I’m proud to say I spent the evening removing the nasty caulk from my tub. Four and a half years ago my brother did more plumbing work on this two family, two kitchen, one water heater, three bath house than I would have thought possible. Unfortunately the caulk on the third floor bath was jinxed. He did it once and it failed, so he did it again, warning me to let it cure at least two days before using the shower. I did. And it failed again. 

Four and a half years later the tub has been growing mold and the nasty caulk has been getting to me. A couple of months ago when I was doing another house project, painting the newly remodeled first floor bath, I came across instructions for removing and replacing old caulk. It’s a diy project I thought I could master. Several youtubes and online tutorials later I brought my 5 and 1 up from the basement and started to scrape. For a few minutes here and there since then I’d scrape away at the gray and mottled caulk, imagining a day I’d take on the larger job of pulling it all out and replacing it. 

Yesterday was my Monday in Northampton. Richard and I thought we’d be productive. He gathered the compost, trash, and recycling in anticipation of a trip to the transfer station. We got our rakes and started on the driveway where piles of black walnuts had fallen, thinking we’d bag them as yard waste . Part way into it I got the idea we should gather the nuts to eat. After reading  another online tutorial I figured out how to remove the walnut husks, drive over them! Sadly, my keys were missing.  Turns out my purse was at Local Burgy where we’d had our last brisket sandwich of the season the night before. We drove back and forth over the nuts in Richard’s car, drove to the transfer station, retrieved my purse and made a diversion to a new coffee place in Easthampton which just happened to be down the street from a hardware store (and delicious), where we planned to buy rubber gloves to handle the black walnuts so as not to get stained hands, and ended up getting supplies for my caulking job. 

That’s how projects work for me, as you like it style, one lost key, a pile of  black walnuts in the driveway, a new coffee shop across town, a hardware store that keeps the gloves near the caulk remover, and I find myself in the bathroom at 11 pm after driving home from Richard’s, scraping away at the caulk, looking forward to skipping yoga tonight so I can get down to business. 

I’m hoping to find the gap between the tiles and tub nice and dry in the morning and to locate the mineral spirits Richard thinks are in my basement on the painting shelves, which I’ll need to clean up from the silicone caulk I bought in Easthampton, to take out the caulk I used to paint the first floor bathroom a few months ago when I stumbled on directions for this project out of the caulk gun and replace it with the silicone bathroom caulk, tape the lines with painters tape, and if all goes well, caulk the tub before work in day care tomorrow morning. 

I set myself a goal this year while my daughter is in boarding school to use some of my extra time to work on the house. I’ve got lists of projects I’d like to do, including lots of painting and sorting and cleaning, as well as perking up the third floor bathroom. 

Tomorrow night Matt the electrician will visit and help me figure out the bathroom fan, which seems not to be working well, and look at some other projects I can’t do, including replacing the overhead fixture in the day care kitchen with only one working socket. 

It’s a low budget run of projects this time around. Last year’s exterior work and day care kitchen broke the bank. This round it’s DIY and small projects that need doing to keep the place from going down. Maybe next year or maybe never I’ll get to remodel the kitchens. For now I’m having fun learning new things and tackling places in the house that have been in need of attention, figuring bit by bit I’ll cheer myself up and feel less overwhelmed by being a single mom on a budget living and running a family day care complete with tenant in a big old house in Somerville.  


It turns out I am not Super Woman at all. I am Regular Woman.

I fought with my boyfriend Friday night. Saturday I hoped we’d make up, but it barely happened.

Saturday night I had Doritos, pretzels, and ginger ale for dinner. By Sunday brunch, which happened well past noon, I was not my best. By Sunday dinner I was toast.

I fought with my daughter, who is a fine daughter. I walked out the door as my fine boyfriend heated tortillas with cheese and placed sliced tomatoes and avocados on them. I walked away from the table my fine son set, away from the asparagus soup I spent the afternoon making from asparagus that had traveled from Western Mass, which I had requested the day I did the Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail with my boyfriend and his friend, who has become my friend. I left all that on the table and walked the neighborhood feeling something that wouldn’t let me settle down.

When I came back, I sat at the table eating my soup, my boyfriend across from me, my children gone, went upstairs, read my book, Without a Map, turned out the lights, gave up. The Mother’s Day that included a beautiful midday meal in a lovely cafe, prepared by people who cared, surrounded by two of my children and my love, who indulged us all with fancy drinks and food and smiles, ended in the dark.

