I don’t know about other Connecticut residents, but one of the things I love about living here is it was home to Mark Twain, whose observations about nature and life are spot on. One of my favorite Twain quotes is “Climate is what we expect. Weather is what we get. If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes.” I think this is part of the reason I no longer consult Weather.com. I’ll leave that to my guy friends and husband. We tend to complain a lot about the weather in Connecticut, but we’re treated to two beautiful displays of foliage every year in spring and fall.
I met a marvelous woman nearly 20 years ago who fostered one of my children as a newborn.
We exchanged Christmas cards over the years, but never saw each other until last January, when she wrote and asked if she could meet with us. We met over a classic 1960s Long Island lunch of deli sandwiches and potato salad in my kitchen. We talked about getting together again, but life got busy. She was caring for her elderly father in upstate Connecticut. He died last winter, leaving her to sort through his things and clear out his house.
She and her husband moved to a condo in May, but we finally got together on Wednesday. We decided on a hike because the weather was glorious. Though we barely know each other, we chatted non-stop for nearly three hours. We covered everything from dogs to how cruel people can be. Case in point: her adult son provided respite care to two teen-agers while their foster family took a week vacation. A week turned into six weeks, and you guessed it, the family said they didn’t want the girls back.
I’ve heard of people doing this to animals, not kids. If someone did that to a dog or cat, they’d be charged with cruelty to animals. If there’s not a law on the books to charge foster parents with abandonment in these situations, there needs to be. That behavior is inhuman and should be punished.
Her son’s family did the decent thing, taking on the girls as foster children. Their family of four went to six overnight, but they’re managing. When she asked her 12-year-old biological granddaughter how she felt going from the oldest to a middle child, she told her she loves having big sisters because they do her hair. Sounds like a pretty well-adjusted kid.
Women love to bare their souls during walks and runs. It doesn’t matter if we know each other or not. Put us in sneakers, give us an open road or trail and we’re drawn together like magnets. Everything is on the table: incurable illnesses, marital strife, the DMV, wedding planning. Men, not so much. I go hiking with my husband and struggle to keep the conversation rolling. I’ve been running with a guy for the past three weeks and the only thing I know about him is his first name is Pat.
Maybe we can chalk it up to the fact that men and women really do come from different planets. My husband read, “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” during a recent trip and loved sharing excerpts with me. I only wish that he had waited until we were on a walk to discuss it.
My take on transient: In a scene reminiscent of John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath,” seasonal workers huddle to pick ripe strawberries at a Connecticut farm. The women agreed to be photographed as long as their faces were concealed.
I meddled in a tiny incident of road rage tonight in my leafy Connecticut suburb and was told by a creep in a black pick-up truck that I could “f– off too.”
I don’t ordinarily get involved. You never know who’s packing, but this guy was screaming at an old man in what bordered on elder verbal abuse. My only regret is I didn’t get his license plate or a video.
Here’s what happened:
The pickup truck driver was heading down a main road and wanted to make a left turn onto a side street leading to our beautiful New England green. He waved the driver out, but he didn’t move. So Pick-up Man made the turn and proceeded to shout “You’re in the middle of the road and I’m trying to let you out you douchebag. I hope you choke on your f—— ice cream.” He actually backed up so he could scream directly into the car window.
I looked at the guy like he was insane and that’s when he fired the F-bomb at me. I think you know what I said back. I’m sharing this because there are jerks everywhere and no community is immune. Our town suffered its latest incident of hatred today when a racial slur was spray-painted on a house.
I’m saddened by this incident, but not surprised. Over the past several months, I’ve seen increasing signs of disrespect around town, including littered streets, smashed mailboxes (including mine), damaged Realtor signs, drivers failing to give cyclists, walkers and runners a decent berth, honking horns and tailgating.
When I first moved to Guilford, CT., 14 years ago, I was charmed by its slower pace and general laid-back vibe. I lived here for eight years without hearing a car horn, even at a right turn on red. People waved you into parking spaces at the supermarket and nearly everyone returned their shopping carts.
I recently met a guy who decided to move here in part because of the supermarket parking lot. He said he and his wife surveyed the lot and were impressed by its blend of white and blue collar vehicles: pick-up trucks, old Saabs, General Motors’ and Ford sedans and sprinkled with some luxury cars. Today, not so much.
