Maxim Matrix: Part III, Gender

This post is the third in a series about my family’s favored maxims and their place in the matrix that shaped my sense of self. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines a maxim as a brief statement of a general truth, principle, or rule for behavior. My family had scores of them in addition to the … Continue reading Maxim Matrix: Part III, Gender

Maxim Matrix: Part I, Frugality

The film The Matrix haunts me on SO many levels, but this ramble is not about science fiction or film or conspiracy. It’s about family (Surprise!), and maxims’ role in the larger code of family programming. A maxim is a brief statement of a general truth, principle, or rule for behavior, according to the Cambridge … Continue reading Maxim Matrix: Part I, Frugality


Until the last in 2017, most of my dear uncle’s and my phone calls began the same way. I’d ask how he was, and he’d say, loudly, “I’m foy-in” and laugh. It was a fond tease that reminded him of me when I was small and learning manners. No matter what was going on, I … Continue reading I’m FINE

Death and the Legacy of Guilt

Upon awakening this morning, images of gravestones filled my mind. I’d prefer to say my half-conscious mind was honoring the service and sacrifice of all those who served in the military, but it wouldn’t be truth. On Memorial Day, more intensely than on other days, I’m swamped by guilt that I’ve neglected my final filial … Continue reading Death and the Legacy of Guilt

On Grief and Facebook

I resumed looking at Facebook a few months back after a year’s absence. I wanted to post links to my blog and had no intention of doing anything more. After only a week of pandemic self-isolation, I found myself longing for connection and some good laughs and links to articles the PBS Newshour doesn’t cover. … Continue reading On Grief and Facebook

On Suffering and the Fear of Death

The pandemic has spun my ongoing existential crisis into a force 5 hurricane. I’m practicing mindfulness to cope. The practice offers me many moments of calm in the storm, but I possess an overly busy brain, and I’ve continued grappling with big issues of human experience—suffering, death, love, and meaning—and I spin out into the … Continue reading On Suffering and the Fear of Death

On Choices

A few months ago I drove to New Hampshire, impetuously, to buy a drum I didn’t need and couldn’t really afford. I spent several hours on the sun porch of an old farmhouse at the end of a dirt road. The drum man understood my need to touch and play so many—from small to enormous, … Continue reading On Choices

R U A Yankee Cook?

In my essay “Kitchen People,” I wrote about an old cookbook I discovered in the summer kitchen at our family’s antique family farmhouse in New Hampshire. Imogene Wolcott’s The Yankee Cookbook (1939, Coward-McCann, Inc.) proved to be as humorous as it was inspirational. Using some of her challenge questions I embedded an ersatz quiz for … Continue reading R U A Yankee Cook?

On Death, Parenting, and Writing

At some point I must have subscribed to an online thing from The Paris Review because I get emails from them at least once per week. I sometimes open them, glance at the title and think, “Oh, this looks cool/interesting/intriguing/etc., I’ll bookmark it,” fully intending to go back to it later in the day. Ha! … Continue reading On Death, Parenting, and Writing

Presents and Christmas Guilt

A long time ago, I think there was some tradition in which writers apologized to their readers for the shortcomings their letters, essays, and books may contain. I do so here: this essay rambles, but I felt moved to write it and am posting it in spite of its flaws. I love the Winter holidays. … Continue reading Presents and Christmas Guilt

Circles and Stories

In the top drawer of my bureau, I have a collection of rings in a Ziploc bag. It nestles against a not-particularly-useful jewelry organizer I purchased so I would cease to misplace my various bits of adornment. Nearly every piece of jewelry I own, including the bag of rings, has a story. I live amidst … Continue reading Circles and Stories

Kitchen People

I sit on the screened porch of the Summer kitchen at White Cottage Farm in New Hampshire, looking at Lake Sunapee beneath the gentler hills to the east of Mount Sunapee, which is visible with its summer “striped” ski trails if I look to my right. I sit on one of a half-dozen black café … Continue reading Kitchen People

The Garden

I wrote this essay almost twenty-five years ago and have been thinking of it as I plant this year’s seeds, in a different garden in a different yard.  Under the guidance of Mrs. Keller, we kindergarteners first learned to grow vegetables, tucking handfuls of beans into the folds of damp towels. The sprouting of their … Continue reading The Garden

A Godly Paradigm

“God” has been on my mind more intensively than usual during this past week when I had to bid an earthly farewell to my uncle, the most important and beloved person in my life from my infancy until I married and had my children. The Reverend Monsignor William J. Kane, Ph.D. (February 27, 1934-December 8, … Continue reading A Godly Paradigm


Sarah had flung herself into the easy chair next to mine upon arriving home after a particularly difficult day at school. Then my fourteen-year-old daughter erupted, sobbing and screaming with frustration. I sat with her. After the flood abated, she sniffled, “Can I sit in your lap?” She draped her tall body over my smaller … Continue reading Mothering

Make No Mistake

A perfectionist from the time I can remember, I learned effectively from my mistakes every day. Through cuts, scrapes and broken bones, I learned to climb gaspingly high into treetops, navigate slick rocks across rushing creeks, and coast my bike with no hands or feet. Most learning from mistakes as a young child was painful … Continue reading Make No Mistake

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