It must be something about me. Dishes come back. First there was the Spode’s Tower, about which I wrote several times.

Spode Tower Pink

Spode Tower Pink

This time, it’s Wedgewood.

This morning, a large rather heavy carton arrived via UPS. It was from my sister-in-law who lives in northern Maine. I haven’t seen her for a long time, though we’ve emailed back and forth occasionally and exchanged Christmas presents and cards.

There was a card taped to the box which said “OPEN ME FIRST.”


Translated into years and a timeline, Garry — the man to whom I have been married for 25 years — was my first husband’s (now deceased) best friend and my son’s godfather. He had just come back from vacationing in Ireland when Jeff and I were married. It was August 1965 when I first owned the Wedgewood — a mere 50 years ago.

Jeff and I separated in 1978. My son and I went to live in Israel at the end of that year and didn’t come back until 1987.

Garry gave Jeff and I the Wedgewood as a wedding present. I didn’t take it to Israel, so Jeff gave it to his mother. She loved it. Moreover, she had room to display it.


Grandma Kraus died last year at 103. This morning, the Wedgewood came home. It is — for now — on the coffee table in the living room. I’m not sure what to do with it. I guess it can live on the coffee table, at least until Garry does laundry and needs to sort it, something he does on the big glass coffee table. Which is useless for any other purpose, unless you count barking your shins as useful.


And so, another set of dishes has come home. I don’t know or can’t remember if any other china, porcelain, or pottery is lurking in my past. For all I know, it’s in the mail, winging its way back to me.

Life is circular. Really. Circular. Stuff comes back. Especially dishes.



photography BY BOB MIELKE

Garry was very gentle. He barely touched my shoulder. I was sleeping lightly … because I knew we had to get up early this morning.

Already dressed in black, Bonnie is ready to go.

A dawn encounter with a clogged toilet had seen to the light sleep, but also, we have a funeral to attend. A neighbor to see off into the next stop in the cycle … and we needed coffee first.

And had to give the dogs a little love before we go racing out of the house.

For once, it’s not a long journey. Just down the street. Don’t need a GPS or map. Show up looking reasonably put together. Merely a left out of the driveway, and keep going until we cross the rickety bridge into Rhode Island. Then look for the stone church on the right side with the white steeple.

Photo: Bob Mielke - Kaity dressed as ... ? Happy Bird Day!

My real morning encounter is Garry. Gently letting me know it’s time to get myself out of the warm huddle of blankets and dreams and hit the floor.

Garry and Bonnie "have a moment" while the turkey cooks

72-Kitchen-DoggiesGarry does this well. He is a very soft waker-upper. No loud noises, no rousing choruses of anything. So I do not leap from the bed and try to tear his throat out. Because I love him, though early in the morning, I generally do not love anyone until after coffee.

72-Bishop Trimmed

Not him, not the dogs, not those endless telephone solicitors who seem to believe against all evidence to the contrary that they can actually sell me something before I’ve had my coffee.

Chef Owen, master of turkey

Chef Owen, master of turkey

Hello world. It’s black Friday, the day of the ultimate sales …and I’m done with my Christmas shopping. Except for the wrapping and some tree decorations. We’ve navigated Thanksgiving and the flow of life is rushing us to Christmas.

If we both keep body surfing the wave, I think we’ll make it. Time is rushing towards us and we merely have to stand still while it engulfs us.


Week 45! There are only 52 weeks in a year, so it is just 7 short weeks until year’s end. Practically tomorrow. My head is still stuck in early autumn. This is more a little bit unreal.


What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “fun”?

Laughter. If I’m not laughing, it’s probably not all that much fun. Laughter forms the bubbles in the champagne of life. Laughter makes pain hurt less, fear less frightening.

72-Me- Painting - Floral Background_05

No one is lonely when they are laughing. Even terrible things can sometimes make us laugh. Sometimes, laughter is the only way to deal with things too terrible to contemplate.

Nan laughs

My mother laughed when she told me she was dying. I had said I didn’t want to be without her.

