What to Do When it Snows

Action News is predicting snow, just a few flurries, but you never know. Could be a blizzard. When you go out for coffee, pick up a few ice scrapers and some salt. Truth is, no one else in the family will be prepared. Mention snow, but don’t harp. Find out who has to be where at what time. Place all of your gear on the porch and near the front door. Smoke your cigar.

The next morning, get up before everyone else. Go to Wawa and get some coffee. Come home. Scrape off all the cars. Your daughter has clinical and has to be at the hospital early, so do hers first and warm up her car so she isn’t cold on the way in. Better yet, decide to drive her and pick her up.

 "Thanks for talking to me" was the author's father's catchphrase.

"Thanks for talking to me" was the author's father's catchphrase.


Shovel the driveway and sidewalk. Put down plenty of salt so no one slips. Keep going, up and down the street, until you run into other dads who are also shoveling snow and sprinkling salt so no one slips. Go to Wawa and get another coffee. Drink it there, while reading the paper for free. Help anyone who’s stuck. Wave goodbye to everyone at Wawa and say, “Thanks for talking to me.”

Go home. Drive your daughter to clinical. Don’t listen when she tells you to use the defrost. Keep wiping the windshield clear with your gloved hand. Drop her off. Think about those you know who can’t shovel their sidewalks, and go to their houses to help them.

 

 

- Mary Finnegan is a nurse and writer living in Philadelphia. She misses her father in so many ways - for the snow removal, the cigars, the rides, and especially the love. Thanks for talking to me.

Mom's Garden

In later years, before her last tiller disappeared and cancer from 50 years of smoking reduced her to large tennis shoes and large ears with her shrinking body in between, Mom regularly put on shorts atop pantyhose atop varicose veins and tilled the garden. She allowed no weeds to grow between rows, none within sucking distance of the nutrients her vegetables consumed from the rich alluvium left by countless floods of the nearby creek, augmented by 5-10-10 fertilizer, the percentages of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium of her preferred blend.

Mom1.JPG

Mom kept the tiller among nearby trees—pin oaks, pines, sycamores, and poplars—where she cranked it and directed its twisting tines out to the rows of corns, beans, peas, potatoes, squash, okra, and tomatoes. Neighbors who passed on the nearby road admired the garden’s order, with no grass, leaves, nor organic matter left between rows.

But a tiller has no key. Perhaps she should have locked it, chained it to a tree. But when someone stole it, she said, “Fuck it,” or the Baptist equivalent after a life of swearing off swearing. She turned over the garden to an ex-con who needed community-service hours, a former student at the school where she was once secretary. He mowed her yard and endeared himself to her. As her memories faded, he replaced her only son.  Once her golden boy, her son had become her jailer in a locked memory-care unit of assisted living.

 

- Dale Easley is a Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Dubuque, which he joined in 2005 after 15 years at the University of New Orleans. He has been a volunteer math teacher in Kenya, a volunteer working on water wells in Haiti, and a Fulbright Fellow in Qatar. His interests include environmental geology, statistics, and the intersection of science and culture. Currently, he focuses upon storytelling in science. You can visit his blog here.

How to Stamp a Robin

Here in Michigan, where Marilyn always lived, not all robins migrate south for winter. But unlike a hardy cardinal who will brighten a snowy view, or a crow who gloriously doesn't give a shit when you see or hear it, robins are out of sight, out of mind here, until lots of them show up come spring.

Robin, Mrs. and worm.jpg

If you "stamp" the first robin you see once the snows melt, it will bring good luck.

When you see that first robin of springtime, you lick the pad of one thumb and grind it into the opened-flat palm of your other hand, as if securing a stamp on the "envelope" of your hand. That's it. The missive need not be addressed, apparently the stamp knows where it's going.

You can do this even if you are not very superstitious. For example, Marilyn had an aunt back in the U.P. who read the tea leaves from the bottom of a China cup. It was fun, but Marilyn didn’t put much stock in it. Annotations in her cookbooks all deal with measurements, never improvisation. If Ed hadn't insisted she stay home because his management job at General Motors "was enough," Marilyn said she would have liked to become a librarian because she liked putting things in order.

All this is to prove: Even the data-minded can celebrate spring by stamping a robin.

 Marilyn and Meredith laugh and wait for the snow to melt in 1998 or 99.

