Blue Water

Today kids in my little rural suburb and all over the county participated in walking out of their schools for 17 minutes to honor the lives lost in the Parkland, Fl. school shooting last month. I watched social media as adults debated about this for the past 48 hours. I couldn’t bring myself to read all the comments on the posts on our community Facebook forum “Let’s Talk <insert name of small town here>” though some I couldn’t escape. I read insults from adults; saying things like the march is political propaganda set up by adults and the kids are being used as political tools, among worse.

At best the adults who believe this are insinuating that kids of middle and high school age don’t have minds of their own. I don’t know about these other people but I sure had a strong mind of my own when I was a teenager. I pity them if they did not. If I felt a certain way and a parent or teacher told me otherwise, my will was not automatically bent to believe whatever they said. Are the adults complaining that the teens are being used and victimized the same people who would complain that their teenagers are stubborn, or won’t listen to them about other things (less important) such as what to wear, what sport to play, or who to hang out with?

These people are completely missing the point. How out of touch do you have to be to not understand why they want to do something big to stand up for their lives? While adults criticize on Facebook the kids are out there working. They are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

I have to be at the high school tomorrow night for a meeting. I wrote this note and will be folding it up and leaving it somewhere to be found by a student:


And here is a poem I wrote weeks ago about ongoing health issues at our local high school:

Blue Water

When the level of copper in water is too high,

It is called blue.

New pipes bring blue water to the high school.

It is unacceptable.

Not fit for human consumption.


Protective biofilm needs time to flourish.

Organic slime pulsing, glistening in the pipes,

Shielding H2O from Cu blue.

Writhing coating, defending the water from the very pipes

Through which it is designed to flow.


But the children cannot wait for this seasoning,

We must protect them now!

Protect them from the blue water,

Though it never hurt me or you in the slightest,

Never murdered us in our own high school.


When the guns are fired,

The adults cannot hear them,

But the kids do.

The sound travels school to school in a deadly game of telephone,

Heard through tin cans connected by string.


But, the blue water.

Blue water at the high school is unacceptable.





A Happy Little Post About Death Music*

I love lists, and I love making mix tapes. Therefore, I keep a list of songs that are to be played upon my death. It’s on my phone in the memo app, if needed. It’s right next to my long list of possible future pet names and the shorter list titled “ugly dudes that are actually hot.”

Super macabre? Whatever, we’re all heading there at some point, right? Too controlling? Maybe. But it will be up to someone else if the songs are played at my service or at the after-party.

I’ve thought of burning a few CDs, labeled with “do not play until I die”, and giving them to people I can torture beyond the grave.

Should I play this CD of mom’s death songs? It’s so sad I don’t want to listen to it; is that disrespectful? Will she haunt me? 


I have gone ahead and chosen the songs I want my loved ones to associate with me, or with death in general. I’ll be an earworm zombie. Most of the songs bring me to tears now, just thinking about my (hopefully far off) demise and how sad everyone else will be thinking about the songs after my death.

Some selections are meant to be funny, and I hope everyone gets that. My dark sense of humor doesn’t always translate. I get that from my mom. Come to think of it she would actually really dig this list, I suppose all the more if it wasn’t affiliated with her daughter’s future death.

I am procrastinating on writing a short story with a working title of The Eulogist. The eulogist is a woman who eulogizes people for a living, and one of the themes that keeps popping up is how much people (or –ahem, perhaps I) may want to control after their death, beyond their last wishes: what is said about them, what food is served at their service, who is allowed to attend, what people should wear, what music should play, etc.

All I care about is the music.

Here is a link to my death song playlist on Spotify and an incomplete sampling of my ever evolving list. If you have a song I should add to my list let me know in the comments.

Once in a Lifetime – Talking Heads

Dirt – Phish

Amazing Grace – ONLY the Rod Stewart version from Every Picture Tells a Story

I’ll Follow You Into the Dark – Death Cab for Cutie

So much Dawes: All Your Favorite Bands/A Little Bit of Everything/We’re All Gonna Die

So much Cat Stevens: The Wind/Trouble/Miles From Nowhere/If You Want to Sing Out

Lazarus – David Bowie (duh)

Just the piano part at the end of Layla by Derek and the Dominoes

My Sweet Lord – George Harrison

Home Sweet Home – Motley Crue

Knocking on Heaven’s Door – ONLY the Guns n’ Roses version from Use Your Illusion

[Straight to Your Heart] Like a Cannonball – Van Morrison


*I am not sick, nor actively dying (to my knowledge.) I just think about the big questions a lot. Plus, I recently turned 40. You know how it works.


