We finished watching the third 4-1/2 hour piece of “The Lord of the Rings,” extended version last night. Given the weather, I pointed out that we could be trying to climb Caradhras, but Sauron was totally against it and we never made it.

For a variety of reasons — aching muscles maybe? — Garry didn’t find it nearly as hilarious as I did, but the man who shovels is allowed to get grumpy about it. Still, we were definitely atop Caradhras and the snow was not going to quit anytime soon.

There was no noise at all until we heard that wonderful sound, the sound for which I yearn all through the storms of the last two weeks: a plow clearing our driveway. There was an awful lot of snow out there, but the dogs, who go into a medium-level frenzy when trucks are in our drive, gave us a lot of energy. Gibbs is particularly noisy about two things: any kind of diesel-powered vehicle and my son, Owen, of whom he is insanely fond.

Duke and Bonnie in snow

Duke barks hysterically whenever the neighbors emerge from their house. He seems to believe they are about to intrude on our space. Also, they have dogs. Very big dogs. Really, huge dogs. English Mastiff and a boxer. They are really quiet, peaceful creatures who bother no one — except The Duke who gets extremely feisty in the face of Other Dogs Nearby. And they aren’t that near. It’s at least 300 feet from here. More, maybe. We have what is considered a really tiny plot of 2.43 acres of land. Next door, they have maybe 27 acres? Possibly more?

It doesn’t look real. I’m not even sure what bush that is. Rhododendron maybe?

A lot of people around here have a huge amount of land, but the majority of it is wild, thorny, rocky, and generally uninviting to walkers. No trails, either. So mostly, no one on two legs goes in there. No one goes there in the summer because you will be consumed by mosquitoes.

Many other creatures live there, though. Deer, raccoon, fishers, skunk, coyote, bobcats, squirrels, rabbits, bats, eagles and other raptors. Red-tailed hawks and owls. I almost never see them, but I hear woodpeckers constantly.

Foxes, chipmunks. Many fewer chipmunks since the arrival of the bobcat who is very fond of fresh chipmunk. Rats, mice, and some of the biggest spiders to make landfall since Shelob didn’t kill Frodo.

I yearn for New Zealand. If the world should bestow many dollars (or any other currency — I’m not picky) on us, that is the single vacation I would take. Fly to the west coast. Take a ship down the Pacific Ocean and land in some famed harbor. I know that’s the long way, but a cruise to New Zealand and a cruise back sounds like heaven to me.

We might never leave Hobbiton. Well, I suppose we’d have to. There are dogs and family and friends back here … but these days, not living in the U.S. doesn’t seem like such an awful idea. I’ve lived abroad before and I liked it, so it’s not that crazy, for me anyway.

Bonnie and Duke like snow. Gibbs was serious about the sofa.

If New Zealand is impossible, how about San Diego? Great weather. Beautiful beaches. One 5-hour flight and voilà. No more snow. Ever. Or we could go back to Israel. I’ve got a passport. As a citizen, I have — in theory — another home. But that may be my other country. It isn’t Garry’s and while he has nothing against a Jewish country — he’s put up with me for long enough — it might be more change than he is entirely ready for.

So in answer to two questions of the day — where would I rather be and what about noise? I’d like my dogs to shut up, but please, bring the snow plow. Then, send me to New Zealand.



They began talking about another big storm at the end of last week. I was trying to not listen because I’ve had it with winter. It has been pretty warm … well at least not bitterly cold. We’ve had two nor’easters in less than two weeks, so what were the odds of having another one?

Yesterday, the morning arrived with a brilliant blue sky. We already knew that there was a storm brewing and we hustled to try and get everything done before whatever it was that would hit us.

When we got home from the MVB and the doctor and the post office, the sky wasn’t blue. It was filling up with storm clouds.

Tuning in the weather on TV, we were assured we’re absolutely getting snow. A lot of snow. More than a foot  and possibly twice that. What happened to our tentative grasp on spring? The dawning hope of flowers?

And there’s twice this amount by now …

When I first got up this morning, I opened the insulated curtains and looked outside. About an inch and a half, I figured. Then I turned on the computer and realized … that was just the beginning. There was at least another foot, maybe a foot and a half still to come.

