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A Sympathetic Second Soprano by
(21 Stories)

Prompted By Turning Points

/ Stories

I really should, at the end of this Retrospect enterprise, tell the story of meeting John and Patti. So much good has come in my life as a direct result of sitting down, in about the fourth pew from the front of the church, about three seats in from the left-hand aisle, next to a sympathetic looking second soprano. Little did I know then, in August (or September) of 1983, that she would become my closest friend, keep my spirits up through a miserable divorce, cheer for me at nursing school graduation, and be a solid refuge over and over. Patti, the sympathetic second soprano I met on my first day singing with Schola Cantorum in Los Altos, California, eventually stood up with me when I got married to the right guy, became godmother to my first child, and just this afternoon, called me to wish me love and best wishes in the new year.

No good friendship is perfectly happy all the time. We struggled a time or two. Any longstanding friendship stretches and even cracks sometimes as lives change, jobs come and go, people move away, move back, move on. But Patti is someone I can count on. She gets my marriage, she knows my kids, she knew my parents. She’s a Giants fan. She picked me up after my first endoscopy, drove me home and put me to bed. I held her hand and kissed her cheek before her cancer surgery. We’ve frolicked in the waves on Maui and hiked hard and fast around Windy Hill. I’ve written her poems and she’s come to hear me read. When I needed help really fast at the last minute to make a flower girl dress for my daughter, two days after my father-in-law died unexpectedly and three days before my brother’s wedding, Patti came, cut and sewed with me. Who else but a sympathetic second soprano would do that?

I don’t know what it was I saw in her face that evening, 1983, ten minutes before 7 pm. Her smile? Her kindness? Her good taste in clothes – comfy and pretty all at the same time? It doesn’t matter. That was a turning point for me, that choice to sit next to her. So much good has come from knowing Patti (and of course John) for me and my family. I have so many photos, but none of that night, we didn’t know then what we were embarking on.

Oh well, she’s such a beautiful woman, and I’m grateful to her for her love. That’s enough I hope. This photo is from the 80’s at least, so you’ll get the idea. Long may she sing, my sympathetic second soprano.


Advice From Your Class Secretary by
(21 Stories)

Prompted By Graduation Advice

/ Stories

My mother was the secretary for her ninth grade class. They graduated in 1953 in Newton, Massachusetts. By the time she and her friends had finished three years at Bigelow, the class had been together for three years. They knew each other well, having grown up together, many of them in the same elementary school also. As class secretary, it was her responsibility to address the graduating ninth graders with words of reflection and wisdom. Apparently my mom was an aspiring literary scholar, and she wrote a three page poem in rhyming couplets. I offer it here for your entertainment (assuming none of you, dear readers, are graduating ninth graders today).


I have photographed the pages directly from her yearbook, and the miracle of technology allowed me to quickly create a more readable version, below.

My mother never tried her hand at school poetry again, that I could determine, but she was awarded the Girls Senior Cup (Newton High School, 1956). I’m happy to have the cup in my house, now, hanging out on the mantel with photos of many other graduations and plants and water polo trophies. It was hard to photograph, so you’ll see something of my “selfie” in the silver reflection. I miss my mom. I wish I’d know she wrote poetry when she was younger, before she was gone.


