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September 2020
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October 2020


When the leaves start to fall, my thoughts turn to Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday.  Food, family and no presents.  But not this year. For the first time since we’ve been grandparents, our whole family will not be together for Thanksgiving dinner.

Nobody seems to be having their traditional Thanksgiving this year.  Normally, I would be starting to bake our must-have desserts to store in our freezer. I’ll probably make most of them anyhow, hoping that Seth will be able to come from New York for his 50th Thanksgiving dinner.

We’ll have a whole turkey because somehow just a turkey breast won’t work for me.  We’ll have to deal with the leftovers.

We will still share our Grateful Jar with the whole family via Zoom.  And we will take individual photos and ask one of our technology-savvy grandchildren to photoshop them into our annual family Thanksgiving picture.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Thanksgiving 2021.

Teenage Slang: A Guide

Today we welcome a guest column by Leo Kugel, Albert Einstein High School, Class of 2022:

Given my current status as a young person, Grammy, or as you probably know her, Judy, asked me to give some definitions of modern-day slang. Of course, I happily obliged (only in part to repay my debts from years of eating all the pies during Thanksgiving). Without further ado, here are a few of my favorite terms that the kids are using these days:

Good looks: Basically just saying thank you. “Good looks for the gift, man.” 

Cap: A lie. “Stop capping. You did not get a 100 on your exam.”

Bet: Word of agreement; synonymous with okay. “Bet that man. I’ll see you at 5.” 

OC: Essentially just means that there is a lot of something. “That’s oc food. Are you going to eat all of that?”

Jaunt: Just means a thing. “Pass me that jaunt.” 

Clowning: When someone does something dumb. “You’re clowning bro.”

Grats: Short for congratualations (stet) because no one my age knows how to spell that. 

Now all you 80-somethings can fit right in with the high school crowd. No cap.

I Voted


I voted last Thursday.  Despite how much I trust our mailman, I was determined to deposit my ballot in an official ballot box.  The nearest one was at Cambridge City Hall, 1.2 miles away.  It was a crystal-clear-fall day, so I decided to walk.

Actually, I meandered.  I think I stopped at every brilliant red maple tree.  I definitely stopped at the beautiful dahlias taking their last stand.  I read restaurant menus and store closing signs. I smiled at everyone (although I’m not sure if people can tell you if are smiling when you are wearing a mask).

At City Hall, there was no sign directing voters to the box.  Luckily, a man who saw me holding two ballot envelopes asked if I was trying to vote and directed me to the back of the building.  There were no signs there either, but I spied a box about the size of a fire-hydrant that said “official ballot box” and deposited our votes.

In these uncertain times, I want to be sure that my vote is counted.  Please make sure that yours is too.

Remembering Harvard Square

For more than half a century, I have watched Harvard Square change.  I miss its two movie theaters.  I miss Elsie’s amazing roast beef sandwiches, The Wursthaus’ German specialties, the iconic Out-of-Town Newsstand and more.

Now, thanks to Covid-19, Dickson’s Hardware Store is closing. For over fifty years, it was my go-to place for everything you’d expect in a hardware store and lots of things you wouldn't.  How many shower curtain liners, cans of WD-40, and potholders have I bought there?  How many keys have I copied and how often have I bought hard-to-find light bulbs?

When I heard the news, I asked them why.  Answer—the pandemic.  The elderly owner decided he’d rather just play golf.

I’ve watched their inventory diminish over the last month, but I went in there the other day looking for an eyeglasses repair kit after failing to find one at my local CVS.  Sure enough, they had one. 

At least they can’t take Harvard out of Harvard Square.

Body Check

In the more than a dozen years that I have been writing this blog, I have periodically reported on the state of my body.  Today’s report, which is way overdue, was prompted by a friend’s comment during one of our regular phone chats. 

She said, “I know that I have visibly aged during this pandemic.  I am avoiding the many mirrors around the house that constantly remind me of this.”

As soon as we finished our call, I headed to our full-length mirror.  Here’s my report.

By and large, I’m doing fine. My weight is stable. My “Cologuard” (a colonoscopy substitute) said that part of my body is OK.  The puffiness under my eyes does seem to be more prominent.  I have fallen a couple of times (luckily without breaking any bones) so I am paying more attention to my feet on my walks. I do have “golfer’s elbow” even though I don’t play golf.

On wardrobe, I give myself a C+.  When I am not in tights or sweatpants, I might dress up to slacks and a nice top. The days of skirts and tall boots are long gone.   

End of report.

Whatever Happened to ...?

Years ago, my favorite cookies were Keebler’s Dutch Apple. They came in a fold-over white bag with red stripes.  They were about the size of a quarter, probably two bites each.  They were addictive. 

Here’s a quote Google found for me from someone who shared my affection for them:

         “I'm craving a cookie, Not just any cookie, but a "Dutch Apple Cookie?" I think they were made by Keebler and I haven't seen them anywhere, since high school. They are amazing; the taste of apple, rolled in cinnamon, and more sugar than any adult needs.”

It’s not uncommon for us to find things we like disappearing.  The latest loss for me has been the gluten-free almond scones made by Whole Foods.  They were my go-to breakfast treat.  I reluctantly accepted the cranberry-orange version as a substitute.  Now, they too are gone.

As long as Trader Joe’s doesn’t discontinue coffee ice cream, life will be worth living.


Every morning before breakfast, I do stretching exercises for about twenty minutes.  I unroll my blue yoga mat and spread it out next to the windows so I can watch over the Charles River if I’m in the mood.

My body seems to know my routine because most of the time, my mind is somewhere else.   In a way, it’s like meditating.

One day while stretching, I counted how many phone numbers I remember from places where I have lived. (Nine.)  Another day, I tried to name all the kids in my cabin at Camp Wingfoot when I was twelve.  (I failed.) And all the addresses I ever had, (Thirteen without counting college.)

My reward?  Coffee and the newspaper.

The Good Parts

The Good Parts

I worshiped my older brother Don—handsome, popular, smart, track star and all that. 

Growing up, we lived in a small house in Pittsburgh. I hadn’t thought about that house for years until last week when I was reading Sabbath’s Way for my course on Philip Roth.  Those who have read Roth’s work know that he is a great writer, but his language is not for polite company.

My chances of seeing such a book on my own in 1948 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania would have been zero.  But at the back of Don’s bedroom closet, he had hidden a paperback copy of The Amboy Dukes, and after getting me to promise that I wouldn’t tell Mother and Dad about it, he showed me the “good” parts. 

Back then it was the best secret I had.

The Day the Ordinary Became the Extraordinary

The last time we ate in a restaurant was March 7th when we celebrated Peter’s 90th birthday. Since then, we have had take-out pizza three times.  And I have prepared over two hundred dinners for the two of us to eat at home. 

So imagine how excited I was when we made plans to meet our cousins for lunch in New Bedford, Massachusetts, about half-way between their home in Jamestown, Rhode Island and our home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We set a date and hoped the weather would cooperate.

Last Friday was the day.  It was a perfect late September day.  Blue sky, low humidity, trees at near-peak autumn color. Since none of us had ever been to New Bedford, we chose a restaurant online, based on the amount of outdoor seating its website said it had.

As luck would have it, the restaurant had a great patio with a view of New Bedford’s harbor. The temperature was ideal, and our lunch was delicious.

Not long ago, going out to lunch was an unremarkable event.  But after you’ve eaten only at home for more than six months, it’s a big deal to feel that life is almost normal.

At least for a few hours.