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January 2023

Starting My Day

I can look through the peephole in my door and see the doors of eight units on my floor of our condo building.  When Peter and I moved in 4.5 years ago, there were newspapers in front of five of the doors every morning.  Now, there are only two.  That doesn’t mean my neighbors don’t read newspapers; it means they are reading the news online.

I start every day with stretches.  My reward?  Coffee and a newspaper that I hold in my hands.  And now that it’s just me, I get to start with the front page.

I fear that the day is coming when there will be no more hard copies of newspapers delivered.

Good news for trees; bad news for my breakfast.

Pronouns and Other Thoughts about Grammar

In recent years, pronouns have become complicated. First, “they” or “their” replaced “he or she” and “his or her”.  I understand why that is convenient. What I have trouble with is the addition of she/her or him/his to email signatures.  Really?

Also lately, I have added gender-related terms to my vocabulary, including cisgender, nonbinary, mx, genderfluid, genderqueer, ze and hir. I suspect we have not heard the last of this.

In other vocabulary news, the word "woke" used to (and still) means the past tense of wake.  However, it now also has a political meaning, “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice)” according to Merriam-Webster.

Which leads me to ChatGPT, an amazing, but frightening development that has academics scrambling to figure out how to keep students’ writing original.

The pace of change is a bit frightening. Especially if you are 80-something.

Learning and Possibly Forgetting

I am always up for learning something new, especially if it does not include formulas.  Since September, I have been making a feeble and not very successful attempt to learn Portuguese via Duo Lingo.  Still, it’s fun.

Earlier this month, I sat in on an all-day-five-day course at Harvard Kennedy School about the issues faced by contemporary Indian Nations.  The course was co-taught by a professor I knew from my work and a Native American judge who is a faculty member at UCLA Law School, with guest speakers, including tribal chiefs and the Treasurer of the U.S. who is chief of the Mohegan Tribe.

There were about sixty students, including many Native Americans. The first day felt long.  The rest of the week flew by. We are never too old to learn something new.

The challenge in our eighties is remembering it.

The Wedding Portrait

I am always reading a book.  Sometimes it is the same book for a very long time. Occasionally, it is a book I can’t put down. 

My latest in the can’t-put-it-down category is Maggie O’Farrell’s The Wedding Portrait.  The story is loosely based on a 16th century Italian duchess, Lucrezia di Cosimo de’Medici, who is forced into marriage at an early age and comes to believe that her husband is going to kill her.  (This is revealed in Chapter 1.)   It is a good read by the well-regarded author of Hamnet, a National Book Circle award-winner.

Often, when I finish a book, I read its reviews to see what the critics say.  They did not recommend this one.

Read it anyway.


On January 15, 2008, encouraged by our journalist son Seth, I stopped scribbling my thoughts on life in random notebooks and wrote my first post on  At that time, no one (including me) thought I would still be “blabbing” to a bunch of people I don’t know (and some I do) fifteen years later.

What have I gained from this adventure? I’ve learned about commitment.  Brush my teeth twice a day; write a blog post twice a week. I’ve learned that writing helps me process the joys and disappointments that are part of all our lives.  And much more.

I’ve written 1,570 posts and have received several thousand comments from readers either on the blog site or by email.

At my age, each day is a gift so I don’t expect to be writing this for fifteen more years.

But one never knows.


Out in the World, At Last

One of my favorite activities is back.  Thursday Morning Talks, a series of talks by outstanding academics, writers, and more, was on Zoom for two years.  Last Thursday, 200 gathering-deprived-individuals met in a Cambridge church to listen to Robert Putnam, a distinguished Harvard political scientist give a talk based on his latest book, The Upswing.

Almost everyone was masked, but we were there together.  And that was lovely.  The highlight was the talk, of course, but an additional plus for me was when a woman from the neighborhood we left five years ago reported to me that my former fig tree is thriving in her living room.

Professor Putnam reminded us that our generation has lived in good times. And that more good times can lie ahead.

The Blue and White Striped T-Shirt

Ten years ago, a friend of Jeremy’s was starting a business producing videos of families talking about their histories.  Potentially, those videos would replace the fading-away-photographs-of-old that we pull out today to look at our predecessors.

Peter and I were Jeremy’s friend’s guinea pigs.

We were interviewed separately, so I had no idea what Peter said. 

Jeremy decided to set aside the tapes for twenty years, but he offered me a look a few weeks ago. They now reside on You-tube. I think he sensed how much pleasure it would be for me to see what Peter had to say back then. And he was right.

Of course, I watched the interview of me too.  It seems that even ten years ago, I considered myself lucky.  However, (probably because I am a woman), I couldn’t help but focus on the beginning of facial lines that now appear front and center in the mirror.

I was wearing a blue-striped T-shirt that day. I still have that T-shirt, and it looks the same.  The person in it…

Not so much.

Watching a Movie Alone

I don’t have anything against television.  I was grateful for every minute that I watched the World Cup.  Peter and I loved the series “Friday Night Lights” and several others.   But there is something about watching alone that I don’t like, even with a whole bowl of popcorn that I don't have to share.

One night between Christmas and New Year’s, I decided to watch “Two Swimmers,” a film recommended by a friend who knows a lot about movies.   I liked it.

I had the whole sofa to myself.

I didn’t like that.

A New Year

Another year gone by, more quickly than the one before it.  This is the year I will turn eighty-five!  There’s no getting around it.  I will be officially “old-old”.  I’ve been thinking that every day is a gift for quite a while.  But old-old and being in good health is like winning the lottery.

There are many things I wish for in 2023—a less-divided country, solutions for our environmental issues, a peaceful world, and a better Boston Red Sox team.

I’m not asking for much.

Happy New Year!