Class History


Nineteen fifty, in September
Is a date to long remember;
For in that month, one happy day,
We started at Bigelow a long, happy stay.
Anxious and wondering entered we,
The class of nineteen fifty-three,
Into the maze of passageways
Where, lurking in the blacks and grays
Of corridors very dark and droll,
Were members of the Student Patrol.
It seemed to be their very delight
To find seventh graders not at the right;
A ticket then would be handed to you
With orders to report at 2:32.
Misters Beattie and Phinney, we soon found out
Would show us exactly the way about.
We found the locker rooms with their showers,
And rooms for staying after hours.
To the ninth graders we were bores
And only good for holding doors.
To beautify Bigelow was our aim
And for the seventh grade make a name.
Our conservation was going strong;
We felt with our flowers we couldn’t go wrong.
We dug the ground with our little tin spades,
Much to the amusement of the two other grades.
Soon our flowers were coming up;
But then, alas, a neighbor’s pup
Trampled on them with some other dogs;
And where once were flowers, now are bogs.
Our social life was completely nil,
We had no parties, not until
The Seventh Grade Social Club was founded,
With a program that really was very well rounded.
Another event was the Football Dance
The seventh grade went to on a chance.
Rooms two-thirteen and two-oh-five
Went to a picnic put on by the live
Mr. Phinney. (Though sometimes we doubted this fact.)
Another fine day in a bus we packed
To visit the weather bureau at Logan Airport,
And view weather instruments, different in sort.
By the end of the year, when June rolled around,
Our heads were so full with new knowledge we’d found,
We were glad to leave Bigelow there in the sun.
Our first year’s adventures had surely been fun.
Ahead to next year we looked happily, for
A new seventh grade would enter the door.
It wouldn’t be us who would tremble with fear
For we knew the way, so … Welcome, next year!


In September, fifty-one
After another summer had gone,
Again we entered Bigelow’s halls
Past new seventh graders’ poky crawls.
To impress ninth graders was our great hope,
But to them, in spite of our soft soap,
We were still little babies, younger than they,
And only created to spoil their day.
Miss Bruce and Miss Johnson were new to our school;
But how could they think we’d obey every rule?
For we were the eighth grade, a mischievous class,
We bothered the teachers and walked on the grass.
Mr. Baker, however, soon found a solution:
His “weakie” row was a grand institution.
Mrs. Kendall inhabited room two-sixteen
While Miss Larrabee’s absence seemed frightfully mean.
Miss Larrabee, in January, came back well to us,
And Mrs. Kendall ‘s departure aroused quite a fuss.
We know that the teachers must often have paused
To remark over all of the trouble we caused.
The Halloween Party was quite a big fling,
We really did not want to end the darn thing.
And then to our most sincere delight
To the ninth grade canteens we received an invite.
At many activities our faces were spied,
And also to make changes we desperately tried:
Burr Playground at lunchtime soon had become,
Instead of the driveway, the place to have fun.
Before our exams, there was one more ordeal,
The ninth grade had yearbooks to sell, a great deal.
Each of us willingly ordered our books,
Because if we didn’t, we’d get scornful looks.
Next year’s color bearers were chosen one morn;
They were Dorothy Swanton and Robert Gorn.
Also Robert Appleton and Mary Ayres
Would help to carry the flags up the stairs.
By June, ’52, we were quite tuckered out
And ready for vacation to come about.
We left Bigelow then, feeling really quite spry.
We had but one year, before NEWTON HIGH.