Fact: The other day, confusing animal prints appeared on my front lawn. They were all over the small hill leading up to my house. I pictured something romping about and tossing its head in glee before walking up to my picture window and staring in to contemplate the life of my dog, inside and alone.

what is it.jpg

Fact: There are many random animals in our area. I felt pretty stupid not being able to identify the prints immediately, so I said nothing to anyone other than my kids. I showed them and they said (quite dismissively) “horse.”  Pshaw, even I know horses wear shoes that are shaped like, well, horseshoes.


Fact: Three days later my 10 year old neighbor announced to me, “my Dad saw a unicorn outside the other day.”

My ears immediately perked up. “Tell me more,” I commanded.

“Well, he said it looked kinda like a horse, but smaller, and it was white with brown spots. He said it was a unicorn.”

Fact: A freaking unicorn played in my yard, people. Magic is real.

rainbow prints.jpg

The Daily Post:Fact

Field Trip

My kindergartener is on his first field trip today. They are visiting the aquarium. He recently announced that he’s “really into fish” so I am happy for him.  However, I will spend the day vacillating between frustration and guilt regarding the chaperone situation.

When I was in second grade, my dad came on our field trip to the Museum of Science in Boston. I was thrilled about him getting a peek into my world, meeting my school friends and sharing that experience with me.  He bought me a gyroscope and a prism in the gift shop. It was a big deal and I knew that I was “lucky” enough to have my dad come because he was unemployed at the time.  Lost in these fond memories, I filled out the volunteer form to be a chaperone for this trip and sent it in immediately.

The VERY NEXT DAY the teacher emailed the parents of the class saying that so many parents had volunteered as chaperones that they couldn’t fit us on the bus. Therefore, if we still wanted to come we could drive our own cars behind the bus. This is where I lost interest. I am trying to get O to be more independent, and I was going to have to alter my work schedule to go anyway. I let this one go.

I know a bunch of parents of the kids in O’s class. They are all going on the field trip.  They’ve taken off work and lined up babysitters for their other kids (or just bringing siblings along).  They are driving their mini vans and SUVS behind the bus and attending the field trip with their children.

I’m trying not to judge the parents that are going; I wanted to be one of them. But, I wanted it to be special. In our school it is definitely NOT special that a parent is there. Because a parent is always there. Every day there is at least one parent volunteer in class. I have a friend who randomly stops in to say hi or see her kid at lunch. It’s nice that we live in a time and place that allows us to do all this, but is there a hidden cost to the kids? Are we as parents doing this type of thing for ourselves?

I think the parents that are going are doing so with the best of intentions:  because it will be a fun thing to do with their kids. Maybe it will be something that these kids write about on their future blog. Except, maybe not. If a parent is present for all the things, even the school things, are they still unique experiences? Or is it like taking a trip to the aquarium with your mom, but you happen to run into all your friends and your teacher? I don’t know. But I am viewing this as an opportunity for O to find out.


I recently read and am recommending the book Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy ( It gave me a lot to think about. You don’t have to get on board with everything in the book; I have not. But it is definitely an interesting read. While I probably wouldn’t put my 9 year old on public transportation in NYC like she did – noting that I do not live there and am not comfortable with it myself – I can let O go on a very supervised field trip with his class without my attendance.  I recommend this book for every parent; those that agree with my sentiments and those that do not. She has an interesting perspective and makes a lot of valid points. Not all of them were for me, but the book as a whole has really opened my eyes to the culture of invulnerability we are trying to surround our kids with.

So, how to explain all this to the five year old looking up at you with big brown eyes asking why you aren’t coming on the field trip because all his friend’s mommies are:  I don’t know the right answer. I do know that like so many times in this parenting game, I gave the wrong one.

Raging Gypsy Moth Caterpillar Infestation

Lend your sympathetic ear to me a moment while I tell you of the raging gypsy moth caterpillar infestation of 2017.

We thought we had it rough during the 2016 gypsy moth epidemic; but those were innocent, less pestilent, times. If I could turn back the clock knowing what I’ve learned from the caterpillar spring of ‘17, I would have doused the tall, ancient oaks that grow over our back deck in gasoline and burned them straight to the ground.

