The Eye of the Beholder

It was a day today. Just a normal day.

It was a Sunday, in northern Massachusetts, in the last week of October.

It rained all day and the wind kept sweeping back and forth across our yard, seemingly intent on scrubbing away all signs of summer.

The yellow leaves swirled through the air like dancers and the newly empty trees bowed to the left and to the right.

I sat in my comfy rocker with a blanket on my knees. I watched the weather and smiled.

It was perfect.

Like every other adult in the world today, my days are packed with responsibilities. Taking care of my grandchildren and one of their friends, shopping, cooking, entertaining friends, helping to look after my elderly Mom, dealing with two young and energetic dogs……

All of it is good and all of really does bring me joy.

But I am exhausted. I’ve spent the past ten days or so fighting off a visit to the doctor. Refusing to go on medications that make me feel worse than I did before. The nose is stuffy, the lungs are wheezy, the aches are chasing the pains across my spine and I have a mystery foot ailment that has me limping like an old sailor.

I needed one day to myself.

And my dear friend, Mother Nature, has complied. It is cold. It is too rainy to work in the yard. Too cold to clean the garage. I had some new friends here for dinner last night, so there is no need clean anything.

Today has been spent reading a very cool mystery novel (The Nowhere Child). It has been spent sipping tea and eating mini cannolis brought by our friends. Dogs have been snoozing on my lap.

Even my workaholic husband has been reading, snoozing and playing games on his phone.


As I sit here now, I am looking out at a gray, dreary dusk. The rain pours down. The wind keeps blowing.

As I sit here, the light of my house shines in contrast to the cold night ahead. I am safe. I am sitting. I gaze out into the golden glow of the leaves that remain on our beech and oak trees. I can see the last bright sign of life from our “Burning bush”. I know that winter is heading our way.

But all will be well.

Because every now and then, a day will come when my body tells me to simply sit down and shut up. I’ll pour some hot herb tea, grab a good book, and fold the fuzzy blanket over the dog on my lap.

Life is good. Especially when we don’t expect it to be.

Three Little Words

I wake up thinking of three little words.  Those simple, familiar words that can make my heart sing.

I haven’t heard those words in such a long time. My heart is cold, and heavy.  I yearn to hear them, just one more time.

Time goes by, day after day slipping past, one exactly like the next.

I go through my routine, day after weary day, barely thinking as I carry out each monotonous task.  I make the coffee, butter the toast, wrap in my heavy coat and scarf, and head out the door. My husband moves through his parallel routine, the two of us barely speaking as the grey light of dawn leaks through the heavy curtains.

I endure the familiar, frustrating commute, my nerves frayed and ragged.

The day drags on, and my heart is increasingly heavy.

I gaze out the window of my classroom.  I draw in a ragged breath, and I sigh.

I miss those words.  I miss them so much.

There was a time when I took those three little words for granted.  A time, not so very long ago, when I barely acknowledged them.

Those three magical, familiar, comforting words.

I shiver, pulling my sweater close.  Oh, what wouldn’t I give now to hear those three delicious words?  I wouldn’t take them for granted now! I wouldn’t ignore them, or take them as simply my due.


If I could only hear those precious words spoken softly today!  If I could only hear them again, my joy would be boundless. I would fill the room with laughter.  I would throw my arms wide and embrace the world!

If only I could hear those beautiful words again.

“Hazy, hot and humid.”

Brain Freeze

To begin with, its been wicked, wicked cold out.  For weeks.  Like, really cold. So cold that your nose can’t run, but you can experience snotsickles.

I woke up yesterday and looked out my kitchen window.

Holy Hell Frozen Over!   -20 degrees!!?

I could hardly believe it. I didn’t want to believe it!

But I live in the age of Facebook, so I grabbed my phone and took a picture. I wanted to show everybody how stoic I am, how strong and brave!  I snapped the photo, I posted it, I went to work.

And I decided to share my awesome photo with the kids.  So I put this up on my Smartboard:
1908293_10205648301544331_2526677894090993749_nAnd the kids walked in.

And started laughing and pointing.

“Oh, my God!”, they crowed, “Where did you get this picture of a witch?”


They completely ignored the low temp, which was all I saw.

They were totally caught by my scary reflection, which I never noticed.

Goes to show you: kids always see the world in new and exciting ways. They find a way to laugh, and to make me laugh.

Even when its twenty below, and the scary old witch is me.



Living in the moment

I bet you’ve heard the term “Mindfulness” by now, right?  Its a way of thinking that helps people to tune out all the static in our heads, and to simply savor the present moment.