I still couldn’t tell you why, except to say that I lost my super powers, the powers that last weekend I offered to my daughter, who was tired after arriving from her two weeks at her dad’s, with a cold, low energy, perhaps not up for the day we had ahead. I told her I had power enough for both of us, that I would get us through it. Halfway through the day, I wore out, my keys dropped in the rain on the way from her art exhibition at Mass Art to the parking lot, where our old van waited, emptied out the night before by my son and me of the bed frames I’d collected the weekend before and hadn’t had the steam to empty out on my own. The keys, and my ebullience were lost. Eventually, my daughter found the keys and we drove off to Western Mass to collect the mattress Richard and I had ordered the weekend before, after picking up the bed frames. Before we got there, the tank reached empty, the gps died, and I nearly lost it in the parking lot of the Yankee Mattress Factory, where the worker told me I should have brought a bigger truck and refused to help us shove the mattress into the van. My daughter and I did it ourselves, which, among other things caused me later in the week to think of myself as The Little Red Hen.

One week later, I spent a lazy Mother’s Day brunching, reading the paper my son and boyfriend bought because the two that were delivered were missing the Magazine, Book Review, Travel, and Sunday Styles sections, all my favorites, making soup, all in the company of my kids and man, only to lose it once the table was set for dinner over something that must have been other than no flowers, no gifts, and no card, though at the time that triggered it.

At one in the morning when I wake up noticing that clarity in my sinuses that comes in moments of clarity in my soul, I imagine writing my children and boyfriend each a card as loving and lovely as the one my son left on the bedside table in the dark with a bar of chocolate and a lilac from the bush in the yard grown from cuttings from the family lilac bush, descended from my mother’s and my grandmother’s before her. I imagine wrapping up the photo books still in their cardboard mailer in the dining room, which I had ordered for each of my children, and writing my children each a little note to tuck inside the books to let them know I hope they will always remember they are not alone, that I want them to know they are a part of a larger family, that all the Wests in the album made by my father’s cousin are their family, too. I imagine my children looking into the faces of those people, the stern black and white photos from the 1800’s and the faded color photos of the 1970’s and the more recent ones of my cousins and their children and grandchildren, and seeing themselves.

Instead of writing the cards or wrapping the albums or writing the notes to go with those, I get up and move the old bed frame that is propped against the couch where I sit now, the bed frame we took out of my bedroom last weekend, metal floor model from Crate and Barrel my children’s father and I bought sometime after we became parents, which I know because the first photos of my first son and I are in our futon with the frame low down on the floor. We’ve taken that metal bed apart and replaced it with a solid cherry frame, no footboard so the blankets fall off the end, unlike the old bed with headboard and footboard keeping things in place, replaced the mattress I bought several years ago to replace the one my babies slept on when they nursed into the night, and shuffled things around, so that my guy and I have a new mattress, my son has the mattress I bought a few years ago, and my daughter has the one we bought when we outgrew the futon. My older son, living in Manhattan on his own, has a futon and frame like I once had, passed on from a day care family and carted by him from home to college and back again, slept on in double futon style by his younger brother last summer, while he slept on an older day care futon in the back of the van as he traveled round the country climbing mountains and seeing sights, after which he posted photos on Facebook labeled Adventures of a Van Dweller.

So, here I am, back on the blog I’ve been away from for months, in the middle of the night, right where I started when this blog first took hold of me, trying to write my way back to sleep, wishing I had made it through dinner where the kids and Richard and I would have shared soup and salad and tomato avocado quesadillas, where we could have laughed and talked and planned the week, wishing we had watched the movie my daughter recommended and I was able to rent from Amazon.com after lots of figuring out, 20th Century Woman, a movie I imagined we all might have liked, on a rare night we all would have been home. But we did not. Super Woman lost her powers. She turned back into Regular Woman, or maybe even The Joker, not funny at all, even scary, and she couldn’t find her way back until the opportunities had passed, the day was done, the lights were out, the kids and boyfriend and I had given up, not until the middle of the night, where some part of her center returned and compelled her here to write. Wish me luck finding my way back to my kids and man tomorrow, or this week, or sometime soon. I miss them as I so often do, am not used to being so horrible in the midst of a day I’m meant especially to be kind. We all blow it sometimes, but I didn’t see that one coming. It caught me as storms can do, off guard.