Living in Connecticut just doesn’t allow that many months in which we can take full advantage of all that comes with having a kick-ass back deck and lovely yard. May should be one of those months; yet I cannot grill my dinner. I have not enjoyed a cup of coffee at my bistro table while gazing at my garden. I will not be basking in solar lit evenings, enjoying a glass of wine with friends. Hell, I can’t even get out my back door without walking into a writhing web of black caterpillars hanging on long silk lines from the trees, the sills of my slider, the siding of my house. Those disgusting freaks are ruining things for me. “Ruining!” I shake my fist and yell up toward the lacey Swiss cheese leaves, as if they didn’t know.

piller-ed house
My house


When it first began there was hope. This year it’s rained a lot, they said. A fungus will grow that will kill them, they said. Jus pre-treat your trees, they said, it will only cost you $100 for the amount you need. I call shenanigans on all that.

In a defiant time, I sat on the deck anyway. It’s my deck, I thought while donning my protective hat, I’m not going to let some little caterpillars scare me away. I couldn’t eat out there because of the steady rain of caterpillar crap. But, I brought out a beverage, which I stashed under a low glass table so nothing could fall into it. I read my book and wiped the poop off the pages, pretending that the sound of caterpillars decimating the leaves overhead was something more pleasant, like wind, or very quiet waves.

If it is a dry day, the little black balls of caterpillar shit coating the deck are like slick ball bearings. I walk out in my flip flops only to have my legs go in two different directions as I slide around the wood, gracelessly windmilling my arms in the air yelling “woah, woah, woah” like a slapstick clown.  If the day is wet, the sticky caterpillar shit forms a thick, foamy layer that must be scraped from your soles like cement. The dog has it between her toes.

poop deck
poop deck

The caterpillars hang from everything, blocking my exits and boldly mocking me as I stare wistfully out the windows. I sometimes put the garden hose on the “jet” setting and blast them off the house and deck while screaming “yeeee-aaaaaah, suckas” I pretend I am spraying them with tiny bullets from my automatic ‘pillar killer. Over the weekend I recruited my children and their friends to target the buggers with their super soakers. No matter. They return, like the world’s most unwanted pizza delivery, in 30 minutes or less.

I’ve become the gypsy moth caterpillar police of the house; the equivalent of the crotchety old neighbor waiting by the window for a kid to run onto his lawn so he can yell. A few minutes ago I saw the fools breaching the sticky tree band barrier ringing the thick bark. Alone in the house, I yelled in a crazed pirate voice “they’re breaching the hold!” and suited up in muck boots, long raincoat with a tightly cinched hood, and up-to-the-elbow gloves. I applied another 13 oz. tub of petroleum jelly to the black tape. I pulled the caterpillars from the tree in handfuls and plunged them to their deaths into hot water mixed with dish soap – with pure joy. A month ago you would have found me cradling bugs to let them out of the house rather than stepping on them, or perhaps feeding a baby mouse with an eye dropper (both true stories). This caterpillar spring has changed me in ways that I never thought possible.

Even writing this, I imagine I feel them on me – in my hair, on my ankle, making way up my sleeve. I know this only psychological, but, wait, what the? Nope, not a caterpillar crawling up my leg. It’s just a tick.


Fear. And Sue Klebold’s book.

Today I am heartsick, sad, disgusted, outraged and curious. With the violent events that happened in the past few days all I can feel around me is fear. My own, but also the amplified collective fear. It’s ratcheted up to a deafening level. I think fear is the problem and anger, rage and violence are symptoms. Who am I to say this? No one with a credential; just a feeling. If you are afraid that someone is going to shoot you, you would shoot them first. If you do not understand someone’s motives, it is easy to be afraid of them. How did we get here? It all feels broken.

While the events of the past few days have been happening I’ve simultaneously been reading a book called A Mother’s Reckoning, Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy. This book was written by Sue Klebold, mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the murderers involved in the Columbine school shooting. I haven’t slept since I started this terrifying book, and finished it just a few minutes ago. While written about her specific, very isolating experience, I found so much of it to be applicable to what is happening today. Gun violence, ignorance of mental health issues, hidden agendas, gun violence, media circuses, guns. And violence.

I have vivid memory of driving on I-84 West in West Hartford, CT on April 20, 1999, and hearing that there were kids – kids! –  shooting other kids in a high school in Colorado. I ached. I cried. I was appalled and disbelieving as so many others at the time. Seventeen years from now, I’m sure that I will have no recollection of what was going on at the time I learned of Alton Sterling’s death, or the death of five Dallas Police Officers.  Why? Because now it is commonplace; expected even. Now this is part of the American experience.

