The Best Day

In his memoir about marriage to Jane Kenyon, poet Donald Hall writes: “If anyone had asked Jane and me ‘Which was the best year of your lives together?’ we could have agreed on an answer: ‘The one we remember least.’” Because, Hall continues, although there were years of triumph, sorrow, sickness, and excitement, the years they counted as best were those filled with “repeated days of quiet and work."

It is a theme he returns to in this book, The Best Day the Worst Day, a theme that extols the beauty of routine and quiet and simplicity, something we most often do not appreciate until things are Otherwise as Jane Kenyon, expresses so perfectly in her poem of that name, one written as she contemplated Hall’s mortality after he was diagnosed with cancer. Ironically, it is Kenyon who will die first, at age 47 after a harrowing year of treatment for leukemia. And it is the 72-year old Hall who is left to grieve for the many “best days” they lived together. 


One topic keeps coming up in my reading online and off; in real time discussions with friends; in my correspondence with creative friends; and in my own journal. 

Addiction. Specifically, social media addiction. 

Almost everyone I know is feeling it in some form or other.  The ones who are brave enough to confess it describe similar habits. The incessant itch to check for messages whenever you have a free moment, even while sitting at red lights or waiting online in the grocery store. The urge to scroll through your FB or Twitter feed over and over again, just to see if something new popped up since reached the end of it just two minutes ago. Feelings of agitation and anger at political news and the vitriolic commentary that invariably follows.

Now we are finding out more and more ways that social media has infiltrated our lives, our privacy, even our very democracy. Why are we still using it at all??

A Year in the Life-January*: On the Last Gift of Time

We’re buried in snow here this weekend, but you know what? We don’t care. We’ve spent the past two snowy days sleeping in, drinking extra pots of coffee in front of the fire, watching birds come to the feeders in droves, reading books and watching movies on TV. 

Yes, I said WE because as of January 31, my husband is officially RETIRED. 

I know that word strikes fear in the hearts of many women, but so far we are managing quite well. I am much more mellow than I was even a few years ago, my expectations for being productive in a day have changed dramatically, and I’m enjoying the ability to be flexible with all the free time in my own schedule. 

Still, it’s obvious some adaptations will need to be made.  Jim is more of an afternoon-evening person, while I am definitely an early morning person. He likes to relax and take life slow, I like to be busy and get things done. He’s all details and logic, while I’m touchy-feely and sensitive.

But we’ll figure it out. We’ve been together for 45 years and are committed for the long haul. 

A Journey of a Thousand Miles

“It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which direction to go we have begun our real journey.” ~Wendell Berry

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” 

This morning I clicked on this space and was startled to see it has been over two months since I’ve written here. Over two months since I’ve written much of anything, actually. During that time we’ve sustained another loss - our precious Molly dog became ill in early December, and died on December 11, just shy of five months after we said goodbye to her brother, Magic.

I never imagined the possibility of losing both of my dogs in such a short period of time. Yes, they were both elderly dogs - Magic was almost 15, and Molly was 13 - but after Magic died, we hoped for another year or two with Molly, who had always been a very healthy little dog. And once my initial grief for Magic dissipated, I enjoyed not only her gentle company, but the relative ease of managing one dog, especially this one who was so undemanding. 

Broken Engagement

A few weeks ago I wrote of my intention to limit my time on social media, and as you would imagine, I have had varying degrees of success. To paraphrase an old song, it’s a hard habit to break, and most of you are well aware of that.

On days when I am successful, however, here’s what happens: I’m more content, more focused, less flustered, and I accomplish a whole lot more. And by accomplish, I don’t mean just checking stuff off my to-do list. The biggest accomplishment I’ve achieved in those days when the phone stays tucked into its pocket inside my purse and the iPad remains closed on the kitchen counter is that of doing nothing. Of sitting on my couch and looking out the window, watching birds fly in and out from the feeder, listening to my little dog snoring softly from her bed in the corner. 

Of being quiet.