Month: August, 2017

Abandoned Houses: Part Two

Every house tells a story. A student said this when I was talking about my fascination with abandoned houses.

Every house tells a story.

Not just empty houses. Every house tells a story of those who lived there. Who they loved, perhaps. What they valued. What their joys were. The things they worried about.

It might be the story of a family—struggling or content; grieving or joyful. It might be the story of one person—happy and fulfilled in life or wondering why they feel so lonely.

As many people as there are, that’s how many stories houses hold.




Garrison Keillor and Me

“A Prairie Home Companion” has changed over the past year. Garrison Keillor, the founder, host, and writer, retired and a new voice took over. I listened yesterday and thought, “Oh, they are trying to keep the show alive and bring in a younger audience, while not alienating the older folks.” Pretty good job so far.

Then I thought about Garrison Keillor. It must have been really hard to walk away from something he loved, something he created, and hand it over so that it can continue on. Much the way I felt when I walked away from 16 Belmont Court.

Chipping Away

For so very long I was wife and mother. We had our things that we did and we had our places we went. One of those places was AV Ristorante Italiano, located at New York Avenue and Sixth, NW. Even before David died, AV closed. The owners got an amazing sum of money for the property and rode off into the sunset, counting their dollars. We were sad because it was our place.

Now I drive by and there is a gargantuan building going up at 6th and New York. I feel like someone is chipping away at my life.


Labels–I’d love to know what you think

My son really hates it when I ask the question, “Are you an introvert or an extrovert?” He says he hates labels—they reduce someone to just one thing. That’s not how I see it. When I ask that question, it helps me understand how someone interacts with the world at a very basic level.

I think labels can be good, overall. Sure, they can be misused—but what isn’t these days? Labels, especially the ones we give ourselves, can help explain us to the people we meet. I’m an Irish Catholic girl from Long Island–don’t you forget it!


Abandoned Houses

I’m fascinated by abandoned houses. Drive through the American countryside and you will see an abandoned house from time to time. Who just walks away from a house and lets it rot by the side of the road??? I sold a house, left it behind, and it almost crushed me, so I don’t understand how a person—or a family—can just leave a house and let it decay.

Don’t we love our houses? Aren’t they symbols of something greater than just a place to lay our heads? Where are the ones who lived there, loved there, and walked away?

Generals in Charge

I often want to start my ramblings with “This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of.” For instance: who thought that hiring a retired Colonel or General to run a business or government agency (other than the DOD) was a good idea?

Generals are used to being told “yes sir” and having their orders carried out. They know the chain of command is sacrosanct. Everyone they work with agrees to follow the same rules, which rarely happens outside the Armed Services. Especially not in an organization like the DC Public Schools. And certainly not in the Trump White House.

Just Be Kind

There is a lot of cruelty going on in the world today. We all read about it every day. Brown people verbally abused for being “other.” People on each side of the political divide screaming at the other, often saying things that aren’t true. Police shooting innocent people.

When Miriam was in second or third grade, there was a girl in school who really bothered her. She whined about it. A lot. I said to her, “You don’t have to be her friend, just be kind.”

America, I say to you, “You don’t have to be nice, just be civil.”

White Sheets

Growing up every bed in our house was covered by white sheets. The pillowcases had white covers. I was fascinated by people who had colored—or floral–sheets on their beds. I always assumed we only had white sheets because we were poor; I thought we couldn’t afford better sheets. Looking back, I’m not so sure that was true. (Maybe it was a lack of imagination.) When I had my own place I had to have floral sheets. Sheets any color but white.

Today, my daughter—who has excellent taste, by the way—thinks white sheets are the ultimate luxury.


Red Geraniums

When I was around nine-years-old I went to work with my father and spent most of the day in the switchboard room. Later, my mother sent a pot of red geraniums to the ladies at the switchboard to say, “thank you.” They meant nothing to me.

When I lived on Belmont Court, a friend bought geraniums every spring—sometimes red, sometimes pink—and kept them on her front steps. They meant nothing to me, particularly.

Today, I have a small pot of red geraniums on my deck. They remind me of Mom and Chris. They mean so much to me.


I’m not a Mom anymore. Not really. I don’t  have to fix meals, worried that if I don’t people will starve. I don’t do loads and loads of laundry all weekend. I don’t drive anyone anywhere. I don’t worry about what the school is doing. Or about homework. Or long-term adjustment. I hardly worry about anything with my kids anymore.

If you had told me 30 years ago, when I was in the thick of it, that I would miss those dirty diaper, snotty nose, sweet kisses days, I wouldn’t have believed you. But I do. I miss being Mom.