I don’t like change. I want things to stay the same forever and ever amen. For the most part, anyway.

Once, at our house in town, our neighbor came over and asked about cutting down some trees that were on our property. The previous owner had planted these little pines that grew into big pines whose branches brushed against our neighbor’s house. He had a legitimate reason to cut down the trees.

Of course, we gave him permission.

But when the day came and he was out there removing all the branches so the trunks looked like ugly blemished brown sticks in the ground, I started crying. It took everything within me not to run out and beg him to stop.

In fact, I may have done that. Pleading pregnancy. You know, “Please don’t cut any more trees down because I’m pregnant and emotional and I can’t take it”, or something along those lines.

My husband came home from work to help me calm down.

Pregnancy was simply my excuse. The real reason was that I hate change.

Tall trees have that effect on me.

We took a sad picture last year when we traded in our beloved Honda Odyssey. Good cars have that effect.

One time, after a wonderful vacation in Myrtle Beach, when it was time to leave, our oldest son spent the morning looking like he had lost his best friend. Good vacations have that effect.

WordPress is discontinuing their weekly photo challenges and their daily prompts.

I’ve leaned heavily them, looking for inspiration or ways to connect with other bloggers.

Frankly, I don’t want them to stop.

I feel a little like this:

Or this:

But I tell myself not to despair, this will pass, and no doubt more quickly than it should.  (Mr. Bennett in Pride & Prejudice)

For their final photo challenge, they asked for all-time favorites.

For some reason, all I could find were sad ones.




One day
I found myself
Staring at the clear blue water
Of the pool
And marveling at the fact
That I could not see
A single drop

All that liquid
In front of me
And my eyes could not distinguish
One single drop —
Just water
En masse

So I did some calculations
Using my phone
And my head (only a little) —

I thought,
This pool is 25 yards long.
There are 3 feet in every yard.
Therefore, the pool is 75 feet long.

I figured,
I don’t know the width of each lane
But I know from swimming rules that
Each lane must be at least 7 feet across.
We have 8 lanes
So this pool is approximately 56 feet wide.

And I further reasoned,
The depth of the pool varies.
In the shallow end, it’s 4 feet deep,
And in the deep end it’s 8 feet,
But I’ll use 4 feet —
Just to be conservative.

So, I multiplied 75 x 56 x 4
To arrive at the number that
Minimally expresses the volume,
The number of cubic feet in the pool.

That’s 36,000 cubic feet of water —
Although I know there’s really more
Because of the way the depth changes.

Then, I looked up
How many drops of water
Make up one cubic foot:

So a conservative guess
At the number of drops of water
In that one swimming pool

36,000 x 566,336.93 =

Let’s just call it 20 billion drops

And I still can’t see a single one.

Out of curiosity,
I looked up the population
Of the world

According to
The most recent United Nations estimates
In May 2018
There are 7.6 billion people in the world

If people were drops of water
My pool would be little more than 1/3 full

The pool at 5:15 AM

It made me feel small
And large
All at the same time
And I’m not sure why

A to Z Blogging Challenge · About My Dad · family

S is for Siblings (a pictorial essay)

First there was my father —

Ocean Grove, 1930

Actually, before my father, there was Janice Aline, a daughter who lived only a day. Little over a year later, my father was born.

Then his brother, Stewart, came along.

I showed my father the picture today and asked him to identify the person.

“That’s my brother, Stewart. He’s really smart!”

He went on to become a Supreme Court Justice in the state of New Jersey.

Next came Polly — except that wasn’t her name at first. Her given name was an old family name and she changed it to Polly.

Isn’t she cute?
I remember as a little girl thinking she was the most beautiful, most glamorous person in the whole world.

When I found out that she traveled to Yugoslavia in 1960 and worked on a road crew for the summer, she became even more legendary in my eyes.

