Monthly Archives: September 2014

Could Someone Please Send the Tooth Fairy?

stock-vector-vector-tooth-icon-black-and-white-simply-change-in-my-portfolio-there-is-version-in-11121814Let’s not call this an official blog post. This is simply an update for last week’s silence. Two words: oral surgery. Followed by one word: neuropathy. Translation: relentless jaw pain no narcotics can touch.

It’s beginning to ease somewhat, and I have hopes my sanity will return as well. In the meantime, savor every act of chewing, y’all, and give thanks for each healthy tooth!

250px-MacArthur_ManilaIn the words of General MacArthur, “I shall return!”



Out at the In-Laws

norman-rockwell-family-dinnerA ritual most parents will go through.

Meeting the in-laws.

No, not your in-laws. You’ve presumably done that already.

Your once-upon-a-time child’s.

I knew how to behave. I’d been through it before, and anyway, my eldest had presented me with an instruction manual:

mother of the groomSo there we are, seated at a beautifully-laid-out dinner table my daughter-in-law-to-be had prepared, passing around platters of grilled chicken and veggie burgers, marinated cukes and garden beans, organic tomatoes and french bread. Two sets of parents, three very lively grandparents, a sibling and spouse, the happy couple, and, here and there, two friendly dogs passing by in hopes of a handout. We’ve just come from exploring the wedding site, just a few steps away (until recently, our-co-in-laws-to-be hosted rustic weddings at their beautiful Barn Swallow Farm). Conversation is brisk, and all is going swimmingly. I am reveling in the knowledge that once again, one of my children is marrying into a warm and welcoming family.

Then dessert arrives.

Admittedly, the best part of most meals, yes? So, I’m merrily digging into my ice cream–when I hear and feel what I can only describe as a sickening crunch. The same kind of sensation you get when you back into a tree which a moment ago, surely wasn’t there.

For me, the celebration ended right there.  Lost, all if it: the delight of ice cream, the exuberance of the occasion, my year to come, and mostly, the bridge over a missing back tooth which had already been fractured and flapping loose (bridge, not tooth) for, well, awhile. It had now broken completely free of its mooring, bobbing around as blithely as Huck and Jim’s raft. And alas, taking with it what had been until that moment a fairly good and somewhat solid tooth.

End of my celebration. A quick dash to the bathroom mirror confirmed the truth: where once I was minus one tooth, I’m now missing two, and there in the gaping space loomed my future: more pain, and dental expenses which would rival my children’s college tuition. (Outstrip, actually, given their hefty merit scholarships.)

Great Depression famous woman face

This situation is not covered in my Mother of the Groom book. Though the rite of passage–losing teeth–seems to be not uncommon among those of us hitting in-law age.

All to say, my dear faraway friends, if ever I imagined I’d overcome my travel phobia and come see you, that’s history. I’ll be in hock to the dental world for some time to come, and confining my trips to my medical professionals.

I promised my son and his fiancee that I will have teeth in time for their wedding. I just can’t promise that they’ll be my own.

Have you ever encountered glitches in what was meant–for other reasons–to be a memorable occasion?  Send some healing cheer: I’d love to know!

Sunday Dinner

photo (5)Thanks to yesterday’s bounty, we can have pie today. An unusual treat for this household, since I gave up serious cooking and baking when the kids got old enough to do it for themselves.  (Maybe something I’ll re-discover this year? We’ll see.)

But today’s real feast was the unexpected gift of uplifting words from a couple of friends who hurried over after Mass to ask about an ongoing health issue. Add in a warm welcome into a Sunday class from our deacon and his assistant, and, well, my emotional menu has soared into the five-star-restaurant range.

We forget how vital it is, those words of support. They may seem like insignificant crumbs to you, the giver, but they can be life-giving nourishment to the recipient.

Thank you, friends. Today, I have that most fragile and elusive of treasures, hope.

A reminder from Emily:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –


Has someone served you some hope lately? Or have you offered some to someone else?

After Apple Picking



photo (1)

After Apple-Picking


My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.


Empty nesters worry about what they’re going to talk about with their spouse now the kids are gone. No more conversational buzz around the dinner table: no sibling squabbles to settle, adolescent crises to resolve, schedules to sort through.

