That One Pitch

By on Mar 4, 2014 in Essays | 1 comment

The author’s father is in the top row, to the right of the man in the hat   In late August of 1957, my father took me on a trip to visit his home town of Nanaimo in British Columbia. We stayed in the Plaza Hotel, where, almost a half century earlier, he’d been a bellhop, before going to work in the coal mines. On our first morning, just after breakfast, my father took me on a walking tour of Nanaimo Harbor. We stopped at the Bastion, a fortress constructed in 1853 by the Hudson Bay Company to protect their coal mining interests on Vancouver Island. My father pointed out that...

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Necessary Things

By on Dec 2, 2013 in Essays | Comments Off

Gray Bunny Before Grace names it, the small stuffed bunny is pale pink with purple dots and wears a lavender bow around his neck. A cherished playmate for my littlest niece, he is clutched close at bedtime and in the car seat. Eventually she learns to introduce him, dangling him by an ear and announcing “Bunny,” giggling at her own ability to speak.   With so much affection and milk lavished on him, the bunny makes regular trips through the washing machine. Soon the pink fur fades and the original ribbon frays and then falls off, only to be replaced with a rapid succession of...

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Kafka and Cable

By on Nov 19, 2013 in Essays, Humor | Comments Off

Today I had a Kafkan experience. It is no longer the Count in the Castle who surrounds himself with so many maddening layers of bureaucracy. Now our “service providers” have done it. Or, to put it another way: corporations. Consider this: I call the cable company. Me: Yes, I couldn’t help noticing that my cable bill went up by twenty dollars in the last two months. Functionary: Yes, your two-year plan expired. Me: What can we do about this? Functionary: You could certainly take on an even higher bill, by adding services. Me: I don’t want those services. Functionary:...

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By on Oct 21, 2013 in Essays | Comments Off

“I think you need to do something about the boat,” said Manny on the phone. “I was down at the marina, and the canvas cover is torn and shredded. The boat’s being exposed to the elements.” I felt a pit in my stomach. I didn’t want to hear this. Six years earlier, at the age of forty-seven, my husband Perry had suffered a heart attack, which deprived his brain of oxygen. After a two-week coma, he gradually awakened, slowly regaining part of his cognition and former self. Many parts didn’t come back: He couldn’t practice law anymore; he couldn’t cook or drive. My once lively...

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Speaking in Tongues

By on Oct 13, 2013 in Essays | Comments Off

The author’s daughter and mother-in-law   This week, I’m living in a tri-lingual household — English, Portuguese and baby. It’s an interesting dynamic, because not one of us understands fully all three languages. My husband’s mother does not understand English but is fairly fluent in baby. My husband speaks both English and Portuguese, but I translate baby into English for him for the most part. And me? My rudimentary Spanish brings me no closer to understanding the Portuguese language than it brings me to understanding a Nirvana song. Cheerfully, if...

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The Magic of Eating a Banana

By on Oct 13, 2013 in Essays | 2 comments

Nate is six months old when his pediatrician tells me that I can start feeding him solids. I am so excited to offer him something besides rice cereal that I run down to the store with him to buy a couple of baby-food jars. He bounces close to my body in the baby carrier. As I peruse the “kid food” aisle, everything comes from a box or a bag or even—yogurt—from a tube. When I get home, I crack open a jar and enjoy the pop sound of the air releasing. With Nate in the high chair and my heat-indicator spoon in hand, I give him his first bite. He sticks out his tongue over and over like a...

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