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    Prior to having kids my son and his wife adopted a rescue dog. This was the classic post-wedding, pre-children step, and Maggie initially seemed like the perfect pet. She was a four-year-old mutt, on the larger but not too big size, very mellow and affectionate. Until she went outside. I don’t know if dogs can be schizophrenic, but believe me, if anecdotal reporting is acceptable, they can. Indoors, Maggie was sweet and loving; never chewing, not barking inappropriately. Overall, a real love bug. Outdoors? A holy terror. We discovered this while dog-sitting for ten days. Maggie in the house? Heaven....
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  • BaBoom

    I’m so old, I once auditioned for the musical Hair. To be clear, this was for a road company production in Seattle, not the New York version. Still, I knew that once my talent became evident, I would be beckoned East to join the original cast. At nineteen, I had no voice, dance, or drama training. I did have a dream, though, and apparently a very loose hold on reality. Practice consisted of standing on my parent’s fireplace overhang while I practiced the trademark Easy to be Hard, a heartbreaking number about the pain of love. I was well qualified...
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    There are a lot of things to worry about these days, and I promise you, I spend most of my time doing so. In fact, I stew so much about everything going on in the world, that tomorrow you can day a day off from all your most pressing concerns. Hey – take two days. I have it covered. I am the sole proprietor of the world’s number one fretting insurance company. Have you seen my ads on TV? However, I have found a few seconds to obsess about something completely new, and, though I’m not saying this will overtake...
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  • Nana Garb

    When I was growing up, I had only one grandmother and one grandfather, from different sides of the family, neither of whom I saw on a regular basis. Both lived in different states. My grandfather, my mother’s father, was a colorful ne’er do well, an alcoholic who lived a rather shabby life. There was a brief period after my parent’s divorce when he lived with my mother and myself, but before and after that, I rarely saw him. My father’s mother, ‘Grandmother’, as I always called her, was a very nice woman who had been widowed early, liked two old...
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  • Bullies

    Bullies are a part of childhood. They’re, sadly, an integral part of the everyday grownup world. How we learn to deal with the creatures is integral to our life experience. 
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  • Scent

    Today as I was sitting next to my daughter on her front porch, masks on, heater in front of us, my granddaughter Adeline ran to her mom and hugged her. She then said, “You smell like Nana.” I of course noted,
    “That’s must be a wonderful smell.”  When it didn’t get the laugh I’d expected, I had an ‘aha’.
    Oh, my God. I have a Nana smell.
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  • The Girl I Wished I’d Been

    When I was thirteen, I wanted to be just like the girls in the popular group. At seventeen, I aspired, with absolutely no justification at all, to be a Broadway star. At thirty, I harbored envy for two sisters who had written a best-selling book on how to keep your house clean. I had a very messy house, and wanted to be more organized, but these two had the system figured out and became rich in the process. By fifty, I began looking back, thinking, “If I’d only taken drama in high school and college, I could have triedacting. Given...
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  • Moss and Crows

    One of the joys of grandparenting is having the time and energy to enjoy children. Naturally, I loved every minute when I was a parent, but, working full time while engaged in day in, day out parenting, several years of which my husband was attending post-graduate school out of town, I was so exhausted that when my kids would do something darling and wonderful it would register, but with more of a “If I wasn’t so tired, I would write this down in that book I started about how fantastic Kid Number One is, wherever I put the thing –...
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  • Finding Joy During Covid – A Pessimist’s Guide

    I’ve always been a full-fledged pessimist. Completely developed and continually active, nearly one hundred percent of the time. I wish it weren’t so, but it’s a genetic and environmental legacy. I come from negative, critical stock who always saw the worst in everything.
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  • Culling Down

    We’ve all gone through so many phases and feelings the past nine months, it’s hard to sort out if it’s time to grieve some more, focus on the positive once again or start over on the hall closet. Part of all of those processes has been a culling down, a prioritization, of what matters. What clothes will we really wear in 2022? Is that red skirt I’ve been saving for a holiday party ever going to fit anyway, particularly with some slight Covid poundage added? That’s hardly worth pondering when the real priorities have become so clear, who we love...
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  • Killing The Balloon

    There’s a balloon in my house and I cannot kill it.
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  • Saving Our Swan

    Last week, Ariel Cordova-Rojas rescued a swan with lead poisoning. Visiting New York’s Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge for her 30th birthday, and previously trained with identifying and rescuing wildlife, she quickly realized the swan was in severe distress.
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  • Is This Weird?

