Generally I’m not one of those people who chooses a “word” each year but this year a word seems to have chosen me.  Patience.   My mother is famous for calling patience a virtue, I’m calling bullshit on that.   I’m going more with Aristotle’s point of view, patience is excruciating, but worth it.

So far this year, another hospital stay for Mom that looked as if it might be the last. But…Phoenix that she is, she’s actually back in rehab where she’s the bell of the ball as you know by now. Some interesting things have come out of this latest adventure, talk of nursing homes, better hydration, walking more or if you want to go home you need help.  Wait for it…she’s in agreement on several of those points.  Nursing home, not so much…she’s more a worker than a spender. The conversations were delicate, the consensus took a bit more than the usual minute but the outcome was worth it.

It has been bitter cold, snowy for a spell but mostly cold. My walking ritual was interrupted and the stir crazies set in much quicker than they ever have.  I’m more a winter person than summer but this is excruciating.

In anticipation of what might have been, and her direct orders, I began poking around in boxes and dressers and cabinets and cubbies at Mom’s tiny apartment. Bring home the jewelry, bring home the coins, give so and so the whatever, make sure you grab the other thing.  Patience, patience patience…which led me to thinking about my house and the interesting annual ritual they have in Sweden called “death cleaning”.  Go through your home as if…  Would you need to place undue burden on your loved ones (aka you know who) after you’re gone?

And so today begins the sorting and purging of papers and blah blah in my own home.  It’s a whirlwind around this little place on Stowe Lane but…definitely worth it

Patience: what doesn’t kill you.


No Ordinary Haircut

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My dearest friend has never said a word to me. I believe she would if only she could talk and I’ve asked her at times to please talk to me. This week, however, even if she could talk I think she wouldn’t.

Perhaps you’ve followed the recounting of Toti Nonna’s haircut on Instagram this week. Seems an ordinary enough task but as an old dog it really isn’t. It becomes a logistical endeavor complete with bribery, deceit, and contrition.

First, and here’s where I may have gone wrong, I wait as long as I can to begin the grooming planning. All through the winter her hair gets longer and wider and fluffier and woolier. She could actually be shorn for a sweater if I was that weird kind of Martha Stewart industrious.

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Then we set the date, early in the month so that I can put her flea and tick repellent on afterward without it being washed off at the groomer. Then comes the deception, let’s go for a ride in the car for absolutely no reason. She knows what each ride is about like going to Fedex, I wave the Fedex envelopes, like going to Gramma’s I grab the bag of clean laundry and use a special shorter leash. So when we begin to go for a ride using the shorter leash and don’t wind up at Gramma’s I believe I’m not fooling her in the least but I carry on in my delusion.

Then the day comes and I grab the short leash and a “special” cookie, really who the hell am I kidding, and off we go to visit Aunt Sara at Petco. She will pee several times before we go in, even if there’s nothing left she will eeek out another drop. One time she even tried to poop as soon as we got inside the store, it didn’t work. We didn’t turn around. We weren’t even embarrassed because we go so early in the morning no one even saw us.

Sara comes out and coos and coddles her but she puts on the big shake. Every part of her body begins to tremble, it is unbelievably effective in ripping my heart out. And now I have to walk out the door and leave her there. She can throw a guilt producing pout over her shoulder like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

Several hours later I get the call to come pick her up. Those several hours feel like an eternity, the quiet the settles over the house when she’s not around is deafening. No nails clicking on the wood floors, no barking at the FedEx guy, no snoring. I can’t work without snoring in the background. I can’t wait to go and get her.

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She is beautiful. She looks so thin and healthy and young. All her gray muzzle is under her chin, it hasn’t crept up around her face yet. Her belly is grey and brindled. She doesn’t give a good God damn that I am happy to see her and making a fuss. GET ME OUT OF HERE.

Once in the car she pants all the way home. Once in the door she drinks a gallon of water. Once she checks the entire house to see that everything is alright she puts on the stink eye and goes to sleep. She is exhausted. She ain’t happy. She just ain’t having anything to do with me.

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Somewhere in the middle of the night she will sneak up on the bed and curl up in the crook of my legs. All is forgiven in the wee hours but she is far from recovered. She will sleep the next two days away, do what she has to outside and come back quickly.

Today I grabbed the short leash to go to Gramma’s but she reserved her excitement until after I had the clean laundry bag in my hand to walk out the door. All is right with the world now that she is going to Gramma’s. Gramma thinks so too and while my dearest one still hasn’t said a word to me I’m pretty sure I’ve been forgiven. For the love of an old dog I would do anything.