Marilyn and Meredith laugh and wait for the snow to melt in 1998 or 99.

The only other thing that needs doing is to check in with a few loved ones you’ve taught to stamp robins. If you're the first to stamp one, it will alert them that it's time. If they already beat you to the stamping, you let them know anyway because spotting a robin is something good to talk about.

Don't worry about missing your chance. Once the habit is ingrained in you, you will always know, as soon as that first spring robin appears, to stamp it. It is satisfying to do so, like balancing your checkbook to the penny, but better because this makes you feel like a family and the forsythia will blossom any day now.

 

- Meredith Counts is one of the founding editors of Dead Housekeeping.

Hank Has a Cigarette

Hank settles into a lawn chair as the graduation party unfolds around him. He adjusts himself against the vinyl as he watches his youngest grandson swapping jokes with some of his buddies over by the big cottonwood tree. He’s a good kid. Got a bit of a wild streak in him, but honestly it would be a little disappointing if he didn’t.

Reaching into his jacket pocket, Hank roots around for his plastic lighter. As his fingers close around the soft pack of cigarettes, he thinks back on 20 years of subterfuge. Joyce, God rest her, always on him any time the grandkids came to visit. Scrub out all the ashtrays. Open the windows and turn on a table fan to air out the three-season porch. Get those smoky polo shirts in the laundry basket and put on a fresh one before they get here. Keep up the routine once they arrived. Take the dog out for long walks by himself. Run unexplained errands after meals. Blame the smell in the mini-van on some wayward poker buddies. Always keep a roll of breath mints in a front pocket.

An irritating routine, but all for a good cause. Filthy habit and all that, and certainly not one he’d want to pass on to a couple of impressionable young boys. But they’re not boys anymore. They’re men. And now that high school is over, they can make their own decisions.

Hank 1.jpg

Hank pulls a Newport out of the pack and lights up with all the casualness of a six-decade smoker. He’s aware of the multiple shocked gazes that have settled on him. He takes a slow drag and exhales a smooth white cloud as he watches a red squirrel winding its way up the trunk of the cottonwood. They’ll get over it.

 

Ira Brooker lives in Saint Paul and writes anything for which people will pay him, plus a lot of things for which they will not. He has a site for professional stuff, and another for pop culture.

 

How to Paint a Landscape

To paint a landscape correctly you first have to immerse yourself in it. Spend years sifting the dust through your fingers. Walk each step of the trail through the Sierras where the Boy Scouts and horse packers have worn deep grooves in the landscape. Pick cholla and mesquite out of your pants cuffs. Look for horizons that are farther, larger, taller. Watch them fade into sunsets.

 Painting by Glen Blankenbiller, 1996

Painting by Glen Blankenbiller, 1996

Take vacation pictures. Develop wheels of slides. Click through them at Thanksgiving, one picture after another of stones, sere pines, more stones. No people.

Get your hands dirty. Get your boots dirty. Take great strides across the landscape. Read Zane Grey and find the places he loved. Take pictures from the summits of mountains and the nadirs of valleys. Watch the way the sky changes with altitude. 

Buy some VHS tapes of quiet-voiced men and women painting flowers and mountains. Watch the tapes. Buy easels and brushes. Buy an endless supply of thin canvas boards.

Let twenty years go by.

Move into a smaller house where you have to travel to see the horizon. Buy better gear but take shorter trips. By the time you stop hiking your entire kit should weigh no more than 20 lbs, inclusive. 

Pick up your easels and brushes, your tubes of paint and buckets of solvent. Buy a small TV for your VHS tapes. Put them all in the smallest bedroom with the smallest window. Leave your slide projector on a shelf.

Paint what you see.

 Painting by Glen Blankenbiller, 1982.

Painting by Glen Blankenbiller, 1982.

- Rowan Beckett Grigsby is the less-censored less-palatable alter ego of an attorney who might want to work in this town again someday. Professional editor and graphic designer by day and professional knitter by night, she has been an Unchaste Reader and contributor to the Unchaste Readers Anthology Vol. II (forthcoming), a contributor to Ask a Raging Feminist, a 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee and one of BlogHer's 2017 Voices of the Year for work we consider required reading, including "How to survive in intersectional feminist spaces 101."

For more of Rowan's Granddad, check out Tending Crops.

How To Be A Racist And Raise Your Granddaughter To Be An Anti-Racist On The Sly

My Cumby grandfather’s racism lay curled around the stoop rail like a concrete hound made alive. Heavy, slow, heaving - almost too much trouble to keep up with breathing. Somehow, it sighed.

Once, as a child, he said, he and his brothers had tied a black child to a tree and played slavery. A child myself, I put a finger in my mouth to pay excruciating attention to a hangnail. My hands my tell clear as tea leaves.

The story went on. The child was no more than three. My grandfather no more than six or seven. They were neighbors. I’ve been to the site of both houses. Nothing but glass from broken tail lights and disembodied flocks of daffodils show there was ever anything there. Lumber company land now.

“It was all in fun,” he said.

I don’t think it’d be fun to be tied to a tree. I’d be scared.

“Well no one would do that to you.”

I’d fight and scream and cry.

“I’d come a-running. I wouldn’t let them.”

No one stopped you, Hugh.

“No one needed to.”

Who would have? Stopped you.

“No one.”

Alright, then.

“No one stopped you, Hugh” could have been his epitaph if he hadn’t been cremated. His ashes blew in our mouths as we tried to say the things you say when someone dies. We pretended against the wind.

Cumby derives from Cambow. Our first American ancestor was African. Remembered now.

 image by Meredith Counts

image by Meredith Counts

- Jennifer Cumby is an editor at Dead Housekeeping.

Caring for Cut Roses

You are not my Grandmother. You are kind. My Uncle's mom. 

We are in South Texas. You and your amiable husband snow bird here, in this mobile home retirement park, just above the border. 

My only Grandmother is thorny, cruel; pitting her daughters against each other, stepping back as victim. I'm a child. I can see this. 

I don't know how to do the things my mom and Grandmother do well--sew, cook, create. When I want to learn, I'm told no. It would be too messy. You're in the way. Just go. These are some of the familial secrets kept for the few, to hold over the rest. 'Look at all of this I did. Look at all this I made. By myself.' 

 Image via the author

Image via the author

On this trip, you ask me to help you pick flowers--fragrant tea roses. We go outside after dinner. You let me cut them--vivid magenta and orange blooms. You let me hold and carry them, guiding me. When we go inside, you show me how to: 

run warm water
fill a sink or a bowl
submerge stems
trim at an angle under water, above a node
small slit the stem to force water up the bloom
transfer to vase, arrange
drop a penny in

They'll last longer. 

 Image via the author

Image via the author

You are patient, teaching, content to be with me. 

Each trailer plot has a citrus tree growing on it. Each tree is in bloom. I fall asleep breathing in grapefruit, tangerine. It's Easter. 

We never meet again.

- Jill McKenna Reed stewards bees, helps beekeepers, and writes poems in Portland, Oregon. Her poems have appeared in Vinyl Poetry & Prose, thethepoetry, Gobshite Quarterly and others. She's native to Chicagoland.

How to Grow and Preserve a Garden

Don’t worry overmuch about details. Consult a grandchild about where you should put the garden, and then dig up the lawn wherever they point. Pretty much if you till the ground and throw some seeds in and make sure it gets watered, things will grow. You will have to do the tilling, but little kids like to help plant seeds. Show a grandchild how to do the first one and then let them do the rest however they want. If they get bored and abandon the job, you can finish it.

The best way to water is the beer method: stand out there watering for as long as it takes you to drink a beer while the child swings on the rope swing. When your beer is done, or the child wants to do something else, you are done watering.

Harvest when there are too many strawberries for the child to keep up with by eating them straight from the vine. For veggies, harvest whenever. If several are ripe together, then you can preserve them.

People worry about canning, but really the process is pretty easy. It’s okay if your kitchen is dirty as long as the jars are clean. Boil the jars in a stock pot while you are cooking the preserves. For the preserves, measurements can be approximate; let a grandchild do the measuring, but don’t let them stir the preserves if they are young, lest they burn themselves. They can help transfer the hot preserves to the jars if they are old enough and carefully supervised. Details like head space and pretty labels don’t matter; if the jar is 2/3rds full, it will be fine. Process the jars in the stock pot and then take them out and line them up on the counter. Draw your grandchild’s attention to the popping sound as each jar seals.

Give the preserves to your children: the grandchild’s parents, aunts, uncles. The labels can read “cranberry something” or “corn peppers onions.” A general idea of what the jars contain is fine.

Months after you die, your children will open the jars, and you will be able to feed them again.

 

- Tedra Osell is a freelance writer and editor who lives in California with her precocious son and a bitey cat. She used to be a famous blogger and a non-famous English professor. Her father died of pancreatic cancer this spring.

How to Race Your Friend

Put the gear of your 3 speed bike on high and power down the street toward the hill. Reach the incline and let momentum take you as far up as possible. When you can go no farther slam the gear into low and pedal like mad. Stand up off the seat so you can pump harder. Crest the hill and start down the other side. Let go of the handlebars, stretch your arms wide for balance and laugh. Put your hands back on the bars, turn around to see that your friend is gaining on you. Use your right thumb to push the gear lever back to high, listen for the clink of the chain and pedal as hard as you can, gaining unimaginable speed. At the bottom of the hill make a fast sharp turn onto a busy avenue. Move forward. Find the depression in the curb and glide onto the sidewalk. Bump over the cracks in the cement for 15 feet then gently swerve to your right into the playground. Grip the hand brakes and press. Proceed slowly to the swing set. Get off your bike and put the kickstand down. Sit on one of the leather slings and laugh at your friend when she takes the swing next to you just second later. Grip the smooth cool chains. Use both feet to push yourself off the ground. Lean back and pump your legs till you feel like you’re flying. Shout out the name of the boy you have a crush on. Drag your sneakers in the dusty soil and come to a stop. Spin to face your friend, let the metal chains twist above you. Say that we are getting too old to keep doing this. 

 The author's friend, Marguerite, is at center.

The author's friend, Marguerite, is at center.

 

- Teresa Giordano writes non-fiction television programs on topics ranging from earwigs to forensic anthropology, to the southwest border, to bad-ass presidents. She’s also crafted dialogue for some of those reality TV stars you think are being spontaneous. She’s published fiction in Devilfish Review, Pyschopomp, and in an echapbook titled Strange Encounters. She’s published non-fiction in The Weeklings. 

This is the third of three Dead Housekeeping entries by Teresa Giordano this week. She can also tell you "How to Put your Mind at Rest" and "How to Take Your Medication."

 

 

How to Celebrate the Vernal Equinox

Plastic grass tucked in loose nests into baskets. The full moon just passed. The formica from 1964 with alternating wheels and stars in mint and sunshine. She calls us “Bewwwip!” from the back door. We run, twigs from the apple tree in our hair. “Okay now,” she says, pulling the egg from the carton’s hollow center. We stand back, hands clasped, eyes on her delicate fingers. The first stands, and she smiles. “Let’s do two.” And the second. Witchcraft. The Egg of Columbus. She rights a third.

 the author's Mama

the author's Mama

The phone rings from the grocery store. They, too, have stood their eggs at noon. Now social services. A law class. The notions department at the store downtown. Eggs stand all over town, the phone ringing. We know that eggs will stand on a Friday in February when the mourners file out into the frigid air. We know that eggs will stand when we celebrate birthdays, when the wreath we place in December collapses into wire and foam by Easter. The eggs will stand, and she quietly believes in the magic and does not, her faith another form of wit and play, the pagan inside her teasing the Catholic. We share the secret knowledge that the eggs will stand whenever we need them, but not yet. For now, it is all light and gravitational pull, all things in balance. She plucks them up from the counter and boils them for lunch, the shells cracking from the steam.

 

- Frances Badgett is a writer and editor in Bellingham, WA. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Drunken Boat, Matchbook, Smokelong Quarterly, The Atticus Review, among other places. She is the fiction editor of Contrary Magazine and editor-in-chief of a local lifestyle magazine. 

Planting the Future

Each spring I plant trees on my land. My Dad taught me. Before he died, after 66 years on his Minnesota farm, he planted at least 150,000 trees. Any patch of prairie ground too small or steep for raising corn and soybeans became a grove of oaks and pines. This is how he taught me about my duty to future generations. 

My first lesson came one April morning when I was about eight. He carried the seedlings – 15 inches high – packed in a box of damp sphagnum moss, and I carried the spade. 

“Watch me,” Dad said, using the spade to open a narrow slit in the sod. “Slip the roots into the hole and spread them out. Use your foot to press the dirt against the roots. Now, you try it,” he said, making another slit. “If pine roots dry out, the seedling will die. So be quick.” 