On Saturday the fridge was not delivered. Richard and I had spent the previous Saturday looking at fridges online, measuring, visiting the Sears at the Burlington Mall, walking routes from curb to kitchen, trying to find one that would fit.

Saturday morning Richard tied ribbons to things he wanted the delivery guys to see, loosened screws on the banister, cleared the path, made sure the doors would come off their hinges. We cleaned out the fridge and freezer as did our housemate. The back porch was full of food, as was the day care fridge downstairs. There was even a bag of produce in the dining room, which I was too lazy to bring downstairs and didn’t want to freeze on the back porch.

That morning I took my daughter to Mass Art for the first session of her first Saturday Studios class, where I sat in an auditorium of people of all colors, shapes, and sizes, all there to make art or to support a young person in doing so. When I left after the orientation, I talked with a African American woman on the way to the parking lot, another white woman and I convinced we knew the way, when in fact she did, and told her about my fridge. She had the same experience two weeks before, had to remove the entire frame of the door to get her fridge inside. Saturday was a cold and windy day with temperatures in the teens and a bluster strong enough to make us all run from building to car clutching at our scarves lest they blow away. I did not imagine, or know how to remove the frame of the door.

Instead, I cleaned my old fridge. I washed all the buckets and bins and shelves, walls and surfaces, put the thing back together empty, and left Richard on his own to accept delivery while my daughter and I went to a long scheduled writing and yoga workshop. Halfway in, I got up to get a cup of water and checked my texts. The fridge was not delivered..ah, well..

But today, I sit in my kitchen with a plan made by Richard and me and my friend and co-teacher’s husband Namgyl to have the same new fridge delivered again, with Namgyl and his moving crew on back up if the company we buy from won’t get the thing upstairs.

My house has narrow doors, small rooms, there are tiny landings and tight turns, lots of little spaces instead of the modern open floor plan. In order to get a new fridge into the day care or into our home, we must plan each step carefully, prepare for defeat, rise again in hopeful expectance, hokey way to describe the missed delivery of a fridge, but what is our alternative?

On Saturday when I was in yoga class and Richard was home post delivery failure, we independently imagined throwing the old fridge out before getting something new. Later my daughter and then Richard and son and I imagined stacking a collection of small dorm fridges in the kitchen rather than attempt to order another family sized fridge.

Our fridge is always crowded. This week we had five people eating from it, Richard, Jonah, Isabel, Miranda the housemate, and me. We like fresh food. Unlike the photos in the websites we used to choose our fridge, we don’t have lots of packaged juices and sodas, or fancy cakes on pedestals gracing a single shelf. We have lactaid, soy milk, almond milk, whole milk, and chocolate milk, orange juice, a million different condiments for thai (which I never make), japanese, chinese, korean, indian, american (ketchup, mustard in two or three varieties, chocolate sauce), jams and jellies, maple syrup and maple cream (one from Montreal, one from a farmer’s market, one from Ashfield), mayonaise (long expired) and veganaise, salad dressings and vegetables and fruits for the housemate in one drawer and shelf and for the family in another drawer and scattered, many cheeses, (mainstream from Stop and Shop, fancy from Whole foods, the farmer’s market, and a local deli, and vegan). We have vegan and regular yogurts, some expired and taken by the housemate downstairs who shares my belief that sealed yogurts never go bad unless they’re moldy and who packs lunch every day, and many, many glass dishes full of leftovers, fixings from last week’s tacos, indian lentils defrosted in the fridge switch attempt, gluten free pasta Richard won’t eat that needs to go as he has returned to Northampton, veggie chili and brown rice from last night, cous cous and corn an chick peas from day care lunch on Friday, black beans and white rice from last week, maybe some salad we didn’t finish on the weekend. It’s all there, for the taking by my kids who come and go, for school lunches, for dinners we when we are too tired to cook, for snacks after school or late at night, for home lunches when we’re home.

So, the dorm fridge idea won’t cut it. Though this week my son’s dorm fridge may return home. Which is the other part of my week and snow day. He’s home sleeping in his bed, not in his dorm. We debated cleaning out his dorm room yesterday, the first day after his Spring Break, after talking with the Office of Student Success about a leave of absence, but he’s not there, not clear, as so much of life is not clear, as so many of us in our lives are not clear, so he’s here and his fridge is there, and if we bring it home later in the week or on the weekend or at the end of the semester, it will have a home until it’s needed again, my older son’s dorm fridge sitting on the downstairs back porch, a hand me down from a friend who left it in our basement year’s ago, for it to be used later by our housemates, a college friend whose wife was studying at Yale while he worked here, a former day care teacher who was finding her way as an OT, and my former father-in-law, who needed respite from the life he couldn’t figure out in Texas, who kept his ends of deli cold cuts and cheese and a gallon of milk for his serving bowls of cheerios, and maybe a vegetable or two in the mini fridge, while he stayed behind closed doors in the corner room beside the kitchen as long as day care was in session and used the microwave he brought from Texas, Texas sized and still living on top of of the day care fridge I bought this fall, where the new day care housemate and the day care warm our food.

