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August 2021

July 2021

Find a Dollar...Give a Dollar

The other day a good friend and I were walking along Brattle Street near Harvard Square. She stopped suddenly and reached down to pick up what turned out to be a folded dollar bill, probably dropped by someone “fishing” for coins for the nearby parking meter. I looked down and saw there was a penny too.  I picked that up.

I asked her what she would do with her “find”.  “Give it to someone else,” she replied.

Sure enough, while walking together the following day, without my noticing, she dropped the dollar somewhere.  When I asked her why the sheepish grin on her face, she replied, “Oh I just dropped the dollar from yesterday so someone else can have the pleasure of finding it.”

I kept the penny.

Mary Ellen, Part II

Mary Ellen’s Best of Household Hints (1976) was the subject of a blog post I wrote seven years ago.  At that time, I was about to get rid of the book because it was old and falling apart. In taking a quick look, however, I came upon a solution to a problem we had (getting paint off a newly varnished floor). It worked.

I decided to keep the book.

The other day I noticed it tucked away in a corner of a bookshelf. This time, I came across Mary Ellen’s method of getting ink stains out of fabric. I tried it on a sofa that had a ink stain from a pen separated from its cover.  It worked. 

I paid $3.95 for the book forty-five years ago.  It’s available at Amazon, now $61.79.

Me and a Beetle

I do my morning stretches near the floor-to-ceiling windows that line our balcony.  This morning as I glanced out the window, I saw a rather large beetle on his back frantically thrashing his legs and bobbing his head, desperately trying to turn over and get on with life. My plan was to finish my floor stretches and go out and turn him over with a broom.  Which I did. Except I was too late.  I waited for him to scurry off, but he didn’t move.  I regretted that I hadn't helped right away.

I went to get a plastic bag so I could bury him under some bushes in the garden.  That was the least I could do.  But when I returned, he was gone.  Was he just resting from his ordeal when I thought he was dead?  Or did a bird sweep down and grab him for breakfast.

I’ll never know

The Haircut Guy

Waiting for the elevator on the fourth floor of the rehab center where my husband Peter was recovering from a stroke, was a strange-looking dude.  Wearing boots and faded jeans, his red hair was to his shoulders where it met up with a 6”-8” bushy beard, also red.

Thirty minutes later, an aide came to wheel Peter to his appointment with the traveling haircut person who comes once a week to give haircuts to men and women patients by appointment only.  This was the first non-me-given-haircut for Peter since pre-pandemic times.  At last.

I decided to watch.

We headed for the “beauty salon” only to find that the dude from in front of the elevator was the traveling haircut guy. Gulp.

Turns out that this guy goes from nursing home to nursing home cutting hair for men and women. He has been doing it for years.  He meets interesting people, and he loves to cut hair (unless it is his).

Blasting classical music from his cell phone, he cut Peter’s hair in almost no time, chatting away about his career, how the pandemic hurt his business, and whatever else was on his mind.

I got out my phone to take a picture of their newly-shorn father to send to our children, and the haircut guy placed Peter in front of the mirror so that the photo would show front and back.

I never learned his name.  To me, he’ll always be “The Haircut Guy”


I was sitting cross-legged on my bed, supposedly studying for finals, a sophomore in college.  It was May of 1957, and my older brother Don’s wife was in labor with their first child.  Wendy eventually arrived, AND I passed the exam.

Don and his wife's young marriage didn’t last and although I saw a fair amount of my niece until she was a teenager, we grew apart (a complicated story) until recently.  During that time, she became a talented and successful businesswoman and married her soul mate.

Over the past few years, we have been in touch more, and thanks to Zoom we’ve spent some time together as a foursome. Our recent Zoom was just Wendy and me. It was a quite a different and fun conversation.   

But, how can I possibly have a 64-year-old niece?

Two Little Stories

1. I eat a handful of blueberries every morning because they are good for me. Last Saturday, after visiting Peter at his rehab, I stopped at the farmers’ market on the way to the subway because I had eaten my last blueberry at breakfast.  Normally, I would peek at a few vendors’ stalls, but just as I got there, a light rain turned into a torrential down pour, and I had no umbrella.  So, I bought the first blueberries I saw.  They were $1 for a pint, so I thought.  I quickly handed over a dollar and received a bag with four pints of blueberries.  My neighbors and I are still eating them.

2.  Our sons are very good about calling their father.  Jeremy reported the following.  He asked Peter what was most exciting about the possibility of his going home.  He did not get the answer he expected, namely “to be with my lovely wife.” Without a moment’s hesitation, Peter replied--“THE FOOD!”

                                                            The End

Friends of Friends are Friends

I’ve known our friend Gordon longer than I’ve known Peter. On many biking vacations taken with him and his wife Christa, we often celebrated his July birthday together in some foreign country.

Last week, he turned 90 and Christa had a party for him.  Over the years, I’d met most of the guests. I recognized their faces, I remembered where they were from and often what they did for work.  What I didn’t remember was their names. And they probably didn’t remember mine. 

Two of Gordon and Christa’s granddaughters were there. I had baby sat for the older one when she was only weeks old.  And now she is a beautiful young junior in college.

Driving home, the names started coming back, too late to be helpful. 

Note to self: Add name tags to shopping list for next party.


Independence Day Thoughts

I’ve always loved July 4th. As a kid, I was usually at overnight camp on that day, and camp made a big deal of celebrating. I still find Boston’s July 4th fireworks magical.

But July 4th isn’t quite back to pre-pandemic.  Although I love being able to see friends and relatives again, I know that there are many places in our country where vaccination rates are low and a new Covid-19 variant is spreading.

This year I am worried about our country and where it is going. Does the world look to the U.S. as leaders anymore? What are the consequences to us of China’s clamp-down on Hong Kong? Where are we with the countries of Africa?  How much did our kids lose from learning by Zoom?

And how can Whole Foods not carry my favorite gluten-free bagels anymore?

Happy Independence Day

A Caregiving Hint

Chances are that you’ll be a caretaker someday.  Or that you will need one.  So, from time to time, I’d like to give a helpful hint about caretaking.

When I got to Peter’s rehab room on Monday, he was away at his physical therapy session.  When Lindsey wheeled him back into his room, he told me that on the way out, he had dropped his glasses, but didn’t want to hold up Lindsey so would I please find them.

I searched and searched including some very unlikely places.  I found a pen top or two and a fork, but no glasses.  I went to the nurses’ desk to ask for help.  Help looked at all the same places in vain, and then said she had another idea.

Moments later, she was back with his glasses.  Where had she found them?  In the kitchen.  How?  He had left them on his lunch tray, and they were taken away un-noticed. She said that this is a common occurrence—that’s why she knew where to look.

“Usually,” she said, “It’s their hearing aids!”