The restless patient

My 78-year-old mom has Covid. What she does not have is the patience for having Covid. This morning I went to check on her and caught her vacuuming – with Covid. Me: “Mom, what are you doing? You’re sick. You’re supposed to be resting.” Her (looking pale and feverish but also exasperated): “Well, I can’t just sit around here all day!” Me: “It’s only 9:30 in the morning.” But she couldn’t hear me over the roar of the Dyson. She had viruses and dust bunnies to do battle with. She didn’t have time for crazy questions. My mom and I are a lot alike but not when it comes to sitting still. I don’t understand why she thinks it’s so […]

Lessons from a lobster

Off the coast of Maine, a fishing crew raised their nets and saw something weird – a bright orange lobster with only one claw. Because it was such an unusual catch, they turned it over to the Arthur P. Girard Marine Science Center at the University of New England.    The scientists at the marine center were thrilled to adopt the newcomer, and he joined two other curious-looking crustaceans at the center – a yellow lobster named Banana and a calico-colored one called Sprinkles. Scientists haven’t yet named the orange, one-armed lobster, but I’m rooting for the name “Cheeto,” which seems like a perfect fit.    What fascinates me most about this weird little story is the fishermen’s reaction to […]

My first parenting lesson

About 21 years ago, I learned one of my first lessons about being a parent. When our son was born, I thought he was perfect. So perfect, in fact, that I didn’t even realize how unusual it was that he was such a tan baby born to such a fair-skinned mother. It didn’t occur to me that something might be off until a friend – who had already had two babies – came over for a visit and said, in her usual, straightforward way, “I think your baby has jaundice.”  Thank God for friends who don’t mince words because she was right. A checkup showed that our baby was yellow, not tan, and had a typical case of treatable infant […]

Show us your bloomers

If you want a giant display of green leaves, I’ve got you covered. If you prefer a vase full of stunning hydrangea blooms, I’ve got nothing. For the last three summers, my blooms have been a bust. The strong stems and healthy leaves are lovely, but I want blooms. Is that too much to ask? My current situation is like having an ice cream cone without the scoop of Buttered Pecan on top. The cone is good, but it’s the combination of crispy cone plus creamy goodness that makes the combo a winner. I thought the problem was pruning. Overly aggressive pruning. Ill-timed pruning. Old wood versus new wood. It’s all so confusing. So this year I took a “less […]

Hello, your butt is calling

Yesterday, Tom and I went to Walmart Supercenter and split up to find what we needed. Ten minutes later, I got a phone call from him. Me: “Hello?” Tom: “I’ve got the stuff on the list. Where are you?” Me: “I’m on Aisle B-14.” Tom: “I’ll meet you there.” Then the phone rang again. Me: “Hello?” Tom: “I’m on Aisle 14, but you’re not here.” Me: “I said B-14. That’s B as in bumblebee.” Tom: “Okay, I’ll be there in a second.” Then the phone rang again — another call from Tom. Me: “Hello?” But there was no answer. Just dead air, so I hung up. Then it rang again. Me: “Hello? Tom?” Still no answer. When it happened a […]

Perks of being neurotic

Do you remember the old game show called “Name That Tune”? There have been plenty of spin-offs and reboots of the show, but I remember the one on TV in the 1980s when I was a kid. Two contestants stood across from each other and wagered about how quickly they could name a tune before it was played.  “Jim, I can name that tune in 5 notes.” “Cathy, I can name that tune in 4 notes.” “Jim, name that tune.” Then someone would play the first 4 notes of the song, and Jim would have to cough up an answer. Now that we’re on the tail end of a global pandemic and the beginning of some alarming advancements in artificial intelligence, maybe […]

A fish story

Every summer, my mother packed my bag and dropped me off on my grandparents’ farm with a week’s worth of travel-size cereal boxes and a can of bug spray. I was about 7 years old, and during my second day there, Grandpa announced we were going fishing. I’d never been fishing before, and I’m sure he felt it was his duty as a grandpa to teach his descendants the fine art of sitting in a boat for hours, waiting for fish to bite. He packed up our poles while Grandma tied an oversized sun hat on my head to protect my ivory skin which already had a smattering of freckles. We picked up Grandma’s sister, Aunt Eunice, and the four […]

The Trash Dragon Cometh

My warning bark pierced the morning stillness. From my defensive position by the front window, I could see and hear the beast approaching. My furry legs are short, but my ears are mighty. I’m built for a job such as this. My canine comrades rushed to my side and saw the imminent danger. The big one let loose a string of deep, baritone woofs, and the beagle joined in with his signature howl. Our people, who are groggy and slow in the mornings, winced and covered their tiny ears. Then they glanced out the window and joined our barking, except their human barks sounded more like “Hush!” and “No!” and “For God’s sake, stop it already!” We try to model […]

Consequences of being dumb in the 80s

Maybe it’s hormonal. Just another cruelty in a long list of hormonal pranks the female body plays on innocent middle-aged women like me. But part of me wonders if I’m being forced to pay for the sins of my youth. When I was a 13-year-old girl in the 80s, I did dumb things, as most of us did. Keep in mind there was no Google. No dermatologists on Instagram warning us not to be idiots. We just did things we saw other people doing, and we figured it was fine. So, my friends and I – who wanted nothing more than to look like a Coppertone cover girl – laid out by the community pool or in the backyard on […]

Choose your chunk to clean this spring

The buds are blooming, the grass is greening, and my nose is sneezing, so it must be spring. And since nature is sprucing itself up so nice and pretty, it feels like I ought to do a little sprucing inside, too. But this year I just can’t commit to traditional spring cleaning. It feels too big, too complicated, too hard. I’d love to have the energy for it, but I just don’t. So, I’m taking some advice I read in a recent New York Times article that recommends breaking up a big chore into smaller chunks – a bite-size chore, if you will. Last weekend, I chose my chunk – the wasteland of forgotten bottles, bins, and bags festering under […]