Crabbing in the Chesapeake Bay


November 14, 2 PM, Southeast Anchor Library, Auditorium 3601 Eastern Avenue Baltimore, MD 21224

Baltimore friends and family–Please join me at this event featuring Baltimore author Rafael Alvarez, where I will be reading one of my poems that is part of the chapbook, Callinectes Sapidus (ed. Rafael Alvarez) and telling a story,  Moth-style, about my father’s bar in Highlandtown!

Southeast Anchor Library, Auditorium 3601 Eastern Avenue Baltimore, MD 21224

Baltimore screenwriter and author Rafael Alvarez reads an essay about the current state of crabbing in the Chesapeake Bay from a chapbook supported by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Pratt Library.

Free chapbooks — which include a discussion of the 1977 Pulitzer Prize-winning book Beautiful Swimmers — will be available to all who attend.

Committing to Memory

images-3By the time I was in elementary school in Baltimore, the old, early twentieth century method of instruction, memorization and recitation in class, had been replaced by a more kid-friendly approach that combined reading, class discussion, writing answers, and even doing projects connected with our studies, whether they were in science, geography, history, arithmetic, literature, or the arts. Continue reading “Committing to Memory”

Blood Moon at Sheehan School Field

images-2 Continue reading “Blood Moon at Sheehan School Field”

New poems:”Talking Back to the Ancestors,” “Pink Sky” & “Gun Stories”

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 11.36.21 AMPublishing poetry–-work that, one hopes,  is read by non-poets and poets alike–- has become far easier since the advent of the Internet, the World Wide Web, and the profusion of online journals as well as traditional print journals (or publications that do both) whose editorial staffs use online submissions managers and allow simultaneous submissions.  There is a relatively fast turnaround between submission and acceptance or declining. If you write poetry, send out your work! Continue reading “New poems:”Talking Back to the Ancestors,” “Pink Sky” & “Gun Stories””

Summer’s End 2015: Winding Down? Or Un-winding?

IMG_2101 Continue reading “Summer’s End 2015: Winding Down? Or Un-winding?”

Fran, With Eyelash Curler

7eb112d12f4847ba5e564884744bb5e2 Continue reading “Fran, With Eyelash Curler”

“The Dying” –Check out the Irish Literary Review Poetry section for my newly published poem…

Read “The Dying” here.

The Irish Literary REview, September 2015
The Irish Literary Review, September 2015

The Mini-Triathlon for Aging Boomers

IMG_2771 Continue reading “The Mini-Triathlon for Aging Boomers”

Music and Poetry: a Complicated Combination …


Kathy KirbyThe Song Is, an   online music and poetry journal,  has just   published three of my poems that center on music and emotion–Diva (republished from Foliate Oak),  I Can’t Get No,  and Harp Music.  Click here to read them.



Reflections : Mercy High Baltimore

I’ve been playing around with various poetic forms, and since a high school reunion is coming up in October, it seemed appropriate  to attempt a Shakespearean sonnet, complete with a volta starting a line 8.  A challenge.

It happened almost by chance, my route to where
my life path loomed before me, stretching long.
I hardly knew why I’d sought a place here,
I only knew I wanted to belong—

To something greater than myself, to learn, to grow
To question life’s deep mysteries, be led
By teachers, learned, wise, compassionate, so
Young, but strong, I honored all they said.

Yet as I grew, I challenged their ideals
Began to reject portions of their creed,
Rebelled against authority, appeals
To listen, to obey, conform, and lead.

But these seasons of crisis, laughter, tears
I’d not trade for a fortune–these four years.

Ode to Our First Tomato of the Season






Up here in New England, our weather’s not hot

So one ripe tomato is all that we’ve got.

We’ll slice it and give it an arugula bed,

A salad of deep green with one speck of red.

It’s mid-August now, and we promise, no  gripin’,

But let’s hope that the rest, all the  green ones will ripen.