I Know Like I Know 2015

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Wisdom comes from anything that has ever healed in your life. The intensity and number of those things varies throughout your life. I’ve often quoted Zora Neale Hurston’s view of some years ask the questions and some years answer them. With the years that answer comes the healing and the wisdom. With what could have become a downward spiral came the answers this year.


We lost our Lina to a nasty cancer that moved quickly and thoroughly allowing only enough time for us to realize that this little girl who suffered so terribly from anxiety her whole life could indeed be brave. Her sister showed us how to heal in the most basic way, forget yourself and give your love to someone else, her Gramma. This is the love affair that saved us all.

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I had the pleasure of being a part of two very different stories this year. Spending time with Ida and learning how to make ravioli in her company along with her family will stay with me forever. Food traditions are a recurring theme on this blog, and so important to the development of individual and family legacies. Documenting them is becoming more and more imperative so they are not lost.

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Along those lines I had the privilege of reading and sharing a wonderful story about my friend Bill’s father. He had documented his feelings about the world and his place in it when Bill was just a year old. In retrospect he set about embracing and living up to his story in big and small ways. What a treasure to preserve for generations to come.

Story preservation kept ringing in my ears, these lessons taught unwittingly with integrity and honesty are invaluable. From the tiniest gestures, to the unique talents, to the surprises and family folklore and secrets our elders are an untapped resource that I fear will be lost. And so the Elder Beauty Project started to take shape. This coming year I hope you’ll give some thought to highlighting someone in your life and contact this story preservationist to assist.

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Through some serendipitous clicking around the internet my sister and I found ourselves on a mountain in Ludlow VT. More than once after our return we’ve found ourselves saying it’s the best thing we’ve ever done. Green Mountain at Fox Run provided hope among the birch with lessons on Food, Movement and Mindfulness. Most importantly they provided a very safe place to make it your intention to let go of something that no longer serves you. And that we did.

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For me it was letting go of my story. The one I’ve been carrying around for decades, the one that wasn’t mine to carry around, and the one that I feared would become my legacy. The most courageous thing that I have done to date is write my story, and the story of ordinary legacy, and submit it to Women for One for consideration as one of their Truthtellers. Happily, gratefully, humbly they accepted and published my story, I am now a Truthteller. That my story may somehow help someone else in a similar situation is of great comfort to me but the healing has been of even greater solace. With healing comes the wisdom.

Blogger Recognition Award 2015

I was also nominated for a blogger recognition award. I don’t know if there is an actual award or if someone simply thought highly enough of my work to give it recognition through sharing but I am grateful to Maria Baird of Manifesting Me none the less.

This is the first year in many decades that I’ve had my picture taken and shared so often. Frankly I’ve had my picture taken more this year than in the last ten years. I’ve spent an eternity behind the camera but never in front. It became clear to me through all this good work that if your intention is to leave a legacy they may as well know what you look like, no? Now I’d love to find someone who can really capture who I really am on film, stay tuned.

The year was filled with friends, old, new and new/old. Retirement (41)


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Not least among them was Wanda. She shared her beautiful Cape home, her sorrows and her joys with me as if we’d just hung up from each other last week. It is a wonderful gift to connect with someone so quickly with complete trust. I look forward to sharing all that is the story of us in the coming years.


I finally found Instagram. Seriously, I started a 365 in November and am enjoying the hell out of it. You can find me on Instagram @ordinarylegacy or you can follow the hashtag #lifeonstowelane. I know you’re shocked by both of those. There is that moment when you realize that a hashtag of your own is cool but other common hashtags can connect you to others and some very funny or poignant stories and oh yeah it can connect people to you…#wetdog is a favorite as is #fromwhereistand. Took me awhile but this old dog learned a new trick, just sayin.

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And so this was the year of wisdom through healing. Watching my mother, aka Gramma, with Toti Nonna has made me realize all we ever really need is a loving connection. Watching my sister let go of the grief that no longer serves her has brought laughter and ease and renewal. Watching others heal through my words has brought gratitude and responsibility. Healing has brought me wisdom. I look forward, like never before, to the coming year, the coming decade and the continued wisdom it will bring. I hope you will continue to honor me with your presence on Ordinary Legacy and join me in preserving even more stories through the Elder Beauty Project.  Stay tuned to find out what’s happening on Stowe Lane…





With a Full Heart

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Having a full heart doesn’t just mean gratitude. For a holiday that is based in gratitude, Thanksgiving can be problematic because God knows any number of gratitude violations can occur. Having a full heart means feeling the emotions of the day whether they are good or bad, the impact of your world and, yes, gratitude. If you’re open to it there are little miracles happening if you’re not your heart may ache.

