Celebrating Life’s Milestones

(A Beach Reporter column from May 29, 1992.)

May and June always seem to me to mark the passage of time even more than the beginning of the new year in January. We start a new calendar in January, but in late spring we mark many of life’s milestones. Graduations, weddings, ceremonies marking the completion of work well-done, luncheons honoring teachers – all these events traditionally mark the season of late spring.

It is during these ceremonies that we take notice of our lives. Life can be so monotonous sometimes, so we need celebrations to renew our souls and awaken our emotions. We need to mark the passage of time with parties. Graduates reflect on the completion of their education and are quietly proud of their accomplishment. Newly married couples start out on a journey full of promise. She will always be as beautiful as she is on this wedding day. He will always look at her with adoration. Continue reading

Friendship Is A Sheltering Tree

(This essay appeared in my essay collection Lake Forest Moments.)

I had known for nearly a year that my dear friend Diane would be moving as soon as her husband Jim got a job offer. A casualty of banking industry restructuring, Jim, at 52, was interviewing all over the country. We hoped they would remain in the Chicago area, but the chances of that seemed less and less likely as the months went by.

Like most corporate wives, Diane knew the drill. Be glad for the job opportunity, put a smile on your face, pack up your grandmother’s china again (minus the creamer that got broken in the last move), dispense a few hugs, shed some tears, and don’t look back. Even in this era of two-career couples, far more wives move because of the job opportunities of their husbands, than husbands do for their wives.
And move, they do. As a past President of our community’s Newcomers’ group, I saw firsthand the different ways women cope with transplantation. The gender make-up of our group speaks volumes to this issue – we always average around 500 members – all women. Women hoping to make new connections, women needing phone numbers for dentists and pre-schools. Women who remark lightly during their first coffee, “We’ve moved so many times, I have boxes this time that I never unpacked in the first move.” We all nod in sympathy, recognizing that casual tone of voice for what underlies it – acceptance, denial, and a reaching out toward those with a shared experience.

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Can Anyone Eat Just One Thin Mint?

(Originally appeared in The Beach Reporter on 3/11/93)

Stop me before I eat again. Just two days ago I received my order of eight boxes of Girl Scout cookies, and now I am staring at one lonely box of Trefoils. We always order one box of Trefoils (the plain shortbread ones) because we think of them as being good for you, as opposed to the ones with chocolate on them.

The Trefoils will get eaten tonight. But they won’t be as good as the Peanut Butter Patties, or Thin Mints, or Samoas that we ate in a two-day frenzy. I always say I’m just going to have one or two Thin Mints, but I can’t help myself. I always eat ten or twelve in one sitting.

I suppose I like Girl Scout cookies so much because you only get them once a year. If they were available year-round, I probably wouldn’t think twice about them. No cookie company has ever been able to exactly duplicate the crisp mintiness of a Thin Mint. So, since they are only available for a short time, I get this deprivation mentality, and I have to eat as many as I can. Continue reading

Birdie and Porky: A Love Story

(I wrote this story a few years ago after reading a news report of a parrot missing from the Philadelphia Zoo, at about the same time a pig went on the lam in Florida.  What writer could resist such a set-up!)

After four days on the lam, a missing parrot from the Philadelphia Zoo was back at Bird Lake for a bath, a bite to eat and a reunion with its flock. (Tom Infield, Philadelphia Inquirer staff writer, July 25, 2009)
Roaming Free in Florida, A Pig Gains Local Fame (Headline, NY Times, July 24th, 2009)

Day One: I have done it. I have flown the coop, or the perch, or whatever you want to call the man-made prison that has been my home these past few months. I think they mean well, but this place they call Philadelphia, with its hordes of corpulent sweaty screaming humans is really too much to bear. Even though I am one of the ones born in captivity (oh, how I despise that phrase!) the beat of my native Brazil, home of my ancestors, pulses deep inside me. I believe you would love it there as well. It is my deepest desire to get there, especially before this dreadful thing they call winter comes.

I have been following the news articles of the past few months about your life on the lam in Panama City (they often line the shelves in our habitats with newspaper), and these have given me the courage to bolt. I cannot tell from photos how large an animal a feral pig might be, but I hope we might be companionable. They say you have eluded authorities for months, even after being tasered and shot with tranquilizer darts. Kudos, my friend. (I hope I may indeed call you my friend, as I believe my longing to be free has been so greatly inspired by your own raw courage.) Today shall be the day.

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