And the List Grows On

As the question of trustworthiness has come into question a great deal in this election, I decided to get down to basics. How could we possibly trust Trump, a proven bully, misogynist, racist and liar, to run our country? What would you trust this man to do for you, your family or your local community? I asked myself that question after the first debate, and the list was short, so I decided to ask the opposite question. What tasks would I NOT trust him to do, were he a person in my community?

  1. Volunteer at a soup kitchen
  2. Babysit my children in case of an emergency
  3. Speak to my daughter about gender roles/careers/family values/religion/race/anything
  4. Speak to my sons about gender roles/careers/family values/religion/race/anything
  5. Present on any topic at local schools
  6. Pay taxes, local and federal
  7. Sell me a condo
  8. Pay a parking meter
  9. Pass a disabled person on the sidewalk without glaring with disgust
  10. Run a local business ethically
  11. Run a charity without misusing funds
  12. Collect my mail
  13. Serve as a juror
  14. Spell Big League, bigly or any other two-syllable word in a spelling bee
  15. Identify threats to the environment or causes of global warming
  16. Say hello to a gay couple
  17. Teach a history class on World War II
  18. Obey traffic laws
  19. Obey any laws
  20. Respect our police officers/teachers/firemen/city counselors

After the Billy Bush tape and the second debate, I added to the list:

  1. Stand within arm’s length of me or any woman I know

After the third debate, I added two more:

  1. Make decisions about reproductive rights or any women’s health issue
  2. Respect and uphold our country’s democratic process

With my list in front of me, I asked if I would trust Hillary Clinton to do these things. The answer was yes. A resounding yes. Most of these things are obviously not part of the job description of President, but many of them are part of the job description for decent human being. Trump is not qualified for that role. Not even close.

Hillary summed it up in the last debate. While she spent the past thirty years fighting to make our country a better place, particularly with regards to women and children’s rights, Trump was digging deeper into his own narcissism and psychopathy. Hillary Clinton is a person who values individuals regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, class and ability. She is a woman who has dedicated her life to service. We should dedicate the next two weeks to her. If we plan to entrust our future to someone who can lead our nation forward, we owe this to ourselves. Oh, and if she shows up in your community, you can bet she will say hello to you, no matter who you are or what you look like.



IMG_6041Dedicated to my mother and grandmothers. Happy Mother’s Day.

Through all of life’s changes, my mother knits. She knits in waiting rooms during doctor’s appointments for her elderly parents and in-laws. She knits in hospital chairs alongside my sister or me after the births of our children. She knits when she has quiet time to herself, when no tethers, young or old, are pulling on her.

When my mom first started knitting again, reigniting a hobby she learned as a child from her grandmother, Mary, she had no grandkids. It was as if a factory had opened and we, her four children and our spouses, were the only customers. Suddenly I had scarves of many colors, mittens, ponchos, wraps, and hats; one made of something called Fun Fur.

“People love this stuff,” my mom said, as I nodded in amazement and tried it on. Fun Fur has colorful threads sticking out in every direction from the main structure of the hat. I looked as if I had a charge of static electricity bursting from my head. One cold morning in New York, I couldn’t find my usual hat in my rush to work and grabbed the Fun Fur one, prompting my colleague to ask me if I was guest starring on Yo Gabba Gabba.

After filling our drawers with whimsical items, my mom honed her skills and expanded her customer circle to include her favorite waitress at the local diner, her hairdresser, and my friends’ newborn babies. Overall, we were quite impressed. We told her about and brainstormed online store names.

“Oh, I couldn’t charge money for these!” she insisted, as my dad commented that he would have to start a new category in the budget for all these knitting supplies.


Inventory at the knitting shop

Soon my mom had her first grandchild, and the knitting reached a new level. My son, Robert, spent his newborn months in cardigan and hat sets made from creamy, buttery cotton yarns, items that my third child, Ian, has long outgrown but that I cannot let go. Every winter, a call comes asking if they need more hats and mittens, and my answer is an emphatic Yes!, as if we couldn’t procure these items easily in New York City. The boys’ hats arrive with trucks and snakes on them. My daughter, Eliza’s hats are adorned with crocheted flowers or ribbons threaded through the yarn holes. Occasionally, a mitten or hat gets lost and I turn the house inside out trying to find it. There will be more, I remind myself. The factory is still in business.


