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  • 10/16/2019 I told my husband, Peter, that our marriage was like stew—and that’s a good thing. 
    This is a second marriage for both Peter and me. We were both married for a long time and then divorced for quite a while. We dated other people and realized how tricky the whole process of finding a new partner was, after habits had been set and preferences settled. 
    When I met Peter, I was ready… I think. I had healed and spent time on my own and figured out who I was—single and over fifty and changed in many ways from the person I had been while married. 
    Peter had also done his homework. He was perfectly self-sufficient in every respect. He just wanted love. As it happens, this is something I had a good supply of. And so, we started dating and Peter asked me to marry him after only two months. We waited a year and got married on the one-year anniversary of our first date. 
  • 10/9/2019 They say that blessings come in disguise. 
    If so, my blessings are poorly disguised. They show up wearing false noses and funny eyeglasses and are instantly recognizable unless I am being completely thick-headed—and it is astonishing how often I am. 
    I had a really bad year a few years back when I lost my husband and my job and my home in rapid succession. All of this happened while I was living in Nigeria (which was not great to begin with). I realized immediately that this was very bad news. But I also figured out, pretty early on, that I had been given an opportunity to start my life from scratch. Nearly every day since I hear of someone else who has overcome tragedy, a dreadful illness, a setback, or disappointment in their life and found new meaning and purpose as a direct result of their terrible experience. 
    Somehow, it is almost harder to live with unexpected good news. “What the heck?” I say. “I wasn’t expecting this!” 
    Part of the challenge of navigating changes at mid-life is that they don’t seem to follow any sensible trajectory. When I was in my twenties, things seemed to move slowly, but in an expected way. Thirty-plus years later, my life hopscotches from one thing to the next in a way that can be disorienting. 
    I started writing in earnest at age 50. I sold a book, started this column, and now am making plans to tour a show (with a musician!) that features writings from the book and the columns. It has all happened so quickly, I find myself feeling stressed and out of sorts.
  • 10/2/2019 I was not popular in high school. 
    Everyone says this. I now realize that no one—not even the most popular person in high school—self-identifies as popular. 
    Lately I’ve been getting a lot of Facebook friend requests from people I scarcely knew in high school. I have a 40th class reunion coming up next year and I’ve been getting friend requests from people who, I am quite sure, would not have recognized me walking down the hall in high school. 
  • 9/25/2019 

    I spent the last couple weeks visiting my parents. 

    I’ve been lucky in the parent department. It’s fashionable to recall some pivotal incident that occurred when we were eight and extrapolate how every difficulty experienced in our life since is a result. But I’ve never seen any truth to this in my own life. I was really happy when I was eight—and I give my parents full credit. 

