On January 1, 2020

The sun is up on the first day of a new year. All the yapping about a new decade took me back a few years. Do you remember the hysteria in the last few months of 1999, when the over-educated, the misguided, and the crazed conspiracy theorists joined forces to predict and prepare for worldwide […]

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Christmas at Longwood

Many of the botanical gardens in the United States are resplendent at Christmas time. When we were visiting the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden in September, Santa’s elves (with decidedly green thumbs) were already at hard work on a holiday display that my Maine family describes as breathtaking. This year, we had a family day-out to […]

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Short takes from our Christmas

With a little luck, after Christmas, we rest. We sit back to enjoy the grace of a crisp, but not cold, winter morning that began with a brilliant sunrise. We pick up that book we’d set aside for the last two crazed weeks. We fully appreciate the transient charm of the decorations that, in a […]

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On holiday ‘table talk’

It’s way too early to be obsessing about the complexity of timing that a full-tilt Thanksgiving dinner requires, so I’ve been obsessing instead with the need to keep the day pleasurable and comforting. Translation: No heated discussions about politics or anything else (including tasteless jokes) that makes volume escalate and tempers flare. By nature reasonably […]

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A luscious bite of Red Kite

Last summer, our Vermont family came to visit bearing a gift… a sweet (pun intended) looking container filled with what my beau-frère* pronounced “the best caramels and toffee you’ll ever eat.” As you read this, keep in mind that I am by no means a candy addict, unless we are talking Neuhaus chocolates, which we […]

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The birthday brunch

It isn’t easy to be a Christmas baby. It’s a lifetime of competition with much of the world’s very favorite holiday when your birthday falls on December 23 or thereabouts. When my daughter was tiny, we had half-birthday parties for her in June, after school was out. In adulthood, she’s mostly enjoyed her own celebrations […]

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Our cousins, our elves

My cousins Liz and Dorothy*, Liz’s husband Buddy, and their Shih Tzu Bella came all the way from Maine and New Hampshire, in December, to exhaust themselves decorating our house for Christmas. I helped, of course, but mostly I just let the elves have at it.  When the Good Lord was doling out talents, Dorothy […]

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Ramp up to Turkey Day

I woke to this early AM text: I’m supposed to be brining the bird right now. Know what I’m doing? Playing solitaire on the computer! What’s wrong with me? Apart from a good chuckle, that text reassured me (as I did its author), that I’m not the only one who bogs down in the hoopla […]

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Martha Pearl to the rescue

When I volunteer to “bring something,” my contribution is invariably an “old chestnut” whose outcome is never subject to question. For July 4th, a chocolate cake seemed the logical all-American choice. Given a miserable heat wave and the three loads of wash in progress, you’d think I would simply have thrown together my go-to, never […]

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‘Celebration’ cookies: a memory

Many moons ago, in another life and after something of a rough patch, I rang the doorbell of a modest, flat style home to present myself to a prospective landlady. I’d just seen the listing for a three-bedroom apartment in a solid city neighborhood, with church and school and people I knew all within a […]

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