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October 2022

Halloween Costume


A couple of Saturday mornings ago, I got a call from Jeremy on his way to Home Depot to buy the materials for his Halloween, 2022 costume.

Apparently, there is a new-to-him, honey and peach-flavored Mountain Dew drink called Sweet Lightning, exclusively available at Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets.  It is described by Pepsi Cola, the drink’s producer, as developed with KFC specifically to go with the chain’s secret-recipe-fried-chicken.

It is made of: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, natural and artificial flavor, sodium benzoate, caffeine, sodium citrate, yellow 5, acesulfame potassium, gum Arabic, sucralose, calcium disodium edta, yellow 6 and sucrose acetate isobutyrate.

You might ask why a 50-year-old would go to the time, trouble and expense (e.g., buying a new garbage can) for a Halloween costume. 

I would not.

Pillow Search

My sofa bed is almost two years old.  It’s an unusual darkish blue color.  A very bright multi-colored painting hangs over it.  The combination of colors led to a fruitless search for comfy sofa pillows, so I finally started knitting one.

Then on an early fall visit to Maryland, I saw a pillow in Jeremy and Katrina’s house that looked right.  I tried to order it online, but it had to be picked up in an inconvenient store so I gave up.

Then last week I found myself in a mall with a branch of that store.  It didn’t have the pillow in the store, but a very patient salesperson helped me look for it online.  I wasn’t quite sure which one it was.  So I texted Katrina.  Luckily, she was at home.  She texted me a picture of the pillow.  In minutes, problem solved.

I must remember this the next time I complain about the ubiquitous-ness of cell phones.

My New Sneakers

I’m tired of my walking shoes, so I decided to buy a pair of sneakers.  I may be the last person to realize that sneakers now go from the tennis court to the opera.  Thinking I wouldn’t want to take the trouble to return sneakers online, I went to a real shoe store.  In a mall. 

The choices were a bit overwhelming, but I ended up with a pair of white ones with a cute paisley lining. They are comfortable beyond belief. I had never heard of the brand, but I liked its name—Hey Dude.

That evening I had an ad for that very sneaker in my Internet feed. 

No comment.

Hamburgers and Parking Lots

My father has been dead for fifty years, but I can still hear him saying, “I remember when a hamburger cost a nickel.”  (Back then, Dad also got three pennies back in the cellophane pack of Lucky Strikes after putting a quarter in a cigarette machine.)

Even I remember when at McDonald’s you could get a twenty-eight-cent burger that now costs $2.49. 

I get inflation.  Yet like everyone, I am astonished by the cost of groceries these days. Even worse, is that our formerly $18 parking lot cost to go to a concert suddenly was $44 the other night!  Even more shocking is that the huge underground parking lot was almost full.

Next time, the subway.

Words from Peter's Friend

I am grateful for all the messages acknowledging that it’s a year since Peter passed away.  His first boss at Boston College (over fifty years ago) captured so much of Peter.

He wrote…

“I still remember the very first conversation I had with Peter.  He called me to confirm our (first) meeting.  When I asked if he needed directions he responded, “If I need directions, you probably shouldn’t hire me.”  It was, as I was to learn, so Peter.

Over the years we jogged together, occasionally drank some gin, ate good, and not so good, food, but mostly we talked.  He was a long-time-faithful editor of my prose.  I didn’t know how to be an administrator and really didn’t want the role, but he encouraged me.  He was always direct and honest, even when he stood alone at a faculty meeting speaking the truth.  I learned a lot from him, and I am so grateful for all those small but important encounters.  I couldn't ask for more.”

Yes, so Peter…

Music and Me

In high school, I listened to pop music non-stop.  In college, I took music literature courses, partly due to a crush on the professor. Thus began a life-long love of classical music. 

I don’t know what prompted me to do this at my advanced age, but after reading about Steve Lacy’s release (Bad Habit) and its remarkable success, I decided to listen to it.  I became the 29,708,496th viewer on youtube.  I liked it a little.  But I didn’t understand the lyrics so I found another source that showed the lyrics as Lacy sang.   I liked it better.

I considered a change in my lifestyle because I liked the idea of sharing music with my grandchildren.  I thought about it for about five minutes.

Then, I turned on Beethoven.

One Year Later

In two days, I will have been a widow for one year.  These twelve months have flown.  Some days have been harder than others—holidays, birthdays, anniversaries. Some times of the day are harder than others—waking up alone, dinner time, bed time.  Last year at this time our boys and I were watching as Peter stopped eating and drinking because that was the only way he could hasten his death.

As he put it, “I am not in pain, but being helpless hurts.”

Somehow, with the support of friends and family, I have had a good year.  I am slowly getting used to coming home to an empty apartment. I’m doing better at saying “my” or “I” rather than “our” or “we.”

There are so many things in the world which aren’t going well.  I remain lucky and grateful.

And sometimes, lonely.

Zoom Reunion

Peter’s brother’s son Joshua, who lives in North Carolina, decided he would like to learn about his relatives on Peter’s side of the family. He proposed a Zoom reunion. 

Present on Saturday afternoon from Brazil, Boston, North Carolina, Silver Spring, MD, and Boulder, Colorado were Janine, Lindsey, Whitney, Joshua, Seth, Jeremy, and Candy, all relatives on Peter’s side of the family.  Janine is Peter’s niece and Lindsey and Whitney are her daughters.  Candy is Peter’s cousin and Joshua is Peter’s nephew. I was up-to-date with Janine and her brother Jeff (not on this Zoom) and cousin Candy.  But I have not seen the others in decades, if ever.

Each of us talked about our lives.  I learned somethings about everybody, including my own kids. 

All families are complicated.  I think everyone had a good time, but I doubt that we will Zoom again any time soon.

I could be wrong.

Day Trip

In July, I set aside an article in The Boston Globe about a very special New England destination in Boylston, MA. I thought it might be fun to visit. 

And on a crystal-clear-late-September morning, two pals and I found out that I was correct. 

Located about an hour west of Boston, the New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill consists of 171 rolling acres, including seventeen gardens, overlooking the Wachusett Reservoir.  Although the summer might be prime visiting time, there’s something compelling about the deep blue fall sky, the yellow and purple fall flowers and the turning leaves that attract an autumn crowd.

There was one particularly enchanting garden, full of fairy houses (see photo above) for kids of all ages, including us.  There are many walking trails, a quite good restaurant with outdoor seating overlooking the water and a tasteful gift shop.  For those who live nearby there are year-round classes and events.

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel far and wide.  But I am reminded that often the best surprises are in one’s own “backyard”.