I went back to bed. I saw absolutely no point in getting up. When I finally poked my head out of the covers a couple of hours later, there was a lot more snow on the ground … on everything. I told the dogs to stop being ninnies and go on out, which they did. Complaining, then, suddenly delighted. They kept coming in, covered in snow, having me towel them down, then running right back out. They don’t need spring. This is great, right Ma?

Right kids.

Not spring quite yet.

Will this winter never end? Between the brutality of politics and the cruelty of weather, the news is giving me a headache.

Branches and snow – spring will be delayed until the tracks are cleared. Thank you for your patience.

Nor is there any guarantee this will be the last storm of the season.  It’s March. You just never know what’s coming next.

NOTE: Posts like this take a lot longer than you think. I have to take the pictures, process them, and finally post something. I apologize for being so slow, but all that takes time!



What is typical? This winter, having some version of that stomach flu that has come and gone twice before and has returned again. It isn’t as severe this time as last time and will probably be gone in a day or two, but it’s really annoying.

It did give me a good reason to cancel the EKG scheduled for this afternoon. I have another appointment with the same doctor in two weeks, so I doubled it up. I will do the EKG at the same time as the rest of the appointment. I can’t figure out why they set it up as two appointments in the first place. Surely it doesn’t take two weeks to read an EKG? Especially not this doctor who can read them as the machine spits them out. He’s that good.

We got a couple more hours of sleep and don’t need to make two trips to Boston.

It’s a typical March day. Cold and gray, with patches of blue. It snowed last night. An inch and a half maybe? It was all white when I first got up to call the doctor. An hour later, it was gone.

Yesterday, we did a family togetherness act and cleaned up the front yard, moving all the wet, half-rotted leaves away from the foundation. It wasn’t a big deal. It took the three of us about half an hour, but it vastly improved the horrible front yard.

I wondered if there was anything we could do to keep the dirt from washing down the hill onto the sidewalk. The answer — to put it succinctly — was “not really.” We would have to build a full retaining wall. Given the rocky rooty ground, that’s a far more massive undertaking than it sounds when you say it. I wondered about one of those metal rim things, but our ground is so unfriendly — the nightmare of finding places to put the stakes for the tepee came immediately to mind. I realized I was having one of those suburban daydreams where you think it’s going to be just like on television. All neat and tidy and the lady of the house can do it without even getting her fingernails dirty.

It was easier when we had grass. Maybe some will grow in the spring. Probably planting some seeds would help, but the dogs would trample them. Never mind.

I have one more doctor to call. There is a package that needs to go to the Post Office.

And, in my spare time, I’m trying to find an affordable DVD player. The one we have is getting old and it’s very slow. But the new ones are like new telephones. They have a million functions I’m sure I will never use. So many that I’m not entirely sure whether or not they also play DVD and CDs. Which is all I want.

New ones function as a play station for video games. They will read any DVD from anywhere in the world, Bluetooth or standard plus any CD from any market. They include WiFi and can do the same things our Roku does. They will run your older movies in 1080p by upscaling the quality of the video. They have the ability to play 3D — assuming you have a 3D television (we don’t). It would improve the quality of our sound system. We have a reasonably good sound bar,  but calling it a “system” would be overstating its capabilities. I think, if you ask it politely, these same machines will also handle your laundry and possibly your bills.

Each one I checked out had some weird quirk that make me hate it before buying it. No red light to tell you whether it’s on or not. No buttons — so if you misplace your remote, the box is useless. Strange quirks which make the screen-saver take over, requiring a full reboot to restart your movie. And there were more. The kind of stuff that makes me crazy. I just want something that will play our newer and older DVDs and sometimes, a CD.

I eventually quit looking. We’ll keep what we have until it dies of old age at which point, I will reconsider what to get next.

As I said: a typical day. Or is it an atypical day?

Is there a difference?



All that drenching rain came pouring out of the skies — and it wasn’t the first time in the past couple of weeks, either. What had remained of grass in the front of the house  was just dried or almost dried mud. When these rains came, it washed the mud down from the upper lawn and turned the sidewalk into a mess of oozy brown mud.

