Dad as a little boy in Germany, about 1929.

My father declined, in the most uninteresting way possible, to talk about his War. “Nothing to tell you,” he’d convey, by offering a couple of sentences, stopping, and getting back to organizing the garage or mending one of the neighborhood kids’ bicycles or shutting himself into his study, with his black Formica-covered desk and his beautiful wooden pipes in their racks.

I did not recognize this as a “classic reaction” to war’s trauma until a few years ago, when I began reading two very different series of fiction. …


First draft, second draft, revision, BOOK. An oh yes, a little mourning.

All the grieving people you meet, right after your own spouse dies, say “take your time; wait a year.”

So as the pandemic shut us all down, I was walking to the one-year mark from DK’s almost gentle death, looking for how life might blossom again, anticipating stepping out a bit from the shadow of massive sorrow.

Instead, then, like my phone buddies (widows A and J and D), I kept saying “Thank goodness he didn’t live to see this pandemic. He would have been terrified, and dying would have been so much harder.”

A funny kind of mourning.

Then…


Vermont was still ahead of us then.

January 21, 1978. Call it practice for life in Vermont. In an ample but barely heated cinder-block hunting cabin, R and I wintered atop a mountain at the edge of New Jersey’s Stokes State Forest, where he took down his first (and only) buck with bow and arrow.

And I huffed and puffed, the weight of nine months of baby inside me taking me off balance. Two and a half days til the due date. Would this miracle emerge on time, according to the midwife’s calendar?

Rubbing a gap in the frost that filmed the downstairs window, I peered into…


Near zero degrees, every bit of sunlight seems twice as kind.

I wonder what you have discovered during the coronavirus pandemic.

For me, along with writing a couple of novels, this quiet year included much reflection on choices I’ve made and why I made them.

“Courage” and “Adventure” appear over and over in the choices I made from age 16 to 49. That’s how I got the Subaru caught on a tippy ledge on a closed, snowy mountain road at dusk one December, with the kids in the back seat. …


My grandmother, age 80.

My grandmother Lena came to visit me when I lived in a Vermont log cabin with R and the two children. A secular Jew rooted in Germany, she’d exited her homeland around 1938 for safety in England. In a large house in Woking, outside London, throughout World War II she managed the flow of family and refugees, including accessing food through everyone’s ration cards, and keeping her own chickens for eggs. I can never cook scrambled eggs without recalling how she’d scrape every precious yellow fleck out of the pan when I was a kid.

She was nearly 80 when…


Hindsight is a marvelous gift. Used with care, it can be tender and accepting, and rich with forgiveness. And it’s been one of those weeks for me, with word of the death of a man I once loved. Briefly perhaps, but with full intent, and great despair when it fell apart.

Backstory: I’d taken a heart-deep wound from someone else who’d deliberately humiliated and betrayed me, and I felt lost and lonely. And scared. Grieving over a glass of wine with a not-very-close girlfriend, I said I already knew the available guys remaining in my neighborhood, along with their core…


As I write this, it’s November 5, an unseasonably warm (and welcome) day in northeastern Vermont. Thank goodness the 4-inch snowfall from Monday/Tuesday has melted, and I cleared a few more tasks off my “get ready for winter” list.

While working in the golden sun, hauling first some gravel to repair the driveway, then not-quite-composted veggies and eggshells out of the bin so it’s ready for the winter offerings, I thought about Guy Fawkes Day. No, not about the English history, which involves a traitor who gets “burned in effigy” (!) …


One chapter at a time, I’ve been writing about my life in Vermont, from my back-to-lander style arrival in 1978 to about 2002, when I married my third and LAST husband. (Finally got it right.)

The more I write about those days, the more I see the years that set them up: those years when I was a kid, then a teen, and listening to my dad. He used to say “Do what I say, not what I do.” But it’s never that simple, is it? …


Well, OK, Mom liked me when I was born. But when I started talking …

I was a severe disappointment to my mother, and knew it.

She loved crafts and American folk songs, which she’d heard as a child and become proficient at playing one-handed, with her nursery-school-teacher training, on the upright piano tucked into her “sewing room.” Family history enthralled her. She never questioned an assertion about an ancestor — “Just imagine, she was said to be a Maine Indian!” — or the uprightness of the American leaders she found in the tree (“look, we go back to the Puritan reformer Anne Hutchinson! …


Dad, preschool, in a sailor outfit, in Germany, about 1928.

The COVID-19 pandemic is whipping around for another slap against American “can do” beliefs as I write this, in July 2020. Here in Vermont we’ve been so much safer than many people; there are arguments about what’s needed to maintain that safety, and how we’ll all handle education for the kids this autumn. …

BethKanell

Detective skills in YA adventures (newest) The Long Shadow; All That Glitters. bethkanell.blogspot.com; member SinC

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