Dry Days in the Garden

imgresWhile the Cape Cod garden has been benefitting from daily watering by means of the irrigation hoses in the vegetable patch and hand watering for the flowers and herbs in terra cotta pots, the home garden has been enduring days without a steady rain. The perennials are putting up a brave front, but the hostas look bedraggled, with yellow or brown leaves appearing around the edges. The day lilies’ leaves are yellowing or browning as well, and the monarda leaves droop– and their blooms don’t last very long. Continue reading “Dry Days in the Garden”

“The Dying” in The Irish Review…

Look for my poem, “The Dying,” in The Irish Review, forthcoming.irrev

Cefalu, Prosecco and the Tyrrhenian Blue Sea

IMG_2592Sun hot on our backs, we strolled up  from Isnello— Continue reading “Cefalu, Prosecco and the Tyrrhenian Blue Sea”

Day 6: Espresso and Street Life in the Comune di Isnello, Sicily

IMG_2565We rise early to start our last day of the walk from Enna to the sea, after a quick breakfast at our Madonie ski lodge. The silent man in the light grey suit–the lodge owner? manager? kitchen boss?–appears once again, pacing along the far wall of the dining room, hands clasped behind his back, overseeing every detail, as he has for both our dinners and breakfasts. We have our suitcases ready  at the top of the stairs by  7:45 a.m. for Martina to pack them in the van. Continue reading “Day 6: Espresso and Street Life in the Comune di Isnello, Sicily”

Ticket to Ride

images Continue reading “Ticket to Ride”

Day Four in Sicily: A Walk Through the Misty Madonie

IMG_2563 Continue reading “Day Four in Sicily: A Walk Through the Misty Madonie”

Goats and Wild Peonies and Gorse, Oh My! Walking the Madonie Mountains

Continue reading “Goats and Wild Peonies and Gorse, Oh My! Walking the Madonie Mountains”

Sperlinga’s Man — and Woman — Caves

Continue reading “Sperlinga’s Man — and Woman — Caves”

Sicily from the Center to the Sea, Day Three: Commune Di Gangi and Sperlinga

Gangi, from the road below
Gangi, from the road below

Continue reading “Sicily from the Center to the Sea, Day Three: Commune Di Gangi and Sperlinga”

Sicilia, Walking from the Centre to the Sea. Day One: Enna to Gangi

Cathedral doors at Enna
Cathedral doors at Enna

Continue reading “Sicilia, Walking from the Centre to the Sea. Day One: Enna to Gangi”

Long Before I Went to Sicily…

images-1 Continue reading “Long Before I Went to Sicily…”

My poem, “Patissiere,” won an Honorable Mention in …

Continue reading “My poem, “Patissiere,” won an Honorable Mention in …”

May 17 in the Garden: Defining the Edges as I Consult the Genius of the Place

IMG_2441 Continue reading “May 17 in the Garden: Defining the Edges as I Consult the Genius of the Place”

May 2 in the Garden: What I Did When I Should Have Been Reading Student Papers

Continue reading “May 2 in the Garden: What I Did When I Should Have Been Reading Student Papers”

Three Poems: “Diva,” “Preparations,” and “Judgment”

Three of my poems  about the “Sixties, just published in Foliate Oak Literary mag–“Preparations,’ “Judgment” and “Diva” –in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine.




Tree Cutting: Evicting the Black Locust

It’s been a long day of transplanting monarda I brought from my old community garden plot, picking up small stray branches, and replanting three dozen day lilies that were uprooted when the Bobcat, driven by George, our landscaping guy, pulled up one of three black locust trees, these strange undesirables that send out roots and runners  from the front of the property to the house. I’ve heard that black locust roots can penetrate a home’s foundation to do their magic, or their damage. Three of these towering invasives provided almost no shade but dropped ugly pods into the gardens and  shot out roots—and seedlings—in all directions. And those roots have the oddest, most unpleasant odor. In between stints digging, removing sand, adding compost to the  sandy holes and planting the bee balm and the uprooted lilies, I returned to the cottage and read first drafts  of  my students’ research essays.

It was more satisfying to transplant the monarda and the daylilies.

After a long drive home, and a tasty skillet meal of leftover bowtie pasta, mushrooms, a handful of frozen peas we almost forgot about, and some red pepper, it’s time for two ibuprofen and a hot shower. The final episode of The Americans is on at 10.

George was still handily picking up logs and brush with the Bobcat, when my Prius and I pulled out of the rocky driveway and headed towards Boston. The garden is starting to come alive, and without the black locusts.

The winter now seems very long ago, and I say, on with the spring.