Many leaves will fall!

It’s pretty awful out there. Drying out as we speak, but what to do?

Between two old and broken backs and arthritis crawling into every part of two skeletons, it’s hard to figure how we will get it cleaned up. It’s not like the dogs … who think layers of dirt are just fine, thank you … are likely to help. Right now, the yard is exactly the way they like it. There are fallen branches and twigs everywhere plus all the leaves that fell after last fall’s cleanup.

Our leaves are a three-stage process. During the early Autumn days, the maple leaves fall first. As soon as the color fades, they come down like rain into giant leafy drifts. Owen usually cleans them up. He has a machine to do that and it helps.

The storm of yesterday

The next wave of falling leaves consist of half the oaks, as well as the sassafras, any remaining maples, and the few other deciduous trees such as the Catalpa. Owen gets them, too, or most of them. There are always a few which are missed.

Finally, there are the leaves we don’t collect because they hang on the limbs until winter. Some don’t fall until the following spring. The last, late oak leaves don’t drop until late November or December. No one cleans them up because there is usually snow on the ground by then. There are — I don’t think this is much of an exaggeration — millions of leaves every autumn. Anyone who wanted to live in a woods and thought it would be romantic was right — except that living in a woods gets complicated and often messy.

You can’t leave the sodden leaves rotting against your house because it’s unhealthy for the house. It keeps your foundation damp. Damp foundations are unhappy foundations.

The bed of leaves remaining in what we humorously call “the garden” goes to insulate flowers (and weeds) from the bitter cold. We certainly had a bitterly cold winter. January was one of the coldest months on record. It was so cold, we didn’t get nearly as much snow as usual because when it’s that cold, the air is too dry to make snow.

But then, we moved abruptly — in a matter of hours — from well below freezing into the extremely springlike, mild temperatures. All of February was punctuated by a couple of warm days followed by a couple of bitter days. A bit of snow, a bit more snow, more melting … and deluges of rain.

Window outward

It’s a mess around here and I feel I should shut up about it because however much of a mess we have got, a lot of other people have a lot worse with which to contend. We didn’t lose any trees. Our roof is intact. No cars or people were crushed. We have some small branches and a million twigs everywhere, but no larger life-threatening limbs fell. Something of a minor miracle considering what might well have occurred.

These are the times when being old is a significant deficit. If we had even a little more money — we got whacked last year by the door replacement (Thanks Bob, for the help or we’d never have made it!), the exploded hot water heater (third times the charm?) and adding a stair climber to the steps from the front door to the living room. But to use the climber requires a viable walkway from driveway to door … and right now, we don’t have one. Fortunately, I can still lumber my way up the extra steps from the basement. I notice that Garry is beginning to have trouble with the steps too, these days.

The long driveway when the leaves are (mostly) gone

The great truth is we are not getting younger. Garry is in good shape for a man turning 76, but he is turning 76. He was never handy around the house. That is a kind way of saying that he has never had either interest or aptitude for house stuff. For years, Owen took care of it, but Owen moved out and doesn’t have nearly enough time to take care of it … and Owen himself is eligible for AARP. How time flies!

Withe the failure of our government to support older people both in health care and generally in keeping them from falling below the poverty line, hiring others to do the work isn’t really in the cards. We got a 2% raise in Social Security last year — less than $5 per month per check and of course retirement funds never go up, so whatever you got last year, any inflation means you are that percentage poorer. It is fortunate we don’t eat a lot.

Meanwhile,  I’d like about two weeks of a strong young handy-person to help straighten up the mess. I thought I had one, but he seems to have vanished. It’s possible poverty forced him to look for a better deal elsewhere.

Yellow before red

In the midst of the deluge and hurricane winds of yesterday, the builder came by to look at the problems we are having. We have a window that has sagged and is under the vinyl, obviously rotted out. It will need to be replaced. Whether or not it’s just the window that need replacing or the wall around it also need replacing remains to be seen. Regardless, it has to be fixed. There’s no alternative. We cannot easily extract ourselves from this house. We can’t “keep it up” the way it should be and that saddens me … but we can at least make our best effort to keep it from falling down.

