Class of '84 Reunion

When I retired from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 2013 after 33 amazing years, it was a huge adjustment, but although I have stayed in touch with some of my former colleagues, I have (of course) moved on. 

Still, I was delighted when a member of the graduating class of 1984 asked me to join her and 40 of her classmates for lunch during their 40th reunion last week.

I was a bit apprehensive.  Would I recognize any of the attendees?  Would people remember me? 

Yes and yes.  Once I saw their name tags, I could immediately picture them as they looked decades ago.  Yes, some gray hair, and some other signs that they are no longer twenty-something, but they have the same dedication to making the world a better place and there is some evidence that they have done so.  People kindly said that I looked the same, and they recounted ways I had been helpful to them. 

I had a fabulous time. I’m hoping to join them for their 45th.


Mysteries of Life

There are just some things in life I don’t get.  For example:

  1. Why do people hold their open umbrellas to the front of their bodies, thereby allowing the rain to wet their backpacks?
  2. Why does the person in front of me in the supermarket line always have an issue with his/her payment?
  3. Related, why do I always do the automated checkout in my local CVS badly enough that I must ring for help?
  4. Why do my not-so-frequent phone calls usually come when I am in the shower?
  5. And finally (for now) when did I start talking out loud to myself?


In my late forties, I lost three close friends. Two who had never smoked died of lung cancer and a third died while awaiting a liver transplant.  All were unspeakably sad losses.

But in one’s eighties, losing friends (and family) is inevitable. That doesn’t make it any easier.  It can be especially difficult when you are losing someone with whom you have unresolved issues.

That’s where I think hospice offers help.  Here is its recommendation for making difficult end-of-life conversations a little easier. 

First, communicate “I love you.”

Second convey gratitude, “Thank you.”

Third, “I forgive you,” and fourth…

“Do you forgive me?”

Another Walking Home Story

Not infrequently, people in my neighborhood put unwanted “stuff” on the sidewalk—anything from discarded sofas to tired pots and pans.  Walking home one early evening last week, I noticed a beautifully dressed, young, perhaps Indian, woman, looking over a carton of give-away books.

I stopped to see what caught her eye and noticed that the box was full of cookbooks.  She had picked up The Joy of Cooking, a staple in every kitchen (including mine) for generations.  I told her that my copy was about as worn as the one she held in her hand.  I added that people probably don’t buy cookbooks so much now because of the Internet.

She took it anyway.

A Visit from Seth's Namer

Fifty-four years ago, I asked my then-office-mate to help me think about names for our soon-to-be-born first child, sex unknown.  I can’t recall the female names on the list, but I loved one of her suggestions should our first born be a male.

“Seth” sounded strong, probably couldn’t have a silly nickname, seemed New England-y and became our choice should we have a son. (Which we did.)

My office-mate moved to Maine, married and had a family, subsequently moved to Arizona and now lives in Minneapolis.  Over the years, I had seen her only once when she was in town. Recently, coming “home” to visit her brother, we made a date for her to come for coffee.

We gabbed non-stop until she had to leave to catch her plane.  It was pure fun.

And I still love the name of our first-born.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Feeling "Seen"

For months (maybe years) there have been workmen doing some gigantic underground pipe work at a nearby corner.  The other day as I walked by, their drilling raised clouds of dust.  I put my hand over the street-side of my face and started across the intersection.

I heard a shout from one of the workers: “Why are you hiding that beautiful face?”

I took down my hand and smiled at a very handsome workman.  “Thank you,” I called out.  The message here:  Not all people find an 86-year-old invisible. 

I am smiling as I write this.

Jeremy's Song

You may not have heard of  I certainly hadn’t.  But one day I got a text from my son Jeremy that included a link to an “original song” written by a request to that website.

Apparently, you request a song in a style (folk, rock, etc) and give a couple of ideas about the subject.  Moments later, there is a song.

Here are the words to mine.  I’ll spare you the music, but it wasn’t bad.

In Cambridge town Where the stories unfold Lives a lady with tales Wise and bold Judy Kugel Known as Grammy to all With a heart of gold She'll catch you when you fall [Verse 2] Eight and six years She's seen it all Through the highs and lows She stands tall With Louise and Boris Her closest kin Together they create a world to win [Chorus] Oh Granny Grammy The queen of the scene With her Cambridge crew A true dream team Through laughter and love They light up the night Granny Grammy's spirit Forever shining bright.

Sticker Shock

Twenty-one years ago, Peter and I bought a new cherry bedroom set, made in Vermont.  I still love it. 

Back then, I promised myself that I would polish it regularly, so I bought a bottle of the product recommended for its care.  It was called Formby’s Lemon Oil Furniture Treatment. 

Needless to say, I did not polish it regularly, but the other day my dresser top was looking quite pathetic, so I dug my Formby’s Furniture Treatment out of a messy cabinet of cleaning materials.  Somehow (maybe I polished more than I remember) there was very little left in the bottle, enough to do my dresser, but not much more.

I decided to buy a new bottle.  And yes, I went to Amazon which is just too easy to do.  Sure enough, they had Formby’s Furniture Treatment, in the same sized bottle, but with a price of $199.99.  Surely, a mistake I thought.  I looked elsewhere and the price was the same.

Digging further into this, I discovered that the product isn’t produced any more.

So much for my bedroom furniture polishing project.

Healthy Eating

An 80-something reader asked me to write about what I eat to stay healthy.  Well, what I eat has changed dramatically since my red-meat-loving husband Peter passed away.

To begin with, I can bring avocados (which he hated) into the house, a healthy and delicious addition to my diet.  For protein, it’s usually fish or chicken, with a variety of beans in the cupboard when I need a change.  I eat walnuts by the handful; I hear they are very good for our guts.  Because I can’t eat gluten and gluten-free bread products are, shall we say, less good, I tend to eat a salad for lunch with peppers, carrots, tomatoes and humus taking the starring roles.

Of course, there is my much written-about love for irresistible Trader Joe’s premium coffee ice cream.

Nobody’s perfect.

Just Us Girls

Tea at my place with two friends, always a delight.  And on a gloomy day, even better.  Especially lovely that we could agree on a time to meet because it’s so hard to coordinate our schedules. 

Normally when we get together, we try to solve the world’s problems.  But this time, we just gabbed, perhaps because we don’t have the solution to today’s world problems.

When they left, I felt a little sad, knowing that they were going home to husbands who would ask them about their day.

Missing Peter never goes away…