“This is About Letting Go” in UK Yoga Magazine, April 2015

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Spring, Now and Then



A friend asked me to send her a photo of the first robin I saw this spring. But the robins have been back for quite awhile, poking their beaks through the slowly melting mountains of snow, now hills of the stuff. Walking towards one of the oldest buildings on campus yesterday, as I climbed up the 40 slate steps to the door, I glanced back and saw a robin. No, two. No, there were three and as I stopped and watched them for awhile, I counted seven. I haven’t yet graduated to a smartphone, so I had no way to snap a picture of them, an extended family of robins.

The white crocuses outnumber the yellow ones emerging in our small front garden, by ten to one. The fingerling potatoes were more sprout than tuber after a week in the pantry. The thermometer says 35, but the sun is strong, and the landscaping trucks have emerged in suburban neighborhoods. Red Sox opening day is around the corner. It won’t be long before students will be lying out on the grass reading, talking, or just wool gathering.

On days like this, when I was an undergraduate, people would gather at the Sundial, in the center of the Columbia campus, for a rousing speech by an antiwar activist, or the reading of poetry by the likes of Allen Ginsberg or Kenneth Koch.  By late April of my junior year, students would take over Low Library, the administration building, and then march to Morningside Park to protest the new gym about to be constructed on a popular neighborhood playground. From there, more campus buildings were occupied, and we were all caught up in the political drama, whether activists, fellow travelers or observers. We thought the whole world was watching, and perhaps it was, if only briefly, before people turned back to their spring duties, picking up fallen branches, cigarette butts, and discarded candy wrappers from the parking strip.


In print and online in Grey Sparrow Journal, Spring 2015!

You can find my work here.

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Primavera, una fatina: Vernal Equinox Blues, 2015


Spring break for my college began three days ago. In this part of the world, the vernal equinox officially happened yesterday at 6:45 PM. Last night, another inch of snow, perhaps more, fell, freshening up the grey ragged piles of the stuff left over from February’s blizzards. Daffodils’ green shoots have appeared in the small garden that runs along the cement retaining wall in front of the house. The tall Norway pines branches are dusted with white–again.

One of our snow shovels is stuck fast in an ice pile on the deck. Leggy rose bushes, buddleia and spirea are calling me to prune their splayed branches. I have no idea where I’ve stashed my pruning shears, and one of my work gloves is missing. Black plastic trash bags stuffed with miscanthus clippings last November are still buried under the snow, around the back of the house near the arbor vitae. I see the yellow plastic drawstrings peeking out from the snow pile. If the snow ever melts, I will transfer the detritus from plastic to paper bags and put them out on the curb for the recycling truck.

Five or six large dry branches fell during the winter’s storms, so when the snow melts, we’ll make a burn pile and secure a permit to have a little fire before the rock garden comes alive with perennials. We’ll rake up the accumulated piles of sunflower hulls and scat under the bird feeder.

Today we’re feeling trapped inside, reading the news of two ongoing trials in Boston, pondering why our hockey team has been faring so poorly of late–and looking forward to attending a Red Sox home game in April. Today might look and feel like winter, but we’re more than ready to store our wool caps and gloves, and retrieve our baseballs caps from the back of the closet.

A memory from many years ago leaps to mind, a sunny Tuesday afternoon at Mrs. Clement’s kitchen table. It was a warm Baltimore spring. Our Italian grammar books and literature readers were spread out on the table next to half-cups of tea and a large plate that was nearly empty of cookies. On Tuesdays we had Italian lessons after school, and our homework for that day was to memorize a poem, Primavera. One by one, each of us four recited the lines, stumbling here and there. Mrs. Clement gently corrected us, helping us through the exercise. Primavera, una fatina

And now, I think to myself, Primavera, dove sei?

This week’s publications!

Three of my poems, “Diva,” ” Preparations,” and “Judgment,” have been accepted for publication in the May 2015 issue of the University of Arkansas’ Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, 



At 6:30 a.m. on a snowy Thursday, BWI is already buzzing and the security lines are long. A young woman in turquoise sneakers with bright pink laces and a white down coat is right behind me in line. She jostles me as I’m tossing my belongings into three gray bins. I quickly stash my gear: my laptop, out of its case, my toiletries in their quart-sized Ziploc bag, my tiny handbag, and my jacket. I’m not moving fast enough for Ms. Turquoise Sneakers, and she starts to reach around in front of me, swinging her single plastic bin, but I quickly close the gap. I shoot out mental darts at her, warnings that say “Don’t mess with me, girlfriend.” She backs off about four inches and I nudge the bins down the metal table to the rollers, then push the first bin onto the conveyor belt and watch it all disappear into the x-ray machine.