After I planted a couple trees, he left me with the seedlings and went ahead to make more slits. That was the beginning of our plantings. Those pines are now 64 years old and 40 feet tall. They may grow for another 150 years and reach 100 feet. Dad planted trees for future generations. Now, whenever I plant, I hear his words: “Always leave the world better than you find it.” The lesson has stuck, along with a love of trees. Someday, people I’ll never meet will enjoy my trees.   

 

When R. Newell Searle isn’t planting trees, he is an advocate for immigrants, teaches English in Oaxaca, Mexico, and writes. He is the author of Saving Quetico-Superior, A Land Set Apart, a dozen articles on the nature and social history of Minnesota, and has just completed a memoir on becoming bilingual at the age of 65.  

Greywater

Don’t let Dad water the plants—there’s a specific way it’s best done he doesn’t understand. No matter how tired your lungs may be, how crowded with tumor and pooling with fluid, do it yourself.

Those huge blue barrels—the kind you don’t have to buy if you keep an eye out while driving by run-down truck yards at night—you’ll have one of those sawed in half, sitting under the carport gutter already. It’s Florida, so the barrel is always full. Don’t mind the mildew; the plants won’t.

 photo by the author

photo by the author

Plunge a bucket in, pull. If the two-gallon weight is too much, let it sink. Bring it back up sideways so half spills out as it surfaces.

Start behind the shed: pineapple and tomato vine, basil and mint.

Refill the bucket, maybe less than half this time—the patio is a longer walk.

Pour out over caladium and peace lily. Sit on the swing, catch your breath before returning for the chenille. Don’t ask for help, and don’t accept it. Ignore the hose.

Refill outside, catch your breath. Finish the job. Be thankful for all the old rain, for the barrel it fills as quickly as you empty it.

No need to use of your own what God’s already given—you would say this if you were the type of mother who explains. Better to leave your children to figure out the why themselves, have something new to learn from you when you’re gone.


- Bryce Emley is a freelance writer and MFA student at NC State. His work can be found in Best American Experimental Writing 2015Prairie SchoonerMid-American ReviewYour Impossible Voice, etc., and he serves as Poetry Editor of Raleigh Review

Julie Getting Groceries

 image by Asha Rajan

image by Asha Rajan

Walk to the grocery store.

Accept a ride from your sister if she offers. Never ask. If she is not available when you plan on going, do not wait for her. Never let her plans dictate yours.

Walk.

Walk to the good grocery store even though it is two miles away and you are every inch a little old lady. Bypass the overpriced grocery a few blocks from the house. Paying extra for “convenience” is no kind of bargain. Shake your head at the thick men and sallow ladies who speed past you, leaving whirlwinds of hamburger wrappers and soda cups churning in their wake. Never learn to drive a car.

Walk.

Bring a list, even though the core has been unchanged for two decades at least. Always buy the staples: milk, eggs, butter, bread, bacon, potatoes, grapes, sausage, crackers, ring bologna because Bill likes it, cabbage, cookies, tuna fish, egg noodles. Do not worry that you have most of these things at home already. Staples are staples for a reason, and if expiration dates were as all-fired important as your niece tries to tell you, then why are you nearly 90?

Ignore the pimply Polish boy who asks if he can help carry your bags to your car. Carry the bags yourself, one in each fist. Take a block to acquaint your body with their weight. Relish their gravity as it makes your shoulders burn with that familiar fire that lets you know that you are living, moving, doing. Let the burden become a buoy as you take a deep breath and walk walk walk walk walk walk float

 

- Ira Brooker is a writer and editor residing in Saint Paul, Minnesota's scenic Midway neighborhood. You can find his writing all over the place, and especially at irabrooker.comhttp://atalentforidleness.blogspot.com and @irabrooker on Twitter.

Five Star Mixtape



Turn Left

His patterns linger in the grass.

The first edge always carved straight down the double hill, along the side of the driveway. As soon as the span of a single blade was all that remained along the front of the lawn, we would turn left ninety degrees, running hard along the stone wall over which we jumped our toboggans in the winter, frozen butts jolting off the road below as we remembered too late to check for cars.