For the third time and last, through Bigelow’s doors
Did we step, to walk on familiar floors.
Who cared what the other grades thought of us now?
For we were the top class. My goodness! And How!
Mr. Hanrahan, back from a year in Belgium,
Soon had us convinced we would have to succumb
To the fact that a marvelous teacher was he
In his own estimation, and that was for free.
Mr. Ring, while seriously doubting it all,
Wisely kept silent in his room ‘cross the hall.
Our building was crowded, for to our distress
There were two extra seventh grades we would have to impress.
But luckily they didn’t bother us much,
For they were so busy with planting and such.
Because of the excitement that was stirred up
By the Halloween Party and Harvest Hop,
The canteens were so overcrowded that we
Were deciding to let people in … for free.
Another pastime that the kids patronized
Were our ball games, that really were well organized.
Our charming cheerleaders were Bigelow’s delight.
They were Barbara Athy and Marcia White.
Plus Jeannie LaTona and Louise Whelan who stood
With some more cheerleaders, Connie Forbes and Wood.
Michele Gilman, Jane Brenner and Roberta Fritz, too
Helped to cheer on our boys to victories  … few.
Of course, there were blue slips, ominously connected
With dozens of tests that must be corrected.
Without Mrs. Kelly and Miss Hamilton
The battle with blue slips we ne’er would have won.
Mrs. G. never failed to brighten our day
With the novel of Ivanhoe, or an int’resting play.
Then there was that ridiculous rumor
That Mr. Frost had developed a keen sense of humor.
Election of officers was held in third term
And candidates giving their speeches would squirm.
An amazing discovery made pupils wary:
Only one person was running for Secretary.
Elected for president, a very light eater,
Well, what do you know? It was Dauten, Peter.
For Vice-President, Stephen Allen, with a yearbook to devise.
Secretary, Dot Swanton. Wasn’t that a surprise?
Jane Collier, our Treasurer soon had found out,
Class dues were for her to worry about.
The yearbook was now our biggest headache,
We hounded the students, and were willing to stake
Our reputations on the chance that we
Would get two hundred orders at a very small fee;
Only fifty cents down with $1.50 to pay
And the yearbook was yours to throw away.
Thus we ended our years at our dear Alma Mater
We go to the high school, knowing all that we ought to
Our years at Bigelow we’ll always remember
Since first we entered, that day in September.

Dorothy Swanton
Secretary, Class of 1953



Yellow Gingham by
(21 Stories)

/ Stories

This prompt brought back powerful memories of a yellow gingham skirt my mother made in the 70s. She and my father took square-dancing lessons for a while, the outfits were wild. He had western style shirts with ruffles and mother-of-pearl buttons. She made skirts and wore them with ruffled blouses. She also made very puffy multi-tiered net underskirts that made the whole business stick out a mile and rustle, several of which finally died a horrible death in the dress up box when my kids were small.

I don’t have any photos of my parents, sadly, but I did find some like photos that feel right.

When I sat down to write, a strange poem emerged — the closet in the poem existed in time before the skirt, when I was very small, the square-dancing skirt appears much later  — but here they are together somehow, perfectly impossible together.

Yellow Gingham

My mother’s closet is a place of dreams
Dark, cool, larger than my room
Scary with things like stockings with seams,
Fox furs with the heads still on.

Walk-in style, no door or windows,
Coats in bags, hats in boxes,
Suitcases and extra pillows,
Shoes stained by years of feet.

In the heat of the day
I hide behind the long soft dresses.
On my father’s side
Scratchy wool and leather belts.

The brightest thing in the dark with me,
a yellow gingham square dance skirt.
She wore it with a peasant blouse
she made to match his ruffled shirt.

Grandma Brown’s gone now, her furs
gone too. My dear gone dad
wears no more awful plaid.
The only one in Mom’s closet is her.

That dream stood in silence for so long,
mothballs, dust, until you asked.
Now the yellow gingham skirt she made,
becomes my mother’s song.






International Women’s Day by
(21 Stories)

Prompted By Women's Lib

/ Stories

Today I’m thinking about all the women I have worked with. Some have been bosses, many many colleagues, and now I have two women who are my employees (heaven help them). I want to honor the women who taught me how to work:

Cathy, the nurse manager at UCSF who hired me fresh out of nursing school and encouraged me to apply for a promotion and then another one.

Lisa and Lucille at Natus Medical – Lisa who was kind to me when I was pregnant and fought for me when I needed that, and Lucille who showed me how being a woman meant having the biggest brain in the room.

In my job today I am fortunate beyond words to work alongside women who model kindness, ferocity, intelligence, hard work, confidence, respect, loyalty, compassion, collaboration, compromise, strategic thinking, integrity, and humor in the face of — well, in the face of everything. I call them my Pantheon of Stanford Goddesses.

Women who helped me learn to work hard at motherhood and in the domestic sphere hold a special place in my heart, my own mother of course, my extended family, and many friends and neighbors.