    I’ve watched a lot of television these past months. Lots. And not documentaries (though “My Octopus Teacher” was the exception and well worth it). Basically, my viewing habits are focused on a combination of what I watched in the eighties plus anything else that helps me forget about reality for twenty-two minutes at a time. For some months, instead of reading before I fall asleep, I’ve watched “Cheers”. Then my iPad stopped facilitating access, so I was forced back to books, which hold my attention for approximately seven minutes, regardless what time of day or caliber of book. I’ve steamrolled...
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  • My mother taught me the imperative of voting

    My mother had what we used to call an Irish temper. Her last name was O’Donnell, and though she didn’t come from Ireland (her father was born there), she could turn, when prompted, from a gracious, well-mannered woman to a seething, manic force in seconds. Sometimes it was after a few drinks, but mostly, her metamorphosis came when her principles were challenged. One of those convictions had to do with the importance of voting. When I was 23, I had never voted. It was the presidential election, and President Richard Nixon and George McGovern were opponents. I was for McGovern,...
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  • The Life-sustaining Value Of Female Friendship During Covid

    For most women, friends form the basis of our well-being. Sure, our partners may be on the front line, but, particularly for women over 60, friendships have great emotional heft. They form the basis of our social life and contribute greatly to the health of our psyche. These days? I cherish the life-sustaining value of female friendship. First Response: Panic When Covid crisis began, one of the first things I did was form an email community of various friends from all over the country. How were we coping? What strategies helped? Where were we, day to day, in this extraordinary journey?...
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  • Book Signing Initiation

    I had the pleasure of experiencing my first book signing recently at the Barnes & Noble in Palm Desert, California. It was, in all ways, a positive learning experience. Barnes & Noble allows and deftly facilitates signings for ‘independent’ authors. Theoretically, it’s a win-win for both parties; the writer gets exposure, and hopefully they bring customers in the door for the host. When I asked Mike, the genial employee who set up the event, for advice on how best to maximize the experience for all, he said something like, “Create a relationship with the customers – it’s all about that.”...
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    Apparently there’s a new movie out about women in a retirement community (could be a nursing home or the refrigerator room of a funeral parlor – same thing) who start a cheerleading squad. Let’s take a moment. I thought I’d seen it all on the big screen when it came to being offered ‘seniors’ in circumstances depicted as people with no dignity, nothing to offer or a modicum of self-awareness. Actually, I haven’t seen it all; I wouldn’t go to one of those road trip/buddy movies populated with old people doing silly, stereotypical deeds if they offered free admittance and...
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  • Susan Lucci and Me

    Recently, while spending several hours in a hospital waiting room and having sped through the one book I’d brought, I furtively gathered as many germ-infested magazines I could before all the other bored and anxious inhabitants of the freezing, ‘We’re not even going to bother putting art on the wall here’ room could take the booty themselves. All of those coveted publications, by the way, are ones I wouldn’t pay a dime for in an airport shop.  No matter. It was like that stack of slick covered papers were a pile of Snickers bars and I didn’t know any better...
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  • What’s this World Coming To?

    I thought the situation was dire, what with the wall, shutdown and He Who Shall Not Be Named in charge of it all. Then, the Australian accent happened. I don’t think I can take it anymore. I don’t watch The Bachelor, but apparently there’s a female candidate on the show who has faked an Australian accent because she thought it would improve her chances to win the love and devotion of someone with whom she’s had ten false interactions.  All this while being observed by millions of people. The concept of the show has always perplexed me. It’s hard enough...
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  • What do you do with an off-kilter day?

    When the assistance desk keeps you on hold for thirty-five minutes and you hang up after leaving your callback number but really don’t want to talk to them anymore anyway. When that fourth in doubles puts the whole rhythm off. When someone drops by that you’d rather say, “No thanks, not today” to but you smile, thinly. When the news has some purple mixed in with all that black and grey and grim. So. You take a long bath, but of course the hot water runs out too soon. You hide under the covers and try for a nap, but...
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    Every morning I wake up, walk down the hall to the kitchen, turn on the tea water, sit down in the little adjacent room and say “Alexa, set the timer for ten minutes.” She then repeats, “Ten minutes.” I proceed to meditate. Then, she rings a little bell and I respond with, Alexa, stop.” She follows my directive and I return to the kitchen, reheat the water which isn’t hot anymore, (I can’t explain the logic – just go with me) and begin my day, all the better for meditating before any other activity. This morning, following my routine, after...
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  • I Like Your Dress

    The other day I was wearing an unusual sundress.  Unusual because it didn’t come from Goodwill, wasn’t made of sweat pants material and actually had some style.  It was a 90-degree day, and me and my little dress were feeling cool and kind of cute, which means I wasn’t wearing Goodwill sweatpants and un-matching top.  Shopping for this and that at TJ Maxx, my upscale, (relatively), ‘go-to’ for anything brand-new that will last a whole season, (I know, I know, there’s another school of thought about all this, but where’s the fun of buy one good piece I’ll have forever...
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  • Whistle

    Great. Now I can’t whistle. There are very few things I can’t do now that I could do when I was twenty. I am a very slow runner now, but I was at twenty. I’m a better tennis player now than forty years ago. I’m slightly wiser, perhaps kinder, and I know how to navigate airports in foreign countries, stand up for myself most of the time, and put on a much better dinner party. When I was twenty, I couldn’t read any faster than I do at nearly seventy. I’m a more experienced and seasoned driver and can figure...
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Art by Lisa Jensen