Angry at the New York Times

My DNA harbors waves of repressed anger. Sometimes it emerges without my authority. Sometimes it pops out long after any seeming cause, like this:

“I’m still incensed by the ridiculous, CONTINUOUS front-page stories about Hillary’s emails during the 2016 presidential campaign, while your lack of thorough, consistent investigative reporting contributed to the horrendous election of our most incompetent president ever.”

My anger typically goes wild on phone calls to 800 numbers, although I know that phone reps aren’t responsible for corporate snafus.

Yesterday, by phone, I cancelled my Sunday NYTimes home delivery subscription. I’ll miss reading the newspaper, curling up on the couch with my coffee.  I’ll have to find new activities to take up my Sundays.

“You’ll receive a 16-week Sunday subscription at 50 percent off,” the sales rep tries to hook me into not cancelling. Poor guy.

I burst out laughing, which is Dan’s favorite part of hearing my tirade from the next room.

“Are you kidding? That’s what I’ve been told on at least four calls since October, but my credit card bill shows the full monthly price.”

The sales rep was professional. “Is there anything else I can do for you today?”

“Sure, how about talking with your supervisor, getting free Sunday papers delivered to me for the next four months? That would make up for being charged full price for the past four months.”

“I can’t do that,” he replies dutifully.

Whipping off an email to customer service, I sign it, YOUR DISGUSTED FORMER READER.

Immediately, I receive a reply from someone with a real name.

“We’ll look into this and get back to you,” she writes.

I’m flummoxed. Does persistence help? Does exposing repressed anger? We’ll see.

I wish I could ask my mother. But it’s too late for that.

*Dedicated to my polite, lovely, mature friend, Anne Sibley O’Brien.

Posted in Fight wimpiness, Journalism/Writing, Politics, The Rest of the World | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

“History has its eyes on you”



At ASU Gammage in Tempe, with my young pals at “Hamilton”

I finally saw the musical “Hamilton” on what would have been my mother’s 112th birthday. It was the best way to celebrate. But it’s not all I have in mind. I’m making progress on my sort-of-memoir. It’s a personal American history spanning more than one hundred years of my mother’s and my lives.

It will take the rest of my life to complete.

Meanwhile, I keep thinking about some of the great lines in the “Hamilton” play.

Today is Presidents Day: “You want a revolution. I want a revelation.” I’m hopeful that the revelation will involve teenage students shaming our shameful politicians (including our incompetent president) to enact gun regulations.

“History has its eyes on me”: More than ever before — although I was a history teacher –I’m drawn toward reading books like Personal History by Katharine Graham. Next will be Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow.

“We won the [Revolutionary] war. What was it all for?” Hamilton asks Burr, “Do you support the Constitution?”

All these years later, I ask, What’s the value of the American Dream if there is no equality, if the Constitution doesn’t apply to all? 

Perhaps I’ll see “Black Panther” later today.

“Who lives, who dies, who tells your story.” I want to tell my own story. So that’s what I’m working on these days, in my 72nd year of life. There’s a lot to think about.

Posted in Fight wimpiness, For Love of History, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

You never know…Small World Stories II

The former “Voice of Portland (Maine)” turned 68 on Friday. We were guests at his birthday party here in Tucson. I didn’t know him when I lived in Maine but his wife performed in Abrams and Abramson, a comedy duo we enjoyed at the annual Maine Festival.

Onstage more than thirty years ago, she made us laugh. In person as a friend in Tucson, she still makes me laugh.

Watching other guests arrive at Friday’s party, one woman stood out.

“You look familiar,” I told her. “I live in Chicago,” she replied.

Someone mentioned Maine (it was probably me).

“Wait a minute,” she said. “I went to the University of Maine, then lived in Southwest Harbor for a few years with my roommate.”

What???? Another small world story!

Naturally we knew some of the same people. Where had we crossed paths?

“Oh yes,” she said, “I most likely went to your bookstore.”

Where does this come from, this inner knowledge of seeing someone before?

On this New Year’s Eve, I wonder about how much we all have in common: dreams, fears, aspirations. Especially my writer friends.  

After attending the best writing workshop in Hawaii, committing to working on my memoir/non-memoir — no matter how long it takes — and being open to everyday life’s surprises, I’m ready for 2018. Happy New Year to all!

Addendum: The new recommended friend I met for a glass of wine last week, whose mother’s maiden name was Wilensky, may or may not be related. Her Wilensky ancestors settled as pioneers in North Dakota. So I have my doubts. But who knows?