I step quickly into  to the X-ray body scanner. I hold my arms over my head. My feet are firmly placed within the painted yellow lines on the rubber pad. I pretend to be George Clooney in “Up in the Air,” intent on speeding through the screening process.

This has been the airport drill since 9/11. I remember what it was like before, when I ran into the airport 10 minutes before my flight, jogged to the gate, and breathless, handed over my ticket—a real paper ticket purchased from a travel agent and sent to me through the U.S. mail. All seats on every flight were reserved. There were always window seats available. Dinner was served, or a sandwich, if it was a short flight. I paid cash for a glass of wine or a cocktail, two or three bucks at most. There were no laptops, no mobile phones. Smokers sat back and lit up cigarettes, exhaling smoke that traveled up and down the aisle. Passengers pored over newspapers or read paperback novels. The flight attendants— model-thin, under thirty, all dolled up in short skirts and full makeup— we called stewardesses, and males in that position were so rare that nobody bothered to call them much of anything.

There were cheap student fares on the New York-Boston or Boston-BWI shuttles, $25 each way, easily affordable even on a student’s budget. No reservations, standby for the cheap fares, and there always seemed to be one seat left, so I never planned my trips far in advance. Either I got on, or I waited for the next shuttle. With a novel to read, or a journal to scribble in, I had plenty of time to hang out at the airport. Long distance calls were expensive, so I would wait until I reached my destination to call a friend from a payphone. If my friend didn’t pick up, I called another one, until I found someone willing to fetch me from the airport.

There were small adventures along the way. When flights were delayed, I might hang out and meet a potential romantic partner. I might finish reading a novel, or The New York Times, all four sections, every column. I might write—using a pen and paper!— a sonnet or a four-page letter to a faraway friend reporting on school, job, roommates, and social life. Days and weeks might pass before I heard back from the letter’s recipient. And in the time between the posting of the letter and the response, there was time to wonder, imagine, fantasize, explore the possibilities. Did she sleep with that married guy from work? Did she go on the Pill? Did he break up with the love-the-one-you’re with girlfriend and choose the one who had gone off to Paris for a year ? Did they move to Vermont to start an organic farm?

At the airport, I might doze, sitting on the floor against a pillar, substituting my coat for a comforter, and trust that the airline personnel would rouse me when it came time to board. Sometimes, I missed my flight, and waited for the next one.

Less scheduled, more serendipitous, less structured, freer. Those who are the same age now as I was then, live in an environment tightly orchestrated by Siri, Tivo, Nest, Instagram.

Oh, what they‘re missing.


What Do We Do When We Are Waiting


I’ve spent the past day in the hospital’s family waiting room or at the bedside of my “loved one,” as the hospital volunteers like to say, doing what one does in these situations—waiting. It begins as soon as I park the car and make my way the fourth floor surgical unit. I wait to be escorted into the surgical unit where my loved one is also waiting—waiting for the nurse to review the medical history, take her blood pressure and check her pulse, waiting to be hooked up to the IV, waiting for the surgeon to see her and explain the procedure, waiting for the anesthesiologist to stop in to go over the conscious sedation protocol, waiting for the nurse to bring the gurney to wheel her into surgery.

We wait for over three hours. Everyone in our entourage is hungry, especially the loved one, who has fasted for 30 hours, with no more than a sip of water to take her morning medication. When she’s finally wheeled down to the operating room, I wander to the coffee stand, grab a 4 PM lunch. I return to the family waiting area, where there is more waiting to be done. Time passes, in a blur of nonstop television news coverage on a flat screen TV, reading a mystery novel on my Kindle, thumbing through a newspaper someone has left on an end table.

At last, the surgeon appears. All has gone well, he says, explaining the details. It will be a couple of hours more until the loved one is ready to be discharged. More waiting. The day slides by in minutes, half hours, hours of waiting, walking, stretching, bathroom visits, sanitizing hands for the twentieth time, more waiting.