It’s not the “what” of the mess with which we deal. It’s the “how” that’s killing us. Now, I have to call my son and find out where the faucet is in the front of the house. I think it’s buried in leaves near the front door. I hope it is!



I wrote a blog a while back about how I’ve grown to hate repetitive, routine household chores, like doing the laundry and washing the dishes. But things have changed. The Trump presidency has altered my perspective on a lot of things.

Trump and his team have caused political whiplash and existential chaos, which, in turn, has increased my appreciation for the small things in life. Things like the belief in facts, the existence of truth and the joys of a shared reality, at least with my husband. Also, a renewed love of predictability, consistency and reliability – in people and in the world.

So my boring daily slog is suddenly comforting. It makes me feel secure. My husband’s predictable routines now seem appealing and safe, almost sexy. Chores are no longer frustrating necessities. Sorting socks is now a calming Zen exercise. Fitting dishes into the slots in the dishwasher gives me a sense of success and accomplishment. These are the things in life I can count on. I am not helpless in my own home.

My chores also take me away, for a short time, from the onslaught of breaking news from Washington, DC. They give me moments of quiet before the next storm. I deeply appreciate them for the very repetitiveness that had turned me against them before. Boredom is now my friend. I see it as calmness and peace without the negative connotations I used to attribute to it. It’s the antidote to my PTSD – Perpetual Trump Shitstorm Distress!

I look forward to training my dogs. Sit! Stay! Come! Good girl! Repeat. No lump in my stomach, no sense of dread. No alternative facts or alternate reality. Just me and my dogs agreeing that ‘sit’ means ‘put your butt on the floor’ and ‘stay’ means ‘don’t move until I tell you to.’ Boring, but very reassuring and gratifying.

I appreciate my friends more, at least the ones who share my version of facts and reality. They help me stay grounded. And if I continue to focus on the small things in life that give me pleasure and comfort, I just might make it through the Trump years.



I’m looking at a bunch of repairs that this house needs while pondering questions about money. We don’t have anywhere near enough to even get started, so what to do?Take out a low-interest loan against the house to get the work done? Or struggle along without  money and hope nothing really bad happens?

Which of these is the simple answer? IS there a simple answer?

Winter in New England
Home in the fall

I don’t have an answer. Not even close to an answer.

Maybe we are a bit long in the tooth to take out long-term money? Yet there are so many things that need doing. I don’t know how else we could get them done.  Bathrooms, windows, floors. Almost everything needs at least a bit of work or repair.

Everyone talks about the simple life, but as mine rolls along, nothing is ever simple.

My world is not simple. It may look that way until you get into the details. After that, it’s endlessly complicated.


We all have friends who do stuff we can’t do. They make a perfect pie crust and the filling is damned good too. They build their own furniture. Tune the car and reupholster the furniture.  They do a little painting, a bit of carving. Frame their own pictures. Repair anything that breaks. They are never worried about any problem because they know exactly what to do about it.

apple pie

These are the woman who breezily raise two kids after dad left while working full-time and never seemed overwhelmed … or even tired. Men who build companies, sell them, build another and don’t know why you can’t do the same. It’s so easy.

They throw great dinner parties where the food is delicious. The dishes match or are delightfully casual yet coördinated to look casual,– but you know they are designed to look that way. Because the casual look takes work.

stove and kitchen counter

When you ask about that wonderful pie crust, they say “Oh, it’s so easy. It’s just a bit of butter and flour. A bit of sugar. Cut everything up with a couple of butter knives, roll it out, and there you are.” If you are lucky, you get a demonstration and it does look easy. So, you go home, get all the ingredients together and give it a try. Which results in an unusable lump of muck which ultimately, you toss in the trash.

Thanksgiving dinner

After which you buy a pie crust or better yet, buy the whole pie. Because it isn’t so easy. Not for you, anyway.

Modest, humble people who do brilliant stuff about which they are completely offhand. They seem baffled why you would think any of it is a big deal. Apparently, it isn’t. To them.

To you, it would be a minor miracle if you could accomplish one little piece of it. Yet they will always say “It’s so easy. Anyone could do it.”

Except me. I can’t do it.