I heard about the idea from a wonderful therapist, who suggested that I try to practice this gentle form of semi-meditation every day.  It sounded fabulous to me!  I would learn to feel the beauty in every day. I would learn to feel the air, to smell the earth, to see the blue, blue sky.  I embraced the concept!

Because it was June.

It was easy to live in the moment when the moment was 70 degrees and smelled like lilac blossoms.

Its not so easy right now.

Right now, if I “breathe deeply and draw the air slowly into my lungs”, I’ll have an asthma attack.  Right now, if I try to smell the earth, the hair in my nose will turn into tiny icicles that threaten to pierce my brain.  And as for that blue sky?  HA! If I try to gaze up at it, snowflakes will coat my eyeballs in an instant.

Right now, my world looks like this:


I do NOT want to live in this moment.  Nuh, uh.

But the funny thing is, I think that most of actually do tend to believe that the present is forever. Right now, summer seems impossible.  I don’t believe that it really exists, or that it will ever come back. And I bet that a year from now I’ll have a conversation with someone about snow, and we’ll try to remember how bad this winter was.  And we’ll have to go look it up, because we won’t remember the details.

And I bet that on a steamy night in July, when the air is so thick you can see it, I won’t be able to envision the icy feel of this morning, when it is 8 below zero.

So maybe I am “mindful” after all.

Which is kind of a pain in February.

HELP!!!! This is New England in January and its going to SNOW!!!!!!


Oh. Dear. God.

It’s going to snow!!!!!  Red alert!! Red alert!!!  Duck and cover!

Run right out and by a generator!  Help, help, help!!!

According to the Weather Channel and CNN, this will be a “historic storm”!!!!!!    The sound you hear is me, screaming in fear!

Only I’m not.

See, I’ve lived here my whole life.  (I am beginning to wonder why, but that’s another post for another day.)   When I was a kid, we used to have really big snowstorms all the time.  I remember piles of snow that were big enough to build those awesome tunnels and caves through the snow mounds.  I remember snow so deep that we’d sled down the piles that were made in front of our house.

OK, so granted I was only about 4 feet high at the time, but still.

When we moved out here to this house in Central Mass, around 25 years ago, we didn’t even call the plow guy to clear the driveway if there was less than 7 inches of snow.  This week, though, the TV guys referred to an upcoming storm as “the first major storm of the season”.  Everyone got all hyped up. They ran out for bread and milk.  The news guys predicted power outages, wet, heavy snow, downed power lines, black ice, you name it.

We got about 6 inches of lovely fluffy snow that drifted down gently all day.

That used to be “a nice day” in January.  Now it gets its own “Breaking News” coverage.


So tonight I am highly skeptical.  You see, the local news, New England Cable News, the Weather Channel and CNN are all breathlessly warning “millions” of Americans about the “historic” storm that is coming to slam us.  It even has a name: Winter Storm Juno.

Maybe I’d be more impressed if they had sense enough to give the big storms scarier names.  Like “Bruno” or “Amazonia”.  But “Juno”?  I ain’t scared.

I predict that all the schools in the entire region will shut down. Offices will close. Highways will be shut down.  People will panic and liquor stores will be overrun.  Everyone will pull out blankets, make vats of soup, find their candles and hurricane lamps.  There may even be some preemptive Monopoly games set up.  We will all huddle in front of the TV, where we’ll watch highly underpaid weather people standing on the beach making breathless statements about the snow.  “It’s really snowing, Mike”, they’ll tell the anchorman sitting in the nice warm studio.  “It sure is snowy.  Cuz of the snow falling. Wow.  Really, really snowy, Mike.”  They’ll squint into the camera and then bend down and pick up some snow. “This is snow”, they’ll say. “It sure is snowy.” The anchorman, Mike, will smile smugly and say, “Thanks, Chuck! You stay safe out there now!”   The weatherman, trying to make two inches of snow into an actual story, will nod grimly.  Inside his head, he’ll be thinking, “Fuck you, Mike, you smug asshole.”

Meanwhile, with the entire New England region completely shut down, everyone will start texting each other about Tom Brady’s balls (sorry, couldn’t resist).

And we’ll get ten inches of snow. Max.

I’m not buying the hype. Nuh, uh. No way.

Of course, I didn’t buy the hype on Feb. 5th, 1978 either.  I was on my way to my college classes in a car full of fellow students (my now husband included).  We heard a prediction of a major snowstorm, with up to 28 inches of snow.  I laughed, and shook my head.  “Nah”, I said calmly. “They just like to scare us.  It won’t be anything.”