At the end of the day it ‘s hard to fall asleep because the waiting has had an odd effect on me: after so much waiting, I am curiously energized. I find it impossible  to read myself to sleep. The digital clock says 12:30. I must be up and ready to leave for home by five. “Sleep fast,” my late, wise mother used to advise in such situations. So I do, tossing, awakening every half hour to find the green light of the clock staring at me: 3:30 4:15, 4:45. This time I wait until an hour before  dawn, when I can slip on my backpack, zip up my down coat, and head home and back to work.

I will be busy then, back in my teaching orbit, and done with the waiting, at least for the time being.


Waiting for Snowstorm # 6


Blankets, yoga strap and two foam blocks rest on the yoga mat that I’ve stretched out before the fireplace. To make room for our impromptu back-stretching sessions, the rug is rolled up, placed tight against the CD cabinet. Sun pours in through the picture window. In the kitchen, containers line the windowsill, catching to drips from the ceiling, the result of ice dams on the roof. The compost container in the kitchen sink is stuffed with used coffee filters and their grounds, old tea bags, and vegetable parings. The freezer holds more compost, because it would be foolhardy to attempt our way through the five-foot high snowdrifts to reach the composter by the back fence.

Our 21-year-old cat hasn’t been outside for two weeks, and shows no signs of missing her nightly ten–minute strolls from kitchen to back deck and garden.

We’re caught up on laundry, and we’ve sorted through all the old bills, statements and old grocery lists that normally clutter our desks. We have gathered all our tax documents for the annual April ritual with the IRS, weeks away.

We’ve called my husband’s nonagenarian parents every day, even though we know they are safe, warm, and well nourished, tucked in at their senior living residence 22 miles away. Our sons email or text from their apartments in town—we’re fine, we’re digging out, we’re making pizza/chili/tacos tonight.

We have listened to Aretha Franklin singing diva favorites, Bill Evans on the piano—a 57-year-old recording that sounds strikingly contemporary, young Cecile McLorin Savant working her vocal magic on jazz standards, the Senegalese Orchestra Baobab. We have watched The Americans, Downton Abbey, and the Bruins on television—as well as twice daily weather reports on the New England News channel, where the reporters seem to have camped out for days in the studio.

Snow. More snow. And then, after a few days, more snow. Biblical snow, says our friend Elizabeth. We have no need of a gym to work our muscles: instead of using hand weights or fancy exercise machines, we shovel snow and hurl it five, six feet high, over the growing snow hill beside the driveway, or we carry it into the garage and tip the white stuff out the garage window onto a hollow made by the high winds.

Our next-door neighbor walks down the middle of our newly plowed street, walking Lily, his beagle. Lily sniffs the road and pulls at the leash. I lean against my snow shovel for a moment and say, “We are hardy New Englanders.”

“That’s what we need to keep telling ourselves,” Mark replies, and we both laugh. Lily pulls at the leash again, and off they go down the street, stopping at each house where an intrepid shoveller is clearing a walk or driveway. The wind is strong, dusting newly dug-out cars.

For dinner, we roast a chicken and make popovers. Tearing the golden rolls open, we inhale the aromatic steam, and settle in for another winter evening.


Upon Finding That The Ceiling at My Office at Work Has Leaked


The ceiling in my office leaked,

my carpet is a mess.

How long it will remain like this

is anybody’s guess.


Some books are trashed, some DVDs

are bathed in flakes of paint;

The scent of mold, and mildew there’s

enough to make one faint.


My 9th grade Odyssey is fine,

my con law books as well.

But one tenth of my holdings

are really shot to hell.


My car trunk’s packed with cartons

of stuff I want to keep.

I’ll have a Buddhist outlook,

and try hard not to weep.

Short fiction: “Take Gutman,” in Drunk Monkeys Online Magazine

Find the story here.

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On City Snow Days Gone By– Baltimore Sun Op-Ed, 2/8/15



I grew up in the 1960’s, in a housing development that backed onto a small woods. Until our woods was razed and supplanted by apartment buildings, we used the “forest” to build forts and act out scenes from televisions shows about Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. We wore coonskin caps, carried toy rifles and used paper percussion caps to simulate gunfire. In summer, we played baseball in our backyards. Sometimes a fly ball would vault into the woods and get lost. Or a loose foul tip broke a basement window behind the makeshift home plate. There were rivalries: the boys against the girls, the bigger kids against the younger ones. But snow was the great equalizer.