Suddenly, there’s space for a couple to talk. To one another. There’s even–trust me on this, younger parents; it will happen–silence!

Wherever they’ve gone off to, our grown children have potential majors to discuss; unfamiliar colleagues to dissect; engagements and new apartments and how they’re going to budget for rent and dog food on a starting salary.

We’ve been there, done that. We’ve got to look at one another across the empty dinner table and create news from lives which have been fairly routine for years.

Or not.

It’s hard to sink into boredom with James around.

photo (3)


This morning, we headed to a kindly neighbor’s and picked enough apples to see us through much of the fall.  For most couples, I’d say ”year”, but, well, we eat a lot of apples. (And, yes, if you’re on my Christmas list, it’s likely you’re going to receive a jar of homemade sauce.)

Thirty-two years married, and I’m still never quite sure what James will do next. Fifty-something, and he still clambers so high up trees that it’s hard to spot him among the leaves.

While I stay safely on the ground, sorting through windfalls.

That’s the difference between the two of us.


(It’s one of the ironies of life that I’m the one most prone to accidents. One of my Christmas gifts last year was a set of knives actually sharp enough to be of use. And a box of bandaids.)

I think, even with the kids grown and gone, there’s going to be plenty to talk about in the coming years.

If nothing else, this weekend, we’ve got to figure out where to store all the apples.

photo (4)          What are you and yours talking about these days?


The Freshman Challenge

“I’m too old.”

We’re not supposed to talk like that. AARP Magazine, with its relentlessly upbeat articles on what we can do at ages when most of our grandparents were snugly tucked up in their beds, would hiss.

Yes, I began ballet at 50. Yes, a couple of years later, I ran my first 5K. Yes, I swim my mile each weekday morning, manhandle a filled garden cart over the large rocks that block my path, read children’s books.

But–what I can’t do is go back to college. Not really. I’m too old for the slumber parties that make up dorm life, too impatient to sit through lectures. And I rebel at the thought of assigned reading and writing footnotes again.

Anyway, the college I want to attend already has my daughter on campus, and she’d murder me if I suddenly started showing up in the cafeteria line.

photoWhat I can do is take on myself what one of her deans asked of the freshmen at their Opening Induction Ceremony. Challenge yourself, he said. Read something you wouldn’t usually read. Study something you’re sure is too hard for you. Listen to a piece of music you’ve never heard before. Introduce yourself to that person over there who’s not at all like anyone you’ve ever met.

Please note: I’m not quoting here, just remembering loosely. And if you, too, have sat through several different welcome speeches in a row after moving a child into her dorm in the rain after a five hour drive after getting up at 4 AM to get on the road, you know what I mean when I say his words are a bit fuzzy.

But that was the gist. This is your time, the speakers all seemed to say.  To explore, yourself and the world around you. To dig deep and find out who you are. To figure out what it is you most love doing, and how that passion can become a career. A life.

That I can do. Or try to. In this, my transition time. And without the tuition bill.

(Though I do wish I had welcoming committees gifting me with t-shirts and lanyards. And I sure wouldn’t mind a cafeteria which supplied regular meals and an endless supply of soft-serve ice cream.)

Have you gone through such a transition time? Done your own mid-life exploring? I’d love to know.





My Second Freshman Year!

So, how can a fifty-something mother of three mostly-grown kids, who lives in the rural middle of nowhere as a sometime-hermit, claim this as her “freshman year”?

I mean, didn’t I do that already, many decades and many (geographic) states ago?

Well, yes.


And no.

Decades ago, I pretty much went where I was told and pretty much spent most of my college time either earning the money to be there or adjusting to a culture which was–well–alien.

This time around, I’m choosing for myself: the “where” (here in my fairly isolated mountain cove). And the “what” of my learning (whatever catches my fancy).

The “why?”

I’ve just sent my last child/student off to college after 25 years of homeschooling. So I’m not only an empty-nester, I’m in major career transition.

There are empty rooms in my house (relatively speaking: still a lot of unfolded laundry piled on your bed, daughter). And there’s space in my brain. For the first fall since I was a very young mother of a very wiggly first toddler, I’m not planning curricula, compiling reading lists, creating schedules.

Well. Except mine.

So what’s a second freshman year?

Ah, that’s what this blog is going to explore.

I hope you’ll tag along for the ride.