Posted in Baby Boomers, Journalism/Writing, Mount Desert Island/Maine | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How I love small world stories!

A few years ago, walking down 7th Street around the corner from my Tucson home, a car’s bumper sticker jumped out at me.
Not only was the man of the couple who lived there from Bar Harbor, Maine, his sister had been the high-school best friend of a dear friend of mine, who still lives on Mt. Desert Island.
Got it? I may have already lost you, dear reader.
We’re now friends with the 7th Street couple, Steve and Mary, whom we see in Tucson and in Bar Harbor during the summer (we have other mutual friends who live in both places, and on their Bar Harbor road at least two more couples winter in Tucson).
This year, our 7th Street neighbors are staying in Maine till the end of December. Mary is a Tucson native. Steve says, if we can stay in Tucson in July and August, why not Maine in December? He’s got a point.
This morning I received this email from Mary:
“Met a woman named Janet with silver hair, a purple streak, who lives in Southwest Harbor in a home across the street from St. Peter’s Catholic Church (down the road from my old house). She lived in Tucson for 10 years in Armory Park del Sol. She misses Tucson — especially now during  winter here.  I had a Wildcats sweatshirt on and she spotted me in Hannafords.”
The next email that appeared came from a friend who suggested I meet her friend who lives in Tucson part-time. Turns out her mother’s maiden name was Wilensky, plus she lives in Minneapolis. Her daughter and son-in-law, who recently had a baby, live near my son and daughter-in-law and my darling grandbaby.
Too much information? I’m curious to see who of my readers indulge me, have similar stories or some explanation for these marvelous coincidences?
Here are some possibilities:
Human beings are more closely connected than we realize.
A strange alien plant in our atrium is responsible.
Life is like The Twilight Zone.
Life IS The Twilight Zone.
In 2018, may you be happily surprised by what life brings you. May you have tons of fun, experience many powerful connections, wonder what it’s all about, and of course, be  healthy and get to do what you most dream of doing. And may justice prevail.
Posted in Bopping Around Tucson, Fight wimpiness, Journalism/Writing, Mount Desert Island/Maine, Old friends | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mahalo Hawaii

A week on Hawaii’s Big Island was paradise: a perfect nonfiction writing workshop with compassionate and talented teachers; red-headed and yellow-bodied birds chirping their morning happiness, nightly stars popping out of the darkness.

And new writing friends with stories that focused on the should’s of traveling with an old friend, confronting an alcoholic/questioning dad, a John McPhee-like piece about   walking on a lava path of petroglyphs.

My two-mile walk of choice paralleled the beach.


Making friends with the Pacific was huge. I loved staying buoyant in its turquoise warmth, the melding of ocean and air temperatures. No need to snorkel, kayak, paddle board, or play with beach toys. Floating was enough for me. Perhaps I’ll cross a wider swath of the Pacific, travel to Vietnam or Thailand, not sticking only to western culture in future treks around the planet.

One afternoon, keeping an eye on one of my housemates who snorkeled for hours, I saw something large and dark on the horizon. That spouting whale surprise made my day.

I doubt if I’ll get to circumnavigate the globe, but I’ve circumnavigated Hawaii’s big Island. On our day off from writing, two of my housemates and I drove from micro-climate to micro-climate. What a kick!



Akaka Falls is twice as high as Niagra Falls.

Wish I had a photo of Uncle Bob hawking us from the side of the road. “Stop, stop,” we three shouted at the same time. We each sipped the milk from our coconuts, then his nephew cut them up, bagging them together with pieces of pineapple for afternoon snacks.



Hilo’s Shasta Building reminiscent, I’m told, of the “old Hawaii”


Next time, I’ll hike the eight miles up and back across one of the world’s most active volcanoes.

What struck me this first day back in Tucson — seeing license plates from Michigan, Montana, Missouri, and New Mexico.

On our Hawaiian island tourists and natives alike sport the same license plate. Perhaps that’s one reason why everyone was so nice. Far out in the Pacific, we all somehow belonged together.



Posted in Journalism/Writing, Nature Girl, The Rest of the World | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

My house was me and I was it…

That’s no longer true. This morning marked the closing for my SWH home. My realtor says the new owners are wonderful people, hard-working, not the typical rich folks who buy second homes on Mt. Desert Island, and apparently, they’re planning to be year-rounders in a few years.

