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Monday, August 19, 2019
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  • Wednesday, August 14, 2019 4:00 AM
    I’m having fun singing. 
    I started singing lessons a few weeks ago. My teacher lives out of town, but every other week she teaches in her parents’ house—the house she grew up in—just a few minutes away. So, I drive to a little house in the suburbs, meet her parents’ two friendly little dogs, (“More people! So exciting!”) and take an hour-long voice lesson in my teacher’s childhood bedroom. 
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  • Tuesday, July 23, 2019 7:45 PM
    I’ve got a good friend, Ayo, who told me, “Don’t use your head to break a coconut.” 
    As I wrote about in my memoir, Blue Yarn, I lived in Lagos, Nigeria, for almost four years, and I met Ayo there. Ayo is a very smart woman and a voracious reader and she is full of good advice. Ayo is what they describe in Nigeria as “a serious person.” A serious person in Nigeria is one you can trust, someone who can be relied upon. 
    The advice Ayo generally gives, however, annoys me because it challenges the way I think. 
    “Have you considered going on YouTube?” Ayo asked me. My impression of YouTube video blogs (or “vlogs”) was that they were made by hyperactive young men with lots of tattoos. It annoyed me that Ayo thought I should do something so totally out of my comfort zone.
    She persisted. “People are hungry for distraction. Even your cat waving its tail will get viewers.”
    Now I was mildly insulted. She seemed to be implying I was almost as interesting as a cat’s behind. Plus, the whole idea scared the heck out of me. 
    But then I saw a vlog put up by a woman at least fifteen years older than me. She told a funny story about a marmot and I thought, “Wow. I could do that. That would actually be fun.” 
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  • Wednesday, July 17, 2019 4:00 AM
    Spring came late and so, appropriately, did the annual deep cleaning of the refrigerator. 
    A lot of stuff gets tucked into the refrigerator over the course of the winter. Obsolete condiments band together and take refuge deep in the corners. A thuggish-looking jar of jam wearing a cap of mold sidles up to an empty bottle of horseradish sauce and they both evade detection by skulking behind an oversized bag of sun-dried tomatoes. A stray stalk of celery becomes separated from the pack and is left alone to mummify. Unnoticed spills of unidentified liquids petrify into sticky footprints. 
    The whole refrigerator had begun to resemble some archeological site with mysterious remnants of a past life that we could now only guess at. 
    In our house this is a double challenge because my husband, Peter, removed the dishwasher from our small kitchen and replaced it with a second, smaller refrigerator. The little refrigerator is a lifesaver but it is not self-defrosting—something we have come to take for granted. Over the winter, the mini freezer of the auxiliary fridge had almost entirely filled with ice and we discovered it just before it triggered the next ice age. 
    So, on a sunny day, Peter and I tackled our respective duties. He was responsible for removing the glacier in the tiny fridge while I worked to identify the historical artifacts in the freezer of the main fridge. 
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  • Wednesday, July 10, 2019 1:34 AM
    My husband, Peter, decided to make friends with a raven. 
    We have a lot of ravens around our house. Ravens are smart birds and Peter did some research on them. They mate for life and can live to be seventeen years old in the wild. They learn to recognize people and will grow less afraid once they know someone. So, Peter decided he was going to leave small treats on the birdbath every day and let some raven couple get to know him. 
    At approximately the same time as Peter hatched his plan, we decided to replace one of our two pub chairs. But instead of setting it on the curb where it would have vanished like magic within twenty-four hours, Peter parked the old chair in front of the living room window and starting taking his morning coffee there, watching for ravens. 
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  • Wednesday, June 19, 2019 4:00 AM
    As long-time readers of The Postscript know, I do not delve into politics or current events. You might think this comes from a desire to find common ground with all my readers. You might think I am trying to bridge the divide in a time when there aren’t enough opportunities to examine the myriad of things we have in common. Or you might simply think I am a coward who wishes to avoid controversy. 