A special shout out to working women who aren’t mothers and mothers who “don’t work” (insert hysterical laughter here) and who stood with me while I was living in that complex undifferentiated ambiguous space.

Is there room left for women artists and poets I love? That work is not a hobby, no matter how many times we’ve been told that.

In honor of International Women’s Day, I wear red for you, and my blood flows red for you every day. #IWD

I posted the above thoughts on Facebook on March 8, 2017, In honor of International Women’s Day. Several groups planned events called, variously, “Day Without Women” and “Women’s Strike,” etc, but I didn’t want to miss work. I’m making a difference there after a long time treading the proverbial water, so I wore red along with several of my colleagues, and I kicked some ass (which is what I get to do, now that I’m a Director and all). Ladies with a lot on their minds sometimes are slow to do all the things they love, but it’s never too late to share good news.



A Second Baseman Woman by
(21 Stories)

Prompted By Big Fan

/ Stories

The fact that I am woman of a certain age makes it easier to understand why I never played baseball as a child. I think I would have loved playing growing up, in a sand lot, the way my husband did, but that game is way way over. Our son played Little League for many years, an experience that turned me into a serious fan. (You can listen to me read a poem about the mom-fan years here — last name starts with a B.) Then the San Francisco Giants won the World Series in 2010 and I thought I would lose my mind. Where had I been all my life? Not watching this game that clearly is the best and most fun thing ever.

The first winning season I’m sure there was a second baseman somewhere, but you really couldn’t see much past the pitching that year. Oh Timmy, we hardly knew you.

During the Giant’s second winning season (2012), Marco Scutaro turned me into a Second Baseman Woman. You’ve heard men refer to a man who likes to look at a woman’s legs as “a leg man,” and one who prefers to watch a woman’s wonderful and strong rear end as “an ass man” right?  Well this is like that. I like men who play second base. (And if you are thinking about other kinds of first and second bases, well, that’s not entirely wrong, but not the point of this story!) The agility, the speed, the twisting and unexpected lightning turns in mid air! The jumps and leaps and impossible lunges across the indefinite space between second and first base, not to mention that sexy infield shift move, or all the times they get stepped on defending a steal from first. How many other players routinely get cleats in their shins?? I mean, com’on. And the way they get their uniforms completely dirty from rolling around on top of each other… moan…

Marco Scutaro was my hero of the 2012 season ’cause he was old (for a major league player) and he could crush the ball with RISP and he was just all around awesome with his slightly scruffy chin and soulful eyes. If you watched the last game of the NLCS, you’ll never forget him standing on the field when it was over in the pouring rain like an avenging and very dirty angel.

But he’s retired now, gone the way of many second basemen who wreck their backs with all that twisting and lunging. Thankfully the Giants have Joe Panik, or Joe Baby Panik, as I like to call him, who would be my favorite player these days if it weren’t for Hunter Honey Pence, as I like to call him, or Twitchy Pants when he’s on a roll. And even if Joe is sometimes benched when his back acts up (remember the leaping and sprawling?) there’s the almost more adorable Kelby Tomlinson (think Clark Kent). Here they are, doing some awesome second basemen things.

Joe Panik most awkwardly throwing mid-flying leap

Kelby Tomlinson avoiding the cleats and still making the catch

My son never played second base much. He was a catcher and an outfielder. That’s probably just as well. I don’t think it’s healthy for moms to lust after their sons the way I lust after the men who play second base. Oh my.

Domestic Poetry by
(21 Stories)

Prompted By Parenthood

/ Stories


I am a poet. With a long and irregular career that includes teaching for 15 years with California Poets in the Schools and a 2-year term as Poet Laureate for a suburb in northern California. I haven’t managed to publish a lot of poems over the years, but I’ve written every day about half of the time since college. (I’m a poet, that makes perfect sense.) I’ve written poems about boyfriends and lovers, cats, ex-husbands, my parents, Maine, my neighbors and friends. By far, most of my poems are about my kids.