Life in appliances can tell a story, too. It’s a snow day, and I’m in my kitchen looking at the twenty four year old fridge my former husband and I bought when we were twenty four and new owners of the house. I can’t remember how it got here, and we are too estranged for me to want to ask him. I’ve stripped the fridge of the photos and mementos we have kept there, images of my grandma and me at my mother’s dining room table, of my kids and their dad and our good friends on vacation in Vermont, of my children and their cousins on my side in various stages of their childhood, one of my kids and my mom on her front porch, my older son in a hat and plaid shirt towering over the others, everyone smiling, one of my son who’s in his room, debating a leave of absence, riding on his dad’s shoulders on a beach when we were vacationing in Maine. I’ve piled the fridge photos and the notices for trash removal and yard waste pickup, the clipped collection of postage stamps, the other of gift certificates to local establishments long unused, and put them on the stepping stool I moved into the dining room to make room for the fridge, then moved them to the top of the fridge in the back right, out of sight, behind the big pottery bowl from Richard, full of chips, made by a potter he and his deceased wife loved, in a pattern similar to one he has in his dining room, where he may be now, sorting piles of paper as I plan do do here once I stop writing, greet my kids, and find my way to that.

Yesterday morning my daughter made a tofu scramble that looked and smelled and tasted delicious. Yesterday afternoon she talked with me about being vegan, and shared ideas from her youtube channels of things we might make for dinner. Last evening, after tax work and laundry and hair cuts and a walk, we shopped at Whole Foods for ingredients for Vegan Corn Chowder, which we made together after putting away the food. I made the mistake of confirming that Chipotle Pepper was Chili Powder and the soup was too hot for her. I still found it delicious. We also made Marinated Portobello Burgers and they were delicious, both of us agreed.

The parts I enjoyed the most were watching my daughter learn to cook, to take pleasure in it, being together and talking in the kitchen, on our walk, and in the store, choosing and putting away the food together as we thought about what we’d like to eat, and learning about my daughter’s newest passion, eating vegan. The story that sticks with me this morning, which lead me to the title, is one she shared about having dinner with her dad the night before, when I was home wishing she was here with me, after which we had an argument because missing her made me so sad, and that feels unfair to her, and this morning I wonder if we hadn’t worked this bit through with a little/big argument, if the story about having dinner with her dad might not have come to me. It’s a type of violence to be eradicated bit by bit, the missing of my children when we’re apart and all our wounds from the divorce, with hard conversations in which we sort out big feelings and big hurts, and when we can get it time together in the house. Yesterday we were together in the kitchen. I was sorting files for my taxes, worrying over the increases in the water and oil and gas and electric bills since the two new tenants moved in, preparing for another disastrous tax appointment next Monday, from which I will likely emerge broke, in the hole, or worse, again, and my daughter was making tofu scramble from a youtube video and recipe on her phone. She was asking me what is a shallot, and I happened to have some, from the farmers market in Northampton, saved from the one trip I made there this summer, before or after Richard and I broke up and got back together, I can’t remember, and I showed her how to mince one. She asked me what to remove, both ends, and skin, and I showed her how much of the outer layer to remove, and she cut it in half lengthwise before I showed her how to dice it finely in the way I was taught to do the summer I was a prep cook in a fine restaurant on Cape Cod, the year I met her father and I was so in love I’d drive each day I had off to visit him in Providence, where he painted houses with his friends, and back to the Cape to live with my friends from college, where I worked days as a chamber maid in a local motel and nights as a prep cook in a seafood restaurant, six or seven dollars an hour each, where a tiny cottage behind a family’s Orleans home was my home, my room a little room with twin beds I imagined the children of the family slept in summers when the family lived in the cottage and rented the big house out to tenants so they could live on Cape Cod the rest of the year, not so different from the way we are sharing our house with tenants and a day care so we can live our lives. And as we cut the shallot and she made the scramble, I asked her how being vegan is going, and she told me some things she’s noticing. I asked about her energy, about how she feels, about any effects it’s having on her, about  her appetite and hunger, and her general experience of being vegan since the camping trip with school to the Cape at Nickerson last June, where she was surrounded by kids eating vegan and talking about it and finding their way, and decided to do something she had been learning about on youtube for months and considering maybe longer.

