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Life Topics

The Water’s Edge

I waded at the water’s edge
Took more time
Simply feeling dread
Knew I wanted more
In life
But I stood there and
Remained on the shore

“The water is fine!”
I could hear them scream
It still scared me though,
I wondered why
it seemed like a dream.

My mind had thoughts
that started to preach,
“Stay safe, stay dry
Stay on the beach

So I lingered, happily
Of course I will wait
for the tide
to roll me out naturally,

“There are sharks out there’”
Careful people would warn,
Waiting to feed!
I still remained torn

Though still
felt the fire
enveloping my need
To learn how to swim
and conquer the sea.

Life Topics

An “All is Well” Story

Just a little story today to cheer you.

My mother told me that she went out for lunch recently and met a woman who, at age 90, fairly crackled with life and creative spirit.

“If you lived here, you’d be friends with her for sure,” she told me on the phone.

Turns out, the woman’s father was a poet who won the Welsh Eisteddfod, and the woman – my as yet unmet friend – is a poet and artist herself.

My mother told her that when I was young, I used to go out for a walk and then come home and go straight upstairs to write a poem about it. Then I’d come down and hand the poem to my mother who would say, “That’s nice, Katie – but what does it MEAN?”

The woman nodded sympathetically and said,

“That’s a writer. They just have to write.”

And with that comment, and my mother’s story about meeting the poet, my heart warms with gratitude and also with a kind of reverence for the unfolding story of time.

In time, we come to understand each other.

In time, we love all the deeper.

Wait long enough and the understanding comes.

Life Topics

An Accidental Guest

I returned home after my early routine swim at the gym as the gray muted dawn was turning to daylight.  Although the leaves haven’t turned colors yet, the damp smell of rain and the scent of weathering leaves was in the air.  Closing the door gently, as not to wake my husband, I quietly stepped down into the entryway.  Taking off my shoes, I could feel the cold tile floor.  Autumn was slowly inching its way into the house.  I changed out of my swimsuit and hung the towel and suit in the only warm sliver of sunshine on the back deck.  It was time to start the day.

Walking into the kitchen, I noticed out the front window, a person taking a walk on my street.  She was above average height with flowing, below the shoulders, blonde hair covered with a baseball cap.  I stood for a moment registering that I might know her.  She had earbuds in, and her gait was long with a bit of a rhythmic lift.  I could tell she was listening to something upbeat.  Then, it hit me.  That’s Kate! I have a soft spot for Kate as her company always brings me to a place of comfort and delight.  Gosh, I haven’t seen her in such a long time I thought.  I had to invite her in.

I ran outside and caught her off guard.  Kate! I called from the end of the short driveway.  She realized it was me, and gave me a bright smile and a hello, as she removed her earbuds.   We are always happy to see each other.  Before she could say anything else, I said, “Come in for a cup of coffee.”  She quickened her pace, as she walked toward me, and said, “I would love to.”  No discussion, no place to go.  My heart soared.  It felt like “the old days” when people would just drop in for coffee, like Lucy and Ethel did.   No plans, just a spontaneous encounter.

Hugs and smiles and giddy thoughts danced inside the kitchen.  I learned she takes her coffee with milk, and don’t be stingy with the milk!  I, on the other hand, am a hardcore strong black coffee drinker.  She complimented my kitchen, and I showed her what knitting I was working on, as we slowly made our way toward the back door.  It was a sweatshirt-optional type of day before the bluster of cold winds or frost had arrived.  My husband sat in his chair in the corner of the yard where the sun shone brightly.  We moved outside toward the comfy seats under the small pavilion with a covered gas firepit.  It was shady, but still held some infused warmth of the sun and our friendship.

We laughed at our mothers, our antics and generally “talked treason” as the Irish say.  Kate is an academic, teacher, writer, poet, musician, and Fairy Queen.  She believes in magic, and she believes in herself.  I share her love of writing, poetry, and the Irish culture. In fact, she will soon be teaching the Irish language at Harvard.  Impressive.  Kate talked about the process of writing, as I confessed, I was writing a stalled memoir.  And, although she is a published poet, she has also recently finished writing a novel.  We enthusiastically encouraged each other’s creativity in following through on our beloved projects.  “I want to be a real writer” I said, and she told me I could do it.  I believe her.

The remains of my coffee were starting to get cold, as we talked about Irish musicians.  I should have offered her another cup, but she was starting to shift, as if to stand.  It was time to really start my day.  Getting up, she said, “It’s time to move on.”  I was slightly disappointed, as the time just flew by.  Enjoying simple moments with a friend can introduce you to aspects of yourself you may not see.  It’s like being in a foreign place and finding the only person who speaks your language. Then we walked toward the door, with a short stop to scratch my dog McDermott, then out to the driveway.  As we stood in the sun, we reiterated words of encouragement and support, as friends do.  Kate took her earbuds out of her pocket and held them in her hand.  We hugged and said goodbye.  The last thing I said was, “if you’re ever walking by, just give a knock to see if I’m home.”

Maybe I’ll see her again soon.

Life Topics

Sink or Swim

5:50am.  I struggle to catch my breath when I reach the edge.  Lifting my head out of the water on the final stroke, I swallow a small amount of water and cough.  The powerful smell of chlorine tightens my chest and causes me to wheeze.  Is this supposed to be fun?  I momentarily watch the swimmers in the other lanes flutter kick and stretch moving through the water with grace and strength, lap after lap.   My style looks more like I’m trying to survive a shark attack, slapping my arms ahead and frantically kicking, an awkward ballet.

I always stop after a lap and take a moment, as I look down the lane to the opposite edge.  Not ready to swim again, I usually switch off swimming with a little water aerobics.  Then I prance across the pool, pumping my arms and lifting my knees.  I’m not exactly what you would call a “swimmer” because of my mental and physical situation.  Basically, I get bored very easily and my body doesn’t fight it.  If my mind says, “I’m done swimming” then we’re done swimming.  So, it’s always a game to keep my interest fresh by thinking positive thoughts and making positive strokes.

My post-menopausal body has not been good for me.  I stiffen up and ache when I sit too long, my hips are in agonizing pain when I walk.  I’ve gained over 100 pounds in the past 2 decades, have moderate hair loss, am a medicated depressive, have bad skin, and worse vision.  My body runs hot like a child with a modest temperature.  I’m never cold.  My only preference for exercise seems to be taking up swimming.  I’m at the point of sink or swim, because my options are limited and so are my hips.  I’d love to go for a long walk, but that’s not possible.  So here I am, fighting for small wins and trying to stay afloat, before the world wakes up.  At least, I’m rewarded with an adjacent hot tub to soak in after all my hard work.

6:20am.  I’ve been at this for a half hour and am ready to quit.  I need passionate motivation and a gallon of strong coffee.  I’ll change to the backstroke to relax a little as my eyes are fixed on the contours of the roof.   Less chance of swallowing water, while giving me a chance to think.   As I reach back, I take a deep breath in, kick, pull, glide.  Breath, reach, kick, glide.  My breath creates a calming rhythm.  I’m not worried about work, or anything else for that matter.  My breath lulls me to a state of contentment like I’m in another world, by myself.

I’m coming around to the idea of swimming.   Sure, my choices of activity are few, but these early mornings have worked out well.  Like Yoga, you get the benefit of exercise, but it also clears your mind.  The past few years have been rough on my body, as I am twice the person I used to be, while sluggish and sedimentary. However, taking baby strokes has been the answer.  Just dip into the pool and pull yourself to the other side.  Repeat.  It’s as simple as that.  You don’t have to look pretty doing it.  Just breath.

Life Topics


All the world’s a Screen,

And all the men and women talking heads;

They have their platform removals, pending drops;

And Stanleys broadcast playing many roles,

Their avatars creating Seven Pages.

At first the Newbie, tablet swipes and scrolls

Soft-fisted with an iPad in his arms;

And then the locked-down, home-schooled child abed

With LED-lit face, glitching and muted,

The mirrored classmates screen-sharing Minecraft.

And then the Incel spanking it 

On Pornhub, vision boards are falling short

To manifest the sex The Secret promised; 

The Gamer (“level googol Call of Duty!”),

A cosplay Stormtrooper, will seek respect 

By defecating in the Capitol.

Next comes the Podcaster (subscribe and like)

The straddled fences, senses cooking naught

But bitter scraps of massive scapulae;

He stirs the pot, secures his childrens’ futures,

And, neutering her mates and playthings, breaks

The air to state that they are welcome.

The sixth age shifts to opiates for pain, 

The shame (collected, shoved aside) will hide

Some lies desired by a mind that finds

Comradery in netizens who send 

Death threats to scientists and former friends. 

Last page of all that ends this trendy app:

Persona Segunda, Avatar the Seagull

By Chekov Trek AI interpreter

FaceTime solitaire pen pal suicide 

Notes in comic sans.


Life Topics

Queer Eye

I’ve never been much of a social person.  In fact, being in the “out” crowd is perhaps where I belong.  I’ve been called weird and strange so many times.  In gatherings I tend to be an outlier, off to the side, at a distance to observe more so than partake, taking a cat’s eye view.  I notice the popular one, the supporter and the arbiter.  A crowd gathers around them.   They’re talking about things that I would only have something negative to say.  So, why would I join?  They converse in a way that draws in the observers with little opinion and even less self-esteem.  I won’t be part of that.

Instead, I choose misfits, malcontents, and uniquely disguised individuals to seek out. They are easy to find in other corners of the room.  I may find my voice there.  Conversations can start off somewhat strangely, as topics range from the simple to sublime, useless facts, fun trivia, and common ground. I hope to get a toe hold on the discussion.  After all, these are my people.  Unique points of view ensue and can form from a place of fancy.  They have my full attention.

On this “island” I feel free to express myself without full conviction or contempt.  I’m not revealing too much.  Socializing has some pitfalls for the humble.  However, I like how Bill knows a lot of useless facts and Tammy refers to her sick son as The Puker.  I laugh too loud, and it feels good. I lean in to hear Scott give a mock guilty confession about shoplifting at age 8.  I don’t have a story like that. It feels like the B team is hitting it off.  We agree to move to the fire and gather around it like moths.

The crackling fire is background music to our conversations.  The glowing flames change the way people look, making them seem surreal.  Chairs are fitted tight around the curves, and we all relax.  I tell a lame joke and notice Kevin’s orange face lights up when he smiles, while the others politely laugh.  We continue to amuse each other with antidotes and tales of absurdity.  I start to think, I do like to socialize but have always been a little apprehensive.  Maybe not wanting to get too close to anyone, to reveal who I really am.

After a while, the entire party moves to the fire pit.  One by one, people trickle over to see what we’re talking about and to get warm.  The circle widens to let them in, and a whole new genre is created.  Everyone is truly enjoying each other.  Misfits and dilettantes mingle with the popular and good looking.  A common thread appears out of nowhere and voices of agreement and laughter erupts.

I started this evening off with a queer eye, and ended with empathy, camaraderie, and friendship.  And dare I say, a chance to comfortably socialize.  I may not be popular or wildly interesting, but I can hold my own.  Sometimes it’s with a little liquid confidence oiling my ego, I find it easier to fully engage.  We all have our vices.  I’m learning to be more inclusive, both in giving and taking of my time; reflecting.  Because you can’t reach out without first reaching in.

Pull up a chair and let’s talk.

Life Topics

The Porch

The Craftsmen style porch is solid and new with the signature Cape Cod shakes on the outside and fresh white trim. Rocking chairs as well as overstuffed chairs line the inside making it an extension of this comfortable beach house.  I move a rocking chair to the top of the porch steps to get a better view of the street and slowly rock. The neighborhood is still asleep.  I had figured out how to use the coffee machine when I got up, so a warm mug was my companion.  Sipping hot hazelnut coffee, I entertain random thoughts and quirky ideas that I seldom have the luxury to do.   There’s nothing on the schedule today.   To my left, the sun slowly arcs upward as I watch it momentarily rest behind a tree.  A little further away, I can hear crashing waves and cawing gulls at the shoreline.  We are only a short sandy block from the ocean. Dave and Jayne are out early for their daily beach stroll.   It is 5:30am and I’m enjoying this alone time rapt in thought and sunshine.

We were excited to get away.  We had been to Dave and Jayne’s a few times, but this was the first time this summer.  We don’t often see them, except for a few get-togethers here and there.  They invited us for a couple of days of total relaxation and friendship.  We took off on a Thursday making it a quick 2-hour ride without the mangled weekend Cape traffic.  As we approached Thomas Avenue at 3pm, we could see beachgoers walking home along the main road.  They looked tired and tanned, lugging chairs, bags, and kids.  The salty breeze and a hint of sunscreen wafted into our open car windows.  We had arrived.  We turned onto Thomas and saw Dave’s dark blue car parked in front.

From the driveway, we couldn’t believe our eyes.  They had renovated, adding a new front porch.  Their house looked totally different.  The cedar shakes, bright trim and thick columns welcomed you from the street.  The house was transformed from a bland façade to a bonified classic beach house.  We were met at the back door by Dave and Jayne, where they greeted us with hugs as they ushered us in.  Jayne was preparing an early dinner of seafood for Dave to grill when ready.   Jamie and I went outside with Dave to have drinks on the porch before dinner.  I was immediately hooked.  This new space was bright with wide plank floors and a high roof.  To me, it felt alive with a gentle breeze, muted street noises and glowing sunshine.  I found my happy place for the visit.

From that point on, the porch was our coveted gathering spot.  Coffee in the morning, relaxing after the beach, drinks before dinner, nightcap at bedtime.  We only slept in the house.  All our waking hours were spent either at the beach or talking for hours on the porch.  We drove into town for dinner one night having pizza and ice cream, then walked around the historic picturesque harbor.   The evening was bustling with excited tourists and townies alike.  Jayne and I found an old bench along the winding harbor walkway to finish our ice cream and people watch for a few minutes, while Dave and Jamie talked under a nearby tree.  I would jump up to scratch a cute dog every so often, as I am weirdly obsessed with dogs.  Finishing our ice cream, we meandered a few blocks back to the car, and eventually back to our anchor – the front porch.

We bonded over a couple of days, sharing stories and experiences all while feeling the salt air on our skin and the warm ocean breeze in our hair.  Sitting in comfy chairs, the dim porch light above created an intimate setting to unwind, tell truths, and laugh uncontrollably.  It’s not easy to find friends and we were all silently comforted by our long-time commitment to each other and the joy of spending time together.  I’m convinced that a house isn’t a home without a unique place within it to bring the people you love.  In this case, it was that wonderful pristine new porch.  Dave and Jayne confessed that they hardly used the porch before we came, but might start now.  They may have realized, through outside eyes, how warm memories can continue to be created here.  A special place that makes your heart grow fonder.

Life Topics

Love Letter to JP

What can I say about JP?  Well, let me introduce you to one of the most admired persons in my life.  He is not only kind, considerate and loving, but he has overcome obstacles of which many of us have never experienced. I applaud his stamina and grit.  Truthfully, I used to dream about the “old JP” that I had missed, the guy who showed up early for every party.  He would bring a dish I could never imagine making but would bring so much flair to it that you had to try it.  Boy, could he cook.  His anticipation was contagious.  But, I realize now that the “before” JP has never really gone away.  He may not cook the same way, but he is still there in heart and in soul.   Only now, he is contained in a chair that only makes you a more captive audience.  His smile and kisses are as sweet as they always were.  Life is good with JP.

I love you.  Since the day I met you, I realized that you were a one-of-a-kind person.  Your love exudes humor and mild contempt, making me proud and tickled.  Sarcasm does not escape me.  We both appreciate a good laugh.  Your playful banter brings me to a place of delight.  You may be confined but your humor knows no limits.  Come to my yard and play, I secretly ask, and you oblige.  How you doin?

Your relationship with Lynn is an example of true commitment and faith.  We can all see how much love is between you.  That’s all we wanted for you.  After a few tentative relationships, the woman of your dreams finally showed up.  We were happy and a little relieved to say the least.  She is warm, kind and lovely; everything you deserve.  And now, she has proven that love knows no limits.  Her commitment is quiet and profound; selfless.   And you return that love in droves.  A truly strong partner.