For me, being a parent is almost indistinguishable from being a poet.

The kid poems are not all about parenting, but many many are. They are about fear. About pride and joy and baseball. There are poems about high chairs and swim practice and walking in the neighborhood with kids and yelling (me and them). Graduation poems recently.

Domestic poetry used to get a bad rap, and then some critics called it confessional poetry, and then that got a bad rap. I don’t care about raps so much (pun intended); for me domestic poetry is about private matters (no public odes to heroes or tragic epics) and relationships in a family. And of course knitting, soap, socks, veggies, pie, and chairs.

This prompt, Parenting, got me thinking that, for me, being a parent is almost indistinguishable from being a poet. When I first stepped onto poetry’s path, I didn’t think I’d get here. But from the first minute I became a parent – even before my first child was born – I knew poetry would keep me sane, help me laugh and let me cry, and be part of the way I would communicate to my children what I care about. I hope it’s working for them as well as it’s worked for me.

This poem was posted as a draft on the Cupertino Poet Laureate blog and then published in Tangents, a publication of the Stanford Masters in Liberal Arts program.


You are born
and the forsythia is confused again in Georgia
pushing out its yellow lips
against December-short days.

You are born
and the calla lilies rise in California
on green limbs
among the frost-stunted ferns,
white cups for sky.

You are born
and twenty-one years fly with their crows,
the hail storm of that night melting again
every morning
against your warm head.

Once, I held your spine in my hand,
straight beyond my making,
the spheres that had been buoyant in me

Now you are white and yellow
and waving with your own light,
daughter, at the lip
of an ocean
you will taste
in your own right.

for Stella
December 30, 2013


Babysitting with Coffee, Tea, or Me? by
(21 Stories)

Prompted By Working

/ Stories

My first “job” — like so many girls in the 1960s and 1970s — was babysitting. Twenty-five cents an hour at first, for some little kids in our apartment building when their parents went to a movie after dinner. By the time I was in high school, I had a circle of families I “sat” for on a regular basis, 50 cents an hour, a dollar an hour for more than one child. I was saving to pay for a high school graduation trip to Europe. That was a lot of babysitting.

I loved reading about the very friendly skies while the little kids were asleep.

Babysitting was pretty boring, because kids went to bed early and I mostly watched TV after my homework was done. Things like The Odd Couple and reruns of The Flying Nun and Hogan’s Heroes. Who remembers The Courtship of Eddie’s Father? But I digress. There was one family I didn’t sit for very much, and I don’t even remember the kids, but I do remember what I did in that house after everyone was in bed and why I loved going there.

Their family room was built out over the garage and they had some pretty interesting books in their bookcases — almost racy — at least for a 14- or 15-year old who didn’t know much about the ways of the world. My favorite book was Coffee, Tea, or Me? The uninhibited memoirs of two airline stewardesses. (You can still buy this book, believe it or not.) I used to lie on the floor on the wall-to-wall shag carpet and read about the “very very friendly” skies. I always knew when the parents returned home — as soon as the garage door opened, I could feel the floor vibrating underneath me, and I knew it was time to stash that book and pretend I was doing my homework.

Interestingly, I never dreamed of becoming a stewardess myself. Nothing about that romantic, international, on-the-edge lifestyle appealed to me. But I loved that cover, those curly letters and those curvy gals. The fantasy of freedom. The lure of a great story.


Shorts under Skirts by
(21 Stories)

Prompted By Good Riddance

/ Stories

If you’re not a woman, and/or weren’t a girl in the 1960s & 1970s, you won’t remember the yoga-like-torture-move-postures some of us went through on the school bus. Shorts on under your skirt in the bus on the way to school (because you weren’t allowed to wear them, so Mom wouldn’t let me?), shorts off under your skirt in the bus on the way home (because I wore them at school so I could hang out on the jungle gym and not be flashing everyone, but they weren’t allowed, so Mom wouldn’t let me?). (I love school buses, by the way, so can the next prompt be something we loved that has gone by the wayside that we wish would come back? School bus, top of my list).