Stewart, my father, their mother, Polly


Family portrait
Back row: Stewart, Polly, my father
Middle row: Penny (Stewart’s wife), my grandmother, my grandfather, my mother
Front row (and laps): my cousin Wendy, my sister Donabeth, my brother Stewart, my brother Peter
Back row: My father, my mother, Polly, Penny, Stewart (my father’s brother)
Middle row: Stewart (my brother), Peter, Donabeth, my grandmother, my grandfather, Wendy, Stewart (my cousin)
Front row: Me and my cousin Jeff
Everyone… my grandparents; my father and mother, his siblings, and their spouses; all my siblings and all my cousins


Siblings — summer of 2016

As Brad Paisley sang, “All because two people fell in love.”


A to Z Blogging Challenge · About My Dad

R is for Red Sox

When my father was in the Emergency Room the other day, I knew he was missing the Red Sox game so I brought it up on my phone. Through the Red Sox website, we couldn’t watch the game, but we could get details of what was happening.

I read it off as best I could. “Okay, Dad. Machado is batting for Baltimore. Sales threw a slider. It went low and inside for a ball.”

At first, he said, “How do you know all that?” and I would show him the tiny words on the screen.

Later in the game. “Okay, next pitch — a swinging strike for Santander,” I said.

“Who’s Santander?” Dad asked.

“Baltimore’s right fielder,” I said.

“Oh, okay,” he said, and closed his eyes while he laid back on the bed.

Still later. “Sales threw a fastball and –”

My father interrupted me. “You’ve got to make it sound exciting! Put some enthusiasm in your voice!”

I told him I would try, but I was tired and didn’t. A radio announcer I am not.

I’m sure he listened to many baseball games on the radio when he was a boy. I know that he and his brother sometimes took the train into the city to watch the Brooklyn Dodgers play. Once, when they were riding the train, they saw Mel Ott, a well-known NY Giants player. He was wearing a suit and trying to keep a low profile. When my uncle went over to ask for his autograph, Mel Ott carefully looked this way and that to make sure nobody else would notice, then signed as surreptitiously as possible. My father laughs whenever he tells the story, imitating the expression on Mel Ott’s face and the way he looked around him.

When the Dodgers moved to the west coast, my father had to choose another team and opted for the Red Sox.

His two baseball heroes represent those two teams — Jackie Robinson from the Brooklyn Dodgers and Ted Williams from the Red Sox.

“How’s your father doing?” someone asked me the other day. “He must be happy with the way the Red Sox season has started.”

They ARE doing well. From the Red Sox website:

The Red Sox are just the seventh team in the modern era (since 1900) to win at least 16 of their first 18 games. They are the first to do it since the 1987 Brewers. Of the four previous teams, two won the World Series — the 1984 Tigers and the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers.

“Yes, I think he’s happy,” I replied. “He’s a pretty avid fan.”

“Avid? AVID?” the man said. “I think you mean RABID.”

Avid. Rabid. You get the picture.

He and my mother used to make pilgrimages to Fenway in the summer.

I remember going with them as a child. I don’t remember the baseball game, but I remember waiting afterwards in a long line to eat at a restaurant call Durgin Park.  The line went up a flight of steep narrow stairs. At the top I leaned in to see how much longer we would have to wait and a waitress picked me up to move me out of the way.

My mother and father had eaten there years before. From their scrapbook:

Durgin Park 1954?
Durgin Park menu

One summer my parents took my oldest sons with them to Fenway. The only thing the boys ever told me about that game is how the dugouts emptied for some brawls.

Philip, Sam, Owen, and my mom before the Red Sox game

When my father retired in 1999, someone wrote a song for him called “Amazing Don.” One verse, undoubtedly written by a Yankee fan, addressed his love for the Red Sox —

The cards from his recent party also reflect his love for the team —I could go on and on —

Mom and Luis Tiant
Lego man
Johnny Damon
Scrapbook program
Books (a mere tip of the iceberg)

Not to mention bobbleheads, t-shirts, sweatshirts, caps, pins, you name it.

Somewhere upstairs is the 1967 “Red Sox Impossible Dream” vinyl album. Somewhere in my treasures is a Carl Yastrzemski pin from that same year.

The photo challenge word of the week is “prolific.” This is more an abundance.

And abundance that comes from decades of cheering on a team through thick and thin.

Authentic fandom.

He still fist-pumps when they score a run or make a good play.

Even in the emergency room with an unenthusiastic announcer telling him about it.

Faith · photography · Uncategorized

A Little Bit of Narnia

March 28, 2018

Yesterday’s sunrise was pink and blue.

March 27, 2018

The day before it was orange and yellow.

March 1, 2018

I take so many pictures of the sunrise. I’ll be at the pool and one the ladies swimming will say, “Ooh! Sally! Get your camera!” I’ll grab my phone and step out the door into the cold for yet another sunrise photo.

February 23, 2018

It never grows old.

February 19, 2018

Here’s one of my favorites, looking in a slightly different direction:

December 4, 2017

I’m reading excerpts of Lamentations for Holy Week. Feeling the sadness of the Jewish people as they lament the destruction of Jerusalem sets the tone for the sadness Christians should feel as we approach Good Friday. I love the way C. S. Lewis,  in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, described Aslan walking to the Stone Table

…one of the girls walked on each side of the Lion. But how slowly he walked! And his great, royal head drooped so that his nose nearly touched the grass. Presently he stumbled and gave a low moan.

“Aslan! Dear Aslan!” said Lucy, “what is wrong? Can’t you tell us?”

“Are you ill, dear Aslan?” asked Susan.

“No,” said Aslan. “I am sad and lonely. Lay your hands on my mane so that I can feel you are there and let us walk like that.”

And the girls did what they would never have dared to do without his permission but what they had longed to do ever since they first saw him — buried their cold hands in the beautiful sea of fur, and stroked it and, so doing, walked with him.

That part of the story is almost unbearable to me. Because even if I picture burying my cold hands in his mane, I know that soon the lion will be gone and my hands will be colder than before. It’s an awful feeling.

But Lamentations 3 holds one of my favorite passages — and arriving at it is like arriving at Easter morning.

21 But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

Every sunrise holds that promise for me. His mercies are new every morning. In Narnia —

There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane… stood Aslan himself.

The Narnian lampposts that line the driveways and parking lots at the pool extinguish themselves one by one every morning and I am left with a glorious sun. Even on the grayest days, I know it’s there — and it brings me hope.



Not My Favorite Place

“What happened to your hand?” my friend Kate asked.

I was reclining in a chair at one of my not-favorite places

Kate’s office
At the dentist
Tools of torture

What she asked about had happened at a new not-favorite place — the GI Lab.

It was a week of taking care of myself.

On Tuesday I had my first colonoscopy. After talking my way out of it for eight years, I finally lost my bargaining power and had to go.

Waiting at the GI Lab

The nurse chided me. “You should have come years ago,” she said.

I shrugged. I mean, really, what did she want me to say? I was there.

But, when she tried to put the IV in the back of my hand, she blew my vein.

Helen picked me up after the procedure (she was my designated driver) and I showed her my bruised hand.

“Just imagine that your daughter could have done that,” she said, and I understood her to say that every nurse has those moments when IVs don’t go perfectly. A little grace was in order. Thinking about that didn’t make my hand hurt less, but it made me complain a little less about it.

The bad part of a colonoscopy isn’t the IV, though. It’s the prep. It’s the low fiber diet followed by the clear liquid diet followed by the nothing diet. It’s the Miralax and the Dulcolax and the everything-else-lax. I found myself thinking about the scripture that talked about the less honorable parts of the body. (from 1 Corinthians 12)

On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honourable we bestow the greater honour, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honour to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.

I can tell you, from my colonoscopy prep, that when one part of the body suffers, the whole body really does suffer.

On Wednesday morning, when I drank my first cup of coffee in days, I rejoiced. It’s also true — when one part of the body rejoices, the whole body rejoices.

On Thursday, I went to the dentist. I do this every 6-8 years, whether I need it or not. I love my dentist. I just hate sitting in a chair feeling and hearing the scraping of metal against my teeth.

My not-favorite places. And two of them in one week!

Of course, I go to one of my favorite places every morning.

The pool at 5:15 AM

It’s beautiful to watch the sun reflect off the water.

Sun dance

Soon, when spring arrives, I’ll be able to visit another favorite place —

The stone bridge
Going over the stone bridge

And if winter drags on, I have this favorite place –

Sitting by the fire in the family room

Plus the really, really good news is that I don’t have to go for another colonoscopy for 10 years.

And I don’t have to return to the dentist immediately because I had no cavities.  Of course, she’d like to see me every year, but I think I can stretch it out a little longer.


family · photography · poetry

Today Is Good

I’d rather be right where I am today
Yes, I would
Yes, I would
Today is good

I’d rather keep in step with time than stay
Yes, I would
As I should
Today is good

Sometimes my heart begins to stray
To other times, to other days

My memories may not obey
This need to stay
Here in today

The day will come when I will say good-bye

Yes, it will
A moment still
And so until

I’ll lean into the sadness and I’ll sigh,
This is good —
For I have stood
Right where I should

Sometimes my heart begins to stray
To other times, to other days
My memories may not obey
This need to stay
Here in today
Here in today

My first thought when I saw the photo challenge was Simon & Garfunkel’s El Condor Pasa. 

My second thought was wishing to go back in time to when my children were young and my parents were both still alive. I quickly realized that wasn’t a healthy road for me to go down.

So I ditched Paul Simon’s sparrows, snails, hammers, and nails, and wrote this about my need to stay in the moment.

dementia · family

God Bless the Moon

Every morning I go downstairs and sigh when I see the tray table beside my father’s chair. It’s a mess.

I tidy it — but I know my organization will erode to disorder by evening.

The problem these days is that he has taken to playing the boombox my brother got him last year. My father doesn’t understand the difference between a DVD and a CD, or, for that matter, between the radio setting on the boombox and the CD setting. He needs help, but often won’t ask for it. The CDs and their empty cases cover his tray table.

Whenever he puts a CD called “Scottish Tranquility” in, we have this conversation.

Dad: This music is so mournful.

Me: It’s supposed to be peaceful.

Dad: There are no words!

Me: It’s instrumental.

Dad: I understand that, but where are the words?

Me: Instrumental means it’s just the instruments.

Dad (pointing to the CD case): But it lists the names of the songs.

Me: Yes, the songs still have names.

Dad:  This music could put you to sleep.

Me: That’s why it’s called Scottish Tranquility.

Dad: Can you put something else on? This is terrible.

It really isn’t terrible. It’s soothing and quiet, just what my soul needs.

This morning, at 4:30 AM when I got up for work, I looked at the mess on his table. Open books, half-done crossword puzzles, CDs, and empty cases.

“Why is everything always out of place?” I said out loud, frustrated, longing for that Scottish Tranquility.

Half an hour later, when I walked outside, I was pleased to see the moon in its proper place. It silhouetted the barn and reflected off the road. A restart to a messy day.

Something about that sight gave me peace.

The moon is always right where it should be.

The other night it was peeping through the trees.

Sometimes it’s out in the daytime.

I’ve seen it from an airplane.

And it was gorgeous in Bosnia.

photo by Nicole Flohr

I can’t count on the moon to be in the same place every night.

But it will never be misplaced.

It may not be as reliable as the sun — rising in the east, setting in the west — but it’s there.

All I have to do is look.

Ah, the Sea of Tranquility.

family · photography · Travel


Our trip to France was sweet.

I’m not talking about the food, which, of course, was amazing.

My food pictures leave something to be desired — not the food, my pictures.

Like this dessert — I don’t remember what it was, but it was delicious.

Or these crepes — which looked so wonderful that I started to eat them and then remembered to take a picture.

I took a picture of these meringues on Day 1 because I had never seen such large meringues. The patisserie was closed but I wanted to remember to buy some later. Unfortunately I forgot.

This pastry with apricots was really good but I can’t remember the name.

The sweetest thing about that pastry, though, was that my siblings and I sat outside on a bench to enjoy our selections from the patisserie together. We talked and enjoyed the morning sun before heading back to our hotel.

For years, I had heard my father say that he really wanted to see the beaches of Normandy — so we made it happen.

He probably doesn’t remember the trip today — at least not without the aid of the photo book we put together.

But we remember.

For one week last May, we fulfilled one of my father’s dreams — and had a good time doing it.

That’s the sweetest part.