I began my holiday on Tuesday making Stollen, a new tradition I’m starting for my sister-friend Evi. She and her family join us for the traditional “family” holidays each year and I can’t picture it any other way now. While Stollen is a traditional Christmas bread, that holiday belongs to her husband, Walter, and his fruit cake. It’s a yeast bread, anything can happen but only good came from the yeast this first time out. The house smelled wonderful and I believe it was a welcome addition to the table.

Wednesday is my pre-prep day. The brussel sprouts are roasted, three bags of them this time because somehow everyone decided to like them after all these years. I roast them on Wednesday so that I can have every single one of those crispy chips to myself. They are salty and flavorful and oh so CRISPY! Stuffing is made, cranberry sauce is made, and table is set.brussells001Just as I’m finishing all my prep I get a text from two of my favorite people, the Riley’s, who are just sitting down to lunch at our favorite place at our favorite table the day before Thanksgiving when there shouldn’t have been a seat to be had. The rules of serendipity kick in and I’m on my way, no makeup, cooking clothes, smelling like brussel sprouts and we couldn’t have had a better time.

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Thursday brings my sister and my mother to the house first. My mother has been practicing going up the stairs and walking each day so that she can make it into my home. She was a champ! She has also been having a wonderful love affair with our Toti Nonna, the dog who I’m sure was the motivation for all that “practice”. I am convinced they are saving each other on so many levels. It is an amazing thing to watch them together. It really fills my heart, and everyone else’s.thanksgiving 2015001Every once in a while when I cook in my kitchen I feel just the slightest twinge of regret for the magnificent kitchen I left behind. My kitchen is very tiny but then when I see the miracle of something going from raw to roasted, the ease with which I can move around and the number of people who feel comfortable in my home I let the twinge come and let it go just as quickly.thanksgiving 2015003thanksgiving 2015005

I’m sure my sister is feeling the same thing in reverse. She is enjoying her magnificent kitchen and turning out some fabulous dishes where she was once an onlooker to Honey’s domain. And it was Honey’s domain from which came incredible meals the likes of which we won’t see again. I wait all year for her pumpkin pie and she truly truly truly outdid herself this year. My heart swells when I picture her at her baking counter with her Cuisinart and KitchenAid mixer putting together her newest rendition with shortbread crust and creamy amazing filling. She brings two, I put one away to enjoy throughout the weekend but it “must be gone by Sunday” or I will never get back to a normal diet. The new rendition is a keeper that I will enjoy year after year, right?thanksgiving 2015004

Each year when we are all around the table I manage to get a picture. I never really manage to get in the picture because…well you know. This year however through the magic of IPhone, a rigged stand made out of binder clips and delayed exposure I got in!!! It’s a beautiful picture and I’m so thrilled to have it but it makes me laugh. We all have a perfect smile as if we are looking at someone taking the picture, but really we’re staring at the phone, counting down one second away from bursting out laughing. As if the picture weren’t enough we have that silly moment as well.thanksgiving 2015007


Surrounded by people I love, Mom and Terri going home early but far later than previous years, the Girls coming in with hugs and love, still others coming in like a whirlwind in need of a friendly atmosphere, the over lapping and fellowship among all just goes straight to the root of life on Stowe Lane. Texts from friends, a wonderful phone call from my newest old friend, too much food, way too much wine, so much laugher, complete exhaustion at the end of the day, or rather the three days, my heart is full. I am in awe of the love that resides in this home, of the people in my life and the good fortune that I’ve found. It all came home to me the next day on our walk, we were cutting through the fog, figuratively and literally from the “richness” of Thanksgiving, and the sun made its way out.

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I saw a heart in that emerging sun, I see a sun in my emerging heart…


2015-03-20 17.43.02-2On any given Friday night in homes across this country you can find people eating pizza.  But not like this.  Elevating pizza to the next level and sharing the end of a crazy week on Stowe Lane requires collaboration, the appropriate beverage and removing the smoke detector from the hall ceiling…

My job is making the dough, the rest we leave up to the master with a little “encouragement” from her beloved…

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