While I have not yet fully processed Klebold’s book, there was something I just read that struck me as true, bold, and useful today. Close to the end of the book she writes “When tragedies like Columbine or Virginia Tech or Sandy Hook happen, the first question everyone asks is always ‘Why?’ Perhaps this is the wrong question. I have come to believe the better question is ‘How?’”  I agree. I think you could take out the school names and insert “Dallas” or “black men dying in gun violence at a tragic rate” and the passage still fits.  How did we get to a place where this is our new normal?

This book was truly heartbreaking and has given me fodder for nightmares and worry for at least the next twenty years. What saddens me most at this very moment is that she has laid her story bare, she has shared what she could, she has worked to do positive things in the areas of mental health (or “brain health” as she rightfully calls it), suicide prevention, and more.  And, yet these things persist. Events like those in the past 48 hours make me feel like Klebold and others in the world are pushing a boulder up a hill endlessly. We all need to help.

Klebold states later, “Asking ‘why’ only makes us feel hopeless. Asking ‘how’ points the way forward, and shows us what we must do.” I emailed a Board of Education member in my town today to ask about whether our school system has a curriculum of any sort regarding conflict resolution. She invited me to call her later to chat, and I will.  What do I know about curricula, or even conflict resolution? Nada. But I want to, and I want to know what steps we can take to help our children move away from this climate of fear. This is the tiniest of movements, but it is a movement.

I am making a personal promise to move only forward with love and empathy. I am still figuring out what that means, but that will not stop me. Please if you are reading this, please consider doing something today and every day– anything – to counteract the fear, violence and hate that is so palpable. And I mean anything. Choose to be kinder. Do someone a favor with your child watching. Talk to your kids about violence and racism. It is scary. It is not easy. It has to be done.

Chipmunks, flapping

Friends: don’t you just hate when you finally pour yourself a glass of wine after a long day, sit down for a nice sip and then boom – carnage? I know I do. Recently I was forced to answer some hard questions regarding the soul of a chipmunk as well as the strength of my character and I did not like it, not one bit.

My fluffernutter of a pooch had mistaken a chipmunk for her tennis ball, or perhaps a tiny remote control vehicle (I can’t be the only one that thinks they look like little RC cars racing around with their tails sticking up like they do).  I had quite the gut reaction of swear-screaming – sweaming, if you will – and banging violently on the window until fluffbutt realized her mistake and placed the chip back on the ground.

jedi chips
How could she resist playing?  Also please watch this video because it’s awesome.

I knew I had to get to that very still rodent before one of my precious angels stumbled upon it and tried to skin it for its pelt.  But a terrible thought entered my mind: what if it was not all the way dead but merely very badly injured, seizing and foaming at the mouth? If so I would have to end its misery. With what? A shovel, the broken-off end of my wine glass, what?! I settled on bringing it to the driveway and running it over with the car if need be. Effective, yet indirect.  I am a lady who hasn’t intentionally killed any living being in probably 15 years and did not want to start.*

Well, let me tell you how simultaneously relieved and horrified I was to find that the little guy was all the way dead. I had almost brought shame upon my name with cowardice in the face of a mercy killing, AND realized that I have a dog that apparently kills innocent chipmunks. I put the body in the bin part of the poop scoop, took a step toward the woods and tossed.

That little sucker flew about three feet and then got caught up in a low, leafless branch of a bush. He was draped over the branch much like a washcloth draped over a clothesline to dry.  The chipmunk was actually flapping in the wind at me; just hanging around, blowin’ in the wind.

Because I sensibly threw him in the same direction that I throw a large amount of dog crap, I couldn’t just step into the woods in my flip flops and knock him off the branch. I was reduced to teetering on the rock wall, stretching my arm holding the scoop thingy as far as I could and trying to untangle the dangling chip from the branch while sweaming voraciously. After a full minute he fell down into a large pile of excrement, arms and legs splayed out in all directions; lifeless eyes staring directly at me.

All in all, my dog and I were both to blame. For even though she caused the death I disrespected the body and revealed one of the myriad ways my inner weakness rules me. I also blame Fisher Price for making the adorable Woodseys part of my childhood, therefore giving chipmunks a soft spot for all eternity (yes I still have the book and read it to my kids).

Anthropomorphized for 80’s kids


*Ok, ok, I kill ants, flies and ticks. Ants, flies and ticks can go f*@k themselves.