Monthly Archives: November 2015

Of Plaid and Polka Dots

Have you found yourself becoming one of your parents yet?

A professor of electrical engineering with a Phd from Harvard and a past that included work at Oak Ridge National Lab in its earlier hush-hush days, my very bright father became, as time went on, increasingly, well, eccentric. After a sabbatical abroad in the early 1970s, he let his engineer crew cut grow out to an unruly pepper-and-salt mop, kind of a cross between Einstein and Colonel Sanders. Which became a subject of much let’s call it dissension on the home front.


He also took to wearing my brother’s cast-off orange plaid shorts, one of my mother’s more unfortunate purchases. Throw in one of the elderly white t-shirts which may or may not have had holes hither and yon, since true child of the Depression, throwing anything away truly pained him. (Another way of saying he didn’t.)

Do you start to get the picture?

As a young teenager, I looked on this with horror. So you’ll get a better appreciation for my dismay at realizing that there are a lot of days I dress somewhat the same. James and I are in a never-ending process of digging out the clay and mud from what will be, if we live long enough, a patio. Work I do in a pair of sneakers so old they’re more hole than shoe. And one of the many t-shirts I inherited from my oldest son, some of which are in that gloriously soft state that only comes with age. Which may or may not have a hole or two here and there. And– a truly horrific pair of magenta plaid shorts I picked up at Goodwill years ago in a moment of true insanity.

I didn’t grow up in the Great Depression. Yet it also pains me to throw things away when there’s a possibility they might someday come in handy.

 (Did I mention that on muddier days, I add my new pair of boots from Tractor Supply? They’re black, with colorful polka dots like the  kind you’d find on birthday wrapping paper. Cute, but– with purple plaid?)

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So, there it is. Late middle age eccentricity repeating itself.





In Spite Of

Why now?

I’ve been wanting to start up my blog again. But had to waffle for awhile about whether its title–“my second freshman year”–still applied a year later.

I decided it did: who’s to say when I’ve ”gathered enough credits,” so to speak?

Just when I’d resolved that, Paris happened. And I felt the need for silence. First, out of a kind of respect. Then out of a sense of overwhelm. How on earth to respond to that?

Which eventually translated into ‘what is the point of posting a tiny blog about small doings when there’s so much big stuff happening out there?’eifel tower

Then I read a Facebook post by a friend from my decades-ago FIRST freshman/sophomore years at Harvard. A summary doesn’t do it justice, so here it is:

“I spent a lot of my birthday yesterday reflecting upon the violence in Paris the prior evening – its impact on lives, and the implications for our future. Like so many others, I searched for reasons to believe that we will reverse the current trajectory toward more of the same. (I’m still working on that.) But I was lucky yesterday. In the face of this horrific reminder that our lives can be taken at any moment and anywhere, I received birthday wishes all day long from friends who reminded me of my belief that love is what we are here for and just how rich I am in it. Thank you my Friends, who live with me in the One Percent of the love distribution, for all the love you have thrown in my direction. We have got to figure out more ways to spread it.”

That post reminded me that it is the small things of our lives that make up life. Which most matter: cooking that Thanksgiving turkey, greeting a harried checker at Walmart, contacting a friend to wish him or her well on the birthday or any other day.

That’s one way we fight the fear and confusion and cycle of hatred that terrorism creates.

To quote someone I WISH I’d known during my first freshman year, Mother Teresa, “None of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”