You never know where jerks will surface. The guy getting ice cream tonight never expected to get a verbal lashing with his cone. I guess all we can hope for is not becoming jerks too.
I like to get up close and personal with my subjects, but sometimes it’s just a blur.
I went to a tag sale looking for a small desk or vanity. I left with a wooden whale bearing the message “Save the Room.”
The whale was hard to spot, a white blob in a tangle of extension cords in a ragged red laundry basket. But once I saw it and the cursive message scrawled in black Sharpie, I wanted to know more.
The owner, a Cape Cod-area artist, made the whale in a last-ditch attempt to save his recovery meeting room at a nearby church. He says people are so hopped up on coffee that they can’t keep quiet at their dawn meeting. That would be OK except the noise angered some neighbors, who wanted them out.
With their meeting place in jeopardy, everybody tried to behave. When things got loud, people shouted “Hey be quiet,” which just made more noise. It’s like the mother on her lounge chair during my recent trip South. She implored her boisterous sons to behave “because everyone’s trying to relax.” They weren’t annoying, but she was. I finally retreated to a hammock out of her range. Note to Mom: When you tell kids to stop, follow through. If your pleas are ignored, let the boys play.
Much like the kids, the meeting-goers ignored repeated pleas to turn down the volume, so the artist made the whale. At first, he scribbled “Quiet please!” on it. When that failed, he got desperate: “Save the Room.”
I think you know what happened. The artist eventually brought the whale home, where it sat in his house gathering dust. It ended up on his front lawn with some old furniture, home goods, sports equipment and a scooter. He’s making room for an in-home studio, happily selling me the whale, a ceramic teapot, flower stand and handmade mirror for $20. Oh, and as a parting gift, I got a tiny painting.
The meetings? Still loud. “They’re all a bunch of boneheads,” said the artist, shaking his head.
I cleaned the whale and plan to hang it in my kitchen. I think I’ll use the “Save the Room” side or paint it. Asking people to be quiet in a kitchen makes no sense at all.
Neatly bundled bouquets await orders at Roses for Autism in Guilford, CT.
I’m a little late to the party on this week’s challenge, mainly because I had so much to choose from. Here’s my pick: my two buddies Lesly Wagner, left, and Wendy Renz at a Pickleball tournament in April to raise money for Parkinson’s research. The two have raised thousands of dollars since Wendy’s diagnosis a few years ago.
I was pretty late to the “This Is Us” bandwagon, but I’ve caught up and love it. My friends say they cry every episode, but I don’t because I’m living it. Well, sort of.
My 15-year-old daughter met her birth mother the same night I started watching it. It was the episode where Randall gets really sad and angry when he realizes his adoptive mother Rebecca knew his birth father and didn’t tell him. Talk about life imitating art.
I used to be like Rebecca, accepting of birth parents somewhere out yonder, but relieved they weren’t in the picture. I wasn’t afraid they’d want custody, but I was fearful that my daughter would somehow love us less if she met them.
But when a medical condition came up and a doctor asked for a history, I didn’t have one. I called the adoption agency and learned the records are missing. It was time to get over myself and do some digging. I sent both birth parents emails and they both got back to me immediately. They provided medical info, and were eager for a relationship with my daughter.
We met her birth mom in March and we’re going on our second “date” on Sunday at her birth mother’s place. So far, it’s been great for everyone, especially my daughter who jokes that she has to deal with “four parents.”
What I’ve learned is it’s never good to hide the truth because in a sense, you’re living in an imaginary world. It takes a huge amount of energy to keep secrets, and in the end, nobody wins. You feel like a fraud, and your child wonders why you hid the truth. You think you’re protecting them, shielding them from the pain of abandonment, but in the end I believe they’ll love you more for being honest.
I live in Connecticut, where there’s a bill pending that would open records for all adoptees. Currently, only adoptees born after 1983 have the right to see their original birth certificates. Opponents argue that birth mothers were guaranteed lifetime anonymity when they surrendered their parental rights, but get this: after their death, birth records are unsealed. In other words, you can find out who gave birth to you only after they’re dead.
I think my sister Patty put it best: “Can you imagine finding out your mother had a child and didn’t tell you about it? You’d always wonder what other secrets she had.”