It was, of course, the famous “Blizzard of ’78”.

I got home four days later.

Happy Snowstorm, my friends! My your beer last as long as your Monopoly game!

At last

storm-355103_640All those long, cold, rainy days and nights of winter, all those muddy, drizzly drawn out weeks of spring.  THIS is what I was waiting for.

Today it has been muggy and very hot; I’ve been sweating since I stepped out of the shower. My clothes are damp and dank and musky.  My hair feels like it has been coated in olive oil.

Today I walked the dogs in the heat, chatting with a neighbor about the breathless feel of the air and the difficulty in getting anything done.  I did some chores, pulled some weeds, picked some of Paul’s fresh strawberries, all while feeling the drips of sweat coming from my hairline down to the tip of my nose. I have kept the dogs in the house, under the whirring ceiling fan. We’ve all been drinking cold water and lying around as still as we can lie.

I love this weather.  Today was tropical.

This afternoon, after my lunch of fruit and cold, cold yogurt (OK, frozen yogurt, but still…..) the sky began to change.  The soft white clouds that have been drifting from south to north for the past three days began to stack up and turn gray.  The sky went from the palest silky blue to gunmetal gray.  The wind picked up and showed me the undersides of the maple and oak leaves.

All afternoon, I have been waiting.  My poor old Sadie, my fearless lab who will face any pitbull or any scary human, has been shaking and panting for hours.  Her only fear is loud noise, and she has stayed glued to my right leg all afternoon.

“You’re OK”, I have been telling her. “It’s alright.”   We have been sitting side by side, watching the sky, for almost three hours now.

Finally, in the past thirty minutes, the storm has broken.  The wind is arching the trees almost to the ground. The rain is pounding down and rushing down the drive in small shiny rivers. The flashes of lightning are made even brighter by the fact that the day has turned so incredibly dark. The house is hushed and close; all of the windows are closed, because the wind is swirling from every side.   Sadie is crouched beside me; her eyes are so frantic.  I wish I could tell her that we’re safe!

The lightning is striking close; much closer than usual.  The last big crash happened just as the flash hit, and the whole house thrummed with the energy.

I am hot, and breathless and I feel the hair on my arms prickling.

I can hear the storm passing over us, moving off to the North at last.

I love this weather! This afternoon was exactly what I yearned for during all those cold and snowy drives home this winter.

I’m sorry, Sadie!   But all I can say is, “At last!”

Hot, hot, hot

Only its not, not, not.....

Only its not, not, not…..

Alrighty then.

It’s May 26th.

Time for shorts.  Time for flip flops. Sun tan lotion.

Time for sweat.


So why am I sitting in my living room in fuzzy socks and a sweatshirt?  Why do I still have a blanket and a quilt on my bed? Why aren’t the dogs shedding and the fans blowing and the windows wide open?

Its time already!

I want to sit out on the deck with an iced coffee.  I want to fan myself with a folded paper, wipe my wrist across my brow and say, “God, its so hot!”

I am ready.

I want thunderstorms.  I want hazy, hot and humid. I want to be happy when I feel the air conditioning come on, instead of zipping up my sweatshirt.

I want summer, for God’s sake!  And I want it NOW!

I hate to be a climate change denier, you know? I’m into science and all that.

But, seriously?

What global warming?


I really miss my flip-flops.

It feels like it will never end…..


It keeps coming at you, even when you think it is finally done.

Last weekend was the start of “Daylight Savings Time” and at long last, I am coming home in the daylight hours.  Spring must surely be on its way.  St. Patrick’s day is coming up fast, there are daffodils for sale in all the local groceries.

Spring must be near!  Time to think of seedlings and lawn care and bug spray.  Time to think of flip flops.

Except that it is snowing tonight.

Big, fat flakes of fluffy white poison, floating down and coating the deck once again.

Spring? You coming?!  Of course you are!  The vernal equinox is only a few days away!  Time to think of chicks and bunnies and peeps and pastel colored sweaters.  Time for renewal and rebirth and lambs and tulips and Cadbury Creme Eggs!

Except that the weather channel is predicting another snow storm on Tuesday.

I know that spring will come.  It always does, right?

But… know…, what if….I mean, it could happen, right?  What if this is the year when it never arrives? What if we are stuck for eternity in the icy slush of mid-March in New England?  What if the grass never shows up, the crocuses are locked for good beneath the layer of frozen muck?

What if the days don’t get warm, the birds don’t start to sing and the Red Sox decide to stay in Florida all summer?