What she said was interesting, and maybe the most interesting part is that she feels proud of her accomplishment, and she illustrated that with a story from the dinner she had with her dad at S and S, a place her dad and I used to go together when we were young, for big brunches with our friends from Harvard where her father was newly teaching and still does. After a very bland dinner of an avocado wrap, no sauce, no cheese, which my daughter pointed out is one of the biggest challenges of being vegan, eating out and finding her choices so limited, her dad stopped at the bakery counter for a cookie, a place I remember buying bagels after brunches to take home, and my daughter asked the woman working there if there were any baked goods which were vegan, which she knew was unlikely in this traditional jewish deli turned restaurant surviving the turning of the neighborhood from working class to hipster. What would that mean? the counter worker wanted to know. No eggs, no milk, no butter, her dad confirmed. The woman wondered why butter would matter, do the cows really care if they are milked? My daughter explained to her that its how the industry is run, it’s how the animals are treated that is the problem. That’s so sad, the woman responded. And as she tells me the story, my daughter feels empathy for the counter worker. She looked so sad, my daughter told me. It’s her job, and she seemed to really think about what I said. My daughter, I realize, as I write, is changing the world in her way, and in so doing, it is changing her.

For many years, she would say, if I suggested that she cook something, I don’t like to cook, even though she loves to eat and makes the most elaborate, beautiful, delicious lunches for herself every day, even though she watches youtube about food, even though the first expensive kitchen appliance I ever bought was a fancy blender for her to make her fancy youtube smoothie recipes. But yesterday, as a vegan, my daughter practiced cooking. She learned to identify turmeric, chili powder, paprika, spanish paprika, oregano, basil, and thyme. She learned to substitute fresh parsley for green onions, and to chop it. She learned what temperature and pan to use to make a tofu scramble, to saute vegetables for the soup, and carmellized onions for the burger. She learned to cut a shallot, and to mince an onion, and what a clove means, how the ends and outer brown layer of the shallot must be removed before we chop it. She learned her mother makes mistakes, recommending chipotle chili as chili powder, and she learned to do a project where she coordinated and I assisted, as I cut up some of the vegetables while she made the food. She learned to plan ahead, to choose the recipes and make a shopping list and soak the cashews, and to work with me on a project we both enjoyed. She was pleased to see as we put away the food that we had no animal products in our shop, which I let her know I eat very little of these days when I am on my own, which may or may not have made her feel good.

It’s been awhile since anyone worked with me in the kitchen learning this way. For Christmas I gave each of my kids and Richard a Cabbagetown Cookbook, which I had used to learn to cook vegetarian dishes when I was young and experimenting with eating new things. I made an Indian meal for Christmas Eve, using recipes from Cabbagetown and another cookbook of Indian food their father had gotten when we were young so we could make Indian meals for our friends. I wanted my kids to be able to cook the foods from their childhoods, as I had enjoyed cooking the foods from mine, Betty Crocker style. I am proud to say now that all three of my children like to cook. My daughter has told me recently it is something she likes about her family, that her parents both like to cook, that her friends notice that she eats well.

Friday evening and yesterday morning when I woke up I was feeling sad about how much time I miss with my daughter and my sons, and Richard, given the way our lives take shape. Richard had sent me a Trump video as my morning greeting, and I had let him know I would like somewhat less of Trump, and more of other things. This morning when I wake up I realize how many kinds of violence in the world could use eradicating. As I said to my daughter on our walk yesterday, I worry that in giving so much energy to Trump we are letting other pieces of our lives go. While there was a rally in Somerville yesterday for immigrants’ rights, where others defended our right to remain a Sanctuary City, my daughter and I chose not to go. We haven’t had a weekend at home together in nearly a month. We needed one. We chose well.

I’ve been tired all week long, packing in time with the ones I love, cooking, cleaning, talking, listening, celebrating life and love and death.

Yesterday I attended the memorial service of the father of a young child for whom we cared last year. It was the first time I’d attended the service of a parent of a child so recently in our care, second time I’d attended a service for a parent of one of our children.