I almost broke my neck sometimes, standing on one leg, making sure none of the boys could see, sheesh.

Don’t get me wrong. I love skirts and dresses. Still wear them all the time. But when we were little girls and had to wear them to school (no pants allowed until I was in 5th or 6th grade) the shorts-on-the-bus maneuver was a must. I almost broke my neck a few times, standing on one leg, making sure none of the boys could see, sheesh.

And I do not mean cute stretchy shorts, like the ones in the photo below.


I’d wear those every day even now. I mean these. With zippers and waistbands and darts and pinchy crotches.


Sitting by the Window by
(21 Stories)

Prompted By Turning Points

/ Stories

Getting divorced is not fun. Not not not. In my case, it was the last greatest gift that my first husband gave me, and I am grateful to him for having the courage to leave me when he knew that we were lost and I couldn’t couldn’t see to take the step. That being said, the pain was spectacular and not something I was prepared for. This story is about the moment when I realized I would live.

After my first husband left me, I thought I would die of the pain. I was wrong.

We fell in love my freshman year in college, lived together off and on, and got married the February of my senior year. I had graduated early the previous December, such was the hurry I was in. I think I understand my motivations now (that’s a lot $$ of therapy) but then I was just glazed over with love and rarin’ to go. We lived in San Diego for a while, where we’d gone to college, and when he was offered a great job in the Bay Area, we came back north. Our families were within 50 miles. We bought a condo close to his job that we could barely afford. I worked in a fabric store, then went back to school to study nursing. We had a very cute puppy, who later had puppies. Our lives were normal (a warning sign?) and I was happy. I wasn’t very old and not particularly smart about some things.

One night, after a dinner and dancing party hosted by the Emergency Room in the hospital where I worked, we came home late and tipsy. He said he’d sleep on the couch. Weird, but okay. The next morning I woke up and came downstairs; he pretty much launched right in with “I don’t love you anymore, I don’t want to be married to you anymore, and I don’t want to be married at all to anyone right now.” What? This was not my beautiful life.

Needless to say, I was shocked and horrified, embarrassed and very confused. Eventually I got angry which didn’t last long (although I did haul him out of his office one day and pummel him with my little girl fists in the parking lot) and then came the fear, self doubt, and just plain stomach churning pain. Long story short, my family and friends rallied, his family was furious, my grandmother reassured me over the phone from Florida that I would find love again. I stayed in school, kept my job, and recovered from a bizarre eye infection I am convinced was caused by stress. I cut my hair so short my father asked me, “Does anybody like it?” I kept swimming, and a very wise MD in the ER reminded me not to drink whisky in the morning at the end of a night shift.

My mother helped me find an apartment that wasn’t a dark moldy cave. It was tiny but on the second floor and had two large windows. The one in the bedroom looked out into a huge magnolia tree. I could just fit between the bed and the window if I sat on the floor curled up in a ball; I spent a lot of time sitting there, looking out that window. It was a good place to cry.

One day sitting by the window, it occurred to me that it might not be possible to hurt more than I did at that moment. Somehow, this thought became the small tender idea that this was as bad as it was going to get, that the only thing that could happen now was that I might start to feel better. I can’t explain it. It doesn’t matter. We talk about how a light bulb goes off in your mind when you have a good idea; this was more like a window, that had been smudged and greasy with smoke and shut tight, opening a crack. There might be fresh air to breath again. The sun might shine. I was going to live.

This really is pretty hokey, I realize. But I’ve never forgotten the moment when things turned. It felt like something popped. Maybe I was just exhausted and fell asleep for a second. Maybe an angel visited. Maybe my butt was finally sore enough from sitting wedged into that tiny spot on that crummy carpet for so long. I’m sure there is a neurological explanation for what my brain did. Science is cool like that. You know the way a pendulum works? I had reached my equilibrium position and was on the upswing. In astronomy, the point opposite the zenith is the nadir. One is the highest point across from where the observer sits, the other the point in the celestial sphere directly below. My heart had arrived at its nadir and lifted like a planet continuing in its orbit.