     
  • 9/11/2019 The surprises just kept coming. 
    When I moved in with Peter a few years back, I brought my clothes, a few books, and some artwork. I rented out my house, gave away my furniture, and everything else was consigned to “things I’ll deal with later,” a pile which—mysteriously—did not shrink with time. These stacked plastic boxes were still in my barn, still waiting for me, long after I’d forgotten what was in them or cared. 
    But I am going to put the property up for sale and it was time for a reckoning with the barn. It took two dumpsters, four days, and two hardworking guys from the appropriately named, “Git-er-Gone Junk & Clutter Removal,” to see it to the end. 
    And, yes, I did think, “Why not just dump it all, sight unseen?”
  • 9/4/2019 Nobody was using the old wren house.
    My grandfather built it. Grandpa started building birdhouses when he retired from milking cows and his second oldest son took over. That son, my mother’s brother, is now 87 and retired 20 years ago. It’s a pretty old birdhouse. 
    “My dad never built fancy birdhouses,” my mother explained. Grandpa put on a tarpaper roof and, if you needed to clean it out, you had to unscrew the back. But they were sweet little birdhouses, painted bright blue with a little perch outside the round door. I always assumed they were mostly for decoration. 
    My parents had one of grandpa’s birdhouses hanging outside their cabin for years and they got wondering, one day over coffee, why this perfectly serviceable house never got any use. (My parents do some of their best thinking over coffee.)
    “Well, there are a lot of trees with woodpecker holes in them,” my father offered. Maybe the wrens just didn’t need any additional housing. 
    “Maybe we’re putting it out too late,” my mother suggested. They put the birdhouse in the basement every winter and spent early spring in Florida. 
    So this year, just to be on the safe side, my parents left the birdhouse out all winter so it would be ready for the wrens first thing in the spring. But winter was hard on the old birdhouse and my father noticed the perch had fallen out. 
  • 8/28/2019 I’ve been having my husband, Peter, cut my hair.
    I’m not sure I would recommend this to everyone, but I have almost no hair. Actually, I have the usual number of hairs, but they are so fine that a hair that falls from my head into the sink is invisible to the naked eye. Peter cuts his own hair and kept insisting he could cut mine. I was waiting weeks to get an appointment with a stylist and, when I finally got in, pay an extraordinary amount per milligram of hair cut. 
    The haircut itself was something like a mime act. Neither the stylist nor I could see the hair before or after it was cut so she would circle me for the required number of minutes making noise with scissors until she could legitimately claim it had been long enough to constitute a haircut and charge the expected fee. I would look behind me as I left the stylist’s chair: there was no trace of hair on the floor. There did appear to be a little less on my head—but where it had gone was anyone’s guess. 
  • 8/7/2019 This past week, my parents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary and I stood in front of the greeting card rack for a very long time. 
    Whenever I try to buy a card for my mom or dad, I have a heck of a hard time. I almost bought a “blank inside” card because there wasn’t anything that even came close to telling them what I was thinking on the occasion of this milestone anniversary. 
    My parents have the kind of marriage that used to intimidate me. Other kids’ parents fought. Mine never did. Other kids would play one parent off the other. That got me exactly nowhere. My parents have always been best friends and I have always known their priority was one another. My sister and I never doubted that we were important and loved, but my parents would rely and care first for each other. It was a wonderful thing to see as a kid. It is wonderful to see today. 
    After 60 years, my parents complement one another so well, it is hard to see where one leaves off and the other picks up. My dad bakes the bread, my mother makes it into toast. My dad plans, my mother organizes. My dad’s eyesight has gone bad, so my mother reads aloud for both of them. 
    My mom says, exasperated, “I read the book, but he remembers everything in it!” 
  • 7/31/2019 I started The Postscript exactly one year ago. 
    I am more than a little superstitious when it comes to numbers. When I wrote the first draft of my memoir, Blue Yarn, I had an even number of chapters in all three sections. This was probably tidier than necessary, but maybe not terribly unusual. But then I made sure that every chapter had exactly 5000 words. This pleased me to no end—even as I realized my mania for symmetry was tipping over the edge. 
    When my agent sent notes to me, one of her comments was, “Chapter Eleven is very redundant and needs editing!” 
    I thought, “Well, of course it does! Do you have any idea how hard it was to get that chapter to exactly 5000 words?!” 
    I did not tell her this, of course. I don’t think it’s helpful if your agent thinks she is representing a crazy person. 
  • 7/17/2019 Spring came late and so, appropriately, did the annual deep cleaning of the refrigerator. 
    A lot of stuff gets tucked into the refrigerator over the course of the winter. Obsolete condiments band together and take refuge deep in the corners. A thuggish-looking jar of jam wearing a cap of mold sidles up to an empty bottle of horseradish sauce and they both evade detection by skulking behind an oversized bag of sun-dried tomatoes. A stray stalk of celery becomes separated from the pack and is left alone to mummify. Unnoticed spills of unidentified liquids petrify into sticky footprints. 
    The whole refrigerator had begun to resemble some archeological site with mysterious remnants of a past life that we could now only guess at. 
    In our house this is a double challenge because my husband, Peter, removed the dishwasher from our small kitchen and replaced it with a second, smaller refrigerator. The little refrigerator is a lifesaver but it is not self-defrosting—something we have come to take for granted. Over the winter, the mini freezer of the auxiliary fridge had almost entirely filled with ice and we discovered it just before it triggered the next ice age. 
    So, on a sunny day, Peter and I tackled our respective duties. He was responsible for removing the glacier in the tiny fridge while I worked to identify the historical artifacts in the freezer of the main fridge. 
    I know I need a better system. Finding a frosted-up package labeled: “Mostly Grated Cheese,” is not reassuring. Similarly, “Not Refried Beans,” proves most unhelpful a few months down the line. 
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