    You would all be wrong. I am simply too ill-informed to say anything intelligent about current events, certainly anything that hasn’t already been said a hundred times before. 
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  • Wednesday, June 12, 2019 7:58 AM
    My husband, Peter, and I just spent a couple of days staying with our scientist friends. 
    I’ve honestly never had scientist friends before, so there is a lot to learn. One of our scientist friends, Wolfgang, is responsible for filling the ice cube trays (which is my job at home) but seeing a scientist do it made me feel like a rank amateur. If there was competitive ice cube tray filling, Wolfgang would be in the elite ranking and I would not have made the preliminaries. 
    “What is he doing?” I whispered to Mary, Wolfgang’s scientist wife. 
    “He’s checking to see if the meniscus is even on all the cubes,” she told me. 
    I tried to look as if I understood. I failed. 
    “You know, the curvature of the water caused by surface tension.”
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  • Wednesday, June 5, 2019 2:02 PM
    My husband, Peter, is preparing for the End Times. 
    This might not be literally true, but it would certainly appear to be if you checked out the food supplies we have stashed away. Peter hates the fact that packages now contain less than they used to while the price continues to rise. He is infuriated when products substitute less quantity and quality and try to “get away with it.”
    “Whenever I find a product I like, they discontinue it or change it!” Peter laments. 
    I tell him he sounds like an old person. 
    Peter and I are getting to be old people—although we would never admit it. We met when we were both technically past “middle-age,” although I notice that “middle-age” seems to be a very elastic term. Not a lot of us are going to be around at 120, yet sixty still qualifies as “middle-age” to every sixty-year-old I know. 
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  • Wednesday, May 29, 2019 2:56 AM
    More than 10 years ago, I was living in Africa (Lagos, Nigeria, to be exact). My life was pretty much a shambles, but I refused to return to the U.S. 
    The reason I didn’t want to come back was because I could not for the life of me figure out what had happened. My husband of 22 years had left without warning. The company I was working my heart out for suddenly dumped me. I found myself in a foreign country (and a difficult one) with no job, no home, no husband, and the most incredible part about all of it—to me—was that I genuinely did not see any of it coming. 
    One day I came in from my run. I was living in yet another temporary apartment that I would have to vacate soon. I was doing freelance work to make enough money to get by (although I didn’t need a lot) and, on this day, I came in still covered in sweat and sat down at my computer. 
    I typed: People ask me what Lagos is like. I never tell them. It’s easier that way.
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  • Wednesday, May 22, 2019 9:31 PM
    I originally joined Facebook when a long-lost cousin sent me an invitation. 
    No one had heard from this cousin in ages when I got a note out of the blue. Facebook was relatively new then and I hadn’t considered joining. But I figured if I could reconnect with family I wouldn’t hear from otherwise, why not?
    Since then, I’ve become a writer, which means I sit by myself staring out the window for hours at a time. There are about 200 yards of sidewalk I watch most of the day like some sort of hypervigilant Neighborhood Watch. (Don’t even think about committing a crime on my 200 yards!) It gets a little lonely and Facebook has turned into my virtual watercooler. I imagine that my Facebook friends are distant officemates I can hang out with for a few minutes whenever I need a break, when no one has recently tried to commit a crime on the sidewalk, or I have run fresh out of ideas. 
    So, when I finally got a signed contract for my book, I was naturally very excited and did what a lot of us do when we are excited about anything—I posted it on Facebook. 
    It was wonderful getting congratulations from all parts of my life—friends from all over and distant family members. Everyone wished me well and joined in my celebration over this milestone accomplishment.
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  • Wednesday, May 8, 2019 2:51 AM
    I saw him just a moment too late, coming down the path. 
    I wasn’t expecting anyone to come down this section of the trail. No one ever did. At least I never saw anyone, which is why I was messing around with the pine cones.
    Okay, I better start at the top. 
