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For years, my oldest son has wished for an accordion. I always figured it could be one of those things he would find on his own, later in life, so I wasn’t spending much time looking for one to give him. He’s a music major in college, plays the euphonium and other low brass instruments, as well as piano, ukelele, and almost anything else that makes a sound.

While I was visiting a hospice patient the other day, I talked with her son-in-law who had an accordion to sell, asking price of $100. It’s hard to reconstruct how the conversation evolved to reveal that, but it came out of the blue and before I knew it I had a fine 1958 accordion in a case in the trunk of my car for Jack’s birthday at Thanksgiving.

The first month of school this year has been a bit tough on Jack this time around, and he decided to come home this weekend for some recharging and home cooking. So I decided to give him his gift early as a sort of spirit booster and because I didn’t know if I could hold in my excitement for two more months. It turns out that he’s actually recovered from his blue mood in the last week, is feeling good and happy and healthy. So it was really icing on the cake to watch his face when he took the case and opened it – I think it’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever given in terms of pure joy. Here he is trying it on.



I spent a great long weekend on Cape Cod to meet friends and celebrate a birthday, and now I feel like a noodle. I brought back sand samples from a couple of beaches, neatly labeled in ziplock baggies, to remind me of this trip: no time schedules, great inn, lots of fabulous food, beautiful weather, lighthouses, runs, hot tubs, and ocean swims. Conversation and laughter. Does it get much better than this?

Back to the real world…

the lighthouse at truro, celebrating 150 years


As usual, it’s more than just one kind of day today. Not only is it my Memphis friend Gary’s birthday, it is also Talk Like A Pirate Day.

On the official website, there’s a list of pickup lines with a pirate-ish flavor. Here’s a good one:

4. How’d you like to scrape the barnacles off of me rudder?

Hey, wait a minute. I had someone say that to me, and I did, in fact, scrape barnacles off a boat… Was he a real pirate trying to shiver me timbers? Aaarrrrr, blimey, the next time I see the scurvy dog it be time for a keelhaul!

Speaking of friends from first grade, Chris isn’t the only one who has that status: my childhood playmate and lifetime friend Kathy was also part of our neighborhood and school gang. Now she lives in Maine with her partner Lenora in a rambling old home that’s got everything from chickens to door pulleys, and their lives follow the same un-patterned architecture of work and relationships. These women put their time and money where their hearts are, and I love their creative energy. Instead of experiencing the feeling of compassion for people in need, these two take them into their home and shelter them. They feed them. They find them jobs. They are love in action.

kathy and lenora

Now that they’ve got an empty nest (their son left for school a few years ago) like I do this year, they’ve had interesting stories to tell that make me realize that parenting doesn’t end when kids leave home.

Here are some little details about Kathy from when we were kids:
-skinny and freckled
-walking down the sidewalk one day, she told me about a great book called The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Thanks for opening the world of Narnia for me, Kath-
-we tried to write a book together one summer in her cool basement. We made an illustration of a bloody finger beckoning from the window of an old house. I know we talked about it a while back, but I still can’t remember the plot.
-her mom was young and wore a bikini. This was very cool to me.
-Kathy was always can-do. You could talk about any topic, and she could jump right in.
-She would fix you with those blue eyes and ask the piercing question, the hard question. For a pleasant, well-mannered, tiny child, you still just knew not to mess with her.
-Kathy is a great listener, and remembers everything, and she’s been like that since she was a kid. The term steel trap comes to mind…

Of course, there’s so much more, but that’s enough for here.

A few months ago, Kathy asked me if we could get together so she could see Grace before she left for Italy. It had been some years since Kathy had actually seen my daughter just through flukes of scheduling. So we made one plan that fell through, and another, and finally, the week before Grace was to leave, I decided to just drive all the way up there for a visit. Grace and I left early in the morning and met the gals for breakfast at this interesting restaurant that’s all about eggs. An artist friend of theirs was having a yard sale, so we went there and picked up some great stuff, including an old set of highball glasses that sported gold rims and the names of different international cities, including, of course, Rome. And then Lenora gave us a great driving tour of Portland, while Kathy did the narration. It was a perfect morning. Thanks, old friends! Can’t wait to see you in November!

kathy and lenora with grace and me

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I started first grade with one of my best friends 40 years ago. Last summer I saw Chris one week before he started his training and diet regime to get fit and stay alive (top photo, at Faneuil Hall in Boston). The next time I saw him was last Friday, 2 days after hitting his goal weight (bottom photo, with my boys). I almost died when I saw him, he looks so great. His face looks the way it did in 5th grade (ok, a bit older). This man left a longtime career to go back to school and now teaches geography to 8th graders. He jokes about having lost a whole 8th grader this year in weight. I think he’s a hero, not just to me but to all those students who witnessed the changing of a life. Thanks, Christopher. You are ever an inspiration, dear friend.



"If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?" -Hillel
all the entries are found early in the march 2007 archive...