The father died in his late thirties, as my father did. His sons are three and six. My sister and I were four and six. This dad was married to his wife eight years. On the way home in the car with Liana I tried to retrace my parents’ life together, to see how many years they had been married, arrived at something near eight.

When the young family entered the service, popular recorded music the father had loved playing for all of us, two young boys holding their mother’s hands, parents  and brother of the young father walking in front to the seats at the center front of the room, I needed my tissues.

The room was full of mourners. The service was lead by the same rabbi who had performed the wedding for the young couple. There were love and music, great sadness and terrible loss. I didn’t get to visit with the family, as I had hoped. In the car on the way to the service I tried with Liana to remember the names of the grandparents and brother, was happy to have my memory confirmed and corrected by the eulogists who named the family members as they remembered their lives with the young dad, had expected to talk with the grandparents and mother and children before returning to day care to care for the children there, was saddened to leave without making that connection.

This morning I think of my week, the week I turned fifty, the week that has brought unexpected tears all month long, and I am struck by the places I’ve spent time, in the company of my children and mother and Richard in a Chinese restaurant for my birthday last Saturday, with my sister and her family last Thursday on Thanksgiving, with my daughter and Richard watching Moonlight on Monday, so sad, with Richard in a fancy restaurant for my birthday on Tuesday, with the Sharing Circle on Wednesday, with the mourners on Thursday, with the day care children all week long. This weekend I’ll be in Northampton with my guy, sadness of holidays spent apart, highlighting a summer spent apart behind us, then we’ll be in Rhode Island with my college roommates celebrating the fiftieth birthday of the one whose husband is surprising her with a big party at their yacht club.

Yesterday at lunch with the children after I returned from the service the children wanted to know about it. We spoke about who was there, what it was like, how hard it can be for young children to sit in church, that this family is jewish so it was not a church, the fact that the child whose father had died had grandparents who had picked him up a lot last year because his father wasn’t well and his mother was working. I had imagined Tuesday morning that I might take some of the day care children to the service in order to attend, thinking it would be impossible to get a sub. Instead, my son’s girlfriend, a certified sub currently working in the day care and after school at the YMCA, came to take care of the children with Anne so Liana and I could go. We talked about how she was such a good day care teacher because of her other work, but also because she went to a school with mixed ages, as they do, and understands how to be with younger children, as they do, and they agreed.

I realized as I was leaving the service without talking with the family, that a good part of what I was doing in attending was showing the children in the day care that we care, that if any one of them were to lose a parent we would be there. We would sit and mourn that loss as important in the world. We would sit with the sadness of what life is, much of it loss upon loss, the loss of my own father echoed in my day, the loss of my guy, fifteen years older, echoes this morning in the shower as I think about this piece, know I would like to be the one to carry him into the other world, whatever that may be, imagine my children at his service amazed as I was at the service yesterday at the love and joy and meaning he had in his life, much of it revealed to us by others.

Jonathan was an amazing man. The stories and remembrances of his friends yesterday at the service, the love his family showed him in his final year, the only year we knew him and his family, the few interactions I had with him in the time we cared for his child, all that communicated to me that his life mattered, that he was real and full and alive, even as the children said, we didn’t see him much because he was so sick.

Yesterday morning I woke up early thinking of all I’d like to tell his children. I hoped to write a letter to them with the few memories I hold, had started it on my phone in the middle of Tuesday night, did not find time yesterday before the service to write it down. Instead I sent a handwritten card along with Liana who visited their home with the other mourners while I returned to the day care for lunch and nap, and promised to send the stories later. As I said to Richard when I called him after dropping off Liana and before arriving home, I wish someone had done that for me. As the rabbi said to the mourners, the friends and family carry the stories, which they can share with the children, who are so young they will otherwise not remember. That is all too real to me, and so I will do my part to share the stories I hold.

I’m in Maine this weekend. My daughter and I drove North with a friend last night after work and school. I left work early to beat traffic. That didn’t happen. We drove and drove. We arrived late, my daughter and our young friend to a Quaker Meeting House outside of Portland full of exhuberant young people, me to a farm house outside Woldoboro near 10:30, where I received warm welcome from three dogs and Richard’s sleepy kid. 

I had left my bedding and towels at home in the hustle to get on the road, as well as the homemade granola I baked Wednesday as gifts for my hosts. Oh, well. I had a bed to sleep in at the farm last night, will have another to sleep in here tonight in the staff housing where Richard’s kid lives. 

