look each one in the eye and say, right out loud: “No matter what.  I will always, always love you.”



Guess What I Just Remembered ?



Who else  out there remembers racquetball?


If I’m correct, racquetball was one of those inexplicable fads that popular culture seems to experience every few years. Like oat bran.  Or leggings.

Something pops up somewhere, people decide its the cool new thing, and presto! Everyone is playing racquetball.

Back in the 80’s racquetball courts popped up everywhere, like dandilions in July. Every mall, every gym, every town had least one indoor racquetball court.  Whoopee!

I had my first racquetball experience around the around the age of 22, as I recall. I was still young and impressionable.  I believed all the people who said that the game was fun and exciting and great exercise.

I was in love! If my beloved wanted to buy us both racquets and very very hard rubber balls to hit with said racquets, I was all about it!

I was still idealistic. For some incomprehensible reason, I believed that even a person like me, a person who had once knocked herself in the nose with a softball bat while swinging at a pitch, a person this clumsy, could still achieve some level of athletic success.

What an idiot.

I remember coming home from work to our tiny apartment, eating dinner and then grabbing our racquets. We put on our short shorts (it was 1978), our high white athletic socks and our sneakers. And off we went. Lookin’ fine.

I remember that there were locker rooms where we could store our jackets or sweatshirts. I remember this because I’m pretty sure it was the first time outside of high school where I actually stepped into a locker room.  There were other women in there, and they all looked confident and sure of themselves.  Some of them even had on sweatbands.


I remember that the racquetball “court” was a cube made out of solid rubber.  I think even the floor and ceiling were rubber.

My voice sounded echoey in there, and I liked that part.  I think I even sang a little the first time Paul and I stepped into our cube.

That was the last part I ever enjoyed.

Because to this day I have no idea of how to play that stupid game.  All I recall is that we were supposed to smash the hard hard hard blue ball into the wall in front of us and then use our racquets to smash it back there again.  Of course, given that the cube was made of the same incredibly dense rubber as the terrible ball, it was almost impossible to know where the ball would go once you smacked it with your racquet.

Sometimes it hit the ceiling, sometimes the wall on the right, sometimes the left.  And sometimes it hit directly in front of your sweaty young face so that it careened back at you at the speed of light, leaving you helpless to deflect it with the tiny racquet in your hand.

The first time that happened, I discovered that I do have some athletic skill after all.  I let out a shriek that could have etched glass, dropped the racquet and hit the floor in less than a nanosecond.

For the remainder of the “game”, Paul scored points while I tried to stay alive. I guess it was good cardiovascular exercise, because I can tell you that my heart rate stayed way way up there the whole time.

We played quite a few times after that.  I never got any better at figuring it out, but I didn’t die either, so I guess it turned out well.

I was profoundly relieved when the next fad involved oat bran muffins.