I appreciate that, for the town of Southwest Harbor, the Manset oceanfront, and especially for my incredible next-door neighbors, who are the epitome of life in a small Maine community.

“They’re so excited,” my delightful realtor told me. “They’re going to do some painting this weekend.” I’ll bet they’re painting my purple side porch door.



The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Pinkwater

After 25 years of being identified with my artsy crafty woodsy Maine home, I must forge a new identity.

I’ll be happier about the lovely family who had the good sense to buy the best house anywhere when I see the big chunk of change in my bank account.

It won’t be real until then. I’ll celebrate. I’ll research wise investment strategies. I’ll take exotic trips. I’ll visit my kids and darling grandson more often.

As one of my kids told me yesterday, “It’s only a house mom, you’re not on a waiting list for a kidney transplant.”

True. But I’m pretty sentimental.

Here are a few things that happened on 165 Seawall Road: My teenage kids and I ate ice cream, watched Seinfeld and Northern Exposure, snuggling together on the couch during cold winter evenings. We ate plenty of “You make it, you eat it” suppers around the hefty round oak table that will remain for the new family.

Four years ago, we hosted a brunch to celebrate my daughter and her husband’s wedding, and two years ago, a cocktail party to celebrate my son and his wife’s wedding week. We held my daughter’s first book launch in the dining room, with a fabulous chocolate cake that imitated her vibrant book cover.

This 4th of July we were together, and my then six-month old grandson and his parents had their photo taken on the sunporch.

We endured ice storms, bad health news, received college acceptance letters. I hosted women’s writing group many times over the years. I  frequently held big parties, including for my 50th and 70th birthdays. The circular downstairs layout was perfect for mingling, with the sunporch off to the side for the quiet ones.

My most therapeutic party was the Un-Inauguration Party in January 2001, which followed the horrendous installation by the U.S. Supreme Court of George W. Bush as president. I’ll never forget Church Lady KB or the couple with oversized twinkling cowboy hats, who stayed in not-so-smart Texas mode the entire evening.

I’ve been so lucky — as only the third owner of 165 Seawall Road, since 1935 — to hold onto the place for 15 years since moving to Tucson in 2002. That year, I received the same offer from a prospective buyer, but I couldn’t make myself sign the purchase and sale agreement.

This year was different. I automatically signed every document that came my way.

It will take a while to let go. It’s nice to hear hear friends say they’ll drive by and always think of it as “Sheila’s House,” even without my signature purple door.

I’ll read “The Big Orange Splot” to my grandson someday, remembering.

It was more than a house. It’s the end of an era.




Posted in Family Matters, For Love of History, Mount Desert Island/Maine, Old friends, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

My Amigas

Sometimes if I can’t fall asleep I count all my women friends, strong, independent, smart, funny friends, some of whom I’ve known for more than 40 years. One I’ve known since kindergarten.

New amigas are precious too. I’ve enjoyed a procession of social gatherings since returning to Tucson from Maine in late August. It’s important for me to re-establish connections here.

Looking forward to meeting up with my friend Suzi this morning; when I arrived at the designated breakfast spot she was already seated. Time to go came all too soon: we talked about our grandchildren (we each have one), progressive politics and what we can do, how much we were both enjoying our avocado toast, and lots more.

We both stood up. For a minute I considered whether my eyes were playing a trick on me. IMG_0850











I bought my new happy sandals yesterday. She purchased hers a while back. Whatever, this was an amazing coincidence for two women who have so much in common.

My house in Maine and my dear women friends there have been on my mind.

Closing date for the sale of my Southwest Harbor home will be Oct. 6. Yikes! How bittersweet. But I know it’s time. It will be a relief to have savings so I can live comfortably for at least another decade.

Exotic travel! No more renters! No more expensive repairs! No worries about the lobsterman renting out rooms to young women running out early in the morning, or the pipes freezing during a hellish winter!

I’m not returning to Southwest Harbor for the closing. Dear friends and the most fabulous next-door neighbor in the world will help oversee the removal of furniture, stuff, and more stuff. My friends will stop by to choose books off my many bookshelves, momentos of the good vibes, fun times, tears shed, millions of words written, numerous potlucks, and happy moments celebrated together on 165 Seawall Road these past 25 years.

A house is a house. I’ll always have my fabulous friends.




Posted in Bopping Around Tucson, Mount Desert Island/Maine, Old friends, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment