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December 11, 2017
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Root Cellar

The name game

We have a new kitten, a bouncing, tail-chasing three month old “silver tabby,” now named Ralphie. He came to us from the litter of a friend’s cat after months of relentless sweet-talk and wheedling from my 13-year-old daughter.

He wasn’t always named Ralphie, but an R-starting name complemen-ted the names of our other two cats, named Rocket and Raven. (Giving your children names that all begin with the same letter is a practice I’ve never really liked, but it works well with animals.)  Read more

Sam and the Cannonsville

Sam has learned an awful lot in the past two years reporting for Hancock’s weekly paper, The Hancock Herald. Reporting on planning board hearings and football games to house fires, giant hog weed and CheCheTheClown, he has gotten a great introduction into the workings of a community and what makes a good story.  Read more

Spring in Autumn

I have been planting hyacinth and daffodil bulbs during these first unseasonably warm days of November—digging the husked, bulging roots into the dirt beneath the shriveled, crunchy leaves flooding my garden. I work with the image of pungent purple and yellow trumpeting flowers in my mind’s eye.

This fall I have been thinking about and looking for the earliest signs of spring, and I think that I have found some. In fact, we could say spring is already here in the bulbs in the ground, in the velvety bud scales of the magnolia’s autumn buds and in the blooming witch hazel.  Read more

This well-worn house

Our old house has seen a lot. At 163 years old, it has come through the eras of the oil lamp and the sad iron. The wood-burning cook stove and the outhouse.  Read more

The escape artist

My daughter, Lily, was at camp when her cat went missing.

It was a “What if…” situation we had all been dreading. But it was inevitable, wasn’t it? The way that cat (an all-black, two-year-old named Raven but forever, endearingly called “the kitten”) sprinted to the porch door whenever it was opened. The way she sat in the window, mesmerized by the birds at the feeder. And, when she did manage to escape, the way she ran straight under the porch or up toward Route 97, at the back of our house.  Read more

The branch-burning party

At the victorious start of summer vacation last month, my schoolteacher husband, John, fell out of the old maple tree in our yard, breaking an assortment of bones and injuring his shoulder. In the aftermath of his accident, the rest of our summer began. One filled with hospitals, doctor’s visits and physical therapy appointments.  Read more

The Manta Ray

In June it was announced that the building that housed the Ken Wilson Chevrolet dealership showroom near Binghamton, NY, will be demolished.

A distinctive feature of the roadside landscape along the Vestal Parkway, this unique building is known as “The Manta Ray” to me and my family because of its roof, which looks like the graceful pectoral fins of a manta ray.  Read more

The giant moths

June is the month of the giant moths.

My daughter, Lily, discovered a luna moth clinging with its velvety legs to our windowsill earlier this month. It was our first big moth sighting of the season.  Read more

Narcan training

Our loved ones are dying. This simple statement tells the whole complex and terrifying story of the resurgence of heroin addiction. Here in our Delaware River communities the national epidemic has a local face—everyone has been affected or knows someone affected by the nightmare of heroin addiction.  Read more

The windows of ‘The Old House’

In the house where I grew up there was a large, walk-in closet at the top of the stairs. The closet might have been a tiny second-floor bedroom at one time, when the house was new and lodged more people. As a kid, I spent lots of time there, behind a curtain of dresses and winter coats, lounging on an old, quilt-covered trunk and reading. I read “Ballet Shoes” and “Anne of Green Gables” and later “Winesburg, Ohio” and “Walden,” while I fought off the static pieces of silver tinsel that escaped from the stored boxes of Christmas decorations.  Read more