This is my love letter to you.  You have made a grand impression on me.  You have taught me so much about what is important in life.  When you show up at bocce, I am excited to see and touch you.  I am happy to be a part of your life.  I may not see you a lot, but you’ve made a deep impression on me.  I carry your smile, your compassion and wit with me.  Yet, I somehow feel unworthy.  Why?  Because I could never face your challenges as you have with such dignity and grace.  You are my superhero, my true friend.

So, here we are.  Just two people enjoying our life.  Happy to spend time together whenever we can.  Wondering why life has thrown so many curve balls.  But at least we’re at the plate swinging.  Looking for the sweet spot on that bat, that’s going to hit it out of the park.  You’ve hit it out, way out.  I have watched you go from life of the party to a life of achievement and happiness.  Bringing your true self to a place of contentment and joy.  I will certainly drink to that because, well, I drink to everything.  You know that about me.

Cheers to my friend!  Thank you for never giving up on me, while I’ve never given up on you.  We are two peas enjoying the pod.  A friendship that will never die.

All my love.

Life Topics


My attention span is short at best.  Like a dog, if I see a squirrel, I immediately divert my energy.  I find myself scrolling through Facebook and all the “squirrels” have me bouncing around.  I’m noticing that I get caught up in all kinds of nonsense.  I can pass by the pleasantries and the sappy, yet poignant posts, the quotes and life lessons with an occasional share.  I’m not that insightful really.  Why not share something I never would have posted myself, like children are a treasure, believe in yourself, live in the moment, etc.?  Instead, where do I usually go?  To the visual pitfalls of lazy curiosities.

Don’t show me a recipe video or I’ll be hooked from start to finish, deciding if it’s too trailer trash to make.  Well, if the main ingredient is tatter tots and cheese it might spike my interest. How easy, I could make that.  Could I really serve it?  Probably not, but I have to see it to the end.  There might be an all-important secret to this delightful dish, as only I could master.  As it builds, adding more and more ingredients, I start shifting and make a mental note of the full list of items added.  Way too much work.  Plus, I have to remember that I don’t really like cooking.  I like to eat.

Oh, there’s a video showing someone fold napkins 200 different ways.  Perfect, I need to see that.  A swan and a flower, who knew?  Beautifully printed fabric napkins were used to create an amazing table to impress the most discerning guest.  If I practiced, I might be able to pull off a swan, I think to myself.  I was looking for the easiest elegant one to try.  Then I remembered that my paper napkins are always an afterthought thrown on the table at the last minute.  No heavy lifting there.

Hey, a video of someone refinishing a piece of furniture.  Need to get a refresher in this skill.  I’ve refinished items in the past, but it wouldn’t hurt to get more tips.  I like how they speed up sections of the tutorial which makes it seem less arduous, but I know the truth.  You need a lot of patience to undertake these kinds of projects. And even more patience to stay interested from start to finish.  When they put on an ugly piece of hardware or stain, I’m out.  The final product is something I wouldn’t put in my house.  And, if I did display it, I’d have to consider refinishing it.  Here we go again.

A one-of-a-kind cleaning product.  Yes, interested!  Show me how this works.  Spray on any surface, and voila, like new.  No scrubbing. I like that.  It cleans toilets, pots and pans, sneakers, sinks and furniture.  It’s a miracle, tell me more.  Maybe it could be a dessert topping too, like shown on Saturday night live.  I wouldn’t be surprised.  Heartfelt testimonials follow, showing an undying commitment to the product.  They seem so happy and complete with this find.  And as luck would have, it’s on sale.  Easy payments.  I almost push the button when I realize I don’t clean.  We have a cleaning woman, so we just mindlessly write a check.

Scrolling, scrolling, hmmmm.  I’m only seeing birthday and news posts.  No videos I can get into at the moment.  Where are the infomercials on building a tree house, 100 ways to braid your hair, or how to remove disgusting black heads?  I feel like there’s nothing left for me to watch today.  I’m tapped out.  Maybe it’s time to put the phone down.

Ooooh a squirrel!