Kaitlin 15th birthday

Then she laughed and said she didn’t want to be without her either.


It wasn’t funny, but it moved us both back from that terrible edge of despair.

What is your favorite time of day?

Dawn and twilight.


The lovely golden hours when light is pink and gold and the sky is alight and glowing.

Given the choice of anyone in the world, with whom would you choose to spend an evening?

One person only? Because I would choose my friends.


These days, that’s just a handful of people, but they and my husband are the people I’d want to share my evening with.

Complete this sentence: Something that anyone can do that will guarantee my smile is… 

Play any movie by Mel Brooks. Any book by Douglas Adams. A good joke, told well.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Grateful Ben was able to fit in a couple of days visit. It’s so great to be with someone who remembers me when I was a girl. Before my hair was gray.


Not really looking forward to anything coming up. It’s all doctor’s appointments and other obligations. Nothing fun for a while yet. And then, there’s the house which always needs cleaning. Oh well. The holidays are racing our way. Then we’re off to the deserts and mountains of Arizona. Big skies await us!


Marilyn Armstrong:

I laugh each time I read this. If you’ve never had a teenager in your life, maybe you won’t get it. But if you’ve raised kids and maybe grandkids … or even lived with them … I can guarantee at least one good giggle.

Originally posted on Stuff my dog taught me:


  1. Dress too old
  2. Dress too young
  3. Dress in anything that resembles what they are currently wearing

Solution: jeans, black t-shirts and mid-length, unadorned cardigans in earth tones. Jeans should be a simple cut but brand name (DO NOT buy jeans in a grocery store… nothing to do with your teen…just don’t)

  1. Sing
  2. Dance

It doesn’t matter if you had a top 40 hit when you were in your 20s or danced professionally. Trust me… I am confident that Paul McCartney’s children/grandchildren roll their eyes from the back of the limo when he tries to hum along with the radio. 

  1. Tell “When I was your age…” stories

You were NEVER their age. Period. This is core teen belief #1. To accept any other reality is to acknowledge that they might someday drive a minivan, have conversations about taxes, and get excited about watching DVRed episodes of Coronation Street on a…

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We met him in the parking lot of the hotel. He was loading ice into his cooler. We were on our way to dinner. Garry was having trouble with the door lock (this place uses real keys!) … and suddenly, we knew. It was opportunity knocking.

Garry told him that today is our 25th anniversary and could he please take our picture? I gave him my camera.


He found the on/off button all by himself — a good sign.

Just a stranger, a passerby, in the parking lot of life. From it, our 25th anniversary portrait. We made it. Amazing. It doesn’t seem like that long.


I know I was sixteen once upon a time because I have a picture. Just one picture.

1963. I'm in the front, in the middle, arm on my knee.

1963. I’m in the front, in the middle, arm on my knee.

I had  a raging case of hormones. This was the summer after I graduated high school. I would be in college a month later. That’s what you get for skipping years in school.

As for what I was like? I vaguely remember what I did — nothing to be proud of — but I have no memory of what I was thinking. I’m not sure I was thinking at all. It was 52 years ago. Almost exactly.

That’s a long time and the details do get fuzzy.


A Marriage Equality Story, by Rich Paschall

All through senior year of high school, Eddie was telling everyone that he would be going on to college.  He had applied to a four-year university and to a “junior college” just in case he was not accepted or could not afford the university.  He received acceptance from both, a bit to his surprise, actually.

While his parents, Edgar and Marge, were naturally quite pleased at Eddie’s acceptance, they advised him almost immediately that there was little they could do to help with the costs of college.  The best they could do was to allow him to continue to live at home for free and could not do much more.

Eddie got a part-time job in the last semester of high school and a full-time job after graduation.  His parents would not co-sign on a loan for the university and showed great reluctance to do so for the junior college.  Even though Eddie thought he could talk his father into signing for his student loan, he had heard all the nightmare stories about student debt and decided to pass on his dreams.