More than two inches meant an official Snow Emergency in Baltimore. All cars were ordered off the major thoroughfares, and sometimes even the smaller residential streets like ours in Northeast Baltimore near the county line. Snow tires weren’t unheard of, but more often, people drove to the local gas station and had chains installed on their tires. Riding in a car with chains was a noisy enterprise at best, and sometimes one of the links would come loose and rap at the wheel cover—we called them hubcaps. Soon the ride sounded like a morning in a noisy Lowell textile mill— crash, clatter, crash, clink, bang….


Click here to read the rest of this story  online in the February 8, 2105 Baltimore Sun.

Happy to report…

that my short story, “Take Gutman, “dm-logohas been accepted for publication by the online magazine “Drunk Monkeys.” Stay tuned for  publication details, forthcoming!

Baby, It’s ColdS Outside (and in)

January cabin fever sets in when the cold that’s been making the rounds comes home with you. I saw a butcher in our local grocery store preparing a package of Angus ground beef while his nose collected a big drip, no doubt the result of his spending too much time in the walk-in meat refrigerator before he came out to the warmer area.  Please, don’t drip snot on my hamburger, I thought.  I wondered, will cooking kill the germs? I sighed in relief when he finished wrapping the chopped meat in white butcher paper, weighed it, and slapped on the price tag. I tried not to stare at the drip that hung precariously at the end of his large, sharp nose. And I tried not to laugh.

I think back to where I might’ve met this cold virus. There’s a long list of suspects. The manicurist where I got my nails done, at Nail Perfection! Suze’s a warm, funny, kind person who came to the U.S. from Vietnam by way of Thailand two decades ago. The day I dropped into the nail salon, Suze had such a bad case of laryngitis that she couldn’t speak more than a whisper. “Go home!” I said, “Carrie can take care of me, or I can come back tomorrow.” Suze shook her head, took off her coat and said what she always says to me: “Pick your color, Lynne,” The salon, a small space crammed with four manicurist stations, was almost deserted. The salon owner, Carrie, wore a paper medical mask and applied gel to another client’s nails. On the overhead television, the local news reporters covered a bad traffic accident, then a feature on service dogs. Suze finished my manicure in record time, and left before I finished drying my nails under the magic machines that seal the nail lacquer in ten minutes. I may have left with more than dark blue polish on my nails–Suze’s cold and sore throat.

Or perhaps it wasn’t that at all. My cold and laryngitis might have originated with my friend or his partner, who hosted us for dinner that same evening. There were post-holiday hugs all around when we arrived, and more than a few sneezes. The day before I came down with my sore throat, I heard one of our hosts had been laid low by the rhinovirus.

In summer, at least it’s easy to go outside and bake in the sun, even go into the ocean and submerge, to clean out the sinuses. Winter in New England means the humidifier going all night, the heat on 68 during the day, 60 at night, layers of sweaters and heavy socks, lots of herb tea with honey, and a 20 year old house cat who thinks she wants to go outside, but never lingers outside for more than 30 seconds.

This time last week, I was in Miami, riding the eco tour tram around the Everglades, enjoying the egrets, the anhingas, and the alligators. Later that day I sat at a table outside the U of Miami Starbucks, sipping an Americano and reading my novel. I’d shed my boots, temporarily, for sandals. It was a joy to wear a sleeveless cotton shirt and linen pants. I ‘m starting to see why old people flock to Florida for the winter.

Give thanks for the following: over the counter cold medications, Bengal Spice tea, the Britta water filter pitcher, and fat, juicy, sweet red grapefruit piled up on the kitchen counter. Things could be worse.

New Year’s Non-Resolution


January is the time to clean up and clean out. People are crushing and discarding old cardboard boxes, leaving the naked Christmas tree by the curb for the special post-holiday trash pickup, and packing themselves into the yoga studio, so that swan diving into Uttanasana won’t do, and everyone has to bend forward with arms stretched straight overhead so that we don’t crash into one another. The lines at TJ Maxx are more for returns than purchases. The mail delivery has fallen off dramatically, from those welcome stacks of Christmas cards from far and around the corner, to clearance catalogs from the few stores that haven’t heeded the request to Stop! Stop sending me catalogs!