Newborn quilts

As my mom’s knitting hobby grew, so did her connection with friends who were also becoming grandmothers. She and some of her close friends started a quilting circle, meeting every Thursday night from before Robert was born. They make quilts for each grandchild’s arrival, selecting the fabric, doing all the careful measurements and slowly piecing the quilt together as they talk about their families. I never see these women’s children, peers of mine I knew growing up in a small Pennsylvania town, but I feel like I know them from my mom’s updates. Recently, the baby boom has slowed, but the quilts are scattered around the country, each one signed on the back by the women in the circle. Mine adorn chairs and beds, wrap up dolls and line the floor for pretend picnics.


Birth samplers

I dabbled in crafts as a kid, but nothing turned into a true hobby. As teenagers we teased my mom about her cross-stitching, claiming in our obnoxious adolescent tone that it was not “real art.” Despite our mocking, cross-stitch pieces adorned the walls in my childhood home, simple scenes reflecting hours of work and patience. Now, on my children’s walls, I proudly display her handcrafted, cross-stitch birth samplers, another priceless newborn gift. Each child’s name and birth stats are framed in a decorative motif, a mosaic of multicolored thread that transports me in an instant to the day they were born.

My mother and grandmothers grew up in times of arts and crafts, of handmade Halloween costumes and handwritten letters, when Do-It-Yourself was not a vocabulary word because they just did it themselves. My paternal grandmother was a self-taught photographer with her own darkroom in the basement. She died a few years ago, but her black and white photographs are now part of our family keepsakes connecting us to her. For Christmas this year, my favorite gift was a cross-stitch Santa from my maternal grandmother, one of four that she made and framed for each of her grandchildren. He found a new home on the mantle above the stockings crocheted by my great-grandmother, Mary. As a mother of three young children, my house is full of so much stuff, but nothing means more to me than these gifts.

I tried to knit once, when I was on bed rest during my first pregnancy. With no other children to care for, the initial stress of bed rest soon morphed into a relaxing calm before the storm, except when my mother arrived with knitting needles and her “dollar yarn.” It was a cotton ball in mottled shades of green and white plucked from the clearance section at Michael’s. She kicked off the lesson by teaching me a basic stitch, slowly forming rows that would eventually become a washcloth. I hated it. The yarn was ugly, the craft was frustrating, and I had plenty of washcloths. I quickly tossed it aside and went back to reading my stack of books, convinced that bed rest was not the time to learn a new skill.

Over the years since becoming a mother, I have found a craft I love – writing. Some stories come together like a well-planned quilt; others, like Fun Fur, seem like a good idea in my head but unravel on paper. They are all worth the effort. I hope to pass my love of words and stories on to my children, to adopt as their own passion or to reject, to tease me about when they find it silly and to treasure when they learn the value of memories.  Someday, they will tuck away the quilts and samplers, replacing them with teenage posters and collages of friends. Someday they will choose their own hats and gloves, but for now I will cherish this moment.


Ruth Nichols: A Little-Known Story in Honor of Women’s History Month


Ruth Nichols with her plane, a Lockheed Vega, in 1931. Photo Credit: National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institute


Dear friends,

I wrote this article about a Rye native, Ruth Nichols, in honor of Women’s History Month. It is published on the Rye Historical Society’s blog, Rye Stories, but I thought I’d share it here, too. Ruth Nichols changed our world and demonstrated that women can accomplish incredible things. I hope you enjoy learning about Ruth Nichols as much as I have!



Ruth Nichols: Rye’s Aviatrix Flies High


Finding David Bowie

berliner-fernsehturm-reservierungI wrote this piece following a recent trip to Berlin and left it for a while, but when David Bowie died two weeks ago, I revisited it. I didn’t know David Bowie personally and he has many more dedicated fans than me, but I love his music and what he gave us. As an icon, he taught us that talent can permeate many art forms, from music to film and fashion. He showed us that beauty transcends gender lines, and that music tells many stories. Here is my David Bowie story. Hopefully some of you might put Berlin on your bucket list, too, and rediscover some part of history.

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Fly Away Home

IMG_3487Sometimes I have to travel halfway around the world to appreciate home. With three young kids, I feel like I live in a state of constant motion; moving, making and doing all day but not really producing much other than a couple of school lunches and a few changes to the to-do list. Sitting still is now a luxury.

I love my life with my children and my husband, Rich, but sometimes our lives look and feel completely out of sync. Rich longs for more time with the kids and fewer flights and meetings pulling him away. I see his passport with its crumpled, thick pages, filled with stamps from business meetings all around the world, and fight back the envy. Mine is crisp and clean, sitting in a box with other important documents that rarely see much use. I fantasize about a little more time to myself, even if it means sitting next to strangers, dealing with security and eating airline snacks. I would gladly fly to Milwaukee or Cleveland, two of Rich’s current destinations, for a few waking hours without hearing the word “MOM” echoing through the house.

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