It is nights like this that truly test the faith of a person like me.  My bones are cold. My toes are begging to be free.  My heart is yearning for the sound of distant thunder, my nose for the smell of warming earth.  I want to hear the peepers! I want to barbecue some sausage! I want to light a mosquito coil and rub on some SPF 50.

And its snowing.  A lot.

I think that I will go to bed, pull the big pile of fluffy blankies over my head and dream of this:SONY DSC

It has to come eventually.

Doesn’t it?!

Internal debate


If I was a natural optimist, I would never have started this blog.

I mean, this whole writing exercise was the suggestion of a therapist, who probably just wanted me to stop whining and taking up valuable couch space.

I’m Italian.  I’m a Pisces.  Drama is my middle name. I gripe, therefore I am.

Lately, though, I have been trying hard to look on the bright side of things. I’ve been trying not to cry and moan and complain so often.  I smile so much at school that my cheek muscles get sore (oops! That was a complaint, huh? See how hard this is for me?) I work very hard to see all points of view and to empathize with everyone around me.  I try to speak positively and look at the future with hope and pleasure.

But you know what?   It’s March and we’re in the middle of yet another whopping snowstorm.  More shoveling, more slush, more wet-dog-smell.  I’m trying to be positive here, but its damn near impossible at this point!

I am supposed to be picking up my baby boy for Spring break today!!!!   I took the school day off, and left elaborate lesson plans all neatly queued up on my desk!

And now its a snow day.  I can’t hit the road to head west until the plows come by, and I wasted three hours of writing, organizing and copying things for my sub.  And, to add insult to injury, I have to make the day up.  In June.


I’m trying to be upbeat.  I am!

But I am turning into one of those cartoon characters with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. You know the ones I mean, right?  The angel whispers positive messages in the right ear, but the devil whispers bad stuff in the left?   Yep.  That’s what’s happening in my tiny brain today.  Snow is pretty-angel.  Snow sucks-devil.

Kind of sounds like this:

Look how the snow coats the trees like lovely whipped cream!

Look how the snow is breaking the branches. The yard is gonna be a mess in April.

The snow flakes look so peaceful, falling gently.

I am so bleepin sick of feeling like I live in a snow globe!  Its making me dizzy.

We can go snow shoeing!

I want to go swimming!

We can sit by the fire tonight.

All this smoke is giving me asthma.

There has been so much snow this winter; the plants will really thrive with all this moisture!

There has been so much snow this winter; we’re going to be eaten alive by mosquitos!

Gosh, how nice to have a snow day! I can catch up on some housecleaning chores.(Angels always things like ‘gosh’ and ‘golly’. Makes me want to slap them.)

Damn, another snow day! We’ll be in school ’til freakin’ July! (Devils are of course, potty mouths. I can relate.)

And on and on it goes. I want to be positive, but I also want to be a size 8 blonde, walking on a beach on Oahu. Some things are not meant to be.

Damn!  That’s a lot of freakin’ whipped cream.

Thoughts on Nemo

In a few months, this will be my veggie patch.

In a few months, this will be my veggie patch.

Sitting by the fire, nursing my aching back, legs and shoulders.  Watching the endless coverage of what the TV is calling “The Blizzard of 2013”.  I guess they couldn’t get themselves to talk about “Nemo” without giggling.

Here’s what I think of this winter wonderland.

Now that I know that my kids are safe and that all three have power, I’m ready for a nap!  I couldn’t sleep last night, because I felt guilty being warm while they were cold!

Now that I know that my Mom has power and has been plowed and shoveled out by her wonderful, incredible neighbors, I am ready for a good long nap.  After I fretted about my kids at midnight, I fretted about Mom at 2AM!

Now that I know that my brothers and sisters and their spouses and kids have power and heat and light, I am ready for a nap.  You can guess who I was worried about from 3-4 AM…….

Having a big soft couch right next to the roaring wood stove is the BEST.  Maybe I’ll nap here.

Knowing how much snow there is to shovel, I spent two hours this morning digging this out:

I have my priorities.

I have my priorities.

Right after my nap, I intend to get in there and soak.  Maybe with a glass of wine in hand.

Its a good thing I baked that incredible chocolate cake yesterday; I need the sugar boost to finish the shoveling!

And you know what else I think?

I liked “hunker day” better than “shovel day”.

It will be OK with me if we don’t see the front walk until June.  I’m perfectly happy to use the garage door as my main entrance!

And finally, I really love my dogs.  They constantly remind me that there is joy to be found in every situation.

Be warm, be safe, and happy hunkering to everyone who has experienced the wrath of Nemo!