Things were not all flowers and sunshine. The divorce was quick, but the healing was long. My mother taught me to pray (and many of us grew up singing) “to everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” Whether you believe in a divine or chaotic order (and yes, I know that’s an oxymoron), things move. I turned that day. I’m still turning, up and down, around and around.

A Journey to Maine by
(21 Stories)

Prompted By Travel

/ Stories

Maine. My favorite destination for most of my life. Land of my mother’s family, we’ve been traveling here for years. The old folks came on the train, by boat, by clunker car, by ferry. My mother was a teenager when the first bridge to the island (where our family’s compound is) was built; her father was part of the committee that raised the money and oversaw construction. I was a teenager when the new bridge was put in, higher off the water in the back river, so that more boats could get around that side   at high tide. The Main Road was paved before I was born, but East Short Road was only paved after I graduated from college and only part way. My mother and sister still live on a dirt road.

Maine is hard to get to from just about anywhere. But I'll make that journey every time.

grampy at bridge 1950

The first time I flew to Maine from California was 1967 or ’68, and my parents gave us all a thrill and flew us first class. I remember the United stewardesses gave us little “Future Stewardess” wings, coloring books, and other goodies. Our fancy lunch came with real silverware and cloth napkins. The chef (a new word) with a tall white hat (not something I had ever seen before) rolled a little cart between the seats and tossed the salad in a bowl right in front of us. We were charmed.


One used to be able to fly non-stop from San Jose to Portland, ME, but those days are long gone. One year I almost got on the plane with my kids and left my husband behind, just to turn at the last minute and see him sauntering toward the gate with his cup of coffee – he made it in time, the flight attendant muttering under his breath about “some people.”  Over the years, and a few nights on the floors of airports like Denver, Chicago, and Dallas, we learned to fly non-stop from San Francisco to Boston. At least we got to the East Coast in one fell swoop and there’s a great bus from Logan to Portland. One year we were delayed arriving in Boston, and had to take a taxi to a motel in Saugus after midnight. The taxi driver was a maniac and I taught my small un-churched children “The Lord’s Prayer” that night in the back seat as we hurtled and bounced along in the dark. All that was left was a room with two double beds; my son slept with my husband and my daughter slept with me. Both grown ups were black and blue in the morning from the kids’ small but nevertheless pointy elbows and knees.

There are so many stories. This year I came to Maine during peak mosquito/tourist season (not my norm) for family reasons. I flew non-stop from SF to Boston and my best laid plans still fell apart at the seams (if that’s not too many metaphors at once). Someone who was supposed to pick me up couldn’t, so I made a few emergency phone calls and waited in the designated smoking section outside the terminal for the second-to-last bus to Maine. I am not sure why they make Mainers wait with the smokers. Logan could stand a little redesign. I didn’t have time to buy a sandwich, so I nibbled on the smashed homemade cookies I was taking to my mom. I arrived at the wonderful Portland Transit Station too late for one relative to pick me up, but another one rescued me, took me home and poured me a cold beer.

It all worked out. It always does. I am not a person who likes to travel, per se, but I love to be other places. So, I’m trying to be zen about the traveling itself. Always carry a bag of almonds, a bottle of water, and knitting. Buy a trashy magazine and charge the in-flight internet to the company. At least when I finally got to Westport Island, nobody had to get out of the car and wake up the ferryman to see if he could take us across the river on his rickety one-car-per-trip boat. Mom tells that story; the ferry only went if the tide was right and the ferryman wasn’t drunk.

Travel is a rather pedestrian word, it makes me think of travail. I prefer journey. These trips to Maine are always journeys of the heart.

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