    The whole thing started because there was a line of pinecones crossing the trail and it caught my attention. It was just few enough that it could have happened by chance. Did it? I stopped and looked at them. Then, just because I couldn’t help myself, I suppose, I straightened up the line. Then I added a few more until there was a perfect line of pinecones running across the trail. This pleased me probably more than I should admit. 
    The next day, the line was intact, but the day after that my line was all messed up. Was it deer? Were humans responsible? Now I was curious. So, I straightened out my line and made it a bit longer. It became my little thing. Okay, it became one of the many little things I do that I think of as harmless but a less charitable person might view as a latent compulsive disorder or early onset dementia. 
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  • Wednesday, May 1, 2019 2:10 AM
    My husband, Peter, is at war with a hummingbird. I try to explain to him the essential unfairness of this. The hummingbird has a brain smaller than the end of Peter’s finger.
    “This is a battle of wits!” Peter announced. I knew my money should be on Peter but I had my doubts.
    This particular hummingbird incurred Peter’s wrath when it chased away all the smaller, less aggressive hummingbirds leaving only this one, brightly colored bully at the feeder. I suggested to Peter that he might be getting a little too emotionally involved. But Peter has a story to accompany every animal we encounter (including the now-banished hummingbirds) and all these stories are, coincidently, tragic.
    “Did you see that coyote who is always by himself?” Peter asked me one morning. The coyotes are moving closer into town and it is no longer remarkable to see one strolling down the sidewalk. “His tail has almost no fur!
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  • Wednesday, April 24, 2019 4:00 AM
    Getting my hair cut has never been one of my favorite things, but lately it’s been worse than usual because the town I live in has a shortage of hair stylists and I have a shortage of hair. 
    In order to get a haircut, I had to make an appointment weeks in advance. I was complaining about this to my husband, Peter. He said, (as he always does) “I’ll cut your hair!” 
    “Right.”
    When the big day of the appointment arrived, I was asked to fill out a full page of questions about my hair styling goals (I had none) and my body shape. My choices were: “apple, pear, or banana.” 
    I was stumped. I couldn’t see that I looked anything like either a pear or an apple, but I would have to be considerably more stooped to resemble a banana. I opted for banana, thinking it might be where I was headed in a few years, but I was completely bewildered as to what this had to do with my haircut. 
    When I finally got into the chair, I explained to a cheerful stylist named Monica that I simply didn’t have much hair to work with and she was free to do whatever she felt best.
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  • Wednesday, April 17, 2019 4:00 AM
    I’ll tell you what no one wants to talk about: their toes.
    I could get people to discuss intimate details of their financial or their love lives before they would open up about their feet. Oh, sure, there are exceptions. 
    “I just had my first pedicure of the season!” says a friend of mine, showing off her toes with a stylish French pedicure in a pair of bright red sandals. I am also wearing sandals and make sure my feet are hidden under my chair as I compliment her lovely toes. 
    (Lovely toes! I think. Who has lovely toes over the age of 50? It’s unnatural.)
    The undeniable fact is, while our personalities get richer, our humor evolves, and our empathy grows, our feet just get uglier by the year. I once met a woman who said it was a requirement for every older woman to paint her toenails. 
    “Otherwise,” she insisted, “you look Amish or dead.” 
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  • Wednesday, April 10, 2019 4:00 AM
    I am lucky to have good neighbors. 
    It’s especially nice I get along with everyone because I spend so much time at home, sitting at my desk, looking out my window and pretending to write. Pretending to write requires a lot of time looking out the window and the neighbors I see most directly when I do are Charles and Joanna. 
    Charles and Joanna are no longer young. They have a comfortable home that sits on the edge of the forest and rarely have visitors. I don’t know the details of their life—and I don’t need to. 
    I know Charles has a routine each morning where he drives into town, picks up a free newspaper at the senior center, gets a free cup of coffee at the bank, stops by Starbucks for free cream to put in his coffee, then returns home. He does this every day the bank is open. I know he is proud of his ingenuity. 
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