When the decision to skip school was made final, his parents advised that an 18-year-old with a full-time job was expected to pay rent.  They did not ask a lot of Eddie, but since he was making little over minimum wage, it was impossible for him to save money for school.

Over the next two years, he kept in touch with some friends from high school, made new friends at work and enjoyed the life of a young man without commitments.

One day Eddie expressed his frustration to his good friend Carlos.  They were best buddies since senior of high school started.  Even though they were very close, he had never introduced Carlos to his parents.  He was not sure how they would treat him and he did not want any problems at home or with his buddy.  His friendship with Carlos was too important to risk any disrespect.

“This sucks,” Eddie said choking back tears, “this absolutely sucks.”

“I know,” Carlos replied, “but it won’t suck forever, you’ll see.  We’ll both have better jobs someday and it will all be good.”  Eddie did not appear to be buying it.  “Come on, man, smile a little.”

Carlos made a funny face at Eddie who immediately broke into a big smile.  Eddie was not convinced but at least Carlos knew how to make him smile.

As the first year after high school turned into the second, Eddie’s fortunes were no better off.  Older adults kept telling him he should join the army.  It was the place for young men trying to make their way.  He would be “whipped into shape.”  His father even chimed in that it would “make a man out of you.”  None of them seemed to realize that Eddie did not need to “find his way.” He needed money for school.

As the second post high school year wore on, Eddie figured out how to get money for school.  One day he told Carlos, “I am going to join the army.”  Carlos was stunned.  He could not believe Eddie would go away.  They discussed it for hours until Eddie convinced Carlos it was the only solution.

“Then I will save money the entire time you are gone,” Carlos announced, “and we will go to school together.  I swear I won’t spend a penny I don’t need to spend until you get back.”

Eddie joined the army.  His parents were proud.  Carlos worked hard.  All thought things were finally moving forward for all, although they did not all know one another.

After boot camp, Eddie returned home before being deployed to the middle east.  He lied about his return so he could spend the first day with Carlos.  When he left he promised to write and post pictures on-line and keep everyone up to date.  He worried how he was going to do that and keep his different circles separate.

After his parents moved to Arizona, Eddie’s mom became active on facebook and encouraged Eddie to post pictures of his service.  Although there was much he could not show, he did post some barbecue pictures on facebook that his mother immediately reported all around and commented on each picture.  Eddie was embarrassed and decided never to do that again.  When anyone took pictures with Eddie in the group, he asked that no one tag him in the picture so no one at home could see them.

When he was on leave he would always fly to Chicago first to visit friends, especially Carlos.  Then he would go on to Phoenix and visit his parents who had finally move there for a change of weather.  Eddie spoke little about the service and less about Chicago.  He had come to realize through his mother’s facebook postings and occasional comments to him, that his best course of action to keep peace in the family was to say nothing.

After the service Eddie returned to Chicago, got a job, enrolled in school and became roommates with Carlos.  After saving his money carefully and working as hard as possible, Carlos also enrolled at the junior college, but not in all the same classes as Eddie.  They were chasing different dreams.

On spring break Eddie and Carlos, along with a few other friends, went to New Orleans by train.  One of the boys rented a car upon arrival and they all hung out for a few days.  It was there that Carlos made his move.

“Let’s get married when we go back home,” he said to Eddie.

“What?” his surprised mate responded.

“You are living in sin, you know, if you will not marry me.  I demanded a proper marriage.”  Carlos looked at Eddie with the most serious look he could give him.  Then they both laughed.

“Do you love me?”  Carlos inquired.

“Of course.”

“Then why not?”

City Hall, credit: Chicago

City Hall, credit:

When they returned home, they got the license and made their plans.  On a Thursday afternoon, with Carlos’ two sisters joining them, the boys went to city hall.  They were married and the girls took pictures.

Neither Eddie or Carlos had ever been happier.  The sisters had some great pictures and one could not wait to share with friends and family.  She even posted some on facebook and tagged the boys.  Eddie, however, could not think of anyone else he should tell about his happy day who did not already know it.

Related story:  Did You See The Picture?