This morning I woke in the farm house to happy dogs, enjoyed the home of a family of blueberry farming teachers and architects and their sons. I walked the farm and ate greens in the greenhouse, saw wild blueberry farming off season for the first time, thought of Robert McCloskey, Blueberries for Sal, One Morning in Maine, Time of Wonder, took photos, took off. 

On the way to the semester program campus where I am now, I stopped for breakfast in Wiscasett, visited with a bookseller and his customer friend, talking of progressive and alternative and local public schools, then on to campus for family weekend where I was just in time for salad of local greens, cheese, roasted veg, and pumpkin seeds with visiting families, where I was introduced as family, as Richard’s partner. 

Then I wandered awhile, soaking in the details of another place to love, focused on the local and natural world, visited the new elementary school classrooms, the art displays of the high school students, the conference room with plans for the future of this place. 

Then back to the staff house for tike in a chair in the sun, now a walk in the woods by the water, time to get close to the earth as I haven’t been in too long, earth under my belly and arms and legs and feet, sun shifting down towards the horizon as I type, with a loop back to circle and cut thru the farm and back to the house for a shower and maybe writing before dinner, writing class this Monday on my mind. 

After a long fall and a tricky summer, hard year before that, a weekend in Maine is balmy on two levels, warm sun for my body, soothing energy for my soul. 

The traffic was worth it. 

Tomorrow it’s Meeting in Portland, a little social time there before heading home to Somerville for a short week of day care and a full week of hosting. My mom and boys are coming Tuesday and Wednesday, my sister’s family Thursday for our first Somerville Thanksgiving since my wedding China left the house. This round we’ll add the melamine picnic plates to the everyday dishes so everyone gets a plate, fancy gold leaf China be damned, it’s the people and good food that count, not the 24k gold the food is served on. 

Happy Thankgiving to you all. 

As I think of what to write, I remember my four-year-olds last spring, as they were about to turn five, chanting “Dump Trump! Dump Trump!” I wonder what they’re chanting today, three in their public kindergartens, two here with us downstairs, while upstairs I type, in between preparing for a meeting at my daughter’s public high school.

I fell asleep last night just after ten, after watching the election results come in on our newly installed cable tv. I had wanted access to public events like the debates, the Thanksgiving football games, the Olympics, all things we’ve gone without the last several years since we dropped access to tighten our belts single mom trying to keep it going style. Going to bed early means I wake up early, which I did, in the fives, in the dark, in fear of checking my phone for the election results, which I did, only to find on my Facebook and in the feed and in the New York Times online that they had not gone as I had hoped/expected/wished when I fell asleep. I am not a fan of Trump. I have Facebook friends and no doubt family members who are. I am afraid for what the messages he sends will mean for our country, my children, my friends and family, the world. As my housemate the teacher of middle school english language learners who watched the results come in with me on the new cable said on her way to work this morning, “What do I tell the Muslim children in my class?”

What do I say to my jewish boyfriend, whose parents and grandparents fled Nazi Germany, losing livelihoods, property, family members, belonging, a country, and a sense that the world is just and good?

What do I say to my children, two of voting age, one in public high school, about the future they can expect?

What do I say to the day care kids, who want the world to be a safe and loving place?

All I can offer is love and the belief that even in the face of a country voting for hate, love exists, that it will not be shut down, that it will grow. As the housemate said on her way to school, I can tell my students that millions of people did not vote for Trump.

I can work with this belief in the power of love to build connection in the world, something I must believe is lacking in those who want others to leave, or be punished for being born brown or muslim or in another country, even female.

I can find my own center and voice and learn to use them to treat those around me with respect and communicate to the world in whatever way I can that love and justice, not hate and punishment is the way.

So, this morning I text and call my boyfriend. I write to the family and friends who share my house to suggest a potluck meal, a place to come together and talk and find our way. I organize my thoughts for the meeting at my daughter’s school. I tidy my house, do the dishes, clean the cat box, eat leftover oatmeal from the day care with nuts and fruit and milk and Ashfield maple syrup, drink tea and light a candle, do my meditation, yoga, and now writing, shower, dress in warm clothes, put the storm window in the back porch door, caring for home and people as best I can, knowing the future holds more uncertainty today than it did the day before, also knowing that those who can live simply and on the edge must hold together and be prepared to buckle down, to stand up, to speak out in the face of whatever comes.