My father died three years ago today.

Oddly enough, Elli is the one who reminded me of the date’s significance earlier this week, with a loving email from the other side of the world. But, of course, it was creeping in around the corners of my consciousness even before I read her email.

While the sunny-side of my brain was busy writing about John Donne and researching colonial foodways, renewing library books and organizing bills, thinking up dinners and planning Christmas lists, it was also fielding quiet messages from my mind’s shadowy side… messages that seemed to be obscure and insignificant memories… but when I look closer, I see that they all point to one day.

I miss you, Dad. I always will. I’m still finding jokes I want to tell you, goofy Christmas presents to make you laugh, people I want you to meet, stories I hope would make you proud.

I wish you’d met The Fella. He and I had planned to visit on that day, this day three years ago, bringing a Christmas tree for Mom… because he’d asked if he could do something, anything, to help her, to help you. I wish you could have known him, his fierce quiet intelligence, his wit, his impossibly good heart. I wish you could have seen how happy he makes me.

I wish… I wish a lot of things. But really, there’s not so much to wish for as there might be. You had a good life, even at the end of it. And you’re remembered with love and (never underestimate this) with laughter. I haven’t had a BLT since this one, but I think it’s time.

Fill our hearts with thankfulness;
Fill our hearts with grace,
Smile on our celebrations
And then bless us on our way.
HDS, November 24th, 2005



At a post-Thanksgiving family gathering, my almost-18-year-old niece A and I are watching 3-year-old K play tirelessly with her blanket. K lays the blanket on the floor, lies full-length in it, and rolls herself up like a little burrito. She sits in the center and folds the corners up around her, over her head. Standing, she rolls herself in it head to toe and jumps with all her wobbly might. She lays it out on the floor, climbs onto a chair, and launches herself out into space, landing with a striking thump in the center of her blanket.

I turn to A and say speculatively, “I just want to sit her in the blanket, wrap it up over her, grab it by all four corners, and swing it around over my head.”

A nods sagely and says, in a considering tone, “We learned about that in my psychology class. It’s called giving voice to the id.”

three good things

Three high points in my weekend:

I finished my Renaissance lit paper 90 minutes before my (self-imposed) deadline of 10 p.m. Saturday night! (I have a second unrelated paper due this week in an unrelated class, so I needed to leave myself time for both.)

During a family lunch Sunday, The Fella’s three-year-old niece P. started getting restless, so she and I went on walkabout. We romped in the puddles on the restaurant’s empty deck, we sang the Veruca Salt song, and we sat on the bench thoughtfully placed before the theatrically large woodburning pizza oven, at which point P. snuggled into my side and murmured “I just want it to be Auntie Elsa and P. all the time forever, okay?”

Upon returning home and before turning back to my studies, I climbed up on the kitchen counter with a pair of pliers, a screwdriver, and all the foul language I could muster, and rethreaded the counter-weights in the kitchen window, which has been jammed open for a couple of days now. A couple of rainy days.

So. Yeah. I’m feeling pretty awesome.


A snippet of phone conversation to illustrate Christmas giftgiving in my family:

Gaoo: Well, it’s kind of a spoiler, but I thought you might like this present before Christmas… I bought you a tin of yeast*.
Elsa: Did you? YAY!

*It’s the enormous catering-sized packet of yeast, bigger and cheaper and inexplicably better than I can buy at my grocery. It’s a great present that Gaoo gives me every so often, and one that routinely baffles friends if I mention it.

to the isogloss!

If you’d grown up with him, you’d be astonished that his blog consists of more than chattering synopses of Gilligan’s Island episodes delivered over the dinner table with a disarming disregard for parental strictures against talking with one’s mouth full*.

Unbelievably, my brother shook off the yoke of his early narrative conventions and has gone on to glory: nominated for best expatriate weblog in the Third Annual Satin Pajamas Awards at Fistful of Euros.

C’mon. Help a brother out.
*Make fun of me for bouncing on the bed, will you?


Yesterday, my almost-sixteen year old niece A. and I went on our annual Christmas do-nothing day. I meet her after school, we head down to the Old Port and drink cocoa in the hipster coffeehouse, we wander around looking idly at all the goodies in the shops, we perhaps buy a present but I’m not saying. In short, we goof.
Within two or three minutes of meeting yesterday, we had giggled twice over the unbidden emergence of our catchphrase for the day.

We have no goals or tasks planned, so it’s a brief respite from all the planned festivity and gift-gathering hysteria of December. Also, since she’s awesomeness itself, just being with her makes me happy.

My favorite moment, though, happened as we strolled down Exchange St., just after leaving the toy store. A. turned to me and said, “You know what song I’ve got in my head.”

“Uh… no.”

And she quietly sang, “Reno Dakota, there’s not an iota…”

And we harmonized down the street:

“… of kindness in you
You know you enthrall me
And yet you don’t call me
It’s making me blue
Pantone 292
Reno Dakoto I’m reaching my quota
of tears for the year
Alas and alack you just don’t call me back
You have just disappeared
It makes me drink beer
I know you’re a recluse
You know that’s no excuse
That’s just a ruse
Do not play fast and loose with my heeeeeeeeeeeeeeart”