 “It’s a communist plot,” he’d shout over the engine as he made that first uphill turn, pushing hard against gravity. A sudden eruption of sweat would appear through his white shirt: a smiley face on his chest, though he was rarely smiling on this stretch.

 photo from the author

photo from the author

Pinecones, small wildlife, and other trespassers from the undeveloped land in between yards forced me to run ahead and pull away interloping obstacles before they found the mower. Even when I missed them, he always saw the toads, and we carried them away to safety.

Finally, atop the hill, another left-turn, flush to the hedges in front of the living room. Gram sat on the davenport shouting something nobody heard, we kept our slow progress.

Left, and left again, the spiral bloomed in the lawn. Later, I would run laps in its lanes having long forgotten the trudging and complaining I did in carving them.

As I ran, he’d go in and watch NASCAR, in later years under a blanket despite the heat, always thinner. Always turning left.

 

- Ben Jackson is majestically bearded and the single father of the coolest thirteen-year-old-girl in the history of thirteen-year-old-girls. He is also the blogger behind DadoftheDecade.com, where he writes about becoming a father under less-than-ideal circumstances. His work has appeared in WBUR’s Cognoscenti, The Legendary, The Penmen Review, 50 Word Stories, Patch Media, and anywhere else he can con editors to publish him. He lives in Massachusetts.


How Does Your Garden Grow

How to nurture blowsy summer roses:

You will need your retirement years to do this right.

            This is because you will have a garden only after toiling at your school administration job for thirty five years, after paying your mortgage in hiccupping installments.

            By then you have mornings and late afternoons free to prudently crack open the soil and knead the earth, letting in just enough air for the roots. Not so much that the top crust washes off with the first summer rains. The scent of earth and rainwater shouldn’t be a warning.

            Your granddaughter has her uses. Get her a watering can right for her size; a real one would be as tall as she is. Sternly direct her to drizzle lightly over the slippery dark green leaves before breakfast.  Order her to stay out of the midday sun. Be resigned when she doesn’t.

 the author's sister

the author's sister

            The secret is the timely application of fresh manure. Press some onto the dead heads in neat small handfuls. Spread the rest in the flower beds. Wave the plastic bag of compact cowpats at your granddaughter, and let the smell leak into her nostrils. Smirk when telling her what it is. Inform her that there are people who drink urine for good health.

            The birth of new buds is slow. The blooming, slow, slow, slow. Then in two days a sudden burst: your extravagant roses spill over with fragrance, their velvety petals flutter in tender flirtation with the breeze.

            Then, the flippant petals fall away; the roses, in threes and twos, sag.

            It will then be time for your granddaughter to leave the garden. It will soon be time for you.

 

Sanam Amin is a writer and journalist currently based in Thailand. She is also secretly the fifth ninja turtle, and has probably saved your life at least twice. When not fighting crime, she uses her spare time to write stories.

How to Properly Dry and Fold Cloth Diapers: A Tutorial in Several Steps

Be a nine-year-old girl in the 50’s with a new baby sister and a mama with a clothesline that stretches the length of the yard.  There’s a pole to make the line taller, you have to have that pole because if you don’t the line will hang low from the weight of the wet clothes which will drag in the dirt.

 The author, with clothesline pole

The author, with clothesline pole

Keep the wooden clothespins in a handmade bag that you will never leave outside for fear of bees nesting inside or birds shitting on the pins. 

The basket will be huge and very heavy and your mama will carry it.

Hang the Birdseye diapers together.  (All items must always be hung with like items.)  

What’s a Birdseye diaper?

Oh, the one with the straight edges. 

Why do some have rickrack edges and are longer? 

Just made that way.

Use separate pins for quick drying, hang side by side as the laundry has to flow.

Bring inside for folding.  No clean laundry will ever sit in a basket even though in the future laundry will sit in baskets for days and sometimes weeks, even though there will be entire generations born who do nothing but move clean clothing unfolded from basket directly onto waiting children, for now the laundry will be folded.

Fold diapers like this: 

- sides meet in middle

- fold back end down

 

Girls pee backwards, she says.  It’s why she likes these diapers best: they’re thicker in the middle. 

Hope that American Bandstand is still on.

 

- Linda Poore is a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, daughter (of dead people) and friend to a few.  She is retired and spends many hours dog walking while recalling life events (of dead people.)  She worries that when she’s gone no one will know her stories.  (But it really doesn’t matter.)  She lives in Virginia with her husband and her poodle, Penny Poore.