Perhaps the days are growing longer, but it doesn’t seem so from where I sit. When I look up after an hour or so of deleting old emails and organizing files on my laptop, it’s dark. Darker than dark. No moon. Fog. And on the street, little piles of slush. The house should be warm and cozy, but not until I’m settled at the counter with a cup of tea do I stop feeling chilled. I’m trying not to think about how nice it would be to crawl under the electric blanket and the down comforter, double comfort, with an Elena Ferrante novel.

Buck up, I say to myself. Tomorrow the sun might come out, and if it doesn’t, who cares? I’m going to take a car to the bus, a bus to the airport, and then a plane to Miami, where I can break out my new walking sandals and warm up my New England bones. Partly cloudy, the forecast says. But partly cloudy and 80 sounds just about all right to me. In my head appear visions of tee shirts, sunscreen and a net bag of tree ripened oranges. An ode to key limes is in the queue.

My old friend Gina will pick me up at the airport and speed us off to dinner. I’ve done the work of de-Christmasing the house, boxing up ornaments we never use—and that no one ever really liked in the first place—and giving them away to an elderly lady who answered my Craigslist posting. The white amaryllis in the kitchen window isn’t close to blooming, so I won’t miss the January flower show.

When I get back in a few days, all freckled and warmed up, the acorn and spaghetti squash I’m up and leaving on the kitchen counter will be waiting for me, and the cubanos of Little Miami will be a pleasant memory.

Just remember to save a spot in the yoga class for me.


© 2015 Lynne Viti. All rights reserved

New Year’s Musings


The  people who lived up the lane here have moved away, and the ground around the tiny cottage where they stayed for two or three seasons—has finally frozen, a few weeks after earth moving equipment disrupted everything to install a new septic system. The backhoe left a sizable rut in our dirt road, and one of the neighbors had to write to the absentee landowner, asking her to get the guys back to repair the road. In our absence the woman we hired to blow all our leaves back into the woods behind our cottage has come and gone, job well done. Only a few leathery oak leaves cling to the inside of the deutzia bushes. Everything else looks dead. I know it’s merely dormant, waiting a few months to send out buds and then leaves.

It’s a time to rest. We’re listening to old Bob Dylan on the IPod speakers, and catching up on old issues of  Audubon magazine and The New Yorker. At night, I’m still plodding through the fourth volume of Robert Caro’s biography of Lyndon Johnson, finally realizing that I need not commit the minutia to memory in order to get a sense of the man as he assumed the mantle of power in the Oval Office. (So far he hasn’t even moved into the Oval Office, out of deference to the nation’s shock of losing Kennedy just days before).

The bright sunlight reveals every speck of dust in the kitchen. I try wiping down the cooktop and using the polishing cloth to shine the stainless steel. If I were sticking around this empty shore town for a few more days, I might take on bigger projects—replacing a spent light in the spare bedroom, washing the duvet cover, dusting under all the furniture, pruning the deutzia now that the leaves are gone and I can see the shape of the bush, as my go-to garden expert Carol Stocker recommends.

But isn’t it much better to laze, this New Year’s morning, and listen to Dylan sing “Spanish is the Loving Tongue”?


2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,200 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 37 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.



Growing up in Baltimore, I rarely saw a white Christmas. Perhaps once or twice. The closest we came, most years, was a cold, gray Christmas. And every few years, we had a Christmas Day that seemed more like early spring than winter: the Christmas I tried out my new roller skates, making my way up Hilltop Avenue and then cruising down the hill on the sidewalk, trying not to get caught in big cracks, learning to control the speed , sometimes only stopping myself by skating onto someone’s patch of lawn. The Christmas my sister and I walked down to the tennis courts at Burdick Park and played for an hour or so. After a few minutes we peeled off our sweatshirts and continued practicing serves and baseline shots, working up a sweat .

I identified more with the verse of Irving Berln’s song than the chorus: “But it’s December the twenty-fourth/ And I am longing to be up north.” Christmas cards, the lid of Christmas cookie tins, billboards advertising cigarettes or Coca-Cola featured Currier and Ives –like scenes of horses-drawn sleighs making their way through snowy fields. But in Baltimore. Christmas was decidedly somber– or perhaps golden sunny– but not white.

Perhaps this is why I like living in New England. Last night I stood on the deck stringing lights along the railing. Tiny snowflakes had appeared  without much warning from the weatherman. The snow was intermittent. After supper, we went upstairs and watched the 1951 “Scrooge,” that old black and white rendition of A Christmas Carol, an essential part of our holiday rituals. By the time we made our rounds to turn off the outside Christmas lights, the flurries had subsided.

But they must have resumed while we slept. This morning we awoke to a light coating of snow in the yard, just enough to coat the buddleia and a few dried, spare perennials outside the bedroom window. “Bleak, but with a nice dusting of snow,” my husband said. Traffic to the bird feeder was heavy, with juncos, sparrows, cardinals, purple martins zooming in and out, until they exhausted the seed supply and decamped for another buffet in a neighbor’s backyard.

From where I sit and write, I can see the pale green lichen that covers the outcropping of ledge along the garden. The last few fallen leaves, the ones that escaped my rake last month, are now disguised by snow. The palette is subtle and neutral—green, brown and white.

Just another inch of snow—enough to preserve this winter garden’s beauty, but not enough to clear from the driveway and front walk—will make our New England Christmas just barely white.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Irving Berlin.

“The Daily Shot,” Wellesley College Website, December 17, 2014

Photo credit: Ellie Neustein
Photo credit: Ellie Neustein

You can find it here.

Connections Magazine, Winter 2014 is out–read my short story, “Tony, Bennett, Aldous Huxley and Eddie” on

LAN_ConnectionsFallCover_FINAL_web You can find the story on Page 10,  here.

Star 82 Review: see my poem…


You can find the online Star82 Winter 2014, here:

Glimmer Train July 2014 Very Short Fiction Award HONORABLE MENTION

Very happy to report that my short story, “Tony Bennett, Aldous Huxley and Eddie”  received an Honorable Mention out of over a thousand entries in the Glimmer Train Very Short Fiction Contest, July 2014. Yowza!

Shine On, Shine on, Harvest Moon, Supermoon, Blood Moon*

2015 pumpkin_0451The garden that was slow to produce this year has yielded two dozen juicy heads of garlic, many pole beans, two waves of tomatoes, endless basil and arugula, a steady supply of lettuce, 6 wizened bell peppers, three hot peppers, and a disappointing enormous vine with huge yellow flowers but blossom end-rot. The prize goes to the lone pumpkin, which appeared as a softball sized orb about two weeks ago, and by the time I cut it ten days later, it was enormous, at least by this gardener’s standards.

This leads me, in my more delusional moments, to consider engaging in some serious pumpkin growing next year, and enter the Topsfield Fair pumpkin contest.

Soon the tomato plants will give us their last fruits, and it will be time to clear out most of the garden, except for carrots and arugula, and plant the garlic.

In the flower beds at home, I did battle yesterday with blue Siberian iris, mallow, black-eyed Susan, and ever-expanding tickseed plants, pulling or digging up as much as could and potting them up for your friends who’ve recently bought a house whose yard sorely needs perennial beds. The drought has not fazed the stonecrop or the aster, so there’s color, lots of pink and white, to carry us through the next few weeks as the nights grow colder and even on the sunniest days, the thermometer hovers at 70F.

That pumpkin, still green, perfectly formed, with a nice, sturdy stem, sits on the kitchen counter next to the electric kettle.

Taking apart the garden at the end of the growing season is never easy–I have stop  myself from ruminating on. ..where did the summer go?  What have I accomplished?  I think back to June, when the New England perennial garden is in full swing, the hosta leaves unfurling, iris showing their flags, the catmint’s small purple blossoms poking out everywhere, the ninebark’s white flowers brilliant against the dark purple foliage.

The freezer is filling up with small batches of pesto and slow roasted tomatoes. Lavender blossoms are spread out to dry on newspapers in the sunny entryway. No doubt about it– summer’s over, but there will be pesto pasta dinners ahead, and those slow roasted heirloom tomatoes on our Friday night pizza, clear through February.



Walking in the Madonie Mountains of Sicily i

My essay now appears on the ATG Oxford site.Wild-peonies-the-roses-of-the-Madonie-Mountains-Sicily-Walking-Holidays-600x315